open thread – August 9-10, 2019

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 1,946 comments… read them below }

  1. Coffee Bean*

    Negotiating for a promotion and raise, here is my Q:
    (for context, I am in Finance)

    While I am negotiating for a promotion and raise, my manager and grand-manager keep using phrases like “even to get this (small % increase) has been such a large fight” and “we are fighting but having trouble getting it approved”. They say these things, indicating that higher levels within the company are the roadblock, while simultaneously saying everyone within the Financial Org higher up agrees I should be paid X amount more. I even directly asked, “Is there something I need to be doing to justify this increase” with their response being that I am (and have been for a while) performing at that level, already doing the higher-level work that the promotion would entail, and providing the value that would justify the pay. With Budgets coming up I even asked if this is something they could budget for, so they could then raise my salary to be at market rate with this promotion and not exceed 2020 budgets, and they still started talking about “approvals”, again implying that someone somewhere is stopping them. So, given the two messages, is it HR stopping the pay increase, or are they using this Boogeyman as a negotiation tactic?

    At this point in my career, I have not been in a place to advocate for someone else’s pay/raise, so I am really curious, what & who are roadblocks that managers typically face when trying to get someone else a promotion?

    1. MonteCristo85*

      I think finance has a hard time fighting for pay raises because they are the ones always doing the doom and gloom to the other departments. It does seem to reduce their fighting capital, if that makes sense. My experience is usually that promotions and large raises are usually sort of a consensus among upper management (all departments, not just which ever one you belong to) so if the department itself doesn’t have clout, or if the person in question isn’t well know by outside departments, it can be difficult to get these things approved. But sometimes they just don’t want to waste the capital, so they do fall back on this as a bogeyman. It is hard to say.

      1. De Minimis*

        Another reason I think is just that we finance people are support employees and we don’t generally bring in revenue. I work in non-profit and often raises/promotions usually go to people who are doing the “program work.” On the opposite end, support people are usually the first to be laid off or have their salary reduced.

        1. Jadelyn*

          Man oh man do I feel you on this. I’m in non-profit as well, support staff (HR), and while my current org is pretty good, there’s definitely a tendency to prioritize the needs of program/funding staff, and give support staff whatever scraps are left. And I’ve heard absolute horror stories about other nonprofits that are even worse.

      2. Coffee Bean*

        Thank you both, MonteCristo and De Minimis.

        You both are probably right – finance in general is the cost savvy, support group. Making our starting position a little bit more challenging than other departments.

    2. gbca*

      Manager in finance here. I have promoted two employees. Our company has a standard 7.5% increase that HR recommends for promotions. However, the department leader ultimately has discretion. One of the employees I promoted had been underpaid, so I asked HR to pull the salaries of people at his new level and set him at the 25th percentile of that group, which was more like a 13% raise. My boss was on board and since she owned the budget she had authority to approve. I think HR had to approve, but since I had a data-based approach I was able to justify it.

      Every company is different though and it is entirely possible HR or other executives may be able to block a larger increase. But if all the finance leadership truly believes you deserve more and there are no internal equity issues, honestly I think it’s a little BS and them hiding behind the cloak of “the powers that be”.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Thank you gbca.

        The way you approached your employees raise was really smart! In my personal situation, I do believe that the equity issues are actually the opposite way, largely due to how low of a starting salary I initially took to “get my foot in the door”. Absolutely my fault, but I definitely want this fixed as I realize I am paid so much less than others here with the same or similar experience.

        1. gbca*

          I will add it’s typically MUCH easier to get a higher salary bump with a promotion than the annual review/increase process. In the latter case leadership had a fixed budget for raises and they really couldn’t give someone a raise that was too far out of line to address equity issues. I recall one employee who got stuck in that situation. He was a great employee and ended up leaving the company. So definitely fight for it with the promotion. You might want to also consider very (very!) gently implying that you might be looking elsewhere if you’re not getting paid what everyone admits you deserve. It’s a strong market, particularly in non-management roles. We were having a heck of a time filling finance analyst roles at my company; our recruiters were having to actively reach out on LinkedIn to find candidates and it was still tough. So depending on where you’re located you likely have some power here. Of course, you’ll have to be extremely careful about how you handle that because you don’t want to come off like you’re giving an ultimatum.

    3. CupcakeCounter*

      I had a similar situation and my boss provided documentation to show me where the road block was. The VP of Finance had the final approval and he kept “losing” the documents. Boss handed me copies with every signature except the VP since he knew I was getting really frustrated and ready to leave. Those docs came in handy when I did actually put in my notice and when he forced a meeting on me to try to get me to stay (since I was such a valuable member of the org and ALL OF THEM had tried so hard to get me the raise and promotion) and I could put the blame directly on him.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Oh man, I hope you were leaving for a much better position and salary. That sounds like it felt amazing – in my head, you just fanned out all the docs in front of you with stickers indicating the blank signature line with VP’s name under it and said nothing. at. all.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          Nope – better. Since I wouldn’t go to his office (I was leaving what the hell did I care), he came to my desk in the cube farm so I got to pull them out one by one in front of lots of people.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            That’s the dream scenario! “Allow me to demonstrate to everyone in this room how opposed you are to adequately compensating your staff!”

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      A piece of advice I wish someone had given me years ago is that when someone says “I’ve had to fight real hard to get you [table scraps]” you should ask them how they’ve been fighting for you. Not in a snotty confrontational way, but in a genuine information-seeking way. Because then either you’ll get real information on the steps someone has taken for you and you’ll understand the struggle, or you’ll get some handwavy/stammery answer that reveals that they haven’t actually fought that hard for you, and that’s good info to have.

      Apologies that this doesn’t actually answer your question, but my hackles get raised whenever I hear of managers “fighting” for someone. And sometimes they truly are! But more often I feel it’s a diversionary tactic.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        Love this! Thank you Narwhal – I will absolutely ask this question the next time, because you are right, regardless of their answer the information is good to know.

    5. Fortitude Jones*

      So, given the two messages, is it HR stopping the pay increase, or are they using this Boogeyman as a negotiation tactic?

      It could be either one. I know at my company, salaries, bonuses, and raises are set by line management, but have to be approved by the company’s CFO. So if CFO says no to an increase, that’s pretty much it – HR and line management has no say. On the other hand, I l’ve worked at companies where HR did have the final power over these things and line managers could theoretically use their political capital to negotiate an increase for whoever they wanted, so if you got a lousy raise, it was most likely because your boss didn’t advocate for you. It’s hard to tell in your situation, but since you’re in finance, they may be telling the truth that there’s no money in the budget to get you up to the level you need to be at market rate.

    6. Jadelyn*

      It depends entirely on your org structure – and I mean both official and unofficial. If your department head approved the raise, but your setup requires that the SVP also approve all raises above a certain amount, maybe the SVP is the roadblock. Or maybe another department head feels like their team hasn’t gotten budget for raises this year, so why should anyone else, and is nudging the SVP into denying the raise, even though that other department head isn’t over you and has no official say on the raise.

      It might be HR – it shouldn’t happen this way, but I know sometimes it does, where someone’s raise request, if granted, would raise parity issues with others in similar roles. And if HR is aware of that, and especially if there’s any trend along race/gender lines…well, the right thing to do is to fix it for EVERYONE, but whether you’ve got crappy HR who decides not to or org leadership refuses to let them, it’s not going to get fixed for everyone, and so you can’t have your raise either.

      It might be that your new rate is outside, not the budget, but the established salary range for your position (if your org uses ranges like that), and the policy is that there are no salaries approved above-range, so they’d have to redo the whole range to give you the raise you’re asking for, which might mean realigning big chunks of their comp structure. And that’s a ton of work, tbh. I’m…let’s say comp-adjacent in my role, so I don’t do the actual job assessments and market research and level-setting and balancing that goes into setting up and maintaining a comp structure, but I work closely with the guy that does, so I have some idea of what that would entail.

      There are a surprising number of spots where a raise can get blocked or bottlenecked. Without knowing the details of your company, it’s hard to say for sure.

      1. cmcinnyc*

        Jadelyn, this is so helpful. I just got a meh-ish raise after a couple of years of big raises to fix a parity issue. I’m still kind of “behind” and this meh raise is still ok, just not great. My boss said it could possibly be revisited in 6 months, and talked about raising it to our new division head at that time. This breakdown helps me think of questions for my boss about what might be blocking a raise instead of just focusing on my own performance and trying to earn a raise.

        1. Coffee Bean*

          Seconding cmcinnyc here – this really does help understand the different types of roadblocks that can happen within a company. Thank you Jadelyn.

          1. Jadelyn*

            Happy to help! Being in HR and “comp-adjacent”, I see a lot of the behind-the-scenes conversations and negotiations and politicking and other maneuvering that goes into allocating salary budgets and raises. I can’t share the details with the people it’s affecting at my org, but I can at least help draw back the curtain a little in general terms for folks outside my org. :)

        2. Jadelyn*

          Ooh, you’ve got a new division head and an existing parity issue they’ve just finished fixing? Yeah, I’d guess it’s top-level politicking getting in your way here, with maybe a bit of comp structure issues thrown in for good measure.

          Definitely see if you can get your boss to explain why it’s being blocked – but also be prepared for the answer to be “that’s confidential” or something to that effect. If we had staff negotiating pay issues who asked why their raise is being held up, if there’s *any* politicking involved, the answer is going to be “because reasons” basically, since they don’t want to air upper management’s dirty laundry. *rolls eyes*

          And of course, the unfortunate truth is that there’s no guarantee that this *is* a real blockage and your boss isn’t just saying that because he’s avoiding taking responsibility for his decision not to give it to you (for whatever reason). But pressing for reasons might help that come out, too, depending on how your boss answers. I wish you luck!

    7. Artemesia*

      In my experience (not in finance) when bosses say this, chances are always good that they have in fact not done a thing to get you more money. Maybe they know it is feckless or maybe they are too lazy or don’t want to burn their capital, but I bet they have not in fact been strongly advocating for the raise but are shining you on. At this point, looking elsewhere is the key to getting paid better; if you can’t find a better job that pays more you don’t have to tip your hand or take a job you don’t want, but it seems clear you will not be well compensated where you are.

    8. Lauren*

      I would respond, thank you for being blunt with me about this. I appreciate your honesty, and ask if they will be a reference for you while you begin looking for a new job. Let them freak out, and say back to them – but you said this isn’t possible – i appreciate how honest you were with me and I’m being honest with you. I want market rate, and I’m not willing to keep compromising / waiting for something that I can get elsewhere. It is what it is. As you said, it won’t be approved. I tried, you tried on my behalf already. When I find another job, I’ll give 3 weeks notice – but i’ll start doing some transition document now.

      Then get up, and thank them again and leave the room.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I wouldn’t tell them I was planning on leaving, especially not being in finance – finance departments sometimes walk departing employees out the day they give notice. No, it’s best to make a mental note of it, tell yourself you’re leaving, job search like crazy, and then put in notice when you have another job in hand.

    9. ..Kat..*

      I recommend that you say some version of the following to your manager: “I am being paid below market rate (make sure you know what market rate is), in fact, I am being paid less than people at this company who do my same job with my same title. Yet, you are telling me that I cannot get a raise? That if I want to be properly compensated for my work that I will need to find a position at a different company?”

      Are you female? Are the people making more than you in the same position male? Are you in the USA? Might be illegal. IANAL.

      1. ..Kat..*

        Also, point out that you are being told that you are excelling at this level (if indeed you are).

  2. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

    My terrible employee has handed their notice in this week! They were about halfway through their (informal) pip, and not doing well, so they were likely going to be going formal at the end of it. I am still uncertain as to whether they are genuinely that incompetent, actually horrendously lazy or honestly convinced that I was an evil demon boss for actually expecting them to follow a key job process correctly 90% of the time.
    They are currently working their notice, well I say working… they have been consistently telling me they have completed tasks, I check them and they haven’t been completed. They then act extremely put out when I ask them to redo the task. My old manager enabled a lot of his behaviours, but when they left I took over managing him, and my temp manager/mentor sees things my way (ie that he is a liability to the department). He has 3 weeks left, but my temp boss is speaking to grand boss to see if there is anything we can do to push him out eg garden leave. As at the moment I’m having to redo a significant amount of their work as it’s so poor quality, that it’d be easier for me to have done it in the first place!

    This individual is very popular in the department, they are charming and gregarious, and I imagine if I didn’t have to manage his work I’d like him too. The individuals on the floor that he is particularly close to have been decidedly frosty to me of late – I imagine that his version of this tale is that I’m a mean micromanager and that I’ve put him on an action plan because I hate him and that I’m not accepting of his working styles.

    Anyway, my question is:
    What script should I use when people say things to me like ‘Oh I bet you’ll miss him’ or ‘he’ll be a difficult team member to replace’ – when in truth this was one of the biggest things I hated about my job! I’m aware he was popular on the floor, but I don’t think anyone was really aware of how bad his performance was! I’m happy to give some sort of vague pleasantries, but also I feel like all his gossiping about me has likely turned some people against me and I don’t know if I should address it?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      “Well, I wish him the best.”

      You don’t have to directly address the substance of what was said, just make a pleasant vague response. Like saying “Well that certainly is a baby.”

          1. Michaela Westen*

            That might be a little too positive. Is a person who doesn’t do his work really a team member?

          2. Elitist Semicolon*

            A co-worker once said, “Whenever there was a problem, she was there” in a reference check for a particularly whiny colleague.

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      There’s no need to tell people how awful he was, you can simply mildly agree with these comments, or turn the conversation to either “we have some candidates in mind” or “we’re looking for candidates, so please keep an eye out!”

      1. Antilles*

        In fact, I don’t think you even could address the substance of his gossiping or try to set the record straight. There’s nothing you can say that’ll change people’s minds – at best, it’ll look like you’re a little petty and can’t let stuff go; at worst, it’ll be interpreted as a confirmation of exactly what he was saying.
        That said, you don’t really need to. It’ll die down very quickly after he joins his new company and loses contact with people. Just take the high road, continue to be competent and professional, and let this roll off.

        1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

          I do hope it dies down!
          I really don’t want to seem petty – it’s just so frustrating as we have done so much to help him and he’s really not put the effort it. It’s been nearly a year of performance issues before it went informal, and several major mistakes/errors – in a private company he’d have been fired. As we’re Govt that wasn’t an option, however, even by our govt body standars we’ve been very lenient (and the policy is already lenient!)

      2. Sheik Yurbooti*

        Unfortunately, you cannot share with the team the reasons he is being fired. It’s part of being a manager. I understand you want to be liked but the truth may never be known. You can only give generalities like “We’re moving on with a replacement.” I also think turning it around on people would be a good way to deflect: “If you have any great candidates for referral, I would be happy to see their resume!”

    3. Aunt Vixen*

      Sounds like a great time for a noncommittal “It sure will be different here without him!”

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        I love that because it can be interpreted either way (you liked him or you didn’t).

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          My stepfather used to describe unwanted gifts as “the finest example of its kind”. I think “He was one of a kind!” is the equivalent for an unwanted person.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      Regarding the scripts to use with people – is there a quality or something about him that you actually do appreciate and will miss? Maybe you could use that to come up with a few phrases to use. Something like “People are really going to miss his sense of humor/kindness/whatever.” Or “It’s always tough when someone leaves, for sure!” Or “I’m hoping he finds a great opportunity and everything turns out great for him!”

      Basically, you just need to acknowledge that this is the way this person feels, but you don’t have to pretend to be super sad.

      1. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

        I could probably go with enthusiasm, as he was very enthusiastic, just not about his assigned work!

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I do wonder, though, whether there weren’t a few people who are less positive about him. Someone who is truly awful isn’t usually just awful to their supervisor. Or is the job of a kind where there is no interaction between co-workers, where no one else’s task depends on that employee’s task being executed correctly and in a timely manner?

    5. MtnLaurel*

      If it were me, I’d just do a simple agreement on the “difficult to replace” (“he sure will!”) or on the “I bet you’ll miss him”, respond with something like “I’ll certainly miss his (endearing personal quality unrelated to his work).” Like, “I’ll miss his smiling face/silly jokes/cute ties.”

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        I’ve been in RDOD’s position before, and could NOT make myself give compliments to my departing troublesome-yet-popular employee. When my colleagues said, ‘I’m sure you’ll miss him,’ or ‘He’ll be hard to replace,’ or anything else that invited me to agree with their positive comments, I just slowly nodded my head and responded, ‘Mmmm!’

        People who didn’t know the whole story assumed I was agreeing with them, and dropped the subject. Sometimes you don’t need actual words, right?

    6. !*

      I absolutely hate these situations where everyone likes the employee (if they don’t have to work with them!). I have one of those now, but the kicker is that not everyone likes him, he does crappy work (if at all), is inconsiderate, and has even *bragged* that he’s an asshole! Of course he’s been having troubles with his health so my boss says her hands are tied to do anything about him, which I don’t understand because he sucked before his illness and nothing has changed after the fact.

      People from the outside of the situation looking in have no idea how frustrating and demoralizing it is for someone to work with a person like this. And there really is no good way to explain it so that others don’t think it’s a personal issue!

      Good for you for trying to make a positive change for those who have to work with this terrible employee, I wish my boss would do the same. :(

    7. Hiring Mgr*

      I would try to reframe this internally from “he’s probably spreading terrible lies about me” to “he’s probably a good guy who just wasn’t a fit for this role, which he realized also”

      As others have said, once he’s gone people will forget about it anyway…

    8. QCI*

      “I bet he’ll be hard to replace”
      ~”I certainly hope so!”
      Probably not as professional as AAM.

      1. Autumnheart*

        “He’ll be difficult to replace!”
        “I’m sure he’ll be difficult wherever he ends up.”

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Just smile and nod along. Don’t correct them, just say “It’ll be a process to replace anyone who leaves but we’ll get through this transition period!”

    10. LCS*

      I’m a fan of the “Change can certainly be a challenge” sort of response that kind of sounds sympathetic to their “losing him will be hard” comment, but makes it not about the individual specifically. And then it’s a good segue into how change also brings opportunity, what the search/referral process looks like for a replacement, etc.

      1. MaxiesMommy*

        “Yes, it’s hard when (work) friends leave. . . .” So you’re acknowledging their POV, but staying silent on his abilities and attitude as an employee. The “friend” comment is also code for “That’s fine for you but I have a department to run”.

    11. Amethystmoon*

      Had a co-worker like that for 3 years. He was absolutely terrible when it came to accuracy (and this was a data entry job) and totally unreliable as far as completing tasks. I had to stay late and fix his errors a lot of the time, but people liked him because he could be nice and charming. Even though to me privately, he send weird text messages that attempted to be controlling, but I didn’t let him. He never got fired; I changed jobs to not put up with him anymore. You probably aren’t going to be able to change your team member’s minds, as he is probably spreading false information about you when he chats with them.

    12. JennyFair*

      For some reason what springs to mind is Miss Elizabeth Bennett’s response to how her family will bear the departure of the Army Regiment: “I think we shall bear their absence quite well.”

    13. AliceInWonderland*

      I have had a few departures from my team where I was secretly relieved/pleased the individual was leaving. My responses were a cheery “It happens that people move onward and upward! I’m happy for Name. For our team, we’ll be just fine – I’ve already thought of how the work will be distributed, and we’ll have interviews in the coming weeks”.

      1. AliceInWonderland*

        Your team members should feel comforted by diplomacy, and it will make you look bigger if you keep it positive.

    14. OhBehave*

      My first thought was to get rid of him now. Hopefully something can be done such as move him to a different task.
      You really can’t diss him to his peers. You can speak honestly to your equals.
      As to the frosty treatment you are getting, that needs to be addressed if it continues. That will continue if not nipped in the bud! It undermines your authority.

    15. Middle Manager*

      That sucks and I’ve been there. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with as a manager. I had a poor performer who told anyone who would listen that I was an evil micromanaging jerk. And for awhile I know at least some people believed her. In the end it came out pretty clearly to everyone when she screwed up some data that was key to a lot of people and they all got to experience the consequences of her incompetence and laziness first hand. Even though it sucked to not say anything before when she was bad mouthing me, in the end it was definitely worth it bc I never want to be that person as a manager.

      Maybe once your guy is gone and someone good is in the job people will realize the difference?

    16. Documentor*

      Someone else wrote to this already, but this person is showing the worst reasons for allowing an employee to work out notice – poisoning the well and creating extra work. The bigger issue to frostiness is that the co-workers who do have this person’s number are looking for you to take action. Letting it ‘die on the vine’ shows that you will allow the bad to walk all over a situation. You don’t say whether early termination is an option, but at minimum garden this person or outright get rid of him as soon as you can. This lets everyone move on to the next things, and helps to set a tone of what you won’t tolerate.

  3. ThatGirl*

    Frustrating happening this week that I’m hoping isn’t some larger sign of trouble here. I just moved to a new department that’s not customer-facing and was looking forward to occasionally taking advantage of the company’s work-from-home policy. But on Tuesday we were informed that the company is revoking the “privilege” for everyone – allegedly because some folks either were complaining that they can’t get work done with others out of the office or because people were taking advantage of the policy. There have also been rumors swirling that it wasn’t truly the whole company, just marketing and sales, since other departments don’t seem to have heard about it yet. It also seems to be related to disappointing financial performance, which is not really the fault of any one department—the global supply chain has been hugely affected by the tariffs currently in place, for instance, plus various weather disasters.

    Now, on a personal level, the revocation of WFH doesn’t affect me a great deal — I can use sick time for dr appointments and usually have a little extra PTO if I need it for things like car trouble or vet appointments. We’ll have to figure out how this affects inclement weather, but I’ll manage. But on an employee level, it feels punitive — why should we be punished? It feels both demoralizing and like bad management. And it makes a lot of us wonder why, after lots of talk about employee engagement and retention, they would be taking away perks and privileges, and whether more are potentially on the chopping block.

    There’s a town hall meeting next week which I’m actually going to miss, but we’ll see if more comes out then…

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      My company put something similar in place; when we questioned it as a larger group “no more work from home” turned into “no more regularly scheduled work from home, but of course you can ask your manager for one-offs like bad weather or waiting for a service person”. Hopefully that’ll be what happens for you as well.

    2. MonteCristo85*

      We had an interesting thing where a Anti-WFH policy was put in place on our network, but not announced to anyone. It was very restrictive, stating that every single instance must be approved, in writing, by the CEO. Some people found it, and there was a general outcry (we are a start up, very flexible, people work crazy hours, but is has always been ok to do it from home, plus we have sales people that don’t live in the state). It made it up to the CEO, who squashed it immediately. The policy was completed scraped, and we are back to being adults who can manage their own time and schedules. It was a weird interlude, not sure what was the purpose of the original document, I guess someone was flexing?

    3. Dana B.S.*

      I’m not really sure why you mention doctor’s appointments, car trouble, or vet appointments because WFH wouldn’t apply anyway since you’re attending to personal matters. Inclement weather is always a gigantic hassle at all workplaces.

      On its own, this doesn’t sound like an indicator of trouble. It could be a sign of poor management, but it also could just be related to the fact that these jobs really don’t fit for WFH and the experiment failed. It’s too difficult to judge when you’re new to an organization.

      1. Catherine de Medici*

        It’s an issue when you live in a city with long commutes. I telework whenever I have a doctor’s appointment or vert appointment so that I only need to take an hour off, not half a day or more depending on appointment time. Smart managers would allow this so people can still be productive and not waste what little leave time they likely have. I have zero patience for not-friendly telework places when you don’t need to physically be in the office to do your work.

        1. Dana B.S.*

          All of my jobs have been in a city with long commutes, but I generally work in companies with a natural state of distrust towards employees. It’s rubbing off on me. I wouldn’t dream of doing car maintenance any day except for Saturday.

          1. Catherine de Medici*

            My current agency (fed) is super flexible. Core hours are only 10-2:30 Tuesday-Thursday and any four consecutive hours on Mondays and Fridays. As long as you cover core hours with work or vacation time and put in 80 hours every pay period, you can come in or leave whenever without needing approval. We also have credit hours that you can roll over if you work more than 80 hours. With telework, as long as my work is getting done, my boss doesn’t care what we do.

            I got offered a promotion in a different office but same agency that I turned down because they have a jerk for a branch chief that only allows telework once a week and has the staff meetings on Friday afternoons. Both of these violate the agency-wide policies and I guarantee they are worse in other ways.

            1. nonymous*

              Varies by agency and how the various heads choose to interpret the same policy. Our core hours are 9-3P and some of the supervisors put up a big stink about remote workers in other time zones. Are core hours in HQ timezone or local? Timekeeping policies say it’s tied to duty station, but there were enough loud complainers that my start time is 6A so that people could “see” that my IM status as available about the same time that many people get into work where they are located, which is 2hrs ahead of me.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Sometimes the car simply does not cooperate, and the battery is dead in your driveway on a Tuesday. And it’s the alternator. Good Times!

          3. DC Weekend*

            I’m so fascinated by this (in a genuinely curious, non-judgmental way!). I’m the exact opposite and would never WFH without doing a few life things when it was quiet. It’s one of the perks of WFH. I’ll note that I WFH rarely and my work is such that as long as i am paying attention to email and get things done in a timely manner, nothing else really matters. I live in DC in case that makes a difference as well.

            1. LizB*

              Yeah, when I’ve had positions where I can WFH, I often do a couple life things on a WFH day — it usually takes up about as much time as I spend on an office day chatting with coworkers, refilling my coffee, and all the other little distractions of office life. Or sometimes I’ll start working at the time I would normally start my commute, and then take a chunk of time in the middle of the day. As long as everything gets done and I’m responsive to email and phone, it doesn’t matter.

        2. EH*

          This. I don’t even have that long a commute, but if I have anything going on in the town where I live, it adds at least 45min to my out-of-office time if I go in to work rather than working from home. I live on the east side of town and commute to a town further to the east, so when I have appointments in the main part of my town, it makes no sense to go in.

          For example, for a vet trip, I’d have to drive home (20 min under ideal conditions), pick up the cat (~10min depending on how cooperative the cat feels), drive to the vet (15min), have the vet appointment, then do those previous steps in reverse vs just driving to the vet and back. 90min plus the duration of the appointment, vs 30min plus the duration of the appointment.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I’m not new to the org – just my current role. I’ve been here for two years.

        And I mention those things because they have been, in the past, a perfectly valid reason to work from home – I could work from home, run to the vet for 30 minutes, then come back home and finish work. Or drop my car off for new tires, get a ride home and work there the rest of the day.

        1. Dana B.S.*

          Sorry, misunderstood your newness.

          Also, I want your vet. I feel like it’s always a big hassle to go to the vet, but I got an old pup.

      3. Aquawoman*

        People in my org WFH all the time because they have doctor visits or the like. I’m in DC where the average commute is 45 minutes each way. If someone has a 10 AM doctor appointment in the burbs 10 minutes from their house, and works from home, they work a full day; if they can’t WFH, that’s 3-4 hours of leave (the couple of hours before 10 AM + the length of the appointment).

        1. Mama Bear*

          Exactly. I used to be able to pop over, do a thing, and come back but today I could not justify both the thing and the commute time (easily an hour round trip). Rumor here is that someone seriously abused the privilege a few years ago, so the option for routine WFH days has been cut. The vacation time is generous, but it goes quickly when you have appointments.

      4. Overeducated*

        If you have, say, an hour+ commute, then when you take leave to deal with doctor’s appointments, car trouble, etc. it is a lot easier to minimize the amount of time off or even make up the time on the same day if you have the option to WFH. As someone who has frequent doctor’s appointments close to home right now and the ability to telework weekly, I’m finding that I can simply make up the 1-2 hours of work missed in the time I’d normally be on the road (with managerial approval of the change in hours), and it’s so incredibly helpful.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Precisely. This is Chicagoland, and while my current commute is short, a lot of people drive at least 30 minutes; 45-60 isn’t uncommon.

      5. Anax*

        I have a very short commute, but I also like to WFH when I have medical appointments – I tend to have anxiety before them, and it’s easier to be productive in my own space, with a cat in my lap and a letsplay on the tv.

      6. peachie*

        Not sure if this is the case with ThatGirl, but it’s common in my office to WFH part/all of the day if you have an appointment (e.g., if you live far from the office and would lose a ton of time going back and forth, if the appointment is close to the end of the day and it’s easier to WFH for the rest of the day after, etc.).

    4. peachie*

      Ugh, that is so frustrating. I hate when employers don’t treat their employees like adults — i.e., trust them to do their job and actually deal with performance problems rather than making broad punitive policies.

    5. RabbitRabbit*

      Half of my department (not under my manager) used to have a WFH policy but it got removed due to productivity issues. However, as my manager noted they weren’t given any tools to help them succeed (like additional equipment as needed, etc.) and a lot of technical issues were behind at least some of the productivity problems. Since then, their manager (and the one above the whole department) are gone, and they’re hoping to re-evaluate and move back to WFH options.

      Meanwhile, my division is facing the need to switch to a partial WFH schedule simply due to running out of space because of expansion, so we’re giving our requests for hardware (generally laptops, docking stations at the desks, and second monitors for home use) to our manager.

    6. Currently Bill*

      The stigma around WFH is one reason I don’t like to use the term. I prefer to describe it as working remotely. That then encompasses folks on business travel, at client sites, out of area sales people and more traditional WFH folks. It also press more emphasis on the idea of work rather than the idea of being home.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I think you have a good point. We have a “spare office” where people who come in from other offices work. Technically they are not remote from the company, but they are remote from their own desks, as are the BD folks who are always out and about. It’s more about the flex than the location.

    7. JustaTech*

      This happened at my company (where there were a couple of senior tech people who kind of only stayed because they were allowed very generous WFH, where home was often another state or country), and there was a lot of grousing, people spent more time in their offices or at their desks until whatever high-up either got over the “butts in seats” or got distracted by something else, and it went back to “ask your boss, get your work done, don’t be excessive”.

      So hopefully it will blow over. Part of what did it for us was a terrible snowstorm, in a city that doesn’t really get snow. People had to WFH, work got done, the world didn’t end, and the bosses stopped fussing.

    8. Old Millenial*

      I find that generally the anti-wfh policy just hurts the business.

      Some examples:
      My old company banned wfh snow days. So instead of having safe employees working from 8am-5pm or later at home, you had staff getting in between 9:30 and 10, several wrecks, and leaving promptly at 5pm ot sneaking out early for safety reasons.

      Just yesterday I was 2 hours late, because I was previously given a hard time using WFH. So rather then getting a full day’s or more work from me they are getting 6 hrs.

      Banning ot eliminating WFH “cause others complain” is the epitome of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    9. Garland not Andrews*

      Have you had a change in senior leadership? When the administration changed the Secretary of the Department, he instituted much more limited telework. Many people who would WFH 3-4 days per week and only come in 1-2 days, now are only allowed to WFH 1-1.5 days per week.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes, our CEO left a few months ago; we were also purchased by a large German multinational last year. I’m sure that has something to do with it, and is also the reason our finances are getting more scrutiny now.

        Aside from a few full-time remote employees, though, I think most people were only WFH 1 day a week (except for special circumstances). I really wouldn’t mind that much if they said it would be a case by case basis or only occasionally in limited circumstances, but we’ve been told the ban is basically universal.

    10. Lamplighter*

      This happend ten years ago so maybe WFH is more accepted. When I was promoted to a new exempt role in the company’s regional office, I was issued a laptopwith security on it and a Blackeberry (!) since I was now required to travel to sites I supported from time to time. However, I was told that I could not work from home. Now if I spent 10 hours on a site, I was still expected to handle my usual work from my hotel room into the night but not from home. This was the policy set by our Director who had apparently never heard the old adage about what is good for the goose is good for the gander. She worked from her home, 1500 miles and a time zone away from headquarters, when she wasn’t unnecessarily flitting around to job sites; she dropped in the main office for 4 or so days a month.

      About a year into this, a lot of bad winter weather hit –massive amounts of snow preceded or followed by ice. The region had been paralyzed on and off for several week. I had missed several days of work (I live 30 miles away and my car was lousy on snow and ice) and was catching hell from my boss in the main office for not resonding to issues as fast as she wanted. One evening when a foot plus of snow was expected overnigh, I took my laptop and some work files home. Eighteen inches fell that night into the next morning. I worked on some files, went out to dig out my car when the sun came out, and waited for the snowplow to clear the road. By the time I could leave, everything that had melted in the sun was refreezing; the governor declared a state of emergency and ordered evryone to stay off the roads. I took care of some more pressing work items from my kitchen and cc ‘d boss on some of them; I also put some hours on my timesheet. A couple of days later, my boss called me to say that she told Director that I had worked from home and Director had me written up. I was dinged because I tried to keep up with my work. Their reasoning: It was not “fair” to the non-exempts who had to use leave when stuck at home in the snow. I should have done nothing and used up a day of my leave. A couple of years later, Director screwed up something big which had to be disclosed to employees and she was “resigned” a few months later.

    11. Preach it!*

      We just got a new Exec VP (formerly with a Name car corporation) whose first move was to require “all butts in seats all the time”. We’ll be lucky to work from home during snowstorms. In six months we’ve already lost two people to leaving the Department and one person retiring early.

      We’re a Fortune 300 company and this has caused a lot of other people to start to mumble about resumes and retirement. This EVP has done more to squash morale than her VP predecessor did in 10 years (and he was required to fire 8 people due to financial reasons).

  4. Kelly*

    I have a question regarding internships (in MA if it makes a difference) – my brother is in his last semester of college, and interning for a small company. The internship is full time, unpaid, but counts as a full semester of credits for his school. He plans to work in a very niche industry (film and media). The internship was supposed to end yesterday the 8th (as well as the semester) however this company planned a work trip that he was invited on for the week and they will be back tomorrow. Since his internship is officially over and the trip goes past the semester end date, they promised to pay him for the 2 extra days as they weren’t back in time.

    My question is, are they legally obligated to pay him for this? He was afraid they may not actually pay (since they promised previously that they would pay him for working overtime on a different day, but they have not). And how would he go about this? He has nothing in writing. Should he take it up with his school?

    I would’ve asked this last week but the trip was last minute, he didn’t know until Friday that they’d be traveling out of state on the following Monday. My family advised him not to go but he felt pressured to go – and thinks this is normal for the industry.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      He should take it up with the boss, not the school. And–while I have feelings about unpaid internships–that’s what this is. If he’s out of pocket for all the expenses of the trip, I can see both feeling pressured and the argument for saying no anyhow. But if they covered his expenses, then the internship extending a day for what sounds like a valuable experience people entering this field would line up to have is just not a hill to die on. Similarly if there’s been one overtime day over the course of months–a lot of people would frame that as going the same mile as the other people in the office, everyone buckling down to get the Teapot Project out the door on time.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        I’m with Dipthong here – it sounds like an awesome opportunity. If it were me I would go on the assumption I wouldn’t get paid and consider any pay as a bonus.

        If course if he has reason to believe this trip won’t be any benefit to his chosen career then thís advice isn’t valid, but it seems likely to me that a work trip with a company in his chosen niche career would give him some fodder for his resume / interviews, even if he ends up not getting paid.

    2. designbot*

      I would follow up with the person who promised to pay him and ask them to show him how to fill out their timecard for the extra days. There may be some legitimate paperwork he’s missing, and they may not realize that he wouldn’t have the first clue how to fill it out.

    3. NothingIsLittle*

      Did he get the internship through one of his professors? If so, he can ask them for advice and they might advocate for him with the company. Other than that, I agree with Diphthong that whether he paid out-of-pocket or whether the company paid for him will change his response. I can’t speak to the legality of it, but if the company paid his way, he can probably ask once about how he should submit those hours to them and ask what additional paperwork he’ll need to fill out, but then he may want to let it go rather than risk getting a poor reference. (I say may because I’m not a lawyer and not certain of the specifics.) I suspect that trying to retain a lawyer would cost more than what he’d receive anyway, so I’m not sure how much the legality matters in terms of actually being able to act on it.

      Potentially the school could advocate for him in some way, but if it’s the school I’m thinking of, they can’t change the number of credits he received for the internship and won’t risk losing internship slots at the company over one student.

    4. SamSoo*

      If his internship is effectively done, why does he feel pressured to go? Just to keep things smooth in case he needs these people later? Just curious.

      1. Kelly*

        He wants to use them as references and thought they might not give a good reference if he skipped on going

    5. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t understand. If his internship is unpaid, how are they even going to pay him. He’s presumably not in the finance system to be paid.

      I feel like I’m missing something here.

    6. Not My Money*

      As someone who pays film and media, I agree that he should talk to his company supervisor about what paperwork needs to be completed in order to get paid. Every project has a start packet with forms for both the entertainment payroll company and the production company – if he hasn’t filled anything out there’s no money in process for him. I couldn’t tell you the number of times someone has called looking for a check when they never filled out the paperwork or a time card. And the internship paperwork isn’t sufficient.

  5. Former Usher*

    My megacorp is in the process of removing all wall clocks on its campus. The stated reason is to save money on batteries and on the labor required to update the time twice a year. They’ve even created a new corporate policy to govern the purchase of any new clocks, with multiple managers required for any purchase. Somehow this feels even more disappointing than the various cuts to our benefits over the years.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I wonder how much labor it takes to remove and dispose of all of the wall clocks versus the updating and batteries…

      1. Antilles*

        A little less the first time, but you only need to do it once:
        >When you replace the batteries or change the clock, you have to take the clock off the wall, do whatever, then put it back on the wall.
        >When you dispose of the clock, you take it off the wall and toss it in the trash barrel.
        So the first time, sure, it’s a fairly minor time savings…but then every six months from now until eternity, that’s effort that doesn’t have to be spent.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Whaaat? That’s ridiculous. Even their stated reason is ridiculous, because batteries + labour can’t be THAT much money, can they? Then to write an actual policy requiring multiple managers…yeesh.

      I’m sorry to tell you this, and I’m sure you knew this already, but you work for a bunch of loons.

      1. Mediamaven*

        So, if they have to cut budgets would it be preferable to cut OP’s pay? How do you know they are loons or how much money is being saved. No one even uses clocks anymore. They are obsolete. Sometimes budgets cuts have to happen and they likely no what they are doing.

        1. JustaTech*

          Uh, I use a wall clock every time I’m in the lab because I need to record times accurately and I can’t see my watch under my gloves and I sure can’t be digging out my phone.
          So people do still use them for work, and not just for watching in boring meetings.
          That said, I do replace the batteries and change the time myself.

        2. Librarian of SHIELD*

          How much money do you suppose the company is saving by not buying a pack of AA batteries twice a year?

          The skeptic in me immediately assumed they didn’t want staff to know what time it is so they’ll stay at work longer.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          Uh, raising hand as someone who wants a wall clock. Just today I looked around my new office and thought I should bring one in. I understand that a company may want to save the hassle of dealing with them (we had some in the past that were supposed to auto-update themselves at each DST change, but had a tendency to get stuck and confused…), but useless they aren’t.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        This is such a small expense I would be concerned about whether the company is going under.
        No matter how big or small it is, the expense for batteries and time changes can’t be much percentage of their total costs.

    3. New Job So Much Better*

      We have no clocks, except for one in the kitchen. We all use our computer clocks.

      1. Jules the 3rd*


        I mean, there’s clocks on the kitchen microwaves, and I think I saw one in an obscure corner, but we don’t use public clocks for anything.

    4. Toodie*

      So you’re … ticked? (Sorry, couldn’t help myself. I would also hate to lose all wall clocks.)

    5. LCL*

      Forgive me, but this is hilarious. The company took away something that many people use, but you can get a replacement, if you follow their new policy! and go through the purchasing process. It is reassuring to know that my workplace isn’t the only one that makes new policies that increase workload but don’t have any positive effect to the customers.

      1. Chaordic One*

        In my office none of the clocks are set to the correct time. They’re either fast or slow and quite a few of them are still set to daylight savings time. The clocks are screwed into the wall and you can’t just stand on a chair to take them down and reset them. Some of the people in my office have gone and bought their own clocks that they have mounted on their cubicle walls.

    6. Newington*

      I’m pretty sure I have adult ADHD, or some similar sort of neurodivergence.

      I’m pursuing an official diagnosis through my GP, although it has to be referred to the local mental health team which can have a long wait. I’ve told work about this and they’ve been wonderfully supportive. But even if things go smoothly it’ll be a long time till I can get medication.

      Some days I can’t get into work. Some days I can get here but barely do any work. The best I can describe it is that it feels like I’m trying to push my head through a wall. The wall’s right there, the other side of the wall is right there, it’s simple enough to understand the task but… it’s impossible. Over the years I’ve got good at ‘looking busy’ and can usually rely on having enough ‘good days’ to meet deadlines. But I’m now in a job I really care about and although they’re being lovely I fear I’ll wear their patience down eventually. (One thing they’ve done that has helped is to let me switch between tasks so that I don’t spend more than a day or two on the same thing.)

      Are there people here who’ve been in this situation? Any advice? I’m not looking for general “how to be motivated” things – I’ve probably tried them all – but specifically things that have worked for neurodivergent folks?

      1. Human Form of the 100 Emoji*

        I am not diagnosed, but I have many symptoms of adult ADD. I’m not sure what kind of job you have, but I’ve found that physical tasks (eg, organize physical files or move all these boxes) are way easier for me to complete and focus on than abstract or computer-based tasks (eg research or data entry) Maybe you could ask your supervisor to take on tasks like that to break up the more abstract ones, or find a way to relate abstract tasks to more physical ones?

        1. Newington*

          Mm, not many physical tasks in my job (coding and tech writing), although I’ll do the odd mailroom/milk run/walk round the block when I need a wander. That was basically the reason I’ve spent years doing admin assistant jobs that I’m way overqualified for, though.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        The best I can describe it is that it feels like I’m trying to push my head through a wall. The wall’s right there, the other side of the wall is right there, it’s simple enough to understand the task but… it’s impossible.

        This is the best description I’ve ever heard of how ADHD is for me! And it’s so, so frustrating. Some days I just can’t hit that Start button in my brain, and no amount of Pomodoro or anything else will kick me into gear. Mostly I do the same as you – switch tasks when I can, and count on having more good days than bad to balance it out overall. I’m also going to my doctor to talk about increasing my meds, so hopefully that will help.

        I have no other advice, but lots of empathy! If you’re not already familiar with it, www-additudemag-dot-com is a great resource for all things ADHD.

      3. Syfygeek*

        I was just diagnosed this week and out on medication. I filled out 11 pages of questions, took 3 computer tests, and then met with the Doc.

        ” Over the years I’ve got good at ‘looking busy’ and can usually rely on having enough ‘good days’ to meet deadlines. But I’m now in a job I really care about and although they’re being lovely I fear I’ll wear their patience down eventually…” could have been written by me. I described it as having a house of cards, and being terrified that a card would fall and everyone would know I did not have it under control.

        2 days on medication, and I have not only started boring tasks, but finished them. When before I would start enough to make it look like I was making good progress, but really I’d go on to something else when I got bored. Or distracted.
        Good luck!

        1. Newington*

          This sounds amazing. Congratulations on the diagnosis.
          I got a questionnaire from my GP that had me score a bunch of questions from 1 to 5 and I was like “5, 5, 5, 5, 5….” for everything except the drug abuse (and there but for the grace of not making friends with the wrong kids, etc.) He referred me to the local mental health team, who sent me basically an essay question about how it affects my life… which I didn’t do, because DOING THINGS LIKE THAT IS REALLY HARD, THAT’S WHY I’M ON YOUR LIST. So they assumed I must be fine and took me off the waiting list, and I’m now gathering the spoons to go back to my GP and start again. (I can only imagine how much more awful this is if you’re having to fork out cash at every turn, too.)

          1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

            In the U.S., a lot of ADHD meds are considered controlled substances, so you can’t just put in an automated refill through the pharmacy website; you have to contact your doctor or psychiatrist every 30 days and have them send in a new prescription. You can’t contact them too early because your insurance company won’t permit a refill while you still have a lot of medication left, but if you leave it too late, you’ll run out of meds.

            Guess what people with ADHD are really bad at?

            Every single ADHD person I know has had multiple times of “Oh crap, I just took my last pill and haven’t requested a refill yet” and then two or three unmedicated days while waiting for the prescription to be submitted and filled. And then there are constant medication shortages, so your pharmacy might need another two or three days to get the pills in…

            The whole system seems designed to make ADHD people miserable. It’s really awful. But it’s still better than being unmedicated.

            1. Newington*

              Yeah, this happens to me regularly with my other medication, and all I have to do is fill out an online form on my GP’s website. (You’ve just reminded me to do so – thanks!) I also need monthly-ish blood tests for a clotting issue and keep missing them. (Reminder apps are helpful but not unbeatable.)
              I know we shouldn’t get too political on here but thank heck for the NHS; this could all be so. Much. Worse.

      4. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Does physical stimming help you focus? If it’s not the kind of workplace where you can use a spinner or a fidget cube out in the open, you can get a bumpy cushion to put on your chair that lets you stim just by sitting or moving very slightly (not noticeably). The search keyword is “sensory seat cushion”. Or string Bouncy Bands under your desk so you have a big rubber band you can bounce with your feet where no one can see. Or ask to replace your chair with a yoga ball or get a standing desk for ergonomic reasons. A weighted lap blanket might also be useful. A lot of these things are marketed for autistic people (especially kids) but there’s a ton of autism/ADHD overlap, so see if something like that works for you. And then expense it! If your workplace is accommodating, they should cover low-cost, low-effort accommodations like this.

        Caffeine is the poor man’s Adderall, but you probably already know that. Don’t be shy about measuring your coffee intake in pots if that’s what keeps you focused and calm.

        If your workplace is lovely, trust them to continue being lovely, and to let you know if they’re starting to be concerned about your productivity. Ask for your tasks to be put in SMART goal format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely), or reframe them that way yourself, so you can reassure yourself by saying “The teapot report was due at noon Tuesday and I got it in at noon Tuesday, and no one needs to know I did it all between 10 a.m. and 11:59” and the like. The more you can see your job in terms of “Did I deliver the deliverable, y/n”, the less anxious you’ll be about the accommodations you need to deliver those deliverables, especially if there’s a clear before accommodation/after accommodation difference in your performance. (And the more muscle you’ll have to push back if your manager starts saying “We need you to stop taking so many WFH days” or “Do we really have to pay for this weighted lap blanket? That seems like a personal item” or whatever.)

        Good luck!

        1. Newington*

          I’ve tried lowering the caffeine but I haven’t tried upping it. Worth a few shots, I guess – thanks!

      5. Phoenix*

        Newington, my diagnoses are anxiety and depression, but I also have a ton of issues getting work done when my mental health is suffering. Something helpful for me has been to radically chunk tasks into super small pieces, so I can feel the momentum begin to pick up and then I feel like I can keep going. Like, if I have to send an email I feel worried about, it might be: Open my email app. Yay, I did it! Look up the person’s email address. Yay, I did it again! Put their email in the “To” box. Hurray! Three steps down! It felt stupid the first few times I did it, but now it is my favorite way to feel motivated – it gets me out of that downward shame spiral and gets me into a place where I’m celebrating what I am doing towards work goals. Similarly, stopping mid-morning or mid-day to make a “Already Done” instead of a “To Do” list helps me feel like I am DOING things, just maybe not the highest priority things, and helps lessen my worries about everything I haven’t done yet.

        Also, I had a great therapist tell me that my fears about other people being disappointed in me in the future are future fears, and have not happened yet, and maybe never will. So a reminder that if no one is telling you that they are disappointed in you, assume the positive if you can – that no one is disappointed and you’re doing okay!

        Your mileage may vary with your own diagnosis and set of hurdles, but best of luck – you’re not alone out there!

        1. another anon*

          +1 to all the above, I also recommend Marla Cummins’ email newsletter, and the “How to ADHD” youtube channel.

          I use a simplified bullet journal which helps.

          I totally relate to the meds refill issue. My current doc wants me to skip meds on the weekends, which has been challenging because I still need to get chores and stuff done. It’s been a little easier to skip at least one day since I left ToxicJob with Ridiculous Commute. It does help with the refill issue a bit, too.

          Another thing that works for me when I forget meds or am out, or when I had to switch insurance was taking small sips of a 5 hour energy every few hours, and only taking 1/2 the bottle per day instead of chugging the whole thing as directed. It’s way more expensive, and not good for long term use, but ok in a pinch.

          Good luck! You are not alone.

        2. Newington*

          Ah, I’ve tried small subgoals with hourly deadlines but the even smaller ones is a new idea. Thanks!

      6. Food Sherpa*

        Your description fits my ADHD coupled with chronic severe depression. In fact, I am procrastinating right now when I need to get some reconciliations completed. I try to reward myself with little things once I’ve finished something. Reading ‘Ask a Manager’, reading news, taking a walk, making a nice cuppa- these are all things I consider a reward. Find rewards that will work with your job and spend your day being nice to yourself instead of beating yourself up.
        You mentioned Pomodoro method, I use a free app called Forest to help me. It’s loosely based on the Pomodoro method and you get to plant real trees.

    7. Jess*

      Back in the late 80s or early 90s, Delta saved about $7 million per year by getting rid of the decorative parsley on its meals. My guess is that your megacorp is probably saving a bit more money than you’d think (especially if union labor is involved). And it could be one of those things where someone said, “we can’t afford X unless you can find a way to pay for it in the existing budget,” and X may be something that even you might choose/prefer over wall clocks.

      Just another perspective.

      1. Grapey*

        +1. Most people carry a phone or are near a computer in an office setting nowadays.

        All the wall clocks at my job are a little bit off (early/late) in one way or another and most people check their phone/laptop to see if the wall clock is even correct.

        1. Kathenus*

          Interesting perspective on the clocks being off.

          I wonder if inaccuracy is one of the reasons? If people are using – “I wasn’t late, the clock in the lobby said it was still break time” or something similar might have become an issue?

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        Well, if no one requested the clocks, that’s certainly possible. But how many levels of managers are we talking about with the new clock policy? Because they may end up paying more in the time those managers are wasting on reviewing clock requests.

      3. Pippa K*

        I think it was American Airlines, $40,000, and one olive from each salad in first class. There’s another story about which airlines did or did not slice limes into thinner slices to save money, but the olive story is the best documented. Sometimes the little things matter – but sometimes they don’t matter as much as people think. There’s a reason ‘penny wise and pound foolish’ is a saying. (Ok, a fairly antique one at this point, but still.) My employer likes to save money by making us buy our own printer cartridges, but there’s always enough money for outside consultants. Who, come to think of it, probably came up with the printer cartridge idea.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          “Penny wise pound foolish” is our corporation’s m.o.
          Buy your own printer cartridges? From your own personal money??? Oh HELL no.

    8. Rebecca*

      I have a clock story! About 20 years ago, at my old weird company, I got moved to an office by myself, and it had been pretty much stripped bare by the previous occupant. At that time, company had closed a ton of factory locations, other buildings, etc. and was downsizing. There were literally stacks of all sorts of things, clocks included, stuffed in storage. I asked for one of the spare electric clocks for my space. Answer, No, we can’t spare it. There was literally no reason other than they just wanted to be jerks about it. So, a few weeks later, I was in “big box store beginning with W” and happened to see clocks on a clearance table. It was a fishing motif clock, complete with a bass photo, lures next to each clock number, a wooden outer ring, it’s actually sort of weird looking, but – it was $4.00. I bought it, stuck a battery in it, and took it to work with me. 20 years later it has occupied every office space I’ve inhabited since, and still keeps perfect time.

      And Clock Hoarder Company buildings and stuff are being sold at auction now. I suspect there are still dozens of clocks in boxes from that time frame. I almost want to go just to see if there are.

      And for my clock, I have to change the battery about once every 2 years or so, and it takes less than 30 seconds to move it an hour back or forward twice per year (OH WHY CAN’T WE JUST STAY ON THE CURRENT TIME!!).

      It probably cost them more money in meeting time, worker hours, and management “managing” that it would cost to just ask someone on that floor to update the clocks twice per year for the next 100 years.

      1. Former Usher*

        I thought about buying my own clock, but the new policy also states that clocks purchased outside the new policy will be confiscated.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Yeah, this is weird. Getting rid of their own clocks that they pay for and have to update? Sure, okay. But getting rid of a clock their employee pays for and presumably keeps at their own desk?! What in the world would that accomplish?

            1. DerJungerLudendorff*

              That does support the suspicions that management is doing this for ulterior motives, and the cost is just an excuse.

          2. Mama Bear*

            Funny not funny that you said this. Last year the principal of my child’s school had building maintenance round up all the rugs from all the classrooms. He later claimed no rugs were stolen/thrown out, but survey of teachers said otherwise. I ended up buying a new rug for one of our favorite (and new to the profession) teachers because that was messed up. I guess we should just be grateful that the teacher didn’t have her new rug confiscated, too.

            1. LizB*

              Omg, if those were nice educational/teacher-focused rugs, those things are EXPENSIVE! I would be livid.

        1. Jaydee*

          That is bizarre! If the issue is truly the cost of battery replacement and time changing for daylight saving time (which in a large enough company may be legit), why does buying your own personal clock matter? You would be replacing batteries/setting the time at no cost to them.

          I suspect they really want employees to be unaware of the passage of time. “We’ll show them! They can’t be clock-watchers if there are no clocks to watch! Mwahahahaha!”

          1. Newington*

            In the UK (and the rest of the EU, I think) it’s the law that you have to be able to see a clock from your workstation. The clocks on monitors count for anyone working at a computer.

            I’d guess the motivation is something weird like “people might leave 5 minutes early if their unauthorised clocks are wrong.” It’s still bizarre that they’d ‘confiscate’ anything (is that even legal?)

            1. Capital Laundry Services*

              I have never heard of that law in the UK. Could you give a source/link?

              1. Newington*

                I thought I could, but now all the Google results seem to have be polluted by Brexiters pretending that the EU is forcing us all to wear cuckoo clocks or something

                1. Jaid*

                  Cue me with the thought balloon…of a cuckoo clock on a wrist band, with a bitty bird springing out to chirp.

        2. NothingIsLittle*

          Even if you’re paying for the clock and the batteries?! That screams micromanaging and run now.

        3. Quinalla*

          What? Ok, I already thought this was a little weird, but I could see it, but confiscating outside purchased clocks?!? That’s just weird!

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          Will they be confiscating people’s wristwatches too? This is a bonkers policy.

      2. Clocks*

        Ooh, I have one too. One year in college all the clocks got set to different times. It took a couple days to figure it out, then we got the explanation. A facilities guy was tasked with replacing phone batteries & resetting clocks. He didn’t have a watch that day, & his boss didn’t want to loan his own so the guy was directed to set every clock for noon. So he did!

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        And depending on the clock it might even adjust itself for time changes. (My bedside digital did.)

    9. Earthwalker*

      They did that at our place and a coworker hung one of those silly cat clocks where the tail is a pendulum and the eyes look back and forth. It was a great response!

        1. LCL*

          My mom worked for that company, back in the day. Unfortunately she didn’t have any of the clocks.

    10. Accalia*

      Removing all wall clocks….. and a BS explanation…

      Are you sure they’re not removing the wall clocks to trick you into working longer hours? Because that sounds like the sort of thing a company that would try to deny you access to instruments that would tell you the time.

      1. Mobuy*

        Are they banning cell phones, watches, and computers as well? Because this is an odd conspiracy theory otherwise.

    11. A Simple Narwhal*

      So random! I totally get that on its own it might not be a big deal, but I’m guessing this is just one more thing adding up to the overall depressing/disappointing situation.

      Of course now that you pointed it out, I’m now noticing that there are zero wall clocks in my office building.

    12. noahwynn*

      I don’t think we have any clocks in our entire office campus. Everyone uses their computers or cell phones.

      It is a bit weird to take them down, but I can see it being a pain for the facilities people to keep up with if no one is actually using them.

      I work for an airline, and you’d be surprised about how much money small things save. We recently changes our boarding pass paper to be thinner and less cardstock like. It saved the company almost $300,000 a year.

    13. no, the other Laura*

      This is such a tiny, petty thing that I would seriously wonder if my paycheck was going to bounce. This is beyond “you have to live with the plain yellow sticky notes and regular boring pens cause that’s what we got,” this is it costs more to have someone go around taking the things down and setting up the new policy than it cost them to just change a battery once a year when they do the smoke detectors.

      I know for sure how much operations costs add up. I know better than a lot of people. This is seriously, they can’t afford payroll territory.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s an enormous stretch. Facilities budgets usually aren’t diced that finely, and it’s not like getting rid of the clock maintenance tasks would actually mean people going home early or something and thus saving actual cash. The far, far likelier explanation is that some unexpected clock-related expense or PITA task came up (having to move one, or get one repaired or replaced) and someone in facilities proposed just getting rid of the clocks instead.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’d guess their outsourcedata facilities company charged them to change the clocks and no one thought to tell the department’s to just do it themselves next time!

        2. no, the other Laura*

          That’s sort of what I mean, that the company needs to consider whether or not this is saving money in real life or whether it’s just going to make them look spectacularly bad.

          If you’re managing a facility and you’re going to make a change that will be visible to everyone, you need to think about how you will communicate the change so people aren’t surprised. They might hate it a lot regardless, but if they are surprised by it AND hate it, they’re going to read it like tea leaves if you haven’t given them a reasonable, reassuring explanation.

          Good facility change / communication: “ABC Corp will be removing the Jura coffeemakers and replacing them with Krups coffeemakers in two weeks. The Jura coffeemakers were out of operation 25% of the time and the Krups coffeemakers are more reliable and easily replaced if they break. In addition, Starbucks coffee drinks are available in the cafeteria at a discounted rate. We know how important your coffee is and want to ensure that you have a reliable supply!”

          Bad facility change / communication: “Some of you noticed the Jura espresso makers were removed and replaced with Krups drip coffeemakers last month. This enables the company to save $5/year on the Jura maintenance and replacement parts. Let’s all to our part to make ABC Corp more economical!”

          Nobody gives a crap about putting $5/year in the CEO’s pocket. It’s not even an explanation that makes any sense, really. Messaging is important.

    14. seeveeargh*

      This sounds like a plot line of a campus lit mystery novel. Budget cuts, adjunct exploitation, horological manipulation… sounds like a real thriller.

    15. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      So…they’re taking them all down. Get that part. But they’re just tossing them and have a procedure to purchase a new one?!

      Instead of just rounding them all up, setting them in a storage area and then you have to be authorized to have a clock in your workspace, which would make the most sense?

      What a horrible environmental decision but I know that they are certainly going to be saving lots of money in the end by not doing the bi-annual changes and batteries. They just need to do some more research and pull down the unnecessary ones but nah, just ditch them all since it’s the easiest way I’m sure. Yuck.

    16. Tupac Coachella*

      I mean, they’re not wrong-most people don’t use wall clocks enough to make them worth any company time or effort whatsoever, though YMMV on that statement- but why the public announcement? I feel like they’re doing some kind of weird experiment by telling people “we’re taking away clocks, deal with it!” And the prohibition against bringing in your own clocks that you mention upthread is bananacrackers. Are they afraid that you’ll miss a deadline with the 4 seconds per year you spend messing with it? I get the vibe that you might not even care that much about the clocks, it’s just demoralizing for them to be so unpleasant for no reason.

    17. Autumnheart*

      What? They make batteries that last 10 years now. Is someone really too cheap to buy $50 worth of batteries?

  6. Overeducated*

    I’m going to the Grand Canyon for training for 2 weeks!!!

    That is all :D I have been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m so excited.

    1. Lady Jay*

      Ooooo, sounds so fun! Get in some good walking/hiking/running/sightseeing on behalf of all of us while you’re there. :)

      1. Overeducated*

        Thanks! I have some health limitations right now that mean I can’t take advantage of opportunities for overnight backpacking and intense hikes or runs, so I’m hoping to find company for more easy to moderate day trip type activities on the weekend in the middle. But I’m very very excited about the sightseeing.

        1. merp*

          Oh yeah, there are a ton of trails that are less rigorous, I took advantage of them when I was there as well :) I recommend the cemetery as a potentially off the beaten path place to check out – it was really interesting. Have fun!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve always* wanted to do the donkey or mule tours, and I hope when I get there I’ll still be flexible enough to sit a saddle.
          (*Where “always”=”Ever since I read ‘Brighty of the Grand Canyon’ )

      1. Overeducated*

        Very cool! It’s an organization-wide training that is available within a certain number of years after hire, and there are waitlists, so I feel lucky to be going. It should be really interesting for getting out of my extremely narrow and specialized bubble and meeting people whose jobs are TOTALLY different from mine.

        1. Not All*

          You probably already have, but make sure to talk to people before you go who went previously. (I work for the same agency & know which training you’re referring to.) For example, the food situation is…challenging…depending on your flight times vs the shuttle not to mention any mobility issues you may have and there is some other weirdness that makes the logistics harder than most people expect. If you need to be in touch with people at home, definitely figure out the phone stuff in advance. A couple people from my office had a lot of trouble getting signal there…no big deal for some people but was a real issue for one person who ended up having to borrow other people’s phones. Seemed to depend on carrier/phone type though because others had no problems at all.

          (This class got pretty mixed reviews in my office…it was about 60% loathed it, 30% adored it, and 10% “well, at least I got to see the Grand Canyon”. I hope you fall in the love it category! My particular office makes it mandatory for all permanent employees for inexplicable reasons. I’ve been to the equivalent training for 2 other agencies and managed to get out of it based on some family obligations because after talking to what people did/didn’t like about it, it was pretty clear I would loath every minute and I already have a pretty diverse network. I did love the style FWS does though…I’m still in touch with people from that course a couple decades later!)

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I loved the Grand Canyon. If you’re staying in the park, take advantage of early morning and late evening to explore while it’s relatively uncrowded.

        1. Canyon sunrise*

          Drink way more water than usual. If you go on “easy, short” excursions take more water than usual. If memory serves you’re in a humid climate so desert will hit you harder.

          If it’s easy to do, I highly recommend watching the sun rise over the canyon. Your hotel will have recommendations for good spots. I complained loudly about getting up that early but was struck dumb by the experience.

          Enjoy the classes & the canyon!

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            *EAT* way more than usual too – you can’t drink enough water to replace the electrolytes you’re sweating out, you need to be absorbing them from solid food in your lower intestine all the time.

            If you do somehow make it to the bottom, Phantom Ranch has THE BEST bacon in the world.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              Actually plain water doesn’t replace electrolytes. In a strenuous or sweaty situation you need to be sure to either eat frequently, or have drinks that replenish your electrolytes like smart water or gatorade. Or both.

    3. J*

      Have fun! I loved fundamentals (also my home unit, so it was nice to be able to “play host”). Lots to see and do. If you’re going early fall that’s a nice time to visit.

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Find yourself a copy of Over the Edge: Death in Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers and take its lessons to heart. There are many ways to die there, not all of them obvious to the uninitiated.

  7. FaintlyMacabre*

    What do you do when some of your coworkers consider elements of being professional as being stifled by the “PC police” and your higher-ups don’t care? I will soon have to spend a week working with one such co-worker and it’s going to be long hours listening to him about how immigrants and criminals should be killed. He’s said things about wishing death on immigrants in front of our boss before, and boss did not bat an eye. I’m considering finding a new job, even though I started here fairly recently and was hoping to stay a few years to get some experience and make up for some other short stays, but honestly this dude is like a turd in the soup tureen and I’m starting to feel like there’s no point sticking around for the rest of the dinner.

    1. Purt's Peas*

      Will HR care?

      Do you have to stay near him? If he starts talking like this, can you move to a different area?

      Can you tell him, “I’m not interested in listening to your violent fantasies, let’s talk about work”? Can you say something to him whenever he starts?

      To be honest, I would leave a job to get away from this kind of person, especially if I had to work closely with them and my boss/HR did nothing. But since it’s been just a little time, what about setting like, a month’s deadline where you’ll leave if it doesn’t improve, and if speaking directly to him doesn’t shut him up.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I’d definitely take this up with HR. I don’t care what your personal opinion on immigration is – you don’t wish death on people out loud in the workplace. Full stop.

        1. NothingIsLittle*

          Would you be able to say that he’s making you feel unsafe when he expresses such violent desires in front of you? That type of language might inspire a quicker response.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            That kind of language in the workplace would make me feel unsafe, for sure. If that is true for OP as well, I’d definitely recommend saying that to HR.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Wow. Yeah, I think if your boss doesn’t care, there may not be much you can do. You could report him to HR – and I would argue that you should report him to HR, because he’s definitely making people feel unsafe. But if your boss isn’t already on board with how terrible this guy is, I wouldn’t be too optimistic about the outcome – sounds like you should be making an exit plan sooner rather than later.

    3. Troutwaxer*

      “Let’s not talk about politics at work, it’s really unprofessional.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

      1. Rose by another name*

        Agreed–appeals to common decency don’t sound like they’re going to work here, and refocusing on work is probably the only way to stop him.

        Could you also emphasize your own work needs, like by saying “I’ve got to get these TPS reports out by 5, so can we put a hold on the non-work talk?” or “I really need to devote all my mental space to learning $NewProcess.” And back that up with the strategic use of headphones, when “working together” allows?

        I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this. Many people (myself included) have loved ones in the groups this guy is targeting, or are in those groups but don’t look it. And it really can be distracting to hear those rants, so your requests to focus on work have a basis in truth.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        Let’s please draw an important – I feel – distinction: what the coworker is doing isn’t talking about politics, they’re talking about inflicting violence against groups of people for what they are.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          I agree, but if HR won’t do anything and FaintlyMacabre doesn’t feel comfortable or safe being that specific, “I don’t discuss political opinions at work” is a safer option that could work.

    4. LCL*

      To get through the upcoming week, keep interrupting him when he starts on his violent tangents. Keep repeating I don’t want to hear this at work, don’t talk about these things to me, this doesn’t belong in the workplace, etc. I am all for educating people instead of contacting HR first, too much so one of my managers has told me, but that only works for coworkers who are being ignorant. People who advocate violence don’t get tolerance. If you don’t believe your management or HR will be supportive, all you can do is interrupt him or walk away.

      1. Lilith*

        “People who advocate violence don’t get tolerance.”
        What a great, powerful line. I hope I remember it.

      2. Groove Bat*

        I’d dispense with the “in the workplace” qualifier. I’d just say, “I don’t want to listen to this. Please stop.” Leave it at that.

        This isn’t political speech. It’s hate speech.

        Honestly, if he is saying immigrants *should be* killed, he sounds like a danger to the community.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          “I do not want to hear this. Frankly, when you keep advocating violence and crime I have a mind to call the police.” (Not that you should call the police. It’s a way of marking the seriousness of your disapproval.)

    5. Buttons*

      That sounds awful! I am sorry you have to deal with that. I have no problem telling people “That is incredibly offensive and racist, please don’t say those things to me.” And he if he goes off with “PC police” BS, tell him “It isn’t about being politically correct, it is about being a decent human” Fuck that guy, he is ing offensive and rude and in most companies he would be fired. You do not have to be nice to him.

    6. Leslie Knope*

      I once worked, for an NGO with a big refugee project, with a self-professed member of the BNP + EDL (British National Party + English Defence League – as close as we have to the KKK in the UK). He would say vile things in the office about immigration/refugees/people of colour – almost as though he had totally disengaged with the core aims of the organisation (and social norms….!).

      I complained to higher-ups, and they absolutely couldn’t care less. It was a sign of how dysfunctional my workplace was that they saw it as ‘political and not something which could be stopped’.

      In sounds similar to what you have described…. but I would say while some (bad) bosses may see political discussions as out of their hand, with people entitled to free speech – wishing death upon anyone is unequivocally wrong. That seems like a hard evidence way of making a complaint, grounded in something very real and clearly wrong.

      But wider advice would be to get out. Management which ignore this kind of thing is going to be making other, big mistakes.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        Um… why did he even apply for that job?

        (and was he using his position to act against your clients’ interests?)

        I seriously don’t understand why your bosses did nothing :(

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Lots of racists apply for jobs where they can negatively impact the lives of the people they hate.

        2. Leslie Knope*

          He worked as the database manager, so really was totally separate from the mission & saw his job as separate from his views.

          It was truly bizarre.

    7. Temperance*

      Honestly, I would report him to HR as soon as he starts that shit on me. I can see disagree about the death penalty or whatever (but not a work conversation), but the xenophobia and hatred needs to be stamped out.

    8. Kate R*

      Can you try something like “I don’t like to talk about politics at work” or “I wouldn’t wish violence on anyone!”? It’s super frustrating that the boss hasn’t called this out, but I can also see conflict-averse bosses letting it slide because they think nobody cares about what he’s saying. Calling him out might force them to take some action, or it could be possible you work with jackasses and should be looking for a new job, but either way, hopefully you’ll know.

    9. FaintlyMacabre*

      The big problem with the upcoming work is that we are, let’s say, teapot repairers. When we work in town, we do it alone, but when we do our week long out of town trips, we work in pairs. So… long periods of time in the repair vehicle, repairing a tea pot, then off to the next place. There is no walking away. Last time I had to work with him, I made a couple of comments about us having different political leanings, and maybe politics isn’t a good topic, changing the subject, and so on, but nothing seemed to stick.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I agree with Purt’s Peas, I would threaten to walk off a job if forced to work with someone like this, but then again, I can afford to do that. If you are willing to try again with HR, I would emphasize that he’s talking about genocide and murder, and you don’t feel safe, because who knows if you’re going to fall into one of his “unacceptable” categories??

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup. He’s threatening and advocating violence in the workplace. OP’s boss may not care, but the company should – he’s a liability. That’s the kind of crazy who would stroll into work with a gun and kill people. No, his ass needs to be reported to HR and if they fail to act, start looking for a new job. This guy is dangerous.

      2. Buttons*

        A person like that isn’t going to take hints. You have to say it directly “Do not say those things to me.”

        1. Ms. Ann Thropy*

          This. Also, I would report him to HR to get it on the record. A person wishing death in strangers is a small step from wishing death on those coworkers who disagree with him. This is a dangerous person creating a threatening work environment.

          1. Lamplighter*

            Agree. Go to HR and tell that the employee wishes deatht to certain people not like him and that you are therefore afraid for yourself.

        2. PeteyKat*

          Yes, maybe a bit snarky – if you are comfortable looking at him and saying something along the lines of “Did I give you any indication that I have a closet full of German Jack Boots or white sheets and would appreciate and share your opinions? But thank you for showing me who you really are.” Sometimes people say these things to scare you – like a bully. If you think the company (not the Boss) will be responsive to your complaint, I would report him. But I think you should look for another job. Also, please don’t say anything if you truly feel that he could harm you. Your co-worker is a racist idiot and I think your Boss is too for not saying anything.

      3. CatMintCat*

        Don’t frame it as political, because it isn’t. He’s inciting violence, and frame it that way when you call him out. Hard. And do the same when you speak to HR, the boss, the EEO, or whoever you need to take it too. This won’t leave our society unless and until people are held to account for their words.

        It isn’t political.

    10. CatCat*

      “Don’t talk to me about killing people or wishing people would die.” “I won’t tolerate talk of violent deaths. Stop talking.” “I don’t care if you feel stifled. I don’t want to hear from you about violence.”

      Interrupt if he starts. Keep repeating. Literally walk away from him if you need to. If you have to be in transit with him, wear headphones or earplugs. You don’t have to put up with that crap. I’d still escalate it if he persists to your boss and HR, even if they haven’t cared yet. I’d do it in writing. “I have repeatedly told Fergus to stop, but he keeps sharing violent death fantasies with me. I want him to stop it.”

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Perfectly good reason for looking for a new job.

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        This, exactly. Don’t go with “no politics at work.” This isn’t politics. You are not having a disagreement over property taxes or the school board. Keep bringing it back to the fact that this guy is talking about violence and death and that you should not have to hear it.

        I’m so sorry! The human race, I can’t even…

      2. EnfysNest*

        Yeah, don’t let anyone pretend this is just “political talk”. There is no justification for violent language like that, and you have every right to insist that you need to not hear it.

    11. Scandinavian in Scandinavia*

      Could you start talking to him anout something he would find equally repulsive, to get the point through? Lots of bodily topics (esp female ones) that are not talked about in public. PC-police-him if he protests that.

      Please update us as to how it goes!

    12. Aquawoman*

      This is potential legal liability for the company. This violates harassment/EEO laws and could easily create a hostile work environment. I’d consider either addressing it that way with your boss or with HR, if you have an HR. EEO laws protect people based on national origin and that includes the origin of their ancestors.

    13. Holly*

      I would definitely report this, especially after El Paso. Not that everyone who says that horrible garbage is going to go carry out their sentiments, but it’s something your employer should be monitoring.

    14. Dasein9*

      Add my voice to the chorus of those advising you to set firm boundaries.

      It would be wise to be prepared for him to start trying to needle you or get your goat. He will be testing the boundaries you set. I advise using whatever coping mechanisms you have to remain calm, not only for your own sake, but for strategic reasons: that’s when he’s most likely to cross a line and say something your boss and HR will agree is a problem. Then you can request a different assignment.

      Give him the rope and let him do the rest.

    15. WellRed*

      Secretly report him to the police and stand back and watch the ensuing chaos? After last weekend…

    16. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      Go to HR and tell them in light of recent events I feel unsafe listening to Fergus explaining how certain groups deserve to die.

      1. Lobsterman*

        Also, I’d consider consulting a lawyer about next steps when/if (on, when) HR doesn’t come through for you

    17. IV*

      Well, obviously the sane professional responses, escalating to HR, and so on are your first and best line of defense. However, if that’s unreasonable or doesn’t go anywhere for whatever reason I suggest… knitting. Whenever he starts to rant about crazy/scary stuff start talking, at length and in great detail, about your most boring hobby (in my case knitting). For example:

      Him: “Immigrants, criminals, crazy craziness, yar!”
      You bust in with: “It’s just like the debate about whether to use wool or acrylic for knitting, I mean I get that acrylic has had a bad reputation for a long time, but many of the new acrylics are really nice and they are soft and washable too, on the other hand some people are allergic to wool (and I mean really allergic, my aunt gets hives, seriously major hives, it’s crazy), and who has the time hand wash things, plus sometimes even the expensive wools are itchy and you know you go through all this trouble to knit something for someone and then they don’t wear it because it’s itchy, on the other hand merino is quite nice and not all all itchy, it’s just hard… hmmm, better get back to work.”

      Notice the lack of punctuation here implying that you don’t pause long enough to let him get a word in.

    18. Una*

      I just finished doing some workplace training on active shooter situations today, and one point they brought up in training is that there are usually warning signs when someone is planning an attack, but people either don’t notice or don’t act on them. Talking about wanting to commit violence against people is one of the big warning signs. I hope this doesn’t come across as alarmist, but the fact is, this kind of behavior is really far outside the norm – even if violent fantasies are pretty common among humans, the vast majority of us know it’s inappropriate to share them, *especially* at work. It tells you something scary about his impulse control, his sense of what’s normal, and just how much space these violent fantasies take up in his mind.

      In your shoes, I would definitely be looking to see if this person matches some of the other warning signs, and more importantly, looking out for your own safety, whatever that means for you – but I definitely wouldn’t prioritize keeping this job unless you absolutely have to. If this guy gets specific about his fantasies, I might even skip HR and go straight to calling the police (I know someone who had to do that recently when her roommate started talking about his hatred for certain groups, his desire to commit violence, and ordered some guns). The police considered him a credible threat and he was arrested and charged. This guy sounds frightening – trust *your* instincts, not your boss’s.

  8. Frustrated Today*

    When managing people, at what point is it OK to say, “I’m done, I can’t do anything more to help this person and they need to leave”?

    A situation I’ve had at work since I started earlier this year has finally come to a head.

    I inherited this person as part of taking a department manager position at a new company. He was very close to the previous manager and based on what I was told and what I later witnessed, it was eventually to his detriment. The manager laid more work on this guy than they probably should have, but the guy also didn’t speak up to say it was too much and actively volunteered himself for more. I’m now left with the aftermath of that. We are, or were, headed in a good direction, though there were lots of bumps in the road and frequent ups and downs; I never really knew from day to day what I would get. Not only did I give this person leeway and work with him to manage his workload, I sought out opportunities for him to grow. In addition, the company really went above and beyond for him over the years.

    Things came to a head this week and when confronted with an issue, he told me he’s still unhappy and there’s nothing I can do to help him.

    Had I hired this person, I would have managed him out after probably three months or so (given some issues I haven’t mentioned, things that are just part of his personality and probably not easily changed); however, being that I inherited him, he was basically a golden child to his former manager and my own manager (his grandboss, who now knows the full extent of the situation and agrees with me that we stop our efforts to overlook his quirks), and his been with the company a long time (about 7 years), I gave it extra time so as not to appear as though I’m not willing to make the effort. And I also thought that it was the shock of a new manager that has a different style, which can be really hard for some people.

    Anyway, even though I know logically that I’ve done everything I can do at this point and it’s on him to make changes or leave, and my manager agrees, I can’t help but feel like I could’ve done something more. “If only I’d done X or Y, then maybe I could have made a difference.” I guess I feel like I failed at my first truly challenging situation as a manager. Even though I’ve been a manager for 20+ years, I’ve been extraordinarily lucky to end up with people that aren’t problems—they did what they had to do, did it well, and had a good attitude.

    1. A tester, not a developer*

      It sounds like you’ve done everything right; if he feels that there’s nothing you can do to help him improve then he’s made the decision to leave by default. If it makes you feel any better I suspect that both you and the rest of the team will be happier/function better once your ‘golden anchor’ is gone.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        Yes, I do believe people will be relieved. I have no idea when the change can be made, but I’m relieved that I no longer need to keep on trying. I mean, obviously I won’t be a crappy manager to him. I just mean I don’t need to make an effort any longer to change his mind/feelings.

        1. Jaydee*

          I find that people spend a lot longer trying to change other people’s minds and feelings than is warranted. You can’t control what other people think or how they feel. Sure, words you say or ways you act might have an impact on how they think or feel. But ultimately, they are in control of how they think and feel about things. Being unable to control others is not a failure.

          And, keep in mind from the opposite side, this employee also probably feels like *he* should have been able to change how *you* think and feel about the same issues. You don’t want to change your mind on these issues any more than he does. So, once you accept that neither of you are going to change, what options are there? You guys can continue to butt heads about the same things for eternity. Or you can accept that he’s not going to change but the benefit to keeping him as an employee outweighs the downside. Or you can accept that the downside outweighs the benefit and take the appropriate steps to end his employment there.

        2. MissDisplaced*

          He told you he’s still unhappy, but he’s still there?
          Sometimes you’ll just have to lay it out: what you want, what you expect, what he needs to do, and that’s the way it’s going to be.

          If he cannot manage under those terms, you can suggest he might indeed be happier elsewhere and you respect his decision if that is the case. If he’s been decent and this is not an outright firing, you can facilitate an exit strategy, and give him some time to find a job and transition out of the company.

    2. designbot*

      The measurement of success here shouldn’t be turning coal into diamonds. It should be handling the coal in an appropriate manner that doesn’t tarnish the rest of the gems on your team.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        Thank you. Logically I know this, but I still wish I could have made a bigger difference.

    3. voyager1*

      How did you him grow? How did you go above and beyond? Did he feel like he was given opportunities?

      Sounds like to me this guy is just burned out. There could also be some difference in expectations of what is success in his role.

      1. Frustrated Today*

        I think some of it is burnout, but a good deal is personality and other issues; I didn’t spell them out since one never know who’s reading this. The company really has bent over backwards to give him many opportunities that others haven’t received, but doesn’t recognize that at all.

    4. Quinalla*

      Sometimes you do all you can (or maybe more than you should even) and the other person is a bad fit for the role, won’t hold up their end, etc. It sucks and I still feel guilty about it too when it happens, but you can’t control others, you can only do what you can to set them up for success. Hopefully it will be a relief for your team (it always has been on mine when problem people were let go or left) and hopefully he will find someplace where he can succeed and feel motivated.

  9. Paralegal*

    Hello! Paralegal here hoping to talk shop with other legal folks. My boss asked me to look into new legal document and case management software for our small law firm, but rejects the obvious choices like Relativity because they’re too expensive. What softwares or other systems do you use that you like, that might be more accessible to a firm with limited resources to spend on IT? We do environmental litigation, so we have lots of documents to keep track of!

    1. Madam Secretary*

      We use a document management system called FileSite aka iManage and I love it. Not sure what the costs are or the tech requirements. It’s basically a massive database, but very easy to use. Our files are set up within Outlook.

      1. Paralegal*

        I’ve heard good things about iManage! We use gmail, though, and I don’t think it integrates with that :(

        1. Philosophia*

          It does now, but with many flaws—some in I Manage itself, some in the Gmail integration.

    2. Former Govt Contractor*

      If you’re talking about e-discovery and production, check out Thomson Reuters eDiscovery Point. I just met with a rep. A subscription is $550/month for 10 GB, pre-review costs nothing – you are only charged for what you send for review and production. Or if you need it less frequently, their one off charge is $130 GB. They also store your documents. User friendly too, I hate Relativity.

    3. Bigglesworth*

      I work at a small estate planning firm (two attorneys and me). They use Cosmolex but also use dropbox, since we digitize all our documents and give the originals back to clients or shred them.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Not sure if this is the type of program you’re looking for (others responded while I was typing and I didn’t see them). Hopefully you get some good ideas!

      2. Paralegal*

        Thanks! I’ll look into Cosmolex. I wish we would digitize and shred all our old documents, it would make my life much easier, haha! I use Dropbox for my personal files and love it.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          We had to move offices recently and being a digital office made packing up a breeze! Plus, it’s saved our hide a few times because we digitize all outgoing mail and we someone emails us and writes that they never received XYZ, we can point to our chron file and let them know when we mailed the documents to them and what the documents were. Happened twice today actually.

    4. Hamlindigoblue*

      We used TrialWorks, which was just ok. It did what it needed to do, but it’s clunky and dated. I’ve heard good things about Smokeball, which is cloud based and they cater to small firms.

      1. Paralegal*

        Oh, I haven’t heard of smokeball – thanks for the tip! I will definitely look into it.

  10. Under Suspicicion*

    Kombucha quandry: I’ve been reported to HR for “drinking at work.” The report comes from my new habit of drinking a GT’s Trilogy Kombucha every afternoon (for the record the clear bottle, not the dark bottle). While it has a small amount of alcohol, it’s low enough that it’s not regulated (less than mouthwash). That means that a 5-year old could purchase one, and the cashier wouldn’t bat an eye. In my opinion, this means that it’s fine to drink at work. I mean, I’ve got a coworker who drink 64-oz Mountain Dew from the gas station every day. That’s got to be more mood altering than a kombucha. For the record, HR is going to let it slide but told me to stop drinking them at work.

    I’m just wondering if anyone else has run into something similar.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Personally, I don’t like kombucha, but I know a lot of folks do. I’ve never heard of it being a problem at work and it seems kine of silly. But my question to you is, is this the hill you want to die on?

      (Also some mouthwash has a lot of alcohol in it, actually, it’s just that it’s unpleasant to drink)

      1. Under Suspicicion*

        No, not the hill that I want to die on. I’m discontinuing per HR’s request; I’m just rather annoyed.

      2. Matilda Jefferies*

        Not the hill I would die on personally, and I’m surprised (or I guess not really surprised) that HR would care either. I don’t love the framing of “we’re going to let it slide as long as Under Suspicion changes their behaviour” – as opposed to “Under Suspicion isn’t doing anything wrong, and we told Nosy ComplainyPants to mind their own business.”

        But yeah, at the end of the day it’s probably not worth arguing about, if HR feels that strongly about kombucha.

    2. Arielle*

      WTF. My work cafeteria sells kombucha and I see people drinking it at their desks all the time.

      1. Autumnheart*

        My work cafeteria makes cream of mushroom soup with sherry in it. Nobody’s calling HR about that.

      2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

        Our GM’s corner office is so warm and sunny that another coworker is fermenting jugs of kombucha in it.

        Many sympathies, Under Suspicion; the busybody who “reported” you needs to chill out, and your HR should have laughed it off.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      My in-laws got into (and lost) an argument as to whether they could purchase ginger beer on a Sunday. And that has no alcohol. You never know what will cause an eye bat.

      Like ThatGirl, I would put this into “not rational, not the hill I want to die on” and move on.

      1. Grapey*

        I used to work at a grocery store when I was 16/17 and had to call over a cashier over 18 to ring out O’Douls. (“non alcoholic” beer.) Ridiculous.

        1. Mama Bear*

          My college roommates and I got written up when Res Life found a bottle of non-alcoholic wine and a bottle of Goya’s Malta in our fridge. Some people can’t read. (We did successfully fight it, though they also wrote us up for cooking sherry which stuck.)

      2. Natalie*

        I’ve seen a couple of brands of fancy ginger beer at the co-op that are 0.5% alcohol. But they’re obviously not considered alcohol, because if they were you’d only be able to get them at the liquor store in my state.

      3. Filosofickle*

        I got carded once for ginger beer at Safeway. I wondered if that was staff discretion (checker saw “beer” and didn’t know the difference) or a system prompt (the register popped up an “ID required” flag). I live in coastal California, not exactly a hotbed of blue laws.

    4. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’ve never done the math on this but I imagine they may see this as similar to someone who splashes some whiskey in their coffee — i.e. whatever the actual alcohol content, it doesn’t look good to do it openly at work. If this is something that you can’t live without, can you drink your Kombucha on a break outside of the building?

      1. Yarrow*

        I don’t think those are the same thing. Kombucha is not alcoholic. (it has so little alcohol that it’s legally non-alcoholic.) I don’t get how this involves more than emailing HR and saying “Hey, someone probably just saw me drinking kombucha. It’s not alcohol.”

        1. Venus*

          If you search for the drink which Under Suspicicion specifically mentions, the drink states it is 3% ABV, which is *not* ‘not alcoholic’ (which is limited to < 0.5%)

          1. Rainy*

            Ugh, really? So A) that’s not normal for kombucha afaia, and B) yeah at that point don’t drink it at work.

            1. Ingray*

              From what I can see that’s the dark bottle one, the one the OP specified they are NOT drinking.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            *googles* Okay, I’m reversing my earlier position. If you wouldn’t drink 3% alcohol beer at your desk, 3% alcohol kombucha is also out.

          3. Arielle*

            There are two versions of that drink which is why the OP mentioned the clear vs. black bottles. The black bottles are 3% ABV and legally a beer. The clear bottles are not and can be sold in any grocery store.

            1. Venus*

              Fair enough, although the fact that the brand does have an alcoholic version may be why there was a concern expressed by someone. If the colour of the bottle is a factor then the complainer may not appreciate the difference.

              Personally I wouldn’t care (I have worked places where wine was sold at the cafeteria), but I can appreciate how there could be confusion on whether the drink had alcohol.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, a mix up between beer in a bottle and kombucha in a bottle seems most likely. Or someone who believes kombucha is like whiskey. (I recall someone had to defend their KUMQUAT license plate on the grounds that it is a fruit, not a sexual euphemism.)

          So give HR a chance to say “kombucha is not whiskey” but if that’s the line they are drawing, you can shrug and transfer your kombucha into an opaque tumbler.

      2. Rainy*

        So kombucha is not a brand, it’s a type of fermented tea stuff (I am not a fan, sorry, I can’t describe it fairly), but if you’re going to ban drinking kombucha at work because of trace alcohol, you need to also stop eating bread at work.

        1. Arielle*

          Yes. Or orange juice. I am in a number of pregnancy groups where occasionally someone will freak out about the negligible amount of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer, and inevitably someone points out that orange juice has more naturally occurring alcohol than the <0.5% that NA beer has.

          1. writerson*

            Yes, orange juice! I came here to say exactly that. Also, I’ve brewed my own kombucha for years, and continue to drink it now, even while pregnant.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          When I was still into soda, I used to drink root beer at work, in a tall brown bottle. I’m surprised nobody tried to ban it because it looks like a Budweiser and contains the word ‘beer’!!

          1. Rainy*

            One of my classmates in ugrad (we were both nontrad students), who was married and pregnant with her third got pulled over driving home from class drinking a rootbeer (she spent that entire pregnancy drinking rootbeer like gangbusters because it was the only thing that settled her stomach) because the cop thought it was a beer. She was like *gestures at enormous belly* “DUDE!”

    5. CatCat*

      I have not run into this and it strikes me as patently silly. I’d be side-eyeing HR on this one and wondering about their judgment in general. Just a weird thing to me for them to take up your time with and to ban.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        Trilogy does not contain 3% ABV. GT’s does have 3 special kombuchas that are a dual fermentation method specifically designed to be an alcoholic beverage but those are their New World Noir, Heavenly Hops, and Pina Paradise. All of the other kombuchas only contain trace amounts of naturally occurring alcohol that do not need to be labeled.
        And yes, I have an actual bottle of the GT’s Trilogy in front of me at work right now.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Trace amounts of alcohol in flavorings are not uncommon, but that’s not nearly the same as 3% abv. To be clear, 3% is low, but it’s not nothing. And comparisons to mouthwash or vanilla extract are a bit disingenuous, you don’t drink those by the glassful.

      3. LCL*

        The website for the product she is drinking says it contains a trace amount of alcohol. Kombucha is a fermented product that also has bacteria in the process. The yeast ferments the sugar and turns it into alcohol, and the bacteria eat the resulting alcohol. Commercially produced kombucha should have negligible amounts of alcohol. But if it isn’t pasteurized, and not held at a correct temp, it’s possible there could be some secondary fermentation after it is bottled.

    6. cactus lady*

      Oh I would be so annoyed by this! I drink kombucha at work relatively frequently, and before we started brewing it at home I would occasionally wonder if anyone would have a problem with it. (Now I bring it in reusable to-go cups or water bottles.) I’m sorry, that sucks!

    7. LCL*

      It’s not worth fighting HR on this. It sounds like they don’t know too much about it, and once they were told it has a trace amount of alcohol they lost their minds.

      The question, as always when HR or management asserts their authority to stop something innocuous, is what is really going on here? Who decided to inform HR? Why did they decide to inform HR? Why wasn’t the informer told MYOB?

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      I drink them daily as well (also at work – same brand plus several others depending on my mood and sale/rebates) and my BOSS actually asked if he could try some. Hell another coworker brings in her husband’s homemade kombucha.
      This is utterly ridiculous and the fact that the FDA or whatever department is over alcoholic beverages DOESN’T consider it a regulated substance means your coworker and HR are out of their ever living minds.

    9. CoffeeforLife*

      This is bananas. And I would probably push back since it’s not an alcoholic drink, it is sold to children, on Sunday, and you wouldn’t even register a blip on a breathalyzer. It is NOT the same as a splash of whiskey in your coffee. Pretty sure you have to be 21 for that.

      Have you tried water kefir? It’s less tangy but still a probiotic drink. I’m pretty sure there isn’t an alcohol warning on the label (even though it can produce alcohol as a by product). I brew my own and sometimes make it boozy.

    10. LawLady*

      I went to college with a guy who had been VERY sheltered. There was kombucha at some event and he had some, and then someone later mentioned that the fermentation process meant there was a little alcohol in it. “Alcohol??!? This has alcohol??” He freaked out and then proceeded to act very drunk (stumbling around) and telling us he was drunk.

      I wondered where that guy ended up, but it turns out it’s your coworker.

    11. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ve seen some Paleo/Whole30 sites that recommend Kombucha as a substitute for wine, so it’s possible that folks are misinformed about what it actually is.

    12. Mbarr*

      Uh, our workplace actively brought IN Kombucha for employees (it started in the California offices, then spread to our Canadian ones). The CEO himself was waxing poetic about it.

    13. c56*

      Incredibly dumb, so dumb that I might actually consider dying on that hill (if I drank kombucha).

    14. Moocowcat*

      Alrighty……..*confused look* I’m not sure why HR even recommended that kombucha not be consumed at work.
      As you said, kombucha is just a slightly fermented beverage that has less alcohol than mouthwash.
      Drinking kombucha would absolutely not be a problem at my workplace. In fact, there are a few bottles of kombucha in the staff fridge.

    15. bdg*

      The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has decided kombucha is not within the scope of fitness for duty regulations and can be brought in a protected area. It was previously a reportable violation of FFD regulations, and it looks like people are still reporting it, but apparently it’s allowed now.

      Don’t know if that helps or hurts you, but it’s definitely been the source of much debate in the nuclear community.

    16. Kt*

      Annoyed on your behalf. Get them to ban chocolate chip cookies made with vanilla extract, too. And cookie dough ice cream since it’s not cooked. For sure sourdough bread.

    17. Zona the Great*

      I think this is loony-toons but I should mention that regular kombucha makes me feel a little drunk (yes the kind your child can drink). Maybe the complainer is like me and perhaps doesn’t realize kombucha doesn’t impact most other people like it does them.

    18. Ciela*

      I knew a girl who was told, in high school, to put away the O’Doul’s she had brought in on St. Patrick’s day. No detention or demerits, just a “put that in your locker until dismissal”.

      At work though? What about Nyquil, or other cough syrups? But then I where I work we have “work beer”. As in beer that the company has purchased to assist the production team in dealing with customers’ BS. I will note that it is very rare for anyone to have more than one work beer a day.

  11. Goldfinch*

    I would appreciate some advice on career development. Colleagues in my age range who work in other fields are getting interviewed in trade journals, receiving industry awards, being highlighted at alumni events, etc. I’ve only just dipped my toe into the world of networking, and separating the useful from the useless is daunting. I don’t want to embody the joke about the D-list actor going to the opening of an envelope.

    I’ve always been the only person at a company who does my job (technical writing) so I don’t have a department of peers to discuss with. I belong to the appropriate professional association (STC) and have attended some seminars, but am not sure what else to do.

    How do you seek out this type of development, and how do you develop a sense for which opportunities are a good use of your time?

    1. BeenThere*

      When I was a technical writer, I also belonged to STC, both the national association and the local chapter. I went to all the local chapter meetings. I also served as a judge in the STC competition. If you’re trying any new strategies in your work, you might consider putting together a paper that you could present at the national conference, or perhaps participate on a panel.

      It’s been a while since I’ve been a member of the STC, but I think I remember a sub-group for lone technical writers. That might be a good fit for you. There’s also the LavaCon Content strategy group.

      Good luck!

    2. 867-5309*

      Attending events, joining conversations on LinkedIn, asking people to meet for coffee or over lunch, etc. These are good ways to network. Those who are getting interviews and awards are actively putting themselves out there by apply. Does that interest you?

      Most alumni and professional organization publications list career moves, so you could submit yourself to those, when applicable. You can also submit for industry awards on behalf of your organization, though those come with a fee.

      I don’t dig the award band wagon and I think increasingly (at least, in my field of marketing) they’re being seen as less relevant the more people humble brag about them. I swore a few years ago that the only awards I’d consider would be those on behalf of my organization that further meaningful business objectives, versus those for my direct work in marketing. You learn over time what events are worthwhile and what aren’t, but start with the most well-organized and largest membership association for your field.

      1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

        Re: Those who are getting interviews and awards are actively putting themselves out there by apply

        I confirm that for many awards you have to apply to be considered: there is usually no such thing as a “search committee” for prize candidates. If you look at the webpages of the awards you should find where and how to apply.
        Some prizes require a senior member to recommend you (as opposed to you directly applying), so if you have a mentor you should talk to them; they should also tell you which prizes are worth competing for, because it’s true that they are so many now that their value is diluted.

        Also, for the general networking part: if conferences are common in your field, try to go as much as you can. People go to conferences for exactly this reason, and networking is expected and encouraged between the sessions. It is also much easier to start talking with new people when you can comment and ask questions on what they just presented.

    3. Willow*

      Don’t just joing goups or attend meetings or seminars, volunteer to help with them. It’ll make the networking easier, because you’ll be forced to do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

  12. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

    Has anyone ever been flown out for an interview? This is the first time in my career that I am being seriously wooed ny a company and it is overwhelming. How have you all dealt with those intense emotions?

    1. hermit crab*

      Me! I was interviewing for a position in my current city, but the rest of the team was located in a different city so that’s where the interview took place. They paid for my flight and hotel up front, and probably would have reimbursed me for a meal or two (but I didn’t ask).

      Just don’t do what I did: because of a combination of me not being prepared for the nightmare that is Chicago-O’Hare and a gate-change communication error, I actually MISSED MY RETURN FLIGHT despite being in the airport well ahead of time. Luckily the airline didn’t charge me anything to rebook my flight, but I was so nervous that evidence of my shame would get back to my interviewers. (I got the job and have worked here for a year.)

      1. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        Oh goodness–this is always a thought in the back of my mind. Thank you for the advice!

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been flown out a couple of times. While it might make you feel as if you’re getting some kind of special treatment, just remind yourself this is a cost they’ve built into the hiring process. Yes, they like you enough to invest in you as a candidate (so you should feel special in that way), but don’t at all feel guilty. It’s not a vacation, but also feel free to enjoy the time you’re in that new place when you aren’t in the middle of an interview.

      1. Antilles*

        Yes, they like you enough to invest in you as a candidate (so you should feel special in that way), but don’t at all feel guilty.
        Similarly, don’t feel like you have any obligation here either. If the job isn’t the right fit, it’s not the right fit; don’t let yourself be swayed by the cost/expense they’ve put into the wooing process.

      2. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        Thank you so much for this. I think this comment addressed all of my big issues. I appreciate it!

      3. OtterB*

        Also, if you would be relocating for the job and haven’t visited the area before, it is completely legit to spend a little time looking around. You can’t do an extra hotel night without checking in with the employer, but if your interview starts with dinner one evening, it is not at all sketchy to come in early that morning and look around, or if it finishes with dinner one evening and you don’t fly out until the next day, it’s okay to fly out late.

    3. BeenThere*

      Yes, I was flown out for my current role. It was a very short trip — I arrived the evening before and was taken out to dinner by a small group by my new company. Then I had all-day interviews, both one-on-one and group interviews, and I flew home that evening.

      The good part of this for me was that I didn’t really need this job. I had a job that I liked in Previous City, so could be very picky. That really helped me stay calm. But it did involve a lot of conversation with Spouse, and when I accepted the position, sadness at leaving friends. That’s been the most lasting emotion — I am slowly making new friends, and I still miss the old ones three years later. But the job in New City turned out great.

      Another thing was that I had already developed a list of places that I would absolutely not move to, and a list that I’d be interested in. And also, I had a good idea of the directions I wanted to move in my career. So when New Job came up, and it was in a place I was interested in living, and the role moved me in directions I wanted to go, it was pretty easy to consider it seriously.

      1. Still Standing (yeah yeah yeah)*

        This is a great idea as well. Until very recently, I never thought of relocation as a possibility, but it’s been a factor in the past two interviews. I need to decide which cities I could live in and which ones are a no-go.

        Thank you!

    4. 867-5309*

      I’ve been flown out for an interview probably 10 times in my career. There are two big things that can help with the nerves: 1.) Prepare for the interview a couple days before. Don’t rely on the flight or night before hotel stay to prep. 2.) If it’s in/out same day, I do some small things like not wearing my jacket/blazer/sweater until landing, putting on make-up at the destination airport, bringing desperate and a toothbrush & paste, spraying toner on my face after landing, etc.

      Good luck!

      1. hermit crab*

        Don’t rely on the flight or night before hotel stay to prep.

        Oh, yeah, this is such good advice and something I always plan to do (not just for interviews, but for other meetings, conference presentations, etc.) and somehow NEVER actually manage.

  13. Eillah*

    Is there any way for me to have two excel files open at the same time on two different monitors? I can’t make it work!!!

    1. Coffee Bean*

      If you have Excel 2010 or older you need to open two instances of excel. Right-click the icon and just press “Microsoft Excel [year]”.

    2. Art3mis*

      What version of MS Office are you using? You shouldn’t have a problem doing it. I just tested it on mine and it’s working fine.

      1. Becky*

        This was a well known quirk of older versions of Excel. Sometimes getting two instances of Excel open at once to put on different monitors was a pain. By default it would open both files in the same instance.

        1. Natalie*

          It’s just one version IIRC, because I remember being aggravated when we were updated and suddenly I had to do the dumb work around to have two workbooks open at once. Thankfully someone came to their senses and fixed it in later versions.

    3. KR*

      I hate this! I usually end up dragging the Excel window open across both screens and then opening the two Excel files side by side within the one bigger Excel program if that makes sense. But it is a major pain.

    4. fposte*

      Are you Windows or Mac? On Mac, you just need to make sure the external monitor isn’t set to mirroring and set the arrangement so that the screens are adjacent; then just drag one spreadsheet over to the other monitor.

    5. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      On mine, I have hold down the shift key while clicking on the Excel icon (mine is in my bottom taskbar, so I only have to click once).

    6. stelms_elms*

      Open the first Excel document, then go to the Excel icon and open your second document. That should work. (If you try to open the second one when you are in the first document, you’ll have to toggle back and forth which I think is what’s happening for you.)

    7. Redundant Department of Redundancy*

      My method is to have excel open on one screen and then go to start> excel and it opens up in a new window – note some things won’t copy/paste over between the two windows!

      This is on windows 10 with Excel 2010

      1. Existentialista*

        Yes, this method works for me too. It look me literally YEARS to figure this out, so I feel your pain!

      2. Nope, not today*

        this is what we have to do in my office as well – opening a second file from Excel’s menu will only allow it to be open in that window. You have to open a second instance of Excel instead, and drag it over.

    8. ChachkisGalore*

      It’s been awhile since I’ve had this issue (no shade – I’m just genuinely rusty, so apologies if I’m misremembering). I think it works if you open your first excel doc. You can open it however you want. The second one is where you have to do it specific way – you can’t just open a saved excel file. You have to open a brand new excel workbook (not from within the first one – completely fresh – like from start->excel). This should open a second, separate instance. If you’re trying to access a previously saved workbook then you can go through the Open option within the fresh workbook (I think it’s File->Open).

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      Right-click on icon at bottom of screen and select excel (version) not one of spreadsheets.

    10. MoopySwarpet*

      I think you can shift click on the excel icon on the taskbar and then open your file from within the new window. (The computer I can test on is currently occupied so I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I’m pretty sure I’ve done that before.)

    11. Clear All before Calculating*

      I have it in my task bar (Windows). While holding ALT on the keyboard, right click on the icon in the task bar and choose Excel (or something similar). Keep holding down ALT and you’ll get a prompt that asks if you want to open a new instance of excel

  14. hermit crab*

    Who else listens to the podcast The Broad Experience? I just heard about it and listened to a couple of episodes this week. It’s about women and gender in the workplace.

    One episode talked about how long people stay in jobs (especially if there are reasons they might want to leave), which is not something I ever thought about as gendered, but it totally makes sense. It turns out that women are more likely to be risk-averse in making career jumps (“This situation is not the best, but the next one could be worse, and what if I want to get pregnant?”) and to be subject to that sort of overly-personal one-sided job loyalty (“I can’t leave, I would let everyone down!”).

    I was particularly struck by this quote (from guest Danielle Maveal in episode 136, talking about when she left her job at Etsy):

    Even now it gets me emotional, it breaks my heart — and I don’t know if a man would ever be like, “I can’t leave this job, it would break my heart.” I mean maybe, but…

    I have BEEN that person! I stayed at my last job maybe two years longer than I should have, and deciding to leave felt more like a breakup than some actual breakups I’ve gone through.

    Anyway, I thought that was super interesting. I’ll put a link to the episode in the comments.

    1. Sarah*

      That is me right now! I’ve finally decided to actively apply, but now I’m also dealing with imposter syndrome and feeling grossly underqualified for everything I want. I’ll have to check this out.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      This is interesting because I’m always seeking new opportunities and have no feelings of guilt or sadness when I move on. The only things that might give me pause about leaving a specific company or position is salary and benefits, especially medical. I simply cannot take a pay cut ever (every job I’ve held so far has been an upward trajectory), and due to various medical issues, I need to find the best high deductible plan possible with the largest coverage amount and lowest deductible (since most places no longer offer high premium/low deductible plans or HMOs).

      1. hermit crab*

        I aspire to have that sort of rational, objective outlook! I’m a pretty risk-averse, relationship-focused person in general, but I was still really surprised at how hard it was to make the decision to leave my last job. I left for really good reasons but it was TOUGH.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          See, and I’m task oriented – relationships really don’t rate that high to me, so that’s probably why it’s easy for me to be objective.

    3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Thanks for the recommendation! I haven’t heard of this podcast, but will subscribe to it. I have definitely stayed in a job where it was clear I wasn’t wanted, and I didn’t feel like I was providing value. However, I was trying to have a baby within a year of starting that job, and had a few miscarriages first. So it was definitely a matter of already having a job, so didn’t want to change that while I was focusing on other things. But when it was so obvious I wasn’t providing value, something clicked, and I finally started looking for a different job at the same company.

    4. Federal Middle Manager*

      Yes! Quitting jobs is definitely a gendered thing, in my experience. In my friend groups (mainly educated professionals and some service industry) men are much more likely to quit a job because of some perceived intolerable situation, whereas women are more likely to stick it out until they have something lined up.

      My first major fight with my now-husband was that he quit a job after three days because it wasn’t a good fit without consulting me. For him, it was a clearly bad situation and his call. From my perspective, how could you know after three days and how do make a financial decision without talking to your partner?

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This sounds like my sister-in-law. She used to quit jobs all the time for stupid reasons like she didn’t like her manager’s “tone” when the woman was speaking to her. My brother cursed her out a few times for this because they cannot afford to live off just his salary alone when they have a nearly five year old child, but she seems to be doing slightly better about this now that she understands she needs to talk to him before she makes life altering changes that shifts the entire burden of their household expenses to him.

    5. bookends*

      Wow, I’ve never thought about the gendered aspect of this before! I’m a woman and this is definitely me.

      My work situation has gotten a lot better, but I was in a years-long cycle of constant excuses to not look for other work: I’ll quit once my boss is back from medical leave, now she’s back but I should stay until the open positions are all filled, there’s always a position open, etc.

      Really looking forward to listening to this later.

    6. Quinalla*

      Thanks for bringing this up, subscribed!. Just got done binge-listening to HBR’s Women at Work podcast backlog, highly recommend it!

      I agree that this tends to be more of an issue with women than men, having more guilt at leaving a job, etc.

    7. TechWorker*

      Thanks for the recommendation. I feel the imposter syndrome thing hard (not helped by failing the initial test due to effectively a typo at the first place I got as far as actually applying to). My commute is what keeps me on my job tho tbh, to move to any other company would add on ~40min each way. Will check out the podcast!

    8. Bigglesworth*

      This is very interesting! I’m a relationally oriented person and won’t quit til I have something lined up, but you better believe that I’m going to start look ASAP if I get a bad vibe or hate where I work. There can be good coworkers in a toxic workplace, but they don’t negate the toxicity.

  15. FoodieNinja*

    Any tips for staying fresh and alert for a full day of interviews? I’m interviewing next week for a job I’d really like, and my agenda runs from 9:00 – 4:00, meeting with more than a dozen different people (in groups and individually). This is my first time with such an extensive interview agenda. How do I make sure I’m as “on” after lunch as before?

    1. Matilda Jefferies*

      Whatever amount of coffee you usually drink – not too much, because it will make you jittery! And stay away from pasta or anything super heavy at lunch. Fresh air and breaks if you can get them – even a quick walk around the block if that’s an option.

      But honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. You’re going to be jacked up on adrenaline all day regardless, so I would count on that to carry you through – and plan for some good down time when you get home! Good luck!

    2. wingmaster*

      I just did my first ever full day of interviews last week! Some of my tips:

      1. Get a good night’s sleep.
      2. Eat breakfast, even if you don’t typically eat breakfast (I do intermittent fasting)
      3. Pack a small snack – whatever pick-me-ups you need
      4. Dress professionally, yet comfortably
      5. You’ll have a small break between each interview – use it to get up, stretch, go to the bathroom, refill your water
      6. Do socialize

      1. Catherine de Medici*

        To your first point, I would say get a couple of good night’s sleep in a row. I believe studies have shown that it usually takes at least two days to start to really have an effect. (Especially if you have a tendency already to not get enough sleep like me.)

        1. Mellow*

          To these two fine points, may I also add a brisk 30-minute walk around the hotel or wherever safe on the morning of the interview, to whichever music puts you in the mood to interview (for me, it was “Flashlight” (Parliament), “Disco Nights/Rock-Freak” (GQ), and other similar music).

          The walking and music made me feel calibrated.

    3. blackcat*

      I’m an academic. We do 2 day interviews, that are often 8am-8pm (breakfast through dinner).

      Drink lots of water, and pack a super quick snack you can shove in your mouth during bathroom breaks. *Ask* for bathroom breaks if you need them (and you will if you drink lots of water). Having just 2-3 breaks through the day that are just a few minutes but you get to be alone (even if peeing) can be hugely helpful. It’s best to go between meetings, and it’s easy to say something like “I’ll need a pit stop on my way to my next meeting. Where’s the bathroom?” Don’t eat a huge lunch, just enough to tide you over. Aim for carbs and less fat to reduce food-coma.

    4. 867-5309*

      Bring a toothbrush & toothpaste to brush your teeth after lunch and a small bottle of toner to squirt on your face.

      1. Krickets*

        I recommend a setting / misting spray instead and one with hyaluronic acid to keep moisture on your skin. :)

    5. Quinalla*

      Full night sleep the night before, and the night before that if you can swing it. Eat breakfast. Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Take your breaks, don’t just sit in the conference room or wherever they stick you all day, get up and walk around, use the restroom, etc.

      Toothbrush & toothpaste, small snacks, etc. are all good ideas too!

      I’ve not done a full day interview, but I’ve done full day conferences which are somewhat similar. I’m introverted, so I usually either find a quiet place during breaks to recharge or hide in the bathroom a few extra minutes.

    6. TechWorker*

      I think even being aware it might be a problem is a good start! Try not to mentally rank the different sections in importance as it’s probably quite difficult to do that as a candidate/easy to get it wrong! Good Luck :)

      (When I was applying to grad roles I had a very intense full day interview process – where I succeeded on everything technical but did badly on the ~4pm interview because my brain was sludge from the pressure of the rest of it!

  16. Augusta has gone East*

    What do you think of unpaid internships NOT at the start of your career but 4-6 years into it.

    A few weeks ago I applied to a position at a start-up. The position had a short description that fit me perfectly and I also have experience with their customers.

    At the end of the first interview, they told me that the position is first an unpaid internship for a few months (part-time) and then, if both parties are happy, they offer a contract for a paid FT position. During the internship, they cover the cost of your commute and there’s an allowance for food (which covers lunches for about 1 week a month).

    Initially, I have accepted the situation and went on with interviews/reference checks while applying to other positions elsewhere. Then the offer came through and I have until next week to accept/decline. (This week they have their summer closure so I really have had time to think this through.) And I am still quite unsure.

    So there’s not a ton of opportunities here and I really like the position, the product and the company’s mission. I’ve just moved here and I’m also learning the language so this would let me focus on that and I’d have something on my CV.

    On the other hand, this would put me and my SO in a hard situation where he remains the sole breadwinner for longer than expected. I might be able to get a part-time gig in a local café but I might not.

    Also, I have 5 years of solid work experience and many years of volunteer work/student jobs. My last position came with a lot of responsibilites and I feel like I am too experienced/too old to work for free. (And unpaid internships are not cool even for unexperienced and young people.) Moreover, if I have an unpaid position, I need to take care of health insurance and my visa might run out before I get an actual job if this doesn’t work out (I’d still have months to find something and I can reapply very easily so it’s not super problematic but it is a concern, mostly because of the logistics.)

    What else do I need to take into account? When does it make sense to accept an unpaid position? Is it a red flag that they didn’t mention the internship part on their website? (I’m really quite annoyed about this but as it’s a start up, I know that different norms apply.)

    1. Sunflower*

      I would be extremely hesitant about this being a bait and switch. The fact that they didn’t tell you in the job posting what the job truly was, makes me feel like there may be no FT position available at the end of the unpaid internship part. Did they explain why that wasn’t listed in the job posting?

      1. Augusta has gone East*

        No, they didn’t. As it’s a very small company, there’s no HR so hiring’s done by peopel being promoted put of the role. There is the promise of the job and this is how all of them started but that doesn’t mean I’ll have the same opportunity.

    2. Forkeater*

      That sounds super sketchy, I would not trust them to hire you after it ended, why would they pay for something they were getting for free?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This sounds utterly bonkers to me (are you in the US?) and like they don’t have the budget to hire someone, but hope the money will turn up under a couch cushion in “a few months.”

      1. Augusta has gone East*

        This is my impression as well.

        (I’m not in the US. Over here it is incredibly hard to fire someone and very expensive to create new positions, this is their reasoning behind. But this hasn’t stopped most companies to create actual positions.)

        1. blackcat*

          Europe? This would be illegal most places over there, too, I think.
          If this is outside the norm, no, I wouldn’t do it. Sounds sketchy.

        2. tamarack and fireweed*

          Frankly, if you’re in the EU, this is what the probationary period is for: At least in the UK, France or Germany, and you’re employed on an unlimited contract with a probationary period, it’s “no foul” FOR BOTH SIDES to end it during this probationary period. It’s harder afterwards.

          Back in my time in Europe, I’ve run into the problem that companies wanted to hire on *temporary* contracts, where more restrictions apply, and again both sides tend to be stuck in in the contract for a while.

          In any event, I second those who say “don’t do it (if you aren’t desperate)”. Sounds to me the company is not mature enough to offer market-standard employment conditions, so what they do amounts to dumping (whether legally or not). In any event you can expect more crap from an inexperienced organization.

          BTW if I were to decline the offer I’d spell out, politely but clearly, the reason (“[I like what you do, but…] After consideration, I realize that I do not think I should be working uncompensated at my career stage, or indeed at any career stage. I wish you luck with your mission.”) Why? Because *probably* there’s someone inside the org who isn’t too much on board with this either (see the half-hearted attempts to provide *some* compensation), and having a professionally written letter from a desirable candidate gives them ammunition to do away with this practice.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Startups are widely known for their creative (read: illegal) pay situations, I’d be very suspicious of this.

      1. b*

        Nope. Though perhaps you could see if they had a good LinkedIn profile or a connection you could trust. There really is no advantage to you in this situation. No money, no contract, no school credits.

    5. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      This doesn’t sound like a legal unpaid internship (in the US). Those usually need to offer something of value to the intern in return for work — so like college credit. There is actually a list of criteria they need to meet and one of them is “there is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship.”

      1. Mel*

        My thoughts exactly! Klaxons went off in my head the moment unpaid internships are mentioned WITHOUT college credit (which is the easiest way to make unpaid internships legal).

      2. Filosofickle*

        IIRC my state (CA) goes even beyond this — to be legit, an unpaid internship not only has to offer real educational value, but “interns must not displace employees or do the work a paid employee would typically perform.”

        1. VelociraptorAttack*

          It’s not just CA. The Department of Labor has a 6 point test and overall the benefit needs to go to the intern and not the company for an unpaid internship to be completely on the up and up if it’s a for-profit organization.

          That’s a very very basic overview at least.

    6. Matilda Jefferies*

      I was listening to a podcast about this just yesterday! (link in reply.) The idea is that generalists sometimes have more success than specialists, and whatever you can do to gain a breadth of experience – rather than depth – is likely going to be helpful to you in the long run.

      Definitely check out the legalities of the internship as the others have suggested, and obviously it matters a lot if your family can afford it. But if those factors line up for you, there’s something to be said for trying something brand new that you haven’t done before – it could work out really well!

    7. Zephy*

      I agree that this smells fishy. The most charitable explanation I have is that they just don’t know what they’re doing and haven’t done much hiring before. Less-charitably, the role involves wearing more hats than the description would lead you to believe, they know the workload is unreasonable and anyone that takes the job will want to leave after a few months, and rather than try to hire an appropriate number of people to do the things, they’ve decided that a revolving door of free labor is more cost-effective. Is it an entry-level role, like are you trying to break into this industry, or is it a position that requires the five years of experience that you have? Especially if it’s not entry-level I would be dubious. I think you’re right that at this point, it doesn’t make sense for you to take this job.

    8. Miss Fisher*

      That sounds more like an unpaid probationary period, which I think isn’t exactly legal.

      Does anyone know, for my own curiosity, what exactly is an internship in legal terms? I didn’t think internships could be actual positions within the company. I thought they were set up within a partnership with a university for college students only.

    9. CatCat*

      It sounds super sketchy to me (pretty ballsy of them not to put in the advertisement that it was unpaid!!) and like it could cause several hardships for you. Hard pass.

    10. NopeNopeRope*

      You’re 5 years inter your career; you applied for a new job, not a volunteer gig. I’d be INCREDIBLY wary of this company. They essentially want your time and skills for free for “a few months”. Let’s say that’s 3 months/ 12 weeks. at .5 FTE, that’s 6 full weeks of work AND 12 weeks of no pay/limited ability to do other work for pay.
      Are you willing to trade that work for this connection and no guarantee of a job?

    11. 867-5309*

      Ick. No way. It’s one thing to say we’re going to start you out as a contract employee, which is more common among startups, but not paying you is ridiculous. And it’s a huge red flag that they aren’t clear about it on their website.

      This is not common at startups.

    12. Fortitude Jones*

      Yeah, I would be highly annoyed they didn’t mention the unpaid internship first in the ad and, personally, I would not accept this position. There are many companies that do paid training for people new to the industry (I did one such program about three years into my professional career at an insurance company), so the fact that they’re only giving you money for a commute and possibly lunch is ridiculous. Plus, what’s going to stop them from saying they hated your work after three months, not converting you to a paid employee, and starting all over again? Nope. I wouldn’t risk it.

    13. CoolCucumber*

      The fact that they pulled a bait and switch (made it seem like you were applying for a paid job that turned out to be an unpaid internship) would make me not trust them at all. What other things about the job are they being misleading about? And offering a job after a few months “if both parties are happy” sounds suspicious too. Why do they need “a few months” to see if someone with 5 years of profession experience (plus volunteer work and student jobs) can do the job? Can’t they just hire someone who’s a good fit and pay them from the beginning? What if, after three months, they say, “We need a few more free months to really see if you’re good or not”? What if you keep getting positive feedback and they rave about how awesome you are for three months, then say, “It just isn’t working out. We don’t want to hire you” at the end? If they only need someone to fulfill the job duties in a part time capacity, do they really need to hire someone full time?

    14. NJBi*

      I don’t know if you’re in the US or not, but here’s my armchair diagnosis of the situation if you are in the States:

      This doesn’t sound like a legal unpaid internship. Like, these are the six required criteria:
      1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment. // It would be hard to argue that this is the case considering you’re already coming in with five years of work experience. Clearly you’re above entry-level/could be taught in an education environment.
      2. The experience is for the benefit of the intern. // This is for the benefit of the company.
      3. The intern does not displace regular employees but works under close supervision of existing staff. // It sounds like they’re hiring for an open position, not a duplicate or subordinate/shadow thing.
      4. The employer providing the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded. // They are getting a lot of advantages: they don’t have to risk hiring you outright and they get your product.
      5. There is no guarantee of a job at the conclusion of the internship. // Seems sketchy with the way that they’re advertising this to you as a trial period.
      6. Both parties understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the internship. // You understand *now* I guess.

      Whether or not you’re in the US, it seems like these people are just trying to get some cheap labor and this would never transition from “internship” to “job.” A café position that gives you more time to apply for real jobs might serve you better.

      1. NJBi*

        Just saw that you’re not in the US–yeah, I don’t know. Seems fishy to this rando on the internet, though, who doesn’t know anything about your country’s particular job market!

    15. ten-four*

      My husband and I have both worked for start-ups and are reasonably up to speed on start-up best practices. This offer they are making is TOTAL NONSENSE. Companies operating in good faith pay their people – they don’t have them “audition” for months. It is the world’s reddest flag that they baited and switched on the job description. The fact that you have needs around your visa makes this flag even redder – there is little to no chance that they will help you with that, and I’m betting they’ll use your more precarious status to string you along. Other folks are making good points about the legalities too; I strongly doubt that “you work for free and we call it an internship and maybe we hire you at the end” is legal.

      You feel like you are too experienced/old to work for free because you are. There is literally nothing this start-up is offering you that is commensurate with the value that you’ll deliver. By accepting this role you’ll be accepting their frame, which is that they are SO GREAT that they are doing you a favor by allowing to prove how valuable you are. It’s the opposite: start ups need the best talent they can get so that they have a prayer of succeeding.

      I hear you on wanting to put something on your CV rather than not, but I’d look for ways to do project-based volunteer work in your field instead. You’d still be working for free, but the relationship between you and the org would be one of equals, and you could structure your time commitment to still enable you to find paying work in whatever way makes most sense for you and your partner.

      Seriously man, I’ve been around the block with startups. This is bad. Don’t do it.

    16. M*

      Sketchy as high hell, and a massive red flag not just that they didn’t mention it upfront, but that they’re the kind of workplace that thinks this is in any way acceptable. At absolute best, they’re wildly inexperienced employers with no sense of what is appropriate in hiring. At worst, they know they’re being exploitative, and there’s no way you should take their word that the internship will ever lead to a job. Run.

    17. ArtK*

      Very iffy. You can’t have an unpaid internship that gives any material benefit to the company. Lots of places got in trouble when the law changed. I’d run away.

      1. ArtK*

        Ah, not in the US so the legal stuff probably doesn’t apply. I’d still run far away from this one.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Right, being legal doesn’t make it ok. Lots of workplace shenanigans are technically legal but for one’s own sanity should be avoided.

    18. Kora*

      The fact that the job posting didn’t clearly explain what the position was is the first red flag, and it’s a massive one. The second is ‘if both parties are happy’ they’ll offer you a contract, and that’s even bigger. No goals, no performance metrics- you’re giving them months of free work and in return they’re giving you nothing. There is zero commitment in that wording to hire you at the end of this period; just them, the people who lied in their job posting, asking you to take their word for it that they’ll treat you fairly. Don’t trust them, and don’t take this position unless you have absolutely no other options.

    19. Augusta has gone East*

      Thank you so much for the reality check! Yep, it is indeed sketchy and a terrible hiring practice. I can now see that.
      I’m going to check if this is legal over here, although I’m quite sure it is.
      Hiring goes super slow from June till August here so I need to be patient in my job search and focus on learning the language. I should also remember to take a break though from school and applying as it is becoming overwhelming.
      Thanks again for your opinions, I now feel confident in turning down the offer.

      1. NJBi*

        I came back to the comments to see if you had replied, and I’m breathing a sigh of relief that you’re turning down the sketchy mcsketch sketch position! Wishing you the very best of luck with learning the language and seeking employment.

    20. CatMintCat*

      Run. Run far. Run fast.

      The labourer is worthy of his hire, and all that. They are pulling a bait and switch and I would bet big money that at the end of the unpaid bit, it’s “We’re so sorry but it isn’t working out” and on to the next unpaid bunny.

    21. Wild Bluebell*

      I wouldn’t take an unpaid internship even at the start of my career, unless it was for something like a week or two.
      I had a few internships when I was a student/graduate, and they were all paid.

  17. MOAS*

    Is putting drivers license on your resume common?

    Backstory —

    We’re hiring for remote positions and we’ve been getting A LOT of resumes that have “Drivers License” under license & certifications section of their resume. We’re a tax/accounting firm and driving is not required for this position. A lot of people who were reviewing these resumes were gobsmacked about it. The only thing I can think of is that this is common in parts of the country where public transit isn’t very common and some jobs would absolutely require having a drivers license.

    What do yall think?

    1. Rainy*

      I mean, I wonder if it’s just because they don’t have anything else under Licenses and Certifications, and they’re using a template that has that section and they don’t know they can just omit it.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It’s common in the UK, if old-fashioned. I think the implication is “doesn’t have to rely on others for transportation”.

      1. MOAS*

        That’s what I figured — it’s common in other parts of the US where there’s no public transit, to state they have a drivers license, whether or not driving is part of the job.

    3. KR*

      I have seen job ads that require a driver’s license or say they do. Or even more strangely, that specific states drivers license that the job is in. It’s so wierd to me.

      1. MOAS*

        even if the job doesn’t require driving? We are hiring remote/WFH positions for bookkeepers. Literally 0 driving involved for hte job.

      2. AndyTron*

        I have seen this recently with places that use a one size fits all application for everything from warehouse to executive positions.

    4. Mel*

      I’ve seen one person list “German Driver’s License”. When I asked about it, he clarified that the German standards are far above the US standards.

      Driving wasn’t relevant for the job at all, so it mostly came across as arrogance.

    5. Jerk Store*

      Maybe the Licenses and Certifications was part of the template and they think they have to put something?

    6. *shrug**

      I have never heard of anyone doing this, except for people who are applying for jobs where driving is a requirement. i.e. CDL A driver would put “CDL A license on his/her resume.

      Maybe these candidates want you to know that they are capable of getting to your location for an in-person interview?

    7. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      I have never seen that. Only thing I could think of is if the job required a special license for driving (like if the position was for driving large trucks or something), but otherwise that is very strange. Makes me wonder about the people applying

    8. Borgette*

      If the position is relatively entry-level, your applicants may be seeing ‘Driver’s License’ as a requirement for a surprising number of jobs, and started including it to cover those requirements and to add more content to their resumes. I remember seeing ‘must have driver’s license/transportation’ a lot in my first round of job searching after college.

    9. Bilateralrope*

      You might not realize how helpful a drivers license is to any job until you have to deal with an employee without one.

      I work security. For some sites, needing a license and car is obvious for transport to the site or sheltering the guard from the weather.

      But even sites close to public transport that have a building for the guard can find driving guards useful. Where guards on public transport can choose between leaving a few minutes early, or a 30 minute wait at the bus/train stop. Or the choice is between a few minutes late or 30 mins early. Too many choose to avoid the long wait.
      The guards with their own transport are more reliable in passing on relevant information at shift change.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        I mean, unless you live in a densely populated area with extensive public transit. Cars often are the slower means of transportation during rush hour here.

    10. cmcinnyc*

      Where I work we put “drivers license” in the job listing because it’s NYC–not everyone drives. And we do have jobs where you might need to drive (fieldwork). It is entirely possible to live here all your life and never need to get behind the wheel. Maybe your applicants are/were NYC based where having this license is actually a prized credential!

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend worked for a local utility, in the IT department. They were all required to have driver’s licenses. Because in case of a union strike, he might have been required to drive the van to be a second person at a job site with the technician authorized to do the work.

    12. Moocowcat*

      Mentioning that you have a license and reliable vehicle would be common in my industry (supporting persons with developmental disabilities). It is stated on job applications that having a reliable vehicle is an asset. Though it would be odd of people were just listing a driver’s licence number on a resume.

    13. YetAnotherUsername*

      When I was learning how to write a cv I was told to put drivers license on it. Of course back then you were also advised to put that you had good health on it which would not be the advice nowadays. So it may be just outdated advice.

      However a lot of jobs DO require a drivers license so it may not be outdated advice – it may be that they are just not tailoring their entire resume to each specific job.

      I don’t think it would be considered a negative or anything – if a license isn’t needed just consider it as a neutral piece of info. You’re not hiring them to write resumes after all.

      1. MOAS*

        Oh I agree, it’s not a negative at all. I was just curious why it was so common. And someone mentioned above—none of these applicants is in NYC, it’s remote based

    14. ErinFromAccounting*

      It could *kind of* make sense for a role that involves extensive driving/travel (I applied for a gaming consulting role once, which required driving to various area casinos), but it also kind of sounds like the applicants don’t understand that the license section is referring to the CPA licences and such.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      I think these are people unclear on the concept.

      For an accounting firm, license or certification would be my CPA, possibly a CIA (certified internal auditor – surprised me too the first time I saw that one) or being an Enrolled Agent. Other professions have other certifications and licenses, but you said this is an accounting firm, right?

    16. Vendelle*

      In my line of work we are sometimes required to visit clients. Not havibg a driver’s license would mean that the manager can’t give a coworker a certain client, which is why in my field, it’s pretty common to put a drivervs license on the resume.

      1. 16 Pieces of Flair*

        These days you can get an Uber so it actually would be discriminatory for someone blind for example.

    17. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      Depends on the country. Some CV formats list it. And for some like having a HGV reads you’ve been vetted and don’t have ”hidden disabilities” , of course discriminating against would be illegal…

      I get asked ”do you drive”… I *can* drive and have a HGV licence, but *will* I drive or do I own a car…

  18. Alice*

    I’ve been looking for a new job for a while and I’m having a bit of trouble getting responses from companies. Part of the problem is that I’m trying to adjust my career path with this move. The industry I’m in is the one I want to work in but it’s split into two halves with only a few companies doing both parts, and I’m working in the wrong half. That’s making it feel difficult to make a strong case for the jobs I want.

    I’ve thought about going back to graduate school and looked into getting a job doing the kind of work I’m doing now with one of the companies that operate in both parts of the industry then using that connection for an internal transfer. Both of those options would take years to try. I’m young enough that I feel like I still have time to make a change, but not enough time to risk something that has a low chance to lead to what I’m looking for. Does anyone have any experience successfully navigating a situation like mine?

    1. Zephy*

      I don’t know, I think “When I got into this industry, I was drawn to the work on things like X and Y that my current company does. But as I’ve learned more about the industry, I realize I want to do more of what your company focuses on, like A and B” is a pretty solid argument.

      Do you need a graduate degree to do the work you want to do? Does your current employer offer any kind of tuition assistance or reimbursement for master’s degree programs? Is not having that degree the only thing standing between you and a pay increase, like you’ve been told “you’re at the salary cap for someone who doesn’t have this specific credential, and if you were to get it, we could bump your pay”? If you could cross to the other side of the industry without the degree, I would focus your energies on making that jump, and then see if your new employer will subsidize your graduate education if you decide you still need to get that credential to advance. If you can’t cross over without having the degree, then focus on that – it may require staying with your current employer for a bit longer, if they offer any kind of tuition assistance, because it’s really not worth going into debt for a master’s degree at this moment in time.

      1. Alice*

        A graduate degree isn’t essential (although it does help with pay from what I’ve seen), I’m just trying to think of ways to bridge the gap between what I’m doing and what I want to do. It seems like my current employer wants to avoid contact with their customers on the other side as much as possible, and I don’t feel like I’ve built up the relationships I think I need for effective networking.

        Since my company allows employees to view their personnel files, I recently took a look at mine so I could check old performance reviews for any details I might want to include on a resume. My boss has told me that I am at the salary cap for my position. I would imagine that this is an oversight, but my personnel file includes a transfer form from an internal transfer I did with the salary range listed. It contradicts my boss’s claim that I’m at the position cap. This is really just the tip of the iceberg, I don’t think I can trust the company on anything. I just feel like I need to get out as soon as possible.

    2. ten-four*

      Definitely don’t go to grad school on a “maybe.” This is the situation that informational interviews are MADE for. Talk to as many people in your target field as you can about what they are looking for when they hire and how you can orient your skill set to be hireable. Maybe you’ll find out that there’s a high wall that only a degree can get you over, but I bet there are other ways to get to where you want to go.

      The reality is that there are very few jobs that REQUIRE a degree and you usually know what those are (doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc). Grad school is a huge investment in dollars and time and also foregone opportunities: the earning power and working experience you sacrifice during the years you’re in school. It’s not that there’s never a reason to get a graduate degree to improve your hireability, but the bar should be pretty high! There are a LOT of people who thought grad degrees were tickets to better jobs who have discovered that they are now overqualified in education but underqualified in experience – not a great place to be.

    3. The dude*

      My situation might be similar to yours.

      I don’t know if this works in your case, but I’ve had success framing it as “Right now I’m a specialist, but I’d like to be a generalist, so I’m looking to do X to round out my skill set.”

  19. LucyHoneychurch*

    Question for loud sneezers: is this truly something you can’t control? I work in an open area with two very loud, sudden sneezers *behind me* who regularly startle the daylights out of me. If you tell me you can’t control this, I will try harder to not hate them.

      1. valentine*

        I tend toward a double ah-CHOO! or an ah-CHOO! ah-CHOO-OO-OO! It’s super over-the-top and either hilarious or annoying. Sometimes it just comes out. If I feel it coming and have enough lead time, I can press my tongue to the roof of my mouth to suppress it altogether (maybe tell your coworkers about this). Usually, though, I panic because I have to choose between that and holding my chest so it doesn’t hurt. I also have to quickly assess whether I am in public and, if so, figure out how to hold my chest so I am not grabbing my breast whilst double-screamzing.

    1. INeedANap*

      I think there is some level of control, but it’s not perfect. You don’t need to take a deep breath in for “power” and vocalize when you sneeze; I find that a smaller breath in and not making the “achooo” noise with my vocal chords helps the loudness. The sneeze itself makes a noise, though, and that I can’t control.

    2. fposte*

      It’s not uncontrollable, but it’s also not voluntary. Most people can learn to reshape their sneeze sound, but it takes time, and it has to occur to them as a possibility first.

    3. V*

      Personally, I can’t stop the suddenness, but I can usually stop / reduce the loudness (although it is *slightly* painful to me to do so). I do stifle the loudness at work in this way because a small amount of pain to me is outweighed by everyone else’s comfort!

      1. Happy Lurker*

        Yes, this.

        I am gobsmacked at the amount of people that sneeze a monsoon everywhere. Most of them are my extended family. yuck…

        I find that if I sneeze into my elbow I can cut a lot of the noise, not all of it. I am a loud sneezer and at times startle myself.

    4. Rainy*

      It depends. I have a couple of regular sneeze triggers, and there are definitely some that I cannot stifle at all.

      Remember that when you “control the volume” of a sneeze, what you’re doing is stifling that sneeze, meaning that the sneeze is no less forceful, but the force is travelling backward through your sinuses, throat, and Eustachian tubes. If someone has blocked sinuses or habitually swollen Eustachian tubes, or if they have middle ear issues, stifling a sneeze might not be possible at all, or only with massive pain and possibly fucking up their ears.

      Sudden allergy triggers–like perfume from a passing coworker, or a huge unexpected snootful of pollen–are the ones I am least able to stifle, because they happen so quickly and so explosively that there’s no time to stifle them. The “ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…ah…CHOO” type are for me the easiest to stifle, because of the long lead time (all the ah’s). Those I can usually turn into an “ah(x)…SNRK” noise instead, but if my sinuses are full or whatever, it’s better to let the sneeze out so I can use it to blow my nose.

      1. fposte*

        I think it depends what you mean by “control the volume”–usually people are talking about the vocalization, and controlling that volume doesn’t redirect the force of the sneeze. So this isn’t pinching off a sneeze, just changing the *AAAAAAAHH*-choooooo to an Aaaah-choo.

        1. Rainy*

          For me the inhale portion isn’t the loud bit, it’s the explosion on the back end that’s loud. I don’t vocalize my sneezes, those are literally the sounds the air makes rushing into or out of my body.

          1. fposte*

            If you’re a non-vocalizer, then there’s probably not much you can do. But it’s common to vocalize to some extent (and the loudest sneezers–I think somebody here called one a “scream-sneezer”–usually do), so there’s often room for some modification there.

      2. NothingIsLittle*

        That’s the case for me, too. If I feel the sneeze coming on, I can stifle it quite easily, but if it’s unexpected I’m going to sneeze and it’s going to be loud. The “choo” sound, for me at least, doesn’t engage the vocal cords at all and is instead the result of the way my face involuntarily scrunches when I sneeze. In response to fposte, it’s more an aaaah-*CHOO* than an *AAAAH*-choo.

      3. EnfysNest*

        Yeah, when I was little, I got a lot of comments about how loud my sneezes were (“Whoa, who let the elephant in?” – stuff like that). It was so embarrassing, but the I couldn’t figure out how to sneeze quieter, so instead I started pinching my nose closed every time I had to sneeze. It altered the way I sneeze and now, even though I no longer pinch my nose, my sneezes don’t really go “out”, they just kind of cause a weird pressure for a moment and I make a strange sound that makes people ask if I just sneezed or had some sort of cough/hiccup thing, because it doesn’t sound like a sneeze does. I can’t control it or change it now. I’m sure it can’t be good for me to sneeze this way, and it makes me sad that little elementary-school-aged me was so embarrassed by people commenting on my loud sneezes that I permanently altered a basic bodily function to try to avoid the attention. And now I still get comments like “I’m not sure it’s good for you to sneeze like that,” and all I can do is shrug because I have no way of changing it now.

    5. Nikara*

      Yes, I really can’t control it the vast majority of the time. Sometimes I feel a sneeze coming and can stop it, but most of the time I can’t. And no matter what, I can’t control the volume of the sneeze. But I have upped my allergy meds recently, so I’m sneezing less :)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s uncontrollable. And that as with coughing–the person who is about to violently expel air has a moment’s warning, while the people around them do not. So it’s much more distracting and aggravating to the audience.

    7. Grace*

      I genuinely can’t change or control the volume.

      Apparently, my sneeze doesn’t actually sound like a sneeze and sounds more like a cough, judging by the number of times people have offered to get me a glass of water as opposed to saying ‘Bless you’, but I can’t change the volume. I don’t do the thing where you basically engage your vocal cords and say ‘Achoo’ (why do people do that? Is *that* on purpose?) but I do make a fairly loud noise. I can’t help it. A large volume of air being suddenly expelled makes a noise, I don’t know what to tell you.

      I do the vampire sneeze where I muffle it in the crook of my elbow, but beyond that, there’s not anything I can do.

    8. Sneezy*

      Please don’t hate them. As someone with a deviated septum that doesn’t rise to the level of needing surgery, I have a sneeze that is both loud and distinctive. When I worked in an open office, I would sneeze and people would call out, ‘Bless you Sneezy!” from 8 rows away. It’s horribly embarrassing, but I can’t afford to pay for the surgery out of pocket. I can assure you that your co-workers hate their sneezes way ore than you do.

    9. Myrin*

      Like others before me said, I can kinda control it but not really, if that makes sense? If I’m not taken by surprise by my own sneeze, I can technically reduce it to (what I’ve always considered) that weird “mpf” sound many people make, but that means the sneeze itself doesn’t “come out” – it just kind of goes back into my head and then I feel like my brain is going to fall out and get an honest-to-god headache because of it. However, I generally make sure to cover basically the whole lower half of my face when I’m sneezing amongs others and that – confirmed by others – helps a lot with the general level of loudness.

    10. IndieGir*

      Generally, while I can muffle a sneeze somewhat, if I try to stifle it significantly (ie, like when I”m at a concert/theater or something) it causes a back up of something (probably air) into my eustachian tubes and gives me significant ear pain. So yeah, sometimes it’s hard to sneeze more quietly.

      But, if they are not at least covering their mouths (which should make it quieter) then that is just plain gross.

    11. Sneezer*

      No one is sneezing at you on purpose. I’m not going to stifle a sneeze and cause myself pain, so deal with it. And I could not remotely care if you “hate” me. You’re probably just as annoying to the sneezers with your over the top reaction to a normal bodily function.

        1. fposte*

          It’s an excessive response, but “hate” was a pretty OTT word to use in the question, too.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        This is an excessive response. LucyHoneychurch was asking a simple question and you just jumped on them for it.

        I’m a loud sneezer and I dislike other loud sneezers because I jump at loud, unexpected noises. If it was happening with regularity around me, I’d also be feeling very annoyed. They’re just asking whether it’s justified being annoyed, not condemning loud sneezers to hell for all eternity. Ease up a little.

      2. LucyHoneychurch*

        I think you misread my tone. Most of the responders seem to get that my word choice was tongue-in-cheek. I don’t literally hate my coworkers for this or any other behaviors.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Best I can do is muffle my sneezes a bit (into my arm/downward direction) – can’t change the volume they actually happen at!

      1. Miss Ames*

        I’ve always been a forceful sneezer since I was a child. But I don’t do it purposely in any way. I work in a small office so I keep a box of tissues at hand and if at all possible, I grab one to muffle the sound when I feel a sneeze coming on.

    13. blackcat*

      I am an extremely loud sneezer. It is very loud and very high pitched. Picture a normal sneeze mixed with stepping on a dog squeaky toy. And then making that super loud. It’s very unpleasant for everyone involved.
      I can, with great effort, control my sneezes. It causes intense pain, and twice I have dislocated a rib as a result of holding in/quieting a sneeze. So I only try to hold them in if absolutely necessary. Dislocated ribs aren’t that painful, but they’re hard to put back in and it’s generally a miserable experience.

    14. LucyHoneychurch*

      This has been very enlightening — thank you for your (mostly) kind and helpful responses. I shall adjust my attitude accordingly ;-p

    15. bassclefchick*

      Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I even startle myself! If I know it’s coming, I’ll try to warn my husband. I know my sneezing is very loud and sudden. I don’t take a big breath first. I’ll apologize to whoever is around me. Trust me, I would LOVE to have a tiny, delicate, sneeze.

    16. Becky*

      It is sometimes really difficult to control sneezes. I actually have pretty good control of them (abdominal surgery will force you to to figure it out fast!) but even then there are monster sneezes that come out of nowhere and are impossible to control.

    17. !*

      Yeah, I can usually catch my sneezes in a tissue so they are’t as loud…my hiccups on the other hand….yikes! Thankfully those don’t happen often! :)

    18. designbot*

      I can very rarely control mine, only if I feel it coming and actively try to stifle. But most of the time it takes me so completely by surprise that I don’t have the chance to.

    19. StressedButOkay*

      I 100% absolutely cannot control how loudly I sneeze! And trust me, with how bad my allergies are, I really wish I could!

      As a small woman, I have startled people with the loudness of my sneezing. I have also, in the midst of a sneezing attack, actually pulled muscles in my ribs and back before due to the sheer power of my sneezes (and with the number of times). As a Loud Sneezer™, I feel really bad for anyone near me but I truly can’t help it. (I do work from home when I have a cold or allergy attack but this doesn’t stop the random ninja sneeze.)

      I am completely envious of anyone who has gentle, small sneezes.

    20. CupcakeCounter*

      My mother (and her entire family) and my husband (and his mother/grandmother) are like this. No they cannot control it and and yes I also get the ever living crap scared out of me. My husband has left movie theaters when he felt a sneeze coming on. I still heard it from the hallway.

    21. Defective Jedi*

      A friend has developed a cue to signal her friends and colleagues when she is about to (loudly) sneeze. Now when we hear three quick finger snaps, we know what’s coming and nobody is startled. Works great for everyone!

    22. Sneeze McSneeze*

      I can’t control it. I’m sorry. I’m a multiple sneezer as well (consistently 3 or 4 in a row but sometimes more). It’s a running joke in every office I’ve ever been in. People either ignore me, wait until I’ve hit my “quota” before I get my “bless you” (if I don’t hit it, I’m told I don’t get my “bless you”), or will yell “C’mon! I made a bet on 5/6/7/8 sneezes today!”

      I do try to muffle it by sneezing into my elbow.

    23. Lilysparrow*

      It’s very much like burps or hiccups.

      You can be generally quieter most of the time, but there will always be an occasional one that sneaks up on you and is surprisingly loud. And that percentage is going to vary from person to person.

      If they’re really loud all the time, that could be moderated by most people.

      1. Lilysparrow*

        Then there are sneezers like my dad, who has incorporated a sort of shout at the end of his sneezes. So it’s sort of a gasp-choo-BGAAAAAAAARGH!

        He could totally leave off the shout without hurting himself, he just can’t be bothered.

        1. SciDiver*

          One of my parents is a scream-sneezer, but both the sneeze and the recovery are extra-loud, like ka-CHOO!!! *pause* AUUUGGGGH. I know they can stifle it in quiet/formal settings (meetings, quiet restaurant, church services) because those are the only places it’s a quiet/normal volume, but otherwise it makes me jump every time I visit.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          God knows why, my dad always yells “ACHUGGAH” when he sneezes. I don’t even KNOW.

        3. Joielle*

          OMG my dad does this too. And it’s always after a bunch of sneezes in a row, so… gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-gasp-choo-BGAAAAAAAARGH

          It’s SO IRRITATING. The man also doesn’t close his mouth when he chews. I love him but absolutely cannot spend more than two days with him at a time.

    24. Liz*

      I CAN but as someone with severe allergies and usually congested, sneezing helps clear things out. So if I’m forced to “muffle” it as someone else pointed out, it kind of backs up into things. whereas if i can just let it go, which can be loud, it helps my congestion etc. immensely.

    25. Dr. Anonymous*

      Can’t help it. I don’t even have a “choo”; it’s all “AAAAHH!” And there are always two of them. I’m sorry.

    26. Jaydee*

      I can, but only a little and not consistently. Some sneezes are so sudden I barely have a chance to get my arm up to block them. Others, I feel that tickle in my nose for a bit beforehand so I can do a better job of preparing. But as others have described, volume control is basically stifling the sneeze, so it’s absorbing some of the force of the sneeze into my head. And even then, it maybe dials the volume down a notch (from an 8 to a 7) not truly making it quiet

      That said, I am fascinated by people with consistently tiny or dainty or squeaky sounding sneezes. How do their sneeze parts work to produce those sounds?!? Humans are just so amazingly diverse and unique!

    27. Kiki*

      It depends on what you mean by loud sneezers.
      There are definitely some sneezes that are loud because of vocalization (like when you can hear a voice-ish noise saying “AAA CHOOOOO”). That aspect can be controlled to some degree.

      There are some loud sneezes (like mine) that are loud because of the way air is moving (think sneezes that sound more like coughs). Those can be mitigated, but usually at the expense of the sneezer. Like, it might make things hurt or plug up their ears, or cause them to sneeze more to fully get the irritant out.

      It’s one of those body things where nobody really *wants* a loud sneeze but some people’s bodies just work like that and it’s usually best to just accept sneezes the way they are.

    28. Akcipitrokulo*

      It depends. Sometimes I’m able to stifle completely. Sometimes there’s a sudden elephant in the room.

    29. EH*

      I sometimes sneeze hard enough that it makes my sternum hurt. (My doctor’s advice: don’t sneeze so hard. Thanks, doc.) I don’t vocalize much, but it can be really loud if my body is trying really hard to get rid of something. I can (and mostly do) stifle gentler sneezes, but the big ones are painful to stifle and leave my head feeling kind of weird, so I generally don’t.
      Thankfully(?) I don’t sneeze that often anymore. I do cough almost all the time, though – the horrible wildfires we had a couple years ago left me with a really reactive airway.

    30. Llama Face!*

      I really can’t help it without injury to myself. If I try to stifle it I end up pulling muscles. I know of a guy who gave himself a hernia trying to stifle a full body sneeze. My body- like that guy’s- just really goes all out with the sneezes. :( (And weirdly enough, always in sets of 3)

    31. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Totally out of my control. And it’s hereditary — my mother had a neighbor complain, and my daughter gets teased.

    32. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’m all over the map. Sometimes I’m loud, sometimes I’m quiet, and I don’t really have much say in which. I also have post-nasal drip, asthma, and allergies – so I sneeze and blow my nose year round and do a lot of coughing as well depending.

      Trust me, as annoying as it is for you, it’s far worse for me.

    33. Quinalla*

      I can reduce the volume – especially if I feel it coming – mostly by covering my nose and mouth sufficiently and making sure I’m not vocalizing, but my sneezes are always louder than average even when doing that. I do think some loud sneezers don’t try (because they don’t care or it hadn’t occurred to them) to modulate their volume.

      I’ll be honest the people the irritate me the most are the ones who hold in their sneezes. It makes me wince internally in sympathy :)

    34. Hamtaro*

      when i am alone i allow myself the scream-sneeze. but it IS something i can control and i do a quiet sneeze when i’m at work haha

    35. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve had nasal surgery, and since then sneezing just sort of happens at the volume at which it happens. I’m occasionally quite surprised by how loud a sneeze is when it comes. I don’t want it to be that loud. I just don’t know it’s going to be that loud until it’s already happened.

    36. geopanda*

      I have two of these at my job too. One of them sits all the way down the hall, so his screams are muffled. The other one sits maybe about 50 feet away, which sounds far, but she screams very loudly. Like a bloodcurdling scream. Also very sudden too. To the point where if I’m holding something or drinking coffee at the moment she sneezes, I accidentally drop the item or splash the coffee all over my face. It happened often enough that I got a cup with a straw instead of an open cup because I don’t want to scald my face.

    37. AndyTron*

      I have terrible allergies at times and the options are either loud, continuous sneezing, or I pinch my nose and have incredibly painful blowback in my sinuses.

    38. Loud Nose*

      I have a very loud sneeze, but it’s not like an Ah-choo, it’s just the sneeze, there isn’t a vocal part really, just my loud nose. (Blowing my nose is also incredibly loud, I wouldn’t blow my nose at all for years, even at home, because I was embarrassed by it!)

      I can lower the sneeze volume by holding the sneeze back, but it hurts and goes from startlingly loud to regular loud. I will try to do it, but if I’m sneezing often (like during allergy season or if I’m around a cat), it hurts too much to do every time and can pop my ears very badly. It also makes my eyes feel like they’re going to pop out! But I will try, especially if I’m in a meeting, or somewhere solemn (weddings…with the flowers…oh man…)

      I will not blow my nose anywhere outside my home/car but the bathroom while flushing for cover because it is so loud. I’ve tried to blow quietly, but it doesn’t really work.

    39. D'Euly*

      A family member used to (deliberately) make the noise “HatchiBOMBatar!” whenever he sneezed, so perhaps you could feel grateful that they’re not doing that?

    40. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      “Collapse 60 replies”, heh. I salute my fellow loud sneezers.

      I am a loud enough sneezer that we used to joke my mom could hear me in NYC when I lived in California. (I get my generous sinuses from my mom’s side of the family; she’s louder than me.) If I’m outside I can sometimes hear the echo of my sneeze ring off the building across the street. It’s… quite a thing.

      My partner is very easily startled. When I can, I gasp out “Sneeze—” so they have time to cover their ears before I let loose. I also carry a handkerchief and try to sneeze into it, which muffles the sound. But I can’t always manage it; sometimes sneezes sneak up on me, especially if there are airborne allergens around. Stifling sneezes is incredibly painful and I won’t do it unless I absolutely have to, for “the baby is finally asleep and if you wake them I will END YOU” levels of have to.

      You can definitely ask your colleagues (who are certainly aware that their sneezes are loud) to try to mitigate the noise or give you some kind of warning, but you may just have to cope. Foam earplugs or noise-canceling headphones might help if your job permits.

  20. Adventures of Corporate cat*

    Funny things said and done at work this week:

    “Are you teh work wife or the work husband?” – “I’m the work cat.”

    “My computer froze so my brain froze too.”

    “I gotta go, ASPCA is going to come get me.”

    I did an interview and the candidate’s child burst through the door, a la the BBC reporter incident (but this child was older and left immediately).

    We totally laughed together and it didn’t negatively impact our opinion of her and we called her in for the next step.

    1. Marshbilly, not Hillbilly*

      I have a coworker who sometimes wears a shirt that says “I can’t. I’m an inside cat.” It makes me laugh every time.

  21. WM*

    What would you choose?

    High salary and high cost living or low salary and low cost of living?

    I know there are high salary and low cost of living, but in my situation of job interviewing, it is the situation above. Love to hear your thoughts!

    1. INeedANap*

      I would choose low salary, low cost of living, because the salary can always go up while the COL will usually stay low. Whereas with a high COL, if you’re laid off, or the job turns out to be awful and you have to leave it, or you become disabled/can’t work – then your life is pegged to needing that high salary just to have the basics of life.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Whereas with a high COL, if you’re laid off, or the job turns out to be awful and you have to leave it, or you become disabled/can’t work – then your life is pegged to needing that high salary just to have the basics of life.

        Good point. Though if you had a high salary position, hopefully you’d be able to put enough away in savings so that if you did become long-term unemployed for whatever reason, you’d have enough money to relocate to a lower cost of living area so you wouldn’t have to struggle too much. Additionally, some employers offer supplemental insurances you can purchase like accident or critical illness insurance that will cover your rent payments up to a certain amount/time period should you be unable to work for a given period of time due to an injury/illness. I have this insurance myself, and it’s pretty inexpensive.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      For me, this decision hinges on what my expenses look like. For example, I have a ton of student loan debt, so a low paying job will simply not work for me unless I’m okay either being homeless or moving back in with my mother, neither of which is an option. If I didn’t have the student loan debt I have, I could accept a low salary in a low cost of living area and be okay because my housing expense isn’t nearly as high as my student loan debt.

      So basically – look at your expenses. What do you spend in rent/mortgage payments, debts (student/credit/medical), and what amount of disposable income do you need to live comfortably each month? That should help you figure out what works best for your particular situation.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Yes. Delete the cost of living from the salary and you have your disposable income. This is what you should compare for the two jobs.

    3. Blarg*

      Generally I like the things that make high COL places that way — public transit, culture, big city life. If it were high COL on like a remote fancy tropical island, nope. But for me living in a city makes me happier and my life easier by my standards (being near museums, not needing a car) that it trumps low COL without those perks.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, I’m fundamentally a high COL person — I want to live in an east coast city, not have a car, etc.

      2. *shrug**

        + 1

        I grew up in a major city and cannot see myself living anywhere except near/right outside of a major city.

      3. Fortitude Jones*

        Yup, that’s why I live in the city as well. I’m within walking distance of cool restaurants, music venues, museums, art galleries, theaters, etc. I couldn’t live in the ‘burbs no matter how moderately priced it is.

      4. Joielle*

        Same. I have a couple of friends that moved to South Dakota after law school and bought gigantic houses for like $85,000 and are always saying we should move there because it’s so much cheaper than the city where we live. We paid more than twice that for a tiny little bungalow and absolute postage stamp of a yard but I wouldn’t trade it for all the rural McMansions in the world, no matter how cheap they are.

      5. Bostonian*

        Ditto. I also like the idea of being able to one day sell my ridiculously expensive condo and buy a mansion in a low COL area for half the price.

    4. Miss Fisher*

      I think it depends on where you want to live. I prefer a slower pace instead of a huge city. Where I live now is middle of the road on both, but I couldn’t see myself living in a place like LA for any amount of money.

    5. Overeducated*

      I couldn’t make this choice without all the other factors! There tend to be a lot of lifestyle differences between high and low cost of living areas, and if a partner who works is involved then that can make a difference too (sometimes more jobs in HCOL areas, but easier to live on one income in LCOL).

    6. Art3mis*

      I’ve been stuck on lower/low for a long time and I’m kind of sick and tired of it. But then again before that I was stuck in higher/low for a long time, so I don’t know what’s better. For me I preferred the latter just because my family/friends were there and other things I like to do were more of an option there.

    7. Honoria Glossop*

      I think it depends on how flexible your plans are for the future and how far along in your career you are. I would personally go for the high salary/high cost option because that gives me better leverage to keep a higher salary for the next job, which might be in a place where the cost of living is lower. If you don’t have the flexibility to change locations every time you change jobs (spouses job, family commitments), then YMMV.

    8. designbot*

      I’ve had this choice right out of grad school, and chose high salary/high cost of living. My logic was that even though housing costs adjust by location, my student loans don’t. So if in each place say everything else scales appropriately and I have 10% of my income to pay towards my student loans, my available contribution will be higher in the higher COL area and I’ll get them paid off more quickly.

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Oh yeah — I paid half my income in rent for a long time in two different places, and it was a huge difference when my rent was $500 vs when it was $1000!

    9. Mel*

      All else being equal, high/high. Means you save at a high rate, and can move to a low COL in retirement with plenty of money in the bank (but you probably can’t pull off the reverse). Means you won’t be shocked when you travel for vacation. Means you can build up a safety net faster and move if you lose your job.

    10. Earthwalker*

      Depends on time of life, willingness to move, and whether you own your place. We started out in a high cost of living place with a tiny suburban home, and later took a company transfer to a lower cost city. Moving house costs money, even when the move is company-paid, because any time you sell/buy a house you pay real estate transaction costs. That said, the sale of our tiny expensive place bought a house in the country twice as big. Then we downsized at retirement and got the savings back out in cash. It was like investing in real estate without the pain and risks of being a landlord. We’re reasonably well off retired in a rural city. We like that but some people might consider living outside the big city a downside.

      Another note on high cost places: when we had moved, several of my coworkers and I compared the difference. We concluded that the extra salary paid in the high cost city didn’t go as far as the lower salary that the same company paid us in our low cost city. YMMV, of course.

    11. Anonymous Educator*

      I generally choose high salary high cost of living, because I tend to like living in cities that have a high cost of living (some of it is the city itself’s appeal, and some of it is being a particular non-white minority who doesn’t want to deal with certain things if I’m “the only” somewhere).

    12. lemon*

      I think you’ve got to work the budgets to see if that high salary in the high cost of living area is actually all that high.

      You would have to make at least $129k to afford an apartment and basic expenses in San Francisco (this is assuming an average rent of $3600/month and that rent is 1/3 of gross income).

      Compare that to Columbus, OH, where you would only have to make about $32k to afford an apartment and basic expenses (assuming an average rent of $900/month and that rent is 1/3 of gross income).

      1. geopanda*

        I live in Metro Detroit where my cost of living is probably similar to Columbus, Ohio. My monthly expenses are around $1k-1100 per month, rent for a 1br apt is $650 and the rest are other expenses. I do need a car though. I have lived in a city where I did not need a car and I don’t like driving as a result of that. But I have a short commute, so it’s not a big issue. A salary of $32k for a single person here would be enough to support basic expenses.

    13. new kid*

      I just moved from lower salary/ low col (midwest) to a much higher salary/higher col (east coast) and it was 100% the right move for me – closer to friends, more queer friendly, better social and career opportunities, etc. But I know a ton of people I would absolutely recommend the opposite to – it really depends on your lifestyle and the types of things and experiences you value. I used to own a house and now I have a tiny one bedroom for DOUBLE my old mortgage!! Honestly, if I wasn’t gay I don’t know if I would have left the midwest. Your money can go a long way in a city like Kansas City (where I lived last).

      1. geopanda*

        It really depends on where in the Midwest. I live in Metro Detroit. I’m also gay and I find it’s not much of an issue here especially in Ferndale/Royal Oak and there are lots of explicitly LGBT friendly businesses or events. I have lived in NYC too and in Toronto, Canada and I haven’t noticed a big difference in LGBT acceptance. But Kansas City would be a whole different ball game. I don’t think I would want to live in most of the Midwest.

        1. matcha123*

          Not gay, but a visible minority and when people online say ‘midwest’ I never know where they are talking about. I only really consider the Great Lakes states as the midwest, and maybe as far as Iowa, but I definitely do not put Kansas as the midwest. Totally different culture.
          Just like upper New York or much of California are going to be different from NYC or LA, SF…

    14. Jaydee*

      I think it depends on 1) will the salary be enough to cover *your* expenses plus savings? and 2) what are your future plans?

      Like Fortitude Jones said, some costs are going to exist no matter where you go or how much you’re paid. Student loan debt for example. If you wouldn’t make enough to cover those expenses, it doesn’t really matter what the salary is.
      Also, if you make $40,000 and have $30,000 of expenses you’re actually better off than someone who makes $100,000 and has $90,000 of expenses. The $10,000 you saved will stretch farther than the $10,000 they saved.

      The other thing is the future. I know people who lived and worked in a high COL area, bought a house or apartment, did their thing, weren’t rich by the standard of living there but then later moved to a lower COL area and the amount of equity they had in their home was plenty to buy a nice house outright in their new city. So even though they then earned less at new jobs, they also didn’t have to worry about a mortgage payment. So looking at where you want to end up makes a difference too.

    15. Another worker bee*

      All things being equal: high/high. (this excludes, in my mind, a few coastal cities notorious for INSANELY high COL, because they are at like 3x the COL of my high COL city while offering like…20% more in pay). Like other commenters have said, your disposable income after rent, etc. will still be scaled, so you will be able to save more, etc. Also in general, those high COL places are that way because there is more opportunity. Hopefully you’ll stay at your job for awhile, but you’ll likely have better options for the next job in the bigger city. (YMMV based on industry, of course)

    16. Lilysparrow*

      What’s the relative lifestyle effect? It’s unlikely to be dead even.

      There are high/high situations where housing costs are disproportionate to other col, and result in a cramped/under-maintained space, long commute, undesirable school district, etc. While the “low” salary might give you a much higher quality of life in the low col area.

      OTOH, sometimes the added expenses of keeping a car, homeownership vs rental, etc, mean a low col area isn’t very low-cost for you.

      Length of commitment is also important, as others pointed out. If you’re early in your career and will likely move several times, especially if you have no kids or other caregiving responsibilities, living small in a big city can allow you to make hay while the sun shines and be in a much better financial position later.

      If you’re going to wind up with the same margin of savings either way, choose based on other factors, like prestige, interesting projects, stress level, or proximity to your personal interests.

    17. wittyrepartee*

      Choose the area you like living in best. I make a medium salary in a high cost of living area, and it’s totally worth it. It fills me with joy every day. I love my city.

    18. NoLongerYoung*

      I am high salary (now) and very high COL. But… my social security for retirement will be pegged off my income for the last “X” quarters of my work career. That makes it worth it to me (I will be retiring to a low COL area).

      One other reason? I work a very interesting – demanding – but fascinating job. My brain is oh, so happy with the challenging tasks and information I get to use strategical daily. I would be hard pressed to find this job outside of a high COL area, at this stage of my career. (I have looked – my skill set and expertise has gotten so specialized and higher level that it would be a 2/3 drop in salary to even take a similar titled job – if one existed – in a related industry).

      Ramifications… Out of my take-home (20% goes into savings before that, though)… 60% is going for my rent and utility bills (no cable, frugal). No car payment. High COL also means high car insurance, gas costs and more. And I’m not in luxury digs, trust me. I’ve looked around and I’d have to commute an additional hour to get a better neighborhood for the same money. So I will hang tight for the next 7.5 years (if I can).

      But my retirement numbers look better than if I went to my home state, and divided my salary by 3. Then I’d have to work until I’m 80.

      Lesson – save early, save continuously, even if $5 a week, for retirement. It matters. I didn’t (circumstances beyond my control at the time). So… stuck here for a while yet, but making the best of it.

    19. Quinalla*

      For me it would come down to which place I wanted to live and doing an actual comparison of the salary vs. expenses.

      I will say my sticker shock at grocery store prices when moving from super-low-cost-of-living (rural Midwest) to still low but more moderate cost of living area (suburb of “big city” Midwest) was a tough adjustment. I still don’t like it, though I’m used to it now.

    20. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      I was on high salary and high costs and I am now laid off and seriously ****’d (and not in a good way), so another vote for ”low cost of living”, regardless of salary.

  22. Leslie Knope*

    I’ve been burning to ask this for a while!

    But who, on television, is the worst boss of all time?

    Michael Scott is too obvious (I mean, obviously he’d be up there) – but I’d love to know other bosses, especially surprising ones, from television who are terrible. Wonderfully specific examples welcome.

    As a follow-up Q – what are some of the most terrible moments of management/workplace behaviour on television?

    1. Rainy*

      Honestly? Captain James T Kirk is probably one of the worst bosses of all time. He can’t go half an hour without getting one of his reports killed. He facilitates siloing in his subordinates, has super close friendships with his most direct reports, constantly hits on people at conferences leaving his employees to shrug and explain it with “boys will be boys”, and he refuses to follow official regulatory guidance in culturally sensitive situations.

    2. Madam Secretary*

      Claire Underwood did some pretty ratchet stuff. She was cut throat.

      It probably wouldn’t be fun working for Tony Sopano either.

    3. Cruciatus*

      It was only one episode, but Mr. Faber on Roseanne was pretty awful. So probably not “worst of all time” but still bad. He upped the quota the factory workers had to hit and they all knew they couldn’t do it. He told them they’d hit it or be out. The workers nominated Roseanne to talk with him and he said he’d lower it…if she gave him respect and no lip. It works for a little while, though she already feels like she sold her soul for a lower quota. But then he tells everyone he’s raising it again and Roseanne and a bunch of her factory friends all walk out. “Guess we’re not gonna make our quota today, honey bunch.”

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        Oh yes, and he used the most offensive analogy about making cows give milk while talking to her.

    4. merp*

      On The Bold Type, the younger employees just bring *so much* of their personal drama to work, going as far as to have long drawn-out conversations about personal health/relationship/etc problems with their bosses, and it always makes me think of this website and the need for boundaries, haha.

      I like the boss herself for the most part, although she should be shutting down more of those conversations, she’s pretty fantastic. I just can’t get over the behavior of the women who work for her!

    5. MonteCristo85*

      Rachel from Friends was pretty awful. Fired someone on their first day because she had a crush on another candidate, dated her assistant, blamed him for her own screw-ups, etc.

      1. Leslie Knope*

        YES! Watching her actions back as someone who is now not 11 years old, and instead has worked in the workplace with normal working expectations for a few years – she’s horrendous!

    6. Lizzy May*

      Don Draper was a horrible boss to his team and his secretaries. He threw money in Peggy’s face, slept with Allison and Megan, paid absolutely no attention to his creative team at all, got into an office war with every superior he had and ruined client meetings because of his emotional distress. Also, he’d just disappear sometimes. I don’t think there is a great boss on Mad Men, but Don was probably the worst.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Nah, Roger was worse – Don was just following Roger’s horrible lead. When your boss invites you to a wedding where they sing in blackface, yeah, you suck as a manager.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Bert Cooper was the OG boss who didn’t do anything. That disfunction went straight to the top. I guess the message was that the secretaries and creative held the operation together but I sometimes wonder how that company even existed in the first place.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Lol I love how Bert just comes into the office, takes his shoes off, plops down in his chair, and reads the paper all day. That’s it – he’s #goals.

    7. Lizzy May*

      My workplace has just sent out our annual employee survey and I have issues I’d like to raise, but despite the claims of anonymity, I do think it would be fairly easy for management to narrow down who leaves what comments. We don’t have skip level meetings and management doesn’t do 360 reviews for themselves so there isn’t really a way to provide feedback up. Is there a way to raise concerns about management without worrying that it will be held against me? (And yes, I’m looking for a new job because I know I shouldn’t feel this way in a job but in the meantime…)

      1. IL JimP*

        If you’re leaving already you might want to do it damn the consequences but maybe you can disguise your writing style. Usually when people are found out it’s because they wrote the comments the way they normally write or speak.

        1. SarahKay*

          You could explain what you want to say to a non-work friend and ask them to write it out in their own words. Then copy-paste their response, complete with any typos or spelling mistakes. That’d remove any common phrasing or errors (or lack of errors) that you use / make regularly.

    8. Jerk Store*

      Salena Meyer, Ben Cafferty and Congressman Furlong on Veep are the worst bosses I think of.

      Terrible management moment: I always think it was unfair that Monica got fired for accepting a gift from a vendor. The scene reads like she didn’t know it was a policy.

    9. Not really a waitress*

      I had to quit watching Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell because “the Gentleman” triggered me so badly. He reminded me of my then boss.

      1. Grace*

        The Gentleman is *such* a dick. I haven’t seen the show yet but I’ve heard that his portrayal is a bit different in that than it is in the book, in terms of how his manipulation works and the particular flavour of dickishness, so you might be able to stomach that more. (It’s worth it.)

        Speaking of which, Norrell is a *terrible* boss. Childermass deserves better, dammit. (Not getting anymore detailed than that, because spoilers for anyone that hasn’t got the end of the book/show, but *wow* is that the worst move ever from an employer.)

        1. wittyrepartee*

          YES! Norrell is an absolutely awful boss to both Childermass and Jonathan Strange. He stifles the growth of his “industry” for reasons of vanity. He doesn’t recognize the talents of Childermass due to classism, and recognizes but stifles the talents of Jonathan Strange. He consistently interferes with the home-life of his employees if they have one, and won’t train or recognize talent in women because of his complete disinterest in them. He hides important information from his employees because he doesn’t like the implications of that information, and creates bottlenecks for no reason but to keep things from getting out of his micromanaging control. However, despite being a micromanager, he fails to notice the gross incompetence or malevolence of some of his other associates (Drawlight and Lascelles).

          1. wittyrepartee*

            That whole part where he’s like

            Norrell: “Childermass! You betrayed me by learning magic! How did you learn magic!?”
            Childermass: “Umm, you taught this to me in case I needed to figure out if someone else was doing practical magic on my journeys”
            Norrell: “Oh yeah. BUT WHY WERE YOU USING IT.”
            Childermass: “Because it was pretty obvious that someone was using magic!”
            Norrell: “Yeah. But still. Betrayal!”

            1. Grace*

              Also, the culmination of that entire employee-employer relationship.

              “Oh no, one of my employees, who has only worked for me for a couple of years and has a track record of terrible advice and blatant lies, has pinned the other, with nearly three decades of loyal service, up against the wall to slice his face open with malignant glee. Better choose the former and tell the latter that he’s fired!”

              Like. Norrell. I understand you’re pretty stressed right now. Shit is going down. But that is utterly inexcusable in every single way. As Childermass said, you made the wrong choice, as usual.

              (Big props to Clarke’s writing that you can see something like that, that’s so drastically different to the interpersonal dynamics of the majority of the book, and understand exactly how Lascelles’ gaslighting and manipulation/Norrell’s fear and mistrust/Childermass’ stubbornness led to such a dramatic situation.)

    10. Stephanie*

      -Walter White
      -All the Mad Men bosses
      -Saul Goodman
      -Elizabeth Jennings toward the end of the Americans (she was hardcore)

      1. Lamplighter*

        Not so much Elizabeth Jennings – she was totally mission driven. The bad boss there was Claudia.

    11. Whyyy*

      Maybe not as popular but Charles Brooks from Younger is one of the worst bosses I’ve ever seen on TV.

    12. Krickets*

      Here’s who all I can think of!

      -Cyrus from Scandal
      -Sometimes Louis Litt from Suits
      -Linda from MCC and Fig on OITNB
      -Lisa Vanderpump on RHOBH; no boundaries, biased, and bad judgment calls

      And the entire show Suits is about bad moments of management haha. But it’s a GREAT show.

    13. seeveeargh*

      Will Gardner and basically all of the managing partners at Lockhardt-Gardner from the Good Wife. That law firm has got to be one of the worst places to work ever. Will belittles low-level employees and has a sexual relationship with an employee who he also favours and promotes (also has sex in his office with other non-employees which is also… questionable, especially given the glass walls).

      I recently rewatched the entire series, which I love, but oh my goodness, Lockhardt-Gardner has got to be one of the most toxic, dysfunctional workplaces ever televised. Although from what I’ve read on this website, this seems to be pretty common in law.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Awww, I loved Will’s unethical ass, lol. I stopped watching the show after they killed him off. But yes, both he and Diane were bad bosses, him moreso than her though for all the reasons you listed (Cary should have been given the one associate spot instead of Alicia if Will had been hiring on merit).

        1. seeveeargh*

          Oh, to be clear, I adore Will and his boundary-busting butt. The show definitely suffered from his absence.

          It wasn’t until this second time around watching the series (post- becoming a regular AAM reader) that I realized what a banana crackers boss he is, though!

    14. juliebulie*

      – Santa Claus (in Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer) – he was a real dick to Rudolph before finding out how his “nonconformity” could be useful

      – Louis DePalma (Taxi)

      1. Jellyfish*

        That’s a good one I wouldn’t have thought of! Santa is a jerk to the elves through the whole thing too.

    15. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Josh on the West Wing is not a fantastic boss. He keeps Donna from progressing to a better career path that she’s totally capable of achieving, all because he doesn’t want to have to break in a new assistant.

      1. Spool of Lies*

        Oh, good one! Pretty much anyone in a position of power on an Aaron Sorkin show = bad boss.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Major Frank Burns, M*A*S*H 4077.
      People were always so glad when the colonel got back…

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Oh and specifics… he belittled subordinates, he carried on a torrid affair against the rules and wouldn’t accept it when she broke it off, he created rules & make-work in the mistaken idea that it was ‘military discipline’, and he taunted coworkers in ways that he couldn’t handle when he stepped in the same mistske.
        (“I can go in, I can go out.” When first Hawkeye then Frank were confined to quarters.)

    17. Syfygeek*

      I’ve read all the replies, and can’t believe no one suggested Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder. Treats her students/interns (whatever they are) like crap, expects them to show up whenever she says, talks about them to others, yells, threatens, and expects them to clean up her messes. Treats her regular employees even worse.

  23. Fortitude Jones*

    I’ve been in my new job three months now, and, so far, it’s been fantastic. I work from home full-time and have the flexibility to work the hours I want, which has been a godsend – I have various medical issues that sometimes cause bathroom-related problems, so being able to be in my own home to handle these things has taken the stress and embarrassment out of the situation.

    Then last week, my grandboss told me I’m receiving a bonus on next week’s paycheck at 101%, which he said is not a real percentage, but my bonus base was prorated by 50% since I started with the company midway through their last quarter – the extra one percent was his way of trying to get me as much of the bonus I lost out on due to the proration as possible. This was very thoughtful of him and timely – I really needed that extra money in my paycheck.

    Finally, grandboss let me know yesterday that the sales guy I was complaining about this week on the letter about how to provide feedback was taken to task by one of our high level executives for not following the directives I gave him regarding our new writing standards for proposals (grandboss, along with several other people, was on the call where this grilling took place so that’s how he knows) – grandboss told me because he wanted me to know that my training initiatives for proposal writing are being taken seriously by the C-suite and when sales people don’t follow the new protocols, C-suite will have my back.

    I really appreciated knowing this since the only way you can affect real, positive change in a company our size is if it’s supported by those at the very top. Plus, this particular sales person is arrogant and thought he knew better than I did about what the C-suite wanted to see in his proposal, so, hopefully, being knocked down a peg or two will humble him going forward and he’ll be more willing to put in the time and effort required to draft a well-written and persuasive document.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Congratulations! That sounds pretty awesome.

      I also just started WFH full-time, and while I don’t have significant medical issues, being able to use my own bathroom at any time and for any purpose is one of the underrated perks. :)

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yes, it is, lol. Also being able to cook actual meals if I want instead of relying on take out every day, being home to accept deliveries, and being able to throw a load or two of laundry in the machine while working keeps my weekends free and clear to do fun stuff instead of meal planning/prepping for the week and cleaning. I spend maybe two hours tops on the weekends now doing this stuff – I’m so much more relaxed when Monday rolls around.

        1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          The perk of being able to do laundry during the day cannot be overstated. I have a family of four humans (one of whom is a messy toddler) and three cats (two of whom like to pee and/or throw up on things) and on weeks when I can’t do laundry at home during the day as well as in the evenings and overnight*, I have to pay a boatload for a wash-and-fold service that won’t saturate clothes with perfumes I’m allergic to. Plus getting up periodically to check whether things are dry, switch the load around, etc. makes a nice quick break and keeps me from falling asleep over my laptop.

          * I have a combo washer/dryer with a timer function. Put dirty things in at bedtime, set the cycle and timer, wake up to clean dry things. Bliss.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            I have a combo machine too! It truly is a godsend, though it was a little tough to get used to after using commercial machines for the last seven years (I live in an apartment).

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        You’re welcome! I hope I can continue to post positive work updates each week for the remainder of my time at this company (however long that may be, and I hope it’s long)!

  24. Another Manic Monday*

    I started to apply for a new government job last month. I have so far had four interviews with different agencies and three of them are currently checking my references.

    I’m currently working at a GS-8 level employee despite technically being overqualified for the position. I accepted my current job a few months after leaving the military and while struggling with clinical depression. I was grateful toward my agency because they took a chance on me when nobody else would, so I ended up having a strong sense of loyalty towards the people in my office.

    I’m a high performer at the office and often called on to help my coworkers out with their backlog. While I like to help people out whenever I can, it has become too much as the workload is crushing and we are severely understaffed. It would nice to be able to take a short break once in a while without having to do other people’s work.

    Last year, the agency started a restructuring that was supposed to provided better promotion path for the staff. Unfortunately their budget crashed which resulted in a hiring freeze and nobody have been promoted for over a year now. They have now restarted the restructuring process and once again making promises about future promotions to the staff.

    I had been patient during the whole ordeal. I accepted the fact that I would have to wait for a promotion due to the budget crisis and also I loved my job and my coworkers. My thankfulness of even having a job and strong sense of loyalty made me put up with a lot more than I probably should have.

    About two months ago, I discovered how my coworkers was being paid for the same work as I do. I realized that I was paid several thousands less despite outperforming them in every category. I finally woke up to reality about my situation and came to the conclusion that I was (1) overqualified and underpaid, and (2) overworked and underappreciated.

    I updated my resume and started for higher paying positions elsewhere. I did find out that my experience and skill set made me a very attractive candidate for almost every position that I have applied for. I know realize that I have been selling myself short for many years and I’m actually really good at work I do.

    Imposter syndrome, no more.

    1. Catherine de Medici*

      Good for you! I’m also a fed (GS-12). The career ladder at my agency basically stops at 12, so I feel your pain. I’ve been applying for 13’s but there are so few open at my own agency, where I would like to stay. I had an offer last week but it was with an office that had clamped down allowing telework and flex-time despite our agency being very pro-flexibility. It was so hard to turn it down, knowing it might be a while before I get another offer but I value the incredible flexibility my current boss gives too much to give it up at this point. My current boss/office is so perfect, especially compared to some of the horror stories here, that it isn’t worth the slight pay raise to leave for a job that isn’t just right.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I would never leave a pretty good job for another job that didn’t at least match what I already had. Match or exceed is my threshold for jumping ship.

      2. Another Manic Monday*

        Thanks. I kind of had an awakening two months ago and realized that my agency was holding me back in my career progression. I also realized that my skill set and work experience exceeded the ones of our five supervisors (except for our GS-14 office manager). I might be one of the newest faces in the office, but I worked for almost 20 years in the exact same field while I was in the military. I basically have the specialized experienced equivalent to a GS-12 supervisory position. I really should be in a GS-13 position now instead of just a GS-8, but I had too much self-doubt when I was looking for job after leaving the military.

        I would be willing to stay in my current office, but they would have to offer me something that beat whatever offer I will get from the agencies that I have recently interviewed for (GS-11/12/13). Simply matching the grade offer will not be good enough. They will have to offer a grade higher.

  25. Etiquette about Returning to Office?*

    My work does not technically offer any work from home, but I do a fair amount of offsite meetings. What is everybody’s personal rule about returning to the office (or heading into the office) if the offsite meeting is less than a full workday? If a meeting starts before 10:30 AM – maybe 11 depending on the location – I rarely commute the 30 minutes into the office just to turn around and leave again. Likewise, if the meeting ends at 3PM or later, I rarely head back into the office. I try to spend some time on email during the evening instead. I feel like this is a job perk – not every day is going to be the full 8 hours, but other days may be longer.

    But TBH sometimes I feel a little weird about it, like I’m slacking off. It doesn’t help that my home and the office are at extreme opposite ends of the city, with the meetings being scattered across town, meaning there’s not necessarily one set rule.

    1. Etiquette about Returning to Office?*

      For example, occasionally my extremely conscientious employee joins me. If a meeting ends at 3, he may go back to the office, arrive at 3:30, work for an hour and a half, then commute 45 minutes home. To me, the amount of transportation time isn’t worth that 1.5 hours of in-office work. I’d rather go home and spend an hour or two on email that evening.

      1. Nikara*

        Are you exempt? As someone who isn’t, I’d definitely come back to the office for that 1.5 hours of work. But that could look very different if you are exempt.

      2. Etiquette about Returning to Office?*

        Good point all, yes I should have said I am exempt so my understanding is this is fine to do *legally,* I’m just curious how reasonable people make the decision practically (and it sounds like this may vary by office culture).

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      I set my benchmarks more or less the same as yours, but it does depend on location and length of commute. My current company is much more butts-in-seats than my previous one, so it’s been hard for me to judge what’s acceptable, but generally I feel like if I’m going to be in the office for less than an hour, it’s definitely not worth it for me to go in.

      1. Etiquette about Returning to Office?*

        Less than an hour is probably a good rule. I should perhaps adopt that. It’s just so often that meetings end at 3 around here, meaning I would be heading into the office a lot more frequently than I currently do!

        1. Jaydee*

          Would you be able to go in to work a little early those days to kind of make up the difference on the front end? Like if you usually work 9-5, go in at 8 so that your day would “officially” end at 4.

        2. TechWorker*

          If this were me I’d probably go home but work the same length day, so that you’re just shifting when you commute? Can’t really see anyone would complain about that. (It’s pretty common at my office to do this for other reasons, eg leave at 4.30 cos you have to be at a 5o clock appointment, then wfh a bit in the evening to make it up)

    3. Lisa B*

      Assuming you are exempt for this answer- You could consider if the amount of time you’d be in the office is less than the time it would take you to get there, stay put and work off e-mail. My general rule is that if I’d be in the office for less than an hour before or after the meeting, I don’t go in. But most of my work and meetings are in the same part of town. But ask a colleague how they do it because some offices are funny about this. You could also run it by your boss in a conversation to hear their reaction: “The meeting starts at 10:30 so I’ll work remote in the morning and just meet you there.” If nobody has said anything or given you stink-eye vibes so far it’s probably fine. Again, assuming you’re exempt and pull enough productivity that nobody is thinking “Bout time, slacker.”

    4. Anonygrouse*

      I have a very similar situation (and am salaried exempt) in my current role and had to work a bit to get over my flexible schedule guilt! In addition to acknowledging that I put in time outside of normal hours just as regularly, I framed this flexibility as a perk compensating for the stress of the additional commuting time that off-sites require. I get good reviews and the flexibility is part of what keeps me happy in my role, so my employer also benefits.

      1. Etiquette about Returning to Office?*

        Yeah my current practice is to do what I want (which is NOT making myself miserable commuting all over town just for butts-in-seats cred) and assume my boss will let me know if it’s not acceptable. Technically I am flouting our no-work-from-home rule by doing this so who knows, I may get called out one day for it, but I think I can live with that risk – for the same reasons you state. Sometimes the meeting is super early or super inconvenient to get to, or goes into the evening, and I take on all the stress of getting to those on time without expecting extra compensation … so it all comes out in the wash, hopefully?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Something a marketing manager I respect has been known to do is go to a public access WiFi spot near the customer site and log on to the VPN from there, for an hour or two of work before the mtg. That way they’re guaranteed to have no travel issues delay the meeting…and they can extend their day without extra driving.
          Of course it doesn’t address the buttstock in seat issue, but you can get an online presence & attend Skype meetings.

    5. Gumby*

      Traffic gets horrible here starting at 3 so unless work is in the same direction as home, I’d just go straight home if any off-site ended around that time. If work was between my starting point and home, then I would go back to the office. Context: I am exempt and could WFH or flex time or whatever as long as my work gets done (as in I regularly work 10:30 – 7:30 as a traffic-minimization strategy).

    6. GooseyLucy*

      Has it crossed your mind that maybe your employee feels that they have to go back to the office? If they also have work they could do from home (and presuming you have the authority to do so), they would probably be delighted if you suggested that it might be a more efficient use of their time to go home instead.

      For you, I would agree that looking at how other colleagues deal with this or casually mentioning it to your boss as suggested and gauging their reaction is a the way to go.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        This is a great point! Model reasonable behaiour for them so they don’t feel awkward!

    7. Stephanie*

      I’m exempt and in a department that can travel frequently. If you’re slated to get back after 2 pm, most people just go home and monitor email.

    8. Akcipitrokulo*

      I wouldn’t expect to see anyone who had an offsite meeting starting/ending 2 hours within start/end time to go from or come back to office unless it affected their wages.

      It’s perfectly reasonable to head home and do work there if practical.

    9. cheese please*

      To feel less like “slacking” it may be worth to find a local coffee shop / library where you can email etc before or after meetings so it’s not “going home early”

    10. Zephy*

      As long as you’re reachable by email/phone/text, I think you’re fine; it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to drive all over freaking Creation just to make an appearance at the office.

    11. Quinalla*

      I’m exempt too. It depends where the meeting is, if I have to basically drive past the office to go home, I’ll go back to the office if I’ll get back by 4pm or go to the office if I’ll be leaving for a meeting 9am or after. If the meeting is close or more on the way to home, yeah 2:30-3 or 10-10:30 is usually where I just work from home after/before. However, we are 100% allowed to work from home when it makes sense like this, so its not a big deal at all for me. And yes, I do model it as I’m one of the two managers in our regional office and it is important for others to see me doing it so they know it is really ok.

      You may want to clarify it with your boss if you are worried, but I doubt they are worried about it unless you aren’t getting work done or are unreachable.

    12. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      My office is super close to where I live, so it’s not a long commute for me to jump in and get some work done before an off-site or an appointment. I will almost always do it if I can get an hour or more of work done. But my boss also wouldn’t bat an eye if I didn’t.

    13. Librarian of SHIELD*

      My general rule is that if I don’t have at least an hour to get work done by the time I get back to the office, it’s not worth it.

  26. Sick But Not That Sick*

    I have worked for my c-suite boss for over a decade, and I have a chronic health condition. It’s invisible and generally manageable, so it’s rare for me to take more than one sick day per year. I have always been able to schedule medical appointments outside my working hours and I am outside the US so the cost to the company of medical cover isn’t an issue. Nobody in my company knows that I have this condition.

    I’m going into a flare-up so I have asked to use our current slow season (and my banked time in lieu) to work light and from home. This is comfortably within company norms as workflow volume comes in peaks and troughs, and my boss has so far been happy to authorise it. I report directly to him.

    I’m under no contractual nor statutory legal obligation to disclose the nature of my condition nor even its existence. However, I’m feeling increasingly weird about concealing it, given that it could affect my ability to work. He’s a good boss and it’s a good company with supportive policies (I was on full pay throughout maternity leave, for example) so I should have no fear of discrimination or retaliation or job insecurity as a result. I just don’t want to.

    What do you think, commentariat? Is it morally ok to keep the information to myself until and unless I might actually need special accommodations at work?

    1. Purt's Peas*

      It is morally ok. People have all sorts of unconscious biases that can rear up anytime, and you just don’t want to trigger one unless you really have to. I believe you that your boss is wonderful, but I also believe that plenty of wonderful people have revealed some non-wonderful opinions when it becomes relevant.

      1. Sick But Not That Sick*

        plenty of wonderful people have revealed some non-wonderful opinions when it becomes relevant

        That is very useful perspective, thank you.

        1. valentine*

          I should have no fear of discrimination or retaliation or job insecurity as a result.
          You can’t know until it’s too late, especially if your boss or anyone higher up turns out to be someone who panics or you have a colleague who catastrophizes in your boss’ ear. I prefer to avoid than to dial back.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Remember that when you just goes to your boss, you are also disclosing to their future replacement down the line.
          I lean towards keeping the information private unless/until you need the accommodation.

    2. SamSoo*

      My only thought is that if it’s something for which you might qualify for FMLA (is there an equivalent to that where you are?), then it’s good to have the FMLA in place before it is needed. That way you are protected. I have a mostly unseeable health issue that has been well controlled for a long time. But if it rears its ugly self I need to know (even though I trust my boss to do right by me) that it won’t be an issue.

      1. Sick But Not That Sick*

        I had to Google FMLA and the good news is that I’m significantly more covered than that anyway (our statutory provision is better than that, and I get better than statutory).

        A good consideration, though, thanks.

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      Yup – you get to decide whether to come out about your illness, and there’s no moral or ethical reason you should. You being ill is only their concern once, or if, your work falls off or, as you said, you need special accommodations.

    4. Akcipitrokulo*

      Entirely up to you – no ethical or moral obligations to disclose anything you don’t want to.

      Having said that, it may be in your interests to mention it – your boss may be willing to add flexibility or make non-formal adjustments to make things easier – but that’s again, absolutely up to you.

    5. Joielle*

      Totally ok to wait until you need special accommodations! At that point, you can explain it as “a condition I’ve had for many years that usually doesn’t cause much disruption but has recently been flaring up much worse than usual.” In my opinion, no reason to risk any discrimination (even if unlikely) unless necessary.

    6. Quinalla*

      If you do decide to disclose, keep in mind that you can choose your level of disclosure. You can just say “medical issue” and that’s fine. You can get a little more specific. I’ve personally been making an effort to not overshare on this stuff at work to set a good example and to set people up for success. If I just say “medical appointment” or “personal appointment”, that’s more than enough info for my boss/coworkers. Something to think about!

  27. Moo*

    Any safety professionals here? What courses or certifications would you recommend for someone who doesn’t have an actual background in safety but works in the field and has picked up a lot of info over the last few years? I am currently working in a safety-related job as an admin, so I don’t have any science degrees or a safety background, but in reading and evaluating safety programs against certain criteria, asking questions of my colleagues, and reading inspection reports, I’ve already learned quite a bit. I’d like to maybe try for some additional knowledge or certifications to help in my job. I’ve contacted a few local community colleges but they don’t seem to offer what I might need. My director suggested chemistry and some other science-related courses as a place to start, but is there anything else I should be thinking about?

    1. Amber Rose*

      Safety is a tough one to get into as a general thing, because as far as I can tell everywhere wants you to have experience in their particular industry. A machine shop who hires a safety person usually wants someone with experience machining things, so they can do both and know about both. A trucking company wants someone with experience driving semis. Etc. So it kind of depends on what field you want to work safety in. Then go look and see what sort of requirements companies in that field have.

      I’m a safety manager at a manufacturer, and it’s basically impossible for me to find a job anywhere else even though I have multiple certifications and I’m a registered safety program auditor with the government.

      1. Moo*

        I’m in a general safety position, so it’s nothing specialized (I work with and review programs and reports from companies that run the gamut from offices to trucking companies to manufacturers to schools to construction), and I’m not looking to change jobs (but would love a promotion here!). Just hoping to get a little more familiar with safety regulations and best practices, etc. so that maybe I could work toward a CSP or something similar. If that makes sense.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Not sure what country you work in, but if you have anything like an auditor accreditation program, I would recommend it as a good place to start to really, really know the regulations.

          There are usually safety companies that offer courses too. I know we all have to start taking the CSO, or Common Safety Orientation, from a company that just offers that kind of thing. I have probably 6 or 7 such safety certificates.

            1. Construction Safety*

              OSHA had regional OTI’s associated with major universities. Georgia Tech is my local one. They offer a wide variety of safety related curricula. Georgia Southern offers an on-line degree in safety with credit for other college courses & OSHA training taken. Click Safety offer a lot of on-line courses. Consider becoming a certified First Aid/CPR instructor thru AHA or the Red Cross.

    2. J. F. Scientist*

      It depends what kind of safety- large equipment/ general worker protection? Fire prevention? Chemical safety? Radiation safety? There are various OSHA workplace and chemical certifications that enable one to teach classes on various kinds of safety; if I were you I’d try to get in touch with chemical safety officers (or fire safety officers, or whatever the specialty is at similar organizations and ask them about their training/ what they’d recommend.

      (My dad is now retired but worked as a chemical/fire safety director at plants and chemical companies for 30 years, and then as a consultant, inspector, and trainer. He was also a professional firefighter and got a fire science degree from University of Maryland back in the day, which was what ‘qualified’ him. I’m a biochemist and we have a lot of chemical safety needs. You do need a firm foundation in chemistry for the fire/chemistry types of certifications.)

    3. IH Kate*

      There’s some online safety programs, though your mileage may vary. I think it depends too on what type of safety you’d like to do – I’m an industrial hygienist in a university setting, and I’ve found math, chemistry, biology, etc. to be pretty helpful, but more specific “safety” people might get more mileage out of physics, math, etc.

      In terms of certifications, I’d aim for the ASP first, and maybe get membership in ASSP or AIHA – they have free resources, webinars, etc. that might be interesting/useful. I know AIHA has some of their annual conference available as webinar sessions online, and you can still get credit for them, which might be useful towards your certifications. Otherwise, online ASP/CSP prep would also give you a pretty broad overview. You can also join your local ASSP/AIHA sections if you have them – they’re useful for networking, education, and just general question asking. AIHA also has an active online forum – I’m not sure about ASSP, as I’m not currently a member.

      I agree with Amber Rose that it can be a little hard to break into, especially in really specific sectors. I would never get hired (and would do horrible at) a trucking company or machining company, but I do well in my diversified environment with lots of other safety professionals to rely on – our department is about 50 people. I’d just keep that in mind as well. I know quite a few safety professionals who started out working for insurance companies or as trainers, which is broad scope and diverse, which might help you get a leg up getting hired somewhere else.

      1. IH Kate*

        Dropping some links to some online coursework/class resources here – I know it’ll get stuck in moderation for a bit. Hope something helps!

        OSHA Training Institutes – regional courses on OSHA information (OSHA 40 hour, HAZWOPER, etc.):

        NIOSH also has training centers:

        Online continuing education courses from the Midwest training center:

        FEMA Emergency Management independent study courses:

        Johns Hopkins opencourseware Intro to Industrial Hygiene:

      2. Moo*

        Thank you! The ASP sounds familiar, I think someone may have mentioned that to me before, so I’ll definitely look into that and the other ones too!

  28. bluegrass*

    I have one more week until my last day at this job! Then I’ll be moving two hours away, into an apartment with my partner, adopting a cat, and starting a new remote job. So excited! Interested to see how the transition to remote work goes.

    1. LessNosy*

      Congratulations!! I recently transitioned into remote work myself. I read a lot of blogs and articles with tips on making the transition easier – my biggest helps have been 1) having a specific space where I do my work and 2) getting out of the house at least once a day. Good luck, you’ll be great! PS Enjoy your kitty – they are the purrrfect remote coworkers. I have 4 myself :)

      1. Windchime*

        Interesting! I interviewed for a fully-remote position this week. I am very conflicted about it; the idea of no commute sounds like heaven but I am also a little worried about becoming house-bound as I’m already a bit of an introvert. It seems like more and more commenters are becoming remote workers.

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I, too, recently transitioned to a fully remote position, and I agree about getting out of the house. I sometimes go out for lunch or go to Starbucks late in the afternoon – I also go run errands or just do a lap or two around the block.

      Good luck with all of your new changes! It sounds like a very exciting time for you.

      1. bluegrass*

        I’m looking forward to moving in with my partner — we’ve only ever done long distance, for 2.5 years — but yeah, the cat has really been on the forefront of my mind!

  29. Where do we go from here?*

    Trying to have a semblance of anonymity…

    I’m not looking right now, but I want to know more.

    Would it be weird to go from management to a regular, senior position at another company?

    What would I say to recruiters? Right now I’m working as a manager in the accounting department of my company (a tax firm). This was my first career job after graduating college.

    I started at my current company doing tax prep, payroll, and bookkeeping. I’ve been promoted 3 times in the 4.5 years here.

    I like being a manager and I would like to do that again…BUT I also wouldn’t mind doing the actual work again and just learning as much as I can.

    I haven’t actively searched but my instinct is that I have too little experience to be a manager at another company, since I was promoted in June.

    A wrench is that I don’t have an accounting degree. I minored in it, but 99% of my education has come from my job and I have a professional license. Not sure how that will prohibit me.

    My biggest concern is taking a pay cut and health benefits. I make 70k at my current position. $150 is deducted from my paycheck every 2 weeks for health insurance (medical, dental, vision). I pay $50 copy and $25-30 for medicines every 6-8 weeks. How do I know if this is good, and how does all this fit in?

    1. Lisa B*

      Definitely not strange to go from management to non-management, but you should expect them to ask you about it during an interview. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you were really good at your job and the promotion seemed natural, but you realized that you preferred the more “in the weeds” work.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      There’s nothing wrong with saying that while you enjoyed managing, you’ve realized you would rather be an individual contributor.

      Plenty of people go that route, and especially if you’re looking at a senior position, it might not even really be seen as a downgrade.

    3. boredatwork*

      First, typically if you go to a larger firm, your “manager” title would translate back down to more of a senior role. Just based on the complexity of the clients involved. Typically bigger firms can pay more money, so it may not equate to a pay decrease.

      Second, the education issue is going to depend largely on the firm, and if they care. Some will require a masters and a CPA, some will be happy with what you have now. A recruiter can rule out education issues before you interview.

      Third, as for benefits, you can request a copy of the firm’s policy before accepting your offer. You’ll have to compare your current policy to the new policy.

      1. Crimeandwine*

        Exactly this. I’m not in finance, but I was a department manager at a small contract research organization and had similar movement to the OP. I recently accepted a senior titled role as an individual contributor at a one of the top 3 CROs, and I received a 42.5% increase in salary.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Going from mgt to individual contributor role is seriously NBD in the accounting/finance world. When the subject comes up simply say “I enjoyed my time as a manager but really feel my technical skills area great match for this position and I did miss digging into the data and working through the problems myself”.

      As for the education…as long as you have a degree you should be fine with around 5 years experience in accounting. The professional license should also help there.

    5. Hillary*

      Another framing you can use is to go after an individual contributor position at a larger organization. You have a good idea of how things work at your small company and want to (if it’s true) learn about whatever function in a larger organization.

      I’ve done both and they’re very different. At my last job dealing with my category’s expenses meant going upstairs and talking to one or two people. At this job it’s 30+ people on four continents that all have to agree with any changes.

    6. ErinFromAccounting*

      What area are you in? I actually think 70k is quite low for an accounting manager with a CPA/CMA/etc. Senior accountants in my area (SoCal) make more like 80-90k, depending on the company.

  30. Amber Rose*

    Guys! A little girl called my work yesterday to ask if our refrigerator was running!
    It makes my heart happy that kids still play dumb prank calls.

  31. AE*

    I need some thoughts outside of my own head.

    Our department basically imploded last year. While details are probably unnecessary, suffice it to say that our manager is a problem in ways that are unlikely to improve. The company is aware, and HR was involved this spring. This manager is on an improvement plan. However, the way in which our HR dept handled this issue was so poor (ex. shared confidential conversations about our boss *with* our boss) that we lost several very valuable staff members. The department responded to the HR investigation in three ways: those who were honest about their concerns, those who were too afraid to be honest, and those who see an opportunity to get in with this manager.

    With no resolution, we’re moving forward, trying to get our jobs done and maintaining a semblance of a professional relationship with this manager. Yet one staff member seems oblivious to the ongoing problems. The group received an email last night with the demand that we all pitch in to organize a surprise birthday party for this boss. She has already contacted the boss’ spouse to get ideas on just what the boss likes the best so as to make this a “great party.”

    Dear readers, I can maintain professional relationships. This team needs my specialized skills more than ever and I’m happy to provide them. But I am not about to get involved in this birthday scheme. Our department is not happy, not unified, and not very functional. A birthday party would be awkward at best, and suggest to HR that the problems no longer exist at worst. It is worth noting that we have never had birthday parties for anyone in our department previously, manager or subordinate.

    What to do? My current instinct is to ignore the email.

    1. fposte*

      I agree with your instinct. You don’t have to fix this situation, and you don’t have to get involved with it.

    2. INeedANap*

      Yeah, I would just ignore the email. If the staff member pushes, I’d say something like: “No thanks! I’m pretty focused on work right now.”

    3. Fortitude Jones*

      In the Deleted Items folder that email would go, lol. I wouldn’t even bother responding.

  32. Brownie*

    My great-grandboss level of management is hopping on the Scrum train because they believe it will resolve a perceived lack of responsiveness to customers regarding software and applications. This is fine for developers because Scrum was intended for them, but my whole department is infrastructure and operations, not development! (Infrastructure and OPs in this context is IT networking, database administration, servers, help desk, and so on.) We don’t fit into the framework the managers were taught by the high-priced consultants who were brought in, but that doesn’t seem to matter to management who’s trying to shoehorn us into product teams and sprints.

    So far I’ve managed to be very professional about my objections while pointing out that responsiveness could easily be increased by adding more people to operations to remove the bottlenecks caused by not having enough people for the workload, but nope, it looks like it’s going to be Scrum for everyone. Anyone out there in IT operations/infrastructure ever successfully fought back against management who tried to implement Scrum for them?

    1. Earthwalker*

      IIRC Agile kanban can be effective for prioritizing and tracking non-project, ongoing maintenance work. Maybe you can push efforts in that direction?

      1. Brownie*

        I’m trying, but so much of what several of the teams do is quick fixes that would take more time to do a kanban entry in the proposed software than the ticket actually took to resolve, so there’s a lot of pushback from non-management as it would only slow the response times down further. If we had more people I’d love to start doing kanban so we know what all has been worked on and can report to management all of the “we did this” stats, but right now we’re so short on people that any extra logging is time that could be spent on getting rid of the backlog of work.

        I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t a case where we’ll have to document how much time tasks take now without Scrum/kanban and then later when the complaints about slowness increase we’d have proof that the way management wants us to go isn’t working. Urgh, that rubs me the wrong way though since it basically means letting a process which I know will have a negative effect on customers and our reputation go into practice just to prove a point.

      2. techRando*

        Ops around me also uses a scrum/kanban mix. There’s some planning for the sprint ahead (what tasks are highest priority, what clients will be onboarded, etc) and then a lot of handling of things as they come in.

        I think a lot of aspects can be helpful- having specific statuses for all complaint tickets to be in, a board with visibility to all of those, etc. Something where like “under investigation”, “being fixed now (by your team)”, “waiting on developer patch”.

        My recommendation is definitely to take whatever feels like it works for you. A good retrospective set up should include moments to question the process and come up with modifications.

      3. Phoebe2*

        This exactly. Sounds like Kanban to me. Sometimes people think agile and scrum are the same. But they’re not.
        Suggest kanban.

    2. VonSchmidt*

      The kanban portion of scrum may be what your manager is looking at. Your area may be ripe for outsourcing standardized tasks. Rather than push back on scrum (which is just a visual way to view work to be done) I would embrace it to see what items are better outsourced versus adding staff .

      1. Brownie*

        What the managers are pushing as scrum is actually making ops have scrum meetings for the ops team as well as go to scrum meetings for the developer projects that are supported by ops. They’re also trying to make ops work in sprints and focus only on what’s defined for that sprint. But ops has very few long term projects which could benefit from that – the workload is mainly customer ticket based, not project based – and in the scrum training everyone in the department had the consultants specifically called out ops as not something that scrum works for. It’s left me confused and frustrated as I’m all for kanban, but that’s not what’s being pushed.

        1. techRando*

          I don’t know about your set up, but having ops/dev people scrum together can be really good for relationships between the groups and for prioritization.

          I’m on the dev side of a team set up like that, and everything has gotten incredibly better about our setup since we started working with ops regularly. They also find themselves less frustrated by problems we cause because they can feel pretty comfortable pinging us with a stacktrace like “does this look like something we can fix?” and we can usually answer pretty quickly a yes/no. We also do a good amount of work automating their stuff which reduces their backlog of repetitive tasks they need to slog through, as well as changing our metrics/reporting/tooling based on what makes their jobs easier.

          Now, the “focus only on what was set out for that sprint” is a problem in this scenario, definitely. And it’s not something I’ve really seen play out so well in ops teams before.

    3. ArtK*

      That’s a misunderstanding of Scrum. It comes from Lean manufacturing and has been applied successfully to many situations outside of software. It’s a great framework for a lot of things. Lots of IT teams use it successfully. It’s especially good for DevOps organizations.

    4. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I recommend reading The Phoenix Project, which is a novel (a quick read) about DevOps. While it is hard to shoehorn IT Ops/Infrastructure into traditional Scrum for AppsDev, some of the culture and principles can definitely apply to IT Ops/Infrastructure in several scenario (IT for IT efforts, collaborating when AppsDev needs Infrastructure resources to perform work to make an effort successful, and when Infrastructure needs AppsDev to do things like test new upgrades). Adding more people to improve responsiveness and remove bottlenecks is a bit of a slippery slope solution. Kanban or Scrumban can help alleviate the bottlenecks. The Phoenix Project novel is so good at showcasing this through a fictional journey. Good luck!

    5. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      You have lead times, impact analysis and approvals. Nevermind documentation. That is maybe V-model but ”Scrum” will but its head into a brick wall of compliance. In other words, it will be like teaching pigs to sing. And the consultants will happily take the money. The pigs however will be very annoyed and quit or go ”by the book” and sabotage even the ”nice” dev teams.

      Been there, done that… what people say the bits from Kanban can be introduced, but there will be a rebellion if the pointy haired bosses go agile without understanding their own business processes, namely the deployment and testing.

      Look up the V-model… NATO standard reiterating waterfall.

  33. Still looking*

    I’ve been in my current work for 7 years and seems like I’ve gotten nowhere – skills and pay wise. I’ve started applying since last November, have had interviews but no offers.
    I’ve sent multiple applications, and almost losing hope. This fall, I’ll start aggressively applying again, I really want to get out of here, even considering changing roles. It’s just my skills are very specific, and getting into a general type of role seems really hard… hopefully someone will give me a chance, I’ve got no more motivation coming here.

    1. irene adler*

      Well, Oct is when the new fiscal year starts for many companies. New fiscal year often means = new job postings! So you might get well-prepared for this.

    2. 867-5309*

      Have you spent time reading Alison’s great advice on resumes and cover letters? It can be a slog when you’ve been looking for awhile but spending the time creating good materials will make all the difference. Good luck!

      (What’s your field?)

    3. Peppercat53*

      Persevere and don’t give up! I looked off and on for probably two years before I found the right fit and the right situation. I had multiple interviews and some offers but couldn’t afford to take the pay cut that was involved at the time (tried moving from macro-large brewery to smaller craft breweries). One brewery wouldn’t even negotiate with me. They told me a number and when I called back and left HR a message that I wanted to discuss they never contacted me and months later I got an email saying the role had been filled by someone else. Know your worth and keep putting yourself out there. I finally left my prior employer after 8 years (my first real job out of college) last fall and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself (even with a pay cut!- I moved to a lower cost of living state and I’m grateful my husband was supportive both emotionally and that his work could provide for us financially). You can do this!

  34. MOAS*

    I had my evaluation this morning, and I did my first evaluation as a manager (with my manager sitting with me) today. Both went well, and no surprises lol. Also, I feel super silly for being worried about the glassdoor review lol.

  35. JanetSnow*

    I was fired a couple of weeks ago. My manager who fired me is a Facebook friend. Can I unfriend him ?

    1. !*

      Is there a reason why you don’t think you should unfriend him? This is probably the biggest reason why I only keep Facebook to actual friends and family. I use LinkedIn for professional contacts only.

      1. JanetSnow*

        I wasn’t sure if it would seem petty or something. But I think going forward, I will not be adding any coworkers to social media.

        1. 867-5309*

          I took that role a couple years ago. I don’t friend coworkers until after I’m no longer with a company.

        2. Natalie*

          I mean, even if it does, who cares?Someone you don’t see anymore will think you’re petty. Good for him. That and a dollar will buy him whatever you can buy for a dollar these days.

        3. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          “I wasn’t sure if it would seem petty or something.”

          Why do you care what your (ex) manager thinks?

        4. Groove Bat*

          It’s my experience that people don’t know when you unfriend them. Your posts just don’t show up in their feed anymore.

      2. Quinalla*

        Agreed, if you are connected on linkedin unless he is being a idiot there (I don’t get it, but some people treat it like it is there personal facebook, so weird to me!), I’d stay connected, but no reason to stay Facebook friends if you don’t want to.

        I don’t use Facebook except to check out other folks, follow a few business/groups and follow a few groups for my kids that people set up on Facebook (clearly just to piss me off :) as I hate Facebook’s interface so much). I make a post once every couple years on my own page, so I do have some work friends on there, but they are people I’m friendly with outside of work.

    2. Art3mis*

      F yes.
      I unfriended someone who interviewed me for an internal position. I didn’t get it, which was fine, but when I asked for feedback she ignored me. I wasn’t that close with her anyway.

    3. ECHM*

      Another option would be to hide him from your news feed and you can set your post to “Friends except [ExBoss].”

    4. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      Ummm… Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn for colleagues. I’ve made Facebook friends with ex-colleagues, but very-very-extrmely few made onto there while we worked together.

      Like now if you were a totally vindictive person, you might dig and screencap something stupid off their feed from 10 years ago and send it to the HR and their boss ”totally anonymous” and get them fired… If I was the boss, I’d unfriended you before I made the call…

  36. Newbie*

    When you start a new job, is it better to be super flexible and accommodating, or establish boundaries right away?

    I take work-life boundaries seriously, and I’m not interested in routinely spending extra hours at the office or working from home in the evenings/on weekends. This has never been a problem, as I don’t work in a field that expects it. But I recently changed jobs and I’m reporting to someone who sees the job as their life. They are happy to spend 12 hours a day working – and that’s fine for them! But I don’t want to get sucked into it.

    They are aware that this is out of the norm and they don’t expect me to do the same, but it’s little things like scheduling a meeting for 4:30 or asking me to jump on a call “for 5 minutes” (which is really 20 minutes) at 4:55. I have a young child and have to make daycare pickup, so I truly don’t have the ability to disregard the time and stay late without notice.

    I could push back and wouldn’t be penalized outright, but I’m still very new and I want to make a good impression. On the other hand, I’m afraid that if I don’t set the boundaries now, it will be much harder to push back when I’m more established at this job. Thoughts?

    1. Jess*

      Hard boundaries where the kid pickup is concerned, for sure. Expect pushback a few times, from your boss and from others — it’s your job to train them that this IS a hard boundary, it’s not their job to make sure that you pick your kid up on time. They don’t know if when you say you have to leave at 5, you Have To Leave At 5:00, or if that means Saying 5 Gets Me Out The Door By My Actual Necessary Leave Time of 5:15, or what… and they will discover that answer by your actions as well as your words.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        All of this. The daycare/child pickup thing is non-negotiable unless you have someone else who can step in for you on those random days where your boss schedules these late meetings. Otherwise, if boss sends you an email or IM saying, “Hey, do you have a few minutes? I’d like to go over something with you,” at 4:55, then you can say, “Unfortunately, I have to pick up my kid by 6, so I’m unable to talk now. Please send me an invite for tomorrow morning and we can discuss it then.” Or if you don’t mind taking calls at home, you can ask to talk once you get your child and are settled in at home. But either way, absolutely set that particular boundary upfront so your manager knows going forward that this can’t be a regular thing with last minute calls/meetings.

    2. Llama Wrangler*

      I am in a very personal-life friendly job right now, so my feelings might be skewed, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a big picture conversation with your boss where you say: “I want to make sure you know that I have childcare responsibilities that mean I need to leave by X time unless I can plan in advance for an alternative.” And then when they ask to schedule a call or meeting at the end of the day, just say “Since I have a hard stop at X time, would it make sense to schedule this earlier in the day?”

      The only question I have is — if you were in a situation where you were required at the last minute to stay late, how would you handle it? I think if you have the kind of role where there might be last minute things that come up, you might want to include your contingency plan in your conversation with your boss, so that it’s clear that you can handle the urgent situations that might arise. But if your job shouldn’t ever have last minute evening responsibilities, I don’t think you need to include this.

    3. Fibchopkin*

      From my own experience as the primary kid-picker-upper in my family (my partner is still active duty military) I would recommend you set those boundaries NOW! I know how uncomfortable that can be. I’ve been at my current org for just over 3 years, and my grandboss is notorious for the “could you just pop in for a quick phone call?” 5 minutes before quitting time. “Quick” phone calls can often go on for 20 minutes – 1 Hour. The first time it happened, I’d been in my job for a month. I didn’t want to rock the boat, but as the clock crept closer and closer to that 5:30 drop-dead time, I finally just interjected and said “Grandboss, I have to leave right now to pick up the mancub.” The next day, I asked for a few minutes of her time and explained that I would not be able to ever stay past 5PM unless I could plan for that in advance, and I followed that up by saying “Actually I have to leave in XX minutes, is this something we can do tomorrow morning?” every time she tried to call me last minute to ask me to stay after that. Now – there is another to this. To make up for my relative inflexibility with leave time during the school year, I always volunteer to come in early, and for the first year or so, I work a LOT of planned weekend and travel events. (“Planned” being the key word.) Compensating in this way demonstrated my willingness to be a team player and go the extra mile when needed. I’ve been promoted 3 times in 3.5 years, so setting those early boundaries was not a hindrance to my career – but I did need to compensate with those other measures.

    4. lulu*

      Set the limits now. Do it professionally and matter of fact. For instance for the meeting at 4:30 just point out that you need to leave at 5, so would it make sense to reschedule it for earlier the following day.

    5. animaniactoo*

      I think now is the time to do it and to say “Hey, I wanted to raise this with you – I tried being available for the 5 minute call right before leaving for the day, but when we’ve done that it’s gone over 5 minutes by quite a bit and I’ve ended up having to leave later. The same is true for meetings that start at 4:30 – by the time everyone is there and we’re ready to start, it’s running over the planned half an hour. Because this affects my day-care pickup when it happens, can we please make sure not to schedule things for the very end of the day and fit them in earlier so that I’m not running into issues like that?” Bonus points if you can say “I was late 2x last week and I’ll jeopardize the placement if I do it again any time soon.”

    6. Jaydee*

      Set really firm boundaries where you need to (like childcare pickup) but be a little flexible where you can. So, staying late may not be possible, but maybe you can be flexible about your lunch break and eat at 11:30 one day and 1:00 another to accommodate meetings. Maybe you drive to work, so you’re always willing to run random midday errands that a coworker who takes public transit can’t.

    7. wittyrepartee*

      Set an alarm for your end time. Tell everyone about said alarm- that is the “I NEED TO GO GET MY KID ALARM”. When alarm goes off, say “time to get my kid!” and then leave.

      I do this in my personal life- my phone goes off at 11 PM. I don’t always leave at 11 PM, but it’s a signal that it’s late, and I should start making for the door if I need to. It’s now a schtick where me and all my friends hear it and go “It’s 11:oo!” in unison.

  37. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I’m volunteering with a local sports organization (in addition to my full-time job) to build up my resume for when I make a career change. I’ve mostly been doing email communications, since I work during the week, but plan to go to games on weekends. Does anyone have any other suggestions for how I can offer to help? Thank you!

    1. 867-5309*

      Can you tell us more about the career change you want to make? That will help us provide thoughts on what else it might make sense to do.

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        Transitioning from nonprofit administrative support to executive level administrative support for the front office of a professional team.

  38. Rick Castle*

    I’m close to 5 years in my career as a copywriter, and I know more senior positions and promotions could be in my future. But the more I do this the less I am enjoying being a copywriter. I’m thinking of a career change but I don’t know what I would do or what I can find with my current experience level (bachelor degree, no master, almost 5 years in digital marketing). Any suggestions?
    My budget’s tight, I’m not sure school or a new degree would work for me.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Yeah, I was about to say, business development, particularly proposal writing, could be a nice transition that doesn’t require any additional schooling or training.

    1. 867-5309*

      There are a lot of things you could do in digital marketing that would translate: social media strategy, account management, etc.

      But, also look at internal communications. A lot larger companies hire people to do internal newsletters and intranets, which is much more journalism and long-form writing than copywriting. Additionally, it will position to transition your career in that direction.

      1. Rick Castle*

        That is not a path/positions I have heard of before. Thanks for letting me know, that does sound interesting.

    2. lemon*

      Do you want to stick with writing or do you want to move into a new direction?

      If you want to keep writing/working with content: content strategy, UX writer, content marketing, and second the recommendation for internal comms jobs.

      If you want to go out in a new direction: UX design/research? (mostly just suggesting this because it’s digital, and marketing is about crafting stories/journeys, which is good for UX).

      If you’re interested in going to school and learning a new school, but budget is your only constraint, there’s a growing number of tech programs that operate by some form of income-share agreement, meaning you don’t pay upfront but agree to pay a percentage of your income after you find a new job. That could be an option. I know Thinkful works this way, off the top of my head. There’s also programs like Revature, which trains people in tech for free in exchange for a 2-year contract to work with their clients across the country (so requires a lot of travel).

      1. Rick Castle*

        I’m definitely thinking of going in a new direction. Just not sure what. I’ll look into UX research

    3. Hepzibah Pflurge*

      My experience at larger law firms is that they tend to have fairly robust marketing/digital marketing/social media departments. Holding a staff position at a law firm (or any firm that lives and dies by the billable hour) can have downsides, but what gig doesn’t? Pay and perks are usually pretty good too. Good luck!

    4. AliceBD*

      If you like digital marketing but not exclusive copywriting look for a generalist digital marketing job. Or a social media job. I’ve done both, and personally like being a generalist digital marketer better than just doing social media. Currently I don’t have to write anything public-facing other than a few social media posts per week that are pretty easy. I’m going to be writing a lot in my job in the future because we are redoing our website and it all has to be rewritten to be well-written but that is an unusual one-off thing and we would be outsourcing it if I didn’t enjoy it and have the copywriting background. (Still might outsource it depending on the workload.) I don’t even have to write blog posts, just edit them.

  39. Erika22*

    Hi fellow UK readers! Question regarding notice periods as someone not familiar with UK notice periods. My notice period is three months (I didn’t know to question this when I started this job, but it turns out I’m the only person in my department with such a long notice period!) How do you negotiate this down when giving notice? Aside from potentially reflecting poorly on me, is it possible to kind of…strong arm my company in shortening my notice? We’ve just entered a (very) slow period at work which I think will help in negotiating, but if anyone has experience with this advice would be appreciated!

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t think it would reflect poorly on you if you approached it just as you say, as ‘I understand my contracted notice period is three months, but would there be any scope to negotiate on that? As far as I’m aware, my position is the only one in the department with such a long notice period, and I’m confident I can complete my handover in good time, so would there be any way to shorten my notice?’

      Of course they’re well within their rights to say no, as you signed a contract with a three-month notice period, but if they’re reasonable then they might be open to giving you some leeway. Or if you have holiday remaining, you could possibly negotiate taking that as part of your notice period, instead of being paid for it. I don’t think there’s anything you can do to ‘strong-arm’ them, though, and I think that *would* reflect poorly on you. If they say no, you’ll probably just need to accept that and work out your notice.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      It tends to depend on the business – you can request an earlier last day, but contractually they can deny your request. Of course in practice they can’t force you to work, but you might be burning bridges if you refused, and your field will determine how common it is to do so.

      You must be allowed to take or be paid accrued annual leave. If you’ve already taken more than you’ve earned it will need to be recouped one way or another (you would earn another 1.4 weeks in those three months!).

      If you handle sensitive data (e.g. a sales position) then they might not want you to work your notice, in which case we are in “gardening leave” territory and they may be interested in saving themselves money by agreeing an earlier finish date.

      However, I have known people to get stuck with employers who spitefully refuse to release them early. In my own experience, they wanted every last day they could claim despite their refusal to arrange a successor or any handover, so for a few weeks I was being paid by NewJob for work and also by OldJob for accrued leave at the same time (ka-ching!).

      Ultimately you can leave whenever you want, but it may lead to contractual legal headaches and future professional difficulties. However, it’s very common to have that kind of notice period in certain fields, including mine, so it’s unlikely you would miss out on a new position because you couldn’t start sooner.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      I thought my 2 month was long!

      They might. But don’t worry too much if they don’t and you’re looking for another job; most companies will wait for the right person at the level you’re probably at to have a 3-month notice period!

      If you’re in a union, call and ask! They will chat through options with you. (If you’re not… it’s definitely worth it… tuc website has a good tool to find out which one would suit you, and you don’t need to tell your company you’ve joined if you don’t want to.)

      TBH…. although legally they can technically sue you for breach of contract… it’s rare and not worth their while… and they probay know that. So if you go in with a positive thing you can offer in exchange, particularly if it’s taking account of business needs like documentation or taking on knowledge transfer before you go or pointing out how (if relevant) it would make sense for you to leave during slower period/before you start on new projects that can always help.

      Also they might not have noticed either if it’s the only one like that?

    4. Bagpuss*

      Start by asking!
      A shorter period saves them money, so it may be attractive to them if you are in a quiet period.
      It may also help if you can sell it to them – the money saving is a part of that, but setting out what you can do before leaving to ease the transition and make sure that your colleagues aren’t overwhelmed will help.
      3 months is not necessarily something you should have known to negotiate when you joined- in some fields it’s very normal – so don’t assume, moving forward, that it’s something to avoid or negotiate out of in every role.

    5. Weegie*

      I negotiated an earlier departure from two previous jobs where I had three-month notice periods. Neither time was it a problem. Just approach your manager and ask if they’re open to you leaving sooner than 3 months. On both occasions I got it down to 6 weeks, which both sides were happy with. The second time I did this I told my line manager I had estimated that I would have all necessary tasks and loose ends wrapped up by x date, and handover materials prepared for my successor. In your case, part of your request could be to note that as you are entering a slow period, that might be a convenient exit time for both you and the company.

    6. hazy days*

      We would expect senior staff to have a 3 month notice period and plan accordingly – for top positions, we’re working on a 6 month hiring cycle at minimum.

    7. 16 Pieces of Flair*

      Yep, there are the minimum ones (usually for the employer), but contractually they can be longer. The fine print would have been in the contract when you signed it.

  40. stitchinthyme*

    This has been a difficult week for me, so bear with me; I’ll try to keep this work-related but it concerns a health issue. It may be more venting than advice-seeking.

    Background: I have had hearing problems for years, but up until last weekend I had one functional ear and was able to get by pretty well, just occasionally having to ask people to repeat stuff, especially in loud-background-noise situations. I recently had a cochlear implant in the bad ear (not activated yet – that’s a week from today) which, while not strictly necessary, I was fondly hoping would improve those situations where I had problems. However, the universe decided to throw a monkey wrench in my plans, and suddenly over the course of last weekend, I experienced a sudden drop in hearing and comprehension in my one good ear, leaving me with a speech recognition rate of about 12%. I am getting treatment, and of course there’s the implant, but there’s no guarantee that the treatment will work, and it may take months before I can learn to distinguish sounds with the implant; it’s not a simple “turn it on and boom, you can hear.” I can no longer use the phone, and face-to-face conversation is difficult although not impossible, as I have a microphone that can stream directly into my hearing aid, and my comprehension is much higher when the other person speaks into it.

    I am lucky enough to have a job that doesn’t require a lot of human interaction (software developer). First thing I did when I got to work on Tuesday was send out an email to the coworkers I interact with regularly asking them to limit contact with me to chat or email for the time being, and everyone has been good about that this week. Neither my boss nor grandboss knows anything about this yet because they’re both on vacation, so I have no idea what, if any, official response there might be from the company. I generally only attend one meeting a week, which is optional, so I skipped it this week although a coworker did offer to type up live notes for me on the screen. (I just asked him to fill me in on the status of the two projects I work on afterward.)

    I’m not even sure what I’m asking here. I guess…how do you navigate at work when you have such a devastating and life-changing thing happen? Words of advice or support are welcome.

    This next bit feels a bit petty to mention, but it’s bugging me, so…aside from the two coworkers I’m closest to, not a single one of them has said a word to me (even via online chat) about this. I have no desire to be the center of attention and I totally understand that it’s hard to know what to say when someone has a bad thing happen to them, and probably even more awkward when you can’t say it in person, but still, a simple “Hey, how you holding up?” or “Really sorry this happened to you.” It feels like no one gives a crap, and it hurts a bit. I’ve been here six years, so it’s not like I just met these people.

    And then there’s my fears for the future. I can do my job just fine with limited hearing…but if I ever decide I want to look elsewhere, how would I get through an interview if I can’t properly hear the interviewer? Disability discrimination is a very real thing; I’m sure most employers figure it’s a lot less hassle to hire someone who isn’t almost deaf.

    I know I’m borrowing trouble, and that cochlear implants have helped thousands so there’s a good chance it’ll help me as well, or that the treatment on my (formerly) good ear could work. But this is still very fresh for me and my brain won’t stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, it is so hard to be in the middle of something like that. I’m sorry, and I hope treatment and the cochlear implant work to get you where you want to go.

      On the co-workers thing–tbh, it wouldn’t occur to me to check in on somebody after that information unless we were close friends outside of work. I would probably say something in a first response, though, assuming you made it clear that this was serious and not just an URI or something.

      Disability discrimination, as with all kinds of discrimination, is real, but that doesn’t mean disabled people can’t get ever jobs. A quick Google finds that deaf software engineers are out there, so you wouldn’t be the first or only.

      I hope your news and ears improve.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        That’s actually comforting. And it’s also true that I have not checked in on one of my own coworkers who had a power-tool accident a week or so ago and injured his hand pretty badly. I keep thinking I should, but I’m not all that close to him, and I don’t really know what to say.

        I guess my own feelings are just a bit raw right now and I’m being overly sensitive.

        1. fposte*

          I think whenever we suffer a tragedy or big setback we feel like it’s the most visible, loudest, smelliest thing in the room, and that it seems astonishing people could pass us by without noticing or thinking about it. But that’s all internal; it’s just mind-boggling what a tempest you can have internally and everything seem everyday externally.

          1. valentine*

            this is still very fresh for me and my brain won’t stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios.
            This is me all over because I like to prepare and, for something like surgery, I do everything I can ASAP and am actually successful at letting it lie and waiting it out.

            Your coworkers are taking their cue from your matter-of-fact request and possibly don’t want to offend by suggesting there’s anything inherently wrong with being deaf or hard of hearing. Look around for your local Deaf community, if you haven’t done so, and see what resources there are. Think about accommodations like live captioning or speech-to-text for your one meeting, so you can still participate, or asking for them to be recorded and subtitled or transcribed.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Yeah, I could definitely see people not saying anything for fear of saying the wrong thing and causing offense.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I think it’s also possible they’re thinking “oh my god you can’t just ask someone about their disability”. It does sound like they are trying to be supportive in other ways, which suggests a healthy workplace and therefore no need to fear the return of management.

          I’m sorry about your new difficulties. Sometimes this kind of thing gives us a taste of mortality – I also have reduced hearing and my sight has started to go, so I am feeling my world shrink. It’s not always about the thing it’s about.

        3. stitchinthyme*

          I decided to ask the coworker how his hand is. Unfortunately, typing is hard for him since he’s using one hand and I can’t really go talk to him, so I kinda feel guilty about asking over chat now. I just can’t win. :-)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Has he found Speech to text yet? You do have to put up with a lot of weird Miss transliterations, like that one for example, but it does work. Mostly. I use it when my hands hurt from too much computer work.

            1. ToS*

              Agreeing with SiT – Speech-to text has a long learning curve. Think about any time you’ve used that function on a smartphone. It’s often not accurate. Typically at a rate that makes you correct it or send a follow-up text for clarification.

              That accommodation is typically reserved for long-term use as the software has to get used to your vocal idiosyncrasies, which takes months. Typically a one-handed keyboard is the way to go.

    2. Mel*

      Wow, that sucks. I’m sorry :( I imagine that many of your coworkers (particularly if they are software engineers, or work with software engineers) might feel awkward about bringing it up to you, and don’t want to intrude on what might be very personal.

      That said, there are plenty of Deaf software engineers. There’s even a professional slack group:

      A friend of mine is a Deaf software engineer and is kicking ass. There are definitely trials associated with any sort of disability. Some employers will have issues. You may have to educate people, even though you shouldn’t have to. But plenty of Deaf/HoH folks live kickass lives. You can do this. You’ll need to establish a new normal, but you’ll get there.

      Best of luck! And look for local meetups, too.

    3. BeenThere*

      I am hearing impaired, too, though it sounds like I have more hearing than you do. I wear powerful hearing aids, but they’re pretty small and hidden behind my hair. My biggest problem is that people forget that I need them to look at me when they talk to me. Oh, and also, when I ask them to repeat themselves, what I really want is for them to exactly repeat what they said. It’s not that I’m stupid and didn’t understand them — I don’t need an explanation, I just need them to say it again.
      Group meetings are very hard. Recently, they hooked microphones up into the Skype meeting system, but not into speakers in the meeting room. It’s often easier for me to hear if I attend a meeting using Skype. Otherwise, I have to sit right in front of the speaker. I hate that though — I’d rather sit with my group and not feel so isolated and alone up at the front (people don’t sit in front rows for some reason).
      So, what have I done… I talked to my manager about trying to get people to talk louder at meetings. That works for the next meeting, but then people forget. So I do Skype whenever I can.
      When I can’t hear someone, I no longer say, “What did you say?” or “What?” Now I say, “Can you please repeat what you just said?” If they’re looking away from me when they talk, I just say, “I can’t hear you when you’re not looking at me.” (That problem has actually become rarer.)
      I don’t think my hearing is getting worse, so I can’t offer any suggestions for that. But I do feel for you. Hearing loss is isolating when everyone else around you can hear and just assumes you can, too.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        I might be able to adjust my current hearing aid or get a better one. Since this just happened, my HA is programmed for how my ear was before that, so adjusting it is probably not a bad idea. I will see about that when I go in for another test on Monday. I don’t want to go for a new one until I have some idea if the steroids will work, but at least I can see about making the current one work better for me in the meantime.

      2. stitchinthyme*

        Also, I am in kind of an odd place with my hearing: I can hear most normal sounds pretty clearly, but tone discrimination has dropped way down. Even if I can hear something, I can’t always interpret it; for example, last weekend my, who was in another room, sneezed, and I heard it but could not figure out what the noise was — I had to ask. This means that even if someone is speaking loudly enough that I can hear them just fine, I still can’t necessarily understand what they’re saying. This is something I never even knew was a thing until after my first hearing loss episode years ago: that volume and clarity are two totally different things.

        1. BeenThere*

          Yes, that happens to me all the time. I’ll hear a noise, and not know where it came from or what it was. Very frustrating. And yes, do get your aids adjusted. It can make a big difference.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      So I am the asshole who told me mother-in-law should wouldn’t be able to babysit her grandchild until she got hearing aids so I understand how limited hearing can significantly impact your life.
      But I think with your chosen career path and the two coworkers who have been great over the last week, you’ll be fine. I know it is hard not to freak out over such a sudden change in one of you senses that was already compromised but you have plans in place! You have the implant. You are undergoing treatment for the good ear. You know how to navigate your current job for the time being with little impact on your productivity and ability to succeed. Focus on those things right now.
      Plus they have a TON of gizmo’s and gadgets for people with hearing impairment that are really incredible. My MIL has a little device she carries around in her purse that she can hook up to any TV and have the sound stream into her hearing aids. She has an app records conversations or whatever and will transcribe them (sounds great for that meeting you mentioned). Talk to your audiologist and see what options are out there – MIL only has 10% hearing in one ear and 30% in the other so she is pretty limited.

      I’ve had to deal with a few potentially life changing things and discovered that my reaction it to power through until resolution. When I was 9 months pregnant my husband was nearly killed in a car accident. A year later he nearly died again when his heart stopped beating and went into a-fib. In both instances my breakdown happened after the required surgeries and at follow up appointments got the “surgery was successful and we expect full recovery” speech. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the end of the path. I was also a trained low-level first responder so I think that also helped – I had a “process” of sorts to follow that I tweaked to fit my situation. Distraction also helps. If there is a game you really like to play online or you are an avid reader/knitter/etc…do a lot of what makes you happy right now to take your mind off of it. I went swimming a LOT.

      As for the other coworkers, how much did you interact before this? Have you witnessed them consoling other coworkers over significant life events or are they the “I have no idea what to say so won’t say anything?” types? My grandfather and FIL passed while I was at current employer and I’ve signed dozens of birthday, anniversary, retirement, congrats, etc… cards over my years here. I did not get a sympathy card from the department but one person did give me a lovely card and a chocolate bar. Others said stuff when it came up or right after I came back from leave but mostly it was just business as usual.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        I do tend to be an introvert and keep to myself a lot. We have our own offices here, and I was never a huge one for random chatting, though it did happen occasionally. Plus, two of the other three people I was likely to chat with have left; the third is my boss, who as I mentioned is on vacation this week.

        As I said above, I think my feelings are just raw this week and I’m feeling more sensitive to everything than I usually do. And I’m also really tired, as the steroids (treatment for the good ear) and the worry are messing with my sleep patterns.

      2. stitchinthyme*

        Also: I don’t think you’re an asshole for insisting your MIL get hearing aids. You have to look out for the safety of your child, and if your MIL can’t hear someone breaking into the house, a smoke alarm going off, or the baby starting to choke, that puts your kid in serious danger. It’s common sense. Plus, it pisses me off that so many people are too vain to get hearing aids — like some kind of old-age stigma. I mean, I never had that because I got my first one at 37, but I always considered it no different than glasses: just another corrective device that helps make my life better.

        1. valentine*

          if your MIL can’t hear someone breaking into the house, a smoke alarm going off, or the baby starting to choke, that puts your kid in serious danger.
          There are d/Deaf people who can’t hear any of those and it doesn’t cause serious danger. Being d/Deaf or hard of hearing isn’t inherently dangerous.

          1. stitchinthyme*

            Totally fair point. However, CC’s MIL could have mitigated the problem with a hearing aid and chose not to. I don’t blame CC for insisting.

          2. CupcakeCounter*

            It is very true that being hearing impaired isn’t dangerous in and of itself. It is being hearing impaired and refusing to utilize the technology and medical devices available that is dangerous. Until my ultimatum (which made her cry and call me cruel but my husband, her son backed me up 100% so no Dear Prudence letters), her solution was to either pretend she heard (oh the stories I could share) or get mad at you for “forgetting” she couldn’t hear and not standing directly in front of her so she could try to read your lips. Her auto insurer actually dropped her coverage because of a couple of accidents she was in where her being unable to hear things like a car horn and EMS sirens were a significant contributor to the wreck. Her family had been begging her for years to get hearing aids – it truly was her vanity that kept her from getting them.

            1. stitchinthyme*

              As I said, this sort of thing makes me so angry. We live in an age where there is amazing technology to help with hearing loss, and so many people refuse to use it because…they don’t want people to think they’re old, I guess? I’ve never had much vanity myself, but I cannot imagine sacrificing my quality of life because I don’t want people to think I’m old. And besides, most hearing aids nowadays are so small that unless the wearer is bald, they’re hardly noticeable. No one realizes I have them unless I say so.

          3. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Life safety industry here with a Deaf co-worker.
            Strobe smoke alarms exist — bright enough to wake you up–but people who don’t admit their hearing loss probably don’t have them.
            Similarly Deaf people caring for children watch for visual cues in a way that a newly hearing impaired grandmother might not think to do.
            And I grew up with an older mother who didn’t admit her midrange hearing loss for decades …leading to years of scolding me for mumbling on a daily basis. (Which is probably why I’m now told I’m too loud. Sigh.)

    5. Deaf Tech*

      Speaking as someone who is completely deaf (and used to have a Cochlear Implant) people will not ask about your disability unless you start the conversation. It’s likely not that they don’t care, but they don’t want to overstep.

      The implant will likely help you a lot, but as you said it’s not ‘boom, fixed’. It will take a lot of time, training and work. It also is not exactly like regular hearing even once you have trained your brain.

      If you expect your hearing to degrade more, I would really encourage you to look into sign language training. Honestly, I know a lot of hard of hearing people who felt they could get by or pass with 1 on 1s or small groups, but once they started learning sign it became so much easier for them to navigate meetings or situations where there is a lot of background noise (i.e. training or conferences) with interpreters.

      There is also several speech to text apps out there, like Ava, which are not perfect, but can help fill in the blanks in group situations.

      Discrimination and Abelism is definitely a thing and unfortunately deafness is something that is really strongly discriminated against in employment due to the ongoing nature of accessibility. Because of communication limitations, deaf people are often pigeonholed as not being intelligent. As well, unlike if you are in a wheelchair, they can’t just install a ramp/door opener as a one-time expense that will benefit the whole office, you would need individualized accessibility all the time for every situation and that is really expensive to deal with. Some places have been great about it, there is a Software Engineer at Intel that has on-site interpreters for example, for himself and a few other staff, others pretty much have their deaf employee in the corner and never really interact with them.

      For interviews, I find that if they aren’t willing to accommodate your disability at the interview, it’s not a place that you would want to work, because they won’t accommodate you once you start working.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        My one problem with ASL is the time commitment. I just Googled it and found that as with any other new language, it takes years to become proficient. Several of my friends have offered to attend classes with me, and I know my husband would as well, but there’s still that long period of time in between when I am not good enough to have an actual conversation. And plus, I’m one of those really independent people who hates asking anyone for anything, and asking my friends to sink that much time into something for me is foreign to my nature.

        1. BelleMorte*

          Not necessarily, my husband became proficient in a matter of months just by learning from me alone. It really depends on how much you put into it. Plus keep in mind that there will be times when you won’t/can’t wear your implant i.e. when you are going to bed, showering, swimming, doing sports (sometimes). There are a lot of free lessons out there like lifeprint dot com if you want to give it a shot.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I encourage you to do it and take your friends up on their offer! They want to support you, and learning sign is fun and it’s so useful. My sister is hard of hearing and was never formally taught sign, but she finger spells and knows some basic signs that really support her understanding in challenging conversational environments. I sign at the same level as her, which is not that much, and it still helps us communicate. I think you will see benefits from signing in the short term as you work towards the long-term goal of being conversationally fluent.

    6. Waverly*

      Hello! I have severe to profound hearing loss and I have a cochlear implant for my bad ear (my right ear). Not only that, but I’m in the process of losing all of my hearing as well.

      Okay so the first thing I have learned to do is have open communication with my employers and my co- workers. Explain what’s going on with your hearing briefly and what accommodations you may need for communication and going about assignments. For example, I have a family friend that has some serious hearing loss and his employers and co-workers shoot him an email about assignments and he can quickly get things done with an email. He had a client who didn’t know of his hearing, so when the client was talking to him- he didn’t hear a thing (which isn’t his fault). The client went to the employers complaining about him and they sided with their employee saying they should send him an email and he will get it done. With that, problem solved. Open communication on your hearing loss is really important.

      Cochlear implant: I know new things are scary and you don’t know what will happen. Just take it one step or day at a time. I got the implant as a teen and had to adjust to the cochlear for a bit. It was definitely loud and strange at first but then, I got it tuned to my head/hearing, and WOW what a difference it made!! It helped with a lot for me. I still struggle with crowds because everything is one volume. My cochlear is the baha, so it can stream music from my phone and I can talk on the phone and be able to have conversations with the implant. Depends if your cochlear can do this, each one is different.

      Navigating life with hearing loss… depends really on how you view it. I talk openly about my hearing loss with everyone and yes, I do get a lot of discrimination for it. I try not to let that bring me down. I make a lot of jokes about it and I’ll talk to my friends about the scary stuff and my frustrations. I approach my hearing loss like it’s a normal everyday thing because it is. I don’t think it’s taboo or strange as other hearing people like to put it as. I’m proud and confident about myself. Come to terms with your hearing loss, the inevitable, and be okay with it. It’s another obstacle in your story of life.

      So the friend thing, I have been there and I didn’t handle it well. But from what I’ve learned, take the initiative to talk about it with them. Vent, talk or do what you need to do to make them feel comfortable about it. To them, it’s a foreign concept that they never thought they had to deal with, be open and talk about it. Make them comfortable and make yourself comfortable with talking about it to them.

      Disability discrimination is SO REAL!!! Ugh I can’t explain how me mentioning my hearing loss has lost me opportunities. I know that disability discrimination is illegal but people still do it. I’m trying to navigate the interviewing process with my hearing loss as well and it’s not going well right now. So I don’t have an answer to that.

      Anyways, I hope the cochlear goes well and brings you some good news!

    7. Interplanet Janet*

      For scrum, any chance you use (or could use) Google Hangout? There’s a closed captioning you can turn on that does, actually, a pretty reasonable job of transcribing what people are saying in realtime.

      I’m sorry you’re having this trouble, and I agree with the others that your coworkers are probably trying to be sensitive to bringing up ‘personal medical stuff’.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        I doubt that would work here — NDAs and government work mean our internal network is locked down, and although we do have access to the real Internet, I doubt they’d be okay with putting any private company info on it.

    8. warty toes*

      I’m sorry that you’re experiencing all of this. I work in tech/dev as well – and unless I’m *really* good friends with you, I’d never mention it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care, but I’m trying to respect your privacy. This is a health situation at work: I’m trying not to talk about it and focus on “professional” things. If we’re friends, then it’s different. If we’re friends, you’ve already told me what’s going on when we’ve had coffee, and you’ve expressed all your fears/emotions to me then. But otherwise? I’m trying to show my caring by respecting privacy.

    9. Fortitude Jones*

      I’m so sorry this is happening to you. As someone with a disability of my own, I’m always fearful it will get worse and negatively impact my ability to work, so I completely understand your fear and anxiety right now. I hope your treatment goes well and your implant works as expected – no advice, just wanted to offer you that support to let you know you’re not alone.

    10. OtterB*

      Re coworkers not responding – I might not, because I would be afraid I would come off as nosy, and think that “stitchinthyme can still do their job, no need to say anything” is the right response.

      This group is mainly concerned with access of students with disabilities (including hearing issues) to computer science undergraduate and graduate programs, but will probably connect to some resources about workplace issues:

      Wishing you all the best as you navigate this. Uncertainty can be harder than just dealing with it, once you know what “it” is.

    11. Owler*

      Search for ALDA (dot org): Association of Late Deafened Adults. I think you might find a community of people who can both sympathize and advise. Assuming you are in the US and you can make it happen, they have a conference in October in Kansas that would be a great time to meet other people who have been in a similar work situation as you.

    1. NoLongerYoung*

      Fascinating, and it appears to support what I suspected for several years now… it is bias, not opportunity, that is the hurdle.

  41. Quiltrrr*

    Thank you, Alison, for your suggestions about cover letters. I used your suggestions in drafting 2 cover letters for positions, and I have interviews with both coming up!

  42. Miss Fisher*

    What is your take on minimum wage increases at a workplace? A company in the news here raised their wage to 18 from 15 per hour. Some people are happy, but most aren’t as they don’t think its fair that all employees get the increase.

    1. Art3mis*

      As someone who is at the low end of the pay spectrum and would love to get a $3.50 raise, I’m all for it.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      I’m a huge fan of minimum wage increases. I feel that as long as everyone’s salary is brought up to the cost of living standard then all’s good.

    3. Book Lover*

      It sounds like people don’t care if they are underpaid as long as someone else is even more underpaid. The problem isn’t people going from $15 to $18 an hour, it’s a system that doesn’t pay most people enough.

      1. Grapey*


        Like those memes that say (paraphrased) “You think a fast food worker should make the same as an EMT at $18?” No, I think an EMT should make more than that!

    4. Interviewer*

      “It’s not fair” – is this coming from employees? It’s *not* a merit increase that an employee has to earn. It’s an increase in base pay. Good grief.

    5. animaniactoo*

      Did they comparatively raise everyone’s wage across the board or only those below $18/hr to $18/hr?

    6. 867-5309*

      A few years ago, someone’s Facebook post made the rounds and it was along the lines of this: “We’re so busy fighting over the last piece of pie that we don’t realize the mega-wealthy have walked away with the rest.”

      Anything that rebuilds a middle class in America is aces in my book.

      1. animaniactoo*

        That might be part of the key to the reaction though. If they just raised those below $18/hr and did nothing for the person making $20/hr, they have done a great thing for everyone under $18/hr and simultaneously devalued the salary/market worth of the increased responsibilities of the person making $20/hr. People may have a real issue, just not the one they’re perceiving it as.

    7. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      Wage compression is a HUGE problem, if you’re a company that tends towards minimum wage pay to begin with. Let’s say you have a Barn Attendant, who checks people in and out of the barn, who gets paid minimum wage ($10.) But the Llama Trainer gets paid 25% over minimum wage ($12.50), because they had to take a llama trainer certification class and maintain that certification through taking more classes or continuing ed credits, they have more responsibility and liability with regards to the health and welfare of the llamas and their riders, and they have to be active their entire shift while the Barn Attendant can goof around on the internet when it’s slow.

      If you raise the minimum wage so the llama trainers and the barn attendants are both making $15, you will lose all of your llama trainers, because they will calculate that they can get the same wage for less work and less responsibility elsewhere, and many of them will quit the field entirely, shifting to another easier minimum wage role. The same will happen if you have a Barn Attendant who’s been in place for 10 years and as a result of annual step increases, was making $13 an hour but is now making minimum wage. That Barn Attendant will also likely leave the company for one that will allow them to negotiate a higher starting wage, because they feel their work experience is not being valued or respected if they are being paid the same as a brand new barn attendant off the street.

      It’s also easy to say that everyone’s wages should be raised with respect to the same percentage of each other, so if the Barn Attendant is getting $15, then the Llama Trainer should get 25% over 15 or $18.75, but if you’re a low profit margin llama barn (say, you’re a nonprofit llama barn, or a therapeutic llama barn, or you’re a rescue that takes in neglected/abused/high medical need llamas) you might not have that much slack in your budget to rearrange funds. It’s tough.

      1. LLama Trainer turned Barn Attendant*

        As a former LLama Trainer, this is a spot on analogy that more people should read and understand.

    8. BelleMorte*

      I think it’s important to move the pay upwards and the money that executives get is ridiculous. I kind of get where those people are coming from though. I’ve worked jobs where you are told that you are paid what you are worth, and then fight for years for tiny little increases to your salary. You finally have a “higher” wage and that comes with some minute recognition for all the hard work you have put in over the years, then suddenly you are told that the kid who was hired yesterday with no experience, that you will need to train will get the same amount of money as you.

      I think it’s less about the money, and more about the perceived devaluing of all the work that people put in to get to that point. So 10 years of experience suddenly equals 1 day in terms of the only recognition they get i.e. money.

      It would make more sense COL-wise if everyone received the increase i.e. if the minimum was 10 now it’s 15, everyone should get $5 across the board. Instead it is more, the bottom gets $5, the middle gets 0, the executive get a + 1 million increase.

    9. Holly*

      I understand the concern if wages for those who earn above minimum wage are not also increased.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        That’s usually what happens – they raise wages for the folks being severely underpaid, but then don’t adjust the wages of everyone else who is also underpaid, but just not as severely as the people who got raises.

  43. Postdoc*

    I’m a postdoc in a lab and we recently had a veterinary resident join the lab for one year. Long story short, I volunteered to have her work on my project and share equal credit with her. However, when it came time to schedule experiments, it became clear that she was unable to do any experiments for three months. Given that, I was no longer willing to share equal credit. There is no way we can complete this project in a years timeframe with her not doing anything for three months unless I do the majority of the work. She reacted badly when I told her this and thinks I am being unfair for removing her from the project.

    I do have my boss’s backing. I talked to my boss before removing her from the project and did not act unilaterally. However, I’m unsure how to move forward with this coworker or how much to tell my boss about the interpersonal issues. This coworker is extremely pushy and keeps trying to delegate work to me (my boss already verified that I am in charge of the project, not the other way around). I would prefer to work with her as little as possible moving forward. Is there a good way to make that request to my boss or should I just suck it up as much as possible?

    1. warty toes*

      Is she still working on the project in some way? My experience in science fields is that gentle hints are not always taken – sometimes you have to be very explicit. “This is my project, don’t tell me what to do. If you have a problem, please take up issues with Boss” .
      Does Boss want you to work together? Is coworker still involved in the project, just not as much? You said you were removing her from the project, so do you work together on other things? Sorry, I guess I’m unclear.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Since it seems like you are still working with co-worker, it’s worth addressing the issues with her first, particularly as you are in charge of the project. When she attempts to delegate work to you, say something like:

      “I’ve noticed that you’ve taken to delegating work to me. Since I’m in charge of the project, it’s best that I choose where the work goes. Can you keep that in mind going forwards?”

      But, honestly, this co-worker sounds a little difficult. I’ve got a number of ESL students in academia and I hear this sort of thing all the time – people join the project but then don’t have enough time to devote to the project and it’s all a big annoyance. What one of my students did was deal with the co-worker direct, but there seemed to have been more of a power disparity between them than there is with you and yours. The best thing to do would be to loop your boss in, especially as you have already spoken to them on this matter before. I might say something like:

      “A while ago we spoke about co-worker not being able to properly contribute to the project. I just wanted to let you know that she didn’t take the fact that she wouldn’t be getting equal credit well and thinks that it was unfair of me to remove her from the project. Since then I’ve noticed incidences where she has been pushy and attempted to delegate work [prepare concrete examples] and I’m having trouble thinking about how to proceed. What do you think I should do next?”

      If possible, remove her from the project completely as well. Try and get her out of your lab or office or wherever you work if that’s feasible.

  44. Coffee Nut*

    Question initiated from OP1 today. What are some team building/morale boosting things that DO work?

    I am a newer (1 year) supervisor and my team has really low morale. They have been overworked (especially with summer vacations on top of new Director putting more tasks on everyone), we are customer facing (extra stress), and a government entity (so no budget to do anything fun or exciting). What are some inexpensive options to help release the tension and bring them back to working as a team instead of nitpicking on each other? I don’t mind spending some money out of my pocket (assuming it is a reasonable expense). I do bring in breakfast every so often and try to make it a point to let them know I appreciate them and point out specific examples when I see someone going above and beyond, but I would like to do something that will allow them to regroup.

    For context: The nitpicking is more about how one person does a specific task one way and another person does it a different way so they bicker about how it should be done. I really don’t care how it’s done as long as the end result is correct.

    Also, I do know part of the problem was the stress from working with one employee who is not approachable and hard to work with. She is quick to point out others mistakes, but doesn’t not take feedback for her own very well. This employee is temporarily working in another department and it did alleviate some stress immediately, but this employee may be returning to our department later this month and I want to be on top of stopping any added stress that may come back with her.

    1. Bunny Girl*

      You might not like this answer, but I don’t really think activities really work to boost morale if morale is already just low because of working conditions. I think these kind of activities can help if you already have a good working and functioning team with good morale because they already enjoy being together and working towards a common goal, but I don’t really think going bowling or having the team out for a happy hour is productive if working conditions aren’t great.

      I realize that a lot of this is outside of your control – especially in government. But you said your staff is overworked, so I think you could boost morale by re-prioritizing work loads or hiring additional people, which I know is not always possible or feasible. You say you have someone that no one enjoys working with – you could work to get that person permanently on another team, but that is also difficult to do. I think the only thing you can really do right now is be as flexible and understanding as you can within your role and within your constants – don’t be nit-picky about people’s vacation time, don’t be rigid about things that really don’t need to get done right away, make sure that you have an open door policy that people can come in and talk to you, and set up some individual one-on-one time with your team to really hear their concerns. Good luck mate.

      1. Birch*

        I’m gonna second this. You can’t boost morale because morale is low for a reason. You need to find and address the source of the problem. If pointless nitpicking has become a sort of office culture, you can try to redirect it when you see it by reminding people that they are all responsible for doing the work however it gets done and that as a team you should respect each other’s preferences and ways of working. If the one employee is causing problems for other people, you need to address the nitpicking with her and ask her not to do it. It’s more complicated if your employees are responsible for parts of each other’s work though.

        You sound like a great supervisor though! Keep letting people do things the way that works for t