Labor Day open thread

It’s Labor Day! 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.

{ 579 comments… read them below }

      1. Myrin*

        I think Sparkly means something like she’s decent at Alpaca Grooming but not The Best; it’s just so hairy and sometimes the animals don’t behave and it’s not her favourite part of Alpaca Caring, either, but she’s alright at it anyway. However, her report just is pretty bad at Alpaca Grooming still so Sparkly is wondering how she can best address that without sounding insecure in her own skills or maybe even inviting “You’re not that good at it, either!” arguments.

        (Did I get that right, Sparkly?)

    1. TassieTiger*

      A trick I like to use is encouraging them that they’re not alone in the struggle. “I’ve noticed sometimes your teapots come out with crooked handles. I’m working on that myself, it can be tricky. I rewatched the training videos last week, is that something you think would help you?”

      1. Myrcallie*

        Seconded- as someone who struggles a bit with attention to detail, I often find I’m in a good place to help, because it means I can share the strategies I’ve used myself. My mum’s a maths teacher who was really bad at maths in school, and she’s often said that people who are good at doing something often aren’t the best ones at teaching it, because they don’t get why/where other people might struggle.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Focus on outcomes. What is the desired result?

      You can acknowledge that the result is difficult to achieve and ask what kinds of support structures might be useful to help them get there.

    3. TechWorker*

      I actually think this is one of the easier things to give feedback on – I guess I might be trickier if it’s something you currently have as a major part of your role and are struggling with, but if it’s something you previously struggled with when you were in a more junior role or whatever then you are very well placed to offer advice and improvement strategies.

    4. CastIrony*

      I think it’s great to admit that you struggle, and when I do something like that, I like to tell them that we are learning together as we do the thing as a team.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      “Let’s look at this together, maybe we can help each other figure it out.”
      This is great if it relates to the work itself and you can use a tangible work example. And this also is best when you dovetail well, you understand the parts they don’t understand and they understand the areas you have gaps.

      This may not be so great for intangibles such as having some finesse with clients. You may go into role-play using some of the problem areas as examples.

      I have also done things where I move the learner next to someone who is very good at Topic. I would get the buy-in from that informal trainer person first, of course.

  1. a gdpr person*

    How do I stop myself from being the annoying data protection guy? I’ve been participating in a lot of management meetings and decision making processes, and find myself raising gdpr related issues most times. I try to explain the background of each issue, and suggest alternatives. So far, my bosses have been receptive and don’t seem to mind so much. Yet, I think this might not last.

    How do I shield myself from becoming “that guy” in the eyes of upper management when it is basically my job to raise all the reasons they can’t do something? It’s only ~25% of my job, anyways.

    1. Flash Bristow*

      How physically approachable are you? In the workplaces I’ve been, especially when mainly open plan, anyone dealing with DP or IT security issues (or anything else where they might require confidential discussions or for their screen to not be visible) are tucked away, so you don’t naturally pass them en route to the water cooler or whatever.

      I totally understand that their work requires privacy and discretion, of course, but if you don’t tend to be able to say a casual “hi” in passing, it makes a big difference in vibe / perception than if you do. At least in my experience.

      The other thing is, if it’s that kind of place, to join in with after work pops to the pub – just so it’s making you more personable and approachable in general. Or maybe tag along to lunch semi-regularly if that’s appropriate.

      People will understand you’re just doing your job and in some cases you will have to be quite firm / precise / private about things. If you’re friendly the rest of the time then you won’t be perceived as a mean data protection guy who is always raising flags, because they know that’s just one side to you and what your work requires.

      Hope that helps?

      1. a gdpr person*

        the other 75% of my job are software developer and first level support, so I have a pretty open and approachable going way most of the time. My office is also rather central and people can and do come by it often, so I’d like to think I’m fairly approachable.

        I do have a lockable closet (with a proper lock) and my screen isn’t visible from the hallway, though.

        I think *for now* everyone is aware that it’s just my job and I’m doing it thoroughly. I’m just not sure how to properly walk the tightrope between being cordial and approachable and easy to work with and enforcing the regulatory requirements thoroughly. My role is an advisory one, so I don’t have direct authority, but so far management has followed all of my recommendations to the letter.

        1. Observer*

          One thing that helps is to explain it in a way that helps them understand how THEY benefit.

          It’s similar to getting people to take security in the office seriously and to follow guideline. Something that many security trainers find useful is to train people on how to keep themselves secure at home, and explain how that transfers to work. Or to do the training as how to keep safe at work and at home. When people begin to understand why clicking on random links, for instance, is bad for them personally, it makes it more likely that they’ll be careful at work.

          Same thing here – think about YOUR data, and treat this the same way, more or less.

    2. Database Developer Dude*

      It all depends on your management, and on how you bring it up. I am That Guy ™ in my Army Reserve unit, because (US) Army regulations clearly prohibit conducting military business with commercial email (,, etc)… and I *try* to enforce it, and fail. No matter how respectfully I bring up the regs, and the good reasons therefore, and provide alternatives, the senior leadership of my unit will do what they want.

      1. Clay on my apron*

        That’s okay, if your job is to make people aware but not to enforce. It’s similar to my role. I will do the research and tell you that your Llama Farmer customers struggle with keeping records of their llama family trees. If you choose to instead build a product that enables them to manage the llama grooming process… which they do not want or need… that is your indaba.

    3. Reba*

      If I understand, you don’t want to be perceived as a broken record or a wet blanket… always shooting down plans bc of the rules? Is that it?

      Another way of seeing it is that you are an expert whom they rely on to notice and talk them through this stuff to avoid breaking the law!

      Maybe it’s time for a big picture chat with the boss — “I’ve realized that I seem to bring up GDPR over and over. What’s your sense of how other departments are receiving this feedback? Do you think it’s time to develop some guidelines so these needs are more baked-in to project planning?”

      1. Shiny Carvanha*

        If it helps, in my org, I’m one of the people you are talking about, and your equivalent has done a really good job of explaining why we need to care about GDPR. Your team really likes me because I notice when we’re potentially walking the borders of what’s acceptable GDPR-wise and make sure we get in touch with your team and ensure we’re doing what we need to do.

        The GDPR people did a lot of awareness-raising and lunch and learns and things whichn helped, any way you could do something like that?

    4. Matilda Jefferies*

      I find it helpful, instead of saying “no” all the time, rephrase it as “this is what will happen if we do this.”

      So instead of “no, we can’t remove the firewall,” you say “if we remove the firewall, we’ll leave ourselves more vulnerable to internet security threats.” Same message, but without the word No – it’s a bit more palatable that way.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        And if you can add, “if instead, we….” so you’re also offering a solution and using “we” so you sound like a team member, which you are, you may feel less like a grammar-school hall monitor.

        1. TechWorker*

          Yep definitely go for ‘we’. You may well do this already but ‘this plan won’t work I’m afraid. We need to obey GDPR which means doing x,y, z instead’ sounds much better than ‘your plan doesn’t work, you have to obey GDPR’.

      2. Beatrice*

        I’ve had to be really careful with “yes, but” answers, especially with people who aren’t technical. They have to clearly understand (or you have to clearly explain) the possible outcome you’re forecasting. If they don’t understand it, they won’t tell you (or they may not realize they don’t fully understand it).

        I had a coworker for a while who started saying “yes, but” instead of “no” without watching out for that, and he wound up with a bunch of people who stopped listening at “yes” and assumed the “but” stuff was no big deal and former coworker could take care of it, because they really didn’t understand everything he said, but of course he would have just said “no” if it was something major. Like, “yes, I could leave the lugnuts off your wheels, but then the wheels are just going to fall off a few miles down the road” – and they were meant to understand that was a Bad Thing and they shouldn’t do it, but they heard “yes, we can do that, Henry will just have to keep putting our wheels back on.” (Then he became my boss, and his inability to just say “no” started to affect me directly, and that’s one of a dozen reasons I transferred to another job.)

      3. Kat*

        This is good. Also, add that you’re trying to keep the company from doing something that will come back to bite them in the future.

    5. BRR*

      I would try and brainstorm after saying why something isn’t feasible. “We can’t do this because of X but what about if we explored y?”

    6. Gaia*

      Don’t stop yourself from being that guy! As your friendly data manager, I wish more people were that guy (or girl!).

      How to shield yourself? Remind them there are LAWS about this. California Consumer Protection Act, GDPR, and several more in the works. It is better to be out ahead of these laws and almost all of them require “data protection/privacy by design” not as an afterthought.

    7. Clay on my apron*

      If you’re invited to the meetings to present the data protection viewpoint, I really don’t think you should worry. That’s why you are there. I do second the suggestions that you use language like “this will happen if we don’t adhere” and have suggestions at the ready instead of “no we can’t”.

    8. Beatrice*

      >Talk to your boss about what the reception/feedback has been like for the kind of input you’ve given so far.
      >Ask how you can help raise GDPR awareness among the management team in general.
      >Try to understand how GDPR fits into their strategy/vision for the company – how much buy-in do you have? Do they want to align with best practices no matter what, or do they want to use best practices when it’s convenient but leave room for risk if it’s getting in the way of meeting other objectives? Do they want creative solutions from you to minimize risk (and what’s your comfort level with that?)
      >Consider hosting a couple of short (30 min) informational sessions on GDPR, and/or publishing a brief document on GDPR awareness. When I do these with my own area of expertise, I focus on 3 things – giving them the basics – including why it should be important to them, giving them a common lexicon to use, and helping them understand clear, simple standards. Those three things are what they need to start discussing it among themselves, and holding each other accountable for including compliance in my subject area in their plans, even when I’m not in the room. Once they start doing that, I stop being the annoying person who won’t shut up about compliance, and start being the person who facilitates a compliance discussion everyone is invested in.

      When I’m presenting these ideas to my management team, I am extremely careful to make liberal use of visuals and analogies to make the information accessible to them, as people without the level of technical understanding that I have. Sometimes I recruit help from someone else nontechnical with good communication skills to make sure I’ve got it right. I can’t overstate the importance of analogies, at least in my own organization… one time I was trying for days to explain that doing XYZ was technically possible, but would require a staggering amount of rework to make it happen correctly. I finally compared it to unraveling an entire sweater and then having to re-knit the whole thing, and you could see the light bulbs going on and suddenly everyone was on board with not doing XYZ. That might be a quirk of where I am, not sure, I’ve been here a long long time, but people seem to really catch on to ideas better when you present them as part of a real-life story they can see in their heads and relate to instead of just the bald idea on its own.

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      Revel in it! Bathe in the goodness of gdpr :D

      Seriously… yeah, had same issue. People got to know I was a bit geeky about it, but recognising – audibly and publically – their concerns and recognising them as valid went a long way to helping smooth it over.

      Also “we” statements are your friend.

    10. Wintermute*

      I think a bit part of it is attitude and how you raise things, same as a legal department or HR or any other department that has to tell sometimes very senior management “are you crazy? do you WANT to be sued, then arrested, then sued and arrested at the same time?” Being upbeat, presenting potential solutions rather than just vetoing ideas, discussing what you could do to MAKE something work (as long as it can be made to work). Don’t say ‘we can’t implement that big new shiny data analytics suite a vendor was pitching you last week” when what you mean is “While we couldn’t do that for every customer we could do it for people with loyalty cards that signed our data collection waiver and we have opt-ins from”

      Also, framing, I deal with sometimes annoying security stuff, I like to make sure I’m not just talking negatives, “by doing this we mitigate X dollars in risks” is a better framing than “if we don’t do this we risk losing X dollars”. It’s just a psychological thing, people love savings, hate costs, so frame things in terms of how much you’re saving them by protections, talk about the “customer goodwill and brand name” section of your financial reporting documents where your company’s accountants might have put a hard dollar value on the worth of the trust your company has earned. Pitch to your market, for financial guys talk about hard dollar values of data and the numbers involved in risks, that’s their language. To IT guys talk about architectural perspectives, that’s their language, and so on.

      that’s my best advice.

    11. Akcipitrokulo*

      Also sometimes you can be the guy that finds a way to say yes!

      “Actually… we may not need explicit consent on that… that sounds like a legitimate interest if we do the paperwork on it…?”

    12. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      As long as you’re approachable and offer solutions instead of just problems you’ll be fine.

      You may also consider providing a startup template that prevents some of the more common issues. That way your discussion can be more of a tailoring event specific to the project, and you won’t feel that you’re constantly rehashing the same concerns.

    13. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      I am a data person, though the thing I’m That Gal about is data integrity instead of data security. You might be able to adapt some of my phrases. My attitude is basically “How can I make this request happen without breaking the database and/or the data.”
      1. Focusing on the desired outcome rather than the specific data. Sometimes I can do what the person really wants (but just didn’t know it).
      2. “Unfortunately this database doesn’t have anywhere to upload data of this type which I agree is a deficiency. What I’ve done in the past is attached a document with this type of data, which is the best we can do.”
      3. “Updating the records in this way would violate the database’s business rules. Is there a specific need for this type of reporting?”
      And then depending on their answer, a) “This is a reasonable scenario and I can use a work-around.” b) “You goals would be better achieved by this other type of reporting you might not be aware of.”

      1. Database Developer Dude*

        Just out of curiosity, would you mind giving an exposition of what you mean by data integrity? I’ve recently come into conflict because of my understanding of it, and the difference between it and data quality.

        Data quality, to me, says that if there’s a field in a people database for gender, that only M, F, or whatever accepted indicator is there (for instance, my state is about to allow X for transgender folk).

        Data integrity, to me, says that if you pull up the record for Database Developer Dude, that field will only have an M in it because I’m an M.

        — Does that sound reasonable to you?

    14. Marissa*

      I’m a little late to the party here, but especially with something newer like gdpr I like it when we do an office lunch and learn. It’s more work for you, but it’s a great way to gather everyone together and talk about how gdpr has changed the way people do business online, especially if you can give some examples of how other companies have already run afoul of the regulations. Hopefully it’ll help your higher ups be able to issue spot and ask you about those things proactively instead of you feeling like you’re shooting things down.

  2. Knitter*

    I found out a few weeks ago that my job is changing significantly. I understand the reasons for the change and support them. But I’m not going to be doing what I want to do and the job is nothing like what I was hired for (and I probably wouldn’t have applied for it).
    All that said, I had a conversation with my boss that was successful! I told her my concerns and shared some specific ideas on what I want to be doing. While I still have a new focus, she will be making changes to the position so that I can continue the work I want to be doing.
    I am really happy I did this. Some time had passed between the initial conversation and when I was able to put my feelings into (professional) words. I was worried that I missed my chance, but I didn’t!
    We’ll see how the changes pan out. I’m still not taking applying for other jobs off the table, but I’m hopeful.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      This happened to me in my old job, but sadly conversations with my boss did not work out as favorably. I’m glad that you had a positive result!

  3. Mimmy*

    My immediate supervisor, Penny and our director, Leonard, have never really seen eye-to-eye on a lot of things, which I’ve found difficult to navigate. It’s hard to do your job effectively when your supervisor suggests one thing and the director (who I turn to when Penny is out) suggests something different. But this past week has gone to a whole new level.

    About a year ago, a couple of the instructors led a move to change how our scheduled periods are structured. I got used to it but I know many others aren’t too fond of it as it is now. So last month, Penny–the person who oversees the schedules–was able to convince Leonard that not everyone likes this format. So an optional survey was created – we were to say whether or not we want the schedule changed and offer any suggestions. The survey was anonymous.

    Penny shared with me last week that everyone who responded wanted changes. Yet, it appears Leonard isn’t going to take any action for the time being. It seems he is the only one who likes the schedule structure. I get it…he’s the director and has final say. However, I find it very insulting to solicit feedback and not even consider making changes when the majority indicates change is desired.

    I’m not going to say anything though, at least not until the issue is brought up as a group. Meanwhile, I need to figure out how to navigate 1) the conflicting info from Penny and Leonard and 2) my own frustrations of how little our input seems to matter.

    Oh, here’s the kicker – the two instructors who wanted this change to begin with are no longer working for us! (one was let go, the other had personal issues).

    1. Sheldon*

      Those employee surveys would be great if the feedback was actually taken into consideration. I participated in one at my last job, and from what I had heard many of us brought up many of the same issues. I left a couple months after we did it, but as far as I know, management just distributed the survey, got mad over being called out for the horrible office politics and the ineffective way they ran things, and then just simmered instead of trying to take that feedback and do anything about it.

      Is there a way to ask Penny if they can have the discussion again about the schedule? Maybe a group discussion looking at the positives and negatives of it? I think it would be great if employers who distribute these surveys would then consider possible changes to be made and then actually make an effort to work on that feedback.

    2. Aly_b*

      It sounds like this survey might have been to give Penny the data she needed to try to convince Leonard, and it seems like she’s going to bat for you on this. I wouldn’t see it as an insult that she’s not getting traction with Leonard to make the change. Frustrating, yes, but not an insult. It may be that Leonard has reasons you and Penny aren’t seeing, or it may be that he’s just a jerk. Either way, currently you’re in the same less than ideal scheduling situation you’ve been in for what sounds like a couple of years. It may be that Leonard will come around, but in the meantime, this is probably just what it is and he’s not scheduling *at* you.

    3. Not A Manager*

      “Penny shared with me last week that ***everyone who responded*** wanted changes.”

      It’s not shocking that the only people who can be assed to respond to an optional survey are people who want change. Penny sounds like a bit of a sh*t-stirrer.

      “Yet, it appears Leonard isn’t going to take any action ***for the time being.*** It seems ***he is the only one*** who likes the schedule structure.” Maybe. Or maybe he really isn’t taking any action based on flawed data collection, and is waiting on making changes. The new system has been in place for a year, and apparently Penny only got through to him last month that there’s any dissatisfaction.

      If I were you, I’d try to forget what Penny shared about this. I think it’s too likely to be biased and misleading, and it’s not actually your business. If that’s not feasible, then I think ~someone~ should organize an actual conversation about this as a policy. Right now, you’re talking about the “instructors” who dislike this system, and the director who likes it. Are there other stakeholders? What about the instructees? Is this system better for them? Are there financial reasons or structural ones to prefer it?

      In general, this is why I personally think you should give your director a lot of leeway in your own mind about the reasons underlying this decision. You’re just not in the best position to know them all. But if really the ONLY issue is instructor convenience, then I think you need a larger conversation with more of the instructors.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is a mom and dad situation. And honestly, that is how I have navigated it.

      I avoided my Leonard as much as possible. When I did talk with him I did tried to avoid conversations about stuff that was controversial.

      I chose to deal with my direct supervisor 99.9% of the time. I held at the forefront of my thinking that she needed words, ideas, etc to deal with Leonard. So I always kept my thinking cap on. And I watched my Leonard. He had certain types of ideas that he loved and we could count on that. I seized as many opportunities
      as I could to pick an idea that he would like.

      Now, let’s say I got cornered. Supervisor said “Do X” and Big Boss catches me doing X. A stink is raised.
      Here, I would say to the Big Boss, “I don’t have any preference about X, I just want to do a good job and be of value to the company. Let me know what you two decide.”
      If I did have a preference, I would sometimes ask the big boss for his thoughts, but it was usually under extreme conditions. “Well, Boss if I don’t do X then there is a chance fire will break out. I absolutely have to clean the wax off of that tube or the collected wax could overheat and cause a fire. If there is a better way to do it, then I am all ears.”
      Again, notice the willingness to go along with what is needed- this saved me from getting in trouble. (Dirty little secret: I knew for a fact I was right. But in order to win the debate, I had to give him space to think it through for a moment.)

      And there were times I would say to my supervisor, “If Big Boss catches me doing X then he is going to raise an issue.” So she would tell me how to handle it quietly.

      Sadly a good rule of thumb is unless bosses see that a change saves them money or massive time, they probably are not interested. So you could talk with your supervisor on how to motivate this boss to see the light regarding the schedule. Perhaps there is a middle of the road answer that is a mix of the old way and the new way that would satisfy everyone. You can encourage her to get him to clearly articulate why he objects.

      Now let’s say there is an important issue where Supervisor and I agree, but Big Boss disagrees. I would go talk with her and ask her if we could develop a strategy to convert the Big Guy. In your example here, you can plant the seed in Penny’s ear that people are grumbling about how the survey meant nothing. Why ask if you have no plan on making any change? And you can talk about why the old schedule was important to people.

      This requires blowing the cobwebs out of the brain before going into these conversations. I found that many conversations were on a par with “Two apples plus two apples equals four apples. Here, I will show you a diagram so you can see for yourself.” I had to get through conversations explaining that the grass is green and the sky is blue without losing my cool or crying in frustration. Practice in front of the mirror. Or write it out on paper the night before. And it is also helpful to think about things that would persuade you to change your mind if you had a firm stance about something. I know consistently for myself, if someone shows me that either x or y are fine, and it does not matter this will persuade me to loosen a grip on my own idea. Most people have this aspect to their personality where there is some sort of rationale that resonates with them. It’s just a matter of figuring out what resonates.

  4. Green Tricycle*

    I enjoy my job even though it’s high stress and 50-60 hours a week. I am one of the highest paid in my company.

    I have come to learn staff I manage basically make as much as me. I have childcare expenses deducted out of my paycheck which result in our take home being the same. I guess it irks me as these all receive state assistance food, child care, and living expenses. I obviously don’t qualify as a large amount of my check is going directly to childcare.

    My employer covers a small amount of the cost (5-10%) wherever the industry norm for this benefit is usually 50% or fully covered. This may sound petty but I feel the systems are completely unfair.

    Just really needed to get this off my chest.

    1. Agnodike*

      Is paying for your own childcare not the norm in your country? If so I can totally understand the frustration. Where I live, paying for childcare is usually the responsibility of the parents. (It did take me awhile to get over the sticker shock the first time I got the daycare bill, though!!) I totally agree that there’s room to consider how much of the costs associated with working while parenting (like daycare, extra sick days when your kid can’t go to care, etc) should be borne by the state and how much should be an individual family’s responsibility, regardless of someone’s income.

      I don’t think it’s the case that your staff make as much as you do, though. How much you make isn’t determined by how much you have left after you pay your essential expenses. If my mortgage is twice what my colleague’s is, I don’t make less than she does, I just spend my money differently. If someone’s receiving a state-sponsored benefit for which they qualify, they’re not making more, they’re spending less.

    2. Dr. Anonymous*

      There are a couple of ways to look at this that may make you feel better. The first is that it’s the children who are getting the aid because their parents can’t afford to provide this care. The second is that eventually your kids will outgrow the need for day cate and you can spend your money on something else, though that may be music lessons and tournament soccer teams.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Yes, this is what I was thinking as well. Expensive childcare is temporary. I can see how this is frustrating, but ultimately it’s a good thing for you to have a higher salary and a good thing that your coworkers are able to get the assistance that they need.

    3. Goose Lavel*

      I think it’s all about perspective and how you see things relating to yourself and others. I also worked typically 60 hours a week in a very high stress job.

      I’m curious how you know they receive the benefit you listed and I’m also curious if/why you don’t receive the same benefits.

      Sounds to me like you have a great employer that is taking care of its people.
      Would you feel different about your staff if you were working 40 hours a week?

    4. I hate coming up with usernames*

      How do you know what their assistance and bills are like for their housing and food assistance? I think it’s likely you’re making some inaccurate assumptions here – many people who have never needed those sort of programs have very wrong ideas about what they’re for, how much they actually help with, etc.

    5. WellRed*

      Hmm, if your paycheck is the same AFTER you have childcare expenses deducted (how do you know this, btw?), then NO, they aren’t making as much as you. And, if these people are getting some type of assistance that you aren’t (again, how do you know this), maybe it’s because your company pays crap wages.
      I think you are feeling unhappy in your job and should maybe examine that rather than crap all over your staff.

    6. LilySparrow*

      So a significant number of your employees are working full time, but still need food stamps and a welfare subsidy to keep their children fed and housed?

      No wonder your take-home pay is crap. Your employer has structured their pay scale to systematically shift the burden of paying their workers onto the taxpayer. You’re not going to get a fair shake from a company like that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. I think what you are writing about here is a symptom…. a symptom of new-job-itis. I may be reading this wrong but it sounds like you lose 5-10% of pay to your child care costs and that brings your check down to the level of those below you. This to me says you are not paid a lot anyway. How many people answer to you?
        Again, I could be reading this wrong.

        Or you could ask your employer to meet industry norms. But honestly, if my people were on food stamps I would be pushing for healthy raises for them, too. (And I did.)

        1. Grapey*

          Or I’m wondering what the difference in child care costs could be. Maybe employees are getting free $750/month bottom of the licensed barrel childcare while OP is choosing to pay 3K for somewhere else. We see this with public schools vs people that can afford to send their kids elsewhere.

    7. Bg*

      In some fields the line between employee and middle management can just cross the barrier of qualifying for financial supports.
      There is a reason this a national conversation. I am currently paying nearly all of my salary for my kids’ daycare. I really enjoy my work and also factor in the importance continuing to contribute to retirement. But it’s hard to justify paying that much for daycare.

    8. myug*

      Yeah, but does their paycheck have childcare expenses taken out? If not, they are NOT making as much as you since they will now need to pay for childcare and general living as well. It should not irk you that these people cannot afford to take care of their families without government assistance.

      If they didn’t get the assistance, do you think they could pay for childcare?

    9. Dancing Otter*

      Your employer picks up 5-10% when the industry standard is 50% or more?????

      First, are you sure about that 50%? I don’t know any industry in the States that does that routinely. (But maybe you aren’t in the US.) If that information is correct, why is your employer so far out of the norm? Rather than resenting your subordinates for finding other assistance, why aren’t you addressing that issue?

      As others have said far better, the measure isn’t take-home but gross salary. If I choose to max out my retirement contributions, that doesn’t mean I *make* less money.

  5. AJ*

    One of the managers at my workplace (think teapot manufacturing company) wears a hat every day with the All American Roughneck logo. It is “aar” with the “r” shaped like a gun (if you go to their website, it’s at the top of the page). He wears it even to customer meetings and it seems very unprofessional. Is this something that should be addressed? I am at the same level, but in a different department.

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      What’s the concern with being unprofessional. Is it the hat or is it the logo on the hat?

    2. Reba*

      I mean, A of all, wearing a baseball cap in a customer meeting seems off to me, even in a casual workplace… Let alone with a prominent logo… Let alone with a logo suggestive of violence!

      But as to whether it’s worthwhile to address, that’s very hard to say.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Having read the “about us” page on that site, I think that if your company has allowed him to wear that hat up until now, and if the customers haven’t commented on it, that tells you a lot about the ethos of your workplace. I wouldn’t spend capital on this one.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Sounds about right. I’d be uncomfortable with it too, but I very much doubt any change will be made until or unless clients/customers say something, and that doesn’t seem likely.

        1. Artemesia*

          It is inappropriate to wear a baseball hat indoors to client meetings and doubly so to have one that shows a gun — but unless you are the boss, not your monkey.

          1. Seriously?*

            Yesterday I was watching a Presidential briefing on Hurricane Dorian. Attendees were NOAA and Emergency Management. The oresudent wire a cap that sid USA. I guess he never got the memo that you don’t wear hats indoors. He was also very rumpled and had his arms crossed in front of his chest the whole time. Of couse no asked him the impact of his recent diversion if FEMA funds to ICE.

  6. ES*

    I’m starting a new job tomorrow in my first ever management position, I’m a late-twenties white woman who will be mostly managing older black women in a child care center. Any tips for how I can be effective? I’m expecting some pushback based on what the higher ups have told me, and I want to be sensitive to the situation while still getting the center back on track.

    1. Almond Mocha*

      I have managed two different centers as a Director. My biggest piece of advice would be not to change everything at once and when changing something, explain not only why it will benefit the children but them as well. And be patient, none of the changes will work overnight. Many of these individuals have their ways ingrained into them. One last thing, just like the children, always give more positive than negative. Best of luck!

    2. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

      Invest in multicultural and diversity sensitivity and communication training for yourself (there are plenty of free courses online). Based on your statement I wonder if the higher-ups suggested your difficulties will be race-related. I hope that’s not the case, but just in case, you definitely want to make sure your changes recognize the culture you are working with.

      1. Seriously?*

        I’d also be aware if this is a systemic issue: white management and with black people in the lower paid positions. Not saying that is the case, but if it is, that sort of institutional racism will have a huge impact.

    3. knitter*

      Several years ago I had a job managing staff with significantly more years in the field than I had (umm, and maybe had started in the field years before I was born). I was also following a boss who had created a toxic work environment. I had to work hard to build trust. So I did two things–I listened to my staff’s ideas and I was very transparent about my decision making. Since you are at a daycare, things have to be structured a specific way for learning and safety. Identify a couple of guiding goals you can communicate to your staff and connect changes back to them. In a few months, have a staff meeting to assess progress and get feedback. In the mean time, get to know your staff as individuals. As you do, if there is anything that the staff does that maybe is different that you would, ask nonjudgmental questions (obviously not if safety is an issue). I benefitted from seeing my staff as people I can learn from because they were on the ground doing the work and seeing things I wasn’t. One of the things I learned is that we had different but equally valuable roles in the organization. Since I was managing, my job was to keep us directed toward our goals. Their jobs was to do the direct work with our clients really well.

      I think because of the race and power dynamics, you need to make sure you are familiar with microaggressions and do some internal work to identify your biases. Make no assumptions about the women you are managing and let your first few weeks be about getting to know them. Because white, middle class culture is the default cultural frame of reference (ie-it’s what tv/movies, etc sets up as the norm and thus “right”) there are assumptions you might make about things that are “good” and “bad”, but they are actually just elements of your culture (that maybe you haven’t had the chance to consciously evaluate/identify because it is accepted as the norm). So if you have a visceral negative response to something, take some time to think about where the response is coming from.
      NPR’s code switch podcast, especially the first episode and the episode on the “explanatory comma”, might be a good resource.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Because this is a childcare center, OP does need to prioritize the cultural expectation of the clients in how their children will be treated.

        When a daycare center is “off track” and requires a management shakeup, that implies to me that there are some very serious problems.

        It is good to be aware that some if the problems that OP is being brought in to “get back on track” may have an element of cultural expectation involved, and be aware of how she communicates around them. But she can’t place the carer’s cultural norms above those of the children’s own parents, or center policy.

        There are a number of things that are cultural differences in rearing your own children, but clearly, objectively good or bad (and in some cases, illegal) when taking care of other people’s children.

        1. ES*

          Yes, there have been some very serious issues regarding the safety of the children (I don’t want to give any identifying details), and that’s why things are changing at the management level. While I do want to take my time getting to know the staff, some changes will have to be made immediately in order to stay in compliance. This is a hard line to walk, I don’t want to step on any toes but there are some major problems to address.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            As much as possible involve them in finding solutions.
            This takes time because you have to build trust also.

            I had a crew that had broken trust. So I watched very carefully. And they did test me. They came to me with simple things and watched how I handled those simple things. These were things where the answer was obvious but I answered it like I would any question, with sincerity and information.

            I referred to our group as an us or a we. So this worked it to, “It’s super important that we all stay safe during our work day. Please bring safety concerns to me, so that we can deal with it as soon as possible.”
            Since you do have safety issues, make safety a daily topic. Don’t forget safety includes things like staff taking full breaks and not working off the clock. Safety includes having the proper materials and equipment.
            Going back to my own example out of my life. So they would bring me a small tool that was not working correctly. I would get them something else to use until the tool could be fixed. Sometimes I just had to throw the tool out and I did so in front of them because of safety. Now, they had been at their jobs for a while, so you would think they would know to do that. But because of toxic conditions they did not know to do that or they were not allowed to do that.
            For me the key to a good launch was how i handled the small stuff. I never yelled across the room to get someone’s attention. I walked over to them. They noticed, believe me, they noticed.

            It was helpful to me to think of myself as doing customer service. I am here to serve these people how best can I serve each one? Sometimes it meant correcting an action, so they did the correct thing and were able to keep their jobs. I did it quietly and I told them what to do going forward. I always explained the reason why. Other times it was better if I just asked why they did something a certain way.

            Figure on at least 6 to 9 months of getting to know each other. It’s not without tension. As others have said, the more transparent you are the easier things will go. It gets tiring explaining reasons for things but keep explaining. You are building a better tomorrow.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Oh, yeah and no gossiping. EVER. Do not talk about anyone who is not present at the moment. If someone asks you about a third party you can explain that you won’t be gossiping about others because it’s not good if you do. Or you can stall, “They will be back later and you can ask them when they come back.”

    4. Artemesia*

      I would sit down with each woman separately within the first week and ask them about their observations, what they think is working very well at the center and if there are any changes they would like to see. Be very open to hearing their ideas; don’t promise anyone any particular change but indicate that when someone new comes in it is always a good moment to take stock and see if there any changes that would be useful. Observe for at least a month before actually instituting changes and let them know that you are taking their observations into account and will take some time getting to know the place before implementing any of their ideas. Then if anyone makes recommendations that align with what you think needs done, do that first and credit them (if they wish — clear that with them) and if they don’t want to be publicly associated, say ‘this was an idea that came out when I talked with staff’. Then proceed slowly with anything else that looks important to do. During that month observing the operation notice who seems to have influence and informal power and use that knowledge in your own decision making.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Given what the OP says, it sounds like she doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for a month before making changes – there are serious safety issues that need to be addressed immediately. Given that, I would go for transparency – be clear about the necessary changes, why they need to be made, and the consequences for not doing it (ie, being shut down for non compliance and everyone being out of work). Go in with the attitude that the employees are your allies in the changes – of course they want the kids to be safe and to keep their jobs – and don’t feel guilty about blaming the situation on previous management if it helps!

        Aside from that, listen to the employees, and be willing to talk one on one, prioritize the changes and take suggestions when possible.

        And keep in mind – sometimes the person making unpleasant but necessary changes can’t be a good long term manager. So it might be that they need you to bring things up to scratch, and then move on so that a new manager, with a clean slate, can move in for the longer term.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      Don’t come in hot with lots of changes right away. Start by observing, asking questions (genuine questions that you don’t know the answers to, NOT quizzing them on things they should know). Respect that they have worked there for a long time and have knowledge and methods that are valuable. Start changes slowly and prioritize so you’re not up-ending everything all at once. Explain why changes need to be made in order to get buy in from your employees. If you try to force too many changes from above right away you’re just going to get resentment and they won’t actually follow through with what you need changed.

  7. SoontobeSAHM*

    Sooo I’m handing in my notice tomorrow! I’m really excited because I’m going to be staying home with my kid (my husband has been doing that, but unexpectedly got an awesome job and I’ve been thinking about leaving mine anyway). But I’m also insanely nervous. I haven’t not had a 9-5 in a decade, plus I know work is not going to be happy. They’re going to try to be supportive of my choice, but I think secretly a lot of people are going to feel that I’m setting women back by doing this. Also, I’m of course nervous about going back to work in a few years…so… anyone have stories of leaving their jobs for kids and/or successful workforce reentry? I will take any and all advice on the topic.

    1. Agnodike*

      Give yourself a good month or so to feel like you’re in the rhythm of this new job. Approach it like any other job change: ask your spouse in detail about the schedule/routine he’s got going, and try to adapt to that as much as you can. Make a list of “other duties” that you’ll need to get done besides keeping you kid alive and figure out ways to create efficiencies (my signature move was starting a load of laundry or taking five minutes to clean something every time we changed activities). Be prepared to be much more tired than you think you’re going to be going in – you can have bathroom breaks and snacks whenever you want on a 9-5, but depending on how old your kid is, that may not be a thing for you in this new gig.

      Also the idea that doing work within the home is “setting women back” is some profoundly anti-feminist BS. Work that has historically been done by women for free is undervalued and, when it’s professionalized (nursing, midwifery, primary education, childcare, cleaning), profoundly underpaid. That’s not because it’s not a vital part of keeping our society running, it’s because persistent societal misogyny has led to the assumption that if it’s “women’s work,” it must be easy to do and therefore not worth valuing highly. So any time someone makes you feel less-than for choosing this work, you can just quietly shake your head at their internalized misogyny and disregard their opinion immediately.

      1. Gaia*

        “Also the idea that doing work within the home is “setting women back” is some profoundly anti-feminist BS.”


        Feminism is about empowering women to make the choice that is right for THEM. Not about someone else telling them what that choice should be. As long as she is actually making the choice (and not being pressured into making that choice) then it is no one else’s place to say a word about it. And choosing to be a stay at home partner/parent/whatever is not “setting women back” – refusing to value the work done wherever the work is done is setting HUMANITY back.

        1. Margaret*

          An additional thought on this: the goal (on a societal level) should NOT be that no parents stay home. The goal should be that everyone is making the choice that actually makes them fulfilled, and in my opinion the sign of that would be having roughly equal numbers of men and women being stay at home parents. Your family is doing that! You took turns – you husband stayed home, now you’re staying home. You’re treating the role as equally valid for men or women, and a valuable role at that, and both participating in that and in working, that’s exactly what feminism is about.

          1. NACSACJACK*

            I think what you and your husband are doing is awesome! How is it okay for him to be a stay at home dad but for you not to be? It’s shared responsibility. Given the cost of daycare, whichever parent can stay at home should be able to do so. Make sure to set up an IRA for yourself to contribute to while you are unaffliated with a 401K.

    2. Life is Good*

      After working full-time in banking for 15 years, I took 8 years off to rear our two kids. I never really considered what my returning to work options were….kind of dumb on my part. My husband did not make a lot of money, but we did ok. When the kids were in elementary school, we discovered my husband’s insurance plan (teacher) for us was just way too expensive to afford. That’s when I went back to work part-time in banking to pay for health insurance – and, that was all it paid for! I was lucky the job market was such that I could insist that I be done with my workday in enough time to be home to meet the school bus. They are grown, now, and I work in a different industry where my skill set was relevant, and I do ok. I have put aside 20-30% of my income in various retirement vehicles from the time I went back to work, so I wouldn’t lag behind in that area. I have some college, but no degree.

      We were lucky in that we were on the same page about our not having much disposable income during the kid rearing years. Your situation sounds like that won’t be a problem. The one thing that was hard for me was the isolation of being the only adult in the room most days. I took the kids to library story hours and the park a lot, selfishly to be among other adults. Our neighborhood was deserted during the workday. My experience is 20+ years old, but I’m suspecting this is the same today.

      Who gives a crap what the others in your office think about setting women back. You and your family need to do what is right for you. Congratulations on having that choice!

      1. Grapey*

        I don’t think bringing your kids to parks etc as selfish – that’s showing your kid how to interact with other adults. My mom brought me on public transit and to her jobs (as delivery driver and cleaning houses mostly) in the summer out of necessity as a single mother, and watching her navigate the world trained me a lot more than I think kids with few strangers in their routine get.

        1. Agnodike*

          When I was a SAHP, I made tons of decisions that were both selfish AND good for my kid. Going to places where I’d be around other adults definitely fell into that category. It was great for my kid – and it was also primarily motivated by my needs rather than hers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. I think we need a better dialogue about parents – especially mothers – being allowed to be selfish, as long as they’re not actively hurting their kids. Right now, I see a lot of “as long as your kid benefits, it’s not selfish,” whichI think isn’t necessarily true and also reinforces the message that kids’ needs are always paramount, which shouldn’t be the case.

          1. Life is Good*

            You are both absolutely right! I DID need adult company in order to be a not-bored Mom, so you’re right….it wasn’t one bit selfish.

          2. Baru Cormorant*

            I’m so baffled by the idea that that is “selfish.” I don’t think kids’ needs/desires should be paramount most of the time, especially if safety isn’t a factor. Most of my early childhood was spent going with mom to the supermarket, going with mom clothes shopping, going with mom to the hardware store, going with mom to the bank, going with mom to pick up sibling from a friend’s house… Not everything has to be some kind of “enrichment” when what the kid needs is to not be left unattended.

    3. it happens*

      How exciting! No advice on getting used to sahm-life, but a little on the staying ready to get back to work when the time comes. iRelaunch is a good resource and has hints for staying professionally up-to-date. A few: keeping up with colleagues (occasional emails, coffee,) professional volunteer work (leading committees, doing the marketing plan, etc.,) keeping up with or joining the professional societies for your career (and being active to keep your name out there) and finding a meetup or two that helps you to expand your network for when you want to go back. Essentially, don’t stop your professional development even though you’re not in the office. Hope all goes well with your notice period (maybe they’ll want you for a few hours a week remote?)

    4. Just a Guy in a Cube*

      Yay! And good luck! I spent about 6 1/2 years as a Stay at Home Dad after ~5 years of office job. (I had a couple clients I did some very part-time work for a few times. I’m honestly not sure if putting self-employed consultant on my resume helped at all.)

      SAHD time was absolutely wonderful, but also really hard (and at least with very young kids, hard in different ways ever 4-6 months, so I kept having to readjust to figure out what worked for all of us).

      I got really lucky when I finally wanted to go back to work – we moved across the country, and a local company in my industry was hiring, so re-entry was very smooth (and both kids had been in school, so we were all used to spending days apart). I found I that after years off, an office (and interaction with grown ups) was very nice.

      So I suppose my only advice is that what works to make being at home with family changes a lot, especially with littles, and it helps to be conscious of that. But I hope you’re able to enjoy your time and that if/when you decide to go back to work, there will be positions waiting for you. It certainly can work out.

      1. LilySparrow*

        “…hard in different ways ever 4-6 months, so I kept having to readjust to figure out what worked for all of us).”

        A very apt insight.

        1. SoontobeSAHM*

          Yes! We’ve definitely noticed this already. That’s part of why we’re making the change – my husband was working part-time from home, which was great for the first few months, but now that the little guy is a toddler that set-up doesn’t give him what he needs, nor does my husband really have a chance to get work done. Plus, as we (hopefully) add to our family, we’re going to need more flexibility.

          If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first year as a parent, though, it’s that one can’t be reminded often enough to be flexible. :-D

    5. Artemesia*

      Be very open with your husband in discussing the hand off — what his routine was like — what needs to be maintained to give the kids security and structure and also how you will re organize household chores with him working and you at home. Presumably you while working do significant housework; what will he be in charge of when he is the one working and you are at home. It is very important that this is explicit and understood.

      And what will you do to maintain professional contacts and personal space? Are there work friends you could maintain personal relationships with. Are there any local professional associations or events where you could maintain ties? Even a discussion group in your profession.

    6. YetAnotherUsername*

      I got made redundant after my eldest was born and ended up taking 2.5 years out. Went back to work no problems.

      I’m glad I did it and I don’t think it has held me back at all.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I intended to be a SAHM when my kids were born, but then the economy tanked and it was a lot easier for me to get a decent job with insurance with my useful-but-dont-love-it skills, than for my husband with his niche-specialty skills.

      Then when he did get a job, it had great benefits but not quite enough pay to meet our longterm goals, so I started freelancing from home.

      My freelance rate is now almost 3x my hourly rate at my last 9-5, and I have nearly total control over my schedule and workload, as long as I meet deadlines.

      I absolutely do not see how paying someone else to care for your children is more feminist than caring for them yourself. Feminism means getting to choose whether to marry or not, whether to have kids or not, and whether to work in a traditional office job or make your family economy work a different way.

      All parents work, all day and half the night. Some of that work is paid for in money by other people. Some is work you do to create economic value for yourselves. And some has value that cannot be measured in money at all.

    8. SoontobeSAHM*

      Thank you all for the advice and support!! I’m now feeling a little more prepared for the conversation tomorrow, and about as prepared as I can be for this new gig. I am seriously considering printing out this thread and posting on my fridge.

    9. myug*

      >I’m setting women back by doing this.

      Don’t feel like this! Woman are truly damned if they do and damned if they don’t so stop caring what they think and do what’s right for you and yours. As for re-entering the workforce, so many moms have done it! Alison has some posts about this, including an ask the readers, which always has an abundance of different experiences, which I enjoy:

  8. Anon For Today Again*

    Update from this comment:

    (Lord, I hope I haven’t messed up the link, it’s one of those Mondays)

    So, I got roped into a meeting without the offending coworkers to “solve the problem”. And today, coworker (senior to me, but not my boss) decided I will create a document with the information (I don’t have) for the head of the other department to review and promised her I will do it – without checking with me first.

    It’s gonna be a long Monday.

    1. Artemesia*

      I hope you were able to send her an email with ‘I cannot complete this documents until you provide me with XYZ data that is required; when can I expect that?’ and then CC to the other head who was promised it.

      I hope you are looking for a new job.

      1. Anon For Today Again*

        The person who was promised the document WAS the one who had the information and was refusing to provide it. The place is basically a huge ball of dysfunction.

        And I am, I’m willing to even take a part-time job if it pays the bills. At this point, all I care about is getting into a place where I don’t feel like my head is about to explode every day.

    2. AM*

      Stupid question, but how do I bookmark a particular comment in an open thread like you did?
      When I try the “subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS” it takes me to my iPhone’s news feed and gives an error message.

  9. Flash Bristow*

    Oh, I wondered why hitting reload all day has come up with nothing! On the plus side, there was plenty to read here last week during our (British) bank holiday!

    I hope you enjoy the day off, Alison (and anyone else who has it). I appreciate you’re in the US and presume most readers are too, so I understand not getting a heads-up – I’ll have to go memorise the American holidays so I don’t keep vainly hitting refresh! :D

    I’d love to think of a work related question to keep this relevant – sorry – but the only question I have in my head at the moment is “should you tip the bin men? How? And how often?”

    Mine are lovely. 7am every Monday on the dot, work around my awkward plant stands, wave happily to my dog while he wags and barks at them – do I just tape a card to the bin lid of a Sunday night and label it “for the bin men”? I’ve heard of people running out with a note in their hand in Christmas week, but I don’t do 7am *especially* in Christmas week…!

    (Serious question even if it sounds silly! Before anyone queries, yes, they are all men. And for what it’s worth they come on bank holidays too, unless it’s actually Christmas day. Lovely chaps.)

    1. Flash Bristow*

      I’m guessing there aren’t that many bin collectors reading, but I think it’s still work related, in terms of supporting someone in their work. Kind of…?

      Not meaning to be tenuous but I’ve been genuinely contemplating this all day. Tipping window cleaner is easier as nobody else will collect a card held down by a stone on my upstairs windowsill, but the bin men are really personable and do deserve similar, at least on bank holidays or during dreadful weather.

      I’ll shut up now ;) and hope for some suggestions. Thanks for reading!

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        (Also UK) I leave a crate of beer at Christmas – it’s logistically tricky but we get a cheery wave out of it! I wouldn’t do cash because I have the British cash tip squick gene.

        1. Flash Bristow*

          Ah, I like the idea! But in my part of east London there’s a high chance the bin folk don’t drink. And also people passing by would be more likely to take a crate of beer than a flat envelope (which could just be a card) – was my thinking…

          But now I’ll ponder alternatives. I certainly know what you mean about leaving a Thing rather than money. Easier with window cleaners and people you already pay as you can just round up; harder to know what to do for council employed workers who just go above and beyond.

          Gonna go rack my brains! At least you agree it’s fitting to leave *something* for them. Cheers!

          1. SarahKay*

            I don’t have any ideas for physical gifts, but what about also emailing your local council with what you just told us? Anywhere I’ve worked, it’s always been a reasonably big deal if someone has taken the time to specifically write in and praise workers; hopefully your email praise would flow down to ‘your’ bin collectors.

    2. HR Lady*

      Just a Christmas thing, really – not at the rest of the time. They have very very long rounds and increasingly less time, so it’s difficult to do the interaction. Also, it must be said that taping an envelope to the bin lid invites theft but I do live in a dodgy bit of east London these days..!

      My dad used to make a round of drinks on cold mornings (he worked nights so would be getting in when they were doing their rounds) when he heard them coming down the street, that always went down well.

      1. Flash Bristow*

        I’m in East London too! My front yard is what, 3 metres from front door to street? Luckily I’ve never had anything taken from my doorstep, and I’ve also left notes for people before… But there’s always a first time. Hmm thanks I’ll ponder!

        1. HR Lady*

          I have seen people rooting through bins and gardens down my street so that might just be where I live of course :)

    3. Weegie*

      I believe that tipping bin men has now gone as a custom (in the 70s, a relative told us that if they didn’t tip at Christmas in their area, the men used to accidentally on purpose spill the contents of the rubbish bins on their driveway – thankfully that custom also seems to have gone).

      As someone else has suggested, maybe leaving some alcoholic drinks for them at Christmas would be appreciated, or soft drinks on a really hot day?

      Come to think of it, I actually know someone who works for the council, sometimes on refuse collection, so I’ll try to remember to ask him about this next time I see him and post on a future open thread.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Traditionally they used to get money on boxing day but I’m pretty sure that tradition is long gone. I haven’t tipped the bin men since the 90s.

    4. Koala dreams*

      Maybe you could set the alarm clock on 6.57 and run out in your pyjama, then go back to sleep?
      I think it’s always appropriate to show appreciation for bin collectors that collect on holidays, that’s getting rare nowadays.
      If you can’t tip them, why not write a thank you card to their employer and mail it?

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      For what it’s worth, I also refreshed a few times today and wondered… I also don’t know what Labour day is but I can google that in a minute…

      As for bin collectors, I live in a block of flats so it’s a bit different for me. However, I believe it’s normal to give something at xmas, like chocolate or similar, but not common to tip all year round. I must also admit, I have never seen a female bin collector, though I’m sure there must be some employed somewhere…

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        ps. to clarify, I DO know what Labour Day is but as it’s not May 1st today I assumed this was something else. Having looked it up, it seems pretty similar but just on a different date.

        1. Just a Guy in a Cube*

          My understanding is that this is rooted in “conservative vs progressive” labor activism in the late 19th C debates. Europe and lots of other places named May 1 as Intl Workers Day/Labour Day to commemorate among other things the Chicago Haymarket Massacre. More conservative labor & political movements in the US picked early September and an existing march-and-picnic day in order to distance the movement from the more radical anarchist/socialist elements.

      2. MayLou*

        My understanding is that Labour day is functionally the same as our May Day bank holiday – it’s a holiday for workers (hence “labour”). Always the first Monday in September. And something about white trousers?

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          There used to be a “thing” about not wearing white after Labor Day. I get the idea that it used to basically be when everyone switched their closets from Summer to Not Summer (Memorial Day, which is in late May, would be the start of summer wardrobe under this system) and that some offices had (have?) different dress codes for summer/not summer. Judging by our newspaper comics, this is also the “last weekend for barbecues” for some people.

          I wear the same casual clothes to work year-round, and switch between short sleeves and long sleeves based on the temperature rather than the calendar, so I don’t worry about any of that.

          A lot of schools also start up their new school years the day after Labor Day, but that’s becoming less common. (Many districts have been moving their start date earlier and earlier because they want to get more instruction in before students take standardized tests in the spring. We don’t have national exam dates linked to the end of the school year, but most states have a one-shot standardized test students take and a testing window in the spring.)

          I’ve been unionized most of my adult life, and we don’t really do anything “special” for Labor Day in my union (which is kind of weird to me, but not weird enough that I’m going to offer to organize a barbecue), but I think some might? The only large group Labor Day thing I was invited to this year is put on by the church across the street from me. (They gave invites to all of the neighbors regardless of church attendance. I doubt I’ll actually go, since I don’t belong to their church or religion, I probably can’t eat the food due to vegetarianism and allergies, and I don’t have any kids who would enjoy the games and bounce house, but it was nice of them to invite the neighborhood.)

          May Day is…weird in the USA, but that’s another thread. (It’s not a holiday in the “get it off from work” sense, but various groups recognize it for various purposes.)

          1. Asenath*

            Canada is similar to the US – in fact, I only learned that May Day has labour connotations in some parts of the world in my late teens. I grew up in a tiny town dominated by a union employer, and the nearest town of any size was also a one-industry union town. There used to be parades on Labour Day organized by the unions in those places, and others with a strong union presence, but I haven’t heard of one in decades. I’m not much of a parade-goer at the best of times, but I think if union parades on Labour Day were still a big thing, I’d have at least heard of them recently! Nowadays, it’s a real public holiday (that is, one which practically everyone gets off, unlike some of our other holidays that aren’t required for most employers), and a lot of people use it for the last chance to do outdoors things – get out in the country to camp or fish, work in the garden, picnic, etc. Me, I relax at home.

            I don’t think we ever had the “no white after Labour Day” custom, although I’ve read about it. We did have summer and winter clothes, but they were distinguished more by warmth and coverage than colour.

        2. Gaia*

          Yes, the old rule was “no white after Labor Day” because Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer (celebrated in the US with BBQ, beach trips, and one last big celebration of somewhat reliably good weather – Memorial Day, a day meant to solemnly remember those who died in service to the Country, marks the beginning of summer with really the same events) and white is, I guess, a summer color? People don’t really follow it anymore.

          And correct that Labor Day is intended to honor workers and the fight for worker rights which is, of course, a very ongoing issue in this country although some like to pretend otherwise.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My grandmother was a firm believer in the “white is for summer”. She was born in NYC in 1900 and talked vividly about coal dust. Not sure if that is why the rule originated, but that is why she stuck with it. I tried to explain we had no coal and she harrumphed. I was probably eight, so the harrumph amused me so much I stop thinking about the white rule.

          1. Database Developer Dude*

            The rule actually originated when society wives of multimillioniares controlled everything. They made rules that only the ‘old money’ would know, so if someone showed up at a soiree in white after Labor Day, for example, they were outed as nouveau riche, and could be shunned accordingly.

      3. SPDM*

        There is a female trash collector for the neighborhood across the road from mine, so at least one exists here in the USA. She’s the only one I’ve seen in 30-something years, though.

    6. londonedit*

      My parents still give ‘Christmas boxes’ (£5 in a Christmas card) to their bin men, postman, window cleaner, etc, in Christmas week. But they live in a small village in the countryside – I’ve never heard of anyone in London doing it. I suspect that while a small village probably has the same people doing the rounds every day/week/whatever, in London it’s probably different people on different bin lorries, so it’d be harder to tip the ‘regular’ bin men.

      I think the idea of sending the council an email singing their praises is a good one – I can’t think of a way to leave a gift out for them without the risk of it being stolen or (as you say about the booze) possibly being inappropriate. I know all I ever see on my local Facebook group is people moaning that they’ve had to contact the council because a collection has been missed, so I expect a ‘Hey, just wanted to let you know that these guys do a great job’ email would be much appreciated!

    7. Asenath*

      Don’t think it’s a thing in my area to tip the garbage men (and yes, they’re all men here too, that I’ve noticed). Going off on a sideline – at some point, the local city bus drivers started changing over from 100% men to a quite more mixed bunch – no fuss or publicity; just me thinking “That driver is a woman; how unusual!” to eventually realizing that I didn’t think that any more since it’s quite usual to have female drivers. It’s supposed to be a decent-paying job too, in our city at least, although of course you do shift work and have to deal with the public all the time. I haven’t noticed a similar shift in garbage collectors.

      Now that I’m in an apartment, I never see the contractor who haul off the garbage, but I do make a point of giving the building superintendent, who organizes all that stuff and more, a nice cash gift at Christmas. He’s been particularly helpful this year (and refuses payment at the time), so I’ll have to remember to give him a particularly good one.

    8. Free Range Hippy Chick*

      I tried to tip the bin men a couple of Christmases ago and was told that they weren’t allowed to accept anything any more. Don’t know if that’s (UK) national or just my local council.

    9. Shiny Carvanha*

      I often see people giving the bin men (caveats accepted, same here) big tubs of Celebrations or Quality Street (other brands of chocolate are available). I’ve not done it but probably should. Only at Christmas. You could probably leave them out the night before, maybe in a bag?

    10. YetAnotherUsername*

      Traditionally they used to get money on boxing day but I’m pretty sure that tradition is long gone. I haven’t tipped the bin men since the 90s.

    11. The pest, Ramona*

      When I worked in the garbage industry years ago the men got holiday gifts in a few ways. The usual: dropped off at the office to be given to the men on the route, or left on the lid of the garbage container (maybe wrapped with a ribbon so the men knew it was a gift and not garbage). Gifts ranged from home baked goods, to alcohol to gift cards to cash, or even just a hand written note of thanks. I lived in a small town then. Nowadays I think things left on the lid would disappear before the intended recipient arrived…

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I definitely couldn’t do that in my neighborhood; it would be gone in seconds. I always make it a point to thank them if I’m outside when they pick up.

  10. Jessen*

    What’s your favorite “I don’t want to tell you the real reason I’m out sick” excuse? So far I mostly use vague references to digestive troubles.

      1. Jessen*

        I am fortunate at least that the bosses are familiar with migraines, so when I’ve had one I’ve been able to say “I have a migraine” and have people understand it’s a real problem. I’m still keeping some mental health stuff under wraps though, and that’s resulted in a few sick days. And several more work from home days – sometimes just not having to arrange your face is enough.

    1. Sheldon*

      I’m always vague as possible. I usually just say “I feel too sick to come in today” I can’t even imagine the thought process behind inquiring further about a person’s symptoms. If a grown responsible adult says they’re sick, then leave it at that. I wouldn’t want to hear about anyone’s diarrhea or vomiting anyway.

      1. Em*

        Exactly! I inform them if it’s something like the flu so they can go decontaminate the break room, but that’s it.

    2. Alianora*

      I usually just say, “I need to take a sick day.” My current manager doesn’t ask for any more detail than that (although I am expected to wait 24 hours after my fever has passed before coming back in, if I had a fever.)

    3. Flash Bristow*

      “Health problems – I just can’t make it in today. Sorry, but I’ll [keep you posted / expect to see you tomorrow / whatever].”

      So you’re moving from the focus on what’s wrong to how you’ll go forward.

    4. anon24*

      I just say “I don’t feel able to come in today.”

      On a side note, recently I took my first ever admitted health day and just said “hey, I really need a mental health day.” I had been planning using the above statement but thought you know what, there are so many people out there who can’t call their boss and admit to needing a mental health day so I’m going to own it and help normalize it. I was proud of myself (silly, I know) and my supervisor ended up messaging me outside of work (which is not inappropriate in our field) to make sure I was ok and to tell me that I should never be afraid to take a mental health day when I need it.

      1. Jessen*

        Hah, don’t know if you actually read my comment reply up there.

        I have some pretty significant and not terribly easy to treat mental health stuff going on. So several of my days off/work from home days have actually been “I genuinely can’t handle people today” days. But I’m not really sure if that’s ok or not at work and I don’t want to bring it up to find out. It’s not going to be a simple do your 3 months of anxiety treatment and you’re good to go, either – there’s a lot of complexities and finding suitable treatment can be an issue. And I really do not want to explain that part either.

        1. anon24*

          No, if you don’t want to talk about that at work I think its totally cool to use a vague excuse. No one should have to share any medical information they aren’t comfortable with, whether its “I have a weird stomach thing that’s really gross and I don’t want to talk about it” or “I have a mental illness and I don’t want to talk about it”. I’m sorry if you mistook my comment. I hope you are able to find a treatment for your mental illness.

          1. Jessen*

            Nah, that was (apparently poorly communicated) approval.

            It would make a big difference for me if other people at my job were open about the idea of needing mental health days. The way it is right now I’m not really sure if it’s actually ok to do or not, and I don’t want to bring up the topic. And what I’ve been told by other coworkers is that it’s better to at least say why you’re sick in your email, rather than just saying that you’re sick.

      1. Jessen*

        I think that’s part of why I default to digestive issues. It’s fairly easy to head into territory where other people don’t want to know, while still being fairly short-term.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ha! A long-ago co-worker answered nosy questions about his week”s absence with “Well…let’s just say I was sitting on a donut for a week.” Even “No-Boundaries Boy” backed off.

    5. peanutbutty*

      We literally have to give a reason so it can be coded appropriately by HR on their drop down menu (!).
      I think this is ridiculous so in the past if I didn’t want to give the specific reason, I have just said “cold” or “stomach bug” or some other “low-key”/ “one off” illness.

      I have raised this with my manager and said I don’t think its appropriate to be asking for people to identify their specific illness/ symptoms for a single day off (or even longer), but in the meantime it is what it is.

      If I didn’t have this ridiculous system, I would likely to say “under the weather and not able to work”.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Personally I would use the same reason each and every time, regardless of the actual reason. Whatever the most innocuous of reasons, pick that one. I have no idea what your HR thinks they’re getting out of that data, but there doesn’t seem to be any positive reason to differentiate between illness/health problem types, so I just wouldn’t.

        My manager uses “under the weather” as her default when notifying the team, and I’ve just used “taking a sick day” without issue.

      2. Sheldon*

        I really wish I knew why some work places insist on treating employees like children. An adult should be able to decide if they are feeling too unwell to work. If I am given a certain allotment of PTO/sick days, I am entitled to use it. If I don’t want to suffer through work while feeling unwell, I am mature enough to decide that and use my given time off.

      3. Not a Typist*

        This is probably being done in part to manage FML. There are a lot of situations that can fall under FML. The law requires employers to identify possible FML situations even when a request is not specifially made by the employee and must respond to the employee within five working days. Employees who already have approved intrmittent FML may be calling in an absence foe an approved reason and that must be tracked. It’s a bit of an art to dertermine if calling in for a particular reason constitutes “notice” as defined in the regulations. Best practices says to start the processif the absence reason meets any of several criteria. A bad cold or stomach bug are not usually qualifying reasons but pnuemonia or an IBD attack could be.

        The law says that if “notice” is given to, say, a supervisor and not acted upon, the supervsisor along with the company can be sued in Federal court and could be determined to be personally liable for the failure to act.
        In my years of experience administering FMLA for several employers, supervisors and managers are notoriously bad at not reporting FML events even after training and re-training. My advice was “when in doubt, give me a call to discuss”.

        Also keep in mind that if a possible FML qualifying reason is called in, the company is allowed to ask reasonable questions to help determine if the absense is FMLA eligible or not. As an employee you could decline to answer, but then you lose the protection of your job and health benefits if the company takes action against you for being absent.

        1. Peanutbutty*

          Thanks- that’s interesting! Am slowly learning about US systems from this site.
          Doesn’t apply in this case as I’m in the uk and we can call in sick for up to seven days at a time without needing a doctors note for that episode (although you are supposed to chat with your manager if you go over a certain number of incidents within a given period). But none of that is tied to the type of illness so I have no idea what they do with this data.

    6. Chairman Meow*

      Fortunately my workplace doesn’t demand any explanation when you call out sick, but if I feel compelled, I either say I have a cold or stomach bug. I just had to recently call out sick for a much needed mental health day, and said I had the stomach bug.

    7. Asenath*

      I’m even more vague – “I’m not feeling well today”. If I do feel the need to be a bit more specific, a reference to the flu is useful – “coming down with something”, “got the flu” etc. I’m using “flu” as a generic term for colds, respiratory viruses, etc. When I was a child, our doctor hated people claiming that they had the flu when they thought they had a common cold, but I think few people today are so concerned about accuracy!

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        Unfortunately my office has a culture of anything less than a coma, if you’re too ill to come in, then you’re (expected to) work from home. I *think* this is the result of a manager who a) thought any sick days were an unacceptable blip on their attendance record- and encouraged the same attitude in direct reports; and b) proudly announcing to every other manager that their team doesn’t have sick days.
        My manager drank this Kool-aid, but she’s had to relax it in recent months with her own ill health and that of Mr Hacking Cough.

  11. cazfiend*

    I’m looking for jobs atm but I’m wondering about what questions to ask in an interview. One of the problems with my current job is that if someone is doing something wrong etc, they will never deal with it, just have a team meeting or team email telling everyone to fix up which never solves anything. What questions could I ask that would probe into this so I don’t get this same management style again?

    1. Sheldon*

      This could be tricky since it’s likely the interviewer wouldn’t talk about bad management during the interview if this place is also ran poorly.

      Maybe you could say something like “I’ve struggled with management that doesn’t give us constructive feedback when it’s needed, and this caused productivity issues, or mistakes that never got corrected so it kept happening. What do you do here to keep things flowing smoothly and to keep everyone up to par on projects? “

    2. Gaia*

      “Can you give me an idea or an example of how performance – both above and below expectation – conversations are handled on this team”

      and then I dig into it. What do you do when you first notice someone seems to be performing above the expectation of their position. Do you have examples of this team promoting or adjusting roles within? Can you talk about your approach towards coaching and further action when team members aren’t meeting expectations, etc

      Some hiring managers don’t like these questions. These are managers I don’t want to work for because my experience tells me they don’t deal with low performers or don’t recognize why I would be concerned with their lack of dealing with low performers.

      1. Baru Cormorant*

        I like this, not just because it weeds out how they don’t deal with low performers, but it also tells you how they would communicate to you how your performance compares to expectations. IE do they do performance reviews, would they actually fire you if you sucked, would they reward you if you did great?

    3. Clay on my apron*

      “When someone (insert relevant example), how is that managed in this environment?”
      “How would you describe the management style here, especially wrt dealing with situations like (example)?”

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      I gleaned these from a number of different AAM postings and comments:
      How will you measure success for the person in this position?
      What are some of the challenges you expect the person in this position to face, and which one do you see as the most daunting?
      What are the 3 most-important priorities for your unit over the next six months/the coming year? How will this job support your ability to reach those goals?
      Thinking back to people you’ve seen do this work previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great at it?
      How would you describe the culture here? What type of people tend to really thrive here, and what type don’t do as well?
      What things is this role expected to take care of and resolve completely in the next 90 days?
      How will the new hire be trained or learn the ropes in this position?
      How will this role make your job easier?
      How will the employee in this role be evaluated? What are the principal metrics?
      How would you handle a situation where one of your employees made a mistake?
      How would you manage a poor performer on your team? What is your approach to coaching and correction?
      How do you deliver feedback? What types of feedback do you give to your reports?
      What you would do if an employee had a disagreement with you about a policy or the way the work was accomplished?
      How do you communicate with your team members? Do you schedule one-on-one sit-downs, do you hold staff meetings, do you prefer to communicate via email, or what exactly?
      What do you like most about working here? What do you like least?
      Before we conclude, is there anything I haven’t asked about that you would like me to know about the position or about working here?
      What’s your timeline for next steps?

  12. CJ*

    I’ve been looking for a job in my field for about six months. I’ve got into a couple of second interviews. There is still a possibility that one of them could turn into a job.

    I don’t wait on job site applied or interviewed for to keep looking for ones in my field. But every time I’m about to apply for a job at the local convenience store, something promising in my field has come up.

    Can I take a job at the convenience store or Walmart knowing that I quit in a heartbeat if something in my field get opens up and I was offered the position?

    1. theothermadeline*

      Yuuuup – do it. And make sure you keep enough flexibility to be able to be as active in your search as you have been.

      1. theothermadeline*

        Be a conscientious worker while you are there, but do not feel that taking the job means that you owe loyalty. I was in staffing in a high-turnover service industry and it was great when people found something better than us.

      1. CJ*

        Yep, I am signed up as a staffing agency for both permanent or temp work. In fact, I have to call in to a conference call for a phone interview tomorrow morning.

        They had a person hired who backed out on them when the persons current employer gave them a big raise when they gave notice.

        This is an accounting job, and they over a month behind at this point. They know I have another job possibilty that I would prefer and might not want this one this one permanently, but right now the really need somebody to come in and put out the fires. Hopefully it will work out that I can work there either temporarily or permanently.

    2. I hate coming up with usernames*

      Absolutely. Do what you need to do to get the bills paid while you figure out your long term plan.

    3. Sunny*

      Yes, you can. A couple jobs I’ve been told are somewhat higher-paying are Starbucks and crossing guards (in our town, they make $20 an hour).

  13. Leaving clinical practice*

    Looking for advice on a mid-career shift. I’m a clinician. Due to a combination of illness (mine) and family obligations, I’m leaving clinical practice. I just can’t keep up with the demands of an on-call schedule, or, frankly, the stress of making life-and-death decisions while managing my health, my toddler, and my dying grandparent (plus all the usual life stuff that takes up time and energy like, you know, staying married to my beloved spouse). I’m working with a community health organization right now; I was working there as a clinician before I went on sick leave, and now I’m doing admin/program management while I figure out my next step. It’s been very part-time while I’ve been recovering from treatment, but I’m ready to start looking at something more full-time (which isn’t something this org needs).

    The bulk of my non-clinical expertise is in knowledge translation and policy development/advocacy, so that’s where I’m looking – policy analyst jobs, medical communications, that kind of thing. I’m looking for any and all advice from anyone who’s ever done a mid-career shift, and especially from clinicians who’ve moved into non-clinical areas. (Except research. I have enough research experience to know I hate research.) I’m in Canada, so Canadian experiences are especially helpful.

    Has anyone been through this? What helped? How did you find a great job? I’m also really struggling with leaving work that I love but can’t do any more, so if anyone has any insights on managing that, I would love to hear them.

    1. Homesick*

      I am not Canadian so dont know if its the same as here in the UK. But do you have a health regulatory body? You could potentially work there as either an advisor, or potentially a case examiner (we used them when reviewing fitness to practice cases as we need people who actually understand the clinical info involved). Its not all telling people they cant practice medicine.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Yes! A lot of the regulatory colleges would have roles like this, and also keep an eye on your provincial ministry of health, and the federal government.

    2. Princess of Pure Reason*

      If hating research means nothing even research adjacent this won’t be helpful (apologies in advance), but your experience would be incredibly useful and relevant for IRB/REB, (possibly) IACUC/ACC, or research QA/QI programs.

      1. Leaving clinical practice*

        This is actually a great idea since I’ve done a fair bit of QA. Adding IRB/REB to my list; I don’t mind being around research as long as there’s no chance I’ll end up conducting it. :)

        1. Princess of Pure Reason*

          That’s the beauty of being on the regulatory side – you get to see all the science and learn about new developments and help guide the research – but the actual doing of the research is absolutely someone else’s job.

          1. Leaving clinical practice*

            I’m really grateful for the suggestion! My previous degree is in bioethics, so I’m not sure why REB didn’t pop into my brain as an option, but I’m feeling really enthused about it.

    3. Matilda Jefferies*

      Public Health is traditionally a great place to work if you’re interested in health policy and advocacy. Unfortunately, if you live in Ontario, public health is being absolutely decimated right now by the provincial government, and I know Toronto Public Health for sure is on a hiring freeze. But if you live in a province that actually values this kind of thing (not that I’m bitter, much…*cough*), you could definitely start there.

      One thing you may not know about government hiring is just how pedantic and literal you need to be in your application. You need to specify every single thing that they ask for, even if it seems redundant or obvious – I was screened out of a job last year because I didn’t say that I’m familiar with Microsoft Word. Your resume and cover letter can be fairly long in order to meet this requirement – it’s not unusual for the two docs to run about five pages combined.

      Good luck!

      1. Leaving clinical practice*

        Alas I am in Ontario, watching PHO jobs go down the drain in our new connected care system. But at least there’s no more gravy train, amirite?? I’ve just applied to be put in a PHAC inventory (with tons of help from a friend who works at Treasury to navigate the byzantine system). I appreciate the government application tips – it’s for sure a whole new world for me.

    4. another anon*

      I don’t work in public health but recently had to leave a field I love for health/life reasons. Recreational marijuana is now legal where I live and they don’t enforce the public smoking ban, and I couldn’t take getting sick unpredictability just trying to get to work on public transit in a big city. I also have aging parent stuff. I switched to an adjacent field in a smaller town. It’s been hard at times knowing what I had to give up and feeling like I’m taking a step back in my career. However,my new boss and coworkers have been great, and I didn’t realize how toxic my old job was emotionally and physically. I’m trying to focus on the aspects of the adjacent field that are similar to what I did, but learning how they vary and expanding my knowledge that way. Best of luck and sending solidarity.

      1. Leaving clinical practice*

        Thank you – that’s really helpful. This is exactly the feeling I’m fighting – that I’m somehow taking a step back in my career. I know that’s not true, but when I think about all the stuff I’m giving up that I really love (the instant reward of direct patient care, a high degree of autonomy, the satisfaction of doing hands-on work), it really feels that way. It’s so reassuring to hear that it’s been turning out OK for you; I really appreciate it.

        1. another anon*

          You’re welcome. I forgot to say I’m allergic to marijuana, oops.

          It comes in waves, like any grieving process. I just got an email from a former colleague asking how I was doing that hit me harder than I expected. I’m trying to focus on the positives, like that they made the effort to reach out.

          I’m being kind to and gentle with myself during the process, and reminding myself of how stressed I used to be on bad days.

    5. Vic tower*

      Does clinician mean doctor? Have you thought about consulting for medical defense or law firm as a medical expert? I’ve had friends do that

    6. Otterbox*

      I work at one of the provincial health research funders, and we have positions that could be relevant for someone with your KT, policy, and clinical expertise (not hiring for much now, but could in the future). Might be worth a look at your provincial org, depending on your location and interests.

    7. random regulator*

      Well, if this is a thing you would like (especially with a background in policy and translation it sounds like it might), there’s always medical writing for pharmaceutical companies or being on the “clinical” side of clinical studies, but that doesn’t mean necessarily clinical practice but rather organizing and planning clinical studies. This is subtly different from medical writing, so both has merit.

      And especially medical writing jobs can also be done from home, if you think that is an option for you. I’m in the field, though not on the medical side, and I know a bunch of clinicans who made that jump…

  14. Jea9*

    This question is about/for my husband. I’m a frequent reader but I’m a stay at home mom now so most things don’t apply to me.
    My husband is the director of IT for our local hospital. He does not have any college education and has managed to work his way into IT and then as a director. He was at a factory before coming to the hospital. We are potentially looking to move out of state and are wondering how to navigate applying for jobs and getting past the HR gates without education. In the past he’s never even gotten a call for any resumes or applications he’s sent out, and we believe it’s related to the education requirements. He has been in his position for 10+ years.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Database Developer Dude*

      Does your husband have any certifications? Will work sponsor him to get any? What kind of benefits does he have?

      1. Jea9*

        He currently has no certifications, there aren’t really any necessary for his job. He is a jack of all trades for his current position. He is in charge of all aspects of IT in the facility, one of his employees currently handles the main issues with the EMR but otherwise it’s all him.
        His benefits are really good; he is paid well and we are in a low cost of living area, he has a generous PTO plan, and overall the facility is very considerate to employees and families. The big problem is that he’s a working director and doing his job plus the director duties is a lot; it’s a 24 hour facility so doing server maintenance or updates means hoping the ER isn’t busy when he goes in for the attempt at 2am. He’s also on call every other week, which again, wouldn’t be too bad but a Dr not remembering how to log in at 2am is a bit frustrating and I think he’s burning out.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Yeah, he’s going to need *something*. How soon are you moving out of state? Can you delay a couple of years while he goes for an associate degree?

          1. Jea9*

            Moving is not a definite so postponing isn’t an issue, but considering he teaches most of the classes at our local community college for the computer degree, I’m not sure how that would work!

            1. Mockingjay*

              If he’s thinking about a degree, many community colleges can convert work experience into credits. Since he TEACHES there, I am sure they could do something! Also look into CLEP exams – those can be a quick way to get electives credits.

              Other people have mentioned certifications. Your community college might offer some. Quite a few are done online; the exam is then administered through a local college or test site.

            2. Database Developer Dude*

              If they’ll accept him as a teacher, he needs to talk to his department head about testing out of the required classes for the degree, and getting awarded a degree. He might be able to test out of most of the core classes, and just have to take general education classes.

            3. Baru Cormorant*

              Agreed, I think if he’s teaching the classes he could argue he has “or equivalent experience.”

        2. Just a hypo*

          Has he done any networking with the software companies he works with?

          Eg. The EMR companies he works to trouble shoot. I used to be a VP over development and product at one and we would have loved that kind of skill set.

          Also generally, networking.

          1. Jea9*

            That is something we talked about just today! They have used the same EMR company for the whole time he has been in the facility so I think he has some definite leverage with networking there.

    2. Pippa K*

      One perspective: I think this isn’t completely unusual in tech fields, but it might depend a lot on the type of employer and type of role. My husband works in a programming/architecture role at a medium-sized US-based company with offices abroad and employees from everywhere. He doesn’t have a university education, which probably looks somewhat odd these days, but people his age were in the sort of first-generation tech development boom, so even people with degrees from that era don’t usually have them in this specific field, because they didn’t exist then. It hasn’t hurt him in the jobs he’s sought; they’re much, much more interested in demonstrated skill. He makes considerably more than I do, and I have an advanced degree (in a non tech field).

      On the other hand, I’d bet all of his colleagues in their 20s have degrees, and some employers’ application processes will weed out non degree holders for not ticking all the qualifications boxes. So fit – in type of role and type of employer – will probably be the key here. Best of luck!

    3. Aly_b*

      If he’s got any former colleagues that have moved on to other places, or other connections in the industry, try those. If he can get on someone’s desk and through the screening requirements he may have a better shot. Some in-state folks might know someone out of state who is looking that they would be willing to make a recommendation to.

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Maybe look for IT jobs at smaller companies in blue-collar industries? I would imagine that in fields where most people “worked their way up” and may not have college degrees that they’d screen less for it. (I’m thinking of the family owned plumbing supply place my mother used to work for here, where she was somewhat unusual for having a college degree and it certainly wasn’t in an area related to her actual job, but I’d imagine this is fairly common in those kinds of industries.)

    5. LizardOfOdds*

      Lack of degree is going to be a bigger deal in big tech companies, and in the tech industry in general, than it would be in other industries. I work in big tech and everyone around me has advanced degrees; when it’s a choice between two equally great candidates, the person with the degree always wins out. I don’t like it, but that’s how I’ve seen it work.

      Your husband will probably have more bites if he looks for more of a like-for-like position in an industry that isn’t tech, like manufacturing, healthcare, construction, that sort of thing. If he really wants something in the tech industry, he should target small-to-midsized companies, especially companies that build products for the manufacturing or healthcare industries. That way his pitch is more compelling — he not only has the experience as IT Director, he also has experience in the industry and would (at least theoretically) understand the customer base better than other candidates. The pay is lower for smaller tech companies with niche industry products, but it’s as a stepping stone.

      1. Jea9*

        This is what he’s leaning towards. He never had a desire to work in healthcare but now he knows it really, really well and so that’s where we are looking. Usually at rural hospitals similar to what we are now! I don’t think he has much desire to work in the actual tech industry.

        1. MissGirl*

          I work in healthcare and my company wouldn’t look at anyone without a degree for IT. If anything healthcare values degrees more than other fields.

          1. Jea9*

            Interesting. At a hospital? Our experience has definitely been that he doesn’t get call backs for the few applications/resumes he’s sent out.

            1. MissGirl*

              I’m at a large health system. We have hospitals and practices in multiple states. IT tends to be more centralized with a few spread out.

    6. porpoise driven*

      Has he put his resume on Monster/Dice/Linked In? Mr. Porpoise is in IT and whenever he was ready to move positions, he’d update his online resume at the big sites and recruiters would contact him. In our 20+ years ago, he never applied for an IT job directly; he’s always been recruited.

      1. Jea9*

        This isn’t something he’s done yet, but maybe that’s what we need to do. I’ve been thinking we might have a better chance through a recruiter. Thanks!

    7. Gatomon*

      Really depends on where you are moving to and how many skilled IT people are available, I think. Where I’m at that wouldn’t be a big barrier, but we struggle to find experienced talent since we’re not a tech hub nor near a tech hub.

      A longer-term solution might be getting a college degree to put on his resume. WGU might be a good fit, you can test out of classes if you already know the material or have the IT cert they lead to, and they are very supportive with working around your work schedule in my experience. Being in school may also satisfy the HR departments, and I found it impressed the hiring managers in my situation. I also found the cost to be very reasonable compared to other options.

    8. Clay on my apron*

      I don’t have a degree and I also worked my way into a senior role in my field. I’ve never had a problem getting interviews. But the difference could very well be that I live in a much smaller country where most of the jobs are concentrated in 2 cities. My field is also small enough that you can get interviewed based on your reputation.

      Your husband could consider leveraging his professional network, if he has contacts in the area you’re planning to move to.

      He could also look for ways to build a reputation online. At the very least a well written LinkedIn profile which highlights his strengths and his experience, if he doesn’t have that.

      And experience in a clinical/medical environment is something he should be able to leverage off as well. That must be a fairly specialist skill set.

      Are there any conferences he could speak at to build his profile? Articles he could write about the unique aspects of his work? It might sound a bit silly but being able to differentiate yourself goes a long way.

    9. Phoenix Programmer*

      I hate to say, but your husband will need a degree to keep working at that level in healthcare. Does his hospital offer tuition assistance?

      I think it is stupid that many places are requiring degrees to get through the gate, but that’s the reality and especially in healthcare. Many places that “grandfather” in exceptions won’t apply that to outside hires.

      It’s seriously stupid, but it’s been my experience. Even some Drs are stuck because they have older degrees that did not require residency, so even though they have been a Dr. for decades they can’t be promoted and can’t really go to other hospitals.

  15. Homesick*

    I just recently started a new job. (This is week 3) doing a role I have done previously at different places within our industry. I did this same job at my last 2 places (I really like it) and with both of them I was able to work from home at least once a week. I didn’t think to ask about it when I was hired but discovered that here they much more save it for like if works are being done at home or you have an appointment.

    The general consensus seems to be that most of my team live nearby and just prefer to come into the office anyway. They are good friends and in their mid to late 20s, go for lunch every day and after work pints at least once a week. I am in my early 30s and married. So while I am friendly with them we are in different places in our life.

    I am out of training as of tomorrow. Its a skilled role with no management of others that once you do at one place is pretty similar for other places. Anyway my question is how long do I wait before asking about working from home?

    I am starting to miss it. Especially as I have horrible period pain and have gotten really used to working from home with my hot water bottle and sweat pants.

    1. Clay on my apron*

      Just ask right away. But don’t say “how often can I work from home”. Say “when I was interviewing I meant to ask about the work from home policy, can I find that somewhere on the intranet?”

    2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      If you get a six month or year review, ask then if your performance is outstanding.

      1. TechWorker*

        I think asking about the policy is reasonable – waiting a year and for outstanding performance applies if the policy is ‘only in very special circumstances’ but you just don’t know that at this point.

        1. Homesick*

          There isn’t a formal policy with how many days or whatever. It is allowed in general but there isnt any written guidelines as its role specific and up to departments/managers. Its a very laid back place. Its just that most people in my particular department and manager tend to prefer the office. I don’t think there is anything against me asking to work from home semi-regularly its just not being done now. I just don’t know how to broach the subject with my manager. We discussed it vaguely my first day as in this is what people tend to do but I didnt ask then about the possibility of having a more scheduled or more frequent routine.

          So far one person has done it for two days because he twisted his ankle. But otherwise everyone else has been in.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            You could maybe phrase it as, “Because working from home one day a week was a given at my previous jobs, it didn’t occur to me to ask for that here in the job offer stage, which I totally should have done. I see, though, that most other people want to be in the office all the time, barring illness, but I’m finding that I miss my uninterrupted productive WFH day. Do you mind if I implement it here going forward?”

            And, also, don’t wait. The longer you do, the more it will look “weird” if/when you bring it up.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I don’t think it would look weird after 3 or 6 or more months, but I also agree that homesick doesn’t need to wait.

  16. Not That Kind of Lawyer*

    New Orleans daughter here. I know well the cone of uncertainty and the waiting. Last year, my family and I decided our home would be a sorta weigh station. We have snacks set up and gather any information needed to pass on to friends and family: i.e. Don’t evacuate using this route, the storm has changed again, come here for food and company. It kept us occupied. The kiddos loved tracking the storm, and a few bored people showed up to hang out with us.

  17. AppleFriend*

    I hit it off with a new co-worker a couple of years ago. We hung out after work at exercise classes maybe one to two times a month. We also sometimes gave each other fun gifts of under $10 if we saw something particularly appropriate. Fast-forward to now. My co-worker is having trouble with some basic job tasks due to chaos in her personal life. Then, out of nowhere, she told me she had commissioned a watercolor painting of my pets! I just sort of stammered, “Thank you,” because I was shocked at her generosity, but I feel uncomfortable taking such a big present. She hasn’t given me the painting yet, but she showed me the artist’s sketch. What do I do here? Accept the painting and profusely thank her? Decline because it’s probably way too expensive? This is a tough time in her life and I want to be especially sensitive, but I also feel uncomfortable and I know I won’t have the cash to reciprocate.

    1. Asenath*

      I generally try to deflect the present right away – “Oh, I really couldn’t accept such a big present! It’s so thoughtful of you, but I (don’t have room; am afraid it doesn’t fit (more for clothes than a painting), really, I’m keeping gifts to a minimum these days since everyone has so much; Friend and Relative and I have agreed to not give gifts/just give token gifts, perhaps we should do that…) It’s not usually helpful to get into the “I can’t afford to reciprocate” because the giver is thinking about being generous, not about reciprocity. But in the end, there are some people who just do things like that. In my experience they’re often the ones who can least afford it – but perhaps that’s why they want to make the big gesture. It makes them feel like they’re doing something nice even if it is a sacrifice for them. And so, sometimes, none of my responses work; I accept it – but I don’t reciprocate with something so big if I wouldn’t have done so anyway.

    2. What's for lunch?*

      Maybe it makes her feel good at a rough time for her to do something nice for someone else? I don’t know that you can really decline, since it’s apparently already started and she’s excited about gifting it to you, not to mention that when it’s finished, it’s not something that will mean anything to anyone else likely. This is a tough one, though! Maybe try to get at her thought process behind why this gift/why now? Her answers might make you feel better about accepting it. Like maybe the artist is a friend who owes her a favor, or it’s not as expensive as you think. Maybe her perception of your friendship is very different from yours, and that would be good for you to know, but just because someone decides to be more generous than usual doesn’t mean you have to match it. Sorry, this response is all over the map — I totally get why you’re uncomfortable, though, especially as you’re co-workers!

    3. LilySparrow*

      Talk to her about it. Start with something like, “It’s such a nice gesture, but I feel awkward because it’s so expensive. We’ve only ever done little token gifts before.”

      Who knows? Maybe a relative is doing it for little or nothing. Maybe she won it in a charity auction, or something.

      But talk about it. If you give presents and talk about personal life chaos, then you also have standing to talk about the presents, I think.

    4. ...*

      I don’t think you should refuse it since it’s already under way and custom things like that can’t be cancelled. It probably makes her feel happy to provide joy to someone while things suck for her. I would just write a very kind thank you note and say that you could never accept such a large gift again but my goodness isn’t this so so wonderful! She is doing something nice and I don’t think you have to reciprocate it.

      1. Leslie Yep*

        I agree with this. It’s not a gift that can be returned at this juncture. I like the framing of thanking them for their gift but also dissuading from future large gifts. Reciprocating might encourage more large gifts, so I wouldn’t. Just go back to how it was before so you don’t create a new normal.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      (1) Are you sure it’s actually costing her a bunch of money? I ask because I had a neighbor who was trying to get her “Painting of Your Pet” business off the ground and she did a bunch (six? eight?) for me and for my friends so she could build up a portfolio and have us submit reviews across the internet. The ones for my friends were gifts from me. I wouldn’t have been lying if I’d said, “I’ve commissioned paintings of your pets for you.”

      (2) I’ve actually commissioned a small sculpture for a friend whose cat had passed, going back and forth with the artist asking for revisions to drawings and coloring to get it “just right”. It was only $50.

      (3) I’ve also given a “big” gift (<$75) to people with whom I would normally only exchange nominal gifts because I thought it was perfect for them. I never, at any time, expected them to reciprocate. I just happened to stumble across something I knew they'd love.

      (4) Giving you this gift, especially since it involves more than "see it on the shelf, buy it" might be her way of self-soothing and feeling better about herself amidst the current chaos in her personal life. Some part of her may be thinking, "All this other stuff is going to Hell in a handbasket, but I'm grateful for AppleFriend and the fact that I'm still able to care about other people in the middle of all this."

      It's quite possible none of these apply in your situation, but I thought I'd throw them out to consider. :-)

      1. Cats and dogs*

        I think accept the gift. She is going through a hard time and is trying to do good for other people to feel good. This is how she is coping. Of course you can tell her your feelings about it but I would not reject the gift. You will hurt her feelings.

      2. Baru Cormorant*

        Agree with this. I think you can reciprocate with something inexpensive but very heartfelt, like homebaked goods, a thing they said they wanted, a personalized item, etc. along with a handwritten letter of appreciation.

  18. Am I a worker or a slave*

    What kind of paperwork do you need to file a complaint of being a misclassified contractor/employee? Most of my communication had been verbal instead of written

    1. fposte*

      Sounds like you must just be straight up getting paid under the table, not just being misclassified. Your username also makes me wonder if you’re getting paid at all. If that’s the problem, start with your state’s department of labor, and don’t worry about paperwork.

    2. Liane*

      If you’re in the US, also check the IRS website about the misclassified, since they make the guidelines for employee vs. contractor determination. I believe the US Department of Labor handles exempt/non-exempt misclassifications (which are federal statutes), but am not sure. Your state Department of Labor might have information/links as well, and is a good choice to start with.

  19. working on labor day*

    I’ll be an internal candidate for a position I have been doing in an interim role. Anyone have any advice for being an internal candidate, and how that might be different from an external candidate? I have never been an internal candidate. My boss is supportive and encouraging, and I’m honored that I have done well enough in the interim role to be a viable candidate. I also know there is no guarantee I’ll get the position. Going to be a long two months!

    1. The Elephant in the room*

      During the interview process, answer questions as thouroughly as you would if you were an external candidate. It’s easy to think, John knows my work, but even if that’s true, you are still being evaluated based on the interview.

      1. working on labor day*

        Thanks! I will have a full day of interviews, and many of the people who will be interviewing me will not know much about what I’ve doing, so this also a chance to let the rest of the organization know what I’m doing.

    2. Community appreciator*

      Seems like you’re in a good mental place, and it’s smart to walk in knowing that you’re not guaranteed the job – but that you’re a great candidate! I’m not sure how applicable this is to your position, but one of the “weaknesses” I’ve seen while interviewing internal employees (and in written exercises, which is common for my area) is too much comfort and/or reliance on the way things are, versus offering new ideas or improvements. You have the opportunity to dig in deep and offer insights that other candidates won’t be able to. If you can do that in a confident, reasonable, and personable way, you’re guaranteed to have something that the others won’t. Good luck!

      1. working on labor day*

        Thanks for the comments! One reason I was offered the interim position was that I tend to think differently and have been advocating for change in my department. But at the same time, I’ve learned a great deal over the last year to know what can change, needs to change, and what is working quite well. I’m hoping like you say I can take advantage of the “opportunity to dig in deep.”

    3. Clay on my apron*

      Good luck.

      Don’t be complacent and assume the job is yours. (You’re clearly not making that mistake.)

      As an internal candidate you might not think to ask the same questions, for example, the AAM classic “what does great performance look like in this role?” (paraphrased) or “how does this role contribute to the company’s success?”

      Of course, don’t ask questions you clearly know the answers to. That would seem… disingenuous?

      Make sure you can explain why you are interested in the position and that type of thing.

      And make sure you’re clear on the full scope of the role, if you have only being doing part of it.

      1. working on labor day*

        Thanks for the comments! All good ideas. I do have questions about how the permanent role will be different from the interim, which I will be asking. Plus still waiting for the job ad to be posted–been announced, but not posted, so I don’t know exactly what it will say….

    4. That's Ms. To You*

      I am late to reply here, but hoping my experience may be of some help. I have been an internal twice candidate before, and have successfully received the jobs for both. I work in state government, so that may be somewhat different; we always have panel interviews (3 interviewers IME), and they ask the same questions to every candidate, and they have to write down your entire answer for comparison/for the record. So my advice: always give full, complete answers that demonstrate all of your KSA; don’t assume that “processing the TPS Reports” means that they know it entails all 57 different steps across 3 different software applications: spell it all out. At the end of each answer, I always ask “Did I fully answer that question, or is there anything I can clarify on that?” Sounds like you’re on the right track, by not assuming the job is yours, and realizing you need to be prepared for this interview as an interview (as opposed to, say, an informal meeting). In the end, they are looking for the person who is best suited for the job, so make sure to explain all the reasons why you believe you are that person. Good luck! Please let us know how it goes!!

  20. Listless*

    My director and I talked about moving me to a different team where my skill set would be better used. That was months ago. I’m losing steam and getting calls from recruiters. I’ve asked for updates and he doesn’t have any. I’ve only been at my job for 8 months. How long should I wait before I find something else? Am I out of line for looking elsewhere at this point? I like my company but the account itself is not my favourite and I feel like I won’t be able to excel. I dont want to leave the company but am worried constantly that I’ll get a poor review.

    1. WellRed*

      Why aren’t you looking already? You haven’t been at the company long and it sounds like a bad fit out of the gate, combined with lack of any movement on your director’s part. And you are getting calls from recruiters? All the signs are there. Heed them!

    2. Clay on my apron*

      Did you join the company expecting something different from the role you are in? It seems as though you spoke to your director only a few months after you started. If you are getting calls from recruiters and radio silence from your boss, it’s probably time to start going for interviews.

    3. Artemesia*

      You have asked and your boss has ‘agreed’ to try to move you to work you want to do and would be good at but he hasn’t done it — for months, right? It is not important to him. I’d pursue options offered by recruiters and your reason at interview would be the major change in job from what you were told when you were hired. You might have one more clear conversation about time frame with the boss, but if the result is not — we will be moving you to X team next month, then you have your answer which is ‘you are not very important to me.’

      1. Listless*

        Thank you all for your replies! I’ve been at the company for 8 months but had previously worked there for several years. I really like the organization and have had the opportunity to help out on other teams where the fit is definitely better. I didn’t necessarily think about it in these ways and felt guilty about taking recruiting calls. I will take this fresh perspective with me!

        1. londonedit*

          As long as your CV isn’t littered with 8-month stints, I don’t think you have to worry too much about how long you’ve been in your current job. I think most employers would consider ‘I took my current job expecting to do X, Y and Z – unfortunately the scope of the job changed and those opportunities were not forthcoming, so I’m looking for a role that allows me to use my skills in X, Y and Z as I’d intended’ to be a reasonable reason for job-hunting.

  21. Not My Money*

    My job has been super chaotic for a couple of weeks now. Our house/cat sitter bailed on us so we had to deal with that. Then my boss got hospitalized for pneumonia (ICU). Then the actual workload went up 50% and the holiday means 5 days of work have to be done in 4 days. Plus, a planned shift to the east coast has been stalled (because someone didn’t do his job and was possibly getting kickbacks) and we still don’t know if we’re staying or going. It’s getting to the point that either decision will mean a hiatus so they can catch up behind the scenes. So many balls in the air and there’s practically nothing I can do except wait.

  22. possum possum possum*

    Five years ago, I started working as an entry level Llama Groomer for a large organization. I’ve learned so much at my job, and have grown to love Llama Grooming. I completed my Llama Studies masters program a few years ago, and ideally I would try to land a pro-level Llama Groomer position… but as it turns out it’s kind of a dying sub-field within my industry. It’s the kind of traditional, fiddly work that administrators are eager to slash from their budgets. I’ve been applying to professional Llama Trainer and Llama Organizer jobs, since those are more plentiful and I have the education to fit them too, but they’re still pretty competitive and I haven’t had much luck yet.

    Recently I got to actually apply for a Professional Llama Groomer position. The only catch for me personally, is that it’s for an organization with an explicitly Christian mission. I grew up Christian in a vague sense, but have never been a church-goer, or comfortable with religion being a big part of my personal life – it’s a long, boring story I won’t get into.

    This particular place claims modern, progressive kind of Christianity and affirms LGBTQ identities – I don’t think I could consider it at all if not. The application website has a prominent non-discrimination statement, and states that they welcome employees of all faiths and unless the job specifically requires preaching gospel, they have no expectation that employees will be practicing Christians. But I do worry that at a place like this, whether it’s this one or any other similar place I would apply to in the future, that I would have a hard time fitting in. Does anyone here who isn’t a practicing Christian have positive (or negative) experience working for this kind of org? I know it’s a sticky subject and I don’t want to start any flame wars but I’m feeling anxious about it and want to hear from others who have been in a similar position.

    1. Reba*

      Based on the experience of my relative, who works for the church we grew up in, in an arm that is very diverse in terms of culture, religion, and nationality… I would say that their org manages it well (similar to policies you describe) but you would still need to have a bit of a thick skin with individual colleagues and stakeholders who may assume everyone’s a member or even among members that everyone has the same opinions…. Or who may just be kind of generally patriarchal? Otoh they might consider diversity of perspectives to be beneficial to the org.

      If you proceed I’d try to probe the authority structures and the participation of ministers and other church stakeholders in the work that you’d be doing.

      Good luck!

      1. possum possum possum*

        Thank you for this perspective! And that’s a good tip to figure out how authority is structured beyond my particular department, if they do call me up for an interview. :)

      2. Gaia*

        This is a good point, actually. It was always assumed by new people, clients, or outside stakeholders that I was Christian. For me, this was something I just disregarded as this didn’t bother me. But I understand how it could bother others and it is something to consider. Even in the best intentioned organizations, assumptions will be made by some. Consider whether or not you would feel the need to correct this or whether you could just internally roll your eyes – both of which are valid reactions.

    2. Leaving clinical practice*

      I’m Jewish, pro-choice, and queer, and I worked in a Catholic hospital providing reproductive care. There were some points of friction but overall the experience was very positive. While there were some areas where my approach to care differed from theirs, there were lots of things we really agreed on that the Catholic hospital system really emphasized, like the idea that addressing poverty is an essential health service, or that emotional and spiritual support is a key element of health. It did take awhile to get used to the crucifixes in all the patient rooms, but I found overall that we had more common ground than not, and the hospital policies were very supportive of clinicians who wanted to find workarounds for services that couldn’t be provided within that system, like terminations of pregnancy. I was also far from the only non-Christian working there.

      I would approach it like any other organization – find out if you’re a good fit for the institutional culture in general. Do you, in general, share values? When you meet the staff, do they seem welcoming? How do they interact with external partners? Kick the tires just like you would with any job, and trust your gut.

      1. possum possum possum*

        Thank you for sharing your experience! You raise a good point about examining which values I agree with as well as those I don’t. The org I’m looking at does have values and outreach that I can support, even if I might not agree with every aspect of their mission. (And my current workplace is a secular one, but I have conflicts with some of the institutional values here too.) I’ll keep these things in mind if I get an interview. :)

    3. Gaia*

      I grew up Christian and refer to myself as culturally Christian (I give gifts for Christmas and eat Reese’s eggs for Easter but do not attend church and ascribe no particular meaning to these holidays other than gifts and candy although I recognize to both people who are spiritually Christian or not at all Christian they do definitely have more meaning) but I am an atheist. I worked at an organization that sounds similar and it was actually really okay.

      They were overtly Christian and their mission was Christian and they had a church in the building that held services a few times a day. But I was openly not Christian and was never pressured to attend to any of these things as my work did not relate to it in any way. They were very intentional about non discrimination. Both myself and my coworker that was Jewish were included in conversations that had religious components but if we had differing views, it was always welcomed. The one time a new worker reacted with surprise that I did not want to join her at church, she was quietly spoken to by management. So long as we did not directly contradict their message to clients, we were welcome as we are.

      That said, this isn’t always the case and this organization was led by someone that truly believed that even though their mission and work was religious in nature, they needed to be actively welcoming to all people. I would do your due diligence on any organization that is religious in a way that you are not. Be sure it is not just lip service. Ask questions in an interview. Make it clear (in a not weird way) that you do not follow their faith and that you want to be sure this won’t be a problem.

      Good luck!

      1. possum possum possum*

        I’ve arrived at exactly the same cultural Christian conclusion :) your experience is reassuring. The place I applied to sounds a lot like the one where you worked. I had figured the best way to go in an interview would be to not allude to my own beliefs in any way, but maybe it would be better to to be more upfront and find out for sure what kind of environment it would be. Thanks!

        1. Gaia*

          I don’t remember where I heard the phrase “cultural Christian” first but it really resonated with me because I was never comfortable saying I’m not at all Christian because while I’m technically not, I did grow up with the traditions and I do still celebrate the bigger holidays (although not with the religious backing). So this really fits me best.

          I would ask explicit questions around what it is like for people who are not of the same faith. You can start the conversation by alluding to their diversity statement, etc. Talk about it like any other culture fit, matter of fact.

    4. Clay on my apron*

      You should weigh up the opportunity to get experience in your preferred field (high possibility of this, guaranteed even) against the likelihood that this will be an uncomfortable environment for you to work in (seemingly low possibility based on their statement but not impossible).

      And if the environment doesn’t work out for you, you are in a better position to look for a similar position elsewhere, with some relevant experience.

      You should be considering what your career path will be though, if this is a field of work that is on its way out.

      1. possum possum possum*

        Thank you! The last bit is something I’ve been considering, and it’s why I’ve been mostly looking in adjacent subfields. I’m pretty young and I fear the possibility of getting pigeonholed in a dying field. I do think it’s short-sighted that employers in my field aren’t employing Llama Groomers as much anymore – if I land this job, I might be in a position to be an advocate, but it’s difficult to swim against the current.

        1. Clay on my apron*

          It depends why it’s dying. If it’s because it’s genuinely not needed, vs because it’s seen as lower value than other llama related work. If the latter you might find it beneficial to have experience in this as well as adjacent fields. Good luck!

    5. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Fair warning–a case just came out of a lesbian offered a job teaching and then having it revoked the same day (after she sighed the contract) at a Catholic school that happily broadcast their ‘commitment to treating students and staff fairly no matter if they were LGBTQ”. Investigate thoroughly and if in the US, realize any LGBTQ person can be easily rejected from there as well as fired outright.

      1. Evan Þ.*

        If we’re thinking about the same case, that was because the school technically reported to the Catholic diocese, which had a different policy and ordered the school to fire the teacher. Either way, that’d be something to verify – is the organization responsible to any outside bodies?

    6. Orange You Glad*

      There will quite possibly be prayer at work – I’ve worked for Christian organizations multiple times and one started every meeting of 3+ people with a prayer (thankfully not 1-on-1’s) and another had prayers only for large all staff quarterly meetings. Both had prayer whenever there was food served; like the company Christmas party or catered lunch.

      But as a minor female staff member I wasn’t ever asked to lead or give the prayers; it was always senior male staff.

    7. OneWorkingMama*

      I work for a very large non-profit that is Christian but very open to all. Here in the Bible Belt, it still is a very open and welcoming place. We have staff and participants of all faiths and no faith, a wide range of LGBTQ staff in both leadership and front line positions, etc. and it has never been an issue. We do pray in every meeting but it’s always brief and no one is ever required to pray or lead devotional, it’s strictly voluntary. We are more about the mission than worrying about who someone prays to (or whether they do at all). I hope you give the role a chance, it sounds like it could be an awesome fit for you! Good luck!

    8. Teapot Maker*

      I work for a Christian company in a pretty conservative, heavily Christian area but am not Christian. My experience has been different from what I expected in both positive and negative ways. We don’t pray at company meetings, which I was expecting. But there have been some policies/attitudes that are more patriarchal than I was expecting. For example, only recently can two employees of opposite genders go on overnight work trips without taking a third employee.
      I agree with other posters that it’s important to see how your values line up with the company’s even if they don’t have the same roots. I have very similar values to my company’s mission/values, but mine come from sources other than Christian faith. I would also look at size of the location you would be at /the company as a whole. As my company has grown, I feel much less in a minority than I think I would have when we were much smaller (>300 employees vs <100 employees).

    9. LTRFTC*

      I’m non-religious, working for an explicitly Christian organisation. It’s in our mission, values, we pray together at the beginning and end of meetings. I really struggled in the beginning as a queer person, as I was afraid they would find out and ostracise me, in addition to a general uncomfortableness with religion in general, and Christianity in specific.

      Honestly, it’s been amazing for me. I intentionally reframed it to myself – prayer as an expression of our hopes and goals and community, references to God and Jesus as references to the good we hope to do and the values we hold, etc. It helps that my organisation and my boss are driven to help others and spread kindness. Whether they do that because of the Ten Commandments or something else doesn’t ultimately matter to me.

      Also worth keeping in mind that you won’t be the only non-religious one there! Good luck :)

    10. Dancing Otter*

      I worked at one time for the Catholic archdiocese, although I was raised Lutheran at a time when the Lutheran church still had a very negative attitude toward Rome. And of course, it went both ways – those Lutheran heretics!
      Other than being hugged by a nun (She *really* appreciated a budget report, of all things. My predecessor was beyond incompetent.), I didn’t have any issues.

  23. gogol*

    I’m starting a new position on Thursday and have nerves about the social aspect. I’m young but generally feel more comfortable working with older people who have diverse, varied experiences. This is because I feel less pressure to fit in with them. My new organization however skews heavily toward young people. The people who interviewed me from my team were young, my boss is young, etc. etc.
    Basically, my fear is that I’ll click with people on my first day and then have to keep up with being social and fun throughout the rest of my time there. For whatever reason, the word “charade” comes to mind. By nature, I’m fairly reserved and work-oriented, and prolonged social interactions stress me out. On the other hand, I don’t want to be seen as humorless, judgmental, or standoffish. Any advice?

    1. fposte*

      I get where you’re going–it’s easier to be a piece on the mosaic than to be a “one of these things is not like the others”–but I think there’s plenty of middle ground there. You can get along with people the first day without being obliged to go to barbecues with them in perpetuity. If you have a tendency to overperform a bit at first dial it back, concentrating instead on listening while looking pleasant and asking the occasional question rather than going full banter. But it also sounds like the call here is coming from inside the house–most workplaces barely learn your name in the first week, let alone how fun you are, so it would be okay to start with some new-job adrenaline and drop back some when it ebbs.

    2. LCL*

      You’re overthinking it. Go to a park or the beach or museum or whatever location you prefer and allow yourself to be immersed in the surroundings and forget about the new job until you get there.

    3. Goose Lavel*

      Get a copy of the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. It’s an oldie but a goodie and most of the advice is still spot on today cuz Human Nature doesn’t really change.

      1. Liane*

        Agreed. There’s a reason the title became a proto-meme/part of pop culture decades ago. The book is really about being a decent human being, seeing things from the other person’s view, etc. My late father, a small businessman, took the course based on the book, and praised its value the rest of his life. I reread it every decade or so and need to pull it out again.

  24. peanutbutty*

    I’ll soon be starting a new job – with manager who understands my role!!

    For the past ~7 years (pretty much my whole working life) I have been working as a “team of one” as the only person in my division with my particular skills/ expertise/ role focus. My line managers have ranged from terrible to good, but none of them have really had a good working knowledge of what my role involves day to day, and I have pretty much been left to set my own priorities and determine my own workload.

    I successfully applied for a new job, in a similar role but as part of a team, including my direct manager, who do similar roles and have similar backgrounds/ expertise. I am incredibly excited about this in terms of opportunities to learn, collaborate, progress…

    But I am also slightly worried that my job history as a one-person-band means I have no experience of being managed by someone who really understands my work. I have no experience of having someone else work with me on setting direction and priorities and I am worried in case I feel suffocated.

    How do I know what is micro-managing and what is a normal boss-employee relationships? How much direction is normal? (Context: UK public sector, job description talks a lot about working independently and taking initiative).
    How do I best prepare myself to make the most of this new situation and amazing opportunity?

    1. Clay on my apron*

      This is a fantastic opportunity. It’s also going to be really challenging for you.

      You’ve been managing yourself your entire work life, which has pros and cons. You’re obviously a self starter who can work independently. On the other hand, you’ve been your own coach, you may have picked up some bad work habits and you’ve not developed the ability to work with a team of your peers.

      Stop worrying about being micromanaged, and consciously focus on the learning opportunity that will be available to you in this new role. You will have not only an experienced manager but peers with different experience and skillsets to learn from. You’ll also learn to work with a team with is a whole ‘nother skillset.

      It *will* probably feel stifling because you’re used to calling the shots, but realise that it’s your manager’s job to give you direction and oversight, and to guide your development so that you are an asset to the team. That may clash with the way you’ve taught yourself to work. It’s tough to set aside what you know and embrace a different approach but that’s how we learn.

      If your manager is a micromanager, you’ll soon pick this up from your colleagues who will, at least some of them, the experience of working under someone senior in the same field.

      And if you’re not learning but you are suffocating, maybe this isn’t the opportunity it appears to be.

      Best of luck.

      * I have a very zen approach to this because I have worked on many projects that didn’t meet my expectations. Eventually I realised that the only thing I was guaranteed to take from a project is what I learned. That became my benchmark for whether the project was worth my while.

      1. Peanutbutty*

        Thank you! Yes definitely part of my worry is that I have probably developed lots of bad habits or inefficient ways of working and these are all about to be found out. I currently have a reputation, including with the team I’ll be moving to, for doing outstanding work and am worried about living up to those expectations with peers and a manager who actually know what I’m doing and can asses my work properly!!
        But as ArtsNerd says below, I just need to focus on the positives and embrace the opportunity to get feedback and learn better ways of doing things.

    2. ArtsNerd*

      When I was in this situation, I actually really loved it. It was the first time I’d ever received helpful feedback on how to improve!

      And letting her set the direction of what needed to be done let me focus on doing the parts of the job I was best at, and I learned a lot based on how she approached stuff and choices she made that I would have done differently. Gave me a broader ‘toolbox’ to draw from, if that makes sense.

      One thing is that my boss and I worked really collaboratively. I was receiving direction, not orders. We could talk through our thinking with each other and make decisions from there. It helped that her direction was great — there were very few times that I felt she was off-base.

      Not everyone gets the extreme fortune of having such a great boss though, so I’d look out for these things in particular:
      • Does the hiring manager truly respect the expertise you’re bringing to the role?
      • Will you have autonomy within your projects or will you be working with the boss every step of the way?
      • Is the boss thinking strategically? “After we wrap up X, we need to start getting Y in the works”
      • How accessible is the boss?

      I’ve found that a lot of micromanagers disappear for large swaths of time between turning their attention to the minutiae of what you’re doing because they’ve immersed themselves in some other minutia. It’s startling when you’re left alone for months without connecting with your manager, and then suddenly have the silliest things nitpicked simply because you caught their attention again.

      And internally:
      • Are you open to changing the way you’ve always done things?
      • How do you respond when someone else is wrong? Can you be diplomatic? Can you let the little things go?

      Sharing drafts and getting feedback and edits from your boss is normal. Some “no, use this word and not that word” is normal. 10 rounds of revisions because it’s still not exactly what the Boss envisioned it to be is not normal (in my experience, anyway.)

  25. Matilda Jefferies*

    I’m starting my new job this week! There’s a lot that’s new about it – different organization, different industry, my first manager position, and the program itself doesn’t actually exist yet within the org – it’s going to be my job to build it. So I have a LOT of questions! Most of them are pretty amorphous at this point, since I don’t know what I don’t know, but no doubt I’ll be taking over the Friday open threads as I start to realize just how overwhelmed I am. ;)

  26. it happens*

    Since it’s a bonus open thread, I’m going to ask a question that’s been on my mind all summer. I would really like to hear from anyone who has worked as a sidewalk charity solicitor. From my perspective it seems to be a terrible, difficult job because you are in the sun, on a sidewalk trying to catch people’s eyes all day. I feel awful passing them on the sidewalk, but I legitimately have a charitable giving plan and would not give any money this way (so sure, you are allowed to think that I do not care about children/the environment/animals, whatever it is your clipboard has on it.)
    If any of you have done this could you talk about your experience? Thanks

    1. Mirabellaninani*

      I did it for a year back in 2006/07 when I was just out of uni. This was in London for a well known charity.

      It was easily the toughest job I’ve ever done. Big highs and big lows. You are continually approaching people all day and getting continually rejected but this rolled off me pretty quickly.

      It was a good life experience which started off my career as a fundraiser but I wouldn’t recommend it to most people.

      It’s physically demanding and we would often go an hour or so out of London so the travel made it a long day.

      My contract was essentially zero hours so no sick pay etc. And this is really not a job you can do when sick.

      I felt we were looked down on by other charity staff. We had the toughest job but were definitely viewed with disdain.

      I did this job 10 years ago and it was tough then – conditions in the UK for that type of fundraising have worsened and I can only imagine it has got harder

      I worked with some… interesting characters. One male colleague came back from his lunch break boasting he’d got a blow job in an alley.

      1. Mirabellaninani*

        Also, saying a polite “no thank you ” is fine. Being blanked is rude. Being told I need to go home and wash is worse

        1. it happens*

          Thanks for telling your story. Argh so sorry that people treated you that way. Rudeness is just not warranted.

        2. ...*

          Honestly I think it’s kind of rude to ask people for money repeatedly on the street. And I’ve been a fundraiser so I’ve heard it all. Rude remarks are obviously not OK but I think it’s OK to ignore. I have to say “no sorry” literally 10x to charity people and homeless to go 2 blocks in my neighborhood (super touristy upscale to a hot spot for street solititatons). I don’t mind but no sorry and fast walking is all you’ll get from me. I get asked for money or a donation literally 20-30x a day sometimes.

          1. Baru Cormorant*

            I agree. I’ll give a head nod and a wave and avoid eye contact. I think that’s plenty for a stranger asking me for money on the street.

        3. Eleanor Konik*

          One big reason people ignore charity solicitation — or go wildly out of their way to avoid solicitors — is because oftentimes any acknowledgement — even to say “no, sorry” — can lead to belligerence, argument, threats, houding, etc.

          1. RS*

            Yep +1. One of the charity solicitors for Save the Children asked me “don’t you care about children?” when I declined to donate. Another one from SPCA said I must be having a bad day when I told her no. So many solicitors are attention-hounding jerks.

            1. londonedit*

              Yeah, a friend of mine was once walking along with a shopping bag from a reasonably high-end shop – she did the ‘No, sorry’ nod to a charity collector and they yelled after her ‘If you can afford to shop THERE, why can’t you afford to GIVE TO CHARITY?’ Ugh. I’ve also had the ‘Don’t you CARE about CHILDREN??’ hyperbole. Because that’s really going to endear me to your cause.

            2. Damien*

              Someone said that to me too! And then he followed my friend and i down the street shouting after us. It was horrible.

    2. Media Monkey*

      i haven’t done it but i never give and never feel guilty. if you do give, your first year or so contributions goes to the company that you gave your donation to rather than the charity you thought you were supporting. they don’t have to care about the cause, and i regularly see the same people soliciting for different causes. a crappy job to be sure, but there are far worse ones! (in the UK, these people are commonly known as “chuggers” – charity + muggers).

    3. Grapey*

      I’ve never done this job, but I always explain that I do support their mission (if I’ve heard of it) and that I donate to other charities regularly. They have always just said thank you and are glad not to be ignored.

      Sort of related, but when it comes to people you think are scammers, I’ve found they leave you alone if you say “I don’t have time to fill this out now, but do you have a website I could look at?” Narrator: They never have a website.

    4. YetAnotherUsername*

      I did it for a week when I was between jobs. I was actually really good at it. It is a crappy job though and mostly commission based so you only make money if you are pushy. I don’t think anyone stays at it long term.

      I don’t give money to chuggers either. I have a charity budget and I put thought into what I want to do with it.

    5. Everdene*

      A family member did the training but in a mutual decison never made it to the actual work. She disagreed with the way the chugger managers wanted to position the need of the charity beneficiaries i.e ‘Tell them [the public] a blind girl will get raped because she won’t have any friends so they need to donate minimum £x per month’.

      I have also had such fundraisers call out inappropriate things to me when I’ve said a polite ‘no thank you’. I now avoid completely.

      1. Venus*

        Good for your family member! The nerve to think that blind people can’t make friends on their own…

    6. ...*

      I was a phone fundraiser and it genuinely didn’t even bother me if people told me to f*** off and die. I use a “personal policy” to get out of it. “I do support but my husband and I have a family policy to donate on an agreed upon plan! Good luck!”

    7. ..Kat..*

      In the places I have lived in the USA, many of the ones that do side walk solicitation are scams.

      Also, I don’t like being accosted by these solicitors.

  27. SoontobeSAHM*

    Thank you! This is all exactly what I needed to hear, especially the part about the internalized misogyny. I will keep all of this in mind tomorrow!

  28. Caprese Salad*

    I’m off work today, but logged in from home to go through the email account of someone that quit without notice recently. I found a completed job application that he scanned and sent to himself. I know the HR person at that company and I’m SO tempted to reach out and say, “DO NOT hire this person!” I had recently talked to them as a way to help out that now-former employee since I knew he was unhappy, but as soon as he walked out, I emailed them to say, “Disregard!” But man. I want to email them and ask them to call me on my personal phone. SO BAD. So bad.

    1. Rebecca*

      I’d leave this alone. Lots of people are unhappy with their work life, and while I don’t condone quitting without a basic 2 week notice, you didn’t do that, the former employee did. Hopefully the former employee will be happier at the new company. Would it have made any difference to you if this person gave a 2 week notice, then went to the company where you know the HR person? I just feel like let well enough alone, and move on, and maybe look at the reasons this person felt like they just needed to walk away. Maybe there’s something in your work culture, or something happened that you don’t know about.

      1. Caprese Salad*

        There’s definitely way more to the story, and I can’t really share details just in case someone at my company reads here, but he would’ve gotten a lukewarm reference from me at best. Although I know he wouldn’t have put me down as a reference anyway, because he knows he wouldn’t get a good one; I was getting ready to start managing him out. His issues were well-known throughout the company and there’s been overwhelming relief he’s now gone.

        1. Rebecca*

          I think then be glad he’s gone, focus on hiring a replacement, and not do anything to interfere with him collecting a paycheck. If he has issues with the new company, let them deal with it.

          1. Caprese Salad*

            I’m most definitely glad he’s gone after what transpired that last few weeks. I guess I just feel like I should warn my former colleague since we worked together for several years. But I’ll wait and see if I get a call. It’s very possible I won’t.

            1. Liane*

              Sounds like a mess, I am sorry.
              However since the HR person knows you and even talked with you about the this person (Before things went sour?), I would assume they would get back to you about the ex-employee if they wanted to.

            2. Observer*

              Look, your former employee was an idiot for mailing his application to his work email. But to use the information for pretty much anything but protection of your company (including picking up on projects, finding out who needs to be informed of his exit, etc.) is just kind of sleazy.

              If the HR person at the other place didn’t think to contact you, you really don’t have an obligation there.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      We live in a capitalist At Will employment situation where workers can be let go for ANY reason at any time. Likewise employees are free to leave at any time for any reason. While not ideal for your company, employee did nothing wrong by leaving for greener pastures.

      Why would you ruin this persons employment? It’s petty and vindictive.

      1. John Thurman*

        I was laid off without severance once. It felt crummy but would never occur to me to call the company’s clients to complain.
        This is prettymuch the same thing from the other side.

    3. Agnodike*

      Wait, are you saying that you acted as a reference for the employee while he was in the room, then emailed the HR person to take the reference back? And now you want to make absolutely sure he doesn’t get hired at the company? That sounds pretty rough.

      1. Caprese Salad*

        No, I haven’t given any references, nor was I asked yet. I was checking with a former colleague, who’s now at a different company, to see if they know of any openings, either at their company or another one. The former employee was unhappy, full of self-made drama, and has well-known issues, but we were trying to help him move on. But then there was a series of events–of his own doing–after I talked to that person and he quit without notice and burned many bridges on the way out. I came across a recent application for my former colleague’s company while sorting through the email account.

        1. Agnodike*

          That makes more sense, although I still think it’s probably not great in terms of professional optics for you to say one thing with the employee present and then send a private email later to take it back. If I were your HR friend, I’d feel like you’d wasted my time because you couldn’t be direct with your employee, even if that’s not the case.

          I don’t think you have any proactive obligation to “warn” colleagues about an employee with whom you’ve had a bad experience. As other commenters have pointed out, it’s hard to know how much is the employee himself and how much is just a bad situation, so it’s tough to be able to say with confidence that he won’t do well in a different environment. This dude is gone. He’s not your problem any more, so he should take up zero room in your head. If you’re asked for a reference, be honest, but otherwise the only reason to think about him would be to consider whether there are any lessons to be learned from his departure on your organization’s part.

          1. Caprese Salad*

            To be clear, he had no idea I talked to the former colleague. It was a private conversation I had with them. I was basically just putting out feelers behind the scenes, as my manager had told him we would check around for open positions. But no, he didn’t know I had talked to anyone at all.

            Anyway, we’re in the process of reorganizing the department now that he’s gone.

        2. Observer*

          Well, presumably if the colleague knows of any openings and is interested in possibly hiring your ex-employee this conversation would be a perfect opening for him to ask you for more information.

    4. CAA*

      Since you know the HR person and have been in recent contact, it seems somewhat likely that if they get to the point of hiring this person who has just left your company, they will call you and ask about him. If that happens, you are free to be honest about how he behaved when he left. If he trashed his reputation by his behavior, that’s on him and you’re not obligated to lie about it.

      I would not proactively contact the other company though. I would feel really weird if I got such a call, and would wonder if you had some kind of personal problem with the guy. I think it casts a worse light on you than on him.

    5. myug*

      I feel like there is more story here because I don’t want to believe you are *this* upset by a lack of notice. But this line: “I had recently talked to them as a way to help out that now-former employee since I knew he was unhappy, but as soon as he walked out, I emailed them to say, “Disregard!” makes me think it’s seriously just the lack of notice because it sounds like you did give him a reference and then emailed when he quit? Either way, please don’t proactively send the email. If your friend asks, then you’re free to mention he left without notice.

      If you knew he was unhappy and he left without another job lined up, then he probably felt he had to go for his own mental or physical health. I also think a notice would have been professional and courteous since you did give him a reference before but I really think he might have been going through something you didn’t know about.

  29. Nicki Name*

    Any tips on being a contractor in a professional work environment?

    It looks like my next job is going to be a contract-to-hire arrangement. This is pretty common in my industry these days, but it’ll be the first time I’ve done it. I haven’t worked hourly since I was doing part-time grunt work in college.

    It’ll be a W2 contract, if that matters (I’ll be an employee of the recruiting firm that connected me with the job until the end of the contract is reached or the company I’m working at chooses to convert me).

    1. Sunny*

      In my experiences both as the contractor and as a FT employee working with contractors, there’s basically no difference in status in terms of work, meetings, team structure, etc. We really value the current contractors for the good work they do. Do you have specific concerns?

        1. Sunny*

          There isn’t much difference, although CAA raised good points that are basically nuts-and-bolts of the different employers. I hope you find that everyone treats everyone the same!

    2. CAA*

      Ask the hiring company about how to handle overtime reporting. You probably have to record all hours worked, but if you’re an exempt position, you probably get paid straight time instead of time-and-a-half for over 40 hours/week. Either way, it can really mess with their budgets if contractors work unexpected overtime, so ask about it in advance.

      If you are not permitted to work any overtime, then make sure your colleagues who are regular FTEs know your status so they aren’t expecting you to work longer hours than are permitted. You might have to flex your schedule to match theirs in order to stay under budget and still be sufficiently available for collaboration. (Sorry to say this, but the duty of “fitting in” falls on you if you want to get converted eventually.)

      Since we’re coming up to the holiday season, ask both your employers about that. You may find that your W2 employer only gives holiday pay for Thanksgiving Day, but the hiring company also takes off the day after and you’ll go unpaid for that day unless you put in extra hours earlier in the week or within the same pay period.

      That’s all that I can think of off the top of my head, but I wish you the best of luck and hope everything works out well for you!

      1. Nicki Name*


        I do have to record my hours, and I do believe it’s all straight time. I’ve already discussed Thanksgiving week with the recruiter because I have existing travel plans. Putting in extra hours within the same pay period was mentioned, although if the hiring company doesn’t strictly need me at my desk, I’m fine with taking that time unpaid because the job I’m leaving will be paying out for a bunch of unused vacation.

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Don’t be surprised if a lot of the incentives and “fun” things don’t include you. There are a lot of rules around how to treat contractors, and I remember working in an office with a lot of temps (as a temp) and there’d pretty regularly be office-wide incentives/prizes we weren’t eligible for, and sometimes “fun” meetings we weren’t invited to. (I remember one day when about half of the office up and disappeared, leaving only the temps, for some kind of team building or motivational activity we weren’t included in because it was a “perk” rather than work-related.) This was not great for temp morale.

      This was in a mixed call center/office environment, so it hit the call center people harder than people like me doing non-phone jobs (since the company did a lot of cheap but “fun” things to try to keep the call center employees motivated). I remember an incentive where the call center folks could earn raffle tickets toward various prizes, but the temps had different, generally lesser, prizes supplied by their agencies and not all agencies even sent any prizes so those those temps didn’t have any possible prizes to win.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Yeah, the not having access to fun stuff has come up before when I was interviewing for what would have been contract jobs. In this case, we’re talking about software development, so I feel like the pay is high enough that I shouldn’t get too miffed about missing a party or two.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Yeah, I can imagine being less concerned about missing out on a raffle for a Starbucks card if you’re making software development money rather than call center money.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      Bill what you work and work what you bill was a veritable mantra at one consulting firm.

      Be extra careful about non-productive time such as non-work conversations. The employees will know you’re an outside contractor, and you don’t want them thinking their company is paying for you to sit around chatting. Remember, the contracting firm is charging the client a lot more an hour than you see.

      Be prepared that some perks are only for employees, even at your same level. Others are unrestricted. Several places subsidized cafeteria meals for employees only, for example, and another did it for anyone with a company door-pass. One place invited me along on a team outing.

  30. Jack Be Nimble*

    How do merit raises work at your work? At my org (non-profit), merit raises are granted from a pool that’s based on the salaries of everyone currently in the department (the annual budget for merit increases is 3% of the total salaries for everyone in the department). I’m not sure if this is standard.

    1. SarahKay*

      Yup, my company will budget x% merit each year, although the amount is calculated on a site level rather than a department one. The percentage increase varies from year to year, depending on the economy, success of the company last year, etc.

    2. CAA*

      Yes, in my experience (in for-profits), that’s how it’s done. At the very top level, there’s a budget that says “we’ll spend $x on labor” next year. That $x goes partly towards hiring more people (assuming the company is growing) and partly towards increasing the compensation of the existing staff members.

      Sometimes the compensation increase pool is divided out into “market” and “merit”, sometimes it just comes down as a single number. If the company divides it out, then usually every manager gets the same percentage for merit but different numbers for market depending on which part of the business they’re in and what the local competition is paying. Employees usually only know the final raise amount, not how much of it comes from each bucket.

      Generally the first level manager decides how to allocate the pool of money they’re given across their team and gets it approved by his/her manager; but usually there are some rules or guidelines. For example, there may be a rule that a person who gets a Needs Improvement rating on his performance review cannot get a raise, or it might be that nobody should get more than 5% if the average is 3%, or more than 4% requires CFO approval. Rules and approval requirements vary a lot.

    3. The Dude*

      Also at a non-profit. We’re similarly at 3% pool, but that 3% is for raises and market adjustments. So the more market adjustments are needed, the less money is available for raises.

      I’ve heard horror stories of people who were being grossly underpaid, asked for an adjustment, and their boss said “OK, but if we do that, there’s less money for your coworkers to get raises. Do you really want to do that?” It’s gross.

      We have a weird merit system here, normal merit raises and special merit raises. The special merit process is opaque, and it leads to lots of hurt feelings. (Basically, each team is only allowed to give out one special merit raise per year, but they insist it’s based on performance, and not on a ranking, so there’s always a stupid post how justification how, when 2 people had great years, one of them wasn’t really great.) Even worse, the special merit raise is like, only .3% more than the normal merit raise (think 2.7% vs 2.4%).

      The whole system is the most unhealthy thing I’ve ever seen.

    4. Pam*

      My bargaining unit (state university) has a deal where ‘merit’ increases are split evenly over all employees, once bonuses for longevity and education come out. When the merit money came in, there was lots of legitimate distrust over how management would handle it, so we pushed for the equal split.

    5. Jack be Nimble*

      Ok, good to know this is standard! I was frustrated since it seemed as though I won’t be eligible for more than a 3% raise, but it sounds like it’s my expectations that need the adjustment, not my circumstances!

      1. Jenny Next*

        I don’t think your expectations need adjustment. Employers need to seriously re-think their pay plans. A “merit” raise that barely exceeds inflation is unfair to people who are being paid below market, since they can never advance through their range. (Ask me how I know — or better yet, don’t ask, because I am beyond bitter after enduring years of that crap.)

        Cost of living + step increases is a far better system for the employee. If the actual market value of a position is decreasing, the company can forgo the cost of living increases while still allowing advancement.

        1. Baru Cormorant*

          Agreed. They’re just calling it “merit” as in “you earned this based on your great performance” when actually what they mean is “you continued to work here and inflation exists.” They’re trying to spin a basic fact as a compliment.

    6. NoLongerYoung*

      We have cost of living adjustments, which everyone kind of gets a piece of. They are not called raises, for us. But run about 2.2% or so every year, the last few years.

      Actual bonuses come out of the department pool, and those are based upon a complex algortithm (cost containment, growth targets, division reaching their goals, and you reaching your goals and your rating).

      But you get that annual increase in pay from the COLA, plus the annual bonus .

      And then market adjustments (rare, but I’ve seen 2 in 15 years, for my role). That’s happened because the industry group I work for bleeds laborers into the high tech sector (same skill set, but we are a non-profit). Periodically they can’t hire because they’ve fallen too far behind and even with our “quality of life” and “best place to work” slogans, it isn’t enough to bring in applicants.

      But raises? Only Cost of living adjustments unless the nature of your job changes.

  31. BRR*

    Any words of wisdom for getting over being laid off? I was laid off a couple months ago and got a new job right away. I almost feel like I’m more pissed about it now than when it happened. I think part of it is because I had to accept a lower position and feel like it’s a step back in my career and part of it is I was unappreciated when I was there (a huge part of that was a promise of a promotion for two years that never surfaced and I just saw they promoted yet another former coworker). I know it’s doing me no good to dwell on it but any advice for how to move on?

    1. knitter*

      I started seeing all jobs after I was laid off as simply jobs and they were to be evaluated continually if they were worth staying at or not. I also spend more time trying to define myself as a whole person, not someone who is in XXX field. So I do creative things and go on adventures with my family and make friends with similar interests not job.

      I started my career at a place that was mission driven and a “we’re family” environment. Messaging was that our work was bigger than ourselves and thus we couldn’t ask for more money/work life balance, etc. I was severely burnt out when I left. I moved to a place I loved working and believed deeply in the mission but actively set boundaries. Then this second place laid me off and eventually closed. It wasn’t unexpected (it wasn’t meeting its fundraising goals), but I had just been promoted.

      I’d take time to reassess your career goals. Think about what next steps you want to take then actively seek ways to meet your goals. See if there is an internal pipeline for promotion and ask what you need to do to succeed. See if there are any trainings that would help. Take back control of your career trajectory. And make sure you are fulfilled outside of your job.

    2. Goose Lavel*

      Sounds to me like you didn’t get to complete the grieving process over the loss of your job and you are stuck in the angry part of the grieving process.

      I’ve been laid off many times in my career and once went three months without any job prospects after just buying my first home. I went from disbelief to shock, to anger, to desperation and then finally gratitude once I landed a new job.

      You need to leave what’s in the past in the past, move forward and sing the Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life”.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I agree. I was laid off and didn’t start a new job right away (nor at all for almost a year and a half!), but the anger really didn’t set in for months. Of course it was also tied in with feeling like almost any other job would be a step down, and increasing fear that I wouldn’t even get that next job. And since I returned to that company, albeit in a new role that’s going really well, I found out that a colleague who remained was promoted while I was out. So, yeah.

        What I’ve been trying to do is focus on my career in a way I didn’t before. I was caught off guard by some gradual shifts in my field that render some of my skills less valuable in today’s job market. So, I’ve done two professional certifications in the last year and plan to do one per year through company’s tuition reimbursement. I’m a bit limited in looking at jobs outside this company for various unchangeable reasons, but if you’re able to, definitely keep your pulse on what’s available and any trends in your field. Hopefully you’ll find that this is just a temporary setback and your motivation will soon carry you into better positions where you are appreciated.

    3. 653-CXK*

      I was laid off from a job (due to the loss of a major client) almost 24 years ago. They were making noises about hiring me (and even had the insurance information!) but a few days before their Christmas party, they laid me and six other people off (and of course, disinvited us from the Christmas party). Needless to say, it was a toxic place, and soon after, the dirt and sludge washed forward (such as trysts across the street from a hotel that caused the termination of two managers, two supervisors, and four employees), so I got a little satisfaction about that.

      The best way to move on, despite of where you are, is to mourn the loss, then let it go. ExJob’s hiring practices stink and are not going to change, but you have two advantages on your side – you were able to get a new job immediately, and while that job may not be ideal to your career aspirations, if you have good mentors and colleagues, they will be more than happy to point you in the right direction.

    4. Gaia*

      I was laid off a year ago (and two days but who is counting!?) and honestly? I’m still pissed. I think I hit peak angry at about six months and it has dwindled into a kind of pity for them (they can’t seem to figure out why their data isn’t managed without a data manager. Weird, right?)

      I also took a step back for a brief while but I kept looking and found my current role which brought me back to where I was before the lay off. I try to remind myself that I wasn’t appreciated there, that in the long run it is better to be somewhere that values my work and me as a person.

      But losing a job is a real loss and you will grieve it. That is okay. Give yourself time and one day you’ll realize you haven’t even thought about it in awhile and when you do, you’re less angry now.

  32. morning glory*

    Any tips on how to deal with other teams who don’t take you seriously? I started at my current org as an admin, and was promoted over a year ago into a role that does a lot of program management. It took a bit to get the people I work with to stop treating me as an admin, but I made it work and I have excelled in my current role. I just won an award for my contributions, have taken on responsibilities beyond my current title, and am in discussions with the department head about a second title change to reflect my current work.

    But for one upcoming event, I am currently working with a team who mainly knew me in my first role as an admin and it feels like I lost all of the progress I made. Every time I speak up in a meeting, they act like the secretary forgot her place again. They are slow to respond to my emails, and think nothing of suggesting workflows that put an inappropriate and unnecessary time-burden on me. I have been good about setting boundaries in the moment on what I will and will not do, and have continued speaking up in meetings, including taking the lead on the last one when my department head could not attend.

    But should I also be pointing to the larger pattern with a few key offenders (who are senior to me, but in another department)? Or would that be making too big a thing out of it, and will continuing to move forward as I have been eventually train them how to treat me?

    This is an organization that typically treats admins like a permanent servant class – I am the only one to ever be promoted out of it in my department. I can be oversensitive to being treated like an admin, and want to make sure that I am reacting in a way that will yield the best results for the project, and not out of hurt pride.

    1. Orange You Glad*

      Congratulations on all your hard work paying off! That’s awesome!!

      Two things I’ve done in similar situations:

      #1 – Make a written list of who at work’s opinions of you are going to weigh heavily on your continued employment & promotion & getting awards. Put the names in order of most-to-least important with YOUR NAME at the top (so it might be you, your boss, & your grandboss). Everyone else’s opinion matters in an overall “reputation in the industry” way but being really clear about who decides you get raises & who doesn’t can help release some of the annoyance from these coworkers who aren’t taking you seriously. And ultimately you will someday move on from this company and it’s YOUR opinion of yourself that you’ll take with you. You are a proven badass rockstar and a few sucky coworkers can’t take that away!

      2. Always lean into their good intentions even when you know they don’t have them. Be pleasant and professional and without fault as much as possible. “Oh! I think it got overlooked – here is that link to fill out before Friday! Thanks!” when you know they are just ignoring their responsibility towards you. I think about it as being a smiling shark. Smiling because I’m being pleasant & professional & kind…shark because they only swim forwards, not backwards. And are fierce & strong. You are going to succeed whether these crappy coworkers believe you can or not and ultimately they are making themselves look bad.

      Just keep swimming & smiling & someday karma will bite all their asses!

    2. Orange You Glad*

      There are also some great threads here on AAM about sexism and people having craptastic coworkers that you could search the archives for.

      Mostly for the scripts and language of how to reassert your authority in the moment of, “I’ve got this! Thanks!” or “Thank you for agreeing with what I just said [coworker who literally just repeated your idea like it was his own]! Moving forward on the agenda…”

      You’re not imagining this, they do suck, and memorizing a few key phrases to say in the moment will be helpful.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I would suggest addressing it head-on with someone on that team….and not the leader actually. Find out if they were actually told you have a new job.
      “Fergus, a quick question. Did your group get sent the announcement about my new position? Horatio retired, and im the new project manager. I keep getting requests for the kind of work I did when I started X years ago, but that’s Jim’s job now. I want to make sure people aren’t underestimating him.”
      Of course your real point is to make sure that people aren’t under estimating YOU… but this would give them an honorable out for the past and let you point out that you’re in a new role.
      But then again, I am seen as overly direct by some former co-workers…

      1. Honoria*

        I think this is brilliantly phrased, and very clear while still exhibiting culturally required levels of “nice”.
        You come across as a pleasant and matter-of-fact (clearly) not!admin, and then shift the focus to directing praise toward the actual admin (while speaking well of them)
        Masterful Tongue-Fu!

  33. AnaJean*

    I am currently on maternity leave and asked my boss to cover a specific part of my job while I was out. She wanted to hand it off to my reports but I told her I wasn’t comfortable with that, and anyways it is standard for the department heads to take over the supervisors’ duties temporarily when things like this happen, not for it to get shifted down to their reports. She agreed and said she would cover the duties.

    Well I’ve been out 2 weeks and got a check in text today from a report mentioning they’re now doing the tasks I asked our dept head to cover. I was told she got too frustrated doing it and passed it off onto them. They don’t seem to mind doing it but I am frustrated because I specifically wanted to avoid this.

    On top of that I emailed her to check in and she lied to me saying she is doing to tasks herself.

    Should I call her on the lie? Or just give up since I’m already out for the next 2 months and there’s nothing I can do?…

    1. Observer*

      Why are you checking in on your boss and asking her how she’s handling various tasks?

      You’re on maternity leave. Let your boss do her job and stay out of it.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      Wait until you’re back at work and be sure you have the whole picture before confronting your boss. You might want to let this go, once you know the whole situation. Meanwhile, focus on your maternity leave. Make it the best maternity leave ever and congrats!

      1. AnaJean*

        Thank you! I am most likely worried about nothing. My main concern was that there was a possibility of 2 reactions from staff covering these duties. 1) resentment for extra work or 2) resentment of relinquishing the tasks once I return. But to be realistic I can’t control other people’s feelings so I probably am just being sensitive.

    3. Clay on my apron*

      I’m also confused by the dynamic here. Why would your boss be taking direction from you (and why would she feel the need to lie)?

    4. OperaArt*

      Why are you expecting your boss to follow your requests as if they were orders? Why does your boss feel the need to lie to a subordinate? Why are all of these work communications between you and your reports, and you and your boss, happening while you’re on maternity leave? I’m confused.

      1. AnaJean*

        “Why are you expecting your boss to follow your requests as if they were orders?”
        – This is a good point. She is under no obligation to honor my request. I am a new supervisor promoted above my former coworkers and the dynamic is still shakey, so I was concerned there would be frustration from them if they ended up having to cover my work on maternity. No other department gives reports the supervisor’s duties while on maternity, I assumed to avoid creating a situation where staff is resentful. A lot of this probably stems from not feeling secure in my position yet.

        “Why does your boss feel the need to lie to a subordinate?” – she HATES conflict. Of any type or amount and with anyone. She has a big heart and doesn’t want anyone mad at her or upset for any reason.

        “Why are all of these work communications between you and your reports, and you and your boss, happening while you’re on maternity leave? I’m confused.” – I handle many things in the office that no body else does/knows how to do. I did my best to train people and set up a system to cover everything while I was out, but I also told people to feel free to text/email me with any questions, which they have done. I love my job and my team and want things to run smoothly for them, so they can and do contact me frequently. My boss has never done my job so it’s fair for her to email or text me asking questions and me respond with how to do certain tasks. This was a dynamic established before the maternity leave since we often cover each others work on our non-overlapping weekends. We work really closely and rely on each other a lot.

  34. Gaia*

    Wishing you safeness from the West Coast!

    I have a close friend in Miami and she messaged me this morning saying waiting has her more on edge than the actual hurricane.

  35. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    We have a work departmental meaning on Monday mornings, we mostly sit at our desks while one of the heads reads out announcements. Today he called out my name, and I was like, “Uh….present?” And he told me that there was an update on one of our new business clients. He’d heard it from my boss, and wanted to tell me as a surprise. Except it’s not much of an update (think: we have just gotten authorisation to paint the teapots that we were discussing earlier, but the teapots are still in a truck on the way to the painting warehouse. Like, a very low-level update. And the update had nothing to do with my work, it had to do with the person in Teapot Authorisation sending an email.) First of all, I didn’t hear him (he doesn’t speak very clearly during these things) so he repeated it, and then I just looked at him and went, “Right.”

    He stared at me like I’d sprouted a new head; everyone followed his lead. Then he said, “It’s exciting isn’t it?” And I just nodded. Then someone went “AWKWARD!” and everyone laughed. Then he KEPT TALKING about how great it was to get updates on new business and how it was clearly because I’d worked so hard (again – it had nothing to do with me. All it meant from my end was that I had to start some supply chain stuff that had been waiting for authorisation. This is not the stuff that we usually share at a department meeting, e.g. “hey guys lucky me I get to fill in a New Services Form for finance”). And people laughed, and he asked “[My name] isn’t it great to get updates?” I gave him a thumb’s up and considered entering witness protection.

    After the meeting, instead of ignoring what was a weird and awkward interaction which shouldn’t have mattered, he then came to my desk for a “Hey, so I heard about this update and wanted you to be surprised!”
    Me: “Yarp.”
    Him: “Your hard work blah blah blah”
    Me: “I didn’t do anything?”

    Since then, I had two more co-workers come up to me and be like, “WOW WHAT HAPPENED?” And my grandboss called me and asked if I was upset (?!)

    I have no idea what happened! I dunno what I was meant to do! I just know that there was a test and I failed it spectacularly. I wish I had some idea of what the right spur-of-the-moment reaction would’ve been, but my introvert self didn’t bring it to the table.

    It wouldn’t bug me so much except I made two errors right at the end of last week, both centered around miscommunications, when I usually think I’m OK at professional communications. So now I just feel like my boss and other higher-ups just think I’m this huge dingdong with an attitude problem. While both of those issues are resolved, between that and this morning’s kerfuffle my professional rep in the organisation is probably slightly tarnished.


    1. Myrin*

      I don’t think this was a test (unless there’s more to this situation than you’re mentioning) – it sounds like the head was just strangely excited about this update for some reason. Or maybe not so strangely? I wonder if he’s more deeply involved with this particular project or if it’s in his pet area or something?

      As for how to react in the moment – I personally probably would’ve asked if he’s got me confused with someone else because this actually has very little to do with me. But that’s just me and my overly big mouth. I don’t think there’s a “right” spur-of-the-moment reaction because frankly, the situation sounds somewhat bizarre, but maybe faking an enthusiastic “oh wow, that’s so great to hear!” even while the inside of your head looked like “??????” would’ve been it?

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Thinking about it, I think he’s really excited about having something – anything! – to talk about, and you’re right, the “oh wow!” reaction would’ve done the trick. Thanks!

    2. fposte*

      First off, I adore your username. My tone-deaf mother would attempt to warble the source song when I was a child, so it has fond associations.

      What I’m thinking from here is that he’s a rah-rah-cheerleader guy and saw this as a big “Everybody applaud!” situation, and you…didn’t. I can’t tell whether this is a client you’re generally associated with and that it made some sense to take this to you because of your ownership, or if he just got it spectacularly wrong and you have nothing to do with them at all.

      What I’m also thinking is that you run to the literal side, and sometimes the emotional truth matters more than the literal truth when it comes to relationships. I don’t think that you need to fully break out the pom-poms, but an enthusiastic playing along with the subtext isn’t always a bad thing: “Yes! It’s great that OurCo is working with ThatBusiness, and we’re looking forward to getting at those teapots!” can be a way of meeting the extended hand without having to know exactly what you’re shaking them about.

        1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

          This is a super helpful comment, thank you! I deffo wasn’t in a good headspace this morning to Read the Room and kind of…dug in on my literalness? Not entirely conciously, I realise now, but as a defence mechanism (in my brain I was feeling so far away from understanding what was going on, I instinctively began putting up DOES NOT COMPUTE signs with my reactions to try and close him down). Yeah, a bit of forced cheer and a pom-pom wave would’ve done the trick, though on reflection I’m almost glad for the awkwardness as I think I may have learned more about what this blind spot of mine is.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      It really sounds like the dept head thought you were more involved with the announcement subject than you were (like maybe not understanding your actual role) and so expected a totally different reaction, then couldn’t let it go. I’ve had that happen to me multiple times, not giving the enthusiastic reaction that people expect, because I missed something about the situation. Like, I once had a boyfriend tell me he cheated on me and my entire reaction was, oh? huh, that sucks. I wasn’t super-into the relationship, I guess, so it just didn’t really bother me. He had no idea what to do with that because I didn’t yell or cry or anything that he was prepared for. So he kept bugging me about it because of his own feeling of guilt until I finally got sick of him begging for drama that I gave him some.

      It feels awkward if someone acts weird that you didn’t perform properly in the moment, and it feels awkward if you also try to perform properly after the fact, so I don’t think you can win. But I also don’t think this will have a long standing effect on how people see you. Think of it as a momentary glitch.

      1. Put the Blame on Edamame*

        Thanks so much – yeah, he was clearly bought in on something that I was detached from, and that was the bridge I failed to cross. At the time it did feel awful, I am usually fairly “water off a duck’s back” but in that moment I was in school again, being called on by the teacher for something I’d not studied for.

        With any luck they’ll forget it much quicker than I will… no way it could feel as bad on their side as it did on mine.

        (The guy who called out “AWKWARD!” will remain on my private sh!t list for a while though.)

  36. Lana Del Slay*

    I feel you on that. I have an aunt in Melbourne who may or may not be evacuating — we won’t know until she does or doesn’t. [gulp] Good luck, and I hope you’re not too hard-hit.

  37. babblemouth*

    My manager exudes toxic negativity. She’s constantly saying things like: “Everyone is the other teams are stupid; the company would be better off if we fired 90% of that other department; the processes are all dumb and unnecessary, except for the ones she personally put in place; our suppliers are inefficient; HR is useless; we can’t hire anyone decent because we’re based in the wrong part of the country.”

    I and other members of the team have tried to raise this with her directly, and through HR feedback. She’s refused to admit there’s a problem, and said we’re just as negative because we bring problems to her. Because she’s done some good things aside from that like ensuring several of us got promotions, she’s refusing to hear that this is something that’s getting to everyone in the team.

    Anyway, I’m looking for another job because this is stiffling and sucking up my energy. But in the meantime, does anyone have a coping technique?

    1. Just a PM*

      Can you shut down the conversation? Me and my coworkers had to do this with our just-departed toxic boss who kissed up and kicked down. We would either try to redirect her (“I disagree, but we can discuss that later. I really need to talk to you about <> – do you have a minute?”) or shut her down (listen but don’t be reactive or responsive and after 15 secs or so, say “I’ve got to follow up on something with <>. Can I catch up with you later on this?” and get out). It also helped to take up a stress-relieving hobby where you can take some of your aggression and frustration out physically — a couple of us did kickboxing when our fitness center offered classes. (Our boss was a special breed of toxic who threatened that she’d cancel our leave requests if we didn’t do what she wanted and she tried to pit us against one another by gossiping about our problems and challenges, including personal details, …hope yours isn’t that bad.)

      1. Just a PM*

        Ack, sorry, the alligators didn’t post. It should be “I disagree but we can discuss that later. I really need to talk to you about (why you came to see her) – do you have a minute?” and “I’ve got to follow up on something with (coworker/someone who’ll cover for you). Can I catch up with you later on this?”

    2. Orange You Glad*

      So I wouldn’t share this with your coworkers because the potential for boss to find out & you look bad is HIGH…but I think you need some Bad Boss Bingo.

      You draw on a Post-it 5×5 squares and then each one is a complaint/toxic negativity that your boss repeats all the time but you only put a keyword or the first letter of each word in the square so nobody looking at it knows what it is.

      Like if she always says “The other department sucks!” then one square has TODS written in it. And each week you play and for every bingo 5-in-a-row you get, you reward yourself. Could be a candy bar in your drawer saved for bingo or a special bath bomb soak when you get home – whatever YOU enjoy!

      Each week is a new sheet & you make a tiny check mark for each phrase she says. If it’s really bad, it could even be each day.

      It totally changes your perspective on what she’s saying because you are looking for that bingo!

      Note: this is a stopgap while you change jobs and don’t tell anyone you work with what you are doing because it will get out & your boss will find out & it will be bad for your reputation. But playing privately? Totally fine!

    3. NespressoCosi*

      My way is to try to respond with something positive, like “But HR are great at such and such” or “Could we try to change our approach to dealing with them? This way might work better.”

  38. Fondant Fancy*

    Hello, this is my first post after being addicted to this site for months now- thanks for the great advice everyone!

    A question I’d like to ask is this:

    I have been at my medium-sized not-for-profit job for about 2.5 years. It’s my first proper job after university. I’m not that young, it just took ages to get through education!

    I love the work I do, and I used to love the organization. I have received really good feedback from senior staff, have been promoted twice, and have a lot of (..too many..) big projects to lead. However, over the last few months, I have gone from loving my job to finding the workplace toxic, for several reasons I won’t go into here, but in short a relationship breakdown with my boss after a previously excellent relationship, and a changing culture that just doesn’t feel a good fit for me anymore.

    I’m struggling to get over either aspect and am thinking about applying for other jobs in my field (at moment just browsing, but a wonderful sounding job just came up), but am pretty sure my organization will see me as disloyal and I won’t be able to leave on good terms. However, leaving on good terms is pretty important if I go into a related role as I would almost definitely come into frequent contact with them, and they have a lot of standing in our field. I think leaving will be fairly disruptive, as a lot of staff have left over the last couple of years (for various reasons not to do with the organization- in general most people are happy and have high praise for the organization, which in many ways is great), I lead a lot of projects, and I think they see me as taking on more responsibility rather than bailing. In the past, they have talked about wanting to build up and support staff like me who are talented and likely to go into key senior roles. While my relationship with my boss is now strained, I don’t think this expectation has fundamentally changed.

    However, while I do feel bad about it, unless the relationship and/or culture change dramatically (seems unlikely), leaving is pretty essential for my mental health, which has been dire, and I cannot continue like that. I could also see myself working remotely (which many people at the organization do), but they recently decided to clamp down on that as too many people were asking for it.

    My question is- how can I improve my chances of leaving on good terms and with as little disruption as possible?

    And, more generally- on what occasions do organizations expect loyalty? Is it fair to expect it? How big of a deal is it?

    I have sooo many more questions. Look out..!

    1. Gaia*

      The best way to leave on good terms (within your control) is to give sufficient notice – for most roles this is two weeks in the US – and to document processes in advance, where you can.

      Healthy, stable, non-toxic organizations do not expect loyalty. They realize that even the best employees move on for a variety of reasons sometimes. Unhealthy, toxic organizations expect absolute loyalty at all times. Don’t use them as your standard. Assume that your organization will handle this professionally unless you have seen evidence of them handling other departures poorly. If you have seen that, prepare for that but still handle yourself as if they will be professional.

      As long as you maintain your professionalism you’ll be fine. It might not be a smooth departure, but you’ll get through it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      You say that a lot of staff have left in the past few years. Were they all seen as “disloyal”? If so, was there an effect that you know of on their standing in the larger field?

      I think leaving a first job after 2 1/2 years is very reasonable. If your company GENERALLY has unreasonable expectations of continued employment, then surely your larger community recognizes that and will discount a negative attitude from your employer after you leave. If your company generally doesn’t have such unreasonable expectations, then why do you think they would have them just about you and your position?

      If you have a good relationship with anyone who’s left recently, that you trust to maintain confidentiality, you might have coffee with them and ask them about this. Another option could be to talk to someone higher up in your chain of command about your career prospects and trajectory in general. That could give you some information about how they generally view people who don’t stay with them forever (!), and it also might give you some soft ammunition when you do leave and cite some unspecified career growth opportunity.

      1. Fondant Fancy*

        Thanks both. No, they weren’t seen as disloyal at all, but they had strong personal reasons for leaving and had been there for longer. Basically, I think I would be seen as disloyal because they see themselves as having invested a lot in me.. which on some levels they did. I was mentored by the director (which is why we previously had a great relationship), and I had a short series of career coaching sessions, which is not common. Also, due to the recent fracture in our relationship, I don’t think there is a huge amount of goodwill, so they’d perhaps take it in a more negative way than they usually would. I feel a bit stuck, because I really don’t want to burn a bridge, but desperately want a healthy, sane mind back!

        Tips on dealing with relationships gone sour with bosses are also welcome..!

        Having coffee with someone who’s left is a great idea and is actually in the works ;)

    3. peanutbutty*

      Are you in the UK or somewhere where there are usually employment contracts?
      In that case, here is what I have done/ would do:
      Give at least the minimum notice period on your contract, and make sure the new role knows this notice period when you apply. A shorter notice period can sometimes be negotiated, but I would never promise that. I would just say something neutral which flags that (at least in my sector) negotiation MIGHT be possible but is at discretion of current job. I say “my current contract has a standard 3 month notice period” when asked about notice period/ start date.
      Before you let manager know you’ll be moving on (give your notice in person, or worst case on the phone rather than email), identify any particularly important or time sensitive items of work and suggest prioritising those before you leave.

      I also think it’s important to remember that leaving a job/ organisation, especially after 2.5 years, is not disloyal or controversial. Of course it may be disruptive in the short-term, but you dealt with the disruption of other colleagues leaving, and so others will cope with the disruption of you leaving.


      If it’s genuinely seen as “disloyal”, that’s another reason to apply for jobs elsewhere, IMO.

      I’d also advise you to (others may disagree) to start out by applying to a few jobs that you like but aren’t 100% sure about – rather than waiting for the dream job or ideal fit. It gives you chance to get back in the recruitment mind-set at slightly lower stakes than going in for a “dream job” application straight away.

      1. Fondant Fancy*

        Thanks- that is really, really good advice. I hadn’t thought about it until you said it, but going for the dream job straight away could be another blow at an already difficult time. Cheers.

    4. MaxiesMommy*

      Can you go to a similar for-profit job? Because that would handle everything—it’s not about management or coworkers or awful board members, it’s just that at ForProfitCo they’ve offered 15% more and you really need a new car.

  39. Gaia*

    I work for a non-profit which provides services and advocacy for llama groomers. I am not a llama groomer, but I think llama groomers are often treated unfairly and I wanted to have my work product help level the playing field a bit (for context, I am in data and my kind of data work product can be used for good or evil but rarely neutral. I choose good).

    The issue is how people react to me working at this organization. I get one of two reactions:

    “OOOOMMMMMGGGGG that’s so ahhhhhmmmmmaaaaazzzzing that you’d do that for them” which makes me feel awkward because it is like putting some hero cape on me when I’m just doing a small thing that I would have to do anyway to earn money, and most llama groomers even directly served by my organization would never know about my work.


    “so are you like a llama groomer or something?” which makes me irritated because why would I need to be a llama groomer to want to do this work?

    Anyone else run into this and/or have any ideas on how to respond to these comments?

      1. Gaia*

        Thanks, #1 usually gets a blank stare from me and #2 gets a “……what?” I’ll try these. I think I’m really just thrown because previous roles never got this kind of reaction (because no one gets excited and/or confused about why I would work in biosciences lol).

    1. fposte*

      I get flavors of both of these, and I don’t think #2 is a big deal–it’s a reasonable question, and “No, I’m a [Thing] there” is a reasonable answer. I don’t like the implications of #1 but I don’t think you can unpick them usefully in a short exchange, either, so I’d either go “Yes, I’ve always liked doing communications/IT/whatever work for people” if you want to emphasize the role over the org or just “It’s a good place to work” if you want to go short and it’s true.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I’m honestly having trouble thinking of situations where someone is serving a vulnerable population AND it would be a reasonable question to ask if that person is part of that population. I guess the place my mind goes to is ethic background, religion, immigration status, health conditions, etc.

        I suppose if you work for the ASPCA someone might ask if you’re an animal lover, but even that is different from asking if you’re a stray cat.

        Can you give a non-personally-identifying example of when it’s “not a big deal” to ask such a question? Again, serious question, not meaning to be snarky or combative because obviously you encounter this yourself and it IS okay.

        1. fposte*

          I was seeing “llama groomer” as the stand-in for a professional category, but it sounds like you read it right that it was more a vulnerable population. So I was thinking the nurses’ union example below, or “I work for the American Library Association”; “Oh, are you a librarian?”

      2. Gaia*

        #2 is a big deal because the implication behind the question is if I am not a llama groomer, why do I care enough about llama groomers to have focused my current career on services and advocacy for llama groomers.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m assuming “llama groomer” is standing in for something like foster child, homeless person, battered women, etc., right? If so, then it makes sense that you’re bothered by the implication that personal experience is the only thing that would make you care about their lives. I think you could respond to “wow, so were you homeless too at one point?” (or whatever) with, “I’m someone who cares very much about combatting homelessness.” And could even add, “Most people who work with me are motivated by wanting to improve people’s lives.” (Or whatever.)

        2. fposte*

          Okay, I was thinking of it as a professional category (“I work for the nurse’s union.” “Oh, are you a nurse?”), and it sounds like Not A Manager read it closer in that it’s a recognized category of disadvantaged person or an ethnic group. That would bug me on a par with #1 with perhaps a soupcon of “Are you really asking somebody this unacceptable question under the guise that my job opens the door?”

          1. Gaia*

            Yea sorry it was a bad phrase to use since it is used as a profession on this site so often. Here it stands in for “vulnerable group X”

      3. Gaia*

        Sorry, hit enter too soon!

        Thanks for the ideas on #1. I like those for when I’m trying to keep the exchange short and sweet. And I agree the implications behind their response are what troubles me.

        1. Former Teacher*

          I work in education, specifically serving Title I schools in low-income communities and I used to get comments like #1 from friends & family all the time when I was a teacher: “Wow, it’s so great what you’re doing for those kids”, “You’re a saint for what you do”, etc. It really rubbed me the wrong way because of the weird “savior” implications. I started trying to address it by saying things like, “Oh, I learn so much from my students, too!” or “I appreciate that, but I’m just doing my part to give them the same opportunities all kids deserve! My students are fighting bigger battles than I am every day (without a paycheck!) and deserve recognition for their hard work.” If I’m talking to someone I’m close to, I’ll name more directly why comments like that are uncomfortable for me personally and generally damaging for disenfranchised communities (perpetuating the myth that some communities need “saving” rather than being able to thrive from within if given equitable access to tools, knowledge & resources).

  40. I hate coming up with usernames*

    I posted late on Friday all excited about my new job – I was at a pretty awful charter school and have been hired at an awesome high school in an amazing district. So it’s a pretty awesome change for me! (Though I have some guilt about leaving my old students.) The only catch is that school starts tomorrow…and, like I said, I was just hired Friday! So I’m going into the first day of school without having my accounts setup yet to get/send email, take attendance, use Google classroom – heck, I can’t even log into the computer in my classroom! And my room looks very blah since I only had a couple of hours to work on personalizing it, arranging my desks, etc.

    It’s going to be an amazing change in the long run – but in the short run, I’m in for an overwhelming few weeks! I’m currently working on low-tech first week activities while getting distracted by room decor ideas – because of course my old room decor doesn’t work in my new room. (I have stuff to fill tons of blank wall space, but my new room is full of bulletin boards…and all my wall space fillers are too big for them. Oh well.)

    1. just a random teacher*

      Congratulations! It’s always tough to start a new teaching job at the last moment like that, but if it’s a better fit for you it’s definitely worth it.

      The best quick/cheap room decor suggestion I have for lots of of bulletin boards is to cover them with butcher paper for now and then plan things involving lots of bulletin-board-friendly student work for the first couple of weeks. I don’t know whether you have different students each period or the same ones all day, but either way you can probably think of some decoration-generating activities for that first week, and students like to see their own stuff on display. (Once the year gets going, I often had groups of students do test reviews on small posters and would hang them up around the room for the chapter tests as a kind of class notes. Kids would get up and look at them during tests, which was part of the point, and it also was a constantly-refreshing source of room decoration.)

      You could do a “wishes and hopes for the year” board where everyone writes down one thing they’re looking forward to and decorates it if there’s nothing more subject-linked that comes to mind. If colored paper is available, letting students choose their color would make the board look more festive, and I’d recommend cutting sheets into halves or quarters rather than using full sheets.

      I usually have students come up with class norms with me on a big sheet of poster paper, have the whole class sign it, and then hang it up high above the the boards (I have one for each period, so this takes up a lot of space), but that could go on boards as well.

  41. AppleStan*

    We had an internal opportunity open up and the new position will be reporting to me. Sansa, and Sansa’s supervisor, Cersei, applied. Both Cersei and I report to Jamie. When Jamie and I were talking about creating this position and moving Sansa into it, Jamie shared this with Cersei. Cersei blew her lid, because Jamie envisioned the position making several thousand dollars more than what Cersei currently makes, and we never considered Cersei for this (there were many reasons why). When all is said and done, however, the position actually pays less than what Cersei makes (even at highest end of the pay range). I and another manager (not Jamie) are handling the interviews.

    I’d really rather not interview any of the other applicants because truthfully, I just see them coming along with a WORLD of drama. And I mean a WORLD of it. However, I can’t make that decision without the other interviewer who went on vacation and won’t be back until the 16th. At that point, the other interviews are already scheduled (16th and the 18th), so I’m wondering – can we just cancel the other interviews (I wish they hadn’t been scheduled at all) and extend our offer to Sansa?

    If we can’t (and it probably doesn’t look good for us to do so), how much can I factor in the management nightmare that the other applicants will bring if they score higher on paper than Sansa? From what I can gather, having reviewed their applications, each person, including Sansa, comes out about the same due to strengths that one candidate has that the other candidates don’t have. But having worked with the others for several years (in adjacent departments, none of them work directly with me), I know exactly the nightmare issues they are going to bring.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s in Sansa’s best interests for you to interview the other applicants. If you don’t, they’re going to think the job was just handed to her, rather than her actually earning it on her merits. That’s a recipe for drama.

      In the interviews with the other internal candidates, you can certainly ask them directly about the areas you’re concerned about, which might help them start to realize exactly what it is that’s holding them back.

    2. Gatomon*

      If they’re all about equal on paper, not interviewing other candidates will probably inflame drama and undermine Sansa in the role.

      Since you know of issues with these other candidates, the interview is a chance to use behavioral questions to probe how they would handle workplace conflict and contrast that with what you know about their past behavior. If they answer poorly, your problem is solved. You can also check with their managers to see how their work has been lately and if there are still issues. It is possible for people to change, and they should be given at least the opportunity to interview for the position, in my opinion.

      As for Sansa, hopefully she is taking this as seriously as any external job hunt and comes well prepared for her interview. Not much more you can do there.

    3. AppleStan*

      Thank you to both Allison and Gatomon. The concerns you pointed out regarding not interviewing the others are spot on concerns, so while I wish I didn’t have to interview everyone, I’d rather deal with a minor fall-out than a major one.

      In regards to checking with their managers, Cersei’s manager is Jamie and both Sansa and the 3rd candidate report to Cersei. Although Sansa reports to Cersei, she works directly for me (don’t even get me started with the organizational structure).

      At this point, interviews will happen and the chips will fall where they may.

  42. No name manager*

    Suggestions for how to help a report who is struggling with adjusting to the working world after being “top of their class” throughout high school and college? I have a report, “Amy” who has been working here for a month. She graduated from college this year. After finishing college she worked somewhere else for three months. She was fired from that job. She got a job here after that. In high school and college she worked as a babysitter. The other job was her first full time and non-babysitting one and this is her second. Amy is struggling. She was part of a group project and despite being the only entry level person on the team she tried to take over the entire thing. She constantly seeks feedback and praise for every little thing and is always wanting to know how she’s doing in comparison to everyone else that works here. If someone does tell her she did well on something she has to let everyone else know that she “is the best”. If she perceives someone else has done better than her she gets angry at them. If she is asked to correct something or change something in her work she argues how she “doesn’t make mistakes”. I sat down with Amy to give her some direction and to try to seek if I could find out what was going on, since the reasons for her struggles were not obvious at first.

    Amy confided in me that she is used to being first/one top and that work is different from school. Amy graduated top her class and valedictorian in high school. She was in a gifted program and skipped a grade. She had a full scholarship to one of the best colleges in the world and she graduated top of her class there as well. All the parents she worked for sung her praises and loved having her look after her kids. (In addition to the impressive education on her resume she had eight years of references from all the parents of the kids she looked after and they had only great things to say). She confided in me about the first job she had where she got fired due to the same struggles she is having here. She did not put that job on her resume because it was for a short duration and she got fired from it. No one here had any idea about that job when she was hired here. I’m not hold leaving the job off her resume against her because I completely understand why she didn’t mention it. If her behavior here doesn’t change, she will be let go. I can’t have her constantly bugging people for praise. She has to accept that sometimes she won’t be acknowledged for everything. That she will be asked to add date to a spreadsheet and not lead a project with the VP’s. That she can’t be hostile to someone who had a better idea than her. Amy told me she is used to being the best and feeling on top and special and she doesn’t feel it now. I don’t want to fire her but I will have to if this keeps up. I’m trying to remember that she’s 21 and new to the working world. As a manager I have never had to deal with this kind of issue before. Amy is aware since she was fired from the other job and has been called into my office over this. She was about to cry because she was “in trouble” and didn’t want me to be mad at her. Can anyone making any suggestions as to how I can deal with this?

    1. fposte*

      It sounds like there’s been a lot of conversation with Amy about her private life and her past and her hopes and dreams and I’m kind of tired just thinking about it, and that was even before I got to her substantial flaws. It would be good for both of you if you removed that as much as possible from the process, because the fact that this is getting shared is likelier to be part of the problem than part of a solution. This isn’t just somebody new to the working world; these problems are a lot bigger than that. I don’t know if you’ll be able to fix them, but it’s kind of you to try, so long as you are clear and specific with yourself as well as her about the limitations.

      So: Amy needs a PIP, a clear statement that her job is in danger, and clear guidance on what improvement would consist of. Bullet-point those suckers out:
      Feedback (including praise where appropriate) comes in established feedback meetings with you and is not to be sought outside of it; employees are expected to be able to validate their achievements on their own
      Colleagues must be treated pleasantly and professionally–if there’s a problem with one other than the feedback or competitiveness issues, she can report it to you
      No additional duties or responsibilities to be requested while on the PIP
      No arguing about the terms of the PIP
      Even after the end of the PIP’s duration, a failure to meet the required standards can result in immediate termination

      And conclude with Alison’s patented “We need you to meet those terms in order to keep your employment here. Do you think you can do that?” If she cries, hand her a tissue and give her a moment, but you don’t need to end the meeting.

      What you can do for her is meet with her regularly in scheduled meetings while on the PIP–but not too often! You don’t want to support the very external validation habit that you need Amy to break. If you have an EAP, you can recommend them. Do *not* get into her childhood again–if she tries to go there say “I understand, since all our childhoods matter to us, but we need this conversation to be focused on the future”–but I think it would be okay to emphasize that being able to validate your own achievements more than you get external validation is a standard employee skill and managerial expectation, so that’s the skill she really needs to focus her effort on.

      Good luck. And remember, even if it doesn’t work with Amy right now and you have to let her go, it’s possible your guidance may contribute to her righting her course down the line.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I agree with all of this except for the not meeting with her too often for feedback. I think it would exponentially increase her chances of succeeding on the PIP (as well as being a very great kindness) to check in with her frequently not only about her general job performance, but also about her adherence to the terms of the PIP.

        I suspect that she will not be able to generate any reasonable self-evaluation skills in such a short time-frame, and that the rest of the PIP will fail without her having some external scaffolding about how she’s doing. One thing you could discuss with her is self-evaluation metrics that she can develop for herself, and that she can do “performance check-ins” on her own against those metrics.

        You can also absolutely set up the frequent performance reviews as a tapering-down part of the PIP process. “We’ll have frequent check-ins for this long, to be sure you’re on the right track, but by the end of the PIP I expect to only need to check in with you once every two weeks.”

        1. fposte*

          The thing is, she has to succeed in terms that are translatable to after the PIP, otherwise all you’ve done is improved her to a different insufficient standard. If she were a student, I’d approach this differently, but she’s not, so her individual success is, frankly, a lower priority here than the good of the employer.

          So regular meetings on a PIP? Absolutely. Regular meetings of the frequency I bet Amy wants? No. So I’d say once a week at the most frequent. If that’s not often enough for her, she’s not going to make it.

          1. Baru Cormorant*

            I agree, the frequency of feedback is because Amy needs emotional reassurance that she is still perfect, she is still a good person, that people still like her and she’s not failing. The first thing she needs to learn is to self-soothe and handle that anxiety privately. Otherwise it’s just going to be boss becoming her therapist and navigating Amy’s emotions when what Amy needs to learn is to do it on her own.

    2. Observer*

      So, you need to be very honest with her. Kind, but VERY clear.

      She needs to hear a few things from her:

      1. There is such a thing as hierarchy and she needs to respect that. Even though the FORM is different from school, it’s the same idea. She might have been able to take over projects with her classmates, but she didn’t get to take over a project that the teacher was leading. If she was in extra-curriculars like Drama, she also would not have been able to take over the school play or whatever it was. Same thing here. There is a hierarchy and you need to get that REALLY clear in your head.

      2a. She may genuinely be the smartest person in the room. That does NOT mean she never makes mistakes. The fact that she says that either means she’s not being honest with herself or that she’s a victim of grade inflation. In any case it makes her look very bad and reduces the impressiveness of her credentials.

      2b. She may genuinely be the smartest person in the room. That does not mean she is the only with good ideas, or that she knows the most about any given subject. Subject matter experts are a real thing and need to be respected. By the same token experience and learning are not only often AS important as intelligence and a good academic education. They are often MORE important.

      3. As impressive as her credentials are she needs to realize that she might just not be the smartest person in the room on any given occasion.

      4. Unless you are a workplace that engages in toxic practices like “stack ranking” explain to her that you don’t “grade on the curve” and no one really wants to hear or discuss how she is doing relative to everyone else, most of the time. It’s usually not relevant, and very often if it IS it’s bad news.

      5. Point out that that the things she’s asking for praise are things that are routine in the workplace. She needs to recognize that just as her college professors would never give her praise for showing up to class or handing in her assignments on time, there are things that are just baseline expectations that she needs to do just to stay employed. No stickers or stars for those things.

      If you can point her to some resources to help her work this through, that would be a kindness.

      I know that this is a lot. But if she’s good and you think the potential is there, it could be worth your while to help her understand this and change her behavior. It IS possible that she’ll improve if you lay this out for her and give her some concrete guidance.

      1. Observer*

        I just want to be clear about something here – I agree with fposte that you don’t want to get into her childhood, etc. What I’m getting at is the specific attitudes that she’s going to need to shed in order to move forward.

        Which is to say that I think they connect very well to the behavior list that fposted provided.

    3. Just a PM*

      It sounds like Amy doesn’t know how to transition to being a team member after being independent and being in charge of little ones for so long. She may need some close coaching or support for a few weeks to be shown or taught how to be a team player. Is there someone on your team who could mentor Amy or work closely with her for a month or so? Is there something small or trivial you could put her in charge of that gives her a sense of ownership (for example, if your team produces monthly metrics, maybe Amy could be in charge of collecting that data and putting it in a report for you)?

      As far as her asking people for praise, as you pointed out, she’s gone from being the best of her class — a high-achieving, high-performing individual — to changing dates in spreadsheets. It’s a difficult transition to make and she doesn’t seem to be handling it well. I think this is a suggestion from Alison but is something to consider as well — have one-on-one meetings or check-ins where you take one minute to say/explain something she did well and spend the rest of the discussion focusing on challenges or where she could improve. Eventually, over time as she adjusts her performance and recalibrates her brain, phase out the praise part of the discussion.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Wasn’t a suggestion from me! You should always regularly be praising people for work that’s genuinely done well (so you wouldn’t want to phase that out) but you also shouldn’t give praise as a way to soften criticism (over time it will make people suspicious of any praise because they’re waiting for the criticism they assume will follow it, and it also can risk watering down the real message you want to deliver). I’d say just do regular check-ins where you talk both about what’s going well and what to work on changing.

      2. Just a PM*

        I also agree with the comments about having a PIP. I re-read everyone’s input and I might have more sympathy for Amy since I was in her shoes a few years ago and I also had a hard time tamping down my ambition to work within the company’s hierarchy and expectations. I was paired up with a senior PM who was able to give me a lot of one-on-one coaching that my actual boss didn’t have time for and this helped immensely because I had someone showing me the ropes.

        1. fposte*

          If it were just the ambition part, I’d have a higher level of confidence. The part where she’s desperate for praise and desperate to be told she’s better and takes it out on other people if she isn’t sounds like a bigger problem than inexperience to me, and I have less hope of her being able to change that in a short time. (And now I realize that my scripted conversation didn’t include the pushing back on critical feedback–and that’s a biggie too.)

        2. MaxiesMommy*

          And her competitiveness is not what works in an office—collaboration, cooperation, those work, and are what endear you to your coworkers. It’s sad that no one told her that work is about as un-school, un-GPA as you can get. And part of entry level jobs is that they’re numbingly boring. I’d check on her once a week, but maybe if you can show her what cooperation looks like. You know, like if she filled up the copier trays so reception doesn’t have to.

      3. Observer*

        I would not give her something to be in charge of to make her feel good. At this point, even if there were something that would make sense to put her in charge of, I would hesitate, because she hasn’t shown that she can actually work appropriately in a workplace collaborative situation. But at least in that type of situation, it would be something that should be her job, so you might just give her more guidance. But, to just make her feel good?

        It’s a really bad idea – she needs to learn to work even when she is NOT getting a lot of pats on the back and high levels of external validation. She also needs to not get the idea that she can act like a brat and still be given higher level tasks. She’s verging on losing her job – that’s not a good time to give her a signal that she’s doing SO well, that you’re putting her in charge of things that normally would not be hers to be in charge of.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      If you have an HR, let them guide you. Treat Amy like any other employee who is about to be put on a PIP. Make sure you tell her that her poor behavior will get her fired – again. If she doesn’t change, you’ll have to proceed with an official firing process. Given how quickly she was fired from her first non-babysitting job, it’s more likely than not you will have to let her go. Sorry you’re both having to go through this.

    5. Aglaia761*

      If you have the bandwidth, would you be up to acting as a mentor to her. College doesn’t do a great job of preparing grads for actual workplaces and many grads just don’t know what they don’t know.

      It would be a kindness if you took the role on, but you certainly don’t have to. You could just point her in the direction of the various threads on here about being new to the workforce.

      1. Observer*

        I think that pairing her up with a mentor would be a kindness, and a good idea if it’s practical. But I don’t think that the OP should be the one to do this, though – It’s hard to mentor someone while at the same time assessing their performance and deciding whether to put them on a PIP, manage them out etc.

    6. Chairman Meow*


      As someone who was a straight-A student and has seen formely gifted friends really struggle in the real world, the school system is really not doing anyone any favors by suggesting that they are the end-all-be-all of life preparation. If you get a 96% in the class, you are praised for being a good student. If you give 96% at work, you are fired. Also, you need to be polite and likable at work. Kids need to learn that.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        Second this. It really helped me. It’s been 8 years since I had this transition, but I remember the rough patch.

        AAM was a big help!

    7. Phoenix Programmer*

      Do you want Amy to succeed?

      If so then connect her with a “mentor” who can help her suss out this hard transition.

      I have been an Amy in the past, I just needed some guidance and introspection. It’s a rough transition to go from “all praise all day coasting along” to just another cog in the ignored wheelhousr. If no one prepared her for that I really feel for her.

    8. AcademiaNut*

      It might help to give a clear reframing of the situation.

      School is all about the student – it’s specifically to train and educate people. Feedback is on a very short time schedule, you move on to new material immediately after learning the previous material, and you are evaluated entirely on personal performance in the subject matter. Professors don’t have a whole lot of power to deal with behavioural issues as long as you do well on exams – students have a lot of latitude to be really obnoxious.

      Work is about doing tasks in exchange for money. You’re there to do a particular job, which includes collaborating with coworkers. Feedback occurs more slowly, you generally continue to do a job even after mastering it, and you are evaluated not just on technical performance, but on how you work with others. Your employer has a great deal of power when it comes to behavioural issues and can absolutely fire you for being difficult, even if you do the jobb tasks well.

      After that framing, I’d get down to practicalities. Put her on a PIP, make it clear that she needs to show improvement immediately, and that she will be fired if she can’t do it. For the PIP:

      – She needs to concentrate on her own job, without trying to take over other duties or telling other people what to do.
      – She can’t seek praise/validation from others. She can ask *you* for feedback at your meetings.
      – She has to interact politely with other people – no boasting, no getting mad, no sulking.
      – She has to listen to feedback, and acknowledge and correct mistakes.

      You might also suggest that if she needs help dealing with larger issues, that the employee EAP is there for things like this.

      I would be very careful not to make this about helping Amy with her issues. As her manager, you should provide her with clear directions and feedback, but it’s not your job to be her therapist or friend. You’re providing professional support, not personal support, and your priority is to get her to do her job competently without annoying her coworkers.

      To be honest, I don’t know how successful you’ll be. Best case – she works hard, you see improvement to the point that she doesn’t get fired, and she’ll continue to work hard, probably with the support of therapy. More likely – she improves a bit, but is still problematic, and you’ll have to have the conversation more than once. Also likely – it takes a round or two more of getting fired and a bunch of therapy before she progresses to the point where she can be an acceptable entry level employee.

    9. Close Bracket*

      Oh man, not a PIP. That is entirely too punitive. What she needs is coaching, not punishment. Save the PIP for when coaching doesn’t bring about changes, and give the coaching *several* months.

      This is a common problem for people who were high performers in school. They can hit the “My pond is a lot bigger than it used to be” at many points. Some hit that point at the high school-college transition, some hit it at the college-grad school transition, some hit it at the college or grad school-working world transition (some never hit is, those bastards :)). Regardless, it’s always a shock to the system. You don’t want to dwell on it, but you need to acknowledge that she is having this shock.

      Start with weekly meetings where you coach her through the things you mention-she can’t constantly bug people for praise, she won’t always work with VPs, she cannot lead the team when she is the most junior person there, etc. Take things one issue at a time. Since she confided in you, you have an opening to build enough trust that she will take what you say to heart.

      Since you have never dealt with this before, you will need coaching and mentoring as well. Be sure you are getting that from a constructive source, i.e., from someone who won’t jump right to bringing the hammer down with a PIP. Coaching is hard, so you need a way to get work self care.

      There is one of these at my work place, and I am at BEC stage with him. He’s good enough that his flaws don’t seem to matter, and he’s not getting any coaching on how not to be a giant pain in the butt. You want to find a happy medium between my guy and a PIP. You don’t want to let her keep pissing people off by stepping on their toes, but you don’t want to crush her spirit with punitive measures, either.

  43. The Dude*

    I’m handing in my notice tomorrow. It’s going to blindside my boss. Two questions:

    1. Is it OK to say, during the exit interview, “I’m leaving because I want to work somewhere with a different approach to things like compensation and diversity”, or is that too bridge-burny? My next job is a substantial pay cut, and my employer is open to my working remotely starting next year from the city I’m moving to, so normal excuses won’t fly. While I guess I’m resigning on principle (we’ve done some really gross things in those two areas), I don’t want to be a drama llama. Is that phrasing professional?

    2. I’m sure I’m going to get a zillion questions form my boss and from m boss’s boss about I’m leaving, why I’m unhappy, etc. When I was hired 5 years ago, my boss’s boss explicitly asked me to give her a heads up when I started looking. (Obviously I haven’t done that.) Any advice on how to deflect those questions? The script I’ve come up with so far for when they pop up unexpectedly is to say “I appreciate that you want feedback on how to improve the company, but I’m not prepared to have an exit interview at this moment. Of course I’ll answer all of your questions during the exit interview.”

    1. Clever Name*

      You are under no obligation to answer any questions in an exit interview. If it were me, I’d offer neutral reasons. You’ve been there for 5 years. It’s totally reasonable to say you were ready for a new challenge. If they ask why you didn’t tell them you were looking (and no sane manager expects that kind of thing) simply tell them that an amazing opportunity fell in your lap. They don’t have to know it was a pay cut.

    2. Wishing You Well*

      I’d try to phrase it in some positive light about the benefits of the new job for you. TRY really hard not to burn bridges if there’s any chance you’ll need references or anything else from your old job. In one exit interview, I did NOT tell them how to improve the company because it was early in my career and I didn’t know if I would need their goodwill later on. I also knew the place was a lost cause and nothing I said would make a bit of difference.
      So use your BEST judgment and don’t say you’ll answer all their questions, because there’s a lot they could ask that you shouldn’t answer. Develop a good response to why you’re quitting and repeat it – endlessly, if necessary.
      Congrats on the new job!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t know about bridge burny as it really depends on your workplace culture and manager. But I think your phrasing sounds extremely professional here: naming it specifically but without details.

      Your boss cannot demand you give them a “heads up” when or if you decide to begin looking for new employment! That’s the point of a courtesy 2 week notice. Technically, you’re not even required that 2 weeks, but it’s considered professional to do so.

      You phrases to deflect are good, if your manager pushes, just focus on how they’d like for you to begin wrapping things up. “I’m not prepared to talk about my reasons right now. I’d rather we discuss how you’d like me to prepare A and B before my departure?”

      Good luck and congratulations on the new job!

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wouldn’t say “I’m not prepared to have an exit interview at this moment” because she’s likely to think she’s not asking for an exit interview, just having a conversation with you. I also wouldn’t say “I’ll answer all of your questions during the exit interview” because you may not want to do that once you hear the questions — and it just sounds odd to defer it in that way.

      I also wouldn’t say “I’m not prepared to talk about my reasons right now” per one of the suggestions above — that sounds like there’s something mysterious and is making way too big a deal out of it. Just keep it neutral — you were ready to move on, etc.

      If she asks why you didn’t give her a heads-up, just say, “I wasn’t sure yet what I wanted to do, and then this fell in my lap and was too good to pass up.”

  44. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    The people at the office next door placed an Immaculate Conception on their reception area. A great number of employees (mostly women) are not happy about it, some made “exorcism” jokes, and some claimed they’re being really unprofessional. I’m glad Current Job works really hard to promote a neutral workplace.

    1. fposte*

      I know what the Immaculate Conception is doctrinally, but I don’t know what that means as a physical object, and I’m curious (I realize the country probably factors into this as well). What’d they put up?

        1. Lilith*

          IC means that Mary was conceived without original sin. IIRC, she didn’t need to be baptized to wash away original sin in order to carry Jesus in her uterus. Now I don’t know how one makes a statue of that. I’m curious, too. Can you report some details?

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      Sorry, my bad. It was a statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.

      1. YetAnotherUsername*

        Haha that makes more sense! I was imagining a statue of the actual conception of Mary :D that would be a lot more interesting.

    1. JDC*

      Ya you just have to have one Mac next to the other and they will just get to work. Otherwise it’s a really easy process. It walks you right though it. But yes apple will do it for you. Just make a Genius Bar appointment.

  45. A.J. Smith*

    I’m transgender. A couple of months ago I came out at work and in my personal life. I have been altering my body and appearance and I do plan to have gender affirming surgery in the future. I am also in the process of legally changing my name. At work, everyone has been nothing but supportive. The only issue I’m having is with my boss. I know she means well, but if someone uses my old pronoun or deadname she will rail on them, or dress them down publicly or tell them they are in trouble. She does this without my input or consent. Like I said everyone has only been supportive. I am not the only LGBTQIA+ person here but every single colleague without exception has been great. I have worked here for 15 years. My coworkers have known my for at least 7 years and some of the ones I knew in college for almost 20. I understand they will slip. No one does it on purpose and the slips have been few and far between. Heck, sometimes I still mess up my own name or pronouns. I don’t want my boss screaming about hate crimes or calling people bigots or worse when they make an honest mistake. These are my friends and colleagues and they have been great. My boss says she is having my back and being an ally but she is over the top and going overboard with the whole being supportive thing. She has told me stories of the racism she faced as an immigrant growing up and she wants me to have the support she never did. I appreciate it but I don’t want her screaming and being hostile to people for slips of the tongue. What I can I do to make her stop when she refuses to listen to me or insists she is helping no matter what I say?

    [Also I would just like to thank Alison and the individuals who comment here because I have always felt safe here and I am thankful for a space like this online. So thank you for that]

    1. fposte*

      Oof. I think if you can talk to her privately about this, that’s the way to do it. One framing might be “I’m so grateful to know that people at work have my back if I need it, but it’s important for me to be able to take the lead on the messaging rather than having others speak for me.” That’s a way of making it clear to her she can back off and still be a good ally and asking her to do so, but it doesn’t require you to get into her content or its effects.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Wow, I have no advice except to say that “I will be your ally only on my terms even if that’s awkward or even potentially dangerous to you” is really, really crappy.

    3. Cows go moo*

      Next time she does this, stand up for the person being told off. “It’s okay, that was just a mistake.” “Bob has known me for 10 years, it’s alright to slip up.” Besides sending the message that her reaction is over the top, standing up for someone who was unfairly belittled is the right thing to do.

      P.S. I don’t know you, but I admire your courage in your decision to transition and I hope everything goes well.

    4. LGC*

      Congrats on coming out!

      You might have to be more direct with her than you have been – which is easy for me to say, since I don’t have to deal with her. (I suspect she’s an intimidating person to deal with.) I’m sure she has good intentions, but…yelling at people and making you uncomfortable in the process is poor allyship and it’s honestly self centered of her.

      I’d say something like, “[Boss], please don’t yell at people who accidentally dead name me or tell them that they’re in trouble. I know you want to protect me, but this actually makes me really uncomfortable.” (Some bosses may not get that. But they should.) The main things you want to get across are that 1) you don’t her yelling at people (!!!) on your behalf, because 2) that makes you uncomfortable, even though 3) you understand she has good intentions. (To be honest, 3) is optional, but I think it might go down a bit better if you acknowledge it.)

      If you’ve already said that, you can be even more direct and say she’s not being helpful to you (or even that she’s being harmful by drawing unwanted attention to your trans* identity), and possibly go over her head if it gets especially extreme.

      1. LGC*

        Also, have this conversation in private! That way, it spares both of you embarrassment. (Okay, mostly her. And yes, a lot of this is managing her emotions over her bad behavior, but also she is your boss.)

    5. ArtsNerd*

      Yikes! I’m sorry you’re having to navigate that. If the above advice still doesn’t work, would leave the problem and responsibility on her, while being clear in your own personal interactions that you do not share her dedication to policing people in this way.

      Congrats on coming out!

    6. myug*

      I am so sorry. Shes’s putting you through unneeded stress when everything is going great so far, low-key making this about her, & potentially making your coworkers’ nervous to speak with you lest they slip. She’s absolutely in the wrong if she’s disregarding how you want to handle all this or refusing to listen to you (! seriously, what !) – in that case, this isn’t about you and she’s getting some vicarious revenge for her own experiences with racism.

      Let her know you appreciate the good intention but you are capable of advocating for yourself in this environment in the firmest words you can find. Otherwise, privately tell your coworkers who are getting dressed down that you don’t condone these yell-fests.

    7. Baru Cormorant*

      Yikes, this is definitely about her fighting vicariously against injustice. I think it can be hard for allies (myself included) to know the line between “using my privilege to stand up for those without” and “using my privilege to speak instead of others and actually making it worse.”

      It sounds like her position as “ally” is really important to her, so I would use that.
      “I really appreciate your support on this. But it’s also important to me that if people make a pronoun mistake, they know I won’t make a big deal out of it. I want people to speak with me without feeling self-conscious or nervous, so we can continue our good relationship. So if someone makes a mistake, I’d like you to correct them gently and move on [or whatever you want her to do]. For me, that would be the best thing you could do as an ally.”

      Then if she tries to argue that you don’t need to hold back in the face of bigotry, etc., hold firm:
      “I appreciate your encouragement, but this is the method I want to use from now on. It would mean a lot if you could support me in this as an ally.”
      An escalated version:
      “I need you to respect my wishes on this. I’m telling you this is what I want, and part of being a good ally is respecting how I want to handle this.”

      In the moment, I might say something like, “Thanks boss, I got this.” or as Cows recommended, “It’s OK, it’s just a mistake.” And speak to Boss in private again about what a good ally looks like. And taking it up the chain if it doesn’t stop, because at that point it’s harassment in the guise of allyship.

      Best of luck to you.

  46. AnxiouslyCurious*

    Hi all, longtime reader but usually a lurker, couldn’t find an answer to this exact question in archives so I’m throwing it out to the hive: Alison often advises against being friends with your manager because many valid reasons, but what if the friendship sprung up organically over five years of working together closely (in a C-level and exec assistant dynamic) and your now the person who is your boss is essentially your work spouse? It’s usually, especially in the office in front of others a very professional relationship but occasionally boundaries are blurred or outright crossed, like at conferences over a drink or at coffee meetings offsite. On the other hand, sometimes I feel like I don’t get public credit for things I do well because of the appearance of favoritism so there’s also that dynamic, but I guess that is always a concern with a close direct report who has access.
    I’d like to re-draw the boundaries without making it awkward and am starting to think there is no way to do that and I should be thinking about moving on. In the past, it’s gotten terrifically awkward when I’ve tried to re-professionalize the relationship.
    It doesn’t help that I am an anxious overthinker of everything, like this past week was tough because the boss was very distant all week and I am used to more interaction but then they are a moody creature in general.
    Thoughts? Am I doomed?

    1. AnxiouslyCurious*

      Awk, sorry, I know it’s *you’re* not *your* in first sentence for grammar nerds like me…

    2. FF*

      Thank you for asking this!

      I could have written a very similar question a few months ago. I had, what seemed at the time, a great relationship with my boss. We often had rambling discussions on books and ideas and life and life’s things- well away from directly work related topics- basically because we had very similar thoughts about life and got on well.

      I started to see her as more of a wise friend, which I realized was not a good idea, and tried to create distance and be more professional.

      Anyway, long story short- other things got really shit at my job, I made a complaint, which was handled a bit weirdly, and I was seen as extremely ungrateful because of the support I’d gotten before.

      I don’t have an answer, except, becoming more professional and less friends is probably a good idea, but give the new dynamic time to settle before rocking the boat too much… I’m sure there’s a way to gently move to a more professional but still kindly vibe and keep it hovering on that line.

      Ultimately, while it’s really great to find people you get on with at work, power dynamics make the whole thing so risky, especially for the one with less power. A fall-out between ‘friends’ suddenly affects a myriad of things at work… like whether emails are responded to promptly, or if you can get information to get tasks done, hear about changes to the company, if you’re given a project, etc etc. And it can quickly become deeply, deeply unpleasant if those things change.

      Hope it all goes well for you.

      1. AnxiouslyCurious*

        “gently move to a more professional but still kindly vibe and keep it hovering on that line.”

        Thank you! I like “gently” and “kindly”.

        That’s what I was thinking of trying: stretch outside of my (introvert) comfort zone and gradually get friendly with more people, keep it light and cordial and positive with all so that this one relationship isn’t the main one. I think part of what led to this is that the boss is a fellow introvert so it has been easy to commiserate about people and things.

  47. Fondant Fancy*

    (Title for ease: How much training can you expect?)

    Hi, I work for a medium sized but fast-growing not-for-profit. We work in a complex, challenging field that requires us to do a lot of conceptual thinking. A lot of what we do hasn’t been done before, meaning our projects are often very difficult to define, plan and budget for.

    My organization works entirely on ‘learn through experience’; except for a very light-touch introduction to key tools in the first couple of weeks, we do no formal training (either as individuals or as a group) on project management, team management, financial things, specific skills, or anything else, including as we take on more responsibility like line management. There is also little in the way of SOPs to follow for the work we do.

    In terms of general planning and task allocation, I feel we lack a common language for roles and expectations around tasks and budget management, meaning we end up unsure about how much time a project or piece of work will take, and are unable to plan our own time effectively. That often means we end up with a lot of work, and burn-out is a big risk that I’ve heard we’ve had issues with. I have also heard from new staff that they feel unclear about what skills they need to progress.

    I was wondering how typical this is? Is 100% on the job training normal? Is it perhaps a typical aspect of not-for-profit work where budgets and time is tight? Or is it completely normal to expect people to just pick things up as they go (which seems a bit risky to me)?

    Does anyone have examples of really good training plan at their places of work?

    Do you have tips of good places to look for project management advice?

    Thank you!

    1. Nacho*

      My organization does pretty much the same thing. I hate it and it makes for a VERY stressful first few weeks on the job, but I assume it saves a lot of money in training, since you don’t have to bother training anybody who’s going to quit right away. Which over 50% of our employees do because we don’t bother to give them proper training and just throw them into very stressful customer service situations.

    2. Goose Lavel*

      I’ve always felt compelled to attend my exit interviews because that’s when you’ll get your final paycheck.

      Everyone likes a final paycheck.

    3. Krickets*

      Are any of your past/present/future projects overlapping or have some sort of similarity? Documenting them or noticing patterns might help. Also having a general organized framework and checkpoints can help, with the understanding that flexibility is to be expected with the deadlines.

    1. CAA*

      Sure. You’re on your way out the door and legally they can’t hold up your last paycheck or anything like that, so if you want to, go ahead.

      On the other hand though, why not spend 20 or 30 minutes on an exit interview? If you can be calm, cool, and constructive, you may provide information that will help your soon-to-be-former colleagues, so why not do it?

      1. Sunny*

        See, that’s the issue. I’m not sure I can be those things. I know I should be able to approach things rationally, but I’m afraid I would tip over towards non-diplomatic.

        1. CAA*

          If you think there’s a risk that you won’t be able to hold your tongue, it’s probably better to decline. If they give you a written questionnaire, which I’ve seen more of lately, then I’d try to fill it out, let it sit a while, then go back to it.

  48. Nacho*

    How do you know if/when it’s time to change jobs? My current job pays well enough and, thanks to a rather large inheritance and a rather frugal lifestyle, I could easily retire early without leaving it. I know how to do it and it’s no longer very stressful now that I’ve been at it for a few years. Plus I get 20 days of PTO and 9 holidays a year which is nice. But it’s still a near entry level position without much room to grow, and there are better, higher paying jobs out there I could probably get if I tried. Should I be looking for something better, or is it OK if I just kind of stay here for a while?

    1. fposte*

      By “retire early,” how many years are we talking about? I’d advise one thing if you could retire in two years and another if you mean the current job would allow you to retire at 45 but you’re 25 now.

      If it’s the first, I’d say that’s more a life question than a career question. Does a job have a contribution value, social value, engagement value to you? Is there something in those categories you’d like to do via paid work that you don’t know that retirement will provide that much of?

      If it’s closer to the second, I’d ask the same questions, but I’d also ask what you’re getting from your non-work life now, and I’d ask how long you think you’d be happy or viable in your current position. If it’s a job that breeds lifers and allows you to do what you really love in life in your off hours, that may be a decent decades-long arrangement. But I’d be more alert to the possible need for a plan B–if you’re thinking of retirement being easy in 20 years and the job turns horrible in 10, will you be a viable candidate elsewhere?

    2. CAA*

      There’s really no “should” in this case. Some people in your circumstances would decide to stay and others would decide to move on, and either decision could be the right one for you. One thing you could think about is “what happens if I can no longer work at this place for some reason?”

      If you have enough money to retire with an acceptable lifestyle, then great, you’re all set, and it makes sense to stay where you are as long as you’re happy. This doesn’t mean you wouldn’t go back to work, just that you’d have enough time to figure things out.

      If you would still need to earn some money to survive, then what would you do? How hard would it be to get one of those other jobs if you lose your current job in 5 or 10 years vs 1 or 2 years? Would it be easier to handle the uncertainties of the future if you moved on now while the job market is strong?

      The other thing is, are you really happy where you are? If you’re feeling bored and unchallenged for 40 hours per week, that’s a significant portion of your life. Would your everyday life improve if you moved on now, even if that meant you had more stress for a while and maybe less PTO?

  49. Foreign Octopus*

    I work for myself, and I’m just so tired at the moment that I’ve drastically reduced my availability for the last week and a half. I think I might be burning out a little, and I just can’t muster the energy to do the work that I should do beyond the basics. I’m heading back to the UK for a week at the end of the month (bleurgh) and that’s kind of a holiday, but does anyone have any suggestions of what to do to get out of this slump I’ve found myself in?

    1. Weegie*

      Sounds like you need to do something completely different for a bit – can you arrange your work to give yourself at least a day off, then go do an activity you’ve always wanted to do, or something you haven’t done for a while?

      Something else I do when I get fed up with work is start planning an escape to my Plan B job: I research all the alternative careers I might like to have, any qualifications I would need, and additional experience it would be good to accrue. In the end, it all starts feeling like too much of a faff and I decide to stick with my present job, but indulging in fantasy career moves usually perks me up a bit.

  50. diner lobster*

    Anyone read this article on passive aggressive email tactics? Curious to hear folks’ thoughts:

    (Spoiler Alert, I think this man has one too many “uppity females” in his office who send confident emails asking for what they need and providing documentation for their requests/previous agreements. Seems like he wants them to couch their messages and write more deferentially.)

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think the phrases are ones he chose–I think he’s just riffing on the phrases that were on top in the survey. When you look at the survey, there’s actually a breakdown by gender of respondent, and the rates didn’t differ much (and sometimes women disliked a phrase more than men). I do wish there’d been more information about the survey format–were there other phrases that weren’t considered as irritating, or did GetResponse decide these were the most irritating and then get stats on them?

      I think some of his alternative suggestions are pretty bogus and he doesn’t deal with why people don’t like hearing these–it’s less the jargon than the fact that it means they’re on the hot seat.

    2. MinotJ*

      Flames. Flames on the side of my face.

      I send emails instead of having phone or in-person conversations because I need things documented! The only one of his “passive-aggressive” phrases that I hate is “friendly reminder”, but I know why my bosses and coworkers use it. They have to send out so many reminders of policy (for documentation!) that they try to soften the nagging.

      All of his other examples seemed like somebody trying to thread the needle of not coming off like a jerk but still getting problems fixed.

      And he contradicts himself! He hates that we say “Please let me know if I’ve misunderstood.” But then he also suggest that we say “I honestly could have this wrong, but from what I think I know…,”

    3. BRR*

      I only found one or two awful and one or two could go either way. Either this guy just hates email or he was paid to write like he hates email. A year or two Ago I started assuming the best of people through email and its Been wonderful.

    4. diner lobster*

      I don’t love the lines themselves but the alternatives are really bad. Guess it’s more the response than the survey that bugged me. The author hasn’t added value and is reinforcing the kind of mealy-mouthed nonsense we should be avoiding.

      1. Alianora*

        I agree. The survey is useful information, I guess (even though I definitely don’t read those phrase as passive aggressive), but the author’s take on this feels overly sensitive.

        “Any updates on this?” is extremely easy to say and read in a neutral tone of voice, for instance. I find his suggested alternative kind of passive aggressive in itself. Most of his scripts are too deferential and wordy.

      2. Baru Cormorant*

        The alternatives are terrible. Every email would read,
        “I know you’re probably swamped, and I hate to be that person bugging you for information, but what’s the latest on Project X? It would help to know because we are approaching a deadline, and I honestly could have this wrong, but you’re the last step in the process and I honestly could have this wrong, but from what I think I know, you’re the one who has to finalize everything. If you don’t mind my reinforcing a point I made before, only because it’s so important, I’d like to double check in advance of the deadline.”

        And then stand up to have a face to face conversation instead of saying “going forward, please let me know if you’re running late.”

    5. Asenath*

      The only one I find mildly annoying is “friendly reminder”, and that’s because I think it’s unnecessarily wordy, not because there’s anything more serious wrong with it. I might use “reminder”, but all the others I’ve probably used – in the right context, of course. For example “According to my records….” is something I use when there’s a disagreement about something, and I’ve checked my records and that’s what I’ve found. I don’t mean “I honestly could have this wrong”, I mean “I’ve checked this out, and this is what my records say”. My records might still be wrong. They aren’t usually, but I’m not perfect, and no one seems to expect me to claim I think I had it wrong when I’ve got documentary evidence I didn’t. “Going forward, I’d prefer” .. slightly odd, I might write “In the future, I would like…”, but what other phrases would you use if you’re discussing what new procedures might be an improvement? Asking for updates, perfectly routine. Saying “as in my last email” – very useful when someone’s denying you told them something. And so on.

    6. LilySparrow*

      Everything sounds annoying and passive aggressive to someone who resents being asked to do their job.

      When I (or any same person) uses phrases like “according to my records” or “per my last email,” it’s because the person is being an idiot and is either failing to follow clear instructions, or is lying about/pretending to have forgotten something that I have documentation on.

      It is already a softened version of the direct statement, “quit your bullshit.” Why would I want to soften it more, or pretend there is some doubt, when a) this is not a subjective matter open to interpretation, and b) I am already fed up with this person’s nonsense.

      This is the whine of a chronic bullshitter who can’t stand being held accountable.

    7. myug*

      ‘Just a friendly reminder…’ is the only one that gets my goat – and it’s the ‘friendly’ part that really does; just say it’s a reminder and move on. The rest of them are fine and if we’re being completely honest, his “alternatives” are a little more irritating because they are trying very hard to be non-offensive/passive to the point I would read into it as passive-aggressive.

      His alternatives for #5 also don’t really match up: how is “according to my records” equivalent to “the way I see it…”? One is a reference to facts or something that has been cataloged and the other is a matter of opinion? (i.e. “according to my records, we actually have 5 llama teapots vs “the way I see it, we actually have 5 llama yearpots” – it’s two separate sentiments).

    8. The Rat-Catcher*

      I’m with everyone else that “friendly reminder” is the only truly annoying one of the bunch. But I think this person assumes a lot. If I say “please let me know if I’ve misunderstood,” I am genuinely open to that possibility. I only use “per my last email” if people are saying that I didn’t do my job by informing them of something. If I’m using “according to my records,” it’s because I have actual written records of some kind, so pretending that I might have that wrong is disingenuous. “Any updates?” may not be the friendliest, but wow, do I get tired of asking for the same thing three or four times.

  51. Everdene*

    Happy Monday everyone – since this is a bonus thread I just wanted to say thank you for the good wishes on Friday. Had a very positive talk with my line manager and this new role looks like a go-er. *insert favourite happy gif here*

  52. Libretta*

    Advice on raising morale when the company has made a terrible decision that affects everyone negatively? Basically someone in executive leadership changed their mind about a positive change we were all looking forward to – seemingly on a whim, and just before the thing was to go into effect. We had been planning for at least 2 years for this change. The reason they gave was flimsy, and there have been a couple of lies exposed.

    My morale is down, my boss’ morale is down and our whole team, as well as the other teams in our building are all angry and disappointed in our leadership. I’ve worked here for several years, it is usually a good place to work. My team likes our work and we get along well – we are well paid and have great benefits. But I know that at least 3 people on the team are looking for jobs because of this. I started looking on the day they announced it because it was such a kick in the face. I’ve since decided to ride it out at least for a while – but what can I do for my team? We’ve gone out for happy hour and to a baseball game together, but that doesn’t seem to lift anyone’s spirits more than a day or so.

    1. Nacho*

      Something like this happened in my company with a few of the decisions they made. Generally speaking, it’s the same advice on raising morale as when your company didn’t just make a terrible decision that everybody hates, but do more of it. Bonuses/competitions/free food/etc…. work great for raising morale.

  53. Cows go moo*

    We are interviewing for a role that requires working closely with a micromanager “Amanda”. The person in this role previously, “Zoe”, would work exactly the same days as Amanda (this isn’t a Monday to Friday job) and eat every meal together. Zoe never made decisions independently, even minor ones, and Amanda knew exactly who Zoe was meeting and where.

    This is something that’s being addressed with Amanda. But realistically shes not going to go from a 10 to 0 on her intensity scale just overnight.

    I am a bug believer in “informed consent” and letting job applicants know about both the good and bad aspects of a job. How do I explain this situation diplomatically to interviewees so they are fully aware of what kind of manager they are reporting to?

    1. Clay on my apron*

      It depends how it’s going to be addressed. If you anticipate that Amanda will be managed from a 10 to an 8 over the next year, that’s one scenario. If OTOH you expect that if she doesn’t hit a 5 within 6 months she’ll be put on a PIP, that’s something else. As a potential employee it would make quite a big difference to me. And they should know that you are going to support them when they push back on Amanda’s demands for their toilet break schedule.

      OTOH you could hire someone without sharing all this but make it clear to A that her continued employment in this role depends on her adjusting her behaviour according to specific criteria within a certain timeframe and not make it the new hire’s problem at all.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! Are Amanda’s results so incredibly stellar that it warrants moving the problem to the new hire rather than holding Amanda accountable for her actions?

        1. Cows go moo*

          I have spoken to Grand Boss about putting her on PIP with the view of termination if she doesn’t change. But realistically that isn’t going to happen and it’s not my decision to make.

          So the situation is that we are hiring someone to work with a micromanager who isn’t likely to change dramatically any time soon. I at least want to give candidates a fair warning about this aspect of the role, just not sure how to word it diplomatically.

          1. ArtsNerd*

            I’d say something like “Amanda is very particular and you would be working very closely with her on your projects.”

            1. ArtsNerd*

              I’ve also been explicitly asked in interviews about my experience working with difficult people *shrug emoji*

              1. Nicki Name*

                So have I, multiple times. The problem is that “difficult people” covers a lot of different personality types which need different strategies for dealing with.

          2. CAA*

            If you can’t change Amanda and the new person must work with her, then the candidates need to meet with her as part of the interview process. It’s no use hiring someone without first seeing whether the two of them can get along or not. After that, talk to the candidate about Amanda’s management style and eplain that she’s a very “hands-on manager” and that means that “there’s very little autonomy in this role”. If I heard someone say that to me about a potential new job, I would definitely understand she’s a micromanager.

          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            If you manage Amanda directly, you can potentially change this without using a PIP — just by really staying on her about it, managing her very closely, and intervening when you see her being inappropriate.

            But meanwhile, I like the suggestions above about being very straightforward with candidates. I might say, “I want to be up-front with you that Amanda is very hands-on and there’s a lot of oversight and not much autonomy in this role. Some people are fine with that and others aren’t, so I want to be transparent with you about her style.”

    2. myug*

      “Amanda, who you will be working closely with in this role, is very hands-on and desires/prefers a lot of communication and collaboration.”

      Short of fixing her behavior quickly, and even shorter of getting rid of Amanda or outright saying Amanda is an overbearing control-freak, this feels like the most honest way of saying that there will be a lot, er, attention. However, please reassure them that they don’t have to take disrespect or boundary-pushing behavior. Let the new hire know they can come to you if there are any issues in the workplace in general, especially if you manage Amanda so they know any issues with her can be escalated to you.

    3. LilySparrow*

      Why can’t you say, “In the past, the person in this role has been required to mirror the manager’s work and break schedule, and give a detailed itinerary of all meetings ahead of time.

      We are hoping to create more autonomy in this role, but we don’t have a clear picture of how that would look tight now. You would be working very closely with your supervisor on all aspects of the role.”

  54. Clay on my apron*

    You’re dealing with this better than I would. I’d be BEC by now.

    Perhaps she’d respond well to understanding how the “rules of work” are different from school.

    1. The workplace has a hierarchy and those with limited experience are generally start at the bottom. They are required to work their way up, which takes longer than expected
    2. The quality of your work is assessed by your manager and seniors, not by you yourself
    3. You were hired to do specific work, needed by the company, and if you don’t do that work effectively they have no incentive to keep you on
    4. Your desire to do more interesting work/lead a project is natural but doesn’t trump the right of the people already doing that work or the right of the company to decide you aren’t a good fit
    5. You’ll only be promoted if a position opens up and you are the best person to fill it
    6. Asking for praise is not appropriate. If you do exceptional work you will be acknowledged. Unlike school, companies do not prioritise building the self esteem of their staff
    7. You can best gain people’s admiration, show yourself as a valuable employee, and get promotion or other opportunities by showing yourself willing to set aside your emotions, take criticism, learn from others and work in a team


    This sounds harsh but some people do need things spelled out in a very clear and simple way. She is clearly unable to adapt to this new environment, even with the feedback she’s had up to now and the shock of being fired from her previous job, which indicates that a different approach is needed. Some people do struggle with this type of thing and being intellectually smart doesn’t indicate emotional or social intelligence.

  55. blaise zamboni*

    Not a question, just an anecdote/vent related to this holiday:

    I left my toxic company a few months ago and received an exit interview form email shortly after. I wasn’t sure I’d actually answer it, but one of the first questions asked if I’d ever seen anything illegal happening in my office. I left in large part because the company was so nonchalant about breaking labor laws, and only hired young, poorly-paid hourly workers who wouldn’t know any better. So. I wrote a pretty scathing rant about how our hourly employees had never been informed of our rights to take breaks, and how we were staffed at such an absolute minimum that we wouldn’t have had time to take breaks without repercussions anyway, and about how I got screwed out of thousands of dollars of overtime. I also wrote an additional scathing rant about how the company exploits our salaried employees on top of that, taking advantage of their desire to do right by patients (they’re clinical medical professionals) to stack work on their plates until they burn out and leave. Most of them work 60+ hour weeks on a good week, and they aren’t MDs and do not get paid anywhere close to enough to make that workload tolerable.

    I submitted it and wondered if it would go anywhere. I’ve half-regretted it since then because I think it might have torched my relationship with my former boss, who was actually a pretty great leader and mentor and who did her best to support our staff with the power she had. But I stand by the principles that sparked my anger in the first place. Well, I caught up with an old coworker the other day and learned that all employees were informed of the law regarding breaks at the last staff meeting. It probably won’t change the culture of that f#cking company at all, but it felt like a tiny little Labor Day victory for me to know that they’re at least aware somebody is watching their BS.

    My new company, by the way, has an extremely supportive employee culture with great pay and great benefits. It’s pretty vindicating to see that a company can be both financially secure and invest heavily in their workforce. I always figured that was the case but the last company definitely tried to convince us otherwise.

    So yeah. I hope y’all are in a good place where you feel appreciated and valued by your employer. If you see crap that isn’t right, speak up if you feel able to. If you do it retroactively, good on you for that, too. Happy Labor Day to all!

  56. Krickets*

    I’ve been feeling some sort of dread when it comes to writing cover letters. I’ve read the posts on here and the tips, but I still feel like it’s a big chore to do it. At this point, I need to rewrite/revamp and have certain go-to paragraphs that I can slot in and customize for different positions.

    What I’m trying to get at is…is it ok not to have your heart in when writing cover letters? Can you write a good cover letter when your heart and mind are disconnected? Can you just state facts and convey true persuasive reasons why they should hire you…without your heart in it?

    1. Sherm*

      I mostly write for a living, and there have been plenty of times when I was writing something I had close to zero enthusiasm for, and my feedback was that it was well-written and engaged the reader. So I definitely don’t think you need to have heart in everything you write.

      Be careful, though, that you don’t dryly repeat what’s on your resume. Maybe think to yourself, “How would I write if I DID have heart?”

      And I totally get that dread feeling. What I like to do in situations like these is to tell myself I only have to do it for 5 minutes, and then I can stop and do as I please. Invariably, once I start I don’t really want to stop, and I continue for much longer than 5 minutes.

    2. Sunny*

      It’s true, it’s very much a chore. And sometimes I feel like, oh no, not again: another hour or more crafting something I probably won’t get a response to.

      But then I remind myself that this is what I want, I want a new position, no one else can do this, and the only possible way to get an interview is to do this one thing.

    3. LilySparrow*


      I also write for a living. You aren’t
      writing a romance novel. Your heart has nothing to do with it.

      You don’t write good persuasive sales copy with your heart. It’s technique.

      Think about what they need in the role, and the facts of what you’re good at. Read it back to yourself to see if it sounds tonally appropriate for your industry, and demonstrates the type of writing skills that will make you a more valuable worker in this role, in this industry.

      You need to “put your heart in it” in the sense of caring that you do it well. You don’t have to enjoy it or be jazzed about it.

    4. Baru Cormorant*

      Absolutely. It’s also OK to plaster a smile on your face and lie through your teeth about how PASSIONATE you are about doing data entry for 8hrs a day in a grey windowless room.

  57. Duckworth*

    I’ve worked at a company for a few years now and along the way, i’ve become friends in person and on social media with lots of my coworkers and the supervisors as well. My team recently got reassigned to a different department and as a result, we got a new boss, although nothing about our job has changed. The only thing is that I’m now friends and following my new boss on social media as we added each other years before the change> Should I delete my boss or ask how they feel about it? I don’t post anything inappropriate (or so i like to think) but it’s still a bit of an awkward situation.

    1. Fantasma*

      I would ask: “Hey, I know we’ve been connected on social media for a while and I wanted to ask whether we should do something differently given our new reporting structure.” In my previous jobs, it was totally normal to be connected with your boss and grandboss on Facebook, but in my current one only LinkedIn is socially acceptable. Not because I or they would share anything inappropriate on other networks, but because of where the professional boundaries are.

  58. Another Sarah*

    Provided someone doesn’t work in a field where name recognition is important, and isn’t a executive/board member/c-suite, is not having a LinkedIn account a bad thing? The career center at my college emphasized how important it was and so did most of the career advice stuff I read online when I first finished school. Most of the people I know do not have a LinkedIn and lots of them are in great fields and have good careers and not much trouble networking or looking for jobs. Is LinkedIn really that important? I would appreciate hearing everyone’s thoughts.

    1. Power Struggle*

      No, it’s really not that important. Building relationships with people in your field and a strong reputation are much more important.

      One area where LinkedIn is useful: if you’ve got something in your search history that’s somehow embarassing or paints you in a bad light, a LinkedIn profile will push it further down in the search results.

    2. dumb dumb*

      LinkedIn is only useful to most people when they are job searching. You can pop your work experience on there and any other useful professional experience, and anyone can access it and see it. The only time I have ever updated my LinkedIn information is when I am looking for a job. That doesn’t mean, however, that all hiring managers actually look at or use LinkedIn, so it may not even help with the job search any more than a good resume and a well thought out cover letter.

      I find the social media part of LinkedIn to be gimmicky and full of people trying to sell you stuff or find a date. It’s not very useful for networking unless you already know the person you are trying to contact. Unfortunately, the social media/chat part seems to be getting bigger and there’s more focus on it on the LinkedIn site.

  59. Suddenly unemployed*

    Last week I received a termination notice from my employer of almost 3 years from a role where my client and revenue work was excellent. Admittedly I have not had a stellar relationship with our ownership, however. I applied for an individual contributor role in an area I have many years of success in and after five interviews they offered a different role in leadership of their small team. I felt I had potential in the role, was happy about the elevated salary, and accepted but was surprised that no measurable goals (including sales goals!) were in place. My efforts to get them to approve goals actually caused quite a rift in our relationship- I even discreetly hired a professional negotiations expert to help me navigate the situation but it was like they did not want to commit to anything concrete! Eventually they did approve team goals (which I proposed) but in the same meeting put me on a 90 day PIP siting totally inaccurate and objective reasons but I figured as long as we have goals as a shared base of expectations then I will just do everything I can to placate them by being as non-conformational as possible when it comes to the more subjective matters. They never brought up the PIP again. Despite polite requests at my anniversary dates, I have never been given a review or additional coaching in the almost 2 years since.
    Fast forward to a few months ago when 2 of 6 staff were out on maternity leave simultaneously. If only one person were out out there would be no issues, but with two people gone a new hire had to be made to keep up with volume in their absence and I had a great person in my network we agreed to bring in. The first of the two new moms is due back tomorrow. At the end of last week the owners said I “continued to struggle in the role”, gave me a separation agreement with severance, said I was very talented and offered to give a positive reference. I expressed my disappointment they did not feel it was worth giving me formal feedback leading up to this point and they agreed that was “a fair point”.
    So here is my big question; was I fired? Laid off? How do I address this in interviews as I don’t really understand the “why” behind the separation since I didn’t received reviews, coaching, or feedback leading up to the event?

    1. BRR*

      It sounds like you were fired. Laid off is for things like financial reasons or the company closes down a division. Does the PIP offer any insight to why you were let go?

      1. Suddenly unemployed*

        The owners did not address this directly, but we will certainly be overstaffed once both the new moms return from maternity leave and, as the person who has the highest salary and no case for pregnancy discrimination, I probably seemed like a good candidate to cut.
        The PIP was from 19 months ago and had a lot of gendered and subjective language (think “combative” and “difficult”) and I really felt it was a tool to “put me in my place” for pushing for basic, necessary structure they didn’t want to commit to. Every actionable item was completed within a month of the meeting.

        1. ArtsNerd*

          It seems like it was a layoff pretending to be a firing. Since your employer says that you “continued to struggle in the role” I suspect they think of it as a firing.

          If you have a civil relationship with them, you can ask how they’ll talk about it when references start checking.

          I would say something like: “We were overstaffed once my colleagues returned from maternity leave, and I was selected for the layoff due to a culture mismatch at that employer. I like having shared goals and other ways to measure success in the role, as well as regular feedback and evaluations. Leadership did not want to move forward when I proposed putting some of those in place at OldJob.”

          Just calmly and factually state the parts that were ridiculous like those (the gendered language is real but trickier to communicate in an interview setting) and watch the eyebrows of your interviewers shoot up! It’s really satisfying if a jaw drops with it.

          1. Suddenly unemployed*

            This seems like good advice. Thank you. I don’t want to feel like I am misleading anybody but I also am confused (and, of course, upset) about what happened and want to make sure I am positioning myself well.
            They did stress that they want to end things amicably and would give a positive recommendation. While I would likely not list them as a reference it is a good idea for me to get a commitment on what the language would be if a prospective employer reached out. I will need to communicate with them regarding the notice agreement and severance anyhow.

  60. Power Struggle*

    I’m finding myself in a weird power struggle with my boss, and I don’t know how to de-escalate it.

    Part of it is that I legitimately approved something I didn’t have full authority to do during a hiring process: advancing unaccrued PTO for a long-planned trip. Our office culture is very flexible about PTO which is why I didn’t think to run it by my boss.

    The other part of it is that there are lots of big scary projects on the horizon that are new to my boss — but not to me. We have different professional backgrounds and I’m excited to sink my teeth into this new strategic direction, while he is overwhelmed. So I’m looking ahead and saying “we should do X leading up to Y.” These all very basic ideas in this field– I’m not suggesting anything remotely off the wall. He doesn’t want to think about X or Y until he absolutely has to though, and I think he’s frustrated at me pushing him to do so.

    Which is why I suspect he’s fixated on the PTO thing — I need to be put back into my place.

    Ordinarily I’d be fine to cede my ground, but my employee is getting caught in the crossfire, with their PTO getting nitpicked to death over policies we didn’t actually have (until just right now.) Protecting my staff is the hill I’m willing to die on, but I don’t know what that looks like here.

    (Small office, no HR, no one to escalate to. Also, my coworkers push back on my boss all the time — it’s a pretty flat hierarchy. Also also I am job searching, which breaks my heart because I thought this was my forever job.)

    1. Eleanor Konik*

      If you have a fairly flat hierarchy, can you loop other people in on the “he’s inventing PTO policies to play petty tin god” and push back as a group to protect the new hire?

      1. Power Struggle*

        There aren’t any allyships or “us vs. the Boss” because there was never any need for it before. My coworkers don’t elicit the same “digging in the heels” reaction from my boss that I do, and with me it was only minor regular-micromanager stuff before this rapid escalation. We’re also pretty spread out from each other — lots of folks are remote — so I don’t think your suggestion is feasible in my situation.

        I didn’t know the phrase “tin god” before! It’s a good one.

    2. myug*

      Will flat-out honesty work? “Hey Boss, I may be wrong but I think there may have been a little friction created when I approved X’s PTO. Based on the way we were operating before, I assumed it was okay but I apologize. I don’t want X to be scrutinized because of my actions. Can we clarify the PTO policy and send out a refresher message to everyone so this doesn’t happen again?”

      I would focus on the PTO policy if that’s what he’s harping on. I wouldn’t bring up that you think he is insecure or these long-term projects evern – let him be the PTO teapot dictator for now. By the way, is advancing PTO a thing that’s been done in the past? Would X have had the days by the time the trip would happen? If not, I can kinda see why your boss sees this as a “eff you, I’ll do what I want” situation and feels undermined,