open thread – November 2-3, 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.

{ 1,433 comments… read them below }

    1. Amber Rose*

      I was terrified for a minute. If it’s Friday, I completely missed my plans for Thursday night and all my meetings. D:

        1. curly sue*

          This thread terrified me for a moment before I checked both the date stamps on these messages and my own computer’s calendar.

          I need more coffee.

          1. Psyche*

            Yep. That confused me too. I was wondering why so many people think it is Thursday and then saw your comment and checked the dates on those. I feel better now.

  1. Same here*

    My coworker is apparently complaining constantly about how I don’t like him. I will admit that he does annoy me, but I don’t think I have ever let it show, or at least I didn’t mean to. Should I talk to him or try to do anything about this?

    1. Same here*

      Sigh. I was excited I might get some responses since I made it in early and just realized it’s the wrong day so this whole post will likely be deleted. My luck.

        1. Lumen*

          So are they coming to you to gossip about it? Maybe ask them why they’re telling you what Fergus is saying. I’m honestly curious. Do *they* think it’s a serious problem that you two need to address?

        2. Close Bracket*

          Many responses are making this Not That Big of a Deal, but a coworker who complains about you to others can turn into a big deal. It can, rightly or wrongly, turn into “Same here is difficult to work with.” I wouldn’t confront him directly, but I would ask your coworkers for more info. Do use some of the disarming language that others have suggested, like, “Is that right? How odd, I don’t have any problems with him. Does he say anything specific, that maybe I could change?” Suggesting that you will change will build good will, and there might actually be things that you should change. If you can build a better picture of what his problem is, you might be able to strengthen the relationship. It would be nice if people could be adults and tell Fergus, “well, you won’t be friends with everyone you work with, so unless Same here is actually impacting your work, shut it.” But sometimes it turns into, “Same here, Fergus thinks you don’t like him. Going forward, we need you to commit to repairing that relationship. Can you do that?”

          Are you a woman? Regardless of gender, is it possible that Fergus’s problem is that you don’t smile enough or some garbage like that? Bc even that can cause problems with perception with your coworkers: “Man, I can see why Fergus says that stuff about Same here.”

          Lastly, does Fergus cause a problem with *your* work? Bc repairing relationships with coworkers, when there genuinely is a misperception about you, is very worthy and stuff, but if his perceived dislike from you means he doesn’t work well with you, then you might have to bring in your manager. Of course, that is a judgement call, bc not all managers will deal with him, or deal with him effectively (going back to things becoming a “Same here is hard to work with” thing.)

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I agree. I don’t think I’d ignore it.

            OP, you might be doing something more obvious than you think that shows that Fergus annoys you. I know I’ve done it myself. I’d start with whoever told you this and ask what their perception is. Maybe ask if they have noticed you doing anything that would give him this idea. To a certain extent it’s probably just Fergus being immature and/or entitled but depending on the dynamics in your office, and how much influence Fergus has, it will probably behoove you to be more performative in showing that you don’t dislike him.

    2. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      – Ask for specifics

      – Have someone with you

      If he’s constantly complaining but doesn’t have specifics, then the problem is him not you. Have someone with you when you do this, or at least talk to your boss or another co-worker – someone to back you up and know what you’re doing.

      By specifics, I mean things like, “You sigh at me every time I talk” not “I just get the impression you don’t like me”.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Specifics are key. I knew someone upset because a co-worker looking to one side — and co-worker had a migraine so couldn’t see from the center of her field of vision. Because they both said something it got smoothed over quickly.
        Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Generally not a good rabbit hole to scramble down into. You probably won’t win that much.

      Tell the people who are saying this that he is welcome to come talk to you at any point. Tell them you are fine with working with him, you have no issues with him. If the situation continues gently let folks know that you really meant it when you said they should encourage him to talk things over with you.

      Then let it go.
      People do not have to like each other they just have to work together with basic respect in place. Not everyone is for everyone and that is okay.

      1. neverjaunty*

        This. Why are these people telling you what he’s saying, anyway? This is an excellent way to shut them down as well as him.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yeah this. Your other coworkers are being childish here, too. “Jane, I honestly have no problems working with Fergus. He’s welcome to come talk to me if he wants to. And if you’d like to do something, rather than just coming to tell me he’s at it again, encourage him to speak to me about his concerns. I don’t want to field secondhand complaints from someone who isn’t willing to address them directly with me. Now I’ve got to get back to those TPS reports.”

        Rinse and repeat.

      3. Anon Accountant*

        I love this and wish we could post it at workplaces. People don’t have to like each other they just have to work together wish basic respect. 100% agree

    4. Holly*

      How constant is it? If it was just a few one off statements to people, I’d just try and ask a peer you trust if you come off a certain way towards him, and if so, try to change that, without involving him directly. However, if it’s literally constant and becoming a topic of discussion, I’d consider talking with him about it.

    5. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      Ha, next time he complains just say “well, the constant complaining about how I don’t like you certainly doesn’t help.”

      I actually am only half joking there…

      But next time he brings it up, you could just say “Yeah, no, you’re right, I don’t want to be friends with you, I don’t think we really have compatible personalities. Luckily, I don’t have to like you to work well with you. Can you please focus on working well with me from here on out?”

      Just take the personal out of it. It’s a bit cold, but it’s probably better than 1) continuing to hear him complain about it, or 2) going out of your way to pretend you like him, which is sending the wrong signal.

      1. Quackeen*

        But he isn’t complaining directly to Same here. Same here is hearing about it from other parties.

    6. ThankYouRoman*

      Complaining constantly? About you not liking him? Is your coworker also in the 8th grade? Heck, I don’t like him either, he can complain about that instead ;)

      But really, ignore it. If you’re not being icy and rude to him, he needs to grow up. Not your circus unless your boss seems to take issue with it or you. Possibly loop the boss in if they don’t know so they can weigh in. Don’t talk to this guy and play his game without support.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        This is very eighth grade. As a middle school teacher I see this a lot, and it’s generally a reflection of personal turmoil brought on by something else (problems at home, onset of puberty). OP, please just let people know that you are welcome to speaking with him at any time. I’d encourage you to be generous if you can be, since it sounds like your coworker is struggling. Good luck!

    7. LKW*

      Well it showed enough that he recognizes it -or you said something to someone and it got back to him. You may want to ask someone you trust if your behavior is less than respectful or professional.
      Anytime someone comes with a complaint to you – and it’s not him – just turn it back to him “Hmmm, he’s never said anything to me. Goodness if he’s upset he should come talk to me. ”
      You don’t have to be fake but whatever you’re doing – it’s not working.

    8. Laurelma01*

      Go to him and let him know you are aware of what’s being said about you. I had a co-worker years ago that was studying to be a minister. You said something about someone, he would run and tell them what was said and who said it. I got frustrated and told him he’s repeating everything and not maintaining confidences would make him a lousy minister. He was the worse gossip.

      20 some years later he’s working a high paying job, but isn’t a minister. Am wondering if he thought about what I had said.

    9. AMA Long-time Lurker*

      Had the exact situation at work, Same here – IMO, the best approach is to cheerfully disagree when people bring this to you, state that you do enjoy working with him, and most importantly, be cheerful to this person himself. That’s all you can do! If you are professional and cordial with him and this coworker is still claiming that you don’t “like him,” then people will figure out that he’s being too sensitive or gossipy. I was in this exact same situation and eventually figured out that my coworker’s interpretation of me “not liking him” was because I had not made plans to hang out with him outside of work and because he felt like I didn’t tell him enough about my personal life – i.e., he really wanted to be friends, and I just wanted to be coworkers. You might be in the same situation, and your only job is to be a good coworker!

    10. Washi*

      Do you have a sense if he is generally well-liked? If he’s generally considered to be kind of annoying around the office, him complaining like this probably won’t reflect badly on you (as long as he has nothing specific to complain about, it sounds like you aren’t being deliberately mean or anything.)

      But if he is well liked and you’re worried about your reputation, it’s probably worth being really careful about how you behave around him and maybe showing a little extra warmth and friendliness. For your own benefit more than his!

    11. Jaguar*

      You should start by clarifying to yourself what you hope to accomplish. Do you want him to stop and that’s it? Do you want to fix the working relationship? Do you want to get past your own annoyances with him? Those all have different solutions (the first one might not have any good solutions).

    12. LilySparrow*

      Well, the complaining co-worker isn’t your problem at the moment. The issue here is that you have gossipy co-workers who are trying to stir up drama. For all you know, he may not be complaining at all, or far less than is being portrayed. I have never encountered a gossip who was careful about truthfulness or accuracy. And I’ve encountered many who would make up stories out of whole cloth just to get a drama started so they could watch.

      I’d advise a shrug, with a non-committal comment like, “Huh. Really? That’s wierd because I’ve got no issue with him.” Make your response as boring and bland as possible, because it’s very likely the gossips will carry it back to Mr Annoying, with plenty of embroidery on top.

      Then walk away, refuse to discuss it further, and most importantly — never, ever tell the gossip anything personal about yourself or anyone else.

    13. restingbutchface*

      Depends on how much you trust the people telling you this. I was once pulled in by my boss who said she had heard I had been complaining about her “loudly, all day”. I was shocked until I realised someone had overheard me chatting to my SO on the phone about a friend’s pet who had a similar name to my boss. Fairly embarrassing to have to explain I was talking about Georgie, my friend’s badly behaved poodle and not, you know, the woman who pays my wages. She did believe me, thank God.

      Worst case scenario, this coworker confided in someone (we all vent) and they’ve run off to stir the pot.

      Let us know what you decide? But don’t assume the worst, this is second hand at best.

    14. Girl friday*

      It’s probably two things. First, he probably doesn’t like you and this is the criticism that has merit, so it rankles. It’s probably not his only criticism. Second, people leak what they feel about people without realizing it, but at least that’s something you can work on. Try to find something admirable and focus on that. I second the idea of not being alone with them. Men sometimes use the fact that they rarely complain, or at least complain less than women verbally, to give their complaints merit that the complaints don’t have. I wouldn’t worry too much about it. And tell the gossiper to go away, that person is up to no good. in the future, whenever someone annoys you, take it as a red flag and handle it before anyone notices! Use this to your benefit. We tend to waffle around about our feelings, but people pick up on these things very quickly. :-)

    15. HLK1219HLK*

      I worked in an office once with the world’s most insecure junior teapot worker (nickname if Little Evil or LE). She would pick different targets and the conversations went like this:
      LE: Hi Target A, I just wanted to talk because I heard you were upset or angry with me.
      Target A: What? No! Why would I be upset with you?
      LE: I don’t know, I just know a couple of people mentioned that they didn’t think you liked me or that I had done something to offend you.
      Target A: Wow, no, I’m not upset. You haven’t done anything wrong or anything to offend me. Maybe they misunderstood something, but I don’t see how because I really haven’t said anything about you or your work so this is just weird.
      LE: Oh good. I just thought I would apologize if I had upset you & made you not like me.
      Target A: Of course I like you, so that makes this all the more bizarre. You’re doing fine, etc.

      LE wanders off having gotten her daily affirmation that someone liked her. In the days/weeks to come, she would latch onto Target A like a leech, following them around, trying to go to lunch with them, dressing like them (not kidding). Going into an office and shutting the door didn’t work because she would either stand outside knocking softly until the Target opened the door, or would hang outside the door until they emerged and then pounce with her lunch invitation. This went on until Target A got tired of having a stalker and told LE to back off and find a new target. This happened to me a few times until I caught on to her pattern. After that I made it clear that if I was ever upset at her or with something she had done then I would tell her directly, but until then, she needed to stop asking.

      The best day ever though was when she tried this on a new guy who was kind of a curmudgeon. I was in the next cube over so I heard everything. She launched into her “I heard people say you’re mad with me” and he turned the anger dial up to max. He demanded to know who was saying he was mad at her. She backpedaled and started trying to cover, but he didn’t let her. “My reputation is on the line and if you heard someone lying about me, I am going to file a complaint with HR, so you need to tell me NOW.” She was sputtering and trying to get away, but he wouldn’t have it. “The call can wait! We’re going to the Director of HR RIGHT now and we are going to fill out a report listing every single thing said by every person you talked to!” He stood up like he was going to march on the tower or something. She gave up trying to cover and took off running.

      I had to go over to high five him for that. See, I had warned him about LE when he first got hired and placed in the cube next to mine. He wasn’t going to go to HR anymore than she was talking to her imaginary others. But props to him because she never tried that crap with him or anyone he sat near for the rest of the time I worked there (I heard years later she never quit playing her “are you mad” game so unfortunately he didn’t scare her 100% straight).

      For the record, we did report her stalking to HR. However, she a) had a medical condition that was readily apparent; and b) had a habit of filing protected class discrimination complaints, so they let her carry on.

  2. Not Maeby But Surely*

    I am having such anxiety over asking my former supervisor for a reference, as I consider moving on from my current job. I think it’s because they are now the President of a different company. I feel like it’s such a bother; please tell me I’m overthinking it. This person is the only supervisor I can ask, because all my other supervisors are still at my current POE. Related question: when you have such few options for superiors to be a reference for you, is it acceptable to ask co-workers whom you have mentored, trained, or even supervised (in the past, I’m not supervising any of them currently) to be your reference? I feel like a hiring manager might not put a lot of weight on their references, but my options are so so limited right now.

    1. OhGee*

      I still use a department chair from graduate school (he was technically my supervisor) as a reference, even though he’s now the dean of the college under which the department falls. He’s even busier than he was before, but I just make sure to give him a quick heads up via email if someone is likely to get in touch so he knows to flag it for his assistant. Just ask, politely and in advance by at least a few days!

    2. Dragoning*

      I would ask your previous supervisor for a reference, perhaps in addition to the coworkers, since you often need more than one. Do you have coworkers who trained YOU or supervised you in some way?

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        Unfortunately, due to my longevity here (17 years), the aforementioned boss is the only supervisor/trainer I can ask – all the others are still at this current place of employment and would not be able to maintain confidentiality due to needing to put the company first. If I was sure I was leaving the industry, I could ask the ones still here, but at this point I might want to stay in this field. If they think I might go to work for the competition, I would be let go immediately, which is my company’s standard practice. This conundrum is one of the reasons I feel stuck at my current job. :(

    3. Rincat*

      It’s not a bother for them, even as a company president! I’m sure they have provided references for other people. They’re not off limits simply because of their title.

      I would try to find coworkers who mentored or trained you – not the other way around. Because then that will speak to more of the things a manager is interested in. I have a couple of former coworkers like that, and used them as references when I was looking for my current job. At this point I have enough former supervisors, however if I was looking again, I would still use the more recent coworker who mentored me vs the former supervisor from over 10 years ago, especially because my coworker was mentoring me on tasks more relevant to my career now.

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        RE: your 2nd paragraph – due to the details I posted in a reply above, I have very limited options for people in a mentoring/training/supervisory role over me. Anyone that doesn’t fall into the categories above is either long-since retired (as in, over 10 years ago) or deceased. Where else might someone in a situation like this find a good reference? I do have a long-term volunteering gig, but all that person would be able to speak to is my general ability to learn things & follow instructions, and my willingness to help out extra as needed. Pretty soft skills for someone to speak to. The volunteer gig is unrelated to my career. Also, I’ve just remembered one other person I can probably ask. Would having only 2 references be a red flag? If I explained how my longevity was a factor, would that help turn the flag yellow or green? Seems this might be what is meant when they say you can shoot yourself in the foot staying one place for too long.

        1. Rincat*

          I would just go with coworkers then. The volunteer person wouldn’t hurt, but I’d try to do 3 people from your workplace. Most employers understand if you don’t have a lot of options for truly supervisory people. I think what is more important is people who can speak to your more recent skills and experience. Certainly someone you mentored or trained is not a bad reference – they can still speak to how you work with others, how well you take feedback, etc.

    4. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      If they’re a President, they’re probably getting paid a pretty good wage, so I assure you you shouldn’t feel bad about taking a couple minutes to help you out. :) It’s their job to protect their time, not yours.

      And while you should ideally have more than one supervisor as a reference I think most employers would welcome a reference from someone you supervised (if you don’t supervise them currently), especially if you’re applying to a management position. How you are as a manager is an important part of your performance in a management job! I wouldn’t submit them at the expense of submitting a supervisor reference, but as a supplement, they’re great.

      (And, ultimately, you gotta do what you gotta do to make the numbers work!)

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        Thanks – your reasoning is basically what mine was. Part of the reason I want to move on is to move up into a supervisory role again, which is not available at my co. anytime in the next 5 years or more. I was thinking it would be beneficial to have people say, ‘yes, this person was good at training/explaining/etc., and here’s why I say so.’

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The people who say yes are surprising.
      Don’t dwell on this any more. Just shoot him an email and ask.
      The higher up the ladder people get the more they realize that it is a privilege and a social obligation to further other people’s careers.
      If you want, build an easy out into the request such as “I realize you maybe too busy right now…” or something he can grab on to and ease out of the request if he chooses.

    6. OtterB*

      I once served as a reference for someone who used to supervise me. Neither of us were still at the original organization. It was a small organization where the only one above my old supervisor was the owner, and he had been there long enough that he didn’t have anything relevant from previous jobs. It’s probably not ideal but I think it worked okay.

    7. Looking looking*

      I am anxious here as well, I’ve reached out to ask a former supervisor for reference but they haven’t replied. It’s only been 2 days but I’m so nervous already! what if they say no????

    8. ThankYouRoman*

      Asking for a reference is typical stuff that anyone in a high power role expects to be asked for, even if they’re at a different company by the time a request is made.

      They’re welcome to say “no”, you’re not banging on their door wailing until they give in or something. It’s a standard business interaction!

    9. Hallowflame*

      Definitely reach out to your former supervisor, it is completely appropriate to ask them for a reference.
      You should definitely ask co-workers and/or former co-workers as well. They can give valuable insight into how you are to work with that a supervisor may not have, and for those that you have supervised or mentored in the past, they can speak to your managerial skills. Just be sure you have no supervisory influence over them now, to avoid any conflict of interest.

    10. DaffyDuck*

      It is a bright spot in my day whenever I can give someone a good reference. If you were a good employee certainly reach out and ask! Most normal people are happy to see others growing in their careers and doing well.

    11. NACSACJACK*

      Thank you for asking this question. I’ve worked at my place for over 20 years and most of my prior supervisors and managers either still work for the company in the same department I do, have long since retired or I have no contact information for them. One of them never responded to a LINKEDIN message.

      1. Not Maeby But Surely*

        It’s a tough spot to be in! It sometimes feels like I’m doomed to be at CurrentJob forever.

    12. restingbutchface*

      As a manager, I always have a reference from my second in command – someone who can tell the caller what I’m like to work for. I love it when people I am interviewing do the same so don’t assume it’s not worth anything. What could this president say about you, really? I want to hear from the person who sat with you every day.

      As long as you’re not currently managing them, I don’t see it as a conflict either. See it as a positive, don’t tell potential employers that you didn’t want to bother this other dude!

    13. Jane of All Trades*

      You should definitely reach out and ask him. Providing references is very common request, and in my experience people who have enjoyed working with you are happy to help you further your career by providing a reference.
      As far as I understand this thread, it appears that they are not a recent reference though. I know you are hesitant to talk to your supervisor, but if you have a good relationship with somebody at your job who does or did supervise or mentor you, maybe feel them out to see if they’d be available to provide a reference confidentially? I have done this for coworkers, and have had supervisors do this for me. You could even say that you’ll provide a reference from current supervisors but only as the very last step in the process because they are all at your current place of work.

    14. SemiRetired*

      Of my three references last time I applied for a job, two were retired and one of those was a colleague who knew my working style from 20+ years sitting in meetings together or other projects. My third was another former colleague who was still employed but had managed an adjacent department. I too had a lack of still living but not employed at the same place former bosses. If you’re still in touch with the retired ones, they can be good references, as well as people who know your work well even if they haven’t managed you.

    15. JulieCanCan*

      Absolutely ask your former supervisor you’re definitely overthinking it! I’m sure he’ll be happy to help you.
      I know it feels weird to ask for stuff like this but it’s pretty standard. Don’t worry – just ask and get it over with.
      Good luck with your job search!

  3. psychresearcher*

    When you ask for a raise, is there an unspoken expectation that you’ll stay in the position for a certain amount of time if/after said raise is given? Six months? A year? Or is this not a thing?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      If you get a raise? Or if you explicitly ask for it and then get it? I don’t think there’s a specified amount of time, but if you ask for a raise and then leave a month later, that seems to be asking in bad faith, especially if your boss had to go to bat for you to get you that raise—you’re not then creating any additional good will there.

      I think, since most places tend to have some kind of annual review, it’s not an unreasonable expectation that if you vie for a significant raise (not just cost of living increases) and then get it that you’ll stay for another year. But if something comes up (you have to care for ailing parents, your partner enters a grad school program, etc.), you don’t have anything to apologize for.

    2. Not a thing?*

      I personally left my first “real” job out of college within a few weeks to a month of receiving a small raise, but I didn’t ask for the raise. They felt that I did a good enough of a job to merit the raise. I had gotten an offer at a company in the exact field I wanted to work in at the time. They were disappointed that I chose to leave but understood and moved on as a company. I left on good terms with this company.

      Even if you ask for a raise and a better opportunity comes along, you have to look out for yourself and do what’s best for you. While your current company will be sad to lose you, they can also hire out for your replacement at a lower rate that you are getting so essentially they “win.”

    3. Holly*

      Granted, I’ve never been in this situation, but I don’t think so. You’re getting a raise because it’s what the company believes you’re worth, not because of anything in return – unless there’s something specifically discussed. Another company could value you more and offer you more money, just getting a raise at your current workplace doesn’t mean you can’t take it.

    4. Jenn*

      If they don’t make it explicit, no. My spouse negotiated a large raise but institutional problems at his workplace got worse over the next six months, so he left but was able to parlay his higher salary in negotiations with his new employer.

      If they don’t make you sign anything, you have no obligation.

    5. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      I mean, yeah, if you’re asking for a raise, there’s an implication of “this is what I’d require to continue being happy here” and I would be a bit miffed as a manager if you asked for a raise, I gave it to you, and then you peaced out a month later.

      And, like, raises given to you are a retention tactic… but, you’re obviously not obligated to decline it if you’re job searching. It’s not your job to make their retention tactics work, while you could argue that it *is* your job to, when you’re considering job searching because you don’t make as much money as you’d like, name a number that *would* make you happy (and, I would say, happy for at least 6 months to a year).

      None of it is universal or enforceable, but there is some implicit indication in how these things work that it’s worth keeping in mind, and if you do end up leaving a job shortly after being given a raise, you want to have though through how you’ll address it to preserve relationships you want to preserve.

    6. Audioph*

      This is a great question.

      Over the summer, I had pushed for a raise and job description/title change. While the raise was decent, it was not within the range I specified and the title/job description change left me in strange category. I’m certainly appreciative but I don’t see myself staying in my new role a full year.

    7. Lumen*

      There may be, but not in the ethics/legal sense. It may be “your employers feelings will be hurt and they will be frustrated” if you leave shortly after getting a requested raise, but how they *feel* about it isn’t really your problem, unless you’re worried about burnt bridges. And frankly, the kind of employer who holds a grudge about an employee who took a raise and then left soon after is not the kind of employer I want to work for or use as as reference.

      I’d run for the hills from an employer who made a raise contingent on a binding promise to stay for X months, because that strikes me as incredibly shady and distrustful.

    8. KatieKate*

      I have now left two jobs shortly after receiving a promotion and raise. This only happens because my raises were only approved after months of negotiation and waiting, and in the meantime I was interviewing. Oops? I feel bad about it, but also.. I had to move on.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I don’t think it’s all that different from someone who gets raises when they first ask, without the runaround, but are looking to progress in their careers which sometimes means moving on from the current company. If anything I do think it’s more understandable that you are already poised to move on when a company drags their feet about giving you a raise, since you don’t actually know if that’s going to happen before you leave for a better offer or not. Plenty of people have written in asking what to do about promised raises that haven’t happened for a year or longer. But in both cases, you’re looking out for your career and you don’t really owe the company any more of your time if you get a better offer elsewhere.

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      I think it depends on the circumstances of the raise. Annual COL/merit that everybody gets, no obligation to stay. In theory that is based on economic reasons and the work you have done previously. If you boss calls you into a meeting and says “you are getting a 10% increase for reasons”, also no obligation.
      I think, however, if you ask for and receive exactly (or close enough) to what you asked for and some work had to be done on boss/company’s end you should stay for at least 6 month-1 year barring any significant issues within the company. I would compare it to accepting a counter-offer to stay vs taking another position.

    10. NewWorkingMama*

      I didn’t ask for a raise, but I was given a significant raise at my old job. Unfortunately, it was still way under what I would have made elsewhere. I went to my boss to acknowledge I appreciated the raise, and while I was in the middle of saying, “It’s not quite up to where I’d like to be, but I understand the money might not be there now…” she interrupted to say I should be happy with what I got because no one else got anything. I finished the rest of my sentence, which was…”Would it be okay if I worked from home one day per week in lieu of more money right now?” She said yes, but her initial response stuck with me. I ended up leaving a month or so later for a new job and when I went to tell her…she asked me if they could match what the new company was offering (way way more.) I was so annoyed that they gave me a hard time asking for more money a month or so earlier only to turn around and offer even more when I was leaving. Long story short, I don’t think there is an expected amount of time to stay after a raise.

      1. NewWorkingMama*

        I should also add this was the same company that once gave me a raise and promotion the SAME day they laid off about 30 people. HR politics was not a strongsuit.

    11. Yorick*

      I guess it depends. How big was the raise? Was it fairly routine or did you negotiate it at an off time? Did your manager have to go to bat for you to get the raise?

  4. WFH*

    What are your tips for staying relevant while working from home? I’ll be switching to remote location and want to make sure I don’t become back of mind in my team.

    1. Ginger*

      Regular communication, both formal (scheduled check ins) and informal (calls, emails). Does your company use an IM system? Being available and consistently reaching out keeps you engaged with team members.

    2. Publish_or_Perish*

      I moved from working in the office with my team to working remotely about a year and a half ago. I’ve definitely had a few issues with feeling like my team doesn’t think of me as being quite as accessible as I was before, but I think there are ways to counteract that. One thing that helps me to feel connected is to have regular video meetings with key team members (my manager and my assistant, in my case). We also have a weekly team meeting and all of the remote team members connect via video. Video is much better than phone calls for making you feel connected to those team members who are still in the office.

      A second suggestion I have is to volunteer for things a bit more often than you might have in the past. For instance, my team has a lot of turn over from year to year in entry-level roles. For the past two years I’ve volunteered to lead a travel-related training session for all of the new folks on the team who will be required to travel in the future. That’s slowly becoming my “thing,” one of the ways I contribute to the team regularly (and am seen to be participating) even though I’m off-site.

      I wish you all the best with the transition! Working remotely can be a challenge, but I really love it most of the time.

    3. Pinkie Pie*

      Music or podcasts in the background help ease the loneliness. Schedule chances to meet people, be responsive to emails and phone calls.

    4. Two Dog Night*

      Lots of IMing. Try to make time for “water-cooler” chats–it’s harder when you’re not in the office, because you don’t know how busy people are, but try to get into a routine. Drop your team an e-mail if you find some info they might find useful. I find that it takes effort not to go off by myself and not talk to anyone, and I really have to make it a priority to keep in touch with people–think of it as one of your tasks, just like anything else. Good luck!

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      I work in an office, but not directly with anyone in this office. So I’m basically a remote employee. I spend about 80%+ of a normal weekday in meetings via skype with all of my coworkers so does everyone who works in larger locations with their teams. So I’m lucky that in that we have a remote culture.

      Even with that I feel like odd man out sometimes. Here’s what I do. Remember to chit chat. Are you calling someone to discuss a specific thing. Make sure you spend those first few minutes asking about their dog, weekend, kids, whatever. Be the guy that starts non-work emails (don’t abuse this idea). Here’s a great example; one of my remote employees just this week sent an email with pictures of her dog and cats that she’s always talking about. It started a quick round of ‘furry show and tell’ when everyone on the team responded with their own pictures. It’s a quick and painless way to keep those interpersonal relationships alive.

      Don’t rely too much on IM and email. Call every once in a while for simple things. It’s a great way to keep you present in your coworkers minds.

      Schedule weekly and try like the dickens to maintain 1:1 meetings with your boss. Not always possible, but helps keep you out there.

      In other words, you might have to work more at this than your coworkers and take an active role in communication more so than if you were in the office.

    6. RR*

      Not a remote worker, but someone who is frequently collaborating with WFH types. Some effective strategies I’ve seen put to good use include scheduling regular check ins (biweekly/monthly/bimonthly depending on the nature of your work relationship). emailing around articles/weblinks, etc that might be of interest. Sharing drafts for informal review/comment. Because you won’t be running into folks in the hallway to run ideas by them, you have to be more intentional and plan for interactions.

    7. nonymous*

      I also try to go into the main office a few times a year for a week each time. Then about a month before the visit, I set some personal goals so that it’s basically my very own conference experience, which generates a flurry of activity both before and after the travel. I like to get at least one new project that should last >4mos out of each visit. I also try to coincide roll-outs with the on-site visits, so that I’m managing the initial shock of change (my co-workers hate change, lol).

    8. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

      Will you be working from home while the rest of your team stays in the office? Or is everyone working remotely?

      As previously mentioned: get comfortable with whatever kind of computer text messaging system your company uses. Make sure you save every conversation – not for any kind of dirty tricks, it’s just that you’ll likely find yourself swapping contexts a lot and you’ll want to recall just where you are on multiple topics.

      Very important: computer text messaging systems are often used as a kind of presence indicator. So make sure you’re logged in at the beginning of every day. Also: carry your cellphone everywhere. Even on restroom breaks. I’ve noticed that some bosses – despite what they might say – are suspicious of people who “work from home.” So when anyone – especially the boss – calls you, it’s a very good thing to answer that call. If you simply *cannot* answer, you might want to consider multitasking and using your computer to text the caller: “Hey boss! What’s up? I see you called me but I’m in the middle of a meeting with the Shanghai team. But I can text if you want to.”

      Videoconferencing is popular these days. Get familiar with it, even have a place set up in your home that is your “videoconference studio”. Keep the kids and pets out when you’re using it. Practice using it for both one-to-one and group calls, attending meetings and hosting meetings, and make sure the video and audio is consistently working well. You don’t want to be the person who wastes the first 5 minutes of every meeting fumbling with their audio settings. Also: make sure you know how to use the screen-sharing and presentation capabilities of the teleconference software.

      Oh, and when teleconferencing, make sure you’ve shut down any chat or potentially embarrassing stuff on your computer. I’ve seen a lot of people forget this – and then they’re presenting to mgmt and a chat pops up that says “hey baby, wanna take a break?” Even if it’s completely innocent, it looks bad.

      You’ll probably be using your work’s calendar system to schedule lots and lots of meetings. Get good at it. Create a footer for your email that gives your name, location, phone number, email, etc etc etc. Make sure that info is in the company directory, too. You want to be easily accessible.

      Also, make a standard footer for your meeting notices that provides a link or other info on how to dial-in / connect to your meetings and teleconferences and phone conferences.

      Don’t be shy about calling people up just to talk. Hopefully you’re on friendly terms with at least a few of your co-workers – make it a point to chat with each one at least once a week.

      If you’re working at home while everyone else is in the office, you should still try to go into the office at least once every two weeks. It’s not hard to come up with a reason – just meeting for lunch is good.

      If everyone is working remote – keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to meet face-to-face with anyone who might be coming to town. And if there are meetings out of town – some people meeting up at headquarters, say – try to get in on that. Travel money is often hard to come by, but it’s perfectly legitimate to tell your boss “I’d like to go to San Jose next week to meet up with Bob and Ted and Carol and Alice”. You might get turned down, but no-one is going to fault you for wanting to make (or renew) F2F contact with your co-workers.

      Oh, and in the midst of all of this – try to do your actual work :) Personally, I never found that part difficult. But you are perceptive to ask about this kind of thing, because you have to put some extra effort in to stay engaged. Some people aren’t good at it – in my experience, these are often people who are trying to take advantage of the system. But if you are a responsible person with a good work ethic, the extra effort in ‘networking’ can become just a normal part of work.

      I worked from home for 10+ years with numerous teams all over the world. It worked out very well. If there was a downside, it was that I was “on” almost every day, from the time I brewed my first cup of coffee until bedtime. Also – when I had to go back to the office, it was a tough transition.

      1. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

        One last thing, quickly: if you’re accessing work via a VPN and/or a company computer, be careful about the kind of content you access. Pr0n is obviously problematic – but also some companies might object to you visiting a pro-union site, or political sites, or accessing religious content, etc. Or if you’re looking at job recruitment websites. I don’t mean to make you paranoid, but it would be wise to have two computers, one that is strictly for business, and the other for your personal use.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          +1. We have “administered” computers, and there is a key stroke logger, and they know (can find out if needed) every email & attachment sent. I was always careful, but a contractor… well, let’s just say the rules tightened up after the indiscretion and security investigation. Such a high volume workplace, there is no way a human is actively reading everything, but I think there is an algorithm running somewhere looking for some key words to flag for human eyes.
          Typing this on my personal laptop. LOL. I never access any personal website from work that I can’t justify…

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you’ve got Skype, use the “what’s happening today?” to flag your hot projects & post your usual schedule.
      ie “Core hours : 8-4, can schedule in advance between 7 & 6”
      or “Current projects: Teapot Dome submission due Thursday 3pm!”

      Ask to get into a regular team conference call. And in the morning watch for your co-workers on Skype to say hello like you would at the water cooler.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        As an aside, keep the background of your workspace video-chat ready. It’s far too easy to click “present” and get the video feed instead. And there are good reasons to use that videofeed — easiest way to point out a crack in the new prototype for example, or how the lid is supposed to fit onto the teapot. You don’t want to have someone looking past your teapot to a sink full of dirty dishes or a table of unsorted laundry.

        Find reasons to get down to the main office — and if you’re able, consider having your co-workers visit you at yours.

  5. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

    There’s no walking back from this, is there? The short version: I think I’ve done too good of a job pretending to be busy and now my boss wants to take more responsibilities off of my plate as a result.

    For the past year I’ve been in a newly-created position. One thing I’ve learned about my boss is that he isn’t receptive to feedback and very much operates under the authoritarian method of management. When I’ve mentioned to him several times that I don’t have enough work to fill my time, I’m met with flat out disagreement from him and the conversation is shut down. I have an assistant and he insists I’m not giving her enough work to do. I’ve tried to give her as much as I can and, to be honest, I think she’s actually busier than I am. I’ll admit I’ve been reluctant to give her more because I don’t know what that will leave me with! I’ve taken several half days recently and discovered that I can get everything done in about four hours every day. Obviously this ebbs and flows depending on where we are in the calendar year, but other than super busy times like the end of the quarter I often find myself bored.

    About six months ago my boss freaked out about something that wasn’t at all my mistake and during his rant he went off on me for being on social media or surfing the web, implying that I’m making mistakes because I’m goofing off instead of focusing on work. I won’t deny that I spent a lot of time on the internet and I realized that if my boss has an issue with it I should stop, even if I happened to have no work to do. Unfortunately, that means I also no longer feel comfortable surfing the web to look up tutorials that are relevant to my work, which is what I was also doing to kill time when I had nothing to do. Ever since then I make tasks take 10x longer than necessary just to fill my time. I have done every mundane administrative maintenance task I can think of. I’ve tidied my desk a million times. I open random spreadsheets and stare at them to look busy. I leave folders stacked on my desk so it looks like I’m busy. I hate doing this but I feel like if my boss isn’t receptive to my feedback then I have no choice.

    So when my boss came to me this week to tell me that he’s “stepping in” to redistribute the work load more fairly I wasn’t thrilled. He actually commented on how I shouldn’t be so busy that I come to work every day and stare at my computer with my desk covered with paperwork. I almost laughed when he said that since those are just my pantomimes of work! I again tried to bring up the work load issue and was shut down. Of course, this also makes me worry he will figure out on his own how little I have to do and I’ll be the one to inevitably get the axe since I’ll be the most useless and least utilized employee. I can’t very well tell him now that I’ve been faking being busy for the past six months! Do I just suck up the changes and find more ways to pretend to look busy? There are other reasons I’ve considered job searching but I gave up on that idea since I know I’ll never find a job making this much money. Not to mention that I have only one reference since I’ve only ever had one job before this. I’ve been here 13 years and can’t use anyone from here. Other employees have been fired when my boss discovers they’ve been job searching. I feel like I’m stuck here and that I have no say in things. Should I just be happy that I’m being paid so much to do a small amount of work? Unless anyone has advice on dealing with a stubborn boss who doesn’t take feedback I’m not sure what more to do.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh man. I understand this SO well! I’m also in a newly created position that, for a LONG time, gave me next to nothing to do. No assistant, though, thank goodness, but you walk a line between being so bored you don’t want to do anything and being terrified that you’ll be fired because you have nothing to do, despite asking for more. Honestly? I think you should start job searching because, well, you’re bored, and boredom not only fries your brain, it can– it does in my case– ramp up your anxiety. Too much time to think and reflect = too much time to let your thoughts run away with you. You have this job now, one which doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so you have time to figure out what fits and what doesn’t.

      Beyond that, no advice, just a TON of sympathy!

      1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

        Oh my goodness, you described it perfectly! And yes, I already feel the boredom getting me down. I’m just not happy about my job anymore and I’m sure that’s a part of it. It doesn’t help that my boss doesn’t seem to know exactly what I do, which makes me confused as to why he’s so confident that I have plenty to fill my time. Maybe my acting is just *that* good. Perhaps I can point my job search in that direction since I clearly have the talent! :D

      2. I See Real People*

        This is me too, for three years. I’m so glad you said that about extended boredom leading to anxiety. I didn’t know for sure where all of it came from. I’m job searching. It’s hard.

    2. StrikingFalcon*

      I would infinitely rather take a lower paying job (provided I could still pay my bills) than sit around pretending to work or work for a boss that scolds me for both not working enough and for working too much (??).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, this.

        Sometimes the hardest prisons to break out of are the prisons we create in our own heads. You are thinking about this so much you have negated your own options. Go back to job hunting, especially if you believe your job might get cut.

        My bias is that I would rather be crying from to heavy a work load than be crying from to little to do. I almost walked out of a job once because they did not give me anything to do for days.

        OP, at best your boss is dense. If you are determined to stay put then let him redistribute the work to see if he stops talking about it. I am seeing yellow flags with the way he reacted to your one mistake. Additionally he does not listen to you. He fires people for job hunting??? Icing on the cake he has you convinced it is YOUR fault that he thinks you are busy, when he created that whole situation. Get out before you forget how normal work places function.

        1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

          Oh, believe me, this site has opened my eyes to how dysfunctional my workplace is. It’s gotten worse since the former co-owner left but it took many red flags for me to finally realize how bad things are. I keep telling myself I can just roll with it and find ways to work around each new bout of ridiculousness. I mean, as long as the company’s still viable and I’m getting such a hefty paycheck then why fight it or look for a new job? I’m starting to see how much that’s wearing on me. The constant whiplash from being told one thing and then being chastised for doing things that way is starting to drive me bonkers. I don’t think I complained about my job as much in the previous 12 years combined as I have in the last year since the co-owner left. I might have to set myself a timeline for how long I’ll continue to give this a chance before I bail. I’m too good at talking myself into putting up with not so great situations. A deadline would help keep me accountable to myself.

            1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

              Alas, no. He’s still friends with my boss (who is now the sole owner). I’m 100% sure he would say something.

    3. Llellayena*

      Not sure if this will help since your boss seems to ignore any of your self-evaluations on workload but: document what you accomplish in a week with how much time each task takes (without the “stretching to fill time” adjustment). Include all the little tidy desk, organize paperwork type tasks as well. Put all this in an email with a follow-up paragraph of “I’d love to take on Task C and D and can make time for them by eliminating/reducing time spent on .” If he gets annoyed that you’re doing filler tasks, tell him (also by email) that you have repeatedly asked for additional tasks and been told you were too busy already (mention dates or week/month if you know them). The idea is to get your efforts to be assigned additional tasks in writing so you can go above his head if he tries to discipline you for not doing work. You tried to get additional work and were told no, that’s on him. And keep job hunting just in case. Good luck.

      1. Noobtastic*

        That’s a good idea for middle management, but the boss is now the sole owner (see OP’s comment above about getting a reference from the previous co-owner), and so there’s no where “up” to go.

        I recommend job searching without the reference, as best you can (you might get lucky), and in the meantime, fill your time with stuff that will increase your skills. No web-surfing, except the tutorials, and (clean your history first!), you can show your boss that you have been spending excess time building up your skills for your current job. He can’t really complain about that, but it does give you some leverage for the “give me more work” conversation. And, in the meantime, you’ll get better at the work you do have. Also, you can spend a lot of time practicing those new skills. Open up Word, and explore all the options you’ve never used before. Create a mail-merge, just for the practice. Use strange and interesting formulas in Excel. Create a data-base, and practice querying and creating reports. In short, use all your spare time educating yourself. You won’t be bored. You’ll actually be productive, improving yourself.

        And if he should fire you, for job hunting, or for being the wrong amount of busy, then you’ll at least be really sharp in your office skills for the next job. In fact, you can put that sort of thing in your CV or cover letter. “I have studied Microsoft Office in depth, and can use many of the more rare functions. They are not used as often as they should be, and I have lots of ideas about increasing productivity, by using macros and rare functions, that are already at our disposal.” With that kind of knowledge, you could become the go-to guru at your new place, and surely, you can come up with ways to increase productivity in a variety of environments, if they are using the programs you have mastered.

        In my experience, most office workers get to be competent with these programs, but almost none of them truly master them. The ones who do master them are considered solid gold assets. “Go ask Wakeen if there’s a formula for that. Or maybe he can create a macro for that recurring task.” Amazingly enough, there really ARE a lot of productivity-boosting things that a truly skilled MS Office user can do without spending a cent on more software. Learn how to be that person, and your time will be very well spent, indeed.

        And good luck. It sucks working for an unreasonable, and irrational boss.

        Another idea is to take some of the work back from the assistant, and you can both work together on increasing your skills. You’ll both be just as busy, and you’ll both be in a better position when/if you leave that company.

    4. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      You’re living the dream. Figure out stuff to do that looks like work but is more fulfilling than twiddling your thumbs. Write a novel. Do a side hustle. Do more reading in your industry.

      A key question here is: how ambitious are you? If you dream of climbing the corporate ladder or becoming an executive or business owner one day, you probably want to job search, cause this job is likely to be a dead-end until your boss retires or moves on (which, given that you’ve put in 13 years, is a perfectly fine master plan… loaf about in this job until that happens and you can try to take his job, or know that whoever replaces your boss is much more likely to listen to you and care about your job than your current one).

      If you’re not ambitious… well, again, congrats on living the dream! It’s OK to just suck money out of this company until someone decides you can’t anymore, especially if you already feel like you can’t use anyone here as a reference.

      Take some more work back from your assistant, and if you feel comfortable, let her in on what’s going on, and tell her she’s now welcome to take half days on Friday every week or whatever flexibility she’d enjoy to have. You can both live the dream!

    5. Nita*

      Since you have an assistant, I’ve got to ask – are you in a management position? Could there be a disconnect between the work you’ve done in the past, and the work you’re expected to do now? I’m asking because I’ve struggled with this kind of thing – moving from doing the day-to-day work on projects, to delegating this to others and diving into business development. I still feel weird when I spend most of my day not working on any particular project, and then realize I really haven’t been wasting the time when, several months later, all the new work I’ve been chasing materializes at the same time.

      1. Bostonian*

        And if you’re in any kind of management role, you have standing to start looking for collaborative efforts with other departments (depending on how large your organization is): schedule meetings to discuss what other people do, see if there’s any overlap or opportunities to create useful projects to do together.

        1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

          Oh, the company is tiny. Our entire office staff is seven people and that includes the warehouse manager and our sales guy. There aren’t any other departments or anything like that I can go to. It’s basically a tiny fiefdom ruled over by my boss/the owner. That’s part of the reason why it’s so hard to find advice for work issues, because it’s a unique situation that doesn’t match up to most organizations.

      2. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

        You make a good point. I am technically in a management position, but the actual job hasn’t turned out to be quite what I expected when I was offered the promotion. My boss has such a hard time delegating and letting go that my role isn’t nearly as advanced as I expected. But it’s true that my job used to be a lot of doing. Doing daily tasks as they were given to me without having much idea of how they fit into the big picture. My new job does involve a lot more organizing and staying on top of the various administrative functions of the company. Now that I’ve got my systems and spreadsheets set up for all of that it doesn’t take much of my time to cover that stuff. I suspect that the guy who used to handle this stuff wasn’t as adept at using tools to make his job easier. For example, he did most of his math by hand using a calculator whereas I have spreadsheets set up to automatically calculate everything when I update one batch of numbers. So it likely took him longer to keep up with things, which may be what my boss is basing his workload calculations on. And I’ll admit I’m also bad at delegating. Why delegate something when I have nothing to do and I’ll just have to review the other person’s work anyway? I know that’s a terrible attitude as a manager but it’s hard to shake that feeling.

        1. Nita*

          I have a problem with delegating too! Especially when the other person is new, and it takes ages to correct their work. I force myself to delegate anyway, because otherwise they’ll never learn. I guess it’s different though, because there’s some 40 people in my department alone, and it doesn’t make sense to have the junior staff sit around with nothing to do while I’m doing work I could be handing off to them.

    6. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Can you find more work to do? I’ve had to do this from time to time, but essentially I tend to work myself out of jobs. Meaning that when I start in a position I’m super busy and then eventually get to a point where my staff is trained and elevated in their duties, the big process improvements are mostly done, and I find myself not very challenged.

      This is when I either start doing the ‘want to do’s or I start farming myself out to other departments/projects. I’ve never had luck with telling bosses I need more work. Generally I’ve found that if I’m in that position they are just bad at delegation or there is something else preventing more stuff coming my way. On the other hand, I’ve never had a boss who hasn’t appreciated the kudos they’ve gotten for helping out and being a team player by having me pitch in to other things.

      Last but not least, is transferring to other departments/jobs an option? Usually what has happened is the results of my on the clock moonlighting is more doors and opportunities have been opened up for me.

      Warning… there is some risk to this. It’s always in the back of my head that someone could say… why we don’t really need Randomu… She’s not really adding much value in her job to the organization. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s always a possibility I suppose.

      1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

        Eh, from broad job searching. Administrative positions seem to pay at least $10/hour less than I currently make. Unless I want to commute into the city (which I really, really don’t want to do!) I’m stuck with basic administrative jobs that want to pay nothing. It doesn’t help that I only have an Associates Degree so I know that limits my job prospects. That plus no references makes me feel I have no chance finding another job, let alone one that pays as generously as my current one.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          This may be true, but you might also find yourself making a bit less for a while but on a track that would lead you to better prospects in the future.

          Also, would you have any interest in getting a BA? Maybe you could approach your boss and say that you want to go back to school and you can rearrange your tasks to make time to work on school projects?

        2. Noobtastic*

          Could you do correspondence classes to work towards a Bachelor’s degree? If so, could you do at least some of your studying at work? Get your textbooks in a pdf file, and read them on your computer, perhaps?

          That would be another way to make your time productive, while you improve your skills (beneficial for the company, right?), and make the leap smaller, from Associate’s degree to Bachelor’s degree. It may be that if you get fired, you can really buckle down on the Bachelor’s and finish quickly, and then really fly in the job search, with your degree completed.

          I’d start saving up dollar you can, so you’re prepared for time off work, and paying for expenses, possibly including tuition, supplies, and fees, and then, if you do get fired, you won’t be hurting, at least, while you look for a new job. If you save enough, you might just quit work, and go full-time to college.

          At any rate, don’t let your boredom show. Find something to engage your mind, preferably something that will increase your skills, so you can justify it for work. Personal improvement is beneficial to a company who knows how to use improved persons.

    7. MegPR*

      Could you make work for yourself? Documentation projects or efficiency improvements? Learn a new skill? I have an extremely hands off manager and if I don’t manage myself I will have literally nothing to do. So I make myself projects. I will make proposals on process changes or document a process for a new hire or some sort of similar value-add type project, that is outside of my normal responsibilities. Sometimes the suggestions go absolutely no where but some of them are implemented. I like staying busy, this is how I have accomplished it!

      1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

        I like your ideas and have already tried many of them. I honestly can’t think of anything else to do. I already put together an entire binder of step-by-step procedures for everything my assistant and I do in case I drop dead tomorrow and someone has to fill my shoes. Without being able to surf the web I don’t know how to develop new skills. I’ve gone through and archived or cleared out our old files, reorganized our shared file system, put together a month-by-month calendar of every task that needs to be completed that month, and gone through files we frequently use as templates and edited them for errors. I too prefer to be busy so I’ve been racking my brain for things to do. I feel like I’ve done everything there is to do around here!

        1. Knuddel Daddeldu*

          Would your company benefit from a quality management system certification (ISO 9001)?
          Many of your clients now may require that, and/or environmental management (ISO 14001). Ask your sales guy if it comes up in client discussions.
          If that sounds even mildly relevant, that would tie in with your step-by-step instructions.
          There is a fairly good, free template for the necessary procedures etc. available (google for “Oxebridge”).
          This would give you a few months of useful work before even calling in the auditors. You do not have to get certified, you can just set everything up and be “ISO 9001:2015 compliant” without spending money on a certificate (which requires an audit and will cost you a few grand). And it would be a useful skill to have for later as well.
          Full disclosure: I consult companies on how to set up their management systems and get certified as part of my job.

          1. only acting normal*

            Yes, and if boss challenges you being on the internet have a response prepared along the lines of “this is professional training to help me be more efficient at X / learn to take on Y / be better at task Z.” So it scratches his itches for making you both less and more busy.
            PS your boss is a loon.

          2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            I agree. Stay off social media and stick to training resources, unless he told you to stay off the internet altogether. If you only ever look at legit sites then you have more of a defense.

        2. Noobtastic*

          I like the ISO training/compliance suggestion. You might want to work with other people in the company, and ask them about cross-training, and documenting their jobs. After all, accidents and illness do happen, as you say, and it benefits the company to have those things backed up for ALL positions, not just yours and your assistant.

          And in the process of cross-training/documenting their jobs, you might find more ways to improve productivity for them, as well. Let THEM feel bored. Hahah.

          I agree. Your boss is a loon.

    8. Girl friday*

      Do they value your presence for some other reason that would mean that he would want to keep you around? Do they have security that monitors how people use their computers? Maybe he can see that you’re just messing around on the spreadsheets and he’s giving you a hard time in a joking way? Can you redistribute your own schedule so that you can get more done at work? Just throw the whole thing out and start over: planning your day constructively and creatively? I have those kinds of jobs where I laugh to myself about working hard or hardly working, or taking 30 minutes to do one thing versus doing 30 things in one minute. I have the oddest ability to find enough to do, so I really am just joking. Sometimes I do toss out my routine, and rework it from the ground up. It helps a lot. If you start from the mindset of being valued and appreciated, maybe new projects will appear. I hope so. If none of that works, plan a constructive and creative job search, because I might be endowing him with a sense of humor he doesn’t have!

      1. Girl friday*

        I would also increase your networking with people who do similar jobs in your area or in bigger cities in order to get new tasks and ideas. Your company may be stuck in a rut without realizing it. If he does value you, maybe you could plan an online training schedule that includes travel to conferences and give that overview to your boss. Be really creative and ask yourself what opportunities a total stranger would see in your job.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Networking can fill a lot of time, and you never know. You might find some new potential customers for your company!

  6. RedSonja*

    Hi all! I sent this question to Alison last night, and she suggested sharing it here.

    I work at a higher education facility that is currently in negotiations with several unions in our workplace. We recently had a strike regarding the lack of contract for several bargaining groups, and our union provides a monetary “hardship benefit” for those who join the picket line rather than working. To be eligible for the benefit, you must sign in at the beginning of picketing and sign out at the end, ~5 hours of attendance.

    After the strike, my coworker Eleanor told me that 2 other coworkers, Sean and Trevor, signed in for the picket line and then went to work, in effect being paid for working AND striking. I’ve been working closely with union leadership at our location, so I reported this to them, including providing documentation that Sean and Trevor signed off on performing work tasks on the day they were supposedly picketing.

    The union will handle not paying them, and I’m happy to leave it in their hands. My question is: should I tell their work supervisor about this? On one level, it’s union business, not work business. But on another, this shows a real willingness to be profoundly unethical for personal gain, which is alarming. On yet another level, there are few opportunities to benefit financially from being unethical at our workplace (we don’t handle money at all), other than reporting working for hours that aren’t actually worked, so maybe it doesn’t matter?

    I know that my utter disgust with their behavior is coloring my response, so I wanted to ask you (and the commentariat) what their thoughts were. Thank you!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      First of all, A+ names.

      Second, if I was a supervisor, I would want to know that my reports were acting in such a non ethical manor so I think you need to tell them. The caveat there being, I don’t know what is legally allowed when you’re dealing with a union situation. If there is no legal issue though, definitely tell.

      1. RedSonja*

        Yay! Someone got the names!

        It’s all extra complicated because my direct supervisor, whom I have a very good relationship with, used to be their department head, but someone else is being transitioned into that spot. If it were still MY boss, I’d probably tell her, but I don’t know the other guy as well and have NO idea how he’d approach it, or if he’d even care.

    2. Very Special Librarian*

      As a proud Union supporter, I am also appalled. I would want to know if I was their supervisor, but I would also worry how this might impact things with the Union and with the negotiations. Can you ask your Union Rep for advice maybe?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Since you have gone to the union first, I would leave it with the union rep to handle the situation. If you really cannot move through this then yes, go back to the person you reported it to and ask if you should let management know.

      1. LKW*

        Agreed, I don’t have experience in this area but am a big union supporter. Ask your union rep if they plan to take any action. My guess is that they will take the action that protects the union best, and may be willing to share how they plan to do that.

    3. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      Yeah, I agree that since you’ve already raised with the union, you shouldn’t raise to their supervisor.

      Do tell, like, *all* your coworkers, though. Management will find out naturally that way. You’re under no obligation to keep this secret.

    4. Not In NYC Any More*

      You can certainly tell management, but you might not get the reaction you expect. You see it as a huge ethical breach and want them punished. I don’t think that would happen. At the most, their manager would probably say, “hey, don’t do that it again,” and then forget about it. But depending on how acrimonious negotiations are, management might high-five the guys and actually look on them more favorably. After all, their showing up at work benefited their department because work got done. If they tried to put one over on the union, that’s just icing on the cake. You’ve informed the union. I’d let them take care of following up with management if need be.

    5. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      They have acted fraudulently, and displayed bad faith to both their employer and the union.

      I’d make sure everyone that supported the strike knew about their behaviour, and in my capacity as a TU rep, I’d refuse to represent them in the future.

      1. Anon right now*

        Hey, just be careful with refusing to represent people. Legally we’re not allowed to do that (source: I’m a rep for my office), the union doesn’t get to pick and choose who they represent.

        1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

          They are still entitled to union representation, but they aren’t necessarily entitled to *my* representation.

    6. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      What outcome are you looking for from the management? I’ve never been direct management in a union facility, but have worked very closely with union workplaces – so I may not know all the ins and outs but have some frame of reference.

      I find it very unlikely that management is going to react to this at all. I wouldn’t anyway. What they did in regards to the picket/strike/payment would very deliberately not be any of my business and I would keep it that way.

      The other thing you want to think about is if you want this incident getting tangled in the negotiations.

      1. SWOinRecovery*

        I imagine management will find out either way, but in case they don’t, I wouldn’t want to be the one feeding them that info. Just in case management throws it in the unions face as proof of whatever complaint they come up with (working conditions aren’t so bad, the union’s not bargaining in good faith, etc).

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          And they likely won’t be very happy if they think they are being used to punish people for union related issues.

          This feels like the OP is less concerned about flagging the integrity issues to management and just wants to expand the punishment to the employees. I admit that I could be wrong about that. But as a manager this is the first place my head would go.

    7. ThankYouRoman*

      They’re snakes and I’m glad they’re caught so they won’t be paid for that strike time by the union.

      However I’m familiar with management in these situations. They won’t be bothered. They got what they want, strike breakers to work. Unless these guys are part of an ethics team or something, nobody on management cares about the scam. They view unions as pests to say it nicely.

    8. RedSonja*

      Thank you all for your thoughtful responses!

      A few more details: We are just one campus in a large, statewide system, all of whose campuses participated in the strike. So it’s unlikely that this small incident could affect negotiations on the large scale, but that’s definitely a concern regardless.

      Our specific departmental management is pretty neutral to positive towards the union, but at higher levels there is some serious antagonism. This also complicates the reporting question.

      Finally, someone asked what outcome I wanted from reporting. Mostly, I want to know that, if these two choose to be unethical in the future, that it won’t impact the vulnerable population that we care for, because they either aren’t in a position where they can cut corners, or someone is following up on their work and making sure they’re actually doing what they say they do.

      I think that I’m going to take your suggestions of asking union leadership what they’re okay with, and go from there. Thank you all so much for both the validation AND the clearer heads!

    9. Argh!*

      Nope, don’t tell the supervisor. The supervisor only cares if the person shows up for work and does their job. They don’t (or shouldn’t) care what else they do.

    10. restingbutchface*

      I’d tell my supervisor and if they worked for me, I’d want to know.

      They tried to defraud an organisation linked with your business. Whether it’s a union, a supplier or the office next door, it does matter and just because they don’t have the opportunity to behave badly now doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.

    11. Anono-me*

      Can you get in trouble for providing the documentation to the Union showing that Sean and Trevor were working? Some places have strict rules about what can be shared and with whom.

    12. Girl friday*

      I’m a big fan of unions. Can’t be much help with the hardship benefits because I’ve never heard of those before, but I have belong to unions and I think as long as you’re addressing these issues with them it’s better than bringing them up with your employer. Google seems to think that hardship benefits are about debt settlements, and since I don’t believe in those either, I’m sorry I can’t be of more help. Paradoxically, I like unions but I also like cutting out the middleman.

    13. Noobtastic*

      Regardless of the union aspect, or the handling money aspect, these two have proven themselves to be liars. You can’t trust anything they say. That means you can’t trust the quality of their work, and have to go back and check everything that they do. That takes a lot of unnecessary time, that would not have to be spent on trustworthy employees.

      Tell the boss. If he doesn’t do anything about it, well, that’s his call. You still did the right thing for the company (and the union) by reporting it.

  7. Dragoning*

    My grandboss is supposed to get back to me today on whether or not she’s going to renew my contract (which is up at the end of the year). There’s a whole host of reasons why it would be a terrible idea for her to cancel it, but I’m not sure she actually realizes that.

    Wish me luck. I don’t want to job hunt through the holidays.

    1. iambadatusernames*

      I find out the exact same thing in two weeks! I gave my boss a list of projects I’m actively working on to give to grandboss, but who knows if he’ll listen.

      It’s actually nice to know I’m not the only person in the world going through this, though I wish none of us were!

      1. Dragoning*

        My boss is, unfortunately, covering a maternity leave in a foreign country so he’s not here to bat for me at all times. He’s doing what he can—I actually brought it up to him because I hadn’t heard anything and was feeling anxious, so he brought it to Grandboss’s attention earlier this week.

        I think grandboss is measuring our workload incorrectly–it’s frustrating. But there’s not much I can do to correct her.

  8. LDP*

    Just a vent. My boss is being a jerk about my vacation days and wants to talk about my attitude after she’s badgered me into changing my personal plans to make her life easier. I’m applying for new jobs like crazy, but I’m stuck here for the time being. Any positive vibes or good wishes that anyone feels inclined to send my way would be greatly appreciated. I’m trying my best to remain calm and professional, but my breaking point is disturbingly close. :(

    1. AY*

      Six months ago, I cried every day on the way to the bus stop after work because I was so stressed out. I focused every bit of energy I had on finding a new job, and I’m so much happier now. You can do this! Spend as much time as you can in your job search and lean on your support system. Soon, it will be just a memory. Good luck!

    2. Beehoppy*

      Sending all the good vibes. I was trapped in a job that was making me miserable earlier this year: Boss didn’t understand what I did, kept assigning me responsibilities not within my wheelhouse with no training, disrespected me, a colleague made inappropriate , sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks daily, PLUS I had a one hour commute each way. Job search was a long one but I now have a great job more in line with my skills, boss who respects and values me, AND I work remotely. You can do it!

      1. LDP*

        Ugh, that sounds miserable!! :( My commute is getting longer and longer, which is definitely adding to the drain of it all. I’ve been applying to a bunch of places lately, so hopefully something comes through soon.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      *hugs* Another one who escaped a terrible boss. I’m going to be a year free in a few weeks. I’m healthier, happier and paid so much better. Keep fighting for yourself and believe in your ability to get away from that nonsense.

    4. Argh!*

      I have started viewing meetings and one-on-one as sociological studies, so (most) things that would normally be triggering are now intriguing instead. Crappy managers are either 1) stupid 2) not properly trained 3) mentally ill or 4) evil.

      Hypothesizing a diagnosis here in crazytown has become a rather enjoyable hobby.

      1. ThankYouRoman*

        Seriously! If I wasn’t fascinated by human behavior, I’d cry a lot more at work. Everyone thinks I’m so chill and roll with things, that’s not my natural state at all! I’ve developed the ability to give zero efs and watch the nonsense from my perch!

      2. Noobtastic*

        Haha! Yeah, sure, you know you don’t do the armchair diagnosis on internet sites like this, but in your own head? Knock yourself out!

        I remember reading an advice columnist advising a worker in a bad environment (get out, but until you can…) to pretend she was a spy, and she was gathering all the information about the people, the place, the stuff, to put into a report and send to her superiors, so they could formulate the perfect strategy to take down their enemies.

        If you can’t change your environment, at least you can control your own mind.

  9. NoLongerBurnedOut*

    For those of you that learned to successfully advocate for yourself at work:

    How did you go about training your “shiny spine”? I have some bad habits that I’m trying to train myself out of (agree and then regret, hesitate and lose the moment, not getting as much money as I feel I should during salary negotiations/promotions) and I’m curious how other people have done it. How’d you start? What small steps did you take that you look back and realize that’s where you started on a different path?

    1. Jane*

      One thing that has helped me is thinking about how my needs/demands play in to the company’s overall goals as well as framing requests as “What can I do to make this happen?” rather than “When are you going to do this for me?”

      1. NoLongerBurnedOut*

        Is that in your head or out loud? Do you just keep it in mind as you work through the issue?

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      Rehearsed speaking assertively into a full-length mirror and doing karate moves when I made a particularly strong point. So ridiculous but it worked. My therapist gave it to me as an assignment when I was in college. The other one she gave involved looking at myself in the mirror with a bag over my head (with hole cut out so I could see and talk) and that would help me disassociate my actual self from my assertive/positive talk. I didn’t like it but it worked for others, apparently. So, I have only weird advice.

      Good luck!

    3. NoLongerBurnedOut*

      As an example: I had a job I knew I was leaving (severely underpaid, didn’t like the work anymore anyway) so I took it as an opportunity to try to negotiate a raise. I got hem-hawed a bit but conversations implied they would make it right at eval time. I got my raise, then quit a month or so later.

      I feel like I really should have pushed back at the “eval time” thing because they were hiring in 2 or 3 new people doing the same job as I was at rates that were 20%+ my current salary. I should have pushed them to make it right then (when the hiring first started), and not waited 5 months. But, I did advocate for myself, so I was happy with that part. Baby steps….

      1. CynicallySweet7*

        I don’t have a lot of suggestions for what to do in the moment. But I did want to address the baby steps thing. I think a lot of people say that when they think they’re doing too little too slowly, but I disagree. Especially if you’re trying to deal with something like fundamentally change the way you react in surprise situations. I’m not saying don’t try for big change, but I think reveling in the baby steps can help you get there. So maybe if you don’t focus so much on what you should have done in the moment, and instead look at the fact that you were able to advocate for yourself it will be helpful. Like, if you’re freezing in the moment, think back on the time you did advocate for yourself and take strength from that… hope that’s helpful!

    4. Le’Veon Bell is seizing the means of production*

      I’m still *far* from being good at this, but honestly my biggest thing has been, in those moments, thinking to myself: “Just spit it out.” Spit out the words. They don’t have to be perfect, and usually once you spit out words, that’s not the end; there’s a discussion where you can refine what you mean and pick more perfect words, but in most situations, the #1 intervention to compel yourself to make is to just spit the words out.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh.
      It was a process for me and it did not happen in one month or one year.

      I had to figure out what was important to me and what was not important to me. Not everything requires standing up for myself.

      I realized that I had to meet people on their playing field not mine. For example, some people needed me to reduce things down to dollars. “If we do X then that will cost us Y dollars, if we do Z then that will cause is four times as much.” Other people were strongly motivated by fear. “Well if we are worried about A happening, let’s do [handy steps 1 through 3] to lessen the chances of A happening.”

      As I went along using this I realized that having a spine was more about having a well thought out rationale for what I wanted. This meant setting aside the negative thoughts to allow brain space for logical reasons to develop. It’s way to easy to jump to “the answer will be no, no matter what I say/do”. And those types of thoughts have to be pushed aside.

      Agree/regret, hesitate/lose are actually have a common thread. Presence of mind. You want to think faster or think on your feet more. A good way to develop this is to use quiet time to review similar instances in the past. How did those instance go? When did they work well? Is this new instance similar to any of the instances that worked well in the past? I used a lot of my commute time to figure out where I had made good calls and where I had made bad calls. I got into the specifics of those judgement calls and why they went well or went poorly. On the ones that went poorly, I would decide what the learning experience was. “I will never agree to a deadline of Friday at 4:30 AGAIN!”
      Tricky part: Actually DO this, never agree to that deadline time again or whatever your learning experience has showed you.

      After a bit you end up with some rules of thumb that you work by.

      People notice other people’s accuracy. If you can’t be accurate, then don’t talk. Seriously. “I will look into it and get back to you at x time.” Or, “I need a minute to give you that answer.” Error on the side of caution, always. Don’t guess, don’t allow yourself to make random guesses. We have to live with the results of our random guesses and it’s a self-inflicted hell. Know what you can and cannot deliver. If you need time to figure it out then say so.

      As far as raises, it’s a good idea to remember the boss has to explain it to her boss. Try to think of it as, “What wording would really help the Big Boss to understand a raise is a good idea.” This works into general advice also because many times we are unaware but we are providing the wording and ideas that our bosses will use when they talk to their boss.

    6. Cathullu*

      I actually just went to a lecture on this yesterday! Two big takeaways for me: ownership and risk taking. I think they support each other. Ownership means realizing that no one is is going to do anything on your behalf and recognizing that if there are things you want or ideas you’d like to see implemented, then you have to take charge of those things. Risk taking is doing just that: taking risks by speaking up! The woman who spoke to us yesterday, a VP, says that as someone who is naturally shy and is “othered” a lot (she’s a woman and comes from a math background and is an immigrant and is a WOC) she realized she needed to take risks in order to advance. What she’s discovered over her career is that most things aren’t as risky as we think and she has moved from being very risk averse to risk seeking! This was a real light bulb moment for me. Start small, take the risk and own it, whatever it is. You can do this!

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      For me it was becoming a manager that did it. Once I saw other departments trying to treat my direct reports poorly, I went all mama-bear. Then I realized: If I wouldn’t want anyone treating my direct reports this way, why would I let them treat me that way either?

      This is not specific to salary negotiations — more like getting work dumped on me at 4:30 PM and a request for same-day turnaround, that sort of thing.

      A flat “no” usually goes over poorly, so instead I try to say things like, “I can give you X instead of Y,” and then the unreasonable requester gets to walk away feeling like she got something even if it is only 10% of what was asked for, or if it’s what was asked for but 3 days later.

    8. SarahKay*

      There’s a whole thing about disasters like plane crashes, that people who get out are ones who’ve thought about worst case, and what they’ll do / how they’ll respond, which makes it more do-able if the worst ever does happen. Obviously, life is (hopefully!) not a plane crash, but for me it’s still applicable – the more prepared I am for a given awkward situation, the better I do when it actually occurs.

      So I would say try and learn from these moments where you wish you’d acted differently. Practice what you will do or say to avoid them in future – and also know what risks you are or aren’t willing to take to avoid being in that place again.

      My example: my company only offers a fixed maximum percentage for internal role moves, regardless of how much ‘higher’ the new role is. The first time I changed roles I settled for less than what I had wanted and then regretted it for the whole next year, knowing I was badly underpaid. (I was lucky then that I had a good manager who went to bat for me and got me a decent pay rise bringing me more into line with where I should be.)
      The next time I was changing roles it was a big jump up and I knew that I was likely to hit the same ‘only x% increase’ offer. I worked out what my minimum acceptable amount was, and if I was willing to walk away if not offered it (I was), and practised a couple of useful phrases in front of a mirror. They offered below my minimum and I very politely said that in that case I would need to decline the move – at which point they worked out a way to get me a better deal! In this case it was x% now and x% again in six months (confirmed in writing), which I was happy to accept.

      Good luck!

  10. Lance*

    What do you put on a resume for an internship where you, well… don’t do anything? (I’m not exaggerating; I’ve had one day of actual work for the past month and a half, and the rest has been me sitting there with vague half-assurances that they were looking for/would have something for me ‘soon’)

    The extent of what I have done boils down to ‘here’s a spreadsheet, here’s a database page, find what you can and fill in the reference point on the spreadsheet’. No critical thought, no ability to even use any spreadsheet tools needed. I already have a hard enough time finding any sort of work, so I need something, but I’m honestly not sure what to do here.

    1. Holly*

      Well… this is a big problem. Is the person in charge of your internship aware you’re not getting work to do? Are you getting credit through your school? If so, you need to tell your school about it. The answer really is – leave and get a better internship. If you’re not going to do that, you need to really hustle and make damn sure you’re getting work to do to put on your resume, even if it’s coming up with an idea yourself and pitching it. You can’t just make something up, you need to make your own opportunities.

    2. bdg*

      How much longer do you have in your internship? Any chance you have enough time to get some more experience there?

      If it were me, and I had a month there:

      1. Ask to be scribe for a project with weekly meetings (take down action items and make sure they get distributed to people in involved, track due dates, etc)

      2. Ask to observe literally anything

      3. Ask someone in a more hands-on job to shadow them (for me, that would be something like shadowing maintenance or testing as they do stuff – literally shadowing an electrician, even though it’s nothing to do with my job)

      4. Find any and all certifications and training and do as many/much as possible

      5. Own *something*. Even if you just create some on-boarding document like “what permissions you need to request for access” or “here are the people we work with and what they’re in charge of.” Literally anything that can be passed on to someone else.

      If you can’t do any of that, you’re going to need to take the spreadsheets or databases (or both) and figure out why they matter. It may be a stretch, but thinking critically about the work you did, even it’s not critical thinking work, shows that you understand that not all jobs are hard but they all contribute somehow.

      Good luck! I’ve had 6 internships, and some were a LOT better than others haha.

    3. Elle*

      “Learned …” “Assisted in …” “Participated in…” “Shadowed…”
      A big part of what people are looking for from interns is humility and eagerness to learn. Even if you don’t *do* anything, you can still learn a lot to apply at your next job. Start asking coworkers if you can tag along to meetings. Ask your boss if you can shadow him/her for the day. Volunteer yourself to be the note taker in meetings. Anything that will help you immerse yourself in the company culture and learn the lingo of your chosen field. Carry around a notebook, whenever a phrase is used in a meeting that you don’t understand, write it down and ask about it later.

      Bonus: coworkers will get sick of you shadowing them soon enough. And when you’re sitting next to them sometimes its easier for them to realize “oh! Lance could totally do X!”

  11. Bee's Knees*

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Wakeen was talking about a TV show, and said you have to watch it to know what’s going on. What a shocking revelation.

    My counterpart, Violet, brought her grandson by to trick or treat on Wednesday. (She also brought candy for us to give him.) It went well. I tried to dye my hair pink. It did not go well.

    I may have to smash our fax machine. It broke, IT came to fix it, pulled it apart, and left it in pieces. I made them bring us a replacement. It was running out of ink, and Fergus was getting sixty pages that he already had, but we had to let come through, because there might be something new in there. There wasn’t. And every three pages or so, I had to take out the ink cartridge and shake it, and try again. Not fun.

    Fergus is bad, but honestly, Wakeen is giving him a run for his money. Fergus talks a lot, but Wakeen just… talks. Doesn’t matter if anyone is listening. I got to hear ALL about his wife’s dental issues, their car, what he thinks about some articles in the paper (which he read to us) and whatever crosses his mind.

    Our jobs have a lot to do with email. Which makes sense. Wakeen was waiting on someone in the school system to call him back. He emailed, then called again a few hours later. Which was hours after that day’s deadline. He was SHOCKED that no one had responded to his email right away. I told him I would be surprised if I heard back from someone right away, and he didn’t know what to make of that.

    1. LKW*

      I’m not defending Wakeen but I love Chopped and Property Brothers because you absolutely do not have to pay attention to that show to know what’s going on. There’s weird food. There’s an old house, maybe it has asbestos or bad plumbing. They make food. They fix the house. Someone uses the fryer or the ice cream machine and the other cook has to wait. They decorate the house in mid-century modern.

      You have now seen every episode of those two shows.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I agree. He was talking about This is Us, I think, at the time. He couldn’t understand why if he missed an episode, he wasn’t caught up. He then explained to us the wonders of a DVR, and how it works.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        My natural hair color is too dark. It said blonde on the can, but mine is a dark blonde, and it didn’t show up, which irked me, because the smell from it sure did.

        1. CynicallySweet7*

          Yeah that happened when I tried to dye my -also dark blondes- hair pink. They really should be more specific and say light shades of blonde. You could try doing a lower concentrate bleach tho. B/c it’s already blonde you don’t have to leave it in as long or do as strong a dose. Don’t use lemon!! Had a friend who tried the lemon and sun trick and it made her hair brittle as all hell!

          1. Bee's Knees*

            It was just a temp spray I was trying for one day, so I’m not that upset about it, just irritated. I think my mother would have a heart attack if I dyed my hair pink.

  12. Zoe Karvounopsina*

    Drama at work: my Dragon Co-worker (hoards both knowledge and objects) is leaving. I can’t honestly say I’m surprised, but it wasn’t handled very well. The CEO’s email says she’s ‘done her best in every role she was placed in’, and apparently, she didn’t *know* about it until the meeting where she was told. (Though I’m not sure that’s on her manager. I could have told you it was coming at SOME point)

    I am generally supportive and optimistic, because I feel like she’s been our org’s missing stair for a while, if that missing stair was really well decorated and lovely to stand on, but you couldn’t take a step off it. (My metaphor is falling down here)

    1. LKW*

      Shall we collectively interpret the CEO’s message as “she did her best (and that wasn’t very good)” ? I’d like to do that. I’m going to do that.

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        Yes, you definitely can, but as an announcement to the entire office that someone is leaving, it wasn’t great.

        (We absolutely all interpreted that way! I’m not sure we were meant to. It has led to Bad Feeling given that Dragon worked here for 18 years.)

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      We have hoarder here and I have to work directly with her quite often. I’ve called her out on it a couple of times (she trained me so if I’m not doing something right guess whose fault that is) and get lots of free stuff from my coworkers who are too afraid to say something. Luckily we have a new boss who also just doesn’t care that she is managements favorite and flat out told her that part of her job is to share information and cross-train people.
      I loved it.

  13. Nervous Accountant*

    OK, story time.

    I introduced this guy on last week’s thread as the one who fights me on everything. I don’t have a nickname for him. Let’s call him Kevin I guess.

    Short version–had a “talk” with Kevin about him yelling at me in the open office, and how he ignores my instructions on putting the phone on silent.

    Long version–

    Incident #1–the phone volume. This is on Monday.

    Conversation literally went like:

    Phone rings
    me: Hey Is there a reason you’re not turning it off. (at this point, this is the 2nd time in the day, and 6th time since Thursday I’ve asked him to keep it on silent).
    him: Ignore
    me: “Kevin”
    Yeah?
    me: Hey Is there a reason you’re not turning it off?
    him: Ignore
    me: ” Kevin ”
    him: Ignore
    me: Is there a reason you’re not turning it off?
    me: ” Kevin !”
    him: I heard you.
    I’ve asked you 5 times now to turn it off. This is not an option. I am not picky about phone use, if you need to get in touch with someone or make a phone call but I’ve asked you many times now to keep the phone on silent. We’re in an open office and the noise can be distracting.

    Second incident:

    Gave him a client when his calendar was open, gave him 40 minutes notice. (Before anyone questions me for doing this–I’m not going to argue about why this is right or wrong, but we all do this here, have done this, and will do this. We’re all expected to do last minute stuff from support to management level, no exceptions).

    He insists that no he can’t take it b/c I scheduled it over his lunch hour even though 1) it was not his lunch hour, 2) he was not with another client. I tried to use a soft, friendly approach. He goes to lunch, let’s the call time fly by. When i saw he wasn’t coming back in time, I had a support call him and tell him he’s running late; client ended up screaming at him, and I took the call and smoothed things over.

    I wanted to talk to him casually before escalating this in to a “talk” talk. And it went as well as baptizing a cat. He said he didn’t get what the issue is. I said what the issue was, and that when I’m telling him to do something, it’s not optional. It escalated to him slightly shouting that I was being unprofessional for bringing it up. People stared. When he raised his voice, I told him let’s go to a private room but he didn’t want to. I told him this is not how he speaks to anybody here and we’ll talk later.

    I talked ot him on Tuesday. Alone. and again…that didn’t go great lol. It was about 20 minutes, and it started off OK, breaking the ice etc. I had my talking points ready. Tried to frame it as, ultimately we’re trying to give a good experience to the client, and not calling an already pissed off client is not how to do it. I also mentioned the phone thing and he literally said nothing. Blank stare. He basically said he didn’t do anything wrong and said I shouldn’t have given it to him, it was all my fault and that I’m trying to cover my own ass for something I did wrong. He said he doesn’t care if the client was abusive to the support: “[support] is a big boy he can handle it.”

    I’ve kept my mgr in the loop about it, and we sent him a follow up email to recap on it. No answer, phone still goes off. Our boss says I handled it well. I also asked people in my life (not at wrk) and all said to get my mgr involved. I did involve him, but only for him to give me pointers and script ideas. He said that if he gets involved early on, it’ll just undermine me, and I need to get more comfortable with having these types of talks if I want to be in a higher role.

    I really struggled with letting him have the last word (is that even a thing at work????) or putting my foot down. I just really hope that the voice shaking and feeling like my blood sugar dropping stops once I get more practice on this.

    1. RickTq*

      If you have the authority start him on a PIP to Terminate. Kevin is a real piece of work and isn’t going to change.

        1. Boredatwork*

          – This is the problem. Kevin knows that you don’t have any power over him, his career, or his compensation. Your boss needs to put on his big boy pants, tell Kevin that based on your feedback, he’s on a PIP effective immediately.

          I mean without consequences, bad employees just keep running a muck.

          1. SouthernBelle*

            Allllll of this!!!

            Kevin will continue to be Kevin until there are consequences for his actions. And until you have the full backing of your manager to invoke consequences, there’s little to no chance that Kevin’s behavior is going to improve.

            He is a stain on your department. Shout it out.

            1. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

              I have to agree. Kevin is going to continue to misbehave until someone with authority – your manager, for example – steps in.

              I don’t know your manager, but I suspect that he is attempting to ignore the issue. It may be up to you to get him to Man Up and show Kevin the Consequences.

              Final thought: is Kevin annoying any other people at the office?

              1. Nervous Accountant*

                No he’s not ignoring it or letting it slide.

                Part of the bigger picture—he needs me to be more comfortable taking on feedback convos

                1. tink*

                  If you don’t have authority to do anything (except talk to the mgr) when you have these feedback convos, then you’re probably not really going to get through to anyone with the feedback, imo? You’re basically between a rock and a hard place being expected to give feedback without the ability to apply discipline or rewards as a follow-up.

                2. Noobtastic*

                  So, tell him, you did the feedback thing, and the feedback YOU got from this is that 1) Kevin has the right to treat anyone he wants like trash, and 2) the boss has Kevin’s back, not yours.

                  You DID the feedback. Now the boss needs to do HIS job. IF he really wants to delegate this sort of thing to you, then he needs to delegate some authority to deal with it, as well. You need authority and power to discipline and reward, or “feedback” will accomplish nothing.

                  And this “continue to document” is rubbish. Kevin has already behaved in a way that is termination-worthy. By “continuing to document,” they are just telling you, and all the other co-workers, that the line is waaaaaaay farther way than it ought to be, and that everyone can behave horribly, and be free from consequences, just as long as someone is writing it down, for that elusive future.

          2. Kittymommy*

            Way late to the game, but all of this. Kev needs to go. Hard enough he’ll bounce. And whoever can do it should have done it yesterday.

        2. Jessi*

          Tell your manager that this isn’t the sort of person you would ever hire and he needs to go on a PIP. When someone hiring up the chain says ‘Put your phone on silent’ the answer is ‘sure’ or ‘Sorry must have forgotten, I’ll do it now”.

          Your manager is crap – making you be responsible but not giving you enough power to fire this moron

        3. Noobtastic*

          Do you have authority to ask your manager to put him on a PIP?

          I hate being in a position of responsibility without authority. If you don’t at LEAST have the back-up of your own management, then you have nothing at all, but a good reason to take your talents elsewhere.

          He yelled at you, in public, and ignored you, in public, and undermined you, in public, and if there are no consequences to him, then everyone else who saw it will start thinking it’s OK to treat you that way, too. And that? That’s not YOUR fault. That is your MANAGER’S fault, for not having your back.

          Request a PIP, ASAP.

    2. Four lights*

      It sound like you’re doing okay trying to talk to him (except I think you should have “talk” talked to him earlier), but the fact is he’s not even pretending to agree to what you want. This is massive insubordination. I think this should be escalated.

      I also wouldn’t feel too bad about managing this. Most people will attempt to improve or do what their manager says, and this guy is being ridiculous.

    3. Temperance*

      Does your org have a reprimand structure? If so, you need to reprimand Kevin for insubordination. Period. If he wants to shout at you, respond loudly speaking and reiterating your point. Don’t back down. I think that will undermine your authority, especially if you’re female. Suggesting that you speak in private after he publicly yelled at you isn’t a good look.

      Don’t frame it as “we’re trying to give a good experience to the client”, frame it as “you purposely ignored a client, took lunch before your scheduled time, and ignored a direct order from your supervisor”.

      1. Ali G*

        Agreed. He’s had no repercussions for his completely egregious behavior, so he’s not going to change, unless he is reprimanded.
        Nervous Accountant, you do not need to be nice to this jerk. He’s undermining you at every turn and just plain ignoring you, as his manager. He needs to know that if he continues to ignore your request and not do his job, he’s out on his butt.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I don’t think I am being nice anymore. But I also do not want to change my core personality to appease ridiculous people.

          His phone still goes off, but I have better things to do than to babysit a goddamn adult.

          1. Close Bracket*

            The suggestion is to formally reprimand him, not appease him. Formal reprimanding def needs to be part of your skill set, even if it’s not part of your core personality.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        My manager is the one who wanted to frame it this way, so that’s why I said what I said. I’ll keep that script in mind though for the future.

        The way it works here (and i imagine most places) is that there’s a conversation (which is a verbal warning), plus email about it to reiterate everything. If person doesn’t improve, they will be formally written up and eventually let go.

        I honestly don’t expect the guy to change, I’m just keeping track of everything as I’ve been advised to do.

        1. Venus*

          In our workplace there are 6 steps, although if someone was this bad it wouldn’t take too long to get through them (and each, I believe, involves a meeting in person and then email / written documentation):
          1. oral reprimand
          2. written reprimand
          3. suspension
          4. financial penalty
          5. demotion
          6. termination or discharge
          It seems like a lot, but sometimes people do change when penalties are imposed.

          And agreed with your manager – document everything!

        2. Ann O.*

          So was the conversation you had the first part of the process leading to termination? Because if so, it seems like everything is on track and you and your manager are both doing everything you need to do. And I can’t wait to read the update when you get to say that Kevin is fired!

        3. only acting normal*

          If the conversation is a verbal warning, you need to say those exact words: “This is your verbal warning.” Plus maybe “If Y happens again next step is X.”
          Because Kevin doesn’t seem to believe it is an actual step in an official process of reprimand (vs an everyday reprimand), probably because he perceives you as having responsibility but no authority.

        4. ..Kat..*

          It seems to me that the next step is a formal write up. But, you said that your boss won’t let you do that yet. Why not? What will it take to get to that step? It seems like your boss won’t back you up for a write up and then dismissal. Whether purposely or not, your boss is jerking you around.

      3. Noobtastic*

        ““you purposely ignored a client, took lunch before your scheduled time, and ignored a direct order from your supervisor” and in so doing, gave a BAD experience to the client. You purposely hurt our client, and our reputation with the client, who will surely talk to others.”

        You tried playing nice. Now play hard-ball. Never take him in private. Sure, use your inside voice, but if HE escalates, then HE is the one bringing the awkward, not you. Give it back to him on a platter, as you stand your ground.

    4. LCL*

      I just want to say I am delighted to read that you have got more confidence and are better able to stand up for yourself.

      1. LKW*

        Yes. I love the reuse of the phrase “This is not optional”

        But yeah – your manager needs to deal with this. The phone thing is annoying as fuck and he’s behaving like a toddler because he knows it irks you. If you really want to drive a point -have everyone turn their phones on full volume with different tones for email, phone, etc and let them all go off all day. But I fully admit it’s seriously childish.

        As for the client – THAT is where you can lay out the impact of his nonsensical behavior. If the expectation is that a person receives information and is expected to act upon it within a certain amount of time, and he refused on “principle” and the end result was 1) pissed of client and 2) more effort on the part of your company to soothe the client than would have been needed to simply resolve the issue – that is $$. It’s reputation. It’s loss of income if the client leaves. That your manager can dig into.

      2. Nervous Accountant*

        Thank you LCL! It’s like a switch went off, I wrote in another post below that I’m not going to be a common denominator in this crap sandwich. It doesn’t reflect badly on me if someone is acting like a jackass despite warnings. And this guy i s a huge jackass.

    5. Kathenus*

      I think the talks are all great, you’re dealing with things quickly in the moment, and as needed afterwards with set talking points. Now it needs to be backed up with consequences. You’ve seen that he isn’t going to just change because you asked him to. He needs an incentive. And without consequences for his actions he’s going to assume the talk is meaningless and he can just ignore it. You’re on the right path, keep going and hold him accountable. Good luck!

      1. Easily Amused*

        Agreed. You used the words “it’s not optional” and yet, he still very much sees your request as optional.

    6. pony tailed wonder*

      Have you had him sign something that says that he has been warned about these things multiple times and does that document list a consequence that you can follow through on?

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        We sent an email to follow up, but of course he ignored it and did not acknowledge it. My mgr was cc’d on it, so he knows that he knows what’s going on. The document to sign off on will be a written warning, which will happen if any of this continues (and I’m positive it will).

        Honestly, even if he DID have a point about the client or what happened, teh way he went about it was wrong and in my eyes has destroyed any credibility (I have to keep reminding myself that yes, I am allowed to be on that side of the equation now).

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      Thanks for the input all. I post theiugh my phone and it’s easier to do one big comment now than multiple ones so hopefully this addresses everything, apologies if not.

      I don’t think that there are no consequences, they’re not immediate but there are consequences.

      His phone goes off but I’m not about to touch someone’s property, nor am I a babysitter where I’m constantly yelling to turn off his phone. so I don’t know what else *I* can do to enforce this, aside from making sure it’s documented, as I was advised to do.

      I’m 99.9999% this is not a gender thing, as he speaks to my (male) mgr this way as well; in fact he’s arguing with him about sick days vs PTO.

      As much as I hate his attitude that’s not enough to get someone immediately fired here. It’ll take time. Just bc I had the bad luck of working at places with immediate firing, does not mean that this company will do the same.

      1. Venus*

        You can’t touch the phone, but is there something to be put over it to muffle the noise slightly? (paper towels?) I know that isn’t very helpful as a suggestion, but that would be reaaaaally irritating me

      2. ThankYouRoman*

        I’m oddly relieved he’s just a scumbag and not just a sexist.

        That aside, I’m glad you’re doing better communicating through this tantrums. You’re doing it all right. Keep documenting and we shall do a “Kevin was Fired Today” dance when that axe falls on this dick one day.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          I mean I don’t like him but I don’t want an axe to fall on his dick, that’s too harsh.. :-) lol

          The good thing about this place… toxic people don’t last here.

          1. ThankYouRoman*

            You’re far better than I am. I wanna swing the axe at his dick myself ;)

            Thank goodness the turds flush eventually!!!

    8. WellRed*

      I know you said you don’t having firing authority, but can you start managing him out? I mean, can you say something like, “I’m not sure you’re a good fit for this role.”

    9. chi chan*

      Try short sentences to describe what he is doing. He has called you unprofessional. Have you said ignoring people, shouting and making clients wait is unprofessional and he has been doing that for 3 days??? now. “Stop ignoring me. ” “Stop antagonizing clients.” “Why are you shouting? ” “Just do XYZ.”
      On the phone, maybe compromise on low volume.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      He sounds like he thinks he is in kindergarten.

      I dunno. I think I would let him see me making documentation.

      “I have asked you to turn your phone off, that has not happened. Why?”
      He stares at you and says nothing.
      So then you read out loud as you write. “I asked Kevin why he has not turned his phone off after being asked numerous times. He stared at me and failed to answer my question. Kevin sometimes chooses not to speak when spoken to directly by his supervisor. Kevin has difficulty accepting supervision.”

      And then you remind him that your notes will become a part of his permanent work record at your company.

      This whole thing is happening because of your boss not giving you the back up you need. Some people actually need to have a big boss tell them, “This is your boss and you need to do as she says. Failure to do so will end in dismissal.” Kevin is one of those people. Your boss fell down on the job again.

      Your work place is something else. It’s really something else. I hope you are able to get out of there soon.

        1. Nervous Accountant*

          He has at least 10 years of experience, he had good references. For the most part, he is good with clients

          1. only acting normal*

            So…
            He has at least 10 years experience… of being a dick.
            He had good references… from people relieved to be rid of him because he’s a dick.
            *Some* of the time he’s a dick with clients.
            ;-)

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        My mgr does have my back actually and he’s not neglecting this guy. We rarely terminate anyone on the spot.

        It’s in part of a bigger context—He wants me to be comfortable giving feedback and dealing with staff performance issues since I want to move up higher (if not here then elsewhere).

        1. XO baby*

          But he won’t give you the authority necessary to back up those conversations and deal with those issues. So it’s largely meaningless, and it’s not effective in dealing with this guy. He knows you don’t have any real authority, so he’s not bothered.

          This is poor management all around.

        2. Noobtastic*

          How is it even possible to be comfortable giving feedback if you have neither tools, nor authority to use them, to make that feedback meaningful? Discipline and rewards are what make feedback meaningful.

          Your boss has put you in the Uncomfortable situation of making you try to do a job without the tools to do it. You’re trying to carve a marble statue with your bare hands, and he wants you to “feel comfortable” doing it, before he’ll give you a chisel?!

    11. Girl friday*

      I was just talking to my daughter about this today! The phone thing is a big deal. You have to have compliance on the little things, or you have a serious respect issue! This guy is insubordinate.

      1. Noobtastic*

        I’d confiscate the phone until the end fo the day. Turn it in to Security.

        If he’s going to act like a school child, he gets treated like a schoolchild. And if you don’t want to touch his property, then don’t touch it. Call Security, and have THEM take the phone away until the end of the day.

  14. Wannabe Disney Princess*

    Had a job interview last Friday. Got a phone call on Wednesday that they want to move forward with me. So, now, I’m (not at all) patiently waiting for the background check to finish.

      1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

        The HR rep on the phone said she would be working on her end with the compensation team to come up with a number. So, as long as there’s nothing I don’t know about in my background check that I don’t know about, it should turn out alright. (I HOPE.)

          1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

            I have! I let it wane for a while because there’s only so much rejection, roadblocks, etc. that I could take before it became demoralizing. So when I felt myself feeling negative, I’d just pause. Refocus elsewhere. Then start back up. Rinse and repeat.

            This place is actually a vendor of ours, so I knew they’d at least recognize the company name. Figured it couldn’t hurt!

  15. Motivating the unmotivated*

    How do you motivate people who are unreliable, don’t want to work, hate their jobs and are only in their industry because the money is good and they don’t have to put forth much effort? There’s little to no accountability and firing them isn’t an option. Even if they were to be fired from Company ABC, they can easily turn around and be hired for Company XYZ.

      1. Motivating the unmotivated*

        We have tried that in the past, but people can lie and make up the fact that they hit their targets, or they don’t care about the bonus because they think the target isn’t realistic.

      1. Motivating the unmotivated*

        I really appreciate you responding! To give you a clearer picture, a lot of the work in this industry is short-term contract work with no guarantee of continued employment once the assignment ends, but everyone who works in the industry is made aware of this fact before they even apply for the role. I think this leads to the unreliable, unmotivated workers.

        Sometimes they are fired, but they can turn around and do the same thing to another company and I find that multiple companies that I have worked for have hired plenty of employees like this. We are contractors and we are free to work for whatever agency we wish to.

        To give you an idea, some of the problems are people simply not showing up to shifts they had agreed to work with no notice to anyone, showing up in incorrect attire (some jobs require a specific uniform), showing up late consistently (in excess of 15 mins), calling out with only a few hours before their shift is supposed to start, leaving the job site for extended “bathroom breaks” when the rest of the team is working hard, etc. While I love what I do, I feel that it seems unfair that someone who is also so lazy gets paid the full day rate that I get paid and they don’t do as much work.

        1. zora*

          Yeah, the structure is the problem here.
          People who are good and are motivated, are going to self-select for positions that have security and long-term growth of some kind. Short term contract roles are going to be left with only the unmotivated, as a rule.

          If your company/industry doesn’t or isn’t able to change it’s business model to have actual secure positions that take care of people as more than a paycheck, then this is the price of admission.

          In that case, I think the only solution is to plan for the fact that people will be flakes and not work hard. By staffing up so you have padding for those who no-show, by finding other ways to reward the good workers, and just accept that you will always have a certain percentage of under-performers.

    1. samiratou*

      Do you work at ABC? Then fire them. At least then they’ll be XYZ’s problem.

      I don’t think there’s a way to motivate people who really don’t want to be motivated.

      1. Motivating the unmotivated*

        Although some of these unmotivated people are at ABC and higher ups at ABC have fired them, while they worked for ABC, they have caused damage to our client. I was supposed to have Sunday off last week but instead had to drive to two client locations (about 20 miles from my home one way) to “smooth things over.” These client locations were not mine to begin with. I have a client location that is much closer to my home (10 miles one way)

        While I was compensated to deal with these two client locations last week and was given the choice whether or not to do it, I chose to do it because I was the only one in town that ABC company could rely on and I truly like the higher ups at ABC. However,on Saturday, I worked from 10AM – 1AM and was looking forward to having Sunday off.

        1. samiratou*

          Ah, that sucks. I’m sorry. Now that they’re gone, are things likely to get better, or are there more of them? Does your position allow you to be involved in hiring at all? Can you help keep your company from bringing in the unmotivated to begin with? It doesn’t sound, to me, like your position allows much for motivating existing employees, but it sounds like your company is trying to deal with the situation as well as they can, which isn’t nothing. If you can help spot the unmotivated before they become your problem, that’s probably the best you can do.

          1. Motivating the unmotivated*

            The justification for last week was “we are having a hard time finding someone to visit Not My Client Location 2 and Not My Client Location 3 but we must get these client visits done.”

            I saw that they posted another ad to hire someone so hopefully I will not be asked to cover any longer. Honestly, I would have been fine with covering these two locations if they were in fact my responsibility in the first place. However,

            1 – Client visits at my assigned location are at the same time as these 2 “not mine” locations. The meeting times cannot be changed.
            2 – I am usually given very little notice of these additional responsibilities. I was asked Saturday late afternoon to handle these locations at noon on Sunday.

            1. valentine*

              You said you can say no, so, say no. Draw a line with yourself and stick to it for a few months, then reassess. You can’t fix the industry or the workers, but you can preserve your weekends and well-being.

      2. WellRed*

        yeah, i don’t understand the logic of not firing someone just because they might get hired elsewhere.

        1. Motivating the unmotivated*

          Sorry if this was unclear! They aren’t afraid of firing someone just because they will get hired elsewhere.

          What happens is:
          – Lazy Worker is hired.
          – Lazy Worker acts lazy and causes damages to Company ABC.
          – Company ABC fires them from the project.
          – Lazy Worker then gets another job at Company XYZ.
          – I also work for Company XYZ and have to deal with “picking up the slack” for Lazy Worker. There are also many, many Lazy Workers and most of the companies in the industry that I work for have hired a Lazy Worker or two.
          – Because I am Keep My Commitments Employee, I am often being asked to smooth things over for both companies. It is compensated, but I often have other obligations during times where they ask me to do damage control.

          I am also tired of how much damage control needs to be done. I have been in this industry for 9 years and this is an ongoing issue with no changes in sight. I am very annoyed at this point and hoping to offer suggestions to managers at ABC or XYZ/future employers so that this stops happening. Hence, my posting.

          1. nonymous*

            Presumably if Company ABC fires them either there’s record of the termination or the company that places contractors would be told to step up their game due to poor quality matches.

            From XYZ’s perspective, it may be that what they need to do is simply require a positive (or eligible for rehire status) for new contractors.

            Having said that, it’s normal for contractors to have to set aside 30%+ of their gross pay to cover taxes and bennies that the employer’s responsibility for staff and charge a premium for dealing with the logistics of contract work. So if you and the contractor both have an hourly rate of $D, I would expect the contractor to be working at a level of a staff being paid <70% * $D but assigned the same duties. Which is to say, very low expectations of performance in comparison to staff at the same rate.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Why not give both companies a list of people who have failed to live up to standards?

            Nothing will change in your area until you change what you are doing. The companies can keep dragging you out at all hours of the day and night to smooth things over, so they can keep hiring whatever and you will fix it.

            You can set boundaries, such as you will only work x hours per week and on any given day you will only be available for y hours. Until you draw your lines no one else will either. It’s a management problem and it’s really not up to you to fix it.

            1. Motivating the unmotivated*

              Such lists exist already but people keep slipping through the cracks or new bad apples apply and get the gig. Some companies don’t use those lists.

              I definitely decline opportunities that don’t suit my schedule and they find someone else to do “damage control” The issue with last week was that those meetings had to take place in October and I’m the only reliable one with the company equipment to do the client visit.

          3. Autumnheart*

            I think you need to recognize that in this scenario, you’re collateral damage and not a responsible party.

            If you have obligations during times when they ask you to do damage control, then say so. “I’m sorry, but I can’t take care of that because I’m out of town doing whatever.” Or don’t pick up the phone.

            If any of these companies wants to clean up their ratio of Lazy Workers to Keep My Commitments employees, then they should be the ones to feel the pain. It’s not your job to fix their issues with their hiring requirements. If you can frame it in your own mind as, “I’m being paid more because there are so many crap employees in this industry,” that might help, but otherwise you are allowed to push back and be unavailable some times. It shouldn’t be expected that you put in 7-day weeks because they don’t want to enforce more stringent hiring standards.

            1. Motivating the unmotivated*

              These companies definitely feel the pain – they’ve lost clients due to Lazy Workers. There’s one specific large contract in this area (staffing 150+ people for one night) and it’s been given to a new company every year for the last 4 years.

              This indicates to me that the company awarding this contract hasn’t been happy with Company ABC or Company XYZ or any of the other two companies they’ve used. I can guarantee you it’s due in part to unreliable staff.

    2. Dragoning*

      Does it matter if you motivate them? If you can fire them, they’re not your problem anymore. They might be hired by another company easily, but so what? Your problem is solved. Let the other company figure it out.

      1. Darren*

        I think the problem is this unmotivated person is actually ALSO a contractor for multiple companies and has to fill in the gaps when these unreliable people fail to show up. So firing doesn’t help if they still later end up working on a job for another company down the line when he is also working for them.

        1. Motivating the unmotivated*

          That’s exactly what happens. I’ve been in this industry for 9 years and it hasn’t changed a bit.

    3. ThankYouRoman*

      I have dealt with these types.

      Wash your hands of them. You’re wasting your energy and emotions.

      You know how you shouldn’t marry someone thinking “they can change!”, you’re in that exact boat right now. You cannot fix these people, they’re broken and should be purged.

    4. Quandong*

      This seems to be a problem with the system, if there’s little/no accountability & firing people is not an option.

      I suggest you stop wasting energy and effort trying to motivate these people. It sounds like you can’t get the outcome you want (i.e. that people become motivated to change their attitude and behaviour) so stop trying to do something that’s impossible.

      Do you have any way to effect systemic change instead? What areas can you apply your energy to where you’ll actually get the satisfaction of achieving something? Can you start to care less about these unmotivated people?

      1. Motivating the unmotivated*

        I think these are good questions that you posed and they definitely give me more to think about. I will definitely keep trying to rise above it or at least be happy that I make more $ off their laziness when I get asked to cover their shifts and I actually am free. :)

        In terms of changing things, a few years ago, I was asked to consider applying managing a team of these people. Because I knew that their personalities were like this, I chose to decline those opportunities. I honestly know very few managers in this industry who have a good team. The reason for one manager having a good team (no call outs or cancellations in 4 years) is that Company PQR’s pay scale is highly competitive in terms of hourly rate. They are willing to reimburse for mileage even if it’s a short trip. They pay for parking in downtown areas. Almost no other company in our industry does this off the bat and a lot of people in this industry have a sense of entitlement. They feel that the companies should pay for their parking. Meanwhile, I am glad when it is offered and take into account parking costs when selecting jobs.

    5. Noobtastic*

      You could threaten to hire that painfully cheerful former kindergarten teacher from that letter last month. The one who brought the “gratitude cards” and the face masks, and all that stuff every darn day. Read that letter to them, and say, “You don’t really want me to hire her, do you? Then buck up!”

      Alternately, do the elementary school sticker routine. Because I like stickers.

  16. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Today I learned that we have ‘red phones’ in various locations around our office that are to be used in case of an emergency (like an active shooter situation).

    We also have a very comprehensive emergency alert system. When things happened last Saturday, I got text messages and voicemails on my cell phone plus emails in my work email inbox.

    I hate that we’ve reached the point as a society where we need this, but I’m glad my company is on top of things.

    1. LKW*

      Agreed. I had to explain to a group of clients from various countries why the client site had stickers of handguns with the red circle with the slash. State law said that you had to put those up to notify people who might have concealed carry permits that they had to leave their guns in their cars or at home.

      Now I have to take active shooter training at every client site. So awful. Hide under desk. Put phones on silent as soon as possible. Keep low.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Yeah, we have yearly mandatory training modules we have to complete and one of them is on various emergency situations.

        Let me tell you, even sitting at home in my bedroom, I was kind of freaked out when I got the ‘BRONZE ALERT’ text message even though it wasn’t at my regular work location.

      2. Lora*

        See, our active shooter training taught us the exact opposite – being under your desk basically lets you patiently wait to be shot, so try to run for an emergency exit if you can, but if you can’t then barricade yourself in a room, and if you can’t do that then whack the shooter as hard as you can with something heavy because they’re looking for easy targets who sit still. They made a big thing out of how the teachers at Columbine told the kids to hide under the desks not 20 feet from an emergency exit, and as a result those kids got shot when they could have run out the emergency exit.

        We also learned that being shot doesn’t actually hurt as much as you think it will, because you go into shock very quickly. That wasn’t exactly comforting.

        It’s all depressing as heck.

        1. ThankYouRoman*

          Yeah…watch “I Survived” on Lifetime, everyone! They talk about not feeling pain until help arrives usually. It’s how you have the ability to survive without a fatal shot

          Virgina Tech shooter methodically shot people who were trapped in the rooms. They’re not there just spraying bullets overhead.

          Stay low and run.

    2. Art3mis*

      At my old company everyone was issued emergency kits. Bottle of water, flashlight, air mask, etc. Apparently they had offices in/near the WTC and decided to issue them to everyone after that.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Scary/sad, and yet, I’d rather work at a place that took those precautions than a place that did not.

          I’m of the Boy Scout persuasion: Plan for the worst and hope for the best.

    3. Blinx*

      We only have soft phones now (through our computers), which are not to be used for 911 or security. I like the red phone idea! Yes, disaster or shooter training is one of those necessary evils. We watched that Run, Hide, Fight video (it’s on YouTube). Full of common sense, but traumatic just to watch! The next year I skipped the video and just took the quiz.

      1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

        We did run-hide-fight at the last place I worked. The video is very corny, but it’s pretty sensible.

        It was actually needed at my last work, in a different way. We were a community organization that offered youth, teen, and family programming, and we had locations in neighborhoods that had significant gang activity, and that has a habit of boiling over in unexpected places, like parking lots and basketball games.

    4. dawbs*

      FWIW, I think it did exist.
      It’s just taken seriously now.

      ex: 30+ years ago, I know someone who was a teacher at a rural middle school. He was warned that the dad/stepdad/something of some students had recently gotten out of prison and was considered a high risk to try to kidnap the kids. SO keep an eye out.
      His classroom was right next to the back door of the building. He asked that the door be locked during the day, so nobody (read, scary dude) could sneak in. And for a working phone/panic button in his room.
      He was told “he’s a little guy. You’re bigger than he is”. When he said little guys carry big guns, there was no response.

      15? 20? years ago, when he retired, he was still lobbying for that damn door to be locked.

      I’ve been to that school recently. They now lock the back doors at least.

  17. anon team manager*

    There is an employee in this department who works on a different team than the one I manage. She has the same name as one of my reports (example: Dawn/Don, Erin/Aaron). There was an incident where she committed a major faux pas that cost the company money and clients. The manager of the department (my boss) got mixed up and fired my report instead of her. I was in a meeting when my report was escorted out of the building. The mistake was realized the next day but now my report refuses to come back. He was offered his job back, then a raise, then extra perks like more PTO and even a bump in title but he said no. He is still unemployed and he has moved back in with his father from what I know. I called him to try to convince him to come back but he just swore at me and hung up. He was by far the most productive person in the department. My team is worse off now and going into our busy season we are screwed without him. Is there anything I can do to convince him to come back? My boss did apologize, as did my grand-boss and even people above him. But he won’t budge and refuses to even talk to us. Does anyone have any ideas how I can rectify this? Thanks in advance to anyone who read my post. Happy Friday!

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t blame your employee, tbh. It sounds like the firing was a hare trigger response and I wouldn’t trust my position in a company like that.

      1. Birch*

        Yeah, this is not really a forgivable mistake. And it took a whole day to be realized?! I can only imagine how that poor guy feels having been escorted out of the building! This is a real fear/nightmare for a lot of people, to be blamed and punished for something you didn’t do while nobody will tell you what you’re being punished for. And the fact that he swore at you over the phone when you called to apologize is really telling. If this happened to me and I liked and trusted my team and manager, I still wouldn’t come back but I would be kinder to the person on the phone who didn’t cause the situation. It sounds like he already didn’t trust you to have his back.

    2. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      I…really don’t think you can. He got fired *by mistake*. And he wasn’t even the same gender as the person who screwed up!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t come back either. I realize you were in a meeting when your report was escorted out, but did no one give you a heads-up? This is beyond a faux pas, this is a humiliating mistake (as was what the other person did; that’s no “faux pas”, that sounds like a major error. I don’t think you can rectify it. If I were in his position, the only thing that would go a bit towards making it better would be a decently sized severance check and a few months of health insurance in addition to a great reference.

    4. Four lights*

      It sounds like you guys tried the best you could.

      You could ask him if there’s anything he wants from you. You could try back in a month after things have cooled off. I’d be pretty pissed too if my company mistakenly fired me instead of someone who has a different name from me and works on a different team. Also, presumably your boss explained why he was being fired, at which point your employee probably said, what are you talking about, I had nothing to do with that, and then he was still escorted from the building. He’s probably wondering if anyone there ever cared about him at all, or if he was just another cog, easily mistaken for someone else.

    5. Well, that was awkward*

      While I don’t think that he handled it well whatsoever by swearing and hanging up the phone on you, it seems like he is choosing to burn the bridge with your company, even after people have apologized for the mistake. I would start the hiring process ASAP.

      1. Liane*

        “…he is choosing to burn the bridge with your company…”
        The bridge was already burnt by the company, IMO. Report just said, “Nope!” when anon team manager, the higher ups, and HR* asked him to help put up a new bridge. And I don’t blame him in the least bit.
        Yes, anon team manager, I believe you that you had nothing to do with ANY of this mess and didn’t even know about it until after the firing. Unfortunately, Report may well think you were involved.

        If I were you, I would start my own job search. Do you really want to work at a place where your bosses and HR* make such egregious errors?

        *assuming HR was involved

    6. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

      Oh wow! Yeah, that’s such a crappy thing for your company to do that I don’t blame him for his reaction. I don’t think I’d want to work for a company again where those kinds of “mistakes” happen. I’d constantly be on edge wondering when the next error will affect me. Better off moving on to greener pastures.

    7. Anon From Here*

      I think it’s pretty darn reasonable not to honor any “take backsies” on getting fired on a mistake that wasn’t fully comprehended for 24-odd hours.

    8. Holly*

      I feel like there’s some missing details here… like, by any chance, did he say “I don’t understand why I’m being fired” or “I did not do that, that wasn’t me” and get any sort of rebuke? What was the explanation? I feel like it’s odd that he be informed he was being fired, escorted out of the building, without him being like “wait, what is going on here??” especially if he’s a high performer. I have a feeling something inappropriate would have transpired at that level that might explain the response even more.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is a good point. If someone escorted me out, I would damn well ask why and if they didn’t offer an explanation or listen to what he had to say, that seems indicative of some serious issues.

        1. Holly*

          Yes… like I imagine he raised the issue, and the person responsible for effectuating this firing had some sort of out of the norm or abusive response (you know what you did, shut up etc). Otherwise, wouldn’t it have been resolved right then?

        2. Tilly*

          You don’t know what you would do in someone else’s shoes. Have you never heard of a freeze response?

          1. Holly*

            Detective Amy Santiago wasn’t criticizing anyone’s response – we don’t know what the response was.

    9. Decima Dewey*

      Sounds like your company needs an addition to their HR procedures: Make sure the employee you’re disciplining or firing is the person who deserves to be disciplined or fired.

      One large library in my system has three people named Stacy. I shudder to think what could happen if someone in HR got the Stacys mixed up.

    10. samiratou*

      The best thing you can do is let him know you’ll be a good reference for his next employer.

      I mean, seriously. Your company took a bad mistake on the part of the first employee and compounded it 100x by firing the wrong person. I mean, seriously? Nobody in HR or your boss or anyone took a look at his personnel file and noticed that he wasn’t even on the team of the person who screwed up?

      This does not sound like a functional workplace. Sorry.

      1. samiratou*

        I should add, I have a person at my part time retail job who has a similarly unusual name to mine, just one letter off. And she sucks. I worry that samiralou’s call-ins and slacking off will be attributed to me, because people confuse us all the time. So, yeah, my sympathies are entirely with the fired guy, as your employer should KNOW WHO YOU ARE before making significant decisions like this.

        1. Noobtastic*

          Stuff like this is why I like employee numbers. They are not just making you a numbered cog in a machine, but are giving you an absolutely individual identification, so there is NO possibility of being fired by mistake because you share a FIRST name (did the not even bother checking the last name?! Good grief!) with a perp.

          I understand that some mistakes are so egregious that they deserve immediate dismissal, but you fire the person by the full name and employee number, not “Erin/Aaron” the “Something to do with teapots department.”

          I don’t blame this guy, at all. And if he argued or froze or flopped, he was most likely treated quite badly during the firing, let alone just being fired, in itself. I can completely see the escorts telling him to shut up, and/or calling him names, and possibly bruising him in the process, if he resisted at all.

          And did anyone make sure that all his personal effects were returned to him? Please tell me you’re not “holding his stuff hostage,” to encourage him to return?

          You’re not to blame for this, of course, since you were not actively involved, but you’re sure in a rock/hard place position, here. Frankly, I wouldn’t trust my own employment in this company. Massive red flag, here. And if you’re getting ready for the busy time, there are likely to be more bad things happen before they do the complete revamp they need to ensure this never happens again.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      Wow! Your boss and company is horrible. If I were that employee there is like NO WAY I would come back either, mistake or not. In all honesty, your manager should be fired over making such a snap judgement call without investigating.

        1. Knitty Gritty*

          I had that happen at my last company. My direct report was let go during a “layoff” – 5 days before Christmas but that’s another story – and I was not aware of what was going to happen at all. It has horrible and she very much blamed me for it. I didn’t have any knowledge of what was going to happen, but I understand her being upset.

    12. Lumen*

      I would not return to a company that made this egregious of an error. I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable there again, or able to respect the people who let such a mistake happen. Because that’s not about pay or perks, it’s something broader and yet more fundamental.

      The fact that he swore at you and hung up is… sure, unprofessional, but I think it’s also kind of understandable. But regardless, it’s also a very, very strong NO. That’s a loud and clear “Leave me the #$%& alone”. He wants nothing to do with you and your company. And whether you agree with his stance or understand it or think he’s right or not, there is nothing you can do to change that. So all you can (or should) do at this point is take the L and let him go. Don’t escalate this any further, because whatever your intentions are, it’s going to feel like harassment to him.

      What are you doing internally to address this incredibly bad mistake? What is your boss doing? Your grand-boss? What changes are being made to prevent this from ever happening again? Are YOU sure you want to stay in a company that screwed up this badly?

    13. LKW*

      I don’t think you can. This guy was humiliated because the boss didn’t take 10 minutes to make sure they were dealing with the right person. I mean, Erin/Aaron sound the same but I’m sure they don’t look the same.
      That no one who should have been consulted, like you who could have rectified the issue before it was an issue, was involved is just egregious.

      That your boss didn’t know the name of your most productive team member is where you really missed saving this. My boss regularly asks “Hows so and so doing” to check in . I try to make opportunities for my stars to get face time with leadership so they get the recognition they deserve.

      1. Cat Fan*

        Yes, the employee who made the mistake is on a different team then Anon’s. How does the higher up boss not know who is on what team?

    14. Undine*

      Being fired out of the blue is pretty traumatic. It’s a little like, “Hey, I beat up the wrong person, no hard feelings, right?” Wrong.

      What you can do is tell them you’re happy to be a reference. Also see if your company can give him a severance package of some kind. The guy is out of work through no fault of his own, and seeing actual money from you would speak way louder than words.

    15. Red5*

      I think the only thing you can do now is find out what your boss intends to do to support you and your team now that s/he made the colossal mistake of firing your most productive person, as you go into your busy season.

      Sheesh!

    16. Nita*

      Why would he want to work for a company where the boss cannot tell apart two employees (of different genders, to boot) in a serious situation like that? It’s not like someone accidentally dropped off Dawn’s coffee at Don’s desk. He was thrown out of the building without a second thought or any effort to find out why he made mistake xyz (at which point it would have become clear that he’s not the one who made the mistake).

      Also, I don’t know what Dawn did, but firing someone on the spot over a mistake might not be great management. Maybe what she did really was that bad… but given the other red flags here, wouldn’t be surprised if this is the sort of mistake that would be treated as a learning opportunity in other workplaces.

      Incidentally, is Dawn still employed?

      Really, all you can do is accept that he has very good reasons not to want to touch his former workplace with a ten-foot pole, and be a good reference if he ask.

    17. CatCat*

      Stop contacting him. He clearly does not want to hear from the company at all. He should not have sworn at you, but it sounds like the company has been way overreaching in the amount of contact its initiated and needs to STOP.

      If he ever contacts you to see if you’ll be a reference, agree to provide a positive reference.

      The company should not fight his unemployment claim.

      Those are the things the company can do to do right by this employee. For its own purposes, the company needs a long hard look at this colossal screw up, think about the impact that type of error has on the remaining employees (worrying that they’ll be fired out of the blue, working at the kind of place that can make this level of mistake, and worrying about increased workload), and take efforts to ensure this never happens again and to keep employee morale up before others start jumping ship.

      1. valentine*

        Leave him be, anon team manager. Don’t seek or accept news about him. Tell your employer to give Don Aaron a massive severance check.

    18. Scourge of incompetent management*

      I think the only course of action that would have had a chance would be for your grand-boss to have apologized AND offered him the job AND a raise AND more perks AND a bump in title AND – this is the big one – promised (then followed through) that your boss would be TERMINATED FOR CAUSE IMMEDIATELY for having made this mistake and that, if the employee chose to come back, at the earliest feasible time there would be an all-hands meeting at which the most senior person in the building unequivocally exonerates him of any wrongdoing, unequivocally states that your boss has been FIRED for his egregious negligence, and apologizes on behalf of the company. Too late for that now. If you’re going to be screwed without him in your busy season, then you’re going to be screwed.

      To be fully candid, it doesn’t seem like you fully get how egregious your company’s conduct was here. You seem to be painting your wronged ex-employee as the unreasonable one here: “refuses to come back”, “my boss did apologize”, “refuses to budge”. You also seem to imply that the company was being generous by offering him “even” a bump in title – only after he said no to the initial offer of just getting his job back.

      1. Marjery*

        Yes – this.

        I absolutely admire that he won’t come back even though he doesn’t have another job.

        OMG what sort of company is this?

    19. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Here’s the thing you can’t rectify this. Your company screwed up in an astonishingly spectacular manner. That being said, it does sound like this was a good faith effort on the part of your company to make things as right as they could be.

      Your former employee has now chosen not to return. That choice is on him and I would leave it alone from here. Don’t contact him, don’t offer anything more to him, just move on and hire someone new.

    20. NW Mossy*

      Not to sound snarky, but why do you want to continue to work there after this? Why is your boss firing your employee without so much as a courtesy heads-up to you first? If your boss had taken 5 minutes to do that, you likely could have cleared up the same-name confusion on the spot and avoided this whole mess.

      This place is full of bees. You do not want to be in an organization that thinks this is a reasonable way to make staffing decisions.

    21. irene adler*

      Move on.
      Give him the best reference you can.
      Please don’t contest if the fired employee should file for unemployment.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      My direct deposit got canceled because someone was trying to remove a fired employee off of payroll. My checks started bouncing and I was LIVID.

      My story is tame compared to what happened to your employee. Escorted out? Wow. There are very few things more humiliating.

      Your boss made the mistake so YOU have to call the guy? uh, no. Just no. It’s up to the boss or his boss to reach out. Tell your boss that you will not be contacting the employee any more as you do not want police charges filed against you.
      Tell your boss to send him a month’s severance pay with a general letter of recommendation that he can use for work. If his accrued PTO is great than a month’s pay then send the greater of the two.

      My company fires my best subordinate behind my back, I am done. (My people will realize that I cannot protect them and I will lose my authority.) I hope you seriously consider moving on.

    23. msroboto*

      IANAL – If I was him and this happened I would be calling a lawyer. This is wrongful dismissal (if this is even a legal thing). You are even admitting it is by trying to get him back.
      The company is in a precarious position here and you probably ought to back off because this could get even messier.

    24. Autumnheart*

      Your boss fired the most productive employee in your department, because they couldn’t take 20 minutes to document properly and make sure they were firing the correct person? And this was immediately after another employee committed a breach egregious enough to cost the company money and clients? Who’s running this clown school?

      Update your resume and get out of there. Your employee isn’t coming back because your company’s internal business practices are in serious need of an overhaul, and he’s walking proof.

    25. LilySparrow*

      Do your ex-report and the culprit have the same *last name* too? I’m flabbergasted how this even happened.

      Different genders (it sounds like)

      Different teams.

      Different team leads (not consulted, apparently).

      One would assume the different teams are working with different clients.

      And somehow he’s not just wrongfully reprimanded or (which would be bad enough) but terminated on the spot?

      What the heck kind of company do you work for? If I were you, I’d stop wasting my breath trying to get him back, and start putting that energy into job hunting. Good grief.

      1. tink*

        Yeah… even if this was Becky Sm. and Becky Sw. with “at a glance” similar last names AND they looked vaguely similar… why would a functional workplace not do due diligence before actually firing someone and having them escorted out?

      2. Girl friday*

        Both my daughter and I have very common names and we are often employed with people who have the same first and last names as we do. Similar situations do occur!

        1. Autumnheart*

          I work for a large company, and at one point there were 6 employees (nationwide) with the same first and last name as me, three of which were at the same location (corporate). The company assigns all workers a unique number and uses that to identify them. Occasionally someone sent an email or IM to the wrong Autumnheart, but that’s as far as it ever went.

    26. ThankYouRoman*

      This just put more HATRED and fear of companies so large and managers so out of touch you can be walked out for having a similar sounding name. That’s worse than feeling like a warm body or just an employee number. Woah.

      I would have had his same reaction. No. You can’t fix it.

      He busted his hump and this happened to him. I pray that his next job is amazing and nobody would ever fire him while his boss is in a frigging meeting.

      When we terminate anyone their boss is the one who does it. That’s the point. Even if it’s not you deciding to fire them, it’s you breaking the news.

    27. Phoenix Programmer*

      I think you should send him a severence package with another apology and confirmation that you are willing to serve as a reference for his excellent work while under you. Say what you said her – he was a credit to the team amd this mistake has lost a valuable resource.

      At this point it is not about getting him back but completing damage control so that others in your company see you owning the mistake and doing right by staff.

    28. TooTiredToThink*

      Yikes! I agree with the others that I really don’t blame him for not coming back. But I know for myself, I would totally take up the company on the raise; etc… because I don’t have anyone (like a parent) to fall back on. But you can bet that I’d be polishing up my resume and begin looking asap.

    29. Darren*

      The only way you would have a chance to hire him back would be to:

      * Adjust procedures such that this can never happen again (i.e. the manager must be informed prior to termination which would have allowed time to realise it was the wrong person).
      * Fire the manager of your department who got this so wrong in the first place (which lets be honest your company is never going to do)

      That along with the raise, extra PTO, and bump in title might get them back, but really they have no faith now in the company to do it’s role of rewarding good performance effectively.

    30. froodle*

      He was offered his job back, then a raise, then extra perks like more PTO and even a bump in title

      So they fired him without cause and then lowballed him on making it right? Ouch. Yeah I wouldn’t go back either.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Right – the first step after he was marched out due to mistaken identity was to say, oops, you can come back after all? NOPE. This guy probably can’t believe that his years of productivity/high reviews made so little impact on his management chain that they would just tank his career for no reason. And he probably had no idea that his manager wasn’t aware of this at the time and/or doesn’t believe that, so the swearing (while unprofessional) is an understandable reaction.

        He deserves a huge severance and a change in his file stating he was not fired.

    31. BluntBunny*

      You say you offered him his job back THEN a raise THEN perks THEN a bump of title that was your first mistake. You should have offered him a bump in title WITH a raise WITH perks first. He is your most productive person in the department and your company and shown that he is expendable by firing him with out speaking to you or him. Ask yourself if he did do commit this mistake would you have fired him without warning because that is what happened. He is most likely thinking that even though it was a huge mistake costing money and clients if it was his first mistake and wasn’t intentional that the company would be more reasonable and see the other value he has brought and forgive him. Either your boss believes your company is better if without him or has no idea who he is so no he won’t be coming back.

    32. Bionerd*

      Your company did him wrong. And he is under no obligation to reconsider.

      At this point all you can do is have his back, like (I presume) you would have if your boss had talked to you first.

      Don’t call him anymore. That bridge is burnt. 1. Send your ex-employee a written reference on company letterhead so he doesn’t have to ask.
      2. Send a letter or email of apology and indicate that you will be a good reference if he ever needs one (keep it to apology only, don’t ask him to come back). 3. Make sure his HR file doesn’t indicate he was fired, or that when prospective employers call they aren’t told he’s ineligible for rehire.

      1. Noobtastic*

        Mark the envelope, in big, clear letters on the front: Letter of Reference Enclosed.

        Remember the letter, a while back, where the employee (also badly wronged) was responding to all contact from her former employer by sending mail back, unopened, and with a swear word on it? Yeah, this guy will never know you wrote him a letter of reference, if you don’t clearly label it on the envelope, because he won’t be opening the mail from that company.

        He is owed a large severance package. Not just his unpaid PTO, but an actual severance package, with at least 3 months pay, to carry him over while he looks for a new job. Plus a glowing letter of reference, possibly including a mea culpa IN the letter of reference saying that he is out of a job because the COMPANY made a huge mistake, and any other company would be lucky to have him. In short, grovel.

  18. Midwest writer*

    I just need to let off some steam about the job I am leaving. I have been the editor/reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in a rural area for four years. I spent my time here building up a newspaper that has won a number of industry awards and has gained the respect of people in the towns I cover. The company has had some management changes since July, and while I wasn’t looking for a job, when I had the owner of a nearby newspaper offer me not only a significant salary bump but a chance to earn part-ownership of the business, I decided it was the right move for me and my family. Sure, all newspapers could be gone in another few years, but I take that risk at any publication. This one is in an isolated enough community that it has quite a bit of exclusivity and some economic development, so its bottom line is OK, at least for now. It was a rare opportunity and a chance I was willing to make.

    I gave notice Tuesday. I wasn’t expecting a party (my current employer had just promoted me to a title I didn’t really want, and they kind of knew that), but the response was way more negative than I expected. And then, a few hours later, someone I work closely with, who is senior to me but not my supervisor, told me that with my departure, and the fact that the freelance sports reporter we’ve used for five years also announced his resignation this week, they might just close the newspaper entirely. The paper is owned by a regional publishing company and the person who is senior to me has been doing more and more corporate duties (putting out fires, mostly from unaddressed management issues, which were the underlying reasons for the restructuring we’ve been going through). She would just end up focusing on that aspect of the job, which is full-time. We have one other full-time employee who would lose her job.

    The bigger problem is that the community would lose its sole source of local news. I feel awful — I like this town and I don’t plan to move, because I can commute to my new job. I feel like people here are going to blame me for the newspaper shutting down, if it does. I’m sort of wondering if this is some kind of bullying tactic — if you don’t leave, we’ll keep the newspaper open. I thought I worked with really great people, yet all I’ve gotten is really negative reactions. Part of me thinks this is just confirmation that now was the time to move on, because if our particular publication were doing really well, they wouldn’t even consider shutting it down.

    The good news is, after a few days, the senior person I work with asked me to reach out to some other writers I know, to see if they want to apply for my job. So I’m hoping they don’t actually close the paper.

    The response from the highest boss (I will reiterate, very weird structural changes of late) was one sentence (typically communications from him are substantially wordier). Maybe he was mad I didn’t call him? But I’ve only met him once, his family owns the business but he doesn’t work for it and even if he did, it would be at a different location two hours away. Also, it took me three work days to be able to turn in notice in person, because the person I needed to tell in person kept going to other locations for other problems (and continues to not have time for her core duties). I feel like that pretty much sums up my frustrations with the restructuring.

    1. Kathenus*

      If the paper is in such a precarious position that you leaving means it will shut down, it probably would happen soon anyway. That’s not a tenable situation. I understand your feeling bad, but it would not be your fault and you need to do what is best for your life and career. Hopefully it was a knee-jerk response and that they are now taking some more concrete steps to move forward. Feeling bad about the situation is kind of normal, but don’t carry guilt about it. If you can help them out with ideas for new people, great, but just be professional in your last days and then turn your attention to your new role. Best of luck.

      1. Midwest writer*

        Yeah, I had that thought later, too, once I was over the shock of what she said. And to be honest, I’ve heard a few things about our office’s bottom line that hadn’t left me feeling super excited about the paper’s future. The company is fine, our property maybe wasn’t. That did play a role in my decision to take this new job, too. I do have all kinds of things — story ideas I didn’t get around to writing, contact info, photos saved up for future projects, etc. –to leave them. I thought I was making a smooth transition. And then I got that weird response.
        Thanks!

    2. Work Wardrobe*

      It sounds like they really did not handle your notice well at all. It also sounds like their organization is a mess, whether you stay or not, and you can’t base your future on what management chooses to do or not do.

      You made the decision that’s best for you. Hold your head up high.

      1. Midwest writer*

        I think it is a mess. I think they are trying to make it better, but I’m not sure their efforts are having the result they want. They’re going from no middle management and a former CEO who let problems fester until someone quit or needed to be fired to TONS of middle managers. (It’s felt a bit like an Oprah show around here — You get a new title! You get a promotion! New titles for everyone!)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with WW. Some people enjoy their misery and some companies can exhibit similar behavior, they love the victim role. You know your company, perhaps this fits with other things that you have seen.
        Healthy companies like healthy people do not roll in their misery. They work at their problems and hopefully resolve them in some manner.
        You show a healthy attitude here when you say.your new job is a rare opportunity and a chance you are willing to take. This is what healthy looks like.
        Your company is acting pouty. You know, like a five year old who does not get the toy they want. It’s a manipulation to guilt you into staying. To me, it’s just another reason to leave. I would be kind, put things in a good place and leave.

    3. LKW*

      Nope -this is not on your shoulders. Things happen. I’ve had people die in the middle of projects. It’s awful but it happens.

      If a company can’t survive because one or two people leave, then the company wasn’t managing risk. If you were shouldering so much and no one could even poorly replicate what you were doing, then that’s on the company.

      If however, you refused to train people with whom you worked about your job and kept all of those skills to yourself… then do better at your next job.

      1. Midwest writer*

        It’s not that I haven’t trained anyone to do my job. We’re a newspaper — we have an editor (me) who writes the stories, a contract sports reporter, an ad salesperson and someone to run the front desk. The next closest newspaper in our company is more than 30 miles away, so they can’t just pop in and fill in. In the newspaper business, newsrooms are small, ours just happen to be one-person each. And most of the time, there’s not enough news to justify two people doing my job, just to get a bit of redundancy. That part is OK. It’s more than they seemed to be making a business decision out of spite or frustration. I don’t know that they actually were, but it felt that way in the moment. These can be hard-to-fill positions and I came in with a lot more experience than they usually get.

        1. LKW*

          If they’re pulling the plug out of spite -again, not on you. Totally understand cross training might not be possible with a four person staff. Again, that’s the risk they choose to not manage. At any time they could have had a jack of all trades supporting the staff. They chose not to.

        2. WellRed*

          I highly doubt it’s out of spite. It might just be a good time for them to reassess, where they want to be, which is easier to do if you are suddenly looking at departures and hiring and stuff. I also work in a small newsroom. Sometimes when someone leaves, the decision is made to not fill that position, or to close that publication (which was already struggling). None of this is personal and it sounds like it was time for you to move onto a new opportunity regardless of what they decide. Good luck!

    4. nonymous*

      If you are truly committed to keeping newspaper coverage in your home town, assuming your old employer shutters coverage, would it be an opportunity for growth at the new place? Obviously fully replacing coverage is not sustainable, but I’m wondering whether periodic insert (monthly or quarterly) with coverage of the old region in a way that makes financial sense would be a good match?

      After all, the audience for the old paper will need to read something else, right? Why not bring that audience with you?

      1. Midwest writer*

        Oh, yes! I think so, and this is something my husband and I talked about a bit. I would love to see my new company expand to include the market I’m leaving. I think a fairly small amount of advertising would be enough to sustain some kind of online-only venture (we’re not talking lots of full coverage, but local school stuff, sports, local government) that I could put together pretty easily. I am hoping to pitch something like this to my new boss, once I get settled in, and we see if my current paper stays in business. Or even if it doesn’t, I might be able to bring some of my readers with me to the new paper, if it was able to expand coverage a bit. One of the things I’ve done here is cover local news, but also incorporate localized state stories (think state government stuff) that people have found really interesting.

  19. Pollygrammer*

    I mentioned yesterday in the delightful “unprofessional” thread: I’ve been at a job for a week and I’m bailing after today. I’ve never done that before, but I’m not going to feel bad about it.

    I’ve been astonished at how dehumanizing a really formal, hierarchical office can be. I’ve literally been told not to speak until spoken to with all the senior staff. “They look like you, but they’re not like you.”

    How do people handle this? Is the promise of eventually moving up the ladder really enough to keep people going?

    1. Kaz*

      Only to people who really relish the idea of someday being able to dehumanize others. That sounds deeply disturbing. How are you supposed to have any kind of collaborative work done between people who aren’t of exactly equal rank? Who is ever going to risk pointing out a mistake made by senior staff, no matter how major?

    2. Lumen*

      Being told over and over and over for years that money is the only thing that makes you a worthwhile human being is a hell of a drug. It also makes people real susceptible to this sort of dehumanization in the workplace.

      Good for you for recognizing that this is a gross place to be and not somewhere you’re willing to stay.

    3. Kathenus*

      I’m new-ish at my organization (several years, but the culture here is decades), and have been told to my face that what matters is seniority here, not your role or time/experience in the field in general. I’ve never worked anywhere before so strictly hierarchical like this, especially for management. It’s demoralizing.

    4. Nita*

      “They look like you, but they’re not like you.” For real? What, they’re robots or something? Glad you’re bailing. Heard plenty of disfunctional workplace stories, but this is a new one and I’m pretty sure most people don’t handle this because it doesn’t come up. There are lots of workplaces that are formal and not great about how they treat lower-level employees, but these guys seem to have taken it to a new level.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        Yeah, I didn’t think places like this really existed.

        “He might introduce himself as Mike, but he’s Mr. Smith or Sir to you.”

        And completely formal dress code, including pantyhose. I don’t even wear pantyhose to job interviews or funerals. The job I’m taking is a lower salary, but I’m not questioning my decision.

        1. Lumen*

          “Don’t look Mr. Smith Sir in the eyes! The alien intelligence inside of him will awaken to devour lesser souls! Look away, look away!”

          Such BS.

      2. A-nony-nony!*

        I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself from saying “How so?” just to see what words came out of their mouth to justify such a statement.

        I wouldn’t last a week there, so I’m impressed you made it that long. Good luck with your new job!

      3. Lanon*

        They tried that crap with the custodial and support / warehousing staff at our place. They were instructed to only call the devs and lab people by surnames and to be real formal and stuff.

        Lasted about a week tops because we all get along great and treasure our direct and honest communication with each other. Also, being referred to by surname makes me feel old.

    5. Art3mis*

      My old job was like that. We were the support staff and the important lawyers at the east coast office couldn’t be bothered with whatever petty questions we had, even if it was the fastest way to clear things up. Though every time I did speak to them, they were all very nice and pleasant and happy to help. One time I emailed one of them a quick question, and got a quick response, but b/c I had to cc a ton of people on my emails it BLEW UP the next day about how I should not have emailed that person. I was there less than a year and would have left after only a couple of months if I could have afforded to quit without something else.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I handled it wrong, I guess.
      I made sure that I looked Mr. Smith in the eye and said “Good morning, Bob.” before he said anything.

      It was funny because no one else did that, so he did not know what to do. He said good morning back to me and looked kind of lost.

      “NSNR, YOU CAN’T DO THAT!”

      Too late. haha.

      Nothing happened to me because of it.

    7. Yay commenting on AAM!*

      Honestly, every job I’ve had where I got a red flag on Day 1, I ended up finding way worse stuff the longer I stayed, and by the time I left, I was frustrated and demoralized and had just wasted time off my job search. It’s best that you listened to your intuition and cut your losses early on.

    8. Jane of All Trades*

      Oh man! Good for you for getting out of there! I started a new job 6 weeks ago and while the hierarchy is not as terrible, it is terrible enough. I’ve never before been in a job where I seem to have to reach some level of seniority to be recognized as a human. It feels awful. And the weird thing is, this appears to be true only for my department, which I am temporarily assigned to. I can’t quit because I invested so much to be able to get this job, and it pays twice as much as my old, but if it’s still this bad in a few months I’m out of there.
      I really hope your new job is much better. Good on you for leaving!

  20. Penelope*

    I posted last week about feeling stressed and anxious from finding it my contract won’t be renewed. Over the past week or so I’d started updating my CV, LinkedIn etc., and filling in job applications. For a few days I started to feel like I was starting to get a better hold on my anxiety and being able to get on with things.

    But for some reason, last night I started feeling out of control again and I can’t pinpoint why. It’s like suddenly I’m back to that day I got the news, I can’t eat or sleep. It’s terribly frustrating because I really need to function properly – both with applications and to wrap things up at my current job.

    Could it be due to the monthly cycle? I don’t usually experience extra anxiety as part of it but my stress levels are pretty heightened right now. I’m hoping this is temporary and will calm down again by tomorrow. The last two weeks have been so difficult and I know it’s going to continue to be stressful for a while. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for disappointment but I know (from experience) I’ll feel each one hard.

    I wish I had a magic crystal ball to tell me it’ll all work out for the better. Right now I just feel like my walls are closing in and even though I know I need to take actions to get myself out I can barely move for anxiety and fear.

    1. Very Special Librarian*

      Have you thought of seeing a therapist? Being paralyzed as you are it might help to have a third person POV on the situation. I’m not trying to do an arm chair diagnosis, but I have found my therapist and therapy to really helpful in the past.

    2. Arachnia*

      Ah, isn’t brain chemistry delightful. :(
      I’m really sorry you’re going through this- whether it’s hormones or a bout of depression or anxiety whatever. Is there any way you can talk to a therapist or someone like that? Maybe even online? My husband experiences similar things, so you have my utmost sympathy – for him, it’s usually a matter of time and sleep to get over it, but while it’s happening it’s just awful. He gets by just doing the bare minimum of what’s required so that his life doesn’t fall apart, so maybe if you can figure out what that is, it will help.

    3. Lumen*

      Emotions that we suppress (often for very good, survival-based reasons like “I can’t focus on this right now, I need to update my CV and LinkedIn and and and”) have a way of coming back. And back. And back. Until we really sit with them, feel the discomfort in all its lurid intensity, and work our way through it. Through ALL of it.

      And then when those emotions team up with hormones, things get real extra special.

      So it could be both. Spend some time with your feelings. Don’t judge them. It’s okay to feel scared. It’s okay to feel sad and angry. Things get exponentially harder when we not only feel a tough thing, but then get worked up about the fact that we’re feeling it. Ie, this level of stress is bad enough without adding in stress ABOUT the stress.

      Remember to breathe, take it slow, and be very gentle with yourself. Eat what you can even if your appetite is shot. Lie quietly in bed in the dark, eyes closed, just to rest your body, even if it’s hard to sleep. Don’t look at the clock. You’re correct that your ability to function is non-negotiable, but you will not be able to beat anxiety out of yourself. All that will do is increase the anxiety. The approach to take with yourself and your anxiety is soft, tender, and patient.

      Try not to take it too hard when the disappointments happen – I know that’s easier said than done, but it is important to build up your resilience. There are so many options and opportunities for you out there, so don’t get married to each one. That’ll just break your heart.

      Every time the emotions come back and you give them the respect and care that you deserve, they’ll feel a little less intense.

      I think you are your own crystal ball, here: you know that things will work out, and be better for you. That’s your higher self trying to talk you down from your panicked self. Listen to THAT voice, the one telling you that you have been in rough situations before and got through them just fine. You’ll get through this one, too.

      1. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life*

        As someone who is going through a similar time, thank you for this articulate wonderful response. It is so easy to let the depression and anxiety make me feel bad for feeling bad, if that makes sense.

      2. Penelope*

        Thank you for the thoughtful reply.

        The thing is I thought I /had/ dealt with the emotions. The first few days were awful but then by the first weekend I thought I’d gotten a grasp on the situation, and this week I’d managed to update my CV and start writing cover letters. I don’t know why I’m experiencing this sudden crash right now and it’s scaring me because it’s hindering my process.

        Maybe I’m just having a bad day (or a bad night last night). I plan on going back to the gym tomorrow (Saturday) morning , I haven’t been since I got the news and I don’t think that’s helping with my state of mind.

        1. Lumen*

          I think that’s just because emotions, even if we’ve processed them, can still get triggered, or come up like a toddler screaming ‘pay attention to meeeee’. And that’s perfectly normal and okay. Don’t freak out about feeling the sudden crash – just feel it. You’re allowed. This is stressful! Take care of yourself.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            Exactly!

            The only thing that kept me going when I got laid off was that I had made a very detailed to do list and worked through it. I am not a list maker; but it helped me keep my emotions in check. Then when things were really bad, I took a nap.

    4. Nita*

      I get that too. Not sure what’s causing it, but my guess is just that stress is sneaky and can be set off by things you’re only aware of subconsciously. For example, you see a random letter on your table and your mind connects the letter to bills, and then you’re back to worrying without realizing what triggered it. Sorry you’re dealing with this, and I hope your job search goes well. Sometimes it helps me to think through the worst-case scenario, accept it so it won’t crush me completely if it happens, and try to come up with a backup plan.

    5. Joielle*

      Oh no, I totally feel you and it is THE WORST. This isn’t an attempt to diagnose or offer medical advice (I’m a lawyer, not a doctor), but I recently started on a low dose of beta blockers and it’s been doing wonders for me. It doesn’t treat the anxiety itself, per se, but it takes the edge off that physical panicky reaction that was making it hard for me to eat and sleep (heart pounding, lightheadedness, no appetite, vague but powerful sense of dread… you know). I’m taking it every day for now, but I know some people just use it as needed, when the panic starts to creep in. I second/third the recommendation to see a therapist if you can, but even just seeing a regular general doctor could help… and might be faster to get an appointment. I’m pulling for you.

      1. Penelope*

        I’ve actually taken beta blockers in the past, I don’t remember how much they helped but I plan on asking my doctor about it (have an appointment next week). I’m not keen to start trying anything stronger since I know they can sometimes make things worse if it turns out they’re not suitable.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My period always seemed to amplify upset/worry. No fun.
      Please look into a drink with electrolytes in it and make sure you have some veggies. Yes, it matters. Stress takes vitamins and minerals out of our bodies at an incredible clip.
      This will get better, keep looking up.
      I am sorry it’s so hard right now.

      1. A Non E. Mouse*

        My period always seemed to amplify upset/worry. No fun.

        Yes, everything is just so much closer to the surface, so I would definitely do a lot of self care (mine would be a Netflix binge and some take out Chinese) and see if it was better in the morning.

        Hugs if you want them.

    7. Autumnheart*

      I would chalk this up to being a human being with feelings. Losing your job is a traumatic event and it’s normal to feel anxious about it until you’re on a more comfortable footing. Just because you have a handle on what your next steps are doesn’t mean your situation is stable. This is an anxious time and it’s normal for you to feel anxious.

      But if you need better coping skills, take the time to perform extra self-care. Set aside an hour for you to do a really comforting thing every day. Write a list of the things you need to take care of, and cross them off when they’re done, so you have a visual reminder that you’re being productive and handling things. (It’ll also help you stay on track when you feel like you’re floundering.) Make sure to get 8 hours of sleep, drink your water, get in your fruits and veggies, take a walk every day, do some stretching or yoga or mindfulness exercises to clear your mind and manage the physical effects of stress. Magnesium citrate is a good supplement to take (assuming no health contraindications) to help do that.

    8. restingbutchface*

      Having anxiety myself I know the worst thing for me is reminding myself that if I don’t take X action, everything will be worse. That’s just the anxiety pretending to be a friend. Try to deflect thoughts of the future as that tends to spiral into catastrophising. Just remind yourself you’re doing X and Y today and that’s enough.

      Good luck friend, I hope it works out.

      1. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life*

        I’m deep in the throes of “if I don’t take some sort of action everything will fall apart” and I had never thought of it that way, as anxiety masquerading as progress. Well put

  21. MsChanandlerBong*

    I posted a few weeks ago about a freelancer who has health issues and often misses deadlines or writes to us an hour before something is due and asks for it to be reassigned because she doesn’t feel well. I have made a few suggestions to help curb the problem. One was to claim short tasks so that it’s not so disruptive if she asks for a last-minute reassignment (it’s easy to write 250 words in a hurry…not so easy to write 2,000 words in a hurry). Another was to claim tasks with long lead times and start working on them right away so she can turn in them in before her symptoms flare up. For example, if she claims a task due in 10 days and works on it immediately, she won’t have to miss a deadline or ask for reassignment if she has a health issue on Day 9. However, she tends to claim a task due in 10 days, wait until Day 9.5 before she starts it, and then ask for reassignment with only hours to go until the deadline.

    She has continued to ask for last-minute reassignment, which is highly disruptive to our operations, as we have to scramble to find someone else to do the work (or do it in-house, which takes staff members away from their administrative duties). I have to suspend her. However, I want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row. She is a freelancer, so there is no employment relationship. Our company is also tiny, so we are not bound by ADA or FMLA. I still want to be kind about it, though, and to make it clear that this is a performance issue and not an issue of wanting to get rid of someone with health issues. I’d love some suggestions for wording I can use to make that clear.

    1. Kaz*

      There are two separate issues: that she frequently isn’t working due to health problems, and that she doesn’t start on tasks when she claims them. I would make the second issue the one that you start asking her to improve on. There may be no way for her to predict that she’ll be out on Day 9, but she certainly knows on Day 1 when she claims the task whether she’s feeling good that day. I would say that if she can’t start working on a task that day or the next, even if it’s not due for 10 days, that you reassign it right away.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Yeah, since it’s a freelance position, the first issue doesn’t matter much. We have no quota or anything, so she can do one assignment a month or 100 assignments a month–whatever she feels up to doing. I freelanced for 13 years, and the whole reason I did it was because I have chronic health issues that make life unpredictable. I would work like crazy when I was up to it, and then I’d do nothing for three weeks when I had a flare and couldn’t get out of bed. I will say we have given her a lot more leeway than we would give anyone else.

    2. samiratou*

      I think you need to be straight with her that you aren’t going to be able to accommodate further reassigments. Note that you’ve suggested ways to work with your company and her health issues, but the constant reassigments are not sustainable, and if they continue, you won’t be assigning any more work to her.

      1. Rose Tyler*

        I would stick to citing what has happened, not the reasons behind it. “Of the last 10 assignments claimed you have been late on 3 and asked for extensions on 5 others. It’s not sustainable for this to continue so we’ve removed you from the freelancing pool effective today.”

        1. LKW*

          I think this is the best approach. It leaves little room for misinterpretation and focuses simply on the business need not being met.

        2. MsChanandlerBong*

          Perfect. I just sent the email. Even though I suspended her, it’s a short suspension, so she won’t be unable to claim assignments for long. I also put some restrictions on her account (no claiming long tasks, no claiming tasks with long lead times and waiting until the last minute) and told her we can revisit them if we go six months without the same issue occurring.

    3. Two Dog Night*

      I’d give her the numbers: “Out of the last x assignments, you asked for y to be reassigned with less than 24 hours notice. This is too disruptive to our operations, so we won’t be able to give you any more projects.” You’ve done your best to work with her; it’s time to move on.

  22. Editor Person*

    Does anyone else have a favorite bathroom stall at work? The bathroom on my floor has 11 stalls so I have plenty of choice but I usually default to stall #3 or #5 (or #7 if I’m, um, going to be there a little longer). Right now #3 is out of order and I don’t not have feelings about this.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Yes! There’s the stall I always use, then the one I’ll use if that first one is in use, and so on. All the stalls seem fine, but I definitely have preferences though I’m not sure I could pinpoint why I have them.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      There’s one stall door that doesn’t have the latch work quite right – if the next stall door slams shut, the partition wiggles enough to pop the latch sometimes. I avoid that one like the plague.

    3. No Green No Haze*

      Yep.

      I’ve been defaulting to a particular stall for years now, long enough that trying to consciously break the habit since I’ve noticed is an appreciable effort. Apparently My Stall is under one of the overhead lights, directly across from a sink that reliably has a working soap dispenser, and a comfortable number of steps into the room. (Door, stride, stride, turn.)

    4. Tmarie*

      “My” stall, one of seven, ran out of toilet paper towards the end of the day. I made sure before I left the restroom that the next stall over had its paper draping longer than the divider in case someone else needed paper in “my” stall. Yeah, I get it.

    5. M. Albertine*

      I have been at this job for a year and I still haven’t claimed a favorite stall yet. This is VERY unlike me. My old job it was stall #3, but #5 for longer visits.

    6. Molly*

      Yep. We only have 3 stalls. The first one flushes so hard you’re likely to need to towel off afterwards. The third one has a such a weak flow you have to flush it twice to get it to take down just one paper. The middle one is just right!

    7. MegPR*

      LOL yes. There are only two, but the first one always. The second one is a handicap stall and the loo is higher and the whole stall is huge. Too funny glad I’m not the only one

    8. froodle*

      Yep. My office has two ladies bathrooms, with two stalls each. The ground floor is fully tiled right up to the ceiling in slick white tiles and has greenish fluorescent lights that make a rolling wash of colour across the floor and walls and the mirrors are warped and catch odd corners of the room in the reflection, that a mirror that size in that position shouldn’t do. It’s a horror movie waiting to happen so I avoid it as k do not want to be murdered while peeing.

      The upstairs toilet, once a wasp got in one of the cubicles with me while I was… not in a position to run away, so now it’s cursed. I can use the wasp toilet if I have to, but really only the non murder non wasp toilet is a comfortable choice for me.

    9. Gumby*

      Absolutely. Stall #3 flushes better than the others in the bathroom nearest my office. Sadly, we recently hired 2 more women and I no longer have exclusive access to my bathroom (a 4-seater) and stall #3 is popular with our new hires too.

      (There are more than 3 women here – the others just sit closer to a different bathroom.)

    10. Jaid_Diah*

      I’m on the 3rd floor, which is chock full of people and busted ice makers. So my go-to is the second floor because they’re mostly WFH and the ice machine works. So I get to go AND pick up ice on the way back.

    11. Friday afternoon fever*

      We have a single occupancy restroom. My favorite stall is …in my apartment. Do I sometimes go home on my lunch to use it? Oh yes.

  23. Burny McBurnout*

    So in the last few weeks I’ve been screened out of a job because of my college GPA (I’m over 40 so it’s good to know that 25 years of employment mean less than my college grades). I’ve been told I’m lying about the skills listed on my resume – apparently a real expert can tell how in-depth a person’s Excel skills are just by showing them a spreadsheet! I’ve been told I’m overqualified for role A, underqualified for role B (because apparently if you’re not an admin coming out of “finance” you can’t possibly do things like keep a person’s calendar correctly) and been ghosted on roles C through Z. Roles A and B by the way had nearly identical job descriptions. Apparently, I’m waiting for the Goldilocks of jobs. Goody. I’ve only been looking for 2 years. How long are fairy tale quests supposed to last?
    I’m currently underemployed, both in terms of skills usage and pay and I just need a job. I’m beyond demoralized. I keep jumping through all the hoops and getting nowhere. I never show any of the current vitriol I’m spewing to potential employers or recruiters, and I always send thank you notes and am polite in my follow-ups. According to recruiters and hiring managers I ask my resume is great, my skills are wonderful, I’m pleasant and gracious and polished. The career coach shined up my resume even further and told me I shouldn’t be having any problems (so glad I paid money to hear that). I get great reviews from every employer past or present. At this point I’m considering making a completely fake resume to send out and troll recruiters with, because why the hell not? At least I’d amuse myself rather than being depressed about the whole rigamarole.

    1. Anon From Here*

      Also over 40, have also had a devil of a time finding work once I’ve hit this “magic” threshold, and I am here to tell you that it is absolutely ageism. It’s hella demoralizing and it’s driven me into year after year of freelancing and self-employment.

      Don’t outright lie on your resume, but wherever you can, don’t include dates that will show at a glance that you’re over 35. Also, really dig down into how you describe your skills and what problems you’ve solved, things you’ve accomplished, money you’ve saved, etc. You have to make the people reading your resume understand that your time in the workforce is valuable and you will bring a wealth of experience to their office.

    2. OtterB*

      My husband didn’t get a job after an interview a few years ago because of his college GPA. He was over 45 at the time and had held, and done well in, several related jobs.
      No advice to offer, just sympathy.

    3. Manager's Manager*

      Are you getting interviews at all or just being screened out before that step? Are you selective in positions you apply for or just applying for anything that you see?

      1. Burny McBurnout*

        I’m getting some interviews, but also am getting screened out in phone interviews. I am very selective in the positions I apply for. Even though I know I could absolutely handle certain positions I don’t apply because I can tell that they’re looking for someone that’s not me(they want that mythical 25 year old with 15 years experience and by gum they’ll keep posting that job till that unicorn pops up!) And there are certain recruiting firms whose postings I don’t respond to at all because I know they only consider candidates with really specific backgrounds.
        One problem is that the job titles in the admin world are poorly defined. A post for an EA could be a high level supporting C suite at a major company or it could be a 2 person shop looking for a receptionist/typist. And there are plenty of places who advertise for an AA but expect them to really be receptionist/office manager/payroll and benefits and company shrink all for $45k/year. Plus there are the fake postings from recruiters who just want resumes for their databases but don’t actually bother looking at them. Luckily(?) after searching for so long those are easy to pick out because they never change and are posted every 2 months like clockwork.

        1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

          If it makes you feel better…my husband has a PhD and at one point had to apply for something (a grant? I don’t even remember) that asked for a list of every class he’d taken, along with his grades…from high school onward.

          He’s young for his grade, so he’s really lucky that 14 Year Old Him was responsible enough to get good grades in Algebra.

    4. Art3mis*

      I have been exactly in your position for similar roles. I wish I had answers. I’m also underemployed. I have people ask me why I don’t work in something more advanced than what I’m doing. Well, gosh I’d love to, if I could get hired into them.

      I had one interviewer ask me if I took the ACT or SAT. I said I didn’t take either. Not sure how it would even be relevant after 20+ years.

      1. Burny McBurnout*

        Yes! I have people asking me why I’m not doing more challenging or “valuable” work. I”M EFFING TRYING TO JERKWADS!
        (Also you gotta love how people discount admin work until they can’t figure out how to send an email or make a copy or scan something)

      2. Noobtastic*

        I took one of those. Can’t remember which, but I’m sure I took one of them. Heck, I may have taken both!

        How in the world is that even relevant, at this point?!

    5. Phoenix Programmer*

      Agree that the grade thing is ridiculous and it’s beyond rude to call anyone a liar but ….

      Yes an expert really can tell within a short time how good you are at Excel. If you can’t clean dirty data systematically and produce a polished dashboard with variable inputs that controls for user error in less than an hour you are not an expert in Excel. If you can’t do the above in less than four hours you are not advanced at Excel.

      It also struck me that a recruiter apparently polished your resume. Have you confirmed you agree with their edits? The few times recruiters have touched my resume their representation of my work was wrong and often inflated my skills.

      Finally the payroll/AP/receptionist for 45k is very much the market rate
      where I live for an experienced Admin Assistant with 15-20 years in the role. EAs who manage other AAs could possibly make 60k.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Lastly – I know a few older 50-65 who left companies after 30 years in the role or we’re laid off and they did get jobs. Just not at the salary they expected.

        Frankly folks who have been at one org for 30 years are living in an almost completely different economy. They are frequently grandfathered into higher salary bands, better retirement benefits, and hosts of other benefits that new workers don’t get at the same company. This has been true everywhere I work.

        I remember the crushing reality of one finance analyst job I took. At the going rate of wage growth if I stayed 25 years in the role like my 58 yo coworker did I would be making LESS in 25 years then she was TODAY. That’s the reality of the modern workforce – very low wages. More work with fewer FTE.

  24. Very Special Librarian*

    Interview purse advice needed: I normally carry a big leather satchel in bright purple, but I want something more professional for my interview. However, I am only going to carry it for one day. So… can I get away with a basic black Target sort of thing for like 40 bucks or do I really need to buy something nice for one day? (I don’t have a lot of time o hunt for clearance at this point.)

    I work in Libraries in Higher Ed, if that context helps.

    1. Emmie*

      I’ve carried basic Target bags for interviews. I have one in grey and another in a caramel tan. I liked it better than black because both colors match traditional interview color suits like black, or navy.

    2. Librarianlaura*

      You absolutely do not need to spend tons of money for something you’re only going to use on occasion. My past two bags that I have used for this purpose came from H&M and The Gap via a thrift store.

    3. Jane*

      Basic from target is fine. But also check out places like TJ max or Marshalls–might have better luck for the same amount of money.

    4. Rey*

      Do you have any friends that you could borrow something from? I would not hesitate to lend something to a friend for a single day.

      1. DataGirl*

        A Target bag is good, or if you have a TJ Maxx or similar store you can get name brand purses for cheap. That’s where I buy all my purses and bags- currently I’m carrying a Kenneth Cole that I definitely paid less than $40 for.

    5. Jack Be Nimble*

      Man, I wish there was a way to send purses via the internet! I have a really nice black Coach purse that I never carry any more that is gathering dust in my closet!

    6. CTT*

      As long as it looks professional, the cost doesn’t matter. Although as someone who is a big proponent of having at least one of everything in basic black, I might suggest buying something a smidge nicer/higher quality so you’ll always have a good black bag should you suddenly need one, even if it’s 10 years from now.

    7. Maggie May*

      I use a military medic bag for my day-to-day and professional bag – it’s big enough to hold my wallet, phone and ipad but not so big that things get lost.

      It also probably depends on the field – I’m in SE so I have to play down femininity.

    8. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Yes you can get away with a throw away cheapie…

      Warning!!!! Make sure you do a little test by getting the bag wet and making sure it doesn’t bleed.

      I’ve had more than one Target-type bag do this to me and ruined/stained the clothes I was wearing.

    9. Third username*

      TJ Maxx has many good professional looking bags at all price points. I’ve gotten two from there. I think Target is fine as well.

    10. Hermione'sAtTheLibrary*

      I just wanted to say your bright purple bag sounds awesome, and if you were interviewing at my academic library, it would make me like you even more.

      1. Very Special Librarian*

        I would carry it, but it is really worn out. It has damage which is why I don’t want to carry it. When I start work (if I get the job) I will be certainly carrying something colorful.

    11. MegPR*

      Neutral colors that match are more important than brand in terms of professionalism IMO. You could try poshmark for a second hand bag or ebay even. Target is totally ok too. The way you look put together matters more than the individual pieces alone.

    12. Autumnheart*

      Target has some pretty nice structured purses right now. I’d totally go that route. Marshalls/TJ Maxx would also be a place to look at.

    13. Close Bracket*

      Are you sure you are only ever going to have on interview? I regarded my interview bag as an investment similar to my suit. I have a lovely, flat Coach purse that looks like a thin briefcase which I get compliments on. It holds my resumes, keys, chapstick, phone, and wallet. I found it on their website, and it was like $100.

    14. Dr. Anonymous*

      You can absolutely have an inexpensive purse at an interview at an academic library unless it is a fancy-pants elite institution. You’re being interviewed by academic librarians. None of them have any damn money, either.

        1. DaniCalifornia*

          Her and Miss Manners are nowhere near what they used to be when I was 9 and reading WaPo. But I realize it’s now their children/grandchildren/other writers responding so I can understand why.

        2. Pollygrammer*

          People have started saying “veggies” instead of “vegetables,” and that sort of chicanery really does need to be addressed in multiple national publications!

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        In all fairness, Dear Abby’s letter says that the coworker hears frequent throwing up. AAM’s letter does not. It must be disconcerting to hear this day after day.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Unfortunately as is often the case the LW takes speaking directly to the person with the problem off the table due to discomfort. I understand not wanting to have the difficult conversation (I do), but I think that is the only good actionable solution. Unlike today’s AAM short answer question this is clearly some kind of ongoing issue not scars from a years back. On the other hand all the reason’s listed by the LW for her not saying anything (“I’m afraid I’ll embarrass her, make her quit”) are equally or more so as likely if HR or her gossipy manager speaks with the co-worker instead of the LW.

      I do think a one on one conversation is the only possible decent solution. The suggestion to report the problem to HR without naming names, but telling them where how to locate the vomiting co-worker is just off.
      #1 I don’t think this is HR’s job to handle.
      #2 If you’re reporting her, just report her by name instead of making it extra weird by not saying her name but telling them how to ID her.
      #3 “I’ve noticed you vomiting” is better than “some of your co-workers noticed you vomiting.” which can make the co-worker wonder if the whole office has been talking behind her back.

      Basically this isn’t a work problem for HR or the manager to solve. If the LW wants to help they need to speak to the co-worker. If they can’t bring themselves to do that I think trying to get someone else to have the conversation is not a good idea.

      1. BRR*

        This is such a good point. If the LW is concerned about embarrassing their coworker, reporting it to HR is going to be far more effective in making it awkward for the coworker than if the LW says anything. Might as well go all out and send an all-staff email.

    2. KR*

      I read it and I was appalled. Like… The coworker knows they throw up every day at the same time. They don’t need intervention at work.

    3. clunker*

      Yikes @ dear abby’s answer on this one!

      “Go to HR” um that’s horrible? Also the letter writer on dear abby didn’t mention, but if the coworker in question isn’t very thin/is overweight, it’s entirely possible that HR’s response will be to advise “better” weight loss methods to her which will definitely definitely only make things worse. If they are thin, it’s very likely that they’ll be told that their weight is fine. Neither is a good thing to hear if you have an eating disorder. (Speaking from experience, any feedback I’ve ever gotten along the lines of “oh your current weight is actually just fine. You aren’t fat at all!” has just sent my brain into a spiral of “it’s okay now but if i eat, it won’t be okay” or at least required energy and work to prevent it from spiraling into that)

      (Yes, HR shouldn’t be saying anything along either of those lines, but people often casually say these things when talking to people they think have eating disorders in the process of telling them to get help. Lots of people think that it’s a really simple issue and their reassurance will definitely be 100% helpful unless they’ve received specific training that it’s really not.)

      Allison’s advice is deffo way better on this. The only extra stuff I’d say is to specifically avoid any talk calling foods “bad” or “indulgent” or suggesting that you lack self control if you eat certain foods. Avoiding any sort of calorie/weight talk is nice too.

    4. dawbs*

      Wouldn’t it suck toi get the hr call if she’s just pregnant. Or hha chronic migraine. Or anything else? (Incl an eating disorder)

      I’d think “be supportive. and if you get close enough to be friends, then act like a friend. A friend might be able to address it. a friend might also just have conversations and know the good and bad and health crap in someone’s life.
      So, supportive and friendly”

    5. arjumand*

      OT but ever since GDPR I can’t go on uexpress anymore. So annoying. I used to spend hours catching up on all the Miss Manners letters.
      Now I can only do that if I open Opera in private mode and use their built in VPN. Effing GDPR.

  25. Emmie*

    What hills are worth dying on?

    Sometimes doing the right thing can cost you your professional reputation, relationships with others, or your job. My coworker said that there are some hills that are worth dying on, and we should think about what those are today. What things would you stand up for? I would love to hear your stories about a professional colleague who did this too.

    FWIW, this has been on my mind for a few days. IMHO, I also think how a person approaches these “hills” matter. I imagine that it’d be helpful to find a professional approach to these hills, if one is available.

      1. School Inclusion Specialist*

        Yes–This is literally my job, too–to support my schools transition to being fully accessible to students with disabilities.

        It’s interesting though–In order to ultimately achieve the goal, I have to tamp down my fantasies of a fully UDL school (which is Emmie’s point that there is a “professional way to approach those hills”). I work it in however I can, but given the majority of the teaching population is at a very early point in understanding the implementation of supports for students with identified disabilities, I have to have a very narrow focus.

        I have been in positions of leadership where I can just say something needs to happen and it will. Like hiring a diverse workforce and implementing effective cultural competence training. But I can’t go into everyone’s class and teach for them every day (and that would be bad anyway because I learn so much from the people I work with).

    1. Anon From Here*

      That’s a really broad question, but two things that come immediately to mind: (1) I won’t tolerate being yelled at or disrespected; and (2) I will take unpaid time off, or not renew a contract, so that I can spend time with friends and family instead.

      (1) because I’m too old, educated, and skilled for this sh-t any more. (2) because life is too short.

    2. Rey*

      My office deals with federal compliance requirements, so that’s the hill we die on. We don’t want to alienate anyone, but when it comes down to it, we have to follow the exact requirements because it’s our job on the line if we’re found to be complicit in any non-compliance.

      1. RabbitRabbit*

        Same. I transitioned into this role and have had to help enforce this on well-liked former colleagues. I try to recuse myself when needed to avoid any implied conflict of interest in either direction (liked the colleagues, left on bad terms with the administrator), but these are the rules. I don’t want our institution to show up on the evening news.

    3. Nervous Nellie*

      Anything related to the law. I work in accounting and will not “spin” numbers – fudging data is wrong and in many cases illegal. Every now and then a higher-up will ask for an “interpretation’ of the numbers. Dude, we’re bleeding money and you know it. Don’t ask me to add some zeroes to appease the shareholders.

    4. Animal worker*

      My last position the hill was animal-welfare related. Human safety and welfare could be as well. Really, this is an individual decision not just related to the issue itself, but to your life circumstance and situation. Such as can you just quit your job or do you need to find another one first. Every person and situation is different, and it’s a very personal decision.

    5. LCL*

      Certain industry specific safety practices, and the company interpretation and application of these practices.

    6. Princess Scrivener*

      Supporting / fighting for subordinates. I had two of the best NCOs in the military working for me, and I submitted them for merit-related medals when they moved on to other jobs. TPTB disapproved, saying they weren’t high-ranking enough for that particular medal (they were one grade lower), no exceptions, blah blah. Argh. I tried for a year in each case, but I never could get them approved. Over the course of my career, several of my bosses were able to do this for me, but I couldn’t make it happen. I still get frustrated when I think about it.

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      Anything related to personal safety. I will not ever teach in a class with a physically violent student ever again. One black eye was enough, thanks.

    8. Yay commenting on AAM!*

      Safety standards compliance, in life or death matters, in particular where children are involved.

      You would be utterly *shocked* at how many people think it is OK to ignore these except when the health inspector or company auditor is present. I’ve been treated like I’m insubordinate and difficult for expecting the rules to be followed. I do not want to be responsible for someone being injured or killed, especially the little ones.

      1. Emmie*

        Hahah. My coworker is a senior executive, and blogs / writes a paragraph each day. I thought it was an excellent point. For me, the hills are related to regulations we must follow, harassment of others, and conducting work with integrity.

  26. ThursdaysGeek*

    Our company Christmas party is scheduled for this year. (I’m not on the committee that does it or anything.) I could suggest that next year they call it a holiday party instead of a Christmas party. But will that really make it more inclusive? There will still be a tree and presents, no matter what it is called.

    1. curly sue*

      Speaking only for myself, as a Jewish person (because the saying ‘two Jews, three opinions’ is deeply valid) — if you’re going to keep the trapping of Christmas, I would vastly prefer the label on the tin to be honest. Just call it a Christmas party. I find that much less offensive than sticking up a menorah decal somewhere and calling it a ‘holiday’ party, as though the two holidays were somehow culturally equivalent.

    2. Nacho*

      Speaking as a Jew, I always hated it when people tried to have “holiday” parties as if they were being inclusive. Even if you dropped the presents and the tree and didn’t have it on December 25th, there’s no getting around the fact that it’s nowhere near any major Jewish or Muslim holidays. It’s still a Christmas party, you’re just lying to people about it.

      IMO, it’s a lot more inclusive to have your Christmas party, and then give at least small nods to the major holidays. Not parties, since non-Christian holidays aren’t really secular enough for that, but order pizza or something for the office and wish everybody a happy Rosh Hashanah.

      1. curly sue*

        Oh man. I’d die of shock (pleasant shock!) if a workplace acknowledged the high holidays so matter-of-factly and in a non-othering way.

        If folks wanted to actually mark Hanukkah in way most people would appreciate, bring in jelly doughnuts during the first week of December (at least this year – it starts the night of Dec 2 in 2018).

        1. MatKnifeNinja*

          I’m picky. Not any jelly donut will do. My Israeli friend’s sufganiyot are to die for.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        Pizza!? With cheese and pepperoni? Yeah, I think the jelly donuts would be a LOT better option. Should I get them from a chain like Krispy Kreme, a local panderia, or would it matter? I don’t know if anyone in our office is Jewish, but donuts would go over well anyway.

        We are open to celebrating pretty much any holiday, with a strong leaning towards the Christian and Mexican ones.

        1. curly sue*

          … You can get kosher pizza. I eat a lot of veggie pizza or double-cheese with my kids, and bigger cities with decent-sized Jewish populations will often have kosher pizzerias.

          I’m Canadian, so years when I don’t have the time to make sufganiot (the traditional Israeli Hanukkah doughnuts) I just go to Tim Horton’s. I’m sure Dunkin’ works just as well, but I’ve never actually had anything from Krispy Kreme so I couldn’t speak to that. Just be sure wherever you get them from doesn’t deep-fry in lard, if you’re worried about the kosher aspect.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            Is the pizza kosher if it is vegetarian? If it takes more than that, I suspect kosher pizza isn’t available around here. We also don’t have Dunkin or Tim Horton’s. I’ll check before buying any to see if they are deep-fried in lard. It’s quite possible that no-one here is Jewish, but they aren’t the only ones who are not Christian.

            1. LKW*

              A veggie pizza is only kosher if
              1. The entire pizza shop is vegetarian
              2. All ingredients are kosher
              3. The kitchen/premises have been inspected, blessed and approved by a certified rabbi.

              So – your typical domino’s veggie pizza is not kosher at all.

              1. MatKnifeNinja*

                Which is why most secular Christmas parties suck depending on which level of Kosher you keep.

                And I really really really hate it when people order a veggie pizza from Dominos when I was keeping Kosher. I couldn’t eat it. So it was money “wasted” and hurt feelings over something I didn’t ask them to do.

                1. LKW*

                  Right? I’m not observant but I definitely understand kashrut and halal rules. People get so bent out of shape when they try to help but don’t take 10 minutes to actually check with someone who can quickly explain “no, removing the cheese from the turkey sandwich does not make it kosher”.

                2. curly sue*

                  I don’t keep nearly as strictly now as I did when I was Orthodox, and I would happily eat a Domino’s veggie pizza. Non-kosher kitchen prep is out of sight out of mind, but I won’t eat visible milk and meat mixed, or pork. Maybe one is technically as bad as the other, but it feels different on an essential level. Depends on the Jews you work with!

                  (I moved from a very large, very Jewish city to a small one with all of two synagogues. I asked the president of the Orthodox shul what the major difference was between the congregations, and he told me “about three more people at the [Orthodox shul] keep kosher.” It’s adjust or go vegan out here, alas.)

      3. JamieS*

        That’s basically what my work does. Usually an email is sent out with a blurb explaining the holiday typically with some trivia and lunch is brought in. We also have a “multi-culture week” (not the actual title).

    3. Holly*

      I think it really depends on your office culture (like, will the party planning committee accuse you of declaring war on Christmas?) But I’m sure non-Christians in your office may appreciate (even if it’s eyerolly and obviously majority a Christmas party) calling it a holiday party and featuring items from other traditions as well.

      I’m in a very liberal city in a government office so we have a very PC “Year End” party and can’t even refer to it being for holidays or have holiday symbolism. It gets tons of tongue-in-cheek commentary (which is often hilarious) because people *know* what it is, but it still works – I am not asking you to propose your office go that far, just sharing for context.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I have such mixed feelings on this. I agree that it’s silly to call it a holiday party when we all know what it is, and Hanukkah isn’t a major Jewish holiday, and the attempts to treat it as one are weird (to say nothing of things that are outright offensive, like Hanukkah ornaments on a Christmas tree). That said, there’s also something alienating about an office that purports to be inclusive having a Christmas party. I mean, I have no problem attending a Christmas party socially — it’s not my holiday but I’m happy to celebrate friends’ holiday with them. But when it’s an office party, there’s a lot more meaning and baggage.

      1. curly sue*

        I mean, given my druthers, I’d much rather an office I worked at had an early New Year’s party or some such, with lots of food, an early dismissal, and no Christmas tree. But if you’re going to have the tree and presents, as TGeek described, then it’s a Christmas party and IMO shouldn’t be disguised as something that it’s not.

        Maybe being forced to confront the idea that they really aren’t being inclusive will go further towards changing things than a name-change band-aid.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        Just as an aside, I’m Jewish and don’t see Chanukah ornaments on Xmas trees as being outright offensive… If we’re (correctly) saying Chanukah isn’t a major Jewish holiday, who cares if someone hangs a dreidl on a tree? I have interfaith couple friends that do this as a sign of inclusiveness.

        1. Nacho*

          I can’t speak for Allison, but to me the offensive part is that you’re basically going Merry Christmas!!!… and also Hanukkah I guess.” Like it’s obvious to everybody involved that way more thought was put into Christmas than Haunukkah, but you still added a token ornament or two because you feel like you have to.

        2. curly sue*

          For me it’s because of the misunderstanding it presents. Hanukkah is the commemoration of a war that was fought to prevent forced religious assimilation. Beyond the whole “isn’t Hanukkah just Jewish Christmas” conversation I end up having with people at least twice every winter, I find it offensive to see icons of this particular holiday assimilated into someone else’s religious observance. The specific irony is just too, too much.

        3. Jasnah*

          I think it’s cool to do it at home (hey both our faiths coming together) but no good to do at work (woo it’s Xmas, and oh yeah, it’s Jewish Xmas so we got you a candelabra thing, eh? eh??)

    5. OyHiOh*

      Adding to the chorus. Either get rid of the tree and presents and make is a properly inclusive holiday party or just call it what it is. If you call it a holiday party, I go in with hopes that for once in my working life, a party committee and managed to realize there’s more than just Christians in the work force only to find my hopes dashed yet again. Call it a Christmas party and I can make a choice about my participation or not.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      I’m doubtful you can fix it in your office, but the solution would be for a business to have an honest to goodness secular New Year’s / Year End party. Food, drink, wishing people a happy new year. No presents or tree or carols.

      You can even have it before Christmas or after New Year’s because let’s be honest timing-wise many people are out of office starting Christmas week and including new year’s week. By the second week in January I’m ready to stop the eating and partying so I’d prefer the week before Christmas.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        It will be well before Christmas this year – Dec 1. But I know that people like the presents and free food. The party is fully optional and there is no problem for people who don’t attend. It just doesn’t seem like changing the name really changes anything, because it’s obviously what it is.

      2. Washi*

        Agreed. Just have a New Years party, or a winter solstice party or something like that. Free food and snowflake decorations = in, tree/presents/carols = out.

    7. BRR*

      Another Jew here. I hate when they call the December, red and green, candy cane party a holiday party and stick a menorah somewhere but I also hate when there’s no illusion of inclusion and it’s called a Christmas party. I’ve worked places with a non-calendar fiscal year and have far preferred the end of fiscal year party but I recognize that is an uphill if not impossible battle at some places. I think I’m going down on the side of calling it a holiday party but make the focus on employee appreciation.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Especially once Chanukah is over! I perform with a group that does an annual “holiday” concert and apparently our director got some vitriol because he didn’t include any Chanukah songs (which I haven’t been thrilled about, but there are very few decent choral arrangements of Chanukah music for a symphonic group, trust me, I’ve sung most of ’em). He asked me my opinion, and I told him that yes, it would be great to do some Chanukah songs, but this year is not the year because the concert will be after the holiday is over. I stopped just short of telling him I think that’s “tokenism”.

        1. BRR*

          Oh I hate that. When Hanukkah falls early or late it just feels really weird to me. Credit to my current employer who seems to mildly know about Jewish holidays and adjusts as needed.

    8. Anon for now*

      We call ours the annual all staff meeting.

      There is a gift exchange and many people wear Christmas-themed attire, but there isn’t a tree.

    9. pony tailed wonder*

      I work at a university. I would rather have a semesters end party rather than a holiday party. We have another one at the end of the Spring semester so I don’t think it would be a tough thing to do to rename and redecorate it.

      Also, I would love to have a piñata at both parties.

    10. Autumnheart*

      What about including other festival decorations including the tree and presents? A menorah, Kwanzaa symbolism, Happy New Year? Cheesy or inclusive?

    11. Very Special Librarian*

      Yeah, as a Jew, if you are going to call it a Holiday Party and have a tree, it is not a Holiday party. Maybe because I have worked at a lot of Christian organizations, a Christmas party doesn’t phase me, even one with prayer. However, I also realize that not everyone feels that way. I would recommend losing the tree and the presents and then calling it a Holiday Party.

    12. Drop Bear*

      Off topic a bit, but we offer paid leave (up to 2 days in total per annum) for people to celebrate ‘alternate’ religious/spiritual festivals. Each department does their own thing for lunches – all do Christmas and some also do lunches for non-christian festivals, but the paid leave is a whole of organisation benefit. I’ve only had one employee in all my time here ‘grumble’ about other people getting more leave (as all employees get Christmas day/Easter as paid leave even if they take other ‘religious leave’). Strangely (perhaps), his main complaint was that some people use it on the Orthodox Christmas day – he didn’t feel it was right they got ‘2 Christmases’.

      1. Drop Bear*

        I should add that Christmas lunches are held at restaurants/pubs – no prayers, singing or the like – well maybe singing after management head back to work and a good song comes on the jukebox!

    13. Girl friday*

      This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I always say ‘holiday’ because there are so many atheists who view it literally as a holiday, people with messed up families who celebrate it alone, and so many other reasons that aren’t specific to religion. I think everyone’s pretty used to the decorations being universal, and I think they should be universal and include as many versions as possible- but I think the title should stay neutral.

  27. Post Interview Angst*

    So I’m over analyzing an interview situation. I had a third and final round interview yesterday, which went well and while there were some questions I think I could have answered better, I felt good about it until the very end. I wasn’t able to get a timeline on next steps from the hiring manager and when I mentioned that my references contact information might be changing on X date, he waved it off and said he’d let me know. Then he kind of rushed me out the door.

    Now, it was 5:30 PM and the interview ran long. So it could have just been end of day behavior, but it left me with a sinking feeling.

    He did say that the person I’d been coordinating all my interviews with would be in touch next week. So I guess thats kind of a timeline??

    Ugh, just tell me to stop overthinking it and none of this necessarily means anything, lol.

    1. Kaz*

      Sounds like he just wanted to get out of there and get home, and that this was information he knew he could get from you later if he needed it. I wouldn’t think it was a bad sign.

      1. Post Interview Angst*

        I’m sure you’re right. I don’t know why I let it get to me. I usually don’t. And everything else went well.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Agreed. That sounds a lot more like “Oh dang, it’s 5:30, I need to go home and let the dog out” rather than “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry”.

      1. Post Interview Angst*

        That is a very good point! They did tell me that people are rarely there past 5:30. Logically I know it was this but I let silly anxiety get the best of me.

    2. Post Interview Angst*

      I was definitely being silly. I heard from them today and they gave me timeframe and let me know the feedback from my interview was very positive.

  28. Super Anonymous*

    In Allison’s letter in “The Cut” this week, she talked about the risk of having a long stretch of mediocre work on the resume. This struck a chord with me because I took my current job 2.5 years ago hoping to gain skills in a particular area, but that has not panned out due to circumstances beyond my control. I have not done poorly in this position, but I also feel that compared to accomplishments in previous jobs, it doesn’t look like I have accomplished as much. I am currently job seeking, but I am well aware that this process takes time. Any advice for what I can do in the meantime to show potential employers that I’m actually not mediocre?

    1. Alternative Person*

      Can you focus on a series of smaller things you achieved in that time?
      There could also be some value in explaining what happened with the job that meant you didn’t do much.

      Apart from that, is there anything you can do to improve your skills like a certification? or maybe do some volunteering?

      1. Super Anonymous*

        Thank you so much for this! I have actually been working on a library certification. I like the idea of focusing on small achievements.

    2. Ali G*

      Is there any trainings you can do in your spare time? I was unemployed/underemployed for a year while job searching and I did a lot of online tutorials in things I wanted to learn that could be valuable to future employers, including:
      Salesforce
      Online social media marketing
      website building
      non-profit management/development
      I did most of these through the adult continuing education center in my county.

      1. Super Anonymous*

        Thank You! These are great ideas for training. I especially like the Salesforce/SEO training.

    3. Mockingjay*

      You can always focus on reliability metrics. “Provided consistent on-time deliveries of the TPS report each month. Standardized the report, reducing time to complete and minimizing errors.”

      Try not to focus on what you didn’t do or attain in the position (goals). Look at what you actually did. Your current job may not be glamorous, but many employers long for steady employees with reliable output.

      1. Super Anonymous*

        I didn’t get time to comment on this yesterday, but wanted to say thanks for reminding me about the importance of being steady and reliable. This is probably one of my greatest strengths as an employee, but I usually feel like it makes me boring and middle of the road.

    4. Super Anonymous*

      Thanks for the replies! Y’all have confirmed that I am on the right track. Since I started to suspect that this job might not be for me I’ve been working on finding webinars and training in areas that I want to branch out into. I am a passionate librarian, but the job market for librarians is pretty saturated so even with professional experience it has been an uphill struggle finding jobs in that field. My previous two jobs (including this one!) have led me to realize that I have a passion for public health, so I’m working on building knowledge in that area.

  29. Jane*

    I posted last week about this company demanding a specific start date before they would extend an offer. Thanks for all the helpful replies!

    As an update, they then demanded a recent paystub and last year’s W2 to process my offer.

    I’m not off base to think that is really intrusive, am I? They’ve already confirmed my employment and checked my references.

    In any case, I’m going to decline. They just make me feel uncomfortable.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      Really sounds like they’re just blatantly getting at your current salary so they can offer that, or that plus some tiny token amount. Glad you’re going to decline because that’s a big red flag to me.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s not that they think you’re lying. It’s that companies that base salary offers on your current salary sometimes have policies of confirming that information, and this is how they do it. It’s BS and it’s definitely an indicator that they’re calibrating your offer based on what you’re making currently.

          1. Jane*

            Yes, they most definitely are doing that. They also had a bunch of other kind of crappy things in the hiring process, like TWO personality tests, a bunch of other BS tests that have nothing to do with the job, etc. They also chose to send me tests/requests for documents a little at a time. Meaning, first take this test. OK now take this one. Now we need you to fill out this form. Now this one. Ugh. I got so many email requests from them that I’m already sick of them and I don’t even work there!

            Too bad….I’m pretty sure that I was their top choice candidate, and this was a company I’d always really wanted to work for (so I thought!), but they’ve scared me away.

            1. Tilly*

              They sound awful. Sadly it’s proof that there’s no such thing as a dream job. Glassdoor review?

    2. Anon From Here*

      Unless they’re running some kind of background check on you I don’t understand why they need anything further than your W-4 and I-9. I would ask them what they mean by “process my offer.”

    3. BRR*

      That stinks but I think it’s awesome that you don’t have to put up with this. I hope you let them know why you’re declining.

      1. Jane*

        I’m very grateful that I don’t *need* this job, so I can choose to decline based on their antics.

        I certainly have been in situations where I couldn’t afford to be choosey, and I’m so glad that I’m not in that situation right now.

    4. Hallowflame*

      Run.
      I have never had to provide that kind of documentation to a potential employer, and I have never heard of someone having to do it outside of verifying employment. These guys are shady.

  30. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

    Me plus 3 other guys from work would go out to lunch 2 or 3 times a week. On one particular day, I drove. We had lunch. As we’re leaving, one of the guys became unhappy with me over something trivial – but he made a big deal out of it, acted angry and upset, wouldn’t talk to me. The other two guys wanted no part of any of it.

    Under these circumstances, how much duty do I have to give this guy a ride back to work?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Depends on the “something trivial”. There are some circumstances where I would tell him to eff off and get a taxi, some others where I would roll my eyes and decide he’s just in a strop and drive him back. Generally, though, I think we have a responsibility to give rides back to people we drove somewhere.

      1. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

        Thanks everyone!

        FYI, this happened almost 20 years ago – the recent Kavanaugh hearings inspired me to write it up :) It’s all over and done with, but I occasionally have wondered about it. I drastically simplified the story – perhaps too much? If anyone cares:

        – He was mad because he didn’t think I payed my fair share of the lunch bill. For this question, I ask that you believe me when I say that he was mistaken.

        – My car was a new-ish BMW.

        – I knew he was angry because a) he was indeed kicking pebbles and muttering and b) one of the other guys told me “Jim’s mad about the bill”.

        – Did I think he might damage my car? The thought indeed crossed my mind.

          1. This is the story of a man named Neil Fisk*

            *grin* yes, I waited – actually, all of us waited – about 15 minutes until he cooled down and I drove us all back to work. I asked the fellow who sat next to him in the back seat to keep an eye on him in case he started abusing the upholstery.

            I find it interesting that pretty much everyone here agreed about giving him a ride. Over the years, I’ve asked other people about this, and this is the first time everyone has agreed on that. In the past, other people have suggested that I should have said “okay, I’m leaving, you can come with or not” and then just left him if he couldn’t bring himself to ride with me.

            I don’t regret giving him a ride. But the incident left me wondering where to draw the line.

    2. Meredith Brooks*

      Give him a ride home. You think it’s trivial. So take the high road – let him be mad and don’t engage in drama or games. Not giving him a ride home only adds to the issue and gives him more stuff to be angry about while also making you look petty. (Unless he’s threatening you or insulting you or some such)

      1. Annie Oakley*

        Agreed. I think you should give him a ride unless he becomes aggressive – verbal abuse, concerns of physical altercation.

        1. Nita*

          Yeah. Even if he’s in the wrong, stranding him somewhere without a car seems like a bigger over-reaction unless he’s getting aggressive. Or unless it’s within easy walking distance.

        1. Meredith Brooks*

          I just read your post above. I’m going to ignore the fact that you feel this is somehow relevant to the Kavanaugh hearing. I stand by what I said. Leaving him behind would have turned the situation into one that was a petty disagreement into a bigger issue. And it sounds like you gave him the option to accept a ride or find his own way back to work. So you both had options.

    3. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      Oddly you both sound umm… not mature.

      I’m really confused at the turn of events here… This is what I’m imagining right now.
      Guy gets mad at you for something trivial… let’s go with telling him his football team sucks. Stomps around, kicks pebbles on the ground with his toe and starts muttering under his breath, and stops talking to you , the other two guys are now looking around uncomfortably probably rolling their eyes at the you and him and you are contemplating leaving him at the restaurant.

      How long was this walk to the car? How could you even tell that he stopped talking to you, did he literally say “I’m not talking to you”? Could it have just been a pause in the conversation?

    4. Hallowflame*

      Unless he has become a danger to you, the other passengers, or himself, you need to drive him back to work. To strand him away from work during the work day could end up having some serious blow-back on you with your supervisors and peers. Take the high road and drive him back.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I agree and to myself I would have patted myself on the back all the way to work, telling myself “clearly, I am the bigger person here”.

    5. Alianora*

      Unless you’re afraid for your safety it’s not okay to leave someone stranded because of a trivial argument.

  31. QuestionsAboutThingsandStuff*

    I’m starting a new job that I am not to keen on very soon. I took it because I had to leave a very toxic situation. So, I’m happy to be leaving toxic job but not to thrilled about new job. During my notice period I got contacted by a company I’m very interested in working with. It’s so early in the interview process to say what will happen, but I’m posting today to see if anyone else had a similar experience and wanted to know what you choose. And how it all worked out with new company and thrilled about company.

    1. motherofdragons*

      This happened to me! I had interviewed for and was offered a job that wasn’t ringing all my bells, but was Not My Toxic Crappy Job, so I took it. Then I saw a job posting for the job I REALLY wanted, and knew the hiring manager well, etc. I ended up being offered Great Job, and then had to call Not Crappy But Not Great Job and rescind my acceptance. It was awkward but they understood. I just told them something like, I was sorry to leave them in the lurch, but an unexpected opportunity that was much more in line with my expertise came up and it was the right choice for me and my family. I’ve been here 2.5 years now and really love it!

    2. Autumnheart*

      Bird in hand. You have this job already, you don’t have the Very Interesting job (yet). Apply and go through the interview process, and see how it plays out, but you may as well make hay while the sun shines. Plus, your new job might turn out to be interesting after all. Certainly plenty of Very Interesting jobs turn out to not be very interesting after all, so you never know.

      Worst case scenario, you get the Very Interesting Job and you resign new job with apologies and leave it off your resume. Plenty of companies have hired a person and laid them off a short time later, and considered it a cost of doing business. Doing the same from the employee end sometimes happens and it’s also a cost of doing business. As long as you don’t make a habit of it, it shouldn’t hurt you. And even if you don’t get the Very Interesting Job, you still keep this job and cultivate experience that makes you more attractive to Very Interesting Inc.

    3. AnotherLibrarian*

      Just know that you maybe burning a bridge in a small professional community. I had a new hire do this. Was I annoyed? Yes, yes I was. Did I understand? Yes, yes I did. However, I would never ever hire that person again. You must do what is best for you, but don’t be surprised if this is a bridge burnt with “new company.”

  32. Nervous Accountant*

    My boss talked to me this week :O For those of you who are familiar with my postings, I’ve talked about her…. anyway, I talk to her more whenever my manager is out of the office, and this was actually a nice convo! She said its unfortunate that she doesn’t work as closely with me, she groomed (2 other managers) and wants me up there as well, I’m doing a great job so far, I’ve grown a lot etc. I just stammered thanks and went about my work lol.

    A few people got promoted this week. These movements made sense, and I’m genuinely happy for those people b/c they worked hard and deserved the promotion & raise. Earlier this year I wasn’t ready, and some things happened a while ago that put me out the running, but I am NOW. And I want to do everything I can to get there. I have my mgr on board with this too.

    The incident in my last post really helped me think about a lot of things. It was a good teaching moment, for me anyway. I know on last week’s thread I was insecure and stuff, but I stopped throwing myself the pity party and decided I’m not going to be a common denominator in a sh*t sandwich. I’ve spent way too long being reflective and self aware, and I know it’s good to be s/a, but not to the extent where I’m constantly doubting myself.every.single.day. It doesn’t reflect on me if someone is disrespectful or aggressive or chauvinist. (btw, the mgr in the last week’s post–things went well this week so maybe it was all temp).

    Anyway, so I was/am mad. But I decided to channel that anger in to something else

  33. The Other Dawn*

    My company was recently acquired and my team members are starting to go on interviews. I plan to help them practice beforehand, but I have to admit I haven’t done a ton of interviewing. I’ve been reading through the archives here, so I’ve got a list of questions I’ll ask them in the practice interview.

    Something I’m curious about, because I think this will come up with at least one person: how do you as a hiring manager feel when you ask someone’s salary requirements and they answer they’re “negotiable”? I have one team member who is very likely to write this on a job application or state it in an interview, or she will state the salary she makes now, which may or may not be appropriate since she’s applying for several positions that are quite different from each other and definitely not what she’s doing now.

    If someone said “negotiable” to me, I’d probably be wondering if the candidate did any research at all, or is desperate for a job and will take anything.

    1. Is this really that bad?*

      I say “negotiable dependent on factors outside of a salary such as PTO, sick leave, etc.” and ask them for a range that they are working with.

    2. Mona Lisa*

      I usually say that my final number depends on the benefits offered in addition to the salary. I’m trying to get better about remembering to use the AAM phrasing of, “What is your range for the position?”

      My father also taught me to put “negotiable” down on applications and to say it until the offer stage, but I’m (finally) starting to take a firmer line on what I’m willing to be paid. I see where you say that it could be seen as a sign of weakness/an opening to low-ball a candidate.

    3. CM*

      I wouldn’t assume anything about the candidate who doesn’t want to disclose a range; this is a pretty awkward discussion to have and the hiring manager is the one holding all the cards. However, I might follow up and ask if they have a range in mind.

      I don’t think your team member should state the salary that she makes now unless she’s hoping to get the same salary, or the same plus a small increase, at the new job.

    4. BRR*

      On an application that’s fine. But I’m reasonable about the whole salary discussion thing. I imagine some might get turned off. Also if I NEEDed a job, I might suck it up. On the phone or in person, I wouldn’t reply negotiable. I’d ask for a range, say I’d like to learn more about the role, or give a range (I usually add depending on benefits to give me some wiggle room).

    5. Isotopes*

      Since you’re helping them practice beforehand, I would suggest that you give them scripts like the ones provided by “Is this really that bad?” and “Mona Lisa.” If I just heard “negotiable” it makes it really tough. Depending on how the company handles compensation-talk during interviews.

      Due to reading so much AAM, when I first started conducting interviews with my boss, I asked her if we were able to give the salary range, if we were asked. She said that there was no policy against it, but it “wasn’t usually done.” So I just asked if she was ok with me being prepared to give it, and she was.

      The thing is, without some kind of information from the candidate, I don’t know how to gauge whether they understand the position. If I’m hiring for a $50K/year job, and someone has a salary expectation of $100K, then obviously that’s not a match.

      I was once hiring for a $50K/year job, and a candidate had an expectation of $60K. Initially, he wasn’t going to be given an interview, but I pushed to have one, because I figured maybe we could wiggle just a little bit on salary if he was a fantastic candidate, or maybe the expectation was a bit higher than what he was ACTUALLY looking for. After the interview, we were interested in the candidate, and I suggested that providing some additional compensation information (benefits/vacation/unlimited sick time) might help to bridge the gap. And it did.

      Turns out another department had actually been eyeing the candidate and had discontinued the process when they found out about the salary expectation. And they definitely missed out, because he is a wonderful employee.

    6. Raia*

      When you get in the mock interview, you ask the salary expectation question and the candidate responds “negotiable,” i think it would be reasonable to ask the candidate to clarify what they mean in the mock interview setting. Their clarification statement or potentially lack thereof will give you something to coach them on/mold to AAM specs.

  34. Mona Lisa*

    Are personality tests/assessments deal breakers for you in a hiring process?

    An external recruiter reached out to me about an opportunity in a city an hour-ish away from where I live, and since I’ve made it to a second phone interview, the company’s internal recruiter sent me their “assessments.” The external recruiter thought this was an assignment in the system I work, but it’s actually a personality test and a handwriting assessment, which I think is odd. It took me about an hour to complete both in advance of the phone call today, but I’m thinking this throws up some yellow flags on a job I wasn’t totally sold on anyway.

    1. LQ*

      If I loved everything else about the job and I didn’t think the person who was hiring me was All In on them I’d continue. But if I already wasn’t entirely sold, or if the boss seemed All In (someone who assigns jobs/duties/promotions based on the results) then I’d be out. I think it’s totally a yellow flag and absolutely a reason to drop it off your radar.

    2. Jack Be Nimble*

      I’d withdraw from the process, but I’m a bit of a wonk when it comes to personality tests (I used to work in research psychology and have low opinions of their validity).

    3. Kathenus*

      I didn’t love them when I was an applicant, and I personally ignore them when I’m hiring, even though my facility uses them. Some people find them useful, I don’t personally so I just don’t pay attention to that part of the application packet.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      It depends on how much time it is and what kind. The Indeed ones are kind of a joke. I’m a professional admin so I can understand they’d want to know if I can type/excel/word/etc. But the questions are so vague and every office has their own way of doing things. We tested a few out when hiring (sent to a coworker who “applied”) and some of the stuff we just didn’t care about.

      I also did one for a big real estate agency recently and it took about an hour and felt like a waste of time. Then in the interview we spent TWO HOURS going over the results and I had to agree with a scored number and if it wasn’t a 10 they ask you why it wasn’t a 10 and what could make the job a 10. While I appreciate that they want to make sure someone is a good fit and understands the role it felt useless when I didn’t get the job because they thought I wouldn’t like it (don’t I get some say in that?) and when they offered me a lead on a different role I got no follow up.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          Now I wish I had! It required me to write at least 10 lines (each, print and cursive), which was a sizable amount given my small print, detailing my ideal work environment.

          I’m not sure this is a good time for me to switch employers (I’m 7 months pregnant) so I was mostly doing this for the practice and to get a feel for how much companies might be willing to pay me when I start seriously looking during my maternity leave. Given the low stakes I have for this follow-up interview, I might ask the director today how these personality tests factor into their hiring decisions and if he can give me any color on them.

      1. General Ginger*

        I’ve also had to do one recently. I don’t like it one bit, but I’m in a beggars can’t be choosers state of the job search.

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      The last personality test I took came back with the results of, “This person is holding back on answers to this test.”
      Well yeah, It wasn’t anonymous and the guy I worked for who insisted I take the stupid thing was ….well many not nice to say things.

    6. AshK434*

      Yes they’re deal breakers for me and that’s only because I’ve NEVER made it passed the assessments (probably has to do with me being an introvert I think). It also makes me think that the companies using them want a homogenous workforce with the same personality type.

    7. restingbutchface*

      Yeah, that would be a no for me. Mainly because I know answering honestly would rule me out. And handwriting sample? Is this interview scheduled for 1945? There are so few jobs where handwriting would be a skill now (and I would fail all of them due to writing like a serial killer).

      I dunno, for *me* it would have to be a perfect role with a manager who wasn’t that invested in the results. Overreliance on those sorts of tests suggests to me a business where decision making is out-sourced.

    8. Jasnah*

      In my area personality/”fit” tests are common. But I’ve never had to do a handwriting assessment. That stuff is really odd, and I’d want to know how results of a scientifically-unproven test are going to factor into my new job.

  35. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Project change update: this week my boss texted me something like “I’m really trying to find your replacement. Sorry about that.”
    Sigh.

  36. Nacho*

    Wanted to get your guys opinion on whether or not this is rude:

    I work level 2 customer service, basically answering questions for the agents who actually talk to customers, and doing stuff we don’t trust them to handle. The other day, one of the agents I was helping told me he was glad I was doing better, because the last time he’d called it sounded like I was having a bad day. I don’t especially like my job at the moment, and maybe I’m not doing a perfect job of keeping that out of my voice when I’m talking to my co-workers, but am I the only one who thinks that this really isn’t something you should comment on to a co-worker? Or am I just blowing this out of proportion?

    1. Four lights*

      It would be better for them not to comment, but I don’t think it’s ridiculously rude. (As long as it’s more or less a one time thing.)

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      I think I see this differently than you do…..you seem to think that co-worker knows you hate your job. If that isn’t possible, he is likely just assuming you had an off/bad day when he spoke to you previously and was trying to be polite/offer friendly support, or if you make your internal call reps sit there in silence while you do whatever you don’t trust them to do, he could have just been trying to make polite conversation.

      Or alternatively, if your co-worker somehow knows that you really do hate your job, be grateful that he said something, because he has essentially given you a heads up. If it’s obvious to him how unhappy your are, it’s probably obvious to others as well. If you need to keep this job right now, he could be doing you a favor.

      1. Trinity Beeper*

        +1. I have a coworker who regularly asks “Hey Trinity Beeper, how are you doing?” Since I don’t particularly like my job, I used to be immediately suspicious that she could tell I was unhappy. Then I just realized that she’s a kind person who asks how you’re doing sometimes.

    3. Cat Fan*

      I think instead of being concerned with your coworker mentioning your mood to you, you should be more concerned about how you are coming off to your co-workers. If it was so obvious to your coworker that you were having a bad day, maybe you need to reign that in a bit.

    4. fposte*

      I think you may have gotten some very kindly framed feedback there. He reasonably didn’t want to bring up the issue when you seemed to be less resilient and mentioned it to you subsequently. There may be other ways for him to do it, but I don’t think this is out of line.

    5. LKW*

      Sounds like they are actually concerned about your well being. They weren’t intrusive.

      People looking out for one another is a good thing.

    6. Autumnheart*

      I wouldn’t consider that kind of comment rude. I would take it as a colleague wondering if I’m doing all right.

      And I would agree that if other people are noticing, then it might be time to put a bigger lid on it, if for no other reason than the fact that negativity tends to be contagious, and there’s no point in making your already unliked job be more of a downer. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have feelings at work, just that if there are things that you can do to make it more tolerable for you, now is the time to start integrating them into your workday.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I don’t think it’s rude, it sounds kind. I would take it to mean that you’re doing a good job of staying positive most of the time, so that the difference last time he spoke with you stood out and was noticeable.

      But I also agree with Autumnheart that it’s a good idea to be proactive about things that help you feel positive.

  37. Seifer*

    They just did a massive layoff yesterday. First, they retracted an offer. Then it was one guy. Then another. Then rumors started flying. We lost eight people out of an office of maybe twenty-five. My boss and I were basically haunted all day yesterday. I’ve gone through that before, and I’ve lived with someone who’s been laid off and I didn’t want any of my coworkers to go through that. He had to tell someone they were laid off for the first time in his career. It’s been… an awful week.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      My worst work day ever was a layoff day. It was unnerving to sit there trying to work when managers were walking around and tapping people on the shoulder to take them into a conference room and you knew what was happening (they’d announced earlier in the week that layoffs were coming).

      Take it easy this weekend.

      1. Seifer*

        I was stuck in a meeting when it happened. We knew it was coming, one of the guys being laid off got advance notice (of a few days, but still) and he was pissed enough to tell everyone in our division. I stepped out briefly to say goodbye to him, and then my boss stepped out to let someone else go. All the while, I’m sitting in this meeting, sitting next to one of the execs while he waxed poetic about how we were going to make profit. I wanted to throw up on his shoes. I’m glad I wasn’t laid off, but man, it was messed up how it all went down.

      1. Seifer*

        Thank you. My boss thankfully was understanding when I told him that the rest of us were not likely to get anything done in the afternoon. Some of the other managers were bitter, so he felt that he couldn’t let us go, but if we just puttered around all afternoon, he wouldn’t be upset.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’m so sorry. Are you safe now, or are the layoffs continuing?

      Also, has anyone ever seen a company do layoffs well? I can’t think of an example.

      1. Seifer*

        I’m safe now, thank you. My boss and I are the only ones in the office that can do what we do, so it hasn’t affected my workload all that much since I was overworked to begin with. I suppose it just means that there’s no relief in sight for us, but we figured this was the new normal a while ago. I honestly don’t know if a company has ever done layoffs well, tbh. If you give too much notice, you get people flinching every time an HR person breathes in their general direction. If you do it suddenly, people are left reeling.

      2. A-nony-nony!*

        I don’t think layoffs can ever truly be handled well, but a good severance can go a long way to making it not-as-awful. My company does at least do the severance part well. Quite generous in that regard.

      3. Hallowflame*

        My mom’s company (large oil and gas company, so they staff up and shrink down with the oil market) goes through several phases of voluntary separation before resorting to layoffs. They start by asking for volunteers for early retirement, which allows people to keep their employee benefits. Then they offer some pretty generous severance packages to the volunteers who aren’t eligible for retirement. Then they ask for volunteers to take a less generous, but still decent, severance package. By the time they get through the volunteers, they don’t usually have to lay a lot of people off.

      4. periwinkle*

        My company, and particularly my team. Layoffs are not uncommon here, unfortunately; we’ve had two sets in my division since I started 5 years ago.

        1. There’s a general heads up in advance (no surprise layoffs)
        2. Management really does try to make cuts by closing open reqs first.
        3. At least on my team, management schedules individual meetings with everyone – you learn in private if you’re getting a notice or not, and you have this opportunity to ask questions. There’s no public announcement of who is getting laid off so we’ve been asked to be sensitive about discussing the layoffs. (those who want to announce it do so on their own timeline, some people choose to say nothing)
        4. 60-day notice so you have time to look for internal roles as well as external ones, severance if you leave the organization, and you get the check whether you stay 60 days or 60 minutes after the clock starts on your notice.

        It still sucks of course, and my team has lost some talented people. But it still beats the “public tap on the shoulder/shut down your access immediately” scenario.

      5. Autumnheart*

        Yes. I’m at a company that once did a layoff terribly, but their current process is about as good as it can be. They try to give at least 30 days’ notice, prioritize people for open internal positions that they might qualify for, and provide severance and references.

        The terrible one was several years ago, where they announced that an unspecified number of people were going to be laid off that day, and the news would be delivered via phone to your desk, so everyone should go to their desk and wait to see if they get a call. Then at about noon or 1pm, they announced that all the calls had been made. Needless to say, everyone’s nerves were shot all day (especially people who routinely conducted business on the phone) and the company got a lot of feedback about how disruptive the process was. To their credit, they listened and never performed a layoff that way again.

        1. Bratmon*

          I heard a story of a company doing layoffs this way, and the office prankster started calling people to scare them.

    3. A-nony-nony!*

      Oh, you have my sympathies. My company is going through a major, major re-org and the layoffs started this week, and will continue into next week. It’s awful.

      And is a big part of why I’m interviewing for another company, after more than 15 years at this company. The layoffs, along with huge questions about what our work will look like going forward, have made me think it’s time to move (scary as it is).

    4. Nessun*

      So very sorry to hear that. I’m glad that from your replies you seem to be safe right now. Take care this weekend and try to relax & recharge. Not much you can do, unfortunately, except being genuine and human, which takes a lot out of us all.

      +1 for your username, btw! :) Take care.

  38. Meredith Brooks*

    We have a new Director. There’s something off about him. It’s almost like he’s overly solicitous to the point of being condescending. He holds the door open for the women in the office, even when it’s slightly awkward. He has a habit of touching my arm when he wants to make his presence known. (I’m a woman) I’m finding this kind of chivalry not entirely appropriate in the office, although I don’t think it’s necessarily creep behavior. It does feel like some kind of microaggression, but perhaps one that he’s ignorant of. I get the impression that he’s attempting to adopt this persona that’s about 10 years too late and doesn’t really line up with today’s standards and issues. I dunno. I’m not quite sure how I want to handle it — I’m being neutral now, but I’m starting to get angry by it, so should figure out how I want to move forward. Would love to hear thoughts

    1. Four lights*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about the door thing. I’m a female paralegal and the male attorneys hold the door for me, which is weird because biglaw culture is usually attorney’s first. But whatever. You could try to say cheerily, “Oh, that’s okay, I’ve got it!”

      The arm thing though–he might mean well, but you shouldn’t touch people. Just say, “I’d rather you not touch my arm. If you need to get my attention, please knock (or do whatever).” If he doesn’t stop, say more firmly, “Don’t touch my arm.” “I’ve asked you repeatedly not to do that.”

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        The door thing actually bothers me more than the arm thing. He will literally quicken his pace to be able to open the door. I’m a manager (who doesn’t report to him) and I just wonder if he would do the same if I were a man. But there is more to it than the arm and door thing, though I can’t really give explicit examples unless I wrote a novel’s worth of context. (Those two examples are just the most clear cut that describe his demeanor)

        1. Four lights*

          Hmm. Is there someone higher up you could mention this too, who might be able to have a word with him.

          With the door thing–I find it annoying too, especially in a business setting. He probably wouldn’t do it if you were a man, but it used to be considered polite behavior to hold the door for women and let them go first. To do otherwise would be rude. Some people still follow this, so I just decided to roll with it.

          I don’t think the arm touching thing has anything to do with politeness though.

          1. Meredith Brooks*

            If he was an older man I probably wouldn’t be as bothered by it because it would be a cultural affect that he’s holding on to. But, he’s in his 30’s and younger than me and it just feels wrong.

            Curious what you think the arm touching is about? Because I honestly don’t know why he does it. It’s definitely to make his presence known, but he could easily accomplish that by saying my name.

            1. Four lights*

              Yeah, it would make more sense if he were older, though some younger men have been trained that way as well…

              I don’t know about the arm touching. I’ve seen women do that more often. But everybody has a right not to be touched, so I don’t think there’s any problem with you telling him politely to stop, regardless of his position. And that may go for some of the other things he does too. Just because he’s in charge doesn’t necessarily mean he can do whatever he wants. A polite, “Please don’t…” “I’d prefer you do X instead of Y…” may get you the result you want. And if he flips out, or tries to blame you, you’ll get a clearer picture of what kind of person he is.

            2. Nita*

              I’d just say “Hey, this is a little awkward, but you might not realize how many people don’t like coworkers touching them to get their attention. It’s going to go over better if you knock.”

              Oh, and I hate that feeling that something is “off” about someone. It’s so hard to figure out what’s causing it, and if I’m being ridiculous or not. Sometimes I never do find out. Often I find out that the feeling was quite justified – they’re not necessarily a creep or out to cause harm, but just someone I would want to stay away from. For example, a few months ago I had to deal with a guy who gave me that slightly-off feeling right away. It was over a business matter, and he turned out to be incredibly pushy, and to have some really odd ideas about the deal we were trying to close. I had a fun time getting it across to him that due to several problems that came up based on our discussion, there will be no deal.

            3. Friday afternoon fever*

              Without knowing more, or in isolation, at best the arm-touching is thoughtless and rude—ie, he considers it appropriate and hasn’t given it another thought and just /does/ it. (Gross.)

        2. Melly*

          I totally get it. My boss is 35 years my senior. I was so uncomfortable with the many displays of benevolent sexism for at least a year. I’ve been here seven years now and our relationship has evolved to the point where I feel comfortable calling him out when he does it (while simultaneously letting him do the things if they aren’t prohibiting me from acting like a capable adult). Weirdest example: he won’t let me walk on the street side of a sidewalk, presumably shielding me from getting hit by a car?

          1. Four lights*

            I’ve heard of that. I had a coworker (35) who insisted her husband do that as well, and said that if you walk on the other side it means you’re a prostitute, and he’s, like, your pimp.

              1. Sarah*

                This one is old. Like, super old. It literally comes from having her walk on the side where the lady will be more easily defendable without her interfering with the drawing of your sword…

          2. jack*

            My dad did that with me growing up for the same reason (also getting splashed with water from a car).

          3. Bagpuss*

            I think it was more about aviding getting splashed with water (or the other liquids you might get on street s in pre-petrol car days) than about getting hit. Very old fashioned.

        3. valentine*

          The door thing actually bothers me more than the arm thing.
          I hate the door thing because not only have you decided I’m a woman, you’re now going to literally go out of your way to treat me differently because of it. Also: Why do you want to be behind me? I once went out of my way to a different door, so annoyed was I that a man I didn’t know was holding the door for a stream of women. He got mad.

          If he does it on an elevator, you can tell him the rule is last in, first out. (Also: Why do you want me to squeeze by you?) For this and the arm thing, though, I would tell him during a one-on-one or the next time he does either, that it’s sexist/inappropriate, but holding the door open behind him or saying your name/knocking would be fine.

    2. Psyche*

      Well if you don’t want to confront him about it (which can be very awkward with the power imbalance) then you could try making it more disruptive when he does it. Like if he holds the door open for you, insist that he go first even if there is back and forth of “you go first” or you can start holding the door for him if he is behind you and insist. When he touches your arm to get your attention, visibly startle. If he keeps doing it you can tell him that you startle easily and would rather he not touch you to get your attention. If you see him reaching out, step back or block him with your hand. None of this accuses him of being creepy or doing something wrong but it makes it clear that you are uncomfortable.

      1. Meredith Brooks*

        I did try insisting he go through the door and it became incredibly awkward. I suppose I could suck it up and continue making it incredibly awkward until he walks through the door first.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, you may have to do that.

          It sounds like he does not know norms and you are picking up on his uncertainty/awkwardness about what he does not know. Do remember that it is his awkwardness not yours, you are fine here you know how you handle things such as doors.

          Which ever way you go on this one decide to be consistent. Either consistently tell him no racing for the door OR consistently ignore it.

          I would treat it as nervousness until I knew for certain it was a larger problem. I had a boss who turned out to be a fine human being and a fine boss. But he was one nervous dude when he started. I ignored the nervousness and just went situation by situation. Overall, I would say something like “X is better than Y because [reasons].” I used a conversational, matter of fact way of speaking.
          Years later he gave me a really great reference.

    3. Holly*

      I really wouldn’t move forward – considering it’s the Director and the power imbalance, I think a gentle touch on the arm or holding doors open is not really a huge issue, and likewise saying “oh, no please, after you” and subtly withdrawing from the arm touch (or maybe acting in surprise and saying, oh that scared me! or something, so it’s not communicating that you found it offensive?) would be fine too.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        You shouldn’t touch people unless you know they’re OK with it, especially if you’re in a position of power over them, especially especially at work. I think it’s unlikely the director is thinking of it this way, but inappropriate physical contact is a spectrum and unwanted arm-touching is on it.

        You don’t need to be subtle. You can be direct and polite and say something like “I prefer not to be touched.” If he gets upset at you for saying that, or if he doesn’t stop, then you have a bigger problem.

        The door-holding is awkward, but harder to address.