open thread – January 18-19, 2019

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

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

{ 1,837 comments… read them below }

  1. Tara S.

    How do y’all feel about the stereotype “millennials don’t like to talk on the phone”?

    As someone smack dab in the middle of the cohort, it bothers me because my older coworkers will complain about it, along the lines of “kids these days,” but also assume I won’t talk on the phone? I’m about 50/50 on if I’ll call someone at work vs email, but when I try and tell my older bosses/coworkers that I’m more than happy to use the phone, they always kind of ask a second time, like, are you sure??

    On the other hand, I have lots of friends my age for whom this stereotype is true! Their voicemail inboxes are always full and it drives me nuts and they talk all the time about hating talking on the phone. Where do you guys land on this?

    1. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t know, because “millennials” is such a huge group, and I’ve also seen people apply it to anyone under 30 (even though many people over 30 are still millennials, and most people under 30 are not millennials). I think any stereotypes are damaging, but I also don’t see how not wanting to talk on the phone is some kind of character flaw. Some people just don’t like it.

      And, for some of us (I’m not a millennial, by the way), “liking to talk on the phone” really depends on context. If it’s for pleasure (chatting with a family member I like or a friend), I love talking on the phone. If it’s for work, I hate it. If we need to talk about something, let’s talk about it in person (phone is an undesirable backup, in case we’re miles apart from each other). Otherwise, let’s just email.

      1. Bend & Snap

        I’m not a millenial and I hate the phone. There’s really no reason to stereotype here; lots of people don’t like the phone/prefer other modes of communication.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

          I am mid to early GenX and I really prefer not to talk on the phone (because you cannot do that in the bathroom, obviously ;) )

          My millennial son chats with his millennial friends and gf on the phone all the damn time and I have no idea how he does it.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            I guess it is worth mentioning that I did not have a phone in my place of residence until I was 29. So, I did not grow up with a phone. When I had to talk on the phone growing up, it was from a pay phone, and was either a long-distance call, where you had to wrap it up quickly, because the phone ate the coins really fast; or an emergency call. Chatting with a friend for an hour from a pay phone wasn’t a thing anyone did. So that might be why I do not feel comfortable having long phone chats.

        2. Mimi Me

          Was coming here to say this. I am a phone person. I have friends that are the same age as I am who are not. We are in our 40’s. My daughter, who is 13, has a friend who loves to talk on the phone and hates texting. She says it’s because her fingers don’t work as fast as her mouth and sometimes she has a lot of things to say. :) I don’t think it’s an age thing…I think it’s a personality thing.

          1. Jennifer Juniper

            Thank goodness! If you read too many articles, you get the impression that all millennials/Gen Z people only text and refuse to speak to anyone IRL.

            1. Maeve

              I don’t think you can group together millennials and gen z at all in their relationship with technology. As a millennial (I’m 31), how teens are using their phones 100% mystifies me.

        3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          Me too. I’m out of even a generous reading of the millennial range and I have always hated the phone. At work it’s usually because it interrupts whatever I’m doing — I’m almost never working on whatever the caller wants to discuss — and then I have to furiously write notes in order to remember what needs to be done when I do move on to their project. Just send me an email and it’s already in writing so I can refer back to it.

          THE WORST is when they try to dictate text over the phone (I’m in graphic design so they’ll start with “paragraph 2, second column, it needs to say…” and that’s where I stop them and redirect them to either make a note on the PDF proof, or email me the text. Taking dictation is so 1960s.

          1. Bend & Snap

            I get this via email too. I send a word doc, they reply with a text wall in an email. EDIT IN THE DOCUMENT. It’s 2019.

            1. HeyThere

              I recently had someone print out a document, make handwritten changes/notes on it, and then TAKE A PICTURE WITH THEIR PHONE to send it back to me. I’m still shaking my head over that one.

              1. Quackeen

                Reminds me of a former boss who would print out an Excel spreadsheet, then do everything by hand/calculator. As in, let’s mark up the spreadsheet for how many of X there are, and handwrite that figure off to the side. Hmmm, let’s count how many of Y there are, ticking them off with my pen, and handwriting that off to the side. So inefficient, and so much potential for error!

              2. Another Anon

                My boss does this cause he’s not great with computers. Drives me crazy especially cause we work in law and he’ll send me edits on a 20 page complaint via iPhone pictures, each in a separate email…. kills me

              3. Observer

                It’s often easier to annotate by hand, especially if you don’t have the tools (or don’t know how to use them). I say this as someone for whom the computer is the first step for documents.

                1. Free Meerkats

                  I have the tools. I know how to use the tools (first computer was a TRS Model-80…) But I think and write better with a pen in my hand. Even if I do the first draft of something on the computer, I’ll do the editing by hand on a printed copy.

                2. a non non

                  Yes, I agree. It also just helps to do things in a different format. I’m periodically editing my dissertation right now through the computer, pdf annotations on an ipad and printed out versions, because you just catch different things that way.

                3. TardyTardis

                  I’m a Grumpy Old Boomer, and it’s so much easier to do all this on the spreadsheet. I had a coworker once who ran a paper tape adding up sums at the bottom of a spreadsheet column. Arrgh! (I did show her the shortcut how to sum the whole column, and eventually, she stopped doing the tape).

              4. Emily K

                Oh man…I had a very junior employee, who was working on a project that was all his own but had to be hosted on an online system I admin, send me a cell phone photo of handwritten text that he wanted me to use to create this online resource. I’m sorry, that won’t be possible.

              5. Shop girl

                What’s the difference between that and email. I do most of my correspondence with my staff theough text.

                1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

                  I’m going to guess, since I’m not HeyThere, but these days, there is absolutely no reason to print out a digital document, handwrite changes to it, then scan (or take a photo) it back to a digital form to either email or text it back — that’s 3 steps more than necessary. Just edit it on the original digital file and email it back.

                2. Lavender Menace

                  It’s that the edits aren’t in the document themselves, so HeyThere now has to go through your picture, find all of the places where you made changes, and then change them in the doc. It’s much easier on everyone if people just edit the doc directly.

          2. Kate R

            This is where I land too. I’m on the upper side of millennial according to the Pew Research Center’s definition, and I don’t love talking on the phone but don’t really have a problem doing phone meetings (I work from home, so they are pretty essential). But I HATE when my boss tells me to call someone instead of emailing them with a question. The might not even be at their desk or they could be in the middle of something that now I’m interrupting. I also hate when people start dictating detailed instructions over the phone. I’m trying my best to take notes, but if would really be so much easier to just send an email.

            1. Observer

              What I find often works well is a conversation followed up with an email. So I’ll tell someone “let’s discuss, but send me an email with the specifics.” It provides a simple way to handle background, context and big picture portions while not requiring detailed note taking.

        4. De Minimis

          I’m GenX but did a career change to where I re-started my career around the same time as many millenials.
          I have the same thing about the phone, I tend to view it as an archaic technology much of the time. E-mail is way more time efficient and is much better as far as documentation. I feel that it’s also better as far as being able to give a well-thought out, useful response.

      2. Kathleen_A

        There apparently is some actual data that supports the thesis that “millennials” (the definition seems a bit loosey-goosey) are, as a group, more adverse to talking on the phone than other groups.

        Of course, my maternal grandmother loathed talking on the phone, so it’s clearly not just millennials. But there is some actual data.

        1. Snark

          Is it just that we’ve come up with alternatives that are functionally better for a lot of tasks older folks have just always used phones for?

          1. Kathleen_A

            That’s my impression. The most recent survey I found was from December 2018, and it’s focused on the reasons why millennials avoid phone calls (a slightly different emphasis), and the overall reason, according to the survey, is “People have grown to want a fast and results-driven form of communication that fits their schedule.”

          2. Washi

            Yeah, I will happily talk on the phone when it makes the most sense, but if you just asked me “what do you prefer to use, phone or email” without any additional context, I would probably say email. Not because I’m scared of the phone, but because it’s less intrusive and therefore tends to be my default.

          3. Kathleen_A

            I have known people – not exclusively millennials but I’d say it’s more common with them – who stick to text and email even when a quick phone call would be much better. If all you need to do is send a sentence or two and only need a sentence or two in return, texts and email are the way to go. (This is particularly fab if you need to send those 1-2 sentences to two or more people.) If you actually need to have a dialog with somebody, it’s often more efficient to do it by phone. But I have known people who will avoid the phone even when it is easily their best option. I am not sure how strong the data is concerning that, but if I find something, I’ll let you know!

      3. Fibchopkin

        I HATE work phonecalls rather than emails! I think I’m just barely a millennial? 34? So a cusp millennial, maybe? When I’m at work- I’m BUSY. I have 50 things going on at any one time, and pulling myself out of a project to take a phonecall can throw me completely off my game. Like- get out of project mindset, engage in call, solve call problem (most likely) add residual call stuff to the to-do list at the appropriate category of importance, then try to re-engage project mode, and by the time you get go going again, it’s probably time for lunch or a meeting. Sending email or an IM is just so much more efficient and less jarring. Plus, it leaves an easy paper trail/reminder because you can read the email/IM, and if it’s not urgent, you can mark it as unread and get flagged to take care of it after you’re done with the important thing you’re currently working on.

        1. Snark

          Couldn’t agree more. I don’t want my focus interrupted and I don’t want to do that to anyone else.

        2. A Penguin of Ill Repute

          You’re actually not on the cusp at all; by the Pew Research definition, it’s anyone born between 1981 and 1996. So you’re in the older portion but you missed the edge by a couple years still.

        3. Anita Brayke

          OMG, so much THIS!! I do not have time to talk on the phone! I do it, but I work MUCH more efficiently without the interruption. I’m 51, and I like family and friends type phone calls, but not work ones. I will say that occasionally, phone calls are the only way to solve a problem or communicate clearly, but not very often!

        4. Emily K

          I’m your age and for me there’s a big difference between an impromptu phone call that puts me on the spot, and a planned phone call that I can prepare for.

          Luckily the culture in my workplace is that it’s very common to chat or email someone and ask if they have time for a phone call today or in the next few days, along with a brief summary of what they’re trying to accomplish and what they need to discuss with you to accomplish it. The other person will say, “Sure, how about X time?” or “Sure, feel free to grab any of the open slots on my calendar. Talk to you then!”

          Those kind of phone calls don’t bother me much at all. I generally prefer vcon because I have some hearing damage and find it easier when I can also read lips (not to mention the benefit of non-verbal cues) but the phone is perfectly cromulent, as they say.

          I hate being interrupt by a phone call I hadn’t planned on having and have had no time to prepare for, unless it’s literally a 1-2 minute call to ask me something basic that I would definitely know off the top of my head. But I feel the same way about people who try to chat me for discussions that would be better handled by email or a pre-scheduled meeting that we have time to prep for, and people who try to drop by my office expecting a 15-minute-long nuanced conversation without giving me any heads-up to prepare thoughts or collect background info. Obviously, time-sensitive emergencies notwithstanding – I’m in the digital field so I’ll never 100% avoid being put on the spot without preparation, but there has to be a good reason to interrupt a productive activity to have a conversation that’s going to be less informative and effective than it could have been if I’d had time to prep for it.

          1. TL -

            I worked in a lab and thus always had to plan phone calls – if you called while I was in tissue culture or in the middle of a protocol, I literally couldn’t talk. (And the phone may not be answered.)

            So I either had phone calls in the first hour of my day if someone was lucky enough to catch me (which was admin tasks and emails anyways, so no problems being interrupted) or they scheduled so I would actually be able to talk.
            I’ve never minded phone calls for work – they’re generally to problem solve so much more efficient than emails anyways – but the phone has never been intrusive.

      4. Seifer

        When it comes to work, I’m indifferent to the phone, but I do vastly prefer it to someone just walking into my cube. There’s no escape when they come into my cube. PLEASE call me instead. In my personal life, I don’t mind. Sometimes it’s easier to call than send 45 texts. Plus, for the longest time I had this weirdly specific image of an adult in my mind, a woman juggling her phone and keys and groceries while trying to open her door, and the more that happens to me, the more I feel like I’m doing okay at this adulting thing.

    2. millenial1

      Im a millennial and I definitely prefer email to a phone call. I prefer an email so that I have something in writing to refer to when preparing documentation or to follow up later. I’m more inclined to phone when something should be kept off the record or if I need an answer more urgently.

      That being said, I definitely check my voicemail and follow up always. If their voicemail is full that is just rude and poor ettiequte.

      1. Minerva McGonagall

        Also a millennial, definitely prefer email for the documentation reason. I’ll follow up a lot of phone calls with an email to make sure that the person has an additional way to contact me/documents/reference/etc.

      2. otterbaby

        Yep. The amount of times I’ve had to reference back and say “actually, we did discuss this and we did so on the 8th of November…” it’s invaluable to me in my line of work, even more so than a spoken conversation!

      3. Elemeno P.

        Yes, same here on all accounts. Different contexts require different responses.

        On a personal level, though, I really do hate talking on the phone. I’ll do it for work, but I avoid it in my daily life. Part of that is the distraction for people around me; I can have a quick text conversation in public or at work without bothering anyone, but I can’t have a personal call at my desk/in a crowded room without inconveniencing the people around me.

      4. Snark

        Exactly. I will call if that is necessary, and I call my mom and grandma and so on and enjoy those conversations….but for business purposes, email or messanging is where it’s at. I don’t like being interrupted by the phone or interrupting others, I don’t like making decisions without a record I can refer back to, I don’t like the ambiguity.

      5. Sara B

        Yes! If it’s something quick, like asking someone to let me know when they are out of a document so I can edit, I’ll call. If it’s something more detailed, I’ll just walk to their office. However, for certain topics and certain people, there is a definite CYA element and the reassurance of having things in writing. Having those conversations over the phone or in person have come back to bite me before, so I am careful to have the backup I need now.

      6. Dittany

        Yeah, same on wanting documentation. Unless someone is recording the conversation, spoken communication can be misinterpreted, forgotten, or “forgotten.” Written communication? Right in black and white.

        I also have auditory processing issues that sometimes make it difficult to parse what people are saying if I’m stressed or uncomfortable or there’s a lot of cross-talk going on elsewhere in the office.

    3. AMD

      I was a slow adopter for texting, but now at 32 I greatly prefer conversations in text. It doesn’t help that most phone calls I get are scam calls.

      1. Minerva McGonagall

        I ignore most calls on my cell phone for this reason. When I was applying for jobs I’d save the HR number in my phone so I’d know to pick up.

    4. Bunny Girl

      I’m in the millennial category, and I don’t like to talk on the phone, but it’s honestly because I like to have stuff in writing that people say because people in my organization throw each other under the bus like no one’s business so I like having a record of what they said in exactly their own words from them directly.

      It’s sort of a joke between my manager and myself that I won’t do anything unless the requester signed something in blood (My manager gets it too!).

      1. Anonymous Educator

        I don’t like to talk on the phone, but it’s honestly because I like to have stuff in writing that people say because people in my organization throw each other under the bus like no one’s business so I like having a record of what they said in exactly their own words from them directly.

        Yes, this is really important. You can sort of do this with a phone call, but it’s not as good. After a phone call, you can email afterwards to say “Just so we have both have it in writing, this is what I took away from our phone call. Let me know if I missed anything critical.” If they respond, you have their response in writing. If they don’t respond, you have a record based on your perspective that went unchallenged. Still not quite as good, but it’s something. And, yeah, it creates extra work (phone call + email instead of just email).

      2. I will be 33 later this year

        THIS. Not for the reason you mentioned about people throwing each other under the bus but in my experience, it is best to get things in writing so that if there is a discrepancy, you can say “per the email below, X transpired” and provide actually proof vs “he said she said.”

        1. Lis

          Even without the throwing people under the bus thing I have had two people in a meeting genuinely believing opposite things were agreed in the meeting, I think they each zoned out at different points in the discussion. The minutes resulted in two replies of wait what? And everyone else saying “we did agree X” minutes for the win over a month of useless work from two contributors.

      3. JGray

        Exactly. If you call someone you have no record of what was said or when. No one can argue with an email which is why I will send an email when I can.

    5. KatieKate

      I’m a millennial (26) and I love taking on the phone, but that’s because I learned how to talk on the phone. I didn’t grow up talking on the phone unless it was to call my grandparents. My friends and I all talked on IM or text. I only learned how to talk on the phone in college when I was working as a hostess and had to confirm reservations. It’s a skill “kids these days” just don’t have, and that makes people uncomfortable. When I had interns I always made sure talking on the phone and cold calling was part of their work because I know that it really takes practice for something that’s so foreign to them/us.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        I did 24-7 phone support for work for six years. I am pretty comfortable having business-related phone calls (including doctor’s offices and such) or phone meetings and maybe, like it is the case with you, that is why. Non-work-related phone chats still mystify me. I have nothing good to say about cold calls, so I won’t.

        1. Autumnheart

          I did phone support early in my career, and that’s WHY I hate the phone. #neveragain Squarely in Gen X here. I have good phone skills and can make a perfectly reasonable phone call, and I will if I have no other choice. But I’ll go out of my way to avoid it.

      2. Grapey

        I grew up learning how to use the phone because my mom got anxiety making calls to takeout places lol. (way before online ordering became a thing)

        I like using the phone for social calls, but for work, I vastly prefer email or chat or face to face.

    6. New Girl

      I’m a millennial. My SO and friends rag on me all the time because I’m that person that would rather make a 5 second phone vs. sending a text and 35 follow up messages.

      But I hate calling the doctors office and any sort of customer service number. I just would rather make an appointment online (so much less back forth when I can see which openings are available!!) or send an email so I have a paper trail.

      1. Bunny Girl

        That’s totally me with the 5 second phone call! I don’t do it often, but if I just need quick information, then yeah I’d prefer to call instead of text. Especially because when I’m home I tend to leave my cell phone just wherever and I figure some other people do that too.

    7. Rebecca

      I’ll be 56 tomorrow, so at the very tail end of the baby boomer generation, and I prefer email and text to talking on the phone, except if I’m chatting with a friend to catch up on a lot or I have to give some sort of bad news, like someone died, or there’s a medical emergency, that type of thing, but for the most part, please just send an email.

      1. Xarcady

        I’m the same age and I have *never* liked talking on the phone. Emails or texts are wonderful.

        In general, I find most of the “millenial” stereotypes to be wrong. The millennials I know, through working with them or being related to them or just being friends with them–none of them fit the negative stereotypes.

        But there are some baby boomers who are crotchety, hide-bound, negative Nellies that I try to avoid at all costs.

      2. Decima Dewey

        I’m 63 and when it comes to work stuff, I’d rather read it in an email. Some of my coworkers take forever to get to the point on the phone.

    8. Anonymous Educator

      I should also add that it’s not just a matter of “liking” to talk on the phone or not. Some people use a specific means of communication all the time, whether it’s appropriate or not. And sometimes a phone call is not appropriate.

      “The meeting has moved from 8:30 to 9:00” is not a phone call. That’s an email.
      “You’ll be receiving new forms from HR in your mailbox. Please check that” is not a phone call. That’s an email.

      And yet there’s always some annoying co-worker who insists on calling for something that would be better in an email.

      Frankly, (apart from the situation in which we have to have a long discussion, and we are unable to meet in person, because we’re physically far away from each other), I can think of zero situations in which a phone call is the best way to communicate for work.

      I used to be a receptionist, and phone calls were the worst (though obviously a key part of the job), because they took so much time, because they interrupted what you were doing and immediately demanded your attention, and because they don’t even get all the benefits of an in-person conversation (body language, for example).

    9. Dust Bunny

      Gen X and, yes, I hate talking on the phone. Partly this is just me–I’ve never liked to talk on the phone–but I also find it inefficient for work since it doesn’t leave any documentation. My job functions better when I can include links, pictures, etc., and print things out, and obviously you can’t do that with a phone call. Emailing in the first place is a lot more efficient and usually more accurate than trying to take notes on everything.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        Very much this, plus most of my Gen X friends feel the same. (Although the socially awkward tech geek demographic may be overrepresented in my group. :D )

        1. Dust Bunny

          Yeah, I work in an academic library, which basically means our staff is 45 die-hard introverts, so this view might not be unbiased . . .

    10. Cassandra

      I’m a Gen Xer who would cheerfully destroy all phones everywhere.

      So at best, the generationality of this phenomenon is… dubious.

      1. pancakes

        Same. I haven’t had a land line since Motorola Startac days, and almost never use my phone for calls.

      2. Formerly Arlington

        Me too! I don’t have any friends my age who talk on the phone! Especially with all of those spam calls from robo callers. I don’t even answer my phones. At work we use google hangouts for conferences and meetings. My mom is the only person I call, and even she texts me (she is 72!)

    11. Hooray College Football

      I’m a boomer and I don’t like talking on the phone. I’m much better in writing, especially when questions are complicated and require analysis, which is much of my job.

    12. She's One Crazy Diamond

      I am a millennial and hate talking on the phone. But I think it’s more because I’m an introvert than because of my age. My dad also hates talking on the phone and he’s Gen X.

    13. Sluggy

      I’m a millennial and I love talking on the phone, to friends and to strangers. I did customer service for some small businesses previously and always had really interesting conversations with people. Only had one bad experience with someone masturbating over the phone -_-

      However it is super inefficient for a lot of things, and nothing drives me crazier than a 15 minute phone call that could be a 30 second email. If there’s one millennial stereotype that I endorse, it’s that we’re stretched thin, and making time for phone calls with vendors who want to chat for 30 mins is a losing bargain.

    14. Rayne

      I’m a millennial and I kinda get the stereotype (I don’t really like talking on the phone either), but I have never actually seen anyone ~refuse~ to talk on the phone – especially at work. I think it’s insulting to assume a whole generation of people are just not do part of their job because they’re young. It makes no sense

    15. Just Elle

      I’m a millennial and I HATE talking on the phone with services. Ordering food, scheduling appointments… I will put it off for as long as possible or beg my husband to do it.

      That said, I’m a project manager and have zero issues spending a lot of the day on the phone with offsite coworkers. Something about it feels totally different to me, and emailing back and forth for hours when a 2 minute phone call could clear it up is a pet peeve.

    16. Falling Diphthong

      My mother’s voicemailbox carried the message, in my sister’s voice: “Hi. This is Jane Doe’s voicemailbox. You can leave a message, but she is never going to check them.”

      My 20s daughter calls home. And texts and emails. It’s more about matching the need to the medium–I sent her an email of a cartoon this morning; she called me last night as she walked back to her apartment.

      (Almost all my work communication is over email, but I work from home rather than in an office.)

    17. Jen RO

      I don’t mind scheduled phone calls (or Skype calls, in my company’s case). I dislike getting cold calls though, even it’s my mom… And I *hate* making unscheduled phone calls… I chose the clinic I go to because it lets me schedule appointments online!

      I’m born in ’84, so according to some classifications, I am a millennial. What’s weird is that, at some point, I stopped liking to chat on the phone. When I was in school, I spent literally hours talking to my friends. Now, I can’t wait to end the conversation! I very much prefer to meet them face to face.

    18. Shark Whisperer

      I don’t think it’s just millennials who hate talking on the phone, I think older generations grew up having no other option. I’m a millenial, my mom is a boomer. My mom hates talking on the phone. She used to make me call to order pizza starting when I was like 12 because she didn’t want to do it. She texts me way more than she calls me. In fact, I assume its an emergency if my mom calls me instead of texting me.

      I generally hate talking on the phone when it comes to talking to people I don’t know well or at all. But, I would say that I probably talk to my friends on the phone more than I text them.

      I think secretly everyone kinda hates talking on the phone. There’s some psychology behind the fact that talking on the phone makes us uncomfortable. Millenials are just the most vocal about it.

    19. Bagpuss

      I find any sweeping generalisation like that somewhat irritating, whether it is about Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, or whatever other group.

      I think talking on the phone (esp. to people you don’t know) is fairly common regardless of age.

      I wonder if the stereotype got attached the Millennials as they were the first cohort growing up for whom phone calls were no longer the quickest and easiest way to talk to friends etc, so maybe as a group were perceived as less confident / comfortable with talking on the phone (esp. in a business setting) than older people, when they first started working?

      1. pancakes

        That makes sense. And there are still lots & lots of publications getting mileage out of generalizing about millennials, no matter how senseless or tenuous the story.

    20. DAMitsDevon

      Millennial here, and on the one hand, I definitely prefer email to talking on the phone. However, a lot of my job involves talking to clients over the phone or via video chat, and those are the types of calls where trying to accomplish the same task via email would be impossibly difficult. I knew that going into the job. There are also some instances though, where I feel like talking over the phone wouldn’t be any better than sending an email (like following up with someone after a call, unless following up via email has been unsuccessful). When it comes to talking with coworkers, I do tend to prefer either talking in person, or email/Skype, especially if I feel like writing down something explains it better. We have quite a few people on our staff who work remotely (my boss for instance), and when we do talk to each other out loud, it’s with Skype video, so the idea of talking on the phone instead feels weird.

      When it comes to my personal life though, I definitely prefer texting or Facebook messaging, unless it’s something urgent. Occasionally, my friends and I who live far away from each other do Google hangouts. And if I want to talk to a friend who lives near me and hear their voice, I’ll try to see them in person. The only people who I like talking to on the phone for the sake of talking are my mom and sister.

    21. Catsaber

      For me – a GenX/millenial straddler – it’s not so much that I don’t like to talk on the phone, it’s that I want to use the most efficient communication method possible. Oftentimes that is not the phone – I think email and chat are way better for most stuff, but then prefer in-person talks for times when you really need to have synchronous dialogue. But if you need that dialogue, but can’t be physically present, then phone is perfectly fine. I don’t like missing out on the nonverbal stuff, but there are many times when a phone call can clear up a lot of confusion about a topic when emails just keep going round and round.

      1. Millenial Lizard Person

        I’m the designated phone-caller in my household. I agree that phone calls can be way more effective than email, because you can ask your questions and get answers right away. We had to get condo insurance recently, and Other Half was shocked that I called the company to finish it. When you’re trying to solve a problem, phone calls > emails.

        1. Catsaber

          I’m the phone-caller as well. I still don’t really like it, and try to use email or a company’s system as much as I can (I LOVE online patient portals for all my medical stuff), but yeah, sometimes email just doesn’t cut it.

    22. Thrown into the fire new manager

      I’m Generation X and I don’t prefer the phone. For quick and easy things, I like text and email but anything that needs more than a couple phrases/sentences, I have to use the phone…it’s too frustrating to coherently type something out. I sometimes wonder if the younger generation is a little more direct and the pleasantries on the phone is an irritation…I know it is to me. You can call someone a 2nd time in the hour and still have to go through “Hi, it’s me’ “Hi you, how are you?” “I’m fine thanks, how are you?” “I’m fine, how can I help you?”……

    23. LCH

      Old millennial here. I have no issues with a phone call, but I do hate voicemail. It just takes sooo long to listen to. I can read faster. Plus I usually have to listen more than once to get all the info. My VM transcription on the iPhone just isn’t there yet. But I will make calls, answer calls, and leave VMs myself if there is no other option. I only recently got my dad into texting.

      1. Mel

        Also technically a millennial (I’m 35) and I so hear you on the voicemail hate. I have a hard time with background noise, imperfect connections (and they’re all imperfect), and people talking quickly because it’s the 34235345th time they’ve recited their office number, so I have to listen to the stupid message over and over to get all the digits of the number they want a call back at. Just text me!

        While I’m grumbling, I hate voicemail interfaces so much! I’m calling in to my voicemail because I have a new message, that’s the only reason I ever call my voicemail, so just play it and skip the “You have 1 new message, if you would like to listen to it, press 7”!

        Part of my dislike of phone calls and voicemail could be that I’m a millennial, but part of it is definitely that voice is just a bad way to exchange information when the details are important.

    24. TheRedCoat

      I (30) will chat socially on the phone as much as I can. (Extrovert with a new baby, I don’t get out neeearrrr enough). But when it comes to work, I want it in writing because it’s how I manage my ADHD, helps me visually organize my tasks, and makes a paper trail if someone is “confused” later. I have emailed myself the contents of conversations so I don’t forget them later.

    25. Natalie

      I’ve just noticed this recently – it feels like the audio quality of most phones has gone completely into the toilet. I’m a millennial who’s conceptually fine with the phone, but not as much practically fine with the phone because it’s impossible to hear what people are saying!

      1. Asenath

        I blame cell phones. I have regular phone calls with a relative and love them – but she’s cell phone only, and the reception can be terrible – or get inaudible at any moment. I rarely use my cell phone for calls, other than very brief ones like calling a cab. I have no objection to using a phone in most situations (unless they put me on prolonged hold), but I dislike the phone at work. It interrupts me. Some people natter on and on until I stop them, a few don’t bother to identify themselves and work numbers I get calls from often come up on the display as private user, so that’s another guessing game. But I think the main reason I like email is the nature of my work. I need to track things, and email lets me do that without having to write notes based on my interpretation of a phone call. I have no problem at all using a phone in other circumstances. I’m a Boomer, if it matters.

    26. Marvelous Mrs. Manager

      I’m part of the “millennials” technically, but have been called many other generations over the years (first it was “Generation Y”, I think. I prefer text or email to talking most of the time if I can’t talk in person. For work, there are times when a phone call is necessary, but usually after email has failed – ex. customer service issue or situation where the conversation is not moving forward because of a communication barrier. For personal life, I really just don’t like holding a phone to my face for that long. I have AirPods now and it’s been a game changer. Now, I can do whatever I want while catching up with a friend!

    27. Oooch

      Its funny to read this because I just had a conversation with my mom about this last night. She told me her pastor had sent her a text about a meeting time. I told her I was surprised because that very same pastor told me years ago that it was stupid and lazy and a waste of time for me to text my sister instead of just picking up the phone to call her. We were talking about how many people in her generation (baby boomers) didn’t like texting at first but use it so much now.

    28. Jimming

      I’m technically a millennial and I don’t like talking on the phone in my personal life. Unless it’s a really close family/friend I don’t see the point. For example, I can order pizza, schedule non-emergency doctor appointments etc online.

      But I am on the phone often for work. I respond to others in the way they’ll engage – if they call me, we talk, if they email but don’t call back, we email. If they text back, we text. A lot of other millennials I work with do like to talk on the phone. Some don’t. I don’t assume anything until someone gets back to me a certain way or tells me their preference.

      Internally tho my company is mostly work from home so we do a combo of IM/video chat. I much prefer video chat over phone because you can see body language and have more productive conversations.

    29. AliceBD

      A lot of my friends hate the phone but like video chat, while I am the opposite. I would rather be doing something else than sitting and staring at the computer!

      But I talk a lot so grew up chatting on the phone, and I have had three jobs (CSR for Internet-based retailer, phonathon caller, and doing this cold called survey thing for a nonprofit on a government grant) where my entire job was to be on the phone. I was also backup for CSRs for a specific skill in another job because I had the skill and was comfortable on the phone (small business so if the main person was out sick or on vacation I had those calls).

      I like email for documentation reasons as mentioned, but I do call people if emails aren’t getting results, need an immediate answer, or I want to be off the record.

      1. jennie

        My father-in-law (boomer) always wants to video chat with my husband and me (GenX) and my husband refuses because “he knows what we look like” :) It just seems silly, and makes us feel we need to be more well groomed and put together than we normally are when sitting around the house. Otherwise I prefer email but have no problem with work phone calls. Don’t care for calls in my personal life though, unless it’s an emergency or complicated I prefer texts or email.

    30. Blinx

      Stereotypes are dangerous. Many people of all ages dont like to use the phone. I’m an “older” person and I hate to call people at work (but I don’t mind if they call me.) Maybe it’s an introvert thing — I always feel as if I’m interrupting them. I’d much rather send an email.

    31. Amber Rose

      I am a millennial I guess. I hate talking on the phone. I don’t think that has anything to do with when I was born though, because I was a kid during a time when email and texting didn’t exist yet (wasn’t much of a thing until I was in high school) and I hated talking on the phone then too.

      It’s the dithering. If you blather on in an email I can skim, but if you umm and uhh and go on tangents in a phone call, I have to endure it. And a lot of the time I have trouble hearing what’s being said, because things heard through only one ear is very hard for me to focus on, and the connection isn’t always awesome.

      I will talk on the phone. A huge part of my job is talking on the phone and I deal because it’s not the end of the world. But I hate it. And I hate people who assume I’m getting everything crystal clear, and that they don’t need to clarify whether their email is spelled with a c, d, e, p or g.

    32. CheeryO

      I have coworkers of all ages who refuse to check their voicemail. That’s just rude, regardless of age.

      I prefer email because, as others have said, I need the documentation, and I’d rather have a back and forth over email than take the extra two steps to type up my phone notes and distribute them with an “As we discussed on the phone…” email. I also like email because I can take a second to think about my phrasing and send something that I know is polished and accurate.

    33. Ceiswyn

      Gen X and I hate the phone with the fiery passion of a thousand suns.

      There is no way for me to know whether or not it’s a good time when I phone someone. If I approach them in person I can see if they’re busy, if I email/text them they can respond at a time that suits them; if I phone, I’m interrupting whatever they’re doing in a way that might be really inconvenient.

      I can’t see any body language cues, which makes for awkward conversation and the ability to talk at cross-purposes. And neither of us has the ability to pause and think, or check anything, or even just take a few moments to orient ourselves before starting the conversation. It’s just bing, suddenly you’re talking to someone, be professional and competent! When people phone me I tend to spend the first five minutes in a state of total confusion with my brain still full of whatever train of thought they interrupted.

      And, as others have mentioned, there is no paper trail. If they or I forget a detail of the phone call, then it’s just gone.

      There are no advantages to the phone, in my book. None at all. It’s just that some people insist on using it, for reasons that escape me completely.

    34. LessNosy

      I’m a millennial by definition. I used to hate talking on the phone at work and would avoid it at all costs. However, I now realize it was an introverted preference because I wasn’t as experienced at my job and I wanted to be able to be deliberate in my communication and really think things through. Now, I’ll hop on the phone whenever I need to because I know my ish! If I’m having an e-mail conversation with someone and they just Aren’t Getting It, I’ll specifically REQUEST that we get on the phone. To me it’s not a generational thing at all and most generalizations/stereotypes bother me because truly, everyone is different and has different preferences.

      1. RainyDay

        +1000
        Infinitely easier when you can talk off the cuff versus having to think before responding (then reading and rereading 800 times to ensure accuracy)

    35. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      Higher end of the millennial bracket here (Oregon Trail generation? I still have my Apple IIe in my office and it still works), and I hate talking on the phone, but mostly because I have both hearing issues and no visual imagination, so auditory communication with no visual component goes in one ear and out the other and I don’t retain it very well.

    36. Laura H.

      Part of it (for me, I was born in 1990- so I think I’m smack dab in the middle of the general generational definition- if there is one
      (that’s another problem for a different thread)) is that while I know basic phone etiquette, I don’t use the telephone to talk as much AND a lot of people don’t pick up calls from #s they don’t recognize- myself included.

      However, work calls are entirely different and while some of that basic phone etiquette crosses over, I’d need to likely be coached on how to take effective messages for the business. If it’s required of the job, you bet I’ll make efforts to get it down pat.

    37. Zip Silver

      I’m 28 and my voicemail on my personal phone is literally “sorry I missed your call, shoot me a text”. I only answer for my wife, mom, and boss.

    38. Phantom

      I’m an older millennial (36) who has hated phones since long before texting and emails were an option. I can remember being 10 and feeling like an oddball because the stereotype was that if you let a girl my age have a phone, she’d be on it 24/7, while I avoided talking on the phone at all costs. I have a hard time imagining that those girls all grew up to avoid phones.

    39. tink

      I don’t LIKE to talk on the phone unless it’s someone I’m familiar with, but for me it’s more because I have trouble hearing over the phone sometimes and sometimes miss very important things (plus I feel like an asshole when someone talks really soft or really fast and I constantly have to ask them to speak louder or slower and repeat themselves). But just because I don’t LIKE to talk on the phone doesn’t mean I won’t, it just means I’d rather you text/message/e-mail me instead if it’s something we can discuss that way.

    40. Delta Delta

      I saw “Reality Bites” in the theater so I think I firmly qualify as a Gen Xer. I hate talking on the phone.

      1. T. Boone Pickens

        I’m in sales/recruiting so the phone is a much needed tool for me.
        Phone calls for interviewing/debriefing/deal negotiation
        Email for contracts/resumes/references

        In my personal life I’m much more of a texter to setup IRL plans. I really only talk to my family over the phone anymore and that’s generally when I’m in the car w/ bluetooth for safety reasons.

    41. ADKay

      I’m Gen X and hate phone calls. One reason why: cell phones’ call quality is crappy compared to land line handsets (which I completely remember). An Atlantic article from 2015, “Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone,” describes the technological differences between land lines and cell phones.

      1. Landline lover

        Yessssssss. This is so true. I actually kept a landline for years, because I would have long phone conversations with my dad 2 – 3x a week and I really hate the sound quality (and sometimes time delays) of a cell phone conversation. I didn’t give up the landline until my dad passed away, pretty much everyone else in my life prefers text/email.

        I have a landline at work, and while I use email 90% of the time I’m perfectly happy to hop on the phone if that’s the easiest way to resolve something.

        1. Landline lover

          For reference, born in ’83 so I think I’m a Gen Xer? I had my own landline as a teenager and would have phone conversations so long that I’d actually fall asleep while talking on the phone some nights. Cell phones are not the same. Also, I have less time now.

    42. Not So NewReader

      Boomer here.
      I. hate. the. phone.
      This is after decades of being a serious phone user. My gripe is that the sound quality is so terrible. I do not like asking people to repeat themselves. And sometimes people have to say it 3-4 times before I can get every third word or so and guess at what they are saying. The phone is that bad here.
      Finally, I have landed on just telling people that the connection is breaking up on me. They call back. What should take 10 minutes works into at least a half hour trying to get the call squared away. What a waste of time.

      I think every generation hates the phone initially because it’s awkward answering a business call if one is not used to doing that. I hated answering the calls at work but I used the phone at home a lot. But I know plenty of people my age who avoid jobs with phone tasks.

    43. Sarah Simpson

      I really don’t think it’s any more true of millennials – I hate the phone, and avoid it when possible, and I’m old. That said, I did interview a person who said that in a particular circumstance, he had to call someone on the phone which “seemed aggressive” but it worked out – the problem was that he was interviewing for a job where he would be on the phone most of the time!

    44. Comms Girl

      Millenial who loves talking on the phone reporting for duty. The whole stereotype around this is silly :)

    45. magnusarchivist

      Mid-30s millennial here and I’m fine talking on the phone for work. If I have a role to play, I can slip on my phone voice & work persona and just get it done (also helps that I prepare before hand with notes and questions and stuff).

      What’s weird is that when I was a teenager I would talk on the (landline) phone for hoooouuuurrrrss to my friends and boyfriends but calling a doctor or the school or anything not social was like torture and I would beg my mom to do it for me. The stakes were so high! They could say anything! What if I made a mistake? Now, though, I do not know what to do with social phone calls at all. An ex boyfriend called me while he was traveling “just to hear my voice” and I did not know what to do with myself or how to make the conversation progress. We mutually agreed it was very awkward and hung up after 5 minutes.

    46. platypusenthusiast

      I’m a millenial (26), and it really depends on the situation. I prefer email for work purposes, just so I have some documentation to refer back to if needed. I also use phones as needed for work, and I enjoy talking on the phone with friends or family. I would never keep my voicemail box full though, thats just a terrible idea!

    47. Joielle

      I’m a millennial and I do hate non-scheduled phone calls at work. I think it’s rude for someone to call me, interrupt what I’m doing, and give me a stream of consciousness that it’s now my responsibility to write down and organize. If you can’t be bothered to organize your own thoughts and commit them to writing, why does that have to be my job?

      Of course, it often makes more sense to talk something out over the phone, and then I’m perfectly happy to schedule a call for a specific reason. And I’m more than willing to call a business to get information that’s not on their website, or make appointments over the phone, or talk to friends and family on the phone. So it’s not that I hate the phone per se!

    48. 1000pushups

      As a happy enough Millenial and an avid phone hater, I really only talk on the phone (or voice only Skype, which my organization uses heavily) when I absolutely can’t avoid it. But it’s (mostly) not because of my age; it’s due to spending four years in the call center trenches and being required to talk on the phone for 8-10 hour days. It’s also the reason I worked my tail off to move out of a front office, phone oriented position cause being tied to a phone all day sucks so very much…

    49. Snark

      I hate talking on the phone for many of the above reasons, but also because I’m hearing impaired. Can I do it when I need to? Sure. Do I want to struggle to figure out what the hell you’re saying through your crappy connection, without even the benefit of lip reading, body language, or subtext to fill in the inevitable gaps? Sweet llamaspit, no.

      1. Slartibartfast

        I’m mid 40s, suspect I have Asperger’s or something similar, and am completely oblivious to body language and tone of voice. So I much prefer written communication, because it avoids my deficiencies as well :) Il also keeps me from accidentally interrupting or talking over people, since I can’t anticipate where the natural breaks in a conversation will be. Also, I could read before I could talk, shrug!

      1. Kix

        Uh, let me try that again: “I’m a Boomer and I prefer email, chat, or text instead of using the telephone. It’s just easier (except when posting to AAM and hitting SEND before reading what you’ve written).

    50. Anon and on and on

      I’m 46 and I hate talking on the phone. I have difficulty understanding what the other person is saying and they get mad when I have to keep asking them to repeat themselves. I do much better with the written word.

      1. LizzO

        Grr, hit reply too fast!

        Anyway, I am seeing a lot more aversion to talking on the phone in the workforce, but it is not a Millennial-only problem. I think with all the communication based technology out there and with so many of them being integrated into the workforce, it makes it easier to avoid phone conversation. Millennials and Generation Z certainly grew up with a lot of technology integrated into their lives, but if the workforce is providing so many alternatives for communication and even encouraging this into organizational cultural, workers of all generations are certainly of guilty of avoiding phone usage.

    51. Tinker

      I don’t feel any particular way about the aspect of the stereotype that asserts it as a fact that Millennials don’t talk on the phone — I think it might be true, it’s sort of true for me although I think that has more to do with that I’m autistic and have some bad history with the phone being used as an electronic leash, but I haven’t gone looking into whether it’s really a statistical trend or not.

      Actually I get to wondering if that “electronic leash” thing is a relatively common generational experience and if that has something to do with higher rates of distaste for the phone if these are a thing.

      Where I do get annoyed, and this is often true with the generational difference thing, is when people frame the difference in a disparaging way. It’s not so surprising that people who have had different experiences with phones across their lives use them differently and have different attitudes to them — really I think it’s getting to where the “phone” of my childhood and the “phone” of my adulthood mostly share the name — but I don’t think it’s fair to rate one way of being as superior to the other.

    52. Rez123

      I’m millennial and I hate the phone. I choose what services I use exclusively on if I can book it online. We never talk on the phone with my friends.

      I don’t think it’s and age thing. But I do think it is true that millenials haven’t had to force themselves making phone calls and therefore it doesn’t seem a necessity

    53. Argh!

      Where I work we have a problem with people using email vs. using the phone. Normally email is fine, but when they use email to notify their supervisor that they’re sick, and if the supervisor isn’t there, then nobody knows where they are.

      Also, they used to ignore our phone when it rang until we changed it to a ringtone (some landlines will do that!) Now they will pick it up. They have no concept of hold or transfer, though. Even after explaining it several times, they will just lay it down and go get the person to come to that handset, and the person on the other end has to hear all the background conversation.

      So…. yeah, it’s kind of true. It may not be 100% but vs. 100% of older people feeling comfortable making and receiving actual phone calls, it’s rather an obvious distinction between generations.

      1. Sarah

        Re: using email to notify supervisor they’re sick – how would a voicemail message for an absent supervisor be better? That’s a situation that comes up frequently at my work with a 50something employee. Most people email their supervisor and a few colleagues, one leaves voicemail for several of us… and one leaves a single voicemail for his supervisor. So if supervisor is out, no one knows voicemailer is also out until he doesn’t turn up for a time-sensitive task.

    54. AnonyMouse

      As a millennial I get annoyed with this because I feel like my personal phone use is getting mixed up with my professional phone use. Yeah sure, if I get a call from an unknown number to my cell phone I’m probably not picking it up. I don’t want to deal with telemarketers and explaining to the poor student worker at my alma mater for the 1 millionth time that I’m not making enough to donate right now. At work I answer every call that comes to my desk because I’m required to. I obviously can’t speak for my entire generation, but I think generally speaking there’s a difference in the way most of us communicate on the clock vs. off the clock.

    55. Margot

      I worked for Childline in the UK for years (a helpline for children & youth) and from that experience, I would definitely say that “youth” (whether that’s millenials or Gen Z or later, I don’t know) are either adverse or inexperienced talking on the phone. There’s a reason chats and emails are growing in demand for helplines, regardless of whether they’re for children or all ages.

      In a work context, my biggest pet peeve is that the “boomers/older people” in my office complain constantly that the “millenials” won’t just pick up the phone and call, but I am beyond fed up of having meandering hour long phone conversations that could’ve been a one sentence email.

      1. Argh!

        I resist long streams of emails that should really be in-person or phone conversations! I have started to go to the person’s office when one of these starts up so everything can get cleared up. My supervisor has a very vague communication style, so relying on email with her just doesn’t work.

    56. Alianora

      I don’t mind talking on the phone in a work context when necessary, but communicating over text or meeting in person is usually far more efficient. I’ve gotten in the habit of sending a follow-up email summarizing what was discussed if any important decisions were made.

      In a non-work-related context, my landlord insists on having discussions over the phone and I really don’t like it because I prefer to have these things in writing and he just won’t. He’s also asked me not to contact him unless “necessary” by which he means don’t ask for updates on something that he mentioned that will affect me and don’t summarize our phone calls in writing. He is also just a terrible communicator in general: constant interrupter, fixates on one point he’s trying to make and repeats it over and over even when I confirm that I understand, either doesn’t listen or doesn’t seem to understand what I’m saying, has flat-out given me wrong information a couple times and just assumes that I’ll know what the truth is. Yes, I am looking for a new place.

      All that just to say that my landlord has really soured me on people who will only communicate by phone, and now I regard it as a kind of red flag that the person is trying to avoid committing to something in writing.

    57. blink14

      I think part of this is that the Millennial category is too broad. I’m towards the older end, and I hate being lumped in with the younger end, because the presumptions being made about Millennials (and some are true), really apply to the first generation of people who grew up with the internet and advanced technology from infancy or at a very young age. My brother is about 7 years younger than me, and there is a very distinct line between us generationally – he doesn’t remember not having a computer, and I remember not having one at home and only at school.

      I don’t like talking on the phone, but that’s because i just don’t like it. I feel more comfortable writing an email, because I can think and change what I’m saying. That said, being on the phone is part of most jobs – you just have to do it. I – and I’m assuming you as well – grew up in a time where phone was the main form of quick communication. People younger than us know email and instant messaging as the quick forms of communication. It is definitely a generational difference for sure.

    58. Avid reader infrequent commenter

      I’m a millennial. I absolutely prefer things in writing. However, it’s nothing to do with not *wanting* to talk on the phone. It’s a matter of record keeping. The things I deal with on a daily basis at work are things that are detail-oriented and might need to be verified or double checked later. I book a ton of travel all day long, and it drives me nuts when people just call up, give me a complicated change to their travel plans, and expect me to just remember it. That might be possible if I didn’t have 50 other things to book that day, many with their own changes. Send. Me. An. EMAIL. Please! The time I appreciate a call is when it’s to say “hey, just letting you know I sent something over, it needs to be done asap, IF it’s even possible.”

    59. Polly

      Gen X here and HATE THE PHONE but loved it as a teen. I think it has to do with personality type more than anything. Email is my jam.

    60. Youth

      Hate it, and I’m a millenial. But texting didn’t become a thing until I was in my mid-teens, so for the first ten years of my school-age life I had to deal with extreme anxiety every time I wanted to call up a friend and ask if they could play. Texting has been a huge blessing for me.

    61. Could be Anyone

      I’m a millennial by most definitions (I’m 33) and I HATE talking on the phone. This is mostly due to terrible anxiety, but I also prefer e-mail for practical reasons.
      – It’s easier to include multiple people in a conversation, and they don’t all have to be available at the same time.
      – I like having a written record I can refer back to.
      – I can take my time to compose my answer (and confirm it’s accurate) before responding, rather than trying to jot down notes while listening and formulating a response.
      That said, I have a phone conference scheduled in an hour because some things just can not be done by e-mail.

    62. Anonymeece

      I’m a millennial and I hate talking on the phone. I also worked at a call center and as a receptionist – go figure.

      For me, though, I almost have a phobia about it now. I have to psych myself up to call people.

      But my brother, also a millennial, loves talking on the phone. I’ve honestly seen more of an introvert vs. extrovert tendency than a generational one.

    63. she was a fast machine

      I’m more than happy to call someone for work though I usually lean towards email as my work is rarely as urgent as a phone call might dictate. But personally, I will not pick up the call from certain people(also in my age group and are also millennial) who I know just like to jabber or call “just to talk”. If it’s urgent, call me. If it’s not, text me. Otherwise, leave me alone, I’m way too busy to pick up the phone to spend twenty minutes listening to you putter around the house, carry on a meandering conversation, and yell at your kids/dogs.

    64. JG Wave

      I’m a milennial and in my personal life I really prefer talking on the phone. In a work context I’m actually not sure–I’ve never had a job where I had my own phone, anyway, except when I worked as a receptionist. In that case, answering the phone was a pretty big part of my job and I was perfectly happy to do it, and I can imagine that in some circumstances it would be really helpful.

      I did sometimes get frustrated when clients insisted on speaking to me on the phone, though, for two reasons. The main one is that, in the role I was doing, I really couldn’t answer most of their questions on the spot. I needed to be either going through paper records, which took too long when someone was on the other line waiting, or checking online databases, which could bring up a lot of irrelevant results I needed to sort through. If they had scheduled a call–if we had arranged via email that I would do the research, and explain my results over the phone at the end–that would have been better.

      The second reason I didn’t like talking to people on the phone at that job was because I didn’t have my own line, so every time someone called me, I had to kick someone off their desk, and as a student employee I felt really weird about it!

    65. Hi

      There seems to be TONS of people who are really adverse to talking on the phone. Im 28 so smack dab in the middle of millenials and I just don’t get it. Its part of existing in society. Just talk on the darn phone! Sure I’ll set up an appointment online if its easier, but the whole let’s spend 45 minutes emailing/texting over something a 2 minute call could solve is ridiculous. And in terms of the business world, it seems insane that anyone would ever say they “dont like” or are “afraid of” talking on the phone. I would read that person as completely incompetent. Its a phone? ITs not going to harm you. You can literally hang up whenever or shut the phone off. Yes, I know, people have legitimate anxiety but i would say if that’s preventing you from making basic phone calls, its interfering with your basic ability to live.

    66. AwkwardTurtle

      I’m in the range for millenial I think, and I love to talk on the phone… unsurprisingly, like most stereotypes, it’s true sometimes, but not always. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    67. Elizabeth West

      Gen X’er here, raised on landlines. I don’t mind talking on the phone, especially since texting is difficult for me because of dyspraxia. It’s not a generational thing. I talk to people online all the time–in my chat room, here, on Messenger. I have good friends whose voices I’ve never heard! It’s the way you have to type on a phone keyboard vs. a computer that’s the issue for me. I just have a really hard time controlling the fine movement of my thumbs, and eventually it will deteriorate so it looks like ‘Yeanl he reklly mess,e tat on up.”

      Text is fine for short conversations, but if you want to chat, please just call me. Just remember that text isn’t always the best option for the other person, and if they need you to call them, you might need to just deal with it and call them.

      That said, I hate making work calls and answering the phone at a job, but I think it’s just because I’m tired of being the phone person.

    68. Ghost Town

      I’m an older millennial myself and prefer not talking on the phone. At work, there are time when it certainly makes sense to pick up the phone/walk to their desk for a chat, but my preference is usually email or the instant message system (bonus being a “paper trail”).

      In middle/high school, I used to talk on the phone with friends for.hours.and.hours. Now, I’m not keen on long phone calls, even with family and friends.

      Things like business calls, payments or orders over the phone – I just get tremendous anxiety about them. Will I remember everything I want to address/order? Do I have all the information I need? Will my mouth cooperate with what I want to say or will I make a fool of myself? And this is after doing prep work and lists to make sure I’ve got it all covered…

    69. Jan Levinson

      I definitely prefer email (I’m a 25 year old millennial). However, I don’t attribute that to my age. My main reason for preferring email is that I have a savable chain of communication in case I need to go back to it. I don’t like when coworkers call to give me a boatload of information when it would have been so much easier to lay out in an email (and then discuss on the phone later once I have all the information right in front of me). I’ll certainly use the phone when I need to, especially in time sensitive situations. However, I do feel in general email is a better means of communication in most office settings.

      1. Jan Levinson

        Also, quick story-
        I was helping planning a trade show for our office, and was the RSVP contact for the event. I was in a semi-important meeting with some coworkers when one of our sales reps called. Our office admin who answered the phone interrupted the meeting I was in and said, “hey Jan, Bob is on the phone for you. He’s wondering if he could talk to you. I told him you were in a meeting, but he still wanted to see if you were available.” I rushed back to my desk to take Bob’s call, thinking it was urgent. He was LITERALLY calling to say “Hey, my customer, John Doe wants to RSVP for the trade show. Can you add him to the attendee list?” It absolutely boggled my mind that he would call to tell me that, rather than send me a 5 word email to RSVP his customer (not to mention knowingly pull me out of a meeting for something that was so not time sensitive.)

    70. MoopySwarpet

      At our office, we span 3 generations and 75% of us do not like to talk on the phone. I do notice that the youngest here is the worst about it, though. “I can’t get the answer I need from [offsite entity].” . . . “Did you try calling them?” . . . “No, but I emailed 4 times. Why can;t they just write me back?!” About half the time this happens, the email has somehow gone to the person’s spam folder (or so they say) so a phone call to look for it is really the only way it’s going to get done.

    71. CaffeinatedBeanCounter

      Millennial here, though on the older side of the generation. I don’t mind the phone for work at all though my job usually requires the “paper” trail of email. On a social level I am more likely to talk on the phone with either baby boomers or my fellow millennial friends than most X-ers in my circle. I don’t often like long conversations via text unless one of us in a situation where we can’t call.

    72. CS

      It is true; I am probably the only millennial I know that tells people to call me. When people were going off Facebook in droves, someone asked for suggestions on apps to use to communicate. I suggested “this thing called the telephone” and everyone was *amazed*. Business contacts have actually been surprised at how young I am when they meet me because I actually *use* the phone.

    73. A Non E. Mouse

      Oh I wish I could remember where, but I read this is really a difference in what kind of communication you are most comfortable with, synchronous or asynchronous.

      Synchronous, you want the phone or face to face.

      Asynchronous, text or email.

      Not a generational thing really – people used to write letters even after phones in houses existed! And those were the first asynch comms around!

    74. A tester, not a developer

      I am far too old to be a millennial, and I hate talking on the phone for work. 98% of the time, if I’m asking someone a question, I need some sort of record of what the answer was. I was thrown under the bus far too many times in my youth when I said “So and so told me X” and then X says they said something else, or I missed some nuance, etc. etc. So unless it’s a pretty trivial thing, I want it in writing.

    75. That One Person

      I’m with some other folks that it’s more of a personality thing. I’m not a millennial, but I’ve always been awkward with phone conversations because I don’t always know where/when to end it or how. Sometimes though I have a problem ending it simply because I don’t want to if its someone I generally like talking with and maybe don’t get the opportunity often. Always that “oh yeah and this thing happened!” type moments.

      On the other hand sometimes connection might be bad or there’s a lot going on around me that makes it either hard to concentrate on the call or I have problems hearing it. In such cases I like written words because I can go back to them and don’t have to ask for as much (or often) clarification on things. With retail though it was bad mostly because of the myriad of distractions going on (including people trying to talk to you despite the phone against your head) and all the other noise (and more so with holidays). Now that I’m not in retail it’s admittedly not as bad outside of one of us having connection issues if we’re using cellphones.

    76. Lavender Menace

      Some people just don’t like to talk on the phone. It has nothing to do with “millennials.” I’m a millennial, and I don’t like talking on the phone, but I have people my age who do and people my age who don’t. I also know older folks who hate talking on the phone, too.

      I think it’s accurate to say that millennials are more used to other forms of communication besides a voice call, because for most of our adult lives at least we’ve had other ways to communicate (email, text messages, messaging apps). And that may drive a preference for those types of messaging for some of us – but definitely not all of us, and not to the exclusion of older folks.

    77. Marion Ravenwood

      I’m a slightly older millennial at 31, and with me and the phone so much of it depends on who it is and who’s initiating the conversation and what it’s about. So if it’s me making the call to someone I know to ask them for something (eg ‘hi, it’s Marion, I’m just calling to follow up on Project X that we spoke about last week?’), then no problem. On the other hand, if it’s getting them do to something I want them to do rather than need them to do, and particularly if it’s someone I don’t know well (if at all), or if someone calls me directly when I’m not expecting it I can get quite flustered and panicky. It’s why I absolutely loathe phone pitching and was secretly really relieved when my new boss in my old job came in and said ‘we’re not doing that any more because it’s pointless’. I think it’s a thing about not wanting to seem incompetent or out of control, especially if it’s something they need help with and that I can’t answer but feel I should be able to (and particularly if they’re not taking ‘can I check this with a colleague and have someone call you back?’ as an answer).

      The thing that helps me is having a script or a list of things I can ask them about, and particularly when things might be going wrong. In a way it’s one thing that my side hustle has really helped with – having to speak to strangers on the phone for interviews quite a lot, and being able to handle things going awry (calls dropping out etc) and having a set of points to speak to them about that I can then bounce off. Something about that feels like a safety net and like I actually know what I’m doing, in a way that being put on the spot by a direct call doesn’t so much.

    78. rogue axolotl

      Personally, I don’t mind talking on the phone at work when it makes sense for the type of conversation we’re having. What annoys me is when I have to waste my time on a phone call because the other person doesn’t like using email or just thinks they’re more important than the rest of my job–particularly when I then have to spend the call explaining to them what they need to put in an email for me, after listening to a lengthy monologue that has no relevant information. So I think that either refusing to pick up the phone or refusing to use email can be pretty irritating depending on the situation.

    79. RNL

      I’m an Elder Millennial, and I had to learn how to talk on the phone professionally. Now I love it and am good at it and enjoy harnessing its powers (an instantaneous back-and-forth where misunderstandings can be resolved very quickly, unlike over email), but I used to find it very anxiety provoking because I couldn’t carefully formulate my thoughts.

      It’s almost like learning skills outside one’s comfort zone can be difficult, and young people have less experience with older technologies than older people!

      Hot take: many Boomers are reallllllly bad at email and tech in general.

    80. Adhara

      Millennial, and eh, don’t love phone calls, but I’ll do them.
      Personal preferences aside, I wonder how much of it boils down to the age demographic? Younger people are less likely to be comfortable with professional phone conversations because they’ve had literally less time to practise them. And nobody teaches it either, like I was amazed how quickly I shortened a call by saying “Hi! This is adhara, I’m calling about xyz”! I’ve coached younger millennial coworkers on the basic script because nobody told them how to do it. It’s not a fault, it’s just not knowing.

      OTOH, I get really snarly at the number of calls I make that result in my surname spelt wrong. I spelt it out for you! I know it’s weird! But please listen when I spell it out! So I definitely prefer black and white text for data or be able to input it myself and save another person having to go back into my account to change it.

    81. Seeking Second Childhood

      Dunno about millennials, but my daughter’s friends prefer texting to talking.
      I blame the number of people who had no land line during the “learn to dial ” years. What 3rd grader wants to get a parent at work instead of a kid?

    82. Catherine

      My preference for email has nothing to do with my age and everything to do with wanting a paper trail I can point to when people start the “but you saaaaaid” game.

    83. CatMintCat

      Well, I’m a boomer and I don’t talk on the phone if I can avoid it. When I started work, we had the phone and we had snail mail. Nothing in between – not even the fax machine. Now we have so many better and faster ways of communicating clearly and precisely, I don’t get people insisting on communication that is either slower or less precise. I love email and feel texting was invented for me.

    84. JediSquirrel

      I hate talking on the phone. People talk too fast, they talk too softly, they mumble, they can’t get their thoughts straight.
      I much prefer email, forum threads, DMs on social media, or texting. The only person I really call on the phone on a regular basis is my mother. My boss has called me twice, and now he shows up on my phone as a “frequent phone contact.” I like text-based communications because there is a record of it—I may not remember that you told me via voice to pick up a gallon of milk and a dozen eggs, but if you texted me that information, I could just pull it up on my phone.
      Am I a millenial? No—I’m a Gen X who is decidedly middle aged (and who has had hearing problems since childhood). Stereotypes be damned!

    85. Been There, Done That

      This view could be based on their experience with millennials rather than a stereotype they pulled out of the air. The millennials I work with are, like, married to their phones, whether texting, talking, checking email, or checking out the restaurant they want to go to.

    86. Cat wrangler

      I’m not a millennial by any means but I dislike talking on the phone – I always have done. I prefer to email or text where possible. For immediate responses it can work well but I prefer to initiate calls rather than receive – it’s the being in control element, I suppose.

    87. matcha123

      I’ve only heard that on this page. I’m at the older end of millennial, but I don’t mind speaking on the phone. I clearly remember being directed on how to properly answer and address callers when I was 5 years old.
      This seems less of an age issue and more of a comfort one?

    88. TeacherLady

      I hate the phone, to the point that it gives me a fair amount of anxiety (not sleeping the night before a work call, for example), but I think it’s because I’m a visual person, and speaking without seeing who I’m speaking to, or looking at the information they’re communicating, feels a bit like being a disembodied head floating around in the void. Also, the bulk of my work calls are conference calls, and the silences and lag time (followed by everyone talking at once) just leads to all sorts of awkwardness, which make me want to grit my teeth!

      So…nothing really to do with being a millenial, I think.

    89. Mina, The Company Prom Queen

      While in some situations it’s more efficient to just have a quick phone call rather than going back and forth on email or text, and there’s the whole “well, you can’t hear tone of voice in an email, yada, yada, yada…” some people seem to insist upon phone calls just for the sake of having phone calls. It’s like a badge of honor for them. Their badge of honor can be a waste of everyone else’s time or can delay the work that needs to be done. Also, there have been plenty of times when I have called clients or colleagues and they just emailed me back. That was fine because I got the information I needed and was able to move on with the task at hand. I completely agree that sometimes a phone call is best, but the condescending “pick up the phoooonnnne” makes me cringe. There are plenty of times when an email or text is fine or even better.

    90. fuzzbucket

      I’m an early X-er nerd and I can’t stand talking on the phone. Would prefer to text or email. So it’s definitely a personality thing rather than just an age thing. :)

    91. Clisby Williams

      Never heard of that stereotype. I’m 65, and I don’t like to talk on the phone. I buy about 200 minutes a year for my Tracfone, and that’s more than enough.

  2. Constanze

    Hello !

    I am in need of some help with wording in a discussion with my HR department (really, it is just Mary, an admin who has taken on HR duties).

    Important details : I am not in the US.

    My grandmother just died last week. I took a day off the next day in order to organise the funeral. It will take place on Monday, so I am at work today but I won’t on Monday.

    Here is my problem : my branch agreement says I can take 2 exceptional days off if an “ancestor” dies (i.e. parent, grandparent etc…). The law doesn’t say anything, so the branch agreement is supposed to take precedence.

    Mary told me that I could have one day for the funeral, and then the other day (yesterday) will come from my PTO.

    I came and showed her the agreement and told her I could normally have one other day (2 in total) without taking time off from my personal days.
    She was annoyed, told my that the software was calibrated just to offer one day (exceptional time off) and that normally, people just took one day, so she didn’t know. She tried to convince me that grandparents don’t fall under the “ancestor” category, but “indirect relatives’, for which you can just get one day. I check, and the law is clear here : it is in our Civil Code, and grandparents are direct ancestors.

    She told me that she would call the legal hotline on Monday in order to be sure.

    I am not completely sure how to frame this here. I didn’t expect to have to fight to be able to take my allowed days off, and the law is quite clear here.
    She was also quite dimissive and rude, I thought. She told me that “this matter is a pain in the ass” (I am translating, but she was forward and pissed off), and that it wouldn’t change anything for me anyway because I will have to take Monday off. Well… I know, thank you for that.

    Any help in how to come back to her after Monday if she is still trying to have me take a personal day instead of my allowed exceptional absence ? do you have some language I could use ?

    Thank you so much !

    1. Not Maeby But Surely

      “Mary, I know it’s not what you’d prefer but the branch agreement is very clear that grandparents are descendants and that as a result I am allowed to take two days off related to the death of a grandparent. I plan to take both days. Who can we involve in this discussion to get to an understanding?” (i.e. is there someone above Mary who knows how to understand the branch agreement that you could get as a disinterested third party?

      1. Constanze

        Thank you ! That is useful !
        I guess if she still doesn’t budge, I will have to involve either my manager, who will involve hers (the CEO), or I could go straight through to the CEO.

        I also have the option of going to the unions, but I think it would come off as quite adversarial, and I shouldn’t have to do that. It is just one day, after all.

        The thing is, I could take it from my PTO, I have it available since it is the beginning of the year, but it is a matter of principle : I would happily take days off fro my grandmother, but I don’t want Mary to stiff me of one day off because she can’t be bothered to learn the law.

        1. Steve

          Can you talk to the unions without making it a big thing? They are often the continuity / voice of experience in a workplace, and hopefully a quick unofficial chat with them can determine if you are interpreting the rules correctly. I realise that not all unions or workplaces are reasonable, but hopefully they can provide info which you can use with Mary (“This has come up 5 times in the past 2 years, and each time the result was X”).

        2. Four lights

          I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “the unions” or “branch agreement” since you are not in the US, but it sounds like the policy is a much more formal/a contract and Mary could be getting the company in serious trouble by not following it.

          1. Constanze

            Well, we basically have the labour laws, that we all have to follow in the country.

            And then, we have the branch agreements (they are by industry, to put it in a nutshell) : they have to follow at least the requirements of the law, but they can be more precise, more generous etc… They can’t be LESS generous. For instance, they will mention what is the basic salary for a job in the industry, or how much vacation we get etc…
            And if a company follow a branch agreement (most do), they have to act by it, it would be unlawful for them not to.

            And by unions, I think I mean the same as in the US (although I am not sure) : they are elected representative of the employees, they can act as intermediate in case of disagreements, and they try to negotiate the working conditions on behalf of the employees with the management.

            I would have the right to go to the unions, BUT I don’t know… it feels weirdly formal and confrontational. I have always imagined that you needed them when you are in a Very Serious dispute with your employer (harassment, sacking etc…)

            1. valentine

              You shouldn’t have to deal with Mary’s nonsense. She’s got some nerve, claiming a grandparent isn’t an ancestor. She’s possibly been browbeating bereaved people into settling for one day. Ask your supervisor (if unavailable, ask the CEO, unless the CEO has an exec admin who isn’t Mary) if someone can show Mary how to enter the second day in the system. Hopefully, they can get this resolved by Monday so it’s not waiting for you when you return.

      2. Jen RO

        I like this. I am in a country that has a similar law, so I would approach it as “HR person is not trained and she just needs help from someone more senior to figure out what buttons to push in the software, but of COURSE she wants to follow the law” (even if it’s clear HR is simply being unhelpful).

    2. WellRed

      Where’s your boss on this? Also, I like Not Maeby’s wording. Mary is getting off on a petty power trip.

    3. Four lights

      Yes, I wonder if it might be appropriate to loop somebody in. You say she’s an admin doing HR duties, so she may not be trained in the more detailed aspects of this position.

      1. Constanze

        I think this is key indeed. I will loop somebody in, although I would have preferred not to have to…

        1. OhBehave

          Sorry about your loss.
          I am an admin who is HR. I am not trained but I research when I don’t know the answer instead of using my own opinion. Involve your manager. My guess is that Mary does not know how to account for day 2 in the “system”. If she’s usually nice-ish, this role may be too much for her, she’s overwhelmed.

      2. Blue

        I would definitely loop your boss in if she continues to give you a hard time. Honestly, if your boss is a reasonable person, I’d probably flag this for them even if you are able to take care of things with Mary on your own. I’d frame it as, “I was able to get everything sorted out, but I don’t want anyone else to have to go through that while grieving.”

    4. Bryan

      Mary’s stance is that this makes her have to do more work and not what your company’s policy is. That’s bad, but with a death in the family this makes it seem worse. I would loop your boss in, especially if they have been supportive of you over the last week. Any decent boss is probably going to be mortified at Mary’s behavior and will see that this gets resolved for you.

      1. Constanze

        They have indeed. My manager was very supportive and hers (the CEO, so my boss too) as well.

        I will involve them when I come back if she still hasn’t budged. I don’t think she is malevolent, but she is not very competent or knowledgeable on these issues, and she is impatient.

        1. Just Elle

          I think its worth bringing up either way. Its her JOB to support people’s needs and make sure they get the benefits they are legally or otherwise entitled to. If she isn’t the right fit for the job, people need to know that.
          Think of it this way, what if she treats another person this way? Would you want anyone else to go through this?

          …but I agree it can wait. You don’t need to fight this battle at this moment.

          1. Constanze

            I know she told other people that they were allowed only one day, and I guess people didn’t check their rights. I might be the first person to push back.

            1. Observer

              You might want to point out that if the problem is that the system is not set up to allow multiple exceptional days, the system needs to be corrected and checked. Because you don’t want the system to cause you to break your branch agreements, which are binding, and you REALLY don’t want to take a chance that the system will cause you to not follow the law – which CAN happen in these kinds of situations.

              True story: I don’t know the current situation, by when Sandy hit the Northeast US, National Grid (a major gas and electricity supplier) was owned by a British company, and had (apparently fairly recently) adopted their (or a new) HR / Payroll system. National Grid also had a fairly strict rule against overtime. Which is fine, as long as people don’t actually WORK overtime. If they do, you HAVE TO PAY THEM if they are non-expempt, which is what most of the line workers are.

              In the weeks after Sandy, line workers were working TONS of overtime – in some cases working so many hours that they didn’t bother going home and slept in their trucks instead. We’re talking 60-80 hour weeks. Then the paychecks showed up – with pay for 40 hours ONLY. Their system doesn’t allow overtime, so you couldn’t enter more than 40 hours per week. And so people didn’t get paid for their hours.

              Now, I just checked on the story, and it turns out that the overtime was only one of the issues that were going on, but when the news first broke, this is what hit the papers, and the company actually tried to explain it away with this explanation about their system. The union had to sue them to get it straightened out.

              Of course this is rather extreme, but you never want your company to break the law, inadvertently or not, because something was not set up correctly in your system.

    5. Just Elle

      Jeez, this is completely ridiculous. I don’t know how to phrase things to get through to such a ridiculous person, but I wanted to offer my sympathy. Personally I’d go with “I’m sorry the death of my loved one is INCONVENIENT for you, but that’s not my problem right now.” But obviously that won’t get you anywhere.

      If you can, try to enlist a manager to fight this battle for you. You don’t need to be dealing with this right now.

      1. Constanze

        I really was tempted to say so earlier, but I was a little taken aback by her attitude. When she told me that these legal matters were complicated and a pain in the ass, I did mention that “I would have preferred not to have to ask myself these questions either”.

        1. Just Elle

          Of course you were taken aback! This is not an acceptable way for people to act.
          Just for reference, my grandmother passed away in December.
          My boss sent me a text “Please don’t worry about the HR paperwork right now, I put it in as an excused paid absence and we’ll get it sorted when you get back.”
          My mom’s HR manager and boss SHOWED UP at the funeral with a card and reiterated about 100 times she should take as much time as she needed, and they’d figure out a way for her to get paid for it.
          Even my brother’s terrible job gave him several paid days off no questions asked.

          1. Constanze

            Wow, that is really nice to hear that some places really go all the way for their employees ! I am happy that you and your family were so supported. :)

            Mine is really respectful and supportive on the whole. It is just Mary who chose a different approach.

        2. Data Miner

          I’d bring it up to your manager or CEO, as an aside and probably not in writing, that she needs to adjust to her role as the HR person and be more professional and understanding of sensitive personal situations. It’s not appropriate for her to tell you that dealing with a death is a “pain in the ass”. If I were her boss, I’d want to know this is how she reacted to your request.

        3. LCL

          Mary is in over her head. The reality is, last minute 2 day absences are a pain in the ass to the person who has to deal with staffing, but she should have kept that information to herself and had a drink after work. Not bothered you with it. And, it sounds like you may be the first person to take 2 days of leave under this category that she has dealt with. Somebody (should be Mary but you can do it) can call whoever supervises the pay process and ask how to properly enter this on your check. Then you can tell Mary ‘payroll says code it like this.’
          I’m sorry about your grandmother.

        4. Marthooh

          I think you handled it well in the moment – bland agreement is the best way to go when coworkers tell you how hard their jobs are. It sounds like Mary got HR dumped on her without training, and she doesn’t know how to tell the computer to give you two days off rather than one. (Obviously that doesn’t excuse her rudeness, ugh.)

          Maybe the way to frame it to her boss is that the person handling HR should be trained for the job.

    6. Bagpuss

      As she has said that she is going to call the hotline, hopefully they will confirm and you won’t need to say anything further , but if not, I’d send her an e-mail when you are back in on Tuesday, saying something like:
      “following on from our conversation about my grandmother’s death and funeral, I know that you were planning to double check to confirm that as she is my direct ancestor, I am entitled under the branch agreement for both [date you took off following her death] and [Monday] will be recorded as ‘exceptional days’ and will not be counted as part of my normal PTO time. Can you just confirm that this is how the time has been recorded? If there is any issue about this can you let me know so I can speak to [boss or CEO] to clarify?”

      That way, you’re phrasing it in a way that lets her climb down fairly gracefully, without having to admit in as many words that she was wrong, which may make her less likely to be awkward once she has found out you are right. And if she doesn’t confirm, then escalate it, at which point you say to the CEO (or your manager)
      “Mary has told me that I can only take one day as bereavement / exceptional time. I checked the branch agreement which is very clear that there is a right to 2 days where the reason is the death of a direct ancestor, and of course my grandmother is my direct ancestor. I’m not sure why Mary thinks I am only entitled to one day, I did refer her to the agreement. Can you confirm to her that that isn’t correct, and that neither of the two days I have taken will be counted as part of my normal PTO?”

      If she comes back claiming the legal hotline told her something different, are you able to call them yourself, and then go to your boss?

      1. Constanze

        Oh thank you for this ! I really like this phrasing, and I love that she can save face if she doesn’t want to admit that she was wrong.

        I will indeed put in it writing.

        This is really helpful, thank you !!!

    7. EmKay

      Sic your manager on her.

      Something similar happened to me, 10 years ago, when my paternal grandmother was on her death bed. I was allowed 3 days for an out of the country family funeral, per policy. I wanted to see my grandmother before she passed. I was not going to attend her funeral. My manager said of course, pack your things and go. I inform payroll “HR” lady who would be processing my paycheque during my absence. She looks me right in the face and says “I can’t do that, she’s not dead yet. I’ll mark your days as unpaid.” My manager, seeing me returning to my seat while openly sobbing, marched over to her office and descended on her like the wrath of god.

      1. Just Elle

        I had the same exact problem when my grandmother passed! Why are we only allowed time off to celebrate our love of people… after they aren’t around to experience it anymore? Makes no sense to me.

        In my case, my boss got it through as ‘paid sick leave’, which was great because it meant I unexpectedly got to attend the funeral as well, since my bereavement hadn’t been all used up.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood

      It may be that the software can’t handle non-sequential days. Maybe there’s a category to get a manager-approved “extra” day off with pay. That might be a way to have the software accept it – and it would let you offer her a face-saving excuse — she has faulty software, and she can be clever finding a way around it.

      Good luck – and my condolences for your loss.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m glad you’ve got a lot of feedback on this and scripts!

      Just wanted to let you know that PLEASE!! never feel “bad” or unable to challenge Mary’s interpretation of the rules. This is a huge issue in my mom’s company, they have a CBA [aka they’re unionized and therefore have a contract as well]. and the people tasked with HR are often…not well versed in the actual letter of the “law” so to speak. So they have to often challenge someone who’s being difficult.

      I am sympathetic, they can’t usually know all the details of every rule without going back and looking HOWEVER! she is rude and out of line. It’s very “standard” attitude for HR people in that position I’m learning. As the “designated” HR person who goes from the rule book, I’m angry that these people exist. I have to coax my staff to come to me and never fear that I’m going to ever tell them they’re a pain in the rear-end or whatever. ITS. MY. JOB. I AM HERE TO HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO, changing a procedure or process or researching it isn’t a pain in the backside, it’s the frigging job. [rage rage rage rage rant]

      I am so sorry for your loss! Nobody should be in their grieving period and then add this attitude, no no no.

    10. JediSquirrel

      “told my that the software was calibrated just to offer one day”

      Sorry, but no. The software (or how it is set up) does not dictate the policy. If the software doesn’t support the policy, then the IT department needs to get involved to either change the software, override the software, or replace the software. End of discussion, full stop.

      Either the software is faulty, or Mary doesn’t understand how to use it, but the policy is the policy.

      1. Namey McNameface

        Yeah, this is the lamest excuse to stiff someone out of their bereavement leave entitlement. Software exists to make payroll easier and quicker; not to cheat them out of their pay. If the software cannot be re-calibrated to provide that extra one day leave then it’s seriously faulty and should not be used anymore.

  3. Anonymous Educator

    I’ve been following the Glassdoor blog for a while. Sometimes they have some interesting stuff, but the latest entry (“How to End The Perfect Cover Letter”) really made me cringe:

    “I will call you next Tuesday to follow up on my application and arrange for an interview.”

    The most essential part of your closing is your “call to action” statement. Remember, the purpose of your cover letter is to land an interview. Don’t end your cover letter saying you’ll hope to get in touch. Explain to the reader the exact day and how you will be contacting them. When you state you will be following up with the employer, make sure you do it!

    Did this blog post writer do that in her cover letter to get the job at Glassdoor? And Glassdoor actually rewarded her for that?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      This is terrible advice, and so common. Relatedly, one weird thing is that I see a TON of people include that in their cover letters and then only about 10% of them actually do call. (Which is a good thing, because no one wants those calls — but it’s an additional weirdness.)

      1. Justin

        The funny thing is, I do some alumni fundraising for my school, and we’re told to say stuff like that when we email people. I hate it, so I don’t do it, but I’m also, accordingly, bad at raising money, so.

        But this context is not the same at all as a cover letter! My god!

      2. Mimmy

        Ugh I used to see that advice alllll the time, including from my state university’s career center (where I got my Masters), and it never felt natural to me. I am so glad my instincts were correct in that this is very cringe-worthy.

      3. PB

        I’ve seen applicants include this in cover letters, too. I have no idea if they have called, as HR hasn’t passed on that information. Every time I’ve seen it, the applicant has been very underqualified and someone we wouldn’t consider for an interview, regardless.

      4. female-type person

        Thank you! I just reviewed a cover letter for a 1L mentee, applying for summer clerkships, and I was horrified at the “I will call” stuff and made him take it out. This would not fly in law in the south. I inquired, and he found it on the internet, and wasn’t being “guided” this way by career services, thankfully.

      5. Kathleen_A

        In my day (~the Pleistocene), we were routinely advised to include that line, and to follow up on it too.

        It was stupid then, so why it’s still being given as advice now is baffling.

        1. Not the Spiegs

          Yes, fellow dinosaur here, this was very common advice back in the 80s when ads were in the paper and calling as a follow up to a mailed letter was being proactive.

          1. Kathleen_A

            Maybe…maybe employers got fewer resumes or something like that? It was harder to apply when you had to go to all the trouble of mailing the resume and cover letter through the U.S. mail. And I didn’t have my own computer until, oh, the mid-’90s, so that made it more time-consuming to apply.

            I don’t think those really explain the foolishness of this advice, because for one thing, though there may have been fewer overall, I did some hiring in the ’80s, and I still got plenty of resumes, and I did not like getting phone calls from all of those applicants. But maybe that was part of the reason for the overwhelming prevalence of this Call to Gumption.

    2. Just Elle

      I audibly gasped at this advice. If I got that, I’d be like ‘who the heck does this person think they are?!’

      1. Bagpuss

        Yes, it would come across as incredibly arrogant and suggest that the person was not familiar with business norms.
        (Even more so if whichever date they planned to follow up was before the closing date we’d given in our job ad)

    3. Really?

      But how do you call a company when sometimes the company doesn’t even post who they are in the job posting? i.e. “company confidential?”

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

        Extreme gumption story: A horribly boundary-crashing boss that I had early in my career (and had made the bad call to become friends with), after having no contact with me for several years, one day all of a sudden emailed me at my new job that I’d started a few months earlier. I was sitting at my desk with a new hire training him, when the new hire and I both saw an email hit my inbox that said “Thanks a LOT for telling me you have a new job now, oh wait you didn’t”. Five minutes later, he called me on my office phone. I asked him how he’d gotten my number. He sounded so proud of yourself when he said, “oh, I ran into your husband last night and he told me about your new job, I googled the company’s web site and called the number on the contact us page and it was a main switch with a phone directory”. NOT CREEPY AT ALL! But wait, it gets better! When I asked the then-husband about it later that night, the husband said that his chat with McCreepy ExBoss lasted less than a minute. They bowled in the same league, and ran into each other in the men’s room and the chat went like this: “How are you? How’s I Wrote?” – “Good, good” – “She still work at (OldJob)?” – “No” and ExBoss somehow found my new place of work on his own from there.

        This is all to say that I would not be surprised to learn that people do exist in this world who think it’s a good idea to dig deeper and find the hiring manager’s direct number from a job posting.

        1. This is nuts!

          Was your information listed on the company website? Some companies list their employees on their website such as “Jane Smith, Llama Groomer” Had you updated your LinkedIn?

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

            It was 13 years ago, so I cannot tell. He found me in their phone directory. Cannot remember if I did anything to the LinkedIn. It was before Facebook.

        2. DrTheLiz

          I actually had to do (basically) this! Company I’d applied to said “Great, let’s schedule a phone interview!” … by e-mail, from a do-not-reply robot inbox with no contact details. So, I dug until I was sure that the front-desk switchboard was my only option, made the call, got transferred and (thankfully!) was able to leave a voicemail saying “Hi, it’s DrTheLiz here – you didn’t leave any contact info, but I’m available any time next week, byee”. Got an e-mail about twenty minutes later essentially saying “oops, my bad” and it all went fine from there, but… not something I’d choose to repeat.

    4. Doug Judy

      There is a lot of bad advice out there, and the thing is there are some people who still like that kind of gumption.

      A few weeks back on a local morning radio show there was a discussion about putting collegiate sports on resumes post college and so many people called or texted in to say they love seeing that on resumes and those are the first people they call. I could not roll my eyes hard enough. There were some decenting opionios but I was shocked how many seemed to think it was a wise idea.

      1. Just Elle

        I can’t disagree with the college sports thing. I was on a fire explorers program as a teen and then worked as an EMT to put myself through college. This is in no way related to my current job, and its been many years.
        I still have been told at virtually every interview that that experience stood out to them. (Mostly because they think it shows I can handle myself in a male dominated industry… but shouldn’t my years of working experience in a male dominated industry show that??)

        Anyway, point is, I really do think that things that ‘speak to your character’ should be left on a resume, even if its long past the point in your life when you last used that activity to ‘demonstrate character’. And even if it is super eye rolley that people still think this way.

        1. Doug Judy

          I can see that being more impressive/relevant than “I graduated in 1988 and played Div 3 volleyball” which were the examples given.

          1. Just Elle

            Yeah, ok, D3 volleyball isn’t really the same as D1 football, etc.
            But I think a lot of people who played sports in college feel that it was fundamental to formulating their work ethic and teamwork skills, and that those skills translate well to a workplace regardless of the amount of time that has passed.

            Again, the mere fact anyone has made it 10+ years in an industry with increasing levels of responsibility should tell you more about their work ethic and teamwork than their college sports, but…

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          It’s very dependent on where you’re applying.

          I have large machinery jobs that when I see any kind of intense work prior, I’m interested

          In the office though? I roll my eyes and wonder why they didn’t tailor it better.

      2. Bekx

        My fiance puts his college sport on his resume. It’s just 1 extra line, but it has been a talking point in every interview he’s had. He was a D1 team and went to the Olympic training center for sport. It ends up being a conversation piece. His most recent boss’ daughter is in the sport, so they chatted about it a bit. He doesn’t put his records or anything down, just that he was an athelete in (sport) at University.

        I don’t really see it as any different than when I put down that I was a member of our college’s theater program on my ‘extracurricular’ section. It’s a talking point that has allowed me to share how I am comfortable presenting in meeting, for example.

        1. SWOinRecovery

          I put college athletics in my resume next to my college major and minor. Since it takes up so little space, I consider it a “couldn’t hurt” inclusion. It looks like this:

          Llama College Llamaville, AZ
          Bachelor of Arts June 2099
          • Llama Relations Major, Llama Leadership Minor, NCAA Llama Equestrian

          I’ve found a significant amount of interviewers are interested in it and those who play that sport provide a real connection during the hiring process. I could see it coming off weirdly if someone 20 years out of college had 3 sentences about college athletics. But since it’s only 3 words in an otherwise dead space, I imagine I’ll keep it in my resume forever.

          1. SWOinRecovery

            Eh, should have guessed that formatting wouldn’t go through the same, but I think you get the idea…

        1. mark132

          PS. that said if I played college sports, I would put it on my resume. It just bothers me the deference given to athletes. I think it is way out of balance with the contributions actually made by athletes.

      3. Lavender Menace

        Actually, I wouldn’t mind someone putting collegiate sports on their resume, especially if they did well in college otherwise. I’m not saying that those people would be the first people I’d call, but collegiate sports do take a certain amount of work/effort/dedication, and balancing collegiate sports and college is not an easy task for everyone. I had some college athletes in my classes when I taught, and some of them moved heaven and earth to make sure that they got everything in on time and did well in the class – even when they had to routinely travel for meets and stuff.

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom

      Oh no, not the gumption!

      Seriously, what horrible advice! Sounds like the quickest way to have your resume thrown into the “no” pile.

      1. PB

        Very true. Also, she’s acting as if there’s a binary: either say “I hope you’ll call me!” or “I’ll call you on Tuesday to schedule my interview.” I’d advise applicants to not include either statement, but especially not the second.

      2. Fact & Fiction

        LOL, so true! Basically the whole cover letter should be a CTA, where you entice the prospective employer to contact you…

    6. kittymommy

      LOL, that’s hysterically bad! At my work we probably haven’t even closed the application process yet so calling “next Tuesday” is a very good way to find out the person you want to talk to is “in a meeting”.

    7. Leela

      I used to get over 100 applications per job posting when I worked in tech. Oh my good lord I do not want to deal with 100 calls, which probably didn’t magically space themselves out to not overlap each other, from people I might know in a glance we wouldn’t be able to proceed with anyway!

      1. JediSquirrel

        I usually follow that up with repeating my preferred contact information, since I may have more than one method listed in my resume, especially in these days of social media networking. “You can call or leave a voice mail at 555-867-5309, or feel free to email me at jedi@squirrel.net. Alternately, you can DM me on Twitter @JediSquirrel.”

    8. Picky

      Best shoot-yourself-in-the-foot job applicant: My work in a specialized industry involves about 20% direct service and the rest managing people who do much more of the public-facing work. As soon as the posting went up, a highly qualified candidate came in and asked about it. My staff were happy to give her more details, and suggested she make an appointment with me for an informational interview. Instead, she hung around for SEVERAL DAYS until the next time I was serving the public, and tried to pitch herself as a candidate while I was helping other people. I told her she’d need to make an appointment and gave her my card. She still did not make an appointment. She did apply, and although at this point I had reservations, I was still going to interview her as her qualifications were fantastic. That workplace was notoriously slow at hires, so there was a delay of about two weeks after the posting closed. She came in AGAIN and started asking my staff why she hadn’t gotten an interview yet. They told her to call me. She did not. One day a staff member came in to say the applicant had been in three days in a row in hopes of catching me in the public area. At this point, I crossed her off the list, went out and told her she would not be interviewed as she wasn’t able to follow directions.

  4. Doug Judy

    Thanks Allison and others who gave me advice last week on working for a small husband/wife organization. I did go to the interview and while they were very nice, my instincts were to turn it down. There’s only 19 employees, and only 6 on the business side of things. They pulled the “we’re like family” thing and while as a working mother having flexibility is nice, it seems like it would difficult to set boundaries with them. Plus in my area of the Midwest, most employers understand people work and have children. In my 12 years of motherhood, I’ve always worked it out.

    So as much as I need a new job ASAP, this one definitely was not for me. Thank you to everyone who told me what to look out for. I didn’t want to take something out of desperation. I am in the final round of interviews for two other jobs, and while I have been in this position many times only to get zero offers, hope springs eternal that the end is near!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Breaks my heart the stigma is still attached to small sized companies. But if boundaries are important it makes sense.

      I’ve told every one of my bosses/owners “no” and never had anyone meddle in my personal life aside from maybe my beloved boss paying attention to my car troubles but it was due to him being able to get me cheap mechanic work from his buddy in a few situations.

      Meanwhile tons of large companies treat you as easily replaceable and have HR issues just as much as places without HR.

      I do wish I could wipe “like family” off the face of the Earth though.

    2. CatMintCat

      I worked for a husband wife team many years ago – him, her, two employees, the cat, the dog and their kids in and out in the front room of their house. I was doubtful but it was a tough time in the industry so I took it with the intention of continuing to look while employed.

      Somehow, it worked and we are all still friends twenty-plus years later. I came to quite enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. It could have been so much different though.

  5. Rozine

    Removed.

    Ugh, sorry all, this is someone who repeatedly trolls here on gay/trans issues and I didn’t catch it at first.

    1. Bunny Girl

      I agree with this as well. Plus, if you did fire him, he could potentially sue your company. His beliefs might stem from his religion, and he could argue that he was let go on grounds of religious discrimination.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yep, objectionable as the belief is, you’d be on really dangerous legal ground firing him for that belief (if it’s rooted in religion, it would be flagrantly illegal).

      The answer is, you do nothing unless you see it coming out in ways he treats people at work.

    3. Peachkins

      I’m inclined to agree. If he was treating his coworkers differently or using homophobic slurs, that would be one thing. But firing him just because he declined to sign a card and told you why when you asked? That seems pretty drastic. If his beliefs do become a real problem, I would cross that bridge when you come to it.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      “But now I don’t know if I should let him go or not.” Is that legal? Is that reasonable? How does that conversation sound like? “We’re letting you go because you’re homophobic although you’ve never mistreated or maligned anyone based on this belief and your performance is acceptable.”

      Is homophobic a protected class? You can definitely fire someone for being homophobic. It’s legal. Should Rozine do it? I don’t know. I think, Rozine, you should consult your HR department or some other folks at your company. There is definitely something to creating a safe working environment. At the very least, you need to make sure he’s professional and treats everyone equally (he’s not right now). That said, you can’t really change his beliefs. How important is not being homophobic to the mission of your company? I would hope it’s really important, but if it is, maybe you should work with your communications department to make that part more prominent on the website and recruiting literature?

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        No, you cannot fire someone for homophobic beliefs if it’s rooted in religious belief and they aren’t treating coworkers differently in any meaningful way (not signing a card isn’t going to qualify).

      2. OhBehave

        , ’ (’ ).
        Because he refused to sign a card? No. So if I refuse to sign Gail’s card because she’s an abusive coworker, I’m in trouble? If he’s doing or saying things to those people, yes, he needs to be dealt with.

      1. AMD

        I am not proselytizing, I don’t think, just offering an example of a perspective that would not sign a card, but would not otherwise cause problems with my diverse coworkers. Sorry if I sounded like I was pushing a point of view, that wasn’t my intention.

        1. Sylvan

          I’m frankly unsure how you could see people in the way that you described without treating them differently.

      2. ElspethGC

        Agreed. It feels very unnecessary. (Also, the use of the word “lifestyle”, which is pretty universally recognised as an *ick* word in this context.)

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        She’s explaining her viewpoint on the question, which is allowed here, just as it would be fine for someone else to explain why they find the employee’s views abhorrent.

          1. Detective Amy Santiago

            It’s also really offensive to call it a “lifestyle” which both AMD and Vitamin D have done at this point.

      1. Sylvan

        +.75? I might not do this immediately, and might spend some time watching and considering his behavior first so that you can be fully informed.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Eh, I don’t think that will necessarily accomplish much. Bad behavior of this kind can often be pretty invisible to people not directly impacted by it. The OP has a public statement and action to run with, and saying something based on that seems sufficient to me.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      I’m also a religious person (Christian, specifically), and I recognize that both research and anecdata show that gay marriage and gay parenting are as healthy as straight marriage and straight parenting. Your comparing it to abuse is bigoted and highly offensive.

      1. AMD

        Like I said, I wasn’t comparing it to abuse! Just to the feeling it would invoke it me, if a coworker I liked and respected said they were doing something that I genuinely felt like would be harmful for them. I couldn’t think of a better example, but I should have probably not commented until I did, and I apologize.

        1. Sammie

          AMD – I think some of your wording was poorly chosen and fell into some territory that can be very triggering for LGBTQ+ people and their allies (I as a gay person know what’s best for me, not anyone else), but I did appreciate that (I think) your point was that you believe the man can still treat his coworkers with respect. I haven’t personally seen that in action too much – I feel that it tends to seep through – which is maybe why I am sceptical that it can happen, but your perspective is different and I understand that you tried to say that in a way you thought was respectful. I hope this thread will help you – and others – continue their self-examination on how we communicate our beliefs and feelings etc.

    6. It's a Friday Thing

      “I would watch and make sure he treats his coworker the same as everyone else.” Now he’s going to feel that he’s on some type of watch list and if he thinks that his work allocation, performance reviews, or overall workplace quality has changed, he might attribute it to ‘being watched’.

      It is a ‘bosses’ responsibility to watch the workplace, assess the environment, and maintain the ‘health’ of the living organism we call ‘the office’ but let’s make sure it’s not explicit or persistent.

      Thankfully no one suggested he go on a PIP…

    7. Person from the Resume

      I agree. His beliefs are awful, but bizarrely good on him for it never making them known at work before.

      The only thing I might watch for is if he did start treating the bride differently (maybe he didn’t know she was gay before). And I ask you to please not let this information get out by you saying something to anyone else. Right now you know because you went investigating.

      Not signing a congratulations card is so minor. I’m surprised you noticed he didn’t sign. I’m betting the bride won’t check that everyone at work signed it. If she were to, she’d probably assume that he was out the day it was passed around or it missed him for some other reason.

      Let it go and try to forget this about it as long as he’s not treating anyone differently at work.

      1. Mimi Me

        I recently passed on signing a card for a person who was “retiring” from my company. I didn’t sign because 1) she and I have never got on and we weren’t going to miss one another, 2) she didn’t actually retire. She still works here but instead of being an employee she’s now a contractor. Her desk is still in place – framed photos displayed, personal mementos abound, etc. 3) she was insisting on an off site retirement party – to which we were expected to pay $35 a person. I noped out of it all and just let the card go by without signing. I believe that Thumper’s father had the best advice. :)

        If I were in the managers place, I’d keep an eye out for any issues from him going forward and act then, but if it was just about not wanting to sign the card because of his beliefs I’d do nothing. In my head I’d think differently of him for sure!

        1. It's a Friday Thing

          Only if you signed it really big and a flourish, signifying that you really care. Otherwise, inside piece with red icing that will stain your tongue.

    8. Amy

      I mean I am too, everyone misses a card now and again because for what ever reason they just weren’t around when it was being circulated.

    9. Persephone Mulberry

      I think preemptively warning him not to do something he has already not been doing is also overkill.

    10. Vitamin D

      Your employee has the right to not believe being gay is the correct way to live, and if they don’t want to sign a card that is fine too. Where your issue as a manager should be is if this person is willing to work with and be a good co-worker to all coworkers no matter what their preference in partners is. If they can’t work with someone who has this lifestyle then its time to let them know that it is unacceptable behavior and whenever they work with your gay worker you need to follow up with that worker and get their perspective and write up your homophobic employee as necessary because its not ok.

      I personally don’t believe the gay lifestyle is right, but I lump that in with that I also don’t like mushrooms and will not eat mushrooms. I have gay friends, go to gay weddings buy gifts, our nanny is a lesbian because its their choice not mine, and their lifestyle doesn’t make them less funny, less caring, or anything other than a lifestyle that I don’t believe is the “right lifestyle” so that’s on me. It doesn’t matter if I believe the lifestyle is right or not to anyone but me, if I ever make it about someone else (except for my husband) then there is an issue that I need to fix.

    11. Rozine

      I only asked because we sent around a list of names with the card and people could cross off their name once they signed, I thought he forgot or didn’t get a chance to sign. Then he told me he didn’t want to sign it

      1. Passing through

        That makes sense.
        I was mainly asking because anything beyond “Did you have an opportunity to sign this?” can make it feel like signing is some kind of responsibility, not an opt-in thing.

        I’ve gotten pushback when I wouldn’t sign a retirement card for someone who’s last day was before my first day.

  6. Anon for this

    It’s raise time in our office! Last year I was still too new to get a raise although I did get a promotion and a very nice salary bump at the six-month mark. For reasons, they announced raises this year would be a flat rate across the company. I was guesstimating 2.5% (this is what I received at old job when they did flat raises), so I was delighted when I saw the raises for my direct reports was 5%. I was floored when my boss told me they still felt I was underpaid, so I got 10%.

    I was nervous about quitting my last job. It was comfortable and I really liked the people I worked with, even my boss although managing people was NOT part of his skill set. Switching companies felt like jumping off a bridge. Now I really love the new job, I’ve had a lot of exciting opportunities to learn new things and travel and I’m making 84% more than I was at old job (where I was probably slightly underpaid, but that was the company as a whole, not just me).

  7. EnfysNest

    I’d like to get some outside opinions on how hard to push back against a signage issue in the restrooms at my workplace. Some signs have been appearing in the women’s restrooms at the hospital facility where I work and I think they are, at a minimum, pretty rudely worded. They’re posted above the feminine waste disposal boxes in the restrooms and state the following:

    “ATTENTION LADIES
    This box is here for your convenience
    Please use it properly.
    1. Use one of the paper bags to dispose of your sanitary pads.
    2. After placing the pad in the bag take the bag and dispose of in the trash container next to the sink.
    THANK YOU.”

    Originally, the signs were just posted in two of our staff restrooms. I thought they were annoying and kind of rude, but they also looked pretty old and they were just in staff restrooms, so I sort of rolled my eyes and just let it go. But now photocopies of the signs are showing up in public restrooms and I feel like I need to push back more on it, because I could see this coming across as really patronizing and rude to the patients and visitors in our facility.

    I get where the request is coming from, in that handling bodily fluids can be a hygiene problem and possibly dangerous, so the request itself doesn’t necessarily bother me – it’s just the phrasing of calling this using the boxes “properly” and the wording of the “convenience” line that are bugging me when I’ve never seen the boxes treated this way anywhere else in the past. If the sign said “Please help us out by doing the following:”, I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

    As a possibly contributing note, our housekeeping team, where I’m assuming the signs originated, is almost entirely male. The department that I’m in is also mostly male. Additionally, one of our facility’s goals is improvement in terms of providing specific services for women’s health in general, and I feel like this does not help with that goal.

    So my question is how far I should pursue getting these signs changed / how much of a fuss I should make, knowing that sanitary waste is usually a pretty taboo subject. I mentioned it to one of the people who usually helps with our signage contracts, but since these are photocopies of old signs, she didn’t know where the signs had come from and I don’t think it’s a priority to her. It’s been at least a month since I talked to her, but the signs are still there and I’ve discovered additional restrooms with photocopies since then.

    There are some other reporting options that I have – either submitting a formal complaint or work order or putting a note in one of our comment boxes, but, again, since this is such a taboo subject, I wanted to check and see if this comes across as problematic to others as it does to me.

    So, am I right in wanting to push back more against this to get the signs removed/changed, or am I overreacting? Are there some locations where this is normal and this is just a regional difference that I’m not used to? And do you know of any regulations or building codes requiring the provision of these waste disposal bins or how they are meant to be handled? I’ve found the ADA recommendations for the height of the boxes if they are there, but so far I haven’t found anything confirming whether or not they are an actual requirement to be there in the first place.

    1. Lena Clare

      I hate the term sanitary/ hygiene products anyway because it implies that having a period is something unsanitary and not perfectly natural.

      Anyway with regards to the signs, I don’t see a problem with asking for it to be changed. I would prefer something like “please dispose of feminine towels and tampons in the receptacles provided” just above the bins and in the women’s toilet cubicles themselves.
      You could try to mention it, I don’t see the harm in suggesting alternative placements and phrasing.

      1. MarfisaTheLibrarian

        I figure anything in the bathroom, and anything with blood, is, while natural, fairly unsanitary, at least for other people to come in contact with.
        But I’m fond of just referring to them as “menstrual products,” both as more inclusive to non-menstruating women or menstruating not-women, and just less euphemistic

      2. EnfysNest

        They aren’t saying to dispose of them in the bins provided, though – they want us to take a paper bag out of the bin, put the napkins/tampons in the bag, and then carry the bag out of the stall and throw it away in the larger trashcan out by the communal sinks.

        1. CheeryO

          Ah, that is a little odd. I would ask if mini trashcans with liners could be provided for each stall. I can see where people might not want to carry the bags out of the stall with them.

          1. EnfysNest

            Right – I think that’s the source of the signs, though. Housekeeping doesn’t want to empty individual tiny bins, so they’re telling us to take the bags out of the stalls ourselves.

            1. CheeryO

              I do think that’s worth pushing back on, because you’re inevitably going to get people either flushing their pads/tampons or putting filled bags back in the boxes to avoid carrying it out of the stall with them. It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect the cleaning staff to empty the boxes or individual trash cans.

              1. Hooptido

                But maybe not. At the large hospital at which I work the budget for housekeeping and staff was cut dramatically as part of a larger cost reduction push. Cleaning patient rooms, clinics, operating theaters and other patient care areas is top priority. Other areas are cleaned, of course, but there are fewer person hours to do it so something has to give. This seems like a reasonable thing to me. Menstrating is natural. Don’t be ashamed to take your bag to the larger trash can.

        2. misspiggy

          So no privacy? That’s very unusual in my location, and would definitely result in noncompliance through people flushing them due to being too embarrassed to bring the bags out of the cubicle.

          You could argue that bins and bags inside each cubicle is far more likely to improve safe disposal.

        3. Doodle

          It may be that the minibins are not big enough, or (what I suspect may be happening, because it happens at our office) is that people are sticking their used menstrual products in the mini bin without wrapping or bagging them. And thus the cleaners and people going to stick the used products in the bin have to see / find it hard not to touch other people’s used menstrual products.

          On the wording — I wouldn’t get heated about it, although you should suggest a better version (I’d pitch it as, the version you propose is more polite). I think it may be an effort to be extra polite — I’ve seen this with signs our building housekeeper posts, which can be a little odd or off-putting, but she is the *nicest* person and would never knowingly be rude or offensive.

        4. In it for the $$$

          This happened at my workplace and it was the housekeeping staff that had put them up (mix of male and female). We brought it up to the Facilities group (who oversees the housekeeping staff) and they agreed that it was quite odd and had them taken down. It hasn’t been an issue since (about 4 years ago.)

      3. Detective Amy Santiago

        I would suggest using the phrase “menstrual products” to be more inclusive of trans men who also menstruate.

        1. Ann O.

          I prefer the phrase “menstrual products” because I think it’s a better, more accurate phrase, but I don’t understand why women’s restroom need to be inclusive of men. Trans men’s menstruation needs seems like an issue for men’s restrooms to take up.

      4. designbot

        But that’s not actually what they’re asking people to do—they’re asking people to take a paper back from the box provided, put their pad in it, then carry that out of the stall to the trash bin and throw it away there. That’s a pretty unusual request.

      5. S.Wench

        I’m not thrilled with the wording, but I wanted to focus on the box.

        If the decision is made to use the in-stall box solely as a receptacle for clean paper bags, not for used menstrual products, then the opaque boxes should be replaced with wire/mesh see-through baskets. You can see there are only clean bags in there, and it’s a visual reminder not to place used items in on top. (We are socialized not to leave used products visible — and it’s the “out of sight, out of mind” that makes the different uses of those in-stall boxes a bit confusing.)

    2. Free for All Friday

      I’m confused. In each individual stall, is there a mini waste disposal bin, or is there only a bin with little paper bags?

      1. EnfysNest

        They are little metal boxes mounted to the stall divider. I’ve only ever seen them elsewhere with a single paper bag in them and they are used as a mini trash can only for napkins/tampons. Here, however, in the locations with the signs, there are several paper bags folded up inside and I guess they want us to take out the bags, put the napkins/tampons in them, and then take them out of the stall to the larger trashcan by the sink.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

          So I think the sign is irrelevant… I think the bigger issue is that for some unknown reason your custodial staff doesn’t want people to use the normal bins that 99.99999% of people use when available. That’s weird.

          Personally I wouldn’t do it, I’d use the bins as they are meant to be used as will most people who need it. I’d push back on the dopey cleaning policy.

          1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

            Also to add that most people don’t read signs of any kind so their proposed system is doomed to fail.

          2. Lindsay gee

            Yeah, one of the bathrooms at my workplace is like this-except there aren’t even bags. They just expect us to wrap up our pads/tampons in enough toilet paper and then take it outside of the stall to the main garbage bag. I find it in poor taste to be honest. It’s obviously not a big deal to dispose of it in a different trash can, but it somehow just feels so unnecessary to save the custodians a little bit of extra work. I’ve cleaned bathrooms for work before and it takes two seconds to remove the full bag and then replace it.

          3. designbot

            I’d tend to agree. Especially since the entire custodial team is male, I’d approach is like “I can understand how you wouldn’t realize this, but that’s not how those bins typically work, and you’re fighting an uphill battle if you expect people to follow a sign instead of doing what they’re used to doing in every other bathroom.”

        2. CM

          Okay. They’re doing this in a super weird way, which explains why they need to post a sign, but I agree that it sounds a little bit stupid to call it a “convenience.” It makes it sound like they’ve done you a special favour by providing a service that’s standard in all public bathrooms.

          I probably wouldn’t complain about it, but if it REALLY bugs you, think of something funny and creative to write on the sign next time you’re in there to make the message sound more positive.

          1. MattKnifeNinja

            Those bins aren’t common in public restrooms where I live. The only one I know of is the big deal university medical office building.

            In my niece’s middle and high school, there are no menstrual products bins in the stalls.

            My sister’s work place actually removed those little bins to save money. Plant facilities outsources cleaning. They were charged MORE for fishing out all the stuff that was crammed into those little bins. There were insulin syringes, gum, food wrappers, empty pill bottles…

            If you see little bags in the bins, you put the used product in the bag, then take it to the trash.

            Housekeeping does what housekeeping is instructed to do. If it’s in house, they should clean up the bin crime scene. If it takes an extra 30 mins to decrud those little bins, the outsourced cleaning company will tacked on the more man power hours on next contract.

            My sister’s work had signs about how to properly used the bins. No one did, so they removed them. Half of the products never make it to the trash now. #gross

      1. Data Miner

        Agreed. Honestly, people might not know to use the paper bag and dispose outside of the stall. Its unfortunate there isn’t a disposal in the stall but I’ve seen people wrap up (ineffectively) in toilet paper and put in the trash by the sink and that’s much worse…

        1. anonagain

          There are disposals in the stalls. The disposals are currently being used to hold empty paper bags.

          It sounds like a terrible system.

          1. Autumnheart

            I personally find it really weird that sharps and needles get a Special Bin with tons of symbols and cautions all over it for sanitary disposal, but the instructions around disposing blood-soaked menstrual products is “Everyone stick your hand in this communal lunch bag”. If being exposed to other people’s potentially infectious bodily fluids is so risky, why the hell don’t we have a better system for disposing of menstrual products?!

            I’m guessing Facilities doesn’t want to touch the communal lunch bag either and that’s the reason for the signs.

      2. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

        I was going to say the same thing.

        I’m going to change my username to “Allison Jr.” :)

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch

        This is where I come down on.

        They’re pretty straight forward and it seems OP is zeroing in on a couple words that rub the wrong way.

        I wouldn’t take this complaint seriously if it came across my desk.

      4. Lilian

        Yes, I really don’t see why you’re finding it so problematic, it’s pretty straightforward language.

    3. WellRed

      The signs are probably there because “some people” don’t dispose of their feminine products properly.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Totally flashing back to my college dorm on weekends, when the response of certain people to the little bitty can being full was to leave a bloody pad sitting on or next to the toilet. Because wrapping it in TP and carrying out to the main trash can was icky, I guess.

        Which is also why I don’t object to “sanitary.” It’s something soaked in blood; people don’t want to touch that, just like they don’t want to touch stuff soaked in another adult’s pee.

    4. Susan K

      I don’t see a problem with the signs. I have seen signs with very similar wording in many public restrooms, so I doubt many people would be offended by them. I am a little confused by your question, though; is it just the wording of the signs that you dislike, or do you think there’s a problem with what the signs are asking restroom-users to do with their pads?

      1. EnfysNest

        I’ve just never seen it done this way – everywhere I’ve ever been before, the bin is a little mini trashcan with a single bag in it. This one wants us to take a bag out of the bin, then carry that bag out to the large trashcan by the sinks. To me, it seems unusual and not how I’ve ever seen these bins treated elsewhere, so for the sign to say “use it properly” feels off. If that’s common in some places to have to carry the bag out to a trashcan outside the stall, I’ve just never encountered that specific process before, so that’s why I’m asking. If that’s normal for some, then I’ll just let it go.

        1. Ihmmy

          I haven’t seen this system either, but if it’s what the cleaners want done it’s not unreasonable to request lowering their exposure to other peoples blood. The “properly” would irk me too, but I get why they’d have signs explaining the less common process. Do you think you could draft a different way of giving instructions that was a bit more upbeat and suggest it to the person putting up the signs?

        2. WellRed

          That wasn’t clear. I’d prefer to use a bin in the stall, not carry out to the trash basically announcing it’s that time of the month.

        3. Anonysand

          I can’t speak to other regions in the US, but I’m in the midwest and this has been the set-up in every workplace I’ve had for the last ten years. It’s very normal around here and the argument I’ve heard is that it’s more “sanitary” because the custodial crew doesn’t have to directly handle the soiled products if it is bagged separately and dropped in the larger trash bin.

          1. Natalie

            Well, just as a counterpoint, I’m in the Midwest and spent a decade in commercial property management and that is not what we expected people to do. There was one bag in the disposal container and you were supposed to leave stuff in the bag. If we had wanted to give people bags to bring their used products to the trash, we could have purchased bag dispensers rather than metal boxes that are designed to be a trash can.

            Either way, if this was my building I would just put the instructions on the bin without the “use it properly” preamble, but I also think this isn’t a big enough deal to complain about.

        4. Witchery

          You mention that your cleaning crew is mostly men – perhaps they just don’t know how this works. Underscoring that possibility is the phrase “sanitary pads” which seems to really miss the tampon issue (Which IMO is bigger because people think they should flush those). In this case I don’t think your issue is the sign, but rather their expectation that people use these bags. I’d work on finding a solution that doesnt have menstruating persons confused and wasting little paper bags (this could be a conversation about how these should work, or even maybe a trash can in each stall if you have room for it?)

    5. CheeryO

      I’m a little confused, but it’s very normal to provide a box and/or mini trash can with instructions. I don’t think the wording is particularly bad, unless you mean specifically the part about taking it to the main bathroom garbage. If boxes/bins are available in each stall, people should be allowed to use them.

      I don’t think you’ll succeed in getting the signs removed. They’re there to prevent people from flushing their sanitary products, which is a problem for both the building plumbing and the septic system or municipal sewer system.

    6. CTT

      I’m guessing if they’re feeling the need to put them up everywhere, then there is a problem with products backing up the sewage system, meaning that they aren’t being used properly. “Sanitary products” may not be the most updated term, but the message itself is one that people occasionally need reminding of.

      1. EnfysNest

        Oh, it’s 100% normal to have signs saying to throw them away and not put them in the trashcan. I would never blink an eye at something like that! It’s just the specific instruction to take it out of the stall that made me do a doubletake.

    7. Violet Rose

      I wouldn’t worry about the signs too much. However, it sounds as though there are no small trash bins inside the stalls themselves, which surprised me, as I’ve personally never seen a public restroom without some discreet in-stall waste disposal! If your organisation is focusing specifically on improving services for women’s health, that might be a good angle to approach if you wanted to suggest adding trash bins to the individual stalls, which may even eliminate the need for signs.

      1. EnfysNest

        The bins are there – they’re just filled with folded up paper bags that we’re supposed to use to take the items out of the stall and to a different trashcan. I guess so that housekeeping doesn’t have to empty the little trash cans.

        1. All About that Action

          The bags thing is a little unusual, so people may have just been tossing pads and tampons directly into the box, which would problem result in the unused bags being thrown out. Perhaps this is the reason for the use of the word “properly”. Although I do not find it rude or problematic in any way…

        2. Doodle

          TBH, I’d prefer that. Those little bins full of other people’s used menstrual products are gross. (Gross because they’re someone else’s blood, not because menstrual products are gross.)

    8. Jen RO

      I don’t see a problem with the wording – I’ve seen far, far more passive-aggressive signs. I would assume that the cleaners deal with many people who *don’t* properly dispose of the products, i.e. flushing pads and causing damage to the pipes, and are probably frustrated.

    9. OyHiOh

      Ehhhh

      Several state universities I’ve been around, in different states, have used identical wording in the women’s bathrooms, although the logistics are slightly different from your set up, with paper bags and mini trash cans located in the stalls themselves. I think you’re overreacting to the wording on the signage.

    10. Rhymes with Mitochondria

      I would push back, not on the wording, but on the whole “carry it out to the garbage can by the sink” part. They’re going to have MORE problems with flushing if they don’t provide in-stall garbage bins. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect used pads to be carried out to another garbage can. Tell them that “proper use” of the bathrooms would be in-stall trash cans.

    11. ANon.

      I think the wording of the message isn’t the problem (the wording sounds fine to me, not particularly rude). The issue is the system itself. Many women might not feel comfortable taking a bag outside the stall to throw away in the larger trash bin by the sink, assuming this is a multi-stall bathroom where someone else might be in there and see. Though of course menstruation is a normal and natural thing, I don’t need my coworkers to know exactly when I’m on my period.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Not only this, but how many bags are they going to use? Do they expect them to use a new one every time they change a pad? I would be going through about six or eight a day. Are they going to leave enough bags for everyone to do that?

        1. Jane

          Yes, what if they run out of bags??

          Also, there is a reason besides embarrassment to have a bin next to the toilet. Changing pads and tampons is a two handed job. What are you going to do with the bag meanwhile? You remove the old one, put it in a bag…then what? Put it on the floor? Balance it on your head?Ew. No, you need to put it in the trash while you are still sitting on the toilet, then replace with a fresh item, then flush the toilet and arrange your clothes, etc. I don’t want to be holding a bag during that whole process. You need a trash within arms reach.

    12. Lola

      I would contact the EH&S department and ask them to research the signs especially since they have now moved to the public restrooms. We had something similar and it was a specific member of the janitorial staff that had an issue.

    13. Xarcady

      I think the reason for signs like this is that in some places, there is a small trashcan or wall-mounted box in each bathroom stall for disposing of menstrual products and in some places there is a box with bags for the menstrual products which then should be thrown out in the regular trashcan, not the little box in the stall. My current workplace has the second arrangement and similar signs.

      If you are used to the first arrangement, you might put used products in the box that holds the bags, so some kind of notice/instructions are necessary. I agree the wording of the signs in the OP could be improved.

      1. EnfysNest

        Yeah, I’ve just never encountered that second version anywhere else, so that’s why I was asking. Knowing that it is a thing in some places, I’ll let it go.

    14. Llama Wrangler

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like your concern is not about the wording of the signs overall as much as it is about feeling like the (mostly male) cleaning staff is asking people to put their menstrual products in the larger trash can rather than putting it in trash cans in the stalls, but framing it like it is for the bathroom-users convenience when it is actually for the cleaning staffs’ convenience.

      It doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me, but I agree with other commenters that if you could suggest individual trash cans in the stalls if you think people won’t want to have to carry bags of menstrual (or other stall) trash to the communal trash can.

      1. EnfysNest

        Yeah, that’s a much clearer way of putting it, and thinkijg about it, that’s definitely what has me feeling uncomfortable about it.

        1. Joielle

          I’m on your side! I’m irritated about the whole thing just reading about it. Like, in addition to being a weird system (it sounds like other people have encountered it before, but I never have), there’s ALSO a patronizing sign. I don’t know that there’s a good way to push back without making it into an unnecessarily big deal, but for what it’s worth, I agree with you!

          1. Doodle

            It’s not patronizing intentionally, I’ll bet. It sounds to me like a slightly awkward attempt to be polite.

    15. Bagpuss

      The @attention ladies’ wording would irritate me a little as it feels simultaneously patronising and insincere, and on a practical level, if the major problem is people flushing stuff that shouldn’t be flushed, the fact the signs don’t actually say that!

      If you’ve got suggestion boxes, I think what I would do would be to use them, and perhaps suggest a different wording which is more direct / which you prefer. I’d probably go with something like;.
      e.g.
      “Please do not flush tampons, pads, wipes or other products as this blocks the pipes.
      Please put any non-flushable waste into one of the paper bags provided, then put the paper bag into the trash containers by the sink.
      Thank you”

      If the suggestion box if large enough, maybe even make up a sample poster. It sounds as though they are just copying and using old posters, if someone gives them a new version they may be perfectly happy to use that instead, even if they are not interested in changing it themselves.

      I’m slightly surprised they are allowed to do it this way – are the trash cans by the sink normal trash cans, or dedicated ones for ‘sanitary’ waste? (I think here in the UK it would be illegal not not have proper bins, in a public building, although i don’t think it is specific requirement to have them in every stall, just that they are ‘easily accessible’)

    16. Anon and on and on

      In all my years, it has always been the practice to wrap it up and leave it in the box in the stall. Sounds like someone decided to try and change this. If I were to come upon this sign, I might comply, provided there is shelf space to hold the full bag while I continue “sanitizing” myself. And depending on how busy the restroom is.
      Unfounded stigma or not, I’m not going to announce myself by carrying a bag out of the stall with me. However, I’m also petty so if I were feeling like you are, I’d probably just start taking down the signs.

    17. LCL

      That language is really clumsy and awkward. But since the signs are just photocopies, be the change you want to see. Do something in word with a large font, print it, post it and throw away the existing signs.

    18. Paris

      I would spend some time talking to your maintenance staff and learning about their needs and the issues they are trying to address before taking this up the ladder. In all likelihood, these signs were put up by the staff to address an issue they identified. I certainly see the appeal of having to only empty one large wastebasket per restroom, and not having to pick up bags of used menstrual products from each stall. And yeah, “sanitary pad” isn’t the most affirming choice of words, but are these the people you want to have that fight with?

        1. Doodle

          Well, but why not help people who are doing are pretty unpleasant job and make it less unpleasant (or frustrating or whatever the problem is that they’re trying to solve). We see all sorts of issues raised here where one could say, “it’s not that hard” and just live with it, but why not talk with them and work it out?

        2. Xarcady

          Depending on the cleaning service, there might be one person who empties all the trash cans, and someone else who goes in and cleans the bathroom. That’s the case at one workplace I am familiar with–and they use the “bags to be put in in the main trashcan” system.

    19. RNL

      LOL our bathrooms have something similar but includes the line “janitorial staff should not have to deal with your USED products”.

      I actually should also have ours changed, as the bathroom is also used for a space we rent for meetings, etc.

    20. Mel

      Our office has a sign on the bins with something like: This is not a trash receptacle. The bags inside are provided to dispose of waste improper for flushing in the trash cans located in the bathroom.

  8. Amazing User Name

    I’m at the interview stage and have a question about references. In a previous position I was on a PIP that I was going to fail but thankfully got a new job before I was fired. If I move forward with this position and am asked for references, which I haven’t been yet, I don’t want to list my manager from that job.

    I’m in a field where it would be HIGHLY unusual to not list a manager. I have another reference from that job who I can use but what reason can I give for not providing my manager? I can guarantee that if I don’t list my manager, they will ask to be put in touch with my manager. Thanks!

    1. NowWhat??

      Could you say you are no longer in touch with that manager? This could be especially true if she has also moved on from the company. The next best thing is to offer someone who supervised part of your work on a project, even if they weren’t your direct supervisor.

    2. Emilitron

      What’s your old company’s policy on providing references? A lot of places won’t allow managers to talk about former employees (legal concerns) and the preferred method is to just provide HR’s contact info to confirm dates. Of course if HR woul dbe happy to put them in touch with your manager, well, there’s not much you can do about that.

      I’d also make sure that you say something in your interview to provide your side of the story – not belligerently, and not bashing on previous management, but mentioning in your well-thought answers to common questions like “why are you leaving” and “what have you learned”, when you say “One of my challenges was X; I improved by ABC, but ultimately I’m looking for a job more focused on Y.”

      1. Amazing User Name

        Unfortunately my former manager is still there, as is the other person I can provide, and they have no policy. Your second paragraph is really helpful, thanks!

    3. Not a Badmin anymore

      In the past, I’ve used people who are not my managers only because the manager don’t have the best understanding of the work I did (higher level in the org and had no idea of what I did day to day, I worked pretty independently). I usually used someone I worked closer with and that supervised work I did but I was not their direct report. I wasn’t pressed on why I didn’t use a manager but I think I explained in the online applications something like this person has a better understanding of the work I did/my working style etc.

  9. MadameLibrarian

    I’m a rare teapot cataloger, who also happens to have an anxiety disorder. I’ve been having a lot of anxiety about my job lately, and after talking with my therapist I’ve decided to ask my boss for feedback, just so I know. We have scheduled check-ins once a week, and unscheduled teapot review throughout the week. My plan is to bring it up at our next unscheduled review and say that with performance review season coming up (in March; I can’t wait that long with my anxiety), I just wanted to check in and see how things were going, and that I understand if he wants to wait until our scheduled check-in. I wanted to get y’all’s opinion on that plan from a professionalism POV. I’m not planning on bringing up my anxiety unless it comes up in conversation and I feel comfortable in the moment.

    1. Anon Librarian

      As a rare teapot librarian with an anxiety disorder, I wish you so much good luck. Also, rare teapot catalogers are the best!

      And this sounds perfectly professional to me. I mean, you’re asking for feedback, which is good and normal and totally an okay thing to do. One trick that helps me, from one anxiety sufferer to another, is to write down my questions ahead of time and practice saying them out loud. That way I don’t forget or get too nervous to ask and I have a visual cue of what I want to say.

    2. Binky

      I think it’s totally appropriate to ask for feedback outside of formal feedback times. And no need to mention your anxiety. The more casual you are (or pretend to be) the better.

    3. Jen RO

      I would not find it unusual if one of my reports asked me for an opinion of their performance. I would actually think it’s great that they care!

    4. fposte

      It sounds like you guys have a lot of ongoing communication, which is good! I think a scheduled check-in is probably a better time to talk about an upcoming performance review, but you might want to give your manager a heads up that you’d like to spend some time on that so she can have her thoughts pulled together. Be prepared for the possibility that you won’t get much information and understand that what information you do get isn’t likely to be binding; also be aware that with March coming up as soon as it is, this is the one time you can ask before then.

      I would be disinclined to mention your anxiety unless there was something specific you were requesting your manager do about it.

      1. MadameLibrarian

        My plan was to say something like, “I was going to wait until our scheduled check-in but since we’re meeting now, I’ll bring it up now – with performance reviews coming up, I was wondering if you had amy feedback for me. Is that something you’d like to cover during the scheduled check-in, or is now a good time?”

        Does that sound okay?

        1. School Inclusion Specialist

          Yes, and when I’ve gotten feedback that was general (like “great job in the meeting”), I pushed it a little and said “what am I doing well so I can focus in those areas” or something like that to hear positive feedback.

          My last job was super toxic which sent me into a spiral of anxiety. When starting my new job, I needed regular feedback (aka Reality Testing in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to recalibrate. So I asked my new supervisor at the end of every meeting for feedback. It was super helpful and, I think, lead to my supervisor respecting me more.

          Please have this conversation and I hope it helps!

    5. Boredatwork

      I have the same issue – my anxiety makes me feel like I’m constantly failing! At your weekly check-ins you could suggest a time to talk about opportunities for improvement or things that went well that you should continue doing. Think of this as “optimizing” your processes and “being on the same page”. My boss loves it.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      Does your manager provide positive feedback as well as criticism& places for improvement? If not, look (listen?) back through Alison’s podcasts for the ones about feedback.
      Might be worth the listen anyway…it was for me!

  10. Sluggy

    What’s the etiquette for requesting quotes? I work for a large org that does a ton of very different printed materials. In the year I’ve been here, I’ve gotten a sense of what printer does what best (ie we go to Raphael printing for something fancy but Wick printing for something quick and cheap etc.) for my dept. I also print materials for other departments and they often want me to “price shop.”

    I do it as professionally as possible but something about getting quotes for projects from printers who give us excellent service (and often nonprofit discounts) seems slightly insulting? For bigger projects it makes sense but for a $125 project it seems like an unnecessary hoop. Typing this out makes me feel a little ridiculous to be worried (it’s their job! We’re a nonprofit!) but I wonder if anyone else has experience with this, on either side.

    1. NowWhat??

      Totally normal! I’ve had to even do it with our internal print shop (I work in academia) and cross compare with other shops in town to make sure we were getting the best quote. Also it’s good to consistently do this in case their prices do increase, it’s easier to catch.

    2. CTT

      It’s so normal. I doubt they mind and are used to seeing it (a lot of places require getting quotes regardless of the cost of the proposed project).

    3. CeeDee

      If you don’t have specific procurement guidelines for anything in your company, and your hours aren’t tracked against specific billable hours to different clients, then for the sake of learning how to get quotes, I would treat all quotes the same. You want to give every vendor the same information. You are already familiar with what different vendors are capable of doing so that’s sorting method one and one of the best ways to get started. Basically you want to present the specifications of the product you’re looking for. In the case of printing (which I have no direct experience in), your looking for paper quality, color, timeliness, etc, I suppose. So you want to spell out what you’re looking for and what is most important. Are you willing to do not as nice paper because you need it quicker, or are all of the things important. Most of it can be done an emails. But in reality its no different than soliciting bids for movers, a house painter, etc.

    4. LaDeeDa

      If I read your question right, you are asking how to respond to other departments that want you to price quote? If that is right- I would put together a Preferred Vendor list, and if you have pretty standard or regular requests then I would add those with an estimated cost for that vendor. You could say something like “we have an established relationship with the attached list of vendors and their prices for standard jobs are inline or better than other vendors in the area. For jobs over $x.xx we will seek out quotes from 3 vendors.”

    5. yams

      First of all, do you have any requirements for record-keeping? Organizations tend to have some guidance about this issue specifically, regardless of your personal preference. For instance, for most projects I have to get three quotes from different suppliers in order to ensure that we get the best deal possible. I would definitely recommend to ask someone in your organization who also deals with vendor quotes how your organization likes to handle this, since you may be running afoul some audit requirements by not having a quote from a vendor.
      As for the small jobs, my advice is to develop a relationship with a couple of printers who can do small jobs so you can ask them to quote you and it won’t feel as awkward since they would know you and your organization’s requirements.
      As for the actual quote request, so long as you are formal and polite and include all the necessary information you are fine. Honestly, the most important bit is to include all the information. There are a couple of suppliers to whom I just send: “quote request #x, pls see attached, 20k/month, DAP wherever” but I have a very good working relationship with them and they know all the terms we have previously agreed to, whereas for other vendors I do go through the whole shebang. I hope I answered your question!

    6. JanetM

      At my university, in my division, we have to get a quote from our internal Graphic Arts in order to have a total price so we can submit an order request. Same with any outside vendor. I don’t recall a vendor ever refusing to provide a quote.

      I mean, for tiny things like, “we need a $5 replacement key for this cabinet,” we don’t need a formal quote. But in general we do, if the prices aren’t listed in a catalog or online.

    7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I’m a graphic designer and I do this all the time. $125 is a bit low to be getting multiple bids but it’s still good to have a few printers in each tier (low quantity quick print shop, medium-size quantity digital and/or offset presses, and special or high quantity offset shops), that way you can bid the job to a few vendors in the right category. The only “etiquette” for this would be to be sure to let the shops know when they aren’t getting the job (Hi Wick, that you for taking the time to give me an estimate. Unfortunately, another shop has a lower price and I will need to give the job to them. I value your service and will keep you in mind for future projects.) and if a shop is consistently being outbid, at some point you should stop asking them for quotes (they may actually do that for you. I’ve had printers that drop me if I never give them any work but keep asking for prices). I always keep in mind that I don’t want to rely too heavily on a specific printer in any one category because I need to maintain a network of options.

      1. CM

        +1 (also I like the advice about keeping options open in different categories — hadn’t thought of that before).

    8. Nita

      Are you bothered by the bit where you get a quote from them but, despite excellent service in the past, you don’t come back with an order (because for this particular job, another vendor is better)? I used to hate asking for quotes for this reason. Now, if I’m not sure this vendor will get the work (or that the work is even happening), I just say at the start that the request is for a cost estimate. It doesn’t create the impression that I requested a quote for something I 100% want them to do, then didn’t like their response and gave the job to someone else.

      And as others suggest, unless you’re required to get quotes every time, a list of standard rates from each vendor will let you cut down on these requests.

    9. KR

      Totally normal. It’s completely normal to want to know how much something is going to cost before pulling the trigger on buying/ordering even if you know you are going to buy the product no matter the cost (or not buy it!). Many companies use a purchase order/invoice system so quotes are needed to secure a purchase order. Also if you are not invoiced right away or it is a long-term project, it allows your accounting department to plan for the cost.

      1. Observer

        Getting a price quote from the vendor you plan to use is one thing. But price shopping is another. For larger projects, it absolutely makes sense to do it, and it is often required. But price shopping a $125 project is honetly a waste of time – and could wind up costing you money in higher prices.

        1. KR

          I guess it depends on how big your budgets are whether it makes sense to shop around for cheaper budgets. A $125 project might not seem very large or worth shopping around for, but if you’re doing 20 projects a year it might be worth it to save cash. I have extremely large budgets for my projects and I still shop around to make sure I’m getting the best price. It’s part of how we turn a profit every year.

          1. Observer

            Not if you have to price shop EACH one. You’re going to lose the low cost vendors, because the cost of pricing these projects out winds up costing more than their profit. (Been there done that.) And the time spent on this winds up being significant – and more that you are going to save.

            Here is and example of what I’m talking about. Say you have $2,500 project. You spend and extra hour price shopping. If you are lucky you save 10% on the project – and you’ve just paid for your time plus some additional money right there. You won’t get that every time, but it’s important to make sure you’re not losing significant money.

            Now, split that $2,500 into 20 $125 projects. Even with small projects you have to allocate at least 15 minutes to price shopping. That’s 5 hours. That is a LOT of time – and any organization where a $125 project is that significant is not likely to be well enough staffed that spending 5 hours of staff time to MAYBE $250 in dribs and drabs of $10-15 at a time.

    10. Observer

      If you are a non-profit you should have standard policies for what requires quotes. We, for instance require quotes for anything over $100 – regardless of who we’re buying from. Under that, we don’t do it unless required by specific regulations. It’s generally seen as not cost effective to price shop of smaller items unless it’s an area with known wide price variations.

      1. Observer

        We, for instance require quotes for anything over $100 – regardless of who we’re buying from.

        Typo there – it should be over $1,000

    11. Marie

      I have to do this all the time in my position, so here’s the script I use:

      “Hi (contact person), how are you. Thanks for the (recent project), it’s going well / looks great / everyone loved the design / etc. I have a new request from another department which I’m seeking price quotes for in order to let them make an informed decision. The details are X, Y, Z. What would be your cost to us for this? Great, thanks. I’ll let the department manager know, and I’ll get back to you if they decide to move forward with it. I look forward to speaking with you next time. Have a great day!”

      Good luck!

    12. designbot

      I’m in the built environment, but I have a similar relationship with sign fabricators. I just always put a bit of context in with any bid request. On one job that might be, this is the same client as the Highgarden job and they loved the results so we thought we’d reach out to you again. But on another job it might be, the client is the Iron Bank and they require competitive bidding so we’re sending this out to a few shops. Or, this is being bid competitively but the client is very schedule motivated so if there’s an option for a rush job please include. All of these are scenarios that’ve happened in just the last couple of months, and the fabricators take it very well and often thank me for the context. I’d imagine printers would appreciate the same.

    13. Hamburke

      My husband has broken 3 office chairs since starting working from home. He’s overweight but not by much. He was getting paranoid until one of the same chairs was broken by our 70 lb 12 year old in the same way that my husband broke the first one. I generally think that office chairs aren’t made as sturdy as they used to be – an expectation that these will be replaced every 5 years or so.

  11. Big Girls Don't Cry

    Any other overweight people get super paranoid after yesterday’s letter? I never really thought about the weight rating on chairs or the possibility that I might break one.

    1. Free for All Friday

      I did research on office chairs in the last year. For popular chairs sold in the USA, most of them have a warranty for persons weighing between 250-300 lbs, more or less.

    2. Not Maeby But Surely

      I’m obese by the clinical definition, and I had never given it any thought before either. At least, not at work – I get paranoid if I sit in a creaky old wooden chair, though. It will definitely be on my mind now, although I have to think that if my work chair was going to collapse on me it probably already would have done so.

      1. Artemesia

        My Dad came home one day banged up as his chair had snapped off dumping him on the floor. He was an average size guy, probably 170 or so. Within a week several other chairs in his division had done the same thing; apparently they all reached a metal fatigue point at about the same time. So even if a chair breaks — they break for lots of reasons.

    3. WinethetimeKat

      I got a new Job last May.and the first thing they did was give me a new chair it was way different than every other chair. I felt they were singling out the “new girl”, Eventually they all got them but for a minute. The chairs are rated to hold 400 LBS and I thought they were getting it just for me. Not feeling that way now but I am a bigger girl so….

      1. limenotapple

        I kind of love the idea of having many higher weight rated chairs just around in other places. That seems really reasonable and kind.

    4. Lola

      As an overweight individual, I always look to see if a chair looks sturdy before I sit on it. I don’t flip it over looking for a weight rating, I eyeball it. IF a single chair at work had broken with me sitting upon it, it would be the last time a chair would have broken. I do find that “modern” styled office furniture has arms that tend to cut across hips and are uncomfortable. I would have requested a larger chair if I had been assigned that as a permanent assignment.

    5. limenotapple

      Fat girl here! Broke a chair at work! I’m both fat and strong so I weigh *a lot*. I worry about it in this one really fancy room I have to go to for meetings with higher ups, but other than that, I don’t worry too much. I’ve noticed that even in Fancy Room they provide some alternative chairs and it’s not a big deal.
      I love my fat person chair. You wouldn’t know without looking closely that it is a fat person chair. It has great support. I would feel a lot worse about all of it if I were in an office that didn’t think ahead for these things or was petty in other ways that might relate to this.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m in the range where I’m only kinda testing weight limits, so not too much really. Thankfully we have very sturdy furniture as well!

    7. Catleesi

      I totally am. Though I am paranoid like 24/7 about how my weight impacts of people view me, so it’s just another great layer to throw on there. I’ve never broken a chair *crossesfingers* but I have been sitting down more carefully the past 24 hrs.

    8. JennyFair

      I weigh approximately 240 lbs. So, so many chairs are rated at 250 lbs, but I’m not just fat, I’m also hard on things. I plop into chairs, wiggle a ton, etc. So when it came time to get me a new one, I flat out told my boss I would not take a chair rated less than 300 lbs, and ended up with one rated 350, and I love it. It cost considerably more, but I sit 8 hours a day, so.

      One of my coworkers is 6’8″ tall, and that kind of height also comes with additional weight, even if one’s body is in societally-approved proportions. Heavy duty chairs are not just for us fat people.

      But it’s also important to recognize that chair failure is not likely to be catastrophic, cartoon-style launching onto the floor. It’s generally a gradual wearing down of the chair that just happens to take place more quickly than usual. And TBH, most office chairs are not suited for their users, simply due to the amount of time they are used.

      1. JediSquirrel

        “And TBH, most office chairs are not suited for their users, simply due to the amount of time they are used.”

        This. I just had to order new chairs for our office, and chairs come in “hours of use per day” ratings. Some are only rated for 3-4 hours per day, others for 6-8 hours per day. We ultimately went with some that were rated for 8 hours, and were adjustable in eight million different ways.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

      I’m constantly paranoid about this and always have been, even though it’s never happened to me. I definitely look at the weight rating of furniture before I buy it.

    10. Minnie

      The only reason I am not paranoid is because I am short AF, so my overall weight is around what the average-height thin person weighs.

    11. WS

      Yes, it’s happened (two at home, one at work, all in the catastrophic hitting the floor in a pile of demolished chair way) and…I was okay! All my padding helped! To be fair, none of these chairs went from “fine” to “collapse” in one go. All of them were showing considerable signs of their imminent demise and I ignored it.

  12. EmmaTheFirst

    (Changed my username- apparently there are two of us!)

    So, I’ve learned after 2 months in my new job that my boss is a hypercritical, micromanaging nightmare…which is sort of exactly what I was trying to escape from at my last job. She’s weirdly sneaky/subtle about it, so it took me a minute to realize. It seems pretty common for people to move around between departments at my new org, so I’m going to take a look at our internal job board this weekend and just generally keep an ear & eye out. Ugh.

    1. Doug Judy

      I’m sorry. It’s hard to feel like you escaped a bad situation only to find out youbreally didn’t. Hopefully something will come up soon!

    2. Bunny Girl

      Oh you must have gotten my old job! That sounds exactly like my old boss and situation. I transferred to a different department pretty easily, and less than a year after I took that job originally. Good luck!

      On another note, I had a meeting with the department manager after I announced I was leaving and she mentioned me possibly meeting up with the new victim, excuse me, person in my position and giving them some pointers. I agreed that I would but I think after my exit interview, they decided that the only thing I was going to do was tell the newbie to run so that never happened.

      1. EmmaTheFirst

        It’s so frustrating!! I know that I’m good at the kind of work that I do and have made a huge effort to start my new job on the right foot and be the best employee I can be. She’s just never happy with anything, and clearly doesn’t trust any of us to do our work. And she creates such a tense and stressful environment for my team (which feels doubly weird since everyone else in the office seems really friendly & relaxed).

    3. Eccentric Smurf

      That sounds exactly like my former boss. I actually stopped to wonder if Old Dept recently hired someone new because your post sounded so familiar. I love my job now that I’ve transferred to New Dept. Here’s hoping something better opens up for you soon!

    4. Slartibartfast

      Been there, done that. I couldn’t even write the @ symbol in emails properly when writing on sticky notes, apparently. Sympathies, and may the job search board be ever in your favor.

  13. Gal With Burnout

    So, here is my mon-fri routine:

    Wake up at 5am. Leave the house at 5:15. Take the bus at 5:30. Nap fitfully until 7 and get off the bus at 7:05. Take a corporate van to work, where I clock in at around 7:25am. Work until 4:50pm, take the corporate van to the bus stop, enter the bus at 5:20, take another terrible nap until 7pm, arrive home at 7:30 or so. Eat, shower, do chores, play videogames or watch series with my parents for an hour or less. Go to bed at 10pm, fall asleep at around 11. Rinse and repeat. In case you weren’t keeping count that’s more or less four and a half hours of commute every day; sometimes I might even spend an extra 30 ~ 90 minutes on my way home because of traffic, and if I miss the 5:20pm bus I have to take next one at 6:15pm, which means I’m home even later, at around 9pm ~ 9:30pm.

    The city where my company is located is expensive. Moving closer to work unfortunately is not an option; I do not want to share an apartment with a complete stranger for reasons I’d rather not get into, none of my friends are in the lookout for a roommate, and my salary would have to be at least doubled for me to afford rent and bills for an apartment at a decent part of town – being a 5’2” woman in my mid 20s in a not very safe country means I have to be at least somewhat picky about where I live. The corporate center where our office is located is in the middle of nowhere. The corporate van can take you to a nearby shopping mall, but you’re more or less on your own to return, which can take a very long time because of lunch hour traffic (last time I tried it took me 30 minutes via Uber, and Google Maps says it would take me an hour plus two bus lines via public transportation). The only form of entertainment on foot is a high-end shopping center that’s adjacent to our corporate center – think shops like Cartier, Prada, Tiffany’s, Dior, Fendi, among others. It is a rather pretty shopping center, but after a while it gets a bit annoying to window shop 29k watches and 35k sequin dresses while being silently judged by the rich people that are actually there to shop.

    TL;DR: I’m tired. I arrive at work every day exhausted, wishing I was at home doing literally anything else. My job is unfulfilling and boring because I never learn anything new. I’ve spoken to my boss and my HR manager about changing roles, since my company is a Fortune 500 and thus they have opportunities abound, and they’ve both agreed to help me find something more fulfilling, but this is something that might not happen soon. I’ve taken several online training courses in the past to maybe someday become a supervisor or team leader, but it has led me nowhere so far. The leadership training courses my company has available are only for people who already are managers or directors. My commute at my old job was somewhat similar, but it had a lot of perks I don’t have here: several shops, restaurants, mini markets and parks that I could get to on foot, bus stops with plenty of bus lines, work trips so I could do some networking with colleagues from other offices and get one-on-one training sessions with them, flexible hours, and the possibility to work from home from time to time. I have none of that here. I sometimes miss my old job, but the truth is that, despite the perks, the job itself was also very unfulfilling, and there was a big possibility of that office being shut down soon. I left after my old company didn’t manage to transfer me to a different office.

    Anyway, I’m ranting. I believe I’m burned out and worried I might be falling into depression again, because sometimes I find myself wishing I could fall ill for a month or so just so that I can have some time off, but whenever I have any sort of time off the less and less I want to return to work. I’m so demotivated I know I’m not doing my best or working as hard as I could, which is just making me feel even worse overall. It’s a vicious cycle and a downwards spiral and I don’t know what to do. If anyone has any suggestions I’d truly appreciate it.

    1. Pinky Pie

      Sounds very familiar to me. Get up at 5:15, leave house at 5:30, drive until 7:05 when I got breakfast, get to work by 7:20, work a full day, go home, get kids, get them fed, deal with them, go to bed at 10:30.

      What helped was finding another job. This grind is a recipe for depression.

      1. Muriel Heslop

        I second finding a new job. I did a similar schedule for almost 3 years and it’s just not a sustainable lifestyle…because it’s not a life. It’s work + work-related travel and recovery. I really hope your company can find you something in a safer place or with a less brutal commute. Or you could find something closer to home.

        1. Gal With Burnout

          I’ve been in this lifestyle since I was eighteen, and I’m 26 now :’) it is super exhausting, but it’s also the reality of hundreds of thousands of people who live in this area. I’ve thought of finding a new job, but all of the good jobs and the great companies are situated in the city where I currently work – and I’ve been in this role for less than a year and I’m afraid to look like a job hopper. The job market in my home city is terrible; I’d have to cut my salary in half, maybe more, if I took something closer to home, and it surely wouldn’t be in a company as good as the ones I’ve worked for so far.

          My hopes is to be relocated to a different city where either housing is cheaper or the salary is better (or both), so I’m trying to stay sane while I wait (pray) for that to happen.

          1. Coder von Frankenstein

            Can your bosses give you some kind of indication of how likely that is to happen? Do they seem to do a good job at keeping these sorts of promises with other people? I would only wait for the transfer if you are very confident that a) your bosses can deliver, b) they will deliver, and c) they will do so in a reasonable amount of time. If you lack confidence in any of those, you’re better off looking for a new job.

            As to job-hopping, remember what Alison always says: A pattern of short-term stays is bad, a single one is okay. A 2-hour commute is brutal and any interviewer would understand.

            If all the good jobs are in Faraway City, then you could put a priority on looking for one where the commute resembles OldJob: Lots of stuff to do and see on the commute, occasional telecommuting allowed, etc. And do keep an eye out for opportunities in your home town as well. There may not be *many* good jobs in your home town, but that doesn’t mean there are *none*.

    2. WellRed

      If you were able to find a more fulfilling role would that mean a better location or would you still have the commute? Because the best job in the world won’t help that commute and that schedule.

    3. CupcakeCounter

      Have you looked around for other jobs? Is there a place you would like to live that is more cost effective?
      Basically its time for a new job because that doesn’t sound sustainable long-term.

    4. Aleta

      I don’t have any advice, but I’m in a similar boat. My commute is more 6am-6pm, so a little better than yours, and it’s rouuuuughh. I’m a year in and been feeling it a lot this week in particular. Mine is an obviously dead-end receptionist job, which I’m not opposed to in and of itself (I’m allowed to entertain myself during downtime and am perfectly comfortable doing so), but coupled with the long commute and so lack of free time to do things that can’t be done at my desk during work hours (video games! drawing!) it’s rough. To top it off I’m fairly certain I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and I want to go back to a second shift schedule so badly.

      It’s only gotten to “ok this might actually be unbearable” this week, so I’m not sure what I’m gong to do yet. But I super feel you!

    5. Minerva McGonagall

      Is your work something you could do from home and telecommute? Even a few days a week that may help alleviate your stress.

      1. Gal With Burnout

        Unfortunately not. I’m a local IT support analyst, so I have to be in the office to do my work. That was the cool thing about my old job; I was also a support analyst, but all my support was via e-mail and my company’s portals were all external, so occasionally I would take my computer home and work just the same as I would in the office.

        1. Jules the 3rd

          This is awful, and you have my deepest sympathy.

          Is there any way that work could set you up with a texting interface you could access on a phone, where you could triage issues on the bus and get to work 8 or 8:30ish, counting some bus time as work? If only as a way to get more sleep – 11 – 5 often isn’t enough.

          Also, what would you do if you had free time – hang with a friend, learn a skill, play a hobby? Is there any way to work those in to the existing schedule? Eg, could a friend ride the bus with you 1 night / month, maybe stay overnight? Can you schedule some kind of ‘I’ll call you Wednesdays at 6:30’? Social time can help.

          This does suck. Good luck…

    6. Yikes!

      Something’s going to have to give. The commute is unsustainable. So you will either have to find a job closer to where you live, ask to work from home a few days a week to lessen the commute, deal with whatever issues you have with an “unknown” roommate and get an “unknown” roommate, or hope that one of your friends will need a roommate soon. Is this current commute better than living with someone you don’t know? As in, hypothetically, let’s take any other option off the table, your only options were to keep your current commute and live where you currently do OR move closer to work, have a much shorter commute and live with a stranger. Which would you choose?

      Also, would having your own car and driving yourself to work shorten the commute at all?

      1. Gal With Burnout

        If dealing with issues was easy, trust me, I would’ve done that already. At the moment I’d rather keep my commute and stay where I am rather than live with a complete stranger. And unfortunately not only do I not own a car (in my country it’s crazy expensive to buy and keep a car) I also don’t have a driver’s license, but even if I did, driving back home would save me maybe a total of thirty minutes each way. Maybe.

        1. Doodle

          Could you look for a job in a cheaper city that is not part of the company you currently work for? That is, relocate. Not an immediate solution, but then, neither is waiting for your current employer to relocate you or give you a better job.

    7. agmat

      That sounds rough. Personally I think you should look for another job soon if it doesn’t seem they are going to support your growth. You’ll burn out a lot more quickly if you don’t like your job AND your commute.

      In the meantime, to make the commute more manageable I highly recommend learning knitting or crocheting. Knitting has been a life saver for me and helps me feel productive when I’m feeling down.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

        I second the use-commuting-time-to-recharge-the-soul thing. Even if sometimes you need to sleep. Knitting, reading, audiobooks …
        And then some slow but steady networking so that you can build the relationships that help you meet people who become not-strangers that maybe you could live with at some point. Or who might have leads on a new job.
        Nothing’s impossible if you can make incremental change toward your goal.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood

        Thirded…I had a friend who spent 90 minutes one way on commuter rail. He *hand-sewed* a replica 14th century linen “Greenland gown”, complete with a couple of dozen linen buttons.
        I hand-hemmed hslf of a full-circle cloak before moving and losing the commute…

    8. Cowgirlinhiding

      It is possible to use your commute time for something productive? May listen to books or if light permitted, read a book, sew, crochet, watch movies on smart phone, learn a new language, anything else that can keep your mind going while you are traveling.
      Your job sounds very unfulfilling and you should continue to push for a change within the org. Challenge yourself to pick up new things, be the first to volunteer for extra projects to change things up a bit.
      If physically you start to feel depressed, it is good to get a health check and make sure that it isn’t the job but a health issue. Good luck, hang in there, at least you don’t have to be the driver.

    9. Being PushedOut

      Oh, I had the same thing before, traffic was terrible where I was from. I quit my job and stayed at home for about a year & a half, but I guess missed working & commuting lol so I got another job that’s 30 minutes less travel-but still terrible.
      I feel like there’s no solution, it is what is. You just get used to it.
      Until we moved to a different continent altogether and the commute time was way better. But I liked working back home still, the work itself and my officemates. Here, I’m looking for a different job now, the culture here cares less I guess…

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Unless you’re truly in love with your job, this sounds unsustainable and miserable! And you’re only getting 5hrs of sleep a night, you’re young, that may change for you in a few years. It did for me!

      I would focus on changing jobs if you cannot move. I’ll never live with strangers either and I’m a giant with no fears, just high standards.

  14. What’s with Today, today?

    I’m two weeks into my promotion and in the past week between the three stations, I’ve covered some rough stuff.

    Two high school students died in a car accident & two other teens in the vehicle are still in critical condition. It was a single single vehicle accident and I got to the scene too early and I saw too much. During the school sanctioned prayer vigil, our beloved football coach texted his team that he’d taken a new job. The news broke as all the kids were all leaving the vigil. I’m salty about the timing. In my head I know those things happen. In my heart I think he could have asked the other school board to call a special meeting a few days later so he could have at least attended the vigil(hiring like that get pushed back. It happens, I’ve seen it more than once in my 17 years). Instead, he was getting pics snapped with his new board.

    A well loved math teacher at another school district we cover was killed in a separate car wreck.

    A young, drug addicted mother has gone missing in the woods near a swollen, flooded river. She called 9-1-1 more last Thursday and said she was being chased, she was disoriented. Her phone died. It’s been a week. They found her car, wrecked. No activity on her credit or debit cards, they’ve used sonar to search the pond and river, they got warrants for her phone records & her Facebook account. No trace of her. It’s cold at night. Where is she? They are searching like crazy. I mention the addiction because they feel like her disappearance is drug related and are questioning some of the folks she ran with.

    A deputies home burned down. He’s a single dad. They lost everything.

    It’s not really about me, but it always takes a toll and I need to get it out. I’m complaining to y’all because I’m being selfish. It’s not about me, but I’m so tired. It’s been all bad all week.

    I’m sorry for the selfish post.

    In funnier news, our sheriff reports a feud between a mother and her daughter in law resulted in the son’s Tahoe being absolutely smashed to pieces by frozen deer roasts. They were in the deep freeze near the car, so I assume that was the closest weapon of destruction. Every window busted out by blackstrap and deer roast.

    Also, an adult son went to drive while intoxicated so his dad jumped on top of the car’s hood to stop him. Son didn’t stop. Police were called and a slow speed chase ensued. Daddy hung onto the hood, wearing only underwear, during the entire ordeal. It was about 20 degrees out. When they got the son to stop finally, daddy reported he’d “about froze my pecker off.”

    All in a week’s work.

    1. Lily Rowan

      Wow, that is a lot! And secondary trauma is a real thing, so don’t feel like you’re being selfish — this stuff affects you, too.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis

        +1 on the secondary trauma thing. Make sure you get the appropriate support. “…got to the scene too early and I saw too much” is a worrying phrase.

    2. TeapotDetective

      Holy cannoli, what a week! I’m sorry you’re dealing with that – it’s a lot to handle, even if the majority of it is at one remove. I hope things even out and get a little less emotional soon.
      And the idea of someone using deer roasts to bust up a car is pulling up some pretty entertaining mental images.

    3. wingmaster

      I’m so sorry you’re going through all of that! Not a selfish post at all. I hope things calm down soon.

    4. Ama

      I worked for a mental health therapist for a year — even though I wasn’t directly involved in the therapy sessions there were days when the admin I had to do was more urgent (for example, if we were helping arrange a voluntary hospitalization), and also days when patients who were upset about something in their personal lives lashed out at me or one of the therapists within my hearing. It’s hard to work around that much emotional pain even if you know it doesn’t really have anything to do with you, and it seems like your community is going through a lot right now.

    5. Miss Fisher

      That is a lot for any town I would think.

      I love your user name, Empire Records is so quotable.

      Also, it amazes me that some MILs are so nasty. Buzzfeed did 3 articles recently on that alone and it was always the Husband’s mother who was being nasty. I wonder why that is.

    6. Nita

      I’m sorry, what a rough week…

      And good for Underwear Dad, that’s some serious commitment to not letting his son drive drunk! Glad no one got hurt.

    7. Joielle

      Hey, you’re doing the right thing – comfort in, dump out (you probably know about the ring theory of venting, but if not, definitely google it!). This is the perfect place to talk about all this since we’re not involved at all. As others have already said, secondary trauma is a thing and you need and deserve support too.

      1. What's with Today, today?

        Hiking is my thing, and I’m 15 minutes away from hitting a nice, long and quiet trail.

    8. What's with Today, today?

      And oh my, all those typos! I wrote this pre-coffee early this morning and saved it with the intent to post. I didn’t proofread.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Typos don’t count here, no one cares. Your post is very readable anyway.

        I’m sorry about all the crap going on. My good boss has a wildly understated expression: “Life is hard, NSNR.” Yep, Boss. It sure is.

        We have to deliberately look for the good stuff. The bad stuff just happens on its own.

      1. JediSquirrel

        “The dad in the last story is the dad we need, but not the one we deserve”

        If Malcolm in the Middle had ever gone on to cover the kids in college and beyond, I can see Bryan Cranston doing this with Reese behind the wheel.

        For some odd reason, “middle aged guy in underwear” always translates to Bryan Cranston in my mind.

    9. Best cat in the world

      Not a selfish post at all. I know exactly what it’s like to be overloading because of other people’s tragedies. I have stood and fought back tears watching devastated families cry because there is nothing more we can do. It’s not my tragedy but being involved or even on the periphery is enough. Please take care of yourself as well.

    10. Midwest writer

      Oh man, I have been there, at the crash scenes too early, at the fires, at the other tragedies over the years. Plus then comes the need to interview the surviving family members. I hope you get some time to decompress and process everything this weekend. I’m sending vibes for a quiet couple of weeks moving ahead. It’s so hard and it’s definitely not something anyone ever tells you about before you go into the news industry.

      1. Not So NewReader

        My husband used to be an insurance adjuster. He said, “You’d rush like hell to get there and pray all the way that you were the last person to arrive.” Some jobs don’t pay in what they take out of a person.

    11. Pinky Pie

      I think learning to separate yourself from the trama is a hard skill to learn but so important to long term survival. I heard things in my former profession that made it become my former profession.

    12. Observer

      Nothing selfish about this post. You DO need to unload it, and this is the best place – you’re venting OUT not in.

      I’m glad too see that you can still see humor. That helps.

  15. Susan K

    Last week, Wakeen, the lowest-performing teapot maker in the department, was scheduled to work Monday through Wednesday. Normally when he works these days, his schedule overlaps with that of Jane, the top teapot maker who always does far more than her share of the workload, and two other teapot makers, Carrie and Mike. This time, though, Jane was on vacation.

    All day Monday, Wakeen complained about how much extra work he had to do since Jane was on vacation. He scheduled his annual physical for Tuesday morning, which took about 3 hours. When he got back from his physical, he looked around to see what Carrie and Mike had done while he was gone. It was obvious that he had expected Carrie and Mike to do all of his assignments before he returned, and he was angry that they hadn’t (because they already had an increased workload due to Jane’s absence). He stormed out and then called his manager and said he was going home sick because he was vomiting. He also called in sick on Wednesday.

    I suppose it’s possible that Wakeen coincidentally fell ill right after he discovered that he was actually going to have to do the work he was assigned instead of spending all afternoon on Facebook as he normally does, but… unlikely. Mike and Carrie really got screwed over because they were already short by one person, so Wakeen’s absence meant they had to do all the work with half the people.

    Management doesn’t usually question people about sick days, and they normally only require a doctor’s note for people who are out sick for over a week, but it seems to me that Wakeen was pretty blatantly faking, and I think he should have been subject to extra scrutiny in this instance. So, what do you think Wakeen’s manager should have done?

    1. LQ

      If Wakeen’s work is measurable then Wakeen’s boss should be holding him to a level regardless of sick. Here’s the thing. He’s already wrong if he’s not doing the amount of work he should be doing.

      1. designbot

        ^^ This. Wakeen calling out sick is just a symptom of the bigger problem, which is that the company is letting him freeload. If I were Wakeen’s manager, I’d actually address that free and clear from the sickness, for example by mixing up the schedules and not giving him so many opportunities to rely on Jane. Keep track of the numbers—if his load only gets done when Jane is present, that’s worth asking about. It’s also worth having a conversation with Jane where you say that it’s come to your attention she may be pulling some extra weight and is there anything she’d like to talk to you about.

        1. RAM

          I wouldn’t just hint at it, I would outright have the conversation with Jane (and Carrie and Mike and anyone else on his shifts) that they are NOT to do any of Wakeen’s work anymore, or that they inform you of everything they did that wasn’t directly assigned to them.

    2. awaiting the snow

      What’s your relationship to them? If your workload was messed up by this, it might be worth bringing up with your manager in case it makes you look bad (like, you are later on in the teapot chain and got fewer widgets done because of problems up the chain, or you’re in quality testing and a lot of them were testing as failures). If you’re Wakeen’s manager, you need to tell him to knock this off.

      If you’re a bystander, just be sympathetic to Jane, Carrie, and Mike.

      1. Susan K

        I’m pretty much just a bystander. I’m a teapot analyst, so my work is related to the teapot makers’, but they completed all the work that affects mine, so it wasn’t an issue for me. I’m not planning to do anything, but I have been mulling over what Wakeen’s manager should have done.

        1. learnedthehardway

          Hmmm… as a teapot analyst, do you have any opportunity to do an analysis of the various workloads performed by Wakeen, Jane, Carrie & Mike? Probably wishful thinking, but my spouse just completed a study like this of his department, which allowed him to point out to TPTB that he was totally right to have fired one of his lowest performing staff people.

          1. Susan K

            Funny you should ask, because I recently offered to do this. It is extremely easy to set up a report for this in the tracking software we use if you know how to do it, and I know how to do it (actually, I have already set it up and can run a report for any time period on demand). When I suggested it, my grand-boss (who is also Wakeen’s grand-boss) looked HORRIFIED that I would even think of something that is such a micromanaging invasion of privacy. Apparently, management thinks productivity stats for their own department are none of their business.

            I will say, though, that they don’t need an analysis to know that Wakeen is the lowest-performing teapot maker. They already know this and gave him such a bad rating that he got no raise two consecutive years. There have been many complaints about his poor work ethic, and management claims that they are addressing it but can’t divulge any details due to privacy.

      1. Lola

        Actually, the manager should have handled the entire department prior to this incident. If his weekly output is so dependent on one person, then there should be some safeguards in place when people are absent.

        1. Ama

          Yes, and having been the Jane in this kind of situation before, I would add that if she thinks management will never do anything about the uneven workload she’ll probably be gone soon.

          1. awaiting the snow

            Yeah, Jane is doing the work of two people in exchange for one person’s salary. Don’t assume Jane will be sticking around long term in that situation.

      2. Marthooh

        Yeah, the (probably) fake sick day is beside the point. Having the boss scrutinize this particular incident won’t get to the actual problem, which is that Wakeen underperforms and his boss lets him.

    3. pony tailed wonder

      I think the sick time thing is a red herring. He has x amount of sick days (I am assuming) to use when he is sick and only he and his medical team know what his health is like. I wouldn’t play the pretend you are a doctor game with anyone at work. And realize that some people don’t react well to stress and that situation may have stressed him out and affected his health. Perhaps his manager knows his limits and is working with him. You just don’t know what the manager and Wakeen have worked out between themselves.

      1. Susan K

        So you think it’s ok to use sick days to fake illness because it is a day with a larger than normal workload and you don’t want to do it, and as a result, stick already overloaded coworkers with even more work?

        I’m not saying I know for sure whether this is or isn’t what happened. I realize there is a chance he was telling the truth and he actually was sick, but to everyone who was there when this happened, it appeared very obvious that he was faking because he didn’t want to do a heavy workload. This is also very consistent with the type of person he has shown himself to be during his time in the job.

        1. pony tailed wonder

          It is not a good look to be second guessing anyone’s illness. You don’t know for certain what is going on.

          You all have the same amount of sick days I am assuming. If he wastes his on real or fake sickness, it isn’t your concern.

          My fiance has a disability that isn’t obvious when you first meet him but if you saw the amount of medications he has to take to get out and about and how often he has to go to the doctor, you would be astonished. The rude questions he gets from strangers who see him getting the disabled seating and parking spots is mind boggling.

          Bottom line, unless you are that person or on his medical team, you don’t know what his health state is. Commenting on it with rude snarky remarks makes you look bad. People are going to wonder what you say about them behind their backs as well. It’s better to not say anything at all about why he isn’t there. His illness (real or fake) isn’t your business.

          1. Susan K

            Well, if I were asking from Wakeen’s perspective, what would you think?

            The lady who usually does most of my work for me while I spend half the day on Facebook is on vacation this week, so I am actually expected to do a full workload this week and it sucks! I scheduled my annual physical today, thinking that my other coworkers would do my assignments for me by the time I got back, but they didn’t. Is it cool for me to pretend I’m sick so I don’t have to do the work I was assigned to do and somebody else has to do it instead?

            1. Traffic_Spiral

              Obviously he shouldn’t be faking sick to get out of work, but since you have no way of knowing or proving it, there’s not much you can do about it.

            2. WKD

              Alternative version: “I recently took a morning off to have my annual physical. Unfortunately I got some bad news at that appointment. I went back to work after but I felt terrible and had to go home sick. Now there’s this person at work who claims I was faking it and keeps accusing me of trying to avoid doing my work. They’re not my manager and my absence didn’t affect their work at all. They’re just a nosy, interfering pain in the behind. My manager knows the truth about my medical situation, but I don’t want to have to broadcast it to everyone to get this jerk to leave me alone. What should I do? ”

              The thing is, you’re making a hell of a lot of assumptions from a biased perspective here. I think you’ve gotten yourself focused on this one thing and are massively overthinking it. If it affected your productivity you’d have cause to be concerned. As it is, you just seem to dislike Wakeen and are determined to look at this from the worst possible angle. That makes you look bad too.

              Regardless of whether or not he was faking, the actual issue is poor management here. Don’t waste your time being angry with Wakeen. It’s not helpful or productive.

              1. Susan K

                Uh, wow, that’s pretty harsh. You do realize (or maybe you don’t?) that I haven’t done or said anything and I don’t intend to because I’m not Wakeen’s manager and I have no authority to do anything, right? And at this point, it’s too late for Wakeen’s manager to demand a doctor’s note or make Wakeen go to the company doctor, anyway. I am simply asking as a hypothetical what Wakeen’s manager should have done in a situation where he had reason to suspect that Wakeen was misusing his sick leave in a way that had a negative effect on the rest of the department.

                The comment to which you replied was a question of whether it’s right or wrong to fake sick in order to get out of something you don’t want to do and thus add to the workload of your honest coworkers. Nobody but Wakeen will ever be sure whether this is or isn’t what happened, but HYPOTHETICALLY, if this is what happened, would it be ok?

                I am not the only nosy, interfering pain in the behind who believes that Wakeen was faking it. All of teapot makers believe this is what happened, and I have heard a lot of discussion about it, including speculation that the previous manager wouldn’t have allowed him to get away with it and would have given Wakeen an unpaid suspension for misuse of sick leave. When you work with someone long enough, you get to know him pretty well. The teapot makers are a pretty tight-knit group who know a lot of personal things about one another. They know what kind of person Wakeen is and based on their experience with him, they think this is something he would do. (Also, it’s unlikely he got bad news at his physical, because he passed.)

                And I normally give people the benefit of the doubt about a lot of things, but when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. Let’s say a diamond-encrusted teapot went missing, and later that day, someone sees a diamond-encrusted teapot sticking out of Lucinda’s purse. We can come up with a story that Lucinda coicidentally stopped at the store on her way to work and purchased a diamond-encrusted teapot, for which she had been saving up all her money for months, as a birthday gift for her dying mother whose last wish was to own a diamond-encrusted teapot, the same day the one from her own workplace went missing. But her manager is probably going to want to see the receipt, right?

          1. Susan K

            That’s true — if he were the kind of person who steps up to the plate when there’s a lot of work to do, faking sick to get out of doing work would be inconsistent with past behavior and I’d be much more likely to believe him.

            One time, Jane called in sick because she was vomiting. The other person who normally would have been working that shift was on vacation that week. This is a position that is required to be staffed by a certified teapot maker 24/7, so management desperately tried to find a replacement but couldn’t reach anyone. Jane drove all the way to work (stopping to vomit on the side of the road a couple of times). The manager saw her in the parking lot and said, “Oh, sorry, forgot to tell you we found someone to cover the shift after all.” If it were Jane who said she was vomiting and had to go home sick last Tuesday, darn right I would believe her.

            1. valentine

              Wakeen was truly sick at the thought of having to work, though I don’t see why he would have to. Had he stayed and adhered to his SOP, would his supervisor have taken him to task?

              Jane being a martyr isn’t good. Driving while nauseated can be reckless and she can advocate herself at any time. Do you know her well enough to suggest it or to ask if she wants you to push for the report?

              1. Susan K

                I don’t think it was a good idea for Jane to drive in that condition, and definitely not to be at work in that condition (and I think that’s why the manager didn’t tell her that he found someone to cover the shift after all — he probably assumed it didn’t matter because there was no way she was coming in regardless), but my point is that I know she is not the kind of person to fake sick. If she says she’s too sick to work, I don’t think for a second that she’s lying to get out of working hard because that’s not who she is.

                I basically used to Jane, when I was a teapot maker. The other teapot makers would blow off their work because they knew I would bust my butt to get everything done on time. It’s a big part of the reason I applied for my current position of teapot analyst — I was seriously burned out from carrying so much of the teapot making workload (even more than Jane, which I know because that was why I set up the reports in the first place). I have also been in the position of having an unusually heavy workload because there was extra work and/or someone was on vacation, and then someone would call in sick in addition. I am 100% in favor of people staying home when they’re actually sick, but there are definitely people who have a pattern to their sick days and it’s too much to be a coincidence. That’s why what Wakeen did bothers me so much, and I think the manager should have done something about it.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          He can claim a mental health day in the end. Is he gaming the system? Yes. Can you really gun for this incident, no. He needs to be fired for bad performance and attitude. Sick days aside.

          Signed HR, we don’t investigate sick days. You use them as you will, even if it’s to pick your wedgies all day long.

          1. Susan K

            At many companies, including this one, sick days are not the same as vacation days, and we can’t use sick days at will to pick wedgies. Sick days are only allowed for specific reasons: (1) you are too sick to work; (2) you have a contagious illness; (3) you have to care for an ill family member; (4) you have a medical appointment. For the most part, sick days are not investigated, but under some circumstances, they are. Anyone who is out sick for more than a week must provide a doctor’s note and be cleared to return to work by the company doctor, and managers can require doctor’s notes at their discretion in other circumstances.

            We have a fairly generous amount of sick leave with unlimited accrual and most people don’t use it all. If it were considered acceptable to use it to go home “sick” to get out of an assignment we don’t like, we would have huge problems. Carrie and Mike were pretty stressed out that day, too — even moreso after Wakeen bailed — and I’m sure they would have liked to go home “sick” to get out of it. It’s a good thing they are more honest than Wakeen and showed up anyway.

            (BTW, this is a shift work job with work that must be done every day, so when Wakeen left Tuesday and called in sick Wednesday, Carrie and Mike and the nightshift teapot maker had to absorb the extra work. It’s not the kind of job where Wakeen will still have to do the work when he gets back.)

    4. Not So NewReader

      Unless the manager has been working on things right along there is not enough here in one instance to do much of anything. The manager could chat about, “Gee, we really needed you this week.” Personally, I would have picked up on the assumption that the other two should have done his work for him and he yelled at them? That’s a huge no-no.
      I think that all the boss can do is look at productivity levels. And quietly keep track what happens the next time a person is on vacation.

      I do know that one place I worked we had all worked there a while. It was a small crew, let’s say there were 5 of us plus Boss. So six people. On average each person had 4 weeks vacation each year. That meant that 24 weeks out of the year we were down a person, yep, almost half a year. So the boss may have a two part problem. There may not be enough coverage to begin with and people are accruing more and more vacation time. This will force the boss’ hand. She will have to deal with it at some point.

    5. JediSquirrel

      “spending all afternoon on Facebook as he normally does”

      Do you—or more importantly, does management—have a record of this? (i.e., internet access logs?). Because if this is how he spends his afternoons, this is a pattern of behavior that needs to be addressed before anything else. What is goal/quota for teapots/day? Is he meeting that metric? If not, why not? What steps have been taken with regard to that?

      These problems with Wakeen seem to have started long before last week.

      1. Susan K

        Oh yeah, they have a record of his internet access. Management regularly gets internet access logs of everyone in the department, including what sites are visited, time spent on each site including time the window is active vs. in the background, and number of clicks on each site (I guess they consider this less private than productivity stats?). They mentioned that someone (they didn’t name names but we’re all fairly sure it’s Wakeen) spends more than 50% of his hours on the clock surfing the web on non-work-related sites, but they say they can’t take away his internet access because then they’d have to take everyone’s internet access and sometimes we have work-related reasons to use the internet. There are goals and quotas for each day, but not really for individual teapot makers — just for the department — so if Jane makes extra teapots to compensate for the ones Wakeen blows off, management doesn’t care because all the teapots we need are getting made.

        It is very true that the problems with Wakeen go much deeper than this one incident. Wakeen has received poor performance reviews, so management is well aware that he is a problem employee, and they claim they are doing something about it but they can’t say what because it’s private. I was interested in thoughts on this particular incident because I think there are some gray areas. In most cases, the general consensus is that the employer should not question the employee’s use of sick leave, but what about a case where there is good reason to believe that the employee is using sick leave fraudulently? And I think what he did was worse than just faking sick because he didn’t feel like going to work that day; it appears that he deliberately picked the time he was needed the most, and when his absence would cause the most harm, to fake sick. If the manager were to do something, what should he have done? Make Wakeen report to the company doctor for evaluation prior to going home? Make Wakeen provide a doctor’s note? Question him about whether he was really sick? What should the consequences be if Wakeen were caught faking sick? Where I work, general poor performance is usually tolerated but dishonesty can get you fired.

        1. Ann O.

          It’s really hard to answer your questions because it seems clear that the real issue is Wakeen needs to be fired and replaced. Everything else is a bandaid. But we don’t have access to the information that would let us know how feasible this is. Wakeen may do just enough for management to feel the situation is preferable to going through a hiring process. In that case, I’m not sure why they’d want to investigate the faking sick issue because what difference does it really make? They have zero reason to believe they can count on Wakeen and every reason to know they can’t.

          My question is really what keeps the other team members from becoming less productive. If I were in their shoes, I think I would start sinking closer to the lowest common denominator.

        2. Coder von Frankenstein

          Second-guessing people’s sick leave is just a bad idea, period. I am trying to come up with an exception and failing. Wakeen’s case is not an exception.

          I get that you’re mad at the guy, with reason,
          and management is being slower than you’d like about dealing with him. That doesn’t change anything, though. Accusing people of faking sick leave is a fast ticket to Bad Boss Town (or, for non-bosses, Problem Co-worker Village).

  16. Applesauced

    Question about internal application/long distance job hunting:

    I’m applying to a position within my company but in a different office halfway across the country.
    I am highlighting my work at my Office A, referencing my interest in the work Office B focuses on, my interest in City B, and signing off with something like “I’m happy to speak more, X is the best way to contact me”
    Should I mention an in-person meeting? If so, how should I phrase that? “I’m happy to come to City B and meet in person if you prefer” sounds like I’ll foot the bill (which I CAN do, but don’t WANT to), but would that be the case for an internal applicant?

    Also – has anyone had luck negotiating a relocation package for transfer that you initiated? (I can’t think a way to phrase that doesn’t scream “I’d like to move to city B and want YOU to pay for it”)

    1. NowWhat??

      If you’re looking to relocate to that city anyways, I would mention it in the cover letter! “I’ve always wanted to live in City B due to culture/closer to family/etc.” I don’t think you need to mention an in-person meeting in the cover letter; most of the time that’s a given that it will eventually happen.

      As for relocation… I have not run into this myself but I feel like relocation packages are only offered when you’re specifically recruited to the position, your company transfers you (and it wasn’t your idea) or you are far and beyond a top candidate. That being said, you may be able to ask for a non-monetary compensation package, such as a start date further out or the ability to take time off in the beginning to get your new home set up.

      1. Dreamer

        In my old company, relocation is included in any company relocation so it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

      2. Doodle

        Depends. I got relocation money when I got a term-limited academic job, while my spouse got nothing for a tenure-track job. Nearby institutions (private institution with astonishingly deep pockets vs. public university). We moved both of us on my relo money.

    2. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

      I worked for a global marketing firm that was, let’s say, stingy about relocation…However, when one woman applied for a job in London (moving from NYC), they covered her interview travel and relocation because it was an open position and a team on that side of the pond wanted her to join them. If it’s an actual open position (versus you asking for a transfer so you can do your current job, just somewhere else), then mention that you’re happy to meet in person. If they want to interview you, just ask about booking travel like it’s natural for them to cover the cost. “I look forward to the interview. Should I work with someone on your end to book the travel or how should I code it in my expense report?”

      As for relocation, it depends on the job. If they would offer it to an external candidate, then absolutely you can and should request. Use a script similar to above after you get the offer.

  17. NowWhat??

    Thanks to a lot of advice from Alison and the rest of this community, I have recently scored a promotion and a transfer to a new team in my office!

    I’m being moved to a different part of my floor and my cubicle will be double in size and next to a window, which has inspired me to really decorate it (so many people are in my current cubicle daily due to the nature of my work and the desk location, that I haven’t really personalized it over the years). Besides photos, plants, and some sassy new mugs, what do you all recommend as some of your favorite personal items to have at your desk?

    1. TeapotDetective

      Congrats on the promotion!!
      My current desk is about 80% functional and 20% personal, but my pen collection is probably my favorite part – a nice fountain pen, one that was a gift from a friend, one with a lyric from my favorite song engraved on the barrel, and one cute one shaped like a cactus that I got in Secret Santa. All of them make me smile a bit when I use them, and it’s a fun conversation starter if someone notices that they’re not just ‘normal’ pens.
      One of my coworkers has a nifty little silver kinetic sculpture that’s about a foot high. It’s not distracting and doesn’t make any noise, but it’s such a cool touch.

    2. No Tribble At All

      Congrats on the promotion!

      I have coasters, so I stop spilling tea all over my desk, and framed pictures of my cats (substitute your favorite pet / human).

    3. Minerva McGonagall

      Congrats on your promotion!! I got a big corkboard to promote materials to students and I’ve been using enamel pins to pin everything to it-there’s tons on Amazon. You could get some that reflect your favorite movies/books/food/anything and use that to pin up postcards/photos.

      I have a couple FunkoPops on my bookshelf and I occasionally switch them out. On my wall I have a NatGeo calendar featuring somewhere I want to go (this year is England).

    4. Notthemomma

      Fabric to cover some of the standard cube fabric- just turn bac and use straight pins, no need to sew. It brightens and pulls some of your personality into the space, but is not permenant and is easily changed if you tire of it.

    5. Alfonzo Mango

      Target and craft stores have a lot of cute garlands, hang those up! And perhaps get a small lamp, they’re so cozy.

    6. Coffee Owlccountant

      I have collected a few office-y desk tchotckes that I love. One is a small metal statue of a worker seated at a computer made from recycled trash that I bought from an artisan in West Africa – his face is a large bolt, his body is a blown fuse, his little computer is on a desk made partially from a broken hinge. His name is Etienne and he is an awesome conversation piece. I also have a wicked sword shaped letter opener that slides into a dragon holder. Look for things like that – people love talking about them when they are in your office and they will bring you joy at work.

    7. Lupin Lady

      Nice, weighted post-it dispensers (with fun coloured post-its) and pretty calendars bring me joy. I highly recommend ‘splurging’ on them.

    8. Juneybug

      Congs on your promotion!!
      I have the following office decor in shades of gold, tan, or rose gold (it looks great with the tan cubicle fabric and blond wood desktop in my cubicle):
      – Motivation art (You can also get some great stuff from Hobby Lobby or Target).
      – Pencil cups (one for regular work stuff, the other is for colored pencils and markers).
      – Mini desk fan (helps so much with hot flashes and stuffy air).
      – Drink coasters (one for tea, one for water).
      – Travel mug and water bottle (both are dedicated for the office. My water bottle has gold dots on it.).
      – Fairy lights around the cubicle walls (you would be surprised on how many folks love them! I just draped them over the cubicle walls. They are battery powered).
      – Salt lamp (not for the supposed healing powers but I love the glow it gives).
      – File holder (mine is shiny rose gold).
      – File folders (there are great ones out there with cute messages. My favorite says I am very busy.).
      – Push pins (found some in rose gold).
      – Washi tape (found some in gold. I use them for my Kanban board and hanging up stuff).
      – Picture frames of pets and family members (my frames are in various shades of brown and gold).
      – Memo holder spike (found it in gold and use it for storing post its when I have completed a task on my Kanban board).
      – Plant in a nice container (gold of course).
      – Pillow (the rose gold polka dots adds color to my spare/guest chair).
      – Phone charger (dedicated for the office).
      – Framed diploma (hey, I worked hard for my Master’s degree!).
      – Box for mementos (mine is wood painted gold. I use it for smaller awards, like coins, that I don’t necessary want to frame or thank you cards that I have received).
      I am now looking for a fabric chair cover to cover my drab gray desk chair and a tray to hold water and snacks for guests.
      While some folks might think my office is feminine (it is), I am not worried about it for 2 reasons – 1. I am retired military so I have already proven how tough I am, and 2. I tried to find items that were elegant, not cutesy (no animals or cartoons). I think having everything matching helps from it looking too cluttered.
      My suggestion is pick a color (or two or three) that makes you happy. Look for decor that would work in your color scheme from retail, yard sales, or thrift stores. And enjoy your work space!

    9. Temporarily Anonymous

      I have a big chunk of blue calcite crystal on my desk that helps me feel more grounded to the natural world (it’s about the size of a mango). It doubles as a paperweight when needed.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood

      Some co-workers & I got removable wall sticker “windows “…but you have a window now you lucky human!
      I also have a piece of real art … well okay a photocopy, because I’m not risking the original… a bit of calligraphy I commissioned from a friend years ago. It’s beautiful. ..and if you take the time to read it, it makes you laugh.

    11. Workerbee

      Congratulations!

      I’ve always liked to have a whiteboard in my cube, if you have room to prop one up or attach it, and invite people to doodle on it.

      As you have a window (hang on to that space!), you can draw on it with dry erase markers. It’ll come off! Put up an inspirational message or a fun drawing, or something seasonal.

    12. Indigo a la Mode

      I have my running medals, 12th Man flag, sticky notes covered in snippets of poetry and inspirational sayings, stickers, a small library of marketing and design books, a rock I like to rub while thinking, a painting that says “FOCUS DARLING” in gold foil, a little cardboard dog that I cut out of an Amazon box, various work deliverables that I’m particularly proud of, a paper walrus I drew that we’ve made lots of sticky-note clothes for so passersby can dress him up, and my old Kansas vanity plate that reads “FALAFEL.”

      So, go nuts! :D

  18. Anon Librarian

    All right, fellow academic librarians out there (and others, but academics are so weird) I’m trying to decide how I feel about this. I was interviewed by phone for a position and they asked if they could contact my references before the in-person interviews were scheduled. (As with most academic jobs, they will fly me out to do a day long interview) I said I would be more comfortable if they didn’t contact my current supervisor until after the in person interview if I was a finalist.

    I was told it was the Dean of the Libraries policy to always speak to the Direct Supervisor (I’ve heard of this before, but never experienced) and this had to happen before the in-person. I thought this was weird, but I have a very supportive boss who knows I’m looking. So, I asked if they would just let me know before they contacted her, so I could give her a heads up.

    They let me know, I gave her a heads up. Everything seems fine.

    Here’s my question: It seems really not okay to put someone’s job on the line potentially by insisting they speak to the direct supervisor before they have made any investment (aka flied someone out) to the in-person. Am I over reacting? Is this a bigger red flag than I think? Orange flag? Just one of those things that’s more common in academics I think?

    1. GigglyPuff

      Fellow librarian, currently in government, but been applying to academic for two years now. Completely happened to me a few months ago. Contacted my references before my second interview, luckily all mine are super supportive and I gave them a heads-up, but I also felt really bad because the last people wanted reference letters when they contacted my references, so they had just done those too. So it seems uncommon, but could happen.
      Oh and to add to mine, they never contacted me again after my final interview, end of October. I emailed around Thanksgiving and they said they’d let me know when they picked someone. Crickets. Fourth time I’ve never heard back when I was a finalist. The entire process sucks. So annoying yellow flag?

      1. Anon Librarian

        Oh, yeah, academic hiring = longest time lines ever and a totally insane system. I wish I knew some “trick” to deal with it, but I don’t.

        1. Doodle

          There is no trick. It’s just endless and painful and frustrating for both job seekers and the departments that desperately want and need to hire someone. Sisyphean.

    2. An Archivist

      My current institution contacted my references before the in-person interview, and I was caught entirely by surprise. Given that one of my references gave birth a week before the request, it was really awkward! I now make sure that they notify people they’ll be doing that, since it’s not the standard operating procedure.

      It wasn’t a red flag–they just needed to get the letters in before they could make the offer, so they do it to expedite the process on their end.

    3. Bye Academia

      I hear you, that’s really annoying. This is one of those things that academia does as a standard measure even though it is not good practice because…tradition? It’s not a red or orange flag for the specific job or institution, IMO, since it’s so common. I’m not surprised they wouldn’t wait, because often academic searches require strict adherence to an order of events to make sure all candidates go through the same process. I actually would say it’s a green flag that they gave you a heads up so you could talk to your supervisor first. They didn’t have to do that, and I’ve seen more rigid processes that wouldn’t allow that kind of back and forth.

      Source: Despite my username, I work at a university in a support role. I had to send in letters of recommendation from my supervisor and one other reference once I was selected for the phone screen short list, way before I even know if I was getting an on campus visit.

    4. Blue

      I work in academia, but not in libraries. In general, I think something like this is quite problematic. I don’t think it’s necessarily a red flag about the organization – more likely that they just don’t know good hiring practices – but I would definitely be keeping a careful eye out for other concerning things. And if you do end up getting and taking the job, maybe you can convince them to change this practice moving forward.

    5. limenotapple

      Academic librarian, have done a lot of hiring, and I’ve never done that and furthermore, would be uncomfortable not protecting someone’s privacy in this way. In fact, I think when we advertise positions, we actually say something like “in confidence” just to make sure that people feel safe applying.
      Additionally, I’d rather just wait to contact references until I only have a few finalists. Why take the time to do that for candidates I’m not sure about? I want to make applying and interviewing as painless as possible, and also easy on myself.

    6. Beatrix

      This seems to be an increasingly common thing in academia. I applied for a mid-level position a few months ago, and they asked for my refs after the HR screening interview, but before we’d done a proper phone interview. The interview didn’t go well, so I was pretty annoyed that I’d told my bosses for nothing.

      Really obnoxiously, they contacted my refs anyway to ask to set up a time to talk… and never followed up. Poor form all around.

    7. Not a Badmin anymore

      The academic library (support role) I worked for did this, and then we got a new director and the hiring process changed 100%.
      In my case it was the policy of someone who had been there a very long time.

    8. Anonymeece

      Have an MLS, work in an academic librarian but not directly as a librarian (still interviewing!):

      That’s unfortunately common from the interviews I’ve had so far. Thankfully my boss is pretty understanding, too, so it’s no biggie, but I think you’ll be seeing this more as you go forward. I was sort of taken aback when my references were called after the first interview, before I was informed I was a finalist.

      Academic institutions in general are strict about hiring processes (which are byzantine and take forever, as others have noted). They’re not flexible at all from “how we do things”.

      That’s been my experience, at least. I wouldn’t take it as a red flag necessarily about the department, but it does say something about the institution and how rigid they are about processes.

    9. Also an Archivist

      I think it’s a terrible practice but I don’t think it’s a red flag. It seems to be a thing in academia.

      I posted here a few months ago about how in the interview for my current job, they wanted to speak to my direct supervisor before making me an offer. I successfully pushed back and got them to agree to make an offer first and make it contingent on getting a reference from my supervisor (the offer letter just said “reference,” didn’t even require a good reference). For me, what was important was that they responded seriously to my concerns and worked with me, even though they seemed completely taken aback by my objection to the practice (really??).

      This was after the in-person interview, so not as egregious as your situation, but I was really surprised how normal they seemed to think the practice was. I got the impression that the only objections they’d had before were from candidates who were concerned that their manager would give them a bad reference, which wasn’t my concern at all. I just don’t want my boss to think I’m out the door before I’m actually sure I’m out the door!

    10. Yet Another Academic Librarian

      I’m in an academic library at a 2-year school, and our campus-wide policy is that we don’t do reference checks until we are ready to make an offer. It really doesn’t seem fair to me to insist on reference checks early in the process, but I also don’t think it’s necessarily a red flag. Making changes to hiring processes can be really difficult in academia, and at some institutions that only happens with personnel changes at the policy-making level (i.e. administration).

    11. Katerina

      Wow. I’ve worked at and been on search committees at 3 different academic libraries and in every one, we checked references after the phone interviews and before inviting them for on-campus. I had no idea that was considered unusual!

    12. Dr. Anonymous

      I served on multiple search committees at an academic library at a state univeristy in the Midwest, and we checked references before the offer. Hard to tell if it’s creepy library or an immovable creepy mandatory university or state recruitment process that doesn’t say much about the work environment in the library day-to-day. Good luck!

  19. New ED

    Do people see it as a red flag of a hiring process moves too quickly? For a variety of reasons we’ve had difficulty filing a particular position and reopened the applications. Now we are contacting candidates and scheduling interviews on a rolling basis within a few days of receiving applications. It’s an entry level position and we are a small NGO so no HR screen, just an immediate first round interview. So we may email someone two days after they applied and request them to come in for an interview the following week. Would this worry you if you were the candidate?

    1. It's a Friday Thing

      For that position, probably not. The position I’m in now rolled quickly (and I’ve been in non-profit for 20-yrs in all senior roles that required a longer hiring process) because it’s a low level job (I’m caring for my parents and require a less rigorous position). Hiring should reflect the job responsibility – the more senior the longer it takes. The more time it takes, the more it costs you, too. Sure a bad hire costs money, but if the requirements aren’t complicated and you’re getting quality candidates, make it happen. The longer you take, the possibility of losing out on a candidate increases.

      Happy Hiring

    2. Fabulous

      I’ve had two quick hiring processes and didn’t think of either as a red flag at the time, but looking back I maybe should have.

      First one was for an assistant to an insurance adviser. I was called for an interview just hours after I submitted my application, and was officially hired about a week later. Turns out the guy was a notorious micromanager in his field and had an awful turnover rate for assistants; working for him 2-years was considered long-term. I think I made it 1 year 10 months. Second one wasn’t nearly as bad, it was a temp role, but they hired me during the interview.

      But really, I think it all depends on the candidate whether they choose to see it as a red flag, as well as if you as the hiring manager present yourself well and can reassure the candidates that it’s a great place to work. If you’re hiring for a more entry-level role, I probably wouldn’t worry about it.

    3. Anon Librarian

      No. It might surprise me, but it wouldn’t be a flag. My current job contacted me a week after I applied for a phone screen. And in Higher Ed that’s like being called the next day in normal fields.

    4. wingmaster

      This wouldn’t be a concern for me, especially since you mentioned you are a small org with no HR. In my personal experience with small companies, I usually get contacted by the direct manager for an interview within 2-5 days.

    5. CheeryO

      Not at all. If I got an email minutes/hours after applying, I’d think that was a little sketchy, but two days is totally fine.

    6. 8DaysAWeek

      No. I think this is great. We’ve done this in my company for a few reasons: 1) a key player on the team leaves the company 2) a key player on the team has to take unexpected medical leave or 3) we need more resources ASAP.

    7. Namast'ay in Bed

      Oh definitely not, I’d honestly feel pretty good since at least to me, quickly asked to interview = I must be pretty good. Assuming the full interview process itself doesn’t feel rushed or haphazard, a quick timeline between application and interview isn’t a big deal.

    8. seller of teapots

      Two days after I’ve applied seems efficient! Two minutes sets off alarm bells, but certainly not two days. IME, some places do phone screenings, some places do not. I’ve never read anything into that.

      1. New ED

        Definitely at least a day after applying as we need at least two different people in the organization to review resume and other application materials

    9. Not at all!

      Not at all. I would think “wow this company is on their A game! I hope everything else runs just as efficiently.” I love when companies get back to candidates right away.

    10. DAMitsDevon

      I wouldn’t see scheduling a first interview a few days after a candidate sent in their application as a red flag, though I would expect that it would be treated as an initial screen, like if HR were doing it over the phone. I would see it as a red flag if I got a job offer after only one interview though, but I’m assuming you’d have one or two more rounds? If nothing else, you’d want to give the candidate more than one opportunity to assess your organization in person.

      1. New ED

        It varies with the position. For anything above entry level we do at minimum two rounds, possible more. For entry level positions I would say about half the time we do two rounds before making an offer and half the time we find one is enough. However, when we have made an offer after one interview at offer the person the opportunity to come in for a meeting or schedule a phone call to discuss the position if they have further questions.

    11. BlueWolf

      For my current job, they literally called me 30 minutes after I submitted my application to set up a phone interview. Had the phone interview the next day, in-person interview two days after that, and an offer within a week of my application. So if you’ve been having difficulty filling the position and you find candidates that look promising, there’s no reason to delay for appearances’ sake. I’m sure most applicants will be happy that the process is moving quickly because that is less time to stress while waiting around for a response.

    12. Qwerty

      Moving fast on an interview process is great! The only problem I see is that you’re going straight to an in-person interview without having even a short phone call. The candidate has to take time off work to come in for the interview, so the phone screen stage is as much for their benefit as the company’s, just to make sure everyone is on the same page about the role and so that you don’t wasting a candidate’s time. For my small company the manager just does a 5-10min phone call that’s mostly a quick overview of the candidates resume, description of the role/company, and any questions that might pop on either side.

      1. New ED

        Thanks, we do have a phone call exactly like you describe for more senior positions and use that to gage mutual interest before scheduling an in person interview. This is an entry level position so a lot of what we are looking for is demeanor, professionalism, etc. that can be better assessed in person. If the person is based outside the area or otherwise requests it we do a Skype interview first before asking them to come into the office.

    13. Ama

      For the employer I’m with right now, I sent my resume in on Thursday night, had a phone interview Friday morning, an in person interview the next Monday and an offer in hand by that Wednesday. Part of it was a timing thing — I was upfront at the in person interview that I had to give four weeks notice to get my vacation payout (which was considerable), and they needed someone for a big program they had in six weeks, and also I was told later that they kind of couldn’t believe someone with my experience was available in their salary range, so they wanted to make sure I didn’t take another offer elsewhere.

      I maybe thought a tiny bit about whether it was a bad sign (especially after I learned that the previous person in my job left after eight months), but I’ve been here nearly six years now and it is by far the most functional workplace I’ve ever had.

    14. Elizabeth West

      For an entry-level position, probably not. I’ve applied to jobs and gotten emailed in an hour. Two days is nothing, and scheduling an interview for the following week sounds pretty normal, especially for a small org.

      It bothers me more if I see the position reposted a ton of times. It makes me wonder if the company sucks and they can’t keep people around so they’re always collecting resumes. Also, if they called and wanted me to come in THAT DAY, I would say hell no.

    15. Dr. Vanessa Poseidon

      On its own, no, this wouldn’t worry me. But I would be looking at the rest of your hiring process more critically to get a sense of whether you were thoroughly vetting candidates or were just desperately trying to fill the position as soon as possible. So if the interview was thoughtful and really probed for a good fit, you checked references, and collected work samples or had some kind of assessment related to the work of the position, then I wouldn’t think anything of the short timeline. If you didn’t do any of that and just gave the candidate a cursory interview and moved forward very quickly…well, that would give me pause.

      1. New ED

        This is helpful. We definitely review writing samples, call references, and do a thorough interview, or even a second interview in some cases.

  20. Anon anony

    When people leave my company, it’s very hush hush. One woman is leaving and I heard it through another coworker. There is no formal announcement made. Other places that I’ve worked at would at least send out an email. Is this unusual?

    1. seller of teapots

      I was talking with my CFO about this the other day! We’re a start up, so we’re still building the culture. She’s concerned about announcements because you have to be consistent. So if someone leaves to start their own job and everyone loved them, and you make a public declaration of well-wishes and what not, that becomes an issue when you fire someone else and very tersely say “joe no longer works here.” That had never occurred to me!

      We’re trying to encourage people to make their own announcement when they are leaving, so things aren’t hush-hush but we don’t have the consistency issue.

      1. NowWhat??

        Agree with this! Most people in our office make their own announcement or let it go through the grapevine. If it’s an amicable parting, a few days before their last day our office manager sends out an email announcing the departure and a drop in snack time for people to give their best wishes. It’s rare that someone is let go, but when that has happened they still have made their own announcement but there was no snack time.

      2. Akcipitrokulo

        I think it’s reasonable to have levels of consistency… if someone is working notice period, make announcement and have cake or something on last day, and if they leave immediately (by choice on either side) send a nice “unfortunately Joe is leaving to pursue other opportunities and we wish him all the best” email.

        Consistency doesn’t mean treat 2 different situations the same :)

      3. angrywithnumbers

        We had to institute a policy after one employee angrily quit on a Friday the office was mostly empty. He was in the lobby early the next Monday and someone let him in because they didn’t know he had quit. He was only there to get his stuff from his desk but it could have turned into bad situation. Now we get a generic email about pursing other opportunities when ever someone leaves.

      4. Jane

        We’ve been experiencing high turnover over the last few years at my job both by people leaving, either amicably or not.

        It is the case that you can usually tell by the tone of the email what kind of circumstances surrounding their departure. We have lots of “It is with mixed feelings that I announce that Jane will be moving on from Teapots Inc. to pursue an opportunity at Coffeepots and More. Jane has contributed in X Y and Z ways after joining the company in 2005,” etc. etc. etc. but then also some “I’m writing to let all of you know that Jane has left Teapots Inc.” and then we all know that there was some bad blood, either a firing or an angry quitting situation. Usually even those emails say something nice about the person, though. Even if it is a lie.

    2. Not Maeby But Surely

      Not unusual for my company, but the level of communication about a departure depends on the type of departure. Leave for a competitor? We find out after they’ve been escorted off the premises. Retire? Usually know in advance, often have a retirement party for them, etc.

    3. Miss M

      Yeah, I just found out recently that someone was murkily let go/they quit due to illness and not showing up enough to work and no one knew! But everyone who moves on for things like retirement, going back to school, moving internally, get a formal announcement and goodbye party. Maybe not so much for the negatively perceived leavings.

    4. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

      It’s very uncommon for company’s to send out an email when someone leaves – at least in all the places I’ve worked. Ideally, their manager will at least send an email to the direct team and peers that work with the person. That’s the process I’ve implemented at other places. Unless it’s a small company, it would strike me as odd to get an email everyone someone leaves the company.

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        We have an online bulletin board where all departures are posted – usually with future leaving date, but either way everyone is informed.

    5. Construction Safety

      Not much communication here, on several levels.
      Six ‘major’ departures, only one email.

    6. Akcipitrokulo

      We have a longer than average notice period, and our norm is everyone knows, a card does the rounds and people chip in for a gift, on leaving day everyone who’s able gets together to hear their manager say how great they are and wish them all the best and leaving person to say thanks and goodbyes, usually followed by a bunch of people going to pub for goodbye drinks.

      So for me… no!

      1. Akcipitrokulo

        If notice period isn’t worked for whatever reason, you get told as soon as possible and generally with a bland polite notice.

    7. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone

      My company does this ass backwards. If someone resigns, it’s a big secret that you only hear about through the grapevine and/or a final farewell email from the person leaving (“Hey it’s been fun, keep in touch, here’s my email”) and the linked in requests.

      If someone gets fired there’s usually a very serious toned email from the manager.

      “Fergus is no longer with the company. Please contact Florance for anything that you may have been working on with Fergus. Please contact me with any questions or concerns”

      In other words, you know without a doubt who got fired and who resigned by the communication.

      1. home sweet home

        This is exactly how one of my former companies did it. If they left said company, usually a “farewell” email by that person or their manager or you heard it through the rumor mill. If it was termination, you had the generic “so and so no longer works here, we wish him/her the best in future endeavors”.

    8. Nines

      I’m surprised at the number of people that have this experience! At the job I just left No One ever said anything about people leaving and it was a mess! They transferred the clinic manager and I had physicians asking me where she was a week later. Why don’t people communicate these things?!? It drove me nuts. But apparently it’s more common than I realized. I definitely thought this was an obnoxious issue within that specific company.

    9. NACSACJACK

      It varies even within a company. Our former dept head never let it be known anyone left whether it was a transfer out or resignation. We’d find out via the grapevine or when we contacted the person themselves if they were still with the company. Also, promotions are not announced either, but since we were required to have our job titles on our signatures, we’d find out that way.

    10. Zephy

      At OldJob, HR would usually send out a mass email saying “Please be advised that Jane Doe no longer works for Company. She is allowed on the premises and should be treated like a member of the public.” That got the point across without making it obvious that Jane quit or got fired or resigned or what have you.

      Only once in my just-shy-of-4 years working there did I see an email that said “Fergus Jones no longer works for Company. He is *not* permitted on the premises; please notify Bossman or HRLady.” There were rumors about what Fergus did to get himself banned from the place and the circumstances under which he left, but the rumor mill spins its tales regardless of what the company does.

  21. seller of teapots

    Question for the group:

    I manage a large team (25, all direct reports, all remote) and since it’s such a large team we’re playing with the format for meetings. My boss and I decided we would have small team calls each week, and also 1-on-1s only with the folks who we think need the extra support. How do I roll out this plan, without the 1-on-1 folks feeling like they’re bad at their jobs? There are some performance issues (those folks have been alerted), but many of the others are perhaps not the top performers and would benefit from more focused direction. I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re failing (and then have low confidence, not enjoy the work, not perform well because of a self-fulfilling prophecy, etc.), when really it’s more my read on how to best support them.

    Anyway, tl;dr how to you roll out 1-on-1s with only half of your (very large) team, without making them feel like they’re wearing a big scarlet letter/dunce cap.

    1. WellRed

      Are you sure those with performance issues wouldn’t welcome the 1 on 1s? You are assuming they will see it as a negative.

      1. seller of teapots

        Sorry, I wasn’t clear. There are a variety of reasons we’ve selected the 1-on-1 group:
        -those with performance issues (in which case I’ve discussed with the employee that there are performance issues),
        -people who are relatively new to the industry/company,
        -folks who aren’t having performance issues but we know struggle with a certain skill and want to provide extra guidance,
        -and folks who may slip into performance issues so we want to have 1-on-1s to help keep them above that line.

        I don’t want people in the last three buckets to assume that they’re included in the 1-on-1 group because I think they’re doing a bad job; I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone. But I don’t know how to address it because, of course, some of the folks in the 1-on-1 group *are* underperforming, and there are others who we’ve deemed don’t need the 1-on-1s at all. (And due to bandwidth, I simply can’t do 25 1-on-1 calls.)

        1. Marthooh

          “I’ll schedule 1-on-1 meetings as needed.” You don’t have to specify what the need might be.

          If you don’t mention the buckets, people won’t be trying to figure out which bucket they’re in.

        2. Qwerty

          Since everyone is remote, maybe don’t make an announcement about the 1-on-1’s or just say that you’ll meet with people based on the needs of their projects? For the people who are getting them, tell them individually along with the reason, since that it would be a different type of conversation for each bucket. (ie: “let’s check in every week until you get settled in your new job” sounds very different from “let’s meet every week to work on your performance issues”)

          Its understandable that 25 1-on-1 calls would take up too much time, but I’d suggest considering varying the frequency of the meetings so that everyone is getting something. So maybe the low performers get meetings every week, the skill-guidance and at-risk-performers get every two weeks, the rest get once every 4-6 (spaced out so you only have to talk to one or two of them a week) and the new hires start at weekly but phase out to whichever bucket they fall into

      2. SignalLost

        And, conversely, are you sure that the top performers wouldn’t want 1-on-1s? I mean, if that were me, I wouldn’t personally be able to see it as “you’re doing great and we don’t need to talk”, I’d anxious myself right into “about to be fired” if I saw others havin those meetings. Plus, in a remote environment, I’d think check-ins are more important – how will your non-scheduled reports develop in the company if you’re leaving them out of 1-on-1s?

        1. seller of teapots

          Ideally I would have 1-on-1s with everyone! But I’m only one person, with a 25 person team, and last 6 months I started to get really burnt out because I was trying to be everything for everyone. And I got so in the weeds, that I think I dropped the ball on helping my team stay focused on the big picture. So my boss and I are trying to think strategically about how to support everyone, without spreading me too thin. I like the suggestion below of having 1-on-1s monthly for the folks on the top half of the pile.

        2. NACSACJACK

          This. You should schedule 1-1s with everyone so those whose performances you want to manage up dont feel like they are being punished. I would dread every 1-1 knowing my boss thought I wasn’t meeting expectations. Everyone thinks they are doing their best, but what they think and what your expectation for best/top performer, might not agree.

    2. LaDeeDa

      I have a large team as well; I hold monthly 1:1s with everyone, and those who need extra support get weekly or 2x a month 1:1s. When I changed the format I didn’t specify what the new 1:1 schedule was exactly, I just announced in our team meeting that due to the increased number of people on the team I was going to have to change the 1:1 schedule, but if anyone wanted more frequent or additional 1:1 time I was available, they just needed to let me know.
      By leaving out what the new format it didn’t single out anyone.

      1. seller of teapots

        Ah, I like this! I was not planning on holding 1-on-1s with about half the team, but perhaps the answer is to do them once a month, so then it’s not an all-or-nothing approach.

        1. LaDeeDa

          Yes! Keep your 1:1 at least once a month, it is something I push manager’s to do when I am teaching management training. It is really important to have that one on one time with your staff.

        2. Not So NewReader

          You may not have anything in particular to say with the other half but THEY might want to talk to you.

          Really, you have to talk to all of them on a fairly regular basis. Because if you don’t then “a call from the boss” will become a euphemism your team will use for being reprimanded. “Oh, did you hear? Sally got a call from the boss this week!”

          And you can make these calls work for you in many ways. For example, Sally is having difficulty because she has trouble with X. So without naming names, you are on a call with Jane. You ask Jane, “Do you have trouble with X?” Jane says “No and here’s why!” Or Jane says, “Yes, I was going to mention that, too.” Either way you are more informed than when you started the call.

    3. Ms. Meow

      Could you roll out 1-on-1s for everyone but at different frequencies? High performers meet once a month for 30 minutes while lower performers meet weekly or every other week for 30-60 minutes? That way no one feels neglected and everyone gets the attention they need.

    4. Blue

      Could you tell them you’ll need to revise the 1 on 1 schedule and say something like, “We’ll be prioritizing 1-on-1s for those who might benefit from additional support for various reasons, including being new to the company or adding a new component to their portfolio. I’ll be in touch with those individuals, but keep in mind that anyone can request 1-on-1 time when needed.”

    5. Ali G

      I would keep it high level: “We will be scheduling regular smaller team meetings each week, and then 1-on-1 meetings as needed depending on priorities and workload.” Some people’s “as-needed” will be more than others, and that’s OK.

  22. Need a Beach

    Question for people with payroll experience.

    When going through my year-end paperwork, I noticed that my last pay stub of the year had a total that was about $97 short of my total salary. I’m having trouble figuring out why.

    I get paid semi-monthly (24 pay periods per year) so it isn’t a matter of the weeks/days not lining up exactly. The period end date is definitely 12/31/18, as it usually is.

    The number I’m looking at is the total “year to date” earnings at the top left of a standard ADP earnings statement, so it’s not a matter of the deductions having changed. The number is pre-deduction.

    I’m sure there’s a simple answer, so I wanted to check with the commentariat before asking my payroll department what might be a stupid question.

    1. JeanB in NC

      I would ask Payroll right away – if they have to redo the end of year reports because of a mistake, there’s usually a cost involved. I can’t think of anything off the top of my head that would reduce your gross salary.

      1. Madge

        Yes, you want the total to match what you’ve been paid in the year. That may not exactly match your official annual salary…and that’s worth addressing at some point. But your tax documents need to show what you’ve been paid.

      2. Need a Beach

        Yes, if I divide my salary by 24, the number I received on each check matches that to the penny.

        So, say I make $48,000 a year. Each check’s gross amount is correct at $2,000. But the final year-to-date sum is short by about $97 and I can’t figure out why.

        I have not yet received my W-2 for 2018, though, so maybe I should wait to see what that says?

        1. Madge

          Master Bean Counter is right. If you received a raise that went into effect sometime between December 16th, 2017 and December 15th, 2018, then you’d be paid less than $48,000 as in your example. If you’ve been at the same salary for more than a year, then there could be a mistake and the sooner you point it out, the better.

    2. Master Bean Counter

      The issue is when you receive the money. Your w-2 would reflect 23 pay periods for 2018 plus the last pay period for 2017 because you would have received the checks for those periods in 2018. Your last check for 2018 was most likely received in the first week of 2019–correct?

  23. AvonLady Barksdale

    My partner has an out-of-town interview next week (his first ever, and his first-ever corporate-ish interview), and I (well, we) have an attire question! When I’ve done out-of-town interviews, it’s usually a one-day thing and I only need one outfit. For his, the itinerary is a little different; he’ll arrive in the early evening and go to dinner with one of the company’s partners (who has already interviewed him in person), then the following day is the in-office formal interview. He’ll wear a suit to the all-day thing.

    I am thinking he should wear dress pants, a button-down shirt and a nice sweater on his flight (and, therefore, at dinner– I don’t think he’ll have time to change). Definitely no jeans. The restaurant itself is kind of mid- to high-end casual. Am I on the right track? Or over-thinking?

    1. GigglyPuff

      I’ve done a couple of these now, dinner the night before and then all day. I usually do slacks and a nice blouse, so his totally sounds fine. I would recommend though, I feel so gross after flying and look so rumpled, is there anyway he could change in the airport bathroom, even if he’s not going to hotel/room before dinner? I promise, he’ll probably feel way better, and there’s less likely a chance of ruining the clothes (spilled drink, etc) and not having backup.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That’s what I would do, but my partner is… well, he’s not a great traveler at the best of times, and his experiences with business travel are really minimal. The idea of changing in an airport bathroom is so foreign to him that I think he would get really flustered. I might suggest it, though! I will definitely suggest that he put the sweater on after the flight. And I will lend him my Tide pen.

      2. Free Meerkats

        This is where the Family Bathroom is your best friend. I’ve done several one day trips for interviews, so I’d wear comfortable clothes on the plane, change into interview clothes that were in my carry-on and spruce up in the family bathroom, interview, then reverse the process. It only adds a few minutes to the time in the airport, but you feel so much better!

    2. Anon Librarian

      Sounds right. I see the dinner as less formal than the day long and you were on a flight all day. Just make sure things are not going to get wrinkled in flight. He might want to add a tie, depending on how formal the office is.

      My trick is to bring a toothbrush and tooth paste and make sure I brush my teeth after the flight. It’s great if you have time to change your clothes, but often there isn’t any, so brushing my teeth helps me feel refreshed.

      1. seller of teapots

        Yes to the toothbrush!! It makes such a big difference, imo, when you have to go straight from the plane to work-mode.

      2. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

        I bring a toothbrush, but also face wipes and then do my make-up in the airport bathroom. It keeps everything a bit fresher!

    3. Persephone Mulberry

      Assuming he is using some kind of garment bag for his interview suit, I would opt for packing a second blazer for the dinner rather than a pullover.

    4. Qwerty

      Make sure that the dress pants for the dinner are not the suit-pants. That’s just tempted fate for food to get dropped on the pants during dinner.

  24. Fabulous

    I finally finished a HUGE project yesterday that I’ve basically been working on since late August. I am so excited and definitely did a little happy dance last night. It’s a ginormous weight off my shoulders just literal days before I go on maternity leave. Just wanted to share!! :)

  25. Dreamer

    How do I propose a new position to my boss? Im a teapot admin and the only person in my 5000 employee company who knows any thing about teapots. strangely my position reports to plates department. Recently, A higher up ( she reports direct to Chief coffecup officer) pulled me aside to say that she would like me to move to the coffeecup dept. ( I am estatic, because of issues with my manager described in older threads) She plans to meet with my manager to pitch her idea, even though she technically can override her.

    My current duties are actually Teapot System manager ( I researched by pulling job descriptions for this from different job boards. How do I pitch this a promotion and not a lateral move. also justifying the (hopefully 30% raise) market rate salary?

    1. Steve

      I would wait to get the approval for the move before suggesting any raise, so that it doesn’t give your manager an added reason to refuse. Then frame it as request for a raise / promotion with supporting documentation based on what you’ve researched. I think Alison’s advice on asking for raises would be useful – my gut says that the key is to wait for the approval (unless it’s a deal-breaker for you).

      1. Dreamer

        Well my plan was to wait until the approval for the move. I believe they will talk early next week. I am honestly more focused on the title jump ( because I am already doing the job). I just figured it would be a good idea to lump both together? Even after the approval their will be a lot of talk about specifics ( or their should be ) ie New title, New duties/what tasks I drop that dont make sense. I am just not sure how to build the case for this new “position”.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I would break it down into “this is what I actually do, it fits more under this title…” then they go “oooooh it does, we can fix the title.” next you say “this title tends to come with this salary range…can we talk about renegotiating my salary to be closer to those standard”

          Not exact scripts. I stink at those but that’s the route i would take to make it flow.

  26. Anonymous36

    How can you tell a coworker who chews very loudly to please keep it down? It seems like an impossibly awkward topic to broach! Is the only solution to put in headphones and silently rage??

    1. Anon Librarian

      I don’t know if you can ask someone to chew quieter. But you might be able to broach it, if you frame it like it’s your problem, not theirs. So, maybe some language like, “I know this sounds nuts. But I’m super sensitive to food noises. Do you mind maybe snacking a little quieter?”

      But yeah, this might be a headphones moment. Also, you may want to think about your own reactions to this. ‘Silently rage’ seems a strong response to something that’s fundamentally harmless.

      1. JanetM

        There is a thing called misophonia, which (as I understand it) is a magnified emotional response to specific sounds, often though not always eating noises. There isn’t any “evidence-based” treatment; current best efforts include desensitization and talk therapy.

        1. CastIrony

          My best friend has a boss like this and that is sensitive to smells. She eats when he is not in the office (They share it.).

    2. Lola

      I would wear the earphones. Unless the chewer brings up the subject, I would not address it. The thing to always keep in mind is “Does this affect the employee’s performance in any way?” It does not.

      1. Potato Girl

        Part of your performance is having good relationships with coworkers, though. It’s been said on this site before that being a pleasant person is a job requirement. So I’d argue that chewing loudly, smacking your food, making a water-drop sound with your lips, arrhythmic tapping, whispering, singing, humming, being aggressively cheerful, etc ARE all in fact performance issues because they make you a terribly grating person and therefore not pleasant to work with.

        1. Joielle

          This is true, but it depends on whether the coworker is chewing rudely or just… chewing. My husband has misophonia and sometimes the sound of people eating bothers him even if they’re chewing quietly with a closed mouth. If it’s unnecessarily loud chomping or slurping, that’s one thing, but if the OP is bothered by regular eating noises, I don’t think they can ask the coworker to change.

          1. a non non

            Also, some people are just loud chewers. For instance, my father chews really loudly, even though he keeps his mouth closed the whole time. We just recently figured out it seems to be that because of the way his face is structured/his large nose, a seemingly disproportionate amount of noise escapes through his nostrils. The only way for him to chew quietly is to plug his nose (which looks very odd).

    3. ChachkisGalore

      You can’t really tell a coworker that, but you can ask. Only a person’s boss can make that sort of demand. Just ask nicely and keep it about yourself rather than about them (like using “I” statements rather than “you” statements). Even if they are an objectively louder than normal chewer, it’s definitely best to approach it this way so that you don’t immediately put them on the defensive.

      I think most people would handle this kind of request professionally/politely. I can’t say for sure how many people would actually follow through with the request (I’m hopeful its the majority of people, but maybe not the vast majority), but as long as you ask nicely/in a low key manner there’s no reason for the loud chewer to respond rudely to the initial request. Of course there are outliers, but the vast majority of people are really pretty reasonable.

    4. Zona the Great

      I wouldn’t. There are just too many reasons for it but the first that jumps to mind is a deviated septum like mine. Before I had surgery, I couldn’t breath at all while I ate so I was always gasping for air.

  27. MarfisaTheLibrarian

    Are there any TV shows or movies that prominently feature work environments where the work environment portrayed is professional and would be AAM-approved? Obviously a drama-free office doesn’t make for great plot most of the time, and “family” office dynamics can make entertaining or dramatic plot, but really!
    This is inspired by me watching truly hilarious clips of Brooklyn Nine-Nine where I kept going “WOW no” “OMG Alison would have so much to say about that” “wait isn’t that sexual harassment” “BOUNDARY CROSSING ALERT”

    1. LadyByTheLake

      I generally think of Criminal Minds (with the possible exception of Penelope) as a pretty good example of a functional workplace with respectful, professional people who use their words. In every tv show there is a problem of there only being so many characters, so in any show the characters tend to be both personal and workplace friends and thus all up in each others’ business in a way that would be really weird in real life.

      1. WellRed

        Hmm. I am watching Law and Order reruns and they don’t seem to have relationships in the workplace.

        1. Hope is hopeful

          Ah Jack McCoy though! (But off screen and mostly background to his character introduction).
          Also Logan and Olivet I think (early years L&O) and possibly Rodgers the ME and Captain Ross (L&O CI)

          …..I may watch L&O too much!

      2. Kittymommy

        You know, this is true, especially when Hotch ran it. The Morgan/Penelope banter may raise an eyebrow though.

      3. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

        I used to love when Morgan called her, “Baby Girl.” It reminded me of college party days when my gay male friends would call me that.” :) Then I watch the show with a boyfriend when I was in my mid-30’s and he goes, “WTF?!”

        Then I saw it through different eyes and am uncomfortable every time he calls her that. Like, no. You work together. Do not give young women the idea that this is a term of endearment they should expect from a coworker.

        1. Gumby

          I’m just annoyed that the nickname came about because Reid forgot her name so couldn’t tell Morgan what it was. I mean, really? Reid? With the eidetic memory? That made no sense. (Even less sense several seasons later when they made it so Morgan actually met her before the scene in which he asked Reid who she was.) (Really, I’d like to report the Criminal Minds for horrible workplace practices because someone kidnapped and gagged the continuity fairy *years* ago and no one seems to care even though they are profilers.)

      4. froodle

        oh my gosh I was watching an episode where the whole fbi office was getting lessons on not calling each other baby girl or chocolate thunder in the office and Garcia was horrified and I was like, “wow, hr should totally have talked to them separately before doing a whole presentation to everyone, this is so unprofessional, I bet Alison would disapprove”.

        1. MuseumChick

          I love Criminal Minds! Years ago I was watching an interview with the actress who plays Garcia where she relived why her character and Morgan call each other those names. Apparently all the actors had to take a sexual harassment class, and and the actor who plays Morgan spent the entire class sitting in the back writing notes playfully “sexually harassing” each other. The writers thought it was so funny they put it in the show.

          Now, for TV, that works. In real life not so much!

    2. pamela voorhees

      This is an absolutely delightful question! The best I can come up with is the IT Crowd? Which is… not great, but compared with something like Veep, looks like a model of professionalism. Roy and Moss (and Noel, I guess) are pretty competent when they have to be, and Jen generally lets them do what they think is best? The only other thing I can think of that isn’t horrifically bad is Bob’s Burgers, but that’s because it’s a literal family, the dynamics are pretty wild (ie: Bob having to give a workplace evaluation to his wife, Linda. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t go well, but in general they all get along, function well, and handle problems). Neither of these would be AAM-approved though. There’s got to be better suggestions…

    3. Elizabeth Proctor

      Madam Secretary? Obviously not a typical work environment, but there was only one quick intra-office relationship story line and it ended fine. Definitely no medical shows hah. Those make you think all nurses and doctors or doctors and doctors are sleeping together.

      1. Luna123

        On the Secretary of State’s side, you’re probably right, but when I was watching Season 4 all I could think was “Oh noooooo” as Henry invited Dmitri over to have dinner and play video games. That is 100% crossing the line from “friendly” to “actually friends.” (Sort of understandable, given everything that they’ve gone through, but still crossing the line.)

        God, I love this show so much. I can’t wait until Season 5 comes out on Netflix.

    4. Applesauced

      Maybe the West Wing? (ignoring when CJ dates her Secret Service guard…. or Donna and Josh… I do think the CJ-Danny thing was well done, she was very professional about why they couldn’t date) At least there it’s clear that they don’t have time for friends outside of work, so the work/friends dynamic is believable
      Parks and Rec had some good office moments (when Leslie encourages April, when Leslie *tries* to keep work and campaigning separate) but again the coworkers bled into friends and crossed boundaries.

      Honestly, I don’t think a true professional environment would be interesting enough for a TV show.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Loved that show.
        Also Night Court…with the exception of the smarmy leering lawyer of course.
        Hmm…what about CSI?

    5. MissDisplaced

      I think the university on Big Bang Theory is a fairly good example for the most part. Dr. Sheldon Cooper would be in trouble a lot more than what’s been portrayed though. There have been a few wacky work situations, but most of the drama seems to take place away from work.

    6. TechWorker

      Silent Witness? Okay they’re definitely all portrayed as friends as well as colleagues, but they get on, work together well and seem to have sensible management.

      1. Fluff

        Yeah, I was just thinking of Cpt. Picard. Lt. Riker did not get to just go off, the romances were limited While he and the doc had a history, and the work place romances on board generally did not work ;-) And there is a great episode where the good Captain makes a professional choice about a work place romance.

  28. GMN

    I am 90% likely quitting my job on Monday for a better offer somewhere else and I feel like the mother of all cynics… I have great colleagues that taught me so much but I’m just ready and I feel underappreciated where I am. Am I insane to be this sentimental about a job?

    1. EddieSherbert

      I think we spend SO much time at work and it’s such a huge part of our lives, you’re going to feel invested in it no matter what. Even if you don’t like the job or company or know you’re “moving up” in a way that matters to you… there’s something you liked and that you’ll miss (even it’s just the familiarity of it all).

      When I quit “ToxicJob,” I still dealt with feelings of guilt! And I HATED that place with a passion. But I felt like I was abandoning my coworkers and I was leaving a big project half finished… etc.

      1. Former Church Lady, now a Fed

        When I left my job in December, I cried almost every day for a week (I ended up getting a stye after that, too. Awesome.) I was so bored and burnt out, but I was also so sad. Excited for new things (wow, benefits!) but it is still a huge change. You’re normal. Best wishes on the new gig.

    2. Anonymous36

      Nah, I think everyone feels a similar way, even when leaving a job they hated. I even had that feeling when I was merely transferring to another team at the same company, in the same room LOL.

      1. Anonymous Celebrity

        Not everyone does. I left my last job and felt nothing but pleasure. Pure, unadulterated pleasure. No guilt, no regrets, just very much looking forward to what came next. I was elated. Nobody was stuck working there, they stayed because they wanted to, and anyone I wanted to keep in touch with I could keep in touch with after I left. Not everyone reacts the same way.

    3. Akcipitrokulo

      Nah, it’s natural to become fond of a job and colleagues and miss them when it’s time to move on. Probably feel the same when it’s time to move on from newjob too!

  29. Just Elle

    I’ll put my question first and background second… please help! This team I’m supposed to take over leading in one week is to be a pilot for Agile in our company, and while I have tons of lean experience I have zero Agile experience. I bought “Learning Agile” by Andrew Stellman, and had considered buying “Agile Estimating and Planning” by Mike Cohn, but its expensive. Does anyone have any recommendations for other resources, or trainings I could ask to attend?

    Background:
    I posted last week that I’m in a rotational program, my special rotation had fallen through (budget was cut), and since everyone else had already chosen rotations it was looking like I was out of a job.
    Well, it continued looking like that for one (extremely stressful) week. But then something amazing happened!

    The program manager got wind of a special project that needed a project manager, and asked if I’d be willing to do it. Normally I don’t think its something someone with my experience level would get to lead, but it was one of those things where my dilemma sprung to his mind.
    I’m super excited!

    Of course, now the original rotation I was supposed to have is coming back to say maybe they can make it work… and I’m feeling weird about telling them ‘thanks but no thanks’ after they pulled so many strings to make it work for me in the first place.

    1. Lola

      Look online for SCALE Agile training. Some are live sessions and others are strictly online. It’s pricey-about $500-$750 per class. But you might be able to get your company to cost share.

    2. Penguin2

      Agile isn’t hard! There are tons of free or cheap trainings out there – check out Udemy (I think I paid 99 cents for their PMI-ACP training series).

      Is the project an application development or systems integration project? Or is it a non technical project where they want to use Agile principles? First, decide what type of agile you want to do (Scrum is probably the most common that you’d have heard of). Start with the basics: backlog development, user story development, estimating (do easy stuff like S/M/L/XL or use planning poker – there’s a free app you can use for that); do daily standups, do retrospectives, use a Kanban board. This is all truly not that hard if you familiarize yourself!

      1. Just Elle

        Erm, both all of and none of the above. Trying to change a business process that includes technical analysis of data, by improving the homemade applications (read: fancy excel spreadsheets) with which we do the analysis, and also reducing the number of review gates, sign-offs, etc within the process.. So basically we want to Agile-y transform the bureaucratic process into a lean/Agile one.

        I’m hoping that since lean comes so naturally to me, Agile will just feel like a jumping off point from lean.
        I was invited to a ‘scrum of scrums’ Monday so I think I’ll start with reading up about that this weekend!

    3. Qwerty

      I remember my team reading Scrum and XP from the Trenches when we switched to Agile. It was a quick and easy read by someone who documented his team’s experience with trying to implement Agile.

      An important thing to remember is that usually transitioning to Agile goes in cycles. Trying to be perfect from the beginning often doesn’t work. Usually what happens is you go through a cycle where you read up on Agile, realize that you missed the mark, implement some changes, deal with the growing pains, and once everything seems stable and happy – repeat. Basically, use the Agile process of iteration to implement Agile ;)

    4. Coder von Frankenstein

      Coming to this late, but the most important thing with agile development is not to overlook the forest for the trees. The essence of agile is rapid feedback: You don’t want to wait until the end of a big project to find out what you got right and what you got wrong. You want to find out as soon as you can, so that you can correct course when necessary.

      That’s why you develop in sprints, so you can put something in front of the end user right away and have them tell you if you’re going in the right direction. It’s also the reason for stand-ups: If the team is having brief regular check-ins about what they’re doing, it helps to surface miscommunications and obstacles so they can be dealt with quickly.

      All the “rituals” of agile – the scrums, the planning poker, the retrospectives, the burndown charts, et cetera – are tools to support that goal. I have seen a lot of teams go through the rituals without understanding the goal, and what they end up with is waterfall with stand-ups. And you don’t need all of the rituals! They are tools in a toolkit. Use the ones you need for the job at hand.

      1. Just Elle

        Thanks for the advice. I’m pretty familiar with this problem from my lean manufacturing background. No, the point isn’t the tool, the point is the type of thinking the tool is trying to guide you too. But I know in the beginning when you don’t know as much its an easy trap to fall into.

  30. Security threat protocol

    I need a sanity check re: the way my employer handled a bomb threat.

    Apparently, my building, which also has a school in it, received a bomb threat yesterday. The school took the day off. I heard about the threat through a coworker, and texted my boss, who was at a directors meeting off site. She said that the bomb threat had been determined to be “not credible” but I could work from home if I was nervous (which I appreciated). Another director told her report later that a plainclothes policeman was downstairs.

    So my issues are:
    –I think it was incredibly bad optics for senior leadership to be offsite. The meeting had already been scheduled, but it’s pretty easy to say “it’s not credible” when your life isn’t on the line.
    –The lack of communication. I get not wanting to start hysteria, but if they had sent an email saying “The police think it’s not credible for x y z reasons,” I would have felt better.
    –It’s not credible, but credible enough for the school to close and for a cop to be there all day?

    Should I speak to my boss the next time I see her about this?

    1. EddieSherbert

      I think – because you work in a school and unfortunately these kind of things seem to be somewhat common now – it’s worth talking to her about it.

      I would probably only mention #2 though, in the mindset of “if something like this happens again, could we handle it this way? A lot of people, myself included, got legitimately worried about safety before I thought to text you.”

      1. WellRed

        There’s a school in the building; I don’t think she works at it. The communication could have been better handled.

    2. Just Elle

      I don’t think there’s any issue with them being at the offsite. There IS an issue with the lack of communication, which could have been exacerbated by the offsite.

      When a bomb threat occurs, people have an absolute right to know as soon as possible, and to make their own decisions about what credible means. If they’re unwilling to give the details of why the threat wasn’t credible, then then have to be ok with you not taking their word for it.
      I also don’t like the ‘nervous about it’ statement – its not like a kid being nervous about thunder, its ‘jeez I’m not really willing to risk my life over something that’s probably nothing but who knows people get things wrong.’

      I would speak to your boss (preferably with a group of coworkers) about putting an SOP in place for how the company will handle bomb threats moving forward. Suggestions like: if school is cancelled, coming into work is optional… and clear guidelines for who is responsible for notifying employees and how that notification will be communicated (email, texts, whatever). Don’t dwell too much on this instance since they can’t change it now, just make sure they have a process in place for the future.

    3. RabbitRabbit

      Schools are hyper-vigilant about bomb and other violence threats at least partially due to parent concerns/concerns over lawsuits, so their protocol does not necessarily have to bear any resemblance to anyone else’s protocol or to the credibility of threats.

      I don’t understand the comment about the offsite meeting and optics?

      I used to work at a hospital and was in a psych department for a while; we essentially shrugged off a direct threat that someone was coming in to murder everyone in the office. There was notification to security and such but we kept working as usual.

      1. Security threat protocol

        The leaders of the company, who knew the most about the threat and made decisions of how to respond to the threat, were all offsite. So they’re basically saying “Take our word for it that your location is safe, while we’re 5 miles away.” That was my issue.

        1. INeedANap

          But was it really their word? I mean, I was assuming that they were relaying information about the bomb threat that they had received via an appropriate source; so maybe the police, or other security personnel were saying it wasn’t credible and they were then passing that information on.

          Since they were offsite, and yet knew there was a plain clothes officer there, they must have been communicating with someone about it. And since they knew the most about it, someone was giving them that info, which I would assume is the police.

          I agree that this doesn’t seem problematic to me assuming I am interpreting this correctly: they were offsite, they were being given info by the professionals that the threat wasn’t credible, and therefore they then gave that info to you when you asked.

          1. Security threat protocol

            “I was assuming that they were relaying information about the bomb threat that they had received via an appropriate source; so maybe the police, or other security personnel were saying it wasn’t credible and they were then passing that information on.”

            No. When I got in, people were buzzing about a bomb threat and how a bunch of people had taken off. When I texted my boss, she said it was not credible, but did not share any supporting information. The information I received about the undercover cop was secondhand from another coworker. Nothing was shared officially at all.

            1. INeedANap

              Yes, I get that nothing was shared officially at all, what I mean is I don’t know where else your boss would have gotten this info other than police, so that’s why I am assuming the info went like this: police gave info to bosses -> you texted boss -> boss repeated to you what they got from police.

        2. CM

          I don’t think it’s their fault that they weren’t present, but it sounds like they were too hands-off about it. If they’re the senior leadership at the company and they hear there’s a bomb threat on-site, they should, at the very least, try to get in touch with the people at that site and deputize somebody to take the lead on letting everybody know what the police have to say and what their options are for how to respond.

          The way it’s described, it sounds like they were just hanging out at their off-site, telling each other it’s fine while the rest of you worried. That’s not very considerate.

          So, as others have said, I think it might work to say, “Can we put a plan in place for how we’ll handle communication about similar issues in the future?”

        3. Indigo a la Mode

          Have you read “The Gift of Fear”? Gavin de Becker has a section about bomb threats and how they’re determined to be credible, and reading that might make you feel better about it. I’m sorry you experienced that–that is so scary. I don’t think it’s fair, though, to say that the leaders were being cavalier by being at a meeting that was already planned, assessing a threat, and determining it didn’t need to hinder business that day. You have good reason to feel uncomfortable, and talking about communication in potential emergencies is vital, but the leaders didn’t do anything wrong vis a vis the offsite – it’s not like they took all the lifeboats and abandoned everyone on a sinking ship. Focus on what can be improved and try to avoid building resentment over something that couldn’t really be helped.

    4. Not All

      Your office may vary, but in every one I’ve worked in as a fed you’d get some serious side-eye & a good start on a reputation for being alarmist/over-reactor.

      Schools these days pretty much always err on the side of over-caution, if only because it’s more efficient than dealing with parents overreacting. Also, once they cancel school it’s not reasonable to say “no, nevermind, everyone come back” once they get more information.

      Sure, they could have sent an email that police had given the all-clear but expecting them to cancel a meeting over something that wasn’t an issue? Nope.

    5. government worker

      yeah, you’re overreacting. I work at a courthouse and we get bomb threats all the time — it’s rare that we even have to evacuate. I don’t understand why your boss would cancel their offsite meeting? Nothing about your expectations make sense.

      1. Not So NewReader

        There’s a huge difference between a court and a school. Courts anticipate that they will have problems. I know there are some very high tech courts out there that are more like fortresses than courts. Usually the police have a plan in place and officers are present or can arrive quickly. Some courts also have security personnel on site as an SOP.

        Schools not so much.

        FWIW, OP, I think that boss handled it badly. Text messaging is not how to address subordinates who are under threat. Ideally, she would have left the meeting. A second choice would have been to call you guys and speak with you directly over the phone.

        I think that direct communication is important, so texting would be a no-go. I think that she should have been looking for you guys rather than you guys trying to contact her, especially since she seemed to be aware of the situation and had additional information. The reason why everyone was talking about it was because of the absence of leadership. People will do that, they will fill in their own blanks even if it means wandering around and asking everyone else.

        I remember in high school we had bomb threats on a regular basis. Because of a series of miscommunications we all went back in even though the treat was not cleared. I got to watch the bomb squad take apart a small bomb.
        I totally lost confidence in the leadership of that school. I knew they were not going to keep me safe and I had to go with my own judgement. Likewise yourself, OP. Use your own best judgement at all times. Management is not managing.

        1. Security threat protocol

          Thank you. All the comments that bomb threats are just normal and I’m overreacting kind of put me off. You’re right about the difference–courts (and many government buildings) have security and cops all over the place. In my local court, every person and bag gets scanned before being allowed in. In contrast, the last time we called 911 at my office, it took over 20 minutes for help to arrive, and we have no security at all. In fact, my own office was burglarized last month.

          1. Topsy

            Sure, talk to your boss if you want.
            Though it sounds like your employeer handled everything well. A threat was noted, evaluated, and found not to be an issue.

            *shrug*

            1. valentine

              Even in an environment where threats are SOP, your feelings and desire for communication from TPTB are valid and not an overreaction. Tell your boss that, in future, you’d like an official communication to hopefully stem the buzz and provide a certain course of action. It sounds like you don’t feel safe there (for good reason(!), in general, and each incident is an escalation. I’ve never worked anywhere this lax. There are better workplaces to be had. Imagine where else you can work and give the safety issues proper weight if job-searching.

          2. UK Civil Servant

            I used to work in ordinary offices and bomb threats meant evacuation – no question.
            I now work in a secure government building and bomb threats are dealt with differently – we have onsite security, they tannoy for everyone to go inside and *don’t* move around the buildings, then they investigate, then we might be evacuated or they might stand down.
            Your office protocol needs a little work, not terrible not brilliant, but it *has* undermined staff confidence in management, and that is a big deal.

    6. Anon, a moose!

      My building was one caught up in that mass bomb threat business the other week, and when building management debriefed tenants they specified that they didn’t notify us until after the investigation because that’s what the police told them to do. I don’t love that, but I recognize the reasoning behind it.

      This is just to say that the decisions made probably have very little to do with your boss’ opinion and everything to do with the police expectations and procedures.

    7. Extra Slice

      It sounds like it was handled pretty much as I’d expect. Usually the police don’t want information being passed around unless they deem it essential as that can cause panic, rumours that are inaccurate and merely fuel fear and hysteria which makes it harder for them to do their job, so I think your boss was probably following the instructions they were given. As for the optics comnent, that seems unnecessarily hostile to me. Why on earth should they cancel a meeting over a threat that had already been assessesed and judged to be not credible? What a waste of time that would have been! Do you have other concerns about your employer/management besides this? Because unless you have some serious worries about their judgement based on other things, your reaction here seems disproportionate and rather alarmist.

    8. x

      For a bomb threat, on site staff should be notified. That way, if they see an odd/unexplained package, they can notify the police. Not telling staff is unacceptable. I say this as someone who works in a place that receives higher than normal number of threats.

  31. meh

    I handed in my two week notice yesterday afternoon and things have not gone well. My boss was a little blindsided but he told me two weeks wasn’t enough and I had given him a multiple year commitment (not true). He later emailed me and said I was ruining the company and putting it in jeopardy. I have been a really solid employee for the last year and for both personal and professional reasons it is just a good time to move on. It was always a really toxic work environment so I am excited to move onto this new opportunity. I want to be as professional as possible and work out my notice, anyone have any advice on how to handle my boss? All my coworkers have been shocked but very supportive.

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Ugh. Is this a small business by any chance?

      Stand your ground politely. “I’m afraid my decision is final, so let’s talk about what we can do to make the transition as easy as possible.” “I have no recollection of such an agreement.” And just keep it firmly planted in your head that you have only two more weeks to deal with this loon. That will help you keep a smile on your face even as you’re saying things he doesn’t want to hear.

      Unfortunately, with a boss like this you may not be able to save your reference, so when you’re hunting for your next job, try to provide as many OTHER references as possible, and if they insist on speaking to him, caveat it with, “I’m afraid Percival took it really personally when I left, so that may color his perspective. But Lucinda, Johanna, and Fred would also be good people to ask.”

    2. irene adler

      Check with boss regarding what the top priorities are for your remaining 2 weeks in his employment. See to it these priorities are addressed first. Let him know if you cannot complete all items in the 2 weeks you have to complete them.

      Don’t cave re: giving greater than a 2 weeks notice. They will survive. If they don’t, it’s better they find this out sooner than later.

    3. Not Today Satan

      Honestly… I’d be inclined to say, forget my notice, if you keep giving me grief, my last day is today. If he’s that unreasonable, he might not be a good reference anyway.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      If your departure from the company would put it in jeopardy, then it’s a poorly run company. Your boss sucks.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      Seconding everything above. Your boss is trying to guilt you into staying rather than actually fixing whatever problems that might have caused you to leave because that’s what dysfunctional people and organizations do.

      Try to deflect with statements like “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “We have discussed that already, it seems pointless to keep arguing about it”, delivered as calmly and flatly as possible.

    6. FriYAY

      This sounds like my former boss’ reaction too! Apparently I was supposed to give MORE notice….I was glad to be gone.

      Just put your head down, do whatever you need to do in the next 2 weeks, and then you’ll be gone! Be glad you were only there for a year. Hopefully you haven’t internalized too much toxicity and it won’t follow you on your new endeavors.

    7. OhBehave

      Ignore accusations.
      “I am unable to give more time but here is how I plan to wrap up things. Does this seem like a good plan? ” Provide documentation of your procedures so someone can step into the role with ease. So thankful I did this. I had a stroke in Sept and my binder has everything they needed.

    8. Akcipitrokulo

      Be polite. Maintain professional distance. Be firm.

      And remember that you are out of there soon :)

    9. Marthooh

      You already gave proper notice. Document your work to make it easier for your replacement to pick up. Ask your coworkers and clients what, if anything, they need to make the transition smooth. Keep your boss informed — preferably not in person, since he’s being an ass.

      I doubt there’s a way to “handle” your boss over this. Do communicate, don’t leave a mess behind. That’s how to be professional when you leave.

      1. Bagpuss

        Also, not your responsibility to manage or handle your boss. He’ll get over it or die angry. And you only have to cope with it for another 2 weeks.
        As Marthooh says, do what you can to make a smooth transition for your coworkers, and whoever replaces you, and remind yourself that this isn’t you, it’s your boss.

    10. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)

      If your soon-to-be-ex-boss really thought your departure would ruin the company, he should have offered you a share in the business, or at least an actual employment contract. He didn’t. He either didn’t think about it, or cared more about keeping the flexibility of at-will employment for himself.

      My bet would be that no, your departure won’t ruin the company, though it might mess up his vacation plans or leave him doing overtime until he hires your replacement.

  32. Fact & Fiction

    I am so terribly excited because after years of a stalled publishing career, I am taking the bulls by the horn to amp up my own indie-publishing efforts. Many of the authors who indie-publish in my favorite genre (urban fantasy), have quite a lot of success. In fact, a lot of them make more money than they ever did with big “traditional” publishers. I am also equally nervous about sinking in a lot of money into professional cover art (a big must) and the fact that so many years between when I last published and now have passed that I am basically starting over from scratch with building an audience. But still. At least I am regularly creating art I love and getting myself back out there!

    And I have a great support group of indie authors (some of whom started out in traditional publishing like me and some who have had tremendous success without ever trad pubbing) behind me. But still. Doubt weasels abound. My self-confidence took a huge hit when I became one of those people who had a GREAT first deal only to fail in selling more books to traditional publishers for over a decade…Oh the angst of being a writer…It never goes away no matter what step of the process you are on!

    Any other writers/other types of creatives trying to get themselves back out there? Or out there for the first time?

    1. FLEMBOT

      Coming across this post right now is a bit surreal for me, and I appreciate it. I’m an illustrator who started my career creating work for self-published books (covers and interiors) and indie film. I then spent the past few years doing design and simpler illustration for YouTube channels and other digital video content, but a project that came my way last year reignited my interest in indie book illustration. Cue brain weasels of all sorts!

      I guess that’s how you know you’re doing something that matters to you. It can be intimidating to retry a creative endeavor, but it’s definitely worth the while. Best of luck to you, F&F! And thanks for sharing, I needed to read this today.

      1. Fact & Fiction

        I see a bunch of great indie cover artists having a LOT of success. They are in demand, keep raising their prices each year, and have tight schedules that it can be hard to get into as a new client. I hope you have much success as well!

    2. Frea

      When I talked about my latest book idea to my agent, I got a very “Ehhhhhhhn, urban fantasy is kryptonite right now” response (she wasn’t saying it to be mean, just that her agency’s had a hard time selling it via the trad publishing route, so we discussed changes that could be made to the manuscript) so I applaud your switching to an indie track. So many people are going hybrid and I don’t blame them. I’m not there yet, but I’ve been quietly earmarking things for future usage. I just finished out a series and don’t have anything complete to offer yet, so I’m quietly staring into the abyss of “how am I going to keep my audience???” So I get the paralyzing doubt, but I’m thrilled you’re regularly creating!! *waves moral support flag in your direction*

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Yes, my agent and I tried to sell a few UF projects after this one, but none stuck. I’ve tried a few other things, too, but none of them took either. So at this point, with over a decade between sales, I literally have nothing to lose. My agent and I are still trying to sell other things, but I was quickly sinking into the quicksand of giving up before I decided to give the indie-publishing thing a real, concerted try.

        I do try to remind myself that if a tremendously successful literary agent who has repped giants in SFF hasn’t given up on me yet, then I shouldn’t give up on me either. But that gets hard to remember sometimes!

        And thank you for the encouragement!

        1. Fact & Fiction

          Whew, by “this one” I mean the short-lived series that was published by a big publisher. As opposed to the indie series I’m trying to get off the ground.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Ugh. They’re not selling? Really? Mine–the first and second books are urban fantasy; the third will be full-on otherworld. By the time I finish something, it’s not selling? So I’m supposed to know that in advance even though I have no insider knowledge like an agent does?

          Maybe I should just give the f*ck up then. Seriously, why do I even try? I’m getting off here and going to clean the stupid house, which I’m probably going to lose because I can’t find a damn job either.

          *flails*

    3. New Job So Much Better

      After years with a reputable small press, I participated with 4 other authors last year in an anthology that we self published. I made more money on that than with any previous title in the past 25 years. If you self-pub, be sure to hire a good cover artist and a good editor. Good luck!

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Congrats! I’m actually participating in my first anthology soon, which has me excited. Nobody ever invited me to participate in one before. And I’ve hired a very excellent cover artist who is blowing me away with the covers she creates. Well worth the money!

        1. LittleMissCrankyPants

          One bit of advice that helped me a lot with regard to marketing: You can’t do it all, and you can’t do it all at once. I did a few major release day/week things, but then I just focused on doing one thing a day for 30 days, and after a month I’d done 30+ things! It’s way too easy to get yourself hypered into a frenzy because you feel like you’re just Not. Doing. Enough to promote your work.

          It will never be enough. Get over that, and move on with your writing life.

          Good luck!

    4. Youth

      Yes! I’ve really ramped up my efforts to find a literary agent this last year. It’s not going super well, but I feel like I have nothing to lose at all since so many other things in my life are falling apart, so it seemed like a good time.

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Best of luck, Youth! Don’t let anything stop you from seeking an agent if that’s what you want. :) The vast majority of published authors I know scored theirs by querying agents they had no connection to, and a lot of us had to query multiple books before we found one. And yes, it’s nice to feel like there’s one thing you can control (stepping up your efforts to find an agent) in the midst of chaos! That’s actually how I feel about getting more serious about indie-publishing. I wish I felt like I had retained a larger audience from the books that were published by a big pub, but I wasn’t mentally healthy for a few years so I literally couldn’t do more than what I did!

        1. Youth

          Yeah, it seems like a lot of it is determined by luck and timing! And yes, it can be really frustrating to feel like you can’t do things as effectively due to mental health. But I hope you find the success you seek in indie publishing.

          On the topic, I’m acquainted with a talented author whose primary job is as an artist. Her books are amazing but her covers with Harper Collins were so-so. They wouldn’t let her design them herself, so for her most recent book she went indie so she could do the design. It. Is. Gorgeous!

    5. Elizabeth West

      Ugh. I really don’t want to do this, not with this trilogy. I’ve thought about it, but Amazon is out (for reasons, especially having to do with legitimacy and their attitude that books aren’t worth jack–THE HELL, try writing one! :P) and I just cannot afford it anyway. I’m not much of a marketer and I don’t have any money for cover art and editors right now. I wouldn’t even know where to start anyway. I only made $96 with my short stories–that’s a hard sell anyway.

      1. JHunz

        Honestly speaking, you probably can’t self-publish successfully if you’re going to exclude Amazon. Between the massive Kindle userbase and the Kindle Unlimited program, that’s where an enormous share of the money is.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Honestly speaking also, Amazon or not, selfing is pretty much NOT going to net you much of anything unless you’re a really good entrepreneur and/or already have a large following. I can’t afford it and especially not if I can’t get even a return on that investment.

          The reason I did the story collection on my own was because it was very short, and Amazon would have taken too much time and too much of the money. I mostly did it to raise money for Hurricane Maria relief anyway. $50 out of that $96 total went to the Hispanic Federation.

    6. JHunz

      Hey, good luck. There doesn’t seem to be as much going on in urban fantasy right now as a few years ago, I guess I didn’t realize that it was because the traditional publishers were down on it at the moment. There are lots of fans of it sitting in a drought and picking up new self-published stuff like Hero Forged, so there’s definitely an audience waiting.

      1. Fact & Fiction

        Yep. This has been my impression from talking to a lot of successful indie publishers of urban fantasy. There is still a significant market for these books, and the readers are satisfying their craving for UF by reading a lot more indie-published books. Now, there may not be enough of them buying UF to satisfy traditional publishers, but there are more than enough for a lot of indie published authors to make a decent career out of it. There’s of course a lot of work involved–and obviously some are more successful than others–but a lot of them are making more money indie publishing than they ever did with bigger publishers. And I’ve seen quite a few authors who were never traditionally published doing pretty well for themselves, too.

  33. EddieSherbert

    So I had an awkward moment recently!

    Long story short, there’s a type of ongoing training that was promised when I started my role. On average, everyone goes to like 2-3 training sessions a year. My manager averages 5-6 a year. My first couple years were good, but my last one was in 2016. I’ve been asking the person who schedules them to schedule me **since 2016!** I brought my manager into it in 2017. I brought it my grandboss’ attention a few months ago.

    And… I learned a couple weeks that manager has another one scheduled! After just going to one in October! And my immediate reaction was… to yell, “what the hell, are you serious?!” in the middle of the (open) office. At my manager. YIKES.

    It turned into a good meeting about company values (ongoing education!) and how that hasn’t been my experience at all, and great-grandboss was brought into the conversation about continuing my training (and agreed with me). And this week, I was officially signed up for two upcoming trainings (one much farther in advance than we normally schedule)!

    I’m feeling mixed – I have never been and never will be the person who wants to make a point by yelling. And I’m embarrassed by my behavior. But also… I finally got what I wanted?

    Anyone else have similarly awkward victories? Haha.

    1. Anon Librarian

      I don’t write, but I do draw on the side. I would highly recommend “Comic Lab” which is a podcast about webcomics. They talk a lot about self-publishing and audience building.

    2. WellRed

      NOt quite the same and not really awkward but when I was low editor on the totem pole of a three man team, with a the middle editor being one who didn’t delegate as much as she could, I announced to the senior editor “I’m bored.” He said, “never tell your boss your bored” (I know this). But. Message received. they re0-allocated a bunch of duties and I got a lot more responsibility, which I wanted.

    3. Anon because identifying comments

      Bahahaha I’m laughing in sympathy. People are people, and sometimes people have loud, vehement reactions. On the scale of rude things to shout at managers, “what the hell, are you serious?” is not that bad. I’m glad that you got the training!

      One time we had an all-hands forum-style meeting with our CEO. I brought up the lack of space in our current building and the abysmal wifi (takes 20 minutes to connect). CEO reiterated that our department is important. I told CEO that it was hard to feel valued when we work in, verbatim, “A shack with no wifi.” A week later, I heard that the head of our IT department had been fired. My coworkers jokingly accused me of getting him fired. A month later, the wifi works flawlessly. Sorry about the collateral damage…. it wasn’t my goal to get anyone fired!

    4. Lupin Lady

      This week I said “You’ve got to be kidding me” and people heard me. Fortunately the one that investigated was a good colleague that also agrees people are stupid. Still wish I hadn’t said it though.

    5. Just Elle

      Oh no! Haha. I can see how you’d be embarrassed, but the very fact that you are means you’re not a chronic yeller, and everyone will see this for what it is (a normally calm employee who got frustrated) rather than taking it as a warning sign.

      I was actually just discussing outbursts with some coworkers this morning. I’m an exceedingly patient person, but there’s been a few times in my life I’ve utterly lost it, and they’ve all worked out grand for me.
      The time I was reminiscing on this morning… I was a union supervisor who went out of my way to be fair and kind when many other supervisors were on serious power trips. But employees were constantly sneaking off to the break room ahead of schedule, which is absolutely Not Allowed because its a serious safety risk for machines to be running with no one watching them. I tried again and again to be firm but polite that this was one rule they were not going to bend on my watch, and they always pushed it as far as they could. We’re talking 8 months of this nonsense toddler-like boundary pushing.
      One day there was a giant catastrophic machine meltdown and there was NOT ONE of 16 employees out on the floor to notice or hit the e-stop, even though lunch didn’t start for a half hour. I marched myself into the break room (their sacred space) and shouted about 3 sentences about how completely screwed they would all be if they didn’t get out their right now and fix it.
      By the time I was done, the room was a ghost town.
      Lunch boxes and half finished food remained on the table, steam slowly rising from them. In the distance, a microwave dinged away. A lone napkin floated to the ground, cartoon style. It felt SO good.

      1. TeapotDetective

        You’re a fantastic storyteller :D The lone napkin floating down in the wake of the mad dash out of the room…

    6. Akcipitrokulo

      Not the same situation… but once lost my temper at a colleague and told (yelled at) them to shut the **** up.

      In front of everyone. Including bigboss.

      But… having never done it in several years and having good reputation… was able to get past it pretty quickly.

      And from what you’ve said I think will be same for you.

    7. FOWG

      Sometimes this really can be a good thing. Many years ago I worked in a college. For some reason I never could figure out the switchboard decided to route all inquiries for Teapot Studies to my phone. I worked in a non public facing role in Teapot Services. Totally different. After several calls I phoned the switchboard and tried to explain they had the wrong number. They started arguing with me and things got heated quickly.

      Now I will be the first to admit I can be loud when upset. Runs in my family. As my voice was rising I heard a familiar voice behind me asking what was going on. It was my director. I explained what was happening and he proceeded to take the phone from me, explained to the switchboard who they were now talking to and proceeded to tear a strip off them for wasting my time.

      Maybe this sounds a bit petty but given I was in the middle of upgrading one of the systems at the time the interruptions were getting pretty annoying. Sometimes getting angry can pay off!

      1. EddieSherbert

        Haha, wow! That would drive me nuts as well… who tries to tell the person *with the extension* that the extension actually goes somewhere else?!

    8. MRK

      Honestly something seems funny that you couldn’t get signed up for any training for 3 years but your Manager was going to training sessions every other month. I wonder if they have a friend in scheduling, especially if employees are compensated for training time/get extra time off from work? I’d certainly be curious to see how much more training your boss gets this year now that grand boss has been pulled in

    9. JustaTech

      I was once in a meeting where a boss (from a very close but different department) suggested that maybe it would be interesting to un-do a year’s worth of my work to maybe see if we could increase a yield a little bit.

      I stared at him so hard that the people on either side of him edged over to get out of my line of sight. Then the boss was all “or maybe not, maybe that was well characterized and we don’t need to revisit it.”

      I’m normally not that aggressive, but I had thrown out my back and just taken a ton of prednisone and this would have been the second time a year’s worth of work would have been thrown out for no reason and I was just not having it. And it’s never been brought up again.

  34. AdAgencyChick

    Anyone read the article from this week’s NY Times about the death of the sick day (ie, the expectation that you’ll work from home when you’re sick, including taking conference calls, unless you’re on your deathbed)?

    I…hate it. The phenomenon described in the article, not the article. Not least because it makes it an awful lot harder to get away with a job interview these days — sometimes a “doctor’s appointment” just isn’t enough time if the hiring company wants you to come in for half a day, but now taking a sick day means coworkers may press for you to join a call right when you’re going to be at the interview.

    But mostly I hate it because when I’m sick I want to be sleeping or at most binge-watching something, not answering email or participating on a call.

    1. Lily Rowan

      That’s the kind of thing that reminds me to be grateful for the culture at my current job. People take sick days, and really take them! Maybe a little email, but no meetings for sure — including people very high up in the hierarchy. It’s great!

      1. DAMitsDevon

        Yes, I’m grateful for mine too. I haven’t used too many sick days, but when I had a nasty stomach bug earlier this year, I told my boss I needed to stay home, but would try to call into a few meetings if I felt up to it. He told me to just get some rest. Also, my boss works from home, so he could theoretically work when sick all the time, but he has taken sick days (and just took a half day last week when he realized he was getting nothing done because of a lingering cold).

    2. Not Today Satan

      I like the option of working from home if I’m under the weather. But I also definitely RSVP No to meetings if I take a real sick day. Just set the expectation of what you are and aren’t willing to do on sick days.

      1. agmat

        My workplace is also totally reasonable about sick days. I can communicate how available I’ll be, if at all. There’s also no expectation of me to work while home with a sick baby. Maybe when she’s older it’ll be easier, but at under a year home sick with her means I’m totally off duty, maybe available when she’s napping.

    3. Emily S.

      I read that too, and groaned inside. My company groups all PTO (including personal/sick time) together with vacation time, and I think it sucks. Sometimes I just want a personal/mental health day, but PTO requests are supposed to be submitted 30 days in advance, whenever possible.

      However, this year I’m planning to take some long weekend staycations, which I can plan for in advance.

      1. Not Today Satan

        I hate grouping all PTO together, too. People just use it for vacation, and then never take sick days, spreading the plague through the office.

        1. Just Elle

          Yep, that’s the worst. My husband has them separate, but sick days are paid out at the end of the year if you don’t take them (vacation days are use it or lose it).
          You better believe the entire office, including him, works while deathly ill in order to ‘earn’ an extra week bonus pay at the end of the year.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I hate it too, though I admit I do take advantage of the ability to work from home when I’m feeling marginally icky. I think the trouble is when we take advantage of that option and we set up the expectation that “sick” simply means, “I will be available from my couch instead of my office.” And yes, that does lead to trouble with scheduling job interviews. I admit I have used my migraines as an excuse when I needed to interview; I used to get them frequently enough that no one questions them as a reason to stay home and be unavailable.

      I am in the fortunate position of being able to say, “I will not be available today as I’m sick and plan on resting,” but my trouble is I haven’t actually done that in a while because of guilt. That’s on me. I swore a while back that for my next illness, I would take a day completely off, but then I got sick and it was over the holidays and we were off anyway. Eh. Wish me luck next time.

    5. Just Elle

      My work is pretty average on this front, depending on supervisor. If you’re ‘sick enough’ no one expects you to work while home. The one thing that does really bother me about it is that it often requires you to share more info than you’re really willing to about your health.

      For example, I do enjoy the ability to work from home over a case of the sniffles.
      But I get migraines. Working, from anywhere, with a migraine, is not an option. But I find myself having to blurt out that I have a migraine to get people to stop bugging me to ‘just jump on real quick and answer an email’.
      And I feel particularly sorry for people who are trying to take mental health days, where the entire point is to be away from work, but don’t necessarily want to have to explain their mental health to people just to get them to buzz off about being on calls.

      To combat this I’ve just started adding expectations to my away response. Eg ‘Out sick but will be checking emails periodically’ vs ‘Out sick, I will respond to you tomorrow morning – if its an emergency, contact Boss’.

    6. Arya Parya

      This sucks. I actually took a sick day today. I haven’t been sleeping much the last few nights and woke up in the middle of the night with a headache. Usually I would pop some painkillers and soldier on, but I’ve been under quite a bit of stress at home and at work, that I thought it better to stay home and catch up on some sleep. I figured I could work from home this afternoon, but I’ve been feeling worse instead of better. Now I’m really glad I stayed home doing nothing. You can’t always tell how a day is gonna go and I’m happy I never promised anyone I would be available for calls.

    7. Masters student of noe

      I agree, this is super frustrating. I was really fortunate that at my last job (even though the manager was terrible in other ways and it was a toxic environment) she was a former microbiologist and if you were sick, she never questioned it and would ask if you needed to go home. This was also at a government job with plenty of sick days. Truly my only regret at that job is not taking more mental health days.

    8. Suspendersarecool

      I actually don’t mind. I have a chronic illness, so being able to take it easy without burning PTO is pretty awesome. Of course, it would be much better if sick days weren’t in the same bucket as vacation. :/

    9. Lucy

      I love my flexible job but I’ve taken a total of 17 *hours* of sick leave in two *years* including several weeks of pneumonia so I absolutely know what you mean! My boss is fantastic at accepting “I feel half dead so I’m going to bed” but I pressure myself to do just one email or catch up later on.

      My husband was off work sick recently, flat on his back with sinusitis. He asked me to fetch his laptop so he could work in bed. I flat refused on the grounds that being so sick you have to stay in bed means too sick to work. He blinked at me a few times before he agreed, then fell asleep for about six hours.

      Constant connectivity has its downsides!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        The downside to employers will show soon though–the memorable mistakes I’ve made have all been when I was working when I was in no condition to work.
        Happily my mistakes don’t hurt more than a production schedule and once a budget (revoke-fix-rerelease something recycleable).

    10. Rebecca

      This is why I’m glad I’m non-exempt, and will never agree to willingly made “exempt” at my workplace. When I’m clocked out or I meet 40 hours, I’m done. I’ve seen emails from exempt people at all hours of the day and night, weekends, etc. when I go into work on weekdays or after weekends, no thanks. And it also means if I take a sick day, I’m not contacted or expected to be available.

    11. Eleanor Shellstrop

      Awful and I’m so glad my office isn’t like this. I had a sick day today and slept practically my whole 8-5. The two emails I sent this morning to my team both have awful spelling mistakes because I am ill. Cannot imagine having to work!

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Sort of a weird question, but here goes.

    For the first couple of months of last year, I was working at a tiny startup. I was let go, put it behind me, and found a new job.

    I was googling the company a couple days ago though, and I saw that there is a big exposé type piece on them and their industry in Bloomberg. It was published last month, so it’s pretty new.

    I didn’t speak to anyone about the company, I wasn’t contacted by any journalists about them, and I’ve entirely moved on from that company. Most of the things in the piece were new to me, even. Still, the CEO is an extremely neurotic guy and I can’t shake a sense of worry about him thinking I spoke to reporters to get back at him for firing me, and that he’s gonna sue me over it.

    So basically, should I do anything here?

    1. Graciosa

      Yes. Stop worrying.

      No one spoke to you and you’re not involved in this. Unless that changes, don’t spend the mental energy.

      The proper reaction is “Huh. Glad I’m not still working there.”

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You’re right. I’m naturally an anxious person, which is why I was worrying about this. An external voice saying it’s not a problem is good. Thank you.

    2. WellRed

      You say yourself you didn’t even know a bunch of things that were printed. He doesn’t even remember your name. Trust me.

    3. Not So NewReader

      He’s got bigger fish to fry than you. No offense meant here, I think you know what I mean. He’s going to go after people who are on his radar right now, you are So Last Year.

  36. Literally Sick and Tired

    So my company just took away our sick time. They took all PTO and put it in the same bank and converted it to hours, but didn’t convert the sick time we had (so if we had two weeks vacation and 1 week sick time we now have 80 hours PTO). In addition we have to save 3 days for the last week of the year. I and several other employees have pushed back with HR but we don’t seem to be getting traction with the decision makers.

    I will probably start looking in the Spring if this doesn’t change, but in the meantime I don’t want to put in any extra time. I and the team I manage are completely pissed at the moment. Any recommendations?

    1. CupcakeCounter

      Yeah that isn’t right…our company did that but it all converted (vacation, sick, and personal days) and the accrual rate breaks it down really clearly.

    2. Xarcady

      Basically, they have reduced your total compensation by the number of sick days you used to have. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of a company doing this. It saves the company money, but the end result is that more people come to work, and come to work sicker, and that can lead to entire departments getting sick, because people want to save their limited PTO for vacations.

    3. Working with professionals

      Check your state regulations too. Some states require companies to either provide the time or pay out for it.

    4. nonegiven

      They’re doing that where DH works, too, and changing the way PTO accrues. He understands that they aren’t supposed to be losing any time but I’ll believe that when I compare his next stub with his previous stub. Also, they are changing the pay periods to every other week from monthly. His first check under the new system is already late. :p

    5. Seeking Second Childhood

      Sorry… We went through that, and all we can see is that voting with your feet helps a little bit. But that only helps a little bit for the people who are left behind.

  37. Human Embodiment of the 100 Emoji

    I wanted to get people’s opinions- is it really worth my time to apply for jobs that I’m only 50-75% qualified for? I’ve gotten this advice from other blogs and friends and family, but I’ve never seen Allison address it.

    I’ve been applying for jobs that I believe I could do, but for which I don’t quite have all the qualifications (it calls for having a Master’s but I’m currently writing my Master’s, or it calls for familiarity with one database but I only have experience with a similar but different one) but I feel like I’m wasting my time because I haven’t gotten even one interview from the 20 plus applications I’ve put out. Should I actually keep doing this or is it bad advice?

    1. Sylvan

      How much time are you spending on applications for these jobs? If they’re becoming a serious distraction or if you’re feeling stressed by them, then I would not continue. But if you are spending a few minutes uploading your resume and typing a quick cover letter, then I would say that applying for the 75%-qualified jobs isn’t a bad idea: you aren’t expending much time or energy, so why not?

    2. Pencil Cup

      I don’t have any advice, but I can sympathize. In previous job searches I only applied to jobs I was 100% or overqualified for, but I started applying to things I’m only 50% or more qualified for during my current job search after reading some articles about men doing that.

      Before I didn’t apply to much at all, but seemed to have a high rate of phone screenings and then interviews. Now I apply to many more jobs, but only do an occasional phone screening and rarely get asked to interview. It’s gone from feeling like I was being seriously considered for jobs to feeling that I’m just filling a phone screening quota. Quite discouraging.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady

        https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/study-you-only-need-to-be-50-qualified-to-land-a-job-interview/amp

        This article basically says that if you’re 50% qualified, you’ve got the chances as someone 90% qualified…

        That being said, you still have to be able to ramp up to the position when you get in … “qualified” is not just the matchy-matchy of resume to posting (which probably has a whole lot of less relevant static smashed into it), but is actual ability to do the work.

        If the reader of your resume understands the job you’ll be doing, they can read between the lines about your potential awesomeness.

    3. learnedthehardway

      If you’re about 75% qualified, definitely apply. You probably have most of the critical elements. Often, a masters degree is a nice to have, unless a post-graduate degree is required to be in the discipline (eg. doctors – you need an MD, pre-med won’t cut it. Whereas MBA – if you have good business experience and a relevant degree, you’re probably fine).

      If you’re at only 50% qualified, make sure you have the critical skills – eg. if it says you must have people management, experience in teapot design, a degree in advanced teapot administration, and exposure to coffee pot manufacturing make sure you have the people management, the experience in teapot design, and a degree that’s somewhat relevant – teapot engineering or teapot manufacturing might be fine, as would teapot finance / commerce. Heck a degree in teapot history would be okay if you have the functional experience of teapot administration. I wouldn’t worry about the coffeepot stuff – that’s a nice to have. If your experience in all the other areas is strong, you might point out that getting exposure to the coffeepot stuff is a factor that would influence you to take the role, if offered.

      (Now, I need caffeine….)

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      I second the use-commuting-time-to-recharge-the-soul thing. Even if sometimes you need to sleep. Knitting, reading, audiobooks …
      And then some slow but steady networking so that you can build the relationships that help you meet people who become not-strangers that maybe you could live with at some point. Or who might have leads on a new job.
      Nothing’s impossible if you can make incremental change toward your goal.

    5. 653-CXK

      I don’t think it’s a waste of time trying, and there’s no sin in withdrawing early in the process if you’re not a good fit. Conversely, there may be jobs you think you’re not good at, but a company will either train you or let you subsitute experiences elsewhere.

    6. Akcipitrokulo

      Depends :) Often requirements are flexible.

      DB experience on a similar? Definitely. Ditto bug tracking systems for testers or most agile tracking apps. If you know the principles, minor differences are not usually an issue.

      If you think it might be OK and really like the job… be honest in cv, write awesome cover letter that shows why you are applying and trust that the hiring people won’t take you on if you don’t meet their minimum.

    7. Arya Parya

      My very first grown-up job I had, I didn’t even remotely qualify for. I had seen the posting, but didn’t meet many of the requirements. Then I was contacted by a recruiter looking for people just out of university wanting to work in IT. And they put me up for that job. It turned out they were totally fine with someone without the experience who was willing to learn and could learn fast.

      So these days, even if I don’t meet the exact requirements, but can show simular experience, I give it a shot. I think that especially in IT, this is quite common.

    8. LargeHippo

      I’ve heard this several times (as recently as yesterday) that men will apply to a job if they see they meet 50% of the qualifications and women won’t apply unless they meet close to 100%

    9. Janet Snakehole

      I read an article once about how this is A Gendered Thing, but now of course I can’t find it.

      I can’t remember exactly, but men tend to apply for jobs when they meet fewer of the qualifications than women do. Something like women tend to apply only when they’re 90-100% qualified, while men fall more in the 60-70% qualified range. I tried to keep that in mind when I was job hunting and applied for jobs that I wasn’t fully qualified for, if I reasonably thought that my skills would transfer or were almost close enough.

  38. anna green

    Someone was supposed to call me at 11am for a scheduled call. Around 11:12, I emailed, hey are we still doing this? She responded “sorry had an issue, let me go get to a conference room to call.” Does this drive anyone else nuts? I’ve been sitting here for over 15 minutes now waiting. The least she could have done was email/text/skype and we could reschedule. Why is my time less important??

      1. EddieSherbert

        +100 Drives me nuts!

        Starting meetings late… long de-railing conversations… turning a meaningless “issue” into a BIG conversation (thinking of a recent meeting that spent 10 minutes worrying how we should run the next December Sale *if* the changes we’re developing now/testing in March aren’t ready (?) by next December)…

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh, yes, I HATE this! Especially when it’s a job interview, because it’s so awkward, but internally it makes me insane.

    2. Asenath

      It drives me so crazy that I tend to leave/do something else and send an email asking them to re-schedule, if I can. I work with a lot of people who are late or even no-shows, and I think that ‘on time’ means being ready at least 10 minutes ahead of the set time.

    3. Gumby

      It’s not. And I’m 90% sure the “issue” was that she forgot. I’d start a personal policy around waiting for meetings where you will wait 5 minutes but after that you assume something came up and they’ll have to re-schedule. That doesn’t work very well if you are the one who called the meeting and needs the info, or if it’s with a client (though I do remember seeing advice for that situation on a previous post), or if you have much less clout than the person who called the meeting. But if you can do it – it may cut down on your personal annoyance. Plus you are training people to respect your time rather then training them to know that you will always be accommodating so there is no need to pay attention to when they were supposed to start the meeting.

    4. Blue Eagle

      Was this a call that you wanted or one that she wanted? The answer makes a difference. If she was calling for your benefit or if she is at a higher level, then you need to be more flexible. If she was calling for her benefit or if she is at the same or a lower level, then she is the one who needs to be more respectful of your time – so (politely) tell her that.

  39. PX

    So this is probably about 80% rant and 20% ask for advice: I have very quickly and suddenly fallen out of like with my job. I’m not quite sure what to do about it.

    Its probably the result of the fact that our software development team are…the opposite of fast and agile (I’m a product manager). Add to that being bogged down by big company bureaucracy and feeling like my manager adds to the dysfunction by…not managing, not great planning and some lack of communication over the holidays that directly impacted me and really annoyed me – and I’ve spent the last 2 weeks of being back at work just…ranting in my head and hating pretty much everything.

    Other than the obvious issues with our work process, the other thing bothering me is feeling bored/lack of challenges. I’ve been in this role 3 years, we’ve had the same problems the entire time, the improvements have been minimal and I feel like there is nothing on the horizon for me to get excited about/learn/develop. I’m a pretty goal motivated person, and not having something clear to aim towards or a clear sense of achievement kind of bums me out.

    The obvious answers are:
    1) job search. I’m sort of doing this – however its a bit complicated due to the fact that I’m a bit loathe to move, and jobs in my industry are not plentiful where I am. I’m probably also a touch overpaid (although benefits arent great so that could even out), but I really dont want to go down in salary. There’s also a potential carrot dangling – our company is having a re-org at the end of this year, and that should (in theory) open up a lot more doors internally which I would love to explore.

    2)conversation with my manager on goals/growth. This is a good time of year as we will have to have our goal setting session soon, but I just. Really struggle with how to extremely clearly, but politely say that I’m feeling bored, frustrated and want to expand my skillset. Also because our team is small and its unfortunately not that easy in our team/company to find opportunities to do new or different things. So I’m not sure this will achieve anything.

    The sensible part of my brain says just have the conversation with my manager and it might help. Wait it out till the end of the year, see what the re-org brings and then ramp up the job search next year if I’m still unhappy.

    But the thought of waiting that long is just….killing me right now. Probably because I dont think anything is actually going to change and I’m going to have to spend another year pretending to be okay with things when inside I’m going to be dying. Usually I’m very good at not letting work things get to me, and just saying: “this is a good paycheck, it lets me do fun things outside of work, and if I dont like it I can leave”, but right now thats not working and I dont know why.

    Any tips for letting go of frustration? I just had a good 2 week break over Christmas, but if anything I think that only made it worse by being able to come back and see really clearly just how inefficient everything is!

    1. Jules the 3rd

      Sympathy! It is very frustrating to see problems and have limited ability to sole them.

      Tips:
      Mindfulness: recognize and name the emotion when you feel it, then redirect your thoughts: “Ok, I feel frustrated right now. I can’t do anything to fix it, so deep breaths, and move on to another thought” and “Ok, my holiday was messed up because A, B, C. I’m doing X, Y, Z to prevent this from happening again”. Walking away from the frustration is something that you have to train your mind to do, bcs it’s in a rut. There’s usually no instant ‘oh that fixes it’, but a regular re-direct works.
      Planning: Can you take any of it over for your manager? I often ‘manage upwards’ by handing my manager the project plan and asking him to review / make suggestions.
      Growth: Look for ‘job adjacent’ skills that you’d like to learn, like Advanced Project Management or Hot New Technology . Look for new tools that the team / your manager can use to prevent the problems you saw over the holidays.

      1. PX

        Ugh. I feel like one of my frustrations is that I’ve already been managing upwards in some respects and not getting anywhere. And feeling completely at a loss of where to look/go/grow makes it worse. But definitely need to focus on the mindfulness. Hopefully this phase will pass and I’ll be able to go back to my usual “just let it go” self.

        And thanks for the reminder to take the opportunity to develop new skills while I can. There is definitely at least 1 can exploit in my current role :D

    2. Qwerty

      So much sympathy for this! I get how frustrating this is.

      What about passively looking for a new job? Get the resume ready, go to some networking events, etc. Browse through other job postings to see what skills you need brush up or if there are new technologies/methodologies to learn. Apply to things that sound interesting, but without the pressure of needing a new job immediately. Maybe someone at a networking event will know of a job that is adjacent to your current industry so that you have more options.

      As to why things are getting to you now when they didn’t use to – it might just be that it’s been going on for too long and you’ve lost hope that it’ll change. Studies have shown that humans want to feel productive and useful. Not having that sense of fulfillment can also be emotionally exhausting.

      Good luck!

      1. PX

        Thanks! I actually just applied for a job this evening. Role sounds interesting but Glassdoor reviews are very mixed and as always, the location is definitely not great. But as you say, its been the nudge I needed to update the resume. And at the very least, it will (hopefully) get me some interview practice which I’ve not had for a while.

        Anyway, getting this out has definitely helped! I feel like I will at least make a good faith effort to have a conversation with my boss about this because he will at least pretend to care even if his follow through is likely to be..minimal.

        1. T. Boone Pickens

          Talk to a 3rd party recruiter that recruits for your space. They can give you market intel and let you know what the market looks like. With you being in your role for 3 years things have changed quite a bit with employment numbers (assuming you’re in the US). The 3rd party recruiter can handle some of the job searching part for you. If nothing pans out from it, all you’re out is some time on your end. There’s a good chance they’ll freshen up your resume for you as well.

    3. CM

      The part where you’ve had the same problems for three years is jumping out at me. I was in a similar situation a while ago — the same problems that were destroying my projects on day one were destroying my projects 3+ years later, despite all my best efforts to change things. There were always vague promises that things would turn around later — new management, new strategy, re-org after re-org — but nothing ever made a difference in the dysfunction.

      At a certain point, I decided it no longer mattered if things changed in the future because it was too late. It sounds like maybe it’s getting to be too late for you, and you should plan as if you will have to leave.

    4. Brandy

      Oh! I relate to your post in a lot of ways. I was the VP of product at my company, which got swallowed up by a big beaurocratic parent company. And our dev teams struggled to deliver and the industry was pretty stale. Here’s how I kept things novel for my product managers:

      – for some, focused them toward career growth more in business strategy (identity what’s new, look at non build options for new revenue- partner/buy type work). These people got lots of exposure to the industry thinkers, m&a work, bankers etc. and built strategy business cases.

      – for some, double down and become more technical in their product management. I basically “gave” them to development to go be Super BAs/Product Owner types. They worked very tightly with operations and whipped dev into shape. It helped with the “us vs them” between The Business (Product/ops) and Development.

      – some worked closely with marketing as product marketing managers.

      -one of my reports was pulled off managing a product and pulled into developing a more formal process for governance- which projects move forward within the company and which are sidelined to preserve corporate resources.

      The hard thing about product management is that you grow by being senior but you very often never get management experience. You plateau in your career as a very highly paid individual contributor- and for some people that’s perfect! But when it’s not, you need to look product-adjacent.

      1. PX

        Coming back so late to this, but if you have comment notifications on – thank you! The options you listed are things I would love (especially the first one) and while I dont know if it could happen in my company, I’m certainly going to use it when talking to my boss soon :)

        And for what its worth, I would very happily stay and grow to be a highly paid individual contributor, but I need to feel like things actually get done which is my current issue..

  40. Nala

    So today is my last day at horrible job! I have the next three weeks off until new exciting job starts. One of my side projects at horrible job is highly visible but not too time consuming (~30 min a week). I thought we had a clear cut transition plan, my backup would take over until the project goes away in 3 months. She was already trained already had the logins and everything. Two days ago her new boss decides backup won’t be taking this on and splits the ownership across 3 separate groups one of which is still undetermined. This morning I come in to turn in my computer and of course side project has blown up overnight. It feels right that on my last day management’s poor decisions come back to bite them and they can’t come back to be because they didn’t follow my transition plan and I don’t have a computer anymore.

    1. learnedthehardway

      Not your problem – you provided the roadmap and they chose to go off on a side road that wasn’t going to take them to the destination they said they wanted.

      Enjoy every moment of your three weeks off. DO NOT offer to keep working on the project.

    2. Marthooh

      It’s kind of nice, isn’t it, when deeply annoying people just straight up tell you how smart you are to avoid them!

  41. Sylvan

    I’ve had an extremely light week at work – it’s essentially been two steps away from a vacation. What do you all do with times like these?

    1. GoingAnon

      Sometimes I fill out surveys on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Some of them pay decently, but most pay only a little — but at least it’s something to do. Some of them are pretty interesting. You just have to be able to quickly tab over to something else if you need to avoid your screen being visible. (There’s also a site called SurveyJunkie, but they pay so little it’s not really worth trying.)

      Generally though, I tend to read articles in the news, blogs, and look at social media way too much.

    2. Pam Beesly

      I bring in a book if it’s quiet and short-staffed; otherwise, like GoingAnon, I read news articles and blogs. Longreads is a great way to pass the time.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      I have a couple of official downtime projects. I’m rewriting development procedures to include the new role assigned to us a couple of years ago so it lists what other departments need to give us & set in place for us to complete the projects. (Re-org and staff changes and added bits from other departments…interesting times.)
      I’m also auditing a set of SharePoint team rooms against our archive to make sure that we have files for everything before our hard copy is sent to long-term storage.

  42. Sharkey

    Any advice/pro tips for switching careers into higher ed? After a couple of years in startup land, I’m looking for a workplace with more stability (and better benefits) than what I have now. I’ve been managing the tech support team for the company I’m at now, and I think my skillset (customer service, management, organization) would translate really well to higher ed admin work, but I’m not sure how to sell it. For folks who’ve done hiring in higher ed administration or have made the switch, what are you looking for/what worked for you?

    1. Minerva McGonagall

      Sell those translatable skills. If you’ve ever done any work with the traditional age population (even though many schools are branching out to those outside of the 18-22 age bracket), mention it. Have you taught/led any workshops/conference presentations? In my experience, jumping from outside tech to higher ed tech teams is easier than in other offices. If you’re looking for a move into a non-tech based office, try to find positions that have a closer description to your current job description. Higher ed can be tricky to get into and very siloed at times, so for you it’s about getting your foot in the door!

    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      Are you looking for roles within the same job function? My experience with higher ed is that unless you are student-, donor-, or parent-facing, it’s really more about the translatable skills and experiences. When the career center I worked at was looking for an in-house tech person to support our staff, we cared about the candidates’ tech skills, not their higher education experience. Of course, if you have a genuine interest in using your tech skills to support the success of students, administrators, donors, etc., you should mention that in your cover letter.

    3. Admin of Sys

      Most staff positions at higher ed academia are looking for people good at the skills the job requires. In general, you should just present yourself the same way as you would if you were staying in corporate, with a few caveats.
      1) In my experience, Universities (assuming US here, fyi) look for evidence of degrees and appreciation of higher ed in a general sense – any position is more likely to want you to have a degree than not, and the higher up you go, the higher a degree they usually want. For example, in my last university as a staff member who had nothing to with the academic side of the institution, I would still likely need a masters to get a job as a manager of any sort. This is less an issue in the more staff-oriented departments, but is still generally true.
      2) There’s an inclination towards folks who perceive working at the university as a bit of a higher calling – it’s not that you shouldn’t mention the job stability as a factor, but there is definitely a ‘doing good for society’ aspect underlying a lot of University attitudes, and mirroring that can help your chances.
      3) Promotions may be really really slow. The turnover at universities is very different than in the corporate world. An IT position that usually would cycle every 5 years or so may be held for 15 to 20. This is great if you’re looking for that level of time in a job, but if you’re hoping to get a better position inside your organization, it may not happen. (though this might be more an issue in tech, I’m not sure how it maps to other job types)
      4) Universities may be a bit more cautious hiring right now, because there are a lot of grants that get paused during gov’t shutdowns. I don’t know if there are hiring freezes already in effect, but they’re likely to come soon if doesn’t resolve soon. So don’t let that discourage you.
      5) State Universities can take ages to finish hiring someone. It took 2 months once, to go from my first interview to an offer. They didn’t ghost on me, but the paperwork can be hideously inefficient some places.

      1. Munchkin

        That hasn’t been my experience re: #3 – there are definitely the lifers, but at my school people shift around internally a lot. We have about 5000 employees and according to HR each year 600-800 move to a new role internally each year.

  43. Zona the Great

    I’ve been asking AAMers what they think of some incidents from my past and how they would have handled it. One is from when I worked at a drive-up only satellite branch of a bank. I was a full-time employee, we had one part-time employee and the manager. The way the schedule worked out, the manager or I would have to take a 2 hour lunch at least twice a week in order to ensure someone was there at open and close as the part-timer didn’t have the clearance to do so. I don’t want to explain this further but trust me that this was truly the only way.

    However, I lived two towns away (a very very rural area where we had to commute a great distance for work) and the manager lived two blocks from work. She never-ever took the two hour lunch and always required that I did instead. It made my 8 hour work day into almost a twelve hour day when factoring in commutes. She never understood why it bothered me and she never agreed to take it instead. Even when I explained that she could at least go home and take a real break, she simply suggested I just go window shopping at the local malls. When her boss stopped by, and with me in the same room, she said to him, “She gets so mad when I do this but I don’t understand what the big deal is. She’s getting paid for an 8 hour day regardless” as if she really didn’t see the issue.

    So, AAM, what do you all think of this practice? Would you have pushed back? Would it have upset you? Would you have managed this way?

    1. OhBehave

      If explaining that going home is not an option for you I would have dealt. I would not go home. Workout, read, nap, catch up on Netflix. Schedule appts during this time. I used to sit in my car and soak up the sun listening to music.
      She thinks she’s giving you a great perk. It is if you find things to do. Useless if you can’t go home easily! I would have loved doing this. She may not have been comfortable leaving the office without a manager for that long. Who knows? You could have pushed back, but I think you did without success.
      Managing this way? It depends upon her reasons. Personally, if I was ok leaving my staff for 2 hours, I would. Especially being that close to home. I can get a lot done in 2 hours! Unless my kids were home with a sitter. I would definitely have listened to your objections. But if I had clear reasons to stay, I would have done so.

      1. Zona the Great

        So true however, this was about 15 years ago now so those things were not readily available. Great response though and thanks for playing!

        1. valentine

          In your place, nothing could make this work for me. Even if there were a movie theater nearby with a great bathroom (I loathe public restrooms), I would burn out quickly from being on and away from home so long. As the manager, I would add delight in going home for siesta while not forcing two unpaid hours on an employee.

    2. Gumby

      Look, she knows it was an undesirable set up because she never took it herself! If it were such a lark, she’d have been happy to trade off with you. So yes, I would have pushed back and I’m pretty much astonished that her boss didn’t say something or side with you.

      You probably weren’t making minimum wage so all of the split shift laws (which seem to be tied to minimum wage in CA where I am) wouldn’t apply but it might have been something to look into back then.

    3. The Vulture

      That sounds really annoying! Every place I’ve worked has one hour lunches and people always wanted to shorten them and leave a half an hour earlier (some were okay with that, others not). But yeah. I love “she’s getting paid for an 8 hour day regardless” YEAH THAT’S THE PROBLEM HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THAT. Also, you have to assume she saw it if she understood the reasons SHE didn’t want to do it (which, I suppose some people are so oblivious they are able to not understand why they don’t want to do something or even that they don’t want to do something, but sheesh).

      Not sure what you could do about it – I probably would’ve dealt with it, unhappily. Did the boss say anything about that? I’d be so curious to watch his reaction and see if you could get any traction there, but it’s doubtful. It sounds like you pushed back as much as you reasonably could, since the only other person who could do this was your manager, and you can’t make your manager do things.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Eh, some people you can’t reason with no matter what you do.
      You could have tried, “Hey that is asking me to work a split shift. People who work splits get compensated for accommodating that split.” I might have found a way to gently say, “You don’t do this, so you must know that I am giving extra here.”

      I worked one store where the bosses had every other weekend off. I was third key. I worked every single weekend. So what I said was I wanted to have a slice of the pie. I wanted every third weekend off. I was willing to replace each of them in an alternating pattern, if I did not do that then they would not be able to alternate. So I would like some payback for my willingness to cover for them. They agreed. I had every third weekend off.

      Your boss was a jerk about this.

      1. CM

        Yeah, my reaction was also “How long does the break have to be before you’re working a split shift?”

        I know you say there was no other way to do it, but there’s always another way to do it besides dicking someone over. Like, hiring another employee who had clearance to open and close. Getting the part-timer clearance to open and close. Closing the store earlier. Opening the store later. Or, you know, as the original plan seemed to be, splitting the burden between two people instead of putting it on one person.

        The truth is that there was only one way to do it that SHE WAS WILLING TO DO and that was the way where you had to pay the whole cost of it instead of her.

        However, if you were stuck in that job and you wanted to make it work, I my past!recommendation would be: tell her you can only do it if she renovates the break room/store room/some area where you could hang out and relax AS THOUGH you were at home during the extra hours you had to be there.

  44. Triplestep

    I gave notice this week … weeeeeeeee!!!

    So what do people think about exit interviews? I got my official invitation for an “on the record” one, plus a form to fill out for an anonymous one.

    On the one hand, I do have a few things to say that might make a difference to someone at some point, mostly about my manager’s lack of managerial skills, and also about some systemic problems beyond just her. (My one coworker has been asked if he knows anyone who would interview to replace me, and he won’t subject anyone to this place.)

    On the other hand … Meh, who cares?

    If it makes a difference, I do not intend to use my manager as a reference … even if she offered, she’s a habitual liar so not to be trusted. I am doing all I can to leave things in good shape, but won’t keep in touch except for maybe a few on Linkedin. (There are some really great people here who I will miss for sure.)

    1. Minerva McGonagall

      When I had my exit interview, I said that I enjoyed my time under GreatBoss. When he retired, my new supervisor was his boss, who didn’t prepare at all for the transition, and when I mentioned her name, HR went “Oh, yeah, that’s why you’re leaving.” So…yeah. They already knew about her management problems and how she was driving the whole office out.

      Be honest, be distant, be happy you’re getting out.

    2. Zona the Great

      I have always held the belief that I should leave a place in a better state than I found it. As long as you are not emotional and vindictive, I recommend taking it seriously and participating fully and honestly.

    3. Windchime

      I have only been invited to one exit interview and I declined. They didn’t care about my concerns regarding rogue managers when I complained months earlier; why would they feel any different now that I’m leaving?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Because there is a real cost for staff turnover that can be assigned to BadBoss.
        Exit interviews are to help your soon-to-be-former co-workers.

  45. Someone On-Line

    Help! I’m getting a promotion!

    I’m going to become my bosses’ boss, and be managing a group of four, to grow to a group of 11 in about a year’s time. How do I navigate becoming the boss of my boss? I haven’t managed anyone since I was a teenager – what is the best advice you have or books to read (aside from Alison’s, of course, which I’m going to buy over the weekend).
    Any help is appreciated!

    1. Jb from Norway (formerly an OP5)

      I have…never been in this position. Can you give me more context? Why were you promoted over your boss? Does she know? Is it for a rationale reason (e.g., you came in at a lower level but actually have more experience) or because your boss is horrible?

      1. Someone On-Line

        Both? I have more experience, she is not great, I’m the one who has a statewide reputation for what I do. I frequently step in for her and am looked at as the authority. She is lovely but I don’t think she knows she’s not great at what she does.
        Our grandboss offered me this position. She does not know yet. We’re waiting to tell her until the paperwork goes through.

    2. Jules the 3rd

      Talk to her about it, a week or so after the announcement. As part of a ‘establishing our relationship’ conversation, ask how she feels about it, and what she wants to in her career going forward. Does she want your position eventually? Is there a different direction she wants to go?

      Then work with her on how she can grow *her* reputation and skills – conferences, giving / getting training, etc. Walk into the meeting with a specific list of opportunities for her, with funding in place. Make sure they’re good ones – if there’s one you’ve done a few times, let her do it (maybe tandem once, then her a few times, then alternating if it’s a really good opportunity).

      In talking over your transition with your boss, see if there’s a plan for a raise for her within a year.

      Then follow through with the plans. Someone who’s helping her grow, develop and make more money – it’ll be hard to hold on to any resentment.