open thread – January 11-12, 2019

Do you remember the person who wrote out “I QUIT” in cod, haddock, and tilapia? A photo of the incident has been obtained!

Also, in late-breaking news, two photos of the ducks from this morning’s post have also been obtained.

I don’t think there’s anything to talk about after that, but it’s still 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.

{ 1,796 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon Going for a Promotion – Update*

    Hi all! I wrote in another open thread a few weeks ago looking for advice on negotiating my salary for a promotion at my public university. I signed my papers yesterday, so I am here to update.

    Negotiation went like this: in my old position I make $49,000. Boss had offered me $55,000 for this new manager role. I asked for a day to think about it. I used our public salary database to pull some average salaries across campus for certain types of positions. I came back to my boss, rattled off those numbers, reminded him that I just finished my Masters, and asked for $61,000. He said he would get back to me. The next day (end of day, not really a long wait but it felt like it), boss came back to me, said he had run his own numbers on averages across campus and that his were lower than mine. I brought up my excel with numbers to compare, turns out the differences were mostly from how we were pulling numbers. But it didn’t matter too much, because in the same meeting, my boss offered me $58,000 AND said they would back-date my effective start date so that I’m eligible for the merit increase pool, which means my salary would go up again in July!

    So I got a $9,000 promotion! I’m very happy and excited to start in my new role, where I am sure I will be using all my AAM knowledge. Thanks to Alison and you guys for the advice!

    1. The Tin Man*

      Congratulations and I think it’s cool how your boss did hear you out and you both looked at how you grabbed your numbers. And back-dated the effective date!

    2. GoodDawn*

      That’s great! I’m about to enter this stage of negotations and was wondering the best way to handle it. (Company gives standard 5% to everyone, but I deserve/want more.) This is a perfect solution!

    3. twig*

      As a fellow university worker: Congratulations!! Good job working the system and data available to you!

    4. MissDisplaced*

      This is how we do it….
      So happy for you. Believe me, this stuff does get easier, thought it’s never easy.

    5. merp*

      Oh man, it’s really wonderful to read about these things happening at universities. I just found out I’m ineligible for merit because although I’ve been here a year, they set the cut-off a few months before that. Kinda bummed about it, and there’s probably nothing I can do in my own situation, but it’s nice to hear things are sometimes possible!

    6. Rosie The Rager*

      Anon, congratulations on successfully negotiating a promotion with a $9,000 raise.

      It’s always wonderful to read posts about people succeeding in securing positions with higher levels of responsibility and pay. Thanks for taking time to share with the AAM community!

    7. Doc in a Box*

      Congrats! That’s the #1 sign of a good boss, to be open to salary negotiation and willing to think creatively about how to get you to where you would like.

      (I am still bitter about a negotiation where I found publicly available salary data, as you did, and the department chair called the numbers a lie and then berated me for several minutes for daring to discuss “dirty words like salary” — that’s the actual phrase he used. That job has been posted since 2014 and still hasn’t been filled, hmm I wonder why.)

  2. blueberrypie*

    I’m a student in a program that has assigned me a mentor in my intended field. We’ve had two meetings so far, and he is great – has a lot of experience and good insight. He seemed to intend to meet me monthly, but I asked for every two months instead, which he seemed happy to accommodate. My question is – I have a meeting with him in a week, but I don’t know what to talk about! I know it’s my responsibility to drive meetings with him, but we’ve covered a lot of ground in our previous meetings and honestly as a student not that much has changed for me in 4 months. Any suggestions? Should I cancel the meeting if I have nothing to ask?

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      You could ask him if there’s anything he’s found students may not know to ask about/to plan well ahead on? Sometimes the problem is not knowing what you don’t know!

      1. AnonEMoose*

        This is an excellent thing to ask! One of the challenges I’ve run into when training people is the questions they don’t know enough to ask, but it’s so fundamental to me that I don’t think to articulate it. It’s an important knowledge gap.

        You could also ask him about common mistakes people entering the field make. Things to look out for (both in terms of opportunities and mistakes). What skills you may particularly want to develop.

    2. Minerva McGonagall*

      Could you update him or talk about projects or papers you’ve done? Share some professional development/articles you’ve read and ask his opinion? Perhaps others in your program may have some ideas about what they’ve talked about with their mentors and you can pick their brains.

    3. Karen from Finance*

      I like RabbitRabbit’s suggestion.

      Maybe you can also go through a couple of the most salient experiences you’ve had in the last few months and ask for his point of view? Might not be a specific question but more of a “I think I handled this well but do you think I could have done anything better?” type of thing.

    4. MeganTea*

      Don’t cancel! This is definitely a relationship you want to keep investing in.
      Does your mentor ever do any hiring? Maybe ask him for some general advice from what he’s seem from his side. What are some common issues he sees, both in materials and in applicants’ qualifications?
      Also, are there skills that you could start working on now that would give you an edge once you enter the job market and are competing with all your fellow new grads? Is there anything your mentor wishes he started working on earlier?
      Have you asked about professional organizations for your field?
      Also, think back through your last 4 months. Is there anything that came up — in class, in assignments, whatever — that would be valuable to get a “real world” perspective on?

    5. LaDeeDa*

      Don’t cancel! Here are a few suggestions:
      *What is something you wish you had known when you were first starting your career?
      *What was your career path- how did you get here?
      *People always talk about needing to get “buy-in” I get the concept, but can you give me an example of HOW you did it for a particular project?
      You can also ask to role play a scenario- an interview, performance review, difficult conversation, being assertive…
      I would also look at job postings for the job you want to have when finishing your program and make sure you understand what everything is/means– and ask his advice about what you can do to make sure you are ready for such a job.
      Good luck!

      1. OhNo*

        Definitely a good idea about the job postings. Even if you can only find high-level ones, you can bring it in and ask, “What classes do you think would prepare me best for a job like this? What do you think the career progression would look like?”

      2. Doodle*

        Start keeping a notebook or online doc to record ideas, topics, questions to bring up with your mentor as you think of them. Don’t worry if they are big enough or important enough to ask — you may not be able to judge that accurately! plus even small things can get the conversation going and get your mentor to think of other things you need to know and do.

        I also encourage you to think about what your goals are for working with your mentor — goals overall — and that will help you set goals and an agenda for each meeting.

        And a couple things to ask about in your meetings: who would he recommend you talk to about X or Y? are there talks or presentations that you could/should attend? anyone’s class to sit in on (if that’s pertinent)? anyone to job shadow (if that’s pertinent)?

    6. epi*

      Definitely don’t cancel! As a student there is lots you can probably learn from this person, you may just not realize you can or should ask it.

      Sometimes an assigned mentor turns into a real mentor– someone you always want to turn to for advice, and who becomes a friend with time. Other times, they are more like a pretty good boss, nice to have but you will click with others more.

      Spend some time just getting to know each other if there are no specific agenda items you need advice on. That will let your mentor hear what you might need, but didn’t know to ask about. A good mentor will introduce you to more great people, and if they know your interests they will do a much better job (as well as feel more connected to you and motivated to help). Talk about roles within your industry that appeal to you, and ask if your impression of them is correct. Are there skills that are really in demand right now, that you could pick up now while you are taking classes? What about internships and entry level jobs– who treats young employees well, who is a consistent pipeline to bigger and better things?

      I would focus less on action items in these meetings, and more on your developing identity as a professional. You can also just chat! Did you go to a cool seminar recently, finish a project, or read an interesting article?

      Finally you can set the stage by emailing a little ahead of time. Update him on concrete achievements so he can make any mental connections before you meet. Then see which of them he brings up, and where the conversation goes.

    7. M. Albertine*

      You’ve asked him how he keeps up on current issues in the field, correct? Journals, news sources, blogs, etc? As you keep tabs on those resources, take note of developments, relate them to your coursework, see if they can spark discussion.

    8. blueberrypie*

      thanks for all the suggestions! this is really helpful and assures me that I won’t be wasting his time.

    9. tangerineRose*

      How about asking your mentor what things he wished he’d learned that this type of program doesn’t cover or doesn’t cover thoroughly?

  3. BirthdayBlues*

    Hey everyone! I posted last week about office birthdays. After coordinating every birthday in our office, I was rightfully annoyed when my own birthday came and went without recognition. Check last week’s open thread for details – it’s the first post.

    I’m happy to say, like so many aspects of resolving office issues, a talk with my manager led to success. While I’m not totally sure what the new birthday card system will be, he assured me that from here on out I am off birthday card duty. Many people rightfully assumed I am a woman, and I carefully brought up the aspect of young women regularly being assigned party planning, kitchen cleaning, note taking, etc. as these are also issues in my office. Alison’s language from a previous post really helped me articulate in a non-accusatory manner. My manager seemed embarrassed as it was clear he had never considered this perspective, yet it was so obvious when I brought it up. I was able to kill a couple birds with one stone via this conversation. Yay! Go me! Haha..

    My own birthday remains unrecognized in the office, but that’s okay. I am a 20-something and my friends and I celebrated plenty. Thanks everyone who weighed in last weekend!

    1. Green Goose*

      The exact same thing happened to me at my office, my birthday was three months ago and I never got anything. We actually have so many people in our office and additionally, people travel a lot for work so there are too many cards, and then the cards don’t always get signed by a lot of people.

      Our solution is to do a birthday month party (we will get a cake or cupcakes) and write the birthday month employee’s names on a whiteboard to celebrate. I think it’ll be easier than the card thing.

      1. Teal*

        I’ve always found the card thing silly anyway…. I’m curious whether there’s anyone who really appreciates their birthday card in this system. I know for me, signing card after card for people I don’t know or like made my own card pretty worthless.

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I’m glad you had a great birthday celebration with your friends!

      Can I just say I’m so happy that you, and other people that have written in, are fighting against that stereotype of having women in the office taking over the party-planning, kitchen cleaning, and other roles like that? I’ve noticed that so many times in offices and it’s super frustrating! Good for you for mentioning it to your boss.

      1. BirthdayBlues*

        Thank you! After some reflection, I realized that it was the gender roles that were really getting to me, but the birthday cards were the perfect opportunity to bring it up. Things are moving in the right direction!

        1. BirthdayBlues*

          It IS really hard to start that conversation, but once it was initialized it was easy to get my manager to see my side of things. He also thanked me profusely for speaking up.

          For those who are in a similar boat regarding gender roles in your office, you may earn valuable kudos for raising the issue. Coming off non-accusatory is essential. Also it benefits men too, I interact with employees who I never would before because of the bday cards. I have a stronger, more friendly rapport with many in the office.

          1. It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's SuperAnon*

            This is a great point. I took on a lot of volunteer work when I first started (planning happy hours, group events, annual charity drives). I’ve since stopped doing a lot of them because my workload has increased and my enthusiasm is shot, but I had a chance to work with a lot of different managers in a very friendly setting so they had a good opinion of me from the start. This doesn’t mean that women should continue to do them if they do not want to, but I definitely talk up the benefits of being involved with all new hires when they start.

      2. 2 Cents*

        I did the same thing at my office regarding answering the phone/covering the front desk. Only women were assigned to do it, despite our company being pretty evenly split. And it wasn’t just “oh, all the women doing this are in junior roles.” Nope. I wanted off the duty (and I’m not in a junior role and haven’t been for years), and I made my complaint twofold: only women had to do it and is this really how you want middle to senior staff members spending their billable hours? The next week, I was off the rotation. No men have done it, to my knowledge, but at least I brought it to someone’s attention.

    3. Is pumpkin a vegetable?*

      I’m in the same boat. This year I turn 50 – I couldn’t bear the thought of such a milestone being missed, so I will be out of the country. I won’t even notice they’ve missed it. :)

    4. designbot*

      This is fantastic, and I’m especially pleased with your boss’s reaction to the gender roles talk.

    5. Liz*

      My office does a joint birthday party every two months where every birthday from the past two months is recognized (or not, if the person opts out). It’s a GREAT system and I highly recommend it.

    6. Lucille2*

      Same thing happened to me many jobs ago. I was the office birthday celebration planner and my birthday came and went unnoticed. I’ve never volunteered for that role again. Also, I’ve found there are legitimately some people who prefer their birthdays go unnoticed at work.

  4. Tara S.*

    Does anybody have suggestions about how to best learn to talk to an API? The last couple times I tried I ended up quitting out of frustration when I couldn’t get Postman to do anything. I keep thinking of ways were it would be useful to know how to talk to APIs, but can’t seem to figure it out on my own.

      1. Autumnheart*

        API: Application Program Interface – a set of functions and procedures allowing the creation of applications that access the features or data of an operating system, application, or other service.

        Basically the thing that lets other software use the same back-end as your software. One example would be “Log in with Facebook”.

    1. ISuckAtUserNames*

      IME, it depends on the API and the documentation of same. Good ones have documentation for setup in Postman (the Adobe Analytics admin API is good about this, even for someone with not-great technical knowledge, like myself).

      Each API is different, so it’s hard to say in a general sense, but the APIs documentation would be the place to start, along with any user forums/stack overflow, if it’s a big enough API for that.

    2. Emoji Pizza Unicorn*

      Get someone who knows what they are doing to “pair program” with you.

      You can even do this remotely over Slack or Zoom. You can also try posting your question on Stack Overflow.

      Good luck!

    3. The Ginger Ginger*

      Yes, start with the documentation. Then begin working with the most basic call and see if you can make it work, then (if this applies) start adding all the parameters, one by one, that let you fine tune your results.

    4. gecko*

      What are you trying to do? If you’re trying to learn about using commercial APIs (like Github, Google) in the abstract, you’re probably better off doing some structured learning with Lynda/LinkedIn Learning, Codeacademy, Youtube, etc. If you’re trying to use a specific API for a specific project, it can be best to just jump right in. Postman is a nice way to test stuff out, but don’t worry–it’s not the be-all and end-all.

    5. Maggie May*

      postman can be a bit heavy handed sometimes. I find it useful to make a curl request first (sometimes APIs will format those for you) then copy that in to postman.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Is there some kind of community you can get help from? I’ve found when official documentation is lacking (in existence or in clarity), I can usually get good help from a relevant online community (mailing list, online forums, Slack… or even just Stack Overflow).

      I like to search GitHub, too.

      Or search for name of API example.

    7. Another Teapot Maker*

      Zapier has a great online intro to APIs class. I’d start there and then look for some with great examples to keep learning on your own.

    8. Bored IT Guy*

      The only API I’ve really worked with in Postman is the ServiceNow API, which is horribly documented. (That being said, if that’s the API you’re working with, and you want to create an incident, I’ve got that figured out … anything else is beyond my current experience)

    9. Little Bean*

      Haha, in my community, API means Asian/Pacific Islander so I was really curious about where this post was going to go…

    10. Admin of Sys*

      Definitely depends on the api for how difficult / easy it is to interact with, but it may be helpful to just start feeding in curl or powershell api calls to test things out, rather than trying to work through code. That way, you can see exactly what the system is responding with, errors or otherwise, rather than having to manage the code.

    11. Tara R.*

      Depends on what the API is– generally I’d start with whatever the simplest call they have available is (usually a basic GET) and take a look at the format of the data you get back.

  5. Accidental Emergency*

    I accidentally called 911 from a fax machine and the police came to my work. Please tell me I’m not the only one that’s done this!

    To call outside my office, you dial 9 and then 1 for a USA based number. However you don’t need to do that for the fax machine. I forgot this and dialed 91 and then another 1 because the fax I was sending was to a 1-800 number. I typed the rest of the number and sent the fax pages through. The sound on our fax is terrible so I could barely hear the ringing and the 911 operator asking who needed help; I just heard staticky beeps. I realized I’d messed up the number, though not that I dialed 911, so I ended the call and started over. I sent the correct fax and walked away.

    An hour or two later, a woman from HR came over with a fax page in hand. The police had shown up to our doors to do a check on the unanswered 911. Talking to HR, they realized the number was a fax number and found the failed connection page the fax had spit out after I left, with my name on it.

    I was horrified and very apologetic. The HR woman had a good laugh at my expense and reassured me that I wasn’t in trouble. She joked that it was a good test of emergency response since our address can be difficult to locate but the police found it right away. I felt so bad but also very relieved that they knew it was an accident.

    1. Sunflower*

      I wonder almost every day while offices use a 9 to dial-out. I fear a lot that I will do it so I’m sure you aren’t the first one!!

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          A previous job they did switch from 9 to 8 and the reason was specifically given as “too many mess-ups calling 1-800 numbers”. The police told the company to change or get fined.

      1. Make Editing Great Again*

        I am in constant fear that I will do this by accident. Glad to know I’m not alone!

    2. Lulu*

      I used to work in an office where the number to get an outside line was changed from 9 to 8 for exactly this reason. More than one person accidentally called 911. It’s not just you, and I feel like it’s a common enough problem that nobody should be using 9 as their outside line number. It’s such an easy mistake to make.

    3. Four lights*

      Haven’t done it (yet). But I know it has definitely happened in our office before. I think it’s a common issue because you have to dial 9 to get an outside line.

    4. MuseumChick*

      Oh no! It wasn’t 911 but several years ago I was working on a historic site. Part of my compensation was staying in an apartment they had one site. One day for lunch I decided to go up to my apartment a fry some eyes. I ended up setting off the fire alarm for the whole building, all the visitors had to evacuate and we had to wait for the (THREE) fire trucks to show up for the alarm to be turned off.

      It was one of the most embarrassing day of my career. All my coworkers, boss, the volunteers and even the visitors thought it was hilarious and there were no hard feelings with anyone.

    5. Never*

      Eons ago, I was standing in the lobby of our building talking to someone when a police officer came in and said that the emergency call button in a elevator had been pressed. Another employee came rushing out of their office to explain that they had been carrying a large box and had accidentally hit the button with it. The police officer shrugged it off, and like your HR person we found it reassuring that the call button actually works.

    6. Namast'ay in Bed*

      Ha my old company was like that. The number of people accidentally dialing 911 was so bad that we had the fire department come to our office and give a lecture on it because they have to respond to all calls and it was happening multiple times a week.

    7. General Chaos Wrangler*

      This is why my company changed our dial out number to 8. Of course all the good stories happened before my time.

    8. TheWonderGinger*

      I haven’t done this, but when I was in high school we were on vacation and I tried to use a phone card (jebus I feel old) to call a friend back home. It didn’t go through, I tried again, and when it didn’t work a third time I gave up and went to join my family in the pool. The police came to the hotel and I got in so much trouble!

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        Wait, why would the police come because a phone card was nonfunctioning? Heck, IIRC about 25% of those things never worked right and the police would have had to call in the National Guard if they really wanted to address that situation!

    9. Amber T*

      Oh man, this used to happen ALL THE TIME at my office. You used to have to dial 9 to get out of the building, then if you were dialing to a different area code (99% of the time), you had to dial 1. I worked the front desk, and at least once a month we’d get a call from the local police department saying that someone in our office dialed 911, and was everything ok. So I’d call a few people around the building, asking them to check to make sure nobody dropped in their office or some hidden place near a phone (heaven forbid someone actually MEANT to dial 911 and we didn’t check), then I’d call back and say no, sorry, everything is fine. A few times local police even turned up (no lights/sirens) to check. That was always fun.

      (Fun not so super related story – in middle school/high school, I had a huge crush on this super cute boy who was a few years ahead of me. He knew my name but that was about it. Turns out his IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER is a police officer in my town now, and he was the one to stop by and check once! It didn’t matter it was 10+ years since I had even seen the guy, my heart went a-fluttering and I was super awkward. It also doesn’t help that I’m literally Ben Wyatt around police officers. But yeah, it’s happened.)

    10. WhoKnows*

      I’ve done this on a phone, but never a fax machine! When it happened on the phone, I realized as soon as I did it and hung up immediately.

      I feel so bad for you but also that’s kind of hilarious to do it from a fax machine!!

    11. Anonymous in NC*

      Where I live, the area code is 919, so we dial 7 to reach an outside line because of many incidences people doing things like this in the past. An easy mistake to make!

    12. Unexpected Dragon*

      If it makes you feel better, because of that whole dial 9 thing, my entire office building had to live with a literal month of “don’t accidentally call the cops” messaging. And all phones were reprogrammed to display general reminder. They removed the 9 for getting an external number, but the reminder lives on every phone in the building.

      1. Amber T*

        Lol our phone screens still say:
        8 for an Outside Line

        It’s been at least 2 years since we implemented the 8 thing… I don’t think the screens are going away any time soon.

      1. thankful for AAM.*

        We still have to dial 9 then 911. I know because I have had to call 911 more than once in my job (libraries are not like you think!)

    13. Tigger*

      It’s ok. My sister’s Iphone sos system accidentally called 911 on Christmas Eve. They called back and she had to convince them not to come out and it was an accident. Thank god they didn’t or else it would have been like the end scene from Christmas vacation

      1. cleo*

        One Christmas Eve, firetrucks showed up at my parents’ church during the service and a fireman interrupted the sermon – it turned out that over enthusiastic incense had set off the fire alarms. By far the best Christmast Eve sermon I’ve experienced.

    14. ejay*

      At a old job, our fax machine used send out random faxes and dial 911 on it’s own. Police used to show up all the time until it was fixed.

    15. Imtheone*

      I did this at home because there are lots of 9s in our area code. I mis-dialed somehow and put in 919 and then the number. The police came to check that everything was okay. (They shouldn’t allow area codes that are so similar to the emergency number!)

    16. Alldogsarepuppies*

      We once had an all office email telling us that if we do that by mistake on the phones to stay on the line and tell them not to send someone…but sending a secret fax seems like it could be a good way to discreetly alert.

    17. What's with Today, today?*

      Hotels across the nation changed the dial 9 to get an outside line thing because a woman in our town was brutally murdered by her estranged husband in a hotel while her children tried in vain to dial 9-1-1, but you had to dial 9 to get an outside line first, and the little girl didn’t knot that. Look up Kari’s law. Lots of recent legislation and businesses are beginning to follow the hotel industry lead.

      1. Typewritergirl*

        That is just the most awful tragedy.

        Here in the UK we have 999 so she would probably have managed to get through.

    18. Astrid*

      Not office related, but I lived in Japan with my family for a time when I was in high school. Our apartment complex had a intercom system that you had to use to buzz people up from the lobby, and being simple country folk, it was relatively new to us. We had ordered a pizza and myself, my mother, and my sister went to the lobby to pick it up, and buzzed back up to my dad. It took forever but we eventually made it back up to find that he had accidentally pushed the panic button on the intercom instead of the buzzer (Japanese labels, silly Americans) and had called the police. In the meantime, he’d completely disassembled the intercom to turn off the alarm.

      We learned the words for “Sorry, I’m a dumb American and don’t understand, please don’t arrest me” in Japanese very quickly.

    19. Award winning llama wrangler*

      I used to be the first person in our office at 6am, no one else came in until at least 7. One morning I accidentally set off the alarm, talked to the alarm company and assured them everything was fine, unlocked the building as usual. 15 minutes later I nearly had a heart attack when I looked up to find a very quiet police officer waiting to get my attention. I couldn’t hear anyone knocking on the main door from my office, so since the door was unlocked he walked in and wandered around until he found me. I very nearly needed emergency services after that!

    20. twig*

      I do this around once a year. I dial 9, then sometimes my finger “stutters” (for lack of a better word) on 1. I automatically hang up as soon as I realize what I’ve done — then the campus police office calls me to make sure that I’m okay. They’ve told me that when I accidentally call 911 to stay on the line and let them know it was an accident so that they don’t have to follow up– I’m still working on NOT panicking and hanging up when I realize that I’ve dialled 911.

      (this makes it sound like I do this all the time but I may have done this once a year for the last 9 years that I’ve been here)

      There has been talk about changing our dial out number from 9 for YEARS. BUT we’re a large university campus, so it will probably take a while to enact/cut through the bureaucracy to do this.

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        I did exactly this with the finger stutter and the panicked hang-up; our area code is 919 and apparently this happens a LOT.

        Police called back immediately, and told me to wait for an officer to check everything out. The campus policewoman who came said that I should have stayed on the line, but that they have to come out and check anyway, in case you were being coerced into being chipper and insisting it was a mistake.

    21. TooTiredToThink*

      At one point I worked for an out-bound call center (where people had requested information from us); and the phone number had apparently been entered incorrectly. The auto-dialer dialed and I got 911. I was so confused and said “I didn’t mean to call you!” I was so embarrassed. My supervisor heard my response and knew exactly what happened and started laughing. She explained it happens sometimes. Its funny now; but I was horrified then.

      1. Absurda*

        I had a similar experience when I worked in telephone surveys during college. I didn’t dial 911 but a suicide hotline. Our interaction went something like this:

        Me (flustered): I’m sorry, I have the number!
        Hotline attendant (gently and full of compassion: Are you sure?
        Me (totally flustered and panicked): yes, I’m fine, I’m doing telephone surveys…

        Man that was embarrassing. I don’t know if the attendant ever believed me.

    22. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If I ever worked anywhere with a dial 9 to get out feature, I’d do this, I’m sure!

      I’m glad they didn’t go “ah from a fax number? Must be wrong…” and didn’t dispatch! You’ve got a good response team.

    23. Hobbert*

      I am the police and I’ve done this! Using “9” to dial an outside line is the worst idea in the world. When I worked patrol, it happened all the time. Don’t worry about it!

      For anybody who accidentally does dial 911, please stay on the line! If you hang up, we’ve got to go check on you.

    24. anon24*

      One place I worked had a kiosk with the ability to pay via credit card outside. The actual machine was obviously locked up so you couldn’t access the lines or anything. Somehow at 3 or 4 am one night the dedicated phone line for this credit card machine called 911.

      Fortunately the cops knew us well and knew that this line was not our normal phone line. They checked around, all was good, and called my boss the next day.

    25. tb*

      My work actually uses ’91’ to dial out! If you type the extra ‘1’ for the country code, you are screwed! I always want to know who the person was who chose ’91’ as our dial out code.

    26. New Job So Much Better*

      I worked at a bank for 6 years before I knew we had a silent alarm. Guess who I found out? LOL.

      1. OhNo*

        Oh, man, me too. When I was in college, I worked at the library and had no idea there was a silent alarm under the desk, because nobody ever mentioned it. And then I accidentally hit it one day while poking around looking for something. Apparently the campus cops forgot we had a silent alarm, too, and they called out the regular police before checking with us.

        You can imagine how red my face was when the full campus security force and two squad cars rolled up on the library asking who hit the alarm. My boss was kind enough to take responsibility and apologize to both the police and me for not mentioning it. It definitely went into the student worker’s training manual after that, though.

        1. Zennish*

          I worked as a parking garage attendant in college. During my training, I asked about the red “alarm” button on the console. My boss said, “Don’t depend on it…here I’ll show you” and hit the button. About thirty minutes later, one campus cop pulls up, with no lights or siren, asks “Anybody being robbed here?” then leaves.

    27. Dispatcher*

      If the sheriff’s office or other emergency services responded, send them some cookies or something. It goes a long way for making up in instances like this.

      1. Drago Cucina*

        Our 911 dispatchers once commented on the number of false calls they get because people give their toddlers old cell phones. Even phones that have no plan or have not been assigned a number can call 911. As long as a phone can be powered up and connect to a network it can connect to 911 services.

    28. KR*

      It is a good test of emergency response!! I accidentally called 911 on my office line and at a grocery stores where I worked, and as I stayed on the line to assure them there was no emergency, they used it as a chance to ask the address and make sure their records for the phone number were correct.

    29. StressedButOkay*

      Oh my goodness, you are not the only one! This happened several times at my last job, to the point where we finally posted a note above the fax machine urging caution.

    30. Veger*

      I accidentally called 911 from my desk phone.

      Step 1:To dial out press 9
      Step 2: Press 1 for a long distance call
      Step 3: Accidently pressed 1 again

      ….911 starts to activate…. I panick and hang up the phone. A few minutes later a police officer stops by the main reception for a welfare check. I shamefully admit my error.

    31. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      My coworker did this four times, to the point where the police department told us they’d start billing our employer. I was so grateful when we switched to “8” for outgoing calls.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Seriously. I don’t think we have a problem with this at my job (my department doesn’t but we’re remotely located so I’m not sure what goes on in the main building. It hasn’t been brought to staff attention, though) but I’ve always thought that “9” was not the best choice for a dial-out prefix, specifically because of this.

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          I’ve always thought that “9” was not the best choice for a dial-out prefix, specifically because of this.

          9 was for an outside line before 911 was a national thing.

          That said, I believe most new installations of phone systems are switching to 8 as the prefix for dialing out, but on an existing system of any complexity it’s an absolute nightmare, so only happens when the business decides it’s worth the time and money.

    32. Muriel Heslop*

      I’ve done it! Same issue fax machine – 9 to dial out, 1 for a US based number then 9 for international. I was 22 and at my first job – I was so mortified! Everyone enjoyed it immensely except for me. I felt terrible. It happens!

    33. Jellyroll Morganstern*

      Yeah, this is not a fail on your part. It is a fail on the part of the office for not marking the fax machine clearly “Do Not Dial 9-1 On the Fax Machine” My office had the same issues and put up big stickers on the machine next to the keypad, and signs over the machine.

    34. Kindly Pass Claudia Oreos, For Goodness Sake*

      If it makes you feel any better at all, I once accidentally called 911 while on a ride at an amusement park. You know how if you hold down the side button it will make an emergency call for you? Yeah …

      1. Batshua*

        Was it a roller coaster? Were you screaming?

        Please say it was not a ferris wheel or a carousel!

        1. Kindly Pass Claudia Oreos, For Goodness Sake*

          It was the Escape from Gringotts ride at Universal, we were definitely screaming, and I have no idea how long someone had been on the line but I didn’t notice until we were off the ride and outside.

          And on that day, I learned not to put my phone in the pocket of my hoodie while riding things.

    35. Hello, I'd like to report my boss*

      There was an hilarious Reddit thread where a person with a new mobile complained the police showed when they tried to call voicemail from their mobile. Link in username.

      They’d woefully misunderstood something, and thought they could dial 112 for voicemail. This is ACTUALLY a (Europe-wide?) number that diverts to Emergency Services. The ’emergency service voicemail’ they heard when calling ‘voicemail’ was an operator repeating ‘What is the nature of your emergency?’.

      It must have been a real headslapper when they realised…

    36. Mimmy*

      I did this once by accident when I was still living at home, but never at work, thank goodness! Makes me glad that my job doesn’t require me to make outside phone calls!!

    37. A Non E. Mouse*

      Dialing 9 for an outside line was around before 911, so the problem kind of created itself.

      As for commiseration, it happens all the time – the best course of action (if you can hear them!) is to just stay on the line and explain you accidentally dialed, so sorry, my apologies.

    38. Eleanor Shellstrop*

      Haha, this happened in my office a few weeks ago. I work at reception and had no idea someone accidentally called 911, so it was a shock when a couple of police officers showed up. I brought it up at the last staff meeting and asked that if you accidentally dial 911, even if you hang up, please tell me!!!

    39. Ann O'Nemity*

      I haven’t done it on a fax machine, but my cell phone recently went into SOS mode and called 911 from my purse. I didn’t realize it until they called back.

    40. Mbarr*

      I haven’t accidentally dialed 911… But I used to work for a smartphone company, and during testing/phone setup, developers/everyone constantly hit the Emergency Dial button, then they’d panic and end the call, but of course police would have to show up to check things out… We all got an email reminding us of proper procedure.

    41. stripey*

      The 1 in the 1-800 number is the same as the 1 before a US number. 800 is a toll free area code. One one replaces the other. I’m a little surprised this isn’t common knowledge, but I also haven’t worked in an office setting in almost 20 years, so I guess I don’t know what people often don’t know anymore.

      1. Kimmybear*

        We keep having issues with staff accidentally calling 911 because we hire a lot of younger workers who have never dialed anything but a cell phone. They don’t know when to enter 9 or 1 or areas codes or 011 for international and so we end up with the fire department at the office.

    42. Lizzo*

      Oh god, I have been there! I was setting up a conference call for a board meeting, and like you, had to dial 9 1, but apparently I dialed 1 again. This was right before the meeting started, so just about everyone was there and heard the dispatcher ask over the speakers what my emergency was. I stammered: “Oh, sh*t! I am so sorry! Wrong number” and frantically hung up. Worse, the room burst into laughter – a room full of corporate and nonprofit leaders laughing like immature teenagers!

      Yeah, not my finest moment.

    43. Cat Fan*

      This is probably only happened a bazillion times in the large company where I work. Try not to do it again, but don’t worry about it.

    44. Ciela*

      20+ years ago my mom was supervising a guy who would dial 911 “by accident” several times a day. He claimed he was calling 411 for directory assistance. But why you needed directory assistance for current clients, he was never able to answer. So several times a day, the police would call back, and ask if there was an emergency. My mom would say no, but they would always send a patrol car anyway.
      411 guy was fired after not too long for other issues.

    45. Doodle*

      It would be a kindness to write a little reminder about “9” and post it at/above/on the fax machine.

    46. MoopySwarpet*

      We’ve had the cops show up multiple times and we have less than 10 employees! When that happens, I ask them to let me double check and ask each person in the office if they called 911. No one ever admits it, of course. Finally, the last one said that they tried to call, but there was no answer. For whatever reason, the number listed for our location with emergency services was one we don’t use and it got missed when we routed our phone system.

      Coincidentally, since I’ve gotten than fixed, we haven’t had any 911 calls, but if we do, they will call us first. I thought about changing the dial out to a different number, but decided against it.

    47. DCGirl*

      Two stories: when I was a bank teller in college, I accidentally forgot to shut the small safe in the teller line one night, and it triggered the silent alarm. I was the only person working, at the drive-in window. I exited the building to find police cars converging on the building from every direction.

      In my fund raising days, I worked at a college where the president’s office was on the second floor of the very modern, cantilevered student center building. You had to walk up a flight of stairs to get to it, which put you on a landing with a door to go back down the stairs and an emergency exit to the roof over half of the first floor. We had a candidate get confused on her way out and go out the emergency exit by mistake. The alarm triggered, causing the building to evacuate, and the poor candidate was left up on the roof in full view of the assembled masses on the campus lawn. She was actually the best candidate and got the job, but they were probably still telling the story of the day Judy set off the alarm 25 years later when she retired.

    48. Lucille2*

      I bet you’re not the only one who’s done that in your office! In my office, we have to dial 9 then 1 for all calls and faxes. I could see myself making this mistake. Also, I have made an accidental call from my cell to 911. It’s too easy from an iphone. In my case, I told the operator it was an accident, had to answer some questions to ensure I was not speaking under duress, and nothing came of it. Operator said it happens on occasion. But still, I felt really bad wasting the operator’s time like that.

    49. Fried Eggs*

      I’ve done this!! I was working for a college career services office. I had to fax a student’s transcript to area code 919, and I somehow just spaced and sent it to 911 + fax number instead. Went back to my desk and got a phone call from campus security asking if anyone was in distress. Apparently emergency services called them to check before sending a fleet of emergency vehicles over, so at least they didn’t actually show up. I did have to fess up to my boss when she got back so she wouldn’t hear about it from someone else.

      I felt both embarrassed and weirdly reassured that if I ever got locked in the copy room I could send a fax to get rescued!

      I’m sure you’re mortified, but from an outsider’s perspective I can tell you, showing up just to be sure is part of emergency services’ job! I’m sure they’ve had their time wasted in much more intentional ways!

  6. Anon nonprofit worker*

    Since most people and orgs are so secretive about salaries I want to get AAM input about this to see if I’m off-base or if this offer is good. I recently went through an extensive interview process for a nonprofit in the education field, for a director position in the scholarships and financial aid department. I have four years direct experience in this type of work and four years classroom teaching experience prior to that.

    The position can work from their New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco office and the offer is $75,000 a year. I know from people that used to work there that they only do COL increases and they have a no negotiation policy for salary. I was hoping for more, but does this sound correct to people in this field?

    1. JustaCPA*

      Caveat – I have no experience whatsoever in the nonprofit world

      That said, 75k for a director position for 3 of the priciest cities in the US? eh. I would say thats low.

        1. Not a Real Giraffe*

          I’d also say $75k for a director-level position is low, but most director roles I know of (including my own – I am based in NYC) require much more than 4 years of experience.

          1. HR in an Association/NonProfit*

            This is a really good point. All of our director level folks have at least 10 years of experience.

          2. Khaleesi Esq.*

            Yes, this. Three years is considered the miminum in my field for coming on board in a junior position.

            1. Doodle*

              Classroom experience is good but it’s not directly related to scholarships etc. So really she does have only four years of direct experience.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah. I am also not in nonprofits but I can’t help thinking that that salary in NYC would mean living with roommates in Greenpoint or similar.

          1. PR in Non-Profits*

            Agreed. If it’s just you on that salary in NYC you’d be fine, you could get a 1 bedroom or studio in a decent neighborhood, but if you’re supporting a family it’s definitely going to be tight.

      2. Anon for Now*

        I think it’s a reasonable salary for a medium cost of living area. But, for super high cost of living areas like SF, NYC, etc., I think it’s on the low side.

      3. Anony*

        This! 75k is chump change in those high COL areas. The only way I’m moving to those cities if I make at least 150k

    2. Boredatwork*

      I feel like it would be challenging to actually *live* in any of those cities on 75K a year. If you’re relocating, I’d strongly consider how much housing/transportation costs will be in both time and money.

        1. Hi*

          Yeah what? You can certainly live on 75k in New York! It won’t go as far. If you have several children or dependents that changes things. I survived in Chicago on 30k…its not has high COL as those cities though.

      1. NYer*

        Yea, I’m also living very comfortably in Manhattan for less.

        People always seem to think the COL is just so exorbitantly higher in NYC, but I don’t think it’s that different? The cost of space is more expensive, but you live in a smaller apartment and pay rent instead of a mortgage. And transportation costs are WAY down ($121/month for unlimited metrocard compared to cost of gas, insurance, general car maintenance, etc.) Plus, I can’t think of anywhere else where you can get such cheap and tasty food (for reference, my lunch budget is $4/meal and I can easily get take out for lunch at a different place every weekday).

        1. LilySparrow*

          I think part of the issue is that the lifestyle is totally different. If you were going to try and replicate a suburban/regional city lifestyle in terms of # of bedrooms/bathrooms, new construction or home ownership, a car, buying furnishings for that home, insurance, property tax, and so forth, then it would be nearly impossible to live in NYC on a mid-five-figure income.

          But a small apartment with rent control, no car, and a simpler lifestyle – it’s quite doable. There are a lot of resources you can enjoy for free or very low cost in places like New York (like parks and arts experiences) that aren’t available in other places unless you own them.

        2. KX*

          I could live on that in San Diego, with a paid-off car, if I didn’t have kids. Even on my own (no spouse or roommate). Public transportation isn’t great, though.

        3. Lucille2*

          Depends what city you’re comparing NYC to. Taxes, cost of groceries, utilities can also be much higher in NYC than many other cities. Transportation costs are great, but you more than make up for that in other living expenses. Also have to factor in commuting time. That can affect cost but mainly quality of home life depending on the lifestyle.

    3. Never*

      In New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco? That seems really low. I make 75k at a nonprofit as an analyst in the Midwest. I’d guess our directors make ~100-150.

    4. WhoKnows*

      That feels low for any of those cities, but nonprofits don’t pay as much as for-profit companies.

      Can you check GlassDoor to see if maybe anyone has posted salaries from similar companies? If they are asking for 8 years experience, $75k is pretty low, especially in a major city where cost of living is quite high. If they’re asking for 4 years experience, $75k is good to me. Kind of depends!

      1. Anon nonprofit worker*

        I did check Glassdoor and it just has not been consistent, and even the few salaries listed for other directors at this NP varied so much that the lowest one must have been wrong and that has been sort of a theme with other similar positions at nonprofits that I’ve looked up on Glassdoor.

        For this position, they asked for 5+ years work experience in education, which I do have, so their advert was a little vague.

      2. meesh*

        I work in media in NYC at a for-profit and I make less than 75K with 8 years of experience…sigh. The city is expensive :(

    5. HR in an Association/NonProfit*

      A couple of questions:
      1. What is the size of the organization? Number of employees?
      2. Will you be managing people?
      3. What level of degree do you have?
      4. What is the annual operating budget of the non-profit? What size budget will you be managing?
      5. Have you looked at their 990? It will list their most highly compensated employees and their compensation. If not, check on guidestar.

      If you answer the questions above, I can look at some of the salary studies I have and give you a better ballpark.

      I can

      1. zora*

        Yes to all of these questions.
        I would have been thrilled to get that high of a salary when working for nonprofits in San Francisco, but I worked for particularly stingy organizations and there’s a reason I sold out to the corporate overlords.

        I will say, I could live pretty comfortably in the SF bay area on $75K per year, but at that salary you will not be able to live in close-in San Francisco, or be able to buy a home, unless you have a partner with a higher salary. (I live in Oakland, and commute to SF and I love it) But also, that is like entry level salary for most tech companies in this area, so you will definitely notice the disparity in lifestyles with a lot of the population.

        1. Gumby*

 is another source you can check for salaries. Normal caveats apply, but they have an Associate Financial Aid Director at $77k and a Financial Aid Director at $106k in SF.

          And yes, at that rate you’ll be making some compromises on your living situation – distance, size, etc. But hey – I’m looking for a roommate and the rent is area-reasonable AND the condo I rent has W/D in the unit! :)

      2. HMM*

        All of the above and also what does other comp look like (time off, benefits, commuter, etc.) It matters significantly in the calculation. If you’re getting paid 75K plus 4 weeks paid vacation, paid sick time, 100% covered medical/dental vision, a commuter stipend that covers monthly transport, 401k match… your total comp could well be near or over $100K, which is a very reasonable for 4 years related experience to the job, in SF or elsewhere.

        At my established SF nonprofit, 75k for director level is more manager-level wages given to folks who have anywhere from 2-4 years of direct experience. We’d expect somewhere close to 7-10 years relevant experience for a Director-level role. And it also depends on your team too – for us, program makes less than operations unless you’re very high up in the chain. Depending on the benefits you very well might be getting a great offer here.

        I don’t want to downplay the fact that SF is very expensive, but just to give some perspective, I lived comfortably on 55k for a while in SF and it was fine. YMMV, of course. I had 2 roommates, lived far from work (but still in the city), and limited discretionary expenses but still felt like I was living a great, full, enjoyable life. I moved from a moderate-COL area in the south, got a job that was marginally more than a COL increase in SF and gave up things that I loved (a car, a bigger house, living alone) in order to live here. It’s sometimes good, sometimes bad – it’s just a different lifestyle. Only you can know whether it’s worth it. The people telling you to do it – or not do it- are coming at it, understandably, based on their own personal filters but can’t answer it for you. All you can do is look at the facts and see if this works for your life, right now.

        The question is the same in middle-of-nowhere Arkansas as it is in SF – what are your expenses relative to your income and what are you willing to give up to get the alternative lifestyle you want?

        1. KAG*

          Don’t move to Arkansas. At some point, you have to consider the value of happiness versus money.

          I live here now, and am saving up to get out.

    6. Natalie*

      Even for an NFP that seems low to me. In February I’m starting a job in the finance team at a midwestern NFP and I’m making 80% of that, in a medium COL city.

      Also, only cost of living increases, no raises ever? That just sucks.

    7. anon as well for this*

      I work for a nonprofit based in New York (granted it is in medical research, not education). I would say my employer is average to slightly lower than average in terms of salaries, and I make in the low 70s as a Senior Manager (which is middle management here). I believe starting salaries for Directors are around 90K for us.

      Unless it is an org where everyone who isn’t entry level is considered a Director that seems pretty low for an org that is able to support offices in both New York and California (we are incorporated in both those states and many, many consultants have told our CEO that they are the two most expensive states to run a nonprofit in).

    8. Lilysparrow*

      My husband had a director-level position at a large religious non-profit in NYC at $80k…

      Ten years ago. And he was below market then.

    9. School Inclusion Specialist*

      It sounds about right from my experience in Boston. Look at glass door and their 990 on guide star. Also, there is an organization in Boston that collects salaries from nonprofits across the state called TSNE. One huge factor I saw when reading the TSNE report was the size of the org. When I was a director at a small non-profit, I was paid $65,000, but this was slightly lower than the average of $68,000 for comparable sized orgs. So if your org is huge, then you might push for a little more. Maybe check out the TNSE website for the data then add 1 or 2% for the cost of living in those cities? Or check out if there is a similar nonprofit in the cities you are looking at.

    10. Anon at the moment*

      Um, yes, this is very low. I live in one of the more priciest areas in the country and make 75K and am barely surviving because of rent. And I’m not a manager (director); either. There is no way I’d move to any of those 3 cities on that salary unless they happened to be easy commuting from a cheaper area (like I could live in NJ and commute to NYC easily enough) or was willing to have roommates. Definitely not San Francisco (where you’d probably have to have 3 roommates).

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        Yea, this sounds more in line with my experience. When I was living in Chicago, I could barely make ends meet on 50K. In the Bay Area – well outside of the city – I was living fine off 70K, but lived over an hour from SF.

        But in SF proper, where rent is double what you’d pay in the greater Bay Area, and x4 what you’d pay in your average city, 75K won’t get you very far if you want to live in or near the city.

    11. Former Ed Nonprofit Worker*

      I think the salary is pretty close to right.

      My experience: From 2012 – 2014 I worked for a national ed nonprofit, in a director-level role. Salaries at this organization were on the high end for our sector. My salary was $75k to start. I was based in a Midwestern city (not Chicago) but was paid at a higher rate than other people at my level in similar COL areas because my role required 50% travel and was therefore less desirable. I had around 10 years of experience going into that role.

      My takeaway for you/why I think the offer is reasonable: While those cities have higher COL than where I lived, it sounds like this role is at a lower level than the role I had (even though they have the same title; I’m guessing your role would have been classified as a manager or coordinator at my organization, just based on your years of experience). A colleague of mine who was based in Connecticut and had a role similar to mine but was less experienced made $65k to start, as a comparison.

      Alllll that being said, that’s a tough salary for those regions, even if it’s an appropriate market rate. :(

    12. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Salaries vary REALLY widely in the nonprofit sector. You’re going have some people telling you it’s really low and others saying it’s on par because there’s just a ton of variation (much more than in other sectors). The question is whether it’s line with what you know you personally can command on the market (and if it’s not, whether you’re willing to work for less than you could otherwise make).

    13. Applesauced*

      Seems low for a director, and especially low for this cities you listed – following the 30%/40x rule, you can afford up to $1875 for rent/housing. That’s doable in those cities, but it won’t be great.

        1. Applesauced*

          Gross! Paying more than 30% of your gross (before taxes) means you are “housing burdened” – and in NYC most landlords require you to make 40x (the math is the same) the monthly rent annually.

    14. Maggie May*

      FYI there are COL calculators that use public data where you can put in what you’re currently making and where and they’ll tell you what a similar lifestyle would cost in other areas.

      I’m in the Midwest, for example, so to move to those places I’d expect a 1.5x to 2x higher salary, but I’m a developer.

    15. Anonymous Educator*

      First of all, $75,000 is not good for San Francisco for a director-level position. Something you have to keep in mind is that there are expensive parts of LA and then more affordable parts of LA. NYC is expensive, but there are more affordable places in New Jersey that are just a half-hour NJ Transit ride into the city. In San Francisco, there are no affordable options nearby. Not Daly City, not Oakland. People are starting to move out to Castro Valley and Livermore. I know folks commuting from Sacramento (I kid you not). The median rent is higher here in SF than it is in NYC.

      Also, you might want to check out the non-profit’s tax returns on ProPublica to see what the top-earners at that non-profit make. If the CEO of ED of the non-profit is making $500,000, you shouldn’t be making $75,000 as a director.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        I have family that used to commute from even further than Sacramento to San Francisco every day as well (they would carpool, so I assume share the driving), so yes, this is not at all unheard of.

      2. zora*

        There are much smaller nonprofits with much lower budgets. I was a Director level as the OP describes and I made $35K. That was a struggle, but there were many nonprofits at a similar level in the area.

      3. Taylor*

        I make ~$75,000, work in the non-profit space, and live in San Francisco. I agree with this assessment – I’m currently job hunting to try and find something that pays enough for me to keep living here. Public transportation in SF is also a lot more expensive than NYC and I spend ~$250/month to get to and from work on the bus and Cal Train. What’s sad is that I honestly find LA cheap in comparison to SF.

    16. Little Bean*

      I’m in education in the SF bay area. When you say it’s a director position, how big is the department that you’re supervising? How many people do you oversee? I am technically a director, but I only supervise 3 people, and I only manage 1 aspect of a small organization. I negotiated the director title as partial compensation for a salary offer that was a little lower than I was seeking. I also know of organizations where literally everyone has some kind of inflated title, and their entry-level positions are titled Assistant Director.

    17. Another Anon Nonprofiter*

      I didn’t end up taking it but – Silicon Valley at a small educational nonprofit as a director and it was just over $70,000, 5 years ago.

    18. Doodle*

      So, the title is director but will you be doing director-type work? Sometimes you get “paid” with a fancier title instead of $.

    19. Llama Wrangler*

      I want to just jump into to echo what Alison said about there being such a huge range of salaries. I’m at a director level title at an education non-profit in one of those cities making substantially less than that, and I know of other people in my field at the same level who are making even less than I am. (We work for organizations with a lot of public funding and consequently a lot of restrictions on salary.) I think only our c-level staff is making in the $70k range. On the other hand, the same job at a different organization that has more foundation or private funding might be 80k+ for director level.

  7. Hawk*

    Should I move my desk? I’ve never worked in an office before, just a cube. I started my new job on Monday and my desk is facing the wall, with a window to my left and the door a little ways to my right. There’s enough room to move it facing the door, but I’m not sure if it would come across as weird/ trying to hide something… I just don’t like people coming up behind me and staring at my computer screen. Most people here have their desk facing the wall. I’m fairly junior, if it matters. Thank!

    1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

      I don’t think that sounds weird or secretive. I think that sounds pretty normal. It’s your office — I say rearrange your furniture however you like!

      1. Ananas*

        You’d think so, but I got some negative reactions once when I put a file cabinet so that it partly blocked my office window…

    2. Four lights*

      I would want it facing the door too. It can be very jarring when someone unexpectedly comes up behind you. I don’t know if in your office people would think it was weird.

    3. Anon because this is slightly identifying*

      I’m moving to a new office soon and my one firm demand is that I will not have my back to the door. This isn’t odd at all.

    4. ISuckAtUserNames*

      Would you end up getting distracted by people walking by all day? Offices at my company are configured for the person’s monitor to be to the right or left of the door, so I think that’s pretty standard.

    5. Anonymous Penguin*

      I’d just run it by your boss, very casually, in a heads up sort of way. “I’m thinking of turning my desk so I can see people when they come in. There shouldn’t be a problem with that, right?” That way maybe you’ll hear “No, you need to have it like that because X,” where X could be “there’s too much glare on the screen” or “it’s the only way to reach the outlets” or “Big Boss prefers to be able to instantly see everyone’s screens.” Or maybe your boss will say, “Sure, need a hand?”

    6. DivineMissL*

      I’ve always turned my desk so that I am facing visitors when they walk in; it’s much more welcoming and friendly, instead of having them walk up behind me and tapping me on the shoulder. Plus, often I”m working on confidential information and I want to keep my computer screen from view anyway. I’ve done this at several jobs, and I found that, once I turned my desk and explained why, many other folks ended up turning their desks around as well. Be a trailblazer!

    7. Murphy*

      I’m easily startled by people coming up behind me, so I’d want it the other way. That’s how everyone around here has theirs, so I think that’s totally normal. I think your company is unusual in that regard.

    8. Triplestep*

      I design places where people work including offices, and here are the things I’d be looking for:

      – Is there a policy from Planning or Facilities Management that allows you to move your furniture or is there a standard?
      – I believe you that it fits, but would you have the proper clearances? You need to meet both building code and ADA standards.
      – Is this a free-standing desk or systems furniture? Is there anything attached to a wall? Even if there is nothing attached to the wall, some desks are “handed” meaning they have one orientation, so it may not work where you want it.
      – Would you be trading one bad situation (people coming up from behind you) for another? Will you be sitting right in front of the door with walkers-by distracting you, making it so your guests need to sit in the door traffic making *them* feel weird, or making it so that your monitor blocks your own view to guests with whom you are trying to talk?
      – Where is the power and data? If you’re moving your desk to a position where the cords won’t reach, someone will need to come and move or add the power/data, and there would be a small price associated with that most likely.

      For what it’s worth, you would be in good company wanting to move your desk because you don’t like people coming up from behind – that’s a complaint I hear a lot. So I don’t think you’ll look like you’re trying to hide anything. But if most people have their desk a certain way, there may be a reason for that, and it might be related to one of my bullet points above. Since you’re so new, maybe wait a bit before asking to move anything (and yes, you should ask to see if there’s a policy around it.) I get a lot of complaints when people first move into a space; often they don’t immediately see the reasons why things are arranged the way they are and there very will could be a reason. Other times they acclimate, either to a design that was well thought out (only they didn’t know it) or to a configuration that is not optimal.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        Building code and ADA requirements are a huge problem in office space and exam rooms in my building. It’s surprising what you can’t do.

    9. Hooray College Football*

      One issue that I have had in the past – sometimes the glare from the window light can make it hard to see your screen. I have a desk facing the door (that I use more for client meetings than work), and a computer credenza facing the wall. I still get some glare, but have blinds to minimize the worst of it. Just something to consider.

    10. Annie Moose*

      Do other people in your offices have their desks facing different directions? I used to work in an office where cube layouts were very standardized and moving your desk wasn’t really an option unless you had a specific need. If you’re unclear, I agree that running it by your manager would be a good idea.

    11. kittymommy*

      Yeah, I’d want to face the door, but I’m also one of those people who has to face the door wherever I go (back to a wall, not blocked in). The only thing I would also check is that when/if you do that make sure your computer doesn’t have a glare or their or blinds for the window.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Lots of people hate being creeped up on! I sure do. I’ve never had my back towards my door, that’s so odd.

    13. Kelly AF*

      The mandatory security training we have at work actually specifies that computer screens should not be visible to doors/windows. I do work in a bank, but I think it’s totally normal to not want your screen visible at a casual glance regardless of where you work.

    14. Chatty Katy*

      Push it away from the wall and rotate it 180 degrees, so it is in the same spot, just facing out.

    15. Eccentric Smurf*

      If you ever work with confidential information like PII or financial data, then moving your desk would actually be a very good idea.

    16. Ann O'Nemity*

      I’d move it, and if questioned about it I’d say I was following feng shui philosophy. Position your desk so that you are in command of the room and don’t allow for things to happen “behind your back.”

    17. Wishing You Well*

      If you can’t move your desk, try placing a mirror or any reflective object that lets you see people coming up behind you. Moving your desk is simplest, though. You could also put a glare hood over your monitor to help prevent people from seeing what you’re working on.
      Hope you find a solution soon.

    18. epi*

      Lots of people don’t like to have their back to the door or hallway– it’s a pretty normal request. I had to bring it up at my very first job and was super nervous, but it turned out my boss was totally sympathetic and had his own stories about being startled or even having people openly trying to look at his screen while they spoke to him. I think most people also know it’s tough to work in an open office or cubicle, and little things like this make it easier to concentrate and feel less exposed. It wasn’t possible to move the desk I had at that job, but my boss ordered me a privacy screen for my monitor. That might be another thing to consider if you’re told your desk can’t be moved.

      I would run it by your boss just in case there are any relevant polices you’re not aware of, such as concerns about you moving your computer yourself.

    19. Admin of Sys*

      Desk rearrangement is very common when folks get a new office, but check in with facilities and IT before you start dragging furniture around. There might be limitations on electricity or layout based on where the outlets are.

    20. CM*

      I don’t think it should be a problem socially, but there might be something about the furniture or the IT setup that prevents it from being moved. If your office has as office manager and/or an IT manager, I would probably talk to those people to make sure there isn’t a physical reason why you can’t have your desk moved. If your office is too small to have those managers, I’d ask the admin staff whether there’s any reason you can’t move your desk. If something bad has happened in the past, they would know.

    21. ISuckAtUserNames*

      Am I reading this wrong? I’m reading that the desk doesn’t have Hawk sitting with their back to the door, but with their back perpendicular to the door. Is that right?

      It’s not really possible in most normal-sized offices for someone to creep up behind you if the door is to your right, but people may see your screen, obviously, if they approach your right side and your monitor is facing you or at all canted toward the door. If your company doesn’t allow you to move your desk or monitors, you can always order privacy screens to prevent casual snooping.

      1. Hawk*

        Yes, I maybe wasn’t quite clear enough- the door is to my right but offset from the desk. Imagine looking at a square- my desk faces the wall at the top right, but the door is at the bottom left, so everyone approaches from behind me and to the right, which is almost worse than if it was directly behind me.

        1. JulieCanCan*

          I’d ask if it was OK but in a “I’m doing this because of _____(good reason) and _____(good reason), please let me know if there’s anything I should know before proceeding” way.

          I can’t stand having my screen open for all to see even though it’s only displaying work related information – it’s just an awkward feeling of always thinking someone is behind you.

    22. Jaid_Diah*

      If you can’t change your position, put a mirror on your desk or the wall so you can at least see who’s approaching behind you.

    23. Argh!*

      The first thing I did on my job is exactly what you’re asking about, and I have never moved it from that position again. If your workplace is so stuck-up that you can’t have your own office the way you want it, start working on your resume ASAP!

  8. Sunflower*

    My self esteem is in the gutter right now after. I was passed over for a promotion for the second time this year yet i keep receiving higher level work and rave reviews with no complaints from the ppl I support. I can’t help but feel like I’m being taken advantage of and gaslighted by my company. It’s hard for me to not let this feeling carry over outside of work and I’m looking for advice on how to feel better both in and outside of work while I try to get out of this place.

    My managers position has been a revolving door so my reviews have been done by my grand boss who I don’t work closely with. I was blindsided when she said she didn’t think I was ready for a promotion last month after telling me 6 months ago that I was working above my title. Her and my new boss(who has only been here 2 months) then assigned me one of the biggest projects our team handles. When I said that grand boss told me a month before that this project should be handled by my manager due to the size and complexity, she didn’t remember that conversation and went on to contradict many things she had told me only a month prior. I was told I’d be given a formal promotion plan and I am still waiting for that despite my requests to see something. I am told I am so close to a promotion yet I am given vague steps to take. When I asked why Grand Boss didn’t feel I was ready, she cited one time I didn’t respond to an email but had nothing else to say.

    This is made harder by seeing other ppl in my dept promoted at the drop of a hat- I’ve worked my tail off while my manager’s roles have been vacant and it’s painful to see other people be advocated for and given promotions just because they asked. The people I support on these projects who give feedback to my managers have all agreed I am working far beyond my title and are upset that I haven’t been promoted. My team is hiring for a position a few levels above mine- I know they want someone with different experience than me(which I understand) but I’m tempted to apply so they have to make some sort of formal recognition that I am wanting to be promoted.

    I feel like an idiot coming to work everyday and continuing to work hard and care. I feel worse because this complaining makes me feel like an immature baby but I don’t how else to make it clear how unhappy I am. My new boss seems great and I know she thinks I deserve this promotion but shes got a boatload of other issues (like she doesn’t get along with grand boss) so I understand why this isn’t a priority. I know other ppl have gone through this but I’m having a hard time not taking all of it personally.

    1. Not Maeby*

      This rings so true with me in my work situation as well. It sucks. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this; it is so demoralizing to go through this sort of thing. I’ll be following to see if anyone has suggestions, but I’ve basically resigned myself to just getting by until I can get out.

    2. A person*

      Did you actually apply for these other positions or just take someone’s word you weren’t ready? It sounds like you didn’t apply for these other positions and want to apply for this one to make a statement. You should put in an application for any position you want instead of trusting management (especially revolving management) will take care of you when they think they are “ready”.

      1. A person*

        Adding, if you formally apply for several promotions and are continually rejected that’s a good sign to start applying elsewhere. Don’t get bitter over it, take your skills somewhere they’ll be appreciated.

      2. Sunflower*

        In my dept, a position doesn’t need to open up for you to be promoted. I’d say only about 5% of folks who are promoted do so by applying to an open position. 95% of them are promoted to a higher level from their current position after they ‘prove’ they are working above their title. This new position is the first time an actual position has been open on my team. I was assured 2 years ago that a promotion of this same sorts was possible for me and a position would not need to open up for me to be promoted- given I perform well, etc.

    3. WhoKnows*

      I know this is almost impossible to do (because it sounds like we are similar), but you need to try to be less emotionally attached to your work and to your workplace. Otherwise, everything is going to start feeling like a slight from the higher-ups. I am in the process of trying to do this now and it is helping a bit with my overall mood and outlook on life. I was letting work issues bleed into everything, because I associate my perceived value at work with my overall self-worth.

      The second thing I would do is start job-searching and interviewing right now. And then, follow-through with leaving if you get an offer you want to accept. This place may freak out and give you a counter offer when they realize they might lose you, but if you accept it, you are going to end up right back where you are now in no time. It might seem scary to leave somewhere and start somewhere new, but it will be worth it in the long run.

      1. CatCat*

        Well said, WhoKnows!

        Sunflower, it sounds like you’re really frustrated, but since you’ve got the actual higher level of experience, that positions you nicely for searching for a new position at another employer that will higher you into that role (with the commensurate title and compensation).

        I have also been shot down my management when I raised something I needed to continue with the team, only to have the same manager then try to scramble to fix the problem when I put in my notice. I just said, “Yeah, no. The time to address the problem was when I raised it.” I did not trust them to actually follow through with any promises at that point and I had a bird in the hand that I wasn’t going to give up on some unearned faith that anything would actually be fixed. It was 100% the right call and moving on was good for me professionally and for my own personal well-being.

        Explore your options and leverage your experience into getting the promotion you want with an employer that is actually interested in giving it to you.

        1. Nessun*

          100% agree. When I asked for input on how to move up and was told repeatedly there was nothing available (despite glowing reviews and previous “hints”), I took it as a sign – they’re happy with the work you do, but not bothered about moving you up, so it’s time to look outwards. And in the short term, there are excellent projects and high-level work that will look great on a resume and speak volumes for your skills in an interview! Leverage what you can where you are, then find people who appreciate that skill set fully.

    4. Autumnheart*

      From my perspective, it sounds like your grandboss is telling you fairy tales so that you keep producing higher-level work for lower-level pay and title. It’s been 6 months, other people have been promoted in that time, you’ve been told contradictory things and not given appropriate guidance while also having your work reviewed highly and assured that you *deserve* the promotion you keep not getting. In your place, I’d feel like this is how they plan to proceed while obviously not intending to promote you (and giving extremely flimsy justifications for it–not responding to one email? Really?). Your grandboss doesn’t sound like a very good manager, if she’s willing to sandbag a high-performing employee in order to accomplish…who knows what, and can’t keep the manager position filled either.

      I would use this time to perform as well as you can on that big project, documenting every one of your achievements and what y0u did, and use that as fodder for your job search. If your grandboss can’t see her way clear to value a high-performing employee, someone else sure as heck will.

    5. LQ*

      Feeling like you’re not being recognized for the work you do is really hard. I don’t think it’s immature at all. I’ve been feeling this a lot lately too. I get (somewhat) why my boss hasn’t promoted me yet. But I’m also pissed off because I know I’m doing way more, and more managerial, work than the rest of the managers save one. And watching them truck along like lululu and not doing the shit they need to do, meanwhile I’m really making a difference and making changes and doing the work they haven’t done? It is really hard to not take it personally. I think making it a decision to stay or start to work on going helps, but not that much.

      I get you. It feels so personal. (Do you have other people who mistake you for that promoted role? That’s the worst for me. I have to correct them, “No, I’m not worthy of that role.” Just feels SO shitty.) You are not alone!

    6. Working with professionals*

      It helps to reframe what you are experiencing. Yes, it sucks to get cotton candy promises that fade when you ask for hard time frames and specific activities to get the promotion. Make a list of all the things you like about your company/position, for instance is the time off generous? Are they flexible when you have personal emergencies? Is the work something you enjoy? Think about your work/life balance and ask yourself if the positive are worth dealing with the negative. Do some research on your industry/job to see if moving companies is somewhat the norm to move up. In my job type quite often you have to move companies to move up because there aren’t many internal openings and quite frankly the core company doesn’t value retaining people in my job title as highly as other jobs in the company. In my case I’ve been asking about a promotion for three years, been told I qualify but that it won’t be happening because of budget. They were honest that there’s no timeline for changing the situation and they didn’t give me hoops to jump through just so I could jump. Give yourself a break and realize this is really important to you and not so important to the company which makes their behavior frustrate you so much. Let that part go, don’t judge your career path by what you see happening with other people – that will just make you bonkers. If you aren’t getting where you want to inside your current company and the positives of your job no longer meet your needs or career plans, polish that resume and take all the experience you’ve gained and go search out a new job with new opportunities. Good luck with whatever you decide!

    7. only acting normal*

      You are me 8 years ago*, and the situation won’t change until your grandboss moves on… or you do.

      * Grandboss saying I was working way above my level, dangling promotion as a carrot to take on challenging projects, then blocking it repeatedly when it came to the crunch with BS reasons. Everyone around me thinking I already was, or saying I should be, one or two levels senior to what I was. A couple of complete wastes-of-space being promoted above me by grandboss (and people coming to me to state their horror that the wastes-of-space had been promoted and I hadn’t). New boss trying and failing to change the situation. Finally grandboss moved role and new grandboss promoted me no bother… except I’d already been driven to a nervous breakdown by then.

      Don’t be me. Don’t be gaslit. Don’t keep working yourself harder and harder for no reward, and definitely not until you break. Do start considering promotion *outside* the team/department/company.

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      Sounds like my old job. I did finally get promoted and they 100% set me up to fail. After 2 not great reviews that could be directly attributed to issues on their end not mine that I was given blame for (never back filled old role so still expected me to do that role plus the new role which was impossible) I left for a better job. Better title. better pay, better work/life balance, and a much better environment.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I get the sinking feeling their torpedoing you because they want you there in the role you’re in. They’re paying you less and getting the workload of a higher waged person. This is a sick trap a lot of people who have your killer work ethic fall into.

      You have to assume you won’t be promoted now. They’re liars. Please look to go to another department if possible. Your grand boss sounds like the problem.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I so agree. The thing that tipped me off is the back-pedaling, denying that she had said positives previously. She is not trust worthy. If an employee is doing a great job, you don’t suddenly forget that. You know who is working and who isn’t.
        People who are going to promote an employee act a certain way. This person has NO intention of promoting you. Listen to your gut.

        On the plus side, take all these projects that are above your pay scale and use them on your resume to show what a superstar you are.
        Please do not stay there until you get sick, because this is the typical situation that makes people physically ill.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


          I know some will say to just stop doing higher level work you’re not being paid properly to do. However my experience is doing it with the intention to leave and have it on your resume is a huge payoff.

          Each job I’ve moved into has paid me considerably more because of my experience doing things I wasn’t necessarily paid for in my last position.

          If you have no intention to look for another job though, then I would vote to scale back on what you take on.

    10. mr. brightside*

      At this point, I’d be taking it personally, too.

      Assume you don’t get promoted. Ever. How much longer are you willing to work here? It sounds like there’s issues beyond them having you do the work of a higher-level person without giving you the salary for it. How much longer do you want to do this? Five weeks, five months, five years?

    11. Chatty Katy*

      Is a lateral transfer possible? If you like the company, it may be worth moving sideways to get a path upwards.

    12. Gatomon*

      Sounds like it is time to move on then. I understand how frustrating it is, having gone through a similar situation (and watched a well-qualified colleague go through it at another job). There may or may not be some reason they won’t promote you, but it sounds like if there is one, they aren’t willing to share. Sometimes teams need a highly-skilled person to keep things moving, especially when they tend to be feeder roles to higher-level jobs. Unfortunately, instead of locating someone who isn’t interested in moving up and letting them assume that perma-role, sometimes management decides to designate someone to fill that spot, hoping they will continue to stick around if they keep stringing them along. I knew someone who waited over a decade to get promoted — please don’t do that to yourself!

      In the meantime, focus your energy on finding a new job and enhancing your skills. Detach as much as you can from your current role without harming your output. Try working on documentation in preparation for moving on if you’re feeling really down. It’s okay to step back and do a good job instead of an outstanding one and redirect those extra energies towards finding a place that will appreciate you more.

    13. designbot*

      I can only offer solidarity. I came in at one level, busted my but and got promoted to the level I really wanted to be at… only to have our company restructure a year later and be gaslighted by my grandbosses. They claim they were promoting me, but I promise you if you looked at the titles it would read as a demotion. Plus someone who used to be above me in hierarchy but have no supervisory role is now my direct boss, and quite frankly he is awful. I do a lot of his supervisory work to keep the department running, and it’s a trap. If I do it well, I’m just supporting the boss and being a team player (i.e. I get no substantial credit for working beyond my role) and if I drop it, then I’m viewed as a petulant child. Either way, it goes unacknowledged that he refuses to actually do the job, and I’ve proved myself fully capable of it. Meanwhile I get glowing reviews and nobody acknowledges that they effectively demoted me. I’m having a horrible time not being all up in my head about it pretty much constantly.

    14. K.Rae*

      I totally feel you. This was my exact situation about a year ago. Grandboss would never give me straight answers despite me asking what I needed to do to get promoted. I had great reviews from my boss, my coworkers and the business areas I supported. I was doing the same, if not more advanced, work as other people in the higher level. In the time I asked about promotion to when I ultimately left, no less than 5 positions on the team were newly created at that level. Throughout the whole time, my direct manager advocated hard for me to get promoted, but she had many other ongoing issues with the Grandboss. I ended up leaving for much greener pastures (better work, better pay/benefits, better work/life balance, etc.).

      Like someone said above, upon reflection, I was too emotionally invested in the work. Embarrassingly, I cried out of frustration a couple of times in front of my manager (who I’m still close to) including when I gave my notice. I was definitely burnt out, and I think I’m still recovering from it.

      I would tell you, if it’s possible, to look elsewhere instead of spinning your wheels in this position. Your job is a business transaction despite what some companies may say by calling everyone a family. If they can drop you at any time, then you should reserve the same right. It sounds like you’ve advocated for yourself as well as you can, but if your Grandboss hasn’t done anything already, they probably don’t want to and never will.

      I hope everything works out for you. It really sucks when you’re being taken advantage of. Hope to read a good update from you soon.

    15. JGray*

      I’m in the same boat. I worked two positions for 11 months (I had been promoted so was working new job and old job) and I feel like all I’ve gotten from all my hard work is crapped on. It really sucks to be in this situation. So what I have been able to do is I am only going to do the things in my job description. I am not going to go above & beyond anymore because it’s not recognized so I am going to stay in my lane. If you think that nothing will change I would suggest looking around at other jobs. Looking around will let you know what is out there because perhaps there is a different job you could get that would be a step up. This is what I am doing. I am at the point where I don’t want to stay where I’m not appreciated or wanted (both of these is how I am feeling at this current job).

    16. Gumby*

      It sounds like you have managed to make yourself indispensable and the people with the decision making powers fear that if they promote you they will be left in a bad situation. I don’t necessarily think that it is deliberate – in the sense that I doubt your grand boss is in the back rubbing her hands together cackling about getting more work for less pay and how long can she string you along. More likely every time a promotion comes up she balks because: “Sunflower does so much we couldn’t possibly function without her!” It’s, extremely short-sighted though, sadly, not uncommon.

      Although it might come down to leaving to find another organization, it also might help within this org. if you can remove barriers to the replacing you part of the equation – make sure there is no task that you are the *only* person able to complete, perhaps start training someone a level or two behind you on some of your work, etc.

    17. CM*

      It’s really hard to know what to do in a situation where you’re not being treated fairly, because part of you wants justice and part of you wants to minimize the impact the unfairness is having on your mental health and quality of life. It isn’t always possible to do the two things at once, since seeking justice means doubling down on the unfairness and making it your main focus, whereas minimizing the impact usually means pulling away.

      Since you asked about how to stop letting this impact you so much while you look for another job, my advice is to focus on strategies that let you pull away. It doesn’t feel fair to keep working so hard when you aren’t rewarded in the same way others are… so don’t. Work about as much as feels fair in exchange for what they’re rewarding you with. Stop caring how that impacts your chance of promotion or the reviews you get, because you’re not trying to get promoted there anymore; you’re trying to minimize how much it bugs you until you leave. Write a secret note to yourself that you keep in your pocket or somewhere you can get it easily that reminds you this place isn’t worth your caring anymore and you need to step back.

      The most important thing, though, is to mentally cut yourself off from the idea that you’ll ever get justice, or that things will change if you hang in there long enough. Decide that it doesn’t matter if things change later, because it’s too late. They missed their chance to do right by you, and now it’s done.

    18. Always the bridesmaid*

      I don’t have a lot of advice but I can commiserate. I’ve worked above my title for years. I recently applied for promotion only to watch an outsider get the job, who I now have to train. I think it’s a situation that administration believes I won’t leave and knows I will work hard, even beyond my level, because I care about our customers so much, so why would they pay me more? It’s hard to remain positive and not be cynical. I think it’s worth it to think about moving on for your health or if that’s not possible, to examine why you work as hard as you do for this company that doesn’t appreciate it? For me, it’s the customers. I work for them, not my idiot boss.

    19. Anagram*

      I’m finding myself in a similar situation, plus I’m more or less tied to my current employer due to visa issues.
      I’ve been formally promoted to a new title with a comment along the line of “we’ll see how you do and reconsider your payment in half a year” (it’s a typical approach here, unfortunately). Now, I got a great review, but no salary increase, despite meeting the initially stated requirements (which I had to wrangle from my boss back then). The explanation for that was something entirely different to what we talked about six months prior!
      So I have double the responsibility, triple the workload, and the same pay… Plus my boss is a rather obvious manipulator and makes attempts at gasliting pretty often.
      I’m planning a big talk with specifics and numbers in the coming two months, because I’ve already survived a burnout and am not willing to have my overall burden increased with zero compensation. Ugh…

  9. Lyman Zerga*

    Where do you draw the line on internet browsing at work?

    In my workplace, it is considered totally fair game to use the internet for non-work functions during working hours. (For example, I often see some of our biggest directors on Facebook or checking their hobby websites.) Of course, we’re subject to the usual rules (no illegal downloads or streaming, no NSFW categories, etc.), and naturally we are responsible for managing our own time as long as our work gets done.

    But I still seem to have my own subconscious standards for what is and is not acceptable. I’m curious what standards others have set for themselves (separate from the standards set by their employers).

    For example, I’m totally at ease with:
    -Ask a Manager (obviously)
    -professional resources (my favorite Llama Herding bloggers, their Twitter feeds, etc.)
    -news websites
    -forums about my hobby (very vanilla, not something “intriguing” like burlesque)

    For some reason, I draw a line at:
    -Reddit (maybe because there is a risk of seeing NSFW content/too many risky clicks?)
    -shopping (not to say I’ve never bought a pair of shoes during the workday, but I keep it to a minimum)
    -social media for non-work things (I never get on my own Facebook at work, although I see my coworkers–most of whom are more tenured than me and have good judgment–on there all the time)

    I’m curious to hear what other “rules” my fellow AAM readers have created for themselves!

    1. ragazza*

      I wouldn’t look at anything sexytime-related or a site with other questionable content (extreme horror, etc). That’s about it. TBH I am online a lot at work but that’s partly because I am a writer and I can’t sit there and stare at a blank page all the time. I’ll write a little, browse a little, write a little. It works for me. However, if you know or suspect your company is monitoring your internet use, that’s another story.

    2. LCL*

      We’re not forbidden from browsing, yet.
      I limit myself to news sites, ask a manager, and technical related searches. I will go to Youtube if a link comes up on a technical search, but I don’t start by going to the site, so I will stay focused and not distracted. I never go to reddit on a work computer.
      I am not active on facebook, and don’t have a twitter account, so that’s not an issue.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        +1 to this (news, AAM, work related), except I do have a FB account, but I won’t access it from work.

    3. Kramerica Industries*

      Tbh, I only browse Ask A Manager when there’s no one else around…I’m nervous people who don’t know what the site is will assume I’m only on here to look for job hunting advice! I don’t use social media at work because there’s too high of a chance that something weird will pop up.

      1. Just Employed Here*

        And a lot of us *are* here (also) for the job hunting advice.

        Plus, I don’t want coworkers (not even the annoying one) to see the headlines, in case the headline that day happens to be “What can I do about my annoying coworker?”. They don’t know I read pretty much every post here, so they might think I actually googled that sentence. Or even worse, that I googled it and *wanted* them to see I did it.

    4. Lupin Lady*

      My ‘rules’ are similar to yours. I don’t really visit forums often unless they relate to a search I’m doing for work, but sometimes I’ll search for info on current news events I’m interested in. I’m also fine with, say, googling my chiropractor’s phone number because in 3 years I’ve never saved their phone number to my phone and I need to make an appointment.

      I’ll allow myself to research interesting topics if they’re remotely related to finance, even if they have no intersection with my finance-type job. I will occasionally go on LinkedIn briefly, but Facebook I keep on my phone for lunch breaks.

    5. Murphy*

      I often am not busy enough, and there’s only so much work I can make for myself…as long as it’s nothing inappropriate, I generally go for it.

      1. Goya de la Mancha*

        Same. I’m online a lot…a lot a lot. There isn’t a lot I don’t do – outside of the standard NSFW type stuff. Sometimes it’s a full day of googling ideas for layouts/pictures/etc., others it’s a few hours of buzzfeed quizzes.

        That being said, my work is always done and is priority #1.

        1. Catleesi*

          Same here. I spend A LOT of time browsing the internet. Planning vacation, looking for recipes, reading blogs, I’d say most of my day is taken up by it. Work comes first but that doesn’t take up much of my time.

          I’d rather be doing work to be honest.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yeah. I used to care if I was obviously on a “fun” site, but I gave up. You wanted an open floor plan, you got it, buddy.

    6. GoodDawn*

      I use my phone to browse for anything at work with the exception of food delivery/pick up orders. I watch others do all sorts of stuff, BUT I’m not giving the company any reason to bring up what I do on company time. It’s been my experience that IT only looks at your history after they have cause (iow, they’re looking for a reason to write you up/fire you), but why give them any ammo at all?

      1. Spreadsheets*

        Agreed! I also make sure I hop off of the company WiFi for anything job-search related. Sometimes I want to review a job description or something real quick and I definitely don’t want that to be a reason for my employer to kick me to the curb.

    7. JokeyJules*

      I always avoid anything NSFW or a personal topic (grooming, skincare, etc) at work. But how much I browse or what I’m browsing mostly depends on my workload. A lot of us will have netflix, music, or a podcast on in the background, but it’s always something safe like The Office, nothing too crazy NSFW for music, or NPR or a cooking podcast. If I’m having a particularly light workload that day, I don’t feel weird comparing products or prices for things I need, and I know other coworkers are on Facebook. I go on AAM or Refinery 29 (not all articles but I love the money diaries!!) mostly.
      The general consensus is nothing that is inappropriate or makes others uncomfortable, and nothing too distracting for others.

    8. Totally Minnie*

      I’ve had coworkers who lost their jobs for dating sites, gambling sites, and stock market activity, in addition to the things you’ve listed. So those things should definitely go on the “don’t” list.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Why stock market activity? Do you work for a financial agency or one where conflicts of interest might be an issue?
        (It’s not something I’d think of as being problematic, in most cases, and I’m curious as to whether that’s me overlooking something obvious, or if it is more specific to your type of work),

        1. Totally Minnie*

          I work for a government agency, so an employee working to increase their personal wealth using government computers/bandwidth while on the clock is a no-no.

          1. Doc in a Box*

            Aren’t they increasing their personal wealth every time they get a paycheck? (Shutdowns notwithstanding.)

            I used to work at a VA so I get that rules around what can/can’t be done are often more about optics than real risk of harm, but I never realized that checking my retirement portfolio or pay statements (which could ONLY be accessed from a government computer) was a no-no.

    9. Excel Wizard*

      I am okay with browsing Ask A Manager at work, although I try and make sure no one sees me doing so. Other than that, I try and not be on the internet at all unless it is work related. Although I know others browse news sites, Groupon, personal emails, and do some Amazon shopping throughout the day. All of which is not a problem (for our work environment) at all.

    10. Squeeble*

      I also avoid Reddit and I try to avoid social media generally, although I often break down when it comes to Twitter. Sites that I think are okay are AAM and other advice columns, real estate sites like Zillow, and Apartment Therapy. If an advice column has a particularly racy headline one day, though, I usually avoid it because I don’t want that showing up on the back end…

    11. DaniCalifornia*

      No one can really see my screen but it seems that in my small office, it’s normal to browse appropriate websites that include social media, shopping. Esp on lunch. I often eat lunch at my desk and I’ve never worried about if someone walks by and sees me on facebook.

      I do browse Reddit but I have the NSFW posts disabled/hidden so no images appear unless you actually click on the link itself.

    12. JHunz*

      I reddit at work, but some of it is work-related answering tech support questions on the company sub. It’s hard to imagine a more casual office environment than this one, though. Half of my team is watching AGDQ runs on their second monitors this week while they work.

    13. it_guy*

      I hate to admit it, but I’m a youtube junky. I’ll have something going on in the background while I’m working on something that takes minimal thought.

      1. Nessun*

        I work in an open concept office, and YouTube is sometimes my savior. Can’t handle the noise (or can’t handle the quiet) – pop on a video and pick my poison. As long as no one else can hear it through my headphones, the choices are wide open. And luckily no one can come up behind me, since I sit at a window.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I use social media on my phone. I stick to “reading” on my work PC but if I’m going to comment places, usually done on my phone

      I do shop infrequently if I know what I want. I also did all my change of address stuff on my work computer since it’s easier than a mobile device. I read the news and SFW blogs.

      But tbh that’s me outside of work too.

    15. Anonymeece*

      I’ll admit to sneaking onto Buzzfeed occasionally. It’s not a huge deal in my office – the front desk actually usually watches Netflix – but occasionally I’ll accidentally click on something that turns out to be NSFW and am terrified our IT is going to flag me. So far not yet, but it remains a fear of mine!

    16. Eccentric Smurf*

      I never use the Internet for non-work stuff unless I’m on lunch. During lunch, I might browse the news or blogs/articles related to my area of expertise. Any browsing that’s purely social or personal (related to hobbies and such) I do from home.

    17. Not worth it*

      It depends on what level you are at your company. If you are low on the totem pole no internet unless its for work, and even then be wary. If you are mid level then news sites, and professional resources. If you are high level anything is open.

      Forums, blogs, shopping, social media are usually a no go because they are a scammer/hackers easy way into the system and if/when management changes they change what your allowed to use the internet for but your internet history is always there. If its not for work use your phone internet, its really not worth being written up or fired to be on the internet.

    18. Susan*

      My barrier is low – I browse most things freely. Of course I WFH, so no one to see the computer IRL – but I know at any time they could look at my history. No porn (of course), no social media (too afraid that I would leave myself logged on), but I do browse/shop. And my company culture is such that we share links in slack to news articles, dog + cat pictures, etc. openly – so folks know we look. A few years ago I found out that Netflix was a large part of the network traffic – might even have been the majority – in the main office of my company, which shocked the heck out of me.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Conversely, I work from home and do absolutely NO personal anything on my work computer — because I have two personal computers, a tablet and my phone all within arms reach. :)

    19. MissDisplaced*

      Totally OK:
      -Professional resources, industry news, research sites, webinars, and social media IF social media is your job. (I work in communications so I actually am on social a lot because I’m supposed to be).
      -Web-based work software for website creation, email, etc.
      -Stock photo sites or necessary work resources
      -YouTube if you need a How-To video for work purposes

      Ok in quick bursts if you must: though most of this is done on your mobile phone.
      -personal banking
      -quick shopping/ordering
      -paying a bill
      -chats like WhatsApp, Jabber, etc if not work related
      -winning/paying for an Ebay auction
      -lunch delivery
      -checking news or your social quickly or during your lunch break

      Not ok:
      -porn or questionable pay sites
      -chat boards like Reddit (because of hacking)
      -purchasing from questionable websites
      -writing your blog
      -playing games
      -downloading questionable things
      -applying for jobs
      -chatting all day via IM
      -working on freelance jobs
      -visiting off-color websites or political propaganda websites
      -watching movies or videos not work related
      -BitTorrent websites

      Basically, remember this: Big Corporate Brother is watching.
      Will they care about a 10 minute shoe and clothing purchase from Zulily? Probably not.
      But I guarantee your IT department will visit you if you’ve downloaded terrabytes from The Pirate Bay.

      1. SJ*

        “chat boards like Reddit (because of hacking)”

        The number of people in this thread who have no clue how Reddit works is staggering.

    20. Ursula*

      I use pretty much the same rules you do. Some of the news sites I frequent (the Gizmodo Media Group sites, Slate) have absolutely no problem reporting on risque topics, so sometimes I worry, “if IT happened to look at that headline, would I get in trouble?” but it hasn’t happened yet. I love advice columns (obviously) and sometimes their headlines are…. extremely problematic. But I figure if I did ever get in trouble, being able to point out that they’re all well-known news sites would probably help in my defense.

    21. kittymommy*

      I tend to go by the idea that if its a sight that I can justify going to for my job, then it’s fine to go for it for personal stuff. So Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin are fine. I’ll do some “window” shopping for myself (Amazon, department stores) but I’ll wait to purchase. I have very rarely had to use my personal email for work, so I’ll check that. Reddit, online forums, are a no. Too risky for what might pop up in the images.

      Sometimes I don’t think I should worry too much about it. In a previous position w/same company I had to google some medical diseases/injuries. If I can pull those up , anything I do now should be cake.

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My job sometimes has a lot of what I call “hurry up and wait”–those times when I am tied to a hot project and don’t want to start something new because I know it will be interrupted in 5 or 15 minutes. I will let myself refresh my brain by reading things unrelated to what I do in the real world, or looking at beautiful photos. That way I’m ready to go when I get the word.
      The biggest thing I’ve learned is I can’t read the comment sections of most social media sites. That’s one reason I really appreciate this page. Because Alison moderates it so carefully, I can read the comments section without worrying that I am going to stumble across nastiness that will make me unproductive the rest of the day!

      1. Windchime*

        I also have a lot of “hurry up and wait” spells during my day. Like running a report that will take 4 minutes; it’s not really long enough to start something else. So I’ll check the news while I wait. I read AAM while I eat my lunch, but I do that on my phone. Other than that, I strictly use the internet for work stuff while I’m working. I work for a state agency and we are not supposed to use state resources for personal business. I know some people stream music on their work computer but I avoid that; if I want to listen to music or a podcast, I use my phone.

    23. Hannah*

      I think it really depends on what your job is.

      For example, in my position, my work is 100% “get stuff done on a computer” work. I NEVER don’t have anything to do. So I would say, anything that makes it clear you are spending more than a couple of minutes, like something really in-depth to read, or a game, or watching netflix.

      But at my last job, some of my job was considered “coverage” where sometimes I didn’t have much to do, and I did sometimes play games or read longer things.

      Also be careful what ads you are likely to get! Once I was bra shopping off the clock, and the next day my browser was filled with women wearing only their bras! ACK. Had to shut those ads down real quick. Lol.

    24. Former Retail Manager*

      Interestingly, the only sites I ever really visit at work are AAM, Amazon, and a plethora of women’s clothing and shoe sites. As long as it’s clearly not inappropriate content, I see no issue with what you’re browsing. My own personal rule is more related to the amount of time I spend. I get two 15 minute breaks each day, so I make an effort to not exceed that amount of time. All that said, I know for a fact that my boss loves news sites (tons of them), the occasional funny animal YouTube video, and does stuff on websites related to personal stuff (like paying his daughter’s college tuition.) Again, I think time vs. content is the more relevant issue.

    25. Marion Ravenwood*

      I work in comms, so I use the internet quite a lot for research or to find stories for our social media feeds/jumping off points for blogs or articles. In terms of personal internet use, I only really do that on my lunch break or if there really isn’t anything else I can be doing. (It goes without saying that work is always the priority and I won’t be online if there’s other things I can be doing, or if a new task comes in.)

      The sites I tend to visit are things like AAM, news sites (mainly the Guardian), a bit of personal email/social media – though not my side hustle emails which I check and reply to on my phone – and occasionally some shopping if it’s going to be quick and/or urgent. Sometimes I’ll watch YouTube on my lunch break as well if someone I follow has a new video up. I’ll also do things like use Google Maps to look up where something is if I’m going out after work, and use office wifi to listen to Spotify on my phone if I’m doing a task that suits.

      I think for me that (unless it’s my lunch break) a lot of it is about timing. I feel five minutes here and there is considered a lot more acceptable than an hour-long block outside the ‘typical’ lunch period, even if you’re doing the latter and then working the rest of the day.

  10. Amber Rose*

    As promised, here is a picture of my new work friend the cardboard deer head. I’m not sure what his name is yet, but I am sure he needs googly eyes and a bow tie. Click my name for the picture.

    I’m so glad my boss let me put him up here, he’s way too tacky for home.

    In other news, we’re attempting an actual reporting structure in a company that never had one and people are being absolute babies about it. I get not loving change, but other companies are not gonna be any better, so what are they hoping to accomplish by being insubordinate?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      Totally not what I was expecting, but I like it.

      My home office has 2 real deer mounts in it. One used to live at my son’s apartment and wore sunglasses, Mardi Gras beads, and a trucker hat. He’s just au natureal now.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      I feel you about the reporting structure, I’m in a similar situation. It’s exhausting trying to change a company culture in that way.

      I love the deer head!

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s a lot of posturing. People who have been here since the cowboy days and managed their own work are not happy about being assigned managers and are resisting any kind of management because they have seniority and ugh. It’s just ridiculous.

        I wanna call him Steve. Is it too cliche?

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          No! Steve was actually my first thought for his name. (Though I’m biased because it’s a bit of a running joke amongst a certain group of my friends…)

      2. MountainBikingVampireWitch*

        I love your name. I thought Trixie and Katya were making Karen up, but I guess she’s real.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          She’s an actual drag queen, who I learned about through Trixie and Katya. I agree with them that it’s the best drag queen name.

    3. ThursdaysGeek*

      I was given an inflatable moose head several years back. I hung him above the fireplace at home, because it’s so ludicrous. He needs re-inflating – his horns are drooping.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I wish I knew why I was given this thing. It’s just so odd.

        I had to tape some of his prongs on since the cardboard is a bit flimsy.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Ah blessed souls who can’t handle change. Welcome to the story of my life.

      I just smile at them and don’t respond. Telling them to try out another employer for size won’t do a darn thing, these people never seem to leave the company, despite hating everything always.

      1. Amber Rose*

        They don’t complain to me. My boss complains to me about them, and then gives me a list of tweaks in procedure to try and get people in line. I like the broad changes, but I’m annoyed at all the little changes I have to remember because people won’t just grow the hell up.

        We desperately need this. I can’t understand how they can’t see that. I’ve known it for years. Our most oblivious new hire saw it within the first couple hours.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They only see what they want to.

          They probably love feeling like some kind of roaming cowboy without reporting structures, doing what they want.

          Don’t look at me. I’ve been known to say “it’s not the wild west up in here, we’ve got rules, guys!”.

          Thank God we’re small and the reporting structure is never an issue.

  11. Anon-anon*

    Can anyone recommend a reasonably “professional-looking” visor to wear while working in an office cubicle to block overhead fluorescent lighting?

    1. Corky's Wife Bonnie*

      If it’s the type with the multiple bulbs per unit, would your building management be receptive to shutting off a few of the bulbs? I have one of those above me, and I had them take out two of the three bulbs and it was perfect.

      1. Natalie*

        Alternatively, they should be able to install some filters/diffusers pretty easily. We did this all the time in building management.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I asked them to do that at my former workplace because the lights gave me migraines, and the CEO threw a fit. He also insisted everyone had matching chairs.
        Open offices. HATE HATE HATE them.

      3. NW Mossy*

        That’s exactly what we did for my new employee. I’ve also seen people use sun shades (similar to what you’d put behind the front windshield of a parked car) to block too much light coming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows.

    2. Temperance*

      Does it need to be a visor? I’m wondering if sunglasses (or slightly tinted glasses) might do the trick. I’m not sure that professional-looking visors exist, unfortunately.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        But sunglasses inside isn’t much more professional than a visor!

        I would just ask management for the OK to wear a hat with a brim…

        Which feels so odd to say coming from the woman who’s never had a dress code of any sort. Liesss, six months of a temp job in medical records but we still wore jeans.

        1. Temperance*

          I think that it’s slightly better than a visor? I know that sunglasses aren’t great, but I’ve occasionally had to wear them indoors or at an event with bright lights (migraines lol) and it’s weird but manageable.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Fair point. Especially if you had a pair that somewhat resembled eyeglasses. Not mirrored aviators or huge decorative ones.

        2. Batshua*

          I wear tinted glasses at work, but the frames are NOT the kind you’d associate with sunglasses. I don’t know if that’d work for you…

          1. TechWorker*

            If the problem is the light coming from directly above then sunglasses might not really help anyway.

            (I feel your pain, when the light above me was fixed I basically immediately got a migraine and had to ask the fixer to take the bulb out again..)

    3. Rebecca*

      Oh I feel your pain. Many years ago, we came to work one Monday morning to an open office lit so brightly we had to wear visors or sunglasses. HR assured us the company they hired to redo the lighting said it was the correct light for our office. After several days of headaches and wearing visors, we got a step stool and took out half the light tubes and put them in the supply closet. Problem solved.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      We used to turn on only half of the lights in our area, which made it noticeably dark (and comfy) but now more people have moved in and they seem to think light is a good thing. :(

      The landlord is very diligent about replacing bulbs so it would be a never ending set of requests to remove some.

      I am very tempted to put up a patio umbrella to block the ones that glare into my eyes. Or build a tent over my desk. I think I’ll be doomed to simply darken as many reflective surfaces as I can find.

      1. zora*

        Two thoughts about the lights:
        1. About the landlord always replacing bulbs, you can ask them to remove some bulbs and then put a post-it note on each fixture saying “Keep only 1 bulb” or whatever.

        2. There are also filters that can be installed inside the plastic cover of the light. It’s basically like colored cellophane that mutes the light or turns it colors. It comes up on a simple Amazon search. You could ask your landlord to put some of that up, and then it doesn’t change anything on their end.

      2. Arjay*

        Ikea makes a “leaf” that attaches to the cubicle wall and shades you from the light. There are also less fanciful looking shades like at, for example. This of course works best if you have a permanent seat assignment.

        1. Windchime*

          A woman at work has one of these. We don’t see public customers in our area, and nobody has said anything about it not looking professional to her. I don’t know whether or not it helps.

      3. TheTallestOneEver*

        Our landlord puts small circular stickers on the ceiling fixtures to note where someone’s asked to have lights removed. For example, if someone only wants two working bulbs in a three bulb fixture, it gets one sticker and they keep a dead bulb in the third slot. That stops our hard working maintenance team from replacing a bulb where one isn’t wanted, and the sticker makes it clear that the bulb is out by request.

    5. Totally Minnie*

      I don’t think I’d recommend a visor, but as someone who had a medical condition that required hats in the office for several months, I think there are a lot of attractive options you could go with that would help. You can look for things like fedoras, newsboy caps, and sun hats with a shorter, less floppy brim. Those options would block the light, but would look like a fashion choice in a way that a visor wouldn’t.

      And I’d recommend talking to your supervisor as well. If your dress code doesn’t allow for hats on a regular basis, you may be able to ask for an accommodation based on your light sensitivity.

    6. KR*

      Does your company have any Swag baseball caps? I have some with my company logo that I wear sometimes. or if there’s a professional or regulatory body in your field you could get some swag with their logo?

    7. Amber Rose*

      Is it the brightness or the fluorescence? If it’s the latter, then I recommend some blue light blocking glasses. You can get them tinted or untinted so you’re not wearing orange goggles, and they really help with the headaches.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      There are video monitor sun shade / hoods on Amazon
      Compushade monitor hood

      It also looks like they make something called Cozy Shades and GlareShades which soften the fluorescent lights.

      I’m so with you though. I once put up an umbrella over my monitors because the stupid office had really bright fluorescent lights that hung down low over the desks. Horrible. I got migraines from them. Yeah. Left that job.

  12. Kramerica Industries*

    Just went through my first salary negotiation an hour ago! After studying up on this site and preparing my arguments, I was ready. The only thing I forgot was to prepare the number that I want. For context, I’ve been at my organization for 3 years an am moving internally.

    When I asked the hiring manager for a higher salary, I didn’t receive any push back. She said “How much do you want? Because we’re already offering a 10% raise, I need HR approval to offer anything higher”. I ended up saying “low to mid 60s” out of panic (they were offering $59k). Thinking about it now though, $65k would be my sweet spot. Is there any way I can salvage this and flat-out ask for $65k? Or should I just wait for an answer and be glad if I get anything at all?

    1. Beehoppy*

      They’re offering you a 10% raise right now and need approval for anything higher. By my calculations, $65 would be more like a 22% raise – that seems like a big jump from their offer and I think you’re better off waiting to see what they come back with.

    2. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’d just stick my head in her office or follow up in email. “You asked for a number on the raise conversation we had earlier, and I gave you a range. For clarity in your conversation with HR, I’m asking $65k.”

      Adjust for tone/etc based on your relationship with your boss.

    3. fposte*

      Is “just” earlier today or yesterday? Then I think you could do a quick followup email saying “I realize that in the moment I wasn’t specific about my desired salary–I’d like to see if $65k is a possibility.”

      1. Gerald*

        I would also aim to put reasons in that email, if there are some. “I am following up on our discussion with an exact amount, based on research / comparables / added value of skills…. “

  13. Karen from Finance*

    Hi! I have a question on dealing with a difficult coworker.

    He is the contact from whom I need to get monthly data. It’s not something hard that I’m asking him to do: all he has to do is compile the data in a list and let me know when it’s done so I can do my reports. Instead, his files are broken and incomplete. Every month it’s a struggle where there’s a back and forth of emails that go:

    – Hey can you update the data
    – It’s updated!
    – Hey I’m still missing the following data: […]
    – Done!
    – Hi, yeah I’m still missing the following figures, would you kindly…

    Up until I reach my own data and I end up doing my own calculations and assumptions on it, because I can’t hold off on my presentation because of one asshole.

    This has been escalated several times but the problem is the guy is a charlatan and I think the CEO buys it (though not my own boss).

    Last month I had a meeting with him, his assistant and my boss, where I went through all the issues with him, told him what I need, and why it’s important and how the situation can’t go on as is. He agreed to start doing one single list and to fix it retroactively for the past few months. My mistake was not sending an email about what was agreed *right away*, but I did start sending him reminders “hey can you send me the data”, which were ignored. I stopped by his desk last week and he told me he needs me to explain what I need from him (??? SERIOUSLY IT’S ONE LIST, LITERALLY). So I sent him an email again. It’s been almost a month since our meeting, and again we’re behind schedule.

    I just sent him an email similar to this post, with bullet points of the issues, and stating everything that had been discussed in the meeting and everything. I CC’d my boss, the CEO and another executive. So he replied “Hi, I’m sorry for the delay, I understand this is important, I’m working on it and I’ll get it by next week”.

    This response soothes the executives but it doesn’t soothe me because he does this EVERY TIME. He won’t get it by next week, he won’t get it before my own report is due, but any complaint will be “oh but now he’s working on it”. It’s driving me insane.

    1. I work on a Hellmouth*

      Yeah, this would drive me freaking nuts.

      I guess keep everyone copied on every single follow up? Maybe your CEO will buy less of Data Dave’s bs if they see the pattern unfolding real time?

      1. Karen from Finance*

        I love how almost everyone started calling him Data Dave after this. I’m kinda renaming him to that in my head already.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      This may not be an entirely satisfying solution, but it might save you some time/headaches if it’s feasible. Is it the same data every month? Not the same numbers, but the same pieces of information?

      Like, you need X sales figures and Y expenditures and Z units sold (or something similar to that)?

      If that’s the case, could you provide him with a spreadsheet with the appropriate fields and all he has to do is “fill in the blanks,” essentially? It’s more work on your part up front, and you shouldn’t have to do it. But it might make your life easier in the long run. No idea if that’s feasible, but it’s a possible thought, anyway.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Gah, this is what drives me nuts: this spreadsheet ALREADY EXISTS.

        It’s essentially a list of products and prices that we need updated each month. Each month he needs to add a new column and add the prices for each product, and if there are new products, add them separetely.

        He’ll either not update it, update it partially, update it but only for the products already on the list but not add any new products, add the new products somewhere else, or – most maddeningly – direct me to another file to calculate it myself (and that other file has broken formulas which urghhh).

        I’m not exaggerating when I say: all he has to do is gather the data in a darn list.

            1. Karen from Finance*

              I have to say that getting sympathy from you in particular with all that you deal with is particularly comforting.

              1. I work on a Hellmouth*

                You can’t let the face biting spiders make you jaded. This guy is clearly a grade-A frustrating dink.

        1. mr. brightside*

          …okay that sounds actually deliberate. The question is always incompetence or malice, and I’ve had to play that guessing game a few times. But if it’s the same damn data pull every single month, in that kind of format? Yeah, no. This guy is sabotaging.

          I might have missed it, sounds like you’ve talked to a lot of higher ups, have you talked to his boss? Because this sounds like a conversation your boss needs to have with his boss, with all of the documented instances in their hands.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            His boss would be the CEO, who is aware that we have this struggle every month. But because Data Dave is just so good at BS, he will respond to escalations either feigning ignorance (“will you tell Karen to write me? I don’t understand what she needs from me” even though he does) or saying feigning competence (“oh I’m about to send that!” – which he doesn’t / “I just sent that!” – and it’s incomplete). But CEOs never do have the time to follow up on every email they are copied to, so I understand that he will believe the person on his team.

            My own boss is the CFO and we both report to the other executive I’m CC’ing in these emails. They are both aware of the problem on our end, but so far they’ve been treating it as an acceptable excuse for why that part of my own report is always a bit iffy. I haven’t seen them push him on it so far.

            I might need to document better and then set up a meeting with the CEO and show him, but that sounds …. extreme?

            1. mr. brightside*

              Oy. Your CEO sucks but I hope he’ll change?

              And if it’s going to backlash on you and your work, can you see about getting access to the data yourself so you don’t need him anymore? It puts more on you, but between that and “look bad because someone else didn’t do his job and no one cares”… :S

                1. mr. brightside*

                  Yeah, ideally I’d say “don’t do his job” but if you need his stuff to do your job and you’re starting to look back and attempt after attempt isn’t helping… you might have to choose between losing the staring contest with this guy, and getting your job done.

            2. Parenthetically*

              It sounds exhausting! But documenting further and meeting with his boss seems like the logical next step to me. “CEO, I have to have at least ten back-and-forth emails with Fergus for each report despite the fact that I have thoroughly instructed him on occasions X, Y, and Z, and in meeting A on B date, and with document C sent on D, E, F, and G dates at his request. In 11 of the last 12 reports, my final report was based not on his data, which was incomplete despite no fewer than H reminders from me on each occasion, but on my estimates and calculations. Retrieving this data and sending it on to me is a monthly task that should take Fergus approximately I-J number of minutes; I estimate I have spent K number of hours on average per month in the last six months requesting this information from Fergus, reminding him to complete the forms repeatedly, sending back incomplete forms with requests for complete data, meeting with Fergus, and doing his calculation work FOR HIM.”

              When you get incomplete data from him, are you replying-all and saying, “Fergus, this is still incomplete.”?

              Also, seriously, I would have to take up kickboxing or something just to deal with my primal rage at this dude.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                I’ve been refraining from copying everyone in every follow-up because of that fear of being annoying. This thread is making me realize that this is a mistake and something I need to work on. Will definitely start doing this, yes, just so they are aware of how persistent the problem is. If the amount of email annoys them, let it.. it sure annoys me…

                1. mr. brightside*

                  Absolutely annoy them. And if they tell you to knock it off, follow up sweetly and ask how they’d like to be kept informed in the future of this on-going issue that risks timely completion of deliverables.

                2. Blunt Bunny*

                  Yes I would start stating deadlines rather than him saying I’ll get to it next week. Say I need X by next Friday to complete this presentation. CC the persons that are involved in presentation and report. Then when there are meetings or updates on where the information is needed, say I am still waiting and forward all the emails asking for updates. Do not do it yourself if he doesn’t do it, or the figures are wrong they don’t go into the report. That way the CEO and other people will start to see the need for him to actually do his job properly either the data is important and need to included or not. You shouldn’t be worrying on their behalf.

                3. Arts Akimbo*

                  Maybe screenshot the number of emails you’ve sent to Dave so you can show the CEO a visual of just how many times you’ve had to email this guy about this one problem, how much time you’ve spent trying to solve it. Tell him nicely that you thus far haven’t been cc’ing him on all the emails, but from now on you’ll be sure to include him so that he can see where you and Dave are in the process.

                  He really needs to start managing this guy.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              He’s extreme.
              Make a running chart showing each month the number of time you have to make a request of any sort. Briefly describe the problem, add the date and time.
              You might be able to reconstruct this through emails you have now, if you did not delete them.
              Then show the parts that you estimated each month because he never answered.
              One thing I have noticed is that when I get all serious and business-like the bosses tend to do in that same direction.
              I am not clear where your boss is in all this. But your boss should be advocating for you. Be sure to loop your boss in that you are now keeping a record of the requests you have to put in each month to complete a repetitive and familiar task. Ask your boss if there is another way you can get this information. Or ask if Dave can be in charge of doing the report each month, since he has all the information.
              The other thing I would ask, “If it doesn’t matter if Dave gets this info to me, then how important is this report and do I really need to be doing it?” You can also help them to think about how the report is used as in are they making critical decisions off this report.

              If the higher ups are not taking the problem seriously ask them if they think this is the best use of your time to be repeatedly asking Dave the same questions each month. Ask them how many more months will you be doing this to allow Dave to “catch on” to the task. At what point should Dave be able to do the task with little to no prompts from you?

              But yes, if people act like five year olds then use remedies you would with a five year old. Count the numbers of time he does this each month and the amount of time you sink into the task yourself because of prompting him to do his job. You know there are unemployed people out there who would happily take Dave’s job and do very well with it. You would not see this kindergarten stuff from them.

            4. Not Me*

              Stop reminding him and leave that portion of your report blank. Note that you did not receive the necessary data by the agreed upon deadline. When asked why it wasn’t received refer back to the last time he emailed “won’t happen again”

              You’re taking responsibility for his job when he isn’t. Stop doing that. Let him fail.

              Or, if you don’t want to do that then ask he be taken out of the loop entirely and do it yourself. Sounds like it would be more efficient to do than to continue bothering him for it.

        2. Ali G*

          Oh Heck No.
          I’d be tempted to treat him like the child he is:
          Every month set a calendar reminder for you to send him a reminder email of what he needs to get you and when he needs to get it to you by. Copy all parties, and be very specific:
          “Hi Dave,
          As a reminder I need you to update the data spreadsheet by X date. Please remember to update the prices, add new products, etc. (List EVERYTHING he should be doing). Note I need this completed by X so that I can compile A, B and C for the Big Meeting on Y date.”
          If he directs you somewhere else – (again – copy everyone even if he takes them off) “Dave, I am sorry but I do not have time to figure out your other spreadsheet with it’s broken formula – please update the spreadsheet.”
          Start sending him reminders 3 days out. If he misses the deadline, ask him when he will do it, again with everyone copied. Make them see how much of a problem he is being (and also simultaneously calling him out on his BS behavior.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            Yep, all of this. Right now he’s getting away with making it your problem, and everyone needs to see where the problem actually is.

        3. Uncategorized Rejections*

          Okay, maybe try being helpful to him?

          “Data Dave, it every month this data is needed. Yet the spreadsheets are never ready or available. Perhaps you would benefit from an Excel (or whatever database) refresher. Our IT training is doing a course on MM/DD”


          “Data Dave, as this data report is required every month and it is obvious that this is not high on your priority list, perhaps you can assign this to your admin. My dept would be willing to train her on the spreadsheet software.”

        4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Maybe I misread but doesn’t he have an assistant? That sounds like something they could easily do for him. He’s just lazy and hates the task.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            He has an assistant. She updated the spreadsheet once, did it wrong (I’m pretty sure he never walked her through it or anything, and she clearly didn’t figure it out), and he stepped in again after I pointed out that half the spreadheet was “#N/A” values. I’m keeping the assistant in the loop because I’m assuming she’ll take this task eventually but I’m not going to train her for him.

            Yes, every step in this has been exasperating.

    3. Lupin Lady*

      I have a similar problem. My solution that seems to work is being crystal clear in your emails almost to the point of rudeness. “Hi X, I need this list by DATE (btw, give yourself a buffer) and the fields I need are A,B,C….X,Y,Z” and give him lots of notice (yes, every month) just for the optics if he doesn’t deliver. And I don’t hesitate to innocently say “I’m waiting for the data from X” if anyone asks me. Good luck!

    4. The Tin Man*

      That sounds like a pain and already anything I’d suggest is implemented. I’m guessing he is the logical person to get this information? If he’s not the only one maybe you can suggest another person to take this task? Not ideal because he is basically being rewarded for not doing a task by having it taken a way but your #1 priority is to get what you need to get your work done. Maybe even raising the question of someone else (who is very much not you) could cause ripples.

      I don’t love that idea because of the risk of the “other person” becoming you, but something’s gotta change.

    5. Data Miner*

      Good lord, the level of management you’re doing is exhausting! It sounds like you’re boss is in the know, but I’d continue to keep him in the loop regularly, cc him when this dude starts to be an idiot and use your manager to escalate. Your manager may be able to wield some muscle, but if not, than you have standing to go to him and say that this dude is preventing you from doing your work on time and hopefully put this on your manager to fix. Because seriously, no one needs to be managed this hard!

    6. The New Wanderer*

      “Up until I reach my own data and I end up doing my own calculations and assumptions on it, because I can’t hold off on my presentation because of one asshole.”

      Actually, my suggestion is to do exactly this. Every time. Give whatever you can of the presentation and where the missing data is, put “Data not received from Fergus by X date as agreed on.” Or alternately, postpone your presentation with the reason: “Pending data from Fergus, not received by X date as agreed on.” (or similar phrasing that absolutely puts the responsibility on Fergus)

      I dunno if that would actually be a good idea but making it explicit every month that this guy is not doing his job may be the only way to really raise to the CEO the impact it’s having on the reports. Sure he’s “working on it” but it’s not getting done.

      1. Gumby*

        I once worked at a company where there was a large stuffed animal – like 4 feet tall – that would mysteriously end up in your seat if you did something that was causing delays or problems for the group as a whole. No one wanted to have a visit from the dunce bear. (Yes, that is what we called him.) It was all good-natured and he sometimes migrated around the office even w/o cause but if he still existed he could have a permanent home in Data Dave’s office.

      2. CM*

        I agree with this. I wouldn’t specific that it wasn’t received as agreed upon — I’d literally just say “Data not received” and leave it at that. Also, I would actually DO the presentation and, when you get to the part where the data isn’t there, just say in a neutral, friendly tone of voice, “Unfortunately we don’t have the data for X yet” and move on.

        If the higher ups start to push back, the answer is really simple, “I asked Fergus to give me the data by [date] and he didn’t. I don’t know why.” If they keep pushing after that, “I’m not Fergus’ manager so I can’t really control what he does. Maybe [Fergus’ actual manager] will know more about what’s going on.”

        I think the issue here is that Fergus’ manager is the one who should be dealing with him if he’s not getting the data in on time — and maybe there’s a legitimate reason, but, if so, that’s something Fergus’ manager and the OP’s manager should work out, in terms of what a reasonable expectation for the project is. By chasing Fergus around this much, the OP is really doing something that’s not (or at least shoudn’t be) their responsibility and it might actually be preventing the people who ARE responsible from stepping in.

    7. Blue*

      Is compiling the data something the assistant can do or at least help facilitate? If so, I wonder if Annoying Guy could be cut out altogether (I mean, it sounds like he doesn’t think this is worth his time and attention, so maybe he’d be happy to pass it off)

      1. Karen from Finance*

        The assistant can, she tried to do it once but failed. I don’t think the guy walked her through the file and she was uninterested or unable to figure it out by herself completely.

        In either case I hold him accountable because he’s free to assign whichever tasks he wants to the assistant, but I’m not getting it from either one of them at the moment so it still falls on him.

        1. valentine*

          Apart from sexism, there is no reason you should have to harass Dave into doing a simple, routine task. Why don’t the attendees look up the numbers themselves, even if it’s during the meeting? Can Dave go to the meeting and present the numbers himself or would he just throw you under the sexist bus again? I’m assuming there’s a due date each month and Dave knows it. After giving the CFO and CEO the chart Not So New Reader suggests, tell the CFO you’re done babysitting Dave and trying to do his work for him. If necessary, frame it as preventing Dave from owning this task of his. Do your presentation and refer the attendees to the spreadsheet, even if it’s via a blank/incomplete/incorrect printed page. Add a note: “Pending Dave’s update.”

          1. Karen from Finance*

            My report/presentation is for the company leadership, which they use for decision-making. Dave’s data is a component of the report, but builds into the overall model. So what’s been happening is I will do my presentation and I’ll say “and this line here is my own projection as we’re still pending update from [client]”. Because they care about the overall figure and I think they trust my estimates, it doesn’t bother them as much. The meeting progresses and they take my caveat as valid. Which it is. But it’s my job to care that the number we present is the actual one. This will bring us trouble later on. I’m presenting a distorted figure and I’m wasting a lot of time chasing the guy around and making numbers up just to have SOMETHING.

            I’m torn on whether they buy into this dude’s crap, if they don’t but don’t want to fire him for some reason, or if they like having him around because charlatans can be useful for client-facing roles sometimes. I have no idea.

    8. Midlife Tattoos*

      Reply all on the e-mail and say, “Fergus, for the last X months, you’ve gone beyond the deadline for this data. As we discussed, I have to have a complete and correct list by Y to finish my reports. Since this continues to be an issue, we need to address this.”

  14. Triplestep*

    Help, please talk me down!

    TLDR: I verbally accepted a job offer with a large consultancy, and when I finally got the electronic version of the offer letter, it indicates I’ll be reporting to someone I thought would be my peer. Is this a huge red flag? Is this normal in consulting where you are there to please the client first and foremost? I really want to take this job and I guess what I want to hear is that this is not a big deal.

    Here are the details: I am trying to say this succinctly, but there’s a kind of lengthy backstory. Several months ago, the Head of a “Group Practice” that is part of a larger consultancy reached out to me to tell me about an opportunity. I have never worked for this consultancy, but they are very large and well known in my field and peripherally related fields. I have worked alongside of their employees in the past. It’s not the first time I’ve been considered for a role with them, but I have never been put in front of one of their clients for one reason or another. (Either I decided the opportunity was not right for me, they didn’t end up getting the contract after all, whatever. Suffice to say they know about me, I know about them.)

    This role was particularly appealing to me because it is remote (work from home) and focuses on one area of my expertise that I want to work in for the remainder of my career. (I’m 55). I am taking a pay cut to do this, but I feel that it’s the right thing for my career and personal life. Any other opportunities in my field would come with killer commutes, and the other three areas of my industry in which I have expertise have proven stressful and anxiety provoking. So this is an intentional “scaling back” and pay cut to match. Working from home will allow me to address some health concerns, and be more available to my aging mother.

    The Head of the Group Practice (who does not work on this site) described the role as replacing someone who didn’t work out – they are still with the consultancy but moving to a different client site. He said there was a Site Director from the Consultancy who “Oversees all our employees at the site” (whether they are part of this Group Practice or not) and “There’s someone else there in the Group Practice” who I would meet during the interview process. Now I come to find out that the “someone else” is slated to be my boss – not the Site Director as I had assumed. During the interview process, the Now-Hiring Manager’s e-mail signature had a Manager title; the offer letter shows she is now a Director. (My role is a Manager role.)

    On the one hand: Should I care? I am still achieving my goals in getting a remote position that eliminates the parts of my job that cause the most stress. It should not matter to me that the person I’ll be reporting to has many fewer years work experience than I do. If you put my resume side by side with her Linkedin, my pertinent experience is about five years more than hers since she has not strayed from the work of this Group Practice and I have done related (but not the same) work. She’s been with the Consultancy for over a decade, so there’s that to consider as well.

    On the other hand: Warning! Warning! What else are they not telling me? Apart from the interview and testing process (they had me do some work samples) all of my communication has been with the Head of the Group Practice. Whenever I had a question for him, he would consult with the Site Director – not the Now-Hiring Manager. I don’t even know if Now-Hiring Manager knows what the other two agreed to with me! This also explains the delay in my offer. Two days ago I got a weird excuse that the client just wanted to check with his counterpart to make sure she was on board. But I had heard this the week before, so I was alarmed that this might have been an open question while I had a verbal offer and was negotiating the salary. Now I suspect that they were buying time so they could promote the Now-Hiring Manager to Director.

    It might help to add that my current job came with lots of surprises – things that were knowable and I should have been told and would have been deal-breakers for me. I started looking to leave within a few months. I realize this makes me hyper-vigilant about a bait and switch. This is less about the fact that I’ll be reporting to someone junior to me – I keep trying to remember that I should not care about that since my goals were to scale down, after all. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be better than the person I thought I’d be reporting to? My current boss is terrible manager, and also a petty score-keeping habitual liar. These are things I could not have known before I took this job – you almost never can. It’s a risk to report to Now-Hiring Manager now because it is always a risk to report to someone new.

    I think I need to reach out to the Head of the Group Practice and make sure that the Now-Hiring Manager is on board with all the stuff he talked to the Site Manager about. I don’t want to get off on the wrong foot with the person who will be my boss by telling any of them “Hey, I didn’t know I was going to be reporting to her” but is there some way I can ask if there’s anything else they’ve neglected to tell me? No one ever said “You’ll report to Site Director and Other Person will be your peer”, but it was strongly implied. How big a deal is this really?

    1. JokeyJules*

      How is it indicating that you will be reporting to them?
      At my company we will hire new remote project managers and sort of buddy them up with a “Mentor” who is another project manager to show them the ropes and be there to answer questions. They work more closely at the beginning and then it tapers off. However, the “Mentor” is in no way a manager of the new employee. Could it be something like that?
      Regardless, to ease your concerns, I’d pick up the phone and talk to the site manager and/or hiring manager to iron out these details just to be sure.

      Good luck!

      1. Triplestep*

        It indicates on the offer letter that I will be reporting to her, and states her name and title. I don’t think it is similar to the mentor situation you described.

        Thanks, yes I think I will reach out to the guy I’ve been talking to. The problem is the question I really want to ask is “what else haven’t you told me!”

    2. WellRed*

      “This is less about the fact that I’ll be reporting to someone junior to me”

      Are you sure about that? For one, if you are reporting to her, I don’t see why you consider her junior, unless its an age thing. As to the rest of it, companies make changes. They aren’t required to stay static while deciding to hire. Before you formally accept the offer, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask how these changes impact you and make sure you are on the same page with everything they promised you.

        1. Triplestep*

          I’m not alarmed by that really; I am alarmed by the fact that I was never told, and I’m pretty sure my offer was delayed until they could promote the Now-Hiring manager, all while telling me a diffrent story. I am totally gun-shy because of all the things I was not told until I started my current job.

          1. Nacho Fridays*

            There are going to be a lot of things they have left out, its the nature of being new and I’m sure you left things out about you. There are most likely a lot of things going on since they are replacing someone who didn’t work out, your going to be the new guy the person above you has proven themselves and could have very well been picking up the slack since the last guy left and let them know they didn’t want to train someone else to be their peer and due to the work they have done they got promoted. They didn’t tell you because its not really important, you don’t work there yet you haven’t even signed. It’s honestly a good thing if that happened in that time frame it shows that if you do your job well you will be rewarded. Its all part of starting a new job, I don’t see a red flag these things happen all the time especially at consulting firms things move fast there. The issues you have are with your old job and the hang up with her being younger, if you can’t let it go let the job go.

          2. NW Mossy*

            At the risk of coming off blunt here, I’m not sure why you’re alarmed by this. It’s pretty much how it works in most situations when you’ve got a manager role and a direct report role open in the same unit.

            The most likely reason they didn’t tell you about the manager situation is that they were waiting until it was finalized by an accepted offer. It would be exceptionally odd for them to communicate internal decision-making to a candidate for a non-managerial role – it’s their business, and never impacts you at all unless you too accept an offer there. As an external candidate, you can’t reasonably expect to hear “Well, we’re interviewing Jane and Fergus to manage this position, but Fergus steals pens and microwaves fish, so we’re going to offer Jane but her salary requirements are high and I don’t know if we’ll get budget for it and it’s going to leave a big hole in Jane’s current role so we have to figure out a backfill and….”

            Also, when two positions like this are open, it’s completely normal to fill the manager position first because it’s higher priority to the business. It also gives the incoming manager a chance to debrief with those who did the interviewing and confirm they’re in alignment with offering to that candidate.

            Bottom line: this is all internal workings and it’s totally appropriate for the company to keep it confidential until it was final. Frankly, it would be a much bigger red flag if they had brought you into this as an interviewee.

            1. Triplestep*

              Thanks, but I think you misread my OP (which is understandable – it was long with a lot of people described, but not by name.) There were not two open roles.

              1. TechWorker*

                I mean… I think the point is there might have been, even if the manager role was only advertised internally.

      1. Triplestep*

        I guess I used the word “junior” because I have 15 more years in the work force than she does. My resume shows five more years in the field in which we’ll be working, and my Linkedin shows five more than that. But you’re right, she’ll be be senior to me when I start reporting to her. And I intentionally have wanted to scale back, so this is totally reasonable and is truly not my main concern. I think I would have been much less concerned about the age/experience gap if I had known going in that she’d be my manager – my current and last few manager have all been younger than I. That tends to happen to individual contributors after the age of 50!

        Yes, companies make changes all the time, and they might even make them while hiring, but why not TELL me? Given what I’ve been through with my current job (all kinds of things I was not told about until I had started) it makes me really nervous.

        Thanks, I do think I am going to call just to make sure everything the two others had discussed has been transmitted to my Now-Hiring Manager, and that she’s on board. I am hoping to find a way to do this that does not make me seem like I am not OK with the change in reporting – honestly, I have no way to know who would be best for me to report to in this scenario. My current boss – who seemed totally reasonable (cool, even!) during the interview process is certainly proof of that!

      2. Bend & Snap*

        I think a surprise manager is a big deal. I don’t think it’s a big deal that she has less overall experience than you do.

        I declined an offer once because they changed hiring managers in the middle–I had the chance to talk to the new one and she sounded like a freaking nightmare. No regrets.

        If you’re concerned about reporting to her, you can request to speak to her…you should have some info on the person who will be managing you before you accept.

        1. Triplestep*

          Thanks – I actually declined an offer because the person who would have managed me had far less experience than I AND it was clear that she lacked confidence and the higher ups were holding her hand/developing her. While it’s great that they were giving her an opportunity, I did want to be part of that scenario!

          My Now-Hiring Manager was part of the interview process, so she’s not a complete unknown which is good. And truth be told, she asked good questions and seemed to have a communication style I could work with.

    3. SoJo*

      I’m not in your field at all, so take my advice with a grain of salt, but I think you can address this calmly and without seeming accusatory or defensive. I sense a lot of stress in your letter here, so you definitely want to cool off before you contact them. Can you get in touch with the person who’s been your point person so far, and use a neutral script like “it looks like you guys have had a change in reporting structure since we talked about it, can you walk me through the new set up and how that will work?“ I don’t think it makes you look paranoid to notice that there’s been a change, but I think you want to ask them about it from a place of curiosity and not suspicion. Like you say, there’s a chance that this person will be a great boss, very possibly better than the person you thought you’d be reporting to.

      As a person who has achieved seniority in my field, and often winds up working for clients who are younger and less experienced, I sympathize with feeling disoriented by sorting out your place in this hierarchy, but I think there’s a better than even chance that once you start working with this person you will be perfectly satisfied with the set up. (It might even help that you’re not in person, so it’s all about the work, and less about anybody’s appearance or personal style.)

      1. Triplestep*

        Very astute comment (my anxiety has really kicked in here, and I do know it! Can you see why I am actively looking for a less stressful job?) I like your script and suggestion and will probably use it. I had decided to start with the guy who had been the point person so far.

        “Disoriented” is a great way to describe the feeling – it’s really nothing against the Now-Hiring Manager, especially given that I wanted to scale back! I think wanting to scale back and actually being faced with the very real possibility (which turns out to be scary) are two different things. Yes, I am hoping that being remote will strip off a lot of the appearance and personal style issues that have dogged me now and then in the past. (Another reason I was looking for a remote role.) I have also thought about the fact that this could turn out to be just fine – even better than reporting to the person I thought I would be originally. I have no way of knowing from where I sit. It’s just a change, on top of a change that I actually signed up for.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      It’s common in consulting firms to have one person who is leading client engagements and has a project team reporting to them, and for another person to be the actual line of sight permanent manager for the employee.

      That said, it should have been spelled out to you at some point in the process. I would get clarity on the situation now, so that there aren’t any surprises when you actually join the company, particularly if you’ve never met the actual hiring manager.

      1. Triplestep*

        Thanks, I have never worked for a consulting firm so I was hoping to hear something like this – that this is not as uncommon as it would be as an FTE. And thanks for the gut check that it should have been spelled out – I will feel less defensive asking about it now!

    5. Mazzy*

      I think it would be good to accept the job. You’re not being lied to or having information kept from you, they’re telling you this up front!

      More importantly, you have bigger fish to fry than whether you report to someone less experienced and younger – which at this point will be the majority of your potential bosses. You don’t want a hellish commute. You want to focus on this type of work. You can work from home which will help with your health issues. Yes, there is a pay cut, but that sometimes happens especially after your salary peaks. It’s not always doom and gloom. Personally I’d accept a job up to ten thousand less than I make if it was a good job – it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference especially at the high tax bracket. Yes you’ll have to teach the manager a thing or two, but that is a smaller issue than what you’d be avoiding by taking the job. Also, there is a lot to talk about a coming recession, so as a general rule, I’d nab a good job offer up instead of waiting for a perfect job. Every day I’m seeing layoffs in the paper, already…..

      1. Triplestep*

        I agree with everything you said here! Except that they really did keep info from me and/or lie by omission. Even that seems a bit strong – allow me to think one thing when another thing was true? I don’t think I would be seeing this the same way had I not been surprised by certain aspects of my current job that were knowable and shareable before I took the offer.

        1. Library Land*

          It seems to me that your fixated on them lying to you and therefore this means danger Will Robinson. I don’t see it that way, they waited on the offer to make sure that your paperwork was right, that your supervisor was all figured out. That makes a lot of sense. People here are saying that makes sense, and you yourself say it makes sense, but you just can’t get over that they lied to you. I think that if you don’t get over this your going to start your new job by making a mountain out of a mole hill.

          Consider this: What would you think if they gave you an incomplete offer, or gave you an updated offer two days later, or didn’t tell you until your first day? I’m betting you’d be just as upset. Or if you were being promoted and would soon have a new hire, would you be happy if your company first called to new hire to make sure they blessed your promotion – even though they hadn’t even started?

          1. Triplestep*

            Heh, I had typed “Danger Will Robinson” where you now see “Danger! Danger!” but I was afraid the reference would not be understood!

            Yes, you are right – I need to get over this, and I am glad I posted this because the responses are helping. As is often pointed out here, a bad workplace can leave a person with a skewed sense of things. Having had information withheld about my current role until I was onboard (not to mention having a boss who at best exaggerates and at worst lies outright) has made me overly cautious and reading too much into things.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      It sounds like your new manager was promoted (given that her signature used to say “manager” and now in the hiring documents she is listed as “director”).

      So while she may have less experience than you (although that doesn’t seem exactly true; it sounds like her experience is very direct and yours is more related?), she is higher in the organization’s hierarchy.

    7. Blue*

      I think it’s reasonable to have a conversation with your prospective boss-to-be about their expectations for the role and how they operate as a manager before you agree to sign on. As part of that conversation, you can ask any questions you still have about office culture and goals, and I think that can include asking whether her promotion was part of a larger set of changes they have in the works.

      I accepted a new job a few months back, and I asked my prospective supervisor a number of questions before I committed. (Like you, I was a bit nervous about the unknown!) I approached it as, “Can I ask you some questions about the office and your style as a manager? I want to be sure I have a really clear picture of the office and what I’d be a part of so I can be confident this will be a good fit for us both.” It helped that the job they were hiring me for requires you to be very thorough and thoughtful, so asking lots of questions and wanting the full picture before diving in fit what they were looking for in a candidate!

      1. Typewritergirl*

        But then, you can accept a job only to find your manager leaves, so you’re never guaranteed to have this info.

        1. Triplestep*

          Or they can stay, but you can find that you totally misjudged them.

          While interviewing for my current job, I asked my would-be peers about the culture, and they really painted quite the rosy picture. Since then, one of them was laid off, and the other has changed his tune. In his defense, he had only been there a few months himself at the time. (And he has been a great ally – I am really going to miss him!)

      2. Triplestep*

        I know you are right, but the situatoin with my current boss makes me realize that even getting asnwers to these questions does not guarangee anything.

        My current boss is actually very skilled in the nuts and bolts of our field; I was looking forward to learning a lot from her (and yes, she is younger than I am.) But she is a terrible manager, and has personal qualities that provoke my anxiety. She exaggerates, boasts, lies, antagonizes, holds grudges, drops names, one-ups people. I did not see these things in our conversations before I took the job, and I could not have discerned any of these things from a conversation like the one you describe. And honestly, I need to remind myself that this is true not only of my Now-Hiring Manager, but the person I thought I was going to report to. There’s just no way to know a lot of this stuff ahead of time, and that’s part of the risk of taking a new job.

    8. ChachkisGalore*

      Did you meet your Now-Hiring Manager during the interview process and if so, did you feel like you got to spend a decent amount of time speaking with them? Any new manager is a risk (like you said) and of course it can be really difficult to suss out true red flags in management style from interviews alone… However! I would NEVER take a job without meeting the person who is going to be my direct manager. It sounds like you did, so that might be enough (on both sides), but if you did not meet them at all – that I would consider a huge red flag.

      It does sound like you met them, though, at some point within the interview process. Personally I’d be a bit uneasy if I did not have the opportunity to interview with my direct manager (while knowing they would be my direct manager) – just because I’d have somewhat different questions for my direct manager vs a peer vs someone sr, but not my direct manager. I’d also want to know how involved the Now-Hiring Manager was in the hiring process (of course you probably should not ask this outright). Did the Head of Practice/Site Manager choose you on their own and then promote Now-Hiring Manager or was the Now-Hiring Manager as involved as a hiring manager truly should be. One time I had bait-and-switch management situation – I was told I’d be reporting to one person, then a month or so in it was switched to someone else. Someone that if I had known they would be my manager I would not have accepted the role (it was a promotion so I knew the person) and found out later that she thought I was a terrible fit for the role from the start, so if she were involved in the interviewing/hiring I highly doubt that I would have been offered the role. It put both of us in a very frustrating position.

      Would you feel comfortable asking for the opportunity to speak a bit further with the Now-Hiring Manager? I wouldn’t explicitly say it was because you had no idea they’d be your manager, but maybe just that you had a few followup questions for Now-Hiring Manager. It may give you the chance to confirm (as much as one can) that the Now-Hiring Manager is actually on board with the stuff you spoke to the Site Manager about. I think, for me, it would help allay some concerns about whether this was a one-off/lots of moving pieces situation vs representative of a non-transparent/bait-and-switchy type of place.

      1. Triplestep*

        Yes, I did get to meet her – she was a major part of my interview process, although her name did not come up when any answers about the job expectations were posed to the practice manager. That’s one of the reasons I was so surprised to see her name on the offer letter. And what I know of her so far is all good – funny, although I feel I should have been told about this, I do not hold any of that against her. There are two higher-up people who could have/should have told me.

    9. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. I don’t know if I’d say huge red flag, but I think you do have some things you need to clarify with them before you sign the agreement and that is perfectly reasonable. It is normal to ask about the reporting structure.

      It’s possible that person was just recently promoted and it wasn’t so when you interviewed and that’s why they didn’t tell you.
      I don’t know about this field, but also could it be possible the Now-Hiring Manager is named as your manager because they’re onsite, but you’ll still really be working with/reporting to the Head of Group Practice? I mean, is that just a formality because it has to be listed as someone on site?

      I mean, I think you could ask for another meeting with both (if you didn’t meet with Now-Hiring Manager previously) to clarify some final points and details, but I wouldn’t automatically assume there is anything nefarious here.

    10. Marthooh*

      It’s possible that you weren’t told about the Now-Hiring Manager’s promotion because they were all still negotiating. When you think of it that way, they were right to keep the information confidential until it was all worked out. If so, that’s a good sign!

      1. Triplestep*

        Yes, I figured that was part of my delay – but then why not tell me? Why let me just open an electronic offer letter and figure it out? They have no idea how mistrusting I am due to my current situation, so I guess it seemed like no big deal on their part; they’d have no idea my first reaction would be “what else are they not telling me, gah!”

    11. Not So NewReader*

      What I see here is your level of alarm. Sometimes we pick up on things that we can’t articulate. So our brains latch on to Other Issue and beat a dead horse talking about Other Issue.

      What I don’t like about this whole thing here is that you have not met your boss. She has no say in whether you get hired or not. This is a bad set-up.

      I was promoted by my big boss. I was to work for a woman named “Jane”. I did not speak with Jane until after all was said and done. Jane had many problems and one particular problem meant she could only work half-days. She did not train me. She had my subordinates train me. And she delighted in that too much. Things got worse as Jane said stuff such as she did not like having female direct reports (implying me). It turned out that Jane was a screamer. Jane belittled people. It did not take long for me to get in her line of fire. Finally she set me up with a stream of lies. I decided not to fight the lies (for reasons) and I quit. (If you fight to keep your latrine, when you win all you get is a latrine.)

      My advice ask to meet your direct boss. Ask if she is on board with hiring you. Ask the higher ups AND ask HER.
      It’s not good when people hire FOR other people. People get foisted on each other and resentment can bubble up. After what I went through with that job I mentioned here I will never again take a job where the direct manager is not looped in to the hiring decision.

      1. Triplestep*

        I actually did get to meet Now-Hiring Manager during the interview process. I got to know her about as well as I got to know the person I thought I’d be reporting to, and learned about as much as you would expect about her, which is to say not very much.

        “Jane” sounds a lot like my current boss, including the stream of lies. I had no interest in fighting to keep my latrine, but I did change my MO to start treating her like she walked on water just to make my life at work bearable until I could quit. I am hoping I get to do that next week before having to sit through my evaluation, ugh!

        I hope you landed somewhere better.

    12. CM*

      I understand why you’re spooked, but I think this is probably not a conspiracy. It’s possible that, while they were interviewing you for the Manager position they had not decided whether to promote your colleague to the Director position and didn’t want to invade her privacy by telling you that she was currently interviewing for that role — so she was “someone else.” (Imagine if she was passed over for that promotion and you had been told she was interviewing for it; she might be embarrassed or it might be an awkward way to start off).

      I think the most important point is what you thought of her when you met her, and whether you feel like she’ll be a good person to work with?

      If the people you’ve been negotiating with have made you soft promises about things, I think it would be reasonable to say that you’ve only just realized the hiring manager wasn’t involved in the negotiation and you’d like what you’ve been promised to be written down, just so there are no misunderstandings.

      1. Triplestep*

        Heh, my OP does come across like I think this is a conspiracy, doesn’t it? I feel a lot less anxious now than I did this morning – reading the responses here has helped, and also remembering the way coming from a bad situation can impact your trust of a new situation.

        Yes, I tried to touch base with the Head of the practice group today (he reached out to me, actually) but we were both too busy so it will have to wait until Monday morning. Your last paragraph is exactly as I intend to approach it, though – not “what the hell?” but is my Now-Hiring Manager aware/on board with the things we discussed.

  15. Jennifleurs*

    Just heard the boss’ daughter (late 30s at least) be so rude to the IT guy that I was taken aback. It was along the lines of “Yes, but I don’t care,” which now that I write it down doesn’t -look- that bad, but … ugh. This’ll be fun,

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Sounds like a context and tone thing, snapping “I don’t care” at someone is rude AF.

  16. Cluster B*

    Does anyone else struggle with a serious mental illness while working full time? What are your best strategies for dealing with mood swings? I’m normally fine but my job has been so stressful lately that I’ve been experiencing suicidal thoughts and bursts of violent anger and it’s been hard to focus. I’m an admin who also provides technical support if that gives any context.

    1. Chereche*

      Now, I have not been diagnosed with any specific mental illness (working towards eventually seeking help) but I’ve been there. What I’ve found that helps me the most so far is exercising on a schedule and pushing myself hard while working out. It gives a good outlet for some of the anger, and the endorphin high afterwards relaxes me continuously and it makes unwinding at the end of the day a lot easier.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Do you have a therapist and/or a psychiatrist? My husband is a mental health professional who deals with managing his own anxiety and depression, and having a therapist to talk strategy with and a psych (in his case, NP) to talk meds management with has been hugely helpful in making his worklife more manageable. You need a Team You to help manage those things, and if you have them, check in with them asap to help work on this.

      If you don’t have those, I strongly suggest getting both (work EAP may be helpful), and using PTO/sick days for the days you just can’t manage.

    3. delphine from Belgium*

      Please seek professional help, talk to a doctor.

      Also, try to maintain a good sleep schedule. Lack of sleep exacerbates difficulties.

      Focus on what you can do, let what is not your responsability swing by.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Lack of sleep. Oh my YES. I had some health issues brought on pretty much by my father being sick and then passing. I was doing 20-22 hour days. I couldn’t think straight. And after a bit I could not get out of bed because of issues. For me, my main problem was Major Grief but it exasperated other smaller problems and those problems got out of hand also.

        I got into a lot of alternative stuff. One thing my practitioner went to great lengths to be specific about was for me to take control of my schedule. Go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time. Eat meals within the same window of time every day. I was yo-yoing emotionally –happy, crying, mad, sleepy. I did not like me much. He talked about that yo-yoing and among many other things he said, to be consistent with my routines.
        First hand, I can promise you this will help. No magic wand here and I am not a doc and all those disclaimers. However, I do know first hand that controlling your schedule will help.

    4. Doug Judy*

      Take care of yourself. Talk to your therapist/psychiatrist ASAP. My brother has a significant mental illness and it’s a hell he in no way caused or deserved, and you didn’t do anything to cause this either. You have a medical condition that needs urgent attention.

    5. deesse877*

      It sounds like your job role involves a lot of supporting other people–and hence, less of a sense of control yourself. Is that accurate? If so, it sounds hard.

      The main thing, I think, is to not “catastrophize.” That is, try to push away thoughts like “I AM GONNA EXPLODE ANY SECOND!!!” Even if it feels that way, which it probably does, then you just have the fear of a self-made disaster on top of everything else. Instead, try to think things like “well this sucks right now, but later today I will [eat thing I like] and relax with [TV, book, video game, whatever takes you out of the moment].”

      This strategy is not easy to learn, but the good thing about it is that it’s incremental: you tell yourself something like this several times a day, and even though it doesn’t work sometimes, other times it does. Over time, you will get more successes and become less afraid of your own moods. The moods may or may not improve in themselves, but they rule you less.

      To give you a timescale: I had a specific job task that often sent me into a panic/rage spiral, and it took about three years for me to stop feeling that way about it almost completely, BUT once I figured out the “this sucks right now, but later…” trick, I cut out 40-50% almost immediately. And when a person is trying to survive, 40% less bad feeling is significant.

      Good luck.

      1. Miss Wels*

        Yes, I spend all day helping others and receive little thanks or credit in return. I’m definitely underpaid. And we have two vacancies that would normally be sharing my workload if they were filled (both have been vacant for months), and the other support position that is “filled” is filled by someone who only works part time to begin with and is constantly sick on the days they are supposed to be here.

          1. anonymoushiker*

            You can email Alison to ask her to change it, I’ve definitely done that in a panic before!

    6. Maggie May*

      the (american) national suicide prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255 if you need immediate help.

      if you are in america your employer likely has an EAP in place. this generally grants you 6 free “clinic” visits for mental health. my insurance offers X amount (don’t know off the top of my head – I think it’s enough for one visit a week + some extra) of counselling visits per year as well.

      you may also consider going to your primary care physician. I have depression and anxiety, but it turns out it was thyroid related so when I’m being treated adequately I feel fine. You are also describing the more severe symptoms of ADHD, so it would be helpful to talk through your symptoms with a professional.

      however, based on your user name, I expect you are already diagnosed. in these cases I think it’s best to talk to someone outside of your brain, since they can offer outside perspective. it can be hard to see the forest for the trees when it’s your own brain, so perhaps it is one aspect of your job or one person who is exacerbating your illness. if that is too much or too overwhelming, try to journal what is happening during the day and then go back through periodically to try and find patterns yourself.

      1. Miss Wels*

        Yes, I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder mainly triggered by childhood trauma. I have some symptoms that people associate with ADHD but I do have the condition as a whole. I also have thyroid issues but getting help for it has been challenging because my labs are so inconsistent. I do know I need professional treatment but just getting an appointment is such a bureaucratic nightmare when I already have executive functioning issues that I’ve been unsuccessful, and many times when I do get an appointment, the professional is unsympathetic to BPD because it carries such a stigma.

        1. Maggie May*

          I suggest finding a good endo if you can. mine pretty much lets me do my own dosage and labs, I just have to request them. since mine is autoimmune in nature I have to take care of that too, but my QOL improves immensely when I’m doing well. I’m also “allergic” to soy in that it affects my thyroid, so I would also suggest maybe trying to see if cutting out common thyroid things like soy, gluten, or dairy.

          my husband has adhd and also has had trouble finding sympathetic help. it’s taken him years to find someone that believes adults can have it, and to find someone competent. his current person (not sure title) has suggested he journals whenever he’s lost control of his emotions and every night so that he can go through and try and find triggers or common denominators. with this he was able to figure out some of his anger was really embarrassment from his symptoms, for example.

          it might also be useful to go to a PCP to have them route you to someone directly instead of having to look yourself.

        2. Dr. Anonymous*

          I feel for you. Does your primary care doc work in a large group? Sometimes the large groups or some insurance companies offer a case manager (social worker or nurse) to help you make sure you get your appointments scheduled and keep in touch with your team. Can you ask? I think having consistent care would help you a lot.

    7. Utoh!*

      Can you take breaks when you are feeling overwhelmed, or take some time off to decompress and get some perspective on the situation? It’s hard to deal with anything when you are right in the middle of it. As another poster said, if your thoughts and feelings are getting to the breaking point, please reach out to a professional asap. No job is worth feeling stressed to the point of hurting yourself or others. You have to take care of yourself first.

    8. Anonymeece*

      I’m not sure what type of admin you are, or if this is feasible, but when I’m finding myself going through mood swings, I try to isolate myself if I can. Not for long, but I don’t take social lunches with other colleagues when I’m feeling like that, I’ll try to schedule some quiet time, etc. It gives me a chance to regroup without the constant pressure of being “on” and controlling it, I guess? I take some time to try to meditate or even just breathe for a bit without anyone looking at me.

      Get out of the office if you can. If you normally eat lunch at your desk, start driving somewhere, or just eat in the parking lot if you need to save gas. Going to a park is better, because nature really helps me, but YMMV. Sometimes that hour is what I need to make through the next four around people.

      Find something after work that helps you. I worked with my partner and said I needed one hour after I got home to unwind, with him not around. Going straight from work people to home people wasn’t giving me any chance to regulate my emotions.

      I’m normally very social and greet everyone and make small talk, but I withdraw when I get like this. It’s not necessarily great, but limit conversation to what you can handle without being rude – instead of asking about someone’s weekend when they say good morning, just say “Good morning” back, smile, and keep walking, or whatever. I know people usually say, “Oh, but you shouldn’t withdraw socially!” but personally I find it exhausting when I feel like I’m about to scream.

      Finally, co-signing the importance of a doctor, therapist, hotlines… whatever is in your ability to take care of your health. Be kind to yourself. Take mental health days when you need them. And if all else fails, talk to your HR department and see about accommodations. Disclosing is an absolutely personal choice, so if that’s not feasible, I completely understand, but it may be worth considering if you’re feeling like this.

    9. Working Fed*

      If you’re having a really rough day at work, text 741-741 (Crisis Text Line). I’m a volunteer Crisis Counselor and a lot of people text in during the work day because it’s easier than trying to step out of the office and call a phone number.

      Additionally, I have anxiety and depression, both of which often manifest in bursts of anger that seem to come out of nowhere. For me, mindfulness and meditation have been a lifesaver. There are apps, Calm or Headspace, for example, that offer quick 10-minute practices that are easy to use on a quick work break. Journaling also helps. If I need to release some emotion at work, I will sometimes email myself (on my personal email) to get the feelings out on “paper.” This can be really helpful if you can’t focus.

      Finally, please remember that you matter and you’re meant to be here. Your gray matter can try to convince you that you don’t, but it’s true.

    10. Youth*

      Get in on time and leave on time. If you can flex, then get in early and leave early. Pack nice lunches that you can look forward to. (That always cheers me up/helps me regulate my emotions on a stressful day.) Exercise regularly either before or after work. (Ditto.) In your non-work life, look into counseling or medication, and find ways to unwind when you get home and on the weekends. Try to compartmentalize if you can!

      Source: Been there, done that. Well, doing it, to be exact. But things are getting better for me emotionally even though my life circumstances haven’t yet changed! You, too, can get through this.

    11. OH GOD BEES*

      Meeeeeeee. I’ll share some of the things that have worked for me, in case any of it is helpful.

      1) Have a “work self-care” plan. Depending on your work environment, this might need to be fairly subtle stuff. For example, at one workplace, I made a habit of getting up and making a cup of really delicious-smelling herbal tea. It tasted disgusting, and I never actually drank it, but it gave me an opportunity to get up, have a quiet moment to myself while I waited for the tea to boil, and smell something nice while I held something warm for a bit. Box-breathing is also great for managing anxiety or other strong emotions (breathe in for 4s, hold for 4s, out for 4-8s and repeat a couple times. If you can use headphones, guided meditations or even a favourite calming song can be helpful to take a moment. Go for a walk, if you can, or find a quiet space to sit and reflect. Phone apps can also be great, including games to distract you for a moment, mood tracking apps like Daylio or guided meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer (last is free).

      2) Scripts are good. Especially, make and practice polite “I need a moment” scripts. Make them habit, so that when you feel a strong emotion coming on, you can buy yourself time to think and reflect without passing up the opportunity to address an issue. e.g. “That’s interesting, let me think on that and get back to you.”, “I have some thoughts about that, but I need to address x problem/talk with x person/think through it a bit more. Is it alright if I circle back?”. Scripts for addressing but deflecting overemotional moments are good too. e.g. “Sorry, I’m feeling a bit under the weather, and things are a bit tough to process right now. I’m okay, I just need a minute to collect my thoughts.”, and other scripts Alison has suggested about “crying at work” (even if it’s another surprise emotional response!)

      3) The long-term, messy work. I find this stuff really hard, especially when it comes to actually scheduling appointments, meeting new doctors, going to appointments, etc. YMMV, but oddly, it helps me to sometimes catastrophize what it’s like if I *don’t* do this – yeah, sure, I might not have to have an awkward convo with my boss about needing time off for appointments, but instead I might deteriorate until I’m fired/laid off, all my bills won’t be paid, and my dog will be sad and hungry. I know this stuff takes a lot of emotional labour and resilience, so I reward myself for things like booking appointments, etc. and I also don’t let myself off the hook if I don’t have an appointment yet… there are a lot of self-help books and things that might not be a substitute for a regular, dedicated therapy appointment, but can still teach some skills and help in the short term. I work through Mind Over Mood (CBT self-help workbook) periodically. For BPD, you might find DBT self-help books helpful, and I believe there are even some phone apps along these lines. (I have friends who have that diagnosis, and I’m happy to ask them for specific suggestions, if you’re interested.) EAPs are good resources, but also look into peer support resources in your community. Peer support was absolutely life-changing for me, and it’s great to meet people who can empathize without condescending, and who can be supportive without being close or complicated.

      4) Be kind to yourself, and make time for yourself. You are doing a hard thing. It might not feel like you are succeeding sometimes, but working when you feel this badly is not something that everyone can do. Just because you are hurting and struggling does not mean that you are not also strong. It’s just really, really hard sometimes. So is asking for help and support, and you’re doing that too! Reward yourself for the small things, even if it’s just surviving a week. Try to find time for healthy habits or hobbies, if you have the energy. (If you don’t, that’s okay – you know yourself and your limits. That self-knowledge is important, and it’s okay to draw and keep boundaries.)

    12. CubeKitteh*

      Schizoaffective bipolar here. I have been in that place more times than I want to admit. For in the moment, if you can step away for a moment, just to breathe, it can help. I also tend to switch tasks if I can identify the trigger. I also have scheduled exercise times to help relieve some of the stress. I also have small things in the vicinity of my desk that will lift my mood, including a small list of songs on my phone that I will listen to to calm me down.

      For long term, there are some great suggestions here that I would only be repeating. It is a battle and not always the easiest, but you can do it! Good luck!

    13. Anon Bipolar I*

      My advise after 24 years of wrestling with Bipolar I

      Guard your sleep schedule like you’d guard a pot of gold. The fast way I derail into a mania is one week with minimal sleep and different bedtimes. Took me and my psychiatrist 5 years to figure this out.

      When I feel really feel stressed this is my go to plan…

      1. Non negotiable sleep times. Mine is 11 pm to 5 am.

      2. No caffeine after 12 pm. Any later is gasoline on a bonfire. I LOVE COFFEE. If I need a pick me up, it’s 16 oz of water, and 5 minutes on my mediation app. (I rarely drink much coffee, usually it’s only 6 oz in the morning)

      3. Look up sleep hygiene from a decent site. I do the whole “prepare for bed stuff”. No tech before bed. This is hard for me. I even read paper books instead of the Kindle during this time.

      All of this sucks. I resent doing all of it. I’d rather be up at 3 am when I’m wound up.

      For me anxiety is a huge mania trigger. I do everything in my power to tamp that down. I meditate ALOT. I’m about as Zen as a explosion, so I really have to work at it. My meditations are maybe 5 minutes long during the day, if I do them. This is coming from someone who punched a inpatient psychiatric social worker in the face. He kept pestering me to go to the mindfulness class, and I didn’t want his advice. (oh yeah, good times)

      Also find a decent therapist like the others suggested. I wrote the above because it’s free, and you could try it now. Cognitive Behavioral therapy help alot with handling anxiety.

      14 years with no hospitalizations and minimal meds since I started the above.


  17. TheWonderGinger*

    What are peoples general feelings about applying a lip balm (unscented & clear like Chapstick) while in a customer service position?

    I find myself absentmindedly applying while I wait for someone to sign a form or if they are chit chatting. Is this a major faux paus I need to start keeping better tabs on? I live in a very cold, dry climate so I apply often and liberally, especially because I am talking to patients all day and it hurts when they dry out.

    1. DivineMissL*

      If I were your customer and you did it in front of me, I wouldn’t think too much about it. Applying lipstick or brushing your hair would be objectionable as it smacks of personal grooming; lip balm or hand cream leans more towards first aid/medical need. That being said, I’d suggest doing it between customers instead of in front of them, as it makes it look like you are bored/not paying attention to the patient.

    2. AnonEMoose*

      As long as you’re just applying the tube to your lips and not using your fingers to apply it, I don’t think this would register on my radar (also in a cold, dry climate). That can be really hard on the lips in particular, and I’d rather see someone applying lip balm than be wincing in sympathy because someone’s lips look so chapped and sore.

    3. Bunny Girl*

      I might not apply it while I was directly dealing with a customer, but in between I don’t think a quick swipe is any big deal at all. I also apply it continuously because in the winter my skin and lips just freak out.

      1. Marion Ravenwood*

        Fourthing this. I wouldn’t do it whilst dealing with customers, but discreetly in between tasks/people is fine. Same goes for applying lipstick or hand cream (though that’s more for when you’ve got a couple of minutes free rather than when you’ve got a queue building up, and in the hand cream context it can take a little while for it to sink in so I’m not necessarily sure I’d want to be handing customers pens etc right after applying).

    4. Lupin Lady*

      If I was a customer I’d be weird-ed out by this. Do you have moments where customers aren’t in front of you? Or if you’re waiting for something could you walk away and turn your back briefly? (For the record chapstick at work is fine, it’s just better to be subtle about things still considered ‘personal grooming’)

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Wouldn’t even notice, unless you were making a wierd production of it, either by trying to be extremely covert, or by…I don’t know, sniffing it or making lascivious “mmmmmm” noises or something.

      Just an ordinary matter of fact swipe probably wouldn’t even register.

    6. A person*

      It’s like clipping nails, wouldn’t do it. Might be better to find a different kind of lip balm that doesn’t need to be reapplied so often. Can’t find it now but I just saw an article about how some lip balms have ingredients that dry your lips out even worse and thats why they have to be reapplied so often.

      1. theguvnah*

        applying lip balm is nothing like clipping nails.

        People apply lipstick at the dinner table and it isn’t blinked at.

    7. Anon Anon Anon*

      If it looked like you were just medicating chapped lips, I wouldn’t think about it at all. If it was something like Cherry Sparkle Lip Balm, I wouldn’t judge you for it myself, but some people would.

    8. Parenthetically*

      Between patients, I think. But lip balm and hand cream = necessary, so I wouldn’t think of it as grooming.

    9. Plant_Mama*

      I have extremely dry lips, they will literally turn bright red if I do not use chapstick. I wouldn’t think anything of it and I’d be rather irritated to find out that other people were judging for it.

    10. Not Me*

      Most people probably wouldn’t even notice.

      Side note: I have very sensitive skin and contact allergies. I was using a fragrance free lip balm that I thought was on my “safe list” for years, applying it all the time because my lips seemed to chap easily. Until, my dermatologist reminded me I’m allergic to wax….which is in all chapstick type lip balms and lipstick. I switched to plain Vaseline (not the lip stuff, just regular Vaseline) and was AMAZED at the difference. Dry, chapped skin is a typical allergic response. Might not be what you’re dealing with, but thought I’d mention just in case, could solve your chapped lips and you won’t have to worry about applying in front of patients :)

  18. The Other Dawn*

    Any tips for finding and working with a recruiter?

    I’ve never worked with one before, and I have no idea where to start or even if I should. My job is ending here next month, and I’m not seeing a lot of positions that interest me, so I’m thinking maybe I should try a recruiter.

    1. HR in an Association/NonProfit*

      So, the thing about recruiters is that they don’t generally work with applicants, they work for companies, assuming you are in the US. Recruiters are hired by companies to fill a position and receive payment from the company, meaning their interest lies with the company not the candidates.

      Depending on your field, being super active on LinkedIn, constantly perusing Indeed and ZipRecruiter, and networking as much as possible are going to be your best bet for finding your next position.

      1. Natalie*

        I think you might be understanding the word recruiter very narrowly? Staffing firms definitely work with candidates directly. I’ve gotten all but my most recent professional job that way.

        1. HR in an Association/NonProfit*

          They do work directly with candidates, absolutely; however, as illustrated by irene adler below, their loyalty is to their client (the employer). You, as the candidate, are not their top priority and many will only interact with you if they currently have a position or have a position in the pipeline that makes sense for them to recommend you to the client.

          In some fields, you will do well finding positions by working with a staffing firm. In the vast majority, that is not the case.

          1. Natalie*

            Ah, your post read somewhat differently. I absolutely wouldn’t put all of my eggs in one recruiter’s basket, but there’s no reason to avoid working with one. It doesn’t prevent you from also job searching directly.

            1. HR in an Association/NonProfit*

              Agreed, there is nothing wrong with working with one (or more). For my current position, I actually didn’t use a recruiter to find the position. There was a recruiter who was a great resource for bouncing offers and opportunities off of. It was amazingly helpful and she probably saved me from jumping on an offer that would have ultimately made me miserable.

              My point is – generally speaking, recruiters don’t go out seeking a job for the candidate. If they have a job that the candidate fits it is kismet. The best bet for finding a job is through your own network and your own searching.

              1. Natalie*

                “generally speaking, recruiters don’t go out seeking a job for the candidate.”

                I’ve never come across anyone who thinks they do that. YMMV I guess.

                1. Mouse*

                  I thought this, before I read this site and entered the working world and learned what really happens. I think they’re sometimes reflected this way in TV/movies as a plot device, and you don’t know what you don’t know!

    2. irene adler*

      There’s good and bad with working with a recruiter.
      Good: they can polish your resume – no charge to you. They know their clients and can help with interview tips. They are good with supporting you during the interview/hiring process.
      They often field constructive feedback post-interview which can be communicated to you.

      Bad: they are working for the client, not you. Always. So if they don’t think you are a match, you will be ignored. They should be concerned with whether you are a good fit so that the client isn’t back to filling your position a short time later because you didn’t like the job. They don’t have all the jobs available; you still need to continue your job hunt. Might need to work with more than one- as some companies do exclusive business with one recruiter.
      A bad recruiter will change your resume to misrepresent you (embellishments such as inflated titles and accomplishments). Though rare, do watch for this.

      There are recruiters or temp agencies that specialize in certain industries. Try to find one of these. Ask others in your field for their suggestions on who these are. Ask at your local professional organization meeting.

    3. Ainomiaka*

      Honestly, the only experiences I have had with recruiters is them expecting me to drop everything to talk to them about jobs below what I was currently working. Sometimes when they found me off LinkedIn and could see that. So . . . unfortunately not a lot of good advice, other than don’t let them push you around.

      1. irene adler*

        This is an important concept for folks to understand. Good that you posted. Some recruiters are simply looking for a body to place. They don’t read the ‘fine print’ (like current title, experience, industry, etc.) regarding whom they are talking to. So they will waste your time trying to convince you to interview for something that does not fit you.

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      It never hurts to work with a recruiter, but remember a lot of them are terrible. There are definitely good ones out there, but a lot of recruiters are under a lot of pressure to place people in jobs and get a certain number of calls/responses/etc and aren’t necessarily (or able to be) invested in finding you a good job that you’ll be happy in, so keep that in mind.

      That being said, start by marking your linkedin profile as “open to new opportunities”. That alone will probably get a bunch of recruiters reaching out to you. Ignore people that reach out about opportunities that aren’t related to your experience, those are people reaching out to fill a quota and aren’t worth your time. I personally haven’t had a great experience working with recruiters who reach out to me via linkedin, but I know some people have, the quality may depend on your industry and experience level.

      Try and find a recruiter that works specifically in your industry/experience – that will always be better than someone who recruits across all fields. You should also look for a recruiter who works in your area, if possible, googling “[your field/experience] recruiters in [your city] should yield you some results.

      The higher positions you’re going for, the better recruiters you’ll work with. My fiance is senior level in his career and had an awesome recruiter find him who was very personal, honest, only sent him jobs that were good fits, etc. Whereas I’m mid-level and have mostly worked with recruiters who were pushy and sending me anything and everything that seemed like I might be able to make work. Again, this isn’t going to be true 100% of the time, but just something to keep in mind. Most recruiters are really trying to help themselves and earn a commission, so just remember that they don’t always have your best interest at heart. I’m sure a lot of them would prefer to give the personal attention that everyone deserves, but unless you are very high up in food chain, you aren’t going to work with a recruiter who is focused on finding you your dream job, you’re working with someone who has dozens (if not hundreds) of people on file and is just trying to fill positions coming their way.

      This might sound like I’m crapping all over recruiters, which I don’t want to do! I think it’s definitely worth it to work with recruiters and many of them are hard-working, wonderful people. Just some things to keep in mind when working with them. My final recommendations are to cast a wide net with recruiters and keep job hunting on your own.

      Good luck!

    5. Hallowflame*

      To find a recruiter: You can either google “recruiter [your industry]” or ask around in your network for references. I have done both, and was satisfied with both experiences. In both scenarios, you will be able to fill out an online application and submit a copy of your resume and cover letter, and you will be assigned to a recruiter who will contact you if they think they have any job matches for you.
      Working with a recruiter: Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it’s a waste of everyone’s time. It depends entirely on the recruiter you end up working with. One of the drawbacks of working with any recruiter, as many other commenters have noted, is that the employer is paying the recruiter’s commission, not you, so their chief motivation is putting a body in that job, not putting YOU in a job. However, their commission is based on the starting salary of whoever gets hired. If you get a job offer through that recruiter, they are willing and motivated to negotiate a higher starting salary for you.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone! I’ve heard a couple people in passing talk about how they’re working with a recruiter, so it sounded to me like you just go find one. I’ll have to see if I can contact these people and ask.

      I set my LinkedIn profile to show that I’m open to recruiters, but haven’t heard much yet.

      I had someone reach out to me when the sale of the bank was first announced since it was in the news and he recruits for a well-known bank around here. I told him it was way too early, and that I wanted to see what happened in terms of an offer from the acquiring bank. I then reached out again a few months ago to say I’m interested in talking, here’s my resume, and…crickets. He was contacting a lot of people here around the same time and everyone has said that he ghosted on them once they sent over their resume. At least I know I’m not the problem with that one!

      1. irene adler*

        Just know that you will experience a recruiter who contacts you because he is “hot to trot” over an opportunity, and then ghost you when you try to follow-up on it.
        Don’t take it personally. It isn’t you.

  19. dovidbawie*

    Just got my appointment for my unemployment process. I’m extremely nervous that I’ll have to go through this 2 hour meeting only to receive awful direction that could hurt me, like walking in to places to hand over my resume, when that’s just not done in my industry [graphic design/print production].

    Any advice/encouragement from others who’ve gone through the unemployment benefits program?

    1. BeanCat*

      Caveat that my experience is limited, but I actually found some of their courses I was required to take helpful. I was required to sit through a general introduction where they taught us how the process works, and then there was a calendar where we could choose other courses which were more specialized like salary negotiation. I think you had to do one a month?

      Best of luck – it’s a hard spot to be in. We’re all pulling for you here!

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      As a Department of Labor employee, I’d like to ensure you that not all of us are mean and most of us legitimately want you to succeed at your job search. Which means – if in your industry people don’t drop by potential employers, we probably won’t make you do that — because it would be counterproductive.

      Bring your resume and an open mind. You’ll hear stuff about the rules and regs about UI, but you’ll also get some ideas about how to approach job search, which you are welcome to take with a grain of salt, especially if you’ve got more productive strategies you’re planning to use. And take advantage of anything they offer at the office. Just do it all. It’s free and it might just work.

        1. IrishEm*

          Good stuff: My Annual Leave request got approved! Who’s Irish, has two thumbs and is going to Rome this summer? THIS GAL! :D
          And the trade union negotiated better wages and an increase in holiday day, 23 instead of the 21 i was on and €25K even instead of €24,400 I am such a happy camper.
          Bad stuff: Feeling a bit of January stress though because of a payroll snafu I don’t get paid for December’s work until the end of January and… It’s the 12th and I has no moneys. Oh, dear. Trying to not freak the whole way out but really would have appreciated getting paid the same time as everyone else in the company (my nine training companions are in the same boat, so I get commiserations from them, but I don’t think the company realised that I was unemployed before I interviewed and have no savings and have no money for, like, food and bills and stuff. And manager is on her hols so I don’t know who I can talk to about maybe getting some wages released early or anything :( Slightly worrying. Oh, well. I need to focus on the good stuff. Like the fact that I *will* get paid at the end of the month. I will.

      1. Jane*

        California is the only state I’m familiar with the process in, and it does not sound like that is where you are, however I once had a retail job right next door to the post office, and there were totally people dropping off deliberately terrible resumes on a regular basis, so that they could meet job application quotas that were totally insane for professional level jobs. Some one once applied for that office supply retail job with a full length, high quality post doc psychology cv. there are usually ways to hit the right buttons without damaging your professional reputation.

        1. Emma*

          When I was in need of a(nother) job back in 2017, I put myself in the hole instead of claiming JSA, specifically because I knew that JSA would require me to waste a bunch of time hitting quotas etc, and would try to get me to stop the part-time snd voluntary work I was doing that was useful for my professional development, in favour of focussing on getting any fulltime work ASAP, regardless of what it was.

          Without JSA, I was able to target jobs that I was a good candidate for, and put a full day into each application or interview prep; and I got a pretty good hit rate and positive feedback from interviewers as a result. I had £50 left in the bank when my nana’s legacy came through; and I started my great new job 4 months later.

          I was super lucky to be (kind of) in a financial position to tell the jobcentre to fuck off (which, coincidentally is a significant part of my current jobs). I do wonder how much of an impact these kind of terrible policies have on the ability of poor and working class people to get into professional fields, statistically speaking.

    3. Plain Jane*

      I agree, even though some of the info in the classes wasn’t helpful, there still was some info that helped. It was also nice to be around people who were in the same situation.

      One really unexpected benefit was finding out I could get access to help paying my new healthcare premiums, which was something I never considered.

    4. Namast'ay in Bed*

      My advice is to show up, make your peace with the fact that this is a required part of the process, and zone out for a few hours. I found the advice to be so generic and basic (“you should have a resume”, “did you know you can find jobs through the internet?”, etc) that I listened to the pieces I needed to know to fulfill my requirements, but let my mind drift otherwise.

      If you’re following this site you’re probably leagues ahead of the advice the centers are giving, so feel free to ignore their teachings and do your own thing.

      Oh but everyone I interacted with throughout the process was lovely and kind. Just make sure you do what they ask (bring in resumes, document your job hunting, etc) and you’ll be golden!

    5. Liane*

      I had to do that kind of class a year or so ago. I reverted to middle/high school, when I sometimes ended up in classes where most of the class was way behind me*. In those cases, I became an expert at doodling, fiction writing, reading everything but the assignment (which I’d read in the first 5 minutes) all while getting good grades and appearing to Pay Attention and Even Take Notes. So I did the same thing. Looked like I was taking all kinds of useful notes while I was doing prep for a roleplaying game or some such nonsense**. And it was even easier than for Teen Liane, because there weren’t any cool tablets/phones with note apps and everyone using them in the ’70s-’80s.

      *E.g., I was in my grade’s advanced or honors English/Language Arts at School A but moved and enrolled in School B which only had Grade X English/Language Arts, so all knowledge/skill levels in one class

    6. xarcady*

      Are you doing the general, one-size-fits- all program or were you specially selected for a program for a certain demographic, like workers older than 50?

      The general program is pretty basic, but might have some useful information. And they will probably go over what you need to do to keep getting the UI benefit–how many jobs you have to apply to each week, how to report that information, that sort of thing. In my state, we get to watch a little video about UI fraud and what the penalties are.

      They go over things like you don’t have to take a job that won’t pay enough to support you, or that is wildly out of your field–although the tolerance for that decreases the longer you are unemployed. In many states, you can temp or take a part-time job while on UI and they will explain how that affects your benefits.

      Several years ago, I was put in a special program for unemployed people over 50. I had to go the regular program as well, which is one session a month. The special program involved meeting with a counselor every other week for half an hour. While the counselor might have helped other people, she was useless for me. The only advice she gave, after I asked her, was to take all dates off my resume.

      Basically, I would sit there for 30 minutes while she scrolled through the state’s database of available jobs, the same database I was required to log in to twice a month, and look for jobs for me. Jobs that I had usually already applied to. I chalked it up as the cost of getting that weekly UI check, and after the first two meetings, realized that I was not going to get an actual benefit from going to those sessions.

      You might get advice to go pounding the pavement and knocking on doors, but from my experience, no one will follow up to see if you do that.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Just because they give bad advice doesn’t mean you need to take it! They’re not going to march with you into all the firms in town and watch you submit in person.

      Good luck! I hope it goes well.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Don’t worry. I went through that and had to go for these back in 2009/10.
      Basically, it’s a mandatory class where they help you make a resume and show you how to apply for jobs. For me, it was like “Duh,” but we have to remember it’s not the case for everyone. The requirement for UI in my state was 3 job search activities per week (classes or training like this, application, calls, job fair, interviews, etc.) and it’s not too taxing as I was doing that anyway.

      Because I already had my resume done and it was already online on all the major job sites too, I just mostly sat there, or helped others format their Word docs.
      I think some do have practice mock interviews as an option. That can be helpful.

  20. I work on a Hellmouth*

    Another week, another Hellmouth update! I’ve been having a hard time unpacking/winnowing down the list of everything that’s happened this week, but I think if I break it down into just the daily highlights I can keep it coherent. Here goes nothing!

    MONDAY: I worked alone with my boss. Which basically means that I worked alone. One me. Almost 400 apartments filled with unhappy people, all of whom wanted to call and yell about rent on the first regular business day the office is open after late fees start charging. Roughly 20 walk in tours. And a really bad upper respiratory infection that had me barely able to walk a few feet without wheezing and wanting to fall over and never get up again. Not my worst day on the Hellmouth, all things considered.

    TUESDAY: The boss has definitely decided it is my time in the barrel now that her least favorite leasing consultant has left. I was given a large number of extra tasks that she “did not have time to do” and was sent staggering off (still very visibly sick at this point) to run around and do them while she stayed inside and used the office kitchen to bake cookies for my coworker. I think they were chocolate chip (I wasn’t offered any). I decided to have a lunch break NOT in my car, which proved to be a mistake when a spider, unbeknownst to me, crawled onto my water bottle and then, when I picked up said water bottle to take a sip, JUMPED ON TO MY FACE AND BIT ME. ON MY FACE. I am never having lunch outside of my car again.

    This was also the day that my boss reminded us that new desks were showing up between 10am and 2pm the next day. And then suddenly had a freakout in the second part of the day about how we had to start packing everything NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. When I asked about boxes, she dumped out a 6 inch by six inch box full of peppermints and told me to have at it. It held… maybe a quarter of the contents of one of my drawers? Then she spent TWO HOURS deep cleaning and organizing the already clean and organized back room in the most manic fashion possible. It kind of freaked us out.

    WEDNESDAY: I came in to find that all desks, phones, and computers had been dismantled—except for mine. So I handled all of the phone calls and resident issues for the first half of the day since I was the only one who could. My boss spent more hours doing weird cleaning. She then announced that she was ordering pizza for the office (sausage on every pie, which I hate—sorry, sausage lovers!) and got very angry when I opted to eat my packed lunch and take my usual lunch hour. As punishment I got to handle the office by myself while she shut everyone up in the conference room and called old employees of hers “cokewhores” for an hour. Honestly, I would have rather eaten with the face biting spiders, so I am okay with my choices here.

    And now we come to the most dramatic and not okay event of the week: An enraged resident stormed into our office and angrily informed us of his intent to shoot any employee that even knocks on his door. You see, his wife put in a service request and maintenance came to fix it and he wanted us to know that even approaching his apartment would get us shot. He was very serious. He meant it. He expressed it directly to my manager and to the room at large. And then he went down to the maintenance shed and told all of the maintenance workers the same thing.

    To me, this is a big deal. To my coworker, this is a big deal. To my manager, not so much. Her solution is just to non-renew his lease. Which is up at the end of September. She wasn’t even going to tell maintenance what happened, but the dude went and threatened them after threatening us.

    THURSDAY: I caught my boss taking a picture of me and texting it to someone. It was …not okay. I was too stunned to even know what to do at first, but after a few minutes I finally had the wherewithal to say “Um, Boss? Did you just… take my picture and text it to someone?” She then froze, and then said something about taking a picture of my office furniture set up and sending it to her boss (the regional VP), then gave way too much detail about what was in the picture and also listed things that COULDN’T have been in the picture because of where she was at when she took it. I also got sent out to an apartment where I discovered doors ripped off their hinges and a barbecue pit in the middle of the kitchen, but the picture thing kind of broke my brain and is taking up more space there right now.

    FRIDAY: Suck it, Hellmouth! I have called in and am spending the whole day applying to more jobs and eating really tasty food and maybe renting movies. THE WHOLE. DAY. Booyah! And while I got a slightly heartbreaking rejection yesterday, the company that I am currently most interested in is allegedly contacting me next week about setting up an interview. If anyone out there wants to light a candle/say a prayer/sacrifice a goat for me, I would not mind.

    So yeah. That’s my (believe it or not, very abbreviated) week.

    1. SoGladImNotAlone*

      Oh my dear Hellmouth. I hope something else comes through for you very soon. When a spider biting your face is preferable to spending time with your boss and coworkers, you know it’s bad.

      Also, please do write a sitcom proposal. Or start a blog. Something. You are very talented and I love your resilience and your sense of humor.

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        Aw, thanks! I have been thinking about maybe starting a blog, but then I wonder what I would write about post-Hellmouth that would be interesting. Although I cut so much stuff out, I guess I’d never really run out of Hellmouth stories… I’d have plenty of “lost episodes”! Like this week—I totally cut out The Battle of the Filing Cabinet.

        1. AnonAndOn*

          I am hoping that you *don’t* have anymore updates like this post-Hellmouth, because you deserve to work in a healthy environment where you are respected and treated well.

          I’m so sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I hope that the job that you’re planning an interview for pans out!

    2. Bee's Knees*

      Wow. By the time I got to the spider (any superpowers yet?) I already was shocked. The hellmouth doesn’t disappoint. I’m glad you’re taking a day for yourself. I would sacrifice of a goat for you, cause they creep me, but it would probably open up a portal and dump me there, and then where would we be? Tbh, I don’t know that your boss would make it through the day, cause she and I would have to go somewhere quiet and have a *talk*

    3. Totally Minnie*

      Are you positive that your boss is a human being, not a swarm of bees magicked into a human shape like that worm guy from season 2 of Buffy?

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        An avenue worth exploring, but I think honeybees are probably way more cuddly than my boss.

    4. Brogis*

      Wait, you’re doing updates on these threads?! That’s my commute reading sorted!

      Seconding the blog idea. I really love what you’ve written for Friday: it’s a textbook example of how to handle Life, no matter how weird or awful things get.

      Thinking of you and your struggles, and hoping things improve soon.

    5. Parenthetically*

      I would sacrifice all the goats, honestly, but surely there’s been enough goat sacrifice at the Hellmouth?

      I’m so glad you can update us with this as a precursor to publishing a very entertaining and ever-so-lightly fictionalized version of this one day to make zillions of dollars as your karmic reward, and may your next job be several zip codes from its nearest Hellmouth.

    6. Jersey's mom*

      Holy crap!

      I’ll do the only thing I can. I’m recovering from ACL surgery. For some reason, my mother-in-law has her congregation praying for my knee. I am confident my knee is smart enough to heal on its own, so I am diverting those prayers toward your job search. I am unsure of delivery dates for rerouted prayers, hopefully they will arrive soon.

      Good luck and enjoy the days off!

    7. AliceUlf*

      Before I read your post, my focus went straight to the line “JUMPED ON TO MY FACE AND BIT ME. ON MY FACE,” and I was sure for a moment that the guy had been right about the SQUIRRELS. Being relieved about a face-biting spider, instead, is a weird experience.

      Be strong, friend. *sends good vibes from the Getting-Out-of-Property-Management Sisterhood* *also sacrifices a squirrel*

      1. I work on a Hellmouth*

        This both made me laugh AND made me really grateful that my face wasn’t mauled by a squirrel. Truly, there is always a silver lining.

    8. SAHM*

      Seconding (Thirding?) the write a book, blog, or screenplay for this. Priceless. Also, praying you get an interview to a sane work place!

    9. BadWolf*

      Having recently read “Charlotte’s Web”, the spider was trying to tell you to “Get out” but mixed up the delivery a little bit.

        1. Batshua*

          We should talk, then, because it would probably be better to do it on behalf of you with more information about who you are than to say “This working is on behalf someone on AAM who goes by ‘I work on a Hellmouth'”… :D

    10. Veger*

      This is honestly the material of a sitcom. *gets popcorn and starts binge watching Hellmouth*
      Please let us know if you develop spider like super powers.

      (May you find a new job soon because, screw you Hellmouth Inc.)

    11. Wishing You Well*

      Exorcism? Smudging? Maybe something a little less messy than goat sacrifice…
      REALLY hope things get better for you.

    12. Gumby*

      So threatening to shoot anyone who comes to your door isn’t legal, right? I don’t want to Google it right now because I like having this job and also a life that is free of law enforcement surveillance (as far as I know) and there is a chance that some day I might need to have a security clearance of some sort. But that can’t be legal.

      Also, how does your manager intend to convey “we didn’t renew your lease and you must move out” to said resident?

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just read this while eating lunch and it was the scariest thing I’ve read in a long time.

      I love goats, so no sacrificing but I will pet a goat for you while lighting a candle xoxo

    14. Not Gary, Gareth*

      My goodness. Spider bite or not, you’re a superhero just for sticking it out at that place. I would have… well, I’m not sure what I would have done by now in your position, but I’m pretty sure “hanging in there until I find something better” would have been REAL low on the list.

      I am also going to add my voice to the general clamor for a blog. I genuinely don’t think you need to worry about running out of stories once you’re no longer working there; not because of the lost episodes, but because you could just make shit up and NOBODY WOULD EVER KNOW THE DIFFERENCE. At this point you could be like “So this Tuesday my boss ripped off her own face, which it turns out was just a rubber mask, and underneath was a swarm of super extra venomous cobras in the shape of Cthulhu with killer bees for eyes, then she yelled at me and made me clean up poop with my bare hands” and we’d just be like “Yup, sounds about right for Hellmouth.”

      And probably one other person in property management would be like “Oh yeah, that’s happened to me before, sucks right?”

      What I’m saying is, you have a fantastic franchising opportunity on your hands and we are all here to eagerly buy into it. :)

    15. Not So NewReader*

      A dozen of each- candle, prayer and goat. No one should have to work under these circumstances. The fact that working conditions like this exist in the US or any where means all of us have failed somehow.

    16. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      Holy moly. I hope you escape before the Hellmouth gets you. The tenants are getting more terrifying, your boss is getting more bizarre, and I don’t even know what to make of the barbecue pit. You have a job that isn’t to be left, it’s to be run from, screaming.

    17. Mimmy*

      Okay, I’ve decided to jump in and read this for the first time – holy CR*P you have an insane job!!! Working with residents is probably very difficult in any setting, but this one takes the cake!

      Sending up positive vibes and a hope that you find a new job in a much healthier environment soon.

  21. possible homeowner?*

    Sorry, this is a bit of an odd question and I’m totally sure that I’m overthinking things. I’m very early in my career (graduated college in Spring 2018, started working full-time for the company I interned with during the summers as a student). So, I’ve been working for this company for about a year in total. I live and work on the other side of the country from where I grew up and went to school, although my parents do plan on retiring here in a few years.

    Due to a series of incredibly fortunate circumstances, I’m in the position where I’m considering purchasing a home. However, I’m somewhat hesitant to do so because I’m concerned of how it will look to my coworkers and my bosses. Ideally, I would love to have a long career here. I’m passionate about the work we do and I’m part of a really strong group within the company, plus theres a lot of opportunity for growth and upward mobility. Basically, I’m wondering if putting down pretty solid roots will make me look more committed to the job (because I completely am, and my company’s had a bit of an issue with people who didn’t grow up in the area leaving after a couple years) or would you think it makes me look like I’m overconfident in my abilities and my position at work?

    1. CTT*

      At best people will think “Cool, she must have decided that she really wants to stay in our area” and at worst they won’t care.

    2. JustaCPA*

      I think you are way overthinking this. I cant imagine your work community would care in the slightest and if anything, it would be a positive, “oh “possible homewoner” loves it here enough to buy a house”

    3. Four lights*

      I think you may be reading too much into it. I don’t think anybody will think anything, and if they do it will just be that you plan on staying in the area for a while. I would make the best decision for you, and not worry about what they think.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      To be honest, I don’t think anyone would care, certainly not to the point of wondering how the home purchase impacts your commitment to the company. You’re far more likely to get people congratulating you and/or wondering how you were able to buy a home so early in your career. And that– the latter part– is just nosiness. You’re overthinking. Good luck with the purchase process!

    5. Minerva McGonagall*

      If you are happy and want to stay in the area, go for it! I don’t think your co-workers would think of you as overconfident if you buy a house.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      Don’t worry about it from a work standpoint. I graduated in May 2000 and bought my house in April 2001, and no one thought it was showy, risky, or otherwise. The only thing I will say is that it costs more than you might think, once you factor in furnishing, upkeep, taxes, etc. I didn’t have blinds for YEARS.

    7. GoodDawn*

      I bought my first home at a young age and will tell you that no one up the chain of command will give it a second thought. Anyone at your same level *who is not in a position to also purchase a home* will possibly look on with jealousy. My advice is to not make a big deal out of it. Your friends will be happy for you; haters are gonna hate.

    8. Lilysparrow*

      Of all the things one needs to consider in whether or not to buy a home, “how will this look to my boss and co-workers” is not one of them.


      At all.

    9. Parenthetically*

      Best lesson I learned at your age was that no one is thinking about me nearly as much as I fear. Everybody has their own life to worry about and “nice young former intern bought a house” is going to be the barest blip on anyone’s radar, requiring no further analysis, freeing you to do as you wish without considering how it will look to others. Go forth and home-own.

    10. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      At most, folks will think “Wow, Possible Homeowner is lucky to be able to buy a house so young!” … and then go on with their day.

      Congrats, and no need to worry!

    11. Anon for Now*

      I doubt anyone will read anything into it.

      The only thing I might suggest is that you consider holding off unless there are a lot of jobs in your field in your area. I bought my first house in my mid-20’s, and when I wanted to move a few years later for a job opportunity in another area, I couldn’t because I couldn’t sell my house (and I couldn’t afford rent and a mortgage). Buying a house is exciting, but it can be an albatross if you haven’t considered what you’d do if you want to move.

      1. NACSACJACK*

        This is what I would have said. If you have the 20% for a down payment and have factored in all the other costs, I would go ahead and do it. Keep in mind your future SO might live somewhere else. My parents counseled me against buying a house with my first job, so glad they did. I left that company and the whole state 18 months later. Four years into my career, I met someone who lived 600 miles away. At one point, I suggested we move to a major city exactly halfway between his home town and my home town. We didnt, but it was a possibility. At your age, the future is an open road.

        Congrats and let the haters hate. I know i was jealous of others who were able to buy at a younger age, but at the time I bought, I would have bought sooner if the ex had agreed. Life!

    12. Asenath*

      No one’s going to give it a moment’s thought! If anything, the sort of thing buying a house might imply – planning ahead, saving money, making a commitment to the area – are positive.

      The smartest financial thing I ever did was to buy a house on my own, and fairly early (although not as early as you). I had well-meaning people warn me about unexpected costs, since I wasn’t earning much then. But I lived there for some years, paying no more (and eventually less) than I’d have had to pay in rent, and building up equity which I used to get a nicer place all on one level (thinking ahead again). It was really a win all round.

    13. Lemon Zinger*

      Your living situation has nothing to do with your work. It’s nobody’s business where you live or how you spend your money.

    14. Uncategorized Rejections*

      Uh… how would anyone at your work know if you owned or rented? With the exception of one coworker who told the office he is house hunting, I have no idea as to the homeowner status of anyone.

    15. I'm A Little Teapot*

      All I can say is, don’t buy a house if you don’t actually want to own a house. It’s a very different thing than renting.

    16. Jen S. 2.0*

      Agree. At most, people will think, wow, she’s lucky and smart with her money! People buy houses all the time with little regard for how long they will live in them (they might be planning to rent them or flip them) and unrelated to how long they think they will be in their jobs.

      But mostly, most people really don’t think that hard about your living situation unless you bring it up all the time.

    17. Doodle*

      First of all, congrats on the job and on buying a place of your own!

      Second, you’re overthinking how people will interpret your buying a house — they will not see any deep meaning in it. Also, owning a house doesn’t mean you’re going to stay in the area. People buy houses, live in them briefly, sell them and move away…all the time (unless you’re in an area with a seriously bad market).

      Take your time doing the numbers, looking at places — have fun with it!

    18. Tinker*

      When I hear that a coworker has just bought their first house, I generally take it as an opportunity to tell all of my sewer line stories.

      (That horrifying moment when you’re sitting around at home peacefully reading and then hear from the vicinity of the floor drain in the basement an unexpected GLORP.)

      If I were to think about it — and I probably wouldn’t aside from bringing up the subject — what buying a home reflects about your attitude toward your abilities is that you probably expect to remain employed for at least the medium term and generally employable in positions at least comparable to your current one going forward. Barring, like, distinct indicators that you very clearly ought to think otherwise, I think that’s an exceedingly reasonable self-estimation to have.

  22. Folklorist*

    This is your Friday I’m-Really-Just-Here-For-The-Ducks-But-I-Guess-While-I’m-At-It-I’ll-Post-An ANTI-PROCRASTINATION POST!!!!!!! Ok, now we’ve all seen the ducks, so let’s duck out of here and go do something we’ve been putting off. Afterwards, we can come back here and brag about it!!!

    I’m going to finish this stupid $#$%^%$ newsletter.

    1. Lolli*

      Set up a meeting to discuss the latest on a hot potatoe that was passed back to me. Yea…fun times…
      Thanks for the anti procrastination post! Loved the duck pictures too!

    2. Lalaith*

      I finally made a doctor’s appointment that I kept not doing. Yay, I can finally take it out of my reminder app instead of editing the time over and over!

  23. Bee's Knees*

    Thanks to everyone who said to suck it up and ask my boss if I was supposed to come to those meetings, the answer was yes. It’s made my job easier when I can be there while everyone is in the same room.

    Someone paged um… Sally… on the intercom. I was confused, cause they just said Sally. I wasn’t sure how they would get the right one, but then I remembered. There is only the one. I have a fairly popular name. I am the only one here. Not surprising when there’s only about a dozen women, (Ah, STEM) but it hasn’t happened since elementary that I’ve been the only one with my name. I have taken great joy in not signing my emails with my full name. Is this what Beyonce feels like?

    Someone threatened to get a lawyer involved in something yesterday. No one has threatened me with the law since I left the paper, and it’s been over a month. I was almost starting to miss it.

  24. Transferring on Performance Review*

    Happy Friday Commentariat!

    I’m planning to apply for a position in a different office in late Feb/early March (why the delay? I have a week and a half international trip already booked flying in/out of current city, plus I don’t want to disappear for a week mid-application process)
    Self-assessments are due by the end of January, and one question is about goals/changes for the next year, the example given is moving disciplines, teams, offices, etc.
    Do I tell my current office in January, or do I wait until I’ve applied/am talking with new office in a few months?

    Related – how (if) would a resume be different as a transfer/internal applicant opposed to an outside applicant?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Don’t tell your current office. You’re /planning/ to /apply/, you’re not even interviewing yet. For all you know, the position will be closed by the time you get back from your trip (though hopefully not!). If your current position has any relation to possible!new!position, you could maybe work that in your goals for the year. E.g., you’re a llama groomer, and you’re apply for alpaca herding, you could say “get training on alpaca grooming” or “get training on llama herding.” Put down what your goals in current!position would be if new!position falls through.

      I don’t know about a resume being different, but a cover letter would be different for an internal applicant. I could talk in more detail about my work because I knew I could talk about our proprietary system.

      PS if your company is anything like my large corporation, hiring is so slow that you can apply and take your trips anyway ;)

  25. AdAgencyChick*

    First of all: The fish resignation photo is AMAZING.

    And now, asking for a friend (really), but writing as if it’s me. (I work really closely with the person in this situation, which is why I know so many details.)

    I’m a recently hired (but not new to managing) manager, and the team I’ve been hired to supervise includes several underperforming people. These people have been allowed to do work below what their job title indicates for months, some for well over a year, either because my position was open or because the previous manager was willing to tolerate low performance.

    Now, however, my superiors are insisting that I do a PIP and pretty much prepare to fire Fergus, the person they perceive as being the worst performer. After 3 months on the job, I don’t agree that Fergus is the worst: Although I think he’s underperforming relative to his job title, I think he can improve with coaching and I think he’s very talented in ways management isn’t considering, whereas Percival is also not up to his job title and I’ve seen a level of carelessness and apathy that makes me think he’s less likely to be coachable.

    What do we, the company, owe Fergus? On the one hand, he’s not performing at the level he needs to be — not here or at any organization with the same job title. On the other hand, the company let him do exactly what he’s doing for more than a year before I got here, so it seems like we should give him more time (with me actively managing him and pushing him to achieve at the level we want) before deciding it’s PIP time.

    If Fergus had been hired a month ago I would say cut him loose. But I think the company should own its part in letting things get to the point they’re at now and give Fergus more like a six-month plan than a one-month PIP, and also as the manager of this team I think Fergus has more potential to be good than Percival does.

    What say you?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Six months is a really, really long time for a PIP. At most, I’d do two months. At that point you should know if he’s going to be able to work at the level you need or not. (Maybe he won’t be exactly there yet, but you should see significant improvement if it’s going to happen.)

    2. Mockingjay*

      If the team hasn’t had real management in a year, I don’t think individual PIPs will achieve the results the company wants.

      Can you reframe things? “Going forward, our department/team will be doing this…” Then lay out a specific plan: roles, current and upcoming projects, schedules. Explain your role as well. Describe consequences for failure, but let them know you are there to help if they get stuck.

      By providing structure for the team to follow, you can better evaluate individual performance and determine who really needs a PIP.

    3. Daisy Avalin*

      I agree with Alison, in that the PIP should be shorter than 6 months, but I think it should be applied to both Fergus and Percival. That way, if you’re right about Fergus he’ll improve, and if Percival has got into a habit of not caring, the PIP will either buck him out of it, or show that he needs to go.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I 100% agree that he needs to be. Unfortunately, senior management perceives him as having a particular skill that we as a company are lacking in, so my colleague has a double hard row to hoe in terms of convincing them that if Fergus needs to be on a PIP, Percival needs to even more.

          Thanks all for the perspective on the length of the PIP that would be appropriate!

    4. Kathenus*

      I’m not going to get into the aspect of the length of PIPs or action plans, but instead focus on your question of what the company ‘owes Fergus’. At my last job I had someone in a lead role who was at best doing half of his job. But it was a similar situation, for over a decade he was not coached or mentored to the aspects of what should have been his job that he wasn’t doing. Think of someone who is the lead of the llama department, which includes the North section llamas and the South section llamas. While he does schedules and basic functions like ordering supplies for both sides, he focuses the vast majority of his time with the North section because that’s where he worked before and where he was most comfortable, and the South section staff feels unsupported and forgotten.

      My predecessor had allowed this for years, and when I came in my boss wanted me to take a very hard line and potentially demote this person to working only in the North section. I had to lobby hard, but eventually got permission to spend time setting clearer expectations for what he had to do in his lead role with respect to the South section and then see how he did with the extra information, structure, and training.

      So to stop rambling, I think that the organization does owe Fergus something – and that is the opportunity to be informed what he SHOULD be doing, along with any training or support needed to be able to realistically achieve these goals, and then a reasonable amount of time to let him succeed, or not.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Coming back to this very late, but hoping you see this: Thanks for that example. This is exactly what I’m uncomfortable with — that the company has let Fergus be who he is for so long, and all of a sudden they’re making my colleague do the work of getting rid of him, and on a rapid timeline. I think it’s not fair to Fergus (who should be allowed the chance to live up to clearly stated expectations) or to my colleague (who the rank-and-file will almost certainly view as “the bad guy” who fired their beloved Fergus; he is very well liked among junior staffers since they’re not evaluating him as a leader).

        What ended up happening with your employee? Did he rise to your expectations?

        1. Kathenus*

          Kinda? He did Ok, not exceptional but fine. He didn’t really like having to spend time and focus on the other area but he did and the team liked seeing him be held to performing his complete job.

          An ancillary problem when I started was that many on the team had long been frustrated that he hadn’t been held to account for doing all aspects of the job so it did help with the morale with them too.

          A year later I had the ability to promote a South lead as well so ended up with one that focused primarily on each area. So ‘my Fergus’ ended up officially in the job he had been performing eventually, focused on North. It worked to his strengths. A different person could have excelled covering both, but he had put in over 20 years and I think he earned the opportunity to first have a chance to be coached to do both, and to end his career in a role he was best suited for.

  26. More Money, More Problems*

    We had a sticky money situation at my job yesterday. I’m the senior admin assistant in a division with 150 people. One of our employees, Nicky, went into the restroom, set a $50 bill on the counter in the stall, and then accidentally left the money behind when she vacated the stall. She remembered the money, went back to the bathroom two minutes later, and another employee, Susan, was in there. Nicky checked the stall, didn’t see the money, and asked Susan if she had seen it. Susan denied seeing it. Nicky feels Susan took the money, but can’t prove it.
    Nicky had me send an email to our entire division to ask that the person who picked up the money return it in an envelope and leave it on my desk — hoping that Susan’s conscience would get the best of her and she would anonymously return the money. Susan instead came to my office and suggested that Nicky must have accidentally flushed the money. I have no idea if Susan actually took the money, but the whole thing has been disappointing. Glad it’s only $50, not something more valuable, but it’s still a decent amount of money to lose, and makes me sad that whoever found the money didn’t turn it in to lost and found.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      OK, so, the first thing that popped into my head was this: why on earth would someone have an unenclosed $50 bill somewhere and why would they put it down in a bathroom? Nicky has a lot of responsibility here. The whole story just doesn’t make sense to me at all. Is there already bad blood between Nicky and Susan? Is Nicky the type to “bring drama”? Is Susan?

      But I just keep coming back to side-eyeing Nicky. I don’t care if she doesn’t have pockets; I would have wadded up that bill in my fist before I set it down somewhere. It’s a piece of paper that can easily fly away, get flushed, get stuck on someone’s shoe, etc.

      1. More Money, More Problems*

        Nicky said she had tucked the money into the waistband of her pants and that is why she set it on the stall’s counter while she was using the restroom. I’m guessing the dress pants she was wearing didn’t have pockets.
        No bad blood at all between Nicky and Susan, in fact, they rarely if ever interact. Their jobs don’t require any interaction.
        Nicky is actually a very trusted person around here, so I didn’t question her story, but you make an excellent point about her responsibility for the loss!

        1. Doodle*

          I dunno, if I’m walking around with cash in my hand and I have to pee, I stick it on top of the tp dispenser in the stall. Or in my bra. Or in my sock. Or my shoe. Or hold it with my teeth. Or set it in my dropped pants. Or do my biz with just one hand. (And who walks around with a 50 tucked in their waistband?? It could fall out at any time!)

          Seriously, Nicky is a doofus and it’s too bad the money was stolen, and it’s really sad that people suck that much and steal money like that, but since you don’t KNOW what happened, Nicky is just going to have to get over it.

          1. :-)*

            I wouldn’t hold it between my teeth, that’s just… one never knows where that bill has been.
            However I would do everything else you wrote down: bra, sock, shoe, hold it in one of my fists.

            So yes, I agree that Nicky is the one who had the biggest part in this. You don’t walk around with that amount of money in your hand when going to the toilet.

        1. More Money, More Problems*

          Nicky said she was leaving the building to pay for something?!?
          This is why I love AAM. I never thought to even question Nicky’s account because she has an excellent reputation.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Even if her story is true, that the $50 was there to begin with, it’s disappointing that she immediately jumped to accusing Susan. Losing a bill like that is embarrassing and stressful, but going straight to accusing someone of theft is not cool.

            Next time she wants to use a bill to buy something outside of work and she doesn’t have pockets, she should take a wallet or an envelope. And leave it at her desk, go to the bathroom first, and go back for it. A $50 lesson.

            1. Anon because this is slightly identifying*

              Even if her story is true, that the $50 was there to begin with, it’s disappointing that she immediately jumped to accusing Susan. Losing a bill like that is embarrassing and stressful, but going straight to accusing someone of theft is not cool.

              If I were in Nicky’s shoes, and I’d left cash and returned two minutes later to find it gone and only one person in the area? I’d jump to the same conclusion.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think all the “why did she have it out in the first place?” questions are awfully victim-blamey. Maybe it wasn’t wise, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

            It’s far more suspicious to me that Susan took it upon herself to come to your office and suggest Nicky must have accidentally flushed the money (which is a super specific and odd suggestion to go out of her way to make to you).

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I considered that, but this story is just so odd to me that I don’t even know if she’s a victim. If the money was stolen, then yes, that’s wrong, but having been in situations where I lost something that I could have avoided, I don’t like the jumping to theft.

            2. Kate R*

              I thought that was a little suspicious of Susan too, unless she already knows Nicky accused her of stealing it and also thinks the email was specifically directed at her (it’s hard to say without knowing what was said in the bathroom or in the email). If someone accused me of taking something, and I said I didn’t, and then their boss accused of taking that thing (either directly or implied), I’d probably jump to defense with alternate theories too.

              1. Bagpuss*

                I’d assume that she did know, since Nicky already asked her directly and then there was the office wide e-mail.Even if Nicky didn’t directly accuse her, it doesn’t seem to me that it’s much of a jump for her to work out that Nicky was at the least suspicious of her, to put it no higher.
                Both Nicky’s actions in taking a loose $50 into the rest room, and Susan’s suggestion she flushed it seem weird, but I don’t find it strange for Susan to try to come up with suggestions as to what may have happened.

            3. More Money, More Problems*

              Oh yeah, the whole flushing theory from Susan was definitely….odd. Possible? Yes. Probable? No.

            4. Autumnheart*

              I wouldn’t necessarily consider it suspicious that Susan came to the office. Susan ran into Nicky in the bathroom, and Nicky asked her if she’d taken the money, and then gone to the OP. It would be reasonable to conclude that that’s what Nicky told OP, and therefore Susan came to OP to suggest that maybe the bill fell in the toilet without Nicky realizing. If I were Susan, I absolutely wouldn’t want a colleague telling management that I had stolen someone’s money. That seems like a way to get instantly fired and then have enormous trouble getting hired anywhere else.

              Anyway, Nicky learned that this is why you don’t leave unaccompanied cash bills lying around in common areas, and hopefully Susan isn’t being thought of a thief without any evidence.

            5. JamieS*

              Its not victim blamey if there’s no actual victim and we don’t know Nicki is a victim. Yes she lost $50 but that by itself doesn’t make her a victim just unlucky. Also it’s not that odd Susan made that suggestion since Nicki both questioned Susan and then a mass email was sent out making this appear to be a “big deal” that was being pursued. Her suggestion was perfectly reasonable and logical.

            6. SignalLost*

              That’s what I picked up on. Why would you claim (proactively) that the money was flushed when you’re the chief suspect?

              1. Totally Minnie*

                Probably because she knew Nicky suspected her already. If it were me, and I had been accused of taking money I didn’t take, I’d probably do the same thing. I don’t know if Susan took the money, but this in and of itself isn’t evidence that she did.

        2. Temperance*

          Whenever I hit the restroom before I grab food or a snack, I bring my badge and money/CC with me. I know everyone on my floor, so it wouldn’t occur to me not to be able to trust them. I don’t bring it into the stall because I’m a germaphobe and try and carry as few things into the bathroom as I can.

    2. LCL*

      I’m not convinced yet that the 50$ existed and disappeared under the circumstances Nicky describes. This is…weird.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        I tend to think that this is also a valid concern for the OP – goodness knows, I’ve been absolutely SURE I’ve done something with an item, been annoyed because the something isn’t where I left it, and later realized that it was somewhere else entirely.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Same. I’m not sure I would even consider this theft, more like “finders keepers, losers weepers”. Yeah, it would have been nice if the finder had returned the money when the email went out, but we’re talking about a $50 bill sitting without any sign of ownership in an empty restroom. It’s not like someone took it off Nicky’s desk or out of her purse.

        1. valentine*

          we’re talking about a $50 bill sitting without any sign of ownership in an empty restroom. It’s not like someone took it off Nicky’s desk or out of her purse.
          It’s theft all the same.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            No. It’s unattended abandoned property with no way of knowing the real owner. Stop.

                1. JamieS*

                  If you found $50 in a bathroom stall and a couple minutes later someone came into the bathroom and asked if you’d seen the $50 they’d accidentally left then you can’t claim you thought the money was abandoned nor that you couldn’t locate the owner. It’s theft plain and simple.

                  Even if they didn’t immediately come back for it I doubt anyone would buy the BS defense of “I thought it was abandoned so made no attempt to try to return it” if you got caught out.

          2. Doodle*

            Correct. If I found a 50 sitting in the ladies room, I’d take it to the office manager/lost and found, or send out an email: Found cash in ladies room. It’s not like it’s lying in the gutter. Obviously it belongs to someone in the office.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep. A local library found a large bill in a pile of donated books. A message went out, “If anyone is missing some cash please contact us. Money will be released to the person who can describe the cash or how it might have been found.”
              No one answered and the cash went to the bank account as a donation.

        2. Lilysparrow*

          If it’s a public access restroom or a huge company, maybe that’s a reasonable attitude. If it’s a fairly small group of people with access to the restroom, and they all know each other and work together, this is off base.

          If you know it must belong to one of your co-workers (and you can eliminate half of them off the top by choice of restroom), you should look for the owner.

          1. Glomarization, Esq.*

            The lesson isn’t whether or not it’s theft. The lesson is that if you leave a $50 bill in a stall in a bathroom, public or private or semi-private, you’re simply likely to never see it again.

    3. Uncategorized Rejections*

      Too much time for Nicky to assume Susan was the culprit. A bathroom is a high-traffic area, there could have been others in the stall.

    4. Jersey's mom*

      Sometimes there are no “good guys” in a story.

      Nicky’s handling of a 50 dollar bill in the bathroom is weird, and that she remembered “two minutes later”. (Myself, I probably would have tucked it into my bra while in the bathroom.

      Susan’s response, well, I’ve nearly dropped many things into a toilet too. A light piece of paper could easily fall while a person was moving about in the stall.

      The take away I have here is that no one is a good guy or bad guy. As someone above said, an expensive lesson on how to not handle cash in a public bathroom.

      The only thing I’d watch for in the future is that this incident does not become a work issue (trash talking or bad mouthing) of either person involved.

      1. Jaid_Diah*

        +1 for the bra pocket. I have used that myself on the rare occasion that I’m not wearing jeans.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m sorry but I have no sympathy if you put a chunk of change down and forget it. I’m enraged that Susan is under suspicion and considered guilty…when v someone made a $50 error of their own. It’s unacceptable to pass the blame, she’s petty and dodging blame. By catering to her, you are adding to a bad atmosphere.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        This is where I am as well. This is terribly unfortunate, but I have a hard time seeing Nicky as a victim here. Sometimes you … did a not-ideal thing, and sometimes you learn a tough lesson as a result. But it stretches the imagination to the point of breaking to think someone would turn loose cash in to lost and found. Like, wha? This reminds me of the letter where the LW left her snow boots in the recycling bin for 2 days, then was totally shocked when the custodians threw them out.

        Note: I once found $22 in a work bathroom stall. I put up a sticky note inside the stall (so the person would have needed to have come back to the specific stall to search) saying “Did you lose something in here? If so, contact Jen S. 2.0.” It was an odd amount of money, so when the person referenced the note and named the exact amount, I was happy to return it. But if the end of the work day had come and no one claimed it? Finders keepers, and my conscience would have been clear.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I like how you handled it!

          I have been lucky and twice gotten phones back that were left in stalls. Only once was it mine, other time it was a friend while on vacation. I was fully prepared to deal with the replacement process and a phone is helluva lot more than $50. It was my fault! The world is great when you catch a break in an unfortunate expensive brain fart but to act entitled to someone running around “you lose this!? You see who lost this tho?!” is wildly out of line with reality.

        2. Windchime*

          Really? I found a neatly-folded $100 bill in the middle of the aisle at JC Penney at Christmas time, years ago. I took it to the nearest cashier and turned it in. They took my name and number in case nobody came to claim it. That was somebody’s Christmas shopping money; it’s kind of sad to think it’s a “stretch of the imagination” that someone would turn it in to lost and found.

    6. Approval is optional*

      Wow, just wow. The amount of ‘victim blaming’ in response to this situation is amazing – and saddening. So many people who seem to think that making a mistake and leaving something valuable unattended is just as bad, if not worse, than someone who doesn’t own it picking it up and keeping it. Or that the careless person ‘deserved’ to lose it. Or that perhaps she’s lying and never actually had said item in the first place. Or that she should have ‘transported’ it in a better way. Using that logic, take a small jump and you’ll find it possible to justify snatching it from her person because she was careless about how she secured it.
      We all put things down and forget to pick them up again – our phones, our tablets, our keys etc etc – and we don’t deserve to have them stolen. A decent, honest person who finds something that doesn’t belong to them in an office (and other places too of course) hands it to the person/s who are best placed to find the owner; a decent, honest person doesn’t pocket the item.
      I doubt people would be saying the same thing if Nicky had left her phone behind in the stall. Is it that it’s money? After yesterday (and the faint memory of a post about a woman who dressed too ‘affluently’ for her colleagues liking), I’m inclined to think that there is some sort of difference between money and all other possessions in many people’s minds for some reason/s I can’t fathom.

      1. TechWorker*

        I’m 100% with you that it’s not ok to pocket the money in this circumstance. It’s also not at all ok to basically accuse someone of stealing with no evidence though, so I think to cast her as the victim here is a bit far. It’s unfortunate, but given there’s no proof anyone stole it at all, I would really consider them a victim. (Ditto if you like, left your phone on public transport or something, that’s shit but you’re not a victim..).

        1. Approval is optional*

          Well, firstly I wrote victim blaming in inverted commas because I was commenting on the attitude of some in the comments, not on the correct definition for someone in Nicky’s situation. Secondly, where does it say she accused her? The letter says she asked Susan if she’d *seen* it and now ‘Nicky feels Susan took the money, but can’t prove it.’ There is nothing to indicate that Nicky accused Susan of taking it when they met in the bathroom, nothing to indicate that Nicky has told anyone other than the LW of her suspicions, and there is certainly nothing to indicate that Nicky is running around the office screaming, ‘J’accuse’. And there is in fact some circumstantial evidence that point to Susan having taken the money, so suspecting her is not unreasonable IMHO.
          And I stand by my comments on ‘victim’ blaming. There are only a small handful of comments on the post that don’t criticise Nicky , or question *her* honesty, or say she is mostly to blame, or that she ‘learned a lesson’ and so on. Cries of ‘how dare she blame Susan without proof’ (though the people making those comments haven’t seen fit to call out people calling Nicky a liar with zero proof) , not a lot of cries of ‘poor Nicky, if someone took it, they are a thief and they suck’.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        One reason people are drawing a distinction about cash is that it’s nearly impossible to prove ownership, unlike a lost phone, lost wallet, lost child, stolen car, et cetera. If you *see* someone drop it? Absolutely you should grab it and give it back to that person. If it was in a bank envelope and someone accurately describes the envelope and amount? Sure, that’s proof enough. But unattended loose cash in an empty room is where things get blurry.

        That’s why I raise an eyebrow at the logic of turning it in to lost and found — the lost and found person is just as likely to pocket it as anything else.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Going out to pay for ‘something?’ With no purse, no keys, no phone? With a $50 bill stuffed in her waist band?

      Susan’s ‘she must have flushed it?’

      I would stay out of the drama.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, that is where I go also. I’d say that this stuff happens to the best of us and think of it as a learning experience.

        I will never forget the time I had personal check for cash beside me in the car going to the bank. When I got up to the teller’s window, it was gone. I never found it. It never got cashed either. I have no clue how that check got away from me with the windows closed. But it made me more aware how easy it is to lose small pieces of anything made out of paper.

  27. Arya Parya*

    Last October I started a new job as application manager. Which means I manage all the applications, website and apps. I take care they run correctly and if anyone runs into problems, error or don’t understand how something works, they come to me. I’ve got nothing to do with the data they put into the application. So for example: the content on the website is put there by our editors.

    My coworker uses a smallish application to enter contract data. My predecessor used to do that. I was asked not to start learning that one right away and focus on the core applications first. My coworker was told this several times by my manager. But at the end of October she came in asking if I could help out with a few contracts. Then she quickly explained the application and contract data to me and that was that, I now have this task as well. (She did this when my manager was out btw.)

    I understand the application just fine, but not the contract information. It’s in an Excel file that has way more (sensitive) data than I need and I don’t know what exactly is relevant. It was explained to me really quickly and I didn’t know she was explaining the whole task to me. I just thought I had to know those few contracts and get the rest explained to me later. (I’ve raised this a while ago and she’s been checking the most important contracts until we find time to do a proper knowledge transfer)

    So I’ve been thinking about this a bit and I really think this shouldn’t be my task in the first place. This is similar to placing content on a website, it’s not my strong suit and not what I was hired for. But I don’t think my coworker will want this task back. She says she’s very busy (aren’t we all?) and it was never her task to begin with. I understand that and am willing to compromise. Maybe a different file just for me with only the information I need, so I can pretty much copy and paste it. I’ve suggested this, but she just wants to keep things the way they were and is only willing to explain the Excel file to me again. She basically told me I just have to deal with it.

    I’m trying to set a bigger picture meeting with her, my manager, her manager and me, to discuss the options. Any advice on how to raise this and get a good outcome for all involved? I think my manager has my back on this, so that’s something. But if you think I should suck it up and do the task, then I’d love to hear that too. Just looking for some perspective here and I like to know if I’m being unreasonable.

    1. Annie Moose*

      Have you talked to your manager about it at all? It sounds like your coworker just dumped it on you without your manager actually making that decision. Before pulling her manager into it, why not have a chat with your own manager about it and see what she says? It’s not unreasonable to expect your manager to assign you work, not random coworkers.

      1. learnedthehardway*

        Another vote for this. Sounds to me like the OP’s coworker took advantage of the manager’s absence to reassign her work to the OP.

      2. Arya Parya*

        Yes, I’ve discussed this with my manager and he is on my side. He already agreed to the meeting.

        1. Ali G*

          What does it mean that he is “on your side?”
          You need to have agreement on the outcome before this meeting. What is the resolution to the problem that you want, and is your manager in agreement?

          1. Arya Parya*

            That’s a good one. He’s been out most of this week, so we haven’t spoken much. I will discus this with him on monday.

        2. LALAs*

          What does “on my side” mean?

          If the task is not your responsibility, then your boss should tell co-worker (or co-worker’s manager) that you will not be doing it so they need to make arrangments.

          If he means that it needs to be explained to you better but that it is your task, then why the need for the meeting with the managers? You just need a meeting with the co-worker to go over it properly.

          1. Arya Parya*

            I think we both agree that this shouldn’t be my task, but I will make sure of that monday. As the task was done by my predecessor I do believe there should be a discussion about it and we can’t simply hand it back. That’s why I think we should have a meeting about it and go over our options. But I’ll make sure my manager and I are on the same page first.

            1. valentine*

              Why can’t you hand it back as simply as she dumped it on you? You could send everyone an email making it sound like she misunderstood your role and the last time you did the task will remain the last time. Having your back would mean your manager shutting it down as soon as he knew. It might help you to take time to drill down and confirm instead of running with assumptions, like details of the task and your manager’s position on this exploitation of you. If you can’t say no to coworkers, say you need to get back to them, then say no. I’m guessing your manager is away a lot, you don’t want to “bother” him, or you want to discuss things in person, any of which will delay you getting a no to future boundary tramplers. (Plus, the possibility he will agree and you’ll end up doing a hodgepodge of other people’s work.)

              1. Autumnheart*

                It sounds to me like this task is actually the responsibility of OP’s role, since OP’s predecessor did it. And if coworker was assigned the task as a stopgap, and is still covering the more complicated contracts while OP does the simpler ones, then in my view there should be a meeting to talk about the scope of the task, who should own it, and how to get OP fully trained on managing it. The coworker didn’t exactly go through official channels to move the task (back?) to OP, but on the other hand, if it was dumped on the coworker while OP’s position was being filled, then I feel a little sympathy for the coworker.

                So in the end, I think the meeting is a good idea, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the correct result would be that coworker takes the task back. The task might belong under OP’s role. Or there might be an entirely different person who should take it. But you need the meeting to figure that out.

            2. ..Kat..*

              He’s the manager. Why isn’t he just telling your coworker to do this? Or talking to her manager?

  28. Rosie The Rager*

    First week working at the strange PR firm

    After a very rushed interview and reference check in late December, I began my new part-time position with a boutique PR firm Monday. My boss, the owner, previously told me to “chill out” when I inquired about having a written job description in late December but did provide one Monday (albeit from 2010) before leading me through a 90-minute discussion about the job’s primary responsibilities.

    The role itself reflects many things I’ve done previously but uses unfamiliar customer relationship management programs Insightly, but the writing and social media engagement are duties I’ve handled for a variety of organizations. I’m not terribly concerned about completing tasks in a timely manner, but I do have some worries about the workplace itself. Please read below and let me know your thoughts.

    **I am currently the sole occupant of a lovely small shared office space with a newish Mac computer. This means I have privacy to work and think aloud as well as easy access to the bathroom and kitchen.
    **Management encourages workers to listen to podcasts or audiobooks to make the day go by faster.
    **The drive is about 12 minutes from home with only three turns.

    **The single-owner company means that the owner’s husband and child frequently stop by and throw off the schedule for the day.
    **Even after asking on two occasions, I still have no pay schedule.
    **My supervisor has mentioned firing employees on four occasions, even after I redirect the conversation or offer a non-committal “Well, that’s unfortunate, but not every job is a fit for every person. I hope s/he has found a more suitable position.” She still talks about it, much to my annoyance.

    **I have no keys and must wait outside each and every time I need to enter the building from starting in the morning until returning from lunch.
    **My boss is paranoid about privacy but declines to protect any materials and leaves information laying on the kitchen island, on various office desks, and in the office supply area.
    **On two occasions, the owner commented on how difficult it is to find competent people to fill the admin vacancy. She has made disparaging statements about how people respond to interview invitations and their responses. I feel uncomfortable engaging in this discussion but don’t wish to be rude.

    OK, what are your thoughts, AAM commenters?

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      *Chrissy tiegan cringing gif*. The lack of answering about the pay schedule alone is making me side eye them. It all doesn’t sound so great. Is it possible to look elsewhere, espnsince this is PT?

    2. Working with professionals*

      I agree with Nervous Accountant about the pay schedule. Circle back around in an email if possible and ask for that schedule in writing. I too think it might also be in your best interest to start looking for another job.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      The pay schedule thing is my biggest concern here. You’ve got financial commitments to meet, and it’s not unreasonable for you to want to be sure that your salary will allow you to do that.

      Apart from that, your boss seems really unprofessional and not great at picking up on norms/conversational cues. I’d definitely be watching her closely if I were you.

    4. WellRed*

      You say the building, but isn’t it her house? Weird, but not as weird as if it were an office building. The pay thing is a big deal.

      1. Rosie The Rager*

        WellRed, the office is a converted Victorian home in the historic district.

        I have never indicated that she and her family reside in the space.

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      Oh dear — this sounds so much like a nightmare of an employer who I worked for for 44 days before I quit in disgust. You probably should be polishing your resume for a potential quick exit.

    6. Former Expat*

      The pay schedule is a little alarming. Having said that, your state/country/etc has rules about how often people need to be paid. In my state, non-professional employees must be paid at least twice a month and paydays are the 1st and 15th of the month unless otherwise stated. Professional employees can be paid once a month. Look up the applicable laws for you and bring it up like “it is my understanding that I’ll be paid on the 15th (or next Friday or whatever) based on the relevant laws, is my understanding correct?” You might get a snippy response, but pay is huge so I think it is worth it for peace of mind.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Rosie The Rager*

        Former Expat, I have bookmarked the websites because of previous issues with getting paid, but I remain hopeful that I will not have to use the information for this position.

        1. zora*

          I agree with Former Expat, I would be super diligent about getting paid and I would be continuing to job hunt, because if you can find a more stable situation, that would be the best in the long run.

          The pay schedule thing is the most sketchy, since (in the US) there are laws about how soon you must get paid after doing work. Have you filled out W2s, I-9s, etc? As in, are you sure taxes are getting paid appropriately?

          If you do not get paid on the 15th, you need to take this very seriously. It is extremely hard to get back pay out of employers if they don’t pay you at the right time, so it is much safer for you to get paid at the right time than to have to figure this out after the fact. Please look out for yourself, I have a job where I never got paid correctly and I gave up after a while and that really sucked. I wish I had been more diligent at the beginning or just quit instead of giving a terrible person so much unpaid work (which was the end result).

    7. learnedthehardway*

      I’d keep right on job hunting, personally. The job sounds very unstable, the employer sounds somewhat unstable, and the company has had significant employee attrition.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      OhBoy OhBoy OhBoy.
      You’re sure the brave one, aren’t you?

      I remember your post about the interview. I’m surprised you took the job. The biggest hurdle here is the pay and the pay schedule. Other things can be put down to this owner’s dingbattyness, but you need to get paid in a timely and regular manner, not when Ms. Dingbat feels like it. Clear that hurdle first.

      And I do hope she really is just that dingbatty, and not mean and malicious. These kinds of private owner work situation are just so fraught with drama.

    9. Lilysparrow*

      I think your whole perspective on the situation is hard to understand.

      You work 15 hours a week for $12 per hour. You were wierdly insistent on getting the owner to generate a written job description for a part-time, low-wage position — but you’ve worked a whole week with no clue when you’re going to get paid?

      You just started this week. And you expect keys to the building? Why would anyone give you keys?

      You work 15 h/w, in a computer/writing based job, but for some reason you are going in and out multiple times between arriving and lunch? Why?

      You said the owner is your boss and you work alone, but then you refer to “management” and “your supervisor” as if they are different people. How many people actually work there?

      I think the owner keeps talking about turnover because she’s not sure if you’re going to be there long, either. You should certainly keep looking.

      1. Rosie The Rager*

        LilySparrow, I don’t appreciate your aggressive and disrespectful tone.

        Going forward, please refrain from commenting on my posts.

        Thank you!

        1. Researchalator Lady*

          Rosie, you’ve said this is your first job; Lily is pointing out several huge red flags and inconsistencies in a succinct — even pointed — manner. It isn’t that she is being disrespectful, I think. It’s that you’ve carefully crafted your language to suggest one image (a “boutique PR firm” with management/supervisor/owner) when it sounds quite a bit different to us when the details are ferreted out (working in the home? office of a woman with no payroll system or schedule and questionable professionalism. That’s hard to hear, I know.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      This is Not Good.
      This is a boss that will never be pleased with your work. Oh, she may seemed pleased from time to time then “but…..”.
      The way she talks about others may be the same way she will talk about you in the future. She is showing you.
      Compounding matters she is creating her own problems. She wants tight security but she does not practice those habits herself. Over time you may come to realize there is nothing you can do to help her combat her own lax approach.

      1. Rosie The Rager*

        Not So NewReader, I agree with you in that people show you who they are. Consequently, I have low expectations for the role. It’s my first official PR job, and I worry that this level of disorganization might be normal, or at least acceptable, for this line of work.

        I appreciate your insight and will do my best to let her “lax approach” go for the sake of my sanity and a meager paycheck.

    11. Windchime*

      I thought the whole thing sounded kind of iffy to begin with. What are your thoughts about it? The commute and private workspace sounds nice, but the rest seems kind of…..odd.

    12. JS#2*

      Thanks for following up with how this is going!

      Like others have said, the alarming part is the no pay schedule. I wish I had advice for this, but I don’t have experience with it.

      The other stuff, like the trash-talking old employees and potential future admins… is awkward, but not that surprising. She’ll probably keep talking about it forever (my boutique marketing firm boss sure did), but if you keep deflecting the conversation it may go away. She’s probably just looking for affirmation for her judgments and if you don’t give it to her, she’ll likely eventually just stop. I found that sort of talk from my boss hard, because I always wondered what she’d say about me after I left! (Eventually I realized that her opinions about past/future employees weren’t particularly grounded in fact, so it became less important to me what she said about me.)

      The lack of keys is weird and inconvenient, too. Do you have to wait for someone to let you in to the office? Are you supposed to get keys, but just haven’t received them… or are you not allowed to have a key? I wonder if you could frame the issue to your boss in terms of it being a productivity issue? Especially if you have to wait a while for someone to let you in.

      Please keep us in the loop about the job!

  29. MechanicalPencil*

    Advice needed/wanted:

    I’m in the midst of a hellacious project. By the time we reach our goal end date, it will be a year since I began working on it. It’s mismanaged, poorly communicated, and just all around frustrating. I used to enjoy coming to work but now dread it. I took a week off over the holidays and came back to an absolute mad house, so time off isn’t really the best move. I don’t have any inspiration or motivation to actually do my work, which in a creative field is somewhat problematic. Is there some way to find some happy again, or do I just need to keep trudging ahead?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      When in hellish times, I do a stupid but surprisingly effective trick… I keep a secret.
      I write the first initials of secret messages to myself on post-it notes and every time I look up, I giggle to myself.
      Or I wear a secret pendant under my clothes that has a particularly sassy message on it.
      Or I make sure that the solar powered bobble heads are getting plenty of light so there’s a dance party going on in my cube.

      Which gets me through the minute to minute of the hellish times.

      Then, I let myself start to plan my escape. Which could be to push for changes that would fix the hell … or to start job searching for somewhere better. Small steps. Small giggle. Small steps. Rinse, repeat.

      1. Namast'ay in Bed*


        This reminds me of the person who suggested writing a terrible person they work with’s name on a piece of paper and stick it in their shoe, so that every time the person was terrible to them they could secretly grind it down.

      2. Tort-ally HareBrained*

        You need Blue Q socks! Which say things like “bitches get stuff done” and “this meeting is bullshit” to add to your secret stash. I still remember giggling when our department director walked in to show me the first pair on the way to a meeting. I think it made her day as much as mine.

        1. Bluebell*

          Yes- I have these! I gave a friend of mine “this meeting is bull****” and I have “duchess of sassytown “. There are so many good ones!!!

  30. educational assistance*

    Does anyone here have experience creating and managing a tuition reimbursement program? I’m tasked with that at the moment. For the most part it seems deceptively straight-forward. One thing that I’m having trouble with is figuring out whether there are any legal restrictions on what sort of education you can reimburse for. This is for a non-proft that employs people who tend to have large barriers to higher education. We want to open reimbursement up to CDL training, cosmetology, etc. Trying to confirm that the IRS is cool with this being tax exempt :) I don’t see anything in the law explicitly ruling it out.

    Also what was your experience with paying out? Check request form? Any other helpful info?

    1. fposte*

      I believe it has to be an eligible educational institution (the IRS has a vast list of eligible institutions) for it to be tax-exempt. I’m afraid I don’t know anything more about the logistics, though.

      1. educational assistance*

        This is what I thought to0 but every time I’ve looked back at the law on this I haven’t been able to pinpoint where it says this. I also need to pin down the difference between tuition reimbursement and professional development. If you can pay for employees to get certifications and attend conferences, is there any reason you have to limit yourself to the $5250/ year cap and legalities of tuition reimbursement? Are those professional development costs also capped per employee?

        1. fposte*

          It’s not the law you need to look at but the IRS docs themselves, and they’re pretty googleable. If you look at the IRS page entitled “Tax Benefits for Education,” for instance, it has an overview and links to publication 970 and more info about eligible educational institutions, which includes a link to the list of those institutions. That’ll also help walk you through which expenses are tax-exempt and which aren’t.

          The IRS doesn’t, AFAIK, care if you want to reimburse an employee a million dollars a year. It’s just that it’ll be taxable as compensation when you go past the cap.

          1. educational assistance*

            Thanks! That’s where I’ve been looking and I don’t see the eligible institutions outlined under the employee assistance program specifically. I see those outlined in other sections, though. I feel like I’m missing something simple here.

            1. fposte*

              Okay, interesting–I just found one source that says they do *not* need to be an institution that’s approved for federal aid. That means that I was wrong in thinking I knew about this, unfortunately, so all I’ve done is make you more confused. I offer in compensation a link in followup that’s clear and well sourced, at least.

        2. Natalie*

          A lot of tax rules aren’t spelled out in the law, they’re documented in regulations, rulings, private letter rulings, etc. If you can, I’d really recommend running this by a CPA or tax attorney with expertise in this area. It shouldn’t cost that much.

          1. educational assistance*

            This is a great point. I will make that recommendation strongly (and already have) to leadership. The approach is very DIY at the moment, but I agree that this should be signed off on by someone more adept at navigating this stuff.

  31. Nervous Accountant*

    I’m 57392 hours ahead so I’ve had a lot of time to think and write. Anyway, not much is going on workwise since I’m traveling. Just curious about it and how this happens @ other places and what other options there are.

    Part of my job involves listening to client complaints. A lot of the complaints say “I was never notified my
    Accountant is gone.”…. Whenever someone leaves, we send emails to clients informing them of the staff change and constantly encourage the accountants taking over to reach out to their new clients. We’ve had a few people who were so upset about the change that they left but that’s unavoidable.

    Any ideas on how we can reduce these complaints? The only time I’ve received notification of a staff change is for doctors so I don’t feel this type of notification is unusual. I feel like a mass email + accountant contact should suffice and calling each and every client is not a good use of our time & resources.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Make a phone call in addition to sending an email. Emails like that can get glossed over or end up in spam folders.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        We do encourage the accountant taking over to call and speak to the client and of course document every attempt. The mass email Is sent out by the company. (Client emails and mass emails have been disabled).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think the call needs to be made by the accountant who is leaving, especially if it means their clients can’t go with them. It’s better if they’re the ones who close that relationship and open the other.

          1. valentine*

            A lot of it is going to be “I didn’t like the news, so I ignored it, but it didn’t go away and now feel newly confronted.”

          2. Teeth Grinder*

            No, no, not the departing accountant. What could be more natural than for the client to ask where Former Accountant is going? Then, presto, it’s also Former Client.
            Second, what about Involuntarily Former Accountant? You definitely don’t want to give them extra opportunities to contact clients.
            Put together a script for New Accountant(s) to use to reach out to the client – both contracting client and day-to-day contact – both by phone and email. Phone calls are more personal for introductions, with the email to document and provide contact information for New Accountant, because the client will inevitably forget what was said on the phone.
            Have a standard procedure for such transitions, and make sure that it is followed each and every time. Checklist in the client binder, maybe? Or on the client dashboard, in this paperless (snort) age?
            It’s totally normal for accounting firms to have personnel changes at the staff level. Be proactive and matter of fact reaching out to the clients, and they will have no reason to think it’s anything out of the ordinary.

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

      I think that when you’re dealing with people’s money that it’s almost akin to having a doctor/patient relationship — there’s a great deal of trust in one person who has access to very sensitive information. So I think contacting each client IS a good use of time. It doesn’t need to be a call but it should be more than an email (those are way too easy to just get blocked by spam filters). A letter would be best and it can be a form letter. Unless your turnover is extremely high, this shouldn’t be a huge expense and the retention of clients would probably negate it.

      1. Nervous Accountant*

        sorry when I said contact I meant, we won’t have admins callling up 100+ clients to inform them of a staff change; we put that responsibility on the accountant.

        I do like th idea of a letter, but I feel like it has potential to be treated like another email?

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

          It’s possible, but I take letters more seriously than emails if they come from a company I already do business with and they don’t look like a solicitation — so no “Open immediately! Great offer inside!” type fluff on the envelope. I have to hand sort the snail mail that comes in, but junk mail filters on email ensure I never even see the email.

        2. A Non E. Mouse*

          I have run many projects (stick with me, this is relevant), and in the last few years have run several where we made announcements in meetings, hung signs, sent mail (to the outlying locations) and in no instance went below 20 (literally, 20) emails about changes.

          And we still had people claiming they knew nothing about the changes.

          So: your goal isn’t to make sure everyone read/understood your communication, your goal should be to communicate in enough different ways that most sane, normal people will at least have an inkling in their mind that they heard something about this, now that you mention it.

          I would email, send a letter and then call. Any other communications – automatically created quarterly statements, for example – should have a reminder about the change included for at least 2 cycles. If someone calls the main number and asks for the old person, they should be transferred to the new person *and a notation made* that information about the new person be regenerated and sent to them again.

          Communicate communicate communicate. Smoke signals if you have them, fridge magnets are probably a good idea too.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          For many places letters do not get treated like email.

          You can start the letter by saying, for your records/contact list this is the new accountant at our firm who will be handling your account. This makes it sound important.

          If you want you can say, please expect a follow up phone call in the weeks to come as an introduction and touch base. The follow up call here is not just continuity and flow, it’s also redundant. Sometimes we have to say things twice to be heard once.

          There is a certain amount of attrition with any change. It’s normal human behavior. I don’t know what the normal percentage is for your arena. A friend who runs a business has learned to expect a 3-5% attrition rate each year is normal and easily explained. (Different arena, though.) His numbers go above that 5% max and he stops to see what is going on. This range gives him freedom to quickly check the big picture and move on to something else if the attrition is within the range. It might be helpful to know what the norm is for your work.

      1. Mrs_helm*

        How often do these clients work with their accountants? I see ours about once a year, so even if I got the email, I would totally forget. I’d probably delete it, since it wasn’t actionable. A paper letter might help, since I could file it with my paperwork. (But I wouldn’t freak and storm out, even if you hadn’t told me.)

        I think how closely these people worked makes a difference, though. An example: My husband’s doctor recently left the practice and they brought in a new doc. Hubby was not happy. He sees the doctor 3-4x a yr, and has things to work on. Would he have to explain things all over? Would new doc be harder on him about his lifestyle choices? Etc.

    3. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

      I am not sure there is much you can do about this because the minute your firm puts IMPORTANT in the email subject line (and they all do, for this kind of communication), it’s probably going straight to a lot of people’s spam filter.

      My advice, which is meaningless unless you have control over this, would be to make sure the subject line of the email says it all: “Mike Smith’s clients will be transferred to Jan James” or “Jan James is your new account contact, Mike Smith has left the firm” or “Mike Smith departure, Jan James new account contact.”

      I applaud sending some kind of email – years ago, I went to a scheduled doctor’s appointment, only to find my doctor had retired and the practice had changed hands. The receptionist was the same, and she said, Oh, didn’t you know? He took out a full-page ad in the [newspaper of a different city] announcing his retirement. They didn’t call to cancel my appointment, just assumed that I would see a random newspaper ad from three towns over.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Send noticed. It’s all that’s within your power, you can’t put it on an incoming accountant to do…”encouraging” them to reach out isn’t working because they don’t want to be bothered, they don’t take the complaints and possibly don’t assume they’ll be there long enough to take that step.

      You can at least fall back on “We sent a j notice but the USPS must have eaten it, I’m sorry about that.” Then wash away the guilt they’re laying on you.

      I’ve always been hooked into firms with limited turnover, I’m shivering at the idea of our accountant just dancing away into the night one day without a retirement notice. I would assume the outgoing accountant isn’t going to be tasked with it because they’ll possibly lead to taking clients with them. If my accountant didn’t run her own firm, I would follow her if she changed…

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      I assume the firm has an admin/receptionist/intern or two…..could they possibly work it into their schedule? Perhaps a quick call informing them of the change, providing contact info for new accountant, and a “Bob” looks forward to working with you would help a lot. I work with CPA firms routinely and whenever the person I’ve been dealing with leaves midstream, I have received calls from both the new CPA taking over as well as the firm’s admin informing me of the change. I think either one is really fine. I assume that most of your clients are small business owners/wealthy individuals. If so, the personal attention is really worth it and that client base seems to be receive it well/expect it.

    6. Nasturtium*

      From a client’s perspective — when our lead auditor left we were notified, but there was no followup to let me know who was going to be doing our audit the following year. I needed to know who I would be working with, so I could get in touch with them if I needed to. I ended up calling our old auditor’s superior a couple of months later to ask, and he was nice about it, but also implied that I shouldn’t be alarmed by the change. I wasn’t alarmed, I just hadn’t been given all the information I needed to proceed with the next audit.

      Encouraging the new accountant to reach out may not be enough, and may not be consistently happening. I know they are busy, but there needs to be some consistent process to notify clients who they will be working with when a change happens.

  32. Zen Cohen*

    Extremely low stakes question: I don’t work in my office every day so I’m often the last to sign birthday and condolence cards. And by the time I get the cards all the good blurbs are taken! I feel super uncomfortable writing something that has already been written. What are your go-to office card blurbs for condolences/birthdays/get wells? I need some new material!

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I get hung up on finding the right wording for this stuff too and often google for phrasing that hasn’t already been used. I try to keep in mind that for condolences, it’s often more the thought that matter than the actual words. “So sorry for your less; thinking of you/your family” is perfectly fine even if repeated incessantly. For birthdays, I usually go with “hoping this is your best year yet!” which I am surprised I never see already used.

    2. nutella fitzgerald*

      One of my coworkers is known for her tiny line drawings in greeting cards.

      But I don’t think I’ve ever thought twice about a repeated sentiment in a group birthday card that was for me!

    3. AnonEMoose*

      I’ve used “Enjoy your day!” for birthdays, and “thinking of you at this difficult time” for condolences.

    4. Audrey Puffins*

      I always write “Happy birthday! Have a good one!” no matter who it is. Birth and loss cards don’t come around often enough for me to have a standard phrase, and I do try to personalise leaving cards. But birthdays come around SO often, and I don’t think I’ve ever read every single blurb in the cards I’ve received, that I don’t feel any guilt or whatever over repeating the sentiment. I do hate it when someone else has already written it in the area where I like to sign though, then I have to sign it on the other side so it looks less like I’m copying.

    5. LilySparrow*

      I’ve never really considered this a creative outlet. I pretty much stick with “Happy Birthday” “Feel better soon” or “we miss you” and some form of “thinking of you” or “sorry for your loss.”

      Does anyone actually read these things anyway?

    6. Jessi*

      No one is going to know that you were last either and might think the other person came after you!

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

      For fun cards like birthday and congratulations I am quite boring and write “Happy Birthday” or “Congratulations”. My coworkers have taken to printing out tiny little internet memes and gluing them in the card (I realize this only works for small groups). For serious cards I try to make the message a bit more personal — that’s the only one I would expend mental energy on TBH. I’ve never done a get well card at work.

    8. zora*

      I make a deliberate attempt to NOT read what anyone else has said until I’ve written mine. Then, it might be a duplicate of someone elses’s blurb, but I know I didn’t copy it. If there are enough signatures that there are duplicate messages, I don’t think anyone is that offended. I know I don’t mind when people repeat comments on cards for me, I still appreciate that they signed it!

    9. Marthooh*

      Stick with the classics: happy birthday, best wishes, so sorry for your loss, thinking of you, get well soon.

    10. Marion Ravenwood*

      For birthdays, I normally go with ‘happy birthday, hope you have a great day!’ and a smiley face. For condolences, ‘sorry for your loss. Thinking of you’. We haven’t had that many get wells over the course of my career, but I’d probably say something like ‘wishing you a speedy recovery’.

      That said, there are some excellent ideas on this thread and I might have to steal some of them.

  33. nutella fitzgerald*

    Happy New Year, AAM-ers!

    Requesting your thoughts on a philosophical quandary. Is it possible to be an effective manager when you have never actually worked in the role(s) your direct reports perform? I am considering a move into management but in my experience, my best managers have been those who had prior experience with the positions they were supervising me in.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, assuming you’re at a fairly senior level (as opposed to a line manager). I actually just recorded a podcast episode yesterday that talks about this (it’ll air later this month).

      You need to agree on clear, measurable goals so you can see if they’re being met, you need a good BS detector, and the rest of the stuff I talk about here: (no idea why my byline isn’t on that, but it’s mine)

    2. NJ Anon*

      I currently supervise an admin assistant and data analyst. I have never held these positions per se but have worked in various offices throughout my career and draw on those experiences.

    3. I’ve Had Too Many Managers*

      It depends on your industry and the manager. I’ve worked with managers who didn’t do my job and were terrible, and those who didn’t do my job and were amazing. I think the key is not to micromanage the day to day of a position you’ve never done. Setting realistic expectations is also important.

    4. pcake*

      My husband and I used to disagree on this one when discussing it. I have managed people successfully who work in jobs I have little experience with, and it worked out fine. This may vary depending on the industry and job, but I find if you work with people in technical positions, it helps to have a go-to person who can answer a few technical questions every so often or to help an employee who has a knowledge/ability gap.

    5. fposte*

      Yes, of course. And the higher you go, the more impossible it would be for you to have done the jobs of everybody under you.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right! This is the thing I never understand about people who argue that managers have to know how to do their employees’ jobs. Do they really think the COO knows how to do the work of everyone under her?

    6. Teapot librarian*

      Hoarder Employee just tried yesterday to pull the “I’ve done this so I know better than you” card with me. True, he’s done it, but I’ve watched it be done for over 3 years so I know that the way it’s being done is inefficient.

    7. Tinker*

      It’s probably different for different sorts of roles (maybe also different levels?), but my experience has been that the thing that made my good managers good was primarily their manager-specific skills and not whether they had done work similar to mine in the past.

      I tend to appreciate what I internally label as “Manager Tools” sort of managers — “servant leadership” might be the word, but I think of it a bit more in terms of different skillsets — that a manager goes to meetings, reports status to upper-level management, organizes our response to higher-level strategic directives, handles budgets and approvals, things like that, so that I have the information and resources necessary to do my (mostly technical) work to best advantage.

      Possibly arrogantly, I tend to think that I don’t really need two of me because there already is one; what I need more is people that are either good at or better positioned to do the things that I need done but am not all that effective at doing myself.

    8. The RO-Cat*

      Google researched its own teams for ages now. They identified ten traits that make a manager (low- to middle- positions I’d presume) exceptional; out of those, 6 pertain to Emotional Intelligence, 3 are miscellaneous and only 1 is about technical profficiency. If you have one go-to person for tehcnical stuff you got that covered (assuming the other 9 are there, of course). If you’re curious, go to rework -dot-withgoogle-dotcom, it’s a treasure trove of free resources, data and tools that Google put out for the world to use (I’m not affiliated or anything, I just use that in my work).

      And the higher up you look, the less necessary technical prowess becomes.

    9. Gumby*

      Yes, you can be an effective manager. But don’t pretend to know stuff you don’t!

      Also? Do not be like the CEO at a company I used to work for: Fergus was visibly *proud* that he did not understand the internet/websites. He *bragged* about it. Our company? A tech company. Which owned several well-known consumer-oriented websites. He may have been an adequate CEO but absolutely no one in my office (a small satellite office 400 miles from headquarters) had any respect at all for him.

    10. CM*

      I see managers more as facilitators than as teachers — though views on that differ. From my POV, good management is about being able to help people solve problems, fix communication issues on the team, handle pushback from other departments, negotiate agreements, etc. It’s almost never about knowing technical answers the way a teacher would.

      At my last job, I was managing a team who did the exact kind of technical work I knew how to do, and it actually created a whole set of problems for me that wouldn’t have been there if I had no idea how to do their jobs. Like, if my team was struggling to do something that I could do really easily, it was tempting to just do it myself instead of figuring out why they were struggling and how we could change it. Or, if they were having trouble solving a problem, it was tempting to just tell them the solution I would use instead of talking through the problem-solving process and helping them get to their own solutions. In other words, because I knew how to do their jobs on a technical level, it was harder for me to draw boundaries around my own role and not be overbearing.

      I think, if you have a manger who sees management as facilitation and has good facilitation skills, it doesn’t matter if they have the technical knowledge — they can talk you through solving your own problems and negotiate new agreements with other managers based on the outcome. But I think the worst situation is if you have a manger who sees themselves as a teacher but doesn’t have any knowledge — because then they keep telling you to do stuff that doesn’t make sense and it feels insulting.

    11. Eccentric Smurf*

      I think it’s possible. I work in a highly technical field. In the last 18 years, I have had two managers with zero understanding of my area of expertise and two with relevant experience. One of the inexperienced managers was good and one wasn’t. The difference between the two was 100% about management style, rather than technical knowledge. Both experienced managers were great because they had relevant knowledge and experience to share in addition to being good at managing people.

  34. Higher ed*

    I’m beyond frustrated with my senior leadership team. They keep expanding (at high salaries to boot), but of course there’s never enough money to pay for more rank-and-file employees. Meanwhile, I’m a middle manager who feels completely frustrated by the unrealistic expectations by trying to manage my own workload and my team’s. More is expected all the time, and yet we can’t expand. Some of these senior-level folks look impressive on paper, but I read the job descriptions and go … now what exactly are you doing, and how much work are you going to push my way?! It doesn’t help that my immediate supervisor is completely inept at advocating for our team.

    Middle management in higher ed = lots of pressure with few resources. Seriously questioning my career path, but I have no clue what else to do, as my skills have become pretty specialized.

    1. Anonymeece*

      As another middle management person in higher ed, I completely sympathize.

      Most higher ed offer tuition reimbursement or scholarships for employees… I was seriously feeling burnt out and sick of it all, so I used those to get my Master’s debt-free and am now actively looking in another field. Your skills may be specialized, but some transfer over. Management experience is a plus nearly everywhere! If you’re interested in another field, it never hurts to ask about reimbursements/scholarships and see about pursuing education in another field.

    2. Always the bridesmaid*

      Maybe your skills are not as specialized as you think. Because you work in this setting everyday, you might be thinking of your skills in terms of your job. It might be worth taking a larger scope view of what you do in order to document how your skills could transfer to another setting.

    3. HigherEd Person*

      OH yes yes yes. I feel all your pain. I, too, am a Higher Ed Middle Manager (even attended the NASPA Mid-Level Managers Institute!). I work in the area that plans/runs alllllll the late night programs, and I’m le tired.

      I know I’ve gotten pretty specialized in my skillset; however, I’ve started taking some time to look at what really interests me, and how I could go about boosting up those transferable skills while in my current job. I love assessment, strategic plan development, and leadership training. I’m using the next year+ to build up those experiences and work my connections to see if that takes me anywhere. I’m also talking to people who’ve gotten out of higher ed to see what their world is like. There is a FB group for Expatriates of Higher Ed where we talk about this a lot.

  35. Moth*

    I’ve recently started mentoring (through my company’s official mentorship program) a mentee who has expressed concerns about not having enough confidence to speak up in meetings or small groups. We work in the sciences, where making sure what you’re saying is correct is important, but the mentee worries that if everything they’re thinking isn’t 100% correct, that they don’t want to risk saying something that might be wrong, so they end up saying nothing at all. This isn’t just when reporting data or something, but also in brainstorming meetings and general discussions. Does anyone have experience with advising someone else with confidence issues? I’m still fairly new to being a mentor in the program and figuring out the best way to give advice without just telling someone what to do.

    Some factors that confound things a bit are that the mentee is from a culture where quietness and passiveness by that gender is encouraged, so I want to be cognizant of that when giving any advice. Additionally, English is not their first language, so I’m sure that makes it more difficult for them as well. But this is something that the mentee voluntarily brought forward that they’d like to work on, so I want to do all I can to help in that area.

    1. AnonEMoose*

      What if your mentee started out by practicing asking a question, where that’s appropriate? That might be a bit less stressful than asserting something, and as a step toward just helping them be comfortable speaking at all, could help.

      Something like Toastmasters could be something to look into, as well. They might not be quite ready for it yet, but it’s something to check out, anyway.

      1. CM*

        This would be my advice, too. Even if the end goal is to be able to make suggestions and statements, start by vocalizing more low-stakes things like questions or saying you agree with someone else’s point or you like someone else’s idea, just to get used to talking and feeling comfortable in the room. Then, move on to making suggestions later, when it feels more natural.

    2. Rezia*

      If your mentee knows the topic of the meeting ahead of time, they could write down a few notes so they have written prompts, which can help with the anxiety. You could also brainstorm with them some generic responses/questions that they could use to chip into the conversation, as appropriate.
      One other thought: you can let them practice with you, if they would find that helpful. You could ask them, What were you thinking of saying at the last (or better yet, upcoming) meeting? Do you want to try it out on me?
      You may also want to remind them that this is an area where practice will make it easier over time, so as painful as it might be at first, the only way to get better at this is to do it.

    3. Diabetty*

      I’ve had a few mentees in similar situations. What has helped the most was when I emphasized that we all make mistakes in our work, it is inevitable and not the end of a career. I tend to frame it like optimization–if you’re right 100% of the time but you only contribute 2 ideas, your overall impact is going to be so much lower than someone who’s right 90% of the time but contributes 20 ideas. Having an accuracy rate of 100% is not always a success when you view it that way: there is an optimal rate of inaccuracy, and it’s nonzero.

      It also sometimes blows their minds to realize how little I knew when I first entered my field. I was guessing, like, 30% of the time! The fact that someone they consider very smart and articulate is willing to say “oh gosh, I knew so little when I started out” tends to inspire confidence that they can be perceived the same way over time.

      I also gained confidence when I was a young researcher because my boss always asked me what I thought, so I had to develop lots of opinions and become comfortable sharing them out loud. It was clear to me that she valued my input and it increased my confidence. (My boss was also my mentor! Perhaps you’re well situated to do the same.)

    4. Blunt Bunny*

      I think what’s best to understand is that in STEM industries lots of people would have done different degrees and different modules so will have different knowledge. Engineers will have different experience and knowledge to scientists even if they worked in the same field at the same time and are at equivalent levels it would be difficult to be an expert in everything your company could possibly do. That’s why people specialise and have interdisciplinary teams.
      I also have found that people appreciate questions even to point out an abbreviation that you weren’t quite sure about it shows that you are engaging and trying to understand the concepts. Asking questions shows that you are interested and in science looking at things from a different perspective is usually a useful thing.

  36. Birch*

    Just a discussion point: we hear a lot about the power of saying ‘no’ to things to prioritize our own work, more important work, or to avoid burnout. But it seems to mostly be in the context of being asked to do extra work for someone else or to do things that aren’t actually as important to you or don’t benefit you in order to focus on things that do. But how (and why) do you say no to things that are actually great opportunities? It’s a good situation to have too many good opportunities in your lap, but is it then just a matter of choosing the best ones? What if you can’t know which will be the most lucrative in the end? How do you decide how much time and energy you can put into them, and does it change your time/energy calculation if it’s deciding whether to say no to good opportunities, i.e. are you more willing to take on more work for the promise of more results, and where do you draw the line?

    1. Kendra*

      For deciding about time and energy, I think it’s better to take fewer good opportunities and actually have the bandwith to put a lot into them rather than trying to do too many things and finding yourself letting little pieces of all of them fall by the wayside.

      1. Birch*

        This is a really good point. I think a lot of the time people (myself, definitely) don’t see time and energy as limited resources. There’s such a temptation to just find extra energy somewhere to put toward something that seems valuable, instead of letting go of something else.

    2. fposte*

      First off, you have to accept that you will never know for sure what the best things to say yes to or no to are in advance. So yeah, pretty much it’s choosing what look like the best ones.

      There’s a curve where you do more stuff for exposure and networking early on but as your stature grows you’re already exposed enough, so you need more reason to say yes than mere exposure. So questions to ask might be “What does this do for my career trajectory?”, “Where does this rank on ways to spend my time?”, and “What opportunities would I most like to have and what am I doing to work toward those?”

      It can get a lot more complicated than that, but overall, “No” is as important a word as “Yes.” However, I’d encourage you to think about that last question of what you’re working toward in your career, as that provides an axis that you can map such opportunities onto, and it’s also just a good question in general.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Everything you say yes to means you’re saying no to something else. Maybe it’s just saying no to sitting around on the couch being bored. But maybe it’s saying no to much needed down time, or to time/energy spent pursuing more important professional goals. You’ve got to always consider what you’ll be saying no to when you say yes to something.

    4. Excel Wizard*

      Interesting questions.

      IMO it is always good to have great opportunities, even if you have so many you have to turn some of them down. If you cannot tell which opportunities will pan out the best for you in the long run, then I think simply going with the one that sounds the most “fun” to you. What new situation sounds like the one you would enjoy the most, gets you the most excited? Focusing on that would help narrow down the opportunities, and when you are enjoying the work I find it is much easier to really dive into it and produce better results, which would create even more beneficial opportunities for you in the long run as your work will be higher quality work.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I chose the opportunities where I think I will succeed. I had a boss say that I would not be successful on a project. That did not matter, I knew I would be successful. And I was. So that gut feeling of knowing I can successfully do a project is one thing I consider.

      A second thing is deciding to leverage my choice as best I can. I think we have to deliberately chose to let our choices work out as winners. This means not only choosing to do our utmost to excel but it also means keeping our eyes open for adjacent opportunities as we go along. For example, let’s say I pick Project B to to. The drawback to B is that it’s not big and shiny like Project A. So I start looking around. Perhaps I can streamline processes, perhaps I can make new contacts, perhaps I can enhance B in some manner that no one has done yet. If this feels a little bit “look at me”, yeah it is. But remember it’s to the company’s benefit that we knock ourselves out. The company is making out well here.

      My boundaries are:
      1)Mental or physical exhaustion. I should stop before I hit the exhaustion point.
      2)Keep it ethical and keep it legal.
      3)The reputation/past actions of the person making the promise. A known promise breaker has a project, I am less interested because I see the writing on the wall.
      4)Some things are just dear to my heart. If asked to save puppies or baby alligators, and I can only pick one, I will save puppies. If we can’t do things at work that fill our hearts/souls there just isn’t any point to it for me.
      5) I can be conned into doing Nasty Task but I do expect something in return. For example, I will spend weeks cleaning up Slacker’s mess but later I expect to see Nice Project or similar in the very near future.

      Don’t ask what I would do if I had to save puppies 20 hours a day for a promise breaker. In the end, the puppies will get saved.

  37. Bunny Girl*

    I just need to rant for a second. We do little events for our department. They take a few weeks to put together, and Wednesday, I got an email that we have one next Friday. As if that wasn’t frustrating enough, it only contained some of the information I needed. So I scrolled down through the forwarded email to get more details, and it turns out that the organizer had known about this event since Mid-October! He’s just been sitting on it for months! He had everything worked out and confirmed in the first email and chose to wait this long to let me know. It’s so frustrating because this is just the theme of my department. I’ve never worked with a group of people that was so opposed to doing their job. It’s mind boggling. I’ve thought about quitting quite a few times but I’m a student and this job not only pays well, but there’s a lot of downtime and I’m able to get so much of my schoolwork done (with my boss’s permission), so I’m pretty much stuck here until I graduate. It’s just such a daily thing for people around here to not do what they’re supposed to. I can’t understand why these types of people keep employment.

    1. valentine*

      Do only what you can do by deadline and if it sucks, they got what they planned for. Can you get your supervisor on board with setting and enforcing deadlines? Spell out how far ahead you need to know the number of attendees and need for catering, balloons, and a bouncy castle. Give yourself a secret two-week buffer.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yeah unfortunately, my manager knows how useless most of my department is but nothing can be done about it (tenure).

  38. Totally Minnie*

    I’m looking for some work wardrobe recommendations. Specifically, women’s shoes.

    My office is business casual, and I’m looking for shoes that 1) offer some support, 2) can be worn with socks (because my feet are always cold and those no-show socks they make for women’s dress shoes provide nothing in the way of warmth), and 3) that are preferably not Dansko clogs or similar looking items.

    I’m finding that I really don’t like the look of most supportive shoes I find, and I’m hoping that the other posters here know about brands I haven’t seen yet.

    1. AnotherAlison*

      My go-to winter shoes are:
      1. A Clarks Mary Jane style that I’ve had for a few years.
      2. A loafer style that has about a 1″ wedge
      3. Ankle boots with about a 1″ heel

      I can’t wear heels and don’t like cold feet, either. I wear socks with all these, and they’re all black. I have another pair of Clarks that are more of a slip on shoe that covers your whole foot, and the upper is kind of a tight woven straps. These do not look good with any of my pants. I also have a pair of wingtips with a safety type sole, and I trip over my own feet whenever I wear them, so nope.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Clarks Mary Jane styles have been my go-to shoe for a couple of years now. I do sometimes have to put a Dr. Scholl’s sticky heel pad in the back to keep my narrow heels from slipping out of the shoe, but they’re a great shoe for wearing with socks. (I hand-knit socks, and like to be able to show them off.)

        On my most recent purchase, I broke down and bought a pair in brown to go with my usual black.

      2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Clarks work for me so I don’t stray too far. Big wide feet for the win!

        I do a lot of the booties w/1 -2 inch heel, preferably with a tiny bit of detail or bling. I wear them every day at work.

        Then, plantar fasciitis insoles, the hard ones but under $15. Dr. Scholl’s works.

        And all of the fancy compression socks I can get my hands on.

    2. straws*

      My favorite brands so far are Comfortiva and Vionic, but I’ll definitely be following along to learn about more.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Seconding Vionic and adding A2 by Aerosoles. Other fave brands:

        I also suggest getting the Dr Scholls inserts for heel pain and/or plantar fasciitis. They are dark blue and about half the length of your shoe and can really help take a shoe you like for aesthetic purposes but that maybe aren’t the most supportive to a very great shoe. They are about $10-$12/pair so worth a try.

      2. Live & Learn*

        +1 for Vionic. My go to at my business casual office is black leather Vionic ankle boots. So comfortable, supportive and fashionable, I think they were ~$100 but I’ve worn them daily for 2 years and they practically look new!

    3. Minerva McGonagall*

      I got some nice looking supportive shoes from Clarks. I’ve been wearing them with some of my longer dress pants so my socks don’t show as much.

    4. coffee addict*

      If you’re willing to pay $120-$160, check out SAS (San Antonio Shoemakers). I know a few people who have fairly bad back/knee issues and they both swear by them in terms of comfort and support! I wouldn’t say that the shoes are incredibly stylish, but they do have a number of classic-looking loafers, boat shoes, and boots.

    5. Not a Real Giraffe*

      They can be pricey unless you get them on sale, but I have had luck with Cole Haan’s oxford-style shoes. I like socks that are no-show but not those flimsy pantyhose liner weight kinds. Converse is my go-to brand for low-profile socks, but I also like Bombas (again, pricey if not on sale).

    6. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

      A good resource is the Barking Dogs Shoes website. A great resource for “problem” feet and I’ve discovered some good shoes through there

    7. Elizabeth*

      I reallly like my 2 pairs of “Earthies” brand booties. They have about a 1” tall heel (a thick/stable/stacked heel), and they come in wide sizes (yay!). They are comfortable and cute – I get compliments on them a lot.

    8. cat socks*

      I just bought several pairs of black ankle boots and am trying them out at home. So far Rockport and Aerosoles have been the most comfortable. I also like Dr. Scholls. I’ve heard good things about Ecco too. If you’re able to order from Zappos, they offer fast shipping and free returns. I find with shoes, I have to order several pairs, try them out and send them back. Some of the reviews describe whether or not you’re able to add your own insole.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I really like Born boots. I’ve had several pairs and they are very long-wearing and well-made. They’re pricy, but will definitely last. I treat my boots like crapola and still get 4-5 years of wear out of them, with wearing frequency of 3-4 days a week.

    9. Joielle*

      Sorel wedges! I have the Joan of Arctic wedge chelsea boot in two colors and they are the best. Super comfortable and warm, and fairly waterproof too.

    10. only acting normal*

      How about something like the Clarks Netley range? (link in username)
      I just got the black Netley Freya boots in the sale – they are structured (so supportive) but also have a cushioned insole (so comfy).

    11. Annie Moose*

      Don’t have specific brand recommendations, but you could try looking for flat/low booties. I bought some heeled ones specifically because I was tired of my feet being cold in the winter! If I’m wearing a skirt without tights, I’ll wear short socks in them (they aren’t visible but are much warmer and comfortable than “no-show” socks), or they look fab with a skirt and tights, or with long enough dress pants it doesn’t really matter what socks you wear because the pants cover the top of the booties anyway. (I wore knee-high Wonder Woman socks yesterday, for an example! But they were totally unseeable because of how long my dress pants were.)

    12. Can't Sit Still*

      In addition to Vionic, I like ABEO, the Walking Company’s house brand, which come with your choice of basic orthotics, depending on what kind of support you need. The Walking Company’s website has a much better selection than their stores, IMO.

      1. Greymalk*

        +1. I stand a lot (nine hours of teaching a day) and Abeo shoes have helped me a lot, but I also love their insoles that can be added to other shoes and make a big difference in comfort and support!

    13. Neosmom*

      I love wearing “compression socks” . They are much sturdier than knee-high nylons, and provide support. But the flesh-tone colors look great with my flats and pants. I found them on Amazon and I wash them with my delicates and dry them on a clothes line.

      1. Minerva McGonagall*

        Second to the compression socks! They’re great if you’re on your feet all day/you know you have a crazy day ahead. I wear them a lot when traveling as well and my teacher husband wears them several times a week. We like the Physix Gear brand on Amazon.

    14. Rusty Shackelford*

      Oddly enough, the most comfortable and supportive shoes I’ve found have been Crocs. And they do have business casual styles.

    15. Parenthetically*

      Klogs brand are extremely comfortable, as are Keens. I wore my Keens TO. DEATH across three continents and as many years, and I have wide feet and weak arch/flat foot/overpronation issues.

    16. Not All*

      My office has the HVAC vents in the floor rather than ceiling (STUPID STUPID design on soooooooo many fronts) so not only do I need socks all year round (summer is actually WORSE), I wear SmartWool socks!

      I’m another fan of Clarks…they have quite few loafers I like. I find I have good luck buying business-casual shoes that can be worn with thick wool socks places like REI, Cabelas, Scheels, Canfields, etc.

      I’ve been really really wanting to try some of the Socofy shoes (link in name)…they have some that look like they would work as a balance of my personal preference for quirky with a pretty conservative office. I can’t find any brick-and-mortar stores to try them on though & I’m really hesitant to just order online.

    17. Purple Jello*

      When I started having foot problems, I got Danskos, and Naots. I also put arch supports in my cheaper shoes.

      1. Quandong*

        Seconding the love for NAOT shoes – they last for ages and have always been great for my wide feet.

    18. TheOperaGhost*

      When people ask about comfortable and supportive but appropriate for business casual shoes, I always recommend checking out the selections at the big name hunting/fishing/camping supply stores ala Cabelas or Bass Pro Shop. They have really expanded their apparel and shoe collections, but at the same time place an emphasis on comfort and support.

    19. SarahKay*

      Hotter Shoes (www dot hotter dot com). They’re a UK company, but will ship worldwide and I love their shoes, in particular the Shake shoes. I’m on something like my tenth pair of Shakes because I love them so much. And in case you’re thinking that 10 pairs means they don’t sound very sturdy, I should clarify – that’s ten pairs in four different colours, over a period of about 5 years, and I walk approx five miles every day.
      I also have boots and smart shoes from Hotter – basically 90% of my shoe-wearing is in Hotter shoes – and they do normal, wide and extra-wide fittings.

    20. Clever Name*

      I have similar shoe requirements. Especially socks in winter. It’s taken years, but here is my current winter shoe repertoire:

      Tall black waterproof boots made by Teva (Love these. They are lightly insulated and super comfy)
      Ankle length Teva boots with a 1 inch wedge heel (also lightly insulated)
      Ankle length booties by some brand Nordstrom carries (not insulated and I wear a half insert in them for arch support)
      Mid-calf boots by Sorel (also lightly insulated, and I wear a cork half insert for arch support)

      Yes, that’s a lot of boots. I live in the Denver area, and it can be cold and snowy from Nov-May (and it can also be 60 in January), so I wear these shoes a lot.

      For the inserts with arch support, sometimes this means I buy a half size up. For the most part, I’ve given up on buying brands known to be “supportive” and wear flats with inserts or replace the insoles. I just cant bear the styling of even the “cute” ones. I want trendy shoes, dammit! :)

      1. Clever Name*

        Oh, and all of these are leather. I find that leather shoes are more supportive and comfortable.

    21. MissDisplaced*

      I hate clogs too. Just not a fan.
      My go-tos in winter are:
      -Ankle boots (flat or low wedge)
      -Loafer type shoes (socks or no socks)
      -Tall boots (flat or low wedge)
      -Platform Creepers ! (I’m a 50 year old punk bringing it back!) They’re actually really comfy and work appropriate.
      -I’m really into anything suede or nubuck lately.
      -If you really get cold feet, look for boots with fur or flannel linings, or buy wool or sheepskin insoles

      My favorite brands are Rockport, Clarks, Aerosoles, Earthies, Sam Edelman, Tuk (the Creepers), Aldo, Naturalizer, Cloudsteppers, and sometimes Zara.

    22. HBucket*

      Dansko also does some very nice looking shoes… they aren’t all clogs! But Clark’s are great too, as a bunch of others have said. As far as no-show socks, I found some from HUE that I really like. A little warmer, and they stay on better.

    23. Extra vitamins*

      Merrell. I wear their “Mocs” in a couple of colors. They are comfortable and warm. They also make some more traditional work shoes, but I haven’t tried those. I also have a pair of Salomon running shoes in mostly black that I can get away with. These only work with pants. I also like Taos and Earth.

    24. Chaordic One*

      I think that everyone else has made very good shoe recommendations.

      The only thing I’d like to add is that you might consider putting a pair of thermal insoles in whatever shoes you wear. They were a lifesaver during the winter I worked in an office where the floor was indoor/outdoor carpeting over a concrete slab.

  39. media monkey*

    This afternoon’s job is to put together evidence to fire a member of my team. we are in the UK so it requires quite a bit of process and documentation, so i am pulling everything together for my boss to take to HR to ensure we handle it all legally. he has been here nearly a year and to be honest he has never been a great employee. we would have done this sooner but he had a major and unexpected bereavement back in Oct, and it seemed awful to do it then.

    i’ve been a manager for years and never met anyone quite like this guy (also never had to sack someone). it is quite a highly demanded industry and he is entry level so should be enthusiastic and keen to learn – everyone else is, and people with only a few months experience are outperforming him at this point.

    any tips (not legal, but how to behave, things to say or not to say, how to not hate myself for firing someone who has just lost a close family member?)

    1. Wonderer*

      I would just note that the performance issues date back to before the bereavement, so you’re not punishing them for anything that is a result of that.

      1. valentine*

        If the bereavement was expected, is it possible that affected his work and that it’s all still affecting him? Has anyone bluntly discussed his performance with him?

        1. media monkey*

          sorry for the late reply! it wasn’t expected. we discussed his performance before this happened and have been taking it easy on him since then but we need to do something about it at this point.

      2. media monkey*

        that’s a really good point – it is the case so i will make sure it is clear. we had previously (pre-bereavement) spoken to him about the same issues to no real effect.

    2. irene adler*

      Be direct and factual regarding the reason for the termination. Don’t go into long explanations. These explanations should be things that were discussed at prior meetings hence, known by the employee.

      After you ‘drop the bomb’, what’s the plan for how to remove him from the facility? Will you ask for his keys, ID or other company property? Do you send him to HR? Alert security to escort him there? Will you walk him to his desk, hand him a box and watch him pack his things? When finished, do you escort him to the front door? He’s not going to know what to do after you inform him of his termination. So you have to have the plan all ready for what is done after this news is delivered.
      And be ready for the unexpected. He may get very angry. Or not budge from his chair. Then what do you do? So have someone close by to call on to help if he’s not cooperative with leaving the facility.

      1. media monkey*

        i think HR will be present in the meeting so we will need to know from them how they normally handle this sort of thing. but good point about what to do with his stuff. we don’t have a lot of storage space each, so most of our stuff is in a locker with a combination lock, so we can pack his stuff for him if he gives us the code. really good thoughts tho – thank you!

    3. Rezia*

      Don’t bury the news – if he’s a normal person, having minutes of lead up will be much worse.
      I’m hoping you or some other supervisor has had ongoing conversations with him about his performance both before and after October, so this shouldn’t be a total surprise. You should be able to reference past conversations and note that he hasn’t responded to whatever feedback he was previously given.

      Re: how not to hate yourself — if he’s not thriving in this position, he also probably isn’t having a great time at work. This may not be the right career for him. Your responsibility isn’t just to make your employees happy, but also to your company, and part of your job as a manager is making sure your staff are up to par. So remember that you are also doing your job in this situation. You can feel sympathy and sadness for the guy, but don’t hate yourself.

      1. media monkey*

        we have had conversations before october, but not much since then due to the bereavement and the holidays (although the specific issues and things that he has messed up on since october he knows about – part of the issue is that he appears totally unconcerned about these, and most impact on the rest of the team and at least one has directly cost the company money).

    4. Kathenus*

      One thing we talk about a lot at our organization in our management/leadership training courses is to separate the person and their fit for/performance in the job. They should know by now, via coaching and constructive communication, that they are not fulfilling all the needs of the job. This is not about them as a person, it is simply that they are not proving to be a fit for the needs of this job. Treat them with respect, don’t try to demonize the person to help justify the decision. Stick to the fact that they haven’t been or aren’t able to perform the functions of the job at the needed level, and that therefore you need to let them go, but that you wish them the best and know that they will find a position that better suits their skills.

      1. media monkey*

        that is a good positive advice – thank you! to be honest, he told my boss (so 3 levels above him, but it is a fairly informal structure) that he didn’t like the job and wanted to work in a different area and my boss told him to let him know what he wanted to go going forward (as the things he wants to do are not possible in the company at all, so there is no chance of a lateral move – and to be honest i wouldn’t risk appearing to recommend him to another team, knowing what i know!), he has never come back to him. we expected him to find something else quite quickly and move on, but that doesn’t appear to have happened!

    5. Mickey Q*

      I say “Karl we’ve decided to let you go.” When they ask why and say they’ve been a perfect employee, have a brief example: “You are consistently tardy and have been warned about it 3 times.”

      When they ask for a second chance say “The decision has already been made.” If they get weird say “This is not the time or place to argue about it.” Or “It’s time for you to leave.” Have someone else there as a witness and stand in front of a camera if possible.

      1. media monkey*

        umm, i think it will be more conversational than that and in a meeting room, so not in front of a camera! we are in the uk so we won’t just chuck him out.