open thread – May 31-June 1, 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 do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,965 comments… read them below }

  1. Cambridge Comma*

    Does anyone know of a way to manage multiple versions of your resume? I’m currently applying and am highlighting different parts of my current job description to match the vacancy notice in each version I write. Does any online tool exist that would show me all my past versions of each point so that I could pick the closest one and start with that?
    Any other great online tools for resumes?

    1. Dragoning*

      I think a lot of people have a “full” master resume they cut down to emphasize certain things for various job applications.

      Honestly, I keep all my files on my computer and sort them by date, so I can see which resumes were created when. And I add job titles/descriptions to the file names because that kind of thing can be helpful when it makes it to a hiring manager (as well as my full legal name), so I have some idea of what the resume was created for if I want to poke at that one specifically.

      1. merp*

        I do both of these too. Just a word doc labeled “full version” or something (it’s way too long) and then save as a new copy with the job title and company.

      2. T3k*

        This. I was a grapic designer and still have the programs (before Adobe switched to the monthly subscription) and I use InDesign, with one master file with all my jobs listed and then individual resumes labeled for their particular field.

      3. anonymoushiker*

        I do this! I learned the hard way to save as a template because I sometimes forget and save over the older version. Whoops.

      4. Jessica Fletcher*

        I do this, too. I also have a Master References doc, so I have everyone who could be a reference, and I can select however many for each application.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      Not sure about online but I keep a “master” resume that’s like 10 pages of all my accomplishments. Then I keep copies of each job app in it’s own folder by year that are whittled down.

    3. league.*

      It would be awesome if there were a tool for that. Not being that savvy, what I do is work from a master resume that includes every possible detail – I would never send out this resume anywhere. But then I “save as” from that one, renaming it for the specific position, and just delete all the irrelevant detail. This sounds rather clunky and I’m hoping someone else has a better solution, but it’s what I do.

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Do you paste stuff back into the master version when you are done? I don’t take the time to do this, but I would need to if it was going to be a true madter version

        1. LSC*

          That wouldn’t be necessary – you open the master version, immediately “save as” a new file, and then the changes will be made to the new one. The master version remains unchanged.

          1. Autumnheart*

            Another option would be to put the master version in a ZIP file, so that whenever you click on it, it extracts a new copy. Then you won’t accidentally edit the master.

          2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            If you are using Word or Open/LibreOffice Writer, save your master as a template (File/Save As…) – this way, when you open it, the software will automatically ask you to save under a new name.

        2. Grace*

          If you had one called “Full version” and then did save-as to create a duplicate version called “Teapots Inc version” which you then edited, you’d still have your master version to go back to for your next application.

    4. Blue Bunny*

      If you’re asking how to do a side-by-side document comparison, Acrobat Pro can do that. Online options include Draftable and Diffchecker.

        1. Boba Feta*

          I’m curious how to do this, practically speaking. I’d love to be able to make a computer program do a document comparison so I can literally see where the language is different across similar documents, so I can effectively update my Master with the latest versions of my achievements, etc. The trouble I have is that my “Master” file is now waaaaay out of date as I have inevitably tweaked or refined my phrasing in the versions that go out to each job, but I then don’t remember to go back and insert the new-better-snappier bullet points back into my Master file. So my Master has old language, and the better versions are scattered across however-many individual-job resumes…

          1. Dragoning*

            In MS Word, it’s under “review” and “Compare” and you just load the two documents you want to compare.

            1. Boba Feta*


              Sorry to yell but damn. This is revolutionary. I shall not dwell on why I never knew of its existence, and shall simply revel in my new-found power. Mwah. HaHa.

              1. CL*

                Redlining (the commonly used name for marking edits) is commonly used in some fields, where you have to show what edits were made. Having the program do it is a freaking lifesaver. If anyone out there still uses WordPerfect it also compares and marks up documents.

    5. Zephy*

      I have a “master” resume in my Google drive, with a name like “Zephy R. Song Resume 2019.” I save a copy, rename it to “Zephy R. Song Resume – Teapot Coordinator Teapots R Us 2019,” then start fiddling with it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Same here. I have a résumé source in Google Drive and make a copy and modify for each position.

    6. Overeducated*

      I used to keep several different versions of my resume for jobs in different sectors – e.g. a small nonprofit resume, a university resume, and a government agency resume – since the jobs in those sectors tended to have enough similarity to each other that I’d want to highlight similar experiences.

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      This is low-tech, but I save each job application (cover letter, resume, etc.,) in its own subfolder, and print out the resume and put it in a binder. It’s a lot easier to flip through papers to see what’s different, than to be clicking between 10 different Word documents.

      1. Boba Feta*

        Same. I am full old-school analog, so I print out the job ad and mark up that with notes to help draft the letter and resume. Then when I’ve finalized the versions that get submitted, I print out the final version of the letter and resume and keep everything sorted using plastic document sleeves in a three-ring binder. This has been SUPER helpful when applying to similar jobs for which I can recycle some of my best examples: I just flip flip flip through my binder and use the printed materials as a springboard to type up the latest letter/ resume version.

    8. Mockingjay*

      I always put the company and date in the filename:

      Mockingjay Resume FastFood Apr 2018
      Mockingjay Resume GreatJob May 2019
      Mockingjay CoverLtr GreatJob May 2019

      I also use folders for storage: one for each job – GreatJob May 2019 – that contains the resume I submitted, the cover letter, and a copy (PDF, screenshot) of the job posting. (This last item is critical – if a company takes down the posting, you will still know what you applied for. Also you can check to see if you’ve previously applied – “didn’t I apply to that a year ago?”)

      I will add the job title to filenames if it differs from my usual title.

    9. Cambridge Comma*

      I have tried the master version as well as just looking at all the versions but I was dreaming of a tool that had multiple versions of each bullet in the job description. For example, I’m an editor. But some vacancy notices are looking for speed, some mention many projects concurrently, some mention quality. So I write a slightly different version each time that is obviously true but with a slightly different angle. Is this normal?
      It’s almost quicker to start afresh each time but I don’t like the increased error potential for doing that (currently on maternity leave with two babies so the sleep deprivation is reducing my ability to not make stupid mistakes).

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        So my dream tool would have headings for each job I’d saved there, then a menu with headings e.g. project management. I’d click on project management and it would bring up all the bullets I’d ever written for that job containing those words. I’d pick one, then move to the next heading. The next step would be my CV, for tinkering with and of course every chance would automatically add a new version to my bullet collection. It’s been seven years since I applied to anything and I was hoping that there might be some great apps in the meantime!

    10. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I just create a new resume copy for every job I apply to and name it with either the position or company name (e.g. Anonymousaurus Rex Resume-ABC Company- May 2019.docx) . Then I can cut and paste different bullets as needed from previous versions to tailor for new applications. I just try to remember things like, x position was more research focused, y position enphasized data analysis, and then I can pull the relevant bullets.

    11. Anax*

      If you’re fairly comfortable with computers, Git will absolutely do that.

      It’s free; you can use it online with Github (also free) or locally on your computer; it will store every version, and you can use the “blame” command to track every change to every individual line of your resume. You can also use branches to have different versions of your resume for different types of job, if that’s useful to you, and every version can have a message describing what job opening this was for, without needing to name every resume version with a different filename.

      It looks a little bit intimidating, but it’s really not bad to learn. I recommend the (also free) Sourcetree application if you’re not a super computer-y person, which puts everything in an easier visual interface.

      You’ll need to copy/paste the actual text in and out – just saving a Word document is likely to be annoying when you compare text, since Word is doing all kinds of formatting stuff behind the scenes. But it sounds like you’re doing that already.

      1. Malthusian Optimist*

        re: MS Word behind-the-scenes formatting yeah (no I did not put a tab there and I’d prefer to keep a consistent pt. size thx).
        I often just paste it in as plain text and then re-format from scratch, that also makes me really look and consider what it is I’m doing and what I want emphasized.

    12. Jamie March*

      I had a generic resume and cover letter that I’d use to apply to jobs I wasn’t *super* excited about, but might work out. (I was unemployed and trying to apply to at least one job a day, and there were plenty of days and jobs that did not inspire the energy required for a custom resume/cover letter.) If a job looked particularly awesome, I’d make a custom resume and/or cover letter. I had a google doc where I info-dumped accomplishments, scenarios, experiences, etc. from current jobs as I thought about them. I used that doc for customizing resumes and cover letters and to prepare for interviews. I kept all the data in chronological order–kind of a career highlights reel. I’d review it while waiting for interviews to begin, just to keep everything fresh in my mind. It was useful for customizing resumes and cover letters, but extremely useful for interview prep.

      As far as tools, I just used Google Drive. Docs for most things and then a spreadsheet to keep track of when I applied to jobs, what resume/cover letter version I used, and dates of contact. Not very high tech, but it worked for me.

      For what it’s worth, the generic cover letter/resume ended resulted in the job I ended up taking. It’s hard to tell from a job description if something is really a good fit. I job I thought I’d really love (and for which I spent a lot of time on a customized cover letter) ended up being really not what I was looking for, and I didn’t know that until I went in for an interview. I had a pretty good overall call back rate, but I credit Alison and this site for that since the generic version of my resume and cover letter were still pretty solid.

    13. careergal*

      When I apply for a job, I create a folder for it and keep everything (resume, cover letter, reference, job posting) in there. I end up with folders for every position and a separate folder for my master resume and other general materials.

      Pro-tip-if you send an employer your resume as an attachment or upload it, please save it with some form of your name as the file name. Many employers tell me that it is frustrating to have 18 resumes all named after the job title and/or organization. It saves them time if they don’t have to rename it and it makes you look good.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yes! Please do this!

        Also put your name and position fir which you’re applying in subject line of an email.

    14. Close Bracket*

      I made a folder for each application with the date I applied, the company, and the job title in the name. I saved a version of the resume I used in that folder with the same name and “resume” tacked on the end. I also saved the cover letter and and job description. I maintained a master list in Excel. It’s not elegant, but it worked well for me!

    15. Volunteer Enforcer*

      I use a system on One drive. I have folders for applications submitted and that I got interviews for. The application materials then get called the job title and organisation name.

    16. h.cowl*

      The learning curve is high but git is great for this. If you have a software engineer buddy maybe ask them for a tutorial.

    17. Work to live*

      I create a new folder in my “Jobs” folder for every application I send out. That way if I look at a job posting for XYZ company and think it’s like a similar job I’ve applied to at ABC company I can just go to the resume and cover letter I used for ABC company and use that as a starting point. The last time I was applying to jobs I ended up sending out nearly 120 and found this method very useful.

    18. MoopySwarpet*

      I could see myself creating a spreadsheet that simulates the “choose your own adventure” style it sounds like you’re wanting.

      Something like:

      Company | Job Title | Task | Task variations | notes | use
      Teapots, Inc | ___ | ___ | ___ |___ | x
      ___ | Design Associate | ___ | ___ |___ | x
      ___ | Junior Designer | ___ | ___ |___ | ___
      ___ | Entry Level Designer | ___ | ___ |___ | ___
      [I think I would add these as I used them for resumes. Of course, being sure the title is a close enough match it will be recognizable to whoever is asked if that’s what you did at Teaposts, Inc.]
      ___ | ___ | Design teapots | ___ | the most basic description | ___
      ___ | ___ | ___ | design whimsy teapots | good for art jobs | ___
      ___ | ___ | ___ | design detailed teapots | good for desk jobs | x

      So on and so forth. The idea being that your bullet point variations are lumped together and easy to either choose from one you’ve used before or insert a line and add a new one with a note for the type/specific job it was used for. The “use” column would be where you mark which items you want to use for this resume. Then filter to show only the items with an x in the use column, copy/paste to plaint text program (to remove the spreadsheet formatting), copy/paste to Word and format.

    19. MintLavendar*

      I LOVE this resume maker. It’s free and flexible and is something that should have existed a long time ago. The only flaw is that it defaults to having the Headshot section on (I think because it was made by someone in Spain, and i know it’s still expected to have a portrait on your resume in a lot of non-US contexts?)

    20. Kimmybear*

      SharePoint will give you version history. I think it’s 500 versions and you can restore/compare from those past versions. May seem like overkill but if you consider the document sharing ability with family members, it may not be that bad an idea.

  2. My strongest experience is outdated*

    How should you frame it when your most relevant experience is 5+ years old?? I’m applying for a job for which my best resume-boosters are all 5-10 years old. (For example, I’m applying to be a Rice Sculptor, but my last rice sculpting role was 7 years ago.) Should I just assume that the hiring manager won’t get too hung up on dates? Should I talk up the experience heavily in my cover letter even though it’s kind of outdated?

    1. vw*

      Can you have a section for “Rice Sculpting Experience” and another section for “Other experience.”? Then put the “Rice Sculpting Experience” at the top and the other at the bottom.

      1. My strongest experience is outdated*

        I’ve always been hesitant about functional resumes, but this might be worth experimenting with…

        1. vw*

          Oh I wasn’t suggesting a functional resume! Something like this:

          Rice Sculpting Experience
          Minute Rice (2010-2015)
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          Uncle Ben’s Rice (2005-2010)
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment

          Other Experience
          Llama Groomer (2015-Present)
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          Kitten Consultant (Contract 2012)
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment
          – accomplishment

          1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

            This is what I suggest to folks too. Just get all the good stuff up front.

            As a person who is a little bit blind to numbers, I wouldn’t even care that things were a bit out of order, as long as they were grouped.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              I have actually been a kitten consultant! It was a volunteer position at an animal shelter, although they do usually have a limited number of paid roles which include the same type of work. The job was to get to know all the cats in our shelter, so that when somebody came in to ask about adopting a cat we could sit down with them and find out what they wanted in an animal: were they looking for a cat who was especially cuddly, or especially playful, or who would do their own thing and let you do yours, just being company around the place? Did they have kids or other animals whom it would need to get along with? How much of the day would it be expected to be alone? That sort of stuff. Then we’d introduce them to the specific cats who best fit the description of what they were looking for, and try to make a match that would result in a happy adoption.

      2. CL*

        This is what I did when I returned to working after being a stay at home mom/running a side gig. I changed up the order of the experience, based on what I wanted to highlight for the position. I got a part-time job out of it and then two years later went full-time.

        I would highlight specific skills on my cover letter, like “I have more than 20 years of experience in teapot design,” without stating that that experience was more than 5 years before. The timing and how I managed to stay on top of current skills was something I would address in interviews.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Keep your résumé reverse chronological, but then frame it in the cover letter. You can highlight the 5-10–year old experience. You can also maybe tie in how the most recent 5 years might also be relevant (but maybe less directly obviously relevant), and why you’re looking to get back into rice sculpting now.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        If you keep it chronological, you can also beef up the bullet points underneath the most relevant experience, and cut down on the less-relevant newer experience. So it draws the focus where you want without changing the timeline of the resume.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s pretty typical to leave a certain position, do something different but with similar skill set required and then go back to the previous position. Can you explain the gap? That’s all they’re going to want to know is why you stopped rice sculpting and how your newer positions tie the same skills.

      I took a break from my original higher role and took an EA role to detox from a decade of craziness. Nobody flinched or asked about why I downgraded or did what I did, they were just like “You have great experience, it’s not something you ‘forget’ or anything like that. Unless you went from rice sculpting to goat yoga instruction or something, then that may be a “How do these two things tie together exactly and how do we know your skills are extra rusty?” It also depends on the level they’re looking for, if they don’t need an expert, then it’s not as big of deal if you are a little rusty and can knock that off over time.

      I wouldn’t assume anything but just be prepared for questions!

    4. Boba Feta*

      For some of the jobs to which I’m applying I’m in a very similar boat (Well, my directly relevant experience – doing that exact kind of work – for some of them is actually more like 15 years old. AH, career changes…)

      I’ve been including explicit statements in my letters about my current pursuit of a career change and excitement to return to X work. I feel like that provides a good segue into explaining my prior experience and how it’s prepared me for this role, or whatever.

      I also do what was suggested about organizing the resume using “Relevant Work Experience” and “Other Work Experience” sections that allow the older, relevant stuff to appear up top but doesn’t omit all the other things I’ve been doing since. True, it is not strictly reverse chronologically and does present a bit of a time-hopper situation, but if managers are looking for experience first, and timeliness second, I rationalize that it’s getting the job done.

  3. CameronT*

    How should you address a cover letter when you know the hiring manager personally? It feels too informal to write “Dear Sally:” when I know that an HR person might screen it first. But it feels too formal to write “Dear Ms. Smithbottom:” when my acquaintance will eventually be the one to read it.

    1. CatCat*

      I’d address it however it feels most appropriate for the actual recipient. That someone in between might see it as well doesn’t seem like a big deal. I doubt anyone is going to get hung up on a polite salutation here regardless of whether it is Dear Sally or Dear Ms. Smithbottom.

        1. Jamie March*

          Lol. That made me think of Jane Eyre and now I kind of want to see a cover letter that starts “Dear Reader.”

    2. I edit everything*

      Can you submit it directly to the hiring manager/your acquaintance? Then the less formal address will be more natural. Conversely, you could drop a reference to how you know each other in your opening paragraph, to clue HR in. Something like, “Dear Sally: It was great to see you at [business function] last week. As we discussed, I’m submitting my application for…”

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t overthink it. If you really do know Sally, maybe you can even give her a heads-up that you’re applying and get her take on how you should address the cover letter?

      I’ve never worked in HR, but I would assume that they don’t get too hung up on the greeting part, unless it’s something highly offensive.

      1. Joielle*

        The one time I’ve tossed an application based on the cover letter greeting was when someone used “Dear Mr. Hiring Manager.” The actual hiring manager was a woman (which could be easily determined on our website), all three of the staffers reviewing resumes were women, and even the admin receiving the application emails was a woman (clear from the name in the posting), so absolutely no reason to assume the hiring manager would be a man. And a completely unnecessary salutation to boot. No thank you.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Are you replying to my comment? Nowhere in there did I indicate you should assume the gender of the hiring manager.

          1. Elizabeth Proctor*

            Uh, Joielle isn’t suggesting you did. They are just giving an example of a time when the greeting was offensive enough to toss out an application.

          2. Here Today...*

            I think Joielle was responding to the second part of your response, “I’ve never worked in HR, but I would assume that they don’t get too hung up on the greeting part, unless it’s something highly offensive,” by providing an example confirming that statement.

      2. MoopySwarpet*

        The only time I care much about the greeting is when it’s “Dear Some Other Company” . . . O_o Then I’m on high alert for other signs of poor attention to detail. Those kinds of errors usually have random cover letters, resumes with objectives for different jobs than we’re filling, non-relevant experience, and multiple typos.

    4. Officious Intermeddler*

      You could try “Dear Ms. Smithbottom” typewritten, and then strike that with a pen and add a handwritten “Dear Sally.” This is a little bit of an analog solution, but we do this in legal practice all of the time when we’re writing to people who should have a professional salutation in a letter, but who we know well.

      1. Legal Beagle*

        Presumably the cover letter is being emailed, though, so you’d have to print it out, write on it, and then scan it. Also, I’m a lawyer and I’ve never seen this before. I would find it very odd; it looks like you made a mistake but couldn’t be bothered to actually fix it in the document.

        1. CanCan*

          I’ve seen my former boss (lawyer) do that on bills to clients. Note that he’s about 70 years old now. The idea is that the assistant prints out the letter, and *of course* the assistant wouldn’t presume to call this person Sally, – but then the lawyer *actually* bothers to read the letter (rather than just scanning through the $ amounts), and *even* wastes his precious time on writing a personal salutation.

          I thought my boss was a genius when I saw him do that. Had no idea it was at least somewhat common.

          Don’t do that on a cover letter, though!!

    5. Joielle*

      I recently did this, and I just went with “dear hiring manager.” Maybe awkward, idk, but it turned out fine.

    6. LCH*

      i think HR only screens resumes, not cover letters so i’d just address it to the person you know as familiarly as you feel comfortable.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      I write “Dear Sally” all the time in cover letters. I’m in a field where we tend to know each other and it would come across as unspeakably stilted to write “Dear Ms Smithbottom” when it is someone I know well. No one bats an eyelash.

    8. Lily Rowan*

      For me, Dear Sally is fine from someone I know. However, when I’ve gotten the equivalent of Dear Ms. Smithbottom, I just kind of chuckle. It doesn’t make me mad or anything!

    9. vw*

      I would write something like “Dear Sally and Hiring Team” in the salutation. I like the phrase “hiring team” because it’s friendly and acknowledges the team based aspect of this.

    10. sometimeswhy*

      I got a “Dear Hiring Team,” this month. It struck me as an elegant way around attempting to name or gender the recipients as well as an acknowledgement that it might be more than just the hiring manager or HR gatekeeper who was involved in the process.

    11. Madge*

      I’d err towards being professional and addressing the letter as though you don’t know the hiring manager.

      1. rmw1982*

        Same here. For instance, I had worked with hiring managers as peers before, but still addressed it as “Dear Mr. Warbleworth” or “Dear Ms. Ferguson.” I don’t think they cared one way or another, but HR and recruiting did. If you’re not sure, addressing a cover letter as more formal instead of casual is probably the better way to go.

  4. Phoenix Programmer*

    Resume questions!

    I am poking the market for the first time in a long while. So many questions.

    1. Is it worth doing a summary and if yes what is the most helpful here?

    2. How to represent major projects on a resume. My latest role was project driven.

    3. I am considering management roles, is it worthwhile including my fast food crew trainer stuff from college?

    4. Awards and honorary items. I served on a board of directors and am a fulbright scholar but both are now 9 years old. Worth including or drop?

    Thanks so much for the tips!!!! I’ve read Alison’s advice and have an accomplishment driven resume but am fumbling these newer items a bit.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      1. I’ve never discarded or been particularly impressed by the presence of a summary.

      2. As bullet points with what the projects were and what you accomplished.

      3. How long ago was that?

      4. If you have room at the bottom, and if they’re relevant to the position you’re applying to.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Can you expand on #2 some. Are you saying they should have their own sub bullets points like:
        Current Job
        Implemented a new system A
        Accomp 1
        Accomp 2
        Implemented new system B

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I don’t think there need to be sub–bullet points. I would just have a longer sentence saying the project and what you accomplished in it. I guess you could do sub–bullet points if you wanted to.

    2. MissGirl*

      I use a summary and think of it as a short (four or five sentences) cover letter. I highlight what in my resume qualifies me most for the position. This works for me because most of the jobs I apply for don’t request or even allow you to upload cover letter.

    3. Susan K*

      Was the fast food crew trainer stuff a management position? If so, then I would recommend including it when you apply for management roles. Where I work, when they hire for management roles, they give points for ANY management experience, including fast food and retail (neither of which has any relevance to our industry). I wouldn’t use a lot of space on that, but at least list the job so it is clear you have management experience.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Regarding 3, I would be leery of adding this as management experience, it’s a little out of touch and not in line with managing a team of programmers or office folks in general. I flinch at saying that but it’s one of the things as a hiring manager myself and others I’ve worked with think of as “too much of a stretch” when you’re looking into being a manager. Fast food training isn’t on par with leading a crew on major projects, the industries and standards are so much different. Instead focus on why you’re management material and ready to make the step up, which is what your projects are going to show them!

      Awards and honorary items are great if you need to fill a page but if you have enough job experience to boast of, leave them off if they don’t fit, since they are rather old at this stage.

    5. Workerbee*

      I do a one-line “Profile” at the top to help anchor what I do in the eyes of the hiring manager. I’ve been getting interviews, so it’s at least not detracting (I assume). I tailor it based on the needs of the job I’m going for.

    6. CAA*

      1. A good summary is relevant to the job you’re applying for. You can describe some personal traits or relate your experience to the new job. You don’t want to write “CPA with 25 years experience creating accurate tax returns” if you’re applying to manage software developers (this is a real-life example). It’s also short — 3 or 4 sentences at most.

      2. It depends if you have the same accomplishments on all the projects or if you want to show that you accomplished different things for each one. If they’re all really different, you can use indentation to list the projects under the employer as sub-headings and then bullet the accomplishments under each project. If the accomplishments are common to multiple projects, then list the accomplishments as bullet points under the employer, and create one additional bullet for “Projects” with a one-liner for each one under that.

      3. It depends how close you are to the job. If it fits there naturally, then yes, include it. If you have to add an “Other Experience” section to get it on there, then it should only go if it’s closely related to management, i.e. if you participated in hiring or termination decisions; or if the job you’re applying for is somewhere like the corporate HQ for a fast-food brand.

      4. Include the Fulbright on one line in your education section. That’s impressive, and it doesn’t lengthen the resume too much. I’d include the board experience under “Other Experience”.

      1. Former Employee*

        I looked up the Fulbright and found a list of some very distinguished people.

        I imagine that something like the Fulbright is pretty much a forever item on a resume.

    7. Errol*

      1. I do use a summary, but I also kind of don’t use a summary. I call it ‘additional skills’ and list relevant things that aren’t good enough to be a career highlight like software experience (specific ERP / SAP programs or Microsoft excel etc) , things like I was in accounting for a few years before changing my career path so I’ve got skills X, Y, Z , basically anything that’s a bonus but not really all that relevant to the job.

    8. Keener*

      I wouldn’t do a summary section. I am also in a role that is very project based. On the first page of my resume I have a typical work experience section which includes my past jobs and accomplishments (managed a team, proposal writing, overall financial results, etc.). Then on my second page I have a Project Highlights section where I include various projects with bullets of accomplishments below them.

      I’ve now got a long list of projects so it is really easy to pick and choose the ones that are most relevant to the job posting and create a customized resume.

  5. Need a policy/lobbying refresh*

    People who work in federal policy/advocacy in DC – help me get back up to speed! I used to work in policy, but I’ve been in a different role for 7 years and I’ve lost touch. I am interviewing for a Policy Specialist position at a small non-profit, and need to remind myself of lobbying best practices. Can you give me some tips on some resources/websites/apps I should review? Is CongressPlus still popular? What websites give the best updates on pending legislation?

    1. Hello!*

      Hi! Not in DC but I am a lobbyist in a Midwest state. Good luck! It is a weird field, but a worthwhile one. At least for my state, I was able to look back at all of my organizations positions for several years prior to my interview and it was really helpful. Not sure what industry your non-profit is (mine is long-term care), but I found it really helpful to look at other similar organizations etc.

    2. EBW*

      Hey there! Quorum is all the rage now – everything from staff contacts to bill tracking and literally every document that comes from a member of Congress’ website lives there. But it’s expensive & may be out of reach for the small nonprofit! GovTrack and CQ are other similar resources.

      For lobbying guidelines – Bolder Advocacy has great resources:

      I’ve been in the sector for my whole career & recently just hired so a few tips:
      – Demonstrate command of *and* interest in the policy subject matter. The latter is more important, as an eager employee can learn anything.
      – Don’t be afraid to offer helpful advice to the nonprofit during your interview or follow up. For example, “I browsed your website policy section and I noticed you’re missing XX. I would be excited about the opportunity to XX.”
      – Be up to speed on insider knowledge re: members of Congress. You should be able to explain why, for instance, a member who is in cycle may be moving to the end or center of a political spectrum or pushing for something that would usually be outside their lane.

      Best of luck!

    3. Jessica Fletcher*

      I think you can just Google “federal lobbying best practices” or similar. If it’s a nonprofit, Boulder Advocacy has good info on rules specific to nonprofits, and things that are new since you were last in the field. (If you @ a legislator, or retweet an @ to a legislator, you’re directly lobbying them! Like posting @RepSmith on social media.) Could be helpful even if not a nonprofit.

      It’s not something you can cram, but spend some time every day becoming familiar.

      I no longer work in advocacy, but I’m still in a similar-ish field, I guess. I didn’t work on the fed level, but you can look up bills on the House or Senate websites. I also used to/still get a ton of newsletters from orgs that work in topic areas relevant to my work. Following on social media is good, too.

      Idk if you can register for text updates on bills at the federal level. You can at my state level.

    4. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

      I haven’t done advocacy for years, but for a former job I had to track legislation. I really liked Legi-scan, and I know my colleagues in DC used it, too. It’s consistently up to date (like updated same day) and even includes committee hearing times if the bill has a hearing.

    5. Legal Beagle*

      When I worked at a large non-profit, we used CQ Roll Call. When I worked at a small non-profit, we couldn’t afford anything, so I used for bill tracking.

      If it’s a position where you’ll be doing direct lobbying, I would also talk about soft skills! Knowledge of the issues is important, but you can learn that. What’s more elusive – and crucial – is being able to build relationships, establish credibility, engage stakeholders, talk across the aisle, and just have good political instincts.

    6. Cap Hiller*

      I work on the Hill now – key relationships OR key policy acumen (or both) are your best bet – and neither you can master through a website. But, most orgs that do advocacy here have an “advocacy” part of their website – so I would look at those main issues and then if you get coffee with people in town, ask them if they know the latest on those specific issues

    7. Cap Hiller*

      And on a practical reply, honestly I think Politico is a good go-to general “what’s happening” and of course has more info on the policy issues they cover

  6. Blue Bunny*

    This week in Workplace Wellness Initiatives That Miss the Mark:

    Are you a fan of the Blood Mobile? Do you like nothing more than having your life’s fluids literally sucked out of you at your place of employment? Then you’re going to LOVE…

    the Mammogram Mobile! That’s right, folks! Get half naked and make boob pancakes from the lack of comfort and lack of privacy of your own company parking lot!

    J EFFING C, Company.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      This… sounds good to me. We all get mammograms, they should be fully covered under most insurance, and this makes it super convenient. I use the mammogram-mobile st my own doctor’s office (my clinic doesn’t have its own imaging, but they bring in the mobile unit a few times a year and it’s easier for me to go there than to trek to a different facility).

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        I should have said: “We all SHOULD get mammograms.” Obviously, not everyone does. But this feels like a step in the direction of helping everyone with breasts get the care they need.

        1. Clisby*

          And it’s not like getting a mammogram in a clinic/hospital is some luxurious spa-day experience. It’s going to be uncomfortable too.

          1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

            My mammogram clinic is set up exactly like a luxurious spa-day experience. It’s a standalone place with soft lighting and comfy couches and big tropical fish and optional chair massage and a little stand for jewelry you can buy.

            I hate it when they’re quick.

            1. Yvette*

              Mine is almost that posh. No jewelry stand or chair massage (or maybe now, I am over-due). Anyway you can tell that it is a place for women run by women. They have spray deodorant and lotion in baskets for you to use after (for men who may not know most mammo places tell you not to use either beforehand).

              1. Yvette*

                As long as the company isn’t insisting that you use it or listing the names of people who do / don’t or putting your images up on display or any of the other weirdly inappropriate things some companies do.

              2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

                My mammogram place is also done to be comfortable (plush bathrobes, snacks, drinks, extra toiletries). But the hospital that runs it put it in the Cancer Center, and it has a pink-ribbon theme with script wall art like “strong” “brave” “survivor” all over the place.

                This is not comforting.

        2. atalanta0jess*

          Not ALL! People with boobs who are over 45. :) (Or have other risk factors, or blah blah blah, decide with your doctor).

        3. Mari M*

          I have small breasts that actually may be better served by ultrasound — getting them to pancake will be ridonkulous. So, much as I would like to get a mammogram, God didn’t endow me with enough to squish! But we all should attend to our breast health, regardless of age and gender; know what lumps and bumps belong where!

    2. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Actually, I really happen to like the Mammogram Mobile! Its affiliated with the top cancer center in my area, and I don’t have to make up any time by going somewhere for the appointment, very convenient! Windows are blacked out and only takes a few minutes.

    3. Panda*

      My company has both of those, plus a dentist that comes in a bus. It’s actually pretty cool (I don’t do the blood mobile or the mammogram on site).

      1. Annie Dumpling*

        I think this is one of those things that falls into “everyone is different, not everything suits everybody”
        Some will love the quick availability. But for others, mammograms are not quick and can be very painful.
        It is good to offer multiple options, as not everything will suit every body. This is not so much a “Workplace Wellness Initiatives That Miss the Mark” as much as it should be (and I hope it is) a “One of Several Options for this Workplace Wellness Initiative”

    4. Dragoning*

      I don’t mind this at all. It’s not as if it’s in front of your boss or anything, right?

      And I like the blood drives, too.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Currently there are blood shortages in several major cities, and one reason is because work-sponsored drives have gone down. Those drives are super important!

    5. Zephy*

      Wooooow. I just…wow. The right way to support women’s health is to offer health insurance that covers things like that, not…whatever this is.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        I agree with this. I think a lot of people like the “mobile” approach because it can be extremely difficult to access this kind of health care in the US. I haven’t seen this done in any other major industrialized country.

        1. Jane*

          In the UK the routine NHS breast screening for 50-70 year olds is often offered in a mobile unit, so that it can take place conviniently close to patients’ homes, without needing to travel to a regional hospital. You get an appointment letter telling you when and where, and then show up at the local supermarket car park or similar!

          1. Grace*

            It’s especially important in villages and small towns – there are some villages in my area that have one bus per day to my town (30,000 people and has an urgent care centre but no hospital) and you would then have to take *another* bus to get to the city ten miles down the road to reach the hospital. And these places are all incredibly close together!

            I understand the US is much more spread out and has even less public transport – I can see why mobile blood drives are a thing there, although they aren’t here, and this seems much in the same vein. (I mean, personally, I wouldn’t class NHSBT setting up in the local village hall as a mobile blood drive. We don’t have vans as the US does, we just have regular donation sessions set up in community spaces.)

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Outside the big cities, America is completely car-dependent. In some places there might be a bus occasionally.
              The town I grew up in – population ~200,000 – had buses that ran east-west from 9-5 on weekdays. There were no buses going north-south. And no trains, trolleys, or other transit.

          2. OlympiasEpiriot*

            That’s not through work. I didn’t word the sentence properly; I meant the “mobile unit comes to the office and the HR division can point to how great the company is to the workers”.

        2. Japananon*

          This kind of “doctor on a bus that comes to your workplace” happens all the time in Japan, especially in rural areas, for what it’s worth.

      2. CTT*

        But it is covered by insurance? At least in my office it is. The idea behind it is that this makes getting an appointment easier and harder to make an excuse not to.

        If your argument is “you should give people more flexible time off so they can make medical appointments,” then that is something.

        1. higheredrefugee*

          I do work in an industry that is super flexible about time off for things like this but I’d take advantage of this because (a) I need that flexibility to help my aging parents, (b) I could schedule it and not need to drive 60 minutes round trip, and (c) would love to be able to offer that for my very remote colleagues who are jealous that the drive is only 60 minutes round trip to the nearest facility, much less the nearest covered facility. Even if you have the flexibility, if you’re taking care of others, have a chronic condition, or just don’t love the idea of driving all over creation, this is another alternative that could work for you.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Insurance in the US has to cover preventative care, annuals and mammograms are included in that. So I’m not sure what you’re talking about?

        Insurances encourage you to do that now because they have seen that screening saves more money for them than late detection. So it’s probably the insurance company saying “Do this and we’ll drop your rates!”

      4. stefanielaine*

        Yeah this isn’t instead of insurance. It’s a way for busy people to not have to take an entire day off work to get necessary preventive care. It’s a convenience, not a requirement, so if you don’t want to use it, ignore it. Pretty easy.

      5. Yvette*

        Zephy, I think this is to make it more convenient. Many people would need to take a large chunk of time off work for this, what with travel time to and back plus appointment time.

      6. Bunny Girl*

        Mammograms are generally covered under health insurance as a preventive service so there is no copay/cost sharing for those services. So, if the company offers health insurance, it is usually covered. The mobile mammogram van is actually highly valued by many employees. I have never seen it mandated or a list of names given to management. Everyone of a certain age “should” have a mammogram, but compliance with this nationally are less than 45% for those covered by insurance. As long as the employer is not mandating the test or gathering data on who did/did not and results, this is a great way to increase the utilization of the benefit.

      7. Anonforthis*

        I’ve had jobs where the services are covered by insurance and the mobile providers are in-network providers, so it makes it super convenient. Bonus points for not having to take PTO to go to an appointment (my employer didn’t make us clock out or anything for it – we could just go out, do our thing, and come back).

        1. Paquita*

          Same here. We get an email telling us not to park in X location for the vehicle. Sign up through HR and fill out the form. Go at the appointed time, get the mammogram, go back to work. <20 minutes. We kinda know who in our work group is going because we let each other know if we will be away from our desk that long. Blood drives too.

    6. dramallama*

      I’d file that under 1st world problems– ’cause I would love that. I haven’t had a mammogram in a dangerously long time, because I either didn’t have the insurance or (now) the job sucks away all the time and energy I have for just finding a doctor.

      1. OhNo*

        See, that’s what irritates me most about it. Like, they could give you adequate health coverage and sufficient time off to ensure you can make all your preventative care appointments, but nope! Better to have a mobile van that stops by every couple of months so you don’t have to take time away from Precious, Precious Work to take care of your own dang health.

        I dunno, it just feels like a very insincere way of signalling that you care about your employees without having to, you know, actually care about your employees.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          I mean, I have health insurance that covers mammograms with no co-pay and a flexible, 40-hour-a-week schedule… and it’s still easier for me to go to a mobile unit outside my office than it is to leave work in the middle of the day, drive over to my clinic, and have my images taken there.

          1. angrywithnumbers*

            Even if I had a ton of extra vacation time I would rather do it this way real quick during the work day than burn a vacation day on it.

          2. A Person*

            Agree, if this is completely optional and there’s no pressure to do it, AND employees are provided with insurance coverage and time off to go to their provider of choice for this service if they’d rather do that, I see this as a good thing.

            It’s only a bad thing if they do it the way some (not all) employers do the blood drive busses, where there are participation contest and prizes that lead to peer pressure to participate.

            No one should to have to explain why they are not allowed to give blood/ can’t get on the boob bus to random coworkers.

            1. Paquita*

              I have one coworker who can’t use the boob bus as she has some known (non cancerous) issues. Something that shows up as ‘spots that need to be checked out NOW!’ but are really something else harmless. She has to go to the place that is already familiar with her ‘girls’.

          3. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

            Yep. For me it has nothing to do with cost or schedule and everything to do with being able to do something easily. Sure, I could flex my schedule or take sick leave to get a mammogram, no problem, but having the mammogram come to me is awesome and lets me save my flexing and sick leave for when I really need it.

            1. R.D*

              Exactly! I don’t need to think or plan or pick up the phone and make a phone call. I don’t need to figure out where in the hospital the imaging department is. I don’t need to do anything but walk down stairs at the scheduled time.

              It’s not like you are wondering the parking lot naked. You are in the equivalent of a small room with a closed door with only medical staff. It’s not more uncomfortable than going to the clinic or hospital, at least for me.

        2. ThatGirl*

          As others have said, currently the law in the US is that your insurance has to cover preventive care including mammograms – this is just a convenient way for people to get one. Similar to flu shots at work. Now, if the company provided this instead of health insurance, that would be a different problem.

          1. OhNo*

            Yeah, but do they provide insurance that covers the right providers, not just the right services?

            Here’s a personal example I’ve run into: I’m a trans dude. Does the insurance my company provides allow me to go to one of the few trans-sensitive providers in my city? Or does it limit me to a certain network of providers? If I’m limited to a small network of providers, are they trained on gender affirming care for trans people? Are the people in the mammogram-mobile trained on gender affirming care? How do I even find out, aside from just showing up and seeing how they treat me?

            Convenience is great, but I wish more companies had good back-up options for people like me. I’d much rather have good coverage that allows me to choose my provider, and adequate time off to go see them. But many companies (mine included, unfortunately) find one convenient option that works for ~80% of people and say, “Eh, good enough!”

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              This is impossible for a company to know, this is an insurance issue not your company’s. So you’re really off base here.

              I cannot research the provider networks that intensely when we’re shopping for insurance, unless someone specifically tells me “I use this doctor, is it in network”? Then you run into an issue like I did. I made sure a person’s long time family doctor was in network and we signed the contract for the year…then there was a switch up and guess what, nope that doctor’s office is now out of office due to some internal shakeups. How in the heck would that ever be laid at the feet of your employer? I did everything I could…this is the problem with insurance not your employer.

              1. OhNo*

                I think you’re missing the point. Employers can make decisions about what kind of plans they offer, or offer multiple plans, or offer FSAs, or additional services, or, or, or… There are lots of different solutions or workarounds, and companies don’t usually offer more than one or two.

                My point is that if companies really, truly cared about their employees, they’d find ways to accommodate everyone’s needs. But they don’t, because as I said, they usually find one option that works for most people and figure it’s good enough.

                For my specific example, my company’s insurance isn’t bad. It actually is on a network that includes a trans-friendly clinic I can go to. But if it didn’t, there are things they could do to make it easier on me to get the care I need, including offering other insurance options, PTO specifically for medical appointments, and so on.

                1. ket*

                  I’ll push back on this a little bit. Depending on the employer & the market, employers *can’t* do a lot of that. There may not be many insurance providers in the geographic area and it may be cost-prohibitive, and it requires a lot of employers to add “finding insurance companies that are sensitive to x in their provider networks” to the list of things, because people with auto-immune diseases, people from smaller cultural groups with particular attitudes toward allopathic medicine, etc all have their own concerns.

                  I think what you’re really arguing for is a system that eliminates rival insurance plans entirely — whether single-payer, socialized, or fee-for-service. A single-payer system, for instance, would let you see approximately anyone; same with a pure fee-for-service system.

                  I’m a bit touchy about this for several reasons: I’ve been an “employer” now once and it was a nightmare. I just wanted to pay someone to do a thing for 4 months, and suddenly I’m in this morass of tax forms and withholding and Medicare and Social Security and state ID numbers and federal ID numbers and the person I employed for 4 months contacting me at tax time and asking why TurboTax won’t let them submit electronically. And that’s for $1000 in one quarter for babysitting. I think all this rigmarole of choosing *insurance companies* rather than *health care* is bad for America — it’s just a 30% wealth extraction tax on employers, employees, and the government. You don’t want good insurance most, you want *good care*.

                2. Lilysparrow*

                  I question your statement that caring = meeting everyone’s needs.

                  I just don’t think “meet everyone’s needs” is an achievable goal in any endeavor, ever, anywhere. Particularly when you are factoring in emotional needs. Which are real, of course, but also subjective, unique, and change over time.

                3. OhNo*

                  @ket: Yeah, I was in the not-so-glorious position of helping my family’s small business get a health insurance program started last year, so I’m passingly familiar with some of the issues that employers can run into when putting such a program together. And you’re certainly right that company location, size, revenue, and other things would put big restrictions on what a company is able to provide. The things I propose would be very difficult, if not impossible, for some businesses, especially small businesses, to do.

                  I just wish that more companies that are able did them, and that setting up alternatives for people who need special consideration was commonplace. Personally, I think it should be factored into the “costs of doing business” just like setting up regular health/dental insurance programs, company matching to retirement accounts, and other benefits that companies offer. Seems like it would be a very good way to build loyalty among your employees.

            2. Michaela Westen*

              I always get coverage that allows me to choose my providers because I have a lot of allergies, types of allergies that aren’t taught in med school, and the reason I made it this far is because I’ve learned to listen to my body and what works over a doctor who can’t see beyond his textbooks and cares less.
              I have to have a doctor who respects my experience and works with me, not at me. I am literally better off with no medical care than a doctor who doesn’t hear and respect what I say.
              If a job didn’t offer an option where I could choose my doctors, I’d get a better job. Easy for me to say since I live in a big city, right? That’s one of the reasons I moved here.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I am not comfy with this one. It reads like “hurry up and get back to work”. Nice. (not.)

          I wonder how well these mobile machines are maintained. After talking to someone who works on this type of machine, I would be cautious.

          1. OhNo*

            Yeah, I can’t help but feel like this is a not-so-subtle hint to spend more time at work. Not unlike some of the big tech companies’ on-site laundry services, visiting hairdressers, nap pods, or what-have-you.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Do tech companies still do that? I remember that from the 90’s.
              The message is, “we want you to live at work!”

          2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

            As well as any other machine, at least here in AZ. You need the same inspections to operate as a fixed clinic. All of the ones here are run by the big hospital systems, the university hospitals, or big cancer centers (e.g. Mayo).

    7. LaDeeDa*

      I am all for this. My company does it, we also have hearing and vision testing, and screenings for melanoma. Anything that makes it easier and more convenient for people to have early and frequent screenings will save more lives, with less invasive treatments- saving the individual and the company money.

    8. CatCat*

      Actually, I’d be more likely to go get the exam if it showed up at my work. I assume the actual exams are private.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        They are. Every company I’ve worked for in the last five years does this, and all of the women who go love it due to the privacy and the convenience – they can just pop on over to the van and get it done during their lunch break.

      2. BadWolf*

        Indeed. I probably only get a flu shot because they bring in a flu shot clinic into work.

        1. Bears Beets Battlestar*

          Me too! They make it convenient so people will get one, and it works for me.

        2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

          Me too. It is also the only reason I get my BP, glucose, cholesterol, etc. tested. The onsite stuff has been my stand-in for primary care since I haven’t had any reason to go to the doctor in 15ish (maybe longer?) years aside from occupational health checks for a couple of jobs.

    9. Overeducated*

      I actually like workplace blood drives…I don’t have to go to extra trouble to find a place to give blood so it helps me give more regularly, and frankly being able to lie down and relax for 20 minutes at work is kind of amazing. (Yes, I know it’s really pathetic to feel like blood drives are the most relaxing part of the workday, WHATEVER.) Mammogram Mobile maybe less relaxing, but better than taking leave to drive 30 minutes the opposite direction for an appointment….

      My mom REALLY resented it after she got laid off and still got bimonthly calls asking her to sign up for the company blood drives, though.

    10. DivineMissL*

      I’m OK with the Mammo-mobile, if bringing the mammo to the women means more women will get screened.
      In the interest of equality, though, I do think we need a Prostate-mobile as well.

      1. Nanc*

        Prostrate mobile clinics have been around for a long time. I remember listening to a nurse being interviewed on NPR in the 1990s. She said it was a great job but the van tended to smell like butt by the end of the day.

        I imagine Mammogram-vans came into being when digital imaging technology made it possible to get the equipment into vans/buses. Yay technology!

      2. Danger: GUMPTION AHEAD*

        They have one at my job. It alternates months with the mammogram clinic

    11. Nye*

      That sounds really convenient, and like a great option to offer to employees! I’m assuming you can opt in if interested, and just ignore it if you’re not (like the bloodmobile). Seems like a great way to make it easier for folks to get important regular screenings.

    12. kittymommy*

      I like the idea. My company covers things like this at 100% so I get mine done at the GYN, but for those who either aren’t established with anyone, their dr doesn’t have an imaging machine on site, has difficulty getting in with a lab, or have transportation issues this is a great idea. Anything to make it easier for people to get needed care is a good thing in my book.

    13. CatCat*

      Just another thought. Making actual health services conveniently available is a good thing. Sounds like the company is hitting the mark.

      This would only miss the mark if on top of it, they included things like:
      – The Tit Olympics: Prizes for the work team that gets the most women to have mammograms.
      – The Real Squeeze: Bosses pressuring employees to go use the service.
      – The Wall o’ Boobery: A board showing who has had the mammograms and who hasn’t.

    14. Alice*

      The only way this would be bad would be if they stopped covering mammograms at your doctor’s office.

    15. londonedit*

      Yeah…I know it’s different because I’m in the UK and we get this sort of thing under the NHS, but the NHS still has trouble convincing people to go for these routine screenings (they’re scared; they don’t have time to visit their GP or can’t get a convenient appointment; it’s something they know they should do but never seem to get round to it, etc) and they now have trucks that tour supermarket car parks for mammogram screening and – since quite recently – lung cancer screening too. I think for some people it would make a real difference just being able to pop out for 10 minutes of their workday and have the test done, rather than having to go through the process of scheduling an appointment with their doctor.

      1. Clisby*

        I’m in the US and have good insurance – but I would still like the convenience of something like this. I’m retired now – while I was working I never had problems getting time off for appointments, but to do everything involved in a complete physical could include: 2 visits to my doctor, one to draw blood for tests and one for exam; a different place for a mammogram; a different place for an eye exam; a different place for a hearing test … It would have been really nice to say, “OK, I know that sometime this year the mammogram-mobile and the flu shot people will come around – I’ll just wait for them.”

      2. paperpusher*

        Yes! I get lots of time off (I have about 450 hours of sick leave banked, and am allowed to take 7 hours for a yearly dental and medical visit without using any leave) and I STILL don’t go to the doctor. It’s the logistics, the guilt of using up a doctor’s valuable time, the sense that I won’t find out I’m sick if I don’t get checked out (there is some truth in that too).

        I started finally getting flu shots when there were signs directing me to the pharmacist’s counter on the way to the grocery store checkout. People are fundamentally lazy.

      3. Grace*

        I love the cervical screening ads the NHS has been running these last few months, as well, reminding you to go to your appointment. It’s really normalising it. It’s a couple of years to go before I start getting called for them, but I do feel like it’s less stressful now.

        The main reason I see women – and men – not taking up their regular screenings: Oh, I know I don’t need it, I would just be wasting the nurses’ time, I’ll let someone else have the appointment, I don’t want to be a hassle… What is it about free-at-the-point-of-need healthcare that makes us all want to not waste the doctors’ time with ‘frivolous’ things? Guilty as charged, by the way, as is everyone in my family.

        1. Mari M*

          “What is it about free-at-the-point-of-need healthcare that makes us all want to not waste the doctors’ time with ‘frivolous’ things?”

          Providers who shame free-at-the-point people. I’m on Medicaid and there is now an eye clinic that I will not use because someone who works there makes a point of saying, “The TAXPAYERS are paying for your glasses.” Buddy, I know. I already have a complex about it.

    16. Veryanon*

      It’s not great, but I’ve worked for several companies that offered this, and people always seemed to like it. YMMV, though.

    17. Interplanet Janet*

      Oh, man, I would LOVE that!

      My company has somebody come and offer flu shots in the fall, and the building we work in does a blood drive a couple of times a year. As long as they’re not, like, taking pictures to post on the company blog or anything, I think it’s kind of thoughtful.

      1. CTT*

        GOD, I love flu shots at work. I got very spoiled by it and then went to grad school and just having to walk over to the student health center seemed like such a trial.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I love flu shotst at work too. It takes 5 minutes and I don’t have to wait around at CVS/Target/Walgreens or make an appointment at the dr’s office.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Gah of course I spot the typo right after I hit submit and it’s too late to fix :)

    18. karaiz*

      I would totally love this. My work-provided insurance covers them, I have plenty of flextime, and I’m still three months late for my latest because it’s such a pain in the neck to drive to the doctor’s office, wait for an appointment, blah blah blah.

      Everyone’s different, I guess!

    19. MissGirl*

      This is also really helpful for employees who may not have a car or other transportation options. Sometimes clinics aren’t easy to get to via public transportation. People in rural areas could also benefit from this.

      I can’t speak for other people but I’ve been procrastinating a physical even though I have the insurance because it feels like a hassle. Having a doctor right next door would get me in.

    20. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah, it may sound hokey in ways but these mobile stations are great for people who are “too busy” to get their mammograms or who “forget” about them. Anything that encourages and enables women to be screened for breast cancer is A-OK in my book.

      If they’re rounding you all up and demanding it, then that’s over the top but just having the truck out there and saying “Hey everyone, this is available for you today from 9am-12pm if you’re interested!” that’s just like having a food truck out front for all I’m concerned.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup. I think it’s great. When I go for a mammogram I have to take PTO for a few hours so I can get there, adjust for a wait, get the exam, etc. It’s a pain, and the breast care center I like is not close to the office but is right near my house. I would LOVE the convenience of a mobile mammogram!

    21. Tiffany In Houston*

      When I was a contractor and had substandard insurance, I was able to get a discounted mammogram via the Boob Mobile. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten one at all. So I think it’s great.

      I don’t think it misses the mark at all.

    22. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Dude. If a radiology team was willing to show up at my office and save me the time and hassle of scheduling an appointment and taking off work and parking at the hospital (which is a nightmare where I live), I’m all for it. Bring on the mammogram-mobile.

    23. Camellia*

      We call it the mammo-van! The vehicle itself is set up very well for privacy. Behind the driver’s seat is a little intake table. Then next is an enclosed changing room that has two doors – one into the main body of the van and one into the imaging room. Both have inside locks and the one into the imaging room also has a lock on their side so you can’t just open their door and go in while someone else is in there. Then you wait in the dressing room until the imaging room person unlocks their door and knocks to let you know you can enter. Then you unlock your side of the door and go in and get it done. Then you go back in, lock yourself back in, dress and leave out the entrance into the van. In fact, it’s much more private than the regular mammogram facility where you have to put on the gown and then walk around everywhere in it.

      I should add, there’s two dressing rooms, one on each side of the aisle, so they can keep a steady stream of people going in and out of the imaging room. It works great!

      Our company does this, the provider is covered by our insurance, you call to make your appointment, and it only takes about 15 minutes in-and-out. It’s fantastic!

    24. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Sign me up. I drive 35 miles one way for work, and trying to onto a screener’s schedule at end of day but still get out before my daughter gets home from school has been brutal.
      There’s a lot of other people at this plant that would love it. We’re the only office for miles around out in the ‘burbs with no bus service, and a lot of our employees come in on commuter vans & carpools from NearbyCity where they don’t need to own a car.
      But put it away from the recreation center next door so we don’t get the teenager jokes.

    25. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      What’s wrong with the Blood Mobile? Blood donors are sorely needed, and this is a way to remove barriers to access the donation point. Unless there is undue pressure for people to donate against their wishes (which the receiving organization wouldn’t allow) I literally don’t see a problem with this whatsoever.

      1. Another Manic Monday*

        I wish that I could give blood. I used to donate on a regular basis until they decided that my European blood wasn’t good enough for Americans.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Ohhh, they tried doing that to me when I gave last year, for the first time in my American life. Turned out that I was either born in a country that wasn’t on their no-go list, or left it early enough, or both. If I’d had the money to have traveled to Western Europe in the last 10-15 years, I’d have been SOL I guess.

          The reason why I hadn’t tried giving blood until last year was that, my then-husband tried once, about 20 years ago, soon after we moved to the US, and received a letter in the mail a few weeks later informing him that based on where he was born (iirc), he could have traces of hepatitis, so they discarded his blood just to be safe. He never had hepatitis in his life. He never gave blood again and neither did I, until I decided to try last year and somehow was approved. He and I were born in completely different parts of the home country, thousands of miles from each other, so that’s probably why I got through and he didn’t. I’m not a fan of a lot of the restrictions around donating blood btw.

        2. Former Employee*

          I think it might have something to do with Mad Cow Disease aka: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

      2. WS*

        If the Blood Mobile is at a really big company, it might be fine, but it came to my smaller company (about 200 people overall, arranged into close-knit departments of about 30-40 people) and it was really obvious who was donating, even without the sticker, and who hadn’t. And then the rumour started up that the one openly gay man was HIV+, even though being a man who had sex with men at all was enough to disqualify him; I personally got a “helpful” talk from another fat employee that I would fit in their comfy chair no problem, when I’m actually an excluded donor for the kind of cancer I had.

        Fortunately, there were enough private complaints that the company didn’t do it again six months later.

    26. Jaid*

      I’d use it. I don’t care if people know that I’m getting the girls looked at. As long as it’s clean, the equipment reliable, and the folks qualified, I’d be first in line.

    27. ClumsyCharisma*

      We offer this a couple times a year and the appointments go fast so if you don’t see the email the day it is sent out there is a chance you won’t get one.
      I am still a few years away from having my first but I can guarantee you I’ll be more likely to get one in the parking lot than I would be having to make an appointment and go even though my boss does not care if I leave for a few hours and doesn’t make me use my PTO and I have great insurance.
      Same reason I get a flu shot when they are here because there is no way I would take the time to go get one elsewhere. Although I think both are important I know I wouldn’t prioritize it even though I should.

    28. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I… actually want that!

      Then again, at my workplace, if you take a Dr appointment, you need to either take a personal day (or half-day) or make up the missed time to the minute. Any time I save by not driving to the hospital and back, not sitting in a waiting room, etc, is the time I do not have to stay late to put back in. Sounds pretty exciting to me.

    29. Sharon*

      This sounds good to me. However, I don’t like the Blood Mobile. I worked at a company in the past that had regular visits from the Blood Mobile and employees were STRONGLY encouraged to donate. I have a medical condition that prevents me from giving blood and every time the Blood Mobile visited I was made to feel bad that I wasn’t participating. Then I felt the need to explain that I had a medical condition, which I had no desire to share with anyone. Repeat this cycle every couple of months….

    30. Dusty Bunny*

      The Boob Bus comes to my place of work, and has for several years now. I don’t think anyone likes getting a mammogram, but this is extremely convenient and efficient, compared to going downtown to the doctor’s office. I found the Boob Bus staff to be professional & discreet, and the bus is outfitted with changing rooms/diagnostic room similar to the brick & mortar office.

      I realize it is disconcerting the first time you see the Boob Bus on site, but think pink, Blue Bunny. An ounce of prevention awaits right outside your door. It will not get more convenient than that.

    31. Delta Delta*

      Would 100% visit a mammogram truck. Odds actually also somehow increase if it’s also parked next to a taco truck.

    32. ...*

      Can other people see the mammogram procedure? I would assume it’s at a minimum in a private area or behind and opaque partition. I think this is great? It’s bringing a healthy option to you and is it free?? I’m sorry but I think this is wonderful. But then again I have a family member dying from breast cancer that wasn’t detected early enough.

    33. Sam*

      I’m with you – this is super weird. What if I just got one a month ago – am I going to be judged because I’m not heading to parking lot B? I don’t need to explain this to my employer. If I’m using their insurance, I have the option to go somewhere.

      Also, I go to a place that’s pretty nice (spa setting). Hard pass on the boob-mobile.

    34. Moocowcat*

      This sounds like a good thing to me. My city has mobile health everything. Blood donations, prostate exams, dental, basic health checks, safe works.
      Maybe I’m missing something?

    35. Megasaurusus*

      Our local mammogram bus program stopped and I was really sad to see it go. It was much more convenient to get the yearly done at our health fair than make an appointment and take time off of work.
      The rational for stopping the service was that it was in brought about when mammograms were harder to obtain in semi-rural communities and our medical community had grown to offer a lot of variety. Which is true, but I haven’t bothered to schedule a mammogram since the bus stopped coming to the health fair because it’s so ridiculously hard to schedule preventative care appointments.

    36. stitchinthyme*

      My first mammogram was in one of those. I don’t see what’s wrong with it.

    37. KarenK*

      I get my mammograms at work, but then I work at a hospital! Super convenient. Not quite the spa treatment, but is it right downstairs!

      1. CatMintCat*

        I find the blood drives problematic because I am, and probably always will be, ineligible to donate blood. Two reasons: an excluded medical condition and I lived in England during the exclusion period for “Mad Cow Disease” and I don’t think the Red Cross is going to close either exclusion soon. It’s irritating having to explain that to every new crop of co-workers (donating blood is a big thing at my workplace and new young people jump on the culture happily).

        It’s a great thing to do, but I can’t do it. Please accept my “I’m sorry, I can’t” without a lot of questions.

        Mobile mammogram? I’d be all over that idea.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          When I gave last year, I was beyond shocked and confused when the list of exclusions they gave me to fill out to confirm that I did not have any of them, contained “male who had sex with another male in the last 6 (or 12, I forget) months” and “I had sex with a male who had sex with another male in the last 6-12-whatever months”. Like… It’s 2019 and we are going to turn down happily married wholesome couples because of an outdated restriction that probably didn’t make a lot of sense even when it was first introduced (which I assume was 30-40 years ago?) It really upset me. Not enough to turn around and walk out, but close.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Forgot to add, I cannot imagine *that* coming up in a workplace whenever a bloodmobile shows up. “Hey boss, why aren’t you giving blood like the rest of us?” Ugh, ugh, ugh.

          2. dunstvangeet*

            That actually was the updated one. It used to be that they excluded for life any male who had sex with another male.

        2. FoxyDog*

          This. Although at my work I’m fortunate that nobody has bothered my about it, but there’s always the potential.

    38. Flash Bristow*

      I like the idea; I started giving blood when the bloodmobile showed up in my uni carpark. Not sure mammogram are due yet but I know I’m late with my smear due to schedule. Wish I could get it done more handily! Reminders like that would be ok surely? I’d’ve just got it done if not for other health issues
      Is it just odd because mammogram tend to apply to women, whereas blood donation isn’t so focused on gender? Or acknowledge that we have naughty bits hidden away? Everyone has breasts after all.

      Just a thought, apols for clumsy language but I’m falling to sleep …

    39. Sylvan*

      Sounds okay to me? I know it’s something I should stay on top of, but it’s a pain in the ass and I’d hate to use PTO on it. I’d probably go to a mobile if there were one around here.

    40. Slartibartfast*

      My company drives the booby bus, but it typically visits care homes and senior living complexes.

    41. Lujessmin*

      Gee, your company is trying to look after your health. How rude!

      I liked giving blood at work – an hour away from your desk and nobody could say anything about it.

    42. The Other Dawn*

      I would absolutely love a mammogram mobile. I moved a few years ago and the facility I like to go to has locations only in my old geographic area, which means going on a Saturday–which are always booked far ahead–and driving 45+ minutes each way. I would love to not have to do that. Could I go somewhere around here? Sure, but the places up here are in the hospitals and are way busier than going to the regular place.

  7. Susan K*

    I’m not going to try to change this because I’m sure I wouldn’t get anywhere with it, but I am wondering whether I’m getting offended over nothing or if this is legitimately annoying.

    My company (an industrial facility) recently started a safety campaign that is all about being safe for your children’s sake. The walls of the hallways are plastered with larger-than-life, 6-foot-high Fatheads (wall decals) of employees’ children with safety captions like, “Work safe grandpa, I love you!” or “Don’t forget to wear your safety gear, daddy!” At the entrance to the facility, there are signs that say, “Work safe — someone’s waiting for you at home!” (The poor grammar is not even my complaint.)

    On top of this, I have heard a lot of managers make comments about “doing this for our kids.” For example, at a meeting about a big project that was getting off track, a director lectured everyone that the cost of getting behind schedule is time with our families because if we don’t finish the project on schedule, we’ll have to keep working long hours, and that means that Joe won’t be able to see his kid’s baseball game and Bob will have to miss his kid’s dance recital.

    Well, I’m single with no kids and that’s probably not going to change. So, does that mean I don’t have to “work safe”? And does it not matter if I have to work long hours, because I don’t have any kids’ events to attend or any family in the area? Someone’s waiting for me at home? I hope not, because I live alone! Now, I realize that a lot of people’s lives center around their kids and families, and that’s fine, and I’m not offended by people prioritizing their families. I am, however, starting to get annoyed by having giant pictures of coworkers’ kids in my face all day and constant messages about kids being all that matter in life. I’m sure they didn’t set out to insult people without kids, but there’s this implied sense of superiority — these other people are doing it for their kids and I’m just a selfish jerk who’s only looking out for myself — and also, my safety and my time don’t matter because I don’t have kids.

    1. londonedit*

      Oh, man, this would annoy the everliving HECK out of me. Yeah, great, so no one gives a flying fig about my workplace safety, because I don’t have kids waiting at home? Brilliant.

    2. anna green*

      Oof yeah, as a safety person, I would not have chosen that campaign. It makes it seem like you are only valuable because of what other people think of you. You should be safe because you are important, just in general. I also think it’s not worth fighting over, just a roll your eyes thing and wait until the next silly campaign comes along.

      1. anna green*

        omg I just re-read and didn’t realize they were actual pictures of coworkers real children, not just stock photos and posters. That would totally drive me crazy too.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Well okay I suddenly understand why the powers-that-be upstairs decided to ONLY use stock photos instead of employee photos unless it’s a headshot or a posed group shot at a special event.

    3. Watry*

      Yeah, that’s annoying. Just the decals wouldn’t be worth the mental space, but it sounds like they’re harping on it. As a single childfree-by-choice-and-biology person, I think I’d be mildly annoyed too.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Ew gross. I think I’m more concerned that it’s actual pictures of people’s actual children at their place of work. Granted I don’t have children so maybe I’m way off but there’s something weird about that.

      Also, if there were pictures of dogs/cats/other pets instead of children, I might totally be on board, so do with that what you will. (That anti-drinking and driving commercial with the dog waiting at home: “they won’t understand why you didn’t come back” caught me straight in the feels.)

      But then again I think if the message was more along the lines of “we all have lives outside of work and different things that motivate us, let’s be safe/efficient/work hard so we all get to experience that” you might be more into it. Them going full hog with the “oh god think of the children” message in everything is super weird.

      1. kittymommy*

        – Also, if there were pictures of dogs/cats/other pets instead of children, I might totally be on board, so do with
        that what you will. (That anti-drinking and driving commercial with the dog waiting at home: “they won’t
        understand why you didn’t come back” caught me straight in the feels.)

        Same, Narwahl, same. Thinking of my little kitties sitting at home waiting for me after I got in an accident was terrifying.

    5. Approval is optional*

      I think it’s interesting that you see an implied sense of superiority: I see a patronising, guilt-tripping strategy that implies that if you get injured, you’re a selfish unloving parent! There is an ad for heart health here that has a child saying that their mother didn’t love them, because the mother died from heart disease and left them alone (I’ve paraphrased of course)!! Your company is taking the same tack, and I see little positive about it.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, it’s not great for anyone. If a parent does get injured, there’s this whole other ‘YOU HAVE LET YOUR CHILDREN DOWN’ guilt thing, and as a non-parent myself I totally read it as an example of the whole ‘Parents’ lives are more meaningful than yours’ bullcrap. Not a great look all round.

      2. BethDH*

        Yeah, this was my first response too. But then, I tend to be sensitive to things that make me feel like my only relevant role in society is as a mother, and that goes double when it’s at work.
        That said, it seems like it’s over-the-top enough that I would probably laugh at it. Or start some new memes . . .

        1. Former Employee*

          At least you are relevant in some way. /s

          Based on this “campaign”, people who aren’t parents seem to be irrelevant.

      3. motherofdragons*

        This also totally read as patronizing to me. I’m a parent and I would hate this kind of guilt-trippy bullshit. As if we don’t already have enough “careful that you’re not a shitty parent!” being lobbed at us from all other aspects of our lives!

    6. ClosedWindow*

      I’m single and childless too, so I would find it annoying in that regard.

      Even if I had kids, it’d still rub me the wrong way. I think the “be safe for your loved ones’/friends’ sake” message could be a good way to tug at emotions and help persuade people to be safe, but it’s more appropriate as an e-mail, a small portion of a presentation, or a few posters with stock kid photos. 6-foot high photos of actual employee kids is creepy and strange! Were people forced to supply photos or something? I can’t image agreeing to that. And the manager reminding everyone that they’re “doing it for the kids” seems pushy and intrusive. We don’t need to be constantly reminded of our family life (or lack of a family life) at work.

      1. Susan K*

        I know, right? If I had kids, I don’t think I’d be comfortable with having their photos displayed like this. I wouldn’t be comfortable having my photo displayed like this at my parents’ workplace. I don’t know how they got the photos because I don’t remember seeing any company-wide request for photos of kids.

        1. ClosedWindow*

          I wouldn’t want my photo displayed at my parents’ job either! I hope they didn’t steal the photos off of Facebook and surprise the parents.

          1. Susan K*

            I’m fairly sure the parents voluntarily provided the photos, because I’d have to think there would be outrage if the company just took the pictures off Facebook or something. I’m not sure how the company went about asking for the photos (did they just ask random people until they got enough photos? Or maybe they approached people who had photos on their desks or lockers?), but there are hundreds of employees here, so I’m sure there were enough people who thought it would be awesome to see giant photos of their kids in the hallway every day.

            1. ClosedWindow*

              Ah, okay. It make sense that there’d be a couple weird people out of hundreds. :)

      2. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

        Yeah, the fact that the photos are photos of actual kids/grandkids is what threw me. That seems very intrusive. I am not a parent, but if I were, I wouldn’t want photos of my children blown up and posted throughout my workplace. This is a total lack of privacy, and it also seems kind of dangerous…if there were to be a situation where a disgruntled employee or customer got it in their minds to do something awful in retaliation and knows what your children look like.

    7. T3k*

      Ew, just ew. I also feel like, depending how the company is, it also has the subtle effect of going “if you quit, how will you support your child/family?” Not to mention the privacy issue regarding using actual images of the kids.

      1. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        On the other hand, if there are layoffs or if someone gets fired they can turn it around and throw it back at the company: “If you let me go, how will I support my child/family?”

    8. Beatrice*

      I have a child, and I’d hate this. Don’t invoke my personal life in work matters, and don’t try to motivate me by evoking an emotional response. The workplace is a business and their motives are practical, and I’d rather they be straightforward about that.

      1. Susan K*

        Yeah, I also think it’s kind of patronizing for the company to pretend that they care about their employees’ kids. I think we all know that the company’s main interest in safety is not getting sued, and their main interest in finishing projects on time is profit.

    9. OhNo*

      I have so many questions about this campaign. Like, did the parents all okay having massive decals made of their children? Where did the pictures come from? Did they kids’ other parent(s) give approval? What about the kids themselves? I cannot even imagine being a teen or tween and knowing that there was a massive image of me at peak awkward adorning the wall of my dad’s workplace where a bunch of strangers could see it.

      Anyway, yeah. This is a campaign that would irritate the heck out of me. As a childfree-by-choice adult, I’d be irritated that my life and safety is viewed as less important because I’m not supporting kids. Because humans are complicated beasts, I’d also be irritated as a devoted uncle, because my awesome nibling didn’t get to be on the wall, implying that any relationship other than primary parent doesn’t ‘count’ as important to the company.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Oh, I’m sure the employer hacked all their employee’s social media accounts, stole the pictures, and used them without permission.

        Or pulled everyone’s health insurance records to make sure that everyone who was insuring a child was required to supply a photo or be fired.

        As opposed to making an announcement about a big campaign featuring kids, and that everyone who wanted to send in a photo of their kids should email it to Karen in Communications. Because just asking for volunteers would, of course, be so much extra work and hassle when you could just turn your company into a supervillain out of a dystopian novel.

        1. OhNo*

          Wow, the tone coming off your comment is… intense. I’m not sure if you meant it that way, but it really reads as condescending and rude.

          I’m not seeing where I suggested or even implied that the company was some kind of supervillain. I was curious about the logistics of it, since this seems like a program that would take a massive amount of effort. Plus, you know, I thought it would be fun to pose some of the questions that immediately popped into my head, and maybe have a congenial back-and-forth with my fellow commenters about how much effort and logistics this plan must have taken.

          Guess that’s off the table, though, huh?

          1. Lilysparrow*

            Ask a silly question, aka “where did the photos come from?”

            Get a silly answer.

            You ask any random group of parents, “would you like your kid’s photo to be in a promo campaign?” and they will flood your inbox any day of the week and twice on Thursdays.

            1. OhNo*

              Or maybe, just maybe, it was meant to be a rhetorical question to get a conversation about logistics started? You know, like when I said, “I thought it would be fun to pose some of the questions that immediately popped into my head, and maybe have a congenial back-and-forth with my fellow commenters about how much effort and logistics this plan must have taken.”

              But since this response makes it clear that the condescension in your initial response was intentional, I don’t think I’ll be engaging with you anymore.

            2. Shoes On My Cat*

              Yikes! That was …unkind. If someone asks a question, it means they don’t have an answer. People do not all have the same background/history/life experience, so what seems obvious to one person, is a whole new world to another person—and vice versa. We have seen some fantastic examples of poor judgement, thoughtlessness and all around ‘out of touch scenarios’ in this column. It’s not a long stretch to imagine some intern tasked with getting pictures to go around with a phone and snap photos/scans of desk photos rather than sending an email, which the initial commenter stated didn’t happen so….leaves the door open for the entertainment of mental musings. Just for fun.

        2. Former Employee*

          Or maybe they have a company newsletter which includes pictures of employees and their families and decided it would be cute to re-purpose those photos for this safety campaign.

          It might not have crossed anyone’s mind that a photo that is acceptable for a one time use in a little newsletter might not be such a great idea when blown up to life size and used on a permanent basis.

    10. Jadelyn*

      Oh my GOD I would be so pissed. I’m childfree – by choice, thanks – and because of the way people tend to be about women* who don’t want kids, I’m pretty damn sensitive about implications that my life is not complete or is worth less until I’ve spawned. People’s time outside of work is valuable regardless of their reproductive status, people’s safety is valuable whether the ones who love them and depend on them are under 18, and this safety campaign and whole framing of the work is a total dumpster fire of exclusivity. Consider also: the Othering effect this may have on same-sex couples, for whom having kids is a much more deliberate and fraught process than it tends to be for most mixed-sex couples.

      *I’m genderqueer/genderfluid, but I’m AFAB and am inevitably assumed to be a woman, so I count myself under that umbrella still for purposes of social interaction, since that’s how the world treats me.

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Also childfree very much by choice. This campaign would seriously piss me off. I don’t have children, I don’t want children, I’m not having children. And there are still people in my life who would be very upset if I got hurt.

        I totally feel you on the obnoxious way women who don’t have children get treated. And I’ve been on the receiving end of being expected to pick up the slack for coworkers with children (that’s a recipe for resentment, for sure – I don’t mind so much if the favor gets returned when I need a little flexibility…but more often, my experience has been that the very people I covered for complained about my needing any consideration.)

        It would be so much better if the campaign was focused on “stay safe for whatever/whoever is important in your life.” Your partner (if you have one), family, friends, pets…whatever. But as it is…tone-deaf is the mildest description I can think of.

    11. LCL*

      Think of this as an opportunity to get some needed safety improvements. Your argument to management in favor of new tools, more staffing, reevaluating a process etc is ‘We have just started this new safety campaign. These things I am suggesting are safety items and would fit right in with this campaign.’

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would demand that there be a fat-head of my cat. “Work safe, h00man, I need you to scoop my box tonight!”

      1. AnonEMoose*

        Fat-head of the cat glaring out of the picture, with the caption “You need to FEED ME.”

        1. Jadelyn*

          “Work harder, human, you need to buy me more treats!”

          (I always give my kitty a treat when I leave for work, and sometimes I’ll say “Ok, bye baby, someone’s got to go out and earn money to keep buying you treats.”)

          1. rmw1982*

            I tell my cats I have to go to work to buy them cat food. They seem unimpressed.

    13. I need a vacation*

      a director lectured everyone that the cost of getting behind schedule is time with our families because if we don’t finish the project on schedule, we’ll have to keep working long hours, and that means that Joe won’t be able to see his kid’s baseball game and Bob will have to miss his kid’s dance recital.

      I would run out of there screaming. Way to guilt us about other people’s parenting needs and making it my fault for the boss’s failing or other matters beyond my control, and also if the company REALLY cared about this shit, they would say “we never make you work long hours so you have to miss your kids events” and wow, like, “my dad never came to my ball games!” and “my dad never showed up to my recitals!” are such stereotypical things that, wow, way to blame the wrong people for that instead of blaming the boss or the culture.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That whole thing sounds paternalistic and condescending.

        No. It’s your job to work safely. You don’t work safely, you get written up. Period. The end of discussion.
        It’s your job to assist the work flow, you can’t keep things moving along, we are going to have a chat about that.

        It almost sounds like they think people are dense.

        Any time I have heard complaints about falling behind schedule, the people being admonished had absolutely no control over that. A classic example was when a contract was to be completed by X date.
        The raw materials to do the job arrived on that date that completion was due.
        Front line people have no control over these types of problems, yet they got the hurry up! lecture.

      2. EinJungerLudendorff*

        They’re basically holding their employees time with their loved ones hostage.
        “If you want to see your family again, you better do everything we tell you. Failure will not be tolerated.”

    14. Grace*

      Huh. I’ve seen that done the other way around – some of the tram stops in my city have posters with pictures of kids saying their daddy is a tram driver or whatever (uncertain whether actual children or stock photos) in the context of “You’re not just ruining your own life if you drive your car out in front of a tram, the drivers have families and lives too” which I think is reasonably effective. Though the point of those posters isn’t “Stay safe for your children”, it’s more aimed at humanising the drivers and making people think about them more.

      But posters with the actual kids of workers? Kind of weird. And icky. Not least because plenty of people don’t like the idea of having photos of their children out in the wild…

    15. Liz*

      I get it. While I don’t work in that type of setting, i AM single, with no kids, and live alone. So yeah, while technically I don’t have anyone waiting for me at home, i DO have an elderly, disabled, but still very with it and independent mother who does rely on me for some things. So yeah, my safety would be for her!

    16. Sam Sepiol*

      Sometimes in roadworks on UK motorways I’ve seen similar pictures “don’t kill my dad” kind of thing. I have a kid and the implication that parents are inherently more valuable than non-parents annoys me.

      Valid frustration.

    17. MeganK*

      This is horrifying, and I say that as someone who is weeks away from having their first kid. Like I have just been sitting here dumbfounded with my mouth hanging open.

      First of all, ABSOLUTELY not everyone has kids and not everyone wants to, and workplaces – like, just don’t do this. Just don’t. Second of all, even people who have kids or grandkids or whatever, why…are we making our work lives all about people who don’t work at the company? I think people with are perfectly able to remember that their kids do in fact depend on them without stuffing it down everyone’s throats like this, yikes.

      Someone else mentioned people’s permission/comfort level with GIANT PICTURES OF THEIR CHILDREN ADORNING WORK HALLWAYS and I agree, I have all the questions about that. I kind of want to know how those conversations even went – how do you ask someone for photos of their kid to blow up and paste in the hallway with scold-y messages? Seriously, how do the words come out of your mouth and you still don’t realize how weird it is, hypothetical asking person?

      Last but not least, this feels really icky and manipulative to me. Like, talk to me as a professional about my work, but DO NOT bring my kids into my performance evaluations and into our conversations about work hours, etc. It would be inappropriate for me to do it, it’s inappropriate for my workplace to do it too. And that doesn’t even get into how it would make other people to feel to think I somehow blame _them_ for missing time with my family if we have to work late? I don’t think you could do a better job pitting employees against each other if you tried (well, ok, you could, but you’d have to try hard). @Susan K you are absolutely not overreacting, this is horrible no matter how you look at it.

      1. MeganK*

        Sorry, I think I muddied my last point – if I’m letting talking about my kids or being out of the office for family-related stuff affect my work, it makes sense to bring that up in my performance evaluations, because it’s affecting the quality of my work! But don’t use an emotional whammy to try and manipulate me into doing my job correctly/safely – we should have adequate processes to train and enforce that.

        Just like it would be wildly inappropriate for me to say, “but you can’t fire me, what about my faaaaamily,” it should be just as inappropriate for my workplace to say “you have to perform adequately because your faaaaaamily.” So weird and gross.

    18. KR*

      So we did a similar safety campaign called “Why we work safe”. Management sent out huge blank posters. I don’t have kids so I put up a pic of my with my spouse and my animals. Lots of people put up pictures of pets or kids. They also wrote on the posters reasons why they might work safe such as reduced health care costs or disruptions to life. I can see why this campaign is rubbing you the wrong way and maybe it would be a good suggestion to your management to expand their safety campaign to include people without kids or family.

        1. KR*

          It was a pretty fun way to participate in the safety program and it’s a nice reminder about safety. I also got to post up pics of my pets at work so thats nice. Brings some personal touches to our office.

        2. Elitist Semicolon*

          I would have filled my poster with graphic pictures of industrial accidents and written something like, “Because I don’t want to end up on a poster like this.” Then again, I’m terrible, so.

          1. KR*

            Some offices did that. Not wanting to get injured is a very valid reason to want to work safely.

          2. Shoes On My Cat*

            That’s funny!! I spend my day teaching outdoor skills to adults and their favorite of my many sayings is ‘learn from my bruises, not yours!’ So I am basically a live version of your hypothetical poster! (Scars too…& I’m considered overly cautious by my peers!)

        3. LJay*

          Seriously. I work in a job and industry where safety is very important. And there is no way me or my team are taking time to make posters of things that are important to us.

          It’s giving me bad flashbacks to when I worked a sales job and they wanted us to make “dream boards” to look at while doing our sales, because looking at pictures of what we wanted to do with out commission money would make us better sellers apparently.

          Or the Simpson’s with his Maggie “Do it for her” picture.

          1. KR*

            I mean, by taking the time to make posters I mean it took me less than 20 minutes to email a couple pictures to my work email, print them, and tape them to the poster. and it probably took an additional 10 minutes to unwrap the poster, read the instructions, and hang it up in our office. Coworkers who did not want to put up pictures wrote reasons why they work safe on the poster.
            Our company takes the standpoint that safety is our top priority all the time and that there is always time for safety & safety related activities. Sorry to hear y’all are super busy.

    19. Anonymeece*

      Wasn’t there a comedian who said something similar about those “Baby on Board” decals on cars? Like, “Drive safe because I have a baby! No, drive safe because there are other human beings of all ages in cars around you.”

      I mean, I don’t think it’d be worth causing a stink over, but yeah, that’s a bit obnoxious.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I remember that. It morphed into dalmatian on board or collie on board, etc then finally faded out.
        I used to chuckle. “Yeah, my car just has me in it. So no worries.”

      2. Lady Kelvin*

        I always assumed it was so that if there was an accident first responders would know that there may be littles in the vehicles who are less likely to survive the same injuries as an adult and may need faster/different care. I know we had stickers on our bedroom windows when I was a kid to alert the fire dept, that these were children’s rooms so that they could rescue the kids first in the event of an emergency. Nowadays people would probably argue that that’s just advertising to potential kidnappers which room is the kid’s room, but since its more likely for your house to catch on fire than a random stranger to abduct a kid, the risk is probably worth it. Plus if a rando was going to abduct a kid, all they’d have to do is look in the window to see if there was kid stuff in it. Firefighters don’t have the luxury of time.

    20. JediSquirrel*

      IIRC, I read about this on LinkedIn. The reason they did this is that none of their employees were taking safety matters seriously and they had a high number of injuries every month. An intern came up with this idea, because à large number of their employees are Hispanic and highly family oriented. After this campaign started, the number of injuries dropped to nearly zero. So there was a perfectly good reason for doing this in the first place. All previous attempts to reduce the number of injuries and get employees to take safety seriously had failed, including disciplinary action.

      The managers are being a bit over the top, though.

    21. Washi*

      Ugh, it reminds me of when people talk about street harassment being bad because that woman is someone’s daughter/mother/sister etc. No! You are a human who has a right to safety!

      1. Cambridge Comma*

        Yeah, it’s like ‘that woman might bethe property of some other guy, so leave ber alone!’

    22. proud pet parent*

      yeah, that would really annoy me too. now if they said be safe, your dog and cats depend on you, that’s another story!

    23. Errol*

      There’s actually a campaign run in my city every single year of this. It’s just adverts of kids crying or asking where Daddy is (and always Daddy, never Mommy) or sitting at the table having a stare down with a glass of milk (that was a confusing one) and then at the end it has a “DRIVE SAFE IN CONSTRUCTION ZONES FOR THE CHILDREN” or some other silly slogan on the screen. They have giant banners and billboards on the side of the roads.
      Its both awful and funny even though I understand it shouldn’t be it’s just the execution of the idea was so so bad.

      It’s a terrible campaign, but someone had success with it somewhere once and then it became a Thing To Do. I’m childless as well so I hate these campaigns, but I’d wager even people with kiddlets are getting annoyed by it.

      1. Clawfoot*

        Yup. Billboards in construction zones with cherub-faced children looking worried. “Drive safe — my daddy works here!” I’ve seen them around here, and it drives me nuts.

    24. Ella Vader*

      I’m single and childless, and this isn’t offensive. Granted, I don’t get offended by much and don’t go looking for offense where no is intended, either.

      1. 3pointsofcontact*

        I totally agree. Based on my pretty regular reading of this site, I don’t think a lot active commenters work in an industrial setting. I don’t think you can really get how big of a deal safety (safety initiatives, safety protocols, safety departments) is in industry compared to office work (I’ve done both! Office in DC, industrial setting out west! We are REQUIRED to hold on to handrails walking up stairs in an office on the industrial site! Never had signs like that in DC offices!). Nowadays (compared to, say, pre-OSHA, pre-MSHA days), SO MANY safety incidents are just… “oh, I’ll just lean a little bit to grab this so I don’t have to move my ladder” –> spinal injury, or “oh, help me carry this real fast” –> one person lets go of heavy thing too early, hand injury. No matter how many safety meetings, safety discussions, protective gear vouchers, safety protocols and forms, people keep doing little things like this that have big health/injury consequences. Remembering you’ve got a kid/family/whatever to go home to OR that your COWORKER that you put at risk has kids/spouse/sick parents helps put your sloppy/not thoughtful/not careful work in perspective! No one’s saying people with kids matter more. It’s saying that one second of carelessness can threaten your health, your coworkers’ health, and ALL the people who care about y’all’s well-being.
        I don’t like the director’s thing about too much work means everyone has to work long hours, seems like a management/scheduling issue to me.

    25. MoopySwarpet*

      This is legitimately annoying. Not a hill to die on by any means, but you’re not weird for being annoyed.

    26. Eukomos*

      That would drive me nuts, as a person who wants kids with a partner who isn’t sure about them. Thanks for throwing that in my face all day every day, work. And there are people in way worse situations, what if there’s someone struggling with infertility or who recently had a miscarriage? That could be really painful.

    27. MissDisplaced*

      I feel you on this, as I’m not much of a kid person myself. I suppose I get that family is important to a lot of people, but as a campaign they could’ve been a little more inclusive to the other joys of life that don’t involve breeding.

  8. Panda*

    Can you require someone to take FMLA/Disability?

    I wrote about a month or two about my boss who is very ill with cancer. She’s still trying to work in spite of being extremely ill, repeated hospitalizations, and she’s barely online. We received an email on Tuesday from her stating that’s she so dehydrated and exhausted that she is in a wheelchair and has a nurse coming to the house to give her iv fluids a couple times per week, she’s too weak to continue chemo, has C-Diff from being the hospital, is in overwhelming pain and on pain killers, and her “entire life is committed” to seeing her granddaughter graduate from high school on Monday “live.” In spite of this, she’s attempting to work.

    How can she even attempt to work? I know she’s been at this company for 30+ years and is dedicated to us, and what she and her family are going through is way worse than us as her direct reports. But honestly, (I feel like a jerk for saying this) this is super distracting. She’s maybe online for 2 hours per day from what I can tell (via our chat software) and we’ve all been treating her boss like he’s our boss now because she’s been unreachable. But then she gets upset when we do that.

    Can my company make her take disability or retire (she’s 69) because she’s not well enough to work even if she things she is?

    1. Temperance*

      Oh yikes. This is a situation that would need an attorney to handle. With her advanced age and her health issues, I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of a lawsuit.

    2. Colette*

      Honestly, it sounds like her manager needs to talk with her and let her know that your team is going to be going to him until she is able to be back at work full time. He doesn’t have to make her stop working, but he does need to make it so you can work without having to deal with her emotions about it.

      1. C*

        Agreed. Her manager needs to let her know that the company will give her the space she needs, but work does continue and he expects the team to come to him with time-sensitive issues if she’s not available. Do you have a relationship with her boss where you can suggest something like this?

        And, no, I don’t think you can make anyone take FMLA or disability. I have a coworker with Parkinsons who is not nearly as dire as your boss, but also really shouldn’t be working. My boss has let him know that he has full support if he wants to take FMLA or go on disability, he’ll help with the paperwork if Coworker wants, etc. but he can’t/won’t push further.

        1. Camellia*

          Plus, I’ve found that many people think that FMLA leave is paid leave. It is only paid leave if you have sick days or vacation days that you can take during your leave. If you are lucky enough to have short-term and long-term disability insurance through your work then that will help some, but at a reduced wage/salary.

          Many people don’t have enough (or any) sick/vacation days in order to get paid. Even fewer have disability insurance. All FMLA does is guarantee that they will keep SOME KIND of job for you. It doesn’t pay your wage or salary.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        I was going to say the same thing – her manager and HR needs to get involved here. He can absolutely tell her that she needs to take FMLA leave since her medical issues are becoming a distraction in the workplace, he just needs HR to be there with him to ensure he’s using the correct language. When I was having medical issues that only required me going to therapy once a day every week, my grandboss at my old company two jobs ago told my supervisor to tell me to work with HR to get approved for intermittent FMLA leave. His reason was that if someone above him noticed my frequent appointments and started questioning it, he could always say I had approved medical leave and no one would be able to threaten my employment. No one at that company in that division would have done that anyway, but he just wanted to be on the safe side.

        1. Not Me*

          I definitely wouldn’t couch it as her medical issues being a distraction in the workplace. It needs to be clear what the expectations of her role are and where she isn’t meeting them. This needs to be about her performance and ability to do her job.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Oh, of course – that’s why I said HR needs to be present for this conversation as well so the manager says the right thing to her as opposed to something like what I said, lol.

    3. Lora*

      I don’t know about “make”. I have seen people be told that they WILL be retiring or that the company WILL be assisting them in the transition to short term disability or whatever. But the unspoken part of it was, you can do this the easy way and let us help with paperwork or we can fire you outright because you’re not performing – and we’re really trying to help you. Sometimes they tell the person, we will always have a place here for you, but right now you need to take care of yourself, or sometimes they offer to provide part time work in a less demanding role, but mostly not.

      But I’ve also had relatives who worked well past the time that their health really allowed them to do their jobs competently, because they couldn’t afford to retire even at age 70, because they had enormous medical bills from the illness that was causing them to lose so much time at work, etc. It may well be that medical bills have eaten up all her savings despite insurance, it might be that without full time work she won’t have insurance and would have to discontinue her treatments. You never know what’s really going on with a person.

      1. blink14*

        100% agree with the insurance comment. She most likely is making a tremendous effort on her part to remain involved because she desperately needs her health insurance to cover treatment.

        It’s also possible doing some form of work everyday is what is keeping her together mentally – trying to maintain a normal routine as best she can.

        1. Ashley*

          Given her age she should qualify for Medicare. This is something the higher ups need to address and short term disability might be the solution. This also might be a company showing compassion by letting her keep her job. I think you are limited to having a conversation with her boss about how to handle reporting decisions given her limited availability.

          1. Former Employee*

            I would hate to think that this poor woman is desperately hanging on to her job and forcing herself to work when this ill because she believes she will be without insurance if she retires. If she or her spouse worked for 10 years or more and paid Medicare taxes for that time period, then she was eligible for Medicare at age 65.

            In addition, she should be entitled to disability coverage, whether it’s a benefit though her employer or provided by the state she lives in or through Social Security.

          2. Tom & Johnny*

            As someone with an aged parent with multiple health issues, Medicare is not a panacea. It’s not an answer really at all. Many people pay for add-on healthcare plans for good reason. And many doctors will not take Medicare patients at all.

            Not to mention that getting chemotherapy protocols approved and paid for is a postmodern farce unto itself, even with the best of insurance. Changing insurance in the middle of chemo, to a state administered policy that some doctors don’t even take, is nightmarish.

            Medicare is entirely state dependent, and especially Medicaid. Red states are more stringent and hardcore about Medicare than blue states. That’s not a political statement just an observation of fact, one acknowledged by my mom’s own healthcare attorneys. So it’s not really possible or fair to generalize across states.

            Just keep in mind that if one lives in a state with a strong healthcare social safety net, or really any kind of healthcare safety net at all, that experience does not indicate what is available to people in other states.

            It seems to me like the company is treating this woman’s continued employment as a polite fiction. They know she can’t really work, they have to know the odds of her coming back are slim. They are allowing her to hang onto her insurance and status, that’s all. To permit her some dignity and to prevent medical and legal upheaval to her family. That’s all.

            Go along with the polite fiction, and when she gets fussy about going over her for answers, treat it like the complaints of a dying person. Because it is.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t know about “make”. I have seen people be told that they WILL be retiring or that the company WILL be assisting them in the transition to short term disability or whatever. But the unspoken part of it was, you can do this the easy way and let us help with paperwork or we can fire you outright because you’re not performing – and we’re really trying to help you.

        Yeah… while they can’t make you take FMLA, they can dismiss you for being unable to perform your job. Which, of course, is what FMLA protects you against.

    4. LCL*

      Her medical situation sounds not stable at all. It appears your company is putting off doing anything and expecting mother nature and father time to handle this. I’m sorry for her, and her family.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My husband’s company kept him as long as they could. It started with ignoring his lateness and his slow work. He used short term disability, then it became clear that was not enough. His boss had to let him go, but the boss did say, “When you are ready to come back, I will find SOMETHING, SOMEWHERE for you to do.” [The company did not have to rehire him.]
        The boss mostly knew hubby would not be back. But it made my husband happier than all get-out to hear the boss go “Papa Bear” on this point.

        In turn, I had a happier husband, which made my caregiver role easier.

        There are some roads you only go down once, you don’t get to redo the road. While it makes it hard on the cohorts left behind, there is the thought that they can figure they will get the same support if they ever need it. At some point companies do have to take people off the books, it just might take longer than we think it should. But my example is one of the many reasons why.

        1. Tom & Johnny*

          “There are some roads you only go down once, you don’t get to redo the road.”

          Wow. That is incredibly powerfully said.

          It sounds like you have been through the wringer, and that you lost your dear husband. I am so sorry.

          Much respect for your strength of character and strength of heart that shine through in a statement like that.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      There are ways to force people into retirement specifically, it’s essentially a “you can voluntarily leave [aka retire] or you can be terminated due to performance and attendance issues” set up. Or if they’re doing cutbacks, they can choose to to lay her off, that’s what they did to my father years ago, shocking, all the older crew got moved to the shift that was going to get cut first.

      This is really icky sticky waters and they need to use an attorney if they go that route.

      This sounds awful but does your health insurance plan come with a life insurance policy? It could be that she’s riding it out so that her loved ones can get that.

    6. Sonora*

      Oh man, this reminds me of my first supervising job at around age 25. I managed three people, two of which were much older than I was. One of these ladies got diagnosed with cancer and was so ill during her treatments. Like, sitting at her desk vomiting in a trash can. She really was too sick to work, but got a lot of moral support from being there, and I could totally sympathize with her not wanting to just be home alone suffering. But – she was barely working and our department was very busy and needed help. So I talked to my manager about it, having NO IDEA how to handle, and feeling like a jerk for wanting to have her stay home and recover and get a temp. The manager just said, oh, poor Jan, just let her come in if that is what she wants to do. Things got steadily worse for her, which was terrible, but also, the other staff were getting incredibly frustrated and burnt out, understandably. I really had no idea what to do.
      Then…we got an HR person (previously no HR). I gave that lady exactly two weeks before I approached her and asked for help. She was horrified. For better or worse, she handled it – I wasn’t a part of the discussion at all, but Jan was put on a reduced schedule that she felt she could agree to, and used FMLA for the days she could not work. It was still really hard, but at least there was an attempt at predictability. Jan did end up leaving because she just could not commit to working at all, given the terrible side effects she endured. I always felt really bad about the situation, but was so grateful that HR saw what a bad position we were in and helped out.

      So – I would say, it’s really up to your boss’s boss and HR to step in and see if she is able to work on a reduced, predictable schedule, and also to understand that she is sick and should focus on her health! I think it’s just really hard for some people to accept the illness and so they try to proceed as normal, not to mention possible financial/insurance considerations.

      1. Former Employee*

        Unless someone works in a medical facility where they are expected as part of their job to be around various bodily fluids of others, it would be extremely unfair to require anyone to put up with this situation.

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

      Not a lawyer so take this with a grain of salt, but they probably can’t make her take FMLA or Disability, but they probably can “suspend” her rather than outright fire her if the employer is trying to be compassionate and allow her to remain employed and insured. Then she could have the choice to take that “suspension” as unpaid, not on Disability/FMLA, or unpaid on Disability/FMLA with the protections that those designations afford. I’m guessing the reason she’s probably not going on FMLA, other than maybe pride, is that she can’t afford to go unpaid and the Disability insurance payments won’t be enough.

    8. Tmarie*

      You don’t know this woman’s financial life, or insurance situation. Or what it is taking for her to hang onto life. I’ve worked with someone who fought stage 4 cancer for seven years before succumbing. I know if my company had “fired” her or “made” her go on disability they would have become scum in my eyes, and the eyes of dozens of others. She has 30 years of service, give some respect.

      1. Not Me*

        The company needs to respect the other employees too. That’s why you can have a conversation with the employee to say “We know you’re going through major health issues and we are very understanding about that. Your job duties aren’t being taken care of, so we’re going to reassign some of your duties to John until you’re ready to take them back.”

        A business can be compassionate and still be a business.

      2. rialto*

        Perfectly stated Tmarie! I think it is a shame that some people find her poor health “super distracting”

        1. Lissa*

          Doesn’t not being able to contact your boss, and the boss getting upset when you go to someone else, qualify as distracting regardless of the reason though? I mean, I don’t see that the reason behind it makes it suddenly not an issue, and since they sadly can’t fix her health, what are they supposed to do?

      3. Temperance*


        There was nothing disrespectful about this post. OP is in a hard position here. It’s impacting the team, and that can’t be ignored.

        1. Tmarie*

          As were me and my former, now deceased boss, when the company sent her a letter saying they were going to terminate her after FMLA ended, and then she could re-apply for her job when she was better. My personal lived experience is what I was salty about.

          1. Ltrim Press Club*

            I’m so sorry for your loss and I’m sorry for how they treated your boss.

            In times like these, we need compassion the most.

    9. Ella P.*

      For what it’s worth, I really feel for you. My manager’s husband was diagnosed with cancer quickly and in the process of his treatments she made every attempt to work and made the whole situation in the office a challenge. She was very afraid of losing her job and so the people that were covering she was grateful to and then difficult with… territorial and defensive… she would give us a schedule and change it… even when told it was OK to take time off, she would decide to work and then not be up to speed on the day to day details and cause issues… and in our case, short of the day we heard, her boss and her boss’ boss, both high level execs, did nothing to support day to day operations. Of course were all supportive of her and her family’s situation but… the business end was so challenging and unpredictable… every day was different (she would cover this trip, now she can’t, now she can) and the confusion made it worse. It would have been good for someone higher up to have helped steer and not left it on the shoulders of her direct reports.

      I was disappointed in her managers. I would try to reach out to her boss and have a conversation around how can you support her at this time and support the team. I don’t think you can make anyone do or take anything… but maybe some more support for you and her other direct reports would be helpful. Such a difficult situation, wish you all the best with it.

    10. Anonymouse*

      They can’t make her take FMLA but they could fire her. She’s 69 years old and therefore eligible for Medicare which will cover almost all of her medical expenses if she gets Part A and Part B. If she’s in Europe, she’s most likely covered by some form of socialized medicine. So I really doubt that the expense of the medical treatment is the real reason for her not retiring. My speculation is that the job provides distraction and something to hang on to while providing a modicum of control over a certain aspect of her life. Does that solve your problem? Of course not. However, it’s not your problem to solve. Keep presenting the impact of not having a functioning supervisor and let her boss come up with a solution.

    11. AnonBirder*

      I don’t think they can force her to take FMLA or retire, but they can require that she take leave (or fire her) if she’s not able to do her job. I can understand that she doesn’t want to quit due to insurance (even with Medicaid availability, her work insurance may provide much better benefits), or the motivation of work helping her psychologically.

      If the company can afford it, and the illness is time limited (ie, she’s either going to get better or die), the compassionate thing to do could be to redistribute her job duties so that the work is getting done and her direct reports are actually being supervised, but allow her to do some remote work as she is able. If she’s upset about that, there’s not really anything the employer can do about it, because it’s not reasonable for her to not be able to the work *and* demand that no-one else be allowed to do it.

      It’s more difficult if the illness is not time limited, and the situation will continue indefinitely, because it’s not reasonable for an employer to pay a full salary to a non-working employee for years on end.

      In all cases, though, it’s not a problem you can solve. About all you can do is go to your boss’s boss for direction and information as needed, and let them know the problems you are having, or, if it gets frustrating enough, start looking for a new job.

    12. Not A Manager*

      “We received an email on Tuesday from her stating that’s she so dehydrated and exhausted that she is in a wheelchair and has a nurse coming to the house to give her iv fluids a couple times per week, she’s too weak to continue chemo, has C-Diff from being the hospital, is in overwhelming pain and on pain killers, and her “entire life is committed” to seeing her granddaughter graduate from high school on Monday “live.” In spite of this, she’s attempting to work.”

      I’m sorry for your situation, but please take a step back. This lady is not going to last long. She has some compelling reason to need to keep working. Maybe it’s financial or insurance related, or maybe it’s some kind of psychological need. Whatever, your company has decided to allow her to keep “working.” They’ve given you a resource in that you can go to your grandboss when you need to.

      I think your company is being very compassionate. You don’t say that you can’t get your work done, your complaint is that this situation is “distracting.” I think you should suck it up and be distracted. If by some miracle the situation really lasts for a lot longer – such that work actually suffers – I’m sure your company will address it.

      In the meantime, you might want to think a little bit about your own discomfort with illness and death. Why is your response to the “distraction” of mortality, a wish that your company would do something so heartless as to force this woman to take unpaid leave?

    13. yikes*

      No one has commented on the C. Diff yet, so I’m going to address that for a minute. Is she coming into work at all with C. Diff, or is she working 100% from home? C. Diff is very, very, very contagious from person to person and it can be serious enough to cause permanent harm to your health – imagine getting e.Coli. (When I got C. Diff, I was shitting blood for 3 weeks straight and I ended up with permanent damage to my digestive system.) If I knew someone was using an office bathroom while contagious with C. Diff, I would consider that a public health hazard for the entire office.

      1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

        That Cdiff issue jumped out at me also. It’s very sad, the situation as a whole and every facet, but I’m sorry – if this poor woman can’t do what closely resembles her job and is this incredibly ill, the company needs to step in. For the woman and the other employees. Everyone.

        Horrible situation but these awful things happen and it sounds like the company should be better suited to do what it should.

  9. Sunday Morning Fever*

    Our new(ish) staffer.

    Yesterday, he told me that a colleague was nervous about a project he (my staffer) was leading. So I gave him some advice. His response: “I agree with that.”

    Then I followed up with another suggestion. His response. “I was thinking of suggesting the same thing.”

    Today, I told him that if someone was going to participate in a project, then we would need to include their information on the presentation as well. His response. “Good call…”

    He’s not a bad guy, but these responses don’t demonstrate any sort of ownership of his projects and I definitely don’t need him to validate my input. I’m having a hard time reconciling these responses and on the superficial side of things, it just really irks me (it does feel a bit mansplain-y to me, I’m his boss and a girl)

    1. CameronT*

      He sounds kind of green (in this role). Hopefully once he gains more confidence through experience, he’ll be able to take more ownership and have better back-and-forths rather than just agreeing with his boss immediately.

      1. Blue*

        Yeah, it reads as pretty insecure to me. Like he lacks confidence but also doesn’t want you to think that he’s completely clueless? I’d probably try asking him questions instead of just giving answers/suggestions in order to get a better feel for his thought process. I think that would show you if he’s clueless, trying to pander, or actually on the right track but looking for confirmation.

        1. Sunday Morning Fever*

          Totally fair point. There are definitely things he’s clueless or lacks confidence about. He would never admit that outright though. I think that’s part of the issue and although, he’s really not overly cocky, I think his responses are meant to hide what he doesn’t know and instead are just rubbing me the wrong way and ignoring the issue (which is kind of — it’s ok to not know everything / ask for help) and that could be a problem down the road.

          1. BethDH*

            This doesn’t read as mansplain-y to me, though I could be wrong if there are other aspects of tone/behavior that you didn’t include explicitly. TBH, it sounds like something I would have done when I was a little younger and thought that not knowing something that was “part of my job” would get me in trouble. Answers 1 & 3 also could just be a slightly unusual way of basically saying “I’ll do that” rather than validating your input. I especially hear “good call” from people I know as a shorthand for “thanks, I would have overlooked that.” They can have the ability to recognize or understand the right answer without having had the ability or confidence to discover it themselves.

          2. Susie Q*

            Do you work in an environment where it is quite obvious that it is okay to not know things? Has this been stated? Because in my past, I’ve worked jobs where you were berated for not knowing things and asking questions which caused me to be very cautious about showing a lack of knowledge. It’s been a hard habit to break in my current role despite now working at a company where asking questions is highly encouraged.

    2. Spreadsheets and Books*

      This seems like a non-issue. It sounds like he’s agreeing with you and deferring to your judgement, and I don’t see any kind of mainsplaining because he’s not explaining anything to you, unless you’re omitting instances of this occurring.

      I don’t know, these all sound like thing I’d say to my supervisor if I agreed with them. Taking ownership as a newish employee isn’t always easy and accepting feedback or suggestions from others, especially management, is a part of learning.

      1. 1234*

        +1 for this. I do this from time to time whenever my boss makes helpful suggestions.

        I viewed this as him asking “Am I on the right track? Should Bob be the one to help with Presentation Y?” rather than him validating that you are suggesting the correct thing.

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I didn’t see anything mansplainy in here either. He sounds like someone who really doesn’t know what he’s doing so is deferring to his boss’s judgment calls. It’s annoying, but if OP stops offering him up suggestions, maybe he’ll be forced to come up with his own ideas.

      3. Rachel*

        I agree — these are all things I say to my manager and coworkers fairly regularly, and all I mean by them is exactly what I’m saying: I do agree, or I do think it’s a good call, or I really was thinking of suggesting the same thing.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        I moved on. I suppose I could have doubled down and told him that he should use such input for future projects, but I don’t want to dictate this guy’s every move and I also don’t believe that kind of planning can be taught. He’s in his late 30s and even though he’s kind of new to the industry, he does have similar experience. I’m sort of at the point where I think I need to identify what his strengths are and focus on that.

        1. BethDH*

          Knowing he’s that old actually changes my opinion on this a little. When I first read it I pictured someone very young. It does still seem there are two separate issues — what he’s actually doing, and how he’s talking about it. It seems like you’re kind of conflating them into the same problem because they occur in the same conversation, but I think the phrasing might not be so annoying if you knew he was just not very verbal about his thought process but was actually taking in the advice and thinking about it beyond the current situation.

          1. Sunday Morning Fever*

            I think they the issues are somewhat related. I think he doesn’t like to admit when he doesn’t know something (based on other situations I’ve had with him) and the responses I get to suggestions/input further emphasize that he’s not willing to acknowledge that he doesn’t know something.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              That is its own issue, and may be the only real issue involved. The rest is a quirk of speech style, and maybe a slightly annoying one, but probably nothing worse than that. I can see why it’s irritating and feels somewhat mansplainy — it comes across as if he feels he has the right to pass judgment on you and your work, even though you outrank him and actually have the right to pass judgment on his. And in fact, at the moment, you *are* passing judgment on his work… you’re advising him about what he should be doing. So I do get why it’s frustrating.

              At the same time, I think that’s a pretty minor issue and the biggie is that he will not admit when he doesn’t know something. That is a huge problem in most workplaces, where a team has to be able to trust each other to speak up when there’s something they don’t know, without shame or reticence. You may need to speak with him very directly about that, and let him know it is a necessary performance requirement for his position.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I mean…what are you looking for here? Would you prefer he just grunt out a, “yes” or a nod and be done with it? How long has the new hire been in the workforce for? Maybe he’s trying to change up his answers instead of just saying, “ok” all the time?

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        I was hoping he would not only agree, but demonstrate how he would use such input for the future. So, if I suggested he use a pen for signing documents instead of pencil, he would not only say I agree with that… but also that he will use pens in the future.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          So, some people are less verbal than others. Either ask him outright, ‘do you expect to do that in the future’ or just watch how he handles these things next time around. If he uses the advice the next time there’s a contributor who needs to be in the presentation, for example, then let go of the need for him to be verbal about it.

        2. LKW*

          Sounds like you want him to make a leap that you haven’t explicitly asked from him. If you say “Here’s what I have done…” and he says he agrees you can then ask him “How would you frame it for this project? Do you think this would be something you can use for other projects or just this one?”

          Sure, he may be thinking it, but maybe you haven’t presented yourself as someone who wants to hear his thinking process (or maybe he doesn’t like to walk through his thinking process the way you do).

        3. drogon breath*

          That seems really unnecessary, unless there’s evidence of him repeatedly making the same mistakes.

          1. LJay*

            Yeah, if a boss expected me to repeat back to them what they had just said to me in an affirmative statement, it would feel really micromanagey/controlly/condescending to me.

            As it is, for me “Good call” means, “Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a good idea and since you suggested it, that’s what I’m going to do.”

            “I was thinking of suggesting the same thing,” means “That is a good idea and I’m going to do it, and I also want you to know that I had thought of this so you don’t think that I’m completely inept at my job”.

            “I agree,” means, “I agree and I’m going to do that thing.”

            I don’t feel like I need to state these things explicitly because it seems like common sense to me that if I’m agreeing with something I’m going to do it.

            With the caveat that, for me, if I agree but am not going to do the thing I will verbalize that.

            “Good call on making the teapots with green polka-dots, and I wish I had come to you sooner. As it is, we’ve already brought all the supplies for making them solid red, so at this point I think I’m going to go ahead with that plan because buying the green dot supplies on top of the red supplies will blow the budget and the green are unrefundable.”

            “I agree that would be the best way, but I’ve got 3 employees on vacation that week and just don’t have the manpower so I’m going to do this instead.” Etc.

            I would be annoyed if the employee said, “Good call” to “I would use pens to sign the documents,” but continued using pencils without explaining why he was going to continue to use pencils.

        4. Camellia*

          Did he follow through on what you said? I think that’s the first question to answer. If he did, then maybe not mansplainy, just insecure. If he didn’t, then you can address that, and I more believe the mansplainy part.

        5. NW Mossy*

          It sounds like you’re looking for a more engaged, action-oriented response to feedback than he would naturally give. Which, cool, me too, but I don’t think you can assume that a small external reaction means that his internal reaction is small as well.

          I’ve managed a lot of people over the years that just don’t give you a big response on much of anything – their default state is cool-headed and chill even when the world is falling apart around them (think the “This is fine” dog). Initially it can absolutely read as not giving any f’s, which is why it becomes important to pay attention to what they do and say later. If you see clear evidence that they’re incorporating the feedback and making change, mission accomplished! If not, then you can step up the conversation into “hey, you’re not taking the feedback, what’s going on?” space.

          Also, know too that not everyone’s a good on-the-spot planner who hears an idea and can quickly make the leap to “and I’ll apply that here, here, and here.” Think about whether it’s critical that the person make those connections immediately in conversation with you, or if it would also be OK to make those connections a bit later after some processing time.

        6. Eukomos*

          If you want a response like that, you need to tell him so. He’s agreeing with you and he knows in his head that he’s genuinely engaged with your advice; if you need more external signaling that he properly internalized what you said then you need to give him some kind of clue that you want that. The poor guy’s agreeing with his manager’s directives and planning to obey them, it’s understandable that he’d think that’s sufficient.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      I agree this is mansplain-y. I had a similar situation and shut down the “I agree” and “good call” comments with a dry, deadpan “I’m so pleased” or something similar to make clear that I didn’t need his approval, then quickly moved on to asking how he would implement what we discussed.

    5. Susan K*

      Yeah, I think I get why you’re annoyed — he’s acting like he already knew what you told him and that you’re asking for his agreement rather than telling him, as his manager, what to do. This reminds me of some junior employees I have trained, who responded to my correcting them on things they were doing incorrectly, with a brief pause (as though they were considering what I said) followed by, “Ok, feedback accepted.” Because they were doing me a favor by accepting my feedback even though it was my job to teach them the correct way to do this work.

        1. Susan K*

          Most people say something like:
          “Oh, ok, I didn’t know that.”
          “Ok, I’ll do it that way from now on.”
          “Oh, yeah, I’ll do that. Thanks!”

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        YES, this is exactly it. I think he doesn’t like to admit when he doesn’t know something or something has gone wrong. He copies and pastes emails he receives into a separate email to me instead of forwarding the email, which I find very odd and something I’m definitely going to have to bring to his attention — again.

    6. Zephy*

      Maybe you both really are just on the same wavelength about this project – that’s not a bad thing. I’d be wary of poking this particular bear, though; do you really want him to argue with you?

    7. Shirley Keeldar*

      The issue isn’t that he’s agreeing with his boss; he should be doing that. The issue is that he’s positioning himself as the superior and her as the subordinate in these interactions. She doesn’t need his agreement (“I agree with that”) or his approval (“good call!”–oooh, that’s really patronizing.) And the thought will pop up in the minds of most female bosses–does this guy do this to men? Would he say, “Good call!” to a male boss?

      Maybe he would–he sounds insecure and as if he needs to proclaim that he doesn’t actually need directions or feedback because he’s thought of it all himself already. But it’s hard to know.

      Tricky to address, though, since it’s so subtle! And Boss doesn’t want to look like she’s micromanaging every word that comes out of his mouth. But, yeah, I’d be annoyed too.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        Honestly, I think he probably would say it to a male boss. The situation is gendered because we’re different genders. But, looking at it in writing, I think this is more of an insecurity thing where he doesn’t want to admit he doesn’t know something or has done something wrong. The thing is that while I totally appreciate insecurity and would support gaining confidence, since he refuses to acknowledge his own, I’m not able to help him with the areas he could use support.

        1. Shirley Keeldar*

          That makes sense. I wonder what would happen if you tried addressing the insecurity directly? Sort of, “Hey, it’s totally normal to get this kind of feedback–I give it to everybody.” Either he’d a) feel reassured and maybe relax a bit with the constant need to prove that he’s already thought of everything, or b) he’d notice that he’s coming across as as insecure and anxious instead of Totally In Control, Thank You! and make a change.

          (Probably not…but good luck!)

        2. matcha123*

          I’m late to this and it may never be read, but I’m in a similar situation. I’m a woman, and I have an older colleague who checks over my work. She rarely ever asks for my input and when she does, I just agree with her. She’s made it clear that she dislikes people younger than she is (or, I’ve picked up that vibe from her based on comments she’s made), she also seems to want some certain kind of response that I’m not interested in giving her. And moreover, she seems to think I’m incompetent or “young” because I don’t give her the responses she desires. I’m mid-30s btw.

          So, I’d take a look at how you are engaging with him. From my side, I have someone who is constantly trying to get me to admit that I don’t know something and that I need their help. Rather than giving me any necessary background on projects, she’ll pull information out at the last moment or make snide comments.

          Not saying that you are doing that.
          Also, you know, if you are telling him this stuff in front of people, maybe take it to a private room or create an environment where he feels comfortable giving feedback. I was raised not to talk back to people in authority. I have been in offices where your job is to always say ‘yes’ or be fired. Maybe stop assuming and just tell him straight up what you want him to do, and how you want him to do it. If something seems obvious to you, you can say that you are going over it to make sure you are both on the same page.

      2. Spreadsheets and Books*

        “Good call” is patronizing?? I’ll regularly say things like “oh, good call” to my boss if she points out something I would have missed or should keep in mind because it *is* a good call out of something I should keep in mind.

        I really, really read this post differently. I don’t see any inclination from the OP that he is acting as her superior in any way. Most people are calling out that, if anything, he’s actually being too passive.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, same here. But I’m a woman and so is my boss, so maybe it’s a different situation. I’ve never considered, “Good call” to be patronizing.

        2. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          I’ve never, ever heard “good call” used in any other way than how Spreadsheets and Books says they use it. It’s always a light bulb moment when someone has said it. As in, this did not occur to them and you’ve just opened their eyes to something they totally would have missed.

          Maybe this is a phrase that is more popular than some groups than others?

      3. Commenter*

        Huh, this perspective is interesting to hear!

        I’m a female-presenting person who’s made a recent career switch into the tech industry, and have had all male managers so far, and this is typical language I’ve used to respond to their feedback.

        If they’re mentioning something I did wrong I might respond with something like “Ah I didn’t realize that, thank you!” or “Got it, that makes sense!”

        If it’s more of a suggestion of something more/additional I could do to make something okay even better, I’ve definitely said “Good call!” or “I like that idea, thank you!”

        To me, I’m intending these to mean that I’m acknowledging/understanding their feedback (if I don’t quite understand I’ll ask for clarification first) and that I’m agreeing/accepting this feedback and planning to run with it. Basically the opposite of insubordination? :)

        Is this wording perhaps coming across in a way I’m not intending? Or is this a different situation when the genders are reversed?

        1. hbc*

          You seem to have a mix of statements that include acknowledging that something wasn’t already your idea. It sounds like this guy would never say, “I like that idea” or “I didn’t realize that” or anything that admitted this information is news to him.

    8. First Time Caller*

      Yup, that sounds really annoying. I know one person who would say “That’s correct,” when YOU were the one explaining something you knew more about!

    9. IL JimP*

      as long as he doesn’t take credit for your ideas as his own I would probably take it at face value but as his manager I would probably do some coaching on adding value in conversations because if he really was going to suggest the same thing why didn’t he?

      I recognize though as a guy I likely have a blind-spot so if I’m off base please let me know

      1. LKW*

        Woman saying you’re totally on the mark. This is a coaching opportunity for Sunday Morning.

      2. Peachkins*

        I don’t think you’re off base. I genuinely was not sure what the issue was with the staffer’s responses when I first read the post. I agree that OP needs to tell him what she’s looking for in their conversations, because based on many of the responses on this thread, he’s not the only one clueless that there’s a problem.

        1. IL JimP*

          I can see that for sure, I think she recognizes there’s a problem but can’t quite put her finger on what the actual problem is in this situation. That’s not totally uncommon for any manager after experiencing it enough you get better but definitely not perfect at the diagnosis :)

    10. What's with Today, today?*

      I’m not seeing an issue here. It sounds like y’all are just on the same page.

    11. LGC*

      Okay, so – I initially read this as not really being an issue because he asked for advice and…you gave him good advice. I get that you want to see him take more ownership, but it might just be that he was unsure of something and wanted to confirm it with you before proceeding. Within reason, that’s good!

      But now that I’ve read the other comments, I do have to wonder about a couple of things. Has he done other things that make him seem insubordinate? (Because I think that’s another concern you might have.) Barring that, I personally think that it might just be a mismatch in communication styles. You might have to make it explicit what you need out of him. (I also wonder, if you have any other reports, how they communicate with you in those situations.)

      And sometimes, you might just have to take the win. I have trouble with this myself – I’ll propose something, and then I’ll get a “thank you” or “looks good” in response, and I’m like…”that’s it?! No feedback?” (I can be almost the opposite, and sometimes I have to hold back from saying, “well, I’d have done this, that, and the other” because that would be mansplaining on my end.)

    12. HappySnoopy*

      In future, maybe turn it around on him. Go, well let’s talk through it. What’s your instincts on it? What is your unitial game plan? Intead of feeding him the answer which seems obvious to him in retrospect, spur his thought process so you can steer him to yeah youre on the correct path, or did you think about impact to x y to redirect him.

      That way you’re in the confirming seat, and hopefully helping his confidence level that he’ll stop running to you for the answer.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      If this is just one instance, then I think I would let it go.
      But if he had these responses to everything, then I’d have a chat.

      “It sounds like you think I am looking for people’s validation here. I’m not. I am simply telling you what the next steps are. Typically, saying things such as ‘good call’ or ‘I was thinking of suggesting the same thing’ indicate that that the speaker is talking to a peer. I am not your peer. It’s fine to say, ‘Oh, good, I am glad to know I am looking at this right.’ Or, ‘I really like your advice/instruction here, and I will definitely do this.’ If you want, you can add that he can mention specific concerns if he has any.

      See, you don’t want to cut anyone off from expressing relief/happiness that you are doing a good job/being fair/etc. So redirect the comment to what they can say.

      It took me a bit, but I worked things around to where I could say, “No. I am wearing my boss hat here and here is how I want us to handle this situation.” I could say it in my usual speaking voice and no one keeled over on me. From my end of the story, it helped me to be comfortable in my status as a boss. The more comfortable I was and I knew I would handle whatever came at me, helped me to speak up more in situations like this.

      You can use this, too: “No, that was not a suggestion, it’s what I am asking you to do going forward.”

      I also realized that there was something in the way that I was speaking that lead people to believe I was making suggestions and not giving instructions. I would preface statements sometimes with, “We need to……”. It kind of gave people a heads up that I was talking as a boss.

      1. Eukomos*

        That would really rub me the wrong way if my boss said something like that to me. This is possibly because she’s a micromanager more generally, but if her level of demanded control extended all the way to the exact words I’m permitted to use to agree with her this job would get even more soul crushing. This is a person who stands behind me and directs which emails I can open on some days so maybe I’m oversensetized, but even at work people deserve a little autonomy.

    14. Sunday Morning Fever*

      Thanks y’all. As I’ve read through the comments the one thing that I should have mentioned and didn’t is that I do have some issues with my staffer beyond how he responds to me. He does seem to require explicit instructions and yet other times will do things without counsel at all. This has led to a number of confusing situations where i’ve had to both ask numerous questions to figure out what has happened (which he’ll answer) or ask him to share details with me, which he’ll share without context or in sections. (I’ve asked him to send me an email and he has literally copied and pasted the most recent response and sent it to me under separate cover.) There are times when he’s told me he’s said something or said he knows something, but clearly didn’t. None of these instances were significant in and of themselves and usually they were quite insignificant, which has made it difficult to pull them aside and formulate an entire conversation around them.

      I don’t think it’s a malignant attempt at deceiving. I think he’s afraid of people thinking he doesn’t know something and I also think he’s not very strategic (or tactful). Both of those things together are certainly worrisome and they make me super aware of how he responds to things. When he agrees with me or tells me something is a good call after I give him my input/recommendation – it basically reinforces something that I’m already uncomfortable with — that he’s not willing to acknowledge he doesn’t know something. This lack of acknowledgement means that I’m not sure what he really does know or what he needs help with and in the end that impedes my ability to trust his decision and actions.

      Sorry, my little vent turned into a psychological study. Perhaps I’m being oversensitive, being a manager is not something I enjoy or that I think I’m particularly good at. (Though I do try my darndest to encourage, praise, and support my staff — new guy included).

      Anyway, thanks for the insight. I’m not quite sure where I’ll take it from here, but you’ve all given me lots to consider.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think you have a good handle on the overarching problem.

        Employees do need to sometimes be told how much range they have, what they can and cannot decide on their own.
        At the same time he also has a problem understanding your questions. I think it is good to lay out rules of thumb. “Bob, when I ask you for an email, I mean for you to send me the whole email, not just the most recent reply.”

        I had to do a lot of this stuff because we always had new people. They get nervous and obvious stuff gets by them.

        I think break this into a two part approach. One, teach him how much lead he has to make decisions on his own and when he should come to you. Second, give him rules of thumb that he can use over and over again. As you are thinking about decision making and thinking about rules of thumb you can form a structure that the rest of your group follows also.

        I want to encourage you about that thinking you’re not a good manager. In saying that, this gives you a leg up on many managers who think they are great and aren’t. Being willing to discuss a problem and learn is absolutely huge, it’s something a manager has to do. Bad or poor managers refuse to do this. And you are doing it. So that already makes you a better manager than many out there. Eh, it’s not in your genes from birth, so you just decide to learn as you go along.

        Keep reading AAM. You might benefit from learning more about your boundaries as a boss. I had to figure out what were my hills to die on. My people could not be late, that came from TPTB. So I simply relayed “No tardiness!” Other things I had some discretion on. I allowed them to alter their work flows but they had to ask me first. (This made my bosses break out in hives and itch all over. When productivity doubled, the bosses left me alone. The employees knew what they were doing and I could see that.)

        You don’t carve out a your path as a boss in one day or even one year. It takes time. Go one situation at a time and figure out how you want to handle it. Yeah, this is a slow way of doing things and stuff might get by ya. But it won’t get by ya the second time it happens, you will pick up on it and act.

      2. AliV*

        Have you made it clear to him that it’s okay to say “I don’t know”? Have you demonstrated to him (by, say, the way you’ve reacted to other colleagues in a meeting) that you’d welcome that acknowledgment of a gap in understanding?

        Cause if he’s going to be punished for not knowing something I don’t blame him for not wanting to speak up!

        1. Sunday Morning Fever*

          If he feels he’ll be punished for not knowing something, it’s not from me. I have no problem admitting it myself and have said “I don’t know” or some variation to him before. I told him when he started that the organization is a big place and that there’s a lot to learn and he can totally use the fact that he’s new to stall or get more information. So, no… I don’t think that’s the problem.

          1. AliV*

            Hmm. That doesn’t sound like a clear communication of “I’d much rather you say that you don’t know than try to cover.”

          2. Rose by another name*

            As a junior employee in a similar situation, I find express permission to say “I don’t know” very helpful; thanks for doing that. (I try to follow it up by saying where I’ll look to find out, but that’s a work in progress.)

            As to the responses like “good call,” it’s hard to avoid sounding like a peer when discussing any assignment that involves nailing down details I have responsibility for, or that are fresher in my mind. I try to say “thanks, I’ll do that!” or “I see your reasoning,” or something else that indicates I’m on board and have a positive attitude, and am not just passively accepting corrections without thinking about the underlying reasoning/future applications. But if the listener isn’t being charitable, there’s minimal space between being passive and not taking ownership of work, and being challenging or overconfident.

            You sound like you’re assuming the best, and mention other issues upthread that color perception. But I figured sharing the perspective of someone on the other end of these interactions who tries to be very conscious of those issues (but doesn’t always succeed) could help.

      3. LGC*

        …I don’t think you’re being overly sensitive, with this new information!

        But seriously though, I think it is worth addressing his communication style with him. It sounds like it’s already causing issues with his work, and it also sounds like your real concern is about his competence. (The agreement thing sounds like it’s an annoying proxy for that.)

        For what it’s worth, I think a lot of people – and yeah, dudes especially – are insecure about not knowing things, and that’s just inherent. It sounds like you’re doing well with him, but what might be the solution is…him becoming competent.

      4. Budgie Buddy*

        “He does seem to require explicit instructions and yet other times will do things without counsel at all.”

        Is it possible that from his perspective he’s been told to take more initiative but also found he messes up when he tries to do so? It seems like he is not able to discern when to take initiative and when to ask for guidance first, leading to confusion all around.

        He may also be confused on when you want an email thread versus a specific email. I might also forward one email out of a long chain if I thought my boss just wanted the first one rather than the whole exchange.

        This is not to excuse his performance issues, just to possibly help pinpoint where things might be going off the rails.

    15. Lena Clare*

      That’s not mansplainy to me, but youre in the situation and you feel how you feel. In fact I’d say it feels like the opposite of mansplaining. He’s not “We’ll actually-ing” you to correct your area of expertise when he knows nothing about it, he’s deferring to you as his boss by the sounds of it. That speaks to me of insecurity.
      Just a point of interest – why not call yourself a woman instead of a girl?

      1. Lena Clare*

        Huh I’ve just read the other comments you made – seems more complex than I initially assumed!

      2. Sunday Morning Fever*

        Perhaps there’s a psychological equivalent to me using the word girl instead of woman. Or it was a simple attempt to lighten my mood. Or I was channeling Gwen Stefani and being a girl in the world. But, to be quite frank, it’s just a word I used and use. It’s not a point of interest for me.

    16. Argye*

      This took me a while to answer, because the question irritated me in ways that I can’t really explain. I think that’s because I’ve had the experience of having a manager who wanted me to take risks and ownership of projects while always doing things the way she would and remaining appropriately subservient. For the record, she was hired into a new position above me, when I had previously reported directly to the CEO, and had massive latitude. (I’m describing the former manager, not the OP. OP, this may or may not describe you to any extent, but take from it whatever may apply.)
      Manager: You should ask questions if you don’t know something.
      Me: Asks question to humor her.
      Manager: *heavy sigh* You should know this by now.

      Manager: Let me see project description before you send it out, and I’ll edit. Use whatever edits you like and ignore the rest.
      Me: Uses some edits, not all.
      Manager: I don’t know why I bother editing if you’re not going to use my suggestions! Let me see the next project!
      Me: Uses all edits, completely changing voice and project description.
      Manager: You need to take ownership and initiative! I can’t continue to do everything for you!
      Me: Submits new project without sending to Manager again.
      CEO: I’m hearing that you’re being insubordinate.

      It took about 3 years to realize that I could do absolutely nothing right in her eyes. I was either too weak or too strong. Too subordinate or too insubordinate. There was *no* sweet spot. And she had no problem demonstrating her complete contempt for me in front of other faculty and even students. She didn’t treat the other faculty (all male – I am female) the same way. He expectations for me were infinite – for them, they were perfectly reasonable. The other faculty also picked up on this and started treating me like pond scum, too. (Including one horrific meeting where one of the other faculty interrupted me every time I opened my mouth, so that I couldn’t make a comment. This went on for 5 minutes. Manager giggled. I wish I had stormed out, but I didn’t.)
      After about 3 years of this, I just plain gave up and pretty much stopped doing anything. It was pure learned helplessness – when everything you can do leads to pain, why do anything?
      I was laid off – it was a relief.
      OP – I’m not saying you’re anywhere close to as horrible as my former manager. But, I would strongly suggest you have a mental image of what you and your report working together well would look like. What would be a good conversation? What is the right amount of questions for him to ask? Is there expertise that he has that you can rely on? Clearly, he knows *something*. It would have meant a ton for me for my former manager to acknowledge that I was an expert in a field that was adjacent to hers, and really wasn’t the complete idiot she treated me as. As it was, she didn’t say a single positive thing to me for the entire 5 years I worked for her.
      NOTE: Former manager and I are both female. The male faculty were treated noticeably better by her, to the extent that people in other departments remarked on it. However, she was determined to “mentor” me, whether I liked it or needed it or not.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        I’m not sure the situations are similar. I’m sorry you had a passive-aggressive, insecure, bully as a manager. And I’m open to admitting my own flaws. I have my days of insecurity and being stubborn. But, when he works on a project and I have edits or suggestions, he takes them into account. I don’t always agree with his choices, but when I don’t I engage him with follow-up questions. I have l literally never told him he “should” know something or berated him for not knowing something, which is why I have a hard time figuring out why he’s so averse to admitting he doesn’t know something. If I’ve made a mistake in my recommendations to him, I tell him. When I need him to do something, I ask him to do it or ask him if he’s done it. When he does something well, I tell him great job or tell him why it’s great. I don’t doubt he knows *something*.

        My initial post was not about what he doesn’t know, it was about his inability to state that he doesn’t know, which isn’t to say that I think he knows nothing. It’s to say, if he’s asking for my advice and he tells me he
        agrees or that he was thinking the same thing, then he’s taking ownership of the advice I’m giving him. Now, that might mean that when he asks for my advice, I need to ask him what he wants to do or what he thinks we should do before suggesting something. Which is something I’ll have to do from now on to stop being frustrated. But to be quite frank, I don’t feel the need to be his mentor and I don’t need him to proclaim me the smartest person ever. Heck, he can even disagree with me and I’m open to having a discussion about the best way to move forward. But, I’m sorry — I’m really not seeing the parallels.

        1. Argye*

          Sorry, I got carried away with recounting horrors and my point got lost.
          My main point – picture how you want this relationship to look. What are you wanting from him in interactions? What do you want to provide? What does both sides “winning” look like to you?
          Once you have that clear for yourself – and maybe you already do – it may be easier to clarify to him what your expectations are, i.e., “I need you to be clearer with me about where you need further info.” or “Have you gone over the requirements for the project, and have everything you need?”
          Something about expectations isn’t being communicated well, either because you’re not explaining well, or that he’s not hearing what you’re trying to explain, and you need to try a slightly different method.

    17. Novocastriart*

      Poor guy. His new (ish) boss is giving him advice (apparently not earth shattering stuff, because he’s already considered those things) and he is doing his best to acknowledge the contribution (because he asked for advice, and you gave it). He’s being polite. Don’t borrow trouble, and look for offence where there isn’t any.

      1. Sunday Morning Fever*

        I’m not offended, I’m irritated. I’m glad he’s agreeing with me, but I’d rather him offer up these solutions (or others) when asking for my advice rather than tell me he thought of them after I say them.

        1. matcha123*

          I don’t know about him, but when I’m given a “suggestion” and I say “I thought of that,” I actually did think of that. The reason I didn’t use it was because I figured “you” would discount it.

    18. Sister of the Idea Gal*

      I have a family member business partner who, no matter what I (or others) start working on, makes comments similar to: “I already thought about that. It was my idea. Don’t you remember me telling you that a year ago?” My opinion is ideas are “a dime a dozen”. Virtually everyone has many ideas that go nowhere. What matters to me is what people do with an idea — do they actually make it happen? It gets kind of exhausting always having to validate her for “her” ideas, which I almost never recall her having actually said.

      1. Sister of the Idea Gal*

        OP, in the case of your employee, I suspect his way of communicating isn’t about you. It sounds like you’ve done everything to make it safe for him to admit if he doesn’t know something, but he still won’t do so. My guess is that he has worked in another situation where it wasn’t okay to admit he didn’t know something. Or (who knows?) it might even go back to childhood and having to communicate this way to avoid getting in trouble.

    19. Susie Q*

      I’m think you’re overreaching on the mansplaining.

      His response just seem like generic responses of someone who doesn’t want to come off looking stupid or he didn’t know something. There is a good chance at a previous job his boss required him to constantly agree with the boss and he’d be punished for not knowing something. A lot of us have baggage from previous terrible workplaces and bosses. He sounds like he is new to the job, not highly confident in his knowledge, and is worried about appearing incompetent.

  10. AnonMarketer*

    I applied for a position, and did two rounds of interviews. I was told I was a finalist for the position and I’d hear back at the beginning of the week. Since then it’s been radio silence. I’m heartbroken. What do I do now? Leave it and move on? Shoot them a message? Both? I just feel it’s really unfortunate, as a finalist, I can’t be kept up to date on my application status, but I don’t know what the appropriate protocol here is. :(

    1. merp*

      General advice around here is don’t panic, hiring takes longer than anyone expects sometimes. Give them a week or 10 days from when they said they would get back to you, contact them once, and do your best to write them off in your head. Easier said than done, but…

      Good luck, though, I hope you get good news!

    2. londonedit*

      I think it’s fine to send them a brief message saying that you really appreciated them taking the time to meet you, and you were wondering whether any further progress had been made with the hiring process. Maybe wait until Monday? Not sure about where you are, but the UK and US had a holiday this past Monday, and the schools are on a week-long break where I am, which means loads of people have been out of the office. Could be something like that delaying the process. Any reasonable company would reply – just don’t send them loads of messages badgering them for info! I think if they don’t respond to your email, you can probably assume you haven’t got the job (and that they’re fairly rude for not letting you know that), but it would be worth giving them one email nudge on Monday and seeing what they say.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      If they said they’d let you know by the beginning of this week, wait until the beginning of next week and just check in with them then.

    4. stefanielaine*

      They said the beginning of the week and it’s now first thing Friday morning – that’s only 2 or 3 extra days. Maybe someone’s out sick or maybe they forgot they needed one more person’s approval. Do not email them. Even as a finalist, it is not reasonable to expect daily updates. As AG says, if they want to hire you, they’re not going to forget to. Take a deep breath, or several, and keep yourself distracted until you hear back!

    5. ClosedWindow*

      Hi! I just want to sympathize because our situations are so close! I interviewed at a place recently that asked me to send them references last Monday. They said they’d contact me early this week after they spoke to my references. So, this week, I’ve been seesawing back and forth between eagerly checking my e-mail multiple times within an hour and avoiding/dreading opening my e-mail. I seriously need a job and have been job hunting for a year and a half, so rejections are starting to induce tears.

      I understand being heartbroken by radio silence since it seems like implied rejection. :( I know Monday was a holiday, and they’re busy, and maybe it’s taking a while to contact my references (if they’re really contacting them…no one has said anything about being contacted). But it’s so hard to just let it go when you have so much hope pinned on it.

    6. 1234*

      I would move on. You don’t have the job until you’ve accepted/signed an offer. It sounds cold, but I always assume I don’t have the job unless I’m told otherwise.

    7. Anona*

      I wouldn’t be heartbroken. Their decision process is taking longer than they thought. In almost every position I’ve hired for this has happened. I would just wait, and assume that you didn’t get the position, but hope that you did. I wouldn’t contact them. A week isn’t very long (though I know it feels like it is!). I’d wait at least another week, and then if you want to send a final message asking for an update, you can do that. But if they’re hiring you’ll, they’ll eventually let you know. It just takes a long time. They could be reference checking/waiting to get the team back together to make a decisions/finishing interviewing etc.

    8. ATX Language Learner*

      Please don’t be heartbroken! Hiring always takes way longer than anyone thinks. Here’s an example: we recently hired a woman that started on April 8thish. We first interviewed her via phone on 1/25, then in person on 2/7. My boss and I loved her but his boss was unsure and said she seemed green. As this was the first person we interviewed for this position, grand boss wanted us to interview other people. We finally offered her the position around March 18th, nearly 8 weeks after her first interview.

      As a candidate, I always feel like people should stay true to their word (if they say they will follow up by x date, then they should) but being on the other side of hiring it’s just not that simple. People get busy, they go out of town on personal/work travel, they can’t sync up with the right people to discuss interviews. All of that combined with HR – it makes hiring twice or 3x as long as the interviewer says.

  11. BRR*

    I encountered the first ridiculous request in my job hunt. An employer wants to schedule a phone interview and asked me to respond to 18 questions in writing prior to the phone interview. They’re all on the longer side and range from how did you get into this field to tell me about a time when you had to be a visionary thinker and what are the key ingredients for successful business relationships (and give examples of how I’ve used them).

    Because I have a really good response rate to my applications, wasn’t crazy about this role to begin with, and the commute would be a nightmare, I’m planning on withdrawing my application and want to let them know how ridiculous it is to ask this. This would take probably a few hours, these should be in-person interview questions, and this is incredibly unusual for this type of position.

    I was planning on saying that while i’m interested, I am not able to invest such a large amount of time so early in a hiring process. Is that polite but gets the point across? I’m ok being a little more pointed and don’t really care if it burns a bridge with this employer. I really want this to be the hill I die on with them.

    1. Anon 9*

      You are in a great position that you don’t want this job and are ok burning a bridge if it comes to that. Your response is very professional, and you would be doing them (and future applicants) a favor if you called them out on this nonsense! Please do send that email :)

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      18 questions!? Good grief, good luck to them finding a person who is desperate enough to go through that nonsense. Run gurl, run! I’m glad you’re withdrawing.

      I’ve only seen a few questions being asked in roles that regularly do not come with cover letters. So they get a response of “Tell me why you’re interested in this role? What excites you most about goats?” then they offer a phone screen at that point. But just yikes yikes yikes this is over the top.

      1. BRR*

        Another non-selling point is that I imagine top candidates have more options and don’t want to go through this so my coworkers wouldn’t all be the best? I just find this so dumb. As someone else pointed out, the answers are pointless because they’re going to be so scripted and candidates could easily have someone else write their answers.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s absolutely true.

          That’s up there with other practices that weed out your good candidates, like overly aggressive job ads that pound home that they’ve had problems finding people who are reliable “Must show up! Every day!” and “Make sure you mention kumquats in your cover letter so we know you are paying attention to details!” No, just no.

        2. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup – top candidates would not need to put up with something like this, which isn’t to say that the people working there are bottom of the barrel, just probably average. And who knows, maybe it’s just a quirk of this particular hiring manager and not indicative of the company as a whole. Still, I wouldn’t bother moving forward. I hate wasting my time on stupid stuff like this. You’re absolutely right that these are interview questions.

      2. Double A*

        Ha, I finished putting together an application with a cover letter and all the bells and whistles, and then on the submission form was ONE required question about “What inspired you to become a llama groomer” and because I wasn’t happy about having to job hunt and kind of ambivalent about the job I almost didn’t submit the application. 18 questions, no way!

    3. KEG*

      Weird. I agree these should be interview questions. Maybe tweak what you’re going to say a little include that point, like “I’m interested in the position, but I’m not able to invest such a large amount of time so early in the hiring process. I’d be happy to use the questions you provided as talking points for our interview instead.”

    4. zora*

      I would be a tiny bit more specific. ‘These questions would take me a few hours to answer, and I am not able to invest that kind of time in this hiring process before an interview.” They sound clueless and might not get what you mean about ‘large amount of time’ unless you spell it out.

      But I agree, and good for you!!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      They are unwittingly weeding out the confident people right away.

      Good for you, BRR. Good luck as you continue to search.

    6. Public Sector Manager*

      If it was 2-3 questions in writing plus a phone interview, then so be it. But 18 questions?!? That’s too much!

      I say go for it. For the visionary thinker part of it, you could tell them about the vision you had after reviewing the 18 questions–your boot kicking their butt.

    7. JobHunter*

      Wow. Eighteen questions is incredible. I once backed out of an application that required seven questions, (answer with 2-4 complete sentences each).

    1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      Um, why did you keep reading past the first sentence, and also, it was barely a spoiler, unless you consider knowing one character in a tv show is pregnant a spoiler . . . which I don’t.

      1. My cat is my alarm clock*

        Because I was scrolling down and I saw it before I could avoid it. You said yourself that it’s a spoiler. It’s just plain considerate not to put that in a top-level comment.

      2. buttrue???*

        Yeah, this isn’t really a spoiler exactly because it was just business as usual and not pat of the story line/plot.

      3. anonymoushiker*

        For those of us who are fast skimmers, sometimes it’s very hard to avoid spoilers by just stopping reading.

        1. Don’t spoil it*

          Agreed, especially when there’s only one line gap between the spoiler warning and the actual spoiler

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Apparently some people read word-by-word, and some people read in chunks. And if you read in chunks, it’s basically impossible to stop reading at the word “spoiler” because you’re already past that point by the time it registers.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is better off in tomorrow’s thread…this has nothing to do with work, unless you work on the set, even then it’s a stretch.

  12. Side hustle look back*

    I think I made a mistake the other day by expressing enthusiasm for a fellowship program that would pay me full time to pursue my creative sidehustle. My boss was within hearing a the time and I wish I hadn’t said anything. I have almost no chance of winning a fellowship like that and I don’t want my boss to feel like I’m not committed to advancing in my job. Do you guys think this was a faux pas? If you heard an employee say something suggesting they were going to apply would you think less of their commitment?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Meh, unless you said something super explicit about not wanting to work here I think you’d be ok. I’d take it as something akin to talking about buying lottery tickets, or the latest “this company totally wants to pay people to travel and drink and relax, wouldn’t that be nice” type of thing.

      If you’re really worried or if you said something that truly sounded like you were applying to GTFO asap you could always sit down with your boss and explain that you’re committed to staying here and advancing your career. But honestly unless they start acting weird or you have a crazy boss I don’t think you need to do anything.

    2. WritingWoes*

      I think it depends on the context! Was this something you brought up, or were you reacting to something that someone else mentioned? If you had said something like “I’ve been looking for fellowships that would allow me to quit my job,” that’s different than someone bringing it up and you saying “that sounds cool!” or even you bringing it up in a “hey, doesn’t this sound fun?” kind of way.

      But overall I think everyone would rather be paid to pursue their passions than work a day job, so your boss probably didn’t take it too seriously. If your boss was only within hearing distance, they might not have been actively listening anyway!

      1. Side hustle look back*

        I totally brought it up to a coworker, not realizing my boss was behind me. I think I suggested I was going to apply which is why I’m cringing, not just “isn’t it cool that this exists” – but, it’s like the McArthur genius grant, like sure you can go ahead and apply but it’s not any more likely than winning the lotto. I just worry my boss might not have that context.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I was thinking lottery tickets then you wrote lotto. ha! It’s a good analogy, use it when you say something to the boss. A good boss would cheer you on or a bad boss would hold it against you. I think your boss might be in the middle somewhere? Just start by saying, “I wanted to give you background on what you heard me say the other day…”

    3. 1234*

      Did your boss say anything to you about the fellowship program? If not, I would just move on and not bring it up.

    4. LKW*

      I think it depends on the boss. If your boss takes resignations personally and is a Michael-Scott-ish person then do a bit of damage control.

      If your boss is normal and understands that everyone has their own motivations and goals beyond the office – then ignore and move on.

    5. Batgirl*

      I think it’s healthy for them to realise they don’t own you permanently. Loyalty? *shudders* I work for a wage, not the feudal system.

      If he is a bit banana-crackers/self important then maybe drop some red herrings into the conversation like “I’d also like to be a pirate!” Or “Do you get a gold clock when you retire from here? I kind of want one”. But having plans and a general sense of personal freedom is not a faux pas unless you’re deliberately going on at him about wishing yourself elsewhere.

      Also! Congratulate yourself that on realising you were being overheard by the wrong audience you didn’t start digging a verbal hole and over explaining yourself a la nineties sitcom Ellen; which is what I would have done.

  13. krysb*

    So, I’ve decided to at least look for a new job. I’ve been with my company for 8 years and have worked up from lower level positions into some form of management, and was a supervisor for 5 years. This is my second professional job, but I’ve also worked in customer service/retail/food service and factory positions (not that this is pertinent to my job search, but I think they’ve shaped me personally). Ideally, I would like to stay within my industry, or a similar industry, but I don’t know how possible that is, as it’s a weird hybrid of legal and tech. I love the field, though. Ideally, I would go into legal operations, but it seems like those roles are not a thing yet; firms and companies with legal departments aren’t intentionally hiring non-lawyers for such that I’ve found. I’m graduating this year with a degree in business administration with concentrations in human resources management and operations management.

    But, this is giving me anxiety. I’ve introduced a lot of things into my position that are measurable and results-driven, but almost all of these things are self-taught and probably not the best process/functions. This makes me wonder how well I’d be able to translate to other, higher level jobs; technically, it’s legitimate experience, but it’s such a hodgepodge of stuff put together by myself. How can I take this experience and use it without ending up looking incompetent with an organization that may have more legitimate processes and functions? I would have to be able to use this information in order to seek the level of employment I need in order to further my career and make sure my bills are paid (those student loans will be coming due soon, and that’s a bill I can’t afford anymore – though when I started I could, but then I had to emergency-buy a house instead of living rent-free).

    I did recently purchase Alison’s How to Get a Job and will be spending the weekend pouring over it. I’ve got my references lined up, including bosses, current and former coworkers, and former bosses (including a former VP), all from/within my current organization (though one was a coworker at my last professional job, as well). I’m looking at job descriptions and am trying to suss out my weaknesses to see where I can improve, but this again relies on self-learning that I’m not sure I can qualify/quantify, even if I bring any knowledge into use at my organization.

    Any thoughts, ideas, and comments would be fully appreciated.

    1. krysb*

      Oh, I also have copies of my past 2 evaluations to at least show how well my company thinks of me to reference, if necessary.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Are there certifications in your field that might be helpful? There are tons of tech industry certs in all types of processes these days. The advantage is that these can be obtained in a relatively short period, and most are reasonable cost (meaning not cheap, but not requiring a student loan). Combining a cert with demonstrated experience would boost your resume significantly.

      1. krysb*

        Not really. Most certs in my field are software-based. And I don’t meet the requirements of most professional organizations and/or those organizations aren’t really pertinent to me. For example, I can join an HR prof org, but I don’t work in or plan to work in HR (weird because it’s my major, but I actually chose it because, in my opinion, it and ops management are heavily linked); most ops mgmt prof orgs are for manufacturing; CLOC, which is specific to legal operations requires a person to work in a legal position within an organization or be a law or graduate student.

    3. Officious Intermeddler*

      How flexible are you with location? I do think in many markets, law firms (even small or regional ones) and in-house legal departments are hiring legal ops professionals. It’s new for sure, but I know enough working legal ops pros that I think you might have some luck in a broad geographic search.

      1. krysb*

        I currently work in a metro area with a number of corporations with legal departments and firms, but… nothing. I can expand my search, but there would have to be a massive benefit for moving, in addition to taking into account differences in cost of living (I live in a relatively low COL area).

    4. LKW*

      Are you talking about Legal Discovery and Legal Reviews because there are many firms that supply law firms with services. If so, yes most law firms don’t hire this kind of service directly, the outsource. However believe me when I say you don’t want to work directly for a law firm if you’re not an attorney.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Preach. I did for nearly three years, and it was a nightmare. Then again, our attorneys said the same thing – our firm just sucked.

      2. krysb*

        I currently work in lit support, at an organization that focuses on (on our side) e-discovery, document digitizing, and computer forensics; the other side is managed review and attorneys-on-demand. I believe that our managed review, review management (yes these are different things), and project management are mostly attorneys, with very few exceptions.

        1. LKW*

          Did this for several years, and agree that for the most part, review is attorney driven and managed. Within a law firm you’re not going to have a career unless you are a licensed attorney who has moved into this area. An in house Lit Support management team will almost always be led by an attorney. Why not go to another consulting firm – there are plenty out there. They don’t require attorneys, just the ability to schmooze with attorneys, show them deference when deference is called and kick them in the ass when ass-kicking is needed.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You should stop downplaying your self-taught skills and assuming they’re “wrong” or misguided.

      I say this due to the fact that I came up that way as well, everything was thrown at me and I caught it, juggled it and mastered it. It was a welcomed surprise when I went to some professional development workshops to check my knowledge out and see if I was on par with what was expected. It turns out that I’ve done a lot of things not only right but better than what they would have “taught” you to do it in school or formal training.

      The actual work experience and showing how you’ve put things together is perfect for showing people your ability to be creative and understand processes without actual instruction.

      1. Snarktini*

        Agreed. I had formal training but my work had drifted towards a tangential field that I was groping my way through, intuitively — and since I was also solo self-employed I didn’t even have the benefit of a workplace or team to learn with. It was just me, figuring things out and teaching myself. When I realized I wanted to move formally into that field, I felt like I needed to get an MBA to get credibility and a formal tool set. During my MBA I did learn some awesome new skills, but I also learned that I was doing pretty well already! My self-taught skills were not inferior at all. I don’t at all regret going back to school, but it would have been nice to know I didn’t need to.

    6. higheredrefugee*

      I work in this field right now, and I’d start with some basic informational interviewing, because while you’ll see some postings for jobs you’re talking about looking for a JD, if you have enough knowledge of legal processes, this can be overcome. Even in a metro as large as Chicago, I’ve seen people hired into roles you’re talking about that were never posted, but would help either a corporation or a law firm solve various process issues for them. You may need to be also looking at Corporate Responsibility offices, which sometimes oversee not only the corporate giving/green initiatives/values of the organization, but sometimes also have compliance and regulatory functions that are pseudo-legal. In other corporations, you’re looking at their Legal Departments, which are increasingly taking on those compliance and regulatory functions directly in their structures. Other places that are looking for similar skill sets are financial industries and health care, though the titles vary widely.

      Also, as for all the great things you’ve already done, that’s a huge strength in showing initiative, flexibility, and resourcefulness. You can admit that you’ve been tasked with solving problems without clear solutions, and you’re looking forward to working within a larger organization where you have the opportunity to dive more deeply into best practices and be actively supported in your own professional development (there are more and more legal tech conferences all the time).

      Finally, as for your student loans, I hope they are mostly federal, as that will give you more payment options and flexibility. I would NOT recommend converting them to a private lender for at least two years so that you have the flexibility of forbearance and other rights and options that the federal loans have. This is a source I trust but their focus is on Public Service Loan Forgiveness, but there are other resources that talk about the payment options that help you with breathing room when you first graduate:

      Good luck!

    7. krysb*

      Another question for the hive mind re: resumes. Like many, most of my best info comes from one job. How much info is too much info? I mean, I’ve worked at 4 different positions within my department operator, lead, supervisor, and my current position that I don’t even know how to describe (my title is “Lieutenant Commander” because I work at a hipster company). However, some of my responsibilities – primarily technical and project work – have been my responsibilities for lead, supervisor, and current; my current position is basically my supervisor position, minus the actual supervision of employees, as I had added a whole lot to that position (mostly dealing with processes, finding ways to attract customers, metrics, and other higher-level tasks), then had to start spinning tasks off to others. Technically, my project responsibilities are not part of my current job, but I’m the only one capable of performing them – and they make up 75% of my department’s average revenue.

      tl;dr, how do you guys delineate tasks and task types in regards to multiple positions with overlapping responsibilities?

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        This is the norm for my employer, and what you do is demonstrate your steadily growing responsibilities:

        Employer (start date – present)
        Lt Commander (start date – present)
        1 line role description (ok, maybe 2 would be needed for that role title)
        Accomplishments / etc (Managed projects valued at $; implemented metrics measuring x, y; Grew customer base z%)

        Dept Supervisor (start date – end date)
        Accomplishments (managed # people, etc)

        Dept Lead (start date – end date)
        Accomplishments (optional)

        Dept operator (start date – end date)
        Accomplishments (optional)

        The other titles are common enough that you probably don’t need to describe them; you can use your accomplishments to give more details about the kind of work you / your company do (eg, managed implementation of ERP software for fortune 500 customers from sale to sign-off) or tech you know.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        You mention the overlapping responsibilities in the most recent role, but put the focus on accomplishments.

  14. More Anonymous Than Usual*

    Is it weird for an organization to not, as a matter of policy, ask for or check references? I don’t mean they were in a rush to hire and so just didn’t have the time to do their due diligence one time—I mean as a matter of policy, they just don’t.

    I interviewed somewhere. Loved it there. Loved the people there. Hope I get the job. But the HR person said they just never check references or ask for them.

    I mean, if it’s working for them, great. But it seems that would leave them very open to people who are smooth-talking interviewees but just full of BS, no?

    1. AnonMarketer*

      Depends on the organization! I’ve had two jobs that didn’t check references; both were smaller startups. People were still high caliber, and I kind of look askance at references anyways as many are hesitant to give bad ones.

    2. LaDeeDa*

      My company doesn’t check references, they verify past employment but do not call references or even ask for them. In fact the last 3 companies I worked for don’t and the few positions I have been offered (but eventually turned down) this last year never asked for references.
      I am always shocked at the number of people here who say it is done- because really, what is the point? No one puts a reference down who isn’t going to give them a good reference, and people lie about the relationship to the reference. Many companies (mine included) forbid current employees from being a reference to an existing or former employee who they managed, we have to refer the caller to HR and all HR will do is verify employment.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        TONS of people put together reference lists that include people who won’t or can’t give a good reference. A lot of people don’t know that you should check with people before you name them as references. As a result, I’ve done a lot of reference checks with people’s former bosses and colleagues who don’t have very good things to say.

        1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

          I’ve done a lot of reference checks with people’s former bosses and colleagues who don’t have very good things to say.

          This is the very point of checking references, though. Not “Give me a list of people who like you” but “I want to talk to your former supervisors to get different perspectives on your past work.”

          1. Autumnheart*

            Yes, but a crappy boss could sabotage your reference even if your work was stellar. I could see the rationale of not bothering to check, if there’s a likelihood that the reference wouldn’t be objectively accurate.

      2. MsClaw*

        Same here. I think this is pretty common. In my company’s case, we can’t even talk about peers. And when I was hiring, I never called anyone’s references because I figured chances were good other employers in the industry had the same policy.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Yeah, my fortune 500 employer checks dates of employment, but that’s all. That’s also all they give.

    3. Lucette Kensack*

      My husband has never had his references checked. He is 40, and a director at a Fortune 500 company. It’s baffling to me.

    4. LaDeeDa*

      Oh and to address the smooth-talking– if you know what to ask and how to ask things you can see through the BS right away. behavioral based questions, work samples, and a small “task” should be enough for anyone to see the truth as much as possible.

    5. Sunflower*

      Depends what they mean by references. I’ve only had one company call my list of references. The other ones have only checked dates of employment.

      Also keep in mind that your list of references is – hopefully- going to be slanted in your favor. I had 3 bosses over my time at my last job- my second boss and I didn’t get along so of course I don’t use her as a reference. So I could see why companies don’t bother.

    6. blabla*

      I actually think this is a good practice. References typically do not provide useful information for whether a candidate is qualified for a job and can reinforce cultural biases around hiring candidates who are “just like us.” Plus, when people leave a job, it’s often due to a relationship that is less than stellar with their manager so they won’t provide that person’s contact info anyway. Talking to a couple people who are conditioned to say nothing but positive things about an applicant takes a bunch of time and often people are reluctant to be honest when there were problems with a past employee. Think about terrible employees you have known who had good references. If references aren’t giving you relevant info, helping you avoid bad employees, and take a bunch of time, why do them? I think companies need to focus on skills-based assessments that will tell them whether the candidate is up to snuff.

      1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

        Think about terrible employees you have known who had good references.

        By this logic, think of terrible employees you’ve known who have been great interviewees. Why even interview people, then?

        1. Pescadero*

          Considering the lack of criterion validity in most interview questions, and the bias issues presented by in person interviews… I’m not sure interviewing people actually provides better employees than just randomly picking from a stack of qualified resumes.

          1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

            That very well may be true!

            I’m just pointing out the inconsistency. Lots of folks here seem to be implying an interview is a valid way to judge a candidate because you can ask a candidate the right questions about herself, but a reference check isn’t valid for some reason, because no matter what you ask the reference, the reference will be positive about the applicant. Makes no sense.

    7. More Anonymous Than Usual*

      I think Alison’s said a few times here that hiring employers are well within their rights to call previous (not current) managers, whether you list them as references or not, so whether your list skews in your favor is irrelevant or not.

      And just as you can ask the right questions of an applicant to get to know her, it would seem you could also ask the right questions of a reference to get at the truth (set aside the superlatives and adjectives, ask about specific anecdotes and situations).

    8. More Anonymous Than Usual*

      Even though I obviously don’t agree with you all (or the company) on this approach, I guess it’s good to know it’s not that out there, and, yes, it does seem (based on my limited contact with the current employees there) that they are still able to hire well anyway.

    9. 1234*

      OldJob had the opposite policy, but some managers felt the same way others who have commented do – that people will only give us people who are their friends. That manager called references as a matter of “checking things off the list to satisfy the higher ups.”

      However, if we saw that you previously worked at Company ABC and someone at our company knows someone at Company ABC, we will call up that person and ask if they’re familiar with Candidate. It’s how they decided not to give a guy who looked good on paper an interview – the person at Company ABC said “Yes, we worked with Bob – he whined a lot and wasn’t much of a self-starter.”

      1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

        that people will only give us people who are their friends.

        Reference checkers will want your previous managers not a list of random former co-workers who are friends of yours.

        1. 1234*

          I wasn’t aware that a reference HAD to be a manager? I thought it was anyone who could speak to you/your work in a professional setting?

          Of course, it would be a red flag if they didn’t list any manager whatsoever and only listed colleagues.

          1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

            Doesn’t have to be a manager, but for a reference check to be useful, most or all of the references should be former managers or supervisors. See block of text I quoted below from Alison.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At the time I was hired, my company didn’t check references — but there was a 3-month probationary period, strictly enforced.

    11. periwinkle*

      I was really puzzled when I interviewed for my current employer and they didn’t request references. They do a very thorough background check (not just criminal records but also work history and education), but no references. It’s a Fortune 50 corporation, too.

      Smooth-talking interviewees could get hired pretty easily here, I would imagine, as we also use a behavioral panel interview with all candidates getting the same slate of questions. I had two panel interviews but it’s common to be hired after just one.

      And yet the overwhelming majority of people I’ve met here are competent, and actually know what they’re doing. Go figure.

      1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

        And yet the overwhelming majority of people I’ve met here are competent, and actually know what they’re doing. Go figure

        It doesn’t make logical sense to me, but if it’s working for your company, how can you really complain?

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We ask for them just because it’s part of the application but we never check them. My boss is of the mind that everyone only puts down their closest friends/colleagues that are going to just naturally say great things.

      I’ve only had my references checked once and it was only because I pulled the “Here’s my references, please call them!” card because my references were to confirm my exciting backstory is legit AF.

      We’re an “at will” state and have an introductory period. We do a background check and just take the risk. It’s worked out pretty well for us. I was relieved when I started here because I was fleeing a toxic job and had a coworker who could vouch for me but I really just wanted them to not even touch that place with a ten foot pole.

      1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

        My boss is of the mind that everyone only puts down their closest friends/colleagues that are going to just naturally say great things.

        A good reference check isn’t supposed to be on random friends/colleagues the person lists but former supervisors.

        This is what Alison (the author of this website) has to say about it:

        Past managers will make the strongest references, because they’re the people who were charged with evaluating your work. Peers can talk about you as a co-worker, but most reference checkers will want to hear the assessment of the person responsible for evaluating you. But it’s OK to include one peer on a reference list as long as you also include several managers. (And if you don’t include any managers, reference checkers are likely to wonder if you’re hiding something.)
        (Emphasis added)

        and also

        Employers don’t need your permission to contact your references, and they also aren’t limited to just the names you provide. They can call anyone they’d like, including jobs that you didn’t put on your reference list.

        1. blabla*

          Past managers are not always that useful if you haven’t worked for them in several years and the work you did for them was significantly different than the work you do now. For example, if I gave my past two managers (not including my current boss), I’d be giving out contact info for someone who managed me over 6 years ago when I was new to the working work and was working on communications (as opposed to my current field of research). A better reference would be a coworker who had recently left my organization but could speak to my work as a researcher, no?

          1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

            The best would be both. It’s fairly typical for people (not to notify their current supervisors they’re looking for a job) to give a current reference who’s a co-worker and then past references who were their managers/supervisors.

          2. MsClaw*

            You asked why a company would have a policy of not checking references. blabla has given you a reason. I can give you another. Managers may not know much about the employee. In some instances, managers may work closely with their underlings. In other organizations, they may meet with the employee quarterly, while a colleague may have much more useful input to provide. So if you’re just calling all Bob’s past managers, they might not be able to tell you much beyond ‘Bob did well/poorly here’, if they can even remember Bob.

            1. More Anonymous Than Usual*

              Sure, that can be an exception. If the hiring company happens to know the previous manager doesn’t know much about the underling, there’s no need to talk to that particular reference. But that’s entirely different from “We just never check references.” In plenty of cases, a manager knows what’s going on with her direct report.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Why are you snarky AF with your tie Alison?

          She’s talking about the places that reference checks. And this thread is about WHY LOTS OF PLACES DON’T DO THEM.

          Thanks for copy/pasting unnecessary stuff though. What a fantastic student.I’m you’ve done a lot of hiring. I sure have.

    13. Fortitude Jones*

      I work for a large-ish software company that didn’t check references, didn’t do a background check on me, or ask for a drug screen. The HR rep said they don’t do that for roles like mine, not sure about generally, but I am a fully remote employee, so maybe they just don’t care whether or not I’m high or an axe murderer because I’m not in one of their offices? *shrugs* Who knows. The people on my team seem to be well-adjusted individuals who are good at their jobs, so it doesn’t seem to have hurt anything yet to not do the check.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Hit submit too soon – I was always given a writing assessment for my job that took me about two hours to complete, so they know I can do my job.

    14. Pescadero*

      I had a friend who hired on as a QC engineer at a company that didn’t drug test.

      He told them they could get the yield up by drug testing.

      They told him they knew that – but that the only way they could get employees at the rate they were willing to pay was to forgo drug testing and eat the quality hit.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Even for higher paying jobs, depending on where they’re located, you simply wouldn’t get many people to work for you with a drug test requirement. I’ve only ever had to take a drug test for a job in healthcare, that’s due to the risk of people stealing meds more than actually caring about someone being on drugs though.

  15. Kimmy Schmidt*

    In honor of this Wednesday’s sir/ma’am question, what are some of the weirdest office battles you’ve witnessed in the name of “politeness”? Have you ever experienced culture shock about what is or is not considered work-polite? What are the differences between work polite and outside of work polite?

    1. AnonMarketer*

      I used to bike to work. Was a bit of a ride, and the boss insisted we wear business casual. So I’d appear in bike clothes during the beginning of the day, walk to the bathroom, change in there, and appear in my work clothes. I’d seen this done in corporate offices so thought this was okay; however, the business owner was really old fashioned and told me this was WILDLY inappropriate and that I’d have to change outside of the office (like at a McDonald’s or something).

      …but he let me stow my bike in my team pod because apparently that was okay.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        I was an aquatic supervisor at a gym, where I naturally wore fitness-type clothes: gym shorts and a t-shirt, Bermuda shorts/yoga pants and a polo, etc., because I spent all day on the hot, damp pool deck. But this was in a Cold City with Winter weather six or so months of the year, and I had to walk a half mile to and from the subway, so I’d wear jeans and sneakers or boots in and then change first thing in the locker room, because we had locker rooms and locker rooms are for changing, right?

        Well. One of my bosses didn’t think this was “professional attire” and would glare at me for not wearing professional clothing to work for the 2 minutes it took me to walk from the front door to the locker room and reverse on the way home. When my “professional clothing” was not even remotely compatible with reality (shorts in the snow?), and most people who subway commuted in bad weather would change when they got to work, so they wouldn’t spend all day in salt-stained damp slacks.

        She of course, had the building’s only parking space, next to the front door, and would not make concessions to those of us who had to take the subway. I pointedly ignored her.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Oh for heaven’s sake! I worked in a not-quite-casual NYC office and in the winter we had people coming in with full parkas every day. Including the company president. One senior manager wore a full zip-up suit from snowmobiling when it was a wet snow.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I tend to wear workout clothes under my regular clothes. So I’d be tempted to wear yoga pants/undershirt-like top and then just stand outside and shimmy slacks on over said yoga pants and throw on a blouse over my fitted t-shirt.

        [And this my friends is why I’m not suited for a dress code or a boss who would ever give a flying ef]

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            LOL I live with a fan on at all times. As a kid I would roll up in a blanket and lay in front of the fan because it’s my comfort zone. We also grew up with layers because it was layers or freeze your butts off most days.

            1. Budgie Buddy*

              I also wear 2-3 layers at most times. Leggings under pants in the winter are my secret weapon.

      3. designbot*

        Reverse of that: I used to have a boss who thought that my bicycle was unprofessional and made me look like a child in front of clients, so he started saying that it wasn’t allowed on company property. I wound up parking it at the bookstore down the street, fortunately they never impounded it. He kept asking when I was going to ‘grow up and get a car’ until I finally said, when you pay me a decent salary.
        Randomly, he was not bothered by my biking attire, just the bike itself. And this was in a creative industry, where our competitors had hanging bike racks to show off how hip they were.

    2. Kramerica Industries*

      Not sure if this counts, but my manager insisted that we put something like “Hope you’re having a great day!” or “Open to discussing this further!” on every email we sent. I get that certain cases warrant it, but it grinds my gears to have to write “Hey Joe, could you go to Finance? I work in Accounting and we don’t handle these kinds of requests. Open to discussing further!” Like…I have nothing left to discuss.

      1. SarahKay*

        Our IT support appear to have been told to finish every email with “Have a great day!”.
        Which, when they’re not bothering to read my actual request or respond with a solution, makes me want to rip the exclamation point out of the email and stab someone with it.

      2. Nanc*

        I would be so tempted to insert random cheery closing lines that have nothing to do with the request.
        My bicycle has a bell!
        Tomatoes are fruit and peanuts are legumes!
        I can make a chicken out of a towel!
        Working on my five-year plan–just need to choose a font!

        1. Kimmy Schmidt*

          I love this idea (and will now giggle anytime I receive an email with a cheery exclamation point ending)

        2. NoMercy*

          OMG I am seriously laughing so hard at my desk right now. I want to see a towel chicken so bad…

        3. Close Bracket*

          “Working on my five-year plan–just need to choose a font!”

          Go with Comic Sans, I hear it’s popular

        4. Elitist Semicolon*

          Nanc, this comment brought me great joy and I would delight in having you as a co-worker. The BEST.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I found an old old old document with “email etiquette” outlined very specifically and saw old old old emails that were “corrected” and used as “documentation” of “performance issues” by an old executive that thankfully I never knew.

        It detailed exactly what salutations were appropriate and which ones were not. You couldn’t use “Take care” or “Thanks” it had to be “Regards” or “Thank you”. I snickered to myself and then realized what a nightmare that would have been if someone was reading out going emails so tediously that they were looking at how you’re signing off.

    3. Lora*

      I mean not really weird, but culture shock wise I went from working for a German company with a Swiss manager to working for an American company whose senior management was almost all from India. Culture shock, indeed:

      Swiss / German bosses: I can’t believe you people screwed up so badly! This is a disaster! You idiots!
      Me: Hey, we aren’t idiots! We followed YOUR procedure which doesn’t work in the US office! We need to do trial runs and due diligence to make sure that the corporate policies actually WORK globally before they’re made official!
      Swiss / Germans: Oh, okay….good point. From now on, all policies shall be reviewed by the local offices! And all you idiots better get your comments back to us quickly! No excuses!

      Indian bosses: We are thinking about perhaps dividing up responsibilities from the whole department into different sections.
      Me: Uh, okay? But how will we know if we’re duplicating efforts if we are all divided up? There’s some overlap between my group’s functions and–

      So, you know, that took some getting used to.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        Sounds like you also have a case of incompetent ego shock.
        I hear that if it stops hurting, thats when you knoe you’re about to succumb to the acid.

    4. Anon this time*

      Not using my usual commenter name because many people know this story, but I once worked with a woman who went storming into my boss’s office, super SUPER offended after she got an email from me that read as follows: Can you get back to me on this by Wednesday? If not, let me know what would work for you.

      She had NEVER IN HER LIFE been treated so rudely!

      1. sometimeswhy*

        I once sent the equivalent of “Please include Josie on all pussycat-related emails. Thanks!” and the recipient COMPLAINED TO MY BOSS because I didn’t write, “Dear Archie, Please include Josie on all pussycat-related emails. Thank you! -Sometimeswhy, Title”

        1. Nessun*

          She’d have a conniption with my boss! Half his email responses to me are “K thx”.

    5. JXB*

      I think we’ve all encountered the “polite” person who responds to EVERY SINGLE EMAIL with a “thank you”, even when all substantive discussion is concluded. I find it exhausting.

      We used to have similar discussion on a book exchange site where books were in a database and you could order using credits. There was no personal interaction, but the owner DID retain and ship the books. All notifications about the order, acceptance, shipping were automated. However – since we were all members, you could see the member ID and there was a way to send messages. (Not unlike Amazon marketplace, but – of course – much smaller.)

      There was a staunch group that felt the need to send a direct thank you message each time a book was received. I was in the camp that felt it unnecessary unless something special had occurred or extra information needed to be conveyed. This heated debate that arose from time to time in the forums, always with someone chiming in “Well, **I** was raised to be polite.”

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Oh man, YES. I am all for please and thank you when it makes sense in context, but this always feels like getting the last word in disguised at politeness to me.

      2. CanCan*

        It’s even worse when the said polite person prints out EVERY. SINGLE. EMAIL. in the email chain, including the thank you email. You know, for the file.

      3. gwal*

        I have seen someone who uses Sir and Ma’am (in every interaction, including thank you and you’re welcome emails) in this way. Nobody says anything but I find it a little OTT.

    6. BadWolf*

      The opening the door for each other dance.

      Fresh from college, I was used to “whoever is at the door first can hold it open for others.” I’m a woman. My first profession is working mostly with men. After nearly being trampled when men tried to grab the door for/around me or worse, standing around awkwardly holding a door that no one would go through first, I started getting good at either grabbing the door swiftly, going through and doing the hold for next person to grab it. Or sometimes, pausing before the door for especially enthusiastic men to get to the door without trampling me in the process. It’s not my favorite, but I decided I didn’t want to fight it.

      1. Minocho*

        For me it’s the elevator thing. I’m supposed to be the first on and the first off, because female, I think? Only sometimes, though? I’m from Detroit, y’all, not Texas. These rules don’t make sense to me. Every elevator entry and egress consists of waaaaay too many neurons thinking “Are we doing the thing? Is this the thing? Or are we not doing the thing. Is it time to go? Are they all waiting for me? What does this pause mean?”

        1. Kramerica Industries*

          Takes all my energy not to say “It’s 2019. You can exit the elevator first.” Every. Single. Time.

        2. Clawfoot*

          OMG YES. The elevator. The bane of my existence.

          When it’s time to get on the elevator, LADIES FIRST, so I get on and move to the back. When it’s time to get off the elevator, LADIES FIRST, so I have to try to maneuver around the oblivious pack of men standing in front of the door who are waiting for me to go first, because POLITENESS.

          OMG it makes me so angry I want to start biting people.

        3. Weeping Willow*

          So don’t move to the back of the elevator. First on, move to the side in the front of the elevator, and you’re perfectly situated to step off first. Detroit or Texas, it works with zero weirdness.

      2. hbc*

        I once had a legitimate standoff with a male colleague who would not go through a door held by me. At least a full minute, with other colleagues waiting. He even pulled the “My mother would never allow me to go through before a woman” line, to which I responded, “Good thing she’s not here, and you’re not a child anymore.” I don’t remember who won, which probably means I gave up, since I would still be savoring that petty victory.

        1. EinJungerLudendorff*

          I would be so tempted to give a cheerful “okay!” and shut the door in his face.

          Well, that’s what i’d be imagining doing half an hour after the fact anyway.

    7. Alianora*

      Among admins, adressing someone via email as “Dr. Lastname” vs “Firstname.” I always start with Dr, but if they sign with Firstname and other people are also referring to them as Firstname, that’s how I refer to them too — but then sometimes their own admin will chime in with a “Dr. Lastname.” So I’m not sure whether to switch back to Dr-ing or not.

    8. Brilliant Mistake*

      I had a temp I hired who used to curtsy to me all the time. And she was maybe 15 years older than me, and I didn’t know what to say. Just kept thinking to myself that she was temporary!

    9. designbot*

      My boss says ‘thank you’ in a particular way that just grinds my gears. He basically uses it as a substitute for ‘goodbye.’ Like you’re talking with him, and he decides you’re done (whether you are or not), declares very cheerily “thank you!” turns on his heel, and walks away. Even if you are at his desk. It’s the strangest thing, and very aggravating both because he often does this when the other person is not in fact done with the conversation, and because he thinks this makes him a Super Positive Great Coworker instead of rude and inconsiderate.

      1. SweetTooth*

        Like Miranda Priestly! Maybe he saw The Devil Wears Prada one too many times and took away the wrong lesson?

        1. SweetTooth*

          Duh, just kidding, she said “that’s all.” Still dismissive and not a great way for a boss to end a conversation!

    10. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

      I had an open desk back when I was an admin (no cube walls) and so many people seemed to think it was rude to not acknowledge me when they passed by. Since my desk was around the corner from the restrooms, people passed by *a lot*. I was a pretty productive admin, but I bet I could have been even more productive if I hadn’t been interrupted so many times by everyone who needed to pee over the course of the day.

  16. Steggy Saurus*

    I’m the director of a teapot resource center at Teapot University. My resource center is in the busy downtown of a major metropolitan area. My building houses only the resource center, and is semi-open to the public (by appointment, with occasional drop-ins and deliveries). For the last two decades or so, we have had a contracted, uniformed (but not armed) guard at our entrance to let people in and out and provide general guarding duties.

    Recently, the newish VP decided that she wasn’t getting “value” for her dollar by paying the guard to (and yes, this is a quote) “just sit there” and wanted to get rid of the guard altogether and replace with a key-card system like in the school’s dorm (the dorm also has guards 24/7). The school’s safety committee rallied against that, and we were able to convince the VP that a person was still needed in the resource center.

    However, the VP still wants “value” for the salary being paid, and decided the school should hire a “receptionist” who would also be a “guard” to sit at the front door. Basically, my boss and another person on campus (neither of whom work in the resource center) need admin support and the VP decided this was how they were going to get their admin support. Personally, I don’t think a person can be a guard AND an admin person at the same time – guards sit/stand and watch constantly so they can remain aware of the situation in the area they’re guarding and admin work will distract from that. On top of that, since the position won’t be contracted, we won’t have guard coverage of any kind for lunches, vacations, and sick days.

    My position is that the VP is creating a potentially dangerous situation by not having an actual guard, when all other public buildings at the university have a guard. I asked my boss for his honest opinion on the matter, and he says he’s willing to try it for a few months. I’m torn as to what to do. I hate to go against my boss, and in any normal situation where I’d disagree I’d just accept my boss’s word, but to me this is about safety of staff and students and security of the resource center’s collections. In theory, I could go above my boss and the VP (who are nominally of equal rank) and go to the University’s president or a member of the board’s risk management team.

    What say you?

    1. league.*

      Have there been incidents? It seems odd that a guard would be needed in a busy downtown area. Do most off-campus businesses around you (stores, salons, etc.) have guards? Maybe you are just used to the guard’s presence?

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        There was an incident less than two months ago, and I’d say we have about one a year or so (no guns – drunk/high people who try to come in and bother students/staff). I polled other downtown college resource centers around the country and all have guards and keycard. The other resource centers in town all have guards. And yes, many other businesses also have guards (most of the larger retail stores and of course the banks).

    2. INeedANap*

      I work at a large university with several satellite offices across the downtown area, off central campus. I have never heard of having guards in these satellite offices. We don’t have guards on campus, but we do have a police force on campus, so I assume guards aren’t needed.

      I would personally not really think there is any need for a dedicated guard in a building that doesn’t have any specific safety concerns. If this was a resource center for a part of the community that might reasonably fear some kind of crime or violence (for example, a domestic violence center that might expect a violent partner to appear) – in that case I 1000000% see the need for a guard.

      However, unless there is a specific reason a guard might be needed, I can’t imagine what the potentially dangerous situation would be. Our satellite offices seem to have no problem with a basic keycard entry to access the workspaces restricted to the public.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Okay, let me further clarify (I was trying to obfuscate for security’s sake): I run a library. We are not a university with a police force where we’d have cops who could come in on tours every once in a while. In addition, we had a very bad incident last month where a drunk and belligerent man made it into the building next door to ours and then almost made it into ours as well.

        As I mentioned above, every other library in my city (university or otherwise) has guards at the entrance. This isn’t as unheard of as people think.

        1. INeedANap*

          Yes, the library thing changes it. All of our public libraries in my city have a guard or cop on duty. I think there’s a big difference between a resource center – which is mainly an office setting – and a library – which is open to the public.

          1. Steggy Saurus*

            I wish I could edit my reply – it didn’t occur to me there might be another meaning for resource center!

    3. RandomU...*

      At the end of the day, what is the difference between a receptionist/admin and a uniformed unarmed security guard?

      Both will monitor the comings and goings of people
      Both will greet visitors
      Is there something special that your security guard is doing that a receptionist/admin can’t do?

      This seems that you have the perception of safety and advanced security with the guard, when in reality it’s a person who is present wearing a uniform.

      Maybe I’m missing something?

      1. kittymommy*

        A lot of people do respond differently to a uniform though, even if it’s just an unarmed private security uniform. Our libraries all have a uniformed security and so many times they have had to go up to someone to either escort them out, calm them down, or give some sort of admonishment and nine times out of ten the person has already been spoken to by staff and ignored. It’s crazy how having someone in a uniform say the exact same thing can engender such a different response.

        Of course this doesn’t always happen, some just continue on and then law enforcement has to be called, but yeah, a uniform can make a difference.

      2. WellRed*

        If they actually did need a guard all of a sudden and the receptionist was in teh middle of oh, data entry or whatever they will try to stick them with, what happens then? Also, I agree with KittyMommy about how people respond to a uniformed guard vs a receptionist in business attire.

        1. RandomU...*

          I’d assume that the person in the position would be able to prioritize making an emergency phone call for actual police over a data entry project.

      3. ket*

        You’d have to train the admin to deal with drunk, high, or disorderly people. Is that standard in an admin job?

        1. Nessun*

          A lot of reception jobs are first-line contact for the public where the public is not necessarily a client/customer or someone you’d want anywhere near your workplace. Everywhere I’ve worked the receptionist has had some training in how to politely and safely request that people leave, and an emergency call button to summon security if there is an issue with a person who won’t listen.

    4. Decima Dewey*

      Is there a Safety Committee you can turn to?

      Libraries in my library system have to have guards at least on their way when we open. Most of the time the guards mostly observe and make sure things are okay, occasionally nipping potential problems in the bud. The important thing is that the guards are available if something does happen. Something like two patrons getting into a fight. A patron ODing in a library bathroom and needing Narcan. A diabetic staffer having a low blood sugar episode and being clearly non compis mentis. FWIW, we just had to call for help when a patron passed out, tried to say he was okay, got his location and the date wrong (he said he was at the shelter and that it was the 11th). Incidents and emergencies happen quickly!

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Thanks, Decima. We went to our safety committee and they wrote a very strongly worded letter to the VP/my boss stating their concerns. Unfortunately, the VP’s stance went from “we don’t need a body in this spot at all” to “we’ll put a body there, but it’ll be an admin person,” so she clearly doesn’t get it.

        That’s the thing about a guard – most days you can look at just the numbers and say, “this is pointless.” Then one day comes along when the crazy person walks in and it makes all the difference. An admin person won’t necessarily have any extra training, won’t have a rapport with the guards in the other buildings, and also, what are we supposed to during the four weeks of vacation the new admin person gets?

        The point above about the uniform is a good one too; I tried bringing that up.

        My question at this point is really – do I just suck up the downgrade in safety for our students and staff, or is it an appropriate time to go over people’s heads?

        1. WellRed*

          Most days are pretty quiet for firemen, I’ll bet, but when you need one, no receptionist will suffice.

          1. cmcinnyc*


            I am an admin. I am not security. We have security–both building security for all the tenants and security that works just for my company. They have different training and different responsibilities. If you need a security guard, you need a security guard. It’s not a job where a person is going to look busy all day, and a good chunk of their job is practically Reception, but when we need to prevent unstable ex-employees, abusive husbands, and general vigilantes from getting access to our floors? They do that. I would NOT do that without training. That’s the “value” you’re getting.

            1. valentine*

              when the crazy person walks in
              I can’t tell if you mean mentally ill, because using that term makes the phrase sound wrong.

              do I just suck up the downgrade in safety for our students and staff
              No; never.

              or is it an appropriate time to go over people’s heads?
              Yes, this is worth fighting as strenuously as possible. Just out of blatant self-interest, your VP should want to avoid being the person who hired an admin (for people who aren’t even in the building!) instead of a guard and then someone shot the place up. In security, boring is good. You want to have a record like 1,000+ days without an incident.

            1. Steggy Saurus*

              In my state, an unarmed security guard must be licensed with 40 hours of training in a number of areas one would not expect an admin assistant to be trained in.

              I stand by the point that one cannot be booking travel or scheduling complicated things while simultaneously paying proper attention to all of one’s surroundings. If so, why would any place need unarmed security? Why can’t I just sit in my office and keep an eye on who’s coming and going? The guard’s single-minded focus on security allows everyone else to focus on their work.

              1. RandomU...*

                You were comparing an unarmed security guard to firefighters. That is what I was referring to as not being the same.

                1. ket*

                  To be pedantic, Steggy was not comparing firefighters & security guards; WellRed was.

                  Second, the comparison was not in the job duties alone, but also in the frequency and urgency of those duties. Both firefighters and licensed security guards can spend long stretches of time “not doing anything”, but when their services are needed, neither is interchangeable with an administrative professional or receptionist.

                2. WellRed*

                  Splitting hairs. My point is that they don’t see the need for the most appropriate person in the position, whatever that looks like, until they need that particular person with that expertise. I’d rather have an unarmed guard break up a fight than me, the receptionist in my pretty dress.
                  At any rate, it’s very common for libraries to have guards and librarians.

    5. Anonymouse*

      If there is an incident just call the cops? You could even install a panic button for the receptionist.

        1. RandomU...*

          Again.. what is an unarmed security guard going to do any differently than any other employee in the building?

          They are going to call the same the same police as you or I would. Ok you got me, they can stare menacingly at the person causing the disturbance in their uniform, but that’s about it.

          1. Do you have a horse in this race?*

            I think you may be missing the point. A dedicated guard is only going to be watching for potential issues not occasionally focusing on other tasks. Someone with split duties who is also doing data entry may not be prepared to address an issue before it even begins. Yes, they can prioritize calling the police over data entry, but by the time they notice there is an issue, it may be too late.

            1. RandomU...*

              Not missing the point (or arguing @ket), just don’t really agree. I’ll bow out if alternate perspectives aren’t helping the discuss.

              1. Steggy Saurus*

                Obviously I disagree, but the more interesting point is that the VP thinks unarmed security guards are required in the other buildings (a main building and a dorm/classroom space). If there’s no difference in the eyes of the VP, why is the VP paying for the guards in those buildings?

          2. ket*

            I don’t understand why you are so intent on arguing that unarmed security guards have the same skills and attitudes as receptionists. A security guard, by definition, signs up for the job of security guard. A receptionist signs up for a different job. This difference in attitude alone matters! Someone who loves answering emails & following up on travel arrangements really may not want to deal with conflict at all! In California, by contrast, a licensed security guard has to go through training on crowd control, blood-borne pathogens, workplace violence, handling difficult people, etc. You can look up the topics of training here: Of course different states are different, but as someone more likely to be receptionist than a security guard, I really wouldn’t appreciate being paid to answer the phone and emails and then also have, “Oh, keep the drunks out too! for no extra pay! thanks!” sprung on me.

    6. I need a vacation*

      I’d wonder which job is considered more important and gets priority in duties. If an incident happens, but the receptionist/guard didn’t handle it because they were handling reception duties or admin support… or if they can’t do admin support because the guard duties occur… what happens?

      I’d also be curious about the requirements for this combined role, since the physicality required for a guard position is different from those for an admin position. “Must be able to file and also know self-defense/be able to subdue people” is an interesting skill combination.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        All excellent points. :) The current steps I’ve taken are to unemotionally compile a list of all these points and send them to the vp/boss/hiring manager and say, “here are the points that will need to be addressed with the position.” That way I pretty clearly expressed my concerns without actually being defiant. But I am really feeling the need to escalate this.

        Another issue: this person will have three bosses. Me, my boss, and the other person who needs admin support. Can you imagine how miserable that would be?

    7. Dr. Anonymous*

      Maybe you could ask your boss if they’ve gotten an opinion from the risk management team.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Since my boss is essentially saying “let’s try this out” and our only real risk management team is a Board committee, I’d have to go over his head to do this. That’s essentially what I’m trying to figure out: am I in a position where doing that is appropriate?

        1. Reba*

          Ah. I think this is worth continuing to fight for. Collaboratively, of course! Go back to your boss, say this is really bothering you, and ask for a meeting or phone call with whoever is most able to speak to the risk management aspect of this, AND your unit’s insurance! “I understand the administrative needs here but I am really concerned that those might override our students and staff safety–that is a crucial priority as I see it.”

          Could you reach out to colleagues/peers to get a sense of what similar buildings and institutions practices are? You’ve explained it in this thread, but I wonder if presenting it in a more official way would make an impression ?

          1. Steggy Saurus*

            Thanks. We have one insurance plan for the whole school, I believe (we’re quite small). I’m on vacation this week, but I do think I may try once more to approach my boss, maybe after talking to the person on staff who pays our insurance policy.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I say I knew someone involved in the Connecticut Lottery workplace shooting.
      Bring back the guard.

      1. Mickey Q*

        My nephew was on campus at Virginia Tech during the shooting. My daughter started a few months later and my son soon followed. Get a guard.

    9. KR*

      In my company’s corporate offices they have guard/security person at the front desk who handles issues regarding visitors and temporary elevator passes (permanent employees get a RFID card that unlocks the floors they need to get to & the parking garage). I wouldn’t say they are a receptionist but they do handle the front desk of the building.

      1. noahwynn*

        We have the same in my office. The guard handles the check-in and out of visitors and sits at the desk during the day. If you have a visitor they will send you an IM to let you know there’s someone waiting for you and even direct the vistor towards the coffee/water while wait.

        There’s actually two of them on duty during the day, one always at the desk and another roaming around checking exterior doors, wandering through the parking lot, things like that. At night there is just the one roaming around.

    10. CB*

      In college, I was the receptionist for our enrollment office, which regularly had internal and external visitors for our freshman orientation, VP, and enrollment marketing teams. Our building also housed suites for admissions, registrar, financial aid, cashier, etc.

      While there was not police/security presence in the building, every front desk had a “panic button” under the desk that would alert the campus police dispatch of an issue. The dispatcher would call the front desk, and if nobody answered, they would dispatch a uniformed police officer. I used this once when a parent became verbally aggressive and defensive due to an issue out of our control.

      This might be an option for your office if your boss/VP are unwilling to compromise about the guard. In our scenario, the only extra cost was a small charge for the additional ‘phone’ line for the button.

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

      I work at a university in an off the main campus downtown building just like you describe. We have a contracted, uniformed, unarmed guard (actually 2-3 that rotate out during the day). Almost all of our guards are retired police officers with that level of training. The guards sit at a desk with a small bank of camera monitors that cover the parking lot, inside stairwells and a few of the reception areas on different floors. They also have a constant radio contact with the main campus — like a police scanner — to keep apprised of anything happening on campus that might be of concern to people in our building. Their job is to watch the monitors as well as check in visitors who don’t have a university badge, and on a schedule walk a sweep of the area. A few times a day, the armed campus security drops by too. Like the OP has described, the usual incidents our guard has to deal with are drunks and homeless people either trying to get in, or hanging out in the parking lot, and they go out and encourage them to move along or call the city police if that doesn’t work. When they sweep the area, they are on the lookout to report other safety concerns as well — make sure outside exit doors have closed all the way, locks are functional and not tampered with, no one has propped a door open that shouldn’t be, no one is smoking where they shouldn’t, stairwell lighting is working properly, look out for leaks, and escort anyone to their vehicle if they request it, etc. All this to say that if a guard is doing their job, they couldn’t possibly handle real reception duties, and vice versa. If what your VP is annoyed with is the sitting there doing nothing, then add duties to the guard that add value.

    12. 30 Years in the Biz*

      If this hasn’t been mentioned: What about liability to the library? It seems that someone performing receptionist duties clearly can’t/doesn’t want to perform the security tasks needed to keep people safe and unharmed. If something bad happened and there was a lawsuit, I’m thinking that a weak point in the library’s defense would be that they had an unqualified (and probably unmotivated) person in a public security position. Based on previous incidents at your and other’s libraries, wouldn’t that be a negligent act? Besides risk of injury/death, this could cost the library way more that the cost of a security guard. I’m not a lawyer.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      I say that if this goes forward, you need to fully disclose in the job description that this “admin/reception” position also includes security guard duties such as:

      1) physically protecting the collections from willful damage;
      2) dealing with drunk/high and disorderly people harassing the other patrons and staff, including de-escalating potentially violent situations and ejecting people from the building;
      3) monitoring the stacks and restrooms for illegal activity and intervening as necessary;
      4) rendering assistance to vulnerable patrons, such as administering Narcan for overdoses or doing CPR until emergency services arrive.

      It will definitely change the pool of people who are willing to apply for this “admin” position and get paid a “receptionist’s” wage.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I know. Let’s have pilots clean the cabins while they are in the air. I mean most of the time pilots just sit there. Unless the plane starts falling out of the sky they really have nothing to do and we need more value.
      (That’s snark in case anyone is unsure.)

      Give your boss one more chance, especially if they are an okay boss and this is out of character.
      I think this is a case where you need to arm your boss with words to argue the point.
      You could show the boss articles about libraries using guards.
      You could show your boss descriptions of all. the. different. things a guard watches for. Be sure to talk about those little clues or gestures that happen in a blink of an eye.
      And you could talk about what if something happens. And then your boss and the VP have to explain TO THE PUBLIC why the guard was removed. Remind your boss that he is now on record as agreeing with the VP.
      As your boss to ask the organizations attorney what legal liability might arise from such a move. Could your boss be held personally responsible? Let’s say something awful happened (heaven forbid) could your boss be sued for everything he personally owns?
      Last, you could point out that you would feel unsafe in your workplace.

      If none of this works, then yes, escalate.

      If I hit an issue that left unchecked could cost me my life literally, then I have no problem making it my hill to die on figuratively.

      I have argued life and death points and I know it is exhausting. Especially when ordinarily intelligent people refuse to grasp the danger involved. But you know what, my other choice is to leave the job because I am not willing to put my life on the line at work when it is preventable or at least can be mitigated to some degree.

      Look for several angles, along the lines of what I wrote above. Go in and present those several angles to your boss.

      1. Jasnah*

        Agree wholeheartedly. It’s baffling to me to complain that all a guard does is “sit there”… that’s what you’re paying them to do! That’s like complaining that all IT does is “go on the computer.” That’s literally their job description and guards NEED to be aware and ready so that when something happens they can respond. Their job is to stand there and watch things. If you feel like you’re not getting your money’s worth because there are no incidents, that means the guard is doing their job well.

    15. ..Kat..*

      I think you should (politely) push this now. Once this change is made, it will be hard to undo. I think it is easier to push back now.

      Could you ask the contract company that provides the guards for more information about the value their company provides your university? They might have reasons/information that you have not already provided to the higher ups.

      If students knew about this decrease in security, would there be protests? Would the local news organizations be interested to know about the decrease in security during a time of increased violence/shootings at schools?

  17. CuriousKitty*

    Has anyone here ever felt like they’re just not cut out for the corporate world? I’ve done administrative work for over 20 years and I’m not sure if it’s where I’m working now or if I REALLY need to make a huge change and get out of the office environment all together.

    I can’t take the lingo, the politics… the ‘change management’ strategies that are never really used and the lack of common sense and respect. The spreadsheets to determine how humans work and how baffled people are that employees are unhappy… and now we need a consultant and a program and an acronym for that! How executives don’t get how out of touch and favored they are – and in my case, we are ‘supposed’ to be non-profit! We sure don’t act like it anymore.

    Am I the only one? Just curious… I’m worried I’ll leave the job I’m at now and just end up in another place that’s the same or worse. Maybe I need to think broader about making a change?


    1. My gov't name is Jen*

      Me. I left for-profit in 1997 and then graduated college right into non-profit and military. I wouldn’t know what to do in a corporate environment. I’d feel very awkward.

    2. Steggy Saurus*

      Oh yes, very much yes, I know I am not meant for the corporate world. And there’s a very disturbing trend in non-profits now towards adopting what seem like the worse examples from the corporate world. In fact, my employer too is headed down the same path, to the point that I have, in writing, warned HR about it. I think many employees knowingly accept lower salaries to work in the non-profit to escape the corporate world and when a non-profit starts heading in a corporate direction, staff start to think something along the lines of, “Well, if I’m going to be in a corporate environment anyway, I might as well get paid like it” and leave.

    3. LaDeeDa*

      My husband hates the corporate world and is no good at it, and hasn’t worked in it since graduating college 22 years ago. He is a civilian working for the military but works directly with the clients.

      I can’t handle non-profit, because the few consulting jobs I have had with non-profit were not good experiences and left a really bad impression on me.

      I think more than defining who- is defining what. What kind of culture would you like to work in? What kind of impact do you want your work to have? What kind of environment do you like to work in- do you like tasks, do you like creative, do you like autonomy, do you like working on a team? Defining what YOU like/want will you pick the who!

    4. Catleesi*

      I definitely felt this at my corporate job. I cared about doing my particular job well, and that my team felt supported, but I 100% did not care if the business did well. I wasn’t invested in whether profits were up, or how many new clients we got. The mission was not something I felt strongly about, and successes never ended up benefiting me anyway. I transitioned into higher education – and while that comes with its own issues, I definitely feel like what I do matters to me and it makes me happier.

    5. I See Real People*

      You’re not alone Curious Kitty. I’ve been thinking about buying or starting a florist. I’m not particularly the creative type, but this toxic office environment that I’ve been in for three years is just getting worse. I feel like I’m doing my job better and better, but the people I work for just get worse and worse with regards to professionalism, honesty, respect, etc. I’d like to be surrounded by flowers or something as pleasant with a good profit margin.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      All the things you’ve listed are why I don’t do well in “big business” and have opted to be in small business. Since I don’t do “rigid” structure or strict “policies” kind of things. I’ve always had the ability to glide in and out between office and shop work to keep me sane. All my coworkers are relatively happy and management teams are always grateful for their solid staff, making sure to treat them well and have their backs, etc.

      I’ve never used spreadsheets to determine people’s work output, I can see it first hand by seeing orders are processed and being produced and shipped. We don’t use lingo and jargon. I talk to the CEO like I talk to the CSR and I’m “HR” and nobody is afraid of me, they know I’ll make things better or find some kind of compromise. Nobody has to worry about telling someone to “stop” doing something that’s obnoxious or dangerous, without having to go tag a “supervisor” to do it, etc.

    7. Kenzi Wood*

      Me! I only spent 5ish years in a 9-5 before I started freelancing instead. And let me tell you what—I’m so much happier. Sometimes you just need to blaze your own trail. :)

      With your admin experience you could be a VA, work from home, and set your own hours. Oh, and any time a client doesn’t work out, you can fire them .;)

      1. RemingtonTypeType*

        I struggle with freelance VA. The only place I’ve had nibbles is upwork, and it seems like the people there want to pay pennies for skills. So frustrating! And it’s hard to compete with people who are offering to work for pennies. Is there anywhere good to look??

    8. AudreyParker*

      Definitely! My current solution (job searching) is to look at smaller companies and certain industries that are less likely to function that way. I have tried to be open minded, but keep finding I really struggle in the larger corporations at this point, no matter how much better the pay is.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Small companies can have great pay! We also have insurance and other benefits, don’t let the “startups” scare you away or make you think that they’re going to only be able to spring for a beer fridge or something like that as your “benefits” ;)

        You’re more likely to find somewhere that really appreciates you because you’re able to see the owner/operator and build a relationship with them.

        From having salary data from Alison’s recent gathering and also our local radio station does it too…it’s a fallacy that corporations pay more. Unless you’re super high up that is. I mean like Mega Corp stole our marketing person and yes, that meant a huge pay bump but also a huge increase in hours and red tape and other things that money will not save you from the nervous breakdown I’ve heard that other place can create =X

        1. AudreyParker*

          Good to know – my last gig was at a small company that paid terribly (I didn’t really have options at the time), but the upside was that they were more open to hiring someone with my scattered background, as well as give me exposure/experience in areas of the business that would have been closed to me in a more structured and corporate environment. Downside is I’ve had a very difficult time finding anywhere else that appreciates that experience after being downsized, and most of the ones I’ve seen that pay well do so for higher level roles than what I think I’m eligible for. But I still think it’s the most promising option for me!

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            You want to look for a healthy, “older” small business is the key. The ones that tend to fail you most are the ones who are poorly structured and cash poor for various reasons [usually bad management].

            I would need to know more about your background and experience but you may be selling yourself short in terms of positions that you think are higher level roles. It’s much easier to be the “director” or “manager” of an entire department or even close to executive level because there’s much less in the scheme of things that you need to know. You’re still going to be able to have the access to an attorney, CPA or access to a government office kind of things to assist you in most things. A lot of it is just the power of knowledge and the ability to find the answer/lead the ship and keep up to date with how things need to be done/show you have the decision making skills, etc. That’s STRESSFUL though to a lot of people and if that’s the case, that’s totally understandable. But please don’t think that you’re simply not capable of it in a skills based term, you know?

            I crawled my way from an accounting assistant for this rinky dink place, to business/ops management and can double as a controller depending on what they want from me at any given time. So if this raggamuffin can do it, you can do it too.

            But it’s all about that “clicking” factor and what makes you happy and what you want to do! But then again, I cannot be hired by a mega corp for what I do because they’re sticklers for those pesky degrees. Despite the fact that I’ve had to fire people with more education than I have who can’t do my job, go figure.

            1. AudreyParker*

              Good to hear from someone that’s worked well for – I have to work hard not to think my experience necessarily reflects the only experience. I was working for a newer company that definitely had issues, so not terribly surprising things did not go optimally, even though it was very good experience (despite what recruiters seem to think). I do enjoy having to figure things out and problem solve, so it was nice having a lot of latitude there. I also get stuck in thinking that if someone does not give me the title, it reflects on my lack of ability vs the fact that there was no space in the org to make any changes, so that definitely makes it harder for me to suspend disbelief as I look for something new.

      2. MoopySwarpet*

        Small companies are a double edged sword if you want to branch out from your specific job description, too. As in, you will likely have the opportunity to dabble in other parts of the business (if only as a backup), but you may be “forced” to pick up slack in areas that wouldn’t typically be your own.

        I happen to love it because if I don’t like what I’m doing right now, I’m likely to be able to change it within a fairly short time frame.

        The potential lack of long term company viability is a concern, but in my experience, entrepreneurs are tenacious. Plus, they’re entrepreneurs at heart so if one company doesn’t work out, they’re likely to start another one in (possibly) a completely different direction. They’re still going to need support staff.

    9. Where’s My Coffee?*

      I’m so so tired of consultants and acronyms and “new” research on motivating employees, much of which will miss the mark.

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah. You want to motivate me? Be more flexible on working from home. Don’t tell me “but the collaboration!!!?!!” and then expect me to drive 30 miles in heavy traffic so I can sit at my office desk and call other people who also drove 30 miles in traffic to sit at *their* office desk which is a couple miles away from my office desk.

        Seriously? I love my job and the benefits and the people, but the antiquated ideas about remote work and dress code drive me nuts.

    10. Fortitude Jones*

      I hated all of this stuff too, so I found a remote job – so far, it’s been fantastic! I don’t have to deal with stupid office politics nearly as much as I would have to in an actual office and I can flex my work hours however I want – my manager told me she really doesn’t care what my hours are as long as the work gets done.

      1. Receptionist/Rocket Scientist*

        How did you find a remote job like this? I’m really trying to get out of my corporate job and into something remote-friendly for health reasons, but it’s been such a struggle. I’ve gotten interviews for full-time remote jobs, but they are ridiculously competitive and someone with more experience always wins out.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Any place is going to have some lingo, politics, lousy changes and ivory tower execs.

      For most of my life I avoided office work and now I have reached a point where I have to sit down sometime during the day. Perhaps it was stereotyping on my part but I could not stand all the encoded talking that went on in offices. Like Alison says, stop hinting, it doesn’t work. I am not patient with stuff like that, just say what you mean. I will never figure out your hints, I promise.

      It could be your sector, it could be your NPO, it could be your department. No way to really tell for sure. Sometimes all we need to know is that it’s time to move on. Start thinking about this by thinking about what you are naturally good at. If you like some of these things, then bonus. But keep to what you are good at first and foremost. This will put you in the direction of being successful in a new environment.

      I do agree with others who said they prefer smaller places. I have never worked for a big company, just local or regional companies with a small local branch. I prefer smaller ponds. Some places are less snippy than others. I tend to think the work at hand matters. I worked in a nursery for a long time. Plants seem to bring out the best in people. Then I worked in a regular retail store with shoplifters and all kinds of other problems that I never had to deal with when I worked in a nursery. I got sick of retail for all the reasons people have said for years here.

      Probably there are companies in your area that people seem to agree are preferred companies to work for. Ask around. You can see if any of these companies match something on your list of natural abilities.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      100% I feel like that all of the time. The corporate world in America is such a bunch of bullshit. Why can’t you just do your work?
      I actually like my work, it’s creative and interesting to me, but I loathe the corporate experience and politics.

  18. Rosie The Rager*

    How to deal with new co-worker’s family drama

    On Wednesday, my new co-worker was late for work. She called the office 30 minutes after her expected arrival and informed our supervisor that her ex-husband, with whom she lives and is reconciling, was in jail, so she felt overwhelmed and didn’t want to come into work.

    The boss persuaded her to come into work as a “distraction” from her drama, then proceeded to discuss the issues at length at full volume with “all needed love and kindness.” I was forced to listen to this because I could not access earbuds, headphones or any other noise.

    Given how tight my deadlines are for the 10 projects I’m currently overseeing, I have neither the time nor the patience to listen to someone’s family issues.

    Does the AAM community have any suggestions on being nice while asserting boundaries and staying on task? I don’t want to fall behind on my work or alienate a vulnerable person.


    1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      I’m so sorry for your stressful situation – unfortunately I need to get back to work, can you continue your discussion in (common area outside of work space if one exists)? Some people will probably think it rude, but as people here always say, she’s being rude and you’re politely asking for the rudeness to end without calling it rude.

      1. valentine*

        I need to get back to work, can you continue your discussion in (common area outside of work space if one exists)
        This is good, though the train-wreck boss may invite you to join in the love. *shudder* Is there a distant space you can work? Given the coworker’s poor decisions (cohabiting with an ex, reconciling, telling the boss they don’t feel like working)/stressors and the boss’ lack of professionalism or common sense (telling them to come in and then preventing either of them from working, doesn’t know the meaning of distraction), I’d be worried about other aspects of the job.

    2. Veryanon*

      Well, it wasn’t great that the boss facilitated such a conversation, so maybe starting with your boss is the way to go? It sounds like there were some boundary issues there.

    3. LaDeeDa*

      As the manager, I would have said: “Yes, please stay home and deal with this difficult situation.” Because you know that kinda drama is going to be all she can think and talk about, and I am not interested. UGG. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool’s script is perfect!

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes, your boss is kind of terrible for talking someone in distress into coming in. Not everyone is “distracted” by work [I say this as a person who worked all throughout my dad’s health crisis because I do need a distraction]! That was selfish behavior and she was ‘hoping’ that she’d get work out of a person who wasn’t in the right headspace for it. Now you’re in the middle of it.

      When someone tells me they need to stay home, I say “Of course, take care of yourself first.” and then if it were to become an issue with attendance, then we’d discuss it further on that front.

      I agree that you just need to respond with the “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Unfortunately I’m on a tight deadline right now and this is distracting from my projects, please use the conference room, etc.”