open thread – March 1-2, 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.

{ 1,528 comments… read them below }

  1. Frustrated*

    Despite generally liking my job over the past 3 years, a recent reorg on my team has made me exceedingly bitter and I’m not sure how to handle it.

    I recently learned that my previous manager was exceptionally ineffectual and his failure to give me any kind of constructive feedback whatsoever in the last few years has significantly impaired me in our department head’s eyes and she appears to believe I do not know the basic tenets of my job and am not ready for more responsibility. Unfortunately, this recent feedback is kind of the equivalent of need-job-experience-but-can’t-get-a-job-without-experience kind of catch 22s, and I’m unbelievably frustrated. No one has criticized my day to day work, and have actually praised my performance in regular duties, but apparently there were other expectations that were never communicated to me. Due to exceptionally outstanding circumstances, other members of my team have had prestigious opportunities I have not, which even led to someone who has been here 10 months getting promoted over me.

    I don’t want to blame anyone else, because it’s certainly on me to step up more than I have, but I can’t help but feel I’ve been getting the short end of the stick around here. I’m really upset that despite staying late, working weekends, taking on projects other people hate without being asked, etc, only my direct manager knew what I was undertaking and evidently failed to communicate any of it.

    It’s very hard to break preconceptions in this office, and I’ve seen many people leave over it. This is ostensibly a good job, and I know I could have it much, much worse than this cushy job with good benefits and an otherwise great corporate culture with kind managers and a comfortable environment, but I right now just want out.

    Any advice?

    1. Overeducated*

      Are you my coworker? Probably not since I wouldn’t describe us as having a “great corporate culture,” but seems like they could have written this.

      I think trying to get out for somewhere you can start fresh and get recognition is totally rational. But for the meanwhile, I think you might need to be a little more loudly needy and a little more self-promoting. Make sure your manager knows where you’re going above and beyond, and ask for frequent feedback, advice, and developmental opportunities in the areas where the expectations were not communicated. Be a squeaky wheel.

      1. Frustrated*

        This is what I’m trying to do. I’ve had a frank conversation with my (new) manager and she understands where I’m coming from. I just think that at this point, there’s not much I can do to change perceptions, based on how things have historically happened around here.

        1. Eleanor Rigby*

          Maybe you will need to look outside of this organisation in that case, if finding another job is possible (I know it might not be depending on your circs)

          1. Frustrated*

            Oh, I absolutely am. Aggressively. I’m looking for positions that are a step up but I would consider a lateral move if it gets to that point.

            1. Overeducated*

              I think it sounds like you are doing all you can then. Good luck getting through this tough period, I hope you get a good new opportunity in your current job or a new one.

        2. Busy*

          Heya! Are you writing about me? And honestly it takes time. I struggled for awhile going through all the emotions I am sure you are feeling. And then, I just kind of told him “off” but in a professional way. I explained that I have this amazing resume with all these accomplishments and here? Nothing. 2 solid years of nothing. I explained how my previous manager would keep my ideas quiet and not communicate to others what I was doing. She also kept me from working with others enough and kept me isolated as well for when she “needed me”. I told him how demoralizing that is. I mean basically, I was candid and honest. And the conversation was basically they are lucky to have my experience and I would appreciate if they would start utilizing it. There was a lot of other things, but I finished up with letting him know that I had to work X way according to my last boss (his old report) and to please be clear and precise with me on what his expectations are for now.

          But at the end of the day, you have to look at it like starting over in a new job with someone who doesn’t trust you at first. I think you will be ok as long as you are completely candid and give it time.

          1. Busy*

            OH! Also, don’t get stuck in the mindset that this is some how about you. You have a track record and you know your worth. You can and will find another job. I found going into it with the mindset of “If they are going to fire me, then they are going to fire me with my mouth running. I am not going quietly”. Because it is hard not to feel offended or like a piece of crap. You are worthy and this is there problem to show to you that they can manage past dysfunction. (cuz IT IS dysfunctional to have this happen).

            Just do it all with professional tones.

          2. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

            I totally sympathize. I am currently in a similar position. I was hired for what was advertised as a high level high visibility job and it gets paid accordingly. I have a great professional background, two degrees, years of experience and have basically been totally ignored since I’ve gotten here. I have articulated that and also offered to pick up additional responsibility, but I kept getting ignored. I am doing everything in my power to fasttrack out of this job. I feel that it was a setback to my career and frankly it has been emotionally draining too. But really the only thing that one can do in this situation is to leave.

        3. Mickey Q*

          I once read an article that said once a boss has a certain perception of you it’s pretty hard to get them to change it and you might as well start looking.

        4. Aaron Aardvark*

          I had an okay manager, and now I have a great manager. One of the changes I had to make under the great manager is to make sure I’m communicating effectively. Whereas under okay manager I was a quiet little mole in my cubicle, got work, got work done – under great manager I get work and I communicate as to expected timeline, communicate any roadblocks, and communicate when work is completed. This might now work for everyone, or every situation. But it made a big difference to my coworkers, as they were managing/juggling several projects and having me check in allowed them to adjust their expectations/timelines/vendor communications. Under great manager, I’m seen as part of the team, rather than part of the grinding system whose work is unseen and capricously completely.

    2. Anne of Green Gables*

      Is there someone above you that you can talk to? Whoever is now your manager, or a colleague of the ineffective manager, or perhaps the ineffective manager’s boss? I’d be honest in much the same way you were here. “Can you give me some actionable things I could do to show you & TPTB here that I am a reliable employee? As you now know, other expectations were never communicated to me by Fergus. Now that I am aware of them, I’m doing A, B, and C to be sure that those other expectations are being met.” And then from here add or adjust to be specific to your situation. But my “channeling Allison” instinct is that asking calming “what do you need to see from me” is a good route.

    3. Not Maeby But Surely*

      It’s hard to tell given the information you provide, but is there any hope of explaining what happened to the department head? It sounds like an incredibly frustrating situation.

    4. Dr. Octagon*

      Hmmm, you’re in a bit of a sticky spot for sure. When is your next performance review? It looks like you’re going to need to take some ownership on your career pathing because your old manager certainly didn’t do you any favors. Right now you’re probably labeled as the ‘head down, grinder employee who is just happy to be here and we don’t need to worry about him/her for promotional opportunities.’

      The great news is this is totally fixable, it just requires really clear communication on your part with what you’re looking for in terms of your career path. You’ll need to kind of go back to square one with your new manager since old manager was pretty ineffective. Once you have some career goals lined up, I’d ask for a meeting with your manager (especially if your next performance review is at say, the end of this year) and on top of your career goals, go in with a handful of your big accomplishments that you spearheaded under old manager, if your job is metric based, make sure you have those metrics. I think being proactive here versus reactive is critical since you’re behind the 8 ball. Of course, tone and body language is of the upmost importance when you’re chatting with your manager since you don’t want to come off defensive (even though you have every right to be…man your old manager stunk.)

      Good luck!

      1. Frustrated*

        Next official (“official”… we don’t have actual tracked reviews here) review is in August.

        However, my direct manager has no say whatsoever in personnel decisions; that’s all the department head. I did have a sit-down with my current manager already and plan to schedule more one-on-ones with the department head moving forward to eliminate the degrees of separation, but I’m afraid the damage is done.

        I think the head down grinder employee is exactly how I’m seen. Unfortunately, the last head-down employee had a boss who advocated strongly for a promotion for him and was shut down soundly by the department head, which is in large part why I’m suddenly feeling desperate.

        1. Lazy Susan*

          Short term – the bright sparks of your office: how do they act in the office? Do they say hello to everyone, make eye contact, keep their heads up? Do they speak up in meetings, interact with officemates beyond work assignments? Answer their phones with a smile (I’m not saying fake being happy, answer your phone with a smile because it makes your voice sound pleasant to the caller)

          Copy them. Make yourself visible in the small ways, so that when you step up workwise, it is not a shock that a ‘grinder’ is now a star.

    5. Ms.Vader*

      Have you sat down with your new boss to go over specifics around what you did accomplish and get clarity on what exactly is missing? I would try that to get your next steps.

    6. Anon for Now*

      Have you talked to the department head and your new manager? Did the department head tell you directly that she didn’t think that you understood the basic tenets of your job? Or did you hear that through someone else?

      Either way I would be asking for a one-on-one with the department head and manager asking for more specifics. What is it about those basic tenets do they feel that you don’t understand? Is it possible that your previous manager provided you inaccurate instructions for one or more component?

      I also think it’s worthwhile asking specifically what benchmarks that you need to achieve in order to be considered for a promotion. I think that will tell you a lot. If they can’t provide actionable items for you to work on then it’s probably going to be better for you to look for something else. However, if they can, and they are open to working with you, then it may be just a sucky few months while you demonstrate your competence to them. You shouldn’t have to, but longer term it might help you.

      Sorry you are in this situation though! It stinks.

      1. Frustrated*

        The department head basically said that, but in not so many words. In our catch-up after this reorganization, she talked to me about how to better understand a very central part of my job, and it’s very distressing that she thinks I don’t already know these things.

        I have had a productive meeting with my manager, but she doesn’t have say over promotions/raises. That’s all our department head.

        1. Anon for Now*

          I would definitely be asking for a meeting with the department head. And I think you could bring up the fact that you are concerned that she doesn’t have confidence in your competence, and I think you could potentially ask her why she feels that way. Because there may be something that you’ve been doing that she doesn’t feel is the best practice or you may have been instructed incorrectly. Or she may not understand that you are competent. Asking those kind of questions, in an effort to gather more information from her, I suspect may help.

      2. King Friday XIII*

        I think this suggestion about asking for benchmarks is a good one. It can be hard to dig out of this kind of hole, and you shouldn’t feel too bad that your manager messed it up, but turnover can work in your favor as well – the director that thinks you’re not doing your job could just as easily move on.

        Definitely look around, if only to give yourself the confidence that you do have other options! But you’ve got a great opportunity to be very picky since you’ve got the basics covered where you are for the time being.

        1. Frustrated*

          Unfortunately, I don’t work in a very benchmarky field. I’ve been told what they want to see, but as I described above, I can’t make much headway on that front without getting opportunities that I’m currently not getting. As in, I can’t show my proficiency at X but I can’t demonstrate it because I am not involved in X (and it’s absolutely not the kind of thing I can push my way into without explicit invitation).

    7. CupcakeCounter*

      Do you have any documentation to pass along showing those tasks that you took on etc…? If so, I would set up a meeting with new manager along the lines of “I realize that we have a bit of a disconnect on my role and previous accomplishments. Can we set up a time so I can bring you up to speed on what I’ve been working on as well and see how that fits in with your vision for my role?”
      Then spell out your accomplishments and goals and ask what it takes to get there. Even if this doesn’t immediately change their mind about you, it might create a more positive impression and cause them to take a closer look at the work you are doing. Bring along any performance reviews you have copies of, proof of work on X projects, and anything you feel proud of.
      If you have any close coworkers who you have helped out of a bind maybe let them know what happened – if they are in good standing with new boss they might let drop in conversation that Frustrated is someone who is a great team player and can always be relied on and give examples if possible. I probably wouldn’t frame it as a “can you tell boss I don’t suck” just something that might come up naturally in a conversation.

    8. AnonyMouse*

      I’m in a sort of similar position right now. My supervisor is always going to view me as a student (because they knew me as a student) or at best “new professional,” especially since they have a newfound obsession with hiring more “experienced” people whenever there’s an opening. Despite working here for 1.5 years, I’m the lowest paid person in the office and two of the people making more than me have been here less than a year. My coworker was also recently promoted, even though we’re essentially doing the same job still. I feel like I’m being put in a position where I will never be taken seriously and the only remedy is to leave. I agree with your desire to want a fresh start in a different environment. That’s totally valid

    9. Argh!*

      Is your previous manager my current manager?

      HBR’s “Set-up-to-Fail Syndrome” perfectly captured my experience, so I’ll suggest it to you, too. If you have a new manager who isn’t subconsciously or consciously into sabotaging subordinates, it might pay to have a heart-to-heart about this issue.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      If you just want out then get out. Ramp up the job search and move on. It seems like the logical thing at this point as this is pretty rough stuff.

      Other suggestions:

      1) If you have a true work friend who is in a better spot that you, perhaps that person can give you some pearls of wisdom.

      2) Perhaps your new boss can allow you time to shadow or assist on one of the preferred projects so that you can gain some traction here. I know I have done this, I let a person do some things, then added more things and pretty soon they were doing the larger task with no questions from TPTB. Ask your new boss to help you think of ways you can break this vicious cycle and show off your abilities. I was one of those supervisors who would believe people and try to give them a shot at something when ever I could. The few times someone asked me directly for this type of assistance, I busted my butt to help them.

      3) If you are volunteering to do the jobs that no one likes, stop volunteering. For me this was super hard, I can’t stand seeing something being left undone. I had to learn to keep walking past it. I would do the PITA tasks if asked OR if I saw that others were starting to take their turns. But I had to teach myself to keep walking past my old habits.

      4) I have been in a position where I could not hire/fire but I supervised. As time went on I became more influential in terms of who was rehired (seasonal) and who was fired. So while your boss right now may have no say in hiring or firing that will change. It’s natural for the department head to be dependent on the supervisors a bit for inputs. There may be chances in the future where she could go in on this convo again and gain ground.

      5)Your old boss was ineffective you say. I am thinking that is probably a massive understatement and you probably won’t have to go too far to prove yet more ways she was ineffective. Try to think of specific ways to point out what went wrong and how you could get up to speed. Let’s suppose there is a spring training every year and you never got sent. Additionally you now know you should have been sent. Specifically ask to go to spring training. Go line item by line item, find a way to gather up the pieces of what you should have had right along. In my spring training example, you may find that they are totally shocked this basic thing was not in place. This may assist them in realizing how much they fell down on properly supporting you and they might agree to send you.

      6) Since you have your new boss’ ear, ask her if she will sit down with you and the department to really discuss this. You may have to go as far as saying “this company has a rep for hanging on to preconceptions”. Remember, chose your words and examples wisely. You are empowering your new boss to advocate for you effectively. So you need to role model the strong talking points that she will use to talk to her boss. I have often thought that we must provide our supervisors with the scripts for THEM to be persuasive with their boss.

      7) You sound like you are a nice person. I believe that being nice carries us farther than anything else. Since you have no history with new boss, it might be easiest to have nice conversations with her to build a plan of some sort. I know when I have no history with a new person, it’s much easier to keep my wits about me and not be up on the ceiling some where.

      Now that you have gotten through my long read (sorry) I have done some of these things to make a job work out for me. In the end, it was not worth it. My father used to say “When you need someone to explain to TPTB that you are doing a good job, then you need a NEW job.” The reason is that TPTB are not taking the time to find out what their staff is actually doing and how well they are doing it. You can’t fix that. You can try, but you will deal with variations on the problem for the rest of your time there.

      For me, I would ask myself, “Do I want to put massive energy into trying to fix this with no idea how it will land OR do I want to use my energy to get myself to a better place?” In this instance I would consider that I MIGHT be able to move out of the pit, but then I would be forced to watch other people– good people– get stuck in the same pit. And that would just be too much for me.

    11. Blue Eagle*

      This may not help you in the current job, but if your manager is not communicating to others your accomplishments, think about developing relationships with other people in your organization and let them know what you are doing and what you accomplished.

      For example – who do you go to lunch with, anyone from another department? – are there any opportunities for sports in your organization, talking with people in the softball, volleyball or golf league about what you are working on and your accomplishments will get you farther than just working late (where people might get the idea that you aren’t able to finish during regular hours).

      This suggestion isn’t meant that you do this in an overly overt way, but when you get to know people and see them around there are always opportunities to ask what is new in their departments and mention something significant that you have done. Word does get around. This isn’t a cure-all, but one possibility for getting your work better known when your manager isn’t at all helpful in this regard.

  2. Half-Caf Latte*

    I can’t stop thinking about the poor employee who should have today off for her birthday, but her manager is insane.

    1. NotReallyKarenWalker*

      I just poured out some of my coffee in honor of her lost day off. One of these years!

          1. AMT*

            The thing that bothered me the most was that the LW was capable of understanding that the policy needed to be flexible for people who had weekend birthdays — and yet couldn’t summon any of that flexibility for a leap-year birthday! I kind of wondered whether there was some personal dislike or grudge there.

            1. Beth Anne*

              Right! That is the thing that made no sense. I would be more understanding of the leap year employee if you only got the day off if your birthday was mon-friday but the fact that they gave people who’s birthdays landed on the weekend off but not leaday employee was jus sad :(

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                I suspect LW inherited the existing policy and doesn’t have a clue that it coul&should be changed!
                Bureaucracy at its worst.

                1. Snack Management*

                  Sounds about right. And the LW also doesn’t know how to interpret policy! If an existing policy actually spells out the flexibility of a weekend falling on a birthday, it doesn’t actually need to have anything that addresses leap year bdays. The framework of the policy upholds the concept of the next available work day as the birthday. It doesn’t even need to be rewritten!

            2. As Close As Breakfast*

              What makes this extra interesting is that the 29th of February is on a Saturday next year! So will the employee be given Friday or Monday off because their once-every-four-years birthday falls on a weekend???????????

    2. Antilles*

      Counterpoint: That employee should be *thanking* her boss for discovering the secret of eternal life. Humans have been looking for the Fountain of Youth for centuries (millennia, really), but apparently all we needed to do was write some bureaucratic policies!

    3. Evil_Sandwich*

      I’ve been looking forward to this thread all week specifically to comment on this draconian policy and sending well wishes to the affected employee. Happy happies to her and a nastygram to the LW.

    4. Interviewer*

      My kids asked me at dinner last night how to celebrate a Leap Year birthday. I told them you pick a day, either February 28 or March 1, and celebrate the anniversary every year – because you’re 365 days older, just like anyone else is.

      They instantly understood the concept. They are 13, 10 and 8 years old.

      It amazes me that manager couldn’t figure it out.

      1. BFF with a Leap Year Baby*

        One of my dearest friends is a Leap Year baby. She celebrates on 28 February, because she figures she was born in February. I would totally celebrate BOTH days, but that’s just me, I guess. :)

        1. Marthooh*

          Not just you! I’d go with both days, two parties, two cakes, two everything. Just to be on the safe side.

        2. Cathy Gale*

          You’re not alone. I was born at noon so I insist on celebrating my birthday from noon that day, all the way through noon the next day…minimum.

    5. Facepalm*

      Yes! I thought of her this morning because the Radio Classics channel was playing Dinah Shore episodes and the announcer mentioned she was born on Leap Day.

      1. Cathy Gale*

        It makes me happy to think there’s another AAM reader listening to Greg Bell occasionally.

    6. PhoebeBuffay*

      Embarassing for me that I completely missed this comment and essentially repeated it way below. Whoops! But I’m thinking of her too. Hopefully she’s enjoying another year at age 6, wherever she is!

      1. The Rat Catcher*

        Search “leap day,” the first result is the update with a link to the original. It’s all terrible.

    7. ElspethGC*

      My housemate’s dad is a leap year birthday, as I found out when she called him to wish him a happy birthday yesterday. I might send her that letter and ask what she thinks!

    8. Parenthetically*

      Oh man, yeah, raising my post-lunch tea to her, wherever she is — hopefully long gone from that recalcitrant nutbag’s employ.

    9. [insert witty username here]*

      My dad is a leap year baby so I told him about that when I called him yesterday on his “unbirthday.” What a ridiculous policy that was (is)!!!

    10. Quake Johnson*

      That letter still makes me SO MAD.
      I hope she finds a way to make the day special anyway.

    11. dramalama*

      I went back and reread the update for the morbid thrill of it all. The “people seemed to be unclear on the policy even though I stated it” paragraph still sends shivers down my spine.

    12. Phx Acct, now with dragons*

      I hope that manager still lurks and sees this, because the stance is insane. Happy Birthday to the employee, I hope she’s in a better job.

  3. JackBlue*

    I work in teapot design and administration. I will be starting a certification program in teapot digital marketing to enhance my skills and to make myself qualified for higher-level positions. Should I let my boss and colleagues know I am taking this certification course? After I finish I would like to see if I can get some exposure to tasks that are related to my course work on the job.

    My dilemma is that teapot marketing is usually an area done by our clients — we serve as contractors in support of our client’s operations. I don’t want to step on our client’s toes. And also, if there is no room for me to do teapot digital marketing in my current position I will most likely go job hunting. Will letting my boss and colleagues know signal to them that I am a flight risk? Would it be better for me to keep this info to myself?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I think if you’re in doubt about what their reaction is going to be, you should keep it to yourself.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      It doesn’t seem like there’s any good reason to tell them, so I would keep it to yourself.

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

      I don’t think it’ll signal that you’re a flight risk. Unless your boss is completely unreasonable, they already know that anyone can leave at any time and that employees are always looking for improved financial and lifestyle opportunities — the way they overcome that is by offering competitive salary/benefits and a good work environment. You know them best so take into account what your experience is, but I don’t see an automatic need to keep it a secret. As far as “client’s toes” — well, you don’t really own them, or anyone, to keep yourself small and unobtrusive. If you can offer a skill to your employer, or another employer, you have that right. It might even parlay you into a better job with one of your previous clients.

    4. Mrs_helm*

      If this is what your clients do, can you possibly frame it as “doing this will help me better understand client’s needs”? Sure, that’s not WHY you’re doing it, but it still shows growth and value, and enables you to do this without being secretive about it.

    5. Lisa*

      Background – I’ve been in the industry now known as digital marketing for twenty years.

      Depending on who you are communicating this to, and their own level of expertise in digital marketing, you may need to be careful about your phrasing. if you do say something. In particular about it being a “certification.” In this industry, the only certifications that carry much weight are the ones that are issued by vendors for their own marketing technology platforms. You can get certified in certain CRMs, marketing automation tools, analytics tools, advertising systems, etc. but those are specific to the technology platform. There is no one in the field of digital marketing with the authority to say that JackBlue is now a Certified Digital Marketer. Digital marketing (along with a number of other internet-based professions) is so vast and rapidly changing and squishy in its definition that even the experts aren’t really experts, and the more expert they are, they more they know that it isn’t something you can become proficient in by taking a class.

      Now, if you were able to position it as, “Hey, I’m interested in expanding my skillset into digital marketing, and I’m taking a class to help me get started, but I’d like to find a way to put those skills to work – are there projects I could pitch in on?” you might get somewhere. Maybe you could sit in on client meetings where it gets discussed, maybe there are some basic tasks no one enjoys but that would be new to you – pulling reports, social listening, content QA – that your company or your company’s clients would welcome some help with. That gets you in the door and then, if you do have aptitude for it, that’s likely to show and you may get tasked with more.

      That type of hands-on involvement, more than official training, is generally how I’ve seen people move into this field.

      But don’t assume that your boss or colleagues, or prospective future employers, are going to see your training and certification as evidence of any qualifications. And be prepared to unlearn half of what you’ve learned. It’s that kind of a field.

    6. Sam Sepiol*

      If there is any way people could find out without you telling them, I’d tell them, because if they find out without you having mentioned it they will ABSOLUTELY jump to conclusions about why.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Some bosses/offices will see this as a sign that you are going to leave. But, it is a fact of life that people do eventually leave jobs. Is leaving seen as bad (or a betrayal) at your current job?

      Some bosses/offices see employees gaining skills as a good thing, especially with your own time and money. This is great, JackBlue will be able to assist us with this new skill/training!

      Which office/boss do you work for?

      Good luck and good for you for learning new skills!

  4. A Tale of Two Teams*

    I’ve worked for three years as administrative support for Team A. My supervisor was a director of Team A but left the company. Despite there being other Team A directors, I was assigned to a director from Team B. No job/title/duty change, just the director of a different team. She’s been fairly hands off; I get more than enough direction and tasks from the Team A directors. At review time, she gave me a good review and said that if I needed anything, I could come to her.

    Today, she dropped by my desk out of the blue, asking if I want to be completely part of Team B in a different position l. Now if I want to move up in the company, I would need to go to Team B; there’s no where else I can go in Team A. Team B does have positions I could grow into. However, Team B is notoriously overworked. They have high turn-over and have a lot of burned out employees who are eager to leave. I half think the reason she’s asking this right now is because Team B is understaffed and I could fill a position with less training than an outside hire; they’ve done this before with people from other teams.

    I don’t want to go to Team B. In fact, my director who left said he would be open to me moving to Team B because that would allow me to move up in the company; I thanked him and said I’d keep that in mind but I was very happy with where I was right now. I don’t want to move up in this company due to how overworked other teams/positions are. I don’t plan to stay here forever, I was actually starting to put thought into what’s next if I don’t want to move up. This direct ask took me by surprise. How can I nicely tell the Team B director that I don’t want to move to her team? I’m worried that if I say I’m happy where I am, in a position that has no upward motion, she’ll wonder if I’m thinking of looking elsewhere, which I am but have barely started that thought process; I wouldn’t actually be in a hurry to leave any time soon.

    1. Youth*

      My department manager has made some noise about moving me into the position above mine. It involves travel, which I would love, but it also involves being client-facing, which I would not. Also, I’m trying to get out of my company and didn’t want to take on a new role only to leave it.

      I turned her down basically by saying, “No thank you, I’m happy where I’m at and with the work I’m doing.” Could you do something similar–just say that you’re not interested in a change right now? Basically tell the Team B director the same thing you told your old Team A director.

    2. Blue*

      When I found myself in the position of not wanting an obvious promotion opportunity, I told my boss, “Thank you for thinking of me; I’m very happy to hear that you’re so impressed with my work. But from what I’ve observed, the opportunities that exist in Team B don’t really fit what I want to be doing, professionally. I would far prefer to continue focusing my attention on X, Y, and Z projects, which you know I really enjoy and I think really utilize my strengths.” In my case, that was enough to get him to let it go.

      But…it also inspired him to start asking more questions about my professional ambitions. I was honest with him, and my replies definitely implied that I’d leave at some point in the not-immediate-but-not-distant future. That was ok because he was a reasonable person and supportive boss, but it’d be a very bad idea if your boss might hold that against you. If that were the case, I think you stick with vague, non-committal, and possibly false statements about your future plans.

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

      How good will the bump up on Team B look on a resume? Since you’re already putting thought into moving on, think strategically. Can you work on Team B for any amount of time in order to have a nice promotion or bullet point on your resume? I often think that burn out is partially the employees fault too — set boundaries, work your best but go home when you’re mentally done for the day, manage your own availability so you can leave work behind when you leave the office… But if you don’t want to, then just say you don’t. However, it may also be that she’s “asking”…but not really asking…if the business needs people on Team B and they don’t really need your position on Team A anymore, you may not have a choice.

      1. ChachkisGalore*

        Oh I think this is a good point – in that if you join Team B with the plan to leave (not necessarily quickly, but if you have an end in sight – whether its 1 year or 2 years or whatever), it might be easier to manage the stress of the extra work. You also might not have the same internal pressure to put in all of those extra hours (and it might be easier to enforce boundaries) if you know you’re not looking to stay long term or get ahead in that dept.

      2. A Tale of Two Teams*

        Trust me, I work closely with Team B; they are overworked because because of bad company policy where of taking on way more work than resources can handle. And there are no work boundaries to be enforced; the company expects people to be available 24/7.

        Why do you assume employees getting overworked is their own fault, not bad management? In my last job, a truly terrible job, I was overworked because my two peers left and my manager decided I could cover all their work. I threw up a red flag when I needed help but my manager ignored me and expected me to get everything done, no questions asked.

        Also I do think the director was asking because the directors of Team A, the one who hired me and give me my day to say tasks, have plenty for me to do. While they’d let me transfer if I asked to have more growth, I don’t think they want to eliminate my position. Where I am now is a position that cycled through several people before I came; I’ve lasted the longest and expanded the role so they’d have to start over if/when I leave. I don’t think the needs of Team B trump the needs of Team A in this case.

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

          “Why do you assume employees getting overworked is their own fault, not bad management?” No one can take advantage of you without your permission… in life and at work. The answer is be firm, set your own boundaries and live them; you don’t need to cede control to your boss to set a work boundary. Get up and go home at the end of your day. Turn off or silence the phone. Don’t answer emails on vacation. If a task CAN’T be completed with the resources given, do your best, alert your boss, but let it go uncompleted.

          1. A Tale of Two Teams*

            You’ve not worked in a toxic work environment before then. Or a 24/7 industry. In the cast of the past toxic job, when I pushed back, saying I couldn’t do the work, my manager said do it anyway. When I let work slip because I couldn’t keep up, I was written up and reprimanded for not doing the work of three people.

            In current job, the industry is a 24/7 one. Everyone, even the directors are always on call. It’s expected in this industry and, if you don’t agree to that, you’re fired. The problem isn’t the long hours, the problem is the company demanding that we accept the request of every customer that comes through the door even if we don’t have the resources to actually give service to all of them. That’s why Team B is being overworked, to keep up with the demand of the hire-ups. No one has actually been fired because they need every hand on deck but if someone wasn’t doing what was asked of them, they would taken to task for not pulling their own weight.

            1. valentine*

              No one can take advantage of you without your permission
              This just isn’t true and it’s victim-blaming.

              A Tale of Two Teams: On Team B, you could end up with everyone’s leftovers instead of your own work/role/path. Tell her, “I’m very happy where I am and look to stay for the foreseeable future.” And maybe ask the guy who hired you if you can be slotted under a Team A director, who better knows your work.

              1. Pippa*

                I agree with Valentine. It’s an old Ann Lamders (I think?) line, but it’s just not true in any context involving power differences. (In this particular context, it sounds like Tale of Two Teams can protect her/himself by not taking the new position, so it’s just the old cliche I’m objecting to here)

          2. A Tale of Two Teams*

            Sorry, I didn’t mean for my response to sound harsh. I was having flashbacks from Old Toxic Job and was feeling stressed about what’s popping up at current job. Didn’t mean to take it out on you.

          3. Catleesi*

            Doing this could cause you to lose your job though, depending on how vital your boss thinks the tasks are. Simply leaving things undone is not always an option, and a lot of people cannot afford to be out of work.

    4. LaDeeDa*

      Are the growth positions in Team A the same as the positions in Team B? If not, I would say “I would like to be able to do X position on Team A, so I think it would be beneficial to stay connected to that team.”
      That way she would know you are looking to grow, and not satisfied where you are, but that your path is different than the positions she has.

    5. Dasein9*

      There is an image of a letter purported to be from E.B. White making the rounds of my FB friends right now. In response to an invitation, the note says, “I must decline, for secret reasons.”

      You are free to do that.

      I wouldn’t be quite so blatant as to say “for secret reasons,” but you can decline with very minimal reasons, alluding at most to a “complicated personal life at this time” or some such formula that essentially lets the manager know that your reasons aren’t on the negotiating table.

    6. M*

      If it’s not really a secret that Team B has an extremely high workload, and the director seems reasonable, there’s a pretty solid case for just *saying* that. i.e. “I really appreciate the offer! I’m quite happy in my current position, and a big part of that is because the workload is very manageable on a day-to-day basis. I know Team B has more upward mobility, but I’m not in a place in my life where I could commit to the overtime required to do that role justice. I’d be happy to talk about future roles when they open up, but it’s not something I could do right now.” That shouldn’t raise too many red flags about why you’re staying in a position with no upward mobility – because the kind of people who stay in a role that’s massively overworked are the kind of people who tend to see that as the cost of *being* upward-mobile – and she’s pretty likely to just assume that you’re not that ambitious. Given you don’t plan to progress within your current company, that’s not exactly going to hurt you.

    7. ..Kat..*

      Are you able to be honest and give a reasonable explanation for staying with team A? “I notice that team B works long hours. Because of family commitments. I am only able to work 40 hours a week.” Note that family commitments can include your commitment to yourself to have a balanced life with sane working hours.

  5. Not So Super-visor*

    Short Version: Help! My boss hijacks interviews and takes them on nonsequitar conversation paths.
    Long version: after at least 2 decades of relying on temp-to-hire, I’ve been steadily making a case to stop using temps and rely on direct hire over the 4 years in my position. After a recent round of disasterous temps, I finally swung my boss’ boss to my side. We’ve begun interviewing, and I put in a lot of research and work into coming up with meaningful questions and a good flow for interviews that I think will encourage meaningful conversation. I’m manager level and would ultimately make any hiring decisions, but my boss insists on coming to all interviews. This wouldn’t be a problem, but he frequently goes off topic. In one interview, he went on a long tear about the changing racial demographic of the area. I was mortified. Other sermons have included that rising cost of health care and millenial work ethic. I try my best to steer the train back onto the tracks, but I end up feeling frustrated and like we didn’t put our best foot forward. What do I do here?

    1. starsaphire*

      Oh my God.

      Well, you can’t put duct tape over his mouth, sadly. Can you schedule interviews at times when he’s booked with other meetings?

      I really hope he’s not influencing your company in any meaningful way, because, wow.

    2. OperaArt*

      Those aren’t just non sequiturs. Those are probably red flags in many interviewees’ opinions. I wouldn’t want to accept a job in a place that has the apparent culture your boss might be creating.
      Is there any way you can deflect your boss from being in the room at all? Couch it in terms of how much of his valuable time these interviews take?

      1. Dust Bunny*


        Many Jobs Ago had a personnel manager who actually said out loud that they should try to hire married women from now on so they could be on their husbands’ insurance. That probably wasn’t legal but it didn’t occur to me at the time. But it didn’t make me feel good about working there and was one of many things that lit a fire under me to find another job.

        1. Equestrian Attorney*

          Also I’m a married woman and my husband is on my insurance – did that not occur to your boss?

      2. Friday afternoon fever*

        ….as an interviewee, if I would be at all supervised by your boss, I would actually consider it a blessing to have your boss in these interviews because it would give me enough information to self-select out of the process right away.

        Is this interview process an accurate depiction of what working with your boss is like? If so I think it’s fair to the interviwees to let your boss be themselves, even if it feels dismaying to you.

    3. Rachel*

      Wow. Does your HR provide any guidance on how to hire? At one of my previous companies, even low-level employees who might do a “group interview” for a new co-worker or boss were REQUIRED to read and sign off on HR documents regarding appropriate interview questions, confidential information etc.

      If there isn’t some literature available, maybe you can suggest it become the norm to “help with appropriate interviews” without calling your boss out directly. Or even just send him some info “that I found useful”.

      1. Artemesia*

        I’d try something like this. Make is seem like a legal requirement to have a script going in and asking everyone the same questions. It is stupid but might be a way to manage this person. And I agree, these are flapping red flags — racist boss who hates millennials is not a good look while hiring.

    4. Dragoning*

      Is he like this in a normal work environment? Because unfortunately, I think you have to let candidates select out if they don’t want a boss’s boss who is going to randomly break into a tangent about millennial work ethic.

      As a millennial, I sure wouldn’t.

      1. Frozen Ginger*

        I mean, for all we know his rant is about how great our work ethic is and how terrible it is that other people don’t recognize the difficult circumstances of when we came into adulthood…
        (But it probably isn’t)

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Really, I feel your pain. You are trying to find the best people by presenting your company’s best self. I’m sorry to say that it kind of doesn’t have one. It has good parts; it has probably less good parts. It may not have any bad parts, but it does have a big old crazy part. And that is driving the bus right now.
      Looking at the big picture, do you see now why your department went temp to perm? Might be due to boss being incapable of interviewing. If there’s no way to end this, maybe find a way to morph temp to perm with some interviewing.
      You could phone screen a candidate but explain you need at least half an hour to ask and answer questions because it’s a temp to perm position and you really are looking to hire a candidate.
      Is this an end run?

    6. irene adler*

      Can you do the first round or rounds of interviews alone? Or at least without boss participating in them?
      Tell him it’s to save his valuable time. He’ll be brought in for the final candidates and not before.

      Let him review your list of questions. And ask if he’s got any questions or topics you might include.

      Let him be involved with the resume reviewing before any interviews are scheduled, so that he feels “involved” in the process.

      The monopolizing of the interview with ‘sermons’ is going to look like a red flag for the job candidate. Maybe share that thought with boss?

      Or, suggest to boss that the more WE talk, the less WE learn about the candidate. And the less likely you’ll be surprised by something post-hire you didn’t find out pre-hire. Can he find it in him to let the candidate do more of the talking? Or suggest to him that he be more of an observer/listener to pick up on things you might miss as you conduct the interview.

      Or might discuss with boss an interview ‘strategy’ – along with the list of your interview questions. Explain the reasoning behind each of your interview questions (“This one should tell us how in-depth their knowledge is with software X, this question is to find out how they multi-task, this question will tell us what they are looking for in a work environment”, etc.-you get the idea). Explain that you want to accomplish certain things by the end of the interview. You want to have a good assessment of the candidate’s software knowledge, temperament, availability, how they handle clients, interest in the position, skill levels, etc.
      Then ask him to explain the reasoning behind his interview actions. Ask him what he expects to learn about the candidate with his interview style. Then see how he responds. Maybe there’s method to his madness (though I doubt it).

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Love these suggestions.

        I spend a lot of time managing up, and this is the sort of thing that tends to work. Especially because then in the cringe-worthy moment, I can interject with words we already used between the two of us and dislodge him from his yammering.

      2. OhNo*

        I like the idea of suggesting a listener role to the boss – it might encourage him to keep his mouth shut for a minute. Of course, the fallout might be that then you are the exclusive audience to the lecture after the candidate leaves, but if it works…

        If you think it might help, you can suggest sort of a good cop/bad cop arrangement. As in, “I’ll be the ‘good cop’ who asks questions, is friendly with the candidate, and teases out detailed responses. You be the ‘bad cop’ that looks important and intimidating (and silent) in the background, so they know you’re the one they need to impress.”

    7. Shark Whisperer*

      How good are you at telling when he’s about to go on a rant? If you can catch him towards the beginning, maybe you can interrupt him and say “Bob! Can you hold that thought? We only have limited time with [Interviewee] and I want to make sure we can through all of my questions and all of her questions. We can circle back to this at the end.” and then hope he forgets about whatever he wanted to rant about by the end of the interview.

    8. The Ginger Ginger*

      Since you have buy in from boss’s boss for this hiring, can you reach out to them about this? Just lay out the problems your having in the hiring process with your boss in the room? Because this will serious jeopardize your ability to hire these roles. I would be opting out if I were an interviewee.

    9. Orange You Glad*

      Can you schedule your interviews in a way so you each meet with the candidate separately? I’m assuming your boss is inviting himself along so he can meet the candidates and be informed by your final decision. You could try to meet with the candidate first, hold what would be you typical interview, and then let your boss come in and meet the candidate at the end with a time limit. Frame it as saving him time as you won’t introduce him to any non-serious candidates. This doesn’t stop him from going off topic during his time, but at least you can get a genuine interview out of the candidate before it goes off rails?

    10. Adminx2*

      Must you interview together? Schedule him a 10 minute sit down, then you get the 20 minute in depth time. You both interview the candidate and you don’t have to fuss about interrupting your bad interviewing boss.
      Plus if you haven’t created a solid scoring system yet, do that!

      1. valentine*

        No. At least Not So Super-visor is a witness to the horror.

        If you hired me, you’d be the bad guy, once I found out you stopped him interviewing and you don’t mitigate his -isms.

    11. Parenthetically*

      Ohhhhhhhh my gods. If I had ANY other options, I would not work for a dude who went on racist, classist, ageist rants in an interview. My thought process would be, “If this dude talks like this in an INTERVIEW when he’s supposed to be trying to make a good impression, what’s he going to be like after working for him for six months?!”

      Step one: pitch it to him as, “Hey, I don’t want to waste your valuable time on first-round interviews. It’s too much work for you to put in and I want to rise to this challenge from Grandboss and see if I can refine this system and bring in a good employee.”

      Step two: go to Grandboss and explain that you’ve spent a lot of time on preparation for these interviews and want to really knock it out of the park on your own, and you feel like Boss is influencing the interviews too much and not giving you the chance to do what Grandboss asked you to do. This is your project, and you deserve to be able to do it independently. Whether you add in any of the rants Boss is going on would depend on your relationship with Grandboss, but I think you can at least start by just talking about Boss’s influence in the process when it’s really your baby and not his.

    12. senior jobseeker*

      I had the same problem. I had well prepared a common framework for all interviews, but my boss came in, and started with a long talk about the institute and own achievements there. That was followed by some general and specific but uninformative questions. They were not straightforward illegal but quite useless and sometimes across boundaries. At the end I had no time for the relevant questions to test how the applicant would cope with the intended tasks.

      I could not resolve the problem – the boss was too authoritarian to take advice from me. We had no HR and discussing with grandboss would have been outrageous. Little by little our relations worsened and finally I was fired (and since then looking for a permanent job).

      Good luck, it will not be easy.

    13. Marthooh*

      Maybe you should just let the boss rant his little heart out. Maybe you owe that much warning to your potential coworkers-to-be.

  6. Anonymous Educator*

    I had a very strange experience applying for a university job recently.

    At first, I was very impressed with the online application. After I uploaded my résumé, the system automatically scanned the résumé and successfully translated out all the pieces (where I’d worked, what company, start and end dates, bullet points). There was no spot for a cover letter, but there was a tiny section (a text box about three lines long) asking why you’re interested in the position. And then there were just a bunch of multiple-choice questions, including dollar ranges for how much you would want to make in the position.

    But then I got an automated response a couple of days later saying that I was excluded from the applicant pool because my salary requirements had disqualified me. What? I mean, I guess it’s like The Price Is Right, and you just have to guess what their range for the position is (it’s not listed in the job description)?

    I’m used to that sort of thing possibly excluding you in a non-automated way (an interviewer asks you what range you’re looking for), but at least with a human being asking you, there’s a possibility for wiggle room.

    I don’t think this can be said enough: folks listing jobs, if you’re going to exclude candidates based on their salary requirements being too high, save everyone time and energy by just listing the range you’re willing to pay for the position. Yes, almost every candidate will think she deserves the top of your range, but you should be able to reasonably explain why certain candidates would get the bottom of the range, the middle of the range, or the top of the range. You have a budget. Stop playing games.

    1. Alex*

      I agree completely, but one thing to try for next time is to see if you can find the university’s hiring range for particular job grades, and see if you can find the job grade in the job listing. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t, but I’ve applied to a lot of university jobs and often you can figure it out by doing that even if they don’t list a salary in the listing itself.

      (They still should stop playing games, but we all know they aren’t going to.)

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I checked Glassdoor beforehand, but there wasn’t anything for that exact type of job. I did my best guess, but apparently my best guess wasn’t good enough for them!

        1. Prof*

          If it’s a public school, all salary data is available online. You can also use public school salary data to estimate the salary for a comparable job in a private school in the same region.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            It’s a private school. I thought, based on public school salary data for nearby colleges, that I was guessing the correct range for this position, but apparently my guess was wrong!

            1. Triplestep*

              I applied for a job at a private schoo; the job grade was listed, and the corresponding salaries findable via Google search. When I had the phone interview, I was able to say I’d be happy with the range because I had looked it up. Salaries in academia are some of the most easy to find in my experience.

            2. ..Kat..*

              Private schools can be different. Especially if they have a “mission.” You are expected to be so dedicated to the mission that you will work for peanuts. If you proposed a reasonable salary range and they rejected you based on that, consider yourself lucky. But, you are correct. It would be nice (and more efficient) if they posted the salary range. That way a person could self select themselves out without the work of applying.

        2. Alex*

          I meant on the university’s own HR site, not an external site. Lots of universities have standard job grades and have information available on their websites about them (mostly for their own employees). If you connect the dots of how to find the job grade and then find the description of the job grade, you can often find out what their internal processes are. At least, this is how it works at the university where I currently work and some other places I’ve applied.

      2. n*

        This is a great suggestion. I’ve had surprising luck Googling this in the past. Jost post lists something like: “Paygrade: A07.” Google: “UniversityName paygrade A07.” Found lots of message boards with folks discussing the salary ranges.

        Won’t always work but worth a shot.

    2. Help Me, Help You*

      My company also doesn’t include pay range in our job listings and it’s really annoying from the hiring manager perspective too. Yes, I know what the pay range is for the jobs that I’m hiring and if you’re like, waaayyy above it, yeah I’ll remove you from the pool. But if you pick a range right above the range of the job… who knows?! Maybe that’s the range you want and you won’t take the job for less. Maybe you’re fine taking less (obviously everyone wants more) and you just kind of guessed a number. I already have to sort through so many stupid resumes and it’s really annoying to find a good one only for their pay range to be three above what I know they’ll get. It wastes my time and the applicant’s time. Our system also doesn’t allow for a cover letter, so I’m basically hiring in the dark. HR has heard this complaint many times, from myself and my coworkers and they just kind of shrug it off.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, thanks for that perspective. It’s definitely not always the hiring manager’s fault. Lots of times there are rules about how the jobs get listed that are out of the control of the hiring manager.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I agree. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to guess. Also, I hate going through interviews only to find out I could make more at McDonald’s.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Presumably it would be frustrating for them, too, but (as Help Me, Help You pointed out above) sometimes listing the salary is even out of the hiring manager’s hands.

        I just found it jarring for it to be such an automated screening process. I mean, they were listing things much higher than what I selected ($120K-140K, and even $140K and more) in the drop-down menu. Why? I mean, clearly they have a range, even if it’s broad range. Why give people a drop-down menu selection, and then automatically penalize for selecting the wrong option?

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yep… I think we all have a great sounding job that we realized didn’t pay basic bills. Because it’s exciting and we’ll pay our dues and… yep.

    4. IvyGirl*

      My University has the salary ranges for each job level and posts that typical starting salaries are in the bottom third of that range. Like this is literally stated there.

      So say the job is posted as a grade A7 – that range would be $35,000.00 – $55,000.00, so the hiring salary for that wouldn’t top $45K. If someone puts a salary requirement of $60,000.00, they would be excluded.

      It’s safer to state “negotiable” for consideration, if that is an option in the application.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        There was no such option in the drop-down menu. And this particular university did not list a range on the job description or “grade.”

    5. SavannahMiranda*

      How galling. I used to work for state government. If you find a similar posting in the future and want to apply, seek out your state’s public salary listings, and use it to gauge your expectations and requests.

      Almost all states have public listings of salary levels for all of the various roles. The lists can be hard to find, so you have to Google-Fu. And they can be a bit byzantine with the titles, descriptions, and levels. It’s public but takes some insight and imagination to decipher. But if you can come to a good estimation where the job you’re applying for lands on the schedule, it can give you a much better sense of what’s reasonable or possible.

      Almost all state positions pay less than the private sector, so that’s also a thing. Usually not disastrously less, at least not when you are first hired on. But other perks are meant to compensate (state holidays, quality insurance, retirement plans, longevity, and the like). So it’s entirely possible that your perfectly reasonable salary expectations were $10-12k higher than the position is mandated for in the schedules. All the more reason to seek the public salary lists.

      That was an awful experience. Good luck for next time!

    6. senior jobseeker*

      Very strange that they even ask for that, given that most universities tend to have their fixed scales that are hardly negotiable. I never gave and never was asked any salary requirement when applying for universities, but never was offered a university job in the USA (though some claimed I was close to top, but who knows what is close).

      The normal way to give salary range should be to write in the announcement 30 000 – 50 000 £$€ per annum, so that applicants know that you will get the lower end unless you can convince them that you are worth more and will not accept the offer with less than you give. (In some locations, particularly in the UK, you have to give your current salary to demonstrate that you want more.)

      There is nonzero probability that the application was not rejected by computer but human interference, i.e. someone knew you and rejected for personal reasons, taking the salary requirement as excuse and masking it as automatic rejection. Stranger things happen in academia.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        The normal way to give salary range should be to write in the announcement 30 000 – 50 000 £$€ per annum, so that applicants know that you will get the lower end unless you can convince them that you are worth more and will not accept the offer with less than you give.

        This is how I’ve seen it on most university websites. This one in particular has no announcement of salary range or grade, though.

        There is nonzero probability that the application was not rejected by computer but human interference, i.e. someone knew you and rejected for personal reasons, taking the salary requirement as excuse and masking it as automatic rejection. Stranger things happen in academia.

        You mean knows me personally? I doubt it. I don’t know anyone at that university. It’s possible someone saw my résumé, decided to reject me, and then had to pick from her own drop-down menu on the reason for rejection and just selected that, because there were no better choices to select from, yes.

      2. Mellow*

        “There is nonzero probability that the application was not rejected by computer but human interference, i.e. someone knew you and rejected for personal reasons, taking the salary requirement as excuse and masking it as automatic rejection.”

        Nonzero probability?


        It’s a poorly-designed portal that disqualifies on something so ridiculous as one’s inability to predict a salary requirement, and it’s mortifying.

        I don’t at all blame the OP for being beyond frustrated. I don’t know if this applies to the OP, but I was unemployed in my field for a whole year three years ago. I questioned my educational and vocational choices that whole time. To have been disqualified at the application stage because I happened to miss the mark on naming a salary would have been particularly maddening.

        Just list the fucking salary or salary range already and let applicants decide if it’s a good fit for their budget.

        Good grief.

    7. AshK434*

      If it’s a university position, they probably do make that information available in a roundabout way. Was there a salary grade listed in the job description? If so you could google “University salary grade” and that usually leads to useful results

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I mentioned upthread that there is no grade attached to the position. There is no payscale listed on this university’s website. I know that’s not typical, but it actually is the case here. I’m assuming people mean well with their responses, but I’m honestly starting to feel a little gaslit here. Trust me. There is no pay grade listed. It’s a pay scale listed anywhere on the university’s website.

        I feel like I came in here and said “Can you believe they asked me to pick a salary range from this drop-down menu, and then just automatically disqualified me?” and then a bunch of folks came back with “Well, you know, you could guess the salary better if you…”

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          For real. I found many of the replies really frustrating on your behalf for that reason.

  7. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

    At my current job I’m a jack of all trades. I’m struggling with figuring out how to simplify and organize everything I do on a resume. My duties include:

    -Customer service
    -Management and training of admin staff
    -Accounts payable and receivable
    -Service contracts
    -Maintaining business association memberships
    -Exhibitor registration and facilities at trade shows
    -Keeping company current on state certifications and licensing
    -Developing organizational procedures, streamlining processes, etc.
    -Copyediting of company documents

    Even if I do just one bullet point per item it leaves me with a resume that’s too long. I got feedback on my resume from someone who reviews resumes for a living and she said hiring managers just want a brief overview; they’re not going to read a lot of text. She suggested including a list of soft skills instead of detailing everything I do, but I worry that falls into the realm of “telling, not showing.” Obviously if I’m applying for, say, an accounts payable position I would highlight those duties and would leave out what doesn’t apply to the job description. But for more general admin positions I’m not sure what to omit.

    In addition, nothing I do involves quantifiable accomplishments as Alison suggests putting on a resume. It’s more like, “Didn’t screw up and forget to do something that keeps the company ticking along.” It’s a small company so there are no awards, no metrics for success, nothing. Most everything I do is behind the scenes, keeping things running smoothly and not letting things slip through the cracks. I have no clue how to organize my resume because my work experience doesn’t seem to fit the mold. Any advice?

    1. BeanCat*

      What about narrowing it down to your strongest skills for admin positions? Also, I think you can make quantifiable achievements for those – maybe you quickly and accurately process teapot registrations, or something like that.

      Good luck!

    2. WellRed*

      Well for starters, ditch the less important ones (maintaining business association memberships, meh). Same with things that are less relevant to what you want to do. “Copyediting documents” isn’t really that impressive unless you are trying to get an editing job, but “developing organizational procedures” is. Also look at how you can group certain things together, for example, “handled all bookkeeping duties including AP and AR”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      Your résumé is a marketing document, not a comprehensive list of everything you’ve ever done at every single job.

      What I’d do is keep a “source” résumé that has absolutely everything, and then make a copy of that every time you apply for a new job, and then trim the copy down to whatever you think highlights your accomplishments best for the job you’re applying for. It’s also okay to mention in the cover letter other things that are relevant to the position that just won’t fit in as bullet points on your résumé.

    4. Roses Angel*

      Can you combine or drop some of your bullet points? Like drop bookkeeping but combine clerical, customer service, service contracts etc under a miscellaneous bullet point?

    5. Nonni*

      Something Alison has said in the past is that your resume should highlight the difference between how you do your job and how someone bad at their job would do it. Even if you don’t have quantifiable metrics (I know I don’t), that’s a good place to start.

    6. Anon For This*

      Metrics for success don’t have to be predefined. They can just be things you’re proud of having done. Even if it’s just “never forgot the thing” you can point out that you get your work done promptly and well within deadlines every time, that your attention to detail means that nothing gets behind, etc.

    7. Overeducated*

      Put your duties in buckets and make each one of them a bullet point. I’m not sure exactly what they would be, but maybe something like:

      -External relations: customer service, business memberships, exhibitions and trade shows
      -Office administration: clerical and copy editing, supervising admin staff, streamlining procedures
      -Financial management: bookkeeping, accounts payable and receivable, service contracts
      -State certifications and licensing could be in its own bucket, or maybe combined with other compliance areas? Depends on your field how important this is to highlight.

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        I want to add to this that you can include a line showing a specific goal or achievement.
        External relations: Successfully providing customer service by creating and maintaining a list of FAQs to be used by myself and other on calls and email inquiries.
        Something specific that you did differently and better and especially if you shared it.

    8. JR*

      I think you can narrow those into a few accomplishments or at least things close to accomplishments by grouping like items and focusing on the underlying skills that let you do these things well. Like, a few of these look to be about relationship management and representing the company externally. Several look to be about streamlining operations – careful attention to details, etc.

    9. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

      Thank you for your replies, everyone! It’s exactly the sort of input I needed. I think I needed a fresh perspective on this. Now I have a lot of helpful tips now thanks to this great community.

      1. Anonym*

        A piece of advice I got recently that was very helpful: if there’s an aspect of your job you don’t want to do in the future, don’t include it on your resume.

        Best of luck!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Yes! I was updating LinkedIn and noticed someone recommended me for a function I intentionally left off… I twitched because I don’t want ANYONE to know how much experience I have moving llama poop.

    10. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I find that if you put the skills in context, rather than just listing them, it’s easier to address “themes” of the value that you provide.
      I have folks say their resume element out loud and then I ask, “so what?”. If they can’t explain what the organization got out of the fact that the teapot reports were filed, then it doesn’t go in. Or more context gets added so that suddenly I find out that the admin wrangled all of the documentation for the sales and marketing team and created summary reports for decision makers. Which is so much better than “Completed the monthly TPS report.”

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

      You can tailor your resume to match the jobs you are applying for. If the job description is focused on customer service type job duties, highlight those and drop off or combine finance bullet points. I would also start adding more quantifiable detail — “Management and training of admin staff” — how many staff? trained on basic duties or specialized training?; “Maintaining business association memberships” is this just mailing in a membership check or do you attend association meetings as your employer liaison? If it’s just mailing the check, take it off.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Combine things.

      AP and AR are bookkeeping, are you doing full cycle?

      What are you trying to get a job doing? Eliminate basic clerical tasks or condense them depending on where you’re applying!

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I have a master resume and I subtract the things that would probably be of no interest to a specific employer.

      Another thing you can consider is when you say you do X, there might be times when a reader would assume you can do Y and Z also. You don’t have to spell it all out.

    14. twig*

      In addition to tailoring your resume according to the positions that you are applying for — if there are job duties that you have been performing, that you’d rather not do going forward — leave those off of your resume.

      Just because you can do something — even do it well, doesn’t mean that you HAVE to do it in your next job.

      (For example — I might leave student worker supervision off of my resume even though I supervise 4-5 student workers because I HATE it.)

  8. SarahTheEntwife*

    Does anyone know of a distraction blocker browser plugin that *doesn’t* completely lock down blacklisted sites? I ideally want something that will pop up a confirmation box if I go on social media or whatever and make me actually think about whether I want to go on Facebook yet again.

    1. epi*

      You could get close with LeechBlock. I used it at a previous job.

      If you visit a page you’ve decided to block, you’ll be redirected to a message explaining why your LeechBlock settings prevent it. You can further set a password or access code to get into LeechBlock’s settings– that is what will make you stop and think, in practice. LeechBlock lets you set a time limit for certain sites, so you can go to Facebook but will get cut off after 20 minutes in a certain period; or set a time period when sites are blocked; or a combination. I highly recommend it.

      Another option would be to use the privacy or adblocking software you may already have installed on your browser. Deliberately block a few widgets or services that will break your favorite sites. You’ll visit them, they’ll look messed up, you’ll have to temporarily whitelist them or pause Ghostery (or whatever).

    2. SavannahMiranda*

      Block Site – Website Blocker for Chrome.

      It’s a Chrome extension that you set up with the sites you want blocked. If you try to go to one (or unwittingly follow a link on another site to one of them), you must enter a password to access them. Very useful.

      Personally, I had to name the sites to block, AND throw away the password. Because otherwise it was too easy to pop in the password and go there anyway.

      I can always re-up the password with a forgotten password request, so it’s not a big deal. It creates just enough of a hurdle to actually help.

    3. n*

      StayFocusd might work. You can set a time limit for specific sites, like say you just want to spend 20 minutes on Facebook. You can also set up the option to “require challenge” if you want to change your options– for example, solve a puzzle before giving yourself an hour on FB.

      1. OhNo*

        Looks like StayFocusd isn’t available for Firefox, alas! I need an add-on like this, and it would have been perfect for me. But when I was searching for an equivalent I found Monastery, which looks like a pretty good alternative.

    4. #ActuallyADHD*

      I use Morphine for Chrome. It has a timer – you add a few minutes to the meter, when it runs out, it blanks the sites and you have to add more time if you want to keep reading. Your balance of minutes refills at an adjustable rate.

  9. Minerva McGonagall*

    I’m really excited because I’m going to my first conference this summer! My old job never let anyone at my level go to a conference so I’m really glad to be in a new job that supports professional development.

  10. Not a deer*

    I’ve worked at a small company (~25 people) for less than six months. I am one of 3 women in the office, and at 28 am both the youngest woman and the youngest person in the office. The next youngest employee is 35 and the majority of my coworkers are men aged 45-65.

    About a month ago, one of my older male coworkers said “Thanks dear” when I handed him something he had asked for. Since it was a one-off comment, I didn’t think anything of it. But somehow it’s caught on and now many of my coworkers (my boss included) have taken to calling me “dear”. It’s never said in a condescending or flirtatious manner. They’re using it as a comfortable term of endearment. But now I’m worried about this hurting my professional credibility. I want these coworkers to think of me as a competent and equal colleague and I think right now they’re putting me in the same mental category as their similar-aged daughters.

    Is there any good language to use when I ask them to stop calling me “dear”? Many of these men are conservative and old-fashioned, so I’m pretty sure if I just said “I actually don’t like pet names. Could you please call me [first name]?” that they’d take it as an affront to their kindliness and I’d be mislabeled as chilly or overly sensitive.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Idea – respond with “you’re welcome, elk!” He’ll say “what?” You’ll say “you called me deer, so I called you elk.” Say this with a straight face. He’ll say, “I meant dear, as in you’re dear to me.” You’ll say, “oh, I thought we were doing animal names but I guess we’re not. Just call me Suzanne and I’ll call you Fred.”

      1. Not a deer*

        Haha I kind of love this idea. Most of my coworkers have a good sense of humor so it might work. Or I might start getting called “tiger” or “bear” or something next week.

        1. M*

          I mean, if you start getting called “tiger” or “bear”, I’d take that as a win, and just keep escalating with increasingly ridiculous animal names for colleagues. The problem currently is that it’s being done in a way that singles you out and in a form that ties into a set of sexist norms and stereotypes – if you can convert it into a universal office joke that *doesn’t* carry those problems, great.

      2. ello mate*

        Ok I love this!! If you have an okay or good rapport with them I think its so funny! I might even just say “I thought we were doing animal names haha!” and leave it there. This is really good I think! Unless you work in a super buttoned up nothing is ever funny office like my lawyer sister…

    2. Asenath*

      I think if you keep your tone of voice neutral and matter-of-fact, a direct “Would you please call me Firstname?” should be fine. And you can’t expect them to know your preferences if you don’t say so!

      1. Benefit of Doubting*

        Unless they’re calling all the men “dear” as well, they probably are very comfortable in not “being aware” of what’s acceptable in this century.

    3. Ashley*

      Start with your boss and next time he says it just say nicely, “would you please not call me dear?” Feel free to ask him to spread the word and if he is reasonable you can point out that it comes across as sexist. After that just respond to it with, “I asked you not to call me that”, but be forgiving if someone is really making an effort and it slips so you don’t come across to stern. (The classic fine line for a woman who isn’t smiling kind of thing.)

    4. KR*

      “Oh,could you not call me that? I’ve been getting it a lot lately and something about it grates on me.” Maybe make it seem like a wierd personal quirk instead of a small step in Dismanteling the Patriarchy

      1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        You can also tell your boss that you’ve noticed that people are not calling you by your name and you are really trying to build relationships in the office.

    5. Maya Elena*

      Do you have any evidence of this actually harming your professional credibility or your standing with your co-workers? Are you receiving respect commensurate with your position and expertise, appropriate assignments? If that is the case, I would let it slide. Watch out for and shut down inappropriate behavior (e.g. excessive mothering, belittling, harassment), but I’d expect the “you’re the same age as my daughter” effect to dissipate to negligible amounts as you gain professional standing in the company, if it hasn’t already.

      1. LaDeeDa*

        Terms of endearment are defined as an example of sexual harassment by the US Department of Interior’s Office of Civil Rights. It cites “honey” “dear” and “sweetheart”, it says “The effect is the primary issue rather than intent,” it explains. “Even if the person ‘means nothing to you’ or you have ‘used the term for years’ you should be aware that such expressions are inappropriate.”
        These words make people feel disrespected and uncomfortable, and it happens most often to women by men. Do you hear men calling each other “honey”? No.
        Calling someone “dear” puts them in a category/a box that isn’t equal to that of their male colleagues, intended or not, it has negative ramifications.

        1. Zennish*

          For the record, it’s not always a gender thing. In the American south, I’ve found it quite common for women to call men “honey”… and yes, I find it grating and overly familiar.

      2. TechWorker*

        Errr if she doesn’t want to be called dear then she shouldn’t put up with it :)

    6. JudyInDisguise*

      Boss: “Thanks dear”
      Me: “I got you, BooBoo! (double guns; pew, pew!)”

      The good news is they stopped calling me dear. The bad news is everyone calls me BooBooPewPew.

      Yeah, that did not turn out the way I had hoped.

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

        Ha! I was about to suggest something similar, but you’re right it can go so, so wrong.

        Boss: “Thanks dear.”
        Me: “You’re welcome snookums.” …”No problem honey-buns”…”My pleasure sugar daddy.” said absolutely deadpan and looking them straight in the eye.

        1. valentine*

          No, don’t reciprocate and double down. You don’t want the pervert(s) among them to come back with worse when you’re unprepared. If they think you’re cold for wanting to be called by your name and known for your work and not your perceived age and gender, that’s an opening to tell your boss it may come across as sexist. And there’s no benefit to people classifying you with their daughter.

      2. just a random teacher*

        So…did you double down and call them schoockum cakes next time? Because maybe the only way to go from here is aggressively ridiculous. With luck, by next month your boss can write in to AAM “Somehow, my employees have started calling each other FishySparkleCakes and similar bizarre pet names, and I’m not sure what to do to restore professionalism in the office.”

        Or not. But I’d probably do it, because my sense of sarcasm is on a much quicker timer than my sense of social appropriateness.

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’re in a small office, you’ll alienate yourself if you push back on this.

      You’re kind of doing yourself a disservice by thinking 28 vs 35 is an gap at all. All my 20 somethings are my equal and they know it. Endearments don’t lessen that at all.

      I’m a high ranking business woman. I have been since I was 22 and my boss was my dads age. Pick your battles. Don’t let people sell nonsense about all conservative men looking down on disrespecting you by calling you dear.

      More doors start slamming on you if set up a rigid structure around yourself in small companies.

      1. Human*

        Please dont listen to this person. You have the right to be called by your name. You have the right not to be called a pet-name that men wouldn’t call each other. Asking for someone to call you by your name isn’t a ‘battle’ nor is it setting up a ‘rigid structure’. The best thing you can do for your career is to advocate for yourself. No sane man will be affronted by that simple preference.

        1. Camellia*

          Thanks for saying this so well. And I think “that men wouldn’t call each other” is the standard to apply.

        2. SavannahMiranda*


          The situation reminds me of the story which is now an internet legend of the woman of color handling the white colleague who complained about her ‘unpronouncable’ name and insisted on calling her variations of it, by calling him Bradley, Ken, Brett, Jack, and every other sterotypical ‘white guy’ name except HIS ACTUAL name for a year, until he apologized. (Not that this is the approach OP should take, but OPs situation is not worthy of being blown off.)

          Calling someone a variation of their actual name, including pet names, no matter how inoffensive, no matter how jokingly, no matter how endearingly, no matter how innocuously, no matter how much it’s intended to be good natured, can fall anywhere on a range from social faux pas, to determined naivete, to passive aggressive challenge.

          Frequently leaving the recipient of the nickname to figure out which is it. Which has an unsettling effect, regardless whether it’s ‘intended’ that way. It’s not rigid or embattled to expect not to be unsettled by having to decipher the intentions and beliefs of one’s coworkers and supervisors.

          That doesn’t mean OP needs to have a consciousness raising meeting, light candles, and prepare a PowerPoint about institutional sexism and misogyny in the workplace (I seem to like that phrase today). But they don’t have to just put up with it either.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      If you can do it with a smile, “Dear??? whaats up there? Did you forget my name again?”
      Tone of voice is key here.

      1. ..Kat..*

        I like this. I have also used a breezy “you’re welcome, sweetie” and found it very effective.

    9. High school teacher*

      Another strategy might be to respond with confusion.

      Him: Here you go, dear.
      You: (pause, blink) Huh? (Or “I’m sorry?” or “Pardon?” or whatever you would automatically say if you hadn’t quite heard what someone said)

      Then he gets to repeat himself with or without the “dear.” If without, problem solved! Repeat as necessary.

      If the repeats the “dear,” you can continue to be confused (tilt head, look puzzled) and make him repeat it again, or say, “Oh, what a strange thing to call a co-worker.”

      (Adapted from how I respond to students referring to teachers by their first names or saying something mildly offensive. Picture many minutes’ worth of: “It’s for Wakeen.” “Who?” “Wakeen.” “Who?” “WAKEEN.” “….Who?” “MR. WARBLWORTH!!!!” “Ohhhhhhhhhhhh, Mr. WARBLEworth! Of course!”)

  11. BeanCat*

    I have an internal interview today that could let me move from my contracting position into a full time position at my company, and hooooo boy am I nervous. I’m going over everything again and I just hope I can shine enough to show them I love both this field and this company. Wish me luck!!

    1. Asenath*

      Good luck!

      And when I did the same, I got myself terribly worked up, even though I was told it’s just a formality. But it was just a formality, and I got my job, this time permanent.

    2. SquigglyPanda*

      Good luck! My advice is to not treat it as a formality but also try to keep it casual so they don’t think you’re nervous. Confusing? Yes.

      1. BeanCat*

        First of all, thanks everyone!!

        I think it went really well! I felt confident with my answers, and one of my coworkers who interviewed me thanked me for all of the effort I put in to it. At this point I feel good but I’m well aware I have less experience than other candidates so we’ll see!

  12. ANOTHER friday anon*

    OH, wonderful the thread is up so I can write before I need to dash to my meeting…

    I have a little bit of dilemma…

    I had a job interview today (yay! especially after I bombed one earlier this week) and it went really really well, and they asked about salary pretty early on, which was fine. I went in having the expectation that they had an internal salary structure (because that was what I found out during my research), but apparently that is not true for the sort of position I interviewed for. I more or less named what I’m making now, which would be fine.

    Or it would be fine until they talked about the position a little and it turned out there would be substantial international (like 20%, both trans-atlantic and trans-pacific) travel involved and connected to that a lot more responsibility. This was not listed in the job ad and is not usual for the position at other companies I’ve been at. It’s a reason why I picked this career.

    But the job is still interesting! I would consider it depending on what their compensation is and, frankly, if there’s this much travel involved my current salary (even plus bonus) is not enough. I’m confident they’ll bring me back for the next interview stage, so there’s still options to fix it. Do you have some scripts of how to frame this when they ask about salary again (they might, due to the participants involved)? If they don’t I guess I have to wait until the offer stage…

    1. Beehoppy*

      “After learning more about the job, and particularly about the amount of travel and with it responsibilities for ____ that would be involved, I’m hoping you can do $X instead.”

      1. Mbarr*

        I second this phrasing.

        In fact, if I get an offer for the job I interviewed for last week, I intend to do the same… The job is way more detailed/higher level than I realized till I talked with them.

        And yes, I think you should wait till the offer range. Don’t want to scare them off in case they suddenly think they can’t afford you.

        1. ANOTHER friday anon*

          Thank you! This sounds perfect!

          It will probably be situational depending on how the second interview goes, but latest at the offer stage I will bring it up.

          Thank you again!

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      My thought is ideally when they mentioned these things, you would have said, you know, now that I’ve heard more about the role, it’s more travel/more senior than I have seen in similar roles in the past. I’m definitely still interested, but the salary I mentioned was for a role with less travel/responsibility. Given the description, a salary of X seems more in line with the role.

      I think you could still say that to them, and lead in with, I’ve had some time to reflect on the role, and …

        1. ANOTHER friday anon*

          I will do it if they bring it up again at the interview (which I think likely due to certain circumstances), I don’t want to do it via email after I already sent the thank you note. I don’t want to seem pushy.

          And yes, I agree that it would have been best in the moment, but I sort of didn’t expect it and was thrown for a loop.

    3. Adminx2*

      Just want to add this sucks they bring up money BEFORE fully outlining the position. Very unfair position to put you in and worth keeping a flag on.

      1. ANOTHER friday anon*

        Thank you, yes I agree this was a little weird. I don’t have an explanation. This company has an excellent reputation though, so perhaps it’s a quirk of the interviewers.

        1. Marthooh*

          Or maybe the role is being defined during the process of hiring, since companies don’t always know what they want right away. Don’t feel bad about having to change your salary expectations. “Now that I’ve done the math…” is another way to bring it up again.

  13. Anon For This*

    OK. Morals/ethics time, go.

    My job has so vastly improved that I can’t even. My pay just got a huge bump, I’m salary now which means no math to figure out how many hours I can count on for each pay, my commute is five minutes, some of the worst management have retired. My review was quite positive. Etc.

    Here’s the but. We have one extremely toxic element, in the shape of a single unstable employee. We know he has a drinking problem. We know he has an anger problem. He’s prone to lashing out at anyone out of the blue. I once jokingly told a coworker to hush because 90% of the staff were out and it was quiet, and this dude passed by and burst into tears, screaming at us to stop talking about him. His boss has commented to me a number of times that we’re taking bets on whether coworker has bombs or guns hidden in his bag, or how long it’ll take before he snaps. Everyone jokes about it. Recently my own boss came to me and said we now have a code. If Coworker comes in with a gun or goes crazy or something, someone will go on the PA with a particular code, where everyone will be told to gather in one place but they should actually gather in another, so that ideally he’ll go there and we’ll all be somewhere else.

    I thought this was another joke. It wasn’t. There was reference made to it during a social event thing the other day. Apparently everyone knows.

    Guys. I really don’t like that coworker. But this is sick. If he’s actually dangerous, he should be fired. And if he’s not, this is something he could probably call a lawyer about if he ever finds out. I have no power, and a job I can’t afford to lose. We are too small to have HR. I probably won’t find another job with perks like I have here. But this sucks.

    There is one thing I could do. One manager I could go to who probably doesn’t know and who would probably be upset to know (though I’m not 100% sure about that). But then I’d be the one who ruined everyone’s… “fun.” And there’s no guarantee anything would change.

    Do I continue to do nothing, or try something?

    1. Youth*

      “Everyone jokes about it.”

      Yeah, you’re right, that is sick. I think you do have to say something. As for what, and when, and how, and to how–I’m at a loss. How do you think you should handle it?

      1. Anon For This*

        If I knew, I wouldn’t ask. I feel like the only one in the company that thinks this is effed up.

        1. Youth*

          Ha, I was digging for a starting place since I know nothing about where you work! But if no one else is concerned, not even the HR types…I mean, I suppose it’s possible that others are secretly aghast, just like you are. But I don’t know how you’d determine that.

        2. SavannahMiranda*

          Your moral compass here sounds accurate. You are correct that it’s cruel and unfair towards him, no matter what his issues are. That at best it’s ineffective as a means of any kind of actual emergency plan, at worst it’s a sham and potentially more dangerous. And that it most likely leaves the company open to some kind of legal action from him were he ever to find out about this mockery. I’m with you on this and I’m reinforcing you in believing this is deeply problematic on many levels.

          Dysfunctional cultures will do things like this. ‘Outsider’ someone (even if there may have been objective reasons why at the beginning) and then stick thorns in that outsidering with additional cruelty. While at the same time wholly failing to appreciate any actual danger and problems that might exist. Because the collective denial helps them deny the part they are also playing. If it gets bad enough it becomes a closed system not open to inquiry. And anyone who might be motivated to blow the whistle comes to fear the same treatment themselves, even if unconsciously.

          If you are determined to try to bring sunlight into this, the one manager you identified sounds like your best bet. Approach them calmly, frame your concern as grave concern for the company (the person having an opening to take legal action), and adjust your approach from there depending on how they react. Unfortunately it’s all too easy for dysfunctional cultures to write off what are actually reasonable concerns for life and safety as “hysteria.” Don’t give the culture anything to work with on that front. Be as firmly objective as possible. Have as much objective proof as possible, whatever that looks like. A text message from a coworker about the new code word. Detailed and consistent recall of a conversation, if that’s your best info. Write notes for yourself beforehand and frame out the conversation. Ask for follow up. Ask for insight and feedback later about what came of it. (You probably won’t get it, but you can ask.)

          Even if nothing comes of it, or if the one manager puts it back on you, you will know that you have done what you can. In the meantime, when the mockery goes around, try not to participate. Question it when that doesn’t endanger you within the culture. Make yourself quietly available for other people who also have a problem with this to notice, and others might start quietly signaling too. These people are your potential allies. Feel them out and see what you can do as a group.

      2. Lilith*

        Who would s/he say something to? I agree it’s a frightening situation and I have no ideas or suggestions. I’m so sorry you are going through this.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      This would be a great question for Alison. I have no idea what you should do, but the whole situation is frankly terrifying.

      1. Anon For This*

        Yeah. I thought about sending it to Alison. But then, my boss knows I read this blog.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Maybe, but if Alison were to say something like, “This is terrible behavior and your boss needs to make sure everyone knocks it off, pronto”, the message might be effective. Especially if it comes with some real solutions on how to handle the situation.

        2. Friday afternoon fever*

          Look back at the podcast transcript archives. One recently was about dealing with an angry and unstable coworker and it has some advice that could apply

        3. ..Kat..*

          Who cares? Your boss sucks for not actually managing this employee. Maybe your manager would gain the impetus to actually do something about this situation after reading about it in AAM. Also, sadly, this situation is not as unique as it should be.

          Looking for a job elsewhere might be the best way to protect yourself from this coworker.

    3. Alex*

      Wow, that is all kinds of f’d up.

      I’m not sure I understand how you would be ruining everyone’s “fun” by telling a manager. Because really this doesn’t sound like fun at all.

      I think it is perfectly reasonable to say something to the manager.

      1. Anon For This*

        They seem to think it’s funny, anyway. :/
        And that manager is pretty low on the list of managers. I don’t know if he can do anything. I don’t even know if he’ll want to. Upper management won’t care, that’s for sure.

        1. General Ginger*

          Your coworkers think that joking about someone’s mental health/substance abuse issue and y’all’s safety is funny? This is an office of Evil Bees, to use Captain Awkward parlance.

          We have one extremely toxic element, in the shape of a single unstable employee
          Nope, he’s not your one toxic element. He’s /a/ toxic element, but the rest of your coworkers also sound toxic as heck.

        2. Miles*

          People who are subconciously scared of something will sometimes make jokes about it as a way of trying to address that fear. I think there’s even a section of cliche-recommendation The Gift of Fear about it, where the author has quotes from a survivor of a mail room bombing talking about how they were joking about the package probably containing a bomb right before it blew up. It’s trying to reconcile knowing something is seriously wrong with not wanting it to be true and not wanting to deal with it. It’s hard to say “I think our lives are in danger if Bob continues to work here” so instead they’re pretending it’s a joke when they say it. I suspect your coworkers are enjoying this “fun” less than you think they are and would be more happy than you think if someone actually addressed this.

    4. Half-Caf Latte*

      My mom had a rule for parenting that served her well over the years, and it’s known around our family as the “Channel 6 rule.”

      If you weren’t sure whether an action was okay, imagine it being the lead story on channel 6 news at 11pm.

      “He always seemed weird. We even developed an active shooter drill specifically for him”

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I live Metro Detroit.

        My mom used to say, she didn’t want Cheryl Chodun up on her porch, asking her why dear kid did x, y, z.

        *at the time Ms Chodun handle all the hard news stuff.

        My old work place had a coworker substance abused to medicate his out of control mental health issues. Small business so no HR. They were scared to fire him because ADA law and him lawyering up.

        I left after he jumped another coworker with a knife. Didn’t get fired even after that.

        Maybe a lawyer can figure out the legal liabilities of letting him go.

    5. It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon!*

      I had a very similar coworker a few years ago, everyone joked about him because he threatened to throw his computer out the window, lost his mind at minor inconveniences, went on long, loud tirades about every topic conceivable. Around this time the awful shooting in VA of a reporter and photojournalist by their former colleague.

      If anything WERE to happen, how would you feel if you did not speak up? That’s the question I asked myself, and decided I couldn’t live with the guilt after he made a particularly jarring comment that left me shaking. Yes, everyone else heard it too and nobody else spoke up, but I did anyway. It was dealt with swiftly and quietly by HR, nobody ever knew it was me that reported it.

      By speaking up, you are bringing attention to a serious concern. You are not the bad guy here, nor are you a tattle tale. The worst thing that happens if you are right is he loses his job and/or gets the help he needs. The fact that people felt the need to make new emergency plans if he does act says everything you need to know – they’re scared, but hiding behind gallows humor so as not to seem like an alarmist. Be the alarmist if that is what feels right to you.

      1. Anon For This*

        The thing is, one, I don’t actually think he’s dangerous. I think he’s weird and annoying, and maybe suffering from some mental health issues (what with the alcoholism and some other stuff he told me when I sat next to him for two years). Two, I have nobody to report to. We don’t have HR and most of management is in on it. There’s just the one manager with the potential to be an ally, but even then, I don’t know if he could do anything or if he’d want to.

        He’s never made threats and I’ve never felt scared, just confused, from his actions. I think people around here are mistaking strange for dangerous. But then, I haven’t worked with him as long as some people. So I don’t actually know.

        1. It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon!*

          Is your concern then how people are talking about him, and going to the manager is intended to get the rest of the office to stop making fun of him? My reading of your question was that you are concerned that the jokes are not really joking and people are actually afraid of him.

          1. Anon For This*

            I don’t know, is the problem. My issue I guess is that if people do think he’s dangerous, if management thinks he’s dangerous, then I don’t like working with a dangerous person and I don’t understand why he’s still here.

            If he isn’t dangerous and nobody really believes he is, then this is bullshit and needs to stop, because it’s toxic and I’d hate to see us turn into a bunch of shitty school yard bullies.

            I don’t know him well enough to make the call, but management is not stepping up on what I personally think is a pretty serious issue and that’s upsetting.

            1. karou*

              What if the next time someone makes that sort of “joke”, you ask them “Do you really think he’s dangerous/would bring a weapon to work/etc.” in a serious tone? Not in a scolding way I mean, more a “should I be concerned?” way. Maybe that would make the person think about what they’re saying, and either realize it’s not funny or force them to admit they are in fact afraid.

              1. notfunny.*

                I think this is a good idea – I might start with this and see what happens. Is there anyone else at work that you trust that you could talk with about the situation?

            2. It’s a Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon!*

              Gotcha. I agree with you that something needs to change, but as an individual employee I think you will have better luck with that manager. They’re outside of this mess and would be a good sounding board, I think you can ask them for their advice without asking them to act in any particular way. You said you haven’t worked there long, but you’ve seen a lot of concerning behaviors from that particular employee and heard a lot of alarming things from almost everyone else and you are uncomfortable but don’t know what you can do. That’s okay to say! The manager likely has more experience with everyone and can decide whether everyone else is a jerk or if there’s more to the toxic employee that needs their attention. A good manager will intervene based on the information your provide, and as others have said you can ask to remain anonymous.

    6. LCL*

      I would talk to the one manager who cares. This is above your pay grade, it sounds like. Since you don’t have the authority to solve it, bring it to the attention of someone who does.

    7. gecko*

      Well, as someone who recently had a coworker who seemed “off” and turned out to have been doing crimes in his spare time, sounds to me like your coworkers and your boss are genuinely worried about this guy and playing it off a little as humor.

      Also (of course) I’ll bring up The Gift of Fear, which has a long section on workplace violence; de Becker mentions that colleagues of the frightening person recognize very strongly that the person is frightening and make jokes about it. He gives a few examples, iirc, of interviewing people after they’ve been through a workplace violence incident and being told, “yeah, we made jokes about this guy shooting up the office.”

      Which is to say: I think you can talk to your boss, your boss’s boss, whoever you think is best in your internal structure, and mention that this guy is pretty frightening. With your boss, you could add, “we joke about it all the time, but it feels like they’re not really jokes, and he feels kinda unsafe to have around. Can I get your thoughts on this?”

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        This. Jokes can be a warning sign. “Many a true word spoken in jest”.

        I strongly recommend reading The Gift Of Fear, or, if you already did, re-reading it with the current situation in mind.

        The chapter on domestic violence is widely considered flawed (as in, elements of victim-blaming), but overall it’s a very valuable book. The parts about workplace risk assessments will help you think through this current situation, and then if you’re still uneasy, you’ve also got the possibility of passing on the book to any allies you can identify, to help them see what you’re seeing.

        Wishing you luck – this sounds really stressful.

    8. WomanOfMystery*

      I’d try something like going to my boss and saying, “Hey, this topic is really upsetting to me, can we not joke about it?”

      1. Mbarr*

        This might be the best option. Everyone else has “joked” it until it’s a norm, but it’s dreadfully unfair to the outsider colleague. :(

        It’s a crappy situation to be in. But as another commentor posted, how would you feel if you were in the other person’s shoes?

    9. ExcelJedi*

      Do you legitimately think he’s a threat, or do you think the people you work with are being jerks?

      I think you should go to this other manager, and let them know that you’re not comfortable talking about this and that you’d like to keep it confidential. Ideally, they’ll address it with tact and discretion. But it sounds like the kind of thing that someone needs to shut down, and it sounds like you’re in the best place to make sure that happens.

      1. Anon For This*

        The second one. I mean, I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in with a weapon, but I sincerely doubt he would, and I’ve heard some of the supervisors say the same. I sat next to him for two years. He’s kind of obnoxious and weird but not actually that bad of a person. He needs help, is what he needs. But that’s really none of my business.

        1. Not Me*

          Except it is your business when it’s impacting your work environment.

          Talk to the boss that cares. Express your concerns. Your co-workers and bosses are creating a hostile work environment due to someones disability (alcoholism, mental health, etc. whether real or perceived). If they don’t take that seriously they are not only bad managers, they are crappy people.

        2. Delphine*

          I wonder if you’re too close to this situation. Based on your descriptions of his behavior, he seems unstable, and if you wouldn’t be surprised if he brought a gun to work, then I think it’s not unreasonable to imagine that he’s potentially dangerous as well.

          1. Amber Rose*

            Yeah. :(
            I like to think the best of people. So I’m probably the least qualified to assess this guy’s danger potential.

              1. SarahKay*

                If you want Alison to remove your named comments, put in a comment to Alison asking her to do it and add in a hyperlink to the request – that sends it to moderation so you know Alison’ll probably see it fairly quickly.

            1. Faith*

              Yeah, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in with a weapon” is alarming! I would be surprised if any of my coworkers did! (Well, and terrified too, of course.) You should speak up.

    10. Iris Eyes*

      “I think it is great to have a plan in place for a variety of emergency situations, and I also think its great when anyone who is having performance issues, including unprofessional interactions with coworkers is coached and held accountable.”

      Joking about people behind their back, not professional. Fits of rage, unprofessional.

    11. Agent J*

      I think you should say something, for distinct reasons:
      1) Coworker is a bright crimson flag. Joking might be their way of coping with their fear of Coworker doing something violent but something still needs to be said in an official capacity (e.g,. email, meeting with the manager, etc.). I would also make it a Big Deal about your and your coworkers’ safety. Workplace violence is not something to handle with dismiss lightly.

      2) For your own personal ethics. God forbid something happens, at least you know you did your best to do something about it. Even if management does nothing, at least it’ll be documented somewhere that they knew and prepared but didn’t do their best to prevent it. It’s okay to be known as the alarmist with this.

    12. Jess*

      First of all, you actually have TWO toxic elements — an unstable employee, and a work culture/leadership that is both unwilling to take action and escalating the danger through its own behaviors. It’s pretty much the same dynamic that was in place in the U.S. government in 2017 and 2018. So, for the long term, I’d suggest beginning to work on your own exit plan.

      Short-term, yes, talk to the one manager. It’s often helpful to know if someone’s an ally as well as how much they’re willing to stick their own neck out.

      Beyond that, not sure what to suggest…. I am torn because it is hard to tell whether your assessment that this guy is *not* dangerous is on target or hopeful. Which, actually, THAT is something you can do something about — Gavin deBecker, who someone else mentioned, has an online threat assessment tool called the Mosaic Method. A google search should get you there. Free for domestic violence, I’m pretty sure there’s a charge for the workplace threat assessment, but it seems reasonable to ask your boss to have the company pay to do that. And, the simple act of you requesting that might jar some of your colleagues to take this out of the scary joke arena into the action arena.

      Hope this is helpful.

    13. SJ*

      Absolutely say something to someone! Approach it from several angles…first, it’s creating an unsafe work place for you to be in. Second…which may actually work better…IF he did do something and it got out publicly (and we all know it will no matter what kind of damage control companies do) that they made a joke out of it and didn’t address the root cause of whatever happens…major LAWSUIT. Do they really want to risk the bad publicity and the potential legal issues even if they apparently don’t care about your safety?

    14. Kathenus*

      Various comments have touched on parts of this but I would pick the most appropriate person (manager you reference, possibly) and address it on two fronts:
      1) If this person is actually considered dangerous, and people including management are actively aware of and discussing it, it is not only an employee safety issue but an organization liability one. Action needs to be taken to safeguard all involved.
      2) If this is a joke and people do not believe he is dangerous, this is incredibly inappropriate in multiple ways. The employee, should he find out, could try to make a case against the employer for being a party to slander (not sure if this is the legally appropriate term for this, so apologies if not). And by joking about such a serious topic, the organization is showing incredibly poor judgment by allowing it to be a topic for joking which could have future negative implications (not taking it seriously if there is an actual future threat, employees seeing that the organization will allow employees to be talked about disparagingly including by management without repercussions)

      In this day and age workplace violence is not a joke. This is at best inappropriate and at worst unsafe. Those points can hopefully help someone in management be persuaded to stop this. Good luck.

    15. Jules the 3rd*

      I would get very earnest and a little boring:
      1) Ask your boss, seriously, if the employee is considered a real threat
      If yes: Why is he still employed?
      If no: “But people are joking about it – that’s like making fun of mental illness, which is (wide eyed gasp) a possible harassment issue! If he figures it out, he could sue! Can you guide me in some ways to reduce this harassment?” Act as if your boss would *of course* like his office to be professional and non-harassing! Of course! (Note: I deliberately slid from ‘possible’ to ‘actual’ harassment in this script – it’s a very effective way to enlist support. It is actually harassment, the ‘possible’ is the disingenuous part.)
      If hem / haw / it’s just a joke: same as ‘no’
      2) Mention to the sympathetic boss, with the ‘possible harassment! suit!’ angle
      3) When the jokes are made around you, be boring, straight face (no nervous smile), ‘that’s not funny’, ‘that’s such a mean thing to say’, ‘don’t mock coworkers, that’s so unprofessional’.

      But #3 especially takes a *lot* of social capital to be effective. If you aren’t a team lead, already well and widely liked, or can’t get your boss to support you, you’ll probably just get the backlash, so approach this cautiously. And slowly – you may need to have 2 – 3 casual conversations with your boss about ‘can you believe how unprofessional people are being by harassing Fergus? I hope he doesn’t get any legal ideas!’ before you can get him on board.

      Good luck…

    16. Not So NewReader*

      I would have to try to do something.
      Can you look at his social media (incognito) to see if you notice anything concerning?
      Do you know a qualified professional who might help your bosses figure out what is up here?
      Can your bosses check for a police record? There is a nationwide criminal database. Not everything makes it into the database, but if he does have a record listed that would tell you something.

      In my dreams, Alison does a panel discussion with experts to help people figure out these types of concerns. You are not the only one facing this stuff and you are not a member of a small group of concerned people, either. There is a legit need here.

    17. Observer*

      You’re obviously there and I’m not, but I suspect that you are wrong about why people are joking around.You say down below that some others say that they would be surprised if he actually brought a gun in. That says that this is a topic of real concern to people whether or not they are saying things in a joking fashion or not. Also, the fact that someone seriously set up this code and made it their business to let everyone know means that someone is actually SERIOUSLY concerned about this.

      To be honest, it doesn’t sound unreasonable. You have someone who is paranoid, an alcoholic with unmanaged anger. Maybe he’s never bring in a gun, but it surprises me that you think he’d never get violent.

      I think that the way to approach it is “I’m concerned that we have an employee who is so volatile that we’re even seriously talking about whether he would show up with guns, and what to do if he snaps, and all we are doing is joking about it rather than taking concrete action. What can we do to protect ourselves?”

      This language works regardless of whether he is dangerous or not. You’re not calling anyone jerks or anything like that. But, you are calling out inappropriate behavior. Because if they guy is dangerous, that needs to be dealt with. And if he really isn’t and they don’t think he is, you’ve just highlighted how in appropriate it is to joke about it.

    18. valentine*

      This guy is textbook dangerous.
      You’re not safe at work.
      Being unemployed is better than being his victim.
      You may call the police non-emergency number at any time.

      Threat: Substance abuse, paranoia (though he’s right to feel persecuted), crying and screaming at colleagues. Response: minimizing his violence (“He cried and screamed in our faces, but we didn’t think he’d do anything”), yet planning for it. He’s done multiple things. He’s escalating. Get out before he gets to the end.

    19. Nana*

      Another thought…call the non-emergency police line (probably from home), describe the issue, and ask what THEY think is the best/safest way to deal. This is the kind of thing they want to know…rather than finding out when the guy lashes out (see the news, at least once a month — in the US)

  14. Anon anony*

    There is one co-worker, “Fergus”, whom I sometimes have to work with or help out with a project. I don’t see him that often, but he reminds me of Old Toxic Boss from previous toxic work place. Fergus is a moody, arrogant jerk but covers it well with humour and his ability to manipulate others. He’s a charmer, but it’s not genuine.

    Fergus first made me nervous because shortly after I started he snapped at me when I had to talk to him about something work related. I don’t know if he was trying to intimidate me, but he then would stare at me with this intense stare that was extremely unsettling. He does this from afar, so no one else witnesses it except me. When I’m near him, he acts like I’m weird and I caught him literally standing behind me making fun of me.

    It is to the point where I avoid him. This has led coworkers to think something is going on between us because they’ve asked me about it. No. No. No. The opposite. Fergus gives me the creeps. I think he’s gaslighting me.

    My co-workers and boss know Fergus and his family; they’re friendly with him. So I don’t think I could tell any of them, without it getting back to him. I feel like a crazy person.

    I don’t have to deal with him that often, but he is social with those around me, so he is in my area sometimes. Besides running away every time he is near, what can I do? How do I reframe it so that he doesn’t remind me of ex-boss? How can I stay calm?

    1. Asenath*

      Don’t run away from him because that just allows the situation to worsen. Ignore him except for what’s necessary for work, and ask him if you’ve got a spot on your nose if he stares or call him rude if you turn around and and catch him mocking you. In other words, don’t escalate, but also do call him out if he behaves badly. He sounds more like a nuisance than a danger, so tell yourself that, and remind yourself that he’s not your boss. He’s just an office nuisance.

          1. Autumnheart*

            It means, act normal so he seems awkward. For example, “I’ve seen Fergus stare at me, I’ve heard him making fun of me, and just generally acts really weird anytime I’m in the room. I don’t know what his problem is! I wish he’d stop.” Let it get back to him! The gaslighting only works because people don’t know he’s doing it.

          2. Friday afternoon fever*

            It means, sort of, that if they do something awkward, address it normally and directly — let them sit with the weirdness of their own behavior instead of feeling like they’re justified in their poor behavior and you’re obligated to find a way to accommodate it without “making” the situation awkward in your response.

    2. PizzaDog*

      Stare back at him until he gets uncomfortable and turn away. If you catch him making fun of you, ask him “Is there something I can help you with?”

    3. Adminx2*

      Deep breaths. It’s GREAT he reminds you of ex boss so you know never to let your guard all the way down. The response is “That’s very unsettling how you stare like that, can you stop now?” and “Obviously we have different perceptions of weird, I prefer iconoclastic.”
      He really does seem like the guy who loves finding a target and it’s you. The clincher? Once you SAY those sentences, clearly and firmly, wait. Just wait. Calmly. Don’t rile up, don’t laugh if he tries to laugh it off. Just wait until he runs through his routine and shirks away. Then another deep breath and you move on.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      When you coworkers ask you about it, ask them WHY they are asking. Or say, “Someone else mentioned this. I thought it was weird and just blew it off. But now you are mentioning it, what’s up here?”

      Once in a rare while, cohorts might realize someone has a problem. But if that person won’t say there is a problem then the cohorts really cannot help.

  15. Awkward anon*

    Maybe it’s just the work places that I’ve been in, but in my last job, I would talk and laugh with my boss. This made people to tease us and think there was something going on between us- there wasn’t.

    In my current job, there is one guy that is a moody jerk and I try to avoid him and don’t talk to him unless it’s about work. This made my coworkers think we like each other/there is something going on between us.

    I get nervous around guys and laugh, but it’s just who I am. Otherwise I get quiet and nervous around them. (I’m trying to work on it.)

    Am I doing something wrong? How do you get people to stop talking about this stuff?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know how to effectively get people to stop, but you should be able to talk and laugh with people—that isn’t expressing romantic interest or being weird or unprofessional.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      Oh wow, NO.

      Please don’t take this to heart, your coworkers are ridiculous. Good luck finding your next position somewhere tha isn’t populated by 14 year-olds.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Do you work with junior high aged children? That’s obnoxious and childish behavior on their part not yours. Not every woman interacting with a man is flirting, that’s an asinine assumption. They sound emotionally stunted.

      Pay them no mind and keep going as you normally would.

      1. teacher girl*

        I do work with junior high kids and even they realize you can talk to people without it being flirting.

    4. Iris Eyes*

      “Oh yeah, I guess Rodger is a guy. I guess he’s just funny”

      But on your end acting differently around people because of their gender is probably something to try and work on. Just because you have established patterns doesn’t mean you can’t bravely clear a new path. I say this because people assuming this is a pattern, not just one group of people so there is probably something other than a love of drama and gossip that is contributing.

    5. Shark Whisperer*

      You’re not doing anything wrong. Do your coworkers bring this up to you directly? If so, when they say something to you, just give them a pained/ confused expression and say something along the lines of “You know Grey’s Anatomy [or insert any other primetime workplace drama] isn’t a documentary, right? In the real world, coworkers aren’t having secret affairs they mostly dislike the people they are forced to interact with in order to get paid”

      1. Awkward anon*

        No- nothing has ever been said to my face. I hear them make comments about it to each other, but I’m quiet because it’s embarrassing and I don’t know how to address them.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Next time you overhear something like this, ca you just walk over and say, “that coworker is rude and obnoxious towards me, so I just try to avoid him. Does he treat other coworkers this way?” And, if they say yes, you can follow up with, “how do these employees deal with it?”

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “How do you get people to stop talking about this stuff?”

      You don’t.
      People will do people-y things and there is no stopping them.

      We cannot control other people’s thoughts and other people’s conversations.

      Your best bet here is to work on accepting the fact that people gossip about other people. It’s a part of life. Families gossip about each other. Tenants sharing an apartment building gossip about each other. It’s pretty much every where.

      Try to rise above it. One way is to recognize that you know what is true about you and what is not. Let’s say someone gossips that I am stealing. I know for a fact that I am not stealing. That is the number one thing I need to know and take satisfaction in- that I know this is not true. Now, because stealing can be a work related offense, I might go to the boss to complain about false accusations. That would be an action step.

      In your case, you might be able to just ask the person to repeat what they just said. Asking people to repeat something negative like this can cause them to stop short. If they do say, “I said you were interested in Steve.” Then you can say, “Oh. That’s a weird thing to say.” And go back to your work to show the comment meant nothing to you. Or you can just tell them to stop. If they do not stop you can report it to the boss. Your dating life/love interest does not belong in the workplace. Neither does anyone else’s dating life/love interest.

  16. Susan*

    It’s been a tiring and frustrating week…One of my staff gave their resignation after being out for the entire month due to health issues. I’ll miss her but it also means that we can’t let go of one staff like we desperately need to. Losing staff at this time of year is always tough.

    But the biggest source of frustration this week has been that another team is “borrowing” 2 people from our team. It’s upsetting b/c for years we’ve worked hard to build a good team, and now that we’re doing well, other teams decide that they can take our staff. We can’t do anything about it b/c this comes from our boss. When pushed back she says, “we always helped you, now you return the favor.” Except we’ve always been in a position where we had no choice but to ask for help. We’ve constantly been understaffed, boss would take first dibs on the good candidates for their team. The staff we had that did have issues, they were thrown counteroffers or nearly impossible to get rid of. Anyone we try to get rid of, HR shuts us down and is scared to death of litigation.

    The best way I can explain it is the broken car analogy. You’re given a broken car. You spend years fixing it. Now that car is running beautifully and the person who gave it to you wants to scrap it for parts by saying “we need it, you owe us.”

    When I first started here, I thought I was being set up for failure, but worked through it and dismissed it as an irrational fear. Years and movements later, I’m starting to see that maybe there’s a bit of truth to that b/c I’m seeing it now on a much bigger level.

      1. Susan - OP of this post*

        Not at all.

        Although this has never ever ever occurred to me/us.

        (I’m using “us/we” because I manage this team alongside my colleague, so we are co-managing).

        1. valentine*

          She’s a horrible manager. A good one would seek balance whilst leveling up staff. She’s got you spinning your wheels. This doesn’t seem sustainable for you.

    1. Lisa*

      I’m a little confused about your structure. Does your boss manage you, and you manage your team, but your boss also directly manages another team? If that’s the case, is your boss more loyal to the “direct” team? Or does that other team have its own direct manager who is your peer, but your boss still favors them? If it’s along those lines then I would try to understand, if you don’t already, why your boss is biased in that way. Is she held less accountable for the results of your team? Is the other team higher-profile or more glamorous in some way? Is their work more aligned with her own background, or she in other ways better “gets” them? Is there a way you can make it more in her interest for your team to succeed?

      If not, is there another leader in the organization who can champion for you? For instance, if you are teapot support and you roll up under teapot marketing, you might find better sponsorship from teapot engineering or teapot sales. Or if there is a financial factor in play – like the company saves money when your team does well – then the CFO becomes your new best friend. They can lean on your boss to help you be more successful, even if she doesn’t see the value.

      This is pretty hypothetical because I don’t know all the factors at play. But somehow, find a way to make it more in her interest – or in the interest of someone who can influence her – to help you succeed.

  17. Michelle*

    My slacker coworker officially resigned, but her manager has not announced her last day. He sent a “coworker has accepted a new position, wish her well, blah, blah, blah”. Would it be tacky to ask? She’s my counterpart and I may have to take on some of her duties if a replacement is not hired quickly.

    1. Susan Calvin*

      Not tacky at all! Be clear about why you ask (because it affects your work, not just rubbernecking), and try not to sound too gleeful, but then you’re good.

    2. Plain Jane*

      I would forward the resignation email announcement to your own manager and ask if you’ll be picking up her tasks and if so, what’s her last day?

    3. Michelle*

      Thanks! It would be a normal question for any other department, but this particular coworker is…sensitive. They get offended if they think someone is “disrespectful” or “criticizing” them, which is kind of ironic considering they do just enough to get by.

      1. WellRed*

        Who cares if they get offended. They are leaving! Seriously though, if you can’t say anything to her ask your boss about work duties and assume they are gone in about two weeks.

        1. Michelle*

          I just found out through “grapevine” she’s not leaving until March 29th! I’ll have to fake being nice for another month. I don’t want to spend the next month playing middle school “I’m not speaking to you” games with her. SO glad she is leaving. I hope the next person is reasonable.

    4. Adminx2*

      Perhaps instead ask on Monday to send “Jane has left, we are working on a replacement but please be patient as we balance a heavier workload.”

    1. whistle*

      Aw, my knitting group is on Thursdays, too! :)

      If I was at home today I would knit, read, and watch Buffy. It’s too dreary to go outside.

    2. Youth*

      Touché! Okay, if you were able to work today, what would you want that to look like? What would you be doing?

    3. Youth*

      Wow, are we the same person? That’s basically my to-do list most weekends. And I also haven’t been sleeping well!

  18. Tigger*

    Hi guys!
    My trip this week to the main office went great and now the ceo wants me to come to that office more for training. The snag is that my boss doesn’t think that it is needed and he can teach me everything (it is just him and I in our office). Any ideas?

    1. Jaid*

      Doesn’t your CEO outrank your boss? Let him know that your boss proclaimed himself the subject matter expert and can handle it.

      Just kidding. Sorry.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Do you want to go to the CEO’s office or would you rather your boss train you?
      Let your boss know your preference, if you would prefer to work with the boss. And let him know why you prefer to train with him. Then, yeah, let them duke it out. But give your boss some talking points to use.

    3. OhNo*

      If you do indeed want to train some more with the CEO or in the main office, perhaps you could present it to your boss as gaining a different kind of knowledge. Like, boss can and will train you on the details of X and Y, but you’d also like to train a bit more with the central office so you can see how they use X on a different project, or how Y interacts with B, or how your department fits in with the broader organizational structure/goals, or to get some face time in to develop a rapport with people you’ll be supporting remotely. Whatever makes sense for your organization.

      1. ten-four*

        Agree on trying to get trained BOTH by your boss and the CEO. At the end of the day the CEO runs things, number cruncher or no, and it’s good to have relationships with as many senior people as possible.

        In my current job I wound up in a weird spot; my boss was the pillar of the company and he and the CEO did not see eye to eye. Welp, turns out that he got fired for harassment (I’m high enough up that I got the details and they were indeed damning) and the CEO became my boss. I was glad that I had a good relationship with the CEO too, although it wasn’t as in-depth. (Added bonus: the company as a whole is in a MUCH better place now. Turns out people who are willing to harass their co-workers are also bad at their jobs in other ways!)

        At any rate, hopefully you won’t get that level of drama between Guru Boss and number cruncher CEO. But with that particular kind of expertise division I’d guess you’re at risk to find yourself on the Boss’s faction vs. the CEO if things took a turn. Taking steps to build a separate relationship with the CEO seems like a good move.

  19. Susan Calvin*

    It’s 5pm where I am, and that means it’s nearing the end of my last workday for THREE WEEKS.

    No travel or anything big planned, just. Blessed peace and quiet. You guys. I’m so happy. Happy and tired.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      I hear you. I have 14 more workdays (including some craziness like report cards and parent teacher interviews) and then I’m off for two glorious weeks!!! Enjoy your peace and quiet!

  20. AnonToday*

    Fun one this week: I found out through the grapevine that one of our employees (who has a habitually negative attitude) wasn’t out sick two days, but was on an extended interview. Supposedly he’ll be leaving without giving actual notice (since he plans on using his PTO for the “notice”). Everyone on his team is confused over what this means next, and I can’t take substantive action until I hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Is it worth talking to him this afternoon or just let him slow roll this through the weekend? I don’t want to expose my source on the grapevine without reason but this waiting around is very tedious.

    1. A Teacher*

      Did he have the sick time to use? If so, I’d be irritated to find out a coworker “outed” my appointment to the boss–this is why a lot of people are not up front about job searching.

    2. Alice*

      Longterm, this is great news for you, right? The guy with the habitually negative attitude is leaving.
      I’d talk to him at some point before he goes on the vacation you mention being planned (at least, I assume that it’s planned). But I don’t see why it needs to happen today. I think you are better off living with some uncertainty over the weekend.

    3. Meh.*

      I don’t think you can ask point-blank “did you use your sick time to take two days of for an interview”, employees don’t have to disclose medical reasons for taking sick time. I think you just need to sit back and wait and make as much of a contingency plan as possible for his “unexpected” departure. On the bright side, you do know about it, so you can prepare (has he actually gotten an offer for the new job? just because he had an extended interview doesn’t mean he has an offer) Count your blessings that you’ll have one less bad apple in your department.

    4. Autumnheart*

      Don’t talk to him. You don’t have any substantiated information yet, and having an interview doesn’t guarantee that he gets the job. You’ll need to wait until he resigns before you do anything.

      But you know that he’s looking. For that matter, any member of your team could be looking. What would you do next if anyone else left? If you need to build in some redundancy on your team so that you aren’t left in the lurch by an abrupt departure, this would be good motivation to do it. If things aren’t documented, files not backed up, only one person knows how to do a vital thing that impacts everyone’s work, etc. this is a good cue to get ahead of it.

      1. Diane Lockhart (lurker/newish commenter)*

        I wouldn’t say anything to him. When he resigns and declares he’s using PTO for his notice period, deny the PTO request (assuming you have the power to do that?). As Alison has written before, notice periods are for transitioning work; they’re not giveaways to the resigning employee. Does your company pay out unused vacation time? If so, that underscores the expectation that employees are meant to be present for their notice periods.

          1. valentine*

            No, let him take the PTO. When you want someone gone and they leave of their own accord, accept the gift.

        1. Darren*

          I wouldn’t actually expect him to resign. My read of this is he is going to use the PTO, and then send a message on his last day of PTO saying he won’t be at work on Monday as he has resigned his position. Due to there being no legal requirement for a notice period (in the US for at will employment, silly of them to do that you really should put in a symmetrical required notice period) there would be nothing illegal about that.

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

      Agree with Autumnheart. Based on a post earlier this week — be sure to back up his computer files to a place he can’t access and assign him to cross-train, if necessary. No need to say why since it’s just good business practice anyway. Make up your own contingency plan on whose going to take over his tasks — which again is good business, since any employee can get “hit by a bus” at anytime.

  21. Never*

    I just found out that a certain type of work-sponsored event that takes place during work hours at work that all staff are encouraged to attend does not count as work time.

    This is getting ridiculous.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You said staff are encouraged to attend. Does that mean that it’s actually optional? Or is it just “optional” but really required?

    2. Hallowflame*

      If you think attending this event will benefit you enough through networking or skill building to offset the unpaid time, I would go. If it’s just a glorified reception with your peers where you will have no opportunity to meet new people or learn something useful to your job, I’d skip it.

    3. FLSA fan*

      Are you in the U.S.?

      If so, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) “Hours Worked” factsheet states:

      “Lectures, Meetings and Training Programs: Attendance at lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities need not be counted as working time only if four criteria are met, namely: it is outside normal hours, it is voluntary, not job related, and no other work is concurrently performed.”

      Note that ALL four criteria must be met for you to not be paid for these types of activities, so anything like this that occurs during normal work hours automatically counts as “hours worked” regardless of whether or not attendance is optional. The only potential ambiguity would be whether or not the event would be fall under “lectures, meetings, training programs and similar activities.”

  22. Anomalymous*

    Need to vent a bit, I realize there’s not much to be done…

    My boss is constantly traveling and lives an hour away from the office, so when he isn’t traveling he mostly chooses to work from home. We see him in the office 2-4 days per month, on average (which most of us like bc he’s a bit of an odd duck).

    But on the days when he does come into the office, it is all but guaranteed that he has a dentist/chiropractic/doctor appointment, or a tennis clinic, or his adult children come by to visit with him. When he’s not attending to appointments and family visits, he’s doing personal things like wrapping Christmas presents, sorting through the voluminous personal mail he receives at the work address, and generally doing anything but managing.

    It’s frustrating. It doesn’t necessarily need to be him, but we need someone in charge who is actually interested in leading and managing.

    1. NotAMadScientist*

      Do you have a grand-boss? Anyone above him? Start a paper trail of all the times you wanted to ask him or needed something from him but he was unavailable, emails are a good way to log it.

        1. NotAMadScientist*

          Ouch. Then I guess you have to decide if it’s something you can live with or if it’s time to job hunt? I’m sorry I don’t have better advice.

          1. Anomalymous*

            Yeah, I’m planning my exit strategy but it’ll take a while. Overall I’m happy to stick around… this boss just really bugs me.

    2. catwoman2965*

      Oh do we work for the same person? Not quite but my one boss does this too. She’s not far from the office, and generally only works one day from home, but sometimes more, depending on what’s going on in her personal life. Because she is the type who thinks that PTO should ONLY be used for “fun” things, therefore all her dr. appts (of which there are so many you would think she’s at death’s door), errands at lunch (frequently 2+ hours multiple times a week), and generally just coming and going as she pleases.

      She’s also bad at “keeping track of her time” and think that “working from home” for an hour in the am, then maybe taking 3+ hours for something, and “dialing back in” for 15 minutes at the end of the day constitutes working a full day, and no PTO is necessary. So ends up at the end of the year (by her own calculations) with use it or lose it time. Which my direct boss and I both know is total BS but there is no accountability from upper management nor anything we can do.

      Me? If i have something going on, I’ll take a half day of PTO, as do most people. And my company generally is flexible, which is nice, but I would say 99% of employees DO NOT take advantage. But its nice to be able to when needed. But we also generally schedule any kind of appt OUTSIDE working hours.

      I’ll also add she’s rather a rather abrasive, Captain know it all, who thinks she knows everything about everything, thinks rules and policies, whether work related or not, are “stupid” and so on. So she’s not particularly well liked at all. And i can only hope karma comes back to bite her sometime!

      1. Anomalymous*

        OOF. Yup.
        This year I told boss I’d like *someone who is in the office regularly and who sees my work* to write my review and for that to be directly connected to my raise and bonus and his reply was that “it’s intuitive.” FFS.
        Our office culture is suuuuuuper laid back (people bring dogs to work, there’s no dress code, we all kind of do our own work without supervision) so all of my complaints have to be taken in that context, but STILL. It feels like, because boss isn’t in the office 95% of the time, he honestly thinks we’re all chillaxing when he’s not there.

  23. considering Western Governors University*

    Do hiring managers and managers generally in the AMA commenting group respect Western Governors University degrees? I would love to learn more about analytics or strategy (for my own growth more than for name prestige) without tens of thousands of dollars of MBA student loan debt, but I don’t want to find out later that this cheaper, nonprofit option is actually seen as an outright scam despite the generally positive reviews online.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In general, I’ve found that WGU is more of a “I’ve been doing this for fifteen years but need a specific piece of paper to check an arbitrary tickybox” type of program than a “I want to learn this stuff from scratch” type. (I say that as a current WGU student who has been a working HIM professional for over fifteen years, including four and change in management, and has a BS in public health and two masters degrees, but can’t take the RHIA certification exam without specifically a BS in HIM because the organization that administers the certification is super finicky. So back to school I go for a fourth higher ed degree. :P ) Once I finish the degree and pass the exam, I *probably* won’t even leave the WGU degree on my resume — just the certification.

      1. considering Western Governors University*

        Thank you, this is helpful! Sounds like it’s not likely to be worth putting on my resume. If I seriously pursue this, I’ll try and talk to a few MBA grads and see what they think of the learn-from-scratch potential – that would be my goal and if that part isn’t useful /and/ I couldn’t put it on my resume, there wouldn’t be much point. :P

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I work in higher ed. WGU has a decent reputation, certainly better than UoP and other for-profits. It’s known to be a great option for working professionals who need to complete a college degree and have a lot of credits.

      1. Uh-oh*

        Is UoP University of People? My SO and his friend are both going there, but I haven’t looked into it much. Is it a scam or not respected by hiring managers?

        1. SavannahMiranda*

          UoP usually means University of Phoenix – one of the biggest operators in shammy schools.

          Looking at UoPeople it looks like they hold a national accreditation. Which sounds good but it’s a weird thing that *regional* accreditations actually mean far more than national ones.

          As a random example the City University of New York (CUNY) is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Doesn’t sound impressive like ‘nationally accredited’ does – but it means far, far more.

          All by itself that doesn’t mean UoPeople is shammy. Just a red flag to look deeper.

          1. Uh-oh*

            Thank you! I’m not familiar at all with accreditation standards at all, but you’ve given me some keywords to look into!

          2. Mobuy*

            UoP is not scammy. I got a degree in school counseling and the teachers were all real working professionals, unlike my ed degree from a traditional school where most of the professors taught for one year a couple of decades ago. I think UoP has a worse reputation on AAM than anywhere in the real world.

      2. considering Western Governors University*

        Thank you, good to know that higher ed sees it as respectable! Some of my career prospects are there.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I have a friend who’s worked for WGU for years, it’s not a scam, just aimed more at working adults.

      1. considering Western Governors University*

        Thanks for your reply! I know WGU isn’t a scam, I’m just interested in whether hiring managers do. I’m glad there are alternative options out there for working adults.

    4. Rock Prof*

      While I don’t know much about WGU’s reputation in most fields, I’ve had lots of friends and colleagues who have taught (temporarily or as a full-time job) for it. The classes are legit if a bit standardized, and they were putting the same amount of teaching, grading, and interacting as I do when I teach an online course through the state school I teach at.

      1. considering Western Governors University*

        Interesting, thank you! I’ll have to reach out to someone in the MBA program to see how good it is at teaching business concepts from scratch if I decide to pursue this.

    5. ..Kat..*

      If you want an MBA, I suggest you look elsewhere. MBAs aren’t just about having one. Where you get it matters. And WGU is not a good enough school. Especially when you would be spending tens of thousands of dollars.

      Do any schools in your area have a decent reputation and offer an “Executive MBA?” This is an MBA for people with work experience who need to work while going to school. Tend to have classes on weekends and nights.

      1. considering Western Governors University*

        Thanks for your reply, but like I said in my initial comment, this would be more for my personal growth in understanding business concepts than the name prestige of “having” an MBA from one of the top schools. I’m considering it because WGU is the one place it can be done /without/ going tens of thousands of dollars into debt. Obviously if I want to pay $150k I will get my money’s worth at a high tier school. For $7k I might consider just learning the concepts if putting it on my resume wouldn’t actively degrade it.

        1. ..Kat..*

          Some places offer free seminars on business stuff. Is that a possibility for you? Since you aren’t actually interested in the MBA, but the concepts?

          1. considering Western Governors University*

            I’ve thought about doing a “free MBA” through MOOCs but I’d have to pay something for a lot of those too, plus do a lot of legwork to find courses for everything I’d need and roll them into a program for myself. I’m not sure a free seminar is as useful as a full, formal introduction to all the skills I’m interested in with the extra bonus of accountability for the material, but if you know of any seminar programs that are that complete I’d love to hear about them.

    6. iMBA through UIUC and Coursera*

      Super late – but you can consider doing the iMBA program on Coursera in conjunction with UIUC. UIUC’s entire MBA curriculum is free on Coursera (so you don’t have to build your own). You can audit all their classes for free, pay Coursera to get a cert if you want, take it for-credit (then you pay the university) or can enroll as a full degree grad student. I’m actually in their iMBA program (will get a MBA degree from UIUC when I’m done). It is super affordable ($22k) and everything is done online. I’m also learning everything “from scratch”. I don’t come from a business background (I work in healthcare on the clinical side) and have found the program to cover a wide-span of business topics. I’m almost halfway done with the program and really like it. Google: Illinois imba for more info.

  24. softcastle mccormick*

    I’ve spent the better part of this week wracked with anxiety after a truly excellent phone interview for a very competitive internal position at our corporate branch. It went longer than expected, I hit it off well with the interviewer, and she said that even though they were originally looking for someone with a little more specific experience, she was so impressed with our conversation and all the things she’d heard about me that I was a very competitive candidate.

    But…it’s been four business days and I haven’t heard anything yet. I know it’s crazy for me to expect to hear back yet since she specifically said that it’s an incredibly busy time in the department (preparing for a long international scouting trip), but I can’t help but refresh my e-mail obsessively. I just want to /know/ I didn’t get it so I can get back to my real life and get my head out of the clouds. Sigh. The worst that can happen is that I’ve shown my initiative for future positions.

    1. theletter*

      Put it out of your mind!!! You have to just let them make their decision in their own mind.

  25. Jaid*

    I stayed home this week with a bad cold and no desire to share with the rest of the unit. I am bored, though. I’m lucky I like my coworkers enough to miss talking to them…

    1. SaaSyPaaS*

      I hope you feel better soon. I had one job where I would feel the same way about missing work due to illness. It was such a great group of people. We all still keep in touch too.

  26. De Minimis*

    I have an interview scheduled for next week! Very excited, it would be a return to the field that I’ve been the most interested in over these last few years, and would be a promotion [at least in title.] It’s non-profit so I’m a little concerned about the pay [they didn’t give a salary range in the job posting…] but we’ll see how it goes.

    I’ve been in my current job just over six months but it’s just not a fit for me and has zero growth potential.

  27. Cute Li'l UFO*

    Wahoo! As I always knew I would I got into another interview I had this week and OWNED IT, per my ex-CEO’s instructions on how to do things efficiently.

    It is a 2 week period to start with a discussion about the FT role at the end of the two weeks. So, freelance to permanent. I previously interviewed with them last year in April, they went with someone else, and contacted me in December to see if I was available for freelance work.

    They’d be looking to start me next week and are looking for my freelance rate, which I admit is giving me a bit of anxiety. Having freelanced before I don’t know what my hangup is about talking money, but it’s just one of those things I have to go in and rip that band-aid off very quickly and then it’s over.

    This would be an EXCELLENT move for me, I feel.

  28. Anon4This*

    How do you emotionally detach from a company that you don’t respect, in an environment where it’s almost impossible to affect any change? Technically my job is very simple (too simple, really) and I should be able to clock in, clock out, and not worry about much. But in practice I find myself getting incredibly frustrated and often even disgusted by how things are managed. There are projects I’ve been working on for 1.5 years that are no further along now than they were back then because there is so much bureaucratic nonsense and incompetency. If that weren’t frustrating enough, the company continues to make changes that negatively impact the employees (like taking away benefits) and infantilizes us. I know the long-term solution is “Find a new Job” but in the short-term, how do I put in my 40 hours without getting constantly upset at the way things are?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish there were a magic bullet to this. I’ve been in situations like that, and unfortunately “find a new job” was the only real solution, and I was just miserable until then. I know that’s not super encouraging, but…

    2. Dame Judi Brunch*

      I went through this. What worked for me was getting my resume together and working on my interview skills. (Outside of work hours) Having something to occupy my mind helped, as well as knowing I was preparing myself for getting out. It changed my mindset from hopeless to hopeful.

    3. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      I experience this too. It’s draining! Sometimes I observe myself getting worked up/frustrated/disgusted/exhausted by certain inefficiencies and especially mismanagement and when I realize it’s happening I tell myself: just work hard and do a good job for the 8 hours I’m here each day. I can’t do it all, and it’s not my money being wasted. It’s not my burden to bear.
      I’m also applying for a master’s program to get on a different career path… it’s going to take a while because I’m planning to continue working full time, but just having a light at the end of the tunnel makes a big difference to my mental state when I get frustrated with my job.

      1. DataGirl*

        You sound like one of my colleagues :)

        I was hoping to give this place at least 2 years since my last job was only 6 months (I’m at the 14 month mark now). Part of my problem is that the job I was hired for/job title is vastly different from the work I’m actually doing. I come from a specialized skill set and fear I am losing all those skills because they don’t have me doing any of that work. So I am working on some certifications on my own time that will hopefully be helpful when I go to look for a new job.

      2. Bananafish*

        What would you recommend if working harder and doing a good job means exacerbating the very practices and problems that you find disgusting or unethical? If I were to do my job ethically, the company would go out of business (no legal issues, just moral ones). If I do my job well based on the yard sticks that measure success in this industry, I need to exploit people with very few resources to even recognize their being exploited.

    4. ContemporaryIssued*

      I feel this in a big way. My temporary solutions would be to find a ventmate, somebody you like in the office who feels the exact same way you do. Then get together for a drink or a coffee and just vent it all out.

      If you can’t find one, just repeat to yourself, “not my business, not my monkeys”. The problem with these kinds of environments is that they make you feel like you can see the incompetency on every level, but because you can only do your work, you can’t really fix the problem on every level, only your own. So stick to your lane, keep your head down, and the next time you think, “Why don’t they just do X or do Y better, then this wouldn’t be an issue?”, banish the thought and just think about what you’re gonna do later tonight or on the weekend.

      1. Anon4This*

        I have one of those, but I fear our constant gripping to each other just makes it worse.

    5. Southern Yankee*

      Is there a way you can reframe the situation to be entertaining rather than frustrating? Maybe use each teeth grinding moment to imagine how you would do things differently in your own company, or create a list of all the “bad boss/bad company” behaviors so you can avoid them in the future, or as source material for your future best-selling book, or create a mental perfect company, etc. Imagine a Simpsons episode satirizing your company? Say all the things mentally that you wish you could say out loud? Do a Walter Mitty on them!

      1. DataGirl*

        I do this a little bit, like whenever they do something stupid I’ll say, “That’s so [Company Name]! in a bright, sing-songy voice (mostly just in my head, but occasionally to a friend). And I also say ‘not my circus, not my monkeys’ a lot.

        1. Qosanchia*

          I did that a lot at my old job, which was food service, and therefore full of that kind of thing. It made it better that “So [company name]!” was a slogan/tagline they used.

    6. Kathenus*

      Realize that there are things that you cannot change, and that you have two choices right now, either accept them (doesn’t mean agree with them, but accept that they exist and you can’t change them) or continue to let them frustrate/aggravate/annoy you. If you choose the latter, you are the only one suffering from the situation, since presumably the company is fine with things as is. For the longer term you can obviously look to move on, or maybe you can find ways to affect change in the company. But if you truly cannot change them and at least right now are staying, try to accept them in the present and reduce their ability to upset you on a regular basis. Sucks, I know, but don’t let the negative situation be even worse by letting it make you unhappy every day while you’re working towards a more positive future.

      1. Southern Yankee*

        I heard this in the voice of sharp-witted dry humor coworker and it totally made me laugh!

    7. Canuck*

      I’ve been there big time. Learning how to protect your heart and soul while still putting out quality work is a careful balancing act but it is totally possible – and will likely make you a better employee, colleague and generally happier human. Here are my techniques:
      1. I think about what I can control and admit to what I cannot. I personally write it down – makes it feel more meaningful to me. For example, I can control what colour I choose for the teapot design, but I can’t control how it is presented for approval. It helps me remember that I shouldn’t be taking on the world’s problems.

      2. I start using some key language with my manager and my team that separates my role from the mess. At the end of a meeting, I’ll say something like: “Okay, I’m going to focus on X and Y this week, but will you let me know where you land with Z?” (Z being the piece of the project that is above my head or not in my department).

      3. I go for a walk when I find myself too wrapped up in something. I listen to music, clear my head and come back much calmer.

      4. I create tasks for myself that give me a sense of accomplishment to complete them. Sometimes the simplest items make my to-do list but it makes me feel happy to cross it off.

      5. I find something outside of work that I find fulfilling and lets my mind wander. For me, it’s working out and cooking. I find working out gives me that rush of endorphins that makes me feel better about any situation, and cooking lets me create something and find some happiness in that. I also get to work through stuff in my brain while I do both.

      Best of luck. Keep thinking about moving on though – even if you commit to doing one thing a week that pushes you in that direction, you may find it feels less and less of a mountain to climb. Start with a networking coffee, sprucing up your LinkedIn, etc. Start small (your resume probably feels too big for now) – but soon you’ll start having more and more space in your brain for job hunting and you’ll be okay!

      1. Lettuce Mutton Tomato*

        These are such great tips! I’m feeling the same as the OP and could use some new things to try as my previous coping mechanisms aren’t cutting it. I tend to feel responsible for everything so I especially like your first tip. Thank you!

      2. Anon4This*

        These are all really great tips, thank you. I do try to do fun things outside of work but often am so tired/overwhelmed that I get home and just crash. It’s frustrating.

    8. Spool of Lies*

      I have no advice, only commiseration because holy heck, are you me?

      I am also searching for a job but it’s really hard to stay motivated in this type of situation. I try my best to adopt the amused anthropologist outlook.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Lower your expectations? “Of course Company took away our health insurance. That is in keeping with everything else we have seen so far. This is why I am leaving.”

      Sometimes jobs stop being about the work and shift to being about the people working there. I found it helpful to challenge myself in my relationships with others. For example, I worked on explaining obvious things to otherwise knowledgeable people without letting them down in some manner. “So yes, Nancy, two apples plus two apples equals four apples. It’s very similar to your grapefruit example you have there. Let me show you this little diagram that helped me with this point. [etc, etc].”
      I looked for things that came up repeatedly and decided to grow my skills for the recurring hurdles. I do think it helped me with other jobs, as I learned to think faster on my feet. And I learned things that seem to help.

      I grew up in a family who collectively did not do a good job holding their tempers. I could see that temper never resolves much. So I used my irritation at my job to develop and collect a bunch of tools that I would be able to use in other settings.

    10. HermioneWeasley*

      I totally get this. In my very similar current situation I’ve struggled so hard to fix things, bring up positive solutions to problems and help contribute positively in any way I can. Unfortunately, none of it has worked out and has only resulted in me having a “troublemaker” type reputation (which is pretty laughable if you know me!)

      A few things have really helped me:
      – Do the minimum (this is so against my nature, and it sounds like yours too. But doing my job and ONLY my job has been essential to my survival)
      – Viewing everything with the curiosity of an Anthropologist (By this I mean that when my boss says something offensive or they make an insane sure-to-fail decision or anything else that could drive me nuts, I pretend like I’m an Anthropologist discovering some new culture. I’ll think “Hmm… what a strange decision! Wonder what drives that?” or “Oh wow. He’s clearly stroking his own ego again. Look at the strange species of presidentus blowhardus in his natural habitat!” It makes me laugh and helps me see things with curiosity instead of immediate frustration)
      – Refusing to take anything personally (none of this is about YOU. Even if people around you try to make it seem that way or you feel somehow responsible to fix the issues you see, just remind yourself that it’s not yours to stress over)
      – An end of day ritual (I have a google doc where I journal for a few minutes to get out the day’s frustrations and then a playlist that I listen to on my way to get my kids. This helps me separate my frustrating work life with my home life)
      – Making a plan to leave (I am, unfortunately, looking for other positions and I haven’t even been here a year. It’s not ideal (and it sounds like you would prefer to stay longer too) but my mental health isn’t worth anything that staying longer would provide. Yours isn’t either! Look around and see what’s out there, ask yourself questions about where you really want to go with your career. Use all of your energy to push forward instead of worrying about the current situation)

      Best of luck!!

      1. Anon4This*

        I love these suggestions. I also really look forward to my drive home, even when there’s traffic, because I listen to music and try to decompress. It doesn’t always work, but I try. I bought a journal for Christmas and haven’t even cracked it, lol. Maybe an online journal would be a better idea.

        1. HermioneWeasley*

          Another thing I forgot to mention! My therapist turned me on to this way of thinking and it’s really helped. The idea is that we all only have a certain amount of “forks” to give in a day (substitute forks with the word of your choice :)) Some days it’s 10, some days I only have 5, etc. We get to choose how we budget those out. So I know that I have to save some for my life outside of work, some for myself, etc. When I’m presented with a decision or an argument I try to remember to ask myself how many “forks” this is probably going to take and if it’s worth it. It’s helped me to be more aware of where my energy was going and to feel more intentional about the things I’m choosing to engage with.

  29. Teacher or Faculty?*

    I am a high school math teacher with just over 20 years experience getting ready to leave my 2nd school in 2 years due to a dysfunctional team, unsupportive admin and (am I getting to old for this?) student behavior and apathy.
    I have interviews lined up at another school to teach all (or mostly) upper level kids and for full-time faculty at the local community college.
    My question is this: can I call HR at the college to ask if they pay into my state’s teacher retirement before the interview? That would be a big factor in whether I would be interested in that job. Is there anything else that I should be thinking about to help make the decision about which job would be better?

    1. Minerva McGonagall*

      You may be able to find out directly from your state’s DOE/retirement plan. Depending on your state, that might be the case, or might not. You may be able to find it through the CC HR website if they’re transparent about that kind of stuff.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think that question is probably better asked during an interview than before you’ve even applied. That said, have you checked out the community college’s Glassdoor reviews? There’s a benefits section for each company/school, and people may have alreasdy explained how retirement works there.

      1. Teacher or Faculty?*

        I’ve checked Glassdoor for reviews, but I didn’t know they had a benefits section. I’ll look for that. Calling the state retirement number is a good idea, I’ll try that too.

        1. Prof*

          Or just poke around on the HR/benefits website for the college. Often they at least mention who their insurance/pension/other benefits providers are.

    3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I think you can call the state’s teacher retirement plan directly and ask.

      1. Rainy*

        This is what I would do.

        I’d also caution against mentioning it in an interview as the explicit reason for applying; we interviewed someone for an admin position in our higher ed department a few years ago and when they were asked “What made you apply to this job?” they said “I need a job that pays into [state educational pension plan], and this one does, so I applied”. This candidate had a lot of other problems, but starting out the interview with “I don’t care what you do here as long as you pay into my pension plan” really didn’t work for us.

        1. Teacher or Faculty?*

          Of course. If it doesn’t pay into retirement then it is almost a no go, but if it does then I can judge the jobs based on merit.

          1. Teacher or Faculty?*

            I guess I should say, both jobs have their pros and cons, but not paying into teacher retirement is a pretty big con

    4. A Teacher*

      Depending on the state you are in, they are different retirement systems. I’m in Illinois so TRS is teacher retirement and I adjunct at at CC at that is SURS. When I retire, I have to roll one pension into the other–it may be the same where you are at as well.

    5. Rock Prof*

      I teach at a state university with a spouse who is a high school teacher, and in all my positions and interviews I’ve never encountered a place where they both pay into the same retirement system. My experiences have only been in a few states in the midwest and the east coast, so maybe it’s more common then I think, but my first guess would be that it probably isn’t the same. It’s definitely worthwhile to ask about it though!

      1. just a random teacher*

        I am almost entirely sure that it is the same pension plan for both k-12 and college in my western state. One of the oft-cited-in-the-media issues with our state pension plan is the absurdly large pension a certain former college football coach gets. (My grandmother, who spent an entire career patiently teaching little kids in a rough neighborhood how to read and do basic math, gets a much smaller pension from the same fund.)

        In my state, I’m pretty sure there’s only one state pension program, period. There are different tiers depending on when you first entered the system (I will get an even worse pension than grandma, because I had the poor taste to be born later and am thus in a later tier), but all public jobs are in the same pension program.

        I second the person who suggested calling the pension folks and asking. They probably know offhand and it’s unlikely to get back to the people you’re interviewing with if you don’t even mention that you want to know because you’re applying for a job rather than general curiousity.

    6. Nesprin*

      Yep, call the college’s HR (or where I am, it’d be the district’s HR). In my area the high school district != the CC district and each has its own retirement program.

  30. Birch*

    So, what power do employees actually have to give feedback to/about bad managers? I keep seeing on here not to be honest in 360 reviews and exit interviews for fear of retribution, but if the higher-ups either don’t know about the issues or are unwilling to do anything about it, what power or responsibility do employees have to help their situation when it’s toxic but doesn’t rise to the level of report-this-now? Do we have a responsibility to new hires or potential hires? How do you even warn people without looking like a gossip? Do we all just try to get out ASAP? I feel complicit in the cycle by not doing anything.

    1. Alternative Person*

      I don’t think there’s a lot that can be done if the manager is invested in the status quo/things are functional enough. The best I’ve been able to do is pick what battles I double dog care about, keeping my gossip highly factual and professionally grounded, and being very carefully honest when I’m interviewing potential hires. I’ve also directed my co-workers to what resources I can (internal and external), name dropped other companies and stuff.

      Getting out is difficult in my area because the company had the sense at least to make the pay very competitive for the level of the work and the higher paying/better run places have high qualification/experience barriers to clear (I’m in the process of that).

      I don’t think you’re being complicit if your doing your best not to be dragged down to the level of the lowest common denominator at the workplace.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I think there are rare exceptions, but generally when it’s that toxic, there is no real way to give meaningful feedback that will be taken seriously and that will result in no form of retaliation. Telling an abuser she’s an abuser doesn’t somehow make her say “Oh, I’m an abuser? I didn’t know. I’ll change.” You do not bear any responsibility. Get out.

      1. Birch*

        This is what I was afraid of. I just feel so bad for those with even less power than me–I’m barely hanging on a lot of time time as it is and I was so lucky to have amazing mentors when I was in their position. A bit of survivor’s guilt, I guess. And we keep getting new hires. I’m trying to be accurate without being dramatic about the bananacrackers expectations here and give hints where I can, but it’s this weird sense of, can we trust the newbies not to rat us out if we complain, vs. throwing the newbies to the wolf.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I think you can give truthful but carefully worded euphemistic answers, and candidates will generally get the gist. You don’t have to literally yell at them “Run away. Run away now!” Sometimes even a bit of hesitation when answering will give candidates the clues they need.

    3. ReadyToGo*

      Thanks for posting this, because I’ve been struggling with this as well. I’m on my way out of a company that knows my boss is ridiculous, but for reasons, won’t do anything about it. I’ve spoken to HR and grand boss multiple times and no meaningful change happened. It’s been hard for me to just write this company off as not a good fit for me and not want to speak up one last time about the way my boss has been negatively affecting the quality of work from my department. But sometimes you have to dive deep into Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. It would be great if you could warn new / potential hires but you don’t have a responsibility to them. They have to decide for themselves whether they want to deal with the dysfunction once they have firsthand information about it.

    4. Kathenus*

      It’s really a difficult situation, and complex, in my opinion. And so much depends on the individual people and organization involved. But for me, in general, I err on the side of giving honest but professional feedback when I can. I can’t make the organization listen or act, but I can control my part of the situation, which is to try. I view it that it’s hard to get frustrated with a company that won’t take action if I’m not willing to try and be part of that solution by being honest when needed. It’s certainly a know your company thing because of course you don’t want to put your job in harm’s way, but in my opinion whenever you can try to be part of improving things by providing accurate feedback you should.

    5. Social*

      You have to be a superstar employee with lots of receipts to get your boss fired.

      I once got my terrible boss to retire, but it took a couple of years. First they moved me to report into someone else, then they promoted me to be at the same level as him, then I was promoted to be above him. Finally, he got put on a PIP. Halfway through he left.

    6. ChachkisGalore*

      I totally hear you on feeling complicit in the cycle. I do feel like I have some inner obligation to warn people before they step into a giant flaming pile.

      That said, I also try to remind myself, that nobody is looking out for me except me – particularly in those situations that you do want to report or warn people about. If there’s any sort of risk of blowback or negative consequences, then I try to mentally waive that obligation. I still want to try to help, but I’ll limit myself to “interview-esque” answers or wording. Basically how I would diplomatically explain this in an interview without actively trashing the company/boss. I find that framing eases some of my guilt – in that I’ve done or shared what is acceptable, but hopefully haven’t put myself at risk of blowback

    7. NW Mossy*

      I’m a manager, and my predecessor (a then-peer of mine) got fired. The team was very open with their grandboss (my boss) about the issues, which is not surprising given that she is excellent (there’s a reason I’ve worked for her in three different roles!) and makes it clear that she’s open to feedback.

      What they might not have realized, though, is that managers can and do talk to their bosses about issues they see with their peers. I know I told my boss about things I observed that lined up with what his team was seeing, and I know that other managers were doing the same. All of this together ultimately became the foundation for firing him.

      This obviously doesn’t work in every situation, but if there’s another manager in the organization that is both good at the job and respected by higher leadership, that’s a potential pathway to influence what’s happening at that level.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I totally get the idea of feeling complicit.

      In the end, all I could do was make sure my 1 square foot of company responsibility was run fair and square.

      I did learn that it was good practice to help the immediate bosses find persuasive points so they could get some changes made reality.

      It’s rough with watching the new hires. One thing to keep in mind is that no one told you when you started. Another thing to keep in mind if you feel the need to warn people this might be an assumption on your part that they won’t be able to make changes either OR that they may not even be able to handle the toxic place. I have told myself these things. As an employee, I desperately needed the new hire to work out and stay with us, so that became my goal to help the new hire last a while.

      I have seen new hires profoundly impact a workplace. An example: No one wants to do X because they don’t really know how, they mess it up etc. So everyone ends up arguing over whose turn it is to do X. New hire comes in and they are expert at X, they don’t mind doing it. They see that it upsets everyone and they agree to take a load off of people. You can feel the collective sigh of relief as this seemingly impossible problem now has a solution.

      I have stayed at two jobs for way too long. The thing I saw with each job is that over time everything changes and I do mean everything. If we stay one to three years we only see a snippet in the story line. It’s people who stay for longer who see how some problems go away and new ones emerge. I stayed at one job for over a decade (yeah, I know, drrr.). But when I left that job was hugely different than the job I started at, there were so many changes. Some of the worst things did get fixed (some fixes were forced fixes). Comparing my first day on the job to my last day on the job was day and night different. The new hires may or may not have the same problems you have or had.

  31. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

    Hi, just wanted to ask a few general questions. I’ve only worked in 1 company for a few years so I don’t have a lot of experience in how things tend to be at different organizations.

    1. Generally speaking, when a company decides to advance someone, they start by giving them higher level work and eventually promoting them, which comes with a raise. It’s not raise –> work, is it?

    2. If you are denied a promotion due to attitude and performance, is it normal to go above that manager to their boss and HR and threaten to sue?

    1. Four lights*

      1. It may depend on the business. My experience has been you are promoted, and then have new responsibilities. However, my husband who is in software says that in that industry you are often promoted because you have already been doing the work for the new role.

      2. No.

    2. Susan Calvin*

      1) depends, but more or less yes (although I personally side eye orgs that don’t do annual salary reviews with at least CoL adjustments on principle)

      2) NO.

      1. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

        My company does do annual raises. Every single staff member gets an increase, and those who get promoted get a bigger increase.

        An employee asked for a raise, and was denied. They then went to their manager’s boss and HR. When that was not successful, they went to the CEO. That employee has threatened to sue the company for discrimination. The “investigation” found that they did all their job duties, and the incidences of being disrespectful, unreliable attendance, and insubordinate didn’t count b/c they were never documented.

        1. Southern Yankee*

          So, just the one employee didn’t get any raise in the annual process and the company had no documentation as to why? If so, that’s a pretty bad process (both boss and HR). In many companies with annual raises, there would be an annual written performance review that should support in general terms of the raise (i.e. employee is rated satisfactory, excellent, etc., and that rating corresponds to some range of % increase). In the case of a poor performer with attendance and attitude issues, that would support the lack of raise.

          Of course, it’s also possible the boss is a jerk and made up the performance issues as CYA after the fact.

          1. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

            The employee did receive their annual raise during the evaluation period. The performance review was “good” I believe (4 out of 5). The attendance issues started after that.
            Boss did not make up the attitude issues.

        2. The New Wanderer*

          Do you mean the employee didn’t get the annual (non-merit based?) raise that everyone else got? Or that they got a promotion without the additional raise? Or that they asked for a promotion with the additional raise and didn’t get the promotion?

          If the employee didn’t get the annual raise after they did all their job duties and no documentation on poor attitude existed, then the employee made the right call in escalating, although the flip side is that person’s attitude and performance will probably be highly scrutinized from now on. The poor attitude absolutely should have been documented in the first place.

          If the employee didn’t get a promotion but they were not an exceptional employee (“did all their job duties” is the basic requirement for their current job, not a basis for promotion), the employee made the wrong call regardless of whether documentation existed about their poor attitude. Average employees don’t get to demand promotions under threat of a spurious lawsuit.

          1. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

            The employee did get the annual raise that everyone else got.

            They asked for a promotion & raise a few months later and were denied due to performance and attendance issues. The employee had been advised many months prior that in order to advance they had to have a certain license. However, they did not obtain that license and the company takes a very firm stance on that.

            The boss talked to the employee about these issues but there was no paper trail at that time as far as I am aware.

    3. Kate*

      1. Yep! Occasionally if you’re switching departments to do something pretty different, it could be raise –> work. But if you’re in the same/similar department, it’s work –> raise.
      2. Nope!

    4. Not Maeby But Surely*

      1. Yes, I would say in my industry a person will start to be given more autonomy / higher level work, see how they do with it, which can – but doesn’t always – lead to an official promotion into a job which deals more with that higher level work. Usually the official promotion comes with a raise.
      2. No, that’s not normal unless there is a well documented history of something sue-able, such as discrimination based on a protected status (gender, age, religion, etc.) If an employee’s attitude and performance is poor, a reasonable employee should not expect a promotion until their performance issues have been consistently brought in line with expectations.

    5. Southern Yankee*

      1. Depends on industry, company and even job, and is subtly different in either case. You might have the title of teapot inspector, but the expectation of the level you will do that job would be different if you were completely inexperienced as a teapot inspector, had previously been a teacup inspector, or if you had several years of experience as a teapot inspector. If completely inexperienced person gets the teapot inspector job, they will probably get increasing levels of autonomy and responsibility without any raise or promotion, just a normal progression. If during some period of time you catch up to experienced teapot inspector in skills and also demonstrate potential with good judgement, leadership, etc., then that might lead to promotion + bigger than COL raise. So, maybe work -> promotion/raise -> Work (where “work” is normal progression and “Work” is a higher level set of responsibility and ownership with a promotion.
      2. No, definitely not normal. If you mean the employee’s attitude and performance as a reason for the denied promotion, going over the bosses head would probably be seen as proof of the attitude problem and an inability to accept feedback. If you mean the boss has a bad attitude and performance issues, then that is an entirely different conversation. Even in that case I wouldn’t make the conversation with boss or grand boss about the promotion issue specifically (it’s too self involved).

  32. Teapot Team Lead*

    Anyone here have experience working as a team lead where you manage the work of your fellow teapot makers and provide them feedback but do not have any disciplinary or HR responsibilities? Those responsibilities stay with the overall team manager. Any regrets on taking such a lead role after being a peer teapot maker for a couple years? The role does come with more money but job satisfaction is a bigger priority at this time.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      It means your job is to essentially notify your boss of any problems, and fill in the gaps of any problems your boss or company has chosen to ignore. On the other hand, because you have no disciplinary/HR responsibilities, your boss is ultimately the one held accountable for failures in your department. The only exception would be unless there’s something dysfunctional up the chain of command, in which case you could find yourself a scapegoat for other’s failures.

    2. irene adler*

      Can be dicey if there’s push back from the team regarding your directions. Your manager MUST demonstrate that he supports your directions completely. If there’s any doubt regarding this support, then you’ll be in for a difficult time trying to get team to heed your directions. So get your signals straight betw. you and your manager.

    3. Free Meerkats*

      That’s the exact position I’m in right now, and may be until I retire in (checks phone) 1295 days.

      Program Manager retired in May and in previous management’s eyes, I was taking his position when he retired. New 2nd level manager, Director and Mayor; now his position is being left vacant for an indeterminate time. So I’m the technical lead (with 5% pay bump) with a manager taking up the stuff that involves HR. While I do look forward to no longer doing field work, I’m rolling with this. I have transferred most of the companies I regulate to the people I “manage” and can also get paid for as much overtime as I want to do the programmatic stuff that needs to be done. Things like reports to the state and federal folks who regulate us, work assignment, maintaining ordinances/policies/procedures, etc.

      I have a few regrets; the pay bump would be nice – though I can make that up with ~3 hours OT a week – which I’m not doing right now, the time to do the other programmatic things I’d like to do, but aren’t required, the slightly better benefit package management gets.

      All in all, I’m content.

    4. Kix*

      Yes. When I was a team lead, my team knew if they didn’t like my directives, they could go to the manager and complain and there was a good chance they’d get what they wanted. I left that job because he made it impossible for me to do my job, which was to lead and coach my team to success.

    5. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

      This can work really well or very badly. I managed a team lead with the same responsibilities. Here’s why it worked in our situation.

      -She knew the day to day work much better than I did (I came into managing the team with no technical experience in what the team did -Ok if I’m honest I first learned of the team’s existence and their function when I was told I was taking over managing the team).
      -She was already the ‘organic’ leader in the team before she was given the lead title.
      -She had input into performance appraisals (we would talk about the team and she would provide examples and supporting information)
      -I backed up her decisions. So on the rare occasions that something did bubble up to me, I’d get the story from both sides and in all cases I agreed with the lead.
      -She kept me very much in the loop, so if there was something she wasn’t sure on then she and I would talk before she took it to the team.

      In this lead’s case the title was catching up to what she was already doing, and was a stepping stone to the next level that she’s in now (Supervisor w/HR and disciplinary responsibilities).

    6. Teapot Team Lead*

      Thanks for all the insight. In this case, the manager was a teapot maker maybe a decade ago. He certainly knows the ins and outs of teapot making. Just not all the current practices. Even though I have only been at the company for two years, I have the most experience on the team. I like making teapots and I’m not 100% sure about taking this opportunity. I need to think through if I think he will really have my back. You’ve given me much to consider.

  33. Communication issues*

    I have a co-worker who is under me in the .org chart though we share the same boss. He does not listen. I have tried emailing him and telling him on the phone and in person. This week I emailed him direction on something and in the two sentces it said verify a and do x. He did y instead. I will tell him exactly where to find information he needs (full file path) and he will wait for me to look it up for him myself. He also just do paperwork required for the job and waits me for even if I am busy on some other time sensitive issue. I have ‘a terrible boss who is never going to change.’ Any suggestions? This is a small company and the boss is the boss.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Does what he does directly affect what you need to do? If not then let him fail. Keep the docs you send him with the instructions in case it ever comes up but as you are not his boss you cannot hold him accountable.

      Unfortunately if his role feeds yours (such as teapot make and teapot painter) you can’t really do that. I would try talking with the boss again (I know you said terrible never going to change) but try to lay it out as a “Coworker isn’t doing X which delays me doing Y and the end result is that Customer doesn’t get their teapot on time. We’ve lost customers/refunded money/had order cancelled to the tune of $Z as a result.”

      And look for another job because your boss and coworker suck.

      1. Communication issues*

        I think your right I need to let him fail and little and the show tangibles. Sadly his role does feed mine and typically I get the aftermath phone calls.

        1. valentine*

          Don’t look stuff up for him. Tell him not to wait. If it helps, tell him not waiting will show initiative and ownership. If he just wants to ride your coattails, mamma mia. Redirect the calls: “Oh, my goodness! Zeke was on that. Please hold while I transfer you. *transfer; sotto voce* Mua ha ha ha ha”. Of course, he might say he knows nothing and you didn’t tell him anything. Let him fail and, when he does, forward whatever you have to boss with a note: “Waiting for xyz from Zeke”.

          And schedule more naps because he sounds exhausting!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Tell your boss that your subordinate needs to be replaced and you would like to be in charge of hiring the next person.
      Eh, your boss might go for it. Think about framing in in talking points that your boss relates to.
      Ex 1: Your boss places a high importance on having everyone LUUUUVE them. So you make sure you talk about how the coworker under minds the boss and if true, how the coworker talks negatively about the boss.
      Ex 2: Your boss only cares about financials. This one is easier, you just lay out how much money the company lost because of this employee each week.
      Ex 3: Your boss is all about time. He is always busy with too much to do. In this case, your chat would focus on how much this guy is not working and only adding to the workload.
      The overall idea is you want to show the boss how this bad employee impacts HIM, not you.

  34. I'm A Little Teapot*

    How do you define a specific career goal when it is a case of be careful what you ask for? (share your experiences!)

    My department is rolling out a new development plan/performance evaluation process. These are fine, they’re designed in such a way that it makes sense. For the development plan, we need to define a goal. Not just a “I want to work on this project” goal, but a “in 10 years, I want to be at x point in my career” type goal. Problem is, I really don’t know. I’m generally happy where I am, and am not interested in moving up the ranks. If there are 5 steps in my field, I’m at step 3, I’m good at step 3, and I really am not interested in what step 4 does. Plus, I would be deeply unhappy doing some of it.

    I’ve periodically had an itch to switch to a related field and have poked at the opportunity in the past, but not enough to seriously consider it. I’m currently building a really good relationship with the head of a department that has opportunities that I may in some point in the future be interested in, but not right now. But I really don’t know if I want to play those cards.

    Part of the issue is that my department head is serious about helping people meet their goals. If I say my goal is to switch to a related field, I will be given that opportunity, there will be conversations that happen between my boss and that department head, etc. This isn’t going to be kept silent. It will happen. And I’m not sure I want it to. So I’m really struggling with how to both give myself the opportunities I’m interested in, without backing myself into a corner of having to take those opportunities.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Maybe something like, “I’m really happy here in the Mango Growers group, and I enjoy my current role. Every once in a while, I have vague thoughts about checking out Papaya Growing best practices, so while I’m definitely not looking to jump ship, I just wanted to throw out there, if there’s ever short-term projects where I could work adjacent to the Papaya Growers team and get a little more of an inkling of what they do and how they do it, I’d love to expand my knowledge in that area on a low-stakes or temporary basis.”

    2. Susan Calvin*

      Does it make sense to set your goal as “improving collaboration with [other department]”, maybe develop a pitch for a shared project/initiative, or become sort of an ambassador? That gets you in contact the other field, and gives you contacts/exposure that are useful if you want to switch eventually, but still firmly keeps you where you are.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        My work is project based. I have the opportunity to work with literally any group/department in the company.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      So might be help to be more specific: I’m in internal audit. I literally can work on any audit, with any department, group, etc that we’re looking at.

      1. Southern Yankee*

        Speaking as formal internal auditor here. Not sure if you are from an accounting, IT or other background, accounting for me which shapes this answer. I found internal audit a great place to get a very good general understanding of a lot of areas of the company and identify areas of interest or areas to avoid. It can be an easy place to get stuck, though, if you don’t venture out of IA. Do you have a good read on how IA is perceived in your company? Do people stay in IA a long time/whole career, or does entire staff turn over every couple years, somewhere in the middle? Do coworkers in IA leave the group for other jobs but sometimes come back?

        I would just have a conversation with your boss along the lines of “I love my job and although I think I might also like x, I’m worried if I jump into that and don’t like it, I’ll be stuck. If that happens, is there any opportunity for me to come back to audit in the future? ” Also, does your company have any rotation programs or mgmt training programs that give you exposure to a few different areas over a 1 or 2 year time period? That might be an option that leaves it open to go back to audit. It’s also ok to want to stay in audit and tell your boss that. It could prompt a conversation about what that might look like a few years down the road – there may be possibilities there that you don’t know about.

        Above all, tell them what you really want, not what you think they want to hear. Good luck!

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          My whole company is massively transforming and growing, the department as well. We are valued, and highest levels of mgmt are actively setting the dept up for growth and to succeed. I came out of public accounting, have thus far been a career auditor. I like it, I’m happy here, I am still learning and growing. We’ve got some old timers, a bunch of new people, etc. They’re developing a rotation program. If we want training in something, if we can make a good argument for why it makes sense, it’ll likely be approved. The manager who was a loose cannon recently transferred out of the dept. Really. It is pretty good.

          1. Southern Yankee*

            If they are looking at a rotation program, that might be a good way to express interest in seeing what other options are out there without full-on committing to leaving audit. I’ve actually had a lot of success in my career (public accting, internal audit, production accting, special projects) by honestly saying that I don’t know. “I don’t know what I want to be doing in 5/10 years because I can see many possible paths. Mainly I want to keep developing new skills and always be challenged.” It’s ok to not have ambition to be the CFO or whatever, just express that thought in a positive way ( i.e. I love audit because xxx and I really think I can accomplish xxx in this job).

            If your department head is serious about helping you meet your goals, then you really are better off saying what you really want, even if the picture is fuzzy or you are not even sure what you want. These kind of development plans often make employees think there is right, politically correct, or obviously wrong answer. In my experience, it is usually just a structured way to get these conversations to happen. Think of it as a mentoring session and ask for their advice. And feel free to ignore the advice if it doesn’t work for you.

    4. Nessun*

      Could you speak to becoming a SME/guru on processes or programs, instead of moving up/over/out? We have several staff who are expected to stay in the roles they’re in, but they are expected to have goals and career progression within those roles. The expectation is that they will learn and grow where they are, by becoming experts on processes or learning in-depth about the programs they use, in order to mentor and guide others. That kind of framework would let you develop skills but makes it clear you’re not looking to move. And it’s always possible to reassess down the road.

  35. Lazy Cat*

    I apologise for how long this is! I’ve been waiting all week to post it.

    I work in a small government organization covering llama management. We have branches for llama reproduction, llama legislation, llama rug sales/creation.

    I work in the llama sales and creation division – there are 5 of us who have the same job. In (I assume) an effort to reorganize some so we don’t all independently report to the deputy director, two of us will become llama rug sales manager (managing store coverage, public sales, etc.) and llama rug creation manager (ensuring we have enough wool, that the correct colors have been ordered, that we are prioritizing certain patterns due to customer demand, etc.).

    Once the two individuals are promoted, one of them (again, I assume) will be a formal supervisor to the three non-managers – but each manager will have the ability to assign duties (sales and creation, respectively) to each of the staff members, including the other manager!

    In other words, we’ll have managers SM and CM, and non-managers X, Y, and Z. SM can assign duties to CM, X, Y, and Z. CM can assign duties to SM, X, Y, and Z. Somehow SM and CM have to balance how much time everyone puts towards sales vs. creation.

    All this is slightly theoretical, as the positions aren’t yet posted (it’s internal application only), so we still don’t know exactly what duties and power each roll will have – but my first reaction is that this is a recipe for chaos. What do you think?

    1. Birch*

      This is indeed a recipe for chaos. Believe it or not, I’ve experienced something very similar! The way I approached it was to create a shared spreadsheet that had a list of tasks paired with the “supervisor” for that task, and then the list of people assigned each task. So for you, Task A is supervised by SM, Task B is supervised by CM, etc. and then you make a record of which tasks X is working on, which tasks Y is working on, and which tasks Z is working on, and you can add a percentage of total, or hours spent, or whatever if multiple people are working on the same task, and then you’ll have to manage the teamwork. This way both SM and CM can see who has space for more duties and who is too busy. About the managers being able to assign duties to each other, we also have a similar situation, and it just requires a little respect and communication between them about how much time they have to devote on those tasks. The key is to update the spreadsheet and also to try to keep individual tasks reported to only one person, otherwise e.g. X has done 60% of Task A, Y has done 30%, and Z has done 10%, X and Y report to SM and Z reports to CM, and if SM forgets to communicate with CM, then CM thinks only 10% of Task A has been done at all. Saves a lot of time and energy to delegate with strict boundaries and lots of communication!

    2. Middle Manager*

      I agree. This sounds really chaotic. Hope there is some rethinking of the plan there.

    3. Lazy Cat*

      Thank you for the comments! Amusingly, the jobs were posted after I posted here. As far as I can tell, neither position has formal supervision of the three non-managers.

      Plus, I realized my true gripe is what an awkward spot this puts the five of us in, in terms of competing with each other. In a staff of only five, I wish our management could decide who best fits a role and offer them a position! If that person doesn’t want it, move on to person #2. (I could understand better if it was a staff of 100, where management would have a harder time gauging interest.)

      1. valentine*

        I hope you have standing to point out to someone that you need an actual chain of command or nothing will be done completely, properly, or on time, especially with the two managers assigning each other tasks! Why not have SM-X, CM-Y and wildcard Z or just slot Z under whichever task needs an extra body the most?

  36. horrified anon*

    (TW for rape/CSA ahead — nothing graphic, but upsetting stuff regardless IMO)
    Alison, you may remember the characters of this situation from a letter I sent you about how my super religious boss is best friends with all her clients. All I can say is, I wish that was my biggest problem now.

    My boss’ husband works for another company that they own together as a couple, the offices of which are on a different floor of the same building that my boss works in. He sometimes uses my computer to work on weekends. He left his personal email logged in and curiosity got the better of me. I know this is terrible, please don’t tear into me for it, but I occasionally read his emails — the first time was an accident, but I found correspondence in there that gives lots of details on my bosses’ attempts to violate labor law. The stuff I’ve learned seems like it could be useful for protecting me if they ever try to pull some shit on me, their most junior and underpaid employee.

    However, yesterday, I uncovered a gchat between my boss’ husband and my boss, in which the two of them discussed their son Jim and their daughter Morgan. Jim is 30ish, married with kids, and was just hired by my boss/his mom. Morgan is maybe 25, married to a guy who also works on my floor, but works with my boss’ husband/her dad on a different floor.

    From the context of their chats, I believe that Jim molested Morgan when they were young — the chats never explicitly say this, but they do say that the family has devoted extensive energy to covering something up from the kids’ childhoods, and that Morgan is feeling traumatized and angry that Jim now works for her mother in the same building as her. Apparently Morgan was threatening to take the thing public, whatever it is, and wants to hospitalize herself. Again, they never explicitly say what Jim did to Morgan, but even so their chats are pretty damning — the plausible deniability is minimal.

    I do not want to work for these people. I find this reprehensible and sickening, especially as a rape survivor myself. I feel terrible for Morgan and can’t look Jim in the eye. My question is: WHAT DO I DO???

    I was lucky to get this office job with my lack of professional experience and, though I’ve been doing well at this job, I’ve been here less than 6 months — hardly long enough to use the experience to get another good job. I absolutely need a job that provides health insurance due to several chronic, disruptive medical conditions that I have, so I’m limited in my ability to leave a job for reasons of principle. And of course I can’t say anything and risk ruining Morgan’s life more, can I? This doesn’t seem like it’s my whistle to blow, and given how dedicated her parents are to keeping this quiet, I worry about what would happen to her. But God…Jim has kids of his own now. The whole situation is totally vile and I don’t know what I can ethically do, especially since this is information that I learned by snooping.

    some potentially relevant details:
    -this is a family company, less than 50 people. the “HR Department” is exactly one guy who is the boss’ brother-in-law
    -they attempted to resolve this by having jim sign a contract promising that he’d never go to the offices on the floor where morgan works. this contract was drawn up by the “HR Department”
    -the people i work for are extremely religious. i share their religion but am a much less dedicated practitioner, and a handful of people in our office don’t practice at all. as with many extremely religious types in secular societies, they’re secretive and a little paranoid

    1. blink14*

      Do not get involved and start looking for a new job. Nothing good will come of this if you stay or if you say anything to the HR department, who is related to the owners and may feel the need to tell them that you’ve been snooping.

      Stop looking at people’s personal email accounts.

    2. Asenath*

      If they’re all adults – and it sounds like they are – they have to sort out their family and personal issues themselves. There’s nothing to “out” – everyone concerned is better informed of their history and their options now than you are – and if you don’t want to work there any more, quit, move on and take the loss financially and in medical care.

      And stop reading other people’s personal emails. That sort of thing is really unprofessional, and if you’re caught you’ll be out of a job even faster than you might want to be.

    3. Youth*

      I know you think you know, but you don’t actually know for sure. That’s the problem with seeing something not meant for you–you have no way of getting the context.

      It sounds like it would be better for you to stay, but you’ll have to continue to be professional with these people. If you can’t, it’s probably best to get out.

      1. HA*

        thank you for this — have been thinking this myself, and am hoping to keep thinking this firmly enough that i can hold it together to stay here, at least for a more respectable tenure than not-quite-six-months.

        for everyone else saying to stop reading other people’s emails, fair enough, and i know that what i did was Not Cool. for whatever it’s worth, the first couple months in a row that I found this guy’s email repeatedly logged into my computer, I immediately logged it out. I have reminded him a couple times to log out one’s email after finishing with it, pretty directly. again, I KNOW THAT I HAVE BEHAVED LIKE A SNOOPING ASSHOLE and i have no interest in doing so further.

    4. deesse877*

      You may have other evidence that you’re not mentioning, but from what’s written I can’t see that this necessarily is a sexual abuse situation. There are, to put it baldly, an infinite number of ways for a family member to hurt a child, and only some are illegal. Respectfully, you should consider the possibility that your mind is going there because of your own history, and maybe because you found out that the problem exists through unethical means. If you’re hugely troubled by a big secret crime, as you seem to be, you might be unreasonably inclined to assume it’s the same crime you experienced yourself.

      That said, they probably are awful people, and I at least don’t think your snooping is an unforgivable sin. A firing offense, yes, but not “bad person” stuff. Here are some thoughts, offered very tentatively and provisionally, about what to do:

      1) The daughter seems to be looking out for herself, not acquiescing to a cover-up; as you say, it’s not your whistle to blow, but she seems to be advocating for herself regardless.

      2) for myself, I’ve found a little peace in an analogous situation by giving time and money to organizations that fight abuse. If there are groups within your faith that oppose domestic abuse and sexual assault, that might be a possibility

      3) despite the “slow down” tenor of my remarks, I do want to confirm that you COULD be right. The world really is full of all kinds of intimate abuse, and it’s awful. I’m sorry that you’re dealing with this.

    5. HA*

      Thank you, folks, for the thoughtful replies here. I guess I let this get in my head a little — I’m in a part of PA where this religious sect is very common, and began feeling a little stifled and paranoid from what I thought I’d uncovered here. And who knows, maybe I’m right, but my energy is definitely better spent on looking for another job. For the time being, I’ve logged out of this guy’s email account again, and fully intend to mind my own business moving forward. I do still feel terrible for the daughter in this situation, but as AAM commenters are fond of saying, not my circus, not my monkeys. In any event, I hope that she’s okay.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Sadly, there are many people out there who have horrible, horrible lives. And they never mention it. Or they frame it as, “Others have it worse.” (Uh, no not really.)
        This is one situation that you happen to know something about. There are millions of others we don’t know. I like the idea of making a donation, perhaps you might eventually find some volunteer work that you would like to do. Allow your upset here to motivate you to do things in the future.
        I have causes that I support for reasons like you show here. The problem was brought into my life enough so I could see it but not far enough into my life so I could respond/help. I help strangers instead. It’s okay to let situations tug at your heart strings. And a good response is to commit to future actions of your own.

    6. Quandong*

      I would definitely start looking for other jobs and devote a lot of effort to getting out of this place.

      Don’t take any action at work apart from stopping yourself reading other people’s emails.

      I do think you may really benefit from talking with somebody about how this has affected you, especially given your own history. Please consider talking with a counsellor, or to somebody at a helpline for survivors. You deserve some support as you navigate your feelings while still working there.

    7. valentine*

      To protect Jim’s and other children, if you are willing to speak to print the emails and to speak to the police in person, get a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney. Ask if the emails might be useful, or even admissible as evidence. You’ll want immunity for the snooping, so the police don’t extort you in case you decide you want to stop at some point or not testify (It probably wouldn’t come to that?) or whatever. I don’t think the family would press charges or sue you civilly because you’d be taking the stand to air their ongoing abuse (forcing Morgan to accept her brother at work!) and whilst saying how you had to do bad thing to correct or avoid Bad Thing, WWJD, etc.)

      I say speak to the police because anonymous stuff can peter out quickly. The parents here could say the emails are fantasy role play and you won’t be able to say they give you weekly lectures on how that’s a sin or what have you. Also, in person, they can see how upset you are for Morgan and how worried you are for Jim’s kids.

      That said, doing something is better than doing nothing. So. Does your police force have an email form where you can report crimes? Maybe you can attach the emails. Morgan’s body, her rules, but you are allowed to consider the other children, even if that results in attention she may not want. The parents have sided with Jim, going so far as to help him infiltrate Morgan’s orbit, and whatever Jim did is so bad, Morgan doesn’t want him in the building and wants to institutionalize herself.

      You need to get out ASAP. Nevermind short stints. The family business wasn’t a good fit, you’ll tell interviewers. You would like to see bigger places (with proper HR!).

      1. valentine*

        Is this the same job/family where the husband molested the kids and you work with kids, but your boss says it’s fine because husband is on a different floor?

  37. Back on Meds*

    Pretty low stakes one here: I’ve recently resumed a medication that I’d gone off of for a while (thought I didn’t need it anymore, turns out I still do; life lesson: don’t unmedicate without at least consulting a pro) and I hope that by doing so, some of my mood-swingy behavior will calm down. My question is: should I mention this to my supervisor or my team? On the one hand I want to be like “OMG I’m so sorry for how I’ve been these past few months”, on the other hand… no one has actually said anything, really. Should I just let it go?

    1. Lupin Lady*

      If it’s really bothering you an option is to casually mention that you had a health thing recently sorted out, but I probably wouldn’t say anything. IF people noticed they more than likely chalked it up to personal stress, and now that it’s gone they’ll think the personal stressor is gone/dealt with

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Unless someone comments that you seem calmer/happier/less stressed/etc… I would leave it be.

    3. Back on Meds*

      Thanks folks! Y’all are the best. I probably won’t say anything – or just chalk it up to “health stressor that got sorted out”. I think I just needed to hear from other people that it was ok to just let it go.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’d just say that you were feeling a little under the weather but you’re better now if anyone mentions it. No need to mention stress (through the word “stressor”) or imply there was a bigger problem.

  38. Alternative Person*

    So I went on holiday last week and prepped handover instructions and work for my clients at my main job. Apparently two of my (male) co-workers think they don’t have to follow instructions and can do whatever comes into their brains at that second.

    There’s no trouble with the clients or anything (this time) but in talking with my manager about it, I can for all intents and purposes litigate my temporary handover reports within an inch of their lives, and prep all I like but my manager won’t enforce them getting done or even give a ticking off to my co-workers for not doing them. I’m not surprised by the complete lack of respect from my co-workers but the failure to put in a token effort is BS.

    At least my holiday was really good.

    1. Asenath*

      Oh, that’s almost to be expected. I knew I wouldn’t be replaced when I took a long holiday – first real holiday in over a decade – but someone would cover anything that she thought couldn’t wait. So I spent time preparing an instruction manual for her. It took me a couple months when I got back to catch up (that was expected) and also to figure out at what stage certain documents were (since she hadn’t followed my processes, I didn’t know if they’d been completed, scanned/filed, sent off to their ultimate destination) and had to re-enter data from scratch since she did it her own way instead of putting it in the appropriate spreadsheet so I could use it to generate an end-of-year report.

      That’s just life.

      1. valentine*

        And I hope you’ll be saying something about it because they’ve all wasted your prep time and are costing you catch-up time.

  39. Tigger*

    Also, really random- I have been thinking about the crazy leap day birthday boss all day today. I hope her report took today off because its her “birthday”

    1. Skylight*

      I was thinking about that yesterday! So weird to deny her a birthday becase time doesn’t skip a day; it’s just labeled differently to correct for the astronmical year.

  40. fed employee hoping to move cross country*

    How likely is it that the Dept of Justice will negotiate grade? I’m currently at one grade in the judiciary and would like to apply for a similar sounding job in another city in the DOJ. However the DOJ job is a full grade below where I am now. Is it possible to negotiate grades, or just steps? I’m currently excepted service and the new job is competitive, which I understand to be less flexible.

    1. Not All*

      I’m not as familiar with DOJ, but other federal Departments you can sometimes negotiate where you come in when a position has been classified as a multi-grade (ie, a GS 9/11 you can negotiate coming in as an 11 if they initially offered it as the 9). Sometimes. Depending on HR/manager.

      BUT in order to change the grade of a position, they have to petition to have it recategorized to both upper-level management (depending on agency, this can sometimes mean as high as the Agency Director; others delegate it down to their regional/state directors.) It then has to go to the NOC for reclassification. I’ve never once seen the process take less than 6 months, and a couple years is more common unless someone has a lot of political capital and are willing to spend it this way.

    2. ADB_BWG*

      My experience at a different agency is that all job announcements have be cleared by HR and are based on the hiring office’s budget and staff levels. For example, if my agency posted a job for a GS-12, it would be because we were approved to hire a GS-12. Not an 11, and definitely not a 13. In some cases, where we would be open to several grades based on the qualified applicants, we would put out two announcements: one for the GS-11 and one for the GS-12. I’ve never experienced a situation in which we interviewed a candidate for GS-12, who told us s/he was a GS-13 and hoped this job could become a GS-13.

      Steps are more negotiable. If you were a GS-13 / step 2, you could be hired as GS-12 / step whatever-matches-salary

      You should also ask about the promotion potential for the job listing. If it’s posted as a GS-12, it may top out there – or it may be possible to get promoted within. In that case, you might be able to ask for a review after 6 months, because as a GS-13 now you will have had at least a year at the GS-12.

      1. fed employee hoping to move cross country*

        This is incredibly helpful, thank you. And exactly what I thought. I’m going to pass on the job. I’m gs-11 and the posted job is gs-9. The highest step for 9 is what I’m making now at 11-3. It’s weird that the posted job is only 9 because the duties are extremely similar to other positions with the same title but higher grade.

        1. Not All*

          Agencies grade REALLY differently. I mostly work with the land management agencies and I can tell you that anything related to visitor services with National Park Service will be a minimum of a couple grades lower than the exact same job would be with Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service. (I’m job hunting right now and don’t even bother to look at most NPS openings because I know they are ridiculously low-graded.)

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        Yes, I second this. When I was hired for my current position it ranged from a GS 5 to a GS 11. Someone who came in with me negotiated for a GS 9, Step 10, which was actually more than a GS 11, Step 1. And yes, if they’ve graded the position at a 13, you won’t be able to negotiate a 14, from what I know about various agencies. Your only option would be to negotiate using the higher steps of the lower grade. Good luck!

  41. Jimming*

    Has anyone transitioned from working from home to commuting? I have an interview for a position where the commute is 60 to 80 minutes long. Currently I work from home. I’m nervous about the transition since I do well working from home, but only looking at WFH jobs limits my options. I’ve commuted before but it’s been a few years! Any tips?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is it a car commute or public transportation? I think that can make a huge difference. For me, the latter is extra time to gear up for the day, the former becomes part of the overall work day.

      1. Jimming*

        I’d have to buy a second car if I was going to drive regularly to this position since I share one with my husband (and the pay is comparable to what I make now so that’s a no go). I don’t mind public transit, it just increases the length of time.

    2. Antilles*

      Okay, so a few off the cuff thoughts and tips:
      1.) Don’t be in a hurry while commuting. Over a commute like that, the time you save for speeding or cutting people off in traffic or aggressive lane jumping or etc is a rounding error; definitely not worth the energy and hassle.
      2.) Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts. It’s a great way to make that time at least somewhat useful and entertaining.
      3.) Factor in the cost of gasoline and car maintenance into your budgeting. If you’re driving 60 to 80 minutes a day (is that one way?), that’s a lot more gasoline and car wear-and-tear compared to WFH. You likely can’t get most companies to pay for this, but when you’re comparing offers, that should certainly be on your mind with salaries.
      4.) You could ask about company plans on telecommuting. There’s a lot of jobs not specifically advertised as WFH which could allow for a happy medium where you work from the office a couple days a week, then telecommute the rest of the time.
      5.) Any flexibility on working hours? Some companies can give you a bit of flexibility on start times to dodge traffic. Or maybe working 4 10’s. Worth asking about during the interview, anyways.
      6.) Is the commute 60-80 minutes because of rush-hour traffic or that long because it’s just traveling from a rural area to a suburb? 60 minutes of stop and go traffic at 15 mph is a lot more mentally exhausting than 60 minutes of cruise control and chilling. The commute is what it is, but it’s worth noting.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        If you don’t want to be in a hurry, you have to allow time for your commute to be even longer, because you will be on the road with others who are in a hurry and you’ll have to cede to their aggression periodically to avoid conflict or accidents.

        1. Antilles*

          If you don’t want to be in a hurry, you have to allow time for your commute to be even longer
          It instinctively seems like that should be the case, but in reality, it doesn’t affect your commute much, if at all.
          1.) There have been a bunch of tests by Mythbusters, police departments, state DOTs, and others who have tested lane jumping and aggressive driving versus just picking a lane and sticking with it and found it usually saves a very trivial amount of time – like “2 minutes on an hour long commute” levels.
          2.) From personal experience, I can definitely tell you that I’ve personally seen the same thing. I commute through the (in)famous Atlanta traffic daily and regularly see someone jumping lanes constantly like a madman…only to end up just a few car lengths behind him a mile down the road after he picks a slow lane or traffic just stops dead or etc.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Sometimes if you leave just a few minutes earlier you beat most of the traffic. And if you’re in a hurry and driving aggressively it not only stresses you out but also increases your chance of causing an accident, so there’s that.

      2. Jimming*

        Yes I’m definitely going to ask about flexibility options in schedule if I get to that part in the interview stage. Thanks for the reminder!

        I should clarify – it’s 60 minutes by car in rush hour one way (maybe 40 when there’s no traffic). Public transit is 70-80 minutes one way because there’s a transfer involved. It’s on the far end of my commuting radius but even as I look for other jobs that are closer I’m going to have to change my daily routines, which is the part that makes me nervous. I love working from home but there’s no growth at my current company.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Is there anything specific about your routine that you think you would give up if you worked from the office? You may be able to adjust things during your commute. For instance, if you like to linger with a cup of tea and read the news, you can try to do that on public transportation, or you can switch from reading to listening. If you go to the gym in the middle of the day, you might still be able to do that. If you like to make your own lunch, you can adjust to preparing the night before.

          Every job change brings a change in routine in some way; it’s helpful to zero in on what concerns you the most.

    3. Cowgirlinhiding*

      That is a super long commute when you haven’t been commuting. You will hate it.

      If you still want the job, try to find a carpool or van pool where you can totally sit back and relax during that time or read/study.

        1. valentine*

          Unless you enjoy driving, much less during rush hour, you might want to ease your way back with a commute no more than 20 minutes, if poss. Transit time is just too long. Choose something you can manage on your worst day or to go home sick or injured. Is snow a factor?

          If the distance is mandatory, look into a schedule that allows you to avoid rush hour.

    4. Rainy days*

      My husband has a 75 min commute by public transit, and although he’s a child of the suburbs and was raised to expect long commutes, it does wear on him.

      He’s been able to survive it through:
      – Audiobooks: getting through books makes it feel like you’re really using the time to achieve something (as opposed to just
      – Shifting his schedule as much as possible: He leaves the house at 5:40am to beat traffic, which can drop it to 45 minutes.
      – Working out a gym near his office: Exercising right before or after a long bus ride puts him in a much better mood.
      – Enjoying his position and his coworkers. It would absolutely not be worth it if he didn’t love his job.

    5. ..Kat..*

      A two hour round trip commute is a big change! What will you cut out of your life to accommodate the loss of these two hours? Also, a car is a big expense. Plus gas, maintenance, parking, insurance, etc. And the expense of work appropriate clothes. Also keep in mind that working in an office means dealing with noise and other coworkers in a way that you currently do not have to.

      Are your only options work from home or have a long commute?

  42. XRae*

    Kind of a silly question but I would love to hear the thoughts of others,

    I am extremely fortunate to have obtained a great professional career, recently with a new amazing company. People in my role usually have a bachelors degree at the minimum, often times accompanied by other certifications. I am fortunate because I have none of these. I took a non-traditional education path and just started working for a small company out of high school and was able to move up into a professional role there gaining amazing experience and recently moved to new amazing company who was willing to overlook my current degree status based upon my experience. I started to go back to school about a year ago, taking one class at a time. My question is how do I present my education?

    Everyone always assumes I have a bachelors so they are kind of taken aback when I say I am working on my degree now. I’m going to community college until I get enough credits for an associates to transfer to a four year school. Is it lying to say I am still working on bachelors or do I need to say associates even though that is not my end goal?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did associates, then bachelor degree. Lots of folks do.

      You: “I’m working on my degree.”
      Them, maybe: “Oh? What degree?”
      You: “End goal is a BS in underwater basket weaving!”
      Them, maybe: “Oh, cool. What school do you go to?”
      You: “Llama Community College right now, then transferring to Alpaca State.

      Easy peasy :)

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      You should say you’re working on your bachelor’s degree since that’s the end goal.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      First of all, I don’t think you need to say anything about what kind of degree you’re working on. You can just say something like “Actually, I’m working on my degree right now!” Or, if you wanted to add more detail: “Right now I’m mostly taking required classes, but I’m thinking of majoring in Zoology.”

      If someone weirdly presses you about what kind of degree you’re working on, you could either say “I’m at community college now and plan to transfer to University X to finish my bachelor’s,” or just go ahead and say that you’re working on a bachelor’s degree (which you are; the fact that you’ll be transferring doesn’t change that).

    4. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Right now, you can say you’re working on a bachelors since that’s your end goal. Once you get your associates, you can say you have an associates and are working your bachelors.

    5. Call of Dewey*

      I had a similar experience- just finished up my bachelors while working in a job that traditionally requires one and managing a team that all at least had a BA. I would say you’re working towards your bachelors, because you are- your associates degree is the first step towards it. But overall, just own that your experience has gotten you where you are. When you’re confident, people don’t question.

      1. Oh So Anon*

        Unless you work somewhere that’s fairly credentialist, in which case they’ll question regardless of your confidence.

    6. epi*

      I think the answer depends on whether you know where you will be going for the bachelor’s degree, and already have a relationship with that school. Being enrolled in an associate’s program doesn’t necessarily mean you will be going on– lots of people stop after the two year degree. This would be like me saying in undergrad that I was working on an MA, just because I knew I wanted that to be my next step. (And as it turned out, I never finished that MA– I ended up doing something totally different.) Generally people don’t put life goals on their resume, without having measurable progress towards whatever it is. That said, I know many community colleges have relationships with four year schools and you may already be working to facilitate your eventual transfer, or have a conditional acceptance to a bachelors program.

      If you haven’t been accepted yet and have no relationship with that four year school, just a plan to transfer when the time comes, then I don’t think you can honestly say that you are working on a bachelor’s degree. It could imply to people that you have been accepted or are already working on that degree, when it isn’t true. If that’s your situation, I would say something longer, like “I am working on an associate’s degree now, then plan to transfer to a four year school.”

      If you already have a bridge set up to a particular bachelor’s program, it is fine to say that it what you are working on. But you will probably still end up telling people some version of “working on associates at community college, than transferring to university” if they ask any questions at all. And you should put both degrees on your resume, LinkedIn, etc.

      1. n*

        You couldn’t say you’re working *on* Fancy College bachelor’s degree, but you *could* say you’re working *towards* Fancy College bachelor’s degree. The first way implies you’re admitted, the second just states that this is a goal your taking steps to achieve, which is true if you’re getting your associates.

        One word, big difference. :)

    7. Lisa*

      About calling yourself “extremely fortunate” – I also don’t have a degree and work in an industry where most people have at least a bachelors. I worked for many years in a huge corporation where probably 99% of the other non-exempt employees had degrees. From my experience and the experience of a few others who also had non-traditional education I learned that we were not “fortunate.” We were the exceptions to the expectation that you had to have a college diploma to succeed there. You could say we were exceptional. We didn’t need college to succeed because of other talents, abilities, and aptitudes. One woman made it to the C suite – she had started out as an admin assistant. A man who started out as a web developer is a Director now. I also have friends in my profession who have made it very VERY high up in other VERY large companies, without having finished college. I did pretty well as well, and when I moved on, I went to a startup that did not even ask about education. Now I consult and clients literally never ask about education. My point is, although it can be hard to get your foot in the door without college, once you have managed to do that, have built up a reputation, have expertise and experience… you’re a professional. You didn’t win a lottery, you worked your way to where you are.

      When people ask me where I went to college, I just answer, “I didn’t!” with confidence. And their reaction is usually to be impressed. No one thinks I caught some lucky break, no one things I cheated the system. They see it as an accomplishment – and I do too.

      I think that if you can be really proud of what you’ve done to get where you are, the way you did… that confidence will carry through when you talk about your current plans.

      As for a specific script, I’d go with something like…
      Person: Where did you get your degree?
      XRae: I didn’t! But I’m working on one.

      Person: Where did you go to college?
      XRae: I’m going to college now! I started my career after high school. But now I’m attending Local Community College.

      That’s going to be enough for most people and the ones who ask more about it are going to be asking because they are genuinely curious. If it’s someone who might be thinking “Hmm, I’d love to try to get XRae into my management training program once she has her degree” then you’d answer a little differently than if it’s an “I love talking about college! Let’s discuss your classes!” person but in either case, just treat it like a curious interest.

      And remember, you’re not lucky. You’re just good.

  43. Username1234*

    I was just accepted to an intensive MSW program and will be starting in the fall! I will continue to work full time, will be at a field placement 8-10 hours a week, doing online classes, and have one weekend a month of in-person classes. I’ll be able to flex my work schedule in order to still work 40 hours and do my field placement hours. This is a 3 year program with no breaks or time off. Does anyone have advice if they’ve gone through similar programs? Or just advice in general on how to manage a full time job and a graduate program? I don’t have any kids or other major commitments so my time is really my own, but I know this program is going to be intensive and stressful at times. My job knows about this and is some-what supportive, but overall can be a dysfunctional work environment. Would appreciate any advice or words of wisdom you may have!

    1. Washi*

      Following this! I plan to start social work school in the fall (full time) and am not sure how much I’ll be able to continue working at my job. (I definitely can’t flex my hours enough to continue working 40 hours/week, but I’m nervous even about committing to 20. )

    2. Minerva McGonagall*

      Congrats on your acceptance! I worked full time and did a graduate program at lightening speed-all at the same university so it felt like I was there all the time. My best piece of advice is to make sure you still take vacation and get away from it every once in a while. Take a mental health day from work if you need it every so often. Have hobbies and activities (even if it’s lowkey like Netflix or crafting) and take time for exercise and your health! I found that my crock pot was my best friend when I was in weeks of heavy work and school.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I spent four years working one full-time job, one ten hours a week job, and doing full-time school in two separate masters programs. Solidarity.

      1. Figure out what’s mandatory for you to be functional vs what can slip, get scrapped entirely, or be farmed out for someone else to do. (Sometimes throwing money at a problem is the easiest way to make it go away, if you can do.) My best friend, who was a full-time-plus-worker while working on her PhD, found that her go-to is to get her groceries delivered via Shipt or Instacart. I, on the other hand, actually find that grocery shopping is like meditation for me (I know, I’m weird) and if I don’t make time at least once a week to go out, walk around Target, and do my own grocery shopping, I get twitchy and stressed. But I pay my housemate’s mom to come deep clean my bathrooms twice a month. (She’s a professional housecleaner with her own business, it’s not quite as fly-by-night as it sounds.) Figure out what you need and plan for it. (If grocery delivery is your thing, Shipt membership is a great thing to either save for, or ask for on a gift-giving occasion, but they also often do coupons – bestie and I got in on their Black Friday sale, buy one membership for half price and get a second one for free. $25 each for free grocery delivery for a year? Yes please.)

      2. Find a calendaring system that works for you and be brutal about sticking to it. I have something like ten calendars on my iCal, which syncs between my computers, tablets and phone, several of them are shared to my housemates/spouse. If something isn’t on my calendar, it isn’t happening. (I accidentally forgot to put a theater event on my calendar and completely missed The Lion King. Super bummed, but it was my own fault. :/ ) If your preferred system doesn’t allow for separately viewable sub calendars, like if you prefer paper, cool — color-code stuff, so you know at a glance what’s school, what’s work, what’s personal.

      3. Classwork: At the beginning of the semester, put all your due dates YES ALL OF THEM I DON’T CARE IF THE WEEKLY QUIZ IS DUE EVERY FRIDAY SO I CAN REMEMBER QUIZ ON FRIDAYS all your due dates for everything on your calendar. Set reminders for the big ones. If you can do, schedule yourself a consistent evening or two per week. Tuesdays and Thursdays after work are for schoolwork. If you don’t have schoolwork, bonus free time! But nothing comes before schoolwork on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 6pm and 10pm except dire life or death emergency.

      4. Work: Does your job have remote options? That’ll go a loooooong way. This time around, both my regular job and my part time job were remote with flexible hours, so I didn’t have to worry about commuting. (When I was in undergrad, I worked one 40 hour job banker’s hours with a 1 hour commute and also 20-25 hours a week at my local Target on nights and weekends, plus a 4 hours a week volunteer gig with a teen youth group, while taking 20 credit-hours a term, so that’s still doable, but if work can be partially remote, it’s so much easier. :P ) If remote work isn’t an option at all, then double down on the calendaring.

      5. Personal: Do your best to schedule yourself at least a couple hours a week. Saturday morning is for getting up and taking a book that has nothing to do with school down to the local coffee shop and reading in peace and quiet while you drink a gihugimous latte and eat a muffin the size of your face. Or Wednesday evening is when you take yourself out to happy hour at the little bar down the street and play trivia. Whatever. Something that is fun, that you enjoy, and that has no connection to work or school. But this goes on the calendar, just like everything else does, and doesn’t get skipped barring dire emergency.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I think I give it every time someone asks this, I should probably copy and paste it somewhere so I don’t have to retype it every time! :)

    4. Counselasaurus*


      I’m getting ready to start an MSC program part time next year while working full time. I’m terrified of how I’ll juggle everything and if I need to cut back hours at work, whether we’d manage that financially. And I’m a parent to a 5 year old. Would love any and all insight.

    5. A Teacher*

      I did this for my Masters in Teaching–switching fields. Worked full time, took a night class/online hybrid with a cohort, and did field time/observation/student teaching around my work hours.

      Stay on top of everything and figure out a system for tracking when you’re supposed to be somwhere and where that somewhere is. I live and die by my planner–google calender is fine but writing it out is much more tangible to me.

      Don’t procrastinate with deadlines that’s really detrimental in a non-traditional grad program (did the traditional thing with thesis for the first masters).

      Enjoy the experience–this is probably the most important one.

    6. Social Workers, Unite!*

      I’m an LICSW for a mental health clinic. My intern is graduating in 3 weeks and kept a very similar schedule. Talk to your supervisor about your time commitments and see if there’s flexibility for internship, too. I worked closely with my intern to make sure that she got her hours without losing her mind! Good luck!

    7. EmployeeAndStudent*

      I’m currently combining a full-time job with part-time university. A couple of tips from me:
      – Talk to your boss and find out what kind of flexibility you can get at work. Working from home can be really helpful because you cut out your commuting time and can switch between work work and school work faster.
      – Talk to your teachers and find out what kind of flexibility you can get at school. I’ve asked for a couple of alternative assignments to group assignments. I’ve asked to take exams on different dates (I prefer to take my exam on a Monday or Tuesday so that I don’t have to take too much time off to study for it).
      – Keep on top of your coursework. You don’t have the flexibility of a full-time student to cram close to exams/tests.
      – Stick to a schedule. I find it easiest to plan my schoolwork on either Saturday or Sunday, so that I have the other day to do fun stuff.
      – Find a way to relax, otherwise you’ll burn out.
      – Outsource things you hate to do and that would take you a long time. I have a cleaner come every other week and get meal boxes (like Hello Fresh) delivered. That way I don’t have to put as much mental and physical work into cleaning and meals.

  44. Labradoodle Daddy*



      1. Labradoodle Daddy*

        I’m very OK. This company is incompetent, treats its employees like dirt, and this loss is *well deserved.*

                1. Labradoodle Daddy*

                  Haha apologies! I’ve been discussing my awful company on the open threads for a while now and completely forgot that context is, yknow, helpful :P

                  I’m a bit giddy, don’t mind me….

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                No worries! My memory latches on to details and I’ve been in online communities so long I’m used to keeping track of regular posters :)

          1. Labradoodle Daddy*

            I put in my notice a month ago because I was sick of their incompetence. So I’m fine! HAAA!

            1. Labradoodle Daddy*

              My coworkers who are left over have to reapply for their jobs with the new company. There are two team members who should be shaking in their boots right now (incompetent manager kept on incompetent employees despite us repeatedly telling her she was incompetent and did not improve after her “talks”)

  45. Midge*

    When do you tell your immediate supervisor that you are going to need to take medical leave?

    My situation: I need to have a procedure done this year for a non-life-threatening medical condition that needs to be taken care of before it starts having a larger negative impact on my health. There are a few possibilities for procedures, and the anticipated amount of time I will need to be out of work is probably between 2 and 8 weeks, depending on the procedure we settle on and my recovery. I am covered by FMLA, and will have no trouble from my employer. They are great, and incredibly flexible and supportive with this kind of thing. And it’s more than humbling to admit that my absence, while an annoyance, will not throw a major wrench in anything. Actually, given anticipated projects for later this year, if it had to happen any time this is fairly decent timing.

    I am hoping to schedule the procedure for about 3 months from now. I have an appointment with a specialist next week, and might pursue second opinions which would involve further medical appointments and more time off work to travel to them in the next few weeks.

    I work in a pretty closely knit place, with a small and close team. My instinct is to just tell my supervisor and immediate co-workers what is up, in part because it feels weird not to share that this thing is happening in my life, and in part because I don’t want them to worry about what’s up with all my medical appointments. I have a feeling that the generic advice would be that because this is probably still months away, wait until I have a solid plan in place and a better estimate of how much leave I will need to take, and then tell my supervisor and HR. Do I go with my gut and impatience, or do I just freaking hold my horses and wait?

    There is a pretty low risk that symptoms will cause me to miss work before the procedure. So I don’t feel a need to tell my supervisor that I may not be 100% on some days. The whole point in doing this this year is to avoid the situation in which I am in too much pain or discomfort to function. So I don’t need any special accommodations right now.

    1. blink14*

      I would let your supervisor know in general terms that you are looking into treatment for a non-life threatening medical situation, in hopes that it will make your life better, and you have these doctor appointments coming up. It sounds like the main option is for you to have a procedure done at some point this year, and you’ll let them know once it’s scheduled.

      I had a major surgery less than 6 months after I started my current job, and I knew when I took the job that surgery was most likely going to happen. I was upfront with my manager from the start about the situation and that I would likely need surgery.

      My actual surgery date was scheduled with less than a week’s notice, and I was out of work for about 5 weeks. Again, because I had kept my manager in the loop (and you can do this in a less detailed manner), we kind of knew it was coming and I knew what I needed to send to HR and what the medical leave requirements were (fortunately covered completely by sick time). Knowing that my boss was already aware relieved some of the surgery prep stress and I could focus on that versus trying to bring my manager up to speed and the information hadn’t come totally out of the blue as she had known some details prior.

      Good luck with everything and I hope it all turns out for the best!

    2. Asenath*

      I told my supervisors when I had a date confirmed for the surgery, which was probably a couple of weeks out.

      Unofficially, I did share the diagnosis a bit earlier than that – there was the sudden upsurge in medical appointments which showed something was up, although everyone was too polite to ask! I wouldn’t always recommend that, but in my case it worked well because people were understanding and if they gossiped outside our small group, the gossip never got back to my ears.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      If you are comfortable with your boss knowing, just have a talk and bring it up. Something like:
      “I have to have a procedure done that will put me out of the office for somewhere between 2-8 weeks depending on the final decision by my medical team. Its a preventative, but necessary procedure so I don’t have issues later on down the road. I’m looping you in because I do have some flexibility with timing so wanted to see what would be the best time for me to be away.”

      You don’t have to say anything but if you would feel better having it be a known thing with your boss then go ahead.

    4. Not So Little My*

      I’m in a similar situation, although I’m contract-to-perm. Contracting Company loves me, and Company I’m Working At likes my work a lot and wants me to continue, but there’s uncertainty about when headcount will come available to move me into, so my start date at Company I’m Working At is uncertain and may still be a few months off. I’ve been trying various treatments to keep me in reasonable health so I can put off the surgery until I’m converted to permanent (it has about 4-12 weeks recovery time). I wouldn’t be eligible for FMLA until I’d been at Company for a year, but at least I would have sick time and vacation time I could use, which I don’t have as an hourly contractor. I did talk to Company Boss about the vague possibility that I might need to “take more than 2 weeks off” for “a medical thing” at “some unknown date this year” and he said that would be fine and they could work with my workload. I also talked with Contracting Company Boss and he said they would support moving my workload around so I could have the time but also come back part-time/WFH as I healed up and then back to full time. I told them both I would let them know more as time went on and would keep them in the loop. I just wanted to know if I would still be safe if I had to do this before my perm conversion date. It’s still frustrating to not be as secure as I wish I would be in this situation. Folks can tell I’ve got something going on because my walk is visibly affected and I have adaptations on my desk, and while they are supportive, they do not ask invasive questions or fuss over me, thank goodness.

    5. Midge*

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Thinking about it some more, I do think that I am likely to share with my boss by the end of next week when we have our regular check-in, assuming my specialist appointment doesn’t contain any big surprises or get rescheduled because of yet more weather we are supposed to get hit with. It was good to write it all out and read some opinions. Helped me solidify how I feel about this, and what I think is important to communicate now.

  46. Lebanese Blonde*

    I really like my job, but really HATE working from home. Do I still have to plan to stay a year?

    It’s my first full-time salaried job, and it’s the first company that has given me a “Llama groomer” role, as opposed to “Llama Fellow” or “Contracted Groomer”, and the title alone is a huge leap forward in my career. (I finally escaped the endless internship loop!) I like my work fine (would like to be focused more on Donkey Grooming, but aside from the specific topic, the role is a great fit), and have a great boss who’s endlessly grateful I am good at my job because the previous Llama Groomers have been terrible. I have 25 (!) days off per year, can occasionally work from other states/countries when visiting family, and my day-to-day schedule is really flexible.

    …but I truly cannot stand working from home. I have an impossible time getting up in the morning, and I end up taking 2 hours off midday almost every day to just clean my apartment or read a book or work out. I’m incredibly distracted, feel no accountability, and end up working til midnight to turn everything in. I feel simultaneously like I’m never working, and like I always am. I don’t think it’s as much of a problem for other employees, but I’m really extroverted and do my best work collaboratively. My boss and coworkers have told me I’m doing a good job, and I don’t know how to say “I could be doing SO much better if I were in an office and/or were working at 100% capacity rather than like….30%.” I really love my career and want to be working at my absolute best, so I feel really demotivated because my lack of effort seems like enough. It’s really doing a number on my self-esteem, and I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time.

    So, any advice? My current plan is to start casually applying in like…April (I started in October), and actively apply end of summer, in order to move on after about a year. Is it insane for me to leave such a good position just because I have no self-discipline? Should I try to stick it out for longer? Leave sooner?

    Some logistical notes: The whole company works from home every day, aside from a few staffers in an office abroad, so my situation isn’t going to change . I do have access to a workspace (not WeWork, but analogous), and I go 2-3 times a week. I’m slightly more productive when out of my house, but not by much. The main issue is I feel no accountability when I’m not working with or adjacent to coworkers.

    1. Lebanese Blonde*

      Oh and another crucial point — the vast majority of the coworkers I email and Gchat with on a daily basis are in a timezone 5 hours ahead of mine. So in the afternoons in particular, I am completely alone (both physically and virtually). My boss is based in my timezone, but she only works a few days a week.

    2. Mediamaven*

      As an employer, I would find it refreshing to hear that you didn’t love the working from home aspect. I think you should go ahead and look and just share that you prefer a collaborative environment with coworkers.

    3. PB*

      Instead of job hunting, maybe look into a collaborative workspace? That way, you can work remotely, but still be out of your house and around other people.

      Staying in a job less than two years runs the risk of job-hopping. Like Alison says, one short stay isn’t a deal breaker. You want to avoid a pattern of it. However, you note that this is your first “Llama Groomer” job, versus a fellowship or internship. This is a huge step forward! Add to that, you like the work, you’re getting good feedback, and have great benefits. I’d be wary of job searching after only six months in this role, just because working from home isn’t ideal, especially since you note that your productivity is only slightly better when not working from home.

      Some questions to ask yourself: Would a comparable role also be work from home? How will you answer interviewers when they ask why you’re job searching after such a short stay? If you change jobs, would you be able to find a comparable position, or would you more likely have to go back to a “Llama Fellow”-type role?

      Ultimately, you’ll have to make your own decisions, and you know what’s best for you and your own career, but I’d think carefully before jumping back into job hunting. I can tell you that, as a hiring manager, I’d be wary of interviewing someone who’d been in a full time permanent position for only six months. Instead, it might be better to look into ways to boost productivity, such as a co-working space, setting up a dedicated home office away from distractions, inviting over other work-from-home friends to work together and enforce accountability, set timers for more productive “sprints,” etc.

      1. Lebanese Blonde*

        I definitely would not move to a Fellow role. I’m planning a long job search precisely because I want to be in a position where I’m making a lateral move to a similar company, though ideally something more on a topic that interests me (Donkey rather than Llama Grooming), and at an office. I live in a huge city that is one of the country’s centers for the work that I do, so I know that the right role is out there! It’s just that I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by moving too soon.

        It’s also worth noting that my industry is pretty notorious for short stints at different companies — people move and are poached constantly, it’s just a matter of getting into the Groomer role at one of them.

    4. Jimming*

      It sounds like it’s a bad culture fit for you. Personally I love WFH and I’m more productive but it sounds like you hate it and that is what matters. Dust off your resume and start searching for local jobs. If your employment is at-will then there’s no minimum time you are obligated to stay.

    5. Youth*

      I’m an introvert’s introvert, but I, too, really struggle when working from home. This would be a no-go for me, and I think if it’s really affecting you that much, it’s definitely worth moving forward. There’s no guarantee you’ll get out when you’re hoping, anyway. You could end up being there longer than you think.

      The perks do sound pretty sweet, though!

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Oh lord, this was me too. Folks are always so taken aback when I tell them that I hated working from home.

      I’d go ahead and look for other jobs, with two caveats:

      1) Take your time to understand what you’re really looking for, and whether the places you apply or interview are a good fit. You’re going to need to stay at your next job at least two years — you’ll have used up your flexibility by “hopping” out of this job so quickly. So spend some time thinking about what you need to be happy and successful, and don’t talk yourself into something that isn’t a great fit because you want to escape your current situation.

      2) Be upfront and calm when talking about why you’re leaving this job so quickly. “I enjoy the work, but to be perfectly honest I’ve discovered that I’m just not built for working at home. I’m much more effective — and happier! — when I can work collectively with a team in the office.”

      1. Lebanese Blonde*

        This is great advice. It’s essentially what I was planning to do, but it’s good to have a second opinion. My plan is to take my time and really only apply to places and roles that would be a perfect fit (I’m lucky that there are a lot of companies in my industry that I would be interested in Grooming for), and hope that it works out that I leave after around 10-14 months in this job. I’m working on some side projects now that will help me get those jobs, as well.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          BTW, this: “I feel simultaneously like I’m never working, and like I always am.” is EXACTLY how I felt.

      2. catwoman2965*

        Me too! While my job IS office-based, i could if I chose, work from home one day a week. I don’t though since I really hate to. I live in an apt, so no dedicated office space. My laptop on my DR table is my “office”. Not comfortable at all. Plus, some of our applications when I log onto our network are small, really tiny, and I am blind as a bat. So I can’t enlarge them, and its difficult to see. And since I don’t work from home all the time, nor am required to, its not anything I could or want to request any kind of accomodation or equipment for.

        I also get distracted easily. Oh let me go unload the dishwasher, oh, let me go straighten up that mess, and so on.

        I am happy though, my company is flexible so like today when we got some snow, and my complex hadn’t been plowed when I left, i can come back in, log on, work a bit, and then come in, or if its really bad, stay home all day and work. But i’m definitely much more productive IN the office than at home.

    7. KR*

      Honestly I work 100% remote. I am in a satellite office with two other co-workers who are not my manager and who I have no accountability towards. Everything takes place via email, chat, or phone. I am nearly completely alone in the afternoon as I am the farthest west time zone on my team. It took me a long time between tracking when I begin working every day to challenging myself to put my phone down and work uninterrupted for a certain amount of time and I still don’t feel as effective as I would be if I didn’t work remote but I am told I am doing a great job. Is it possible you’re feeling some imposter syndrome?

      1. Lebanese Blonde*

        Imposter syndrome is definitely possible/accurate in most situations for me, though it’s possibly just the opposite. I actually think I’m better than my current performance…! It’s just that I’m measuring myself against my output in other fellowships/contract roles, where I was told that I worked at a Llama Groomer level despite being young for the role.

  47. ContemporaryIssued*

    Massive company-wide changes coming in the coming months. Whole company structure is modified to an extent, people in satellite offices shuffled, basically everything is more or less changing, except we’re keeping the logo.

    My job is largely just having a grasp on our current structure. I am in contact with the different offices every day, I pitch in on the phones, I connect employee A to employee B when A doesn’t know who can help and I know B can help, I assist offices with invoice troubleshooting and I sort some internal snail mail. Basically 70% of what I do has to do with the current company structure and knowing it inside and out.

    So how do I find out what changes are happening at every level, every office and how it impacts my job? Should I just go to my boss and ask her to find out what is happening with different departments and bring that info to me? Or would it be okay to ask person from, say On-call Oatmeal Department, who I’m friendly with to ask how changes in their department is going to affect my task to do with On-Call Oatmeal? Should all these people be coming to me for a heads up if a task of mine changes or vanishes due to company restructuring?

    I have never been through this so no idea how these things usually work (mind you, given how odd this company is, what usually happens may not happen here!). Any advice or experiences would be appreciated.

    1. londonedit*

      I think it would definitely be sensible to start by asking your boss. She might not have all the answers, but I think it’s perfectly reasonable for you to ask her how all these changes are going to impact your day-to-day work, and to ask to be kept up-to-date on everything that’s happening so that you can start familiarising yourself with the new structures.

    2. Minocho*

      I agree with londonedit that going to your boss is a great first step, but also do your best to tackle this as an opportunity rather than something to be feared. You might be able to redefine or modify your current role to fit the new organization or your own personal idea of your dream job better.

      We’re going through a more minor restructuring here, and my immediate supervisors are trying to push changes they’ve thought would improve our processes for years. We may or may not be successful, but it’s the perfect time to try.

      good luck!

  48. Nervous Accountant*

    I interviewed someone today for a remote position, so that was neat!

    My coworkers were talking about letting a contractor go. I listened in on t eh debate. One said that he should be able to let him go without any hassle, since htey’r e a contractor and not legally bound. The other one said it’s still a decent thing to do to coach them, just as if they were any employee. I thought it was an interesting debate.

    1. boredatwork*

      If you start couching them like an employee – then they can be re-classed as an employee.

      1. The Ginger Ginger*

        You can can give them feedback though, that’s not a contractor/employee thing. I wouldn’t offer them DEVELOPMENT like an employee. But coaching – meaning feedback on their work – should be fine.

        1. boredatwork*

          (my experienc, fellow accountant, current hirer of a contractor) is that typically “coaching” means development and strengthening skills, ect.

          Not feedback like “Jim, I need the lines to be straight on the teapots, also we prefer a redder shade of red.” I wouldn’t put a contractor on a PIP like I would an employee.

          1. fposte*

            I think boredatwork gives a good example. Is this the kind of information you’d provide to somebody working on your kitchen? Then it’s likely fine. Are you guiding their career trajectory? Probably not fine.

          2. boredatwork*

            I know you really wanted to go to the IRS website today…


            Development and coaching would be positive evidence towards being an employee, while feedback, I think is more “measuring the end result”. I’m not telling Jim how to get the lines straighter or make the color redder.

            If I gave Jim detailed coaching and training on how to precisely tint the color or paint the lines straighter, that points towards being an employee.

            1. Nervous Accountant*

              Interesting, I knew the other rules but didn’t really think about the behavioral aspect of it.

              In any case, ours is more feedback like, “Don’t say this/that to the client”

              They are remote workers and are expected to have their own supplies etc set up.

              I personally think it’s just courtesy (and kindness?) to give feedback rather than cut them loose without warning. Even though they’re contractors, it’s still a stream of income for them. Personally I am just not in the favor of firing w/o notice (to an extent of course).. The one who wanted to let him go also never really spoke to him beyond a few conversations here and there.

          3. boredatwork*

            There are very specific examples on the IRS website (that post is in limbo, links are scary).

            My contractor reviews returns, and honestly we all HATE how he reviews, the random crap he adds to workpapers, and generally how he writes review comments. But the return is reviewed, we don’t give feedback on how the sausage is made, only if it’s not made correctly.

  49. Overeducated*

    Has anyone here done a temporary placement (details, secondments, or whatever name you use)? I’m being sent on one soon for a job that’s at a higher level than my current one, and I’m very excited about the professional development opportunity, but also very nervous about jumping into a bunch of projects in the middle and how much I can learn and accomplish over the course of just a few months. My supervisor will be the great-grandboss from my previous job, so I haven’t worked for him directly, but know he has high standards, a blunt style, and no patience for fools. Any advice on being successful in a short term and challenging position?

    1. nym*

      I’ve done a few of these.
      1. Don’t be afraid or apologetic to ask questions. They will expect you to pick things up quickly, but they know you’re jumping in new and will be very open to extra explanations.
      2. Develop your networks, and ask everyone those questions. If you have a question you think you should ask Amy, but you see Sue in the breakroom and your boss isn’t around, ask Sue if Amy is the right person to answer for you, or maybe even Sue knows the answer.
      3. Recognize that you will miss some nuance or do things the hard way, because you don’t know all the context and are learning. Every day is a fresh new day! A positive attitude about “I wonder what I will learn today” goes a long way in dealing with a blunt style and lack of patience for fools. You’re not the fool but it will sometimes seem that way.
      4. Frequent check ins – like, daily for the first week or two, and then taper off – will be important to getting up to speed. Sometimes these would happen naturally as you spend half the day in meetings with your supervisor anyway, and sometimes you will need to schedule a dedicated 15 min. Sometimes these will be with someone besides your direct supervisor, if he hands you off to someone else to get up to speed on a project.

  50. Washi*

    For those who work at a nonprofit in a function that also exists in the for-profit world (HR, accounting, etc) why did you choose to work at a nonprofit?

    Sub-questions: Is the mission important to you? Is the pay not as different as I’m imagining? Would you switch to the for-profit sector if given the chance? Are nonprofit jobs not considered as desirable in your field and therefore less competitive?

    I’m asking mainly out of curiosity, since my job (social services/case manager) doesn’t exist really at for-profits, but for other roles, I’ve always wondered what motivates people to take a job in the nonprofit world.

    1. boredatwork*

      There is a separate type of accounting that non-profits do for both financial accounting and tax accounting. Once you start working as a non-profit accountant you’re basically specialized to only work on that type of work. You can do it internally (at a non-profit) or externally (public accounting, usually).

    2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve wondered the same thing!

      I also work on the program side of nonprofits and have wondered why, like, IT folks choose to work here rather than getting paid more (I assume) at a company.

      I work at a nonprofit because that’s where the kind of work I want to do gets done.

      1. Michaela*

        I can answer this, at least for me! Software development in “industry” was a pretty awful experience for me — no work/life balance, little to no ethical consideration of the implications of what we were building, very bro-y. As someone who’s not that motivated by money and pretty skeptical about capitalism, I’m willing to take the 30-40K annual pay cut for the ability to feel good about my employer’s existence. I’m still making a perfectly satisfactory wage, but it’s a lot less than I would be.

        Also it’s a lot harder to get fired here than in industry, which will chew you up and spit you out because there’s about a million people who want your job. As someone with chronic illness, I feel safer in a space where my managers know they are going to have a hard time replacing an employee, even one who needs accommodations to do her best.

      2. De Minimis*

        It depends on the location of course, but the IT guy at the small nonprofit where I used to work still got paid six figures [albeit the low six figures, which would be considered a lower wage for a tech job in that location.] Of course, he was the only IT person so he earned it.

        As far as the accounting, it really depends. We used the regular full accrual basis and there were only a couple of wrinkles here and there, and most of those were due to the idiosyncrasies of the CFO and not related to it being a nonprofit . It probably wasn’t significantly different than accounting for a small business.

        I think most financial people who go into nonprofits have at least some level of commitment to the organization’s mission. I’ve done a little recruiting and the jobs were pretty competitive to get into. I think too that a lot of people have a vision of the nonprofit world that may not necessarily reflect reality [my last nonprofit job was very fast paced and I was honestly overworked.]

      3. AcademiaNut*

        I work in academia, and it’s tricky to get good IT people because we pay a lot less than industry can. The good ones who stay generally prefer the academic environment to a more corporate one, are often a bit eccentric personally, and enjoy the variety of the work they get in a research environment.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Fun personal fact, us career For Profit accountants aren’t hireable for Non Profits given the differences involved! As mentioned up thread, they’re both specialized to their own regulations.

      I’ve been just dipping into NP work because my best friend was debating between FP and NP for her business adventure and I had to tell her she needs someone else to do the real work despite almost 20yrs of operating businesses and doing their accounting.

    4. OtterB*

      What I do could probably be done in the private sector in a role like data analyst. I like my non-profit environment for the work-life balance, for the mission, and for the more laid-back atmosphere (business casual all the time unless Big Meetings, etc.) The salary is lower, but the benefits are excellent and probably make up the difference. As parent of a kid, now young adult, with disabilities, the flexibility to WFH, take a couple hours in the middle of the day and make them up later, etc., has been priceless.

    5. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m a medical researcher, and have worked in both non-profit and industry. Non-profit research institutes need support staff (IT, HR, admin, purchasing, etc). These are positions that exist in a lot of places. I don’t know what the pay gap is, but I think it’s non-trivial.

      What I’ve noticed is that the people who choose to work at these non-profits often have a personal connection to the work. At the cancer institute, there were several survivors of childhood cancer, some visibly scarred. At the HIV institute, I’d bet that an actual majority of the employees were gays and lesbians old enough to remember the era before HIV was treatable. If you could do your job anywhere, might as well help deal with a disease you have a personal grudge against.

  51. Eukomos*

    A company in an area I’d like to work is starting a new program in my field, so they’re hiring several people with my skillset at once. There’s a senior and a junior version of my job available, and I’m trying to decide which to apply to. I completely match the qualifications for the junior version; for the senior one, I fulfill most of the qualifications but haven’t specifically worked with the methodology they want to use, and whether I have enough years of related experience depends on what they consider related experience. The pay difference isn’t huge, but the junior one’s a short term contract and I’ve been working on limited contracts like that for the past few years and am really sick of it.

    Should I apply to the junior one to be safe, or would that be underselling myself? If I apply for one and hope they’ll consider me for the other should they think I’m a better fit for it, would one of them be better to apply to? Would it be ok to apply for both, and if so, should I write different cover letters for each?

    1. irene adler*

      Is it possible to discuss the senior position with someone at the company? Sometimes the difference is experience level. So you’d be better off trying for the jr. position. But find this out-prior to applying. Get their ‘read’ on what the differences are between the two jobs.

      1. Eukomos*

        There was a contact person listed along with the link to the job postings on the listserv I found them on, I could write her. That’s a good idea, thanks!

    2. Not So Little My*

      In my field, I’d apply for the senior position and speak to how my existing experience would help me ramp up quickly on the new methodology. Also try to find some training videos, blog posts, or white papers about the methodology so you can intelligently address in your cover letter or interview what aspects of it would be straightforward for you to pick up and what parts about working with it specifically excite you. A lot of times those job descriptions are just wishlists anyway, and the company is quite willing to hire and train if someone has other strengths in the field.

    3. n*

      I think it’s worth applying for the senior role, unless the duties differ substantially from the junior.

      I’m not sure that all companies put a ton of thought into what separates the roles. My team has been looking for a senior position for the past year, and haven’t found anyone qualified yet. So they just decided to list the same exact position as a junior position, just asking for more experience than basic entry-level. I think the thought process was that qualified applicants were self-selecting out based on “senior” in the title. This varies company to company, though, of course.

  52. Mbarr*

    What’s a TV show or movie that drives you insane due to its ridiculous workplace drama or nonsense?

    I’ll start:
    – The first interview scene from The Devil Wears Prada… Could Anne Hathaway’s character been less professionally prepared for an interview?
    – Grey’s Anatomy… Ugh, where do I start?! Everyone should have been fired for inappropriate workplace behaviour in the first season.

    1. Anon For This*

      I might out myself if any of my friends are reading, but I always joke about the poor lab and office lighting conditions on crime dramas. “Wow. I guess they couldn’t afford light bulbs after getting that 3-D holagraphic conference room projector thing. Whoever does their budget needs to think about priorities . . . ” “Wow! This city can’t afford lighting for its prisons, but they have a crime-solving robot! Amazing!”

      1. Mbarr*

        Oh man, I never even though about that! That’s hilarious! Now I’m always going to notice this…

    2. KR*

      Doesn’t nessecarily drive me insane but makes me laugh – I often imagine acting like Ilana from Broad City at work. The sad thing is I think my coworkers would just roll their eyes and carry on. Also the IT crowd – so unrealistic how much they all share with each other

    3. Youth*

      The Quest for the Go-Getter. Everything about this violates good hiring and employment practices.

    4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’ve actually thought about Grey’s Anatomy too — not just the salacious stuff like workplace affairs and obvious sexual harassment.

      But the basic management stuff, like when Bailey brought in the new internship director without telling Webber that she was replacing him.

    5. merp*

      The Bold Type – the main characters (Jane esp) just get way too close and personal with their boss, who puts up with way more unprofessional nonsense than she should.

      But I have watched all of it and plan to watch the new season so I can’t say it drives me too crazy, haha.

      1. Mbarr*

        LOL, that’s how I am with Grey’s Anatomy… I go from hate watching it, to genuinely enjoying it, then I get angry again at how ridiculous it is, etc… I’m on season 11. Why, why do I keep doing this to myself?!

    6. ContemporaryIssued*

      Bridget Jones’ Diary had so many cringe-worthy flirty office emails. I was young when I read it so I just thought it was cute and funny back then but now re-reading the novel, it’s like, yikes.

      1. Gumby*

        That and other chick-lit type books where the protagonist barely works at all! Get there late, 2 hour lunch – with booze, stop out for an afternoon stroll… How do they still have jobs?!?!?!?

        There was one episode of Criminal Minds where they got called to a case while supposedly in the middle of interviewing for a vacancy, grabbed one applicant who had a niche skill they thought they might need (and it was useful on the ONE case but has NEVER come up before or since), did the case with her and then hired her outright without so much as interviewing anyone else. The other applicants were physically in the office waiting for interviews when the team got called away. So there was no hiding the disaster of a hiring process (also, I suspect, not in line with federal hiring requirements).

    7. whistle*

      Every movie or TV show that shows a college professor meeting a student outside of class in the classroom. Professors have offices! They teach each class in a different room! They have no relationship to that classroom outside of class time! Arg!
      I feel better now, thanks.

    8. Neosmom*

      Devil Wears Prada – a print editor would never insist that an employee violate copyright law (theft of the Harry Potter manuscript)!

    9. Red Ghost*

      Chicago Med. The doctors and at least some of the nurses (esp. April) are extremely judgmental and emotionally invested; they often coerce patients or ignore their wishes. They definitely should have fired Dr. Holsted by now. This has only very seldom negative consequences. Also there are so many workplace-romances it’s ridiculous.

    10. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Pretty much any show or film that involves archaeology. Even the supposedly educational ones are not very realistic!

      Time Team here in the UK used to drive me nuts. It was better than many shows but the whole artificial “we have to do this huge project in three days” thing was annoying. It doesn’t show all the background research or the actual crew needed to do the whole project and gives an impression that these jobs can be done in no time.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Oh and any scene that shows an archaeological skull with the jaw still attached. Those are separate pieces and there’s nothing to hold them together once the rest of the body is gone! And people handling artifacts without gloves, especially things that are very delicate or susceptible to damage from the oils on your hands.

    11. Even Steven*

      Great fun question! Of all of the police procedurals, the only one I love and respect is Law & Order (all of the iterations, but especially SVU). The people are smart and serious, the dialogue is intelligent and the costumes are realistic. The L&O canon makes the other silly shows like CSI and NCIS (and others based on abbreviations) just seem ridiculous. I watched exactly one CSI episode, and didn’t get past the second commercial break, becuase years of gritty Law & Order made me painfully annoyed at the ‘coroner’ mincing around in high heels and a white suit (!!!) at a crime scene. Blecch. Give me Benson & Stabler any day.

  53. Anon Anon Anon*

    Two questions today! Here they are.

    1) I want to volunteer in order to improve my resume and network (in addition to all the usual reasons). I had a bad experience the last time I tried that. I realized that could have been avoided with more thorough research. So I’m doing my homework this time. I’m looking for a social services or pro-diversity type of organization that has a good reputation. A national or international one with offices in many places would be great. I don’t know if it would be ok to list specific groups here, but I’m interested in people’s experiences volunteering or working in the non-profit world, and suggestions for how to find and evaluate non-profits.

    2) If there is intentionally false information about you online because some people are biased against a minority group that you belong to or resemble, how would you address this when job searching? Is there a way to give people a heads up before they Google you? I’m talking about stuff where the bias isn’t immediately obvious – like fake social media accounts using your name, articles bu someone whose views aren’t obvious, etc.

    This was going to be three questions, but I feel so frustrated after writing those things out, I’m stopping here.

    1. Lilysparrow*

      The nonprofit I volunteer with, and just got a freelance gig in, is locally based but very well managed. They are currently in discussions to partner or possibly merge with a similar group in a nearby city, and the contrast in governance is stark (and may wind up tanking the partnership).

      I’m trying to think of things you could research from the outside or in an initial interview…

      These might be helpful:
      See if you can access their Annual Reports online (ours has several years’ worth on the website). Are they transparent about where their donors’ money is going?

      Does the board of directors have fixed and limited terms, or are the founders in power for life? (term limits help quell toxicity).

      Are there clear lines between the board members and the staff (especially executive staff), or are they all related, or doing dual roles? (Separation is good, obviously)

      Is there a clear reporting structure where each department has multiple layers of oversight and accountability? Are the people overseeing legally regulated functions properly licensed or accreddited? (For example, if there’s not a CPA on staff, is there one on the board to ensure reporting is done properly? If there’s medical or social work elements, are the relevant staff MDs or NPs or LSWs?

      What is the application process like for volunteers, how much training do volunteers get, and how organized is the training?

      If the org works with vulnerable populations, are background checks required for volunteers? Is there a written policy for client protection (like a child safety/reporting policy if they work with kids).

      What’s the internal growth/turnover rate like? Do key staffers grow into more responsible positions over time, or is there one-two people in charge long-term with a fast revolving door of mid-low ranking staff?

      Do former staffers remain involved as donors, board members, or public “boosters,” or do they cut ties and never speak of it again?

      That’s all I can think of off hand. Some of it would take some close reading, but if you’re really concerned about doing research beforehand, I think you could see those kind of patterns.

    2. Val Zephyr*

      The non-profit world is huge and varied. Can you share more information about what kind of volunteer work you want to do and what you hope to gain from it? And why are you specifically looking to volunteer for a national or international non-profit?

      1. Anon Anon Anon*

        Yes! It doesn’t have to be national or international. But I might relocate and it would be great if I could keep volunteering with the same organization. I also like to travel. So if I stayed long-term, it would be great if that could become a win-win (volunteering while traveling or traveling to volunteer).

        Here’s my deal. I’m coming out of a rough patch career-wise. I have a broad skill set that’s relevant to a lot of different things. My resume makes me look flaky because of the dreaded Context (other stuff going on in my life, work situations that I wouldn’t put on a resume). I need to pick things back up and take my career in a new direction, but I’m still exploring in that area.

        I need something that is fairly relaxed and friendly, not physically demanding, maybe flexible schedule-wise and would put me in touch with other people in my community in a professional type of setting. Something like updating a website, creating graphics, doing photography at events, setting up a database, fixing software problems – stuff like that. Something challenging and useful yet fairly low key (like being on call as backup tech support).

        I’ve been kind of isolated in recent years. This has been bad for a long list of reasons. I want professional contacts more than friends at this point. I want to use and build upon my existing skills.

        And I really want to do something that I find exciting and significant. I care about making a positive difference in the world. I’m trying to get out of a slump where things were going in a direction that just wasn’t for me (the type of company I worked at and volunteer jobs that weren’t the best fit).

        And I need to find a place that is diversity-friendly in practice, regardless of the verbiage they have on their public materials, etc. I have some medical things going on that have caused misunderstandings or led to intentional discrimination in the recent past, plus gender stuff and having lived kind of an unusual life in part because of that. So maybe a smaller office, a diversity-focused place . . . Something like that!

        1. Anon Anon Anon*

          PS! This will also be an experiment in addressing the things about me that can cause misunderstandings in a different way and more pro-actively. I need to get out of that rut where people are being mean because of things that are beyond my control and I feel victmized. I need to try different approaches and see what, if anything, helps with understanding and all of that.

    3. Lilysparrow*

      As far as reputation management, there’s an article here by Alison from a while back :

      If people have been impersonating you online, I think you’d need to address that with the platform to see if you can get it taken down.
      Another option might be to use a variant of your name on your resume. Like if the fake profiles are “Anon Anon Anon,” you might put just “Anon Anon,” or use a middle initial, or a more or less formal nickname, that kind of thing. It could make someone question if that profile is really you or not, so if they asked you could truthfully say, “No, that’s not me! I’ve seen those, aren’t they awful? That’s why I use the initial.”

      I certainly wouldn’t go opening a lot of baggage about being targeted or who did it and why, before you even get your foot in the door.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        For articles about you, it depends what sort of things they say. If they are alleging you did something unethical or illegal, that could possibly be libel. If it comes up you can just say, “No, that’s not true.” But if it seems to be interfering with your livelihood you might need to pursue getting it taken down (which could require a court order).

        If it’s more something like the writer misgendering you or referring to you as part of a minority group that you aren’t in, I can’t imagine any employer you’d want to work for taking notice at all.

        But if it came up as a point of confusion or awkwardness, you can just shrug and say, “No, that’s not accurate.”

    4. Bismuth*

      Try lots of places! Sign up with several to volunteer. It doesn’t hurt to talk to someone, get a look around, see what sorts of needs they have, training you would get, etc. The research questions Lilysparrow wrote are awesome, but I’d focus on meeting people and seeing the place. If it seems fine, volunteer for a time or two and see if it clicks. The beauty of volunteering is you’re not tied down.

      Get on Volunteer Match and maybe another site, like Idealist or the local United Way’s, and find a bunch of places you’re interested in, can get to easily, and will work with your schedule. Be prepared — a lot of nonprofits are stretched for staff so you won’t hear back, the listings are out of date, etc. Also think of a few nonprofits you’d love to spend time at and drop them an email. Again, don’t expect to hear back from everyone! Don’t think it’s you. Cast your net widely. Something you support but may not be crazy passionate about may click for you on an interpersonal level, or your skills match their needs. Just ’cause it’s not what you were going for originally doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable work, and it could lead to experiences that will get you where you want to go. (It really can be like a job search sometimes.) At worst, you’ll learn something about a lot of different orgs that interest you.

      An example — I volunteer with a food pantry that happens to mostly serves immigrants. Lots of working with other cultures, but on paper, it’s just a food pantry. The umbrella org seems like it would be very homogeneous and people assume they might not welcome outsiders as clients or staff, but they walk the diversity walk. Like anywhere, it can be different once you’re inside. But as a volunteer, you get to choose whether you stay.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Yes, I agree that showing up is what I’d choose and generally recommend. You certainly can’t find out what it’s *like* there unless you do.
        The research stuff is just going to help flag certain varieties of hot-mess orgs. (And there are as many different types of hot mess as stars in the sky)

        It’s not going to catch everything or tell you if the place is a good fit.

  54. Bird*

    I have two job offers and I’m having a devilish time deciding. I need to make a quick decision, both because I don’t want to string either place along and because my current workplace is devolving into one of the most toxic experiences I have ever had. My supervisor thinks I am an idiot and I am sincerely worried that we will be sued by a client. I want to get out before that happens or before they fire me.

    The first offered a salary close to what I’m making now. It’s a large company (10,000 employees) with a regular raise/bonus structure, and if I work hard I may be able to move quickly up the salary ladder. However, they have a reputation for churning and burning their employees, and the experience I would gain there may be hard to leverage at another company. Average tenure is 2 years. Plus, I would need to commute by car around 30 minutes each way; there is no wfh offered and PTO is mediocre, but health insurance is very good. The potential salary increase would help me and my fiancee pay off her crippling student loans in a more timely manner.

    The second is at the local large state university. I used to work as a student assistant on a related team and enjoyed it very much. The work would be socially valuable and I would be more than a cog in the machine. The salary is much lower than what I currently make, but I could walk/take the bus to work. It’s a soft money position, guaranteed for two years with a strong possibility of renewal, but no guarantees. PTO and benefits blow most other places out of the water, but the lower salary would make it harder to pay off student loans and keep up with living expenses.

    I think that either place would probably be exponentially better than my current job, and I feel so lucky to be able to make this kind of choice. But, I am certainly struggling to make a decision. Do you, AAM readers, have any advice? Suggestions for other things I should consider?

    1. To help you decide*

      Is “churn and burn” your department or the company as a whole? Personally, I think 30 mins each way via car is a short distance and not a lot of time. I’m leaning towards this offer.

      What is the commute like to/from the state university? Is there a way to negotiate the pay to match what you currently make now? How would you feel if they don’t renew the position in 2 years?

      1. Bird*

        Churn and burn is the company as a whole – there are multiple stories of high performers suddenly being fired after a year and a half or two years, especially in my particular role. This company hires many very young employees and finds it easier to replace than to re-train, apparently. The commute is complicated by the fact that I live in the Midwest; this winter has been extremely cold and snowy and I expect it will continue to be that way. The cost of this commute in terms of gas and additional car maintenance are substantial.

        The university is a 2 mile walk or bike ride from my apartment, through a very nice neighborhood; I previously made the same commute for 5 years and loved it. Or, I can take the bus part of the way during bad weather. I did negotiate their initial salary offer and received an $8k increase from them, which did push it above my minimum earning threshold. If the position were not renewed, it would be difficult, but I would likely know well in advance if that were not the case, due to the grant application process. Furthermore, once in the university’s system as a non-student employee, it is extremely common to move between schools or departments.

    2. londonedit*

      Oh, I think this is a tough one. With the ‘churn and burn’ place, I’d be worried about jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, even though it seems like it would be better than your current job. It doesn’t sound like it would be a particularly nice place to work! But that might just be my personal feelings coming into play – I’d hate a stressful working environment. On the other hand, the university job sounds much better from a quality of life point of view – which, in an ideal world, would make it the obvious choice. But if the salary would truly leave you struggling to keep up with your loans and everyday living expenses, then that’s just going to make you stressed and miserable in a different way.

      If you can live on the salary for the uni job, personally, I’d totally take that one. Just for the work/life balance, the benefits and the more socially valuable work. But if it would mean that you’d struggle to pay for the things you need, then I’m afraid I think I’d have to choose the other job.

      1. Bird*

        My current workplace is rife with unclear expectations, abusive practices, and questionable ethics. I think the churn and burn place is better, but by how much, I couldn’t be sure. If it helps, it’s a software company, and while I would be in a non-developer position, I would be subject to the same kinds of crunch expectations as the developers. Another wrinkle is that I could not start there until May, and my fiancee’s current appointment lasts only until the end of April. I cannot keep working at my current job until then, so I would need to risk living on savings and my fiancee’s job, until it ends, and buying health insurance from the marketplace.

        I don’t know that the salary at the university job would cause me and my fiancee to really struggle, but it would be tight. We have earned substantially less than this recently and mostly managed. I could look into finding a second, part-time position or freelancing if needed. That is not an option at the higher-paying job – I would have to sign a contract stating that Churn and Burn Co. is my only employment.

    3. Anon Librarian Thinking about Going Home*

      Be very wary of soft money jobs at University. You should look at that one with the assumption that it will not be there in two years.

      Having said that, how important is your commute (a 30 minute commute would make me miserable, but I am a small town kinda girl) or how important are the benefits? Good health insurance and retirement are really important.

      1. Bird*

        Believe me, I am very wary and assuming that I will need to stay on my toes. There is some comfort in the fact that the PI for this project is a rising star in a field that is gaining national attention, but nothing is certain.

        The 30 minute drive would be stressful, especially in bad weather. I am a good driver and used to dealing with snow and ice up here, but I don’t enjoy driving. The university job has truly excellent health/dental/vision for a low price, as well as about 3 times the PTO of the churn and burn job. Plus, if I can stay as an employee there, it has an amazing set of retirement benefits.

        1. foolofgrace*

          Sounds like you’ve made up your mind. It’s a personal choice — for me, it’s hard to be happy if I’m not making enough money, no matter the PTO etc.

        2. Midwesterner*

          If you are in the city I think you are in, there are buses to the large company from downtown. Would not having to drive change your calculation?

          1. Bird*

            I am likely where you’re thinking. But, we don’t live downtown, so taking the bus would double my commute time.

            1. Minocho*

              I prefer driving, but many of my coworkers take the bus. it also significantly increases their commute time, but that is time they’re not driving. Some use it to work on laptops or tablets. Some read. Some listen to podcasts. Most use it as time to unwind from work.

      2. Elaine*

        My first concern about the university job is that it could evaporate in 2 years. And then I realized that Churn and Burn isn’t likely to last more than 2 years, either, based on others’ experiences. So that’s a wash. I get the impression that the money is the only thing in favor of Churn and Burn. If that’s true and Bird can make a go of it on the university money, it sounds to me like the decision has actually already been made.

    4. deesse877*

      Universities sometimes make a virtue of internal or lateral hiring, too. Would your position there be unique, or would your skills be transferable within the institution? Do they have a rep for internal hiring and lifetime employment?

      Also, are there tuition benefits for you and partner?

      1. Bird*

        There is definitely a practice of assessing internal candidates first, and many jobs are only open to current employees. My position would allow me to build many extremely transferable skills that would be valuable both within a university setting and at external organizations. In contrast, at Churn and Burn Co., lateral transfers are difficult and uncommon, and the structure is relatively flat. Most people do their best to stay within the university, which is encouraged – academic staff members are integral parts of a department’s administrative structure.

        There are some tuition benefits for employees and college planning for kids, but since I have a PhD and she is a veterinarian (and we do not plan to have children), any courses we take would be strictly related to professional development.

      2. Alianora*

        That’s true. I started as a temp at my university, and that 6-month experience really opened up networking opportunities and got me many more interviews with other departments than I had been getting previously.

        I agree with what others have said that I would go for Job 2 unless it would be a real financial hardship.

    5. Not A Manager*

      You say that the skills/prestige from Big Company might not transfer well to another job search. How about the experience that you’ll get at State University?

      It sounds like you might be job searching after two years at either place. I’d focus on which job will provide better leverage in your next search.

      1. Bird*

        Big Company uses a legacy system and non-industry standard tools, apparently, which is why I worry about transferable skills. But, since I would be in a non-technical role, it may not be as much of a problem as I fear. If I can make it through the one-year non-compete after leaving, I could probably work with one of Big Company’s clients afterwards.

        The State University job would allow me to build on skills that I’ve already begun to acquire, and could position me to work in a more senior capacity. My fiancee is focusing her job search on veterinary teaching positions, so I would also probably try for alt-ac jobs at the institution that eventually employs her. Depending on how that goes, I may be job searching again sooner than two years from now. The two-body problem is the worst.

    6. Autumnheart*

      Honestly….I’d take the money. You could use the money to pay off debt, and you know you wouldn’t be there for a huge amount of time. Taking a job that pays much LESS than you’re making now won’t do you any favors in the long run. Taking a job that is more fulfilling but pays less is a consideration that makes sense when your financial needs are being met.

      1. Bird*

        It’s tough, because after doing the math, the additional commuting cost basically puts the higher-paying job at the same pay level as the lower-paying one, before tax. (I’ve also factored in the costs of insurance.)

        1. Mill Miker*

          If the commute cancels out the extra money, and you’re likely to get churn-and-burned before making any real career progress, and the experience wont’t be valuable outside of the company… what really are the pros of the first option?

          1. Bird*

            So, I can’t actually predict whether I’ll be burned, obviously. I’d do my utmost to perform well, and if I can make it past the two year mark, I could end up making a ton of money. With my particular combination of degrees and skills, which are not at all “in demand” anywhere, it’s more money than I could expect elsewhere, for sure. And, the experience could be valuable at clients of this company, after I finish the one-year non-compete.

    7. The Ace Tomato Company*

      It sounds like either one could be 2 year positions. The uni one with the more pleasant commute and being a known entity with better PTO and being socially valuable seems like a better choice to me!

      1. Reba*

        Yeah, for me the pleasant commute would weigh very heavily in my decision!

        OTOH, paying down debt is a very good priority to have.

        Since it sounds like you could consider both the positions as having around a 2-year expiration date, I’d set that aspect aside and focus my pro and con lists on this quality of life stuff. How will it affect your life planning to have debt paid off sooner? What would you do with your extra time not spent commuting/how important is spending time outside to your mental health?

        It’s a good position to be in but definitely a pickle. Good luck!

    8. Aggretsuko*

      So either way it’s a 2-year stint, more or less. I’d be most concerned about leaving churn-n-burn with a bad reputation that might make it hard for you to get jobs later if it’s that kind of place. I think I’d lean towards the university job myself even if it’s soft money because the odds of getting longer term employment might be better.

      1. Bird*

        Churn and Burn only confirms dates of employment, so I couldn’t expect any kind of reference from them (which could be fine, if I my best efforts are not good enough for them). They do enforce a one-year non-compete agreement and occasionally put folks on a (rumored) blacklist with their clients, since former employees often leave to work at client organizations.

    9. Combinatorialist*

      The best advice I got on making a decision is to “try on each option for size” and see how it fits. Tell yourself “I have decided on Churn and Burn” and pay attention to how that feels and the life changes that entails. Half a day later, tell yourself the other option and see how that feels. Think about lifestyle changes that could make the money situation more workable — could you sell your car and share with your fiancee? Think about the daily stresses in each situation and decide which is better

      It seems like your gut is telling you to go to the university. If Churn and Burn churns that much, it seems like you might be able to get another offer in two years if you need to? Or could you get another offer at the university after you have been churned?

      1. Bird*

        The advice in your first paragraph is really helpful, I think. I haven’t really sat with either of them – I’ve been trying to gather as much information as possible before making a decision. But, I do plan to take the weekend to truly consider each option and how it feels.

        In terms of lifestyle changes, we’re pretty frugal, I think. We’ve worked hard to minimize our expenses apart from my fiancee’s loans – my car, for example, is completely paid off, and she doesn’t have one. But, I will look at our budget to see if we have other places we can cut back.

        Getting a foot back in the door at the university was a challenge. I was rejected from 5 other positions there without even being interviewed before finally doing two interviews for this one and getting an offer this past Wednesday. But, I realize that this isn’t exactly the most difficult job search ever; my fiancee’s been trying to find a permanent position since mid-2017. So, yeah, I guess I’m fairly confident in my ability to get a job somewhere else later if I do get chewed up and spit out.

    10. ..Kat..*

      Well, you say that once you figure in commute costs, the pay is essentially the same (so neither one would help with paying expenses or student loans). One place is high stress with low benefits. The other is less stress, better work/life balance, and better benefits. I would take the latter job.

      It sounds as if these student loans belong to your fiancée, not you. If so, I would caution you against making them your responsibility. Your fiancée decided to take on this debt and it should be their responsibility. Also, is your fiancée making responsible financial decisions (as opposed to incurring more debt)? I know you didn’t ask about this. I am adding it in because I have been burned by helping a significant other with debt.

      1. Bird*

        I’ve tried to summarize here, and perhaps did a bad job, but there are definitely many advantages to each job – they truly are relatively equal. (I have a very extensive spreadsheet to confirm this information.)

        I have in no way taken on my fiancee’s student loans – she makes her own payments (as aggressively as possible) as well as contributing an equal share to our household expenses. She’s currently working in a high-paying, though limited-term, job, and is actively and earnestly job hunting. Her field is extremely specialized, but once she gets a position, she will likely be able to pay down the debt even more aggressively. Furthermore, she has been able to start a savings account and is building a strong credit history since finishing her education. Neither of us plan to incur more student debt – any additional loans we take out would be for purchasing a house, which will not take place for years. My only involvement in this is to make sure that I am contributing as much as I can to our shared expenses, so that she can commit more of her resources to eliminating the debt. I understand your concern, but we do maintain separate finances outside of our contributions to shared living costs, and she is possibly the kindest and most conscientious person I know.

    11. Electric Sheep*

      This is not advice, but fwiw, I get the vibe from your comments that you like the uni job more.

    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’d take the uni job. Both places sound like they are likely to be about 2 year’s worth of work but you will feel much more positive about life with an easy commute and an environment you enjoy.

      1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

        Yes, and when you come to do your next job search, it’ll help if you’re well rested & have the daily walks to think about it.

  55. KayEss*

    I got handed a critical project with an extremely tight deadline this week, worked over hours to complete it, and got massive praise for the results from the top leadership… and 24 hours later I’m still angsting over how when the CEO came by my desk to thank me personally, I gave him possibly the single worst handshake of my life. I just didn’t get a good grip and it was limp fingers-only pure awkwardness. Someone reassure me that I’ll be remembered as the person who steps up in a crisis to get things done with outstanding quality, not the person who doesn’t know how to shake hands.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Laugh it off. That’s the only thing you can do. And if you get a chance to shake the CEO’s hand again, give him a really good one.

      My husband and I once encountered kind of a big-name person – a longtime and well known American sports coach. It appeared a handshake was going to happen and my husband inexplicably grabbed the coach around the wrist and shook his wrist (I’m shaking-laughing over here while I type this because it was so weird). He has no idea what happened or how or why. But during the wrist-shake he said “well, this is awkward,” laughed, and then walked away. So, you know, like this happens sometimes.

      1. valentine*

        If you’re a woman or assumed to be one, they may have experienced it as a delicate upper-class-type thing. Let it lie. Bad handshakes are no more noteworthy than remembering who said “You’re welcome” prior to being thanked or “Good [different time of day]”. The OP who mistakenly hugged the CEO while entering the building went on to work really well with him.

        The CEO thanked you personally! #celebr8

    2. Kathenus*

      I can all but guarantee you that you are the only one of you thinking about the handshake right now. Think about if the roles were reversed, and one of your employees did something amazing and you went to personally thank them. If they had a weird handshake, had food in their teeth, a hole in their shirt, whatever – what would you think of when you thought of that person going forward? Probably – that’s the rockstar who did such an amazing job on that project. That’s what they are thinking about you right now.

      1. KayEss*

        Yup, I know that realistically this is 95% my anxiety talking… but the whole thing is still fresh enough that I can’t squash the cringey feeling just yet. I keep telling myself that at least I didn’t accidentally hug him, like in that one letter from a couple years back!

    3. TechWorker*

      If it makes you feel any better I had a handshake with a senior colleague I’d met once before and massively fumbled it: a) I was sat down when introduced so was half standing up as he arrived and b) I basically mashed my hand into his and got my little finger stuck the wrong side of his hand.

  56. 867-5309*

    I’ve been waiting for this since yesterday!

    I was trying to visit a blog that we want to pitch our company to for a write-up. I live and work in Norway but this is a US-based, English language blog.

    Up popped an ad that covered the page in Norwegian so I called over to the CEO and head of sales to look at my screen and translate. That page disappeared so I hit the back button.

    PORN! Two men enjoying themselves independent of each other.

    I accidentally put an “s” at the end of your blog URL.

    I am and was mortified!!! Fortunately I work for a startup and everyone has a sense of humor but it’s embarrassing. And now also, a running joke when I ask someone to look at something on my computer.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      You’re not alone!
      A male friend had a porn site pop up on a work computer during the work day and he immediately closed it down. He then reported the oops to the IT department that day, so there’d be no question that it was a mistake and he shut it down within seconds. Reporting it was better for his peace of mind than hoping no one would find out later.

  57. Audiophile*

    Anyone make the jump from nonprofit to for profit? I’d love to hear about it and would love some advice on making the switch.

    I’m currently working for a medium-sized nonprofit managing digital marketing (including email marketing), as well as other forms of marketing and some communications work. I’d like to move into communications or email marketing for a corporation. I seem to be hitting a wall in my applications though and I’m rarely getting interview requests from corporations.

    1. KayEss*

      I worked adjacent to marketing professionals (I’m a designer) in a nonprofit (university) environment where everyone was desperately trying to get out (we went from 20 staff to 3 in under a year, at which point they dissolved the entire department and laid the last of us off), and making that jump sounded like it was pretty difficult and frustrating for them.

      The main barrier seemed to be having experience with cutting-edge techniques and tools–universities are routinely about 10 years behind on that kind of thing, and I imagine most nonprofits are restricted in similar ways for budget reasons. My last job we basically had none of the industry-standard marketing funnel tools–no Salesforce, no Marketo, not even something like MailChimp–if it wasn’t free, we couldn’t use it. We also had basically no advertising budget, so anything beyond Google AdWords and the occasional Facebook ad was out. Furthermore, we were constantly slammed with last-minute requests, so our timelines didn’t even allow us to do things like A/B testing, because we couldn’t make time for creating two versions of the same thing. The result was, even for me, long job searches when we didn’t have experience with this or that software, didn’t have any data from large-scale, multi-channel campaign successes to point to, and generally felt like we had set our careers back significantly. So if that sounds familiar, you have my deepest sympathy. I think pretty much everyone there went on to jobs at other (slightly less dysfunctional) universities, except a few who were very early in their careers and managed to land low-level jobs at small agencies.

      I wish I had some really good advice to give you, but mostly I can just tell you that you’re not imagining that it’s hard. You might have to make the jump in a couple steps by looking for positions at nonprofits that are more on top of current marketing techniques.

      1. Audiophile*

        We’re moving to Salesforce in the near future (also managing that project), we had MailChimp and switched to another ESP (managed that process), we don’t have Marketo (definitely out of our budget), we are utilizing Google AdWords but that’s on the nonprofit side. Our A/B testing is limited to subject lines. I’ve started teaching myself new things, which is what I did a few years ago to boost my resume. I guess I’ll keep plugging away.

        The org, like many nonprofits is struggling, so I’m worried about being unemployed if I don’t actively search. I really don’t want to move to another nonprofit if I can avoid it. While I’ve worked for corporations, it was not in marketing or communications, so I’ve removed that from my resume.

        1. Eight*

          Not a university, but this is 100% my experience working at a nonprofit as well. I’m ostensibly a “data analyst” and thought I might be able to transition to marketing, but we pretty much only use Excel. I suggested to my boss that we get Tableau and he had to reach out to his network to see if anyone had heard of it. I don’t even want to say which email program we use because it’s so outdated that I feel like it would give me away LOL. My boss refuses to let our team even use Google Calendar and insists that we have to use this software from 1999. Looking at job postings shattered my illusions about easily being able to transition into digital marketing pretty fast.

    2. 867-5309*

      I’ve done a lot of hiring in my career (currently CMO of a small tech company) and many times throughout resume of nonprofit professionals can feel too generalist or include tasks that are not related to the job. Another is that some focus on “raising awareness” or other vanity metrics, without a lot of measureable ones. It doesn’t have to be a direct contribution to money raised, which might not be something a hiring manager can relate to. Instead, focus on increasing the email file or open rates, etc.

      I’m also happy to take a look at your resume. On LinkedIn I’m in/jpbrown

  58. Sloan Kittering*

    I’m going to send the link in my next comment – but I was interested in this Atlantic article about how “meaningful work” is the elite American religion and is better understood through that lens instead of economic necessity. The article specifically talks about college educated males working more hours than ever before and how that’s not really driven by need so much as religious fever. It kind of rang a bell for me, anyone else?

    “But our desks were never meant to be our altars. The modern labor force evolved to serve the needs of consumers and capitalists, not to satisfy tens of millions of people seeking transcendence at the office.”

    1. LCL*

      I read that this morning. Basically true but a bit glib. But I come from a lower economic class than the people described in the article, and always knew we worked because otherwise we would be broke and poor.

      1. matcha123*

        Same. The Atlantic and NYT are written by and for upper-middle class white people who were born into those worlds and will leave them richer (as long as they don’t mess up badly). The NYT article that featured the man making an annual 1.2 million, but still feeling like his life had no meaning is another example.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Since my link isn’t showing up yet, you can find it by searching Atlantic “Workism Is Making Americans Miserable” by Derek Thompson

    3. Asenath*

      Transcendence at the office?? I haven’t read the article – must look for it – but for someone from my mixed middle and working class background, work was something to did to keep food on the table and a roof over your head. If it happened to be something you loved so much you’d do it for free, or something you felt a religious fervour for, that was lucky, but it wasn’t a necessary part of a working life. But then, I’m not elite, American or male.

    4. matcha123*

      I also read that article, however it didn’t really resonate with me.
      I think that American men, in particular white men, are at a point where they are trying to forge a new identity for themselves. I also feel like America’s history with Christianity ties into the way the men in the article approach what work is, what it is supposed to mean, and what they are supposed to get out of it.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I did think there was a whole Calvinist history where work = getting into heaven that could have been referenced more, although I’m no historian.

        I do feel like much of my social circle’s fixation on work is more like a mania, a self-driven thing that, while tacitly encouraged and rewarded by their workplaces, doesn’t even seem to be arising from their bosses / companies. And then they’re *creating* that culture for their coworkers and subordinates, who see these men putting in 50-60 hour workweeks and assume that’s what’s necessary for success.

        1. Asenath*

          And the second paragraph – again, I’m at a disadvantage discussing this milieu, not being elite, American etc – but the man who found his entire identity at work or as a member of an occupation goes way, way back – I (although not a man) have tendencies that way, my father’s work meant a lot to him, my grandfather battled against forced retirement at 65, and lost….probably some medieval serfs took great pride in plowing a perfect furrow. (I’m also unsure about the worklife of serfs; surely in medieval Europe, at least, I can’t speak for other places, there was far more time off than we have today? Lots of religious and other traditional festival that were lost with industrialization…. but I digress.) And women throughout the ages sometimes found a very strong sense of identity in their occupations. I think it’s got a lot to do with a human instinct to form connections and community (including in the workplace), plus maybe sometimes social encouragement for being the best at plowing a field, or operating a piece of equipment, or organizing and cleaning or, well, almost anything. People like to be admired. That’s not exclusive to rich Americans who work ridiculous hours.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            I have also heard that serfs in the dark ages actually worked relatively short hours with many religious holidays and whole seasons off! I’m not sure how true it is but I have definitely heard it.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Well, being a serf would be like teaching–you might have the season “off”, but you still gotta eat.

              I always thought it would be great to bring the Jubilee back–every 7 years, everyone’s debt is forgiven.

              1. Minocho*

                Wasn’t that the fiftieth year? the Jubilee of Jubilees? Or something?

                I thought the concept was pretty cool myself. I often read the Old Testament (more exciting stories!) while I was supposed to be listening to the sermon as a kid.

      2. Asenath*

        But not all Christians have the same view of work! Even according to the Protestant work ethic, work is merely a duty. It’s not something to worship, much less to put above other duties like charity – to do so is mere idolatry. And the article itself argues that the decline of traditional faith is associated with religious-like devotion to other things, like work.

        I haven’t had time to read it properly, but it doesn’t resonate with me, either. Wrong audience, probably.

    5. Delphine*

      I have a friend who is very attached to finding meaningful work–a calling. She’s a woman of color, so I don’t think this is a trend limited to upper-class white men. I imagine it’s related (as the author suggests) to people who don’t find meaning in the other parts of life that they’re “meant” to, such as children or marriage, or generations that have absorbed the “work your passion” message.

    6. Reba*

      Interesting paired reading might be “Bullshit Jobs” by David Graeber. There was a lot of press around this book when it came out last year so it should be easy to find summaries, interviews, etc. I learned about it when the author appeared on the Hidden Brain podcast.

    7. Millennial Lizard Person*

      As an upper-middle class American millennial, who was raised with the idea that I would go to college and find the career I love: I found this spot-on. Everything in high school was about getting into college; everything in college was about prepping for the workforce (finding your ‘passion’). I derive about 90% of my self-worth from being good at my career. And I do truly love it, but if something were to happen and I couldn’t work full-time, I don’t know what I’d do.

      I recently changed jobs within my company because my old job was boring me. It was stable but directionless with distracted bosses. I had plenty of free time at work and I could leave it at the office… and I was bored to tears. I’m so excited to be in my new role where I’m vastly over my head and have a lot of technical background to learn.

      We fell for it, hook line and sinker. We’re defined by our career.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        And when we all get to retirement age or what would have been retirement age we have set ourselves up for an existential crisis. I can only imagine that the age of retirement wont keep getting pushed because we need people or long lives, high costs, and low savings but because they can’t.

    8. Iris Eyes*

      I found that article really interesting and shared it with a few people.

      With most religious expression there are level of fervor. Ideas like finding a job you love, or finding your calling/passion are the entry level and broad cultural expressions. The propensity to define ourselves by our company and title is another expression. Seeing the title as the end rather than the means is basic adherence.

  59. Anon for this*

    I want to apply for an internal position. Should I tell my current boss before or after I apply for it?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Hmm, IMO it totally depends on your relationship with this manager, and it’s very specific to your circumstances. Would this manager be surprised to hear that you had applied in another department? I would want to give them a heads up so they don’t find out for the first time when the other department brings it up. Would they try to block you from leaving if they could? In that case, I might wait, and give the other department or HR or my grandboss a heads up. Are you determined to leave one way or another even if you don’t get the internal transfer, or would you want to stay in this role for a long time if you don’t get it? In some companies and positions it’s totally normal, even expected, for staff to move up – in others it could be seen as a betrayal. There’s a lot of factors to consider. Sometimes you can ask the hiring manager not to mention it if it’s a total non-starter on their end – but in general, your boss is going to find out anyway, it’s better for you to be the messenger. If you’re determined to apply it doesn’t matter so much (IMO) whether the message is “I’m about to apply” or “I already did apply” but a petty boss may care that you didn’t ask for their “blessing.”

      1. Anon for this*

        I want to leave one way or another. An opening happened to come up for what I’ve been thinking I want to do, given the chance, and I could lean on the reason that it’s more technical and challenging work in line with my area of study. (Rather than one major factor, which is boss himself.) I think he might be surprised and possibly hold it against me if I don’t get it.

    2. Val Zephyr*

      Before you apply, you should check your company’s policy on internal applications. Some employers require that you get your supervisor’s approval before applying and some require that you be in your position a certain amount of time before you’ll be considered for another. You’ll want to know all that before you start the process.

      1. Anon for this*

        Interesting. The policy says I would have to inform my current manager that an application has been submitted after an initial interview with the hiring manager.

        1. Val Zephyr*

          That’s a pretty good policy actually. It gives you a chance to find out more about the position and how well matched you are for it before you have to tell your current manager. Of course, there is a chance of your manager finding out before you’re ready to tell him and you’ll want to be prepared for that. If you’re looking to change jobs anyway, I would suggest you start applying for external positions at the same time you apply to the internal one.

  60. Anon Anon*

    What should an organization do about gendered pay inequity?

    I’ve been going rounds with my organization over pay inequity, and I’m not yet at the point of taking any legal steps (but may if it doesn’t resolve; I have gotten legal advice). So my question is not about what an organization is legally obligated to do (my lawyer can advise me on that).

    I’m just curious about opinions about how the mechanics should work. Like: should the men’s pay be reduced? The women’s pay increased (even if that would put their salaries way over market, like the men’s)? Does it matter that it’s a nonprofit, entrusted with thoughtfully spending our donors’ contributions?

    Our situation:

    My organization has clear levels for each role, with detailed descriptions of the differences between the levels.

    I, and several other women in my division, are underclassified by at least one level (that is, our job descriptions are those of a “manager” or “director” but our titles and salaries are “coordinator” or “associate”).

    The two men in our division who have equivalent jobs (managing programs) are overclassified by one or more levels (that is, their job descriptions are those of a “manager” or “director” but their titles and salaries are “senior director.”)

    So the correct this, what should change? Should the men be reclassified to the correct, lower levels? (This would likely meant that they would quit — I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be! Their salaries would be cut by at least $15,000.) Or should the women be classified up to the same level as the men (raises of up to $25,000 each)? Or is there something I’m not thinking of?

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      This happened recently with a friend’s company. He noticed the discrepancy in pay in two similarly titled people of differing genders. We’ll say they’re llama groomers. He rectified the salary of the female groomer and didn’t give a raise to the male groomer. He noted that the female groomer had been with the company since the start of her career whereas the male groomer started with some years of experience and managed to start when they were in desperate need of groomers, so they naturally started his pay higher to attract him to the position. It wasn’t done with ill intent.

      I would maybe suggest correcting the titles and giving pay raises to the females affected by this while just leaving the men as they are. It’s the most equitable thing that can be done.

      1. Anon Anon*

        Doing this would overclassify everyone — everyone would have the title and salary of “senior director,” but our jobs are actually “manager” or “director.”

        That would obviously be great for me, but I’m not sure it’s the right choice. We’d have to make significant cuts (like ending a program and laying off its staff), and we’d likely face some challenges in future fundraising because our operating would be much higher than the market.

        (I’m also not sure it’s the wrong choice! It just doesn’t seem easy to me.)

        1. MechanicalPencil*

          Well that’s a pickle. Can you do some sort of generic “we’re doing an organizational overhaul and looking at everyone’s mumble mumble” and go from there to better match title to salary to person? Try to remove gender from the equation and just look at performance and duties and have a blind committee make judgments?

    2. Asenath*

      Some employers have formal procedures for re-classifying jobs – the fact that a successful reclassification changes the job-holder’s salary and title is a result of the process. I think that might be more common in civil service type jobs or university ones, though.

      If you are in such a place, though, the person holding the job goes through the long, detailed process necessary. Naturally, if it looks like you might be reclassified down, you won’t be motivated to have your job re-classified!

      I’ve been learning more about how we have a LOT of mis-match between job titles and duties (not gender-based, though, it’s an almost exclusively female workplace). And we do have the option to go for re-classification. I don’t want to get into identifying details, though.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      When we’ve had to do this at previous companies, we raised the women’s salaries while freezing the men’s (if the men’s were over market).

      1. Combinatorialist*

        This seems the best to me. Bring the men down in title to the level of their actual job, keep their salaries the same, and freeze them until they are back in their level. (Yes, I get this is a pay cut with time, that is what you get when you are being paid over market rate. If you don’t think you are being made over market, go find the job to show that). Bring the women up in title and jump their pay to be on par with the men’s. Then freeze it also until everyone is being paid on their level.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      There are lots of things to do.

      In terms of existing employees, determine what makes sense for people to be paid, and if the employee is under that, give that employee a raise; if the employee is over that, keep that employee at that salary for years until they’re at the salary they should be (i.e., they never get a raise, because they’re already beyond what they should have been paid).

      The steps and corresponding salaries should be transparently laid out (years of experience, title, educational degrees, etc.).

      That said, adjusting titles and pay levels won’t fix culture. If person-at-higher-level always gets paid X and person-at-lower-level always gets paid Y, that may seem fair at surface level, but if men disproportionately get promoted to higher-level, then that’s still sexism, and that’s still pay inequity.

      Also, if you don’t want pay inequity to continue with new hires, you have to get rid of asking for salary history (it may already be illegal where you live, but it’s not in many places) and also get rid of salary negotiation. Yes, under normal circumstances, women can and should negotiate, but the truth is that with the salary negotiation system, women still get penalized salary-wise more than men. The best way to avoid that is to just be upfront about trying to make as competitive an offer as possible and that there’s no negotiation for any new hires.

    5. it happens*

      A true re-classification of all the jobs is the most equitable solution. That means reducing the titles and pay of the currently over-classified staff. It also means a whole lot of managing expectations during the process and good communication about being faithful stewards of the org’s resources. Will the over-classified leave? Will they be able to get jobs equivalent to their current titles and pay with the accomplishments they have today? Will the organization be able to hire new people for those roles at the new re-defined titles and pay? The management needs to think a few steps ahead, but once the inequity is known they have a ticking time bomb and better deal with it.
      This is a tricky situation and I hope that the team is up to solving it for the good of all.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Titles don’t matter,it’s duties that count here!

      The state put through this law last year and they pounded that through the trainings.

      They need to show their calculations to justify the differences.

      They’ll raise the women’s rates and change titles/job descriptions to be better suited if they’re found to be paying men more.

  61. Mimmy*

    AAM website question:

    I’m looking for a particular post from an Open Thread a few weeks ago. Does the “Search” function look that deeply, or would it only find Alison’s original posts?


    1. CastIrony*

      I like to use the ctrl+f function on my computer and search for key words of what I’m looking for. For example, if I am looking for a post about tea-shaped cats, I would put in, “tea-shaped cats”.

      Best of luck to you

      1. ..Kat..*

        I use control-f on my PC with the Chrome browser. But it only searches the current blog page. Is there anyway to search all of AAM?

        I have an iPad using Safari browser. But I cannot figure out how to search a blog page?


    2. LCL*

      A few weeks? Just post what you are looking for. Some of us have odd memories and might be able to find it for you. Odd memory defined-finding a post from a few weeks back is a piece of cake. Remembering to pick up something in the store on a 4 item list is impossible.

    3. JanetM*

      I’ve searched for my name and found my comments, so I think it will likely find the post if you can sufficiently narrow down the search criteria. Good luck!

    4. Mimmy*

      Thanks everyone. I’m actually looking for someone else’s post – they were considering a Masters in Public Policy and I think they got a small number of replies. I’ve been toying with the idea off-and-on myself but didn’t want to post a redundant question lol.

      Off to try now!

      1. grace*

        Oh hey, that was me! Still considering it. :) There wasn’t a lot of information given here so would love to hear your perspective on it too!

        ps if it wasn’t me please let me know who it was so I can read some more too!

        1. Mimmy*

          Haha yup, that was you :)

          I know just as much as you. Several people have suggested I go the policy route; what scares me off is some of the coursework – most, if not all, programs seem to require coursework in economics and finances.

  62. ArtK*

    Got rejected for a job this week, which made me sad. I asked the recruiter if they could provide any information about why and they very kindly came back with a list of issues. Most are because I either lack some experience or it wasn’t emphasized enough in my resume. Then they said that if I wanted to be reconsidered, I could address those issues in a cover letter! I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of my references to make sure that I’m not saying things in that letter that they couldn’t back up if asked. I’m going to submit the letter later today!

    1. CastIrony*

      Good luck! I actually got rejected for a job this week, too, because someone else fit their needs better (more experience).

      1. ArtK*

        Thanks. It’s quite likely that they’ll still have a better candidate, but I’m not giving up until I have to!

    2. JobHunter*

      That’s great! Good luck. I was also recently rejected, and found that they had relisted the position before they notified me. I hadn’t hought about askimg for feedback.

  63. HR Lady*

    Hello! Following on from my question about presentations last week, I can confirm that I gave the talk today and it was successful! I finished about 15 minutes ago so my adrenaline is still quite high! I have popped back to my desk to finish off work before having to deal with a panel in about 20 minutes. Thank you for the tips around introductions!

  64. CastIrony*

    Hi! I wonder how people who became a medical administrative assistant got their first jobs. Currently, I am trying to get this kind of job, but with no luck! I have the certifications, I have a bachelor’s degree (in art), and I think I am doing everything right with help from this blog, like thanking each member of my interview committees!

    What am I doing wrong?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s a saturated market so they may simply just be going with those with even a little experience to avoid training you in basics!

      Have you been trying small offices as well as the major ones? Have you thought to try to get into medical records and then move to admin? Sometimes it’s just they want some medical-ish background!

      1. CastIrony*

        I live in a small town, and I’ve tried most of the offices and almost every posting in this area, big and small! I think I may have to go back to school for medical records. Does that mean medical coding (it’s my weak spot)? The closest I have is a knowledge of EHR (I got certified in this, too.)

        Thank you for replying!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Medical records doesn’t require any additional schooling or certificates. It’s just a low rung medical clerical job.

          It’s been many many moons since my stint in records, I temped there, they wanted me to stay on but my heart is in business/accounting so I flew the coop instead.

          A small area may be the real issue. The jobs are few and people are more apt to hire people they know through some channel over strangers from a resume :(

          I’m sorry that it’s not too helpful. I think you’re not the problem and are a great person that could do the job but it’s something outside of your control more likely! My advice is the same for everyone general,never give up and explore adjacent options if possible that’s within your desired field. Especially as a first job!

  65. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I called a person who interviewed and seemed excited about the to offer them three position. Voicemail. I left one and then emailed them the offer as well.


    Then we hired another person a few days later. He was really enthusiastic and answered his phone, immediately accepted and was going to start next day…

    No show. Phone straight to voicemail when I tried calling to see if he misunderstood the start time.

    I got to creep into the shop to tell the floor manager it was a no go. And all the other guys started asking me if the new person was here yet.

    Production hiring in the Big City is exactly like small podunk dirt farm hiring I’m now learning.

    TGIF, my friends!! I’m back on the energy drinks. Coffee isn’t enough for my darkened soul this week.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I haven’t tried any enhanced coffees! I honestly don’t like the coffee taste, I’m a “coffee with my sugar” kind of girl. I found I’m fond of cold brew with sweet cream awhile back though!

  66. Sick Chick*

    I’ve been home sick from work the past two days with chills/fever and diarrhea. (TMI I know.) I’m debating whether or not to call in sick again today. I work a night shift. I’m running out of sick leave though.

    1. Jaid*

      I feel for you, sis. Honestly, those symptoms say “stay home and hydrate” more than “go in and do crap work”.

      I hope you recover quickly.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      By going in, you’ll stretch your illness out more than if you give your body time to fight the crud with rest and clear liquids.

      Barring you being in trouble for calling in,please stay home!!

    3. Rainy*

      If you have diarrhea don’t go to work. If nothing else, you’re going to get nothing done running back and forth to the washroom, and worst case scenario you have time for work and, um, output, but are unable to hydrate and you wind up in the ER with a needle in your arm and a nice nurse shaking their finger at you.

      1. Drax*

        ^^ and if not that severe, there is not much in a work context that is more awkward than looking your boss in the eye and letting them know you need to leave the conversation to use the bathroom right NOW or you will poop right here, not out of spite but it’s happening whether you are in the bathroom or not.

        I got food poisoning from our Christmas party one year and my boss didn’t believe me and asked me to come in (she assumed it was a hangover as everyone was hungover for days, it was basically a get wasted beyond belief type event). That is one conversation neither of us can ever ever forget. Every time I see her now there’s always that moment as it both occurs to us.

  67. Not Maeby But Surely*

    Does anyone have any experience with Sync Scripts as a side hustle? I’m trying to find some ways to make extra cash that preferably can be done online from home. This is a kind of work that I know I’d be good at. Are there other (reputable) companies that do transcription services?

    1. SaaSyPaaS*

      I did some media transcription several years back for some extra income. I can’t remember what the pay was (maybe $15 – $20 per hour, depending on the project). Just note that when they give you an hourly rate, know that it’s typically per transcribed hour and not per hour of actual work. I just googled the company I did work for, and they don’t seem to be around anymore. It was interesting work, for sure.

  68. matcha123*

    Should I talk down others and complain at work to get along better with coworkers?
    Basically the main person on my team (in my section?), who is not a supervisor, but has been there the longest, complains about any work coming from outside of our department.

    I did not grow up with economic stability, and while there are jobs that I would prefer to pass on(in general, not specifically at my current office), I have done them (without complaint) because paying bills comes first. I feel like my non-complaint stance has put me at odds with this coworker and I’ve been in the dog house for a while because of it and other personality clashes.

    Along with that, in our little section if someone is talking about something on their screen or on a project, it isn’t uncommon for two or three other people to gather around them. Uninvited. I don’t ever do that because it seems so weird to me. If they wanted me to look at what they were laughing at, they’d call me over? Am I weird?

    1. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

      Ewww… i hate office gossip. I used to be that person who gossiped negatively about people because other people around me did it, but you don’t have to do it. You can change the topic to designer winter dog leashes or something more interesting.

      But in general, talking down about other people just makes one look petty. Its better to take the high road in silence or maybe can you say something nice about Jane when they decide Jane is the one to be verbally lynched at the time? Might not work..but at least you won’t be the one taking the low road.

      1. matcha123*

        I will admit that I love to hear gossip, but I also am not interested in passing it along. I try to pass along what I consider “good” gossip…things about coworkers that would hopefully make people see or think about them in a more positive light.
        With that said, I am kind of feeling like if I don’t find some way of joining in, that I will be the target of negative gossip. Which I think I already am.

    2. Asenath*

      I try to commiserate with complainers and then move on quickly. It’s a narrow path to tread, because it’s easy to get dragged down with negativity – at least for me, it is – and I don’t like to do that.

      If I see a small group chatting I join them sometimes but sometimes nod and go past. Again, I’m trying to get a balance between being friendly and not wasting time.

      1. matcha123*

        I can also go negative very quickly, and I know myself well enough to know that what I might consider a jab would probably be considered incredibly mean by others. At the moment I try to nod and look attentive, without contributing anything myself.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      First, being mean isn’t the answer. If they can’t try to be polite and treat other people with respect, that’s on them.

      Second, re the gathering around the screen – if it’s work related, follow suit. If it’s nonwork related, maybe not. But really, it sounds like overall you work with jerks.

      1. matcha123*

        It is work related, but not related specifically to anything I am ever working on. That’s what makes it hard for me. The other people gathering around are usually somewhat working on that project, since they are managers, but I don’t feel comfortable jumping up to peep someone’s screen. I guess it’s a holdover from school when we couldn’t jump up from our seats without a reason.
        I will try and force myself up next time and see what’s up…

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          if you’re not on that project at all, probably not. But if it IS your project or something, make yourself do it.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They sound miserable. Like the person we recently had leave.

      Now there’s no stormy little cloud hanging over all of us.

      They’re odd. Not you. You’ll never get along with someone miserable even if you join in, they just double down!

  69. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

    So I recently changed jobs. I keep having second thoughts until i remind myself why i moved:
    1) My day vacillated between sheer panic over some fire that broke out in teapot firing room, and boredom.
    2) Getting literally yelled at in meetings by a certain “senior manager” because things were not done according the Grand Plan of Blue Rose Teapots he kept only in his head. Basically i suggested at one point that we use azure paint instead of blue for the roses, and he went ballistic.
    3) Getting yelled at in meetings by the bubble-head who couldn’t design her way out of a box and usually blamed the system i supported (teapot reports) for all her problems.

    I named names in my exit interview. My boss usually had my back but didn’t defend me when the “senior” manager blamed me for something that wasn’t my fault. He admitted i was right, but nothing was done.

    How long does it take for the sinking feeling that i’m about to be thrown under bus to go away? I still have a moment of panic when someone i don’t know well schedules a one-off meeting with me.

    1. NewNameJustForThisBecause*

      Sympathy. I have seen a correlation between working for an abusive boss/ toxic work situation, and a difficult marriage (just my personal frame of reference here, folks). I read the description of recovery, time to heal, the jumpiness, the bizarre coping mechanisms, over politeness, careful fear… and it is a lot alike. So read up on the healing, on learning (observing, reading) what “normal” is; give yourself peace and grace; check your reactions and responses with someone who is used to dealing with normal. This site is a wonderful resource for learning what healthy is – and is not – in a workplace. I suspect the sinking feelings and “PTSD” kind of responses, may remit in correlation to the length of the severity of the situation… and your healing steps. Hug.

    2. ..Kat..*

      It can take months to years from my personal experience. Is therapy an option? If not, perhaps the latest AAM book can help you by demonstrating what “normal” really looks like.

      Good luck with the new job!

  70. ThatGirl*

    Random funny thing this week.

    We had been told a new team lead was starting Monday and we’d have a pizza lunch to welcome her.

    Around 10 a.m. Monday we found out she hadn’t started after all – HR forgot to tell someone she’d turned the offer down. We still had free pizza for lunch.

    1. WellRed*

      A few years ago we had ordered a cake for two milestone birthdays. neither birthday was in the office that day. We gathered round the cake and at it anyhow.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        We had a big meeting day this week and as there is little time to take a lunch break, a posh sandwich lunch was ordered. At the last minute, some of the external attendees couldn’t make it.

        I am now very popular with the rest of my team, who selflessly polished off all of the leftover cheese sandwiches.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Omg I’m scarred and thought you were going to say she ghosted Day 1. At least that’s just an HR Pizza Whoops, my heart can rest again lol

      1. ThatGirl*

        It was a miscommunication between HR and the hiring manager, while we were all a bit surprised, she didn’t ghost! :)

    3. FuzzFrogs*

      I was dealing with an HR whoops last week, I’m glad yours ended in pizza.

      (Mine ended in the only admission of a mistake HR has ever made. No apology, mind you, but admission of a mistake.

      …After I offered to show them the receipts of their mistake.)

  71. Où est la bibliothèque?*

    I just got the heads up for my first “coaching” session with my boss. Included in the ridiculously extensive homework, I need to come prepared with:
    1) short-term career goals
    2) long-term career goals
    3) how I can use his support and expertise to meet them!

    My real answers would be:
    1) leave
    2) have left long ago
    3) please stop making my job a misery until I can meet #1

    1. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

      The goals thing seems pretty normal to me. He’s asking how he can help you.

      Why do you feel the only way you can meet short term career goals is to ‘leave’?

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        He’s not the one who designed the coaching, though he’s been weirdly enthusiastic about it.

        We’re all seriously underpaid by industry standards, so everybody’s goal is to leave, it’s just a matter of timeline. Turnover is incredible. Boss is waiting out his tuition assistance, and then I’m sure he’ll be out the door.

        He’s nice enough, but completely willing to throw his reports under the bus to keep on C-suite’s good side. There are tangible things he could be doing to help me do my job and not hate coming to it every day, and he might make promises about them, but he’s never actually going to stick up for me, and I’m not sure I can sit through an hour of him assuring me for the umpteenth time that he’s committed to supporting me.

        1. Hmmm...*

          These are normal coaching session/quarterly evaluation questions. Is there a way you can effectively and professionally communicate your dissatisfaction during the coaching session? Maybe bring him a few statistics about industry standard pay scales? Do you have other concerns besides your pay rate?

          1. Hmmm...*

            Also, if during the coaching session he makes commitments to doing certain things to help you, write them down so you have a written record! That way if he makes an empty promise you have something to go back to and show his bosses if nothing changes.

          2. AMT*

            They’re perfectly normal coaching questions, sure, but if these coaching sessions are taking place in a toxic environment with a boss who doesn’t operate by normal managerial standards, it does strike me as a bit useless.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m going to reel you in a bit here.

      You’re hurting because nobody is enthusiastic to be given professional “coaching” unless it’s on their terms. I’m assuming this is you being on a Performance Improvement Plan?

      The reason PIPs fail steadily is the bruising to your ego.

      It sounds like its an insufferable company to work for.

      Smile and play along. Then get yourself out. It’s hard AF.

      Your boss sounds like he’s just playing the game too. He knows it’s obnoxious but it’s his job…he’ll get the same treatment if he doesn’t do this.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        Quite an assumption. Why would “long-term career goals” be on a PIP…?

        This is definitely something they’re rolling out for everyone, as part of a “we’re introducing this amazing new coaching system you’ll love it!” with a fine-print of “we’re also getting rid of performance-based bonuses.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          You seem very…on edge and confrontational. You really need to relax and get another job because this one is clearly getting to you.

          Long term goals are actually also frequently in a PIP because nobody throws them at you assuming you’ll fail.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hey, this seems out of line to me. What the OP described sounds like a normal coaching meeting, not a PIP. There’s no reason to think it’s a PIP, but more importantly, please don’t talk to people here this way when they have a different take than you do.

    3. Earthwalker*

      I so understand that! But seriously, those goal meetings usually end up with “and what will you commit to do this year to meet your career goal?” If you go in unprepared and leave it up to your boss to pick a goal and action plan you might get pushed into something you don’t like. If you want to act on your real goals, state a goal that sounds suitable for your current employer and has as an action plan some kind of training or practice that will set you up for a new job.

  72. Ann O*

    I’m 8 months pregnant and my husband just got a new job offer. I’m really nervous but trying to be supportive of whatever he decides to do. My biggest fears are around things like how much time he can take off, losing his FMLA, and how accommodating his new employer would be in those early months. Thankfully, my health insurance is through my job so no worries there. He’s already told the potential new employer that I’m pregnant. They want him to start before I’m due, but they said he could take time off when the baby is born.

    Any advice for other things he should ask for or negotiate if/before he accepts?

    1. Tableau Wizard*

      Maybe he could ask for a starting bank of PTO? I know that in our first year with babies, someone was always sick. ALWAYS. And if he doesn’t have any PTO or flexibility, those sick day callouts will likely fall to you. This can have a disparate impact on your current job, so it’s worth discussing with your husband and possibly him discussing with the new job.

      1. Ann O*

        Good idea, thanks. I’m used to PTO plans that accrue over time, which can be tough on new employees.

        1. valentine*

          Does he have to change jobs now? Can he wait until the baby’s six months old?

          Get the paternal leave in writing.

    2. 867-5309*

      He should get an email confirmation (“in writing”) of what it means to take time off – paid, unpaid, for how long.

  73. Anon Librarian Thinking about Going Home*

    So, I’m not sure how to phrase this and stay anonymous, but here goes. I left my isolated home state to attend graduate school and pursue an academic job in librarianship. I’ve been moderately successful, but jobs in my home are few and far between.

    I am now a finalist for a position in my hometown that would be split between the special collections academic work for which I am trained and public librarian work for which I have not done since shortly after college. The job would be a promotion in responsibility, but a pay cut if one considers cost of living which is very high. However, it would put me in the same town as my brother and his family for the first time in two decades and would put me much closer to my parents who are getting older. Given the states current economic climate, another job in my field might not open for a long time.

    My question is: Have people successfully (or totally unsuccessfully) transitioned from specialized academic librarianship to more general public librarianship. What did you enjoy? What did you struggle with?

    Additionally, has anyone moved home for a less than ideal job and then regretted it? Was it a good move? A poor move? I’m just trying to see if anyone has any experience in this or advice they could offer.

    1. Middle Manager*

      Not a librarian, so can’t comment on that piece. I did job hunt and then move back to my home state after several years far away. I don’t regret that, even though I loved the distant state. A very close family member got sick and died a few months after I moved back and it was such as gift to me that I got to be near them those last few months.

      I’m actually thinking about doing it again. I’m on the other end of my home state, still a few hours from my family. I recently found out I’m going to be an Aunt! I’m thinking about moving closer. There is a job open in my agency that is technically a promotion, but practically speaking, moving out of our central office would be a step back in career and probably reduce my long term promotion options substantially. Not sure if I’m going to apply. I’ll be curious to see what other people say here.

    2. Call of Dewey*

      I’ve done the opposite library wise- moved from a public library to an academic. One major difference I’ve noticed is that public libraries are much busier! You’re working with a much broader demographic, including homeless patrons, children, senior citizens, and everything in between, so you have to be a lot more versatile in the type of questions you answer and how you tailor them to each patron. I love the slower pace about my academic library, but I do miss the diversity of public libraries. It’s a lot more emotional labor, but when you work with the public, you get the chance to directly touch a lot of lives in a huge range of ways, from helping someone build a resume to picking out the book that gets a kid to love reading. So while I’m not cut out for public librarianship, it can be incredibly rewarding if you can take on the emotional labor and busy atmosphere. I’d say just make sure you can handle constant interaction with the public for an 8 hour day. Also keep in mind that your schedule may be a bit more varied- not all, but many public libraries have more night and weekend expectations of staff. Good luck!

  74. Nervous and Isolated*

    I may try to do this later with more info as a letter proper, but just because it’s bugging me again…

    Is it weird or off that my supervisor goes to lunch/on breaks with the entire rest of the department except for me? Granted, that “rest of the department” is just two people, and one of them doesn’t like me, but that’s kind of part of the problem? Even when the one who doesn’t like me was recently out for two weeks, I could still hear her go up to the other person and ask if they were ready for lunch almost every day.

    I’m never invited to lunch with them, or to go on breaks with them.

    There’s kind of a lot of extra drama, but just that one thing in particular…is it just me, or is that really weird? Because it feels incredibly hostile and isolating. Like, she knows there’s bad blood between me and the other one, and this is so very clearly choosing sides. (But even if she didn’t know, it still seems…really inappropriate for a supervisor to go to lunch/on breaks with everyone in their department except for one person?)

    It’s been going on for almost a year now, and I don’t know how to say anything, or if I even should

    1. fposte*

      If she never goes to lunch with you, then that’s not appropriate. She’s probably not going to stop going to lunch with her reports, though, so do you want to join them on lunch, or have a chance to have lunch with her yourself? Have you asked about it? Because if you want to do something, that’s the likeliest thing to do. I’d also try to keep clear in my mind the difference between “I want a chance to connect with my manager” (valid work intention) and “I want to try to break up a pattern that leaves me an outsider” (not really a work thing).

    2. Val Zephyr*

      Do you get the impression that she purposely excludes you or do you think she doesn’t realize that you want to be invited? Either way is crappy; she shouldn’t be socializing with some direct reports and not others, but if you think she just doesn’t realize you want to be invited, you could start inviting her.

    3. Hmmm...*

      Yeah that’s not cool. Has she had to mediate between the two of you and is still going to lunch with her? I would bring this up with HR. A similar situation happened at my job, basically two co-workers didn’t get along, and another co-worker got along with both of them but went on walks during lunch with one every day, so the other got jealous. Now we all have designated lunch hours that are different from each other so no gets to eat together unless we all go to lunch together. I think that’s the most fair way to do it. Plus, now we organize a monthly department lunch and rotate who picks where we go.

      1. fposte*

        That’s a workplace-dependent thing, I think. A lot of HRs aren’t going to mediate in “she likes the person who doesn’t like me,” and the response there seems unusually granular.

        1. Reba*

          I agree, that sounds like a heavy handed, grade-school “if you can’t behave we’re going to separate you” response!

          It’s definitely wrong that the manager excludes Nervous & Isolated (no wonder you chose the name) but I can’t imagine HR trying to forcibly schedule everyone’s lunches would actually improve the relationship.

      2. Nervous and Isolated*

        Unfortunately, HR has been less than helpful with me the one time I went to them (really, was sent to them) regarding the issues between myself and my coworker. (In reality, I’d just asked for an HR person to be present at a meeting my supervisor wanted to have with the two of us regarding our issues, because–I didn’t say it at the time–all the socializing with the rest of the department makes it clear that the