open thread – June 28-29, 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.

{ 2,044 comments… read them below }

  1. JDoe*

    My dilemma is as follows: I work at a law firm and one of the lawyers here is having the 1L summer students do her wedding planning instead of doing anything remotely related to legal work. Things like researching venues or photographers or putting together a pile of sample invitations. Once I have heard her make veiled allusions towards a student’s future career when they pushed back. I’m not a lawyer or a paralegal, I’m her assistant and she is a partner. The firm is one of the biggest in the country and the other partners know her and they are friends but they don’t know me or my name and wouldn’t know me from Adam. Is there anything I can do about this or should I just keep my head down so she doesn’t make veiled threats to me like she did to the student I overheard? It feels wrong but at the same time I need this job and I know I wouldn’t win if I upset her. She has lots of influence among lawyers around here whereas I have none. Thank you for any guidance anyone can provide me.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Can you tell the students’ schools? They should know that their interns aren’t getting a good experience out of this.

      1. ContentWrangler*

        That was my first thought too! At the very least, the schools can make sure interns aren’t sent to her again. But the schools might also be able to advocate for the current students as well.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Second this. Just contact the school. Tell them everything and let them handle it.

      3. An actual lawyer*

        These aren’t really interns, they are professional students in a 8 to 10 week interview process. The programs are run completely independently from the schools (i.e. a school doesn’t “approve” or have any influence on the firm or the program) and the 1Ls are being paid big money to do these. Anyone suggesting typical college intern solutions really shouldn’t comment as it does not apply. At all.

          1. Actually a lawyer*

            1) A big law firm will generally have a full time Summer Clerkship coordinator, often in the recruiting office. That would be my first go to, or even the head of recruiting who is usually a senior HR person with the ear of the firm’s top partners.
            2) I would also go to any member of the recruiting committee, which is typically a mix of partners and lawyers. They will share it with the other members and address it as they see fit. Things like this are taken very seriously because the 1Ls are being paid the same rate as full associates and are being evaluated for full time jobs. Doing wedding planning means they won’t have enough summer work to evaluate (typically consisting of attorney ratings, memos, drafts of court filings, etc.) and the firm will have wasted $30k+ on a partner’s wedding planning (who by far has the means to hire a wedding coordinator). Trust me, it will piss them off.
            The thing with partners is that the only people that can keep them in line are other partners. So those are the people that need to address. OP’s only course of action, if she wishes to take it, is to let the right people know and to not get any more involved than that.
            3) OP, go in person so there isn’t an email with your name on it floating everywhere. Also, tell your partner what you’re doing so he can protect you if anything blows back (Partners love good admins and will take them with them from firm to firm often)

              1. JR*

                She is, but I think it’s the rare form these days that has a one-to-one assistant to partner ratio. Most assistants support a few partners.

            1. Kay*

              Also, tell your partner what you’re doing so he can protect you if anything blows back (Partners love good admins and will take them with them from firm to firm often)

              Huh? The lawyer that is doing this is OP’s partner. OP is her admin and she has made it clear the partner isn’t going to protect her at all.

            2. Runaway Shinobi*

              “Also, tell your partner what you’re doing so he can protect you if anything blows back (Partners love good admins and will take them with them from firm to firm often)”

              She can’t do that as the partner who’s setting the interns this work is her boss. No protection there.

            3. C*

              Thanks for this response–I’m not a lawyer but my job involves working with law firms and my first thought was “How the heck is the firm going to feel about these summer associates having no billable hours?” but then I wondered if that was a thing expected of summer associates or if I was mistaken on that.

              1. Cat*

                Actual billables are totally irrelevant for summers. You might “bill your time” — even using real client numbers — but it will 100% be totally written off.

                1. Lilysparrow*

                  At the firms where I worked, this kind of thing would definitely be tracked by accounting, though. They kept a close eye on the costs and profitability of each practice group. Somebody’s eating that cost on their balance sheet, with no deliverables to show for it.

                  Maybe the bride doesn’t care if she invests her profit-sharing in this project, but her partners will want to make sure they aren’t personally underwriting her wedding.

        1. Federal Middle Manager*

          Agreed. It sucks for the 1L, but they are being paid and get a good firm name on their resume for their 2L internship. It will probably be fine.

          1. Ra94*

            But they also get no legal experience or knowledge to speak about or mention future interviews, and they might turn up to their 2L with no idea how to do X or Y because all they did was coordinate wedding cake tastings. This puts them at a huge disadvantage to their peers.

        2. Aunt Piddy*

          My law school coordinated most of our 1L summer associate placements. I think this can vary depending on location, but it’s not necessarily a given that this situation is completely independent from the law school. Many law schools have intern placement (especially for 1Ls, who know hardly anything).

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      Is there an internship coordinator or something? Maybe mention it to whoever is in charge of the interns as a whole?

      Also, BARF. What a jerk.

      1. Ann Perkins*

        This was my thought too – I would give a heads up to whoever runs the internship program. If they’re not being paid this is also illegal.

        1. Federal Middle Manager*

          There’s likely no centralized internship program. Law school internships are more like temp work. You apply independently, are paid, and hope to get a full time offer out of it.

          1. Emily K*

            Yeah, if anything I’d be worried that this firm has no intention of hiring any of these kids or they’d presumably be more interested in developing their skills before bringing them on full-time.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Or that if they do want to offer jobs to any of them, the 1Ls won’t be interested, given their experience here.

    3. government worker*

      Ugh, this situation sucks. Can you talk to the 1L and see what, if anything, they’d like to do about this?

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I second this course of action. I would talk to one of the students or all of them and explain you know what is going on and would back them up if they want to tell someone about it.

        I would not say anything without their permission (at least one of them) because this would mostly blow back on them. The partner could think that it was one of the students who complained. Internships in big law are very competitive. For a select few a good internship can lead to a position before even graduating law school. Even if the firm did know what is going on, if the partner has a lot of billable hours they may very likely overlook this.

        Not to say that this isn’t wrong it is. But a lot of law students would put up with this for that chance of getting a job with the firm after graduation.

        1. CatCat*

          Yeah, it’s really up to the 1L. Honestly, I could see a student putting up with this for the money and connections alone.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      What the actual eff.

      I second the idea to reach out the schools, they should know that their students aren’t receiving training and are being threatened when they (reasonably) push back.

      This should hopefully also protect you.

      Is there also a way to make an anonymous complaint? I know some companies have whistleblower hotlines, but barring that maybe you could literally write a letter outlining the personal misuse of interns and threats and send it to the partners.

      1. WellRed*

        I second the anonymous note. This is egregious enough, and involves students, that I think it would be enough to trigger someone at least asking the interns what’s going on.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        But there’s often an ick factor to anonymous notes, no? In most situations they simply cast suspicion on everyone, and suddenly finding out who wrote the note becomes more important than the note’s original purpose.
        Maybe a quiet conversation with the school’s intern coordinator or maybe the company’s own Intern Wrangler would be more effective?

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Usually! If it’s about something minor or personal that could be better served by actually approaching the person, (like if someone sends you a note saying they think you smell, or that you chew too loudly, etc) then yea, an anonymous note is gross and disruptive.

          But this is a case where the person is doing something actively wrong, the OP has no authority to approach the person, and doing so could actively harm their career. I totally think approaching the intern wrangler or school is the way to go, but I also think that an anonymous note to higher ups to alert them to the situation is an option.

        2. Emily K*

          Yeah, it’s always better to use your name when you’re reporting something but ask the entity you’re reporting to for as much confidence/discretion as the situation allows. The report-receiving entity needs to know they can take the complaint seriously, which is hard to do when you don’t even know who made the complaint, but they don’t necessarily have to tell the person being disciplined who reported them.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            The blowback concern is real, though. I think your boss doing unprofessional things is a reasonable exception to ‘anony notes suck’.

    5. Another Sarah*

      Wow. Awful answers so far and not helpful to OP at all. People who have no idea about things like Biglaw firms and summer positions for law students should refrain from commenting.

      Sorry this is happening OP. My advice is to keep your head down as nothing good will come from you speaking up.

      1. Anathema Device*

        How is that helpful? Why would you not tell the intern coordinator?

        Is it possible that people with ‘no idea’ are giving obvious advice that people blinded by toxic work cultures are unable to see even when it’s staring them in the face?

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          You have a point. But while what is happening is wrong people are not obligated to sacrifice their individual career for the greater good.

            1. Clever Name*

              Hey, that’s really unfair. I can imagine all sorts of situations where one may have to decide that they need to put up with unfairness in the workplace because they cannot afford to lose their job. Not everyone has a support system (like a significant other or family members) that can support them financially if they fired. Many people have no financial safety net and would become homeless within one paycheck if they suddenly do not have a paycheck. If you are in this situation and have minor children who you are solely responsible for, the prospect of living on the streets with them because you spoke up over something icky happening to law students is unthinkable. I’m glad you have the financial/emotional/time/health resources to fall on your own sword for the benefit of others less privileged.

                1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                  Yes but also giving advice about make sure to think about all the possible consequences before making a decision is also valid. If OP decides to do something after thinking about and knowing about possible consequences both good and bad, good for them and I applaud them.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Many of us need to live in the world as it is, uncushioned by a trust fund or other means to sit in an ivory castle and reflect on how the system should work in an ideal utopia.

              1. Busy*

                Which is why I don’t ask questions on Fridays anymore. Man, this “perfect world” attitude grows tiring, is unhelpful, and comes across as VERY victim blaming. This isn’t the time to flout your ideals.

                Lets try this new rule:

                No one who relies on a job to literally live is morally required to do anything to jeopardize that job for any reason. Ever. End of sentence. Particularly if that job is the sole support of other people.

                1. Lilysparrow*

                  Considering the types of criminal fraud, dangerous negligence, and literally deadly incompetence that some people are expected to enable or overlook at work, I think that’s a bit sweeping.

                  But something like this certainly doesn’t rise to that level.

            3. Wintermute*

              The LW outright SAID they cannot afford to sacrifice their career.

              This is someone misusing an intern, this is not a tire company selling exploding tires or a mining company dumping mercury-laden tailings into a watershed. This is the world we live in, saying something may ruin her career, that is a fact. This doesn’t rise to the level of immorality or criminality that it’s a moral obligation to burn down your entire career to stop it.

              That’s just being practical.

        2. Brett*

          Read the comment above from “an actual lawyer”. They are not interns. They are summer employees without any involvement from the school.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            They were described in the original question as “summer students” so thinking they were interns and suggesting the LW act accordingly was not unreasonable, though. This thread got unnecessarily nasty really fast. “Uncushioned by a trust fund”?

            1. fhqwhgads*

              I disagree slightly. I’m not a lawyer but I thought it was common knowledge how summer gigs for law students worked. I don’t discount there are people who do not realize this, but I also think it’s very common for even people not involved in law to know that these are not at all like summer interns in other industries. I don’t think the thread is nasty for pointing out that treating these like interns is not at all applicable.

          2. only acting normal*

            Doesn’t matter if it’s not a uni-organised placement.
            If my company mistreated our summer students (also not uni-placements) like this it would certainly be appropriate to give our feeder universities the heads up, so they could warn students off our year-in-industry placements, or not invite us to their career fairs any more. We’d lose out because we rely on that supply of new junior staff.

        3. Ra94*

          I second your point, and also would like to point out you’re living up to your username namesake’s reputation for doing what’s right :-)

      2. An actual lawyer*

        Actually I agree. Lots of the suggestions are incredibly unhelpful because people are thinking in terms of a traditional summer internship for college student that have school affiliation. It is not remotely similar.

        These are not summer internships they are professional school pre-job placements. Effectively you are being interviewed the entire summer. You are paid the exact same wage as you would be paid if you worked there throughout the year. There is no school association. There is no program where the firm would get in trouble.

        The only person to report this to would be the summer program coordinator (who may be a full time person in the recruiting office or who may be one of the other lawyers volunteering for the position) and the other partners in the firm. They will not be happy because they won’t have any summer work to evaluate a candidate on – the candidates are judged by ratings systems and evaluations of sample work. It is a complete waste of everyone’s time to have 1Ls planning a wedding – these 1Ls are being paid upwards of 30K+ for 8-10 weeks of work. That’s a HUGE money investment and the firm will want to recoup that cost by getting good candidates that have been evaluated properly.

        1. Brett*

          “these 1Ls are being paid upwards of 30K+ for 8-10 weeks of work”

          This would also imply that the partner involved is functionally spending tens of thousands of dollars of the firm’s money on wedding planning? (which I bet the IRS would be interested in)

          1. Emily K*

            I would get a kick out of listening to someone try to justify a wedding as a legitimate business expense. “This marriage was necessary to unite our firm’s kingdom with the neighboring duchy. And without proper fanfare, the Duke would have never agreed to marry his son off to our senior partner.”

        2. Anonymousse*

          A recent-ish law grad here and I totally agree with An Actual Lawyer. The only people that will have any sort of HR power over the summer associates are the Summer Coordinators and the Managing Partner. At a super large firm (within the V100s), it is just not feasible for the managing partner to care about stuff like this. The summer coordinator would have less clout to actually do anything about it that wouldn’t guarantee blowback to the law student. At biglaw, it’s the partners that are rainmakers and they’re sadly all that matters. I think the safest bet is to inform the student’s law school’s office of career planning. Most T14 law school’s OCPs are quite powerful in that they can choose limit the firm’s EIW slots or participation.

          1. Anon for this*

            Generally agree with an actual lawyer. (Another lawyer here).

            I doubt the HR folks in charge would care or have authority to do much, if this partner feels free to treat summer associates this way. Complaints were blown off where I worked.

            You could report (anonymously?) to the Above the Law blog. They love to cover summer associate issues.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I would try to casually say, “Do you realize the 1L’s are spending a ton of time planning the wedding for my boss? Pretty much it’s X of their whole day; I haven’t seen Y filings or things from them.”

          Though that might leave you much more vulnerable than you’d be if you just picked whichever other partner is most sensible and nuanced and principled, and asked to speak in a confidential way, and specifically told that person that, because you heard your boss threaten one of the 1L’s for pushing back, that you don’t want her to ever realize it came from you.

          Otherwise–well, the 1L’s know who the other partners are, and who will be evaluating them at the end of the summer. They could speak to them as well.

      3. Ann Perkins*

        How awfully pessimistic. I’ve worked at a big law firm as a paralegal and this would get shut down.

      4. Jadelyn*

        You know, it’s entirely possible to disagree with other people’s suggestions without calling their answers “awful” and implying that anyone who disagrees with you should just shut up.

      5. Wing Leader*

        Disagree. I work in a law firm (albeit, a smaller one) and this would definitely be something that would have to be brought to the attention of one of the other partners.

      6. Not Me*

        I currently work in HR at in a Biglaw firm and we 100% would shut this down and protect the secretary.

      7. Iron Chef Boyardee*

        “Awful answers so far and not helpful to OP at all. People who have no idea about things like Biglaw firms and summer positions for law students should refrain from commenting.”

        I infer from the above that you do have an idea about things like big law firms and summer positions for law students, so what helpful advice to the OP would you give?

        1. Another Sarah*

          Exactly what I wrote right below the quote you posted:

          My advice is to keep your head down as nothing good will come from you speaking up.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            What are the ramifications of no one saying or doing anything? Not being snarky, just really not familiar with how law firms operate. So far I am seeing several people pointing out that the partner is effectively stealing sizable amounts of money from the firm, and that the word is guaranteed to get out. In what ways can this negatively affect the firm, which is where the OP gets their paycheck from? Like I said, not a llama, but in my field (business) I’ve seen people speak up in the “Fergus the new exec will run our company out of business if he doesn’t stop doing things the way he does” type of situations – no one wants to lose their job because the company had to downsize or shut down.

            Also, I’d bet $100 that, if Wedding Partner gets away with this, then two years from now the summer students will be babysitting as part of their jobs.

            1. Anon for this*

              I don’t think it would be considered stealing as summer associate work isn’t billed out to clients. This is really a know your firm thing. If there is a partner the admin trusts, I’d Reach out to them. But if this particular partner feels free to threaten summer associates, it’s not a good sign.

              1. Anon for this*

                Just wanted to note that as a former law firm attorney and now a client, I would be pissed if law firms charged me for summer associate research. They need to cover the costs of training their own people and especially their summer associates. So the main problems here seem to be a bad experience (training is negligible during these summers) and being exposed to a toxic workplace and learning to just tolerate it moving forward, like a lot of us do.

      8. Academic librarian*

        I am with Another Sarah,
        It is up to the intern to say something about the work assignment. Keep your head down if you want to remain in this position.

    6. LadyByTheLake*

      At a large firm there are going to be attorneys who run the summer associate program. Find a way to mention to one of them that summer associates are being asked to do wedding planning. Don’t share it in a tattling way, just in a confused way.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        And to everyone above to says to tell the schools, in the US that isn’t how it works. I’m with Another Sarah on this.

    7. Sunflower*

      Talk to the person who is coordinating the program- it’s most likely someone in recruiting or learning/development. I used to work in BigLaw and I know the summer associates are in discussion groups and they all talk among schools and places about their experiences. Most firms spend the summer trying to dazzle the associates and impress them so this is a huge no-no moreso than any other ‘intern’ program. This will come out and people will find out. I’d be surprised if people didn’t already know.

      If you are worried, I’d talk(in person, not email- no trail) to the coordinator and just say you should check in on what X associate’s workload is looking like. I’m not sure if they do check-ins with the associates as the summer goes on but this would be a good excuse to.

      1. JDoe*

        Thank you for replying. I know she has instructed the students to lie if they are asked what they are doing and I know she is work friends with the person who coordinates the students and they might be friends outside of work too, so I am reluctant to say anything. You have given me things to consider so thank you for that.

        1. Another JD*

          Few 1Ls in this situation would throw the partner under the bus. How many interns does she have doing her wedding planning? I think if there are enough of them, they can get together and push back. Do they rotate partners, or just work for her?

        2. Not Me*

          Can you talk to HR? While it’s true that partners only “report” to the managing partner, there is plenty HR should be able to do about this.

          Not only is it a huge waste of time and money, it’s also horrible for your firms reputation. I imagine your recruiting committee would be very unhappy if they found out about this.

        3. ShysterB*

          Ugh. It sucks that you can’t count on the coordinator for the summer program. I’m a partner at an AmLaw 100 firm, and yeah, this is ridiculous. The summer program coordinator should shut this down — Summer associates are surveyed at multiple levels after-the-fact for feedback on summer programs (by the firm itself, by their schools, by American Lawyer, by NALP), and this is the sort of thing I could see showing up in those surveys, or on Above the Law.

          Are any of the summer associates dragooned into wedding planning ones that your Diversity Committee is eager to recruit? If so, that MIGHT be a way to start some examination — the chairs of my firm’s diversity committee really go out of their way to foster relationships with diverse summer associates and set themselves up as approachable about issues/concerns that the diverse summer associates might be reluctant to raise with the summer program chairs. Our diversity partners would be VERY displeased to find out that recruits they are targeting are wasting time on something like this.

    8. Stella70*

      To me, this is a finite problem. These are summer students, not permanent employees, and she is having them do the initial research on her wedding, which is a one-off event. It is very unfair in all regards, but I cannot see what will be made equitable if you attempt to intervene (notice I didn’t say “what you would gain” because I know you aren’t trying to benefit from blowing the whistle). There are times in your career where your choice about speaking up or not will be very clear to you and the benefits will outweigh the risks you will take, but I don’t think this is that time. The students are not gaining anything this summer, which is a shame, but hopefully being able to say they interned at one of the biggest firms in the country will negate that loss. Your boss is a partner and the assumption she can delegate as she chooses is inherent to her position. If you truly think speaking out would not create change, and she is likely to threaten you if you do so, and your job is paramount, then I feel you already know the answer.
      Perhaps you could offer to assist the students during any downtime you have, so their wedding tasks are completed more quickly and they can actually do legal work before the summer is over? I don’t know how many students you are referring to, but surely it wouldn’t take the entire summer (at some point, she will need to take over to make decisions).
      Good luck!

      1. Chip Hackman*

        For big law firms, these summer associate programs are extremely important for the students. Many students from T14 schools receive an offer at the end of the summer they worked there and then begin actually working there after graduation. Students may have gone in to this thinking that this was going to be their permanent job after graduation as long as they didn’t completely mess it up. If this is all they do this summer, that can greatly impact their futures. I think OP should go to HR if the partner in question is buddies with the summer coordinator or go to another partner to discuss it.

      2. T*

        Big law firms are different 1Ls are important and most firms wooo the best ones. My spouse worked at a big fancy law firm and one year there was a problem at an event with the 1Ls. I won’t get into it but it wasn’t good and the other partners shut that down, people were demoted or fired, etc. This partner should know better. I would contact the school on the DL, HR and any other partners who are more senior than your partner. Are you friendly with any other more senior partner assistants? I think the 1Ls should also let it be known and it probably is already known by other law students. This makes your partner and your law firm look bad, but this doesn’t even come close to what my husband’s firm had happen. They made it right and do should your firm.

    9. Booksalot*

      Ask on Corporette. They skew heavily law, and may have dealt with something similar before.

    10. CTT*

      Find out who coordinates the summer program (if you’re a big firm it’s probably head of recruitment? We just have someone we refer to as a the work czar at my firm since we’re relatively smaller) and tell them ASAP. They can either make it stop or at least get other lawyers to give this summer work so she can legit say she has other work to do.

    11. SpellingBee*

      If it’s a big firm you will have an HR department, so I’d take it to them. They’ll have the standing (presumably) to elevate it to the committee or person running the summer intern program, to put a stop to this. Partners in Big Law wield considerable power, but there are quite a few layers above and around them, so they’re not immune to being reined in.

      If you’re afraid you’ll jeopardize your job by saying something that’s certainly a consideration, but you’d be doing the students a favor if you can flag this for them. It’s inappropriate, and is cheating the summers of the experience that they should be getting.

    12. Llamalawyer*

      Wow, that is crazy and so wrong . If you’re a large law firm, there was be some sort of compliance or ethics person. The students are likely getting paid a hefty salary, so this is theft. She is stealing a corporate resource to do her own personal wedding planning. Also, there is usually a summer associate committee or individual in charge of the program. He or she would want to know about this.

      1. Busy*

        I second some sort of whistle blowing if the firm has it. But YIKES, what a thing to be forcing people new to the work world to do. I can’t imagine anything more selfish.

    13. NopeNopeLeNope*

      Law school staffer here – please, do tell the schools’ career development department on the DL. The schools have relationships with these firms that they are very proud of and this could do the school some serious damage if they are touting “our students become summer associates and are getting real world experience at BigFirm” and then it leaks out that the students were doing wedding planning.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, even though the school has no authority in this situation, they can provide this info to their graduates (though, the 1L’s should be passing that feedback to the school)

      2. Ginevra Farnshawe*

        Lawyer (formerly fancy biglaw) here agreeing that letting law school career services know is actually a pretty effective way to get change accomplished in firms, IF it’s a fancy law school—I’ve done it. Firms are prestige-obsessed and top-ranked schools have A LOT of leverage. (It’s unfair and silly, but just taking practicalities.) Generally I’d say it would be much more effective coming from a summer themself (and it’ll get back to school admin anyway) or an alum who works at the firm but this is so bonkers out-of-line that a confidential tip-off might work too. Are you admin for anyone else or just this winner? And is she pulling these shenanigans with 2L summers or just 1Ls?

        1. Ginevra Farnshawe*

          Other followup qs, are student recruiting lead and summer coordinator same person? At a big firm, usually not—latter is an typically attorney, not in recruiting. Is this partner a legitimate big shot or a service partner? (Possible to get this shut the eff down in either case, but the approach differs.)

          1. Anonymousse*

            Yep yep yep. This is the best advice I’ve seen so far. It seriously depends on whether the partner is a rainmaker/Big Deal or not. And definitely report this to the school. If the student in question is a 1L then chances are that they won’t be interested in returning in the first place for their 2L summer but this is a seriously crappy thing to do to a 2L summer because 3L OCI/EIW market is tough even for T14 students. My sympathies and rage is with the student as the last you’d want is to have the choice of either doing s***-work or risk being blacklisted by the legal market if the partner in question is really as powerful as you say OP.

        2. JDoe*

          They are different people so that’s something for me to consider. I appreciate your reply. Thank you. I only work for her and no one else. She is only doing this with 1L students, both men and women and she has them doing only wedding stuff and nothing else.

          1. Crystal*

            Don’t the 1Ls have to produce content? She asks them to lie, okay but what about tangible work product, don’t that have to have that at some point? You need to anonymously report this to people if you feel at all comfortable doing that because it is screwing over these students.

          2. Ginevra Farnshawe*

            If she is targeting 1L s she is a dum-dum as well as a megalomaniac. A 1L biglaw summer from a hotshot school has more leverage than they probably will for the next fifteen years–they don’t have to worry about getting an offer, because they’ll get that from wherever they summer 2L year, and they can torpedo a recruiting relationship. If/when summers mention this stuff to you it might be worth raising an eyebrow and saying “Really? That’s a new one. Have you mentioned it to recruiting?” so that they know it’s not normal, but I bet they do already. They’re all excited because they just learned about issue-spotting too, and they’ll spot this one.

            I’d bet this will out itself with or without you, and I am not one to normally have faith in firm governance. They’ll probably prevent her from working with summers in the future–this is pretty common. Might take two years of nonsense rather than one.

            I’d see if there are policies and procedures about non-attorneys reporting potential attorney ethics violation and follow those if they exist (see my comment at 1:38 below). But if there aren’t any explicitly stated ones, while it’s totally within reason to go to HR or recruiting (thinking of it now, less a fan of you going to the school yourself–effective, but unnecessary risk), this one is not uniquely on your shoulders and you should do what you think is best for your own personal situation/sanity. (I will say, sometimes if you get a real twerp knocked down a peg you become a folk hero and have some protection and actually improved prospects, but it’s a big risk.)

            Out of curiosity–is this person a litigator? I am guessing not, but testing my instincts.

          3. MeepMeep*

            Can the 1L students go to a different partner and ask for different work? When I was a 2L intern at a big firm, that’s exactly what I did; rather than wait for the assigning associate to give me something, I just knocked on a partner’s door and asked for work. I got much more interesting assignments that way and got an offer at the end of my summer.

            It may be worthwhile suggesting it to the interns working for that person.

          4. Auntie Social*

            Could the law school dean happen to “drop by unannounced” to see what his 1L’s are working on??? ;-)

    14. Mama Bear*

      Our interns are basically pre-hires as well. Though a different type of company, our HR would probably be very interested to know that an intern was planning a wedding instead of designing teapots, and it would also be detrimental to the intern later if s/he were hired under the assumption that s/he had greater experience with teapots than actually occurred. While I get that she’s pretty high up, I would either mention it to the coordinator or encourage the 1L to do so. I hazard to guess that lack of real experience/portfolio this summer is going to bite them later and they need to put an end to it sooner rather than later. If she’s balking at real work, then she’s not being a proper mentor.

    15. Rose Tyler*

      At a firm as large as yours there should be an anonymous ethics compliant hotline run by a third-party provider, not internal personnel. That is where I would start. I would not pin my name to it by going directly to the summer associate coordinator or (!!!) the managing partner.

      1. ShysterB*

        Oooh, that makes me wonder — is this something the Office of General Counsel at the firm would take interest in?

        1. CM*

          No, because it’s not a liability issue for the firm. It’s a reputation issue where the schools are involved — if it’s a prestigious school that the firm wants to recruit from, this is a bad look for the firm.

          JDoe, I hate to say this but I’d stay out of it. The offending partner is your boss; the person managing the summer program is her buddy; the students aren’t saying anything. All those people have more power than you, and you know biglaw is incredibly hierarchical.

          The students will eventually spill this to their law school’s career services, and then there is likely to be blowback without you getting involved. Unless you feel very strongly about this and feel secure in your job, I think you’d be taking a big risk by saying anything.

          1. Not Me*

            Of course the OGC would care if summer associates are being asked to lie by a partner. What other unethical things is this partner doing? It opens a huge can of worms that the OGC would care about.

        2. Ginevra Farnshawe*

          It absolutely is. A lawyer telling their subordinates to *lie* about what they’re working on, especially if they’re told to lie and say they’re doing client work, is probably a sanctionable violation of the applicable Code of Professional Responsibility. I’d guess that if another partner learned about it they’d have partnership obligations to report it to the OGC or whatever risk management committee. Whether anything then *happens* is a different question. Not legal advice just informed speculation based on fact set presented.

          This one really ticks me off.

    16. Law Student*

      Wow! I’m a current law student and working at my 1L internship (not at a firm). I’m going to be interviewing shortly for big firms for next summer, and this strikes me as wildly inappropriate.

      All that said, I’d expect the 1Ls to advocate for themselves in this situation. If I were in this position, I’d probably call my career adviser to get advice on how to handle the situation. Not expecting that they would fix it for me, but expecting that they’d be able to help me manage it. I have seen that some of my classmates are very reluctant to self-advocate, so I’m not entirely surprised that the students are going along with it. At this point, I wouldn’t be considering returning to this firm for 2L, let alone wanting to work with this partner in the long term, so while they have to be professional and polite, I think there’s room for the students to figure out a way to tactfully push back on this. (And while I wouldn’t have the expectation that they could fix it for me, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if they could pull some behind-the-scene strings). (Also, it seems like most of the firms assign summer associates a mentor; I’d also be asking for their advice).

      I saw that the partner told the students to LIE about what they’re doing — that’s insane. Frankly, this is the kind of thing that would make it onto Above the Law and could really damage the firm’s reputation in that market. I’m lucky to be at a top school and firms care about their reputations with the schools and the students. I think, as a student, my career adviser would help me discreetly raise this to someone who would go OH HELL NO and tactfully shut it down. I mean, having the students work on personal stuff and lie about it at the insanely high rates they’re paid seems like it may actually verge over into something more serious, although I don’t know enough to say what. (Are they filling out fake billables? Or does she want them to say they’re doing training/development stuff or pro bono or what?? What the heck.)

      As an assistant, I wouldn’t expect you to risk damaging your relationship with the partner since she sounds vindictive. Depending on what you’re comfortable with, maybe you could take the students aside and mention to them that this is not normal and that they might consider reaching out to their school for advice. I would be worried about reaching out to the school directly impacting your career negatively but you’re in the best position to judge that. If you decide to keep your head down I think it’s justifiable; the students will probably just go to a different firm next year and they’ll be fine. At the end of the day they’re adults and should be able to figure this out themselves (even if that means making the decision to just go along with it).

      1. Marie*

        This is the best answer so far! Part of growing up is advocating for yourself. It is also important to learn when to advocate for others. The word “advocate”—love it—isn’t it connected in meaning to lawyer? In this context I do believe the responsibility for reporting (and bearing the possible gains and losses from such is the responsibility of the interns.

        1. Marie*

          At the same time, I personally would have a difficult time staying quiet about this; I think the suggestions for reporting are helpful. The letter writer best knows the work place (options) and can weigh all these suggestions as to which would be most effective.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        This has been an interesting discussion. After some consideration, I think OP should probably set this one out and let the 1l interns handle this one. Because I guarantee it will come out, if not now, by the end of summer.

        While this sounds disturbing, it will be OP who pays the price for speaking up and honestly the pushback to planning the partner’s wedding needs to come from them, not the OP.

    17. Tigger*

      Please tell someone! This is so not right. 1L summer students are there to learn law not do random tasks. I am surprised your firm is in the dark about this. My dad is an attorney and he was a mentor in his firm’s summer program and they had very strict rules about what the 1L summer students could do. I remember having to go to work with him one day when I was 8 or 9 and my dad getting a firm talking to by the head of staff that he stepped out of his office for a second and left me and the student alone because of the optics (I was so engrossed in my pokemon game I had no idea my dad left)

    18. Public Sector Manager*

      First off, to give folks an idea of what summer associates are making, these law students are, depending on Biglaw location, getting around $2,500-$3,500 per week for their summer labor. These are not college kids making barely over minimum wage. What the partner is doing sucks, but these summer associates are being highly compensated for their summer work. It’s their fight to fight, and according to the OP, only one summer associate pushed back.

      Second, for the OP, I would leave it to the summer associates to take this one up, either with the firm or to report the information back to the school (which may make a difference for future on-campus interviews). I absolutely applaud you for looking out for the summer associates, but as you well know, Biglaw is a cutthroat business. I wouldn’t recommend that you take on this fight.

      1. Anonymouse for this*

        +1 – it’s great that you want to look out for the students but at the end of summer they’ll go back to school and you are going to be the one left working for the partner. I wouldn’t jeopardize my job for this which sounds like it’s a possibility given how you describe the partner.
        Also I can’t imagine that the students do not know what at least some of their options are – talk to another partner, talk to whoever arranged this summer associate work for them – they are choosing not to do that.

  2. Eillah*

    Need a space to vent— why is there such a wide skill gap between admins, even at the same company??? I’m a senior administrator at my new job, and the quality of coworkers is just weird. Some are amazing and I’d trust them with my life, and some can’t even spell their own bosses’ names correctly. I know this must be true of a lot of jobs but why is it that sh*tty admins are able to make it to high positions?? Super annoying when you have to rely on the skills of an unskilled, unintelligent, low-quality coworker. Ugh.

    1. DaniCalifornia*

      I’ve experienced this. It’s very frustrating! I like learning all I can and have always encountered others who are unwilling to go beyond the basic job functions that will keep them from getting fired.

      1. Eillah*

        And maybe this is my english degree coming out but….admins need to be really good communicators. Why would you hire someone with bad writing and spelling for a job that hinges partly on effective written communication?? Makes no sense.

        1. Busy*

          I dunno. For my own sanity, I always just say to myself “Well, maybe they have other skills I don’t get to see that are then valued.” Cuz crappy people get in the cracks like dirt, but they must have some value even if that value is that their manager doesn’t feel like going through the process of firing.

          I will say in my experience, you will not see a lot of this in well-functioning companies. You will see a lot more of those eye-rolly type behaviors (like playing music too loud or being a little too excited about free food), but not full level incompetence. I would use that as a gauge on this company and proceed as your see fit.

    2. Rey*

      I think this might be caused by hiring practices. Some places/supervisors start out thinking “I can train anyone to answer phones/emails, take minutes, etc.” and so they don’t have concrete criteria during the hiring process, or the hire the first not-terrible candidate instead of holding out for a candidate who has experience and glowing references.

      It can also be caused by the supervisors not tuning into the quality of the admin work and doing the training necessary once the admin is hired. They might feel like it’s not their responsibility, but it can sometimes give admins too much leeway (which works well for good employees and quickly backfires for bad employees).

      1. Ama*

        Yes — in my experience (as both an admin and now, as a person who hires admins) if the hiring manager has no admin experience themselves, they often don’t really know what to look for and tend to undervalue how much critical thinking is required in a busy admin job. Especially if they previously lucked into a stellar admin who was just good at multitasking and prioritizing without much training, they think *all* admins can just figure that stuff out on their own and don’t bother to screen for that in interviews — and many, as you mention don’t know how to help an admin who isn’t good at those things and end up working around their weaknesses.

        And although this is *rarely* the case, I did know a boss who intentionally kept a not so great admin around because they were exploiting the admin’s lack of attention to detail in order to misuse company funds, because the admin signed off on expense reports without double checking whether the expenses had previously been submitted. (The boss was later caught and fired but not until they had pocketed quite a bit of money.)

      2. Amethystmoon*

        Sometimes, it can be caused by managers wanting to be too nice to applicants, especially if there aren’t very many applications for a particular job. I’ve told stories about my previous co-worker who went through the same training I did and kept asking questions that were already documented, and the documentation & applicable screen shots were sent to him multiple times with sections highlighted, even 2 1/2 years later.

      3. The Rat-Catcher*

        I agree with this. Managers hire for “generally cheerful, maybe has experience in an office, okay with tedious tasks.” What they don’t hire for but should: Comfortable troubleshooting every piece of equipment in the office, people-savvy enough to know where to go when that thing urgently needs a signature on Friday afternoon, adaptable, and some kind of forecasting to know what’s needed before it’s needed.

    3. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      In the case of my team, it’s a supervisor who is burned out and marking time until retirement. No one gets feedback, excellence isn’t rewarded, adequacy is tolerated, and the result is that the excellent folks have to turn off that part of their personalities to preserve their sanity.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Gee, I don’t know. Except for budgeting, I’m very skilled and I can’t even get a sh*t admin job.

        1. Ella P.*

          Being an admin in NYC is the best… now in Philly…………..

          Sorry, I guess I need to vent as well… here they think admins are for making cupcake flags and setting up catering… it’s tough… and I work with a number of coworkers who will complain for days about transcribing minutes… all while I’ve run circles around them and often have to do the work they don’t have the skills to do (in Excel and PPT).

          OK I really didn’t MEAN to vent here, starting my job search today and can relate to your post… I don’t get it… and I am really missing New York.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I hope this week’s commenter whose boss makes her wear her clothes sees this.

    5. Art3mis*

      As a former admin I think it’s because the person they support likes them so as they move up, so does their admin. I’ve known quite a few to follow their bosses to new roles/departments/companies. Most were good at what they did, I couldn’t explain the others though.

      1. Eillah*

        I think it’s partly that and partly people not valuing admins and thus not caring all that much who ends up filling the role.

        1. Jerk Store*

          As an admin, I think it can hurt when the supervisor has never been an admin or even in Operations and don’t have a way to measure what is the difference between admin skills. When I have gone on interviews, I get asked if I have skills in Outlook, Excel, Word, etc. I do, but I have rarely been tested in the interview process. So someone can say on their resume that they have a lot of skills in Outlook on their resume, and once they get hired you are showing them how to pull up a group calendar 3 times a week.

          1. MoopySwarpet*

            I’ve been bitten by not testing for this particular lie. Fortunately for us, we were able to shuffle the minimal need for certain skills to better equipped employees. Unfortunately for the hire, the “room for advancement” evaporated.

            We had a temp employee (along the lines of an intern) who was tasked with creating a massive spreadsheet for projections of usage by customer. He would literally use his calculator on the computer (by clicking the numbers with the mouse!!) and then enter those on the required line on the spreadsheet. :headdesk:

        2. Ella P.*

          Yes, I’ve seen that too. They don’t expect much and therefore tolerate all kinds of nonsense. I guess it may be there experience with other admins that ‘teaches’ them this?

      2. A tester, not a developer*

        +1. I’ve known admins that moved up with ‘their’ execs, and often the things that are valued are not what you’d immediately think of – it could be something like not being easily intimidated , and thus ‘protecting’ their exec from being hassled, or they tolerate certain personality quirks, or they’ve been with the exec long enough that they know what that person wants/needs for a lot of routine stuff.

        1. Jerk Store*

          This is true. Also building relationships – I worked with an admin who had been there forever and could be overly confrontational with people but she knew everything about all of our clients and everyone loved her.

        2. Horses for courses*

          +1+1. A good admin is a partner. There is something the admin brings to the table that the exec values. Or the admin has the same weaknesses as the exec, and just like the exec is not held accountable for those weakness, neither is the admin.

      3. Jill March*

        This has been my experience. In one particular case, the admin was missing a lot of technical and soft skills expected for an executive admin, but was fiercely loyal to their executive. This is what the exec valued most, so as the exec moved up, they kept their admin with them.

        Ultimately, it was a disservice to the admin. The exec ended up getting fired for suspected embezzlement (long story–and really explains the high value on loyalty), and the admin was out of a high-paying job without the skills necessary to find anything near the same pay range. Other than naivety, the admin (who was a lovely person) had no involvement in the shadiness with missing funds, so they really were SOL.

      4. BethDH*

        Also if they’ve never had a good admin (or worked closely with someone else’s), they may not know what is reasonable to expect. Admins can have quite a lot of experience and specialized skillsets, but a lot of people never get out of the habit of thinking of it as non-specialist or even entry level and set the standards (and often the pay) too low.

        1. KR*

          This! And also if the manager or company is used to good admins who just handle everything for them, then when they’re hiring they don’t know what to screen for because their admin usually just… Handles … Everything

    6. Polymer Phil*

      I think it’s because every job under the sun requires a 4-year degree today, so the smarter people who would have gotten promoted from admin jobs in the past get stuck there now regardless of ability. I’ve had some older co-workers who started as secretaries (no one called them admins in the old days) and moved into higher-level positions, and this pretty much never happens anymore.

      1. Hepzibah Pflurge*

        Please don’t perpetuate the fallacy that “smarter people” get promoted from admin jobs. Just…don’t.

        1. Just my thoughts*

          Thinking generously, I’m imagining Phil means that women and others who would have been stuck entering the workforce as entry-level secretaries (and often remaining there) are now able take other kinds of entry-level jobs if they want them, or move to people-managing roles.

          But nowadays each role is more specialized and workers change companies more often than they move laterally within a company, so it’s harder for people who do join as entry-level admins to get promoted to more complex work–there are fewer non-entry-level admin jobs and the higher level tasks are not considered admin work (or people don’t think an admin can do it) so there’s nowhere for bright, ambitious admins to go.

    7. NothingIsLittle*

      Apparently, good admins are hard to find and the best ones aren’t often looking to stay admins. The admins just good enough to squeak by end up accruing the most seniority and sometimes that’s enough for a promotion.

    8. Emily K*

      My first guesses are:

      – High-level admins aren’t being paid enough to attract the best candidates, who can easily make a LOT of money as an executive assistant to a C-suite if they’re great at what they do, so they’re hiring people with little to no experience into high-level positions because they’re the ones who will accept the pay rate.

      – The bosses suck at hiring.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Hiring managers who don’t care or don’t vet well enough causes this to happen.

      In some positions that are seen as “low rung” in their eyes they think anyone and everyone can do the job, so they just hire whomever they like in the interview stage. Then you’re left to work with absolute dunces in some cases.

      It’s a management thing, it’s the core of the problem. They don’t care or the fact that admins like yourself are picking up the slack, so they just say “Admins are great, everyone is fine.”

    10. Michael Valentine*

      I’m often amazed at the range of skill sets for folks with the same admin job title. I work with admins at other companies all the time, and some are so incompetent I’m wondering how they aren’t fired immediately! The ones at my current company are great (full disclosure: I’m one of them!), but we’ve put up with mediocre teammates in the past because finding even a half-way decent assistant can be so challenging that we’ll do our best to bring folks up to speed.

      We did have to ask our leadership to stop recommending family members for these positions. They’d assume these are just entry level jobs anyone can do. While a couple of us got into the field by chance and caught on fast (full disclosure: I’m one of them!), we really need folks with demonstrated experience managing all this stuff.

    11. min*

      I agree with the others who have mentioned the hiring practices. So many people think that anyone can do an admin job and don’t recognize it as a skilled position so they don’t hire with any care or respect.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      My thought is when a bad employee stays in place and then moves to higher positions that has very little to do with the employee and a lot to do with the boss(es) involved.

      On rare occasion it can be that one might think an employee needs to do x,y and z. But the job does not require that skill/ability. So there is that rare time where something is expected of an employee that is beyond the scope of their job. In this case though, usually the employee or boss will point out, “Jane is not authorized to do X.” And that ends that confusion.

    13. Leela*

      My guess, but couldn’t say for sure:

      Business just don’t take admin seriously. Admin is important, and people can be very skilled, strategic admins. But companies don’t invest well in admin usually, resulting low retention. I saw the same thing in HR unfortunately. You really want good HR, but if you devalue them to the extent that many companies do, good ones leave over and over and they wind up taking whoever.

    14. Lumen*

      Partly because it is thought of culturally as a low skilled, low credentialed, low paying, low status job. It shouldn’t be, and doing it effectively requires a lot. But a lot of people applying don’t know that – they’ve been told that a turtle with a pleasant phone voice can do the job. And a lot of people posting the job and hiring for it don’t know that, either.

    15. AccountantWendy*

      As a former admin that misspelled my OWN name due to severe overwork and exhaustion – sometimes it’s shitty management not actually investing the time or training or providing the tools admins need to be good at their jobs well or even just giving clear and consistent feedback and guidance.

    16. paperpusher*

      An admin who works with me says that the way to move up is to be useless. He’s cynical but there’s a grain of truth in it. This is the public sector so the best way to get rid of a useless admin is to promote them to a role that no one really values. I know of a business analysis officer who is a prime example of this – he couldn’t handle financial stuff so he’s now in a “big picture” role. He may not do anything, but at least things aren’t going in with the wrong general ledger code.

      What we also see with our less competent admins is that they’re given less detail-oriented work which is sometimes higher profile, while the best people are bogged down with the invisible stuff. For example, the incompetent admin here is currently selecting photos representing our corporate history to hang on the walls, because no one trusts him with their travel claims.

      1. Michael Valentine*

        I hear truth in this. I’ve been in the midst of negotiating a role shift, and my excellence in assisting is actually holding me back because the folks I support don’t want to let me go.

    17. Former Retail Manager*

      My best guess would be that they made it that far because 1) they didn’t quit and 2) they may have institutional knowledge that helps them to get things done and maybe 3) they know the right people

      At my org, it’s mostly #1. Our admins aren’t paid very well and there is virtually no room for advancement so at some point, a warm body who does half ass work is better than nobody at all.

    18. Nessun*

      Oh dear Lord, I’ve no idea. I absolutely understand and sympathize, but the only reason I’ve ever found is twofold: some people are better at others at playing politics (can’t fire me because X, even though it’s a BS use of X), or some high-level staff don’t know what good admin work looks like, so they’ve no idea what expectations to have/enforce/etc.

    19. Windward*

      I’ve felt that way about staff/mgmt at all levels at times. Treating people with respect goes a long way toward willing cooperation & toward learning about individual skill sets you may not anticipate, which is not to say people will magically acquire the skills you want at the moment.

      I watched an admin asst manage two depts in a row, without standard English (born & raised in the US, high school graduate) & at a meager salary. The second Dept head went to bat for a raise for her, & the job was recategorized when HR finally understood what she was doing for the organization. It’s been fun to watch her excel with managers who could see past the non standard (but very expressive) English.

    20. Jen*

      My perspective as a person who worked for almost a decade in a couple of positions with an admin. asst. or secretary title, and whose current position has many similar duties:

      I found myself constantly amazed that what I thought was a *competent* job at my work was often perceived by others as *extraordinary*. It would have been really, really easy to do a much worse job and still be perceived as someone who was good enough at her job not to fire her. I have witnessed this. From the inside, working in a position where everyone had basically the same responsibilities, it was incredibly easy to tell who was hitting it out of the ballpark (that is, doing a competent job) and who was barely doing anything but skating by anyway. Nothing meaningful was ever done. Talking to others over the years, I don’t think this is as unusual as it felt at the time. In a different position I again did what I thought was a pretty good job, but nothing extraordinary. I did all my tasks in a timely and efficient manner, and kept information and paperwork properly organized. I was treated like the freaking second coming.

      So in short, I think that standards in many places are extraordinarily low in terms of expectations. I think that a lot of people could probably be working a lot faster and making fewer mistakes, but it’s easier to not put in that much effort and work a little slower and make more mistakes. But not so much that they’re fired. *I* could have put in more effort at the jobs where people thought I was the best thing since sliced bread, and I always felt kind of awkward taking the compliments about how I was doing my job because I never felt like I was doing more than what any decent employee would do.

      Low expectations from management mean that some people will just be skating by, and some will be putting in effort, resulting in a big difference to the people they are supporting with their work.

      1. Sophia Brooks*

        I have had this experience, too. People still regularly think I am a genius for using things like mail merge. I just try my hardest to NEVER retype something, because I make errors all the time because I am not detail oriented and I abhor repetitive tasks I wish, frankly, I had been able to just make more money moving up in admin jobs (although I am a University employee, so there is more variety in what we do- I did a lot of admissions and building online coursework). Instead I moved up and am an Instructional Designer, but I think I was much better and worth more just making sure everything was running smoothly!

        I think part of the reason this is happening is that there are so many more career options open to women and women know about it. I was a first generation college student in the 90s, I studied theatre and English, and when I decided I wasn’t going to make it in theatre, admin was the only thing I could think of to do. I didn’t know I could be in PR or recruitment or admissions or registration until I started working at a university. There are actually four theatre majors turned admins in my building and though two of us moved on, we were all really good and people thought we were geniuses!

    21. Melissa*

      In my organization, it’s because the admin jobs are filled in two ways. First, the promotion of skilled staff who want the admin role, and second, the results of incompetent staff being bounced from other civil service departments…

    22. CheeseNurse*

      If you don’t value admin assistants and don’t understand the skills required to be a good admin assistant how could you possibly hire someone who will be great at the job? And someone who doesn’t value admin assistants is certainly not going to compensate them at a rate that will attract high performers, and they probably will not treat them with respect. That goes for any job, but quite a few people assume being an admin assistant is easy and that any idiot can do it.

  3. Peaches*

    So I’ve written in several times over the past month regarding my coworker who I helped train (various sagas include: Coworker begging to use my personal iPad, using my computer equipment and not returning it, not following directions and thus massively screwing up a large project, being kicked out of a corporate training for being controversial and rude, insisting that she get IT’s contact information to help them “fix” our website, despite having no IT experience, and her position not being IT-related, etc.)

    Anyway, I mentioned about a month ago that our branch manager had sent out an email saying he was letting this coworker go, but she would be staying on until we found someone new. After he sent that email, I had a discussion with him about how it would be difficult for me to have time to train the new coworker this time around, now that my new job has picked up tremendously. He totally understood, and said that he would plan on the new person would be trained 100% by designated trainers at our corporate office (which is driving distance from our office).
    Well, the new person started on Wednesday of this week. I thought this meant my old coworker would be gone, yet…she’s still here. Not only that, but she has (what I believe is taking it upon herself) to train the new coworker. I would love to clarify with our branch manager (her manager) why this is happening, but he’s on vacation this week. I just can’t think of a reason why our new employee is being trained by our old employee, who has already been let go (again, not sure why she is still here at all now that the new person has started). Considering all the performance and personnel issues she had in this role, I think it’s a terrible idea to have her train the new employee. Not to mention, the branch manager made it clear to me that she was going to be trained via corporate.

    Coincidentally, one of the employees (Bob) at our office’s wife is a trainer at our corporate office. Bob told me that his wife gave the new employee two weeks’ worth of online training, and then she would be going to our corporate office for a week for in-person training. That further solidifies to me the idea that Old Coworker is deliberately taking it upon herself to train New Coworker, despite being given no direction to do so. Old Coworker has literally made a bee line to New Coworker every day since she started, immediately saying “Okay, here’s what I have planned for you today”, and “I made such and such training document for you” (which, I can’t even imagine what that contains…as a poor performer, I wouldn’t trust any training documents she has made).

    Over the past couple of weeks, I overheard multiple conversations between Old Coworker and Branch Manager where he essentially said, “okay, when New Employee starts, that’s when we’ll be dismissing you.”
    I’m also really concerned Old Coworker will tarnish New Coworker’s view of this position and our company. I’ve already heard Old Coworker whispering to New Coworker several times in hushed tones, as well as (in a note so quiet voice) complained about the corporate trainers, about how antiquated our website is, and how X, Y, and Z processes need to be “fixed.”

    I don’t know what to do. To be honest, now that I don’t have any training responsibilities anymore, I could just say “not my problem” and move on. However, it still greatly bothers me, because I know if this person doesn’t work if, it will impact many of my coworkers’ jobs. Other employees have also questioned why Old Coworker is training New Coworker, and why Old Coworker is even still here at all at this point. Any advice?

    1. Eillah*

      Is asking her directly an option? Saying “hey, she’s supposed to be trained by corporate, no one has informed us that you will be doing this.”

      1. valentine*

        You’re free. Let it be. You’re bailing the ocean and can stop at any time. It was, is, and will be a management problem. Even if they walk the allegedly fired coworker out, new things will keep cropping up, due to lack of supervision, including Bob (don’t know if husband Bob is the same as previous), who’s refused to manage the nightmare person properly.

    2. GrumbleBunny*

      Yeah, I would definitely intervene here. This is weird.
      Can you reach out to the new hire’s grand-b0ss and express your concern?

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Unfortunately, there is no grandboss. We’re a super small office and the branch manager is the head honcho, so to speak.

      2. Peaches*

        Unfortunately, there is no grandboss. We’re a super small office and the branch manager is the head honcho, so to speak.

          1. Jadelyn*

            This – talk to the trainer directly and let her know that the training she assigned is being preempted by unofficial “training” from the person who was let go from that position.

            1. Mama Bear*

              Since the boss will be back on Monday, I’d write an email and say, “Just so you are aware, Old Coworker appears to be training New Coworker. I was under the impression that Old Coworker would no longer be working here, so can you please clarify the situation?” I’d put it in terms of “who do I task/go to in order to perform my job?” You might even dig up any email that boss sent referencing the new person’s training by trainers and reply to that.

    3. Jam Tomorrow*

      Tell new coworker to stop paying any attention and tell old coworker to knock it off.

      1. Peaches*

        My fear is that Old Coworker will insist that the Branch Manager told her to train New Coworker, since she knows I have no way to verify with him being out on vacation. From what I’ve seen from her, I wouldn’t put it past her (and would almost expect it, unfortunately.)

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          How long is Branch Manager out for? Could it be that a week’s damage is not great, but managable, but if it’s 2-3 weeks it’s worth going to Corporate HQ?

          1. Jan Levinson*

            He will be back on Monday – new coworker just started Wednesday. It probably won’t damage her knowledge base beyond repair (although it wouldn’t be great), but I’m more concerned about old coworker damaging new coworker’s view of the company.

              1. Busy*

                Hehe this makes me laugh.

                Anyway, just calmly wait until Monday or Tuesday. Say to the boss that you just wanted to make sure what you have been seeing is correct, because you have heard conflicting statements about it. Then let him clarify. Some of this is true concern, and some of it is (rightly) BEC territory. So not to focus on your BEC tendencies towards this (nightmare) coworker, just set it up as you just wanted to make sure and loop him in.

                1. tangerineRose*

                  I don’t think this is BEC territory. The leaving co-worker seems to have made just about every mistake possible, and I wouldn’t want that person training the new person either.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  Sounds like the candles are being burnt at both ends. Here’s hoping New Co-worker survives and thrives after the departure of Old Cow-orker (hyphenation intentional)!

            1. Jadelyn*

              3 days shouldn’t be too bad, when balanced against new coworker’s experiences with the company going forward from that. And who knows, new coworker may already be wary of old coworker’s whispered stories – I know I would be, if I started somewhere new and a single person was making such a point of *whispering* complaints to me.

              I actually had an experience once where my team had a toxic coworker we were stuck with. We hired another person who was working very closely with Ms Toxic, as in they had a shared office separate from the rest of us. About a month in, the new person came to me and one other member of the team and told us all the awful things Ms Toxic was saying about us, and actually said something along the lines of “I was avoiding you guys at first because of everything she’d said, but the more I worked with everyone the more I realized I wasn’t actually seeing any signs of the horrible stuff she was claiming about you guys, so I realized it had to be BS and wanted you to know what was being said about you.”

              So even if old coworker skews new coworker’s perceptions in these first few days, with time new coworker will probably realize that they’re not actually seeing evidence of the claims old coworker was making, and come to a similar conclusion.

              1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

                Agreed. When I first joined CompanyInc, I had a person who was training me say some really weird stuff about the software we were using and being trained on – a bespoke in-house developed/maintained CRM. It was so *hard* to understand and make work, and the trainer didn’t help that she would also complain about whether things were my fault or the system that I was routinely *crying* in the cubicles for the first six weeks. Fast forward six years and that trainer became someone I am worked with to implemenet the replacement sofware.
                Yes, the first six weeks have stuck with me, but the impression I got of the company as a whole was very different – otherwise Iwouldn/t have stuck it out

                1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

                  I also ended up with some mildly amusing stories from that initial training period – nowhere near as cool, or as funny (in retrospect this will be) as “OMG – The woman who was intially training me had actually been FIRED but refused to leave for three days!”

                2. Adlib*

                  As someone who formerly managed a CRM, “bespoke in-house developed/maintained” makes me twitch. Glad you got another solution!

            2. Amethystmoon*

              Well, it depends. If Old Co-worker is anything like my Old Co-worker, I’d seriously be concerned with what knowledge is being passed down, as my Old Co-worker would get confused about the easiest of tasks quite frequently.

    4. animaniactoo*

      So, to clarify, potentially OC may have actually been let go and doesn’t realize that and is still showing up? And is training the new hire?

      100% this is worth contacting the branch manager on vacation if for no other reason than that somebody needs to advise the new hire that she should not be accepting training exercises from OC.

      1. animaniactoo*

        That is – somebody whose authority the new hire will recognize needs to advise her of that. A good suggestion above to also reach out to grandboss if boss is unavailable on his vacation.

      2. Peaches*

        No, she definitely knows she has been let go. The branch manager let her know many weeks ago that he would be dismissing her when once we hired someone new. However, I think it’s possible she doesn’t realize that everyone ELSE in the office knows she has been dismissed, and thus wants to continue on like everything is hunky dory.

        I actually just emailed the branch manager for clarification, but I don’t think he’ll get back with me this week. He’s on a cruise and will be returning Monday.

        1. animaniactoo*

          Yeah, but let go could mean “2 weeks after she has started” not “the moment she walks in the door”.

          In the meantime, you might want to pull the new hire aside and say “I could be wrong about this and I haven’t said anything because I’ve been confused about it all week. But I don’t believe that OC is supposed to be training you and you may want to talk to the BM on Monday when he’s back in the office to clarify what your training setup is supposed to be.” and play off OC’s behavior as “I believe she thinks she’s being helpful to you and it’s unfortunate that BM is out on vacation just as you started so there hasn’t been an opportunity to doublecheck it.” The strong implication being that if BM had not been out on vacation, this would have been cleared up swiftly.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Best script I’ve seen yet. Direct and avoids triggering a rant from Old Cow-Orker.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Use it! It’s not original to me either. I’ve spent years crediting it to Dave Barry but when it came up this week, I couldn’t find that particular column online so no proof or provenance yet.

    5. Myrin*

      Oh my, Peaches, she’s just the coworker that keeps on giving, isn’t she?

      And I have to say – I totally, 100% see why this is getting to you, but reading through it the first time, I honestly had to laugh. Not because it’s funny, but because it’s just so bizarre. So she’s just… still there. And doing what she wants. I bet you that when branch manager returns, he’ll have to physically move her out of your office or she’ll just… stay.

      As for what to do – I feel like branch manager is really the only person who can authoritively do anything here. Is there someone who stands in for him when he’s away who can act on his behalf if you were to contact them?
      However, I forget – where are you in terms of seniority? I believe you would’ve been senior to Coworker even if she hadn’t been a newbie, right? If so, I personally might actually talk to her about it, and in a pretty straightforward manner, too – after all, she knows that you know all about her shortcomings. Stop her when she’s beelining for new coworker and ask her what the hell she’s thinking she’s doing? Or, hm. I’m honestly not sure. I’d love for you to go and have a talk with New Hire but I’m not sure how appropriate that would be and what even to say in such a situation. “Please ignore and forget everything Coworker has ever told you, she’s a trainwreck”?

      Also: Where are the corporate trainers? And where is literally everyone else? Surely branch manager didn’t just leave a void when he went on vacation? (And when will he be back anyway?)

      1. Peaches*

        It honestly is so bizarrre…that’s the word I keep coming back to, too!

        Unfortunately, there is not someone who stands in for him while he’s gone. We’re a super small office.

        In terms of seniority, I’m not necessarily senior to her – our roles are just unrelated (different positions with no overlapping responsibilities). However, I was responsible in helping train her, and the branch manager regularly has asked for my feedback on her since she started.

        I’m honestly not sure where the corporate trainers are. Our company is structured a bit odd; there are literally 4-5 trainers at our corporate office responsible to holding training seminars every day of the year for all new employees of all positions, at 32 nationwide branches. I think they are just spread too thin and probably cannot get her scheduled to come in person for a few weeks. Like I mentioned, I have heard that they gave the new coworker 2 weeks’ worth of training material (and then the following week will have her do in-person training).

        As far as my branch manager surely not leaving a void when he went on vacation…I honestly would not be surprised. He is fairly new (about 1 year here) and seems to be way in over his head most of the time. He often forgets meetings, is running later, spacing on something important, etc.

        1. tiasp*

          If you are employed there and she is fired/about to be fired, then I think you can act as if you are the one who has seniority.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Were you ever *told* that Old Co-Worker (OCW) was going to be dismissed?
      If yes — go to HR or your branch manager’s manager TODAY and confirm if OCW is still allwoed to be in the building.
      If no… at least get Bob to tell his wife that the new employee has been co-opted by someone with a different agenda.

      1. Peaches*

        Yes, everyone in our branch received an email from the branch manager a month ago explicitly stating that old coworker has been let go BUT would be staying on until we hired someone new (which we have now, obviously).

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think you need to be way more direct here as new coworker is essentially getting sabotaged by old coworker. If I found out the person that was ‘training’ me wasn’t supposed to be training me and worse yet, was fired for poor performance I’d be PISSED and it would make me seriously question how screwed up your organization is. Do new coworker a favor, go up them and tell them, “Hey, I’m not sure if anyone has told you but old coworker is on their way out so I’d take anything they told you with a grain of salt.” I personally would include they were being let go due to poor performance because I tend to be blunt and would want the new hire to know there is no reason they should be paying attention to this person. I’d also reach out to the corporate trainer and let them know what’s going on. This needs to get nipped in the bud like yesterday.

      1. Eillah*

        Yeah, this is an occasion where brief directness will pay off tremendously in the long run. I’d be pissed too if I found out I was trained by an incompetent lunatic and no one stepped in.

        1. Jadelyn*

          I mean…I can see why that’s a concern, but I’d also be worried that saying something like that would be viewed by the new person as some kind of weird political shenanigans. If you’re brand new to an organization, you have no frame of reference, so when Person A says “this place sucks” and Person B says “Person A sucks”, who the hell are you supposed to believe? How do you make that decision? I’d be worried it would come off as shit-stirring and at least for myself, it would make me even more wary of the entire place and everyone in it.

          1. Eillah*

            Is there a way to meet in the middle? Something like…. I dunno, “OC was let go due to performance issues, so please wait for your proper corporate training in order to fully understand procedures and expectations” ?

          2. Peaches*

            This is my exact fear! My preference would be to speak to the new coworker (or email her), just to inform her that old coworker was let go for performance issues and to be weary of her training (and offer to have the branch manager clarify as SOON as her returns!), but I don’t want to come across as a pot stirrer.

            1. Gumby*

              I wouldn’t do that. Telling her to use the official training rather than old coworker’s: fine. But “she was let go for performance reasons” is something that shouldn’t be widely shared even if it is widely understood.

              You avoid spreading that around not only for the sake of old coworker’s dignity, but also so new coworker doesn’t get the impression that confidential information is bandied about the office. I would be extremely taken aback to have someone share that type of gossip with me within a week of starting a new job.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I thinkthat you ned to contact whoever is above Branch Manager. Explain the information you were given by BRanch Manger, what you have witnessed and ask if they can resolve it. You may want to flag up that you would have concerns about old employee trianing the new person given her own poor performance.

      If your office culture makes it OK, then contact Branch Manager even though they are on vacation, but if not, go to their manager.

    9. CL Cox*

      Reach out to HR or the Corporate Training manager. Explain that you want to “clarify” what the plan is for New Hire’s first couple of weeks, since Boss is on vacation. Basically, come from a place of confusion, of “I want to make sure she’s not sitting around wasting her time or ours because no one gave her any tasks.” No mention of Old Hire or what you heard secondhand from the trainer, go straight to the source. Depending on what their answer is, you can then respond that Old Hire seems to think she’s training New Hire and you are concerned because of [specific wrong information or process you heard or saw Old Hire pass along]. It needs to be concrete, more than just “I think they’re gossiping” or “New Hire might get the wrong impression,” something like “she’s telling her to do X, the way we do it is Y, so she’s creating more work for herself or one of us when it has to be changed to X.”

      As for why she’s not left yet, they may have decided to give her two weeks notice once the New Hire started? It’s not really your business, so asking them anything about that should get shut down, if your HR is decent.

    10. CatCat*

      What. The. Actual. Hell!

      When Branch Manager is out, who are you supposed to go to if something urgent has come up? I’d go to that person with the following points!

      – Branch Manager told all of us that he fired Old Coworker and that her time at the company would end when New Coworker started.
      – New Coworker has started.
      – Old Coworker is still showing up.
      – Old Coworker claims to be training New Coworker, but it is incredibly bizarre because Old Coworker isn’t supposed to be here because she was fired because of her poor performance.
      – Old Coworker is badmouthing the company to New Coworker.

      Just OMG. I think the problem with saying “not my problem” is that this is sooooo strange that it may become your problem if you don’t speak up.

      1. East Coast Girl*

        I was coming to say ALL of this. I think OP could pretty much copy and paste your bullet points into an email, add in company-specific details, and send to HR or corporate training or someone, anyone(!) with authority to figure out what’s going on.

        If Old Coworker truly has been let go and is coming in of her own accord, she’s trespassing. She shouldn’t be in the office. She shouldn’t be training New Coworker. She shouldn’t have access to files or the network or company email or letterhead.

        I am really glad the OP clarified that they’ve emailed the manager. Even if manager doesn’t see the email until Monday, at least it will be known that OP wasn’t just sitting around not questioning the weirdness of all this.

    11. Not A Manager*

      I think your branch manager is bananapants. He’s the problem way more than Old Coworker.

      He fired this lady effective “sometime but not now,” he sent an all-office email about her personal business to everyone behind her back, maaaaybe she doesn’t know that everyone knows her business or maybe she does, AND he split town without ensuring that Old Coworker was actually fired and not sort-of-under-the-table fired.

      He sounds like a spineless train wreck.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Yeah, hiring someone when he was out under these circumstances was not the best idea. If not planning ahead is a constant problem then that is a concern in and of itself.

        1. UKCoffeeLover*

          What I meant to say was, I totally agree with Not a Manager, your boss has caused this problem.If you have grounds to let someone go aka fire them, you do it and they go. You don’t keep them around as that is really saying that they aren’t that terrible after all.
          And then he goes on holiday! He’s an awful boss!

          I feel so sorry for the new person stuck in the middle of this b*****s muddle! (A good old English phrase!)

    12. Jules the 3rd*

      It’s a week until the branch manager gets back. It’s unlikely OC will be able to do significant damage in that time. I think you can take a low-key approach to this.

      Take a little time to invite new coworker to lunch or something and just be normal / friendly. Don’t talk about old OC, do talk positively about IT / branch manager / anyone else you think OC is maligning. Just give a counter example for the short term. New C got training before OC got to her, corporate will be able to handle any questions. Anything else is going to be Drama, and give New C a worse impression.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      You’ve indicated that your boss is less than ideal.
      This is mostly his problem.
      1) He hired someone and then went on vacation. What is up with that. He could have the person start when he returned from vacation.
      2) Apparently someone is (or several are) assigned to this person to train them? But no one seems to be sure who so OC just jumps in? Or maybe the assigned person (people) do not intervene and let NC wander off with OC.

      3)Of everything here the least concerning is what OC is saying to NC. This all can be handled, such as telling NC, “Well OC was really upset about the website. That is not our job and not our concern. We have an IT department and they are handling it. For us to be overly worried about the website is really not an appropriate thing for us to get involved in.”

      I’d like to encourage you to allow others in this story to have their own learning experiences. If you fill in the boss’ gaps on this one you could set a precedent that leaves you feeling compelled to keep fixing his slip-ups.
      This is a slippery slope and this story can get worse.

      It’s almost 7 pm here, so I assume your workday is over and this whole thing will be addressed or not on Monday. However, I think that one thing I would have done is asked Bob if his wife is aware of what is going on here. To me, the problem with OC is a symptom of the actual problem which is, at best, a “reluctant boss”.

    14. Peaches*

      UPDATE (even though I’m not sure if anyone will see this!)

      The branch manager (new and old coworker’s boss) emailed me back early this morning (for those of you that didn’t see before, I emailed him Friday voicing my concerns about Old Coworker training New Coworker, clarifying whether this was his plan, etc.)

      He told me that he appreciated me voicing my concerns, and that he “had told New Coworker to take everything Old Coworker says with a grain of salt.” He also said Old Coworker is only still here to get New Coworker up to speed on any unfinished projects she’s working on, and that Wednesday will be her last day. Personally, I think this is a terrible idea. I have an inkling Old Coworker will be giving New Coworker at least some misinformation training wise. Additionally, we have trainers at corporate that ARE able to catch New Coworker up to speed on unfinished projects (even if they haven’t been working on these projects firsthand like Old Coworker, I know that they would be able to jump in and better train New Coworker than Old Coworker would!) He also reiterated that New Coworker will be going to corporate next week for extensive training.

      I agree with all of you that questioned why New Coworker would start while the Branch Manager was on vacation. Based on everything that happened with Old Coworker, Branch Manager definitely needed to provided some oversight in the office with New Coworker/Old Coworker interacting, yet he wasn’t even in the same country last week. I’m still of the opinion that there shouldn’t have been any overlap between Old Coworker and New Coworker in this role.

  4. AnonSister*

    In need of suggestions, please. A relative is the ED of an established community music school (not-for-profit). He’s thrilled the board approved funding to create a new position for a Development Manager, but he isn’t getting as many applicants as he’d hoped. His next step is to engage a recruiter.

    But I thought it was worth reaching out to the AAM community and its collective expertise. Does anyone know of job boards specifically serving not-for-profits/education/music that he might have missed? Or have other recommendations that might help him reach more applicants?

    Note: I don’t think location is limiting applicants. The school is just outside a major city in the northeastern US and is convenient to commuter rail and buses. I doubt salary is a factor either – at least not yet, since the post states only “commensurate with experience,” along with details outlining a decent benefits package. Nor are they looking for a unicorn; the position requires a Bachelor’s and at least three years experience in non-profit development, and prefers a background in music.

    Appreciate any suggestions, thanks!

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      The two online job boards that come immediately to mind are idealist-dot-org and workforgood-dot-org (previously known as Opportunity Knocks).

    2. Jam Tomorrow*

      I doubt salary is a factor either – at least not yet, since the post states only “commensurate with experience”

      Salary IS a factor, then. He hasn’t posted one.

      1. rando*

        Agree. “commensurate with experience” is not something I, or anyone I know, trusts as a term.

        1. Waterfowl forever*

          When I was applying for development jobs, I almost always skipped those jobs. Commensurate with experience too often means that there is a range and it’s as low as we can get away with. Maybe suggest new ads with a salary range?

        2. WannaAlp*

          …and even if it was, it isn’t going to get any hits when job seekers look for jobs at least salary $XX,000

      2. anoymoooose* is mostly higher ed but this is adjacent enough for them, they often have nonprofits/ museum type jobs too

        1. BethDH*

          Seconding higheredjobs; I see a lot of similar ones there. If there are local schools that are particularly appealing, see if they have alumni job boards. Some departments even have their own. H-Net is technically open to non-academic roles, especially non-profits, though they do charge to post.

          I’m also increasingly seeing job postings circulated informally through social media. I don’t know about music/non-profit development, but in my field there are job search groups on Facebook (you can send a message to the group manager even if you’re not a member). If he or the org are on twitter, posting it there and tagging a few key people would also get an audience that might not be actively checking job boards.

      3. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Agreed. And if this is a major city with a high cost of living, potential applicants may wonder if they’ll be able to afford necessities.

        1. Anon Librarian*

          And that their salary won’t be based on anything that shouldn’t be a factor. Unfortunately, discriminatory pay gaps are still a huge problem. If you set a salary (or range that is clearly tied to experience levels) before you’ve gotten any applications, it helps to prevent that.

      4. Lucette Kensack*

        Yep. There’s a growing movement in the nonprofit sector to insist that job postings include salary. Some job boards won’t accept posts without salaries, and lots of folks won’t share a post without a salary to their network (including me).

        That being said, for a junior-level job the best places to post are likely local boards. Does his state (or city, if it’s big enough) have a nonprofit association?

        For development jobs in general: Chronicle of Philanthropy, Council on Foundations, Idealist.

      5. AnotherAlison*

        +1 more.

        I don’t see what is so difficult about saying this is a 5-10 year experience role, and the salary range is X-Y, commensurate with experience.

        Separately, my friend works in this space. She’s an ED for a state music ed association. Working the network seems to be how she fills her roles, has gotten her jobs, & how other positions in this space get filled.

        1. Clever Name*

          Exactly. I’m assuming the organization has SOME idea of what they are hoping to pay someone, even if it’s a large range. As in, they wouldn’t dream of paying minimum wage for a professional with 5 years of experience, right? And conversely they aren’t planning on hiring someone whose salary requirements is $1M+ either.

      6. Crystal*

        I work in music based NP development, I interpret that as “they don’t have much money and won’t be paying very much.”

        1. Half-Caf Latte*

          I work in a totally different field and I also interpret that as “they don’t have much money and won’t be paying very much.”

    3. Tootie from the Facts of Life*

      Most states have a center for non-profit management and they usually have job boards. They also have HR consulting to make sure that the job description is accurate and reads well. Many times the job description is onerous, labor-intensive, and doesn’t accurately reflect the organization. Perhaps ask other Dev Directors in the area to give it read over.

      The number of applicants shouldn’t be a concern – it should be the quality of applicants. Of those he has, do they at least meet the minimum qualifications? Too many jam choices usually mean no choices are made and/or the decision making process takes too long and you lose a good candidate because you want to see more options.

      It’s possible that someone in the for-profit business development world is interested in moving to non-profit. How about Chambers of Commerce, musical professional organizations? That’s where we found our new Dev Director – in the finance sector.

      A new DD position, one that the non-profit never had before isn’t ready for the cost of a recruiter. This is the time where the ED and Board have the opportunity to pound the pavement, ask their peers, consult with other Ex Directors, for possible candidates. A recruiter would be appropriate for a well-established organization seeking a candidate for a high 5 or 6 figure salary.

    4. KnowsNothing*

      There are various colleges around the country which offer graduate degrees in non-profit management, etc. I can think of two large schools in Texas with very active job placement offices within these programs. It might be helpful to reach out to one of them!

    5. BRR*

      Check for a local chapter of the association for fundraising professionals (afp). I hate to be an echo but development manager salaries can vary widely so posting a range will likely attract more candidates assuming the salary is good. I wouldn’t hire a recruiter for a position like this.

    6. Kimmybear*

      Check the relevant professional association job boards…NAfME, Center for Non-Profit Advancement, etc.

    7. Brett*

      I asked my spouse who has had a lot of involvement with community music non-profits (she’s assistant director at one, sits on the board for another, and I am not even sure how many others she has worked with as a sub, etc).

      She said these types of positions are typically advertised on facebook through music teacher groups. You might think this is strange because you are not seeking a music teacher, but the word of mouth through these groups creates a reference network that should reach many people with the type of experience you are looking for.

    8. ManageHer*

      Chronicle of Philanthropy has a job board.

      But honestly I’m job searching right now in an adjacent field and LinkedIn has been my go-to. At least in the DC Metro, I’m seeing a lot of non-profit, school, and association roles there.

    9. EV*

      Work for Good is a great resource to post non profit jobs as well as Chronicle of Philanthropy

    10. Observer*

      There are some facebook groups as well. One will not allow any ads that don’t have salary.

      NonProfit Happy Hour (NPHH) is one where she might want to post.

    11. AliV*

      Is he being realistic about the duties? If this is a new position it sounds like this might be the first time they’ve had a development person. Being a one-person development shop is tough, and an unrealistic wish list might be scaring off candidates.

      1. AnonSister*

        AliV, this was my initial thought, but you’ve articulated more clearly. Thanks – will definitely pass it on along with the many good suggestions from others.

    12. Cookie Monster*

      Berklee (college of music) has a job board that is strictly for current students and alumni which may help find someone-It sounds like he may not exclusively be looking for a musician as the Development Manager, but certainly there are a lot of Berklee folks that work in all sorts of music business-y areas that could qualify for something like that.

    13. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      Two suggestions, but neither is exactly what you asked for. However. I have an M.F.A. in Performing Arts Management from a school in the Northeast. We are taught fundraising. Your relative could try reaching out to those programs to see if they have alums who would be right for the position. Secondly, I believe the country singer Sara Evans has a foundation called (meaning “Music Education”) which provides funding and support to music programs and schools. It might be a source of funding.

    14. CB*

      Your local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) likely has a job board that the position could be posted to. Our chapter charges a small fee for x amount of time on their site. Posted positions are also included on their monthly e-newsletter to the hundreds of current chapter members.

      Our local United Way also has a free online job board for nonprofits. I know this varies across cities and counties, but it’s worth a shot!

  5. Sunflower*

    I requested a sick day for a minor surgery and my new boss told me I can’t use sick leave in advance so I need to use PTO. Our employee handbook doesn’t explicitly state anything about doctors appointments, however, I’m in NYC and the law says you can use paid sick leave for preventive care appointments. I also checked with my friend in HR who verified I’m correct.

    My boss can be a little hardheaded so I’m planning to say that I thought HR told me during orientation that we can use sick days in advance but in the case she comes back and says that’s not correct, what do I do? She is flexible about WFH and some other stuff so I don’t want to start a battle over this and throw the law out but it’s the law and it’s my right!

    1. Teapot Librarian*

      That’s bizarre. You use sick days for medical reasons, whether they are “I woke up vomiting” (please don’t actually tell your boss that) or “I am having major surgery three weeks from now and need four weeks to recover.”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Your boss is…*deep breath* wrong AF. I stopped the rudeness that is boiling up.

      You need to have HR dial in to him and explain it. Don’t take this on yourself, they need to do their GD jobs.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can say, “Now I’m confused about this because I was sure HR had said that in orientation and I’d read it’s even the law in NYC. I’m going to double check with them and I’ll let you know what they say.”

    4. LGC*

      Not in NYC, but that sounds…weird if that is true. Across the river in NJ, you’re totally allowed to use sick leave for any sort of medical thing, including proactive and care of a family member. New Jersey’s labor laws are generally less progressive than NYC, if I remember correctly, so I’d be surprised if they forced you to not use sick leave proactively.

      So I think your boss is wrong – especially since she’s new and might not have worked in NYC before their sick leave laws came into effect.

      The other possibility I can think of is that your PTO system is bad and only allows you to file sick time after the fact. In that case, just file as soon as you’re able after the surgery.

      1. Professional Merchandiser*

        What she is saying is she can’t schedule sick leave IN ADVANCE, not that she can’t use sick leave for this surgery. My company has the same policy. I tried to schedule a sick day to have a root canal done and my (former) boss refused it because it was requested ahead of time. I just waited and sent my request in the night before, and was granted with no problem. Luckily, my new boss is more reasonable and she will approve things like that ahead of time.

        1. Professional Merchandiser*

          Forgot to clarify: we make our requests on-line, not talking to the boss. If you have to talk to your boss directly, that might be different.

    5. Jadelyn*

      …so generally speaking, I’m with the majority on this one. Get your HR involved and have them clear it up.

      I will add one caveat, however, that many of the paid sick leave laws do allow employers to have a grace period for new employees before they can actually use the sick leave they’re accruing. So if you’re brand new at the company, it might not be that your boss is denying you the use of sick time for preventative care appointments in general, just that you’re still in your probationary period or whatever and so you can’t use your sick time at all yet. From NYC’s sick leave law:

      “an employee shall be entitled to begin using safe/sick time on
      the one hundred twentieth calendar day following commencement of his or her employment or on
      the one hundred twentieth calendar day following the effective date of this local law, whichever is
      later. After the one hundred twentieth calendar day of employment or after the one hundred
      twentieth calendar day following the effective date of this local law, whichever is later, such
      employee may use safe/sick time as it is accrued.”

      From the phrasing, it sounds like this may be what your boss meant. But again, definitely get your HR involved.

      1. TootsNYC*

        any company who takes advantage of that is just stupid–like, do you WANT someone coming to work with a raging toothache? (Happened to my niece–she started a new job and cannot miss a single day in her 90-day probation period, so she went to work in terrific pain because she couldn’t go get the tooth pulled. I’m sure she was very effective–insert eyeroll here >> .)

        Or strep, pinkeye, mono?

          1. Kat in VA*

            If someone came into work with a raging case of C. difficile (assuming they were even mobile), I would be beyond righteously enraged.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Oh, I agree – I think those waiting periods are dumb as heck. My employer includes in our sick leave policy that people can even take a certain amount of it as an advance, if they get sick within their first couple months before they’ve had time to accrue enough time to use, for that exact reason. If you’re sick, don’t come in and infect the rest of us just because you’re new. “Borrow” from your future PTO bank and stay home.

          Life happens sometimes – even when it’s not convenient, like during your first couple months at a new job. There’s nothing you can really do about that, and companies that refuse to allow their employees to be humans with messy normal lives are shooting themselves in the foot.

    6. OperaArt*

      I’m confused. When you say “in advance” does that mean you do not yet have the sick leave available, and plan to request an advance on it?

      1. swusposp*

        I think “in advance” means, in the boss’ opinion, sick leave can only be used when you’re blindsided by sickness vs. any medical-related plans or appts you have.

      2. MoopySwarpet*

        Yes, this is what I would want clarified as well. If you don’t have sick leave available and want to use it “in advance” then he could be correct and not contrary to the law. If he means you can’t schedule sick leave in advance, he’s wrong.

    7. Not another squirrel*

      You are not taking the sick day for the surgery. You are taking the sick day for the bleeding/recovery from anesthesia/surgery.

    8. DAMitsDevon*

      Definitely do what others have said and loop in HR. Also, I work and live in NYC and have been able to use sick leave in advance for doctors appointments. And my boss has used sick leave when got surgery on his ankle last year.

  6. Monivan*

    How do I stop feeling guilty/worried about leaving my job? (Or should I be?) I know this has been covered on here before, but I’m worried about burning a bridge.

    I’ve been in this job almost 2 and a half years, and it’s my second job out of college. The past 6 months, the company has been downsizing and cutting costs – and a lot of the work that others were doing has been falling to me, and my workload is about to increase even more when my coworker is laid off next month. Not only will I have practically twice as much work on my plate, the work I’m taking on is (to me) tedious, dull, and just not the type of I want to do.

    If I leave, all this work plus what I’m already doing will fall to someone else, because now they barely have enough people to do everything. I’m more concerned that they’ll be upset with me for leaving them hanging if I leave within the next few months. I think they will probably realize that I am trying to escape doing this coworker’s job and I feel like it’ll make me look like I’m not dedicated

    1. londonedit*

      Two and a half years is more than a reasonable amount of time to spend at your second post-college job – you’ve already proved that you’re dedicated! Plus, your work has changed, it isn’t what you want to do, and you can see the writing on the wall with all the lay-offs that have already happened. No reasonable person would blame you for wanting to cut your losses before you become the next person in the firing line.

      I think it’s totally normal to feel guilty about ‘dropping people in it’ when you leave a job, but companies have to be responsible for their own staffing, and they have to understand that people will leave. Especially if things clearly aren’t going well! You have to do what’s best for you and for your own career – you can’t sit around in a job you don’t like, at a company that really doesn’t seem stable, just because you’d feel bad about someone else having to do the work you’re leaving behind.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s normal to feel this way. We become “loyal” in these ways to jobs, we spend a lot of time there after all. You know the people somewhat personally at that stage, so you care about them and don’t want them to be upset, etc.

      However all you owe anyone is respect and professionalism. So you give notice and you work with them throughout that period whatever way they ask you to. Stay kind and helpful until the end but in the end, it’s a business relationship. If they take it personally and don’t get what business relationships look like, that’s on their shoulders, not yours.

      It’s a mind game on your side. You have to keep reminding yourself you’re doing nothing wrong. That you have to think of #1, you. Take care of yourself, nobody else will put you first in this life except yourself. Especially not a boss or company, they are downsizing. So look at how they cut jobs, why do they get to do that and you don’t get to? At least as an employee you give notice, unlike a company that usually just drops an axe without a 2 weeks heads up that you’re out of a job.

      Really if they’re upset that you “left them hanging”, they’re damaged goods. They don’t get to make this your problem.

      You have no reason to be dedicated to propping someone’s dead weight up.

      1. HappyRetiree*

        I worked for a company that was going through difficulties resulting from both external and internal reasons. I was not really happy with my department management but my workload was growing and I saw my job as pretty secure. A reorganization was announced and the person in charge of itguaranteed to me in front of others that I would not be laid off but transitioned to a new related role for which I was was qualified. Wrong! There was a kluster-f** involving hiring into the new role and I found myself on the street.

        My takeaway was that my job hunt should have started when the difficulties became apparent. I thought that by being loyal to them , they would be good to me. Instead , because I was a mature woman, being laid off effectively ended my career.

        OP, don’t let what you think is loyalty blind you to the realities. Getting out on your own terms is way more important that what you surmise they will think about you.

    3. animaniactoo*

      It is about 900x more likely that they are going to be upset with your company for not hiring somebody – enough somebodies – to cover your job when you leave.

      Exactly the way you are annoyed with your company now as they are laying people off.

      If they’re annoyed with you for jumping ship, that’s a mindset that you can’t and shouldn’t attempt to cater to or worry about as you paddle off on your escape raft. The most I would do is verbally express sorrow to some of your co-workers that the company’s layoffs/attitudes about reasonable workloads mean that they will probably end up with what’s on your plate. Just to nudge them in the direction of looking at the company if they were inclined to look at you first. But that’s the limit of it.

    4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      If they can’t afford to hire people to do the work that they have, they are not a sustainable business. You are an employee, not a guardian angel. Stop thinking of things happening to that business as your fault. “The work will fall to someone else if I leave.” Yes, yes it will. That’s how it works. You can’t change it and you sure as hell can’t fix a failing company by doing five jobs. If they are more upset at you for leaving then they are upset that the company is failing, they got issues. You are not the lynch pin. Seriously. Start looking now.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Nooooooot your problem.

      You do now owe it to the job to treat it better than it treats you. They’ve demonstrated that they’re apparently financially dysfunctional and definitely functionally dysfunctional. (Side note: Are you even sure your own job there is secure?)

      But you only have one life to live and it will be better if you’re not massively overworked.

    6. Monivan*

      I do think my job is secure, they are profitable but just trying to cut costs. They are automating a lot of tasks but still need people to do certain manual tasks. While my job does normally entail this kind of work, I know I can find something better and that I will personally prefer doing.

      1. MicrobioChic*

        One of my jobs tried to do something similar, cutting costs by cutting hours for the folks in the lab. Which was awful, because we were all hired as 40hr a week employees.

        They ended up losing their best people because everyone saw the writing on the wall and started looking for other jobs. No one was annoyed at the people who left first, we were annoyed at the company for causing issues for itself and the rest of us by being so short sighted.

        In this sort of situation, it’s not you causing the issue, it’s your employer. Even if you did like the new work that was coming in, you didn’t sign up to do two peoples jobs for the wage of one person. Anyone who blames you for leaving is being unreasonable, and I suspect none of your coworkers will blame you.

      2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        “they are profitable but just trying to cut costs”
        Good for them. But there are cost cutting measures that don’t involve the multi-hat plan. Typically they eliminate people AFTER the automation takes over and is fully functional, not while it’s still in process.

      3. Observer*

        Well, the way they are cutting costs is not responsible. Unless you were twiddling your thumbs you do not appropriately cut costs by doubling someone’s workload. You really don’t owe them any “dedication”.

        1. CubeKitteh*

          I’m in a mass layoff for a company that is posting profits so “cutting costs” by shifting work around while we’re gradually let go is “business as usual” right now. As to feeling guilty, don’t. People leave jobs all the time. It’s part of doing business. Don’t feel guilty about doing what’s right for you. Employment is a two-way street. Good luck!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Yes it’s hard. It might help to write out answers to the basic interview question “Why are you leaving your previous job?” I’ll point out that you’re being smart — the company is in financial distress as demonstrated by layoffs and extreme cost-cutting. Your workload is about to double, and half of it is work that you wouldn’t have signed on to do if offered that job originally.
      Alison’s said many times it’s a reality of business that people move on. If you leave they will prioritize what really must be done, drop some business, and/or hire a new person. Or not lay off someone else. Or hire back someone who was previously laid off.

    8. Errol*

      When companies aren’t doing well, there isn’t usually bad blood when people are looking out for themselves instead of the company.

      They are laying people off and downsizing, the writing is on the wall and you would be foolish to pretend that if it comes down to them or you, they’ll pick you. Your employer looks out for them, and you need to look out for you. If they get upset that you found something more secure, that isn’t a normal reaction and not your problem. Business isn’t personal.

      I’m actually going through something similar here, my contract is coming up but we have someone on medical leave and the lady on mat leave (whom my contract is to replace) has decided now that year end is over she’s going back on leave until end of September but I’ve already started my job hunt seriously on the verbal confirmation she gave me that she’d be back at the end of July and I will have no more job. This means I’m leaving this company ‘high and dry’ as it’s just me running everything here these days. I was talking to my shop manager about this being a little awkward feeling and he goes “We all need to be looking out for number one.” He’s 100% correct. We aren’t ‘screwing anyone’ or ‘leaving them high and dry’, we’re doing exactly what a business would do.

      **I currently work for a very very small company

    9. Nicki Name*

      Monivan, here’s something that helped me come to terms with escaping a job where I desperately needed to leave but felt guilty about abandoning my co-workers:

      In short… it’s part of an unhealthy dynamic that you feel loyal to a job that’s crushing you. You deserve to leave if it’s making unreasonable demands. Your employer set up this situation, and it’s THEIR fault if the people you leave behind are burdened with too much work.

    10. Jill March*

      My department lost three employees within a month. It was really just coincidence; there wasn’t anything toxic about the place or position. It was stressful, but no one was upset at any of the people that left. Life happens and people change jobs. Reasonable people and workplaces understand that. If leaving burns a bridge, then you are dealing with unreasonable people who would resent you no matter when you left. Do what’s best for you. Even the best companies aren’t going to prioritize your needs better than you can.

    11. Jadelyn*

      Keep reminding yourself that the feeling isn’t mutual. If your job was considered expendable in their push to cut costs, you’d be out the door already. They’re looking out for themselves. You have every right to do the same. If they get mad at you for it, that’s a sign that they’re toxic and dysfunctional and it’s actually *more* evidence that you need to Get Out Now.

    12. Mama Bear*

      Years ago I was a rat on a sinking ship. We went from an office of 30 to 5 after losing a major contract. At one point a coworker wondered if she should start looking for a new job and I said something like she should have already been looking for a new job. Read the tea leaves and do not be afraid to jump ship if you need to. Sometimes you need to be selfish and recognize that business is business. If I saw a bunch of layoffs looming, I’d be looking for a more stable job with the kind of work I liked better. It’s a job, not a prison sentence.

    13. TootsNYC*

      If the people involved have any brains at all, they’ll totally understand why you’re leaving–the company is not doing well, and your workload is increasing.

      Most HR departments will only note in your file whether you gave notice and were on good terms when you left.

      The nuance of “oh, she’s not dedicated and doesn’t want to work hard” is not going to show up from HR, and it shouldn’t show up from anyone sensible that you actually work with.

      And 2.5 years is a reasonable time to leave.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      Really, Monivan their lack of employees to do the work due to downsizing is not your concern!
      It’s not personal, it’s business. Rinse and repeat.

      Yes, the person left might get a little upset, but that is also not your concern. They can also leave if they so feel they need to. All you can do is give a reasonable notice, and tidy up/hand off the work in a professional manner when you leave. That’s it!

    15. Not another squirrel*

      Your leaving is not a reflection on your dedication to the company. You are trading your time/expertise to the company for money/opportunities. They are offering you the ‘opportunity’ to be overworked (doubling your workload), and stagnant (tedious, dull work).
      You did not/do no have to agree to this trade. Just like the company would cut you loose in a heartbeat if it were in their best interest, you have to ask what is your best interest. Do not worry about advocating for what is best for the company, they can do that themselves. The company staffs for the company’s benefit, not yours and they will continue to do so.

    16. BethDH*

      I think it’s okay to feel guilty, as long as that doesn’t stop you from leaving!

      Given the situation, your company/management are the ones who should feel guilty. You are not the one preventing them from hiring more people to take on these roles.

      I know what it’s like to feel guilty even when you know you shouldn’t though, and I think you can assuage that a bit by working to minimize the impact on your coworkers. Document anything you can in a way that is helpful to them (for example, make sure there are headings that make it easy for your coworkers to find just what they need). I don’t know what else would be relevant to your position, but thinking that way will also help you feel proactive instead of reactive.

      And then, give them the chance to be happy for you. Most decent coworkers are capable of recognizing a good thing for their colleagues even when it causes them more work and can separate those feelings. Don’t present your move like it’s something to be ashamed of or sad about (and yeah, don’t gloat either, but that doesn’t seem likely for you!)

    17. Observer*

      Who is “they”?

      If it’s your coworker who is going to be stuck with the work, I doubt that they are going to be worrying about your “dedication”, as much as furious at the bosses who think you can shoehorn the work of 3 people into the hours of one person.

      If it’s your bosses, if they actually expect “dedication” from you while they are busy cutting staff, to the point of being upset at you, then you need to get out yesterday and should expect to never get a good reference from them, regardless of when you leave. On the other hand, given how they are going about these cuts, I doubt that they will have the sense to understand WHY you are leaving. And might quite happy – one more person leaving and it won’t even affect their unemployment rate. For people like this, it’s a total win.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great point about the bosses, they have not lost a wink of sleep worrying about you, OP and your workload.

    18. AppleStan*

      We have an admin asst who refused to leave even though her doctor told her you need to quit this job or it’s going to kill you. She felt too damn guilty because we were down to next to no administrative assistants at all, and she was afraid of leaving us in a bind.

      Fast forward about a year…let’s just say the stress (even with all of the admin positions filled shortly after the warning from her doctor) of the job and of life have caused her to behave in ways that are completely inappropriate, which has been leading to a nose-dive to her professional reputation.

      You are not responsible for what is going to happen at that job when you leave. They are going to go on without you, it is a cost of doing business. They may have some rougher times before it gets better, but I guarantee, they will find a way.

      Please let go of the guilt, and depending upon how you actually handle your separation from that employment, you won’t be burning bridges at all.

    19. Zephy*

      If it made sense for the company to lay you off tomorrow, they’d do it without hesitation.

      If I leave, all this work plus what I’m already doing will fall to someone else, because now they barely have enough people to do everything.

      Do you own this business? No? Then this is not your problem.

      I’m more concerned that they’ll be upset with me for leaving them hanging if I leave within the next few months.

      Your bosses aren’t your friends. To hell with what they think. If you put in your notice and they cry and scream and jump up and down about it, that’s not your fault or your problem. People leave jobs all the time, if your leaving comes at an inconvenient time for the business, that’s not your fault or your problem.

      I think they will probably realize that I am trying to escape doing this coworker’s job and I feel like it’ll make me look like I’m not dedicated

      Dedicated to what, being overworked and underpaid? You entered into a business agreement with them to do a job. If the terms of that job change and you decide it’s not an agreement you’re comfortable with, you’re as well within your rights to leave as they are to let you go. Again, your bosses are not your friends, and to hell with what they think. Monivan’s obligation is to Monivan.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Just to tack on to “I’m more concerned that they’ll be upset with me for leaving them hanging if I leave within the next few months.”
        I can promise you, based on the kind of company you are describing, that regardless of when you leave, even if you leave in the most perfect circumstances, with everything in order and shiny new processes, the *second*, the very SECOND something goes wrong – like the printer runs out of toner – it WILL be your fault. Why? Because you were the last person to leave, and that’s often the culture at companies like this. If it can be blamed on someone who no longer works there, it will be.
        Sorry – that’s just the way it goes. Don’t feel guilt – you don’t owe them any. They won’t send any in return.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      ” I think they will probably realize that I am trying to escape doing this coworker’s job and I feel like it’ll make me look like I’m not dedicated.”

      So what. I mean really, so what. People will conjure up what ever excuse they can to get themselves off the hook.
      We can’t stop people from thinking whatever it is they think.
      We can’t stop people from being angry at us for no real reason.
      I think you know that logically.

      I think you also know that no one was too worried about your workload increasing when they left, they left anyway. See, they knew that it was not their fault your workload increased. They did not assign you their work. The bosses did that.

      Try not to use these things you cannot fix to avoid fixing the things you CAN fix. You can be professional at all times. You can successfully switch to a better workplace. Focus on the “can-do” part of this situation.

      As far as not being dedicated, we don’t have to be dedicated to an employer who cannot commit to us. If they wanted you to stay they could have given you more money and possibly a bigger title. That is not what they chose to do.

      The other day I did a short job for someone. They paid me more than I asked for then apologized for not giving me more. (Right, I wish they would not tell me these things. However, I do understand the sentiment. It can be a way of saying “Thank you. I will never have enough money to pay you what this is worth to me.” I felt like I have been really thanked.) This is how it should go, OP. We should not crawl through our day, breaking our backs to carry the workload and pray we have a job tomorrow. This is not a healthy company.

    21. I Ate Your Eclair*

      Oh, don’t worry. When you give notice, they’ll start being such jerks to you that you’ll find all your sense of duty, loyalty, and Eagle Scout spirit blowing away like a box of Kleenex in a convertible going 80mph on Highway 72.

      How do I know this? Because an organization that is driving away people with its dysfunction is an org in denial, and an org in denial always blames and scapegoats the person whom it’s driven away. I was just st one of those. Though I’m a jaded veteran of many jobs, I’m still a bit of an Eagle Scout type and had noble plans to do as much right as my very…quirky coworkers and boss when I gave notice at end of May. Boss called up the headhunter who found me for them a year ago and tried to get a refund. The team lead and coworker gave me the silent treatment; coworker also tried to sabotage transition by lying. In a country where a sendoff lunch/gifts is de rigeur, they demonstrably did nothing to mark my departure. I had to shake my head and laugh, it was so petty and mean-spirited. The joke is that my two immediate successors had bolted the job within days (I kid you not) because of their…quirkiness, and I stayed a full year because, Eagle Scout.
      I’m actually grateful they were such asses, because it made things very, very clear. It also made it quite an achievement that I managed to remain civil and professional during the notice period. Glad I could do it.

  7. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

    Here’s a sad story that at least shows my workplace in a good light. One of our managers (and one of my closest friends) recently succumbed to cancer at the age of just 50. Everyone working here was devastated. She’d been a part of the office for years, had set up many of our current procedures etc, and was the life and soul of the place. The response from the top bosses has been fantastic. Everyone was told they could take all the time they needed if they were struggling and wanted to get away for a few minutes, they arranged for counselling sessions for any staff that wanted them, and generally made sure that everyone was supported.

    The funeral was on Wednesday, and the bosses immediately said that they would place no restrictions on anyone who wanted to go, they wouldn’t insist on minimum staffing levels, they would manage with a skeleton staff. Many of us came in on the morning of the funeral all wearing purple (her favourite colour) – the office was a sea of purple.

    A horrible situation was made slightly better by the caring actions of our bosses. Just shows what a caring employer can do.

    1. ContentWrangler*

      Sorry for you and your coworkers’ loss. I’m glad you all have caring bosses to support you all during this.

    2. R*

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so glad for you that your bosses were empathetic. The idea of a sea of purple in her honor made me well up. She must have been an amazing person and clearly had a huge impact. Words are not enough!

      1. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

        It’s been so quick as well – she was diagnosed at the beginning of May. That’s just made it more of a shock.

        1. R*

          Oh my goodness. That certainly is a short time frame. I’m so sorry. I hope you are taking good care of yourself.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m sorry for your loss. I know how hard it was on me when my former manager died last year, and I wasn’t even still in his department, let alone personally close to him.
      If you have the kind of relationship with anyone in upper management that would let you suggest something, one thing that my company did right was to convert that man’s office into a small conference room. No one has been moved into it to be a constant reminder. The new head of his department was given a different office & furniture.
      Again, my sympathies.

    4. Mimmy*

      I am so sorry for the loss of your coworker. The image of all of you in a “sea of purple” gave me chills (I too love purple). Your workplace is a shining example of how to honor a coworker’s passing and how to support the rest of the employees.

    5. Minocho*

      We lost a beloved coworker a few months ago to a very sudden heart attack. He had just celebrated his 30th year with the company.

      We changed the name of one of our conference rooms to his name, and dedicated it to him (with a plaque and everything) last week. His wife and children were invited to the ceremony, and honored us with their presence.

      I’m so sorry for your loss, but you are absolutely right, just a little bit of consideration can make such a difference!

    6. DCGirl*

      That makes such a difference. I worked for a company where most people took public transportation to work and didn’t have their cars during the day. When a long-time employee died suddenly from an aneurysm, the company did the same thing in terms of letting anyone who wanted to go to the funeral and chartered buses to take people too and from the office. Gestures like that make such a difference to employees.

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

    7. Mama Bear*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. We had a similar situation years ago with someone who celebrated a company milestone on Friday and passed away Sunday. It was very shocking. The company response was similar to yours and it went a long way toward healing and employee loyalty. I’m glad your company is being so supportive. That’s the way it should be.

    8. EngineerMom*

      This reminded me of one of my mom’s favorite poems, Warning by Jenny Joseph:

      When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
      With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
      And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
      And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
      I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
      And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
      And run my stick along the public railings
      And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
      I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
      And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
      And learn to spit.

      You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
      And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
      Or only bread and pickle for a week
      And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

      But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
      And pay our rent and not swear in the street
      And set a good example for the children.
      We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

      But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
      So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
      When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Okay, the sea of purple got me.

      OP, I am sorry for your loss. I am very pleased to see that your company is exemplary in its response to your (all of you) loss. And I am pleased to see the unity with your cohorts in supporting each other.
      Life can be harsh, but people don’t have to be harsh to each other. Here’s proof.

  8. Wearing Many Hats*

    Any suggestions for balancing tasks and strategic planning as a department of one? I’m HR, Accounts Payable, IT, and lots of other little things at my office and have a bad habit of getting bogged down in minutia when I need to think holistically about culture and employee development. Thanks!

    1. Jam Tomorrow*

      Look up the Eisenhower matrix – it can be really useful for helping you prioritise.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have the main things scheduled out. AP is done on Fridays. HR is spread out because there’s tasks to deal with but the daily stuff I do in the mornings first thing. Updates to computers, every Friday night or every Monday morning, you know?

      This has been my life for almost twenty years. Have you been doing it very long? Sometimes it’s muscle memory and check-lists in the end!

      1. Wearing Many Hats*

        I’ve been at this for a few years now, but ran retail stores for 10 years prior. I guess I’m just used being reactive to constant chaos! I schedule time in my calendar for my usual tasks–I think I need to put some time in there for strategic planning as well. Thank you!

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s hard to go from Retail life to Office life, which is what it sounds like you’re doing. This unfortunately is why I never hire people with only retail background but that’s not to say you cannot get this under control and live in a less chaotic state!

          You should also get a notebook or if you take notes on a cellphone notepad, whatever it may be. So when someone stops by and asks you for something right then, if you seriously are in the middle of something, you can “note it” and get to it when your schedule allows it.

          So if you’re doing bills and someone comes in and says “I’m running out of unicorns, can you order some more?”

          You just take a note and say “Yes I can, it’s on my to-do list.” and go back to paying bills.

          Unless something is On Fire, they don’t need you right then and a note and a “I’ll circle back with you in about 20 minutes, okay?” should be fine. Keep time open for “office hours” and tasks that come up whenever possible. Some days the phone explodes and there’s 97 people needing me to revise invoices for them and I’m able to then reshuffle the work around so that the Right Now, Customers Need This is taken care of.

          It’s not priority unless it is immediately effecting someone’s ability to do their job. And even then, some people can sit and wait and shuffle their own work around in order to take care of what’s most important. Which is going to be Government Deadlines, payment deadlines [because don’t piss off your vendors, they will not be kind to you when you need a favor later] and HR deadlines. Otherwise, most things on any given day should be pretty easy to shuffle around. Don’t get too stuck in a routine mindset, you have to also keep flexible but yeah, it’s all about reeling it in and really understanding your priorities and the business priorities, people can wait it out for a certain amount of time in most situations.

          1. Wearing Many Hats*

            I think you’re doing yourself a great disservice by not hiring people with deep retail experience! I paid my way through college by working in retail. Entering the job market in a new town during a recession meant I had to take what I could get and lots of people from diverse backgrounds work in retail because that is what is available to them. Store managers oversee the entire hiring and employee development process, keep payroll and that P&L top of mind, and juggle a variety of stakeholders. It may not be relevant in your industry, but I’ve fallen back on my customer service skills on so many occasions to figure things out.

            I’m used to running a team of 30 people so even though it’s been 5 years, perhaps that change takes more time to adjust to than I thought. I’m got so used to delegating and checking in. Thanks for the insight!

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              Sadly it’s due to being burnt like a MOFO trying to bring in that background. I have had to fire too many people who can’t hack it because the skills don’t transfer =( So I don’t take a chance with anyone, they have to cut their teeth on someone else’s office first. I don’t need a lot of experience, just enough to get the basics under their belts.

              We have hired people who went into service/retail at some point for various reasons but it’s not their entire job history. It’s unfair but as a business professional who has to weigh those risks and the overall costs of taking them, it hasn’t shook out to let me mentor someone into being the next jack of all trades, one person departments of their own.

    3. irene adler*

      Limiting the time you plan to spend on each area?
      Or establishing a schedule where you spend only a set amount of time per area:
      8-9 am HR
      9-9:45 am AP
      10-11 am IT
      Then have the discipline to put aside one task at the end of the time period and start in on the next task.

      1. Wearing Many Hats*

        It’s that discipline! Sometimes I want to really *finish* something and I get off track with the next thing that needs attention.

        1. TootsNYC*

          you need a “place” to “put” that “next thing.”

          I had a job that felt out of control once,a nd I got fierce with my inbox, and treated it like a to-do list.

          Someone brought me something to do? I made them write a few words on a piece of paper and put it in the inbox. Then I knew I wouldn’t forget it.

          And every time I was free, I’d check the whole inbox and reprioritize, so I knew that nothing was getting buried.

        2. Gumby*

          You need a system. Any system, but one you stick to. (Well, almost any system. I’m sure there is a terrible one out there that wouldn’t work at all.) I’m personally a fan of Getting Things Done as described in the book of that title by David Allen; though I don’t follow it 100% it did inform the system that I now use.

    4. Miss Ames*

      When I was working in a role that had many facets, I was faced with the reality that there was no way to ever catch up on all the work (there was simply too much coming in all the time). So I decided to arrange my day so that at certain times I would work on certain areas (i.e. first thing in morning, enter order data for 30 mins, then check email, late morning work on topic X, after lunch place new orders). From my view, at least I was hitting all the vital areas for some part of the day, so I wouldn’t get too far behind on any one area.

      1. Wearing Many Hats*

        I am trying to accept that reality. I want to do a good job at *everything* and need to be ok with the fact that sometimes a getting something done in an acceptable manner, and not at the best level I am capable of, is all I can do. Thank you for the reminder!

    5. Coffee Owlccountant*

      Outlook calendar is your friend! Block off particular times a minimum of once a week where you are focusing 100% on more long-term, developmental projects and planning. Then be actually unavailable during those times – in fact, if you are in a position where you can be actually not physically present in your office, that will make it even easier to enact.

      Sometimes it’s really hard to take off all the Firefighter* hats and put on the Strategic Planner one, so what I’ve found works best for me is a very clear change in scenery, and it’s become a solid trigger in my brain that when I am in X location, I am doing X and am not going to be interrupted or distracted by anything that is not X.

      *please continue to fetch the fire extinguisher if there is something that is literally on fire, like the toaster

    6. MoopySwarpet*

      I’m in a similar boat. I love todoist for putting things into project/categories. Everything gets a deadline, but deadlines for long lead projects or “busy work” get deadlines weeks or months out. I then schedule a daily or weekly reoccurring task for each project. If there are pressing things to be done, I do those first, then move on to the less pressing tasks. I’m not worried about rescheduling deadlines for truly non-pressing things, too.

      I also really like using the pomodone app (desktop/web/mobile) for staying focused on the category at hand, but found it too tedious for most individual tasks. You can customize how long you want your work period to be and how often you take breaks, etc. It was helpful to me if I got sidetracked by a phone call or something to be able to glance back at “ok, what was I working on?” because otherwise, I tend to check my email, get sidetracked by something that needs attention, move on to something else leaving the original task half done.

      1. Hamburke*

        I use ToDoIst too! Our whole team has access to it and it keeps us on track and accountable to each other. When we only were using it for ourselves, not as a team, I wasn’t very good at checking things off – I looked at my “today” email and stayed on track but I’d only check things off once a week or every other week. I’d also kick things down the road if I wasn’t confident in them which is ok until it has a real due date. I think you have to be self-accountable to make this work for a team of 1.

  9. Terrible Negotiator*

    I’m a Software Developer working as a Contractor on-site for a client. I am an employee of the contracting company (I get health insurance, PTO, etc. from them) but work as though I am a full-time employee of the client (their equipment, their management, etc.). This is the first time I’ve been a contractor and, having been there a year, my contract is coming up for renewal. I am well regarded for my skills and input on my team and I think I undercut myself a little when I accepted the position. I was new to the market and wasn’t sure what the market would bear so I gave a $10k range and they offered smack in the middle so I figured they weren’t being stingy. Now that I’ve been here a year and been a strong contributor to a very high performing team, I would like to ask for a raise but I’m not quite sure what I can “get away with”. I know I need to negotiate directly with my contracting company and I’d like to go up 10%.

    A few caveats: the company has had a lot of trouble finding experienced programmers with my skillset. The last 3 hires came from out of state and they have said that it’s been a struggle. They have offered some people full time employment after they’ve been here awhile but they seem to wait until the employee is about to leave before doing so. I’ve been told in confidence that I’m on a short list for being made an offer but it hasn’t happened yet so I will continue to function as though it may never happen. I am looking around for a non-contract position but in the meantime, I do like my co-workers and the project so I plan to stick around unless another great opportunity comes along.

    Any input on how to convey that I’m worth the raise? Thanks so much!

    1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      As someone who has worked both with and for a contracting company, realize that your salary is a percentage of what the contracting company charges.
      So for you to get more, they either take less or go back to the client and negotiate a higher rate. When I got a raise in a contractor type position, the request came from my on site manager. She said, “you deserve more money.” And she was authorized by her company to negotiate. I went up about $2 an hour and the agency’s rate went up a percentage.
      So you want to go in knowing that they are going to put the onus on the client. “You are billed at $XX. We’d have to raise that to the next tier for you to get a raise.” And prepare to discuss how to make that happen.

      1. Terrible Negotiator*

        Thank you for your input! I do realize that it’s going to be passed down to the client. I’ve spoken to my PM about it (we have a very transparent relationship) and she said that I have a lot of leverage in this situation. I just tend to feel weird about asking for a big jump even though I don’t think the final amount is outrageous.

    2. Brett*

      This is the exact setup that my team and company has. Heck, you could be on my team with what you described.
      Talk to the other contractors on your team. This is okay to do. Use this to judge what you are worth. Once you understand that, talk to your contract company. If they have room to ask for more money from your client, they will (and if you are in line with other contractors on your team, that probably will not be an issue). If, instead, the issue is that the company is taking a big percentage of what the client pays, that is a lot tougher and you just have to press the issue with your contract company but use the ammunition of knowing what others make to drive home your point.

      Conversion is normally dependent on there being open positions to convert you to, not on a willingness to convert. If you are on a path to being converted, you will know (in my case, it took about six months from “we will convert you” to it actually happening, and five+ months of that was waiting for an open position requisition to slot me into). Something important to realize, conversion is normally a pay cut for most contractors (at least at our company). The stability, benefits (and bonuses) are what make up for it.

      1. Terrible Negotiator*

        Thanks so much for your reply! I did speak to a co-worker who was interviewing some of these out of staters so he knew what they were asking for (a lot) and he said that I “have room” so clearly asking for more should be ok but he didn’t suggest that I was grossly underpaid so how much is too much to ask for is where I’m stuck.

        As for conversion, I don’t think waiting for openings is really the case where I am. For my particular discipline, they’ve always outsourced to contracting companies so we are the first group with our skillset to be working in-house. I do wonder if they don’t see a long term need for having a team on staff but even my PM said she doesn’t understand why they can’t just hire a bunch of people at once. She confirmed that the offers made were because those people had made mention of leaving for full time gigs and they are starting to realize how hard it is to find people but then… they’ve only picked up like 3 people. Truth is, I’m not sure I want to convert. There’s a lot of politics that I am happy to not be a part of!

    3. CAA*

      Go to your manager at your contract company and say that you know that your contract is coming up for renewal and you’d like to get $xx/hr on the new contract. (I personally would add 15% to what you’re currently making, so that you have room to settle on 10%.) Just see what she says. You may not have to make any kind of argument or justification because contract rates do go up at renewals and this may just be business-as-usual for her and she’ll go ahead and communicate the new rate to the client. She could also give you a different number that’s lower than what you asked for, but hopefully close to the 10% you want.

      Or she could say something like “well, I would need to justify an increase like that, give me some ammunition…” If that happens, then you can point out that you’ve been a key player on a high performing team and you now have a year’s worth of historical knowledge, and you have had very positive feedback from your coworkers and the project manager. After describing how valuable your contributions are, then you can also mention that you know it’s been hard for the client to find people new employees with similar skills, so you don’t think they’d want to lose you.

      At the same time, I’d also go to your manager at the client company and say “you may remember that my contract is coming up for renewal on August 1st. I’d really like to stay on here as a full-time employee rather than a contractor. Is there any way to make that happen in the next few weeks? I’d much rather do that than renew the contract.” The reason for putting this bug in their ear is that some contracts have buyout clauses where the company has to pay the contracting firm a fee if they hire you before the end of the term (kind of like you’d have to pay a landlord if you broke a lease). It’s cleanest for the client company if they will make you an offer and bring you on right at the end of a contract; and depending on the wording, they may not be able or willing to hire you at other times.

      1. Mama Bear*


        Oftentimes the contractor company is also doing their own negotiations with the client at the end of a contract so now is the time to have that discussion. If they know that to retain you they will need to give you a raise, then they can try to build that into their own fees. I used to work for a company that went through three different renewal/award phases with no increase in my salary and it was definitely a factor for me at the end of the contract. In my case there was no conversion available, so my only way up was out.

      2. Terrible Negotiator*

        Thanks so much CAA! I really like your matter of fact script and will use it! I tend to take things very personally and have a bit of a confidence issue but it’s good to remember that this is just business and to take any emotional weight out of it. This project has actually boosted my professional confidence a lot and I finally feel like I have some leverage to work with.

        As for converting to full time employee. As I mentioned above, I’m not sure I want to at this point. Honestly, the way they’ve handled the hiring of just a few people has left a really bad taste in my mouth. They also have a tendency to tell employees that they would like them to go work on this other project/in this other discipline pretty regularly and I’d rather stay doing what I’m doing on the project that I’m on until I choose to move on to something else.

        Thanks Mama Bear for your reply as well!

        1. Terrible Negotiator*

          I will also say that someone else from my contractor hit her year mark and they literally said nothing to her. She contacted them and asked what was going on and they had unceremoniously renewed her contract. I’ve already told them I wanted to have a discussion and the response seemed a little surprised “oh! You want to revisit the salary?” Um…. yes! This is really where my concern is stemming from. That other contractor found a full time job elsewhere at which point she was offered full time at this client. Too late. That’s when any hiring began.

  10. Art!*

    I’m an artist starting a business selling my own art, and was hoping to work with furniture stores and interior decorators to come up with art that would work well for their clients. If you’re in either of those fields, what sort of things do you look for? What can I do that would be helpful to you?

    1. KoiFeeder*

      Wow, that sounds very cool! I’m not in either field, so it may not matter, but what sort of art are you doing? I feel like sculpture would go differently from paintings would go differently from fabric arts. Or are you a generalist?

      1. Art!*

        Framed landscape photography that is very chill and relaxing– not the hypersaturated stuff you see so often nowadays.

      1. Minocho*

        Also, I would expect a mix of dominant color themes would be good. Cream and beige walls, light warm neutrals, were very popular for quite a while, but recently cooler grayish neutrals have been a thing. Having a variety of photos with different dominant color hues would allow complimentary “soft” works, or contrasting “accent” works to be chosen, depending on design needs.

    2. MP*

      Abstract – ethereal stuff with gold accents is really popular right now. Really large canvas stuff.

    3. JD*

      I’m not in those fields, but we just bought art for our law office this week. We went with oil paintings so we didn’t need to pay for framing. Our conference room is huge, so we wanted large pieces 3-5 feet wide. We wanted something nice but neutral and went with flowers and beach scenes. I can send you pics if you leave a way for me to do so.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Not my arena, but the first thing that popped into my head was a variety of price ranges.
      My friend does x for art. Most of his stuff is up around $1k or so. Additionally these pieces are large and not everyone has space for such a large piece. I tried suggesting that he make lower priced stuff. He said it was not worth it to him, too labor intensive. But his higher priced stuff does not move fast enough to keep food on the table.

    5. Reba*

      I previously worked in an art consulting firm — we worked with architects, decorators, facilities managers to place art in their buildings, ranging from totally custom glass installations to sets of posters. If you are in or near a city large enough to have that kind of profession, I’d reach out to them, too. By “furniture store” I’m guess you mean a high-end place–you need an environment that can support the prices you should be asking!

      Based on the consulting experience, what we need is some of the following:

      -flexibility on sizes (can you print at custom sizes or can you prepare offerings in several sizes) — this also means a range of price points, which can help a lot when you pitch a dealer/store
      -may want unframed, but may want you to frame — develop a relationship with a pro framer so you can offer this with high quality (archival) materials and get reasonable prices. Nice neutral frames, though occasionally a low-key gold frame on a small landscape can be a knockout
      -multiples or sets — coordinated images that can be sold and hung in pairs, trios, gallery walls… this is important!!! This could be things shot at the same place/day/subject, or things in a similar colorway or scale
      -sign the prints and offer some limited editions — we want this to be different from a poster or print we could order from a wholesaler, and this is one of the ways
      -similar to above in terms of differentiating yourself — are there local landmark places or beauty of significance that your local clientele would recognize? That can be a great seller because it’s something special you offer

      Good luck!

      1. Reba*

        You might also consider reaching out to wholesalers/publishers as mentioned above. It’s usually a royalties business. One I used to use for corporate and healthcare art was McGaw.

      2. Art!*

        Thanks! To address your specific points–

        — Thanks for telling me about art consulting firms! I had no idea such folks existed. I will definitely see if there are any in my area, and reach out! Is there any specific way I should reach out? I’m really new to this!

        — Yeah, these are high end furniture stores. I ran the numbers, and while I could not afford to buy my own stuff, the one furniture store I approached didn’t blink at my price list, and it seems in line with their other merchandise.

        — I’m planning on offering print sizes from 8×10 to 20×30, with larger sizes available for custom work. Prices from $350-$2000.

        — I was planning to offer matted prints, as well as matted and framed prints– I’m doing the framing myself, but I’ll use all archival materials. I was planning on plain black wood frames as my default, but I can do other frame types if the clients want it.

        — Yeah! Definitely sets! Even aside from the decorator considerations, I like being able to tell a story about an area.

        — Definitely signed limited editions– I figured limited editions of 30 at the price points I’m offering.

        — Yeah, certainly. And, in general, I was planning on specializing in landscapes of the southwest, and I live in the southwest, and there are plenty of southwestern-themed furniture stores, so…yes!

        Anyway, thanks so much!

    6. GLAMWorker*

      I work in an Art Gallery. It is important to do what you like, make what you are good at, and the clients will come. Speak to local businesses about hanging your art there. They can either take a commission for the sale or buy it from you and sell it at a markup. This will get you more exposure than having just a studio. You will not find an art style that will please everyone, (look at the comments suggesting landscape, abstract, geometric, such a variety of styles), people will buy art that speaks to them.

  11. bassclefchick*

    Well, the first week of new software is almost over. Yay! Monday was….ugly. I’m slowly getting used to the new way to do my job. Once this new software is fully functional and everyone is comfortable with it, it’s going to be a really good tool. But dang, I need to get away from my coworkers. Good thing I have whiskey at home. Thanks for letting me vent, everyone! I knew this week was going to be hard, but this has been worse than I could have imagined.

    1. Ctrl Alt Delete*

      We celebrate Whiskey Fridays, at home, too!

      The first week of software stories – everyone has one. Mine was with the Volunteer Income Tax Assitance program (free tax prep for families with low incomes). I ran a tax center with 60 volunteers and that year the IRS contracted w/ a new software provider and it was MESSY! Waits, info losses, shutdowns, and pain and suffering.

    2. Software Upgrade Woes*

      I almost thought you were my coworker – but we’re on week 2! Week 1 was really bad, though we’re slowly but surely getting better. But I’ve worked 12 days straight, and I’m exhausted. Good luck with week 2, and rest up this weekend!

  12. Environmental Compliance*

    I feel like I am beating my head against a wall with my direct report. In this week’s edition of “….but why?”, DR decided to wait 5+ hours to notify me of a loss in chemical feed (required by our permit), in which they have been trained more than once and have been directly told more than once they need to notify me immediately so that I can notify the proper authorities in the required timeline. Now we have *yet another* violation (likely with another fine) because of inattention. They “forgot” to tell me. And apparently forgot that this is their *job* to be doing.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      When do you get to fire Direct Report for, essentially, gross negligence? That’s super frustrating.

        1. irene adler*

          Really. I trust there’s disciplinary action in store for DR.
          (How many hours are there in an “immediately”? Answer: zero)

          1. Kathenus*

            And from your past comments I’m guessing this is the case, but make sure that expectations are clear and backed up with written protocols, and that all violations are documented to have available when/if disciplinary action is taken. Good luck.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              I just went back and checked the written goals DR signed off on…. “minimal noncompliance events; if something is improperly operating, this needs to be addressed within 1 hour of finding the problem”, “must be able to make decisions independently, accurately, and timely, for example adjusting chemical dosing rates”, “communicating effectively & appropriately; if potential noncompliance, notifying the correct people in a timely fashion (specifically calling out myself)”, “following all SOPs” which would include the trainings DR has sat in on about 4 times in the past 2 months where reasonable response actions were gone over in great detail.

              I don’t know if I could have made it more clear that this exact thing that was just done is a Big No.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Not sure. My supervisor is not really feeling like he’s going to have my back on this one, so I’m a little hesitant on what to do next.

        1. Observer*

          Wait, your supervisor is not likely to have your back even though DR has REPEATEDLY caused violations and fines? Maybe it’s time to start looping in someone with the authority to either over-ride him or someone who can push him in the right direction.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yeah, I’ll be talking to one of our parent company’s staff who is very good at putting bugs in ears.

    2. Boop*

      If you can’t fire the DR now, start a PIP immediately. Your DR is costing the company money and reputation. But I would move to terminate now, based on the fact that they have been trained and told to report the loss immediately and elected not to do so.

    3. Observer*

      And if you haven’t been doing that put EVERY. SINGLE. THING. you tell them into an email AND a paper memo that gets put on his desk or wherever they will see it.

      You definitely want to fire the one. But you also want to document that their misbehavior was not a result of no one trying to get it right.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Yeah, it’s been documented very clearly. (Benefits of a past career in gov’t is that I have documentation drilled into my skull, lol)

        It’s just so, so frustrating. So frustrating. Incredibly frustrating, especially when DR does something good and I want to send over a Good Job for XYZ! and then it’s immediately followed by another screw up. Come on, I KNOW you can perform at a much higher bar, DR!

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            Yes – ad nauseum. Just talked to my supervisor, who has agreed to proceed with at the very least a suspension.

            $2500 of fines in 1 month, 6 violations in two months, a lot of extra trainings & resources given, a crap ton of sass & blame thrown around by DR, a threat of quitting (at this point, it may be for the best)… and since I’ve been at the company, a lot of misdirection & at times blatant lying.

            1. Minocho*

              Oh no, that’s not good at all.

              I have made mistakes (being in IT offers all sorts of opportunities to blow things up through small mistakes or wandering focus), and I hate doing it, but I am driven to confess my errors and then fix them. Misleading or lying just makes it all a million times worse. You can never trust that person or rely on them. ugh. So sorry. Internet sympathies!

            2. No more games*

              Next time they threaten to quit ask request they put their notice in writing and accept it. If they won’t take responsibility for their own errors that cost fines and money they will never improve or change how they are handling the position now.

            3. Not So NewReader*

              Oh this is so done here.

              Fire him. Seriously. 6 violations in 2 months? That’s almost 1 per week.
              If you are not allowed to fire him, the next time he threatens to quit let him know that you are not stopping him.
              I can’t picture any job I have had tolerating this at all.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                I do wish DR would have threatened to quit to me…. unfortunately, it was to another manager.

                I need a solid person in this position. Hoping the Monday meeting gets something going.

                1. valentine*

                  Is there an if-then document he can follow? Even if there are too many possibilities or he would rules-lawyer it, a second-to-last-ditch could be he has to look at an If column and follow the Then that says “Call Environmental Compliance”. Last-ditch effort: He calls you every hour on the hour.

                2. Environmental Compliance*

                  @ valentine – there actually is. There’s been multiple trainings on it. There’s even flow charts.

                  Unfortunately, it will not be a call me hour on the hour, as I have 8 million other things to do other than see if this one thing is hunky dory….which is part of DR’s job. My facility is a large Title V facility, and I have much more pressing things to do than babysit a tiny part of this facility (which would mean everything else suffers).

  13. Softcastle mccormick*

    Wish me luck—I have my first all-day corporate interview! It’s internal, which mitigates things, so I’m nervous but not panicking. Hopefully it’s a good fit for both myself and the company—it’s a different department from my own, and would be a great way to improve on some raw skills!

    1. alphabet soup*

      Good luck! Remember that you’re interviewing them as much as they’re interviewing you. :)

  14. Anonny*

    My husband feels cheated by his company and doesn’t know how to handle this situation.
    My husband, who is a Senior Teapot Engineer (and has been for 2 years, with the same company for 3 years), was groomed for a promotion that he didn’t get. His direct supervisor “Alan” told him a few weeks ago that he formally recommended him for a promotion to Teapot Manager. Alan has been hinting at a promotion for months, even telling my husband to put his name down as the Teapot Manager on their project because he thought it was inevitable. There is no reason not to believe Alan, as he has proven to be a transparent and honest manager. Alan’s boss, the Teapot Director “Dan”, oversees the promotions for their division but does not work with my husband on a daily basis. Dan and my husband have been in meetings together and interacted, but my husband confessed he isn’t even sure if Dan knows who he is (there have been email miscommunications where Dan sends emails meant for my husband to another coworker who is similar in appearance and age).
    My husband’s company only gives out promotions twice a year instead of as needed. Yesterday, Alan pulled my husband into a conference room and notified him that he was not getting the promotion – which means he won’t be up for consideration again for another 6 months. My husband feels duped and angry, as he has been doing the work of a Teapot Manager (running a $16m project) for the last year. The division my husband works in is small, and there is a need for Teapot Managers. He has lost a lot of confidence over this. He wants to request a meeting with both Alan and Dan to ask what factored into the decision, what he could improve upon, if he needs to be more involved with the company, etc. Alan said he doesn’t know why my husband didn’t get promoted and said as far as he knows, there haven’t been any complaints or issues with his work.
    What can my husband do in this situation, besides setting up a meeting with Dan? Has anyone else gone through this before, and how did you handle it?

    1. Quinalla*

      I would recommend setting up another meeting with Alan first to discuss what he needs to do to get to the promotion, what happened to what Alan led him to believe was a sure thing, etc. If all Alan told him was “you aren’t getting the promotion” with zero explanation, I feel he has some explaining to do.

      Then I would figure out how to get on Dan’s radar. Alan can help with that most likely, but your husband needs to figure out how to do that himself as well as it seems like that may have hurt him if Dan doesn’t really know who he is.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This sounds like a budget issue most likely. You say they need more Teapot Managers but the thing is, can they afford them? It’s odd that Alan is usually transparent but is now pulling the “IDK why but yeah, no promotion.” along with the fact that they only promote bi-annually [wtf that’s weird but yeah that’s company policy issue].

      He should speak with Alan and ask if he could meet with Dan as well. I wouldn’t go over Alan’s head because he’s been a good boss and may have his hands tied by some weirdness right now, so I’d just assume the best on his part. He probably over-spoke and overstepped by letting your husband think he was just going to be rubber stamped as soon as promotions were opened up.

      This reeks of money to me in a money position. I don’t blame your husband for his anger, he’s being strung along.

      1. Anonny*

        I agree that it was wrong for Alan to give false hope – maybe he thought his recommendation went further than it actually did. My husband did get a small raise (as all employees do), but no promotion. Alan wasn’t privy to the promotions/raises, but had to distribute the letter to my husband that said he was getting a raise. That’s why he knew there wasn’t a promotion without any explanation as to why not.

        You’re probably right that it’s a money thing with his department.

        1. CM*

          It’s Alan’s job to find out the reason at this point. So, I would say to ask Alan about it again and see what he plans to do to get that information. If it seems like he’s content to do nothing, THEN I would bring up the possibility of meeting with Dan. But it sounds like he’s been pretty proactive so far, so, if your husband tells him it’s important, he will probably promise to talk to Dan about it and try to get an answer.

          (FWIW, if Alan seemed totally confident that he had the authority to promote people right up to the moment this happened, it may be the case that this is a slight against Alan more than your husband, especially if Dan doesn’t know your husband. It might be that Alan should normally be able to promote people, but Dan’s blocking him for some reason. That wouldn’t make the outcome better, but it would mean Alan wasn’t trying to trick anyone.)

      2. CupcakeCounter*

        I had an Alan boss and my Dan was several levels up. Alan was always straight with me and after many, many months simply started showing instead of telling. He gave me copies of all the official promotion request documents where he had made his case and requested the promotion, his boss agreeing and signing off, and the next level up also giving their approval. Dan was always the one who never signed (and he had final approval).
        By the time I left I had 4 versions of this request and when Dan requested a meeting with me to try to counter my offer I told him no. Since he was the VP that didn’t fly well so he came to my desk to have a informal little chat and tell me how valuable I was and if we could speak privately he had a counter for me. I pulled out those 4 promotion requests and told him he obviously didn’t think I was all that valuable so I didn’t really want to hear his counter.
        I enjoyed that a lot. My Alan also gave notice that week.

    3. CmdrShepard4ever*

      This could also be an issue of Alan mistakenly thought his word carried more weight than it really did with Dan. Curious was the position just not filled or did someone else get it? I agree with Quinalla about asking Alans’s help to try and get on Dan’s radar.

      1. Anonny*

        As far as we know, the position was not filled. Alan confirmed that he has not heard any news of another Teapot Manager coming into their project.

        I agree that he needs to get on Dan’s radar, but it is difficult when he physically at their project site multiple times a week.

    4. AnotherAlison*

      Hmm. I have seen this before. I am an engineering project manager. I have coworkers in my group who have been promised this title & do the work, and don’t get the promotion. Sometimes, I know that my boss doesn’t like person X, doesn’t think they’re qualified, and will never give them that title. For us, it isn’t really a budget issue because people don’t get raises with promotions anyway. You get a raise at annual raise time, and you get it independent of your title, although a 3% raise as an engineer 5 may become a 5% raise as a PM 1 if you got the promotion during that period.

      I would talk to Dan and find out the reason, but I may also network with other divisions and see if there is another group that fits his skills. One of the people my boss doesn’t want to promote has been offered the role he wants in other departments. Sometimes, you just aren’t the right fit within one group, but you’re contributions will be recognized in another one.

      1. Anonny*

        Yes, this is a great idea. Since the division is small, there are only so many projects to go around and I think he’s considering switching to another division if there truly isn’t growth for him in his current area.

    5. Engineer Girl*

      Many times upper management or HR gets into a weird cost cutting mode and blocks promotions. Since Dan is not familiar with your husband he didn’t push for him or try to override HR.

      I’d have the meeting with Alan and talk to him. Remind him that the manager work is being done without the appropriate compensation.

      There’s two things at play here:
      Dan doesn’t know him. Get your name in front of Dan. You can do this with special assignments and also making yourself valuable to other groups who will also advocate with Alan for your promotion.

      The other side of this is that it will be more expensive if your husband leaves and they have to hire a manager from outside at full market rate.

      Many times HR and upper management think that engineers are interchangeable. They are not. A good engineer is 10x more productive than an average one.

    6. PopJunkie42*

      This could be my husband. He was trained for several years to be the replacement of his supervisor (who is very upwardly mobile and always looking for training/promotions). But they got a new branch director a few months before the job opened up and he ended up hiring an outside person. Who has been awful. My husband wasn’t “promised” the job but had basically been taking on extra duties and training for it for a long time and it was a huge blow to him…and still is.

      He didn’t get much good info from either his boss or the branch manager about why it happened, but he did go around to another former supervisor and some others in the company he trusted to get feedback. It was slightly helpful. At the end of the day, he may never know. I’m encouraging him to leave bc this isn’t the first promotion he’s been turned down for (all while people telling him: they love him, he interviewed well, he would be great in the position, except they just had this one perfect person come in…) so at a certain point, you have to go where the opportunities are.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      First, I hate hinting. I really hate hinting. It’s super annoying when bosses hint. They should know better.

      I understand Alan seems like a good boss but he promises things he cannot deliver. The rule is if I don’t have it in my hand then I do not have it to deliver. Therefore I cannot tell an employee that it’s theirs.
      I think Alan overstepped for whatever reason.

      I agree that your husband should ask to meet with Alan and Dan and find out what happened and how he can be assured of this promised promotion next time. If nothing else, he may learn that Alan is not the boss he thinks Alan is.

      1. valentine*

        what happened and how he can be assured of this promised promotion next time
        I would separate those, with the first part being with just Alan, so he doesn’t take over because he feels defensive and is being called out in front of his boss. But a meeting with Dan should maybe come first.

    8. Clementine*

      I may be characterized as encouraging people to start job hunting prematurely, but I think this is a case where it is justified. There is evidence that the OP’s husband is losing out for political reasons. If he does succeed eventually after complaining, there’s no guarantee there won’t be resentment. This does sound like a textbook case where the company will have an instant counteroffer as soon as he gives notice (like a poster above experienced).

  15. DaniCalifornia*

    Applying to jobs has been frustrating. The sheer volume of jobs/job titles/pay ranges out there that I can apply to has been overwhelming. (For reference I’ve worked a long admin career that pays a good salary) In the last week I’ve applied to 30+ jobs, many where I have to create a log in/pw, set up a profile, re enter my entire resume because their software *never* fills it in properly when you upload your resume, and answer endless questions. Ok, fine that’s the game and I have to play along.

    But then to find job ads that are so similar yet pay so differently is frustrating. I’ve applied to job ads that read like top level EA positions to CEO’s and require college degrees + 5 years experience only to be told later that they pay $10/hr. Most don’t list salary at all so I feel like it’s always a crapshoot if someone does contact me. My engineer husband as at least some semblance as he applies to job that they will be in a certain range. The positions I find run the range from $9/hr – 90K. -_- Some are upfront about salary on the phone (God bless them) and other’s I have to go through assessment tests, phone interviews, and in person interviews before finding out both parties have wasted their time.

    I am about 2 years out from finishing a degree in a completely unrelated field (less if I could be a FT student) and am so tempted to accept the student loans and find a PT low rung, no fuss, stress free, office job. But neither my husband or I have any student loans and ideally I would like to keep it that way. Has anyone done this? I fear that potential employers see I will graduate in a few years and won’t want to hire me. But keeping my education off my resume has limited me as well. I think I could make a job 1/2 my salary work if it were PT and I used student loans between my husbands job and being more frugal without touching our savings.

    1. Jellyfish*

      I attended grad school full time and took a part time, entry level job in the field I wanted to move into. When I graduated, I had both the degree and the experience, and I was able to find a really solid position in my field pretty quickly.
      My spouse worked full time through all this, and I took out student loans, but it was a worthwhile investment for me. It’s not the right path for everyone though.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        That is what I’m thinking of doing. I’m in admin right now but studying Graphic Information Technology online with a combined bachelors/masters program. I want to get into UX Design and have even been applying to more tech companies/design firms/marketing firms for admin roles but nothing’s panned out so far. I am burned out from 8 years of tax seasons and even my husband has said if we get to December with no new job I will quit. I know if I could fully concentrate on school I could build a better portfolio and starting salary for UX Designers or something related in that field would be able to cover at most 2 years of loans. My school is reasonably priced and accredited. Spacing out school so much is stressing me out as well. Thanks for your input!

        1. BethDH*

          Can you ask someone at your school about job placement recommendations? They may have ideas about which companies hire paid entry level PT or intern roles. You imply that you’re considering a range of things related to UX design, so that might also give you some sense of what precise aspects of UX-related roles are important to you, which will make your later applications more focused.

      2. Federal Middle Manager*

        This would be my recommendation too. You don’t say what you’re going to grad school for, and different degrees have wildly different success rates of landing a job in their chosen field. Experience in the field, even entry level experience, makes HR much more likely to consider your resume than school alone.

    2. Ruby314*

      I think it would be worthwhile to speak with a financial advisor who can help you plan out all the factors, like loan interest against future earnings, plus any future plans/goals that require money, like children, home buying, etc.

      But speaking as someone with a lot of student loan debt (mostly from grad school), if you can take a little longer and get your degree without debt, I would recommend taking that route.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        That is a good idea, thank you. I think we are looking at around 20k for the next 2 years or so as I’m getting a combined BS/MS online. And the field I’m going into pays way more than an admin career. But I don’t want to do anything stupid that could jeopardize future plans like you mentioned. We have a house but are looking into adoption. I am on board with taking longer if absolutely necessary. I struggle with being a non tradition student who is on her 16 year degree plan :/ (Messed around as a student, took breaks, didn’t know what I wanted to do. Finally started pursuing a clear path in 2015)

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is very typical for an admin/EA role. It depends drastically on the company and how they value your work, so some are like “This is just filing papers [in their eyes] therefore it’s minimum wage work!” others will see it as an critical role where you’re the right-hand to someone very-important and throw a wad of cash at you.

      Unlike engineer work or something that’s extra specific and takes specific skills that you have to be trained for extensively.

      Schooling is often a waste. I’ve seen so many people become FT students and then rack up their degrees and still be stuck with the same issue when it comes to job hunting that you’re running into now. Anyone who requires a BA from an EA is a garbage company [not literally at a garbage facility] and therefore should be immediately rejected in my experience. As you see, many just want to still pay you $10 an hour. For student debt? LOL no.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        My degree is in a tech field and I will be finding a job in that when I finish it, not staying in EA type roles.

        I agree a degree for an EA is dumb. I’ve never met anyone in college who had said “Oh I’m here to be an admin.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I’ve seen people with degrees struggle to get into tech as well unfortunately so my gut still says that you don’t want to take on student debt for that either. Since really, getting a foot in the door is always key and the hardest part of anything.

          And there are scam programs that they try to sell people to do administrative work but those are usually on the junior college level. I have seen them listed on resumes and they kill me deep down on the inside where my heart should be if it hadn’t shriveled up after seeing solid hard working people struggle for years trying to find work.

        2. techPerson*

          I’d recommend being careful. A number of people I know suspect there’s a bubble about to pop in tech. There’s only so long before companies realize that “cloud” and “blockchain” and “AI” aren’t actually magic words that create money from almost nothing.

      2. Ella P.*

        Thank you!

        At my current company (job searching now) they required an MA for the EA to the CEO. They could only find one person who had that degree so they hired her right away.

        Not only is she unskilled (meaning she emails me, another EA and my Senior Exec boss (!) to ask if her boss needs a visa for a certain country, etc.) she is actually one of the nastiest people I’ve ever worked with. And I mean rude to external stakeholders and even client contacts.

        It’s beyond comprehension…

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      I got a well-paid PT position at the school where I went – the commute was great and they always worked around my schedule. Data entry level stuff that could be done anytime plus a small discount on tuition and books.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        Unfortunately my school is all done online and the actual campus is at ASU. But I have been looking at some of my local universities.

    5. PopJunkie42*

      Are you going to school in person or online? My university gives staff tuition reduction – you have to be careful because it’s taxed as a benefit, but it’s soooo worth it if you can take advantage. I’m always encouraging my friends who are enrolled to try and find a part-time job with benefits (we pay at 20+ hours per week) and do what they can. I’ve seen jobs for our campus Starbucks, ticket sales at athletic events, of course admin positions of all kinds…lots of interesting stuff out there.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      If you’re actually in California it should not take all this I have to go through assessment tests, phone interviews, and in person interviews before finding out both parties have wasted their time. to get them to give you the range. If you’ve been as far as a phone screen, you’re probably far enough in the process that they’re required by law to provide the range when you ask for it.

    7. Kat in VA*

      Admin is one of those weird ones where you can tell what the company thinks of good admin support (and how much to pay them). The companies that realize we’re essential to the running of things behind the scenes tend to pay from well to very well, and the companies that consider admins the coffee/copying/clean the kitchen types pay very poorly. The trick is finding the former!

  16. What’s with Today, today?*

    Some of you may remember I’m on a board hiring a new ED for a non-profit and the former ED’S resignation went fine and then the notice period was rough. You were right we are finding all sorts of, um, interesting things.

    Just a snippet, but this is a recent one:

    Her final act as ED was to mail out 500 directories she & staff have been working on for two years. They should have gone out in June 2018, but she had blamed an unnamed staffer for losing the files and pushed them back a year(we’ve now learned from the staff that she accidentally deleted the files herself). We were pretty adamant they had to go out before she left as they had finally been finished. She put a copy of her letter of resignation plus all her contact info at her new organization and a goodbye note into all 500 directories.

    We used to have a donor that gave tens of thousands of dollars. He stopped last year. We had asked ED about that last year, and she told us she’d approached him like always and he declined due to a recent divorce and finances. Okay. Now that she is gone, he wants to come back! Now we have found out that at 3 a.m. one morning, for some unknown reason, the former ED, irritated about something that isn’t important here, fired off an angry email to him! It was so offensive (we’ve now seen it), THAT is why he stopped being a donor and the former ED knew that was why he dropped his donations the very same morning! Staff knew, but no one ever told the board. We’d probably have fired her.

    When you know something is wrong, tell the board (I totally know that doesn’t always work and can backfire, but we really would have liked to have known, and like to think we’re approachable and kind).

      1. China Beech*

        WOW, that is next level banacrackers, especially the part about her including her contact info and resignation letter in the directories. :Unprofessional” doesn’t even begin to cover that! Glad it’s all be revealed and things are improving! How do people like that get these big jobs though?!

        1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

          It reminds me of the short answer question here from some time ago, about a college alumni director leaving and basically sending an email blast to the entire alumni base letting them know she was leaving and asking for job leads. So, so unbelievably inappropriate!!

        2. Fact & Fiction*

          I agree that it’s unprofessional but it sounds like this may actually be a blessing in disguise for the nonprofit! At last everyone she offended will know she’s gone and hopefully come back if she chased them off!

    1. Behind Anemone Lines*

      Appropriate staff training for how to whistleblow, in a non-profit, was lacking. I hope that the Board is reviewing the employee handbook on how to better prepare staff and then, hosting a training on how the process works, if not ensuring the new ED understands the process, as well as their role and responsibilities, too.

      There are several reasons why they didn’t report their boss. One- some may not have felt it was a reportable offense to the Board. Another reason could be is that they don’t know the parameters of how to report their boss, to whom, with what information, and follow-up. They don’t know how the Board is to take the information and the process of review and resolution.

      If you simply say, ‘Tell the Board’ which person on the Board? The person the staff member works with on a Committee, the President, the head of Finance if it’s a money issue? And who reports it? The Coordinator who saw it first goes to the Board or do they go to their boss and then together they go to the Board?

      As a Board, you believe you’re approachable and kind, which is fine, but you’re governance not the day to day managers. It all backfires when you don’t have a process. No process means staff will come to you for all sorts of grievances, that should be managed at lower levels. No process also means that they’ll never come to you. You have to set expectations and parameters for engagement.

      Example: our non-profit has two new leadership positions. One person is not doing well at all. Established staff, who have a good relationship with their kind and approachable Board members, are sharing their grievances with said Board members. This then turns the ear of the Board inward versus up and outward. They’re concerned about this new person when it’s not within their purview and grievances should be going to the ED.

      1. Anathema Device*

        Mm. Don’t say: tell the board. Say: here’s the number for the independent whistleblowing hotline you can call.

        1. Behind Anemone Lines*

          Unless the nonprofit contracts with one, there’s no reason to say that either. The Board exists for this type of responsibility, but it has to be well considered, organized, and implemented.

        2. What’s with Today, today?*

          “Tell the board.”

          That was a super general comment I was making to the commentariat.

          1. Behind Anemone Lines*

            I understand. As I consider AAM a learning resource, a super general comment doesn’t help educate others on what to expect in appropriate board/staff relations. Sounds like your Board will be working on improving the whistleblower policies for staff. Good for everyone.

          2. Observer*

            True. But Behind Anemone lines has a good point.

            No one told you even though they should have. Why? This provides a good starting place for figuring out the answer.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I agree with this. Not to try and pile on you “What’s with Today, today?” but if people did not report this to the board it is partly the boards fault for not making employees feel like they could approach the board. It could be that the board did everything right but employees just chose not to approach the board. How much contact does the board have with lower level staff? I’am not just referring to official contact but just friendly contact, participating in the direct mission of the non-profit. As “lines” said make sure there is a process in place for contacting the board with issues.

        1. What’s with Today, today?*

          We are in a town of less than 25,000. We see the staff daily. One of the staffers is best friends with a board member. Like, they go on family vacations together. I go to church with two staffers, the husband of one is our preacher. We’ve been told they just didn’t want her to get in trouble. She’s likable. They like her. It’s very hard to hire people that don’t know each other in a town like ours. We can’t pay enough to bring someone from out of state necessarily (and the nature of our work means they need to be super familiar with our town). I appreciate the advice, but I’m just really just venting here, and didn’t actually ask for any advice. There are policies in place, staff didn’t use them because they didn’t want to get her fired. We’re addressing that. Again, I’m just venting.

          1. Observer*

            I’m glad that you are addressing this. I’m going to say that you really need to think about why they saw her doing this really harmful stuff and STILL put “save her job” above the sensible and correct thing. Because if you don’t figure out why they thought that way, you’re going to have a hard time EFFECTIVELY addressing this.

          2. Just my thoughts*

            If you just need to vent and don’t want any advice, maybe an advice column comment section isn’t the best place for it. All kinds of people read posts here, and I think people have brought up some very good points that will help others reading, not just you.

        2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Agreed. I worked in a nonprofit that was rife with various ethical, pay, and safety violations.

          If you complained, you were retaliated against. Upset that your boss asked you to work off the clock? You lose your hours. Upset about racial or gender discrimination? Never be promoted again. Talk to HR to double check a policy issue? Expect to be micromanaged for the next 90 days as they try to find a mistake that’s cause for termination, either for you or one of your trusted subordinates. Report a safety violation? You’re going to be working 7 days a week for the next two months.

          HR (and probably the board) was fully unaware this was going on.

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I missed the “the” in you sentence and read it as:

          “In my case, our employee handbook was updated last week before I was born.”

          It made me crack up. A one week old babe with a job and already jaded at all the stuff they have to deal with.

    2. stelms_elms*

      The ED at my former organization had a policy that if we spoke to anyone on the board except the chair about any complaints we had (or anything really), we would be immediately fired. And she made darn sure she was always best friends with whomever the board chair was at the time.

      1. Behind Anemone Lines*

        That’s awful. While there’s a sensible line to be had between staff and Board, but the no line tactic in both directions means absolute paranoia on the ED’s part.

      1. EinJungerLudendorff*

        But you’re doing it on an advice column, so people will try to help you regardless.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Holy shitballs, that donor thing. It’s good that he wants to come back, but offending a major donor like that could have really hurt you.

    4. Hello!*

      Hi! I am the previous writer about being a new staff member and literally the entire staff wants to oust our non-profit’s ED. He has done plenty of horrific actions as a leader, but I won’t get back into them. We are too scared to go to the board since quite a few members are receiving financial incentives from him.

      If you want the employees to know that you are approachable, make that clear to them. Tell each and every employee that, assuming they don’t have an HR dept., that the board is their HR and they can come to you without pause.

      1. KGB*

        Is it possible you could begin by sending a letter to the board anonymously and tell them where to dig to find the evidence of these actions? Otherwise is there another way you could out him either to the board or to the community as a whole for past behavior by sending them the proof?

  17. ginkgo*

    Phone interview this morning – wish me luck!

    And a question: This would be my first Llama Groomer role, and the hiring manager who I’m about to speak with is actually hosting a panel on Breaking Into Llama Grooming in a couple weeks. (I assume I’ll have heard back about this phone interview either way by then, but maybe not.) Is it awkward for me to go? Does the awkwardness level change depending on whether I move forward in the interview process or not? Anything I should keep in mind?

    1. L.S. Cooper*

      I have to assume the hiring manager will be aware that you’re wanting to break into llama grooming, and the fact that they’re hosting the panel suggests that they care at least a little bit about helping other people break into llama grooming as well. I feel like it should be fine to go!

      And good luck! Break a leg, etc.

    2. Jill March*

      I can see how it may feel awkward if you don’t move forward in the process, but I think going anyway would only reflect well on you. I don’t know if you plan on networking with the hiring manager directly at the event, but your attendance would show that you are serious about breaking into the field and may help you stand out for future roles or positions in other companies where the hiring manager may have influence.

    3. ginkgo*

      Thanks for the well wishes everyone! Inconclusive yet kind of awesome result: The hiring manager said she wanted to be honest that they were looking for someone with llama grooming experience and that several such people had already interviewed, although it sounded like I (despite my llama wrangling background) had the right mindset for thinking through llama grooming issues. Basically she was really transparent about the fact that I didn’t quite have enough experience, but said I was welcome to move on to the next step (a llama grooming test) and was honest about my chances. I took that as an opening to mention that I was planning on attending her panel, and she was like “I was actually thinking about mentioning how I just interviewed a super smart woman with a llama wrangling background, and how people like that can make the transition to llama grooming!” It was just really refreshing because I feel like I’ve often been the candidate who they interview despite not having quiiiite enough experience, but no one explicitly says that and I’m left wondering what I could have done better. This way leaves the door open to me unexpectedly blowing them out of the water on the practical test, or possibly being contacted about a junior llama grooming position down the line, but if I don’t end up advancing in this interview process I don’t have to wonder what went wrong. And now I feel no awkwardness about attending the panel, and have potentially made a useful contact. :)

  18. New ED*

    How do you determine when issues related to communication, following directions, getting along with others, and other soft skills outweigh solid work product in retaining an employee? We have a staff person who works really odd hours (we have flexible scheduling bit expect everyone to generally be in during core 10-4 hours), is defensive in response to any feedback or correction, frequently assumes that general instructions to staff don’t apply to him, and likes to set his own priorities rather than follow the organizations priorities. The obvious question is, why does he still work there? And it is because when he does do the work he needs to do, he does better work than anyone at his level. In trying to figure out how to weight that against the other problems and when it may be time to let him go.

    1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

      Does it affect other employees and their work?
      He might have a ripple effect that lowers everyone’s work quality.

      1. New ED*

        I think it effects the people he does work for, so are involved in these discussions, but not the others at his level because the work streams are completely separate. It may impact the culture negatively which could impact others but we’re not seeing anything concerning on this front yet

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          You say “when he does do the work he needs to do, he does better work than anyone at his level” how often is that? If you have great work 50% of the time and no work the other 50% overall that is not very good. Also remember just because he is currently the best one on the team, it doesn’t mean there is no one better out in the world. My general belief is there is always someone better, faster, stronger, smarter. If you hire someone you could hire someone who does great work 100% that’s an exaggeration but you get the point.

          You say when this person does work it effects people he does work for, how does it impact them, do they have to pick up the slack. Is the work that does not get done non critical work? It is really hard to say when enough is enough with out knowing all the details, some positions can have a higher/lower threshold of slacking.

    2. Interplanet Janet*

      Is he just defensive or does he also ignore the feedback/correction?

      I work with someone like this. He is a nice enough guy, and his work is good, but it drives me batsh*t crazy how he just goes off on his own and finds something he’s interested in and starts working on that while ignoring the work that was assigned to him. AND he butts into conversations and projects that were assigned to someone else because he finds them more interesting than his own.

      The real damage, as far as I’m concerned, is that he is screwing up the team and workplace dynamics for everyone. We have always had a lot of leeway in terms of priority, for example. As a general rule, if we’re given a small task and it turns out to be a tip of the iceberg and we get motivated to take a week to clear out the whole iceberg, that’s been acceptable. If we’ve overheard a discussion about something we’ve done work on in the past, it’s been fine to interject with our knowledge and/or an offer to help. But now that he’s trampled all over the loose boundaries that were well understood, EVERYONE is more on edge.

      If your employee is defensive, but responds to correction, then please, for the luvagod CORRECT HIM. Your other employees will thank you for it. If he doesn’t respond to correction, as someone who has been stuck with this problem in a colleague, then yes, I think it’s time to think about getting rid of him.

      1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

        I think you just said everything that needed to be said about this!!

      2. New ED*

        Thanks, this is really helpful perspective. To clarify on the priority issue, it’s not that he’s taking on anyone else’s work but rather that we say “research what happened in the last year on A, B, and C and get back to us by the end of the week with a one page memo on each by the end of the week.” Then, he does research on the fifty year history of A and provides a 10 page memo on A. I think a lot of it may be transitioning from being a student in an advanced degree program to working in a professional setting but the patience of his supervisors is wearing thin.

        1. Rezia*

          I’m don’t think that delivering a 10 page memo is actually “good performance”… if you’re asked for a 1 page memo, you should deliver a 1 page memo.

          I would tell him directly that he needs to follow the brief as part of his performance expectations.

          1. New ED*

            Yes, we have is just not quite sinking in. The reason we say it is excellent performance is that there is a very steep learning curve for our type of work. Most junior staff can only comprehend about a quarter of the content we want, not their fault, just the nature of our very niche field, he gets about 90% of it.

        2. Interplanet Janet*

          Honestly, our guy isn’t usually taking ON anybody else’s work. He just sort of butts into it and wants to be involved in lots of long discussions about how it should be done, etc, and then still leaves the original person to do it. Which is fine, useful even, in moderation. But at this point it feels to me more like he just sort does whatever he feels like doing. If it happens to match up with what he was assigned, great, but if not … well, nobody in management seems to say anything, which is what makes me nuts.

      1. New ED*

        I understand this point but would say that I don’t think it’s deliberate. I do think he may be on the spectrum or have some mental health challenges. However, regardless we do need him to be following direction.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          It does sound deliberate if the instructions given to him were “Write a 1 page report each on A, B, and C” and he gives you a 10 page report on A and ignores B and C altogether. There’s really no room for misunderstanding if you ask “Where are the 1 page reports on A, B, and C?” and the answer is, he didn’t do them.

          I’m an academic at heart. We may *want* to dig deep into a subject that interests us, but if that’s not the job, then we don’t do it. If he gets defensive because that’s all he wants to do, then he’s in the wrong job and he should be set free to find the right fit.

          1. New ED*

            I think it’s that he can’t possibly understand that his memo could be of use without the 9 pages of background and he, for whatever reason, seems incapable of understanding that we have the skills to get what is needed from the one pager. That said, you’re completely right that this isn’t the right fit. I think we’re just trying to figure out if any of this is coachable and wet can make it work or we need to figure out an exit strategy. I’m leaning towards that but having trouble pulling the trigger. This advice has all been helpful in pushing me in that direction.

            1. Observer*

              If he really can’t understand how you could possibly get any use out of the one pager, he is actually missing a SIGNIFICANT “hard” skill – he doesn’t understand the subject well enough to figure out how to abstract the most salient pieces. If he came to you with 1.5 pages, that would be one thing but *10* when you asked for one? That’s a hard fail right there. It’s not that he did “too much”, it’s that he DID THE WRONG THING. And he doesn’t get it.

              Also, regardless of whether *he* thinks the one pager is useful or not, he needs to do as he is instructed. Period. The only exceptions to that kind of thing is when there is a safety, ethical or legal issue at play. That isn’t the case here.

        2. Observer*

          People on the spectrum are generally capable of following instructions. So, unless there is something else going on here that you haven’t mentioned there is nothing to indicate that he’s on the spectrum. And even if he is on the spectrum or there are other circumstances you haven’t mentioned, it’s STILL not relevant, that’s not a highly likely reason for not following instructions.

          People on the spectrum often get a bad rap. It’s not useful, and it’s not fair to people on the spectrum to perpetuate that by equating unrelated poor behavior with “on the spectrum.”

          1. only acting normal*

            The only thing spectrumy that chimed with me was ‘works odd hours’ + ‘we expect 10-4 core hours’. If it were me and the written rule says flexible hours, I would not catch the unwritten ‘but really you need to be in 10-4’. If that *is* the implicit rule, make it explicit. Everything else is failing to follow simple clear instruction – not an ASD problem.

            1. New ED*

              There are other issues that suggest ASD, not the lack of instruction following specifically. And the core hours is a written rule, in our handbook. We do offer some flexibility, even within the core hours but that is earned and we want junior staff in the office core hours to ensure they can get guidance and real time feedback on the work. This is mentioned explicitly on staff meetings.

                1. only acting normal*

                  Honestly most of the “symptoms” of ASD are experienced internally by the person, not manifested externally in an obvious way (certainly not by being a general arsehole, which is what usually seems to prompt speculation).
                  If he’s not doing the work he’s assigned, breaking office rules, and generally causing issues with coworkers, ASD wouldn’t be an excuse even if he did have it.

              1. Observer*


                ASD is a total red herring here. For everyone’s sake, don’t even let the issue be mentioned in passing. NONE of the behavior you mention is typically a symptom of ASD. And what you describe ranges from “legitimate problem” to “time to start on a firing plan”.

                Don’t muddy the waters. Stick to what you know is happening: He is not complying with written policies; he repeatedly fails to follow specific instructions; he frequently fails to get his work done; does not take instruction and correction well; and seems to lack understanding of his subject at a high level.

                And, no, what you describe is NOT solid work product either.

    3. Kathenus*

      Agree with the prevailing thought of the other comments that it is a big issue in a lot of ways – for possibly setting a bad example/precedent for other employees, demoralizing them if they see this and feel he’s held to a lower standard than they are, etc. Your initial comment doesn’t specify if there has been a very clear conversation with him about this, other than the reference to defensiveness. The conversation can be along the lines of ‘you have a lot of great skills and do xx work very well, but success in this job also includes following all staff instructions and priorities, taking feedback constructively, and whatever other things he needs to improve on’. Make it clear that he has a lot of positive skills, but the ‘soft skills’ are just as important and are required to succeed in the role. For instructions/priorities, make sure they’re in writing so that there’s no grey area in what direction the whole team is given. If there hasn’t been this type of clear discussion, I’d have it first because you might turn him around, and even if you don’t you’ll have given him every possibility to succeed and let the choice be his. Good luck.

      1. New ED*

        Yes, we have had several conversations with him, his supervisors (his work involves reporting to two supervisors) and myself. We’ve been very clear with him that what we are seeing is very concerning. Often things we address directly do change temporarily but then we go back to the same pattern.

        1. Observer*

          Often things we address directly do change temporarily but then we go back to the same pattern.

          That’s a huge red flag. Because that indicates that he will not change. The only possibility is if he knows with crystal clarity that his job depends on these changes sticking. At that point it’s going to depend on why his changes have not stuck.

    4. ten-four*

      I think if you’re asking the question then the scales have tipped towards firing him.

      In general, I think of people’s work as having a ceiling and a floor: there’s a floor, which is the minimum level of being good at your core job and playing well with others. And on the ceiling side, there’s a point at which excelling at your core job hits diminishing returns. It varies for different jobs (which is why complete jags who sell millions get to stay in sales/biz dev jobs), but for most jobs someone who’s Really Good at X isn’t exponentially different from someone who’s good at X. If the good at X person is a good communicator/teammate, then 9 times out of 10 I’d rather have that person that Genius Dillweed.

    5. Hey Karma, Over here.*

      Think about it this way:
      I would be the best damn llama groomer you ever saw if I only had to groom the llamas I wanted to groom when I wanted to groom them.
      I would do great work too, if I could pick the day I feel like doing it.
      My work would be better than everyone else’s if, on the day I choose to work, I only focus on that and ignore every other part of my job.

    6. Jill March*

      In my experience, soft skills are the hardest to teach while most technical skills can be learned. If the tech skills are hard to find and this employee is a superstar when it comes to work produced, are there ways you can mitigate the negative effects of their weaknesses? How important is it that people work from 10-4? Is work from home a viable option? Can feedback happen over email?

      I’m sympathetic if this is the result of things that can’t be helped, like health or disability issues or people who are neuroatypical. I went through a period where health issues were affecting my work and thankfully, my company worked with me to develop a plan to accommodate my needs while minimizing the effect on my coworkers. That last bit was tricky, but my manager and I were creative and we figured out something that worked.

      The key was that I was very aware of the problem and extremely willing (and grateful) to do what I could to make the situation work. (Plus, I was very good at my job and valuable to the company.) Does the employee recognize the problem and are they willing to put in the effort to find a solution and make it work? That would be the deciding factor for me.

    7. Observer*

      You say “when he does the work”. The major question you need to answer is how often is it that he actually does what he needs to do? A lot depends on the nature of the work, but I can’t see ANY situation where less than 75% is tenable.

      The other question is what effect is it having on others. If he’s making the jobs of other people more difficult or making the workplace difficult for others, the cost of his attitude is too high.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      How much do you need him to do the soft skills?
      How hard would it be to find a replacement for the hard skills? (Data scientists are hot / expensive right now, might be hard to replace)
      What has been the impact of his work? Is he getting close enough often enough to justify his pay?
      Is there any real impact to his ‘weird hours’?

      You say he’s not disrupting other flows, and I don’t see anything in this that supports an ‘insubordination’ charge. It seems that you have looked for external impacts and not found any. That means you can focus on the actual cost and benefit of his work. Let go of trappings like ‘is his butt in the seat’ and focus on the value he brings – is it enough to justify his pay?

    9. Lilysparrow*

      If he doesn’t follow instructions or assigned priorities, how could he be delivering solid work product?

      It’s not solid if it’s not the work product you need, when you need it.

    10. CM*

      I had somebody kind of like this once, and I’m not sure I handled it well. In retrospect, I think it might have helped to quantify what was happening a little bit more. Like, how often is he actually there? In real numbers? How many hours does he actually work on how many days? How much does he produce? How long does it take to produce it? Etc.

      Maybe this is someone who you could be paying to jump into certain projects as an independent contractor but he’s not pulling his weight as a full time employee.

      I guess what I’m suggesting is, find a way to answer the question, “How often do we pay him to do nothing or something other than the job we thought we were paying him to do?” and then see if you’re okay with that or not.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Is he worth losing other staff over?
      How many staff members can the company lose before they consider it a problem?

      Your staff is being expected to manage this guy. Are they getting extra pay to manage him?

      The concept that he is better at X than anyone else is a trap. He can use that against your company in any way he chooses to get whatever it is he wants.

      In my opinion, getting along with others is 50% of any job. What if everyone else there interacted the way he did, what would happen to your company?

      My magic number is 3. Once is an honest mistake. Twice is a yellow flag. Three times is a pattern. You see something three times you got a pattern and it needs to be addressed and changed. This is a fellow adult, not a child, you don’t have to endless correct for the same misbehavior.

    12. ..Kat..*

      Keep in mind that other employees may be leaving because of him. If this is so, that raises the cost of keeping him quite a bit.

  19. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    How do I get better at communicating and keeping my managers up to date?

    I struggle with communicating consistently with my colleagues and managers. I have a very free and flexible job, but it’s something I’ve gotten feedback about every year. My performance is great, but my managers say they’re not always sure of where I am and what I’m doing on a given day.

    I know it’s a bad, bad trait and I am working hard to improve it but I’m not quite there yet. It’s a combination of ADHD, impostor syndrome and some other stuff. I know that’s not an excuse.

    I try to establish routines and structure but my automatic reaction is to leave my bosses and colleagues alone, especially if I’m struggling. Or sometimes I decide to work from home, feel bad about it and don’t tell anyone because I feel ashamed. Thus making it into a problem when it wasn’t. I also always feel I’m not really performing as well as I should and that makes me not want to tell anyone what I’ve been doing…

    I’m this way in my personal life as well, but it’s just not acceptable in a work setting.

    I just don’t know how I can improve this. I just don’t have the… grit to stick to my own structures. Help?

    (I don’t mind tough love but this is hard and shameful for me to admit. Also, while this causes me much anxiety, my employer are satisfied with my work and my performance)

    1. londonedit*

      Are your managers OK in general with you setting your own schedules, and it’s just the communication of it that they want more of?

      Do you have a shareable calendar that you could use to indicate where you’ll be and what hours you’ll be working? That way, you could just change it to ‘working from home’ and your managers could just have a look and see where you were going to be for the week/the next day etc. The way it works in my office is that you can totally decide to work from home, but you do need to email your boss/the immediate members of your team. You just say ‘Hi all, I’ll be working from home tomorrow – available on phone and email’, or sometimes even ‘I’ll be working from home tomorrow – I’ll be working on the big report for most of the morning, so will log out of email, but call me if you need me’. Can you start a system of doing something similar?

      1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

        Yes, they’re fine with that and encourage it (not all the time of course), it’s the “telling people where I am so they don’t worry” part they (rightly) don’t like.
        Hm, no shareable calendar but I’ve been doing my best to tell my team from WhatsApp similarly to what you described. But it might make sense to start using a skype status. It’ll take some effort to stick to it but it should be possible.

        It’s just so embarrassing to struggle with this basic thing.

        1. londonedit*

          Try to remember that your managers really aren’t seeing this as a huge personality flaw of yours – they’re not mentioning it because you’re ‘getting it wrong’ or as a slight on you as a person, they’re mentioning it simply because it makes the world of work easier if everyone communicates their schedules to everyone else. I doubt they’re seeing it as something you should be embarrassed about. It’s just ‘Hey, it would really be useful if we could see where/when you’re working, and it would be great if you could keep us up to date with any changes’.

          I think Google calendars can be shared – you could set one up for yourself, and share it with your bosses. It might not solve the guilt you feel about working from home in the first place (which by the way isn’t you ‘leaving your bosses alone’, it’s normal!) but it might make it easier if you can feel like it’s not such a big deal and it doesn’t have to be an actual conversation, just an update on a calendar.

          1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

            Thank you for that first paragraph! I needed that reminder. They don’t see it as a huge flaw, you’re right. In fact, they’d be downright miserable to realize I was stressing so over this.

        2. Interplanet Janet*

          If it makes you feel any better, I have this same hangup. I have no idea where it comes from. Other people on my team blithely send email announcing they’re WFH or whatever, but I just feel so awkward and weird about it. I definitely prefer the less public “set a calendar item” system.

          What about sending an email like this:

          “I’ve gotten feedback that folks would like better transparency around my work hours and location. I’ve been thinking about the best way to address this. Starting Monday, I’d like to try something different. I’ve set up a new calendar [I’m assuming your company uses some sort of calendaring system; I know Google calendar has the feature where you can turn on and off access to different calendars] entitled Time Off and WFH. I’ll be indicating my hours and location on this calendar, and updating it as necessary. If you need to know where I am or when I’ll be in the office, you’ll be able to check at any time. I hope this will work to keep you all informed without me feeling like I need to interrupt you with frequent updates.”

          And then do that. Put in your rough plan as you know it, update the night before? Maybe?

          1. Alianora*

            If the managers have specifically asked OP to tell them when they’re working from home, this might not solve the problem. I think this type of calendar can work well, but if the culture is just to send an email or Slack message then I would check with the managers first before announcing it to the team.

            I tend to overthink emails like that too, but honestly it’s a little like jumping into a pool. You just have to get used to it.

            I promise that if everyone else does it, and your managers have specifically asked you to do it, no one is going to think you’re being weird or awkward for sending that email. Try it out for a month and see if you still feel that weird about it.

        3. RandomU...*

          Either that (the skype status) or maybe a loose round up of activities planned for the next week emailed to the boss or a coworker.

          “Hey boss, just a quick update. Next week I’ll be finishing up the paperclip sorting project, I’m planning to start the pencil sharpening project I’ve been talking about, and meeting with the cube committee to pick out the new beige color. Location plans: M and T will be in office A, W I plan to WFH, and Th-F will be on site at the cube farm”

          If you do then decide to change things up, you already have a bit of a structure you can use for updates… Resend on Tuesday and say, “Decided to WFH instead of the office, rest of the week still looks the same”

          1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

            Excellent idea, if only I could keep it up. I start, fear I’m getting behind and into avoidant/hiding mode.

            I know I’m being all contrary. I’m just plain bad at sticking to stuff. Hard for someone els3 to fix, I know!

    2. Jellyfish*

      Can you set up a regular, weekly meeting with your manager? That gives you a set time to talk to them without feeling like you’re bothering anyone. It would also give you an opening to review what you’ve been up to and what you’re planning for the upcoming week.

      1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

        I have and it helps a lot!
        The biggest issue is that I have a lot of different workstreams so it’s easy for stuff to slip through the cracks.

        1. First Time Caller*

          Maybe using something like Trello, with different cards for each of the workstreams, and keeping it in front of you during the meeting, would remind you to talk through with them each of the areas of your work?

        2. ManageHer*

          Do you have a check-in document with your manager? For roles with a lot of moving pieces, it can help a LOT. Here’s an example of how I’ve laid mine out (and as someone who struggles to focus and remember details, the act of updating this helped minimize how many things I let slip):
          A. Projects
          Project 1 – Things I Accomplished Recently; Things on My To-Do List; Questions/Risks
          Project 2 – Things I Accomplished Recently; Things on My To-Do List; Questions/Risks
          B. Priorities
          I’d list the 5-6 things that were my main priorities between now and our next check-in here.
          C. Schedule/Career Development/Etc.
          If I was WFH, taking PTO, or attending a training, I’d list it here.

          The benefit of using a really ~extra~ document like this when you check in with your manager is that you’re showing them everything. No black holes! Your *conversation* will naturally gravitate to the big stuff, but you’re still communicating about everything.

    3. WellRed*

      “Or sometimes I decide to work from home, feel bad about it and don’t tell anyone because I feel ashamed.”

      Have you considered not working from home?

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        I have!
        Here’s the deal: due to health issues I do a lot better in the long term if I have a day a week away from people. I also have a lot of medical appointments. By some sort of amazing luck, I’ve found an employer who both allow and encourage that. It’s just me that needs to fulfill my end of the bargain.

    4. LGC*

      Two things:

      1) To quote Captain Awkward, trust their yes. (I am seriously getting into CA now, and I’m surprised it took this long.) Your bosses don’t mind if you “bother” them to say you’re doing WFH! They DO mind that sometimes they’re looking for SSMC and whoops you’re out of the office.

      2) You don’t have to be as loud as humanly possible about it. Make it as frictionless for you as possible. That is – I’d suggest making a public (visible to whoever needs it) calendar with your locations. Update as needed – which might be difficult for you to remember to update it constantly, but if you do it once a week (let’s say Friday afternoon for the next week) that will help a lot.

      Shared calendars are great because they can be less “intrusive” than email, in my opinion. So that might help avoid feeling like you’re imposing on people.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        I ADORE Captain Awkward!

        We only use outlook and can’t share more info than busy/not busy.
        Realistically, if I could be consistent in sending regular updates once a week, update my skype status, and answer most emails within 24 hours, it would probably be enough.

        1. LGC*

          So…I’m not sure how your company’s Outlook is set up and also I’m not ADHD so YMMV. But you might be able to share a calendar, which is what I was getting at!

          With routine tasks, I’ll set reminders on my personal calendar to recur – and to remind me in advance (for example, I need to approve time cards at a specific time, so I set that as an appointment and a reminder for the business day before).

          (I primarily use the Outlook apps, so I’m most familiar with that. My organization uses 365, so I’ll use the web client on occasion.)

        2. Jill March*

          First of all, jedi hug from a fellow CA reader, avoidant, overthinking, anxious person. I will probably always struggle with this type of stuff, but here are some things that have helped:

          What is your preferred method of communication? When I was a contractor (and hard to find during regular 9-5 business hours {spoiler alert: I was sleeping}) I added a note to my email signature that reminded people the best way to get a hold of me. I don’t have that email anymore, but it was something like:
          First Name Last Name
          Position | Company
          For urgent requests, please text me at [number].
          (Then I’d make sure my phone was on and turned up during business hours.)

          My team also had a shared document with everyone’s contact info along with notes on how best to get a hold of someone if something was urgent. This may work better if you don’t want your contact information sent out to everyone you email.

          Along with my therapist, I started to track when I had a strong urge to avoid contact. I started to recognize some patterns which helped me solve them the best I could before they occurred. Do you usually send your update email Friday afternoons? Maybe write a draft of it on Thursday night (or whatever day/time you are typically in a better mind space). Then on Friday, you just need to look it over and click send.

          I am a bit embarrassed to admit the last thing, but it was very helpful. I got extremely anxious when I needed to check my email when I knew that my boss had likely emailed me. So I had my sister check it for me. She read it over, assured me that it was fine, then handed me the phone and I was able to read it. (It was always fine. My boss was nice, but my jerk-brain did not operate on conventional logic.) Do you have a close friend that could help you with some of the small tasks?

          Most of all, be nice to yourself. Like other commentators have said, a lot of people have similar problems and we are always are worst critic. When you do something that is hard for you, even if you think it shouldn’t be hard or isn’t a real accomplishment, congratulate yourself and acknowledge the victory.

        3. HappySnoopy*

          Even easier. Usually outlook has calendar you can share look on the button bar at top of calendar function.(even if just a read only access). I have it for team members and some of mgmt. It may work since outlook is something you usually have open. You can set task reminders with a berp to remind yourself to update daily/weekly. Anything like dr appt just set to private or just list it as out/off.

        4. Fortitude Jones*

          If you and your manager give one another access to each other’s Outlook calendars (change your settings), then you can see exactly what’s written for appointments on the calendar.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Ha! This thread didn’t have any responses before I hit post (or at least I didn’t see them since I just got off a plane) – disregard since your workplace seems to have disabled that feature.

    5. JessicaTate*

      I used a weekly email, first thing Monday morning, to the pertinent people who needed to know (managers and key colleagues). Subject: “JT’s Week”. If it wasn’t just “In as normal all this week,” I’d list out each day and where I planned to be / when I planned to be in that day. So:
      Monday- in office, normal schedule [or list hours, if not a normal schedule]
      Tuesday – in late, around 11:00
      Wednesday & Thursday – traveling to Client X
      Friday – working from home, normal schedule

      Then I might add a quick list of the major projects/tasks I was planning to focus on that week.

      It worked to make it routine, do it once for the week, and everyone had a reference they could look to when they didn’t see me at my desk. It did require pre-planning, not just “today I feel like staying home,” but that can be good to combat (misplaced) guilt. You’re saying, “This is my schedule. I’ve thought it through. It follows the policy. If there’s a problem I’m missing, you will tell me and I will adjust.” Work at home days or flexed schedules are purposeful, not just a whim.

      1. Some Sort of Management Consultant*

        I like that a LOT! Easy, concise and informative! I think I might find it easier to speak of what I will do rather than recounting what I did or didn’t do.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Prepare a weekly activity report for your boss that can be shared with others as needed. Up top a summary of your main projects and where they are, below a schedule of upcoming important meetings. You could also add a column on which days you’ll be in. The first one or two will be hard, then it will become second nature. You just have to update the existing items, delete completed items, add new ones. Depending on your office culture either provide it Monday to set the tone for the week or Friday to recap the week. This worked for me in a previous job.

    7. Lilysparrow*

      Can you use automation to “grease the skids”?

      I don’t know if Outlook still does this, but can you queue a draft email to recur once a week, or however often you need it? Or maybe do it as a recurring task that you can drag over to create an email.

      It would have the basic body text already in it with the bullet points/topics you need to cover. Then it automatically pops up, you update it, and hit send.

      Then immediately give yourself a small reward to help train the habit. I’m ADHD too, and rituals & rewards are sooooo important in getting habits to stick. Like, if you can associate it with an existing habit (first cup of coffee, or whatever), it will stick better.

      The less deciding or remembering you have to do, and the more seamless it is, the better.

    8. EinJungerLudendorff*

      I also have this issue and it is so frustrating to deal with. It turns ehat should be a minor issue into big problems and buckets of stress for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

      I don’t have any perfect solutions, but it often helped me to remind myself that my bosses and coworkers probably consider this a non-issue or minor inconvenience at best.

      It also helps me to switch the perspectives and imagine how much I would care if someone worked from home/asked me a question/etc.

      As for updating your bosses and coworkers specifically: I know the pain! To me it feels like putting your (obviously incompetent and insufficient) work on full display and proving to everyone just what a failing charlatan you truly are.
      What often helps me with those thoughts is to reframe these (imaginary) flaws as a problem to be solved, and how I would process their feedback and improve my work to their satisfaction.
      Conveniently, this also forces my brain to try and define said flaws, which often puts their overinflated importance and impact back into a realistic perspective.

      It might also help to remind yourself that they want and need that information, and that you are actively helping them with their job by giving them that information.

        1. DerJungerLudendorff*

          Oh yes! I had deja vu’s and flashbacks all the way through your posts!

          But it sounds like you’re managing to do your job well despite that, so great work on that!
          Hopefully we’ll can one day convince our brains to stop sabotaging us for no reason, but until then, good luck!

          P.S. I don’t know if you have good resources on ADHD, so I thought I’d suggest a few.
          I’ve found Dani Donovan and Eryn Brooks to be excellent at explaining and finding solutions for common ADHD problems and thought processes. They helped me recognize and place a lot of behaviours and habits that I didn’t even realize were part of ADHD and just assigned to some broad personal flaw (which was unhelpful to say the least).

          1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

            I LOVE both of them!!! They really cut right to the heart of the matter.

    9. CM*

      It sounds like the issue is mostly that you only feel safe at work when you’re hiding and you think that, if people can see what you’re doing, there will be negative judgement about it. So, it’s not that you don’t remember to tell people stuff, it’s that, when the time comes, you get scared and can’t overcome your fear.

      Without knowing the situation or your managers, I can’t promise that you have nothing to be afraid of. But it might be worth finding someone you trust, or a counselor who you can talk it over with to figure out whether your fears are rational and then develop a strategy for how to manage your anxiety either way.

      There have definitely been things in my life that I haven’t been able to do because I just get super scared when it comes time to do them, even if it doesn’t make sense, and I’ve never found a magic way to push through it. Sometimes I have some luck breaking the task down into such tiny steps that they each take 2 seconds to do, and then, once I get started, it’s not as bad. So, step one of “write a scary email” is “open the email program and walk the f–k away until I’m feeling calm again.”

      This suggestion won’t please your managers, but you could also try practicing writing these messages without any intention to send them. Just to see what it feels like to go through the process of drafting the email or progress report. And then gradually work your way up to sending it.

      But this is where I think someone like a counselor might be more helpful in coming up with strategies.

    10. Quandong*

      I think you may really benefit from working with a therapist to help cast off your impostor syndrome.

      In addition, please consider seeking support and advice specifically for people with ADHD and/or other brain things that affect executive function and organization.

      Flexible jobs can be wonderful for many people but the lack of structure and routine can be diabolical for those with ADHD.

      You deserve help and support, and you have nothing to be ashamed of.

      Does your employer have an EAP that you can access? Have you been to therapy in the past or worked with a professional to come up with strategies to use at home and at work? If not, it’s definitely worth looking into.

  20. Ryan Howard’s White Suit*

    Need some good job getting vibes, please! My job has a hard end date in August and I’m starting to worry about other prospects. I work in a field where jobs are difficult to come by in my region (think llama wrangling when state legislatures want to ban llamas). I have one iron in the fire that would be an amazing opportunity, but it’s been two weeks since my initial phone interview and I haven’t heard anything yet. Fingers crossed, please!

  21. Cranky Neighbot*

    Can I get a reality check? My cube neighbor is lowkey driving me nuts. Here’s what he does:

    – Things that are our boss’s business, not mine: comes in late (past the limits of our role’s flexibility), breaks the dress code, takes personal calls at his desk 2-3 times a day.
    – Talked about horror movies (cool, I love them) and then said he’d kill himself if SHTF in real life. I’ve been affected by suicide and he just seemed so bluntly flippant, like he legitimately did not see suicide as more than a hypothetical. Do I make sense here? Am I being too sensitive?
    – Participated in a fundraising thing but weaseled out of paying. $2. Think of someone eating bake sale cookies without paying.
    – Posted a photo of a client in group chat to make fun of him.

    Am I letting little things bother me too much? Only the last of these seems serious to me, but honestly, they’re all bugging me. What should I do?

    1. JokeyJules*

      1. just ignore it, being frustrated with that stuff will only create resentment which is like punching yourself in the face because you’re mad at someone else. just let it go
      2. If he makes flippant remarks about suicide, just look at him and say “wow, what a thing to make a joke about. i’d appreciate it if you didn’t.”
      3. Another thing not worth staying upset about. I’d just write him off as kind of a tool and keep it moving and professional.
      4. report that to your boss, wildly inappropriate.

      Remember – paying attention to those things and staying frustrated about them will only make your day worse, and will not affect him at all. Just let the little things go.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Screenshot that client-mocking post and tell management. If you have different managers, tell yours and ask how to tell his. It’s completely out of line and you are right to be uncomfortable about it.
        The rest is gravy on the inappropriate-co-worker cake.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Yeah +1.

        Kinda surprised you’re putting ‘breaks the dress code’ in the same list as ‘posted a clients photo to mock them’ – one of these things is not like the others.

    2. DaniCalifornia*

      I would let the little things go (as much as they add up) like the coming in late and dress codes. And maybe even the fundraising thing if it happens again. Has he only brought up the killing himself once? Or is it recurring? If recurring you could say something like “Oh I prefer not to talk about suicide at work.” and if he presses you can say “That’s personal” if you feel okay with saying that.

      I’d definitely call him out about the photo of the client in a group chat. And if he didn’t delete it/realize he was wrong, I’d find a way to talk to your boss about it.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You’re at BEC stage, he sounds annoying and I wouldn’t like him either probably but yeah, these are just annoying little garbage things that other people doing it probably would be less terrible to you!

      Minus the client mockery, that’ stuff I would screenshot and report.

      Also make a note he needs to pay up front for future fundraising events if you’re in a place to do so. You only get one freebie.

    4. Same Girl*

      I have a work mate who, when she gets frustrated by the incessant demands here, will complain and make the motion of shooting herself in the head. Which is how a relative of mine died. She doesn’t know this though, so I don’t say anything. But I flinch every time. I’m sorry.

      1. Cranky Neighbot*

        Holy shit! I’m sorry. My coworker’s comment was broadly similar to that.

    5. Megasaurusus*

      I agree with everyone else, but I’d add that it’s always okay to not be a co-worker’s friend. You just have to be civil and professional and respond to work-related conversation. You can ignore this co-worker and focus on your work. Noise canceling headphones are great, phrases like “sorry, can’t chat, I really have to work on X right now” etc.

      Don’t rent this guy space in your head, busy yourself with your job, let your managers know of any outright violations, like making fun of a client, but otherwise, leave it to others to see the person for who they are. Bring your focus back to you and your work and the only thing you can control: your own actions.

      1. Cranky Neighbot*

        Good advice. Everyone else already did see it, I think. I was friendly to him because I thought he was the fun kind of quirky when we met. Keeping things distant and professional sounds good.

    6. CM*

      Posting the photo wasn’t cool. The rest of it sounds like you’re just different people with maybe incompatible personalities.

      FWIW, we don’t know what his history is and not everyone who’s had experiences with suicide (either people they know or attempts they made themselves) reacts in the same way. Some people hold it as a sacred thing that you can never joke about and some people don’t. Neither reaction is wrong in itself.

      1. Cranky Neighbot*

        That’s a good reminder and I agree 100%. I even like jokes a lot of the time – outside of work, with people who have a similar background and similar sense of humor. Unfortunately, he wasn’t joking; a joke gone wrong might be easier to get over. He said the same callous thing like three or four times.

        You’re right about our personalities being somewhat mismatched. I’ll try to remind myself of that. And I’ll be talking to our manager about the photo.

  22. Lucette Kensack*

    Is it appropriate to hang a print of Lincoln in Dalivision in my cube? I’m 99% sure it’s fine in my work context… but it does include a prominent nude.

    Link in a comment, which will take a minute to get through moderation.

    1. government worker*

      Eh, I wouldn’t. You know your workplace better than I do, but however artful, I generally think you should avoid nudes at your cube.

    2. Painting*

      That would be really inappropriate at my workplace and I’m struggling to figure out a workplace that it would be appropriate in. There’s tons of other art that would be fine without question – I’d pick another print.

    3. infopubs*

      I wouldn’t do it. Unless you work in an art gallery or a doctor’s office, depictions of nude humans at work are inappropriate.

    4. Quinalla*

      Not something I would hang up at work since it has the nude in it. Just not appropriate. Could be exceptions if you work for an art museum or something, but otherwise seems inappropriate.

    5. Jadelyn*

      Lord no, do not hang that at work! Unless you work literally at an art gallery or design firm or something. In any other place, no, that’s wildly inappropriate at work, no matter how artsy the nude, it’s still an image of a naked person, which nobody should have to contend with at work.

    6. Manon*

      Based on the comments was expecting it to be much racier. In an informal/artsy enough workplace I think it could be okay but you’re probably the only one here who can make that call.

      1. Arjay*

        I can see it both ways, lol, but this wouldn’t have me clutching my pearls. I guess it might depend on the location, size of the print, and size of the cubicle. Mixed in with other images, I wouldn’t think anything of it. But I wouldn’t put it where it could turn into, “You’re looking for Lucette? Turn left at the naked lady!”

        1. Jadelyn*

          I just want to be clear that I doubt most of us saying “no” are “clutching our pearls” over it. There’s a difference between “I personally find this offensive/inappropriate/whatever” and “regardless of my own feelings I don’t think this is appropriate for a workplace.”

          I work in HR. This is not appropriate for a workplace setting. I don’t have any personal issues with artistic nudes, and I rather like the print itself, but that doesn’t make it appropriate for the workplace. There just…shouldn’t ever be naked people in the office, real or artistic, unless you’re a doctor’s office or something.

    7. Beth*

      Absolutely not. In the workplace, it is not just a piece of art with a nude image: it’s also a sexualized image of a naked woman. You will never be able to control how people see it, and just one person who sees it as the second view is one person too many in a workplace.

    8. Policy Wonk*

      Recommend against. It depends on size of the picture, but if it is bigger than a post card you could get complaints.
      True story, a friend of mine was accused of creating a hostile work environment because he put a framed picture of himself and his wife from his beach vacation on his desk. In said picture his wife was wearing a skimpy bikini.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        I would argue that posting a picture of your* wife in a skimpy bikini at work demonstrates even worse judgement than art with a nude image. Not because the image is inappropriate, but because it’s incredibly violating to put his wife’s body on display to anyone who walks through the office.

        *meaning the general *you*, not you specifically

        1. Close Bracket*

          For all we know, said friend asked his wife before putting the picture up. Besides, it was a beach picture. Everybody on the beach saw her in that bikini. There’s a big difference between putting up a picture of your wife in a bikini from a public moment and putting up a picture of her in lingerie taken in your home even if the same square inches of skin are visible. The latter is putting her on display. I would argue that the former is not.

          I do think a photograph of someone not too many degrees of separation removed from one’s coworkers shows worse judgement than a painting of an art model they will never meet, though. There are definitely co-workers who are not going to want to see that much skin, especially on someone they have met or could meet, in a photo on somebody’s desk, regardless of whether it was taken on a beach or somewhere else.

  23. Jobs with low demand on interpersonal skills?*

    I have been in a field with a high demand for interpersonal communication skills for my entire career. I AM good at it – but, I find it exhausting. Navigating weird personalities, conflicts, basically everything that people write in to AAM about. I can do it, but I don’t like it. I’m wondering, are there certain professions out there that require much less interpersonal interaction? I think I may want to take my career in a new direction and find a job where I can focus more on “the job” itself (completing tasks, etc) and not be so distracted all the time by office drama.

    1. alphabet soup*

      Software development? I was a non-tech person on an IT team, and anytime I got frustrated with a dev for being rude or difficult to work with, I got the “but they’re a developer! they don’t need to have social skills!” excuse from other folks.

      1. Art!*

        Seconding this. I have a friend who’s a software dev and at his workplace, he is BELOVED because he fastidiously stays out of all office drama.

      2. Antisocial Dev*

        This is one of the reasons I became a developer. I’d much rather deal with code than the public. There’s still interpersonal stuff necessary, but it’s more dealing with people internal to the company rather than clients or the public.

    2. Mimmy*

      This has been my quandary as well. My supervisor is always telling me how much my students love me and I do enjoy connecting with them. However, it can also make me anxious–what are the new students going to be like? How am I going to handle X situation?

      I’m always thinking that I should do more project-oriented work but sometimes revert back to wanting to work directly with people.

      I get it and will definitely be following this thread for others’ suggestions.

    3. Even Steven*

      If you have the training & would enjoy a fill-in-the-dots, linear kind of day job, I would suggest accounting – we bean counters in private companies (especially large ones) rarely work collaboratively. Usually we each are given our projects, we put on our earbuds & we crunch numbers. It is bliss for this introvert nerd!

      That said, unless you are managing a lighthouse, the odds are good that you will still interact with the odd human, both literally & figuratively. I still have to talk to my manager and occasionally colleagues about project next steps. But the sustained customer-service kind of interaction is unheard of in most of the accounting roles I have had.

      To illustrate the serene introversion- we recently had a big company dinner in a ballroom downtown, 500 people. Loud, raucous, except for our two accounting department tables. I looked around the room during dinner, and while there was lots of conversation and visiting at other tables, we bean counters were all just silently eating, staring off into space. I have found my people.

      1. Koala dreams*

        That has not been my experience, I expected accounting to be more quiet work but I find there is a lot of client interaction in accounting. It’s quite different from typical customer service in that an account has a set amount of clients and builds a connection to them. So I guess that’s an advantage if you want less interaction as in less people you need to interact with.

        1. Even Steven*

          Perhaps in public accounting that is true, but in private accounting, as in accounting for a large company, the only so-called clients are the end users of your reports who are also in the company – like branch managers, C-level execs, etc. I don’t have any clients to speak of, except them if that is what you consider them to be, and only rarely do they contact me – usually to answer the odd questions from managers who want a line item clarified. Most weeks I don’t talk to anyone. Pretty cool.

  24. Anonysand*

    A bit of happy news this Friday… After feeling a little down about my yearly review not being rated quite high enough (or so I thought) a couple weeks back, I got notice of my raise information this morning and it was a half a percent higher than I expected! Not a huge bump in the scheme of things, but happy nonetheless since my previous jobs didn’t include annual raises and I wasn’t expecting much since we’re a nonprofit. Sending out a big thanks to the AAM community for helping me land a job that I truly enjoy and wouldn’t have gotten without all the wonderful advice here.

    1. Anonysand*

      Also, in a fit of mid-twenties rebellion, I dyed my hair a teal/green this week and everyone loves it- even my VP and the HR ladies who often come through our suite. I really do love working here!

      1. Dasein9*

        (Teal sounds great. If you like mixing it up, try Manic Panic’s Electric Lizard: shocking green and it’s lasted and lasted!)

        1. Anonysand*

          I actually used MP Enchanted Forest a long time ago that stuff stuck around so long I had to dye over it! This round I used Arctic Fox Aquamarine and it came out beautifully. I’m really excited about the results.

      2. Canonical23*

        yesssss! I just went back to my original color from teal. It’s such a fun color.

  25. NC*

    Just got rejected from the third job at which I was a ‘top candidate.’ My job here where I live is over, my lease is over July 31 and I want to get out of this state, and I have no idea what to do. As a policy attorney my options are limited. I guess just move to DC and look for work while unemployed…which is exactly what I did after graduating college?

    Finding work is terrible.

    1. Tigger*

      I feel you. Looking for a job while unemployed in DC is hard. Do you have friends and family in the area to stay with? That helped me so much.
      Good luck!

    2. Tired DC Resident*


      And speaking as someone with a Master’s Degree who has been temping for almost 2 years, don’t move to DC without a job lined up. The policy market is messed up.

  26. A Simple Narwhal*

    Thoughts on changing your last name at work?

    I just got married, and I’m taking my husband’s last name. I’ve already started the arduous legal process, but I’m wondering if I should do it at work. I’m not exactly new to the workforce (almost 10 years) but I’m not so deeply established that I would be abandoning my “brand”. I know it’s easy enough to make the distinction of having two last names in your career, but part of me is hesitating.


    1. Anonysand*

      Honestly, changing it in the workplace it can be really easy to switch. The hardest thing I came across was getting my email address changed, and that was more of a system problem (not built for changing the email details after creation) than anything else.

      1. Anonysand*

        I should have also added: it made things easier so that I didn’t have to deal with two different names in general. I switched to my now-married name because it was shorter and easier to spell/pronounce than my maiden name, and I didn’t want to have to deal with some people knowing me as Anonysand Maiden vs Anonysand Married.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        This. I did a name change at work, and found it a pretty seamless process. They couldn’t change my email address itself, but they attached a new name to it so it would show as “Boochie Flagrante [jane.smithATcompanyDOTcom]” NBD.

      3. A Simple Narwhal*

        That makes sense! It doesn’t look like it will be that hard to actually accomplish, I think I’m still getting used to the idea of changing my name (and grappling with guilt and weirdness and generalized angst at the patriarchy) and was wondering if it is worth it to do professionally.

        This is pretty new still so I’m sure I’ll feel differently as time goes on.

        1. Quinalla*

          I changed my name after getting married before I started my career, so it was easy for me, but I’ve seen several women go through it and it honestly isn’t a big deal to change your name. Sometimes the IT parts are the most challenging.

          That being said, I would never change my name again without a damn good reason. The whole process of changing it on all the bills, bank accounts, etc. is a huge pain :) I wouldn’t say I regret changing my name, but there are times I wish I hadn’t changed it, damn patriarchy :)

          1. Keanu Reeves's Patchy Beard*

            The paperwork was honestly a huge part of why I didn’t change my name , as well as the fact that my husband’s surname is a bit boring and mine is cooler. 8)

          2. Angwyshaunce*

            My wife refused to take my last name, on principle. I fully supported that decision.

      4. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        IT should be able to sort the email thing with an alias. I got married over 7 years ago and there are still background emails sent to
        Incidentally, there’s a lady in my office who got married six months ago and just signs off her email as Jane Married (neé Maiden) while we get the hang of her new name.
        (There’s also another woman in my office who has been Maiden to Married to Divorced-and-back-to-Maiden to Married v2. That one got a bit confusing.

    2. Tigger*

      My Friend who has been married twice has a very established brand and she used a transition method.

      After her divorce, she went professionally by Jane Married Name Maiden Name while having her email JANEMAIDEN@ABC.COM. After a few months, she dropped the married name. Then after she got remarried she went by Jane Maiden Name Married Name. People caught on very quickly

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      Thanks for your advice everyone! I think there isn’t really a good reason for me not to proceed with the name change at work, I’m just feeling weird about it, and that’s something I’ll just have to work through.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        It’s totally up to you, and it’s also just fine to wait to change your name at work until you’ve adjusted to the new name (or had time to decide whether you want to change it at all). I had a friend who didn’t get around to the legal name change for like 8 months after getting married, so it’s really not that uncommon to make the switch months (or heck, even years) later.

      2. ten-four*

        We didn’t legally and professionally change our names for years (we both hyphenated) because we both had a lot of feelings to work through on names and patriarchy and the general weirdness of things. If you want to start out by changing socially and put a pause on changing at work you totally could! Some women just choose to stick with a social name and a professional name. Maybe you’ll land there, or maybe the weirdness will dissipate and you can make the work switch. Neither the name nor the pace have to be all or nothing!

      3. What’s in a Name*

        My experience: name change at work was relatively easy (and kind of a pain everywhere else).

        The first time I got married, I resisted changing my name, but after about 18 months, I gave in & changed it (no judgement!). It wasn’t a big deal at work.

        After I got divorced, I actually kept my ex’s name because my son was 3 yrs old & I thought it would be easier for him if we had the same last name, plus I just couldn’t deal with the paperwork for changing it everywhere in my life.

        When I decided to remarry, I didn’t want to be married to 1 man but have a different man’s last name… and I really didn’t want to take someone else’s name (but that’s 100% personal decision & I fully support everyone making their own choice about changing/not changing their name!!).

        So upon my remarriage, I went back to my maiden name. The IT folks worked some magic so that I received emails in my inbox regardless of whether they were sent to Jane.Warbleworth @ or Jane.Porter @ For a couple of months I signed my emails Jane Porter (formerly Warbleworth).

        It wasn’t even weird when people would see my “new” (aka maiden) name and ask if I got married. I’d pleasantly say “yes, I did! And I decided it was the right time to drop my ex-husband’s last name and go back to my maiden name.” No one even batted an eye at this statement. (I thought it was important to say this so that people wouldn’t address my new husband as Mr Porter in the future —and of course I always introduce him by his first and last names so people know our names are different).

        One thing that made all of this easier: when I took my first husband’s name, I merely appended it on to my full name, such that my maiden name became a second middle name. Think: Jane Elizabeth Porter became Jane Elizabeth Porter Warbleworth (on my social security card, passport, etc) and just Jane Porter Warbleworth (on my driver’s license, bank accounts, etc) and Jane P Warbleworth (on my credit cards).

        When I remarried and dropped Warbleworth, the transition was SO much easier because ALL my accounts, bills, checks etc. already had the name Porter on them. It takes a LONG time to get everything changed (I remarried SIX YEARS ago & I still get mail for Jane Porter Warbleworth).

        One other thing: I REALLY wish I would have included my maiden name as a second middle name in my son’s name. But that’s a different story & also 100% a personal decision.

        Please understand, I strongly feel that every person should do what they feel is right for them. I just want to share my experience in case you find it informative.

    4. Jubilance*

      I changed mine legally (added his to mine so I have 2 last names, no hyphen) but I didn’t change it at work. Mostly cause I didn’t want the hassle of people needing to figure out how to find me.

      It hasn’t been an issue in the office.

    5. Half-Caf Latte*

      Most people I’ve seen who do the name change do this, and the primary means of communication of the change is through the email signature (and email alias if possible).

      Maiden Name: Meghan Markle
      Email signature 6-18mos post wedding: Meghan Markle Mountbatten-Windsor
      Email signature thereafter: Meghan Mountbatten-Windsor

    6. Canonical23*

      I hyphenated (mainly because my husband’s brother and my brother both married women that have the same first and middle name as me, but also general ill-will towards patriarchy) and didn’t have any trouble, apart from now having a ridiculously long email address and cramped business cards. While all the paperwork is a PITA, changing it at work is very easy. A lot of people I’ve worked with usually change over their email ASAP and their signature is Jane Smith (maiden name) for about 2 or 3 months after the switch and it’s never a big deal.

      And I second (third?) everyone that says to wait if you’re hesitating. There’s no deadline on name changing, so you can always wait and see how you feel later down the road.

    7. Lilysparrow*

      The legal paperwork was far more hassle than the practical side of changing it at work.

      On the interpersonal side, I got a lot of faux-feminist rudeness about “erasing my identity”, which was incredibly annoying. But hopefully times & attitudes about names have changed to the point that you won’t need to have eleventy-seven conversations about “Why is the man’s name I was branded at birth more relevant to my identity than the name I choose to share with my life partner?”

      For me, the name change was particularly helpful because my maiden name sounds like a very common surname from an entirely different language/ethnicity. So for years the first conversation I had to have when meeting work contacts in person was always, “but you’re not (ethnicity)!”

      Always. Every single freaking time. Which was both annoying and icky.

      It was a big relief to switch to my husband’s name, which matches the nationality I look like (though also is not the nationality I am).

      Best of luck, I hope your friends & colleagues are less performatively woke, and more genuinely enlightened about names & identity than mine were.

    8. Margaret*

      You probably know if this would apply, but also keep in mind that if you have any kind of certification or legal oversight of your work (e.g., I’m a CPA so governed by a state board), you may be required to use your legal name at work, at least for contact purposes like what’s on your business card and email address. (At one point a coworker got married a month or less after she started working for us, and she asked the state board if she could just get the business cards printed with her married name – nope, she had to use something with her then-legal name for the few weeks that she worked for us with her maiden name, and then have new cards after she was married and had changed her name.)

  27. NewGlassesGirl*

    I am a woman starting a new job in public accounting in the midwest at a very large well known firm. As far as I know my role will involve very little interaction with clients face to face. I did not do an internship and currently have been working in a very casual environment – seriously I wear athelsuire most days. Can anyone in this field give good recomendations for how to dress? I’m worried I will be over dressed. I am working on building up my wardrobe before I start and experimenting different looks at my current office. I do not start until November so I have time. Just a little worried. Thanks AAM community.

    1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

      I’m a Big4 consultant and at least in my country, the formality levels vary incredibly much between different service lines and aren’t necessary related to the amount off client contact.
      I see a lot of people working at our Tax practice who are always in the office with full suits and ties, and many many of my fellow consultants who are full time at clients dress in chinos, neat sneakers and a shirt.

      How were the people you interviewed with dresses, do you remember?

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Have you considered reaching out to HR to discuss what their dress code policy is? Another way to figure out dress code could be to look at your new company’s social media platforms to see if there are any office pictures posted that has the staff in them. For whatever reason, LinkedIn seems to be really helpful in this regard as there always seem to be company shots that range from employee appreciation in the office to speaker luncheons to workshops, etc.

    3. Quinalla*

      I know it is awkward, but I would just ask about the dress code prior to starting – maybe just ask if they can send over the dress code information and any other employee handbook materials so you can start reviewing. I’ve had to ask about dress code for certain work activities and it is better to just ask so you don’t end up over or under dressed or having bought a wardrobe that you can’t use.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It may suit you better if you don’t build the wardrobe before you get there. Get a couple staple pieces to get you through the first week or so. That way you can see first hand, since every firm is vastly different. Being unseen may or may not matter to them. Some places who never see clients still want you to dress formally.

    5. Mack*

      I worked in a similar role in Big 4 public accounting in Tax. I wore what I consider basic business casual, black dress pants, black flats, and a nice top every day. Sometimes alternating with a black pencil skirt. This was the norm for our group on daily basis (differing colors or course), dressing in a full suit for certain client visits. Some offices now are becoming more casual, with jeans/khakis as a daily option, so you can always aim for basic business casual and go from there.

      1. NewGlassesGirl*

        Yes, they said the dress code was fairly casual/dress for your day. I think the look you’re describing is what I am planning on wearing for the first week or so.

        1. Mack*

          It is a good midpoint to start and you can gauge how casual/formal things are once you meet coworkers and see how they dress.

          When I first started, I had 2 pairs of black pants, a black skirt, and 6-7 tops. Since you are in an air conditioned office you can probably get away with alternating pants/skirts, and then washing everything on the weekend. It doesn’t take a lot of clothes to get started and you can grow your wardrobe accordingly as you go.

    6. asometimesreader*

      Hi There- I’m in PA in a large midwest city. I’d suggest reaching out to your HR coordinator or recruiter to ask about dress codes. My firm has a dress for your day policy, so we see a large variety of formality in how people dress in the office (from smart casual to business formal). If you spend most days in the office and won’t be client facing, I’d suggest sticking with business casual until you get a feel for how other people at your level dress. In my industry group, most people wear jeans, skirts/dresses, ankle pants. Tops vary from blouses to well fitted t shirts. Admittedly, it’s been a slow slide from business casual to casual for me this year….

      I’d start with having a pair of jeans (darker wash or black with no distressing), black slacks, and slacks in a mid gray. I tend to wear the same 3 pairs through out a season and mix and match with 4-6 different shirts. I’ve built up a good variety of tops and pants via thrifting and sales that I rotate for spring/summer (blues, purples, and pinks) and fall/winter (navy, gray, black, burgundy).

      Also think about how you are going to commute to work and what that means for shoes. I wear tennis shoes or loafers anytime it’s not snowing or freezing (wearing sandals on public transit grosses me out, but many people do). Boots and a change of shoes are required for getting too work in the winter. I don’t get too attached to any of my shoes because slush, salt, rain and questionable fluids on trains happen.

    7. Manon*

      I would first try to clarify your firm’s dress code. I’d also recommend searching on the subreddit Female Fashion Advice: – there are numerous discussions about how to start an office wardrobe, varying levels of formality, capsule closets, etc. It’s really helpful if you’re mostly starting from scratch.

    8. wittyrepartee*

      I recommend getting some sheath dress basics for now and seeing what’s up once you get there. They don’t look too out of place in anything but the most resolutely formal or informal settings.

    9. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

      I do not think athleisure will work, except if you go in to the office on Saturdays and do not see clients at that time, which you probably wouldn’t. You are definitely going to need some suits, either skirt or trouser, whichever you like. Beyond that, your office may well be business casual if your workday permits it. And better overdressed than underdressed, in my opinion! But I do agree with the suggestions to ask HR; I’m sure they wouldn’t be offended at all and the employee handbook probably addresses a dress code anyway.

      1. NewGlassesGirl*

        Right! I would never wear my current leggings and cozy sweaters to an accounting firm. I’m going to reach out about an employee handbook beforehand definitely Thanks!

  28. NB Anon*

    This is a really small question but basically, I’m thinking about coming out as non-binary at work within a few months. I’ve been at my job for less than a year and I don’t know of any other nb/trans coworkers, especially since my department is pretty small, but I’m fairly confident that at the I’ll be supported even if there are bumps in the road.

    My main question is should I go to HR or my manager first? I will be medically transitioning but likely not for at least a year or so. I’m not changing my name but I will change my pronouns. It’s sort of the least of my hurdles most likely, but it’s something I’m just not sure of.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      What would you be looking for from the conversation with HR?

      My inclination would be to start with your manager unless you’re anticipating unpleasantness that you want HR to be tuned-in and alert for. Talk to your manager, talk to your peers, and loop in HR when it’s time to talk about time off for medical appointments or if people react badly.

      1. NB Anon*

        I guess I just wasn’t sure what exactly I might need to prepare for and how to begin certain procedures (for example, I may list my gender differently than what’s officially on record, if the option is even present outside of M/F). I figured HR could be a good guide in terms of any organizational guidelines or procedures I might not be aware, plus just giving a heads up just in case something goes awry. Thank you for your help!

    2. M*

      When my partner traansitioned last year, he started with his supervisor. They worked out a plan together for notifying the rest of the organization and (because of the nature of the organization) the clients for whom it was relevant. Then HR got involved to help make sure everything like paperwork and insurance and tax forms and email addresses etc. all went smoothly. It went very well. There were some bumps that had to do with legal name changes and legal gender marker changes but those were all external to the company and HR really stepped up in support.

      Congratulations on coming out!!

      1. NB Anon*

        Thank you! This sounds like the kind of path I want to take so this is really helpful to hear. And congratulations to your partner as well, I’m glad he got the support he needed.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I’d start with HR – assuming they’re good at HR. Still, I’d wait a few more months before announcing anything because you haven’t been there a year yet. You’ll want to be more knowledgeable about your workplace before proceeding.
      Good luck!

      1. NB Anon*

        The reason I’m fairly confident is because my workplace has been explicitly LGBTQ+ friendly and my supervisor even started listing her pronouns in her signature. It’s not guaranteed (it’s a pretty small gesture but I do appreciate it). The main issue I’m worried about is attending a conference and I’m worried about being asked pronouns (it was something I encountered at a different conference) and I have a lot of anxiety over misgendering myself to stay closeted. Plus, I’m somewhat worried saying I use one set of pronouns and then a few months later saying actually I’m nb and use different pronouns is gonna make things harder for me. I realize it’s mostly my own fears and anxieties, and it’s not unbearable, but it’s something that hangs in my head.

        1. Jasnah*

          That’s understandable though, you have this conference coming up where you have to do introductions and you want to be consistent and not confuse people! I think that’s as good a reason as any to start letting people know in your workplace, especially if you know it’s explicitly LGBTQ+ friendly, which is the most important thing you need to know. Good luck!

    4. Gatomon*

      When I came out I started with my boss, who went to HR and the C-suite (smallish company, some policies needed… freshening) for me. I think it’s best to avoid blinding your boss whenever possible, and the first thing HR is probably going to do is loop in your boss so… I’d just start there. If your boss is unsupportive, talk directly to HR. Otherwise your boss can bring HR in for support as needed.

  29. Miss Ames*

    Hi Everyone, I’m a long-time reader, first-time poster. I have been reading a long time, I don’t recall how I happened upon this forum. I have found it enjoyable and education on so many levels, though in a way I felt it wasn’t directly applicable to me because I am not a manager. But things do change over time, as it turns out!! I transferred departments within my organization (higher education) in 2016, and I am now being promoted to a manager after working hard for 3 years. I am participating in my first job search as the person seeking to hire (rather than seeking to be hired), and it is so fascinating to me. So far I love having the experience of evaluating candidates and seeking to hire a new addition to our team. It is going to be exciting to hold interviews.

    1. China Beech*

      The information on AAM isn’t just for people who ARE managers; its a pretty equal mix of that and those who are the direct reports. You can search for the articles by topic of interest to you. Enjoy!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Congrats on the promotion!

      Hiring can be an extra level of exhaustion once you start the journey, so try to remember that it does get easier as you go through it. It’s the most emotionally draining thing I’ve ever done because you’re dealing with people who may or may not become an ingrained part of your life for quite some time.

  30. Brownie*

    Basing hiring decisions off of thick accents/ease of understanding

    We’re conducting interviews for an IT position that’s not client facing. We’re getting a lot of candidates who grew up outside of the US and so have fairly thick accents despite having been in the US for 5+ years. My boss has decided to rank all the candidates on the basis of how easy they are to understand during the first round of phone interviews and use that as part of the calculation for if the candidates get a second, in-person, interview or not. All the candidates are fluent English speakers, it’s just that some of them have very thick accents compared to others.

    This is setting off orange flags to me with the occasional red thrown in, but I’m having trouble figuring out what exactly it is that’s setting off the flags. Is it whiffs of racial discrimination because most of the candidates are from African countries? Is it bad hiring because accents over the phone are far harder to understand than in person? It all smells, but I can’t figure out which bit is the rotten one. Any tips on examining this issue? I’m not HR, but I do have an ethics and HR person I can go to if needed.

      1. Brownie*

        My boss and grandboss’s opinion is that if the accent is too thick for them to understand easily then the candidate gets rejected because “the ability to communicate” is a requirement for being on the team. They state that the origin of the accent doesn’t matter, it’s the thickness that is the problem, and cite the EEOC laws saying “An employer may not base an employment decision on an employee’s foreign accent, unless the accent seriously interferes with the employee’s job performance.” They say it falls under the latter because the team could not communicate via voice with the candidate. At this point I’m starting to second-guess myself because of the pushback from boss and grandboss.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          He’s ranking them based on how easy their accents are to understand. That’s not complying with the EEOC’s guidance. If it’s “seriously interfering” with their ability to do the work, he can take them out of the running. That doesn’t sound like the situation.

          1. Brownie*

            Thank you, “their ability to do the work” was the bit of phrasing I needed to clarify the situation. If we already allow people to work from locations where they aren’t in voice communication and have no problems with that then voice communication isn’t something that affects their ability to do the work and the job. And based on that and the official job description all candidates should be considered, regardless of accent. Yeah, I need to go talk to HR.

            1. Observer*

              That’s a key issue here. If everyone needs to communicate via voice for a significant proportion of their communications, your boss would actually have a valid point. But if I’m reading you correctly, this is a position where people are communicating primarily in writing. In that case, whether they mean it or not, they WILL get into trouble for discrimination.

              It’s worth pointing out that “ability to communicate” is not necessarily the same thing as “ability to communicate by voice.”

            2. SecondChoice*

              Here’s the thing, though… all positions require – to some degree or another – the ability to communicate clearly. And here in the United States, we are a diverse country by our very nature; by that I mean that you can’t walk into a store or restaurant without interacting with workers who have accents. It’s a fact of life in the year 2019. Unless “speaking in an American accent” is a bona fide requirement of the job (like they’re hiring actors, for example), then they need to figure out how to get over this.

              Now, if your bosses want to explain their “accent thickness scale” to a judge and jury – who either have accents themselves, or come from parents or grandparents with accents, well, I say, good luck to them. I can’t wait to read the cases on all the employment law blogs I follow.

          2. Camellia*

            I, too, work in this kind of shop, and find this question interesting. I was trying to think how to reframe it. So, what if the job required all documentation to be written out by hand, in cursive, and the person’s handwriting was illegible? Would that be a valid reason to reject the candidate?

        2. irene adler*

          I bet an employment law attorney could set them straight on the correct interpretation of this law.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      Are they writing this “ranking system” down? Or is it something they’re just hush-hush talking about and keeping in the hiring group? The spoken stuff is harder to pin someone to the floor for because again as you say, they have something they’re clawing at to try to sweep their discrimination under the rug.

      I would just ping HR about it if you feel like you’re not going to be a target of retaliation or if you’re okay with that outfall.

      1. Brownie*

        They’re writing it down on the candidate scoring sheets, though they’re not actually labeling what the number off on the corner of each sheet is. I’m gonna go talk to HR, this whole thing stinks, especially in light of bosses saying voice communication is a requirement, but contradicting that with existing employees. Around here, for technical positions, HR does nothing with the hiring process (they don’t even have someone sitting in on the interview panel!) so it’s left up to the departments to figure out hiring on their own. And that’s where I’m stuck at, just enough hiring knowledge to smell something rotten, not enough to be able to properly tell my bosses they’re wrong. Time to call in the big guns, HR will straighten them out (hopefully).

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


          That’s enough to get EEOC to start digging around if they want to start lighting people up. You shouldn’t write anything down that you do not want to explain to an investigator. These people are amateurs.

          Yes, please blow the whistle with HR and let them know what these chuckleheads are doing.

          1. Brownie*

            “These people are amateurs.” Every time I read that it makes me laugh because A) that’s exactly what they are and B) the sheer scorn dripping off that is fabulous and wonderful, especially in light of the fact that these people work with security all day long and should very much know better than to write things like that down.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              They want to be true cartoon villains but they can’t grow that much needed evil mustache to twirl. It takes charisma and sneakiness that usually isn’t learned, you need to be born a bad guy!

              And you’re over there foiling their baby-villain plans. Meddlesome kid ;)

  31. Teapot Librarian*

    Hoarder strikes again. He has a long history of missing deadlines by just a day or two. Well, most recently he missed a deadline and justified it by redefining what a week is. (Seriously. “I thought a week was seven working days.”) My boss was totally on board with me putting Hoarder on a PIP. Then our counsel read the policies and interpreted a PIP as a disciplinary action which required more and more recent examples so my boss said I should just give Hoarder a reprimand which doesn’t have the time limitations that more serious discipline actions require. But then she sent me an email saying “I don’t want you taking any action against Hoarder at this time.” So he skates by again with no accountability. It’s been almost four years of this, plus all the years before I was his boss. Sigh.

      1. Teapot Librarian*

        None given in her email. I don’t want to ask over email, so I’m going to wait until I see her next week. (We don’t work in the same building.)

        1. Quinalla*

          Ugh, can you not call her right now? I understand not putting it in writing, but I would want to talk to her immediately. It is ridiculous to have to put up with this kind of thing as a boss without being able to do something!

        2. RandomU...*

          ugh… that sounds like something’s happening in the background. I would wait and see what your boss says, and even then it might be vague.

          1. Teapot Librarian*

            I just re-read her email and there appears to be an underlying “Teapot Librarian, you’re a crappy manager so I don’t trust you to be making responsible manager decisions about this” message.

        3. Commenter*

          At bare minimum, will the current issue still be recorded as “an example” to count towards a PIP if you “don’t take any action” at this time? If what your boss is suggesting would in any way further slow down the process rather than at least help towards building a paper trail, that’s *definitely* a problem!

          I agree it’s worth reaching out to her and pushing back / asking for clarification either way though, but at the very least I hope this incident will help you all start building the necessary proof to get this actually taken care of.

    1. Kathenus*

      Sorry to say I think you have a boss problem, as much – if not more than – an employee one. Best of luck navigating this.

  32. Phoenix Programmer*

    Pet peeve: THERE YOU ARE!
    Said when I get out of the bathroom.
    Or when I am taking a lunch break.
    Or when I return to my desk after back to back meetings.

    So obnoxious. Just ask me your question don’t make a big show that you “found me”.

    1. JokeyJules*

      ugh that drives me nuts!
      Another one is “hey can i please ask you a huuuuge favor please omg it would be so helpful”

      Just. ask. the. question.

      1. Manon*

        It grates on me when people make a huge deal out of little things. Like at my last job my supervisor would thank me profusely for almost every little thing I did. It’s nice to be appreciated but at some point it’s like “Yeah of course I did [thing], that’s what you pay me for.”

    2. Deanna Troi*

      YES! Especially when I come in 5 minutes late due to traffic. My boss doesn’t care, so why do you, coworker who is at the same level as me?

  33. L.S. Cooper*

    I have an interview! Sort of!
    It’s with a consulting firm, so it seems like they’re mostly trying to figure out who I am, and the woman I’m meeting with has been emphasizing that this is casual and not really an interview, but it’s still progress, and I’m mildly terrified.
    I even checked Glassdoor, and nobody said anything about the interviews being particularly technically rigorous, which is comforting, but doesn’t give me anything to practice.

    Is anyone around here a recruiter for a consulting firm, or familiar with the process from the other side? Any tips?

    1. Ali G*

      My husband is an engineer and works in a consulting firm and they always give applicants problems to solve. But that is usually the second interview. I don’t think they do skills during the first interview/meeting. Good luck!

    2. JR*

      What kind of consulting? Are you familiar with case interviews? I would assume this isn’t a case interview since she emphasized it isn’t really an interview, but if they do case interviews at some point, prep specifically for those – they really are something you get better at through practice.

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        It is news because the recruiter did not make sure to hang up the phone before talking about the candidate. I don’t know the laws in Australia, the part that stood out to me was when they talked about how male candidates would not get the same kind of social media scrutiny.

        I do think a candidates social media profile can be used for hiring, but companies should implement strict guidelines on what is and isn’t acceptable. If they do check social media it should apply evenly to all candidates not just female candidates. The news clip did not show the candidates entire social media profile, but what I saw was not shocking, or risque.

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, that bit about her not having been scrutinized that way if she were a guy is POISON here in the US.

    1. Reliquary*

      Is this not a problem under Australian law? Surely gender discrimination in employment is illegal. This voice recording contains proof that this young woman’s social media profile would not have been scrutinized if she were a man.
      She needs to see a lawyer!

      1. WS*

        Yes, gender discrimination is illegal in Australia and has been for nearly 40 years. However, that video comes from one of the big tabloid current affairs shows, so I’m sure that everyone is paying out bit dollars and desperately trying to cover their bums right now.

  34. Cambridge Comma*

    Does anyone have any tips for finding remote opportunities that’s are truly location independent as opposed to US only? It’s often not clear or only clear in the small print where a vacancy is really supposed to be based. I recently spent hours applying to one that had ‘global’ in the title only to find on the 7th page of the application system that global means ‘anywhere in Michigan’ to that company.
    Also, any Europeans who have successfully applied to US remote jobs? Or will US candidates always be preferred?

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I don’t know the answer. But unfortunately, I can’t see too many jobs being truly global in the remote sense. Even jobs within the US get into some complicated tax implications when the HQ is based in one state the employee works in a different state. I would imagine it would get even more complicated for people working in an entirely different country. Even for some remote positions there might come a time where some travel might be needed. In terms of payment, would you get paid in USD or local currency, who would have to eat the conversion/exchange fees? If you are in a country that can’t easily travel to the US for work it could pose a problem. For those reasons I think most US only companies would probably want to hire US employees.

          But take that with a grain of salt, as I know nothing about it, just my 2 or 5 cents.

          1. TPS Report Coversheet*

            Well, programming is global as we speak. Outsourcing doesn’t really look if it is a company of 1 person or 100 if you need the job done.

            The tax is really not that complicated. You need to declare that you are not an US resident or national. I have this agreement with a freelancer site and they had this whole set of stuff to make sure I wasn’t liable for anything. Basically though you’d sell services like any other contractor, I would use a Ltd.

            As for money with Transferwise and couple other ones you can get an US bank account the money can be wired to. (Sending a check is iffy, well no, cashing them is iffy.)

            1. Jasnah*

              That’s only if the company is looking to outsource or hire a freelancer. It’s different when they’re expecting to hire a regular, full-time employee. Different countries have different requirements about how wages should be calculated and paid, how hours should be tracked, how taxes should be calculated and collected, what legal requirements need to be written down and agreed to… it’s not just a simple matter of “well we could hire a remote worker in Michigan which has tax & labor laws our HR reps understand, or we could hire someone in Singapore and definitely break some labor laws and get this poor person in trouble with our ignorance.”

    1. Lemmy Caution*

      I’d like to know about the US remote job situation as well. I’m an expert in a very niche toolkit and when I go anywhere, LinkedIn, GlassDoor, Reed, Monster… 90% of the jobs are in USA, and I’m sitting here in the UK like a lemon waiting for a gin. I’ve tried those gig work sites, but very little IT work shows up and it is usually very dodgy so I am probably looking at the wrong places.

    2. BOFH*

      I’d like to know about the US remote job situation as well. I’m an expert in a very niche toolkit and when I go search any jobsite… 90% of the jobs are in USA, and I’m sitting here in the UK like a lemon waiting for a gin. I’ve tried those gig work sites, but very little IT work shows up and it is usually very dodgy so I am probably looking at the wrong places.

    3. MoopySwarpet*

      See if you can find companies that are completely remote. You Need a Budget (YNAB) is one, I think Zappier is another. I’m pretty sure I’ve read about other “no physical location” companies on one or both of their blogs.

      I can’t remember if it was one of those or another, but they had job listings where they wanted people +/- x hours from x time zone because the team they would be working with was predominantly in x timezone or the clients were or whatever.

      There are also a few ESL companies/programs (I think one is called VIPkids) where you teach English to kids in other countries. If I remember correctly, they generally need a bachelor’s degree, computer equipment/internet that can handle the connection, and a willingness to work during certain hours that are local to the student.

    4. Ranon*

      For tech folks is a starting point. Keep in mind even fully remote companies usually need to have some kind of legal presence or at least paperwork in any country their employees are located in and an understanding of the labor laws in that country, it doesn’t mean they won’t do it for you if you’re an exceptional candidate but you’re much more likely to have an easier time if you’re the third person they’ve hired rather than the first.

    5. TPS Report Coversheet*

      Upwork is, but especially in coding you are always competing with guys from places where the money you ask per hour they ask per day.

    6. Fortitude Jones*

      I work for a software company that has a global presence and lets employees work remotely – I’m fully remote here in the US while the company is headquartered in a completely different state from where I live. I do travel for work, but the travel’s minimal. Check out tech companies with a global presence – they may be your best bet.

    7. Clementine*

      I think Automattic is in this category.
      You may do better to look for jobs listed as remote by European companies.
      Look at Angel List, as many positions there are remote.

  35. Tigger*

    So my boss sent the following email this week to the whole office
    ” let’s have a pizza lunch on Friday. We all have been humping and let’s take a moment to get together.”

    I died. What unfortunate typos have you seen in office emails

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      When a coworker was using voice to text and it interpreted “codecs” as “Kotex”.

    2. Lucette Kensack*

      Lol! I don’t think that’s a typo — just a poor choice of slang! “Humping” can be used to mean “working really hard.”

    3. NotMyRealName*

      You mean like the time coworker who meant to say she didn’t want to inconvenience me said she didn’t want to incontinent me?

      1. Art3mis*

        I used to see this all the time. Lotus Notes could not suggest the correct spelling of inconvenience no matter how you tried to misspell it.

      2. PseudoMona*

        I once received an email job rejection that closed with “We apologize for the incontinence”. At least I got a laugh out of that rejection.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      My boss routinely leaves the o off in hello so it’s usually Hell Client name!

      What could humping have meant? I’m trying to figure it out.

        1. Anathema Device*

          Whaaat? Last I checked it meant something you don’t do at work unless you’re in a Duck club.

        2. DaniCalifornia*

          Oh since the original OP said typo I was thinking the boss meant to type something else and humping came out.

          Yeah…I wouldn’t use that word anywhere near work :D

      1. Ana Gram*

        We use it in law enforcement. When you’re “humping calls”, you’re going call to call and having a busy shift. Weird in an office environment, though…

    5. Kathenus*

      Well, it could have been worse. Boss could have said changed the order to getting together first and humping second…

    6. SarahKay*

      A communication sent out to the (approx 10%) people that work on evening & night shifts with the subject of “Shit employees”. Followed by the sound, from three desks away, of the person who sent it going “No, NO, come back! don’t send….!” to our email programme as he spotted his typo, just too late.

    7. Not In NYC Any More*

      Public often became pubic in my world. I had my spell check set to highlight pubic any time it appeared in my writing – it should rarely come up in the finance world.

      1. AppleStan*

        That is the worst! Especially in government where people talk about their dedication to “pubic service”! I have trouble ever taking them seriously because honestly if you’re working in public service, you should be making sure you don’t type pubic service OR setting an autocorrect to catch that.

        I’m tolerant of a typo here or there, but that one just boils my potato.

    8. Dusty Bunny*

      Early spell check program consistently corrected client’s last name to Wombat. He received several memos and invoices addressed to Mr. Wombat before we realized it. I still find it amusing.

      1. Other Duties as Assigned*

        I once met with a software vendor who was touting the features of one product line. He said it had spellcheck, and had learned to live with it correcting his first name (Olaf) to Oaf.

      2. WS*

        I had a friend whose surname was “Teh”. She never, ever received correct correspondence.

    9. Miss Fisher*

      My one huge pet peeve is that so many people spell manager as manger. It drives me crazy. Also, we have a campus wide email that goes out every so often. for years it has been titled capus header instead of campus. It drives me crazy.

      1. RobotWithHumanHair*

        I’ve gotten resumes where manager is spelled like that. Multiple times on the same resume.

    10. Ella P.*

      Not in an email, but someone got a unicorn cake for someone’s birthday and my very conservative boss was helping slice pieces.. I get my turn and she says:

      Here Ella, have some of the @ss…


    11. PseudoMona*

      Not an office email, but a text from my manager mentioning that stripper season was starting soon.

      He’s really into fishing and his phone autocorrected striper to stripper.

    12. Alli*

      My favorite was an email that said “sorry for the incontinence” instead of “sorry for the inconvenience.” :-)

  36. Lucette Kensack*

    This is hypothetical – I don’t manage anyone at the moment – but based on past experience and observations of my current colleagues, both peers and folks senior to me.

    What should a manager do if they know they could “do better” by replacing an employee with someone stronger?

    What I mean is this: say you have a perfectly average employee. She meets her goals, does adequate work, doesn’t cause problems, etc. But she doesn’t go above and beyond, her deliverables are acceptable but not inspired, she’s not pushing the organization forward. She earns a “meets expectations” on her performance reviews. She’s average.

    But, given the current market in your field/region/etc., you are confident that if you opened a hiring process for her role you could hire someone better. Your employee may have been the best choice when you hired her, but the market has changed (say, a large local employer laid off half their staff and there are suddenly a bunch of talented people looking for work) and she wouldn’t be competitive in an open process now.

    What should you do?

    1. ArtK*

      Leave it alone! There’s a lot of disruption involved with getting rid of someone and hiring someone new. First, how do you fire someone who isn’t a bad performer? “Sorry, we think we can do better?” That would be a morale-killer for the rest of your employees. Second, you’d be taking a chance. You might do better, or you might not. You could find someone who looks stronger on paper but turns into a nightmare.

      TL;DR: The upside isn’t certain and the downside could be very bad.

      “If it ain’t broke, don’t ‘fix’ it!”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it really depends on context: Is she “good enough”? What kind of results is she getting — decent ones or middling ones? Is she coachable? What other positive traits does she bring to the organization? And also, what kind of work do you do? If it’s a cause-oriented nonprofit, you have more of an obligation to your mission to hire the absolute best people you can to get the best results you can. Depending on the answers to all of these questions, it could go either way.

      But you wouldn’t just fire her in any case — you’d say “the needs of the job have changed and this is what I’m looking for now” and you’d lay out new goals and coach her and give her some time to see if she can stretch to meet the new bar. Who knows, maybe if you set clear goals for her and coach her, you’ll be surprised.

      Also, though, it needs to be really true that you’ve raised the bar for the role. It can’t be that there’s one good person out there who you’d love to hire instead of her. There will always be one person you can find who’s better and you can’t fire people every time you spot one — it needs to be that the bar has genuinely changed.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      You don’t fire someone for meeting your goals. You change the goals. If you want 37 pieces of flair, ask for 37 pieces of flair. Don’t fire her because you tell her 15 pieces is the minimum, and she wears 15 pieces.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        That’s a useful frame!

        But… the results are the same, right? (Assuming that the employee doesn’t/can’t meet the new goals — which is obviously an assumption, but that’s the hypothetical that I’m playing with.)

        1. Anathema Device*

          No, they really are not. One situation tells the person what you actually want and one punishes them for doing what you say you want.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          No, I wouldn’t say the results are the same. Right now she’s (hypothetically) performing at the level she believes is adequate. If you tell her that level is no longer adequate, she might kick it into a higher gear. Or she might not, but she will at least have been given the message and the opportunity to act on it.

        3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          I would add that it’s quite likely that CurrentEmployee would ramp up faster and more efficiently than NewEmployee, since CurrentEmployee already understands the systems/processes/organization.

          So setting more stretch goals (which is probably a good idea for most employees, at least in professional work) in general is a good way to help employees grow.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Has it been made clear to her that her employer wants more? It hardly seems fair if her bosses have been acting like “meets expectations” is good enough, but haven’t been telling her they want something else.

      1. Lucette Kensack*

        This isn’t a specific person or situation. Just musing about how you would handle something like this.

        1. Anathema Device*

          Honestly, I’m not sure how realistic your imaginary scenario is.

          There’s room in most companies for both rockstars and solid performers. Someone dependable who meets expectations is a valuable employee. And as a manager, your job is partly to develop the employees you have, and to help them to develop the skills and qualities you would like them to demonstrate. You seem to be asking if you can replace staff instead of managing them.

    5. Lucette Kensack*

      Yikes, I wish I could rewrite the phrase after the dash — it looks like I’m implying that my current colleagues are examples of folks who are “just average.” I meant to say that the question is based on my past experience and my observations of other (past and current, peer and senior to me) folks who manage others. Sheesh, self.

    6. WellRed*

      So I feel like this could be me right now. I haven’t had any sort of raise in eight years, there is no path for promotion, my workload increased and our new corporate overlords have indicated they want to see a 25% increase in our revenues, but they are not investing a dime in staffing or infrastructure.
      So, to maintain my sanity while I figure out my next steps, I am not going to go above and beyond except where it suits me.

    7. JamieS*

      If I’m understanding correctly the job expectations haven’t really changed so she’s still meeting expectations but you’d be looking for someone who exceeds expectations. Many people, I’d guess most, meet expectations set for them but don’t put in extra labor to go beyond. Basic thought process of “these are my goals” and that’s what they focus to achieve and are satisfied when they do. So with that in mind, I’d keep her and start setting higher expectations for everyone in the role and then reassess.

      More broadly it’s just bad management to fire someone every time you think there will be someone better. For one thing there’s no guarantee the replacement will be better and for another employees aren’t going to ever try to go above and beyond if the company’s M.O. is to dump them soon as the next metaphorical pretty young thing crosses their path. After all, there’s always someone who’s better in some way. Not to even get into t having to constantly hire, train, and assimilate the new people.

      1. dealing with dragons*

        but it’s not really “exceeding” expectations – she’s actually not meeting expectations. it’s just no one told her the goalpost shifted.

        1. JamieS*

          No the OP states she’s meeting the expectations set forth for her. The hypothetical is Employee A is meeting expectations but Potential Candidate B could plausibly be better.

          If your job sets expectations for your role against which your measured and you meet those expectations they can’t just secretly change the expectations, not tell you, and then say you didn’t meet your goals. Well I guess technically they can but that’s a toxic lousy employer. No half-way decent employer would do that.

          1. dealing with dragons*

            if you’re “meeting expectations” but actually they want you to be “exceeding expectations”, then you’re not actually meeting their expectations.

            1. JamieS*

              I’m not going to continue to go back and forth with you on this. This is not a difficult concept. The OP stated the hypothetical employee met the expectations the company laid out. If they changed the expectations then they need to tell their employees. It’s not reasonable to tell employees one set of expectations and then judge their performance against another set of secret expectations.

              This would be like if you hired a contractor to redo your kitchen, secretly wanted them to also do your bathroom but didn’t tell them, and then at the end claimed they didn’t do their job properly because they only worked on your kitchen. It’d be ridiculous behavior.

              1. dealing with dragons*

                I’m not trying to go back and forth with you – I don’t think you’re understanding what my point is. My point is if someone is meeting expectations, but ideally they should be exceeding them, then that meets your criterion of changed expectations. The company is expecting someone to exceed their expectations, thus meeting those expectations means exceeding.

                Your last statement is exactly what I’m saying. In this person’s hypothetical, their employee is redoing the kitchen as was expected of them, but rather than let them know they want them to also do the bathroom as well they’re going to fire them and hire another contractor who will. The original contractor is possibly perfectly capable of doing bathrooms, but it’s not been communicated that it’s an expectation to meet. To me that’s what the original comment reads as.

    8. Willow*

      Unless you work in Lake Wobegon Industries, not all your workers will be above average. And average workers and mediocre workers need jobs (and the accompanying income) just as much as the rock stars do.

    9. Clementine*

      If you don’t have a coverage issue, you can give her a nice severance package and send her on her way Monday. It may have negative office repercussions, but if you feel it’s best for the company, then decide if you want to do that.
      I am not HR, though, so don’t rely on my ideas! Maybe another thing you can do is open a posting for the position with these new aspirational requirements, and invite her to apply for it with everyone else. That is going to be pretty awful while she’s still in the position, though.

      I would try to determine if you really can hire someone for the salary you want to pay who is as superlative as you say you can get. After seeing people try hard for months to do what should be relatively simple hires, I’m not sure it’s as easy as you think.

    10. dear liza dear liza*

      You dream about the possibility of hiring someone who turns out better, but you remind yourself that every person has flaws and challenges and at least you know this person’s strengths and weaknesses. Because rockstars can be assholes, and some are truly great at interviews and terrible as a colleague.

      For years, I had positive impressions of Jane through our professional organization; she was great in committee work, affable in meetings, full of thoughtful ideas.. And then I found out that at her work, she was the Fergusina to end all Fergusinas. You never *really* know what someone is like as a co-worker until you’ve worked with them.

  37. JustJill*

    About 2 years ago, I quit my job to follow my creative dreams! Fast forward to today and let’s just say things haven’t gone as planned. Etsy stores, Amazon, freelancing… I’ve tried multiple ideas and so far, things haven’t taken off quite as I’d hoped. That’s fine, and I’ve come to terms with it, but now it’s time for me to find a job again. I’m going back to the same field I was in before, and I’m honestly not sure what I should do about my resume. Do I leave everything for the last two years off? Will the big gap turn hiring managers off? The alternative is to include some of the creative things I’ve tried, but I don’t really have specific dates, responsibilities that transfer to this field, or anything really to show for it.

    So, what do you all think? Keep the resume gap or try to fill it in?

    FWIW I had sent out a few resumes with the gap and got some call-backs, but things have gotten rather quiet as of late.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      You already have your answer: “Freelancing.” Under that line item, list a few things you were working on or a general description of what you were seeking to accomplish.

      As an example, I had a 3-year gap between leaving a business I was running and entering law school. I held a number of jobs, most of which were at least tangentially related to writing and editing. So I have that item in my resume as “Freelance Writer And Editor.” The bullet points under the title include work during the actual time I was a freelance copy editor, and also a stint as a paralegal (where I was drafting correspondence and court filings).

    2. Elitist Semicolon*

      I’d encourage you to think of that not as a gap, but as a temporary change of field. It may not have been formal work experience, but you did learn something by running your own online stores and freelancing, and that can be valuable.

      For the more practical part of your question, you could reorganize by relevance to positions you’re applying for. “Teapot Grooming Experience” at the top, then “Relevant Experience” with any positions that weren’t specifially in teapot grooming but which overlap with the skill set needed there, then “Freelance Experience” for your creative work. Alternately, you could do “Teapot Grooming Experience” at the top, then “Other Experience” and list your two years outside the office as “Freelancer/Small Business Owner” with bullet points that frame your creative work in terms of the customer (“worked with customers to ensure satisfaction with product” or the like).

    3. TPS Report Coversheet*

      Freelancing is way better than a random gap. And you can elaborate as much or as little as you feel necessary. At one point I was doing short contract gigs so my CV would be 13 pages of random scatter. I just state being a contractor and list the umbrella company that did my payroll.

    4. cmcinnyc*

      I just put my freelancing on my resume. It’s work, it paid the bills, and that’s what I was doing for those years. It’s nothing to hide.

    5. Failed Artist*

      I was in a similar situation, only that I had a 6 year gap.
      I just put some info about my creative pursuits on my resume, saying something like: “Took a break from my career in “Previous Field” to pursue interests in “Creative Field”, and then a brief summary of what I did during those years.

      I’m pretty sure the gap does turn some hiring managers off, but what choice do we really have? It is what it is.
      I got a job in my “Previous Field” again, btw.

    6. ..Kat..*

      Well, you tried to start your own business. That sounds impressive to me. Can you list any skills you have from this time?

  38. Sequoit*

    Anyone have advice about how to develop better off-the-cuff speaking skills in meetings? I do a lot of group work in my position and I’m often expected to respond to an idea, vote on a decision or give feedback about something in the heat of the moment. I usually need alone time to process information, but that’s not always possible in these meetings. My colleagues and I have a good relationship and try to understand what I’m saying–I just can feel their confusion when I talk sometimes.

      1. Sequoit*

        I have relatives who are in Toastmasters and swear by it! I’ll take a look, thanks!

    1. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’ve had great success with Dale Carnegie classes although they can be pretty pricey. Honestly, I’d look to see if there is an improv class you could take through a local theater group.

    2. RandomU...*

      This sounds less about the speaking and more about the processing of information and formulating of thoughts? Am I reading that right?

      If it is, I would try a few things. Yes it’s not always possible to have as much time as we want to process and deliver thoughts. So in those instances like you described (in meetings where decisions or feedback are expected) I’d do a couple of things.

      Ask if there is information that you can review before the meeting (this won’t always be possible), if you don’t have the opportunity to prepare you can take some of the pressure off of you and start with something like “On the surface I think … ” “My initial thoughts are …” “I’d like a chance to noodle over this more, but can say upfront … “.

      One thing this does is takes the pressure off you to come up with the perfect response! Because many times perfection isn’t necessary, dialog and discussion is the aim.

      1. Kathenus*

        This is great advice. Then if you do preface comments with something like ‘initial thoughts’, do then follow up later with any additions or changes you have. If you don’t comment in the moment but think of things later, send those out. Everyone processes information differently. So if the feedback doesn’t actually need to be given that second, letting people know that taking you prefer taking some time to process the information to comment, or add to/amend initial comments, is a great way to be up front to let people know this is how you’ll be communicating.

        1. Sequoit*

          I definitely need to work on my follow-up! It’s definitely a culture of “everyone needs to say something” and so sometimes it feels overwhelming to have thoughts about everything. Maybe I should just focus on one or two important things to follow up on and that will make things easier.

      2. Sequoit*

        Oh, this is great advice! We often work without agendas, so I’ve been pushing for that, which helps! I’m going to try out some of those scripts and see if they help too. Thank you!

    3. Booksalot*

      I’m told that joining an improv group is good for this, though I’ve always thought the idea is a little problematic if you’re taking the spot of someone who genuinely wants to do comedy for the love of it.

  39. Curious About*

    Alison, on Tuesday’s post there was an OP who was concerned her more public dating life would hurt her as a public school teacher. Someone commented who’s job it is to dig into the social media of potential job candidates. They go into a deep dive far beyond the cursory glance and had some helpful tips for the OP on how to keep their life more private.

    I thought the commentator would be an interesting blog post where occasionally you interview people with unique jobs. Why their company dives so deeply? What causes red flags? What weird things have they seen? What’s a common mistake? How to keep your life more private?

    1. irene adler*

      Ya know- I wondered myself what circumstances warranted the “deep-dive”.
      I’d love to understand the “why” behind doing this.

    2. BadWolf*

      And if there’s someone with the same or very similar name that may be confusing (or negative), when/should you include any notes that this other person isn’t you? Like, “If doing online research for my name, you will likely get many hits for a BadWolf that was in the Florida news recently. Please be assured that is not me.”

  40. ArtK*

    I’m giving notice on Monday (has to be July to make sure I have insurance coverage.) Kinda scary.

    I’m thinking about giving two colleagues a heads-up today. Mostly as a courtesy since they’ll be the most affected by my departure.

    1. Professor Plum*

      You only need to wait until Monday. I’d suggest waiting–it’s better to be safe than sorry. It’ll look back on you if word trickles out to your supervisor before you have a chance to give notice.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I would wait because otherwise you introduce a risk that your news doesn’t wait until Monday.

    3. Auntie Social*

      Do it Monday. Tell them one second before you hand in your resignation, so they’ll know you told them first.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Also consider your (future) relationship with your manager. She might want you to handle letting your colleagues know in a different way. Depending on the context, the business may want to steer the messaging around your leaving.

      Now, if this is a situation where you would be walked out immediately upon giving notice, then the above (probably) doesn’t apply.

      1. ArtK*

        I don’t care about my relationship with my current manager one bit. I’m leaving the market and will have nothing to do with these people ever again. I have a good enough network that I won’t need a reference. As far as steering the message, they’re likely to order me to not tell anyone, which I’m going to ignore. There are people whose jobs are going to be badly affected by my departure and they deserve a chance to prepare. As far as external messaging is concerned, very few of our customers know I exist — but they will know when I’m gone.

        One of my fears is that they will walk me out. People have disappeared suddenly in the past and at least one of the executives is a vindictive bully. That’s why I’m not giving notice until 7/1 (new job starts 7/30 and benefits kick in 8/1).

        1. Observer*

          So wait till Monday. When you are ready to go tell your boss, tell your coworkers and go tell your boss.

        2. Good luck with that*

          If you have any concern about being walked out, you need to forward anything personal (or professionally useful) you have on your work equipment to your personal email or cloud storage *before* you say a word to anyone. Then delete it.
          If you have employment or benefits paperwork in the office, put it in your briefcase or purse. (Is it too late to take it home today?)
          I lost a lot of contact information for my professional organizations (AICPA & state society) once, when they had IT rescind my system credentials while I was still in HR.

          1. ArtK*

            Funny thing… no work equipment! I work from home. The PC I use is my personal one! I’ll be sending them a backup disk of whatever belongs to them, but otherwise they can’t touch this. Long history to this but the bottom line is that they blew the transition from the previous owners of the product and didn’t figure out all of the equipment issues. I raised some of this during the transition and got a patronizing “don’t worry, the adults will take care of everything” response. Another reason I want to leave this place: I’ve been through several M&A and have 36+ years of experience in the business and they can’t be bothered to even take my issues seriously.

    5. On Hold*

      Yeah, I agree with everyone else – as someone who just did this (told before giving formal notice), once it’s out of your control it’s truly out of your control. Knowing over the weekend won’t really make a difference, but you being walked out without insurance for the next month really would.

    6. ArtK*

      Follow-up: I gave notice via e-mail early this morning. I was waiting on my boss to respond before telling my two colleagues. Of course, the boss told one of the colleagues without ever responding to me.

      (There will probably be more for next Friday’s thread.)

  41. LLG612*

    I’m a nonprofit executive director who is venturing into nonprofit consulting after being contacted by a number of groups who have watched my career progression which has been marked by growing grassroots/startups into thriving, professional organizations. I’m flattered and would love to one day turn this into my main form of income as I’m invigorated by helping organizations grow. However, I’m at a loss as to what to do for pricing. I’ve been doing a lot of research and nothing is standing out to me as particularly nonprofit-budget-friendly. It seems that an hourly recommended rate is 2-3x your hourly rate as a salaried employee, but I fear that would be cost prohibitive to small groups. Are there advantages to doing hourly, project-based, up-front cost plus monthly retainer, etc.?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Hiring consultants is almost always a large expenditure for nonprofits, though. What I’ve often seen is that a smaller org writes a grant specifically for the consultation project: whether strategic planning, or training workshops, or planning the annual convention, or whatever. You have to charge a rate that meets your needs. Smaller orgs need to get their own act together and get their funding.

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Charge what you’re worth! And if it’s important to you to support small groups, perhaps decide you’ll do one project per (month/quarter/year) pro-bono, or that you’ll offer a discounted rate to certain types of groups, or you’ll offer a smaller package of services at a price that meets their needs. But it is normal and expected for consultants to have a big price tag, and orgs will pay it because of the value they receive.

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        This. It will be cost prohibitive to small groups — many many many things that would be improvements are cost prohibitive to small nonprofits (better volunteer tracking software, better compensation, better accounting practices).

        I’d charge what you’re worth (and if you’re having doubts, start with double what YOU think you’re worth, because you’re likely underestimating) and then find small concrete ways to help groups that can’t afford your full services (one hour free consultation per year, youtube videos that out line “best of” practices from your unique perspective, etc.). But do not base your business model on being affordable to every do-gooder organization out there, you will be penniless in six months flat.

    3. A Consultant*

      To your last question: I prefer to use project-based fixed fees for projects (I consult mainly with non-profits). That fee is calculated on my end based on the time I think it will take and my consulting rate — I agree with others not to short-change yourself in the fee setting. I think this model works well for me and clients: they know exactly what they will pay for X services/deliverables; and I know exactly what I will get, it’s up to me to manage my effort to not lose money on the deal. It also highlights the value of the service I provide, rather than time spent. That assumes your service can be bounded clearly as a project at the outset.

      I do sometimes, as folks below note, offer a discount on my fee/rate to very small clients or under certain circumstances. I advise making it clear to them the kind of discount they are getting, so that they get familiar with the true value/cost of your services.

  42. DC*

    Hiya! So I’ve been slowly looking for a new job while essentially doing the bare minimum with no motivation at my cushy job (as I’ve mentioned before, my leadership sucks, I’m the only LGBTQIA+ person left, as everyone else was fired in the last six months, etc etc).

    I just soft-interviewed (someone is trying to poach me, so we met to talk more about the role), and it would be right up my alley, a really nice pay bump..

    My current concern is my lack of motivation. I’m worried I won’t be able to muster the energy and drive to be a high performer again after all of this. I’m worried because I haven’t had any job description come across my desk that feels “exciting” and because this is still in the industry I was looking at pivoting a little farther away from.

    Does anyone have advice on how to get motivation and desire to be a high performer back?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I wouldn’t worry too much about finding that motivation in a new job. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’ve found that drive comes roaring back when you’re at a new job, no matter how demotivating and awful your last job was. Whether you’re excited because it’s shiny and new, or it’s something you really want to do, or that you want to prove yourself(/fear not performing well enough right away – but that might just be my past awful jobs speaking and not a real or healthy mindset), a change up is a real start to the system.

      Now if it’s to find that motivation and drive at your current job? Meh, I’d argue that it isn’t worth it, honestly. If you can do enough to get by while you search for a new job, I think that’s all the motivation you need. If you bump up your job search and decide that you truly want to leave, you might find yourself feeling better at your current job. I’ve found that once you’re truly taking action to exit a bad situation, it becomes less terrible to tolerate the bad situation – it’s easier to put up with something awful if you know it’s only temporary, plus you feel like you have some semblance of control in your life, which I know bad jobs tend to take away from you.

      1. DC*

        Thank you! I have never transitioned jobs in this type of headspace before, so it’s encouraging to know that the transition itself might be what I need.

        1. Rezia*

          I agree with Narwhal that you drive can come roaring back… but also, sometimes it takes a little while, and just know that so you don’t beat yourself up. When I left a really bad job, I was so burned out that it took a while to recover and I spent the first month at my new job, which I loved on paper, wondering why I wasn’t more excited. But then I eventually recovered from burn out and became actually excited and the high performer that I wanted to be.

          Either way, don’t short change yourself because you’re worried that you won’t have enough motivation in the new job. You can’t know. What you do know is that your current job isn’t a good one for you, so when something good comes along, take it! Good luck with the job search.

      2. Alianora*

        I agree — if you’re demotivated, there’s a reason for it. Changing the situation you’re in makes a big difference to your mood.

        My personal experience: I was in a job where my manager didn’t care about the work. She ostensibly worked full-time but she was only in the office about 20 hours a week, and whenever I had a question, her response was that I should make all the decisions. Which was mostly fine, but there were some things where I really needed guidance. I found myself procrastinating on everything (but still getting the work done because there wasn’t much of it to begin with), and feeling listless and slow. It bled over into my after-work life, too. Doing nothing is tiring.

        So I moved to a new job, and now I have coworkers and managers who care about the work we do. And let me tell you, I’m probably doing 10 times the work I did at my last job, but I have so much more energy. It did take a little while to get back up to speed, but I got a great 6-month review and my manager actually recommended me for a bonus.

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you are able to take even a short break between your current job and your new one, sometimes that helps reset the internal clock. Spend the time doing self-care and not chores. Not to sound too woo (I am not a woo person), journaling or visualization can help with shifting to a new mindset.

    3. baconeggandcheeseplz*

      I just went through this – I just started a new job this week after super burned out/unmotivated. I was really worried about this as well, since I did not take a week off in between (but totally should have, so if you can work that in, definitely do!). To A Simple Narwhal’s point, this job is a much better fit for me in a lot of ways, and I noticed that I’m getting back up to my baseline work ethic of being motivated/excited again without much effort. I tried to spend my evenings this week doing things I wanted to do (instead of things I had to do, ie. pack), since I wasn’t super tired anymore, and I think that also helped.

      Good luck!

  43. Professor Plum*

    I’m looking for a job when I haven’t had one for 4+ years. Took time off to care for elderly parent and have been slow to reengage. I have been volunteering for a local non-profit in significant ways. I’m seeing mixed thoughts on how to include the volunteer experience on LinkedIn–the work I’ve done for the non-profit is definitely relevant to my job search. What do you think–should I list it under work experience? or create a volunteer section?

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      It’s work experience whether or not you were paid for it. I totally list my legal work for Nationwide Civil Rights Organization as “work experience” even though only a short stint of it was actually paid.

    2. Elitist Semicolon*

      It might be useful to classify it as “relevant experience” rather than including it as “work experience,” if only to avoid any potential readers thinking you were an employee of the organization. Volunteer experience is absolutely valid experience, but usually when I see “volunteer experience” on a résumé, what follows is intermittent and/or part-time – like, say, cleaning cages at the humane society one morning a week, vs. being on-site three days/week to meet with prospective pet owners and also helping out the events team.

      1. Professor Plum*

        Thanks–yes, I can do that on my resume, and maybe I should elevate the volunteer work more there. But on LinkedIn I have to work with their pre-determined sections.

    3. 152.179*

      I would list it, in the job section, since you note that you volunteer in significant ways that are also relevant to your job search. I had such a placeholder for a few times (due to the military) that I was unemployed and volunteering until I was hired. For many employers, they love to see that you’re doing something and more so, something that has relevance to your skills and strengths.

      Ensure that you write your volunteer work, in the same manner, you would your jobs. Use metrics, show improvements, money savings, outcomes, etc. What you did, how you did it and the results. This volunteer gig will be a reference for you, too. Treat the volunteer job as a working job, when you interview.

      When you get a job, you could move it to a volunteer section.

      It’s ok to say why you volunteered for X many years ‘while you were taking care of a parent or family need’

      Good luck

      1. Professor Plum*

        Thanks–this break became longer than I anticipated, but it didn’t overlap with my caretaking.

        I like the thought of keeping the volunteer work with my other experiences for now. Started this question thinking only of LinkedIn, but now wondering about revising my resume to put this info front and center. I do address all of this in my cover letter, but it’s hard to anticipate how someone will read the gap in employment.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I don’t think anyone suggested this yet: On LinkedIn and your resume, clarify in the title that it was volunteer position, like “Really Awesome Position (Volunteer).”

      I may be paranoid, but it seems like it could come across as misrepresentation if it doesn’t say volunteer, but saying volunteer doesn’t devalue your accomplishments.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I do something like this. I spent two weeks* working on a very prestigious, internationally known project as a volunteer. Being able to go there and work involved an application process, so it did involve a certain amount of skill and dedication to get there. It is on my CV under “relevant experience” or words to that effect as “Amazing Job (Volunteer)”.

        *Two weeks is not a huge amount of experience but in this case having been accepted to work on it is a bit of a feather in my cap so I put it on the list. Also many jobs in my field are very short stints so it doesn’t look that out of place.

  44. Anathema Device*

    I have a nice story to share.

    My manager was promoted, and I applied for the slightly remixed version of her role, got an interview and didn’t get it, meaning I’m reporting to the person who did.

    She is making all the changes I wanted to see but would have struggled to make as an internal person still reporting to the same boss as before, and she has asked me about career progression and goals and how I want to develop. I am very very happy, and when I do make a step up it will be in a team that has been streamlined and improved. So yay.

    1. Anathema Device*

      I should add that I mean streamlining the work, not the people. The changes I wanted involve being much less hands off and providing far more support, gatekeeping with internal clients etc.

    2. AppleStan*

      YAY! This is wonderful! Congratulations!!!

      Sorry that was a ton of exclamation points. Having a manager that is invested in your professional development is always awesome!

  45. Jan Levinson*

    Am I able to take FMLA due to a miscarriage?

    My husband and I found out I was pregnant about two weeks ago (after a year of trying!) About a week after finding out (last Thursday morning) I began to miscarry. I did not go to work Thursday or Friday, due to both the physical and mental pain. To note, I’ve been at my company for four years and have only taken a 1/2 day off for being sick, ever, and am never gone unexpectedly like I was last week. When I came back, my manager (who I had texted and candidly explained what was happening while I was out) told me I needed to use vacation time for the two days I was out. I told her I planned on taking those days unpaid instead (our vacation time is pretty poor; I only get 56 hours in my first four years – I finally get bumped up to 80 hours next year). She told me that she would not allow unpaid days before I’d used all my vacation time. I only have two days of vacation left, which I planned on using for a beach trip in October (I hadn’t request off yet as my husband just got a new job and we were still trying to find out the exact dates that will be best). I told her about the upcoming trip, and she said that I could take those days unpaid, since I will be out of vacation hours, UNLESS anyone else also requests those day(s) in October who DOES have vacation left. In that case, they will take precedence.

    I’m not super worried about someone requesting the same days off in October since our office is fairly small, but after this conversation happened, I did some research and it appears I might be able to take FMLA for the two days I was gone last week (and save my vacation!) Obviously, I did not plan to be out of the office, or want to be under the circumstances. Does anyone know for sure?

    1. Forkeater*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t understand why this wouldn’t be sick time. Do you have HR you can consult with?

      1. Jan Levinson*

        We don’t have paid sick time – only 56 hours of vacation/personal time (basically, whatever you want to use it for). Obviously since it’s so limited, I don’t like to use that time for anything but vacation. Thank you for your sympathies!

    2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I am so sorry for your loss. How awful of your boss, too, ugh. Her stance would make more sense if she didn’t know why you were out, but you told her, so double ugh.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Thank you so much.

        Yeah, I was pretty frustrated by her response, but unfortunately not surprised.

    3. LGC*

      1) I’m so sorry! That’s awful.
      2) Your boss SUCKS.
      3) 7 days of combined PTO?!

      I’m off today, so you can give me your boss’s number so I can yell at her. And then ask to be put through to HR so I can yell at them to give you decent PTO.

      To be serious, though, I think you can clue your boss (and HR) in that you had a medical emergency and that’s why you were out. Hopefully they’ll be more sympathetic.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        1.) Thank you for your sympathies.
        2.) Yes…unfortunately, I’m not surprised by her reaction (or lack of sympathy). I did tell her the reason I was out, but she didn’t even ask how I was doing when I returned.
        3.) Yes…also unfortunate. Haha. I’ve tried to schedule vacations in past years to where my vacation includes a holiday like memorial day or labor day so at least I’m not using all of my vacation time in one trip. How I would love to take a two week European vacation though! In contrast, my husband just started a job and has SIX weeks of vacation!

        Thanks for the offer to yell at my boss. :)

        1. LGC*

          I missed this when I first read this post, but…she knew you were having a miscarriage (or at least a medical emergency) and her response was, “Well, that means you can’t take time off in October?!”

          Like, she didn’t even say you could take it unpaid because – you know – following procedure to the letter is more important than being sympathetic to an employee that suffered a major loss?

          That’s seriously messed up.

          That said, everyone else has covered the FMLA thing. Generally, we’ll zero out the balance for PTO/sick leave (depending on whether the employee is FT or PT) even when they’re subject to FMLA/my state’s leave laws (which are a bit stronger than federal law). In your case, we wouldn’t have gone through any sort of formal process since you were only out two workdays (we’re the kind of place that requires doctor’s notes, but only after three consecutive workdays out).

    4. fposte*

      FMLA doesn’t necessarily mean you save your vacation days, though; they can require you to take PTO concurrently with FMLA.

    5. Interplanet Janet*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I have been there, and it sucks. <— understatement

      FMLA doesn't mean paid. FMLA just means you're allowed to take time off and keep your job.

      I don't know from legalities, but especially if they are lumping all your paid time off together, I suspect they're allowed to a have a policy that says you have to use your paid time before you can take unpaid time. (In my experience, companies usually prefer not to have too much earned vacation time on the books because it shows up on the balance sheet as a liability, so policies like this are common.)

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Thank you so much. It is really difficult (and I’m sorry for your loss, as well! I imagine that pain is always there.)

        I wasn’t aware of that being the case for FMLA, thank you. Sounds like it might just be one of those “it is what it is” scenarios!

        1. Interplanet Janet*

          It was many years ago. The miscarriages do still make me sad when I think of them, but I rarely do anymore — my oldest is 15 now. I got lucky and had something treatable (bicornuate uterus — a thing to ask about if nobody’s checked <— unsolicited advice, sorry), and I am now the proud mama of three beautiful kids, one of which was even a late-in-life surprise!

          I hope things go similarly better for you in the future. Hang in there.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry for your loss. I wish you had a better boss and a better sick leave policy.
      I am hoping the future is much better for you.