open thread – December 14-15, 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.

{ 1,475 comments… read them below }

  1. FaintlyMacabre*

    After the clusterduck that was/is this week, I think I’ve moved beyond BEC stage with my job and moved into the “burn it all to the ground” stage.

    But to the point, my question:

    I am trying to change fields and part of that effort means getting certificatons/taking classes/blablah you know the drill. I need to take a webinar. Because I do not have vacation time, and the webinar runs for a couple hours on two different days, I have to be at work during the time of the webinar. Which is not ideal, but I have a lot of busy work stuff I can do while the webinar is running. Again, not great, but it is what it is.

    The problem is my coworker/relative. In theory, coworker relative is scheduled to leave two hours before I get in. (We do the same job, different shifts.) In reality, coworker/relative rarely leaves by the scheduled time, and is frequently around for an hour or more during my shift. This bugs me, but trust me when I say it isn’t going to change.

    The webinar starts at exactly the time I’m scheduled to get into work. I assume coworker/relative will be there. Given that we share a computer, I will need to ensure that the computer is free. I really don’t want to let coworker/relative know that I’m taking this course, but I don’t know how. Chances are good that they’ll be around and I can’t lie and say I need the computer for work stuff. Do I bite the bullet and come clean? Do I just say it’s a webinar and try to deflect questions? Give them chocolate laced with laxatives? (Okay, no I wouldn’t do that last one, but I really need to leave this company and I’m annoyed that coworker/relative’s problematic behaviour, which is a part of why I want to leave, is making it just that much harder for me to just leave already!!!)

    1. Tara S.*

      Can you start listening to the webinar on your phone, and move over to the computer once coworker leaves?

      1. Trinity Beeper*

        +1 for this – a lot of webinar hosts will also give out the recording and/or a copy of the slides later, so you can catch what you missed visually.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      So the co-worker’s “problematic behavior” is wanting to use the computer you share for work instead of letting you use the shared computer for something else that might be for work but is really for your own professional development to change fields and get out of your job? Maybe I’m misreading?

      1. FaintlyMacabre*

        Coworker stretches out an 8 hour shift into 12. Yes, sometimes they are doing work when I get there, but there is no reason why they couldn’t have gotten it done earlier. And while this isn’t work, sometimes I get into work and have to twiddle my thumbs while they are doing stuff. And sometimes they just stay and want to chat. They shouldn’t be there at all! If they were any other coworker, their work would be done and be gone by the time I arrive.

      2. Peachkins*

        I think the problematic behavior is the fact that coworker doesn’t leave on time. If they did, the computer sharing would be a non-issue. I do get what you’re saying though, lol.

    3. your favorite person*

      Is the content of the webinar in any way connected to your current work? If not, I honestly don’t think you should be doing it at work. I know that at many workplaces, it could certainly be something you could get in trouble for. Even if you know there is no way you would get caught, I still wouldn’t do it.

      I know that isn’t the answer you are looking for, but I don’t think you should be training for a job search at your current job during work hours.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I think a good gauge would be “Can I be forthright about attending this webinar without people saying ‘Hey, that has nothing to do with your job’?” If the answer is yes, then just tell people you need to take this webinar. If the answer is no, don’t do that at work.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        This. And using work resources–if you don’t want work to know you’re looking, don’t use their electronics to take certification courses, email your resume, etc.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      Can you book time off in the morning for an “appointment” and do the webinar from home. Honestly, that’s probably the best way to do it. Otherwise, not only will your co-irker be around, but anyone might come by and require your attention for, you know, work stuff.

      1. Psyche*

        That would be the ideal solution. If the webinar is not related to current job it is really tough to justify doing it while on the clock.

      2. FaintlyMacabre*

        Unfortunately, I have no time off. And with being closed on Christmas and Ne Years, I really can’t afford to just not be here. Plus, I can’t afford to have the internet at home, so…. work it is! I’m not worried about interruptions. I rarely have to interact with people on a day to day basis.

    5. gecko*

      Is your coworker/relative using the computer for work stuff? Do you both often use the computer for non-work stuff?

      I don’t really think it’s possible to do a scheme so you can watch the webinar and your coworker doesn’t know anything about it, but still changes their behavior.

      If it’s pretty acceptable for you both to do non-work stuff on the computer, I’d say, “Hey, there was something I was planning to watch as I did work right when my shift begins. Could I get the computer when I walk in for the next few Tuesdays?” or whatever you need on that front.

    6. notfunny*

      Will the webinar be recorded so you can listen later? that might be more useful than having to be so secretive about viewing it while your coworker is there…

    7. Madge*

      Often webinars are recorded for later. Could you check and see if a link will be shared later? Maybe it won’t work for you if you need to check in during the scheduled time but it could be an option.

    8. Urdnot Bakara*

      ^ Seconding what the commenters said above about it being recorded. I run a bunch of webinars at my current job and we record every single one. The only thing is, if you are taking this webinar as part of your certification, it may be required that you attend the live program in order to get credit for it. The next thing, then, is how do they account for attendance? If they just need you to be logged in for a certain amount of time, then you can probably get by with missing a few minutes at the beginning of the program while you get your coworker situation sorted out. If they do it through attendance checks (polling questions), then there’s no telling when those will be, so it may be a problem if you miss part of it. Might want to check on these things with whoever is running the webinar!

    9. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, that’s a pickle. Sounds like coworker has a better reason for staying on the computer than you do, considering that you’ll be using the computer to watch a webinar that will ultimately help you leave your job. Whereas your coworker may be doing actual work.

    10. Database Developer Dude*

      But you *are* using the computer for work stuff….just not for your CURRENT workplace, so technically, that’s not a lie.

      How close is the relative?

  2. Anonymous Educator*

    Two weeks seems pretty standard, but what’s the longest notice anyone’s ever given? Any stories of long notice that have gone well? Or have gone horribly, far worse than you thought it would?

    1. Ree*

      When my husband was in his last year of college, he accepted a job offer in October to start the following June, in a different city. I told my boss around the first of the year and we just made plans for me to transition out mid May. It worked out well, but it was definitely a YMMV, because I probably wouldn’t have given such a long notice at my last job.

    2. JokeyJules*

      i had a manager give 8 weeks notice which backfired entirely because he procrastinated on training me to pick up the slack in his absence, and the company procrastinated in finding him a replacement. So when his last day came everyone was in a tizzy because nobody was trained to cover his workload and there was no replacement in sight.

      granted, that’s all errors on management. It could have gone perfectly if executed better!

      1. Ok_Fortune*

        My coworker gave 6 months notice bc she was accepted to graduate school. It was fine, she stayed focused on work, everyone was happy for her new opportunity.

    3. Reba*

      My spouse once gave notice that he was leaving for graduate school like 4+ months in advance. And I think the company knew in a general way that he was considering grad school even before that. They then laid him off in July, and it was made clear that it was easier for them to do that because they knew he was leaving soon anyway. So he missed out on about a month and a half of pay. Not the end of the world for us, but not the most awesome situation either.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        He filed for unemployment for that time though, right?
        You can’t always claim once school starts, but he should have received from last day until his initial last day.

    4. your favorite person*

      My friend worked for the MOST TOXIC boss ever. She finally was able to snag a new job and wanted to give 3 weeks. He said he needed 6. She said she couldn’t do more than 4. He said if she didn’t give him 6, he was going to call over to her new place and talk them into letting her start at 6 weeks. He said he had, “connections” and if she didn’t play nice he would trash talk her to her new place and they would rescind the offer. She was scared, and believed him as he had done something similar with another employee so she did stay 6 more weeks. Luckily, she’s been out of that Toxic Job for more than a year now.

      1. Mimmy*

        My jaw hung wide open reading that….what an a**! Glad you were able to get out without him ruining your new job.

        1. yebroqlp*

          I worked for a toxic start-up where the CEO would brag about doing things like this — he had “tons of connections”, he “knew everyone”, his “word carried a lot of weight”, quitting was treason & he would “make it so you never worked in this town again”, doing something he perceived as crossing him was a “career-ending decision”.

          I know Alison has mentioned it’s odd to not tell your current company where you’re going when you give notice, but I did exactly that. I was that afraid he just might be vindictive enough to tank my new job.

        1. your favorite person*

          She had to have a phone call reference before they were hire her, she asked her direct boss and the direct boss told big boss. All very, very sketchy.

          1. your favorite person*

            and the phone call reference HAD to be at the current company. It was a government position she was going to and they had very strict rules. She tried to work around them and they couldn’t hire her without doing that.

    5. anon24*

      When I got engaged I let my boss know “hey we’ll be getting married in a year and are thinking we’re not staying in the area.”. Six months out “yeah we’re definitely leaving”. About 4 months out “hey we’re actually looking for apartments so I’ll be gone around this time for sure. And then about 5 weeks out it was “found an apartment and my last day will be X”.

      It went well, but it was a small business and I had a great relationship with my boss. He’d trained me for 2 years before promoting me to my position so I wanted him to have time to start training a replacement if he was planning to promote from within verse outside hire. In the end he begged me to stay but knew I really couldn’t.

    6. Lena Clare*

      Hi there! I think the rule of thumb here is basically how often you get paid should be equivalent to the notice you give. I mean there are going to be exceptions of course. I think professional Americans get paid every fortnight, is that right?
      Anyway, here (the UK) it’s a month’s notice for a standard office-type/professional job. I have never had any problems with working my notice out at all!
      The longest notice I have given was about 3 months (a full term time) as a teacher – and again that was not a problem. In fact that is standard in teaching and in the NHS.

        1. Catleesi*

          Based on personal experience the only places I’ve worked where I’ve been paid monthly are for the government, or some kind of public entity. Working in retail, or for private companies it has been 2x a month.

          1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

            Nor mine. Everyone I know with a professional position (including myself) gets paid every two weeks.

        2. Spreadsheets and Books*

          I work in finance for a publicly-traded company in NYC. Just took a poll of the floor and no one here has ever worked in a company that paid monthly. May be more field or region-specific

        3. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I get paid semi-monthly. Def a professional position, even have a state certification with the word in its name.

        4. RUKiddingMe*

          Pretty much not unless it’s the government or something like that. Even working at the university I get paid weekly.

        5. CDM*

          My husband was paid monthly for maybe 9 months about 15 years ago, a change instituted after his employer was bought by a company headquartered in India. That change got rolled back because, oops, it’s illegal under NJ law. Employees must be paid no less than twice a month by law in NJ.
          It appears in PA that employers can pay employees as infrequently as they want, as long as they disclose it to employees at the time of hire. (which would have also made the employer’s actions illegal)

        6. SignalLost*

          I’ve only been paid monthly when I was a college teacher. I’ve been paid biweekly and bimonthly. (Yes, I know those words don’t have the same tine designation. I’m American and don’t use fortnight.)

          1. SignalLost*

            Wait, no, I got paid bimonthly when I was teaching. I’ve never been paid monthly and I don’t know anyone who is.

            1. The Grammarian*

              I was paid monthly at one university and twice a month at another one. In private industry, I’m paid twice a month.

        7. Audiophile*

          That is heavily dependent on the field and industry.

          In government, it is not unusual to get paid monthly. Almost every job I have ever held, has paid employees bi-weekly. I had one retail position, years ago, that paid weekly and that was the only exception.

          1. SignalLost*

            My temp jobs all paid weekly, but that was both understandable and not the norm anywhere I worked permanently.

        8. Seeking Second Childhood*

          US-based engineering & manufacturing company on the Fortune 100.
          Payroll checks are issued every other Friday.

        9. Rusty Shackelford*

          Wow – I guess my experience is skewed by my industry! I didn’t know getting paid monthly was so rare.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        I think that yes every two weeks/twice monthly seems to be pretty normal, but then in some areas every week is more the norm. Government jobs, some academic jobs, etc. are monthly…but not always.

        My mom was career at the VA (Veteran’s Administration) and she got paid twice per month, every single month, for forty years. When I work at the university I get paid weekly. My niece working for a private employer gets paid monthly but with a bi-weekly “draw…” So it really depends on the employer more than anything.

    7. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I gave ~two months of notice when I left my last job in 2016.

      My husband was graduating medical school and we knew the chances of him matching to a residency outside the immediate area were high. My bosses knew it was a possibility as I had talked often about the Match and my husband’s medical education, but I played up wanting to stay local as we did truly like the area. As expected, my husband matched to a city 1,100 miles away, and there was no way to not let my anyone know as I had taken Match Day off to celebrate with him and had to argue to get that day off as we were very short-staffed and my PTO requests were regularly denied. Everything went fine. My bosses were happy for me and for my husband’s successful match, and there were no issues as I finished out my work. They were very understanding and I left without incident.

      1. OhNo*

        One of my coworkers did something very similar when her partner got out of medical school and was looking at residency. She gave our boss around four months notice (we’re in higher ed, so about a semester), and the rest of us coworkers two months notice once she had her plans firmed up. Luckily, our department was – and is – very close-knit and friendly, so there were no worries about any negative consequences during the long notice period.

    8. Memyselfandi*

      I gave my last employer 6 week’s notice. I was making an interstate move so I needed the time to make the transition, but it was a disaster. My boss was so taken aback that I was leaving (which I totally do not understand because I thought I was getting signals that it was time to move on) that she told me not to tell anyone until she had a replacement lined up. So, I had to sit on the news, going to community meetings with people I had worked with for years, knowing that I would not see many of them again, and unable to say goodbye. It also made it difficult for me psychologically to start the moving process. It didn’t help that I had experienced some personal losses as well. It was a time of big transitions for me and I was not allowed to handle it in my own way. It was one of the hardest periods of my life. In retrospect it was very selfish of her and not out of line with her general behavior seen from the distance time provides. Do what is best for yourself.

      1. WhiskyGinger*

        I’m sorry that it was a negative experience for you! How long did she make you wait? If it was a high-visibility role, I could see asking someone to hold off for a week or two, in order to be able to come up with a communication strategy etc. I don’t think that’s totally out of line – though I’d be interested to hear what others think.

        1. Observer*

          A few days to get a communications strategy in place is sensible. More than that – especially asking for time to find a replacement – is both out of line and stupid. It almost invariably backfires on the organization.

    9. Hillary*

      I gave two months at my last job and they talked me into three (and held up their end of the deal, so no regrets there). I didn’t have something lined up when I gave notice. It worked out well because I had a good boss, grand-boss, and great-grand-boss. They all knew why I was leaving. I recruited and hired my replacement and then we had a couple weeks together so she could learn what I did. She put her own stamp on it.

      I ended up getting a call about an offer while I was sitting in my exit interview. I took a couple weeks off and really happy with my current role.

      I had one boss who explicitly told me to not give him more than two weeks so it wouldn’t influence any decisions.

    10. anonykins*

      My last job was a true contract job (not in the US) and had a 90-day notice period built in to the contract. The owners of the company were litigious and one in particular looked for ways to not pay employees when they left, so I felt it was best to give the full 90 days. I was extremely nervous, and I had to give notice before I’d found another position because of that long notice period, but it turned out OK. The owners didn’t try to deny me any compensation and even paid out my unused vacation time (didn’t think they’d do that AT ALL). They were disappointed I was leaving but didn’t treat me any differently than they had before (that is, they continued to keep me frustratingly in the dark about things pertaining to my position). Because I had *started* my job search before I gave notice, and I chose to give notice at a time when I knew my industry was in one of the yearly busy hiring seasons, I ended up with two job offers on the table about half way through my notice period. It went about as well as I imagine it could have, honestly!

    11. Rey*

      The person I replaced gave 8-9 months notice. Basically, she was moving from a full-time to a part-time position at the same organization, and the organization’s policy required a 6 month break between full and part time employment (something to do with not paying health care benefits for part time employees, maybe?). She gave 8-9 months notice to allow for the application and interview process, and we had one full month of training before she left and I was on my own. I think it worked really well in that case, because she knew that her office wasn’t going to push her out before her final day, and her boss trusted her to train her replacement (versus not wanting overlap to avoid passing on bad habits)

    12. AnonyMouse*

      Funny story about giving notice… at the university I work at, I’m technically a staff member but I have the same type of contract as faculty/those with teaching appointments do. There’s a clause in my contract because of this that says that they can require up to 90 days notice for resignations. Obviously this makes sense for those teaching courses that they be expected to finish the semester. It DOES NOT make sense for staff/non-teaching appointments! However, directors on our campus LOVE to exploit this. I had a coworker who was required to give three months notice (they were leaving to work for a family business, so luckily they had flexibility) and it was a nightmare. They wanted to be gone, we wanted them gone, etc. I had another coworker who needed to give two weeks (which is standard in our industry), and my boss told him the university would threaten him with legal action. My coworker went above my boss to inquire about this through central HR and he found out my boss basically lied about that to try to scare him out of leaving. It’s a mess, and I can’t wait to leave (and only give two weeks notice!)

      1. Robot With Human Hair*

        Having previously worked at a university for 17 years, I’m not the least bit surprised. All the sketchy stuff they tried to pull at my last job (and sometimes successfully) was insane.

    13. Liz*

      I gave 6 weeks notice at my last company and am so glad I did. There was no ill will — I just had a job offer for 20% more pay and a way better benefits package, and I couldn’t say no. I got the offer in late October and didn’t want to start a new job during the holidays, so I negotiated a start date 2 months out (super generous on the employer’s part, and a great way to kick off a working relationship).

      I was initially planning to keep my resignation a secret until December, but I wanted to take the last 2 weeks of the year off and I really liked my boss, so I decided to risk giving him 6 weeks of notice. He was disappointed, but once he got over that, we worked together to put together a solid transition plan. I helped him hire my backfill and was able to mentor the backfill for the last couple of weeks I was on the team. I was able to finish a bunch of projects and hand off anything I didn’t completely finish. Since I had some extra time in my last few weeks, my boss asked me to operate as a leadership consultant in the last few weeks. I developed some leadership training, coached leaders to think through their challenges in new ways, and left them with a bunch of new ideas they pursued after I left. This was really fun for me (I want to go into consulting and love L&D), but it also helped the broader organization shift direction in a positive way in the months after I left. Win/win.

    14. CTT*

      6 months’ notice, albeit those were unusual circumstances – I got into law school in January and the people I worked with were aware that I was applying and mentally had “well, if CTT does leave this year, it would be in the summer” scheduled. After I found out, we spent some time figuring out when my last day would be, and then we started looking for a replacement in February, who ended up starting in April so I had several months to train her. It worked really well, but again, it was special circumstances.

    15. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      I gave 3 months notice once because I was moving to a different state and had finagled a long lag in start date because I had to sell my house. I thought they would be happy to have months for me to transition my very heavy workload and even have time to hire someone new if they wanted to go that route.

      I gave notice at 11:00am on a Tuesday. They handed me a box and told me to GTFO as they were terminating me immediately. I had multiple meetings scheduled and a bunch of customers awaiting return calls, and I have no idea how they picked up the pieces since I didn’t even have anyone backing me up on the accounts – I was the sole repository on information and had been for five years.

      It was devastating at the time and not at all what I expected, but in retrospect it worked out okay. I took my 3 year old out of daycare, fought for and got unemployment for the three months, and put all my efforts into packing my entire life up while keeping my house clean enough for showings (which would have actually been challenging with both my husband and I working full time,while caring for a toddler with no extended family around). Oh, and the company that fired me went out of business two years later, and the schadenfreude was indeed delicious.

      That said, I will never give more than two weeks notice again unless I’m in a position where it wouldn’t be a hardship if I’m shown the door.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        That is common around here. My friend works in tech. Gave his 4 months notice at 8 am. He and his stuff in a box was out at noon.

        His boss didn’t even see him out. Just two security personnel.

      2. Observer*

        I have no doubt that the way they handled you had something to do with what happened to them. It’s incredible how often the decent thing to do is also the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do is also wildly stupid.

    16. Ama*

      My brother kind of gave several months notice when he joined the military years ago, because he applied to a special training program that was brand new and they accepted their first class before they had quite figured out exactly where and when their training would be. So he told his boss (he was working at a small IT firm at the time) and actually offered to go ahead and set a last day if they wanted to get a replacement hired, but the boss was very supportive and told him they were willing to have him continue working until he had an official start date for his training. I’m sure it helped that he was a high performer and they were a relatively small business.

      I think it ended up being about four months from his initial conversation with his bosses to the point where the military gave him a definite start date for his training and he then put in his official two weeks. He recently left the military and returned to our hometown, and still has lunch with his old boss from that company from time to time.

    17. Iza*

      I think I gave about 5-6 months notice when I left my old job to go to grad school. My boss and coworkers knew I was applying (our VP wrote me a recommendation letter) and I knew they would let me stay the full time. It worked out really well!

    18. Art3mis*

      I gave about a month’s noticed when we relocated to a new city. It went fine, I guess. All my work was transitioned smoothly. And after ten years of service I went out with nary a whisper. There was no good bye party, no card, no good luck, no please come back if you return to the area. Nothing. I just turned in my badge to security on my last day. After ten years in this city, every time I’ve hated the decision to move and leave that job I remind myself that other than my friends, no one cared that I left.

    19. KR*

      I gave four months notice because I a)knew I would not be pushed out b)was moving so I knew ahead of time c)knew I had a lot to do before I left and my manager would need to prepare for my absence because he depended on me and d)wanted to be able to job search and have managers full support

    20. KK*

      I gave 6 months without anything else lined up because some parts of the job were seasonal and I couldn’t keep pretending I was going to be doing the job after that point- it was just flat out lying. I wanted to be up front and help them transition as smoothly as possible. This ended up being great because my boss was wonderful and encouraged me to look internally, where I found a job in another department and very happily moved over there.

    21. Robot With Human Hair*

      I gave three MONTHS notice at my last job (at a university). And that was out of the kindness of my heart – not toward my boss, but toward the faculty I serviced. Because if I had only given two weeks – which would have been right around the start of the Fall Semester – the university would have been pretty rightly screwed, as I was the sole person on campus doing my (pretty crucial) job.

    22. Beth Anne*

      I interviewed at a job where the person before gave a 2 week notice but whoever she told never told the big boss (who is always traveling) until a week later. Then he was mad that I couldn’t start for 2 weeks after I gave notice. I didn’t get an offer but I didn’t want that job anyway. It was way too unorganized for me.

      I moved from TX to FL 7 years ago and when I left I gave about a month notice. It was fine. But yeah she didn’t start interviewing people for my job until like a week or two before I left and she didn’t hire anyone until after I left. I did do some work remotely for about a week or two after I left though.

    23. Amberlyn*

      In my last job I did one-on-one in-home care for kids with behavior disorders, and at the time I decided to move, I was on a few tough cases. I gave a little over five weeks’ notice to give the company plenty of time to replace me on each case. I was taken off of one case the next day (5 hours weekly pay) and transitioned off of two more the next week, putting me down to 12 hours per week. That left me with my two hardest cases until my last day. Of course, injuries from those two cases were a big part of the reason I was leaving that job in the first place…

    24. Not my circus, not my monkeys*

      Well, I gave notice the beginning of June. My last day was a week into August. They still haven’t hired a replacement and the staff are still emailing me questions. I gave such an extended notice because I genuinely care for the place and want the very best. It’s frustrating

    25. Jake*

      I gave 7 weeks at my first job. Between giving notice and leaving my wife was diagnosed with cancer, and my employer approached me saying they’d keep me if I wanted to rescind my resignation so we wouldn’t be locked in to moving across the country and changing doctors and all that.

      We still moved, but knowing they were understanding about it reaffirmed to me that the long notice was not a bad decision.

      1. Owler*

        That’s very kind. I I had a similar good experience after a health challenge. My company let me stay on part time, mostly so I could get health insurance.

    26. RabbitRabbit*

      I gave a month and they didn’t even realize they hadn’t posted the job until the 3rd week – when I told them because a colleague wanted to refer someone for the opening. I continued to help out on and off (as I still worked at the same institution in a related job, with the blessing of my manager) for what turned into months.

    27. Red Reader*

      I gave two and a half months notice when I left my old position to move across the country. We were already understaffed by half (three of us, one of whom was part time, on a team designed for 6-7 FTEs), so I knew I wasn’t getting shoved out early, and my intention was to let my management have plenty of time to hopefully get a replacement in. However, two weeks after I gave my notice, the other FTE pulled us all into a conference room to let us know that she had inoperable cancer and would be dropping to half time immediately, and my manager didn’t even get my position posted before I left. My coworker passed away a couple weeks after I left. So I didn’t have any negative results, but I have no idea how that worked out for my old department.

    28. Karen from Finance*

      I started to loooooathe my job, and thus my performance plummeted. My manager and supervisor sat me down and asked what was up with me, and I confessed that I was job hunting. I didn’t give formal 2 week notice until a job offer was made, which made it in total 5 weeks that I was working there where my bosses knew of my intent to leave. It was good I think. They were nice about it.

    29. Bluebell*

      6 weeks at my last job and 4 weeks at the one before. We had a very senior person at my org who told sr team 4 months ahead of departure. He and his boss planned it for a year.

    30. Jules the 3rd*

      I gave 4mo for the job before grad school. Worked out well, they got the replacement they wanted, trained and in place.

    31. Rez123*

      My dads contract says 6 months notice. He never resigned, but that was written down in his contract. For us lower level employees it is 2 weeks if you’ve worked for the company for less than 5 years and then 1 month after 5 years. This is pretty much standard everywhere. Higher ups have different times in their contracts-

      1. Karen from Finance*

        What is your dad’s industry? I understand 6 months for teachers or maaaybe for high-level executives. Otherwise it sounds crazy.

        1. Rez123*

          He is in engineering. This is usually done only for higher ups in big companies. It works the other way too. If he would have gotten fired (retired now) they would have had to pay him 6 months salary.

          Teachers have the same 2 week notice before 5 years and then 1 month after 5 years as majority of people. This is in defined in the employment law and in the collectoce Labour agreement unless otherwise stated in the contract.

          If fired then your notice is 2 weeks if youve worked there under a year, 1 month if 1-4 years, 2 months if 4-8 years, 4 months if 8-12 years and 6 months if 12+

    32. Applesauced*

      I gave 3-4 weeks notice a few years ago.
      I interviewed for a job in September, the position was put on hold, they interviewed me again in November, offered me the job in early/mid-November, and I asked to start in 3 or 4 weeks instead of 2 because of a large project (that was understaffed and a large part of why I left) ending at OldJob.
      Based on how the calendar fell, NewJob suggested I start in January, otherwise I’d begin the week of Christmas when no one would be there to train me.

      OldJob was happy because I helped see the project through, and I was happy because I got a week and a half off at the holidays without using PTO – I even got some unused time paid out from OldJob!

    33. Ann Perkins*

      When I first started with the office where I am now, the person who preceded me gave about 4 months’ notice. She was pregnant with her second and knew she wanted to stay home and wanted to leave when she was around 36 weeks pregnant. It worked out very well because she was able to train me on a job that takes several weeks of training without bogging down other resources. There was overlap pay because I started before she left but it worked out great. She’d been in the job for about 6 years and was well liked so she didn’t fear being pushed out. After a few years, my boss moved on to a higher role at a different company and gave 1 month’s notice. Again, reasonable organization and no fear of being pushed out because our roles are very niche so it’s hard to find replacements.

    34. H.C.*

      I’ve given 4 weeks notice before – which gave me plenty of time to close out / transition my then-current projects, and ease of mind for my managers when recruiting my replacement, who started a week after my last day.

    35. TeacherLady*

      I used to teach a subject that was hard to find teachers for at a school in a remote location. I think I had to let them know in February or March if I was going to come back for the following school year or not. I was happy to do it, as they were a great employer and I understood the reasons. But it meant there was no way I could line up another job before giving notice at that one.

    36. SDSmith82*

      I tried to give more when I left my last job- I really did like the owner/boss on a personal level, but was seriously underpaid. I wanted to give her notice in person, but she kept avoiding the office (sort of on purpose). She ended up getting 1.5 weeks instead of the 3+ I’d wanted to give her. We were relocating, so my move date/start date were not negotiable.

      I had one other time where I gave my boss three weeks- he kept it from big boss until 2 weeks, and while he was totally ok with my leaving, (proud of me for it even) big boss tried to make it hell, including delaying my final check by a full week- and issuing it on one of those hard as heck to deal with debit cards. Labor board made them pay me for the delay, and for the additional fees that stupid card created. Big Boss knew my exit interview would be his undoing, and I’m happy to say it was. Two weeks after my exit interview, I got a thank you email in my personal email for being the final straw needed to get big boss and his minions fired.

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

      I gave around 3 months notice at my last job, and it was fine! They decided not to make it public until about one month before, but my manager and her manager knew so they were taking it into account for long-term planning.

      Another job I gave a month notice, that was fine. I don’t think I’ve ever given less than one month (except the occasional terrible service industry job that I left without notice at all, or maybe with a week notice).

    38. Llellayena*

      A year and a half, and I told them during my interview. I was applying to grad school and wanted to work in the field I was entering while I put together my portfolio for application. I did get let go about 3 months early, but it was right when the recession hit. Great time to be headed off to grad school!

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Similar to this, I had been accepted to grad school and based on the offer, deferred for a year. I had applied for an internship but they offered me a FT position, with the unspoken part being that it was contingent on my leaving after a year. So they knew I would be leaving about 14 months after I started. (As it happened, I was invited to stay in the position if I wanted so I wasn’t really forced out, but I needed the advanced degrees to progress in the field.)

    39. Wishing You Well*

      My friend’s boss wanted a year’s notice from her, because he said it would take that long to train her replacement. She gave him a few months’ notice instead. Her in-house replacement was very disagreeable and resistant to training. Shortly after my friend left, her whole department (and project) was eliminated.

    40. Public Sector Manager*

      I gave 90 days notice to my last employer (back in 2005). Worst mistake I ever made. My manager at the time was relatively new, insecure, and was a walking train wreck.

      During that 90 day period, my workload went up, my manager denied time off (I was able to cash out 100% of my accrued leave however), and my manager became an even bigger pain to deal with.

      I won’t ever do that again!

    41. MissDisplaced*

      I gave approx. 3 months once, but only because I knew I was moving across the country and we had a set timeframe. Interestingly, the company didn’t even hire a replacement, despite the 3 month notice. It’s like they were in denial or something. My manager was fine and appreciated the long notice, but said the owner of the company felt sort of ‘betrayed,’ which was nuts as my decision had nothing to do with the job or company. Other than that, things went ok.

    42. Ann O'Nemity*

      Super long notices seem to work well if the leaving is for a “good” reason. Retirement. Going back to school. Moving for family. Something that doesn’t involve the company.

      I gave four month notice when I was accepted to a non-local grad school. Went fine. The only weirdness was my own FOMO rearing its head when I was increasingly left out of important meetings and decisions, but I rationally understood why the company stopped including me in that type of thing.

    43. Award winning llama wrangler*

      I quit one job with the understanding that I would stay until the new person was trained as I was leaving without anything else lined up and no plans to look for awhile. After 15 months when they started looking for the fourth replacement (two of the three previous replacements quit because they were hospitalized for work-related stress), I finally said enough. Management was not nearly as terrible to me as they were to other people and it really wasn’t awful for me until the very very end.

    44. You'll see why I want to be anon for this*

      Twice, and never again.

      The first time wasn’t really giving notice; everyone knew I had been accepted into an educational program that would soon start. The organization ran into financial issues and laid off my entire department, up to the VP, giving them a decent severance package – except for me. I later learned that I had been slated to be laid off, but they decided to wait me out when I was accepted into the program. The severance package they offered folks would have been more than what I would have earned between then and when school started.

      I was no doubt the only one who would have appreciated the time off and severance, as it would have given me time and money to prepare for the move. But “fair enough,” I thought – until I learned they expected me to do the jobs of everyone had been laid off, which put me in a lot of questionable situations. I had to remind them that I didn’t have signatory authority, for example. I did it all to the best of my ability because I was worried about getting a good reference down the road. The workload was such that I ended up sleeping/living at work (we had a pumping room/sick room with a cot and shower in it) for multiple days in a row, all while I was (I later learned – long past our statute of limitations to report wage theft) misclassified as an exempt employee – and the living at work definitely pushed me below minimum wage.

      I did get one small piece of enjoyment out of it, though. Folks knew I had been accepted into the program but I had never discussed my intentions or timeline. So I let “slip” to leadership that I was seriously considering not entering the program for reasons x, y, and z and that it would make more sense to stick around. The looks on their faces were priceless, and one did this sputtering “well, well, we just assumed you were leaving, I mean, it’s such a good opportunity for you” etc. Maybe not my most professional moment, but I enjoyed it.

      The second time, I gave two months’ notice; I was in a government job that required living in what some have classified as a s-hole country (def not my opinion though – I loved it) for part of the year and required specialized knowledge of a place that wasn’t high on many people’s “to visit” or “to study about” lists. I thought it would be a challenging position to fill (it was) and that it would be a kindness to give them the extra time. I also thought it would allow me to freely document my job for the next person and whoever interimly held my duties until that person was hired, instead of having to rush at the end.

      So you know how *a lot* gets blamed on the person who recently left? Well with such a long notice period, that started happening while I was still around. So instead of documenting, I spent a lot of time proving that I hadn’t made the multitude of mistakes that started to be assigned to me. I guess it was nice to be able to defend my reputation, but it was an annoying waste of time, and disheartening (and sometimes really hurtful) to see how fast I was thrown under the bus by people I previously believed to have respected me and my work.

      Worse, my notice period covered the end of the year, when our annual reviews were conducted. We weren’t getting pay raises the next year, but money had already been set aside for merit bonuses for the previous year’s work. These were real merit bonuses, not a “anyone who isn’t on a disciplinary action gets a bonus” kind of deal. Basically, they took everyone’s annual review scores and gave bonuses to the top scores and worked down until they ran out of bonus money.

      I knew it was going to be bad when my supervisor started apologizing before she handed me my review. I had received a bunch of mediocre scores, which shocked me because my supervisor had always been complimentary about my work. She told me that the powers that be wanted the bonuses to stay with people who weren’t going to leave (“better for morale”) so she had to make sure my score was low enough that I didn’t end up in the group that was getting bonuses. Lots of apologies and acknowledgements that it was unfair, but that didn’t mean much to me. I mostly remember just a hazy blur of being upset and don’t remember if I signed it or not; I know she didn’t press me to. She then gave me, orally, a glowing “real” review, which I think was intended to be nice, but mostly added insult to injury.

      So no more long notice periods for met. If it weren’t violating workplace norms, I’d give same-day notices if I could. I know a lot of it is “know your organization” but honestly, I thought I did in both cases.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        This is a perfect example of why it’s better to give two weeks. Once you’re seen as abandoning ship, the employer loses all incentive to work with you or retain you. I’m sorry that happened to you twice :(

        1. You'll see why I want to be anon for this*

          I completely agree.

          I would never let myself be treated now the way my I let my employer treat me during my first lengthy “resignation” experience. I was young, it was my first office job, and my mentors had all just been laid off. They would have happily provided me advice, and when they learned what happened later on they were horrified, but at the time I felt it would be awkward and rude to talk to them about a job they had just been laid off from. But I’ve always been one to have learn things the hard way. :l

    45. JennyFair*

      I work in an industry where if you give your notice, of any length, and you are leaving for a job in the same industry, or they think you are, or they think it would be safer, they escort you out immediately. I’ll give two weeks’ notice when I leave, but no more than that.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        The proper notice period for any company that escorts you out is just under 2 hours. Set a meeting with your boss for 3pm on your last day.

    46. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      A year. I worked part time throughout it since it was all that was needed by that point.

    47. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

      I worked for a research study, and our grant was renewed at a much lower rate, which meant most of the staff would be laid off in 6 months. I was newly pregnant, planning to leave at the end of my pregnancy, and had not yet gone public that I was pregnant. So when the boss announced in a staff meeting he would be making some touch choices in the next few weeks about who could stay into the next fiscal year, I went to him and gave a 6 month notice. He was thrilled that he could count on me to stay until the end of the grant, when most people would (naturally) leave when they could for more secure work. I ended up with as much overtime as I wanted (without pressure to work more) and a raise and increase in responsibility that looked great on my resume when I went back to work a year after the baby was born!

    48. Lynne879*

      My co-worker at my last job gave a SIX MONTHS notice for her retirement (In June, she gave notice that she would leave in December), but she didn’t actually retire until a YEAR AND A HALF LATER, mostly because my boss kept begging her to stay (That and I also believe my coworker was having some money issues at the time, but I genuinely believe she stayed for as long as she did because my boss kept telling her he “needed” her).

      So the lesson here is NEVER give anything longer than a one month notice for leaving because you WILL be taken advantage of.

      1. Observer*

        Right because ONE story is totally universal and it WILL happen to everyone – even though it didn’t.

    49. Adereterial*

      If I were to give notice now, I’d need to give 10 weeks – 1 week per year of service. There’s no question of me being able to work it out, either – they’d have to pay me 10 weeks notice to leave as well.

    50. Jennifer85*

      I gave effectively 8/9 months notice in one job, where I said upfront that I was going to university and only had that amount of time before the course started. It was a receptionist position with relatively high turnover (I think) so they were happy to take me on that basis.

      It worked out remarkably well tbh – I was moved from my original role a couple of months early because they decided they should train a new person, but I was kept on to cover for other sites/do some other data analysis work. In hindsight they totally could have let me go at that point (which I didn’t even think of at the time) but it all worked out ok.

    51. sara*

      I gave about 3 months notice when I quit my job to change careers. I knew I’d be okay with not getting laid off or whatnot, mainly because there’s no way my boss cared enough to do that. But the main reason I did it was the person who had been working as a part-time/junior staff with me would have been the perfect replacement, and I knew she was really needing full-time work so was looking for additional jobs. So I wanted to get that figured out before she ended up getting hired elsewhere. She’s amazing at the job, and I think has done better than I ever did in the role (because she really loves the work, I just tolerated it).

      And thankfully it all worked out, they didn’t have to externally post my job because of reasons, we had about a week of overlap where I could train her on some new stuff, and also during that overlap, I was able to finalize various documentation etc. of a lot of the rare/seasonal bits of my job.

      My concern about giving so much notice wasn’t that I would get laid off, but that my boss would procrastinate and not hire anyone despite having months to do so (and an extra person to help with screening applicants if they’d posted externally). Turned out to have not been the case, which I’m super thankful for!

    52. Meteor*

      I’m a little late to this thread, but I gave 2 months notice to my employer when my husband got a job out of state. We were already short 1 person on the team, so they actually wanted to keep me employed for that full notice period, even allowing me to work remotely after I moved. Great company/bosses, and a really nice end to employment there, because I was able to wrap up projects or transition them well to other team members. I only recommend doing this if you have good standing with your bosses and you know that HR allows this type of situation.

  3. Tara S.*

    Maybe I’m overthinking this…

    My (male) boss was discussing (female) coworker with me. Coworker had said she felt like her position was 1.25 jobs—like she was a bit overextended because of the workload. My boss shared that he thought the job was not really a 1.25 FTE, just that coworker had been “distracted” the last year. He said that it was understandable, seeing as she got married, bought a house, and had a baby. “But. Still.”

    Ok, on the surface this seems like a harmless comment. I don’t know enough about coworker’s load/working style to say if she is really just underperforming (and I am perhaps biased because coworker and I have very similar careers and get on really well). HOWEVER. Boss has also been hard on other employees in the past for needing flexibility for kid related things. One former coworker was sometimes 10-15 minutes late because of kid-related things (her job was not super time-sensitive, as long as she got her work done she was fine), and boss really got on her case about it.

    Boss doesn’t have kids, and neither do I (right now, someday I would like to). These kind of comments make me feel like my boss would downgrade my value as an employee if I were to have kids. His comments aren’t that strong, nothing reportable, I’m going off intuition more than evidence here. What do y’all think?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This one is tough. On one hand, I’ve totally had a lot of coworkers who *feel* very busy and overextended, and talk about that a lot, when the workload should actually be fairly reasonable and others in the position have handled it fine. And I do think this is exacerbated when they have a lot going on outside of work, especially something innocuous like moving. So I can see where the bosses’ comment could be coming from.

      On the other hand, I also know a lot of people who aren’t at ALL sympathetic to child/family conflicts, and if it’s a pattern with this boss I think forewarned is forearmed when you’re thinking of your own likely trajectory under this person.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        Moving is high on the life stress index, so it’s not really innocuous. It can be especially demanding when you can’t take time out to get all set up and still have to run the gauntlet of work and other responsibilities.

        1. valentine*

          If your boss wants your butt in the seat at a particular time the business doesn’t require it, that’s where it needs to be. If you’re not going to shut him down, Tara S., you can stick up for your coworker, in hopes of improving your future lot.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Boss has also been hard on other employees in the past for needing flexibility for kid related things. One former coworker was sometimes 10-15 minutes late because of kid-related things (her job was not super time-sensitive, as long as she got her work done she was fine), and boss really got on her case about it.

      I’m not really sure where this falls in legal territory. I know in theory you can’t discriminate in hiring based on child/no child or married/not married status, and you usually have to provide some minimum parental leave policy for people with newborns. But I don’t know if there’s anything out there that says “Employers must be understanding about employees who have kids.” I mean, I think employers should be understanding about life circumstances in general (maybe you don’t have kids, but you take care of a relative who has special medical issues, or you have your own medical issues), but I don’t know if they’re legally required to be understanding and flexible.

      In terms of the 1.25 thing, your co-worker may be right or may not be right. Unfortunately, it kind of doesn’t matter, because if the boss isn’t going to take anything off her plate, she can keep asking for things to be taken off (which probably won’t happen), leave, or just deal with it.

      1. Psyche*

        Personally, I feel like it depends on how often “sometimes” is. If it happens once a month and he’s getting on her case, then he is being unreasonable. If it’s happening once a week, then the coworker needs to figure something out because their current childcare plan is falling short.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        There’s no law I’m aware of that says a company has to accommodate family responsibilities. They can’t discriminate if you can do the same work and they can’t pay you less for the same work, if I’m understanding – but I’m not a lawyer. Anyone else?

        1. Natalie*

          On a federal level, there’s no direct protection for marital status or children/no children (although there is a specific law covering pregnancy), but it can be an aspect of sex discrimination. So if the boss seems to only penalize women with children while ignoring men with children, that might be discriminatory.

          Some states might have directly covered family and/or marital status.

          1. Yorick*

            But there’s a difference between discriminating against someone with kids (e.g., not hiring them) and not being flexible to accommodate their responsibilities (e.g., letting them come in late when others can’t)

            1. Sloan Kittering*

              Yeah, you put this better than I did. Companies have to accommodate disabilities, but I don’t think they have to actively accommodate parenting.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                They certainly do have to treat male parents and female parents equally, however, or else they are engaging in gender-based discrimination. And people are often not insightful enough to realize they’re engaging in that sort of insidious discrimination.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      After years of hearing about women having “other distractions” just because they have kids, where the same comment would never be made about a man just because he has kids, this sets off red flags for me.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        And I do know and work with plenty of men who leave early to go and do ‘kid things’ with their families.

    4. RUKiddingMe*

      On the surface it doesn’t sound like anything, but as women we have lived with low level, just under the surface sexism all of our lives. We kind of “know it when we see it,” even if it’s not anything provable/reportable. Males are really good at plausible deniability, and TBF are often this way without really any’s just their default.

      FWIW…I would say trust your instincts, be aware, be on your guard (generally good ideas, not just with Boss), and remember that when “someday” comes you may or may not even still be in this particular job.

    5. k8isgreat*

      That sucks and your boss sucks and you should have a kid if you want one, but be prepared for him to think less of you. I have to admit, I often lie about having to take time off for my kid. I’ll say I’m sick and can’t come in when he is, or I’ll say I have an appointment on a day when his daycare is closed. It’s not ideal, but people really do look down on working parents. They think taking a sick day for a sick kid is akin to a vacation day (it is not!). Or that it’s some massive inconvenience to the company to take a vacation day because daycare is closed. It’s honestly very frustrating because while I like my job, I like my kid a lot more and I try not to feel guilty when I prioritize him over work.

      Comments like that aren’t harmless. They harm the reputation of that working mother. It’s really really hard. That’s all I can say. There was a letter a while back about a mom who wanted to take like half a day off during her probationary period to go to her kid’s performance and Alison advised her not to do it and it just broke my heart that she had to miss something important because of arbitrary rules our patriarchal society has created around work.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Aaannnddd if it was the dad asking for the time off, there’s a better than even chance that he’d be celebrated for being “such a good dad/involved/caring/helping out/babysitting/etc.”

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        That one I think was in the employee’s first week and this was a new manager. I can definitely see not doing that. And it was a recital, not an emergency. Thee will be many recitals i a child’s life.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          Now there’s the thing, my mother attended all our school concerts, parents days , sports carnivals etc, but the one I remember most was the one she didn’t attend because my brother was ill. Easy to say “there will be others ” but there is no guarantee and kids always remember the absences.

          1. Anononon*

            So are you saying parents have to go to every single event or else? I’m not sure what else this comment is leading to. Yes, it’s important to go to as many as possible, but some non-kid related things are more important.

            My dad was away at a work training/seminar my entire birthday month when I was eight I’m sure I was super upset at the time but, now, it’s just something we laugh about.

          2. Michio Pa*

            Dog forbid your mom miss a school concert to take care of your sick brother. Are you really saying that you think your mother loves you less because she missed ONE parent event, instead of attending every single one? That’s a pretty high standard for someone who doesn’t even remember all the ones she did attend :(

    6. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon*

      Honestly its kind of a red flag to me that your boss is discussing a coworker’s performance with you. Its a weird conversation to have with you, unless you manage her in some way. That coupled with the lack of flexibility for very normal work/life things like kids, makes me think he’s… not a great boss.

      1. sunshyne84*

        I agree, very odd convo to have with another employee. He was probably looking for another non-parent to agree, but I just think boss just needs a reality check about life. People are going to prioritize their families over work sometimes whether it’s kids or not. Life happens and it wouldn’t hurt to show some compassion once in awhile. You just have to learn when people are taking advantage of that.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          People are going to prioritize their families over work sometimes whether it’s kids or not.

          Yes, I’m actually kind of irked that people like this boss try to make it about kids vs. no kids. I have no kids, but my boss is great about allowing me flexibility in my work when necessary. He also does the same for our employees with kids.

    7. Rey*

      The other commenters are spot-on, and you should definitely go with your gut instincts on this. As a manager, he has a lot of options of how he can work with employees if there are problems with the work they are producing. Instead, he has written them off as a distracted employee, and is comfortable discussing another employee’s performance with you. He is choosing not to manage, and that means he is a bigger problem than someone who is 10 of 15 minutes late (which is not a big deal in a lot of jobs).

    8. Twin Cities*

      I’m not really sure how relevant gender is here. You seem to have placed an emphasis on it. I have been a nurse for a while with female supervisors and they can be the worst offenders regarding flexibility for kid-related things. I have seen it where someone calls in and tells management that their kid has strep throat or needs to go to the hospital and they are like “your still coming in right??” Um no.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        It’s not the gender of the employer but the gender of the employee. As you’ve noted, most studies about sexism show women are just as sexist against other women as men are against women.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        And even if the employer is punishing equally employees of all genders for any flexible time they need to take care of kids, we still live in a society in which that work, even for full-time employed parents, still falls unevenly on women (with some rare exceptions). So with two hetero full-time working parents, both of whom have kids (obviously), it’s more often that the woman in the pair will be the one taking care of the kids’ medical and dental appointments or sports practices, etc.

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          But that is the parents’ choice. Nothing stops Mom from insisting Dad take kid.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My husband has a flexible schedule and is salaried. works in in the town where we live, and takes her to “halfish” her scheduled appointments.
            I work 35 miles away and I punch a clock.
            And yet for 12 years drs, dentists, and schools have called MY work phone first despite being told to call him first. Despite it being a different area code. And they get huffy when asked to call him instead.
            (Side rant: a few years ago our kid spiked a fever in flu season and nurse wanted her go to the dr and the school wanted me to take all the details and coordinate the dr and… it took several interruptions before I got her to understand I COULD NOT be there for an hour, but my husband could be there in 10 minutes. And yes she needed to be the one to call because he always picks up for the school but my calls he let’s go to voicemail.)

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Sorry for the pre-caffeine rant. Better I let it out here than raise my voice with the callers I suppose. :)

    9. matcha123*

      I think that there are people with kids who would express the same sentiment as your boss. There are people who have a lot of family that live close by who can also drop in when some emergency happens, they are comfortable financially, life has been relatively kind to them, and they are not going to get why a single parent who relies on public transportation always seems distracted.
      How is the boss on people when non-kid issues happen? If the coworker with kids is late because of kid stuff, is that an issue? But when the same coworker is late because they overslept, is that not an issue?

      I think if you expect that “because kids” is a line that should make people more flexible, you might be feeling that the boss’ reactions are harsh.

    10. The Ginger Ginger*

      So, everyone else has said some good things here, a couple of the questions below are reiterating points from other people, but it might help to see it all together.

      Why is your boss talking with you about a coworker’s performance? That’s a little alarming. Even if he was asking if you also felt like the role was more than 1 full time job, he did NOT need to share all that other performance commentary with you.

      How often is he coming down on parents about “kid” things (or things he perceives to be kid-related)? Is it occasionally, or actually frequently/every time?

      Is there supposed to be flexibility in the schedule or a culture of flexibility in the company and your manager seems to be behaving counter to that?

      And most importantly, how often is he coming down on FATHERS about child-related tardiness and the like? Because if this is exclusively something he does with female reports, that is a Problem.

      And I’d also advise all the mothers on your team to NOT say why they’re late or leaving early or taking unexpected PTO, especially if it relates to needing to take care of a family issue, because I do NOT trust this manager. Tell everybody to vague it up.

    11. Ann O'Nemity*

      Your boss has revealed several things in this conversation:

      (1) He is willing to discuss your coworkers with you, so he’s probably willing to discuss you with coworkers. This could include your workload, performance, and personal life.
      (2) He considers life outside of work, and especially kids, to be a distraction. Probably doesn’t value work-life balance.
      (3) He resents employees who need flexibility and has a strong preference for butts in the seat.

      Based on the above, he probably would downgrade your value as an employee if you had kids.

    12. Former Retail Manager*

      I think I’d think long and hard about whether you want to stay in your current position under your current boss if and when you should ever have children. Boss doesn’t sound like he really understands the demands of being a working parent and it doesn’t sound like he’s ever going to change his mind regarding his thoughts on the matter or his expectations of his employees.

      As for his comments about your co-worker, I don’t really understand why he’s making the comments to you. That seems inappropriate to me unless her request somehow impacts you. And might he be correct that she isn’t overworked. Yes, and in fact, he probably is right. But a good manager recognizes when people who are good employees need some flexibility in their schedule and need time to adapt to major life changes. Your boss doesn’t sound like he gets that. So again….if you decided to start a family, I don’t think I’d want to do it working for this guy. He’s shown you his true colors and presumably his views aren’t going to change.

  4. Seifer*

    I’m going to be taking on a lot more responsibility since my boss will be MIA come January (long, possibly identifying store) and I think I’m going to ask for a raise today. No work issues, just hoping for some luck!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Good choice! If they don’t give you something, that’s a sign they suck. That’s a long time to be without a boss. If they trust you that much, they should pay you more.

  5. Karnitha*

    Hey all, any tips on how best to use LinkedIn connections to find out about work-life balance in a particular company? I have several connections on LinkedIn who work for company X. I would like to get an idea of how the company approaches work-life balance for its employees (flex hours, standard work hours, requirements on overtime and working on evenings and weekends, etc.).

    Common job-hunting convention discourages these types of questions until you have an offer. Previous posts in this blog say a common way to get around that is to ask your networks. However, I actually have never met my LinkedIn contacts in this company face to face. I just know them in a very superficial way online and we managed to connect in LinkedIn. I was wondering what would be a good approach to ask work-life balance questions where they work to someone who doesn’t really know you all that well.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think the best thing to do would be to build up a rapport with your connections, so when you ask the question, it isn’t completely out of the blue. If you were a connection I’d never met in person, and you’d never messaged me about anything, and we’d never had a conversation about anything, and then you suddenly said “Hey, Anonymous Educator, what’s the work-life balance like at your company?” I don’t know that I’d feel super comfortable being candid with you. Who are you?

    2. Liz*

      Are you comfortable asking for a face-to-face meeting? People do this with me a lot on LinkedIn, and I don’t mind it at all. Not everyone is open to it (there was a recent AAM post about this, in fact), but in my mind, LinkedIn is a networking platform; if you don’t want to actually network with people, why have a profile there?

      Anyway, I usually have coffee with someone outside the company a couple of times per month. I hate it when people send me InMail and ask to “pick my brain” (gross), but when someone genuinely expresses interest in the company where I work and says they’d like to learn more about the culture, leaders, etc., I’m more than happy to help. I wish I would have had a safe place to ask those questions before I joined the company. Plus, I get to learn about other companies in my area in return (and why people are interested in leaving those companies), which helps me as I consider other options in my career path.

    3. spock*

      I do interviews fairly frequently and I don’t think it’s strange at all when candidates ask a few questions about work/life balance, core hours, etc. In fact it’s a great way to sell them on our company because we have a very god work/life balance and are proud of it. Caveat that hiring in my industry or at least my company seems to be more casual than other places going by a lot of things I read on this blog so maybe we’re outliers in that regard.

    4. CAA*

      I disagree that you have to wait until you have an offer to ask about things like “flex hours, standard work hours, requirements on overtime and working on evenings and weekends”. I’ve asked, and been asked, these questions many times during ordinary interviews. You can ask your prospective manager or prospective peers or both. You don’t want to harp on it in a way that makes the interviewer think that you’re trying to figure out how to work the least possible amount of time, but it’s certainly reasonable to ask one or two questions about the typical working hours and how much overtime most people in the department work.

      And it’s also fine to reach out to your LinkedIn contacts (as long as they’re not part of the interview process you’re in) and ask if they’d do an informational interview. Again, working hours shouldn’t be your primary topic of conversation, but it’s fine to ask about it.

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I also think you can ask some general work-life balance questions during the interview process. What should wait until after an offer is something like a standing appointment that means you need to leave every other Thursday at 4, no exceptions.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Common job-hunting convention discourages these types of questions until you have an offer.

      Sorry—I missed this part of your question. Uh, where did you read that? I doubt Alison would have said that on this site. You can absolutely ask about it before the offer stage. I don’t know if I would ask about it in an initial phone screen, but it’s 100% appropriate for even the first in-person interview.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, but that’s about negotiating a flexible work schedule. That’s different than just asking about typical hours and work-life balance generally!

          1. Karnitha*

            Hi Alison, the gist of the OP’s question in the 2013 post I cited was about asking about work hours and related issues such as flex time and whether it was appropriate to ask about these things early in the interview process (1st or 2nd interview) or wait until and offer has been made.

              1. Karnitha*

                So you would advise, as the others who chimed in, that conventions aren’t as strict to ask about work-life balance questions (standard core work hours, flex time, working beyond the traditional core hours and how much typically) early in the interview process? I understand that some employers might be uptight about this info (as they could be about salary). As a working parent of a young child this is crucial info for me whether it is worth continuing in an interview process.

                1. Anonymous Educator*

                  I think the thing about waiting until the offer stage is really about “You have standard policies in place, but I’d like to ask for an exception to your policy.”

                  If you’re just asking about company culture and general approaches to work-life balance, that isn’t asking for an exception, so it’s perfectly fine to ask about during the regular interview process.

                2. Karnitha*

                  Ah! Thank you both! I knew there was a piece of the puzzle I wasn’t quite seeing. You just put it together for me

    7. DouDouPaille*

      “Common job-hunting convention discourages these types of questions until you have an offer” – I would disagree with this. I have always asked about this during the interview process, as part of my fact-finding around the company’s culture. Questions such as “how many hours per week on average are expected for this position,” or “does the company offer flex-time or work at home arrangements for any employees (and can you give examples),” or “what sorts of celebratory/social activities do you offer for employees” can give you an idea of what to expect.

  6. merp*

    I’m just going to say that the last 2 days have been really rough for some reason, everything I’m working on has been so frustrating, and if anyone needs to commiserate/vent about otherwise-usually-fine jobs, feel free to join me. Can’t wait to get home today and let all of this go.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      It’s rough, yes. Doesn’t help that I slept weird last night, and my neck is stiff and sore and is apparently deciding that muscle spasms are called for. At work.

    2. Amber Rose*

      One of my coworkers was away for a day, and that was the day my boss discovered that coworkers had been massively screwing up since like, October and it’s going to take days to fix, and then we had a quick impromptu meeting to talk about it and how horrible it all is.

      Then the next day when the coworker was back, my boss said to me that things felt kind of tense. Like. Gee, I wonder why? You only spent an hour or so ranting about her.

    3. anna green*

      SAME. This week, man. I am ready for the weekend. Actually I am ready for NEXT weekend because I have a lot of days off around the holidays.

    4. WomanOfMystery*

      I’m blaming the EXTREME darkness—I’ve been irritable and sleepy. But still, I can’t figure out how to run this report and it’s just sooooo frustrating.

    5. Kes*

      Haha same for me, I totally burnt out on my current project this week and had to take the afternoon off. Luckily everyone was very understanding and they shifted the task that was causing the problems to someone else.
      I can’t wait to be done this project, although unfortunately I’m not sure my next project will be much better. Hopefully the one after that will be good. It is a good company in general though, this project has just had a lot of changes due to things beyond our control.

    6. Ama*

      It has taken me a full month to recover from the big meeting that ended my busiest most-high stakes annual project at my work — I felt like I had to do a lot more managing of attendees’ egos and anxieties this year and I’m trying to figure out why.

      Yesterday I had an epiphany that my continued dread over our spring meeting season is entirely because of one extra meeting that was supposed to be a fairly simple, low-key meeting and which has been an ongoing battle to keep it that way because of the unrealistic expectations of the committee helping us plan the meeting. That partially comes back to managing egos again and partially just their refusal to commit to details — we’re four months out and haven’t invited any speakers (which is really behind schedule in our field — you want to be 6-8 months out for initial speaker invites).

      I’m going to spend at least part of my holiday break trying to figure out how I can handle all this ego management without getting emotionally exhausted myself.

    7. KR*

      I’m with you, combined with the fact that I feel like I am starving for sunlight (I live in the desert but this time change is killing me) and I can’t focus at all this week and I have A TON to do.

      1. Snow Drift*

        Same. It has been raining or overcast here since the springtime. I can count the truly sunny days in 2018 on two hands. We’ve had flooding and mudslides in an area never before known for either. Everyone is tense, brittle, and ready to snap. I cannot handle this weather anymore.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I choose to live in Seattle for many reasons including the weather (yeah, I’m weird like that). We had a nice mild summer here but as usual I was ready for fall as it’s my favorite season. The time change, dark at 4:00 PM, and then however many days of rain it’s been so far is starting to wear on me. I have a whole taxes/accounting thing I should be paying attention to but I’m procrastinating and this weather isn’t helping me feel more like doing it.

    8. Adlib*

      I already have holiday-brain even though my vacation doesn’t start until the end of next week. Next week will be killer with the anticipation, AND my performance review is also scheduled.

      I’m also irritated because I picked a so-so gift in the gift exchange/swap this morning, and I have no idea why. (I could have stolen homemade moonshine – WTH, me?)

    9. Alice Ulf*

      My coworkers keep chatting in obnoxious, cutesy baby-talk and just. It has been such a long, demoralizing week and I just. I just CAN’T today. *silent scream*

      1. Minocho*

        My mom and I do this sometimes. I don’t even realize when it’s happening – and it’s embarassing when I realize I”m doing it.

        Oh, and I do that with my cats sometimes, when the cuteness is overwhelming…

        But! I would never do it at work!

    10. Ealasaid*

      Hard same! Dunno what is up this week, but it’s been full of massive aggro on almost all fronts (dayjob crap, side-hustle crap, volunteer-org crap, etc.). Definitely looking forward to it being over. I am tired of that stabbity “oh shit, something is wrong” feeling. Here’s hoping this weekend is enough to reset and next week will suck less.

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oh yeah. It’s been a rough 10-ish days for me. I’m uncovering favoritism– gender-based– and a lot of weird hostility and resistance to change, and it just suuuuucks. The good thing for me is that I spent some time trying to figure out what niche I want to carve out for myself here, and I think I’ve landed on something great, but I need buy-in. Because of the favoritism/sexism issues, buy-in will be tough. And I can’t just throw in the towel for a variety of reasons.

      I am basically plodding along until next Friday, after which I’m out for something like 10 days.

    12. a*

      We just got a new tracking and reporting system, and nothing works and nothing is the same as we’ve been doing things for 20+ years (except for the things we hated and thought were useless – those things remain). We’re totally uncomfortable with the new normal and it’s going to take a while to get used to things.

      What’s most irritating is that instead of having some people who can answer questions when you ask them, we’re all just supposed to randomly hack away at the system and see what happens. That is not a very scientific way of operating, considering we’re a laboratory.

      Fortunately, after today, I will be working 2 more days this year!

    13. Tris Prior*

      OMG, yes. My company is usually fairly sane, but I’ve been put onto a project that…. I guess all the decision-makers forgot about until now? And now everyone is panicking because AAAAAAAA, no one’s given this any thought and the teapots are due in a month. And our turnaround times require a TARDIS.

      And I keep finding myself in this loop of “Tris, when can you have these teapots done?” / “That depends on when I receive them to work on, how many teapots there are, and whether the teapots are clean or need cleanup – can you tell me any of that?” / “oh, we have no idea when we can turn them over or what they’ll need or how many there are …. but Tris, when can you have them done?” Why is this concept hard?

      As an added bonus, pretty much everyone at our company takes large amounts of vacation around the holidays. I don’t, Christmas isn’t that important to me, I don’t travel, I don’t have kids so no school breaks to work around. I like the quiet, actually. But now I’m being pressured to turn stuff around super quickly because we need approvals from the people who are going on vacation. I fail to see how accommodating what feels like the entire company’s vacation schedules is my problem, but here we are.

    14. Funny Cide*

      “Hey I know I’ve made us fall months behind on our goal for this project but I can’t figure out how to make this work so here are approximately 400 individual PDFs sorry I don’t know how many copies of each we need but good luck getting them mailed to all the right people!”

      At least it’s a new project and doesn’t truly have a concrete deadline, so nobody is blaming me, but I have never sighed so hard.

    15. BeanCat*

      Just wanted to shout out my company for being awesome this week. I got assaulted on my way to work one day this week and ended up not going in (I’m okay, was minor in the grand scheme of things and I’m very lucky). They were amazing about finding me coverage and making sure I was okay more than anything, and people have been super understanding that I’m a bit out of sorts and foggy this week (I proactively told people I work closely with in case I seemed off). Maybe my bar of happiness is set too low but I appreciated them making it so much easier for me to come back and be normal but also be understanding that I’m not 100 percent yet.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yikes that puts so much different perspective on my week, now I’m sheepish for whining about the re-work. I’m glad your office responded so well. Feel better!

    16. Maggie May*

      here’s my life, just to vent:
      1) not done christmas shopping. mostly planned, though.
      2) meeting with husband’s sister today, who left her husband for a woman and has been a real b about it
      3) meeting her ex husband next friday for solidarity, she done him wrong
      4a) manager scheduled a “1:1” to touch base on monday, you now know what I know
      4b) told program manager drunkenly at a holiday party I was planning on moving on, is that what the 1:1 is about?
      5) was working on a new job with an old boss, but they came at me with a salary that is 1.5k over what I make now. their insurance has a 2k higher deductible, it’s 20 more minutes driving, and no open time off.
      6) I’m driving to my mom’s for christmas, but I have to pick up my brother at my ex-step-dad’s house (his dad) and he has caused me nothing but drama.
      7) oh hey I’m in constant pain from a torn shoulder labrum and endometriosis
      8) I’m having surgery for the endo on Dec 28. Asked for three more days off to cover recovery, is this the 1:1 meeting? I do not know. I qualify for fmla, so it shouldn’t be a thing either way.
      9) from the surgery I can’t drink on christmas :( my family is A LOT
      10) it’s end of year and I work in a sales-adjacent department, and we have to get revenue up. we switched the company to our custom solution (what my team does) and it’s not going smoothly. Everyone waits til last minute to get revenue/time in.

      anyway I’m a ball of stress.

      1. BeanCat*

        Maggie May, as a fellow endo sufferer I am sending you all the good vibes – please take care of yourself as best as you can!

        1. Maggie May*

          thanks! I got a prescription for mefenamic acid which has helped, but in the us it was almost $400 for 30 pills! In europe it’s like $3 for that much. insane. luckily I met my deductible (hence the december 28 surgery)

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My Friday was spent on re-work for 3 different projects because the warranty return address for a region has been changed and no one mentioned it to me to include in my deliverable. This was on the schedule for March, but the new address was set up in November, and “everyone knew”… because of meetings no one thought to Skype me in on.
      It was a totally avoidable day’s delay on project 4.

  7. Revoked work from home*

    It was just announced that my office is longer supporting work from home. I’m feeling pretty betrayed because the chance to have that perk was one of the reasons I made what is a pretty lateral transfer in taking this job. I’ve only been in the role for five months but this will definitely be a factor in my deciding not to stay long term – however, I would feel weird quitting this fast.

    Is it even worth saying anything to my boss about this? Or should I just grit my teeth and get through a year, then start looking. If I told her I would leave over this, I’m sure she’d think it was odd that I wasn’t more dedicated or that a perk like this was such a big factor (also, I’m guessing she’ll say it was never explicitly promised to me in our interview/offer conversations).

    1. Kes*

      That sucks. I would probably consider leaving over that. Did they give any reason for the change (that you might be able to counter)?
      I would at least mention it in your exit interview if you do leave. They may not be willing to change the policy for one person, but they should know they are losing people over it.

    2. Catleesi*

      Is there a reason you need to wait a year? If you’ve had longer tenures in past positions I think this would be seen as a reasonable excuse for job searching so early.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes, that’s something Alison has said–if you took the job on condition A and they take away condition A, prospective new employers shouldn’t consider that a red flag if it’s an isolated incident. (If you are always discovering that your theory of the job and the actual job are wildly divergent, that’s a pattern and one they might rightly be concerned about.)

        1. Revoked work from home*

          Yeah, last time I was searching for a lot longer than I thought, so I assume even if I started looking now I’d probably end up staying in place for at least a year, maybe a year and change.

      2. Revoked work from home*

        It just doesn’t sit right with me to be leaving so quickly, when I just got through training and I’m finally up to speed and contributing at last. I realize that this is their mess, but I wouldn’t feel right. And it’s a non profit so our clients would be the ones who suffered in the end. It’s not a perk I *need,* it’s just one I really wanted and valued.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I do think you should be able to explain to your boss that you are really disappointed and the work from home was a major reason you took the job. Best case, that’s an “Oh, people do care about this” that adjusts management’s thinking. And three months from now you don’t quit and explain why, only to hear “But… that was totally flexible!”

          You want to avoid phrasing it as “If I can’t work from home I’m GONE” unless that’s what you really mean, but there should be ways to indicate that a job perk is welcome and important (or not something you ever use) that’s just useful feedback to management about what sort of things employees value.

          1. Revoked work from home*

            Yeah, this feels like the right balance. I acknowledge it was kind of my fault for not nailing down a more solid commitment on the issue at the offer stage. If it had been clarified I would have more to stand on now, but it was always a little vague exactly what the boundaries were.

            1. SUCH a rejection letter!*

              You might have gotten a solid reassurance and then *still* lost the perk due to business decisions.

              If it helps, there is a solid financial issue here. How much does your commute cost? If your commute expenses go up because of this change, that’s the same as them deciding to pay you less. (This is one of those areas where “total compensation” matters, not just actual paycheck. Like, if I get a job that pays my medical insurance 100%, that will be equivalent to about $10,000 a year.) So, you’re not being petty, you’re protecting your total income.

    3. Dasein9*

      That truly sucks. If it were me, I’d mention to my supervisor that this perk was a factor in my accepting their offer and ask if there was room for negotiation.

      1. Revoked work from home*

        Would you do this in an employee review, maybe? I feel like my boss might be surprised to hear how big a deal this is to me, and I also worry it looks kind of bad, like I’m not dedicated to the mission.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          I feel that BECAUSE your boss might be surprised, it’s more important to mention it (respectfully, of course). I don’t think it would look bad, especially if you took the offer in part because of it. If it’s big enough to you to be worth leaving over and you otherwise like your job and trust your boss, you should mention it.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yeah I agree. If you think your boss would be surprised at how big a deal it is, it’s really important to say, “Hey, I’d really love some insight into the process behind revoking WFH for our employees. WFH was a really key benefit for me moving into this position.” Then wait for his response.

        2. Parenthetically*

          Anyone who takes your frustration at having a benefit taken away as some kind of lack of dedication is a toolbag. It’s absolutely natural to be annoyed when a part of the job you valued and appreciated is taken away and it says nothing about how serious an employee you are.

        3. Dasein9*

          I think you can frame it in such a way as to highlight just why the WFH is good for your work, and thus the mission, as well as for you. Concentration is easier, less fatigue from the commute, etc.

    4. Knitty Gritty*

      I’m in exactly the same boat. I interviewed for a position and started early this year. During the interviews, I explicitly asked about the work from home policy and was told that working from home allowed. As a software developer, working from home is extremely common but I like to check during interviews. Imagine my surprise on my first day of work when an email was sent to the entire company that the work from home policy had changed and working from home was no longer allowed. I may stick it out a few more months to get to a year, but I’ve already started looking for new job.

      1. Revoked work from home*

        But are you going to bring it up? Or just leave and mention it in your exit interview? As others have said, I think it might be valuable to at least register my disappointment with this decision, respectfully, and only once. There’s a (slim) chance they’d actually change their mind if they realized they were going to lose a staffperson over this. I’m trying to weigh this against the risk of seeming trivial. I know Alison has said that perks like bringing your dog in, or flex hours, can change, and it’s just one of those things.

        1. So long and thanks for all the fish*

          Just because something can change doesn’t mean an employer wouldn’t make a different decision with more information, like that someone took the job specifically because they offered the perk. Particularly since it seems more related to preference than any specific business need, as you say below- they might make the decision it’s better to keep you from job searching than be able to pester people whenever they need. And maybe you can make the case that you’re more productive when you work from home specifically because you get pestered so often in the office! I’m rooting for you.

        2. Knitty Gritty*

          I already have brought it up to my boss – who is awesome and also new. The new policy took him by surprise. He’s trying to work something out to get the policy modified, but is getting some push-back. We talk and check-in frequently, so I definitely am not looking to leave immediately but am still keeping an eye out if that makes sense…

          1. Revoked work from home*

            Ooh, do you remember exactly how you phrased it? I’m trying to picture a script that doesn’t make me sound whiny or like I’m threatening to quit. “Can I just say I was quite disappointed by the work from home announcement, as that was a factor for me in my decision to join the team” …?

            1. Knitty Gritty*

              It went much like that, but I like your wording better than what I said! I said “Being able to work from home is an important perk I’ve had for well over 10 years and I’m disappointed that the new policy preventing that went into effect the day I started here.” I do have a good relationship with my boss, so I’ve been pretty honest about how I feel.

    5. Coffee with my Creamer*

      Do you know the reason they stopped allowing working from home? I am guessing it is either performance, or a security/privacy violation that your work was not prepared for and if it is that will be out of your managers control. If someone just doesn’t like having employees at home it will be easier assuming you are a top performer or have a skill set that would be hard to replace. If its the latter then I would request a meeting with my supervisor and explain that this a huge benefit that you were getting out of this job and taking it away puts you at a disadvantage and ask if there is room for a compromise of maybe 3 days at home either now or in the future.

      1. Revoked work from home*

        From what I can tell, our leadership just likes to be able to pester people in person. If they want a file or have a question, they want to be able to tap you on the shoulder and stop what you’re doing and answer their question. That’s actually one reason I loved my from-home days, because I could concentrate on complex tasks without being interrupted so often with minutiae like, “I can’t get the printer to work,” or “I can’t find the paperclips.” (that’s my grandboss talking).

        1. hello hi hello*

          That’s a good question bc with a nonprofit, they might site client data being on different severs or wifis or whatever being an issue. But from what you are saying, that isn’t the case

        2. Marthooh*

          I could concentrate on complex tasks without being interrupted so often with minutiae like, “I can’t get the printer to work,” or “I can’t find the paperclips.”

          This is something you should mention when you bring it up with your boss — WFH actually makes you more productive. That’s a good reason to rethink the policy, or make an exception for you.

    6. BRR*

      I’d most likely say something unless I was only working from home like once or twice a year or if my performance was poor. Something about how this was a big selling point of the job and ask if they might allow it for your position.

    7. A tester, not a developer*

      My company has done something similiar; you can have WFH days ‘as needed’, but nothing scheduled.
      I work from home one day a week in part, mostly to help manage symptoms of a chronic illness. I ended going through the disability accommodation process (which was a freakin’ nightmare), but got to keep my WFH day.

      Is there any way you could get them to agree to a partly WFH arrangement?

      1. Revoked work from home*

        Yeah in the past it’s been ad-hoc, and I’ve been doing one day every two weeks or so, whenever I had a slow day and the right kind of tasks to do. I usually phrased it as needing to concentrate on a certain task so I was going to work from home on X day.

        But I was hoping to get a formal one-day-a-week schedule, and was planning on discussing this with my boss. So clearly that’s not going to happen – now I’ve lost even the opportunity to do the infrequent days I was already doing. Part of me is wondering if my boss has been dissatisfied with system and just didn’t mention it. But I think it’s coming from my grandboss who doesn’t like to see people gone from the office.

        1. Lexi Kate*

          Is your regular job able to be work at home or do they need your position to be in the office to fulfill the duties?

          1. Revoked work from home*

            It certainly couldn’t be 100% work from home, given the team collaboration my boss envisions, but there’s a good segment of it that involves managing an online database that could be done from home if they chose. I was hoping to get one day a week.

    8. Public Sector Manager*

      I think you should absolutely tell your boss!

      We have these issues at my work all the time. Our executive team makes an unpopular decision, the vast majority of coworkers get upset yet say nothing, and then when I advocate for my team about how bad the decision is and how it is hurting morale, the executives cite the lack of replies as evidence that I’m just stirring the pot and that no one is upset at the decision.

      Since the lack of work from home is a deal breaker for you, and if your manager is a good manager, they need to know. There are no guarantees that your company will change its approach, but as least they will know that there decision will cost them good employees.

      Best of luck to you!

    9. The New Wanderer*

      I’d say it makes sense to bring it up to your boss, since it is kind of a deal-breaker to you. Personally, I think you should look around now if you think it will take more than a few months to line up another opportunity. As mentioned, it doesn’t commit you to taking something else ‘early’ but if you find the right fit, you’d have that option.

      Personally, I turned down further interviews with a company after determining that they would only allow WFH rarely, rather than a regularly scheduled thing. If they had said regular WFH was available and then revoked it after I started working there, I’d leave over it too. For that particular case, I’d probably leave even before lining something up because there’s no way I could hack the daily commute and fixed hours to that location – WFH was the only thing making it worth considering the position.

      1. Revoked work from home*

        Yeah, my attachment to WFH is not as strong as yours, it’s just something I’d value and enjoy. None of my other jobs have ever allowed it so it’s not as if I’m unfamiliar with only in-office jobs. If I felt even more strongly, as you say, I would have made it a fundamental criteria in my job search and made it explicit in the offer, and then yes I’d have less qualms about quitting immediately. There’s no reason I can’t come in every day, I just … don’t want to.

        1. valentine*

          You’ve made a lot of assumptions about how the talk will go and are prioritizing how you assume people will see you, but you can certainly center yourself and not set yourself on fire to keep the clients warm, as it were. Tell your supervisor you were going to ask to WFH on a formal schedule and see what she says. Your grandboss wants you there for stupid reasons (I can only hope the tapping is figurative and, if you’re not an admin, redirect them to someone who fixes printers and sources paper clips) and you’re losing here, not just a perk but money, at least in commuting and possibly meals. They’re not giving you anything as a salve; they just expect you to pay more to work now and, if you resist, you think they’ll shame you because “mission.” That’s gross. Do what serves you, including looking now, because if you find somewhere with WFH and more reasonable people, you can go, even if the only mission you fulfill is your own.

  8. Armchair Analyst*

    I just realized that this is the kind of workplace where if someone doesn’t show up for a day, I wonder if they’ve been fired, or possibly quit, and I’m not sure who to ask or if I’d ever find out.

    Today on “This Workplace Might Be Toxic….,” I am looking for a new job!

  9. Toxic waste*

    I work in a place where if you make an error, you can’t just fix it and move on. You have to go through the entire process of what happened, why, what, where, when, etc.
    Someone came in and questioned an entry that was simply switched. Emotions got the best of me and I explained that “coworker started the process, then I finalized the report. At the time it was my first week at the company.”

    I wasn’t sure what to say, but I’m worried that I threw coworker under the bus or something. Did I say something wrong? Looking back on it, I should have just said that I would look into it or something, but I panicked. Was what I said bad?

    1. Tara S.*

      No, you’re fine. You explained the facts, didn’t really try to blame the coworker. They made a mistake and you pointed that out, yes, but you also made a mistake in that you didn’t catch the error, understandable since you were new. This seems like a very minor issue. Even though you had to go through that analysis process, it was just standard. I wouldn’t think about it anymore and just move on.

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

      I think you’re fine. That sounds like a legitimate process error — if it were a pattern, maybe the management would take it as a sign that one person should do a task from start to finish rather than hand off. I understand the desire to just move on, but taking a moment to find out why errors occurred and how to prevent them in the future — as long as it’s not just unhelpful finger pointing — is a sign of good management in my opinion.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This sounds like it could be root cause analysis, which in some jobs might be sensible and de rigeur? Wanting an answer to a mix-up that is more precise than “mix-ups happen” doesn’t necessarily mean they want to rake people over the coals and engage in public shaming.

      1. Susan*

        Yup. I think it’s done well where i work, but that’s because a central tenant is that the goal is not to place blame but it is to figure out what happened and how to make changes to try to avoid similar problems in the future. The post-mortem is written in such a way that most of the time no one knows specifically who made mistakes (if indeed there were mistakes made, vs. process holes discovered).

    4. KR*

      I think you’re fine! I have explained errors and decisions I’ve made by saying that too, pretty much “I did this when I first started and didn’t have the know-how to deal with it correctly and experience to understand why it needed to be done a certain way.”

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      You did fine. Your explanation actually puts more of the responsibility on you, since you finalized it, but gives a clear reason: you were new. Reasonable bosses will just move on.

      Root cause analysis can be really valuable. The thing bosses are looking for is: “I understand what happened, and have done stuff or have a plan to prevent it from happening again”. So you could have added, ‘I would recognize that entry needed fixing now.’

    6. Workerbee*

      Totally fine, especially with such a rigid process looming no matter what the error was.

      (And I still remember being blamed for doing what someone had trained me to do during my first week(s) on a job, including my boss’s incredulous, “But she trained you on X? She doesn’t even do X!” that still managed to blame me. Had I been more savvy, I’d have spoken up instead of subsiding into confused resentment.)

  10. Amber Rose*

    We raised a ton of money yesterday for charity. And the best part is I was doing food prep and then running games, so I did not have to do basically any actual work all day. I just had some fun.

    Today is the day though. Or rather, tonight, which is when we’re having our Christmas party. And I think I heard something about karaoke. Wish me luck! -_-

    1. Dasein9*


      Please choose the appropriate well-wishes for your situation:
      ______ Oh, I am so sorry. ______ Break a leg!

    2. Mimi Me*

      Oooohhh..karaoke at a Christmas party? I love Karaoke but only if I don’t know the people singing. Back in the day my senior prom decided to do karaoke and I could never look at some of my classmates the same way again. Good Luck there!

      1. Amber Rose*

        I won’t sing among coworkers, but I’m more worried about song choices, given that previous years have seen some pretty explicit music pop up once requests were open.

        I don’t wanna hear sexual songs from my boss. D:

  11. Help*

    Word has it that either my coworker or myself might be let go once the new software program is up and running. (There is no need for two people.) Coworker has been with the company for 15 years, I’ve only been there for a year. Coworker is well-known and very liked, I’m quiet and I don’t think they like me much. I have more degrees and technical experience, coworker doesn’t.

    It feels stressful to be on the chopping block. Besides applying to other jobs, is there anything that I should be doing? In interviews, should I say that is why I’m leaving?

    1. learnedthehardway*

      I would say that you understand that once the new technology is implemented, it is likely that your role will be eliminated. You’ve been there for a year, and while you’re getting good performance reviews, you’re being realistic that your colleague has been with the company for 15 years and is also a great performer. You’re looking for internal opportunities with the company, as you really like the culture (if that’s at all true), but you have to be realistic that your role is specialized / there may not be opportunities / whatever, so you are being proactive.

      You could then talk about what you want to find – just phrase it in a way that the interviewer sees the value you’d bring in their organization. Eg. “I’m looking for a company that can use my extensive basketweaving 2.0 experience, and where I can work on collaborative teams.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      In interviews, should I say that is why I’m leaving?

      I don’t think you should lead with that as the primary reason you’re leaving, but you shouldn’t hide it either.

    3. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Just preparing yourself to be ready in case you do end up on the chopping block is the best you can do. Perhaps you can talk to your boss about it, I don’t know your rapport with them but I feel like it wouldn’t be a big deal to flat out ask what the future of the department/your job looks like.

      In interviews I think you can tell the truth – you’ve heard your position may be eliminated in the near future and you’re acting accordingly.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Just keep yesterday’s update and its original letter in mind; don’t accept an offer just because you think you’re on the chopping block. If it’s a good one, yes, but unless you absolutely know for certain that you will be laid off, weigh things very carefully.

    5. ChachkisGalore*

      Sometimes when layoffs come around the person making the higher salary (I’m assuming the coworker who’s been with the company for 15yrs would have a higher salary – though that could be totally wrong) is the one on the chopping block because it provides more savings. I don’t mean to get your hopes up or indicate that you shouldn’t be looking. Last in, first out is obviously a well know thing, but just don’t assume it will 100%, definitely be you to go.

    6. Workerbee*

      I hope that word is wrong! And that regardless, your job searches land you in a place where you don’t have to have this kind of stress or worry.

    7. SUCH a rejection letter!*

      Don’t tell them you’re job-hunting because you heard a rumor — it won’t reflect well on you. *Do* say what learnedthehardway suggests: You suspect that only 1 role will be needed once the software is fully implemented, and you’re interested in this position because (good reason here). You don’t need to say that you figure you’ll be the one getting the chop, even though that’s true. It’s negative and they can fill in that blank themselves.

      But also, “Word has it”? I’d be talking to your boss about this before you do anything else. Remember that firing people is expensive, hiring and training people is expensive, and if you’ve been there a year you know the company well-enough that they may have something else in mind.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Normal advice is to not discuss leaving a company with your manager–but it’s different to confirm rumors. “People are saying the Teapot 3.0 software rollout will not require two people to support. This worries me. What can you tell me about the company’s plans for my position? ”

      Sure layoffs are always possible –but so is promoting your long-time co-worker out of the department. So is expanding your role develop Cups&Saucers 1.0.
      So ask!

  12. Skuffende*

    How does your company handle employee absences due to natural disasters? In the past year, people at mine have been affected by fires, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. One displaced employee was harassed nonstop for not being as responsive to email as their supervisor wanted. Another was completely unable to work after losing their house and are being made to use vacation time to cover the “time off”.

    Is my company especially heartless or is this fairly typical? Not good either way, but it would be useful to know.

    1. CatCat*

      I work for government in my state. The agency can grant administrative time off for employees impacted by natural disasters. It can be paid or unpaid. I’m not sure what usually occurs though.

    2. Hurricane working*

      We had time off for Hurricane Michael. We had to work every day up until it hit, and then allowed to work from home the day it was gonna hit. We were told to log in as much as possible (which was not possible after our power went out…so not much) and then we had a code we used for our timesheets that was specifically for natural disasters that we logged the rest of the time we WOULD have worked. So—expected to work as much as possible from home,

    3. LKW*

      This feels especially heartless. During one massive hurricane on the east coast, my company rented a hotel room next to the office so that people without services could come to the office, bring their family to the hotel where they could get power, shower, do laundry, whatever. You just had to work with the other families. They bought pizza for the office because a lot of people were without power at home, but the office had power so you could charge up all of your phones and whatevers.

      Replacing your house should be considered akin to bereavement, not vacation.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      My workplace had to close for Hurricanes Ike and Harvey, so we weren’t asked to use PTO for that time. However, if the building is accessible and functioning (and it’s in an area where it’s especially likely to be out of commission during a hurricane, so most employees’ homes will be safe before the workplace will be), we’re open and employees are expected to be there as usual.

      I’m not sure how they handled any extra time off some of our employees needed whose homes were lost/badly damaged (but I’m also not sure how much extra time off they needed. I know that they were not absent much more than the rest of us.)

    5. Shark Whisperer*

      It seems heartless to me, but I also work for an organization that does some emergency response work, so they take natural disasters very seriously. You get paid time off and they pay to evacuate you and your dependents if you are in a mandatory evacuation zone.

    6. Turtlewings*

      I’m still holding a grudge against a fairly dysfunctional ex-job that docked me vacation pay for calling out during an ice storm (in the South, where no one has infrastructure or experience to deal with frozen roads). Those of my coworkers who did come into work that day experienced scary sliding on the roads, and then were stranded in town when the roads closed (including a diabetic coworker who luckily had some insulin with her). The news was full of fatal accidents and people camping inside gas stations; our whole half of the state was shut down for three days. My workplace closed 45 minutes after my shift would have started. But my coworkers all got bad-weather pay, whereas I had to use vacation time because I (politely) refused to take my life in my hands and drive 60 miles in conditions that had the governor begging people to stay home.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      holeeee – totally heartless.

      I work for a fortune 500 tech co, with offices in FL, NC & CA, so we got everything but the earthquakes. The company put some employees in short-term corp housing, facilitated donations, let people wfh if they needed to meet contractors, and pushes managers to support their employees who are caught in disasters. My co’s not perfect, but they provide effective support to employees caught up in large-scale disasters.

      Honestly, the more I hear about other companies, the more I’m willing to put up with from mine.

    8. Coffee with my Creamer*

      My company people have to use all but 1 week of their PTO before the disaster relief will kick in. Depending on their level at the company responding to emails varied, workers with key positions or positions that would impact the company in major ways were still needed to be available through phone and email and not miss deadlines, where less key roles were able to be picked up for a few weeks by other markets. For us it really depended on your job and what you had that was due and the impact of that. We are a very large company and our workers that lost their homes to the fire are getting 6 weeks paid leave and a stipend from our foundation, I cant imagine that a small company could take a hit for more than 1 or 2 lower end workers doing this.

      1. A tester, not a developer*

        We define some people (or some teams) as ‘business critical’ – basically if the stock markets are open they need to be available. But they’ve all been made aware of that fact, and have been told what the plans are if there’s a natural disaster or other emergency (up to and including moving them into an anonymous bunker like building to work). I was so happy when I was no longer business critical. :)

    9. Wren*

      My company has been great. We have a company funded Employee Relief Fund that gives up to 5 grand for emergencies like funerals and disasters and we paid everyone who worked in Puerto Rico the entire time they were out of power.

    10. Isotopes*

      Not recently, but due to river flooding, our building was shut down for a few days (the parkade was under water). My manager at the time phoned everyone to let them know that we weren’t expected to work, that the building was shut down, and that we were to stay safe. And we’d be updated once the building was accessible again. Then said to make sure we stayed up to date on the company’s social media page for any other updates. A few people had work-from-home access and did what they could, but the understanding was that since no one had any idea that the flood was going to be as bad as it was, it’s not like we were prepared for it.

      I think your company sounds pretty heartless.

    11. Minocho*

      I live in Houston. I’m in a neighborhood drastically affected by the flooding (abuts the Addicks Reservoir).

      We have an emergency situation system that calls, texts and emails all contact points (unless we indicate the message was received) when we don’t have to come in for work due to unexpected situations. We all were notified to stay at home during the hurricane. We worked light duty from home during work hours if possible. My supervisor checked in on me about once a day to see how I was doing. I know he reported our general status up the chain.

      On day three, the water stopped draining into the storm drains and started coming out of them – the reservoir was full, flooding, and they were already releasing flood waters on the city to keep the reservoir walls from collapsing. It was time to abandon the house. I informed my bosses, arranged a place to land with my cats, put all my electronics as far up off the ground as I could manage, turned off the electricity to the house and evacuated.

      While I was evacuated, there was no expectation that I would work. I could to a little bit remotely, and I tried, but I was frankly useless the rest of that week and into the next. My boss and his boss called me occasionally to see how I was doing and ensure I was safe. Our company set up a relief center at one of their trucking bases, and gave free gas to employees, and distributed food and water.

      When I got home (my house missed flooding by about 3 inches, according to my neighbor’s security camera), my company made sure we were all aware of a company run charity for employees affected by disaster – you could submit a form and get cash to handle emergency expenses and pay home insurance deductibles! I had to replace my home’s roof, and the deductible was covered by an grant from this charity. I couldn’t help crying when I got the check. Other employees had tornados hit their homes during the storms, or lost cars or homes to flooding – and I know some personally that were helped as I was.

      They were amazingly awesome – and it’s an attitude that’s enforced and encouraged from the top down.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’d sit beside you and cry right along with you. That is amazing. This is what good leadership looks like.

    12. CatMintCat*

      I’ve had direct experience of this – we were flooded out of our home in 2012, and lived in alternative accommodation for eighteen months while repairs were done. There is nothing like the mess left behind when eighteen inches of dirty, oil and chemical laden water sits in your home for a week. It was a tough time.

      Work (government education department) was fantastic. Once we were allowed back into the house to start cleaning, I got a week off to do that. I was fully paid, and it didn’t come out of any leave I had accrued, it was just paid. Other time off as needed, flood-related, was also fully paid.

      A couple of other teachers at my school were affected differently. The water didn’t get into their houses, but they weren’t able to get to school due to road closures. If they could get to another public school they reported there for the days necessary and, if not, they were also paid for the days off.

      i never want to do that again, but the support from work was amazing.

    13. Michio Pa*

      My company has special leave due to anything that causes transportation to stop working (like if a whole road is closed or train line is shut down). We’re also granted time off for really bad weather like typhoons or heavy snow. Not sure what they’d do if someone lost their home but we have a lot of emergency materials at the office in case people get stuck at work and can’t get home.

      I think your company is incredibly heartless because employees should not be charged PTO or punished for not working if the cause is not their fault, i.e. major transportation closures or very severe weather/acts of dog. If someone can work from home, great, but they shouldn’t be expected to.

  13. Emma*

    Started listening to podcasts at work a few weeks ago, since some of my tasks at my new job can be pretty tedious & have totally fallen in love with The Adventure Zone- I just finished the Balance finale yesterday. Any other good podcasts you’d recommend?

    1. merp*

      Adventure zone!! I’m making it through Balance slowly still, but it’s incredible, right?? My go-to rec because I feel like it gets less attention is Within the Wires. Starts a bit slow but it’s really worth it.

      1. Joielle*

        I second Within the Wires! I also like one of its sister podcasts, Alice Isn’t Dead, and Limetown, which is in a similar-ish vein.

        1. AnonEmu*

          I like short fiction podcasts – Pseudopod, Escape Pod, Podcastle, they’re all great ^^ I also love Drunk Safari, Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men, and In Defense of Plants. I haven’t listened to it yet but a lot of my friends like Solutions to Problems as well, it’s an engaging SF podcast

          1. ErgoBun*

            Jay and Miles X-Plan the X-Men has so many episodes now that you can listen with abandon for ages! Plus they’re hilarious. Seconding this recommendation!

            1. AnonEmu*

              I have their “Magneto Made Some Valid Points” shirt and I adore it. Also it’s nice to see others ship Callisto/Storm as much as I have since I was a teen XD It’s a wonderful nostalgia boost! I downloaded a ton to listen to for my last long flight and it was perfect.

        2. Sapphire*

          Within the Wires is great. I always have to tell people to stick with at least two episodes of season 1 before they decide they don’t like it.

    2. Ok_Fortune*

      In the Dark and Reply All are both amazing. Very different from The Adventure Zone but I think extremely worth listening to. Understandable if you wanted something lighter though! For light, fun podcasts I’d recommend Every Little Thing.

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      Love Stuff You Missed In History Class/This Day in History Class. Lots of fun, super interesting, and there are tons of episodes!

        1. Mimi Me*

          I like Stuff you should know. My husband just listened to “Last Seen” – he loved it! It’s about the 1980’s art heist at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston.

    4. Stephanie*

      I’ve been enjoying:
      -The Dream (about MLMs)
      -An Arm and A Leg (about US Healthcare)
      -Call Your Girlfriend (it’s sort of freeform–two long distance female best friends chat)
      -Code Switch (about racial issues)

      1. Art3mis*

        I’m on the last episode of The Dream (stupid wireless earbuds died, recharging now). Very interesting!!

    5. E*

      I binge-listened to all of TaZ in a few weeks, then re-listened to it recently. So good, although I’m not as enchanted by the new arcs. If you like TaZ, try MBMBaM, and then if you like MBMBaM, try Hey Riddle Riddle! Those are my go-to commute ‘casts.

    6. KatieKate*

      If you’re love TAZ, check out The Film Reroll! A group of actors replay movies as a DnD session to hilarious results

    7. WomanOfMystery*

      I cried real tears at the Balance finale—<3 tres horny boys.

      Within the Max Fun universe, I really like Oh No, Ross & Carrie—their Scientology arc is great! They skeptically explore pseudoscience and cults, but in an open-hearted goofball way.

      1. Emma*

        The finale was incredible!!!! The Johann “you’re going to win” line/voiceover with the music gave me goosebumps!!!!!

    8. Ealasaid*

      I listen to way too many podcasts, but my top handful are:

      – Yo, Is This Racist? (Two POC comedians take listener calls and discuss with a guest, usually also a comedian)
      – Unscrewed (Feminism and sex, hosted by Jaclyn Friedman, author of Yes Means Yes and other great books)
      – My Favorite Murder (definitely not for everyone, but the true crime/comedy combo works for me)
      – Gaslit Nation (two experts on authoritarian regime discuss the news. Can be depressing but makes me feel like I grok what’s going on)
      – The Dollop (a comedian reads stories from history to his friend, without the friend knowing what the story will be. They riff.)
      – The Gender Rebels (a trans woman and her girlfriend talk about what it’s like outside the traditional gender norms)
      – Reply All (I know it was mentioned above, but it’s really good so I am including it in my list too :D)

      1. It's Business Time*

        I also listen to My Favorite Murder

        I usually only listen to true crime podcasts and some good ones are Casefile, Small Town Dicks, Teachers Pet & a few on the ones from Wondery.

        I do listen to the Purrrcast as well, because, well, CATS

        1. Ilikechocolate*

          I really really wanted to love my favourite murder. I am a big fan of the genre but the presenters just annoyed me. They are always giggling and it feels…so disrespectful and grated on my nerves.

          Would also like to add “Generation Why” which is my all time favourite true crime podcast.

    9. KR*

      So many. Behind the Bastards(bad people in history), My Favorite Murder (true crime), Stuff Mom Never Told You, Ask a Manager of course, Sawbones (medical history), Bear Brook (true crime), Stuff You Missed in History Class, Terrible Thanks For Asking, Slow Burn, The Dream

    10. magnusarchivist*

      The Magnus Archives (if you like horror fiction and, well, archives). Not graphic or violent but very spooky and very well produced.

    11. Jack Be Nimble*

      If you liked TAZ, you should try Friends at the Table or Follow the Leader! They’re actual play podcasts with really strong emphasis on storytelling and have queer casts! Friends at the Table has two major settings (fantasy and sci-fi, I’d start with Season 2/Counterweight if you like sci-fi and Season 3/Marielda if you like fantasy), and Follow the Leader has a bunch of very short arcs, so you can jump in anywhere!

    12. Competent Commenter*

      I’m obsessed with fiction podcasts right now. I recommend

      Very high quality writing, acting and production values:
      * Everything Is Alive (OMG, I’ve never heard anything like it, they interview inanimate objects and they’re amazing; the can of soda is just the best)
      * The Truth
      * The Control Group (whoa, really high production values and acting)
      * Homecoming (they based the show on this, it’s incredible)

      Creative and well done:
      * Sayer (very dark humor, I wasn’t sure I’d be on board but ended up loving it)
      * Life/After which is paired with The Message (they’re separate, don’t know why they do that)
      * Sandra (plot is not finished yet, we’re due another season)
      * Withing the Wires (three seasons, each very different, very experimental)

      Lower quality writing/acting but I got hooked and enjoyed them:
      * The Walk
      * We’re Alive (soooo many episodes, zombie apocalypse)

      * The Onion’s A Very Fatal Murder (spoof of serial-type shows)
      * Deadly Manners (Rue Paul, Kristen Bell, narrated by LeVar Burton)

      * and The Family Tree (bizarre, long-winded, poses as truth, British, not going to be most people’s cup of tea)

      Ooooh, I am so hooked on this genre. Thank you for asking about podcasts so I could unload a little!

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

        is Family Tree much like The Beef and Dairy Network podcast? I feel like it might be kind of the same vibe based on your description…

        1. Competent Commenter*

          I’d never heard of The Beef and Dairy Network. Just listening to a couple of minutes. The longwinded earnestness is similar. The Family Tree is about a podcaster who interviews people about a one-armed man who had disappeared and who years later is found buried—but still with the arm he’d lost in a car accident, plus the body had been buried at least 8 years before he’d disappeared. The podcaster stumbles on something very big (think finding out that a whole class of people can fly or some such, don’t want to give it away) and the story just keeps getting bigger and the characters start wondering about conspiracies, claim that past episodes are disappearing from the internet, people are in danger, etc. So kind of a thrilled but very slow building and it never, never stops being long winded. I know I’m not selling it, but I was totally hooked. :)

    13. Robot With Human Hair*

      I envy that you got to experience Balance for the first time. So, so, SO good.

      So, here’s a few on-the-fun-side podcasts for you to possibly check out (non-MaxFun podcasts, since I’m sure you already know all of those): The Amelia Project, Girl In Space, Attention HellMart Shoppers, StarTripper, Kakos Industries and Wolf359 (they finished the series so it’s no longer ongoing, but still a great listen).

    14. Anonymous Engineer*

      I’m obsessed with Ear Hustle, a podcast recorded inside San Quentin State Prison. Moving and fascinating.

    15. Luisa*

      I just started listening to I Hate It But I Love It (IHIBILI), and I looooove it. Ologies is also great and through that one, I discovered This Podcast Will Kill You.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Recently started listening to The Allusionist with my 12yo. The episode on swearing had her gasping & giggling…and nope has NOT turned her into a frequent swearer. ;)

  14. Rosie The Rager*

    Confused about interview writing exercise

    Recently, I learned that I came in second for a communications and marketing position with the local chapter of an organization affectionately known as “cookie pushers.” I encountered some serious red flags during the interview process; therefore, I am far from heartbroken about the outcome.

    The unresolved issue I have is that as part of the final interview I was tasked with completing a three-part writing exercise about the upcoming cookie sale starting in January. The information I created and discussed during the interview is relevant to the 2019 sale and was not returned to me; additionally, HR neglected to assure me that all the social media posts, press releases, and marketing plan outlines I created would be left in my file unused or destroyed.

    I followed up with HR via email and asked that she explain how the information would be handled. She ignored my email for the better part of a week. I called and left a message with her assistant, and this morning she responded to me via phone. I am less than satisfied with her response and contemplating writing a very detailed complaint on Glassdoor and informing people within my professional circle about the experience.

    May I inquire as to why the HR manager didn’t initially tell me about the outcome of the interview (waited more than two weeks) before reaching out and why I was assigned a writing exercise about an upcoming event, not a past sale or hypothetical event, for my final interview?

    As an aside, the organization has more than 40 negative reviews on Glassdoor about its interview process and working environment. I consider this a bullet dodged and a lesson learned, but I still feel disrespected and would like more of an explanation for the unprofessional behavior.

    What are your thoughts, AAM community?

    1. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      This reminds me of that one letter about job candidates having to organize an event for the same evening on a shoestring budget for real-life people. It sounds like they’re using the job search in order to get free labor for something they could hire someone else to do. And when you asked them about it, they took their time to come up with a suitable lie – or they’re just deeply dysfunctional and the lack of response was due to other issues in the company taking up HR’s time, which is still a bullet dodged.

      But I’m sure that, even if I’m right, they’re never going to admit that to you or to anyone else. They’re never going to give you a satisfactory explanation for their behavior because there is no good explanation: it’s just plain wrong. And the kind of person who does deeply wrong things isn’t going to say, “Yup, I’m a terrible person, and this is why!” I’d just write them off as a lost cause (and warn people off them if you think it’s necessary), but don’t keep looking for an explanation because you’re never going to get one.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s nothing here that indicates that they’re planning to use your work. Yes, it would have been better to have you write on a fake event or one in the past, but the fact that they didn’t do that doesn’t mean they’re going to use your work. You’ve made it clear you want to ensure they’re not going to to do that, but if they’re not responding to you, you can’t insist on an explanation. You can watch their materials for this event to make sure yours aren’t used, but it’s really, really, really common to do this kind of exercise and have zero intention of using people’s work, and yet still not return the materials to the candidate (in fact, they’re required by law to keep it on file and can’t destroy it for a year in case there’s ever a legal challenge to the hiring decision).

      1. Rosie The Rager*


        Thanks for the response! I appreciate the information about how long materials must legally be kept.

    3. DouDouPaille*

      I think you are over-reacting a bit. It is SUPER common for organizations to ask for writing tests, and they normally ask you to write about a future event because if you were to write about a past event, it would be possible to “cheat” by cribbing from previously published material on the event/subject. If you are truly worried, check in a few months time to see if they did in fact use any of your test materials in an unauthorized way, and take action at that time. But until you see evidence of something fishy, assume the best, not the worst, of this employer.

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

        Yeah, especially for social media stuff, where you could presumably look at their social media and see how they *actually* did it, which will shape how you do it, it makes sense to not have it be a past event. A made up one might be better, but like, they sell cookies every year, right? I don’t see asking you to mock up how you’d promote the 2019 sale as being particularly egregious.

        Sure, if they do end up using your work, you should reach out with an invoice maybe, but I agree with Alison that there’s nothing indicating that they’re planning to use your work.

  15. DCompliance*

    My department’s holiday party is today. Our VP decided to make $30 per person. A five dollar increase from last year.

      1. DCompliance*

        Yes. We have a company one that is free. But our VP likes to have a department one and you have to pay.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I guess as long as it’s not mandatory and as long as you face no professional repercussions for not attending, I guess that’s okay? Seems kind of weird still…

        1. Rey*

          If your VP wants to do karaoke, he can host his own Christmas party instead of pressuring his employees to listen to him freestyle. I would be so bitter about this.

          1. Drew*

            That VP deserves to get a very special karaoke session: “Take This Job and Shove It,” “9 to 5,” and so on.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, one of the employee resource groups at my job had a $50pp holiday event. And like…I like this group of people, but that was just too much for what still was a work holiday party…

      1. Lumen*

        Oh hell no. I’m not even going to my company’s holiday party, which I do not have to pay to attend and has a free meal, open bar, and prizes. I would NEVER attend a company holiday party I had to pay for.

        1. Mimi Me*

          I don’t attend any company party that requires payment. Recently a woman “retired” here at the office and insisted on this big to-do at a nearby restaurant. $45 a person!!! I had no part of it. I kind of took some flak for it from a few co-workers after the fact, but then the woman came back to work part time so the thought went from “Mimi is a jerk for not going” to “Mimi wasn’t stupid enough to spend $45 on a retirement dinner that really wasn’t.” My personal rule is: unless the company is footing the bill, I will not be attending.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh yeah, we had a retirement part for a division director that was like $40pp at a restaurant near her house (i.e., not near where I lived at all) on a Friday night. I was on vacation and out-of-town, so that was my convenient out for not attending. But I definitely felt some pressure to go to this party.

      2. Parenthetically*


        That’s insane. At my husband’s company party there was a sign on the bar listing prices for drinks and there was almost a coup in line (turned out you had to pay for any drinks beyond the two you got for free with your drink tickets, so all was well). I cannot imagine asking people to PAY FOR EVERYTHING THEMSELVES. Aren’t holiday parties supposed to be a thank-you/celebration for the employees? Egads.

        1. anotheranon*

          As a government employee, I’ve had to pay for parties. It’s one thing if the food is decent, but $20 for bad food is a shame. Sometimes the money even went to help foot the bill for non-employees’ attendance.

      3. MatKnifeNinja*

        My friend works at a small factory. No one is making mad money. $60/person for their Xmas party, and it’s sort of an requirement to go.

    2. matcha123*

      I went to my office end-of-the-year party this week. Cost is based on rank. I and a few others paid $30. The department heads paid $70, if I remember correctly.
      All-you-can-drink with a food course. No games, a few speeches. We picked numbers as we came in to take our seats. Totally fine by me. (not saying people posting here would be fine with it!)
      Oh, and no spouses allowed/invited.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Hmmm…”all you can drink and no spouses” would make me nervous.
        Glad it went fine for you, though.

        1. matcha123*

          I am single, so I would feel very awkward if it were an event where spouses were invited. Especially since most of my coworkers are married.
          Since this is a work event, spouses would never be invited. Some people in a section in my department went on a overnight trip to the hot springs last year. No spouses. I went to a hot spring with my coworkers years ago. Completely naked with people I’d only just met a few months prior.

      2. JanetM*

        For my division holiday party, the directors partially subsidize the cost at something like $100 each, and staff pay the difference (this year it was $12 per person for staff, add $19 for a plus-one). This is for a nice buffet lunch — no alcohol — at a lovely conference center.

        No games, two short thank-you speeches, and a raffle. (I actually won something in the raffle this year!)

        Okay, while I’m on that subject — my raffle bag included a box of golf balls. I don’t play golf, so I offered them to a more senior coworker (not my manager) who I know does play. Was that okay? He didn’t seem to mind, but I did wonder about the etiquette.

        1. Drew*

          Pretty sure regifting something that you JUST received at a work event to a boss you know would enjoy it is an allowable exemption to the “no gifting up” rule.

  16. Ok_Fortune*

    As a side gig, I do some consulting with another company anywhere from zero to four times per year. If the project involves travel and can’t be done in a weekend, I take my personal vacation days to complete work for them. (They’re not a competitor and my day-job boss knows about it and is fine).

    I get told something like “we need you for a project in X city that will take two days to complete”, for example. I get paid hourly so the length of the assignment is a significant factor in deciding whether or not to take it. This year, it happened to me twice that on the day I flew out, I received a schedule for the trip that showed significantly fewer hours than I was initially told. In one case I ended up with an entire day with nothing scheduled. Hanging out in a very cold northern city in December was not why I used my personal vacation days. I think it was an honest mistake in all cases; different staff members offered me the gig than made the trip schedule, so they may have miscommunicated, and in any case several months had passed so their needs may have legitimately changed.

    I’m wondering if anyone has any advice: would it be reasonable to ask for an hours guarantee or minimum pay guarantee for such a trip? If so, how could I word it? I’m in a very niche position so this company is the only one I consult for and I’m not sure what norms are for this kind of thing. I don’t want to alienate them, either, as I value the extra income.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      In my business, I have a minimum fee. I present it to clients’ procurement people that this forces their managers who want my consulting services to carefully consider whether they really need them. This ensures that I am compensated for my time/experience, makes sure the client manager actually does need my service, and ensures that the procurement person isn’t dealing with wishy-washy client managers who change their minds all over the place.

      The few times the project has been cancelled or scaled back considerably, I’ve at least gotten my time and expenses paid for, and it doesn’t happen twice – client managers really don’t like to see an expense hit their budget that they didn’t get value from.

    2. LKW*

      What I’ve seen is a per day fee, sometimes broken up to 1/2 days if travel is local. If you need to travel to another city, then you are committing the day. You could add your per day fee includes travel to/from (if you can get there in a day) or assumes x hours of work minimum. You could also add that anything beyond y hours -say a 10 hour day -will be an additional fee.
      In short –
      x per hour for remote work
      y per 1/2 day trip (where y = x*4 hours +expenses) that can be extended by x per hour more.
      z per day trip (where z = x*8 + expenses ) that can be extended by x per hour more and if the additional hours necessitate staying an extra day, that would be either z + x(n) + y or z*2 + x(n)

      Basically, you have to start outlining that your fee is a combination of your contribution to the project – work product, and your time to simply be available and present. Your clients need to recognize that for you this is a business, and you would like to avoid wasting your time and losing money.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think that your minimums should cover your costs and your time. My husband did repair work. The bill was one hour, or almost $200 to walk through the door. So no matter what happened next the customer was getting billed almost 200 bucks. The way my husband handled it was to look around and do a few simple, yet worthwhile things to fill up the time.

      I saw this again with my dog’s vet. She does chiropractic work and she comes to the house. Her place is at least 45 minutes away. Unless the dog is having a problem we wait until she has other calls out in my area, this helps to control her costs as she makes one trip instead of several to my town. She seems to have a baseline amount that she charges me, however, she watches her time and when she has the time, she throws in other things. Last time she trimmed his nails, no extra cost. This time she checked out a problem with one of his legs, which was not what I had called her about. I feel like I am getting value for the money spent. And of course the dog gestures that he is verrry happy.

      I have a few other examples of people who offer services setting baseline amounts. It’s pretty common and people do understand that travel costs do not get cheaper if you spend LESS time doing the actual work.

      1. Ok_Fortune*

        Yes, a good way to think about it. It isn’t worth it to me to fly 4 hours for one day of work, so a minimum fee would help them decide if they want me or another consultant.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I agree, set a minimum fee – for instance, one of the firms my office uses has a 2 hour minimum, (they are local). For travel out of area, it would be reasonable for you to set a minimum daily charge, and then make clear that your travel time & costs (and any over night accommodation costs) are on top of that. You might also want to build in cancellation fees if you don’t already have them, so if they decide the day before that they don’t want you, or need you for a shorter time, that you don’t end up having booked travel etc with nothing to show for it.

      1. Ok_Fortune*

        Yes, good advice. They do reimburse for travel no matter what (as they should), but thinking back to all the times it hasn’t quite worked out the way they claim. Thanks for your imput!

  17. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

    I have officially accepted a job! I’m moving 400 miles and getting a second law license in order to do so, but I have a job! The benefits are fantastic (99% of my health insurance is paid by the employer), I’ll get a lot of good experience, and the pay, while not the best ever, is still enough that I’ll be able to afford a decent place to live. [happy dance]

  18. TCO*

    I interviewed for a job this week in a small department that was newly formed after a big merger. This department hopes to influence most of the other departments in the organization, so collaboration within the system will be critical. In my interview it was tough to figure out whether this job would be exciting, creative work to form a new department, or whether I’d just be frustrated and spinning my wheels trying to bring new ideas into a huge, semi-chaotic organization focused on bigger priorities.

    If I get a next-round interview, can anyone suggest questions I could ask to parse that out more deeply? I did ask where the department hopes to be in a year, what the priorities are for this role, etc. but it was tough to assess how realistic the hiring manager’s hopes are (and I think he knew that, too).

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Ask about who is championing this initiative at the executive level – you need to know how far up the chain does support exist. Also, is there a defined budget for the role? As well as – is there a change management initiative organized to facilitate the integration of the organizations, and where does this role fit into that initiative. Has the company done anything like this before – was it successful, why /why not?

      If the answers you get don’t give you a comfort level that there is very strong executive support/commitment, etc. etc., then I would walk away.

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

      They may not give you the real information to truly figure that out, but I would ask about how solid the goals are, what are the exact plans to reach those goals and the deadlines along the way…something like, “You indicate that this new role will implement a TPS report system that all departments will need to comply with. What steps have already been taken to implement the system and what is the immediate next step? Are there hard deadlines for the roll out? Are there any known roadblocks to getting this implemented?”

      If their answers are vague or anything like “don’t know yet” or worse IMO “no need to worry about that,” I wouldn’t want the job myself. That usually means chaos and eventual disaster.

  19. Lena Clare*

    Job interview on Monday for a job I’d really like! I credit Alison and this blog (ok and me a little bit :)) for getting two interviews in a month and being able to turn the first one down because I recognised it wasn’t a great place for me…

    I’m a bit nervous and also excited about it. I’m using Alison’s interview tips to prepare. I have pages and pages of notes!

  20. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m following up to my last week’s question about telling an employee to get back to work. Friday was pretty hectic at work and I didn’t have a lot of downtime so couldn’t really respond as much as I wanted to, but I liked a lot of the advice given and I wanted to address a few things. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to read and respond thoughtfully.

    Hopefully this answers one of the questions of what the impact is. Things that need to be done are not being done, and when the numbers show that X team is under-performing, we fall under scrutiny. Even though it’s not tax season anymore, there’s still work to do. Anyhow, she’s on a new team in another dept now, so…it’s not my place to say anything to her now. She’s a really nice person and I think will be great in whatever role she has and has an overall good attitude but I needed to do what I had to at that time.

    What really helped me was how some people suggested framing it as–it may be annoying, but what’s the impact? That clicked for me, and that’ll be something I can apply to situations going forward. I also like the advice of interrupting with a work question when the situation calls for it.

    Reason I hesitated was that a few years back, I had a peer on my team who spent a lot of time walking around, talking to people, etc. I was friends with him and not in a supervisor role..I nicely told him that even though it’s slow, he may want to cut back, esp when boss and CEO etc were around. It was more as a friendly/senior coworker advice. Managers involved said I did the right thing. Well, that went horribly wrong–so even though factors are very different, the hesitation is still there.

    With that said, I really didn’t appreciate the “you’re the common denominator” sentiment and felt it had no place in my situation. It was pretty unkind and unfair. I’m self aware and I’ve been very open & honest about all my struggles over the last few years. I’ve said a million times that I like the open office and socializing with my coworkers, so I was pretty shocked that people were sharing this sentiment that I’m unfit to work with people (!!!). I’m slowly learning to trust my own instinct and judgment on A LOT of things but it’s a process. I had decided a while back that I’m not going to let someone’s bad behavior reflect on me. Someone being disrespectful, aggressive, chauvanist, isn’t a reflection on me. Honestly, it felt as if because I’ve been so open about the bad stuff, I’m seen by ppl here as such a screw up that I’m being questioned on doing even the simplest task. That wasn’t a great feeling.

    1. What’s with Today, today*

      I made one if those comments last week. I’ve been reading this site one year and commenting for 6 months. I know nothing about your posts beyond that time and they had no bearing on my comment. I’m sorry my comment was hurtful.

    2. Boredatwork*

      I think you spend exponentially more time trying to be a good thoughtful manager, than my own mangers. They all receive professional management training, on going development towards being better managers and are expected to dedicate the vast majority of their time to actual people management.

      The fact that you’re able to care as much as you do, while fighting the inevitable burn out that has claimed so many other public accountants is a very impressive task.

      I do think your skill set would be appreciated and nurtured more in the right corporate setting, but I’ve already drunk that particular flavor of kool-aide.

    3. Alianora*

      I went back and looked at the thread. Nobody said that you’re not fit to work with people. The closest thing I could find is that someone wrote (in a very gentle tone) that you may not be the right match for your workplace. No one is the right match for every workplace. That isn’t impugning your character or calling you a screwup.

      “Honestly, it felt as if because I’ve been so open about the bad stuff, I’m seen by ppl here as such a screw up that I’m being questioned on doing even the simplest task. That wasn’t a great feeling.”

      I think you’re getting these comments not because you’re being open about the bad stuff, but because there is so much bad stuff for you to write about. I know you said you like parts of your job, but seeing your weekly posts makes it seem like you’re really unhappy at your workplace.

    4. not a therapist*

      Those comments were posted because you need therapy. You treat SAM like you own personal sounding board or journal and post multiple new posts in every open thread about how you are having a hard time with the tiniest and most basic of issues. Your posts make it obvious you have difficulty dealing with every day life. No shame in that. I have struggled with my mental health in the past and seen a therapist. I realized I wasn’t coping well and you need to realize that too. Notice how almost no one has replied or jumped in to refute the comments or your complaint? It get exhausting having to do the emotional labor of someone who won’t even help themselves. You need to face the fact that you need help. Professional help beyond what AAM, your subordinates or your family can give.

      1. Nita*

        It’s an open thread. People are allowed to vent, and in fact, many do come back week after week to do exactly that.

        Also, having secondhand experience with toxic workplaces, I can easily see how struggling to fit in at one of these does not equal needing therapy. When coworkers have the professionalism of kindergartners, it’s not easy working with them, and constant problems are to be expected…

        1. Tired anon*

          Disagree, if someone has enough stress to vent every week to strangers, maybe they should consider venting to a professional. Yes it’s an open thread but Nervous Accountant comes back every week with more issues–I don’t know how to put this more nicely, but it feels like reading someone’s diary. It feels like these should be shared with people closer to NA than strangers on the open internet. And it feels like a lot of these issues are things that should roll off someone’s back, or at least lessen with some drinks with a coworker or over a good weekend. It sounds like NA is having trouble dealing with even little things at work, and while it’s good to be conscientious, I think at this point NA should either get a new job if it’s just the job, or start talking to a therapist rather than filling that need with the internet. I say this as someone who is seeing a therapist myself.

          1. Folks38*

            Yes, and it also seems like she decides to not respond when people give her advice that she doesn’t want to hear, and/or when people gently disagree with her interpretation of an event. Like here – she’s not responding to any of these responses, even though people are being polite and, honestly, caring enough about her to respond to her post.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I can sympathize with what you’re going through. I think you need a lot of validation and need to shoot your stuff off an audience. There are internet groups that are really great and for the most part, if it’s condensed and not every thing every time, the open threads are welcoming to the kind of things you’ll often post.

      I think it’s a bit much to say you need therapy but you may need another outlet for the small stuff.

      Your place of business seems like it’s a big turnstyle of folks, since there’s always so many new people. Which is probably part of your issue. You have to adjust to everyone as they come and then they go, new people come and it’s all over again! That’s typical with high turnover. It does make me wonder if you are in the wrong firm, more than the wrong career itself. If you had stability and familiarity, it would stop your constant chomping at the bit about every newb.

    6. Hope is hopeful*

      Nobody actually said or meant you are unfit to work with people last week.
      If you took it that way, that’s sort of the exact reason why people are responding to you the way they are.

      I know when it’s you/ your thoughts you are posting it can get v personal but the people who commented last week and this week actually said it nicely – it wasn’t blunt or rude and they explained the contents of their comment. It wasn’t meant to be offensive in any way but constructrive.

    7. Hard Candy*

      This is a gross mischaracterisation of the response and advice you received last week. As you are so self aware, I’m sure you can tell that you are reacting defensively and inappropriately to comments that were made in good faith. People were trying to help you and offered thoughtful, kind and constructive advice. If what you really want is handholding and praise, just say so next time you post one of your long “questions”. If you don’t want advice but you to vent/whine, fine. Don’t phrase it as a request for advice then complain when people give you advice, though. That’s not acting in good faith.

      And if you feel that your posts here have made people see you as a screw up, maybe you should think about why you feel that way.

  21. Erin*

    Writers and those in marketing: What is your process for sending articles to clients after they’re finished?


    -Do you have them approve the articles before publishing/promoting?
    -Do you allow for edits or corrections? How far do you let that go before they completely take over/rewrite the article?
    -How do you handle it if they want a complete overhaul of the article, and/or there was a miscommunication about what the article was about?

    Thank you!

    1. Erin*

      Well, crap. I was really hoping to hear from people on this one. Anyone?? I’ll answer your questions!

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

      I’m not a writer but I’m adjacent to marketing as a graphic designer, so I would say in general for any creative field that approval of a proof (in writing) before publishing/going live is always a must. I always allow for revisions and even overhauls — they’re the client they get to make decisions I don’t always agree with. The writers I work with have, on a rare occasion, asked to have their byline removed if the client has revised the article beyond what the writer intended. If you are freelance, you can work in how many revisions that are included in your basic fees and any beyond that are charged extra. You can even work out “ownership” vs “reproduction rights” in some cases that would give you more control over your final product, but works for hire generally belong to the client and not the creative person.

    3. Fact & Fiction*

      Hi! I’m a published fiction author but I also work full-time as an in-house marketing copywriter. My clients are all internal, and how much I take their feedback into consideration during edits depends on the specific collateral I’m producing. Some are more under my colleague’s purview, so I implement pretty much all of their feedback until we’re all satisfied with the work. This generally involves me working up a first draft, sending it out for review, implementing their comments in a second draft, sending it back out for review, and at that point it’s most often approved. Sometimes there will be multiple rounds of edits, but those later rounds are very minimal.

      There are a few projects that fall more specifically under my department’s control and purview. I still send things out for subject matter experts to review, for other marketing colleagues to review, and for our legal department to review, but I have more leeway then in how I implement the feedback provided that it’s still factually correct per the SMEs and passes legal review. Those projects vary in how many rounds of edits they go through, but it’s usually no more than 3-4. Every once in awhile I get a project that flies through with few edits and sometimes i get a bear that requires 7-8 rounds of edits.

      Whether the edits are light or heavy, I never feel like they’ve completely taken over or rewritten the article. There are a few projects where someone else actually HAS written the article, and I’m just polishing it up to meet our brand standards/style guide, but those are more the exception than the rule. I’ve not yet run into anyone wanting a complete overhaul of the article, at least not here.

      I’m trying to think back to past positions and projects, and there were sometimes instances where editors above me basically wanted such heavy revising that it felt like an entire rewrite, but I pretty much had no choice but to grin and bear it. I don’t think I ever had an clients (when I was freelancing) who wanted so many edits that it felt like an entirely new article.

      Hope some of this helps!

    4. Youth*

      I write in-house articles for my company, so I don’t have a ton of experience with working with clients on articles, but I do work with clients on writing other items.

      My suggestions:
      -Yes, you probably want them to approve before publishing.
      -Yes, allow for edits and revisions.
      -Set a clear number of revision rounds beforehand so that you don’t end up doing endless hours of revisions, thus reducing the $/hr value of your payment (assuming you’re paid in a lump sum).
      -If the requested edits and revisions are vague, send it back to them and ask for clear feedback with examples.
      -If the client completely rewrites the article…I have mixed feelings about this. Sometimes the client doesn’t actually want you to write something for them. They secretly want to write it themselves, so they’re just going to rewrite it no matter how good it is. If it’s being published under their name, then just accept their edits and tidy it up. (Unless the changes are egregiously terrible, in which case you can take the spirit of their feedback and come up with a different solution to their concerns–sometimes that works. If that doesn’t work, you can say, “I can do X, but I strongly recommend not doing that because of Y and Z best practices in writing and marketing.) If it’s being published under your name or if you really need this work for your portfolio, again, take the spirit of the feedback and propose a different solution.

    5. Celia Bowen*

      I didn’t answer as the question seemed strange – you’re not there to write your own writing but to meet a brief. They can do what they like with it including rewriting.

    6. Erin*

      I’m late on getting back to y’all but just wanted to say thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me! I really appreciate these thought out responses.

    7. Meteor*

      Hi Erin! I’m on the client side. Typically we provide a clear brief to our writers/creatives when kicking them off. So if the work comes to us for approval and doesn’t align with the messaging/etc in the brief, then we discuss & send them back to work on it again. If the work comes back and still is not what we’re looking for, then I get more prescriptive, and may actually re-write a few lines explicitly, in order to make sure we get what we need and hit our deadlines.

      I think it’s key to align up-front on the objectives, key message(s), and any watch-outs or things to avoid. If you have a good brief (or kick-off email, or whatever), then you’re all going to feel better about the creative end result.

      Also, regarding your phrasing “How far do you let that go…”: From the client’s perspective, we are paying for the work, and need it to align to our objectives. There are various business reasons why marketing can’t always be artistically perfect – for example, sometimes a salesy message is actually going to work on a certain consumer better than an artsy, aesthetically appealing ad. Ideally it’s best to do a mix of both, but the business objectives have to win out.

  22. Dreamer*

    I am in a Niche field and when petitioning for a WFH day (only one every 2 weeks and its encouraged in our company) during a team meeting. The team put together a full presentation, and subsequently told verbatim ” None of you are irreplaceable” Then shushed me and said “and you Dreamer are not getting any more money” I have only been with the company 6 months (this manager 6 weeks) I never asked for a raise, just more of a work life balance. I just dont know what to do next, my feelings are really hurt and I am tired of working 60-70 hour weeks. Not sure if I need advice or just to vent.

    1. Lumen*

      That’s terrible – even if the answer is ‘no’, threatening people’s jobs for raising a suggestion and then insulting you to your face, especially when you’re still quite new to the company and even newer to this manager? Toxicity Alert. This is not normal and not okay.

      1. Dreamer*

        Thank you Lumen. I really needed to hear that, I was trying to stick it out because if I dont stay 2 yrs I will owe relocation back but I dont think I can do it

        1. Lumen*

          Think of this way: imagine all the horrible messages about yourself, your work, and how you should be treated at work that 2 years will give you time to fully absorb and internalize. It will not help your health or career to stick it out and let them warp your ideas of what is okay.

          I will put in this caveat though: do what you can to try and address the problem where you’re at. I don’t have a lot of hope for this, given what you described, but I’m also not there and don’t have all the info. If there’s HR or anyone else to talk to about the situation, at least try. In a normal/healthy workplace, HR or upper management will hear “my boss told me I’m replaceable because I asked to do something that you encourage us to do” and shut that crap down while protecting you from retaliation. If that’s not a reasonable expectation where you’re at, then it’s not a good place to stay.

        2. Fact & Fiction*

          I recommend trying to get enough of a pay raise from your next job to cover the relocation fees (if possible), and start saving up now so you can afford to pay those relocation fees back when you do find a new job. Don’t let yourself feel completely trapped if you’re in a toxic situation. It doesn’t hurt to start looking now; it’ll allow you to be picky with potential jobs and feel a sense of control/hope that you’re doing something to address the situation. And I do think your feelings are perfectly valid.

    2. Binky*

      That sucks. Can you see if you can move internally in the company (and away from this new manager who seems abrasive and ignores perks your company supports)?

    3. The New Wanderer*

      Your manager sucks. I vote to start job searching again ASAP, it sounds like a no-growth, tense environment. If you’ve been there just half a year, do you still have contacts from previous companies you applied to?

      1. Dreamer*

        Thats a really good idea! There are a few companies I spoke/interviewed with 2 years ago. I was denied for not being technical but I have those skills now. Do you think that is too late to follow up?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      People who do not know how to lead people use this technique of putting down their subordinates.

      Of course, your feelings are hurt, the comment was intended to be hurtful. If you think crap about yourself then you won’t leave the company and you will do everything you are told to do.

      I worked for a boss who sincerely believed that people in our department were a dime a dozen. One leaves just plug a new person in. The guy did not realize it took at least a year to learn the job. (The work changed with the seasons, literally, so until you went through an entire year there was no way to know everything we were doing.) We were frequently informed that we could be replaced. Finally, I said, “Go ahead replace me.” This was very funny to me, as I was told I did the work of three people.

      So this boss has informed you that he is a crappy leader with NO management skills. He gave you a heads up.

      I think he was talking to all of you when he said that and not just you? Do you have a more senior coworker who you trust? Can you talk to them about next steps? In my mind it’s a matter of figuring out who you can report this to who will actually listen and take heart.

      1. Dreamer*

        I was named personally when she said it (and physically pointed at) Thank you so much for the comment. This really made me feel better.

    5. None the Wiser*

      Relocation fees are usually prorated over the contract period, that is, if you stay in the job for a year you would owe half the fee. Figure out what your break point is and time your job search so if you receive an offer, you can afford to pay back the remaining fee. Your new employer may also be willing to cover that expense.

  23. Cherry*

    Not sure if this is a work thread or not, so I may repost tomorrow but I came across something a little while back.. instead of saying for example, “Sorry for being late” say “Thank you for waiting for me”… basically turning a negative in to a positive I guess.

    Has anyone used this technique at work? What were the results? I’d like to learn more about this, for both work and non work situations.

    1. merp*

      I’ve done this more with situations where I felt confused and asked for help on something. Basically, going from “sorry, I can’t remember/am confused on this/etc” to just asking and following up with “thanks for your help!”

      Seems to be a generally good thing in my experience, because some of those kind of apologies weren’t necessary to begin with. Lateness like your example might be different though, idk.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think one is preferable to other. I think it really depends on the situation. You’re consistently 15-20 minutes late for a weekly meeting? Coming in every time and thanking people for waiting for you seems presumptuous and kind of obnoxious. It’s also weird if they didn’t actually wait for you and just started without you. Meeting up with a co-worker for lunch, and you’re late 5 minutes one time, “Sorry for being late” seems overly apologetic.

      Just say whatever makes sense. If you’re really sorry, apologize. If people waited for you, and you appreciate the wait, thank them for waiting for you.

    3. WomanOfMystery*

      I definitely started doing this! It’s great! You should, too! I feel very strongly about this. I have a tendency to always worry and feel guilty, so it was helpful to reframe it in a way that doesn’t feel so….power dynamic-y? It changes the situation to make it feel more mutually beneficial (You waited for me, which I genuinely appreciate and you get to bask in the warm glow of my appreciation) and makes people think you’re more competent and powerful.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      If you showed up late and told me “thanks for waiting,” I’d be annoyed. Because it’s not something I did for you, it’s something you did to me. If you called and said “I’m going to be 30 minutes late, would you rather reschedule?” and I said I’d wait for you, THEN you can thank me. But if you basically make the decision for me, don’t thank me for it.

      1. WomanOfMystery*

        I think, at least the way I use thanks-not-apology, is it replaces excessive apologies. “I’m sorry I’m late—thank you for waiting!” instead of my first impulse, “I’m so sorry! I can’t believe how late I was, I’m so, so sorry.” At work, it’s a compliment to the person helping me, rather than tearing myself down. If I’m at fault, I’ll apologize, but if I just have a sneaking guilty feeling, I’ll express gratitude for their help,

          1. WomanOfMystery*

            A better example might be, when I ask my boss clarifying questions and my first instinct is, “I’m sorry to bother you,” but what I actually say is, “Thanks for taking the time to really go through this with me.”

            I think thanks-not-apology is a good idea in the case of guilt complex or anxiety brain, as it helps combat the “Everyone hates me because I am a burden” and helps to reframe it as “Humans help each other—I get to both give and receive help.” It’s less about apologizing when you’ve done something wrong (which is important!) and more about not apologizing because you feel like you are a burden.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      “Thank you for waiting for me” is rubbing me the wrong way. It is missing the necessary apology and in the work setting where the person might not have had much choice it strikes me as . . . entitled. It could also come across snarky if people had to, for example, start the meeting with out you. I could see it in a social setting AFTER the necessary apology.

    6. CheeryO*

      I think that only works if you’re much more senior than the person who you’re meeting with, or if you’re only a couple minutes late. Otherwise, it’s pretty rude to not offer an actual apology.

      I try to avoid minimizing language in other situations, like other people have mentioned. “Just,” “I think,” “I believe,” the dreaded, “This might be a stupid question, but…” etc.

      1. Ok_Go_West*

        I recently stopped going to see a massage therapist because she arrived late and did not apologize–she just stated, “I missed my bus.” (I was waiting in the rain outside her locked office.) When you’ve done something impolite, an apology is warranted.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I think there’s a place for using gratitude words rather than apologies, and if you’re the type to over-apologize, I think it’s wise to interrogate your frequent apologies — are you apologizing for asking people to do things that are part of their jobs? Are you apologizing for asking for things you need or would benefit from? Are you apologizing when you’re not inconveniencing, hindering, or bothering anyone? Replace THOSE apologies with “thanks for giving me some time in your schedule” or “I appreciate your help with this” and the like.

      But when you ARE inconveniencing someone, like pulling them out of a meeting or turning up late, you SHOULD absolutely apologize, and previous commenters are absolutely right in noting that thanking someone for waiting instead of apologizing for your lateness seems presumptuous. I like Rusty’s distinction between “something I did for you” vs. “something you did to me.” Thank someone for the former, apologize for the latter.

    8. whistle*

      I’m all in favor of cutting out unnecessary apologies, but in this specific case (you were late and the person had to wait), an apology is warranted. I’m with some of the other commenters that, if I were on the receiving end of this, it would rub me the wrong way. “I’m sorry I was late but thank you for waiting” is great however.
      There are cases, like the one mentioned by Micormanagered, where a sorry is unnecessary and can be a burden to the person receiving it. I think the trick is to know which is which. Being late merits an apology, asking someone a legitimate question (which necessitates interrupting them) does not.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      If you are apologizing for the same thing such as lateness repeatedly, then work on the lateness thing. I will accept anyone’s apology and move on, but if they keep doing it over and over the apology is empty and in my mind it kind of becomes a minus.

      In more complex mix-ups, there are times where I can loop the other person in, “What do I do so I do not make this error again? I don’t want to hand you another problem like this one.” This has been wonderful because I have learned so much. And people do notice if you don’t make the same error twice. They are more willing to explain and put up with my one time mess-ups.

      I guess what I am saying is that instead of focusing on going from a negative to a positive, I prefer to focus on prevention. “Okay, this happened once, what will I do to prevent from happening again?” Sometimes I can figure out a course of action on my own, but other times I am a duck out of water and I have to ask the person who I have impacted.

      And sometimes we just have to say we are sorry. I messed up earlier this week. I was in a meeting and my new cohort said X is a problem. I reacted with some surprise. And cohort said she had already mentioned that. We talked for a minute and I landed on, “I am sorry I did not hear you the first time.” I could see her face relax upon hearing my apology. There are times where a straight-up apology is necessary. And this is the danger in trying to avoid apologies. It’s really easy to misjudge the size of our misstep.

      Going back to the lateness example, if a person is repeatedly late and repeatedly thanks me for waiting for them… uh… I am not really impressed with that. I vote for say sorry and SHOW sorry.

    10. Alianora*

      So yeah, I don’t use this technique in the example you used (for reasons that have been thoroughly hashed out already) but I do use it more broadly in situations where I really shouldn’t be apologizing. It’s hard to tell how effective it is on others. I like it because it makes me feel like a warmer person — it kind of goes hand in hand with showing appreciation for things others do, and it’s made me more comfortable giving spontaneous compliments.

  24. 42*

    Does your company do Performance Differentiation for yearly reviews? What do you think of it?

    Mine does, and I never really thought twice about it until I read a few articles recently saying it’s falling out of favor. Wondering what your thoughts are. Thanks!

  25. BusinessCat*

    Hi all, I posted a while ago about job searching for a staff position at a university. Exciting news, I now have one offer in hand and another expected. Now, I’m wondering how people choose between positions. Some context: currently employed in a lucrative position in an industry I don’t love. New offer: slightly less salary (4% less) for much better benefits and much better culture at a university I’m really excited about; would mean being the main resource in my technical field for a smaller division at the university and have lots of opportunity to use skills I already have to provide thought leadership to the division. Expected offer: with a contact I’ve been networking with who I would love to work for because I could learn from their cutting edge technical expertise (has written books and regularly presents at conferences); risk being that I haven’t received the offer, but the contact is main decision maker and has done everything but guarantee I will get it, salary will be close, but potentially could be a little lower. The plan for the expected offer would be to come in as a senior resource, mentor / help manage day to day operations of other associates with the leader planning to make it into a manager position within 2 years. So, do I take the position I’m already excited about, but may have less long term growth opportunities or keep treading water and hope for the position that I’m (just so) slightly more excited about? I think I know my answer as a generally risk averse person, but interested in other perspectives.

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      I had a similar situation where I was between an offer and an expected offer. I went with the first offer for a few reasons: I was sick of my toxic office, I was really excited about the role/university, and I felt I could make a huge difference. Expected offer (which turned into panicked offer when I withdrew) was higher-ed adjacent but much higher salary. That job was going to be much more sales-heavy than student-heavy, and I’m not a sales person in the least, so Offer 1 was my choice and I’m really happy with it!

      I made a pros/cons list with info like benefits, salary, distance, growth opportunities, personal reasons. That helped me see that despite Offer 2’s higher salary, there were more cons than in Offer 1. If you can ask Offer 2 to move up the decision process since you do have an offer on the table, that would probably be your best bet.

      1. BusinessCat*

        Thank you for the reply! I’ve notified my contact at the expected offer, but the process has too much further to go, so while they are doing what they can (guaranteeing the mentorship/ day to day management aspect and salary), they won’t be able to offer to me before I need to tell the other job. I think the reality is that I would really enjoy both jobs, which is why its such a tough decision, but in that event, the difference between one in hand at a guaranteed rate and therefore getting to leave my current less than enjoyable job sooner might make the difference.

        1. Minerva McGonagall*

          Also I wasn’t sure about growth opportunities when I took Offer 1, but now it looks like it could totally happen down the line. Plus, once you’re in a university, it’s way easier to move to another university than it is coming in from the outside.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      It sounds like you can’t really lose…

      Some of it depends on just how risk-averse you are. You now know that you can get an offer from a desirable place, at least, so if you take the risk and the second job falls through, you have a good chance of getting a third. The question is whether you can wait out your current situation if you have to go looking for that third.

  26. grumpypants*

    I’m really frustrated right now. I’ve been a long-term temp and my job was just converted to a permanent position, with an increase to my hourly rate. Good news, right? But I’m also being switched from 40 hrs/wk to 30 hrs/wk, so it’s very much a case of “Congratulations! It’s a paycut!”

    The new position takes effect on January 2, so I don’t even get the paid holidays while the office is closed. I haven’t had any paid vacation or sick days in 18 months. I’m so tired.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Condolences :( Are you now eligible for benefits? My pay as a salaried employee isn’t great until you take those into account. Especially compared to our contractors I seem to make a pittance. But it works out on the back end.

      1. grumpypants*

        Yep, I’m now eligible for benefits. But with my lower income, I can’t afford the monthly payment for the employer-provided health insurance I’m now eligible for.

        1. Anna Held*

          At least you’ll get some time off now. Use that extra day off to job hunt!

          This sounds like a company that will wonder what happened when you’re gone. And they were so nice to hire you on permanently, and give you a raise…..

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            I wonder if there’s any chance, if you brought this to your new supervisor and laid it out for them, this would turn out to be a misunderstanding and they’d agree to reconsider?

            1. grumpypants*

              I did the math with my supervisor. They acknowledge my situation, but are inclined to minimize its impact on me. Of the 40 hrs/wk I’m currently doing, 10 hours are devoted to a different project than the rest, so they see it as going from 30 hrs/wk at $X to 30 hrs/wk at $X+0.75. But the fact is that I’m losing those 10 hours and I CANNOT afford this.

              Plus the fact that my “start” date is right after four holidays that are paid for all current permanent staff, and I’m beyond BEC with this job right now.

              1. Sloan Kittering*

                Ugh, well as others have said, if you have demonstrated that they’ve cut your pay, and they didn’t address that, they can’t be that surprised that you started job searching and left :(

                1. valentine*

                  You don’t have to accept and it may be worth it to point out you’re unlikely to find a 10-hour job that works with the schedule.

              2. Observer*

                Start job hunting. You have a perfect explanation here – your boss liked your work so much they they switched you to permanent at a higher rate. (That show how awesome you are.) But they also took you off a project that can be done by someone lower skilled, so that wound up as a net pay cut. Any halfway reasonable employer will understand why you would leave a job over a pay cut.

  27. HR Lady*

    So, a couple of weeks ago I talked about the upcoming fear I had about a Christmas party that would be full of booze but without the usual control factors of a sit-down meal and partners being invited. Amazingly, I had to handle absolutely no disciplinary or grievance matters on Monday morning. By Tuesday, I was weirdly relieved that we’d got over things and the only major complaints was that there hadn’t been enough food. It actually was a super fun party, I danced for several hours and amazed myself at having a good time. By Wednesday morning I was breathing the sigh of relief of a woman who did not have to run several investigations.


    I got a call yesterday telling me about a mid-week party in one of the smaller hub offices that I also have to look after. (The party above was the one for our HQ.) The smaller party was in a hotel, where all staff had a hotel room for the night in return for the first part of the day being training, followed by the party itself. One of our interns (and these are ‘do an internship unless there’s a problem you’ll get a job once you finish your degree’ arrangements, so we do treat them as employees in terms of legal matters) didn’t turn up for dinner and one of the admin staff went to find him. He was in his hotel room, “covered in cocaine” and completely unaware of his surroundings. Health-wise he is apparently fine but since said party also involved some of our clients attending I am now running a major incident investigation, travelling to said hub office on Monday morning for witness statements and have had to rope in senior directors for risk management. I thought I’d just be dealing with catfights between the PAs that hate each other/drunken snogging/getting the interns taxis home.


      1. HR Lady*

        YOU WIN and I am using that pun several times during the despairing internal meetings we’re having about this incident.

      2. Marthooh*

        Damn, Lucky, you beat me to it!

        But at least I can still congratulate HR Lady for Working in a Winter Wonderland.

      1. HR Lady*

        Well, officially speaking we can’t take formal action until we’ve completed the report but I don’t think I need a crystal ball to say his odds aren’t looking good…

    1. Parenthetically*

      Ye gods, this was… not the update I was expecting.

      So sorry for the actual HR nightmare you’re going to be dealing with. Bah humbug.

    2. valentine*

      I hope he’s okay and you’re allowing for the possibility of foul play/he is either not, or not entirely, responsible.

  28. Micromanagered*

    There was a weird/sour smell in my cubicle this morning. I thought maybe it was something in my trash, so I emptied it, but I still smelled it and wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I had a small thing of Bath & Body Works spritzy stuff in my purse, so I gave it a little spritz in the air to try to mask the smell. A few minutes later, I got an email from someone 3 cubes down which said “I’m so sorry but could you not spray that again? It’s making me kinda sick.” I responded immediately, said of course!, apologized, and thanked her for telling me. She replied and thanked me for saying that–she was nervous about saying anything because she thought I might be angry with her.

    Anyway, just an example of a how an uncomfortable conversation like we read about in many AAM letters can turn out really well! Happy Friday!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      That’s great! I teach middle school and I wish I could graciously put a moratorium on the cocktail of body sprays I inhale all day long (and I am singling out Axe for special focus, as it is the grossest.) So glad it worked out!

      1. Micromanagered*

        LOL I try not to overdo it spraying it on myself, but I think spraying it in the air (mixed with the funky smell, which she said she could also smell) was grossing her out.

      2. Middle School Teacher*

        Hahaha I do! I teach grade 7 health and my boys are shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, when I tell them that covering themselves with Axe will not make girls jump them like in tv commercials :D

  29. Desk Jockey's Last Day*

    Last day at my temporary gig. The gig was supposed to run to the end of the year, but they’re laying me off a couple of weeks early. Not soon enough! I guess I’ll miss the last couple of paychecks but I won’t miss the cranky cubicle neighbor who obviously was not happy I was here.

    Also Boss Man is letting out go early but paying me for the whole day. Who’s up for a mid-afternoon cocktail?

    1. Desk Jockey's Last Day*

      * letting me go early

      Also, a question: What have you written for your e-mail auto-responder when it’s not, “I’m on vacay, please contact Co-Worker A for X, or Co-Worker B for Y,” but it’s actually, “So long, suckers, I’m outta here for good”?

      1. Snubble*

        “Thank you for your email. I am no longer employed at Angry Bees, Inc. Please direct all enquiries to Peter or Susan.”

      2. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        You may not have to worry so much about leaving an out of office message on the email at work. If the company you are working for is anything like my oldjob, they will have your email account there de-activated by 12am tomorrow.

        1. Desk Jockey's Last Day*

          Could be! My exit paperwork includes “turn on yer auto-respond” on the checklist, though, so I might as well set it up.

        2. only acting normal*

          Our IT occasionally gets over-eager and deletes someone’s email account a day or two before they leave… causes all the headaches you might imagine.

  30. mr. brightside*

    Pity me. A bunch of expletive deleted went down at work this week and I have been one two calls so far today with people shouting. Everyone on the call agrees with their position, but these two people, who are generally shouty, have gone all out.

    I just want to tell them to stop yelling at me because I agree with them, but we might disagree on the definition of shouting. They’ll probably say they’ll just expressing their opinions forcefully. I’d point out the very raised volume and aggressive tone of voice.

    I just came out to work today and honestly I’m feeling so attacked right now.

    1. Adlib*

      When I used to answer phones at a previous job and get angry callers, I’d let them vent for a moment, and then tell them I couldn’t help them until they calmed down or stopped yelling. That generally helped, and I could express empathy for their (what was usually) frustration. You might try a variation of that since you say that you generally agree with them.

      No one should yell at work in any setting so they need a reminder that even if they aren’t yelling “at” you, it doesn’t mean that it’s not stressing you out.

    2. Dasein9*

      Oh, you look a little peaked. Maybe you have an upset stomach. End the calls/meetings and hide out somewhere mildly unpleasant but sacrosanct for a while. (Mute your phone and play a game or something.) Let their shouty feelings have time to peter out and thank them for being so patient with you when you call back/see them again.

      1. mr. brightside*

        Unfortunately, those shouty feelings have been going on for months. We’ll all be glad when this project ends.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I sympathize… my Friday of re-work was partly due to a project shared between HQ and a recent acquisition. The newly acquired senior product manager made some logical but incorrect assumptions …and had a 2-week vacation planned just when product went to regulatory agency for listing. The developing engineer at HQ briefly took over submission procedures and made some judgement calls on the fly. Some of what contradicted unwritten assumptions of PM. So, well, let’s just say that they disagreed with each others’ decisions. For months.
          It means frequent contradictory instructions on how to assemble my teapot handles!

  31. Snoozing Loser*

    I wrote last week in the open thread about my unpaid suspension that was a consequence of falling asleep at work – when the exhaustion had been a result of the work itself (being required to work 100+ hours, including an all-nighter, during a 6-day crunch period). I wanted to update everyone as I received so many positive messages of support in response to my post (so grateful!!!) – unfortunately, the news is not good. The VP who could have overridden the suspension returned to work (from bereavement leave) on the same day I returned from suspension (Monday) and my boss/grandboss arranged for all of us to meet with him on Tuesday. We all requested that ideally I would have my performance file expunged and my pay reinstated from the suspension period, or at a minimum, that I should be allowed to use my PTO for the week off instead of it being unpaid. However, the VP got extremely angry upon hearing about my unauthorized nap, said the extended working hours were no excuse, and fired me on the spot. I was perp-walked out after getting to grab only my handbag, was not given any severance, and was told I had better not even think about filing for unemployment because I was fired for cause. My boss and grandboss were beside themselves, and they, and several other members of our department, have reached out to offer support and express sympathy. However, with both the VP and HR against me, there is really nothing that can be done. I am now facing the holidays with sudden unemployment, no severance, my benefits have also been terminated, and I will not even be paid for my accrued PTO (it’s not legally required in my area, although the company usually pays out upon an employee’s departure – just not when someone is fired for cause). I tried to at least ask that I be given a neutral reference (employment verification only) and that the record reflect a layoff rather than firing for cause, but they refused. I am just so bewildered because I have been rated as a top performer in my past several reviews, have never had any disciplinary issues at all, really have never complained about anything, have never clashed with anyone at the company…I cannot think of any reason why anyone would want me gone. This makes about as much sense as, say, firing me because I got violently ill after eating tainted food at a company event. I know I am probably better off moving on but definitely did not want it to happen this way, and am extremely stressed about both finances and future job prospects. If anyone has any words of encouragement, or could help me frame what I could say when I am applying/interviewing for new jobs (after a firing, I know it’s important to be contrite and discuss what I’ve learned from the experience) that would be incredibly helpful.

    1. Tara S.*

      I’m so so sorry! That is a complete overreaction on their part! Could you ask your boss/grandboss for references? If you give their contact info, it’s likely they will be contacted, not HR.

      1. Snoozing Loser*

        Both boss and grandboss told me they were so sorry, but they were told they would be fired if they provided references instead of referring any reference inquiries to HR. And I was told that HR would verify my employment dates and salary but they also WOULD have to tell anyone making inquiries I was fired for cause and the reason. But maybe that’s not so bad, especially if I am forthright in interviews about the situation? I am just struggling with what language to use, that won’t make it sound as if I’m minimizing/hiding something. In the meantime…I do have a coworker (not my official boss, but senior to me who led some of my projects) who left a few months ago and is thus not subject to the same rules. Hopefully she will be willing to provide a reference and speak to both my character and the company culture.

        1. CatCat*

          When the dust settles a bit for you and you are employed elsewhere and if you feel inclined to warn others about this beehive, you could write about your experience on Glassdoor. Be sure to include “Both boss and grandboss told me they were so sorry, but they were told they would be fired if they provided references instead of referring any reference inquiries to HR. And I was told that HR would verify my employment dates and salary but they also WOULD have to tell anyone making inquiries I was fired for cause and the reason.”

          This is just nuts. The company deserve to lose talent over this.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          I think that’s right — if you describe this situation in an interview (pulled an all-nighter, took a nap), no one rational would hold it against you.

        3. Observer*

          Actually, if they tell the truth about why you were fired, it won’t do you any damage, at least not with reasonable employers. “Fell asleep on the job after several weeks of 60-100 work weeks” is not going to make you look bad, you know.

          I’d be more worried about them actually lieing about you.

    2. mr. brightside*

      However, the VP got extremely angry upon hearing about my unauthorized nap, said the extended working hours were no excuse, and fired me on the spot

      Holy shit, I’m so sorry. I was worried about you and hoping for the best, but this is horrible. I’m so sorry it happened.

      If it helps, try framing this in your mind as something that is not on you. You controlled your own actions, they controlled theirs. Yes, you fell asleep at work. This was your action. It was also after being overworked to the bone. That was their action. Then they chose to suspend you. Then they chose to escalate it even further and fire you. Wasn’t the policy saying for suspension? But the VP decided to fire. That’s on the VP and on HR. That is not something you control. That is something they decided to do to you.

      You have been screwed over and it sucks, a lot. File for COBRA if possible to keep your benefits, file for unemployment, accept that this is gonna be a place that’s gonna hurt in your mind for a while.

      As for what to say, I’d go with “because of the extensive overtime of 18 hours a day, I fell asleep on the job, and was fired because of it. I understand what I did wrong and want to move forward for it. I’m interested in this position because of X, Y, and Z”. Also this could lead into a discussion of what kind of overtime or work/life balance the new place has, so you can see what you’d be getting into.

      And honestly, unless you’re a security guard or something, this sounds like major major major overkill for falling asleep on the job.

      1. Barb*

        I disagree that it was wrong to fall asleep. That’s a normal biological function that OP wasn’t allowed to take care of because of work. All blame hours to work. I would just describe it as a natural physiological consequence.

      2. Snoozing Loser*

        (Reposting this as I accidentally posted way down below in the main open thread)

        Yes, the basic policy requires a one-week suspension for falling asleep on the job. Of course, under at-will employment (at least in my understanding) more severe consequences can be imposed for just about any reason that isn’t discriminatory.

        I do like the idea of using the issue to explore any potential employer’s thoughts on reasonable working hours, what is expected of employees (and what is offered in terms of rest periods or other support) when highly extended hours are required, etc. I would also like to find out (at least if I get pretty far into an interview process) how the company handles employee mistakes, to avoid this sort of one-strike-and-you’re-out situation if at all possible. I would definitely want to know those things coming in the door for any future jobs.

    3. anon24*

      I’d file for unemployment anyway and make them go to court and explain themselves.

      I’m so sorry! Best wishes for a better job!

      1. Myrin*

        I was just thinking that – I’m not from the US but from what I’ve read on here over the years, it rarely seems to be a bad idea to file for unemployment anyway.

      2. LCL*

        Yes. File for unemployment. It sounds possible your firing violated their own policies-you said the penalty for nodding off is a standard week’s suspension, and VP unilaterally changed it to a firing. To help with your strategy, try to have the answers in mind to some questions. I realize you might not be able to answer them, and might not have access to anyone who could.
        1. Is this typical of how the VP handles personnel issues?
        2. If it is not typical, is it possible the VP is temporarily deranged/rendered unstable/irrational by his grief?
        3. Is it possible he is taking prescribed drugs to cope, and they aren’t working well for him?
        4. Is this kind of over the top consequences-you questioned an unduly harsh treatment so were punished harder-the way your company usually operates?
        5. Is there a reason VP or someone else was out to get you?

        Again, file for unemployment. This may be worth talking to a lawyer about. I’m this close to trashing VP, but there are too many unknowns now. His bad behavior is causing effects that are the same as if he was malicious. Is he?

        1. Snoozing Loser*

          This is actually very far out of character from what I have previously seen of the VP. I mean, I don’t know him extremely well given that he is three levels above the position I held, but from everything I had seen before he conducted himself in a kind, thoughtful and fair manner. However, he was out on bereavement leave because one of his children had died by suicide. I do think he was extremely affected by grief (how could one not be), probably really did not want to deal with what seemed like a petty personnel issue in the scheme of things, and ended up taking his emotions out on me. I really do not blame him and am still much more upset with HR for causing this situation against my old boss and grandboss’s wishes. I just think there was a very unfortunate convergence of circumstances that ended up costing me my job in a way that came across as incredibly cruel (and really not business-minded either – I am not saying I am irreplaceable, but I had been one of the best workers in the division for the past several years per the feedback I received consistently). I don’t think he is evil, just human, and (if he remembers anything about it) will likely feel bad once he emerges from the fog of grief. But for now I think all I can do is what others have suggested – file for unemployment, try to shore up any references possible under the circumstances, and be thoughtful about how I frame the situation to future potential employers.

          1. LCL*

            Ouch. This whole thing makes me sad for everyone. I had something slightly similar happen to me in school-got administratively shafted because the decision maker had been on bereavement leave for his wife. So I dropped the issue once I was informed of his circumstances. But that was a really low consequence incident in a school kid’s life, nothing compared to what has happened to you.

            1. valentine*

              Should they offer you your job back, don’t take it. Accept only severance, PTO payout, and a good reference. Being out is right, however awful the path.

          2. Alianora*

            Oof. Now that I hear this additional context his actions are more understandable, though not excusable. I’m so sorry this happened to you.

          3. Friday*

            Oh wow. Ok yes, now the VP’s actions make sense. But as horrible and real as his pain is now, he’s not allowed to cause punitive harm to you. Please file for unemployment.

          4. IrishEm*

            I have all the sympathy and empathy for you. I also think you are a very kind and empathetic person to have this view of theVP’s situation. Not everyone (myself included) would be able to take the VP’s bereavement into account in a situation like this.

            Also, not sure if this is helpful or not, but I’m picturing VP as Théoden and HR as Wormtongue in this situation. Sounds like someone in HR really has it in for you :(
            Do file for unemployment, I don’t know how it works in America but in Ireland if you’re not working you’re entitled to it (if you are genuinely seeking) and it is a support that is in place for a reason. If old job has to defend the decision in court then it will be on the public record that this is a consequence of working for them.

            *all the hugs you might want*

          5. Marthooh*

            This is so sad all around. Obviously, the VP’s personal pain doesn’t make his actions any less unjust, but it’s not possible to say so to him right now.

            I think you should certainly file for unemployment. If you get it, you’ll have more ammunition* to use on HR. Hopefully your boss and grandboss will be willing to help if they can, and letting a little time pass will let veryone take a fresh look at the incident.
            * That’s not the best way to put it, though.

        2. Observer*

          Actually, none of these matter. Even if this is standard practice at the company, this is so out of the norm that most UEI boards are not going to consider this “firing for cause” in the sense that denial of benefits is warranted.

          They know it – that’s why they used such threatening language about it. Otherwise they would have laughed and said “Ha! Good luck with that!”

      3. SignalLost*

        Yes, this. The decisions of unemployment in my state are essentially made by human beings, and it’s hard to see that you would in fact lose a claim even on appeal. I mean, you WERE fired for cause – and they caused it. It’s not like you swiped the cash register and ran.

        And what on earth will they do to you? You don’t have a reference, you don’t have severance, and they’re preventing people from helping you – they’re not also going to come to your house and slash your tires. They can’t do more than they are.

      4. Juli G.*

        Yes, file! The state decides what constitutes unemployment and what doesn’t and some states hold employers to really high standards for proving misconduct and withholding unemployment.

      5. emmelemm*

        Definitely. Make them “defend” their decision. It’s different state-to-state, but a lot of states are pretty favorable towards the worker on unemployment decisions.

    4. Muriel Heslop*

      That’s awful! I am so sorry! Will your boss and grandboss be references for you?
      If I was interviewing someone who said they were fired for falling asleep at work while working a 100 hour week, and their boss verified it, I would not see that as a red flag.

      1. Rebecca*

        Agreed! You are a human being that a human thing happened to! Ugh, I am so sorry. Please file for unemployment. I can’t imagine a court in this land who would agree with them. And again, I wish I knew the name of this awful company so I could avoid doing any business with them, at all!

    5. Namast'ay in Bed*

      I am so sorry about this, it sounds incredibly unfair. I’m sending you jedi hugs and the best of wishes.

      I’d also try and file for unemployment anyway, and I agree with Tara S. about asking your boss/grandboss for references separate from the company.

    6. CatCat*

      This is awful! That VP is a terrible human being!

      I would *DEFINITELY* file for unemployment benefits. They don’t want you to file because then they have to deal with the UI office and any appeal. If you’re denied, APPEAL. In my state, you get a hearing before an administrative judge and, in my experience, quite saavy and can smell BS. They are quick hearings and people usually represent themselves. Check your state’s unemployment website and what the state views as “cause” for firing that result in no benefits. In my state, the threshhold is “misconduct” and that requires the EMPLOYER to prove it existed.

      You’ve got a sympathetic professional network in place in your boss, grandboss, and team members. Reach back out to them and ask for their advice on job searching. They may know of some leads for you!

      I am so sorry this happened to you! You’ve been treated abominably and it is zero reflection on you, but rather a reflection of the company.

      1. Adlib*

        Yes, this is generally how it goes and a good explanation of it. If you’re lucky, the company won’t even show to the hearing (that’s what happened in my case), and you’ll be granted the unemployment. I hope it works out for you as this whole situation is awful. (Again, the phrase “beatings will continue until morale improves” seems true at this place.)

      2. Dweali*

        Definitely reach back to boss and grandboss…they may not be able to give an official reference but if they have leads they could probably figure out a way to give an off-the-records one. And OP never take legal advice from your adversary (and this is what former company now is) file UI and appeal if necessary.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          Do this, as well as file for unemployment. When I was laid off, the company’s official position was that management was not “allowed” to give references, but my senior manager told me he would anyway (a positive one, he was clear on that), and did in one case.

          It sounds like the VP is not ready to be back at work after that horrible personal tragedy. I’m sorry you were so excessively punished and I hope things improve for you soon!

      3. Minocho*

        Definitely file! I did when getting fired for not completing a coworker’s project – and the coworker faced no discipline. I filed anyway, and the state granted me unemployment.

        I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I hope you find something amazing very quickly.

      4. Not a cat*

        Adding to those encouraging you to file for unemployment. Please do so. I was fired for cause about 5 years ago and the state (California) awarded it……so you never know.

    7. Liane*

      I would still file for unemployment. VP’s, or even HR’s, definition of what level of “for cause” bars benefits may not match the state’s, and the UI people, NOT ex-employers, get to make that call.
      If possible, use boss or grandboss’s contact info on the UI application. (This isn’t lying if it’s like my state’s online form, which just asks for a supervisor name & phone number.)

      And good luck to you

    8. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      You most certainly CAN file for unemployment, and you SHOULD! Please do not let them talk you out of that. It is ALWAYS your right to file. Whether or not it is granted may be in question, but that is not your employer’s call to make. You ALWAYS have the right to file.

    9. submerged tenths*

      So sorry, and I usually steer clear of legal remedies . . . but this sounds like might be worth consulting an employment lawyer. Your “unauthorized nap” was the direct result of workplace conditions. If nothing else, you might be able to get unemployment benefits!

      1. AnonEmu*

        Seconding this, and so sorry this happened to you! This is totally disproportionate response on their part.

    10. Llama Lawyer*

      I would suggest that you consult with an attorney. There may be some wage payment laws that you’re not aware of, and, of course, it’s at least worth filing for unemployment. What do you have to lose by doing so?

    11. Anna Held*

      That place is full of evil bees! You are better off. No way is both HR and the VP that crazy and incompetent (because yes, this is bad for the company) without the evil bees nesting EVERYWHERE. You just didn’t notice it because they weren’t seen much in your corner of the company.

      Internet hugs for you!

      (Do bees nest?)

    12. misspiggy*

      This would be the definition of constructive dismissal where I am, and you would be in line for a hefty settlement. It might be worth talking to a lawyer in any case.

    13. MissDisplaced*

      FILE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT! File anyway and fight for it. Because I’m assuming you worked those 100+ hours and the all nighter without any additional overtime pay if you’re salary.

      While sleeping at work is generally ’cause,’ there might be an exception in this case.
      Make ’em prove it.

    14. Mouse in the House*

      Wow. Your employer is crazy. The very least you should do is file for unemployment. If you have the money I would also talk to an employment lawyer about receiving additional compensation, being allowed to have references, etc.

    15. Phoenix Programmer*

      I recommend saying toward the end of a 100 hour week I nodded off at my computer. The company policy is a weeks suspension with no pay or PTO allowed. My boss and his boss both wanted an exception for me because of (years of good reviews, excellent work on the tea pot project, etc.) and argued my case to their VP. In response the VP fired me and was explicit he would fire both bosses if they provided a reference.

      Say it calmy and matter of fact.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      You have a lot of patience, OP, I would have been so hopping mad that I would not have even been able to type a post here. So you have your wits about you and that is GOOD.

      You worked 100 hours? That’s around 14 hours a day seven days a week. I think I would call their health insurance company and let them know that employees have to work 100 hours per week and they might be concerned about increased medical bills at that company.

      And I have that rebel side of me who is saying, “tell us the company, OP, we will take care of this for you with our world wide boycott of this company’s products and services.” Rebel Me also wants you to do an interview with a news reporter.

      More reality based, I would talk to an employment attorney.

      From a more personal perspective, of all the loses I have seen, the people hit the hardest seem to be parents who lose children. I had four family members lose adult age children. Those four family members were each dead in less than two years after losing their adult age child. Grief is incredibly powerful. The VP should have stepped back by saying, “My judgement is clouded right now, I will let Sue or Bob decide what to do here.”

      Grief can dress up in many costumes and anger is one of them. This VP is one angry dude. Probably he will make more very large mistakes very soon. His anger is guiding his decisions. None of this is to excuse what he did, matter of fact with his level of heartbreak his compassion should have been higher not lower. So this makes his actions even WORSE. This is relevant to you because I think you need to know that he cannot sustain this level of ugliness. At some point he will experience some type of downturn from it all. I think you should stay strong and advocate for yourself, be that with unemployment or with an attorney, which ever you chose.

      One word of caution: If you do decide to push back then KNOW what it is you want. Do you want your job back? Do you want a severance package with good references? Know what it is you want from these people. You will be asked so have your answer ready.

    17. Phoenix Programmer*

      So who told on you for snoozing? I hope your boss and grand boss are giving them a hard time.

      1. Snoozing Loser*

        It was another employee on our floor (not a member of my immediate department and not a member of the crunch time team). As I had said in my original post last week, the situation was that I had worked 100+ hour in 6 days. For most of that time the work was the right combination of interesting and intense to allow me to go on adrenaline. By Friday afternoon that week the project was nearly complete. Some other team members were going to do a review of my work and provide some final edits for me to incorporate in the report, so I had a break of a couple hours before finishing up the project. I shut the door to my office and was going to catch up on some other emails and paperwork but ended up nodding off (and was audibly snoring, I suppose). The person who heard me snoring went straight to HR instead of either (a) waking me up to ask if I was okay, or (b) talking to my boss or grandboss. The person who reported me is known for reporting others for minor infractions like being one minute late coming back from lunch (even exempt people who are supposed to have more flexibility), footwear being a shade too casual, etc. But she is beloved by HR as their “eyes and ears.”

        1. Friday*

          May karma kick that person in the ass someday.

          One more thing you need to check, Op. If you are exempt from overtime pay, take your regular weekly (if salaried) or hourly wage for 40 hours a week, and see how that same dollar amount shakes out over 100 hours. Are you still over minimum wage. If not, then your company owes you money.

          1. Beekeepers Anonymous*

            For what it’s worth, my entire company had to reclassify hundreds of positions as non-exempt after a group got together and sued and won for regular treatment like this.
            It’s …odd… seeing so many professional engineers & others not typically non-exempt punching a clock, but it has kept them a little less likely to demand excessive OT.

        2. Owler*

          Please, please use the wording similar to what Phoenix Programmer provided above. I’m going to copy it here, because I think it’s so much more reflective of the situation.

          Phoenix Programmer: “I recommend saying toward the end of a 100 hour week I nodded off at my computer. The company policy is a weeks suspension with no pay or PTO allowed. My boss and his boss both wanted an exception for me because of (years of good reviews, excellent work on the tea pot project, etc.) and argued my case to their VP. In response the VP fired me and was explicit he would fire both bosses if they provided a reference.

          “Say it calmly and matter of fact.”

    18. ..Kat..*

      I’m so sorry. Please file for unemployment. Given the reason why you fell asleep, I think you have a chance of prevailing. Have you considered talking with an employment lawyer? IANAL. This just seems so outrageous.

    19. Observer*

      I have not read the responses yet, but you were lied to. You can most definitely file for unemployment. They don’t want you to because they don’t want their practices exposed. But that’s not your problem.

      Were you properly classified as an exempt employee? If not please send them a letter asking to get paid for ALL of the time you worked. If (or when) they refuse, go to the DOL. They are not going to like that. If you were classified as non-exempt it’s pretty straightforward, but if they classified you as exempt when you weren’t it’s going to be more complex. But if you can prove your case, or even have enough to get them interested in taking this on, your former employers are NOT going to be happy campers.

      1. Rocky*

        I don’t know the jurisdiction this happened in, but I agree the OP should get an employment lawyer involved. We had a manager who nodded off at her desk a few times and made some odd decisions. Rather than fire her (!) her manager encouraged her to see a doctor; turned out it was a fast-growing brain tumour. She’s now fine, after 8 months out of the office getting treated, and she’s on a graduated return to work. So all this is to say that falling asleep on the job isn’t usually a disciplinary issue!

  32. Kes*

    Based on things my manager has said, I’m hoping to be promoted early next year. However, I also feel underpaid at the moment and am concerned that if they base the raise on my current salary more so that the typical pay range for the new position, I may still end up underpaid after the promotion.

    I actually looked at leaving earlier this year, but cancelled the interviews after realizing I’d rather stay at my current job, since I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and it seemed disingenuous to continue the process just to get an offer to leverage for more pay if I didn’t expect to take the job. I’m now worried I may regret this.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this? Should I just wait and see what happens? I’m concerned that if I’m unhappy with the raise, my options will basically be to suck it up and hope for more raise next year, or leave for a better paying position (but I like a lot of things at my current job and would be happy to stay if possible). I don’t know if it’s even possible to change the raise after it’s given if I’m unhappy with it.

    1. Tara S.*

      Research! I’m also possibly getting a promotion, and I’m doing research right now about average pay for my position in the area. The promotion would come with a raise, but not as much as I’d like, so I’m hoping to use numbers to try and convince them. I would wait until they give you an official number before bringing it up, though.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I agree with Tara S. Do research and try to figure out what the going rate is for that type of position in that size of a company in that region. You don’t have to have a job offer in hand. Honestly, though, if you’re at the kind of place that will raise your salary after a promotion based only as a minor increase on your current salary, they’re likely to keep lowballing you in the future, too, with raises (or lack thereof). This is a good test, and if they undervalue you, there’s nothing to stop you from looking for a job even after the promotion.

      1. Kes*

        Thanks. They’re not actually that stingy, I did get a good raise last year, but I felt they lowballed me when I started – their offer was below what I asked for and my experience (think entry level pay when I have several years of experience – they refused to pay more and told me they were ‘taking a risk on me’). I accepted this because it was still more than my underpaid previous job and I thought I could prove myself through my work, which I think I have. I’m just worried they might give me a ‘reasonable’ promotion raise but I still might end up feeling underpaid overall, and this might be my best shot at recovering from the initial lower salary.
        I have talked to my manager about this in a general sense, though without any specifics. I may also be worrying over nothing. I think you’re both right and I should see how things go, but be prepared to try and discuss it if I’m unhappy.

        1. SansaStark*

          This story mimics what happened to me so much that I’m wondering if you’re typing this from an office 9 feet from me! My manager was unable to help as my negotiating was all done through HR, but I knew what that position was worth and HR eventually agreed. Your previous salary should not matter – what matters is the worth of the new job. I hope this all works out for you!

    3. SansaStark*

      Agree with the comments urging you to do research. This exact thing happened to me this year and they low-balled me so bad that I wouldn’t have taken the promotion. I calmly said that the number was much lower than what I had anticipated and let them know that I had done internal research with employees and lots of external research with similar positions. It was extremely nerve wracking, but I knew what the position was worth due to my research and felt as comfortable as I could be while HR “looked into” bumping up the salary offer by 9k. They did, btw, and 5-months into the new job I’m glad I held firm because this job is worth every penny of that raise.

      1. Kes*

        Thanks. This would be my first promotion so I’m not sure what to expect, but it’s good to hear that it could be negotiable and that you were able to do so successfully.

    4. BRR*

      Sort of overlapping with others, have the salary you want in mind and be prepared to proactively bring it up. Sometimes with internal promotions there doesn’t feel like the “right” time to talk salary and you might have to either ask what the pay will be or negotiate. I think it helps to have research ready to present that supports the number you’re giving them. Definitely don’t hope for more of a raise next year. You will more likely than not never get your salary to what it should be that way.

      I’d also recommend not trying use another offer as leverage. Alison’s article on why not to accept a counteroffer touches on some of it.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Find salary surveys for your current & potentially future positions. It’s dsurprising how specific they can be!

  33. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

    Found out that, in addition to being severely underpaid for what I do, we are not getting anything for Christmas from the company. No bonus, no lunch, not even a gift card.

    My parents just told me last night that they are getting me a shiny new computer for Christmas so I will be able to access the better job search sites…..

    Fingers crossed I find something better quickly and can save my house!!!!!

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        Thanks Muriel! Hoping for the first of the year. That would be the best case scenario….unless I could start somewhere this coming Monday morning! LOL…

    1. Kes*

      Haha, good on your parents. Good luck on your job search. Feel free to go ahead and treat yourself if your company won’t – even if it’s just something small like a few chocolates, it might help

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        Thanks Kes. My folks are the best. I’ve picked out the new computer, I think mom is going to order it this afternoon. We just got Mrs. See’s candies down here so I plan on buying myself a box of See’s Suckers. If you’ve never had See’s candies, I highly recommend trying it! Very tasty….

    2. Gumby*

      Does your company usually do holiday gifts? Because in my experience “not getting anything for Christmas” is the norm. The underpaid thing is enough of a reason to job search all on its own.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

        I don’t know, this is my first Christmas with them. But from what I can see, certain employees got bonuses last year and certain employees are being granted paid time off this year. (I don’t even get paid for national holidays so when we are closed the week between Christmas and New Years, I won’t get a check.) I have never worked for a company that didn’t *at least* do a lunch. Last year, I was doing customer service for the sheet-selling Scientologists and we got a Christmas party w/dinner (and an open bar…it was awesome!), lots of opportunities for bonuses as well as a set of $300 bamboo sheets. I really felt like I cleaned up….so this year is a bit of a disappointment.

        I had mentioned in last week’s open thread that I was back to work following my heart condition scare in July and had answered an ad for customer service/data entry, the interview told me they really wanted an account manager so I negotiated my salary based on those duties. Once I got in here, suddenly I’m doing high end graphics creation, creating their sales website….I haven’t done one iota of data entry and have never received training on the customer service aspect. So that kinda tweaks me out about my salary. Had I know I was going to be doing graphics creation and website development, I would have negotiated $5 more per hour.

        1. Woodswoman*

          So they misrepresented the job, are paying you too low for the extra duties you have, and are giving paid time off to other employees but not everyone. What exploitation.

          I’m so glad you have your parent there to help you out and that the new computer is on its way. I hope you find a great new job soon!

          1. Observer*

            Finding a better job is a better long term strategy. It’s not just about the immediate pay. You’re never going to do well with people who don’t play straight.

  34. SheetMaskSenora*

    Am I overstepping boundaries here in wanting to know when my boss will be in the office or work from home?

    My new boss (and new company) is really bad about communicating when they are unavailable or when they are working from home. It’s quite often that it’s not until 10am that I hear from them via chat or an email and I have to ask them if they are coming in today. Before that their status is unavailable or they don’t answer emails. So, I don’t know if they are off that day or just planning on working from home. So far (knock on wood) there hasn’t been any workflow bottlenecks, but it’s irritating to me that my boss is flighty about their presence/availability. I want to say something to them about this, but I’m worried I’m overstepping boundaries here.

    1. Tara S.*

      If you can point to how this is affecting workflow, I don’t think there would be anything wrong with having a conversation about it. You can explain how the uncertainty makes things difficult, and ask if there is a way their in-office/out-of-office status could be communicated. They may have an idea, or you could suggest something, but I think framing the issue by talking about how it’s affecting the work (rather than just being annoying) will be important.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Do you need your boss to be physically present to get things done? It sounds like you may not. Meaning, if you email your boss about something and they’re not in the office, do you get a timely response? Basically, look at the line between presence and availability. If your boss is simply not present, then don’t push the issue. If your boss is not available and you need your boss to respond to you, that’s a different matter.

      My boss blocks his calendar pretty well, but sometimes he’s just not here in the office, and that’s ok because if I need something immediately, I can call. On the other hand, I used to have a supervisor who never told me when she would be in and she never answered emails until she was in the office, so that caused a problem. If your situation is more like the former, I’d say let it lie. If it’s more like the latter, then speak to your boss about the schedule and ask what you should do if your boss isn’t in the office and you need an answer immediately.

    3. SheetMaskSenora*

      It’s more of a they don’t respond until they are physically in the office or “online” from home. And there’s never any indication from them when they will be online, so simple questions you would just ask in-person I sit on it until they are available. I’m thinking I should just send them an email, but I feel weird sending an email asking, “Where’s the stapler?” For more important questions, I do an email if they aren’t their in person, but it’s just annoying to come in that morning wondering if the question will get answered before the end of the day or the following one.

      I’m going to go with the framing that you Tara S. & AvonLady Barksdale recommend and ask them how they prefer me to reach them.

      1. LHRBee*

        I think it’s weird that you think your boss owes you his/her schedule. I assume your boss is mich busier and spread across more tasks than you-and that means they get a greater level of flexibility.

        I’d be very put off if one of my team members asked me to provide them my weekly schedule; if I’m working 70 hours a week and spread across 5 teams, and they’re working 45 on a single team, and I’m many levels above them, I certainly don’t owe them my avail on a daily basis.

        Unless you’re literally running into issues that prevent you from doing your work, let it lie. And ask a peer where the stapler is-that’s not a question for your boss.

  35. ExtraExtraAnon*

    My problematic coworker asked our only black coworker if it hurt her to straighten her hair (mine and several other womens hair in the office are curly and we often come in with it straightened, but have never been asked this question). And yesterday told our only asian coworker to “open her eyes, oh wait” when she asked if he knew how to adjust the monitor screen resolution.

    I just needed to share what I’m dealing with right now guys….

    1. LizB*

      Gross. If you have a good HR department, they may want to know about the comment to your asian coworker. Possibly the comment to your black coworker as well, but that one may have a little too much plausible deniability — although paired with the other comment, maybe they’ll pay attention to it as well (as they should).

      1. ExtraExtraAnon*

        they have made inappropriate comments to me before in the past, but when i reported it to HR it was a lot more misery and stress on my part than anything else. I’m not sure what my coworkers want to do so far as reporting to HR but they know they have my support.

        1. valentine*

          You can still report them, and to your and their supervisor(s) as well. Create a reputation as someone who doesn’t tolerate racism. What if you just say, “That’s racist” every time?

        2. Observer*

          Send an FYI email to your supervisor, CC HR and bcc yourself. Even if it’s not the “official” channel for complaints it sets up a situation where the employer can’t claim they didn’t know about the problem. And that gets useful when someone finally goes to the DOL / EEOC.

      1. ExtraExtraAnon*

        the asian coworker immediately told them that was racist and i backed them up that it was absolutely not appropriate to say. Offender insisted they didn’t mean it in a racist way and therefore it was not. we both told Offender that didn’t matter and that it was. they locked themself in their office for the rest of the day.

      1. ExtraExtraAnon*

        yes, right away we both called them out but they insist that their intentions weren’t racist and so what they said was absolutely fine. then hid from us for the rest of the day.

        1. LibbyG*

          White fragility in action!

          I’m glad people have their legs under them to speak up in the moment. I hope it makes a difference.

    2. Holly*

      I would definitely report this to HR – if you’re uncomfortable doing that at the moment, I’d write an e-mail to yourself (and cc your personal email) noting the date, what she said, and witnesses, so that if you ever need it or if someone else wants to report you can back them up.

    3. froodle*

      My jaw dropped so fast it actually clicked!! Open your eyes oh wait?! Jeeeebus. Sorry you and.your poor coworkers gotta deal with that mess.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      That sucks! You shouldn’t have to deal with that, and neither should your coworkers.

      Document time, date and comments, even if it’s only in a note to yourself.

      1. ExtraExtraAnon*

        when i mentioned the hair straightening question they exclaimed that they didn’t know if it did. So i asked if hair had nerve endings? did it hurt to cut it? no. This person really prides themselves in being smart(er than everyone else).

  36. LizB*

    Managers of part-time employees, help! I’m scheduling my part-time employees for the next schedule period (starting in January). I asked for their availability, and gave them two weeks to get me that info. One of my employees, Alice, let me know that she still didn’t know her college schedule and wouldn’t be able to get me her availability by the deadline. I told her that if I didn’t have her availability, I wouldn’t be able to schedule her for regular shifts.

    A week after the deadline, I contacted Alice saying I was almost ready to publish the schedule and if she had any ideas about her availability, now was the time to tell me. She didn’t respond to the email. I published the schedule two days later, without Alice on it.

    A few days later, Alice emailed saying she now had her schedule and could work shifts X, Y, and Z. I’ve already scheduled people for those shifts, and people who have significantly more seniority than Alice. Is it okay for me to get back to her and say “I can’t give you any of those shifts, this is what I have open, if you can’t work those then you can be a sub”? I feel bad essentially leaving her off the schedule because I know she wants to work, but I couldn’t delay my scheduling for one person.

    1. Four lights*

      Overall, I think you did the best you could, if there was no way to delay it I don’t know what else you could have done. I’m surprised she couldn’t at least tell she’d be free on Saturday or something. How long is the schedule period for? If it’s longer than two weeks, then I might try to change things for her.

      1. LizB*

        Right now I only have January published, but there isn’t a lot of shuffling I can do for February. I reached out to see if she’d be available for Shift Q, since X Y and Z are full, so if she is I can move some folks around without causing them inconvenience. But I think she’ll just have to sub for January.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      I think you did what you could. You gave her more than one heads up. She’s asking just in case, but it’s fine to tell her that you had to have the schedule set when you said you did, and that she can serve as the first level back up for anybody looking to have shifts covered, until the next time you set the schedule. This is just something that happens when you employ college students, and usually you and they can handle this without hard feelings. She might be a better fit for a job that doesn’t have a set schedule published so far in advance, but that’s not your fault.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      A store manager I know deals with this all the time. If the employee is a super performer, then it would make sense to try to accommodate. But only if it’s far enough in advance that you can switch the other employees’ shifts without inconveniencing them or taking work hours away that you’ve promised.

      Otherwise, I’d tell Alice that the schedule is set and you’re not willing to change it.

    4. Former Retail Manager*

      Ahhh….the retail memories…..This happened to me on more than one occasion. I think you’ve done the best you can. The easiest solution is to tell her to contact the other employees who are scheduled for the shifts she is available for and offer to take their shifts. It was a rare occasion that an employee couldn’t pick up at least a few shifts this way. If no one is willing to give her their shifts, then it is what it is. Also, random, but unless she is attending a non-traditional educational institution, she should have been registered for classes and had her schedule in time to provide it if the other students already had their schedules. Not really your issue, but if it were me, I’d ask her why she didn’t have her schedule to determine if there is a legit reason or if she is just disorganized.

  37. ThatGirl*

    I’m in such a weird spot at work right now. I’m not in charge of anyone, but our team lead and both of my coworkers are new (like, since August) and I end up having to do the bulk of the training. I also have to tell the new team lead how my coworkers are doing, performance wise, and try to correct any major issues (we’re in customer-facing roles). It’s so awkward for me! It’s also not what I thought I would be doing in this role – I’ve only been here 18 months. I need to have a serious talk with my team lead at review time. Oy.

    1. ReadyToGo*

      Would you be willing to continue doing the work if you were promoted to a more senior position? Or are you not interested in those kinds of responsibilities?

      1. ThatGirl*

        I wouldn’t mind if I had some actual authority and less of the grunt work. I’d really like to do more of my actual job. And I wish the team lead was doing more of what the old one did, day to day. She does agree that my talents are being wasted, at least.

  38. Doug Judy*

    My husband is starting a new job in a new feild Monday. He’s worked construction for many years but it’s becoming too hard after multiple knee and neck surgeries to continue. He finally has faced reality and for a job in manufacturing.

    He’s depressed. The pay starting out is low but I’m trying to get him to see the positives. It’s much less physically demanding. He won’t have to work out in the elements. It’s stable work. The company has amazing benefits. He’s got an incredible work ethic and I think he’ll move up quickly.

    Does anyone have experience changing to a job they weren’t super thrilled about going into it but it turned out to be a great decision?

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      My dad went from driving a truck to management. He was an overnight delivery driver for 30 years before moving into a day job. The difference was shocking to him, although my sister and I tried to warn him that day people are different than night people. He’s now in more of a liaison role between the drivers and the warehouse, which allows him to be not in an office but also not driving so I think he’s enjoying that more. He does like being around more during the evenings/afternoons and it’s way less physical so all positives. My best advice is to remember it will take time to adjust to such a big transition, but continuing to focus on the positives is good (although still acknowledging the difficulties) is a good way to support.

    2. Tara S.*

      Congrats to your husband! My uncle made that transition after working construction and it’s been great in a lot of ways. It think it’s normal to be sad/worried about starting a new job, especially when it’s in a new field and for lower pay! I’m almost always in that mode when starting a new job, even when it’s in my same field. You know him best, but I would try not to pressure him to feel 100% about it right away. New jobs are always stressful, and a transition period is super normal. If he’s still depressed about the change after a few months, then you could circle back around to the positives you mentioned. In the mean time, I think the best thing to be supportive is to just acknowledge that the transition is hard. No buts. No “but it’s going to be so much better in the long run.” He probably just needs some time to adjust. Best of luck!

      1. Doug Judy*

        Good point. I’m trying to be enthusiastic about it so he feels better but I’ll back off a bit. It’s actually in the plant of a company I used to worked 8 years for and they treat their employees very well.

        He’s basically Ron Swanson, so any change is hard for him at first.

    3. School Inclusion Specialist*

      I think the best thing you can do right now is to validate that the situation is really hard and listen when he explain why he’s feeling down. You can work together to problem solve those concerns if he’s open to it, but trying to get him to see the positives without acknowledging the challenges, in my experience, leads to the person shutting down and refusing to talk. As long as he gets up and goes to work Monday, it’s a win. He may sit in his feelings of sadness for a while. If they go on for more than a few weeks, he may need help from a doctor. He can acknowledge it is a new win and still feel sad. After I left a job I had for almost decade that was my “dream job”, the very act of leaving felt like a failure even though I knew it was the right thing to do. It has taken me years (and several job changes/some therapy) to fully own that it wasn’t a failure to leave and it was a good thing.

      That said, I had a family member who worked in manufacturing, was laid off, and had to take a job on the night shift at the new place even after decades of experience. He’s pretty stoic, so he didn’t talk about it much, but I could tell he wasn’t excited. But he has found he really likes the lifestyle change. But the things he liked about it weren’t things he thought he would like about it before he started. It wasn’t till he was in it that he could see things he really liked about it.

      1. Anna Held*

        This is great advice.

        If it’ll help, though, do some math on how much you’re saving with those great benefits. A lot of people look at salary, not the overall package. If you can say things like “with the savings from X, we can still do a week at the lake” or whatever, it might help reframe it for him.

    4. ..Kat..*

      I think he is mourning the loss of a job/profession that he liked. Plus, coworkers and a routine that he liked and was familiar with. He is probably also mourning the loss of a young, strong, healthy body. And, men commonly value themselves based on what they earn. And finally, it is hard to start over at the bottom.

  39. Labradoodle Daddy*

    I need advice, AAM-ers.

    I discovered yesterday morning that my difficult, rude coworker who cannot write legibly (who I’ve written about on this board before) filed a frivolous wrongful termination suit against a former employer after she was fired. The suit was thrown out because ” (1) her attitude, (2) her “[u]n-professional communications with [her] manager and [c]o-workers,” and (3) her “[p]oor quality of written communications.” — complaints the entire reception training team has made to my manager for 8 weeks now since this problem employee’s first day. We’ve had bad hires in the past and I’ve brought up to management that their hiring process is not at all thorough. To make me *really* feel like Cassandra, this was the third result that popped up on Google when I searched my colleague’s name + New York. I work for a contractor company that staffs the reception team at a multinational hedge fund in NYC. My crappy company’s contract is in the process of being renewed, and everyone knows there is a very good chance that it won’t be renewed. I loathe the contractor company, they are thoroughly incompetent.

    What should I do, AAM? Should I bring this to the attention of the NY facilities contact, who has a say in the contracts? I won’t tell anyone at the crappy contractor company, obviously, as this isn’t even close to the first time that they’ve proven themselves to be shady and incompetent. Would it reflect badly on me if I whistleblew? *Is* this whistleblowing? Any advice would be appreciated, as I haven’t the faintest idea what to do.

    1. Holly*

      So, I totally understand your concern, but I’m a little confused about the action you want to take. My understanding is that you work for the company that staffs a hedge fund. Who is the “NY facilities contact” – is that part of your company, or a third party that signs off on the contract between your company and the hedge fund?

      It’s not clear what your role at the staffing company is, but I think it would be wildly inappropriate and put you at serious risk (legal, financially) if you made any sort of call to try and undermine your own company’s contract. And while I can’t provide legal advice, no whistleblower law I can think of would protect you for this, because the conduct isn’t illegal, you’re just concerned that they are not doing a good job. This would be something to share internally with your manager or whatever avenue there might be, if any, for internal concerns.

      Also, you keep referring to your company as “crappy” – I think it’s time to start looking for a new job if you feel like it’s so crappy and you’re not in a position of power to change anything.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        The facilities contact is the woman employed by the hedge fund who helps decide which contracting companies the hedge fund will use: caterers, cleaning, admin staff, etc.

        I think part of my concern is that contractor company goes out of its way to hide its massive screwups from hedge fund in order to keep the contract (other things they’ve done: threaten my job after I had a miscarriage and had too many doctors appointments afterwards, threatened the job of a new mother whose premature baby kept having the gall to have breathing abilities, covered up for a retaliation-prone manager so hedge fund wouldn’t find out, covered up accusations of sexual harassment so the hedge fund wouldn’t find out [the classic ‘we’ve investigated ourselves and have decided we did nothing wrong” move, with the tiny hiccup that they never bothered to interview either woman who alleged the claims of harassment).

        So yeah… hope that gives more context?

        1. Holly*

          Thank you for explaining some more background – I’m sorry you have to go through this! I’d consider your legal options and do research about potentially reporting to EEOC or state agency depending on the state – *that* would be protected activity – and presumably a company contracting your company could do their own due diligence to find out that this is going on, especially after a complaint is filed. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the hedge fund, they can do their own due diligence in who they contract with, my concern would be making sure you’re protected and safely reporting the wrongdoing of your workplace to improve conditions for yourself and the other employees there.

      2. Confused*

        The way this is written is so confusing. I just read this 3 times and can figure out what on earth is going on. Who is Cassandra? What does the google search show? Other things make no sense. Please reread what you have written cause I can’t be the only one totally confused here.

        1. Labradoodle Daddy*

          Cassandra is a reference to the myth– gifted with prophecy, cursed so that no one would ever believe her.

          I googled her name out of curiosity on the train ride home after she’d told me during that day that she had been let go from her last job (which didn’t surprise me, based on her conduct in her time with us).

        2. Labradoodle Daddy*

          Oh, and what I meant by the Google search comment was that this information wasn’t difficult to find, I found it without really meaning to, which (to my thinking) proves my theory that my manager is not even doing the most basic level of due diligence before hiring people for our team (ie– making sure they can write legibly, calling past employers to see how they interacted with coworkers/management, etc).

        3. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

          Cassandra is the prophetess from the Iliad cursed to utter true prophecies that no one would believe. Use of the name like this refers to being someone who can see the bad shit coming who no one will listen to

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      I don’t think it rises to the level of whistle-blowing, that’s usually a reference to calling out illegal activities. Alerting EEOC / labor board to their illegal actions around your miscarriage / the new mom, that would be whistle blowing.

      Think about what you would want to get, and whether this would make that happen.
      – Do you want the NY facilities manager to use this to force your company to hire better? That’s not going to happen. The NY company isn’t going to get into that much detail in how your company works.
      – Do you want the NY facilities mgr to require difficult co-worker be fired? The google search isn’t going to make that happen either – they’ve seen the same work level from co-irker, they know it’s bad, they’ll either react or not based on the current work.
      – Do you want NY facilities mgr to end the contract with your company? (Serious question, there could be plusses / reasons for you to want that). That’s the most likely outcome.
      – Do you want to try to leverage it into a job with the hedge fund? That’s unlikely, bcs they’re contracting this stuff out.

      I am *not* saying don’t do it – I am saying that it’s most likely going to either be ignored or used as one item in terminating the contract. (I am in a vaguely similar position to the facilities manager – I monitor an external contract for services. We Do Not have anything to do with their hiring decisions or process. We do note specific problems and request they be fixed.)

      Your company is more likely to pay attention to it, if you can put it as a business risk: ‘Manager hired co irker when a basic check shows this huge problem. Co irker continues to have the same problem, which may be putting the contract with NY Hedge Fund at risk.’

      But as bad as they sound, they’re more likely to retaliate against you. And since this is not about illegal activities, I *think* you wouldn’t be protected under whistle-blowing laws.

      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I really appreciate you laying out these steps for me, I had vague ideas about how this might play out that you articulated way better than I could. I know facilities manager isn’t happy with what contractor company has been giving her: namely, endless drama, a turnover rate over 100%, and incompetent admins that in turn piss off RAs and EAs, who complain to facilities manager. It’s a nightmare over here, tbh. Part of the issue is that facilities manager isn’t willing to pay for the quality of employee she needs to stock this team.

      2. Labradoodle Daddy*

        (another issue is that our title is deliberately downplayed and thus doesn’t encompass the scope of our abilities, so “receptionist” is frankly kind of a misnomer…)

  40. AnonyMouse*

    So I posted about this last week, but was too late to get a response. I’m struggling with waiting to hear back after an interview around the holidays. I interviewed for a position two weeks ago and when I asked for the estimated timeline, I was told I’d hear back in late December (probably sometime next week). I still haven’t heard anything, and my references have not been requested yet. My worry is that I work in higher education, and so I know that this institution will be closing around December 24th/25th and they won’t be reopening until January 2nd. The estimated start time that I was given was between January 2nd-9th. I feel like at this point, I either didn’t get it or they are adjusting their timeline (they told me that they still had interviews the week after I was interviewed, I’m not sure about this week. I do know someone who works at this institution who told me that this was a busy week particularly for that office i.e. finals, commencement, new winter admits going through orientation, etc). I’m wondering about how I should handle follow up? Is now an appropriate time to follow up or should I wait? I’m also particularly wondering how I should ask if their timeline has been revised. Below is a rough script that I’d use:

    “Hello Janet:

    I just wanted to follow up with you regarding the __________________ position that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. When I spoke to Michael about the hiring timeline, he told me that you would be looking to move forward with your chosen candidates by the end of the month, with an anticipated start date between January 2nd-9th. I am still very interested in the position, and just wanted to know if you have any updates at this point in the process. I am happy to provide more information at this time if that would be helpful!

    Eleanor Shellstrop”

    I just want to make sure that this doesn’t come across too pushy (also any advice on how to make it more conversational would be great! I built this based off of one of Alison’s scripts). My tentative plan is to wait until Monday to send if I don’t hear back today (so that I’m reaching out after two weeks from my interview date).

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      I don’t think the email is too pushy, and that Monday sounds like a good day to send it. It’s entirely possible that they got caught up in their own end of the semester shenanigans that they haven’t had time to get the committee together/review their notes/talk to HR/etc.

    2. Doug Judy*

      Just want to say +100 on the names. Good luck. I’m also job hunting and have had a few interviews but yeah this time of year is just notoriously bad for job searching. I wouldn’t email as they already said late December.

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      If you’re reiterating the timeline you were told, I would add a softener after that bit like “Knowing that timelines frequently change, especially around the holidays, I wanted to confirm that was still accurate.” Otherwise it kind of sounds like you’re telling her the timeline because you think she doesn’t know it or are impatient. I’d also pull out a couple of your “justs”, which is just a general work email tip I’ve found super useful. They come across as softening in an apologetic way, and are typically used by women. Being a woman myself, I try to share that tip as often as possible. So:

      I wanted to reach out regarding the __________________ position that I interviewed for a few weeks ago. When I spoke to Michael about the hiring timeline at that point, he told me that you would be looking to move forward with your chosen candidates by the end of the month, with an anticipated start date between January 2nd-9th. Knowing that timelines frequently change, especially around the holidays, I wanted to confirm that was still accurate. I am still very interested in the position, and would be interested in any updates you’re able to give at this point in the process. I am happy to provide more information at this time if that would be helpful!

      1. AnonyMouse*

        Thank you for the edits! I’ve never thought about how often I use the word “just,” so I’m going to try to be mindful of that in general (it will probably help with work emails too!). I was going based off of Alison’s advice on follow up emails to keep it short, but you bring up a good point about how the timeline language could get misconstrued. My intent was to make sure I was correct, but I like how you softened it!

        1. The Ginger Ginger*

          I still have to go back and edit emails to not include “just” – I’m just following up… I just wanted to know… I just need a quick touchbase…It is SO INGRAINED, and I’ve been trying to cut back on it for months! I also try to limit “I want” or “I wanted” or “I’d like to” for the same reason, but as you can see from my edits, it’s SO HARD. It feels way too firm when I write that way, but when I pay attention to the way my male colleagues write emails, they aren’t using that kind of phrasing nearly as often, so I do my best. I do think in some cases “I want” is appropriately soft – like in your email above. But if I’m sending my dev team a request or instructions, there’s no reason for me to phrase it like that, even though I want to.

  41. New Author*

    As of this month I have a real book deal so I need to start taking my writing professionally. I’m struggling because it’s not really a job – the pay is so little compared to the effort the publishing company wants from me, both in terms of revisions and in terms of marketing. I also have a horror of social media and selling stuff, so I need to find a way that I can live with of tackling this. This is all kind of “in my spare time” right now since obviously my actual job is what pays my bills, not this new side gig. Of course I’d love to someday be a FT writer, but that seems like such a pipe dream – I believe even professional writers make more money from workshops/classes/conferences/consulting etc than from actually selling books. Any advice from other authors?

    1. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’m not an author myself, but as an avid reader, I’ve read a lot of author blogs, and I would recommend you do that if you don’t. A lot of them (especially indies, or those who work with smaller publishers) talk about self-promotion, which platforms they use and why, pitfalls, etc. Plus a lot of other stuff you might find really useful. So maybe if you google around for blogs by authors you admire, authors who are maybe a step or two ahead of you in their career in your genre/niche, other authors at your publisher, etc, you may find something that can give you some guidance. I know you said you don’t like social media, but there are author support groups out there too (especially on FB). Finding a good one of those might be a nice way to get your feet wet in social while also finding people who can help you through the process a bit.

    2. Arts assistant*

      Not an author but I did work in publishing. I’m not sure what kind of book you are writing but I worked in literary publishing and almost every single writer made their living as a professor or teacher and did the bulk of their writing and revising over school breaks. I would recommend applying for artistic grants and fellowships if you’re eligible – again depends on what you’re writing.

      1. New Author*

        Oh, I expect I’ll just stay in my day job / current field until I retire. I’m pretty sure cushy white collar office job with benefits is better than trying to cobble other things together, if there’s no path where I can make a living writing full time. It seems like one or two writers in a generation (like, literally JK Rowling) get to do that.

    3. Tisme*


      I’m not published, after years of trying to wrangle artists I’m converting my stuff from comic / graphic novels to novel format. It’s slow going thanks to a mix of chronic illness and dyslexia, thinking in more ‘disjointed’ thoughts for comics works better with my brain. [ends tangent]

      I second looking at the sites of authors who’s work you like etc.

      Also if you have trusted family / friends who use Facebook etc., and are happy to rope them in to help you get set up, that should help. I.e for Facebook, you’d want a ‘page’ not a personal account. This helps you manage it better and keep one step ‘back’, its what actors etc. on there use. I’ve not used any of the other formats (& no longer use FB – if I ever get to your position I’ll have to get over my own preference to no longer be on social media.), to know if they allow for a similar type of distance, hence asking those you trust for help with them. I find that asking questions of a user of a site is easier than going through instructions.

      It might help to start off with just one form of social media, get confident with that, then add in others over time.

      A website is also very helpful. I like to check them out for updates on upcoming books and also if I’ve just found a writer, to discover what books I need to locate.

      Idea, might not be any good (actual authors, please chime in), but reading groups who post on places like Goodreads, might help to get your books ‘out there’. Some seem to post their reviews in a few places, so might help you out that way.

      I’m kind of surprised that publisher’s don’t have a basic ‘to do’ list (or what I’d term it for me an ‘idiots guide’) to help out new authors with this sort of thing.

      Won’t make you money, but offering a first book free on amazon, might get you reviewed there. (I love free books, but tend not to review books, never been good at it, only twice have I posted when it was a book I hated, and was bought books.) — You can also put author blurb up there as well.

      Oh I use Fantasticfiction website to find information on authors. I’m sure I’ve seen some of the author pages where they link authors they like. I have no clue how this stuff works, but maybe that’d help people find your books? It’s also just a basic author blurb and list of books written / books due to come out. Not everyone has a photo up either, so nice for those who don’t want to do that!

      If you’re not going to use a full pen name, maybe consider just using initials? That might make being on social media work better since you’ll be in your ‘author persona’ and can shrug that off when you want to go back to being ‘you.’ Maybe think of that side of it as voicing another character?

      You can do this, you’ve done the tougher parts, written the book and hooked a publisher.

    4. Frea*

      Hey! I’m in this situation myself (or have been; I’m a couple years in) where the publishing company wanted me to do the bulk of the revisions/marketing. And the pay is peanuts compared to the stable checks and benefits I get at my dayjob. In the beginning it’s overwhelming to be faced with all of the obligations and it feels like you need to do EVERYTHING at once, but that’s really not the case. It helped me to think of my social media obligations as a persona/separate identity so that I could get through the marketing side of things (networking, hanging out with other authors). I had to learn balance (offering pics of my bearded dragon in a hat as a reward for all of my followers putting up with a string of promo tweets, for example), but the most valuable thing to me was building a network of other authors.

      Seconding The Ginger Ginger about reading blogs from indie self-pubbers, but also go into those knowing some of those people are very intense and analytical and it can stress you out even more. The most important thing is to remind yourself that you don’t have to do this all at once. Take a breath, smell the roses. You’re getting published.

      And most of all, congrats! It’s a dream come true and the first scary step into a new world. I like to joke to my friends that I finally achieved my lifelong dream—and the biggest thing it’s given me is a need to take anxiety meds. They…don’t seem to find it as darkly funny as I do.

    5. Youth*

      That’s so great! I haven’t gotten to that point yet (still agent-searching), but I also hate selling things and feel awkward about pushing things on social media.

      Knowing that, one thing I’ve been doing is posting other things I’ve written (blog posts, articles) to my Facebook and sometimes Twitter. If my old blog’s analytics show true, about 5-10% of my Facebook friends regularly click to read something I’ve written. My hope is that once I have an actual novel to sell, it will come across less as “I’m-trying-to-sell-you-something” and more as “y’all-seem-to-like-my-writing-so-good-news-here’s-more-stuff-for-you.”

      1. Tisme*

        Good luck on the agent finding!

        I’m not there yet, but I want to cheer lead for those of you who are at that step or further along. — Also imagine me waving pom poms like mad for others at my stage, or steps back… you can do this, go everyone!

        (Why yes the pain and it being after 11pm & my not sleeping well lately, is making me a bit loopy… so apologies if a bit too ‘rah-rah-yay’ in my replies.)

    6. Lore*

      I work for one of the big publishers and we have a ton of resources for authors including a monthly newsletter with social media and marketing tips. Ask your editor/marketing person/publicist what resources they have. They want you to be good at this!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look around for writing groups in your region, especially any that focus on your genre.
      For example RWA, Romance Writers of America, or SFWA, Science Fiction Writers of America, both of which have local chapters and national gatherings.

      1. jolene*

        I’m a professional author and have supported myself writing books for 20 years. I strongly, strongly advise against giving up the day job! Publishing is getting worse and worse about exploiting authors. I also advise equally strongly against spending a lot of time on social media because the publisher wants you to “do marketing”. I have friends with huge social media followings and that does *not* translate into high numbers of books sold.

        Joining the relevant writers’ group – RNA, Mystery Writers of America/CWA etc etc is great advice – see if your publisher will send you to the conferences. Great for networking/making friends/getting blurbs.

        As far as “revisions” go, though – you mean edits, right – yup, they give you notes and you do the edits. That’s part of your job, not theirs.

  42. Teapot librarian*

    New boss starts Monday! I’ve been working on a memo for her for the last week. I’m trying to include everything while highlighting the priorities, but of course, everything is a priority. I don’t really want Monday to be “congratulations! Let me tell you the mess you’ve gotten yourself into!” but there are a lot of things that my soon-to-be-previous boss didn’t take care of. And then there’s the question of what to do/how to deal with my Hoarder Employee. I’m hoping new boss will be supportive!

    1. GigglyPuff*

      *Support*–library adjacent field and we’ve had some new people start in my section and one more on the way, and I’m trying so hard to check my cynicism, and not to warn them how demoralizing and soul-crushing the place can be.

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I’m sorry your workplace is demoralizing and soul-crushing! My library-adjacent workplace (I’m the director) reports to a larger, non-library-adjacent organization, so there’s an element of educating my new boss what we do and how it can’t just be done more quickly.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Personally, I wouldn’t bring up something like a problem employee on a new bosses very first day. They’re going to be filling out paperwork and trying to remember everybody’s name. I don’t want to come across as if I’ve been waiting to fire this person and am gleeful to do it at the first opportunity. I’d schedule a debrief for the end of their first week or their second week with a title like “status updates” and give them a sense of everything that’s in flux, letting them decide which ones they’re ready to dig in on right away. But perhaps others disagree?

      1. Teapot librarian*

        I should have put those two things in separate paragraphs. I do want new boss to be aware of the issues that I have with Hoarder Employee because they play into some of the higher priority issues for my office, but I meant to refer to the question of how to deal with him as a separate subject from the new boss.

  43. MsChanandlerBong*

    If you had to fire someone, would you do it now, or would you wait until after Christmas? This person didn’t do anything illegal or unethical that would warrant immediate dismissal. He’s a freelancer, so there are no considerations regarding retirement contributions, health insurance, or other benefits. The guy just isn’t a good fit for our culture, and he has violated our policies several times within the past few weeks (claiming assignments, holding them for several days, and then telling us the day they’re due to the client that he can’t/doesn’t want to do them, which leaves us scrambling to find someone else to do them quickly). I was thinking since he didn’t do anything super egregious that we should wait until around January 5 to let him go. What do you think?

    1. Jen*

      I would do it now, so he can be better prepared. People can spend a lot of money at Christmas and warning him may help him prep better.

    2. HRlady*

      I don’t typically discipline or fire anyone before the holidays, especially Christmas time. I may make an exception depending on the nature of the issue, but typically I avoid it.

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      Ideally you’d have given him some kind of feedback before now that things aren’t looking great for him, so he’s not completely taken by surprise, and then if it were me I’d wait drop to the axe in the new year. I probably wouldn’t bring it up for the first time right before the holidays though, either.

    4. Susan*

      I’d say not notifying that you can do work until the day it is due is pretty egregious, IMHO; it’s a baseline expectation.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        And it sounds like it’s escalating, since this happened multiple times in the past few weeks. Let him go now, it’s not worth waiting and dealing with additional last-minute cancellations.

    5. Not All*

      Because this time of year people have a tendency to spend quite a bit of discretionary money, I would definitely give him a heads up as quickly as possible that it isn’t looking good for retention.

      My (now ex) husband was laid off the week after Christmas one year…I’m sure they meant to be kind by waiting but it meant we had spent a lot of money on gifts that we would not have even considered if we would have known it was in the works. It made an already challenging financial situation MUCH worse.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        I agree with “Not All”. Fire him now. It gives him a chance to change his spending and activities over the holidays.

    6. Someone Else*

      This claiming assignments, holding them for several days, and then telling us the day they’re due to the client that he can’t/doesn’t want to do them, which leaves us scrambling to find someone else to do them quickly to me is egregious enough to fire him right now.

    7. Observer*

      I’m going to agree that what you describe IS egregious. He’s directly harmed the quality of the work you provide and put client relationships at risk.

      If there is work for him to do, I’d day tell him NOW that 1/4 is going to be his last day. This way he gets a heads up and a buffer, but doesn’t wind up spending money on the assumption that he actually has a job.

  44. Janet Snakehole*

    This past Tuesday I had a final-round interview for an organization I’ve long been interested in working for. It was my second time getting to the final round for a job there. I really thought that this time, I presented myself well and stood a decent chance of getting the position. HR told me they’d be making a decision by Wednesday (ie very quickly) – it’s now Friday and I’ve heard nothing so I assume I didn’t get it.

    I’m better now than I was on Wednesday (when I checked my phone anxiously every 30 seconds), but still really bummed. The job would’ve paid way more than my current one, had better hours, and more interesting work. It’s just tough to come back to my current job (which is fine, but not great) and know I was so close to being able to leave. As this is far from the first great job I’ve interviewed for but not gotten, it often feels like I’m destined to never get a position I’m truly excited about. Anyone else ever feel this way?

    1. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon*

      Yes, definitely! I am actually in this boat right now, waiting to hear back about a position I interviewed for last week and assuming I wasn’t selected . I always try to have low expectations in a job search, but then I tend to get a pretty high number of interviews relative to the job applications I send out, so I start to get optimistic…and it pretty much ends in disappointment. I know this is a normal part of the process, and I do have an ok job now, but I definitely fear that I’ll never get a job i’m actually excited about.

    2. Funny Cide*

      Right after college graduation, I was struggling to find a place in my field that I wouldn’t be miserable in. I was offered a job that I thought would be acceptable in an unrelated field. Thanks to a connection at my part-time job until I found a permanent position, i had a perfect lead and an in with the hiring manager for something I was finally SO excited about – but the position wouldn’t have even posted for several more months, then adding a slow-moving company on hiring decisions, and would have involved a cross country move. So, I took the acceptable position and it actually became a true blessing, but I’ve always wondered where I’d be in life if the other one had worked out – since it was what I had really actually wanted to do.

      1. Janet Snakehole*

        Thanks, Funny Cide and Dr. Vanessa Poseidon. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Part of the reason I feel this way is because I never actually HAVE gotten a job I was genuinely excited about – after several months of job searching after graduating college, I finally took my current position (in spite of many reservations) basically because they were the only one offering. It’s turned out to be better than I initially feared, but still not a super great fit for me. I know job searching takes a long time, but I was hopeful because I actually had real work experience on my resume this time around. Ah well. I keep telling myself that there’s something even better around the corner…hopefully one day that’ll actually be true!

    3. away from the elevator please*

      Yes! I am in exactly that position now. I am one of 3 candidates for a job I REALLY REALLY want, and thought I would hear yesterday. This job would be a huge pay increase, better hours, and a better work culture. I too was checking my phone every 30 seconds yesterday until I had to limit myself down to every 30 minutes. When the end of the work day rolled around, I was definitely disappointed and now am steeling myself for hearing I didn’t get it.

      This would be a “good job” – something I’ve never had. I’ve always worked for small companies in creative fields where the pay has been ok, but not great, and the benefits similar. This job is for university and it all would be so….awesome. Even a pension!

      I will still send out positive energy for you – you never know, it might just be taking a little longer that they expected!

  45. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

    I know too much about my least favorite coworker, too, too much. She does everything on speakerphone and most of what she does all day is not work related. I know about her cheating in school, her attempts at scammy house flipping, her married boyfriend, her ex husband who lives in her house, her son with a warrant, her poor daughter from whom she is always taking money from and trying to get to skip work, her ovaries, her attempts to find a doctor who will do bariatric surgery because she keeps getting turned down….

    All of this despite high end noise cancelling headphones since I can’t keep them on all day and numerous people, including me and our boss telling her to take it outside. Please, please, please, HR wheels! Turn faster

    1. Gumby*

      At some point I would be tempted to chime in on these speakerphone conversations. *She’s* the one making them communal discussions, you can’t be blamed for participating…

  46. What now?*

    Feeling super discouraged today. Heard from a job I really wanted saying that they were prepared to make me an offer…until an internal candidate threw their name in at the last minute. Needless to say, I got lots of compliments, but no offer.

    We moved for my husband’s work, so I settled for my current job (now 3+ years) because we needed the income. This is the third time in recent days that I’ve been a finalist for a job that seemed closer to my training/experience/career goals. There aren’t many jobs in my immediate area, so I’m feeling really stuck. Any ideas on how to keep up the momentum in job searches after disappointment?

    1. Four lights*

      Don’t be afraid to take a break to get away from the mental stress, then start fresh a few weeks later.

      1. Funny Cide*

        I just really wanted to second this. You won’t be putting your best foot forward if your mind is focused on the discouraging moments.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Keep yourself physically moving and breathing and remind yourself of successes you’ve had in the past. Keep reminding yourself of those successes. Best of Luck.

    3. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oof. Yuck. Always a finalist, never the new hire is not a fun experience. By all means take some time to recover before you take your next step. Also do your best to follow your instinct to make lemonade out of these recurring lemons. Keep telling yourself that staying 3+ years at your current job is proof that you can do well and people want to keep you around. And if you found one job 3+ years ago you can find another one. Finally, at least you’re employed while job-hunting. It may not be the job of your dreams but it allows you to sidestep the fish eye some HR folks and hiring managers have about applicants who are not simultaneously employed.
      Can you stay in touch with any of the people you meet in interviews?
      Can you expand your focus from “find my next & better job” to “improve my work life in many ways, even if they don’t obviously lead straight to a job change”?
      Feel free to grind your teeth at all my forced good cheer. Adulthood has a lot of these “power through the tough times” experiences. It’s okay to privately grumble about them.

      1. What now?*

        Thanks for the advice, All! Part of my problem is that my program recently shut down due to a funding change, so my duties look totally different than when I started and I am working less. Definitely keeping in touch with these interviewers (one site mentioned potentially creating a position for me in the new year) and looking at expanding my credentials with some extra training. Just bummed! Thanks for the encouragement!

  47. Mockingjay*

    Good news! My boss called me this morning and asked would I be interested in running a new project within our overall program. I am completely thrilled. The new project is something I have extensive experience doing. Current project is pretty much on automatic at this point (2 years in) and my work could easily be turned over to someone else.

    He is pitching me to the Powers that Be. I am to quietly work up a transition plan (Grandboss’s main concern is that my shifting roles doesn’t affect Current project negatively, as Current project is a success story). Probably nothing will happen until the New year, but still, what a nice holiday gift!

  48. GigglyPuff*

    Who would you report incompetent real estate agents too?

    My mom is selling her house, and the entire thing has been a s@#!show. Her agent is an idiot, who she found out really doesn’t have as much as experience as she thought, the buyers agent is a condescending jerk, who she thinks is “guiding” her agent who doesn’t know better. Basically it started because they never notified my mom when they would go into the house, which is the first line in the contract, that she’s supposed to have prior notice, and it all just snowballed downhill from there. It’s almost closing, and I really want her to report both of them, but not sure to who. The buyer’s agent ended up showing up at her house unannounced, tried to mansplain everything to her (my mom has probably bought and sold more houses in 40 years than he ever has), then during the end of the yelling, told my mom “to give him a hug”, after he started physically moving closer. *vomit* Then later sent a non-apology email about her getting upset.

    So yeah, I really want her to write a report of everything that happened (again way more than I mentioned here), but I’m not sure who she should send it to, the brokers? State realtor board?

    1. CatCat*

      Well, if they violated any rules concerning their work as licensed professionals, I would say the licensing board. But it doesn’t sound like that’s necessarily the case?

      If they just kind of suck at their job, I’d go with Yelp.

    2. irene adler*

      Contact your state real estate dept. or similar that grants licenses to these agents. That should be your first step. Broker might not be too happy to find out that you contacted them, but hey, too bad.

      And, to their respective brokers. Clearly they both need better supervision (and training).

      Also, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.

      Might even post something on Yelp too.

    3. Joielle*

      Send it to whoever licenses realtors in your state – probably the state’s department of commerce or something like that. They should have a procedure on their website for making complaints. Good luck!

    4. TCO*

      In addition to the licensing board you could complain to the branch manager-type person if they work for a larger brokerage. We had to do that once and it was helpful.

      1. Cat mom*

        Report to the state licensing board for sure. In most states this is taken seriously. It might be called a variety of things but searching on mystate + real estate + licensing should work. Check out the status of their license while you are on the site.

        If they are with a brokerage, call and ask to speak to a manager there. Or an owner or partner.

    5. Gumby*

      It’s too late now, but “The buyer’s agent ended up showing up at her house unannounced” merits a “You did not give notice nor did I invite you here, please leave now or I will consider you a trespasser.” And the door slammed in his face.

      The hug thing – ugh – I assume she headed that off at the pass but still – gross.

      1. valentine*

        She doesn’t have to let anyone in or even attend to the door. Is there an adult who can stay at her house until this is over? (It sounds like your mom can’t say no.)

        Realtors are bound by a code of ethics. I don’t know about agents.

    6. bunniferous*

      I would start with their broker in charge if they have one. You could also try the county Real Estate Association. If you have to bump it up then I would go to the State Board of Realtors.

      1. KAG*

        There’s also the NAR, the National Association of Realtors. I believe they’re the profession’s self-regulating body which promulgates the general code of ethics – I’m not sure what, if any, disciplinary authority they have, but I’d touch base with them as well.

  49. bunniferous*

    We had our company Christmas party already so this is as good a place as any to share this: We do the Dirty Santa type gift swap, and this year someone brought as their gift a *personal massager*.

    One of the bosses picked it.

  50. Laura H.*

    My last day at my current location. I’m gonna be a blubbering mess when I leave this evening.

    But I do hope my coworkers like their notes I’ll leave.

  51. Anon this time*

    My annual review is today and I’m asking for a promotion! I have the support of my immediate supervisors but it is nerve-wracking.

  52. Lost*

    Don’t have a specific question. Just needed to vent.

    I’ve been unemployed for about a year, but haven’t been applying to part-time jobs because who would hire someone who’d obviously continue looking for full time work and could leave at any time? I came across a part-time job that would be a great fit for my skills. It was posted in mid-September, but I figured since it was only for 8 hours a week it might have been hard to fill it. So I completed their hardcopy application form, and submitted it with my resume and a cover letter as required. About an hour later, I realized I’d forgotten to make a copy of the job posting for my records. I went to their employment page but the job posting had been removed.

    So they hadn’t been having trouble filling the position—it had already been filled and my application was their reminder to take the posting down. I feel so stupid and pathetic for wasting all that time applying to and getting my hopes up for a low paying, 8 hour/week job.

    1. Alexis Rose*

      Every application you fill out, every cover letter you write, every interview you may get is experience. Right now your job IS applying for jobs, it was not a waste of time at all, it was an investment in an opportunity for yourself.

      That said, job hunting SUCKS, especially when you are unemployed. You sound really dejected and frustrated and I absolutely know how that feels. Hang in there and make sure your self care is good. Wake up at a normal working time every weekday, shower, get dressed, go for walks. Get out of your place and take your laptop to a library or something free to apply for jobs. Good luck!

    2. Anna Held*

      I don’t think there’s a lot of logic to job searches. I mean, I’m sure there is, but it never seems to be anything that you can figure out on your end. I wouldn’t assume anything about their motivations.

      If it’s a good fit, I’d go ahead and apply for part-time. It’s always easier to find a job when you have one, plus you might brush up your skills. The company might well prefer to have someone good for a few months rather than have a position be open. There’s always a slim possibility that it could turn into full time. And plenty of people WANT part-time — they have young kids, or a spouse that earns enough, or family members who need care, or they just roll that way. I’m saying that if you don’t announce that you really need full time and will ditch them as soon as possible, they won’t necessarily know or care. And it’s not dishonest on your part as long as you don’t outright lie — how many people on these boards have been searching for a year or more? How many people leave after a couple months because the job wasn’t right? You have to do what’s best for you.

  53. Performance review for a great employee?*

    Hi all—I work in a large organization and have one direct report. She absolutely rocks, and I give her very specific, positive feedback all the time, in person, in passing, in recognizing her efforts in front of higher-ups, and via email. If I do a performance review at her 6-month point, which is imminent, what do I say? I have no constructive criticism to give. She’s the best employee I could have hoped for.

    For context, we are a team of two in a larger team. This position is structured so that there is a fixed salary, so no chance of raises for the term of the contract, but that also means that there’s no formal review process. I could skip it and no one would say anything.

    I’m thinking that maybe I should write up a review so that we have a paper trail we can rely on when the contract is up in a couple of years, because I’ll be lobbying hard to make the position permanent. I could put in all the positives, list the accomplishments, and set out some very achievable goals (this would be less formal but in line with our regular review process). A good idea? Any other suggestions for how to approach this?

    1. Catleesi*

      Could you frame it more as a discussion about her professional goals, and what you can do to support her development in other areas if she wants it?

      I’ve kind of been in the employee’s position (in that my boss was just like, everything is going great!) and having some kind of suggestion on areas to work on was always something I wanted. If it’s not something she currently does, maybe it could be new areas she could learn or grow into.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      In terms of constructive criticism, perhaps specifically state that you are very happy with her performance and have no concerns. However, you want to take the opportunity to suggest areas for further development for her, that would help her develop her career to the next level. Eg. recommendations of books or courses / training in her field. Suggestions that she be eligible for your organization’s training courses (I did a contract once where I was able to access all the corporation’s online training). Maybe a suggestion that she take up a volunteer position that would allow her to learn budget management, which would be a benefit to her future, more senior roles.

      1. Performance review for a great employee?*

        Thank you Catleesi and learnthehardway! I appreciate the employee’s perspective and the suggestions very much.

  54. Drax*

    My company is in a bad way – bad way like if we don’t get this massive order in January we won’t make it to spring. I have previously been let go, I’ve quit jobs etc etc but I’ve never been in a situation like this where a company is a second away from going under. The last time this company went under (whole other barrel of monkeys, but I work for round 2 of that company less then 2 years old) the ‘notice’ was the boss on the intercom saying “Pack up, we’re done here” so I’m expecting it would go the same way this round. I’ve decided I’m going to ride it out as the experience I get here is worth the risk, but I also don’t want to be up the creek without a paddle in 3 months.

    My question is this: what do you wish you would have done in this situation. Are there things you would have saved, personal finance things you would have done etc etc. I know there are lots of folks who’ve been in this situation and I’m really just looking for advice on what I should be doing personally and professionally during the storm.

    1. Four lights*

      Saving money and cutting back on spending now is a big one.
      You should work on your resume and cover letter so those will be good to go. You could start looking at the job market and maybe even applying if something really good comes up (you can always say no).

      1. Kes*

        Agreed, start saving now and even if you don’t want to start applying now, get ready so you can start applying right away when you need to, and start looking around to see what kind of jobs are available.

    2. TCO*

      Take care of any medical care, routine dental cleanings, etc. that your insurance might cover better now.

      Connect with colleagues and references you haven’t been in touch with for a while (a “happy New Year’s” note is a great excuse to connect).

      In addition to cutting back on expenses if needed, think about other ways you can manage your cash flow. If you pay property taxes in lump sums at set times of year, can you change how you pay it? Do you want to pre-pay any expenses now? Would you want to use your unemployment time to shop around for car insurance or do any other tasks that could potentially save you money?

    3. Anna Held*

      Look around your office and go through your computer and files. Are there any personal items you’d miss if the place were shuttered suddenly? Take them home. Any personal documents on the computer? Get them off and delete them. Any files you’d like to save — performance evaluations, work projects you’re proud of and might need as a sample? Copy them digitally and in hard copy. Basically, act like you won’t have access ever again. You might not.

    4. Madge*

      If you’re not a budgeter, now is a good time to start. Figure out how little you can live on and make easy cuts now and identify other things you can cut when the time comes. This is going to be a stressful time so you don’t want to go full austerity just yet, but it helps to have the stuff already identified and ready to implement. Although, if you can spend as though you don’t have a job, do it and identify a fun thing you’ll do with your savings if your employer pulls through. If you’re in the US, look at health insurance and figure out the cost of alternatives to COBRA. And be aware of your 401k balances, making sure deposits are made on time. Stay on top of any outstanding expense or medical reimbursements. De-personalize your computer and collect any portfolio information now. Also identify all your personal belongings and take home anything that won’t be easy to carry. You could also stash a few bags in your desk or car in case there aren’t any boxes available on closing day. You could also do a quick estimate of your taxes under the new rules and make an additional payment now if you think you’ll end up owing money. Check out the rules for filing unemployment and see if any of your state’s rules for laying people off apply to you. And what resources does your area have for job hunters and networking? Where I live, several churches have job hunting support groups and there used to be a weekly networking event at a local restaurant. When I’m job hunting I like to have a few cheat sheets: one with resume pieces for customized resumes and same for cover letters, a complete list of everything I’ve accomplished or done in that job, a list of people in my network, and a complete list of all my employers and the other info usually requested in an application. You could also identify the job boards that you’ll use, look around for target employers in your area, and figure out what you’re looking for.

    5. Gumby*

      Just as a general rule, I try to keep 1 year’s worth of living expenses in my emergency account. That’s more than most people suggest (usually they say 6 months) but it certainly gives me peace of mind. I know it’s a huge luxury to be able to save that much, but I recommend it to anyone who can. Beyond the fact that it allowed me to survive my last bout of long-term unemployment it also made yucky days at work more bearable. There’s just something about the idea that if I wanted to throw in the towel I totally could w/o being left homeless makes dealing w/ job annoyances easier because it is my choice and not something I am forced to do for survival.

      Actionable advice for right now? Planning. Prepare a hit list of subscriptions / monthly expenses you’ll cancel or downgrade if needed in the future, or do it now if it seems reasonable. Scope out temp agencies and/or recruiters or whatever resources you’d access for a job search if the need arises. If you might need to change your living situation – what does the landscape look like? Basically, make it so that if your company does fold you can implement the plan rather than be upset and panic.

      My company isn’t in as precarious a situation as it sounds like yours is, but I definitely have a “if I lose this job I will spend 2 – 3 months tops looking at other jobs in this (very high COL) area before moving closer to family (in a slightly-lower COL area) and job searching there” plan shuffling around in the back of my mind.

    6. Tabby Baltimore*

      A previous AAM post covered some of what you’re asking about:
      After reading it, go to the comments section for additional informative posts from Bob (at 3:00pm, 3:08pm and 3:16pm), Red Reader (1:08pm and 2:04pm), and Lemon Zinger, along with a thread that starts with jm (at 1:20pm) that includes Kyrielle, Joan Callamezo and Elizabeth West. Also look at posts from bettyboop (2:20pm), Venus Supreme (2:47pm) and Bob again at 3:30pm, also Anonymous Educator (8:52pm), evilintraining (1:23pm), Jerry Vandesic (1:46pm), Hotstreak (1:59pm), pbnj (2:00pm), Stranger than fiction (3:52pm), Crazy Canuck (6:50pm), and NicoleK (11:29pm). Let us know how things went for you. Wishing you all the best.

    7. ..Kat..*

      With companies like this, you could find they have closed because the doors are locked. Take home anything you don’t want to lose.

    8. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Maybe make sure you have contact details for colleagues you’d like to keep in touch with?

  55. Sara M*

    Hey grad students. I’ve heard grad school really sucks, but I’m not clear why. Will you tell me?

    For context, I went to a really tough private liberal arts college, which I liked, but by senior year I was just sick of studying and I couldn’t see a career that I needed grad school for.

    What’s so awful about grad school? Thanks.

    1. merp*

      Seems to depend hugely on the program based on folks I’ve talked to, but I did a professional-oriented program and my main stress was the many, many demands on my time. Undergrad was like that too, to a degree, but grad school was much worse. It was exhausting taking classes on top of working and pursuing every other internship that came our way because it might be the one that got me a job later. So I (and everyone I knew) took a full load of classes and worked 2 jobs and tried to fit in extracurriculars and networking that would make getting a job easier once we graduated. Plus the pay for those 2 jobs sucked. I couldn’t have done it for more than the 2 years.

      1. AnonEmu*

        I finished a PhD this year and basically it’s like merp said – the lack of time and high stress – classes, research, teaching, and depending on the department, pressure and department politics as well. Some departments have simmering feuds between professors and that can carryover into impacting grad students. The pay is also pretty abysmal and doesn’t tend to match cost of living in a lot of areas. I went to grad school at a really good school but because CA prices, rent + utilities was 2/3 of my paycheck (to be fair, I lived by myself due to severe food allergies, I knew people who had 3-6 roommates to help save money), but I was also lucky enough to have some sort of TAing/ research assistantship the whole time. If you’re doing classes/research and an unrelated job at the same time, it’s even harder. Good PIs will make sure you have a semblance of work-life balance, but that’s not always the case. I survived because I had good advisors, and a strong support network of friends, and I still needed to see a therapist for help with some stuff (which is a good thing to do! Especially if they’re also a trained life coach like mine was)

    2. Tara S.*

      People have very different experiences! I was reminded of that last night when I found out one of my grad school classmates didn’t pass her capstone. She ran into issues with her advisers (one unhelpful, the other made her cry), had trouble with the project. Data was good, but she couldn’t get the lit review off the ground and it hurt her analysis. She works full time (like most of us), and was losing sleep and miserable. I also found out another student had such a bad time with his adviser for his capstone that the DEAN got dragged in and the Associate Dean ended up taking over as the guy’s adviser. So things can go bad because the workload is too hard, or your teachers are terrible. More generally, people complain about how they have no time outside of work. If you have a partner or kids, this stress increases because you have other obligations.

      However. I just finished grad school while working full-time, and it was…really not bad. I had a mix of good and bad teachers, and I did become fairly hermit-y. But the classes–well they really weren’t that hard, just a lot of work. I’m lucky that because of my background, school was always fairly easy for me (not “I don’t have to study” easy, but other than math, I never felt like I was smashing my head against something in frustration), so that factors in. Writing was always my best subject, and grad school is a ton of writing, so that helped too. And that adviser who made my friend cry? She was my adviser too, and she was never anything less than helpful to me. All this to say, if you really liked the school part of undergrad, grad school may not be too hard for you, other than being a lot of work. Think hard about why you want a Masters before you spend a lot of money (will it actually help your career? or are you just not sure of your life, which happens A LOT). Good luck!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I agree, personally I did not find grad school any more difficult emotionally than college, and in both cases I was working part time. For people working full time, night school is a real drain just on the amount of energy they had to do anything else. I do think PhD programs can have unique bullcrap around politics and advisor personalities – cannot comment on that because I didn’t do PhD.

    3. Holly*

      Are you considering grad school or just curious? Because if you were sick of studying by your senior year of college, and don’t know if you need grad school for a prospective career, then you already know it’s not going to be right for you.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      In a master’s program, the challenge is going from being a big fish in a small pond / being the darling of the undergrad department, to being just another entry-level student among a sea of other highly qualified new students starting grad school. That is very disconcerting and can be demoralizing. Suddenly, you go from being the star to someone who has to prove themselves all over again, and the competition level has just ramped up by a factor of 10.

      Then the real challenge comes when you are the expert in your field, and nobody else knows what you know – but that’s usually at PhD level. To have a valid thesis, you have to be adding net new knowledge to the sum of human information.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Also, it really does depend on having a good graduate advisor / mentor / thesis advisor. And you often end up paired with someone before you really know them well. And, you’re much more dependent on that individual than you were on undergrad profs – if you hated an undergrad prof, you can usually avoid them. And unlike a bad manager, you can’t just up and leave for a new program like you would look for a new job.

        It really, really pays off to do your research and find out what the proposed graduate thesis advisor is like. They might be a big name, but only let you do scut work. Or they might promise they’ll get you published, but you might find out there is a stack of unpublished articles they’ve never paid attention to (that happened to a friend of a friend). Or, you find out that they’re totally disengaged or even senile (happened to someone I know whose thesis advisor forgot who they were 2 years into their thesis and kept mixing them up with someone else). Or, maybe they sleep with their students and only pay attention to the one they’re sleeping with (which is bad for everyone, and if you do well with them, will lead to people questioning why, even if you didn’t have a relationship with them.) Or, maybe they’re racist/misogynistic/classist/ablest.

        If you can, not only meet your proposed advisor, but contact previous students who are now working and independent of that person to get their perspective.

    5. Minerva McGonagall*

      Grad school kinda sucked for me because I was bored and my classes were too easy. But I was at a school with a national/international reputation for being really difficult…so…I don’t know. I also would have much rather been in a different program, but did the other one for career reasons (which worked, and I liked, but still). I also worked full time and had in person classes, which honestly was the worst. I couldn’t do the online class if there was an on-campus version if I wanted my employer to pay for it. I love school and I love learning so it wasn’t terrible and I’ll be doing it again, but it just…wasn’t the same as undergrad.

    6. Ranon*

      I also did a professional program, which I actually really enjoyed. But I did it after a few years in the working world, it was (mostly) necessary for me to continue to develop in my profession, and I had enough experience that I was able to choose a program that not only ticked the legal boxes I needed but also focused on elements within my profession that I was interested in studying. I did it like a job- worked regular if long hours, didn’t stay up all night, and got through it in the 2 and a quarter years the program lasted.

      My friends and family in academic graduate programs had very different experiences. Their progression through their program was almost completely dependent on their advisor, their advisors were various levels of incompetent at being advisors even if they were good researchers, and since most of them were doctoral candidates it took so much longer for them to complete their degrees. Plus there’s that “doing it for knowledge/ devotion” thing that leads itself to unreasonable expectations all around. But the placing your future in the hands of one person seems like the worst bit.

    7. Janeitenoir*

      Seconding the comments about big fish/small pond transition to just another first year. I am finishing up my MLIS via online long-distance while working full time, and it was pretty intimidating at first. After a while, everyone evens out or you learn to ignore the imposter syndrome most of the time.

      Like Tara S., my work wasn’t actually too hard, there was just a lot of it, and now that I’ve submitted my capstone, I’m realizing how much time I’ve gotten back. It’s been much better for my mental health, which took a nosedive during the last 1.5 years. I would actually caution anyone, if they have mental health issues they’re dealing with, to make sure they’re really sure about grad school and that they have a support system in place before pursuing it. The combined stress of my job, a pair of nasty semesters, a relationship (even though that is great and healthy), and roommate issues led to several anxiety breakdowns and the development of OCD, which I’m now recovering from a year later. At least one other friend of mine is also dealing with some long-term anxiety issues that her grad school exacerbated, and the few friends I made through the program had issues too – even though the program itself was fine. I’ve also made great connections personally and professionally, so there were benefits in the end.

    8. Lora*

      It depends on the course of study and the program and the people running the program and all kinds of things.

      Many high-ranked PhD programs I looked at, and one I was briefly in, were basically like junior high with pipettors. Lots of pettiness, lots of politics and misbehavior – so much so that it really hinders the actual work you’re supposed to be doing, the stated goals of your grant funding, etc. Faculty were just as bad as the students, even though they were all nearly retirement age. Lots of sexual harassment. LOTS. It was 1990s – early 2000s but I have exactly zero hope that any of that has changed one bit.

      A few programs and PIs that were more closely aligned with industry funding were much more professional; however there was still considerable infighting between political factions of the departments, to the point of affecting which professors would get which incoming students and which students had their theses approved quickly and which were kept around for years on end after fulfilling the actual degree requirements.

    9. SciProf*

      Grad school experiences are very field-dependent, degree-dependent, and even university-dependent. But I had a good experience with grad school in the sciences.

      A course-based Master’s program usually isn’t all that different from undergrad. The material may be more challenging, and you may be expected to have a higher level of understanding (more analyzing and less memorizing). It’s also more likely that you’re at a stage in life where you have other responsibilities (job, family, etc.), which can add stress.

      A thesis-based Master’s or a Ph.D. is a completely different ball game. You’ll probably still have to take some classes, but your primary responsibility is research. Research can be a huge adjustment – you’re learning from the top scholarship in your field instead of from a textbook, and things inherently don’t work most of the time. It’s also far more independence and managing your own deadlines than most undergrads are used to, so it can be easy to get stuck in procrastinating and binge-working. Too many professors have zero management training and wind up having all sorts of bad boss behavior, which can definitely add a lot of stress. Research can still be very rewarding in the right environment if it’s a good fit for you personally, but it’s not for everyone.

    10. CheeryO*

      Just my experience from an M.S. program in an engineering discipline, but the classes were SO much more difficult than even my highest-level undergrad classes. It’s not just the material, but the expectation level – this will sound terrible, but you lose the bottom 75% of the curve from undergrad, and those were the people who slowed the pace, lowered the class averages, and kept things easy-ish for the best students. I went from just under a 4.0 to barely being able to comprehend the material and failing open book tests. It was just crazy.

      On top of the actual coursework, I was working part-time as a TA, which sucked up more energy than it should have. And I did a course-only Master’s, so at the end of it all, I had to study for and take a comprehensive oral exam, which was one of the worst experiences of my life.

      I had grad school entirely paid for between the T.A. position and a grant, and I would NOT do it again if I had to go back. YMMV – obviously grad school is more necessary in some fields.

    11. 653-CXK*

      My experience in grad school was this: I lasted one semester and never went back.

      The school I attended was well-known, but their financial services department was disorganized, for lack of better words. After many letters and failing grades I had enough – I decided to withdraw from the university.

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      I did an MBA with a Supply Chain concentration, and I loved it. I was lucky enough that I could do it full-time, with a scholarship, part-time job and a couple of smallish loans to pay the bills (under 20K). It did require a lot of hours, but I learned a lot, getting both ‘big picture’ views and practical experience that matches up to about 10 years work experience. In undergrad, I never knew supply chain existed, and it is so very much the right field for me.

      My understanding is that grad school is best if you have a passion for a field where grad degrees are the basic requirements (eg, psychology), or if you want to switch fields.

    13. Snow Drift*

      Group work, especially if you go back to school when you’re older and have a larger-scope job. I was pushing 40 and doing large-scale group projects with 23-year-olds, who were coasting in their low-responsibility “first” jobs and couldn’t fathom why I needed notice to juggle everything. They’d randomly decide to go to happy hour and work on the presentation; I’d have to e-mail that I was currently in another state traveling for work. Etc.

    14. epi*

      Hi! I’m a PhD candidate in epidemiology. I used to want to be a historian.

      Some things that suck about grad school are really field dependent. I would actually say that, for me, grad school in public health does not suck. Grad school in history kind of sucked.

      The job market for people with PhDs is pretty bad in a lot of fields, and in general I would say it’s worse if you are really wedded to the idea of staying in academia and becoming a professor. Many people starting grad school do have that as their first choice! In many fields and in many schools however, you will encounter the attitude that becoming a professor is the best outcome a PhD student can have, and that others are settling or didn’t make it. So many people find themselves reconsidering, or just trying to come up with a realistic Plan B, over the course of their program, but feel there is too much stigma for them to be honest about it or get useful advice. Also, the job market just weighs on people while going to so much effort. The prospect of competition in the future can poison the otherwise nice relationships you might form with faculty and other students.

      Grad school often involves doing a lot of hard work and thinking, pretty much all alone. That background sense of competition can make it hard to get a realistic sense that this is hard for everyone, and create a feeling that whatever others are getting done, it’s probably more and better. The work set-up will vary a lot by field, of course. As a baby historian I worked all alone except for seminar classes. As a public health student I work on more collaborative projects, but they all happen to be ones on which I am the only student or the only long-term student. So I know lots of faculty and staff, few peers. It’s hard for even normally very organized and responsible people to feel like they are doing great at all their work when the deadlines are all soft, or set by you, or moving around depending what is urgent at the time. Most people will go through a period where they really do need to pull up their socks a bit, but also, it’s easy to feel like you’re slacking all the time. There is always more you could be doing.

      Academia is a unique work culture. In my experience, even in pretty open fields like public health, programs are not always good at explaining all the social and professional norms that may be alien to you. You pretty much need to get comfortable asking your advisor or *someone* questions about expectations that will make you feel dumb. And if it’s someone you trust enough to ask, you will really, really want them to think you are smart.

      There is not enough accountability in academia. Check the news– many recent #MeToo stories are about professors and administrators. As a grad student doing a thesis or dissertation, you need to have a rapport with your advisor. They are your mentor, the person who introduces you to other people who can help you, the chair of your dissertation committee (they decide when you are done researching & can graduate), and they may be your boss on your paid research or teaching assistant work too. Your research will be something related to theirs, otherwise they couldn’t really advise you intelligently. If you have problems with them so severe that you want to switch advisors, you could need to switch topics and end up throwing away your work.

      In general I would say, don’t go to grad school unless you are confident that you need it for your ideal career, and can think of a plan B and plan C that it would still be useful for. Whether you should expect to find funding for a masters degree really depends on the field, but don’t go to a PhD program without funding ever. I think many people go in thinking, they are really smart and hardworking, they’ve handled a tough undergrad, their outcomes will be good. But everyone there is smart and hardworking. Or they think it will be OK because they’d accept a job at a small school or a 2-year school, and don’t understand that those are competitive too! Evaluate the choice to go to grad school assuming that you will have a pretty average outcome. Meaning you might not make it into a real (read: non-adjunct) academic job at all. Or you might decide you want to take a lesser credential and leave early.

      1. In the Academy*

        I never had a problem with graduate school (my program did not require a thesis), but a friend of mine said she had to do things like house-sit or pet-sit for her advisor(s) and basically be an unpaid dogsbody or servant for the professors.

      2. curly sue*

        I have what is pretty much an ideal setup for graduate school, and I’m about six months (help!) from defending my PhD. I’ve got a stable marriage with a partner whose preference is to have a low-stress job and do more of the childcare, I’ve got an excellent rapport with my supervisors and my committee generally agrees on things, I still love my topic, I’ve run into some timing and access issues with some of the research but nothing that has derailed the process to any great extent, I’ve got good funding, and I’m teaching in my dream department while I do it all.

        And I’ve still had a handful of “this is too much, I’m not smart enough for any of this” breakdowns on my partner’s shoulder.

        Part of it is organization, but most of it is the pressure of the sheer quantity of work – between teaching, marking and my own work, I’m hitting probably about 80 hours a week minimum, and I’m still aggressively carving out time to spend with my family. (Friends will see me in person when I resurface in the summer, but not much before then.) Every meeting I go to, I leave with another long list of things that I need to read / need to think about / need to rewrite, and I’ve got post-doc applications and grants and so on to start setting next year in motion while still juggling all of the right-now emergencies. All the scheduling is on me – I’m in a department with minimal admin support because of its nature – and there are a million things to do there on top of the actual work.

        (“Why don’t you start working on that other paper in your down-time?” my supervisor blithely suggested, and I just about strangled him.)

        I’ve read hundreds of books, sat up to my elbows in boxes of artifacts for months, and written almost 120,000 words in the past couple of years on this beast, sat through the utter hell of oral comps, and now I’m staring down the barrel of a public defense / inquisition into what I’ve been doing with the last four years of my life.

        I love what I do and I believe in my work, but man — even when everything lines up exactly right, it is stressful.

    15. H.C.*

      I enjoyed my professional Master’s program – but I was also juggling a full-time workload at the time (most of the grad school classes are mostly nighttime), so it was definitely draining physically, mentally & socially (barely had time/energy to keep up with friends & family during that time.) That being said, I have no regrets doing that program – though in hindsight I might have stretched it out from 2 years of full course loads to 3-4 years as a part-time student.

    16. Maya Elena*

      Go and find the site “100 reasons not to go to graduate school [in the humanities ans social sciencesГ” and consider these reasons (which apply to lesser extents in STEM. Consider those (really 10 ish) reasons carefully.

    17. ugh, phd*

      In addition to all the reasons listed here (the stress, the low wages, the time demands, the petty competitiveness), the crippling self doubt and imposter syndrome can really get you down. I (successfully!) defended my PhD dissertation this week, and afterwards, in my last ever meeting with my advisor, he told me my dissertation isn’t very good. Not a very great confidence boost as I embark on my job search as a newly-minted PhD, but that sort of confidence smack-down is par for the course.

  56. MuseumChick*

    More of a vent than seeking advice. I’m more angry than I’ve ever been at any job. I was hired to be an expert in a Specific Thing. Two years in and I’m still being told Specific Thing is not a priority and doing a lot of things that are not my job. I can handle that, it’s annoying but I can handle it. Now something has happened that has driving me up a wall.

    When you donate something to a museum it is for life. The museum owns it full stop and will not give it back barring some extreme circumstance that are EXTREMELY limited. Like, if we find out the object was stolen. Or cases of repatriation. We had an object donated when I first started here, I handle all object donation so I go through all the necessary steps and complete all the paper work. For some reason Big Boss decided that she doesn’t like this object and wants to return it to the donor. I go through all the reasons that is a TERRIBLE idea and is very much not done. She seemed to accept my answer. Until today. Two years later. I get a email from a higher ups (not the Big Boss) basically say “Fergus Ferguson is coming next week to pick up that thing he donated.” I responded, explain once again why we should not do this. The respose I got was basically “To bad, the decision has been made.”

    I’m angry because one of the reasons I was hired was to bring professional standards to their museum collection but every time it’s even slightly inconvenient for them I am ignored.

    1. WomanOfMystery*

      I sympathize sooo much. The two most aggravating things in the collections world are returning artifacts or when people try to donate thing you Do. Not. Want., but your ED is a people-pleaser and will never say no. Why have standards if you’re not going to follow them?!?

    2. MuseAnne*

      Ugh. I once had to return something that was “accidentally donated” years before the return request. I did it with professional protest and documentation.

      Sometimes, when things are rough, you just have to focus on what you can control. It’s the thing that worked for me with my previous boss. They were a terrible manager and it would take a lot to make me work for them again.

    3. Observer*

      That’s beyond frustrating. But it also sounds like a case of “Your job stinks and is not going to change.” Is there anything about this job that’s worth staying for? If not, start looking. It may take a while, but you have choice right now, because you do have this job.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      How does that even work with the IRS tax deduction the donor took back when the museum accepted the object?

  57. Mary Dempster*

    Should I ask my manager what her facial expression meant?

    Context: I’m a sales assistant, and they were hiring for a new sales development role. I talked to HR and my manager about applying, and they all agreed. I met with HR & my manager to hear more about the position, but with what they’re looking for + 50% travel, it wasn’t doable for our family, so I made the decision to stay in my same role, and take my hat out of the ring.

    I let her know this yesterday, in person. Her face was odd – I could not tell if it was disappointment, or relief, or confusion. She asked why, and I mentioned the travel was too much, so she just said we should sit down in January to find out what the best path is for me here at the company. All sounded fine, but I’d really like to know – was she disappointed or relieved(as I don’t have much experience, and she’s very nice and I can see her being worried telling me that they found someone with more experience, though I’m fine with that).

    We’re fairly close-ish, as in, we’d for sure hang out if she weren’t my boss, we’re the same age, similar interests, etc., but we keep it professional, though the banter around our office is often off-color.

    TL;DR Can I ask my manager what she was feeling (per her odd facial expression) when I told her I’d like to pull my name from consideration?

    1. Lumen*

      I wouldn’t. For all you know she was thinking about something else, or really did not mean for her face to reveal her emotions, or was holding in a fart. Asking will come across as invasive and insecure. Moreover, it doesn’t really affect you/isn’t your business. If she wanted to be more expressive and let you know, she would have.

    2. Drax*

      I think as far as touching base that she wasn’t disappointed may be okay, but not really asking if she was relieved. But really, I’d just focus on figuring out what path you want in the company for the January discussion

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      I wouldn’t ask about facial expression. She’s already said that you should sit down in January to discuss your career path. That’s what you need and asking about a facial expression would just be weird.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I wouldn’t. You’ll be having a discussion in January, so you might get some insight at that time, but for now, please do not ask anyone about their face. In most cases, I advise that you have to go with the information you have, i.e., go with what she said. She may have been trying to stop herself from conveying one thing or another. She might have been holding back a sneeze. She might have had something in her eye. She might have been trying to prevent you from seeing her disappointment/relief/anger/satisfaction/whatever. At the end of the day, what she was feeling at the time doesn’t matter; you said you had decided not to pursue the position, she asked why, you told her, she suggested you talk about your future come January.

    5. Rey*

      I would phrase it as, “You seemed surprised last week when I said I wouldn’t be applying for the new sales development role. Do you have some concerns? I would appreciate your feedback on this.” I would avoid saying it was because of her face, because this is something that women get policed on a lot.

    6. fposte*

      I think it’s a little out of step to ask somebody what they were feeling or what their face meant–what they were feeling is pretty much their business, after all. If there’s something actionable, that would change what you do, you could frame the question that way; it sounds like it’ll all be discussed at this January meeting anyway, so you might as well be prepared. But “How do you think the decision about the sales development position will affect my growth here?” type questions, not questions about feelings and faces.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Maybe frame it as pointing out that you’d have stayed in the running if the travel weren’t so large a % of time. They’d never cut that back for the right persin, would they?

  58. Gumption*

    What are the best/worst reasons you or a coworker have had to boycott or “choose to not attend” a holiday meal?

    My coworker? She brought in her toddler one year, in a new dress and everything. Only child there. The 2nd in command of our office pointedly told her that children were not welcome. She was offended so now she boycotts the annual holiday meal.

    (Personally, if it’s not the children’s party and if there’s grownups and booze, the toddler indeed didn’t belong!)

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      That is the response that a (third, not close at all) cousin had when her carload of kids weren’t invited to our wedding. It was open booze, on a cruise ship, and we didn’t have the space (in essence, if we invited everyone’s kids, we would have nearly doubled our guest count). She wrote in her kids’ names on the RSVP, and wrote a note basically saying that we must just not care enough to remember her kids’ names and therefore they’re not going. Uh, okay?

      1. Gumby*

        Huh? If someone wanted to invite the whole family they still would not have written out all the kids names – they would just say “The Smith Family” so that is a ridiculous stance to take anyway. I have 4 siblings; I’m not sure the post office would be able to deliver an invitation that was addressed to all of us by name.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          The best part was that on the RSVP slip, we put ___ of (total number invited). So they just had to fill in the number that would go. The cousin plus the spouse was invited, so we put __ of 2…she scratched out the 2 and wrote in 0 of 6. But we wouldn’t have written in every person’s name anyway!

    2. Rey*

      Not at work, but I am still debating about a holiday party tonight for a family social group because the planning committee has been very forceful that the dress code is “nicer-than-jeans” (for an event that includes children). And yesterday, they added in an ugly Christmas sweater contest. So I’m supposed to wear nice slacks or a skirt with an ugly Christmas sweater? Really y’all?

    3. Marge Gunderson*

      Worst: had some co-workers decide to boycott the holiday party because they got word the raffle prizes wouldn’t be as good as last year’s. I couldn’t go for other reasons but those who did attend said that it made the raffle pool really small so everyone won multiple things from the raffle and the prizes were still really good.

    4. CheeryO*

      There’s always drama at my employer over the menu offerings for the holiday lunch (we’re state government, so people want their $15 to go towards ONLY the food that they want to eat, and nothing else!). There are always people who boycott over the food choices, even though it always ends up being varied and tasty. Can’t please everyone!

    5. Maggie May*

      I have not been attending some all hands as they put them downtown (I live in a top 10 city in America) at 8AM on weekdays.

      I would have to leave my house at 7:20 to get there. That is before I usually even wake up. (I live 5 minutes from work).

    6. valentine*

      Booze should not equal child endangerment. Your coworker’s right to be offended (unless she was told before bringing the child, but doubly if she was told while the well-dressed child was right there, ready to party down).

  59. Here and there and everywhere*

    If your company is requiring you to take a drug test in order to go from temp to perm and you’re hourly, do they have to give you paid time off in order to do it? This is in California, maybe I could use my paid sick leave? How should I approach my manager about it? We’re swamped with work BTW.

    1. Ali G*

      I would think they would have you do it on the clock and pay you for it. Granted, I was salaried, but at my last job they did surprise drug tests. You got and email, a location to report to, and you were required to report there within 2 hours or you got fired. Hourly employees at our industrial locations had the same policy. All the tests were done during working hours.

    2. OperaArt*

      IANAL, so take this for what it’s worth…
      I believe they have to pay you just as if you were at work. It’s part of your job— a very short term job assignment. So it’s not paid time off, it’s work time.

  60. Où est la bibliothèque?*

    How do you handle a working relationship at a new job when your boss lied to your face in the interview? I specifically asked about how collaborative the organization was (I asked because working around siloes has been a nightmare for me in the past) and got a lot of glowing positivity about interdepartmental communication, camaraderie and cooperation from my new boss and the higher-ups who interviewed me.

    Well…it turns out that this is the most siloed, uncooperative, uncommunicative office I’ve ever seen, and it’s going to be by far the #1 challenge to doing my job. That’s a recognized fact–as in, people have actually said “the hardest part is going to be getting Other Department to give you what you need or not create actual competing projects.” I’m having a hard time both with that challenge (again, one of my least favorite aspects of a job) and the fact that several people knowingly led me to believe the opposite when I specifically asked about it.

    1. SheetMaskSenora*

      You have to ask yourself how much of that bait-and-switch is worth leaving the new job for. And if it’s a definite yes, start looking for another job immediately. Or possibly reach out to some other job offers you turned down for this one. Also, the less amount of time between jobs the better so you can leave this new job off your resume.
      Good Luck.

      1. AnonEmu*

        Seconding this. If this is a dealbreaker, start hunting ASAP because you never know how long it could take to find something new, and being in situations like that tends to lead to burnout in a hurry. Make sure to take time for mental self-care, too. Best of luck!

    2. Alianora*

      Honestly, I would probably be looking for a new job in that case.

      As for handling the working relationship in the meantime, I always default to being very matter-of-fact and work-oriented if I’m having a hard time getting along with someone. In this case, I also wouldn’t really trust their judgment anymore.

  61. What’s with Today, today*

    Update on my small town government corruption story!

    The story went live mid-week with two high level city officials going on the record. It brought to light many interesting goings on at city hall, one of the two, very high on the org chart, said “secrets are well kept at city hall.” ON THE RECORD. An elected official then stepped forward to share with me also.

    The story has ultimately led to two follow ups and a massive uproar in town. More follow ups to come.

    The commission met last night. A third high ranking city official, one I did not interview, stood up with his wife at his side and abruptly resigned (using that word, though he’s totally could say retire). He did it in protest of the way they’ve been treated. He agreed with the three people I spoke of earlier. I’m interviewing him today. He told me he wanted to shock some sense into them.

    Ultimately, I wasn’t able to stop what was going to happen from happening, but because of my reporting it happened with our citizens aware and it happened in the light, not behind closed doors and through secret emails.

    I slept well last night.

  62. Stephanie*

    We just had a layoff meeting update (I work for a household name company that has been in the news for massive layoffs). I think I’m ok for now (for at least the next six months), but morale is low. They brought in one of the big consulting firms–I think everyone’s doing their best to keep a straight face with all the euphemisms the consultants have created.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I tend to have a dark sense of humor, so grain of salt and all that, but please consider creating a layoff jargon bingo card. It will help you pass the time.

      1. Stephanie*

        I was using the Bain/McKinsey/BCG jargon jokingly when talking to a non-work friend about all this and he was like “Please stop saying that. I just can’t take it anymore–it sounds so ridiculous.”

        But this is a good idea!

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Damn. I remember hearing one of those stories on NPR and thinking “I hope this won’t be a problem for Stephanie.”

      On the bright side, you are okay for the next six months, and you have people here cheering for you and able and willing to offer boatloads of good advice. (Summary: take care of yourself, size up your total situation, make plans for whatever is within your control, think positive thoughts, be proactive, and keep on going.)

      Seeing you handle past transitions gives me faith that you’ll make things okay in the future no matter what happens. But I’m sorry that this challenge is in your neighborhood.

  63. Stay-at-home medievalist*

    My work gives us some money to spend each year on professional development, enough for 2-3 books. I always choose in a rush at the end of the year, so I wanted to think ahead for 2019.
    What are some professional development books you’ve gotten something out of?
    I tend to get a mix of industry-specific ones (code, software testing) and general work skills ones. I got a few decent actionable steps from “Getting things done” and have really enjoyed “Thinking fast and slow” so far.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      “Thanks for the Feedback” is the best single general topic prof dev book I have ever come across.

  64. C in the Hood*

    My daughter will be graduating with a BS in Marine Biology this spring and is worried about finding a job. She’s gone to a career fair, which was marginally helpful & I’ve given her some tips on trying to find positions (ie looking at the “careers” section of various websites in the field), but this field is so far out of my wheelhouse (which is business/office work), that I’m not familiar with the best places for her to work.

    Is there anyone out there who might be in or linked to Marine Bio that might have some good leads?

    1. irene adler*

      Try finding some professional organizations for Marine Bio. Then get in touch and ask for some mentoring/job leads.
      Or some trade magazines in same. They will have websites with links to professional organizations.
      Ask the profs in Marine Bio where to look for jobs.
      Look into Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA. They have a website -incl. job listings.

    2. Alexis Rose*

      I have a marine bio degree, I also went on and did a masters. There are so so so so many paths that degree can take you in, so its not a one-size-fits all conversation at all. Some suggestions: does her university have a career centre? can any of her professors put her in touch with someone in the field? Does she know of any students who are a few years older than she is that have navigated the first few years out of university that she can reach out to and ask to take for coffee? I also volunteered for non-profits to get some experience, and ultimately ended up working for the federal government in a slightly different role than I thought I would have, but I do get to talk about fish every day!

    3. Lady Kelvin*

      Unfortunately, Marine biology is one of those fields where jobs and few and far between (and suck) unless you have at least a master’s (but really a PhD is necessary), which is something no one tells you until its too late. Maine biology is definitely one of those fields where you need a lot of connections to get a job, and generally that means unpaid internships in expensive locations. She can look for jobs as lab techs in various marine biology labs (check all the NOAA offices, they hire contractors to do all the grunt work) or work as an observer on board fishing vessels. I know the Alaska, Hawaii , and Miami NOAA offices have those programs. They typically pay pretty poorly and the working conditions suck, especially for a woman, lots of sexism, pretty dangerous, etc. But otherwise, she needs to go to grad school in order to get a job that will pay the bills. Typical salaries for marine biology are BS: ~30k a year, master’s level ~45k a year, and PhD ~65k a year. Although once you reach a PhD your income can grow. The only way to progress in your career in marine biology is to get additional degrees.

      Source: I’m a PhD in marine biology.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        My old room mate has a BA in marine biology, she works for the state government’s environmental division. Mostly testing water quality, doing flora / fauna surveys and monitoring quality problem abatement / construction projects.

    4. Shark Whisperer*

      I’m a marine biologist! It really depends on what kind of marine bio work she wants to do. My work is more on the conservation biology side of things. I have spend most of my career working for non-profits and aquariums, but I now work for the federal government. But there is so much you can do with marine bio. What are her other interests? Does she like writing? Does she want to do field work? Does she want to do education? Or research?

      A great place for her to start looking for jobs is the job board on Seven Seas Media. They post a really wide swatch of marine science gigs.

      1. Shark Whisperer*

        I’ll also add that I only have a bachelors and I make about ~65k a year, but I do more science communications than actual science

    5. MeganK*

      I have a friend from undergrad who’s in Marine Bio; what worked for her was taking some summer jobs in Alaska (Sitka or Glacier Bay, I think) that helped her make connections with folks who work on and with whale-tagging boats. If I remember correctly. So I would say, if she can move somewhere with a good program and try to find work there, that might be a good step. It might also be relevant that I understand many Alaskan communities are pretty close-knit among the “locals,” so she might not have the same experience moving somewhere more metropolitan.

    6. C in the Hood*

      Thanks, everyone, for your comments! I’ve copied & pasted them into an email that I’ll forward to her. And Shark Whisperer–she especially loves sharks!

    7. Dealtwiththis*

      AZA job boards website, Texas A&M WFSC job board are good places to start. Also, I had to do two internships after graduating before I lucked into my first wildlife related job. She can do it! Sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time. Also, check those job boards every single day and apply immediately when she sees something she’s interested in. Would love to hear an update when she’s found a job!

    8. H.C.*

      In addition to the other comments above, if possible – try to take on a Spring (though it might be a bit tight to apply for that now) or Summer internship, which can provide the relevant work experience to give her an edge when applying for actual jobs.

  65. What’s with Today, today*

    My co-worker and I are both air personalities for a small family-owned radio station. I’ve been here 11 years, co-worker has been here just under 2. On holidays, he and I are required to work. I work 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. and he’s 10a-6p. My shift is harder and more on-air intensive (5 hours on air to his one hour on air). My shift is harder to automate, his is already almost totally automated and typically there are a lot of sports on air on holidays…our part timers can handle that… that said, holidays are required work days for both of us (and the part time high school employees that work at night covering the sports) but the office is closed. Our handbook spells out that we can’t ask off on these holidays, the request will be denied. We both get off on Christmas though I come in at 5a.m. to start the automation for the rest of the day. Years and years ago I requested Memorial Day off and it was approved, but boss told me “don’t do that to me again.” Because of that experience and the handbook policy I’ve never asked off on a holiday again. My husband’s family takes trips for Thanksgiving and/or 4th of July that we’ve never attended because of the holiday policy.

    Last year, my co-worker asked off for New Years Day. I can’t remember why and it doesn’t matter but the day off was granted. I kind of figured it was a one time thing and never brought it up, though it admittedly it makes my day a little harder as I have to pre-record an hour long program to cover the hour he’s usually on air.

    This year at Thanksgiving co-worker asked if he could leave early and was allowed to work 10-3. I just found out he’s requested NYD again, as we’ll as New Years Eve, which is also considered a holiday for us. It hasn’t been approved yet but likely will be.

    I don’t want to begrudge him the days off at all but at this point I want to ask for July 4 so we can go on the family trip! If it’s granted, great, but if Boss doesn’t grant my request, how do I handle it without bringing my co-workers approved days into the mix? I don’t want to throw co-worker under the bus, but I want equal treatment on holiday requests. I know my shift is harder to cover than his, but this is getting old.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t think it’s throwing your coworker under the bus to point out that you’re not being treated equally. It’s not like they’re unaware he’s taking off! I’d say something like: “I’ve noticed that holidays off for on-air staff (or “Bob and I” if you don’t share the same title) are no longer a hard no. With that in mind, I’d like to ask for July 4 off.”

  66. Mrs. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    For government clearances #askingforafriend, if one already has secret or top secret clearance, and is trying to obtain suitability (which is a different animal), how long should that take? I’ve heard 1 week, or 2, and I have no idea what the right answer is.

    1. Brownie*

      Completely dependent on if there’s personnel availability to handle the request and how fast they get back the information they need. This time of the year if it was started at the beginning of December I’d say it might be a full month before it gets done and the decision made because of the holidays and people being unavailable. If candidate or character interviews are needed based on risk then it might take up to 2 months at this time of the year if the interviews haven’t already been done. Tell your friend to hang in there, everything takes longer around the holidays.

  67. lcsa99*

    I am probably just over thinking things, but regarding the gifts flowing down thing: as a receptionist, I am technically below everyone. Does that mean I shouldn’t be giving anyone gifts this time of year? Or does it really only apply to managers? I wouldn’t give anything to the big bosses, my direct manager, or the other manager I sometimes work with closely; but what about everyone else? I am pretty isolated where I sit, so I like to give little things to the few people who make an effort to notice me and have real conversations rather than just “where should I put this outgoing mail?” but it occurred to me the other day that I am pretty low on the totem pole and maybe I shouldn’t be doing it.