open thread – November 9-10, 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.

{ 1,483 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager Post author

    Hi! I’m putting together a holiday-themed episode of my podcast, and I’m looking for weird/funny office holiday stories — holiday party disasters, gift exchanges gone terribly wrong, decorating debacles … any weird or funny stories about the holidays at work. If you have a story that you’re willing to share on the show, here’s how to get it to me:

    1. Call the show voicemail at 855-426-9675 and record it on the voicemail there.

    2. Or even better (in terms of sound quality), you can record it on your phone and email me the sound file at podcast@askamanager.org.

    Also! If you have holiday-related questions that you want to hear answered on the show, send those in too! (Same instructions as above.)

    Because I’m recording soon, ideally send them in this weekend if you can.

    Thank you, thank you!

  2. Moths

    TL;DR – Do I bring up issues with another employee now that they’re already on the ropes?
    Full Version – We have a Problem Employee (Regina George), who has been impossible to work with since she started two years ago. Other employees have repeatedly gone to the department head with concerns that Regina is difficult to work with, disparaging of others, confrontational, etc. But the department head liked that Regina would come and gossip with complaints about others, so would always ignore the complaints and even ended up promoting Regina (a real morale killer for everyone who had been personally victimized by Regina George). When the department head hired a friend recently, it was no longer possible to ignore the issues when they started bringing them forward too. Now the department head came to me the other day and asked if I was also having any issues with Regina, since they’ve decided to start doing some coaching with her and may have to make some decisions soon (which came off as decisions about Regina’s continued employment). I stalled and said that I would think about it and get back to them. While it’s great that Regina is finally being dealt with, I feel like the department head enabled and encouraged the bad behavior for so long that they essentially let her walk into traffic and is now looking for people to help push her in front of a bus. But I would also like to see Regina held accountable for her bad behavior and I feel like this is the first time the department head will actually listen. Should I pretend I have nothing to say or do I come forward with more issues, knowing that it may lead to Regina’s firing?

    1. carrie heffernan

      my opinion is that you should definitely come forward – otherwise the problems will continue.

    2. Beehoppy

      1000% come forward! Regina is responsible for her own poor behavior and must face the consequences even if they are belated.

    3. Shark Whisperer

      If I were in your position, I would come forward with more issues. I agree that it sucks that the department head enabled this behavior for so long and now it might come as a complete surprise to Regina, but Regina also sucks and should be fired. Whether or not the department head coaches her and gives her a chance to change or just fires her really has nothing to do with you. If you give more info and the department head fires her right away, that was the department head’s decision, not yours, and it’s not really your place to try and exert control over that decision. Just be honest.

    4. Psyche

      Bring up the issues. You don’t need to pile on, so if a specific issue is already being addressed then you don’t need to bring it forward, but they do need the full picture. However, I would agree that the department head is the real problem here. It should not take hiring a friend to believe what your employees are telling you.

    5. Lynne879

      Regina is a poor employee, so she should be fired! Come forward otherwise the problems will get worse than they already are.

      1. Waiting At The DMV

        Come forward but be careful – be matter of fact and focus on ways end work product has been negatively affected. Sounds like this boss is pretty bad and could just as easily keep RG, or even if RG is let go you don’t want anything to recoil negatively toward you.

        1. Tabby Baltimore

          Not only the work product, but the work flow ITSELF, which could include how your team’s professional relationships with other units inside and outside the business are being affected by her behaviors, work practices, and speech. A company’s workflow often depends on everyone, inside and outside of a team, cooperating, so if she has been as argumentative with outside unit counterparts as she is within the team, or she has made disparaging comments–verbally or in emails–about the performance level of other outside-the-team workers, explain how this behavior has affected her targets’ cooperation with you and with others on your team with respect to the workflow AND end product. (E.g., did the after-effects of her sounding off result in slower response times from other units? in “lost” requests that had to be re-sent? etc.) Coming to that meeting with specific examples of how her inappropriate behaviors and comments enabled bad outcomes (bonus points for you if her behavior cost the company extra money, so mention that if it’s true) will make you a more credible witness to the people you are speaking to.

    6. ThankYouRoman

      Hired a friend, eh…and now Regina is being held accountable. This reeks of Friend butting heads with Regina, so now of course she’s gotta go. Despite all the nasty crud before. Ick ick ick what a bad place.

      She’s bad and seemingly hasn’t changed, so I would say don’t protect her. It’s unfair how long it’s taken but don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!

    7. neverjaunty

      Don’t protect Regina, but do start planning your exit. Your job is not safe with this trash fire of a department head. What if Friend takes a dislike to you?

      1. Zombeyonce

        I agree with this so much! Definitely don’t hesitate to be honest about Regina’s issues, but the department head is obviously terrible at prioritizing morale over gossip, and the whole team over their interests in a single relationship with a friend.

        They’ll continue to be a bad person to work for long after Regina’s gone and this won’t be the end of problems stemming from their lack of good managing. Start looking for another job now if you can!

      2. Matilda Jefferies

        This. I don’t see any need to protect Regina at this point, but I also don’t trust the boss. I would give one or two data points about Regina, and immediately start getting your resume together as well. I’m sorry – it’s a crappy situation for you, either way.

      3. Moths

        I can’t argue this point. There really are so many issues here and sometimes I lose perspective on that. See below for an update on the meeting I had with the department head, but during it they noted that they had started avoiding interactions with Regina (??? you’re her manager!!!) and that they didn’t do anything until people they “respected” started coming forward (basically, if you’re a golden child you get whatever you want and if you’re not, your opinions don’t even matter). I have considered looking for an exit at some point, but my goal is to stick it out for another three years or so, unless things get unbearable. Probably not a bad idea to have a resume ready at any time though, just to be safe!

        1. RUKiddingMe

          “…they didn’t do anything until people they “respected” started coming forward…”

          No, not at all insulting to everyone else or anything. What a tool your boss is!

        2. tangerineRose

          “basically, if you’re a golden child you get whatever you want and if you’re not, your opinions don’t even matter” This is really bad. You may want to look for something earlier than 3 years, maybe much earlier.

    8. LGC

      She got herself fired, Gretchen.

      I normally HATE that framing, but it sounds like they want confirmation of her well known bad behavior. You can either lie and protect someone who’s well known to be toxic, or you can tell the truth and they can do what they should have done a while ago. It sounds like she’s on her way out anyway.

    9. designbot

      Ideally if you have any documentation of issues being brought forward previously, I’d remind her about those. Forwarding an old email with a note like, “resending in light of our recent conversation,” or if you don’t have documentation I’d be like well, there have been the X and Y issues that we brought up a while ago… those haven’t gone away but I’d gotten the impression they weren’t of concern to you the last time we spoke about them.
      So, I’d not only bring up the Regina issues, I’d try to be really clear that they’d been previously been brought up and play a little bit dumb about why they’re a problem to the boss now when they weren’t before.

    10. Peachkins

      Totally agree with everyone else- say something! I would just make sure you stick with the facts. I know it stinks that your boss waited this long to do something, but don’t back down now that they finally are if Regina truly deserves it.

    11. Anonymeece

      Come forward. It sounds like you’re concerned you’d be “responsible” for Regina’s firing – but you’re not. She is.

    12. LKW

      Bring up the issues but only in a very constructive way highlighting the impact to the organization. Loss of talent, loss of clients, slower productivity, rework. No gossip, facts only.
      Regina ignored instructions resulting in roughly three weeks of rework for 8 people and in order to make up for lost time, the next team had to work nights and weekends resulting in really bad morale.

    13. EddieSherbert

      You should definitely be honest. And if it comes to it, remember than you’re not leading to her being fired, HER ACTIONS are.

    14. OhGee

      Yes. In my experience, it can take a long time and many complaints before a toxic coworker is fired. If you speak up, it could be the final straw — if you don’t, they may hang on there a lot longer. It’s too bad management didn’t step in sooner (or set a good example in the first place!) but it doesn’t change the fact that this person needs to go.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. They are asking you, now is not the time to hold back. I would pick the three top concerning things you saw and be sure to mention those things. You can say, “There are other things but these three concerned me the most.”

        It’s nice of you to be concerned about driving the bus over her, but she walked out into traffic on her own. Think of it this way, if she had come to you one day and said, “Boy I have been such a jackass. I want to clean up my act. Will you help me by giving me advice as I go?” You probably would have agreed to this. But she never asked and she had all that time to ask.

        Don’t protect people from themselves and don’t cover for people. Helping others never involves stopping the natural consequences nor does it involve covering up.

    15. froodle

      If Regina George is still actively being terrible, 100% it’s relevant and timely and it’s appropriate to bring it up – though I can understand not wanting to get involved based on how useless the boss has previously been

      If she’s not terrible any more and hasn’t been for an extended period,I would think about it

    16. Marthooh

      Definitely tattle. You can’t keep Department Head from playing favorites, but you can help get rid of one toxic coworker — and Regina George may even learn a lesson from this.

      (Yeah, don’t hold your breath.)

    17. Not So Super-visor

      Spill the beans! As someone with a large department, I often have to filter complaints from employees about their coworkers. Example: Janis has a terrible attitude about everything and thinks that no one knows as much as her, so all of her complaints have to be taken with a grain of salt. Glen and Gretchen can’t stand each other, so I have to dig into every complaint that they make about each other. I sometimes have to verify complaints or ask for details from other employees in order to get an objective picture.
      Yes, it sucks that your manager let it go on for so long and perpetuated it, but she can’t make things better if she doesn’t know the real deal.

    18. Moths

      OP here. I was definitely surprised to see these responses; I’d been falling down on the side of just staying out of it and letting her past bad behavior slide. While I didn’t get a chance to respond earlier, I read many of these and then decided to go ahead and talk to the department head. I narrowed down two specific points that I wanted to discuss and talked about how those two (major) behaviors had impacted the ability of the department to function as a team and had specifically affected my team’s ability to do their jobs effectively. It seemed to go pretty well and afterwards I didn’t feel like I had piled on Regina, but just made the department head aware of some of her behaviors that may not have been noticed before. Thanks to everyone on here for the motivation to speak up, knowing that she did these actions and is allowed to be held accountable for them!

  3. Sunflower

    Can anyone recommend some quality professional development conferences/courses- bonus if they are geared towards women? I’m mostly looking for ones focused towards growing leadership skills and confidence in business. I live in NYC but my company will also pay for travel elsewhere. I’m also looking at joining the Ellevate network if anyone has experience with that.

    1. MissDisplaced

      NY Women in Communications and The Association for Women in Communications
      has some. Media Bistro also has some classes around this topic. I also suggest looking at your alumni organization. My graduate university has a whole dedicated woman’s studies program that puts on events. Maybe check local universities, such as Cornell, NYU, etc.

      Institute for Women’s Leadership
      Women’s Leadership Institute

    2. Bubble Witch

      I used to be an Ellevate member in a midwestern city. I thought it was a waste of time/money–the leadership in my chapter only ever organized happy hours and at least 1 out of every 4 women was there to hawk their multi-level marketing nonsense. But each chapter is locally managed, so I am sure every chapter is vastly different.

    3. Lily Rowan

      I did a great year-long program through Women Unlimited in New York, but I think they mostly work with large companies that send a cohort of participants. (I was a nonprofit scholarship participant, so can’t speak to that side of thing.)

  4. Casper

    How does quitting usually work? Does your health insurance stop on your last day or is there a grace period? What happens to your 401k? Does the new company’s HR like, send you a “here’s what to do” or are you on your own?

    Also, how do you tell people? Do you generally tell your colleagues or does your boss break the news (especially if you’re in an open cube and your boss has a door).

    Also if you’re really good friends with your boss…tips to not potentially cry when quitting if you’re the type to not be able to control it in tough situations?

    1. Audiophile

      When I’ve quit in a past, my insurance has carried through for a few days to a week. But be prepared for it to end day of.

      1. Autumnheart

        In the US, leaving a job qualifies as a “life event” and you should be able to sign up with an ACA plan without having to wait for the enrollment period.

    2. Trout 'Waver

      Health insurance usually runs through the month, but double check your plan’s documentation. You can stay on the health insurance for a period of time through the COBRA program, but you have to pay the full cost to the company.

      Your 401(k) stays in place, but you may have to pay maintenance fees. You cannot contribute to it any more. It’s best to roll it over into your own IRA after you leave the company. It’s pretty straight forward and a company like Fidelity or Vanguard will have resources to help you make that move.

      As for telling people, talk to your manager and ask them what they’re prefer.

      1. Jerry Vandesic

        If you have a short break between jobs, you can use a loophole in the COBRA law to keep yourself covered for up to 105 days without cost (assuming you don’t end up needing any covered medical care during those 105 days).

        The loophole works like this. You have up to 60 days to elect to be covered by COBRA. Wait until the last day. Then you have 45 days to make your first payment. If you don’t have any medical services that need insurance, you simply don’t pay. On the other hand, if you do need medical care, you can send in your payment and it will be retroactive to the day you left your job.

    3. Four lights

      401k–This account will stay as is in your name. When you start your new job, if they have a 401k plan you can work with them to roll over the old plan to the new one.

      I’ve always told my colleagues, but that’s probably something you’ll work out with your boss. Regardless of who tells them, you’ll probably have conversations with them wishing each other well, talking about your next step, anyway.

      If you’re really good friends, maybe it’s ok to cry a little

      1. Admin of Sys

        401k does not always hang around – make sure there’s not a minimum vested amount that you had to reach before you get to keep it. I had one that required me to either cash it out (horrid taxes / penalties before retirement age) or roll into a separate retirement account. Most are not like that and carry through, but it’s not 100%.

        1. Zap Rowsdower

          It’s a mixed bag, depending on how the plan is set up and the contract the employer has with the firm maintaining the fund. When I was laid off, I started getting nastygrams from the brokerage company before 30 days, saying I need to either move it or roll it over (if they were intending to get me to roll my account over to them, it failed). My brother on the other hand resigned from a job 3+ years ago and still has the account in place.

          I would set up a IRA at the bank/firm of your choice and roll it over to them. Then you control it, not the former employer. Whatever firm sets up the IRA should take care of all the mechanics, it pretty much just needs your signature.

        2. DCGirl

          Vesting would apply to the company’s contributions to the 401(k), not to the employee’s contributions.

          For the overall health of the plan, employers must have “force out” language to close out small accounts. I’ve seen ranges from $1,000 to $5,000. Some retirement plan providers will role it over to an IRA automatically, some will cut you a check pretty much on the day they receive notice you’ve terminated, some will send you a letter asking what you want to do. The best thing is to roll it over into another tax-deferred retirement vehicle, such as an IRA or another 401(k) plan. You don’t want to have to pay penalties or taxes.

          1. Actuarial Octagon

            Yes. Retirement Plan consultant here. In The US the legal maximum they can force out is $5000. Under $1000 they can cut you a check instead of rolling it into an IRA. They do have to give you 30 days notice before either option. Some plans do the force outs immediately, some quarterly or once a year, some whenever someone in HR remembers.

          2. Clisby Williams

            Second. It can make sense to roll it over to your new job’s 401k if that’s possible, but setting up your own IRA also is good. You don’t want to end up having to keep track of 5 or 6 separate 401k accounts over the course of your working life. If you just set up your own, you can roll over this one and any accounts from future jobs into the same IRA.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      How does quitting usually work? Does your health insurance stop on your last day or is there a grace period?

      Are you in the U.S.? If so, I’ve generally found health insurance to stop at the end of the month you quit with the option to COBRA-extend coverage. If you start the new job right away, you probably won’t have a gap in coverage, and your new company may even be able to back-cover you.

      What happens to your 401k?

      I think most retirement contributions stay in their own little silos, unless you make the effort to consolidate them, and there may or may not be tax penalties for doing so.

      Does the new company’s HR like, send you a “here’s what to do” or are you on your own?

      Depends on the company. Some are great at on-boarding. Others are terrible at it. And then there’s the whole gamut in between.

      Also, how do you tell people? Do you generally tell your colleagues or does your boss break the news (especially if you’re in an open cube and your boss has a door).

      I think that’s entirely up to you. Usually I have one or two trusted colleagues I’m close to who know before my boss does. You really shouldn’t tell your boss until you are ready to give your official notice. That said, even though the standard notice is two weeks, I’ve given notice as much as 9 months in advance sometimes (I work in schools, so it may be different from your typical workplace in that respect).

      Also if you’re really good friends with your boss…tips to not potentially cry when quitting if you’re the type to not be able to control it in tough situations?

      Just cry anyway?

      1. Natalie

        There shouldn’t be any tax affect to consolidating retirement accounts as long as you do a direct rollover.

          1. Natalie

            I suppose their would, although I’m not sure why anyone would do that? IRAs aren’t exactly difficult to open, and there’s nothing preventing anyone from having two.

            1. kg

              Also any company that does retirement accounts (Fidelity/Vantage/whatever) will happily walk you through this, including receiving the check directly from the company’s 401k provider and depositing it for you. They are very very happy to do it for you and have you as a customer.

          2. fposte

            That’s not a tax penalty, though; that’s just paying tax on the untaxed money.

            You’d get a tax *penalty* if you withdrew the money from the 401k directly to yourself and didn’t roll it into an IRA or another 401k. That’s the thing you really want to avoid. Trustee-to-trustee transfer (your new 401k/IRA custodian gets the money directly from the old one) is the easy way to avoid accidentally incurring that penalty.

      2. DCGirl

        I think most retirement contributions stay in their own little silos, unless you make the effort to consolidate them, and there may or may not be tax penalties for doing so.

        To preserve the health of the plan, all 401(k) plans must have provisions for “force out” distributions of small balances, small being defined as $5,000 or less. Many will automatically role it into an IRA for the employee. If they don’t, the employee can set up his/her own IRA or roll the funds into another 401(k) or other approved vehicle. I disagree with the recommendations here to go directly to Vanguard or Fidelity. If this is a small account, the employee should be looking at the fees that may be charged. He/she might get a better deal on an IRA at a local credit union.

    5. AdAgencyChick

      It varies. I’ve had jobs that stop your health coverage on your last day, and some that cover you until the end of the month in which you quit. 401(k) is still yours, although you’ll lose any company contributions that you weren’t there long enough to have vested (depends on your company’s vesting policy).

      I usually tell my coworkers, but not until my boss has given me permission to do so. Sometimes they don’t want you to tell right away because they want to have a solid transition plan in place before telling people. Once, though, I had a boss who wanted me to keep it quiet for so long that I didn’t feel right about it — that my colleagues just weren’t going to have enough time to pump me for information if I didn’t tell them sooner. (I served out the first half of my two-week notice and she still didn’t want me to say anything!) I ended up telling that boss (because she was awful and I had other managers from that company whom I’d far rather use as references) that I could not in good conscience keep things a secret any longer because my team was going to need to figure out how to cover my work, and that I planned to start telling people. She backed down (and to this day I have no idea why she was being so damn secretive).

      If you’re friends with your boss, go ahead and cry a little! I’ve done that only once (because only once have I been in a situation where I liked my boss that much and STILL wanted to leave — I was stolen away by an even better former boss), and it was totally fine. If your relationship with your boss is that good, it’s not going to be worse because you had a few tears over it.

    6. Detective Amy Santiago

      In my experience, health care ends on the last day of the month when your employment ends. So, my last day at my previous job was May 2nd and my insurance through there ended on May 31st.

      How has it worked when other people have left? This varies depending on the company. If you’re not sure, ask your boss how they want to handle it.

      Take water in with you and sip it.

    7. Lily in NYC

      In my company, most people try to leave early in the month if possible because their insurance will go through the entire month. You tell your boss first (in person if possible) and then tell your coworkers. You do not want your boss to find out from someone else, and people talk. For 401K, you should be able to get some guidance from your new place on how to roll over your account (it’s not difficult). And finally, if you are good friends with your boss, I don’t think it will be a big deal at all if you cry. It’s not the same as crying over a petty work problem. Good luck!

    8. Beehoppy

      Health insurance varies by company/insurer. I know at my last job it went through the end of the month that I left.
      For my 401K I got a prorated matching contribution from my employer, but the money remains with them until you take action to move it. If you start a new job with their own plan, they should be able to help you roll it over, if not, you can talk to a financial advisor who can put it in an IRA for you. In general, it’s not ideal to leave your money with the former employer too long. I told my colleagues after I told my boss, but some Bosses will prefer to do it themselves to manage the message.

    9. The Rain In Spain

      Your employee handbook should provide information re how long benefits will last after termination. At a previous employer, it ran through the end of the month (regardless of whether your last day was the 2nd or the 29th).

      You’ll should a letter re your 401k with your options (including rolling over to your new employer).

      How you tell people depends on culture. I waited for a week so we could figure out a transition plan, but when it was clear that my boss wasn’t going to make an announcement, I went ahead and told a few people close to me that I was leaving.

      Your last question is the hardest for me to answer- I felt SO stressed going to give my notice (I liked my boss but there was no room for growth) and then a little disappointed by the response (oh, okay. followed by grandboss asking me to extend my notice period the day before my last day). I would remind yourself of the reasons you’re leaving and thank your boss for the experience you’ve had. I find something as simple as digging my nails into my hand can help me avoid tearing up. I would make sure you’re prepared for the possibility of a retention offer and to know how you’d respond to it. If anything, you can be even better friends with your boss once you’re no longer reporting to her/him!

    10. LilySparrow

      My health insurance ran through the end of the month, which gave me time to switch over to my husband’s (which was a better plan anyway).

      I got a packet of info from HR about my 401k holdings, how much I had vested of employer contributions (of course I kept 100% of my own contributions), etc. I liked my portfolio in that account, so I let it ride a few months until I decided where I wanted to open a new IRA. Then the rep from my investment company contacted the benefits person at the old job directly to handle the rollover.

    11. londonedit

      I can’t comment on the benefits side of things because I’m not in the US, but in my experience your new company will send you some sort of timeline of when you can expect things to happen, along with any forms you’ll need to fill in before your start date (or they’ll let you know that when you arrive on your first day, you’ll meet with HR to fill in your new starter forms or whatever). If they haven’t given you this information, it’s perfectly OK for you to ask – ‘Is there any information I need to provide before my start date? Do you have an employee handbook I can read before I join?’ etc. That’s a completely normal request.

      In terms of who tells your colleagues, again, it’s fine to ask your boss about that when you give them the news. You can just ask whether they’d be happy for you to tell your colleagues that you’re leaving. Again, in my experience, people usually have ‘the meeting’ with the boss, and then come and tell their immediate colleagues in person. If you’re not comfortable doing that in an open-plan office, you could send an email or if it’s a small team maybe ask your boss if it’s OK to invite them into the meeting once you’ve finished the official discussion.

      And I think it’s perfectly OK to cry if you get on really well with your boss and you’re upset about not working with them anymore! Resigning from a job is a nerve-wracking thing and I don’t think anyone reasonable would think any less of you for being upset about it.

    12. Sleepytime Tea

      I’m going to say “usually” a lot because every company can do weird things, but based on what I’ve seen over the years, these are the things that are pretty standard.

      Health insurance: Usually through the last day of the calendar month of your last day of work. That means if you quit on the 1st, you would still get insurance through the end of the month, just like if you quit on the 29th. Again, this is USUALLY and it’s because your employer is paying premiums on a monthly basis.

      401k: Contributions continue through your last paycheck, and usually any matching does as well. You will then need to make a decision on if you want to roll it over, move it, etc. etc. Your employer will notify the 401k company and they will send you documentation on what your options are, and you’ll see it all on their website.

      HR: Most of the time there is a “termination” checklist of “offboarding” list that they will go through with each employee who is leaving. Some companies are better than others at this. At my last job at a decent size company HR did nothing. I just handed my laptop and badge to my supervisor. At a previous job they had exit interviews, where they also gave you a full packet on the details and timeframes of what happened with your health insurance/COBRA options, 401k, etc. It will vary. No shame in reaching out to HR to ask for those details, they usually have it all written up already, even if they’re not great about handing it out.

      Telling people: My boss has always been the one to make the announcement, and that was usually just because it was easier and everyone gets the same message at the same time and all that jazz. At my last job due to some miscommunication he thought I wanted to announce it myself but I had told him that I would prefer he do it and then… whatever. I just started telling people and sent out an e-mail to the team. Typically though, your boss will make the announcement.

      Not crying: I had one time where I was in that spot. I loved my manager SO much and I knew it was going to be super rough on her for me leaving, both because we worked great together/liked each other on a personal level but because I was the glue keeping that department from falling apart. Honestly? I just let myself cry. I gave her my notice in a closed conference room so no one else saw me, and while crying at work is not something I generally want to do, really, in that situation with someone you have a close relationship with, I don’t think it’s a HUGE deal. You’re not crying about work. You’re crying because you’re sad. It’s fine.

    13. Natalie

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned regarding health insurance: even if your insurance lasts through the end of the month, the funds in your flexible spending account expire on your last day of employment. You will still have a few months to submit receipts, but the services have to have been provided on or before that expiration date. So if you have an FSA you want to spend down, plan ahead.

      In general, for federally regulated benefits like health insurance and retirement plants there are required plan documents that your company (or more likely a third party administrator) will send you in the mail. So make sure they have your address and that you check your mail.

      If you are moving on to another job, you probably won’t have much of a gap in coverage. I’d recommend holding onto your COBRA notice even if you’re pretty sure you won’t need the coverage. You have 60 days from the date of the notice to opt for coverage, which is retroactive to when your insurance ended, so if anything catastrophic happens during that short gap period you could jump back onto your own insurance then and be covered.

      1. Formerly Arlington

        Really good point about the FSA. I frantically paid for my daughter’s braces in full on my last day of work when i realized that!

    14. That Would be a Good Band Name

      My experience has been that you will get a letter with options for your 401k. Sometimes they have you roll it into a slightly different account. There shouldn’t be tax penalties as long as you don’t ask them to cut you a check (which is generally one of the options). If they make it easy to roll into your new company’s 401k (assuming you can contribute day 1) then that’s what I’d do. I just find it easier to keep up with if it’s all in the same place, but that’s a personal preference.

      For your new employer, you need to see when your benefits start there. If you have health insurance day one of new company, and you aren’t taking time off between the two, then you shouldn’t have to worry about cobra. Cobra lets you continue your current employer’s insurance but you’ll pay the full rate (your cost plus the cost that your company had been paying on your behalf) so it can be pretty pricey.

      I recently put in my notice and I went around and told my team in person after I told my boss. Then I emailed people that I worked with, but weren’t actually on my team. Other people just send an email. And I’ve seen the announcement come from managers too. There are a lot of ways to go about it and discussing it with your manager is probably your best bet.

      Cry if you need to. I’m assuming you mean watery eyes and not full on sobbing. It will be fine. It’s an emotional thing.

    15. Casper

      Thank you everyone! I don’t have an offer yet but it’s possible (and regardless one day I will need this advice, I suppose). I realized a lot of my anxiety about leaving was of the unknowns about the transition.

      And apologies for being unclear – I wouldn’t tell anyone before boss! And yes, in the US.

    16. Hamburke

      Insurance – They usually carry it forward to the end of the period but your company might have a different policy, especially if they are self-insured. If you pay a portion of your premiums, they’re unlikely to reimburse you for what you’ve already paid so they usually hold you over until you’ve exhausted what you’ve paid for or what they paid for you. But there’s also COBRA continuation coverage if you’re eligible.

      401K – any money that you contributed to the 401K is entirely yours. Company matching funds “vest” over time at a stated rate (sometimes partially vesting over a few years, sometimes all at once after an anniversary). My husband STILL has not moved the money from his very first 401K to anything but that account. It’s nearly 20 years since he left that job… You don’t need to do anything with it but you may accrue account management fees over time. I’ve moved all of mine to an IRA.

      New benefits – the new company usually has a new hire packet for you that includes a bunch of stuff including (US) I-9 (work eligibility forms – this is the “one ID from column A or one from column B and one from column C” form), W-4 (federal withholdings) and your state withholding form, company handbook and benefits selection as well as any other on-boarding/training materials they require – basically, your first day is boring. Depending on the employer policy, you may not be eligible for all or some of the company benefits immediately.

      Telling Colleagues – this is specific to your company culture and I’ve always talked about it with my bosses when I’ve resigned. At one place, I told everyone. At another place, it was announced at a department meeting.

      Good luck on not crying!

      1. blackcat

        On COBRA, you can elect it retroactively.
        So say you quit on the 20th, intending to take a break. Insurance stops on the 1st. On the 2nd, you fall down the stairs and break your arm. On the 15th, you are feeling well enough to file for COBRA. You pay 1 month of COBRA, which is likely less $$$ than a broken arm.

    17. Artemesia

      They are required to send you the paper work for COBRA when you leave and you can choose to continue your insurance (at horrific cost) with that until you have new insurance. One great wrinkle of COBRA is that you can have it essentially for two months without paying i.e. you sign up and you have two months to pay; if you get a new job or a new insurance policy and don’t need the COBRA then you just never pay. If you should develop some medical issue during that period, then you pay. Obviously with something this delicate and important double check current policy but this is how it worked when I retired and my husband was not eligible for medicare for a couple of months after my insurance stopped.

      Check with HR on insurance. Usually it goes to the end of the month you leave BUT make sure what the rules are where you are. And shop for your own insurance options before you resign. As noted above, COBRA is a bridge, but it would be good to know how you will go forward on that.

      1. Natalie

        The COBRA float you’re describing works a little differently, which is important because you don’t want to elect for payments you don’t need. You have 60 days to *sign up* for COBRA (from the date of the COBRA notice, which is often a couple of weeks after you’ve quit).

        Once you sign up, you have 45 days to pay for your first premium, and theoretically if you realized at that point you didn’t need the insurance, you could just stop paying and you would be dropped. But it’s not as clear in practice that you would suffer no ill effects like bill collectors or similar.

    18. HR

      Heath insurance is plan specific. We would have no way of knowing when your heath insurance will end. Typically most plans are set up so that health insurance ends on your last day of employment OR on the last day of the month. But you would have to contact your HR department for the answer.

      Again 401k is plan specific. Some companies leave the money in your account until your request otherwise. Other companies will automatically cash out your 401k if it is under X amount if you do not contact them by X date after leaving the company. Again you will need to contact your HR department. You should be able to roll your current 401k over to a new 401k at a new job or you can create an IRA with a financial institution of your choosing. Again this is plan specific. Some companies you go through the HR department some must be done online it just really depends how your employers set it up.

    19. Earthwalker

      My health insurance ran to the end of the month that I left but YMMV. I called the firm that held my 401K and asked them how to roll it to an IRA. It was easy and tax free to roll to an IRA with the same firm and the investment options for IRA are much broader. My next company used the same firm – Fidelity – for 401K, so at the end of my time there, I rolled its 401K into the same IRA I had rolled my old 401K into. That keeps it all the investments in one place and easier to manage.

  5. AnitaJ

    4 months pregnant, 2 months into a new job, and I cannot handle the level of disrespect from my boss. Finding it almost impossible to keep going when I feel demeaned and demoralized every single day. And yet…not a great time to be job hunting, huh?

    Any words of advice or encouragement? Has anyone else been in the same boat?

      1. Natalie

        It certainly doesn’t hurt to look. Worst case scenario you don’t get a new job, which is the exact same outcome as not looking.

      2. Kathleen_A

        My company hired someone who was more than 7 months along when she started here. So yes, it can be done.

      3. Formerly Arlington

        One of my best hires ever was 6 months pregnant and took a 14 week leave. I’d look for sure! Good luck.

    1. LadyMountaineer

      I know lots of women who have switched jobs while pregnant. The new admin at my work said in the interview “luckily pregnancy is like a rash–it goes away.” (This is a hospital, though, so YMMV with that joke. :))

    2. Psyche

      Definitely check out the maternity leave policies where you are applying to avoid any suprises. Some places that have paid maternity leave do not offer paid maternity leave until you have been there one year.

    3. The Rain In Spain

      1. Job hunt anyway

      2. Have you/is it possible to discuss this with your boss? I’d frame it as checking in re how you’re doing in your role and if you’re meeting expectations. That’ll give you the chance to hear if there’s something you need to be doing differently and to bring up examples in a more objective way (eg- last week when I submitted my teapot painting report you seemed dissatisfied, is there something you’d like me to do differently?)

      3. Remind yourself it’s just a job. Care less. It’s difficult but it’s a mindset that can be SO freeing. It really helped me feel less disrespected/undervalued in a past position. Of course there were days it really got to me (in which case grabbing coffee with a close work friend helped me vent that steam!), but for the most part it helped me grin and bear it. I just focused on doing my job well and focusing on other positive things in my life (like your pregnancy! congrats!).

    4. Hellola

      Definitely go ahead and look — I got OldJob (which I loooooooved) when I was 5 months pregnant, and they were great about it. I did not mention the pregnancy during the interview process, but did before I officially accepted the offer and they didn’t even bat an eye, just congratulated me and started telling me about their maternity leave policy.

    5. theletter

      I know someone who was able to find a new job quickly while 5 months pregnant. It was a small step down but they promoted her back up when she returned from maternity leave

    6. mrs__peel

      If you were counting on FMLA coverage, paid maternity leave benefits from your employer, and/or using accrued PTO or vacation time at your present job (etc.) to take maternity leave, I would tread very carefully and find out as much information as you can before you take another job. Different companies have different policies about (e.g.) how long you have to work there to be eligible for maternity leave (if they offer it at all), and FMLA doesn’t apply to some employers. I’d hate to switch jobs and then find out I wasn’t eligible for *any* leave (even unpaid).

      Also, if you currently have health insurance through your employer and are looking to get it through a new employer, I’d be extremely careful about any gaps in coverage that might happen while changing jobs.

  6. Lily in NYC

    I made a random comment in the holiday party thread yesterday about how much I hated working at Sports Illustrated and a few people asked me to come here today and elaborate. My career in publishing began at USNews & World Report, which to this day is the best job I’ve ever had. I was good at it, got promoted three times and loved my coworkers.

    However, it was the early 2000s and print media was in trouble so I was sure I was going to be in the next round of layoffs (I made it through 3 rounds and knew my luck was running out). Sports Illustrated had been trying to poach me but they pay crap and I didn’t want to move to NYC. But I finally accepted the job and moved. I knew on my first day that I had made a huge mistake – it just felt “wrong”. My boss took me aside and started telling me how she can tell who is “saved” within a few minutes and that I needed to attend her church in New Jersey with her on Sunday. I was like WHAT THE HELL??? I must have had the only fundamentalist boss in the history of media in NYC (incredibly liberal field). Even worse, none of the production people who reported to me would give me the time of day – they completely shunned me.

    Someone finally told me that a guy on the production team had been promoted into my role and couldn’t hack it so he got demoted back to his old job and they hired me. So he and his friends hated me and refused to talk to me (they did the work, but grudgingly). It was also clear that the other two young female managers were mad because they wanted their buddy at Sports Illustrated for Women (short lived title) to get the job instead of me. So they shunned me as well. It was awful because they truly acted like mean-girls and it was the first bullying experience in my life. They lied to the fundamentalist boss about me and said things like that I rolled my eyes at her (total BS but they kissed her butt and went to her stupid church with her so she loved them). I got written up for saying “wow, Terry (the top boss of SI at the time) is in a bad mood” after he had screamed at my supervisor in a meeting. Seriously, I got called into a closed door meeting and written up for saying it – Terry ended up finding out and made them back off (he actually liked me). I hated every minute of that job and the only person who was nice to me was a manager who had gotten demoted for having an affair and was also being shunned.

    I am a normal and friendly person who has always been very well-liked at my jobs so this was just so foreign and traumatizing for me. I started looking for a new job after four months. Right after I started looking, Sports Illustrated for Women got shut down and they fired me to give their friend the job (the one they wanted in the first place). They knew they were screwing me over because I got 6 months’ severance for a job that lasted 5 months. Time Warner Inc. is a strange company (parent company). I have friends at People and In Style and the hierarchy is awful and unlike any other media company. I felt like they wanted me to be a Stepford Wife. Whew, that was long. The End.

    1. fposte

      This sounds really horrible, Lily, but it’s also fascinating to hear about (I did not see fundamentalist boss coming). I’m glad you’re on to better things.

    2. publishing anon

      This is how I felt about Conde Nast, and then again at Random House. National Geographic was the first job I had and it was pretty good and normal for the industry. It had its quirks, but it was nothing like the bullying and BS I endured at Conde Nast and Random House. I made the switch to academic publishing after, and there was less bullying, but it was a weirder environment.

      I left publishing recently and I honestly do not regret leaving the industry. It was the worst. I feel bad for my friends who are still in it and miserable. I know a few people who work at In Style, and they really hate their jobs.

      1. Horizon Walker Ranger

        In what ways would you say academic publishing is weird in your experience? I’ve worked for a society journal for 3 years in a city without much publishing, so I’m always curious to hear what it’s like elsewhere.

        1. publishing anon

          I found it to be a lot of very socially awkward people who didn’t want to converse with anyone or work with anyone but themselves, and just wanted to stay in their own bubbles. Which is hard when you’re supposed to be collaborative and it’s like pulling teeth just to get people to communicate.

          There was a lot of “this is how I act and anyone who doesn’t like these things is wrong and weird”. In the last company I worked at, the marketing department had quarterly lunches at a nice restaurant and lot of the people I worked with acted like the marketing department were anathema just because they wanted to go out to lunch with their colleagues. I literally heard people say that anyone who didn’t eat by themselves at their desk was “unusual”. People would get annoyed if you asked “how’s it going?” when passing in the hall or when you were both in the kitchen getting coffee.

          There were also a lot of people who were very, very bitter that they were working in academic publishing and not trade publishing.

          It was such an opposite environment from the other publishing companies I worked with, and honestly introverted to the extreme. It was exhausting.

          1. Liet-Kinda

            “There was a lot of “this is how I act and anyone who doesn’t like these things is wrong and weird””.

            That sounds familiar, posting here.

            1. Jen RO

              What, you mean some people actually enjoy getting to know their coworkers as people and don’t hate socializing? Nowai!

          2. Not Paul Hollywood

            “People would get annoyed if you asked “how’s it going?” when passing in the hall or when you were both in the kitchen getting coffee.”

            Do I need to go work in academic publishing? I also get annoyed by this.

          3. Lissa

            Oh that’s funny. I feel like there are several commenters here who would love that environment! I’d find it as exhausting as the opposite after a time I think, but I am boringly moderate. And also never turn down food.

            1. publishing anon

              Yeah, I’m sure there’ll be a bunch of people who think this is a great environment. I don’t need to talk to people every minute of the day, but to have people snap at you merely for saying good morning is a not worth dealing with imo.

          4. Another Publishing Anon

            I also worked in academic publishing for a while. I had a similar experience, though maybe more positive. The culture was similar – people very much kept to themselves. Communication was very formal. People would get offended if your emails weren’t polite enough.

            Most of the people I worked with were nice, but there were some very socially awkward, bitter people on power trips and those people always got promoted for some reason.

            I’m a purple squirrel. I have one of those rare jobs where there’s one per office and no one understands what you do. So I got to see a lot while mostly staying out of it. My job was pretty peaceful and sheltered from the less pleasant stuff. Overall, it was a good job.

            But, yeah, there was that uniquely formal communication style and it was considered unusual to talk to people. Very, “Stay quiet and don’t rock the boat.” But I had my own office and the hours were very reasonable. I had good bosses. It was mostly pretty good.

          5. Jess

            I work in academia as well (but in a more patron-service position) and yeah, I hate it. I’m introverted myself, but trying to avoid communicating with anyone ever is not how things get accomplished. The number of honest-to-god adults that seem to think otherwise, though…

            1. publishing anon

              Yes. I’m somewhere between extroverted and introverted, but academic publishing forced me to be more extroverted because it was such an extreme introversion that I needed to actually force people into conversations otherwise I’d never know what was going on because no one wanted to talk about anything – no chats, no emails, no meetings, no conversations.

              I understand being introverted, but honestly, expecting no communication at all for eight hours a day, five days a week is exhausting. It’s a miserable way to work.

          6. Horizon Walker Ranger

            Okay, yeah that seems to jive pretty well with my experience. I like to quietly do my own thing in my own space so it suits me well and I like that the authors and editors I work with rarely pick up the phone to call me. My department and the rest of my org is generally social so it’s a good balance.

      2. annakarina1

        I wanted to work in publishing as an undergrad in the mid-2000s, but despite that I enjoyed writing, I found I didn’t like the publishing environment as much. I interned for Good Housekeeping and found the editors to be snobs who saw their readers to be simple-minded Midwestern housewives while they worked in a fancy Hearst building in Manhattan. I also had bad times in editorial at a film magazine that thought they were outside the mainstream Hollywood scene, but still had an elitist attitude about who was “hip” enough to be in their circle and sucked up to Hollywood-adjacent directors and actors. I switched to working to artsy nonprofits, then found my real career in archives.

        1. publishing anon

          Oh, yes, the elitism was awful. There was a different type of elitism at Conde Nast than Random House, but I feel like publishing just has this thread of elitism running through it. Even academic publishing had it.

      3. anon for this one

        Do you mind if I ask how you managed to transition out of publishing? I’m thinking of doing so myself but am having trouble envisioning where I’d be able to move without having to go back to an entry level job/salary.

        1. publishing anon

          I transferred my print editorial job to digital editorial when I was still in the industry, and when I moved to academic publishing, I went for a digital project management job. This helped me get a job outside the industry because it’s a pretty easy skill to transfer.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      Wow. I’m so sorry you had to go through so much crap. I hope your following job was less weird.

    4. MissDisplaced

      “I must have had the only fundamentalist boss in the history of media in NYC”

      OMG! LOL! Long term magazine and B2B publishing alum here and yes that’s odd.
      I guess your experience wasn’t like the movie with Dennis Quaid (In Good Company).

      Magazine publishing has become extremely difficult and I also left it in the mid-2000’s.

  7. WellRed

    When are we going to stop seeing phrases like “work bitch” used like it’s…OK? This isn’t a criticism of this morning’s LW, but that, along with the usual “I don’t see anything sexist” here comments just really irked me today.

    1. kittymommy

      I didn’t comment in that thread but when someone says OP in a response, I think of the original poster in the comment thread, not the actual writer of the letter (and the letter being commented on). So when the response didn’t see anything sexist to the OP it was regarding the story in the comment, which if I recall didn’t have anything sexist mentioned in it (though it might have been, it just wasn’t in there).

      Just my interpretation.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      Argh. A couple years ago we got an application for an opening for a Shop Assistant. And some unfunny jackhole filled out an app, under the “what position are you applying for” section he wrote “Shop Bitch”.

      Considering the low bar we had for hiring, we still disregarded him as an option.

      Tangent aside, I too am ready for that kind of crappy attitude and wording to be extinct.

    3. LW1

      LW from this morning here. I do think that “work bitch” is sexist and offensive, which is why I included it in my letter. Even if he didn’t mean it in a sexist way (as others argued), the word is inherently sexist, and using it to describe a position historically held by women makes it impossible to ignore the connotations. I think my friend has some entitlement issues in general that prevent him from taking the role seriously.

      1. WellRed

        I agree, LW. Many people don’t think of it as overtly sexist but it is. Good luck with your friend.

      2. Dust Bunny

        Of course it is–the whole purpose of using the word is that it implies that a man is subservient, “as a woman should be”. I cannot think of a single instance I’ve ever seen in which, when used in this kind of context, it wasn’t sexist. It’s just so normalized that if people don’t use it with “I’m trying to emasculate this guy” on their minds, they don’t notice it right away.

      3. strawberries and raspberries

        Your friend’s behavior from your description reeked of toxic masculinity, but also of performance anxiety. He reminds me of some guys I’ve known in the past who internalize these (often culture-bound) family screeds about YOU’RE GOING TO BE A DOCTOR BECAUSE MEN ARE DOCTORS, and they’re pushed tremendously to be academically successful but not necessarily given any coaching on actual people skills or building self-worth. Then when they don’t really want to be a doctor or they get anxious or start to doubt themselves, they can’t tell anyone and have no outlet for it, so they do self-sabotaging things like watch TV in secret all day at their lab-based job while doubling down on the MEN ARE DOCTORS theme with everyone else in their life.

        All this to say that your friend sounds hella entitled, for sure, but inside he’s probably not feeling as cocky as he wants everyone to believe.

    4. Yay commenting on AAM!

      I did post this in the thread over there, but I think the term “work bitch” is used as a comparison to “prison bitch”, ex: a low-ranked weakling who has to submit to everything the more powerful people want, up to and including being sexually violated.

      1. ThankYouRoman

        And they’re equating the Weak Man to a degraded woman who’s there to cook clean and satisfy.

        1. RUKiddingMe

          Of course it is because the person normally being violated will be a woman. In prison they have to make do by turning some male into as close as they can get to a woman.

    5. mollie

      Terrible Confession time:
      I was interviewing for an Office Manager position with a plumbing firm and I actually, Proudly, told the recruiter that I was the office bitch at my current position.

      I worked in a 3 person office of a manufacturing plant – Male Manager, Male sales person, and myself who did anything required from assigning work, sales/reception, admin work to springing the manager’s dogs from the pound when the gas man left the back gate open and dropping his kids off at school. When I used the term in the interview, I meant it to reflect that I was firm, no-nonsense, kept the office and the manufacturing teams in line and I was the one to make sure that policies, best practices, and deadlines were adhered too. The manager wasn’t very organized and also hated the daily tasks of Supervising so left that to me. He generally settled complaints from the manufacturing plant with “Why are you in here? Do what she said” And the whole group just started calling me the office bitch. This was my first full time, permanent role and the only thing I knew about manufacturing plants was the crap you see on TV so I didn’t think anything of it and wore the name as a badge of pride that I was doing my job. I cringe and am embarrassed now but it took me way to long to figure out why I wasn’t contacted after the interview.

      1. ThankYouRoman

        I’m horrified that you were treated like this. I’m a career Accountant/Controller/Ops/Business/Office Manager in manufacturing and it hurts to see such a crappy stereotype situation spoken about.

        I’m glad you know it’s not right after you’re removed from the unsavory setup. That’s not the norm or generally acceptable behavior in a properly ran facility.

    6. Anon Office Dog

      I admit I used this term in relation to situations I’ve found myself and my teammates in occasionally, when we would find ourselves being bossed around by people we were not reporting to (in a most recent case an outside contractor company), who would expect us to be at their beck and call and to drop everything anytime they’d send us a question or a request.

      I now see that the term is sexist and homophobic (the “prison” part), and don’t want to use it anymore. But what do I use instead? what do you call being pushed around by random coworkers? “team player”?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Ha. For me “treated like mushrooms” means the employer keeps you in the dark and feeds you BS.

          (I may have issues with my company, but for the most part they have avoided THIS particular sin.)

      1. Autumnheart

        I’d say something like, “They act like I’m their personal assistant.” The position of personal assistant does formally exist, but the context makes it clear that such a position doesn’t exist in your hierarchy, and even if it did, you’re not in it.

      2. Drop Bear

        I have an employee who said he was treated at his last job like a ‘service droid’. We all knew what he meant.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        Tweak the phrase you used: “the company overlooked the way co-workers would push around the newest* employees.”
        (*Or female or black or the one from out of town or …)

      4. RUKiddingMe

        Anything else that’s not sexist/gendered. You gotta find what works for you.

        I have been on a personal mission to eradicate the B, C, W, et al words from use…particularly my own got a while now.

        It takes conscious effort, every single time, but oh about five years on now I am pretty much cured from the social conditioning that taught me that they were not only ok, but desirable even.

        Also…Husband doesn’t use them anymore either. I made a convert!

        You can do it!

      5. Grinch

        I thought about this and came up with:
        office gopher
        underling
        henchmen (tongue-in-cheek)
        lowly ~~

        For less of an evil-villain vibe:
        newbie
        junior rank/member
        freshman
        code monkey
        I just do the grunt work

        But as problematic as the term is, it’s hard to find a good replacement that combines the nature of the relationship (doing drudge work that higher-ups don’t want to do) and how you feel about it (strongly resentful yet resigned).

      6. SavannahMiranda

        I always heard “chief cook and bottle washer.” In other words, the do-everything person who is supposed to superhumanly span duties ranging from leadership decision making and high-intensity, high-responsibility even supervisory tasks, all the way down to collating, coffee fetching, and general runner when someone says “jump.”

        Impossible of course, and built into the words as they describe it. “Joe at Acme Client expects me to be his chief cook and bottle washer but I can’t meet all his unreasonable demands.”

  8. Wannabe Disney Princess

    You guys.

    I HAVE A NEW JOB!!!!!

    Better salary, better (and cheaper for me!) insurance. Plus….my commute is cut in half.

    I am so excited, I can’t stand it.

    1. Emily S.

      So excited for you! Congratulations x1000!
      That is so awesome about the pay and commute, and everything. I know it took a very long time.

      Woohoo! Awesome way to start the weekend!

  9. Shark Whisperer

    We are getting into review season at my company. My manager sent out emails asking if we have any feedback for our colleagues. I am not sure what to put for one particular co-worker. Full disclosure: I have only been at this job for about 3 months.

    There is one peer who’s work most closely overlaps with mine. Overall she has been fantastic about training me and answering all of my questions as I learn the ropes. But our manager also asked for things our co-workers can work on. I’m not sure if her weakness is something I should mention or not.

    She takes everythings super personally and always assumes bad intentions. Here are some examples:
    – She hates the chief of staff and thinks he’s a jerk who thinks she’s stupid because she asked him what a term meant in a meeting and he defined it for her (in my opinion, his tone was matter of fact, not condiscending)
    -There are multiple (equally valid, management approved)processes for lots of things we do here, when I don’t do something the exact way she would have done it, she just assumes that I haven’t done it at all
    -We presented together at the end of an all day meeting and people were kinda checked out (because it was an all day meeting and about half the staff had flown in from the opposite coast the day before), she believes this indicates that no one on the team respects her and is still angry about it a month later
    -Our director was out on maternity leave when I was hired. This coworker freaked me out by making me believe that the director was some sort of monster who hates everyone and doesn’t care about her employees. Well, she’s back now and is actually lovely to work for (at least for the last 2 months she has been back)

    Since I haven’t been here that long and I work more closely with her than anyone else, I am not sure how much other people are aware or how it really affects how she deals with people. Should I say something or not say something?

    1. Beehoppy

      YMMV, but if you’ve only been there 3 months I might hold off. There may be a lot of dynamics in play that you’re just not aware of yet. At my last job I was drinking the KoolAid for the first 6-8 months and strongly disliked a coworker I thought had a bad attitude. Came to find out once the Koolaid wore off that she was right about a lot of things and had a bad attitude from putting up with their crap for ten years. Sit back and observe a little longer.

    2. Psyche

      I probably wouldn’t give this feedback for the review. I would want to wait and see how coworker feedback gets incorporated into the reviews and how it is delivered. However, you can talk to your manager about some of the problems and ask for advice about how to handle it. In particular, I would probably mention the part where you say that if you do not do something the exact way she would have done she assumes you didn’t do it. You can phrase it as wanting to have better communication, but you don’t want her to be telling your boss that you aren’t doing tasks when that is not true.

      1. Bostonian

        I agree that a review is not the place to provide this feedback. I would even hesitate to tell your (shared?) manager at this point.

        Are you close enough to the coworker that you can get a better feel for what’s going on? Like, go out together and grab a coffee and say something like, “you seem unhappy about X, what’s going on?”

        1. Shark Whisperer

          It is our shared manager. I have talked to her directly before. It’s not that she seems unhappy overall, she just takes every perceived slight as an insult. She is kin of aware that she does this, but she doesn’t seem to think it affects her work relationships in any way, and maybe it doesn’t! I’m too new to know, but it definitely seems like something that could.

          1. valentine

            It’s affected her relationship with you, including reducing the weight you put on her perspective. You can dial back on being the audience for her extreme negativity and (outside the feedback) ask your manager about the exact-process issue.

    3. ThankYouRoman

      I agree with Beehoppy to sit back a bit.

      She may have a chip on her shoulder for very real reason! She may not, my Negative Nancy chipped AF coworker ended up being just miserable by her own hand. But prior my psycho boss took time to snap on people. I wasn’t warned. I quit and my team then ran to me all “arrrrgh he did it to you too, this is his MO.”

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      Well, one question to ask is whether or not your feedback will be anonymous, and the other question for you is how much you trust your boss to take your feedback as constructive, well meant criticism versus thinking you’re a negative person and looking at you differently because of it.

      So. Assuming your boss will be appreciative of well thought out constructive feedback and that it will be kept anonymous, I don’t see anything wrong with providing feedback that you think will be truly useful for someone. And always make sure to sing her praises if you do think she’s great but just has some things to work on. It’s too often that people harp on the negative and don’t give the positive as well (and can make you look just like them for focusing on the negative). So, something like “Lucinda has been extremely helpful, always being willing to support me and answer my questions. She’s awesome at blah blah blah. One area that she may benefit from improvement in is a more trusting attitude towards her coworker. It appears that at times she interprets people’s tones as negative when they are meant to be helpful or lack of people’s enthusiasm as an indicator that they aren’t supportive.” Something like that.

      I would leave out the piece about your director entirely, because feedback of “she trashed our director behind her back” is not actually a constructive area to work on, but does kind of roll into the “trusting attitude” idea.

    5. samiratou

      How’s your boss?

      If your boss is the type to turn right around to Jane and and say “Shark says…” and repeat verbatim what you told her, then I wouldn’t say anything.

      If your boss is pretty well tuned-in and a good boss overall, your boss shouldn’t be surprised to hear some of these things and should be able to take the feedback to Jane in a way that doesn’t throw you under the bus. I’m not sure, as a boss, how I would have the “ya know, it’s not always about you.” conversation but that’s why she’s the boss.

    6. Elaine

      Some places are sincere about asking for feedback and others are not. If I were in your situation only 3 months in, I would err on the side of caution and say nothing. By the next round of reviews, you will have a good idea of how your organization actually does handle this kind of thing.

    7. MissDisplaced

      At 3 months, I would not get into her attitude. Speak to what you can speak to in hard facts about her work, such has how she has been at training you, if she did her part of the shared project/presentation, etc.

      Perhaps she does have a crappy hamper attitude, but it’s not your place (at least right now) for you to address it.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Agreed. Three months is too soon. Put down the positives that you mention here and let the rest go. She probably has one foot out the door, as a newbie you can lighten your load 9 and hers) by not ticking her off, it’s a short trip for her anyway.
        It can take a year or several years for a new person to fully understand what the long term employee is complaining about. Assume they know about her attitude but she does enough for the company that they have decided to keep her.
        Float over the top of all this, don’t get sucked in. That looks like, “Yes, problem X is happening, but it does not impact me and here is why: I am new, she is doing a good job training me, we work well together, etc.” (One of my pet things to do is use an attitude of gratitude with anyone who gives me good training.)

    8. Shark Whisperer

      Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I shall focus on the positives in any feedback I give.

  10. Detective Amy Santiago

    Had an amazing six month review today! So happy with my new job.

    Wannabe Disney Princess – any updates on your job search?

    1. ThankYouRoman

      Wonderful 6 month reviews give me fuzzy feels. I remember mine, it ate at me leading up with the toxic baggage from before floating in my head and then getting the whole “you’re great, you’re even more awesome than we had hoped, etc etc.” was truly thrilling.

    2. Sally

      :) Wannabe Disney Princess posted at the same time as you saying that she has a new job. :) It’s just a little up the page.

  11. breathing into paper bag

    I just gotta say that this employee I’m trying to manage is as toxic an individual as I’ve ever been unable to distance myself from and it’s really starting to take a toll on me. I’ve never managed anyone until now, and it’s like someone just hot-potatoed this situation to me, and I have literally nobody to toss to, and I’m having an extremely hard time not feeling extremely resentful of my boss, who gave employee a glowing performance review despite knowing the copious issues.

    1. fposte

      How long has the employee been there? What would happen if you made a case for termination and replacement?

      1. breathing into paper bag

        Four years, and literally everyone knows this person is unproductive and not only unhelpful but hostile to colleagues. I’ve gotten the ball rolling on the termination process but it’s completely new to me and now that my boss agrees that this employee needs out, I’m getting pressure to get it done now-now-now. Which, like, I don’t know how to do that appropriately and I’ve never negotiated this kind of situation before, and I’m following HR’s advice to the letter, but in the meantime I’m trying to manage someone who is trying to wage psychological warfare. Not very effectively, but still.

        1. Mephyle

          If you’re getting pressure to get it done faster, then is it possible to leverage this to ask for an increased level of guidance from the source of the pressure as to how to do it faster?

    2. neverjaunty

      Can you sit down with boss and ask about the performance review? I mean are they old frat buddies or what?

      1. breathing into paper bag

        Nah, not old frat buddies – boss is a very generous, gentle person, which is wonderful but in this case it screwed me over severely. I haven’t asked directly about the performance review but if I get another question about “when can we move on Employee, what’s taking so long” I might just snap and tell him it could’ve been done weeks ago if he hadn’t built a body of documentation saying everything was awesome.

        1. ThankYouRoman

          LOUD NOISES.

          My God. This is why the rubber stamped polished nicey nicey reviews are terrible and will circle around to bite someone’s backside. I’m so sorry.

          I’m relieved termination is on the table at least. Try to focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. You will be able to have a better conversation AFTER the toxic employee is gone about how reviews can’t be so gentle and fake.

            1. ThankYouRoman

              That’s because you’re a good person who wants to improve if necessary!

              Sadly many people in management are too afraid of confronting an issue, they ignore it and say you’re great. Even though in this situation the employee is wretched.

              An HR nightmare. And now their UI rates will increase because they didn’t document and try to fix the performance issues. Ick.

        2. neverjaunty

          Don’t you think it’s interesting that Boss was “nice” to this employee but not at all nice to you?

          Rather than wait for him to snap, maybe sit down with him and explain (as calmly as you can manage) why this was a problem?

        3. Marthooh

          Ugh. Figure out a professional way of saying “Your phony performance review is screwing everything up, dude, so don’t blame me” and practice saying that into a mirror until you can do it with a straight face, at normal volume.

          “Unfortunately, it will take time to build up enough documentation of poor performance to counterbalance the flopping nonsense their FORMER MANGER SAW FIT TO FOIST UPON THIS COMPANY! Er, that is to say, the overenthusiastic reviews they were given previously.”

          Gaw, that’s annoying.

    3. LKW

      I know a couple of people who’ve been in similar shoes. Their predecessors gave reviews that would enable poor performers to transfer, had they given them the deserved review, they’d be prevented from doing so. However, the poor performers don’t transfer. They never transfer.

      What kinds of psych warfare – we might be able to give some good coping techniques. Plus, some of us are rather evil. OK, it’s me. I am rather evil.

    4. Not So Super-visor

      oh! I have one of those employees too!! She’s a nightmare. I dread every one-on-one meeting that I have with her because she can’t take criticism, and I end up in HR because she files a complaint unless I do nothing but compliment her. Her stats are high but her customer relationship skills are terrible. My boss loves her stats and has prevented her from being terminated even after some super-shady stuff went down. I’m also really resentful of my boss, but I keep plugging away. I end up documenting every interaction that I have with her no matter how minor in case she goes to HR (and she has about some really petty stuff)

  12. Toosensitive?

    A new twist in the messy work kitchen conundrum. Someone put up a cute photo of their baby over the sink, with funny caption and disapproving look. A few days ago photo #2 appeared alongside photo 1 with a “great that the kitchen is cleaner!” One of my direct reports–who is struggling with infertility– mentioned that this is painful during supervision. She added that she didn’t want to make trouble, and she doesn’t want to be outed to HR but … Advice, dear commentariat?

    1. MechanicalPencil

      If you’re wanting to achieve that cutesy messaging, you can do the same with puppies and kittens. Babies down, animals up. Less offensive all around. If someone asks what happened to the baby photos, “oh, I accidentally soaked them when I was cleaning”.

      1. Toosensitive?

        neither of the C levels has pets and they adore babies. That might be a hard sell. But I thought of that!

      2. ThankYouRoman

        Cartoons. Not pictures of anything real if you want to really crack down on the toes being stepped on.

        You’re setting up for “my cat just died and looks exactly like that pic of Francine’s that is posted!!”

      3. Holly

        What if someone’s dog or cat died recently? That could offend someone too. (My point being, I don’t think there’s action that can be taken here.)

        1. Anon Anon Anon

          Yeah, pretty much everything could offend someone, but not putting personal family photos in shared spaces seems like a good idea. It might be different if it was a generic greeting card baby.

    2. AnonAnon

      Does your report want you to take any action, or did she just want to share with you something that’s going on with her? (Does she, for example, want you to take down the signs, or give a heads up to the folks who put them up that they may not be well-received by all?)

      If she’s asking you to take action: As a woman who is also struggling with infertility (2 years, yay)… I don’t think that’s reasonable. Other people have children, and are allowed to share funny pictures of them. I shouldn’t expect other people to delicately step around the topic of children just because I’m not currently able to get pregnant. It sounds like the picture feels really personal to her — yet another reminder of something she’s really sad about — but it’s not.

      1. anon today and tomorrow

        There’s nothing wrong with sharing pictures of your kids in your own space at work, but I’d be annoyed if it suddenly started being okay for people to post baby pictures in the cafeteria or on the break room fridge or in other work common spaces. That’s just weird to me, to be honest.

        1. Rusty Shackelford

          Yeah, whether or not you’re struggling, I think pictures of other peoples’ kids in public space is annoying, and an overstep on their part.

          1. AnonAnon

            Wow, I really think you (and others) are overreacting. And I say this as very much not a kid person (who is nonetheless trying to get pregnant; we contain multitudes).

            Putting up a picture as a part of a snarky/joking reminder to clean the dishes is, at worst, a 15-second eyeroll (“Surprise surprise, Damon found a way to insert the baby into the conversation again”).

            1. Anon for this One

              I disagree. Some people (myself) would just roll their eyes this if it was around for a day or two, but to have to see it every time I went into the lunch room? I personally think babies are a bit uncomfortable to look at, and I’d definitely stop using the lunch room if I had to look at them every day. Ick.

              I couldn’t imagine how painful this would be for someone who was trying to conceive.

              1. Anon Anon Anon

                I would be annoyed that someone was sort of dominating the space. Especially if it was a more senior person or even someone on a path to become more senior. It’s kind of like saying, “This is part of my office and you have to look at my stuff while you’re here.”

            2. anon today and tomorrow

              I don’t really think my annoyance at seeing a picture of someone’s kid in a public space where there aren’t usually personal pictures is overreacting.

              People don’t randomly put pictures of their kids or pets or hobbies up in common spaces without expecting someone to comment on it. If the coworker put up a picture of their kid in a public space, it’s intended for people to react to the picture, and a lot of people are going to be put off by that the same way they’d be put off by someone shoving the picture in their face during a conversation and expecting a response. There’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.

              1. AnonAnon

                I could understand your annoyance if someone were, like, decorating the common office spaces with pictures of their kids (but still: that would fall into the category of weird-but-whatever colleague habits, like how Amy says “Howdy howdy!” instead of “Hello” or whatever). But this person just… used a picture of their kid as a meme. The point of the picture wasn’t “All ye who enter, admire my offspring” but “C’mon, folks, do the damn dishes.”

              2. Jule

                “If the coworker put up a picture of their kid in a public space, it’s intended for people to react to the picture”

                This is reading so much into something that doesn’t exist. The point of the picture was to soften a request that people clean up their trash in the kitchen. In no way does that resemble “shoving” a picture in someone’s face.

                1. anon today and tomorrow

                  The whole point of pictures is to get a reaction, even if that reaction is “look at this picture to know to throw away your trash”. I never said it resembles shoving a picture in someone’s face, just that some people will be annoyed with it the same way they’d be annoyed by someone shoving a picture in their face.

      2. TGIF

        I’m with you. I come from a family with infertility issues, so I know it can be a struggle, but no baby pictures seems like a weird ask.

        In my office, it is normal for a mom out on maternity leave to send a photo of the new baby with the reassurance that everyone is happy and healthy. In my department, we send an email around with the photo. Another department printed the photo and taped it to their shared fridge, which stayed up for at least a month.

        I’m sure there are women in the office who struggle with this but you can’t ban all baby photos and news from the public space. That seems way too drastic.

      3. Lissa

        Yeah…. Coming at it from the opposite place, I’m not in any way a baby person, but I think that it’s not particularly weird to put it up and like…I don’t know, if you’re going to say someone shouldn’t have a baby picture up, I really think the same rules need to apply to people’s pets or other hobbies. It’s also kind of a read the room thing. An amusing picture would go over just fine in a lot of places I work, not at all in others.

        I think that there can be a skew towards “ew babies yay cats” on the internet and even though like…that is actually my personal feelings, it isn’t really a reasonable position to take as a policy. So I think no pictures at all if there’s going to be an official policy.

    3. Celeste

      Do you know who put up the baby photo? I would take it down and return it to them (so they don’t get offended that someone threw away their baby’s picture). Say it’s not the look we want for the kitchen, and we prefer to be sensitive in the event of staff who may be dealing with fertility problems.

      1. Doc in a Box

        +1

        I think the fact that it’s another coworker’s child, not Random Meme Baby, that makes it hard to address. It does feel weird and overstepping to throw away a photo of someone’s kid, even if they put it up in a jokey manner.

        They might not be aware of how painful it is for people who are childless not by choice. The person with infertility now has to stare at a cute baby when they just want to wash their dishes and get back to work. I’d hope that their response to this would be “oh gosh, i don’t want to cause pain to anyone!” and not “nyah nyah it’s my right to put my kid’s photo wherever I choose”

    4. Rose Tyler

      I would probably just take them down and discard. Neither the photo with funny caption or secondary comment seem like things that the original poster would have intended to remain up for a long time. If something gets reposted then I’d say something to my boss or office manager about being sensitive to people experiencing infertility.

      1. Holly

        Do you not think that this is an odd thing to do? I personally would not throw away a picture of someone’s child.

        1. anon today and tomorrow

          For me, it really depends on the type of picture. If it’s a physical picture on photo paper, it would feel weird. If it’s a picture that was printed out on computer paper, I’d have no problem with it.

        2. Rose Tyler

          Agree with Anon – I was assuming someone made a copy on the office machine. If it’s a ‘real’ photo I’d return it to the parent.

    5. Holly

      I think you have to find a way to make sure your report feels heard and supported, but at the same time acknowledge that it’s not reasonable to ask the entire office not to mention babies or children, including posting photos… I worry this could be a slippery slope because people can always be going through things that make it difficult to hear about family/pets/etc but it’s such a standard part of office life and life in general, you can’t really ask people to suppress it. Maybe reassure the employee that you care about her struggles and refer to any and all resources your office has?

      1. Rose Tyler

        My last post in this thread – I think this is different since it’s being posted in the break room/common space. I’m not suggesting policing what people have in their own offices, and would only intervene in what people discuss w/coworkers if it got truly out of hand with wall-to-wall baby talk.

        1. Holly

          I agree if something truly got out of hand, it’s worth addressing – nothing in OP’s comment made it seem like anything got out of hand. Someone put up a picture of a baby. I am really really sympathetic to the report in this situation, but you can’t erase babies from existing.

    6. AtheistReader

      Hmm. This is complicated, because I think it would be difficult to bring up infertility without it bringing up questions of who’s infertile. It’s going to happen – if you say, “This could offend people with infertility issues”, people are going to realize that is a specific person in the office – and your report might not be okay with that. Even if people don’t talk about it, people will wonder. Regardless of whether or not it’s reasonable to take down pictures due to her infertility, I am certain that NOT everyone in your office would be supportive of that reason. Almost certainly someone would not think it’s reasonable, and that could be a mess. It seems avoiding the actual cause is best for everyone involved.

      Instead, I would return the picture and put up an actual sign about cleaning the kitchen – so it can be put forward as “we’re actually concerned about cleaning the kitchen”, even if it’s another humorous sign.

      1. Kuododi

        Throwing in my humble opinion…..Cancer made biological parenting an impossiblity for DH and myself years ago. It’s not a state secret but . not something I’ve advertised at my places of employment bc frankly it’s noones business. I have seen plenty of pictures of colleagues new babies, grandbabies, etc and at most, if I was having a rough day about my infertility I might give the picture a quick internal eyeroll. It’s impossible to make certain that everyone’s particular issues and sensitivities can be addressed at any given time. Frankly, Id be angry if I found out someone was trying to manage my feelings about children by purging the room of pictures bc someone “might” be offended. If one is concerned about my feelings, ask me what I need!!! Hope this makes sense and helps. Best regards.

        1. Dragoning

          Well, in this case, the report DID bring up that they found it upsetting, so….well…this example doesn’t apply well.

        2. AtheistReader

          I agree, I don’t think it’s fair to assume anything. But frankly, her situation is not the same as yours – she brought it up to her manager, she clearly does not the feel the same way you do, and there’s no harm in trying to help her feel better at work. There’s nothing wrong with how either of you feel, but your feelings are different than OPs report, and therefore not really applicable to the situation.

    7. Not So NewReader

      Ummm. I have a hard time with this issues where someone tells me something is upsetting them and then their solution seems to be do not tell anyone.

      Because it is an infertility issue, it just makes sense that as a boss you would want to do something/anything. But sometimes as a boss there is nothing we can do.

      I think as gently as possible I would say, “I really don’t know what to do here. I value your work and I think a lot of you as a person. This means if you are upset, I am concerned. If you have any ideas on what we can do here to ease this please let me know and I will think on it also.” Be sure to let her know that you are thinking on it.

      Your solution may be to move the pictures to one side. You could say you were worried about them getting splashed by water so close to the sink. I think if the pictures were off to one side, she could chose not to look at them. However, she has to use the sink and therefore she feels stuck looking at these pictures. If they are off to the side, away from the water source, the pics would remain dry and she could more easily chose to look away.

      Every so often one of my subordinates would bring me a head scratching problem and then compound it by saying, “Don’t tell anyone.” I finally drew my line, “If you are not ready for me to tell someone, then you need to think things through a little further before you bring me the problem. One thing you can think about is what types of solutions do you want me to consider.” Notice they don’t have to find The Solution but they do have to begin to trouble shoot the issue. This actually went really well, they would come up with several ideas and we would be able to work out a little plan.

      Now. You can’t make this statement right now because of this situation. So allow time to pass and then announce this. And you can say it in the context of, “Because I do care, it’s my nature to start trying to solve things. But I need to you help me along by tossing some ideas around with me.” I think part of why this went well is that the underlying message was, “I take your concerns seriously and I will help you.”

    8. Toosensitive?

      Chiming in to thank everybody. These are blown up photos on copy paper about 6×9 and they are right over the sink. I admit when photo #2 went up I thought of putting up a pet photo. I’ll update next week!

      1. Lissa

        I wonder if she might be less upset it was a collection of photos of different things – if babies are OK cats are too! (going by my prior comment of if a rule against baby photos, no cat photos either). In that case maybe your pet photo would be good!

      2. valentine

        Why do you have to sell it? Your report is in pain you can reduce it by returning the photos and telling the parent to keep same in their own workspace. (Also: maybe no more signs because this could end up a passiveaggressivenotes pileup.)

      3. Windchime

        We have someone at my workplace who posts passive aggressive notes about people putting items in the recycling bin without cleaning them to the note-poster’s satisfaction. I am one of the first to arrive at work in the morning, and if I’m feeling particularly cranky I will yank the notes down and toss them. I would probably remove the cute* baby pictures and replace them with a more neutral sign about cleaning dishes.

        *I’m picturing a photo of a smiling baby covered in spaghetti sauce. I don’t know why parents think those are cute, but I can’t stand those types of pictures and would absolutely yank that down. I like babies and I like pictures of babies, but the spaghetti-sauce pics gross me out.

  13. ExcelJedi

    With daylight savings, this week has been SO HARD. SAD is creeping up on me, and I’m trying to stay ahead of it despite not having access to any sunlight at work.

    No specific advice needed, but a thread for commiseration & general strategies would be nice.

    1. BeanCat

      Ugh, I feel this so hard and I’m really sorry. It’s a rough season :(

      If you’re not able to get outside at all during the day, could you potentially get one of those little lamps or a light box specialized for SAD?

      Otherwise I’d try to have something green on my area – I might get a poinsettia once we hit December, for example.

      Solidarity jedi hugs if you want them!

      1. ExcelJedi

        Jedi hugs are appreciated!

        I’ve been taking lunchtime walks, and it’s usually enough to help me. This year I might get a few plants, too. Fortunately my current job is in a nice area, so I’ll be able to take walks almost all winter.

        1. Gumby

          Not sure if shorter more frequent walks would be helpful (from a time-management or ‘more doses of sunlight throughout the day’ perspective) but it’s another option. I have low vitamin D (because I burn easily and would avoid the sun even if I didn’t work entirely indoors) and set up reminders every 2 hours to go take a 5-minute walk. Which I, admittedly, ignore about 50% of the time. Sigh. And today you couldn’t pay me enough to go out and walk in the brown air around here – the Camp fire is doing a number on air quality.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            I have friends in Denmark. They suggest getting early in the morning for at least 10 minutes –no windows or glasses between you & the upcoming sunbeams. This is in addition to a longer stretch when it’s warmer & brighter.
            For me I’m finding that it’s helping to have lots of plants under bright LED lights and take the time to tend them

    2. Beehoppy

      The struggle is real. I thought it would be easier this year since I’m working from home and not driving home in darkness, but no luck. I’m not sure if it would work for you, but are you able to get outside at all for lunch? Several friends have sun lamps and swear by them. Last year I also started taking Vitamin D supplements: they can help with SAD and also reduce your susceptibility to colds.

      1. ExcelJedi

        Vitamin D supplements are definitely something to look into! I’m terrible at vitamins generally, but it’s worth trying.

        1. Qwerty

          Is the problem remembering to take them? If so, what’s worked for me is to stash them in several places. If I forget to take one in the morning, then hopefully I’ll notice the pill bottle on my desk or on my kitchen counter. The idea is to make it visible – if I have to move the vitamins out of the way to get a plate/bowl for my dinner, I’m far more likely to remember that I’m supposed to be taking them. You don’t even need to buy multiple bottle, just split the main bottle into ziploc baggies or old pill bottles.

          You might get a couple of questions if the vitamin D bottle is obvious at work, but usually the outcome I’ve had from those conversations is for my coworkers to start trying it themselves.

          1. PhyllisB

            You can always use the OLD PERSON option (my children’s words, not mine.) Get one of those pill boxes with the days of the week on them and put your pills in there. I place mine by the coffee maker and see it every morning. Another option is to set an alarm on your phone for a time that’s convenient for you. I take my BP med at 6:30 in the evening, and even my grand-children knows what it means when it goes off. If I’m in another room I’ll hear, “Gram!! Take your medicine!!” One of them will even bring it to me.

            1. Windchime

              I use those little pill things, too. Otherwise, I would get confused about whether or not I’d already taken my medicine. I have morning medicine and nighttime medicine, so every week I just fill up my little pill containers and it’s so much easier. I don’t care if people think they are for “old people” (I guess I’m kind of old, so maybe they are? LOL).

              A doctor told me once that it’s almost impossible for anyone this far north (Washington state) to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone; the angle of the sun simply doesn’t permit it. I don’t know if that’s true but it’s something to think about.

    3. Mimmy

      Commiseration: I sometimes wonder if I have a little bit of SAD myself, but I react to the wild swings that comes with the change of seasons – like now it’s the fall, the leaves are falling, it’s getting gloomier, darker and colder. My mood usually improves by mid-spring when it’s brighter and greener. Also, one of my coworkers has SAD, and his work area has very little sunlight. He mentioned in the last week or so that he’s been having trouble getting up in the mornings – I hope he’ll be okay.

      1. Autumnheart

        He may want to consider a lamp with a smart bulb, both at work and at home. Philips Hue bulbs have a function where you can set it to fade both on and off in order to emulate a sunrise or a sunset. The full-color ones can also be set to whatever color you like, so a warm yellow/orange light might be to their benefit. Philips also makes an alarm clock with a sunrise/sunset light function built into it. It’s a bit spendy (over $100) but might well be worth the money if it does the trick.

    4. Free now (and forever)

      Thank God for light boxes! I started using mine in September. I’m now retired, so I use it when I ride my exercise bike in the morning. If I had a desk job, I’d keep it on a corner of my desk and use it first thing in the morning when I got to work. They make some relatively small ones now, so they don’t take up too much room. And frankly, I also go to bed earlier st this time of year. My brain wishes it could always be May through July.

      1. Liane

        Do you know if the light bulbs labeled daylight are helpful at all or does it have to be the special light boxes? Husband has bad problems with SAD & he just got some GE Classic LED daylight bulbs. I have been encouraging him to ask his Veterans Administration doctors to prescribe the light boxes but who knows if they will.

        1. NotAPirate

          I personally had more results with the actual box. I got one for $70 bucks on amazon about 5 years ago now. I can check the brand name after work tonight. The really big freestanding ones are a lot, but little ones are significantly cheaper. Maybe you’ll have more luck getting the VA to agree to prescribe the ~50$ range ones?

        2. Jordijojo

          What matters is the intensity and spectrum of the light — 10,000 lux is the recommendation. I don’t think you’ll really find a ‘regular’ light bulb rated this high on that scale

      2. Jordijojo

        Another vote for light boxes! I feel more energetic, especially in the morning, and I stopped gaining weight every winter like I usually do. I do it at least 3-4 times a week for 30 min to an hour in the morning.

    5. Annie Moose

      Gonna be keeping my eye on this one… I need a better strategy to handle winter months than “try to keep a strict schedule and go outside sometimes”.

    6. Canadian Natasha

      You can have all my commiseration! I’m afraid as a SAD newbie I’m short on any actual advice/strategies. (I’ll be watching the comments as well to see what helpful suggestions people make)

    7. Overeducated

      Yeah, this is a hard time change, I’ve really been dragging. It’s rained most of the week here, making it even darker, but yesterday the sun was out and I went on a lunchtime walk and thought “wait, I have to do this all the time.” I have also been drinking my entire 3-cup pot of coffee by 10 or 11 am. So I’m reading to find out other people’s strategies as well….

    8. ThankYouRoman

      *hugs*

      I’m sorry to hear this. Daylight Savings ending actually fixed my issues building up from having to wake up and leave before sunrise. So I’m extra sad it’s having a negative effect for you.

      I’m looking into a sun lamp for my mom. Have you tried one? Not saying they fix everything but they can help some folks.

      1. Dragoning

        Personally, I’m finding waking up easier (thank God) but the lack of sun exposure is still starting to set of SAD symptoms…seeing light through my blinds helps me wake up, but it’s not giving me a lot of Vitamin D, you know?

        1. ThankYouRoman

          I have a long enough commute that I can get a decent start on the day. My first battle is getting out of bed when the SAD starts to scratch at the door. But I totally can understand where it doesn’t increase the much needed D.

      2. Kat in VA

        I’m in the same boat. Now that it’s actually light out when I leave, it’s easier for me to work. Driving home in the dark sucks, though. There’s a perfect month or so in summer where I get the best of both worlds…

    9. NeonFireworks

      Ugh, I know this one! Things that have helped me: exercise, really good full-spectrum light throughout the house (the difference between getting home at 5 PM and doing four hours of work, and getting home at 5 PM and climbing into bed), a lot of vitamin D, trying to get outside even if the weather sucks, and (if you can afford it in terms of time and money) a winter trip to southern California. Something to look forward to, then drawn on, until April.

    10. Sapphire

      Ooh yeah, this hits me so badly. I finally gave in and got a smart lightbulb kit so I could set them to turn on when I’m supposed to get up. It’s helped a lot now that it’s dark and cold in the mornings.

    11. Elaine

      As others have commented, a light therapy box has really helped me. I have also found great success using a dawn simulator instead of an alarm clock. Some people do better with their dose of light therapy in the morning and others do better late afternoon/early evening. If you don’t respond to a morning dose, then a dawn simulator probably won’t help. You just have to experiment to find out which you are. If your employer allows a light therapy box at work, you’ll need to make sure you aren’t annoying coworkers – 10,000 lux is bright! The usual dose is for 20 minutes once a day, so you probably could work around being distracting for that short period of time.

      1. Canadian Natasha

        I just got a dawn simulator alarm. It does the gradual brightening thing over 30 minutes and then starts playing a sound (several programmable options- I use a classical music one) at the end of the cycle. I haven’t used it long enough for a real evaluation but so far it is a nicer way to wake up then the usual horrible beeping alarm. (And anything that starts the day off better is worth it to me.) I just got a cheap version for ~$30.

      2. Ali G

        I’ll post a link in a reply – I use a dawn simulator alarm clock, but it also doubles as a source of light therapy. Before I had this job, where I have a window, I took mine to the office for a second dose late morning.
        Mine starts lighting up 30 min before the time I set it too. then I usually snooze my alarm and either just lay there for 10 min with the light on me, or I read or something before actually getting out of bed. Then around 11 am I do another 20 min at full sunlight.

    12. OhGee

      I’ve been forcing myself to get up early to exercise, because where I am, the sun has set by the time I leave work. It’s hard to push myself, but I ran or did a little bit of yard work 4 of 5 days this work week and it really helped to be outside for a bit – I have more energy and am going out tonight after work (I am generally pretty wishy washy about going out on a Friday, because the work week leaves me drained.) And I think the lunchtime walks you mention are a great idea.

      I also started doing winter hiking/snowshoeing last year, because I wanted to find a reason to love winter like I did when I was a kid. I’m planning to do a long hike every two weeks or so this winter.

    13. GibbsRule#18

      Ugh, me too. I swear it gets harder every year. Didn’t help that it was/is rainy or overcast. Yesterday was the first day I felt somewhat better. Oh, and we have a puppy who just didn’t understand the time change so we’re up an hour earlier every day. My city is notorious for bad drivers and traffic has been even worse in the evening. It’s like they forget how to drive in the dark!

    14. Wishing You Well

      Like a lot of others, I use a light box and vitamin D. I exercise and try not to stay up too late to maximize my daylight hours. Celebrate the winter solstice! I remind myself that every day after December 21 is LONGER because positive thoughts really do help. Put up holiday lights early if you feel like it. Those tiny rice lights oughta be standard year-round home decor!
      Brightest Wishes!

    15. Youth

      I can commiserate! This year was the worst year of my life by far, so I’m being particularly diligent in trying to stay ahead of my SAD this year. I sit by a big window at work, but I’m looking into one of those natural lights for my basement apartment.

    16. Gene Parmesan

      I started taking a DHA/EPA supplement (omega-3) for a separate health concern a couple years ago. One happy side effect I’ve noticed is that my winter blues/SAD is soooooo much better. Might be worth a try.

    17. AshK434

      This is not work related and I don’t think a thread wallowing in commiseration is the most productive either.

    18. Raena

      Fellow SAD sufferer here. My go to strategies are:
      -waking up an hour earlier and getting outside if possible.
      -eating a high protein breakfast and taking vitamin D supplements. I have low iron so I take that as well and it helps with energy.
      -use my trusty light box
      -take a walk at after lunch.
      -have snacks handy for energy slumps. Also drink lots of water.
      -plants!
      -lastly try to push through the periods where you get exhausted. When I first has SAD I would put my head back and literally fall asleep at my desk. (very bad obviously). This made me feel even more tired at the same time the next day. Try and keep your body and mind on a regular sleep schedule so you don’t start getting tired at the 3pm slump.

    19. Brrr

      I finally bought a SAD lamp last fall and it made a world of difference. It was the first winter in quite a few years where I didn’t feel like I was walking through a thick dark cold haze all winter long. I found the book “Winter Blues” by Norman Rosenthal to be useful in helping me choose a light and figure out how long and when to use it.

      I want to point out that the optimal length of time under the light varies from person to person so 20 minutes a day may not be long enough for you. If after a week of using a therapy light you still don’t feel better, start increasing the time spent under it and/or change the time of day that you use it. Most people should use it as early as possible in the morning. Don’t give up on it after just a couple of uses!

      “Winter Blues” gives information on how to determine when you’re getting enough light. In the depths of December I needed a good hour under the light every morning. Since I was doing it before heading to work, that meant getting up at least an hour earlier than normal. I managed to consistently get myself out of bed before 6am all winter (even on weekends and holidays!) and I made sure to go to bed by 10pm so I wasn’t short-changing myself on sleep. I am NOT a morning person so this in itself speaks volumes about how effective and motivating I found the therapy light.

      Finally, you might want to check for used lamps as I think it’s not uncommon for people to buy one on recommendation from someone, and then just never use it (or use it a couple of times and decide it’s not for them). I bought mine new for about $240 but have seen like-new second-hand ones listed for less than $100.

  14. Marie the Chef

    My boss laid me off and is now telling people I hate her. I told her to please stop, and now she wants to talk. How much do I need to continue this conversation?

    Back story:
    I was recently laid off from my position. No severance (though they asked me to work two more months, one of them part-time), and they ended my insurance. I’m disappointed with how this had all gone down, but frankly not surprised given everything else I’ve seen happen here (tiny, poorly managed nonprofit).

    My last day is next week, and I’ve just heard from two people that my boss (our executive director) is telling them I “hate her” because she laid me off. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about her. I’ve been very professional during this entire period – perhaps not super into chit-chat and a bit cooler than I would otherwise be, but I get my work done, am kind and helpful to my colleagues, and really just want to be out.

    After the first person told me she said this, I was going to let it go, but when I heard it again, I texted my boss to say please stop telling people I hate her, that it makes me sound unprofessional and is damaging my reputation when I have been nothing but professional. She texted me back denying she ever said this and now wants to talk (we’re mostly remote, though I do have a meeting with her next week).

    This is not the first time she’s made assumptions about how I feel, and I’ve told her multiple times that I’m not angry/upset/whatever emotion she thinks I’m having (my theory is she wants someone to make her feel better about laying me off and I’m not interested in being her therapist or alleviating her guilt).

    Did I do a stupid thing to call her out on this, and must I now continue this conversation? I’m not really interested in debating whether or not she’s said these things (I know she has), my feelings, or turning this into all about her and how she feels guilty. Or do I just need to be the grown up and get on the phone with her?

    1. neverjaunty

      Being the grownup here means disengaging. You don’t need to follow up, you don’t need to talk to her.

      Also, what is up with the people passing on gossip about what your ex-boss is saying? Why did they tell you this?

    2. Detective Amy Santiago

      I think you did the right thing by calling it out. I’m not sure what she hopes to accomplish with a conversation, but I’d say it’s probably in your best interest to go ahead and talk to her, just keep it brief and factual.

      Something like “Karen, I’m not interested in debating the veracity of the information I heard. If it’s not true, then you can disregard my request. I wanted to make sure I made it clear to you that I do not harbor any ill will towards you because of the layoff though.”

    3. Psyche

      It is probably best to have a conversation with her at this point. The only way to avoid a conversation was to not call her out. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. Pretend to believe her when she tells you that she didn’t say that and emphasize that this is obviously a tough situation for you but that you are not taking it personally (regardless of whether that is true). Don’t get drawn into a debate

      1. Cat Fan

        The only way not to get drawn in is to not have the discussion. Maria the Chef had a right to ask her to stop and really does not owe it to her to make her feel better about it.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Pretend to believe her: Yes, this!
        You have made your point if she is back pedalling here, which it sounds like she is. All that needs to be said is a couple people told you this and somehow they are getting this impression from her, so she should be aware. The beauty of this approach is it’s irrelevant if she said it or not. All that matters is that people have this impression and you are concerned because it’s not true.

        I cannot tell you how many times I have used this technique. I’d bet my last chocolate donut that she is saying this about you. However, your willingness to walk right into that conversation with her is scaring the heck out of her and you have made your point already.

        Sometimes we can only know how effective we are by measuring how much push back we get. You won this one.

    4. LilySparrow

      I’d respond, “I’m glad to hear that! Would you please help squash this rumor, as I am concerned that it could interfere with my future job prospects if people believe it.”

      I’ve had to deal with a lot of passive-aggresive liars, unfortunately. The most constructive tactic I’ve found is to ignore the game and be very clear that you expect them to act ethically and responsibly. You allow them their “cover story”, but don’t let them off the hook.

      1. LilySparrow

        The follow-up to that is that you stay silent during the prepared speech about her feelings, and just wait for her to run out of steam. Know what concrete outcome/action steps you want, and when she’s done talking you just say something positive like “thanks” or “I appreciate that” and ask for the thing you want, like a letter of recommendation.

        Better yet, write the letter yourself before the conversation, and ask her to sign it right then and there.

        At no point are you obligated to reassure her, and don’t argue. Let the tension build up so when you present the very reasonable ask, it will be a relief to her.

      2. Marie the Chef

        I actually kept your comment open on my computer while I called her just now. I said I’m glad to hear you say these things aren’t true, but since I’ve heard it from multiple people at this point, if she could help squash this rumor, I’d appreciate it. She said she’s only said good things about me, that the only thing she’s said is that it’s a sensitive situation, she’s only trying to help me land in a good place, she knows I don’t hate her, and whoever said this is just blowing whatever she said out of proportion. I said that’s great, I appreciate it, ok, bye.

        To the question of whether the people who told me this are just shit-stirring, they both used the same language without knowing what the other person said. Knowing how my boss talks, I think it’s a pretty safe bet she did say these things.

        Thanks all for the advice!

    5. MissDisplaced

      Is it possible the two people who told you this were over-embellishing?
      Is it possible the boss made something more like a offhand comment and they “decided” to inform you it was directed at you? If so, I don’t know what their purpose would’ve been by doing that.

      But yeah, I think you were right to address/call it out. But I would not make this a huge argument either however. Continue to stress that you are remaining professional, and want to leave on good terms and you don’t “hate” anyone and understand it’s just a business decision. Some of the others have good scripts for follow up as well.

      I’m sorry this happened. I hope you find a better job and boss.

  15. Jenna Maroney

    My manager is refusing to do anything about incompetent new hires because she doesn’t want to fire anyone when our contract is about to (not) be renewed. Is there anything at all I can do to get her to see more reasonably?

    1. Psyche

      How soon will she hear about whether or not the contract is renewed? If it is only one or two weeks it might be worth just waiting it out unless they are causing a lot of problems and not just being unproductive. If possible, silo them away from important work in the meantime to limit their impact.

      1. Jenna Maroney

        They lobbied for it back at the beginning of October, they should be finding out any week now. And it’s our busy season, we can’t afford to have three duds on the team (not to mention how badly it’s affecting morale).

    2. Jenna Maroney

      Just found out I’m going to get the aggressively rude and overly inquisitive one all of next week. Kill me.

    3. LKW

      It’s very good to demonstrate your inability to manage people when trying to get a new contract. /s

    4. Kathenus

      One thing you can do is to not cover for or pick up the slack for the new hires. Do your job, well, but don’t do theirs or fix their mistakes – kick it up to your manager if they don’t do the work or don’t do it well. If there’s a consequence for keeping poor performers that impacts her, she has more of an incentive to do something.

  16. Karen from Finance

    I have been waiting for this post.

    I work in finance in a small company. My boss was fired yesterday. He was the overall administrative lead/coordinator. There’s going to be a CFO coming before New Year, but they will not be as involved as my boss was. I was explicitly told I am now a one-woman-department.

    I have 3 years experience in my area which is finance. I have always been complimented on being driven, creative, and smart. I am also aware I lack experience and self-confidence. I’m nervous.

    Tips?

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Make a list of everything your boss was responsible for that directly connected to your responsibilities and ask how they are going to be handled under the new management structure.

    2. Tara S.

      Write down everything! Have other people give things to you in writing, so you can look things up later. You’ll get a lot of info and it might be hard to hold in your head. Ask for help where you can. Also, be kind to yourself when you make mistakes. It’s going to happen, but it’s probably not going to be the end of the world. Remind yourself that you are still learning (even if you are using the same skills as before, it’s different having to manage a whole department by yourself). Best of luck!

    3. ExcelJedi

      Plan out your professional development goals for 2019 now. Even if it’s one or two specific webinars or events, and to read 2 TBD books on whatever you find out you need to improve.

      You may be in a place where you always feel a little overwhelmed and like you can’t take the time for your own development but having a solid plan and sticking to it will help you learn to manage new responsibilities.

      1. Auntie Social

        And remember you wouldn’t be a one-woman department if they thought you were a mess and not up to the job. In my eyes it was a vote of confidence.

        1. LKW

          Don’t be too sure. I don’t want to wreck your confidence KfF but watch your back. Someone may be putting some chess moves in place to take over your department or responsibilities. Keep an ear to the ground if possible.

          1. ThankYouRoman

            I’m glad I’m not the only cynic right now.

            It pings bells of “why why why” with a sudden firing and downsize. Then just tossing a department to a junior employee.

              1. Marthooh

                Ooh. If that’s what’s going on, be careful! Document everything you do, everything you are asked to do, every piece of information you’re given. If someone insists on in-person or phone contact, send a recap email the same day: “To confirm our earlier conversation…” blah blah blah, repeat what was said.

                If they try to force you out, you’ll at least get better terms if you can prove your competence.

    4. ThankYouRoman

      You want to compile questions for the CFO and ask to form an action plan with them.

      They will need to know what you’ve been doing and what you know your boss had been doing that you’d need to pick up.

      I don’t know what you’re doing now or the size of the small business but I’ve taken on controller positions without the title and with only my street smarts to guide me. 3 years is a good deal of experience. Is there something you’re particularly concerned about? Calling the shots without a person to authorize? Or learning more? The presumed responsibility increase?

      Do you know and trust the executives? Get close to them and try to know if they need their hands held or if they’ve got a good handle on the business.

      1. Karen from Finance

        > I don’t know what you’re doing
        Forecasting, budgeting, reporting, analysis, showing business results to the executives. Lots of ad hoc reporting and presenting. Business advisory. Annoying people from accounting a lot. Being the “you forgot to file your paperwork last night” from Monsters, Inc.

        >Is there something you’re particularly concerned about? Calling the shots without a person to authorize? Or learning more? The presumed responsibility increase?

        1. FormerBoss would say “yes” to 95% of what I proposed, but the responsability of the decision was never ultimately mine. So yes, the responsibility increase and the calling the shots.
        2. I am not personally an accountant, I’m an economist who stumbled into financial analysis via business analysis. This is not necessarily a requisite, but I’m aware without my more experienced boss I’ll need to read up a lot and fast, to make sure I don’t get any accounting concepts wrong, as there’s a big overlap.
        3. FormerBoss and I agreed on vision. He was person I personally ever worked with. And he disagreed with the Directors a lot, and aside from the fact that I think he was bad at picking his battles and office politics, I think having one too many disagreements is what got him fired. I will have to tread very lightly else I have the same fate.

        >Do you know and trust the executives? Get close to them and try to know if they need their hands held or if they’ve got a good handle on the business.
        I talk to one of the 4 executives daily. I don’t really trust him (he took 100% responsability for firing FormerBoss and maybe eventually I’ll stop holding it against him). I’ll still need to get close to him. I’m not certain of how to gauge how he prefers to be treated or if I should ask, point blank, how involved he wants to be.

        1. ThankYouRoman

          I’m an Accidental Accountant, so I understand the preliminary fears. The CFO should be a replacement to accounting practices issues that may come up. You’re not a CPA and they’re insane if they aren’t relying on one in the end. No single person can screw up that massively.

          The differences between your old boss and the firing executive makes sense. That’s a decent reason to be let go and honestly if you can’t get on the same page as the guy in ultimate charge, it may not be ideal for you long term!

          I’m less cynical having this info. I think there was probably a lot of overlap in duties and with a 95% approval rating, you’re right on track to not need that safety net in place.

          This is a daunting event tossed at you but it may give you a huge boost into a higher position.

          Don’t fool yourself into thinking most of all of what you need to do is already programmed into the set up. A ton of it is reverse engineering the process to see where the last end result came from.

          Once you’re exercised your shot calling muscles and gotten to know the new CFO, it’ll be less like you’re in front of a firing squad.

    5. Coffee Owl

      That sounds like a compliment on a job well done to me! Speaking as an accountant myself, here’s what I would do:

      – have a sit-down (like – next week) with whoever your current direct manager is and make sure you have a good, solid, clear idea of what is and is not your responsibility, especially if you are taking over any new tasks from FiredBoss. Also talk about what is or is not a priority between now and the arrival of New CFO so New CFO does not walk into a fire that immediately needs putting out.

      – if you have the ability and bandwidth, spend some time thinking strategically about your position/department’s tasks, processes, and reports. Is there anything that has been really bugging you about what or how you do something? This is a great opportunity to document, document, document and see if there are things that can be changed to be more effective or efficient

      – plan to have a high-level, direction of the department meeting with the new CFO when she arrives to talk about what her vision and plans for your department are and what involvement or reports she does or doesn’t want to see. This would also be a good time to talk about those changes you have been thinking about on a high level. Clarify your level of autonomy – are you REALLY in charge of your department and can make needed changes without guidance, and if not, what does getting that done look like to New CFO?

      – looking at your work, is there additional outside training or education that you could really benefit from, i.e. conferences, classes, or seminars? Do some poking around and prepare the groundwork to propose that for yourself. It is in the company’s best interest to make sure you are as equipped as you can be, and that is especially true if you do or will have responsibilities towards outside agents (hi, auditors and the IRS!).

      – remember that imposter syndrome is a thing! It’s okay to be nervous, but even if you don’t have a huge amount of experience overall, you have three years’ experience in this company specifically. That is not nothing. You will be an asset to New CFO for that reason.

      You so got this. You’re gonna rock it.

    6. Karen from Finance

      Thank you all for your responses. The ones that I didn’t individually respond is because I’m taking them to heart.

      Honestly I feel like I just had my training wheels taken away too soon. I’m meeting one of the directors now (actually waiting for him atm). I plan to ask him what he had in mind for the restructuring, show him the things I’m currently working on that he needs to see, and hold off the rest of the points that need deeper consideration until the dust settles.

  17. Seifer

    I posted about layoffs last week and I just wanted to say thanks to everyone that commented. We lost eight people total but tbh most of them were those that weren’t really… pulling their weight. I know that sounds horrible but it was mostly people that would come to work and chat all day and then complain about how busy they were. With the exception of one woman that was so good at her job, her boss felt threatened by her and therefore laid her off.

    But everything is okay! For now. We’re trying to move on. Thanks again! It really meant a lot.

    1. ThankYouRoman

      That’s the norm for layoffs, it’s good that your company seems to focus on cutting dead weight first.

      I would be cautious to assume the one who you think of as good at her job but was a threat is actually the truth. You often can look good from outside sources but actually skate on your job in ways coworkers don’t see. I’ve had to fire and layoff “good” employees before. They’re good on the surface but managing them was a new story and behind closed doors.

    2. Jen RO

      It doesn’t sound horrible, I think it’s a sign of a well-managed company. The one time a person on my team got laid off it was a huge burden off our shoulders – he was lazy, lied about getting his work done and yelled at us in meetings. The mood in the team improved the day he left.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      My company was recently acquired by a very large software company. The announcement came in September, and the deal was finalized last week. On Monday, everyone will finally find out what’s happening with their jobs one way or another. Some people will be offered permanent positions, others will be presented with “transitional” opportunities — stay for x amount of time and then get some amount of severance and/or a retention bonus — and there will be a small group who is laid off right away.

      This has been so unbelievably stressful. I’ve only been with this company for about 6 months, and I really like it and don’t want to go anywhere. I was just starting to feel like I had settled in and was getting a good handle on everything. It’s been making everyone paranoid and irrational. I have no idea what will happen with my job. I don’t think I’ll be laid off immediately, but beyond that, I just don’t know. My boss did ask me a few weeks ago to please not go anywhere because my particular skill set is very hard to find, so that’s encouraging, but he’s been acting a little secretive and squirrelly, like he’s been putting feelers out for jobs, so who knows? I’ve told him I’m open to anything except relocation.

      The closer we’ve gotten to Monday, the slower the time has seemed to go. I’ll be relieved when I finally know what’s in store for me, good news or bad. Ugh.

  18. Bee's Knees

    This week in a Small Town Newsroom

    Wakeen fell asleep at his desk the other afternoon. It was pretty slow, and we were just sitting around talking when Violet and I heard this noise coming from his desk. We both turned and looked, and he had his chin to his chest, sawing logs. He did wake up after a few minutes, but dear heavens.

    Sadly, I don’t have an update for this. Most of my phone conversations are very short. I had one the other day that was 10 minutes long. He talked the entire time. I finally get him my email address, a feat unto itself, and he asks my name again. I have a very girl’s popular name. It is easy to spell. He pronounced it when he repeated it back to me without one syllable, which I don’t love, but is how a lot of older people say it. I don’t love it, but ok. He then tells me it’s unusual for a lady to have that name, and he doesn’t know anyone with that name. I am unsure what he heard that sounds like my name, and very much is not.

    Everyone at the office is sick. As soon as someone leaves for the day, I descend with the Lysol. A lady in advertising saw me carrying it, and told me her husband had the flu. I did not give in to my first instinct of spraying her with the Lysol.

    Yesterday, Boss was out, so I was in charge of putting together the front. It was stressful, but I was doing ok until about ten minutes before deadline. That’s when we found out advertising hadn’t put in the right pages, and we had to change all the ads. That wasn’t fun.

    Some of the boys, though, have no idea how close they came to death. Farquad wants to be in charge, but isn’t willing to do any of the work. Fergus came and stood right behind me, while chewing his yogurt. I cannot stand to hear people chew, and he was right behind me. He was also talking to Violet about robots for… ahem, adult entertainment. I almost turned around, killed him, and went right back to work.

    Wakeen, however, was the worst. I was asking him where the pictures I needed were. He says he doesn’t know how to get there from his desktop. I told him to click on the file icon. Nope. I said the file button, which was a mistake, because he started looking at his keyboard. I finally gave up and went and glowered over his shoulder until he found it. He was then shocked that I didn’t have enough room for more than one photo.

    1. kittymommy

      Honest to god, this update is the favorite part of Friday’s. I want a tv show of this. I want to visit this office and witness this in person. If I ever here of someone losing it a a local newspaper one day, I will totally come and support your defense. “But your honor, you don’t understand!! Fergus and Wakkeen……. they’re just the worst co-workers ever!!”

    2. Free now (and forever)

      Chewing his yogurt? How is this even a thing? Although, truthfully, I chew my yogurt because I add slivered almonds, frozen cherries, and unsweetened coconut. Of course, you could say that I chew everything but the yogurt. But othwise, how is this possible?

      1. CDM

        some people are more sensitive to food textures than others. I was trying to teach my teen to swallow tic-tacs as a precursor to swallowing pills, and she simply cannot do it. Putting it in applesauce just leads to chewing the applesauce and pill or substitute. I complained about her chewing applesauce and she retorted with “at least I’m not like who has to chew her water before swallowing!”

        My flabber is officially gasted. People exist who chew water.

        1. CarolineG

          I have nothing to add except to disclose that I fully intend to steal and use “My flabber is officially gasted”.

          But, for some reason; maybe because it sounds like something he’d say………..in my head I read it in the voice of Eugene from The Walking Dead.

        2. Autumnheart

          I can relate to the pill-swallowing issues. It took me until I was 20 to be able to swallow any pills, and even BC pills would trigger my gag reflex (and they’re half the size of a Tic-Tac). Tell her to try it with milk or OJ, and if the pill is solid, tip her head back, and if it’s a liqui-gel or capsule, tip her head forward. If she drinks a smoothie or protein shake in the morning, those work well too. (A morning smoothie is a great pill/breakfast delivery system.) And there’s no shame in buying the gummi version if it’s available.

          Now I have to take about a dozen pills a day, and those are the tricks that get me through it. But I also just tossed a bottle of vitamins that were these giant round non-coated pucks of death, because ain’t nobody got time for that.

        3. tangerineRose

          I had a hard time swallowing pills too until I found that if I start with a piece of cheese, start chewing that, and then throw the pills in when I’m about ready to swallow pieces of the cheese, it works.

      2. What's with Today, today?

        Yeah, my best friend always gets on to me for not adequately chewing mashed potatoes b/c “Digestion starts in the mouth!” All the time.

      3. Not So NewReader

        I chew the strawberries in my yogurt. I get to spend long time with the good flavor if I chew them. But I am not noisy about it.

    3. What's with Today, today?

      Our radio station has two sales guys in their 70s+(One is in actually in his 80s, but he’s not the napper). One naps on the bosses couch when he’s out of town. He naps at his own desk when the boss is in the building. This is very much a daily thing.

      1. Bee's Knees

        Our proofer who was in his eighties, and now sadly retired, would fall asleep at his desk all the time. Just a light snooze. No snoring. I always felt bad for waking him up.

    4. SJ

      As a lab tech, I can certainly supply tips and techniques on how to hide a body (should you ever need it)! Love your updates!

    5. I Love Thrawn

      I admire your restraint in not spraying that woman with Lysol, though I do understand the impulse. And I love reading your weekly updates.

    6. Emily S.

      Love your updates, thanks for this!

      Honestly, I feel like slapping both Fergus and Wakeen. And I feel you on the germs going around. I’ve had a nasty cold/cough all week (viral! lovely!) and have been working, since I’m out of PTO (which is grouped to include sick time). Luckily it’s starting to get better, but I do wipe down all my area surfaces with Lysol wipes regularly.

    7. Nancie

      I did not give in to my first instinct of spraying her with the Lysol.

      I love this line.

      Next time, maybe you could spray a circle of Lysol around her. Kind of like you’d make a circle of salt against evil spirits.

      1. Bee's Knees

        I’ve been doing that to people’s desks. Just a wall of it, after I’ve sprayed everything they might have touched. Including the handle of Fergus’s coffee cup.

  19. Nervous Accountant

    It’s been a rough week. A lot of stupid crap both @ work and at home (will post about the home stuff tomorrow).

    Last week my boss was saying such nice glowing things. How I handled the Kevin situation really well, how I grew so much this year, and I’m doing so great in my role. I felt great and bam this week I get crapped on. The seed is planted now.

    Anyway, update on Kevin. Others are pointing out how he gets worked up so quickly. Majority of them don’t let it ruffle them. They don’t take it personally, they see it as just a personality quirk or whatever. My mgr got pissed. not at me, but at him, and having this kind of crappy atittude. I’ve been at work for an hour and I counted 10 times going off. Any feedback I have to give him now is done through email/writing with him CC’d which he 100% ignores. My mgr talked to him yesterday and I wish I’d been a part of that meeting. (I was supposed to be, but I missed his signal, and got busy with something else urgent that came up any way) but he told me all about how that talk happened. The phone thing hasn’t changed, so let’s see if anything else does. I’m skeptical, but we’re doing our part.

  20. A Nonny Nonny

    Our office holiday party is on a weekend evening at a country club and the invitation specifically says cocktail attire. A coworker has mentioned nice slacks and a fancy shirt would be okay (we are both female). It’s been a long time since I’ve needed cocktail attire. Is she right or should I get a dress?

    1. Four lights

      I would either check with the person coordinating, or with other women in the office. I should think you could wear slacks.

    2. SophiaB

      Maybe ask around a little more widely? I tend to go by what other people are planning to wear more than the stated dress code – people have such varied ideas of what ‘business casual’, for example, actually means.

      Also, consider whether you and your co-worker have similar tastes. I struggle ever to look smart in jeans, so tend to opt for dresses to be safe, but I have plenty of friends who look classy in jeans and a simple shirt.

    3. Tara S.

      Pants are always an option, no matter how fancy an event. Dresses are appropriate for a cocktail event if you want to wear one, but nice pants and a blouse will also work.

    4. DivineMissL

      Well, I am picturing a pair of satin/velvet slacks and a spangly, holiday-ish shirt, with glittery earrings, cute shoes, hair fixed, etc. and you could get away with it. Most women’s holiday wear I see seems to be bare arms and legs, and I would be more comfortable/warm in slacks, too. You MIGHT be able to do nice wool dress pants if the top half is holiday-ish and sparkly. You don’t want to look like you wandered in from work in a plain pair of pants and shirt, but you can probably find something comfortable and appropriate that doesn’t require you going out to buy a cocktail dress.

    5. Shark Whisperer

      This is hard because there’s such variations in slacks and shirts, but in general, yes, slack on women can be cocktail attire. My grandmother is a blue-blood English lady and I have attending more than one country club function with her. Her go-to holiday time outfit is black slacks and a cream lace blouse. If she will deign to wear slacks to a cocktail party, anyone can.

    6. Holly

      It depends – do you enjoy wearing dresses? If so, a dress would be great. If you don’t, pants are fine but you really have to dress it up with a more fancy shirt as you say, and maybe some statement jewelry (I don’t want to assume how you dress, just giving my general opinion on what would elevate a pair of pants). You could also wear a more festive pantsuit.

    7. Can't Sit Still

      It can also be helpful to check if the country club itself has a dress code. There are still places that won’t allow you in if you’re wearing jeans or denim, for example.

    8. Happy Hedgehog

      Our big year-end event is often held at a country club/golf course with cocktail attire. A dress isn’t required but, I’d say 90% of the women in our office elect to wear one. Jeans are prohibited where we usually have ours but, other pants would be fine.

      If you opt for pants I’d suggest looking for a dressier version than regular work pants; something with a wider leg or some flow to the fabric would be nice. Definitely wear a nicer blouse, perhaps a sparkly or beaded one. Jewelry can definitely help dress up an outfit too.

      1. Anon From Here

        Yeah, slinky-fabric pants and some kind of very impractical top. (I keep a black velvet V-neck shirt with stupid chiffon cuffs in my closet for just these occasions, which are infrequent enough that nobody remembers the shirt.) Dress your hair up in a style you don’t usually do, add some sparkly jewelry, and carry a handbag that won’t fit more than a piece of ID, enough dollars to get you in a taxi home, and some lipstick. Party time!

    9. The Grammarian

      Swooshy, wide-legged pants (like culottes) in a nicer fabric and a nice sweater in a coordinating color with accents should qualify as cocktail attire.

    10. Lissa

      I’ll riot if there’s ever an event that I need to wear a dress to just because I’m a lady! Dresses mandatory for everyone or nobody!

    11. Emily S.

      I’d ask around. If I was really concerned, I’d wear a skirt and blouse, but if your colleague said slacks would be fine, it’s probably safe to take that at face value. I always figure I can dress things up with a nice scarf/wrap, and some jewelry.

    12. Dobermom

      My office holiday party is also on a weekend evening at a country club with an invitation that specifically says cocktail attire. I’ve been at the company for several years, and, while most women opt for cocktail dresses, there definitely are women that wear nice slacks with fancy shirts.

    13. valentine

      Don’t worry about it. Enough people will wear little black dresses or bluejeans that your choices won’t stand out.

  21. New Job

    I’m on the verge of getting a job offer. They’ve told me they’re headed that way, just waiting on a verbal offer and then an offer letter. At my current job I am on intermittent FMLA. I haven’t mentioned this to my new job and I’m not sure when/how to broach the topic. I don’t want them to pull the offer and I don’t want them to think its going to be a problem. I only need time out of the office occasionally. It’s more I need flexibility, which they already told me they offer.

    Would it be bad if I didn’t say anything for now and just held off until I felt I needed to file for it again? That seems like it could come back to haunt me. But I’m just not sure how to handle it with the job change.

    1. fposte

      I think it’s okay not to mention it if you don’t want to and don’t need to. Flexibility also seems like something that could fall under an ADA accommodation if it’s not as available as you hoped but you haven’t been there long enough for FMLA.

      1. New Job

        Oh! I forgot that I have to be employed for a year before I can get FMLA. That actually makes it a lot easier, I guess, since I have no real choice there.

        Follow-up question: how does one seek accommodations via ADA? Do you just say you need this accommodation? I have a chronic illness. I’m not sure exactly how that works.

        1. fposte

          It’s not a fixed protocol. It can be as simple as saying “Hey, manager, I have an old wound from the Somme that acts up on rainy days; is it okay for me to leave early those days and work longer on others?” It can also be something that goes through HR and involves getting a note from your doctor that recommends your accommodation. Plan for the second, since that’s pretty common, but see how the culture goes and what your rapport is with your manager when you get there and go from there.

        2. Pinkie Pie

          Talk to HR after the offer letter. Pick the things that are most essential. For me, you can’t read my handwriting due to dysgraphia. I need to type things and not handwrite them. Due to diabetes, it needs to be understood that I will test my sugar occasionally and need to use the bathroom more often.

          Talk to your doctor to identify what is an accommodation for your disability, get it in writing and give it to HR.

        3. Rose Tyler

          Typically it starts with getting a doctor’s letter that specifically states what accommodations you need and how often/long you’re expected to need them. Then you enter into an interactive process with your employer where they either 1) agree to accommodate, 2) offer alternative suggestions that they feel still meet your needs, or 3) say that they feel the accommodations are unreasonable, at which point a lawyer-y can of worms opens up. :)

        4. New Job

          Ok. This is all great advice. I will start with the letter from my doctor so I have it on hand and causally mention it to my new manager and go from there. I *think* he will be accommodating.

    2. kelly white

      I would think if what you need is intermittent, and they have already said they are flexible, that you should just wait until you need it. If they really are flexible you may be able to handle it without any sort of explanation at all!

      Good luck at the new job!!

      1. New Job

        Thank you. That’s what I was wondering. I didn’t want to come out looking bad by not mentioning it. I believe they will genuinely be flexible, but I suppose there’s no way to really know until I’m there working.

        Thanks for the well wishes. :)

    3. Nervous Nellie

      Congrats on the new job!

      If I understand the law correctly, you might not be eligible for FMLA until you have worked at the new job for one year. Maybe an HR whiz here could confirm or correct? If it is the case, it sounds like it wouldn’t be a big deal anyway since the new job is already agreed to be flexible. You may just want to check how that flexible time out of the office needs to be tracked – as PTO, maybe? Or sick leave? I hope it’s just a minor admin issue for you.

      1. New Job

        Thank you! And you are right. I completely forgot I had to be there for a year so it doesn’t matter right now. I’m still working on the details of PTO with them but I’ve emphasized to them that I’d like to be able to work from home at least one day a week and have the flexibility to shift my schedule an hour or two earlier or later at times and they were very receptive. I have tons of flexibility in my job now so they’re aware that’s important to me and seem willing to accommodate that.

        1. Nervous Nellie

          Wow! That sounds like an awesome job and great colleagues & company culture. Super congrats to you, and Happy Friday! :)

          1. New Job

            It does sound great. I feel lucky. They knew how flexible my job was now and actually offered some of these things up to me as a selling point of working there.

        2. A-nony-nony

          Did you tell them why you needed flexibility? I’m interviewing for a job, and I have an autistic son who goes to therapy two afternoons a week, on the other side of town from said job, so I’ll need WFH flexibility those afternoons (I can obviously work later in those evenings to offset). Not sure whether I’d want to get into detail about my son if/when I get an offer or not.

          1. New Job

            I did not tell them why. I didn’t want to bring being sick into the equation. But I asked what the schedule was like and wanted to get an idea of whether I could swing things around a bit. I work globally now so it doesn’t really matter if I start at 6 am and work with he EMEA team or start at 12 pm and sync up with the APJ team.

            New job is not global, so it doesn’t work quite like that. But I expressed wanting to have the flexibility to come in late or leave early if needed. One example I gave was because I have a kid, which I know some people think is a no-no during a job interview but I could tell it would be a non-issue. Mostly I just expressed it as a comfort issue, not wanting to stray too much from what I’m used to right now.

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      You have no obligation to tell them that you need an ADA accommodation prior to accepting the offer. Once you start, just look up what their protocols are for requesting an accommodation or contact the person in HR and go through whatever their process is. As someone who has had both intermittent FMLA and an ADA accommodation which centered around flexibility that’s what I’ve done. I’ve also though just started the new job and waited it out a bit to see how flexible things are. At one job I had all the flexibility I needed so I didn’t bother going through all the HR processes, but then management changed and I lost that flexibility, so I went through the process so that it would be formal and enforced.

    5. ThankYouRoman

      Since it sounds like they’re giving you flex-time and a WFH day, you may not need to take it to an ADA or eventual intermediate FLMA situation.

      I only suggest pulling FLMA out when they’re being disagreeable about your time off needs. Pulling the law cards out prior to having your hand pushed can be overkill going into a new job.

      1. New Job

        Yeah, that’s definitely what I am hoping for. But I wasn’t sure if I should still raise it anyway. And I agree with you about it being overkill. I didn’t want to go there and look like I was going to be a problem employee.

        1. ThankYouRoman

          It’s a natural thing to think about given your current situation plus the nerves of going into a new job. My original comment was more blunt than I meant for it to come across.

          Congratulations, btw. I’m the worst and forgot that as well.

  22. Not Maeby but Surely

    I posted in last week’s open thread regarding being super nervous about asking a former boss (who’s now a bigwig at another company) for a reference. I finally bit the bullet this week and asked him, and he responded later the same day with an enthusiastic “of course!” AND he said a couple of things relating to how much I helped him (training, etc.) in his early years and basically gave me the confidence boost I needed. I’ve been feeling so demoralized in my job that I had been doubting whether I was actually a good employee/teapot examiner/what-have-you, so the kind words pretty much brought tears to my eyes.

    If you’ve been pondering a similar thing, take the leap! What have you got to lose?

    1. Mina

      That is really great news. It’s really scary how much you can end up internalizing the impact of a demoralizing job! Hope this helped you doubt yourself less overall.

    2. MissDisplaced

      When you work for a crappy company or boss who is demoralizing, bullying or gaslighting you, it’s very easy to start believing you are the worst employee in the world. So glad your former boss (now a bigwig) says otherwise!
      Take this! Get your mojo back! Go find yourself a better job!

    3. ThankYouRoman

      I’m happy to hear you reached out to him and got a great response.

      I’ve had a toxic jerkwad drain my confidence and remembering that every other boss thinks I’m awesome really helped heal after that ordeal.

      I hope you get a new job that appreciates you soon.

  23. confused...

    Wondering if anyone else has been in this situation.. I’m not very close to my manager (C-level) and she’s honestly not very close to anyone here.. sadly her husband is going through cancer treatment… this has caused some issues as while she should be on leave she keeps trying to work which isn’t working quite as well and is confusing everyone on her team and outside the group…

    but my real issue is… she now keeps talking about the situation and sharing with us in a very personal way about their situation… sending pictures from the hospital, sending updates to a website they are using to keep friends and family updated… and I honestly don’t know what to do.. I feel the need to chime in with others cause… she’s the boss and I don’t want to be the only one who doesn’t reply! I wish them well of course but I’m a private person and this feels very personal to me… and very odd.. not sure how to handle as much as one on one I try to take her cues when she’s around whether she wants to talk or wants to focus on work and express support when I can… she basically a stranger but I of course would want to see everything work out for them…

    I’m really uncomfortable… I’m waiting to hear on a work matter that I pinged her about and no reply… but did get a group text with a link to a website with a treatment update… a number of folks chimed in on the text but I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything…

    anyone deal with something like this and have any suggestions?

    1. Tara S.

      The best way to be supportive is to be understanding of her late replies. Try and figure out if there’s someone else you can ask your questions to (CCing her to keep her in the loop, where appropriate). Otherwise, I don’t think it’s required for you to write a personalized email or text. Give sympathy in person if she brings the treatment up, but other than that I think you’re ok. If you really feel like doing something, maybe circulate a support/sympathy card around the office to give to her.

    2. Celeste

      Oh, that’s so sad. I honestly think someone needs to talk to her about how confusing it is for her to be available to work in theory, but not in reality. Clearly her heart’s not in it at work. There needs to be someone else who can answer questions if she isn’t able to get back to people.

      1. Rose Tyler

        I would separate your two issues – that she posts frequent updates vs. you not getting answers from her that you need. About the first, you and she have different styles and that’s ok. I’d offer a periodic (like, once/month) generic email like “thinking of you and X and hoping all is well” but I would not feel pressured to respond to each update she sends.

        About the responsiveness, is she truly late with her replies (as in, taking days to respond to email or otherwise causing you problems) or just not as responsive as when she’s in the office full-time? I think it’s fine to ask her who you can go to when you need an urgent response, or if it’s appropriate, to close an email with “I’d recommend we do X because of Y. I know you’re out today so I’ll plan on moving forward with that plan by Friday unless I hear from you”. If she’s truly a black hole then someone really needs to talk to management about how the company can support her while still allowing work to get done.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Many serious illnesses now are a public event because in part our medical protocols are very demanding- go here for this test, go there for that doc, go over there for that med. So it feels like everyone in the world knows what is going on anyway. And the running around is exhausting. Once fatigued people can get looser tongues and really let out a lot of information.

      As someone who had a sick spouse, I can tell you first hand she does not notice your discomfort nor your lack of comments. There is just too much going on to keep track of such things. So many people do come forward that the ones who do not are not noticed.

      Perhaps you can ask if someone can fill in for her if anyone has questions, so not everyone is bugging her. This might actually be a kind act perhaps no one else has thought to appoint a fill-in for her when she is not there.

      If you really feel you must post, then look at what others are saying and say something similar. Keep it short, briefness makes it easier on you and your message will be fine.

      FWIW, I don’t always know what to say either. I found that many people don’t. I am not sure time makes it easier, I think we just get used to feeling tongue tied during times of illness.

    4. confused...

      Thank you folks for your comments and Not So New Reader I hope all is well with your spouse now.

      The issue here is she is not allowing others to cover for her… She’s afraid of losing her job and it drives a lot of her decisions… When people have covered when she could not do it at all she felt guilty but now that she is partially back she keeps trying to make the statement “I’m back now” in every way. Even talking on optional assignments that become complicated due to her husbands treatment schedule as he is seeking treatment at an out of state hospital.

      Because she is a senior exec there isn’t much others are empowered to do and were they to offer she likely would not accept but it’s a total chit show. She drives deadlines that she isn’t following up on and I’m not the only one who’s frustrated and confused. She missed a client call last week that she wasn’t required on, but she made a point to say she’d introduce the presenter to have me scrambling, calling and texting and finally shrugging my shoulders in front of her boss and others cause she was MIA.. later apologizing to the clients. Late that evening I got a text that it had been a bad day… And I’m frantically trying to ask about the following day’s client call so we don’t have more confusion.

      As her asst I’m doing my best to support her, even cover for her but… I guess I’m angry she is making this so much worse. We don’t have a close relationship and never have so it’s always been a challenge, working for her. I understand she’s in a tough situation, I lost both my parents to cancer so I get it… but… Working for her on her best day, before this crisis was already bad… Now… I don’t know what to say or do anymore. And her second in command is struggling too as other senior execs go to him when our manager may not be around but what can he do, he may then deal with attitude from our boss if they would have made different decisions or our boss feels out of the loop. I feel for 2nd, he’s on egg shells either way.

      Anyway, thank you, no easy answers of course. I just wish she would stop making things worse… It’s becoming unbearable.

  24. Sue

    I have started a new position almost 2 months ago in an admin support role (and it’s great!)
    The company is experiencing rapid growth and I am beginning to help fill a gap with IT support and assistance. I have no formal IT training and would love to become more knowledgeable so I can be successful and an asset to the company. I have been watching and reading many tutorials I find online, but am interested in perhaps earning an official certification, and/or taking courses. I have been trying to search and learn about available certifications, specifically with Windows 10 troubleshooting and support and Sharepoint. Would any of you wonderful readers be able to discuss if a MCSA certification is really worth the investment for my company and/or any other resources I should look into so I can present ideas to my supervisor. This is never an area I gave much thought to before now and would greatly appreciate some input. Thank you!!

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I’ve been in a similar situation, though it was less to do with rapid growth and more to do with my own interest in IT, but I have no related degrees and no certifications. I’m sure there will be others who disagree, but I think certifications are virtually meaningless in terms of practical improvement of your skills and knowledge.

      In addition to you watching and reading tutorials, I would highly recommend joining an online forum, slack, and/or mailing list related to Windows administration.

      I’ve both given help in and gotten help from people at other companies/orgs/schools, and that has been immensely helpful to me in terms of evaluating solutions, implementing best practices, and just plain learning the day-to-day stuff.

    2. Sleepytime Tea

      So I would start with some of the free training you can find online first, especially since you’re so new to the role and I am guessing you would want to ask the company to pay for the certification. They may be planning on hiring more people in that area and not interested in developing someone so new for something outside of their original plans for them and things like that since you don’t have background in that area. (I could be wildly wrong, but if you’re super interested in it then ask your boss if they would support you in spending some time learning those things.) If you’re finding the free tutorials and things helpful, as well as you’re enjoying it and would really like to continue in that area, AND you’re showing growth in that area that you can point your boss to as evidence that the investment would be worth it, then yes, an MCSA certification can definitely be worth the investment.

      1. Adaline B.

        Agree. It also might be worth the money to start with the prep book for the MCSA exams you’re planning on taking. At the very least, they’re usually super-informative and some even have practice exercises.

        I almost have my MCSA in SQL Server and I’ve found those exams to be quite a bit more rigorous than other certification exams I’ve taken. Not sure if that’s SQL directly or just the Microsoft way, but there’s my $0.02 :)

    3. Admin of Sys

      Windows system administrator for 15+ years – MCSA books are useful, but the actual certifications are still generally considered a ‘thing you do to get a job’ not a ‘thing you to do learn a skill’, at least in all the places I’ve worked. And a whole lot of the certification classes will teach the test, not the system.
      I would check to see if there are local groups / meetups / conferences etc for your specific tech interest, both for networking purposes and to see what the good local training options are.

    4. A Non E. Mouse

      I’m a little biased, in that all my formal IT training came *after* I’d been in IT a decade, BUT: I agree with Admin of Sys. Certifications tend to be things you do to GET a job, rather than to DO a job.

      That said, I would do free training courses first, and then approach your boss with “I’ve done X training on my own, and have helped the business in these specific ways the last 6 months. I talked with the head of IT and these three courses (links, descriptions and cost) are ones that she feels will help the company the most. I’d like to take these courses with an eye towards helping in IT more, what do you think?” and then see where you get.

      I have never paid for a course out of pocket at any company, although I have had to front some exam fees and then be reimbursed. I would actually ask the person in charge of IT what they feel would be most beneficial – they might have a way better idea of what’s to come, and can point you in a forward-looking direction for training.

      {Also, a dirty little secret: the vast majority of the time, I’m Googling for the answer. The field is so vast you simply cannot known everything, but you *can* know how to FIND everything. That skill (knowing where to find things) is very, very valuable in IT.}

    5. Gumby

      Is there anyone at the company that you can ask? They would know what they’d find most useful at any given time. Particularly as you are framing it in terms of being helpful to the company rather than hoping to move on to greener pastures. Plus! they might then pay for whatever training. It’s not a slam dunk since a lot of tuition reimbursement programs require it to be related to your job or a planned job move, but it’s worth finding out.

  25. Environmental Compliance

    My office is across the room from the Big Printer/Copier. This morning I got to listen to a group of people all trying to decide what the “1–>2, 2–>1” etc buttons meant. After about 15 minutes of me trying not to laugh I went out there and helped. Apparently the meaning of the buttons was a revelation, as was the button where you can ask the printer to staple the packet for you.

    In unrelated news, we got a new management company for the facility, so we were all let go and hired within about 30 minutes time. The new management company has way better benefits, a much better HR department, and way more employee resources, so I’m pretty excited about it. They even have their own EHS resource team! I’ve already talked to the new operations coordinator about 4x more in the space of a month than the old management company’s operations coordinator.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Thanks! I’m liking the new people so far, and I’ll really be liking the better benefits in about a week.

    1. kittymommy

      When I moved over to this job I was a little astonished my copier had a hole punch option. I went to go do it and turns out that since I don’t actually “need” to hole punch anything (and I don’t TBH), we didn’t spring for the extra option.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        A hole punch actually would be pretty awesome! I’m a little jealous….I’ve never had a job where the printer even had that option. It’s always been limited to stapling.

      1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs

        I’m assuming (there’s that word) that it’s for copying 1-sided documents to 2-sided copies, or copying 2-sided documents to 1-sided copies.

      2. Cristina in England

        Pretty sure the first is “single sided originals to double sided copies” and vice versa for the second.

  26. Environmental Compliance

    Oh, also – anyone have any good resources for VBA macro help? I’m trying to make a macro in Excel to send out an email with an attachment, and it’s not cooperating. I get the email prompts, but no attachments. No errors either. I tried MrExcel and Reddit, and nothing I can find online is helping.

    1. Nervous Nellie

      Hiya! I posted a link to a Stackoverflow dot com help page, but with the link it has probably gone to moderation. If Alison clears it it should pop up here soon.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        Thank you!!! I’ll try it out. Basically, if column H says Yes, I want the macro to send out emails to different people with different attachments, and I can get the emails but no attachments. The no errors part is flummoxing me. The emails are sent out probably 20 or more a day just for that type of attachment, which right now is just a lot of busy work dragging and typing, so I’m trying to make the process easier. Right now the process is more frustrating because the macro is smarter than me, lol.

        1. Admin of Sys

          Can you send the spreadsheet manually to outlook, just not from the macro? It’s quite common for organizations to block macro enabled spreadsheets from being sent through mail, due to the likelihood of them containing viruses.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            What I’m sending is actually a PDF, but the emails & file location are all in the Excel spreadsheet.

    2. Hello, I'd like to report my boss

      Ron de Bruin has great Excel automation and on automating attachments from Excel. I’ve put the link in my username.

      You can also ask on the Reddit Excel forum which is extremely helpful. Post your VBA code and someone might be able to fix it.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        I tried the de Bruin one…and I get even more errors. It does not like me for some reason. So far I also haven’t gotten a lot of help from Reddit. :(

        1. Hello, I'd like to report my boss

          What version of Windows (or MacOS), Outlook and Excel are you using? (some code isn’t compatible with different versions of Windows/Outlook/Excel)

          What errors do you get?

          If you could copy/paste your code into pastebin (search for it, you can upload text for others to see) and link to it from here, I can take a look.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            I have Office 2013, with Windows 7 Enterprise. All I get when I run it is the right emails popping up….but no attachments whatsoever. So I am assuming something is wrong with how I define my variable to get the file name from the cell, but since I don’t get an error, and it does it no matter what I do to define the variable…I’m stuck.

            I’ve pasted it here https://pastebin.com/zfm6AfGR and wish you many, many cookies for your help!!

            1. Hello, I'd like to report my boss

              I’ll have a look tomorrow, it’s now evening where I am, have a good one!

            2. Hello, I'd like to report my boss

              Hi! I got it working!

              The problem was with the line “getfile = Sheets(“Sheet1″).Range(rngOffset).Value”. The syntax was wrong. Because you had the line ‘On Error Resume Next’ , though, it just skipped to the next loop and didn’t show an error message.

              Replace that line with “getfile = rngOffset.Value” and it should (fingers crossed) work.

              Change .Display to .Send and it will send them all.

              I’ve dropped my new code into pastebin at : https://pastebin.com/wqjtCc9N

              Please let me know if it now works! It was interesting working on the problem.

              I’m not sure of how all the syntax of selecting ranges and setting a string to equal the contents of a cell works, but this might be useful: https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/291308/how-to-select-cells-ranges-by-using-visual-basic-procedures-in-excel

              1. Environmental Compliance

                Thank you so much for your help!!

                Now it tells me that the file name doesn’t exist, which is a step in a good direction rather than it not doing anything, lol. I’m thinking that’s a problem with the cell formatting, since if I type in what the path is with what getfile should be displaying, it works. *shrug*

  27. YRH

    I started a new job in September and my office is having a baby shower for one of my co-workers later this month. What is typical how much to spend etiquette? The email invite said where she is registered and that she needs diapers and wipes. Although this is an office that seems very into showers, the email made it clear that gifting is optional. This co-worker sits by me and has the same position and has generally been quite helpful since I started. How would etiquette change for a co-worker I don’t work with as closely or know as well? Thanks!

    1. Tara S.

      You can give as much or as little as you like. If you would like to give something small, a $10 grocery store gift card (or Target or somewhere she can buy diapers) would be great. If you want to give more, pick an item off her registry. But you don’t HAVE to do anything, other than probably signing the office card.

      1. Liane

        If you decide to get her diapers (or baby clothes), get the larger sizes–say, Medium diapers, 3-6 month size clothing. Many babies are born too large for newborn sizes, or can only fit them for a few weeks. Not to mention, they tend to outgrow diapers *just*after you’ve bought a case.

    2. Rose Tyler

      I would do $10 for someone I didn’t know well or $25 for someone I did. If that amount seems small, see if you can go in with others on a group gift. If it’s a bigger company and you truly don’t know the person (or if $ is tight) then feel free to skip.

    3. NewWorkingMama

      My go-to gift for soon to be parents that I don’t know very well is those colorful nesting cups. Let me tell you they are about $5 and they are the greatest toy ever once they start holding things. Pick those up, add a nice car, and there ya go. I feel good because the toy is legit amazing and simple, but thoughtful.

    4. Jack Be Nimble

      If you’re looking for more suggestions, you can’t go wrong with books! You can get board books/chewy books which are more baby-appropriate, but a copy of a picture book you loved as a kid is a thoughtful gift, especially if you write a lovely note about having enjoyed it as a kid and how you hope that the new baby will enjoy it someday, too!

    5. ThankYouRoman

      Always give what feels comfortable to you.

      You’re never obligated to give gifts, no matter the money or how well you know someone.

      I would keep it similar regardless of your closeness. You don’t want to hurt feelings by giving June, your close work buddy, a big gift and giving Nancy from production a couple books you got from the clearance rack.

      It’s absolutely okay to give June “more” privately though. Just not a public shower.

  28. BeanCat

    I’m learning the benefits of just being direct. I was raised to dance around issues which has led to me fighting to not end up passive aggressive like my mother.

    I was frustrated because a coworker is supposed to cover the desk and he…hasn’t. It started because I had to train him on the desk and he wasn’t ready for it. But now he is and I still wasn’t getting breaks. I was tired of it and decided I needed to just be direct.

    BeanCat: “Hey, what can we do to make it so you can cover the desk so I can take the breaks I need? You and I both get them and I’d like to be able to take mine now that you’re trained.”
    Him: “Oh, just send me a message whenever you’re ready.”

    I’m on my first break since :’)

    (this might be small but for someone who’s struggled to be direct all her life this is big for me!)

    1. Deloris Van Cartier

      Congrats! As someone who struggles with that as well, I find every time I ask for something and someone responds in a positive manner, I feel a little more confident for the next time!

    2. female peter gibbons

      ‘how to be assertive in any situation’ is a book that has changed my life, i would recommend it to anyone.

    3. Friday afternoon fever

      Congratulations! I totally get building something up in your head and then once you do it, it actually wasn’t that bad.

      A bunch of people & I cover for someone’s breaks on a set schedule and frequently other people just do not actually cover. Like..???? Let him take his break!!! Just do it! It’s once a month!

  29. Michaela T

    Wasn’t there a letter asking for ways to submit a cover letter if there isn’t a spot for it in the online application? I can’t find it – I’m normally fine skipping the cover letter, but this time around I really need for them to see one addressing my background and my last year of work.

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      If there’s only one place to attach something, I combine the cover letter and resume into one document and submit that in the resume slot.

      You can avoid formatting issues by just combining them as pdfs. If you don’t have a version of adobe that lets you do that, there are free online tools that will do it for you – the one I’ve used is pdfmerge [dot] com.

    2. Beehoppy

      Does the application allow you a spot to attach your resume? If so, just save the letter and resume as a single PDF file and attach that way.

      1. Michaela T

        Thank you! I thought I had seen that suggestion previously but was worried that submitting both would look like I wasn’t following instructions or something. It does seem like the best way to do it!

  30. CDM

    Happy Friday!

    We’re so fortunate to live in the US, where the federal government can compel you to serve on a jury for three months under penalty of law, and then not even pay you minimum wage for it. Where your employer legally can’t fire you or take away your benefits, but you can’t afford to pay for your health insurance or pay your bills with jury pay. (Hey, it will increase to $50/day after he’s served ten days! Woot!)
    I warned my 24 year old that he would get one chance to claim financial hardship and then he’d be stuck. But I expected he’d get a standard one-two week trial, or grand jury, which is 18 months, but only 2 days a month, so he’d still have income coming in. I in no way expected TWELVE WEEKS.
    And the courthouse requires business casual, like he can afford to go buy a new wardrobe to meet their standards.
    He can’t even get the time to talk to HR to find out exactly how bad this will be until Monday and then only because the court is closed for Veterans Day. At least that’s one more day of pay for him.

    This is so stressful not knowing how many thousands this is going to cost us to keep him out of serious financial trouble. His company will pay him for 3 or 5 days, he’s got another three of vacation, then it’s a financial cliff.

      1. CDM

        Knowing him, he either froze or didn’t think all the way through the implications of twelve weeks at jury pay instead of his wages. And it’s too late now that he’s seated, barring some documentable disaster striking him.

        I tried to prep him. I would have worked a lot harder to prep him if I thought this would happen. The overwhelming odds were that any jury he was put on would have meant maybe two weeks without pay, or two days per month (grand jury). Not twelve weeks

    1. ArtK

      Interesting. The Superior Court in Los Angeles asks you to tell them how many days your company will pay and they assign you priority in the pools. You can also tell the judge during voir dire and they will often dismiss you from the jury. How did he end up on a 12-week trial without someone asking those questions?

      BTW, the LA courts have records of what companies will allow, so lying on the form is a bad idea.

      1. CDM

        My experience in federal court was that the judge asked once who had a significant hardship, and excused maybe five people. Then the first 21 seated people in the room were put on the grand jury meeting two days a month for 18 months. A chorus of “but – hardship” arose, and the judge said “too late.”

        Put my son in a similar spot, and he’s now on a jury for twelve weeks and flat broke.

      2. OlympiasEpiriot

        Is CDM in California? NY doesn’t get into that detail. You’re asked during voir dire if there’s any hardhsips that would interfere, but, that’s it.

    2. Rebecca

      One of my coworkers has been hijacked into our state’s grand jury pool. She has a toddler, is married, works full time, and yet she has been compelled to sit through endless testimony for one week per month for 18 months straight. Fortunately, the company we work for pays us for our standard hourly rate while we’re on jury duty, and we have to hand over any measly pay from the court, so this could be so much worse. Yet another thing working people have to deal with. And it is not fair that the government is allowed to bankrupt a citizen for the “privilege” of serving on a jury. I looked up the rate set by my state: $9.00/day for the first 3 days, and then $25/day for every day after that, plus $.17/mileage rate. Imagine if your employer didn’t pay the worker’s regular salary, and this is all they received.

      As an aside, I would not want someone on my jury who was itching to get back to work. Just saying.

    3. Holly

      At least in my state, you’re allowed to postpone jury duty, and when you postpone, you can specifically ask to be on the regular jury duty list and not grand jury – unless you’re saying this is a 12 week trial. That is incredibly rare. I can’t think of a trial that has gone on for 3 months… unless it’s something absolutely groundbreaking?

      1. CDM

        There are plenty that go on that long. Some have gone on over a year. I haven’t seen anything mentioned in the city news recently though, so I can’t guess what this one could be.

        Google isn’t giving me good results for long jury trials, other than one in Manhattan civil court that lasted 72 days, over a 2008 crane collapse with two fatalities.

        And apparently it’s federal court jury selection this week for the El Chapo trial (boss of a Mexican drug cartel) but we aren’t in NYC, and that jury is going to be partially sequestered. Those jurors have my sympathy!

        1. Fulana del Tal

          Damn! I had to fill out the jury questionnaire for the federal court downtown recently and I completely forgot about the El Chapo trial.

    4. Natalie

      Wow, I had no idea juries (or some juries) had dress codes. I understand having some minimum standards but if I was going to be out of work for weeks being able to wear jeans all the time would be a helluva perk.

      1. Admin of Sys

        IANAL but court as a whole has dress codes, regardless of what your position is – but they’re generally imposed by the judge, rather than any specific policy. As such, a judge can require folks to wear a certain level of ‘appropriate’ clothing. That said, I don’t think a judge would be able to get a juror for contempt just for violating a dress code unless the juror was wearing slurs or obscenities or something.

        1. Arjay

          When I reported for jury duty, there was a young man there in a pair of shorts. He was sent home before ever leaving the jury pool room and I think told to report back and try again the following Monday.

    5. Doug Judy

      Hopefully HR will work something out with him. A long time ago I worked somewhere where they had no jury duty policy because they never had someone actually called and sit on a trial. While mine was short they did pay me for my time at my regular rate. It’s possible that they will give him more paid time because it is very unusual for a trial to last that long. If nothing else perhaps they will agree to keep covering his insurance benefits until he returns. They might stick to their policy but it would not hurt to ask they make an acceptation for this unusual circumstance.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about clothing, I think they mainly don’t want people to look like they just rolled out of bed, so dark jeans and a collared shirt should be ok.

    6. Roja

      Yikes, yikes, yikes. Talk about the minute chance of something like this happening… although that almost happened to me too earlier this year–never called up, then called up for a long and involved district court trial. Was one of the last two cut, I think, so I just barely squeaked out–it was good, since it was an 80 minute drive each way to the courthouse.

      (random advice following, ignore if not useful/wanted)
      Anyways, I assume the courts keep roughly business hours, so any chance for your son to pick up an evening or weekend gig for the three months? It would be rough, but short-term and might be well worth it. If you have one of the charities nearby that provides business clothes to people in need that might help too. Failing that, any friends who can loan him things temporarily? And failing THAT, I would think he could get enough clothes to get through a week at a local thrift store for less than $100–still a chunk, but not horrific.

      I’m sorry things are so rough for you and him right now. I hope things get better ASAP.

      1. CDM

        we’re an hour out of the city, but 90 minutes commute time with traffic or by train. He’s going to use the train, but I’m getting conflicting info on whether the feds will cover $7/day or his actual ticket cost which will be $205/month. Yesterday he was gone from 6 am to 6:30pm. His company does run 24 hours and he previously worked second shift (and started as PT second shift) so in theory he could put in four hours/day at work, but realistically, I don’t see him being able to sustain a 6am – 11pm day with a max of 6 hours sleep for three months.

        Someone pointed out to me that polo shirts make jeans look a lot more professional, which hadn’t yet occurred to me. So I’m going to scrounge up some from friends, and can also get them for cheap from certain stores and call it a good enough. It’s a small piece, but making that decision helps reduce the overall problem!

        1. Roja

          Ugh, that commute just makes everything so much worse. I don’t know what state you’re in but my state does cover mileage, and rather generously, or its equivalent, so I can only hope your state is equally healthy.

          Go polo shirts! That’s at least one big piece settled. Hopefully the company will work with him for the rest. Let him know we’re all rooting for him to make it through.

    7. OperaArt

      My experience with being on juries (3 so far, the longest was for 8 weeks) is that he may be able to work at least one full day a week, or work some partial days. It won’t be enough to cover his financial losses, but every bit helps.
      We in the jury often didn’t need to go in on Fridays, and sometimes were dismissed in the early to mid afternoons on other days.
      I’m so grateful that my workplace pays our full salaries and benefits when we’re on jury duty! My county pays its jurors $15 per day and $0.34 per mile.. one way.

    8. LKW

      Well I don’t like this advice but I’m going to give it to you anyway, the easiest way to get out of this situation is to do something very very stupid. If he goes into the jury room the first time and tells the other jurors that he’s made up his mind, someone would likely tell the baliff and he’ll get removed. Or he can send a friend request to any of the lawyers. I mean, super stupid but great way to get tossed from a jury.

      I’ve been called for Jury Duty three times and served on three trials. But they’ve been one week (or less) deals. I can’t imagine 12 weeks. That’s for federal employees and retired people to serve.

      1. CDM

        that’s slightly better than my idea of getting him hit by a bus. But then he can’t work, either. (but has short term disability, so hmmm….)

        I can’t come up with an injury that precludes jury duty but not warehouse work, lol. I’ve tried.

      2. ThankYouRoman

        You can be held in contempt for that kind of behavior since it’s over the top inappropriate and makes a mockery of the system. At most you can make yourself unappealing to the lawyers who will ask for your dismissal.

      3. neverjaunty

        That’s an easy way to get yourself into a worse situation, namely contempt of court.

        I’m still baffled this guy didn’t explain he had a financial hardship when the jurors were asked about hardships.

    9. CDM

      And I really, really, really wanted (still want) to call HR to ask 1) how many days they pay for jury duty and 2) how the continuation of his health insurance is going to work and if we have to pay just the employee responsibility or the full COBRA premium, because he can’t ask those questions until Monday.

      But I refrained. Entirely because of AAM. He’s 24. Even though I know we’re going to end up bailing him out significantly in the end, I need to sit back and let him navigate this as much as possible and see what solutions he comes up with. But I am going to go buy him a couple of more professional-ish shirts.

      I appreciate the comments, suggestions and sympathy. You all rock.

    10. Hiring Mgr

      I served on a jury for three months and also got paid $50/day….but that was in 1991! Not sure where you are in the US but that sounds outrageously low

      1. CDM

        I got paid $17/day for federal jury duty in 1990, which was a big bump over CT, which paid $8. $50/day in 91 was pretty generous. (sad to say). PA currently pays $9/day for the first three days. It’s ridiculous. Especially when you have to later pay income tax on that pittance.

    11. Tris Prior

      I actually live in terror of this. I know someone who was sequestered for weeks on a criminal trial.

      I mean…. sorry, but, are there people who WOULDN’T have financial hardship due to having to go without pay for 12 WEEKS? I guess so, I just don’t know any. I’m curious how that even works, and how you prove financial hardship – like, do you have to turn over your bank accounts and pay stubs so they can see that you don’t have the savings to cover being out of work for that long?

      1. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)

        That skews juries toward people who aren’t working for money–including retired people, some disabled people, and people who have run out of unemployment money (so the jury pay is better than they were getting). And a nontrivial number of retired and disabled people would have trouble with the essentially full-time hours plus commute.

        Yes, we need juries. Yes, that’s going to interrupt people’s lives. But damn it, the government/taxpayers can pay the judges, prosecuting attorneys, court reporters, and so on, we should increase jury pay.

      2. A-nony-nony

        My company pays you your regular rate of pay for jury duty, and lets you keep any fees you receive as a juror. CDM’s son might have been dismissed if he’d claimed hardship, but he didn’t, and the court would have no way to know that it’s a hardship unless he made that explicit.

      3. CDM

        Federal employees get paid their regular salary for jury duty without limitations.

        Some state or other government employees might, too, but I really don’t know.

        Only 8 states require employers to pay for jury duty, and five of those limit the obligation to 1-5 days. It appears that in Nebraska, Alabama and Tennessee that employers are on the hook regardless of length of jury service. I’m kind of surprised at AL and TN mandating full pay. States that lean more progressive like NY, MA CT and CO only mandate pay for 3-5 days.

    12. HR

      This sounds like a really hard time for him. But you can’t really blame the court when he didn’t speak up and say it was a financial burden. I work in HR and our employees usually just need a simple form letter from me to get out of jury duty for financial reasons. Or depending on the level of court they are required to show up the first day and then they call from court put me on the phone and I say “yeah they would miss out on tips or x pay” and they are off the hook right then and there no paperwork needed.

      1. Not So NewReader

        A doctor’s note would work also. I have done that twice due to back problems and family upsets.

        Maybe he won’t be there the full 12 weeks. I think they give worst case scenario so people gear up for the long haul. It might not be necessary?

    13. Aphrodite

      The jury thing is all messed up in this country. Last summer I got called, showed up, discovered the the criminal trial (a corporation was the defendant) might last as long as four months! While my employer will pay my salary and continue my benefits for as long as I am needed, there was no way I was willing to do that kind of time. Plus, the courthouse is downtown so free parking is either far, far away or you pay for it. And my job involves just my boss and me so it’s not as if it can be farmed out.

      Many people on here might fault me but I wasn’t going to do it. Getting a postponement wasn’t something I wanted either. So I waited until the first pool was narrowed down from about 48 people to less than a dozen. They sent us back to fill out a 35-age questionnaire. In it, I was able to explain how much I hated the company and why in more than one of my answers. I let all my loathing for their actions (or rather, inactions) spill out. Five days later I was notified I was being released from jury duty.

    14. Friday afternoon fever

      I had jury duty for 2.5 weeks and one morning heading in I tripped, landed on my hands and knees, ripped my only pair of jeans and some skin. Went to court with kinda ripped mildly bloody jeans. Nobody said a thing, not sure if they even noticed.

      The point being — I wouldn’t worry about the dress code so much. He doesn’t have to buy new clothes, he should just dress cleanly. Probably nobody will be even looking at him to evaluate his level of dress unless he’s wearing something really egregiously inappropriate.

      Plus, he has 12 other jurors to blend in with and I guarantee they won’t all be wearing slacks and button downs.

    15. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I’ve only been on a jury once, years ago, and I barely remember the process. I do recall my mom making me dress up. I’m always mildly concerned that I will have a summons sent to my parents’ old house and I will miss it because I’ve forgotten to update my address somewhere. Since I actually live overseas I’m sure I could get out of it but isn’t there a penalty for ignoring a summons?

      1. nonegiven

        Your parents should return the mail to sender.

        When my son got called while he was 1700 miles away at school, I just dropped in with the unopened envelope and told them he was away at school in [state,] “do you want his address?”

  31. carrie heffernan

    I am not looking for a new job, but got a message on LinkedIn from a rando saying they thought I’d be qualified for their open position.

    This is one of those times where like, hi, did you even GO through my profile? The job wants 2-5+ years of experience (I have over 10), so they’d probably laugh at me when I told them my salary requirements. Also, the job is near LAX and in all caps in the job description it says NO REMOTE WORK. Yeah, like I’m going to commute 30 miles in LA rush hour every day while taking a pay cut. Sign me up.

    1. Mazzy

      That’s the recruiters I usually get to. I make about a hundred and regularly get calls for jobs in the fifty to seventy thousand range. I really don’t get the logic. Then they act like I’d be taken a step up when it’s a lateral move or potentially slightly downwards. But I might also be under titled.

      1. irene adler

        Yeah, I’ve received some very “out there” job messages via LinkedIn.
        I think it’s a matter of simply appearing in their search because you have the requisite buzz words. And they are too lazy to read the profile before making contact.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      This is my reaction to recruiters trying to get me for collections jobs. Yeah, AR is listed because I’m a frigging Accountant with extensive bookkeeping skillz. I’m not taking a minimum wage job calling people about their delinquent medical bills.

  32. Washi

    Not looking advice per se, but curious if this is normal. A very well-liked employee retired about 6 months ago, and since then she’s visited the office almost once a week. She’s often taking various people out to lunch, but will stop in first to chat for 30-60 minutes. I like, her but it feels like a lot, and it’s really distracting because she has a naturally loud voice.

    Is this typical once someone leaves?

    1. Four lights

      It can be, depending on how long the person has worked there, how close they were to people, how bored they are at home. Once a week is definitely a lot, but when you consider that she used to see these people every day for years…

      If she’s too loud you could bring it up with a manager.

    2. fposte

      Not really, no. It happens occasionally with somebody struggling a bit with the transition, so it’s not unheard of, but she’s treating work as her social hangout. 6 months is also a long time for it to persist.

      I think you can ask her to move the socializing to another location so you can get your work done, and I might also bring up the frequency of the distraction to your manager.

      1. LKW

        This. If she wasn’t gleefully discussing retirement or if the company has mandatory retirement ages,she might be having a hard time moving forward. If work was a primary source of social contact it’d be tough to let it go.

        However everyone I’ve known lucky enough to retire ran away laughing and never looked back.

        1. Washi

          I’m actually pretty surprised at the frequency, since it was only partly motivated by health issues and mainly voluntary (there’s no mandatory retirement at my organization) and because she has a very active social life outside work. However I do think our work was a huge source of meaning for her since we do social services and maybe that’s what she’s missing.

          1. LKW

            Yeah – she might be searching for the next thing that gives her purpose. I recommend patience, if only because it’s kind of sad.

            But yeah… weird.

        2. fposte

          We have a pretty tight-knit workplace and there are former-employee groups who meet up for regular socializing, but visits to the actual office are pretty infrequent. (I think they wisely want to make sure nobody tries to put them to work.)

    3. tink

      My old manager has visited once or twice since she moved on, but the first was to pick something up that got sent after her last day and the second was because she happened to be in the area? Our person that retired earlier this year has not been back in the building since.

      So yes, this feels a little weird to me.

    4. ThankYouRoman

      I’ve seen it happen when people are particularly close to their coworkers. We had plenty of old workers coming back to see my old bosses. The bosses were mentors of shorts most often. So lots of lunch time random visits.

      But these sound distracting and every week is hella frequent for any visitor.

  33. Senorita Conchita

    What do you do when coworkers are pressuring you into dating a coworker because “you’d be so cute together!”?

    My coworkers noticed “Todd” and I acting awkward around each other. Now they’re acting like kids and go, “Oooooh” whenever Todd walks through the area or they like to tease me.

    I get nervous and awkward in general around guys, so my coworkers probably interpreted this as me liking Todd, but I get like this around *every* guy. It’s to the point where Todd seems uncomfortable around me now.

    I went to dinner with some other people and they were talking about how Todd is a good guy, etc. Other coworkers just stare or look at each other if we’re in the same room. It’s strange.

    I have bills to pay and a mortgage, so I can’t afford to lose my job over this.

    I think that Todd is funny, but he can be moody, so that’s not appealing to me.

    This whole thing is awkward, embarrassing, and uncomfortable!

    What do I do? How do I get them to stop talking about this?

    1. Four lights

      Tell them to stop and that it’s making you uncomfortable. If it doesn’t work, go to your manager and/or HR. I think this could be sexual harassment. I’m not sure, but it’s still not good.

      1. Tara S.

        Sometimes people think something is funny and will keep on with it if they don’t get explicit signals that you’re not ok with it. Otherwise decent people sometimes let this play on too long, so I think a quick “I don’t date at work, please stop joking about it” can let people know “oh, this thing I thought was harmless is actually making her uncomfortable, I’ll stop.” It sucks that body language hasn’t already clued them in, but I don’t think it’ll take much, unless they are actually jerks.

    2. carrie heffernan

      ugh what are they, all middle schoolers? You can say adamantly that you don’t fish off the company pier, OR this would totally be a situation where I’d make up a fake boyfriend to try and shut it down if #1 doesn’t work.

    3. fposte

      Be firm. “I’m not going to date Todd; please don’t talk about it any more, and please stop the sit-com stuff that makes me feel that that matters more than my work.”

    4. No Tribble At All

      Say you have a policy against dating coworkers — too much possibility for it to blow up in your face. Sorry they’re doing that to you.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago

      “We are not living in a rom-com or a sitcom and I have no intention of dating any coworkers. Please stop making a professional relationship awkward.”

    6. Myrin

      “Todd certainly is a friendly guy but I’m not interested in him. Can you please stop talking about this?”, said earnestly and adjusted however strongly or lightly to suit your style/personality.

      Your coworkers are behaving like unreasonable twelve-year-olds. You don’t start dating someone just because you fit together aesthetically and because the other person is “a good guy/gal”. What utter nonsense!

    7. Psyche

      Be very direct. “I know you think this is funny but it really isn’t to me. It is making me very uncomfortable at work, and to be honest it is making me feel uncomfortable being around you. This isn’t middle school. This isn’t a rom-com. This is my life. I have no interest in dating Todd and I need you to stop.”

    8. LJay

      Ugh, I’ve been in this situation before.

      Right down to the moodiness.

      I just ignored it – just refused to acknowledge them making noise or comments or the implication in any way – and the guy got a new job a couple months later so then it went away on it’s own. But that’s probably not a viable solution in your case.

      I wish I had more advice, but I don’t. Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in this situation and it truly is crappy and uncomfortable.

      1. Senorita Conchita

        There are some new younger women starting in his section, so I’m hoping the attention will shift to them, instead of me.

    9. Sleepytime Tea

      “I don’t date people from work.”
      “It’s very nice of you to think so, but I’m not interested in discussing my dating life at work. I keep my personal life separate.”
      “You’re right, Todd is a lovely person, however we are just coworkers and it will stay that way.”
      “Please stop suggesting that I date Todd. It’s not funny or cute, it’s just uncomfortable. We’re not teenagers and I’m not interested in dating my professional colleagues.”

    10. LilySparrow

      “Knock it off. That stopped being funny a long time ago.”

      “Who I date or not is none of your business. I’m done talking about this.”

      “Look, I already told you to cut it out. Why are you being so obnoxious?”

      Now, I realize that those type of comments aren’t going to foster work friendships, and you probably aren’t comfortable saying them. That’s fine. But that strong of an attitude is completely justified and appropriate in this situation.

      So if you have that subtext in your head, I’m sure you can find the wording that fits you.

      You’ve done nothing wrong and they are choosing to be giant flaming assholes. Internalize that knowledge, and even a well-placed, “Seriously???” can suck the fun right out of it for them.

    11. Not So NewReader

      Cue the boss in on what is going on. Then add, “Here is what I plan to do. If this does not work I will be coming back in to talk to you.”
      To them you might consider saying, “Because of the awkwardness comments like that make, the government put sexual harassment laws in place. I don’t think you intend to create awkwardness, but it does. However this not only creates awkwardness for me but also for some folks who must watch this every day. I don’t date people I work with. Considering these facts I think we can agree that there is nothing to talk about here and we can stop these types of comments now.”

      If you ask them to stop and they push back, just say, “I am not comfortable with these comments. Just because others think they are funny/benign/whatever does not mean that is what *I* think also. I am asking you to stop, can you do that?”

  34. Say It Ain't So

    I’m having a phone call this afternoon with a hiring manager who reached out to me about an open position. I don’t know her personally, but the position is at my alma mater. I love my current job and organization and am not actively looking to leave or job hunt, but said I would be willing to learn more about this position.

    Am I supposed to have my resume ready? Is this an informal interview of sorts, even though I’ve not applied or indicated any interest in applying prior to them calling me? I’m not sure what to prepare for!

    1. Rose Tyler

      I would print out the most recent version of your resume (probably the one you used to get your current job) to refresh yourself on those highlights, plus be able to talk about your current role and recent successes. I’d also think about what questions you’d want answered to know if you’d be interested in the role, so you can ask them on the call. Beyond that I’d just roll with it as a professional phone meeting – no in-depth interview prep needed, but it’s also not a super-casual chat.

    2. Sleepytime Tea

      Yes, have your resume ready, dress like you would for an interview, etc. If you do end up being really interested in the position, you’ll kick yourself for not making the best first impression possible. There’s no downside to being over prepared in this situation.

    3. PFC Micah Hayes

      I know it sounds all Pollyanna and whatnot, but in all seriousness: you should *always* have your resume ready. It doesn’t need to be current – you can always say “I really need to bring this up to date” – but you should always have something ready to email or to print whenever an opportunity arises.

      In short: Resume? Yes. Informal interview: Sure sounds like it.

      All that said: be wary if they contacted you from out of the blue. Just me, but in talking with this person, the first thing I would do is nail down that they are actually a hiring manager at whatever institution they claim to represent (and that they’re not some recruiter with questionable ethics who is wasting your time).

    4. Midwest writer

      I’m a little late, but I hope you’re still checking in, just in case.
      I just went through this about a month ago. My conversations all ended up happening by phone and she never asked to see my resume, but if you’re going in in person, yes, I’d take it.
      I ended up accepting the job, but first I made a list for myself of the things I’d need to get to leave a job I really enjoy. For me, those were not losing all paid vacation (because some jobs make you accrue and start over), not losing my ability to work remotely, not needing to move, plus more money. The interviewer ended up coming back with all of those, plus a few things I hadn’t thought about. Ask lots and lots of questions, and look to see if this job advances you to the next level in what you want to do career-wise. That can mean all sorts of things to different people, obviously, but for me it was a chance to be involved directly in managing the newspaper in a few years, on a small scale at a very small newspaper.

  35. Ryan Howard’s White Suit

    I was laid off a few weeks ago. My organization is remote and the laying off was done by senior staff and not my direct supervisor. Since then I’ve heard from other people, but not from my supervisor. Our last communication was a meeting two days before my laying off where they talked about how I did a great job and planned out future work. The termination was effective immediately, so I didn’t have the opportunity to tie loose ends or communicate anything. That’s frustrating, but the larger issue is emotional: we had what I thought was a good relationship and mutual respect. I know they didn’t have a hand in decision making, so I’m just kind of perplexed and a little hurt.

    1. Tara S.

      I would reach out to your boss with your personal email, just a quick note along the lines of “hey, sorry I didn’t get to talk to you since all the sudden layoff stuff. I just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed working with you and thank you for all your support! Best of luck for the future.” Now they have your personal email if they want to contact you in the future, plus who doesn’t want to get a nice note like that? Also maybe add them on LinkedIn.

  36. School Inclusion Specialist

    Someone is stealing things from my desk/office. And I think it is a co-worker. Things have gone missing during times only adults are in the school. Most that are going missing are things that I wouldn’t think to lock up–a book (an important reference for my job), my name plate on my desk, a pack of pens inside a drawer in my desk (discovered this today–hence the rant).

    My laptop charger went missing (between the end of parent night and the next morning). So when I bought the replacement, I also bought Tile trackers and will be attaching one to the new charger.

    As a person who both is a little disorganized and works hard to see things positively, it took me a while to realize that it probably wasn’t me misplacing things and even longer to get mad. But now I’m f—ing pissed and want to set up cameras around my desk.

    1. Tara S.

      I have no advice, only support, I would be furious about it too (it may not be a huge deal in the scheme of all things, but it’s a breach of trust! WTF!)

    2. Lil Fidget

      A nameplate?? that is extremely odd. I’ve worked in offices where valuable things get lifted sometimes, and lots of offices where random things like office supplies or chargers might be grabbed if someone was in a pinch and desperately needed one. But your personal nameplate? That is like, there’s kleptomaniac around, or someone is deliberately messing with you.

        1. School Inclusion Specialist

          Yeah, that was when I had my “ah ha” moment and realized I wasn’t misplacing my things and someone was taking them.

          I switch back and forth between hoping the Tile works and being horrified that it might.

          1. Windchime

            I love Tile trackers. I have one on my keys and another on my work badge. They work great, but you do have to be within a decent proximity for them to work.

            I had someone stealing diet Coke from the case under my desk once. I finally put a note on the case, saying, “Please stop stealing my pop. It isn’t yours.” The stealing stopped. (It’s probably not always going to work like that, but I feel like the thief got called out and embarrassed, so they stopped.)

            1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe

              Tiles can work with the larger community — if you opt in, you can anonymously use other users’ connection to find your items. (And if someone finds their item based on your connection, you get a nice little message saying so! No details, but just letting you know that your Tile account helped someone find their stuff.)

              I have a co-worker whose work keys (with a Tile on them) were stolen from her car, among other items. She pinged the Tile, which was, obviously, outside of her own range, and within about 2 days, her keys pinged back at a police station.

              Without that, she probably wouldn’t have gotten them back, because there was nothing particularly identifiable about them, but because she was able to ping back to them, she was able to go to the station and get them back.

    3. Rose Tyler

      I would talk to your supervisor. The charger cord is $ and someone going through your drawers is a big problem.

    4. RabbitRabbit

      They make little cameras that are as small as those USB plug adapters to charge phones/etc off of. Look on Amazon.

      I sympathize. Nothing has gone missing on our desks that I know of, but a few lunches have disappeared from the fridge, and in the off hours (so it’s either housekeeping or security) people will sit at our desks, use phones/computers, etc.

    5. The Rain In Spain

      Have you reported this to anyone? Or just asked co-workers if anyone’s being ‘borrowing’ things from your desk because several things have gone missing?

      1. EddieSherbert

        +1 I’d start here. Maybe someone who is a bit dense is just borrowing them and didn’t realize it’d be an issue (NO IDEA why they’d need your nameplate…)

      2. School Inclusion Specialist

        I’ve done both.

        My supervisor offered to buy me a locked box, but none of the things that have been taken are things I would put in a box. The people who work near my space say they don’t know where anything is.

        1. female peter gibbons

          For interest/curiosity’s sake

          1) one time coworkers set up a camera in the kitchen area to see who had been stealing food. Cut to us all watching around a monitor as the female janitor went through the fridge and happily munched on other people’s apples, bagels, and more.

          2) One time a coworker’s prized action figures went missing from his desk. Cut to, a few weeks later, another mortified coworker bringing them back the office from her house, because when her 7 and 9 year old boys visited, they took them and brought them home.

          1. WellRed

            Oooh, that janitor one is tough! It’s totally wrong of her but then you wonder if she’s food insecure ( dislike that phrase). The other one made me laugh..yet another reason not to have your kids at work.

        2. valentine

          If you don’t want to replace stuff, why not put everything portable in a lockbox? Or can you get a locker? If the trackers work on other items, go for it. Can you have a schoolwide silent scavenger hunt for the items? The nameplate seems like the easiest to find.

  37. Amber Rose

    Two weeks after I started, I’m finally almost done my audit (on page 100 out of 130 of the write up). Despite my best efforts to warn people that I would NOT be available until I was done, I constantly had people bugging me about stuff we’re out of, emails they sent me, orders that needed processing, new hires, and last minute stuff they forgot about that needed to be done RIGHT NOW. To the point of walking in on interviews and threatening my vow of confidentiality that I swore before a government official. So something that should have been done last week is not going to be done until this afternoon, and I am concerned the results are not totally… good. :/

    As a result of me utterly boycotting all phone answering and non-critical order processing for these two weeks though, they are now seriously considering hiring a secretary. I think they realized just how MUCH work it is to run a department and play secretary and do sales now that they’ve had to share that task among other people, especially since we’re sickeningly busy. Like, just unbelievably overwhelmed with orders. So maybe I’ll have someone to take the edge off my volumes of work eventually. I hate answering the phone, it interrupts my train of thought every time.

    It’s amazing though, how the best way to get respect sometimes is to just stop doing things.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Good for you–best part is no one can complain that the audit shouldn’t be your highest priority. And now that they have seen the results of you being unavailable, I’m sure they’re imagining the results of you winning PowerBall!

  38. Workerbee

    My employee is a broken record, but also demoralized. How can I help her?

    I inherited this employee in February when I shifted departments. She’s been at the company for 20 years to my 6. She’s perhaps a little older than I am, but I really don’t know.

    I really feel for her. She’s a hard worker stuck in the kind of job that truly helps our customers and earns their gratitude. She loves helping our customers, but her role doesn’t seem to get much respect internally–and nor does she.

    When I found out I would be managing her, I spoke with her previous managers. I saw a consistent tendency toward eye-rolling, sighing, and a general sense of giving up on her, while also not really tapping into all the things she could be capable of doing. She’s in the job she’s in and nobody really seemed interested in helping her grow.

    I quickly saw that about 3/4s of the stuff she’s been doing had been dumped on her because nobody else wanted to do it, and because they could very loosely tie it to her official job description. I removed and reassigned that 3/4s, got her working on a project that appeals to her creative side (that she absolutely loves, yay!), and have been working to put other opportunities in her way that will help show people who have the budget and decision-making power that she is more than Just Employee-Name.

    So. One of the projects she’d worked on before I got to her was one she really got deep into and really liked. It then stalled for two years due to Big Boss (In)Decisions.

    I joined the department and was immediately handed this same project to oversee with my new-to-me employee on the team. We got the project all the way up to approval by my boss when a major business-direction-changing decision rocked the company. Project stalled again! It’s not forgotten, however, and will be slotted back in as we work our way through the new high-level umbrella stuff.

    My employee did not take it well at the time and months later, still isn’t. To her, this is personal. And she finds a way to bring it up at every 1:1 meeting we have. She can be pretty crafty about it, too; just when I think we’ve made it through our session without it being brought up once, there it comes.

    I’ve tried to put it into perspective for her. I clearly state that this is JUST postponed, not forgotten, and neither has her role in it. In fact, I was very recently able to share that my boss told me she’d have a stronger, more pivotal role in this and other things when we get all the other stuff well under way. And that I want her to focus on the projects she does have while we work toward shaping a career plan for her and helping show (and showcase) her skills.

    She listens and nods and says she understands…but continues to see it as “No.” She sees it as her being shot down. She sees it as yet another promise that was once again not kept. There are sometimes tears.

    And I get it. I do. I’ve seen how she’s been sat on for a long time in this company. I know that this is by far not the first time she’s been told Yes for something she was excited about, only to have it suddenly disappear.

    But I also know I can’t manage her emotions for her, and I can’t make things happen that are out of my control.
    I’d now like to stop her outright from talking about this particular project every time we meet, but I’m not sure the best way to handle it.

    Is it as simple as just telling her the subject is off the table for now, and being my own broken record until she gets it? I confess I don’t want to be seen as just another manager who hasn’t listened to her, but maybe that’s something else I’ll just have to risk.

    1. Mouse in the House

      I think you’ve done all you can for her. Explain that you were given this project under the assumption that it was going to move forward, not be stalled, and while it’s unfortunate that it is stalled again, them’s the breaks. Heck, I’ve had a project stall twice, and have our CEO punish our department by not allowing us to hire new employees, which means I’m taking on way more work than before, but I don’t feel so demoralized that I cry about the stalled project.

      I think telling her that the subject is off the table is all that you can do. Perhaps tell her that you want to see if the higher-ups will re-open it, but until that happens, she needs to let it go and focus on other things.

      Alternatively… if she’s feeling like other managers haven’t listen to her, do you think it would be helpful to ask her to problem-solve her own situation? Like, “It sucks that you can’t work on X project, but is there another one that you’d be interested in handling? What initiatives do you propose to work on that would advance our work at ABC Teapots, Inc.?”

      1. Workerbee

        Ugh, I’m sorry you have to put up with that kind of CEO.

        I like your problem-solving scenario! She definitely loves to research & get in the details.

    2. CDM

      I think maybe the way to go is to acknowledge what you’ve said here.

      Jane, I know you perceive the postponement of Project X as another broken promise by management. I know that no matter how many times I assure you it’s just postponed, that you aren’t going to be secure in that belief until it actually happens. There’s really nothing more I can do to convince you that it will happen at some point, until it actually happens, and right now, trying unsuccessfully reassure you is taking time away from other things we need to focus on.

      Probably works best if you can immediately bean dip into – what’s your status update on CurrentProject?

      Oooh, on reflection, I’m changing my answer. Take control of the subject. Start every 1:1 meeting with a no-news update on project X.

      Jane, I want you to know that nothing’s happening on ProjectX but management and I are still committed to it and it’s on our radar. Now, what’s your status update on CurrentProject?

      1. CDM

        I do think telling her the subject is off the table is just going to make her think that it’s never going to go anywhere. But a brief, matter-of-fact acknowledgement that it’s still stalled but not dead, without letting it devolve into tears or recriminations would be reassuring.

        1. Workerbee

          I like both your suggestions! I think I can combine them, too…*noodling*

          The no-news + not stalled + redirect variant, and I can jump in with your first part if I get the “I just wish” or “Yeah but.”

          And then use something like “I need to know you can accept this at least for the purposes of our meetings so we’re using our limited time effectively.”

    3. WellRed

      To her, this is personal. And she finds a way to bring it up at every 1:1 meeting we have. She can be pretty crafty about it, too; just when I think we’ve made it through our session without it being brought up once, there it comes.

      I think maybe there’s additional reasons why this is employee is stuck that are squarely on her shoulders. Tell her it’s off the table for now and you are through discussing it.

      1. Workerbee

        I was thinking that she does have to meet me at least halfway with her acceptance of things, and not derailing our meetings.

    4. Emily S.

      I really don’t know what the best course is, but I want to say that it sounds like you’re being very supportive and managing her extremely well. I would be thrilled if I had a manager like you, tbh.

      I know this would be tough, but it seems like you might just have to firmly state that because this project is on the back burner indefinitely, it needs to be off the table until you say it’s time to discuss it again. But that is so much easier said that done!

      1. Workerbee

        Thank you for that!

        I have been trying to absorb and apply all the excellent advice I’ve read here over the years from Alison & the commentariat, as well as that over on Captain Awkward. Work can be very personal.

    5. Kathenus

      Is it possible to get a general timeline from your boss for how/when this project might move forward? Or even schedule quarterly official updates with your boss on it, even if the update is no progress at that time? Then you share these updates with the employee? This might help by 1) keeping it on your boss’s radar so she can help keep it moving forward as soon as it can, 2) setting up open communication and transparency with your employee about the project, and 3) having scheduled check-ins on this specific topic might help keep it off her every meeting agenda approach that she has now.

      Separately, have you asked specifically what her solution is to the current situation, since neither you nor she have the authority right now to move the project forward? If she acknowledges that the only solution involves things outside of either of your control, maybe it will help reset her expectations that anything in your one on one’s is going to be able to impact this project’s status. It may not affect her unhappiness with the current situation, but maybe she’ll realize that continuing to stress over something she (and you) have no control over is only making her unhappy. A mental reset coupled with scheduled updates on this specific topic might help ratchet down her continual focus on this day to day.

      1. Workerbee

        Oooh. I’m pondering as I type this. At risk of info-dumping here–

        The umbrella project that capsized the other project is still in its infancy. There was a big presentation on it very recently, with everything laid out from workstreams to deadline, where the presenter invited people to poke holes in it where needed. Enough holes were poked that the entire project and the deadline itself went back to committee. Last I heard, they changed the name of the project to fit the changed scope. *grinning*

        My employee is not yet part of any of this; it’s all high-level at this stage, and then eventually practically everyone in the company will be drawn in. In addition to her unhappiness over her stalled project, she believes she should be consulted with this new project right now, and so I’m trying to manage her expectations. With this albatross, though, I don’t yet have a concrete time or even a concrete plan to share with her because the higher-ups don’t yet know what they’re doing.

        My boss is closer to it than I am, so I can at least ask him when he thinks the next update will be, and I can set that as a scheduled check-in with her.

        I love your mental reset idea; I will see what she says.

        1. valentine

          She’s way too attached to and possessive of these projects. The postponed one may stay in limbo, so, no more promises, and tell her no more bringing it up. Bringing it up yourself would just reinforce her weird relationship to it. It’s like she doesn’t agree with what is/n’t her call to make. And be wary of presenting things as us vs them. It doesn’t serve her to white-knight for her against the baddies. Are you giving her too much detail? Does she need to know who said what or just that TBTB, including you, have decided xyz? There’s no point banging on about things outside her sphere of influence.

    6. BluntBunny

      Could you just stop her and say “I understand your feelings and have not forgotten is there anything else you would like to discuss?” Or say I do not have anything further to add/share on this or I don’t have any news I will update you when I hear something there no need to keep asking.

      1. Juniantara

        At the risk of being too harsh, keep an eye on this behavior. If these sort of strong reaction to project setbacks, especially an emotional reaction to normal business activities, is part of her normal behavior pattern, that may explain part of her reputation inside the company.

        1. Workerbee

          “That may explain part of her reputation inside the company.” – I believe it does. I’ve found a couple substantial projects for her to channel her caring/passion into, yet I’ve also found that these don’t seem to be enough.

          @BluntBunny, it may come down to that kind of hard stop, indeed.

    7. Not So NewReader

      “Jane, we have a small problem here. We end up in these circular conversations where I tell you a project is on hold you say okay then later on seem to indicate that you do not believe the project will be revived.
      I am trying to help you find a path through your disbelief but I seem to be failing. What can we do to stop these circular conversations?”

      Then stop and just wait for her answer.
      It could be that no one has ever explained business norms to her. It’s normal for projects to move to the back burner as another project becomes more important. It could be that she is very burned out and her only solution is to leave the job.

      Honestly if everyone I worked with disrespected me to this degree here I would leave the job. You seem to be the only friend/advocate she has in the place. If I were in your spot I would be pointing out that I have done x,y and z for her because I DO understand the mechanics of what is wrong here. But I can’t move Mt. Everest in one day nor one week or month. It will take lots of time. And it will require her to pull herself together and override her own disbelief. You can’t do that for her, you can’t console her hard enough to make her disbelief go away. Only she can do that.

      1. Workerbee

        “It could be that no one has ever explained business norms to her.”

        I’d not thought of that aspect at all. I’ll use some language to that effect, and hopefully it’ll start to seem far less personal.

        And yes, I do need her to either work to get past her disbelief or at least set it aside for this particular recurring meeting. Baby steps!

  39. Business Cat Is Overwhelmed

    I recently left a full time admin job for health reasons, and took a part time job at a local non-profit. My main duties have been reception, light filing, and some special creative projects like designing posters and helping with event displays. But now I have been asked to complete a large project that I really feel is outside of my purview. My boss wants me to go back through years and years of files and pull specific documentation, and discard a lot of the remaining docs. Then she wants me to go back through the past three or so years of financial docs and scan them into the computer, creating a new filing system. This is exactly the kind of work that I specifically tried to escape by leaving my last job, and I was up late last night stressing out about it. Now I’m feeling frustrated and a bit taken advantage of, and I’m not sure how to address it, or if I should just suck it up and do the project. Any advice for how to address this with my boss would be so helpful!

    1. Tara S.

      This is definitely the kind of thing I did as an admin, and as a boss I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to an admin, even a part time one. Is there something specific about this type of work that stresses you out?

    2. WellRed

      This sounds normal to me. Is it that it sounds too tedious for you? Are you afraid you don’t know what to discard?

    3. Alisanora

      Unfortunately I think you’ll probably have to do the project. If you’re an admin/receptionist then that kind of thing is generally expected. To be honest, I’m not clear on what there is to address.

      If you think you would be unable to do this for health reasons, then bring it up. If you don’t think you have the right knowledge, then ask for her guidance. But I don’t think you’re being taken advantage of.

    4. zora

      Don’t just suck it up!!!
      If this is about health issues (that’s what I’m assuming), then be upfront with your boss and specific. “I really want to help, but there are certain things I can’t do, I can’t lift, or carry or, etc.” Be really specific about which parts of the project you can’t do and which things you can, they will probably be able to split the pieces up and have someone else help with the others. Any even marginally good boss doesn’t want you to hurt yourself or make yourself ill to do a part-time job! But they don’t know what you haven’t told them, so be upfront and advocate for yourself!

      And include language about how you definitely want to help however you can, but these are the things you can’t do. If they are mad at you for being honest about your physical limitations, they are terrible people.

    5. Kathenus

      Following up on zora’s comment, can you parse out what parts of the project are stressing you out? If there are only one or two aspects that are causing this, there might be flexibility in those parts or getting assistance for these areas. Figure out what specifically you’re having a problem with, and it might be easier to solve than the whole project being the issue. Reading the details, the one part that I’d have a concern about is the discarding of documents. So if it was me, I’d want to separate out the ‘non-specific’ documents but have another person review them to decide if they are appropriate to be discarded or not so decision wasn’t solely on me. There might be a solution that’s somewhere between doing the project as is and not doing it at all.

  40. Goomba

    Question: i don’t feel like going to our corporate Xmas party but I hear in past parties the corp office gave extravagant gifts like Beats headphones for all employees who attended. Would it be considered rude for me to inquire if I still get a gift even if I don’t attend party?

    1. Amber Rose

      I think it’s fair to assume you wouldn’t. Gifts given out at parties are usually part of the entertainment for the night and also an incentive to be there, not something that just goes to employees regardless.

      I don’t think it would be rude to ask, but I also think the optics of doing so might not be a good thing.

      1. Beehoppy

        Agreed. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a gift that didn’t go to the party, and it will read like you care more about the material rewards than building bonds with your colleagues. Don’t ask.

    2. Namast'ay in Bed

      Ha I totally get where you’re coming from. I would subtly ask coworkers (in a casual, off-hand manner), but definitely not anyone higher up who might be offended/hold it against you.

    3. Holly

      Not only rude, but very out of touch – clearly the gift is not just a reward for employees but an incentive to attend.

      You could always stop in for a bit and leave within the hour.

      1. Boo Hoo

        Ya you are basically saying that you can’t be bothered to spend time with them but want the pricey gift.

    4. Workerbee

      I don’t read this as rude; we have no idea what corp environment Goomba has to exist in or whether it’s a good fit. Spending off-hour or off-the-clock time with employees one only tolerates to pay the bills wouldn’t fill me with glee either. But here there’s the promise of something that could lighten the load a bit, however perceived as ‘material’–yet still with the cost of having to grin & bear it for an hour or more.

      Not to speak for you, Goomba! I agree it’s unlikely that the gifts will be held over for employees who don’t attend. Sometimes you get a kind office manager type who will remember you, but also you might have to be that person’s crony.

      1. Namast'ay in Bed

        I’m with you on this one, I don’t agree with the people who are calling Goomba rude and out of touch, especially without knowing their office culture. I think there’s nothing wrong with determining whether or not receiving something nice is contingent on doing something unpleasant. I can also imagine a scenario where gifts are gifts because the company wanted to do something nice for their employees, not bribe them for their attendance. (But perhaps I am too optimistic and out of touch with that thought ;-). )

        So at face value there isn’t anything wrong with the question, but realistically some people might find the question rude, and that’s something to be aware of. I think it’s possible to present it in a way that isn’t rude, but genuinely information seeking. It sounds like this is your first holiday party with the company – I’d ask some coworkers about what these things are typically like. If it’s an after hours event (which it sounds like it is) you could frame it as a “I have a conflict that evening, is it worth rearranging my schedule/missing out on my commitment to make the party?” (sitting on your couch is a commitment enough!), that seems like a natural opening for someone to say whether or not there are attendance-contingent benefits beyond food and “fun”.

    5. Goomba

      Thank you Workerbee! It looks like I stand to lose more than I can gain by asking. Like Amber Rose says, because of the optics and how asking may be perceived by higher ups.

      Just to give a little bit of context, the party is going to be on a Saturday evening, an hour and a half commute from where I live. I have to use public transport or Uber/Lyft because I don’t own a car, and arrange for childcare for my elementary age kid.

      I work on a client-site situation so don’t really get to mingle with most of the folks in the corporate office on a day to day basis.

      I do get it that gift = attending in most situations. Just wondering if there could have been a way around that given what it will take for me to attend (commute, childcare, etc.). Thanks all for the advice and feedback!

      1. Holly

        I think it’s a cost benefit analysis for you. Do you want to arrange childcare and commute just for Beats headphones? It seems the real benefit is to network with people in the company that you don’t normally get to interact with. If all you’re interested in is the gift, I’m not sure it makes sense.

      2. Namast'ay in Bed

        Oh dang, considering it will be a true hardship to attend, I think you’d definitely be able to ask if it’s worth a 3-hour commute and paying for childcare without looking rude. If it were me, I wouldn’t want to do that unless there was some serious networking opportunities or a reallllly good gift, and I think people would be understanding.

        Though I suppose you still run the chance of pearl-clutching and “how dare you not sacrifice everything for the company”, so that’s up to you to know your audience.

        1. Goomba

          Thank you Namast’ay! Yeah, it definitely is a situation where I have to read into and know my audience.

          1. valentine

            Don’t go. They might order enough of the gift for everyone and the difference is just where you were when you received it, or there will be extras and your supervisor will grab some for your department. See if any large shipments come in pre-party and be attuned for talk of the party planners having to transport it to the party.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        Now that I’ve heard THAT part. It sounds like it’s “only” the logistics of lengthy trip + childcare keeping you from the event. So…would you consider staying at a nearby motel with your child if you could find a co-worker who lives nearby whose teen regularly babysits? Obviously some children don’t travel well…mine was colicky as an infant then went through years of getting carsick so I could not have done this. But there’s always a chance someone might say yes.

        It’s not totally crazy… We’re actually thinking of asking one of my husband’s co-workers if they want my daughter to babysit their child at our house the night of the company party. She knows where to find everything, and if anything comes up I can get Uber home.

  41. Mimmy

    So something happened at work yesterday and I let it get to me.

    There was an incident with one of our students. I was not personally involved, but I did hear a tiny bit of the beginnings of this student’s freakout. It apparently escalated from there and the student was sent home. As I said, I did not personally deal with the situation, but I could tell that those who did were a bit frazzled, including the assistant I was helping. Maybe it was just a culmination of things (this student has been a problem as soon as they started our program), but I was alarmed at how much I let the situation get to me even though I was not directly involved. It was driving me nuts – I finally asked a coworker (in private) what the blankety-blank happened.

    I know many workplaces can have occasional crises, especially when you are dealing with vulnerable populations (our program is designed for adults with a specific disability, but some present with additional challenges), but if I’m not directly involved, why the eff am I so impacted? It’s happened to me before, and it worries me. Everyone suggests mindfulness and all that good stuff, but I’m not very good at that.

    I definitely feed off of whatever environment I’m in and the mood of those around me. If the mood is positive, I feel good. If there’s tension, then I feel tense. If there’s sadness, I feel sad.

    This is weird, right?

    1. Pinkie Pie

      It’s called being empathic. Lots of people in social services tend to be that way. My advice, after 14 years in human services, is to work on your destressers. I also literally have a spot outside of work that I mentally left all my work related thoughts there. I drove past it going to work and picked up my thoughts there as well. I’d play audio books to block the thoughts on the way home.

      Working with people with disabilities is hardbreaking- the now you see, the future you can see for them. If you don’t have a way to drop the thoughts and turn off work at some point it will drive you crazy. My boss did judo, my coworker left work and swam, I listened to audio books.

      1. Mimmy

        It’s partly why I’ve been questioning whether or not I really do want to continue with this type of work and transition to more project-oriented work (I’d love to be a non-lab research assistant!) Our program is instructional, not really social services (though we do have a social worker). I’ve been thinking lately about getting into higher ed disability services, but that too probably comes with its own chaotic situations.

        1. Pinky Pie

          That’s a good thing to be thinking about. College disability services used to be a goal of mine, until I got hired in a dysfunctional office. Now, if my partner wants to move, I might be open to it in another state, in another lifetime. (It’s it own crazy with craziness wrapped in insanity in the place I worked)

      2. Teacake

        This isn’t empathy so much as vicarious trauma and the beginnings of burnout. You can be empathetic and not carry everyone else’s stuff – but to do that you need to build up your own resources and get some support for yourself.

    2. Not Maeby but Surely

      I don’t think it’s weird. I think it’s a personality-type thing. But I’m very much that way (my mood depends a lot on the hive mood), so maybe I just don’t want to admit I’m weird.

    3. Tara S.

      I don’t think this is weird at all, just being empathetic, like Pinkie Pie said. This happens to me almost every time there’s something stressful happening near me, but I work in an office where it’s really rare for it to actually come up (family visits and fights, on the other hand, are…woof). I got stressed out for an hour when I heard my coworker tearily fighting with her boyfriend through our shared office wall! It’s just a reaction. You manage it and move on, but there’s nothing weird or wrong about having it.

    4. Joielle

      I don’t think it’s weird! I’m the same way. I don’t exactly believe in empaths, in the paranormal sense, but I do think some of us are much more closely attuned to and affected by others’ moods. I used to drive my husband crazy focusing on his emotions even more than he was. I make more of a conscious effort these days to honor the fact that not everyone experiences emotions and processes them the same way I do.

    5. First Time Caller

      I don’t think it’s weird, especially if you’re in an empathetic profession. I’m in a not-especially empathetic profession and I still get incredibly tense and stressed by my boss’s tendency to go from a 0-60 temper, even when it’s not directed at me. I end up using other sounds to block it out because it was making me so nervous.

    6. LilySparrow

      No. This is normal. Humans are social creatures, we aren’t meant to be mentally or emotionally isolated from the people around us.

      You do need to develop routines to step back and process or let go of things, though. It doesn’t happen automatically.

      If you worked with machinery, you’d change out of your work clothes and shower to get the oil and dirt off. You can develop rituals or systems to “take off” the day’s stress, too.

    7. Not So NewReader

      This is fairly normal in a human service environment. And it’s one of the many reasons I got out after working in it for many years. I found a lot of emotional yo-yoing and a lot of fatigue. So yes, watching the color drain out of your coworkers faces can really rattle a person. Sometimes it seemed harder on those around me than it was for me to handle these situations. The imagination is very powerful, people can take another person’s story and be terrorized by it. So people who were just hearing about what went on were in worse shape than those who dealt with the situation.

      Decide how long you can do this and what your plan is to move on.

  42. Danae

    So I interviewed almost a month ago for a permanent job. Word is that I should be expecting an offer…but I’ve heard nothing from the recruiter. At all.

    This job would require me to relocate pretty significantly, and I’ve been anxious for the whole last month about the possibility—I don’t want to do much to get settled in my current apartment (I moved recently, before I knew that this job was a possibility) if I’m just going to be packing everything up again in a few weeks!

    I know I can’t do anything to hurry things along, and from all reports a month or two of radio silence between interview and offer is normal here. It’s just really anxiety provoking to not know!

  43. Nita

    Question about setting up a GMail out-of-office message for a long leave… I’ve read up on how these work, and apparently GMail will send the message to the same person only once in four days, which sounds great for short vacations. For a leave of several months, though, I imagine anyone who tries to keep me in the loop about my projects will be bombarded by multiple messages. It seems a little over the top. Should I maybe turn on the message for the first month, and then turn it off? At that point, anyone I communicate with a lot will already know I’m out – and as for others, I’m planning to respond to them myself and point them to whoever can help them. If there’s some trick to set the message to only go to my contacts once, though, I’d love to hear about it!

    1. Sleepytime Tea

      Nope, leave it on. Some people (a lot of people) will forget exactly when you’re coming back and it will be a good thing for them to get that message again (which contains your return date) in case they send you something thinking you’ll be there to handle it and when they don’t get an out of office message they may assume you have returned and think it’s off their plate.

      Outlook sends out of office messages once per day. Even for people who were out on long leaves, I never heard anyone complaining that they got too many auto reply messages during that time. Also, if you’re out for a long period, don’t log in and respond to people directing them to who to contact! That’s what your out of office message is for and if you’re on leave you SHOULD NOT BE WORKING, even if it’s just logging in and reading/redirecting e-mails. Depending on your status (exempt/non-exempt) and things like that, logging into work could be an issue. In your message, you put the dates you’re going to be out, and who to contact for different things. “If you need help with x, please contact Barry. If you need help with y, please contact Georgina. For all else, reach out to Stephan.”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      If Gmail is a company-managed account, ask your IT department if it gets deactivated while you’re on leave. Our company does that, and incoming emails do not get saved. That’s been a problem for some departments–we now recommend the out of office message specify that emails should be resent to SoAndSo because this account is not monitored or archived.

  44. AnonEmu

    Update – boss didn’t take me giving my 2 weeks notice well, but since I CCed HR on my resignation, that seems to have taken some of the teeth out of her response. She hasn’t said anything to me directly, which is fine by me. I had my surgery (yay!) and I am recovering fine. One more week till I am gone, and I have 2 possibly 3 offers on the table already!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH all the commenters here who encouraged me to get out.

  45. T3k

    What, if anything, can one do if they’re painted with the same brush as a fired employee?

    Not to get into specifics, but I loved my last job but my contract wasn’t extended. Several months later I heard my boss there had “parted ways” (basically in their terms, was fired). I had a feeling this put them off on hiring me again because I worked under the fired employee and I talke to someone still there that insinuated this recently.

    Now I don’t know why he was fired (he was a nice boss so I’m guessing it was goal related) but is there anything I can do to salvage myself in this? I’d still love to return and work for that company again.

    1. T3k

      I forgot to note, I was in a very junior entry position and this was my first job within a very, hard to get into, industry.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      Sometimes nice bosses are nice to a fault. How many reports did he have? If he had a few and let people coast or wasn’t supervising well, they call his judgment into consideration. In that way, prior employees are tarnished by his lackadaisical behavior. Are his goals tied to his reports staying caught up? See how it can all feed into each other?

      I would not try to push too much. Except letting them know you’re interested in returning when there are openings. But don’t start bringing to light you know you’re tied to him. That’s presumptuous and backs people into corners,causing more harm than good.

      1. T3k

        Well, I was his only direct report (it’s hard to explain it, but basically while he oversaw X team of 10 or so people to keep them on track but they directly reported to Y leader, he basically just made sure they were staying on track).

        But yeah, I did get the feeling his ideas conflicted with the company’s (company has a lot of perks but has the mentality of “we don’t care if you stay late, just get the job done” while my boss was “it’s 8pm, go home!” it was definitely not your 8-5 job setting).

        But yeah, I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing then thanks :) (basically just continue applying for positions there that fit, don’t mentioned ties to him).

    3. Marthooh

      The word “insinuated” is making me suspicious. Is the person you talked with really in a position to know who’s on the “Do Not Hire” list? Some people like to pretend to be knowledgeable, and present a guess as if it were a certainty.

      If you know anyone in management or HR there, you can try telling them that you’re interested in working there again and asking what they think your chances would be. Realistically, though, you’ll probably never know for sure if the company holds your ex-boss against you, unless they do hire you back (meaning they don’t).

  46. anon report

    I’m wondering what the commentariat would do in this situation. At my office, I have a… aunt boss (level with my boss but not over me). She doesn’t seem to like me much and she HATES my boss.

    Usually I can just ignore her since our work doesn’t overlap much. However, I recently managed an intern who emailed her a form alert we were sending to everyone who fit certain criteria. She wrote back an email telling him his email alert was unnecessary and not to bother her. He didn’t seem bothered by her response – I knew about it only because I asked him to forward all responses to me – so I didn’t address it with her. But I’m kind of wondering what I should have done if he had minded. Any advice?

    1. inoffensive nickname

      I would ignore it either way. Even if you think she’s trying to get a reaction, ignore it, but file it away in your CYA file.

    2. Friday afternoon fever

      I managed interns under a boss like that. When he did something mean or inappropriate, I would quietly pull the intern aside later to say “I’m sorry, you shouldn’t be treated this way and this shouldn’t be acceptable behavior at work.” Not ‘I’m sorry’ like I’m taking responsibility, just that I’m acknowledging it sucks and neither of us can do anything about it. I was also trying to GTFO and the behavior was more egregious than a rude email, but I think it’s adaptable to a situation where your intern was reasonably bothered. If you can’t do anything about her behavior, be upfront and honest with your intern and validate their feelings

  47. Nanc

    A First World Whinge:

    My boss. I like him, I’ve worked for him for 12 years–by far the longest job I’ve ever had–and yet every time there’s a Google doodle he will shout from his office “who’s NAME/what’s THING/where’s PLACE?” Dude–click on the doodle!

    Also–best wishes and good thoughts to all of you AAMers in the Camp Fire area. Poor Paradise.

    1. Auntie Social

      I had to stop looking at the photos. I live in San Diego and we’ve had our share of fires. That could be any of us.

      1. Nanc

        I’m in Southern Oregon. I still have my evacuation bag in the car from this summer.

        Stay safe friends.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Oooh, where do you live? I grew up in Ashland, and my parents and two sisters live in the Medford area now. It would be devastating if the Ashland downtown burned – there is so much history and so many beautiful buildings there.

  48. Anon in Boston

    A cyclist was hit by a truck and killed in the intersection right in front of my office building this morning and I can’t think about anything else. They haven’t released any names yet and I’m worried it’s someone from my company. I also used to cross that intersection on foot daily when my parking situation was different and it has been wildly dangerous for years. Between this, leftover election stress, the time change, and general family Thanksgiving drama, this week has been horrendous.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Sending you good vibes. I would find it very difficult to go about my day like nothing happened in that situation.

      I hope you are doing something kind for yourself this weekend.

      1. Anon in Boston

        I cancelled some weekend plans that would have involved 8 hours of driving, made a therapy appointment, and bought a bottle of whiskey, all of which are self-care strategies that I highly recommend to anyone.

        1. kg

          I am also in Boston and saw this on Twitter this morning. It’s awful to be near something like that and that area is terrifying to walk and bike in. Sending you good vibes.

    2. Rebecca

      I’m sorry that happened, it’s tough to see things like that. My commute back and forth to work is partly on a 4 lane highway we locals call “the gauntlet”, as in running the gauntlet, and there are frequent accidents, sometimes fatalities, and I have seen awful things. I am just thankful every day when I get here and when I arrive home that I’m safe. Sending good thoughts your way.

    3. Overeducated

      I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m a bike commuter, there have been several cyclist fatalities in my city this summer, and it’s just really upsetting how senseless these accidents are. People are just trying to go about their days and shouldn’t be risking their lives. It’s right to be sad and angry.

    4. EddieSherbert

      That’s awful! I’m sorry. I would also be anxiously awaiting updates. Sending good vibes to you and the cyclist’s family.

      PS your weekend self-care plan sounds like a good plan to me!

    5. kerlin

      Oh, I just googled this and I used to drive through that intersection ALL the time. How awful, I am so sorry. That is one of my absolute worst fears. Be kind to yourself this weekend. <3

  49. Cressl

    I got a job offer this week for a job that, if I were desperate, would be really good. But…I’m not desperate. I’m fine to hang out at my dead-end job with not-great boss until I find a new one I like. And that will give me more than a 3% raise when I have a master’s (and my current job doesn’t even require a bachelors, the salary reflects that).

    So I declined, via email. I figured that way I could copy both of the people that were on the phone call and make sure they both know. But I’m wondering if I should also call, since they called initially. I’ve never had to decline a job before so I don’t know the etiquette (and I figured it’s better to have it in writing…).

    jk in writing this comment I got a reply back from one of them, so at least I know they’ve seen it. Unnecessary to call now! But I’m still curious about the etiquette since I might have the opportunity to decline more.

  50. inoffensive nickname

    Would you rather get a job rejection on a Friday or a Monday? This will be a phone call because I want to encourage her to apply for other positions within our organizations, and the only reason we didn’t hire her was because life threw me a monkey wrench and I ended up hiring someone who is a long term, highly respected employee with 20 years in our pension system who is taking about a 40% pay cut just for a better work/life balance.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      Don’t call.

      Send her an email and include a note that if she is interested in feedback or other positions, you’d be happy to discuss further.

      1. fposte

        Totally agree. You can say what you said here in an email, and it’s much less of a burden on her, which is what’s important in a rejection.

      2. RabbitRabbit

        This. Maybe go out of your way to strongly emphasize her otherwise suitability for another role at your institution. Maybe go ahead and forward her CV to others who are hiring there and tell her you are doing that.

        She doesn’t want to have to get excited at your phone call and then try to mask her disappointment/sadness while you’re going on about other openings.

        1. CatCat

          “Maybe go out of your way to strongly emphasize her otherwise suitability for another role at your institution.”

          A+. The rejection needs to look personalized and not canned and with specifics on the role you’d encourage her to apply for. Heck, if another role opens up that’s not open right now and you think she’d be a great candidate, you can forward that to her in the future.

          I had a kindly rejection once following what had been a strong interview, but I’d had no idea that they’d want me to consider applying for other roles. I’d pretty much just written that place off. Then a couple months later, I got a letter out of the blue from them encouraging me to apply to a specific role. I’d have been more proactive on looking for other opportunities with them if I had known about their level of interest sooner.

      3. Beehoppy

        Agreed-don’t call-give her some space to manager her reaction privately. You could include a line in the email asking her to call you next week as you would like to discuss future opportunities or something along those lines, but let the call happen when she’s prepared.

        1. inoffensive nickname

          Ok, here’s the unsaid part. She’s the sister of my former amazing assistant, who recommended her for the job, so I feel like I owe her a phone call. I even ran into her the other day, having lunch with my former assistant (who was promoted to work for my boss, on my recommendation).

          1. Doug Judy

            Still don’t. I got a “we’re not hiring you” phone call and it was horrible. A very personal email with the offer to talk/meet for coffee would be so much better.

          2. Rose Tyler

            I think the phone call you owe her is the one where you can give background on the ultimate decision (if HR is ok with that) as well as a promise to consider her for other roles. I would absolutely still email her first. Not getting a job you’d been excited about is a gut punch and it’s a million times better to process it on your own terms.

          3. The Rain In Spain

            I would send an email and offer to set up a call to discuss other types of roles you think would be a good match, subject to her interest of course. I wouldn’t tell her re the monkey wrench- it sounds like you would’ve hired her but for that situation, and that would be a really crappy thing to hear (and your company’s HR would probably freak out if you voiced that).

          4. Kathleen_A

            Many people are under the impression that a phone call is…I don’t know, more respectful or something. As though an email is cheating or short-changing the applicant. And I’m sure there are people who would prefer phone call.

            But I’m just as sure that *most* people prefer to get this kind of news (“You’re not getting the job”) via email so that they can process it in private. This might be even more important if you’re also telling her potential good news – she’ll have more time to process that as well.

            As I said, there are no doubt exceptions, but not that many.

          5. Someone Else

            The second the phone rings, you’d be getting her hopes up and by being on the phone, you’ll be privy to her reaction when she might not want you to be, that’s the issue here. The personal connection won’t make the phone call go over better. If it’s a rejection, even with a “but apply to other things in the future” do it in email.
            To your day of the week question, sooner is always better, because knowing is preferable to not knowing.

          6. Sapphire

            I cry easily, and during my job search, there were a lot of tears every time I would get a rejection email because it was such a frustrating process and I hated that no one seemed to want me. I could not imagine trying to hold it together while on the phone with someone rejecting me, especially since a phone call generally means a job offer, which stings even more when it’s actually a rejection.

            I don’t think day of the week matters as much as whether you phone or email. If you really feel you owe her a phone call, offer to follow up by phone about the other positions.

    2. DarlaMushrooms

      I’d want it ASAP so I could regroup immediately. It’s kind of you to call – that is very rare and very appreciated.

      1. EddieSherbert

        Agreed to getting it ASAP! I’d lean towards email though – just so she react naturally in private. Maybe offer to do a followup call if you think that’s beneficial (like you have other positions to talk to her about?

    3. Mouse in the House

      I’d rather get it on a Monday. I don’t think a call is bad, but you could say most of that in an email. I sent one out saying that although the person wasn’t a good fit for what we were looking for, we hoped that he would stay in touch with us and that there would be opportunities to collaborate in the future. He responded in kind and it seems like we both understand the situation. But, I know women interpret those emails a little differently sometimes so you could do a call.

      1. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney

        I got that version of a canned response about 50 times in the last six months. It really loses its believability quickly; at this point I assume that’s the new “chose to go in a different direction” messaging and that they truly could not care less if I applied to another role.

    4. Linzava

      I’d rather know as soon as possible, phone call or not. If I wanted to live false dreams, I’d buy a lottery ticket ;-)

    5. Cookies?

      I’d rather get it ASAP.

      Just please don’t email her to set up a call – a recruiter recently did this to me. I knew they were close to making a decision, and she emailed me on a Friday asking if I had time for a call on Monday. Monday came and went, no call. On Tuesday she emailed again asking if I had time that day – again, no call. I finally called her Wednesday morning. By that point I was expecting a rejection, but I would have MUCH preferred an email Friday that they hired someone else, but to please give a call if I wanted feedback (she was very complimentary and I’m glad we spoke, but I’d much prefer the disappointment by email than being strung along).

    6. Overeducated

      ASAP, via email, and sending rejections after 4 PM on Friday is a cliche (it’s happened to me a lot!).

    7. Sleepytime Tea

      I would rather get a rejection sooner rather than later. Sure, some people might bum out all weekend for not having gotten a job they wanted, but they also might stress all weekend about not having heard back yet. I would rather know and not stress. Then I can eat some ice cream, start applying for other things, etc. before going back to work on Monday. Especially if you want to call her to explain the situation and encourage her to apply for other positions, which is better news than a flat out rejection, I think it’s better to do it sooner.

    8. Kuododi

      I don’t believe I have an opinion either way on the “Friday vs Monday” discussion. I will echo what appears to be the consensus and say please let your applicant know as soon as possible for her sake. Probably the kindest, most supportive rejection I ever received following an interview was not long after DH and I had moved to our current place of residence. I had applied for a counselor position at a state run low cost mental health center. The interview was grueling to say the least. (Walked in to see I had a group interview with all 25 members of the treatment team I would have worked with had I been hired. GACK!). When all was sd and done…the director who invited me to interview called me two days later to advise me they had decided to hire a clinician who had recently finished clinical residency with them and was a freshly minted PhD in Clinical Psychology. He reported both he and the team were quite pleased with my clinical and interpersonal skills and I was welcome to keep an eye on postings to reapply at anytime and theyd be delighted to talk with me again. Apparently, that particular Director chose to make personal phone calls when delivering that type of news to people. Personally I found it to be more effective and left me with an overall positive impression about that particular mental health program. It additionally allowed me to take a minute or two, catch my breath and ask questions which started popping up as the conversation progressed. Good luck…and best wishes!!!

  51. Conference Goer

    Hi AAM fam! I’m going to a conference for the first time as a professional (I’ve been to ones as a student). I’m not directly representing my company– we don’t have a booth or anything. I’m just going for fun. For a relatively young professional, any advice on being a face of the company?

    Here’s what I plan to prepare:
    – clear with my bosses what I can and can’t discuss about our newest projects
    – do a quick review of our attitudes in the industry (eg, we oppose X proposed policy)
    – get swaggy business cards
    – shill for recruiting any students ;)

    1. Clisby Williams

      It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to industry conferences (I’m retired now), but when I was in IT and attended conferences on my own, I was not “a face of the company” – I was there to learn more about the industry. Of course, I was aware I shouldn’t do anything disreputable, but I was not there to represent the company. So no talking about new projects, no talking about the company’s attitudes in the industry, no recruiting. Business cards sound fine. I’ll be interested to hear what others have to say.

    2. Sabine the Very Mean

      Are you a female, by chance? The reason I ask is that any bad experience I’ve had as a young female professional has been magnified in conferences. It’s as though men (and I’m sorry to pick on men but I don’t get sexually or otherwise harassed by women–yet) think being away from the office means no one is watching them. I have been sneered and leered at, asked to go up to someone’s hotel room, been handed someone’s trash, been treated as a low-level staffer even though I’ve never worked for the conference hosts, been mansplained to death, and so much more.

      So, go forth and be very confident. Don’t be part of the background. You are here now. You’ve earned it and you belong.

    3. Casper

      A thing I wish I had done before going to my first conferences was practicing the elevator pitch of what I do and what my company does! Kind of like what you’ll find in AAM interview advice on how to answer “tell me about yourself.” For some reason when talking to new people, the question “so what do you do?” would completely tongue-tie me.

      Also, pack comfy sneakers or flats.

    4. LKW

      Is anyone else attending the conference from your company? If possible go through the conference agenda from your boss and if you’re by yourself -which sessions would have best impact on your knowledge and goals. If with others – how you want to divide the agenda so that each of you attends separate sessions.
      Talk to your boss about sharing what you learned afterwards. Most conferences make the presentations available post meeting.

      Otherwise, be friendly and enjoy. And don’t drink too much.

    5. Workerbee

      That’s great that you get to go and not have added pressure of a booth schedule or presentations!

      For being “a” and not “the” face of the company, it sounds like you have the What to Say and Not to Say details in order or on their way to being nailed down. You never know what and when you’ll be asked about what you do and what your company does.

      My advice may piggyback on the others already given:
      –Comfortable shoes, especially if it’s a multi-day conference. Get the kind that allow inserts for extra comfort.
      –Divide and conquer sessions if you are going to with a coworker.
      –If going solo, see if there is a social media or community channel already set up for attendees. You can find buddies that way. A recent giant conference I went to used several different channels, and people were actively making plans to meet up even if they were strangers at that moment. There are always solo conference-goers who don’t really want to be alone in the crowd. Women were also actively saying, “Hey, any other women going?”
      –It depends on your industry, but I’ve found that I don’t give out business cards anymore. I bring them…never reach for them. My conferences have badges that vendors scan with my information, and we conference goers would take pictures of each other’s badges held up to our faces so we’d remember who belonged to which name afterward.
      –Try to find out about after-hour gatherings. Vendors can have the best parties, where by “best” I mean you don’t have to pay for food or drink.
      –Don’t be shy about going up to people in the booth, in the hallway, at a session, etc., and asking them what they do, or what their favorite part of the conference is so far, or what they’re hoping to learn. Sit down at communal lunch tables and talk to the people eating next to you.
      –When you’re back from the conference, compile your notes and impressions, download any decks made available, and do a mini presentation to your boss or department (or entire company). Proves it was worth sending you and helps ensure you get to go the next time and to other such events.

    6. PFC Micah Hayes

      I’m retired now but my company used to send me to SIGGRAPH occasionally, and it was a blast.

      – If it’s a multi-threaded conference with juicy educational sessions, make an advance plan for what sessions you want to attend, where they are, and 2nd choice sessions. I made an effort to arrive early, but even then some sessions would be full.

      – Leave room in your luggage to bring back swag. Assuming it’s a conference with vendor booths, you’ll likely collect a lot of pamphlets and stuff. And sometimes vendors will hand out some fairly interesting and unique items. Even if you don’t need another pen, there are probably people back at the office who will appreciate your thoughtfulness. And when I say “pen”, what I’m really thinking of is the one year that ILM handed out these beautiful decks of Star Wars-themed playing cards. I snagged five packs and made my boss and four co-workers very, very happy.

      – Nobody even asked me to do it, but I’m an ‘enthusiast’, so I took notes of the interesting sessions and posted them to a company-internal blog.

      – Someone mentioned attending vendor social events and parties, and yes you should definitely do this. One year in San Diego a company I won’t name rented the USS Midway and threw a big party, complete with a fireworks show off the deck and out over the bay.

      – Someone else mentioned trying to meet up with co-workers, and that’s a great idea, especially if you all typically work remote from each other. But try not to get roped into any “attending the conference as a group” thing. YMMV, but I liked going off and seeing things by myself, at my own pace. Having a planned set of sessions to attend helped a lot: at any given time I could say “hey, I’ve gotta run to a workshop” and politely disconnect from any group I was hanging with.

      1. Workerbee

        +Infinity on leaving room for swag. Bigger conferences can have so.much.swag. Things you don’t even need but someone back at your office will surely love. If your back can hold out lugging stuff around during the day and then to the airport (unless you can ship it on the company dime–not recommended for your first conference through the company), you’ll find many happy people afterward.

        I also manage to fade out of any coworker group expectations. I feel that you learn less by sticking with only your known pack and doing the exact same things you’d do back at work.

        It’s not always easy at first. You can head off any “but whhyyyy won’t you spend time with us” by saying “I can meet you all at X for a quick drink” but then you absolutely have to go meet up with New Networking Buddies at Y, see you all tomorrow! — or arrange for quick drive-bys when in transit from Session A to Session B.

    7. Girl friday

      I love conferences, and have a knack for somehow rubbing elbows with lots of people and good positions in the field. My rules are always: look better than you think you need to, plan to do things alone – explore the city Thursday and Friday night. try to meet people those nights to spend time with. Saturday night plan a group thing with people from your company or your city. Don’t say that you officially represent anything or even imply it. Keep good notes and network with people that you meet. Don’t rely on Facebook or a LinkedIn, and don’t buy into the Doctor Seuss, popular Movie Mania that seems to grip women when they travel in groups. So unfortunate that that stereotype generally does show up at conferences.
      If you’re traveling alone, I still would recommend eating and going out with people from your city on Saturday night. You’ll meet some, and it makes conversation so much easier when you have a lot in common.

    8. Kuododi

      I don’t know your age or general “enthusiasm” level for finding someone to hang with after hours and go do some drinking. I would strongly recommend you keep a tight leash on any of those impulses while you are at the conference. (Speaking from former colleagues past experiences as well as some of the stories which pop up here on AAM on occasion.). You did say you were not going to attend the event as an official “face of…”. That being the case, these conferences are like fishbowls and a person’s behavior both positive and negative will inevitably be associated with your employer. That was a long winded way of saying, err on the side of caution, go easy on the alcohol and do your best to stay rested while there. Try to find time after hours to see at least one thing/eat at one restaurant that is impossible to experience anywhere else in the country. (My personal self care trick while on a business trip.). Safe travels!

  52. A Consultant

    Looking for advice from small business folks (and accountants) about interviewing/hiring a business accountant for the first time. I have a small consulting practice – just me for now, but growing and thinking about making a hire in 2019. So far, I’ve been doing my own finances and taxes, since it’s all been very straightforward as a solo person, and I’ve liked the process of learning and understanding the financial side of things. But as I grow, start to think about hiring, AND after getting some advice about considering a different taxation structure – it seems much less straightforward and I think I need an actual expert.

    I got referrals to a couple of CPAs locally, and am talking with one on Monday about his services. Any advice about critical questions or details I should be looking to find out? General advice about finding someone and figuring out if they are a good fit for my business? Advice about how to be a good client to the CPA? Or anything else I’m not thinking of! Thanks!

  53. Dips

    My direct report, a recent hire of 2-3 months and first job out of college asked if he could WFH on Monday. I asked him why, and then OK-ed it, because I want to provide him some flexibility, and the reason to WFH didn’t interfere with his ability to work at all. I’m now second guessing myself. I shouldn’t really have asked why, right? He’s an adult, and a professional, and I should trust him not to take advantage. In my defense, since he is such a newbie, we work pretty closely together and being in person does make that easier. But being remote for 1 day doesn’t really impact it too much. On the other hand, my boss is of the opinion privileges such as WFH should be earned and not just given gratis, and he hasn’t been here long enough to ‘earn’ it. I don’t think I really suscribe to that theory though.
    Thoughts?

      1. Dips

        Varies by department, location and circumstances. For example, my boss OK-ed me to WFH a couple of days a week immediately following maternity leave, but I’m not in head office, and I felt that after a few months it wasn’t reasonable to keep doing it. My bosses boss is in head office and has to get permission every time she wants to work from home. She isn’t approved for a regular WFH day every week.

    1. Mouse in the House

      I don’t think it’s wrong to ask why they want to WFH. My bosses asked me; I told them it’s because everyone comes to me with every little problem they have, interrupting about 3/4 of my day, and I never get any work done. I wanted a solid chuck of alone time for that. They told me I couldn’t work from home, but I didn’t think it was weird that they asked why or wanted a justification.

    2. Boo Hoo

      It’s not PTO It is asking for something that isn’t standard while still being paid and not using vacation. Totally ok to ask why.

    3. WellRed

      I think you’re fine and that it’s actually weirder that he didn’t offer a reason (the cable guy is coming).

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      I would prefer not to have my reasons questioned if it’s something that has a standardized type process around it. I think instead of asking him why, you may have been better saying something like “yes, you can work from home, but as long as it falls within our policy which means you can’t be caring for a child, you still have to be logged in from x to y, etc. etc. I know you’re new, so I just wanted to make sure we are on the same page.”

    5. The New Wanderer

      I think if there’s no reason he could give where you’d say “no, you can’t WFH,” then it’s best to just quickly reiterate the policy like Sleepytime Tea suggests with your approval. I mean, if there are reasons that would result in a no, he could just lie anyway, right?

  54. Toxic waste

    How do you survive in a mean, toxic workplace until you can get out? There is so much drama, gossip, backbiting, eyc. It’s awful!

    1. Minerva McGonagall

      For me, journaling, getting outside of the office for breaks/lunch, and distancing myself as much as possible from the toxic people helped. I was professional, but cool to those who were mean and nasty and tried hard not to give them ANY fuel to their fire. I kept my personal life really quiet. I wore headphones and listened to my favorite music and found a podcast to listen to while working to keep my spirits up (and also signal-go away I’m working).

    2. Mina

      I remember reading this book called, “The No Asshole Rule” and the author said something like never let them touch your soul…I thought that was good advice. Go to work, do your best, keep trying to get out..but when you get home remember that it has nothing to do with who you are as a person or what your life is really about. Personally it helped me to start meditating and join groups outside of work – it not only increased my happiness but help remind me of all the kind, decent people out there. But it IS a really hard situation to be in. You just want to do whatever you can not to internalize it until you find a more worthy workplace to give your energy to.

    3. Catz

      Sorry this is happening.
      YMMV but I’ve found it helpful to just listen but never participate in anything that smacks of gossip or drama. Just stare and maybe toss in a couple of Hmmmm’s and oh really’s? The other person will wander off or usually I mention I was in the middle of something an scoot off. Or I just say I can’t cause of work task and scoot off out of range. Eventually they give up.
      It also helps to remember every second of every day that you’re just there for the paycheck and to do the very best with each task no matter what. No one can take that away from you.
      Practically I decided to invest in myself an began taking night classes at a community college, it’s my reward to myself for hanging tough all week at work. Plus it gets me into a much more normal non-toxic setting with reasonable nice people! It also will lead to me being able to leave awful job much sooner with confidence.
      Don’t be discouraged!!! Things can change!!

    4. A-No

      Have a routine on your way home that lets you decompress and leave everything outside you front door – do not take this home with you or it will drive you crazy.

      Every time you start thinking about it and getting wound up – stop yourself and distract yourself. I used to work for a company where active sabotage was literally okay and that’s the only thing I could do. I have to deal with it at work but there was no way it was going to ruin my night/weekend too.

    5. LKW

      I know this wouldn’t work for everyone but red lipstick. In my most toxic workplaces red lipstick was my shield. It is a severe look and for me and my resting bitch face just says “Back the Eff Off…Now”

      1. Kat in VA

        That’s hilarious – my commute is long (1:20 to 1:30 each way) and fraught with terror (hello, northern Virginia driving). One of the ways I deal with it, to my husband’s endless amusement, is The Battle Lipstick™.

        I wear bright red lipstick (MAC Ruby Woo or Russian Red) on the drive to and from work – it’s too much hassle to keep touching it up during the day, but when I get in the car, The Battle Lipstick gets applied. It makes me feel bad ass to wear it and is part of the “Here comes the godawful commute” routine!

    6. School Inclusion Specialist

      Me, last year.

      Turn into an anthropologist. Observe the dynamics as if you were an outsider. It will help you name them and heal faster post-toxic work place.

      For example, I had an assistant principal who would never own mistakes. She’d just pretend she didn’t know something because she was “never told”. Her favorite move was to throw staff members under the bus because they never told her something. So, when she’d come to staff meetings, I’d listen to what she was saying so I could try to predict how she would use that interaction to blame me or another staff member for something. It became a game. Especially once I started documenting all of our conversations so I could call her out. Never had to, but it was a relief to get some power back. And this process is helping me recover from the toxicity more quickly in the new job. Because I identified the dysfunctional areas at old job, when I something feels like a repeat of old job’s toxicity, I can name it and better understand my anxiety. (For example, at old job, they would always schedule meetings at the end of the day when they were going to tell you something horrible. New supervisor scheduled our first check in for the last period of the day on a Friday. I spent the entire day thinking he was going to fire me until I realized that I was having a panic attack because of old job. While I didn’t fully calm down, I was in a much better place.)

    7. Emily S.

      Exercise can be great. Bonus points if it can involve spending time outside. I find that very calming and good for de-stressing. Even just a brisk 20-minute walk – and I recommend no headphones. Listen to the birds, or the wind in the trees. It’s refreshing.

      I always enjoy reading and watching movies/tv (during hours off, of course!) to mentally escape.

      Also, practice your hobbies — that can be a really fun and healthy way to spend time, and have a positive identity outside work. You might consider volunteering, as well.

  55. Penelope

    Sorry to keep bringing my misery here (brief: contract ending, anxiety going into overdrive), I don’t know where else to go. These feelings come in cycles. I could get to a good frame of mind one day and then wake up the next in a state of panic, and I don’t know how to get back to the good space.

    So I’ve started submitting applications, but these things always take time. I find myself either feeling unmotivated when applying for jobs I’m not particularly interested in, or feeling terrified applying for jobs I actually do want because I’m so scared of disappointment. Yes, I know we miss all the shots we don’t take, but that doesn’t mean taking the shot isn’t terrifying.

    I’m just feeling so rejected right now. My current manager keeps reassuring me I did a good job, she was impressed with my work and it was just a matter of budget…but I still feel so dejected and worthless.

    This job was something of a career change for me, I moved a long way from home to get a shot at this career, and I knew I was taking a risk when I made the decision to do it. I think the thing that’s hitting me the hardest is that I’d spent the last year thinking the risk I took was worth it, that I’d actually achieved something. Now it feels like it was all just an illusion. Nothing feels real.

    Maybe some day I’ll look back on this period in my life and think it was silly to get so worked up over this, but right now, I don’t even know how I’m going to get through this.

    1. fposte

      I’m sorry, Penelope; that seems really hard. I think transitions are generally tough for everybody, but this sounds like it’s hitting you in some sore places. Is counseling worth considering to get you through this?

      1. Penelope

        There are definitely other issues at play, it’s been a long time since I’ve been really ‘happy’ and I think this was just the final blow. For a long time now whenever I was feeling down about other aspects of my life, I would remind myself how lucky I am to have this job, so now it’s like my crutch has suddenly being snatched away.

        I don’t have time at the moment to get into counselling. I’m most likely going to have to move soon (if I can’t secure a local job) so won’t be able to build any sort of relationship with a therapist. When things have calmed down I plan to seek out therapy so I won’t be knocked down as hard if I have to face similar setbacks in the future.

    2. DarlaMushrooms

      It’s totally normal for you to feel awful right now. You’re not weak or over-reacting. Job loss is terrifying, failure (or perceived failure) is devastating. Unemployment is down, but the precarious nature of today’s work and the demanding, impersonal way we have to apply for jobs is really demoralizing for workers. I’m also job searching and I go through the same cycles of blind terror as you do.

  56. DefinitelyAnon

    For anyone who’s left a field entirely (particularly one that requires years of education/training to get into) – what made you decide to leave? I’m considering this move myself, but want to make sure I’m doing it for the right reasons.

    1. Nita

      If I ever leave, it will be either to pursue something I’ve wanted to do for years (I’ve got a couple ideas in mind), or for something that’s easier to do part-time. I love my job, but I take it home with me a lot, and it takes up a lot of mental space.

      1. Kuododi

        A slight detour… I had to jump in for a minute and tell you how much I adore your screen name. I have many warm memories of evenings with my Dad at the kitchen table in the house where I grew up. We would talk about everything imaginable, snack on teacakes and drink Coca-Colas. (Good stuff!!!). Thanks for a lovely moment from my younger years. ;). Blessings!!!

    2. Slartibartfast

      Health, mental and physical. I was taking extra medication just to recover from the day. I had to go.

  57. DarlaMushrooms

    I’m applying for jobs that require some element of graphic design. I keep seeing that if your work is digital (I do motion graphics and web stuff) you should bring an ipad or laptop with you to interviews. I’m flat broke – like, so broke I have to go to the food bank if I want to eat – and can barely afford bus fare let alone a laptop. Am I going to lose out on work because of this? I don’t even know anybody I could borrow a laptop from. Alison has said previously that you shouldn’t seem “poor” when you interview due to people’s biases, and this has me really worried.

    1. Namast'ay in Bed

      Nah, you don’t need to do that. But you should have an online portfolio that you include on your resume, linkedin profile, etc to showcase your work. As long as you have that, there’s no reason to bring a way to show the interviewer them in the off-chance they want to see your work in the interview. They’ll probably have a laptop with them anyway – if they haven’t looked at what you included in your application prior to the interview, just refer them to your link.

      Good luck with everything! I’m sorry you’re in a rough spot and I hope things get better soon.

      1. DarlaMushrooms

        Oh phew! I do have an online portfolio and the link is on all of my self-marketing materials (resume, LinkedIn etc.). Thanks very much for the well wishes.

    2. Beehoppy

      Full disclosure-the only design work I’ve done has been print, but could you send them links to your work in advance of the interview so they would have time to review before you meet? You may also want to check with your local library-some of them lend laptops for outside use, or if not they may have some ideas as to where to check.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t think I’ve said you shouldn’t seem “poor” and I wonder if you misinterpreted something else? Do you remember what post you’re thinking of?

      1. DarlaMushrooms

        I can’t find it, but I think it was in a post about jewelry or clothing in interviews, and you were acknowledging that it (the bias) was unfortunate. You’re right, you probably didn’t use the term “poor.” You’re much more tactful than I am!

    4. Holly

      I think you should talk to people within your field and see if there’s a workaround – you could always bring a flashdrive or some sort of print out if you need to, but I don’t know what the industry standard is. I’m assuming you have a desktop computer because you mention your work is digital – you can probably sell that and get a 2-in-1 laptop that is good for graphic design and also converts into a tablet, or something more lightweight so you can work from anywhere.

    5. LKW

      Slightly off topic but I learned the other day that some libraries loan out briefcases for people doing job searches. See if someone in your area does something similar. Maybe they’d be able to trade services for goods.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Do libraries let laptops out on loan now? Is this a thing?

      Ask at the food bank if they know of any group that could help you get a modest laptop. Also check at second hand clothing stores associated with churches, such as in a church basement. Ask them the same question.

      If no one you know has a spare laptop ask them if THEY know anyone who can spare a laptop.

    7. Moonbeam Malone

      Late to the party, but if you’re making it to the interview stage, they’ve almost certainly already looked at your online portfolio. Put your portfolio on a flash drive in an easy to access format (movie and pdf files rather than adobe flash, etc.) and keep it in your bag just in case. Sort of the same principle as bringing an extra copy of your resume, even though they’ve almost certainly read it and printed it out for themselves. Just treat it as normal if it comes up and it shouldn’t raise any eyebrows.

  58. No name

    Found out that the exec in my department who screamed at a woman underling was indeed fired. Good. He’d already driven off one of his female direct reports by treating her like crap, yelling at her, and telling his other direct reports to not talk to her. He had other reports to HR about how he treated women not in positions of power. Now he’s gone. Thank goodness.

  59. Mouse in the House

    Anyone have any tricks to running a successful coalition of multiple non-profit groups? I work at a non-profit and help my boss run a coalition, but it’s never really gone very well in terms of participation. I’ve thought of two other coalitions I’ve been in and it seems like the organizing organization does all the work and it’s like pulling teeth to get the other groups to participate. It feels like this is just an unfortunate norm of running these things. Have you ever been in a truly collaborative, successful coalition, and if so, what made it tick?

    1. Lil Fidget

      My career has involved a lot of this. Typically the participating orgs need to have a clear, well articulated reason why being in the coalition is a win for them – like, “we save on having to run our own intake program because we have a coordinated intake through this collaborative, which saves us ten grand a year” or, “we are able to participate in group insurance with the coalition which means we don’t need to have our own HR person.” Ideally, the coalition has its own grantwriter and the members of the coalition get to use the grant money. Also, how did the “backbone” organization get selected … did it appoint itself and then try to drum up everybody else’s participation?

      1. Mouse in the House

        Hmm, that’s a good point. We used to get grant money to run the coalition but we used it to pay salaries internally. If grant money was contingent on organizations producing XYZ result, that might help incentivize them to participate in the work! Thanks for the advice! And yes, my organization created the coalition and, as you said, tried to drum up other participation.

        1. zora

          I second money. When I was a program staffer, a local foundation thought we needed more coalition work on a specific area, and they paid 5 organizations in grant money to take part. Multiple staffers were able to participate at a high level because our time was actually paid for so it was worth it.

          I know that’s not an option all the time, but you have to think about how resources are so tight at most nonprofits, so you have to make up for that somehow.

    2. Anon From Here

      That’s kind of a huge question … but the last time I was involved in a coalition it went something like this. There was a major event happening in my city where we needed to coordinate the response of three legal rights organizations. The event itself was time-limited. We figured out which org would handle which aspect of the response. It turned out that it all kind of naturally fell out that we could “cabin” each group into its specific work. So, like, all the orgs had preparation work, but one in particular had training work; two of the orgs had event-days work, but one was more on-the-ground than the other; and only one group really had post-event work. But even when more than one org was working on the same day, the tasks were very different and nobody could really duplicate the efforts of the other. Each group had its own bailiwick — this meant that not only did no one org feel like its toes were being stepped on (or its glory stolen, -roll eyes-), but also each org had its own work to do. No single org was doing all the work.

      Since the event was time-limited, it was not a long-term coalition. That helped us avoid a lot of disadvantages that come with longer-term relationships: personality conflicts, changes in circumstances that could lead to changes in scope, all that kind of stuff.

      If your problem is mostly one of lack of participation by some participants, then maybe they see some of the work as duplicative — why bother spending our program money doing X when Organization Y will do it anyway?

      1. Mouse in the House

        Yes, unfortunately ours is a long-standing coalition and we often try to set common goals/deliverables to achieve… we’d like their support in amplifying the messaging we have, since more orgs. saying the same thing is more effective, but maybe they do think our org has the messaging “in the bag” and that’s why they’re not helping out? Hmm. Thanks for the insight.

    3. SL #2

      My organization has been part of so many of these coalitions, and we also have created some/been funded to create some before. Really, it just depends on the people you get involved for these initiatives. A great program manager. We get invited back to these industry coalitions so often because our executive director has a sterling reputation for being reasonable, practical, and willing to pull her weight, and our entire staff benefits from it. “I work at XYXY Organization with CJ Cregg” has opened more doors for me than I can count. And on the flip side, I get very excited when I hear that ABC Organization is sending Sam Seaborn as their representative for this work because I know he’s an excellent partner, but less excited when I hear that Jed Bartlett’s on the project too.

      In terms of practical advice that you can actually use on your end, I would say that you need a coalition check-in call once every 4-6 weeks. I know facilitating these can be like pulling teeth, but having a clear agenda (we’re going to cover X topic, and then Y topic, but Z topic can be taken offline if needed) and a strong facilitator for each of these calls is super-important in order to rein in the different personalities. It’s a struggle to get people involved, it always is, but especially at non-profits, money helps. Is there funding attached to participating in these coalitions? If there is, it might be time to really emphasize that to both your coalition partners and your funder. And make sure that there aren’t organizations in the coalition who are duplicating efforts. The best coalition I was ever part of involved 4 partners (us included) doing intertwined, but not overlapping work, the funder was funding each of us individually as part of an overarching project, and each of the program managers were committed to the work.

      1. Mouse in the House

        We do have monthly calls… but those are the ones that are like pulling teeth to get anyone to say anything at! Usually my boss keeps a running monologue and I know he doesn’t want to do that, and there are always very pregnant pauses as he asks for feedback but doesn’t get any. Do you think larger or smaller coalitions are better? This one has about eight different people, although only four will show up at any given time. :/

        1. SL #2

          I think there’s definitely a sweet spot; 8 people is a loooot to have on a call, but would having a more defined agenda, prepped in advance and distributed to everyone, help increase participation? Or even forcing a round-robin type of agenda, where each month someone from a different org has to speak up and provide updates? They can’t get upset about it if they’re forewarned about needing to provide an update during the call, because it’d be their own fault if they came in unprepared and sounding like a fool in front of their colleagues.

          1. zora

            If no one has anything to contribute on the calls, it’s the calls that are the problem, not the people.

            There should always be a strategic reason for a call/meeting, and “updating each other” is not a strategic reason. That could be done by emails.

            You need to decide what the reason is for these calls, make sure you actually still need them, and couldn’t do it with emails, and then have a defined agenda where there’s actually a reason for people’s participation. If there is a good reason, people will have something to say. They are probably frustrated that you want them to give up time for a phone call where they aren’t really needed.

            When I ran a coalition made up of paid staffers for the organizations, it was because our organization provided education and action plans on specific issues. There was something members would get out of the call, and there were parts where we were getting their ideas of what we should do and what they needed for their organization to be able to participate.

            It sounds like your coalition as whole needs to decide if it still has a strategic reason for existing, and establishing exactly what the members are gaining from it. Or maybe you need to transition to being more of a resource center instead of a coalition. Or some other different structure that gives the members what benefits them without requiring more work from them than they are getting out of it.

    4. Non-Profit Person

      One resource I’ve found useful for thinking about this draws from the Wilder Institute’s research on multi-organization collaborations and what makes it work. I’m not sure if I can post a link, so you can google it. The book is “Collaboration: What Makes it Work,” and their website has a lot of free tools/summaries of some of the ideas.

      What I found useful was that they identified a bunch of factors that impact whether it’s a good collaboration – from communication to sharing a stake in the outcome to having the right people involved to having enough resources devoted to it. It made a lot of sense to me. And when I looked at less-functional collaborations I’d been part of, I could see all of the things that weren’t even being addressed. And when I was in more functional ones, we were actually hitting on far more of the factors on the list.

      1. Mouse in the House

        Thank you for the book recommendation! I’ve been struggling with this issue and this particular coalition for years… and yes, partly it’s about the specific person who is/isn’t engaged. It’s frustrating, though, because we’re always asking these groups what they’re working on and how our organization can plug into that… but for whatever reason, they don’t feel like identifying ways to collaborate. I digress–I’ll take a look at the book and see what I can learn from it!

        1. Non-Profit Person

          One of the tools is a collaboration assessment survey that you send out to members of the coalition. It (plus some open-ended questions) can be useful for sussing out what might be underlying why a partner doesn’t feel invested or is behaving the way they are. We actually used it once in a group I was in where things were mostly working, but there was some tension and passive-aggressiveness starting to emerge. The semi-anonymity of the survey seemed to make people much more direct, and it surfaced a very specific issue that multiple people had about one partner, and how that partner was starting to feel the isolation. We started to see the cause of the problems, not just the symptoms. Good luck!

      2. Southern Ladybug

        Yes. I also like Coalitions Work and Fran Butterfoss’s book. I’ve linked the tools and resources page of their website in my user name. It has links to lots of free information you may find helpful.

        1. Mouse in the House

          Hi, I’m just seeing your reply now, but I wanted to say thank you for the links – I will check them out and take a look!

  60. OlympiasEpiriot

    Last weekend the offices’ carpets were steam cleaned. We all had to remove everything from the floors of our cubicles, put name tags on any chairs we have and not come in for the whole weekend. Given how busy I have been, I still haven’t fully put my cubicle back together. I didn’t do the most organized lifting last week due to overload of my schedule and I have to cull and sort as I’m putting things back (as well as wipe things down as they became exposed during the stripping of my workspace).

    I’m a little frustrated with it.

    And the carpets don’t even seem that much cleaner.

  61. CommanderBanana

    Nothing major but I am competing in a holiday bake-off today. Send me good vibes – trying to defend my title from last year!

    1. Emily S.

      Good luck! Let us know what your entry is.
      I am trying to decide what to make for mine. Right now leaning toward Deb Perelman’s Bake-Sale-Winning-est Oat Bars, maybe. But I might go with brownies.

  62. Lil Fidget

    Today I’m surprised to realize that I’m really coming to enjoy a new job that I thought was a mistake. I’ve been here four months now and thought this was a short stop-over on my way to something else, but as I gain experience I’m enjoying this type of work more than I thought. Just goes to show you how your perceptions can change over time!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Very good news– I hope your perspective keeps seeing new & interesting things there!

  63. Coughing my head off

    I work in SF Bay Area in CA. Currently there are raging fires and the air is thick with smoke. People are wearing masks, covering their face etc. My car has a thick layer of soot on it. The air quality index is currently at unhealthy. At what point would it be okay to call in sick to work because the air quality is un-breathable?! When I was in my apartment I didn’t even realize how bad it currently was because I had all the windows closed and my air purifier on. As soon as I stepped out to an apocolyptic looking hell I started coughing insanely with tears streaming. One of my coworkers is pregnant and I’m also pondering if any of this is even safe for her. My office circulates air from outside. I currently feel like I’m sitting in a bbq pit. Seriously, at what point would a job tell workers to go home? This has happened before and things are business as usual even when the air quality index reached purple which is extremely unhealthy.

    1. Coughing my head off

      Update: I am now wearing an industrial strength gas mask at my desk.
      Next step: goggles.

    2. OlympiasEpiriot

      OSHA has indoor air quality standards. So does California. I’ve put a link to the CA law in my username. In a nutshell,, if you have to wear a respirator in your office, I think everyone should leave.

    3. Mina

      Bay Area here too, and they are sending out email “guidelines” like avoiding strenuous activity outside but not sending people home either…does seem unfair especially if you have asthma, allergies, etc.

    4. OperaArt

      Another SF Bay Area person here, the East Bay. Our air quality is officially at Unhealthy right now.
      Do what you have to, to preserve your health.

    5. CAA

      You job is probably not going to tell everyone to go home, because for many people the air will be equally bad wherever they are. However, you should deal with your own health situation. If you are having trouble at the office and would be better off at home, then it’s fine to tell your supervisor now that you are unable to keep working and need to go home sick.

      I went through this in So Cal a few years ago, although it was a bit different because I had employees who were in the path of the fire. In our case, the office air was actually better than most people’s homes, since we had air conditioning in the office and many people don’t have AC at home here. I just told my team to work wherever it was most comfortable and if anyone had to evacuate to please let me know after they were safe.

    6. Alisanora

      I’m working in Palo Alto and the smoke is pretty bad here too, even further south. I think if you’re coughing so intensely a reasonable employer wouldn’t fault you for needing to go home, but you’re the best judge of whether that would go over well.

    7. Friday

      North bay here and the schools in my county all decided to close, so the decision was made for me and my parent coworkers. I worked from home as best I could since it’s a busy time for my dept.

  64. Event planner

    Another holiday party topic… I run a holiday party for a large grad program (students, faculty, and alumni) and even though it’s a Catholic institution, I try very hard to keep it away from Christmas (despite some pushback from other staff). I’ve been thinking about this since last week’s thread: Is limited evergreenery (NOT trees or wreaths, just used in centerpieces/occasional boughs) Christmas-y? I saw several people suggest as much but can’t tell if that’s a widespread feeling or just when it’s paired with red and/or strung in a Deck-the-Halls-style garland. I’d like to go with a navy and dark green woodsy kind of vibe (think “LL Bean winter catalogue, but fancy”), but I can use something like eucalyptus for greenery instead if need be.

    Also, I’d love to hear any great truly secular holiday party decor people have seen! We did white and silver last year, but I like to change it up from year to year.

    1. MsManager

      I think using greenery as you describe wouldn’t be Christmassy. I went to a party with a “ski lodge” sort of decor, I don’t know if it was truly great…there were a lot of pinecones and a lot of plaid!

    2. Mouse in the House

      These were friends’ parties but I’ve seen “Ugly Holiday Sweater” theme and also “flannel/plaid theme,” which I thought was nice since it was unusual but still appropriate!

      1. Event planner

        Thanks for the reminder! That’s a really good point. (Shame on me for forgetting, since my mom is one of those people!)

    3. Corky's Wife Bonnie

      One holiday party I went to just focused on winter. There was a snow machine as you walked in (seriously I think it was meant for indoor use because it didn’t make the floor slippery or make anyone damp). The tables were a sparkly blue and white combination and the centerpieces were a cylinder glass vase with those tiny wired lights inside and there were pinecones and sparkly decorations around the vases. They had blue & white tea lights around as well. It is too hard to explain all the details but it looked very cool and festive.

    4. chi type

      I asked a similar question on the thread about “secular” Christmas parties the other day and didn’t come up with much. The best suggestions were snowflakes and blue and silver colors but unfortunately I think almost anything winter-y kinda reads Christmas. :(

    5. Girl friday

      I think that sounds great, a lot of Scottish plaid are green and blue and would go well with your decor. I went with silver and blue one year and was told that was Christmas, so I would stay away from that.

  65. Suspendersarecool

    I have a creepy coworker. He scares me on a spidey-sense level hasn’t actually done anything but stare at me and try to start an inappropriate conversation once. Basically he acts like an angry loner and seems abnormally interested in me since I spoke to him briefly in an orientation class when we started last year. He’s in a different department with no reason to interact with me, so my plan is to continue ignoring him. Any tips for calming my nerves? Last week he silently stood in the door of my cube section for 2 minutes before walking away and I had to go walk outside for a while because I was too jittery to focus on work.

    1. Tara S.

      I’m so sorry. Please tell someone at work, your boss or a coworker you’re friendly with. Maybe they can do something/tell someone who can do something about it, but at the very least you should have someone to talk to about this. It’s weird behavior and I think you are right to be freaked out. Don’t deal with it by yourself.

      1. Suspendersarecool

        I totally would, but he really hasn’t done anything actionable and I’m worried about potentially escalating things. :(

        1. Tara S.

          I’d argue that silently standing at your cube opening for two minutes is something worth mentioning to people. Even if you don’t think you want to ask anyone to do anything about it right now, being able to confide to someone in your office about what’s going on I think will help with the mental load. Virtual hugs, this is the worst.

          1. VioletDaffodil

            Plus, you never know if he has done something to others and all these small reports could be adding up.

            If you haven’t read it before, I recommend reading “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker. It isn’t without its problems, but it could be helpful in dealing with a situation where you are getting a danger signal. Good for you for listening to and trusting your intuition!

        2. irene adler

          So couch your statement with a comment indicating you just want someone to know what this guy is doing and that you are getting a bad vibe from it. Then say that you don’t want to escalate anything unless he does something more. You just want management to be aware of the one event.

      1. Suspendersarecool

        Thanks for the advice! The Gift of Fear has really helped me in the past and is why I’m taking this seriously. I’ll say something to a coworker the next time he does something weird and see if they’ve noticed.

    2. LKW

      You’re allowed to go to HR and say “THIS IS WEIRD”. They may dismiss it, but that’s on them. Otherwise, if you have a co-worker or two that you trust, share this with them and ask for some help with cover. Especially in and out of the building when you’re alone. If you are staying late, do not hesitate to ask Security to walk you to your car. Bring them food. They will work with you.

    3. chi type

      I (unfortunately) agree with your assessment that he doesn’t done anything actionable (yet) so I think your best course of action is to always be on guard around him or in deserted areas in and around work. Just being aware of your surroundings and wary of this guy will help keep you from falling victim to a lot of the things mentioned in Gift of Fear (forced teaming, negging, etc.). If he ever gets you alone in a room or follows you outside have zero hesitation about getting away and into the presence of others. Don’t worry about being rude, literally run to where other people are if necessary.

    4. The New Wanderer

      Definitely talk to someone. It can be an informal chat, and I would start with your closest coworkers (both in terms of location and acquaintance). The best way to counter this kind of thing is to build a network of people who know what’s up and can help look out for you. That’s what we did with a certain creeper who also didn’t do anything officially actionable. The women who found his chatting to be just a little more off than we were comfortable with talked to each other and we made sure none of us were alone with him. We also talked to the other men in the group, so they knew we were reacting to something specific about this guy and not pulling some arbitrary avoidance behaviors around him. It wasn’t a constant source of conversation, just one or two quick talks, enough to set up an awareness but not make things super-awkward.

      Don’t wait to see if it’ll get creepier, you’re not accusing him of anything, but you are already bothered by his behavior and that is enough to start a conversation about. Think about it this way – if you don’t mention that it bothers you, you’re stuck with hoping your other coworkers will notice that it does or they might just assume you are okay with the attention.

      1. Marthooh

        I agree — tell somebody you’re worried!

        You say he “hasn’t actually done anything but stare at me and try to start an inappropriate conversation once.” Inappropriate convo + 2 minutes of silent staring + seems angry for no reason = something to worry about.

        1. valentine

          You might be pleasantly surprised by what’s actionable by someone with power and knowledge about this. You also may not be the only one he’s imprinted on/targeted. Reporting him will at least give you more information as to your options and resources, including people. There was someone in these threads whose van ride share had a creeper and her supervisor and others got him to leave her alone.

  66. CanadianUniversityReader

    Hi All,
    One of my professors has invited me to a networking lunch with executives for a big bank in a few weeks. I’ve never been to one of these so I’m a little nervous. What should I wear? Should I bring my resume? It will be quite cold in my area by then, so is it okay if I wear winter gear? How does one network at this type of event?

    Sorry, for all the questions at once. I would say that I’m a little nervous.

    1. CommanderBanana

      I’d wear a suit – if you turn out overdressed you can always take the jacket off. I think it’s okay to wear winter gear! If the lunch has a place to put your coat, do that instead of putting it on the back of your chair so you’re not fighting past it every time you get up.

      I’d bring a resume and some business cards or contact cards if you have them. Couldn’t hurt. Don’t have anything alcoholic at lunch. Networking events can be nerve-wracking; I find I’m calmer if I tell myself beforehand that I’m just there to meet new people and learn about them.

    2. Minerva McGonagall

      Since you’re meeting with bank execs, I’d err on the side of conservative professional dress. If it’s cold, it’s totally okay to wear your coat, gloves, etc. Bring your resume-they may want it, they may not! But it’s better to have it with you. If you don’t have a portfolio, head to an office supply store or go on Amazon and grab one-get one with a notepad and space for business cards so you can tuck them all in. Networking is all about asking questions. Ask them about their careers, their schooling, how they got to where they are. What advice can they give a person just starting out? What are they looking for in new hires? And be sure to send a thank you note afterwards thanking them for their time and reflecting on the information you gained. You’ll be great!

  67. Swales

    I need some advice on how to survive an office party that’s happening at 2pm today.

    I work in a department of 5 at a company of about 25, and recently, my department landed a huge new contract and tripled our workload. I’ve been working late M-F as well as about 3 to 8 hours every weekend for months without a true “day off” in ages. I understand that this contract is good for us, it’s bringing in a lot of money and stability, I’m being fairly compensated for my extra time and work, and there’s a plan to train other employees to take on some of this work so I don’t have so much on my plate going forward… but right now, I don’t feel it. I am extremely burnt out. This contract has meant constant exhaustion for me.

    Which brings me to the party. The company recognizes how much my department is doing, and they’ve planned a little celebration this afternoon to congratulate us on the big new contract. I’m feeling distinctly non-celebratory. What’s a polite way to interact at this party? Can I successfully avoid going when my department/company is so small and it’s a party specifically thrown for me? How do I avoid bursting into tears while holding a little paper plate with a chunk of sheet cake on it? Help!

    1. fposte

      What about going for 10-15 minutes and then bailing? You’re visible for the high fives but then you can go weep over your supermarket frosting on your own.

      Sorry about the burnout–could you take some time off or negotiate some more as a reward?

      1. Swales

        I stayed the whole time, didn’t cry, but did get a few direct “you look really tired!” comments. And thank you for the concern! I’ve gotten a raise as well as some extra PTO for all my additional work. I can’t exactly *use* any of it until we finish training the new folks, but the good news is our PTO rolls over indefinitely, so I will eventually get to take some time off.

    2. Holly

      I think you need to keep it together and show up and fake it til you make it. You don’t have to stay the whole time. I am really sorry you’re burned out, but it would be extremely strange if you weren’t there.

  68. ElspethGC

    I was browsing the open thread as university library procrastination when, overheard behind me:

    “So I was interviewing for that internship, right? And the interviewer asked me ‘What sport would you say best represents this job?’ But I’ve not done the job! So I said table tennis. And he said ‘Why?’ And I just looked at him.”

    The conversationists wandered away from me at that point, but just… Poor guy. I know people here don’t like those questions in the first place, but it seems to be especially cruel to ask them of someone interviewing for an internship. The whole point of the internship is that they’re not entirely 100% sure of what the job involves but want to find out and get a grounding in it, right?

    (Psst, AAMers – what sport best represents *your* job?)

    1. fposte

      That’s a horrible question on so many levels. Honestly, even with non-internship jobs it’s not like you’d know until you were in it, and some of us know about three sports total anyway.

      Mine would be like martial arts golf; long stretches of quiet precision interspersed with high-action, high-adrenaline activity.

    2. Minerva McGonagall

      Oh, I can’t resist.

      Quidditch.

      For the legitimate reasons of: can be slow at times, can be super fast and crazy at times, sometimes everything’s fine and then you get a bludger to the face, sometimes you’re way behind and you suddenly catch the snitch and win.

      For the non-legitimate reason of: I had to.

    3. CDM

      Ironman quicksand triathlon.

      We run, we swim, we bike, we never get anywhere and there’s no end in sight.

    4. Amber Rose

      That question sucks.

      I’d say my job is… cricket. Because hardly anyone understands what’s going on at any given time but everyone is running around frantically as if they do.

      And I’m honestly not even thinking of real cricket, which is about as logical to me as any sport (ie, not at all), but a version of cricket in a book called Something Rotten where each team had to field three lawyers and some of the rules involved a tea party in the center of the field.

    5. Teapot librarian

      Swimming. Or, trying to keep from drowning while people throw stuff at us and run us over with boats.

    6. Can't Sit Still

      Calvinball! Because the rules change day by day and minute by minute sometimes.

      What a terrible question for an intern interview.

    7. EddieSherbert

      Golf.
      Usually slow, can be repetitive, not-that-interesting to explain to others or watch, but a pleasant enough way to spend your time. Haha.

    8. Libervermis

      Soccer. Lots of running about, lots of collaborating and well-executed maneuvers that rarely actually achieve a goal, plenty of individual-level drama as part of work, widely available and popular at the amateur level but only a lucky few manage to make a living from it.

    9. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

      I’m a university fundraiser, so I’d say…. yoga-chess. You have to be extremely flexible and patient while also thinking three moves ahead.

    10. LKW

      Right now – Karate. Some light sparing, defensive moves and a significant amount of banging my head against boards.

    11. DaBlonde

      Triathlon, but you don’t know the length of the race until you show up.
      I teach GED Prep for the department of corrections, so I teach all of the subjects and never know how long a student will be in my class.

    12. Piano Girl

      Gymnastics! How flexible can you be while still meeting all deadlines? Can you transition from one move to another? Can you bend over backwards to keep the boss happy? And how quickly can you do it??

    13. Lalaroo

      I’d say volleyball! A lot of people try to get things oriented in the right way to hand it off to me, and then I take it and score (ie, do the last bit before submitting for approval). If things aren’t right, I bounce it back til it comes to me in the right way that it can be submitted successfully.

      Please note I only know a tiny bit about volleyball, so I know having the team bounce the ball around to the one person who hits it over the net might not be how it works in real life!

    14. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      Is there a sport that involves digging holes and complaining about how badly run the company is?

  69. Blue

    How do you figure out where the line is between acceptable push-back and obnoxiousness? I started a new job over the summer, so I’m still getting a feel for my boss. The position involves a lot of brainstorming and problem solving, so arguing the merits and pitfalls of an idea is an inherent part of the job, and when I was hired, my boss was very clear that she was looking for someone who’d be comfortable speaking up and pushing back. So far she’s proven open to critique of her ideas and doesn’t take it personally.

    My old boss was similar, but with him, it was always clear to me if we were ever approaching a, “Ok, we’ve discussed this thoroughly and my mind is made up so it’s time to stop,” point. With the new boss, her limits aren’t as easy to read, and I’ve occasionally found myself wondering if I’m pushing too hard or overstepping. I’m sure it’ll get easier to read her over time, but I’m nervous about pissing her off and not realizing it. She can be kind of vicious about (if not to) people who annoy her, so it’s a legitimate concern.

    1. Tara S.

      I think this is something you can ask her about! Something along the lines of “when I first started here you said you wanted someone comfortable with speaking up and challenging ideas. I think so far we’ve been able to do that pretty well. But sometimes there are just going to be situations where we’ve debated the merits enough and just need to move on. I wanted to check in with you, I haven’t noticed if we’ve gotten to that point before, but how to you feel these discussions have been going?” She might just give you a quick “no, you’ve been fine” and you can respond with “great!” and keep doing as you have. Maybe she’ll give you feedback. Who knows, but I think a quick check in could help.

  70. When is it time to move on?

    I’m 13 years out of college and I’m at my third employer. With the first two, I stayed way too long until I was totally burnt out and miserable and in danger of being let go. I’m determined not to burn bridges when I leave this job. But how do I know when it’s time to go?
    I was recently promoted to Senior Manager, one step below partner. I’m not sure if I want to be a partner or if I could make partner if I tried. I might want to but some of the politics here are off-putting. My commute is long and my hours are very, very long. And I have a toddler at home. All that said, my coworkers are good people, I have autonomy and flexibility, and I’m enjoying the new challenges that come with my promotion.
    My sense is that now is not the right time to move on. Because I’m not unhappy (I’m very wary of switching to an unknown job because the people at my second job were volatile tyrants) and also because I want to take advantage of leave benefits if and when I have my second child. But obviously, better hours and a shorter commute would be nice.
    Any wisdom would be appreciated.

    1. Colette

      You can start looking without committing to leaving. If you’ve been there a year, stick around. If you’ve been there 4 years, maybe it’s time to see what’s out there.

    2. ThankYouRoman

      It’s best to leave when you’re happy because interviews are so much easier when you’re leaving on good terms.

      However you’ve got perfect reasons to move WHEN you want to. “Commute” and “work life balance” are golden.

      Stay aware of openings but unless it pops off the page at you or strums your feelings up, just keep trucking along. That will also help you avoid feeling trapped or unsure how to leave when the time comes that you want to change.

      Leaving isn’t a messy breakup and reasonable places don’t expect you to die there!

  71. should i be worried?

    I’ve been working at my job for about half a year now. Everyone I’ve worked with has been giving me glowing reviews and I get along with my coworkers. However, when I first started I discovered about a month in that another coworker had been basically the “go-to guy” for the tasks that I now do. He was extremely disgruntled that he was being “replaced”, but the tasks that he was doing had nothing to do with his job responsibilities.

    Every interaction I’ve had with him I can see that’s he’s trying to be pleasant, but I feel a lot of frustration from him directed towards me. It culminated to him sending an email to my boss and CCing me AND my grand-boss where he had remade a project I had done previously where he had made it “better”. My boss told me she took him aside and said to never do that again.

    Anyway, should I be doing anything about this or can I just go about my work and ignore this guy?

    1. Tara S.

      This is not you’re problem! It sounds like your managers are handling it like they should, thank goodness, so just focus on your work.

    2. SophieChotek

      If your boss took him aside and told him to not do that again, it seems like the boss sees what is happpening.
      I’d try to be courteous but distant, do your best, and go about your work.
      If this guy keeps on and on, he’ll probably trip himself up again and that should be no reflection on you.
      Just my two cents.

  72. Who me, nervous?

    I have a final interview next week. The second interview was with the two people to whom the position reports, and I was invited back to meet with the rest of the team and the C-level exec who oversees it. I am well-qualified for the position, truly excited about it, and I’d love to work under the hiring managers – one of whom I know through prior work. Honestly, it feels like a dream job…which has thrown me into serious self-doubt/impostor syndrome.

    Good thoughts, juju, cookies welcome.

    1. SophieChotek

      Congrats! and good luck on your final interview next week. Hope we hear good things next open thread.

  73. No Longer Indefinite Contract Attorney

    Oh my gosh apparently I get a full time job and EVERYONE WANTS TO TALK TO ME NOW. Where were you guys six months ago?!
    Anyway, I’m taking interviews as they come and otherwise working hard and trying to learn as much as I can. And also take advantage of that sweet, sweet paycheck. Savings account, here I come!

  74. Triplestep

    I posted this last week and I guess it was TL;DR since I got no responses :-/

    Trying to be more brief: For a public sector job application that follows a strict hiring protocol (panel interview, only 10 pre-determined questions) would you ever reach out to the hiring manager if you’d met before?

    I interviewed for a role with this organization, and I believe that one of the reasons I did not get the job is that I was overqualified. The relatively low level of the job in comparison to my skills was acknowledged by both sides once the pre-determined questions were over and I had the floor. I got to explain my reasons for applying, which the hiring manager seemed to feel were valid. She said I got the interview due to my cover letter.

    Now another job is available closer to my level and I applied. I felt I had a good rapport with the hiring manager, so I was thinking of e-mailing and saying essentially this: “I know you can’t engage with me as a candidate this way, but I wanted to let you know that I applied for this other role and if you think I’d be a good fit, you’ll find my application submitted via the appropriate channels.”

    What do people think? Does this show any kind of tone-deafness about the way these things work? That’s what I’m trying to avoid. I am also trying to avoid having an HR person see my application and put it in the “no” pile simply because I acknowledge that I interviewed for this other, lower level role.

    1. fposte

      I’ll be curious to see what others say, but for a government job and an acquaintanceship that’s only being interviewed before, I wouldn’t. I’d reach out in a case like that only if it’s somebody I’d be likely to talk to anyway.

    2. Holly

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong about with reaching out to a hiring manager you’ve had a good rapport with generally, but the way you’ve described it it seems awkward. Especially the hedging first line. This person also may not remember your name, but once they see you be “aha!”

    3. CatCat

      I think it’s fine to reach out to the hiring manager, but you need to reword your message as the tone is odd.

      “Hi Hiring Manager, I enjoyed meeting you and discussing position X back in [whenever that was]. Even though that didn’t work out, I am still very interested in Organization and have applied to position Y, which is more in line with my experience. Take care, Triplestep.”

      That’s it. Your goal here is to let this person you had a good rapport with know your application exists. That’s all you really need to convey. I wouldn’t do it if you had no connection at all, but you do and if you know HR filters the applications out before the manager even gets a look, a short message with the facts is all you really need here.

      1. Triplestep

        Thanks, I wasn’t going to write it exactly the way I phrased it, but I do think I need to acknowledge that I know she can’t engage with candidates outside the process.

    4. Sleepytime Tea

      I’m going to disagree with the other comments. Don’t reach out directly. Instead, put in your cover letter than you previously interviewed and take that as an opportunity to describe how what you learned about the organization in that interview made you even more interested in working for them or something like that. You already know that they are actually reading the cover letters (which not every company does) so you are accomplishing your goal of alerting the hiring manager that you are someone you had a previous relationship with while staying within their processes.

      I don’t think an HR person would put you in the “no” pile because you interviewed for something in the past. If they’re interested, they will look up your previous application and such. And frankly, when you submit electronically you’ll already be in their system. Even if you don’t acknowledge your previous interview in your cover letter or something, they will be able to see that you’ve applied previously (assuming they have a decent system).

    5. CheeryO

      I wouldn’t, honestly. No matter how you word the email, it’s going to seem like you’re trying to get a leg up where there is almost definitely no room for one. I’m sure they will remember you, and the fact that you had good rapport with the hiring manager could end up being a deciding factor if you end up tied with another candidate.

      1. Triplestep

        I am trying to get a leg up – I want my resume plucked out of the pile. Not sure how we’d know there is no room for that. I mean, sure, she could say “ew, her? yuck no way!” Or she could say “Oh, I remember her – glad she’s still interested! Look another great cover letter!”

  75. Deryn

    Looking for advice on how to “coach” someone doing tasks they really ought to know by now, without sounding condescending or feeling like I’m baby-talking to an adult?

    I’ve got a team member who continually has issues doing detailed tasks, and that is a whole other can of worms and I’m attempting to deal with it with our supervisor, but in the meantime I’ve been trying to sort of “lead” him to coming to the conclusion on his own, or “coach” him into looking the correct place to find answers. I feel like I’m talking to a pre-schooler when I do it, though! It feels so silly to be asking what feel like rhetorical questions, when I clearly have an easy answer that I could just give him. Here’s a recent example:

    Me [reminding him of procedure on a very common form we use that he ought to know but realistically I know he will have trouble with]: Make sure you remember to put the internal billing number on that label.
    Him: Where?
    Me [thinking of the field that is clearly labeled “Internal Billing Reference”]: Well, where do you think it should go?
    Him: I don’t know.
    Me: Look at the paper. Is there any place that says anything about internal billing?
    Him: No.
    Me: Check again. Make sure you look at all the spaces. Do you see anything?

    I’m really struggling to keep my tone from dipping into either condescension or baby-talk. Part of this is that one of my roles at work is as a “coach” with kids using these sorts of strategies for other behaviors, so that’s what I fall into when I use them in any context. Part of it is that this guy has pretty much become my BEC and I’m ultra self-conscious to keep that concealed. On the other hand, part of me feels like the logical and unavoidable outcome of not being able to reliably complete these tasks is that someone is going to have to hold your hand, which feels like condescension on my end.

    Has anyone got any good stock phrases or tips for navigating this?

    1. Washi

      Omg I felt frustrated just reading this and deeply sympathize. I agree with you that this level of handholding is a direct result of his incompetence, and there’s not a lot you can do except not worry about being condescending.

      1. Deryn

        A lot of things are! This summer I actually had a big push myself and other lab members start detailed documentation for our common processes and protocols. I refer to them as the “if Deryn gets hit by a bus” documents, or “new hire training” documents, but in my heart of hearts I know the impetus was solely a selfish desire to be able to re-direct his constant stream of questions.

        In the example above, it wasn’t documented anywhere because… it was a FedEx label. I had to help him put our address and account number on a FedEx label. I only laugh to keep from weeping.

        1. valentine

          Does he need help or does he enjoy you discussing/doing his tasks? Tell him what outcome you expect (he can fill out the form correctly 90+% of the time) and let him devise his own pathways/reminders.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood

          Long long ago I temped as general office’s admin. The how-to book included copies of blank shipping labels with the fields relevant to this company highlighted.
          Not something you want to have to repeatedly teach a full-time employee, but not insane to put in a training binder.

          My 2 equivalent problemishes co-workers eventually were let go…so this should be a big deal for that person.

    2. Lil Fidget

      This may be no help, but sometimes I find when I’m having this problem with coworkers, it’s a work-process issue. I know the task well so I’m calling their attention to one specific part, but they may be mentally anticipating each step in order, so they’re very thrown to my “suddenly jumping” to one part. It may be easier to have him fill out the form and then catch him if there’s an error afterwords – he may learn better that way. I might not be explaining this very well but it’s an issue I ran into with new people I just trained.

      1. Deryn

        I’ve definitely run into that with some of our new hires and students! As I get more and more experience in a supervisory role, I’m getting better about realizing when that’s happening and being cognizant of the fact that I often have a lot more context to rely on that the person I’m talking to.

        The lack of attention to detail is a widespread issue with him, as are some various other issues, and he’s been here for two years, so in this particular case I don’t think that’s what’s going on. Even my super non-confrontational boss has had some meetings with him about it, and although I suspect she’s softening her language quite a bit, that’s a huge win in my book! We’ve talked about shifting his time more to the other team he works with, as that work seems to fit better with his working style, but we can’t do that for a while yet due to being understaffed as a whole. So in the interim, I’m just trying to do the best I can to mitigate it and think of each frustration as a way to train my supervisory muscles.

      2. Alisanora

        This is good advice. Many people (including me) learn better by doing and being corrected.

        I also think the leading questions method paired with Deryn’s level of frustration will very easily turn into condescension. I’ve had the most success with my tone in these situations when I take everything very literally and don’t dwell on thinking that the other person is stupid or should know better. Just be matter-of-fact.

        You: Make sure to put the internal billing number on the label.
        Him: Where?
        You (stating a fact): Where it says “Internal Billing.”
        Then if he can’t find it, just point it out to him instead of saying, “Make sure you look at all the spaces.” Or if you really want him to find it on his own, say, “Take some time to find it and come back to me when you do.”

        For this guy, repetition might make the process sink in, or the lack of attention to detail might be an unfixable problem. Either way, getting emotionally invested isn’t helpful.

    3. LKW

      Super frustrating. If I had to do this, and I’ve been in your shoes, the first few times I’d be as patient as you are. The third or fourth time I’d switch my approach.
      1. “We are going to review this. I expect you to have reviewed this process/form/template before the meeting and have any questions prepared.”
      2. No more “What do you think you should do.” instead – “Read the process aloud, what does it say?”
      3. If the meeting isn’t productive – stop it. Put it back on this guy “OK, you need to go back to your desk and look at the form and the process again. You’ve done this x times. You should know this by now. Please go back and review this and prepare a list of questions that you need answered so that you can get this work done properly.”

      People learn by hearing by seeing by doing. Some people find different techniques helpful or are better with listening or doing than seeing. Some people can’t be helped.

    4. Teacake

      I think you’re being a bit patronising here to be honest. Just tell him to look for the field that relates to internal billing. You don’t need to hold his hand like he’s five.

      1. The New Wanderer

        I have to say, I don’t think I could control any sarcasm if it’s that level of handholding and I can see why you’re at BEC level with him. My approach when my own elementary-aged children do this is to patiently give the obvious answer once and then walk away if they opted not to listen to me or continue to ask questions that could be easily answered by looking at the item in question. Amazingly, almost every time they figure it out on their own. (It does result in meltdowns on occasion…)

        I don’t necessarily recommend this because it’s work and not ungraded homework, though it does cut down on the risk of loss of patience. But maybe have him complete whatever the task is to the best of his ability, without asking you anything, and then bring it to you for double-checking. And reject any first efforts that are less than 50% complete/correct (or whatever threshold makes sense) without providing any feedback, because it will turn into 50 rounds of tiny incremental improvements and “is it done now?”

        If that doesn’t work and these are all basic job skills, he’s just not in the right role at all.

    5. BRR

      You’re much more patient than I am. My method for watching my tone would be to not go beyond the initial ask.

    6. Grinch

      I find that my annoyance seeps out when I question their critical thinking, and I hate being on the other side of those questions too (“Where do you think it should go?” Well if it was where I thought it should be I’d have found it!). Instead think about how you would give hints in a puzzle game. Maybe google the Universal Hint system. Those hints use a lot of questions and asking what have you done already. And most importantly they are hints, not reminders, so you save your energy and only chime in when he needs it.

      Him: OK I’m done
      You: Have you included the internal billing number?
      Him: Oh… where do I put that?
      You: Is there a field that mentions “internal billing”?
      Him: I don’t know.
      You: Have you found the [form name]?
      Him: Yeah but it’s not there
      You: Have you checked all the spaces?

      It’s very similar to what you’re doing but hopefully reframing it for yourself will help make it less frustrating.

  76. Jessen

    It is so weird being at a job where people just, like, get up during the day whenever. I mean, obviously not all the time, but, like, just declaring you’re going to go get lunch now or take a walk around the building is a thing. I’m actually having to schedule pseudo-breaks for myself so I don’t forget to eat!

    1. Lil Fidget

      I remember being so impressed with this when I started my first white collar office job. People could just declare they were going to go get a coffee and then … walk off and do that. In my past hourly shift-type jobs, that was not at A Thing.

      1. Jessen

        I know. I’m actually having to tell myself “get up and take a break now” because without the scheduled times to get up I just focus on work all day.

    2. Notthemomma

      There is truly no feeling like when you realize you are allowed to pee when you have to, and not abide by the scheduling software.

      1. Lil Fidget

        I think all the time about how much crueler we as a society are to low wage employees. Stiff penalties for being even a little late, tight restrictions on breaks or any other personal freedom, much more oversight and intrusion by the supervisors. Not only is the white collar office life a LOT more cushy, but it’s also typically more lucrative AND offers benefits?? Our system is broken.

        1. Alisanora

          Companies that don’t pay their employees well often don’t value them in other ways, and want to squeeze as much work out of them for as little money as possible. They don’t consider that a well-rested and relaxed employee may be much more productive in the long run (not to mention human decency).

        2. Jessen

          I flat-out told my direct supervisor at my last job that I didn’t like how upper management was changing things in ways that seemed to imply they thought we weren’t doing our jobs. I’m an adult, I don’t need a babysitter. And if all your senior employees (by call center standards) are telling you that they have too much work to do, adding more rules to prevent people from goofing off is just going to make people mad.

  77. Raven

    I interviewed for a job earlier today (it went okay) and I was told that there were 57 candidates and only 5 interviewees! Other jobs I’ve applied to this year have said, respectively, that there were 39 candidates and four interviewees (my last job) and 22 candidates and 8 interviewees. Is this relatively normal, to have that big of a disparity between candidates and interviewees?

    1. fposte

      Yup. Often interviewee numbers don’t really correlate to the pool, and I’d side-eye the place that interviewed 8 candidates out of 22 unless they had several positions open. There may be a higher number for phone screens, but more than five candidates for actual interviews is pushing it, IMHO, no matter how big the pool.

    2. SophieChotek

      Congrats!
      I would say yes, usually from a wide pool, HR will only interview a small #. They don’t have time to interview tons; usually they can tell from resumes/cover letters who they think are the top % or so. (From what I understand.)

      1. Lil Fidget

        They also just don’t want to devote that much staff time to interviewing, so they may just pick the first five people who meet the requirements and then stop looking. This is why the process is so opaque from the outside when you’re a jobseeker – you may think you were perfect for a job (and you were) and not even hear a peep.

    3. Hellanon

      I had an ad up on Indeed this summer that asked for a fairly specific skillset/experience combo and got 140 responses. Of those, I did phone interviews with 8, interviewed 6, and really only wanted (and hired, yay!) one. So yes…

    4. JustaCPA

      I recently posted an admin job and I had over 400 applicants (I’m guessing because it was a fiarly entry level position and didnt require a college degree but it was an office job). I interviewed 5-6 candidates, tossed 3 immediately, made on offer to one who had just accepted another offer and so went with our number 2 pick who has been FABULOUS.

    5. Alisanora

      I’m surprised the interviewers are telling you how many candidates applied. Are you asking about it in interviews?

      1. Raven

        Not for this job – they actually told me straight off the bat, within the first minute or two of our interview call!

        The 39/4 job, I asked at the end of my internship period and they told me. The 22/8 job, I had a long interview initially (and it was so long because I established a really good rapport with the interview and we actually met up separately a few days later in a cafe for a more casual followup), and I felt comfortable enough to ask during the second meeting.

    6. Gumby

      Yes. Absolutely. We posted a position that garnered ~150 applicants and we’ve interviewed… 5? maybe 6? And this is a position for which the job description required a Ph.D. in a particular field – thus pretty specific. Not even “teapot design” but “ceramic teapot design” levels of specificity. I don’t know if all of the applicants actually had the degree, but I assume that less-restrictive job listings get even more people applying.

      In previous positions I have been privy to all of the applications and there is a depressingly large number of people who apply who *clearly* did not read the job description. Or have any idea what the company did. (I’m looking at you recent-grad whose cover letter to an internet company talked about your desire to get into architecture/construction for some reason.)

  78. Lola

    I am having issues at work, and I’m worried that I am just too in it to realize what is not okay and what is par for the course.
    The short story is that my manager sucks, and not only is he changing, but he’s changing for the worst. I first took it in stride and used it as an opportunity to take on more tasks, responsibility, and eventually was promoted to deputy on our project. But… each time myself, my manager, and my grandboss work together to right the sinking ship, there’s not much follow through. I’ve been putting out my manager’s fires over and over, which tend to happen right when a major deliverable is due, resulting in late submission and a bad example to those outside of my department. I’m overworked, underpaid, racing towards burn out, and often held responsible for the failures of our team. My manager gives me no direction, no feedback, and every single task I work on is because I initiate it. He does not communicate anything with anyone. My other colleagues and I have tried to right problems, but they never stick because ultimately, our manager is the head of this department. 6 months ago, we got a new Director. She has high expectations and has already given me ‘coaching’ on things that are so not in line with the direction and signals that I have received from grandboss. Most recently, I was hospitalized for an unexpected serious illness and a lot of our department’s work fell to pieces. Now that I am slowly returning to work, the Director is coming to me upset over the state of our work. My manager slips away to all day meetings with various partners, but never with the team. I am hearing from my grandboss to take my time returning to work, to not feel responsible for the things that fell apart, and that I’ve done a wonderful job overall. The way the Director is talking to me leads me to believe that she is unhappy with my performance. I’ve brought up the management challenges many times, even when the Director came on board (but in a much nicer way, ‘I’ve struggled with feeling discouraged during my time in this department’). Now I’m thinking, why isn’t my manager being held accountable for this? Why is it falling on me when I was in the hospital for weeks? Am I in the wrong here? What do I need to change, because clearly the management issues that I have brought up over the past year have not been addressed? And if the thing I need to change is my job… anyone hiring in international development?

    1. Anna Held

      Yes, I think you need to change your job. This is all issues above you. Take care of your health and take care of your career — you have bad management, so there’s no guarantee this won’t fall on you anyway.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Lola

        Thank you for this validation. You are so right about taking care of my career (and of course my health!) — it’s performance evaluation time and my manager has completely disregarded it. I scheduled a meeting with him and he wasn’t prepared, so we rescheduled. Then he just didn’t show up for our second meeting. I scheduled with grandboss for Monday. So begins my job search!

    2. Binky

      I have no real advice, but this is super not your fault. I’m also not sure if your Grandboss or your Director is more senior. Either way I think I’d go talk with Grandboss about what’s up – she needs to intervene with the Director for you – although the tone will be different depending on their respective seniority.

      I would also do my best to document your work and the lack of communication with your manager, and when the Director comes to you, let her know that you are waiting on responses from him. I’m not thinking of a log, but something more like an “update list” of your current projects with the stages they are in and whatever you need to take next steps, and deadlines. That way you can just forward it to the Director and note what you’re waiting to hear back on.

      Take care of your health, that’s the most important thing.

      1. Lola

        Thank for the validation :) My Director is above my Grandboss. My Grandboss and I started at the same time, so she’s seen the whole thing and I can speak candidly with her. I scheduled a coaching meeting with her on Monday to talk about this and, if I have the guts, ask flat out if anything is going to change in the management of the department. Good idea on the list of things; I’ll work on that and have it ready for that meeting.

        And yes, my health. The stress of this does not make recovery easy. I am very anxious about work and I want to point out to my superiors that this is not a good environment for me to be productive while I heal. But I’m scared of the ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen’ type response that I’ve heard from higher ups in the org…

  79. Teapot librarian

    We haven’t had an episode of General Hoarder in a while. (I had forgotten I was using modified soap opera names for a while!) As I think I mentioned a few weeks ago, I finally prioritized writing a disciplinary notice. The causes were general insubordination (this is no longer an official “cause” per our HR regulations, but it is activity that affects the efficiency of our work), failure to follow instructions and neglect of duty (both for a pattern of minor issues, each which on their own look petty for me to be concerned about), and discriminatory practices for things he’s said that he would not have said were it not for my sex and race. So I write this notice. It’s 6 pages, very detailed, has 22 or so supporting documents. I tell my boss that I’ve done this, the reasons, and so forth, and she says, essentially, “eh, no biggie. I don’t think I’m going to support a suspension. Send me everything to review.” (The way discipline works, a supervisor can’t unilaterally impose discipline; it has to be approved by a higher up.) So now I have to wait for my boss to say go ahead and issue the suspension, and I’ll b