open thread – June 21-22, 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.

{ 1,777 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    I just got a job! Yay! But also it’s my first remote job, which I’m super excited about. I know some people designate an area of their apartment or house that’s “the office” (even if it’s just a table), and other people go out to co-working spaces or coffee shops. For people who either are working remotely or have worked remotely, anything else to think about? Anything you’d recommend?

    1. wittyrepartee*

      If you choose coworking spaces- go get a feel for the various ones in your area. My friend worked at a few, and found the crowd at some of them much more to her taste than others.

    2. Al who is that Al*

      Firstly I work to a rigid timeline. At desk for 9AM, lunch 1-2, finish at 5. Also I dress smart casual so that I feel I’m at work. Part of the stopping work ritual is to change back into my usual slob wear. Also I don’t check emails or anything afterwards. Its too easy to not be able to stop working

      1. londonedit*

        I did the same when I was freelancing. You’ll probably hear a lot of comments about ‘working from home, how great, sitting around in your pyjamas watching TV all day’ but the reality is that if your office is at home, it’s really no different from going to an actual office. I always found it really helpful to get up at a decent time, shower, get dressed – one perk was having a home-cooked breakfast and coffee at my desk while I checked my emails in the morning, but apart from that I started my day as any office worker would, just without the commute. I also made a point of putting my laptop away once my working hours were finished for the day.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I put my laptop away as well at night. I was debating with myself as to whether or not I should get a desk and set my stuff up on it so that it’s up and ready to go when I wake up; however, I don’t have the space for it so something in my apartment that I already love would have to go, and keeping my monitor and laptop out on a desk would probably ensure I’d be working when I don’t have to just because why not – it’s there. I think it’s best to just put everything away in the evenings if you can so you can detach and keep work from intruding any further into your home life as possible.

          1. JenRN*

            I’m the same. I leave the co-work space with enough juice in my computer to be able to leave the windows I need for the next day open. I then plug my computer in in leaving it in the bag (fan up) by the door and leave it! I also slip a list of to do items inside before leaving the co-work. Any add ins to the list are only sticky notes on the laptop cover. The only night where the computer gets opened again in the evening is the night the writing group meets.

      2. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        Ditto. I worked for about 7 years from home. I did exactly what “Al who is that Al” did. Before work get ready as if you were going to work in an office. Shower, dress in normal business attire, do your hair, etc.

        I strongly suggest having a dedicated room if possible. That way you will associate that room with work. Once you leave that room, you leave work. I even suggest closing the door to that room when you leave work and locking if possible. It is way too easy to end up working 12 hour days if you don’t physically separate your work environment.

        1. BethDH*

          I didn’t have space to do this, but I had a storage chest (like the kind you might put linens in at the foot of your bed). I kept all my work papers and laptop in there and was strict about closing it at the end of business hours. The visual cues made a big difference.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yeah, I live in a 592 sf studio apartment, so no doors other than the entrance, the ones on my three closets, and bathroom. I’m going to buy a storage ottoman to put my work monitor in it at night once my company ships my replacement out to me.

              1. Fortitude Jones*

                I slid it behind a piece of furniture, lol. It was an adjustable monitor that could be turned every which way and could be pushed down, so that worked.

            1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              My office set up is currently in my dining room, but I have a desk that completely closes up with doors. So after I’m done with work in the evenings, I close my laptop and extra monitor and all work papers up in the desk and I have my house back. It definitely helps with feeling “done” with work for the day.

      3. Person from the Resume*

        I designated my second bedroom as the office. I have an actual desk set up because I have second monitor and external keyboard and mouse and I only work from there. My second monitor is so important I don’t work from anywhere else. When I’m not working I’m hardly ever in that room although I do keep my rarely used personal laptop there and pay bills and stuff from the room.

        At the end of the day, I try to turn off my computer. It’s a sign that my work is complete and that I’m not just taking a break to come back later. When I am overwhelmed by too much work, my laptop is left on because I want to return to the task/document where I left off or I plan to return later after a break to finish up. Usually I didn’t come back later, but it left me feeling like I hadn’t done enough.

        I don’t work in my pajamas. I’m certainly not business casual, but I’m dressed and have completed my morning routine. I think it’s important to have a routine/ritual to mark the start and end of the day. Some people have problems getting started and keeping working throughout the day. I don’t do personal stuff during my working hours, certainly not watching TV (except on my half hour lunch) or napping. Some people have trouble stopping so it’s good to shut down and close the door to the office.

        1. Award winning llama wrangler*

          I am the same way with my second monitor! When I’m in our office and people are working from couches and/or beanbag chairs I think how I could NEVER do that, it would drive me crazy! I mean, it looks comfy and I wish I could, but nope. Not happening.

          1. Kat in VA*

            When I work from home, I literally work across three laptops. My second monitor at work is like gold to me.

      4. Fortitude Jones*

        I do the same thing, A1. I’m fully remote and work from my dining room table, but I still get up almost every morning and put on my business casual or business wear, do my makeup, and slip on some nice house shoes just like I did when I worked outside of the home. Doing so keeps me from climbing back into bed midday for a “nap” (I’m a germaphobe, so putting outside clothes in or on my bed is a hard no), which actually last hours, and puts me into work mode.

        I also make sure to take breaks during the day, even if it’s just to walk a few blocks to Starbucks for a coffee or to get lunch. I live in an apartment, so if I didn’t get out from time to time during the day, I think I’d go stir crazy. This also ensures I’m talking to other people besides my coworkers (I’m on a ton of calls for my job, which I now like, but used to hate).

      5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Its too easy to not be able to stop working

        Agree – never been FT remote, but I have WFH quite a bit and for a couple of years I had an extra bedroom that I turned into my office – I’d go into the office and shut the door so family wouldn’t bother me while I worked – it’s unreal how easy it is to forget to stop working.

      6. EngineerMom*

        I agree – when I work from home, I dress like I would for the office (business casual, generally slacks and a blouse), including my badge. I start work at 7, call in to my team’s huddle at 9, lunch at 11, done at 4. I take short breaks throughout the day when there’s a natural ebb in my tasks, sometimes to walk around the neighborhood for a few minutes, the “at-home” equivalent of walking between buildings at my company’s large campus.

      7. ProducerGalNYC*

        I agree with Al who is that Al. It’s very easy to sit down at your desk and never get up until the day has nearly ended. I set reminders to break for food, walk around my apt, and try to log off at the appropriate time. I also find that getting up and showering/changing right away helps me change my mindset, too.

        1. echidna*

          Yes, this. I do five minutes exercise every half- to 1 hour. Otherwise I simply wouldn’t move enough.

    3. Bend & Snap*

      have set work hours. it’s easy to let work suck up your evenings because you don’t log off at a specific time every day.

    4. Mary Smith*

      How much time will you spend on the phone? I used to go to coworking spaces, but because about 50% of my time is on the phone, I found I was spending most of my time in a tiny booth vs. being out with all of the other coworkers. Also, the few coworking places I went to people didn’t talk to one another.

      Other things:
      – Be very clear with your spouse that your work time is for your work. Sometimes I bend this like “Can you let the repair person in?” Yep, cool. But poking their head in being like “I’m hungry, can you stop working and cook dinner.” Cook it yourself if you can’t wait til I’m done.
      – Playing music helps me feel less lonely.
      – Still leave the house at least once per day. I go to the gym every morning and that helps a lot. Or, I’ll run an errand on my “lunch”
      – When I’m working on solitary projects, I literally set the timer on my phone for 20 minutes. When it dings, I gt up and do something for 5 minutes around the house. Get a snack, unload the dishwasher, play with the cat, etc. When the 5 minute timer dings, back to work. I’ve found I’m much more productive this way.
      – Use chat to still visit with your coworkers, especially if the majority of them are in an office. You need to still develop personal relationships.

      1. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

        All brilliant ideas. I think I would go for an hour rather than 20 minutes but having set breaks could be helpful. Whatever works for you and whatever you would do if you worked in an office.

        I also fully agree with getting out of the house at least once a day and making sure your SO knows that you are at work and are not to be disturbed unless it is something they would call you at work for if you worked in an office.

        Further, for me, it was even more important to get out of the house at least a couple of times a week during the evening. My wife loves her “along time” and if I didn’t get out from time to time, it would drive her crazy.

      2. LadyByTheLake*

        Everything Mary Smith said. Perfect.
        Also, if you will be spending a lot of time on the phone, make sure you have a top notch, extremely comfortable wireless headset. That will be worth every penny you spend on it.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Or a Jabra conference speakerphone. My company gave me the option of this or a headset, and I chose the speakerphone because you can plug it into the laptop and the sound quality is amazing – I can talk from clear across the room while standing at my balcony door to get some sunshine and everyone on the other end of the line can still hear me clearly.

      3. Name (Required)*

        OP – Congrats!

        I worked FT remote for 1.5 years (now just 1-2 days wfh/week for ~6 months). The “leave the house every day” rule was so critical for my mental health that I ended up getting a dog for the companionship + literal need to leave the house daily.

    5. Everdene*

      Congratulations! Try and build some face to face contact into your week where possible. Remote working can be great but lonely if you don’t have plenty of social interactions for whatever your level is.

    6. SpringIsForPlanting!*

      Engage in brief ‘water-cooler’ chat with colleagues where feasible. It feels weird at first doing this over chat or on a call, but you don’t actually have the natural opportunities to make those personal connections otherwise. Remaining a “person” to your colleagues as opposed to a voice on the phone or a name in an email (a) improves your work experience but also (b) improves your working relationships and thus your ability to get work done effectively.
      To that end also–try to visit the office, if there is one, at least once or twice a year.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I’m actually traveling to my company’s headquarters Sunday to spend the upcoming week there (it’s in another state). My boss is coming from overseas and we’ll be able to onboard my new counterpart and have face time with two more of our team members – the other six members are spread out across the US and various other countries around the globe. I’m interested to spend the week getting to meet other people I’ve been collaborating with; however, since my company is global, I still won’t be meeting even a tenth of the people I work with on a regular basis.

    7. Miss Vaaangie*

      When I worked from home, I coworked at a space that a friend owned. It was nice to have a place to go, but I had to drive too far to make it worthwhile. I appreciated being around others, but also know that cowork spaces often host events that you can participate in, but they might also disrupt your work. I hate coffee shops because you can’t leave anything when you need to go to the bathroom, their tables/spaces are remotely comfortable, and it gets very loud in most of them.

      Priority is creating a schedule, assuming you work the same of your coworkers. Make sure you leave the house – short walks, lunch time whatever.

      Always get dressed – it’ll make you feel productive. It obviously doesn’t have to be work appropriate but get out of your pajamas.

      Is this contract or W2? If contract, make sure you keep track of taxes and office use. If W2 – are you technologically set up to communicate with your workplace and keep those costs hands for tax time. Are they providing it or are you – phone, computer, wi-fi, etc.

      have fun and congratulations!

    8. Don't you be that kind of barn owl*

      I’ve not heard of “co-working” spaces. What are they? Do you pay some sort of rent or user fee?

      1. De Minimis*

        Yes, they’re spaces where desks and/or small offices are rented out, usually monthly. Wi-fi and other amenities are often provided.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m coming up on 5 years of full-time remote work. I think the most important thing — know thyself. What I mean by that is, figure out what works for you and stick to it. Some other folks here are strict on scheduling, always dress for work, etc, and if that’s what you find works for you, go for it! I, on the other hand, am doing 1:1s today in orange fleece pants and a red t-shirt with a rather untidy bun (held up by a tiny cutlass!) and I haven’t left my house since Sunday, and if I tried to dress up for work it’d drive me bonkers because to me, one of the advantages to WFH is that I can get dressed in the dark and my dogs don’t care. :) I do stick more or less to the same schedule, and another advantage is that I can work early and be done early. I get up at 6:30 and am logged into my work computer by 6:40 most mornings, and then I’m done working and in my living room by 3-3:30 and have the whole rest of my day — infrequent on-site days, I get up at 6:30 and I’m not even started working til 8, leaving til 4:30 and home til 5:15-5:30.

      For me, the important thing that I discovered was that I can take two minutes to do something housework-like – throw in a load of laundry or whatever – but anything more than that, and it daisy-chains into an hour of housework before I realized it.

      Also, people in your life will forget that while you’re working from home, you’re WORKING, not just twiddling your thumbs on the couch.

      From a practical standpoint — what are they supplying you with? I get a computer/docking station/monitors, plus they offered me keyboard/mouse/headset (VOIP phone runs through the computer) but I chose to use my own because I’m picky about peripherals. Anything else I think I need is on me. Do they cover any sort of internet stipend? (mine doesn’t.) What are their policies about your workspace? Mine requires a room that nobody else is regularly hanging out in while I’m working (door not mandatory; my office used to be my house’s second living room, but I work with medical records, so can’t have other people looking at my screens, and I can’t have a printer hooked up to my work computer either), a fire extinguisher, verification that my home/renter’s insurance covers the work equipment, high speed wired internet, and that I cannot be the only caretaker for children under 12 while working. How much flexibility DO you have on your schedule? If you have to book an afternoon appointment, do you have to use PTO for it, or can you just work five hours before and three hours after and call it good? Do you have to stick to a set of office hours or core hours? Will you have other remote teammates who choose to work evening or weekend shifts regularly instead of bankers hours, and how does that impact what you need to do if at all? How often does the whole team get together in person for anything?

      1. Triplestep*

        I agree with this. Not all the rules work the same for everyone.

        I am still trying to figure out what works best for me from all the common wisdom (started this job in February) but I saw early on that carving out 8 consecutive hours was not going to work. First, very few people with whom I interact are in my time zone. Most of them are six hours ahead in Europe, and plenty of them are in Asia. I can’t rely as much on e-mail since it could take a while to get (or provide) an answer, so I need to be on chat or a call at off times. I also have way too much on my plate, and I work for a large consultancy, so no one really cares how much is on it. You just have to do it. So I know I’ll be working some this weekend, for example, but due to the time zone thing, Friday afternoons are dead so I can start to wind down if I want to.

        I do have a space in my house just for my “office” but I am lucky as an empty-nester I really have my choice of spaces. My basement is dry and cool so the old playroom is my office right now. But when it’s heating season again I will move up to my son’s old bedroom. (I use a space heater – can’t see heating the whole house when I’m the only one here.)

        When I had a killer commute, I spent a lot of weekend time cooking lunches for the week to take with me. Well, I am back to doing that because having a full kitchen with nothing to simply grab saw my eating habits decline. I have found that just because I have access to a full kitchen doesn’t mean I want to take time to actually prepare something – as others have pointed out, it is harder to get back to work when you take breaks for household tasks.

        My rule for getting dressed is that I want to be presentable should someone come to my door, or if I go out to chat with one of my neighbors, or if I decide spur of the moment to run an errand. For me this has meant track pants because I work at a standing desk and I often will start to march in place or do squats to keep my blood flowing. I did do the timer thing, and I’ll probably try it again, but I found it interrupted my train of thought.

        Good luck, and congrats on the new job!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I also have a space heater in my office – I keep the thermostat during the winter daytime at 66, the same way I would do if nobody was home, because my preferred temperature is closer to mid-70s, but I sure to hell don’t need to be paying to heat my whole house that way when I’m spending most of my time in about a twenty square foot space.

          So that’s another thing, OP — some of your home expenses will increase. You’ll use more electricity at home, probably a bit more water. More toilet paper :P You may find that your eating habits improve, when you have access to your own kitchen — but everyone else who lives in my house has a high metabolism, a very physical job or both, so we tend to have a lot of snacks, and I personally find it easier to resist the snack food when I have to pay for it out of a vending machine than when it’s just in the cupboard. :) So again, know thyself.

          Also, internet expenses — if you opt for a business package, your monthly cost will be higher and you may find yourself obligated to a contract, but if the internet goes down, you’ll be prioritized to get it fixed. If you stick with a residential package, you have lower pricing, probably no contract, but if the internet goes down, you’re hosed, and if you call up Customer Service and go “But I need it for work!” they’ll tell you too bad, you don’t have a business account, so wait your turn. Another difference is that residential usually has a monthly data limit while business doesn’t — with me working from home full-time and my housemate part-time, plus our regular usage, it bumped us over Comcast’s basic terabyte limit, so we pay additional for unlimited data. (“Are you sure,” asked the CSR, “Only about 1% of our customers ever get anywhere near the terabyte.” “Take a look at our account history,” I said. She paused. “…. oh. Well, let’s get that set up for you.” Not how I wanted to be one of the 1%, but hey, whatever. :) ) I ended up with residential package plus unlimited data, and we haven’t had more than a couple hours outage a handful of times in the last three years, but consider your experience. (Also, if your internet or power goes down, have a backup plan – library? coffee shop?)

          1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            Good advice on internet reliability.
            I’d suggest getting a cell phone plan with tethering enabled so you can hook up the mobile to your PC if the landline internet goes down. It may even be that the company pays for the mobile plan (mine does, but then I’m more working while traveling than either in the office or at home).

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        These are all great questions the OP needs to consider. My company has no real rules for working remotely, but we’re a software company, so we’re not dealing with other people’s personally identifying information. They also supplied me with all equipment (laptop, docking station, monitor, conference speakerphone, iPhone 8 Plus for travel [which they pay for in lieu of paying for my cheap internet]) and if I need any other equipment or office stationary (e.g. paper, pens, staplers, binders, folders, etc.), I can just put in a request, and they’ll send everything to me free of charge. Our handbook says all remote workers are entitled to the same office set ups as in-house employees.

        Since my team is global with time zones that don’t always overlap well, management allows me to make my own schedule and if I need to go to a doctor’s appointment or something during the day, I don’t have to use PTO since there are many times where I’m working outside of normal business hours in order to meet a deadline or attend a conference with someone in another country. It’s great!

    10. Anonymous Educator*

      These are all excellent tips so far! Thanks so much. And keep ’em coming if you have more. I’m taking notes!

    11. Booksalot*

      It definitely varies from person to person, so you will probably want to experiment.

      Against usual advice to “dress the part”, I find that working in my jammies keeps me grateful/motivated/cognizant of the opportunity to work remotely, so I do it intentionally. I do, however, follow common advice to keep a strict schedule to avoid time bleed.

      One thing to watch out for is that it’s so easy to let ergonomics slide when you work remotely, so I have to force myself to use a proper chair, good mouse placement, etc.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        When I worked from home, I kept a normal get up/shower/breakfast routine, but often just put sweatpants on after the shower, rather than “work clothes”! Making a firm transition in the morning was important to me, but not so important that I needed to be uncomfortable if no one was going to see me!

        1. KR*

          Oh me too. Totally agree on the transition. I’m in my underwear and a t-shirt right now. But I showered and put on makeup to signify I am ready for the day. Also means if I need to run to my office which is close by I can just put on real clothes and go.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have a couple folks on my team who go out and walk around the block before and after work to “commute” to and from “work mode” :)

          1. Triplestep*

            This is a good idea! I may try this – I was thinking of going to the gym before work, but being online early is important to me, so I haven’t wanted to take the time. A walk around the block I could manage :)

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I’d like to, but my dogs (who are excitable when doors are involved and don’t have particularly great leash manners either individually or in tandem, which is entirely my fault) make early morning walks a complicated notion. :) I usually go out for a walk first thing after I log off in the afternoon though.

        3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

          Yep, this is what I do. I get up and go to the gym, come home and shower…and then put on a clean set of workout clothes most days, occasionally I’ll wear jeans or a sundress. I’m comfortable, and presentable enough to answer the door or run out to Target after work, but nowhere near office-level professional.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I have recently been given the go ahead to work a few days remotely and have been experimenting to figure out what works best for me.

        I do not dress the part. I do find that taking a proper shower, eating breakfast, and staying in the office (an extra bedroom) keeps me on task, but sweats and t-shirts all the way.

    12. Constance Lloyd*

      I’ve worked from home for 3 years now and I break all of the rules- Sometimes I wear real clothes and sit at my real desk, but today I’ve been in bed, in my pajamas, working away. I do, however, have one silly ritual that I keep to: I have a work candle. When work is done, I blow the candle out. So while I do highly recommend wearing real clothes and sitting at a desk, at least at first, there are other ways to create a mental division between “work” and “home” environment.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        A similar suggestion someone made to me years ago is to take off your watch when your work day ends. Doesn’t sound like much, but I was surprised at how well it worked for me. Other techniques were the same as lots of people have suggested here: get dressed (usually jeans and sweatshirt, but fresh and clean), have a schedule (mine usually coincided w/ regular business hours for my clients), and take those short morning and afternoon breaks for a walk around the block in addition to lunch (I confess: lunch scheduled at the time the old Perry Mason reruns were on TV. Love those.) Sometimes if I got cabin fever I’d go to the main public library that had study carrels and work for part of the afternoon. Also: avoid buying cake just because it’s on special at the market, because it will disappear from the refrigerator fast and reappear on your hips and fanny.

    13. Emmie*

      An ergonomic desk set up is a must. I cannot stress this enough. I ended up injured from a poor office set up. It’s okay to work from other areas of your home, like your patio, for very short periods, but know your body. I am going on 7+ years of WFH with 4 years full-time remote.
      I also encourage you to set boundaries with family and friends. People are bold. They have a skewed vision of WFH flexibility. They will request to visit you during the day, to call you during the day, to work from the waterfront (pool, lake, ocean), to leave early, to watch their kids, to start dinner early, etc… I can go to lunch with people, but I cannot work poolside or from the sand in the ocean! I can’t even see my cell phone from the water! Know your own limits.
      Find out where your fellow remote coworkers live in conference calls – even after you’ve been at the company for years. I found a few people lived close to me, and we get together periodically.

      1. Michael Valentine*

        You are so right about ergonomics. I have messed up my neck using a weird couch/side table set up.

        1. Emmie*

          I did the same with my shoulder because I didn’t have a pull out keyboard. I’m sorry you had the same experience, Michael!

    14. Michael Valentine*

      I’ve worked from home for 3.5 years now. My habits have changed over the years. I do try to have some rituals in the morning to get in work mode, but I’m not strict about it.

      Boundaries have been my biggest challenge, both with work people and personal friends. For work folks, it got to where I was pretty much on call because I made myself so available. These days, I make sure to have a hard stop between 5 and 6 every day–someone can text me if something is a true emergency. Guess what, there have been no true emergencies.

      As for friends and family, though, it is still a struggle to impart that I DO work and that my flexible job doesn’t mean I can be gone all day or just skip hours all the time. A family member mentioned recently that she didn’t sign my husband up for something because he works, so I was signed up instead (and the timing was terrible). Uh, I do work-she just “forgot” since I don’t go into the office. I’m also on the PTA board, and they assume I can just come and go as I please. Folks, I put in 50 hours a week at my job minimum. If I’m at the book fair all day, I will then have to work all night…

      One side note: I do have the TV on sometimes because the silence is otherwise deafening. The price is right at low volume makes great background noise for me!

    15. Queenie*

      I found it helpful to create a routine that worked for me. My job was extremely flexible hours wise but as a more rigid 8-4 person I found it helpful to make my own work routine and stick to it. I never really dressed up for work, as the type of work I did would be odd to come in business casual even in an office, but honestly found it helped shift me into “work mode” changing into comfy work clothes before I started, and into pjs (or something else) when I was done for the day. Also if you can, lock your office or store your work stuff somewhere out of sight at the end of the day! It really helps separate.

    16. Xingcat*

      Take your break time! It’s far too easy to just put your head down and work through lunch, through the times in the day where you’d stop by a coworker’s desk to chat, during the times when you’d head out of the office for a few minutes to run an errand, when you’re trying to show productivity at home. Stop and start on time, as well. I found myself picking up the laptop and working a full extra hour or two before I normally would because it’s just as easy to start as it would be to not, and that can really eat into your time and make you burn out quickly.

      1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

        Yes! I’m really good about not working late, but I’m bad about starting early! I will often just start work a good hour and half before I need to. Definitely something I’m working on.

    17. Jana*

      If you decide to work at home rather than at a co-working space, something I think is useful is adding “commute” time to your day. For me, that means going for a walk (even if it’s just around the block) before my start time and then going for another walk at the end of the day. That routine just kind of puts me in the mindset of being on my way to work and on my way home from work.

    18. New ED*

      We had an intern last year ago was assigned to write an update for our website on an event we participates in and she attended. She did not even get started on it because she was “afraid of receiving a lot of edits and corrections” on her draft. Instead she spent two days reclassifying a whole set of information in a database we used regularly because she thought she had an idea for how it could look more consistent. She announced that she’d done this the next week and was shocked that we were horrified instead of grateful. She then got to sit with the person whose job it was too manage this database for hours to help him figure out how to undo everything she did because what “looked more consistent” had nothing to do with what our organization actually needed the data for.

    19. smoke tree*

      Unlike others here I definitely do not dress business casual! I dress like I normally would on a day off, though, not in my pajamas. I do have a separate work table and I recommend investing in a decent monitor and office chair. I’d also recommend using your lunch time to join a class or something social, if you can. Good luck! I love working from home. I feel like it gives me a lot more free time–no commute, no wasted time in the morning, no time in the evening spent preparing lunches and that kind of thing.

    20. Database Developer Dude*

      Invest in a good pair of headphones. If you telework from a coffee shop, they’re going to save your sanity.

  2. Seifer*

    It’s officially summer, and so starts summer intern season! We currently have one intern in our department and he’s okay, if not a bit of a… gumption-y type of guy. Day one started with him being introduced to a process and asking why we don’t do it this way with this other program that he took a class in last semester, and insisting that he can overhaul the whole system if someone gives him access to it, don’t worry! We… inherited the system from the client, who likes the system and wants things submitted that way. We know it is a hassle. But like. Please do not.

    Any other intern stories? I always find them interesting since I was far too meek as an intern to be that memorable. Or so I think….

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      I once had an intern tell me after training him on a task that he took this internship to be part of X group not my group so could I take him over there now?
      He was not hired by X group because X group doesn’t have interns due to rigorous credentialing required to work there. He never talked to anyone from X group but they are fairly well known in our area so he knew where they worked and just decided once he got the internship he could choose his group from there. Its true that X group was part of the financial group umbrella but you don’t get to pick your assignment…we do.
      He was not asked back or offered a position after the internship. We were even nice and talked to X group about a project we knew they had coming up and if he could help on some of the low level stuff. They were not impressed with his skills or attitude since he kept showing up to that area every day thereafter and had to be sent back to us.

      1. Seifer*

        Oh man haha! We had something… kind of similar? happen last year. We were deeply entrenched in engineering a thing that requires a clearance to even know about and so had our intern take care of the regular stuff. He was adamant that not only should he be allowed to work on the stuff that we were working on, he should be in charge of it. When we pointed out, uh, you don’t have a clearance? Also you’re doing terrible at the stuff that we’ve actually asked you to do? He said we should just get him a clearance. We said no, because he’s only going to be here for a few months and that’s pointless. So then he sulked for the remainder of his internship and didn’t do anything.

    2. Auntie Social*

      It’s going to be a loooong summer for you. I told interns that it would look better if they learned multiple systems/programs because it would make them look more flexible, after I tired of being told by 20 year olds that we were “doing it wrong”. The last one who thought he was God’s gift wanted to “effect policy” and announced that to a name partner, and asked when he could do that. “When you have your own firm” came the answer. After that he was allowed to do nothing interesting.

      1. Seifer*

        Hahahaha oh god that is amazing. And oh, I hope the summer is long, I’m not ready for cold again, but at the same time, if I have to keep shutting this intern down I will lose it. He calmed down after the first few days though, so hopefully it’ll just get better from here.

      2. Entry Level Marcus*

        To be fair, young people receive a lot of advice from parents, career counselors, and even some internship managers to be “entrepreneurial” and to make a difference in the place they’re interning. I remember having a manager at one of my internships tell me to be more entrepreneurial, though I received little guidance on that front and the few ideas I had were shot down (which is bit frustrating, but mostly fine by me as I prefer to keep my head down anyway). I feel like people like the idea of young people being entrepreneurial more than the reality.

        1. C*

          Ugh. I’m not entrepreneurial. Not everyone is. In fact, we wouldn’t want everyone to be, so why would anyone think all interns should be? Ugh.

            1. College Career Counselor*

              Well, yes. But you can be entrepreneurial within your organization. But you’ve got to know your role AND your audience. Individual contributor who is a subject matter expert and needs buy-in from other people/departments (this is me right now)? YES. Intern just there to learn the ropes? NOPE.

            2. Artemesia*

              I have a relative who as a new trainee (not an intern) was put in temporary charge of a stodgy department of a big retail company in a big city and transformed it so effectively that it launched his career as a gazzilionaire and CEO by age 30. None of the other 25 or so trainees had anything like his career arc. It is hard to tell a newbie how to be the magic successful standout because most of the people managing him also won’t be that kind of success.

          1. Jill March*

            I’m not even sure I’d know what that meant. I know what the word means, but not how that would translate to workplace behavior–at least outside of an MLM. I know now how to ask follow-up questions to figure out what the manager is looking for, but when I was intern-age? I’d be super frustrated.

            Makes me think there’s probably an equally rich trove of stories of bad internship managers from former interns.

        2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          I worked for one company that proudly described itself as “entrepreneurial.” In reality, that meant “whoever yells the loudest gets their way.” The loud yellers that management were most likely to view as up-and-comers were young 2os, not long out of school, very good-looking. and usually male.

      3. Liz*

        I LOVE the partner’s response. And also that he wasn’t allowed to do anything interesting anymore.

    3. CapeCodGal*

      I just had an interesting intern experience today!

      We’re training a new group of summer interns and arranged a lunch and learn type meeting with a Senior Director on our team to give them a chance to ask questions/meet someone higher up in the organization. She gave a brief presentation on how our clients work and opened up the room for questions. One of the interns raised his hand and asked how often they would be drug tested! The director was totally stunned.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Well, one needs to know if you can wake and bake before work.

        My sister who hires says that question comes up more than you think.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        Holy cow! That’s a good introduction and first impression to the Senior Director. Lol!

      3. lulu*

        ha, that is priceless!

        It would be a kindness to sit down with the intern afterward to explain that you need to tailor questions to your audience, HR vs senior management vs colleagues, etc. Hopefully in 10 years time they can look back at that moment and laugh/cringe when they realize what they did back then!

    4. Ann Perkins*

      We had a summer intern once who would repeatedly not come in for the hours we told him to. It was his version of gumption-y to show up much earlier than we told him… so if we said 10-2 he would be there at 7:30 before we even were! He was there for admin work so it didn’t really matter which hours he was there, except we usually didn’t have anything for him to do that early, and we would end up sending him home by lunch because there was nothing to do and we weren’t going to pay him to just sit around. It was odd – I can’t imagine showing up hours different than what I told.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I had this happen on the first day of the internship. We had about 4 interns all starting on the same Monday morning, we told them via email not to show up til 9 am. All 4 of them showed up between 8:20 and 8:40. That was waaaay to early for me. I am usually the first one in the office at 8ish am, but most everyone else does not show up til 9 am. I have a usual routine, of making coffee, eating breakfast, catching up on email. They interrupted that routine. That morning I had some substantive work that needed to be done first thing, in addition to printing the new hire paperwork for them to fill out.

        I was able to pull some stuff together, but they had to sit around with not much to do after they filled out all the paperwork til about 9:15/9:25.

        I think towards the end of the internship I am going to tell them, that it wasn’t a huge deal, but that they should not show up more than 10/15 minutes earlier then what they are told, or if they are paranoid about the first day wait at a coffee shop near the site.

        1. mcr-red*

          They sound like my husband. He’s obsessed about getting wherever we’re going on time, which that’s fine, except he always misjudges how long it will take to get there, so we usually end up places a good 20-40 minutes early! That’s fine when we’re going to a movie at the mall, not so fine when we’re going to a friend’s house who lives out in the middle of nowhere and there’s nowhere to kill time but their driveway.

        2. TechWorker*

          I think this one is common and pretty understandable to be fair! They’re super paranoid about being late, which translates into ‘20-40min’ early…

        3. Federal Middle Manager*

          20-40 minutes early is not outrageous. They don’t know how traffic, parking, security access, etc. work. There are a lot of unknowns on a first day and, of course, they don’t want to be late.

        4. Prawn to be wild*

          On a first day they should show up at the time they’re told and not one minute early.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Funny, there were been temp jobs I used to work at where I would have been fired for not being 10-15 minutes early.

            1. Jasnah*

              Agreed, I wouldn’t penalize someone for not coming 10-15 min early, but I would note that someone came right on the dot…is that intentional precision or luck? Are they going to leave right on the dot too?

        5. Moocowcat*

          Oh, my sympathies. I could have been that intern. I was taught to always show up for work 20 min early. There would be time to take off my coat and otherwise prepare for the work day. If a bus happened to come early, I totally could have been at a place 30 to 40 min early. It’s good that you told the interns about how time actually Works at your employeer.

        6. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          OP, did you communicate a time range clearly? Otherwise they will of course err on the side of being early.
          My last internship was 33 years ago. I’ll still be early for client appointments, especially when I go there for the first time so I do not know enough about real traffic time, parking, security etc.
          I can always wait at a nearby coffee shop or reception (of course I’ll tell the receptionist that I’m early and do not expect my host to be ready).
          Still if the message was to be there “between 9 and 10, not before 9”, then I’d do my best to arrive in that time frame – aiming for around 9:05, I think.

      2. BigRedGum*

        ack! that’s so odd. I used to work in retail & people would do this. we’d have to tell them to go shop elsewhere or hang around outside until their shift started.

    5. AnnieOnymous*

      I’m more worried for our intern that just started than the other way around. She was put in an empty cubicle near a “Debbie Downer” guy that is telling her how awful the company is and what a bunch of idiots work here and examples of how he’s had to fix other peoples mistakes because they’re so stupid. Even if she understands to take his observations with a grain of salt, surely she wouldn’t want to work with such an annoying DD. She’s got a formal mentor that is pretty good so here’s hoping it works out!

      1. KTBot*

        I was that intern… my cube-mate had already given notice (which felt like >2 weeks based on how long i shared a cube with him…), but he basically told me how terrible it was to work there. Luckily my mentor was awesome and I got to know a number of other employees and decided that it was mostly a case of bad fit for that guy.

    6. philosophical_conversation*

      When I was an intern at the company I now work for, we had one ridiculously entitled intern, Fergus. It was really unfortunate because he had an awesome mentor who was a great resource and incredibly well liked. But Fergus, man, he had no idea how an office worked. Where we worked, we were lucky enough to all have private offices, even as interns. However, only a half-dozen or so have windows because of the layout the building. He complained to the office manger that his office didn’t have a window and that he needed to be moved to one with a widow, and that the AC in his office needed to be turned up higher.
      We were also in a group of five interns who were able to have a meeting with the VP of our division and Fergus spent half the time asking the VP about what job position specifically would lead to a management track and what the fastest way would be to move up the chain. Well, eventually Fergus realized that the position I was interning for would be the best starting point to move up in management, so he made it his goal to try to poach my job (internships at this company are basically viewed as a long job interview, so if you do well, you’re almost guaranteed a full-time offer.)
      Fergus was renting a room in a house with another intern and a couple full-time employees at the company and apparently as soon as he got home, he started badmouthing his mentor, the other interns, and full-time employees he worked with. I guess one day he started off on a rant about how he could do a much better job at a project that one of the full-time employees was working on (a large, difficult, and time consuming design).
      Needless to say, Fergus did not get a full-time offer.

      1. Scarlet*

        I would like more entitled Fergus stories please.

        Especially if you know where he is now? How it all went for him afterwards?

    7. Mary Smith*

      Ugh, I was that intern. And let me say that one of the best things that happened to me was that my boss pulled me aside and mentored me a lot, which I thank her for in my head often. She prevented me from making these mistakes at my first full time job.

      I think it’s important to remember that this is a learning experience for them and an opportunity to learn from mistakes before it can really impact their full time career. So please, please coach them.

    8. Kris*

      A few weeks ago I was in the middle of an involved discussion with my boss when our intern knocked on the open door, walked in, interrupted me mid-sentence, and began talking to my boss about an unrelated issue.

        1. Kris*

          Yes, I think this is more a personality issue than an intern issue, but it was certainly not a great way for the intern to make an impression on me.

    9. Dust Bunny*

      We (academic library) had an MLIS intern years ago who had Very Specific Ideas about what librarians and archivists should and should not do in their jobs. We’re associated with a large and well-established medical community but our department specifically is rather small so it’s a given that everyone has their job duties . . . plus whatever else falls in our laps (this week, mine included sweeping bugs out of overhead lights and unclogging a couple of toilets, although “other duties” are not usually that far removed from library/archive work).

      I’m an assistant, not an MLIS, so I’m supposed to get a lot of the semiskilled grunt work–scanning, putting stuff in clean boxes, reference requests, etc. But I came back from an extended weekend to find a bunch of notes and a series of forwarded emails waiting for me because Intern had decided that these were beneath an MLIS and she shouldn’t have to do them. Even though the point of an internship is to learn the job, and even though a whole lot of archivists are one-person departments (we call them “lone arrangers”). Apparently she expected to only work for places large and endowed enough to have a squad of underlings who would do this for her and would not require her input, ever.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        So what did you do? Did you do the work or talk to the MLIS or the intern’s manager and get the intern to do that work?

        1. Dust Bunny*

          I checked with my supervisor under the guise of asking him which things needed to be handled first, and he sent most of it back to her (a few things were complex and, since she had stalled the turnaround by foisting them off on me, needed to be done by someone who knew the archives better than she did. So basically I got those because, despite just being a lowly assistant, I still knew the job better than she did.)

          My supervisor is not dumb, though. I have since heard that she finished her internship with a somewhat strained relationship with the supervisor/department head and her immediate supervisor/department “second in command” because of her attitude.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          To be clear: She was generally very good, but inexperienced–because interns are–and maybe a big for her britches.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        As a librarian who plunged a toilet this week and cleaned up biological waste last week, I have zero patience for the “I’m too highly educated to do that task” mentality.

    10. mamma mia*

      You acknowledge the system is a hassle and you’re criticizing his “gumption” for making suggestions and offering to change it? That seems all sorts of unreasonable. Once, he’s told that the client likes it that way, he shouldn’t really push back but the initial comment strikes me as the kind of initiative I would want on my team. I would much prefer that kind of intern to one who just fades into the background.

      1. BethDH*

        I think it’s poorly handled by the intern, who should be asking rather than assuming. It’s different to say “can I ask why you do Process using Program A instead of Program B?” and to say “I can fix this in minutes if you give me access” — the latter really makes it sound like he assumes everyone else is stupid. Of course, a good mentor would ideally (given time) explain that kind of nuance to the intern, who is probably trying to prove his value and doesn’t realize how it will come across.

      2. Seifer*

        Eh, if he had made the comment after learning the system that would’ve been one thing, but we only got as far as showing him the excel before he interrupted, telling us it was inefficient and wanting to take on the whole overhaul by himself. That’s the kind of behavior that sends up yellow flags for me, since the work we do is pretty heavily regulated by the client.

        Taking initiative is all well and good, but there is a time and a place for it. I’d prefer he learn that first instead of having to worry that he’s going to take it upon himself to change the entire product and make us scramble to revert it before the hard deadlines we have. So we explained that to him and he’s gotten better, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to side eye him for insisting on a change before hearing all of the reasoning behind why it is the way it is.

        1. CC*

          “insisting on a change before hearing all of the reasoning behind why it is the way it is.”

          Oh, like those high level passing-through management types who swoop in and make their “mark” on a company by changing something, *anything*, in the first 3 months because it proves that they’re Good At What They Do, which is Changing Things.

      3. Admin of Sys*

        You’d rather someone immediately assume that the current process is incorrect because it is difficult and / or complicated and should therefore be changed before asking why the process is the way it is? I get that there are probably ‘Cut the end off the ham’ processes that need to be changed in any organization, but IMO good office dynamics involve asking why the process is the way it is, not assuming it’s incorrect.

        1. Mimi Me*

          Yes! At last job there were several employees who used this ridiculously old system and they decided to train a new employee on it for coverage. She didn’t like the system and made a huge stink about it, how it needed to be updated and how the company was backward for using it. Well, it was an old system, but it was also used by the government and without this system in place they would have been out of compliance and would have opened themselves up to all sorts of fines. Sometimes companies want to update but until the client does it first they’re unable to.

          1. Rachel in NYC*

            My office uses a computer program that we hate and periodically talk about replacing. But replacing it would be a massive undertaking in both time and money. (And there is agreement that if we do it, we need to move to a system that does exactly what we need it to do rather then 80% of what we need.) However, anytime we hire someone new we get comments about how horrible the computer program is.

            1. mcr-red*

              Ugh, we use a computer program that’s so old people actually ask, “That’s still around?” But the company’s not going to pony up the $ for new software, so here we are.

            2. Gumby*

              However, anytime we hire someone new we get comments about how horrible the computer program is.

              We use some software like this. But everyone everywhere comments about how awful it is. In fact, I introduce new people to it with some variation on “Yes, this is awful and out of date and a pain to work with but it’s what we’re stuck with.”

          2. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Lucky all she did was complain. This was a “new employee” rather than an “intern” story, but same kind of thing: newbie hire at a satellite office thought our centralized computer system took too long so he went in and disabled some of the features. Only it backfired, and not just on him. I sat next to IT and I heard them going nuts trying to fix this sudden problem from nowhere. They pinpointed it at the satellite office and called them. Smarty-butt newbie bragged about his improvements. IT head gave him a right earful about the company-wide problems he’d caused and to keep his mitts out of the system, and he argued with her about how slow the system was and did she think it was acceptable for him to have to wait and what else was he to do. Long story short, he lost the argument.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I had a similar thought while reading many of the comments on this thread. (Disclaimer: I promise I’m not a helicopter parent and no one at the company in question knows any of my thoughts about this) (Now the story) When my older son, who works in the same field that I do, was an intern at Large Software Vendor in our area (US northeast-midwest), he got written up for calling a piece of software code “bad code”. He was told he was being negative. The dev who’d written the code was no longer working with the company, which they’d left years ago. My son’s main takeaway from this incident was that he’s not a great fit for a large corporation that is set in its ways. That was six years ago and he’s been out of college 6.5 years and has been working at Silicon Valley startups ever since (one company in person and is on his second startup working remotely, where he and his partner who lives in CA are the two people starting the business). He is way better at his job than I am, was well-liked at his first job (which was where he got his current connections from) and tbh makes more than I ever will. And I believe him that it was bad code.

        We just got our first batch of interns at my current job; the workplace is going through a lot of growing pains and could benefit from a lot of process improvement and I for one would be happy to get input from the proverbial fresh pair of eyes – even if the eyes belong to an intern. I’m not saying they should burst into executive meetings and deliver their ideas to the CEO, but feedback is a gift. We put our interns through an interview process and had more candidates than open positions – we were screening for good fit and talent – I for one am willing to believe that these young men and women are talented professionals in the early stages of their careers, not cogs in our company engine, or blank slates that I’m supposed to write whatever I want on. (Jury’s out on whether I will be thinking the same way when the intern season ends, lol.)

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Um bad math above (never hire me as an intern). “he’s been out of college 5.5 years”, not 6.5.

        2. Seifer*

          I think that’s different. I didn’t mean to come off like… UGH, the interns are TALKING again, how DARE they. But I do think that they should learn when is a good time to give input. It’s like when I watch movies with my roommate and he’s like. What happens next? Why are they doing that? Where is she going? The movie will answer all those questions, okay, if you still have questions, ask AFTER the movie is over and you understand it.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Oh that I totally agree with! It’s a great skill to have. Give even the most valuable feedback at the wrong time/place/with the wrong tone and no one will respond to it.

            Haha, I am a very “oh no he didn’t!” “now why the HELL are you doing THIS?” movie watcher. I try to tone it down when I’m watching with somebody else vs alone :)

      5. Ethyl*

        But he’s an intern, who usually are not even done with their degrees and have zero job experience in their field. This would be pretty overstepping and rude from a new employee with a solid work history for the reasons mentioned (ask first, don’t assume people are idiots), but for someone who isn’t experienced and who hasn’t even finished their education it’s wildly out of line.

      6. Busy*

        You’re combining two different mindsets into one. You want people to make suggestions. Well thought out suggestions with an understanding of scope and goals and how that change will affect other processes. You do not want people running around demanding changes all the time to 1. stroke their ego or 2. implement changes that only benefit them. This creates actual literal chaos. I don’t know if you ever had to start working in a place who had encouraged a lot of dudes to run around doing what THEY want all the time, but its terrible.

      7. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’d rather assumed that we are talking about an ingrained process in a large company with many and varied reasons for using the system they have. We are probably not talking about showing people how to use lookup tables in Excel, but rather migrating an entire database from Access to a custom built system. It’s one thing to ask why a process is the way it is but it’s really arrogant to say that it’s unacceptable and you can fix it singlehandedly on your first day.

      8. M*

        I mean, look, when I was a new grad in my first job, I was hired at a charity that taught a particular skill set in underprivileged schools. The charity had very, very few staff with direct experience using that skill set; I was a globally-recognised expert. Day one, I asked them why they were teaching a particular skill in a way that was a good 10 years out of date – politely, but with a pretty firm undercurrent of “that’s something you should stop doing ASAP”.

        Sure, there are cases where interns or new junior staff have insight employees don’t have! But it was OK for me to do it in that case because I *had* the information I needed – I knew I was the expert and knew they were very much amateurs. (Unsurprisingly given they were trying to teach concepts they themselves didn’t know how to use, they were a traincrash in all kinds of ways, and utterly refused to make the many changes they urgently needed to to their training programs, but that’s another story.) Most interns are a) not interning in places where the staff have less experience or training than they do and b) are not actually top-tier experts. That means you *get* the information you need – and you do it professionally and politely – rather than jumping straight to assuming the people training you have no clue what they’re doing. Even when I *knew* they were doing something silly and could easily fix it, I approached it more softly than this intern seems to have done (“so, just how wedded are we to teaching this this way?” was my lead-in, from memory).

        To put it another way, you’re treating this like the whole spectrum is “fades into background” to “takes sensible initiative”. But there’s *miles* to go past “takes sensible initiative”, most commonly in the form of junior staff who see problems with *everything* and therefore are just a constant stream of “but we could do it *my* way” without any of the foundations to understand whether they’re making a useful suggestion. Constantly questioning systems isn’t very useful (even if the questions are the right ones) – the people giving you tasks have work of their own to do, and can’t spend all their time constantly explaining why things are done the way they are. And, for that matter, constantly volunteering to take on higher-level tasks, or creating their own projects is often unhelpful. Even if a task *does* need to be done, an employer isn’t necessarily going to want an intern doing it – they’re not there long term, there may be better trained staff to do it, it may require coordinating across multiple teams’ needs, it may just not be an organisational priority compared to other work. Interns who can’t pick their battles are absolute timesinks for everyone else, and this intern sounds very much like one of those.

    11. irene adler*

      Just wanted to comment: I’m taken aback at the number of narratives here where the intern informs employee(s) that they are “doing it wrong”. After disabusing them of such thoughts, do they normally get their minds straight? Or does this sort of arrogance continue?

      1. mamma mia*

        I’m taken aback that you’re taken aback.

        An intern is presumably being hired because the company thinks they may have something to offer; why would you be surprised if the intern expresses opinions or offers suggestions? There’s a way to offer suggestions that’s not disrespectful. The intern is there to learn, certainly, but that doesn’t mean that they’re arrogant if they think they have a better way of doing things. It’s possible that their way IS better. It’s also possible that it’s not. But you’ll never know if you’re dismissing that outright just because they’re an intern. They certainly don’t need to be “disabused” of their thoughts. If everyone at the company is doing things just because “that’s the way it’s always done”, that company is going to remain stagnant forever.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          I think there are reasonable suggestions by the intern, but in many cases I’ve seen, the intern is suggesting changes that have already been reviewed and determined to not be the best method to get the result. It is good that they are working on problem solving, but sometimes they think that the solution is so obvious and no one else has thought of it, when that solution has been thought of and discarded because it wasn’t the right solution.

          As others have said, it’s better to ask questions rather than jump in and tell people who have been working somewhere for quite a long time and have a lot more experience than you that you can fix everything that they are obviously doing wrong. The intern is there to learn, and yes, at some point they hopefully can contribute and provide some new ideas. But they have to learn the proper way to present those ideas and to understand that they don’t already know everything.

          1. philosophical_conversation*

            100% agree. I’ve had to deal with many interns who would rather show off how much they know as opposed to trying to learning how and why things are done a certain way. Of course there are good interns with new ideas, but more likely than not, an intern isn’t going to be able to come up with an idea that hasn’t already been brought up and discussed (for no reason other than their lack of time in the workplace).

        2. irene adler*

          Ask- don’t presume.
          That’s the take away message I would hope to impart to interns.

          1. irene adler*

            Hit submit too soon.
            We must comply with a host of federal regulations. Had a lab tech who decided such regs were getting in her way and needed to be dispensed with. Her argument was that she could get more work done her way rather than follow the way we’ve been doing things for 20 years. And wasn’t that more important to the bottom line than following some archaic federal regulations?

            I explained that our boss would do actual jail time if she continued to do this. Suggested we pose the question to him.

        3. New ED*

          We do hire interns because we think they have something to offer but that something is almost never ideas or suggestions for how we can improve things but rather ability to do research, data entry, write reports, etc. It’s pretty laughable from my perspective that an intern, or really anyone entry level will be able to provide useful suggestions on how to improve things in an organization. I think people need to watch and learn for several months before they are in a position to offer suggestions.

        4. Jadelyn*

          The problem is that far too many interns come in thinking they know everything there is to know and they just assume they can “fix” everything, without taking the time to learn and understand why the company does things the way they do. It’s grating and arrogant for some kid fresh out of school to try to tell you how to do your job, so people tend to not take it well. I don’t know why you’re surprised at that.

          The thing they need to be “disabused” of is not having ideas in general – it’s thinking that school prepared them for everything they will ever encounter and that they can waltz in anywhere and try to tell experienced professionals how to do their jobs.

          1. Prawn to be wild*

            “it’s thinking that school prepared them for everything they will ever encounter and that they can waltz in anywhere and try to tell experienced professionals how to do their jobs.”

            Exactly this.

            1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              Especially learning from academics who may never have worked in industry in their lives. Academics I worked with may have been well connected with industry, but as tenured professors in a completely different kind of work setting, they could give out some pretty bad advice to their department darlings on how to get ahead in the for-profit, competitive business world.

          2. Bunny*

            This is true but it’s also important to ask yourself why your company is doing things the way it is. I switched industries semi-recently, I had a lot of transferable skills but it’s apples to oranges overall.

            Well, after I asked some questions with a really supportive boss, not only did a lot of the processes within my (very small) department change significantly, while being told it has never run as smoothly as it has in years, if ever, there were some much larger changes because when people saw that my suggestions were being seriously considered, they had some great suggestions of their own.

            Fresh eyes and new ideas can be very important, I get that it can come off as arrogance, sometimes a lot of things are just done that way because they were just done that way. Like one significant change started with asking another department with “Is it possible to do X with X?” with the answer being “Oh, yeah, we have been doing that for YEARS, it’s fabulous, we’ve always wondered why your department does X the way it does but we didn’t want to get involved.”

        5. smoke tree*

          I think interns often have to learn the difference between coursework, where their input is part of the process and considered innately valuable, and professional work, where their input is only valuable if it’s relevant to the context and genuinely helpful. An important lesson to learn as an intern is how to sit back, observe, ask questions and do some independent research before offering up an opinion. Hopefully most of them figure this out after being corrected.

          1. Federal Middle Manager*

            This. Also, a lot of schoolwork involves thought experiments along the lines of designing a system from scratch, have unlimited resources for the newest/best practices, unlimited training time/budgets, etc.

            Real work environments are much more complex systems. Overlapping jobs have slightly different priorities. People learn and retain information differently. Some things might work great if the best person does them but need to be simplified so that multiple people can cover leave and vacation. Managers have different communication styles. THIS is what you really need to learn and understand transitioning from school to an internship or first job, and rarely does knowing the newest/best software have anything to do with it.

      2. Frinkfrink*

        My partner, a programmer at a university, works with student workers on occasion and their biggest complaint is that the students want to program using the newest and shiniest methods without (a) stopping to consider if said method was going to be around long-term or if it was going to be superseded by something else new and shiny in the near future (spoiler: it almost always is), or (b) not think about whether anyone else in the department (who was going to have to maintain said project long-term), would know how to program said new and shiny method.

        When my partner was hired, they had to deal with the fallout of trying to maintain a very large project (think one that was meant to be used by nearly everyone on campus several times a day) being programmed with methods that none of the staff members knew, and which fell out of favor a couple of years later. Why was a student coding it? Because this is academia, and student workers do a lot of grunt work.

        Recently another department on campus attempted to present my partner’s department with a project that had been coded by students as a class project, and asked them to maintain it. I am told the head of the department looked at it, saw how it was written, and sent it back with a terse “You made your bed, now lie in it” note.

        1. Frinkfrink*

          I lost the question while writing that out: nope, the arrogance continued with this particular student. The closest my partner came to losing it at work happened when they told the student to do something one way, the student came back with, “no, I thought about it, and I’m gong to do it this other way,” and after being told again “no, this isn’t up for debate,” the student said they’d emailed someone they knew, who had nothing to do with this job, and were waiting for them to say whether or not it was a good idea. My partner took a walk outside the building, then composed a careful email to the department head explaining what happened instead of yelling at the kid, but it was touch and go there for a while.

          Said student, after graduating, worked for a while at a small startup, then came back to apply for a job in the department. The head decided the student was owed a personal conversation about the job (and why the student was not in the running–basically the head wanted the student to have several more years real-world experience), and in that conversation the student was told the salary, average for this particular position in academia and good given we’re in a low cost of living area, somewhere in the $60-70K range, and the student literally said “Are you kidding? I’ve gotta eat!”

          1. Amethystmoon*

            I have to wonder what the intern was eating that he thought that wasn’t good. Was he going out every single night? I don’t make anywhere near $60k and I eat a lot of brown rice/quinoa, beans, frozen veggies, and canned tuna on a regular basis. Of course, I have student loans also. The place I live in isn’t a high cost of living area, but rent does increase every year, so I always have to give up something. But one would assume an intern would also have student loans.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        The “I know better” attitude continues for some, definitely. This month I had someone join a team that I advise – someone who has been with the company for a while and has specialized skills, but has not dealt with the bigger picture of the project that I’m in charge of and his team is assisting on. Since the week he started he has been extremely vocal in every meeting about how “easy” it is to solve an incredibly complex problem through easily-debunked suggestions, but he tries to frame any attempt to course-correct him as “negativity.” It’s more problematic than an intern spouting off because this guy has some cred built up and he’s saying things people want to hear (like who doesn’t want to hear that a challenging problem isn’t actually as bad as it looks?), but he still hasn’t learned to gather information FIRST before assuming he has all the answers.

        Suggestions and questions by anyone should be welcomed. Assertions by someone who literally just started that presume they know everything about why a decision was made and why it’s wrong and they can fix it… is just arrogance.

    12. Left a Good Job in the City*

      I used to work at a City dept. The only time we had interns in our dept were children of City bigwigs in other depts. I was an admin, so it was up to me to assign work to ours.

      – Every time I asked her to put put files back in the filing cabinet, she would come over and ask if “Mary Anderson” gets filed under M or A.

      – When she made mistakes, I’d tell her she had to re-do them and she would ask if she *really* had to, for example I had her do a mailing for official notices going out to City residents. She fed about 25 envelopes into the printer incorrectly so our logo was in the bottom righthand corner. Or she would fax something to the wrong number. No big deal, people make mistakes, but they needed to be corrected.

    13. Booksalot*

      A lot of our interns got voluntold to run Bring Your Kids to Work Day, and 99.9% of those interns were women. I feel badly for them. This is NOT what they signed up for.

    14. Sunflower*

      Truthfully, it’s because in school you’re taught to problem solve and fix problems and it’s very jarring to go into the real world and discover how often it’s very backwards at places. I don’t ever recall being taught in school that ‘well sometimes companies have to do things in X way because it’s always been done and higher-up is stubborn and it doesn’t matter if someone has a better idea.’

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Also, in school it’s rare that students ever really are expected to contribute to something that’s in “long term maintenance mode”. If students are asked to contribute to a project at a school, it’s almost always something that has the entire arc of the project, from start to finish, within a single class or year. They’re not used to working on things that started before they got there and will continue after they leave. If they are asked to work on something “ongoing” it’s something like the school paper or the prom committee, where you’re working on this year’s version of thing, which is distinct from last year’s and next year’s so it’s reasonable to jump in and make changes. I can’t think of a time in school where I was really asked to just do the next bit on a large, ongoing task. My summer jobs in high school were similar – I always volunteered or worked at some kind of summer science program for kids (several different ones), so each summer would be its own distinct thing that we were all starting at once.

        I remember it feeling deeply weird when I first took a regular office job and realized that this thing didn’t work that way and would just…keep going with or without me, and had been going long before I got there, rather than getting there just as thing were starting up for a new term. I’m sure on some level I’d noticed that my parents had jobs that weren’t broken into semesters like school, but it wasn’t really something I’d given any thought to as a kid.

        I can see why interns, who are used to always being in on the beginning of new, short-term projects in school, don’t see any reason not to re-work everything and use all new tools. After all, that’s pretty common for school projects. The different timescale and maintenance needs might be something worth explicitly pointing out to interns during orientation.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          That and also it’s worth mentioning that companies really like people with attention to detail, and checking over your own work for mistakes before someone else does, then actually fixing said mistakes, are the kind of employees that companies generally want.

        2. Owler*

          I agree with TDMSunday. They way that school projects differ from a job in terms duration is never really expressly covered in school, and the fact that one might be jumping into a work project that started before your tenure and is expected to last beyond it is really important. Important, not only for interns but also consultants.

    15. Admin of Sys*

      I think my favorite was the intern that came into our office and informed us he wanted to rewrite the university’s ERP system because it wasn’t working very well. He was absolutely correct that it was very broken, but the idea that he, with his undergrad in programming, was going to write a replacement for peoplesoft was…a little overambitious.

      1. Auntie Social*

        It’s the arrogance. It’s one thing to have learned the existing system and to memo your boss “I know that staff says this is a hassle, would XY work as a shortcut?” and another to present like “I’m here! I know nothing about your organization but put me in charge!”

    16. Delta Delta*

      Right on! I have a gumption-y summer intern story. A law firm where I worked for a while had summer interns. I got a case that needed certain information before we could move forward. I needed phone calls to Alice, Betty, and Charles to get corresponding pieces of information. Once those things were together, we could present information to the other side to get appropriate relief. This seemed tailor-made for the intern. He could make the calls, record the information and compile it into the appropriate format. An easy-sounding project but necessary due to specific legal issues. Should take 1-2 hours. (I could do it in less, but I’m accounting for intern learning time)

      Intern looked squarely at me and said, “yeah, I’m not going to do this. I’m really at my best when I get to argue in court.” I told the intern coordinator about this, and that I wasn’t giving this joker any projects all summer.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        “I’m really at my best when I get to argue in court.”

        Well then, how lucky you are to get such a perfect opportunity for you to improve your skills in other areas!

      2. Stephanie*

        I hope he got one of those “do nothing but argue in court as a first year associate” jobs that are so very plentiful.

      3. smoke tree*

        For someone so gifted, he did not fully showcase his powers of persuasion with this strategy.

    17. Bananatiel*

      I once supervised an intern that did not take direction– at all, really. And frankly, I got smarmy vibes from him and no one else saw it so I spent a lot of time exasperated by the whole situation. It was so bad that sometimes I caught him working on things he wasn’t assigned. I was convinced for a long time I was the problem and tried all sorts of different tactics, tones, phrases to deliver feedback and corrections and it all ended in me making the necessary changes on his work. After a whole year and a couple of professional development classes in leadership later, I finally realized it might not have been me (after all, I had no issues with our four other interns).

      I would *love* to have fired him except for that he had an incredible instinct for charming (and I mean that literally) the executive team above me so they couldn’t fathom why I had issues with him. I’m a little convinced my boss, at least twenty years older than the intern, had a bit of a crush on him because he’d occasionally drop mildly inappropriate compliments about her appearance. I’d regularly present her with clear examples of issues I was having with him and she’d defend him working on things he hadn’t been assigned by saying she thought he’d do better at the task than another intern anyway!

      I was hoping he’d move on to another internship but he stuck around for three years. Why leave when you’ve got it made? I actually left the job before he graduated. As you can imagine, my issues included feeling like I was not being heard, ha. I’m thankfully in a much better place now!

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        “What a lovely dress you’re wearing, Mrs. Cleaver.” If anybody remembers Eddie Haskell–nothing ever dies on cable.

    18. Rainy*

      We had an intern be mysteriously fired a few weeks into a year-long professional internship a few years ago.

      No one but the 3 intern program supervisors know why. I’ve been dying of curiosity ever since.

    19. Another Sara*

      About 10 years into my career, another team had an intern who attached himself to me and regularly tried to get me to do his work for him. I wasn’t on the team he belonged to, but I sat across the aisle from him and happened to be an expert on his team’s work because I had previously worked on that team.

      He would sneak up to my cube multiple times a day and hover silently in my blind spot until I noticed him. I kept asking him to knock or approach from the other direction or SOMETHING, but he wouldn’t do it. I eventually just started completely ignoring him until he spoke, at which point I would react as if he had just walked up (“Oh, hi Intern! What’s up?”). Once, he asked me how to print something from a particular program we used. I told him how to do it, and he said, “Can you just print it for me?” I said, encouragingly, “No, but you can do it! I believe in you!” and stared at him until he got uncomfortable and went away.

      Another time, he asked me if I had any siblings. I told him I had a younger brother. He said, “Oh, so your parents kept trying until they got the child they wanted?” I just said, “Wow,” and stared at him until he got uncomfortable and mumbled, “Just kidding…” I kept staring at him until he went away.

      1. LKW*

        As soon as he found out you were the older sibling he should have realized none of his nonsense was going to work.

        1. cmcinnyc*

          Truly. My brothers are twice my size but I am the boss of them, and they know and resent it.

          1. Clisby*

            Hah! My sister and I are the eldest of 6 kids. Our 4 brothers said I was the rulemaker and she was the enforcer. Hey, we did our future sisters-in-law a favor; we squelched any notion of male superiority.

  3. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

    So at the beginning of the year I had some serious feedback about being more approachable to my team. I took it on board and according to all my manager and coach I have developed massively. I felt like everything was going great. However, I had some feedback yesterday where two in my team when to my line manager in tears saying that they are struggling to build a relationship with me and that they find I can be unapproachable. Neither had said anything to me and apparently were too scared.

    Honestly I was floored, as not only have I been working so hard at being approachable, but I have been flexible and supportive of their respective personal issues. I think part of the issue is that my manager is super chatty, and will engage for hours in personal chat, so are the majority of the team. Whereas I can’t talk and work at the same time, if I do one it means I can’t do the other. Also (and this sound so dull) I like working more than chatting, and our team chats a lot. I mean for hours a day – allegedly while still working but I’m sceptical of how productive they are when chatting.

    Basically I’m not sure what else I can do to come across as more approachable – other than ignoring my work to chat with everyone? Does anyone have any foolproof ‘How to be approachable’ suggestions?

    At this point I am wondering if it is a culture/team fit issue – that I want to work rather than chat, and they want to chat rather than work.

    1. MuseumChick*

      Oh this is hard. We have a super chatty lady at my work and I find myself avoid interactions with her, or, when they do happen keeping my answers short because otherwise she could go on for 45 minutes easily. I can tell she thinks I’m a little off putting but I just can’t be as chatty as she wants to be.

      I think you are right that this is a culture issue. If you haven’t already, you could try a (in your mind) “scheduled” check in. You pick a time of day to ask your team things like “How are your dogs? Do you have any more cute photos? I love those!” Or, “How’d your son’s volleyball game go this weekend?”

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      The fact that your reports went to your line manager in tears suggests that something is really off — either your manner at work, or the strength of their emotional response to a minor unpleasantness. What is your read on these folks in general, beyond their chattiness?

      1. animaniactoo*

        Yes, that was my other question. In tears because they’ve “tried to build a relationship with you” and can’t? My first thought was to be curious whether that was a you or them problem, in terms of the level of response.

        IIRC, your managers are also the ones who want you to just keep being supportive of Fergus who can’t stay organized/do his job and not hold him to any accountability?

        Take a step back and think about whether your manager might not have dug into this well enough themselves.

        1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

          You do indeed! I think that on the whole my manager can sometimes cross the boundary of being friends with her staff. However, not with me as I do try and keep some distance.

          She did tell me to not worry about it for the moment while she digs into it, and I have no actions for the moment. Although part of me does wonder if my manager has perhaps not dealt with this correctly, as she has brought it to me without fully seeing if there is an issue.

          1. animaniactoo*

            Nah, you should know it’s happened so that you can also be on the lookout for anything, since you’re on the front lines there.

            Do think about things you can adjust (I mentioned a couple below, others seem to be making similar suggestions), but don’t go whole hog until you know more. Just take it on board that it’s there and may need some action from you to resolve down the line, and keep an eye out so you can do your own assessment of what effort you are putting into being accessible and whether others on the team seem to be coming to you without issue (as far as you can tell).

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          This 100% sounds like they are bullying you. “Oh my boss is JUST SO MEAN, I don’t know what I can do, I’ve tried SO HARD *sob* to have a good relationship with them (and I’ll leave out all of the nasty stuff I do to them when Grandboss isn’t looking)”

          1. Alice*

            What nasty stuff are they doing when Grandboss isn’t looking? OP said they chat a lot. That might not be efficient, but I don’t see how it’s nasty or bullying.

      2. Washi*

        Yeah, taking the OP at her word, tears seems very excessive for a manager who, at worst, sounds no-nonsense and down to business. Do they tend to be teary in general?

        If I were the OP and really had no idea what was prompting this, I think I would want my manager to gather a little more information. What specifically is the OP doing that is unapproachable? What would they like to see her doing?

      3. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        Well they both have some fairly major personal issues happening at the moment (as do I tbh). However, I’ve been supportive of them, and I don’t feel it’s been appropriate to tell them about my issues.

        My manager did ask them what they had been doing themselves to try and build a relationship, and they didn’t have great answers. They’re both really young so I don’t know if they realise it takes two people to make it work??

        1. LKW*

          This is going to sound like an odd question but how many years older are you? Because if you’re only a few years older, they’re likely looking for a more peer-based relationship. Whereas with more senior members of staff, they’re looking for more parental based relationships (aka “MOOOOOM! RDR isn’t being nice to me!!!”)

          Here’s what I do: At the beginning of every meeting, I say a ridiculously cheery hello. I ask everyone how they are – not individually but then I’ll say something about the weather, or a bird outside of my window or a picture I received of my nephew. I let the chat go for about 6 minutes because with my current client – that’s they typical meeting overrun time and by that point everyone is on the call. Other times I’ll ask people about their kids or pull some random fact about their lives out of my brain “Oh, is your wife done with the school year yet?”

          Then at the 6 minute mark I say “OK – let’s get this meeting started!”

          I’m on roughly 8 – 12 calls per day so if I do this for every meeting, it’s somewhere between 1 – 2 hours of my time, and I don’t do it for every meeting. But it gives everyone a false sense of how kind and outgoing I am when in reality I could walk away from all of them and not miss them for a moment.

          Sometimes you have to fake it.

          1. Name (Required)*

            Yup! My boss and I are both introverts, so we even think up smalltalk and write it into our version of the agenda to ask person about their sick dog or kid’s graduation, etc. It helps me a lot to plan both the time and the things that they’ll likely feel good talking about.

    3. Little Pig*

      Overall, I’m inclined to agree that this is probably a culture issue. You really shouldn’t be expected to chat all day long. In order to make it work, can you dedicate a short period time to high-quality chatting every day? First thing in the morning, before you turn on your computer, ask how people are doing, did they catch the game, etc. Maybe repeat after lunch. That should help you build some stronger social relationships with the team without sacrificing too much work time.

      The only thing that gives me pause is that your team members went to your line manager in tears?!? Having an unapproachable boss or team member can be uncomfortable, but not worth CRYING over. Something is off there. Are these two employees incredibly immature? If so, there might not be very much that you can do about it, imo. Kids will be kids. If they’re generally reasonable people, maybe there’s some truth in what they’re saying? At least, there’s something there that you’re missing. Is it that they need your input on something work-related and can’t get you to weigh in, and it’s affecting their ability to do their jobs? Or something? Could you have a mediated conversation through your line manager or HR to understand their concerns?

      1. MuseumChick*

        I once worked with a woman who would cry over literally anything. Have a stomach? Cry. Neighbor didn’t say good morning to her? Cry. Someone (me) resigned? Cry.

        I think, given that the OP says that her manager and coach both see significant progress in her indicates this may be a case of a clique-y work place when the other employee use work as social time.

        1. Prawn to be wild*

          “given that the OP says that her manager and coach both see significant progress in her“

          Sure, but.. they aren’t managed by her, and this is feedback from the people who are.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I’s feedback from people who are crying. Are they literally afraid to talk to their manager?

              1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

                Way “yeah!” on that. Unless something really ugly happened, which I’d think RDR would at least have some inkling of, the idea of multiple people going up the chain “in tears” sounds fishy. And if RDR is that bad, it’s not just a matter of being unapproachable but severely problematic in a way that the higher-ups would know about and deal with.

                “Unapproachable” can be a mushy criticism anyway. TBH, it’s the kind of crap term my boss pulls out of her hat when she wants to criticize me but doesn’t have anything specific. She usually uses it when she’d loaded me down with work that keeps me shoulder to the wheel and the sales reps are bent out of shape because I’m not holding their hands or doing things for them that they are supposed to do for themselves (like call IT when their laptops aren’t working).

        2. Frustrated Today*

          Yeah, I manage someone like this now. I’ve never experienced anything like it and it’s frustrating. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable or feel awkward the way it does some others here. The first time it happened in front of me I offered tissues. Now I just sit and wait for it to be over, and usually just ignore it completely. She admits that she cries very easily. It’s just the way she is. Although I’m seeing some improvement, which is nice. In a one-on-one meeting last week I could tell she was about to cry, but she held it together.

          Anyway, based on the age of these two people, it seems like a combination of not knowing how the manager-employee relationship works and maybe feeling hurt that OP doesn’t treat them like a friend.

      2. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        One of them is near enough, she turns 18 next month, the other is 21. (I probably should have mentioned that)!

        I have been trying to set aside some chat time with them, but sometimes my work requires focus at that time and I can’t break from it. Maybe I need to be more clear and say I’d love to chat, but right now I’m working on X task?

        1. Little Pig*

          Oof, yeah, it if they’re that young, they probably have no idea what constitutes a professional relationship, or how it differs from a friendship. This sounds like a conversation that would be best had by your manager.

          You don’t have to chat at the same time every day then, but just at A time. Whenever is convenient for you. I think it’s good to be clear like you suggested, but people like this will take it as an insult if you don’t pitch it exactly right. Say you’re busy in a neutral, distracted voice, and their feelings will be hurt. Say it with a warm smile and then follow up with them a little later when you are more free, and I think it could go over better.

          For the record, I’m really sorry that you have to bend over backwards to accommodate their feelings. I sincerely hope your manager has your back on this one. It sounds like you’re behaving like a perfectly reasonable professional adult, and it would be good for them to learn to recognize that.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          If they’re 18 and 21 years old, honestly, they probably simply don’t know how work is supposed to work. They’re may feel like they’re supposed to be best friends with you, and since they’re not they think they’re messing up. Someone needs to have a talk with them about how it’s supposed to be, and they need to adjust.

          1. Pilcrow*

            This tracks. I remember in my high school days some people were really black and white regarding peer relationships. It was either friends or hatred with nothing in between. Neutrality seemed an utterly foreign concept.

        3. BethDH*

          At that age, I remember thinking that a boss being friendly or not was a direct sign of how well I was doing the job. The kinds of jobs I’d had up till then had been outdoor labor and kitchen work, which were both really chatty environments, so I’m sure that had an effect too. That doesn’t help you much, though maybe if you feel like it would help you could spell some of this out to them a little more (“I need to get some work done and I’m someone who really can’t chat and work at the same time” or something like that?). And if they’re not getting regular performance checkins, that might help as well — I would have been so insecure in my first job if I’d had to wait a full year for any sort of comments on my performance.

        4. I Go OnAnonAnonAnon*

          Yes, this would help! Giving them context and perhaps suggesting an alternate time when you can check back in with them might alleviate your “unapproachable”ness in their minds. Worth a try!

        5. Ethyl*

          Ooooh….. The age thing might be really key, especially if they also don’t have great work-personal life boundaries (sounds like they don’t). Is this typical for your field, to have actual teenagers working with you?

          1. Redundant department of redundancy*

            It is, as we take on apprentices! They can be from 16-30 but we tend to get the younger end of them.

            I do think I might need to be clear to them that I can’t do both at the same time.
            I do give them a lot of positive feedback on their work, and have 1:1s every two weeks. I might need to introduce some daily check ins with them? One of them specifically said they were upset I hadn’t gone to see them on the reception desk all day (when I’d had nearly back to back meetings) and had called them???

            I think they might just need more reassurance?

            1. Ethyl*

              I don’t think they need more reassurance, I think they need a bit of a lesson in workplace norms. It’s not common or expected for a boss to take time to *just* visit with an employee. I think the right way forward is to tease out what are the issues you’ve already been working on about being approachable and what’s j realistic on their part in terms of being friends with their boss.

            2. Aquawoman*

              I think that complaint is cuckoo. Unless it was their first day back after surgery or something.

            3. Ron McDon*

              My colleague on the reception desk gets annoyed with our line manager because she doesn’t pop in to see her and check in, it makes her feel that line manager doesn’t care about what she’s doing and how her day is going.

              Our line manager does only work two days a week (and has never made the effort to find out what each person on her team does or have any check-ins!) so in my opinion you’re doing a lot better than my line manager!

              However, I do think it’s important to pop out to reception at least once a day just to check all is ok and say hello, you’d probably find that makes all the difference to how they perceive you if you make time to do this. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, just popping by to say ‘how are you, is everything ok’ makes a big difference if you’re feeling overlooked.

              1. Frustrated Today*

                I have to say, this is how I felt at my last job. My manager tended to check in much more often with the other managers that reported to him. I like to think it was maybe because they were all long-timers and I wasn’t and he had much more of a connection with them. Or the other department he managed just needed more input from him. Or even that he didn’t feel the need to check in as often since I had it under control most of the time. But it still made me feel a bit overlooked when he would go down the hall past my office with just a quick hello to me and then stop to visit with another manager of his down the hall. Then I wouldn’t see him for a few days.

                I’m far from being college-aged, but I definitely value my manager checking in a few days a week to see how it’s going, preferably more often. I don’t mean she needs to stop by and chat for a half hour. Just a quick, “hey, how’s it going? Need me for anything?” Five minutes.

            4. LGC*

              …yeah, that checks out.

              The direct issue sounds like they think that your inability to be as attentive as they want is a reflection on them (or your view of them). So…make it clear to them! Not that they’re doing anything wrong, but that you often have lots of meetings and can’t be there as much as they might want. And this is actually fine – sometimes you might not be able to check in, but that doesn’t mean you hate them forever.

              It also sounds like you work in a job training program, so this is doubly important. What if they do this in a less supportive environment?

            5. Who Plays Backgammon?*

              They need to grow up.

              Couple of questions:
              Have you had issues like this before with very young/very new employees?
              Are these two friends, maybe outside of work as well?

              I’m wondering if they’re your basic 2 peas in a pod, navigating the work world for the first time and not knowing what to expect of a manager or team lead, and not knowing what’s expected of them. If this is the first time your higher-ups have had to deal with teary young’uns, it sounds like you could be getting scapegoated because the higher-ups are uncomfortable with the situation.

        6. Washi*

          I think that’s a good idea!

          But also, have you asked your manager if there’s anything she thinks you should do differently? I think that if you’re generally warm and professional and your manager is satisfied, you don’t need to bend over backward to change every interaction. It might be good for your reports to learn what a warm but not overly chatty professional relationship looks lie.

        7. Frankie*

          Yeah, at that age they don’t have their norms set yet (others are saying this) but wanted to add they may be working from the familiar point of “high school teacher” when they’re figuring out how to interact with you. If I squint I could see that making them get all worked up if you’re not super gregarious with them like all their best high school teachers were.

      3. Amethystmoon*

        I agree that something is definitely off. Crying should only be reserved for bosses who routinely lose their temper at subordinates. Unless both employees had highly abusive childhoods or something, it shouldn’t be the case.

        That being said, is this one of those places where people routinely stay very late to get work done, or come in on the weekends, because they couldn’t get it done during the week because they were too busy chatting with others?

    4. Alice*

      Kudos for thinking about how you can make it work better.
      I must say that if I worked for you, and if I perceived (whether it’s correct or incorrect doesn’t matter) that you dislike it when people talk to you, I would find it hard to build a relationship.
      As a manager, building relationships with your team IS working.

      1. Madame Tussaud*

        I didn’t get the impression that the OP doesn’t like people talking to her, but rather she doesn’t like overly long chat sessions. I don’t mind a 10 minute or so catch up with someone, but honestly, anything longer than that, especially if it’s multiple times a day, seems excessive. As a manager, yes, it’s her job to build relationships with her team, but I’m sure she’s got other duties she’s got to keep up on. The main caveat being that the talking is purely social in nature, vs. work-related; or even a personal issue that requires a discussion with the manager.

        1. Alice*

          Well, OP did say “I want to work rather than chat, and they want to chat rather than work.” If that message is coming through to the reports all the time, perhaps with something as minor as body language or tone of voice, the reports are not going to feel like OP is approachable.
          But since OP’s manager and coach have been working on this with her, I expect that OP can get some really tailored feedback from them. Good luck!

    5. animaniactoo*

      It does sound like they’re excessively chatty and that maybe you need to address some of that. On the flip side, SOME chat is absolutely social grease that makes people approachable, so I would focus on that portion first. Can you make a point of joining the chat or creating a chat break for yourself once every other day or so? Think about 15 to 20 minutes or so – enough to have seriously participated, but not so much that you’re giving the impression that constant chat is a-ok in your book?

      Other things you can do – what’s your tone when people do come to you? What about when you’re coming to them? If you’re always firm/serious, you can give off the impression that you’re not approachable that way and that’s something you can address fairly easily. Just by being willing to be a little lighter/warmer. Be sure that you’re doing the kinds of things like somebody is late due to traffic and you don’t just say “Okay”, you say “Yeah, it seems to be a mess out there today. Sorry you got stuck in it.” – extend those notes to acknowledge them as humans and it will go far.

      1. Samwise*

        Or OP thinks they are excessively chatty but perhaps they are not — OP dislikes chatting, so it may not take much to feel excessive. Are they really and truly chatting all day non stop?

        Also, OP, if you’re taking the view that EITHER one’s chatting OR one’s working— that’s going to come across to your team; to me, it sounds condescending. It is in fact possible to work and talk at the same time, depending on the task. (And I’m not a chatter, it drives me bonkers if it goes on too long — but I recognize that some of my colleagues are chatty and it doesn’t mean they’re not working.)

    6. The Phleb*

      I once had a supervisor who was really a great woman…but came across as very business like and stern. She realized and was working on it but it was tough going. One thing I did tell her…when someone called out sick, she would often just say, “ok. Thank you.” And then hang up! I told her…you really, really need to add a, “hope you’re feeling better!” to it in order for it to be personable. I know she was already thinking ahead to coverage and how can I fix this and I wonder how long this employee will be out, etc, but you have to observe the niceties. It sounds like you ARE trying but perhaps a few minutes of ‘extra’ chatter here and there, just something personal, will help.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        See it’s bits like this which I’m aware of, and I am always sympathetic when people call in. I’ve even had it noted by my line manager that I’m more sympathetic than her when staff call in.

        Maybe what I think of as ‘extra’ chatter is just normal/low to others?

        1. EtherIther*

          It sounds like that could be the case! It’s impossible for us to know from afar, though. At the least, is there any reason to not take a break from work and chat more, since it sounds like that would be acceptable to both your manager and please your employees? You could even schedule it so you remember. I’ve worked a lot of places (actually most places I’ve worked) where it would be out of place to not stop and chat occasionally, and it sounds like you might be in one of them.

          To add my own perspective – I don’t see “extra” chatter as a thing, as long as everyone is getting their work done! And it sounds like your team might feel this way as well? Lots of social people aren’t trying to avoid chatter, and there isn’t anything wrong with that if they’re working.

          But at the same time, the crying is odd.. and kinda shows it could all be on their end, because I can’t imagine crying because of something like this.

      2. DivineMissL*

        My boss (VP of the company) was a lot like The Phleb’s. He was very quiet and didn’t speak to anyone in the hallway, which made people feel like he was either annoyed or didn’t like them. As I got to know him, I knew that he was a very sweet guy who was very shy and just didn’t know what to say to people. I had to explain to him that because he was the VP, they were already a little wary of him, so it was important to do basic things like make eye contact, say hello, smile, etc. to put them at ease. He really did make an effort to be friendlier and warmer, even though it wasn’t in his comfort zone; and it did help his working relationships with the staff.

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      Do you feel there would be any value in sitting down with your team and getting a better understanding on how each of you communicate? I’ve used the DiSC assessment in the past with quite a bit of success to help me understand what folks need in terms of communication while also explaining what I need to do my job successfully. I feel for you as this is a really tricky thing to navigate.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Oh, I just saw your coworkers are 18 and 21. Disregard my advice, they’re too young to understand usual business norms.

    8. Public Sector Manager*

      I’ve got some members of my team like this. When they bring up the issue of “being approachable,” they have this fiction in mind that I need to be their friend (nope!), and that they should be able to discuss anything with me, i.e. they want to overshare, usually in regard to personal issues. It’s usually done by attorneys on my team who are fresh out of law school.

      The good thing for me has been that my boss will step in to let them know that it’s not my role to be their friend and that they can share any business issues with me. Unfortunately, it sounds like your bosses aren’t doing that for you.

      Here are two things I’ve done: (1) schedule time on my calendar for meeting with my team members; and (2) watch my habits. On (1), I just schedule a 15 minute block of time on my calendar, usually described as “face time.” When starts to become routine when it’s part of my routine. As for (2), I had a couple of team members let me know that I had a habit that when I had something important to discuss, I always had a seat in the other person’s office but if I was just chatting, I tended to stand. So the times I sat down to chat, it freaked people out because they thought something important was going down. It might be useful to take stock of your habits and see if there are any patterns that might be contributing to the issues you’re having.

      And best of luck. Being a manager has been one of the hardest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done. It’s so much harder than people think. Great job on making changes on being approachable with your team. That too is much harder than people think!

      1. RandomU...*

        The sitting thing vs. standing reminded me of something that I had to break myself of. I’ll share it in case anyone else is in the same position.

        I managed a remote team. I realized one day that I used IM or email for the normal work stuff, but I’d call when there was something I needed to coach someone on something or course correct. It dawned on me that I was perpetuation the ‘call of doom’ syndrome and my team was going to start dreading talking to me.

        So I started making a deliberate effort to start calling for some of the small stuff. I noticed less apprehension when I would call to talk to team members.

        Yes, being a manager is hard (also fun), so many things you don’t realize will make an impression on employees!

    9. Ms. FS*

      My approach to this issue would be to use my one on one check ins with each of my team members and state that I had gotten some feedback about this and wanted to touch base with that particular person about how best to ensure they feel supported and comfortable to get what they need from me as their manager. Then I would say I’m working on this but obviously it can be different from person to person what it feels like to ‘be approachable’ and so wanted to know what you, as a person, needs to feel supported. Anytime I get feedback about my performance or something that I’m working on, I like to tell me staff and let them know I am open to hearing their thoughts on how I can improve according to their style (within reason of course).

      Also, about the chatting, I would also tell each of your team members about how you just aren’t much of a chatter, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t feel comfortable checking in. I think if you explain that your personality is X, but you have open door policy.

    10. Fortitude Jones*

      It sounds like a culture fit issue to be honest. If everyone around you values talking all day and making those personal connections and you just don’t, that’s okay – you’re just out of sync with the rest of the group. I’m not saying you should give up and stop working on being more “approachable” (whatever the hell that means in this context), but maybe you just need to have a team meeting where you address their concerns and let them know that you value their hard work and you will continue to make efforts to socialize, but that if you don’t chat with them for hours at a time, it doesn’t mean you have an issue with them – you have X on your plate and need to focus.

      Maybe you can do once a month team lunches or something if this is something you want to work on? Hopefully, if your team sees you in a more relaxed environment they’ll get it that you have no issues with them, you just work hard when you’re at work (honestly, why do people not get this? Work is for work!).

    11. Scarlet*

      Aw :( What about a team-building challenge? Or happy hour? That way they could get to know you on a personal level and realize that you’re not unapproachable, you’re just not super chatty!

    12. Policy Wonk*

      Do you mostly communicate with them by e-mail or in writing? It could be that your tone in your written messages, while sounding matter-of-fact to you, comes across to them as harsh, making them afraid to approach you. Others have offered good suggestions. In addition I’d suggest inviting them individually for coffee or something. This would be your normal one-on-one, in a less formal setting, with a little chit chat thrown in.

    13. Lilysparrow*

      Based on what you said about their ages and the kind of complaints they had, maybe you can look at these chats as a kind of “professional development” or coaching time, that needs to be built into your work schedule as part of managing well.

      By deliberately taking time to engage with them in a low-intensity way, you can use these opportunities to model appropriate warm-but-professional connections. And steer them away from oversharing or unproductive hours (hours?!?!) of socializing, and toward the types of support a manager can & should offer (like flexible scheduling, access to company resources or EAP, that kind of thing).

    14. Anoncorporate*

      Based on what you wrote, it sounds like a culture issue. And breaking down in tears over just “not being approachable” sounds veeeery off to me. Like, that’s not a normal reaction. Idk what your line of work is, but in my business casual corporate job, it’s rare to visibly cry, and would only happen if something really egregious happened (like being yelled at.) Also, it does sound like you are someone who is pleasant but, you know, prefers to spend the majority of your time doing your job, like you’re supposed to? It all sounds weird to me.

    15. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not completely clear to me how this went down. What I’m wondering is: did the people who complained give specific examples to your manager? And did your manager give you specific examples of what you did that made them so uncomfortable and what you could be doing instead? “Be more approachable” is a very vague mandate, and clearly youthink you’ve made strides in being more approachable. So I think this really boils down to: what are you doing that’s giving this impression and is it reasonable that it gives that impression? IE would most people find it off-putting? We need to figure out if this is a them problem or a you problem. I can’t tell from your description. That’s not a criticism of you, by the way, I understand why you might not want to give specifics on the internet, but my point is if there were no specifics at all, you’re stuck. I do not think this should boil down to “be more chatty”. It should be fine for you to want to be more focused on work and not on chat. You should be approachable about work things. Requiring you to socially chat more is a ridiculous workrequirement for most jobs so I hope that’s not what this is about.
      It’s good your manager takes this seriously, but it’s bad if manager is doing it with no examples of the behavior you need to change. If it’s a situation of taking their word for it that you’re not apporachable, you can’t win here because the manager hasn’t evaluated if what you’re doing is OK and they need to adjust their expectations or if what you’re doing would be off-putting to most reasonable people. If you have concrete examples of things you’re doing that make people feel bad, then you should have concrete methods for changing that.

    16. Teal*

      But what if your company would prefer you to talk, rather than work? Managing is partially about talking, so your strong divide between talking and work may not be correct for this position. Especially since your boss is choosing to spend their time talking.

  4. Kyubey*

    So I just started job searching, and not sure how long it will take to actually find a new job.
    I have a vacation planned for the 2nd week of August, it’s still over a month away but I’m not sure of the best approach, would it be better to give my notice and quit in July before the vacation? Or risk quitting within a month after taking it?

    If I don’t get an offer within a month, I’m not sure how the company will feel about me taking pto and then possibly leaving a few weeks after. (They already approved my time off for that week, I can still cancel, but is it worth it to cancel the trip?)

    Should I wait to job search until after the summer? Would quitting mid or late September be better or does it make no difference? I know even if I start a job before August I’d have to negotiate that week as well. But I don’t want to wait 2+ months to start interviewing.

    1. Hope*

      Just keep job searching (you haven’t even had an interview yet, right?), take your vacation, and worry about handing in notice once you have an offer in hand. Right now is way too early to be worrying about this. Your vacation time is part of your compensation for the job you’re doing, and there’s nothing wrong with taking it and handing in a notice later in the month if that’s how it works out.

    2. Sunflower*

      Keep sending out resumes- job searching processes are so unpredictable and long and I have yet to have any process be less than 2 months from the date I sent the application to the start date. Are you in the interview process with anyone? If not, I doubt you an offer will come up before August so I would not hold off until after your vacation.

    3. TooTiredToThink*

      I think it completely depends on your industry. 2 months from start of job search to starting the new job seems awfully quick to me based on what I’ve read here. Push comes to shove I would only apply to the jobs that I really, really, really want for the next two weeks (ones that I would kick myself for not applying too) and then go full forward knowing that odds are I wouldn’t be hired until after I return. And then if by some strange chance I happen to be hired sooner I would just start it as part of my negotiation.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This was my strategy and it worked out well. I ended up putting my notice in two weeks after taking some PTO at my last job back in April. They lived.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d keep job searching. Maybe you’re in some super in-demand field, but every job search I’ve done has taken months to complete. If you just started now, it’d be cool if you found a job before September, but it’s better to give yourself buffer.

      Should I wait to job search until after the summer?

      I wouldn’t wait. Some companies have very slow hiring processes. You could put in an application, and they may not even get back to you with a phone screen until weeks later, depending.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, even for jobs that managers are eager to get filled here it seems to take a minimum of 4-6 weeks from interview to offer, with a start date negotiable after that. And that’s not even counting time between application and interview rounds.

    5. gbca*

      As someone currently job hunting…don’t adjust your timing at all around the vacation. Everything takes way longer than you think it will. And if you do get an offer quickly, everyone (both current and future employer) can work around a pre-planned vacation.

      1. Bunny*

        Completely agree, when I started my current job I was terrified to ask for a vacation just weeks after starting, it was a trip with my husband’s family that had been planned for over a year.

        I worked up the courage, went into my boss’s office groveling and told them I was more than prepared to cancel this trip but it was really important to me if there is any way I could have the time off…

        The response was, of course! We would never ask you to give up a vacation with your family, especially one that had been planned for so long! It took us months to find you, we can certainly manage a week without you.

    6. Kyubey*

      I do have one interview next week, they mentioned they need someone to start asap. I’m in accounting and in a big city so there’s a lot of jobs available. I’ve only had 2 jobs in the past and both took scout a month from when I applied to day of offer, but you never know I guess

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This pleases me greatly. You’ll be snapped up. Just give them 2 weeks notice, don’t stress about their feelings, you just continue to be professional and they get to manage their own emotions.

      2. ramonaflowers89*

        Make a contract with me and become a magical girl!


        *Signed a HUGE fan of Madoka Magica

    7. anna green*

      Do not even consider quitting before you have another job! People quit after vacations all the time. Just be professional and give appropriate notice and you’ll be fine.

    8. Quickbeam*

      I had a massive trip to Scotland planned a year in advance and ended up with a new job starting the week before. I worked it into my acceptance of the job. It ended up being no big deal and my then-boss actually worked out how I could get paid for most of it.

    9. CupcakeCounter*

      Part of doing business. I have a vacation at the end of August and another over Christmas. Not stopping me

    10. SciDiver*

      Even if your job search has been quick in the past, things tend to move more slowly over the summer! People take time off, the hiring manager goes away, jobs get posted but internal expectation is to fill them sometime in the fall, etc. Definitely keep looking, even if you’re interviewing in July it may take a while to get through all the rounds and have a formal offer come through. Plus your current job approved your time off, it’s not on you to cancel those plans because there’s a *chance* you might leave soon after.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Screw them if they get salty that you took vacation then quit. That’s your benefit and they need to deal with it!

      Continue working and taking vacation/PTO as you would if you weren’t planning on leaving. That’s the way to handle it

    12. Double A*

      I’ve gone on vacation within a month of starting at least two new jobs. It’s pretty common. You can just negotiate it as part of the offer.

    13. Rachel in NYC*

      There isn’t any reason not to plan for your vacation as per normal. It’s no different then you taking vacation and the company firing you the day you get back. (I know it sounds crazy but my office did that with someone. I think they felt it was better to do it after then before and it’s not like we pay out vacation.)

    14. EngineerMom*

      Please, please, just keep job searching! And keep that search to yourself – do not tell anyone you work with what you’re doing. Two weeks’ notice is sufficient, regardless of whether your last vacation was yesterday or months ago.

      It could take you months to find a new job. Or it could take a week. You don’t know, so start now.

    15. Name (Required)*

      If you nail it and get the job you want on your very first application, 2 months would still be pretty fast in my industry.

      I applied for a job 4/24, they reached out for a phone screen 6/3, they reached out for an in person meeting 6/8, asked for references 6/21. So that is 2 months and as far as I can glean I was the only one they even brought in for an interview… and I still don’t actually have an offer on the table!

      Also, in my state, vacation time would need to be paid out if not used, so you should see if that’s the case in yours. It would be silly for anyone to be upset at you leaving after a vacation here, since they’d have had to pay you out that anyways. The reason that they have to pay it out is that you have already earned the vacation time by accruing it. It is essentially a wage that is owed to you.

      My vote is to start job searching now, and if you are in high demand and lucky and have an offer to start suspiciously close to vacation, just ask if you can delay your start a bit? Or just go with it. Either way, start searching now and don’t feel bad about doing what is best for you.

  5. Bee's Knees*

    Someone made fun of my work fanny pack. It isn’t stylish, and I feel like a dweeb wearing it. As any female knows, pockets are a problem, or rather, the lack thereof.

    [Insert photo set here of Leslie Knope talking to Ben about pockets. I can’t do that, so you’ll just have to picture it.]

    To make up for the fact that’s my work pants either don’t have pockets at all, or are so small you could fit a quarter and a half a stick of gum in them, I got a fanny pack to compensate.

    That way, when I go out on the floor, I have somewhere to put my phone, my watch, some sticky notes and pens, and a couple of tissues. If I’m just running out there real quick, I don’t take it, but otherwise, I do.

    Anyway, Dori took it upon himself to comment on it. I’ve had and used it for a couple of months, and he is the first to do so, to my face, anyway. I told him I was rocking it, and then showed him the fake pocket situation I was working with yesterday.

    He then agreed that it was a good idea, and that fake pockets are stupid. Mission accomplished.

    1. londonedit*

      Well, I keep seeing fashion articles claiming that bum bags (we don’t call them ‘fanny packs’ here because ‘fanny’ is a name for the…*front* bottom…) are super stylish at the moment! Just say you’re bang on trend!

      1. Bee's Knees*

        Oh, I said I was. I probably wouldn’t wear it out into society, but it’s just plain black and blends with my pants (trousers, in y’all’s case :-) ) so it’s not that bad.

      2. Public Sector Manager*

        As for bum bags in the office, they are becoming more common with our IT techs.

        Side note: I found out about the other definition of “fanny” the hard way. My wife is from Ireland but has been here in the U.S. for 15 years. On our third date she made me dinner. As she was cooking, I decided to be playful. Growing up in the U.S., I didn’t know the across the pond version of fanny. So I tapped my wife on the butt and whispered into her ear, “I’m going to slap your fanny harder later tonight.” Her head literally spun around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. This is now my mother-in-law’s favorite story.

        Second side note: I can’t help laughing at the oatmeal brand at my grocery store “Cafe Fanny.”

      3. TechWorker*

        +1 – if you ever use the term ‘fanny pack’ outside the US you should be aware people will take it very differently!

    2. Duchess Honeybadger*

      Bless you for taking the time to explain things to a card-carrying member of the patriarchy. My first thought was that Dori could suck it. Also, fanny packs are back on trend. So there.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        All day yesterday, I was doing this weird arm swinging motion, because I was trying to put my hands in my pockets and couldn’t.

      2. Jaid*

        I usually see them being worn across the chest, when influencers wear them. Why, I don’t know, unless it’s so the fancy logo on the bag can be seen easier.

    3. Middle Manager*

      If you’re into dresses, I can’t recommend Eshakti enough. It’s basically my whole work wardrobe. Virtually everything they make has real, usable pockets.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I haven’t ever ordered from them, but I’ve seen their website, and their stuff is super cute. Unfortunately, I have to wear pants to work. It’s a safety issue. Otherwise I would rock a dress/skirt almost all the time.

        1. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

          May I suggest Carhartt’s and Dickies’ women’s collection? They make real pants with real pockets for real working women!

          1. Bee's Knees*

            Do they have dress pants? It’s business casual, but not casual enough I can wear jeans and a nice top.

            1. Cog in the Machine*

              Dickies has some pant styles that are definitely closer to trouser than jean, but it would probably depend on how dressy you need or if there is a fabric content requirement.

    4. Rebecca*

      I don’t know if this would help you, but I use a “run buddy”. It’s a pouch type thing with a velcro flap that can hold my phone, a few tissues, money, a pen, just a few things…and it has magnets so the back part goes inside my pants waistband, and the front part goes over top – and the magnets hold it in place through the fabric. I don’t have it with me today, so I can’t tell you the brand, but I use it both at work when wearing pants without pockets, and when I wear my sports leggings, also no pockets, grrr!!!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        *googles* Ooh, I want to look for one of those (the cheap version). I have a thing for my phone that clips onto my waistband, but it ONLY holds the phone and has no pocket for anything else.

      2. Amethystmoon*

        There are scarves with pockets. The pockets aren’t very big, but could realistically hold something like car keys and some cash rolled up.

    5. MissMaple*

      Good for you! I was just having this discussion with a female colleague yesterday when I was trying to balance my clipboard and cellphone and pens…I said we should get everyone fanny packs with our group logo on them and she agreed :) Assuming that’s not happening anytime soon, do you have a work fanny pack you like? I’d love a suggestion.

      1. Bee's Knees*

        I got the amazon’s choice fanny pack, it’s a unisex black one with an adjustable strap. It’s by a company called yome. I really like it, and it holds everything I need it to.

      2. NYCRedhead*

        It’s not a fanny pack but I just bought something called HipKlip, which is a pouch with a few different pockets that clips onto a waist band. It’s a little less fanny pack-looking but is the same idea.

    6. Nanc*

      If you’re a sewer it’s pretty easy to add pockets to your pants. Dritz makes sew-in or iron on pockets and they really do last.

      Or women’s clothing designers could just start producing nice pants with real pockets. Grumble gripe moan complain.

        1. Nanc*

          Scandal! Seriously, designers of women’s clothing don’t seem to understand the concept of having pockets is to carry stuff. Why so many women’s shirts/blouses with chest pockets and so few pants, dresses and skirts with no/useless/fake pockets? I’m tempted to go full on utility kilt but I have to crawl around under desks on occasion.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Last year, I had a purse mistakenly taken at an event at a hotel. Wasn’t even for work, it was with an organization that I volunteer for. I had put my car keys/apartment keys in said purse because I did not have pockets in my dressy clothes. I had to get a ride from a friend to get home, then called the apartment manager (on a Saturday), and had to pay the $25 fee to get let in after hours. I also had to call the hotel to make sure my car didn’t get towed or anything overnight. I finally got my purse back the next day, nothing missing, but that was the first time I was able to get my car back. I now keep a spare car key in my work drawer, since at least I could have gone in on Monday and for sure could have gotten it then. But I would have at least had my car and been able to save myself the $25 charge, if I had pockets in my dressy clothes.

            I have since bought a few scarves with pockets (Amazon sells them) as a failsafe.

        2. Jasnah*

          Sometimes women design women’s clothes with no pockets, because it messes with the silhouette/design. I rarely see pockets on pencil skirts, for instance.

    7. Bree*

      I like this! I have a small, faux-leather fanny pack that is probably as close to “professional” as one could get, and I might start carrying it at work. I hate having to carry a full purse everywhere.

    8. Busy*

      PUT POCKETS IN THE PANTS!!!!!!! ITS 2019!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PUT THE POCKETS IN THE PANTS!!!!!!

      Make 2019 the year of the pockets!!!

    9. RandomU...*

      Isn’t it easier to buy pants with pockets? I won’t buy pants don’t have pockets and haven’t really had a problem with limited selections. Now sweaters with pockets can be a challenge, but not impossible.

      The other thing I do, is carry a small wallet/wristlet/cross body purse (It’s the length and height of my cell phone). It’s actually my wallet that usually lives in my bigger purse/bag. But when I’m on the run in the office I take it out and use that for all the things you mention. Same in my off hours, if I’m going out or doing something I don’t want to carry a full purse, I’ll just grab that and go.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        It’s hard enough for most women to find pants that fit in the first place, much less be able to be choosy about whether or not they have pockets.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I’m trying to be polite, but I very nearly burst into laughter just now. If you’ve found where they actually sell women’s pants with usable pockets, please, let us all know so that we can buy our pants there. Like…”no pockets” is the #1 complaint women have about clothing for a reason, it’s not just that women en masse are deliberately buying pocketless pants and then complaining about it. “Just buy pants with pockets” is…not a particularly useful suggestion for most of us.

        1. RandomU...*

          Here you go for my “not a particularly useful suggestion”:

          JC Penny Worthington brand, Ann Taylor, Several random brands on Amazon; All purchased in the last 2 months: LEE Women’s Midrise Fit Bohemian Cargo Capri Pant (probably not work wear), Mariyaab Women’s Full Length 100% Linen Pants with Button Closure and Rounded Pockets , Lark & Ro Women’s Stretch Crop Kick Flare Pant (these I wouldn’t recommend due to the zipper and hook & eye closure but they have deep pockets!).

          Seriously I buy and wear pants with pockets. I don’t have a secret source for pants purchases. I buy mine at pretty normal and accessible places. I don’t spend outrageous amounts of money on my pants. Have I run into no pocket styles, of course I have. I just refuse to buy them. I keep looking until I find pants with pockets, and then I buy several pair in different colors if need be.

          1. Madison*

            Agreed! All my work pants are slim cut, with pockets. Uniqlo has the best work pants and I shove phone, pens, tissues, lip balm etc in there all the time!

        2. Wrong Target*

          Banana Republic. They come stitched shut so that they lie flat, but the pockets are there.

          1. RandomU...*

            I often wonder how many people complain about no pockets and haven’t realized that they do have them, but they are stitched :)

            I’ll admit to doing it once or twice.

          2. Rachel in NYC*

            Yeah but would any of those securely hold a phone? I’m currently wearing women’s cargo pants and I have pockets but I wouldn’t consider any of something you could secure a phone in. Cash and tissues would be fine…an ID maybe, not a wallet. Or not without massive strange bulges.

            1. RandomU...*

              I think it depends on the scale of the items (phone and wallet) and the style of the pants.

              Super giant iPhone and skinny cut/low rise pants… well probably not. Slim wallet vs. large checkbook style wallet? Most women’s wallets are larger than men’s wallets but if we’re talking a size approximately the same as a typical men’s then yes. If you’re asking can I slip my phone into my pocket, yes. I will say that I typically wear trouser/boot cut/wide-ish leg style.

              But, to be fair men wearing skinny pants can’t really use their pockets to fit phones and wallets either.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I have tried on so many pairs of trousers that have such tiny pockets that I can’t even put my hand in them. So annoying. I have a hell of a time finding things that fit my large body that I can’t really be picky about pockets if I want to be dressed. But this is one reason why I have been learning to sew.

            3. Jasnah*

              This is why I don’t see the value in the pockets vs. no pockets argument. I like to carry more things than pockets allow (book, umbrella, water bottle…) and don’t like how clothes look when the pockets are large enough to securely hold my phone, wallet, and keys–means the pants are going to be pretty baggy or bulgey looking.

        3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I am still mourning the loss of Mervyn’s. They sold women’s pants (100% cotton black slacks and khakis) at a reasonable price with pockets I could fit a graphing calculator in. It was a sad day when the last of mine wore out to the point of not being repairable in a “wear at work” way. (I am pretty good at repairing clothes, but at some point you need to sew on a patch over a worn through spot and I don’t think I could get away with patches on my butt at work. I’ll darn over small rips with same-color thread and keep wearing the pants, but there’s a limit.)

          I still won’t buy pants without pockets, but if that’s the hill you die on pants shopping is a pretty involved process. I ‘m between pants brands again since Fred Meyer’s changed their lines around this year. Once I find pants that meet my assorted requirements (high waisted, 100% cotton, pockets, and with the right cut for the actual body I have, which does not have the same belly/rear proportion many lines use), I will generally buy 10 or so identical pairs so I can avoid shopping for pants again for a while.

        4. Llellayena*

          Lee All Day Pant. Nice deep pockets, business casual pants (fabric is more cotton than poly so it’s not shiny like more formal slacks). I never buy pants without pockets because I don’t carry a purse unless I really have to. (And dresses are reserved for special occasions, not every day) So I look for pants with pockets that can hold wallet, keys, watch and occasionally pocket knife. I won’t buy pants the wallet doesn’t fit in.

        5. roisin54*

          I am currently wearing a pair of pants I got at The Gap that have multiple pockets big enough for my cell phone, keys, tissues, and various other little things. I’ve also had good luck with St. John’s Bay and Eddie Bauer. I do work somewhere where only the highest of higher-ups ever have to be at all dressy and even then they don’t do it frequently, so we all do tend to dress on the more casual side.

        6. Amethystmoon*

          Alfred Dunner does make pants with pockets, they have some plus sizes, and as a petite woman, I don’t have to get them hemmed. However, they may not be appropriate for all workplaces. They’re fine for business casual, but if you have to wear a suit to work, I would say save them for casual Fridays.

    10. EngineerMom*

      Sounds awesome!

      Also, if their stuff fits you, Lane Bryant makes awesome work slacks that have Real Pockets that can actually hold stuff – on my left I currently have my iPhone SE and a pair of ear buds, and on my right, my set of keys, car keys, cash for lunch, credit card, and drivers’ license (I carry these items on my person so they can never been stolen out of my purse).

    11. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      They are oddly trendy at the moment. I bought one to use on some recent travels and it was dorky but very convenient. I carried it like a cross body bag when I was trying to be more fashion conscious.

    12. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Would it work to carry it over your shoulder?

      Waist packs are uncomfortable for me, so I got another, small fabric Kipling crossover bag. It’s like a big pocket and hold all the basics. I can also toss it into my purse or computer bag if necessary.

  6. C*

    So, folks who have moved on from a company after being employed there for a long time (eg. 15+ years)…how did it go? Did it suck? Was it fun? Was it really hard to make the transition? Any advice?

    1. Happy Lurker*

      Following. I am in the same situation. Really nervous that I have gotten stale here!

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      I was laid off from my 10+ year job. The next job; yeah it was a bit weird. Sometimes I’d forget that some of the resources I was used to having wasn’t available; etc… But I’m an out of sight/out of mind type person and pretty adaptable so I feel like the transition was fairly smooth. The only part that wasn’t was the trauma of the layoff itself; which doesn’t sound like that’s an issue here.

    3. (Former) HR Expat*

      I moved on after 8 years. It was tough, but I’m doing ok. The hardest part is trying to remember that just because things are done differently doesn’t make them weird or wrong.

      1. Propane and propane accessories dealer*

        I am asking you this but it is also for any other people that have worked in HR and dealt with benefits or just know the answer. I was wondering how time consuming and intensive it is to set up manage on an ongoing basis a pretax – Flexible Spending Account system and pretax commuter benefits. My current company does not have either of those. I did the research and found companies that would manage both programs, they told me that it would be cost neutral if not a cost savings measure (we would have to pay the company to manage the program, but the payroll tax savings would offset that cost, or even save more money than the company charges). We have brought it up to our company president but it has not been implemented. We have 1 official HR person, in addition to a 3 person accounting department, for a company of about 60/70 employees.

        My sense is that it would not take to much work to manage on a monthly basis after it is set up, since it seems the 3rd party company takes care of most things, but I don’t know. I brought up via email the pretax commuter benefits to our HR person one time and they never responded, but they just talked to someone else and complained about how “We already have great benefits.” Which I acknowledge that we do, but if more benefits don’t cost the company anything I don’t see why we shouldn’t have them. It dosen’t seem that hard to me, and I think our HR person might just be lazy, but I don’t know and am trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

        1. (Former) HR Expat*

          I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t know the answer to this. I’ve always worked in really large companies that have a separate benefits team who would handle this sort of thing. I wish I could help!

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I’m going to ask you but also any other HR people, or anyone who knows the answer. But how much initial work and ongoing work does it take to set up and maintain a pretax flexible spending account and pretax commuter benefits? My company does not have them and we have asked about them. My initial thought is the our HR person does not want to do the work. But I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. For perspective they are the sole HR person in a company of about 60 to 70 people, but there is a 3 person accounting dept.

        I did the research and contacted a 3rd party company that said they could handle most of the work. They do charge a fee but said it would break even or even save more money than what they charge with the payroll taxes the company would save.

        I had previously mentioned pretax commuter benefits to the HR person via email. They never responded to me but did complain to someone else about “the company offering great benefits already and the HR person knowing how to do their job.” the company does ha e really good benefits, to me if the company can break even or even save money while offering more benefits it makes sense to add it.

    4. AliV*

      I didn’t think about the “mental bandwidth “ I would have to devote to minor differences in the workplace. Small nuances like different versions of software, different communication tools, where to find the office supplies, that sort of thing. Each thing is a small thing but they added up.

    5. GoryDetails*

      This was a long time ago, but I spent a happy 16 years at DEC (one-time huge computer company in the northeastern US), doing software engineering in different groups. I really loved it, but the corporate culture began to change (beginning of the end of the company, though I didn’t know it at the time), and I moved on to a much smaller outfit. I was still doing programming, but in a very different context, with the whole new-job elements of different commute, new people, where-to-get-lunch, etc. And… I loved it, too! Had a really tight group of co-workers, interesting projects, great balance of get-the-work-done and have-some-fun… I may have been lucky in my choice of new job, but while I did have some nostalgia for the good old days at DEC, I didn’t regret moving on.

      Not sure what advice I can offer, other than to do your best in searching for a new job to find one that suits you (not easy even then, but way harder now) and to allow for some period of adjustment over the change. Could be simple annoyance at the change of long-standing habits or something akin to grief at losing the old environment/co-workers/status/whatever; just allow for it, use whatever coping mechanisms work for you, and be open to whatever the new place offers. (I had a longer commute, which forced a change in the way I ran errands; I wound up acquiring an addiction to audiobooks while in the car, and found some handy spots near my new job for things like mailing packages, getting my car inspected, and so forth.)

      1. Abby*

        DEC nostalgia! My dad worked at DEC in the eighties and nineties – a huge chunk of my childhood elementary school was families who’d moved to the area when DEC opened an office there.

      2. Smiling*

        Our company actually still uses software it got from DEC. Always interesting teaching new recruits to use something DOS based that doesn’t use a mouse.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          God bless DOS! I mentioned it to one of our IT wizards the other week and he misses it too. Newer and shinier isn’t necessarily better. :)

    6. DonkeyHotey*

      Old place closed and laid off everyone in one fell swoop. I’d been there 14 years.
      That was two years ago (almost exactly) and I’ve moved on to a different place.
      My one piece of advice: Once you land a new job, remove the phrase, “At my last place, we (did X)” from your vocabulary. It can be really wearing on your new friends and co-workers to hear the professional equivalent of “This one time, at band camp…”

    7. Spooooon!!*

      I recently left a place after 18 years. It was not an easy decision, but I felt I was becoming too niche. My last few days were very emotional, but I knew it was the right decision.

      I would allow yourself space to feel all sorts of things, and try to come to a neutral place when (assuming you are) you start a new job. The book Managing Transitions by William Bridged has really helped me.

      1. Smiling*

        I think sometimes we just have to look at ourselves as a whole and our accomplishments, looking past the pigeon-hole we feel like we’ve been in for years.
        Based on everything I’ve read here over the years, company does many things backwards or is antiquated in its approach.
        My biggest question is about retraining for corporate norms.

      2. Hangry*

        Over two decades at the same workplace for me, and moving on was SCARY. I worried I was too comfortable and would struggle to learn new things. I finally took the leap to a job where EVERYTHING was new to me — but they hired me anyway! — and it turns out I *can* learn new processes, procedures, and policies. And I’m really good at it. WellRed… you can do it, too!

        1. Daniela*

          So glad to read about someone that transitioned after 20+ years. I’m in the same boat, and while I love my job, I’m concerned about having to move into an entirely new role, in case of a RIF.

      3. Donkey Hotey*

        I get that. When I was laid off after 14 years, I immediately reverted to looking for jobs that fit the profile which got me that job.

        Thankfully, my Long Suffering Wife suggested I take a few steps back and see that I wasn’t just doing teapot handle ergonomics that I was actually doing a very focused version of teapot design. Yes, I had the most experience in handles, but lids and spouts and bases all fell into place.

    8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      After 10+ years I left. It was amazing, I’ve loved everything I’ve done since, even the toxic waste dump I ended up for a minute, it taught me a ton and gave me a springboard into a new area, it also introduced me to a couple good friends along the way.

      It was scary at first but really, it was refreshing and you really do usually always land on your feet -=)

    9. Yellow*

      Not 15 years, but 9 at my old job. It was toxic for the last 2-3 years. It was scary leaving, but I haven’t regretted it for a second. It’s been 3+ years, and am still SO HAPPY I left.

    10. Pilcrow*

      My situation was a little different than most, but I hope it helps.

      I worked for a professional services company (PSC) for 16 years. I was sent to various client sites to do work and PSC invoiced them. My W-2, benefits, and pay were through PSC. Then I got laid off a year after PSC got bought by a venture capital firm.

      Since I regularly got different clients, I did OK keeping my skills up and was reasonably “flexible” regarding doing different projects (often different industries) and adapting to different cultures.

      What really sucked was all the job hunting stuff – updating the resume, cover letters, networking, job application systems. I hadn’t looked for work since 1998 (first job out of college, too)! Still used resume paper back then! I really wished I had followed AAM when I got laid off. I think my job hunt would have been much easier just with adapting to how much the mechanics of job hunting had changed in that time.

      1. C*

        OMG, the “how much has changed” is crazy. Especially since I never really job hunted. I got hired here as a temp and then got hired on full time so I didn’t really need to do cover letters or thank you notes or any of that, even when I applied for internal jobs, so it’s just a totally different dynamic.

    11. noahwynn*

      I left a job after almost 10 years (1 month short). The company had been acquired and was in the process of merging into the larger organization. My department was eliminated and I had to lay off all of the employees I had hired over the 10 years. It really was the best choice for the company as a whole and I have no issues with how they handled it. I was offered a position but would be forced to move several states away and even before the merger was announced I was looking for a job.

      Anyways, it was very difficult. After a long time with a company you become very comfortable there and know almost everything about it inside and out. Moving on was for the best, but it was not easy.

    12. MMB*

      In 2009, I left a company after 16 years. Started there when I was 22 and left at 38! It had become Chernobyl level toxic where I was. It was scary, amazing and everything in between at first :) It was also the best decision I ever made. I’m in a completely different career now using the same skills and loving what I do!

      As an FYI I took a massive (like 50%) cut in pay and responsibilities at first just to get out of that job and despite the initial financial stress, I would do it all over again. I really learned a lot about myself, my capabilities and what I enjoy. Good luck!

    13. Mademoiselle Sugarlump*

      I worked for Tandem > Compaq > HP > HPE for twenty years and left a couple of years ago for similar job with more pay at a more stable company. The actual work is very similar and I had to learn some new tools but I’ve dont that many times. (I’m a tech writer and it’s part of the job.)
      When I gave my grand boss the news she said “Wow, I didn’t think YOU would be a flight risk” which really annoyed me! Did she mean “I didn’t think you’d have the gumption to leave”?
      Agree about the “mental bandwidth.” At the old job I was the go-to person: I knew everybody, who to ask, every process, etc. and didn’t know any of that at the new one. Luckily I had a great manager who understood and made a point of introducing me to lots of people and letting me know that when I had a question about teapots, Gloria and Larry are the people to ask, and here’s a link to the internal web page that tells you how to order tea when you need it, and so on. I took a lot of notes. Then she went on a medical leave and I had to get answers on my own which sounds scary but was actually a good experience.

    14. Mavis*

      It was super hard to adjust! And I passed old company on way home and my heart would hurt.

      Got over it in 3-4 weeks.

    15. goducks*

      I left my prior job after 17 years. I was ready for a new challenge, but the thing that I didn’t expect is that nearly 3 years in, I still have to mentally stop myself from referring to the company by my old company’s name. Like in sentences like “we are working on developing a new process for ordering. It will certainly make it easier for (Company name)’s staff to be effective”. I have to think EVERY TIME because my brain first wants to insert old company name. I’m terrified of slipping. It’s like a sort of muscle memory I can’t undo.

      1. Anne (with an “e”)*

        I can relate to this. I taught at Smalltown High School, the local public hs, for over twenty-five years. Then, I stated teaching at Smalltown Academy, a private school. I enjoy the new job and the new school very, very much. However, l would slip and call my current school by the name of my old school all the time. I had to concentrate and force myself to say Academy instead of High School, especially the first year or so.

        Another problem I would have is that once in a while I would say to a new colleague something along the lines of , “Oh, at previous school *we* do such and such practice or procedure.” Instead I should have been saying, “At previous school *they* do whatever.” It took me quite a while to think/say *they* instead of *we* when referring to the old job. I also had to force myself to cut down on talking about the old job. I was already trying to do this because I’ve been reading this blog for so long — but to never refer to 25 years of one’s life is a big ask.

        1. goducks*

          Yes! I had to purposely stop talking about old job. I felt like I was always talking about it.

  7. Sunflower*

    Should I reach out to a former employee(who I am connected to) to ask about the red flags at my new job?

    I’m really back and forth at my current job that I’ve been at for 3 months. Some days are great, and some are terrible. The turnover on the team has been high, my boss isn’t great and my coworker just left after 3 months so I know something is up. A person who used to be on this team replaced me at my old job and I’m debating reaching out to her to get some thoughts on what I’ve experienced here(i’m still close with old teammates). Here’s the thing- her departure was not a cordial one. I know there were problems on both sides of her and my boss/grandboss’s relationship and it didn’t end well. I see both positive and negative sides to reaching out- in one way, I’ll get a ton of inside info that could take me years to figure out. On the other hand, will everything just be skewed towards bad due to her overall experience here? I doubt it would ever get back to my boss that I reached out to her (although I don’t think that would be a red flag since she does work under my old boss)

    1. LibbyG*

      Maybe the answer is in what you’d want to ask? LIke, I could see a productive conversation that starts with “I’ve noticed some persistent rift between Titus and Hatshepsut. Is there some background there I should be aware of?” An open-ended digging kind of conversation might turn into the negativity avalanche you fear.

      1. Auntie Social*

        The LW could also ask her what she liked best about the job, especiallyif it gets negative. “I liked interacting with the branch offices, did you like that? What else did you like?”

    2. Mary Smith*

      I left a really horrible job and at least 3 potential candidates reached-out to me prior to applying. I thought it was amazing that they did this and I plan to do it too if I ever move to another company. One I knew, but the other two just found me on LinkedIn and took a chance.

    3. Watermelon M*

      Hmm I’ve heard varying things in here about leaving stuff off or keeping it on. I think under 6 months you could leave it off the resume since it might raise some questions? I’m not sure what the rule of thumb is there but I think it would be reasonable to leave it off but not lie about it if they asked what you’re doing in your time.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You already know she may skew extra negative, so you can combat that by internally reminding yourself that you have to take it with a grain of salt, given her departure! However you may just get a lot of validation for the flags you’ve seen and it will relieve you in that sense.

      I learned a helluva lot when I left and we finally all came together to “chat” as former colleagues formally stuck on the same sinking ship of doom.

    5. Officious Intermeddler*

      How well do you know that person? After I left a job, I was floored by how many of my colleagues who were still there wanted to talk about things going on there, months and even a year later. Because I know the people and had spent many years there, I think they felt they could talk to me without gossiping among other employees–plus, I had the benefit of hindsight. Anyway, that dynamic worked for me (and I hope for them?) because we knew each other well. I think if someone I didn’t know at all, or only know by name, were to ask me, I’d be cagier about what I’d say.

  8. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    Last week, I created a deliverable to be distributed to a number of clients based off of a meeting we all attended. I sent the draft of the deliverable to my project lead with a couple of questions, and he corrected the deliverable to reflect the answers to the questions and sent it along to the clients.

    However, when he made his edits, it affected a ton of other items in the deliverable that made a lot of it incorrect. From our meeting, the clients knew that I was the one who was putting together this document, and now they are emailing me with corrections that need to be made….things that were already on the draft deliverable before the project lead messed them up!! I know this because the project lead kept the original draft and I can see that the errors were not there before. Plus, I spent 8+ hours on this thing, I know it pretty well.

    This is the first time in my career that I’ve felt frustrated and a little wronged by a person, rather than frustrated with the work itself. I’m afraid that this reflects badly on me in the eyes of the clients since they think that this was my work and therefore my errors. I don’t think there is anything for me to do about it, I can’t make my project lead who is senior to me email the group and take responsibility for the errors. I know he didn’t sabotage my work on purpose, but I can’t help but feel annoyed at him. I just don’t know how to deal with this. Has anybody else experienced this?

    1. LibbyG*

      So frustrating!

      If this is the first time this has happened and you’re generally known for good, careful work, then I think you don’t need to address this incident per se. Just be sure that going forward you shape the workflow better. Maybe send questions without the draft to the lead if you don’t entirely trust them to honor your request to send it back to you. Or meet in person to go over your questions.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Assuming a decent relationship with the project lead, you should discuss the matter. Take him/her through the document, show them the mistakes they made, and explain that you (and the company) looked really bad in front of the client. Then inform the project lead that from now on, they should not make corrections to the document, but instead inform you of any problems they see, so that you can edit the document and make sure that problems don’t creep into your presentation.

    3. Jadelyn*

      I haven’t been in this precise situation, but I don’t think you’d be out of line to talk to the project lead just to ask that, in the future, he send the corrected draft back to you for a final review before it goes to clients, since in this last document the edits he made produced errors elsewhere that you didn’t get a chance to correct before the clients saw it. Maybe lean a bit on the “of course we all want the work clients see to be our top quality, so can you please help me make sure that’s what actually happens” as a shared value. If you keep the focus on what you’d like to see happen going forward, it doesn’t sound as much like you’re chastising him for the current situation.

      1. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        Good approach. I’d worry that going and explicitly pointing out all the errors would not be well received. And I’ve definitely had things like this happen! Managers, who have less technical expertise that staff, reword things and change the meaning resulting in the information being incorrect! Very frustrating.

      2. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        This is a good idea, thanks! Based on edit requests that I’ve seen come in this morning, I think I might end up having to ask him what exactly he altered so I can fix the problem from the source and create less work for myself. That will probably be a good opportunity to bring this up.

    4. Marcy Marketer*

      This happened to me recently. Going forward, I plan to send PDFs when I can so changes have to be made by me. I also will just look more closely at the edited document before sending it to clients in the future.

      1. Hamburke*

        one of the few things that I love about Google docs & sheets is the share levels – I send so many documents back & forth as “can comment”!

    5. Purple Jello*

      I agree with Jadelyn to talk to your project lead: <>

      When you send your document for review, turn on Track Changes and password protect the document. Then the lead will have to send it back to you to unlock and accept the changes – and make your final review. Otherwise he’d have to send a document with tracked changes, which is obviously not a final document.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        We do use track changes on our Word documents, but this particular document was in a program that doesn’t offer track changes, unfortunately.

        I think password protecting a document that is supposed to be collaborative within our company would come across as a little hostile. The project lead and I normally work very well together, which I think contributed to how disappointed I am by this instance, but I’d really like to maintain that relationship if I can.

  9. Less Bread More Taxes*

    I have a burning question on awkwardness in the workplace. Basically, how do you address things when they get a little socially weird?

    The people at my current job (which I’ve been at for three months now) are more awkward than I remember anyone else being at previous jobs. There’s a tendency to let interactions linger. For example, one of my bosses will come to my desk every morning and ask if I have any questions for him. If I don’t have any, it ends up with me saying something like “I don’t have anything for you now, still working away on the report for project X!”. Every single time he just stands there for an extra few seconds smiling at me without responding and I end up just asking him about how his day is going to avoid painful silence.

    This question, however, comes from the single most awkward work experience of my life that happened on Tuesday and the followup on Wednesday. I work in a room with three others which I call my office. I got up to use the restroom, and my boss and her husband who also works here were ahead of me in the hallway. They turned around and literally ran over to me like they had something to say… but they didn’t. I initiated the conversation since it was turning awkward already and did the usual small talk for a few minutes … and then we all three just stood there for like 10 seconds without saying anything. They looked at me like I was supposed to tell *them* something. And they were blocking my way to the bathroom, so I ended up just saying “Well it was nice to see you” and ducked into my office to die of cringe. If I’d known them better, I’d say something like “Well it was nice catching up, but I have to pee! Can I shimmy past you guys?”

    THEN on Wednesday I opened my computer to find an email from my boss which said basically “Are you feeling okay? You seemed very shaky yesterday and I wanted to check in to see if anything was wrong.” It really rubbed me the wrong way since I don’t think I was the one who caused the awkwardness! And ‘shaky’? What does that even mean? I ended up sending the following response after mulling it over for an hour:

    I don’t want you to worry about me! I’m not sure why I would come across shaky – is this something that you have noticed often that is affecting my work here? Is there something I can work on?

    So… yeah. Was there a better email response I could have sent? Maybe I’ve been thinking about this way too much. How do I survive this job when nearly every interaction with my bosses is filled with awkward pauses? Do I just play that game and smile back until someone leaves? Ahhhhh.

    1. Duchess Honeybadger*

      Oi. I don’t know that I could have done it better than you did. But you are not wrong – that is super awkward.

    2. Little Pig*

      Oh my gosh. I have no advice to offer, just that I had a roommate like this. He was a perfectly nice, friendly guy, but he would come hang out near by as I was cooking/etc and just stand there smiling. Every time I walked through the kitchen to get to the bathroom, he would smile vaguely and say hello and I would have to make small talk. To use the bathroom. In my own home.

      By the end of the lease I HATED him. My blood still boils thinking about it.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        LMAO! I’m sorry, that sounds awful, but I hope you can see the humor in it now though I’m sure you wanted to karate chop his throat at the time.

        1. valentine*

          he would smile vaguely and say hello and I would have to make small talk.
          You could’ve said hello or acknowledged him nonverbally and not stopped. Even if he made small talk, you could’ve replied or laughed and kept going about your business.

          I agree with Mrs_helm below. In the morning, turn back to your work and plug away. He’ll leave. I think he’s waiting because you keep looking at him, so he thinks you have more to say and doesn’t want to walk out on you and doesn’t have an exit line. Best if you tell him, “I don’t usually have questions first thing, so, instead of you asking, let’s switch to me reaching out.” In the hallway, they thought you had something to say and, not knowing you were going elsewhere and possibly not realizing they were taking up the entire hallway like some people do, your retreat confirmed that you had something to say but ditched it for small talk. (Or they think you sought them out for awkward small talk.) Do you feel a great divide between them and you? Do you hold authority figures in exceedingly high esteem? You might have said, “Excuse me” or “Just passing through” and continued on your way.

      2. Manon*

        Ugh I’m in the same boat. I’m a college student renting a house with some friends and we rent out the vacant rooms over the summer. A friend of a friend subleased from us last summer and is back again this summer and he HOVERS incessantly. Like I’ll be cooking dinner, he’ll get home from work, we’ll chat for a minute – then he just stands watching me cook in silence for 30 minutes.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I probably would have said “well as you were blocking my path to the restroom I was desperately trying to hold in my fart”

      1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

        Lolol! I was thinking something similar but minus the part about the fart (I am a poet and didn’t know it!).

        I would have responded to the email with “Sorry if I seemed anything but normal in the hallway – I was actually headed to the restroom when you guys stopped me and I thought you had something work-related to discuss. After the minute of silence, I wasn’t sure what was going on so I retreated to my office.”

        How dare she make this about you being “shaky” (whatever that even MEANS!) after she caused an awkward interaction. I can’t stand those “ARE YOU OKAYYYYY??!!” type folks anyway – don’t feign concern when you are just clueless.

    4. Washi*

      Ahhhh I have a coworker who just stares at me at the end of our interactions! It’s super weird- I’ll answer her question and give all the “conversation over” signals and she’ll just stare at me for an extra couple of beats. At first I thought it was me or my language skills (we speak my second language together) but then I realized she does it with everyone. As awkward as it feels, I just turn away and continue with my work and let her stare at me for a few more seconds.

      All this to say that they were the awkward ones, not you!

    5. Jadelyn*

      The only advice I can offer is one that turns out very helpful in a variety of circumstances – get comfortable with silence. Learn to ride the pause. And then have a variety of stock phrases ready to extricate yourself with, like “well, I need to dive back in on X” or things like that. Let them be awkward, don’t internalize it, it’s not a you problem.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They sound like the “vibesssss” sort of people, who are trying to send you some energy or something with their weird long stares and smiles. I would try tricking my mind into ignoring them after you finish an interaction.

      I wonder how many people they’ve chased off with their weird behavior. This is something you can’t really guide people away form, it’s all about channeling your inner ability to disregard it.

    7. Errol*

      Next time go with firmly shouting “I HAVE TO PEE” and stare at them until they move out of the way. Make it equally as awkward for them.

      But actual advice – Some people aren’t the greatest at social interaction (me) and unlike me, some people kinda expect others to carry the interactions. When they linger, just go back to work. Be friendly of course, but after you say “nope, still working on project X” just smile and go back to work. If you just pretend they aren’t waiting and smiling at you, they will figure out they either need to continue the conversation or leave.

      But honestly, may as well make it amusing by making it as awkward for them as they’re making you.

    8. Anon from the Bronx*

      I have a sister-in-law like this. Always maintains eye contact & smiles faintly just a few beats too long IMO. Very uncomfortable!

    9. Busy*

      Haha I posted a couple weeks back about an interview I had at a company where the interviewers behaved like this (That thread turned strangely adversarial because people aren’t supposed to be thrown off by awkward behavior I guess? I’m still salty about that and haven’t asked advice here again) But anyway, yeah! It was awkward enough for me to literally not take the job! You have my sympathies.

      1. CMart*

        Well now I very much want to find that thread. I’m always fascinated by the discussions that sometimes happen in the comments section here where there’s a clear divide between people who think body language/social dynamics can/should/do have impact and people who think only words written or spoken, taken at face value, matter.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          In that case, you should totally check out the most recent Captain Awkward.

    10. Mrs_helm*

      “Will you excuse me?” Works in a lot of circumstances. In that hallway, add a step forward and it means “I need to get past you”. When someone is at your desk, say that and then turn back to your work, to signal “I need to work”. It’s a very polite phrase, but almost no one can say no to. But if they do have something else to say, it prompts them to get on with it.

    11. smoke tree*

      Sometimes I find it freeing to realize that I’m not the source of the awkwardness. Since this seems to be your boss’s normal way of operating, she probably doesn’t really see these interactions as awkward at all. So if you can let go of the pressure to “fix” this, you might find it easier to get along with her.

    12. Anonymouse123*

      So I’m a weird person who absolutely LOVES awkward encounters. I just find them funny and they are the cupcake sprinkles of life.

      In these situations though, I find that things get more awkward the more people try to make them NOT awkward. For example, smiling, or saying something polite, or nodding.
      The fix, I find, is just politely saying what I need in that moment. So a friendly “I need to use the restroom, I’m gonna scoot by.” Or “Sorry, I really need to finish this report, let me know if you need anything” usually does the trick.

      For the email, I think you may have inadvertently opened an invitation for them to think of other times they thought you were shaky. I tend to just shut things down and close any sort of open loop “thanks for your email. I just really needed to use the restroom, I’m sure you understand! Everything’s good.”

      But in low stakes social interactions, I just have so much fun leaning into the awkwardness and seeing how they turn out.

    13. Samwise*

      Hmm, not sure why you felt the need to start a convo when you were heading to the bathroom. Just say, Excuse me! Or, Excuse me, gotta get to the facilities!

    14. Clarissa*

      Since you’ve only been there 3 months you haven’t gotten used to your coworkers/boss. And everyone handles these situations differently. Try practicing what you will say, or what you should have said.
      1. Say nothing.
      2. “I’m on my way to the bathroom.”
      3. “I have to get back to work.”
      4. Elevators used to be hard for me. Now I just smile/nod. If someone says hi I say hi.
      You will get used to these new people and everything will be fine.

    15. Close Bracket*

      So I am a) autistic and b) 48, which combine to make me completely impatient with things that go unsaid. For your bathroom example, I would have said, “excuse me,” and made as though to walk past them. If they didn’t move out-of-the-way, I would have said, “I’m actually on my way to the restroom.” If they still didn’t get out of the way, I would have said, “you’re blocking my path,” and would next have escalated to, “You’re in my way.” In the case of people hovering in your cube when you feel a conversation is over, I would say, “is there anything else you need?” And if they say no, then I say “OK I’m going to get back to work then.”
      Use your words. When unspoken signals got crossed, just speak them. It makes life so much easier.

    16. WannaAlp*

      That sounds to me like somehow, they have got hold of some greatly erroneous impression of you, and there is some kind of issue with you that you might need interaction for, or they would want to interact with. That would explain why your boss is being extra-communicative with you and giving you plenty of chances to say whether you need help with something. Whatever it is, it must also be pretty gossip-worthy if the corridor cabal rushed eagerly at you, they were presumably hoping to get an update, but you disappointed them(!)

      I don’t know how you deal with that, but you might try to get to the bottom of whatever rumours are being spread about you?

  10. Webex interview etiquette*

    Question on webex interview etiquette:

    Tl;dr; Webcam or no webcam?

    I’ve been through 5 interviews with an organization now, all via webex. I used my webcam in them all, but aside from the first interviewer turning his on at the end, none used their webcam. Is this normal? It felt kind of rude, but it was my first experience with webex interviews.

    1. Anonysand*

      I think it depends on the company and the department. At OldJob, which was a large/international company, we used Webex primarily as a glorified conference call tool. Most people would call in and the screen share option would be used during meetings, and that’s about it. There were a few individual teams that would use their webcams, but it wasn’t the norm.

      I would assume that webcams would be good for an interview, but in your instance maybe it’s better to leave it off and see how they proceed. Or, if they don’t, you can ask if they’d like to turn them on.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, my company (a global software company) uses Skype and Teams for meetings and calls, but don’t use the video function at all. They didn’t even use them for my interviews, which I was fully expecting – they just called me on the phone. I actually liked and appreciated that since it didn’t make me self conscious during my interviews about how I looked or sounded, and it gave me an idea about how it was going to be at my company once I worked here (no video chats ever – yay!).

    2. Award winning llama wrangler*

      I just interviewed someone recently and had mine turned off. He very politely asked if there was a problem since he could see himself, but not me. I explained that it was 6:30am my time, and I wasn’t camera ready (I work remotely but very rarely wear pajamas to work, this was one of those times).

      Truthfully, I usually flip screens to the list of questions I want to ask and don’t look at the camera feed at all.

  11. Sunflower*

    How do I list a job on my resume that I’ve only been at for 3 months (and currently am employed at)? (second question today because it’s been a rough week)

    I’ve decided to throw some feelers out there after 3 months at my job. A lot of things have turned out differently and aren’t going to change so I’d like to just see what’s out there. I’m rather lost at how to list my current job. I want to keep it on there to show I’m employed but I obviously haven’t accomplished much/anything. Do I list my title, company, dates with no bullet points? Should I list 2 bullet points? Depending on how this goes, I may just keep this job off my resume in the future, so I’m mostly concerned with how to handle it in the present. I’m also most likely looking to change industries if that makes a difference.

    1. Lucette Kensack*

      I think the current job will hurt you more than help you. The positive effect of demonstrating that you’re currently employed is outweighed by the questions it will raise about why you’re leaving so quickly.

      1. Remote cat herder*

        Counterpoint: it’s still work experience. Op probably picked up a few new skills during those 3 months of onboarding, and that’s potentially valuable.

        The quick job switch can be fine IF op has a really good explanation – preferably something that was out of their control. For example, if the job was extremely different in reality than it was described on the job posting.

    2. (Former) HR Expat*

      I’m in the same boat as you. The job I was sold on 4 months ago is completely different than the job I’m currently doing (I was told they were looking to transform strategically, but what they really wanted was a recruiter who can handle the tactical paperwork side of HR too). Haven’t really expanded my skillset or made any meaningful contributions yet. I listed a couple bullet points with some of my tasks. It’s not the best, but I’ll probably leave it off the resume once I move on.

      1. BellBookCandle*

        Ding ding ding
        Same here. But communications focused role.
        Am having a tough conversation on Friday about resigning and well… It has been a messy time. I am third person in this role in 9 months. Boss is all over the map so to speak on messaging and needs etc. No kpis. No plans. It is a start up. With a lot of funding. And issues.

        1. Regina George is my Coworker*

          *raises hand* I, too, was alarmed to learn about the turnover rate in my current role. (Only learned about it after I was hired, of course!) I casually asked the people who were training me, “wow, why all the turnover?” and there was a VERY long, awkward silence.

          Surprise, surprise – a few months later, I’m looking for a different job. Lesson learned: ask more questions about why the last person left, how long they were in the role, etc.

    3. Natalie*

      It’s kind of a crapshoot, honestly. There’s no way to tell if leaving quickly is going to be more of a problem for any particular employer than looking like you’ve been unemployed for several months. You pays your money and you takes your chances, as they say.

      When I was in that situation I had the most luck with external recruiters. Convention allows them to be a little more direct than you can in a cover letter, so they did want me to include my current job and then they explained the circumstances to potential employers. I listed the basic job info (company, title, duties overview) with no accomplishments or highlights.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s what I did back in the day, minus using a recruiter (I used a temp agency). I was able to move on just fine because the agency explained why I was looking to leave for me in a more professional (and BS) way.

    4. Partly Cloudy*

      I wish I could help, but I’m just here to offer further evidence to the fact that including it vs. leaving it off is a crap shoot.

      I recently interviewed a candidate who has only been at their current job for a month-ish, which originally put me off, but after learning more about their current position, I understand why they put it on their resume. It’s relevant and is slightly different from their past jobs in a way that differentiates them as a candidate for the open position. I’m still hemming and hawing over having this person back for a second interview – not just because of the resume, of course, but this position is actually a significant plus.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        Can you say more about why it’s a plus? As someone who has done a lot of hiring, it’s hard for me to imagine that a candidate with one month in a role would bring any meaningful experience from that role.

        1. Employee of a house of evil bees*

          I can offer an example! I learned to use a popular CRM software during my first month at Current Toxic Job. This was my first time using the software, but it’s a CRM-heavy role so I learned very fast. I’ve only been at this job a few months, but having that on my resume opens up a lot of doors for jobs that require a bit of previous CRM experience.

  12. Flinty*

    My job got a new database system about a year ago that my team uses every day. I picked it up pretty quickly and ended up helping a lot of my coworkers get the hang of it. A year in, most of them now have the hang of it and rarely ask me for help, especially since about 8 months ago I wrote up detailed instructions for all the things we do in this system. The problem is “Mary,” who constantly asks me for help. When I ask her to check the instructions, she incorrectly insists that what she needs is not in there, despite a clear table of contents with clear descriptive titles of all the processes (also no one else has this issue!) She is not able to follow written instructions even when they are shown to her.

    I brought this up to my supervisor, who told me that Mary had a traumatic brain injury a few years ago that affects her short term memory. She said that me helping Mary is her accommodation. The issue isn’t time – I’m very efficient and could technically squeeze this in. But I hate the interruptions, am completely running low on patience, don’t want to deal with this, and have noticed that others have begun to follow Mary’s lead and ask me questions that they could find the answers to themselves. Is there any way I can push back on this?

    1. Decima Dewey*

      Wow. It’s great that the company is trying to accommodate Mary. I’ve had short term memory issues all my life and can sympathize (no traumatic brain injury in my case). But I don’t think one coworker helping Mary is the best way to accommodate Mary’s short term memory issues. Particularly if it wasn’t made clear to OP in advance.

      1. valentine*

        Your supervisor needs to hire an actual aide for Mary. No one’s being helped here. This isn’t memory. Literacy is long-term memory. Mary seems to have a process/sequencing issue, as she can’t figure out how to use a table of contents. I don’t think you can teach her because her brain is moving the goalposts. You would have to go through every word in the FAQ. I can’t remember document titles because, where I would title them Thing (etc.), others will use, not even How to, but Doing Thing or Generating Stuff for Thing. It makes no sense and drives me up the wall. For Mary, if you tell her to look under Doing, even if she remembers that works for Thing, she won’t know to look under similar words or to do a title search for “Thing,” etc. Is this even what you’re meant to do or are you meant to be her ToC/FAQ and just tell her the manual exists and what page something is on?

        Tell your supervisor you’re spinning your wheels and Mary deserves an aide trained to work with TBI patients. (It might help to ask what the objective is and how much time you’re meant to spend, but the bottom line is you want out, so you don’t want her resolving this by removing your other duties and appointing you to Mary full-time.) It’s weird that Mary doesn’t seem to know that you’re meant to help her. I wonder if supervisor has said anything to her.

        Shut down your opportunistic colleagues by telling them supervisor has assigned you to help Mary or just saying, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out” or “Manual.”

    2. Tango Foxtrot*

      I don’t know how different this is, since my needs are seizure-related rather than cognitive, but any time my needed accommodations will involve action by a coworker, they’re told what to expect, what is my responsibility, and what is theirs. I find that helpful for everyone.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      What does a short term memory issue have to do with reading and following along with a process doc? Seems to me the accommodation was creating that document.
      Now if the injury affected her ability to read and process written words that would be different (no sarcasm intended but for some reason it reads that way to me) and talking her through it would be an accommodation although I’m not sure that should fall on you.
      At minimum keep referring the others to your documentation. Since this probably isn’t going to stop, is there a particular time of day that you could set aside as “Mary time”?

      1. Flinty*

        I have explained numerous times how to use the instructions I gave (how to search, how to look at the table of contents, that you have to follow the instructions step by step, etc) so I assume there must be a processing issue? Because yeah, I thought writing up a manual would solve the issue and it very much has not.

        1. WellRed*

          I agree, this is more than just a memory issue. I don’t think it’s reasonable for Mary’s accommodation to be *you.* She may not be suited for the job.

        2. Commenter*

          “I have explained numerous times how to use the instructions I gave (how to search, how to look at the table of contents, that you have to follow the instructions step by step, etc)…”

          ^ This makes me wonder if you could potentially document *those* instructions (i.e. the meta “how to use this instruction manual” instructions), if that’s where she’s consistently getting stuck at this point.

          You could frame it as a “Quick Start Guide” of sorts, or possibly a FAQ, and include the things you mention – how to search, how to use the table of contents, etc. Just keep it the quick reference doc as simple and direct as possible, and possibly use color and/or images as much as possible so it’s easy to scan the document and quickly find the applicable information.

          I also totally agree that you shouldn’t be expected to *be* her accommodation, but it’s worth considering if there might be some ways you could make the wealth of documentation you’ve created be even more readily accessible (as that would likely make your documentation more valuable and useful to everyone!).

          Good luck – this sounds SO frustrating! :(

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I like the Quick FAQ idea. I think these tools are worthwhile even without having a “Mary” situation.

        3. C*

          Can you do a screencap recording of how to do the tasks she regularly asks about? If it’s an issue with processing written instruction, having some videos on her desktop titled “Update Lllama weights” and “Entering Llama feeding details” or something might be easier for her to find and the videos easier for her to process rather than asking you every time.

          1. Flinty*

            A few people have mentioned video, but when we had a trainer come to teach us to use the system, I noticed Mary had a very very difficult time following along unless the person next to her was repeating the instructions and using their finger to show her where to click.

            I would consider doing a recording/video if I thought it might work, but I really doubt it would, unfortunately.

            I also do have a general FAQ on the 2nd page of the manual (after the table of contents) but as best I can discover, her eyes just sort of skim over it :(

            1. Tango Foxtrot*

              With some of my students without with TBI, we use greyscale pictures of the screen with a colored arrow pointing to the place where they should click for each step. It minimizes visual distraction, which might help.

    4. KR*

      Are the instructions in PDF form? I wonder if you could show Mary how to utilize the search feature on a PDF so if she’s having issues running the teapot report you can show her that if she searches Reports it will come up, just as an example.

      Also is there a way she can email or save your questions for a once a day or once every other day chat? I think it might also be helpful when showing her how to do things to use the manual as a follow-along tool. So you’re more just walking her through the steps already provided in the manual.

    5. Flinty*

      I appreciate everyone’s input! Just to be clear, I do not want to be Mary’s accommodation. I don’t mind the occasional question, but I am tired of showing her the same things. Also, she is not very gracious if I tell her I need to help her later, which adds to my annoyance. Is there any way to tell my manager that I do not want to do this anymore?

      1. Bulbasaur*

        Maybe your company could invest in software that would allow Mary to record videos of her using the program to complete certain tasks, and she could just watch them again when she needed a refresher.

        That way, she has a library built of the specific tasks for which she is responsible that she can access at any time. Plus, it benefits everyone–it’s more documentation that can be used in the future.

      2. BethDH*

        I wonder whether you could bring it up with your manager as “how can we make this process work better?” rather than “how can I get out of this?”
        Then focus on the multiple interruptions, the inefficiency, and how it’s bleeding over into others doing it too.
        I think it would probably help too if you had some suggestions about improvements that could get the ball rolling on all three of you thinking of better ways to manage it. The “one time a day” thing, or that she goes to a different person each day for questions (on a schedule), or moving around some of her responsibilities so that she’s doing a smaller variety of processes. If it’s a visual-text-processing thing or something like that, there also might be technological aids available (I’m totally guessing here, but like the equivalent of a screenreader or Siri/Alexa for finding the right spot in the index).

      3. Auntie Social*

        Can you say that it’s clear you’re not effective since you’re explaining the same thing all the time? Should someone else have a go at being her accommodation, to see if they’re any better at it? If they have the same results as you then its time to give Mary a job that doesn’t deal with the database. She may be very relieved that she doesn’t have to keep bothering you, feeling ineffectual, like a bottleneck, etc. Suggest/ help create a position that’s really an accommodation. Are there aspects of her job where she doesn’t ask questions and her work is accurate? Have her do more of that–maybe offload some things that other people find repetitive.

      4. Just Here For This*

        I don’t know the politics in your office, but I have been where you are before. The only thing that ever worked was for the supervisor or manager to be as inconvenienced as I was. As long as it was me, then it was personalities and communication. When it was them, then it was performance issues and productivity. I once spent months dealing with a very negative person – and she was supposed to take work from my desk because I was working overtime – but she would wait for the attorneys to leave and then bring it back to me and do something else, or leave it. When hauled into a meeting by HR she was encouraged to vent about the lack of support she was getting. When I answered her with the performance issues I was seeing, HR kicked me under the table and I kicked HR back. After that, I asked the attorney to give her feedback personally and see how it went. After 72 hours of his giving her the same instructions over and over, the overtime was back on my desk and she was moved into a PIP. After she quit to avoid being fired, I was given even more overtime to reconstruct the documents she destroyed.

        When in a meeting later about this, I brought my notes. HR asked for them and seeing original paper, asked if they were the only copy with a smile on her face. I said yes, but I had a photocopy of everything at home. But I don’t know that your situation is as hostile as mine was. Maybe running the red flag up the pole politely will do the trick. Before anyone asks, HR was fired after I resigned and I declined an exit interview so it wasn’t me.

        You have to decide if this will help you, but I would document everything you are doing for her, the written instructions you have created, and that other employees are following her lead. If you can, write down the number of interruptions you get in a day. I got 47 once. I had a steno in my top drawer tracking it. I wrote the date on the top of a page, and then the time at each request. See if you can politely ask for a supervisor to take over for one week to “assess” the situation and offer a solution to you based on their observations.

        1. No Green No Haze*

          When I answered her with the performance issues I was seeing, HR kicked me under the table and I kicked HR back.

          You’re my hero.

      5. Busy*

        You’re going to have to go back to your boss and ask them to (politely) explain to you how they expect you to utilize your time. I would go in with specifics like how often Mary needs to use this program to do her job and what that means for what you are spending your time doing. And then politely and respectfully point out that doing this for her is a very keen part of your skill set. Because to be clear, what they are asking is for you to literally stand beside and walk her through the use of this program every single time she needs to use it. Which means they are paying two people to do that one job at that moment – and I am not seeing that they are understanding that. And since this seems to be their solution for her accommodation, which is totally fine, then they need to put someone in that position whose skill set is good for walking people patiently through the same actions every day. Like you wouldn’t have taken this job knowing you would have to walk someone through a program to do their job every single day right? I mean, that is more a role for a professional disability helper – as in you are helping her with her disability and not actually doing a function of work in the role you were hired. And I think it is important to press the difference to them about that. It is one thing to train new people and then go back to your job. It is another to do what they are asking you to do – which is actually much more caregiver than they realize.

        And don’t fall into that trap of efficiency, either. Efficiency is just the fast track to burn-out. Ask me how I know.

        1. Busy*

          * And then politely and respectfully point out that doing this for her is a NOT very keen part of your skill set

        2. Flinty*

          Thank you, this is especially helpful! I do think I need to point out that regardless of the fact that I’m still managing to meet my goals, this is really, really not a good use of my time. And also hint at the fact that I would not have taken this job had I known this would be expected of me as a job duty. (I’m not in IT for a reason! I really do not have the patience.)

      6. 99 lead balloons*

        Not in HR, but my understanding is that accommodations for a disability (I’m sure brain injury qualifies) have to be *reasonable*. While it’s great that they want to make accommodations for Mary, assigning you to be her accommodation (especially without telling you or asking you if you were ok with that!) doesn’t strike me as reasonable. Use that word, “reasonable” when you approach your boss and consider looping in HR because that is going to be the key word here. It’s not reasonable to force another employee to be another person’s accommodation, especially when it disrupts your ability to do your job.

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          And also consider using the word “sustainable,” as in “your solution is not sustainable in the long run, b/c what happens when I go on vacation, or get sick, or have car trouble, and can’t be in the office? What if Mary’s problems worsen, taking up even more of my time, so that I start to fall behind in my own work?” If it’s safe to do so, maybe you can help them do some forward thinking about how leadership’s current choice could play out in potential future less-than-ideal situations?

    6. Scarlet*

      “Oh, I’m not sure I remember actually. It’s been a little while since I’ve referenced that and I wouldn’t want to give you wrong information. I would say double check the guide – but if it’s not in there, you might have to play around with it and figure it out. Sorry I can’t help more!”

      Repeat as necessary.

      Seriously, I had to do this when I first started my career. Being young, you become the go-to tech person. It only ends when you play dumb.

  13. Anon here again*

    At new job, a coworker mentioned that I was the “woman that wore all black to the interview.” I just had a black dress on. Is that bad? Was I supposed to wear hot pink? What colors/what should women wear to interviews?

    1. londonedit*

      In my view: not at all bad, they’re just weird! Who remembers what people wore to their job interviews? I can barely remember what I wore to my own interviews by the time I’ve got the job! Wearing a black dress is so normal I can’t believe anyone would comment on it.

      1. MsPantaloons*

        A friend who was originally my boss (~5 years ago) recently reminded me of my interview outfit from 2014. She said, “well, I’m certain you wore flats. And then, let’s see, a pink dress or blouse?”

        It blew my mind. She explained that she always remembers what she was wearing for important events, and usually remembers what others were wearing too. It’s just part of what “sticks” about the memory for her.

        Anyway, I wouldn’t worry about it too much!

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          That’s how my mind works too – I remember people’s outfits. Not their names or even their faces, but what they wore. I love clothes so that may be my issue.

        2. Kathleen_A*

          I’ve known other people who always remember what other people were wearing (and what they themselves were wearing, too). They could do this even if it was something as ordinary as a black dress.

          So it could be as simple as that.

          1. Anne (with an “e”)*

            Some people are visual learners and I guess visual rememberers— This is something I have always done. I adore clothes and tend to associate certain memories with certain outfits. When I think back to certain events in my life I always remember what I was wearing and what other people were wearing. When I read this comment I thought, “Well, that’s not strange at all.” I know what I wore to interview for my college scholarship, for my first job interview, for my current job first interview. I know what I and others were wearing. I know what I wore the first day of work at every job I’ve ever had. I know what my supervisors were wearing. — Not strange to me at all. I pay attention to clothing. So, if I were interviewing you I can see you becoming “black dress woman” to me until I really learned your name. Now I truly struggle with remembering names, but visual cues are just the way my memory works.

    2. Rey*

      No, it is not bad to wear a black dress. That was probably the visual cue that they remembered from the interview, they same way someone might say, “the red-headed applicant” or “the really tall applicant”.

    3. Happy Lurker*

      I usually wear black. Many of the people I interview wear black. It’s clean and simple. No loud patterns to offend people.
      Coworker made a weird comment? Chalk it up to nervousness. Maybe they couldn’t figure out what to say and realized they put their foot in their mouth after the fact. Coworker keeps making strange comments…ugh. I expect we will hear about it here! ;)

    4. Duchess Honeybadger*

      Assuming the best about her, I did the same when I had a huge new group of onboarding students and hadn’t learned their names yet. “Tall Guy” “Cool Shoes Woman” “Ears” But I didn’t say them out loud, for cri-yi. Assuming the worst, ignore the haters. I bet you looked fly.

    5. Middle Manager*

      I’m thinking it was just a way to keep candidates straight if they had a large pool of people. I recently was on a panel (I know, they are terrible, but it’s government and we don’t get a choice) and took to referring to one candidate as “sports guy” because all the leadership examples he gave were from being on athletic teams and another lady as “the sales woman” because that was her main background and she was selling us hard in the interview. To me it was just a label to keep all the people straight. But maybe visual appearance/dress isn’t the best way to tag that since it could veer into stereotypes and gender issues.

      1. RandomU...*

        This is what I was thinking. Reminds me of a story that one of our HR people told me. Apparently there was something going on with an applicant that the interview notes were looked at by the legal team She had put something in the notes about ‘blue shirt’. The legal team jumped all over that comment in the notes and asked if it was code for something, why she wrote it down, what did it mean, etc. She had to produce her interview notes for other candidates that had similar comments of ‘green glasses’, ‘purple coat’, and other descriptors.

        She said she stopped writing down reminders based on appearance in her notes after that. She truly did use them as a way of referring to candidates and there was nothing nefarious about it.

    6. Anon here again*

      Is it too much black though to wear black dress, black panty hose, black shoes, and black purse? That’s what I wore and maybe that’s what coworker meant?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If you didn’t wear any jewelry, and the dress didn’t have any interesting structural details, then that’s a lot of uninterrupted black. Which is not a bad thing at all, as far as I’m concerned, but I guess some people might have a thing about black.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I think the black pantyhose is what tips it from “normal, if slightly somber, interview wear” into “office goth” to me. Black dress? Normal. Black shoes? Also very normal. Black purse? Super common. But pantyhose of any color is increasingly uncommon aside from certain very conservative fields, and black pantyhose with all the rest of that? Yeah, that’s a bit much.

          1. Emi.*

            Black pantyhose looks like funeral wear to me personally (unless you have dark skin, then it looks like it was the closest you could find to “nude” which sucks but obviously doesn’t reflect on you).

          2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

            Oh snap, I’ve been wearing all black to my new job for the past 3 months… and the hose are more like opaque tights. Yikes!

            1. Anon here again*

              My panty hose were sheer and had a pattern on them, but it was very small. (Little dots.)

                1. valentine*

                  I loathe pantyhose and not breaking the line is pleasing, so, when possible, I always wore opaque black tights with black skirts and shoes.

              1. Jadelyn*

                I agree – I have genuinely garnered astonished exclamations from my coworkers for wearing vivid colors once in awhile, because I literally am the office goth type. It wasn’t a judgment so much as understanding why someone might take specific note of that, because it’s out of the ordinary. There aren’t very many of us office goths running around out there, sadly. :)

          3. Business School Goth(?)*

            This makes me really sad. I’d feel uncomfortable going bare-legged (I have the uncomfortable combination of really pale skin and black hair, plus I feel that tights/hose have a slimming effect on me), and I have a weird body shape such that it’s easier to find skirts that fit than pants. Black tights were going to be my method of survival in the workplace!

            1. Snake in the Grass*

              I feel you, as I have the same combination. I’m not in the US, but I’ve always worn black (or even coloured) opaque tights with skirts in winter, and longer (tea length) skirts in summer, and it’s a really common combination here. I mean, last week I saw my bank’s lending manager and my lawyer, and both of them were in opaque black tights with skirts.

            2. Jasnah*

              I wouldn’t worry about it, black tights are a big thing in many countries and I think they’re super comfy in winter.

              1. londonedit*

                Yeah, opaque black tights with dresses and skirts are absolutely the norm here in the UK! I’ll admit I’m always a bit confused about what ‘hose’ actually is (stockings??) as it’s not a term that’s commonly used here, but just about everyone wears opaque black tights to work pretty much all year round (hello, British summer!)

      2. SciDiver*

        That is a lot of black, and perhaps you could have added contrasting cardigan, or some jewelry, or just swapping the black panty hose for one in your skin tone to make it less uniform, but I think this is just your coworker making an odd comment. I’ve spent some time working in technical theatre and performing arts so lots of my work clothes are completely black outfits–nothing weird about it!

      3. Alianora*

        Imo it’s definitely on the darker side of normal, but it’s not out there enough that someone should comment on it, especially since it was a dress! Unless your makeup was also super dark or the style of dress was outside of normal business wear. Probably your coworker didn’t mean anything by it.

        I wear a lot of black (and gray) myself so my purses are all some shade of cognac, because I like having a little contrast. If you feel self conscious about it, maybe an idea to consider.

        Re:black pantyhose/tights/stockings I’m actually surprised people think that pushes you into office goth. That doesn’t stand out to me any more than the other items.

      4. Faith*

        Back when I was in college, we had a “Professional development” class, and we were taught that black should be reserved for “weddings and funerals”. According to the professor, the interview attire should be navy, charcoal, or gray. While this rule always seemed overly rigid to me, what you are describing does sound like a funeral type attire. I think that “nude for you” hose and a pop of color elsewhere (maybe a light scarf?) would make it a bit less severe.

      5. RabbitRabbit*

        Yeah, I think it might be the black everything that did it. That could look somber.

        I work in a teaching hospital, and we have resident interviews where for several years, everyone wore a black suit (different color shirt). I’d occasionally see someone with a gray or some other color and mentally joke that they must have missed the memo that said black suits were the thing to wear. I would bet good money that their interviewers used suit color to at least informally identify those candidates.

        1. unrecognizable*

          We had a guy interview here a coupe years back that wore a black suit and an orange tie. Kudos to him for thinking “Hey, orange is one of their company colors” but…a black suit & orange tie is the uniform of the security/front desk team.

          This wasn’t held against him, obviously, but he must have been mortified when he walked in the door.

        2. Close Bracket*

          At the extremely large hiring event for the job that I currently hold, at some point I realized that the applicant pool was a sea of black suits. I wore plum.

      6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Lydia Deetz, that you?

        It rings in alternative/gothic in my mind given my background but it’s not going to be a “bad” thing. This is the PNW though, so other places may be put off by it more so than places in this area, it’s just a Tuesday, up here.

      7. Close Bracket*

        IOW, she accurately described your outfit. If you had worn all yellow and she described you as “the candidate who wore all yellow,” I would say that you are reading in sentiments that are not there. However, in my experience as a lifelong all black wearer, it’s extremely likely that there was some implied criticism. There might not have been! You are still new and don’t know these people well enough to know whether they judge people who wear all black. I would file this away as Schrödinger’s comment. It May have been a neutral aside about a factual description that helped them remember you in much the same way as “the very tall interviewee” or it may have been an implied judgment. But you don’t know that right now. So let it go.

    7. Marion Q*

      I don’t think that’s bad; it’s very common actually? I wore black suit or black blouse+trousers. And I also notice women who come for interview in my office wearing black or other dark colours, like navy, grey, or brown. Those who wear light colours usually wear white, cream, or light brown.

    8. ATX Language Learner*

      I think they were just referring to you as the person who wore the black dress to identify who you were. Nothing wrong with a black dress. It would be like if they referred to be as the woman who has red hair. I don’t think their comment was weird.

    9. jDC*

      What?? Maybe I am biased because i live in black but a black dress causes this? Really? Black is totally professional.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Black/Neutrals are the old norm.

      I wear prints myself. Reminds me…I haven’t seen my fox blouse in awhile, fml. That’s what I wore to my last round of interviews. It was a hit.

      But I think she was just being a bit awkward at best, it’s nothing wrong but it does stand out a bit since it’s not what everyone does. Most of our interviews are pretty across the spectrum of colors and prints/patterns.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yep! It has tiny foxes printed on it.
          If you google Fox Blouse Torrid, you’ll see what I mean =)

    11. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      It might have nothing to do with you, but everything to do with what the other candidates were wearing. They may have both, coincidentally, worn more colorful outfits.

    12. Former Church Lady, now a Fed*

      I have one suit, that while now too big, doesn’t look too bad. That baby gets brought out for all kinds of formal things, like interviews. I have a bright blue shell, a green blouse, and a couple of other things to wear under it. I also have some great pins/brooches from the Met Store that I use. The pin/brooch almost always is an icebreaker that people mention. But, really, most people are just “dressed up” for an interview and it’s never been memorable for me. I think more memorable is one of the interns that came in for his interview in sweats!? What!?

    13. Anoncorporate*

      Were they criticizing you, or just describing what you wore? When people try to remember a bunch of people without knowing their names, they tend to latch onto what they are/were wearing. A black dress is normal to wear to an interview (as long is it’s not too tight or revealing.)

    14. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I hope it’s not a problem these days. 90% of my office appropriate clothing is black, or black and white. For one thing, it’s hard to get plus size clothing in my price range that is anything other than black. And I’ve just always liked black and white.

    15. person who hires*

      I think it was a “how they remembered you” not necessarily a comment on your dress. Of my current staff I have “girl who really likes ice cream” and “girl’s whose dog barked during the skype call” and “guy we thought might not fit in the office, he’s so tall”. It just how we remember specific people during the hiring process. I wouldn’t much thought into it.

  14. Susan K*

    Part of my job as a teapot designer involves reviewing documents that are prepared by teapot makers and sending them back for corrections if necessary. They are important for regulatory compliance and contain data that is used in regulatory reports.

    About 30% of these documents have to be sent back to the teapot makers to redo something and 40% need simple corrections that I can make on the spot. Some errors are because people don’t know or misunderstand/misremember what they’re supposed to do, but the vast majority are poor attention to detail, like not including the TPS cover sheet or selecting the wrong type of chocolate on a drop-down menu (which affects calculations). By the time I get the documents for final review, they’ve already been reviewed by a peer and a manager, but the other reviews aren’t catching these errors.

    Correcting so many errors adds hours to my workload every week. I’ve discussed this with my manager, and he seems unhappy about the large number of errors, but hasn’t done anything about it. I am not the teapot makers’ manager, so all I can do is keep sending documents back to them for corrections. Sometimes, they don’t even fix the errors on the first try. I’ve told my manager that I would like to work with the teapot makers’ manager to help improve the quality of the teapot makers’ work, but he hasn’t taken me up on it yet, so I want to ask again a little more assertively and come prepared with recommendations for how to accomplish it.

    What I don’t want is for their manager to decide that I need to spend hours personally tutoring each teapot maker — both because I don’t have time and because I honestly don’t think that will help, since most of the errors are due to poor attention to detail. There are detailed instructions for preparing these documents, but a lot of people skim/rush through them or don’t read the instructions because they think they remember. A few months ago, I sent an e-mail to all of the teapot makers with a list of the most common errors and how to prevent them, and there has been no change in the error rate. I’m thinking maybe the long list wasn’t effective because (1) it was too much information at once and (2) since I sent it to everyone, they all probably thought someone else was the culprit (in reality, they all make errors, even the top performers). Some of my ideas include:

    – A weekly focus area where they do an extra check for a specific issue (e.g., week 1: check every TPS report to make sure it has a cover sheet before sending it for review; week 2: check to make sure the type of chocolate on the order form matches the type of chocolate used in the calculations). This would have to be directed by the manager because I don’t have the authority to demand it.

    – Making a comprehensive checklist for each type of document that must be completed prior to submitting for review. This would also have to be directed by the manager.

    – Sending each person a list of his or her top three types of errors so they know what to focus on.

    – Sending each person a list of errors he or she has made on each type of document in hopes of, I guess, guilt-tripping them into improving.

    – Sending a weekly report of errors to the teapot makers’ manager and hoping he takes some action on his own.

    Any other suggestions?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      All of that sounds like a lot of extra work for you! Except possibly the checklist, which could be a one-time thing – that’s the one I would focus on.

      Do you have the authority to reject the docs, rather than fixing the errors? Not that you expect them to be perfect necessarily, but you should be able to send them back if you’re spending too much time on work that someone else should have done in the first place.

      See if you can set some benchmarks for work that you can fix vs work that you can’t, and then if there are too many errors (or the errors are too significant, or you’re spending too much time), send it back to the owners so they can fix them themselves. That will have the double benefit of teaching them what good documentation looks like, and freeing up your time so you can focus on your own part of the job.

      1. Susan K*

        Yes, I could reject (send back) the documents for all of the corrections rather than fix the simple ones myself, but it actually takes more of my time to write a note explaining what to correct, keep track of the documents that I’ve sent back for corrections, follow up to make sure I get them back (sometimes I have to ask several times), and re-check them when I get them back — at which point they still might not be correct and I have to start the process over again. That’s why I usually correct the smaller errors myself and only send back the ones that require significant rework. I feel sort of guilty when I fix them myself because I know the teapot makers won’t learn if they don’t know they’re making mistakes, but sometimes I just can’t afford to spend the extra time to send the documents back.

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          I wouldn’t even give them notes on what to correct, to be honest. (Although I realize you may not have that kind of leeway!) In my ideal world, I would say something like “I fixed X errors on the first page, but I can see that there are still significant errors on the following pages. Here’s your document back, along with the beautiful checklist that I created – please send it back once the errors are fixed and the checklist is complete.”

          And as far as getting the docs back – do *you* need them back in order to complete your work? What happens if they never come back to you?

          I don’t know your process or requirements obviously, but it sounds to me like you’re doing a lot of hand-holding that maybe you shouldn’t be doing. In addition to whatever “teaching people to fish” you might be doing with checklists and controls and whatnot, you might also want to track how much time you’re spending on fixing other people’s errors. Then you can show that to your own manager and ask if that’s an appropriate use of your time. Good luck!

          1. Susan K*

            I give them notes on what to correct because if I don’t, they often don’t get corrected the first time around. Often, one error affects other things, so there is more to fix than the original error. It probably would be more effective to keep sending them back until everything is fixed, but it would also be much more painful and time-consuming for me to have to check the documents repeatedly and keep track of what still needs to be fixed. Plus, we are all on the same team here, and I don’t think it would go over well for me to intentionally withhold information about what needs to be fixed just to make it more difficult for the teapot makers.

            I do need to get the documents back in a reasonable amount of time. I have to scan and send them to the document retention team, which I can’t do until everything is correct. More importantly, I use the data in these documents to do calculations for reports to regulatory agencies, so I need to make sure all of the data in the documents is correct before I run my calculations and generate my reports, because if I don’t, my reports will be wrong, and we could get cited or penalized by regulatory agencies.

      2. Construction Safety*

        Yeah, back in the old days of programming, I’d throw a bunch of card in, wait a while, & it would run to the first error, then I’d get the cards back. Rinse-repeat until I could get it going.
        Wrong TPS, send it back. Wrong chocolate, send it back. Rinse-Repeat, Ad Nauseum
        Make it painful for them, right now it isn’t.

    2. LCS*

      Stewardship report? Like track the number and type of corrections you’re making weekly/monthly and present this tally in graph form, showing the trend over time. It could either come directly from you to the teapot makers, or you give it to the teapot makers’ manager and she presents it to her team. Set a target for reduction and use this to track progress against the goal.

      And while I don’t like calling out individuals on performance reports, I’d have a second graph in the background that shows number of mistakes by person, so that between yourself and the manager you can work to provide more focused coaching to the worst offenders.

      I’m a big fan of the “what gets measured gets managed” school of thought, especially for something like this which is pretty easy to convert into numbers.

      1. Susan K*

        The difficulty with this is that there is a big lag time — weeks or even months — from when the documents are prepared to when I get the documents for review, so I can’t track the error rate in real time. I hesitate to make comparisons between different teapot makers because some of them prepare more documents than others, since preparing the documents is only part of their job and some of them work more on non-document-related tasks, and some do more work overall than others. Some of the best performers have relatively high numbers of errors, even though it amounts to a lower percentage of the documents they prepare. However, it’s not really possible for me to calculate individuals’ error percentages because most documents have input from multiple people in highly variable proportions, and different types of documents have varying levels of complexity. I don’t want the people who prepare a disproportinate number of documents to get penalized for having more errors than people who just avoid working on documents whenever they can.

        1. krysb*

          What I would do, on top of the checklist suggestion above, would be tracking the types of errors and how often they occur. Assuming you have some form of authority or that someone with authority would back you up, the idea would be for everyone to work to eliminate errors during creation or as close to creation as possible.

        2. Gumby*

          I can’t track the error rate in real time
          It might still be worth it even if the data is a little out of date. History shows that they are not likely to have made a huge improvement in the error rates on their own. The only thing the time lag does is mean that you have to give it a little time before expecting to see improvements. But if you don’t start now, in 6 months you’ll be in the same situation. Whereas if you start tracking now and tell them the results in a month, maybe there will be a slight improvement in 6 months.

          Some of the best performers have relatively high numbers of errors, even though it amounts to a lower percentage of the documents they prepare.
          You can report it as # of errors per report then. Or # of errors per page. Just as general information – not tying it to performance reviews or anything.

          1. Susan K*

            I already do track the errors; I have a spreadsheet where I note who made the error and what the error was, and I divide them into 10 general types of errors (plus “other”) and track who made which error type(s) for each document. For each document, I also track whether they had simple errors that I could correct on the spot, had to be sent back for rework, both, or no errors.

            The lag is why, even though I sent the e-mail with information on the most common errors and how to prevent them a few months ago, I couldn’t really tell whether or not it made any difference until just recently when I started reviewing documents that were prepared after my e-mail.

            I don’t think there’s really a meaningful way to compare different people that wouldn’t take an excessive amount of time. If I count # of error per report, I would have to spend extra time looking through the document to figure out everyone who worked on each document (which is sometimes every teapot maker we have). An how do I count it when Joe and Jane did 5% of the document combined and didn’t make any errors, but Mary did the other 95% and made one small error? Or when Kate made a simple, 5-minute document without an error, while John did 90% of a complex document that took a week and made two errors? The data won’t be meaningful unless I spend an excessive amount of time trying to quantify the exact contribution of each teapot maker, and the goal is to save me time.

            Really, the only metric that’s meaningful to me is percentage of documents that I have to spend extra time correcting.

    3. Scarlet*

      Oof. Those suggestions sound like a lot of work. Is it an option to let the ball drop? Just let the errors go through enough that the issues start being noticed by your managers?

      Sure – they will be probably say, “why didn’t you catch these?” At which point you can point to maybe 10-15 errors you DID catch. I have to imagine it would be corrected one way or the other at that point.

      1. Susan K*

        I have reflected a lot on whether or not I truly need to review these documents in so much detail, and I have concluded that yes, I do. It is my job. I am signing my name to them as the final reviewer who verified that they are correct. I have received a lot of praise from my manager for reviewing them thoroughly and catching so many errors — it’s something that he considers as part of the difference between being good at the job and being great.

        These are pretty important documents with a lot of potential consequences for errors. They are required for regulatory compliance, and I prepare reports to regulatory agencies that are based on data in these documents. One small error can cause the results to be off by a factor of 100 or more, and if I use the incorrect data in my reports, my data will be off as well. These documents have potential legal significance, so even if errors don’t make any difference now, they could still become problems years from now during a lawsuit. They could also have PR significance, because if we get cited or fined by the regulatory agency for reporting inaccurate information, it could easily be spun into a story about us trying to cover up something that is harmful to consumers.

        1. Melissa*

          When the docs come to you, they have already been peer-reviewed, and signed off on by a manager. Those are the folks you should be kicking these errors back to. They signed off, and passed errors on to you. And tracking that would be faster, right? The manager who originally signed off on a teapot report should be responsible for getting the errors fixed. not you.

    4. President Porpoise*

      Stop enabling them. You are the Band-Aid on a problem that won’t go away if you keep fixing it on their behalf. They have NO motivation to change, currently.

      Will it take more work? Yes, at least for now. The hope is to improve the process so that in the future you aren’t devoting so much time to fixing their screw-ups.

      If you have an automated system that you’re conducting your audit in, can you pull metrics? Can you see how many errors these people are making, and what type of errors they are? If so, build a report and send it monthly to their managers (and yours). They need to see where the gaps are.

      You will not be successful at changing the culture until you can make your problem THEIR problem. The system is working from them as is – why would they change it?

      1. President Porpoise*

        Also, on your metric – show the responsiveness rate. How many of those corrections are being made as requested? Who are the worst offenders? Data drives results.

    5. Tabby Baltimore*

      Is it possible to modify the form the teapot makers are filling out in some way that would reduce their choices? I’m thinking of drop-down menus for certain sections, if the answers to those sections are routine and limited in number. You could even consider having drop-down menus for certain kinds of boilerplate words and/or phrases, even for free-text sections.

  15. Free Meerkats*

    A thread seen on Twitter earlier this week, anonymized:

    [poster 1] Every so often the comments at Ask A Manager (and sometimes even the letter answers) really drive home how little respect the business/office-work class has for ANY other kind of work, and how little understanding they have of how they work. And man is it not pretty.

    [poster 1] Like I realize nobody following me is likely to be pulling that crap so I’m preaching to the choir but MAN does classism go totally unnoticed and unqueried, and by the same people so quick to notice the slightest hint of sexism or racism too. (As they should be!”

    [poster 1] And obviously it’s an aspect of classism that will intersect fast with sexism and racism and ablism while I’m at it: who’s most likely to be doing the jobs that are dismissed and framed as “easy” and “not stressful/skilled/complex”? Women and PoC? Why yes. And disabled people.

    [poster 1] But it will also exist on its own and is still crap.

    [poster 2] I try to bring some brown collar perspective when I comment.


    1. ThatGirl*

      Without context it’s hard to comment. We’re such a varied group, there’s no hivemind here. I think if either of those people notice classism, it’s great to call it out.

      1. anon moose, anon mouse*

        There is a hivemind. I only comment frequently because you get piled on if you disagree with the groupthink or say something disagreeing with a frequent poster. There’s been threads where I’m told that I should know better because Long Time Poster isn’t like that, so there’s also this expectation that commenters should know every person and opinion.

        A lot of the time it feels like performance hivemind wokeness on this site that only focuses on certain issues but ignores others (or goes to such extremes to be Woke that it does more harm than good).

        1. Former Retail Manager*

          Way late to the Friday thread, but yes, I certainly agree. Sometimes the commenters here are just.too.much. And can tend to take things to extremes when it’s not necessary. Overall, I still find this blog to be more helpful than not, and I’ve directed multiple people to it, with the caveat to at least start by focusing on Alison’s advice rather than the multitude of comments.

      2. I want to be anon for this*

        There is a hivemind that does not welcome diverse thinking. This bog is very left wing and I believe intolerant to conservative ideas.

        Going anon for this because… yeah

        1. ThatGirl*

          That’s kind of funny considering the comment I was replying to was essentially a criticism that the commenters aren’t left wing enough.

          Also: human rights are not up for debate.

    2. LCL*

      …you have reinforced my belief that not being on twitter at all was the correct one. Some subjects are best covered by short limited conversations. Others need more than 140 characters at a time for a decent discussion.

    3. Iris Eyes*

      Yes, this site is tailored to office environments. It doesn’t propose to be an all encompassing every job everywhere.

      Some of the things are pretty applicable to anyone and the commentariate is pretty good at pointing out when an industry might not follow the same norms.

    4. LGC*

      Like, it’s…not wrong?

      I think the person who went on the tweetstorm is overstating it SOMEWHAT. Granted, I’m part of the hivemind myself, but it doesn’t feel like most people here have contempt for people who work “nonprofessional” jobs, which it kind of feels like they’re saying.

      But also, there ARE often little microaggressions like, “Just got my first real job!” (Because being a camp counselor/scooping ice cream/flipping burgers isn’t a “real” job.) And I think the vast majority of people are aware that the site biases towards “white collar” work, in terms of advice and norms.

      Honestly, as someone who supervises people who work a nonprofessional job, I think it’s more obliviousness. I think that the kind of person who comments on AAM is often focused on building their career and doesn’t REALLY think that flipping burgers isn’t worthy of respect (I hope). They just think of their own experience being a barista at Starbucks in college until they graduated and set off on their career path of painting Game of Thrones themed chocolate teapots or teaching llamas how to tap dance.

      (And poster 2 is fighting the good fight!)

      1. Jadelyn*

        I feel like the “real job” thing is more reflective of the way the world as a whole treats non-white-collar labor roles, than any particular bias unique to this space. When all the examples of “real grown-up adults” we see in the media show people working in office jobs, and politicians literally portray retail and service jobs as “just” something for teenagers to work after school (so that they don’t have to confront the unliveability of the current minimum wage…), I think it’s pretty understandable for younger folks to have that “real job” mentality. And if I’m not mistaken, Alison has specifically called that out before and asked that people not do that?

        1. Liza*

          This is an excellent point. I think the whole “real job” notion is something that often gets used with varying degrees of irony, or even disbelief from my own generation, who see any sort of progression from those sorts of roles as a huge, unexpected step, or even a miraculous mistake (hello, impostor syndrome).

          And let’s face it, the kind of norms and standards one finds in an office environment are wildly different from things like shop work and customer service. One of my best friends recently received a promotion to an office position after 18 years with the company. He is positively floored to be earning a living wage, astounded by the fact that colleagues are not reprimanded for glancing at their phones between tasks, and finds the job laughably easy after over 20 years working customer service positions. (I believe somebody wrote a blog about the bizarre feeling of moving from fast food to office work and finding it mind blowingly cushy.) Given how much society likes to push the notion that white collar jobs are somehow more deserving of the benefits bestowed upon them, I can see why other workers might feel distinctly cut off from the experiences described by many office workers on threads such as this. I don’t think there’s any harm in bearing in mind that things like salary negotiation, promotion, benefits, and the luxury of leaving a bad job feel out of reach of many, but I will say that I think Alison and the commentariat as a whole are good at recognising that difference when questions from blue collar workers crop up.

          1. CMart*

            Restaurant industry to office worker here and I think you summarized it pretty well. I will say that any time anyone left my serving/bartending gigs to do anything “career” worthy (office job, nursing, HVAC apprenticeship etc…) we would congratulate them on getting a “real” or “big boy/girl” job. And I’m not even sure it was a classism irony, moreso that they were generally moving on to a place where you probably couldn’t be getting high in your car with your manager before your shift and playfully insulting each other’s sex lives while out of customer earshot. I didn’t ever engage in those kind of shenanigans in my decade+ in the industry but being in that environment certainly gave a certain feeling of being able to really let your guard down/be unfiltered.

            It sometimes gets patronizing in here when discussing “respect” – my mind goes to the LW who [got an offer pulled? got fired? lost an internship? the details are escaping me, because he was rude to the CEO’s wife on public transit] and didn’t seem to understand that you need to treat people as people and therefore deserving of respect. Lots of “I treat the janitor the same as the CEO” kind of narratives about how incredibly gracious we all are for being kind and respectful to even the most humble of folk.

            The only other big disconnect I see are when discussing hiring norms. Everyone rails against GUMPTION and how out of touch it is to just *gasp* show up in person to ask for a job, but that’s still very much the reality for a lot of industries. Lots of blue collar/service industry work is still very much a “look you in the eye and see if your handshake feels right” world. And though people will point out the differences there, you still get a lot of “okay yeah but still…. maybe don’t? Because GUMPTION is BAD?”

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I think of a *real* job as one where I make a livable wage, have good benefits, and good managers who aren’t power-tripping arseholes or wimpy do-nothings. That could be an office job, or it could be a blue-collar job.

            I mean, there are plumbers who make a crap ton more money than I ever have and can actually afford to retire, plus without them, we would all be drowning in sewage, so yeah, that’s a real job.

            ♪ ♫ It’s a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it….whoooah oh oh ohh oh! ♪

            1. Anoncorporate*

              Yeah…if you’re in the U.S. and work a service or retail job, you actually congratulate and are happy for those people who manage to “escape” the service or retail world. Because IT SUCKS. We are currently not an economy where someone can make a comfortable living working a job that requires them to be on their feet a million hours a day though we should be. It’s also, most unfortunately, the norm to receive verbal (and maybe other types of) abuse from both your boss and the customers you service, and there isn’t a lot regulating that. A lot of businesses, as someone pointed out, tend to skirt the law when it comes to giving their employees proper healthcare and sick leave, because they know their employees can’t afford to lose their jobs if they complain.

            2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

              I tend to think of a “real job” as an aspirational goal. It’s not the actual work, it’s whether you have security, benefits, and responsibilities. That’s not to say that somebody working jobs that do not provide those things don’t have real jobs in the sense that their labour is trivial or unimportant, or that their jobs don’t have meaning. But I imagine that most people in that position would rather have a “real job” where they are treated like valuable contributors and compensated accordingly.

      2. league.*

        This was really helpful to me. I have the privilege to see my first jobs (babysitting, pizza delivery, etc.) as preludes to my “real” job, and I never thought about the fact that that would of course be insulting to people who do those lines of work full-time. Thank you for saying this.

      3. JamieS*

        I’m not a fan of the term “real job” but I think there needs to be a distinction that whether or not someone considers something a “real job” has as much to do with that person’s circumstance as what the job actually is. This isn’t perfect but for me the distinction is whether or not the job is intended as a career and/or is intended to pay the employee’s bills or noticeably contribute to bills as opposed to just a job for a little spending money.

        For instance, I wouldn’t consider my weekend retail job in high school to be a “real job” because it was just to give me some spending money since my parents paid my bills. However, I would consider the same job to be a “real job” for my co-worker who was using it to pay her mortgage, utilities, and buy food for her family.

        1. CMart*

          I agree. I actually had the exact same job change in my mind from “fun gig” to “my real job” because I went from using it to pay for my minimal teenage expenses/padding my savings account to actually relying on it to live an independent life. My attitude about it shifted fairly dramatically – I always took my jobs seriously but once it was a “livelihood” kind of deal I was no longer comfortable slacking off, cutting corners to get out early, trading away shifts or giving the impression that I didn’t want to work.

          This was serving and bartending, so I’m not embarrassed to say I was faffing around for a lot of my shifts and rushing to get out of there. Sidework is not anyone’s idea of a good time.

        2. Myrin*

          That’s an awesome distinction which I realise lines up pretty exactly with how I feel, too. Thanks for putting it into words so eloquently!

      4. LGC*

        This is why commenting early is a mistake – I want to reply to everything, and then I lose the thread.

        Anyway – I definitely don’t think that it’s as severe as the first poster made it out to be (and definitely not specific to AAM – it is a societal thing). And to be honest, I agree that the vast majority of people reading this consider service work just as valid as knowledge work. But I can also see how someone who wouldn’t pick up on that nuance and be aware that a lot of us are aware of our privilege can pick up the impression that poster 1 did.

        Plus, reading the tweetstorm again (okay, it’s more of a tweetshower), I picked up on the second post:

        Like I realize nobody following me is likely to be pulling that crap so I’m preaching to the choir but MAN does classism go totally unnoticed and unqueried, and by the same people so quick to notice the slightest hint of sexism or racism too. (As they should be!”

        I’m going to just put my foot in it – but I’ve noticed that in a lot of progressive spaces (including here), I feel like there’s an expectation that if you’re socially attuned to one thing, you should be socially attuned to everything and if you’re not that’s a huge failure. I can’t help but wonder if part of poster 1’s anger (for lack of a better word) is disappointment that the AAM community isn’t perfect. I’m not entirely sure how to further fix this, since it generally seems like people are welcoming of blue-collar employees.

    5. Jadelyn*

      I mean…not all environments are going to be all things to all people. AAM is primarily about the working environment and norms of an office. Most of those who read are those who are in that demographic, because we find significant value in this site due to how specifically relevant it is for our working lives. So to me, it stands to reason that a good portion of the commentariat here will be unaware of working environments and norms of non-white-collar jobs. I don’t think it’s entirely fair to dump on people for not knowing what they don’t know, when the subject at hand is something that’s just outside of their experience.

      Re the respect part, I disagree pretty strongly. In fact I can think of a number of regular commenters who make a point of calling out and countering bias against non-white-collar jobs when it does, on rare occasions, crop up. My fiance works a skilled blue-collar trade, so I’m generally pretty sensitive to white-collar folks being dismissive about other occupations and tend to get defensive fast, and it’s rare for that impulse to come out when I’m reading comments here. So I can’t say that what this person describes has been my experience in this space at all.

      I’d be really interested in any specific examples that they can point to, to see if there’s something I’ve been missing…but tbh, based on the specific wording, it feels a lot more like performative shit-talking for Woke Points, than a good-faith attempt at addressing a real issue.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I think there is likely a larger number of white collar people posting on AAM. The fact is, white collar people are more likely to be sitting at their computer all day, and be able to check in quickly and read and make comments. Someone who takes care of plants for a living (as mentioned below) probably isn’t on a computer 9 hours a day, and can’t take the time to peruse AAM.

        I don’t think that means that the AAM commenters are being classist, just identifying with what they know. As others have said, when a particular non-white collar subject comes up, people are willing to reconsider different perspectives and address those topics appropriately.

      2. Kat is a dog person*

        I’ve been reading this blog daily for about two years and it has given me some excellent perspectives…and I’m a career bartender (in my 40’s and this is the only work I’ve ever done). I’ve seen some comments that seem a bit classist but I find the commentariat mostly awesome. I think it’s a matter of taking what’s relevant and leaving the rest. Perhaps the folks complaining are the type that want everything to be about them!

        1. Bob*

          Super late but I’d love to hear more about your job and what you do! If Alison is ever keen to do one of her interviews on you – that would be awesome :)

          Signed, someone who realised there is a lot more to being a fancy bartender after attending a cocktail making class once and learning a bit about all the behind the scenes work that goes into it. Now I know why they can be so expensive…

    6. DaniCalifornia*

      Interesting. I am not in the comments all day for every post but I’ve seen some instances of people who didn’t understand retail work offer suggestions that would not be helpful.

      The one thing that bugs me is seeing comments or reading letters that say my first “real” job. I get it, sometimes new college grads use it to distinguish between the PT retail job and an office job. But all jobs are real jobs. I think it minimizes the fact that there are some people who enjoy/like retail jobs or prefer customer service jobs over office jobs. Retail/customer service isn’t a stepping stone to a real job. But that’s my own personal pet peeve.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I imagine this was inspired by the letter from the person who does plant care? I didn’t think people were disrespecting that kind of work, but it’s legitimate to point out that some jobs have different kinds of stresses than others. (And I think it’s hugely problematic that stress is talked about as if it’s some sign of merit or importance.)

      1. Tinker*

        I think also there was a thing on a recent letter about an employee being late where some folks were very much on the “it being okay to be five minutes late is an office worker thing” deal, and posts on that subject tend often to attract that sort of commentary — sometimes a bit heated and having a tone of “your narrow view is unrealistic”. That might be a potential inspiration also.

        1. Tinker*

          (Personally I think it’s pretty much always been fairly clear that the advice not to ride people about a few minutes here and there is scoped to positions that don’t require coverage — but I’m perhaps not in the best position to evaluate how that looks from all angles as I’m pretty far on the rampant-lack-of-traditional-discipline end of office worker.)

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah, if that was yesterday I missed it entirely — was off the computer from Wed evening onward due to food poisoning. But that wouldn’t surprise me.

        3. JamieS*

          I’ve noticed that back and forth too. However from what I’ve seen when people say it’s okay to be a little late it’s almost always prefaced with “if you work in an office” or is in response to a letter that either says or gives a very strong impression it’s an office job. People saying it wouldn’t be okay to be late at non-office jobs in reply to someone saying it’s okay to be a few minutes late when the topic we’re discussing is being late to an office job strikes me as unhelpful and irrelevant. After all people can’t be expected to preface their posts with every situation where their advice isn’t applicable. If we did that every post would be novel-length.

      2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        I’m white collar office worker, but I thought there were a few responses to Plant Person that were like, but have you ever had a “real” job with “real” stress? While others were more kind and pointed out different kinds of stressors, or interpretations of the comments PP was complaining about. I also think, though, that plenty of people called out those more negative type of comments.

    8. Delphine*

      If they’re going to claim that the comments and answers to the letters are regularly classist and don’t question classism, they should offer up some context.

      1. Marthooh*

        The “preaching to the choir” bit makes it obvious that they weren’t speaking to us and assumed that their followers don’t need context.

    9. Moray*

      There are many comments here that boil down to: “that’s a huge red flag, leave immediately, do not pass go, do not wait until you have another position lined up.” And plenty of commenters who find it unbelievable–to the point of condescension–that people would put up with any kind abuse at their workplace.

      It comes from a ~lot~ of privilege to assume that everyone has the freedom to just up and quit. Some of us need that job–even when it involves bullying, harassment, or unsafe conditions–to eat food and pay rent.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Hell, I’ve been in white collar jobs that I couldn’t quit without having another job lined up – I still can’t do that really. So I usually sympathize with the folks who write in and put up with horribly abusive behavior because if I were in that situation (and thank heavens I’m not anymore), I would have to as well.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Same; I think it’s better to frame it as start looking rather than omg quit now. Depending on location, it can take a while to find something else. But that’s about getting the ball rolling, not dancing out the door while singing, “Take this job and shove it!”

      2. Who Plays Backgammon*

        You just described me, with my abusive boss. We just had a training about workplace harassment, and by their definition she has definitely created a hostile work environment. However, I’m still recovering from the great recession like so many, and I’m way past the point where I can say, OK, I’ll temp till I find a job. Shameless editorializing: maybe if we had national health care I’d take the risk, but not as it stands now.

    10. Brit box*

      Sound pretty accurate to me. This site needs to have a “upper-middle-class office manager” disclaimer, it’s really only relevant to a small slice of the working population. And that isn’t necessarily clear unless you’ve been reading here for a while. But the bias is real and does come across pretty obviously.

      1. Myrin*

        I mean, my family background is 100% what Americans (? or is that English-speaking people in general?) call “blue collar” (the phrase/distinction doesn’t exist here) and my two part-time jobs are in a drugstore and in the kitchen of an inn but I still read something that’s relevant to me on here almost every day. I get what you’re saying but I also think there’s a lot of stuff which this site talks about regarding an office environment which is still helpful when you transplant it into another setting.

        1. Laura H.*

          I think quite a bit of the roots of the advice are transferable. I work a very part time retail job and a seasonal gig. The advice about building rapport, and putting a good impression forward and communicating when I have an issue are essential to the jobs I do (heck even my volunteer gigs).

          1. curly sue*

            Same. I’m in academia, which has very different expectations than office work especially around things like face time and what ‘working hours’ mean, but the advice on dealing with co-workers and various social skills / office behaviours has been extremely useful. Academics tend to be an awkward lot at the best of times and I need all the help there that I can get.

          2. Patty Mayonnaise*

            Agreed – I work in the entertainment industry and some of Alison’s advice goes against our norms (which is nothing against Alison, she has freely admitted that industry is not her world) but I read this site every day and always find something I can apply in my work life.

        2. Reba*

          Myrin, this thread actually made me think of you! I was going to write that this site has several regular commenters with non-office jobs, including you, and that you offer a lot of insight from those experiences.

          1. Myrin*

            Oh wow, I’m experiencing that weird thing where I’m suddenly acutely aware that I sometimes feature in people’s thoughts without knowing anything about it! It’s so nice to hear I came to you mind in a discussion like that, thank you!

    11. kittymommy*

      Hmm, interesting. I think there may be some truth to that as this site does seem to be more skewed to office jobs/work, but the very nature of internet commentary can get a little hive-minded, though the people here I think try harder than most to be open-minded and “outside-the-box”. I’m not sure I totally agree the implication regarding sexism, racism, or ableism as it’s been my impression that commenters (and Alison) actively try to take these points of view into account, it’s also possible I’m misunderstanding what the Twitter poster is trying to say.

      I will thank them for teaching me about “brown collar” I hadn’t hear that term before (or the others I found on Wikipedia). Apparently I am red collar.

      1. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

        I popped over and looked at that wiki, I’m a former brown collar, now red collar worker. I had no idea that these other designations existed.

      2. MinotJ*

        Cool! I just learned that I’m purple-collar. Most of the “office” advice on AAM is spot-on for my lab, but laxity with start/end time is foreign to me – who is going to run these STAT samples if I feel like stopping for a bagel on my way in?

    12. Commenter*

      I think this Twitter thread raises a great point!

      I’m a relatively new reader, and have noticed that this site does skew white-collar, but have been pleased to see that people here do seem to call out white-collar bias when it occurs.

      I currently have a well-paying white-collar office job, but survived many years on retail, temp, and gig jobs, and am glad to have the additional perspective of those types of jobs. There is such a vast divide between the realities of people trying to make a living in these different job worlds, and it can be so frustrating to realize not everyone is aware of that.

      I love that this site seems to be filled with thoughtful people who seem fundamentally interested in hearing and understanding each other, rather than shouting past each other, however! This gives me some hope for humanity :)

    13. noahwynn*

      Wasn’t me on Twitter but I did have similar thoughts recently on the thread regarding the plant caretaker. Of course I face the same issues in my own office trying to explain to people why airline jobs outside of HQ are actually difficult and stressful at times.

    14. Frankie*

      Hmm. I do think a lot of commenters approach every letter as if it’s a white-collar job letter by default…and I do also think I’ve seen comments from time to time that suggest the commenter doesn’t know what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck…

      But I see plenty of the opposite, too. IDK. I did a lot of “blue-collar” work as a kid and through college, and now I work “white-collar.” While I see some presumptions, I also see plenty of comments calling out those presumptions (like assuming anyone could up and leave a bad job environment, assuming everyone gets benefits, assuming workplaces are legally compliant and safe).

      But I mean there’s definitely a larger issue in our culture with being dismissive of jobs that aren’t “real” or aren’t “stressful enough” or whatever. So it makes sense that it shows up here, too. I get the feeling that plenty of commenters here have never experienced a really grueling job involving manual labor or cleaning up after others, and that does bleed over into the types of comments made.

    15. Anoncorporate*

      I’m sure the poster has a legitimate criticism but I wish they went into detail about exactly what the biases are. Usually, people who only experience one thing – and are only ever in the company who experience the one thing – don’t know what they don’t know about the other things…if that makes sense. So they are pretty ignorant.

      I’m also interested for my own reasons – I’m an office, white collar worker who, as part of my work, interacts regularly with blue-collar workers, retail, and service workers. Other than being a basically polite person, I try to be mindful of their schedules (which I know are more rigid and different than my schedule), and considerate. I would like to know what else I could be doing to be accomodating.

      1. Anoncorporate*

        FWIW, I’ve had my days in food service jobs, which in my experience was a sh**show. …so I definitely sympathize with people in this situation.

  16. Marcy Marketer*

    Nursing moms, how open are you about nursing in the office? As one of my meetings was supposed to end but looked like it was going to go over, I said that I had to leave for my next engagement (ie I had booked the nursing room). Would it have been appropriate to say that I had to go pump?

    1. ThinMint*

      Depending on who was in that meeting, I have been that explicit before. But it was with my female manager who I had a good rapport with or my all-female team. Ideally, I probably shouldn’t say that? IDK. I think what you said was fine.

    2. Hope*

      I think just saying you were leaving for your next engagement is fine. You don’t have to say you needed to go pump unless you want to say it. I don’t think it would be bad or TMI if you did say that, but it’s not strictly necessary.

    3. Dino*

      I don’t think you need to mention it unless someone pushes you to stay.
      Them: “Would you mind seeing if your next engagement can wait until we’re done? This is really important.”
      You: “I’m sorry but no, I need to go pump.”

        1. SpringIsForPlanting!*

          Ditto here.
          This will vary *wildly * based on your work culture, the work you do, the space you have available, and your own comfort, but I also, uh, took a lot of conference calls in the pumping room. “I will have to take this meeting/the rest of this meeting remotely”, set up my pump stuff, muted when I wasn’t talking, and made d**n sure there was tape over my webcam.

    4. Who the eff is Hank?*

      Personally, I would be open about it and say I have to go pump. There’s a weird stigma around pumping in our society (maybe because boobs are involved?) but I think it’s important to chip away at that stigma. Pumping is a totally normal thing that moms need to do to feed their babies and it shouldn’t be embarrassing to talk about.

      1. BethDH*

        It is important, but I also don’t think OP needs to feel like they have to be the one to fix that stigma. There’s enough pressure on pregnant/nursing mothers without making them feel guilty if they don’t want to be the Voice of Working Motherhood (not saying that’s what you were suggesting, just speaking from my own internalized guilt when I was in this situation and people would say similar things to your comment.

      2. angrywithnumbers*

        This was the tack I took I didn’t yell about it everytime I got up from my desk to do it, but if someone asked wanted to schedule a meeting at the time or a meeting was running over . I let them know that it was my pump time.

    5. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

      I’m very open, I have to pump in the courthouse while I’m representing clients and drag my pump through security every day. I just straight up tell people that I have to be excused for a second, same as I would for going to the restroom. It’s not like you can really hold it. People I see all the time: the judge, the prosecutors, the bailiffs, my trial partner, I’ve told them from the beginning that I would be slipping out sometimes.

    6. Murphy*

      Definitely depends. If it was my immediate co-workers I would have said what I was doing. Outside the department, probably not. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, but because it’s not relevant.

    7. Ann Perkins*

      It depends who you’re with. I’m generally open about it if I’m trying to wrap up a conversation and get back to my desk – “sorry, gotta go pump now but I’ll send you that link we talked about!” type verbage. If it were a room full of people I wouldn’t. 1:1 with my boss who is a dad of 3 and knows I pump? I have no issue saying it – and I do think it’s good to help normalize it in the workplace.

    8. straws*

      I would have said something similar, and I definitely would clarify that it’s pumping if I was questioned about where I was going. Most people I’d be meeting with are well aware of my pumping schedule though, and I’m pretty vocal about normalizing nursing and pumping in general. I also pump in a shared office with male coworkers. I have a screen and we close the office door, but still… I’m probably on a fairly extreme end of the “open with pumping” spectrum. You may need to read your audience a bit, depending on the people you’re meeting with.

    9. Marcy Marketer*

      It varies for me… someone says they like my bag, and I might tell them it’s a pump bag, or something like that. I think it depends on how sassy I’m feeling or who I’m talking to. I tend to be more explicit with higher ups in my chain of command for some reason, I think to remind them why I leave and that I’m not just disappearing sometimes.

    10. Double A*

      I’m just explicit now because I need coverage for when I go pump. I don’t love that I have to announce it every time, but when I say when I need the coverage people are always supportive, and as a bonus it normalizes pu pong more. My workplace has gone through a ton of transitions so remembering to help me with my pumping breaks is not high on people’s priorities, but they are happy to do so when I say what I need. I work with a lot of people with kids though, and many with young families, so that helps

      1. Double A*

        Uh… Pumping, not pu pong! Darn phone posting. Though pu pong could describe what my baby did with her dirty diaper the other day.

    11. Alianora*

      My coworker who’s a nursing mom has been very open about it. Once we went to an all day, off-campus meeting and she set up a little minifridge/cooler that she had brought with her in the meeting room. We do have an 80% female office, but she’s open about it in front of our male coworkers too. I don’t think anyone views it as unprofessional.

      Just using “appointment” is fine, though!

    12. Abby*

      When I was pumping, I was the only woman (other than some student workers; academic scientist here) in an office of men, most of whom had kids and partners and were pretty committed to being egalitarian about this. It was important to me to push back on some of the stigma/awkwardness of talking about it, so while I wasn’t always “I need to go pump now,” on days when we were rescheduling meetings on the fly, I would say stuff like “I can come to lunch [where boss has just suggested the group continue this conversation] but I need to pump first… order for me and I’ll meet you there?”

    13. lost academic*

      This is now a thing for me and I have decided to be open and clear with what I am doing and when I need to do it so it becomes more normalized (which is desperately needed in my office/company). I’m cautious to not bring it up unless it’s needed (can’t make this in person meeting/need to change rooms/whatever) rather than in casual conversation but people need to be aware of how much time and organization it requires and that it’s A Part Of Life. And that it’s NOT EASY.

    14. LitS*

      I’ll admit that I felt awkward initially and tried to tiptoe around talking about pumping. The nursing room was five feet from my boss’s desk in a completely open office, and it only had frosted windows and no lock. It was also at the farthest corner from the kitchen, so I got to parade my milk and pump parts past all the glass-walled conference rooms, open desks, and reception area several times a day.

      In the end it became a badge of honor. People seemed impressed by my dedication, especially because they saw how much effort it took to prep, package, label, store, and clean everything. Pffffft…that’s not even half of it. I pumped exclusively for a year, so I pumped a LOT.

      You might come across the occasional person who treats it like a stigma or clearly doesn’t understand the urgency. But consider how many parents there are who’ve been through the same thing or supported someone going through the same thing. Yeah, I definitely got more empathy and encouragement in my office than anything else.

  17. bassclefchick*

    Well, the software release is Monday. Ready or not. I have a feeling next week is going to be rough. But, I found a bottle of Celtic Honey, so I’ll be fine!

    Anyone else have a tale of software releases that did/did not go well?

    1. Duchess Honeybadger*

      No, but I do have many, many tales of stuff breaking bad. And of drinking as a limited/temporary coping mechanism. Sounds like you got this. Good luck!

    2. KR*

      Not so much software releases per say, but I was responsible for implementing a time clock system at my last job. We only bought enough licenses for the staff who were hourly. I was going to need to work with our exec admin and HR to get the employee info and they were to be admins on the system but it was my project. The actual equipment & software came in when I was off for a week and I came back to find the exec admin had gotten a little over excited and tried to put every employee in the system including salaried staff who didn’t punch a clock, had run out of licenses, and then didn’t know what to do. I called the company and they couldn’t delete users because it’s payroll software as well (we were just using the time clock function & exporting the reports to payroll) so I had to “fire” all the salaried staff in the system so we had enough licenses and then I had to deal with seeing all these extra “fired” employee records in the system every time I logged in. Definitely could have gone better, though the exec admin apologized for not checking before she put in all the users.

    3. PharmaCat*

      Oh yeah. So upper mgmt decided it would be a great idea to release software on Christmas Eve. We all got the email on that day for early closing, unless you had client-facing business to complete. So of course all mgmt left immediately, totally crickets. How motivated do you think the programmers were to stay late and ensure high quality? In the lessons learned briefing, the Christmas Eve delivery date was front and center.

    4. A tester, not a developer*

      I’m still recovering from what should have been a super simple scheduled release… it was so easy that it was being used as a cross-training opportunity. It was until go live that we discovered that the new guy wasn’t authorized to do anything in Production. His trainer was on vacation; luckily after much drama we managed to get a hold of him. Once we solved that we discovered that the new guy didn’t just copy his Test code for Production; he wrote it again from scratch and made some typos.

    5. Human Sloth*

      Oh boy! Yes, I have a tale…

      – Health care environment – We spent many, many months leading up to a version upgrade. Mostly the upgrade was pushed through MSI, but we ended up having to go back and touch about 50 PCs to complete the upgrade. Within days we were getting tickets and calls about bug reports and failed applications. Turns out a specific portion didn’t work if it was installed on the same PC as another completely separate application. This wasn’t caught during our testing, because we use new installs to test on. HERE IS THE KICKER- the new version and the other offending application are from the SAME vendor. SMH!

    6. JHunz*

      As someone who does consumer software supporting hundreds of hardware products, I have many stories. Sometimes it’s regressions on old devices, sometimes it’s something that didn’t get tested sufficiently, sometimes it’s something that was tested to death but then updated right at the end for a bug fix and the bug fixes caused three new bugs that didn’t get noticed.

      Once I (personally) broke the auto-update check. We ended up doing some pretty interesting workarounds for that one that got most people to update again, but there are still thousands of people out there running that version.

    7. noahwynn*

      We tried to transition to a new software that basically runs our entire company earlier this week. It didn’t go well and they had to go back to the existing software. They’re trying again on Tuesday, fingers crossed.

  18. ThatGirl*

    I mentioned this briefly in the negotiation thread yesterday, but after six weeks of waiting, on Tuesday I was offered the internal job I’d applied and interviewed for! It’s still another four weeks or so until the move is final but I’m going to start having meetings and work on a transition plan. I’m excited because a) no more customer-facing and being yelled at b) it’s copywriting, which is much more my chosen career path c) even though it’s a lateral move and I just got a merit increase in March, they gave me a 5% raise! Which makes nearly 10% for the year!

  19. Frustrated Anon*

    I’m at new job for 3 weeks and it’s already started. “You’re quiet/You’re introverted/You’re being quiet/Sorry to be loud.”

    I’m just sitting at my desk, doing my work, doing training and already my coworkers are walking on eggshells around me. I never told them to be quiet, just because I am. I don’t care. I told them it’s fine, but they seem nervous around me. How do I fix this?

    1. Free Meerkats*

      “No need to try to be quiet just because I am. If I’m bothered by excess rambunctiousness, I’ll let you know.”

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      IMO you just keep not caring, but more difficult and important, don’t treat their making it a big deal like it is a big deal. If you just ignore it, they’ll probably relax and start acting like they did before you got there. If not, it’s on them, but the more you protest the more concerned they’ll be, even if you’re protesting that they shouldn’t be concerned! I don’t know why, but that’s often the way it works.

    3. Susan K*

      Oh, I hate that! I never know what to say when people tell me, “You’re so quiet!” Is that supposed to be an insult?
      Criticism? A compliment? They don’t usually apologize to me for being loud, though.

      1. Frustrated Anon*

        +1 Thank you. I will never understand why it’s socially acceptable to say “you’re quiet” when it would be rude to comment, “You’re so loud!”

        1. CMart*

          I think it’s an inelegant attempt at saying “I would like to talk with you but you do not seem to want to talk to me”.

          By proclaiming “you sure are quiet!” it’s giving you the opportunity to say “yep, it’s just my nature” or “actually I’m usually not I’m just really absorbed in this training material!” or whatever to indicate that you’re being not-chatty for reasons that are not due to not liking that person.

          I’m sure some people mean it as a dig, but my experience has mostly been that people say it because they think you’re being quiet AT them/because of them for some reason, and are hoping to make a friendly overture. It’s their way of saying “it’s okay to chat with me you know! I like you!”

      2. anna green*

        I hate it too! I also get the sarcastic, “come on Anna quit talking so much!” (laughter) when they think I am being too quiet. It always takes me by surprise because I don’t realize I am being quiet, because I’m, you know, listening to others. And then I feel so awkward and embarrassed, like how do you want me to respond to that. Am I supposed to apologize for not talking? And sometimes I am being quiet because I am shy and thanks for totally putting me on the spot and making everyone look at me. Super.

    4. Box of Kittens*

      I’ve gotten this, too. I agree with the above commenters – continue to ignore it since it’s not a big deal to you. But it may also help to engage in the chit chat from time to time. It takes me a long time to get to know people, especially coworkers, but those kinds of comments dropped way off once I started opening up a tad with small talk and “how was your weekend” type stuff.

      1. Frustrated Anon*

        I do, but if it’s quiet in the room, I feel nervous being the first one to talk. I’m afraid of bothering people , saying something wrong, or being “too loud.” It’s a vicious cycle.

        1. BethDH*

          A nod and a smile instead, perhaps? I don’t think Box of Kittens was saying you had to be the first to speak, though, just that having a quick greeting or go-to question can go a long way toward showing them that you’re fine with them talking.

          1. Box of Kittens*

            Also I think sometimes you just have to make those small social mistakes. You said something first and no one responded? You spoke too loud and someone called you out? That’s okay; it happens to everyone; no one is going to fault you for that. I have a feeling you’ll get much more comfortable after being at this place for a few months since you’ll learn everyone’s idiosyncrasies.

    5. KimberlyR*

      If they’re having a group conversation nearby, sometimes look up and smile when someone makes a joke or toss out a comment. Or if someone is passing your desk, maybe smile and say something like “hey, how’s your day going?” For someone who may be shy or introverted, these can be difficult. But they show that you don’t have an issue with their group conversations and that you are willing to talk to coworkers (so you don’t have a problem with coworkers talking amongst themselves.) I think its worth trying to not just say you don’t mind, but to also show it.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Since you’re so new…I wonder if they’ve had issues in the past before with someone getting angry at them and “stewing”, so they’re now on eggshells wondering if you’re going to rip their faces off or complain?

      I just smile and say “I’m okay just listening, I don’t have much to say right now. Don’t mind me.” so that way they can get over their awkwardness. It’s usually out of a defense mechanism and fear that you’re secretly sitting there hating them [maybe you are but they need to be told that you’re not, you know?].

    7. The Ginger Ginger*

      Instead of saying “it’s fine” when someone apologizes, maybe say explicitly (and pleasantly/with a smile), “Oh you’re not bothering me!” “It’s fine” may mean the same thing in your ears, but it may read to them as more agreement that they’re loud and have something to apologize for.

    8. Jadelyn*

      I lean into it – I’m introverted and tend to be fairly quiet except around certain people, and my desk is literally in a corner of an office that is itself at the corner of the building, so I smile and joke back about “hiding in my little corner back here”. Most people laugh with you rather than at you, at that point, and then they tend to (in my experience, anyway) let it go for the most part.

    9. Llellayena*

      Just respond with a shrug and “It’s more fun to listen than talk! I learn more that way!” And let them wonder if you’re thinking of learning work or gossip!

    10. Lilysparrow*

      IME, people who make these kind of pointless remarks just simply want attention.

      That’s not always a bad or unhealthy thing. We survive by living in social groups, so we’re hardwired to seek attention and comnection from infancy. And some people just never develop sophisticated ways to do that.

      One thing you might try is to just put down what you’re doing, smile, and say, “I can take a little breather. What did you want to talk about?”

      They may feel put on the spot and stop doing it. Or they may learn that you are friendly, and start engaging in less awkward ways.

    11. Cartographical*

      Them: You’re so quiet!”
      Me: “Gosh, sorry, I’ll try to turn it down.”
      Me: “Thanks, I’ve been practicing!”
      Me: “You wouldn’t say that if you could hear my inner editor.”

      Them: “You’re a real introvert.”
      Me: “Just bringing balance to the room.”
      Me: “Not really, but I can’t work and act normal at the same time.” (the real reason)
      Me: “Yes, but I like extroverts a lot, they’re good cover in social situations.”

      I find being light about it is effective because often those comments are often really concern about themselves “is there something wrong with me? with what I’m doing?” Extroverts running up against a dedicated introvert seem to have about the same effect as someone walking into a glass door. Repeatedly. They can’t read you well and it’s disconcerting. Being funny about it is as good a fix as any, in my experience.

    12. Margaret*

      I get the same thing thrown my way a lot, and my solution is always to ignore the comment but transition into a conversation about whatever it is I’m working on/would most like feedback on/am currently interested.

      “Oh, you sure are quiet.”
      “Yeah. This training system is extremely useful- you don’t know who put it together, do you?”

      “Margaret, you’re so introverted.”
      “I’m reading a really fascinating article right now about [work related but actually kind of engaging material.] These researchers found that [this that and the other thought provoking thing.] Isn’t that cool?”

      “Sorry to be so loud.”
      “No no, you aren’t bothering me. I’m just [completing x task], which doesn’t take a lot of focus. Do you ever do these reports?”

      If it helps- substitute the joke as shorthand for ‘we’re noticing you’re not talking to us and we’re feeling uncomfortable about it’ and just take it as an opportunity to talk to them. Make it work oriented if you’re on work, because it is important to be able to communicate about that stuff with your teammates. Make it just whatever you’re looking at if you’re not in an environment where you’re expected to be on ALL WORK ALL THE TIME mode, so then you can have a conversation about your interests and maybe discover some mutual ones.

      I’m never as talkative as my coworkers, but it lets me communicate to them that I don’t think they’re bad people to talk to- a way of meeting them half way, so they don’t take my natural introversion for dislike.

  20. gbca*

    I just did a cross country move for my husband job (and to be near my family) and am looking for work. I’m attending a women’s networking event next week. Any advice for how to approach these things as an introvert? It’s not specific to an industry or function. Also I want to strike the right balance between letting people know I’m looking but not coming across as desperate or like I have too much of an agenda.

    1. Bulbasaur*

      Watch out for MLMs. If someone has a “business opportunity” and they can’t tell you the company they work for, run.

      Otherwise, I am heavily introverted, so I do best at networking events by asking other people about themselves and letting them lead the conversation. If you don’t have business cards, LinkedIn’s “Find Nearby” tool can be a quick way to connect with people on the spot.

      It took me years to be able to do it, but it’s also perfectly acceptable to exit a conversation by saying, “Well, it was great to meet you! I want to talk to a few more people so I’m going to keep moving around!” or something to that effect.

    2. BethDH*

      1. I find the easiest place to start a conversation when I’m nervous/overwhelmed is the line for drinks or food. It’s really easy to say something innocuous, and if they respond with more than a one-word acknowledgment, follow it up with a question that’s not too intrusive (I like “have you been here/to this event/to an event like this before?”)
      2. If you do start a conversation, ask them about what they do or what brought them to the event. It will almost always lead to them asking you. And by the time they get to that, you’ll know a little about their background and can tailor your answer to be more specific or general.
      3. Try to have some variation on an elevator speech or (probably better) a few phrases about you and what you’re there for: just moved from ___, mostly have done x and y type work (I think having some general details there helps you seem less desperate, even if you are looking really broadly), connections to A and B fields/industries, etc. Having specific phrases in mind will help you be more polished and not get flustered in the moment, and you can pretty much use the same ones over and over.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m guessing it will naturally come up in conversation if you say you just moved there. The natural follow-up question can often be “Oh, what do you do [for work]?” in which case “I’m actually still applying to jobs now” is an appropriate response. If they have anything to offer you as a lead, they’ll offer at that point.

      But, yes, as Bulbasaur mentioned, be wary of any leads that are vague and could be MLMs. If they have a “lead” that involves you being an “entrepreneur” or “self-starter” or “ladyboss,” run. The lead must actually be something like “I think such-and-such company might have an opening. What kind of work are you interested in?”

    4. gbca*

      Thanks all – these are great tips. Also I have a very specific thing I do, but one that every company needs (let’s say, accounting) and that’s all I’m looking to do so I can speak to that in detail and won’t get caught up in any weird “ladyboss” business!

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Work on coming across as friendly and approachable more than anything. Introduce yourself and let them know you’re new to the area, ask them about themselves and let them lead the conversation if possible.

      It’s a network event so everyone is feeling the nerves and akwardness, even the extroverts who seem to be working the room, inside they’re squealing with anxiety a lot of times because it’s networking, it’s stressful on that level. [I know a lot of extroverts and whereas they love the rush, they really are still stressed AF on their own level because there’s stakes attached to being social with people who may be important business contacts].

  21. ArtK*

    Situation: Very senior person, used to being consulted on work assignments, not simply ordered to do them. New assignment that the senior person has a moral objection to. As the manager, how do you handle it when the senior person declines the assignment? As the senior person, how do you navigate this? For the SP, the assignment is a deal-breaker — they will leave rather than do it.

      1. ArtK*

        Absolutely and they are (I am) quite willing to do that. In the ordinary course of things, this would be discussed before any assignment was given. In this case, some person who is not my boss, called me and berated me. Then they talked to my actual boss and got told there was other work that I could do. It just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

        I had hoped to finesse the issue, since I plan on giving notice in a little over a week — not over this, but it’s just time to move on.

    1. Anonymous just this once*

      This is an interesting conundrum and I’ve been passively ruminating about it for a few minutes, and I really think it comes down to the specifics of the “moral objection.” I’d recommend that the manager take a good, hard look at the situation that caused SP to raise the flag in the first place. Does SP have a reasonable concern?

      1. ArtK*

        As you might guess, I’m the SP. The customer for this project is a government that has a horrific human rights record. I refuse to support that government in any way, shape or form.

        1. valentine*

          As the manager, I would find it odd if you had no objection to the US government, just like I feel gaslighted when people say a country that isn’t the US needs to denuclearize.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If the person doesn’t have a history of declining assignments and then speaks up with moral objections, you then find someone else to do the project. If they’re always raising objections [which I’m comfortable thinking you do not do frequently!], then you have a larger problem on your hands and the person should ultimately be removed either by their own choice or the company’s. But in this case, a one off “I’m morally opposed to this project, I cannot accept it, I cannot in good faith put my efforts behind it.” then you say “Oh wow, okay that’s understandable and we’ll find someone else.”

      I’m glad you’re going to be out of there soon anyways, so just smile in their faces and keep your heels dug in. You’re on your way out in a few weeks time!

      1. ArtK*

        Thanks! The response to my declining the assignment really helped reinforce that I made the right choice to leave!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I love when they really solidify your decision to leave like that, seriously it washes out the doubt that may linger [even when you know darn well that they stink the stinkiest stanks, that nagging voice back there says “but they’re the devil you knooooooooow.”]

          I think if someone is so morally opposed to something, they speak up, you owe it to them to take that seriously. Anyone who doesn’t is obtuse at best and evil at worst.

          1. ArtK*

            Calling me up and yelling at me “You work for a software company, you must do what the company tells you to do.” I’ve been around far too long to be treated like that. What’s worse, is it was someone who *isn’t* in my chain-of-command.

    3. BellBookCandle*

      How do you claim moral ground, if I may ask?
      I was told in a meeting we will have a new client and a project to teach them automated teapot creation. I asked if I had to be a part of this project because it requires a background check first. Was told it was ok and not an issue. Well it is an issue and I am going to likely resign in a week in any case because of other things.
      I expressed that I had a moral objection to the client, similar to the objections boss has over another client…but alas my claim was considered as another demonstration of my poor fit.

      1. ArtK*

        Not sure what you mean by your question. I told management that I was unable to take the assignment because of the customer’s human rights record, which is extremely well documented and public. When called on it, I said that the issue was not negotiable.

        As far as something like a background check (assuming you mean an in-depth security clearance type of thing), I’ve managed to negotiate my way out of those assignments in the past. I avoid that by not taking jobs where that kind of thing would be likely. If push came to shove, I’d likely quit over that sort of thing too.

        It does sound like a poor fit and a good reason to leave. Good luck!

  22. Mms*

    people who work in an office: do the technical staff mingle much with the admin staff?

    in the places I’ve worked, even though people get on well work-wise (and are of similar demographics) there always seemed to be this informal division when it comes to socialising or having lunch etc.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Definitely a division. We do get on and communicate and wander into each other’s areas frequently, but there’s always a bit of an invisible barrier and people tend to mingle with their own.

    2. Extra Super Anon*

      Just have to get this off my chest:
      I work for a teapot engineering and manufacturing firm in what is generally seen as a diverse, liberal part of the country. When I first applied for the job, the one GlassDoor review of the company said that they were stuck in the 70s. Silly me, I thought they meant the cork wall boards. When I started, I thought it odd that of the maybe 70 people in the company, only 7 were women and another 7 were PoC. (Bonus: All but one of the PoC work outside the office, all but one of the women work in admin.)
      Last week, I was in an office with a department head and a senior VP. Casual as anything, the department head told me a joke involving sexual assault. While I was picking my jaw up off the floor, the senior VP mentioned that he had told the same joke to the CEO of the company the previous week at our annual dinner.
      I’m feeling more than a little stuck. If the SVP told the CEO that remarkably horrible joke and he’s still employed, I feel that my going to HR isn’t going to accomplish anything. So instead, I am polishing my resume and preparing to leave. I’ve kept a list of every racist and sexist thing I’ve heard and plan to leave this with HR at my exit interview. Really don’t know what other options there are.

      1. Extra Super Anon*

        ACK! Very sorry! This was supposed to be a separate thread, not a comment. My apologies!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


        Part of me says that you should still run it up to HR because the CEO may not “care” or fire someone for saying it to him, he may actually have a huge issue with it being said to YOU.

        I have seen that play out before. Things you say within the “inner circle” are still not okay to say to the outside circle. Yes, that’s pretty gross in it’s own way but it’s something to know.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Or conversely, the CEO may not care, but HR might, especially since sexist and racist speech in the workplace can lead to a costly lawsuit. One of HR’s functions is to keep the company out of trouble, legal or otherwise, so they may absolutely make a stern recommendation to the CEO to handle the SVP swiftly.

    3. KR*

      I mingle with technical staff! Both our field technicians who do the physical work of our company and our engineers who maintain our systems. It’s the only way to get things done where I work

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We do not divide ourselves and we make efforts on the executive leadership level to keep it that way.

      We’re a front office and production staff split. Our CEO knows everyone by name and we work closely together since we’re taking orders/processing requests while the shop needs to be consulted at times when things come up about “but can we do this?” or if a machine goes down and delays happen, we have to be in constant touch.

      We all have different lunches and breaks, depending on shifts but we all mingle throughout those break times and in between. The office all have open doors, so lots of casual conversations here and there. I have plenty who say good morning/good night to me as they come and go or stop to check in.

    5. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      We do at my office, to the extent the various parties involved and minglers (some folks just tend to keep to themselves).

    6. No Tribble at All*

      In general, the mingling is done by the older slacker technical guys chatting with the exclusively young women admins :/ as a young technical woman, I’ve introduced myself to the admins, and I’m friendly (I’ll ask if they need lunch if we’re going out for lunch, cos they can’t get up and leave the desk). But I confess I don’t want to be too associated with the admins.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      Every office is different. I have worked in offices that were incredibly hierarchical, and in others where everyone from the cleaning staff to the boss got along well. It depends on your office culture.

    8. kittymommy*

      Where I’m at they do, when possible. I think the biggest impediment is logistics, i.e. the technical staff tends to have different work areas and work times than admin staff so casual mingling is affected by simple lack of ability.

    9. Gumby*

      There’s an informal division but most of it is that people are doing different work in different areas of the building. I kind of work between the two – work more closely with technical staff than most but do many admin-type tasks (though I am classed as a technical employee) and have never felt disrespected. Frankly, the tech staff is thrilled to have me do my job because they don’t *want* to do it.

      I really like being in the in between area: half-fuzzy, half-techie has been my preference since college.

    10. Piano Girl*

      At my previous job, accounting staff get-togethers often included our IT guy and the main admin. I thought it was very nice, as he was a wonderful guy and was highly appreciated!

  23. Bummed*

    I was the one who wrote a week or so ago about leaving a toxic job and my coworkers didn’t do anything when I left. I tried my best to be social and fit in, but it wasn’t enough. I brought donuts, asked them about their families, bought girl scout cookies from their kids, etc.

    It was a toxic place and while I know that, I can’t help shaking the feeling that *I* am the problem. I’ve been told that I’m a helpful, nice, a hard worker, but obviously it’s not always enough. I’m not perfect, but I try to be a good person. Still, wouldn’t I have more friends? I just don’t know if it’s me or them or both?

    How do you know what the issue is? Is there a way to put this into perspective so that I’m not feeling depressed/blaming myself?

    1. Hope*

      If it was a toxic workplace, there probably wasn’t much you could do to get people to be friendly (and odds are they would be less open to being friendly anyway, as they were probably more focused on just getting through work). It’s probably more them than you. Definitely don’t blame yourself.

      1. valentine*

        You want to be the problem in a toxic place and it’s great you couldn’t make friends with toxic people. Take the win. Embrace your freedom.

    2. Duchess Honeybadger*

      Girl, same. When the self-doubt creeps in and it gets harder to listen to my sensible voice over my impostor-syndrome voice, I try to pretend that I’m a friend of myself and talk to me how I would talk to a friend. What would you say to a friend you trusted in the same situation? You’d tell her that she’s delightful, and that she did her best, and that this is about them and not her. It sounds like you are a wonderful coworker, and shame on them for not seeing it. May your new workspace bring you the colleagues you deserve.

    3. Stuck in a Cube*

      One thing that sticks out to me about toxic jobs like that: cliques. It doesn’t matter how nice or sociable you are or how many GS cookies you buy, if you are not part of their clique then ignore you until they need something, or it’s GS cookie time again. I am 99% certain that it is not you.

      We have a clique here who all got their jobs because they are related to or know someone. It’s the most toxic department here. I do more work on accident than they do on purpose, but because of who they know or related to, nothing is done. I have very little interaction with them and they don’t interfere with my ability to do my job, so I just return the favor of ignoring them. I’ve been here 17 years and have a very good, friendly relationship with everyone else.

      I hope that helps some. We all want to have a friendly workplace and a few people to chat with occasionally, but some place are just so toxic that is not possible.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        I apologize in advance if this comes across a bit harsh but perhaps shifting your mindset to stop looking at your coworkers as potential friends and more like…oh I don’t know widgets might be beneficial to you. It may help you separate friends from co-workers.

        1. Stuck in a Cube*

          I don’t look at my coworkers as friends. I like to have a friendly, cordial relationship with coworkers. Enough to say ask if they enjoyed the game or something along those lines. Not friends, just “friendly”.

      2. Duchess Honeybadger*

        “I do more work on accident than they do on purpose.” I’m so stealing this.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      “Would I have more friends”?

      No. People are very selfish and self absorbed by nature, they’re often very closed off and not open to new friendships often. So once we’re out of our school years, friends tapper off unless we join groups of people. Unless you’re actively working the room at church or your local sports rec team, etc. You’re rarely going to find a lot of friends, THATS NOT BECAUSE YOURE BAD! It’s just humans. Humans are weird AF and tend to be drawn to certain people who they are connected with in some random way.

      You were surrounded by soul suckers who are snobs or standoffish for their own reasons, it’s not you. It’s absolutely them. I had a coworker who still hated me despite always being helpful, kind and buying her kids fundraiser stuff. It was just because she was a snob who thought she was better than I am for whatever reason, that’s her issue, I can’t change that I’m from Wherever, I didn’t go to Whatever school she decided is the only acceptable school, I’m an accountant instead of some kind of sales wizard or whatever she deemed the only respectable profession.

      This is just not about you. It’s hard and it’ll take time to shake it off but you will rebound. This isn’t forever. As someone with a history of beating the crud out of myself emotionally due to others, I understand completely. But it really is them. I’m not saying it to make you feel better. It’s the truth.

    5. Mrs_helm*

      1) If they are toxic, then be glad you did not fit in? That means you’re not toxic, and you’re not oblivious to toxicity.
      2) Regard it as a “square peg/round hole” kind of thing. Not as a right/wrong, but just not a fit.

      1. Remote cat herder*

        Precisely! The “issue” is that OP isn’t rude/cliquey enough to fit in with them.

    6. Margaret*

      I would focus on making those friends places other than work? I know I work with many excellent, lovely, kind colleagues who bring treats in… and I do not want to be friends with any of them because I keep my professional and personal self quite separate. The reward for being a helpful hard worker at work isn’t friendship, it’s professional recognition.

      Focus on finding a job where the people are professional and not trying to hurt you, and a social life with good friends centered around places other than the office- clubs, activities, etc.

  24. Myamme*

    I wanted to thank those of you who commented on my post from last week about the employee with cancer who is about to get a PIP.

    We do have a thorough, well-staffed, HR/FMLA department and the employee has met with them about using the benefit again.

    I know that the correct thing to do is to proceed with the PIP and the comments were reassuring. I do still struggle with the optics of it. Like one commenter said, he is a ‘chaos magnet.’ But he is a ‘chaos magnet’ with a lot of friends in the office and I am less known (my projects don’t involve that group as much). I am afraid others will perceive it as cruel and that it will somehow impact working relationships.

    1. Cows go moo*

      Oh I can relate to this.

      I had to performance manage someone out of her job after five years of mediocrity at best. She had a lot of friends at work. Of course she wasn’t going to say “I got fired because I suck at my job.” She twisted the story to turn it into “After all my years of hard work, I got fired for no reason because the new manager hates me.”

      Her work friends really judged me for it and I was still hearing about this months later. But I have no regrets. Because this person was having a negative effect on the business and our team and it was my job to address that.

      Still, it was tough dealing with the gossip and unfair judgment from other people afterwards. If I could do it again I would make the same decision, but I would communicate my decision more openly. Not necessarily announcing “Jenny was fired because she was chronically late, lazy, and incompetent.” But I would at least talk to the team along the lines of “I wanted to clarify our policy about disciplinary procedures. If anyone doesn’t meet their minimal performance expectations I will always communicate that and provide extra training. My aim is always to offer support to anyone who struggles with their job for whatever reason. Terminating employment is the absolute last resort if I have tried everything I can and things still don’t work out.”

      This may mitigate some of the gossip directed at you. But it may not. This is unfair and you’re not in a position to defend your decisions openly; but it’s a part of being a manager.

  25. Let Me Tell You About My Cats*

    I have a question for people who are familiar with government jobs.

    My unit has been talking about taking on an ambitious new project, and my Lead has told me that she wants me to do it. It’s going to be something that will be a net positive for both us and the citizens we serve, so I’m honored that she thinks so highly of me, especially because I haven’t been in my position for a year yet. I’m having my review with my supervisor today and I’m going to ask him about it. My question is, if I am chosen to take the lead on this project, should I ask for a classification/salary increase? If so, how? Since it’s not the private sector, there aren’t any “raises” per say, just step increases, COL increases, and title changes (which usually mean a salary change). Has anyone had experience with this?

    1. Middle Manager*

      Given I doubt any two governments are the same (city, county, state, federal, etc), but in my particular state government world, we would not be getting a salary increase or classification change for a new project. Those are super rare in my corner. They happen, but it’s generally for really out of the ordinary things, not taking a lead on something new. But I think you have to know your context. Maybe ask other staff around you who have been there longer if that is something that is done in your office.

      1. kittymommy*

        Same in my county government. Unless the job is fundamentally and permanently changing (which would have to go through HR, the department, and board approval) a new project is just considered part of the job.

      2. Lx in Canada*

        Yep I work for the Canadian federal government and a salary increase/classification change would definitely not happen for a new project, especially if temporary. There’s a scoring system that all job descriptions go through to determine what level they should be at, so just adding a new project likely wouldn’t shift that.

    2. LCL*

      The way we do it here is, we would look at if the job could be considered part of the normal work of someone IN YOUR CLASSIFICATION, not your work specifically. If what you are doing is normally not done by people at your level but by someone in management or first line supervision, you would ask to be paid at the higher rate temporarily, for as long as the assignment lasts. Your management would have to approve it, and of course there would be paperwork. Your manager would also have a pretty good idea of what sort of work qualifies for the higher pay, and a good one would suggest it before you brought it up. In fact I’m working on this very thing for two people this morning.

      You have to learn how this is usually handled at your job. If you are represented, talk to your shop steward and find out what has been done in the past and how things are done now. If you haven’t been there a year yet, maybe you haven’t got all your step increases so should ask for that. Or maybe there is a higher job that is considered the next one above yours and you should ask for that classification.

      1. Not All*

        We also do temporary grad increases in federal…but that would mean being formally detailed out of your current position into a new position. Generally they are limited to 120 days under our rules, though it is possible to get waivers to extend.

    3. Not All*

      In federal, that would be EXTREMELY inappropriate as well logistically nearly impossible. If you do a good job on a project, you’d be likely to get a cash award at the end. If you did an absolutely stellar job, you MIGHT get a step increase as an award. But in every case, those are something management gives you to recognize your work, not something you ask for in advance.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      In my federal government job, you have to apply and be offered a new job to move up to a higher grade level. Promotions are not a thing because the job must be advertised on USAjobs.

      I know of someone who negotiated a step increase when she was hired (so she didn’t start from step 1), but I have never heard of that step increase once on the job for anything but time in grade.

      It sounds to me like that you’re being offered a different project within the office and that you aren’t likely to be able to get an increase in salary because you’re still in the same job.

    5. DivineMissL*

      In my local government job, a salary increase would only occur if there was a significant, permanent increase in job workload or additional job duties added. If it was a one-time project that fit under my existing job description, then I wouldn’t expect an increase for some extra work for a few months. However, if this new project, once in place, would add X amount of work to my job on an ongoing basis, then I would ask about an increase to offset the extra work at that point.

    6. second chance at interview I bombed*

      City/county government employee, here. I don’t think you can ask for a classification change unless the project is beyond your current role. But I do think you can have a candid discussion during your review about your future, your goals, and how taking on this project can help you achieve them.

    7. Gady*

      Since you posted about government jobs….I have a quick question! My dad is retired federal government and is showing signs of dementia. My mom passed away several years ago and I’m trying to help him out with memory care housing. I have found he doesn’t qualify for medicare or social security. True? TIA

      1. Policy Wonk*

        If he is under the old Civil Service system he would not have paid into them, so would not qualify for benefits. (Those under the new FERS retirement system do pay into Social Security.) However, he should have a decent retirement package and health care. You might want to check into whether he qualifies for something there. I don’t know enough about Civil Service retirement to tell you who to contact, so recommend you reach out to your local Congressman’s office to see if they can help you with this.

        1. Tabby Baltimore*

          If you decide to call your congressional rep, you might want to ask to speak with someone who works in “constituent services.” It might also be helpful to have the name of the agency and subordinate unit your dad retired from, and the year in which he retired. The employee in the office might be able to find out a current point of contact in that agency’s HR who might be able to tell you something about what kinds of benefits were available in your father’s retirement package at the time. Best of luck.

      2. Government Mule*

        If he was under the old Civil Service Retirement System, my understanding is that they paid in to Medicare, but not in to Social Security. Check with his pension/benefits administrator.

    8. Aquawoman*

      My experience is federal. I think for a salary/step increase, you would likely have to have a different job or PD. What you could do is if it goes well and you do a stellar job on it, ask about a quality step increase at review time.

  26. Confused anon*

    At my last job, I worked with a lot of engineers. The place was also very dysfunctional and toxic. I was helping one engineer out with an issue with the software. I just gave him some info on some technical issues that were affecting the database. This was done via email.

    When I saw him in person, he seemed to avoid eye contact with me and seemed shy/embarrassed/avoided me.

    Another male engineer and I talked, but maybe I appeared too bubbly/eager to speak to him. (I was just excited to be leaving my job at the time!) We talked and then the next time I saw him, he avoided me in the hall- as in he turned and went the other way when he saw me.

    It’s frustrating because people tell me all the time that I’m quiet, but then when I am more social, it still seems to scare people away. I can be social when I feel more comfortable, so maybe they mistake that for thinking I like them? Others of them acted the same way- when I would be more social, it seemed to make them uneasy/uncomfortable. Is there something that I’m doing wrong?

    Any thoughts on this?

    1. Lora*

      Have worked with engineers many many many years. Multiple decades. I would not actually worry about it unless they say something to you directly. It may be something entirely else that has nothing to do with you, or that you can do nothing about.

      Example: We just had mandatory anti-bullying and anti-harassment training at our site due to high turnover and complaints to the EEOC in one particular department. Now there are a bunch of guys acting all weird around women and people of color, in any department, no matter what. Thankfully my group is good, but I know the others are not so much and all the dudes are being extra-awkward and weird, avoiding women and PoC, speaking verrrryyy slooooooowwwwwly like they really have to think about every single word.

      I have a nearly infinite amount of “engineers being awkward” stories, sadly. At this point I’m just grateful if they keep their clothes on at work, and eat with a knife and fork.

    2. Policy Wonk*

      In a previous job I worked with a number of very introverted engineers. (We used to say that the extroverted engineers would look at your shoes when they talked to you.) While not all engineers are introverts, in my experience many are. Your positive discussion, as it was technical in nature, was in the engineer’s comfort zone, hallway chit chat is not, thus the avoidance of eye contact. I wouldn’t take it personally, but would try to engage when there are technical issues to discuss.

      1. Kat in VA*

        My dad is an engineer. Actually, it’s technically more correct to say “My dad is a rocket scientist” because, among other things, he is literally a rocket scientist. My stepmother is an engineer. My husband was an engineer before he moved into management…of other engineers.

        There are definitely stereotypes about engineers, and some of them are more accurate than others. However, quite a lot of them tend to be incredibly intelligent and often have the most amazing dry wit that can leave you doubled over laughing…once they trust you. The thing with them is to keep plugging away. I continue to be friendly to them and wear them down until they’re comfortable enough to engage with me on a regular basis. (I’m an EA so our jobs don’t normally overlap except! I’m also an EA to the SVP of Engineering, so I have an “in”, so to speak.) I view it as a personal challenge to overcome the natural introvertedness of engineers*.

        Of course, if someone makes it clear they have NO interest in engaging whatsoever (like walking away when I’m talking to them or other obvious signs of “Piss off, Kat”) then I’ll leave them be, but most of them just need a little coaxing.

        *#notallengineers, of course. I grew up with a geek gang, so I’m more comfortable dealing with the techie sort than most folks in my position, I’ll wager. With engineers, sometimes you just have to go the extra mile to reassure them that yes, you are friendly, no, you are not going to suddenly pounce on them and demand they play Cornhole at the end of quarter Sales party, and yeah, I really did put those extra chocolates you like in the communal bowl, just for you.

        I just re-read this and jeez, is it obvious that I’m a geek *and* a mom? I need to go to bed.

    3. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I work with Engineers and sadly there is no middle ground – either they’re super awkward (barely speaks, doesn’t socialize) or they loud, obnoxious and close to HR complaint. For example, last week I was discussing where we were going to have lunch and three coworkers almost fell from the stairs because they were looking at a woman’s butt.

  27. Iris Eyes*

    There are changes afoot in the office environment. First we lost the ice machine, now the file cabinets, an entire office was turned into an office edition of hoarders. Food was supplied to appease, but rumors of knick nack removal and possible banning of family photos put many on edge.

    Hopefully hot desking and removal of cubicals isn’t next.

    1. LibbyG*

      Desks are so 20th century. You’ll have to hot-hammock or hot-bean-bag shortly. Or maybe build your own desk and chair out of giant Legos to flex your creative muscles and meet your microspatial needs.

      1. Iris Eyes*

        I would be interested in the “build your own space” option, that could allow for interesting possibilities.

        1. Mockingjay*

          If I built my own space, I would replace my office chair with a hammock. All fluorescent lights would be removed. My personalized Spotify playlist would chime softly from my new Bluetooth speakers…and so on.

          I wouldn’t be very productive, but I would be really happy!

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

      When you got to knick nack removal and banning of family photos all I could think of was the 1980 movie 9 to 5: Mr Hart, “An office that looks efficient, is efficient” I hope I’m not misremembering the quote. You should load up on skinny ‘n sweet while you still can.

  28. BeanCat*

    Thank you all for the reframing advice around being (what I saw as) abruptly asked tasks last week – this week has definitely felt better with all of that in mind. I’m also dealing with a flare up of a chronic health condition which doesn’t leave me in a great mindset so I think that played a small part in making everything feel bigger. I feel brighter and can dedicate my mental energy to my health instead now, so I really appreciate your help :) just wanted to drop in and say thank you!

  29. Eillah*

    Any tips for relieving a crying-hangover at work? As in, not alcohol related but you’re still puffy and dehydrated and can barely think?

    1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Drink lots of water, and are you able to escape every once in awhile for a quick stroll/walk around the building/see the sun? Fresher air and being outdoors can really make a difference, at least for me.

    2. M. Albertine*

      Fresh air does the most for me. Get outside, walk around the building, deep breaths, take your water bottle if you can. Use the walk to transition your mindset: you had your time for crying, now it’s time for working. Crying again can be later if you need to, but now it’s work time. Stop back by the bathroom on the way back: cold water on the eyes, put yourself together.

      “Designated crying times” was what helped me deal with infertility. I had grief that I needed to deal with, but compartmentalizing it into the times I chose to really feel it helped me still be productive and a “normal” person outside those times.

      Hope this helps, and wishing you strength for whatever it is you are dealing with.

    3. Bruiser Woods*

      Drink some water, try to relax as much as you can while still working. Take some 5min breaks to walk or quickly meditate to calm your thoughts. Ice pack on puffy eyes? Take a bit longer if you need to, 10 min break or day off if you can?

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        Or moist paper towels work really well if you don’t wear a lot of eye makeup.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      Really cold ice water. Lots and lots of ice water. This makes it easier to use the restroom and I can check to see how I look but have an excuse as well.
      I have a mini usb fan plugged into my computer so having that blow on me helps (I sometimes get overheated when I get emotional or if I’m trying to stifle emotions.) Deep breathing.
      You could always run to target and grab an ELF under eye mask and do it in your car. You leave them on for 10 mins and then wipe away the extra. Help with puffiness.

    5. Sunflower*

      Wet a paper towel and pat it on your face/under your eyes. Keep repeating for a few minutes until your face goes down a bit. Try to get outside for a few minutes if you can.

    6. BethDH*

      Find something as routine as possible to do — repetitive processes with 6-8 steps work best for me. Something that engages just enough of your brain that you have to focus, but not so much that it’s frustrating or overwhelming. Whatever your job’s version of submitting reimbursements or data checking looks like would be good.

    7. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      If you don’t care about your eye makeup, take a couple of tea bags, make them wet and stick them in the fridge or somewhere cold for a little while. When you have a break, go somewhere private and put them on your eyes for a bit. It will help with the puffiness. As the others said, also drink lots of water and cut out the caffeine if you can. Hope you’re okay.

    8. Existentialista*

      Have Visine with you, always. And I find a pain reliever like Advil washed down with a big, cool drink of water helps at lot as well. Plus, pretending. Within about an hour you should feel a lot better.

    9. epi*

      I keep face wipes in my desk. You can get gentle ones for sensitive skin that usually smell mild– cotton or cucumber most of the time– and shouldn’t irritate your skin. They will feel cool on your face because they are wet, or you can keep them in a fridge to extra cool your face down and wipe away any tear stains. I like to have some face wipes in the fridge anyway in the summer, just in case I arrive sweaty.

      In a pinch, you can make a “wipe” that is damp but not soaking wet, even out of fairly cheap paper towels that are too fragile to soak and wring out. Hold the towel up with one hand. Wet the other hand and flick the water at the towel. Run your wrists under cold water to cool down your whole body, especially if you are wearing makeup that would get ruined by more fussing with your face.

      If you’re not wearing makeup or it’s already ruined, nothing beats splashing really cold water on your face and the back of your neck. If you can get somewhere private, you can even submerge your face for a few seconds and then dry off. This is a strategy recommended in dialectical behavior therapy; it can cause you to experience the dive response, slowing your heart rate and breathing and making you physically feel calmer.

    10. Overeducated*

      Is there a quiet spot you could go close your eyes for 20 minutes (private office, wellness room, currently empty conference or storage room, etc)? After crying my eyes just get really tired and my eyelids feel heavy, so closing them for a little while makes a huge difference. I hope you feel better.

    11. Krickets*

      In addition to all these suggestions, I suggest grabbing a notebook or paper where you can just write whatever when you can’t think. I write gibberish sometimes or really pointless things like, “I really can’t think right now and I wish this fog from my brain would be lifted. Lalalala can we just all agree the work day should end now so I can enjoy my weekend…” that sort of a thing. :) Hope you get to feeling better!

  30. WordNerd*

    Hoping to get a little help from the creative hivemind–apologies if this isn’t what the forum is for.
    I’m creating a bunch of self-paced grammar and style modules for my job at a university. I’m trying to figure out a somewhat catchy but descriptive/informative name for the modules. Either a phrase like “Winning with Writing” or an acronym of some kind comes to mind. I’m also hoping that whatever name or acronym can have a logo that goes with it to put on the slides. Our mascot is the Pioneers, so that can be incorporated. Right now, my best attempt is SWAP: Style, Writing, and Pioneers with an arrow-based logo.
    I’m trying not to use “grammar” because a) it’s a little off-putting and b) “g” makes for gross-sounding acronyms, but I’m open to it.
    Any help would be super appreciated!

    1. LibbyG*

      Is it for a student audience? Sounds fun!

      I like “mechanics” rather than grammar (because it also includes things that aren’t exactly grammar).

      I’m not coming up with anything great for a name, but envisioning a student audience I like an emphasis on the act that the goal of effective mechanics and style is to get one’s point across or, in writing for educators, showing what you know. Pioneering is about traveling to new places (charitably put), so something about exploring might suit.

  31. Leah*

    I have a question. I’ve been applying to jobs just as Alison suggested – I look for a job ad on LinkedIn, go to the company’s website, find the same job opening and then apply through there. Two days ago I applied to a job I’m qualified for in a company I’d be excited to work at – their Glassdoor reviews are really good, the benefits seem amazing, the location is awesome, all that jazz. Their website had an option to either apply through LinkedIn or to manually input my e-mail, phone, cover letter, CV, etc. I spent an evening tuning out my cover letter for this position, filled in the application manually and sent it over, but here’s where I’m now worried: I never got a confirmation e-mail. After submitting my application I was taken to a new page that said something along the lines of “thank you for applying”, but it didn’t say anything about sending a confirmation to my e-mail. I tried going back to the previous page to confirm if my e-mail was right but the form was blank. I’m worried I might’ve typed my e-mail wrong and didn’t notice – unlikely, but possible – since I only skimmed the fields where I’d typed my info (I was triple checking if I’d attached the right CV and cover letter file instead).

    What should I do in this case, if anything? Is it normal for companies to not send out confirmation e-mails? I’ve applied to a few other companies and got confirmation e-mails from all of them. Should I try to contact the head of the department I applied to via LinkedIn and explain my concerns or should I just put it out of my mind and hope for the best?

    1. londonedit*

      I’d say that if you were redirected to a ‘Thank you for applying’ page, then your application has been submitted and you don’t need to worry about it!

    2. ginkgo*

      Heh, this happened to me the other day and then I got a rejection a few days later. At least now I know I typed my email right. Hopefully you’ll get confirmation via an invitation to interview instead ;)

    3. Half-Caf Latte*

      I think put it out of your mind and hope for the best.

      If you did type it wrong: hiring manager gets your message and thinks geez, no attention to detail.
      If you didn’t type it wrong: hiring manager gets your message and goes geez, no attention to detail.

      I’d also be put off by a follow-up message very close on the heels of an application. It feels like a weak cover story in an attempt to Get Noticed! Because Gumption!

    4. Matilda Jefferies*

      I think there’s no harm in asking. If there’s no contact info in the ad itself, see if you can find a general info@company or hr@company email address somewhere. You can send a quick note saying you applied for a job but didn’t get a confirmation email, just the “thank you for applying” page on the website. So you know your application was received, but is it possible that you entered your email address incorrectly? Or is it normal that there’s no email, and you can assume everything is fine.

      They may have opinions on your attention to detail based on this, which may or may not hurt your chances at the job. But I’d rather take that risk, than take the risk that I made a typo in my email address and therefore I’m out of the running entirely because they can’t reach me to set up an interview.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you see a job posting on LinkedIn, apply from the LI posting. It’ll either have you do a quick “IN Easy Apply” where you basically provide the link to your profile and an uploaded resume (hopefully lovingly personalized for that position), or will send you to the company website where you’ll apply as usual — HOWEVER, LI will also send a LI notification to the job poster that you applied. (Unless you turned that off feature in the privacy/settings options). That gives you an extra chance to be noticed.

    6. BethDH*

      I have run into the confirmation page but no confirmation email thing many times. I even set up one like that once myself, before I had run into it from the other side. It’s easy for the people setting it up to think that people’s primary concern will be “did the form go through?” and the confirmation page tells you that, so they don’t think about the secondary concern about confirming what you sent them. Unless you regularly mistype your email I wouldn’t assume anything based on the lack of email.

    7. JessicaTate*

      I’d hold off for at least week or two and try to put it out of your mind as most likely over-thinking. You got the confirmation page – it went through.

      From the hiring manager side, I had a candidate recently do a follow-up “Just want to be sure you got my materials” email; I know we showed a confirmation screen (I think we also sent the automatic email, but I’m not certain). I answered politely and didn’t hold it against him, but I’ll admit that it felt a little more pushy than was strictly necessary. Kind of like, “Slow your roll. It was just two weeks ago. I have a lot of these to get through.” But I also know it’s stressful being a candidate. So, try to put it out of your mind and push forward. But if you really can’t, just be polite and not pushy in that confirmation email.

    8. Clementine*

      I would not send a request for confirmation. That would likely be super-annoying and may be ignored. If for some reason your email was wrong, then the recruiter could call you, right? There’s no reason to think your resume is not in the system. Move on.

  32. Amber Rose*

    I think I stepped on my boss’s toes a bit, but I know she doesn’t know I did it. Should I say something?

    Context: Two of the people who sit in our area are nuts. They’re constantly threatening each other, play fighting, cursing at each other and generally acting like teens on a sugar high. My boss was telling me that people walking by our office have actually said this makes them uncomfortable and she was asking how I feel (spoiler: uncomfortable).

    Then she was asking what she should do about it, but went kind of wishy washy about it and never actually did anything, so last time they were spinning each other around on chairs I basically told them to take it down a notch because people are complaining. Things have been more peaceful around here now, at least. My boss will probably never know I said anything. Should I tell her though?

    I need a new job, I’m on a hair lately and basically BEC with both of them. The singing, the whistling, the listening to music without headphones, the cursing and yelling constantly… I’m just wound tight like a spring.

    1. Rey*

      I don’t think you stepped on any toes or that you need to say anything to your boss. It sounds like you said something to your coworkers in the regular happening of things, not taking the place of your boss.

    2. Bulbasaur*

      The fact that your boss had to ask you, her direct report, what to do about employees spinning around on chairs…

      Something tells me the spinning employees are not your only problem.

  33. Middle Manager*

    Any one have good tips for welcoming new employees and effectively onboarding them?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Tour them around the building.
      Introduce them to as many people as possible.
      Make sure they know where bathrooms, lunch room and lockers (if applicable) are, as well as any other amenities.
      Make sure they’re settled with the person directing their work if that’s not you, and that they know where their work station is as well as where supplies are stored.

      As for me, I’m in charge of the safety orientation, which includes things like how to report injuries, where to go if there’s an evacuation, and what the rules are. Stuff like dress code and where to get safety equipment. Etc.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      Whatever you do, commit to doing the same for all new hires.

      I’ve seen way too many instances where a lunch is organized for someone, but the hire before didn’t get a lunch, and is now wondering why they didn’t get a lunch.

      Also, make sure everyone knows the new person is coming, who they are and when they start, and articulate your expectation for the staff to be welcoming and what that means. Again, deeply colored by past experiences here, but shift work and long-tenured employees with chips on their shoulders have led to newbies getting all sorts of snide remarks. “We don’t have you assigned to someone for training, no one told us you’re coming” makes people feel like their manager isn’t committed to seeing them succeed or cares that they are on the team.

    3. Mary Smith*

      I like to decorate new employees’ desks with a welcome message and then walk them around and introduce them to everyone. I also ask them to shadow other teams for a while (with that manager’s permission and only teams that are somehow affected by our work) so they develop relationships and get an understanding of how our work impacts other teams and vice versa.

    4. LCS*

      Start making a list. Whatever you do for this person, document. Every subsequent onboarding then gets easier & more standardized. Key things that are on my list and are generally applicable include:
      – IT access – confirm they have appropriate read/write access to the file shares, programs etc. that they need and that they can generally log on to your system
      – Swipe cards / site access / head count lists updated / parking pass issued
      – Site tour including facilities and key people / departments
      – Issue any personal protective equipment required (ie. if they will need safety boots or prescription safety glasses or anything).
      – Ensure e-mail distribution lists are updated
      – Ensure phone lists are updated
      – Get them added to any recurring / relevant team meeting invites
      – If you have online training, set them up with the correct profile to get the right courses workflowed
      – Make sure they know how to access EFAP, Ethics Hotline, etc.

    5. Matilda Jefferies*

      Make sure their desks are fully set up with a computer, a network account, and a functioning phone. (You’d be amazed at how many jobs I’ve started that didn’t have this on day 1, and left me with nothing to do!) Same with some basic supplies – pens, paper, stapler.

      Also clean up their desk area. Get rid of any personal items from the previous person who worked there, and go over the whole thing with some Lysol wipes. Give them a clean chair, an empty wastepaper basket, and arrange vacuuming if needed.

      If the person who had the desk before left any files, deal with those before the new person arrives. Go through them and get rid of anything personal, as well as drafts, duplicates, and anything else that can be easily destroyed. If the files are to go to the new person, make sure they’re in a state that they can be used right away. The new person won’t have enough knowledge to do this themselves, and it shouldn’t be their job anyway. If the files need to go to someone else, do all of the above and get them out of the space before the new person arrives.

      Basically, give them a comfortable, clean space to walk into on their first day. That way it looks like you’re ready for them, and happy to have them – there’s nothing worse than coming to a new job where the desk is crammed with somebody else’s old files and random desk ornaments, or there’s no computer or phone or anything they need to do their work.

      1. President Porpoise*

        Dear heavens, yes. Too many of ours show up and we don’t even have their computer yet.

        1. Trixie*

          Yes! We eventually started a project plan for each new hire and started with “hire employee” which triggered IT items including computer, printer access, phone, etc. Other items included arranging for desk space, supplies, name tag, etc.
          The other useful item is to create a first day schedule (including lunch) and first week. Also, the first day guide helped identify 1-2 people that are good folks for questions regarding office in general, staff, those random items that aren’t in the employee guide book.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have a “welcome kit” together. This includes a list of everything that needs to be told paperwork wise/payroll wise, including the day of their first paycheck! And when their PTO will be available. How to use the timeclock system. The date of their first review [after 90 days].

      Then we tour them around, introduce them and show them where the inboxes are and breakroom/snacks/drinks are located.

      Then remind them like 96 times [ not quite that much] that things are always a lot bigger and crazier than they really are on day 1, so please if anything pops up or you need to be reminded where to clock in or if you mess up the clock whatever, just come to me and we’ll fix it, etc. It’s all about just giving them the introduction and being sure they know the one true landing point if they get confused [aside from their manager, since their manager will help them with their job/work space but there are things other than that to deal with on a hiring level].

      It’s a nice time to give them company branded swag, a water bottle or lanyard for their keycard etc. We have company shirts we give out, we don’t wear them often but they exist as a bonding thing.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Swag is nice. Exjob gave a cheap branded tote that contained a stress ball, a mug, a pen, and a stapler (unnecessary, since it was mostly paperless). New employees also got a free company t-shirt.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s cool if you have a standard procedure, but if you don’t, it’s honestly okay as long as the new person feels she’s being taken care of. I’ve worked places where they seriously have some new people wandering around by themselves asking for help on the first day. There should be a mentor or trainer or some point of contact who will either train the person directly on things or be able to direct her to the proper resources or introduce her around to people.

    8. Scarlett*

      When I was new, I appreciated the following:
      – Having a schedule of people to meet with for the first week.
      – Having work materials ready for me on my desk on the first day. Bonus for my current boss who got me some company swag for my desk (pens, coffee mug, notebook).
      – Giving time to learn new software, complete HR paperwork, and other processes.
      – Setting aside specific time for asking “new hire” questions.
      – Planning lunch with the person’s manager and/or team.

    9. BethDH*

      Set up a meeting with them for several days or a week after they start (and tell them early on that you will be doing this). It is so overwhelming to get all that info the first day or two, and that’s when everyone asks you whether you have questions and then it’s easy to feel like you’ve missed your only chance to ask the newbie questions. Don’t just do a quick check-in and say “how are you doing?” — most people will just say fine and assume that it’s a pleasantry rather than an invitation.

    10. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

      Letting them know they can come to you with questions (or whoever else is appropriate), perhaps repeatedly.

    11. Not Actually Jane*

      On my first day at one job, they gave me a packet including:
      – A map of the office with each of the desks being labeled with each person’s name, what they did, and their email and phone extensions
      – A reference sheet giving instructions for how to log on to the various things I’d have to log on to, as well as how to use the desk phone
      – A basic SOP sheet, giving a sort of typical-day-in-the-life rundown of my new position and what workflows people generally used
      – A list of the company holidays and when they’d be that year
      – A list of the various stores and restaurants in town, and a map of our immediate area

      I also got a tour of the building, and was introduced to everyone I’d be working with.

      Obviously most of that was covered in training (and lunch breaks) but it was SUPER helpful having that stuff to refer back to

      1. VLookupsAreMyLife*

        Oh my goodness, that sounds like HEAVEN! Almost 2 months in & still don’t have a working phone line, office supplies, proper chair, or an updated name plate on my office door (it’s literally a sheet of paper you’d need to print out & put under the glass plate). ((sigh))

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Oh and we also check in with new employees at the end of the first week to see how they’re feeling more than anything. It’s really just all about showing them the lines of communication and getting them comfortable in their new environment.

    13. PopJunkie42*

      Any and all of this please! These are such great ideas. I just started a new job and it’s been awful. I had to ask a construction guy in the hallway where the bathrooms were. My trainer keeps saying things like “oh you’ll need to send that to Liz” – who is Liz? Why do I send things to her? Is she expecting this information or…?

      If you search “training” through the archives, Alison has some great info and she also created an amazing orientation/onboarding schedule. I know because I have such a chip on my shoulder from this new job that I went through and read everything. :)

      Think of the first few days and how you set things up as a way to say “We are organized and very excited you are here!” To botch this makes people (ok, me) feel like expectations are fuzzy and nobody really thought about my onboarding in any comprehensive way.

    14. Close Bracket*

      Wow. I’ve been at a new job for about 2 1/2 months now, and boy do I have feelings on this subject. I am a matrixed , so some of this might sound kind of weird. And it is kind of weird! But it’s less weird when you take the matrix context into account.
      My line management eventually got around to meeting with me. Eventually. We had a weird little half hour meet and greet at the start of the second full day of orientation which was just like, what the hell are we supposed to do in half an hour before orientation? I would greatly have appreciated if he had to come by to check on me my first actual full day of workfor an unstructured conversation, or at least at some point during my first week post-orientation.
      On boarding isn’t just the first day or the first week, though. My line management and project management all basically completely ignore me. Well, not completely. My line manager did meet with me to establish goals, which I guess needs to be done. He never checks on me, though. my project manager never checks on me, either. I go to him as necessary when I need something, but he never, ever initiates contact with me. I am genuinely starting to wonder if anybody would notice if I just stopped working. So my message here is, initiate contact! And not just on the first day or the first week! It doesn’t have to be every day, but at least now and then, express some interest in the continued existence and well-being of your new employee. Fake it if you have to, but for gods sake, don’t leave them feeling like you just threw them in the deep end of the pool and wandered off to grab another beer. You might be assuming that they would thrash around and scream if they were drowning, but they might just sit on the bottom. Go check on them.

  34. Humorless*

    My boss and coworkers humor is not something I can keep up with :( it’s always someone being mean to each other (I.e., my coworker and boss like to call me and each other idiots, useless, dumb) but then follow it up with “Just kidding! Take a joke.” This isn’t humor I’m good with and I guess I’m sensitive because it’s starting to get to me. Just yesterday my coworker told me I needed to kiss her ass if I wanted to ask her a question, and my boss and her laughed. I laughed too but inside I’m really tired of it. Once I mentioned “hey, I don’t really think that’s that funny.” And it backfired to where my boss now thinks I’m uppity. How do you deal with crude humor when it’s not your style?

    1. WKRP*

      That’s hideous. I usually ignore humor or comments that I’m either uncomfortable with or frustrated by. For example:

      Me: Hey coworker, can I ask you a question about X?
      Coworker: Only if you kiss my ass.
      Me: Nevermind. (or just silence)

      If it’s a question you need the answer to

      Me: Do you have the TPS spreadsheet?
      Coworker: Kiss my ass and I’ll tell you.
      Me: Do you have the TPS spreadsheet?
      Coworker: You’ll have to kiss my ass to get it.
      Me: Let me know when you’re ready to answer the question. (then walk away)

      1. valentine*

        Idiot/useless/dumb/kiss my ass is straight-up bullying. Not that you should stay/tolerate it, but I can’t think of anything they wouldn’t have an answer for and, not only would they escalate, but if your boss feels like they’ve lost, you’ll be in trouble, like weirdly cruel parents who play-fight with their kids, then punish them for unknowlingly going overboard. (You set them up, dude!) I’m assuming you don’t have proper HR.

    2. KR*

      I wonder if you could find a place to say, “Hey, I know you guys love to joke around but I’m just not very good at taking teasing and ribbing in stride. I’ll admit I’m pretty sensitive! I don’t want you guys to think I’m trying to be a wet blanket, but I think our senses of humor are very different.” I am also a person who is pretty sensitive and have found being up front with this can have some positive results. I didn’t grow up in a teasing family or with siblings who teased or made fun of each other so I think that has something to do with it.

    3. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Sounds (somewhat) similar to my office. I have a pretty thick skin, so I just ignore it and brush it off. If they want to think I’m uppity or stuck up or whatever…fine. The main difference is I get along with my boss and his humor isn’t so crude, it’s just my coworkers.

      That being said – this may just not be the right culture fit for you. And that’s okay! Doesn’t mean you’re sensitive. Not every office is a fit for every person. This might be your “it’s great, but”. Everyone has a different one.

    4. Anon with no name*

      I will always hate “it’s just a joke!” as an excuse. No matter what if someone is upset by a joke you shut up and stop joking with them and apologize. Period end of discussion. And there really are some things people should not joke around about – race, religion, disabilities, etc. Anything about how someone looks or acts. Having a sense of humor shouldn’t mean we have to put up with being mocked for who we are.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        I always find it very telling of their character.
        They’re informed or realize that they hurt someone, and their first reaction is to deflect any blame or responsibility, and accuse their target of being the “real” problem.

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Depending on the situation, either:

      1) The slow-blinking, deadpan stare, just long enough to be really uncomfortable. Usually they will speak first and just get on with it.

      Or 2) Total snark escalation, like

      Her: “Kiss my ass.”
      You: “You first.”

      At which point you go back to step 1.

      #2 only works if you’re glib and can fire back rapidly. If that’s not your way, sticking with the stare is a good option.

  35. Overeducated*

    Waiting to hear back on the decision from my interview Tuesday. Hiring manager responded to my thank you email saying it would be yesterday or today. Fingers crossed….

    1. Interplanet Janet*

      So you can expect to hear by mid-July! :D

      Kidding. Sort of. But best of luck, I hope you get good news.

  36. Everdene*

    Given my team an early finish Friday (4pm here). Crazy busy week in our service and I can’t give bonuses but I can shut the office early for everyone. What little things do you do for your reports?

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      Free food! One day our boss went to a local cafe (nothing fancy) and got us all a coffee. It helped power through the afternoon.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Haha I have to admit, a 4PM release would barely register, especially if I’m putting in extra hours during the week – that gets lost in the slosh. We get dismissed at 1PM as a treat.

    2. BigRedGum*

      Being able to get off early, free food, and being able to wear jeans. those are my most favorite things to get.

  37. Victoria, Please*

    I put a job on Ziprecruiter and Indeed for the first time. To be a decent person, do I need to respond to every single person who applies there?

    The issue is that you actually have to go and apply at our company’s portal, which is in the ad with a link and instructions. Since the job is now “closed” I can’t consider anyone new unless we decide to reopen the search. Do I need to reject or otherwise let every single person know, or are Indeed and ZR kind of the black holes I think they may be? (Again, decency is my standard here.)

    1. Silver Radicand*

      My general rule of thumb is if I’ve interviewed them, they should get a response. But not necessarily just for applying.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Just applied?

      No need to respond (unless Ziprecruiter and Indeed give you options to auto-reply with an acknowledgement of “We got your application”).

      Phone interviewed?

      Send a form rejection email.

      Interviewed in person?

      Form rejection email.

      Finalist who didn’t get it?

      If you have the bandwidth to send a personal rejection, yay. Otherwise, a form rejection email is fine.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve also seen some jobs post up and essentially say “If you haven’t heard anything from us by such-and-such date, we’ve hired someone else.” Not those exact words, but that gist. That’s not great, but it’s better than just straight-up ghosting.

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        You can setup ZipRecruiter so that each person who responds to your job gets sent a customized message. You could perhaps set the message as, “We really appreciate you applying for xyz role with Sasha’s Sprockets, qualified applicants can expect a response in 48-72 hours.”

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I shivered at the mention of Ziprecruiter, it’s been such a waste of patience in my life but that’s a side rant, sorry!

      You don’t need to respond to anyone who doesn’t follow the requirement to go apply at your business portal.

      They are blackholes when it comes to just submitting resumes. Unless you’ve reached out and had contact [phone interview and such], you don’t need to reach out.

          1. T. Boone Pickens*

            I have a love/hate relationship with Zip. I feel it’s absurdly overpriced ($400/month for 3 job slots) and the layout is…I don’t know kinda clunky would be the best way to describe it. The resume database sorting feature is also nonexistent which is a huge PITA. I don’t really love any of the job boards but I’d rather use Indeed as it’s much more cost effective ($100/month). As a job seeker I despised Zip because I’d get all these spam messages that let me know every time my profile got viewed.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            In our case it’s because the database is garbage and nobody is looking for a job there. We got zero interest in any position. Then add on that it’s complicated and junky.

            I loath Indeed as well but at least it’s just basic and a go-to job board for our area.

            ADP is trying to stuff it down the throats of businesses and it still stinks a bit stinky stinker.

            Also naturally, it’s high priced with their limited traffic, no thanks! They spend so much money on advertising, we decided that it was worth a shot.

            I will use Craigslist again before I ever use ZipR.

            1. LSharp*

              I have used Indeed a few times. I put right in the job ad that only applicants who receive interviews will be contacted, because we typically get 50+ resumes. On Indeed, you can pause the ad, so if you need to reopen the search, all the information is still there.
              Also, if we have interviewed them, we let them know they will ALWAYS receive a rejection email, or an acceptance phone call.

  38. Jessen*

    Ok, trying to put together a few cover letter appropriate sentences for a long distance move and leaving a job that I haven’t been at that long. I was thinking of something like “I am looking to move to private sector work for greater stability, and I want to move back towards this region where I have some connections.” Trying to move from DC area government work to something in the greater Detroit area. I do have some friends there.

    I know long distance is still going to be a very long shot for me, so I want to put the best spin on that I can.

    1. Jessen*

      For context: my resume will show graduate school in the rough area. I’ve only been at my job (frontline IT helpdesk) for about 7 months, but we’ve had the shutdown and a contract issue in that time. And I hate it out here.

    2. Thesaurus Loris*

      YMMV but I found that changing my resume and cover letter to “relocating to greater X in fall of Y” was what started getting me phone calls and interviews and an eventual offer – and mine was only a distance of about 200 miles. Using my address meant I was immediately in the “nope” pile, so I think it helped having an actual relocation time there. I didn’t have any concrete plans to move without a job offer, so obviously it was a gamble but I got lucky with the timing. You say you have friends in the area, ask if they’d be comfortable with you using their address in the interim or something? Good luck!

      1. Jessen*

        My one worry with a planned move date would be that many jobs would want me to start fairly quickly. I’m basically very entry level frontline IT. I don’t want employers to think “this person can’t start for 6 months so we’ll move on.” I could pull off a move in 3 or 4 weeks.

    3. JessicaTate*

      I recently received a recent cover letter that included a line that said, basically, “I’m eager to move to X City because of Reason Y.” It definitely caught my eye (I was having trouble finding local candidates, actually), and given the other qualifications, put it on the top of the pile. So I think your line is pretty good; maybe tighten it up a bit, “I’m eager to move [back] to the Detroit area, where I’m from/went to college/whatever OR “which would put me closer to family and friends” or something. You may not need a reason, but it helped me see that the candidate was serious about moving, which not all remote apps were.

      I think the other poster’s suggestion of claiming a planned move date to solidify your commitment would be good. Again, it tells me you’re serious and gives me a sense of timeline.

      You could also say that because this is a pre-planned move, you wouldn’t be seeking any relocation costs. I don’t know if people even factor that in…

      1. Jessen*

        Thanks. I was thinking of putting in some sort of reference to being able to move quickly. I’m renting a small apartment, so I could pretty much be relocated with a uhaul trailer and an airbnb for a month. Maybe 2 months rent for breaking my lease. But I’m not sure how to put that, and I’m low enough level that I think mentioning relocation would come across as tone deaf.

      2. Jessen*

        Also just for reference: I have very good reasons to want to move, but the real reasons are not at all appropriate to bring up. So I’m fudging a little on why I want to move. I do have good friends in the area though. And I adore snow.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Rather than “trying to move” I would say “planning to move”. The “trying” language would make me think you want me to pay relocation expenses, and are not otherwise committed to the move, and I would move on to the next resume.

  39. Not a Real Giraffe*

    For many years now, I have wanted to move from Large East Coast City to a smaller, more affordable city. (I have a couple different cities in mind. I think the city choice will really be based on where I can find a job.) My question is two-fold:

    1) What are your best tips for conducting a multi-city job search, when you have some general geographical preferences in mind but are not married to any one particular location?

    2) What are your tips for actually pulling the trigger in doing this? I have lived in Large East Coast City for a long, long time and my family is nearby. My only driving factors in wanting to move is that I will never be able to afford to buy a home in this area, I miss some aspects of the suburban life, and… I’m just a bit over living here.

    1. BethDH*

      Do some cost of living and livability research first and pick a few target locations that you really like and start with those to help you focus.
      Depending on your industry, see where companies you like have HQ or offices. That gives you a starting point even if you don’t work directly for one of them eventually, and also gives you more opportunities in the area.
      I was in a similar lifestyle-over-location situation, and the only way I got myself to actually do it was to create some artificial limitations. You can always set a deadline — look in 3 areas for 3 months, then if nothing pans out, switch areas.

      1. AudreyParker*

        I’d actually like to emphasize that first bit, which I touched on slightly earlier – apologies if you’ve already covered this part, Giraffe, but it was important for me.

        Before I really dug in, I would just look at rental listings in a city/area to gauge “affordability”. Once I got more serious and began looking into details, I realized that didn’t tell me remotely enough. For one, if average salaries are lower, too, you may end up with a technically cheaper lifestyle that consumes the same percentage of income. You also need to figure in the job market (are there even jobs you would be able to apply to? how competitive is it compared to where you are?), extra commuting costs/details (tolls, more/less public transit, higher gas prices, higher vehicle taxes), whether the affordable housing is even somewhere you’d want to live… You get the picture. I’ve been kind of amazed at how different things can be across the country and between cities that I hadn’t really considered before after living here for so long. I’ve eliminated several places I was initially very interested in after realizing that the bigger picture was not at all as favorable as I’d thought.

    2. AudreyParker*

      Trying to get out of Large West Coast City to smaller more affordable city TBD back east, still trying to wrap my head around this and trying different angles. It helps only a little that my interest in moving is driven by wanting to be nearer to friends & family, I don’t really have people attachments here anymore, but definitely finding it tough to really commit to the relocation idea. The one thing I’ve been doing is researching areas of potential interest on city-data to get a better idea of whether there are things I’m not aware of, either to do with commuting & work or just living there. It’s helped me bump some locations further down the list than others.

    3. moql*

      I was in a somewhat similar situation. I picked one new city a week, and applied to all the jobs in that area that would be a good fit. Next week, new city. In my industry there aren’t lots of new jobs being posted daily, so looking every few weeks was enough not to miss something.

      When interviewing, I made sure I had picked out several concrete reasons I wanted to move to that city in particular, so my answer wasn’t just “anywhere but where I am now.” These don’t have to be your most important motivations, just make sure you can talk about something. City #1 I talked about how much I wanted to move somewhere with a thriving X community. City #2 I said I’d visited on vacation and really enjoyed the weather. Defining those things for yourself might also make it easier for you to narrow down which cities to focus on first? If you know what general things you’re looking for (city size, deal breakers, airport has a direct flight to your current city, whatever) maybe post tomorrow and see if people have suggestions?

      As for pulling the trigger… I was careful to only apply for jobs I was excited about. Once I got an offer from one I knew I didn’t need to ponder because I’d already done the background on location, company, job duties.

  40. Putting Out Fires, Esq.*

    So what is the flexibility with pushing back on dates for work travel?

    Background: my husband’s job is sending him on work travel for 3 days. We’ve known he needed to do this for a few months but he only got approved for the money recently. Think: we were told he would go in March intending to travel at the end of April, now he is going the first week of July. There are no business reasons for the timing (not a product release, not a plant opening, not a conference, not with clients). With enough lead time, this trip could have been whenever. But the week when it is scheduled is the one time all summer we have childcare issues. Any other week spring and summer would have been fine.

    Obviously it’s too late to push back now, but I’m the future, when the dates are being selected, can you ask for blackout dates, like when you are already scheduled off or when your partner is already traveling for work? Is that something that a person can do with work travel?

    1. Mike*

      Absolutely. People are allowed to have lives. I get that all companies are different, but at my office, people just block their calendars for vacation/whatever time, and other people just schedule meetings, etc. around it. As well, when things are in the planning phase, it’s perfectly fine to say “by the way, Week X is bad for me for [whatever reason]”…especially if it’s not driven by client requirements or critical deliverable schedules.

    2. KR*

      Yes you can totally push back or ask for different dates especially for travel like this in the future. I travel on average once a month or once every other month for work. I’m away anywhere from two days to a week, sometimes flying sometimes driving long distances. I straight up plan my travel mostly around my own personal plans unless it’s something that involves other people travelling and/or is time dependant.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yup, unless there is a specific business need (trade show, big pitch, etc.) any reasonable company will work with the person going out of town to make sure the dates are doable. Super weird that the travel took so long to get approved.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      Of course — as planning starts, or even after dates are proposed it is super common to say “the week of the 10th doesn’t work for me, when can we move this to?”

    5. Flyleaf*

      Why is it too late to push back on the dates? They delayed, and should understand that things have changed since the travel idea was first floated. I would have no problem if someone on my team needs to adjust their travel based on family obligations, especially if I was involved in delaying the planning. Go ahead and (gently) push back, and try to get it moved to another week in July.

      1. valentine*

        Why is it too late to push back on the dates?
        Right. Don’t think of it as a command from on high. He can try, “Any other week is fine, but I don’t have childcare that week.” And if they overstep and brainstorm about who might take the kids, he just repeats himself.

  41. Lauren*

    I work with a woman named “Jane.” She has been with the company for a long time and trained me when I was hired. We basically do the same job, with a few minor differences. Old boss left and new boss changed our duties. New boss claims that Jane has “hand issues” that affects her work/typing, so the majority of the workload is now dumped on me. Jane spends time moving boxes and doing light paperwork. I’m now stuck with the workload that both Jane and I used to do together.

    I’m not sure if Jane has an undisclosed medical condition or if there are other issues going on. When I was interviewing for the position, one manager said that “Jane isn’t very good at her job, but everyone likes her.”
    Is that why she would get away with this? Because she’s social?

    It wouldn’t bother me as much if they demoted her or paid her less than me, but they’re not going to do that. Jane has her own office and acts as if she owns the place. She and new boss go to lunch together and are friends socially, so I’m stuck and have no one to turn to. I also wonder if Jane and new boss have some sort of agreement or quid pro quo.

    How are people allowed to get away with things like this? Has anyone been through this before?

    1. Duchess Honeybadger*

      People are allowed to get away with as much as management will let them. Are you up for looking for a new job? The way you’ve presented it, it doesn’t sound like there’s much of a remedy. Jane and New Boss are jackwagons and there’s no known cure for jackwagonry in grown people. Sadly. That would make me rich. Good luck! I’m sorry this is happening to you.

    2. MeganTea*

      Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anything you can do about Jane. The only thing you can do is talk to new boss about *your* workload, especially if you’re overloaded — which it sounds like you are. Be factual about how much work you’re tasked with, and ask Boss to come up with a solution to get you to a reasonable workload. But don’t mention Jane, since you have no idea what health issues or office politics issues are going on.
      Sorry you’re in this situation.

      1. Nessun*

        100% Agree. All you can address is your own workload. Meet with your boss to talk about what you’re working on and how much you can realistically do, ask for assistance in prioritizing if necessary, and look for guidance. If the answer is “do it all”, you’ll know where you stand with management, and can look at moving on.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This happens in a lot of places, lots of “Fred stinks at his job but is such a bright light in the office, so we just let him putter around!” However the normal thing is to then make sure the work is getting done but not just by dumping it on one person’s head like that. Ick. That’s just pure dysfunction and poor management in full view.

      You can’t do anything about. You can bring up that you’re now being swamped by work and need someone to take the slack [even if you’re not having issues keep up but don’t want to be sunk with paperwork when you take a day off at some point, you know? You shouldn’t be constantly running at 100% capacity on a daily basis]. But I would leave the Jane stuff out of it. Just say “Now that Jane is no longer available to help with X duties, I’m finding that it’s taking away from the time I have to do everything else, this will become a problem in the future given the workload is not sustainable for just one person.”

      But yeah, if someone has a medical issue, their duties are often reassigned but this was handled horribly.

    4. WS*

      If you start talking to your boss by complaining about Jane’s medical condition, you will come off as a jerk. The issue here isn’t Jane’s workload, but yours. Talk to your boss about being overloaded, preferably with a schedule of what you are able to reasonably do, and the boss can sort out how to get the rest done, whether they do it themselves or assign Jane or bring in someone else.

      1. valentine*

        And don’t engage if boss bangs on about Jane. Jane doesn’t matter. Proceed as though only boss, the workload, and you exist, because you only control one of those. This may require a lot of “Jane notwithstanding…”

  42. second chance at interview I bombed*

    I wrote in a few weeks back about an opportunity to take another crack at a position I applied for two years ago. It was a government panel and I had a meeting with someone who holds the position, and it was super helpful! Management had a brown bag lunch for internal folks who were applying for this position, and they were equally helpful. No one I met with thought it was weird to bring up questions from last time, and they provided me with coaching. Two of the questions I remembered specifically were asked this time around!

    My interview was last Friday, and while I wouldn’t say I hit it out of the park, I think I did much better than last time around, and I felt prepared. I did my best and I’ll find out in a month or so if I made the eligibility list. Thanks to everyone here who answered my answer about prepping last time! Cross your fingers for me!