open thread – October 18-19, 2019

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

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

{ 2,253 comments… read them below }

  1. Getting a Mentor*

    I’m having trouble structuring an email to an old boss of mine to see if she’d potentially be interested in taking on a mentorship role with me. I’m in my mid-20s and worked with this boss in college. We got along great personally and professionally and she has always given me a great reference when I applied to other jobs. I’m now working at the same university she works at, and though we’ve run into each other once, we’ve not formally gotten together and I’d like to connect with her again. I feel I’m at a place where a mentor could be beneficial for me, and my old boss is a great candidate because 1) she completed a professional degree program I am interested in; 2) she has held jobs that I want to have; and 3) she is currently in a position I would like to end up in 10-15 years. I am just struggling on how to word my email. Any advice?

    1. yeine*

      why don’t you start small? ask her to get coffee or lunch, and say something like “your professional growth is something i really admire and aspire to, and i’d love to hear more about how you got where you are.” and based on how that conversation goes, you can figure out what’s next.

    2. Crune*

      Be specific in what you’re asking for as far as time commitment. Lunch a few times a semester, a meeting every week, a one-off coffee where she gives you some career advice? If you can make it specific for her, she’s more likely to see time in her schedule for your ask.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      Agree with the other commenters. Don’t approach it as “will you be my mentor?” because that sounds like a big deal. Mentorships happen organically. Invite her to coffee, if that goes well reach out periodically (every few months) with updates or more invitations to grab a cuppa.

      1. Holly*

        +10000. You don’t ask someone to be a mentor formally. You just treat them as a mentor and see how it progresses.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Annnd there is that possibility that you only need to meet with her once. She may point you in a certain direction and from there you could find more people giving you plenty of pointers. I know I have talked with people and thought I would want to go back to that person later. But later I found out that I did not need to because new people in my life were providing me with what I needed.

        2. Olive Hornby*

          Yes. OP may even slip into conversation (though probably not in this first email) something like, “I’ve always looked to you as a mentor,” which would help frame their asks as a continuation of that relationship vs. a request for a new and time-intensive one.

    4. Emilitron*

      I can see why people would suggest not to set it up as a formal mentoring relationship until you know for sure it will feel right (for your new role) and I can see why people suggest laying out exactly what you’re envisioning and asking for, and maybe this is just a professional growth and networking meeting. Personally I’d be inclined to slip the word “mentor” in, but then ask for just one meeting not to immediately define an ongoing relationship. “Hi Oldboss, it was great to run into you the other day. (complimentary sentence about her professionally) (A specific question/topic you’d like to know about, for example the degree program) I don’t know how much time you have for mentoring right now, but I’d be very interested in scheduling a [specific one-off invitation to lunch or coffee].” My thought being you can use the word mentoring to show that you are in general interested in things she can tell you, but you suggest one meetup not a “would you be my mentor” and then you ahve to explain in email what you think that would entail. Get together once, and then you can talk in person about what things might look like in the future.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I also get where both sides are coming from, but fall on the side of asking (eventually).

        I think you absolutely can and should make it explicit that you’re asking for a mentoring situation — like Crune said, you need to be clear what you’re both agreeing to and what to expect. (Google “mentoring agreement”, you’ll find lots of thoughts about what a mentor-mentee relationship is and can be.) Structure helps create a stronger, more focused relationship, and both sides should talk about what works for them. As someone who does mentoring, I do not consider myself someone’s mentor unless it’s been formally discussed.

        But it makes sense hold back on that for a bit to see how it plays out organically and if they seem open / able to spend time with you first. Avoid being pushy or naive. And remember it’s a two-way street. They can learn from you, too, so it should feel like a match all around.

        Asking someone to be your mentor is not an insignificant demand. That’s largely why it’s worth talking about. It takes the ambiguity out, taking what feels like “bugging” someone or “hitting them up for advice” and turns it into a relationship you can count on and are accountable to. Otherwise, you’re just a networking colleague. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s not mentorship.

    5. MicroManagered*

      I work for a large university and let me tell you we *love* updates from former student employees!

      Send her an email that goes like this:

      Hi Jane!

      Just thought I’d send an update since graduation. As you know, I got a job as a [Whatever] in the [Whatever] department here at [Whatever] University. I’ve been here [whatever] amount of time and am really enjoying X and Y about my job. I am thinking about applying to the [Degree] program in [timeframe] or so. I would actually love to ask some questions about the [Degree] program. Would you be willing to get together for lunch sometime in the next two weeks to talk about it with me?

      Thanks! -GettingAMentor

  2. Anonymom*

    Happy Friday, everyone! I recently learned that my team is expanding, which means I’ll have at least two direct reports for the first time. I’m really excited to grow and develop a team! Any advice for a first-time manager? Books to read, things you wish you’d known going in?

    1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

      When I was considering a management position, I read The Culture Code and found it to be very helpful.

    2. MeowYorker*

      I’ve had a couple of direct reports over the years, and my number one regret is treating my first-ever direct report more like a friend. She is still my direct report, and while she is a great worker, I have trouble managing her when she does have problems because I didn’t start out our relationship right. My organization itself is not very good with management (no formal guidance or structure in terms of feedback, reviews, raises, etc.), which doesn’t help, but I wish I’d started on friendly but more goal-oriented terms than I did. My two cents!

      1. Sleepy*

        I second this about being friends. Be friendly and kind, but keep a bit of professional distance.

        Do you have a say in hiring? If so, be wary of the instinct to hire someone because you like them. Look for someone way to assess their skills, not just how well they answer questions in an itnerview.

      2. Loubelou*

        Agreed on not being friends. I also made this mistake as a first time manager and it caught up with me when she had serious performance issues.

        It is sad, because I now have a fantastic direct report who I would love to be friends with, but I would far rather we work together well for a few years before one of us moves on. Then we can be friends! But for now, for both of our sakes, we are very friendly work-mates.

      3. Jaydee*

        I second this from the flip side. I was the first new hire of my first manager in a professional job. We are still very good friends, and there were certainly many times I appreciated that friendship in a very stressful job. But there were also times that it was hard to have the hard conversations and times I didn’t feel detached enough to act in my own interests (not pushing back on workload, mirroring some of her bad habits, not looking for new opportunities earlier). That was also an organization that had little formal training in how to manage people, no dedicated HR, no one liked or saw value in employee evaluations, and some long-standing dysfunctions (nothing egregious, but the typical things one might expect from a scrappy, medium size non-profit with most upper leadership positions being held by people who had worked there 25+ years).

    3. CM*

      I second Five Dysfunctions of a Team — also Thanks for the Feedback.

      The main thing I learned is that not everyone wants the same thing from their job or their manager. I spent a lot of time solving problems for my team in a way that I thought would please them, because it was the solution that would have pleased me in their place, and they reacted like I brought a dead mouse home. This is something I still struggle with, but I think a big part of it is listening with curiosity to understand what your team ACTUALLY thinks/wants/values and not just scanning for confirmation that they think the same way you do.

    4. Joyful Noisey*

      I had a first time manager who thought managing meant improving my work by way of only criticizing me. Trying to improve speed on tasks that were low priorities, noting when I missed calls because I away from my desk (I was in meetings), making me document in great detail non-essential functions. At the end of the year when the dept managers got together to rate those in my job function (to ensure ratings were fair) it was a huge surprise to my manager to find that I was not only competent, I was the highest performer.
      Good managers hold you accountable when need be, but they also should offer you development opportunties, skills growth, and recognition.

    5. Gaia*

      What I wish I’d have known? That it was inevitable I’d screw up. I’d handle a difficult conversation less than ideally. I’d make errors in judgement. Whatever. For some reason I thought that because I had a mentor who taught me a lot about management and because I read advice about managing, that when I became a manager I’d never make those “learning curve” errors. I did. You will. It is okay. Management is a skill that you are always learning. The fact that you’re interested in being as good as you can means you’ll be far better than many.

      1. Senior Salamander*

        Managing To Change The World by Allison!
        I’ve read it several times and it really helped me when I first started out – and is part of how I discovered this website. It’s geared towards non-profits but broadly relevant.

      2. Lavender Menace*

        Yes! It’s common to think that because you’ve spent time observing other managers and thinking really hard about what you would and wouldn’t do when you’re on the “other side,” that means you will avoid making mistakes. I think learning to forgive myself was probably the single best thing I could do as a new manager.

    6. RedinSC*

      A book I’ve found really helpful over my career is Coaching and Mentoring for Dummies. Part of the For Dummies series (and I know, that’s a little weird, but they do not think you’re a dummy) The book has really helped with a lot of the things a new manager really needs to know.

    7. Lavender Menace*

      I wish I’d known that I was going to feel terrified and unsettled for a little while, and that that’s normal, and that it would diminish over time. I’ve been a manager for 8 months now, and I’m only just beginning to feel like it fits.

  3. HBIC*

    Not really a work question but it’s the office so?

    Any tips on keeping cool? My building turned on the heat and IT GETS SO HOT IN HERE. 

    I run pretty warm. It’s 50 degrees outside and the temp goes up to 60-70 during the day and IT IS SO HOT 

    My desk fan is just blowing hot air. Our ice machine’s been broken all year. Did I mention it’s hot and miserable in here? Wearing less clothes is not an option.

    1. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Do you have a fridge/freezer at work? During the heat wave, I used to take two small towels to work with me, wet them, wring them out so there wouldn’t be any dripping, put them in the freezer for 5ish minutes or the fridge for 20, and put them around my neck. Switch when they warm up.

      Caveat: You will have a towel around your neck. My workplace is pretty casual and also it was 40C outside and inside, so no one batted an eye, but it is not the most professional look.

      1. Approval is optional*

        If the towel is not going to fly, and you have a freezer in the office, you could try freezing little ziplock bags of water into small rectangle shapes and putting them on the ‘inside’ of your wrist (hold them on with wrist bands/bangles or the like). You might also be able to tuck one under your hair or collar for the back of your neck.
        Depending on how you go with scents and/or how your office mates go with them peppermint spray on the feet can help you feel less hot and bothered. Spraying a mist of water onto your wrists and on the back of your neck can help too.
        It was probably a ‘placebo’ but I always found gel inserts in my shoes made me feel cooler when I couldn’t take my shoes off .

        1. New Job So Much Better*

          You can buy Hot Girl’s Pearls which are necklaces that you keep in the freezer, then wear when you get really hot. Coolness lasts about 45 minutes for me. They aren’t the most fashionable jewelry, but they work.

          1. Ali A*

            I second these. Usually in hiking/sports equipment section. Let it soak in cold/cool water and wrap around your neck.

      2. SQL Coder Cat*

        Have you tried the cooling collars from the craft store? They come in a variety of colors and patterns, and they’re about an inch wide and can easily be hidden under a collared shirt.

      3. HBIC*

        No freezer :( We have a fridge but it’s filled to the brim with so much old food and junk (yes some of it is mine!) that I just don’t want to touch it. We had a small freezer that also had ice in it but the ice machine’s been broken for months.

    2. Theoneoverthere*

      Do other people complain too? I noticed when multiple would complain to maintenance they would adjust the temp. Not sure if its always been an issue, but the first few days for us with the heat on were scorching and then it seemed to adjust itself back to a sane temperature.

      1. HBIC*

        Oh yeah, a lot o people complain daily about how hot it is. We’ve gone through 2 office managers and both have said that legally the heat has to be turned on by a certain date…which I know isn’t a lie, because I lived in apartment buildings where the heat turned on in October. (I’m in NYC if it makes any difference). People have their fans but it’s just hot air at this point.

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          This sounds like a steam heat sort of problem, unfortunately. We had the same issue when I lived in Boston. Steam heat has two settings, “off” and “bowels of hell hot.”

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            Old buildings with radiators often have windows that can open. Newer buildings, they say “oh, the windows don’t need to open because the HVAC system will take care of everything,” and this prediction often turns out to be wildly over-optimistic!

      1. HBIC*

        No ice!!! LOL. I’d have to go out 3-4 x a day to the stores around to get ice. Our fridge is cold enough to keep drinks and food but not ice I think.

        1. Parenthetically*

          You don’t need to have a constant source of ice at the office, just a big container of ice from home. Get a Yeti or Hydroflask or another double-walled cup/jar/bottle. My knock-off Hydroflask from TJ Maxx keeps ice for 24 hours and my husband’s lidded Yeti tumbler keeps it for every bit of 36 hours.

          1. Hamburke*

            I have a yeti tumbler, rtic big tumbler and Contigo bottle. They all work really well at keeping ice!

        2. JokeyJules*

          get a LARGE cup of water, fill with ice, then you’ll need to re-up around lunch. Get some fresh air and some ice and you are good to go!

          Or also, the YETI which everyone raves about and is an excellent vessel for beverage consumption

          1. JokeyJules*

            oh! this just popped into my head.

            My SO works outside all day, I went to Target or Walmart and got one of the large water jugs, super well insulated, keeps the ice frozen through most of the day. It was definitely less than $20, too.

        3. Joie De Vivre*

          Get a Yeti cup and fill it full of ice at home. It will keep your water cold for quite a while.

        4. MoopySwarpet*

          You could get a large double wall thermos and fill with ice and water in the morning then refill a smaller mug throughout the day. Even the cheaper ones tend to keep ice and water cold for most of a work day.

          Or even freeze a couple bottles of water, put in a lunch cooler, drink as they melt and/or refill. In the summer, I keep our home freezer stocked with half full liter bottles. I tip them (mostly) on their side while freezing and then fill with water when I take them out.

          The cheap insulated cooler totes will keep ice bottles icey cold for a couple days.

    3. So long and thanks for all the fish*

      God I’m jealous, they haven’t turned on the heat in my building yet and it’s 40 degrees outside. I run cold though. Maybe go outside as often as you can? Take a water break in the 50 degree weather? Bring a thermos of ice water from home?

      1. gsa*

        “ Bring a thermos of ice water from home?”

        I leave the house every morning with a half a gallon of ice water. In the summertime I filled it up twice.

        If you can make icewater a habit, you will never leave home without it.

    4. JimmyJab*

      Is there not someone to whom you can speak about the office temp? My office is in a super old building and has wildly varying temps, so the building people wind up having to adjust it for us all the time. Otherwise sit still and drink water?

    5. Jamie*

      I have a small fan under my desk which blows the cooler air up as well as a cooling towel.

      Sounds weird but it’s a thick cooling towel so after I wring it out I lay it folded so my wrists rest on it and it does help. Then when no one is looking I dab my neck and face with it.

      I also keep a spray bottle of rose water facial toner (no alcohol) and sprits my face, neck, and arms and aim the fan…the evaporation is really nice. None of these resolve the issue but can help.

      1. HBIC*

        I like the spray idea.

        I may also just get a new fan as this one is just blowing hot air and a little weak now. I bought it exactly 3 years ago so maybe it’s dying?

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Some of the thinner cooling towels look more like scarfs too, so that might be an alternative.

      3. Wolfsbane*

        Yes a bigger fan under the desk works amazingly to cool you down.

        signed – everyone in my office runs cold and they have windows so they are freezing while my cubicle is literally 80F.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I keep a thermometer at my desk. The one on the thermostat does not record how it feels at my desk. I find it to be very helpful in lobbying for yet another trip from the HVAC guys, or whoever it is that climbs around in my ceiling.
      Slowly but surely my temps are getting better.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yes. Our engineering test labs helped get our area addressed at one point by loaning us the temperature -over-time recorder used for final validation tests. I don’t remember the temps, but it was much higher than the thermostat claimed.

      2. Dasein9*

        Yep. I have one that has a clock/calendar on it too, so when I have to show my landlord that the apartment is out of compliance, they see I’ve taken a picture of all the needed info at once.

    7. whatthemell?*

      Ugh – I run hot too and I ended up getting a cooling fan for my desk and it’s aimed directly at my head. The A/C is always going in our suite (I’m in Los Angeles) but I need the extra cool breeze. I also wear short sleeves just about daily, or if I wear a long-sleeved shirt, it’s very thin and light cotton.

      My co-worker is the opposite – she has a heater going under her desk AND wears her wool coat all day. It makes me so tired and sweaty just being in her area – the heat truly makes me want to sleep !

    8. [insert witty username here]*

      UGH that sucks. Two suggestions:

      1. Get a metal insulated cup (big – like 32 oz) and completely fill it with ice from home to take with you. It will last through the day and you can refill it with water at the office so you have ice cold water to drink
      2. Run your wrists under cold water in the bathroom for 30-60 seconds – it will cool your blood a bit at a pulse point and really help you feel cooler

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        For 1, consider putting a 3/4 full bottle in the freezer overnight and topping up with water in the morning. Solid ice is slower to melt so it will stay colder longer (you can still top up all day).

    9. Dame Judi Brunch*

      Our office’s HVAC is so messed up! I feel your pain.
      What’s worked for us is complaining as a group. They’re at least attempting to fix the issues now. I think they find it easier to dismiss one complaint from one person.
      There are cooling cloths that if you get them wet they’re supposed to cool you off. You out them on the back of your neck. They’re usually by the exercise gear at the store, I think one brand is Cool Snap.
      Good luck!

      1. HBIC*

        We’ve been complaining for years but we’re always told that nothing can be done. The office managers hate the heat too.

        I just wish that there was like a grace period where there’s NO air conditioning and NO heating. Is that too much to ask for. Sigh.

    10. Master Bean Counter*

      They make chill pads for your chair.
      I had one coworker buy one for another coworker after one threatened to have the thermostat turned down.
      That pad was a life saver in the office. I think it was bought off of QVC. But it worked like those ice packs that don’t require freezing. The hotter you get the cooler the pad gets.

    11. Paralegal Part Deux*

      I’ve put water bottles in the office freezer and blew my fan across that before. It works like a mini air conditioner. Once it thaws, I switched out for a new one and did that all day long.

    12. Jaid*

      Oh, my. I have the same situation with public transportation. I have to take off my sweater when I board the bus or train and whip out a personal fan. Totally not looking forward to actual cold weather.
      Otherwise, I have one of those jelly Beadz caps that gets soaked in water and stays cool for a while. But I have no shame at the office :-) I do find that wearing 100% cotton helps, because I find other fabric retains heat.
      Maybe bring ice from home and put a little dish in front of your fan to help cool off?

    13. Beancounter Eric*

      Get a large BubbaBottle, fill it with ice and your favorite beverage, and top off as needed during the day.

      I have a 40oz Bubba Trailblazer which, when the office temp was hitting 80 during the hottest part of summer, would still have about half the ice I started with in the morning at end of day.

    14. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They have those little mini space air conditioners you can get on Amazon! Get one of those to replace your fan with.

    15. Rebecca*

      I will never understand this. Seriously, I have coworkers who sit at their desks, with the heat on, a heater at their feet, a hoodie, etc. and complain how “chilly” they are, and it’s literally 80 degrees in our office. And all because it’s 40 degrees OUTSIDE. Honestly, I feel like I’m going to pass out from heat exhaustion. I can wear short sleeves, run my fan, but like the OP said, it just blows hot air. And these people are the first ones to turn on the central air in their homes and complain if it’s above 70 when they’re trying to sleep at night. Ugh.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Everyone runs at different temperatures. I find being cold a lot more painful than being too hot in the end.

        Hot makes me just lethargic a bit. But cold can make it hard to use my fingers or focus because my toes are gonna fall off =( So I’d rather have it roasting.

        1. Bluesboy*

          Everyone does run at different temperatures, and of course we should be understanding of that.

          But I think Rebecca is talking about those people (who I will never understand either) who want/need an exaggerated contrast from the outside temperature. So in the summer, they need the temperature below 70 or it’s too hot to sleep. But in winter, they can have the heating at 80 and complain that they’re cold. I don’t think that can be about running at different temperatures.

          To get back on topic, where I live is pretty hot and humid, and honestly I think the thing that helps the most is just drinking A LOT. Your body knows how to reduce heat, it sweats, and it can only do that with plenty of liquid.

          Also, if you do get access to something cold, put it on the places where the blood runs closest to the surface. Back of the neck, wrists etc. I’m told that cools the blood which then travels around the body. It seems to work to me.

          1. Clisby*

            Yeah, I live in coastal SC, and during the summer my home AC is set to 80 during the day, 78 at night. Between the dehumidifying effect and the > 10 degree difference between inside and outside, that’s fine. It drives me crazy to go into restaurants, public buildings, etc., where they clearly have the temp set at 70 or below, and it’s freezing!

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Eh. It’s still a personal temperature and comfort thing in the end.

            In the summer, my apartment gets to 75 degrees and it’s too much to deal with. So I crank the air.

            In the winter, my apartment at 75 degrees is delicious and required. So I crank the heat.

            I think in the end it’s really about the complaining being an issue, at the determent to others. Which is the uncoolest of uncools, I totally agree there. I only control the temperature around me persons, if someone said “Wow it’s hot in there” I would say “Oh shoot, yeah I’m freezing over here so I probably went out of control with the thermostat, go ahead and turn it down!”

            Thermostat wars are real for a reason. Everyone has their preference. Just like smells or tastes are different for everyone. Pesky 5 senses =(

            1. Bluesboy*

              You’re right when you say that it is about the complaining. I live through thermostat wars daily (guy runs hot and refuses to take off his jacket & tie, woman runs cold and only wears short sleeves. Fun!)

              In the end it’s just about respecting other people and finding compromises. Unfortunately it seems some people find it more complicated than that.

              1. Clever Name*

                This is what drives me nuts. My work wardrobe nearly always involves a cardigan or long-sleeved layer of some sort. I also keep a wool cardigan at my desk. If I’m too hot, I remove my cotton cardigan or layer. If I’m too cold, I put on my wool sweater. I’m also really good at adjusting my base layer to be comfortable in about any temperature. (cotton tank under a sweater for a warmer office, or a thermal long underwear layer under a sweater for a cold office)

                I have had more than 1 coworker who really preferred keeping the air temperature at 80 at all times. What made me nuts about having it that hot in the winter was that these coworkers refused to dress appropriately. They would wear thin gauzy “sweaters” or t-shirts and have rolled up pant legs and no socks. In the winter. I’d come in from the snow wearing boots and a wool sweater and they’d have the heat cranked up to 80 and be sitting there with bare arms and exposed ankles (and they’d complain to me about the cold). Ugh.

            2. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

              Often, when you feel this way about temperature (needing to feel warmer in winter than you do in summer), it’s because your skin is overcompensating for the humidity. You’d be amazed at how much keeping the humidity at around 50% helps with thermostat wars. (Some people will fret that this is bad for electronics or paper records, but I’m told it doesn’t really matter as much as you think.)

          3. Junior Assistant Peon*

            As for the contrast to the external temperature comment, I used to travel to Houston a lot on business, and every public building there is air conditioned to something like 64 when it’s 95 outside. At least in the Northeast, your body can acclimate to the weather, but in Texas, you need a jacket to go to the mall in July.

        2. Anax*

          Heat makes me incredibly dizzy and nauseous because of a medical disorder. I spent an hour or two every hot day laying on the floor, trying not to throw up. I used to run cold, but… not anymore, apparently.

          I wish there were a better way to deal with those more extreme reactions to the office temperature wars – not “just” discomfort, but discomfort strong enough that it’s almost impossible to work.

          1. WS*

            I’m the same – if it gets hot enough, I faint. My co-worker who runs cold and I swap desks so I sit right under the air conditioner in summer and she’s right under the heater in winter (and the swap desk is by the door, so she gets hot outside air coming in or I get cold outside air coming in).

      2. CheeryO*

        As one of “those people,” sorry for having a wacky internal thermometer, I guess? I need it to be under 70 for sleeping because I sleep hot. I grew up without A/C and survived, but hey, I can afford to be comfortable, so why not? I get cold sitting around the office (and no, you can’t always just throw more layers on – there’s a point where you’re just chilled and it’s uncomfortable no matter what). And I wouldn’t put too much stock in the thermostat – temperatures in most offices fluctuate depending on where you are in relation to the blowing air.

        1. Autumnheart*

          I sit right underneath one of the vents. It’s probably 10 degrees colder at my desk than it is at the next desk.

          But in all seriousness, women wear ponchos, wraps, blankets scarves, jackets, and even keep actual blankets at their desks. I’m freezing my butt off right now and I’ve got a work blanket on my shopping list for sure.

          1. Profane Pencils*

            At one of my old jobs, the head EA bought herself and me electric blankets. Like big, plush ones that could absolutely pass for a weird sweater, and they were SO WARM. it was amazing.

            Our office is dog-friendly so I just use one of the local living heating packs when I get cold. My good boy in particular is very tolerant of me shoving cold hands into his armpits.

            that was a weird sentence.

    16. Buttons*

      I often have to travel to Japan for work, my corporate offices there keep the temperature about 80F. When there I have to wear a suit, hose, sleeves, a jacket! I am usually cold, but wearing all that crammed into a conference room with 30 other people gets uncomfortable. I take cooling bandanas (google them). You soak them in water and leave them the ‘fridge, then you can put it around your neck. They don’t drip, and they won’t get your collar wet. I have found it easy enough to disguise. They are amazing. I use them when I working outside in the heat or going on a hike.

    17. SciGurl*

      Freezing my hot water bottle overnight save me during a heat wave this summer. I sat with it on my lap and it helped keep me cool for most of the day (also works for cooling your bed down at night).

    18. LilySparrow*

      I know you said wearing less clothes is not an option, but are there any options to choose more breathable and less-fitted garments (on all layers)? I live in a hot climate, and when covering up is mandatory, underwear and clothes that allow as much circulation as possible help.

    19. Rusty Shackelford*

      If the heat has to be *on*, can it at least be redirected? Can vents be closed or covered?

    20. blink14*

      Old school trick – freeze water bottles or bring in ice packs, and put them in a bowl that is high enough to reach the level of your fan, but not so high that it blocks the fan. Put the bowl in front of the fan – as the water bottles or ice packs start melting, the fan picks up the condensation and makes the air blowing towards you cooler.

      My office building’s HVAC system is awful – so many redesigns of suites, without moving the vents around. I boil in the summer and have to use a fan and a HEPA filter, and then it is so dry once the heat goes on that I have to use a humidifier, HEPA filter, and yet still sometimes my fan because the air is too hot.

    21. MsChanandlerBong*

      No advice, but I feel for you. I work from home, but if my boss ever wanted me to work in the office, there’s no way I would. The suite our company rents is in a building in which they turn off the air conditioning on weekends. My coworker regularly tells me about how he’s dripping with sweat, and my boss has mentioned wanting to stick his head in the freezer. I am extremely heat-sensitive, so there is no way in Hades I’d work there.

    22. MissDisplaced*

      My old office was always hot and stuffy. I generally did the following. I’m also in menopause so it applies there as well.

      Wear sleeveless tops w/a jacket or something you can throw on for meetings. I find if my arms stay cool, I’m cooler!

      Dress in lightweight breathable fabrics

      Steer clear of socks/boots and heavy footwear in the office

      Desk fan!

      Ice water!

      If necessary, flexible cool packs you can pull out of the freezer.

    23. ..Kat..*

      Go to amazon and search for personal air conditioner. You will find fans with a water reservoir that you can put ice water in. They come in small sizes suitable for a desk top. Bring your own ice in a Hydroflask type container.

      Also, how casual is your office dress code? Could you get away with wearing light weight, wicking sports clothes?

      Do you have your own office? If so, can you close the vents?

    24. The Other Dawn*

      I feel for you. Although I tend to run cooler these days, there’s a vent directly above my desk at the new job. I don’t feel the heat directly unless I raise my desk, and when I do, UGH it’s so hot and stuffy! I feel like the purpose of my sit/stand desk, which is to give me pain relief in my lower back, has been defeated. I’m going to see if the vent can be redirected, because it’s only October–I can’t imagine spending all winter like this!

  4. yeine*

    Hey all,

    There is a job ad for a job that i am currently not qualified for – out of the two things this job will do, i am very strong in one area of the qualifications and have essentially no experience in the other and the job description makes it clear they are both going to be important needs. It’s essentially director-level while i am manager-level. That being said, this is the job that i want to have in 2-3 years, and i’m thinking about applying for this job in hope is i get an interview just to learn what they’re looking for and how their interview process will go.

    Is this a good idea?
    Are there recommendations or suggestions on how to go about doing that? Should i just pretend i am qualified and make my way through the interview hoping (??) that they offer me the job at the end? I would probably take it if they offered it, probably — it’s a great company and a huge step up for me.

    1. juliebulie*

      If you’re grossly underqualified then don’t, but it sounds like it wouldn’t be ridiculous for you to go for it.

      Just use your cover letter to point out your strength in the first area, and to express your enthusiasm (and even the slightest relevant qualifications) for the second area.

      If they like you enough to interview you, don’t try to fake your way through the interview, because you probably won’t fool them. Even if they decide that you’re not ready for this role yet, as long as you make a good impression this could end up paying off later on.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      I can’t quite tell if you’re thinking about misrepresenting your background, if you are, please reconsider as that would be a bad move.

      I say shoot your shot with your relevant work experience and see what happens. If the company is looking at someone that has both qualifications and you only possess one I would mentally prepare myself to receive a rejection notice and possibly in swift order. Try not to take it personally as you mentioned this position would be a stretch job for you.

    3. annony*

      If you really think you are not qualified for the job, don’t apply. It could make you look like you don’t understand the job you are applying for. However, if you are qualified but not necessarily their ideal candidate, go for it! I think it comes down to whether experience in that second area is necessary or nice to have.

    4. Holly*

      I would only apply if you think you could do this job and want this job right now – note that this is different if you think you match the specific qualifications. Do *you* think you are currently qualified? If so, try and get the job and take it as the learning experience you want if you don’t! What would be terrible if a) they think you have poor judgment because you definitely are not qualified, b) you don’t convey confidence in that you are qualified if you get an interview!

    5. Kiwiii*

      I think applying and representing yourself truthfully (including your enthusiasm for the position/willingness to learn the other side of it) is probably the best bet — you don’t want to get off on a weird/wrong foot by trying to impress that you’re more qualified than you are — and sometimes the “most qualified” candidate isn’t the best fit, if their personality or skills in other places aren’t a good fit. If you make it to the interview stage ask ALL the questions you can even and especially if it seems like their response matches your assessment of “maybe in like 2 years.”

      Best of luck!

      1. Kiwiii*

        Also, something to note, is that plenty of people apply to and do well in positions where they only technically match about half of the qualifications. You could be one of them!

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          My old boss used to say an ad was a wish list and employers don’t expect to get it all, so if you have at least 50% of it, it’s worth a shot.

    6. Anona*

      Apply!

      Are you a woman? There’s research that most women don’t apply unless they meet all qualifications, where men apply if they meet 60% of the qualifications. This obviously advantages men, because while not all of those men are getting these jobs, some of them definitely are!
      Harvard Business Review has an article called “Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified” that you can google.

    7. Heat's Kitchen*

      IMO, if you have more than 50% of the qualifications, and you’re that excited about it, I’d apply. But don’t look at it as “hoping I get an interview just to learn what they’re looking for” — look at it AS AN ACTUAL JOB INTERVIEW. You might get to the interview and the qualifications you do have are what they’re looking for and they’re willing to train someone on the rest of it. Don’t sell yourself short.

      But on the other side of the coin, it sounds like you’re being realistic that you might not get a call, and that’s okay too. Apply as long as you’re serious about it and aren’t too far away from being able to get it. Tailor your resume and cover letter, and do your best.

    8. Snorkmaiden*

      “ Should i just pretend i am qualified”

      No. Because when they find out you’re not, you will have torched a bridge.

    9. German Girl*

      Yeah, go for it. Just be open in the cover letter that you don’t have experience in the second area but are enthusiastic to learn. Then it’s upon them to decide if they can provide training or need someone who’s ready to hit the ground running in that second area.

  5. Middle Manager*

    A few weeks ago we did a team building activity with the leadership in my office that I really wasn’t jazzed about- two days of very physical challenges on a low and then high ropes course. I get that part of the point is to stretch yourself and that you’ll never find an activity that anyone likes. But I have a history of eating disorder and this was so body conscious that I really regret participating- balancing people on a beam (how much does everyone weigh), crawling through a huge spiderweb (who can fit through which hole), you get the idea. It was really problematic for me. And literally the day before we went we had the mandatory annual training on being inclusive to people with disabilities, which I found a little ironic since we were in the middle of a woods with no accessible trails, bathrooms, etc.

    I don’t want to be negative about it and just say, “we shouldn’t do ropes courses because they aren’t inclusive.” I’d like to approach it more positively as “here are some ideas that would be inclusive.” We do these about twice a year, since I’ve been here we’ve done a cooking class thing and escapes rooms. Any other suggestions that you’ve enjoyed that you could share with me?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That actually sounds like a lot of fun. I did something similar recently, though it was a murder mystery scavenger hunt with a large group of young professionals from various different industries, and the museum setup was great.

        1. Anonymeece*

          That sounds awesome! Meanwhile, my (female) supervisor keeps pushing golf… on a group of introverted academic types. :/

      2. Kimmybear*

        This is a great idea when done well. I’ve seen scavenger hunts that are inclusive and those that aren’t. If it requires running, climbing trees or balancing a colleague horizontally, it’s not inclusive. :)

    1. SQL Coder Cat*

      This would be one of my nightmares. I have a bad hip as a result of a particularly bad car accident, and climbing ropes sounds like a great way to have a flare up. Activities I’ve enjoyed in the past are photo scavenger hunt (take a picture of your team with the object in question), lego build challenges (each team gets an identical bag of legos, and everyone gets challenged to build the most creative ), and putting a black piece of paper on everyone’s back, and everyone goes around and writes one thing they like about each person on their paper.

      1. Ada*

        Ooh! How about GISH (Greatest International Scavenger Hunt)? You guys can compete on an international level.

    2. Rachel in NYC*

      My office just did a Digital Storytelling Lab (ours wasn’t digital) that was really inclusive- and what was nice was that was a mix of individual and group work. It basically involved us running around a room drawing things and laughing a lot and ended with us making up crazy stories in our little groups. (The only rule was that we were supposed to try to not be in a group with people we worked with daily.)

      Last year we went to a rock climbing gym followed by shuffleboard (because we some of the same complaints- rock climbing was determined to be a little ageist.)

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      I do pottery and I know my studio does one-off groups for this kind — it’s a good “stretch” activity that also is more inclusive than more physical activities.

    4. Marissa*

      Oh I hate that they did the balancing people thing, that’s awful. If the group is large enough I’m a big fan of choices. The key I think is that you have to have someone from higher up signed up for each option early so that people who don’t pick the ropes course don’t feel like their picking the lesser, “we only did this for you” option.

      I’ve enjoyed when my company’s have done tournaments (I enjoyed bean bag toss tournament, and those silly Minute to Win It games).

      Starting with a venue that’s inclusive and accessible is really important. Even if no one on your team currently has accessibility needs, it’s a good habit to get into and also gives the corporation’s money to places that are accessible.

      1. remizidae*

        Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with a ropes course or other physical activity as long as there are other choices. I’d much prefer a physical activity over something sedentary/sitting around eating food.

    5. Lemon Squeezy*

      Our team did a sip-and-paint which was pretty fun, especially since they walk you through the painting step-by-step, and they had soda as well (I don’t drink alcohol.)

    6. OneWorkingMama*

      We do a (simple) volunteering activity as a group–we bake cookies (from mixes) at our local Ronald McDonald House, and then go out for a late lunch. We’re helping others, hanging out and chatting, and then get food; it’s one of our favorite days of the year!

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I feel old. I would have all I can do not to say, “I am here to work, not play games all day.”

      Maybe you can suggest that everyone have the ability to opt out with no repercussions and no questions.
      “In light of our training about being inclusive for people with disabilities, we might want to take a look at our semi-annual team building exercises to see how well it fits with our goal of being inclusive. Some folks have hidden disabilities and we need to be mindful of them also. People should not have to explain why they cannot do a particular activity and they shouldn’t be left behind or ignored either.”

      Notice the use of “we”. Don’t say “you”. It’s “we”, as in “we should consider…”.

    8. Shift to Strategy*

      One of the best team functions, mentioned above, was cooking a meal at the Ronald McDonald House to feed the children and families staying there.

      Recently, my team volunteered at an animal shelter. We cleaned cages and disinfected sleeping beds, fed the animals, then played with them! The play is important to socialize the animals for adoptions. So many toys!

      1. German Girl*

        The animal shelter thing could be problematic or even impossible to do for people with allergies.

        But the cooking for others is a good idea imho. I think most food allergies are handled by just not eating the stuff (or if touching is problematic as well you can have someone else cut the produce you’re allergic to), which is nicely taken care of by not planning to eat the food.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          My allergies are such that I will have trouble being in the same room when someone else is cutting up or cooking my allergen, particularly if it is not well-ventilated, but that’s certainly not true for all allergies.

          There is no perfect activity, really. The best way to go is probably to rotate activities so it works well for different people each time, and to make it reasonably painless to opt out when it’s something that doesn’t work for you. (I don’t/can’t do: ropes courses, most things involving food, and super-competitive board games. I am happy to: get up on stage in front of a group of people and do a skit or song, build something for an engineering-type challenge, go camping. Other people will put each of those things in different categories, so it’s mostly about not always doing any one of them.)

          1. Observer*

            There is no perfect activity, so rotation and / or choices are a good idea. However, some activities are likely to be a problem for a really high percentage of the population. I’d say that cooking for a group like this is less likely to create problems than the activity in the OP’s post.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Canstruction” dot org. Join a competition, do your own internally, send the cans on to a local school doing THEIR competition or to a food bank.

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

      I’ve done the group scavenger hunt thing for team building at work and that was OK, but depending on the tasks and how large of an area you need to cover, it might not be very easy or inclusive. We were in teams and each team got a Fujifilm/Polaroid camera to take photos. We should have just used cell phone cameras or something because they malfunctioned often, the photos almost never turned out and we had a very limited number of photos.

      I think creative/thinking tasks that people could do around a table can be fun and “team build” without requiring physical activity — trivia contest, puzzle solving, use craft supplies like popsicle sticks and glue to build a contraption for an egg drop or rube-goldberg device.

    11. Joyful Noisey*

      My company did a teams event where we assembled wheelchairs that were donated to a veteran’s group.
      A treasure hunt might be fun.
      If the group is less than 15 people, Story cubes.

    12. chipMunkey*

      We used to organize volunteering at a foodbank once a year for those that wanted and were able to participate. We signed up for shifts, and would help sort cans and dry goods, check for expiry dates, etc. Maybe not great if people have food issues, but it worked for us because we welcomed anyone that wanted to join in (read – not mandatory).

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I did this recently with my mom and people from her company, and it was very rewarding, though I was very disappointed that the majority of the food we were boxing up wasn’t very healthy.

    13. Buttons*

      There are several companies that do a combination of team building while creating something for charity. We do these about once a year. Some of them have been: building wheelchairs to donate to the Veteran’s Association- everyone was in groups and you had to solve puzzles to get the next set of parts and directions for the wheelchairs, this year we built bikes to give to kids, we have done scavenger hunts to find all the items to put together backpacks filled with school supplies. We did a cooking one- we went to a local cooking school and again we had to solve puzzles/riddles/trivia questions to get ingredients to cook something, but we didn’t know what we were cooking, we would get an ingredient and a step (we ended up making lasagnas and salads, we ate one and the rest were taken to a local shelter). It was fun. You can search for “charitable team-building” or something like that to see what companies are in your area.
      I have also noticed that people complain less when the outcome is something for charity :)

      1. Anono-me*

        But are they complaining less because they really are happier to do the charity based activity or are they complaining last because they’re afraid they’ll sound like jerks if they say if complain about doing something problematic for a charity?

        For example doing a group cookout is something you can complain about if you have eating or food issues. But if you complain about cooking a meal for the homeless, you sound like a jerk. Even if about 20 things in that kitchen could kill you.

        I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all activity. I think you have to have a variety of activities on rotation and allow people to opt out without penalty. (Although someone opts out a significant number of times, maybe ask them for suggestions to make sure that you aren’t accidentally choosing lots of things that exclude that person. )

    14. Cedarthea*

      As someone who is a low ropes and initiatives facilitator, I would like to say there are lots of us who work on making our programs more inclusive and if your org is hellbent on a facilitated experience there is a way to do it more inclusively.

      When I run the spiderweb we rarely put people through it, but rather we pass a rope back and forth to “rewire the circuit”, for the whale watch we frame it around placement and communication, and that any discussion of bodies (of any shape, size or ability) isn’t welcome because it’s not about size it’s about placement. I am nearly 300lb and I have balanced it with a 4 yo as the only other person.

      There are also all sorts of less active initiatives tasks, lots of building, communicating and coordinating that doesn’t require anything more than a room and some tables.

      Beyond that, we have done axe throwing, mini golf, escape room (everyone hated that one but me, but I’ve played a lot of video games). Most recently our team went to see a show (we are just outside Toronto) and ate at the CN tower restaurant. Hope you find something that works for your team, but there is always someone who doesn’t do well with whatever is chosen, so there is no perfect activity.

    15. Ann Perkins*

      Minor league baseball game? We had an evening where the office paid for everyone to have dinner and go to a baseball game, families included.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Baseball games are my personal idea of hell. Our department has a baseball outing every year, and every year I decline and offer to stay behind for coverage. This works out great, because I get a nice, quiet day without interruptions while earning brownie points for my “sacrifice”. The office has other fun/team-building events that I do attend, though, so I’m not the annual party pooper with my baseball hate. My office has a pretty good range of events, so even if everyone doesn’t like all of them, everyone will almost certainly like at least one of them.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          My old job did MLB gave as a company picnic. The problem is, it’s Houston in July and it’s HOT. As in “boiling humid HOT”. They had the pavilion set up with the drinks and hot dogs, but the seats were always out in the sun.
          Well, and we had a lot of foreigners, me included, who had no interest whatsoever in baseball. Plus, that was the era of The Disastros.

          1. Oof*

            They were still a fun team to watch in that era, particularly as they usually picked it up in the second half of the season. (gee thanks?) And there were some fantastic individual players. See they put you on the first base side – nope, always stick with third. And then you can heckle opposing teams! :-) (in the Astros way not the yankees version)

            1. RussianInTexas*

              One of those games was that 21 inning thing on Fourth of July. I don’t think any of my coworkers stayed.

    16. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      We did a ropes course teambuilding thing in middle school. It resulted in: me getting yelled at for dropping someone (I weighed 90 pounds, I shouldn’t have been lifting ANYONE ffs), and a bunch of girls getting their butts and boobs groped.

      I cannot fathom why anyone would think this would be anything short of a disaster for work.

      1. pretzelgirl*

        We did a Ropes Course in HS and I was terrified of heights and didn’t want to go. The point of the Ropes Course (at least this one), was that no one is left behind ever. If someone is scared or thinks they can the other team members help them. I ended up last bc I was so scared to go. NO ONE HELPED ME. I had to brought down on a ladder by the instructor. It was awful. I cried the whole bus ride home.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I am not physical at all, and any stuff like this brings all the anxieties about being humiliated all the way back in high school for not being fit. This would be the worst.

      2. Observer*

        Well,clearly whoever set that up had no idea what they were doing. So, you can’t really judge by that. But, it still sounds like a terrible idea anyway.

    17. lz*

      We did a paint your own rustic wood thing. It was fun even for people who aren’t crafty. I made a cool box for veggies.

    18. Vicky Austin*

      I think you should speak up and say that the ropes course is not inclusive and why. Often, people don’t realize that they are not being inclusive until someone tells them so. Since accessibility is not something abled people need to think about, they sometimes inadvertently make mistakes.

      I suggest something low-key, like playing Two Truths And A Lie. It’s fun, it’s a great way to bond with people, it’s free, and it’s accessible to all.

    19. RussianInTexas*

      I will be The Grump and suggest no mandatory team building activities outside of office whatsoever. Meaning outside of work hours and the office physical walls.
      But that’s just grumpy me.

    20. Anon for today and probably tomorrow*

      My manager brought in someone to do comedy improv with us, which to my utter shock, was amazing. He didn’t tell us what he was doing ahead of time. This was probably a smart move on his part, because I think all of us would have been figuring out excuses to get out of the team building day. It actually highlighted some issues we have with communication and was helpful.

    21. Gumby*

      Saying “we shouldn’t do ropes courses because they are not inclusive” doesn’t make sense if they are inclusive for the group that you have at that point and time. The lack of accessible trails is not, in itself, lacking inclusion for a group where no one needs that kind of accommodation. Otherwise no one ever could do a ropes course because someone somewhere might not be able to participate. So coming at it from a different direction is a good call.

      Though, also, I am very sorry that you had a terrible experience and that, apparently, the whole concept of “challenge by choice” was not clearly explained and rigorously applied. I definitely would have been sitting out the balancing one because that sound hideous. I’ve done a few ropes courses in my day (worked at an internet company…) and have never seen that one.

      Those internet companies I worked at also used to do:
      cooking classes / challenges
      white water rafting
      kayaking
      sailing lessons
      bocce ball
      hikes
      bicycling
      rock climbing
      snorkeling
      scuba diving
      photo scavenger hunts
      “build a raft with these (insufficient) materials” (*every* group failed at this)
      human hamster ball-like things (zorb balls)
      inflatable obstacle course thing
      a series of team challenges that was arranged by some consulting group – each one was maybe 15 minutes and there was a variety (talk a blindfolded teammate through a maze, get team across a gap with only 3 boards that are all too short to be a bridge by themselves, etc.)
      surfing lessons
      puzzlehunt / treasure hunt patterned after “The Game” but shorter and work appropriate
      attend sporting events

      Many times multiple things were happening at the same time so the non-swimmers, for example, would not ever be in the sailing group.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Outside of attending a sporting event (and even that depends) or a cooking class (but not challenge) none of these sound in any way fun or appealing, and some are not possible (a non-swimmer).
        Scratch that, these would not be possible: rafting, kayaking, sailing, snorkeling, scuba, rock climbing, surfing, bicycling, hikes longer than couple of easy miles, zorb ball.
        Puzzlehunts/treasure hunts/escape rooms/building stuff just plain sucks. Especially the escape room.
        Then again, I am The Grump. I HATE team building and Mandatory Fun. Can I just work, get paid, and go home?
        I am of a firm opinion that if my team is sucky by working together 8 hours a day, no team building will fix it.

      2. M*

        God, these sound awful. And I think your office should almost certainly take a step back and consider the pressures that exist for someone to be a “good team player” on team-building days and participate even when all the activities on offer are unappealing physical.

        If there’s a simple motto anyone organising team-building events should have, it’s “mandatory fun isn’t fun for most people”. Low-stakes, drop-in-drop-out activities are *always* going to beat out anything like this for a company that actually cares about being an inclusive environment, and relying on employees to tell you that you’ve overlooked their hidden disabilities/preferences is a terrible way to run a team. “Inclusive for the group you have” is unavoidably premised on a set of assumptions about your team, and sets the bar for the kind of people who are going to be willing to come and work for you in a way that selects for a monoculture. Don’t do it.

        1. Poppy the Flower*

          Yep. You can’t rely on “the team you have” because it’s not accounting for people with invisible disabilities. I could not do about 75% of the activities on Gumby’s list and most people could not tell that by observing me at work. I would and have made a bit of a stink to be able to opt out of this type of stuff* but sometimes people feel pressured into participating or are afraid that disclosing even the hint of a disability will result in discrimination from their team.

          *I was once offered the option to watch a high ropes course, all day, instead of participating so I wouldn’t feel “left out”. I said no thanks and went to the after party. Lol

          I really like the “in light of our disability training, we should be more inclusive” script above if OP doesn’t want to call attention to themselves.

          If anything just don’t make it a big deal to opt out. My last workplace had a lot of “mandatory fun”, much of which was not physical so it wasn’t a huge deal to opt out of the few things that were.

          1. Gumby*

            To be absolutely clear, all of these were optional. Most took place on the annual retreat, which was optional. All were arranged by the HR department who *asked* about preferences and abilities before assigning people to a group. It was a company of 40 – 100 people (at various times) so it is not like someone was quietly suffering unnoticed. It was also one of the most open and communicative places I have worked. Not in an oversharing way, but I felt no problem speaking directly with the CEO or the head of HR or whatever at any point.

            I know that these activities don’t work for many people. But the did work for the people we had at that time in that particular company. It seems like people are having trouble taking my word for it, but please at least try. Just because they won’t work for you or for, admittedly, many people and many companies, does not mean that they didn’t work for that company at that time. Using absolutes like you should *never* do these types of activities is ignoring that there are occasions, possibly rare – but they exist, where such activities are appropriate and are enjoyed.

            My main point was to choose activities that work for the group you have. When the group changes (like, say, there are 6 women who are all pregnant at the time of the retreat) then you make plans that accommodate the group you have at that time.

    22. Curmudgeon in California*

      The ropes/balance/crawling thing would have me going straight to HR. I’m disabled, and that is very much not accessible to me.

      Anything that relies on physical ability to participate is problematic, IMO.

  6. MOAS*

    I love my job. My coworker got a stuffed corgi for his birthday and we’re all taking turns kidnapping it. It joins the Pusheen collection.

      1. MOAS*

        He has the large plush on his desk, I have a mini one and the guy on the other side of me has a little one at his desk.

        We love our stuffed cats lol

    1. Librarian of SHIELD*

      The true question is, are you all leaving ransom notes every time you kidnap the plushie?

      1. Doug Judy*

        Or is it just some common bitch*?

        *referring to a a female dog, in case people don’t know the reference.

    2. EJane*

      this
      is
      amazing

      I have an aflac duck on my desk that my service dog LOSES HIS GODDAMN MIND over. It sits in a little metal pencil holder and gets passed around randomly, after someone said it looked like it was in a hot tub.

      Occasionally, someone on the far end of the office will accidentally(…?) set it off. My service dog has a very floppy face, and he’ll bolt upright out of a dead sleep with his face all mushed into a weird position.
      It’s the highlight of the week.

    3. Melissa*

      I have a stuffed hedgehog at my desk, and it’s famous. Whenever the puppet show people upstairs do Alice in Wonderland, Norman gets to go up and be in the show.

  7. OddGirlOut*

    AAM Community, I am looking for advice about how to follow up with people once they’ve agreed to help me with resume revisions and cover letter ideas.

    In the past month, I have visited the local Public Relations Society of America chapter and emailed several board members asking for their advice and feedback on my resume. I am a career changer and have about a year of PR agency experience but am not receiving any invitations to interview from my PR agency applications. Therefore, I wanted some specific feedback from people in the field.

    I have met with one of the three people I contacted, and he provided some great suggestions. The remaining two have committed via email to help but have not responded to my subsequent emails. Is there a kind way to reach out again without appearing tone deaf or pushy?

    Is there anything else you would suggest I do when contacting the PRSA leadership for advice?

    Thanks!

    1. NowWhat465*

      Honestly, I personally wouldn’t email the PRSA leaders at all. I think emailing people and getting feedback is from those is generous enough. If they don’t personally know you, and have already responded once, I think that’s a kindness in itself.

      Also in my experience, board members are terrible people to ask for feedback. Some will be great and meet with you and give you suggestions, but board members are typically people well established within their fields and have taken on the volunteer leadership position.

      Maybe ask if they have a membership chair, or a committee that helps with what you’re specifically asking for?

      My personal approach would be to find someone who’s career trajectory you admire (or find similar to your own of working in a previous industry) and ask them to coffee or lunch. It may not even be a resume/cover letter issue and you may need more experience and certifications for the roles you’re applying for.

      1. OddGirlOut*

        NowWhat465, I am emailing the local PRSA chapter leadership because they direct the area’s PR professional association of which I was once a member (employer paid for it). My goal in contacting people working directly in PR is to see if they have any suggestions on highlighting terms such as earned media, pitches, account management, product roll outs, etc.

        Several of the PRSA board members have career trajectories I admire, thus asking them to either meet or exchange information via email (per their respective preference and availability). I am not contacting random strangers via LinkedIn or a company’s website. I am seeking out professional advice from people who lead a professional association in my area.

        From where I stand, these people are likely to know what the top resume trends are for the region and be able to point me in the right direction. General resume advice just isn’t cutting it for me at this time. I need industry-specific information that’s going to help my resume stand out and attract attention from hiring managers.

    2. Holly*

      I am not in your industry, so I could be completely off base here, but it actually sounds inappropriate and out of touch for someone to reach out to board members of a professional chapter for resume advice at all! They are very generous for responding at all, and I would move on. Instead I would look up whether the society offers any specific career advising, and if not, follow suggestions Allison gives on this blog, as cover letter and resume advice are (usually) not field-specific.. Another suggestion is to call your alumni associations who could maybe connect you.

      1. OddGirlOut*

        Holly, why is off-base to contact people who lead a professional association and ask for career advice? They can refer me to upcoming programs or events, or they can ignore me.

        The other issue you address is something I’ve struggled with for months–general resume advice such as what Alison suggests is not helping my resume stand out from the pack. This is why I am seeking advice and constructive feedback from those in the know for this occupation and location.

        I am new to PR agency applications, so I honestly don’t know what keywords, phrasing and layout is going to appeal to hiring managers. Should I use a graphic resume? Should I include a link to an elaborate online portfolio? How much name dropping of clients is expected and/or permitted on a resume?

        1. Holly*

          I’m a lawyer in a major city, so there could be different cultural norms at play here, but in my local professional organization, there is someone to contact about career advice, but *not* from leadership on the board!! They are all head honchos like partners at huge law firms or vice presidents of financial institutions who do not have the time of day to deal with that kind of thing. Like if someone told me they were reaching out to the board of the Major City Bar Association, I would very much question their judgment!! If you’re in a smaller city with a more local professional organization, this could be very different.

          1. Buttons*

            I think it depends on the profession. I am on the board for the local chapter of my professional organization, and members are encouraged to contact us. I have offered up general feedback on resumes. We also have a mentoring program where people can sign up and we will help match them with a mentor.

        2. PR*

          Having your resume standout in PR isn’t about keywords, phrasing, layout or graphic resumes. You need specific achievements where you describe the successful outcomes of your work, which is the same advice AAM gives for other fields. If you have clear, specific, high quality achievements on your resume that are organized in a clear and straight forward way you will stand out.

        3. EventPlannerGal*

          I think it’s off-base to contact board members about the type of career advice it sounds like you’re asking for. More general advice about your career change into PR, maybe, but things like the layout of your resume and attractive keywords are very minor issues. I think you risk sounding as though you want people in senior leadership positions to act as your proofreaders.

          You say you do have a year of PR experience – are there any contacts you’ve made during that time in more middle-management level positions who you could reach out to? Does this society offer a career advice service or could they direct you to one that has experience with PR?

    3. Anona*

      I think you have top stop reaching out. You’ve emailed what sounds like more than once. If they wanted to, they’d have responded by now. Two emails (one initial, and one follow up) would be OK, but anything more than that is overly pushy.

      1. OddGirlOut*

        Anona, I reached out referencing the person with whom I met, the email recipient responded agreeing to help me, and now I am awaiting the information they agreed to provide. So, my question is more about how to respond about the agreement to help. If there’s a preferred soft wording to once again ask that said person get back to me as agreed.

        1. zora*

          I guess you can try writing back ONE more time. Just because someone agreed to help, doesn’t mean they definitely will. They might have intended to, or just were trying to be nice, but they are super busy leaders in their company and they might just not have the time. And repeatedly asking them to ‘do what they agreed’ is kind of pushy and tone deaf about the fact that they are busy people and this is a favor for you that they don’t get anything out of.

          I would say one month after the previous email, you can send one more email saying “Just circling back to see if you have time to send me that ____ that you mentioned last month. I understand you are probably very busy, so if you don’t have time, no worries! I appreciate your time and advice, thank you so much and take care.”
          And leave it at that. I know it’s frustrating, but you just can’t make everyone help you just because you want help, some people aren’t going to actually follow through and by being pushy about it you could actually hurt your chances for a career in this field because it makes you seem really tone deaf and inconsiderate.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          I think what Anona is getting at here is, if the people you emailed wanted to respond after you emailed them telling them about the other member who already responded, they would have done so by now. The ones who haven’t responded are probably busy with their own stuff. I’d take the advice above to look up whether the society offers specific seminars or workshops on career advising and incorporate changes to your resume and cover letter based on the feedback you already received.

        3. Anona*

          Got it. Sorry for not reading closely! If they responded that they’re available to help, but didn’t respond when you tried to pin them down, I think you can follow up 1 more time. More than that is still overkill. They may have just gotten busy, unfortunately.
          I’d try to attend events with the organization, or other similar organizations, if you can. You may be able to make more in-person connections and get help. I’d also see if there’s a national professional organization. There may be career resources on their website, or information about events. At our national conference (which is unfortunately expensive), they typically offer a resume workshop/networking sessions.
          Good luck! Career changing can be challenging, but I found it worth it (switching from teaching little kids to higher education administration). I hope you find your place/people to help.

    4. Marissa*

      I’d let the other two go, but also send a thank you card to the one who did meet with you. Then find some networking events and conferences to get to know more people more organically. I’m not in your field, but if I only sought out Bar Association leadership for help I’d only be getting people who are very busy and who represent a tiny fraction of the people in the industry who could be helping me make connections.

      1. OddGirlOut*

        Marissa, thanks for your advice. I immediately thanked the man who met with me.

        As for seminars, there are none on resumes or professional development offered by the local PRSA chapter until 2020. I am happy to register for them, but they will not do me any good for the time being.

    5. zora*

      I am currently working in the PR field, although not a PR professional myself. And yeah, I agree that reaching out to the board members when you haven’t met them in person is … a lot. They are already busy with the responsibilities of being a board member, and that is probably the limit of the free time they have to give for now.

      Instead, I would suggest you attend some PRSA events and do some face to face networking and ask around to see if they have a specific committee for helping job searchers, or find some individuals who would be willing to help you with your resume. Also asking lots of questions just in the moment about what you can do to be a stronger candidate, without requiring the extra time commitment of sending emails back and forth.

      You want to focus on some mid-level types, who supervise and help hire. But going straight to leadership and board members is on the pushy side and might actually turn some people off, in addition to the fact that they just have less time to help at that level.

      1. OddGirlOut*

        Zora, thanks for your suggestions.

        I went for the board members because their names, employers and email addresses are listed on the PRSA website. Both members and non-members are invited to contact them for questions about the chapter and general PR stuff.

        1. Buttons*

          Yeah, that is a bit much. I am on the board for my local chapter of my professional organization, and people contact me with general information. Some people have asked me for resume advice, but only after I had met them in person. When I answered above I didn’t realize you had not met these people in person at an event.

    6. PR Girl*

      Hi! PRSA Leadership here!

      I have a few thoughts. First, I wouldn’t take the lack of communication from people who have already committed to you personally. Things change very quickly in our industry. A lot of times, I commit to something, but then I have a crisis that comes up that can derail my plans for the next month. It can be a struggle for work-life balance, so sometimes things just aren’t priorities. I wouldn’t keep following up with these people. As for specific advice on how to approach this situation in the future, it’s hard to say since I don’t know what you’re saying. But I doubt that’s why people haven’t responded to you.

      I agree though that these things are more successful though when you have an established relationship with someone. To that end though, if you’re a PRSA member (which I highly encourage if you’re not already), there are a lot of resources to help you. First, the chapter should have someone designated to work with young professionals or new professionals who are crossing over. If so, that’s the person you should talk to. It’s possible the chapter has a mentoring program, or workshops for resumes, or even an informational interview network where seasoned professionals have indicated they’re open to meeting with people like you for this purpose. The Board members aren’t the only people who can help you.

      In the meantime, I’d be happy to take a look at your stuff and share some thoughts if you think it would be helpful. I’m curious as to what the feedback was that you received.

    7. Forrest Gumption*

      Have you actually joined PRSA? Once you join, you will be better positioned to connect with members and get their advice, especially once you have gotten to know them a bit through attending events and/or volunteering on committees. Also, they will be able to tell you about opportunities in the area and can connect you to hiring managers. Almost all the PRSA members in my area have gotten jobs through their connections with each other.

    8. LilySparrow*

      This isn’t really an industry-specific thing, it’s a general etiquette thing.

      Asking someone to look over your resume and give you career advice is a personal favor. It’s on an equivalent level to asking someone to sponsor you in a charity walk, or something of that nature.

      Cold-emailing a complete stranger to ask for that level of help comes off as much too intense for a first contact. It’s overstepping.

      The website offer to ask general PR questions means just that – *general* questions, so it would be appropriate to ask something like, “Could you recommend any resources where I could learn more about career development in the PR industry?” or “any industry-specific job boards or networking groups that meet more frequently than the PRSA chapter as a whole?”

      Stuff like that. Things they could answer off the top of their heads in one reply.

      Of course, they might respond by offering to look at your resume. But you need to let them take the lead on that.

      I think it’s likely that they only agreed out of a sense of politeness, not because they were really willing to do it. And their silence now is a big hint that you should drop it.

  8. Insert Witty Name Here*

    I was at my desk working. My coworker, “Minerva”, (I’ve talked about her before) was helping my co-worker Fergus with something. Minerva said that it would take some time. Fergus jokingly said, “That’s okay. I’ll just stand here and talk to Witty.” (Note: He says the same thing to my male coworkers. It’s no big deal. He jokes and I just roll my eyes.) Minerva then goes, “Well, she’s prettier than me, so I get it.”

    I was shocked. I didn’t say anything and went to go to a meeting. I just feel weird. Besides the fact that I don’t consider myself remotely “pretty”- cute, maybe, but definitely not pretty. Personally, I’d rather be “smart” or “funny” because looks fade. I digress…

    Any thoughts? I just ignored it, is that the right thing to do?

    1. JokeyJules*

      I’d ignore it. That kind of just seems like an insecurity Minerva is projecting on you. Just maintain your professional demeanor and don’t internalize it.

    2. ThatMarketingChick*

      I’d say the time to address it directly has passed. But, if it happens again, I’d give Minerva a confused look and say something like “I’m not sure why my looks have anything to do with this.” And then go back to doing whatever you were before the comment. Without knowing Minerva, it’s hard to tell if it was snarky, self-deprecating, or just her odd sense of humor.

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      Perhaps Minerva had an awkward moment – I might let it go once, but at any sign she was going to continue to do this, I’d address it directly with her. “Minerva, it undermines me at work when you talk about my appearance. Please stop doing that.”

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      It can be hard to call out *ist crap in the moment, especially if you are surprised, so ‘ignore it’ is a totally understandable response. That one is also not so obvious that you could / should go back after and address it.

      If it happens again or is mentioned again, you can have a script prepared, like ‘I hope we’re judged on brains here, not beauty’, pushing back gently / as a joke. I’m not good with jokes, so there’s probably better scripts out there. One time, not a big deal, but as a young woman, you *really* do not want to become known as ‘the pretty one.’

    5. Holly*

      Yes, it’s just something trivially inappropriate/an awkward moment and I’d just move on. I think you’re overthinking it because it triggered something you happen to be insecure about or not entirely comfortable with. Feel free to use that as information – and at the risk of overstepping, maybe it’s something you may want to bring up with a therapist if you want to explore your reaction to that situation a bit more – but it’s not worth bringing up again in the workplace.

    6. WellRed*

      I feel like you keep posting variations of this. Why are you letting Minerva take up so much room in your head?

      1. Insert Witty Name Here*

        I get that not everyone will like me, but she goes out of her way to help others and shows preferential treatment towards them. She also acts engaging in front of the boss, but differently when we’re alone. It is also yet another place where this is happening- is it a coincidence? Is it me? I just don’t know how to handle it. I’m sick of putting myself down about it.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Well then stop listening to her outside of anything having to do directly with work. You already feel she doesn’t like you, so just let what she says go. Other people’s opinions of you aren’t your business.

      1. valentine*

        No. It’s Minerva sexualizing Insert Witty Name Here. It reminds me of the manager who was jealous of her employee and the commenter who’s having to sue over this kind of sexual harassment. Minerva is treating you differently based on your gender and appearance. Discuss it with your manager. And there’s no need to put yourself down. You can both report/resist Minerva’s actions and detach from thinking yourself deserving of them.

      2. gsa*

        I agree. Assume it was a compliment and move on down the road.

        If she does it again, tell her to stop!

        People make so many assumptions based on so many things…

        I’m tall 6’4”, if I remember. Growing up, everybody said: “You should play basketball.“

        Me: “Nope, I play fútbol.”

    7. Buttons*

      Are you the person who posted last week about your coworker getting jealous when the guy talks to you?

    8. Clever Name*

      I agree that the moment to address it has passed. It was a weird thing to say, and it would have been appropriate to say, “That’s a weird thing to say” and then move on. If you bring it up later you will sound oddly fixated on it….and from your post here it sounds like you are in fact oddly fixated on it. It’s okay to have a normal reaction to weird things in the moment (“huh” or “I’m not sure what you mean” or “why would you say that?” etc).

    9. CheeryO*

      Girl, these posts are all variations on the same theme. Minerva sucks, full stop. She is insecure and uses attention from younger guys at work to prop herself up. You’re young and cute, so you’re a threat. Her opinions mean less than nothing, especially since she doesn’t have any authority over you. You are doing nothing wrong, and you don’t need to do anything other than internally roll your eyes at her.

    10. Rachael*

      Without knowing the issues you have with Minerva, I can say that I’ve heard that as a phrase before….but usually from men. (a man jokes that another man wants to talk to a woman because she is “prettier” than him. Sounds gross, but it’s always been funny). Maybe she was trying to joke and it just came off wrong because she is also a female? Not sure, but I wanted to put it out there that it is a phrase that people say….granted it is less suitable for work if those you are saying it to don’t get it.

    11. Lehigh*

      So, not knowing any of the history that others are referencing, I would say that this has nothing to do with whether you are pretty or not. It’s a fairly standard joke that implies that we prefer to talk to people in order to be flirtatious. It’s not a great joke to make at work–maybe it’s not a great joke at all–but like Rachael said, it’s sort of boilerplate. I wouldn’t give it much thought. In theory, the concept that your coworker flirts at work is possibly something that deserves pushback. In practice, I can’t think of anything that’s not more awkward than the original comment (because it would be off-script for the standard interchange.)

      1. Roverandom*

        Yeah honestly in a vacuum, this situation warrants a “(awkward laugh) What a weird thing to say.” and then ignore it. Why are you sitting here trying to evaluate how “pretty” fits with your self-perception? If Minerva treats you weirdly, this is a bad example. If you’re uncomfortable around her and can’t figure out why, you’ll need more ammo because I can’t figure out what’s wrong.

  9. No Tribble At All*

    Our HR guy posted a notice in our break room –apparently we’re hiring a “non-immigrant” H1-B Visa engineer? And they’re required by law to post this to inform us? The notice includes their title, salary range, office address, and home address! Why is this a thing? Also, aren’t H1-B visas for skilled immigrants? How can we have a non-immigrant on that kind of visa, and why do they need to announce it in the town square?

    1. Panda*

      This is weird. We have tons of immigrants in our company and I’ve never seen anything like this posed.

      1. valentine*

        What about their SSN, CVV, and the year they registered their Gmail?

        Is there small print where they eschew any liability for subsequent harassment, especially at the employee’s home?

    2. CTT*

      Non-immigrant = temporary worker. I don’t know about the posting requirements, but that sounds a bit like overkill.

    3. yeine*

      I don’t know about what “non-immigrant” means, but I do know they are legally obligated to post information about the person they’re hiring, including salary rage, so everyone knows the new person isn’t being substantially underpaid in comparison to the current employees. (This just recently occured in my office.)

    4. ANon.*

      Yup, posting an LCA (Labor Condition Application) is indeed required. In fact, it should have been posted in two, visible locations.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        So, is that essentially the local person that they didn’t think was available, hence the seeking of someone under H1-B?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Not always. I once worked with someone whose visa had to be renewed and they had to post the same thing. It included all kinds of information except her name, but I figured out who it was because we didn’t have a lot of non-Americans in the department. She was paid a lot less than I thought she was!

          It was posted in a visible yet kind of discreet place, near the coffee maker in a corner, or something. I only read it because I read everything.

          1. MsChanandlerBong*

            I think that’s what happened with a coworker of mine. She is here from China on a visa, and we had to post her job. However, no one mentioned it to me, so I didn’t know about it until I saw her job posted online. I was shocked that she was leaving. Then she explained, no, we just had to post her job so we’d be in compliance with her via requirements or something.

        2. Anona*

          It’s required any time you sponsor someone for H-1B status. You have to do it even if they’re the candidate that you want. It doesn’t matter if a local person is available or not.

    5. Wearing Many Hats*

      It’s legally required it and still weird. I always posted these by the printers that few people in my cloud-based tech company used.

    6. Cookie Monster*

      Non-Immigrant Visa is what all of the temporary work visas, including H-1Bs, are called. Really only green card processes are considered immigrant visas. The posting is called a Labor Condition Application, and the gist of why it’s required to be posted is so all the other employees know how much this individual is being paid and such, so it’s transparent about it being commensurate with others’ salaries. Companies that hire and sponsor employees for H-1Bs have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to justify hiring a foreign national over an American citizen, including this posting, which is called the Labor Condition Application. It has to be posted for a certain amount of time and that posting documented and certified and included with their application.

      1. Lucy Preston*

        Just to add another level to this…how often is it found that the salaries required to be paid are in line with what a typical American worker is actually making for that same position?
        I realize that whole point of the required salary is to make sure people aren’t trying to bring in foreign labor and then underpay them. On the other hand, at least at current company, the mandated wages are often much higher than what an average worker is being paid.

        1. Tegan*

          This was the case at my last company before current job as well – they posted H-1B notices for a couple of positions that were a small step up from mine (think Teapot Analyst I vs. Teapot Analyst II), but with salaries ~40% more than mine. I knew I was being underpaid there due to the way they treat internal promotions vs. external hires in general, but that was one of the deciding factors in me starting my job search at the time.

    7. ArtK*

      That is very strange. I work in software and have had many H1-B colleagues. I’ve never seen a notice like that.

      1. Dana B.S.*

        It must not be posted in a highly visual place as it should be. Your company’s immigration attorney would make it clear how it should be handled.

    8. Dana B.S.*

      Non-immigrant refers to someone who is coming to the US temporarily – this includes those on student visas and the H1-B (it has a 3-year limit). So the legal term “immigrant” is more precise than the term that we use casually.

    9. CAA*

      An H1-B is always a “non-immigrant” visa. This means that the person who obtains one can’t use it to settle permanently in the U.S. They are only entitled to stay here as long as they are employed. If they are laid off or quit their jobs, or if the visa validity period ends, then they are required to leave the country.

      And yes, your company is legally required to post this information. Most companies post it next to the OSHA posters, so lots of people just never notice it.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s so that people know that they’re only temporary. To make it harder to stay past the visa period.

      That’s why they’re deemed non-immigrant because they’re not staying here, they leave after the job wraps up. It’s so icky in this atmosphere we live in now, I understand why it’s upsetting to you.

    11. Anona*

      It’s a requirement from Department of Labor. It has to be posted at least 10 days. The ones I post only list salary and title, and office address. We don’t do home address.

      1. Mr. Tyzik*

        When I used to work in the office, the bulletin board was in the coffee closet. Some of those postings were months old.

    12. KarenK*

      It’s definitely a thing in medical education. We had a fellow on an H1-B visa, and we had to post a similar notice. Not sure why.

    13. Aitch Arr*

      This is a normal posting for the LCA (Labor Condition Application).

      It certainly can be awkward when it’s easy to figure out who the employee is.

    14. Lucy Preston*

      H-1Bs are for skilled non-immigrants. They’re good for 3 years with the option to renew once (possibly more if a greencard is applied for).
      Both H-1B and Green Card applications require the company to post the job notice with full details in a conspicuous place in the office.

    15. silverpie*

      This happened early in my career. If you have an H1B on staff, they have to jump through that hoop to renew his (ours was a he) visa.

  10. Green Goose*

    I’m planning to change jobs/industries soon (which is exciting but a little scary) I’ve been at my current company for five years and before that I was in graduate school. For listing managers I don’t really know what to do, I can’t list my current manager but my previous manager left the company abruptly for mental health reasons, and the manager before that was fired and I would not use as a reference. I have a few peers who I can list as recommendations but no managers, will this be a problem?

    1. CallofDewey*

      Do you have any professors you could list? Former employers from summer jobs or that sort of thing? I wouldn’t expect you to list anyone from your current company, so don’t stress it.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Don’t list your references on your resume. You don’t even need to mention that “references are available” – it’s understood that you’ll have them.

      For applications that ask for your supervisor’s name, I would leave that area blank.

  11. Anonymous Educator*

    For years, I’d heard company X was the industry standard, but my previous workplaces couldn’t afford it.

    I’m now at a job that uses company X’s product, and it’s a horrible product… and yet is still considered THE industry standard.

    Has anyone else had an “emperor’s new clothes” moment with a reputable and widely used vendor?

    1. secret chart*

      Not specifically a vendor, but we worked with a partner that has an amazing reputation, and it was the worst partnership we ever had. I would 100% never work with them again. But they have ~~prestige~~ and ~~name-recognition~~. Yeah, well, it was a waste of time and money.

      1. CAA*

        Similarly, I worked for a company that had a customer that’s a well loved household name. Everyone who worked with this customer complained about their sense of entitlement. The attitude was “you should give us all your products and services for free because we are X and everyone loves us and wants to say we use their products”. It’s true that having a prestigious reference client is valuable for bringing in new clients who want to be like X, but when X is sucking up so much of your resources that you can’t serve the paying clients it gets to be too much.

      2. CheeryO*

        This has to be so common. I have experience working with all of the fancy consulting companies that I thought were too good for me when I was graduating college, and it turns out that most of them aren’t great.

    2. juliebulie*

      OMG, yes. “Ugh, this is the best? Really?” Like, isn’t there enough competition to force them to up their game? Apparently not… because if you are the Industry Standard, you can afford to cruise for a while.

      I always hope that when the competitors start to catch up, it will already be too late for Industry Standard to save itself, but it doesn’t work that way if Industry Standard was an expensive investment, especially if there was a lot of effort involved in getting it deployed.

      My personal strategy is to shoot for the “2nd best” product with the assumption that they won’t be as arrogant about disregarding user feedback.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I used Tableau for years and then took a job with a company using Qlikview. It’s supposed to be better with data and I figured my skills would transfer. Now that I’m at a point of using Qlik I can’t believe how limited it is. I’m questioning why anyone would use it, and I’ve honestly considered looking for a new job. What I used to do in minutes, it takes DAYS to do now. Freaking days! And the results are still ugly and not intuitive to understand for the end user. Why did anyone choose this software!?!?!

      1. Cora*

        My company uses both Tableau and Qlikview. Qlikview is complete trash – slow, not user friendly…I avoid it as much as possible.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Lol yep. Though I’m curious — how much is ADP considered the industry standard versus it just being the default?

        1. Dana B.S.*

          When I was shopping for my HRIS, every other salesperson that I spoke to would ask, “Besides ADP, who are you looking at?” And my boss compared it to IBM.

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          And they bundle their software with 401k programs that have ridiculous fees! I asked my director why we had such high fees and if we could change investment companies and his response was no because we were essentially “locked in” through the bundle promotion. Do they aspire to have the same customer satisfaction as cable/internet/phone providers???

    4. Alternative Person*

      Yes. With the Industry Standard Diploma I needed. For the Written Test part, I wanted to write in and ask them to take their own advice regarding the assessment analysis section. The rest came off in places as reinforcing the current zeitgeist vis a vis what the Ivory Tower People consider the prevailing dogma (which is prone to cycling every 5-10 years). What they put forth is very functional if you have all the resources and time to dedicate to it but doesn’t really survive contact with the realities of what goes on/what is expected in most workplaces (even the good ones).

      And wow, that sucks when the Industry perpetuates its own misery.

    5. Rachel in NYC*

      My office uses a software product that is one- if not the most common- in our field. Its horrible. Its slow. It doesn’t do half the things it’s supposed to do. We’ve talked about changed products. We seriously looked into it. The cost- not just in money but in time and energy without a guarantee that the new product would actually work the way we need it to…

      Ugh…

    6. K.H. Wolf*

      It’s not really a vendor, but using QuickBooks for the first time was a shock. It’s marketed very well, and the GUI is amazing for making non-accountants feel confident in what they are doing. However, it’s structurally very poor as an accounting software. It’s missing a lot of functionality that would be common sense to include if it had actually been designed by/for accountants (like being able to automatically apportion incoming freight costs among inventory items, for an obvious one), and it’s very inflexible for uncommon or unusual situations, which almost invariably require using a journal entry, even when the type of transaction is related to an existing function. It also has trouble dealing with fairly common things, like processing retail sales in day batches. It can be done, but QB fights all the way. I still can’t use the Return feature in a meaningful way because the person who set our batch processing up made one tiny mistake in account type, accounts can never have their types changed, and QuickBooks won’t let you override and use the ‘wrong’ type of account in the Return form. I’ve heard it started as a super-basic single-entry system, and expanded from there, which explains why it’s underlying structure is so bad, at least.

      That being said, I’m in my first job out of college. I know QuickBooks is objectively kind of bad, but I don’t know how it compares to the other accounting software available. I asked a few of my co-workers, and they’ve either used QuickBooks their whole careers, or, in the case of one, had a custom-built system that was excellent. But it’s not fair to compare an off-the-shelf program to a custom-built system.

      1. halfwolf*

        i’m not an accountant, but i use QB for a limited function (monthly credit card statements) and you are COMPLETELY right. there is no reason why this process should take me three hours, and yet it has to think for 15-30 seconds every time i record a transaction.

      2. CameTheDawn*

        As someone who has worked with many different forms of accounting software over the decades, QB is pretty damn bad. Yes, it’s very easy to use in the sense that someone with no accounting background can use. And, yes, anyone with an accounting background will prefer to bury it at a crossroads at midnight with a stake through its script error than actually use it.

        1. JeanB in NC*

          I have told a number of people with small businesses to use Quicken, not Quickbooks. I hate it so much. One of the problems is if your client has made some kind of mistake, it can be near impossible to fix it b/c the software won’t let you do what you need to do.

      3. emmelemm*

        Honestly, I work on (as in software developer) a niche software application that is sort of like that: it started (20 years ago) as something really basic, that it did really well. Now it tries to do a whole lot of things, some of them decently well, others not very well at all in my opinion. And a lot of it goes back to underlying structure: it’s like a Jenga tower hovering on a single block at the base.

      4. JeanB in NC*

        Yeah, I hate QB so much. I was having trouble seeing why certain entries didn’t show up in the customer’s account, and found that if the A/R account isn’t the top line of the entry, it doesn’t show up in the customer’s account! Why would you make such a weird thing that is not anywhere near intuitive? This is just one of many problems I have, but my school has changed accounting software 3 times in the past 5 years, and I’m not making another change for several years at least.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Someone, in the mists of time past, thought, “Debits first, so debit A/R and credit Sales means A/R will always be first.” So they programmed the d-mn-d thing to ONLY look for A/R first.
          Once upon a time, I created standard journal entries for my accounting clerks to drop numbers into without having to start from scratch every time. I did NOT make those the only entries the system would accept, because I am not an idiot.
          Some of my accounting colleagues report good results with setting up QuickBooks for clients and locking it down, so any admin functions have to go through them.

      5. Hamburke*

        I don’t even have to use it (my middle, high and college kids use it for school) and they hate it! They switched from Google classroom 2 years ago and Canvas so much less functional…

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Um, are you referring to Microsoft? Because there have been plenty of products that Microsoft beat out and those “losers” were actually better. Outlook has some glaring weaknesses of things that others can do, and Outlook STILL can’t do.

    8. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Ughhhhhhhhh yes. I’m an academic librarian and there are so many databases and tools that are just… bad. Bad content, bad user design, bad customer service. But they are always THE ONE to have for a particular department, and if we cut it we’d lose all trust from that department.

    9. Degen From Upcountry*

      I experienced this when I switched companies with some niche software. New Company uses what I always heard was THE BEST software, but in actuality although it does one specific thing very well, it does a lot of other things not great and is hard for supervisors to understand.

    10. ArtK*

      The better product seldom wins. Anybody remember Betamax vs VHS?

      I work in software and have worked on a number of runner-up products. It’s very, very frustrating to see someone else get ahead because they have superior marketing. I just left a company that had bought my product in order to get the customers. Their plan was to migrate our customers to their own product, but that’s gone extremely slowly because their product has lousy performance and barely half the functionality. But they managed to get capital funding where we failed.

    11. Sled dog mama*

      Yeah, I’ve encountered this in my industry. There are two companies (X and Y) that make the machines I use and 3 (X, Y and Z) that make the associated software packages to fully utilize these machines. People have varying feelings about which of the two machines to use and I think it really depends on what you are looking for (frankly I come down on the side of use X because they have a much larger network of service people and better customer service)
      For many years Z was considered to make the best software part A and Y made the best software part B, X’s offerings were clunky and not easy to use. Many places had a machine from X, part A software from Z and part B software from Y.
      X put serious effort into improving the usability of their software (both parts) and now some places are going to a single vendor environment because Y and Z have fallen behind but many places still have “the why would I change vendors because this is the best” attitude. The best 20 years ago is not necessarily the best now. It’s much like the “we’ve always done it this way” attitude.

    12. online teacher*

      I definitely feel this way about Canvas as an LMS. They really pushed how easy they were to use and how much functionality they had in terms of things like apps, but they lack a ton of really basic things that Moodle could do in terms of question architecture for quizzes (like take numerical input questions that don’t disclose how many significant figures you expect for the answer because that’s part of what you’re testing) or feature options to customize your courses to run the way you actually want them to. They’re certainly newbie friendly in the sense that most teachers can get their classes to do really basic things like have assignments in them, but when you try to customize anything so it runs the way you want to run your class it’s a nightmare.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yes, Canvas! That wasn’t the one I was thinking of in my original post, but I fully agree with you on that.

    13. Curmudgeon in California*

      Frequently. Very often the “industry standard” is the product with the best marketing team and the most features that appeal to management. It probably has pretty reports and slick advertising, and the decision makers never actually have to *use* the thing, just generate reports and sign checks.

  12. Anon...*

    I’m an ok writer. I wouldn’t call myself fantastic, but I’m likely one of the best in my small department. 
    This is relevant because I work in a role where email communication is very important. I would often bring draft emails to my boss, Abby, so she could review and make edits before I sent them.This was generally all fine. Abby sometimes wanted things worded in a very specific way, and though she may not write as well as me, I’ve always been able to incorporate her revisions just fine so we were both happy with the final result.
    But Abby got a job elsewhere and my new boss will be my senior coworker, Ilana. Ilana is great, but she’s a terrible writer, whose email communications always include lots of run on sentences, misplaced commas, typos – the works.
    I’m not sure how to handle this going forward. It’s already happened where I showed Ilana a draft that I wanted her thoughts on and she told me to add in a sentence at the end. The sentence was redundant and rambling. On the one hand, Ilana is my boss and if that’s how she wants me to send out emails, that’s her call. On the other hand, I don’t want this poor writing to be reflective of my writing skills to the email recipients! Lots of these emails go to important people in my organization, and I don’t want them to think I can’t write well!
    I think Ilana is a great replacement for Abby overall but part of me is dreading working with her because of this; it’s a large part of my day-to-day! Any ideas of what I can do? I’m not sure I have the type of relationship with Abby where I can tell her directly that I think some of her edits lessen the quality of writing.

    1. ThatMarketingChick*

      Without understanding if showing Abby/Ilana e-mails prior to sending is a requirement of your job, I’d suggest changing your approach. Instead of giving her the e-mail to read, ask her if there are any important points or information it needs to include. If you need her input on those few sentences, send them to her. That way, you’re getting sign-off on “her” contributions but limiting her poor grammatical influences.

      1. juliebulie*

        This is what I was going to say. Hopefully she just wanted you to make a particular point – one that she wasn’t able to express very eloquently – and would be pleased to see you add that info to the email in some form or other.

        And definitely don’t ask her to review your emails if she doesn’t want to. A lot of managers would just as soon not have to do that.

      1. Anon...*

        It’s not every email – or even close to that!

        Abby was very particular about the wording we used when we sent emails to certain people or about certain things (for good reason – it’s not like we’re spouting legal advice, but our messages do matter in a similar way where we often need to be careful with what we’re saying). I got in the habit of showing emails to Abby for her approval before sending them off when I knew it was something she’d care about.

        So, I’m now doing the same thing with Ilana. It’s also a way of keeping Ilana in the loop (i.e. “Here’s this situation that came up. See my draft on how I plan on handling it and let me know your thoughts/if I should handle differently.”)

        1. lulu*

          Unless you get something valuable from Ilana proofreading your emails, I would stop doing that. That’s inviting micro-management where there does not need to be. You can clear with her that you’re going to stop doing that if you think that it’s likely to create a problem. Or you can have her clear the key message that you need to include in your emails verbally, but not review the text of your email.

          1. valentine*

            I’m now doing the same thing with Ilana. It’s also a way of keeping Ilana in the loop
            Even if Ilana knows Abby had you doing this (or you volunteered after several post-send critiques and Abby didn’t stop you), Ilana may think Abby didn’t trust you or that you’re insecure. She may also feel obliged to add something because “There’s always room for improvement.” You can update Ilana when she asks or just send her a weekly list of stuff you’ve taken care of. Most people don’t want or need to know the details and handling it on your own is part of your value.

            1. Anon...*

              I’m being intentionally vague about the nature of my job, but having my boss review sensitive emails before they are sent out is a good, worthwhile, and 100% necessary practice. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this one!

              …Which is why it makes this all that much harder! I’d love to be able to tell Ilana, “I’m going to email Matt Bevers to let him know XYZ” and then word the actual email however I see fit, but the reality is it’s important for Ilana to see the email itself. (Also, it’s INFINITELY easier to email Ilana a draft email to Bevers than to call her and verbally tell her what I’m going to email to Bevers.)

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I would stop showing Abby the emails altogether. She doesn’t need to edit them if you’re the one who’s responsible for sending out the info. You can still ask her if there’s anything in particular she wants you to mention in these emails, but otherwise, leave her out of the loop since her poor writing will do more harm than good.

      2. Elemeno P.*

        This- I only ask my boss to go over emails if it’s an especially touchy subject and I’m nervous about my own wording.

    2. Ra94*

      I’ll be reading the advice you get, because I’m in the exact same boat (except my Ilana will stand over my shoulder, dictating word-for-word for hours, and reading to make sure I’m typing the mistake-riddled sentences exactly.)

    3. MD*

      I don’t have to run my communications by my boss, but I am an editor. I completely understand why you wouldn’t want someone else’s words in your mouth. Since rewording/reworking other people’s writing is my job, I tend to first correct and then explain. I also always try to discover the heart of what the person is trying to convey before rewriting or deleting, so I can then say something along the lines of, “I moved your added sentence on llama grooming to the second paragraph for clarity” or “I removed the sentence at the end, since we say something similar further up; but I added emphasis to the original statement, as it is clearly an important message.”

      Most people balk at being told they’re writing is poor (or having everything they added deleted), but most people appreciate seeing that you took their suggestions and made them readable.

    4. Gwen*

      I get a lot of non-grammatical “edits” from my manager – in my situation I’m lucky that she recognizes she’s not a great writer, so I’ll usually take her thoughts, rewrite them into something I feel comfortable with, and then send it back to her with a quick “made some tweaks to your updates, good to go?” Personally, I always take anyone’s edits/feedback as suggestions that I can use to rework the content my way – that said, writing IS my job so it’s accepted in the office that I’ll have to final say on phrasing if not content.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You can also show her that you can compact things without losing the message.

      You could say, “I understood you because I am talking to you in person. But you know how things sound differently in email with no tone of voice or voice inflection? Why don’t we try ABC [shorter, clearer thing] instead of BCA [long rambly thing], does that sound okay to you?”

      And just. keep. doing this. It’s sort of a bring-her-along-with-you-method. You show by one example after another that you have a bit of knack for saying things.
      Keep in mind she probably has new job jitters. If she is a normal boss she will be grateful for your advice. This method does take a few months. But you might hit a day where she says, “I want people to know Z, W, Y and X. Can you sort this so that it makes sense to them?” That is your shot at saying, “Okay, we can do W, X, Y and Z. That will help people follow along.”
      The key point is to make sure you are getting the gist of her message and your version is less ambiguous, shorter, etc. When she sees that you have conveyed exactly what she wants she might just go with what you reworded.

    6. smoke tree*

      If these are your own emails, I think you can probably just ask Ilana if she minds if you tweak the wording of her suggestions to make them sound more like your typical writing style. I doubt she cares much about the exact phrasing, just the substance.

    7. Heat's Kitchen*

      I agree with others. Stop doing this. With one caveat. Before you do this, have a conversation with Ilana that you realized this isn’t a great use of time, but is there any type of communication she does want to review? Otherwise, go into it asking for forgiveness, not approval. Change if something comes up. But stop doing this now.

      1. Anon...*

        Thanks for the advice! While it might not make a whole lot of sense in your line of work, it’s actually a really efficient practice in my particular field/department. Asking to stop the practice would come across as oddly adversarial. Worse yet, it could get me in trouble if I handled something differently than how my boss would have wanted something handled. (Again, this doesn’t make sense without the context of my particular job/department – trust me, it makes sense with the context!!)

        So running under the assumption that the general practice of having my boss review certain emails is a good one that should/will continue, are there ways to sidestep incorporating my boss’s revisions to minimize their effect on my writing quality?

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          I’m sure it’s not practical to do this often, but could you print out a copy of the email and swing by her office with it? If she’s handwriting edits, it’s likely going to be shorthand for you to interpret (style/grammar/spelling wise) and even if she’s not using shorthand, she’s less likely to add random commas. Then, you’re never deleting her words from your draft, just incorporating her edits.

          You have my sympathies, I’ve been in this position and it only went away with personnel turnover. I know printing isn’t a great solution, but it’s an option if doing something about the problem makes you feel better (I’m one of those people).

        2. Triumphant Fox*

          I would follow the above advice of asking for bullet points, issues that she wants brought up or changes to the substance of your email vs. just “edits.” I do this with my boss (not on emails – on other writing) and he knows I will wordsmith his intention to fit with my format. I’d take the substance of her change and incorporate it where you see fit. If you need to loop back, you can always say “Thank you for your input, I incorporated the concept of X from your added section into the third sentence of the second paragraph, which also deals with X.” I would probably suggest to her that you’ll incorporate her changes and ask if she wants to approve the next draft or not. If so, add a sentence about approving this new version. Once you do this a few times, you should get into a rhythm that requires less framing and more “See line 3 for your edits. Approved?”

    8. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      I like the suggestions from MD, Gwen, and Not So NewReader. A variation of those would be to try to draw her out on what the rambly addition adds in her mind. “Oh, that is an important point. We actually say that higher up; was something about the wording not clear?” And then you’re both trying to solve the same “problem,” and she has a chance to say either that she missed it the first time or that she’d prefer to say that at the end, or to reiterate it at the end… and you have a chance to offer a clearer version of the language while
      you’re talking it out in the moment.

    9. Knights who say “nee”*

      If your messages are repetitive, can you have boilerplate for some of the usually touchy parts of the messages?

  13. Strawberry Fields*

    There is a woman “Roxie” handling my coworker’s duties while she is out on sick leave. Roxie started last week when I was out of the office on business. When I returned, my coworker introduced us and I stood up to say “nice to meet you” and shake her hand, but Roxie made some comment about me not being there last week and just kept her head down. She did not shake my hand, she did not say nice to meet you, etc.

    I thought it was odd, but just continued with my work.

    Later on in a meeting, a woman from another department was there. Roxie shakes her hand, smile, and greets her! My boss was standing right there, so maybe that is why?

    I’ve never met her before, so I don’t know why she would act like this. At one point, I looked over and Roxie was glaring at me!

    I’m in a low, entry-level type position, but I still deserve to be treated with respect. I’ve had this happen before in my previous job and it still stings. I’m also the youngest person in my department and look young, but is this reason to act like this? It’s difficult not to take it personally, since she talked with the other people in my department- I’m the only one that is treated this way.

    Is it something that I’m doing? Can someone please put this into perspective?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      A couple of possibilities:
      1) Some people just will not like you, no matter what. That is largely a “them” problem. Be polite and professional and try as much as possible to let it roll off your back.
      2) Roxie is a “kiss-up, kick-down” kind of person and views you as lower on the hierarchy. You can always try to clear the air with her (“You seem to be unhappy with something I’m doing–I hope we didn’t get off on the wrong foot?”), but depending on how long she is in the department covering for your co-worker, it may be easier to let it go.

      1. Kes*

        3) Roxie is actually your SO’s ex, and she resents you
        4) Someone else badmouthed you to her
        Honestly it could be anything or nothing, and you may never know. Since you just met her, it sounds like it’s probably more of a her problem and not a you problem. The good thing is she’s only temporarily a coworker. I agree, you could try to clear the air but it may be easier to go the route of just being polite and professional and let her weird dislike roll off you

        1. Strawberry Fields*

          I thought about the badmouthing, but why would that have an impact on being introduced to me?

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t put any more thought or energy into this. She’ll be gone soon, and her weird behavior is her problem.

    2. Wearing Many Hats*

      If you are the only one she is acting this way towards and she will be covering for a while, let your manager know. Frame it non-confrontationally, more as a question like ‘I’ve noticed Roxie won’t look at me when I’m speaking to her and refusing to shake my hand. Is there anything I can to to improve this relationship?’ Alison has better language in the site I’m sure! Your boss probably hasn’t noticed.

      If she’s only going to be covering for another week, I’d let it go. Some people are negative and not worth your time.

      1. EJane*

        I agree. Alternate script: “I think Roxie and I got off on the wrong foot; I’m having some trouble communicating with her face-to-face. Have you noticed anything I can improve on, or anything that might have contributed to this?”

        I’ve also been in your shoes, in terms of struggling with being and looking young, and the weird stigma that comes with that. I reached a higher admin level much, much faster than normal due to some weird twists of fate, and for a while there I was having issues with a coworker who was a couple years older, with whom I was supposed to work closely.

        I ended up going the “kill them with kindness” route; greeted them each morning, said “have a good evening” as I left, offered to grab them coffee if I was running to Starbucks. Little things. We were never best friends, but we ended up getting along well at work, after a couple of months.

        This is all moot, though, if Roxie isn’t going to be there for very long.

    3. juliebulie*

      I’m sure it’s not anything you’re doing. At least not anything you’re doing on purpose.

      Maybe you beat Roxie at a spelling bee in third grade and she’s still nursing a grudge. Or she doesn’t like your shoes. That’s all on Roxie, not you.

      Could be something you did ten years ago to a friend of a friend of Roxie’s, or something like that, I suppose, but that seems remote. And in that case, it’s still really not about you – it’s about Roxie believing some thirdhand version of a story about you.

      If you want to, you can ask Roxie if you’ve done something to offend her. Her answer probably won’t be satisfactory, but it will at least make her aware that you’ve noticed her behavior (though it sounds like she wasn’t trying to be subtle). It is also possible that others have noticed it, too.

      Come to think of it, does she treat anyone else that way?

      Ultimately, like College Career Counselor says, this is a Roxie problem and not a Strawberry problem.

    4. Annie Moose*

      How long have you been back? If it’s only been a few days, give Roxie some time–maybe she just fumbled the initial interaction with you, maybe she wasn’t actually glaring but was just looking and didn’t realize how her expression looked, etc.

      Of course, maybe she will turn out to just be a jerk who was somehow offended because you weren’t there when she arrived. But I’d give it a couple of weeks, try to be as pleasant to Roxie as I can, to make sure one or both of us wasn’t misjudging the situation.

    5. Kiwiii*

      I do wonder if she got a poor impression of you because you were out of the office and are meant to be on the same team/a close coworker? Maybe places she’s worked previously there was a “be at work or else” viewpoint that she’s needlessly letting cloud her impression of you.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Is she a temp? It sounds like she’s a temp…

      I wonder if she’s getting all judgey because you’re youngest and have a full time gig that’s she’s jealous of? I’ve had this happen with weird temps over the years, they are only warm to people who they think can get them a permanent position but are chilly with the “ground” workers. Or in my case, one was my temporary replacement and she was just ready to snatch my job and run [which is hilarious because I found out that she lasted all of 2 weeks, she couldn’t hang. And was awful to the staff, while tried to really kiss up to the management team.]

      Sometimes people are just rude and don’t like you for their various reasons. Maybe she hates blondes. Maybe you look like her ex husbands new wife. Don’t let it get into your head too far, it’s a Roxie thing, not a you thing.

      As long as the majority of your coworkers are kind and courteous to you, that’s all that matters. Not everyone will like your face. Lots of people hate my face.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Absolutely.

        Two years ago I went thru hell with a temp like this. She was so obviously angling for my job and sucked up to my clueless, gullible boss to become the new favorite. CGB was great at outside sales but a terrible judge of people so she didn’t realize she was being worked. And she lo-o-o-oved temp so much she overlooked, oh, severe tardiness, taking overlong on short, simple assignments…and after CGS hired temp, temp treated me as if I worked for her. Nobody worked for her.

        Roxie does sound plain rude. And there is the question of what Roxie might have been told about OP/OP’s role during the time she was out.

        Not to make it a bigger case than it has to be, but it’s not a bad idea to document these incidents for just in case.

    7. pony tailed wonder*

      Maybe she realized she needed to wash her hands? Maybe she realized that she flubbed it with you and vowed to do better next time? Maybe a lot of things. But if it develops in to a pattern, talk it over with your manager.

    8. Lissa*

      Honestly it’s impossible to say without actually witnessing those conversations. Perhaps reading this from Roxie’s perspective would have you doing something you were unaware of. Maybe she heard something. Maybe she’s just decided to hate you for no reason. Maybe you look like her sister she hates. I don’t think we can tell you if it’s something you’re doing based only on a short self-assessment – I mean, maybe? I’d look at other evidence. If this is the only person who has done this at your job, then it probably isn’t you. Could be what someone else says, she likes disrespecting lower-level people. Honestly it’s trying to read tea leaves with stuff like that.

  14. Worried Colleague*

    I need help brainstorming how to navigate a situation in which my colleague/friend is in major trouble, and I don’t want to be guilty by association.

    I work somewhere with very flexible hours and a great work from home policy, so it’s not unusual for people to be out of their offices for days at a time. However, my colleague (who I consider a good enough friend that we spend time together outside of work) took advantage of this setup and went AWOL on an unapproved vacation from work for a week. I knew she was on vacation but assumed it was approved.

    She got caught and is now on a PIP. I don’t in any way condone what she did; however, I do feel very bad for the situation she put herself in. She’s taken to texting and/or complaining to me in our office for hours every day (the two of us share an office). How do I empathize with her without it appearing to other people like I think she was right? I also don’t want people thinking I’m speaking poorly about the leadership team or their decision behind our closed door.

    Another work colleague said I need to distance myself from her because the optics aren’t good, but I’m not sure how to do that when we physically share a space together and I care about her as a person. Help?!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think the fact that you’re friends is getting in the way here. She was clearly in the wrong and if she doesn’t like the policy, she should approach whoever makes decisions about things like this. And you should encourage her to do that. Meanwhile, you have work to do and it’s reasonable of you to tell her that you can’t do anything for her and that you need her to either talk to somebody who can or dial down the complaining a lot.

      Also: Texting and kvetching all day aren’t the point of a PIP, so it doesn’t seem like this has sunk in.

    2. Sloan Kittering*

      Ohh yes get away from her, because if she’s fired they may review her chats/emails to you and you may look bad, like you were in on it. She sounds like she made a very poor decision. You should probably be clear with her (in writing) that you understand the consequences are difficult but that you can’t entertain her complaints any longer – she will probably naturally stop venting to you after that. You might not maintain closeness but that sounds like it will be for the best. Don’t get tarred with that brush.

    3. Jamie*

      No one will hold it against you for sharing an office, but you do want to create distance between yourself and her actions. You can care about her as a person and discuss other things, but not be sympathetic to valid consequences of her own actions.

      One, “I know it sucks for you, but what did you expect them to do? They have to enforce policy.” and she will likely stop crying on your shoulder about this. People want sympathy and someone clearly in their corner when complaining about this kind of thing.

      If this makes her chilly toward you over all, that tells you a lot about her.

      1. Dana B.S.*

        I like that script. Depending on how she responds, I would double down with, “These policies are so generous and we all appreciate the flexibility. Abuse like that could get it taken away.” This moves the conversation away from her problem and makes it about the potential great impact.

    4. Sarah*

      I don’t think you should empathize with her since what she did was wrong. She should get in trouble for doing that. I think you could say something like I’m sorry you’re dealing with a PIP, but I don’t think it was a good idea to take a vacation without approval. Then get yourself very busy with your work. Any other discussion from her about this needs to be met with comments that you’ve got a lot of work to do and don’t want to talk about it any more. I’m sure there’s some better language in the archives about changing the subject, but I think your colleague is right in that you need to distance yourself verbally, since you can’t physically, from her.

      It also sounds like she might not be long for that place if she’s spending hours talking to you instead of actually working.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, she sounds mentally checked out to me. You’d have to be completely over a place to take an unauthorized vacation for a week (!) and not think about the consequences.

    5. S-Mart*

      I don’t think you can empathize with her without tarnishing your own reputation. Seriously, what’s there to empathize with? She’s lucky to even have a job at all at this point. Most places I’ve worked would consider her to have voluntarily abandoned her job after the third day AWOL. Those that didn’t have language to that effect in their handbook would have almost certainly fired her.

      You certainly don’t have to avoid her, but anytime she complains about her situation or your leadership team you should shut it down. If it was one of my friends I’d tell them they brought it on themselves / ask them why they thought that was ever a good idea.

    6. Celeste*

      Time to have a chat that you are done hearing about this. She can tell it to someone else, she can stop talking about it, she can get mad and quit. Whatever else she wants to do is her business. But you are done with this topic. Tell her that friends should be able to tell friends when enough is enough. If she persists, it’s okay to let her know you don’t want to be involved in this problem because you’re busy with work.

      I probably would distance myself for a while socially, just to see how things go for her at work. Not everyone can make it off a PIP and be retained.

    7. Quill*

      You definitely need to not respond to her texts or complaints during work / during breaks at work. That looks like you’re in on it. In fact, probably the kindest thing to do is tell her that while you sympathize with her stress, you will talk to her about ANYTHING else work related, but not that.

      1. Annonno Today*

        I agree. You’re feeding into her need for validation (like she believes she’s being treated unfairly; she most def is not) by responding to those work-related complaints. Agree up-thread where someone said it’s time to separate yourself from this coworker. What she did was wrong and if anything, she should be on best behavior. The fact she isn’t should tell you a lot about this person’s personal ethics/credibility.

    8. T. Boone Pickens*

      I don’t think your coworker understands the gravity of the situation here and her complaining to you about it frankly should tell you that she is absolutely clueless here. I think you can make a distinction here and may need to have a tough conversation with her that you tell her that you support her as a friend and acknowledge that being put on a PIP stinks (which it does) but you point out that she was clearly in the wrong but taking unauthorized vacation. Sadly for your friend I don’t think you’ll need to worry about this for too much longer as the chances of your friend being let go are probably pretty good.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      I don’t understand why you are empathizing with her or “feeling bad for the situation she put herself in.” Friends can say “what were you thinking?” And “Dude, that was messed up” and you can certainly agree with the employer and other co-workers that you don’t understand and don’t agree with what she did.

    10. WellRed*

      Don’t feel sorry for her. She’s lucky to have a job and (you’re lucky WFH hasn’t been rescinded for everyone.” What your so-called friend did is WAAAAY beyond the pale. Seriously. Who does this? Shut her down firmly. Do not engage. And sorry, spend less time with her outside of work.

    11. Kes*

      I get that she’s your friend but you need to shut it down when she starts complaining to you, in text or in person. If you’re seen talking to her for hours every day while she’s on a PIP and complaining about the company people will assume you agree with her and approve of her behaviour (besides which, they will wonder why you aren’t doing your job instead of gossiping for hours – I presume you’re trying to work while she’s talking to you but it will look bad from the outside)

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Another work colleague said I need to distance myself from her because the optics aren’t good, but I’m not sure how to do that when we physically share a space together and I care about her as a person.

      Do not let her complain to you in the office. Cut her off ever time she does with something like:
      “I know it sucks for you, but what did you expect them to do? They have to enforce policy.” (from Jamie)
      “You reap what you sow.”
      “You made the choice, you pay the price”

      I know they are all kind of harsh. I’m straightforward person, but mostly you need to shock her into stopping her complaining to you. You listening to her complain and not cutting her off is bad optics for you. You obviously maintaining a friendship with her is bad optics for you.

      I would not even try to avoid saying “I’m sorry.” She deserves this PIP. Are you sorry she got didn’t get away it? Are you sorry her punishment is not fun for her when she did something so very out of line?

      She made a terrible choice. She got caught and is paying the price. She’s amazingly lucky that she didn’t just get fired. And because of your friendship, your reputation at work could be damaged. So you need to make it clear to her and anyone listening that you think her decision was terrible and her PIP is utterly appropriate.

    13. CM*

      You don’t need to shun anybody. If, as you say, you think she was in the wrong but you’re sympathetic to the fact that she’s in a rough situation over it, you don’t have to pretend to think she’s not in the wrong. You can just express sympathy for the part of it that’s rough and say, “That’s rough.” Or, “I don’t want to get into badmouthing [whoever set up the PIP], but I get why you feel frustrated,” or whatever.

    14. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I think you need to stop feeling bad for her. If I’m understanding right, she said she was working from home but actually wasn’t working, for a week. That’s fraudulent. If however she was working, just from another location, but didn’t get approval to do it, then that’s still her mistake. She should have asked. Either way, she’s at fault. Her actions got her into this mess.

      As for how to distance yourself – Jamie’s wording is perfect.

    15. chipMunkey*

      I think a PIP is pretty lenient. Anywhere I’ve worked, if you are being paid to work, the company owns your time. If she was doing her own thing, that could be considered fraud – so never mind a PIP, she’s lucky she wasn’t terminated on the spot.

      1. Anon for this*

        So tell her – you can’t believe she didn’t get fired on the spot. Gee, she’s lucky she was only put on a PIP. And now you’re done with hashing and rehashing it.
        I find work friends still need to be one step removed from personal friends. But I also find I need a lot of boundaries in my life. It just works better for me that way.

    16. 1LFTW*

      “Jane, I gotta tell you – as a friend, I’m *glad* you’re on a PIP, because at most places, you’d have been fired.” If she has any sense, she’ll take this to heart. If she doesn’t, you probably won’t have to worry about distancing yourself, because she’ll get huffy and do that for you.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I actually like the script a lot – it’s the tough love kind of feedback I’m known for, lol. Jane really did bring this situation on herself, so no one should feel sorry for her. She lied and skipped town when she was supposed to be working – she committed wage theft, which is a fireable offense everywhere I’ve ever worked.

      2. Jamie*

        I like this, too. And selfishly I’d be pissed. Maybe scarred by old toxic jobs but I’ve worked for places that would look for any reason to quash WFH for anyone. They’re lucky tptb aren’t harshing down on everyone for the bad actions of one person.

    17. Not So NewReader*

      It might be helpful to think of it as this is what would happen to anyone here who did this. It’s not like she was wearing purple and the boss did not like purple that particular day. This is something that one could reasonably expect at any job, if you skip out you will get a PIP and that is IF you are lucky.

      I think I would get a very concerned look on my face, “Gee, I’d hate for anything to happen to you. They must like you otherwise or else they could have just fired you. I know of places that just fire people for this. I don’t want to see you leave.”

      So the overall idea is the company is behaving in a normal fashion. It’s reasonable to expect that employees would get in trouble over something like this. You are very glad they did not just fire her right away. And you hope everything works out for her so she can stay.

      FWIW, I have a friend who will tell me X happened, where X is so unfair etc. I use a flat or matter of fact tone of voice and I explain, well that is how Y works if you do Z then X will happen. And so X happened to you.” A part of what I do here is I lower the volume of my voice. I talk softer. I think this makes people strain to hear a little more and they are less apt to think I am “yelling” at them. (Yes, you can yell at a person and never raise your voice. Some of the worst “scaldings” I have had the person reamed me and never raised their voice. Talk softer than usual.)

      You can also say things like, “You are a pretty cool friend. So I am really hoping this lands well for you.”

      To you I will say, watch what happens next. If she continues to have difficulties, your best bet is to step back and back from the friendship at least in the office. This can look like, “When we are at work I need to just focus on work.”

    18. Worried Colleague*

      Thanks for your advice, everyone! I truly appreciate it. I’m especially thankful for the scripts you gave me. It can be very difficult to think of what to say to her in the moment.

      Admittedly, it’s very hard for me NOT to empathize. I work in a field where I’ve been conditioned to empathize with all of our constituents all of the time, even if they do something objectively off the rocker, and it’s a difficult thing to turn off. I’m an emotional dumping ground for most of my friends because I’m very good at listening without judgment – it gets exhausting!

      As crazy as this sounds, I’m not sure they’ll ever actually fire her, despite the PIP. We’re all experts in our field with terminal degrees, and it’s hard to find people with our unique combinations of skill sets and languages (hence the autonomy and great benefits – they want to retain us if at all possible because hiring is a nightmare). I think she knows this, and it’s just adding fuel to the fire in how much further she’s willing to push the situation.

      For example, She keeps talking about how she needs to be on her best behavior but didn’t come into the office until almost noon today and has texted on her phone the entire time since coming in. It’s so hard not for me to get drawn in and “mother hen” her into working!

    19. RecoveringSWO*

      I’d like to see whether other commenters think this is too much, but I would also consider mentioning to your boss that you’re concerned about the optics of this situation and don’t want her to get the impression that you think you’re colleague’s actions were acceptable. Just a quick talk to clear the air.

      If your officemate keeps up the victim act throughout her PIP, management might start digging into emails/chats or paying more attention to her rants in your office. They’ll be looking for potential justification for firing her. I’ve absolutely given the benefit of the doubt to an employee who was being overrun by a strong personality before, but the key was that I knew that employee disagreed with the bad actor beforehand.

      1. Worried Colleague*

        Yes, I’ve been wondering if I should bring it up at my next one-on-one. I’m very curious what other people think about that.

        I’m not sure how to bring it up to leadership without getting her in more trouble. For example, accidentally revealing that I know more about the situation than I should. Or getting myself in trouble by making it seem like I’ve been gossiping about things I shouldn’t know about.

        Any scripts or wording ideas?

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          “As you know, Jane and I have worked together for a long time and I do enjoy her company, but I wanted to make it clear to you that I am really shocked and disappointed in her treatment of our PTO and WFH policy. I really value those privileges and appreciate our flexibility as part of this position. I worry about the optics since Jane and I sit together and she has expressed frustration about her PIP. Do you have any advice on how to avoid the perception that we are in this together? I’ve already gotten some comments from others in department X/at level Y/area Z that my association with her doesn’t look good, but I don’t know how to mitigate it while we sit together.”

          I have found that asking for concrete advice on how to handle a situation is a much better approach than just bringing a problem up if you’re worried about optics or “tattling” (which doesn’t apply in a business context).

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “Boss, Sue and I are office mates. So we get into conversations that perhaps we would not with other people. I do know some things that have happened. I wanted to be sure that you know, that is my office mate and NOT me. My habits/method of operating are different from that and I wanted to be sure that you were aware of that.”

          Outline:
          a)Because of proximity you know about stuff you would not know otherwise.
          b)You want to make sure the boss knows you know these things are NOT cool and not anything that you are about.

          Keep it really short. If the boss wants to have a longer conversation she will.
          Prepare yourself that there is a long shot she just may move you to another office and different office mate, if she can.

        3. 1LFTW*

          If it were me, I wouldn’t bring it up unless they do, and if you aren’t supposed to know about the PIP, I doubt they’ll bring it up. But if they do, you can say that you’ve made an effort to shut down your co-workers complaints, and stress the fact that you know it’s none of your business and that you don’t want to get involved in (what I assume it’s supposed to be) confidential personnel matters.

          Best of luck with this. I know how hard it is to do that kind of empathy-switching, and your co-worker sounds like a lot of work.

        4. blaise zamboni*

          I think if you have a good relationship with your boss, it’s worth mentioning. It sounds like this has been affecting you pretty significantly, and you could use more specialized guidance from someone who knows you and your coworker better than we do.

          I would say something like, “I’m struggling with a sticky situation. You know I’m friends with Coworker, and she’s had some work troubles recently. I empathize with her and I want to support her, but I’m conflicted about her behavior and how to respond to her. Can you help me navigate [whatever your biggest concern about this is]?”

          I’m not sure from your post if your biggest concern is to maintain your relationship (both personal and professional) with your coworker, or if it’s to maintain your professional image to your leadership and the rest of your team. I think both things are really important, but I would pick the more important (to you) issue and lead with that. Then if your boss doesn’t offer guidance on the other concern, bring that up later in the conversation.

          As far as getting her in trouble…Are PIPs at your company confidential? are PIPs ever confidential? Obviously I wouldn’t want anyone to walk around announcing that I’m on a PIP, but I can’t imagine a company would care if I shared that news on my own. The worst offense your coworker has done, in the context of your dilemma, is to gripe about her bosses to a close peer. That isn’t *great* but IMO a decent boss will let that roll off her back, at least up to a point. And frankly, it sounds like your coworker is getting herself in trouble with or without your involvement–you may as well get some feedback while she’s at it.

        5. Dr. Anonymous*

          I think if you’re going to talk about it, you have to present your real dilemma. You sit with her, you like her as a person, but she’s really struggling with the PIP and can’t stop talking about it and it’s a distraction, and also you’re worried people will see you as two peas in a pod. You want to keep the focus on work and still be respectful and empathetic.

    20. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      Your colleague gave you good advice. It’s tough when it’s a friend AND office mate, but deflection techniques can include “I sympathize with your situation, but it’s really none of my business.” At work, “I really have to get on with this now” and outside of work, “Let’s leave work matters in the office.”

  15. New ED*

    I just took on the position of Interim Executive Director at a small nonprofit and I’m drowning. I’m doing my old boss’s job as well as keeping most of my old duties. I’m struggling to be authoritative over people who used to be my teammates. Our cash flow worries me constantly and our development person resigned with no money on hand to hire a new one, so I do that job too.

    I can barely sleep, I’m so stressed.

    How long do you think I should allow myself to get used to this? How can I adjust and stress a little less?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      This sounds terrible, can you be very clear with the board about your availability to stay on as “interim” and that you (presumably) do NOT want to take on the role full time? I find this is a dicey place to be, the interim, because it can go on indefinitely and you’re getting all the stress with presumably not all the benefits of such a position, including the title for your resume and the money. The Board may not feel the hustle if you’re in place now and things are staggering on. You may need to set the deadline for them. At least that will help your stress, knowing help is coming and it won’t be forever.

      1. zora*

        And I totally co-sign this. You have to make sure the board is really clear on what temporary means and exactly what is not going to happen while you are covering three jobs, so that it’s obvious to everyone how important it is that they fill .. at least TWO of the three positions as soon as possible.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      . . . you’re doing three jobs.

      Either they need to hire more people or you need to start hunting.

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        Yeah, you need to do less. Cancel things – meetings, projects, whatever. Not everything can be a priority now, and I’d start with your old job responsibilities (which are the ones you’re most likely to do because they are familiar and comfortable and may feel “productive” but are not currently necessary).

    3. Hope*

      Are there any parts of your old duties or the development person that you can delegate to teammates? I would start there. And beyond that, worry less about being authoritative–hopefully your teammates get that you’re in charge, even if it’s interim.

      And definitely give yourself some time. Make sure you give yourself an hour each day to do something stress relieving–read, take a bath, meditate, punch a punching bag, listen to some music, garden, watch cat videos, whatever works for you. Maybe try to take that hour right before bed so you can go to sleep more easily?

    4. Kathenus*

      Definitely an untenable situation. I think you need to be very proactive here and look at the tasks as the interim ED and your former role, prioritize which ones need to be done that fit into a reasonable work day/week, then communicate to your board (or whoever you report t0) what your plan is. If you keep trying to do an unreasonable amount of work you set the expectation with those above you that it’s possible, and in some cases it could burn you because you can’t possibly do two full jobs well so they may not think of the overwork and just see the undone or poorly done areas where you can’t keep up. So take control and set a more realistic plan, which may include delegation if others have capacity to help or jobs that will be deferred or dropped during this period, and very clearly communicate it to those you report to so that you have appropriate expectations. Best of luck.

    5. CM*

      Don’t try to solo it. Approach things more like you and your former teammates are in this together (with you leading the charge) and work as a group to tackle whatever the most pressing problems are with the organization. Delegate as much as you can, and maybe cut back on some stuff until the money situation is solved and you can hire more staff.

      Don’t look at this as the moment you need to prove why you’re a star and the board should keep you as ED — just BE a star by not letting the organization sink even when that means leaning on other people and letting them lead in the areas where they have expertise.

    6. zora*

      You can’t ‘get used to this’. This is not a sustainable situation, by definition is has to be temporary.

      Honestly, it sounds like a sinking ship, and I personally would be seriously evaluating whether the org SHOULD exist at this point or if it’s time for a strategic exit strategy. As someone who had to fold an organization I helped found, I get it, it sucks. But sometimes, it needs to happen.

      And in the meantime you HAVE to triage. What are the absolutely most important things that need to happen right now, and everything else has to get put on hold. Yes, it does make things more messy later, but you really have to do this in the short term, otherwise you will collapse and literally end up in the hospital, and then nothing is going to get done.

    7. Quinalla*

      Geez, talk to your board right away. I’d done two jobs (one interim) before with a clear end in sight and a clear establishing of what I could and could not do from both jobs and that is stressful enough. Three jobs, forget it! You are going to have to delegate and make hard decisions about what just isn’t going to get done while this is going on.

    8. NJ Anon*

      Welcome to the non profit world. I put up with it for 13 years before running away from the stress. Good luck. I have no real advice, unfortunately.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You don’t have a sustainable plan here as others have said.

      As far as being authoritative, I am not sure how you define that word. Carry an attitude that you need their inputs and their help. But make decisions when they need you to make decisions.

      Tell your board that you cannot do the development job also. This is actually true, you will not be able to handle all this. If you have a good relationship with one board member talk to that person. Tell them there is a problem here. If you do not really know the board, go to the next meeting if it’s coming up soon or depending on how you feel let the prez know there is an urgent matter going on.

      Part of a board’s function is to raise funds so they can work on that part. If you won’t meet pay roll soon, let them know now.

    10. Oof*

      1) Decide if you would want to put your hat in the ring or not.
      2) Call the executive board in. Get a hiring plan in place for the positions needed: ED, dev, your old job, etc.
      3) ED’s also do a LOT of fundraising – not knowing your background, it may make sense for you to focus on that and high level admin and delegate the rest. This is the conversation to have with your exec committee.
      4) Assign someone to pull files and develop a calendar – this is not the time to miss unknown deadlines! Trust me on that one.

      1. Loubelou*

        I was here last year, and I almost burned out. I left before my mental health took a permanent toll.

        Be very clear on the timeline with the board – “At this point I am going back to my old duties and there must be an ED in place by then.” And then do that. But keep an eye on job options too.

        The most important thing to remember is that this is not worth your health. The organisation may be doing fantastic work but it can’t be kept afloat by one person; don’t let the board guilt you into thinking that you must do everything or the organisation will collapse.

        Perhaps it’s their time. A year after I left my old org collapsed, and I know it’s because the board kept asking people to do impossible amounts of work and never stepped back to analyse the problems and take action.

        Lastly, please give up all hopes of becoming ED yourself unless you can see clear signs that both your old role and the DD role will be filled. Otherwise the board will get comfortable with you doing all this work and will have no reason to hire anyone else.

        Lastly, and most importantly, go and join the Non Profit Leadership Lab with Joan Garry. It is a wonderful community of non-profit leaders supporting one another and learning from Joan and one another. It kept me sane and I promise will help you! It’s very much worth the monthly subscription.

    11. RedinSC*

      You need help and you need it now. I would go to the board and see how they can support you in this. You can’t keep doing 3 jobs, so see how they can help (do some of your old work? Do some of the ED stuff? ) Make sure the board knows the cash flow issues and focus specifically on that right now. Can you send out a specific appeal, emergency funding, 1 time to get you guys over this hump and look to getting a volunteer in to help with the fundraising?

      This isn’t sustainable, and the board there needs to step up and help out.

  16. New ED*

    Tl;dr I recently took a leadership position managing my former teammates; I’m upset by the salaries I now know about.

    I was recently promoted at a small nonprofit I’ve been working at for a while. In my new position I have access to salary info. I’m kind of upset by what I’ve found about the three core team members.

    Leslie and Tom are paid the same amount, but Leslie is a much harder worker—she takes on harder projects and goes above and beyond. Tom is a good worker too, but can’t handle complex projects the way Leslie can.

    Donna is also a good worker, but also struggles sometimes. Her skills would be easier to replace than either Lesley or Tom. However, she is the highest paid employee! The reason is that she is on an H1B visa and apparently her salary had to meet a minimum threshold for the visa.

    I’m upset by this, but i can’t raise salaries any more—a bunch of people just got raises right before I started and it’s already straining our payroll (small nonprofit). I can’t go above me because…now I’m at the top.

    Argh. Thoughts?

    1. Fae*

      Any way you can give some non-monetary perks like WFH, flex-time, additional PTO, etc? Can you talk to LEslie about things that would make her job easier/better or improve her work/life balance? Outside of that the only thing you can do is wait for more money to come into the budget and try your best to allocate it appropriately.

    2. NW Mossy*

      One thing I’ll suggest is to give yourself some time to settle into your role before making dramatic pay changes.

      I’ve found over the years that when I start managing someone that I’ve worked with before (especially as a peer), I start looking at them with a different perspective and my read on their performance changes a lot. I’ve taken on people with reputations for being lackluster and been surprised at how much they upped their game when I came on board. I’ve had people I thought were amazing peers turn into managerial challenges, often due to the same behaviors I appreciated before.

      Let yourself see them through “boss eyes” for a bit. What you need from them as your direct reports is often different than what you needed from them when you were peers.

    3. CAA*

      The “minimum salary” for an H1-B visa is the local prevailing wage for her position. If Donna holds the same position as the other two and has the same degrees or certifications, then not only are Tom and Lesley underpaid within your organization, but they’re also earning less than the prevailing wage in your area. That means they could probably find jobs elsewhere and make more money. Also, it’s concerning that Donna would be the easiest one to replace because you’re only supposed to hire an H1-B visa holder in the first place if you’re unable to find those skills locally, and you believe those skills are easily available in your area.

      It sounds like you should plan to replace Donna in the long term. The easiest way is to find out when her visa expires and give her 6-months notice that you won’t be applying for an extension for her. This may take a couple of years depending on how long she’s been working for your org. Or if her performance is really sub-par, you can go through your process to terminate her employment and hire a replacement. You can post the new job with a lower salary than Donna is currently paid, and then redistribute the overall labor budget across all three positions. This has its own risks though. Lesley and Tom may feel insecure if their coworker is let go and may leave before you get everything realigned.

      1. New ED*

        Yes. Totally agree with what you are saying. There was zero reason to go through the H1B visa process for this position. It wasn’t my decision, but even if I had been given input, I did not fully understand the ramifications at that time. There are a lot of follow-on bad effects that we are still experiencing, such as the salary mismatch.

        However, her performance is not sub-par by any means–just not so stellar that she should be our highest-paid employee. I definitely don’t think there are grounds for termination and it would seriously lower morale if I did. I agree that I wouldn’t extend the visa though, but it’ll be a few years before that happens.

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

          I’m not an expert on all the intricacies of the H1B system, but could she be a spouse or family member of someone else in the org (or a donor) and the visa sponsorship is tied to someone else with expertise that is hard to find locally. I wouldn’t assume that you can do anything about Donna. This leaves trying to keep things balanced workload wise. Make sure that you don’t lean too heavily on Leslie just because she is better at it. Make Tom and Donna step up as much as possible; even if they aren’t as good at it doesn’t mean they should get a pass from doing it.

        2. OhNo*

          While you’re deliberating, make sure that you consider possible damage to morale if you choose not to extend Donna’s visa. Even though it’s not a firing, people who aren’t familiar with the visa process and requirements may see it that way.

          Speaking from experience here: I had a coworker at an old job (who I wasn’t close with) who was on an H1-B visa when the company declined to extend. Folks who were friendly with the visa holder hit the roof – there was a lot of talk about the company “deporting” them, and allegations of racism/xenophobia. The HR folks did their best to counter misinformation, but by the time they got involved it was already a mess.

          That’s not to say that you should keep Donna on to avoid drama! Just put a little leg work in up front, so no one is left thinking that you robbed Peter to pay Paul.

    4. nonymous*

      Can you restructure the workload a bit to reflect wages? This doesn’t have to be immediate, but could be part of a year-long coaching plan.

  17. Pam Beesly*

    I’ve been an administrative assistant for most of my career and am looking to try something new. Any suggestions for positions I can look into that use similar skills but don’t involve sitting in front of a computer all day? Thank you!

    1. Jamie*

      If you’re in manufacturing you can get into QC. There will be some time in front of the computer, but at the inspector or even supervisor levels you will have plenty of hands on work.

          1. ..Kat..*

            My hospital has customer service representatives. It is a step up in responsibilities and pay from admin jobs

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Could you try to pivot into a sales assistant/sales coordinator type role? That position might involve some travel/going on site to client locations which may help you break up some of the monotony you’re experiencing.

      1. remote cat herder*

        I’ve worked as a sales assistant and it was 100% sitting at a computer, doing admin work to ensure that the sales process moved along quickly. This may vary by industry – I was in an industry that requires a ton of paperwork to be done – but I would proceed with caution.

    3. Kiwiii*

      Client management-related work uses a lot of the same skillsets; depending on what specifically you’re doing/where you’re working it wouldn’t necessarily be mostly computer work.

    4. Okay*

      Program assistant for a nature conservancy/preservation, should include spending time outside on location at events

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The most efficient administration I know is also an efficient events manager–is that something you’d consider?

  18. Flipflops*

    Strange thing about my office – nobody really tells you properly how to quit, instead I got to investigate it through random parts of instructions! Oh you should write to HR about this. Hey you really should tabulate your remaining vacation. Yeah I heard you need to give 2 months notice.
    Our office always tried to train people by having the knowledgeable seniors train the noobies. Turns out this will really bite you in the ass when the people “trained in quitting their jobs” are of course, not there anymore.

    1. Admin of Sys*

      I have never been in an office that had training on how to quit. There are standard business practices (tell your boss first, including something in writing), and rules about what happens to vacation and sick time that tend to be detailed in the benefits documentation. But after 25 years, I’ve never been somewhere that had a formal ‘quitting’ process that was described anywhere. Managers and HR should have documentation as to what to do if an employee quits (computer access, keys, paperwork to HR, etc) but not the person quitting.
      And if you’re in the US, unless your notice time was described in a hiring contract (unlikely, but possible), then the 2 months is a company practice and possibly an industry standard, but is unlikely to be a true ‘rule’.

      1. secret chart*

        Yeah, same. We have a checklist for what to do after a person quits, but if a person wants to quit… they just quit. Things about the remaining vacation is handled by HR, you shouldn’t need to do that yourself unless your job is really disorganized.

        Usually people give 2-3 weeks notice around here, but we had someone quit with no notice before. Things happen.

    2. Jamie*

      No office teaches you that. In benign environments it’s because it’s just not a thing that’s covered in training and toxic environments take the collateral benefit of having people give up rights they didn’t know they had.

      Your handbook should tell you how vacation/PTO etc. is handled at separation and your state unemployment resources will guide you to your entitlements.

      1. Dana B.S.*

        If your handbook is silent on how vacation is handled and your state laws don’t cover it, then assume that you’re gonna lose it.

    3. Has Quit A Job*

      I don’t think you normally really learn about how to quit from the people you’re leaving. When I quit I made sure I was aware of how various benefits were timed (vesting, bonuses, etc) and read the handbook so I knew what I was due (PTO payout within a certain time frame, ESOP payout within a much longer time frame). Otherwise just look online for things to do when quitting. Once I was ready to quit I wrote a letter of resignation and went to meet with my boss. Ultimately we negotiated the date so I revised the letter and was told to give it to HR. That was it.

    4. juliebulie*

      You should be able to give notice to your boss, and your boss is supposed to figure out the rest with HR and IT.

    5. ContemporaryIssued*

      I remember googling (in my native language) “how to quit”. In my country we have contracts, however, so it’s pretty regulated, you give your two weeks or four weeks if you’ve been in the position for a really long time. I’ve only left easily replaceable positions however, ones where training a replacement/documentation was really not needed. However, when I did move from a role within the company I am at now, I did write up a huge document on everything I had knowledge of, as a sort of “passing on knowledge” that might not already be written down somewhere. As far as everything else is concerned, the company is expected to know how to wrap things up on their end, including vacation time and getting everything they need from you before you go.

    6. lulu*

      Agreed with everyone here, this is not a strange thing, no one trains you how how to quit a job! If you’re in the US, you just give notify to your manager verbally, telling them when your last day will be, then put it in an email if you want to have back up, and that’s it. The norm is to give 2 weeks notice. Sounds like you have an HR department, so they will take care of tabulating your remaining leave, and do the pay out if applicable. Does’t hurt to do the calculation on your side of course to double check they’re doing it correctly.

    7. Nicki Name*

      It’s a little odd not to know if the company requires or expects a notice period of a certain length. In my experience, that’s usually highlighted on the first day when signing all the initial paperwork. Other than that, agree with all the other comments that “training for quitting” isn’t a thing.

    8. Aitch Arr*

      We actually have a termination section in our Employee Handbook that talks about the process, including voluntary terms.

  19. Stephanie*

    Hello! I still read here regularly, but don’t always post.

    I have to drive for a business trip with a coworker early next week. Probably will be about 10 hours round/trip*. We get along fine and are close in age, but need to figure out something to listen to while driving. Any inoffensive podcast recommendations? That is, nothing too political or risque (which is most of my podcasts…)

    *Sigh, the distance is right at our fly vs. drive delineation.

    1. CTT*

      It’s still on-going, but I have been fascinated by “The Missing Crypto Queen,” about a bitcoin-like company whose founder disappeared conveniently before federal charges were filed against the company. It’s intriguing true crime without any murder or other sensitive subjects.

    2. ArchivesGremlin*

      Missed in History is great or “Dressed” (which fashion history but they are fantastic because don’t just talk couture fashion but every day fashion. I also like Radio lab. They’ve covered a bunch of interesting topics.

      1. Teapot Compliance*

        If you’re into design podcasts, Articles of Interest is awesome. Its the 99% Invisible spin off (6 eps) on clothing.

        Also, you could always share the awesomeness of Alison and see download a few episodes of Ask a Manager!!

      2. Princesa Zelda*

        The same network as Missed in History/Dressed/Stuff You Should Know also has a food podcast called Savor that is. so good. I really recommend it! The hosts are kind of silly but the information is always on point and wide-ranging, and they cover a wide variety of foods and food-adjacent things. They’re currently doing a subseries on Hawaiian food culture.

    3. Sharkie*

      If you are both somewhat interested in sports – Sports? with Katie Nolan is great. It is a 60- 90 minute pod and is really funny ( singing ad reads!!!!).

    4. merp*

      Maybe fiction? My eternal fave is Within the Wires – totally hooked me in by the second episode (starts a little slow in the first) and the story is incredible.

      1. juliebulie*

        Oh, I love WTW! That is, I loved the first season… liked the second a lot… third season was pretty good… current season we’re up to ep 4 and I’m still wondering if it’s going to get interesting.

        Each season is about 5 hours, so first two seasons could work.

      1. Mimi Me*

        I love Stuff You Should Know.
        My husband just listened to a podcast about the art heist at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum. He loved that. He also loves David Tennant does a podcast.

        1. Teacher Lady*

          The Gardner Museum podcast is called Last Seen, and I agree that it’s great and could fit the bill here!

          Also co-signing the suggestions for Stuff You Missed in History and RadioLab.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “Episodic” books on tape or podcasts would be great. Something where you aren’t committed to the full 10 hrs, or would be sad if you missed something. So short pieces are awesome. (The All Creatures Great and Small series were our favorites on family road trips, but you may not want to bond with your co-workers over bovine prolapsed uteruses.)

      Radio Lab, This American Life, Story Corps.

        1. Quill*

          Oooh, check out Invention (same studio) they just did a bunch of stuff on grave robberies and coffins for their october podcasts.

      1. hermit crab*

        I’m not really a huge Freakonomics fan in general, but it is absolutely my go-to podcast for those “need something interesting and pleasant to listen to with someone I don’t know well” situations. There are lots of topics, so you can choose one of mutual interest and that is unlikely to be controversial.

    6. Quill*

      Okay, so load up on things that are primarily informational.

      My current favorites:
      Overheard at National Geographic
      Stuff You Should Know
      Stuff To Blow Your Mind
      Stuff You Missed in History Class

      1. Quill*

        Oh, note to the wise that Stuff To Blow Your Mind occasionally covers parasitism so read the notes before downloading.

    7. Aphrodite*

      How about audiobooks? I never listen to the radio but do listen to these. I favor nonfiction but find that books I wouldn’t read–mysteries, thrillers–can be fun to listen to. But as a recommendation I would encourage you to check out any of Simon Winchester’s books that he reads himself–Kratakoa is exceptionally interesting–or even Bill Bryson reading his own books such as In a Sunburned Country can be absolutely compelling. (Make sure they are the unedited versions, which will take up hours.)

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I cosign the audiobook recommendation. In fact, get in touch with the coworker in advance and see if the two of you can decide on an audiobook together.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I third this suggestion, mainly because I got into audiobooks by listening to P.G. Wodehouse novels when I worked at a law firm doing route work, and the guy who voided Bertie Wooster in the first couple of novels had me crying from laughing so hard. Now I need to go listen to those books again, lol.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Two favorite audio books are Mark Krlsnski”s two histories “Salt” and “Cod”. (There’s more to the titles but I’m blanking.) Either you can drop in & out of without losing the overall gist.
        And for fiction, I recommend two extremely different books; ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”, and the full cast recording of “World War Z”. And then there are mystery series–find out if you overlap reading a prolific autho and plan a marathon, be it Lee Child or Sue Grafton or Agatha Christie.

        1. Loubelou*

          Agreed on World War Z, as long as neither of you are squeamish! It’s ideal because it’s broken up into small chapters and it doesn’t really matter if you miss things because each chapter is standalone.

    8. E*

      Backstory – An American History Podcast; they talk about politics occasionally in an historical context, but rarely make specific pronouncements about their own.

    9. Sharkie*

      Also I hear office ladies -where Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey talk about the making of the office is good!

    10. Lemon Squeezy*

      The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week hits the same chords as Stuff You Should Know for me. Both good options for interesting, non-heavy podcasts.

    11. san junipero*

      My absolute favorite is “No Such Thing as a Fish,” which is a British show that riffs on humorous and interesting facts. They do occasionally make political references, but they’re always blink-and-you’ll-miss-it one-off jokes.

      1. Nott the Brave*

        This one is great! Sort of trips off the brain, too, so you can listen to a bunch in a row.

        1. Loubelou*

          No Such Things as a Fish is wonderful and yes you can listen to plenty all at once. Bear in mind they are completely irreverent and do enjoy mocking Trump so don’t listen together if either of you would be sensitive to that.

          Seconding the many recommendations of Stuff You Should Know. Very safe and easy to listen to, and they can be funny too. I love their Pompeii and Malls episodes.

    12. bassclefchick*

      The Soundtrack Show! Oh, man, do I LOVE this podcast! Goes indepth into the music of favorite movies. It even starts with a mini lesson in music theory. Great as a refresher for me (former music major) and just basic enough for someone who likes music, but isn’t a band/orchestra nerd to understand. He’s covered many favorite movies.

    13. 00ff00Claire*

      – Stuff You Should Know
      – Car Talk (reruns, obviously, but still good if you like them)
      – Criminal (on prx; maybe, if you are selective about the episodes; it’s true crime / true crime adjacent, so while none of it is exactly PG (and some of it is very not PG), there are quite a few episodes that are not your run of the mill true crime and instead just fascinating stories that involve some aspect of the criminal justice system)
      – Gretchen Rubin’s Happier and her sister’s Happier in Hollywood
      – Ask Me Another, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, or some of the other NPR shows

      1. 00ff00Claire*

        Here are a few of the less risque episodes of Criminal.
        5 Dropping like flies
        23 Triassic Park
        27 No place like home
        29 Officer Talon
        40 Pappy
        61 Vanish
        73 Carry A Nation
        77 The Escape
        90 Sharks

      2. remizidae*

        I would steer clear of NPR. They are often extremely political, with a really condescending and insulting attitude towards people on the right. Maybe there are NPR shows that really aren’t political, though.

    14. Qwerty*

      I like “Myths and Legends” – each episode focuses on a myth or folklore story from around the world.

    15. Zephy*

      Ephemeral is very interesting and doesn’t cover any risque topics. There’s a season out now plus a bonus episode. It’s about, well, ephemera. Most of the first season focused on obscure audiovisual recordings and the people who collect them.

      Futility Closet is family-friendly and also very interesting. It’s mostly a history podcast, covering unusual people and events in history you may not have covered in school. They also do a lateral thinking puzzle at the end of every episode. There’s also a 200+ episode backlog, so you won’t run out of content on a 10-hour drive.

    16. LKW*

      Ologies! Podcast by Science Communicator Alie Ward. The tag line is “Ask smart people stupid questions” – you learn all about Sharks! Turtles! Tortoises! The Constitution! Cabins! it’s highly informative and very entertaining.

      Some cussing but overall great catalog and you can avoid the more risque topics easily.

    17. Donkey Hotey*

      20,000 Hz explores the history of sounds (such as an interview with the woman who is Siri’s voice).
      Hidden Brain is the podcast version of the NPR program on how brains work.

      And, if you want something more fiction-y, you can never go wrong with Wolf 359.

    18. Ranon*

      If fiction is an option, Mission to Zyxx might work- it’s humorous science fiction and tends to be pretty cozy/ kind hearted. It acknowledges the existence of sex in some episodes but it’s not explicit and generally “off page”. Bubble is another along a similar vein.

    19. Stephanie*

      Thanks for the suggestions! Adult stuff is ok, I just wanted to steer clear of anything super explicit like Risk.

    20. TL -*

      Gastropod, which does science and history of food. Fun, light, nothing sexual or violent or political. (Also I just realized it’s gastropod, with pod as in ‘podcast’ not ‘foot-like protrusion.’)

      Levar Burton Reads – short stories read by Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow.) For adults but generally doesn’t get inappropriate for work. Really lovely and he chooses a wide variety of stories.

      Also if y’all both were fans of something as a kid, a podcast on revisiting it as an adult could be fun (like Babysitters Club or Animorphs or Gilmore Girls, all of which have fun podcasts.)

      My friends and I listened to Ella Enchanted on a road trip and loved it. We also rest 90s Australian Harlequin novels to each other but it wasn’t work appropriate.

    21. Tenebrae*

      Myths and Legends. The host tells stories from all over the world. My favourite SFW podcast: clean language, minimal violence, super interesting.

    22. A Poster Has No Name*

      “David Tennant Does a Podcast With…”

      He interviews people, and it’s fun. Some swearing. He has Ian McKellan on for one episode and he talks about growing up gay in his time, but I wouldn’t consider it risque unless your coworker is homophobic.

      Simon Majumdar’s “Eat my Globe.” He’s got three seasons on the history of various food/drinks. He also did a couple episodes on the food on the Titanic, for all classes, which was interesting.

    23. Gumby*

      Soooo many road trips as a child listening to Mrs. Pollifax books. (Back in the dark ages when they were on tape.) (And I was an under-10 year old with younger siblings so totally appropriate.)

      Did a road trip with a co-worker a few years ago with “The Year of Magical Thinking” and “I am America and So Can You” – though we both ended up not liking “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” – so having a variety of books to choose from is a good idea. Public libraries FTW!

    24. smoke tree*

      If you are a language and etymology nerd like me, the Allusionist is a very fascinating podcast, and usually pretty funny and with interesting trivia even if language isn’t really your thing. Episodes are usually 15-30 minutes.

      1. Loubelou*

        Yes!
        Though some episodes can be a bit dull, most are very entertaining and you learn a lot! The Rosetta Stone episode was super interesting.

    25. blaise zamboni*

      If either of you are nerdy at all: Critical Role?

      It’s technically a DnD podcast but you only need a basic understanding of DnD to enjoy it. (A 1 is bad and a 20 is good — there ya go, that’s DnD.) The cast are hilarious and very effective storytellers. They changed podcast networks in the middle of season 2, which is where I jumped in, and the plot was really easy to pick up despite missing ~50 episodes.

      The first episode on their new network is a one-shot, The Search for Grog, which is 4.5 hours long, requires no other context, and made me belly-laugh in the middle of a quiet room (mortifying but worth it). The first ~15 minutes are an introduction to the show which wasn’t great for a newcomer, but it picks up after that.

    26. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Late comment, but I just want to say that kids’ books might be something fun you could both enjoy. With 10 hours of drive time, you could probably do 3 or 4 or even 5 kids books, so you’d have some variety. Or do a mix. Your local library will have audio kids’ books.

    27. Who Plays Backgammon?*

      gak!!! the drive itself would make me nuts. I just like pleasant ambient music I can tune out if I have to navigate a roaming herd of llamas in the road. Ever since a hellish commute years ago where you had to be keenly alert and observant every. single. second., I can’t have anything on that I have to actually pay attention to.

      Thanks to the miracle of modern technology, if you don’t agree on drive-time listening, driver an have on what they like at a low volume, and passenger can have personal device w/ earbuds.

    28. Anonny*

      Heartily second Judge John Hodgman! Minor disputes between friends and family are debated in the court of a fake internet judge. Funny, gentle, respectful, and often surprisingly thoughtful rulings. It’s actually my go-to for escaping politics and other dreadful, depressing news of the day…and y’all may get some mileage debating the merits of a low stakes case as bonus small talk filler. My all-time favorite (and gateway episode) was Fudgie the Bail, wherein a wife takes a husband to court for making a birthday cake for their daughter.

  20. Anongineer*

    Does anyone have any advice on how to work internationally*? I currently work in the US, but would love to travel/live abroad for my work. I’m a civil engineer (which is still super broad but helps narrow it down haha) and I’m struggling for how to find companies and jobs that have that component – but I know they’re out there! 
    *Not necessarily Europe, I want the opportunity to stretch myself designing to different standards and learning how other countries tackle design problems. 

    1. ThatMarketingChick*

      Look for a company with projects or offices overseas. For example, my company is based in the US, but has projects in Canada and the UK. Our engineers move based on project location, which tend to be several-year assignments. This is either really attractive for folks, or a deal breaker. FWIW, I’m in heavy civil construction.

      1. Anongineer*

        That’s definitely in the range of what I want to do, though I’m from a design background! I come from a background of moving around a lot and would like to go back to that. I’ve got some companies I want to apply to (and will once I pass this PE) but it seems to be a harder industry (/industries) to break into.

        1. ThatMarketingChick*

          I can tell you that my company competes hard for engineers. It’s tough to find people who want to move and work wherever the company can send them. If you’re not involved in your local ASCE, ACEC, ASHE, or other professional organization, start going to meetings and get on committees or boards. My company, while a construction firm, has mostly PEs as our PMs – plus most of our Field Engineers are PEs. If you want to stay on the design side, look for firms that are pursuing large design-build or P3 work. That way, you’ll have a good chance on being able to move on-site and work with the construction team throughout the project.

    2. Want to work abroad too*

      Oh – I’m very interested in this as well! I’m in finance – in an area that is actually quite in demand internationally, but there are some major differences in standards/procedures (think something sort of like accounting – where the theory remains the same, but standards and rules will vary from country to country). There are definitely multi-national companies (with offices outside of the US) that would need employees well versed in US standards and I have some limited experience with the standards of several other countries.

      I’m just not sure how to conduct an international job search, especially because I don’t have any specific location I’d be targeting.

      Sorry to horn in on your thread! Just figured out situations are similar enough that any advice could be applicable to either of us.

      1. Anongineer*

        Oh no come on in! I’ve checked this thread before but never saw this question so thought I’d ask and hope people had advice.

      2. Ledgerman*

        Accountant (CPA) who just got a job abroad checking in! For accounting & finance, one of the easiest routes is targeting an organization you’d like to work for that has global operations. Is what you do generally in-house, or would you be a good fit for consulting? I’m with one of the Big 4 and they have a global mobility program that allows you to do short and long term assignments in other countries (and potentially “localize” there), and of course the Big 4 all have finance consulting groups/specialists. I also had a coworker who went to work for Accenture in another country.

    3. Kiwiii*

      I’d be really interested in doing the same in the future. I just joined a non-profit who does /some/ international work (we have clients in Canada and one Asian country) and is rapidly expanding, but my team doesn’t currently have clients outside of the country and our product is built around some government-adjacent things so I don’t know how likely we are to grow in that way, so I’ll either have to move within the company or figure something else out probably. My job is sort of “policy analyst” but involves quite a bit of code-adjacent work as well; the people who work/live/travel internationally at our company are much more client relations-based.

    4. Buttons*

      I worked all over the world, before coming back to the US a few years ago, and I intentionally job hunted for companies that were global, because as soon as I finished grad school I was determined to live in Europe, Australia, and eventually I settled in Canada for many many years.
      Even though I am no longer interested in living in place other than the US or Canada, I still chose a global company. I work for a technology company (LOTS of every kind of engineer, software developers, etc) , and we have offices all over the world. We have a formal program that allows people to be assigned to different regions. During employee self-evaluations we ask them to update their personal information and one of the questions is, would you be willing to relocate to a different country? And then they select which countries they are interested in moving to. Typically, assignees go for 2 years.
      I know that in Canada Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) helps people make the transition into Canada because of regulatory differences.
      So my advice: find a company that has global offices, reach out to your professional organization in what every country/city you want to live in. They will have tons of resources.

    5. RecoveringSWO*

      It’s not a perfect fit, since you’d be working for a US company, but the US Army Corps of Engineers employees civil servants throughout the world. A former coworker of mine did a bunch of international rotations while working for them. I’d check out USAJobs and see where USACE and other agencies are placing engineers.

  21. Snubble*

    In the Sagas of Bella, the Affliction, we enter a phase of increasing revelations about just how little this department is being managed at all. The backlog wouldn’t exist if someone was keeping a list of the llamas.The department inbox is in the hands of a parttimer who repeats daily that she doesn’t have time to both groom her llamas (who all have special requirements, under the theory that there are fewer of those) and manage the inbox, and Bella glares and repeats that she needs to catch up. I’m not an expert, but I feel there are other available solutions than leaving it in the hands of the person who says she can’t solve it.
    I’m warming up to Boy Blue a little. I don’t like him personally, but he does spend most of his time wokring and can keep track of his own tasks. Bella spends probably 20% of her time making personal phonecalls, so the bar isn’t high, but he’s meeting it!

  22. Sharkie*

    I am struggling with taking time off.
    Honestly, I think I am afraid that I will always have ball in the air and if I take any time off no one will catch them. It’s not deadline work it’s just little things. I also hate feeling like me taking time off will leave my co-workers in a pinch. Is this a normal feeling?

    1. secret chart*

      It’s a normal feeling that can fluctuate with how much, in fact, will fall down when you’re not there. That’s not a reason not to take vacation, of course, but it does mean that you’re gonna spend the first couple days you’re back picking up balls.

      In the third-previous job, if I went away for a day, my boss would find a way to delete important documents and generally make a giant mess in ways I don’t even understand how it was possible. When I left for a week in the following job, it was a breath of fresh air that I could leave and no one would destroy anything.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        That feels so familiar…I came back once to find that ‘the database broke.’ Code for “the boss didn’t want the file to be so big so deleted unused components.” And of course they weren’t unused.
        And I’m not a database developer, so I had to develop new skills quickly.

    2. merp*

      I’ve been there but I think it’s really worth it to talk through this with someone you trust! If it’s just little things, maybe making a list and figuring out who could take care of what. And, if they’ll be helpful, maybe your manager can be part of this – see if you can figure out a good time to take time off together. If it’s coming from a place of anxiety, maybe give some anxiety coping methods a try and see if they work for you?

      1. merp*

        Wait, phrasing – by “see if you can figure out a good time to take time off together” I meant “talk with your manager and decide together when might be a good time for you to take time off.” Not like, taking time off with your manager. That was probably clear but wanted to fix it, haha.

      2. Sharkie*

        My boss and I are the only ones in the department and he is wayyy to busy to do all the grunt tasks every day

        1. QCI*

          But at the end of the day, that’s your bosses problem, not yours. You’re entitled to that time off.

          1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

            Right. It’s ultimately a leadership decision not to staff appropriately, ensure enough staffing and resources to cross-train, etc.

    3. rayray*

      I think it is normal to feel that way, but please allow yourself to put yourself first. Everyone needs vacations, sick days, or mental health days. You’ve earned it and are entitled to use it. If you’re worried about deadlines and such, try talking to managers or coworkers about coverage while you’re gone. See if any cross-training can be done so there’s someone to pitch in when you need time off.

      Taking time off is good for you. Take a break to enjoy yourself and to recharge.

      1. Sharkie*

        I wanted to take a mental health day today but I just couldn’t do it. I think it’s a mental thing. My parents would not let me or my siblings stay home from school unless we were gushing blood or throwing up (or throwing up blood) and that mindset is ingrained in me. I do think it has caused some unhealthy habits -recently my dad was hit by a car while walking the dog and was at work the next morning against doctor’s orders- so I trying to break the cycle. I just physically can’t allow myself to relax.

        1. rayray*

          I understand how you feel. What if you scheduled your mental health day in advance? That way people are prepped for you to not be there, and you might feel less guilty. That’s the way I do it. I know it doesn’t help if today you woke up wanting the mental health day, but it is nice to plan it out and not feel guilty that your coworkers got sprung with your work with no notice. Depending on how much notice your office needs, you could just pick a Friday coming up and say you are getting out for the weekend.

          Now, if your office is unreasonable about granting time off requests or if it’s one of those “you have to be sick to use sick days” then just try to be okay with the idea of a mental health day and call in the morning. Mental health days are so great and so necessary once in a while.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            Yes. I have scads of accrued time off, and this year I decided I would schedule some Fridays off for day-cations. I live in a highly touristed area with lots of wonderful things to see and do–but do I ever go? I am now, on weekdays, and let the tourists have the weekends.

        2. Reba*

          Re: mindset, maybe you can try to frame it in a new way. Taking time off isn’t selfish or lazy or harming your workplace. On the contrary, taking time off is part of being a *good* worker, in that it guards against burnout and refreshes you so you can keep working well.

          Or, another possibly more cynical way of looking at it is that your company doesn’t really care about you when it comes down to it. (I mean in the sense of “loyalty” to the org when they would cut you loose whenever it would benefit them.) You are the one who has has to take care of yourself. If you never use time off, you’re not claiming all the compensation that was part of the deal with your company. You don’t owe them every day of your life! You owe them a reasonable amount of work.

          (I know many companies and managers DO care!)

          Fwiw the perfect attendance award approach to life has just never spoken to me. I definitely got the “work hard, try your best” messaging in other ways!

        3. !*

          Is this about how worrying about leaving your coworkers in the lurch (which you certainly would not be!) or what your parents would think if you took time off (for whatever reason, it’s your life!). Like another poster said, grit your teeth and take a day, it does get easier, and for some of us we LIVE for our vacation days… Vacation/sick days are crucial to your mental and physical health, everyone needs some down time, I don’t care what your parents say/do, they are wrong about this. That your father went to work the next morning, after being hit by a car, against doctor’s orders speaks volumes that he’s not putting himself first. You gotta take care of you first.

          1. Sharkie*

            Oh no- my parents don’t care about if I take days off or not. They just have a strong work ethic and that was ingrained in us- with some unforeseen side effects.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One of my friends once told me I had an overdeveloped Protestant work ethic. I laughed, but she taught me to relax. Mostly.

    4. Not A Real Accountant*

      Unfortunately, that does seem to be a very normal feeling… hopefully your workplace is able to handle this, because taking time off is very important, should be a totally normal thing, and you need to take care of yourself.

      Do you have anyone specific (always helps to have a specific person/specific people, not just “the pool of coworkers in general”) who can cover those little things for you, or keep an eye on any of those balls? Maybe spend a little time going over those kind of things before you head out, and that might help you feel better about leaving.

    5. Kathenus*

      My advice is similar to people who are dealing with unrealistic workloads either from their core job or trying to fill multiple roles at once during short staffing. If you can’t (or feel you can’t) take any time off without important tasks being undone, that’s the problem to solve now both for your mental health and ability to use your time off as you should, and for the needs of the business because they should be able to absorb someone being gone without a negative impact since it’s inevitable that it will occur at times – either planned like time off or unplanned if someone leaves or has an emergency and is out.

      Maybe start with looking at your tasks and listing them out. From there you could look at both prioritization of what absolutely has to be done, and also what the schedule/frequency is for tasks. By delineating them out it may make it easier to see what areas there could be changes in (reduced expectations when there is shorter staffing, delegation options, efficiencies, etc.).

      Then agree with meeting with your manager to discuss how to cover when someone is out since it will happen at some point, and since you need to be able to take your time off without stress or guilt. But I think it’s about finding a long-term plan for how to deal with work when someone is out, I don’t think that you should have to work out specific times that are ‘good’ for you to be able to be off, that’s too limiting. I’m not talking about things like the holidays or exceptionally busy periods for your business, but for general operating there needs to be a plan to function with reduced staffing in a reasonable way. Good luck.

    6. Dana B.S.*

      The best way to get over this feeling? Take vacation days! Each one will feel a little bit easier. If it doesn’t, then that’s something that you need to address with your manager – better planning, better ways to ask for assistance. Or your company’s culture is not very good and you will never feel comfortable.

    7. Quinalla*

      I think it is somewhat normal to feel this way, but also, just figure out a way to delegate tasks or just let your boss know that X won’t get done until I am back. The little things especially I wouldn’t sweat, but again, just let your boss know that those things can wait until you are back.

      You need to take your time off, it is important. And honestly, sometimes I think about it this way, the few times I had to be out unexpectedly – emergency, very ill, accidental fall and ER trip – work always managed while I was gone and that was with no notice. If you prep people for your time out, it will be fine! Yes, you might have to do catch up when you get back, still worth it.

      And honestly, I find taking more time off is easier than just taking a day off. For a day off, I usually just cram all my work into the days before or pick up after, when I’m out for a week, I have no choice but to delegate. So maybe take a week off, it sounds counter-intuitive, but it might be easier :)

    8. Heat's Kitchen*

      I think it’s normal, but I’m going to throw something a bit morbid at you. This has helped me (and my husband who sounds a lot like you), get on board with taking time off.

      What would happen if you got hit by a bus tomorrow and were in a coma for a few weeks*? They might struggle through some things you have in the air, fumble a bit with unexpected items, but they’d deal. If you take your PTO, you can plan ahead. You can make contingencies. I’ve even offered to have phone calls that are quick on my day off for emergencies. Otherwise, colleagues can determine if their work for you can wait a few days.

      Take the time. It’s good for you. It’s good for the company. Work isn’t everything.

      *this is assuming you’d fall under FMLA/Disability/would be expected and able to return to work after a not short, but not super long, period of time.

    9. Buttons*

      This was how I was, and part of it was because if I am not here, there is literally no one else to do any part of my job. Then, a few years ago, I got viral pneumonia. I was in the hospital for 3 days, then I was home for weeks and weeks. I work from home, and I didn’t take any time off. None. I was literally laying in bed, doing a breathing treatment, while typing. I couldn’t talk without wheezing, and I still led all my scheduled webinars. Not once did my boss tell me to reschedule, or take time off, my grand boss didn’t even send me an email when I emailed her and my direct boss that I was in the hospital with pneumonia. It took me 3-4 months to recover fully from that. Once I was fully recovered I realized how ridiculous the whole thing was. I should have at least taken a couple of weeks off. It taught me that they will literally work us to death if we let them.
      So I recently took 2 weeks off, and didn’t once check email or text with any of my employees or boss. They can handle anything that comes up, or not. I don’t care. It was glorious, and you know what? Nothing happened. The place didn’t fall apart without me.
      Take time off, you earned it. You need it. It is yours.

    10. Lucy Preston*

      I feel like it shouldn’t be normal, but for me it is. Want to take off a few days, just for down time. Boss had a looming deadline this week, for which they often seek my input, so felt obligated not to go anywhere the last 2 weeks. Now 3 new short-term projects have popped up.
      Then I also have to get beyond the “it won’t get done the right way without me here” attitude. I use things like yesterday when all the co-workers ran out the door ahead of me yesterday and none of them seemed to remember that we had to lock up the place first (this is a standard thing on days when the boss leaves first, like yesterday).

    11. The Rat-Catcher*

      I don’t know what country you are in, but the US is notorious for hiring the bare minimum number of staff needed, creating gaps if anyone takes off. This is your company’s decision and their responsibility to figure out what that means when people take off.
      Alternately: do you feel “in a pinch” when your coworkers take PTO? If not, it stands to reason that they don’t feel that way about your time off either. If you do, at least you probably recognize that this is company’s fault for not figuring out coverage or pushing back low priority tasks or any other of a plethora of solutions available to them. Please take your time off.

  23. Christina*

    Has anyone gone through Google Analytics training and/or certification? Any suggestions and did you find it helpful? Managing our website content is part of my job, and I’m trying to get a handle on our analytics, which exist, but we’ve never really used them for anything and they’re likely very out of whack (we don’t currently have any filtering set up to ignore our staff using our site).

    I’m also interested in figuring out how to use campaigns that track social media and email activity, so…this will be interesting and definitely a new skill for me!

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I have! And yes it was incredibly helpful. The trainings are very in depth and if you’re going to use their platform (which is really good) you should absolutely take the courses.

    2. IJustTookADNATestTurnsOut*

      I’ve done Analytics and AdWords, and both were great. I learned a ton, and it’s especially fun to do the training when you’re in a position where you can instantly put your new knowledge to work! Definitely recommend.

    3. spock*

      Caveat that I only read analytics reports rather than generating them, but I wouldn’t worry too much about recording your staff unless your traffic is very low, in which case analytics might not be super useful compared to user studies?

  24. rayray*

    What is it with people having zero or almost negative patience for new employees? I understand it’s not easy to train people and I also know how you get used to a routine, you forget to point out details you’re so used to. I just think people need to realize that someone could be very competent and experienced in their field, but at a new office, they have to learn how *that* office functions and how the culture is. You need to learn how things are filed, how supplies are ordered, what things are okay to take from the supply closet and what isn’t, the etiquette for office parties, how meetings are ran etc. So many things differ from one office to the next, and I’ve definitely been scolded/sighed at/yelled at for things I didn’t know about when I was still learning. For example, a manager lost it with me because I’d had the audacity to use bigger paperclips (which were provided to me at my desk) instead of the little ones she prefers. I remember another job where a coworker had missed an important step in my training and then yelled at me till I cried because it wasn’t done. It was one of those things she was so use to doing that it didn’t occur to her to be diligent in pointing it out to me because apparently, I should have just known.

    But yeah… New employees need time to adjust and learn. Just try to be patient, and remember they need to be told things even if you think it seems obvious. You’d be surprised the things people won’t just catch on to immediately, (like preferred size of paperclips)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I’ve always suspected that places like this are running on not quite enough staff, so when people are asked to slow down to help a new employee (but still maintain normal productivity), it’s a step too far. Any other red flags?

      1. Not A Real Accountant*

        That’s definitely the case at my place (as a result I still don’t know how to refill the postage machine; here’s hoping the two who do don’t go on vacation at the same time!).

        But on the other hand, if you are a real accountant, and you’ve been here eight months… and are still adding up duplicate invoices for payment… I don’t know what to tell you.

    2. DamitsDevon*

      The people in your office seem unnecessarily harsh? I’ve been a new employee in a few high pressure jobs (like answering a domestic violence hotline) and people were still very patient with me.

      At my current job, we did have one person who seemed to get impatient when new employees made a mistake because no one told them how not to make the mistake or didn’t know how to do something because not they hadn’t learned how to do it yet. However, that person resigned a few months, possibly to avoid being fired, so i don’t think even the other veteran employees at the office could deal with her attitude.

      1. rayray*

        The woman who yelled at me at the one job – so she was older and her daughter was a manager. It was a law firm, and my first out of college job. I strongly suspect that she was still kinda baby-ing her adult daughter, and knew that mistakes made would give her more work. The place wasn’t well staffed as Dust Bunny suggested it might be, and that was definitely part of it. So it was an unusual situation, and maybe an extreme example, but I remember taking on task to go make copies just to get away from her and another attorney noticed I was upset, and he calmed me down and told me it was okay and no mistake I make was that detrimental. I think he talked to her about it.

    3. Jamie*

      Your examples indicate a very toxic office. No way yelling about paperclip or berating someone until they cry are signs of people being reasonable otherwise.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        Well, there was a toxic workplace I worked at once years ago. I recently looked up at Glassdoor and it has a 1.5 star rating. It’s a small manufacturing company with high turnover. The CEO yelled at people constantly. I was yelled at for not using a certain kind of pencil to take notes, but there was no reason given why I had to use that kind of pencil. I seriously think he was OCD. That was one of the few jobs I’ve ever quit as an adult, and only because I saw him lose his temper so much at so many people for little things — was like 20 or so years ago when I had it. Workplace bullies do exist.

    4. Chronic Overthinker*

      I know the feeling! I just finished my probationary period and I am nailing the routine tasks but am still learning about all the personalities of the office and adapting my behaviors to each individual. I got to the point where I actually created an SOP file for each team member to remind myself how they each operate. It seems like overkill, but I know they appreciate it, as I am paying attention to details that others might miss.

    5. Michelle*

      I completely agree. I’ve seen managers sigh and practically push a person away from the registration computer because they were not going “fast enough”. When the customer left, I pulled the manager to the side and reminded them that these was the “new person’s first day so they don’t know how to run the registration program, you are supposed to be training them and by the way, pushing a employee, especially in front of customers, is not a good look and could get you in trouble”. They looked at me like I was speaking a language they didn’t understand. They interviewed and hired this person, they should have an idea about what skills this person has and what computer programs they have knowledge of. We were all newbies once upon a time. A little patience can create a great amount of good will.

    6. Just Another Manic Millie*

      This reminds me of a job I had working for a stockbroker. I got the job through an employment agency. The employment agency guy told me that experience working for a stockbroker wasn’t necessary. So did the branch manager. So did the office manager. So did the stockbroker. So did his son, who was also a stockbroker. So did his sales assistant, who told me that he would be the one who would train me. But when I started the job, I found out that experience was necessary, because no one, especially the sales assistant, was interested in training me.
      People said that he didn’t want to train me because he was afraid that if I became very good at my job, he would be fired.

      Then they jerked me around. They sent me on an interview for a similar job at a branch office, but they gave me the wrong address, so by the time I got to where I was supposed to be, I was very late. And I did not get the job. Then they created a brand new job for me. I was thrilled. Then they said that they didn’t get approval from headquarters for my new job and resulting salary. I continued to work at that new job and get paid. Then they told me that I had a limited amount of time to look for a new job elsewhere while continuing to get paid. I managed to find a new job, and I gave two weeks notice after I was there for four months. When I gave notice, I was told oh gee, they had just that second gotten approval from headquarters for my new job there, but too bad, I had just given notice. (I did not believe them for one second.) And then I found out that they were angry at me for having quit, because they owed the employment agency the full fee, because I had worked for them for over three months.

      The training that I got was from an employee with a similar job who started working at that company two weeks before I did. What’s funny is that he found a new job around the same time that I did.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I quit a job when the manager screamed at me for making a mistake — on day three. Literally screamed. It was an accounting office, and I’d been hired as the receptionist. They also assigned me payroll duties (for a client!) that weren’t mentioned in the interview, and expected me to help them do personal stuff for their church activities. The screaming was so over the top.

      If they’ve been in the job for a while, people do forget what it’s like to adjust to a new workplace. But managers and coworkers should not be actually yelling at you for stuff like that.

    8. LabTechNoMore*

      I see so much of this too, and also don’t understand it. I typically say that good at training new employees, but really I just answer questions and understand that if I didn’t show them a step during training, then they will not do that step. It’s not that I’m good at training, I just don’t hold new employees to the unreasonable standards that many others seem to.

      1. blackcatlady*

        Sigh. We get postbacs in the lab and I get to train them. I just go in knowing I will have to suspend my work and work one on one for several weeks. Depending on the person it can be fast or painfully slow. But I set up experiments that will teach them and we do it together. Obviously different from business world. Having patience helps!

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      Yelled at you for using the “wrong” size of paperclips? I’d have looked at that manager like they just sprouted a male urination appendage in the middle of their forehead.

      Yelling at you until you cried over missing a step that they forgot to train you on? Hello, let me update my resume, this is intolerable.

      Seriously, expecting a new person to perform like they’ve been there for years is ludicrous. If they miss something, it is incumbent on the person who trained them to correct the omission or error in their training. If it happens on the same process more than three times, then they might need to have a quality check: “What is it about Teapot polishing that is tripping you up? I’ve gone over what polishes and emery cloths to use at what stage and how long each needs to be done for. Can you polish one while I watch to make sure that we haven’t left out a step?”

    10. Dove*

      I recently found out that the most likely reason why the employment agency got told not to send me back to the plastics factory I did one shift for, is because the plastics factory doesn’t want to have to train its workers. Which doesn’t really work well when they’re also wanting the employees to do complex tasks that *require* training in order to do properly.

      As it turns out, the plastics factory also has a reputation for going through temps like crazy.

    11. MissDisplaced*

      IDK I’ve almost never got any training at the places I’ve worked at. For my job, it’s expected you’ll hit the ground running.
      But I’ve also never got training on basic things like expenses or purchase orders either. It can really suck and suck time trying to figure all this out, and yes people get annoyed at you. As if you’d know, because every company does these things differently!!!!

      The office admins always DID know, but unfortunately so many companies have cut support staff.

  25. Amber Rose*

    Fair warning, this post/question is not a pleasant one, and deals with death.
    .
    .
    .

    OK. Last week, probably Friday, my coworker’s brother took his own life. The kid actually worked here for a while, I posted about him two years ago since he wouldn’t look anyone in the eye or talk much even when asked a direct question and definitely seemed to be struggling with some kind of severe anxiety at least. Despite my efforts to make this a safe-ish workplace for him, the stress became too much and he quit. And now he’s dead. So. That… is hard.

    In response to this, the company has decided to make a charity centered around suicide our annual Christmas charity. On the one hand, I think it’s a nice thought and I understand we’re all trying to be supportive. On the other hand, I’m worried that it’s basically going to mean every money raising thing we do from now on is gonna be like holding up a megaphone at him and yelling “HEY REMEMBER HOW YOUR BROTHER IS DEAD”

    Am I overthinking this?

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      Oh, how sad, I’m so sorry. I would assume the company reached out to the survivors in some way to check this with them, if it didn’t directly involve me I wouldn’t necessarily get involved other than perhaps share a kind word to the coworker or let them know you’re there if they want to talk.

    2. Jennifer Strange*

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it; this is a tough situation to navigate! Has the company actually spoken with the coworker about how he feels about this? Obviously centering a charitable effort on suicide doesn’t mean it’s specifically about him and his family – though that does seem to have been the impetus on choosing to focus on this particular topic. It might be nice to confirm that having a charity program centered around something that hits so close to home isn’t going to some how make the grieving process even harder for him.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t know. It was my boss’s idea, and I know she (and a bunch of others) went to the funeral and spoke with my coworker and stuff. But it was someone else who approached me and asked if I was OK with us switching from the charity we’d voted on a week ago, one to do with kid’s cancer.

        I said I was OK with it without thinking, but the more time goes on the more uneasy I feel.

        1. Holly*

          Wait, I’m confused – so the coworker and his family said they were okay with the suicide prevention charity, but someone else randomly wants it to be switched? Or did the coworker say he was uncomfortable? Because it could be extremely offensive if this *was* something the coworker appreciated and then it was switched on a whim

          1. Amber Rose*

            No, we voted this year on a charity to do with kid’s cancer, that was a week or two ago. After we learned about this whole thing, my boss suggested we switch to a suicide prevention charity, which I heard about through a different person who was going around making sure everyone was OK with the switch.

            All I know is it was my boss’s idea. I know she talked to him, but I don’t know if she talked to him about this specifically.

            1. CAA*

              I think you should raise your concerns with your boss. Just ask her if she talked to him about switching charities and say that you’re wondering if it might be too much for him this year, since his loss is so recent and raw. If she says that he okayed it then your concerns are addressed. If he didn’t okay it, then at least you’ve given her the idea that she should have that conversation before proceeding and the ball’s in her court at that point.

              I once had an employee whose wife committed suicide. It’s a very difficult situation for all, and I’m sorry that you’re having to navigate this.

        2. MoopySwarpet*

          If you have any standing to say so now, I think keeping the original charity and adding the suicide charity to the list to be voted on for next year might be more appropriate.

    3. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I don’t think you’re overthinking it. Maybe suggest to whoever is responsible for choosing the charity that someone ask coworker if he’s okay with it. On one hand, he might be appreciative and touched, but it might also be too much of a reminder too soon.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        I’d second this.

        Also, be aware that it might be ok the day the coworker is asked, but might still bring up pain at unexpected times. Which might be ok. Depends on the coworker.

        I still have trouble working with folks dealing with substance abuse recovery because my brother recently died of some combination of his addiction behaviors and addiction-related health conditions. Some days are good, some are really not so much.

    4. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting: that’s exactly how I felt when my best friend died and people kept giving me condolences. But he might feel differently, and I feel like someone should definitely ask him how he feels about it (with the understanding that his feelings will be taken into account – if it’s just a token gesture and they go through with it anyway, there’s no point).

    5. juliebulie*

      I’m so sorry. That must have been a shock.

      I think the annual thing is okay as long as it was cleared with your coworker. I doubt that yelling “YOUR BROTHER IS DEAD” into a megaphone will make much of a difference to your coworker, who will be thinking the same thing 24/7 for a very long time. It’s possible that he will hear that as “HEY WE REMEMBER THAT YOUR BROTHER EXISTED AND WE ARE TRYING TO MAKE THIS MEAN SOMETHING,” which is what they probably intend.

      I lost a coworker recently (I believe you were one of the nice people who gave me advice at the time), and it’s weird to see her cubicle every day. Often it feels as though I’m the only one who remembers her, because no one ever mentions her. It’s like she never existed. I would be comforted if we had an annual fund in her memory. Perhaps your coworker feels the same.

        1. LurkerVA*

          This. I agree that they should check with the coworker. Every situation is different obviously, but I’ve found that the survivors I know (and sadly I know several) would rather someone recognize their loved one vs. pretending it didn’t happen or tiptoeing around it.

      1. bdg*

        This is spot on, imo. My dad died a few months ago. I think about it a lot, so there’s no point in worrying that you’d be reminding me that he died of cancer. I already remember. The only thing that makes it worse is the “he’s in a better place” or “he’s free of pain” sort of platitudes. I like when people say something to me. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one who’s sad that he’s dead.

      2. Dana B.S.*

        I agree – your co-worker is already thinking about it no matter what. Plus, everyone else at your company would like to do something to honor him in their own way as well since many people knew him.

        My cousin ran a non-profit for a few years that provided grief counseling. She said that it is quite common for grieving individuals to use their grief to fuel a campaign for awareness, prevention, etc. So your co-worker may actually be completely on board.

      3. Rachel in NYC*

        I agree. Shortly after I started at my current job- maybe 6 months- we lost a co-worker at a hit-and-run. He’d been a long time employee and it was hard for everyone. The office arranged transport for the wake and the funeral for anyone who wanted to go. But afterwards, they also added a wooden plaque in our office- it’s small but daily reminder that he was here and mattered.

    6. Snorkmaiden*

      Charities like this get a lot of their fundraising contributions from people donating in someone’s memory. Lots of people find it meaningful and the charity will know how to navigate it in terms of any promo stuff also.

    7. QCI*

      Don’t make every charity campaign about suicide prevention, put it on rotation. He isn’t the first and wont be the last to be directly affected by it, but I’m sure he’d rather not bring it up every time there’s a charity either.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Grief varies for people. Some might totally appreciate the remembrance at Christmas. Others may prefer for it to be January RIGHT NOW. And there’s a bunch of reactions in between.

      It concerns me that the boss changed charities. I think it’s more important to either pick a charity and stay with it OR decide to do a rotational thing. If she drops this charity in favor of a more recent death, I think that could be pretty hurtful.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Sorry I was unclear with my original post. Our charities always rotate. We never do the same one twice, or at least, until we run out of charities.

    9. Anono-me*

      It might be helpful to check the obituary to see if there’s any request for donations to X charity in lieu of flowers comment. (Probably check the onlime obit from the funeral home as those tend to be much longer than the ones in the local paper.) That might give you some clues as to how the family feels and an opening to discuss the charity choice with your boss.

      I do want to add that I think you’re being incredibly compassionate and farsighted to be concerned about this.

  26. merp*

    I feel like I have to admit this somewhere. Earlier this week at about 9am I crouched to get a book for a patron (which I do approx. 1000 times a day, feels like) and my pants split. Faced with either confessing and taking time to go home to change, or going out to buy pants on a break…. I opted instead to just wear a long cardigan all day, given that it wasn’t visible from the front. Every time I got another book or crossed my legs I could feel the tear getting worse, but I got away with it! Felt like I was carrying around this weird secret all day, but seriously, the other options weren’t great – no place nearby to get clothes, would have had to get coverage to go home, etc. RIP (heh, puns) to my fave work pants :(

    Anyone have fun embarrassing stories to share so I feel less like a weirdo?

    1. Lieutenant Jingles*

      Oh I had the exact same incident. Bent down, RIPPPPPP, bye bye old dress trousers. I had to wear my shawl around my waist like a weird apron over my dress pants! thank god everybody was kind enough not to point out how weird that look was.

      1. The Dread Pirate Buttercup*

        Can do you one better. About ten years ago, my weekends were double shift, eight hours off, then another full shift plus four hours on for a couple of years. I started taking pole dancing classes right after my 12-hour shift (so much caffeine and stress, who could sleep?), but did not have time to stop off home and change between shifts, so I’d sleep on the office couch, plus our boss was a little super-paranoid about us bringing personal possessions into the business (it was… not non-toxic). So, I’d wear exercise-suitable pants and a t-shirt under my top and, not to put too fine a point on it, peel off my undies and stick them in a plastic bag in my purse at some point.

        All of which was _fine_, couldn’t possibly be any better.

        Until one day, I was called up to demonstrate a move resembling a deep plié in second position.

        The pants I was wearing split all down the _front_, and I exposed myself as a natural redhead to fifteen non-consenting bachelorettes.

        I want to say that I made some sort of quip and apologized and made it right, but I just left and never came back.

    2. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

      Oh, I’ve had that happen too! Wore my sweater around my waist the entire day and prayed they wouldn’t fall apart completely…

    3. Ali G*

      I was once on the metro on my way to work and I felt like people were either staring or trying not to stare at me. Feeling self-conscious, I turned and caught my reflection in the window. My shirt had burst wide open and I was actively flashing my bra to the entire packed train car. I got off at the next stop, even though it wasn’t my destination.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Once left the restroom with the end of my sash-type belt tucked into my pantyhose . . . holding the skirt of my dress up for all the world to see. I made it halfway across the party before a coworker noticed and dived to pull the sash out of my waistband.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      Yep! I worked in a bakery in high school and ended up finding a $10 pair of Abercrombie and Fitch jeans in TJ Maxx. I fell in love with them and wore them quite often. Wore them to work one day and crouched down to put some cakes in the display and RIP! Right down the back seam. The denim was a lighter denim material so it wore out quicker. I ended up turning my apron around to cover my butt. Luckily it was shortly before closing. :)

    6. Panda*

      You handled it well!

      Once, I leaked through a pad all over my office chair while having a horribly heavy period. I went into my boss’s office crying who sent me home to change and called Facilities to clean my chair ASAP. By the time I got back, the chair was clean and she had a different chair there for me to use while it was drying.

      PS. The hysterectomy I had after that incident was the best decision!

    7. whatthemell?*

      Lolol!!

      Back when I was waitressing at a ridiculously busy restaurant, my work pants split in the back during my shift. We wore apron-type uniforms over our white oxfords and black pants so I put a towel folded over in the back where the apron was tied in order to cover my ass – literally and figuratively!

      So embarrassing, someone actually saw it happen and when he saw it he said “I saw your pink underwear!” but it was actually my butt – I wasn’t wearing pink underwear!

    8. Quill*

      I tore the entire butt off my pants falling down a mountain on a school trip. We’re talking like entire pocket came off, postcard sized hole.

      Then I had to walk all the way back to where we were staying like that… Everyone in that small mountain village has now seen that I wear light pink bikini cut panties.

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I once had a meeting with representatives of our most important vendor. I had been at the table talking to these people for around 45 minutes when I slipped out to use the restroom. When I went to push up my sleeves at the sink, I realized my blouse was inside out. I had been sitting at a table with my boss, her boss, his boss, and several VIP’s from the vendor, and my blouse had been inside out the entire time, and nobody said a word!

      1. German Girl*

        Yeah, that happened to me, too, except it was a more casual office so I was wearing my pullover inside out.

    10. Urdnot Bakara*

      I realized at the end of our biggest event of the year that my favorite work pants had a huge hole on the front in the crotch area. No one said anything to me so hopefully it wasn’t noticeable and I wasn’t like, flashing bright pink underwear to all 2000 attendees.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I have a fear of this. I almost always try to wear underwear that matches the pants.
        So, black panties and black pants, beige with tan, blue with blue, etc.

    11. Goldfinch*

      I used to keep a tie-belted cardigan on the back of my office chair, for days when the A/C was insane (so, every day). I once lost track of all my layers while fumbling in the bathroom stall, and ended up dipping over half the belt into the toilet. I had to carry the dripping belt to the sink, rinse it for fifty years, and then stick it in an old grocery bag until I could get it home and run it through the wash a thousand times.

      The cardigan is retired and has been replaced with a button-up version.

      1. A Poster Has No Name*

        I had a long maxi skirt on one day and didn’t pull it all the way up in the back and basically peed all over it. Spent a good long time at the sink rinsing it.

        Thankfully it was a black skirt.

    12. juliebulie*

      Long, long ago, while visiting a friend in Chicago who didn’t have a car…

      We took the el to a bus stop, or something like that… I just remember we were seated for a while and then kinda far from her place. We had to walk to the next stop, and with each step, I could feel my pantyhose slipping down, down, down. (Support hose are the WORST.)

      There weren’t any other people at the bus stop at that moment, so I hid behind the bench and pulled my hose up. (Wondering if anyone in the large apartment building across the street was looking.) That was a mistake – I should have taken them off, because they were even worse-behaved after we got off the next bus. Next thing I knew, they were below my knees. Luckily my dress was a little longer, so even though I was walking funny by the time we got to our destination (with a restroom), hopefully at least no one could see the crotch of the hose.

      This was in 1995, btw… I haven’t worn hose since 2002.

      Also: A few years ago I went to a Six Flags park where I sweated like crazy. Thanks to the particular type of fabric of my shorts, it looked as though I had wet myself. I had to buy new pants at a gift shop. These were longer and warmer, but at least it didn’t look like pee.

      1. juliebulie*

        I should mention, the pantyhose thing was work-related. My friend was a trainer and we were going to a gig. (The Six Flags thing was not technically work-related, but roller coasters are essential for my mental health.)

    13. Former Govt Contractor*

      I have two, both while working at Very Conservative Law Firm. On my way up the scale I split my pencil skirt right up the back. Dashed out to the nearest clothing store to replace my skirt without anyone figuring out what happened, which wasn’t easy since it was lime green. Then years later on my way back down the scale, I was in the main lobby of our huge upscale office tower talking to a male coworker when my slip, true to its name, slipped right off my hips and fell in a heap at my feet. I stepped out of it and picked it up quickly, he either didn’t notice or acted like he didn’t.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’ve lost some weight and I have a slip that’s a bit old and its elastic is failing. This is a bad combination. Yesterday I was walking down the hall and it fell right off. Luckily, no one was around. I scooped it up and headed right for the bathroom to put it back on.

    14. Anona*

      One time before a meeting, I was chewing my pen and it exploded in my mouth. My teeth were blue. I had to scrub my mouth out with soap.

      1. Lalaith*

        This happened to my 7th grade math teacher once while we were in class. He tried to wipe his tongue on a carpet sample! >_<

        (He had a carpet sample because we were doing a house-designing project)

      2. Jaydee*

        I have strict requirements for the types of pens I will buy/use to prevent just this sort of thing from happening. Because of past experiences. Plural.

    15. magnusarchivist*

      I was once walking back from lunch with coworkers when a random woman rushed up very close behind me on a busy city street and whispered to me that the zipper teeth had pulled apart on the back of my skirt. The old, worn out zipper was gaping open between the hook and eye at the waistband and the bottom of the zipper. The entire street — and any colleagues behind me — could most definitely see a lot of my brightly colored underwear. I immediately took off my jacket, tied it around my waist, began the long, hard work of convincing myself that the coworkers behind me hadn’t noticed. (If they had, they would have discreetly said something, right? Right?)

      Fixed it when I got back to the office but the skirt went in the bin at the end of the day.

    16. JaneB*

      I interviewed for and got my current job with the inner leg seam of the right leg of my pants held together with kids sticking plasters because they were the only thing I could find that was sticky after a freak train seat incident led to the failure of the seam…

    17. Uniform mishap*

      I was in the middle of an airfield, helping with a demonstration when the crotch of my trousers ripped. Discretely mentioned it to the only woman there I trusted to not blab about it who assured me it wasn’t visible. Spent the rest of the day (mostly lectures thankfully) sat with my jacket across my lap.

      Nine times out of ten, if I’m kneeling down at work, I feel the floor first to check if it’s clean (or at least dry). Ideally, I try not to kneel at all but I get fizzy feet if I crouch or squat down too long. The tenth time, I don’t have time to check… and I can almost guarantee there is something unidentifiable on the floor. That feeling of your knee getting slowly wet is not something you get used to! And usually results in a uniform change.

      1. Zephy*

        I used to work at an animal shelter. Kneeling in something was a weekly occurrence. Usually, I choose to believe, the floor was wet because it was recently mopped. I couldn’t really do anything about it at the time, though – never had the foresight to keep a spare pair of pants at work, and home was too far to go and change.

    18. Amber Rose*

      Not me, but my boss now keeps two extra pairs of pants in her office after tearing holes in the ones she was wearing during meetings with suppliers on three separate occasions.

    19. Mortified*

      I was once working in a 24 hour bar at an airport when my pants ripped while picking up some dropped coffee lids. And not at the back either, all along an inside seam. Before 7 am, when our office with replacement uniforms wouldn’t be open till after 9. I had to wear an apron over my pants until they opened, and when they had none in my size, they had to send me in a taxi to a shop in the nearby town to buy pants (they were required to provide a uniform). I basically told my coworkers I was staying in the back to wash dishes until I could get things sorted…

    20. Parenthetically*

      Have totally had that happen at work and was able to fix the split with the STAPLER of all things, which lasted long enough for me to make it to the end of the day and actually mend them!

    21. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

      At the end of the school day I thought I heard my pants rip. I discreetly felt behind me, but didn’t feel anything. So I cheerfully head to the bus, passing lots of kids, and sit on the metal bench. Which is when I realized that yes, indeed my pants were ripped because my leg was now exposed against the cold metal! I very coolly wrapped my raincoat around my waist and pretended nothing was wrong. None of the kids acted weird, so maybe they didn’t notice!

    22. WKRP*

      Same scenario, different clothing. I was in the bathroom and preparing to leave. Leaned over to pull up my tights and the zipper on the back of my dress popped open, leaving my entire middle back exposed. I was able to side skulk along the wall back to my desk, where I was able to put on my jacket, which JUST covered the exposed area.

      Worse still, I had a tour to give to a group of people and couldn’t run out to fix the situation until after it was over. I spent the whole tour obsessively checking my back with my hand.

      Then ran to the department store down the street (super lucky!) and bought an entirely new dress. Nothing like being potentially exposed on a NYC street.

    23. Not A Real Accountant*

      Well, I wore my usual trousers to work all work all week (until today; we’re allowed jeans on friday) and didn’t notice the rip in the thigh until I put them in the laundry basket last night! It’s high up on the inner thigh (hooray for friction, my trousers would last so much longer otherwise) so I don’t think anyone saw especially since I’ve been wearing my poncho (weather’s cooling down so the office is getting colder)… No one said anything so I will continue to believe no one saw anything!

      Also during the summer, I was running a trail race, tripped on a rock and felt my tights rip over my butt. Careful patting ensured that my butt was still covered by my underwear (luckily I was wearing underwear!). Since I’m a slow runner, I was part of the early start, so most of the other participants passed me… and by the time I finished that rip got extended from waistband to knee! I guess the amount of mud prevented any comments and sights better left unseen. :P

    24. WardrobeMalfunctionAnon*

      Going anon for this one.

      Let’s just say that endometriosis can definitely make it a good idea to keep a black cardigan around at work for sometimes-necessary fashion statements. (Thank all the goddesses I finally found a doctor who believed and is willing to treat me.)

    25. !*

      I love how everyone on this board rushes in to make others not feel so embarrassed after a completely normal, human mishap! I’ve had the zipper of my skirt blow out and my boss had to fix it for me (had nothing to cover it with and only discovered it while coming out of the subway in NYC). I’ve had the Aunt Flo accident, many pantyhose incidents, and even a moth try to take up residence in my hair, again on the train to work. I now drive my own car to work, don’t wear pantyhose, am well into menopause, and don’t wear skirts with zippers. :)

    26. Imprudence*

      I once turned up on a client site with one black shoe and one navy one. They were identical styles, but not…. identical. Curiously, when I got hone I found a similar pair — except the colours were the other way round.

    27. Elizabeth West*

      At one job, the faucet in the bathroom sink had very high water pressure so you had to be careful when you turned the handle or it would blast out into the shallow sink and splash everywhere. Once, I was in a hurry and I forgot about that.

      When I turned it on, the water shot out, ricocheted off the sink, and right onto my crotch. I did my best to dry it with paper towels, but for the rest of the afternoon, it looked like I’d wet my pants. >_<

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh nooooo, I’m so sorry!

        My last apartment had a sink like that. It made dishwashing super messy. (My current apartment also makes dishwashing messy, but that’s because the sink is really tiny.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL it was embarrassing, but other people knew about the sink so they didn’t tease me too much!

    28. Deloris Van Cartier*

      I was walking to a job interview and totally wiped out. The sidewalk was so uneven and even though I was wearing flats, I was probably too caught up in my own thoughts to notice. Of course everyone from the business in front of the wacky sidewalk had to come out to tell me that it happens all the time. I shove all of my stuff back in my bag because it had fallen on the group and try and regroup. As I’m walking there, I can feel blood on my clothes and my arm was killing me. Luckily when I arrived, I had some hand sanitizer to try and wipe the dirt off me and get myself ready. The only reason it even came out was because I couldn’t find my notebook with my questions and I felt like if I didn’t explain, they would think I was super disorganized. I ended up getting the job so I guess it all worked out! My mom had an interview with a black eye and broken wrist so this must be a curse or something that was put upon my family many years ago!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yikes! I fell outside once on my way home from work, right in the middle of an intersection, and with a large crowd of onlookers behind me. I didn’t get as banged up as you did, but I remember thinking, “Wow – I’m on the ground now,” and hearing a woman behind me shouting, “ARE YOU OKAY?!”

        I was planning to try to play it off as if no one could have possibly seen it, but how could you when my little red stockinged legs were in the air, cars were swerving around me, and women were calling me out? Lol. I was mortified at the time, but I can laugh at it now. (And to this day, I still don’t know how I fell when I was wearing flats and the sidewalk was not slippery.)

        1. Lalaith*

          Oh yes, I have done this too. Took a dive right in the middle of an NYC crosswalk. PSA: offering help to someone in such a situation is kind, but if they are already pushing themselves up off the ground, please don’t try to haul them up by one of the arms they’re using to push themselves with :-P

          I’ve also slipped on ice a few times on my way to work. Scraped each of my knees once and had to clean up the blood when I got to the office, then patch it up with whatever first aid supplies they had handy. Thank goodness for dark pants!

    29. Nope, not today*

      Worked in a restaurant as a hostess, uniform of white shirt, black skirt, black tights. Wearing a shorter black skirt one day. Climbed into a booth to wipe down the table (it was a 6 top, so you couldn’t reach the whole table without getting into it), getting back out I split my skirt up the back – there had been a small slit at the back seam, which was suddenly MUCH larger lol. Fixed it with a stapler to get through the shift.

      Another time I was squeezing between a table and a booth, and the booths had coat hooks on the dividers between the benches of separate tables, which were at about chest level….button up shirt snagged on a coat hook, buttons popped off everywhere, fully exposed to the restaurant. That was only about the 4th worst thing that happened that day (that day goes down in my personal history as the absolute worst day at work ever!)

    30. Donkey Hotey*

      Right there with you. My jeans split at the crotch and ripped backward, right along the bottom of my… bottom. Thankfully, I’ve always kept a hoodie at my desk. Tied that around my waist for the rest of the day.
      So yeah, not a weirdo (at least in this respect.)

    31. JustaTech*

      I was at one of our sites I’d never visited before for an important meeting with some government people. Just before lunch I feel the button on my pants just randomly pop off. That’s annoying, but whatever, there’s a hook as well. Then I go to the bathroom after lunch and discover that one whole side of the zipper had ripped out as well.
      It was the first time in my life I’d bothered to match my underwear to my pants, and I was able to just untuck my shirt to be sure I was covered.
      I was *so* glad our whole group had agreed to take time to change clothes before catching our flight!

      Moral of the story, those pants were $5 for a reason.

    32. Doug Judy*

      Once I got all the way to work and noticed in the elevator I was wearing two totally different shoes. Both heals but one was a black stiletto and one was a navy block heal. I had left the house in a rush and put on whatever pair of shoes were closest. And I had injured my back earlier in the week so my gait had been off for a few days, which is why I didn’t notice I was waking weird. That’s was an awkward day.

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

      I was about ready for work and decided to slip on my slippers to take out the trash instead of putting on my regular high heels. I was getting out the car at work when I noticed that I had grabbed my purse and went to work, still in slippers instead of heels. At that time I didn’t have a spare pair of shoes of any kind in my car or office so had no choice but to wear slippers. Luckily I sit at a desk all day (except for breaks). I have learned to keep a spare pair of shoes (although not heels), a t-shirt, a pair of underwear, athletic-style pants (not yoga pants) and a cardigan in my car for all kinds of emergencies; black works best for all because it’ll usually go with whatever else I’m wearing and can sometimes pass as more “formal”.

      I’ve had birds crap on me as I walked to/from my car
      Shoe heel breaks
      Spilled coffee/food all over myself
      Ripped seam/busted zipper/popped button
      Menstrual catastrophe

    34. Daisy Avalin*

      Yup!! Last Sunday, as I started putting out the morning papers at the petrol station, I crouched to do the bottom row and, riiiiiiiip! Crotchless trousers & bright pink knickers on show with an hour of my shift to go!! Luckily I’d walked down to work in a pair of dark grey jogging bottoms, so I switched into them and according to a co-worker who came in to get fuel it wasn’t obvious that I wasn’t wearing uniform trousers so all is good ( I did warn the asst manager & later the store manager in case the higher-ups spot it and complain).

      Think I’m going to get a pair of trousers to keep at work in case this happens again, since a lot of my job requires bending/stretching/twisting and I expect it to happen at some point again.

    35. Auntie Social*

      I was looking in the vintage bookstore section of a dicey part of town. Not a lot of people on the block. Heard footsteps behind me—I sped up, they sped up. Got my keys out of my purse, hoping that I’d either make it to my car, get close enough to hit the alarm, or use the keys as a weapon like they teach you. Feel a hand on my shoulder, I spin around and yell really loud “WHAT DO YOU WANT!!” And it’s a priest. Who quietly tells me my skirt zipper is working its way down on own.

    36. Triumphant Fox*

      I recently had my zipper split on my dress at a black tie event and just had to walk up to my room and change into a new dress in the interim. I was hunched over to fix my shoe and the pressure was just too much. It was so embarrassing, but I try to act like it doesn’t matter and move on. At the after party I had a ton of compliments on that dress and no one mentioned anything, so you know.

    37. Curmudgeon in California*

      I keep two spare pair of underwear plus sanitary pads at work. I keep spare clothes at work. I keep sanitary pads in my car. I am looking at adding a mending kit to my work stash. I’ve had too many wardrobe failures and potty problems not to.

    38. Joel Davis*

      Several years ago, I was walking to work and walked too close to a standpipe connection (those hookups for fire hoses that are often on the outside of large buildings) that had a long jagged screw holding the cover on. The edge of the screw caught my pants and I ripped a hole from my shin to about four inches from the waist of my pants. This was on the way to work and I couldn’t go home to get new pants nor could I just walk around like that all day. I sat at my desk and didn’t move for a few hours until a coworker got me a pair of sweatpants.

    39. Princesa Zelda*

      When I was about 19, I was working a shift in a thin light blue-and-white uniform when my period started off-schedule. It was an hour before my scheduled break and we were short-staffed, so I wishful-thought that I could somehow manage until then. Once I made it to a restroom, I had clearly bled through my underwear and had stained the inside of the crotch area. I spent the rest of the day walking without moving my thighs. It was awkward! I’m forever grateful that job had laundry service for uniforms so I just dropped it in the chute after and tried to forget it ever happened.

    40. Nita*

      I’ve split my pants at work too, but thankfully the rip was too low to flash anything embarrassing – it just looked like the jeans tried to turn into shorts, but gave up halfway.

      My shoes, now… I still feel embarrassed about that one. I had a very nice pair of steel-toe boots that lasted almost 11 years before I lost them in a house move. When I realized they’re missing, I turned all my stuff upside down looking for them, couldn’t find them, and settled for wearing a much heavier spare pair. Somehow, my favorite boots did turn up three months later, and I happily put them on and headed out to a construction site. The meeting went fine, the trip back to the office went fine, and then, just as I was going up the subway stairs, rrrrip! And one sole came halfway off. And just as I got off the elevator on my floor, rrrrip! Went the other sole. I had to hobble to my seat, soles flapping loudly and very obviously, past an open conference room. I’d realized too late that the company president, my department head, and a couple senior VPs were in that room and they could all see me. All I could do was put on my best poker face and keep clomping over to my desk as if everything’s fine.

    41. Duffy*

      One day, I had an all day work meeting and I wore jeans and a short top. The zipper on the jeans broke do there was no way of closing. The button at the top also broke.

      So you know how people tie sweaters around their waist. I did too but put the long part in front. I looked strange that day!

    42. NB*

      Have you read Girl Walks Into a Bar by Rachel Dratch? She tells a pretty good pants-splitting story. Tina Fey came to her rescue.

    43. Office Gumby*

      I deliberately keep a needle and thread in my desk drawer at work for just such an emergency.

      I had a piece of clothing rip on me once, only it was a shirt, and it was the back seam of a sleeve. I was reduced to first taping, then stapling the seam shut to make it through the day. No, I didn’t have a cardy or anything useful like that, as it was the middle of summer.

      Since then, needle and thread kept readily on hand. Even keep a small sewing kit in my car.

  27. Panda*

    I’m flying out to Las Vegas on Monday for training and a summit on a new software system my department is implementing this fall. Do I need to dress super professionally for this?

    My work is pretty informal (jeans, nice top, sneakers or fancy shoes and others dressing in suits and business attire). I know I’ll be doing a lot of walking, so I’d rather wear sneakers than flats. Are nice pants and a nice top, but more casual ok?

    I’ve only gone to church and personal seminars and conferences where the attire is pretty casual (but not sloppy).

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I would lean in favor of slightly more dressed up, because it’s never wrong to look more professional than necessary – not full suit or anything, just upmarket business casual? Trousers and nice top + not sneakers?

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I’ve found that jeans, boots, and a professional top will work in most training situations. If they expect a more formal attire then they will make sure you are aware of the dress code. The last time I had a conference in Vegas I made the mistake of wearing “cute” sneakers instead of real walking sneakers. My feet were killing me by the end of the week. So if you are going to a huge conference center, then you should definitely plan to wear sneakers, and maybe bring a nicer pair of shoes in case you do a happy hour or other networking event.

    3. Goldfinch*

      I’d wear jeans, comfortable flat booties, and layered tops. One professional blouse-type piece, and a thin open blazer over it. It will look professional enough, and provide adequate layering options for conference rooms (always a toss up, temperature-wise).

    4. CAA*

      Can you find photos from similar events on the company’s website and see what people are wearing in those? I suspect your jeans and sneakers will be fine, but do bring a sweater or blazer because Vegas conference rooms are always freezing.

      Outside the conference center you’ll see everything from super casual to super dressy, so whatever you normally wear on your own time is fine for that.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      If you don’t wear the sneakers to the training, wear them to the training and change there.
      Vegas is a mirage – everything feels like it should be walking distance and it’s a lie.

    6. Camera Shy*

      Wear your sneakers walking, and change into flats at the venue!

      I agree – dress it up a bit more. Blazer, nice shirt, and pants.

    7. WhoKnows*

      Is this an annual type of summit/training? I would try googling for pictures (they may have a website with photos of previous years) and you can get an idea from there.

      1. QueryingtheMassesforHelp*

        I second this. Some software conferences it’s okay to wear nice (and clean) jeans with a nice top and sweater and other conferences (depending on your role) I’ve seen people wear blazers. I like to keep in mind when I pick clothes, that I’m representing my company and my company’s brand when I attend these conferences. I will admit though, when attending in depth developer training conferences I do roll up in a nice hoodie and jeans. It gets really cold in the conference rooms and your laptop only generates so much heat.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Business casual.
      I’d opt for black or dark slacks and a top + comfortable flats. Maybe consider a casual blazer/jacket or dress cardigan if it’s cold.

      I don’t find sneakers professional enough, but you know, if you really need them due to foot issues, ok. You can find black “sneaker like” shoes, which I’ve worn for trade shows.

  28. Lieutenant Jingles*

    I got a really nice email today – a job interview offer from an application I made months! It was really morale boosting. Alas, I already signed on with another company. I won’t bother trying to interview to “test the waters”, it’s being a total dick to all involved, and the industry I work in is so small news like this very easily goes around.
    Man, it’s like buses, you wait for hours and then 2 comes along.

  29. secret chart*

    It’s happened. I now have to take 10-15 minutes to breathe and compose myself before replying to one of my coworker’s emails, so I don’t escalate the nastiness.

    Why is it so hard and so rough to be the adult in the room?

    1. Brownie*

      All the sympathy. The only thing sometimes that stops me from going off the deep end and yelling at one specific coworker is that I value my reputation in the office as the calm, collected, always-capable person too much to put that in jeopardy. It is so incredibly hard to not respond in kind to their nastiness and incompetence, but remember it makes them look so much worse if you remain a shining paragon of politeness and civility when they grab a shovel and start flinging barnyard waste.

      1. secret chart*

        Thanks, I will keep in mind. There are other people on these email chains most of the time, and other people on the calls, so maybe I’ll keep in mind that I am performing for the audience, not the person I’m talking to?

        In school, I got the reputation as “calm, collected, always-capable” so much, that someone once asked me if I ever shouted. I guess life doesn’t change.

        1. Brownie*

          Yup, it’s performing to the audience which hopefully includes this person’s manager. My manager confided in me a couple weeks ago that because I did all my rise-above-the-barnyard stuff via email for a couple issues it gave him written proof that my coworker was not doing his job which will now show up in said coworker’s annual review and maybe even a PIP.

          Plus others outside my team who’re on those email threads with the bad coworker see how much I’m having to deal with. As a result of that I’m getting a lot of leeway and sympathy from them, even on unrelated projects, which lets me get them a better product because now I have the wiggle room to do things right instead of rushed. Then my reputation gets even better as they gush to my manager about the deliverable, so it ends up as a win for me. Admittedly it’s still really hard not to go for the quick satisfaction of yelling at them on egregious things though.

      2. Shirley Keeldar*

        Yeah, it’s painful! I like to translate poisonously politely business speak into what I’m REALLY thinking (sometimes out loud, but I work at home and can get away with this. My only coworkers have fur and don’t mind.)

        “Just fyi [because you need things spelled out to the letter, dimwit], the spouts need to be in white chocolate, not dark. See below for the specs, which have been approved. [This has been covered already, and if you weren’t an incompetent dodo, you’d know.] Per Anastasia [I’m not taking any flak for this, this is the big boss’s idea, as you are well aware], the decorations must be in caramel, not nougat. Thanks so much! [eat excrement and die!]

    2. Master Bean Counter*

      Because typing out, If you had read my earlier email or done what i asked in the first place I wouldn’t have to be cleaning this up now, is really satisfying.

      1. secret chart*

        Unfortunately in this case, the coworker does things like tell me “just read the e-mail for what I already told you” when there’s nothing in there about it at all.

    3. The Meow*

      I hear you. I have had many fantasies of sending glitter bombs or anonymous Why You Suck lists to difficult coworkers. But this is an opportunity to demonstrate how awesome you are (and how crappy they are) by remaining calm and professional even under aggravation.

    4. Roy G. Biv*

      If it makes you feel any better, I guarantee many of your coworkers know and value your calm, cool adultness, and also know your other coworker is a piece of work. It’s just that we tend not to talk about it at work because it is work, not junior high school.

  30. Don’t get salty*

    I have a dilemma: I recently achieved a hard-won promotion and I also switched managers around the same time. I had gotten used to receiving calls from different people in my organization congratulating me on it. However, I got one call in particular from my previous manager telling me (among other things) that I didn’t deserve it, and that the reason the committee awarded it to me was because this previous manager begged them to do it, which wouldn’t make the committee look very good if they did that.

    Not only was I confused by this call, but it made me very angry. What’s the point of saying this; there’s nothing that can be done to take it away and this person is no longer my current manager either, so what do they care? Not once did I hear a congratulations, even though this person gave me the impression in the past that they really wanted to help me advance. I guess my dilemma is that I really don’t want to have anything else to do with this person, which will be pretty easy as they no longer manage me, but this person is in my immediate past as a direct manager and will likely be contacted for a reference when I apply for upcoming positions.

    1. Open Office Hell*

      Wow, what an unkind thing for that person to say. Honestly, they sound like you should disregard them because they’re just trying to rattle / undermine you – so beyond the pale that they don’t seem reasonable. Is there someone else you can ask for a more honest assessment?

      1. Don’t get salty*

        My current manager is really on my side, and highly praises me, but hasn’t been my direct manager for long. I have several managers in my past that I can ask for an honest assessment, some who have already been promoted to top management. I almost want to call them and let them know in a subtle way how this person acts (b/c this past manager has those ambitions), but I’d be delusional.

    2. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I feel like they’re trying to take credit for your success and make you feel beholden to them. It’s gross, and you are completely justified in not interacting with them anymore unless you have to.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Up until this conversation, you thought that they “really wanted to help you advance.” I wonder if this current conversation is actually consistent with that. If so, maybe you can safely use them as a reference in the future.

      Is there any possibility at all that you misinterpreted their intent? I’m not sure I follow all the details, but it sounds like they said that they are the reason you got this job, because they lobbied so hard for you. What you’re hearing as “you completely didn’t deserve this job” might have been said as a way to underscore that they went to bat for you.

      While that’s in fact completely undermining and gross, they actually might not have meant it to be that way. They might have meant something like “I value you and your career so much that I am willing to recommend you even for jobs that are a real stretch for you.”

      If you think this is a possibility, I’d err on the side of interacting with them as if it were true. Keep them in the loop about your career just as you would any past manager or mentor, have a catch-up coffee every now and then, etc. Behave as if you trust their goodwill, without in any way making yourself vulnerable or relying on it.

      Then, in the future, if you think you have a reason to consider this person for a reference, that will still be an option and you won’t have burned a bridge.

      1. Don’t get salty*

        That’s a very generous interpretation and I’m glad you suggested it. It might have been a way to communicate support, but one of the interviewers already told me that my selection was a “unanimous“ yes, and that my interview sealed it. On top of that, I’ve already been performing the duties of this new position (and getting accolades) for the past four years. The promotion was just a matter of my pay matching my duties.

        This person made comments about my new supervisor too, but I’ll definitely act as though I trust this person‘s goodwill. I might have to rely on it one day.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      So the person who recommended you said you don’t deserve it.
      They said one thing then they said the opposite. This means one of the statements is a lie.

      In order to tell interviewers that you did not deserve this promotion they will have to explain why they recommended you. Think about this. The interviewer is going to be sitting there saying…. “So. Do you often recommend people for promotion that you don’t think deserve it?”

      What I would do, if I got stuck using this person as a reference I would be sure to mention that they recommended me for a promotion. This could cut things off before things even start.

      Honestly, if this is how this person handles things I suspect by the time you leave they will be long gone.

      1. Don’t get salty*

        That’s a great, great thought! I have nothing to fear; all I have to do is to take this person’s own words, that they strongly advocated for my promotion, to the interview committee. If it’s true, and the committee verifies it, then anything this person says to the contrary about my qualifications would be garbage. Thank you so much!

  31. Open Office Hell*

    UGH my coworker in an open office says she “can’t wear headphones” because they make her anxious and “claustrophobic,” which sounds to me like an accommodation request meaning I shouldn’t push back. But it is NOT OKAY to have your computer binging with every email you get, or your music audibly playing, in an open office!!! I am very sensitive to these kinds of little noises all day long and it makes me super irritable. Everytime she forgets to mute her computer I politely ask her to do it. But what I really want to do is ask if she has honestly tried all the different types of headphone options out there, because I feel certain that one would work for her if she wanted.

    1. JimmyJab*

      That sounds very annoying. I’d ask her to change the settings on her computer so the sound is automatically muted – no one at my office cube farm would tolerate computer noises like that. I have mine muted!

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I have asked for about this, she says she forgets after she needs to watch advertising videos, which is part of her job function on the sales team. She is also in long sales meetings and leaves the computer volume on while she’s gone.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          Then she needs to stop forgetting.

          This is basic open office etiquette – you do not subject your coworkers to your machine sounds. The only things that are more basic than this is ‘don’t do conference calls on speakerphone’ and ‘don’t yell potentially offensive words’.

          You’ve had the big picture talk and set the boundary, which is a reasonable and common and expected boundary. Keep reminding her of it, over and over, until she does remember. Her future office mates will thank you.

          I hate headphones myself, but I never have my computer with sound on in the office.

        2. Kes*

          You should ask her to change the notification settings on her email program to turn off sound notifications. I always turn that off since it drives ME nuts to hear notification sounds all the time

          1. Open Office Hell**

            That is a good point, I didn’t think about it but I assume that’s just a setting you can change – she’s probably not even using the chimes for anything. Thanks (and to others who made the suggestion, and for Sloan who is my office buddy haha).

    2. CatCat*

      Don’t worry about the headphone thing. If she isn’t going to wear them, she isn’t going to wear them. That’s not the problem. Her playing music and having sounds on her computer is the problem.

      “Hey Coworker, please don’t play music using speakers in our shared work space. It’s very distracting.”

      “Hey Coworker, let me show you have to permanently mute your computer so it stops making all those noises. You may not realize, but those noises are very distracting and irritating in this open work space. They should be permanently muted.”

      If she persists, escalate it to your manager.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        Yes, this. The fact that she can’t wear headphones is a thing that needs accommodated for situations like required computer based training and possibly important meeting reminders, but it doesn’t give her the right to play music to the open office or have every alert on her computer chime.

    3. Dust Bunny*

      I have sensory issues (related to being on the autism spectrum) *and* a pointy head and so far every set of headphones I’ve ever tried is physically painful. Sensory annoyance is no less real that auditory annoyance, thanks.

      But my computer doesn’t ping all the time, either.

      1. Open Office Hell*

        Thank you for responding because I really need insight on this! The ear bud kind are no good either? Note that she did not say she has a sensory issue (although she might, and obviously it would be inappropriate for me to expect her to share that) she expressed it in more of a mental health sense like they make her feel closed in and anxious.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Nope. Still agonizing. I have weirdly small ear canals (the doctor uses the kids’ ear cones on me).

          I think we tend to forget that since a particular thing is less annoying *for us*, that doesn’t mean it’s less annoying *for everyone*. These are actually separate but equivalent sensitivities; we just don’t all share them equally.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            As someone who also has trouble with most headphones, the ones that work for me are earbuds with ear hooks. (I can’t use over-the-head ones because I wear a brimmed hat, and earbuds tend to fall right out of my ears.) I have no idea if that would work for you or not (or if you are even interested in trying new types of headphones at this point), but if you are in the market for trying new types of headphones and haven’t tried those before, I’ve had good luck with them compared to other types.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I could see them making somebody feel closed in and anxious, too. They don’t do that to me, but . . . I don’t like holding hands, for instance, because I feel too tied down, so I guess that’s sort of the same thing but with a different particular trigger.

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          Don’t get too focused on *how* she solves the problem. Focus on ‘hey, your computer sounds are still a problem, please fix it.’

          1. Open Office Hell**

            Thank you, and others who made this point. You’re right, I don’t care if she ever wears headphones, I just need the noise and music to stop, so I’ll try to approach it that way from now on. Her current solution is that she asked the other people in the office if it bothers them, and they said it didn’t, so it must be fine – I will keep trying to patiently find a solution that works for everyone.

            1. Close Bracket*

              she asked the other people in the office if it bothers them, and they said it didn’t, so it must be fine

              Push back on that. It’s bothering you, so it’s not fine. The solution that works for everyone is that she turns off the email pings and other notifications.

              1. Open Office Hell**

                yeah I think if that was fixed, I could stomach the soft music playing a lot better (but I still hate the music too)

                1. valentine*

                  When she’s gone, set her Windows to No Sounds. It will disable any alerts without affecting the audio on her videos (or music, alas).

        4. TooTiredToThink*

          Could it be because she needs to hear the background noises to feel safe? If she’s wearing headphones she can’t hear if someone is coming up from behind her? Would using headphones but turning around or putting up mirrors help? Or is it the actual pressure of the headphones causing an issue?

          Headphones give me ear infections if I wear them too long – whether its the over the ear kind or earbuds. I can wear them for short bursts of time but if I wear them more than say 4 hours a day and several days in a row? I will have an ear infection shortly afterwards. People don’t believe me because they can’t imagine that and I’ll get all sorts of advice as to “well have you tried this? have you tried that?” so I could see me just straight up lying and saying they cause me claustrophobia to stop getting all the advice.

          You should be able to help her change her email settings so that her emails don’t ding upon arrival – so that should solve that particular issue. As for music and the videos she has to watch; please tell her that its causing work issues for you. She probably doesn’t want to hear the “have you tried this and have you tried that?” cause if she’s heard it all before; she’s heard it all before; but maybe a “How can we work together to make the environment work for both of us?”

          1. Open Office Hell**

            I think she likes listening to music because it brightens her day, which I totally understand. She thinks playing it very softly will solve my problem, but sadly I have acute hearing. I doubt she’s attached to the chimes / notifications – so others are correct that maybe I can get her to change that setting entirely!

            1. LizB*

              Oof, for me, sounds at very low volume are way more distracting than at an average volume. It’s like whispering vs talking – I can tune out my coworkers chatting at a regular volume all day, but the second one of them starts whispering or lowers their voice, all my brain wants to do is strain to listen to what they’re saying. My sympathies.

              1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

                I am also miserable with low-volume music playing. My brain will immediately start trying to pay attention to it rather than what I’m supposed to be doing if it’s new music. The only music I can listen to while concentrating is something I’ve heard many times before. I suppose if we had a radio station with low rotation of songs playing I’d be used to it in a week or so, but in reality I find background music about the most concentration-destroying thing in the world. (I use a limited mp3 playlist of things I am used to for music while working rather than a streaming service because of this.)

              2. Open Office Hell*

                Yeah I’m always subconsciously straining to identify the song. However I recognize that’s arguably kind of a “me problem.”

        5. Annonno Today*

          It’s really not about the headphone thing, tho…. in an open work space, everyone needs to keep sounds OFF. If she has to watch sales videos, can she take her laptop to a conference room?

        6. LabTechNoMore*

          This headphone anxiety thing happens to me, actually. (Er not officially diagnosed or anything, I’ve always just seen it as a weird quirk.) I’ve never told anyone because, well, it sounds weird and made-up, but sometimes I need to take them off or I’ll start hyperventilating and can’t catch my breath.

          It’s been a while since this has happened, but somehow blocking out my own hearing with music makes me self-conscious about any noises I might be making without realizing it (breathing too loudly, chair squeaking, stomach rumbling), which sort of sets off a cycling of trying to regulate my breathing to be more quiet, until the next thing I know I’m out of breath. I definitely understand the claustrophobic feeling too.

          With all that said, it’d never occur to me to play music without headphones, especially with others around. (Maybe softly? But even then, I’d be worried about others hearing it.) But, these weird headphone anxiety attacks only happen rarely for me, so it’s never been a real problem for me personally.

          1. Open Office Hell**

            I genuinely do believe that headphones make her uncomfortable, possibly even in a way that is diagnosable, so I’m trying not to be a jerk about it. I don’t want to be That Person who is like … have you tried just listening with just one ear bud (which is what I like to do, so I can hear coworkers sneaking up on me), have you tried this type, that type, etc. I want to give her the benefit of the doubt that she has tried all options or she wouldn’t be doing this.

            However, I don’t know if that means she automatically gets to play her music at her desk out loud. Particularly when she forgets to turn it off when she leaves the room. So far, the solution is that I wear both my headphones 100% of the time :P I feel like a real jerk asking her not to do it, particularly since I’ve already asked multiple times.

            1. LabTechNoMore*

              Honestly, I don’t think you’re being unreasonable to ask her not to play music aloud. If headphones (or one-bud) are a problem, and playing it softly is still too loud, the only other option is no music. Then again, it’s very possible that my perspective of this headphone thing being a rare occurrence for me is shading my views.

              Good luck, whatever ends up happening!

            2. Alice*

              That she can’t wear headphones, together with the fact that she doesn’t have her own office, means that SHE SHOULDN’T PLAY MUSIC!

      2. Jaid*

        I have a rest on the ears, band behind the neck, pair of Knivo headphones. Bluetooth only, though.

        Kinivo BTH240

    4. Lemon Squeezy*

      I had a personal experience that for a long while made me very uncomfortable to not hear my environment. I ended up getting a set of bone conducting headphones and that helped the nervousness while listening to music a lot. (And therapy. Thanks therapy! I can even wear earbuds again.)

      Here’s the thing–it’s not your job to decide how she solves the problem. It’s just your responsibility to point out that her actions are affecting your work. “Hey, I know it’s not your intention, but with the open office setup, when you play music it really interferes with my work.” Is there a space she can watch her videos in?

      1. Open Office Hell**

        Yeah, I felt uncomfortable pushing her on the different varieties / types of headphones that might be out there, but I was thinking about the behind-the-ear kind and the earbud kind – you’re so right though, that’s not really my role and I’m so glad I didn’t push on it until I asked the readers for advice, because it’s kind of beside the point.

        1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

          I hate earbuds and often have to list to training videos in an open office. I have a pair of over-ear headphones and hold one side up to one ear for the video. it works fine, I keep the volume low (for me) so no one hears out the other side of the headphones, and it’s not as if I’m listening to the symphony so who needs stereo for a training video?

    5. Close Bracket*

      which sounds to me like an accommodation request

      Unless you are HR and she is disclosing a disability, it is not an accommodation request. However, as others have said, it doesn’t matter whether she wears headphones. What matters is that the noises stop happening. Not listening to music is just as viable an option as listening to music through head phones.

      1. Open Office Hell**

        Yeah I just meant obviously I would deal with it differently than just a personal quirk or something, if she has a medical issue. If she had just said “oh I don’t care for them” I would have been firmer.

    6. Holly*

      It’s not an accomodation request – I would stop framing it like that in your mind. If you politely ask her, since she won’t wear headphones, to not play music out loud and to lower the volume, and she doesn’t, I think at that point it might be worth looping in your direct supervisor to work through a solution. Coworkers aren’t responsible for determining what a reasonable accomodation is.

    7. Clementine*

      I don’t like headphones for the same reasons, but that means no music or podcasts or sounds that emanate from my laptop or devices when I am in the office.

  32. Jennifer Strange*

    I work in an open space office. I sometimes (not super frequently, but maybe one or two times a month) sit in on some webinars relevant to my job. The issue I have is A) I have a boss and co-workers who will just start talking without realizing that the person they’re speaking to either isn’t there or is wearing headphones and B) when a person does see I’m wearing headphones they will come up and start talking to me or try to get my attention.

    While I’m never orally participating in these webinars I don’t like to have to miss things in order to take out my headphones and inform the person that I’m not just listening to music/this isn’t something I can pause. While I usually tell my boss/team that I’m planning to watch a webinar they sometimes forget and even so I have other coworkers coming up to me (and I’m not about to make it a practice to email the entire organization every time I’m about to watch a webinar).

    There is limited meeting space at our organization and I can’t justify reserving an entire space just for me. Any thoughts or suggestions? I’ve thought (mostly jokingly) about creating a sign that says “In Webinar – Do Not Distrub) and putting it next to me on the desk.

    1. CatCat*

      Can you put a little sign up on your computer or your desk that says something like, “In a webinar meeting. Please do not disturb.”

    2. Open Office Hell*

      I feel this so hard. I do take my webinars to an open space and just hide in the corner because people canNOT stop bugging me if I am within sight, which I realize doesn’t work for all offices. Any chance you can ask if you can work from home or in someone’s office? (it’s annoying for me not to have access to my own desktop, but if the webinars are essential then it has to take priority).

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        Do you have shared calendars? You can put your webinar session there and then other can see that you are busy. Otherwise, I think a sign would be okay.

        1. Open Office Hell*

          Nothing stops them. They can’t help themselves. If they want to chat / ask a quick question / share a joke, and I am within sight, they literally can’t hold back. I know because they frequently say things like “sorry I know you’re on a webinar right now but – ” or “you’re obviously busy at the moment but – ” I don’t even blame them, I blame the set up.

          1. Snorkmaiden*

            PS do blame them. Absolutely do. This isn’t the setup, it’s behaviour they are choosing.

            1. Open Office Hell**

              I mean, we are packed in at one desk, within direct line of sight of each other, so it’s really irresistible when you have a quick question or comment (I am sometimes guilty myself, is why I am so lenient). We are all trying to redirect to Slack but the only solution for sustained concentration is out of sight, out of mind.

              1. valentine*

                I would use one of those plastic holders you put the sign inside, so you have a physical barrier you can clack down on the desk. I’d also let them hear the calendar reminder chime (and maybe one at the end, or create some other ritual, like coffee post-webinar) to train them, keep my head down over my notes, and close one ear when they interrupt(!), so the other side’s louder and I miss less.

                If there’s a hallway or so much as a corner elsewhere, even a corner of the same room, use it. They’ll still interrupt, at least at first, but soon it’ll be “Open Office Hell*’s in timeout, lol,” possibly an extinction burst of dramatic shushes, then they’ll filter you out when you’re in that space.

                But find out for sure whether you can book a conference room.

          2. CheeryO*

            I have coworkers who do the same thing. Honestly, now I just point to my headphones, mouth “webinar,” and go back to looking at the screen. It’s slightly rude, but not as rude as purposefully interrupting you for something that could wait.

            1. valentine*

              I just point to my headphones, mouth “webinar,” and go back to looking at the screen.
              This is perfectly polite.

    3. Jamie*

      I made a sign for my office door in a former job that said I was in a webinar or conference call and unless something was on fire to send me an email and I’d get back to them when done.

      I had to use clip art with smiley faces so this wouldn’t be read as “unapproachable” because apparently the bosses thought everyone had the emotional range of toddlers being denied the warmth of a mother’s hug if they had to wait.

      I don’t miss that place – but the sign idea still works.

    4. AndersonDarling*

      I worked in an open office space for a short time and a neighbor had to make a few phone calls. After 3 minutes, a manager came over and asked her to move into a conference room. I didn’t have a problem with listening to work phone calls, but it apparently was.not.done in that open office space.
      Having music blaring all day would not have been allowed there.

        1. Open Office Hell**

          Hehe I still saw it. Yep, the office culture around ambient sounds really varies, and I think I’m a bit on the extreme end myself of desiring absolute library silence to concentrate, so I’m trying to be more understanding. I feel like my question came out super grouchy, but I genuinely do want to find a solution that works for everybody.

    5. CallofDewey*

      I have a sign on my door with different squares with what I’m doing on it, like “I’m in- knock!” “in webinar” and “out of the building” and a binder clip that I put on the correct square. Helps get my staff to not interrupt me if I’m in a webinar or not panic if they can’t find me.

    6. Annonno Today*

      Can’t you just alert them? “Hey guys, I’ll be on a webinar for the next hour, so email me or hit me up later if you need something.”

    7. Gwen*

      Make the sign! I work in a similar location and several coworkers will tape a little sign that says “In a Webinar!” to the back of their chair. I even have one coworker who strings up caution tape behind her chair when she’s on one.

      1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        There’s somebody’s million-dollar idea–office “caution tape” across cubicle entrances and chairs for various situations: In Webinar. On Conference Call. On Project Under Deadline.

    8. Lemon Squeezy*

      I used to use flags at my cubicle to let people know my interruptability. Green = anything goes. Yellow = work only please. Red – Mission critical only.

      I don’t think a sign is a bad idea, it gives people context.

    9. Witchy Human*

      Can you get much bigger, more obvious headphones?

      Also, the one-finger library shush is rude, but the little yap-yap-yap hand puppet gesture is fine as long as it’s not directed at someone present. Point to the headphone, make that gesture, and make an expression that says “this person is yapping away and I have to listen to them, otherwise I’d love to talk to you.”

      Somehow, the “I’m listening to something” message is less effective than the “someone else is talking” message.

    10. Kes*

      This won’t necessarily totally solve your problem, but if you’re using earbuds you may want to consider getting over-ear headphones which are a lot more visible. At least that way people won’t start talking to you without realizing you’re wearing headphones

    11. Wishing You Well*

      One receptionist has a small machine on the counter that flashes when she’s on the phone. The machine also has a sign asking people to not interrupt her when the light is on. This device might turn on automatically which would be very handy. Maybe this device could be used for computers, too.
      Just a thought.

    12. Persephone Mulberry*

      I would 100% use the sign – maybe even tape it to the edge of your monitor so that it’s that much closer to other people’s eye level?

      For the folks that sit around you that try to catch your eye and start talking, I’d go sign language – tap your headphone/earbud, point at your monitor, maybe even make a “shh” finger – and then break eye contact by not-so-subtly turning your head/body back to your screen.

    13. Reliquary*

      You choose: make the sign, or wear a Webinar Hat.

      (There are actually hats that have dry-erase whiteboard on the front, hats that display a light-up message crawl, and of course your regular run-of-the-mill hat with your custom embroidered message.)

      I’d pick the sign, but who know, you just might be a Webinar Hat person!

  33. Wearing Many Hats*

    I’m the office manager/HR person/AP/IT struggler for my small office. Recently the sales team got a wheel to spin with things they have to do if they lose one of their contests. These consist of things like high fiving another team, wearing a fish hat for an hour, or running around the building in a unicorn mask. There is definitely a vibe of playful shaming happening with these. Another option on the wheel is helping me. While this isn’t the intent, it really feels like my work is being devalued (and frankly I don’t have time to find something for a salesperson to do when they interrupt me in the middle of the day). I approached the sales manager and let him know I felt like the message was that my job was a punishment and he said it was just added to get the sales team out of their comfort zone. While I don’t think this was meant maliciously, it does make me feel a little crappy.

    Am I over-reacting here?

    1. Four lights*

      I don’t know if it’s right or wrong to have it on there, but I think you’re ok to be upset about it.

    2. secret chart*

      You are not over-reacting. This is an assholic thing for them to have done and then not correct when you bring it up to them. It’s a wheel of punishments/humiliations, and you’re on that list. That’s not a good thing.

    3. Jamie*

      Not overreacting. It’s insulting both in tone and the assumption that you can stop what you’re doing to find busy work for a salesperson.

      Off topic but can I say IT struggler is the best phrase I’ve heard in ages and I’m totally stealing that for use irl.

    4. juliebulie*

      It’s an imposition/punishment to you. It’s also an admission that the sales team has some free time on their hands.

    5. Just Elle*

      I know it feels really demeaning, but I think they’re actually coming from the exact opposite place: they realize that you work immensely hard, do a lot for everyone, and could sometimes use a break from the madness. They’re not saying you want help with your entire difficult parts of your job, but maybe if part of your job is mind-numbing, thats a good thing to pass off.

      BUT it is still totally ok to say that they hurt your feelings and request they change the category.

      1. pancakes*

        That doesn’t make sense. If they genuinely wanted to help with parts of her job they’d offer help when help is needed, not when someone loses a sales contest. In this scenario there’s no alignment at all between her need for help and their availability to help.

        1. Just Elle*

          I’m not saying its great, because its not. I’m just saying, its more likely a (very) poorly executed attempt at recognizing her hard work than it is demeaning. People who really think others work is that invaluable… don’t openly make fun of them about it in a game, or even jokingly offer to help out.

    6. Serious Sam*

      I’d play into it.
      Step 1: demand an enforceable forfeit if the task is not done to your satisfaction.
      Step 2: have a list of available tasks, for instance check all the training records and prepare lists of people whose training has expired, or demand they take two competing on-line diversity courses and recommend the one to be rolled out to your area.

      They will avoid bothering you, but if they do, you get something useful done that otherwise would have taken an disproportionate amount of your time.

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

        + 1 on having a list of the truly menial tasks you probably do (I feel like everyone usually has something and it isn’t a reflection of how important or valued your job is). If I could borrow one of your people I have a 10-inch high stack of paper files that need to be put into the file drawer in order, but first the oldest files need to be boxed and put into storage in order to clear a drawer for more current files, and while there in the file storage dungeon, they can ID the boxes that are 10 years old and shred those, but don’t shred the actual hanging folders, just the contents, and remove the paper slips from the plastic label-things so I can reuse them…

      2. LizB*

        This is where I land too. Have a list of tasks that any warm body could knock out without your direction (cleaning out the fridge, inventorying supplies, taking sandwich orders for next week’s team meeting, testing all the links on the website to make sure they go to the right place, shredding old files, etc). Or if there’s one task that’s on your plate that will always need to be done, ask the sales manager if the spin wheel can specifically list that task instead of “help Wearing Many Hats” to take even more brain-work out of it.

    7. CM*

      No, it’s rude. But this is coming from people (young dudes?) who think it’s okay to motivate their team by making them spin a “playful shaming” wheel in the first place, so.

      When they show up in your office, make them “help you” by writing an essay about the relationship between masculinity and capitalism.

      1. juliebulie*

        THAT is an awesome idea.
        Or if not that particular topic, perhaps an essay about “what does it mean to help.”

    8. Kes*

      Yeah, that sounds like they think you’re doing a lot and wanted to help you, but I agree the association is not great, and I think it’s totally fair to continue to push back regardless – I would just say that you don’t have time to find them things to do at random times

    9. Jessica*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. The sales manager’s thinking might be that it’s lighthearted punishment in the way that (e.g.) it’s hard for a high-energy action-focused sales person to slow down to do something quiet and detail-oriented. But even if it’s not malicious, I’d be very miffed that they didn’t take it down after you pointed out the optics of this. Totally think you’re in the right to give a cold, firm refusal to accept the “help” if anyone lands there on the wheel.

    10. bunniferous*

      As someone who works in a sales field (real estate) but who has a particular position with more than normal admin tasks to go with it…..it is not that they look down on your job but it is that most people who are great at sales hate and or SUCK at paperwork/desk/admin tasks. It is two different skill sets. In my world you really do have to do both but to them it actually may feel like punishment BUT NOT because your job is hell, but because to THEM it might be hell. I suspect their job could feel like hell to YOU. If I was a normal real estate agent dealing with buyers and normal sellers, I would HATE it. I just sell foreclosures so all I need to do is deal with other agents and with the company repping the VA….that and going into what can be pretty disgusting houses on occasion. I love it.

      So….if this bothers you, it bothers you and it is perfectly fine to tell them that. But in your place I might just cackle, rub my hands together and come up with all sorts of lovely things for them to do….which I guarantee they would NOT enjoy….

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Personally I think you should mention this to your OWN manager. The sales manager isn’t the one who is going to have to replace you if these twits make you hare your job.
      But a thought–are there any tasks that rotate around office staff instead of paying extra to custodial staff? This would be especially satisfying if the salespeople aren’t based in the office to get a regular spot in a rotation. The wheel could be relabelled “excellence starts with your environment” and include anything from “clean the microwave” to “dust the awards on display in the lobby” to “restock paper supplies in all restrooms.”

  34. Free Meerkats*

    Awww, just hung up the phone talking with one of the companies I regulate. He closed with, “Love you.” I’m losing it here, I don’t think it registered to him – yet.

    1. Jamie*

      I’ve done that. I had a network engineer with the same name as my then husband.

      “I love you too, Sunshine” was the response I got. I’m turning red just remembering that.

    2. Cloudy with sunny breaks*

      Sitting beside my coworker, both of us with phones in had. Message comes through on my phone and he says Don’t read that! I sent it to you by mistake! He’d accidentally sent ‘I love you’ to me instead of his girlfriend. He was so embarrassed

    3. What's with Today, today?*

      Done that…to my boss. Luckily, we have worked together for 15 years, and he laughed hysterically.

    4. Emilitron*

      Based on the number of college students I’ve heard lamenting to each other, I would guess that every college professor gets at least one “love you bye” phone call and/or “love, student” email signoff, per semester!

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have also done that to my manager…she&I are both female, married to men. She had called me to ask a quick favor while I was on my way out of the office, and an email came in for my husband while we were on the phone together. As I hung up I said “Love you, bye!” And I could hear her laughing from my cube.

  35. EnfysNest*

    I found a job opening that I’m really excited by and I’m working on my application, but it’s for a job with a non-government company when my previous applications and promotions since graduation have all been for a federal government agency. I had originally been thinking I would just need to tweak a few things and have it ready to go, but once I started editing, I realized that I really need to redo pretty much the entire resume. The listing doesn’t show a closing date, so I’m just hoping it doesn’t randomly disappear over the weekend while I’m still updating the resume and writing my cover letter. The new job would be very similar to the same duties I have now, but at a really exciting private company, so I’ve got my fingers crossed!

    1. Annonno Today*

      Good luck! The time you spend crafting a new version of your resume may pay off big time down the road — whether on this job posting or another!

  36. R*

    Awkward coworker comments on my size. Scripts to deal?
    Me: I like to run! I have a race this weekend
    Coworker: Oh, that’s why you’re size 0. Go have an ice cream.
    Me (in my mind because I’ve nothing to say): Definitely not size 0. I also eat ice cream regularly. I like ice cream. I also like running. I don’t like people commenting on my supposed size. Sh*t it’s been a long time since I’ve said anything. What do I say now?

    1. JimmyJab*

      Omy. Alison has a lot of scripts for stuff like this in various older letters, but I’d go with one of her usual suggestions like, “what an odd thing to say to a coworker” or “please don’t comment on my body again.”

      1. valentine*

        I don’t like people commenting on my supposed size.
        This is a perfect response. If they doubled down, I’d be tempted to add a zero every time.

    2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “Please don’t comment on my body” is a good one. Say it very coolly, with a flat tone. “Why would you say that?” is another good one, as long as you don’t think your coworker is likely to take it literally and go off about how you are too small/skinny/something else.

      If it’s only the one time, I’d say let it go at this point rather than looping back later, but if it happens again, I’d absolutely make a point of addressing it. Sometimes leaving an awkward silence is enough to let someone know that they’ve said something unacceptable — and it is unacceptable! Don’t comment on people’s size, folks! Whether big or small or medium or recently changed or anything else, just don’t.

    3. Approval is optional*

      ‘Nah, that’s because of the tapeworm’.
      No? Ok, then I’d deploy the raised eyebrow of ‘wow, you just said that didn’t you’ at them if they say anything like that again.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Side note: what response does this co-worker want from you, exactly?
      “Yes, that’s exactly why I’m a size 0!”
      or
      “I didn’t think of that. Thanks for the brilliant idea. I’ll go have an ice cream.”

      There’s really no good outcome to that comment, even if you don’t recognize it as horribly offensive. I’m not sure what your co-worker is trying to accomplish here.

    5. Just Elle*

      I just had the worst experience with foot-in-mouth disorder in a room full of execs. They were complaining about how hot it was and I said “Really?? I don’t get it, I’m literally freezing right now and I’m wearing a sweater!” and one guy turned to me and said “Well honey, the rest of us all have a little extra insulation built in so next time think about that before you open your size 0 mouth.”

      …such a terrible combination of accidentally offending people and being offendingly put in my place.

      Honestly, in your situation, I would reply with either “please don’t comment on my size” or something myth busty like “*Shrug* I love both ice cream and running, my weight is just good genes, thanks.”

            1. Just Elle*

              Wait, is that a thing that isn’t done?

              Lol, I’ve lived in the south too long. Just recently returned up North.

              1. ...*

                Its less normal in the north but its totally normal in the midwest and especially from the company i work with thats more mid south. We call each other honey and sweetie and stuff but only the women and we’re all in a relatively similar age group.

              2. Gazebo Slayer*

                In the north, or at least where I live, a man calling a grown woman “honey” is sexual/intimate, really condescending, or both.

      1. Parenthetically*

        WHAT THE FK, that guy!!

        (But maybe “it’s genetic, nothing I can do” rather than “just good genes.” There’s nothing inherently “good” about being in a smaller body.)

      2. Gazebo Slayer*

        You didn’t say anything offensive at all, just that you were cold! If he was offended, that’s his problem and 100% about his issues. His comment was condescending and sexist and gross, especially considering that he is a male executive saying that to a woman in a junior position.

      3. Close Bracket*

        Having known size 0s who can sit outside in winter in a t-shirt and size 20s who get cold when it’s 75, I’m just going ot throw out there that your size is irrelevant to the conversation and he should not have brought it up.

      4. ...*

        UM NO that wasn’t putting you in your place that was being EXTREMELY rude and offensive to you. Some people are thin or small and people need to get over it. Would it be acceptable to say “Can we turn down the heat or will all you fatties start sweating?” No, never because that is incredibly cruel. Jesus that comment alone would send me job searching. You did nothing wrong!!!!! NOTHING. You can say that you’re cold when you’re cold. You are a human just as much as they are.

        1. Just Elle*

          I think I took it hardest because I recently put in a herculean 2-year effort to lose a lot of weight (but I just started in this department, so they don’t know that). So I’m really aware of how seemingly innocent comments from ‘smaller sized’ people can feel like personal attacks on your ‘larger sized’-ness. And I was horrified that I might have accidentally made them feel that way.

          1. JustaTech*

            But you didn’t bring up anything about size.
            They said they were warm. You said you were cold. You didn’t cast any judgement on their body size, or even their clothing.
            That was all him.

            And a really bizarre thing to say given that it’s pretty common knowledge that, in offices, women tend to be colder due to differences in standard office clothing for men (wool suit) and women.

          2. Gazebo Slayer*

            No. Do NOT feel bad about this. I am really angry at this creep for manipulating you into feeling guilty when HE was the one who said inappropriate things. If he feels like anyone smaller than him being cold is a personal attack on his size, that is his problem. He is the one who should be feeling bad – not because of his size, but because he’s a sexist asshole.

        2. Triumphant Fox*

          Also, “size 0 mouth” is just so aggressive. “Shut your mouth” feels really hurtful to me. The “some of us have a little extra insulation” is honestly par for the course and could be said about men vs. women (even though its a false dichotomy where size is concerned) and I wouldn’t get that offended since it didn’t mention my size – just “we’re probably warm since we’re fat” which is uncomfortable but whatever. But calling you out, naming an actual numbered size and telling you to shut your mouth is HR level to me.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            YES. Report him if your HR is decent. I would be unsurprised if this is just the tip of a misogynistic iceberg.

      5. vanillacookies*

        just need to join the chorus here to say that what *you* said was completely normal and unoffensive, and what *he* said was incredibly out of line.

    6. Parenthetically*

      “It’s REALLY rude and weird to comment on a coworker’s body size, Frank. Please don’t.”

      This is one of my pet peeves, and it angers me to the point that I don’t know if I’d be able to suppress something like, “Dude. It’s SO INAPPROPRIATE to tell people what to eat, ESPECIALLY when you’re correlating it to body size. Don’t tell a person in a larger body to eat a salad, don’t tell a person in a smaller body to eat ice cream. Let people fkn LIVE and stop telling people how to exist in their bodies. It is SO NOT YOUR BUSINESS IN ANY WAY.”

    7. Blueberry*

      When I was younger I occasionally said things like that, until a coworker and a manager separately told me not to. Needless to say they were right and I was greatly improved by having my obnoxiousness pointed out to me.

      Have a great time at your next race!

    8. CheeryO*

      I just had someone do this to me this week. “WOW, pizza?! I thought you only ate vegetables! You’re so skinny! WOW, PIZZA.” I said, “I love pizza. I love vegetables, too. Gotta have balance!” and internally rolled my eyes into outer space.

      I’d ignore it if it’s a one-off, but if the same person bugs you about it more than once, you’re well within your right to say something a little pointed. “Let’s not talk about people’s bodies at work,” or something along those lines. The people who say that stuff truly don’t understand why it’s annoying, though, so it might be an uphill battle.

    9. The Rat-Catcher*

      *pause**scrunch up face like you’re trying to figure out how that might be relevant*
      “Anyway…I’m excited about the race because…”

    10. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve seen previous suggestions of “what an odd thing to say” and think that one might work well here.

  37. ArchivesGremlin*

    So I applied to a job that closed on Monday and last night I saw I got an email for an interview (YEA!) but in reading the email, it was just “this is your interview time at blah”. No discussion of “does this work for you” or even given me options…. Should I be concerned (this is for a public university)?

    1. merp*

      I was given times like this for my current job (with the state, so maybe a bit similar in terms of process). I suspected if it really didn’t work and I asked to change, they would have, but I could make it work so I did. Since my process was absent other weird things, I let it go and it’s been a great job, so I’m glad I did! But maybe if they seem like they wouldn’t make any other allowances, or are otherwise weird, it might be a thing to pay attention to.

    2. TooTiredToThink*

      Since it was a public university; I’d just say it was a yellow flag. Their processes are fairly rigid for hiring. But I think they’d accommodate you if you couldn’t make it. If its on the administration side just remember its going to be a lot more political than you might be used to seeing in private enterprise; but at least the vacation and sick time make up for it (at least in my opinion).

        1. TooTiredToThink*

          Yeah, I didn’t even touch on academia since I only worked on that side as a student worker in college; heh. I have no idea what its like to be a FTE.

  38. Shift to Strategy*

    I am working as a change management agent for a few years now, usually in a tactical way. I’d like to shift from the “doing” part of change management to the “thinking” part, coming with more strategic partnerships and working with leaders versus working with managers and teams.

    My boss says I am showing some skills in this area, but I struggle with examples toward what a strategy is, much less how to develop one.

    I know I sound naïve, yet I’ve been partnering with others on this goal, but need to find my own inner strategist.

    Anyone go through this shift who might have some examples or advice? Thanks!

    1. Just Elle*

      Theres so many great resources on this now! Check out APQC, they’re an entire org devoted to business process management.

      Our company has a BPM group which is basically all strategic. I think a key step in people actually letting us be strategic, is that we started to put ourselves out there as coaches to teach other people how to do the change management themselves. They execute, we support. A big part of our support function is looking across organizations “breaking silos” and facilitating that cross-functional alignment. Thats where a lot of the leadership discussions come in – getting the execs of the silos on the same page. Then they start to see you as an ally and bring you into projects earlier and earlier.

      As you start to support people, the opportunities for initiatives will become evident. Don’t just invent strategy. No change for change’s sake. But by removing yourself from the drivers seat, you’ll be able to see more clearly where the challenges of the business are and identify processes to eliminate them.

      1. Karma*

        Just Elle: I just started a job where my area is implementing BPM in a large organisation. Can you recommend any resources for starting BPM from scratch – particularly regarding managing process transition from current state to future state and interim change management?
        Sorry to hijack the thread!

        1. Just Elle*

          Yay, I’m so excited more orgs are seeing the value in BPM!
          Definitely recommend APQC, they have a whole framework!
          Also, I’m a huge believer in lean (for manufacturing) and Agile (for business processes) for both making a future state vision and how to break that down into steps. Theres lots of great books on this. I started with ‘Learning Agile’. I also love the website agilenutshell for a 5 minute overview. We also worked with C Prime, an Agile consulting company who is excellent. They helped broaden our reach and coach more people into experts who we could then deploy.
          Look for info on PDCA loops for lean – this can be easily adapted to business.

  39. An Elephant Never Baguettes*

    This question is probably more for the German readers, as I know written reports (Arbeitszeugnisse) are not as much of a thing in the applying processes of other countries.

    Here’s the thing: I’m on a maternity cover contract which will not be made permanent. While I’m not actively looking yet, a job ad fell into my lap which is just too good not to apply to. It’s with a business partner my department works with – just not in the department we work with. However, due to me technically planning on staying my entire contract, I don’t have any of my reports yet – I can get them in a couple of weeks, no problem, but not in time to include them in the application.

    How do I mention this? In the email I send with my application? Should I ask my boss if I could use them as a reference in the interim and put that in the email (they know I am planning to start looking around soon-ish and would not begrudge me moving up the timeline a bit for this job)?

    1. Koala dreams*

      Wouldn’t you usually get the written report after you quit your job? In that case it would be fine to just include the ones from previous jobs, and mention in your application that you are currently employed at X and your contract will end in (date).

    2. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      They won’t expect you to have an Arbeitszeugnis from your present job. That would be pretty unusual. If they’ve been with a company for a longer period of time people often request a Zwischenzeugnis, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with you. So, I wouldn’t sweat it.

  40. Interview timeframe*

    After interviewing, what is the longest amount of time that has passed before getting an offer? I interviewed two weeks ago and I’m wondering if I can hold out any hope that an offer might still come through or if I should assume I didn’t get the job.

    1. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

      3 months. In fairness, the company was bought a week after my interview so they had bigger priorities.

      1. Interview timeframe*

        At least you had an idea of why the hiring process would slow down. I’m glad you got an offer after a while. That’s encouraging.

    2. pcake*

      My ex-husband applied for a job with his local city services. They called him two years later with an offer :-/

      Unsurprisingly, he had already found a job…

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Same happened to me. They sounded surprised. I think I deserve credit for not including any swear words in my reply.

    3. College Career Counselor*

      I had an on-site interview in December. Job was put on hold for several months, wound up getting an offer in late May the following year. Caveat: higher education is notorious for being slow (and weird) at hiring. If you’re in a corporate environment, I’d say that if you go a month without any communication, you should Mentally Move On*, and let it be a surprise if they contact you.

      *(c) Ask A Manager

      1. Interview timeframe*

        I’m trying to mentally move on! This company has been dragging and from the Glassdoor reviews that doesn’t seem to be the norm for them. So I don’t know what’s going on.

    4. Sunflower*

      If you haven’t followed up, 2 weeks is enough time to follow up. When I accepted my current job, I can’t remember how long I was waiting but I did have to follow up with the recruiter on next steps. She said she was still trying to figure out if I needed to meet with anyone else. As with all things job searching, best to follow up and proceed as if you didn’t get the job until you hear otherwise.

      1. Interview timeframe*

        I sent thank you emails to the interviewers afterwards. I did hear from the recruiter that they were wrapping up interviews last week. I’ll send a follow up email next week since I don’t want to send anything on a Friday.

        1. juliebulie*

          Hiring manager was doing chemo and no one else was taking up the slack for her (plus she wouldn’t let anyone help). But even after I got the phone call, it was nearly a month before all of the necessary execs (who were not undergoing chemo) got around to signing off on everything.

    5. NeonDreams*

      I interviewed for a federal position over a month ago but haven’t heard back. I’ve heard it can take up to 3 months, so I’m trying to be patient. It’s hard, though.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      It probably depends on your industry and location, but I would think that two weeks is still entirely reasonable for just about every industry. The company may have been dealing with some internal crises, the hiring manager might be out sick, maybe they had a freak power outage and now priority one is resetting all the clocks and microwaves. At this point, I think there are a lot of reasonable explanations for a two week waiting period.

    7. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I once interviewed in February and got the offer in June. Hiring timelines vary wildly! (in this case, the funding for the project I would be managing was delayed–I had long written off the company, but it turns out it was just timing and they wanted me, just couldn’t pay me yet)

    8. Staja*

      I interviewed in May and got my offer in late July. Started August 27th of last year. This was also my second round of interviews – the original person hired didn’t work out, so my first interview was actually December 2017…(Tech company, in finance)

  41. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

    Do you have any common corporate buzzwords that annoy you?

    Off the top of my head:

    “Ask” as a noun. “I know this is a big ask, but I need volunteers for inventory this weekend.”

    Using “around” instead of “about”. “We’ve had discussions around contingency planning”

    1. Kowalski! Options!*

      “Pen holder”. As in, “Sansa is the pen holder for the Teapot Modernization Project.”
      I don’t even know what it means and it irritates me to no end.

      1. Policy wonk*

        It means Sansa is responsible for writing the report (or other written products) and others with input should provide it to her. She has the pen on the report, holds the pen for the project.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      “We’ve had discussions around contingency planning”

      What does that even mean? It sounds like you’ve sorta-kinda-discussed it but not in any meaningful or change-initiating way.

      And I hate “ask”, too. It’s a request. Just call it a request.

      1. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

        This is EXACTLY why I don’t like it!

        I worked as a financial services admin assistant for four years, supporting fiduciaries. That means they were required to act in the best interest of the client, and had to document all calls and meetings with clients. When I suggested to leadership that we specifically NOT use “around” in that context they looked at me like I has two heads.

    3. rayray*

      I really loathe office speak. The one I don’t like is “Please advise”. I hate when it comes after a question like “Hey, I never got the report on x, so you have that for me? Please advise.”
      It just… I don’t know. I hate the way its used sometimes. You’re not asking for my input or advice on something, so I can’t “advise” you on that.

      1. juliebulie*

        Especially when there’s an explicit question before it. I get that it’s a question and they want an answer, so “please advise” seems rather demanding.

      2. san junipero*

        In my experience, that means they’re pissed off with you.

        Or at least that’s what it means when I use it, LOL.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That’s how I use it, lol. Or if I’m just annoyed at a particular project in general.

      3. WKRP*

        It’s a passive aggressive way of relinquishing any responsibility and making you handle with whatever it is they’re dealing with. Every time. There is never a time when “please advise” is not used to avoid being involved in a situation. If someone actually wanted advice, they would ask a question, not make a statement.

          1. JustaTech*

            One of my company bigwigs used “synergy” 8 times in three sentences in a big meeting last week. The thing is, it has a very specific scientific meaning, which is similar to but not the same as the business jargon. He used it correctly about half the time, and I think he was just super excited to get to say it.

        1. Ktelzbeth*

          I don’t use “please advise” often, but I’ve never used it to try to relinquish responsibility. I’ve use it when I don’t know what to do and need help. I’ll be happy to do whatever; I just don’t know what whatever is.

      4. Princesa Zelda*

        Oooh, that’s annoying. I almost always use “please advise” in the context of emailing IT because I’m at the end of my troubleshooting rope and need advice. (Ex. “Hi Moss, I’m having trouble with getting the Teapot Program to properly boot. I already turned my computer off and on again, and uninstalled and reinstalled the program, and I’m still seeing Error 626. Please advise.”) But it’d be weird to see an email that said “Do you have xyz? Please advise” because the “please advise” is just another way of saying “please give me directions.”

    4. Beancounter Eric*

      “Reach Out” instead of “contact”
      “Optics” when used for anything outside the scientific definition

      1. Filosofickle*

        I’ve been intrigued by several threads lately on the hatred of “reach out”. I don’t get it! I use it all the time, it’s never occurred to me to see it as overly personal or jargon-y. It simply means contact me. I might say call or email if I’m being specific about the mode of communication, but I use “reach out” to invite someone to contact me when it’s a more general request and there’s no preference how they do it.

        I do have a warm, personal style in business, maybe that’s part of the reason. “Reach out if you need any help” doesn’t seem like a weird thing to say. My alternative is something like “let me know if you need anything” but I need to switch it up sometimes, and also my preference to eliminate I and Me as much as possible in writing.

        1. CheeryO*

          I agree, “reach out” and “touch base” are both fine, imo. I wouldn’t categorize them as jargon.

    5. CatCat*

      “Socialize” when we’re not talking about happy hour or a team lunch. “Great idea, CatCat, let me socialize that with Cersei and Jamie to see what they think.”

      “Circle back.” Why not “follow up” or “get back” or “call/email you later”? Why this jargony term? I had an ex-boss who used it so much that it just grated on me. “Let me think about that CatCat and then circle back to you.”

      1. Jamie*

        Idk about your Jamie, but this Jamie would hear the word socialize and pretend to have an emergency and hide in the lab. :)

      2. rayray*

        Team-

        Good morning, we are living the dream aren’t we? Our meeting was a success, discussing the synergy of the company. Moving forward, we have lots of exciting team-building activities to get the ball rolling on our new initiative. Mary will reach out to the team on this one. Let’s all think outside the box for the game plan for our next meeting, today at 1:00. We’ll need to circle back on a few key items we missed today. Jonathan, will you please pick up the lunch order and Joseph will you please take the minutes? Please Advise.”

        Best,
        Jan

        1. Dusty Bunny*

          Haven’t heard “socialize” in this context, and I’m gonna bust it out at the next “why are we all here? couldn’t you cover this in a e-mail?” meeting. I am going to me the epicenter of this piece of jargon at my company. Oh yeah!!!!

      3. Filosofickle*

        I get that socialize sounds stupid. It should be minimized. When what you mean is “I’m going to check with X and Y” or “let me find out what the team thinks” then those are better.

        I do find that in my consulting work, it can serve a purpose. My client-side people often have to “socialize” our work because we’re delivering data or solutions that may feel threatening, and we have to get leaders to work with us, not against us. That means having one-on-one conversations with key people. Making sure they understand the context and purpose of the work. Bringing them along on the process so they feel like part of the solution. Preparing them for meetings. Getting their feedback early and often so they don’t sandbag us later. Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to call that other than “socialize”. The alternative is a whole paragraph.

        1. Reliquary*

          “Acculturate” if you’re trying to get the key people to get on board with your solutions.
          “Inculturate” if you’re trying to get your solutions in line with the needs of the key people.

      4. Diahann Carroll*

        I’ve never heard socialize used in that manner and, yes, it’s off-putting because it makes no sense.

      5. Earthwalker*

        A bunch of us doing volunteer work were talking about unfavorite office phrases. I mentioned “socialize.” One person burst out laughing. He said that he hadn’t heard it before but when he heard me say it he imagined the management laying down newspapers to teach employees that they couldn’t just pee anywhere.

    6. Quill*

      I think someone who popularized “ask” thought request was too long?

      My least favorite is still “learnings”

    7. College Career Counselor*

      1. Stakeholder. (We have enough stakeholders to take on every vampire in True Blood)
      2. “At the end of the day” (Really? Which day? We’re in higher education; the end of the day means adding an extension)
      3. “When the rubber meets the road” (drastically exaggerates the speed/urgency of anything we decide)
      4. “Based off” numbers, our analysis…” (your analysis should be based ON the numbers, otherwise, your analysis is OFF-base)
      5. optics (except for the astrophysics dept, we aren’t studying light)
      6. surface as a verb (“Dave is like an enemy u-boat commander with the way he surfaces his objections..”)
      7. paradigm-shift (We’re using 70% recycled paper, not shifting the paradigm from creation to evolution over here)
      8. I forget what 8 was for..
      9. Disruptive Innovation vs. Incremental Innovation (this can actually be useful, but it still bugs me)
      10. Breaking down the silos (you’d think we were an agricultural school here)

      1. juliebulie*

        9 for a lost god?

        I’ve been hatin’ on “leverage” for a long time. (I don’t think much of “utilize” either.)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Utilize is one of my pet peeves. It’s a great word when it is with a very specific meaning and people don’t use that mean. You use something the way it is designed. You utilize something in a way that it wasn’t designed for. The classic example: “I use my cast-iron pan to cook breakfast. Last night I utilized it to drive off a burglar.”
          By definition if you are writing a manual, you are telling customers how to use a product. The only time utilize would be appropriate is in a warning: “Do not utilize this penny as a nose plug.”

        2. Princess Scrivener*

          So so late but +a MILLION on the “utilize.” I have an editing rule set up to change all instances of “utilize” to “use.” Yep, that’s right. I said it.

        1. Southern Yankee*

          +100
          My mind actually supplied the rhythm and voice in my head as I read #8 and it took me a second to realize why. That’s a deeply imbedded subconscious song reference right there!

      2. Gumby*

        Stakeholder is a big thing in project management, but I don’t know of a reasonably short substitution. “All the people who have a stake in this project whether it be as a contributor, an eventual end user, upper management, or the team that will eventually have to provide support for the project’s resulting product” just doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as nicely. If you need to address just one of those groups, fine, but when you are putting together a stakeholder communication plan, you really need a broadly applicable term to cover everyone.

      1. Out of Retail*

        AGREED. (I edited something the other day with multiple forms of “utilize” in one sentence…it hurt so much.)

      2. JustaTech*

        “Use” has fewer letters! Use it!

        (But of course now utilize has the additional definition as a synonym to “use” where it used to only mean “use in an unintended way”.)

    8. Goldfinch*

      “Challenge” when you mean “problem”. I don’t have time for your optimist bullshit when the world is on fire, Karen.

      1. Jamie*

        I use issue instead of problem after one too many bosses said the word problem was too negative.

        Still sets my teeth on edge even when I do it all the time.

        1. Zephy*

          An old boss of mine (apparently) got the same feedback re: “problem.” She replaced it with the word “opportunity.”

          Later, she apologized for being late one morning, citing “stomach opportunities.”