open thread – April 12-13, 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.

{ 1,855 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator

    Does anyone else find video chat (Skype/Hangouts) interviews to be awkward? I prefer a quick phone call, and then if you like me, bring me in in person. With video chat, I’m always worried I might be out of frame or might let out a laugh if the other side’s video freezes in a weird place but I can still hear their voices.

    1. Foreign Octopus

      I use Skype for teaching and it’s the best of a bad lot for me. I don’t like being able to see myself during a lesson because I get distracted by how I look or how if I turn my head one way, I’ve got a double chin. For an interview, I’d be hesitant to do one simply because of how distracting I find it.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder

        Ugh, yes. I am frequently distracted by my double chin or the dark circles under my eyes. We use Skype for team meetings and I’m always distracted by trying to make my expression look interested but not too interested, chin up, don’t scratch your nose in case it looks like you’re picking…I really just want to pay attention to the content!

    2. seasonal allegories

      I also find it a little weird to take notes or refer to notes while I’m trying to present myself well on video, since it’s so easy to look distracted.

      1. Lady Jay

        Seconding this. I think Skype hates me and whenever possible, I like to go with something like Zoom or Hangouts (which is merging into some other platform but it sounds like virtual connection through Gmail will still be possible.)

        1. College Career Counselor

          Thirding. I used zoom recently for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked compared to skype. Better picture, better audio, way less glitching. I will be using it for remote group interviews shortly, so I’m hoping it holds up as well there as at did for the 1:1 interaction.

    3. Annie Moose

      I think familiarity has a lot to do with it. When you haven’t used it before (or you’ve only used it a few times), there’s a lot of nervousness around proper etiquette, what to wear, how to sit or stand, what kind of lighting, audio, etc. etc. but the more you do, the more familiar these things are going to be and the easier it’s going to be to handle weird stuff like audio cutting out, video freezing, etc.

      1. SittingDuck

        I had a Zoom interview the other day – and I was trying to be super conscious of looking at the camera, and not the interviewer on my screen – because if you look at the other person, it ‘looks’ like you are looking down, to look ‘at’ the other person, you have to stare straight at your camera, typically above you screen.

        I find it really awkward, we are socialized to look at a person while they are talking, but on a video call it doesn’t work.

        What do others do, do you look at the person or at your camera?

        1. College Career Counselor

          I coach students doing video interviews to look at the camera when speaking and to look at the person when they are speaking to pick up the cues/clues.

    4. Not Today Satan

      I hate them. I recently Skype interviews and the lag before her response made her seem really dull/disinterested. I knew what caused it but it was really hard not to get a negative impression anyway. (In my defense, she DID seem disinterested in general–but the lag definitely made it worse.)

    5. manuka honey

      I kind of prefer them because I like getting feedback via body language, but that’s only the case if its a mutual video chat and not you just staring into the camera.

      1. NativeForeigner

        I prefer video over phone, if it just works. It makes easier to understand if you see the mouth and body language, particularly if it is in a foreign language like English. Some people, also native, speak an unclear English in the phone that makes difficult to follow.

    6. voodoo

      For me it’s

      Zoom > Hangouts > WebEx > Slack > Strong Phone Connection > Email > Poor Phone Connection > Smoke Signal.

      Maybe it’s because I’m a goshdarn digital native millennial, but I find video chat to be pretty painless, as long as both sides have competency with setting up the mic/headphones to not echo and have high-speed internet. I’ve certainly had awkward calls with folks who don’t fall into that category, however.

    7. She's One Crazy Diamond

      I hate them. I participate on interview panels for my job sometimes and I’m always irritated when a candidate requests a video interview for our in-person rounds (we always do a phone screening first). I understand if they live a few hours away and meeting in person is a hardship for them so I don’t hold it against their candidacy, but you definitely don’t get as much of a personal connection with someone you meet over video as you do when you meet in person. The only way I feel it would be fair is if all candidates we were interviewing were via video.

    8. Applesauced

      YES. I had a video interview last week and it was awful! (the video part, I think the interview went well). My interviewers were in a conference room, so I assume my giant head was on their screen. I did not like it and would have preferred a phone call with screen sharing.

    9. Writerboy

      They’re fine, but I prefer face-to-face. If the employer is a thousand miles away, though, I understand why at least the first contact would be via video.
      What I hate are the one-way interviews where there’s nobody on the other side and you have to record your spoken answer to written questions. I had one of those and it was utterly dehumanizing. If I ever have to do another one, I’m taking myself out of the running. If they can’t be bothered to talk to me even on the phone, then they don’t deserve me.

        1. ScaramoucheScaramouche

          I have to say on the employer side, I love HireVue because it levels the playing field in some ways on the first step: it ensures every candidate is asked the same questions in the same manner, and it’s recorded so the whole hiring committee can see for themselves how candidates answered. It has many disadvantages, but it has its perks too and when I use it it’s not because I don’t value the candidates – it’s because our HR recommends it and it often works better for the hiring team.

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

      I’ve always used audio only since the average connection here is a mega bucket of cow poo and let me tell you, I’ve had dreadful experiences with Skype. Lag, poor audio quality, bad design (good luck getting out of the search results), just to name a few. It’s not optimized for places with bad internet connections. On the other hand, Google products (Hangouts and Meet) work like a charm.

  2. Anonny

    So I have this general question I wanted to float out there.

    At my last job, I had gotten a new boss. I did not really like him. It was all these little things that just kind of put me off. Like how his tone would change when he would speak to me and the rest of us *females* who reported to him. He would joke around in meetings with other people, and in the same breath turn to us in a totally different tone when he needed to address us. He put me off, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work with him. Plus I was so burned out from this company, I knew it was time to leave anyway.
    So when the following happened, I didn’t really call it out at the time because I had a job offer not long afterwards. I ended up getting sent to a European Country with my boss. Now it is important to note here that he is British, so a lot of what follows he would explain off as (when he felt like explaining anything) as being “European” while we were in *Europe*.

    We had a driver, and he would ride in the front passenger seat every time. Never would offer it to anyone else or explain why. Not even the other people we were traveling with.

    At every meal, he pushed alcohol on me. Even beer in this country is stronger than what my mostly tea totalling self is used to. And he was pushing hard liquor. Charging it to the card which wasn’t allowed. Did it because we were in Europe.

    Forced me to sit through 2 hours of him showing me photos of all the places in the world he had been. But showed me on his i-pad, and made sure to scoot up close to me (sides touching) to do it.

    So all that is kinda eeeehhhh, but then the while we walking through a market place, he went on this hour rant about how Americans did not have decent enough undergarments for women. He began pointing out all the lingerie shops and trying to push me to go into them and bulk up my “lacking” and “boring” underwear collection.

    Like I said, I had a job offer not long after this, so I didn’t end up saying anything to kinda keep the reference. They really went out of their way to hire this fool, and the President still was in his honeymoon phase – it was a very small company. I think it was clear though by my timing that I did not like the guy though. They were upset to see me go. But again, I was leaving regardless. Burn-out was real.

    I mean we are all adults, and I am not going to sit here and make excuses for this because it is absurd – you don’t talk about your female employee’s underwear particularly when you are a man. And I know it wasn’t a “European” Thing. It boundary testing. So say I wasn’t leaving, what would you have done? What have you done when your boss started crossing the creep boundary so fully in a small company?

    1. Overeducated

      Oh man. I’d like to think I would have reported it, my employer recently introduced a formal anti-harassment policy that is supposed to address instances that don’t rise to the legal definition of harassment or hostile work environment, and your example seems like a perfect way to test it. But I also work in a very hierarchical organization and know multiple women who have left their jobs because of inappropriate supervisors who weren’t penalized for their actions (including one since this policy was introduced). So it’s hard to say how that would have worked out.

    2. esra

      I would have told him off about the underwear comments, but can offer nothing but commiseration re: the rest. I think we’ve all grit our teeth with the guy who stands/sits too close, shakes your hand too long, and pushes too hard for you to have a drink or relax.

    3. Perpetuum Mobile

      1. HR. (if doesn’t work, then)
      2. President. (if doesn’t work, then)
      3. Leave.
      3+. Potentially, a sexual harassment case if I had a shred of evidence that I would be able to present in court.

      Just reading it made me angry. Sorry you had to deal with it.

    4. Suspendersarecool

      I think leaving was the only good option. Personally, I’m kind of a loudmouth and would have said something like WTF are you doing and gotten fired, but even if you finessed pushing back, if the company wasn’t large enough to have HR (or even be subject to title VII?), it probably wouldn’t have gone well for you. I’m glad you were able to find another job.

      1. Anonny

        I’m a really big loud mouth too, but there is something about being a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and are stuck relying on this one guy. Our driver didn’t even speak English.

    5. Not Me

      What exactly does “small company” mean? Did he have a boss above him or was he the top of the line? If he had a boss I would’ve gone directly to them and told them what happened and how wrong it is. Actually, I’d still do that even though you’ve left. He’s going to continue to act like that until he’s told not to.

    6. londonedit

      Nothing to do with him being British, he was just an unspeakable arse. That kind of behaviour doesn’t fly here, either.

      1. Media Monkey

        this. The front seat thing – a lot of people don’t sit in the front in a taxi (you can’t in a black cab so although you can in a private hire car/ uber, a lot of people still don’t unless they have to to fit everyone in). So i don’t see that being especially british.

        drinking – people are definitely more relaxed about drinking in Uk but pushing alcohol on someone who is saying no is not OK here either.

        photos – he is just a boastful bore. i’m sure they come from anywhere. and he was testing your boundaries for the underwear conversation later maybe?

        Underwear – you have me on that one. no clue apart from him being a sleaze. You are well out of there!

        1. Observer

          photos – he is just a boastful bore. i’m sure they come from anywhere. and he was testing your boundaries for the underwear conversation later maybe?

          Nope! Not even testing for the underwear conversation. There are plenty of boring, self aggrandizing who don’t sit so close to their employees that they are touching.

    7. AnonEMoose

      The front passenger seat could have been a car sickness thing…I know people who get very sick riding in the back seat of a car, but do ok in the front.

      The rest of it, though…excuse me while I pry my shoulders down from around my ears. I think leaving was probably your best option, sadly. If the company had had an HR department, I might have mentioned some of these behaviors (especially the underwear thing, because…WTF?!) as part of an exit interview. Or just mentioned it to someone before leaving. But barring that, I don’t know that there was a better option.

      1. Anonny

        Well if car sickness is a reason, doesn’t that sit as pretty selfish on his part to never offer anyone else a seat in front? I can be very car sick. Every trip we took I had to take motion medication …

        1. WellRed

          Then it’s up to you to ask if you can sit in the front. Frankly, whenever I travel with higher ups, or just people that have been with the company a lot longer (but are not senior in position to me), I always seem to be in the back seat.

        2. AnonEMoose

          I guess I don’t see that as selfish…if he needs that as an accommodation, why should he offer it to someone else? Surely if someone else would benefit from sitting in front (other than simply having a preference for doing so), they should speak up?

          Anyway, no way to know if that was even the reason; it’s just one possible explanation. I could also completely believe that the guy is simply a self-centered jerk. It’s only that this particular aspect of his behavior does have a potential explanation that could make it more reasonable.

          Some of his other behavior was unquestionably way over the line of anything acceptable, though. Insisting on sitting so close their sides were touching? Ugh. The underwear thing? Ew…Ewwww…EWWWWWW!! I do not ever want my boss talking about…or preferably even thinking about…my undergarments. The only exception being if I, say, have a dire wardrobe malfunction and need to leave to deal with it. (Although with my current boss, I’m pretty sure all I’d have to say would be “Umm…wardrobe malfunction. Need to go home and take care of it…” and he’d say “See you tomorrow.”

          1. Anonny

            Why is it selfish? Haha because aside of just me in the bulk of our trips, there were others there from other companies as well. Also, we were being hosted by an entirely different company, and he would not let the CEO sit in the front of his own company’s car with his own company’s driver. That is why it is selfish. And yes, it is always selfish to assume your way into an accommodation particularly when subordinates are involved. Accommodations are discussed and not assumed. This is actually a really dumb argument that has derailed my more important question, so I am going to not engage in this life of thought anymore.

            1. Jolinar of Malkshur

              You seem to have a real cup on your shoulder about who sits where in a car. There us absolutely nothing wrong with him taking the front seat. (In many Eastern European countries I’ve been to, that seems to be expected.)

              Ditto with alcohol. He had some wine with lunch. Big whoop. In Europe. Double big whoop. And if he’s the boss, he presumably gets some leeway in deciding how corporate credit cards are used. At the very least, you should let his boss take it up with him, rather than arrogating credit card policing duties to yourself. (The letter about Bob from Accounting, self-appointed travel expense guardian, comes to mind.)

              As for putting his hand on your thigh or his lingerie obsession, that is definitely outrageous. But…way to bury the lede.

    8. Dust Bunny

      RE: Undergarments.

      What on Earth??

      I like to think I’d have turned this around on him but, honestly, no, I’d mostly just be so skeeved out that I’d run home and update my resume. And probably report it once I felt I had a safe “out”.

    9. Artemesia

      The guy sitting in the front in a cab thing is pretty typically the norm in the US too; there is the sense that it is chivalrous to sit by the help and let the ladies be driven. You know, strange guy driving — you don’t want to put a lady there. Not saying it is or isn’t the thing to do, but it is not ‘European’, it is also pretty standard in the US. It is like a guy opening a door for a woman or walking on the outside on a street.

      All the rest is sexist crap and the lingerie thing totally icky. Too bad you didn’t just say ‘you have got to be kidding me; you think it is appropriate to discuss underwear with your employees?’ but being very old and having grown up in an era where very blatant sexism was something you had to tolerate, I totally understand why you didn’t want to engage the creep in a discussion of his creepiness at the time.

      1. Anonny

        lol “chivalry” is actually sexism a lot of times – including only holding doors for women, walking a different way with women, sitting in cars with women differently. Like it’s sexist to treat women specifically different – in a “chivalrist” way. And trust me, there was no “chivalry” in this guy either.

        1. e271828

          Thinking about it, it might have been good that Creepy Boss was up in the front seat, as it meant he was leaving you alone in the back.

      2. Quickbeam

        The front passenger seat is the “death seat”. far more likely to be killed, Diana notwithstanding.

      3. Grace Less

        As a female who has worked in mostly male-dominated industries, I’m usually encouraged to sit in the front. I figure they don’t want to end up on a bench seat next to me. I’m amused, but not offended.

    10. Lora

      Leave. That’s honestly the only feasible option I’ve seen, short of poisoning their tea.

      I’m kidding. Sort of.

    11. Finance PA

      Everyone else already said this is all super sketch indeed but just wanted to add, as a Brit with coworkers from all over Europe – absolutely not a British or European thing. But you already know that!

    12. MissDisplaced

      Shotgun Seat and liquor are weird and questionable behavior. Charging the liquor is really bad if it’s out of travel policy.
      Photos on the iPad are hanky, awkward and uncomfortable, but probably not directly crossing into sexual harassment, though you would have been within your rights to say something about the invasion of personal space.
      But the think about the undergarments? Ewwwww! Very much crossing that line to sexual harassment, whether in “Europe” or not! Yikes! What a creep!

      1. Jules the 3rd

        The alcohol is grooming / boundary pushing. It’s actually right up there with the undergarments comments. Pushing alcohol is so not ok, it’s not even funny.

    13. Louise

      It won’t help (other than not being alone) I had a (great-grand so very high up the food chain) boss once talk to me and two other young-ish (early 30s) women about the bras of France and how all the women there don’t wear them and he couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful model like women with no bras on.

      That was an unpleasant convo. Also, my suspicion was that he was testing us, to see if anyone liked the convo, so he could push more boundaries later.

      One of the women in the convo was my actual boss who got up and left us there to deal with the conversation. So I initially refused to go to HR (even though she did? But she abandoned us there?) So I found a new job, post haste. But then I did tell HR about it in my exit interview but there were a lot of politics going on there at the time so nothing was done and that HR person left too. But the guy def still works there.

      1. Earthwalker

        While I can think up a dozen great things to do about this situation, you’ve just explained why, in reality, I wouldn’t have done any of them. I would have sought out another job and left with no explanation. I would count on the company to do nothing positive, and possibly something detrimental to me, for speaking up. It’s not fair for a woman to be harassed and then to have her career damaged by a label of “Problem Employee” or “Feminist Whiner,” but when you speak up you take that risk. It’s probably cowardly, but I would have left quietly and cut my losses. Let the company figure out the problem from the frequent turnover and perhaps to address it because turnover costs. (This really can happen. My favorite condescending knee-patter was indeed let go for having 4x the turnover of his peers.)

    14. afiendishthingy

      It doesn’t sound like you really had much of any recourse. It doesn’t sound like a company that had HR. You could have gone to his boss and said “hey deal with this because I know you care about keeping Teapots R Us a safe workplace for women.” Then if they didn’t do anything you could a) tell the EEOC or b) light them up on social media (this would be my preference). But really, leaving was your best move. I would still do my best to trash his reputation though

    15. designbot

      I think I would’ve said something precisely *because* you knew you were leaving. The people who remain would take a much bigger risk to try and call out his behavior, but you would be able to walk away from any fallout.
      I would’ve said something the first time he started talking underwear like, “My underwear’s none of your business.” and then gone to HR first thing when we got back. Each of his things isn’t super egregious, but the sum total is very clear.

    16. Rosaline Montague

      This is all classic grooming behavior. Predators test their targets to see how they will respond and if they will accept boundary crossing, all with a veneer of plausible deniability. Chances are this is a very long-standing pattern and you aren’t the first and won’t be the last to experience these tactics. It doesn’t sound like you have much recourse but if you do know other women who are new to the company you could give them a heads up that Boss does not have great boundaries.

    17. Luna

      I would tell the boss that my undergarments are none of his business, period. Doesn’t matter if you are staying at the job or leaving. The words ‘sexual harassment’ come to mind. Same with demanding I drink alcohol – I generally don’t drink, so I would refuse anything, and not sit too close. I don’t do well with being too close to people, and forcing yourself into my personal space is a good way to make me detest you and want to shove you away, if words don’t work.
      And I am a German, so I am just as ‘European’ as he claims to be.

  3. Sunflower

    How do I talk to my new boss at my new job about needing some schedule flexibility early on? I started my job on Monday this week.

    I accepted a new job a month ago. The next day, I found out my father had a serious health situation come up that could be easily corrected. Last week, I found out that it’s more complex than they originally thought and I am expecting to need to travel between my parents and my city more often in the near future than I anticipated. I live in a city about 2 hours from my parents- they are both major cities and my company has a smaller office there. During interviews, the recruiter said we do WFH once a week so while I haven’t discussed the exact WFH situation with my boss, I know it’s something the company is open to (FWIW I’m not entry-level).

    How do I approach this with my boss? I’m not so much worried about down the line but I’m only a week into my new job and anticipate needing at least 3 days in the next 3 months to go home. I’ve never needed flexibility so soon and am nervous I will come off as a flaky hire. I will need some flexibility to make this work but I’m totally open to doing whatever needs to be done to make this work. Any suggestions?

    1. canary

      Be up-front about the situation and that you’re aware that it’s an awkward time being so early in your position. Say what you said in the second-to-last sentence of your post. And then be a rockstar in the rest of your work so they can see that you’re not flaky. Life happens at often inconvenient times, and I hope your new office is understanding about that!

    2. Not Me

      I’m sorry your dad is having health issues, I hope he’s feeling better sooner than later.

      Do you feel comfortable enough with your boss to share what you’ve shared here? I think most people would be understanding and the way you’ve laid it out here seems pretty reasonable. Three days over the next three months doesn’t seem like something a boss would find out of line considering the situation.

    3. BenAdminGeek

      I think a quick meeting face-t0-face as soon as possible is best. Otherwise you run the risk of having to be out of town due to your father and having the conversation awkwardly then. I’d explain the situation clearly, allowing him to understand that it’s unexpected but also time-limited- it won’t be 5 years of you doing this.

      Assuming your new boss isn’t an ass, you being clear that you understand the optics and will work to ensure you’re still performing at a high level should go a long way. Not being entry-level also helps.

    4. Seal

      Six weeks before starting my new job, I had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. Recovery from such surgery involves regular visits to physical therapy and the orthopedic specialist, In fact, I didn’t get the sling until just before I started my new job and couldn’t do much with that arm beyond using the computer for several more months. Since I had already been hired, I told my soon-to-be new boss before I started that I was having surgery and that while there would be an extensive recovery period I did not expect it to affect my start date or my job performance. I was able to flex my time to accommodate my PT and doctor’s appointments and ultimately made a full recovery. But I also made a point of keeping my boss informed and being very conscientious about making up my time out of the office. As the OP points out, I was totally open to doing whatever needed to be done to make it work and in the end it did – that was the key.

    5. SinSA

      I learned literally the night before I started the job I am with currently that my father had terminal cancer. So I had to lead with that on my very first day! Everyone was incredibly understanding that I would have to take some long weekends to go and see him and they were absolutely wonderful the whole time.

    6. Psyche

      Three days really isn’t that much. I would just explain the situation and ask for the days off (offering to take them unpaid if there is no PTO yet). It isn’t really even asking for schedule flexibility, just a few days off for a family emergency.

    7. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

      I think you should speak to your new boss sooner rather than later. Tell him just what you’ve said here. You should also say that you are happy to take the time off without pay (if your company would require PTO to be accrued, because you won’t have accrued any yet). I also wonder, if your company is open to WFH, might they also be open to your working from their other office from time to time? That way perhaps you wouldn’t have to travel back and forth so much when visiting your father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your dad.

    8. Dasein9

      Add my voice to those recommending you speak to your boss sooner rather than later. As I tell students: the earlier I know something is going on, the more help I can offer. The same is probably true of your boss; this is the sort of thing people tend to want to help with.

      1. Clementine

        I saw a posting on LinkedIn from someone who was allowed zero bereavement leave because he was in his first 90 days, and an immediate family member had died. So he was fired. I hope it goes well, but it doesn’t always.

  4. Violent Femme

    Any successful mid-career changers out there? I need some words of encouragement as it’s been pretty daunting trying to make the transition. I’ve been working in my profession for over 10 years and I’m literally upending the apple cart and am having trouble staying motivated, despite getting my degree. I worry I’m being too specific about where I will go, since my current situation is not terrible — despite the fact that I don’t really enjoy what I do.

    1. CMart

      What’s your motivation for transitioning?

      I sort of did a “career change”, in that 10 years after getting my BA and trying/failing to get into my preferred industry (thanks, 2008 graduation!) I got a master’s and became an accountant. My “previous life” was in communications/really just bartending because I needed to make money.

      So it was a great unknown – totally different to what I’d been doing – which was kind of scary. But I focused on the reasons I decided to shake things up. I wanted a regular schedule, to not work on my feet. I wanted healthcare, a higher salary and advancement opportunities. I never really wanted to worry about job security. So even though I was a little unsure about the content/nature of my actual work I was VERY sure about the quality of life change.

        1. CMart

          I did! I’m 2 years into my corporate accounting gig :)

          The work is interesting enough but nothing I’m passionate about – but that’s perfectly okay with me. I don’t need to be saving the world or feeling invigorated. I found a company that ticked nearly all of my checkboxes for what I wanted out of “a job”. Friendly colleagues, helpful management, above-average salary, decent benefits, predictable but flexible hours, close to home. Plus a bunch of other things I didn’t know I wanted (lots of windows, unlimited sick time, ability to WFH if needed, dedication to mentoring, a culture of moving groups/roles every few years to avoid stagnation and promote cross-functionality etc…)

          I’m really happy I took the risk of shelling out $$$ on another degree and feel very fortunate I was able to a) pay for it and b) complete it. I miss bartending and would probably go back to it if I won the lottery, but my quality of life is so much improved.

          1. ArtsNerd

            As someone who has only ever worked in nonprofit ‘passion’ jobs, I just want to reiterate that it is not the path for everyone and that is a good thing. (For one thing, the NGO sector and creative industries aren’t exactly aching for lack of qualified labor…)

            On the quality-of-life side, there is SO MUCH value in leaving your job at the door, having solid financial footing, and an enriching personal life with hobbies completely unrelated to your job. (I have… one of those and that’s unusual in itself.) The world needs accountants! It needs supply-chain experts and insurance adjusters and retail staff and B2B enterprise software! Any time someone tells me they feel that they ‘should’ be doing ‘more’ with their day jobs, I try to convince them otherwise.

    2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"

      Hello – I changed careers myself, and I love to talk to people about it because I think it can be a great way to revitalize yourself and your work life when you are feeling unmotivated and uninterested in the path you have in front of you.

      I advise you to think broadly about the skills you have . Don’t think about the industry you’re working in, but think about what you know how to do. More than that, think about what you like to do. What do you enjoy doing in your job? What kind of jobs are out there that might let you do more of that? That’s how I went from practicing patent law to technical writing. I realized that my favorite parts of the patent law job *were* technical writing, and if I found a technical writing job I could spend more of my time doing that.

      And that brings me to the other advice – when you apply, use your cover letter to make the connection between the skills you developed in your old industry and the work you are trying to break into. You can’t expect hiring managers and recruiters to make that connection for you. If I had applied for my tech writing job with just a resume, the recruiter would probably have thought I had clicked the wrong button and would have forwarded my resume to the legal department! And I knew that whoever saw this resume would be unlikely to even know what a patent lawyer does all day. So I wrote a letter that explained why patent law practice is technical writing, why I loved that part of the job, and why I was looking for opportunities to do more of it.

      That’s what I’ve got for you! Good luck.

      1. SomeoneElse

        That’s great advice. What I liked about advertising was the data (I didn’t do much mass, mostly targeted, data-heavy stuff). Financial data is similar but way better because I don’t have to manage 2 sets of politics and I get to analyse the heck out of trends and all that fun stuff.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        I agree with everything you said here, and I asked myself those same questions almost a year and a half ago when I switched careers from financial services (on the law and insurance sides) to proposal management. I love, and am good at, writing, so I knew I needed to find a job where I was doing more of that and less external customer service work. Even though I’m bored to tears in my current role, I understand it’s the nature of my current company, my manager, my assignments, and my industry as opposed to me having made a mistake. I’m about to switch industries as a proposal writer, and I think that’ll make all the difference in the world when I’m dealing with technology full time – I’ll actually have to use my brain again!

    3. SomeoneElse

      I was an account manager in adverting firms for about 6 years before going back to school and becoming an accountant. I’ve never regretted it. I took a HUGE pay cut to do it but it was worth it (I do NOT work in public accounting – don’t need or want those kinds of hours, proved I could do it in advertising and no thank you, I’m done.) I’ve been an accountant for about 8 years.

      1. Violent Femme

        This is sort of my situation. I’ve worked in communications for 10 years. Recently got my masters in librarianing. Will have to take a pay cut. I accept that. But, I’m worried that I’m being too picky about what librarianing I will do. I just don’t want to end up in an area I’m not interested in — which is basically how I ended up in my current career. (English major that wound up in Marketing because I needed a job after school and kept doing well enough to get promoted even though I didn’t enjoy the work)

        1. Maria the Medical Librarian

          Library jobs are hard to find. Twenty-five years after getting my MLS in the hopes of landing in a public library, I’ve never worked in a public library. I would try to be as open as possible about the kind of library job and, if you can move, the location in order to improve your chances at getting hired.

        2. aunt bop

          I worked in HR for ten years, then became a librarian. It’s the best thing I ever did for my career (and overall life satisfaction) but I was fortunate that my partner at the time was able to support both of us while I took a 50% cut in pay at one point.

          Have you looked into special libraries?

        3. Violent Femme

          Thank you both! I work in a large city that has library options, but I actually want to move to a smaller city closer to family. (I’m not only done with my career, but “The City”.) And I’d prefer to get a position that supports research in a subject or area that I’m interested in — whether that’s a public, academic, or special library, I’m pretty open. This is where I’m concerned I’m being too picky. That if I don’t just stick my foot in any door than I won’t have a door to walk through. But, if I pick the wrong door, I’ll be trapped by it later.

          Either way I know that a significant pay cut is in my future. I’ve had to budget in the past, so I’m less concerned about that.

          1. aunt bop

            This is just my experience but I started out my library career in pharma and thought I would be trapped in it. I went that route because I was in HR in pharma companies, even though I grew to dislike the industry. But I’ve left pharma and now work in advertising so you may not be trapped. I am in a very large city though. Get involved in ALA or SLA or MLA and make connections!

          2. Library Land

            I wondered if you were planning to switch to the library world, since it’s one area that actually supports mid-career switches. If you’re wanting to support research you should avoid public libraries (and school libraries but that’s mostly about them disappearing). Academics, specials, or medical would be suited to that. I’m not sure what classes you took or if you did any internships but looking at what you enjoyed and what you excelled at would lead you to where you want to go.

            I will say that the library world is large but feels incredibly small. There are a bunch of low-lying fruits and the nice paying/good benefits jobs are very competitive. If you didn’t do any internships while in school (or are not working in a library now), you’re going to have to find jobs where your past will be a huge benefit. Outside experience can be a huge plus in academic libraries.

            No matter where you land, you can always switch positions/libraries later. It may be hard, might take a little longer, but it happens often. Also, as a final note, there are people who paint getting an MLIS as a direct ticket to getting a job. That’s not really the case. Trying to find a position that blends what you’ve been doing with where you want to go is what will get you a job sooner rather than later – though you can’t ignore this field is a very talented one. Many times you will think you’re perfect for a job and be rejected for someone who has way more qualifications than you can imagine (ask me how I know, lol). So keep your head up and keep applying!

          3. Oxford Comma

            Here’s my two cents. I’ve always been an academic librarian, but I have friends in lots of different types of libraries some of whom have moved around a bit. It seems to be easier to get a job in a public library after having been an academic one rather than the other way round. Having said that, you probably have more fluidity of movement in the first two years of your post-MLS career.

            If you want more money, your best option is probably special or corporate. For stability, I’d say academic.

            I second what Aunt Bop says below about getting involved with some of the associations or at least checking out any career services they offer (help with resumes, job fairs at conferences, etc.). Since you mention you want to move to a smaller city, I would definitely check out the regional chapters for whatever type of library you want to land in. For instance, an ACRL chapter, SLA chapter, MLA chapter.

        4. Teapot Librarian

          I don’t have any wisdom to share because I was just exceedingly lucky in my career switch, but wanted to jump in with my own data point of working in one field for 10 years and then getting my MLS!

    4. JobHunter

      Following because I am in the same boat as you, VF. I can only offer commiseration and encouragement!

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      I love career changers. They bring a new perspective to the next job that they do, and they are more likely to want to learn new things and take risks.

      The biggest challenge is to understand what skills/knowledge/experience the new job is actually asking for, and then to describe how you have those things in context. You can do that in your resume, and in informational interviews/conversations that you’ll have with people in the new field.

      I have never done the same job twice (except for survival retail). It takes more effort to search out the new jobs, but it’s an awful lot of fun!

      If you’re in the US and want someone to bounce ideas off of, look for your Dept of Labor Career Center for free assistance in job search and career development.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame

      Do it! I did, and it’s something I’m really proud of. The hardest parts were all in the beginning- getting started, asking for help, building up new skills and a network- but it turned out that at 33 I already had those basic skills down (like, you know how you best learn, you understand professional behaviour, you can manage your time) so picking up the specifics of the job wasn’t nearly as tough as it would’ve been 10 years earlier. Six years later I’ve grown far more rapidly than I ever did in previous lines if work, just through self knowledge and motivation.

    7. Beth

      I made a truly massive career change at 40ish, and it went incredibly well, but my experience may not be much help.

      My first career was in the arts, in an unglamourous support role — it was what I wanted to do and I loved the work, but the pay was really horrible, and the work environment ran on the credo, “If you work here, it’s because you loooove the arts so much that you can’t be happy anywhere else, so you’ll take crappy pay, crappy benefits, and crappy treatment, and just smile and say thank you. You would NEVER be happy working in an office!”

      I decided that was BS, and that while I might not find office work to be as near to my heart as the arts, it would almost certainly pay better. I went back to school, first part-time and then full-time, and studied business and computers. I turned out to be really good at computers. I acquired a wide swath of new skills, worked at several places that weren’t great but were at least no worse than my last arts employer, and have been at my current REALLY AMAZING AND WONDERFUL company for almost a decade. I will be here till I retire. And I will be able to retire!!

      Key things here:
      1. Expectations — I didn’t think I would find a True Calling; I had already done that. I wanted a decent income and the satisfaction of doing a job well.
      2. Flexibility — I didn’t have my eye on any given career or field. I ended up where I am largely through luck of the draw: when I was job-hunting after getting my computer and business skills up to par, I applied at a huge range of different places. I worked my butt off at the one where I got my foot in the door, and it paid off.
      3. Luck — it wasn’t easy parlaying my fine arts degree into an office job, and I had to get creative in how I presented my skills and strengths. I found an employer who decided to take a chance, and I made damned sure his gamble paid off.

      So, in my case, I landed well largely because I had a really wide field of options of where I might go and what I might do. I would say that the narrower your target area for your new career is, the harder you will need to work to make yourself really desirable to employers in that field, and the harder you will have to work to make the move.

      But it can be really, really, really lovely, especially as you get older, to find yourself in a really good work environment, and it’s really lovely to be well-paid for work you enjoy. If I were Queen of the Universe, everyone would be in this position.

    8. Double A

      I’m in a situation where I’m considering a career change because my job is being eliminated and that job I’m being transferred to is a non-starter for me, so basically I’m losing my job. I’m a teacher. I also have a 6 month old baby. So I’m looking at possible career change NOT due to my choice, and doing it with a young baby. My circumstances are really not ideal for making an informed, careful choice.

      Does anyone have any insight about changing careers under duress? I don’t have any extra time or energy outside of — at best — a 40 hour work week. I’m thinking of just taking a pay cut and maybe having no benefits (they’re not an option through my husband’s job) and just subbing for awhile so I don’t have to make a decision while I’m in one of most vulnerable moments in my life?

      1. JobHunter

        I did, and it was the most positive personal change I could have made. I was fortunate that my network had my back. I took a survival job while following the advice of two very wise people: 1) reflect on what I enjoyed most and 2) be open to new or unusual possibilities. I now have a broad range of knowledge–I was able to use my prior work experience in my new field–and could reasonably go in one of several directions. My search isn’t going as easily as I had hoped, but I suppose that is to be expected.

  5. Anon anony

    Whenever I request time off, my boss approves it, but will then sort of guilt trip me about it. She’ll assign a project to me, and then add how she approved my time off. (We receive an automated message when time off has been approved.) I don’t know why she does this, but if I have the time available, why does it matter?

    The stuff that I’m working on is not time sensitive, so it never interferes with my request for time off. (I’m not gone that often. The last time that I took off was in December when I was sick and I gave a Dr’s note.)

    Plus, she’ll tell my coworker that if she’s only gone for an hour or two, she can “make up” the time, but I was never given that option.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Your boss is a stinker. That’s not entirely uncommon reaction from some bosses, they think that approving leave [despite you having the time banked] as a favor, not as a benefit that you’re accessing. It’s obnoxious and I’m sorry you get that treatment.

    2. Dust Bunny

      Your boss is a jerk.

      How far is she likely to take this? Because I would be tempted to ask her point-blank why she makes such a point of rubbing your nose in it since it apparently doesn’t affect your output. If she’s likely to escalate, though, better to accept that she’s got issues and interact with her only when you have to.

    3. by no means good at advice

      Next time you need an hour or two off (doc’s appointment or something) why not try directly asking if you can “make up” the time before even putting in a formal request. Something like “I heard Debbie was able to make up the time she’d be missing for a doctor appointment. Would it be alright if I worked late a few nights this week to cover for the time I’ll miss to get to my appointment?”

      As far as the projects for time off… I’m a bit more stymied for a response. If the project assignment looks like every other assignment other than the tacking on of the “I approved the request” message, I’d say just ignore it. Maybe your boss put those automated responses into a filter for “mark as read” ages ago and forgot you get direct approval. If there is clear indication though that this is a “here is a project because I gave you time off” situation… I don’t know. Maybe find a random time to frame it as a “explain your thought process as a leader on why you’d give someone going on PTO a project instead of letting them get ahead on their work before they go instead?”

      1. Sunflower

        Everywhere I have worked as a salaried employee, they only allowed you to take time off in full or half day increments so it was implied that if you had to miss a few hours, you would make it up somewhere down the line and you didn’t need to take PTO. I would definitely ask your boss- he might think you’re taking the time as PTO because you want to, not because you think you have to.

    4. It's Pronounced Bruce

      She’s a butt. No two ways about it.

      She doesn’t like you taking time off, and she’s decided the best way to handle that is to passive aggressively pressure you about it. You might feel the inclination to try to show how extra responsible you are, provide extra documentation about why the time off is necessary, give extra information. Don’t do it, there’s no point and it only opens you up to more scrutiny.

    5. Triplestep

      My last boss was this kind of petty score-keeper, and since she sucked in so many other ways, I’m guessing yours does too. Keep your eyes open for things like her being overly-hierarchical, micro-managing, or (like a the direct report of a LW this week) wants to be praised for her great managing. These are things that often go hand in hand. If any of this sounds familiar, you have a boss that sucks and is not going to change. Start to develop and exit strategy.

  6. Danielle

    I’m a new college instructor, teaching mostly juniors and seniors, and I’d love to hear what you wish new grads were learning right before entering the workforce – about work habits, norms, applying for jobs, soft skills, hard skills, writing/communication, anything. My field is environmental science, but I have students going into government, education, factory work, consulting, business, etc. so a broad range of responses welcome. I currently focus on improving their written communication skills (mostly technical writing) and ability to take feedback from peers by having them evaluate each other’s work frequently, but I’m open to new ideas!

    1. Overeducated

      One thing I learned, and have had to teach interns, is to brief up and share work in progress more than you have to in school. That’s because your boss has responsibility for what you’re working on, unlike in school when it’s 100% on you, and needs to know how it’s going, offer feedback on drafts and progress, and keep their own leadership updated if necessary. It’s actually not always good to just work feverishly on your own until you can unveil a finished product. When and how much you have to do this varies by workplace so I’d alert them that this is something they should ask about when they start.

      1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

        Overeducated, this is an excellent answer and I’m not sure I would have thought of it. To add to that, I would say keep track of your process while doing your work. That way if at any point anyone questions your results you can go back and figure out how you got there and whether you made an error or failed to consider something that would have impacted your results. I think that scientists do this; others, I’m not so sure.

      2. It's Pronounced Bruce

        This is both a great answer and one that I’ve never heard suggested before.

      3. Anonthistime

        Omg I learned this the hard way when I first started my current job (I only started working 3 years ago so this is a lesson I recently learned. It was flagged as a performance issue by my manager. In hindsight I understand why, but I didn’t know at the time I was doing anything wrong because I was coming up with really good reports so what did it matter? It turned out I was making my directors very anxious and annoyed. I now provide very thorough updates to my directors on an almost daily basis.

      4. helena18282

        For me, learn to walk really well before you run. I’ve worked with juniors who seem to think the basics are beneath them and announce they’re ready to move onto the ‘bigger’ tasks while still making simple mistakes, not proof reading etc. Do your work really well, on-time, and i’ll move you onto more advanced stuff when you’re ready… Oh and use spellcheck.

      5. KatK

        Oh, this is such a good one and I wish someone could’ve told me this last year when I graduated. I was very guilty of this, between coming from college where your process is all you and other people (e.g., professors) only really care about the final project and being anxious about not-totally-clear deadlines (partly my manager’s fault, but I should’ve asked for clarification). Took six months of chafing under what felt like micromanagement before I realized.

    2. >:(

      How to use emails and other means of communication. Depending on where they’re going, some companies might prefer traditional emails or slack or discord or what have you.

      Also, direct them to this website!

    3. LadyByTheLake

      They are responsible for their own work. I am amazed that some college graduates have gotten used to tutors, parents etc reviewing and correcting their work and then they get into the work force and don’t understand that THEY are the ones who are supposed to be presenting polished, final work.

      1. It's Pronounced Bruce

        Woof, this is something that’s really getting to me lately. It’s not the students’ fault so much, though, it’s the expectations they get from their schools that their work will be bigger and grander than what would be produced by only themselves. This kind of thing has only gotten worse in the 10, 15 odd years since I was in school, but it was already starting when I was younger. Schools often give things out now with the expectation that parents will largely complete them and the kids will just be along to watch, it’s wild. A lot of expectations also include the assumption that students will spend time every week in outside tutoring. It means kids that don’t (or can’t) get that kind of help are at a disadvantage, too, so no amount of wanting to do it for yourself is going to work. You’d be screwing yourself by trying.

        It’s definitely leaked into the workplace, too. In my early-mid 20’s I got a lot of sass from coworkers and management for needing schedule flexibility around life events because “an adult” should just be taking care of things for me. There was sort of this scoffing attitude that anything I needed to deal with was just a wiggly excuse I had made up and surely, mom and dad could just handle this instead… Even the time one of those parents was going through cancer treatment and was seriously ill. So once again, you’re on this playing field where when you are actually trying to be the one responsible for what you should be responsible for, it actually harms your perception and reputation.

      2. Overeducated

        This is so funny because it’s the opposite of what I posted above. It sounds like things have changed a lot since I was in school, and the interns I work with are mostly mid-20s and sometimes graduate level, so they haven’t really internalized this either. A little nervous about what to expect as a parent now….

        1. It's Pronounced Bruce

          I think both things are actually simultaneously true, and they feed into each other. The idea is that you don’t talk to your teacher/professor/manager or give status updates or ask too many questions, you take all that back to your external supports in the form of your parents or tutors or whathaveyou and get them to help you make it happen.

          I had college professors who straight up said they didn’t answer questions and told you to hire a tutor if you ever had a question about the material, for example. Going from that environment to one where you’re expected to communicate openly with the people giving you work is a hell of a transition.

          1. Overeducated

            Wow. I’m sorry you had the worst professor! That’s literally their job! But that’s an interesting dynamic you’re describing.

    4. Lucette Kensack

      Writing! Lots and lots of writing. Varied writing, for varied audiences (people with similar levels of expertise to you, people with basic understanding of your topic, people with no understanding of your topic).

    5. HR Recruiter

      Good resume writing and interview skills (not the crap advice they normally get). How to use Outlook and calendar. I wish schools taught employees what their rights are. More employers are doing this now because of the me too movement. But I remember being just out of school and having something inappropriate happen and having no idea what I was supposed to do because I had never received training. Then on the flip side you have new employees who anytime their boss tells them what do to do they call it a hostile work environment and think HR is going to jump into action. Nope your boss is supposed to tell you what to do.

    6. Parenthetically

      +1 to Overeducated’s comment about checking in as an important professional norm!

      My hobby horse is file naming and organization — just about teacher or prof can attest to the fact that they get an inbox full of “essay.doc” or “finalproject.doc” at the end of term. It’s such an easy thing to set up a nested file system and a couple naming conventions and it’ll do nothing but make your life easier for school or work.

      1. Hamburke

        Ooh! This is so true! The last parent teacher conference I had with one of my kids teachers, they commented on my kids’ file naming – projectname_kidname

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady

      I wish more colleges showed students the jobs that they’re actually preparing themselves for. Career planning should start with freshman year, as far as I’m concerned.

      As a former college writing tutor, we loved it when professors strongly recommended (or required) students to bring their papers to us for feedback.
      As a current employment counselor, I would love it if a professor strongly recommended a trip to the career center … or at least took a bit of class time to relate the learning to specific jobs/job tasks that an individual might use the information for.
      As a former college student … I distinctly remember a short reading in my Anthropology 101 class that described how an Anthropology major who was working in a warehouse used their understanding of how people think and interact with their environment to develop different processes in the warehouse to reduce shrinkage and errors. It’s been 36 years since I took that class and read that short assignment, but I learned a lot about the world in those few pages.

      1. ursula

        Yeah, I agree with this. I think young people tend to choose their field of study largely based on what topics interest them (and where their competencies align in school), without much attention to what kind of job conditions they can expect – not just in terms of job market, earning power, etc, but also in terms of desk job vs field work, collaboration vs solo work, strict hierarchies w clear roles vs flatter or less formal structures, straight 9-5 vs shiftwork or self-defined hours, etc. That stuff matters so much!! And I know young people won’t necessarily know what they want on a lot of those axes until they try a few jobs and feel it out, but I wish we talked more about how to identify work environments that will be good for you, over and above just “a job more or less in my field.” I also thoroughly agree with introducing some reliable sources of ongoing advice, like AAM (and, I would have said previously, The Billfold (RIP)).

        1. Lora

          This +1. Also I would add, what the job looks like entry level vs what it looks like later career. I know a great many early career STEM folks who adored doing lab work and field work and then later in their careers when the job is really all about grant writing/CAPEX justifications/soft skills working with non-STEM executives, became frustrated and miserable.

        2. Lynn Whitehat

          OMG, yes! School life is pretty much school life, regardless of major. But different careers have very different lifestyles. Nurses often work 3 12-hour shifts a week and are expected to work holidays. Petroleum engineers often go out in the (oil) field, which tends to be a very remote location. Tax preparation is basically every waking moment the few weeks before April 15th, and very chill most of the year. Software developers will always have to devote some time to learning about new things in the field. And so on.

          Those might be good or bad things. But they lead to different lifestyles. And that’s before you even get into things like “do you deal with the public, clients, or just co-workers?” Or “how much standing is there?” It’s a huge waste for someone to get, say, a BSN, and THEN realize they can’t tolerate 12-hour shifts on their feet.

        3. Leslie Knope’s Long-Lost Twin

          I totally agree. I majored in genetics because 1) I really liked biology and other life sciences in school and thought genetics was fascinating and 2) it was the 90s and there was a lot of pressure for girls who were good at math&science to go into math&science.

          In college, I learned that I really didn’t like and wasn’t great at doing the type of lab work that makes up most advanced science classes and entry level science jobs. Despite being a “disgrace to the gender” in the words of one friend, I switched my major to political science, went to law school, practiced law for a decade, and now oversee a small program for the state government. Which I absoforkinglutely LOVE! I love the subject matter. I love policy. I love writing and analyzing regulations. I love meetings with people with diverse opinions who all care about these issues.

    8. Plain Jane

      The professional world isn’t nearly as black and white as school or service types of jobs where people will tell you what you can and can’t do, like put your phone away. In the professional world, people might not tell you to put your phone away, but they might think you’re distracted or not getting your work done if they see it a lot.

    9. Anon for Now

      All the things you described are good.

      I’d add, taking notes during meetings/conversations, and then taking time to really listen to what others have to say.

      And, then I would really emphasize that school experience is not equal to work experience. Even internship experience is not equal to work experience.

      1. Queen of the File

        I agree. Being an A+ student does not mean you’re going to arrive at work already awesome at your job (and that’s ok!)

    10. Policy Wonk

      Writing, particularly writing brief, to the point summaries. I often have to spend time teaching new hires that when I say I want three brief points, I want three brief points, not a three page paper. And they need to put the bottom line up front, not in the conclusion. Many senior people will not have time to read a whole paper or report, and need the issues/recommendations to be easily accessible.

      1. Midwest writer

        I love your point about putting the bottom line up front. It’s amazing how many people I see come out of college with a journalism/communications background who STILL don’t do this in news article writing.

      2. Joy

        Haha I was going to say something very, very similar, and then I saw your comment and name. As a policy wonk myself, coming from a scientific background, it took a while to learn that senior management does NOT need or want me to “show my work” they just want to know the conclusion. That was very opposite all schooling!

    11. Teapot Painter

      I second directing them to this site.

      Also, explain what are reasonable employee expectations vs. unreasonable employee expectations. Example: using sick leave for a doctor’s appointment is pretty common, kinda annoying, but not egregious. Expecting a doctor’s note for a doctor’s appointment: abnormal and a sign that the employer is not treating their employees as responsible adults. Show them the signs of a toxic workplace so they can spot them in interviews if possible. If I had known things like that I wouldn’t have taken my first job out of college!

    12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      How to draft appropriate emails, as well as taking responsibility for their learning.

      For item #1, it would be really helpful if students realized sooner than later that there are different levels of formality in email drafting. Grammar, punctuation, complete and logical sentences, etc., are a plus when communicating with your instructor. Essentially, don’t treat your email like a text message when writing to someone in a professional or supervisorial setting. (But at the same time, don’t go overboard with formality. This can be a tough needle to thread if you’re only used to emailing your friends and parents.)

      On item #2, I’m shocked by the number of current students who will fail to show up for classes or turn in their assignments, and then they try to argue or negotiate passing a class (usually after being given multiple notices and opportunities to correct). I’m also low-key shocked by the number who have their bulldozing parents call me to contest their grades.

      1. Quiltrrrr

        I’m always surprised that adults have parents call about grades. I have a 6th grader and an 8th grader, and I don’t even contest THEIR grades! They have a problem with the teacher, they need to deal with it! I won’t even consider getting involved until I know they’ve talked to their teachers first.

      2. Queen of the File

        We’ve had a couple of students carry habits from #2 into their jobs as well. People think it should be obvious but we’ve had more than one student not understand that attendance was mandatory at work other than with a legitimate, serious reason and a call in.

      3. Alianora

        I’m kind of confused — I thought you were a lawyer for your university, why would parents call you to contest grades?

    13. Ashley

      I always seem to have issues with people not knowing when you should pick up the phone and have a conversation instead of super long email chains. In my field texting is quite acceptable but there are people that don’t always realize when to text vs call vs email. It is nuanced but not picking up on norms makes you stand out as inexperienced.

    14. MuseumChick

      So many things! How to write a cover letter. No one ever taught me and I was completely lost (and terrible) at writing them until I found this site. What “professionalism” means, especially for people right out of school this can be a slippery and difficult concept to grasp. For example, the letter here about the intern who was refusing to do her job because of her politics. Another example, we hired a recent college grad at several months ago. At his first pay check he came in and said (verbatim) “My mom says you didn’t pay me correctly.”

      Another thing, that you will have to talk on the phone.

      1. Hillary

        +1 to talking on the phone. I’ve taught more than one intern how to dial long distance, and I’ve worked with more than a few new grads who struggle a lot with the phone in general. I understand norms are changing, but in many industries phone is still the default. The junior person has to adapt their communication to norms and leaders’ preferences, even if it’s outside their comfort zone.

        The other piece is managing expectations. You’re probably not going to be doing business-changing strategic work off the bat. We’ve lost a couple 20-somethings who were disappointed they didn’t get a manager job when the manager job needed 10+ years of experience plus professional certs they didn’t have.

        1. Scandinavian in Scandinavia

          Re: expectations, understanding that the purpose of your job is to get work done. I see grads who think that the purpose of the workplace is to develop them and get them ready for the jobs that they would like next. They seem not to understand the needs of the workplace, being all focused on their own desires.

      2. Text Only

        I firmly believe the day is coming when audible phone conversations will be obsolete. And I can’t wait for it.

    15. Sunflower

      In general, having them understand that most jobs don’t care how you got the job done(as long as it’s legal/ethical) and it’s a lot of focus on efficiency. Companies tend to have tons of resources but its on the employee to figure out how to use them and ask for training/help. It’s crazy how often I tell people if they don’t know how to do something, google it. Yes, we encourage that kind of stuff!

      Also- at work, it’s on the employee(and so important) for them to keep their boss updated on their successes and what’s going on. Your boss is not going to monitor you. Encourage them to keep a file of achievements and just add to it as they happen. It’s a lot easier than trying to pull together everything when review time comes along.

    16. Queen of the File

      You mention taking and giving feedback which is great! One aspect of this that I think is important to clarify is to get a sense of when and how much feedback is appropriate in their job. Some students who come from educational environments where there was a lot of welcome, lively debate and open challenging of ideas don’t react well when they find out the workplace doesn’t necessarily operate that way.

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

      Dress codes. I’ve seen a lot of college juniors with severe cases of wardrobe malfunctions (micro shorts that barely cover their butts, smelly armpits, bikinis, yoga pants, flashy underwear) that aren’t acceptable in a professional, non-academical setting.

    18. Alton

      Some things I think are helpful at work that people don’t always pick up in school are turning in polished work, paying attention to detail without being prompted, and knowing when to ask for clarification. A lot of class assignments are very spelled-out: “Write a five-page paper in 12pt Times New Roman font with at least four secondary sources,” for example. Requests at work can be more vague or lack concrete steps.

      I’ve found when working with student interns that sometimes they’ll do things like compile some information like I asked, but the formatting will be messy. Or you can tell they aren’t used to the copier/scanner because they scan documents upside down, and I have to flip the image or PDF. They’re usually minor things, and I don’t blame the students for not thinking of them, but I think I think this is an area where an instructor’s expectations and a boss’s expectations can be different. For an instructor, guiding students through new tasks is a regular part of the job. Supervisors may not always think of this stuff, and the ultimate goal is for employees to be reasonably self-sufficient.

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

      Also, estimation. It’s a key skill that nobody teaches you.

    20. Hamburke

      This is very not enviro sci related but how to fill out an I9, W4 and whatever state tax form required (VA4 in Virginia). I receive these and 90% of the time have to send them back due to errors. The I-9 is picky about a few things on the employee side (dates use a 4 digit years, you need to say if you did or did not use assistance – they basically are going towards being able to use OCR to scan into e-verify), but pretty simple if you just read it. Tax withholdings forms are more complicated bc theres no right answer (there are wrong ones!) but you can’t claim 4 and exempt (or double exempt and 1 on the VA4!).

      1. Katefish

        My best teacher in law school took us to court. That particular court visit sparked my interest so much I currently practice that same type of law. Particularly for older kids, I think getting out there and shadowing a job is life changing.

    21. Anon100

      Hi fellow environmental science person! Things I wish someone would have told me before I entered the workforce:

      – you will be doing grunt work for a while. This includes filing/scanning/copying papers on rainy days; going out into the field and digging and transporting samples to the lab, because all your superiors have better things to do (aka write the reports and handle irate clients); wrangle Excel tables with data over and over again until your maanger is finally satisfied; will possibly have a lot of downtime in Jan/Feb if your work is field-based and the ground is frozen.

      – most of you will NOT be saving the world/making life-changing decisions right from the start. you might be involved in the process, but if you’re government or consulting, things take a while to get off the ground.

      – always be prepared to take notes. notes on how your manager wants specifically done, notes during meetings/seminars, etc. preferably notes on paper, not your phone. many of your older bosses will still think that typing on your phone for notes is you not paying attention.

      – learn how to write straightforwardly. science writing is stating facts and making a conclusion. don’t try to be fancy with jargon and phrasing. (i will note this advice does not apply if you’re doing pure research and need to submit papers to a peer-reviewed journal.)

      – if in government, consulting, business, learn your state regulations forwards and backwards. state regulators sometimes can be fickle, but if you know the regs, it helps a lot!

      – when to pick up the phone and when to reply to an email. look, i understand that many kids these days have grown up with emails and chats. heck, even i’m not that old (early 30s)! but many of your superiors/bosses/clients will be 20+ years older than you, and they will prefer a quick 5 min chat over a long email explanation. or you can call them first, then send an email summary about the call. also, please learn how to introduce yourself over the phone. “hello, this is Jane Smith from XYZ Company, calling about Z subject.” i am surprised by how many new college grads i see that don’t know this anymore.

      – business forms of address for formal letters. “Dear Mr./Ms.” “To Whom It May Concern”. how to format a letter! do they even teach this in primary/secondary schools anymore?

      and finally.

      – ALWAYS ASSUME YOUR WORK EMAIL OR ANY FINAL WRITTEN DOCUMENT WILL BE SUBPOENAED AT ANYTIME. Be professional and courteous in your emails, “please” and “thanks” go a long way. You can definitely reply a curt “yes” to an email, but don’t reply “f*ck yes” even in an internal email.

  7. Recommendation tips?

    I need a letter of recommendation from my boss for a conference I’m interested in attending, he wants me to write it and he’ll sign it. Any tips on where to start on writing your own LOR?

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      When this happened to me, I drafted a letter to my boss explaining the business need as “why you should send me.” And then I rewrote it as “why the company should send her”. I sent her an editable file, she made some corrections, and then she sent it upstairs. Good luck!

      1. CM

        +1 I think they key thing is to frame it in your mind as “I need to explain why it makes sense to send me to this conference” and not “I need to explain why I deserve a reward.” So, focus on why it’s relevant to your job and how it will benefit everyone for you to attend (saying you have a plan to share what you learn with your coworkers can be a big plus).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Yes – Business need/justification is key. “Because this office will be more productive if we have someone get trained in the latest Llama wrangling skills who will then share those skills with their co-workers.”

    2. M

      Write it as if you were writing a letter of recommendation for your imaginary colleague with a curiously identical CV and work ethic to you. It’ll help you get over the awkwardness of it, and the instinct not to brag. You can always go back and fine tune it, but the hardest part is just getting it on paper in the first place.

      1. SarahKay

        And on the note of “the hardest part is just getting it on paper in the first place” I find it often helps to start on the second paragraph first, and then come back to the introductory paragraph at the very end.
        I find that if I don’t do that my brain spends forever trying to find the perfect starting sentence, despite having lots of excellent ideas about the middle bit. By starting mid-flow I get down on paper the stuff I do have confidence on instead of procrastinating while I try to work out how to start. Even better, by the time I’ve got to the end then that first paragraph often almost writes itself.
        Good luck!

    3. Artemesia

      Identify the business need that your attending this conference will help meet and not the kind of work you do related to the conference. The tone is ‘sending Debbie to this conference will help the department achieve more productivity in X which is a major part of her focus.’ Don’t overcomplicate it but focus on benefit to the company.

    4. Nesprin

      A good LOR will be >1 page, specific, focused on your achievements with no discussion of your weaknesses. So, write up your accomplishments and detail why going to this conference will help your career
      One thing that may be relevant is gender issues- LOR for women often focus on stereotypically female traits such as empathy and caring, which tends to detract. I run all the letters I write through this: https://www.tomforth.co.uk/genderbias/

  8. Toxic waste

    In toxic environments: How do you know if your boss is micromanaging or if they’re trying to get you to quit? Or both?

    Old (awesome) boss retired and new boss is on a warpath. New boss tells my coworker and myself how she used to do our job and how we’re doing moving too slow and not as fast as her.

    A few weeks ago, new boss told me that I’m doing a great job, and how she’ll promote me and take me to a training seminar. Then out of nowhere yesterday, she told me how she doesn’t think I can handle the work, how she doesn’t want to “overwhelm” me and how she doesn’t think I’m interested, etc.

    She assigns work saying, “This should take X hours to work on.” When I asked what is was based on, it is based on how long it takes her to complete it she said.

    New boss comments on what I eat/goes through my garbage, that my desk is “too messy”, and that I’m not “social enough” and then yells at me for talking when I do talk.

    I feel like I should be ramping up the job search either way, even if my job is safe, I don’t want to work in this kind of environment. It seems like a popularity contest and if they don’t like you personally, you’re in trouble; they won’t promote you, they exclude you socially, etc.

    Does anyone have any feedback/similar experiences?

    1. Violent Femme

      It sounds like an unwinnable situation and I would just start looking. While I think you could certainly attempt to have a productive conversation with your boss when she criticizes your work or work area or work style — it also sounds like she’s just going to say whatever will work for the moment she’s in. I worked in a toxic environment and while it can be managed, it can also really mess with your head. So I highly recommend you work on getting out and just do your best while you look.

      My experience at my toxic job was after a regime change. We got a new VP. My director then promptly told me I was horrible at my job after 4 years of perfectly good performance. I was never told I was terrible until my review (6 months later). I was never reprimanded for a specific instance of terribleness until my review. I even looked through my personal file to see if there was anything documented that I might have missed. They unleashed the hounds during my review and gave me literally the lowest grade they could and put me on a PIP. It was rough. But, it was also a beautiful day when I gave notice.

    2. Ama

      I absolutely think you need to be looking for something else, that sounds awful.

      In my experience, if a bad boss is somewhat predictable you can usually develop some workarounds and coping strategies to handle things (for example when I had a boss who changed his mind all the time and then denied doing it, I made sure I got all his instructions in email so when he tried the “why did you do it that way?” thing I could forward him his previous instructions to do it exactly that way). But your boss sounds completely unpredictable, invasive, and clearly has days when she’s just going to be mad at you just for existing. I’d start looking and get out asap.

      By the way, this is not a *you* thing, she would probably do this to anyone who isn’t capable of reading her mind, and it probably also is a sign of her own insecurity in her own job. I was lucky in that right as I was realizing my new boss was like what you describe she quit — and it turned out her paranoia and mercurial moods were because she had gotten completely overwhelmed by her own job and done several questionable things with the department’s finances that she knew she couldn’t hide forever. But I wouldn’t count on getting that lucky.

      1. Artemesia

        It is sometimes hard to sort out the you and them in this sort of situation. Just because a person has ‘been perfectly fine for years’ doesn’t mean they were. They may just have had a terrible boss who let incompetence prevail because they never confronted or managed. And now FINALLY there is a boss who can manage the weak links out and one of those is you. We read all the time here about long term employees who are allowed to be substandard for years. OR maybe the person is a loon with a personal agenda and it is about forcing out people in order to bring in their own favorites. It is hard when you are sitting there in that seat to know how much of each of these is true. The blue in the OP’s message is the rooting through trash, criticizing what she eats and just general weirdness. It is probably mostly her.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff

          You can determine that to some extent, simply by looking at the behaviour and performance of the manager.

          If they show clear personal grudges, don’t communicate properly, are inconsistent in their judgements and evaluations, cross all sorts of personal boundaries, or can’t back up their decisions, then chances are pretty good the boss is the problem.

    3. WellRed

      Your boss has issues that go beyond terrible boss issues. When someone is at the point where they not only contradict themselves constantly (Be more social! Don’t socialize!) but is GOING THROUGH YOUR GARBAGE all you can do is make an escape plan. The micromanaging of how long it takes to do something is not the big problem here.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch

      The only boss I had that had similar traits as the one you’re describing was a lunatic who would keep on going lists on everyone’s errors or what he perceived to be “issues”, then when he got angry enough towards an employee he would “write them up” or fire them if they weren’t high enough on the food chain for him to bother with the write-up stage.

      This isn’t normal functional boss level, it’s absolutely grotesque and bad for your health. I hope you find something ASAP!

    5. CM

      She’s definitely not trying to make you quit. She enjoys being a jerk to you, so it wouldn’t serve her interests if you left.

      If the only issue was that she expected you to do everything the way she’d done it or was frustrated that you were working slower, I’d say she’s an inexperienced manager and, while that’s not the best, she might grow out of it if you’re patient and honest with her about how it’s affecting you.

      However, based on the other things you describe, it sounds like she’s a bully. And the thing to understand about bullies is that their objective is never to have a peaceful relationship with you — their objective is to find things to bully you about. So, even if you did everything exactly the way she says she wants you to, it wouldn’t matter — she’d find a way to bully you for that instead. Bullies want to bully — they don’t want to stop bullying.

      Your best bet long term is to bail but, while you’re still stuck there, my advice is to let go of the idea that you can ever “win” this game or convince her to treat you with respect. She’s going to be a jerk no matter what, and that’s on her, not you.

      1. Triplestep

        Agree with everything here. You can’t win, do the best you can and ramp up your job search.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale

      I once worked for a man who would forget everything he ever promised, then treat you like garbage when you reminded him. “I’ll work on this part of the report,” followed by, “Where is this report?” “You said you would do it.” “I never said that! If I did, then that’s too bad, because you’ll have to do it now.” That was some of the worst of it, in addition to telling us all one day we were brilliant and the next we were all idiots. The other stuff was:

      – “Don’t work on airplanes, I want you to use travel time to think.”/”You need to get this done on the plane on the way home.”
      – “Let’s meet all morning about this, break for half an hour, then meet about something else.”/”Why isn’t this done yet?”
      – “Let me know when you’re drowning or need assistance, we’re here to help.”/”You should be able to handle this, I’m not helping you.”
      – “No one should be on more than three projects at any given time.”/”You need to be on this project, I don’t care that it’s the 12th one you’re working on now, get it done.”

      This was exhausting. It was infuriating. It trashed my self-esteem. The company kind of fell apart two years after I left and he’s STILL trying to be the BIGGEST AND THE BEST, yet he hasn’t learned why he retains no one. I left with nothing lined up, luckily they gave me severance (they wanted me out too) and I found a decent job four months later.

      Best of luck!

    7. Me

      Sometimes the motivation matters. There are people that if you know what makes them tick, you can manage up.

      This? This sounds like one of those times where it doesn’t matter. You have a boss that plays mind games and moves goal posts. Probably because it makes her feel powerful.

      Run.

    8. Michaela Westen

      My experience with people who flip what they’re saying like that – one day you’re awesome, the next day you’re incompetent, etc. – is that it’s not about you or the work, it’s about their need to control and abuse.
      So no matter what you do, they will try to twist it to fit their need to keep you under control.
      That “doesn’t think you’re interested”… my verbally abusive father did that. He would mention doing something good and then deny it because I “didn’t seem interested/enthusiastic/happy”. Like I could show any emotion around him without getting punished. It was just another way to manipulate me.
      I also worked for a very toxic woman who did some of these things. I’ve never seen anyone go as far out of their way to hurt people as she did.

    9. lnelson in Tysons

      The boss sounds like a micromanaging nut job.
      Accept that you will never be able to do anything right and find yourself a new job.

    10. Probably Nerdy

      I would say, when they give you extra hoops to jump through, is when they are trying to get you to quit.

      I had a situation where my boss forgot to give me funding for my labor, and then blamed me for not “reminding” him, and then set a rule that I had to check in multiple times per pay period to make sure I’m on track with my labor hours.

      I put in notice the next day.

    11. MissDisplaced

      It sounds like your boss is just a whack job. I don’t know if she’s really trying to get you to quit (possible she has her own pressures), but you can’t win with people like this unless you have nerves of steel and an incredible amount of professional capital to come out on top. I would start looking for a new job.

    12. Lilysparrow

      Your boss isnt a micromanager, she’s a crazymaker, and it doesn’t really matter whether she’s doing it on purpose or not.

      Definitely be looking! As far as survival in the interim, I have had some success in making myself less interesting to crazymakers by:

      1) Never, ever, show any emotional reaction to anything they say, good or bad. They seek out emotional energy to feed on. Cultivate – with white knuckles, if necessary, a constant demeanor of pleasant, low-key cheerfulness and team-spiritedness that is skin deep.

      She compliments you? “Thanks, that’s great.” She criticizes you? “Oh, okay.” Bland, bland, bland.

      2) Take every instruction literally, document it. Keep a notebook with you and let her see you write it down. If it’s a longer detailed conversation, type it up and email it to her “to confirm what we discussed”. Follow these instructions meticulously and absolutely literally. When she contradicts herself, ask for clarification with notes in hand. “Cercei, can you give me some clarification? On Wednesday you said that all teapot handles should face left. Today you said they should all face right. Is right-facing the new standard, or should we be rotating them on a schedule?”

      She won’t stop being this way. And she won’t like you any better. But she will likely move her primary attention on to juicier targets who feed her more of the sweet, sweet bewilderment and frustration that she craves.

      1. Kat in VA

        Yes to all of this. There’s a certain tremendous amount of satisfaction in Gray Rocking someone who is hellbent on making you crazy.

        (More on Gray Rocking if you are interested: https://www.purewow.com/wellness/gray-rock-method )

        Be warned – initially, using the Gray Rock method of being absolutely boring and uninteresting will cause some jerks to really really amp up their jerkiness. They tend to get bored and move on to someone else (which sucks but then at least they’re not concentrating the jerkiness on you).

    13. WalkedInYourShoes

      I am going through it right now, too. I come to realization. This person and the boss who I have to work with right now is a micro-manager, manipulator and a terrible leader and manager. So, I started looking in the past month. I am interviewing.

      But remember to be aware of your next role and manager. You don’t want to jump from the frying and into the fire. For example, I was at an interview on Tue., and asked the c-level big boss about his management style, the person responded, “I don’t care if people like me or not. I expect people to come into work as if they are going to be fired that day.” Then, I knew that this was not to be my next job and politely gave the feedback to the recruiter and withdrew myself from the interview process. So, keep applying, because there are companies that will appreciate you and what you have to offer.

  9. cammot

    For an exit interview, is it OK to say that you are accepting another job because it offers better pay and benefits? That is the main reason why I started looking in the first place. But I wonder if going with another story — the new position will allow for growth in certain skillsets — is better. My goal is to keep relations positive with the former employer.

    1. Four lights

      I’m not involved in HR at all, but I think this is what exit interviews are for. If all the employees that leave say they’re doing it for better benefits, then they know they’re going to have to review their benefits package in order to retain people.

    2. Foreign Octopus

      I would say that’s fine. It’s honest and to the point. You’re not bashing your current company but you are pointing out that maybe they’re not paying enough.

    3. S-Mart

      I think that citing the pay and benefits is perfectly reasonable. It’s probably one of the most benign reasons to leave.

      1. MicroManaged

        Yup, my coworker just left and cited pay and proximity (she had an hour + commute here) and that went over really well with our boss. I’m a little annoyed because she and I shared some much larger issues with management, but ultimately it’s fair that her priority was to maintain a positive reference rather than to help our manager improve.

    4. Fortitude Jones

      Nope – I’ve always said this in exit interviews. Stating facts unemotionally should not be an issue, and who knows – you may be the 50th person to leave who said the same thing, which could in turn make them re-evaluate their pay bands and benefits for current and future employees.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood

      Be honest about that – it’ll benefit your soon-to-be-former co-workers. You’re not interviewing, you’re explaining a done-deal. Many years ago a co-worker told HR she was leaving because of 3 day/week telecommute and a significant raise. HR said “How much?” She said x%. HR deflated and said “Oh, we can’t match that …” And turned around and set up 2-day/week telecommute for my department. We all thanked our former co-worker.

      1. Marion Ravenwood

        Same thing happened to me at my exit interview for my last job. The salary for my new job was around 15% more, and HR said, ‘yeah, sorry, no way can we match that’ (it was a charity and finances were not terrible, but they were very tight).

        As others have said, if they’re hearing this from several people, it might be a wake-up call on what they need to do to retain staff. So I’d say it’s perfectly fine to give pay and benefits as your reason for leaving, although you could add the skills thing as well (if it’s true).

        1. Beatrice

          Yep! A few years ago, my company lost a few key people in my field to better paying jobs, which prompted them to do some benchmarking and raise salaries and revamp job titles for all jobs in my field. The job title I originally held was used as a catch-all for a really wide range of responsibility levels, and it was split into three separate job new titles…I got the highest of the 3 and an 11% pay bump.

        2. Aly_b

          As a middle manager, I could use a pattern of this to advocate up the chain that we need to match pay and benefits to industry norms. It can help your coworkers and future hires. Also it’s true and not remotely offensive – people work for pay, that’s the deal.

    6. straws

      I would absolutely want to hear this in an exit interview. While I may not be able to immediately turn around and raise salaries, feedback like this would be extremely helpful in conversations about working on our compensation plans.

    7. Media Monkey

      i think either should be fine to say. the exit interview is of benefit to the company, not you, so any info they get should be useful.

    8. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

      I think that’s fine. It’s likely that they’ve been told before that their pay and benefits are low. But if you want things to remain positive with the former employer, be sure to mention how you’ve grown professionally during your time there–acquired new skills, got a chance to work on projects you’d never been exposed to before, etc.

    9. lnelson in Tysons

      As an HR person who has done exit interviews, I do like to hear the reasons. I’m nosy.
      If 90% of the people say that they are leaving for better pay, management might do something about it. (or not)
      If people start leaving because of one manager, TPTB might do something about it. Again or not. But if there is something HR can do, they will.
      I have also used that exit interview to make sure that the employee understands COBRA options and what they need to do to rollover their 401k (US person here).
      Only one person said to me. Don’t bother asking why I am leaving, nothing will ever change. I respected his wishes and just took care of the various housekeeping.

    10. MissDisplaced

      Well, who wouldn’t want to leave for more pay and better benefits? TOTALLY NORMAL!
      And if that is the main reason, I would say so. HR should know they’re under-market.

    11. Marthooh

      Your employer will probably not get mad at you for preferring better pay and benefits. If they do, though, then there’s no way to stay on good terms with them. People who are that unreasonable can’t be trusted, no matter what you say.

  10. Susan K

    The letter this week about the manager who complained about not getting enough praise from his subordinates reminded me of a question that I have been pondering for some time: if you actually want to praise your manager, how should you do it?

    I really like my manager. He is generally a great person — super nice and approachable. I worked with him in the past as a peer, so I know him pretty well. I have had over 20 managers in my career and he is in the top three. He makes me feel like we are on the same team and he’s there to help me succeed. I can count on him to keep his word and come through on his promises. He’s given me a lot of opportunities for professional development by allowing me to attend (sometimes expensive) training and conferences. He’s not perfect, but, you know, nobody is, and he’s closer than most.

    I think that working for him has made me a better employee and even a nicer person. I am in a high-stress industry, but I have felt noticeably less stressed since he became my manager, and in turn, I think I have been able to be nicer to other people just because I am generally in a better mood. I also feel like he understands me. I’m not sure if he is just really good at reading people or what, but there are times when it seems like he knows me better than my own family.

    He is a very social and extraverted person (I am the opposite, by the way) and I think it would mean something to him to know that I think he is awesome. He tells me often that I am doing a great job, so I think he feels that it is important to express that verbally. I thank him for specific things when appropriate and sometimes add, “You’re the best!” but I don’t think that quite covers it. I kind of want to tell him basically everything I just wrote, about how I think he is one of the best managers I’ve ever had and I appreciate everything he does and that he is doing a great job, but if I just blurt it out randomly, I think it could be weird and awkward and maybe sound insincere. I feel as though I need to be careful of the timing; I don’t want to say it right before I ask for something or right after he has done something for me (for example, I thought about saying it at my performance review, but he gave me a glowing review and a nice raise, so I didn’t want him to think I was only saying it because of that). I don’t want to wait until he gets promoted and write it on his goodbye card, though!

    1. Nervous Accountant

      I feel that way about my manager. I know it’s frowned upon here but “Boss’s day” was a few months ago so I got a card and got a few team members (who I know feel the same way) to sign it. If it’s not awkward, maybe a small gift and a note with your sentiments?

    2. Yorick

      You can write him a note if saying it in person seems too awkward. I have cards from former students that are really special to me.

    3. Camellia

      Does your company do regular evaluations? If so, I think it would be great to send an email to your boss’s boss saying that, at the time when we are all thinking about evals, you wanted to say [all the good things] about your boss. I would also CC your boss on it, just in case his boss didn’t share it for whatever reason.

      If your company doesn’t do regular evals, or annual ones are already done, you could still find another “reason” that would “prompt you” to send the email – Boss’s Day, your boss’s birthday, or some such.

      Sending it to your boss’s boss removes the ‘weird’ factor and makes it just something you wanted to professionally share.

      1. MayLou

        Oh, I really like this idea – I agree it might remove the awkwardness and also it could have a tangible benefit to the manager if it contributed to a positive review.

      2. MissDisplaced

        Some companies have an electronic system to reward anyone by anyone. If you have that, you can send those for several topics, such as: job well done, thank you, kudos, teamwork, appreciation, etc.

        I think is IS important for manager’s managers to know when they have a good manager. Of course there are metrics such as meeting goals, but so often it is the people skills that matter more.

    4. Nessun

      We have a formal process for yearly/mid-year reviews, and it includes the opportunity to ask direct reports for feedback. I always utilize it myself, to allow my group to tell me how I’m doing in supporting their growth and needs. I use the same form to provide feedback to my supervisor & boss. Without that process in place, I’d choose to say it in the moment (which I also do) – eg. when an opportunity arises for learning and my boss is supportive of me going, offers time off or to help with costs, I’ll say thanks for supporting me and showing that you value my ongoing learning, I appreciate your encouragement. Stuff like that. It doesn’t have to be effusive, just relevant to the conversation and genuinely meant.

    5. Aunt Vixen

      Is your organization of a sufficient size that you can deliver praise for your manager to his own manager? I guess that might not necessarily accomplish letting *him* know you think he’s awesome, so maybe I should suggest doing that in addition to finding a way to let him know personally. [ponder]

    6. Ama

      Because of the way my employer (and my boss) handle performance reviews (where we are asked to write down how we think our own performance and the organization’s performance at large went that year and where there are opportunities to improve) I often take the opportunity to offer any positive comments and/or thanks at that point. For example, one year I had a bunch of horrible things happen in my personal life and my boss was super great in giving me time and extra flexibility to deal with the aftermath, so in my review that year I wrote that I really appreciated her support in helping me succeed at work despite the extra challenges I was going through personally.

      But we turn in our forms prior to getting our manager’s comments in the actual review meeting so there’s no risk of it seeming like just a response to a good performance review.

    7. Artemesia

      This is one of those things you can say if you are having lunch with him or a one on one review of your work i.e. where you have his attention and are interacting. It is also something you can put in a Christmas or New Year’s card or a boss’s day card (although the very idea of boss’s day makes my skin crawl)

      1. Mr. Tyzik

        I also like to give timely feedback to my manager, so when I have a conversation, I thank her for something – being open to my ideas and hearing me out, giving me an opportunity to test something, or even just thanking her for her honest feedback. You may find some opportunities to do this as well.

        As for how to say it, I try to not make it a big deal, but just close the call with something like, “By the way, thanks for ….” whatever I’m thanking her for.

    8. The Phleb

      I’ve actually done this! What I did was to send a thank you email to both my supervisor and their supervisor. My current supervisor is amazing and really supports us so well that I will do this several times a year (with various comments). I want to be sure not only does she know how much I appreciate the hard work she does, but I want her supervisor to know how valuable my supervisor is and how her team thinks so highly of her. Just as it’s important to you to receive kudos…it’s important to them as well!

    9. Bostonian

      Yeah, I’ve started making it a point after my annual review to let my boss know how much I appreciate her/enjoy working with her/the ways in which she’s helped and supported me. The key is to be specific about the kinds of things the boss did and how that helped you.

      You don’t have to wait for something formal like a review, though! That’s just what works with me because I’m already in a reflective mindset. You can definitely let him know in the moment when you see your boss handle a tough situation in a graceful way.

    10. Not A Morning Person

      You wrote your appreciation message! All the things you said in your post about what makes you appreciate him as your boss are things you can write in a card or letter and give to him. Those are things bosses don’t often hear and it is good to reinforce those things that you appreciate! What gets acknowledged and appreciated gets repeated! Show him that you appreciate those things. He will feel very lucky to have you as an employee!

    11. Kat

      I would suggest just being authentic about any compliments you have about your boss when you have them. And nothing wrong with saying it during performance reviews! I’ve said stuff to my boss during mine and my staff have said stuff to me during theirs.

      I’ve given and received positive feedback through email, phone calls, after team meetings or meetings to discuss potential issues, during regular 1:1 workplanning meetings, performance reviews, etc.

      Remember, your boss is a regular person just like you. You’d probably like it if you got positive feedback in the moment as much as possible and so would they!

    12. ManageHer

      As a manager, it can often be a pretty thankless job – thank you for wanting to share with your boss how much his management means to you. Personally, I’ve really appreciated getting that sort of feedback:
      *In email or formal review feedback to my boss during review time.
      *At larger orgs that have them, nominations for management awards (winning a department award for staff management is the highlight of my career so far).
      *Letting me know in a check-in or via email when I do something especially meaningful (supporting staff through a big project or helping them sort out a complicated process).
      *Holiday cards used as an excuse to write a nice note.
      *Being approached for recommendation letters for grad school, or for non-perfunctory professional advice is also a nice back-end way for me to feel like my staff enjoy working with me.

    13. Celia

      Does your company or industry offer any kind of award for excellence? You could nominate him for it. This often requires a written statement where you could include the details you’ve given here. These awards may just be a certificate or luncheon (as opposed to cash), but they can also really help people in their careers, depending on the field.

    14. SC in NC

      This doesn’t have to be complicated. As someone who has both given and received this type of feedback, I’ve found that any time during a one on one conversation works fine. When I’ve seen it work best is at the end of whatever normal work you were discussing is complete or have the conversation before you start on other subjects. You don’t want to just blurt it out.

      Also, temper what you’re saying to be realistic, give specific or semi-specific examples and follow through with your message. It’s very easy for a boss to brush off praise or thanks from an employee with a “I’m just doing my job” response. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the sentiment but good bosses probably really do see it as their job. I’ve had employees stop me when I’ve had that type of response to follow-up with a “I know it’s part of your job but I want you to know …..”. In other words make sure they really hear the message and it’s meaning.

    15. A Reader

      Susan K, I am so happy you brought up this topic! My manager is great, too, and I’ve been wondering how to thank him.

      I like the ideas noted in this thread, and will likely steal a few. :)

      Just don’t do what one of my coworkers did, where they thanked our boss in an online area that is open to our team. So we all saw how much they think of our boss, and TBH, it came across as butt-kissing. This person has a history of doing things like this, so when I saw the note, I just rolled my eyes. It’s great to let the boss know how much they mean to you, but I also think letting it be known to other members of your team feels kind of weird.

  11. CMart

    IT people – database and systems folk – can you help me help your counterparts at my work?

    Every month my team (finance) reviews the data flowing into our management and reporting system to see if anything looks off (eg: whole herds of llamas coded with no fur, small llamas showing sales price of $1M when they’re usually only $500 etc…). I’m the point of contact between finance and IT to let the database/systems people know that we’re seeing issues.

    Every month it feels like I’m just slamming my head into a brick wall while my IT team point fingers at each other, do nothing, and then ask me to pinpoint the source of the issues/tell them how to fix it. My understanding of this relationship is that I don’t know anything about the flow of our data and systems (okay not nothing, but a 30,000ft view at best) and I’m just the end-user flagging that things are amiss within the systems they manage. That it’s their job to do root cause analysis, find the source of the issues, and figure out how to fix it.

    So every month there’s a lot of bickering, me saying “all I know is there’s 15 llamas whose serial numbers say they’re brown but the description says they’re chartreuse – they should be brown” and ultimately being told we need to make a manual entry to just change whatever it is we need to change.

    So nothing ever gets fixed, we have the same rotating issues month after month and I dread the week every month I have to go through this circus. I’m rounding out a year of this aggravation, and my manager has been dealing with this for several more and is even crabbier about it than I am.

    Is this a mismatch in expectations and how finance vs IT people go about problem solving? Am I maybe misunderstanding my role here and could be more helpful? Or am I misunderstanding what the role of IT is here? What could I be doing or saying to get my IT team to actually fix the issues instead of spending our daily meetings arguing about what the problem might be and who should have informed who about process breakdowns etc…?

    1. seasonal allegories

      If there’s data entry errors, it’s on the people entering data to fix it. If there’s problems in how the data is returned (like it’s being entered as brown, but somehow the entries get mixed up in the system and assigns “brown” to the wrong place), then that’s something for IT to fix. If the data is correct at the source isn’t something IT can control, but they can definitely control (and need to trouble-shoot) if it somehow gets messed up once it’s been put into the system.

      1. CMart

        Yes, most often it’s a systems (not) communicating with each other/ a load error or something.

        Sometimes it’s a data entry error, but I still would have no idea myself where or how to track that down. I don’t know where the sources are — am I off base in thinking that’s what the tech folk are for? Tracking down the source and telling the source to fix their stuff?

      2. Yorick

        It is IT’s job to help track down those data entry errors and help them fix their process, though

        1. seasonal allegories

          It is IT’s job to help track down those data entry errors and help them fix their process, though

          Not in my org. If someone enters 80 instead of 90, that’s not IT’s problem to fix. Process improvement in someone else’s department is not something the database folks do.

          1. CMart

            So let’s say this is the scenario:

            Data entry drone: enters 80 instead of 90
            Invoice goes into system
            Invoicing system transfers to management system
            I pull this month’s information and thing “80? Shouldn’t that be 90? What happened?”

            So I tell IT “I have a llama coded as 80 but all of its attributes should be code 90”

            What are the next steps? IT says “looks like a data entry error” and…. I’m SOL? I don’t know where the data originated, but they do. I don’t know who to talk to, but they do. Whose job is it to then say “Hey Data Drone Department – you had an input error, please fix”?

            1. seasonal allegories

              The next step is you go to the data entry drone and work with them on their inputs. If you don’t know who that is, that’s your next step: tracing who puts data in and where they get THEIR data from.

              Whose job is it to then say “Hey Data Drone Department – you had an input error, please fix”?

              I don’t know your chain. In my chain, we’d find out which department is meant to be putting in info and have our leadership tell their leadership that data errors have been cropping up and we should have a meeting between the people who put the data in and the people who use it. There’s probably training on the system that is needed. But this is done by the people who own using the system, not the people who own writing the nuts and bolts.

              I don’t know what kind of a system you’re in, in ours, if there’s a problem with the data in X Location, we know how to get in touch with the supervisor in X Location and say “your data is wrong”.

              1. CM

                +1 It sounds like no one in this situation is being super helpful about talking through the problem but this is how I would go about trying to solve it (if it is, indeed, a data entry error).

            2. seasonal allegories

              But just in general, validating that your data is the same coming in as going out is IT’s problem. Validating that the data is correctly what happened? That’s the people who put it in and the people who use the data. My IT department is not staffed at all to track down issues with what the data actually says. They only care if System A’s data gets turned into mush when it comes into System B.

              1. CMart

                Yeah, I think my asking about the 80/90 coding error was a red herring! Most of our issues every month are a System A to B mush thing. Usually because there are automatic processes in place that then don’t recognize a unique situation (that’s not so terribly unique as it happens every month – granted on a scale of 3 llamas out of the 15,000 entered into the system, but still there’s those 3 every time).

            3. BadWolf

              I would say it’s ITs job to give you information on who entered the bad information (assuming they have some sort of logging or audits, if not, then it would be there job to add auditing), but I would not expect IT to tell that person to tell the data entry person they are wrong (unless the data entry people are part of the IT group).

            4. Observer

              You have two things:

              1. Where did that data come from. You need to explicitly ask “Which department puts that data in?”

              2. Tell Drone department that these error keep happening – That’s totally your job, not IT.

          2. Alice

            So who does the process improvement? Is each department supposed to figure it out for themselves?
            I mean, if there’s a dedicated team separate from the database folks (although I note that “database folks” is presumably one part among many in the IT department), great. But if there were a dedicated process improvement team in CMart’s organization, she would have heard about it by now.

            1. seasonal allegories

              As someone who used to work in process improvement and quality, a lot of people didn’t know about us! ;) But in general, it’s a specific skillset you need for resolving these kind of human problems. If IT isn’t staffed for it or hiring for it, I wouldn’t be shocked. This is human stuff between the departments affected by data entry problems. IT is just the system they’re using; the problems are elsewhere.

            2. Admin of Sys

              IT can’t do the process improvement if they can’t implement process changes, so yeah, it usually ends up being each department’s responsibility. If the IT team confirms that the issue is with the data entry, then they can say ‘the data was entered incorrectly’. At that point, if it’s negatively affecting you, then you can say ‘who enters the data?’ and trace the problem down there. Wanting IT to fix the data entry problem is like trying to get the phone company to stop people from calling you because they dialed the wrong number.

          3. Yorick

            That’s not the kind of error I was talking about, so I apologize for the confusion. I meant stuff like this, which is what happens in my agency:

            If the data entry screen for pet grooming says “Hair color” and it needs to be pet’s hair color and the people keep getting confused and putting the client’s hair color, IT can fix that by changing the name of the field.

            If the problem comes from people deleting stuff that shouldn’t be deleted because it makes other data points not make sense, IT can make it impossible to delete.

            1. Yorick

              My agency has IT staff (think business analysts, not developers) who are supposed to work with business to clean up processes. For what it’s worth, my IT friends who work in other companies tell me IT should be helping me get these problems fixed,

          4. It's Pronounced Bruce

            Agreed, but you still need to verify the source of the error (user or not), which you’d need IT’s help to do.

          5. Observer

            Well, it depends. Sometimes it is IT’s place and sometimes not. Like, IT can’t help it if you’re getting invoices that look like a kid with a scissor and a stack of magazines designed it. On the other hand, if you know that your customers always have to be over 21 and can’t be over 150 years old, the IT needs to limit the age range. Or if the price for Lamas is $1m and your most expensive item is usually $100K, it should throw up a REALLY noticeable message that requires at least one step to dismiss.

    2. sparty07

      I find that when I get data issues that are not resolved after 2-3 iterations you need to escalate via your manager to their manager. Explain how you’ve tried to help identify ways to help them identify the gaps, or that you don’t have the technical knowledge to help them pinpoint the source of the issue (it may be garbage in/garbage out). But as a fellow finance person, having dirty data is the bane of my existence (and not having other departments care about how dirty data is bad for the company as a whole)

      1. CMart

        “Garbage in garbage out” is such a problem and honestly there’s a lot of garbage in our data. It’s so frustrating when it’s the same “garbage” every month – makes it hard for us to do our analysis and for the higher ups to trust the analysis that we do.

        “There’s a lot of noise in X” is an oft-used phrase that gets massive eye rolls from my great-grand boss but there’s really not much we can do when we don’t control the data.

        1. DataGirl

          Sounds like my job. I was hired to fix the databases/ data but it’s been a losing battle since no one actually cares about doing things correctly. As for IT, at my org (which is HUGE) the biggest problems are 1) There are way too few IT people to deal with all the issues and 2) No one knows who is in charge of what 3) Some/many of the databases or data entry sources are third party products, so IT can’t make any changes, even if the problem can be identified. Depending on the size of your org and your IT Team, they may be facing similar problems. In your case it does sound like data entry is likely the problem, so can you find out from your manager which department is in charge of that, then contact them to try and track down who is doing the data entry? Maybe see the tool they are using to do it, to identify if it is a problem in the software, like a drop-down menu missing items or having typos?

        2. Iris Eyes

          Your database people could hypothetically help by putting in some sort of data check. In the color coding example there should be some sort of a flag when entering the data if the code entered and the color entered are incompatible.

          If there are any always/never rules that you can put in the system as flags/warnings or data checkpoints then those are helpful.

          Whoever is in charge of the data entry people can/should be getting reports for any data that is entered that is out of typical range. i.e. deviates from the average for this category by X% or code doesn’t match color etc

          1. BadWolf

            Yes, IT could put controls in that would stop or flag unexpected data.

            For example, if a field should have a number 1-100, then that could be checked and flagged/stopped if -1 or 150 is entered.

            But if someone enters 70 instead of 50…that’s on the data entry side (usually, unless there’s something that can be automatically cross checked).

            1. CMart

              Our issues seem to be “Data Entry Drone put in 50, which is what it was supposed to be, into System A. It loaded into System B and now shows 70.”

              And then there’s bickering and after 3 days of e-mails the solution is always “hey Finance, just make an entry to change it to 50” and no resolution or proposed fix for what happened between point A and B. And I’m wondering what I’m missing in that this is the way it is every month. It seems so pointless, and nothing ever actually gets fixed!

              1. LKW

                The best way to resolve this, truly resolve this is to develop a metric on of how much this is costing the company.

                # times calls to help desk x $$ for end user (how many minutes per case x how many cases)
                # calls to help desk x $$ technical support (how many minutes per case x how many cases)
                # of tickets received per month x hours per case to investigate
                # of tickets received per month x hours of remediation

                extrapolate across a fiscal year what feels like a few issues per month turns in to real money.

                If you then estimate out a small project to investigate where this integration is messing up you may get an ROI within a year or so.

                1. Hillary

                  Yes this. Also enlist the finance people to help with the metric. No one actually likes doing it this way. I have one database project supported entirely by taking less time to run reports.

                  The other thing to think about is focusing on positivity. It’s easy to feel blamed when someone’s talking about a process failure, so I tend to frame it with a very passive voice and focus a lot on the future. It doesn’t always work, but it often pushes people out of defensiveness and into action faster.

                2. Kat

                  Yes this!! I’d also add that the point of the report is to allow you to do X (make resource allocation decisions, allocate workloads more fairly, identify bottlenecks, identify problem files, establish priorities, provide accurate and TIMELY updates to mgmt, etc.) and instead what you’re spending your time doing is Y (checking accuracy of reports line by line, looking up data because reports can’t be trusted, creating a different version of the report outside of the IT system [I’ve had to use two sets of oracle reports to create a third more accurate report in Excel!!], making manual overrides and corrections every month, etc.)

                  In my experience if I’m trying to explain to my director what my frustration is I find it helps to keep the focus on “here’s how this report is supposed to help me MANAGE/make STRATEGIC decisions and instead I’m spending all my time doing data entry, reconciliation, manual calculations, creating spreadsheets, etc. which is not what my boss wants me doing AND it prevents me from getting to the other things that are part of my job.

                  I feel like sometimes those removed from working with IT don’t get the reason for our frustration but when you explain it to them that makes them see “I pay you to work as an analyst or manager and instead you’re basically doing data entry and basic troubleshooting that’s such a waste of time and money! I have to talk to IT about this!”

              2. Nicki Name

                Okay, if the situation is “X was entered into one computer but it comes out of another computer as Y”, and your IT department wrote the software, then you have described an actionable bug. (If they didn’t write the software, then it’s still an actionable bug, but one to work through with the software company.)

              3. Admin of Sys

                yeah, /that/ sor tof thing definitely needs fixed (and by IT, though it may still require someone spending on unrealistic amount of time entering 47 llamas until the numbers break so they can trace the problem)
                I’d present this as systematic not because of those specific entries but because of the potential for serious issue in a larger scale. If the data is not consistently propagating, fixing the individual entries doesn’t resolve the fact that the data is inaccurate. What happens if the issue causes an inaccuracy that costs the company money? Like a lot of it? Could you model a legit scenario where that would occur? Like, if the invoice should be for $1000 and it’s sometimes saying $100,000, point out it could go the other way, and a customer could argue they got a legit price of $10 and they don’t owe the company the extra if the company software said it was ‘right’? (because no system should ever /rely/ on someone catching the error.)
                Mind you, this is still a matter of scale. If it’s on average 3 orders out of 3,000, well they may have decided .1% is an acceptable failure rate. But even on edge cases, inconsistent data communication can end up costing big, so they should be creating systems to doublecheck it as it goes through.

    3. Dreamboat Annie

      Did IT write the systems or is it a product, or a hodgepodge? How does the data get into the system- manually, by import, both?

      Actually without knowing the answers, have you talked w your boss about how much time it takes to reconcile, and that there may be inaccurate data coming in causing these issues? *Perhaps* a project could be requested to help improve the data coming in, cleansing earlier in the process, etc.

      1. CMart

        It’s an invoicing system (well, several invoicing systems across plants) transfer to our management and reporting system. I have zero idea about the origination of the invoicing process. The systems are all pretty old/legacy and are a hodgepodge of internal and external, some new most not. I have sympathy that it’s an aggravating mess trying to get everything to talk to each other.

        My manager is always involved in this too – usually after 2-3 volleys of “hey IT here’s an issue I see”/”hey CMart track down the source and tell us how to fix it”/”hey IT I don’t have the ability to do that please advise”/”hey CMart that’s an Invoice System issue”/”hey IT please talk to them?” he will step in and be more assertive about how we are not supposed to be the problem solvers, just the problem-identifiers. His greatest complaint is that every month he asks for root cause analysis and all we get is “just do a manual submission”. Band-aids on axe wounds.

        1. RandomU...

          I kind of disagree with your bosses assessment on this. I’ve been on both sides of this fence; IT and business.

          I think that it’s IT’s job to let you know the source of the bad data and to verify it’s not something with their loads and scripts that is causing the problem. It is the business responsibility to address data entry problems.

          My advice, instead of the ‘Hey IT you need to fix this problem’ approach I’d try a different one.

          Hey IT, can we look at the source of where you are pulling this from? Can we review the source data? Once you have that you can confirm if it’s the source data (business) or the scripting/systems (IT).

          In other words, with the systems you describe, you’re probably going to find problems originating from both the business and IT. I would focus on a plan of getting the right people involved to fix the problem rather than focusing on who ‘should’ do it.

          1. CMart

            I definitely think our core team needs to be expanded. I’ve noticed a lot of the issues keep coming from one particular invoice system and it’s a circus figuring out who should talk to them.

            Usually the management system person will end up doing it and then facilitating the discussion/debating the fix since I/my group don’t know how everything is pieced together. “I see a llama with a serial number indicating brown fur but with a Fur Attribute of chartreuse, it should be brown” is as detailed as I can get. The discussions that ensue involve a lot of system/database jargon that I do not understand, despite having taking a masters-level InfoSystems course.

            That’s really the core behind my thinking that my IT contacts need to be more involved. When Invoice System team says “what went wrong?” I absolutely cannot say “when Load 1 processed the FACT_SET_THING pulled from ThisTable when it should have pulled from ThatTable and it went into Management_Account as Chartreuse. FACT_SET_THING needs to be updated in ThatTable and Load 1 should be rerouted”. What I can say is “but y not brown tho?”

            1. seasonal allegories

              If you have error messages like that, that’s definitely something to send to IT. Those are useful.

              1. CMart

                Nah, no error messages. Just me combing through 200k lines of data using various checks to see if anything looks amiss.

            2. Admin of Sys

              Yeah, but the IT team may not know how everything is interconnected either. It can be possible to track issues down, but usually you have to shadow every department and hope an issue occurs while you’re watching. I once tracked down an inventory application problem that was causing regular issues, but it required me to literally walk through the entire process, from purchasing the inventory, to adding it into the system, to pulling it to manufacturing, to walking through manufacturing, through testing, back through inventory, etc. It took 2 months of tracing every single step of the process to identify where the bug occurred. I could do that because it was an inventory issue, and I was inventory lead. When I found the issue, I was able to go: IT, the database doesn’t properly re-add inventory when the system fails test and is stripped for parts. I had no idea /why/ that happened (At the time). I didn’t know enough about the back end database to have any idea why the parts didn’t get re-added when everything else did, nor did I care. But I was able to say ‘when I do x, y occurs, and y should not occur’. Then IT fixed it.

              Technically, that’s an IT bug, but they would have had very little chance of knowing the process the machines go through to end up in that specific situation, because they didn’t know how the manufacturing line works.

              It’s entirely possible that none of the techs know how to enter an invoice – why would they? They (should) know that when they enter a test invoice, it processes the way that finance says invoices should process. How are they going to know if sales entered the data correctly? They’re not trained on how to enter invoicing data, nor should they be. If the issue is that the invoices have incorrect data and everyone insists that they’re doing the data entry correctly, then someone is going to have to prove the flaw in the process.
              This can be done – but it’s going to require an audit, whether or not it requires a trained auditor. So someone is going to have to spend their time looking over everyone’s shoulder until they figure out that the llamas are showing up as green instead of brown when the sales force enters the serial number on the machine that Bob installed the shareware office product on, because they hate word. Then IT can fix the issue.

    4. RandomU...

      It sounds like there may be a disconnect.

      You: The end user of the report that you find errors on
      IT: Most likely wrote the code and manages the job that pulls the data from the systems
      Missing piece to the puzzle: Origin of the data- The people who input the information into the system

      There’s an old saying about data “Garbage In = Garbage Out” I think you need IT’s help to find out where the data is coming from, and fix the source.

      1. CMart

        That’s kind of my issue I think — we go to IT every month and ask “can you find out where this came from/what went wrong?” and they just point fingers/blame the crappy system and don’t act as the intermediary between us (end user about 20 steps removed from the data origination point) and the source. Just “well they messed up, you should do a one-time entry to fix it”.

        1. RandomU...

          At that point it is on you to go back to the end user organization and let them know that they are doing it wrong and correct it from there. I mentioned above, but will expand here. Instead of lobbing things between you and IT, I’d get them to work with you to correct the source. They shouldn’t necessarily be the intermediary but they can and should help you to work with the other groups you need to.

          1. CMart

            I’d say 10% of our issues are entry errors and 90% seem to be “systems not talking to each other/load errors”.

            If I’m explaining this poorly it is because I do not know anything about systems, haha. I know the names of the systems, and kind of which direction the data should flow. My “team” that I work with has at least one manager-level representative from all of the systems in question. So when Invoice System 1 loaded things to Management System and the data got garbled inbetween, IS Manager and MS manager argue about whose fault it is and then just turn to Finance and say “just make a manual entry to what it should be”.

            1. RandomU...

              This is a little different than what I was thinking. Yeah, there’s not going to be an easy answer on this one, and it’s probably going to need to be a fight for your boss.

              Generally speaking the ‘owner’ of the problem in what you described would be the second system. In other words if the IS manager can prove their data is correct and it’s a problem only when loaded into the Mgmt System. Then it’s up to the MS manager to figure out how to get the data loaded correctly.

              The reality, anything and everything can be fixed with enough time and money, but the business has to decide if it’s worth it. The answer might be that it’s more efficient and cost effective for you to continue to manually fix the problems you find.

              1. CMart

                Yeah… 20 hours of my Peon salary spent on this every month is likely magnitudes cheaper than upgrading and transitioning our MegaCorp systems!

            2. TiffanyAching

              It sounds to me like there might be some disconnect in expectations of whose responsibility it is to fix these things. If you are thinking IT should be fixing issues, but IT is under the impression you should be fixing things, that could lead to the run-around. It might be worth getting your and their managers involved just to get some clarity around who owns what.

              For the system I manage, when bad data comes it it’s my responsibility to fix the individual data point(s) in my system, and then I let IT know. They are then responsible for trying to figure out why the error happened, and preventing it going forward.

              1. Patty Mayonnaise

                To me, it sounds like IT knows they are responsible for the problem, but can’t decide amongst themselves what the solution is, so they ask OP to enter more data as a workaround (which does not solve the systemic problem, resulting in this being a problem every month).

        2. Qwerty

          Can you push for a bigger picture meeting/plan on how to fix the system. Calling it a plan to upgrade or update the system might go over better than “fix”, because it carries less of a blame aspect. Avoid letting anyone focus on blame and instead look to the future about how to improve the system to make it (1) easier to track down data inaccuracies and (2) more reliable integration between the multiple systems.

          I realize that these are mostly tech-related steps, but here’s how I would go about this:
          (1) Document the existing system(s). Get a diagram of how everything is connected
          (2) Improve the logs of the systems so it easier to track the flow of data. This way you could send them a request for all data relating to Order 123 and they could extract those lines from the logs.
          (3) If possible, add Audit tables to the database that track each of the changes to an order, along with who made the change and what system they were using. This will help identify if it is a person or a script/import process which is causing the majority of errors
          (4) Start updating the systems with the most issues. Keep the tasks small and focused so that it is easier to implement. Think in terms of taking small steps to reliably improve the data flow, instead of taking on a mountain of a task all at once and risk it falling apart.

    5. Yorick

      IT at my job is pretty similar, and I have the same frustrations. They go as far as to realize that it’s the data entry process and not a bug in the coding, and then they don’t care because it’s “not their problem.” And they refuse to build us a database that won’t let people do things so wrong.

      I don’t know what to do about this at all, but I’m interested in hearing what other commenters say.

      1. Nicki Name

        What kind of refusal is it? Is it “we don’t have the time”? “We don’t have the people”? “We could do that but it’s so far down our priority list that it’s not happening”? For any of those, you are dealing with an under-resourced department and a conversation about getting it done will have to be about other things that won’t get done instead. And maybe management has had that conversation, and decided that priorities will not be adjusted and additional resources will not be provided.

        Is it impossible for technical reasons? Well, just about anything is eventually technically possible if you do enough upgrades, but maybe the needed upgrades are facing the same problems as above.

        OTOH, if the reason is “it’s not our job” or “we don’t see the business case for it”… that can usually be solved by getting upper management sufficiently interested. Though you may find one of the reasons further above hiding under it.

      2. A Non E. Mouse

        And they refuse to build us a database that won’t let people do things so wrong.

        I know this is going to sound defensive, being in IT, but at least where I work and have worked, IT doesn’t decide what gets built, replaced or upgraded.

        *The Business* does – IT just does the job.

        For example, we complained bitterly for years about our aging network infrastructure, numbers and downtime stats and all. Our end users blamed us for the problem, but *until the business decided to spend money on it*, we couldn’t do anything to resolve it.

        In your case, I would suggest the business owner raise updating the database to not accept errant code as a project. It’s a *business* problem that can be solved with IT help.

    6. Indie

      Who is entering the data into the system? What you are describing may not necessarily be an IT problem. I have seen very often end users enter the wrong data (especially when it comes to descriptions) and them log it as bug in the system. That being said, the system may be offering way too much freedom and people are just entering whatever looks good at the moment. Or the system can be too restrictive and people are just selecting whatever is the closest to what actually needs to make it in. Or the system can actually have defects in how it’s treating data once it’s inside.
      So if you are facing the exact same problems every month, try first sitting with the people that are actually doing the data entry to figure out which situation it is. If it’s one of the first two, this is not really an IT problem and some training may be needed.

      1. CMart

        From what I can tell, it’s nearly always a system issue and not a data entry issue. Pretty much everything is automated (pulling attributes and standard costs from serial numbers, sales and discounts from invoice numbers) and then something gets borked in the various iterations of the system loads.

    7. Spouter of Gibberish

      Request that an IT rep attend your monthly meetings. Develop a relationship with that rep. Identify that rep as a member of your “extended team”. Praise that rep to their supervisor when that rep helps you out.

      All hands, one team.

      1. CMart

        My monthly meetings are exclusively with the IT reps – manager-level people for each of the different systems involved.

        1. Nicki Name

          Oh goody, systems with different managers. That’s not always the case. Do they all report to one unified IT super-manager, or are they reporting to their individual plant supervisors?

        2. A Non E. Mouse

          manager-level people

          Honing in on this – my manager doesn’t have any idea how some of our things work together. Not from disinterest, but from not being in the trenches for a long time.

          Is it possible that the right people just aren’t in the room? Could you ask that the manager bring their “Outdated System X” technical expert with them to the next meeting?

    8. Admin of Sys

      I think it depends on a few things, including what the actual root cause is. If the furless llamas are created because the people creating the inventory forgot to check fur color – well, technically that might be fixable with code, but said code might be months of implementation and work, where-as the folks entering the inventory learning to check the appropriate fur color box takes 5 minutes. And if you’re presenting them with the issue of ‘the llamas don’t have fur’ and they’re responding with ‘if you delete them and reenter them correctly, they’ll have fur’ then that’s completely legitimate. Mind you, the 3rd time that happens, the response from IT should be ‘we’re going to make it so you have to enter fur color or you can’t submit the llama entry, because this keeps coming back to us.’ (But that assumes they’re capable or making the system do that, which may not be possible if it’s not home-built software)

      It’s also possible that the request for the source of the issue is because they can’t get it to happen in test. If they follow procedure on a test system and can’t get the problem to occur, then the problem may not be in the system. If the application keeps breaking for specific people/things but not other people, an IT tech doesn’t really have much choice other than to ask what that person is doing differently. The techs don’t know how the team is entering the sales data or the inventory or what procedures are being used to audit the fur color entries – they know that if they enter a llama with brown fur, it processes correctly. (note: I am assuming that the techs aren’t the ones generating and adding the data – if they’re uploading the inventory, and half the llamas don’t have fur after the import, then they should be capable of looking at the data source and pinpointing the fur color problem. But if the warehouse is importing the llama data and then coming back to the techs saying there’s missing fur, but insisting the data is valid? Then it’s going to be harder for the techs to figure out what’s wrong with the data.)

      As to them asking you ‘how to fix it’, this may be a request for what you want to focus on.
      If the issue is with the llama fur color, you can a) train your data entry folks b) have the coders to force the llama fur color box to be checked or c) have them spend 3+ months fixing the back end system so it doesn’t require the llama fur color and/or automatically audits said fur color. Mind you, they should be able to give you the root cause, but many IT teams are basically told not to allow people to be the stated problem – so ‘the llamas are chartreuse because that’s how they were entered’ may not be something they can say in your company culture.

      All that said, it’s also possible the problems are with the back-end system, the back-end system is in-house written, and that your IT team either doesn’t know how to troubleshoot things, do quality control and root cause analysis; or that they’re forced to support an app that’s locked down and horribly written.

      But in either case, a fix might be to present the issue a bit differently. It may be useful to go your boss and the IT boss and say “we’re spending x amount of time fixing llama inventory and I feel like that’s not a good use of our time. Can we look at implementing a system to keep the errors from occurring, regardless of how they’re being caused?”.

      1. CMart

        Thank you for this! It’s good insight to have about the things happening beneath the surface. All I see are my IT contacts going “yep there was an error in our system but Other System borked it somehow. Instead of us figuring out why it happened, you just do a manual entry.” So on the face of it they just look petulant and like they don’t want to actually do work. But I also don’t know how any of the systems work really! What seems simple and obvious to an outsider is rarely such, for most things I think.

        1. DataGirl

          It’s also possible that it’s just not a priority for them. They may recognize that improvements could be made but if they have 100 other requests from other departments or things that upper management has said are organizational priorities, that they can’t fit it in. IT where I work is like that- if it’s not on the ‘to-do’ list before the year starts, it won’t even be talked about until next year.

          1. Alice

            Here too. And I get it — but I do grind my teeth when I get their newsletter about how they are so “responsive” and “customer-centered.”

          2. EinJungerLudendorff

            Though I would argue that if that is the case, IT should communicate that your problem is indeed theirs to fix, but it’s a low priority so you will have to use workarounds for now.

        2. B'Elanna

          I work as a data warehouse developer, and we run into this now and again. A person will call me up saying that a report is “wrong”. I typically go in, and determine whether the data matches source.

          If it does match source, I’ll tell them it’s an error with the way the data was entered, and to speak with who ever is in charge of entering the data. If the data doesn’t match, OR we are missing data, then I assume it’s something wrong on the IT side, and investigate it further.

          If there is bad data coming in, and they want IT to help find a solution… that is possible, but it’s a conversation that someone needs to start.

      2. SignalLost

        I haven’t worked with databases for a while, but I think that you’ve got a piece of it. To my recollection, you generally should be able to set certain fields to “required” but keep them out of the primary key. To take a different analogy, since llamas have fur, let’s say you have the llama ranch in your system. In this example, you’re electronically transferring money, so you don’t NEED their physical address, but you do need to know they can supply llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas, but not camels. Or maybe you need to know city and state but not street. You may be able to set required on some of the fields, which will help with the data entry piece.

        But since data entry is only 10% of your problem … since your boss is frustrated, she may be able to authorize you talking to the vendors to find out what they can do about the data load issues. I realize you’re saying you don’t have the expertise to do that, so I’d loop in the other two systems if need be and get everyone in the room for that conversation. They may have solutions that your IT people aren’t aware of, since from their perspective, the system “works”.

    9. Nicki Name

      IT/software person here! As other commenters have noted, the first question is what kind of IT department you have and their relationship to the software. Are they there to just keep things running, or are they the people who write the software? If the former, you or some other not-IT person may need to take the lead in finding out the data flow.

      If they are the people responsible for the software: It’s normal and reasonable for them to ask you to verify that the wrong-colored llamas aren’t a data entry error. If you verify that Farm A is entering the llamas as brown, and they still show up in your central system as chartreuse, you can take that to them as a definite software problem.

      I do see one obvious system improvement you should be asking for: If the serial number already indicates what color the llama is, it should not allow anyone to set the llama to any other color. If the system requires the color to be entered separately, it shouldn’t. It should be able to figure it out from the serial number. (Or, it should construct the serial number based on the llama color rather than requiring the serial number to be hand-entered.)

      An underlying dynamic to all of this is that IT departments that write software for internal use, rather than as the company’s product, are traditionally starved for resources. Any chance to push back on something as not a bug, or not clearly defined, is likely to be taken because of that.

      1. CMart

        Using the serial number dictating attributes – that’s usually why it’s a thing to bring to IT rather than me calling up the accounting department at the plant and going “who put in the llama invoices this month?”. It shouldn’t be able to be wrong! So when it is wrong it means something is broken somewhere.

        1. Admin of Sys

          Oh, hmm – yeah, if the data constraints aren’t working, that’s more likely an issue with the back end system, but it may not be am easily fixable or diagnosable one, especially with the interconnectedness you described in an earlier post. Alas, It may still be on you or someone not in IT to trace the issue if you can, but more because you know what color the llamas should be. If you can pinpoint the fact that the problem tends to occur the 3rd week, or always with 3 toes llamas and never with the donkeys, etc, the extra data may be helpful for the backend folks? Because they’re not going to be able to see the problem happening unless they know enough about the system to know that the llamas should never be green.
          Also, a system that’s duct taped together is going to end up being a rube godlberg machine of processes – they should be able to figure out that the color and serial number aren’t matching up, but being able to trace /where/ those two things interact may be near impossible.
          (Not that they shouldn’t try – I feel like I’m being a bit too supportive of your IT team without much background, so let me reiterate – it’s entirely possible they don’t want to do the auditing or don’t have the skills to trace the data. Root cause is something that should happen! Especially with things like data matching! But they also may just be doing their best and need a ton of data thrown at them to get anything useful out of it)

        2. Nicki Name

          “So when it is wrong it means something is broken somewhere.”

          Not necessarily, from an IT perspective. What matters to IT (because this is what it will get beaten up by auditors about) is whether the system is working as *specified*, which is not necessarily the same as working in the way a reasonable person would assume it should.

          If it is a specific requirement that the system should only derive colors from serial numbers, or vice versa, then what you have is a bug. But if the system was written to a requirement that it should accept whatever arbitrary input is entered for both color and serial number (which is reeeeeeaaaaallllly common in legacy systems written for workers who don’t really trust electronic systems to get anything right), then it’s working as intended and the problem is with the person doing data entry.

          What you’re asking for may be a system change rather than a bug. And if it’s a change, be prepared that you may have to fight the people at the plant who think the system works just fine.

          1. Admin of Sys

            eh. I mean, yes, the ‘acting as designed but designed badly’ isn’t a bug in the coding sense. But it’s still an IT issue that needs resolved (assuming it’s home grown software. If it’s purchased, then yeah, that’s unfortunate and folks get to build a process around a badly written ui)
            But I also don’t like it when badly designed software gets setup as ‘not actually a bug’. If I build software that can end up with inaccurate data because a user can enter conflicting data in two different areas then I have a bug. It may be a bug in my form design or in my UI, but it’s still a bug. Just because the backend logic works does not mean the application as a whole does.

    10. KR

      So I’m kind of on the other end, not IT but the person making the transactions. I know a lot of time our accountants will flag something for us and want to know why it is, why it’s showing up like that, it’s not right, something’s up – and for me I end up having the response of “I’m sorry, I don’t know why the report says that, I did it right on my end and I can’t fix it for you, you just need to make a journal entry to fix it.” I know it’s not ideal and I want to help… But I just don’t know why the program is doing what it’s doing. I know that doesn’t help, just another perspective. I think what would help is recording a few instances where this has happened to you and having a higher level meeting with the most helpful or qualified person with IT you deal with (or someone with the authority and time to make changes) and point out the overarching issues and ask them to come up with a solution because this is not your wheelhouse. I have had luck phrasing it very plainly like, ” I do not have the knowledge or know-how to fix this and this isn’t my area of expertise. I need *you* to handle this or find a solution to this.”

      1. Nicki Name

        I think that’s the best thing you can do as an end user. If you have a documented pattern of “KR entered X for this thing, but matching it up with CMart’s report shows it as Y”, that is all the info your IT group should need to enter a bug ticket in their tracking system. (Or, if it’s third-party software, for whoever is responsible for configuring that software to go check it out.)

    11. Kat

      Are you me?! Omg I feel you! I think your expectations are totally normal! That said, I work at a job where we use a very old oracle based database that hardly any of the new programmers (who mostly create reports in java) don’t understand the relationships between tables in the database and don’t understand where data comes from.
      So I have to spend a lot of my time doing the same thing: find anomalies then figure out where the errors came from and where the data should come from to fix it. If I don’t do this then the problem won’t be fixed or the IT staff will fix that problem and cause two more because they don’t understand the database.

      That said, I don’t think this is a finance vs IT difference in mindset. Because when I was studying accounting my curriculum included systems courses where we were taught that IT is supposed to do the work to understand what the user (finance) wants and make what they want. Unfortunately this seems to be a what I learned in school vs how things work in the real world discrepancy.

      But I’m hopeful that it’s not like this everywhere!

    12. Sam Foster

      Long time IT worker here: I’d bet my last dollar you aren’t talking to the right IT people and even then it’s highly unlikely to be part of IT’s job to help you solve the issues you are experiencing. Administrators, even database administrators, are, GENERALLY, responsible for the maintenance and operation of equipment and software. What is done with or to those systems is generally outside their control. Even if it is an error in code or systematic transformation it is very unlikely that they will be able to solve it without the help of multiple resources which leads to my suggestion: Write up the problems you are experiencing, the costs in time and money that it is costing the company, and talk to your manager about how to get the information to the appropriate parties to identify who it needs to be assigned to for fixing. The solution will likely require people and skills from multiple teams who will have to be ordered to prioritize it. Good luck!

  12. Doug Judy

    I’m two months into my new job and I really like it. Tuesday I made a pretty big error, and the person quality checking it missed it as well. Fortunately I caught it and fixed it before it cost the company thousands of dollars, it ended up only having an impact of $100. Everyone was kind about it and like “It happens, you made yourself accountable and corrected it.” Refreshing change from previous employers who would make a huge deal about it and treat me like I was an idiot.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Good for you for selecting a good new employer!
      Think about it this way… is anything a “huge deal” after the £22 billion mistake that hit the news (gulp) 10 years ago. (Link in my next comment for anyone who wants to feel better about a $5k mistake.)

      1. Doug Judy

        Thanks. I asked a lot of culture questions in my interviews with them and other companies. I made it clear I was looking for an organization that understood that 1. People have lives outside the office and 2. People occasionally make mistakes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable and intelligent.

        So far my new company has fulfilled both items so far. No place is perfect, but not being hassled because my kid dares to have a dental appointment or a typo was made has made a huge difference on my mental health.

        1. A Reader

          That’s a great point about asking about culture questions! How did you word it, exactly, when you were interviewing? I have asked about work-life balance, but I am curious about how to go about asking “So, do you scream and yell if someone makes a mistake?” without wording it that way.

          1. Doug Judy

            I’d ask something like “How do you recognize accomplishments and how do address things when inevitable mistakes occur.” That way it seemed like I wasn’t just asking about the negative, because how they handled successes was important as well. A lot of places had no idea how to answer the question or gave a very generic or vague answer.

            The place I ended up gave a great answer on how the succeed and fail as a team. If an error happens it’s addressed on how to fix it and what can be learned from it, and then they move on.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame

      Glad you have a sane employer, and congratulations on catching it and fixing it. I have a lovely colleague who us still shy about telling us issues because of an abusive former boss, it makes me so angry on her behalf. She’s getting way better at it though, and in general is blooming.

    3. ArtsNerd

      That’s great! I’m overstretched right now and missing some (not-crucial but also not-trivial) deadlines and making lots of errors. A prominent misspelling made it through print and proofs and to our donors, for example. But my colleagues are so understanding and supportive — and with the print error they’ve pointed out that they all looked at the proofs and missed it themselves.

      It’s a huge change from my early career where I felt solely responsible for everything that went wrong and I’m still so grateful for it.

    4. WalkedInYourShoes

      I am at a company where the culture is looking at little mistakes and making it a bigger deal than it is. My employees are so unhappy and I am too. So, you are so lucky! I will ask future employers how they address mistakes. I don’t want to get into another company like mine again.

  13. Legal Rugby

    My wife and I both work for the same employer, and they are incredibly supportive of families and time off as needed. We are currently in the process of becoming foster parents – our county has all of two families without placements right now, so we imagine it will happen relatively quickly when it does. Has anyone had to talk to their bosses about this, or have any advice on how to handle time off requests, etc when dealing with co workers? My boss’s boss knows because she is the VP of HR and she walked me through some of the handbooks provisions that cover foster kids. She told me she would let us handle how to tell our bosses, although she did indicate she was happy to help us rehearse those conversations.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is under FMLA , it includes adoption and foster children placement. Approach it like if you had to ask for time off for a sick child, it’s an urgent life matter! I don’t know why it should be such a rehearsed conversation. It’s simply “We’re in the process of taking in a foster child and we may get a call any day now, how is the best way to navigate this when it happens to leave as minimal impact as possible?”

      1. NJ

        One thing to know regarding FMLA for adoption/foster placement is that if you both work for the same company you are entitled to 12 weeks between the two of you, not 12 weeks each.

        1. She's One Crazy Diamond

          Also, check state laws to see if there is a statewide family leave act that gives you more rights than FMLA. For example, my state has one that covers in-laws, grandparents, and grandchildren, and forces companies to give spouses 12 weeks each if they work at the same company. But I am not sure how common that is.

    2. female-type person

      Also, if your employer is large enough for FMLA, employers may, but do not have to, agree to intermittent bonding leave (which is what you REALLY need for the six million appointments you must take foster children to). You may be in a position that you are allowed to take a block of time, but not a day here and a day there.

    3. The Fosters

      I told my boss in a low key – this is what is happening in my life sort of way. We are becoming foster parents – I’ll need some form of leave at some point in the near future. I’ve spoken with HR and I’ll keep you in the loop.

      Some people have a lot of follow up questions. Some people have none at all. Personally I don’t mind telling people about the process (not the specifics of our placement situation of course) but generally this is how foster care works in our county.

      Good luck with it all!

  14. What’s with Today, today?

    My husband works in a professional field and has been finalizing a somewhat contentious deal. Yesterday, the person on the opposite side of this deal called and left him a voicemail that said, “I received the forms you sent over, and uh, Mr. Today, or whatever your name is, I’m going to need you to call me…”

    She used his correct name and just racked that on to the end. He’s communicated with her numerous times in person, on the phone and via email and this person has been downright unprofessional and rude the whole time. I’ve gone into the office to grab something, and have over heard him on the phone being with her, being professional and calm and I can hear her yelling through the phone! It makes me fume. That’s all, just a vent.

    1. WellRed

      Weird, but I’d chalk it up to a momentary brain cramp. She’s probably embarrassed she did this.

      1. What’s with Today, today?

        I’d give her that benefit if I hadn’t heard her screaming through the phone at my husband in the past, and if she hadn’t behaved similarly on other occasions. I don’t think this person has any grasp on professionalism.

    2. NACSACJACK

      Your husband is the kind of person I aspire to be. When some one is attacking you and your work, its hard to not to respond in kind. Those that can do so, get ahead.

    3. MissDisplaced

      Urg! I hope it’s worth it to the company to have their business. Talk about ‘taking one for the team.’

    4. Triplestep

      Sounds like an attempt at a power play to me – a failed one. She’s trying to make him feel that he’s too insignificant for her to bother to get his name right. Doofus. She can’t even power play correctly! Try not to feel bad – your husband with all his coolness and professionalism has it all over her and she knows it.

    5. ginger ale for all

      Some people can’t remember names when they are upset. My mother called me brothersnamethenmyname when she was mad at me and then called him mynameandthenhisname when she was upset with him. It got worse when we got dogs. So it isn’t about him most likely, it is just a quirk of hers.

      1. What’s with Today, today?

        Everyone’s parents/grandparents do that. Business associates typically don’t. I agree it was about her. I don’t believe for one moment it was accidental.

        1. A Reader

          I agree, especially as she said his name correctly, then added “Or whatever your name is.” If she’d just called him “Mr. Tomorrow” instead of “Mr. Today,” I could see chalking it up to a brain fart. I’m sure we’ve all slipped up and accidentally called someone the wrong name! But adding that last part is just downright rude, and that’s not even getting into all the previous interactions with her.

  15. SOAS (NA)

    Last Friday of tax season.

    So so so much to share and process but no time/energy to really get through it.

    I am so looking forward to the end of it, more so this year than past years. 80+ hours to go

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        From listening over the shoulder of friends in accountancy… a big part of the stress they’re having is calming down people who missunderstood the tax system overhaul. So many of their customers said “WOO HOO my taxes went down” — and spent all of their takehome paycheck. Now they’re angry that they aren’t getting a refund, or heaven forfend might have to pay more. The person who stands in front of them takes the brunt.

        1. SOAS (NA)

          It’s funny, on my end it’s not really as much clients. They’re pretty consistent and most of them are are generally aware of the new rules.

          I’m having more staff issues, and holy hell some of them are just SO BAD, like do you know how bad you have to be to be let go in the middle of the season? yet we can’t let them go or transfer them, we’re stuck with them.

          One of them is a total jerk to clients — yells at them to call their congressperson to change the law. Gives the wrong information. Another one, the client said they don’t want to work with her and the preparer literally harassed them via email.

          1. Iris Eyes

            Seems like that could be an issue caused by a much smaller pool of people who are available for seasonal work? With unemployment low and the tax profession in general aging I’d imagine that there are more issues with bad eggs and having even less option to replace them.

            1. Nervous Accountant

              2 are permanent (have had serious issues with them before) and 1 is seasonal. I actually want to be more involved in the hiring aspect of it as opposed to just training. I am hoping to see how things pan out

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          For us, one of the big drivers has been the number of publicly-traded companies that did last-minute reclassifications for the year. It delayed a ton of tax reports for us, and our clients (predictably) went ballistic.

          What’s worse, a delayed tax document or a prompt one that then has to be amended because XYZ Inc didn’t make up their minds until the end of March???

          1. SOAS (NA)

            I hate amendments. I want to do it right the first time.

            Had a client this season who reviewed the return. Signed off on it. And minutes later sent over his W2s. We amended free of charge, but then had the nerve to be verbally abusive.

      2. SOAS (NA)

        The new laws I’m guessing.

        On a good note, this has been a relatively less stressful tax season. No stupid health related things like last year. In fact, most of the drama has been at work and in a different way than in previous years.

        End is finally here, so excited!

    1. Miss Vaaaanjie

      I’m not a CPA or accountant with overly complicated returns, but I’m a IRS VITA tax center manager and it’s been quite an uphill battle. Our clients aren’t likely to understand their taxes, witholdings, have investments, are small business owners, and almost all rely on EITC and CTC for their annual financial infusion. I started the year before ACA was implemented, then software change in 2017. Thankfully we have awesome returning volunteers (many retired CPA’s, business accountants, and big brand preparers) to muscle through the drama.

      It’s really hard when a family with a low income and couple of kids disagree on their refund, question our ability to do their return, don’t e-file, take their return to a paid preparer and spend bucks to file (and find out we did it right) but because they can get their refund ‘early’ they do so and we lose out on the client (and it affects our numbers and future funding).

      We’ve been in ‘ABCD’ mode – Always Be Closing the Deal and this weekend is going to be freaky

      1. SOAS (NA)

        Hi! I got my start as an IRS VITA tax preparer and that’s what led me to my path! Loved hte experience. Totally hear you on the clients. In our center, we had to be very strict about the types of clients we took just for fear of mystery shoppers and pulled funding.

  16. D.W.

    I will be heading out on maternity leave next week and HR requires that I complete my annual performance review before I leave, as the review and promotion period will be happening while I’ still out.

    My manager approached me about a promotion on Wednesday, from Llama Grooming Associate to Llama Grooming Project Specialist, but the job description is still be finalized, and it’s a role that is basically being created for me. She was very clear that my current workload will not be diminished, so I will have my current responsibilities, plus the responsibilities of this new role, if I accept.

    We will meet next week to discuss and finalize. I have compiled a list of additional questions for clarity on the role. Even though she has told me I will be expected to do two jobs, what is the best way to phrase, “If I accept this promotion, I’d like to discuss back-filling my position to ensure my success in the new role.”? I’d also like to articulate that it’s important that people see me as X and not Y.

    1. Me

      There’s a distinction between doing two jobs and a job that requires similar duties plus more advanced ones. Where I work the latter is refereed to as an upgrade – the position itself changed and was upgraded.

      I think it’s worth having a clarifying conversation about the additional duties and how you will be expected to juggle the increased work. Then if it appears like you will be doing double work and don’t feel it’s tenable, ask about the options to hire someone to do your old job or possibly a lower scaled position to handle some of your old duties.

    2. CM

      I don’t have all the details, but it sounds like this essentially boils down to you not wanting the promotion they just offered you under the terms they offered (which is fine). I think it’s important to be aware that that’s the stance you’re taking when you talk to them about it, and to be aware that you might not be able to negotiate terms that you DO want to accept. In the end, you may decide that they aren’t offering you anything you actually want and, if that’s what happens, mat leave is a good time to figure out your next move.

      With that in mind, I’d just tell them what the concern is. If it’s that you don’t think it’s possible to do both your current job and the new job, say so. If it’s that you were actually hoping to transition to a different type of work than your current job, say that. And then, whichever thing you say, follow up by asking if it would be possible to back-fill your current position so that you can focus on your new responsibilities.

      I am curious about the piece where it’s important that people see you as X and not Y. Is that because you’re trying to change fields to X rather than Y, or because people in your office treat X with more respect than they do Y, or something else? I ask because, if it’s a respect issue, or something similar, switching to X might not solve the problem as much as you hope it will.

      1. D.W.

        What the position actually is is one of my points of clarity. The way it is marketed is as a different line of work into the project management field, which is what we had previously discussed last year, so I’m not sure that an upgrade in responsibilities is the best descriptor. Or maybe that’s what they have in mind!

        In terms of X and Y, I currently function largely in an administrative role for my division, and this new role is managing projects in project supervisory role. I’d prefer not to do both for a clean transition.

        I would strongly prefer to maintain very little to zero of my current responsibilities. I’ve been doing it for three years now and I’m just done with it and ready to move on.

        1. valentine

          I’d like to discuss back-filling my position to ensure my success in the new role. […] I’d also like to articulate that it’s important that people see me as X and not Y.
          This isn’t on the table. This is a standard response to a different situation: employer wants to move you to X with no clear path for removing your Y (current) duties. I agree with CM. The offer is Z (Y+X), but you don’t want it. You can counteroffer for X, but be clear that’s what you’re doing. Framing it as SOP seems like you don’t understand the offer.

        2. bunniferous

          Not sure how long your maternity leave is,or whether this is your first experience with parenting, but factor in that adding a baby to the mix when you come back will certainly make it harder to transition. If it were me I would negotiate hard for what I wanted and prepare to job search while on leave if I did not get it.

        3. Boone9

          Speaking from experience going from administrative to project management, both together and then project management only but in the same department… People will always see you as administrative. It will sabotage you. I’m leaning hard on jumping out of a fantastic job because the admin perception won’t die. All else fails, take the combo role and leverage the non admin piece at your next company.

  17. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

    One of the OPs today reminded me of a pet peeve of mine, and I wanted to see if any other ladies, or guys, could weigh in… Warning. Rant Language Ahead.

    I absolutely HATE IT when a guy goes out of his way to open a door for for me. Or insists that I “go first.”

    I encounter this everywhere in my office building. For instance, the stairs. A guy and I will both head for the stairs at the same time, and he will stop and then say: “after you.” Bro…No! Just go! I don’t want you right behind me as I go up these stairs! Oftentimes, I’ll just smile and say “no, no, go head – I’m slow in these heels!” But I once had a guy say: “Oh I’m in no rush, go ahead.”

    At least once a week, a guy will hurry ahead of me to open a door for me (eek). Most the times I just sigh, say thank you and walk through. But once a guy held the door in such a way that I would have to walk right against him to get through. You know the move, where they hold the door with their whole body? For that one, I just planted my feet and said, “No, you go ahead.” And he argued with me (!?) for a few exchanges, before I said “I am not walking through the door while you are holding it.” And he finally left, looking at me like I was nuts.

    How do I deal with this backwards instinct? Especially in my office building. :/

    1. CMart

      If you can’t pick up your pace to get there first, and you see them rushing to get there, stop abruptly to check your phone, “sorry, you go ahead”.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I’ve done this too. Totally put down my laptop bag and look through it for something. There used to be one guy at another company who skeeved me out who would urge me in and say “I’ll wait!” I took great delight in “forgetting my glasses” and going back to the car for them. It was TOTALLY worth losing my early-arrival free cup of coffee from the cafeteria for that.

    2. Alton

      I really hate it, too. For me, it’s awkward on a couple levels. One, I think it’s sexist and awkward in general. Two, I’m non-binary, and it’s a really strong reminder that people perceive my gender differently than I do. Dysphoria overload.

      But it’s also discomforting how out of sorts men get sometimes if you don’t take them up on their offer, or if you try to open the door for them. I’ve had men act confused, mumble about being a gentleman, and outright insist that I accept and refuse to take no for an answer.

      I do find that most guys are good about it. The ones who make a big deal over it…I try to avoid them, honestly. Fortunately, I haven’t encountered situations where I had to interact with them regularly.

      1. Jin

        Solidarity on the non-binary front as I’m also trans and NB.

        I always try to hold the door for whoever’s behind me, if the distance is reasonable (a couple feet max) and regardless of gender. It’s interesting to note if/when a cis guy ever get his feathers ruffled over it, and I’ll admit I definitely used to enjoy watching a dude squirm over receiving the chivalry he so loves to dish.

      2. A Tired Queer

        Same hat! Same hat!

        I get that they’re trying to be polite, and I’m not trying to out-polite them or some shit, but they are definitely trying to out-polite me and then they give me that “Ladies first” shit and I’m like “Bro! My dude! I am literally already holding the door! Just! Go!”

        Ugh. Yes.

    3. Rhymes with Mitochondria

      I mostly don’t care if people hold open a door for me, but I do it for people all the time, too. My general strategy is to treat opening doors as a kindness that anyone can do for anyone.
      But when it makes me feel uncomfortable, like when a guy goes out of his way to make sure you’re walking up the stairs in his line of sight (dudes, that’s a creepy move and not a kindness!) I’ve taken to saying things like “Go ahead, I don’t like having people walking behind me.” or “It always makes me feel self conscious when people watch me walk upstairs.” etc. Speak that discomfort!
      But that move where they put their whole body in the way so you would have to brush up against them is THE WORST. I have turned and walked away. I won’t do it. (Again, dudes, we are on to that technique, and trying to force “accidental” contact is not cool. Ever.)

      1. Parenthetically

        Basically my whole thought. I’m a woman who holds doors all the time and has doors held for her all the time by both men and women, because it’s a kind thing to do for people who have their hands full. Maybe 20% of the time it’s a guy who’s obviously trying to be sort of aggressively chivalrous. I usually have my kid with me so I ALWAYS, regardless of the gender of the person, move aside so they can go ahead of me, because my kids is almost two and thus has no sense of where he is in relation to others or how long it should take to get up the stairs.

      2. Michaela Westen

        I haven’t seen the forcing accidental contact in a long time, if ever. I feel sorry for men who are so pathetic as to resort to that. There’s no one in their life who will give them a hug? Sad.

        1. Alexia

          They’re not doing it because they don’t have anyone to hug them. They’re doing it because it’s a gross power play to assert their dominance over women. They could be getting hugged for three hours a day and they’ll still take the opportunity to force women to endure physical contact as a way of making themselves feel like big strong men.

    4. DogsAndCats

      I don’t mind the door thing as much but I had an ex-boyfriend (ex for a reason) that used to unexpectedly startle me and poke/prod/slap my butt when I walked up a flight of stairs in front of him. I hated it so much and I used to get so anxious that he would do it that I still have a sense of panic when I walk upstairs in front of a man. I don’t even like walking up stairs ahead of my own current boyfriend, who I love and trust and who knows about this issue and would never do it. I never know what to say when male friends/colleagues/strangers want to follow me up a flight of stairs without offending them. Usually I don’t actually think they’re about to assault me but the psychological reaction and discomfort is still there.

      1. Just bleargh

        I hear you. I also found that if you do say something as reasonable as, “Hey, it startles me/throws me off when you grab at me while I’m focused on walking up the stairs safely,” those types can so often come back all offended. Like how dare you want to just be a person doing a person thing and not also there for their entertainment. Bleargh.

      2. Luna

        Ew to what your ex tended to do.
        I have huge issues with people touching me unexpectedly, even my mother will see that I tense up when she is a bit exuberant in giving me a birthday hug. But I especially hate it when people touch my butt. That is mine, you have no right to touch that without my permission. And I am the type to react suddenly and physically if someone’s physical contact startles me — your boyfriend would have been very likely to have received a kick or a turn-and-slap for doing that to me.

        I haven’t really noticed many men that insist that I go first when heading up stairs or that I go after them when heading down stairs, but the door thing can make me feel awkward. Please, just walk through the door and hold it, then let go when I hold the door open to go through myself. Thank you for not letting the door slam into my face.

        But I have had men who suddenly do the arm-above-me thing to hold the door, then tell me, who was holding the door open, to go through. Just go through, man. It’s not that difficult to do.

    5. Paige

      I feel you. Elevators are the worst–if someone is trying to be “chivalrous,” it usually ends up taking both of us longer to get out. Guys, we want expediency more than courtesy.

      I was also passing somebody on the sidewalk today, and he made a scooch-schooch gesture to command me to walk on the side farther from the street. Some guys are taught this–so that the lady is less like to get hit by a car, I guess? But I don’t think everyone is aware of this, and so I imagine plenty of women just find the urgent move-to-the-left gesture a rude “get out of my way” instead of a courtesy. :)

      1. Lizzy May

        The elevator is where I run into this most often. I get on at the top floor of my building. I’m am at the back of the elevator. The man in question will always be in front of me but somehow will want to wait for me to get off first. It’s not efficient and I just want to go home!

      2. Elaine

        I’m told the thing about women walking on the inside of the sidewalk is from the days when many streets weren’t paved and mud could splash on the person on the outside edge. It sounds plausible.

      3. Policy Wonk

        When I lived in Latin America I was told the woman always had to be on the inside. If she was on the street side she was “for sale”. If your scooch-scooch guy was from another culture, this might be the reason.

    6. Cercis

      You could go scorched earth and say “so you can stare at my ass as I walk up ahead of you? Yeah, you go ahead and go first.” But I don’t think that would go over well, even if you do have an ass that most people want to stare at.

      I’m still working on it. With men that I have a good rapport with, I’ll pull out that line, even though it makes me cringe horribly. Of course, right now, I’m cringing at a lot of the things I’ve said to men with whom I have a good rapport (have I encouraged them to think it’s okay to use “locker room talk” around other women, etc).

      I’ve also explained to men that it makes me self-conscious to walk in front of them because I’ve had men stare at me and make comments on my attractiveness or lack thereof. I explain that I know it’s my own hang-up and that #notallmen but that it’s a strong primal response and I needed them to respect it and walk next to me or otherwise follow my lead as to what they should do. But there’s a small number of men that you can do that with.

      One of the best I’ve come up with for the creepy men is a “oh shoot, you go ahead, I just realized I forgot something” and then when they start through say “oh, never mind, there it is” and follow them through. It makes me look a little ditzy, but prevents the creepy “brush against my body while you go through” situation.

    7. MarfisaTheLibrarian

      Oh, I LOATHE when people (usually though not always men) do the thing where they’ll hold open a door that opens away from the side of the doorway they’re on, so they’re standing they’re IN the doorway that they’re telling you to go through

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

        It’s the absolute worst thing. Memo to guys — it’s the OPPOSITE of helpful and gentlemanly!

        1. Parenthetically

          Makes me crazy! It’s INCORRECT, as well as unhelpful — if the door opens out, you should go through it, stand BEHIND the door holding it open, and allow the person with stuff in their hands to pass through! There’s literally a right and a wrong way to do it and they’re doing it wrong!

      2. KR

        Yes!! Or if you’re a petite person they’ll hold the door open and you’re expected to duck under their arm. Yuck!! And then they get mad at you when you have the audacity to insist they go through and stop holding up traffic.

        1. A Tired Queer

          Yes this! It’s like, I ain’t ducking under your stinky armpit so you can get politeness points, bro!

        2. A Reader

          UGH, this happened to me TWICE in the last two weeks! I am short, and the guys who were “helping” by holding the door were at least 6 feet tall. I don’t think they were being weird about it; I think they honestly thought they were being helpful and didn’t realize until right before I ducked under their arm how weird it was. I think I’ll just say with a smile “Thanks, but I am not walking under your arm.”

      3. Elizabeth West

        Guh!
        If I’m on the wrong side of the door and I want to hold it for someone, I just move. It’s not hard.

    8. CareerCat

      Ugh, me too!! And getting on/off elevators is the worst in my building. We’re all humans and it’s 2019 for frack’s sake; let’s just go about our business as equals and quit it with the fake deferential treatment. I’m waiting with bated breath to see if another commenter might have suggestions on how to combat this.

      Also, good for you for telling the door-holder you weren’t going to give him the cheap thrill he was looking for!!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I frequently carry a laptop … and if someone’s that close, I switch it to the side that will give me a buffer. I have definitely bonked someone doing that…once may have been bruise-worthy. And ever since I have claimed that as the “give me space” rational.

      2. Bostonian

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way about the elevators. I made a similar comment in the 5 questions post. It would be so much easier if everyone unloaded/loaded in order of proximity to the door!

      3. Apologies

        There’s also always the one guy who will hold his arm in front of the elevator door and wait for you to get off (or on). As if elevator doors don’t stay open long enough on their own?! It’s infuriating!
        Just a few days ago I managed to stand my ground and make him get off first. It was very satisfying. He was so uncomfortable.

    9. M

      Return awkward to sender. If you’ve already politely deflected and they’re still in your way, call it what it is.

      “You’re blocking the doorway. I’m not going to squeeze past you. Either go through, or get out of the doorway so I can.” Say it nicely, but name the behaviour, and let them feel bad.

    10. Yorick

      Ugh. I’m fat so I’m extra slow on the stairs, and a man in front of me will wait even though I’m only halfway up. Just go in! I can open the door when I get there in 5 minutes!

      One time I wasn’t sure if there was money left on my bus pass or if I’d need to use cash. So I wanted to go on the bus last because it would take longer. I had to basically yell at a guy before he’d get on the bus first. If I say, “you go ahead,” why wouldn’t you just go ahead?!

    11. Annie Moose

      I think you largely just have to deal with it. In most cases, the men are probably not doing it at you, it’s just an instinct for them because they’ve had it drilled into them from childhood. It may help to reframe it that way: they’re not trying to insult you, and they have no clue that you have strong feelings about it. Focus your feelings on traditional gendered rules of etiquette, if you want to focus it somewhere. Push back when you feel like it, but don’t feel like you’re “betraying feminism” or something on the days where you don’t feel like pushing back.

      In the specific cases of men who push back against your pushing back (it sounds like most react fine when you push back, it’s just a few outliers who have this extreme reaction or make it creepy), that is definitely more frustrating and anger-worthy! I don’t think there’s anything you can really do to stop this, other than pushing back firmly as you’ve done. And I think you gotta decide for yourself how much mental energy you want this to take up–you probably don’t want to spend all day, every day focusing on this stuff, right? It’s okay to dismiss these extreme guys as the dicks they are, rant about it if you’ve got female friends who understand, and put them out of your head. There’s a lot of microaggressions in the world, and personally I just get so tired and depressed when I focus on all of them. I have good friends I can let it all out with on occasion, but the rest of the time, I try not to let it rule my life.

      1. Workerbee

        I understand the exhaustion of all the things that need fixing. I’m heartened by posts such as T Boone’s downthread, where he’s retrained his brain on those drilled-in instincts.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood

      I hear ya. Last Friday I was heading out with my laptop backpack, my gym bag, and a knitting project. I was bulky. He stood there blocking the doorway to hold it open. I looked at him and said “I appreciate the offer, but you’re blocking the doorway. This laptop would bruise you.”
      I honestly didn’t pay attention to his reaction when he finally got out of my way.

    13. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Ugh, I’m right there with you on it.

      I’ve started making a campaign of always being the one holding doors for others at my job — for the people who are willing to treat it as a total ordinary non-gendered kindness, hey, I’m dishing out kindness and it’s great! And then for the guys who want to always be the one holding doors for women, I can at least mount a quiet and subtle challenge to the gendered door-holding thing. If they feel the need to make it weird, they can be the ones feeling weird about it, not me.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        YES! I hadn’t thought of it this way, but I am on your team. Some guy’s carrying a box, I grab the door for them. When they make awkward noises, I say brightly “I’m sure you’ll do it for me when I’ve got my hands full!”

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          Exactly. When I used a cane and doors could be very awkward depending on which way they opened, door-holding was appreciated. When someone has their hands full, it’s great! But do it as a non-gendered act of kindness, not “omg A Lady is here and must not soil her precious soft hands on the door!”

      2. Emi.

        We have a lot of airlocks where I work so I just let them hold the first door so I can sail through and hold the second. Some of my coworkers are clearly uncomfortable with this and that’s a big part of why I do it. :-]

    14. Kramerica Industries

      I absolutely hate this in elevators. I could be the only woman at the back of an elevator, but men would still try to insist I go first. On some days, I’ll try saying “you’re closer to the door, it’s easier if you go first”. Although on other days, I just want to scream “IT’S 2019. STOP IT.”

      Then there are the days where I might be in an elevator with a few men who don’t even say anything or signal. They just stand there looking at me until I walk out. So I stand there looking back at them with a confused look on my face until they give up and go first.

      1. T. Boone Pickens

        I’ve had to re-train my brain in terms of elevator etiquette especially when it’s just myself and a female. If we walk in at the same time, I’m always quick to select my floor first on the off chance we’re going to the same floor and if we are going to the same floor, I do my best to exit first, get my keys ready and show that I’m just another resident.

        Now for hotels, I’ve made the adjustment in that if it’s myself and a female (or even a group of females), I don’t even bother getting on with them. I just catch the next one.

        The door thing was always puzzling to me as I’ve held the door regardless of sex, everyone appreciates having the door held for them when their hands are full. I’m not gonna lie, it has been an adjustment for me as I was raised in a really old school etiquette environment (think standing for women when they leave the table).

        1. Workerbee

          Your willingness to take a step back (sometimes literal!) and think is deeply appreciated. It’s not easy at all to overcome ingrained rules.

          1. T. Boone Pickens

            I appreciate the kind words. It’s been a hard adjustment trying to re-wire my brain after 35+ years on this earth.

      2. A Simple Narwhal

        Yaaaas this. It frustrates me to no end when someone closer to the door in the elevator insists on hanging back and letting me go first. I know it comes from a good place, but it annoys me to no end, like they’re seeing me as a lady first and a human second. I’ve actually tried standing towards the back of the elevator to make it less subjective (“oh we’re both close to the door”), but more than not I still end up having to step around the person in front of me.

    15. Mimi Me

      I HATE THIS! I don’t even like it when my husband or kids walk behind me on the stairs. I will literally stop on the stairs and wave my arm (the whole ‘go around’ motion) until whoever is behind me passes me. I did once have someone refuse to pass me and I accidentally (I swear it!) farted in his face as I made my way up the stairs. We were both horrified though he did laugh and say “well, you did tell me to pass you so that was on me”.
      I’ve dug my heels in about not passing people with the whole body door hold because it’s creepy, but honestly it doesn’t bother me if someone rushes ahead of me to hold the door open for me. I’m not hurrying my speed for them though. I hate the guys who rush to the door while you’re still some distance away and then stand there holding it looking annoyed that you’re not moving quickly. Nobody asked you to hold the door, I’m moving at my pace, and if you don’t like it, let the door close. It’s not like a woman is going to stand at the door wondering how on earth it opens. We’re fully capable of opening it if they let it go.

      Funny story about the whole body door hold thing. A few years ago I worked at a theme park in one of the many retail shops. At closing time we’d close the doors and one person would man the doors to let people out. One night it was this big guy – we’ll call him Hodor – and he did the whole body hold. Women, children, men…they all kind of slid past him sideways and he was totally oblivious to the fact that his large body took up a large portion of the space. Then an older couple walked through. The woman did a sideways walk and sort of did a little shoulder shimmy as she got in front of Hodor. There was a laugh. Then her partner walked through. He was big like Hodor and when he slid sideways past him their bellies pressed together. Not a touch or a glance…full on pressed together. The guy paused there and did one of those Sumo wrestler moves where he lifted one leg, then the other and then he wrapped his arms around Hodor and sort of lifted him up and out of the way. It was very awkward but funny at the same time. Hodor stopped door duty after that.

      1. Bostonian

        That GoT reference is doing double duty: Hodor as a large man AND someone who is known to hold doors….

    16. Middle School Teacher

      There was a twitter thread this week by a woman who talked about how not only is it awkward when men hold doors open for women and insist they go first, but it can be scary, especially if you’re in a hotel, or a large apartment building. It’s unfortunate but I saw her point.

      1. Rhiiiiiiannnnnnnon

        Yeah that’s honestly how I feel sometimes… “I don’t know you buddy, and I want to keep you in my eyesight, and not behind me. Please go first.”

        1. Elizabeth West

          OMG yes.

          Besides, if there’s a zombie at the top of the stairs, it’ll get him first.

    17. El

      Oh god, I HATE this. Or like when you’re awkwardly far away and they insist on standing there and holding it for you, which makes you feel like you gotta hurry up and get there!! I’ve taken to just looking at the sky/behind me/wherever I can to make aggressively clear that I don’t see the guy holding the door, and usually that makes them stop. Is that rude of me? Maybe?

    18. Eleanor Shellstrop

      Oh god, I HATE this. Or like when you’re awkwardly far away and they insist on standing there and holding it for you, which makes you feel like you gotta hurry up and get there!! I’ve taken to just looking at the sky/behind me/wherever I can to make aggressively clear that I don’t see the guy holding the door, and usually that makes them stop. Is that rude of me? Maybe?

    19. Sam VM

      IMO, the holding-the-door-for-others issue only crops up when people go out of their way to ‘perform’ it, especially men for women. Like your last example, that’s not manners, that’s a standoff! (and I am totally on your side here, there’s a difference between doing a nice thing for someone, rather than creating a situation where you insist on being acknowledging for the nice thing you did and making the interaction last way longer than it needs to).
      Personally, I would just briefly thank them and get on with it like you’ve done, and if one of them does the full body maneuver, tell them that it’s really not necessary in the future. Maybe if the chance comes up naturally (don’t do that weird sprint thing they’re doing , lol) hold the door open for them, just to highlight that this is just a considerate thing to do, not ‘chivalrous male’ behavior, but ugh how annoying!

    20. Qwerty

      I don’t recommend my way of dealing with it, which to eventually just get used to always being the one to go through doorways first. In an elevator behind a group of execs? They would all stand aside and insist that I exit first, despite it being *so much* less efficient. Another person arrived at a door or rounded a corner at the same time as me? They always would step aside and let me pass first. At some point it just took less time out of my day to accept it. Now I’m just used to having right of way all the time which is becoming awkward now that I work with normal people.

      Apparently I did make one person reconsider his perspective when he insisted that he was being “chivalrous” by responding “we’re all equals here”. He’s toned it down a lot since then.

    21. Zephy

      > I absolutely HATE IT when a guy goes out of his way to open a door for for me. Or insists that I “go first.”

      Here’s a thing that would happen all the time at OldJob. There was a hallway with a door in the middle of it, and a window beside it so you could see someone coming the other way. A typical interaction: Ladytype and Dudebro approach a door from opposite sides. The door opens toward Ladytype, and she reaches it first. The simplest thing would be for Ladytype to step aside and hold the door for Dudebro, because (1) she got there first and (2) it opens toward her, so she already has to stop and take a step back. BUT NO. Dudebro insists on awkwardly leaning over the threshold to hold the door for Ladytype, or walk through the door and then loop back around to hold the door for Ladytype.

    22. noahwynn

      FWIW, I had it drilled into me as a child by both my parents and society to hold doors open for women. I’m not that old either, only 34, but did grow up in the South which can lag behind on certain social changes like this.

      If I’m walking with a woman, my natural inclination is to open the door and hold it while she passes through. If someone said “you go ahead” though I was also taught it would be rude to argue and make the other person uncomfortable. “Good manners is the art of making people comfortable.” Over time this has changed in professional setting to where I might open the door, but I’ll walk through and kinda hold it open until the other person can grab it, same as I would do for a man.

    23. AshK434

      I’m a woman and I think it’s nuts when people are outraged when ppl are kind/polite to them. Maybe it’s because no one shows me these courtesies? (I’m black though so not sure if that play a role).

      1. M

        The thing is, in practice, it’s neither kind nor polite. I totally get how it can look that way when you largely don’t experience it, particularly when the reason you largely don’t experience it is systematic racism (and also: urrrrrrgh, that’s awful), so I don’t want to downplay that lived experience. When it’s a thing you see men do for white women and not for you, I completely understand how it’s easy to categorise it as “just another courtesy white women get that I don’t”.

        But in practice, what it means is men awkwardly getting in your way and insisting that you validate them as “good men”. It’s frequently extremely inconvenient – they’re literally standing in the doorway, they’ll awkwardly wait around even when you’re ages away which pushes you to hurry even if you don’t want to/can’t, it often actually makes it slower to get through the door. It isn’t actually *helpful* in most circumstances – I mean, all people able to do so should hold doors for anyone carrying lots of things, or using a mobility aid, or juggling small children, but that’s not what this is: it’s men selectively holding doors for women who are perfectly capable of using a doorhandle themselves. And it stems from some seriously patronising and paternalist assumptions about what the role of women is, many of which are – as your experience demonstrates – also pretty tied to internalised racist norms about protecting the “delicate white ladies”. And it isn’t usually a courtesy done without an agenda – it’s more awkward-outdated-male-flirtation than automated kindness, or they’d be doing it for everyone. All of that together makes it an unpleasant thing to be on the receiving end of – *particularly* in the workplace, where you don’t want to be seen as a fragile ornament to be carefully handed from protective male figure to protective male figure.

    24. Jaguar

      From the other side of this:

      I’m a man, and I’ll hold the door for everyone. I won’t rush in front of someone, but if I reach the door first, I’ll hold it for anyone else coming through and if a door opens towards me, I’ll wait and hold it for anyone else regardless of if they arrived first. Doesn’t matter the gender, age, ethnicity, mobility, or whatever of the other person is.

      The rudest a man has ever been is walking through the door without any acknowledgement (even looking anywhere at me), which happens now and then but infrequently. The rudest women go way past that into angrily snapping at me that I’m only holding the door open for them that I’m a woman (in one case, the woman was the second to walk through after the man right in front of her I held the door open – I guess the thinking is that held the door for him just so I could get to holding it for her?). It’s rare that it happens, but it does every now and then, and it’s always astonishing. And to be fair, even though it’s not relevant, the absolute nicest, kindest people also tend to be women.

      By far, most women (and most people) accept the kindness and, from all appearances, seem genuinely happy about the small kindness. I don’t envy the people that become angry when others are polite to them. I think you should try to stop letting this bother you.

      1. Cercis

        I’d suggest walking through the door and holding it open behind you and allowing the next person to take it and do the same. That way you’re not forcing people to walk past you, potentially having to squeeze in tight spots and you’re being more efficient with everyone’s time.

        Of course, if their hands are full, you should step out and hold it from behind, if possible.

        I’m a woman who does the door dance of holding the door open. I can’t count the number of times I’ve stepped behind the door to hold it open for someone with a baby carriage, or similar and then gotten stuck holding it for another 10 people, none of whom thought to push on it and take it on for themselves.

        If someone is holding the door for me, I’ll push on the door and say, “go on, I’m good” and I get annoyed if they insist on staying there. I have to wonder if they’re going to fall in behind me and follow me. I know that seems irrationally paranoid, but it’s a fact that a lot of women are followed like that and we exist in a world where men are basically (as I heard it described once) Schrodinger’s rapist and we need to be ever vigilant (which is absolutely exhausting, as you can probably guess).

    25. LuJessMin

      I hold doors open for people, and I like it when they hold it open for me. I also thank them with a pert “Thank you, sir/ma’am!” Personally, I think you are being rude by not just going ahead. Just go, it isn’t going to kill you.

      1. Workerbee

        Eh, I’d give a little empathetic leeway to the persons who don’t choose to accept the offer to go ahead; you never know what precipitating factors have formed their day/week/life.

        The key words I see in yours and Jaguar’s comments are “everyone” and “people.” It doesn’t sound like either of you are targeting a gender; you’re not doing this AT any particular subset of “everyone” or “people.” And I see neither a stampede nor performance art, nor expectation of a cookie or gold star. You’re equal opportunity door-openers and you get on with your day.

        All of which is a notable difference from the experience which a lot of commenters here and on other platforms have undergone and keep having to deal with.

        1. LuJessMin

          But it’s not like a man rushing to open a door for a woman is inherently a bad thing. Men (which the last time I checked are people, too) were raised/told/expected to hold the door open for women. It’s such a small thing to get upset about. Ignoring them or being rude to them reflects poorly on you, not on them.

          Now the elevator thing, I agree with you there, just get on the damn elevator already!

    26. Unicorn

      Maybe accept the fact that a lot of women are perfectly fine with the gesture. Most people I know, men and women, hold doors for people and let people go ahead of them into elevators and stairs and it’s considered polite.

      1. Hansa

        The key word there is PEOPLE. doing it for PEOPLE is fine. doing it for WOMEN BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN is not. This thread is about the latter. Your post appears to be about the former.

  18. wafflesfriendswork

    Does anyone here work in customer experience/customer care? I’m looking at a few startup CX roles that say they are looking for people who are willing to work some weekends and evenings, and I’m hoping someone could shed some light on the depth and breadth of this ask–I don’t mind one or two evenings a week, or every other Saturday in a slightly less traditional work schedule, but I don’t want to suddenly have a completely opposite schedule from the people I socialize with! My fiance has done freelance event and journo photography the whole time we’ve been together, so it’s been a lot of those kinds of evenings and it’s not been great (he just finished grad school and is looking for a regular 9-5 type job).

    Are my expectations out of line with reality? Am I asking for a bait-and-switch where they tell me it won’t be every weekend and evening and then end up with that schedule?

    1. L. S. Cooper

      I interviewed at a place for this, and while I’m not sure if they were accurate (didn’t end up accepting the offer), the customer care role would have been mostly during working hours, but they expected coverage during high-volume times, like Black Friday and the weekend afterwards.

    2. LCL

      I would ask them how many hours they expect to have you work, and how they will compensate you for extra hours. There’s a big difference between stacking work on top of a 40 hour schedule vs working evenings instead of days. Startups have a reputation for sucking the life out of there employees, it’s up to you if you want to risk it. If you are young and not supporting kids, and the compensation offered is good, it might be worth it for awhile.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Ask them.

      I would assume they have “seasons” and there’s a busy one. I worked in one where their busy season was the Christmas season, so they would make it clear there may be evening hours or a weekend shift for the warehouse to package things on time [not so much for customer service in that case but I could see processing orders being something that needs those extended hours!]

      It’s most likely to cover their butts in case they need to ask for weird shifts to be taking place but not necessarily a given.

    4. Me

      Assuming they have a website – look at what the customer service hours are listed as. If they say some, it’s probably a rotating schedule which is something you can ask. I don’t think bait and switch is terribly common.

    5. Agent Banana

      The best thing to do is ask. I work in CX for a utility and when I started we were required to do one Sunday a month and on-call rotations what meant we could be called in for mandatory 12 hour shifts at anytime. Shift bidding also happened every six months so if your stats were mediocre or below you might end up with a static shift that was in the evening or weekend.

      Again. Just ask.

    6. Turbovicki

      Hiya, former CX manager here. Depending on the nature of the role, you’re usually looking at some people who do work a Tues-Sat or Sun-Thurs schedule, depending. This can be beneficial for students, but not so beneficial for people who want a more Mon-Fri role (I know I do). As for evenings, this depends as well. We aimed for 24 hr coverage, but we had people located in different parts of the country to cover hours while we were asleep. I have seen roles that specify night shift, so the short answer to this long winded response is: Ask for clarity! If they stumble or act weird, they are almost certainly looking for someone who will be in a more permanent non-standard schedule role, so be wary of that. If you are going to ask someone to work non-standard hours for a long period of time, you need to be upfront about that.

    7. Hillary

      Who are their customers? If it’s primarily a b2b environment it’ll probably be mostly days with evening/weekend call, their customers probably aren’t working evenings unless something is on fire. If it’s b2c evenings/weekends will be much more frequent.

    8. alphabet soup

      My experience is that if you are available nights and weekends, that’s all you’ll get scheduled for, because it’s hard to find folks with that availability.

      1. KatieKat

        Definitely ask! You have some good answers here. where I’ve worked it’s been a mix so I thought I’d share:

        — people with permanent adjusted schedules (ie Tues-Sat)
        — people with normal M-F 9-5 schedules with mandatory after hours on call. Typically about one weeknight and one weekend a month, not working constantly but responding to urgent customer issues as they come in. Paid a flat rate for each day on call (something like two hours worth of their hourly wage) and then paid for any hours actually worked (usually at their overtime rate, since it’s past their scheduled 40).

  19. DC

    I’m currently struggling with taking enough time off to care for myself and try and recover a bit from my current burnout (and am lucky enough to have a boss that REALLY encourages time off), but am always feeling guilty at the time I’m taking off.

    How do you all handle these feelings?

    1. Alianora

      If you have a good relationship with your boss it might be a relief to talk to her about feeling guilty, just so you can hear her tell you why she encourages it. If I’m feeling uncomfortable or guilty about a mistake I made, being upfront and open about it can alleviate that.

      Not that taking time off is actually a thing to feel guilty about, but “confessing” may relieve your anxiety in the same way.

    2. Angwyshaunce

      With standard working hours, plus commute, getting ready, etc, work takes up nearly a third of our lives. Factor in sleep and life obligations, and that leaves surprisingly little time for ourselves. When I think about it this way, taking occasional time off seems very reasonable.

      I also have several time consuming hobbies, which are hard to squeeze in an hour or two in the evenings. So when I take a full week off of work (twice a year), I revel in diving deeply into my projects, and don’t spare many thoughts for work during that time, knowing work will be waiting for me in the very near future.

      Work provides the means to live a decent life, and shouldn’t prohibit you from living that decent life. At least that’s how I see it.

    3. Jemima Bond

      When a colleague says they are taking time off (sick, going on holiday, maternity leave), what do say to them? I bet it’s, gosh I hope you feel better soon, I’ll let boss know you called in/oh wow that sounds amazing, have s great time!/you must be so excited, get some rest before the big day, do send us a photo of Tangerina!
      I bet you don’t think to yourself, huh, what a skiver, letting the side down, how dare they.

      Give yourself a break – i’d bet my bottom dollar nobody thinks badly of you for taking time off.

    4. B'Elanna

      I find it’s helpful to remember that a good boss (which you have) wants you healthy and content. They don’t want burnedout people, and you’ll be much better at your job when you return.

    5. Buu

      Any good workplace schedules for PTO as part of a business cost. You’re doing your job by taking time off! My advice is to try and go away for a few days and don’t check your work e-mails. You don’t have to pack your schedule full but if you plan some things like ” go to the beach, go to that niche bookshop in holiday town”. Then you can hopefully create enough space between you and work to wind down, with enough low pressure goals that you keep yourself thinking about your holiday and no work.

      Your thoughts may slip to work occasionally and that’s OK, but consciously try and file it away and then focus on your holiday.

  20. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

    Hi Y’all,
    So I did it, I got me another job and I start on Monday!! The new company is established in my county, has been around about 30 years and is legit and above-board.

    And I do want to say that I can give most of the credit to AAM and the commentariat. Reading the comments here and taking the advice that works *for me* has enabled me to go into interviews with more confidence and not feeling….squeamish…about interviewing them. This now makes the second job I’ve gotten hands down by following the advice of Alison and y’all. Thank you so much for being here…and being kind. I wish more of the internet was like AAM.

    I am having a bit of an internal dilemma, though. I’m hoping y’all might have some sage words of advice for me on how to handle this situation as it is completely new to me. I have never ghosted an employer before and never thought I would find myself in this position. I am feeling awful about it!!! Like, I feel really, really guilty. I know I shouldn’t because if he decided to let me go without any notice he wouldn’t think twice about it. But my gut is all turned upside down. I know this is a step for the better (established company, plays by the obvious rules) but I really can’t help feeling bad that I am leaving them in a bit of a lurch.
    I am considering telling him I will work nights producing any estimates and working on the books as I have been, until he can hire someone else but I’m concerned this might leave me open for some kind of verbal abuse (he’s very reactive—if he gets it in his head that he is pissed at me, I could be subject to some verbal harassment). Aaaargh! Yet another reason to just cut the cord and not look back. But even knowing those things, I feel awful about handling this so unprofessionally. Flip side: nothing about this office is professional so why should I feel bad? Other flip side: but it’s so wrong to just walk out and not go back! I could do this all day long……does anyone have any advice for how I can stop beating myself up about this decision?

    (Sorry if this posts twice…it’s not showing up and I don’t think have any “flag” words in my post…..)

    1. WellRed

      I’m confused. On the one hand you want to ghost but on the other, you want to offer to work nights? Give notice like it’s a normal place and be prepared to leave immediately if they harass you in any way.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Unfortunately, I am scheduled to start the new place on Monday so normal notice isn’t possible. As I mentioned last week, this company has a lot of hinky stuff going on that I really don’t want to be involved in (I have enough going on with my whistleblower stuff from two employers ago). But I feel bad about leaving them in a lurch and am trying to find a way to make it easier on both he and I. (I just feel bad about leaving them in a lurch….that’s the only reason I’m talking about working nights.)

        1. MayLou

          I don’t think it counts as ghosting if you communicate to them that you are leaving and when. Quitting is not the same as just vanishing without a word, even with limited notice! What does your contract, if you have one, say? Is there a required notice period? If not, and if you are just in an at-will employment state, then don’t feel even the slightest bit of guilt. Your current boss sounds awful, and like he wouldn’t hesitate to leave you in the lurch if the positions were reversed.

          Be straightforward and honest: “I have a new position, I will be starting on Monday.” Don’t offer anything like working nights unless they specifically ask you, and make it worth your while – and I doubt they will do the second part of this…

          1. Michaela Westen

            If you think the company is doing shady things and you don’t want to be involved in it, I wouldn’t offer or agree to continuing to work for them. Move on into a better job with an honest employer, and don’t look back.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

              That’s what I’m gonna do. I just needed some clearer heads to help me think this whole thing out. I’ve been involved in some very strange employment scenarios down here in Floriduh so my sense of normal is skewed.

              1. Quandong

                I’m glad to hear that – your wellbeing is so much more important than trying to make this transition period easier for the company you’re leaving.

    2. Sara

      Hey there! Could you define what you mean by ‘ghosting’ in this context? Are you just not going to show up for work or are you quitting with no notice?

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Yeah, sorry, I guess I’m quitting with no notice. I plan on sending him an email this weekend telling him I won’t be back.

        1. Artemesia

          Yeah this isn’t good. You should have given two weeks notice and then totally blocked contact after that. If you can stand it, offering to assist the transition for a week or two might be worth doing but it is a bad idea to not be able to throw all your energy into the new job. The first two months on a new job you should be ready to go above and beyond and it just takes some time to ramp up and learn the new norms and practices — so distracting yourself with old job can hurt new job. Did you leave materials to assist the transition? If not, spending the rest of today doing that i.e. creating a file with passwords, filing secrets, status of current project, any unresolved issues etc etc and leaving that file on your desktop and also in your physical desk drawer so you can reference it in your resignation may help create less resentment. i.e. immediate resignation Plus. I have left a file titled ‘transition’ on my computer desk top and a hard copy in my top drawer that provides key information needed for transition in this position. It includes, passwords for my computer and X files, a list of the projects I was working on and their status at this time and where the names of the files on my computer, a list of routine activities I complete for the office each morning [maybe you get mail, or make coffee, or make sure the copier has paper, or order supplies — whatever someone will have to pick up] and two client issues that will have to be dealt with in the near future. The office key is in the file with the transition information.’ something like that. i.e. I gotta go but here is the information you need so this doesn’t inconvenience you. If at all possible make it a clean break so you can throw yourself into the new position (and never leave again without giving proper notice)

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            Well, to be honest, this is only the end of my second week. As I said in last week’s open thread, I had just started this job on 4/2 and there are a lot of hinky things going on (construction company with no worker’s comp ins., allowing unlicensed drivers to drive the company trucks, he hasn’t filed taxes since 2012, five company name changes in less than 10 years) and after the whistleblower job, I am just not interested in working for a company with this many problems.

            The notice issue is what is bothering me because I have never done this before but I have zero investment here (9 days working here total). While I would love to leave a file with transition documents, I am handicapped by the fact that I don’t know most of the passwords. The filing is handled by the bookkeeper who used to be in my position (and now only works nights) and she refused to train me last Saturday. I *literally* have almost no knowledge about things around here except for the files I created.

            So while I appreciate your concern about “never leave again without proper notice” it just isn’t possible because I haven’t even been here two weeks.

            1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

              If you have almost no institutional knowledge, then you have no reason to feel guilty about making a clean break. Do not offer to do any more work for them! I am highly suspicious from what you’ve said that this company is doing a lot of illegal things and you do not want to be caught up in any future investigations. I am a lawyer and I have done a lot of compliance investigations. Leave! Now. Don’t look back.

              1. Elizabeth West

                Yeah, if you haven’t even been there two weeks, don’t feel bad about it.

                DO NOT offer to work for them at night. If they ask, say, “I’m sorry, but I need to focus on going forward now. Thanks for understanding.”

                1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

                  After reading the comments here, I’m not going to offer that at all. And I’m going to do my best to just move on and not feel bad about it. Thanks for you advice!!! (I always like your comments, Elizabeth, because you sound a lot like me….)

              2. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

                After last year’s compliance nightmare with the startup that fired me for being a whistleblower, my radar was beeping almost immediately when I walked into this office. My blood pressure has been slightly elevated and I’m still recovering mentally from the clustershtupp last year. I so appreciate your input and advice! Thank you!

            2. animaniactoo

              9 days? Quitting without notice is fine. “This is not working for me, I’m sorry. I hope you manage to fill the position soon.” They’ll go back to juggling it exactly as they were before you walked in the door.

              That said…. if your new company is not comfortable giving you enough room to give notice to your old employer…. something is wrong with your new company. The only situation in which I can see that not being true is that you told them you were between jobs and had indicated that you were available to start immediately, and they need someone to start immediately.

              1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

                Well, the resume the new company was working off of was submitted to them before I got this job and I just never told them I was working so that’s kind of a “My bad.” I interviewed with them yesterday so had already made up my mind that I would bail on this job once I got an opportunity. Really, it was just a timing thing made to look worse by me because I didn’t have this job on my resume (and now I have no intention of putting it on there!).

            3. The Man, Becky Lynch

              I missed last week’s post…

              This guy is scummy and you just need to leave him in the dust. Seriously, don’t extend yourself to someone you’ve known all of 9 days!

              1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

                That’s what I’m going to do. The comments here have helped me wrap my head around leaving with no notice.

            4. zora

              yeah, no, these people are crazy and doing super illegal stuff.
              Don’t feel bad at all, they will deal. The bookkeeper knows how everything works, they won’t be left in the lurch on anything.

              Send the email, put it out of your mind, and move on with your life. Even if they are mad at you, it has no bearing on you, you aren’t going to want to work for them again or need a reference from them. LET IT GO!!!

            5. Michaela Westen

              Just leave info about the files you created and anything else you were assigned, and leave it at that.

            6. Auntie Social

              I’d throw in “bookkeeper refused to train me so I don’t know how I’m supposed to move forward”. Or “bookkeeper wouldn’t train me so I’m out of here”. That tells me everything, and you’re fine leaving guilt-free.

    3. NACSACJACK

      You’re not ghosting him, you’re tendering your resignation to take on a new employer. It’s his job to fill your position after you leave. As for working nights, keep in mind your own work-life balance. You are starting a new job with a new company with different expectations and possibly different technology. You’re going to be learning a lot and stressed to the max. Can you spare the energy?

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        I figure it would be a couple of hours max per night, and I don’t have family or any plans ever. I usually go home from work, get changed and watch crap that I’ve DVRed. I play with the cats, feed and water them and go to bed. I could make the sacrifice for a bit, especially if it involves extra money. (Still struggling to get back on top of things financially…I’m still trying to recover from that whole cardiomyopathy mess in July.)

        1. Artemesia

          What you do now, may not be what you do with a new job where you may have to spend extra time learning the new things to shine in your job. I have never taken on something new that didn’t require a lot more time than the thing I did before, until I had mastered the new stuff. And you want to make a really strong impression during the first couple of months on the new job. If they see you as Duncan the Wonderhorse right off the bad then you have tremendous grace for whatever screw ups lie down the road.

        2. MayLou

          Re: extra money – you’ve only worked there for two weeks, right? I’m assuming you haven’t even been paid your regular amount yet. I would not be remotely surprised to find that they dragged their feet about paying you for the time you have worked, and certainly wouldn’t count on them paying you once they know you’re quitting.

          I have just sent an email quitting a job I only got last month, for which I haven’t yet been paid “because the invoice didn’t arrive”. I would have quit anyway, because I got a new job (I got a new job!!!) but the fact I’d not been paid just stiffened my resolve.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            Actually, the pay periods end on Thursday and we get paid that Friday. So today, I asked him if I could take today’s pay in this week’s check because I have a car repair (not true but….) so I’ve been paid all the way through today!

            But even if I wasn’t, I’d be down to small claims court filing that lawsuit so fast heads would spin. I’d go for interest and court costs. And, from what I’ve seen in his previous (and current) lawsuits, he just doesn’t show up so the opposing party automatically wins without having to put on a case. But it’s moot since I’ve been paid!!!!!

        3. wondHRland

          Don’t do it. Just leave, make it a clean break and cut off all contact. You haven’t been there long enough to “owe” them anything,and if things are really hinky as you say, by staying to help, you may be setting yourself up as the scapegoat.

        4. Samwise

          No, don’t keep working for them. Nine days? that’s under two weeks! animaniactoo ‘s script is perfect.

          You need to separate yourself from the unethical/ethical borderline nonsense going on at that job. You haven’t even been there long enough to be able to get a reference; you don’t even have to put it on your resume.

          And also: It doesn’t matter what you have to do in the evenings now. Better ways to spend your free time: learning stuff for your new job. Resting up so that you are refreshed and energized for your new job.

          1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

            Agreed and agreed. I just needed cooler heads to help me think this through. I was very conflicted this morning, hence my post. As always, the commentariat here pulled through and helped me figure this thing out. I hate that my last couple of jobs have been so….weird…..because it has messed up my mind as far as what is normal and feeling guilty about things I shouldn’t feel guilty about. Y’all keep me grounded!!!!!

    4. Kathenus

      Echoing Sara’s comment. It sounds like you are talking about leaving your current job and feeling bad that they will be short-staffed until they hire someone else to fill your role. If you are giving appropriate notice, this is NOT ghosting, not in the slightest. If you just don’t show up one day at old job, and start at new job, that would be ghosting. But from your post it seems you are a thoughtful, responsible employee so I don’t believe that’s what you’re referring to.

      This is discussed often on AAM, people leaving is a normal part of business. Yes, it sometimes negatively impacts the employer. Yes, some managers are idiots who take it badly and try to make you feel as if you’re doing something wrong. But the majority of business accept it as a regular occurrence in any company.

      So give appropriate notice, do what you can to ease the transition for whoever they hire and for your boss in the meantime, and move on to your new job without guilt or worry. Good luck!

      1. Kathenus

        OK, so I’ve seen your follow up. Quitting without notice isn’t great, but in my opinion it’s not the same as ghosting either. Given what you’ve been dealing with health-wise, maybe you can apologize for not giving notice, mention if there are circumstances that may have caused that (health, something with the new role), and acknowledge the fact that this is an inconvenience to them. Then it’s really up to you if you want to offer to do a ‘little’ in the interim to help out. If you do want to do that, I’d suggest making it more specific – such as “I’d be able to work 1-2 hours an evening on week days for two weeks to help. Don’t leave it open ended.

        TLDR – apologize for the lack of notice, explain the reason(s) if that makes sense, and then your call if you want to help out but if so suggest you make it very specific and close-ended.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      You have to do what’s right for you.

      Are you actually thinking about giving no notice? Is that what you mean by ghosting him? Just not showing up???

      That’s no good but you shouldn’t feel bad about giving your resignation. Even if it’s less than the 2 weeks, meaning you say “today is my last day”. That way he doesn’t assume you just cut and run to the tropics with a few of his blank checks!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Also don’t worry about him. You do the books? So you’re worried he’ll be in the lurch because there’s no backup? That’s what temp agencies are for.

        Heck my mechanic once had his bookkeeper walk out on him [long story short, they were in a relationship and she was…over it…]. So you know what he did? Showed up at my office door asking me to cut his payroll for him. I helped him out for a few months until he hired someone full time. He will be fine, seriously.

    6. CatCat

      Congrats on the new job!!

      Just put in your notice today. You know you’re not giving two weeks, which isn’t the greatest, but you already know the guy is shady and you’ve only been there a short time so were you ever really going to need him professionally anyway?

      “Boss, [today/yesterday/whatever day it was] is my last day. I know this is really short notice, but a great opportunity fell in my lap and they need me to start right away on Monday.”

      If you think he would try to sabotage you, wait until the end of the day and just don’t give any details about the job. Just walk away.

      Focus your energy on your new job and your life, and don’t offer to put in any more time working for a shady verbal abuser!

    7. Jen in Oreogn

      You have worked there less than two weeks, and there have already been problems. I think you are well within professional norms to say/text/email “Thank you for this opportunity, but this is not going to work out and today is my last day. I am sure that you will be able to find someone that will be a better fit quickly. Kindest regards, Destroyer/Empress.” By making the break quick and absolute, he might not even have to start a candidate search from scratch, although even if he does, that is not your problem or responsibility. My sincerest best wished on your new job!

    8. Madge

      Your desire to leave this job as professionally as possible is honorable. And you can, but professionalism can also include extenuating circumstances like illegal activity, pending start dates, and bosses who yell. This is a bridge that was likely going to burn from the other end anyway. I can’t imagine the guy you describe ever giving you a good reference. Do your best, but make a clean break of it. And a firm quit date with no moonlighting looks better to auditors or whomever takes a microscope to the books when he gets caught. Good luck with your new job.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        Most excellent points and thank you so much for your input. He has done some weird stuff when employees leave. Two years ago, a girl walked out and left a resignation letter. 1 1/2 hours later, he reached out to the leasing agency and told them he was firing her because her work was awful. It was like “You can’t quit! I’m firing you!!!!!!!!” Stupid. She was able to collect unemployment.

        The other day, he chastised me for asking the agency what our payroll dates were (different agency, we hadn’t started with them yet). He jumped on my case, said it looked unprofessional (communication). Then, literally two minutes later, he sent an email to the rep with 6 F bombs and 3 s&it bombs. But I’m unprofessional. Alrighty then!!

    9. Nita

      Ahh congratulations! And that’s not ghosting, that’s just quitting with no two-week notice. And with the info you posted below, (1) this company is not a paragon of professionalism, (2) this is probably not a bridge you would care much about burning, and (3) you don’t want tojeopardize your new job by bit starting when they need you. So, IMO, it’s for e to quit by email and not look back.

      1. Nana

        In the Olden Days (before computers), I left a job by calling my employer at home (at 4PM on Sunday), after a miserable first week on the job. He was annoyed…too bad!

  21. Isa Belle

    Bank in 2017, Alison published a letter and some updates from someone who was jealous of her employee’s looks and took it out on her. She ended up getting fired and sued. In the updates she mentioned moving home, getting therapy and getting sober. That letter stuck with me more than any other letter ever published here. I just want to let that letter writer know that I think of her all the time and am rooting for her (and judging by the supportive comments left by others I am not the only one). I just wanted to post and send well wishes because her 2 year sobriety anniversary has just passed. I hope you are doing well.

    1. Mrs Gellar

      Seconded. Good vibes to her. I thought the lawsuit and getting run out of her job was terribly unfair to her. Hopefully she has bounced back and found something better.

    2. kittymommy

      I remember this letter too and I remember all the wonderful support she got from here when she sent in the update(s) – I think there was a couple of them. The grace and self-reflection and the work that the LW was doing on her own self was amazing and rather inspiring.

      1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome

        The responses to that letter let me know I was in a safe place and it’s a-ok to not be perfect here on AAM. The commentariat here is so wonderfully supportive……..

        And I also hope the LW is doing well with her sobriety and that life is looking really good for her now.

    3. WellRed

      I don’t think she got sued? Just that the employee consulted a lawyer. I truly hope she’s doing better and she sounded very self-aware which is a great start, but she was horribly unfair to her employee, to the point a client felt compelled to say something. I’d love an update!

      1. Another Sarah

        I’m not sure if she was sued or not, but she was advised by her own lawyer to pay a settlement because the overwhelming evidence of her wrongdoing was so much that she would have badly lost a lawsuit. Her former company also paid a settlement, while allowing the affected employee to keep working there. I also hope she is doing better. But the facts were clear enough that she had to pay a settlement.

    4. Not A Manager

      I also think of her often. She turned a very difficult mistake into an opportunity to get healthier. IIRC, in addition to addressing addiction issues, she made some other really healthy changes in her life. I was struck by her determination to confront her issues and not just paper them over, even if the process was painful.

  22. Feeling lost

    How do I follow up with a potential job offer?

    I interviewed for a job back in early March and did fairly well. I did not get the position but the HR rep and the hiring manager reached out to me afterwards to let me know that they were very impressed by me and thought I’d be an ideal candidate for an upcoming temp position. They said that they were still finalizing the job description and that the job posting would be up on their website in a few weeks. The HR rep promised to personally reach out to me about next steps once the job posting is up.

    It’s been almost month since we had this conversation. I’ve been interviewing with other places in the meanwhile, but I’m still very interested in this opportunity (even if it’s a temp job). How do I follow up/How do I phrase my follow up email?

    1. Alianora

      Hi hiring manager,

      I wanted to follow up and see if there are still plans for the temp position we discussed to be posted soon. I’m still very interested in the opportunity and would love to be considered. (Insert pleasantries based on the specifics of why you would love to be considered/think you’d be a good fit.)

      Sincerely,
      Feeling lost

    2. Not a Real Giraffe

      Is the posting up on their website yet? If not, they are still probably finalizing the description and all that. “A few weeks” can easily turn into “almost a month” and then some.

      At any rate, I think you’re fine to send the HR person a quick note saying something along the lines of, “I wanted to check in on the status of the Teapot Specialist position that you mentioned was in the works. I’d love to apply if the position is open already.”

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      They kept the door open for you, you should be fine reaching out to your HR contact who promised you that and following up with a “checking in about that temp position you spoke with me about, is there a timeline available for when you plan to have it listed?”

      The “we’ll personally follow up” promise is easy to drop the ball on, believe me, I know all too well. So most people aren’t going to feel imposed upon if you pop back up nudging them about their implied promise.

  23. Llama Llama Diorama

    The short version: What do you say when management wants to hear how your job’s mission inspires you, personally, but it really doesn’t?

    I’m in a field like public service or nonprofits– we have a great mission that no one can really argue with, like llama health. Great, healthy llamas are better than unhealthy ones. But I don’t have a llama, and llama health doesn’t exactly affect me personally. So while I support the mission, it doesn’t really drive my performance at work. Now, though, leadership has decided that they’re going to have one-on-ones with all employees to find out how llama health really drives us, and I have no idea what to say!

    I’m good at my job, and I do a good job because I like doing a good job and I’m good at my little corner of our department. But I really don’t particularly care in a deep way about llama health. What do I say when they ask? Can I just say that no, llama health isn’t behind everything I do? Or should I just tell them what they want to hear?

    1. JHunz

      “Llama health may not have any impact on me personally, but I’m really happy to be able to do good work for a good cause.”

    2. seasonal allegories

      Ugh, I hate when they push this. Are there any knockon effects you can go with? “Oh, no, I don’t have any llamas, but you know, the llama ecosystem really helps keep the waterways full of babelfish and those are so important to me, isn’t it great how everything works together?”

      1. Llama Llama Diorama

        Yes, of course! I do really care about babelfish, so I just need to remember to pivot in that direction…

        1. MayLou

          Also, you never know when you or someone you love might find themselves caring for a llama! I unexpectedly adopted a mouse a few years ago (my friend bought her, and THEN realised she was allergic to mice). I hadn’t previously been a fan of mice but little Stilton’s cute face and friendly squeaks when I came home definitely endeared the species to me. I already campaigned for mouse rights and picketed my cats’ attempts at hunting them, but adopting Stilton made it personal ;)

    3. AliP

      I was kind of in this position in the past. I worked in marketing for a large healthcare system. Very mission oriented and focused, but honestly I just like marketing and thought their marketing department was top rate, doing great work. But in some ways, the mission DID inspire me. I loved that we were a cutting-edge, smart, hard-working department, but there was always an undercurrent that what we do matters and helps people. Helping people is good! I wouldn’t want to do marketing for a tobacco company, for instance, even if it was a great role with great projects. So while healthcare wasn’t what got me going every morning, it did bring me a sense of satisfaction. Now, working in a different industry, I do actually miss it a little bit.

      1. Llama Llama Diorama

        That’s true, I like being a force for good! I’m worried that won’t be “enough” for this leadership though :/

      2. Emilitron

        That’s actually a good direction to take it, how it defines the work environment. “Yes, unhealthy llamas are so sad, and what really inspires me is the way our healthy llama mission drives our workplace dynamic. I love being on a team that has so much focus and enthusiasm, and I really think the vision of healthier llamas is what gives us that great cohesion”

    4. CatCat

      I’d lean toward the path or least resistance here. It’s such a silly thing that I’d be inclined to tell them what they want to hear. Because I don’t want weird looks or a bunch of follow up questions about why I am not personally driven by improving llama health. It’s an easy win vs. possibly irritating follow up over something that doesn’t matter to me.

      I think a scene from the movie “Miss Congenialty” is informative. The contestants are asked what was the most important thing society needed. The only answer the judges or audience wanted was “world peace.” So that is the “right” answer. Just suck give it even if that’s not what you actually believe (in the case of the movie, our hero answered “harsher punishment for parole violators,” but had to quickly follow up with “and world peace” after being met by silence and blank stares.)

      “It’s great to live in a world with healthy llamas.”

      1. RandomU...

        Agree… this is one of those situations that you just come up with something even if it starts to creep into the white lie category.

        My advice would be to come up with something you’ve learned in your role or while you’ve been at the organization and roll with that.

        “At first I didn’t realize what the impact of healthy llamas had on me personally since I don’t have my own llama, but then I realized that the impact that I could have on healthy llamas has driven me to do more/be better/learn more/etc.”

        In other words, it’s more about how you can help llamas instead of the reason that llamas inspire you. Does that make sense?

        Curious though… what happens if they don’t like your answer? I mean presumably you are doing a good job for the organization. Are they going to recommend llama health reeducation if you don’t answer the way they think you should?

        1. Llama Llama Diorama

          Heh, no, I don’t think they’ll ship me off to a llama farm for reeducation if I don’t sell my dedication (though that might not be too bad if there were actual llamas)! But TPTB really want dedication to the mission to be in everything we do, so if I’m super honest that I just don’t super care for llama health I could see them just not even knowing how to react.

      2. Llama Llama Diorama

        That was my exact concern! That I’d be honest and just get crickets. At least I can always use the backup plan of “world peace” if they don’t think any answers are on-mission enough…

    5. Ama

      So I’m kind of in this boat — I work for a nonprofit that supports research and advocacy for a very specific disease — one that no-one I know suffers from. Several of my coworkers have family members with the disease or are survivors themselves. Or they have educational backgrounds in medical/scientific research which I don’t have either.

      When people ask me how I got to my position and/or why I work here I explain that I like that the work I do is contributing to a positive outcome in the world even if it isn’t a cause that directly affects me or my loved ones. And then I sort of shift the conversation to examples of things I’ve done at work that has either made our organization’s overall work better/easier or had a direct effect on improving things for the patients we work with.

    6. blabla

      I work at a very mission-driven nonprofit where I am mostly driven by the type of work I do there rather than the specifics of our particular mission. I think if my company asked this, I’d be inclined to be honest about the fact I am drawn to this work more because of the opportunities for skill development if offers than about the ability to contribute to the mission. Which, like you said, is not to say that I think our mission is bad – it’s just not the reason I get out of bed every morning. The reason I would advocate for this more honest approach is because A LOT of nonprofits tend to assume falsely that employees are driven primarily by the mission and that then leads them to make poor business decisions about how to retain good employees. If other factors (like salary, job flexibility, skill development, etc) are what’s actually keeping you in the job, it’s important for them to know that so that they prioritize those things appropriately and don’t try to replace good workplace benefits with experiences that are really only compelling for people who are martyrs for the mission.

    7. Me

      So *usually* public health things (and government programs in general) do affect you personally if not directly. You just have to do some outward ring thinking to get there. Healthy llams program and you don’t have llamas? Well healthy llamas contribute to society by not spreading communicable llama flu and the health llamas are able to transport more things efficiently. The good of society thing basically. As a member of society you dig healthy llamas because the ripple affect affects you in society.

      Hope that helps.

    8. Existentialista

      Could you mention the greater value that your actual work brings? Like, “I’m motivated by clarity of communication”, or “I get professional satisfaction out of streamlining processes for office efficiency”, or etc?

      We did an exercise like this at a former employer of mine. Say they were a teapot glue manufacturer. They launched a big campaign around the phrase “We Build”, but instead of saying, “We Build Teapots”, they focussed on the downstream benefits, and said things like “We Build Friendships over Tea” or “We Build Refreshment.” They had each of us nominate a thing we built in our own roles and printed them on the back of t-shirts for us. Then never did anything with the t-shirts, which was disappointing, but I remember that it was very inspiring to come up with our individual words.

    9. ArtsNerd

      This is interesting to me because I’m hiring right now and I’m looking for a bit of the opposite in a way. I’ve had a couple of applicants talk about how they want the job because we’re a great organization — and we are! But if that’s their only driving motivation I’m really concerned. “You do good things” is only going to get you so far before the actual work you have to do within it comes into play.

      Say my open position is for internal trainings for llama breeders. I talked to a candidate who has less overall experience than many of the applicants, but she is currently doing internal trainings for facilities maintenance and told me: “Facilities maintenance was never going to be my passion, but I’m really enjoying the work I do–putting together the presentations, interacting with the staff, even compiling the evaluations which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea–and honestly? I’m a bit geeky about all the things I’m learning about building maintenance, which is something I never gave a lot of previous thought to.” She has some existing experience interacting with llamas, which absolutely helps, but this answer was exactly what I like to hear. She likes being a trainer as much as she likes llamas.

      1. ArtsNerd

        Forgot the “answer to your question” bit —

        You can talk about how much you love the content of your work, and that it’s extra special to be doing something that is so fulfilling to you in service of the mission which is so important [in general] because llama wellbeing serves everyone for [reasons].

  24. GinnyPig

    Coming out at work

    I want to thank everyone who commented on the LGBTQ thread last week. I came out to some colleagues and it went well! Thanks for the advice.

  25. This Librarian

    I’ve been feeling really stuck in my job recently. Bored out of my mind even when given new assignments and not feeling like I want to advance to management, which is the only way forward in my field (public libraries). I need a real change of scenery, but I don’t even know where to start with thinking about a career change. I am in my mid-thirties with a very narrow set of skills that I don’t think would translate to a lot outside of libraries, which I’m getting sick of really quickly. New technologies and creative fields are of interest but the idea of going back to school is daunting as a single woman without a partner to help out.

    Really, at this point I don’t know where to go. anyone did a complete switch of career at some point, and where did you start your journey?

    1. Default Font Size

      Areas you could consider switching to, without going back to school
      Competitive Intelligence.
      Research for Litigation
      Records Management/Contracts Management
      Private Investigation

        1. ArtsNerd

          Yeah I’m wondering if there’s a good way to transition to a different type of library that can get you experience and networks that are closer to what you’d like to do.

          I think it also depends on what you do within the library. Someone who helps run the 3d printing lab or other less-traditional programs might have more wiggle room than the person who is (showing my ignorance of library org structures here) the dewey decimal specialist.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood

            True. I hadn’t even thought about the bookbinding department — it makes me think of printing houses.
            A large printing house could use both the physical skills AND the file management skills of a librarian with bindery experience.

    2. Michaela Westen

      The administrative skills could translate to almost anything. You are proficient at keeping things organized and being able to find them whenever needed. You are proficient at research. You are probably good at figuring things out, which could lead to work in analysis or research or general administration.
      You might also be proficient at writing, which could lead to work as a writer or editor.
      You could work at the library of a law firm, or a medical school or hospital, or are there other specialties that have libraries?
      You could work at a company that provides research and/or writing to an industry… I know someone who was a newspaper editor for a long time, and now he’s an editor for a web company that provides research and support to attorneys.
      So maybe look into transitioning to a field that interests you with these!
      Also don’t go to school unless you have to. Of *course* the colleges want you to think you need another degree to transition! Don’t go to school unless you’ve heard from at least 10 *employers* that you must have a degree.
      If you do go to school, make sure you get the degree requirements in writing before you start. Good luck!

    3. Dr. Anonymous

      I had a huge change. Here’s one thing that happened. I was driving down the highway with my then husband and we passed a Powerball lottery billboard. He said thoughtfully, you know, if I won the lottery, I’d be doing what I’m doing right now. What would you be doing?” And one of the things that came into my head was, “Oh, I’d go to med school, but I’m too old.”

      And then later (took a while) I went to med school after I found out a lot of people older than I am were doing it. I got divorced along the way and put my damn self through school and it was FINE.

      So what would you be doing if you won the lottery?

      1. This Librarian

        Thank you. This is a bit late, but your comment especially resonates with me. Although everyone had some really good ideas, I feel like I need to get away from anything too close from what I’m already doing, and you showed me it’s actually not completely impossible. I don’t know yet the answer to your question, but I’ll certainly be thinking about it seriously.

        1. Dr. Anonymous

          I hope this helps! I will tell you that when I realized I was going to head into med school as a divorcee with no safety net, I was good and scared. I was lucky I got to decide on med school first, thinking I had the safety net, and then decide again to go on without it. It’s fine to be scared. Dream first, investigate second, decide third. Have fun! You have to enjoy the journey, because a complete career change takes a long time.

  26. New Job Nellie

    Hi! I am starting a new job next week (!!! Thank you Alison for all the advice) and it’s my first real office jobs (prior work was campaigns//internships) any tips??

    1. Amber Rose

      Get enough sleep the night before your first day, and eat some kind of breakfast. The rest is just listening, learning and doing your best. You’ll do great.

      1. Qwerty

        Also, start your work sleep routine this weekend to help ensure you are able to get enough sleep! A recent letter had a bunch of people explaining how nerves and excitement tend to through off their sleep schedule during the first week of a new job, so make sure that you’re catching up on sleep this weekend in case that happens to you.

    2. Alianora

      Accept invitations if people invite you out, and maybe consider asking some of your coworkers to grab coffee once in a while.

      Don’t take sides right away if people come to you with gossip.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister

        “Don’t take sides right away if people come to you with gossip”

        Not only that, but take everything you hear in the first few months with the biggest grain of salt you can find. Oftentimes drama llamas will latch on to a new hire and “warn” them or “share their side of the story” before the newbee has a chance to form their own opinions.

        Story time: In a previous job I had a coworker who *immediately* started inviting me to lunch and coffee off site, and at first I thought it was great to have a friend in a new job in a new town. But quickly she started filling these conversations with stories about our boss, which were always peppered with phrases like “isn’t that awful?” “Can you believe he did/said that to me?” “Don’t you agree that (whatever) is a problem?” I didn’t realize what she was doing until another new person joined our team about a month after I did, and she refused to go along with Drama Llama. “Don’t you agree our (org issue) is worse than other companies?” was met with “No, actually, I think it’s about the same and it works well”. I’ve always admired the second coworker for having that mature of a response.

        Oh, and the gossiping coworker was fired two months after I started. NEVER allow yourself to get drawn into interpersonal drama or gossip, especially right away.

    3. Ama

      Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if it seems like you “should” know something. Especially if your manager and coworkers have been at that employer for a while they may have forgotten that you won’t know, say, that you are always supposed to book the conference room even if you only need it for 15 minutes, or that your account for a particular software doesn’t just come automatically set up on your computer, IT has to be specifically requested to set it up, etc.

    4. The Ginger Ginger

      Spend your first couple months soaking things in. Pay attention to the people around you to gauge standard of dress, office culture, dynamics, etc without forming any value judgements/opinions (if you can) at the beginning. Keep in mind they hired you because they wanted you, but that you ARE the new one, so you’re main goal at the moment is to learn. You don’t want to jump straight into expressing opinionated feedback, try to change all-the-things, taking sides in office politics, etc without making sure you really have a full understanding of what is happening in your new workplace and WHY things are working that way.

      I always think of the OP who wrote in because when she was a new person in the office, a female coworker expressed to her that Coworker was being mistreated because she was a woman in the field. OP offered to be a sounding board/facilitate conversations etc only to find out Coworker was a hot mess and it had nothing to do with gender AT ALL. If she’d hung back a little longer to get the lay of the land, OP wouldn’t have ended up in an uncomfortable situation like that.

      Congrats! You’re going to be great!

      1. Katefish

        Don’t worry if the days drag at first… Just enjoy the slower pace. Once you’re trained, they’ll probably keep you busy all day!

  27. NotaPirate

    Has anyone done midpoint reviews before? I got asked to do one for my boss. I’m concerned about level of anonymous. Who ends up putting these together? If theyre only asking a few people is it obvious then who said what?

    1. Nessun

      In a smaller group, I’ve found it fairly obvious who said what, even when anonymity is required. It’s possible to disguise your writing style/speech patters, I suppose – but I’ve never come across anyone who’s bothered to do so. I’ve made it a policy to only say something in such a review that I would be comfortable saying face to face – it can be unfortunate, in the case of a bad or toxic boss, to not be able to be honest, but it saves me the stress of wondering if someone will read my comments and say “OH I know Nessun said that…and now I’m gonna have some comments of my own for HER.” Paranoia…sad, but true.

      1. NotaPirate

        Thanks for the heads up, this is really good to know. Yeah Boss only has like 8 direct reports and he’s seen my writing a lot so…

  28. A Nonny Mouse

    I am in the middle of my job search at the end of a PhD and the process is sloooow, and usually applications just disappear into the app system void. But I was recently invited to reapply for a position that I initially didn’t make it past the first interview stage after a failed search. Do I redo my materials or submit the same ones? I think the weakness in the initial interview was that I simply didn’t have the experience as an independent researcher that they wanted (it is a non-academic job), so I don’t know how I could pitch myself much differently. But it seems weird to submit the same ones over again.

    1. gecko

      Look over your resume, at least. And I’d say rewrite your cover letter to reflect that you’re reapplying.

    2. Yorick

      Update your cv if there is anything new, and look at the cover letter in case there’s something you’d word differently now. But otherwise, use the old ones.

    3. LivingMyLife

      Sometimes a failed search results in the hiring committee having to reevaluate what qualifications and years of experience they are looking for the second time around. It’s a good sign that they are giving you a second chance. I would review the resume and cover letter from the prospective of your first interview and what you found out about the position and the organization.

  29. seasonal allegories

    US federal resume question: has anyone used the outline format for it? I was recently in a training with someone pushing hard for us to use it, but I was wondering what the perspective was from someone who didn’t make money off of it. It seems a bit complicated to me and I don’t like that it uses paragraphs instead of bullet points. Am I off base?

    1. Not All

      From what I’ve seen being on hiring panels, the format for federal applications is in flux right now. The older, more senior hiring officials still expect thing to be in narrative format. The younger hiring officials generally hiring for entry level positions expect things to be in bullet or outline format. As long as you are consistent with your style and can get maximum information in there, I don’t think right now most hiring officials will hold one style or another against you. (I only know 2 people who have Very Strong Feelings about it and do favor candidates who use their preferred style…but they have opposite preferences soooooooooo, yeah, not helpful.)

      (I’ve been with the assorted federal land management agencies for a couple decades…can’t speak to what others like DOT or Commerce prefer)

    2. Policy Wonk

      It depends on the job, but the lower the level, the higher the volume of applicants. With a high volume of applicants the first sort of resumes is likely done by computer and the standard format can help with that. Recommend you do a new resume for each application, and that you have the resume align with the stated requirements for the job. Given the computer sort, you should use the exact language from the announcement as much as possible.

    3. Cog in the Machine

      Everyone I’ve ever spoken to in my agency has said to build your own resume and upload that. The online vfc system seems to be a holdover from needing 3 pages of KSAs.
      I will say to double check that everything is actually uploaded! The system needs a major overhaul, and it seems to differ depending on which agency you’re applying for.

      1. Not All

        This is really interesting! In my last several agencies, the advice was the exact opposite…use the USAJobs resume system because that’s what everyone is used to reading.

        1. Cog in the Machine

          Lol. To be completly fair, we tend to shuffle around in-state and/or stay in one position for a long time.

    4. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express

      I use my own resume which I uploaded. I had previously used the pre-formatted one but it does hinky things when you try to format things. However, make sure when you upload your own that it includes the required information, which is a little more extensive than you would normally put into a resume.

      1. nym

        …a little more extensive indeed. I just uploaded a 13-page version this week and cringed every step of the way because it violates all resume-writing norms EXCEPT the “but federal CVs are different” one.

  30. SinSA

    Just had a phone interview for a recruiting position at BigLaw in DC. It sounds very much right up my alley, and the woman I spoke with would actually be my boss. What I thought would be a 20 minute conversation turned into almost an hour! I *think* she wants to bring me in for the next round of interviews, in person (there would be 2 more rounds, total). Any suggestions/tips on how to knock their collective socks off?

    1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

      Ascertain what distinguishes this BigLaw firm from other BigLaw firms, or what they would like to distinguish it. Do they want to expand their expertise in a particular area of law, like Health Law or Environmental Law? Or create a department that they have never had, like Patents and Trademarks? Are they committed to diversity in hiring? Also, talk about what you would ask candidates to ascertain their real capabilities. Even if they are third year law students, they are adults and they have some life experience and some skills. Say, “What was the most interesting legal issue you’ve ever dealt with in your practice? Not the most interesting business issue, but the most interesting legal one” or “If the managing partner asked you to find out xyz legal research topic, how would you go about doing that?” Find out if the firm asks for writing samples from candidates and, if they do, what are they looking for? Often the issue in legal recruiting for BigLaw is that, to candidates, all BigLaw firms look the same and, to BigLaw firms, all candidates look the same. Find the differences.

  31. Estrella

    Hi all! I have the opposite question from a recent letter here.

    On Wednesday, someone hit my car in the parking lot at work — no major damage, just a door-ding, but there is a small dent. I didn’t see it happen and probably wouldn’t have noticed, but someone else witnessed it and told me about it.

    Because there was a witness, I know who it was who did it. I don’t interact with this woman much, but it’s a smallish company so I know who she is. She hasn’t said anything to me, even though I’ve passed her a couple of times since this happened. I went to HR to ask what to do; HR watched the video footage, saw it happen, and confirmed who did it. (I mentioned the witness, but they didn’t want their name involved, so kept them anonymous.)

    So now… what do I do? Do I approach her? I don’t know if the damage is even worth fixing (it’s very minor), and I don’t want to just be like I Know What You Did, but…. I’m not sure. My partner keeps saying “right is right and fair is fair,” which helps me not at all. Any advice, commentariat?

    1. Kathenus

      I’d decide if you want it repaired or not first, so that you know what you want the outcome to be. And yes, I’d definitely go to her. You could say that you noticed a dent, and HR was able to identify her car from the video footage. Then say what you want – ‘I want the dent repaired’, or ‘I don’t need a repair but would have appreciated your acknowledging the incident and leaving a note’ or whatever. Did HR indicate an interest, or willingness, in being involved? But if it’s me, it doesn’t have to be done confrontationally, but I would want to call her out for not having left a note or gone to HR to report it.

    2. Lemon Zinger

      When people damage your car, they need to be held accountable for it. I would approach her, say you know it was her from the footage, and that you need her insurance information. HR may need to be part of the conversation.

    3. Anono-me

      It is perfectly reasonable to expect the person who damaged your vehicle to pay for fixing it.

      Since you are undecided, you may find it helpful to go to a car dealership, and ask about what the impact on trade in/resale is from the damage.

      You don’t want to find out a year or two later when you go to trade this car in that you’re going to take a big hit due to the damage.

      If there is a significant financial impact, I would definatly ask the person who hit your car to take care of it. (You might find it more diplomatic to pretend that you think the other person didn’t realize that they hit your car .)

    4. irene adler

      I agree with your partner. You need to approach her. She may not realize you are the owner of the car she dented. And there’s the possibility she did not realize she actually hit your vehicle.

      The damage may look minor, but are you sure nothing inside the door sustained damage? Car bodies are designed to crumple to take the energy of a major impact. This helps protect passengers from injury. But this protection might be compromised if the body is dented. You’ll need to take it to a professional to be sure everything’s okay.
      If nothing else, maybe your insurance representative could intervene? Or, can they make the determination that the dent is purely cosmetic?
      Or, to soften things, offer the woman the chance to make things right without involving either party’s insurance. Then involve the insurance if she’s uncooperative.

      Hit and run could get her into some trouble (depending upon where this occurred).

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      She doesn’t say anything to you because she assumes she got away with it or didn’t realize it caused damages, most likely she just assumes she got away with it. You weren’t there and she didn’t feel obligated to report it to you and let you make the call if you wanted it repaired or what. Perhaps her insurance is even lapsed or in danger of being cancelled if she gets another claim.

      But you have video evidence, you have what the insurance companies will need to find fault. The witness, that’s not really too concrete to be honest, we could all “witness” Judy hit Nancy’s car but even if you swear to it under oath, it’s really not much if the other person can plausibly deny it.

      Approach her, ask her for her information. If she has issues with it, she can also see the video and the corresponding damages, it’s pretty cut and dry.

      If it were just someone’s word for it, I’d let it go or file under a hit and run incident with your insurance, most policies have that included but of course that dings your rates if you opt for filing that claim [in this case it’s not worth it but if she wrecked your door or something, then it of course would be!

      1. CastIrony

        I’d appreciate knowing about it if I were in the crasher’s shoes, but back when I was learning to park (parallel), I’d trade paint and run away, mortified, so perhaps the crasher is as mortified as I am.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Oh I’m not perfect. I don’t leave my information for anyone if it’s a parking lot of strangers but if I know who I hit, I’ll tell them. I let a neighbor know once because I didn’t want them matching their ding with paint transfer and knowing I was up to no good! But I’ve dinged a door or twelve in my life in a parking lot and scurried away.

          It’s not safe to just leave your information on someone’s windshield and I only hangout so long to see if someone appears before just going on my way.

          My car has had the same treatment over the years. I’ve got dings and scrapes I sure didn’t do myself! And not a single note with insurance information. Not that I care to be carless for even half a day while they fix the paint on my beater mobiles!

          1. Fluff

            Disagree here , that’s not cool. If you damage a car, you leave your info (if it is your fault). I’ve left my email info on oopses twice and got contacted once with a “don’t worry about it.” Doing a wrong to a stranger isn’t ok. Sorry if this sounds harsh, and I truly don’t mean the minor stuff where a bit if spit and rubbing and it is gone.

            It’s not ok to stick to someone you don’t know just because you don’t know them. Leave a public email that you check and go from there. Please Do the right thing even when no one’s watching.

    6. Rose Tyler

      I would approach her and play along like of course she must not have realized she made contact with your car, but there is a dent and HR was able to review tapes and confirm it was her, so now you need her insurance information.

    7. Estrella

      Thanks, everyone, for the replies! I didn’t get a chance to talk to her today; I think I’ll go this weekend and get a quote on how much the repairs would be, just to find out if it’s worth it. I think my wording may have been bad in the first comment — it wasn’t really a *hit*. Her door swung out and hit my door on a super-windy day.

      @Anono-me, I’m not too worried about resale — my partner and I both drive cars until they die. :)

      But @Irene Adler, I hadn’t thought about internal damage. It’s a small enough dent that I doubt there’s anything wrong, but I’ll definitely get it checked out on that alone.

      I’ll update later (or next week) if there’s anything interesting to report! Fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly…

  32. Bee's Knees

    We had fire training this week, and during one of the sessions, one of the employees very proudly informed everyone that he has put out two fires since he started working here. And he only started one of them.

    1. Emily S.

      Just read your blog post. I hope you can get back to a normal schedule soon!

      I consider myself a morning person, but even I would NOT be ok with having to get to work at 5:30 am.

      1. Bee's Knees

        It’s not my favorite. Especially since with the way the shifts run, I can’t work 8 hours from whenever I get in and then go home. This week has been a lot of 10+ hour days. The thought of the overtime and ice cream are the only good parts of this week.

    2. I Work on a Hellmouth

      Did we Freaky Friday, that sounds like something that would happen over in my neck of the woods.

      1. Bee's Knees

        I mean, maybe? It is storming here. And we have some downright crazy people. It’s not going to be fun when we switch to a new payroll system soon. I may send some people your way in hopes that the hellmouth will eat them.

          1. Bee's Knees

            We’re sending a few people to a sister plant to help out, and I really wanted to conscript some people, just put them in a car and send them off. My boss said that was not allowed. Spoil sport.

    3. Cercis

      What do you do? I’ve never started nor put out a fire at work (well, other than that time the popcorn decided to start burning after it was out of the microwave – one super heated kernel flared up when I opened the bag and air rushed in – but that wasn’t even really a fire, one tiny flame that went out all on its own, but left a major stink).

      1. Bee's Knees

        I’m in HR at a… teacup manufacturing plant. I’m not sure what the guy did to start the fire, I was afraid to ask. It could have been a microwave issue, or it could have been a machine fire. Parts of the teacups are welded together, and sparks can fly like crazy, so it could have been that.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          BWAHAHAHA!
          I am reminded of someone in our test lab who was the first to power up a new piece of electronics and it went boom. He unplugged it and literally ran out of the building rolling the cart and hollering for someone ahead of him to open the door. Incredibly, he managed to get the thing outside before it started smoking & set off the fire alarms.

        2. Admin of Sys

          That’s actually reassuring, I was thinking an office and trying to figure out /any/ excuse other than arson for having started a fire.

          1. Armchair Analyst

            I wonder what happened to the guy using matches in the bathroom to start fires…

    4. Jasmine

      I have also put out 3 unintentional fires (2 of which I started). But they were all in professional kitchens!

    5. kittymommy

      For some reason I’m getting deja vu from your previously place on this. It seems like something that would have happened there as well. And at the Hellmouth!

      1. Bee's Knees

        If there’d been a fire when I worked at the paper, it probably would have been intentional. They did keep it so cold in the winter that I threatened to start a fire in a bucket to keep warm. Here though, I am keeper of the thermostat, and I have a little desk heater.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          Around here, a desk heater near the thermostat will make the rest of the office really really cold…
          Bear in mind my current opinion is that HVAC systems are designed by the devil.

    6. Elizabeth

      At one place I worked, fire training was practical and we got to actually put out real fires – which meant we had to light them first. So I guess I could say that I have put out a fire – and I lit it. Fire training was fun!!! Now they have an online training programme. Somehow I doubt that is half as effective!!

  33. Paige

    I work for a program that arranges summer internships for high school sophomores and juniors. We try to make the application process fairly professional—cover letter, resume, letters of recommendation—and give them lots of guidance on what they should include. It’s good practice for real-world job and college applications.

    One of the letters from a teacher was seriously terrible. Not just hastily written or clearly a fill-in-the-blank form letter (we get plenty of those and never hold it against the students). This was potentially damaging, as in, praising the kid for how well he bounced back from failed classes (emotionally—no clue how he bounced back scholastically), mentioning his depression, his struggles for acceptance with his peers, etc.

    I worry that this teacher is also going to be writing this kind of letter for college applications—thinking he’s praising a student when he’s revealing lots of inappropriate details. Would it be overstepping to warn the kid that this is not the sort of thing he should be sending out?

    1. seasonal allegories

      Can you reply to the teacher? I don’t think the kid has much power in this scenario; when I was doing letters, I didn’t see them before they got sent.

      1. Paige

        I’ve thought about that–reaching out to the teacher or the school to suggest that they get a little more familiar with the general standards of recommendations. But, private religious school, teacher who I’m sure believes that what he’s doing is atypical but excellent…I’d be worried about the kid feeling the blowback.

        1. seasonal allegories

          Oy, yeah. I’d wait until after the school year then, if you’re concerned about repercussions on the kid, if that kid was the only one you got a letter for from that teacher.

        2. Elizabeth B.

          I wouldn’t speak to the student, that puts them in a difficult position and I think the student would be embarrassed that you know this information.
          I’m not sure how contacting the teacher could “blow back” on the student. You could also contact the school’s guidance department. I teach high school and we have had college admission offices call our guidance supervisor to share compliments as well as concerns about teacher letters.
          The guidance department could speak to the specific teacher and communicate to the entire staff that including a student’s medical information (such as depression) is not appropriate.

    2. CTT

      My first question is whether the student even saw it? The only time I’ve ever seen any letters of recommendation written about me was applying for the bar, and that was unusual for me.

      As to whether to tell him, I know Alison says that references are confidential, but I wonder if it would be totally out of line to tell the school this is what she’s doing? Or at least give them a template “here is what teachers should include in their letters, please avoid discussing X.”

    3. Notthemomma

      Absolutely!!! The good guidance on what to include would also mean what is good vs what isn’t.

    4. M

      Worth noting from experience: this is going to be most common for students from backgrounds where opportunities like summer internships or college are a rarity. Schools with lots of students who are applying for things like this will have the resources and capacity to train their teachers to write good cover letters. Schools in underprivileged communities won’t. Even if the student saw the letter, and *knew* it was bad, he may have genuinely had no alternatives from his school – this might literally be the best he could get, not because *he’s* a bad candidate, but because his teachers don’t have the training, time or experience to write good letters of recommendation. (And for a teacher without that training, experience and time: the problems you mention are things they might very conceivably think are *good* things to mention: things that show resilience and maturity.)

      It would be a kindness to (gently) warn the kid, and if you’ve got good resources on how to write letters of recommendation, provide them to the school. But don’t overestimate how much he’s going to be able to do about it.

      And far more importantly: if you want students from diverse and underprivileged backgrounds to have equitable access to the opportunities you organise, I’d spend some time compartmentalising what you hold against students who have letters of recommendation that show poor judgement on the part of their teachers. People with depression, social awkwardness as teenagers, and a history of overcoming temporary setbacks aren’t inherently bad candidates, and while that information might be inappropriate to include, it’s not necessarily a mark against the candidate that their teacher had the poor judgement to do so.

      1. Paige

        In this case, I don’t think this teacher is the kid’s only option. And we’re not holding it against him for our program–I never actually screen based on the letters, because I’m well aware that not all teachers have the time, interest, or experience to write good ones. We see letters addressed to a different organization, kids’ names misspelled, people accidentally leaving placeholder brackets–that sort of thing happens all the time. But I haven’t seen inappropriate personal details before.

        And while we suggest that they get their letters from teachers or bosses, we don’t require it–I’ll accept a letter from a family friend, a camp counselor, or the person whose lawn you mowed over the summer. Nobody has ever told me that it’s a real hardship to get a letter, but I would work with them if they did, just like I work with them if they don’t have consistent computer access. The main point of the application is that they learn that this is something they’ll have to arrange for themselves eventually, and it’s good practice.

      2. Parenthetically

        “don’t overestimate how much he’s going to be able to do about it.”

        Exactly. I mean, what the heck are students ever supposed to do about a whackadoodle recommendation letter? In my decade of teaching, students always got recommendation letters from teachers/staff in a sealed envelope or by another method where the student has zero contact with the letter at all. I’d be willing to lay cash money that Billy never saw the letter — and if he did, how is a sophomore or junior in high school supposed to a) know what’s appropriate for a recommendation letter, and b) correct his teacher on something he probably does a lot.

    5. MSW in MA

      The teacher may not realize what the letter is for exactly, so I would just reach out directly. The overcoming-the-odds letters can be effective for college admissions, so she may be confused. I wrote an essay about my disability for college, but would never mention it in a cover letter! I would explicitly tell the teacher what would be most helpful.

    6. Prof

      It’s hard to say what the tone or exact content was of this letter, but I would push back a little on some of the assumptions here. Recommendation letters should not always be uniformly positive. If the student has experienced particular challenges, it is the recommender’s responsibility to explain or contextualize this for the reader. It is not uncommon for us to receive or write letters, therefore, that explain a student’s or applicant’s mitigating personal circumstances, which might have resulted in a failing grade, for example, or why their time to degree was longer than usual, etc.

      1. AcademiaNut

        I think the problem is revealing personal information to a potential employer – a letter writer can talk about the student’s resilience or work ethic in the face of adversity, but they absolutely should not be revealing mental health diagnoses to a stranger! A teacher could reference “difficult personal circumstances” for example, but not “while struggling with clinical depression”, at least not with the student’s explicit, informed consent.

    7. Luna

      That sounds horrible. If you can reply to the teacher, I would make sure to point out that mentioning such details have no business being in a letter fo recommendations. Especially not something like depression because that could easily fall into the line of revealing sensitive medical information.

      I don’t even like it when LW on this site mention an employee’s/coworker’s/boss’ personal or medical background unless it is absolutely necessary to know or it’s open knowledge – like a boss being open about their medical treatment with their employees. Ones I don’t like is like the ‘best employee quit because I didn’t let her go to her graduation ceremony’ story listed here. That personal background was not important. And, personally, I would have liked to have seen how Alison and the comments had reacted, had that stuff not been mentioned.

      The teacher needs to be told what is accetable in a letter of recommendation — the student being a strong worker; what their strengths are; maybe what their weaknesses are and how they have worked on improving on those. The stuff they listed isn’t. It’s not important, it’s nobody’s business, it can leave a very bad impression (like the letter is supposed to play on someone’s emotions and emotionally influence to pick this person, disregarding actual qualifications), and it can also land them into legal trouble.

  34. Amber Rose

    I snapped at and insulted a coworker. I was furious, not specifically just about him but rather that what he did is the symptom of a much larger problem that is really frustrating me at work, and also because I am burned out, exhausted and sick. It didn’t help that I’d had a very upsetting doctor’s appointment just before.

    I’m not excusing my actions, just explaining that this isn’t normal for me, it usually takes a LOT to ruffle my feathers enough to get angry. I feel like absolute shit about it, but I’m also afraid if I try to apologize it’s going to come across passive aggressive and angry again, because I’m honestly still mad at that person and having a supremely shitty week.

    Is it OK to just… let it go? I know I owe that dude an apology but I just don’t know if I have it in me to do it properly.

    (For the record, he sent me an email saying he thought he had a class that day but he lost the booking email. I told him “You need to give me more than 15 minutes notice that you lost some information. You’re already late for that class. Manage your shit, I’m not your babysitter.”)

    1. NotMyRealName

      You can apologize for loosing your temper without apologizing for not fixing his problem. Keep it short – “Bertrand- I apologize for losing my temper at you yesterday. I will try to better in the future. Bernice”

      1. Amber Rose

        Like, in an email? Not sure that would help. People at this company make a point of deleting my emails without reading them unless they’ve specifically asked me to send them something.

        1. Not Me

          If you put “Apology” or “I’m sorry” in the subject line do you still think it’ll be deleted without reading?

          I think you can send an email with a subject line making it clear what you’re saying, in the message say that you’re sorry you acted out of character and it affected him. If he doesn’t read it, that’s on him. You still apologized.

          And give yourself a break too. Life happens to all of us and sometimes we crack under the pressure.

          1. valentine

            If he doesn’t read it, that’s on him. You still apologized.
            I agree. You’re only hurting yourself. I don’t imagine this guy cares, especially since your message was correct: He should be on top of his schedule.

            If you don’t want your blood boiling constantly and you won’t leave, it seems the options are to make peace with either baby-sitting or being in trouble for not baby-sitting.

      2. The Original K.

        Yeah, I agree – the “manage your shit, I’m not your babysitter” line warrants an apology, IMO. “Bertrand, I’m sorry I snapped at you yesterday.” Keep it simple.

    2. Kathenus

      Try putting yourself in his shoes, and how would you want the other person to respond. Right now you’re looking at it, understandably, from just your perspective. If someone did the same to you (after you had made an error or asked for something unreasonable), what would you like the other person to do? That can give you an additional bit of insight to decide how to proceed. If it’s me, I take the high road and apologize for the comment, and as NotMyRealName says you don’t need to take on his part of the interaction, just your own tone/words.

      1. Amber Rose

        People have said that to me. I just feel embarrassed. In his shoes, I would be apologizing to me right now. Which, not super helpful.

        I don’t know. It’s been a couple of days, I can probably just mention it in passing next time I see him I guess.

        1. WellRed

          When you apologize, which you must, then you can move on from said incident. Otherwise, it’s still hanging there when you see the dude. A simple, “sorry I snapped at you the other day” will suffice.

        2. Kathenus

          I actually think you knowing that in his shoes you would be apologizing IS super helpful. And WellRed has a great point that if you apologize you can move on and get this out of your mental headspace. I think you’re stressing a lot more about how to react, than the potential stress or embarrassment from a quick apology. Human nature, to be sure, but I think you’ll feel better if you close the book on this.

    3. CupcakeCounter

      I still have not apologized for my “harsh tone” at a coworker nor to I plan on it. This person was really out of line, did something that was a VERY BIG NO-NO without notifying anyone that “hey when I went to do X I got a blocked notification so I went through my 16 year old notes and found the work around in order to do it” using the “well how was I supposed to know that would impact these other things?” super innocent tone.
      Ummm…maybe because you are the one who trained me on the process and its in the notes I have in your handwriting????
      3 days of very time consuming work that could potentially blow up a year’s worth of financials later, I get a snarky “oh so the meeting is pushed back because you’re behind in your work” comment from her and IT WAS ON.
      Several coworkers send me IM’s and emails telling me how much they enjoyed the take down since this other coworker is a pompous ass.

    4. Me

      Apologizing is always uncomfortable. There’s no way around it.

      This is the type of stuff that festers and ruins work relationships. We’re all human. The first sentence was fine – the rest was not. I will 99.9% guarantee if you just do the hard thing and pick up the phone or walk to is desk, it will blow over. If you don’t, even if he says nothing, you will always feel weird when you interact with him. And if your like me, you will periodically have your brain remind you about how you were a jerk and didn’t try to fix it and now it’s too late blah blah blah.

      1. Richard

        Also, it sounds like there’s already a lot of festering and bad relationships here. Apologizing is uncomfortable, but refusing to communicate and holding onto anger and resentment has much worse long-term outcomes, both for the yeller and the yellee.

        1. Amber Rose

          I communicate constantly. I’m basically now working as a babysitter for a bunch of grown ass adults and none of my pushing back on this has convinced them to take care of their own shit, so I’m at my breaking point. I’m tired of being responsible for everyone else being useless. How hard is it to manage your own effing appointments? But if I don’t mother them and remind them and nag them and they forget, I’m the one in trouble.

          Ugh, I’m getting angry again.

          1. Richard

            Like I said, a lot of festering here. A real apology can be a release valve, even if it’s to someone who doesn’t really deserve it, and maybe can open up a better type of communication. I know how awful it is to be angry at work all the time, but is it really going to be better if you’re both silently angry all day and start every interaction with that baseline? It sounds like you’re at the boiling point already, do you really need to add more to the fire every day? I sympathize, but I also know how appealing and counterproductive a lot of righteous anger can be.

    5. Parenthetically

      Just a whole lot of sympathy here! I think apologizing when you are really NOT sorry for the content, only for the tone, is particularly hard, because a real apology shouldn’t have caveats (“I’m sorry I snapped, but you shouldn’t have done XYZ”), but it really does feel like capitulating on the content. I think “Hey, I wanted to apologize for my tone yesterday, I shouldn’t have snapped like that. Rough day! Now about those TPS reports…” might work? Whatever you do, give yourself a segue to a new topic! And you don’t have to come cap-in-hand, either, IMO — it was just a moment of pissiness, you didn’t burn his village to the ground and salt the earth, not even a little bit.

    6. Cows go moo

      Apologies are difficult for everyone. But it doesn’t need to be a grand speech. I recently snapped at someone who reports to me. The next time I spoke to him I simply said “Hey Bob, I’m sorry I was rude to you about X.” He acknowledged it was okay, and we made up.

      It helps to remember that acknowledging your own wrong is going to help build your professional relationship in most cases. Realistically most people do not apologize even when they need to. So when someone has said sorry to me in the past it actually made me respect them more than before.

    7. Not A Manager

      As you can tell from my screen name, I’m not a manager. I’m sure the other commenters are correct that you were wrong and should apologize. I, however, do not think you were wrong. Certainly not in the sentiment, although perhaps the tone was a bit iffy.

      I wouldn’t apologize TOO much. I’d send an email with “apology” in the message line, and a one-sentence “I shouldn’t have snapped at you yesterday and I’m sorry that I did.” I hope that by omitting any mention of being sorry that you aren’t his babysitter, or sorry that he needs to manage his own shit, you will be implying that you are not sorry about that. Because you shouldn’t be.

    8. The Rat Catcher

      My thought is that it’s too soon for an apology. If you think that in a week or two you might be able to give a more sincere apology (for the “manage your shit” comment only – coworker isn’t blameless here), I’d wait until then. I got an apology from a coworker two months later and it still helped our situation.
      If no amount of time is going to help, then I’d agree with the other advice here.

    9. LGC

      Whoa.

      I’d say that in many, if not most offices, you should apologize for the language you used. (You’re right in that he should know better, but that answer was like taking a flamethrower to a spider web.) But also…this happened this week right? Give yourself the weekend. Right now you’re still probably having a lot of feelings, and that’s why you’re feeling this way where you feel both terrible about what you did AND you’re still angry about his stupidity. You’ll probably be less mad at him on Monday and feel less guilty about telling him off, just because you’re further removed from it.

      I’d actually say to do it in person if you can apologize in person. But maybe that’s my preference. And I think you’ll probably have it in you next week, but even if you don’t…I think you should apologize! If nothing else…from Bertrand’s perspective, you went off on him basically unprovoked (he asked a question that was mildly inconvenient for you, and you responded with profanity directed at him). I can understand how you’re feeling, but if I were Bertrand, I’d have been flustered and confused.

      I hope next week goes a lot better for you (and that you have a short week because of Easter)!

  35. Seeking Second Childhood

    In search of sound-muffling gizmo recommendations!
    Can anyone recommend over-the-ear hearing protection that does well against low pitched sound…AND has enough room for big ears on a big head? I’m looking for specific models because I’ve spent enough time on this already.
    My department was recently moved into new office space that is right under a very loud HVAC unit. The typical open-office work-related conversations are annoying, but the HVAC is the problem. It’s loud enough that my ears are still ringing when the HVAC shuts off. I brought in my 3M yardwork headset and the HVAC comes through clearly. And even those I only get 30-60 minutes before the squeeze makes my head hurt. I have a really big head and big ears, but ear canals small enough that earplugs & earbuds hurt.
    In a dream world it’ll be a headset with a mouthpiece so I can use it all day as my Skype phone headset!

    1. Aunt Vixen

      I have small ear canals – can’t use ear buds because they never stay in, though I suppose they’d hurt if I shoved hard enough to get them wedged in there – and can anecdotally recommend that the foam earplugs that claim to be smaller or slimmer are in fact less uncomfortable than regular ones. (And my regular-sized-ear-canal-having husband would affirm that the slimmer earplugs don’t work for him.) https://www.amazon.com/Macks-Slim-Soft-Foam-Earplugs/ (Mack also does a pink “feminine” maybe-softer-slimmer style, but -a- UGH and -b- they don’t actually work as well for me as the purple ones.)

      I also have a deceptively large head (circumference 23″ says the knitter in me), and I’ve been very happy with these headphones: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XW4MCSQ/

    2. foolofgrace

      Go to a store that sells gun equipment (ammunition, gun cleaning tools) and try on different ear protection. These usually are pretty good at keeping sound out and you can try them out.

    3. CastIrony

      I don’t know much about headphones.

      However, have you looked at gaming headsets? I have an extremely loud SADES (model sa-902) USB headset that cost me like $30, and the pretty big ears have cushioning. It even has a little remote control for volume and microphone muting!

      I wear mine all day, and they are comfortable for hours before the squeeze.

      Good luck! Tell me how it goes!

    4. Serious Sam

      We use Peltor Optime 3 at work, I’ve done whole shifts near the 100 tonne arc-furnace with no great difficulty. You can get different diameter ear plugs, or the type that you roll up really small and once in your ear expand to fill the ear canal. E.G. Honeywell Laser Lite. If really noisy, you could wear both, or in-ear headphones under the Peltors.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Ever hear of “surfer’s ear”? Google it and cringe alongside me…nothing’s going in my ears unless I’m swimming, and then I use children’s earplugs. I could have avoided a lot of ear pain if I’d started using those when I was a child. :(

    5. Howie

      I use Bose QC20s daily, they’re great at cancelling constant sounds. Not over-the-ear but they come with three sizes of earpiece so you could use the small ones to fit your canals. Worth a look IMO.

    6. Cloudy with sunny breaks

      I know there are blue tooth enabled ones that people can wear on construction sites so you can listen to music from your phone and take phone calls

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I actually thought that’s what i was getting with my yard work headphones …but theyre just heap hone not headset. No mouthpiece.
        Lots of places here to start–thanks, peopleď

    7. Dr. Anonymous

      I wear the MAC silicon wax ear plugs that go OVER, not IN, the ear canal. I use the kids’ size because my ears are so tiny.

  36. Bunny Girl

    Just a quick vent. On of the support people in our small staff is out for a few weeks for some health issues. I hope she gets better soon for her sake, but also selfishly, for ours. The people she typically works with our coming to us now, and they are impossible to work with. This last week has been really, really unenjoyable.

    1. Ama

      I’m sorry you are having to deal with that! When she comes back, I bet she’d appreciate some commiseration on her workload — I’ve been the person dealing with high maintenance vendors/coworkers and it always made me feel a little better when my other coworkers recognized the extra effort I was going through to handle the difficult cases.

      1. Bunny Girl

        I’m not sure if she notices how unreasonable these people are? The people she works for and her are all really cliquey so she might find them charming. I don’t find grown adults throwing tantrums charming or acceptable so I think that’s where the head butts are coming in. Thank you though.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          She’s probably just used to it and developed some Stockholm Syndrome!

          As someone who’s dealt with finicky picky people before and sadly still agrees to cater to most of them, I get it. Theyr’e a pain in the rear if you’re not conditioned to just internally roll your eyes at their tantrums.

  37. I Work on a Hellmouth

    My friends, we have finally reached another week’s end on the Hellmouth. Today is a big day, because The Good Leasing Consultant has been given a terrific job offer and is giving his two week notice. I am both thrilled for him and a little sick for me, since in two weeks I am going to be alone with my boss. During the busy season. While doing the work of three full time positions with no flexibility on deadlines. But at least one of us is getting out of here! Additionally, after giving notice, The Good Leasing Consultant is going to contact HR about the microphones/cameras (and the fact that my boss told him about them and ordered him not to tell the rest of us because she was listening to the recordings of us), that he thinks he saw her using the company card to buy herself stuff, the time she was in my office and then all of a sudden a bunch of checks from the bank bag were hidden under a filing drawer where they couldn’t have fallen, how she targets employees until they quit or she finds a reason to file them, and so on. I’m getting my documentation of everything together (starting with the time she forced me go to court with her—on the clock—to testify against a former employee of hers who got her fired from her last company) and praying that going to HR will actually help/won’t be a horrible mistake, because y’all, I am cracking. I can’t handle much more of the Game of Thrones shenanigans around here.

    I basically had a breakdown on Wednesday. We had our weekly staff meeting, and it went from the start of the day all the way up to my scheduled lunch break. It consisted of her reading out print outs from the internet about “business etiquette” and implying that we are lazy (no), smelly (no), and not professionally dressed (we all dress appropriately, and she was wearing sweatpants on this particular day), a further tightening on cell phone restrictions (they are to be locked in desks at all times if we don’t leave them in our cars, and we all need to purchase wristwatches because we can’t check the time on our phones anymore, etc, etc), berating us in very vague terms so we weren’t sure what the problems were or who the berating was actually directed at, and then culminated in an hour and a half of us being forced to walk behind her around various buildings and through vacant apartments while she told the maintenance supervisor to relay various instructions to assorted vendors—it literally had nothing to do with the rest of us or our jobs, and it was directly after her telling us that we weren’t being productive enough and increasing our workloads for the day dramatically. She also lectured us about not noticing issues around the property that we have actually been specifically reporting to her for months. When we got back (remember, just in time for me to clock out for the lunch time that my boss schedules for me), I was reprimanded by my boss for not having photos readily on hand from a file she put in deep storage. I don’t know why this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I went home for lunch in tears, which only got worse as the end of my break approached. And I couldn’t force myself to go back. I claimed a family emergency and took some medication for anxiety. I found out from The Good Leasing Consultant that Boss was FURIOUS about my calling out, and that she was already sending nasty emails (he was copied on them) that seemed to be laying groundwork for future disciplining. Since I knew at that point that The Good Leasing Consultant was going to be giving notice today (and that Boss would back off of me as soon as that happened, because she would not risk having zero office employees) I called in for Thursday and spent the whole day applying to new jobs. I forced myself to come in today, but my hands are still shaking off and on and I’m trying really hard to not be a mess. I know I can’t just keep calling out, though.

    So. Uh. Yeah. Not the most positive update, and no funny news of the Squirrel Army or resident wackiness. Sorry guys, I’m just in a very bad headspace. But I’m working to get out of it. And hey, every week HAS to bring me closer to the day where I get to start a new and hopefully sane job, right?

    1. Need to think of a name

      I really feel for you and read each week to see if you have an out yet. I hope you have someone you can talk to in person.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I have my partner, my dog, and sometimes my mom for the in the trenches/really terrible stuff, and I have some good friends who are always willing to bend an ear–I don’t want to turn them into work woe dumping grounds, though, so I try to limit it to an extent.

        If it weren’t for my partner, I think I’d have gone looney by now. Or loonier.

        1. BadWolf

          Would it be more or less stressful to make an actual Bingo card for yourself to fill out during the week?

          Bees
          Squirrels
          Spiders
          Snakes
          Stolen good pens
          Weird team building lecture
          New camera found
          ….

          1. I Work on a Hellmouth

            Okay, I have actually done this before! I made them the day after the spider bit my face when I was having lunch at one of the picnic tables outside. The leasing staff was very amused, but the boss was not a fan.

    2. Bee's Knees

      I’m going to start with the watches/phones, because that’s the first thing that flummoxes me. I’m assuming that when you are out giving tours, she needs a way to get in touch with you? And when you are in the office, why would you need a watch to tell time, if you have a computer. I mean, I don’t think she’s burdened with an overabundance of schooling, but still.

      I’m sorry that this is happening to you. And that you’ll be by yourself now that GLC has given his notice.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Yeah, my boyfriend thinks the watch thing is just her doing what he calls her “toxic control flex.” She really needs to have control over the weirdest things where we are concerned.

        One funny thing about when she addressed that, though! She asked us who had watches and I mused that I had no idea where to even go to get the battery changed on my old, graduation present wristwatch and she instructed me to go to Circuit City or Radio Shack. Ummmmmmmm…

        1. Bee's

          So she’s 2000% an other worldly being that got rejected from being on Buffy, and is mad about it, and is taking it out on the world.

          Also, a jewelry store could probably change the battery for you.

        2. Gumby

          There’s a guy set up in the front of the supermarket here who changes watch batteries. That is who I used most recently.

          WalMart and Target were backing away from watch batteries several years ago – something about not wanting to take on liability in case they harmed my watch. (I have a Timex. It must be worth at *least* $20 if it were new but since it was a high school graduation present in the mid-90s…)

          And I think that the place where I get my car remote control batteries changed (which is also a locksmith) might also be able to handle watch batteries too.

          So that is a start on where to look.

    3. revueller

      hugs, friend. hopefully whatever the GLC reports to HR will have a good impact on your work life. you’re in a warzone fighting for survival at this point, and i’m still rooting for you to GTFO of there as soon as possible.

      hope you have at least a quiet weekend ahead. <3

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Gracias! I’m committed to calming down enough to enjoy the weekend… once TGLC goes, I’ll be working all Saturdays for the forseeable future, so I’m determined not to let anxiety wreck my last two proper weekends.

    4. Karen from Finance

      Hey, TGL was able to escape, and so can you! Don’t lose hope girl! We’re rooting for you.

      Let’s pray that something comes out of going to HR and you’re finally able to rid yourself of your boss.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thanks! I’m trying to remind myself that I’ve largely applied to jobs in places that have glacial hiring processes, but that I applied to them specifically because they’ll be good fits and offer low drama and stability.

    5. Princess of DeNial

      OK I know Passover is coming up but this part “culminated in an hour and a half of us being forced to walk behind her around various buildings and through vacant apartments while she told the maintenance supervisor to relay various instructions to assorted vendors—it literally had nothing to do with the rest of us or our jobs, and it was directly after her telling us that we weren’t being productive enough and increasing our workloads for the day dramatically.” sounds EXACTLY like Exodus Chapter 5 where Pharoah takes away the straw and tells the slaves to “make bricks without straw” which apparently was like the rebar of the day, who knew?

      Hopefully you will lead yourself to freedom, soon. Good luck.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thanks. Also, I now have Let My People Go running in my head on a continuous loop, which is strangely cheering right now. Might see if I can get a sing-a-long going with the Good Leasing Consultant if Boss steps out again.

        1. Bee's Knees

          You have to film it if you do. Extra points if you release frogs/squirrels/bees at the climax.

          1. Gumby

            Frogs are okay. Gnats, flies, and locusts would suffice. I’m afraid the squirrels and bees will need to wait for another sing-a-long.

        2. Jules the 3rd

          I feel ya! I had Queen, “I’ve Got To Break Free” stuck in my head last weekend while running errands. I kept my radio turned off because I didn’t *want* it to get erased.

          My deepest sympathy, and hopes for your escape. And for her karma to finally kick in.

    6. Weegie

      Sending you sympathies and multiple good wishes for your escape. Your boss is clearly a loon who has no idea what she’s doing.

      If you’re able to talk yourself into pitying her, that might help a bit, but I know how hard it is to do that kind of thing when a boss is so awful and you’ve reached the end of your rope.

      Hopefully HR will do something about the illegal covert surveillance, if nothing else. One day, if not now, all of this will come back to bite her.

      Hang on in there!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I actually do pity her/have empathy for her sometimes… I think she’s unwell. And sometimes we’ll get little pockets where she’s nice or at least seems vaguely normal. But then she usually will immediately do something so vile that I remember that, unwell or not, she’s just a really terrible person.

        I sincerely think that she works in this industry and in these incredibly small offices because she can pretty much do whatever she wants to the people underneath her.

    7. Tired

      I can’t imagine how you’re feeling, but I wonder if a grounding technique might help at least some of the anxiety while you’re at work. My favorite is to list 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. It can help your brain to focus on the here and now, rather than the panic it’s been fixating on. Breathing exercises like breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, and breathing out for four counts can also help. We tend to speed up our breathing when anxious, and slowing it down can have a calming effect.

      You’ll make it out of there, and you have a whole team rooting for you. Best wishes for today. You’ll make it through.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        Thank you for this–I’ve been doing breathing exercises for awhile, but I actually wrote out the list you suggested on a notecard and I’ve taped it to my monitor. Hopefully it will help!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I’m planning on quality hug the dog time, and I’m forcing myself to exercise and get some fresh air and sun. And possibly buying an ill advised number of bath bombs.

    8. Anonforthis

      Oh my goodness, my friend. As someone who also suffers from anxiety (and used to have work-related panic attacks on a regular basis), I’m sending you all the good vibes and offering it up to the universe to get you into another job ASAP. I’m not a religious person, but if I were, I’d be willing to be that your horrible boss’s future abode will be somewhere very hot and fiery.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood

      First off, good job on you for doing some job searching on your vacation day!
      Second, I have the sneaking feeling that your (bad) manager is herself in trouble and trying to deflect it.
      Which leads me to a possibly unpleasant thought.. have you any idea what you’ll want to do if *she* gets fired by the owners and they try to hire you for that thankless job? It’s the kind of situation where I could see myself agreeing to something simply because I was caught flat-footed — and then kicking myself later. So I’m suggesting it so you think about it.
      We’re all rooting for you!

      1. Merci Dee

        I was thinking along the same lines — what if TGLC leaves so that it’s just Hellmouth and boss . . . and then boss gets fired because of all the ridiculous antics that TGLC reports to HR? I could easily see Hellmouth getting promoted to site manager, at least on a temporary basis until they could bring in someone who was =not= a workplace Dementor. But, hey! If Hellmouth gets bumped up the ladder to management, at least she’ll know where to come for excellent managerial advice! :)

        1. Armchair Analyst

          Good luck, Hellmouth. You can leave any time you want to or need to. We support you.

      2. Pilcrow

        I’m thinking along these lines as well. You know the saying, shit rolls downhill? I think her meeting topics are a reflection of something the corporate office is handing down, so she’s passing the crap on to you.

      3. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I actually have considered this (although I don’t know how likely her removal actually is) and my thoughts all go back to DO NOT WANT. I’ll pass if that situation ever comes to pass. I just want to find something in a different industry and leave foreeeeeeeeeever (not that I will tell them that, I will just say that I’m not ready for the responsibility).

    10. Cowgirlinhiding

      Can you get unemployment if you quit? It might be worth it so you can job hunt full time. Sorry that it is that bad. You shouldn’t have to be treated that way, ever!

      1. Hallowflame

        I don’t think this is an option for Hellmouth. In her state, the eligibility requirements when it comes to quitting are pretty limiting: ” If you quit your job, you won’t be eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had good cause because of a substantial change to your employment by your employer. In general, good cause means that your reason for leaving the position was job-related and was so compelling that you had no other choice than to leave. For example, if you left your job because of dangerous working conditions or sexual harassment that your employer refused to stop, you may be able to collect benefits.”
        She might be able to make a case under unsafe working conditions because of the multiple threats and attacks by tenants, but I wouldn’t bet my paycheck on it.

        1. I Work on a Hellmouth

          Yep, it would be almost impossible to get unemployment. Unless another person tries to assault me, maybe? Boss has been knowingly riling up the residents with some really petty leasing violations and $20 fines, and also has been towing a large number of cars on property, though, so maybe someone else will force their way into my office… not that I’m hoping for any such thing, I just think that would be the only way I *might* be able to get unemployment if I quit. They make it VERY difficult here.

    11. Pebbles

      It’s great that TGLC is getting out, and I know you can too!

      Quite frankly, your boss should have zero employees.

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        I agree. A part of me prays I am able to give notice before anyone new is hired. Just to see the expression on her face. Also because I want to be gooooooone.

    12. Nerdy Library Clerk

      Zero office employees is the least of what she deserves.

      I hope you find a new (sane!) job before GLC is replaced, leaving Boss Horrible fending off the Squirrel Army all by herself!

      1. I Work on a Hellmouth

        The Squirrel Army really seems to dislike her for some reason–or at least her giant Humvee. They throw a lot of stuff at it.

    13. NewNameJustForThisBecause

      I don’t know about the laws in your state, but I was able to take sick leave then disability when I broke down emotionally. I’m in a very liberal state, but I had a doctor’s appointment, started talking to her, and just… lost it. Sobbing. I was not intending to take disability, but she kindly insisted that I was not well served by trying to return to work until I was better.
      She wrote me the doctor’s letter, and I got disability. Never, ever, ever in a million years did I think that I wouldn’t be able to hold it together – but honestly, it was such a relief to have that time off.
      So… look into disability…. you don’t have to mention that you are job hunting too (that was part of my mental recovery, not having the toxic job.).
      Again, so unlike me (and you)… but you have that same “stiff up lip, soldier on” push forward approach I see in myself… and sometimes… sometimes you do need to recognize that the anxiety bubbling to the surface actually has a whole cauldron boiling underneath.

      1. pcake

        I’m in California, and when I broke down, I, too, got disability. I had been working under awful conditions, the pressure was ramping up as were the hours, and I fell apart. My doctor said I suffered from burn-out syndrome and gave me first a month and then two more months off.

        Document what you can, keep copies of unreasonable emails from your boss, and of all the things you tell us about here – the dangerous stuff and the rest.

        Best of luck to you, and I hope you get to do something relaxing and pleasant this weekend to refresh and recharge.

  38. Boney

    I’ve been underweight my whole life and am ashamed enough that I don’t own any bathing suits, shorts, or short sleeve shirts despite living in an area where summer temperatures reach up to 100 degrees. I hate when people point out how skinny I am, comment on my eating habits, or make “jokes” about it.

    What can I say when coworkers do this? Saying that I hate being skinny and don’t want comments on it gets me lectures on how “lucky” I am and how grateful I should be, which I don’t argue with because I’m so embarrassed to be talking about my body at work and just shut down. It’d be nice to turn around the comments and make them think about how they’d feel (i.e. “How would you feel if I said you needed to eat less because you’re too fat?” or “How would you feel if I said ‘Oh my god! Look at how fat you are!'”) but I worry that that would be “inappropriate” for work since it could imply that I’m calling them fat.

    A complicating factor is that all my life I’ve eaten a ton of junk food on purpose thinking I might gain weight (I didn’t) and I’ve always avoided exercising in fear of losing weight. About a year ago I found out you can be “skinny-fat” (i.e. be skinny but have the health issues of an obese person). So I started a light exercise routine and have been gradually eating more healthy food and less junk food. I already eat lunch alone so that I don’t have to deal with comments on my eating habits, but I’m afraid of how people will react if I decline to eat birthday cake or home baked cookies since everyone thinks I “need to put some meat on my bones.” I’m feeling resentful about having to eat junk food in order to avoid extra comments on my weight.

    1. NotMyRealName

      I think they are projecting their own insecurities on you here. Just say no thanks and move on .

    2. KatieKate

      “That’s a weird comment.”
      “Why would you say that?”
      “Huh.” *stare at them until they go away*

      1. Bostonian

        Yes. And, if you want to be more chilly:
        “My body is not up for discussion at work”
        “That’s a rude thing to say”
        “Don’t talk about my body, it makes me uncomfortable”

        If they say how lucky you are: “I don’t consider it lucky to be sick” (if you don’t mind giving that detail)

        I find it admirable that you’re making food and exercise choices with the goal of being healthy. Try not to let anyone’s rude and insecure comments affect you. (easier said than done)

        1. Michaela Westen

          I’m also skinny since I had a sudden weight loss from stress. During the next few years I had moments when I was afraid I’d waste away and die.
          Maybe use that? “Yes I’m so lucky, only a few pounds between me and a health crisis”, or something like that.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Honestly, commenting on your body (even if they think they’re being positive) is really rude, and you’re within your rights to be rather icy with them about it. “Please don’t comment on my weight” is a perfectly acceptable thing to say. “How would you feel if I said X” can really backfire on you, because they might be making comments that they themselves think they’d be okay with! I’ve heard a lot of people say something like ‘Oh, I’d want someone to speak up if they thought I should eat better’ (which I’m convinced is utter tripe, but there you go…).

      1. Astor

        Please don’t use this one or anything else that involves “turning it around” on someone. If I was a bystander to this response, I’d be thinking badly of both of you.

        “It’s not okay to comment on other people’s bodies,” is okay. “I’m surprised that someone as usually kind as you is commenting on other people’s bodies,” is okay. Anything that implies that there’s a right and wrong body for making comments is not.

        But also, OP, I’m sorry, that really sucks to be constantly in that situation, I’m sorry.

    4. Paige

      Would you be comfortable saying something like “it’s a medical thing?” That would probably shut people up.

      1. CastIrony

        It’d shut ME up! Then again, I know better than to make such comments. It hurts everyone. I hope everyone stops soon! Just. Stops.

        1. Paige

          I lost a bit of weight a year ago, and I was astonished at how much people commented on it. And occasionally, when asked how I did it, I would lose patience and tell them the truth: my blood pressure had skyrocketed, I had to go off birth control, I was not happy about having to go off birth control, and I would gain it back in a couple months.

          1. WellRed

            A couple years ago on a biz trip, my coworker and I bumped into an acquaintance we know well, well enough to know that she has battled health issues. My coworker commented that acquaintance looked well and “have you lost weight”? or some such as I cringed on the inside thinking “noooooooo!” The acquaintance: “Yes, that’s what stomach cancer does to you.”

            1. only acting normal

              I remember cringing in horror when someone, who I knew had advanced cancer, was celebrating losing weight without realising it was probably a VERY BAD SIGN. :(

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

              People did this to my uncle when he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Yes, he was a very obese man for most of his life and was in a way pleased to be able to fit into some of his old clothes, but it was a very bitter consolation prize.

    5. canary

      I’ve had this problem before, and it is really frustrating. Would you feel comfortable saying in a serious tone, “Please don’t comment on my weight or eating habits” or “I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss anyone’s weight or food choices.” ?

    6. Alex

      What they are doing is gross and inappropriate! “Please don’t comment on my weight; it makes me uncomfortable.” Is a perfectly polite and appropriate way to respond to these awful comments. It implies “how would I like it if I called you fat?” without actually having to say that.

      A less confrontational thing to say may be “Healthy food and exercise is good for everyone” in response to comments about why you are eating a salad or something like that.

      1. Spool of Lies

        I think your first suggestion is good but the second one is almost bound to launch a debate about what constitutes “healthiness” so I would steer clear.

    7. Seifer

      Oh man. The skinny-fat thing was me to a tee. I’m still too small to give blood, so I get some grumbling when the blood drive comes around and I’m the only person that doesn’t sign up to donate. One of the women in accounting pinches my arm whenever I come by because I’m just so skinny! Probably the most ridiculous comment I got when I declined food was when some guy I worked with said, “come on! No one wants to f*ck a bag of bones!” This, thankfully was not at my current company, but it was still like… really? We’re in a workplace.

      I make it dreadfully boring to comment on these things because I just don’t react anymore. When the woman in accounting pinches my arm and exclaims, “ugh! You’re just so skinny!” I say, “okay. Here are the invoices that I approved. I’m still going over the TPS report, but I’ll have it for you by the end of the day.” And then I walk off. When there are donuts and someone says, “oh, Seifer needs a donut, she needs more meat on those bones!” I say, “maybe later, I have to review these reports with the engineers.” And then I walk off. With that guy from one of my old jobs, I just straight up told him that I didn’t ask for his opinion. That was the only time I was cold, because he was inappropriate. When my manager asked me about it later, because of course the guy got his feelings hurt and said I was being mean to him “for no reason,” I asked my manager how else I was supposed to respond when someone insinuates that f*cking me is like f*cking a bag of bones and so I should eat more so that my body is more pleasing for those people lining up to f*ck me. I didn’t get in trouble.

      But anyway. Make it uninteresting. Don’t give reasons. Not even a, “I’m just trying to stay healthy!” because that opens the door to arguments (“just one isn’t going to mess up your diet, come on!”). Just a simple, I’m good, and move on.

      1. Jules the 3rd

        Pinching you is also totally inappropriate. I would totally be using the ‘extreme version of natural reaction’ (eg, visibly pull back, yell ‘ow’ really loudly, and ask ‘why are you pinching me? Please don’t touch me!’) against her. That’s awful.

        GREAT response on the guy from the old job – he deserved that, and then some.

      2. Quandong

        I’m so sorry you’ve been subjected to this appalling treatment from colleagues, as well as sexual harassment.

        The woman who pinches your arm is completely out of line. Apart from her comment being incredibly rude, it’s not okay for her to touch or hurt you.

        If you want to tell her to stop, and that you will involve your boss if she doesn’t stop, please do so. You deserve to be safe from harm at work.

    8. Maya Elena

      One approach may be to think about why you don’t like having your slimness on display, and what can be done to address that?

      For either men or women (I don’t know your gender), a popular suggestion seems to be weight-lifting, or sports in general. I personally don’t like strenuous exercise, but it does seem as though an aggressive exercise routine can help you with 1) putting on muscle weight (and thus total aggregate weight), 2) giving your body tone so you feel more attractive in revealing clothes, and 3) forcing you to eat more and better.

      More female-specific (though not exclusively), but it could also be a matter of how you dress? E.g. baggy cargo pants and T-shirts vs. tight jeans and form-fitting blouse with curve-accentuating patterns make for a VERY different look and feel. It seems like an easy cycle to fall into it (and I fell into it, though not due to skinniness) of: “my body is ugly, so I want to hide it with clothes, nice clothes are for shallow people anyway, who will make fun of my body when I show up in wanna-be nice clothes, why upset myself by even trying”, etc. – but these can be projections not necessarily rooted in reality of how most people see you or will react to you. If you can go and find yourself clothes that make you feel *attractive* – e.g. a form-fitting dress with curve-accentuating stripes – and dress that way more consistently (or just know that you can dress that way when you feel like it) might make those comments about being skinny less triggering. [Note – do not bring your mom on such a shopping trip if she’s likely to say “this totally fits” when it totally doesn’t, or will shame you for being vain or anti-feminist or whatever.]

      1. A Person

        I disagree with this comment. I don’t think this person should spend time and effort thinking about how these other people see them, especially as they are already doing the healthy step of finding ways to be more healthy for them!

        Finding clothing you like and feel good in is great, but I don’t think this person sounds like they dislike being “on display”, they just dislike people who are super rude!

      2. Jules the 3rd

        I also disagree with this comment.

        It’s really inappropriate for people to comment on her weight – the existence of such comments imply that Boney’s body is public property, for anyone to critique. It’s not.

        Saying that Boney should get used to it, and dress to feel happier about getting comments, normalizes the idea that Boney’s body is public property. That’s not ok.

      3. Quandong

        I disagree with your comment Maya Elena. It’s not okay for people to make these comments to Boney.

        Boney does not have to change anything about their appearance. They do not have to try and hide their body to avoid unacceptable comments.

        The people around them need to stop saying anything about Boney’s body, full stop.

    9. Thursday Next

      I think you should respond as anyone would to unwanted comments about their body:

      “Please stop commenting on my body.”
      If needed, add, “It’s not appropriate in the workplace.”
      “Please stop commenting on what I eat or don’t eat.”
      If needed, add, “Like most people, I don’t like it when people talk about my diet.”

      Next-level responses:
      “I’ve already told you to stop talking about my body/diet. Please stop.”

      Third-level

      “ I don’t understand why you’re so interested/obsessed with my body, but you’re making me uncomfortable and you need to stop. At this point, I need to involve our supervisor/grand-boss.”

      1. Qwerty

        These are all great responses! Society has a weird obsession with being skinny and some people seem unable to understand that it is not a compliment to comment on someone’s thinness.

        I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this! I was underweight for a good chunk of my life too, so I get what you are going through with everyone monitoring your size and eating habits. Even now, I have to hide my breakfast shake because people see the Slimfast label and assume I’m dieting, when really I’m having it to ensure that I get enough protein/vitamins. (Fun fact, it did cause weight gain when I had a chocolate one every night for dessert because I loved the taste, so the joke is on them)

      2. Jules the 3rd

        Yes, these. These are great. Short and to the point, professional. Practice them in the mirror or with a friend.

      3. Quandong

        These are fantastic, and I especially appreciate the Third-level response. Boney, I hope you feel as though you can escalate to get your supervisor or HR involved if your colleagues do not stop commenting after you try the first two levels of response.

    10. KR

      “Hm, you know it’s considered rude to comment on people’s bodies.” And then just act like they said nothing.

      Can you or have you mastered the technique of raising one eye brow?

      “I’ll pretend you didn’t just say that.”

    11. blink14

      In the past 10-12 years (so most of my 20s, my early 30s, and all of my work experience outside of part time jobs) I have been at my lowest weight and at my highest weight. My weight gain was triggered by steroids necessary to treat an acute illness, and I have struggled for about 10 years now with increasing weight gain, no matter what I do. I’ve finally been approved for a treatment for an immune condition and I’m hoping with better health, I can lose weight.

      I never thought I was exceptionally thin at my lowest weight – it was still well within a healthy range for my height and age, and actually considered on the higher end weight wise. But dang, looking back at pictures, I was THIN. And people commented on it. And I was young, just out college, eating well most days but also eating fast food and candy and living on energy drinks and alcohol.

      Now at my highest weight, I don’t each much fast food, I don’t drink much anymore, and people comment on my weight (mostly family but I’m sure it’s commented on behind my back by others). My point is, no matter what weight you are at, people are going to make comments, because that is what people do. And it can really wear you down, but my best advice is to focus on what you are doing to be more healthy and to live your life in a positive way.

      I personally have found that being open with my medical conditions has shut down a lot of comments, and I’ve also said hey, it’s none of your business. At the end of the day, everyone has something they can work on to be more healthy – mentally and physically – no one is perfect. Find the answer that works best for you – and enjoy the cake or snacks at work if you want it, and if you don’t, that’s totally fine to. But make that decision based on your own feelings, not how people are going to look at you. Once you start really ignoring the comments, most of it should fade away on it’s own.

      1. Mr. Tyzik

        I feel you. I lost 80lbs of my 100lb. goal from my highest point, then went on a new medication and gained 60lbs back. I got comments about the loss, the low point, my clothes, my diet, and my eventually gain-back.

        I had always thought of myself as fat in HS, but I was comparing myself to supermodels. When I look at old pictures, I’m amazed at how thin I was.

        1. blink14

          I know! I actually was thinner in my early to mid 20s than I was in high school – by about 2 sizes, and I was fairly thin in high school. I cannot believe how thin I was about 10 years ago and I didn’t think I was thin! Weird how the mind works.

          Wishing you luck!

    12. Parenthetically

      “I was always taught that it’s rude to comment on people’s bodies.”

      “I was always taught that it’s rude to comment on people’s eating habits.”

      “I’d rather not hear comments about my body or eating habits at work, thanks.”

      Gods, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. People are awful.

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Honestly they’re vile and I’m sorry that this is a thing that happens, I know it’s true, I had an underweight friend for many years who dealt with it.

      They love to be blissfully ignorant or not understand that this could also be attributed to an eating disorder. It’s all about appearances with them and they don’t understand the mental aspects.

      I’m evil though and would resort to comments about having ED, even if I didn’t have it. Just like in high school, when I was razzed about not drinking at a party, some snotty guy asked me if I learned that [saying no, I had to drive home soon] from my mom. My response was ‘I learned it in AA, I actually have a problem with alcohol.” Deadpan. Stared at him in the face and his face fell and he scurried away never to speak to me again.

    14. Hope

      I’m going to give you the same advice I give myself though I’m at the opposite end of the norm–you do you, and ignore what other people think. Your life is yours, not theirs.

      People are going to make idiotic, mean, hurtful comments no matter what you look like, skinny or fat or anywhere in-between. It is really awful that some people feel the need to body shame others, but it helps to remind yourself that what they’re saying is really much more about them than it is you.

      Sometimes, if you want to shut the comments down, it’s actually more helpful to just agree. “Yep, I am ____. Great observation skills.” “No, I don’t want to eat that.” “Yeah, I’ve heard that joke a thousand times, and it’s getting old.”

    15. It's Pronounced Bruce

      I used to get this at an old job. I’m sometimes quite underweight because of health issues, and there are some people who can’t help but comment on their own insecurities at others.

      The “let’s not talk about my body/food/whatever” suggested by others does work sometimes. Especially when someone comments on you being very thin, a sad furrow of the eyebrows and a quiet “Yeah, I’ve been sick…” will often shut people up. When someone is pushing food, a firm “I just don’t want it” with a tone that says “why are you being weird about this” does the trick a lot of the time.

      But if someone is a real turd and keeps making snide comments about your choices, sometimes having a sorta smarmy attitude back is the only thing that works, because shame sure as hell won’t. I had a “must be nice” coworker who always had something to say and eventually I just started responding that yeah, it’s great! It’s really nice! I eat whatever I want and don’t go to the gym, it’s fabulous! It’s not actually fabulous, but not shrinking is just about the only thing that ruins the fun of someone who’s trying to make you feel self-conscious or ashamed.

    16. Serin

      Can I TELL you all how much I despise the phrase “skinny fat”? We do NOT redefine “fat” so that suddenly it means “with health issues.” I’ve got steam coming out my ears right now.

      Not your fault, Boney — I’ve got steam coming out my ears on your behalf too. I agree with all those who suggest saying things like, “Please don’t comment on my body or my food.”

      If nice people offer you sweets, you can just say, “Oh, not today, but thank you.” If people try to bully you into taking sweets, go back to, “I’d prefer not to discuss my eating.”

      1. Parenthetically

        Yep. Hate that, fuming right along with you. Especially because the actual research shows things like being in the “overweight” BMI category is protective, particularly as one ages, against a raft of illness. And that behavioral changes strongly impact those “obesity-linked” diseases even when they have no impact on weight.

        Health-promoting choices matter (as much as any choices matter with regard to health) regardless of body shape or size, and are also exactly 0% anyone’s business but an individual and their doctor. People who give other people sh*t because of body size are utterly missing the point of everything and deserve to be thumped.

    17. TiffanyAching

      Captain Awkward has a good catch-all that I think would work here: “Wow, what an odd thing to say to a coworker.” And then either go back to what you were doing or pivot to some work-related topic.

      I totally get the resentful about modifying your food intake thing. I have Weird Food Habits for Medical Reasons, and also went through a period of being underweight where everyone commented on how skinny I was and why didn’t I eat more, etc. It sucks. If you can, I found it actually helped a little to eat what I wanted/needed when I wanted/needed, instead of trying to modify to avoid the comments. After a while people got used to it and stopped commenting on Tiffany’s 3pm Yogurt.

    18. Not A Manager

      I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe someone said this already.

      I think that in this case, when you talk about your feelings (“I hate being skinny,” or even “I don’t like to talk about my weight”), people feel invited to tell you how you SHOULD feel.

      Instead, try talking about behavior – theirs and yours. “Please don’t comment on my weight.” “I don’t discuss my body at work.” “Let’s not talk about what people are eating.” “No, I don’t care for any, thank you.”

      I think that all of this hiding your body and skulking at lunch time isn’t good for you. Do you have friends or a counselor who can help you find ways to feel safer presenting as you really are, a healthy skinny person?

    19. Ellie

      I’ve dealt with something on the continuum of body monitoring, and you know what stops people in their tracks? Look them in the eye, completely seriously, and say, “Meth.” Give that a second to sink in and go back to what you’re doing. The person making the comments will usually make the connection between “ask a stupid question, get a stupid response.” (I would NEVER mock someone dealing with substance abuse or make light of the havoc methamphetamines wreak on the human body!!! But I had reached the end of my rope with comments, and it came out unexpectedly, and it prompted the person speaking to me to stop and assess the topic of conversation, it’s appropriateness in the work place, etc.)

    20. gwal

      “I recognize that you’re trying to give me a compliment but I’m really uncomfortable to hear about other people’s evaluations of my body. Could we please talk about something else?”

  39. Audiophile

    I had an interesting conversation with my boss this morning as we rejected a potential vendor.

    He said any time he’s rejecting a job candidate, he does it over the phone. This kind of blew my mind since I think I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been rejected over the phone. He said his reason for doing this is he feels it’s more personal and since they met face to face he believes it’s rude to reject them via email.

    Personally, I’d rather be rejected through email. I generally need time to process my thoughts and feelings, especially if it was a job I really wanted.

    He recounted a story about rejecting a candidate, who after being rejected politely told my boss what he would have brought to the table. The candidate wasn’t trying to change his mind, just sharing his thoughts about the organization. My boss said the candidate actually swayed him in that moment, and while he didn’t change his mind or rescind the other person’s offer (thankfully), he offered to help the candidate in anyway he could. The candidate took him up on the offer and asked if he’d call another company on his behalf and basically act as a reference. My boss agreed and the candidate was hired for the other job. The entire scenario sounded so strange.

    I’m glad it worked out for everyone, but I still fall on the side of send me an email.

    I’m curious – do you prefer to be rejected through email or over the phone?

    If you’re like my boss and you prefer to reject someone over the phone, I’d love to hear why. It really is bewildering to me.

    1. londonedit

      Urgh no, I’d never want to be rejected over the phone! If you’re waiting for a response about a job, then you’re going to automatically assume it’s good news if they call you (seeing as most people email these days), so then you’re going to have to have the most awkward conversation where you’re trying to be all ‘Oh! No, that’s absolutely fine, thank you so much for letting me know!’ breezy while inside you’re really disappointed. It’s not fair. Also, if you email, then the person has a chance to open and read the email when they’re ready, rather than being blindsided by a call when they’re in the middle of the supermarket or on their way home from work or whatever.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’ve never been rejected by phone call, I’ve only ever had job offers. I’d be blindsided and pretty wrecked if someone called to “kindly” reject me. No, either ghost me or break up with me over email, maaaaaaan. No thank you.

      The only in person rejection I ever got [I’ve told this story a few times] in person was when I had a “stop by in person to apply” advertisement. And so I did…the lady looked at my resume and then asked me if I had ever done social media [for a small town, independently owned business, odd request and nobody really does that…] so I answered honestly about never doing it on a business level, being familiar with social media on a personal level and being able to learn anything that’s necessary for their position though. She just sighed, said “I could figure it out too but I want someone who already know s” and handed me back my resume telling me that it wasn’t going to happen. I just kind of fell silent, it was so bizarre.

      Then she did offer me some “quiet” advice that “so and so is also hiring” and was all “I shouldn’t tell you this but” as her way of “helping me out”, despite the fact she thought in her own mind she shouldn’t assist a woman who was looking for a job. It wasn’t the anyone who’s a competitor even but yeah, she seriously did the “hush-hush” thing while telling me about another job listing. A job listing I had already applied to because it was in the classified ads FFS, lol.

      I would have preferred she just say “I’m just now accepting applications and I’ll call if we’re interested after seeing the candidate pool”.

    3. Cercis

      I’ve had rejections by phone three times and they absolutely SUCKED. In none of them did they have ideas for how I could improve my candidacy in the future or anything I could use. Instead it was about seeing how graciously I could say “oh, well congrats on finding the right person for the job.” Although one took it further and told me I should apply for the administrative assistant job opening up, after hiring someone with fewer qualifications than I had for the job I wanted. And then argued with me when I said that I’ve been an admin and I really sucked at it (objectively sucked).

      My husband said she was trying to give me advice – that their agency only promotes from within, so if I wanted a job with them, I needed to start as an admin. Which may be what she was trying to do, but in that case, the job will never be in the cards for me, I’m not dropping back to making less than $30k/year and doing work that I totally suck at (as one friend put it “your responsibility exceeds your authority” as an admin and I just don’t have patience for the myriad amounts of petty shit that admins deal with).

      (Side note, that was three years ago and the guy they hired over me STILL hasn’t gotten a required certification, so I’m still pretty damned bitter about it.)

    4. merp

      I got a voicemail rejection once, because I was in class when he called. The weird thing is that he sounded like he felt terrible about it, just really apologetic. I almost wished I could have answered so I could tell him it was honestly fine. Or that he could have just sent me an email!

    5. Meredith

      A call does seem more personal. Written communication often lacks emotional warmth or intent. (How many emails have you received in your life that come off as curt or brusque just because that’s the writing style of the person sending it?) A short conversation seems appropriate. “Hi Jane! It was so nice to speak with you and get to know you a bit last week. Listen, we thought you were really qualified and a great candidate, but unfortunately we’ve decided to go another way. Good luck in your search!”

      I’d appreciate either, since it seems the norm for companies to just not let you know if you haven’t been chosen, except via silence, but I might be especially delighted by a phone call.

      For the record, I still remember a fairly warm letter from a graduate program I applied to almost a decade ago. Rather than the standard, “we are unable to offer you placement at this time,” they laid out the fact that they had 105 people apply for the program and could only accept 4. The rest of the wording was akin to, “So we had some really qualified and delightful candidates we just couldn’t bring on. We’re really sorry and really hope you find placement at another program. Keep it up!” I mean… yeah, they probably sent that letter to all 101 people who were rejected, but it honestly made me feel better about it. A sympathetic phone call would probably do the same. And even if I was REALLY disappointed, well, the manager won’t see my face. I can fake nice and be thankful for the opportunity for 2 minutes.

    6. Turtlewings

      I’ve never been rejected over the phone, but boy would I hate it. If they’re calling, I would assume it meant I got the job, so that would be an awful awkward moment. And then I get to deal with whatever feelings of frustration or disappointment live in front of an audience? No thanks! (I do appreciate actually hearing a No instead of just eternal silence. But not over the phone!)

    7. NativeForeigner

      I have always been rejected by mail (older days snail mail) whether is it job, school admission or other, like romantic affair. Never ever in phone and at face only in some schools, often publicly.

      And email is definitely the best way to do it. It is awkward to hear it in phone, as there is nothing to say. I want to be alone when hearing bad news.

      1. College Career Counselor

        I actually don’t (usually) mind a rejection over the phone, because it gives me the opportunity to probe on what they were looking for that I didn’t have. Most of the time, that’s information I can’t do anything about (went with internal candidate/knew the institution better), but sometimes it’s useful (we thought you could have handled X question better).

    8. CM

      I’ve had it both ways and I prefer email. I once had a hiring manager play phone tag with me for three days just so she could tell me I was rejected. I was working a job where I couldn’t have my phone on me, so it was really hard for us to line up a time when we were both available to talk. Instead of telling me over voicemail that I was rejected, she just kept asking me to call her back and talk to her — which I assumed meant good news, because why would we need to actually talk to each other if she was just calling as a courtesy to let me know it was over? When I finally managed to catch her and found out it was just so she could say goodbye, I was pretty annoyed.

      That’s my worst phone call story. I’ve done it enough that I just kind of say “Okay, it was nice to meet you, thanks for letting me know, etc, etc” automatically, but I like that email gives me the option to choose when I actually read it and brace myself in cases where it’s going to feel disappointing.

    9. ArtsNerd

      The only time I was ever rejected by phone (voicemail really) it was because the hiring manager was legitimately frustrated at the way things progressed (I think they decided to change what the job was after the interviews or something) and wanted to explicitly invite me to stay in touch. Which I did!

      That said, a regular job rejection should be by email, always. Personalized, sure. But not by phone.

    10. MayLou

      All but one of my rejections after interview have been by phone, and I appreciate it (the other one was by post, it took days to get to me!). I have received helpful feedback every time, although admittedly one time I ended up crying with frustration when the feedback was that I should have more confidence because I was a very strong candidate. That was an admin role at a counselling and therapy office though so the crying was less unusual for them!

    11. cmcinnyc

      I got rejected for a fellowship by phone. I was one of three finalists, so I guess they figured they could suck it up and make two calls. (the 3rd call had to be more fun!) I will say, this person I dealt with (interviews, etc.) is now part of my network and I reached out to him recently with a query and he was more than helpful. So, no, I didn’t get the fellowship but I got a professional relationship. I wouldn’t call someone to reject them unless they were someone firmly in my professional network who I’d be interacting with again and again, or I wanted that person to become a part of my network.

    12. Elizabeth West

      Nooooo. Please use email. It’s like doctor stuff, only the opposite. When the doctor calls you HERSELF with test results, you think it’s bad news. This happened to me earlier today.

      Please, just use a go-between. Personal contact from an employer makes me think the news is good.

      1. T. Boone Pickens

        As someone who unfortunately has to reject lots of people for jobs I’ve found the following formula works for me:

        Initial application/1st interview/phone screen=email rejection

        Anything beyond that will warrant a phone call from me. The reason I do the phone call is I’m relentless with my clients about the feedback piece and if a candidate gets rejected I want to be able to share something with them to hopefully help them down the road.

        Now, I realize my approach is different but I’m also a 3rd party recruiter that owns my company versus a corporate recruiter that doesn’t have as much stake in the game. I also spend a fair bit of time with my candidates doing prep before the interviews and debriefs after the interviews so I’m apt to build more of a relationship than the traditional job seeker/company scenario. Additionally, I work within only a few verticals so just because a candidate isn’t a fit for one of my openings doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be a fit for others so it’s important for me to keep in touch with folks.

        Lastly, interviewing for jobs sucks. It’s stressful, time-consuming and generally zero fun. If nothing else, I try to add a human element to it.

        1. Elizabeth West

          It does suck–and I still don’t want you to call me if I’m being rejected. Please just put the feedback into the email. If you don’t want to hire me, I don’t want to talk to you because I’m likely going to be disappointed and won’t really hear what you have to say. If you email me, I can digest that feedback (and refer back to it), and the rejection won’t sting quite so much.

        2. anonagain

          I agree with Elizabeth West. Put the feedback in an email. You can always follow up with the person later if there’s another position that’s a good fit.

          1. T. Boone Pickens

            I appreciate the insight from you two. It’s something I’ll definitely consider going forward.

        3. Easily Amused

          I think a phone call from a third party recruiter is normal and acceptable. It’s different than hearing a response from a direct hire situation. With direct hire, it’s yes or no and goodbye. With third party, it’s yes – do you want to move forward with this offer? (in which you build a negotiation plan) or no but… (in which you build a plan to see what else is out there that might be a fit). At least that’s been my experience.

    13. pcake

      I’d rather be rejected by email. I have no desire to have to interact and be polite right after I’ve been given bad news.

    14. Luna

      Last time I was rejected over the phone, I was in public, at a very populated place, and I started crying. Thank goodness it was raining and I had an umbrella, that allowed me at least a bit of an excuse to hide my face!

      I don’t care if I get rejected over phone or e-mail, but I might say I prefer e-mail a little more. It may be a little less personal, but that is also a good thing. The only way I would prefer being rejected over the phone is if I were to be given a decent conversation, including some reasons for why I was not chosen and/or how I had impressed them previously, even if it wasn’t enough to get the job.

      But if it’s just a standard, “We have chosen to not consider you for this position any longer”, I’d prefer it in e-mail. Otherwise it’s just a waste of everyone’s time, and e-mail is faster.

  40. Anon16

    My boss recently asked me to speak with two of our high school interns about office etiquette. I have a couple of things I wanted to talk about, but I’m having trouble jogging my memory. Does anyone have any ideas? This would be soft skills or unspoken etiquette that you may have to learn over time. I’m especially interested in things taken from your professional life, either things you’ve noticed in other more green employees, or things you’ve had to learn yourself.

        1. WomanOfMystery

          I’m not the professor, but creating a polite, short(!) email is a valuable skill. You can put in up to one personal comment (ie. Have a good weekend! or Sorry for the delay–I had the flu.) , unless you’re close with the person you’re emailing. Also, don’t indent paragraphs in an email, just as a general norm.

        2. Minerva McGonagall

          Having a greeting that doesn’t start with hey can u help. Writing out in sentences and using punctuation, not using u and y for the full word, and capitalizing appropriately. Don’t write a novel, and don’t include a thousand questions that can get lost in the email. Start it like a conversation, that it’s back and forth.

          Also having a professional style email account, not hotsurfer69, is something I stress to all our graduating students who will lose their uni email account in 6 months.

        3. CTT

          If I may add something: never send a reply-all! Or to think about it every time you do. When I was a summer associate, the other interns kept this one reply-all going for HOURS between us and one attorney who just wanted to know when we wanted to leave for an event, and instead they were spamming her with inside jokes.

          1. Anon16

            You know what’s funny? I had the opposite problem. The two high school students didn’t reply all and the people on the email chain missed important information. I actually think a go-to is to reply all if other people are cc’d. The point is they’re cc’d because they want to hear the info.

            I agree, don’t reply all if it’s a company-wide email or if you’re going off topic…

            1. Yorick

              Yes, explain to them how to decide whether to reply all or just reply to sender and that they need to not default to one or the other.

        4. Deb Morgan

          Please teach them that if they get an email that they don’t have an answer for right away, they should respond to the message and say some variation of, “I saw your email, and I need to look into this, but I will get back to you once I have an answer.” I wish someone had told me this before I spent most of my first job not responding to emails for days and irritating the heck out of my coworkers :/

    1. Amber Rose

      Professionally answering a phone. I can’t believe how many people I’ve worked with who answer the phone, “yeah?”

      Proper dress. Like, no exposed shoulders or shorts, in most places.

      Not wearing your heart on your sleeve. You can’t glare at people, mope around or sulk at work. You either talk out your concerns or you let them go.

    2. TotesMaGoats

      Dress code
      How to answer the phone or greet office visitors
      Food in the office (i.e. microwaving fish but also if you are working at the front desk where people come by don’t lay out a buffet of your lunch)
      Clean up your messes
      Cell phone/social media use (when it’s appropriate and not)

    3. Middle Manager

      One of the things I’ve had to talk to my entry level staff through in office etiquette is tailoring the information they share with staff at various levels. For example, I need pretty full details as their immediate supervisor whereas a senior executive has very little time and needs very high level short briefs. And thinking through what details are appropriate to share with internal staff vs. the public.

      1. Anon16

        Yes! – I was going to say, *try* to keep communication concise! This is hard for recent undergrads :)

        1. irene adler

          Yes!
          Voicemail:
          Don’t leave those multi-minute rambling voice mail messages with the return phone number at the end.
          Instead, give your name, then return phone number, topic and then a brief reason for the call. If needed, then give the additional, salient, details.
          When I play the message, I can get the return phone number at the beginning of the message and not have to listen to the whole thing a second time just for the phone number.

          Email:
          Please, state a reason for the email right up front. Don’t make me have to dig for what is needed.

          On a different tact:
          Manners- Please use them. Thank you!

          1. JanetM

            I generally leave my name and number at the beginning and end of a voicemail message, just in case.

          2. Elaine

            Yes to the phone number. And please say it clearly and not too fast! Someone may be writing it down rather than typing it, and they don’t want to have to listen several times to get the whole thing.

            1. Cloudy with sunny breaks

              Yeah, I do name, concise reason for calling then phone number, repeat my name and my phone number a second time and end the message. Makes it a little longer but hopefully people only need to listen once

    4. canary

      Appropriate topics of conversation in the workplace! This will vary depending on what your office culture is like, but in general: no sex, politics, religion, flirting, or rehashing of drama. In general, what’s going on in your personal life should not be brought into the office through attitude or discussion. (Obviously you can be excited for a vacation or sad about a breakup, but no blow-by-blows of spring break or sobbing over your girlfriend.

      1. WomanOfMystery

        Similarly, I would say to give a quick, warm “good morning” to everyone you encounter at your worksite. As an introvert who is nearly always thinking about ridiculous things, with friends I joke that I have an internal human Speak’n’Spell that generates “Good morning,” “Finally Friday,” or a comment on the weather. It’s done good things for my reputation.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood

          But don’t go desk-to-desk seeking people out in particular. Just those who you happen to meet.

    5. Tired

      Not etiquette, per say, but the fact that your work is not your worth. Being open to criticism is important in the workplace and it DOESN’T mean you’re a bad person if someone is critical of the work you’ve done.

      1. WellRed

        I’d like to add on to this, because I think it’s so common in younger adults: It’s business, it’s not personal. Not only accept feedback like this, but if someone, oh, isn’t chatty with you or seems a bit short today, it’s not about you. It’s them.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood

      Volume control!
      Don’t use your outside voice inside — it’s inside voice even when it’s a business conversation, and especially if you’re just chatting on break in an open office. Speak in low tones if you have an embarassing message like toiletpaper stuck to the bottom of someone’s shoe… not whispering. That carries farther than you’d expect and can be a pet peeve for someone. Speak clearly & project if you’re asked a question, because overly quiet voices can be misunderstood and sound like you don’t have faith in your answer.
      If they take nothing else away, thought, it’s that loud outdoor voices are for emergencies only: “The bathroom is flooding, who do I call?” or “There’s smoke coming out of the copier.”
      Thinking of copiers … they should also know how to figure out who is the right person for a task. For example, don’t assume the person who sits next to the copier is responsible for maintaining it or unjamming it. They may be willing — but a more polite thing to do is first look for a label with help-desk contact info, and second *ask* the people near the desk if they can tell you who is to be contacted about a problem. (For brownie points, follow up by posting a small tidy message with that info at the copier.)

    7. Parenthetically

      Chain of command stuff — if I have an issue with X, who do I take it to? What sorts of things should I speak to a coworker directly about, and when should I go to their (or my) supervisor? I find students get wildly mixed messages about tattling/reporting in school, so helping them sort through when to talk to a supervisor about problems in the office vs. when to handle it themselves would be helpful, and head off gossip.

    8. PhillyPhilly

      Who to take concerns to, and what level of concerns go where. Like personal issues vs professional issues and what’s worth living with versus taking it up the chain. Coworker said something rude do you go to boss or not? That sort of thing. I see a lot of new employees complaining to inappropriate places.

  41. L. S. Cooper

    How do I make my resume achievement-based instead of task-based when I haven’t really…. achieved anything? I think there’s value in steadily working and being consistent at what you’re assigned, but that doesn’t seem to be the right way to do a resume. I know I need to re-work it, but…. how? When there’s no interesting quantifiable or impressive outcomes for my work, how do I spin it into achievements?
    (I’m just starting in my career– graduated college in August, about to finish a web development bootcamp and looking to transition into that field.)

    1. foolofgrace

      Alison recommends comparing yourself to someone else doing the same job — how do you perform your duties differently from someone “ordinary”? And/or, how would you describe how well you do your job to a friend? I know I’m not describing this very well but I know it’s been covered, maybe you could check the archives, or someone else can chime in better than I’m doing.

    2. NativeForeigner

      Same problem here. I have “achievements” but they are very abstract and impossible to explain outsiders. As I am changing the career I have to explain everything to outsiders.

      All advice pages and blogs recommend to say that you increased the sales by 20 % or so. How many people ever work in positions where they can personally influence the sales by any quantifiable measure?

      I would definitely value those that steadily work and are consistent in what they’re assigned, if the job requirements fit that. It depends on the job, though, and current recruitment trend seems to seek for superheros only.

      1. MissDisplaced

        My achievements aren’t sales related typically. I also recently helped a friend with something like this, because she wasn’t quantifying anything she did, and her work dealt with very large budgets and a lot of vendors. Some examples from various areas might be.

        >Organized xx international trade shows, with an annual event budget of $xxx,xxx.
        >Created an average of x new email marketing pieces month, with an average clickthrough rate of 25%
        >Completed an average of xx department purchase orders for monthly, with amounts averaging $xxx,xxx.
        >Processed approximately x,xxxx accounts weekly, increasing response time by xx%
        >Initiated the launch of a comprehensive office safety program, which decreased incidents by x%
        >Spearheaded the selection and migration to Software X, including organizing training sessions for xxx employees.
        >Originated the Llama Wrangling Program, which serves xx clients per year.
        >Prepared written contracts for approximately x new accounts per month for senior sales management and managed the initial customer database setup for new accounts once approved.

        So, you can do this! Though sometimes you have to search for the numbers that go with it, and that can be tricky. It’s best to try and do this BEFORE you’re job hunting or get laid off. I now make it a point to collect this data in my work notes ongoing, because jobs nowadays are so insecure.

    3. CM

      Something that helped me: think of your CV as a document that builds the case for why you will be good at the job you’re applying for and then make your “achievements” pieces of evidence in that case. So, if you are applying for web development jobs, maybe talk about web projects you developed (as part of your training, even, if you haven’t done it professionally yet) and what the important features were (like, you organized the flow of information based on UX principles, or you really took advantage the features of of HTML5 or whatever). What you’re showing is “I did a thing and I did certain aspects of that thing really well — aspects of the thing that probably matter to you.”

      If you’re listing achievements from jobs outside the field you’re moving into, think about how the things you did demonstrate transferable skills and highlight those.

      It’s just, instead of framing it like, “I was responsible for doing X and I guess I showed up every day and did that” frame it more like, “I did project Y and I was really excellent at these aspects of it (and, for bonus points, here is my evidence to prove I was excellent — i.e., I got an award, or my coworkers complimented me about it, or I got promoted, or it was the first time we successfully launched this type of product, or whatever).”

    4. tech person

      I would also recommend explaining why it matters. For example, if you are doing data entry, saying that you entered x amount of data in a timely fashion meant that the sales team could run more up to date projection reports. Numbers are good but adding what that meant for the larger team matters so much more. I review a lot of technical resumes and just saying you built X when I don’t even know why your team needs or even wanted X doesn’t help differentiate you from all of the other people who can also do X.

  42. softcastle mccormick

    /vent/ We’re introducing a new teapot order tracking software system into work this week, and my nosy problem-coworker has been having actual temper tantrums because she isn’t “being consulted” about the changes. We’re a team of four, and the new software is mostly focused on my processes, so I’m having a lot of one-on-one meetings and discussions with our managers that she isn’t invited to, and it’s causing her to act out in surprisingly hostile ways. She corners me after each meeting, demanding to know why she wasn’t invited and who called it. She tried to make me show her my Outlook calendar, to see who all was included. She storms around aggressively, slamming her possessions around her desk, and frequently leans into my cubicle to complain how “dumb” our supervisors are, and how she knows more about the new processes than they do. She’s broken down in actual tears because I’m “getting more attention than her, even though she’s more experienced in the department.” She got so frustrated that she wasn’t invited to these one-on-ones, she rushed into our grandboss’s office and “told on” our supervisors for not including her!

    The thing is, though, there’s good reason she isn’t included. She constantly derails meetings with disruptive questions and non-sequitor jokes, never waiting until the Q&A. A meeting she’s a part of will often go well over the allotted time due to her questions. Now she’s taken to her (very public, very name-connected) Twitter, complaining about us all. I’m just at my wits end with this coworker. I’m so sick of her nosiness, her over-sharing, her insistence on creating drama. Our managers are so non-confrontational (and desperate to keep us), so all of her behavior goes unchallenged. Sigh, just needed to vent.

    1. Kathenus

      I know you said you just need to vent, but in case you did want any ideas – and you may already be doing this – the best thing to do here is just not react. Don’t feed into her drama, don’t try to explain the reasons, don’t listen to her vent and complain. Find a stock answer – ‘you should ask manager about that then’ or whatever and just use it every time. It may not change her behavior overall, but it’s likely to reduce her displaying it to you. And it sounds like she might trip herself up eventually on her own, if she does things like run to the grandboss. Don’t reinforce the behavior, and it’s likely to decrease around you at least.

    2. LadyByTheLake

      OMG — I swear I work with this person. She gets SO bent out of shape if she isn’t invited to every single thing — the thing is that she is one junior person whose role is fairly limited and there are many of us who are more senior who have full time obligations. But if she isn’t invited to EVERYTHING she pitches a hissy fit and then we get in trouble. Not only that, but if she does attend, all she does is complain about being too busy (stop going to meetings that don’t involve you) and she constantly derails the conversation because she’s completely multitasking and isn’t tracking what we’re talking about.

    3. Jen F

      I work with someone similar to this. It’s soooo hard. And even though she’s crossed lines over and over (with every employee), no one will fire her. At one point she insisted that I give her a written summary every time I talk to someone so that we have the same info. Or don’t talk to them alone. Unfortunately the only thing I found is to do what I need to do, regardless of her histrionics/pouting/passive-aggressive behavior. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s been 11 years. I have tried everything I could think of. I just don’t factor her ridiculousness into my decision-making. So hard though.

  43. I Think My Boss is in Trouble

    My boss is VERY difficult. At first I thought I was just being sensitive, but a month or so ago a manager (a peer of mine) took me aside and asked how working for Beth was. I shared my concerns with her, and I learned that Beth is basically enemies with everybody. (I’m her only report.)

    Things have gotten bad and I was planning on talking to Beth’s boss (the CEO) about it, but before I had a chance to, a senior manager took me aside and said that the CEO “is aware” and “is handling it.” I’m not sure if she means that I’m getting a new manager—I’m not sure why that would be a priority for the CEO before I’ve ever made a complaint—or if she’s getting fired. I really hope it’s the latter! I love my job otherwise butt she’s so toxic I’ve started looking.

    1. Not Me

      If you’re so unhappy that you’re looking for a new job you might want to still talk to the CEO. Just because they are working on it they might not realize how bad it really is. If they are already unhappy with your boss, the possibility of losing a good employee (you) over her performance might be the last straw.

      Good luck!

      1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters

        I agree. I think it’s possible that the CEO doesn’t realize that Beth is so toxic that you are looking to leave, although you don’t want to. The CEO may be planning to do something about this in the next couple of months but will make it more of a priority if he realizes he might lose you.

  44. MsChanandlerBong

    Has anyone else ever struggled to work within a flat organizational structure? If so, how did you make it work? All my past jobs have been in hierarchical organizations. Everybody pretty much had a well-defined set of duties. My current org has an extremely flat structure. In some ways, it is nice. I get to do things that I wouldn’t get to do if I had a really defined role. However, it also causes some problems. Everyone has access to everything else (files, email accounts, etc.), so we often end up duplicating each other’s efforts or taking totally different approaches to the same task, leading to confusion. We also have disagreements on how to handle things, which I think would be avoided if everybody had a defined role. For example, I do a lot of the recruiting, but every so often, my boss will ask my coworker to do something like send a mass email to recent applicants. He does it when I am off, so then I come back to 50 emails asking about this email that got sent out that I know nothing about.

    It’s just frustrating. It almost feels like a “too many cooks in the kitchen” scenario. I’ve found that it also makes it a lot easier for my job to keep growing without any increase in compensation. I’ve made the same amount per hour since 2016, but my job duties have expanded tremendously. Any tips?

    1. Sloan Kittering

      You have exemplified my experience with this. Lots of opportunity to gain experience, but also job creep and lack of advancement oppportunities. It depends on the individual how they weight the two factors, I think. I loved it when I was younger, but now that I’m in the middle of my career I prefer having my own lane so to speak, so I tend to want to find more structured organizations with more specialization.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        I think that might be what is happening to me. I’m not getting any younger, and although I like a lot of variety, it’s getting to be a bit too much. There are other issues with this job, so I am trying to make an exit plan, but I have some health issues that complicate things. I either need to start my own business again and get it generating a consistent income before I quit, or I need to find another 100% telecommuting job. I was self-employed for about 13 years, but I gave it up to take this job because I thought it would be nice to have a set schedule. I work from home, which is a real benefit, but I basically can’t afford to keep working here for what I am paid. I keep doing more and more work, and the cost of everything keeps going up, but I don’t get so much as an extra nickel. I also have no benefits, and the leave policy isn’t good. We get 10 days of PTO/year, but that includes sick, vacation, and personal. I haven’t had a leisure day off in two years because I’ve had to use my whole bucket for sickness/hospitalization.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Any job with no benefits at all (in the US) doesn’t deserve your loyalty. Leave as soon as you’ve gained enough experience to leverage into a position that protects its employees.

    2. Meredith

      A flat structure can still include defined roles. It just means there aren’t many levels of personnel management. For example, my company (which is small) essentially has one manager for everyone with the exception of the sales team, who report (along with the manager) directly to the owners. Roles within the team are quite defined.

      Do you use any kind of task or project management software? Is there any kind of task prioritization on an organizational level? SCRUM meetings? Any kind of handbook or style guide for tasks that are completed frequently? If duplication is becoming an issue, I would bring these ideas up with the person you report to. It sounds like you do need at least one defined role – some kind of project/production manager to help you with tasks/workloads/templates.

      1. MsChanandlerBong

        We use Slack for daily communication, but we have no employee handbook, no meetings, etc. Duplication and confusion are issues because sometimes people forget to leave internal notes on things. So I will come in at 7 a.m., do something that is scheduled to be done, and then later I find out that the instructions changed or someone already did it, but they forgot to leave a note saying there was no need to work on it/there were updated instructions. There are only six of us, so it’s a really small company. Boss is very focused on saving money, so I don’t see us hiring anybody to help with this. We actually just quit using Slack’s Workast feature (which allowed us to create to-do lists for each other) because Slack wanted to charge us for it; we ended up switching to a free project-management tool, so now we only use Slack for messaging.

        1. ContemporaryIssued

          This would drive me nuts. Doing something twice is not only inefficient, if any of it is communicated to a customer/client, it looks chaotic and unprofessional. We have shared email boxes but in many teams, each box is one person’s domain, unless they are off sick or on vacation, then it becomes another person’s domain. If two people sort through the same box, every single email needs to labeled with a name, and hopefully an additional label on status, like “Alicia” + “waiting for client confirmation” or “Anthony” + “replied to” + “waiting to be invoiced”, so that if Anthony is off sick, Alicia knows where that task is at, can look at the history and if the client asks something, she has a fair idea on what’s going on.

          I have one box on my domain and at one point I agreed to share the box with colleague Stacy but since it was not heavy in traffic, we just ended up accidentally sending the same types of emails, since even with our labeling the box did not update fast enough. Once Stacy had labeled an email and sent it off somewhere, I would be half-way doing the same thing and after I completed, the label showed up and somebody from the sister location emailed us, being like “I got this twice, what’s going on with our email?”. Eventually we decided I would take care of altogether, and leave instructions for her in preparation for time off.

          Sometimes it’s okay to do something twice (we had to recently re-inform a lot of clients on our internal changes because our initial email bulletins about the topic apparently got lost in the shuffle for a lot of clients), but most of the time it’s just ..not great.

    3. Penguin

      Similar to what Meredith said, it sounds to me like your problem is lack of definition and communication, rather than a flat hierarchy (although I imagine the lack of hierarchy makes it worse). Maybe you can address the communication aspect? If people are forgetting to leave a note, maybe your supervisor would back a system that makes “leaving a note” (i.e. documenting work) /part of doing the work/.

      Something thing like Trello or Airtable (both free), or similar Kanban-style systems, could be helpful in their own right as a way to lay out projects and processes, but I’m thinking of them here as a place to document what’s been done on a particular project. If a new project gets added to it, then the list of tasks is /right there/ and it’s easy for someone to quickly add “Announced this event -Fergus” or “Boss asked me to email Vendor Q today instead of waiting until next week -Jane”. I suppose the trick would be getting buy-in, although a mandate from your supervisor might be all that’s needed.

    4. CM

      Is it possible to call a meeting with everyone and discuss whether you can agree to divvy up responsibilities on specific projects in order to avoid things like duplication of effort and confusion about whether something got done? (As others have said, there’s nothing about a flat structure that prevents people from having roles).

      The reason I suggest doing it for specific projects rather than just doing it in general is that that still allows people some flexibility in the kind of work they do across different projects — it just stops them from randomly changing jobs in the middle of the workflow for a single project.

      I think this solution would work in a flat organization, but my suspicion is that your problem is not actually that the organization is flat so much as that the leadership is disorganized. If the actual issue is that your boss wants to keep the window open to do whatever he feels like whenever he feels it — or to grab any random person who walks by and task them with any random thing — that’s not really about having a flat organization. It’s about having no structure or organization except “everyone do what I say” and it’s a different kind of problem.

  45. Sloan Kittering

    My boss wants to start charging people a dollar who make a certain type of error. He says the money will eventually be used to buy breakfast for the team and this way we’ll all learn to stop making this error. It’s a good faith error that’s hard to avoid making (think like, putting 2018 instead of 2019 on a check – something that nobody means to do and is best solved by having someone else look it over). I don’t like that we’d be asking low paid employees to give even a dollar of their money to the boss, but my co manager says it’s really not a big deal. It would not put anyone below minimum wage. Does anybody else think this is a hill to die on, or is it just a shrug and shake my head situation?

    1. Fortitude Jones

      It’s a hill to die on – that’s ridiculous. If they want to catch these little errors, then they need to put a QA step in place like having a peer review the check before it goes out to make sure the date is correct. Charging people money for typos is a quick way to cause resentment among your employees and, frankly, I’d be looking for a new job if I worked there (and I say that as someone who rarely makes mistakes at work).

      1. Sloan Kittering

        I personally feel that way! But it’s such a small amount of money that I feel ridiculous making a huge stand about it. To me it’s the message being sent when an employee has to go get their wallet, fish out cash, and hand it over to their own boss, it just makes me feel VERY poorly used, even if the amount is very small and the mistake is theoretically avoidable. My comanager says since the money will be used for the team it’s no big deal.

        1. Cercis

          I’m going to push back on it being a small amount of money. Depending upon how much they make that could be a double digit percentage of their hourly salary, and even if not, more than say 1% of their hourly salary is a not “small amount”.

          1. Sloan Kittering

            I should have specified, this error is not so common that it would happen more than once a week, maybe 2-3 times a month at worse. If any of my staff were actually losing a meaningful percentage of their paychecks it would be a different situation.

            1. valentine

              Please don’t go along with it. It’s frightening you’ve accepted it as reasonable and are trying to improve it. Even if it costs the company, it’s just part of the cost of doing business.

              Your boss has not thought this through. He will get many results, but if one of them is error reduction, that will come at the cost of productivity:
              ~work-to-rule
              ~whatever malicious compliance looks like here
              ~someone has money to spare or doesn’t care and they pay a $10 retainer
              ~someone else is eating ketchup sandwiches, so, even though they’ve never made the error, they now spend an extra hour constantly rechecking

        2. Cat Fan

          Take a stand on behalf of your employees who probably think any amount of money is too much if it is coming out of their pocket.

      2. The Original K.

        Me too. IMO it’s a hill to die on. This reminds me of that OP who wrote in because her company fined people for being late and she had to pay her boss in cash. The amount here is smaller than the amount the OP had to pay (I forget what it was but I remember the OP ended up having to pay $90; maybe it was a dollar a minute?), but I’d still refuse if I were asked to pay this fine.

        1. Sloan Kittering

          Yeah I thought about that letter too. In that case it was easier to argue because it was so much money that it would have been better for her to take the day unpaid!

    2. seasonal allegories

      I don’t know if I’d die on this hill, but I’d consider it. Especially the check thing… that’s so easy to fix and such a common thing in the first month of the year if not longer, what the frick. Why are they deducting your pay for such things? Because it is a pay deduction.

    3. Bear Shark

      I would die on that hill if I were an employee threatened with being fined for an error like that. It’s either not a big deal, or it’s a big enough deal to implement a checklist for the process to remind the employee or have someone else check the work, or to formally counsel the employee about the mistakes.

      “Doesn’t put anyone below minimum wage” comes across to me like people defending some jerky or unethical behavior with “but it’s not illegal” especially when it’s low paid employees.

    4. Rebecca

      I think this is awful and infantilizing. If there is a problem with someone making the same error over and over, address it with that person and be done with it. People are human, we all make errors from time to time, and to be asked to fork over $1.00 as an incentive not to make mistakes is ridiculous. I would be so very tempted to slow my work down to a snail’s pace, just to ensure that no small errors occurred, and then cost the idiot manager even more money. This also reminds me of the swear jar that lasted about 3 days. One of my coworkers decided the occasional “oh sh**” was too much, so she went to our manager to start a swear jar, same result, buying lunch for the team, and the first time she overheard me, she shoved the jar at me and demanded a quarter. I told her to get lost, and no, I wasn’t contributing, and to get out of my office.

      I’d just not have any money with me (whether I did or not) when the dollar was demanded, and if he actually went to a payroll deduction, I’d be having a conversation with HR. And I’d start job hunting.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        To be fair I don’t think there’s any talk of payroll deduction. Somehow a quarter would feel better to me, maybe I can at least suggest that over a dollar!

        1. Aunt Vixen

          Use pennies. Or require your employees to hang their heads and be bopped with a rolled-up newspaper. The effect will be the same and you won’t be stealing their money.

          (In case it wasn’t clear, I think it’s a terrible idea and QC processes exist for a reason.)

        2. Deranged Cubicle Owl

          Sorry, even if it is only 0,25, it would still be ridiculous . I still wouldn’t like (because, for some people even 0,25$/£/€ is still a lot!) and I’d be looking for another job.

    5. Sara

      I would ask around the office and see how other employees feel. I think there’s another question like this that Allison answered, where she recommended getting a group together to share your concerns with your boss that way no one can be singled out.

      Barring that, it depends on the relationship you have with your boss. Would you feel comfortable going in and talking to them yourself? As long as its not in a confrontational way, any reasonable person would listen.

    6. Paige

      I’d tell them, plainly, “that would really damage morale.”

      And next time it comes up, “free breakfast would not compensate for employees feeling like they’re being chided like children.”

      And next time, “that will quickly make people very resentful.”

      Not a value judgment, no framing it as an opinion, just state it as fact every time it comes up.

    7. CatCat

      So what’s the boss going to do if this is someone’s hill and they won’t hand over the cash? Fire them?

      I’d expect at a minimum, this will breed resentment among some if not all. I’d expect work productivity to sloooowwww down as people devote time to double, triple, and quadruple check their work before submitting it to avoid this stupid penalty.

      The solution here is to implement a secondary review process where a second set of eyes can look over the work. Not nickel and dime the employees like this.

    8. Four lights

      This is terrible. I would pay in pennies every time. Like a sack of them, not a roll.
      And even if it wouldn’t put anyone below minimum wage, the reality is you don’t know your employees’s financial situation. The salary may look good to you, but maybe they have a ton of debt, or have a lot of kids, or sick parents, or medical bills or any number of things that make money tight.

      But also, all this would do is make people more stressed out, which would cause them to make more mistakes.

      If this mistake is such an issue, he should go the other way. People are in teams/groups, and the group that makes the least amount of errors in a certain time gets some kind of incentive-like a special lunch or whatever.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Ooh, I appreciate this carrot versus stick suggestion (and my boss might too actually)!

      2. Anono-me

        A handful of Canadian pennies, and I would make the boss count them and give me a receipt for ‘tax purposes”.

    9. foolofgrace

      I don’t see how the boss can enforce this. It sounds illegal to me, and while I wouldn’t broadcast my feelings about it, I *would* refuse to pay it. What’s the boss going to do, fire you? He can’t fire you for refusing to do this ridiculous fee.

    10. ANon..

      I’m wondering how they would enforce this? Like, your boss can’t physically wrangle you into giving him a dollar… If he tries, you could say something along the lines of, “Sorry, I don’t have any change on me! But I’ll try not to make the mistake again.” (Or saying you don’t have any cash on you.) Assuming you’re exempt, he can’t reduce your paycheck.

    11. irene adler

      Gee, sounds a lot like wage theft if you ask me. They earned the money the boss wants them to give back. Not okay.

      Instead, how about tasking those who commit the error with some small task that’s needed in the dept. Something along the lines of cleaning up the kitchen or breakroom that day, or having to make the coffee tomorrow, or refilling all the printers and copy machines with paper, or inventorying the supply shelves, or ordering supplies for the dept., or cleaning all the white boards in the dept, etc.

    12. Slovenly Braid Cultist

      Have the company buy the team breakfast every time they go a month without someone making that error.

      Positive reinforcement!

    13. BadWolf

      I would lean towards hill to die on.

      This sort of punishment means people are likely to hide mistakes. It’s a small mistake today and a big mistake tomorrow that snowballs instead of being quickly fixed.

      If the above doesn’t sway them, handling random extra cash in the office is likely to be a pit of despair. Who is tracking it? Who is making sure it all goes towards breakfast. What happens if someone “borrows” money like it is petty cash or straight up steals it? Who can attend the breakfast (or whatever)?

      You might (stress might) swap it from giving money to handing around a funny thing. Like a garden gnome migrates to your desk if you mess up the date. This is a tricky thing as well — it only works if it’s done in relative good humor. It can quickly turn into a dunce cap of shame (which was a previous AAM letter).

    14. Applesauced

      I think his logic is backwards – the dollar is supposed to be a punishment for making a mistake, but it used to get breakfast for the office. So the more mistakes you make the more perks you get?

      1. BadWolf

        Ha — that’s a great point.

        We do occasionally tell people they owe us donuts (or other treats) for doing something very silly. But we are paid well so buying a couple boxes of donuts is not a burden and people bring in treats for a variety of events so it’s not only when something goes badly.

        1. only acting normal

          We had an office glutton who tried to enforce ever escalating donut fines for various minor things; people just ignored him. (He wasn’t the boss though – had zero standing to do this.)

      2. cmcinnyc

        Exactly!

        If it’s only a dollar, and the mistake gets made 2-3 times a month, it’s going to be quite some time before that breakfast materializes. Where’s the cash in the meantime? The boss’s wallet? This is a terrible idea.

    15. Not Me

      It’s definitely a hill to die on since it’s illegal. You might want to bring that up to your boss before they implement it and are facing legal action for violating the FLSA.

      1. Sloan Kittering

        Hmm, I didn’t think it was illegal. Alison has said before that companies can take mistakes out of paychecks, no?

        1. Not Me

          Most states have laws stating you can’t charge an employee for making a mistake, or it needs to be agreed upon freely in writing (which is not something an employer will be able to prove). Depending on how many mistakes someone were to make and how many hours they work in a period of time it could bring them below minimum wage, which would be a violation of FLSA.

          It’s a really bad idea and it’s almost certainly opening the company up to legal risk.

    16. Mockingjay

      If an error recurs among different employees, then the problem is the current process, not the people. Your boss is “fixing” the wrong thing.

      Present this suggestion instead: “Boss, let’s set up a QC procedure to prevent this error. How about I get a draft to you by Friday?”

  46. Bear Shark

    What is it with recruiters who seem baffled that someone wouldn’t jump on the chance to leave a direct position for a 6 month contract to hire. Sure I’ll give up my vested 401k, PTO, benefits, flex schedule, for less than twice the pay as contract with better than even odds that the “to hire” part is never planned to happen.

    1. Sloan Kittering

      Yeeeaahhhh, as long as I can I push back hard on this. They do this to entry level people in my field and I think it sucks – employers need to hear the message that good employees don’t want these types of terms. And you know if I took it for 6months and then quit, they’d be totally b*tthurt.