open thread – October 25-26, 2019

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

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

{ 1,769 comments… read them below }

  1. Peaches*

    Yesterday, we had a customer come into our office who was super creepy, and I’m wondering how (or if) I should handle it differently next time.

    I work for a chemical supplier, and we occasionally have walk-in customers. I don’t usually deal with these customers, but it is my responsibility when my coworker is at lunch. While he was at lunch yesterday, an older man (probably mid 70’s) came in to pick up an order, so I went to the front counter to assist him. I am in my mid 20’s. During our whole interaction, he was staring at me intently and looking me up and down (for what it’s worth, I was dressed appropriately). When his order had been brought to him by our warehouse, I said “thank you!” expecting him to leave at that point. Instead, he lingered at the front counter, and said “you’re awfully purty, you know that?” I was grossed up, but figured I had to be cordial since he was a customer. So, I just forced a smile and said “have a nice day, sir.” He took a few steps towards our front door, and I thought he was finally leaving. Instead, he turns around and says. “you must have not heard me. I SAID you’re awfully purty.” He seemed offended that I hadn’t thanked him the first time, so I quietly said thank you, and he left.

    After he left, my manager (woman, mid 50’s) who was in her office (which is within ear shot of the pick up counter), started chuckling and said “Peaches, you’re awfully purty. All he wanted was a thank you!” She seemed halfway joking by indicating I should have thanked him the first time, but it still irked me. I just kind of laughed it off and moved on with my day.

    Now, I’m wondering if I should have said something differently to the customer, and/or my manager after the incident. I felt like I had to be polite to the customer, but it felt so gross to thank him for his unwanted comments. Any advice if this were to happen again?

    We had a customer a few years ago who was similarly creepy, and I dreaded seeing him walk through the front door. Similarly to how I felt yesterday, I felt powerless to call him our out for being inappropriate. Fortunately, he stopped coming in for whatever reason. Any advice?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You shouldn’t have said anything different. In fact, you were extremely professional, given the circumstances. Your manager, however, handled this badly. She should have had your back and told the customer that that’s not appropriate or acceptable. Yes, customers bring money to the company, but that shouldn’t give them free rein to harass employees.

      1. Just Elle*

        Agreed. I think re-framing this would help you. You’re not powerless. You absolutely would have been within your rights to tell him off if you wanted to. But you chose not to and thats the right call. You aren’t going to gain anything by going off on a guy like this, he’s certainly not going to learn any lessons from you saying something, and you don’t owe it to anyone to encourage any kind of hostile escalation when grinning and bearing it ended the situation much more quickly and in a polite manner.

        Still, I’m sorry people are sucky creeps.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Our corporate policy on harassment specifically calls out behavior by customers and vendors. Step 1: Uncomfortable employee or their observant co-worker tells management that the situation is inappropriate and needs to stop. Step 2: The manager should tell the vendor/customer/etc to stop. Step3: If manager doesn’t, go on up to HR.

        Good luck!

    2. Booksnbooks*

      I’m sorry this happened. I don’t have any advice to give, unfortunately. I think you handled it the best way you could.

    3. SuperAnon*

      Also think you handled it correctly. People are asses.

      Not thinking too highly of your manager right now tho…

    4. ACDC*

      Holy deja vu! I went through a VERY similar scenario when I was working at a steel manufacturer. A customer was behaving similarly to what you were describing and I was uncomfortable. I excused myself and asked one of my male coworkers to take over for me. I was ostracized by the owner of the company (a woman) because of my poor customer service skills. I explained how uncomfortable I was and she told me to get over my millennial entitlements. I put in my notice a month later.

        1. Zillah*

          I’ve gotten that, too – they weren’t calling me entitled, but they were basically saying “I have mixed feelings on MeToo, yeah some things are awful but some things are just how things are sometimes – I had my male boss proposition me during a long drive when I was in my 20s and say he didn’t care I was married. It’s not great but we shouldn’t overreact.”

          And like. Like. Like.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Oh yeah and it’s not a generational thing either.

            I have had people in our generation and even the younger crowd who are like “Argh, well look at what she was wearing” kind of stuff and all the “boys will be boys” hasn’t magically been dying out with the Greatest Gen and Boomers.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        I’m sorry you had to wait a whole month to put in notice after experiencing that! How awful.

    5. Master Bean Counter*

      I probably would have said, very pleasantly, “I heard you just fine, Have a good day sir!”
      I would have flat out laughed at the manager too.

      1. Tupac Coachella*

        I like this response, but with a flat stating-the-facts tone. FWIW, Peaches, I think your response was fine, but if you *want* to call him out (because I think in the context we live in, you in no way have a responsibility to do so, but you have every right to), something like “Please don’t comment on my appearance. Have a good day,” would still be professional and merited. He wouldn’t think so, but he’s a douche, soooo….

    6. Quinalla*

      I think you handled it as best you could, so don’t be too hard on yourself. If you are up for it, I’d talk to your manager. She should have supported you and talked to him, that shouldn’t be on you to do. Sorry your manager failed here, you should be able to go to your manager for support when something like this happens!

    7. No honey you're fine.*

      If I were your manager I would have your back on this. I would support you in saying “oh, I heard you. Have a good day now!”

      You are not obligated to discuss your appearance with anyone at work. You are not obligated to be flattered by people who comment on your appearance or your body. And you are totally allowed to make up code phrases that sound polite while blowing people off- “bless your heart” is a widely known example.

    8. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

      I don’t know if you have to call out the customer for this yet. It was an odd thing for him to say but not really crossing the line yet. You could have pushed your manager more. Tell her the comments made you uncomfortable and if it escalates she will need to step in. You should add that she may have not noticed that he had been leering throughout your interaction.

      1. NextTimeGadget*

        It’s absolutely inappropriate for an old man to stare lecherously at a young woman, and then essentially demand to be thanked for an undesired comment on her physical appearance. The line is crossed if you’re uncomfortable, and there’s nothing rude about being clear that someone’s made you uncomfortable. This thinking that women should quietly sit by and be silently uncomfortable because “it’s not that bad” needs to go.

        1. AdminX2*

          Agreed on the inappropriate. Calling out a customer service person on their appearance is already bad. Making a comment and acting entitled to force a response is disgusting.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I feel obligated to point out that it doesn’t matter the age or the genders: It’s absolutely inappropriate for *anyone* to stare lecherously at an employee. And for them to demand to be thanked on the inappropriate comment too.

      2. Fact & Fiction*

        I disagree that it didn’t cross any lines yet. It absolutely crosses the line for any customer to make unsolicited comments on a customer service person’s appearance. Then the act of demanding that person say “THANK YOU” for the unsolicited comment stomps all over the line until there is no longer a clearly visible line. Which is kind of the point from the person making the comment’s point of view. There is a dynamic of power in it coming from an older male customer toward a younger female customer service representative as well, for several reasons.

        People in professional environments should be able to expect to do their jobs without having random comments about their attractiveness inserted into work situations, full stop. This goes double for women who are so often made to feel like they should LIKE being complimented on their appearances, should just be grateful, and SMILE MORE.

        OP, I think you handled this as well as you could have under the circumstances. I’m so sorry your manager joked it off rather than taking it seriously.

      3. Chrysanthemum's The Word*

        Sexual harassment is not about the intent it’s about how it makes the victim feel. We all get to determine for ourselves what that line is.

        1. Kendra*

          This +100. It’s not about where anyone else thinks the line is; it’s the person who’s actually in that situation who gets to make that call.

    9. Jennifer*

      I’m sorry that happened. I don’t think you did anything wrong. Maybe you can revisit things with your manager today and let her know how uncomfortable it made you and ask for her support the next time it happens, whether that’s asking for a customer to leave or even telling them their business is no longer welcome if they are a repeat offender.

      In her defense, I think that she has seen so many men behaving this way, maybe was treated the same way herself when she was younger, so she’s kind of desensitized to how it feels. Not saying that makes it okay, but she may not be a terrible person. She may just be in need of a wake-up call.

    10. pleaset*

      I’m responding to critique the manager. The old guy was a creep. The manager was terrible to sort of exacerbate it. There are creeps in the world among customers, but colleagues not having your back is terrible.

      OP – you did well I think.

    11. Chili*

      You handled it as best as you could. I think in every creeper situation we search for the perfect way to respond, but the truth is that creepers are breaking the social contract (knowingly or not) in such a way that makes it very difficult to respond. Saying thank you is the best way to get them to stop and leave, but it affirms their behavior in an icky way that always makes me feel complicit.

      Your manager didn’t handle it very well. It’s possible she was laughing at the dark humor of the matter (saying “you’re awfully purty” is a weird/cringey/funny phrase), but it is sexual harassment and she should have asked if you were alright or, better yet, intervened on your behalf since she could hear what was happening.

    12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      What? No. This isn’t acceptable.

      Also laughing off harassment by a customer is a good way to get the entire company in hot water, we have to protect our employees from outside sources of harassment as well…not just internal. So your manager needs some frigging training, laughing is not the appropriate response. The response is to flag this customer as an issue and to have others available to escort him out the next time he comes in and if he tries to pull any shenanigans.

    13. Forestdweller*

      Ew, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that kind of grossness at work. I work in more casual environments and I try to say something like “Well, pretty doesn’t have anything to do with getting the job done! Have a great day!” or “That’s a weird compliment, I thought you’d appreciate the great service!” in a bight, upbeat tone. Granted, there are managers who won’t love that response as it’s not “customer service-y” enough, but if you were to get push back from the manager, you say something like “I understand- I don’t want our customers to feel uncomfortable. I also don’t want anyone-customers or employees- to comment on my physical appearance, as that makes me feel uncomfortable, which shouldn’t happen at a job. How can we handle this?” Hopefully that would be a nice way to imply that there could be bigger issues if they DON’T address the way customers are behaving. Best luck!

    14. Mama Bear*

      If she makes light of it again or you can’t shake it, I would tell my manager, “I know it didn’t seem like much from your perspective, but for the record, I felt very uncomfortable with that customer’s behavior. I was not impolite to him, but I don’t think I should have to thank a customer for unwanted attention. I want to be clear that I don’t find it funny.” I don’t think there was anything wrong with what you initially said to the customer.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This, exactly: “I felt uncomfortable, and I was not impolite to him, but I don’t think I should have to thank a customer for unwanted (and inappropriate) attention” is EXACTLY right.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I’m An Old™ (48) and I have never, ever understood what goes on in some rando stranger’s head who gives you a rando compliment out of nowhere and then has an expectation that you will then thank them for said rando comment.

    15. #1 The Larch*

      Ugh, that sucks. I’m sorry your manager didn’t back you up. No one should have to deal with harassment.

      I have an anecdote. I often have a “boomer-aged” caller who every time I speak with him calls me “hun” or “sweetie.” It’s an irritant, but with my phone demeanor I usually just ignore it. He’s very pleasant otherwise and has given me praise for my phone etiquette so I just ignore it. One of these days I think I’ll say, “my name is ‘Larch’ sir. Have a nice day!”

    16. ResuMAYDAY*

      When I was a kid, a neighbor was helping me train a new puppy. I kept talking to this puppy in a high-pitched, baby voice and not surprisingly, the puppy just kept playing and ignoring. The neighbor told me, “Use your low voice.” I did, and the puppy immediately paid attention and started to learn.
      So now, I share this advice with you. Use your low voice. When a customer comes in and says something obnoxious, don’t quietly demur. Firmly say, “thank you for your order. Have a good day.”
      Train the puppies. That’s the only way they learn. When you’re strong enough to do this, your manager would realize her ridiculous input isn’t needed.

      1. Nesprin*

        I am guessing this was not your intent but I got a strong its your fault for being sexually harassed from this comment.
        OP should not have to deal with these comments at work, and if she does, her boss should step in. It doesn’t matter how she was dressed, or how she spoke or whether she was too friendly or not friendly enough.

        1. Millie*

          I agree with you, Nesprin. I’m a soft-spoken non-confrontational person. I encounter creepy pervs weekly, and they shouldn’t be compared to sweet puppies. (My pup is on my lap right now.)

          1. pancakes*

            I’m not particularly non-confrontational, and even so it can be startling when someone says or does something inappropriate, and very difficult to respond in the moment. This incident reminds me of a guy who was ringing me up in a health food store and said, as I was putting my card back in my wallet, “If I was 20 years younger I’d be chasing you around the store!” He clearly thought he was giving me a compliment. I was so taken aback by it, I just made an awkward sort-of-laugh noise and left. On other, similar occasions I’ve been able to get it together to respond more forcefully than that, but it’s not always possible. Some interactions are just too weird too fast.

        2. Roverandom*

          I didn’t read it that way. Of course the creepy customer should not have treated OP that way, and OP handled it the best they could in the moment. There is nothing OP could do to prevent him from being creepy. But maybe the customer wouldn’t have repeated his gross comment if OP had responded more strongly and firmly. It might make OP feel less helpless in the future to know that it’s OK to take a firmer stand with customers, which is what OP was asking for advice on.

        3. ResuMAYDAY*

          Nesprin and Millie, are you two serious? (Trust me, I’m using my low voice right now.)
          Your misunderstanding is 100% on you and frankly, I resent the implication that I am blaming the employee or comparing an old perv to a cute puppy.
          If either of you have ever taken a self-defense or martial arts class, the FIRST thing they teach you is to use a loud, strong voice, whether you’re saying NO or throwing a punch.
          Look and listen to any strong, female leader. They’ve mastered this. *I* have mastered this, which is why I don’t need anyone else – boss, husband, friend, stranger to ‘step in’ for me.

      2. Cathy Gale*

        I am with Roverandom. I did not think ResuMAYDAY’s comment is blaming anyone for the customer’s obnoxious, entitled, creepy behavior – except the customer.

        I’ve got a baby face and am assumed to be a millenial. Sometimes strangers patronize me. I often find that using my lower register, a clear, cool stare and other signs of non-intimidation, can get them to back off their behavior. It doesn’t make it my fault if I am cheerful and open in my first experience with a stranger, and they treat me poorly. This is simply a strategy I can use to show them that I’m not going to put up with their antics.

    17. Lalaith*

      I’m hoping this situation doesn’t happen again, but if your manager says anything like that again, what I’d do is assume/pretend she’s being sarcastic and lean into it. “Ugh, yeah, that was kinda gross, wasn’t it? Did you see the way he was eyeing me?!” And hopefully that would give her a clue, or allow you to ask for her to have your back in defending yourself against gross people. Unfortunately, I don’t really have advice for the defense part :-/ Though I like what other people have said, “I heard you. Have a nice day!”

    18. User 483*

      I usually reply “I know.” Can be said with different inflections and smile or not, depending on exactly what tone I am trying to get across. For a customer in general it would just be a casual tone and no smile, then prob smile on the “have a nice day” part.

      I like the “I know” since it isn’t thanking them for commenting and it isn’t following their expectations of gratitude. And it doesn’t have to be said harshly.

      Creepers being creepy generally get the flat tone and no smile. Situations where it is more friendly and said among other general chatting then it is more of a casual tone and a smile. If I do actually want to flirt with them and such, then maybe a saucy smirk and something said similar back to them.

    19. Anona*

      I think however you can respond while feeling safe is the right thing.

      I HATE stuff like this– I always think of the perfect comeback later. But you did nothing wrong. If in the future you wanted to respond differently, using some of the responses others have brainstormed, that’s fine. But you did nothing wrong.

      Your coworker, however, was in the wrong. I’d talk to her, and/or her manager or your manager, depending on your comfort level.

    20. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Gross.

      The way I have handled it in retail situations is by hollering to the targeted person, “Person, I need you NOW. Please come here!”

      It would be up to the person to say, “Gotta go! Emergency! Have a nice day!” Of course the person I am hollering to understands that I am not yelling AT them. I am creating a fake emergency so they can immediately leave the conversation pretending to be distracted. They know there is no emergency.

      Other times I have been able to work my into the conversation between Mr. Leer and Ms. Coworker. It comes up often enough the Mr. Leer keeps asking for one more thing and then one more thing. I would just step in and say, “I got it!” then bring it over. It’s enough of a distraction that my cohort could back out and I would finish the transaction. What I like about this is the message is clear, “If you start to act inappropriate with this employee, then the employee will be freed up to walk away from you.”

      Please talk to your boss about these techniques. In her defense, this probably does not come up often enough to hammer out a plan. Additionally, this stuff will blindside a person. It took me a few years to figure out what the problem was (random and blindsiding) and a bit more to figure out an effective plan.

      I will say this is key: When she steps in for you, you MUST step away. She can’t bail you if you don’t step away.

      And don’t worry about not effectively put Mr. Leer in his place. These people don’t get it and never will. Walking away is the solution.

    21. justanobody*

      –he turns around and says. “you must have not heard me. I SAID you’re awfully purty.”

      “You’re awful purty too!”

      1. LilySparrow*

        I have seen people totally get away with stuff like this by pretending they didn’t really hear and turning back to what they’re doing.

        “You too, uh-huh, buh-bye now!”

    22. A tester, not a developer*

      I would have gone with a slightly raised eyebrow and “What an odd thing to say”.

      1. T-Rex Arms*

        This. It’s a very AAM answer! Or, “Thank you for your business” as a response. Or, if you want to be very clear and bada$$ about it, “I appreciate your business, but not your comments on my appearance.” Your employer, however, is the one responsible for handling this. So if it happens again, or if you know this guy is a regular customer/know when(ish) he is coming in, ask your manager to be on standby and ready to tell this customer that this isn’t ok. You are allowed to be caught off guard by this offensive behavior, you are allowed to find it offensive and you are allowed to feel that you are in a workplace that supports a harassment free environment.

        Ick,

      2. Parcae*

        That works! My go-to with unwanted remarks is “No thank you!” The way I think about it is that I am not obligated to accept compliments (or criticism or what have you). People can offer them, but I get to decide whether to accept them (“Thank you!”) or not.

        Also, it tends to baffle people long enough for me to make my escape.

    23. Anon, good Nurse*

      Ugh, sorry this happened to you. I have had success with saying “You know, you really shouldn’t say that to people in the workplace” in a generous but firm tone. It allows me to establish a firm professional boundary while letting them save face, and preemptively deescalates what can often become a tense encounter. I agree with many commenters here–I think you handled this really well!

    24. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      You handled it well in the moment, though I would have felt annoyed at myself, too, for the capitulatory thank you. Is the front area set up in such a way that you could turn your back? A second, more measured “Have a nice day” plus a back turn would signal the interaction is over without dignifying the out-of-bounds behavior with a response. Or if you can’t turn your back, perhaps ignore him and fake-busy yourself with something.

    25. Peaches*

      Thank you to everyone that commented. I appreciate you sharing your suggestions and experiences with this!

    26. FlissShields*

      When this happened to me in my former job my then manager was horrified. Unfortunately the man in question really wanted *just me* to help him.

      When he turned up in person my manager INSISTED I meet with him (the Grand Boss thought he wasn’t that bad and insisted for the sales of client relations that I meet with him) in the public part of our Reception area and he walked the circuit repeatedly until we were done.

      Turned out he was a very elderly man who hadn’t realised how pushy he was being and it was okay in the end – but I was so grateful to my boss for at least attempting to protect me.

    27. LilySparrow*

      This isn’t a “should-have” suggestion, because I think you were in a no-win situation and got through it in a perfectly reasonable way. Being creeped on is icky, and there’s not really any course of action that’s going to leave you feeling great about it.

      But sometimes when I want to blow through a situation without either playing along or being directly confrontational, I’ll fall back on sort of bland, chipper phrases like “Okay, you bet.” or “Got it!” or even “Okie dokie, you have a great day, now!”
      It sounds a bit stupid, but you can pack a lot of “this is over now, go away” into a small shiny package with cliches like that.

      And IME, they are pretty effective on men of a Certain Age.

      Best of luck – I hope you don’t have to deal with this guy again. Ew.

    28. twist and twist and shout*

      My advice, if it happens again, is to simply say “thank you!”

      The customer is “an older man (probably mid 70’s)” and “super creepy” – I assume he’s creepy because he’s old and looked at you and tried to make some small talk? Would he still have been creepy if he was in his mid-20’s or mid-30’s? What if he was, say, from Slovakia and had an accent?

      I don’t usually deal with these customers, but it is my responsibility when my coworker is at lunch.

      So customer service is actually a part of your job, right? I think you and your manager should have a meeting and discuss exactly what “customer service” means. It generally involves a certain amount of “be nice to the customers”, because in addition to fetching packages, you are the interface between your company and the client. Your interaction with any client could cause the client to leave and do business elsewhere, or bring in even more business.

      It all boils down to “Respect”: in this case, respect for the client, respect for his age, respect and tolerance for ways that he might be different. If he was from France, or Brazil, and/or maybe his English skills weren’t great, you would – I hope! – cut him a break for some kind of verbal gaffe he made. This “older” “super creepy” fellow simply tried to pay you a compliment. There are a lot of men in his age bracket who think this is part of being a gentleman. You might consider it “inappropriate” etc, but – especially if it’s part of your customer service job – you’re expected to accept it as a compliment and say “thank you”.

      Frankly, it sounds to me like you saw he was old and you immediately judged him to be a “creep” and not worthy of respect. You wouldn’t like it if I saw you were young and judged you to be an entitled millennial.

      I suspect that your manager would agree with me on most of this. You wrote that “She seemed halfway joking by indicating I should have thanked him the first time … I just kind of laughed it off …” It sounds to me like she was attempting to give you a “hint”. IMHE, you ignore hints from your boss at your peril. I would strongly encourage you to sit down with her and ask her to speak to you directly on the topic.

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        He didn’t just “look at her”: During our whole interaction, he was staring at me intently and looking me up and down (for what it’s worth, I was dressed appropriately). When his order had been brought to him by our warehouse, I said “thank you!” expecting him to leave at that point. Instead, he lingered at the front counter, and said “you’re awfully purty, you know that?”

        No matter where he’s from, he knows other ways to “make small talk” than staring at the customer service person, waiting until the transaction is over, and then commenting on her appearance Either that, or he has spent the last half century not making small talk with other men, which seems unlikely and would mean that he can get through life without making small talk with people. That demanding “You must not have heard me, I SAID you were awfully purty” isn’t non-sexual small talk.

        Respect should go both ways: saying that men get to comment on a woman’s appearance, and she should “take it as a compliment,” and he doesn’t have to accept the obvious fact that she isn’t taking it as a compliment isn’t about respect. That “You must not have heard me, I SAID” means that he knows she didn’t like what he said, but insists that she soothe his ego by thanking him for ignoring the ways that she is different from him.

        Yes, some male customers are overbearing, and the OP’s boss might want her to accept that in order to keep their business. But there’s a difference between “unfortunately, the working world is like that sometimes” and “you should appreciate what he said, even though you didn’t feel comfortable, because his feelings are so much more important that it wouldn’t be enough to pretend that sort of sexualized personal remark is OK, you have to start liking it.”

        (It’s not about being a millennial; I’m closer to the creeper’s age than to OP’s.)

        1. twist and twist and shout*

          Your response confused me, because I never said she should “appreciate” the comment, or start to “like” the behavior. Essentially, I think she needs to accept this kind of thing as part of her job. Most jobs have some unpleasantness associated with them.

          You also seem pretty certain that you know what this “creepy” guy knows and thinks and says. I don’t know how you know this stuff.

          For myself, the OP does not come off as a particularly reliable narrator, and while I could be wrong, the OP’s manager’s reaction seems significant. I do hope that the OP will discuss the incident with her manager. Because as much as the OP and everyone else can be indignant about it, there’s “what we think should be correct” and there is “reality”. I believe it is in the OP’s best interest to get clear on the reality of her job.

          All of you people who are saying “oh, that’s terrible, you shouldn’t stand for that!” and being sympathetic aren’t helping the OP. You’re simply reinforcing poor behavior.

          1. Roverandom*

            -it’s pretty gross and unhelpful to call OP an “unreliable narrator” about her own feelings and experience. You are distracted by the description of his age. He was creepy because of his behavior, ie clearly hitting on someone working, not because of his age.

            -We don’t need to speculate about how this guy might have meant well. It’s irrelevant. OP isn’t asking “was this guy objectively creepy?” but “how can I handle customers who seem creepy?”

            -yes there is a degree of “this is what happens” in terms of sexual harassment in retail. I agree that it would be helpful for OP to clear with her boss how much she is expected to tolerate. Because if it’s significant, she may want to leave. Sexual harassment, like wage theft and bullying and wage gaps and nepotism, is common in the working world but that doesn’t mean it’s an “acceptable unpleasantness” for most people.

            -what is your actual advice on how she should handle this situation? What do you think is “respectful”? It sounds like you think she should chalk up his rudeness to being old/foreign and out-of-touch with modern manners, try to take it as a compliment, and cry quietly at home.

      2. LilySparrow*

        Nope. Leering is rude and demeaning.

        Leering has *always* been rude and demeaning. Seventy year old men know perfectly well that it’s not okay – that’s why they don’t do it in front of their wives. They don’t do it to their boss’ daughter. They don’t do it to their female boss or client. They do it when they believe they can get away with it.

        Leering and demanding a woman act grateful for your attention is disgusting behavior regardless of age, language, looks, or national background.

        And anyone who tells you they didn’t know better, or that it’s okay where they come from, is lying. Flat-out lying. Because they know perfectly well doing it to the “wrong” person or in the wrong context would carry consequences.

      3. LizM*

        Peaches said the interaction made her uncomfortable, and we should take her at her word.

        I’ve worked in a male-dominated field most of my career, and there is definitely a group of men who know exactly how to go right up to the line, but maintain an “ah, shucks, I was just trying to be nice” level of plausible deniability. I’ve especially seen it with older men interacting with younger women.

      4. LizM*

        Also, I know manage people who interact with the public. I’m very clear with them that I don’t expect them to take abuse. I would not expect an employee to say thank you in the situation (although I don’t have an issue with Peaches response)

      5. Peaches*

        …I’m genuinely so taken aback by your comment that I have to think you’re at least halfway joking. YES, it would have absolutely been as creepy to me if he was in his 20’s or 30’s, or had an accent, etc. with the way he behaved (I’m happily married FWIW, but that’s really not the point.) His creepiness was not relate to his age – his creepiness was related to his behavior, which was clearly inappropriate. I’m shocked that you’re take is that it “sounds like [I] immediately judged him to be a creep and not worthy of respect” based on the context. I was MORE than respectful, despite his inappropriate behavior. I was extremely polite, so I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that I was anything but respectful. Also, there are plenty of elderly men who don’t behave the way this man did. My default certainly isn’t to deem someone creepy based on their older age. You’re off base.

    29. Former Retail Manager*

      Well, on the up side, most people in this man’s age range are dying off pretty rapidly, so in about 10 years or so, you won’t have to deal with this from that age group. I’m being somewhat sarcastic. I get that it was unwanted and you could have responded any number of ways that other commenters suggested, but my question is, do you really think that saying something along the lines of “Please don’t comment on my appearance” is going to change the future actions of someone that age? I assure you, it isn’t. They’re set in their ways and most grew up with very different norms, beliefs, etc than what someone your age has grown up with. Factor in their level of education, geographic location (I think the Southerners are the worst & I’m a Southerner) and whether they grew up in a city vs a rural setting and you can get some real interesting remarks. I grew up with people of this customer’s age as my “elders” and I personally roll my eyes (internally) at the sweetie, darlin’, you’re so purty, remarks, but I never bother to say anything because I know they aren’t going to change and quite frankly, it’s just going to piss them off or hurt their feelings, which may or may not impact your job. So long as they don’t touch me, I just think that they’ll all be dead soon and move on.

      1. Millie*

        I’ve had the same sarcastic thoughts. Hopefully it will be an uncommon occurrence when my daughters join the workforce. In the meantime, it is not in my job description to accept unwanted compliments from creeps of any age/background.

  2. Mathilde*

    Can we talk about the political cost of standing up for social issues at work ?

    (Context : I am a white woman working in an established start-up in Paris).

    Before I go into it, let’s just acknowledge that :
    1) We should ideally stand up for what is right regardless of the personal cost (especially when it is a corporate one and not… a life and death thing)
    2 ) It is much (much) worse to be discriminated against than to be thought of as the annoying social justice warrior.

    I hope I won’t get piled on about this. Believe me, I know how privileged you have to be to be able to wonder whether to choose to just opt-out if the fallback is too hard.

    That said… it is not that easy, and I DO think about it. As I advance in my career, I think a lot about the best way to progress. I am ambitious, and I definitely want to continue to be promoted and earn more money. I am also sensitive to a lot of social issues and I find myself more often than not to be the person who will say “That is not okay”.

    How do you navigate the drive to do what is right, and the fact that this can cost a lot ?

    Example : About 3 weeks ago, a colleague (Jane) said something quite racist. This was not the first time. I was taken by surprise and I was not involved in the conversation, so I just gave her a startled look.
    After hesitating for a few days, I decided to mention it to her manager – Mary – who said that she would talk to her. I did it in the privacy of a meeting room.

    This morning, her manager (who sits on the Board) came to see me, and said that she talked to her, but basically, next time, I should just talk directly to Jane. Mary was angry against me for coming to her (she said so herself), talked to me loudly in the middle of the open space, and gave me all the “explanations” you usually get : this is just how Jane is, this was just humour, yes he is fat and black anyway etc… She said she went to MY manager to tell him about it.

    I don’t regret speaking up, but I also know that there is a cost to being the person who does, especially in an organisation where the people at the top don’t really care about social issues. In this case, I doubt it will change that much for me, but it definitely eroded the good will Mary might have had towards me.

    What do you recommend ? Picking your battles ? Estimating which is the most outrageous and choosing this one, but the off-beat racist joke won’t even get picked up any more ?

    This feels so cynical – and privileged. But I find myself wondering if you have any tips.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      This morning, her manager (who sits on the Board) came to see me, and said that she talked to her, but basically, next time, I should just talk directly to Jane.

      Another manager handling things badly.

      No, you absolutely did the right thing by speaking up (well, at another company or with another manager, you would have been doing the right thing), and this is not the sort of thing that needs to be addressed directly to the person. Yes, if you feel comfortable doing so and you genuinely believe the person making the racist remark will take you seriously, you can address it directly, but management should have repercussions for that and, frankly, not tolerate it.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I disagree, its been my experience that speaking up in person for relatively minor infractions yields the best results. Speaking up to the person in a kind “not sure you knew” way can drive positive change.

        In my experience, others are more likely to have your back this way too.

        Where as when I have gone to a manager for similarly severe racist comments, suddenly no one recalls that happening. I was made to seem as if I missheard, then my credibility with my manage dropped, when literally the same people backed me up when we called that person out in the moment.

        Just something to be aware of re: political capital at work addressing social issues in person vs to a manager.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Picking your battles. It really depends on situation and environment as to whether or not to do it. It sounds like in your case, it’s…not likely to do any good and pretty likely to do you harm. You might want to read about whistleblowers and the experiences they have vs. how they feel about doing it, and think about whether or not the cost to your career/life is worth it, or if you just HAVE to stand up and say something no matter what the cost.

      1. Summertime*

        I definitely agree with picking your battles. In a relatively respectful work environment, if a coworker makes an off-beat racist joke, I’d probably let it go unless I felt that coworker would translate that racism into how they would treat others at work. (Though there is a need to address a pattern of microaggressions. There’s so much nuance!) It is also better to address things when they happen and/or directly with the person but it’s not realistic for you to do either in any and all situations, so rely on your good judgment!

        In your particular instance, I agree that you addressed it appropriately and the manager was not taking these concerns seriously enough.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      Mary is only right that you should have corrected Jane in the moment. Going to Mary a day later to pass along a secondhand comment isn’t going to do much good, especially since she spoke to Jane about it, and Jane told her you took what she said out of context and she was “just joking.”

      The rest of her speech about how this is just who Jane is…well, yeah – she’s a racist. If you were in the US and constantly heard her racist conversations, I would have told you to speak with HR since her manager doesn’t seem to care about the issue and her rhetoric would be opening the company up to a discrimination suit. If you have a similar department at your company that deals with whatever discrimination laws you have in your country, if such laws exist, then the I’d tell you to loop them in the next time Jane says something racist – but only after you’ve checked her in the moment.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      The personal cost of standing up is real, and choosing your battles isn’t a matter of privilege. Everyone has to choose their battles, because nobody can be a one-person crusade for All That Is Unjust In The World. People who are directly impacted by whatever -ism is currently the focus (racism, in your example) will also choose whether or not there’s a battle worth fighting when a particular incident arises.

      Choosing your battles, though, isn’t just about what’s most outrageous, but what will make the biggest difference. Sometimes you can get more traction with a smaller change that will pave the way for later, larger changes, and part of doing that is conserving your political capital for when those smaller changes come along.

      1. Bertha*

        “Choosing your battles, though, isn’t just about what’s most outrageous, but what will make the biggest difference. Sometimes you can get more traction with a smaller change that will pave the way for later, larger changes, and part of doing that is conserving your political capital for when those smaller changes come along.”

        Thank you, this is a wonderful way of putting it, and helps put it in perspective for me in other situations as well.

      2. DrD*

        Agree. I’m involved in diversity related work on a professional level, but I’m not a diversity professional. What this means is that I am constantly in the position of choosing what areas of focus have the biggest chance of making a meaningful difference. You have to be strategic. You can easily burn yourself out. In your situation, I would let Jane be Jane, continue to register my disapproval in the moment, but not escalate. I would focus on looking at ways to address inclusion systemically within the company. See if you can get someone higher up to bring in a focus on diversity and inclusion as a way to strengthen the business, for example.

      3. CastIrony*

        “The personal cost of standing up is real, and choosing your battles isn’t a matter of privilege. Everyone has to choose their battles, because nobody can be a one-person crusade for All That Is Unjust In The World.”

        Countess Boochie Flagrante*, with all due respect, I don’t agree. I’m a person of color, and whenever I say something like, “You’re being rude to me”, I’m the one to suffer the fallout and become terrified to work there.

        1. Former Employee*

          See if you can make a point of calling someone out when there are others around who heard how that person spoke to you in a rude way. It’s always better to have a witness.

    5. CurrentlyBill*

      Many circumstances and environments may call for a different response, but I’m a fan of a low key, in-the-moment response of, “That’s not cool,” and moving on. It denies them significant attention, and it makes it harder for them to complain about what they think of as an excessive PC or SJW culture.

      Of course this isn’t always the best approach, but sometimes a simple acknowledgement like this and moving on can be a nice way to shut it down.

      1. Bibrarian*

        I like a “yiiiikes”, myself, but I’m very casual.

        It helps to have like a grab bag of phrases ready to call things out without engaging further, that also work in different settings.

        In addition to the above, think phrases like:
        What an unkind thing to say
        That hasn’t been my experience
        That’s offensive
        That’s inappropriate
        that’s not true
        I haven’t found that to be the case
        Actually, he’s great

        Lots of people recommend a well placed “how so? “ or “what do you mean?” But those do take a little extra skill, and prolong the interaction.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          This is a great list, thanks! I’d also suggest finding a way to practice saying some of those things (with a willing friend maybe*) because the more they can become instinctive the less likely you are to get flustered thinking of the “right” thing to say in the moment.

          *Your friend shouldn’t actually have to say an offensive thing. I’ve seen this work where one person says e.g. “I’m saying a really offensive thing about that person on the street right now!”and then the second person says “That’s offensive.” The first person can vary their tone and demeanor, and the second person can practice saying their response in a few ways until they get comfortable with it.

        2. Long-time AMA Lurker*

          +1. I like a nice, perplexed “I don’t see how that’s relevant.” Had to use this once when someone I worked with complained about not being about to pronounce any of our applicants’ names. Still wish I had done more but it was the best I could do at the time.

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            I would probably have replied to that with an encouraging, syrupy smile and, “I’m sure you’ll be able to learn!”

      2. BWG*

        Agreed. It also lets them know that what they have said is not socially acceptable, but doesn’t give them the ammo to focus on your reaction vs. the bs that came out of their mouth.

      3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Agreed. I think there’s kind of two big categories of response, if you will — there’s the kind that pushes to educate others and convince them to change their thoughts, and there’s the kind that simply imposes a negative social feedback for a specific interaction. While education is great, it’s exhausting and it also requires the other person to be open to being educated. Negative social feedback, on the other hand, doesn’t help them to understand why they need to change, but it does introduce & reinforce the idea that this is not how you behave here, which does a lot to stop behaviors from being perpetuated.

        Each has its up and downs, and each has its place.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I have a friend at work whom I try my very hardest to be an ally. We talk about many things, race on his side, sexism on mine. He’s a black man, and I’m a white woman.

          We were talking about racism and subtle racism (relating to a comment made about “nappy hair” in the office, oof). During the course of the discussion, I asked him if he ever got tired of having to be the chill, cool, ‘I’m not really offended but this is why you shouldn’t say this” Ambassador Of All POC…who then is required to educate clueless white people about the reasons why, indeed, you do not refer to a black person’s hair as “nappy”…ever. Our conversation continued and that was that.

          A few days later, he pulled me aside and said that he literally got choked up during that conversation because I actually understood (we were on the phone). I was like HUH WUT and he said it was the first time a white person acknowledged the tacit burden that POC are under to educate white folks about what’s okay and what’s not okay, and how it’s expected of POC to do so and it’s quite frankly, tiresome in the extreme.

          I wasn’t shooting for brownie points or anything, but to me, it seems like it would get old – very fast – to constantly have to explain to people in a level, calm tone (because god knows, you can’t get upset) why saying This or That is unacceptable and here’s why. And then having to deal with the flurry of apologies and backpedaling and ultimately having to actually make the other person feel OK about their casual offensiveness in the first place.

          I don’t pretend to know what it’s like being a POC in the corporate world. I have a slighter notion being a woman, but it’s a whole ‘nother level for him.

    6. Jennifer*

      I understand being startled in the moment. I would suggest having some responses ready to go in your head for the next time this happens because it will. Like, “What a terrible thing to say,” or “That’s pretty racist. Are you serious right now?” or a simple “That’s not cool,” as someone suggested below.

      As far as Mary making excuses for Jane, that’s par for the course. That’s why many times I don’t bother reporting things like that (I’m a black woman) because everyone closes ranks. I just quietly change my opinion of that person, limit my interaction, and maybe start looking elsewhere.

      I think speaking up is the right thing to do. POCs don’t always feel comfortable doing so in the moment so I applaud you for using your privilege for good!

    7. BWG*

      I have this issue in a slightly different way, where I work in a social justice field and am sometimes faced with nakedly bigoted stuff directed at the majority culture (which I am part of). I.e. someone seriously asking if there was anything good about white people, someone saying that the high rate of suicide among white men is because they just can’t handle their privilege being challenged, etc. I understand that the dominant culture is going to come under more scrutiny and criticism, and I try to not be too fragile about it. But questioning if there is anything of value about an entire race or group of people is really offensive and troubling to me, even if that race or group of people part of the dominant culture. I don’t know if anyone else has faced this, and how they have dealt with it.

      1. zora*

        That is a tough one, but I think I would try to gently point out how harmful that kind of thinking can be, but without making a huge deal about it. Saying something short and then moving on/letting it go for the moment. And focusing on “I statements” like like, “I worry it’s hurtful to make light of suicide no matter who the victims are” or something like that.

        But also, make sure you are really examining your own reaction to the things people are saying. The suicide one sounds awful, but I also think offhand comments about “all white people” are often just blowing off steam (I say them myself sometimes) and not actually implying any kind of violence against anyone. That might be a little bit of white fragility to be reacting to a comment like that and feel like you have to say anything. I think there’s a big difference between something like “Have white people done anything good, ever??” and “Really we just need to round up all the white people and wipe them out.” The second would be inappropriate in any work setting and I would at least take that person aside and ask them to tone it down, but the first one is an off-hand comment and I would let it go.

        1. some dude*

          I was talking more about serious questions about whether there is anything of value in white people rather than “gah, white people!!!” type comments. I’m not gonna police people blowing off steam or cry reverse racism everytime someone says something a little off color or ungood, but when you are seriously considering a bigoted point of view, it worries me. Mostly because I get concerned about the prevalence of us/them, we good/they bad type thinking that I sometimes see, which jumps from “white people/culture have caused a lot of harm” to “white people are inherently bad, people of color/queer folks/women are inherently good, if only we get rid of white cisdudes we will be liberated and live in a utopia” which I’m not on board with.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, I totally get what you are saying, and that’s where I would put the line, too. I just wasn’t clear from your earlier comment what the context was of your examples.

            I think you are right that there is something troubling about that line of thinking, and in the right context where I think I might have a responsibility in the room, especially in a workplace, I would probably try to say something about the larger concept of “Us/them” thinking, similar to what you said here. like “I worry about “us/them” thinking that paints too broad of a brush, because I think it puts us a little too close to becoming the thing we are fighting against.”

            But then again, I try to avoid getting into drawn out debates about it, because I’m also not sure that’s helpful, especially if there are members of marginalized groups in the room, because their anger is justified and I don’t want to center the conversation around white people too much, that in and of itself is a problem.

            I think gentle counteracting in the moment, but then trying to get a change of subject is the best outcome. And if you have the authority and someone is saying these kinds of things frequently, taking them aside to dress the larger pattern and say that framing like that isn’t appropriate in the workplace, because of others that might be uncomfortable with that kind of rhetoric.

      2. kt*

        I guess I’d suggest treating it in exactly the same way. “I know you’re joking, but making generalizations like that isn’t cool/helpful,” works fine no matter what group it is (and whether they’re joking or not).

      3. RecoveringSWO*

        Depending on the statement and your emotional wherewithal for that day, you could take a page out of the “coming out” strategy and put a face to the stereotype/offensive comment that the person just made. Eg.:

        “Is there even anything good about white people?” “Well, I’d like to think I have some good qualities and my Great Aunt invented automatic transmission for cars, so that probably counts for something.”
        “White men commit suicide more often because they just can’t handle their privilege being challenged.” “I dunno about that. All of the white men I know who died by suicide struggled with getting proper mental health care and drug rehabilitation.”

        Obviously, some responses might require more vulnerability then you can spare. So this tactic is good for some, but probably not all circumstances. However, I think that by responding with an example from your personal life it’s clear that you’re not engaging in a battle of whether the dominant group has it better or worse, you just want to be given some humanity/respect.

        1. zora*

          Honestly, I don’t think those responses are great. They are making it about specific people, when the person is talking about the systemic issues, and they come off as a little too #NotAllMen to me….

          I would keep it more too “I try to be compassionate about suicide because it can be a very tough topic for some” rather than countering with individual examples.

        2. googs*

          These…are not great responses and sound like, as zora said, very prototypical “All Lives Matter” retorts.

      4. DrD*

        I hear you BWG. I think a major aspect of what you’re dealing with might be the difference between an “activist community” and a “professional community.” I’m also white, and I’m an academic at an institution with a significant non-white population. I’m also involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion work professionally. Because I’m in a leadership role, professionally, I at times have to moderate conversations made up of a mixture of people in majority and minority groups, and have to lead meetings in which these conversations take place. In an activist setting, the general idea is that I, as a white woman, would shut up and listen, but in these professional settings, I have to be in charge, and that means I have to talk ad direct the conversation. I also have to handle the us / them situation, and the way that conversation can be very damaging to our shared goals in regard to DE&I. Maybe I’m reading too much from my situation into what you’re saying, but it sounds to me like you’re concerned about larger harm coming from anti-white comments (such as the comment about white men committing suicide). What I try to do is clearly establish the context of the conversation and let that be my guide: If we’re chatting in the hall, and people are blowing off steam, I roll with it. If it’s a casual conversation with someone I have a solid relationship with, and that person seems to dismissing white male suicide, I would invite them to reconsider, perhaps by invoking intersectionality (a white person has white privilege but might struggle with poverty, drug addiction, and mental health, leading to suicide). If I’m chairing a meeting, I bring it back to our task as a group, and I might note the risk of the comment if I felt it was particularly problematic.

        1. DrD*

          Sorry — This is supposed to be a reply to BWG regarding social justice work and the difficulty of responding to comments against white people.

        2. BWG*

          Thanks.

          It’s more in spaces where the professional/activist lines are blurred, and where people are dealing with the pain and chaos of the present moment. I push back when it seems appropriate, suck it up when it seems like it is just an example of someone venting, and try to focus on moving forward productively.

          I think what disturbs me is that what is being offered up by some as an alternative to the racist system we are facing sometimes feels like more of the same but color swapped.

      5. Blueberry*

        On the one hand, snarking about people committing suicide is both terrible and misguided, and I see your wider point that the goal should be for no one to be abused because of their race, etc, not to just pick on the majority rather than minorities. On the other, I have seen people characterize any/all efforts at reducing bigotry as revenge-based attempts at making the dominant group downtrodden. When you try to push back against these statements I think you should be careful not to sound as if you’re doing that last, because many disprivileged people have heard such reasoning before and will not react favorably if they think you’re promoting it as well. One way is by pointing out how we all live at the nexus of our various demographics — referring to your example above, someone with White privilege can still certainly be driven to suicide by homophobia, substance abuse, poverty, lack of access to resources, and so on. I think pointing that out, not in a “privilege doesn’t exist” way but “we almost all have ways we are both privileged and disprivileged” can possibly help.

    8. Quinalla*

      Yup, I’d try for in the moment “That’s not cool!” or a baffled “What?!” or even just a shocked reaction like you had or “What do you mean by that?” said in your most innocently curious tone. If it is a pattern and you’ve already spoken up in the moment, I think that IS worth bringing to management/HR, but it sounds like you only addressed the one incident. I would have presented it as a pattern to her manager.

      And also agree with others that you just can’t fight every, single battle, but when I have the energy and it is safe to do so, I try to speak up, if only so I can stay true to myself. But there are times when I bit my tongue because it is a client or I just can’t speak up for the 10th time today. And I am very cognizant of being labeled a “complainer”, so I take care to not complain, but just present it like we are all reasonable people and surely they didn’t actually mean to be racist, sexist, etc. just then? Allowing people to save face and presenting things as if of course they want to be reasonable (or legal if it is going that far) go along way to squashing any hints that you are a complainer or attention seeker or whatever strange stories people tell themselves about folks speaking up about bigotry that has no place in the workplace!

    9. aepyornis*

      I fully understand you being startled and not saying anything at the time and I applaud you for not just letting it slide and at least trying to address it even if others will brush it off.
      One strategy that you could consider is making it more and more uncomfortable for people to make such “jokes”. Moving the discomfort from you to them, until it is no longer worth making these comments around you. Staring at them in disbelief and saying “wow”, or asking them to repeat (“surely you did not just say that”) or asking them to explain (“I just don’t get it” if it is meant as humour, etc.). And of course, assuming you are in Paris, France, you can always matter-of-factly mention the law (not as a threat to denounce them but to gradually make them realise this is serious). You might initially get a reputation as a stick in the mud but if you are generally pleasant to work with and warm with your colleagues, and capable of appreciating a non racist joke, you can mitigate this.

    10. ResuMAYDAY*

      You could tell Mary’s boss that your problem isn’t an interpersonal one (which could be handled between the two of you) but rather, potential blow back to the organization, if racist talk ever got beyond the office walls. That’s a training issue for a manager, not a peer.

    11. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

      I think there’s a lot of good advice from others here about handling things in the moment, so I’ll say something bigger picture: I’m also ambitious and working my way up, and what I’ve tended to find is that people near the top are *very* reluctant to use their power for good. When you’re an entry level employee, you think “wow, this is outrageous, if I were the I’d do something about it!” And then you’re the boss, you think “Wow, this is outrageous! If I were a VP, no way I’d let that slide!” And then you’re a VP, and you’re like “Wow, that’s horrible, but you know how the CEO is, he’ll never get on board with changing things” and then you’re the CEO, and you’re like “Dang, I know, I agree, but there’s no way I can get the Board to agree to a change like that.”

      People all the way up are all too eager to abdicate their power because of the perception that it’s still *someone elses’* job to deal with this. Nobody seems to actually believe that they have the power to compel change.

      I don’t think it’s entirely intentional, and of course it’s hard, for all the reasons you cite! And our economy, built on long workweeks and at-will employment, encourages people to toe the line because there’s *always* too much at stake. I don’t necessarily blame anyone, but it’s a pattern too strong to ignore. I’m just entirely sick of hearing the COO say “I’d love to do that, but I can’t.” I mean, if you can’t, then literally no one can!

      There are arguments for picking your battles so you can get into positions of real power and make changes. But I’ve seen too many times that that point of finally having Enough power that you can flex it never actually comes. At some point, executive ranks need to be filled with people who are true advocates for change, rather than a panel of ninjas who are all secretly Very Supportive Of These Ideas, but who assume no one else is and that speaking up is too risky.

    12. She's One Crazy Diamond*

      It’s messed up. I’m a white-passing woman of color, and an outspoken ally of the LGBTQA+ community, and I see this crap at work all the time. We had a trans woman, Emma, who worked here a while back who was asked what her former name was by another employee, Liz, and Liz also referred to Emma and a few other people as “you guys” even though Emma asked not to be referred to as a guy. Our manager notified HR, and instead of Liz apologizing, she went around gossiping to everyone on our floor that Emma was trying to cause drama for no reason (Emma wasn’t even the person who talked to our manager, she was probably going to suffer in silence), and that asking a trans person their dead name is just like asking a married person what their maiden name was. Guess what? Liz still works here and Emma doesn’t. It’s so demoralizing.

      1. Glagh an stuff*

        I don’t think Liz was kind for gossiping, but that said, “you guys” is meant to be a generic way of addressing a group of people (like “y’all”) and doesn’t have a gendered connotation in modern usage. I think Emma overreacted too.

        1. Amethystmoon*

          It may depend in which state one lives. In the upper Midwest, we do definitely say “you guys” a lot to mean everyone in the room. Of course, we also say pop and hotdish.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Okay so you are working for an organization that sincerely believes discrimination is NOT an issue.

      See, your story started with a Jane problem and it morphed into a management problem. Not too much happens in a vacuum. Jane continues doing this because management allows it.

      My wise friend used to say, do not allow yourself to become killed*, if you allow yourself to get killed then your message dies with you. Stay alive and on a different day your message will be heard.

      *Killed. Killed can be loosely translated into many things such as fired, ignored/isolated, rendered ineffective and so on. Keep yourself safe first and foremost that is absolutely key to protecting your message.

      One time I really threw caution to the wind and I really blew a gasket over X. X was a safety issue where it was reasonable to believe that one or more people could be dead within a week. I cited famous examples from history where the issue was taking place and people ended up DEAD. I did not do this calmly or politely since calm and polite did not work the last four times I mentioned the problem. On my fifth mention, I lost my temper. I did not cuss. I stated the facts loudly and stridently.

      In my example here, it wasn’t just me who was going to be dead, it was others. Possibly many others. And it would be soon, very soon.
      And you know what? I did not think for one minute about spending my political capital. In these extreme situations it’s much easier to forsake that capital or concern about what others think because of the direness and immediacy of the problem.

      No one will die this week, except for part of their souls melting away from the bullying. You could go a tamer but more persistent route. I love some of the suggested go-to sentences here. I’d like to add that there is nothing wrong with saying it’s bad for business: The business will repel customers. The better applicants will not apply here. We will end up taking more work for less money because the bigger jobs are not available to us.

      Over-coming objections. It’s easier when you know what the objections are.
      This is how Mary is.
      Okay, fine, she can do that at home but not in the workplace.

      This is just humor.
      You know that is well known excuse used in classic examples of bullying right? It’s not funny, it’s hateful. I don’t think we want to be known as a hateful company.

      yes he is fat and black…
      So we make fun of people for their bodies, really? So it’s okay to walk up to a woman and make fun of her if she has big boobs/no boobs, fat butt, etc? Making fun of people’s bodies is Not Cool. Ever.

      Having done this type of stuff, I can tell you first hand that you will go home dog-tired at the end of the week. These places are flippin’ exhausting. And to some degree it will slow you down career wise because it will detract from your work in a big way.
      I dunno what you have for protection laws. It might be quicker to cite laws to TPTB. Since the people you have been dealing with cannot hear you, then you should drag in more people. This should be HR, other VPs or the CEO. My suggestions are to go wide (more people) or go softer (use of go-to sentences that you constantly repeat.)

    14. nat*

      I hear you. I struggle with this in my professional life too. I work in a public hospital serving a diverse population and my boss has a lot of clear, unexamined biases. For example, she thinks her son didn’t get into a local public university “because he’s white”. It is hard to watch someone who doesn’t understand social justice and equity issues lead a department where these concerns are front and center. I don’t have answers. There is definitely a political cost to being assertive.

    15. Blueberry*

      Thank you for having said something, and I’m so sorry you got this awful pushback. It’s annoying to have to have a few responses prepared In Case Someone Is A Bigot but it’s also useful. I very much agree with whomever downthread said that one can either try to educate or try to increase the cost in awkwardness of saying bigoted things.

    16. Kat in VA*

      So Mary would have preferred that you say – in the moment, and loudly enough for everyone to hear – WOOOOOWWWWW MARY THAT WAS A REALLY RACIST AND UNKIND THING TO SAY.

      Methinks Mary would be pissed off at the outcome of this situation, regardless, because people don’t like getting called out on their $hitty behavior.

  3. Trying to be a supportive spouse*

    How do you all handle job searches that just take too long? We recently moved to a new city, and my spouse is looking for a job and has been looking for over half a year with no luck (half looking remotely before we moved, and half looking locally after we moved). Fortunately (yes, I realize how lucky we are), my job pays enough that we can take care of the bills (not save a whole lot, though). There are no gaps in their résumé other than the recent months they’ve spent looking for a job.

    They’re also in an awkward professional spot, because they want to switch careers. They’re a bit too old and have too many degrees to be considered for entry-level work or paid internships (they’ve tried), but they aren’t quite old enough to feel the major effects of age discrimination (not that that’s helped).

    It can get really demoralizing. Any tips on how to handle this emotionally/psychologically? And how much do employers ding you for gaps in your résumé if there are no gaps except the most recent gap?

    1. SuperAnon*

      A move is a gap that’s easily explained. “I’ve been transitioning from City to City and buying a home etc.”

      Re: age, this is just anecdotal but I got good, full-time jobs at 58, 62 and 63. Attitude is important.

    2. The Bermudian*

      No experience here but contemplating the same move next year so interested to hear what people have to say!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same; moving in a week, and and I’m afraid after I move I won’t find anything there either.

    3. Susan K*

      Have they looked into volunteering or a job in retail? The cruel reality is that it’s easier to find a job when you already have one. The gap is easy to explain — moved here for spouse’s job and haven’t found the right job yet — but they might have better luck getting interviews if already employed. Retail might seem “beneath” them if they have a lot of professional experience, but it might help to try something related to a hobby (e.g., a craft store if they’re into crafting or a sporting goods store if they’re into sports).

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It will depend on the area but it’s a falsehood that retail is a job you can just get by applying at one.

        I have seen people get denied retail jobs over the years, it’s not a walk on job like it was once considered. Same with the service industry, one cannot simply just go work at McDonalds =(

        1. Penny*

          Yup. I applied at Target when unemployed, and couldn’t even get an interview there. My application was auto-rejected by their system! (And I actually have retail experience.) At that point I was just jumping through hoops for Unemployment so I didn’t care, but it was kind of startling. (I actually had a job offer elsewhere pending a somewhat lengthy background check, but in my state the only way to collect your weekly unemployment check is to show proof of proactive job search activity via a log, regardless of whether you were in a situation like mine. /tangent rant)

        2. Susan K*

          I know it’s not necessarily easy to get a retail job, but it could be easier than getting a professional job. A lot of places are going to be hiring seasonal employees soon. My brother had trouble finding a job after a layoff, so he got a job at a store related to one of his hobbies so he wouldn’t have such a long gap on his resume. I think it helped him to be able to say, “I’ve been an underwater basketweaving enthusiast since I was a kid, so I’ve enjoyed working at Underwater Baskets R Us while looking for my next position,” rather than look like he was so desperate for a job that he took the first one that would hire him and he was desperate to get out that he’d take any professional job he could get.

          1. Dana B.S.*

            They’ve likely already hired their seasonal employees – that’s usually done by early October. October is for training & preparations. November is when the biggest shipments come in and traffic starts to pick up. There is a chance that they can be picked to fill a spot for a dud, but most stores even hire a little more to account for duds.

        3. Psych0Metrics*

          A lot of retail jobs will also dismiss applicants that seem over-qualified- retail stores already struggle with high turnover so someone with significant professional experience/an advanced degree etc. is probably going to be looking for a new job immediately and is a poor investment.

          1. Nonny Maus*

            That’s unfortunately part of the Catch-22 that seems to be modern Employment. A friend ran into that several years back. Too qualified for most retail/food-service/customer service jobs so they wouldn’t hire him, and not qualified enough in whatever-BS-way for the jobs in his chosen field. (I say BS because several of them were also of the “this is entry-level, but we want 5 years of experience and all these specialty skills” type jobs in addition to the usual crop of more normal entry level jobs.)

        4. Elizabeth West*

          THIS.
          I tried but it’s been so long since I worked in food service or retail that no one wants to hire me into those jobs anymore. I’m way, way overqualified.

    4. Natalie*

      This might be obvious but they don’t need to list all or any of their degrees on their resume if they aren’t relevant. Resumes don’t need to be comprehensive.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This! Just take them off the resume, nobody needs to know you have multiple degrees if they are impeding their job search. It happens sadly frequently when someone has a hefty educational background.

        1. Helena*

          Depends on your career though – if you’ve spent the past fifteen years practising as a lawyer or architect, it’s obvious you have multiple degrees even if they aren’t listed. And you can’t easily leave decades of work off your resume.

          But yes when I was a medical student looking for summer jobs I left that fact off my CV and just listed my A levels (high school diploma equivalent) and previous bar and factory work.

    5. job search*

      I handled it by temping. Not all temp roads lead to new careers, but it helps in keeping the skills fresh. Emotionally speaking, just having a job to go to and the little bit of cash it brought in was a huge help.

      1. Mama Bear*

        I temped in a new city to get my feet wet. Your spouse may also want to do a skills-oriented vs history-oriented resume.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I love temping, you have a lot more power than you think going in.

        There’s still a stigma attached but once you prove yourself as a good employee, they keep you working non-stop.

      3. Super Nintendo Chalmers*

        Absolutely. For me, temping was a fabulous way to learn where I wanted to work (and where I absolutely did not) when I moved to a new city.

      4. Mel2*

        I also suggest temping, as I did this when I moved cities. However, I did initially have a little trouble getting placements from some of the temp agencies I signed up with. I finally lucked out by signing on with the a major hospital’s internal temp service. Not only did they pay better than most (no external agency fee), but they were able to place me immediately. It had the added benefit of helping me learn the electronic medical record system I use at my current permanent job.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          EMRs are so labor intensive! This is a nice perk – learning software and systems that you might not otherwise be able to learn that are really industry (and in this case even healthcare system) specific.

      5. Kathy Keevan*

        I took a temp job in September 1994. I was going to punch holes in paper reports and file them in binders, and other menial tasks. I was supposed to be there for nine weeks. That turned into ten months, at which point I was hired permanently. I’m still there, 25 years later! I’m a senior financial analyst now. I’ve had a fabulous career that I certainly wasn’t envisioning when I walked in the door.

    6. ResuMAYDAY*

      Is your spouse working with a career coach? The resume has to be properly written to support and justify the transition. Interview questions about the transition need to answered smartly. Your spouse should be networking with people in that new, desired industry (with a good elevator pitch). What about recruiters specific to that industry? A career coach can get your spouse up to speed on all of this, with accountability. A career coach will also help your spouse avoid the time-sucks that always come when trying to find new information.

    7. Shelly*

      When my spouse had a long drawn-out job search that ended in him deciding to start his own business, I really had to adapt to the emotional side of things. At some point, I internally questioned how I would feel if he never got a job and what that would mean for our marriage relationship. I also found that my own anxiety-driven behaviors weren’t actually helping his job search. For example, I would search through job boards and forward him job postings for the wrong kinds of job and I would interrogate him after every job interview. When I was finally at peace with the process, I found that the best thing I could tell him was variations on “I know you are working so hard. I am so proud of you. I want to support you in everything you do.” This was also aided by me seriously considering our financial state and how we could make things work on my paycheck. As soon as my anxiety knew that all the bills would be paid, I knew that he could take the time to let things happen. It’s not perfect, but it worked for me. I hope that everything works out for both of you, whether that means his perfect job, or other opportunities, or taking on home responsibilities. There are a million ways to be fulfilled and successful at life, and a job is only one of those.

      1. AnonManager*

        I have a very similar experience. We moved to a higher cost of living area for me to move up in my career. Before moving, we ran our projected finances and determined that my spouse would need to work in order to maintain our standard of living (they were planning on it, but didn’t have a job lined up like I did). Fast forward two years…due to a combination of personal and professional reasons (aging credentials, anxiety about networking and job searching, etc.) my spouse still does not have a job. And we have a lower standard of living, as predicted. But we make it work. We pay our bills. They do more household management than before. But I did have to take a hard look at what the future would look like if indefinitely unemployed turned into permanently un- (or under-)employed and make peace with that.

    8. Coverage Associate*

      Honestly, I have given up. Having a functioning spouse at home became more important than the income he could bring in. But we have mental illness complications that limit what he can accomplish day to day.

    9. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      Not sure what he does, but can he freelance? The “gig culture” is very much real.

      1. AnonManager*

        Yes, this is our reality as well. I didn’t realize it when we were first married, but mental illness and the current work culture are a rough combination. My spouse runs a small business out of our home, mostly to stay busy, and does the household management. But it’s possible they will not ever get back on a standard career track.

    10. LunaLena*

      Are there any new skills he can study/train for that would make him a stronger candidate? I was mostly unemployed in 2009 due to the recession, and that’s how I explained that lengthy gap in my resume: I used the time to take freelance projects and use free resources (Lynda.com, library books, etc) to learn new skills and improve on others.

      1. LunaLena*

        I just realized that I used he/him when your post did not mention gender. Please substitute they/them for he/him in my post.

        Also, in regards to keeping it together emotionally/psychologically – I found that keeping busy was the best way. Learning and improving on my skills helped with this a lot. Having a routine that followed a normal work schedule helped too: I spent mornings searching for/applying to job postings and going over my resume/cover letter/portfolio pieces, then lunch, then work on my side gigs in the afternoon, plus at least one hour each day on learning new skills, ending at 5 p.m. It helped me feel like I accomplished something during the day, so I didn’t feel like I was slacking off or wallowing around in despair.

        1. Aphrodite*

          This is a good idea. To expand on it, how is the adult education program in your city? I am talking about fun things. If he/she can get a routine going with temping or retail or even volunteer work and combine that with a couple of fun classes in order to create a routine similar to yours (for example, Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 5:00 plus holidays and vacation/sick days too) that might make it easier.

          One of the things I remember most from my unemployment days (for 18 months about five years ago) was the absolute envy I developed for people going to work on Monday mornings. I was so green you could have bottled me as a health drink. But I also made sure I did not think about or do anything about job hunting on weekends and other off days. I gave myself permission to actually have great weekends. That combination, I think, changed my attitude unconsciously and made me more interesting to employers because I wasn’t pent up with frustration and that endless, hopeless feeling

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This this this! I do that too. NO job stuff on the weekend. I don’t even look at the boards. Most companies don’t post anything then, and if I missed it on Friday, it will likely still be there on Monday.

    11. TheAssistant*

      Oh, my partner just went through this. Sent her resume out like a madwoman for 18 months. She regularly progressed to the final interview stage, so there wasn’t anything wrong with her resume or interviewing skills. It was just a lot of bad luck.

      In her case, I recommended she look outside of the rather-narrow niche she had chiseled herself. I argued that when doing a big shift from X to Y, it doesn’t do any favors to make Y really specific. I also encouraged her to do an inventory of her skills and experiences and try to target jobs that were functionally within that realm. Since it is easier to get a job while having a job, perhaps something within the ballpark of your partner’s target job would be “good enough” for now.

      She also had a Master’s degree that was largely irrelevant to her target jobs, so I recommended she remove it from jobs where it wouldn’t be an asset. That seemed to garner her more interviews.

      Eventually she gave up and she’s enrolled in a coding bootcamp, so we’re girding ourselves for nearly a year of unemployment after years of her being underemployed. Tough situation. Hoping yours works out!

    12. Daisy*

      I’m not sure what industry your spouse is coming from or looking to go into, but as someone who is currently hiring for a mid-level position that’s enough of a hybrid to get applicants with a wide range of backgrounds, this would be my advice to him or others in a similar position:

      Make clear in your cover letter that you are looking to transition and why. The “why” should focus on your interests and career goals, not money.

      Do leave off or minimize completely unrelated experience and degrees. Put them at the bottom of your resume as single lines. That way they’ll fill in your timeline but won’t make it look like a) you don’t know what this job is or b) you think your unrelated experience is more related than it is.

      Address transferable skills explicitly in your cover letter. Why do you think you’ll be better at this job than someone with less work experience who will accept lower pay?

      This is just get-in-the-door advice – if he’s been getting interviews but no offers, that’s a different issue.

  4. GoingToOz?*

    Folks who have moved to the other side of the world, particularly if you brought a spouse and/or child, can you tell me about your experience?
    I’m in the US, and I have a first round interview for a position in Australia. Obviously it’s a long way from accepting a job offer (there would be a fly out, and I would ask for arriving 24 hours before the interview if they want to bring me). My husband lived in Aus for a year after college and liked it, which is why I even applied to this job, but the idea of hauling myself, my husband, and our kid to the other side of the world sounds really daunting. (And we’d probably need to rehome our beloved cat, because I’m not taking a 14 year old cat on a 20+ hour travel journey–I think that might kill him)

    1. Phoenix Programmer*

      Just so you know, Australia does (or did at least did a decade ago) require mandatory quarintine of animals brought in.

      1. GoingToOz?*

        I’m actually less worried about the quarantine than the travel based on some health issues. I don’t think any of it would be fair to him, so I’d try to find him a loving home in our current city. It would completely break my heart to leave him, but I’m convinced it would be for the best :'(

        1. Sharkie*

          Do you have family / friends who can take him? Also I would talk to your vet, usually they are great with helping with rehoming. I’m sorry this is a choice you have to make.

          1. GoingToOz?*

            Well, no, not if I’m not offered the job! And if I’m not offered it, then it’s an easy “Well, at least my cat will get to stay with us!”
            Unfortunately our cat-loving friends already have cats who don’t like others. I am about 90% sure my neighbor would take him, though, because she really adores him, and he and her dog get along well (he’s an indoor cat, but her dog has been in my house).

      2. Venus*

        This is a general comment about pets and travel, not one specific to the OP (who has different worries):
        England and Australia have changed quite a bit in the past decade (I read up on it 5 years ago when I was looking at employment options and had pets). There might be a short quarantine (a few days or week), but essentially they try to avoid it with some very rigid steps. From what I recall they are (1) get a universal-standard microchip, (2) get the pet vaccinated for rabies 1-12 months before the trip, (3) do a blood titer test to confirm that the rabies vaccine was effective. There are also travel requirements for any international trips, requiring vet visits to ensure they are healthy, but the 6-month mandatory quarantines are easily avoidable with some careful paperwork.

        1. Mel 2*

          I brought my cat over from the US to the UK about 10 years ago, and the steps also must have been done in the order listed. Additionally, at the time, the rabies blood titer needed to be 6 months old.

      3. GreyNerdShark*

        I’m an Australian living in Sydney. Moving anywhere is hard… Americans moving to Oz usually manage OK but the first few months will be brutal. It is just enough like America to trap you when it isn’t… For example, rents here are weekly not monthly. So your instinctive reaction to checking websites for accommodation will be wrong. Schools for young children will start at different ages (because of the different summer/winter dates, our schools start in Feb) and you have to pay where citizens/permanent-residents don’t, medical cover for temporary entrants can be expensive and difficult to negotiate. Oh, and driving on the left is OK until you meet your first roundabout… In those first few months you will be finding somewhere to live, working out your commute, getting the kids into school, navigating the medical system… all the time while dealing with a new job. Hope the husband is good at organising because he’ll have to do most of it while you manage the job.
        As part of your research check the reddit for the city you will be going to. I only know http://www.reddit.com/r/sydney/ but the others have similar info. There’s lots of “moving to sydney” info in the sidebar.

        Public transport is the best way to get around if you can. Try to live close to a train station or really good buses and leave off getting a car till later. This is especially true if the job is in the CBD or one of the big tech centres. Budget an airBnB for the family close to work for a couple of weeks and be aware it might take longer than that to track down and acquire a place to rent. Then you’ll pay 6 weeks rent upfront (4 weeks bond, 2 weeks in advance) .

        1. Megan*

          I’m from Melbourne and don’t agree with you!

          In Melbourne we pay rent monthly not weekly, and they require 1 months bond and 1 months rent in advance.

    2. insufficient coffee*

      I’ve done this. There’s lots to consider moving overseas. I’ll talk about the spouse first: does he work remotely, are they sponsoring a work visa for him or is he happy being a stay-at-home spouse for the duration of your working life there? Basically, what is the long-term plan for him to work? (if there is one). The main thing to consider when moving halfway across the world is that you are necessarily landing in another culture. There is good and bad to this (and Oz is a wonderful place, I also lived there for a year after college, and would have been happy to live there permanently). But the things that are culture creep into all sorts of aspects of life, and you may often find yourself in a place of never quite feeling like you fit it. Some of it you can think about beforehand: Thanksgiving doesn’t happen, Hallowe’en wasn’t a thing when I was there (but I believe is becoming a little more popular), and Christmas is going to happen in the middle of summer. And, some things never feel right: a parlimentary system of government may be quite different from what you’re used to, and medical care will be quite different, there will most likely be sticker shock. In short it never quite feels like home. I’ve lived in several different countries around the world, and I’ve found that the first 6 months to a year to be the fun adventure part, and then there’s a rebound where nothing feels quite right and I get a little bit homesick and so many things of the new place just feel wrong.

      All this being said, I personally loved Oz and would welcome the chance to move back!

    3. Keener*

      I moved to NZ after uni and even though I was hesitant to go it was the best experience posible for me in terms of growth and expanding my horizons. Not sure if you’re putring s time frame on the move but for me it was reasuring to initially think of it being for a year with an option to extend. I cant directly comment on the spouse and child side since I had neither. However I had lots of colleagues who moved to NZ with their spouse and children in tow and it seemed to work out for them.

    4. Sharkie*

      I haven’t done this but I have family who has. Basically everything but your important papers, photos, clothes, and some sentimental things are replaceable. My uncle sold/ donated all the stuff that they couldn’t pack in their suitcases, and gave all the “heirloom” pieces (some furniture, jewelry he was saving for his kids ect.) to my mom to store. They also sold the cars to friends and family who had kids near driving age.

      Most companies pay you a huge bonus to relocate especially with kids. This might cover the cost of buying new furniture/ shipping over things that didn’t fit in your suitcase.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      Not a first-hand experience exactly, but I am the child of an American mother who relocated to the UK shortly before I was born. My family has also become close / family friends with other families who moved here from abroad, and one of my best friends moved here from South India when she was 14 as her father moved here for work. One thing that’s affected me (as the ‘child’ in this situation, though I am now an adult) is a feeling of disconnect from the rest of my family etc.

      I was unable to see my grandfather shortly before his death a few years ago and often on holidays etc I’ve felt disconnected from family-related activities when/if I’ve been unable to travel out to the states at those times. This has been heightened as I’ve become an adult. I can’t afford the amount of leave from work (+ cost of travel) but my retired parents can… meaning I’ve spent more than 1 Christmas period completely alone in the UK city where I live, while my parents return ‘home’ to my other family (and my brother goes to his girlfriend’s family).

      I don’t feel fully British, but I definitely don’t feel American. This is a bigger deal for my Indian friend who’s been here since she was 14. She said she will never feel, or feel she can be perceived to be fully British – but she also feels she would now be unable to return and live again in India. She told me even I would find it easier than her to go live in India now (she said because I am English and white, my lack of conforming to / understanding to certain things in the culture would be explained/understood. But because she looks and sounds Indian, she could not get away with not fully conforming [to a lifestyle she no longer wants to conform to].

      That said, I don’t necessarily mean to put you off. These issues, though perhaps sounding like a big deal when I condense them into an internet post/comment, actually are not a daily thing. Overall, my parents settled very well in the UK despite some initial culture shock / surprises at differences etc (some of which will be a non-issue for you as you’ve already spent a year in Aus). Most families I know who moved from abroad generally do very well after an initial adjustment period. Despite some feeling of disconnect etc I overall do not wish my parents had stayed in America and I am in fact very happy/glad to have grown up in the UK!

      I guess my conclusion is that you should absolutely take this opportunity if it feels right for you, but I just wanted to make you aware of some of the experience I have had or witnessed that might adjust how you do or approach certain things…

      1. LunaLena*

        My family moved to Korea when I was nine years old, and I feel exactly the same as your Indian friend: I don’t feel fully Korean or American (though I am definitely identify more as American), but because I am of Korean descent, I am expected to conform to Korean culture when I’m there. I can’t go back there and live there again for that reason; my norms are not theirs, and I stick out like a sore thumb, even though I still retain a lot of mannerisms and habits from when I lived there. I learned that one pretty quickly the last time I was there, when I contemplated teaching English there for a year after college – they treated me as a foreigner, but expected me to strictly follow their standards while non-Koreans in the program were given more leeway.

        Personally, I think living abroad is a great experience and I highly recommend it to everyone. But even with the advantage of going to an English-speaking country, definitely be prepared for cultural pitfalls and misunderstandings.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          Speaking of cultural pitfalls / culture shock in another English speaking country, I have a friend who spent a term (semester) in China, a year in Tanzania, and then went to work in NZ. He is British with a Spanish parent. He said to me that he got the biggest culture shock in NZ! He said the reason was not that it was the most different, but that individual differences seemed to take him more by surprise. He said when he went to China and Tanzania, he did a lot more pre-prep learning about the culture, language etc (he is really into language learning which helped him in both these places). He said in NZ he just got repeatedly surprised by cultural differences and admitted he’d forgotten it would be so different, as the fact that English was the most common language had lured him into a false sense of security!

          On a similar note, I work in a university and we have a few American members of academic staff who have admitted to me that the culture is way more different than they had expected, and in ways they hadn’t expected (plus, I live in a largely rural county in the UK. It’s not like being in a big city or London or something).

        2. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

          I currently live in South Korea and I hear what you’re saying alot from Americans of Korean descent. Koreans here tend to be very critical towards Koreans who were either born outside of Korea or left and came back. Often times they’re treated very rudely and I’ve heard from more than one person that that’s the reason that they don’t want to stay in Korea.
          But I’ve had a similar experience while living in Germany. I have a German parent and was born and lived there for part of my childhood. I speak fluent conversational German with a local dialect. While this made it easier for me initially to get a work permit and residence permit, the cultural expectations were overwhelming at times. I was often criticized for smiling too much and a myriad of other things that just felt so foreign to me. It got to the point where all I wanted to do was to get out of there and I did. The funny thing is that in France where I lived before, I didn’t get any of that. I was able to just shamelessly be myself because they ascribed all my ‘bad’ behavior to being American and I actually got bonus points for speaking French because they didn’t expect that from us barbarian Americans.
          So, where I’m going with this is that actually I experienced the most difficulties in a culture where I expected it the least.

    6. Fibchopkin*

      I have lived in Japan and Hawaii with spouse, kiddo, and incredibly spoiled miniature dachshund in tow. Additionally, I grew up ferrying between Germany and the US with mom & dad, 2 brothers, and various family pets. I won’t say it’s not challenging, because of course, it is, but I will say that it’s seriously all about attitude. Some moments will feel overwhelming and too hard, but in my experience, the benefits FAR outweigh the moments of frustration. The key piece of advice I can give is to approach everything, as much as possible, with enthusiasm and a determination that THIS WILL BE A GOOD THING. Even if you don’t feel enthusiastic, try to fake it to yourself, because before you know it, you actually will be excited enough about all the numerous amazing things in store that you can deal with the box of heirlooms that got misshipped to China and with the gigantic fee you didn’t anticipate. Beyond that, here’s a few pieces of specific advice I would offer:

      1. Research schools and neighborhoods by getting in touch with ex-pats and service member spouses in the area. For Australia – there are several joint-military bases where a small number of U.S. Military Personnel get stationed with their spouses and families. These families will know the ropes when it comes to figuring out terrain, local school systems, etc. Your children may be eligible to be educated in the US DOD schools on base, or set up to service military & diplomatic families, depending on your job, which means they won’t have any problems with transferring credits or equivalent diplomas if you move back to the US before they graduate high school. Also, check for schools with International Baccalaureate Programs for the same reason.

      2. Do NOT try to find a house/lodging remotely without at least visiting the neighborhood and seeing the area in person at some point prior to signing any leases. Aside from the ridiculous amount of scamming that you risk, I guarantee you will regret something about the place and wish you had waited til you got there to find something. Yes, it truly sucks to live out of a long-term hotel for weeks (or even months, in one case, for me) while you house/apartment/condo/whatever hunt, but believe me, it beats the alternative by a mile.

      3. Be EXCITED! Raising the mancub in Japan for the first 4 years of his life afforded us the opportunity to travel to other places nearby (for you, that’ll be Polynesia, the Pacific Islands, and New Zealand) not to mention really experience the language, culture, and cuisine of another country in an immersive way. Our kid was better traveled than 90% of Americans by the time he was 3. This led to an expanded cultural perception and global awareness at an early age- something that many Americans lack simply due to the geography of the US. This is such an incredible opportunity for not just you and your husband, but for your kid. Like I said, I grew up in and out of Germany, which, yes, means that I don’t have the kind of hometown, best-friend-since-kindergarten types of experiences many Americans do, but instead, I had the opportunity to travel all over Europe, grow up speaking other languages (which I do realize isn’t really pertinent to your situation, but the rest is, I think) eating other types of foods, and experiencing other ways of life, even though my family really didn’t have much money. I would never trade it.

      1. GoingToOz?*

        You know, one of the things that’s actually on my radar is the lack of language exposure! I grew up with many spanish-speaking friends (in the US southwest), and while I can’t claim any great fluency, I can’t remember a time I didn’t understand spoken Spanish. And now I live in New England close enough to Quebec that I get to exercise my French (or Quebecois!) pretty frequently. So for an American, I’ve had a pretty multi-lingual life and I’d be sad to not have that for my kid. But at the same time, that’s not even possible in most of the US.

        It’s an academic position, so I’d technically be a Oz gov employee–I don’t know what that means for accessing things like American schools, but it does mean I’d be among a highly international group of people (the guy in the office next to me is from Perth, but he came to the US as a 22 year old grad student and has stayed, which is a different experience than moving as a mid 30s, early/mid career academic).

        1. Anon Librarian*

          Australia is multi-lingual. I’m only familiar with Sydney and Melbourne, but Sydney definitely has neighborhoods that predominantly speak another language just like in NYC. And there are a lot of Aboriginal languages. Language exposure is about as possible as in major US cities, but it’s more Asian and less South and Central American due to geography, obviously.

          Bonus: Australian English is more different from American English than I had expected. It’s easy to learn.

          I really enjoyed my time in Australia. It’s different from the US in more ways than most people expect. Be patient and open-minded when taking that in (as I’m sure you know to, based on what you wrote).

      2. Now in the Job (formerly Not Desperate for the Job)*

        I’d love to hear more on your perspective on relocating to Japan and how that process went for you and your family.

        My company has recently acquired another one that maintains offices in Tokyo, and I’ve been planning to do an MBA program in Japan. There’s a decently rated US university with a program in Tokyo, so it would all be in English, plus I might have the chance to stay on with my company while I study. I’ve already started working with my vet to figure out how to make sure my cat can skip the quarantine program in Japan, but the biggest remaining obstacle is….my husband. He is enthusiastic to support me, nervous about doing a trip like this, but definitely wants to go and be with me there.

        What was it like for the spouse in your partnership that wasn’t the reason for going to Japan? Any thoughts or advice on making that transition easier on them?

        1. Fibchopkin*

          The process was, in some ways, more complex than I expected (lining up medical care- more on that below), and in others, far less (finding housing was almost ridiculously easy).

          So for your pet- you absolutely CAN (and should) avoid quarantine by going to your vet between 90-120 days before you travel and having a rabies blood titer performed. It’s expensive, because even though drawing the blood and the test itself are fairly cheap, you have to overnight the draw to the Japanese. Also- be warned NOW- you have to give VERY early advance notice that you’re coming through APHIS – go herehttps://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/by-country/pettravel-japan and click on the “dogs and cats” drop down and It’ll give you the exact steps to take to avoid quarantine. Trust me, it is WORTH it!

          For your spouse, I think it really, really depends on personality here. For my hubbie, initially he was SO excited to be a stay-at-home dad and spend a bunch of extra time exploring Asia with the mancub in tow. Our son was a little less than 12 months old on the day of our move, and we were both jazzed at the idea of one of us staying home with him until pre-school. Alas, although he absolutely KILLED it as the SAH parent, after about a year, he started feeling a bit unfulfilled and antsy about getting back to his career. So, he buckled down, retook the GRE, applied at a few local international and US college campuses, and went back to grad school at just about the 13 month mark. Caveat here that obviously grad school is expensive, and child care was an additional modest expense. We were fortunate that my job came with great pay and benefits, and he had an untouched GI Bill which paid for the entire cost of tuition ad books. Going back to school made him feel back to his old, productive self since it was a tangible way to progress in his career and something to point to in future resumes (“Mr Fibchopkin, it looks like there’s a three year gap in your resume, can you tell us about that?” “Oh yes Ms. Hiring Manager, I took four years to live in Japan where I earned an MBA and as you can see at XX Date there, took the opportunity volunteer at Well Known Organization in Our Industry where I earned a lot about X and built some fantastic connections which could be a real asset.”) You may find that your spouse loves the time off and just enjoys the heck out of staying at home and taking the opportunity to do and go and see everything, but you should be prepared that he might need to find something to keep his resume fresh and keep himself feeling fulfilled. There’s school (like my husband did) or there are a bunch of volunteering opportunities there that he could take advantage of if you’re in Tokyo or on Okinawa. There are large U.S. military bases in both places that have things like animal shelters, USO’s, and MWR programs that always need volunteers. There are on-post job opportunities as well, but I would caution you to absolutely NOT count on him getting one of those. There are limited jobs available and military spouses and veterans get preference. To see listings- head to USAJobs.com and put in the closest FPO address, or search “Tokyo.” My husband found that, before getting into business school, he had a really hard time making friends, even though he’s very outgoing and that usually comes easy to him. There weren’t really any other stay-at-home dad meetup groups that he could find, and most of neighbors, while incredibly friendly, polite, and kind, were a little baffled by the concept of a working mom and a stay-at-home dad. Once he went back to school, though, he made TONS of friends from all over the world. So many of us find our tribes at work or at school, and for the first little while, he felt a little isolated and like his social circle was fully dependent on me and my work buddies. I would caution you to be prepared for that and to have your spouse start connecting with meetup groups online that address some of his interests so that you have something of a friend network in place when you get there.

          Getting healthcare set up was much harder than I expected. Japanese health care is excellent, and free for anyone who is there (or can prove they will be there) for 365 days or longer, but getting through the paperwork and records transfer is a NIGHTMARE. Also, there’s no real concept of a PCP or family doctor in Japan. You just go to the clinic or hospital for everything from checkups to illnesses or broken bones.

          Finally, I would say you should not even worry one little bit about any language barriers. I am fairly fluent in Korean (I would say my conversational, reading, and writing skills are about on par with a typical Korean highschool grad) and was really looking forward to expanding my Japanese and Kanji comprehension beyond the few phrases I had a handle on, but all of my neighbors and friends were so excited to having an English speaking partner, and so very, very insistent on being polite (their words) and speaking in English, that I barely every got to practice, even when I said I really wanted to!

        2. Fibchopkin*

          Sorry- I tried to reply, but I think I got carried away and it was too long- lol! If you PM me on reddit – u/Fibchopkin. I’d be happy to message you about my experiences :)

    7. londonedit*

      I don’t know if it’s something you can find to watch in the US somehow, but there’s a BBC programme called Wanted Down Under. The premise is that each episode features a couple or family where one person really wants to move to Australia, and the rest of the family maybe aren’t so sure. So they get to spend a week in Oz to test the lifestyle – they look at houses based on their budget, they talk to people in their industries, they do a comparison of their likely living costs in Australia and the UK, and they explore the area they’re thinking about moving to. It’s daytime TV so it’s not massively in-depth, but it’s quite interesting to see how people’s opinions change depending on the information they discover about the various aspects of the lifestyle they might have. If you can find it anywhere to watch, it might be vaguely helpful!

      1. tarzzee*

        A long, long time ago I was the Australian employee on this show. I had a camera crew follow me around for a whole day and showed the UK-job seeker around my work. It was sooo awfully nerve wracking, I had to do interviews and all sorts…
        Apparently they also thought it was awful and all of my ‘speaking’ parts were cut from the show!! Which I was hardly disappointed about!

        1. Sassy Spacek*

          londonedit and tarzzee, I love this show! I also feel like nobody who appears on the show appears to have watched the show as they are always shocked when it comes to the “how much would your food shopping and bills be in Australia” segment. Also it seems like everyone’s ideal of living in Australia is having a swimming pool so maybe they need an additional wake up call about how much work pools are and that they aren’t really standard in Oz. It doesn’t seem like a lot of people actually end up making the move but I check the follow up and am happy for those who made it!

    8. Forrest Gumption*

      I relocated from Florida to South Africa for a year, and even brought my not-super-healthy 19-year-old cat! (She did just fine on the flight, FWIW.) My advice: make sure you REALLY want to move and do tons of research. How many times have you visited? Have you investigated the social opportunities, the price of groceries and gas, whether or not your partner can work, what the schools are like for your kids? Tax implications? Cost of moving? It’s a huge upheaval of your life, and you have to be really sure you want to do it. If you’re not 100% sure, I would recommend giving it a one-year trial run, and maybe not move your entire life over (or sell your cars/house back home) until you have settled in and decided you’re in it for the long haul (this is also a good idea because you may end up hating it, or become super homesick). That way you don’t have to uproot/start over again after a relatively short period of time. And make sure you get as much as possible from your future employer, if you get the job offer. Negotiate the max salary, the max relocation funds, any other perks that you can think of. Because moving is hard, and expensive. In my case, my husband was not able to work, and it was harder than we expected to make friends in SA. The first we anticipated, the second not. We decided for both these reasons not to stay longer than a year, and were glad we didn’t buy or ship over furniture, cars etc., which made it much easier to leave.

    9. Bula!*

      This is dated advice as I’m 40 now. When I was 8, we moved to Fiji for my dad’s job. From the perspective of a kid, it was really amazing. I was old enough to have a lot of wonderful memories.

      I attended an international school, which had it’s ups and downs. I had just finished 2nd grade, gone through summer, and then had a few weeks of 3rd when we moved. At which point it was summer vacation in Fiji, so I had more time off. At the school, they put me in with my age group. A year later when we moved back (from Fiji to Maine in February!), I shimmied ahead a grade to stay with kids my age again. I had issues with my teacher hating Americans and picking on me in class. My parents talking to the teacher straightened that out. I don’t remember what we learned differing from an American education aside from a lot of history on Fiji. The cultural experiences were amazing as were the gorgeous beaches.

      I moved every couple years when I was a kid within the States, so this was just a new school with a different culture set in a really amazing place. I don’t know how old your child is, but it was overall a positive experience for me. And in today’s internet age, it should be easy to keep in touch with old friends.

    10. Rebecca*

      I traveled as a teacher for a little over a decade, where I was always an expat, and now I’ve immigrated to France to be with my partner and stepson – so I guess now I am the trailing spouse.

      If you go with a good company that is actively looking for expats or who is at least welcoming you as one, and will be providing on going support as you settle in (from the big stuff like helping you navigate real estate and giving you an advance on your salary to cover deposits and things, to the small stuff like helping you figure out how to book a doctor’s appointment the first time you get sick) then this can be a really wonderful experience. The fact that you share the language means you likely won’t be living in an expat bubble. The worst that will happen is that it will suck, and you’ll want to come home in a year or two. How old is your child(ren)? If they are elementary age, there is almost no risk to their education long term, except that they might not like it. My parents took me to Scotland for a year my first year of high school and they really worried – for the first few weeks I was so anxious I made myself physically ill, but I rallied and had an excellent year. Right now I’m teaching a 10 year old whose American parents just relocated to France from America, and she speaks no French and – she’s managing, and by Christmas, she’ll be thriving. Your kids are more adaptable and flexible than you are.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      I moved to the other side of the world, single at the time but acquired a spouse in the new place. I also have a lot of colleagues who have made similar moves with cats and spouses and kids. You have one big advantage in that you’re moving to an English speaking country.

      – most important, will your work visa give your husband the right to work? This isn’t always a given, and a spouse who can’t work can be a real problem for general life satisfaction. If they can work, what are the chances of getting a job? If not, can they work remotely for a job back in the US, and what are your plans if they can’t get employment?

      – school-wise, it will take your kids some time to adapt to the local curriculum. History classes, for example, will be entirely different. If you’ve got kids in high school with ambitions for top universities, you may need to think a bit about how to manage this, and what their options are. If you’ve got small children, ask about daycare – I’ve had friends relocate countries to be told “yes, we have an opening for your children. In two years.”

      – international moves are particularly hard if you’ve got special health/education needs. Health and school systems work very differently in different countries, it takes time to get set up with new providers, and you may not be able to match what you had at home.

      – the culture shock is more subtle and less expected moving somewhere like Australia than somewhere completely foreign (I’ve moved to both the US and East Asia), because it looks and sounds more similar, but still has more fundamental differences.

      – in general, you need the ability to be flexible, and to go with the flow. If you can’t, the experience is a lot more likely to be miserable.

      – if you fly out for an interview, go for more than 24 hours of exploring time! Ask about the neighbourhoods where people live, what the rental process is, school systems, health system. Drive around some neighbourhoods. Check out the local grocery stores and playgrounds, look at parks, take lots of pictures for your family back home.

      – I agree with you about the cat. That’s a huge stress on the animal. And if you do end up taking the can, please, please, don’t let it outside – Australia (and its birds) is particularly vulnerable to introduced predators.

    12. Julie Noted*

      Heads up: if you do end up moving to Australia, don’t call it Oz or Down Under. Those names kinda give us the shits.

      Also, re schooling – there aren’t many “American” schools and they’re not highly thought of.

      I disagree with the commenter who said you don’t need to plan to have a car. That depends hugely on where you live. If you’re in the inner city, public transport is readily available. Otherwise not so much.

      1. M*

        Re: the car, it also depends on which city, and (the OP mentioned in comments it’s an academic position) which university the position is with. Can’t imagine trying to work at La Trobe without a car, but for RMIT/Melbourne not having a car would be pretty simple, for example.

        Re: schooling, yeah, American international schools aren’t really a thing here. (Neither are charter schools: it’s either (usually religious, though not always heavily) private schools or state-run public schools. It’s worth doing your research on the local public schools when you’re picking your location – the primary schools tend to be much of a muchness, but the secondary schools can vary quite widely, and being in a catchment area for a very good one can massively increase house prices. If you’re considering private school, that’s a whole different kettle of fish – at a primary school level, it’s pretty pointless, so if your child(ren) are at a primary school age I wouldn’t bother, but at a secondary school level it’s a much more complicated decision, and one that it’s worth doing a lot of research about (there’s a pretty wide spread in quality) before committing to a particular school.

        1. Megan*

          Completely agree, most definitely need a car for La Trobe or Deakin (they both have trams but are far away from the city in the suburbs) but could do without for Melbourne or RMIT!

    13. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      I know many people who have travelled with older pets and it has worked well. Don’t think ‘kitty can’t do that!’. Many senior pets can travel despite illness/health issues. (I’ve done 14 hour car rides with elderly pets, many with health issues, flew with a special needs cat, etc.)

    14. Went to HK*

      My family and I recently returned to the US from living in Hong Kong for a number of years. My spouse grew up there and wanted to move back. Our kids were very young then and we luckily founds jobs there. We returned so our children could spend their high school years in the US in preparation for applications to US universities. I should note I have never lived abroad before.
      Despite Hong Kong being relatively English speaking, I found it very difficult to adapt to the first several years and questioned myself often why I had done this. I had thought it would be an enlightening adventure, broaden our horizons but got sucked into the unfamiliarity and it simply took time to learn how to get around, where to go, and HOW to do things. I had moved within the US before but this was a combo location change plus culture change.
      That said, I now look positively on the experience. I miss some of the great foods there and also some of the culture aspects such as the small local cafes that are open late, the speed at which some things can get done, etc. There are pros and cons to just about everywhere and it just took me some time to learn about the pros. That’s my experience.

  5. But I Don't Wanna Be a Pirate...*

    I feel like my team forces me to micro-manage, and I’m very discouraged about it.

    I’ve managed a group of customer service/support reps for the last 4 years. We handle support calls and process support tickets. The group has always been micro-managed by our former director. In fact, if he didn’t feel that I was micro-managing enough, he just jumped in and micro-managed for me. It’s one of the biggest complaints of the reps; they feel like they’re being treated like children. Sooo…. director retired in May, and I have actively tried to change this, but it is turning out to be a disaster. We are not hitting goals, people are cutting corners, and things are just not being done. I’ve had to revert to the same tactics, daily emails about goals, harping about the same mistakes and correct SOPS, almost hourly reminders of how many support tickets are pending, standing over people who’ve taken themselves off of the phones. I understand that managing means holding people to account for their performance, but I feel like I am micro-managing to the extreme. I just feel like such a failure. At least when old director was here, I could blame this on his management style, but I really thought that I had the opportunity to turn things around when he retired. New director is absolutely baffled that the reps need this much hand-holding and just says “I guess we’ll have to go back to the old way.”

    How do I fix this???

    1. JustKnope*

      Can you choose one area of improvement to focus at a time? Going from extreme micro-management to a lot of autonomy all at once might be too overwhelming for them! Maybe choose one area per week to start stepping back from, and clearly articulate what you need them to be doing differently. “Team, I’m not going to be reminding you about the amount of open tickets this week – I need you to be continually checking in on that and be aware of it.” And then, if it piles up too much, say something in the moment like “There are too many support tickets open right now. You should have checked this X minutes ago.” Then later, have the “What happened today that you let too many tickets pile up?” convo. I think by giving them the reins gradually, being REALLY specific about the behaviors you need to see change and correcting them in the moment plus with the big-picture conversations could really help.

      1. Qwerty*

        Agreed on focusing on one thing at a time. Just wanted to add on that as employees start learning to be autonomous again, you will likely need to switch from team-based goals to focusing on individual performance. Some people adjust to new rules/policies faster than others.

        Don’t lose hope or beat yourself up! The old director’s management probably drove good people away and/or caused them to lose any motivation to work independently. It isn’t just that they need hand-holding – micromanagers tend to discourage good professional behavior. They’ve spent the past X years being told not to think for themselves, so they’ve mentally given up on it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Start documenting performance issues and if people are doing their job poorly, start putting them on PIPs. Right now, it sounds like all you’re doing is the same thing that you’ve been doing, and they’re not seeing any real consequences.

    3. JimmyJab*

      It sounds like you have to micromanage for now to meet your goals but there needs to be some serious discussions with your staff, clear expectations set (again if necessary), and consequences for failing to meet those expectations. It sounds like that is something that could take awhile given how poorly they’ve performed without your previous director around.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Explicitly. Have one on one conversations with each and every single one of your people, lay out exactly what you’re seeing from them specifically, tell them exactly what you want to see, and ask them how they can get there. Be very clear, even blunt. Do not try to sugar coat it. This is a performance issue now – and while you can give them some initial leeway and time to change, they have to change. Also, be prepared that some of your people may not be capable of working more independently and you may ultimately have to manage someone out.

    5. Kes*

      I think beyond what others have already said, it’s worth explaining to them that you would like to step back but that will only work if they are willing to step up and take more initiative themselves. It’s hard to say at this point if they are not good enough to do their jobs independently or are just so used to the micromanagement they don’t think to take any initiative. I think you may need to actively encourage and retrain their way of thinking for a while. However, at some point you may need to start managing some of them out if they truly can’t do their job without micromanagement.
      (Also, keep in mind your set of workers may be self-selected to be those who are okay with and need micromanagement – the ones who don’t have likely already left and it may take time to readjust and rebuild the team back to be able to work independently)

    6. Colette*

      Have you been really clear about what they need to do?
      I.e. I need you each to handle 50 support calls a day. Your overall approval rating should be 80%. You need to be available to take calls 90% of the time. You need to follow our procedures as written.

      And then once you have been super clear, start holding them accountable (“I see you were off the phones for an hour yesterday. What happened?”) and manage them out if you have to.

      Do you listen calls and review support tickets? There is usually a team that is responsible for that – do you have that set up?

    7. Susan K*

      What are the consequences for not meeting goals? It looks like you’re taking all the responsibility for the success or failure of the team, so you’re the only one who cares. It sucks to have to discipline people or be the “mean” boss, but they need to see that they will be held accountable for their performance. Your company probably has a policy about the disciplinary process, so use it. The good ones will realize you’re serious and catch on quickly; the bad ones may have to be let go.

      Since this will probably be a major change from the way you currently operate, I would suggest warning them about it. Tell them that you don’t want to micromanage them any more than they want to be micromanaged, but in order for you to trust them to do their jobs without you standing over them, you’re going to need to see improvement, and if you don’t, there will be consequences through the disciplinary process.

    8. Public Sector Manager*

      I wouldn’t describe your situation as micro managing the staff. Micromanaging is usually a lack of trust in the ability of the person to get the job done so the manager just does it for them. Here, it sounds like you’re giving them the space to do their tasks and they refuse to do them. As Red Reader noted, that is definitely a PIP issue not a micromanaging issue.

      Before you’re going down the PIP route, take a step back and first see if everyone has been properly trained. It’s one thing to be insubordinate and refuse to do those things you’ve been trained to do. It’s another to never have the proper training in the first place. If it’s been ages since anyone has been trained, retraining should be the first step.

      If everyone has been trained, then you have to have one-on-one conversations with the offenders. Group discussions of these issues never work because (1) some people never see themselves as a problem even though they are (2) people who aren’t a problem always think that you’re talking about them when you aren’t.

      Once you’ve had the one-on-ones, give the good employees the flexibility to get the job done. And for the ones who aren’t doing their job, document their performance, do a PIP, and see what develops.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Before you’re going down the PIP route, take a step back and first see if everyone has been properly trained. It’s one thing to be insubordinate and refuse to do those things you’ve been trained to do. It’s another to never have the proper training in the first place. If it’s been ages since anyone has been trained, retraining should be the first step.

        This is a good point. I remember when I used to work for EvilLaw Firm, and I was given four weeks of training on the foreclosure process in my state and a neighboring state, plus an additional two weeks on a client-specific tracking site. I was fantastic at my job and really knew the ends and outs of it. However, the employees who were hired after me only received one and a half to two weeks of training on the foreclosure process and the client-specific tracking site, so they frequently did things wrong or half-assed. When people who had been there for years would complain about them and having to clean up their messes later, I’d say, is it any wonder? They were barely trained. Unfortunately, our department’s workload was too high and the team lead in charge of training was just too swamped doing her work and our manager’s that no one could be retrained. People ended up being fired because of it, or they quit in frustration.

    9. Ama*

      One thing I have realized in managing a direct report who just doesn’t have a lot of work experience is that if someone has always been able to get by with someone else overseeing their workflow (in my report, it’s that her teachers always set deadlines, gave out syllabi, etc. for your team it’s that the former director handled all their workflow reminders), they have to be encouraged and taught how to develop their own systems for tracking things when that oversight is taken away.

      With my direct report, I will occasionally volunteer how I keep track of different types of tasks, but I have encouraged her to come up with her own ways of doing things because I know what works for me might not work for her (and I’ve also made sure she knows we have some money to buy needed supplies for this — for example the big calendar she asked for to write various deadlines out on because it was easier for her to visualize her time management than on our electronic calendar). I make it clear that the end result is the most important thing here — if she’s turning in a solid work product on schedule, I don’t care if her process for tracking is post-its or tying strings on her fingers, it just needs to work consistently. We do occasionally chat about what her process is and how it’s going, just so I can try to catch anything that might be going off the rails — I actually am planning another check in in a couple of weeks as we’ve now evolved past simple “improvement of time management” to “how to track things you need to remember from one project to another.”

      The other piece, which other commenters have already mentioned, is to ease them into it a bit at a time, maybe with some advance warning. Her first year, I largely focused on handing over in-office admin tasks and getting her to manage those largely independently while keeping a closer eye on our event planning tasks; this year I gave her a heads up that more of the event planning would be on her to plan, initiate, and execute with just periodic updates to me.

    10. Kathenus*

      Lots of great advice already. I’m going to highlight one that’s been alluded to but not really brought front and center. Have a discussion (with individuals or even better the group as a whole if possible) that very specifically talks about the topic of micro-managing. Let them know that you’ve heard them for years that this was a concern of theirs, and that when you took over you listened and have been working to take that feedback and not do this.

      But then talk openly about the fact that since you’ve pulled back from micro-managing that as a group they’re not meeting goals, that some are cutting corners, and things aren’t being done. Let them know that you’re frustrated that you are giving them the freedom they asked for to monitor their own behavior and that it’s not working. Have some ideas to improve (checklists, specific assignments, whatever), but ask for their ideas.

      Let them know clearly that they need to meet performance objectives, and that you want to trust them to have some freedom in this with you managing at a higher level, but that this is completely dependent upon them – as a group and individuals – rising to the task. They don’t want to be micro-managed, you hear them, so you need them to work with you to perform at a high level so it’s not necessary. But, that at the end of the day, that meeting business needs is the top priority, so either they do this without heavy oversight or if they don’t that you’ll need to manage them closely.

      Be clear, engage them in the solution, but at the end of the day make it clear the business needs take top priority.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        If the group as a whole was functioning while being micromanaged, and has fallen apart when shifted to a non-micromanaged style, but the non-mm style seems to be a better strategy in the long run … then I think bringing the group into the planning for it is crucial.

        Setting measurable targets (no more than 5 high priority tickets open for more than x time, or whatever) and then creating transparent/real time processes to manage those targets can help to shift the managing of the microbits to the staff. They can micromanage themselves because all they have to look up and see what’s next. Folks who can’t succeed with that can get some additional scaffolds to help (hourly reminder to check the ticket board status, or whatever). Management’s role turns into pointing at the process and celebrating successes, rather than laboriously dealing with every microbit. Those who can’t succeed with the scaffolds can get help with developing skills or can be urged to find work that better suits their style.

    11. thatoverthere*

      Is their good behavior/goals/number of tickets achieve you can reward? I found when I managed a small group of people that rewarding the good behavior worked better than reprimanding. Every month I would have a different goal and a way to achieve it. The winner got a gift card, or an extra paid day off. When month I even did a bingo board. Each square had a different goal and they hit they checked it off. Every time they hit bingo they got a gift card. We increased average ticket sales by 50% after I implemented it. You may be able to tailor something like this to fit your particular needs.

    12. Mockingjay*

      One thing that has not been mentioned is an evaluation of the workload. Is your team truly adequately staffed to handle the tickets in the required time? Are required response times unrealistic? Are your team members simply burned out?

      As part of your conversation with them, ask them what they need to succeed. Do they have new ideas on how to better manage the ticket queue? Do they need more training or refresher training? What do they need from you as a manager? Frame it as team collaboration, rather than manager/employee hierarchy. They are probably rather wary of their relationship with you, as a carryover from the former manager. It may take some time to reset the relationship.

      1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

        Yeah, I honestly suspect that OP doesn’t have the power to fix this situation. I’m guessing the fundamental problem is that working at a call center sucks, having a computer watching you all day sucks, having a bunch of micro-metrics you’re being judged on daily sucks. I think there are other models for doing support/call center type work that could make them more fulfilling, but it’s not super likely that OP could make them happen.

        My best advice: find ways to make the job more tolerable (even little things, like snacks in the breakroom on Fridays or an extra 15 minute break here and there, can make a big difference), and try to find ways to give folks more ownership. Do they understand the “why” of these jobs? Are they trained to understand and execute rote processes and tasks, or are they trained to empathize with the customer and take ownership of their problems? I’ve worked “crappy” jobs that I really enjoyed, and the key was really ownership and autonomy. “Follow this flow chart and put the results in this field” is a crappy job. Having power to help this customer stop pulling their hair out and actually resolve their issue can be a much better job.

      1. ampersand*

        This is what I’m thinking. And/or they like receiving this level of oversight, which points to them likely not being the right people for these positions.

    13. Lana Kane*

      I am in your shoes now. I walked into managing eams that were being micromanaged and not helped to perform individually. What I’m doing, that seems to be working:

      -I assessed the workflows to make sure that people aren’t cutting corners for a valid reason. If quotas are unreasonable, for example, address this first. People mainly want to meet quotas because many companies make this a priority over quality.
      – I identified the areas that needed work and made sure I had documentation in place to explain the correct process, and best practices
      -I met with the team and explained that some things would be changing: That some processes weren’t being followed but that I would now be ensuring they were, that I’d be doing some quality checks, and I would be emailing them details of what I’m looking at. I also told them where the resources were and offered to answer any questions they had.
      -I picked one or two improvements at a time. Making sweeping changes would be overwhelming.
      -After I announced each change, I made it a point to have a robust QA system for each person. Depending on how many direct reports you have, you can do this for everyone, or divide them into smaller groups to tackle at a time. This process will likely be time consuming, but it’s essential.
      -If you do regular 1:1’s, go over any non-urgent errors then. Anything urgent/time sensitive, bring to their attention right away. Chase this conversation with an email so both of you have documentation. I save my coaching emails so I can keep track, so I can cover my butt if someone says I didn’t tell them something, and to see if I can identify patterns that can be overlooked if you are always putting out fires.
      -Now, after all changes have been announced and socialized, and after people have indicated they understand – this becomes a performance issue and you can use your company’s process to get that started.

      Some notes:
      –Look at this process as a key part of your job as a manager. Don’t put it off, because not keeping track of performance is how many people stay in roles that they under-perform in. Aside from the impact this has on your customers and company, the morale hit on their teammates who do perform is considerable.
      –You will be micromanaging during this process, unfortunately. Human nature is such that changes can take time, especially if you are asking people not to use what they consider to be time saving measures. This will include explaining things more than once, and checking in to make sure your documented resources are accurate and working for them. But if you find yourself explaining over and over, you start telling people to look at the resources before you answer any questions. This is hard, because you want to just move on. But if people can get an answer faster from you, they will just come to you rather than read the documentation.
      –The larger the team is, the longer it will take. Make sure your managers are on board and you have their support to undertake all of this. Because if you don’t, this won’t work as well. You can still try and have some success with individual people, but the team may not see improvement as a whole. And if some people can get away with cutting corners, others will follow suit because, why not?
      — Set a timeline for yourself with small goals. You may not meet them at first because you may not know how long this will really take, but this will give you perspective.

      Best of luck! Like I said, I am in the middle of this right now and I’m seeing some really surprising improvements.

      1. Lana Kane*

        One more thing: I also supervise people who are on phones a lot. This is demanding work that requires a lot of attention. Make sure their processes are not overly complicated, or require tjem to do things that are hard to do when attending to phones. Please keep that in mind as you assess your workflows.

    14. Researchalator Lady*

      Escalation and consequences. It sounds like it’s flat – you stand over them and tell them to get back on the phone, they do for a while, you see them off the phone again, go over and tell them to get on the phone again, rinse and repeat. Go to (for example) reminder, writeup with up to 3 strikes per day, each time invited to think of a strategy that would be helpful to them to avoid a further strike; if they get past 3 strikes on the same day they are sent home. On the subsequent day they skip the reminder and go to the 3-strikes, and are terminated or suspended after the 3rd strike. This gives a generous 7 chances in the case where the mistakes are small and easy to correct, but still provides a way to terminate someone who is failing to try to perform almost immediately.

    15. Degen From Upcountry*

      Is there any opportunity to split the roles so that you have a subgroup of reps taking calls all day, and a subgroup handling tickets and back office work? You could either create fixed positions (maybe with taking calls being level one in a career path and handling tickets being level two) or rotate week by week.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is also a good idea and one that was eventually implemented at the law firm I used to work for.

    16. Galahad*

      Turn it back to your reps…
      1) Figure out (you and director) what your three top goals of the group are — e.g., 90% of orders are placed correctly with only a single client contact.

      2) Go to your reps, Have them choose which indicators that they can control or influence to have the best impact on the goals you set. One person may choose to answer the phone within 15 seconds, another may choose to respond to all email inquiries within a day, a third may choose to have a daily check in with production, or to complete a certain task by morning coffee break.
      Each rep sets a daily target for themselves on this measure.

      3) Now hold daily (weekly?) short (15 min stand up) meetings, where each rep states how they did the previous day and you review top items for that day. You mark it on a wall chart as you go (one for each rep / measure), and weekly you update the team goal tracking. When a target does not get met, ask that rep what they will do differently (not to chastise, just empower them to own it, like a normal person).

      4) If the team goal is continually not being improved upon, then reps can change up their measures to something that is a better predictor of success. Learn as you go.

      Ideally, set ONE goal to start. When you hit that for a while, change it to a new goal.
      ONE team goal at a time is likely to be attained. Three or more are not.

    17. Trout 'Waver*

      Lots of good advice from the other posters. Most people will leave for a new job rather than suffer through being micromanaged. You may have essentially distilled off the people who could find jobs elsewhere and you’re left with the dregs.

  6. Marian the Librarian*

    I have an interview for a job that involves working with software applications, including web based content management systems. I’ve definitely done this type of work before, but you need a degree in Computer Science or related field. I’m worried that they want someone with IT experience, but you only need 1 year of experience. Also, the job says, “Open until filled”. I’m not sure what that means
    For the interview, they assigned one date and time. (Example: 3:30 on Monday, with no other options.)

    Are these bad signs? Any thoughts or advice is appreciated.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve definitely done this type of work before, but you need a degree in Computer Science or related field.

      You need it? Or the job description says you need it?

      I’m not saying it’s easy to get a job that you aren’t qualified for on paper, but I do not have a degree in computer science or a related field, and I definitely work in IT and have worked with web-based content management systems at jobs before. Until recently, I didn’t even have any certifications.

      I’m worried that they want someone with IT experience, but you only need 1 year of experience.

      Do you have experience of any kind? Do you have that one year doing anything IT-related, even if that wasn’t your primary job?

      1. Marian the Librarian*

        I have an MSLIS, but no IT certifications. Yes, I have experience with HTML, doing system admin work, and have done lots of library database work- both front and back end work.

    2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      ‘Open until filled’ generally means there’s no deadline for applications, they’ll just assess them and schedule interviews (or not) as they come in, and hire someone once they think that person looks good for the role.

    3. Llama Wrangler*

      “Open until filled” means they’ll (theoretically) leave the post up and continue reviewing applications until the position has been filled. This in contrast to a posting that had an apply by or expiration date.

    4. Grapey*

      I would think they are bad signs if you don’t think you could do the comp sci/IT related tasks.

      I also work with a few web based CMSs and I’m responsible not only for maintaining the web UI based on what users need, but I also have to deal with server maintenance and customized scripts to keep the software running. Someone that only knew the UI would not be a good fit for my job, but knowing their way around the app would at least be like 50% there.

      That said, I got my server admin skills on the job by focused training from the soon-to-retire sysadmin, and I don’t have formal IT or comp sci training either.

    5. Kes*

      I think all you can do is go to the interview and see – some places do require degrees, some may list it as desired but be willing to hire someone without it provided they can do the job. The fact that they’ve given you an interview may be a good sign. Many people have started elsewhere and ended up working in IT, regardless of their educational background.
      As for the assigned interview slot, that’s not great but some places do that. If you really can’t make it you can push back, otherwise I would go and just look for other signs of rigidity in processes (and keep in mind, hiring processes run by HR and the area you’ll actually be working in may not operate the same way, and the latter will matter much more to you)

    6. Kiwiii*

      None of these sound particularly red-flaggy. They’ve probably seen that you’ve done technical-adjacent work before and so aren’t being strict about IT-experience and/or degrees. Open until filled just means they continually interview until they find the right candidate instead of having a strict schedule. Assigning a date/time is a little weird, but not /not/ done and assuming they’d have been flexible if you let them know you weren’t available, is fine.

      For what it’s worth, my recent job shift into more technical work went absolutely fine. I hadn’t had any formal training, though had done some medium-level excel/data organization from government systems, and moved into a role using xml. If they’re worried about your experience level, they’ll let you know.

    7. The Shirt Remembers*

      I work in IT.

      At least in my neck of the woods “Computer Science or related field” degree can often be substituted with actual work experience in the field, particularly if they are asking for 1 year of work experience and you have more than that (say, 3-5 years). So if you’ve done this type of work before, be prepared to talk about that in your interview. What you want to be able to do is demonstrate to the interviewers that you’re familiar with the conceptual framework of the technology (so even if you haven’t used their specific system, you have the knowledge that can be extended to their particular setup) and that you are confident you can learn new and adjacent technology skills.

    8. Jellyfish*

      Am I correct in assuming this is a library job? I know that at least in academic libraries, some schools are having trouble finding librarians with adequate computer skills for the tech heavy jobs. At least two in my area are starting to drop the MLIS requirement in favor of a computer science degree. If you have the tech skills and the librarian skills / education, I’d say go ahead and apply.

      1. Jellyfish*

        Oh, should have read more carefully. You did apply and now you have an interview. Maybe note some of your concerns and find ways to watch for those issues and ask questions about those areas?
        Good luck!

    9. Armande Klockhammer, Jr.*

      Not really enough information in your question. Two observations:

      1. They want to interview you. Despite some of the incredible stories one reads here in AAM, they almost certainly wouldn’t interview you unless they knew they could offer you the job.

      2. This sounds like the kind of job where, essentially, they want someone who can do the work. Confidence, experience, and enthusiasm are your friends. Let them tell you what they need. Then let them know about your experience doing all / most of that stuff elsewhere. And if you haven’t done it – it’s kismet, you’ve been looking for a chance to work with that.

      2a. “Open until filled” sorta implies that they are looking for someone who will be around for awhile.

      2b. It *might* also imply that career growth opportunities are limited or nonexistent.

  7. Alternative Person*

    Short Version: What’s the ethics on taking a junior management position when you don’t plan to move up or on for a long time, that as a side effect essentially blocks ground level staff from being able to get the same promotion at that branch?

    Long Version: So I had a discussion with my manager at my part-time job as FT positions are opening soon, and we got on the topic of promotional opportunities. She told me junior management (including her) is basically staying put for the foreseeable future so if I wanted to become a junior manager myself, I would have to move abroad (we’re the only branch in the country we live in).

    I’m not necessarily adverse to moving to another country again, but I felt a little awkward as she essentially admitted to taking a promotion that people need not just for junior management, but senior management and basically every other position at that level

    I’m lucky in that I am able to move abroad if I so choose, but it seemed to me a little unfair to knowingly take a junior management position in an area where there’s already a shortage of good management/promotion positions (not just the company, pretty much the whole country) without any plans to move up within this branch for the foreseeable future, and as an unfortunate side effect effectively block everyone who comes after you who cannot for whatever reason move abroad. I don’t want to fault her or doubt that she had good reasons for taking the job (internal promotion) or say she didn’t need the pay raise, but at the same time she and the other junior managers are putting a lot of people between a rock and a hard place (the company is one of the very few in the area that provides good benefits and tuition support, so people are often loathe to leave) when it comes to progressing their own careers.

    Just, that part of the conversation made me feel uncomfortable.

    1. Colette*

      People are allowed to take the job they want. There is nothing wrong with taking a job that is in the promotion path to another job and just staying there. Not everyone can be promoted, or wants to be.

      In most companies, there are more junior positions than senior positions and people have to leave if they want to move up.

      1. Llama Wrangler*

        Yeah, I agree. It’s frustrating when you’re in a job where there’s no room for growth, but there’s not a moral imperative for junior managers to only take management jobs if they plan to move up in order to create room for growth. Your manager should be thinking about how to support you in your growth, but it sounds like she may actually be doing that by being transparent about what opportunities are likely to exist for you where you are right now.

    2. Glomarization, Esq.*

      I appreciate that there’s a shortage of these positions, but presumably this person is happy in her job. She’s good at what she does and wants to stay there, too. And I’d guess it must be fulfilling her needs in some number of other ways that she didn’t discuss with you. I wouldn’t begrudge her that.

      She’s not staying in this job “at” other people. She’s staying there out of her own concerns and needs. Not everybody wants to continue moving up and up in rank, for a lot of possible reasons, and that’s OK.

    3. JN*

      I’m not sure I quite understand the point you’re making – if she hadn’t taken that promotion, and had let someone else have it, wouldn’t that person then be “blocking” everyone else from moving up in the exact same way? Wouldn’t you be “blocking” them, if you did get the promotion?

      1. Alternative Person*

        I mean they’re planning on staying in position for way longer than really intended, twenty plus rather than say, five or even ten. It would be fine if only one of the Junior Managers had this plan, but it is all of them. And due to company structures, higher positions require the junior management experience before you’ll even be considered.

    4. Susan K*

      What’s the company going to do when they need to hire a senior manager? If none of the junior managers apply, the company will either have to hire externally or promote someone from non-management directly into senior management. If this situation has happened in the past, you can figure out which scenario is more likely. Maybe you’ll have to go elsewhere to get management experience in hopes of being hired back as a senior manager. Sometimes that’s it takes to move up.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the junior managers wanting to stay in their positions. Unless it was an expectation when she was hired for the role that she would eventually be expected to move up to senior manager, why should she have to move up to a position she doesn’t want or, worse, couldn’t do well? Also, I wouldn’t read too much into the statement that junior management is staying put for the foreseeable future. That can easily change.

    5. Quinalla*

      I think it is good she was upfront that those folks aren’t going to be moving up or out for awhile. It may be there is no place above for them to go either! Being up front about this is a kindness to employees so they don’t waste time hoping they can advance somewhere when they can’t. I can understand not liking the situation for sure, but it is what it is and she is trying to be up front which is good!

    6. Kathenus*

      I agree with the other commenters that this is pretty normal in many organizations, and that it’s great that she was so open and honest about it. I work in a niche field that is hierarchical – lots of people at the front line, one manager, one director then upper management. And people at my organization tend to stay, so there are people in the manager/director positions that have been there for decades. Unless they move up or move on, the front line staff would need to move to another division or out of the organization if they want to advance. It’s unfortunate, but no one is doing something wrong by staying in the position that they have if that’s what meets their career or life goal. Even each front line person is effectively blocking someone else from getting their foot in the door. So I get the frustration but think it’s misplaced in this case.

    7. Semi Famous, Mostly Anonymous*

      If all the junior managers are planning on staying at the junior manager level (and not applying for additional opportunities within the company) — then the company will address this if it is a problem. Because the juniors can only move up if there are open positions to move to. And if the company has open positions and a lack of interested internal candidates, then the company should notice this. This is not an employee problem (people wanting to stay at the junior mgr level) this is a company problem.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I could be misreading here. But I think that if companies have a process to “grow new managers” and someone blocks that process so that others cannot come through the pipeline, then that blocking person gets moved out of the way.

      I worked for a company once where it was pretty clear, take the promotion offered or be side-lined forever. They don’t want any blocks in their process of training new managers. If a promotion came along you pretty much had to take it. It was dressed up as an “offer” but it really wasn’t an offer, it was marching orders.

      1. Clisby*

        My father worked for a large company like that. You could refuse one promotion (which usually included a transfer to a different state), but any more and you were never going anywhere. The only exception was that refusing to move to a different country didn’t count against you.

    9. Public Sector Manager*

      This is exactly the problem we have at my government agency. The state civil service rules read that you have to be a supervisor for at least 12 months before you become a manager. We have about 8 or 9 out of our 10 supervisors who have no intention of moving up. So whenever there is a manager vacancy, it’s usually the worst manager in the pack that puts in for the promotion. And we have to have a manager.

      We are constantly losing great employees because of terrible managers, and we get the terrible managers because good supervisors refuse to step up. Plus terrible supervisors aren’t put on a PIP because they have terrible managers. And they aren’t going to change the state’s civil service laws just to accommodate our agency.

      Every office is different, but for our office, good supervisors refusing to step up is a major problem.

    10. LilySparrow*

      I don’t understand the question.

      Are you proposing that one employee owes their promotion to someone else – some hypothetical future hire who wants to move up in the org but can’t, because the actual existing employee has “taken” the spot away from them?

      No, that’s ludicrous. It’s a job, not a handicapped parking space.

      By that logic, you, by virtue of existing, are current stealing air, nutrients, and real estate from all the babies who will be born next month.

      Any given company only has a finite number of jobs, but it is not the only employer in the world. People may want to live in that town and work for that company, and be promoted and not move.

      That doesn’t give their desires any sort of moral significance greater than the desires of people who want that stable, long-term junior position. Everybody has to make compromises in life, and everybody has to learn to cope with envy and jealousy.

      Just because someone else has the thing you want, doesn’t mean they stole it from you. It was never yours to begin with.

  8. MOAS*

    Question for/about remote workers and managers of remote workers:

    If/when you visit the home office, how do you wish it would go?

    One of my remote workers is coming to my city. They will be on vacation 3 days and working here in the office 2 days a week. We have not requested that they come, they initiated it and we said they’re more than welcome to come visit. 

    TBH we’re all pretty excited as this will be the first remote worker in our program to actually come to the office. We started our remote program a year ago and it’s taken off a lot in the short amount of time. Upper mgmt is very much “engage engage engage” so constant communication and check ins are key for successful business relationships.

    We set up a space for her, reserved a room, cleared her with building security so that when she enters, it’s a smooth process. We plan to take her out to lunch, and introduce her to the people here.

    Seatingwise, I reserved one small conference room for her in case she wants to work in private, but I’ll also be setting up the empty desk next to ours so that she can sit with us too if she prefers.

    If it matters, this isn’t something that we would expect anyone to do (come visit and work in teh office)….she raised it initially. My grandboss might not be here, but my boss will be, as will I (she reports directly to me).

    1. Ree*

      We try to set up a few meeting times for the remote person to meet with a few people – whether that’s people they regularly work with but haven’t met, or leadership that they miss out on chatting with in the kitchen at 7:30a.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, +1 to this.

        If I’m on site, I want to achieve as many face to face encounters as possible. I get that she’s initiated this, rather than being invited for a specific thing, but I think it’s up to you as her supervisor to look ahead and think “what group calls are likely to fall in the next month or so that I could instead hold as a physical meeting?”

        Definitely walk her around so she can physically meet everyone she has dealings with, including eg Finance or Payroll or HR but definitely definitely anyone in her reporting line.

        Yes, take her out for lunch, but also recommend good places for dinner, or local sights she mustn’t miss before she leaves. Particularly if those are the donut shop all the on-site people get birthday treats from (which might come up in conversation) or the best karaoke bar.

        The Worst Thing about this kind of visit is when everyone says “soooooo we’re all going to go do something else now, there’s a desk, no idea what the Wi-Fi key is, see you whenever, let yourself out”. Don’t do that. If you can’t be with her the whole time, at least check in regularly. I think the nearby desk would make that easier than the meeting room.

        1. MOAS*

          That’s really detailed, thanks so much! So it seems like I’m on the right track; we’re an office of about 100 so I don’t plan to introduce her to e very single one, just the people she’s interacted with and my bosses etc. We have a regular 1-on-1 scheduled weekly, and this one will be face to face. She’s been to this city before, but we can definitely give her pointers.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Full-time remote worker here. My company pretty much does exactly what you’re planning to do with your remote worker when I visit the company headquarters’ campus, well, minus booking me a conference room. I just sit at one of the empty cubicles around my coworkers. Otherwise, I get taken to lunch and/or dinner a couple times a week, and I attend meetings like normal, just in person.

    3. Erin (who works from home)*

      One thing that happens to me when I go into my home office is that I tend to get sort of socially overwhelmed. I’m not sure what the culture of your office is, but for me, since I only see them once a month/every six weeks, my days in the home office can be a little frustrating because *everyone* wants to stop by and see me and ask how things are going and did I see blah-blah movie and how’s my husband, and so on. It’s almost as if because we don’t have day-to-day “water cooler”-type conversations, it all comes out when I visit.

      I worry this comes across a little self-centered (like, wow, I’m just soooo important that everyone has to come talk to me!) but in my case I end up feeling mobbed and my productivity suffers for it. I always feel like a jerk when I have to be like, “Hi, good to see you — yup, closing my door now!” so it’s something to be aware of if you think folks might want to chat with her. :)

      1. Yorick*

        Maybe they can plan big lunches or some other type of social event so people can get that out of their system while she’s not trying to work

        1. EH*

          Yeah, when I was working very remotely and would visit the office, I liked going to lunch with everybody and getting some social facetime.

          Having a small conference room available for quiet is REALLY great – I know I have a harder time tuning out office noise when I work remotely. Trying to focus in an open office after working from home with nobody here but my partner and cats (both of whom are pretty quiet) was a nightmare.

    4. Mama Bear*

      We had to bring in a guy one week a year for an audit. Since it was a company requirement, the company covered his hotel and car. We pretty much did the same as you – set up a workspace, a badge, took him out to lunch once, included him in all relevant scrums and meetings, etc. Otherwise he was treated like anybody else on the team, and I think it was good for morale that everyone got to meet. People are different face to face.

    5. I don’t post often*

      I work remotely and see my managers once a year or so at different offices. I almost never see my immediate team members face to face. I like sitting in an area where I can see and meet other people. I like going to lunch with someone I communicate with frequently but whom I probably don’t know personally that well. During my last trip my manager and I ate lunch with our accounting department contacts-these are two people I’ve spoken with and emailed with extensively but aren’t on our team. The lunch was great, we mostly chatted about work. I have a better understanding of how to interact with them over the phone. One caveat, if the employee has any deadlines to meet, make sure he or she has time for that… someone mentioned the chatty-ness of other employees above and I think that is true. If I am on a week long trip and I have a deadline looming I tend to hide in a conference for a bit to get that done.

    6. MoopySwarpet*

      When we’ve had remote workers “visit,” we have an area where they can work and everyone clears their schedule as much as possible to allow for the inevitable meet and greet and chatting. We will also schedule any meetings we think might be beneficial . . . such as clients who are local to our office, but work closely with the remote worker. Depending on the person, they will sometimes arrange after hours activities with other employees or their direct management (such as lunches, dinners, cocktail hours, etc.).

    7. Gaia*

      I am a full time remote worker in my current role and in previous roles I have been the sole member of my department in one office with my entire team across the country in another office. In both cases, when I find myself working in the “main” office I prefer a few things:

      1. A space to sit and work with the appropriate setup. This may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t happen.

      2. Opportunities to meet with people in person, even just for short 15 minute “chats” – including people outside of my department

      3. An offer (not a requirement) to have a team lunch or dinner or drinks is always appreciated.

      I love working remotely and I wouldn’t give it up for the world, but I also appreciate the value of face time when other team members work together. I don’t need an extravaganza, but it is always nice to know the “office” team is excited to see me there.

      My current team is completely remote – none of us work from the organization headquarters. This winter we’re meeting up in HQ for a week and everyone is pretty excited about it. We talk all the time and have regular video/skype calls but there is just something about being in person.

    8. pumpkin on da shelf*

      Can I just say, how thoughtful you were in setting this person up for a smooth process. My company has just started having remote workers but in our case these are folks that moved and were able to continue working remotely given our work from home setup and it all getting approved.

      We had one once who was in the area for the holidays and wanted to come work in the office. The manager at the time said we had no space and encouraged him to work from wherever he was staying in the area. What a shame and a missed opportunity (no, she’s not a good manager).

      Anyway, just wanted to say nice job and nice of you to come here and ask for anything else you may not have covered. Well done you!

  9. Anon for this*

    Last year, I had a terrible boss, Deangelo. He was a micromanager and very scattered, so he was constantly pulling everyone in many different directions, prioritizing whatever popped into his head at the moment. He had inappropriate personal relationships with selected subordinates and favored them with assignments, performance reviews, schedule flexibility, raises, and promotions. Worst of all, he was a notorious liar and we couldn’t trust a word out of his mouth. He would tell us to cut corners to get results, always with a great story about why it was ok in this situation, but throw people under the bus if they were caught.

    Deangelo was great at passing the buck, and senior management loved him, but his sleaziness eventually caught up with him. He resigned while under investigation for violating company policy, and all of the non-management employees in the department were overjoyed. Since he quit right as the investigation started, the company simply dropped the investigation.

    Then he got a job with a vendor that provides technical support for some equipment used in my department. I am responsible for this equipment. If we have problems with the equipment or need to schedule maintenance for it, I am the one who has to call the vendor. Another guy, Andy, is currently my main point of contact there, but if he’s busy or out of the office, he will often refer me to Deangelo. Sometimes I have to go to their facility. Sometimes I go to conventions where they have a booth. Just about every time I’m in contact with this vendor, I end up having to talk to Deangelo.

    Knowing what a liar Deangelo is, I’m sure he used his old job as a selling point to get his new job, telling them that he would be valuable because of his great relationship with a major client (and leaving out the part about resigning to avoid an investigation). The truth is, I dread having to contact this vendor because I know I’ll probably have to talk to Deangelo again. I have no desire to sabotage his new job, but I would really prefer not to deal with him anymore. He hasn’t tried to come to our facility yet, but I’m hearing rumors that he is going to become our main account rep. Given the circumstances of his departure, I’m uncomfortable with the thought of him having access to our equipment.

    Some of my coworkers are urging me to tell the vendor I don’t want Deangelo involved with our account, but I’m not sure if that’s reasonable/appropriate. He hasn’t done anything wrong (yet) in his capacity as vendor representative. Knowing Deangelo, if word were to get back to him that I made such a request, he would come up with a convincing story about why I have a grudge against him that would make me look bad. Has anybody been in this situation before? Is there a good way to ask the vendor to keep him away from our account, or should I suck it up and deal with him unless/until he does something wrong?

    1. SuperAnon*

      I think there’s been a letter to AAM on this topic… and I think Alison’s response was along the lines of asking the vendor to reassign you a different rep.

      “I don’t feel confident that he will have our company’s best interests at heart.” In fact, is it kind of a conflict of interest for him to be assigned to an account for a company under which he was being investigated? I’d raher have him pissed at me than have him sabotaging my systems.

      Can you enlist the help of your manager on backing you up for this?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. The vendor works for your company. Your company has the right to chose who they do business with, right down to the sales rep.

        If the vendor says you have to talk to the former employee then the solution there is to find a new vendor.
        I would start looking around anyway because it’s always good to be prepared.

        Remember the vendor SERVES your company. You don’t have to serve the vendor.
        I don’t see an ethical dilemma here at all. The vendor should have done due diligence before hiring this guy. Not your problem that they do not realize what they have on their hands.

    2. Lizabeth*

      This is a tough one since Deangelo seems to have the gift of “gab*”. Personally, I would have a conversation with Andy and let him know what was going on at your company and why you don’t want Deangelo as your main rep. If this doesn’t work for you and you get Deangelo, I’d document everything that he’s involved in and fire him as your account rep on the first lie. Yes, you can fire an account rep because you’re the client and I would like to think your business is worth more than Deangelo to this company.

      *BS, gaslighting besides lying. You get the idea.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, I think if you have a good relationship with Andy, it might be best to get out ahead of this and have a conversation with him where you bring up that you’ve heard Deangelo might be assigned as the main rep and that actually he has a history with your company and resigned while under investigation for violating company policy and you’re not comfortable with having him as the rep on the account.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          I’d leave out the last part depending on what the OP’s HR policy is. If OP’s HR only confirms dates of employment and nothing else it potentially puts them in a sticky wicket especially since Deangelo resigned before he was potentially fired.

          1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

            Eh, I would leave it out not so much for that reason, but because OP can just say “he has a history with our company, as you might know, and I’m not comfortable with having him be the main rep on our account. Besides, we’ve *really* loved working with you, Andy!” OP doesn’t really need to elaborate on why they’re not comfortable, but if pressed could always say “I’m not authorized to talk about that” and let Deangelo’s company fill in the blanks themselves. (Then, if they ask Deangelo, he could say OP has a grudge, but it’s less convincing when it’s clear OP is trying *not* to smear him. D is more likely to say something like “huh, I have no idea what they might be talking about!” which his company can either investigate more or ignore as they like.)

      2. Anon for this*

        Yeah, that’s a big concern for me. I have kind of a sixth sense for sociopaths and I got that vibe from Deangelo as soon as I met him. He’s a great storyteller and he can spin anything to make himself look good. I have a feeling he has left other jobs under shady circumstances because the stories he has told about his career don’t quite add up, but he’s managed to convince a lot of people that he’s a good guy. If I tell Andy what happened with Deangelo here, it will be my word against his, and Deangelo is a much better storyteller than I am, so he’ll make it look like I’m a weirdo who just has a personal grudge against him (and probably insinuate that it’s because I’m a bad employee).

        1. cmcinnyc*

          My company fired a guy like this, and he ended up working for a company we do a lot of business with, so I feel your pain. My question is: does it matter if he makes you look bad? You’re the client. If you tell Andy that you don’t want Deangelo assigned as your account rep because he used to work for the company, full stop, what is the vendor going to do? Insist? If it’s a small vendor with few choices, you might be stuck, but Deangelo is probably spinning it internally as a win/win. It’s a win for him–he knows how to get around you all already. Which is why you don’t want him! So again, my question: does it matter from a business perspective if Deangelo has everyone believing he’s gold and you are a weirdo? FWIW, I wouldn’t tell the vendor a story *at all.* I’d just say, “Hey I heard this and it would be problematic for us because of his history here, please assign someone else. Thanks.” You don’t owe a vendor a big explanation. And most won’t ask for it.

          1. Semi Famous, Mostly Anonymous*

            This. You should be able to request your account rep, and the vendor most likely will not push back.
            You don’t have to explain your preference (and certainly don’t ever have to answer any of Deangelo’s questions if he asks them). I bet if you asked your HR, they would say that they have Deangelo in the system as “do not rehire” — so why would you let him work on your account?

          2. LJay*

            This this this.

            My vendors are there to serve me.

            If I’m unhappy with their rep, it doesn’t ultimately matter why (as long as it’s not discriminatory). They either give me another rep, or they lose my business.

            I’ve never had to ask to remove one, personally. But I wouldn’t hesitate if I did.

            And especially, having someone who previously worked with us be our main account rep could certainly be considered to be a conflict of interest because they’re intimately familiar with our operation in a way that a normal vendor would not be, and so could do things like inflate pricing right up to underneath our cap, or similar things. And that’s for someone who left on good to neutral terms. A person that left on bad terms would not be allowed on our property, nor allowed to interact with our account in any way, so could not be our main rep. This is a situation we do have with a couple vendors. The relationship with the former employee exists in that our main account rep mentions “Hey Erin says hi,” and nothing more than that.

    3. Yams*

      First off I would ask your main contact if there’s any truth to the rumors, do this out of the office if at all possible since it’s easier to discuss this in private. If it ends up happening just write an email to the guy’s boss, tell him you do not want to work with him and want a new agent assigned to your account. You do not really need to give much background, just word the request politely. If you want to lessen the blow you can spin this as a conflict of interest, but it shouldn’t be necessary. This isn’t really that big a deal and most companies will oblige with no big issues. Just stick to your guns as needed.
      Question, are you in the position to decide on what vendors you use? If so you can always use a subtle threat to take business elsewhere, I mean even if you have no authority so long as they don’t know you can allude to it vaguely. They should get the message.

      1. Anon for this*

        I do have some influence over what vendor to use, but in this case, it’s not likely that we’ll change vendors in the foreseeable future. This vendor is the manufacturer of the specialized equipment we use, and they’re the only vendor that will work on this equipment (Deangelo was involved in the decision to purchase their equipment in the first place years ago, so he brought our account to them in the first place). They know we’re not going to replace the equipment anytime soon, so I think they would see it as an idle threat.

        1. yams*

          Honestly, your best bet is, if you have a good relationship with Andy and his boss, to sit down with them and lay out the whole story. I was in a similar spot earlier this year. A key vendor was about to hire someone from the sales team I cannot stand (I literally went our for drinks to celebrate he quit), but since we have a strong relationship they sat down with me before making an offer and solicited feedback. I laid down the my feedback in neutral terms, explained what I had evidence for and they decided to go with a different candidate.
          I think the key point for you to remember is that you are the customer, and ultimately you are the one who decides who you want to work with. If you write a polite email requesting a change of salesperson, it’s very unlikely that they will say no.
          If Delangelo makes it seem as though you have a grudge against him… that’s actually likely to work on your favor. Vendors are not going to antagonize a key contact with a customer over something that silly specially if there’s someone you’ve worked with for quite a while available.

          1. Yorick*

            Yeah, even if Deangelo is able to make you seem silly, they’re still gonna assign someone else to your account.

          2. yams*

            I just realized I made myself look really petty, so, some background: the guy lost something like 1.2M in business in like six months, so he was both really bad at his job and an insufferable jerk. The fact I didn’t want to work with him was important, but secondary to the following: he lost a lot of business, he hadn’t closed anything good in over a year, he didn’t speak a necessary second language that a lot of our customers work in, and he didn’t really have good relationships to the main contacts in our area.

    4. Kathenus*

      In addition to the suggestions of others, and especially since Deangelo was your former boss with the power dynamic that goes along with it, I think you need to loop your own boss into this situation to get her ideas or approval for steps you’d like to take when dealing with the vendor and Deangelo. Good luck.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      “Due to his previous employment at our company and the intimate knowledge and access he had to our equipment, we would like to request a different rep on our account in order to avoid any conflict of interest. Ideally we would prefer Deangelo have no access to any of our client records if possible. In general, our policy is not to allow former employees who are ineligible for rehire back on the company premises.”

      Many companies will understand the not allowing of former employees back into the operating areas of the company so should be fairly straight forward. They are likely under the impression that his insider knowledge would make the vendor/client relationship easier, so you just need to point out that it wouldn’t. And write that policy ASAP if you don’t already have something like that.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I like that script a lot, especially the subtle “ineligible for rehire” bit at the end. You just casually snuck that in there, lol. Well done.

        1. Anon for this*

          I’m actually not sure whether his file is marked ineligible for rehire. I got the impression that the whole thing was basically swept under the rug when he resigned.

          We do have a policy for who we allow in our facility (it’s a secure area, so anyone entering the property has to be approved in advance). My boss is the one who told me that Deangelo might become our main account rep, and I asked if he would be allowed in the facility given the circumstances of his departure, and my boss didn’t think it would be an issue since Deangelo was never sanctioned for what he did.

          Andy is coming in for a scheduled maintenance visit in a few weeks, so I will try to talk to him while he’s here.

          1. M*

            Skip the “ineligible for rehire” bit, then, but the rest of this script is excellent. If you still want to hint that he may not be approved for access to the secure area (which sounds like it might be an issue here), I’d say something like “I should also give you a heads-up that if you ever need to have Deangelo cover a site visit, we would need at least a few weeks’ notice of that – there may be some policy issues that would prevent us approving his access to the secure area, and I would need to run that up the chain for approval.”

      2. LJay*

        This is pretty much exactly what we would say in situations where this was a concern.

        And especially as they already have an existing rep, the vendor is unlikely to try to force a change after hearing that.

    6. Rose Tyler*

      We had a similar situation, only the person wasn’t bad or sleazy but they hadn’t done a great job when they were with us. We just told the company that we needed to be able to speak freely with our assigned rep about what hadn’t had or worked in the past, without there being any layer of awkwardness, and asked that she not be assigned as a primary or secondary rep. This might be a way to sidestep saying anything about an investigation or that would compromise Deangelo in his current job without cause.

    7. Hillary*

      At my employer this would be a potential conflict of interest – if someone left with a severance package this kind of employment has to be approved. I have one vendor rep who’s a former employee and can’t come to some events because it’s not a good look.

      I’d probably say something bland to Andy about how Deangelo shouldn’t get your account because of the perception of a conflict. Don’t mention anything about not eligible for rehire, or anything that could negatively impact his current employment. If Andy’s good at his job he’ll read between the lines.

  10. Danger Will Robinson?*

    Agh! I need someone’s opinion. Should I take a stressful job with a “tough” boss in order to “grow”?

    I am 27 and solidly in my second non-school, non-internship job. It’s awful. The job is fine itself but our culture is SO toxic. So toxic that the turnover is crazy, and half (6 people total) of my team has been trying to leave for months to years. So I’ve been job hunting too.

    I interviewed for a job I was excited about! And the advertised salary was higher than I make now. And the boss would be a famous person in some areas of my field. Like she’s written award winning books and worked with the Obamas famous.

    Well. The interview threw some red (but honest) flags. I appreciate the honesty, but I’m torn.

    Red flags:
    -Met the famous boss. She described herself as a micromanager and benevolent dictator, but it’s because she needs shit done.
    -boss said that this will be a stressful job. 50 hour weeks at most (I think it’s probably more than that after talking to the person leaving the position.) She said that she expects me to pick up the phone on the weekends and check emails on Sundays.
    -Boss also said that she can’t do with people who cry (apparently she’s made people cry, and she said this pretty nonchalant) and she needs someone confident enough to “fight her.” I was honest with her and said that’s not in my personality, but she said I could grow. Boss is from the chef industry so I know this isn’t…abnormal.
    -Everyone on the direct team looked so tired and stressed. And for the love, this job works directly with kids! Doing fun things! That I’ve done before! I know if you’re running an award winning program there’s high stakes, but usually people are happy when they get to interact with the kids.
    -The boss said “Look, I know this job will be stressful. But after you work with this team, you’ll be able to work any job in America. Especially with my name behind you.”

    I value work/life balance, but I also feel like this is one of those Devil Wears Prada opportunities. Work for a maybe abusive boss but you come out the other side a changed, stronger person with a great resume? Or am I totally wrong about this? I’m afraid this workplace will be toxic but in a different way. Can I secretly commit for two years and then dip out if I feel like I want to die? The good side is that outside this direct team, I hear the department workplace culture is awesome. But I don’t know how much that matters…

      1. Just Another Manic Millie*

        Yes, it does. Unless you’ve been looking for a job where you have to work at least 50 hours Monday through Friday for a micromanager, plus take business calls and email on Saturday and Sunday.

    1. Peaches*

      I think it’s really a personal call at this point. I, too greatly value work/life balance, and definitely would not be able to work for the boss you described. It just depends what is more important to you, I think. Would you rather work there and potentially work anywhere in America? Or, would that potential opportunity not be worth the potential stress? I think think you described it just right as a Devil Wears Prada situation.

      1. Danger Will Robinson?*

        That’s what I’m struggling with :( after talking to her, and friends in my field (who go, “omg?? You get to interview with THE blah blah famous person in our field? You have to take the job!”) it really made it sound like this is the *opportunity of a lifetime* to be doing this early in my career. But also… careers are long right? I feel like even if I decided to prioritize my mental health over a prestigious opportunity, I could one day work my way up to good opportunities with less…stress. I hope. This interview has me convinced that anything prestigious comes with extreme stress though. Maybe not a boss that makes people cry, I hope.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          To what extent do you need sleep, time off, decent treatment and fulfilling work?

          Because these opportunities only pay off if they don’t break you. If you find yourself a year into the job, crying every day on the way in to work, your health shot, on multiple medications to manage the stress, eating terribly and not exercising because you don’t have time, without the energy to apply for other jobs, the potential benefits are going to be less useful.

          Your potential boss has openly admitted that they are terrible to work for, and they don’t care. There will be nothing you can do to change the work situation, and any inability to cope will be blamed on your own weakness.

          Put it this way – can you stay mentally and physically healthy in an abusive relationship? Because that’s what you’re signing up for. There are people who can do this – who can work for someone who berates them, insults them, makes constant demands, expects them to do the impossible and blames them when the fail – and can detach themselves from the abuse and maintain a positive outlook, and then move on to something healthier without scars. But it’s a rare skill.

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Careers are long, and bad habits that you learn in one job throw long shadows. This does not sound like a good match for your preferences:
        1) You are concerned about the ‘crying’ statement
        2) You like work-life balance

        Bullying can leave you with permanent mental scars – I recommend you do not pursue this job.

    2. Charlotte*

      Since it appears you’ve read Devil Wears Pravda, do you think the outcome for that character was a good one?

      1. Danger Will Robinson?*

        Ok I’ll admit I haven’t read the book, but vaguely a long time ago I watched the Meryl Streep movie. I don’t remember the ending… Just the middle part where she works her butt off and gets some connections. But let me go read the wiki for the ending!

        1. Danger Will Robinson?*

          Ok, I went and read the wiki and yikes. She did end up restarting her life it sounds like after being driven off the deep end with Miranda. But whew.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            But to be fair, that was not in her industry. In this case, it’s directly in your industry and it sounds like it’s an excellent opportunity.

            The thing is, you’re young enough to work hard and make the most of the opportunity. And you’re young enough that if it doesn’t work out, and you end up moving on, it won’t hurt your career.

          2. Tib*

            I work for a dragon lady. Our Glassdoor reviews are laughably terrible, and they are all exclusively about her. I love her to bits and pieces. She is not at all easy to work for, and it will be many years before I tell her how fond I am of her (if I ever do), but she is a brilliant genius. Just….such a brilliant genius. I love my job a lot. I love our mission, I quite like the actual work, and my coworkers are absolutely lovely. I knew going in that I have an affinity for dragon ladies, so that was big for me in terms of being okay with it. My favorite professors in undergrad, teachers in high school, my beloved grandmother – all difficult women with exacting standards. I would say, think hard about what kind of personalities you mesh well with, and how good you are at letting things roll off your back. But just because she’s kind of a jerk, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be great.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              I kind of love this. There is something to be said for working with really remarkable, difficult people. I’ve worked with some really difficult characters who were nonetheless talented and they were always the source of my after work stories. I grew so much in trying to figure out how to have the best relationship with them to get the work done and I’m really grateful for those skills now. I work with lovely people now, but it can get a little boring.

              The difference was they were never my direct bosses, so I always had a buffer. Being able to work for a dragon lady takes a special perspective like Tib’s.

              1. Not a cat*

                I too have learned much from working for “difficult-but-genius-famous-in-our-industry” person.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I don’t know your industry or circumstances. If you do decide to do it, set a time limit. Year, 2 years, then you’re out. An end date will help you cope.

      1. Natalien*

        And make sure you’re setting yourself for that end date so you can actually make it happen – save the extra money, make the connections, etc so that when you’re ready to move you don’t find out you’ve trapped yourself.

        1. Danger Will Robinson?*

          This is what I was considering *if* I figure out if I can take the harsh environment. Part of me though thinks that Boss wouldn’t look kindly on me leaving after a year though (surprisingly, her team has pretty good tenure! 4 years to 13 years is the range of folks on her team.) so I would have to mentally commit to two years I think. Sigh.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is reasonable.

        But you have to know yourself. Are you able to pull that plug?

        If I had a dollar for every person I’ve known who was supposed to leave somewhere after X amount of time, I’d be driving a much nicer car.

        1. Kiwiii*

          I’m like this unfortunately, I told myself I’d work retail for 6 months and then start looking in earnest, but it took me 10 months to start looking and 13 to get out. And I’m glad I did get out eventually because I’ve nearly doubled my salary in the twoish years since, but I felt guilty and terrible the whole time.

    4. CatCat*

      OMG, hard pass. This is a recipe for burnout.

      A boss who’s a micromanaging “benevolent” dictator because “she needs shit done”? No, that’s a boss who does not know how to manage effectively and does not trust her employees.

      You have seen people look stressed and tired. You know boundaries between work time and your time will be non-existent. You know the boss is highly egotistical and verbally abusive. Like, damn, I guess +1 for honesty, but I cannot imagine trading one toxic job for another that I’d then be stuck at for a couple years.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. Moving from one toxic job to another is not the best idea unless they’re paying you $100 million a year to do so.

        1. Danger Will Robinson?*

          Yeahhhh. This is a good point. My field doesn’t make much anyways, so that’s 50% the temptation. The job pays super well. And great Health benefits too. In my mind I was thinking in an effort to convince myself, WELL I could just make a nest egg for a year or two with this job. And suffer. But save money.

          1. Gaia*

            SO here is another thing to consider – is this a golden handcuff situation?

            Does it pay so well that it ensures you won’t be able to leave? Is that why their team has decent retention? Because it pays well above market so people adjust to the new pay and can’t/won’t take a paycut to leave the horrible boss?

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      Nope – to all of this.

      – Anyone who describes herself as a micromanager and benevolent dictator is a lunatic with severe boundary issues – you will not ever do anything right in her eyes, which makes me very skeptical that you’d be able to work anywhere in America after working with her because I doubt she’d give you a glowing reference. Additionally, dealing with someone that negative all the time is soul-killing – I had that boss. She was fucking awful. If you’re trying to learn what not to do when you get on the management track, sure, she’s probably a good teacher for that; however, if you’re trying to grow professionally, go somewhere with a manager that lets you figure stuff out on your own and only steps in when you ask for help or collaboration.

      – Working more than 50 hours a week and on weekends is also a flat no. I did 60+ for nearly two years and developed all kinds of chronic illnesses I never had before due to lack of sleep, stress, and a poor diet (when you’re literally at work all day, you don’t have time to prepare good, nutritious meals, so you’re pretty much eating whatever junk/fast food is around).

      – Your potential coworkers are stressed and miserable. That’s never a good sign. Usually when people work for shitty managers, the thing that makes it worth it is the collegial atmosphere among the lower-level staff. If your coworkers are so stressed out and looking to bail, they will not be bringing the positive energy into that office you’d need to counteract the asshole boss.

      Don’t do this. Unless you’re a masochist or are ready to pay out the ass in therapy costs (because you’ll need it after working in this environment), keep looking for something better and sane.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        I think you’d get scarred for life working for this woman. Period. Do not do it. It probably won’t pay off like you hope either.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OP, look at this response here and KNOW for a fact this is where you are going if you take this job.
        Chronic health issues means a person may take a long time IF EVER to get better. OP, there is not enough money in the world to make me forego my future health. No amount of money works for me.

        A competent boss doesn’t not describe themselves the way she does. They just don’t.

    6. MadeleinesAreMoreIsh*

      No, no, no, no, and no. How much growth will there be when this boss has destroyed your confidence by trying to make you cry and stand up to her, when you can’t get any break from work or her voice in your head? When the whole existing team looks demoralised and stressed?

      I’m probably biased but I escaped a combative boss and no work-life balance last year, and I’m not joking, it’s taken a whole year to really be back on an even keel again, having found – for once – a truly great manager. Who also gets shit done – without shouting and making people cry. I would never never go through a similar experience again if I could help it. I still hear my old boss saying “Stupid woman!” in my head at times. I still have nightmares about being back in that job. I’m still jumpy when new manager says my name. Etc etc.

      Plus, will you really be able to work any job in America with her name behind you? Is that not a bit of an over-sell? It sounds like an excuse to be exploitative to me, like “write this for free, you’ll get great exposure.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        How much growth will there be when this boss has destroyed your confidence by trying to make you cry and stand up to her

        Yeah, when she said that she makes people cry to try to get them to fight her or whatever, I was done. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t go to work to fight people. If I wanted to fight people, I would have gone into boxing. This woman is unhinged and shouldn’t be managing anyone.

        1. MadeleinesAreMoreIsh*

          Yes, and it’s not about being a “strong enough” person not to cry. I’m actually quite resilient, but daily demoralisation and abusiveness is going to be tough to deal with whatever your personality. Sometimes you don’t realise all the effects until you are out of the situation, either.

      2. Danger Will Robinson?*

        You (and the rest of the commenters) have a good point.

        I think my mind is blinded by how famous this person is! Like the work she has done in my field and the non profit world is truly amazing. And prior to meeting her, I would’ve never guessed this would be what it’s like working for her. Maybe she was in a terrible mood during my interview.

        I messaged a friend of a friend who has worked for her in the past to get a better sense of what it will be like working for her. But your story of it taking a year to even recover is really making me take pause… I don’t want to be a husk of a person after this. And I think in *some circles* having her name on my resume would be a shoe-in for Jobs. But I think she meant that the environment is stressful and fast paced that I’ll grow a lot and could work any job.

        1. Aggretsuko*

          Don’t do it! Short of her bitch slapping you during the interview, she can’t get more clear that I WILL BE HORRIBLE TO YOU, DEAL WITH IT. That’s not just a bad mood for one hour of interview.

        2. Mama Bear*

          Fame doesn’t make her or the opportunity a good one. She’s been really clear about how her office runs and how she treats people. If that gives you pause, then don’t do it. It’s kind of like the bride or groom who has reservations just before the wedding, gets married anyway because that’s what people expect, and then is miserable for years after. If you don’t think this will work FOR YOU, nevermind what your friends think about her high profile, then it is OK to turn it down. They are not going to be the ones stressed out. This is about you.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yes. Your friends will not be the ones getting cursed out on a regular basis or getting work calls at 3am on a Saturday.

          2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

            +1. Life is short. It’s ok to value yourself and your mental health enough to avoid this lady. If you work for her, she’ll move into your brain and it will be hard to get rid of her even after you quit. Bosses like this become a primary, intimate relationship in your life, whether you want them to or not. Whatever the benefits are to your career, you may be paying for them in years of therapy.

        3. Marissa*

          I don’t want you to feel talked out of this opportunity, but definitely be prepared. If you want to be an olympic athlete, you have to go through hellish, constant training to get there and sacrifice a lot. If you want an amazing career with a high profile person, same idea. Taking it or not, each path has a sacrifice. You really have to ask yourself what you want, and what you’re willing to give up.

        4. Vivianne*

          I did this: I worked for 3 years for a person who was A NAME in my industry. She, too, was proud of how her bullying impacted those under her (in a launch party, she revealed different sets of numbers…how many hours were spent, how many pages we wrote….how many assistants she had during the course of development). Like, proud of it and very, very nonchalant when team members (including me) would break down in tears. Every one of us cried multiple times during the project (and my male boss often sat in the corner, rocking back and forth–not exaggerating). This person was a powerful thinker and very smart, but also very emotionally abusive to those under her. I’d estimate about 15 people left the organization during my 3 years due to her treatment of us (myself included).

          I’m now three organizations removed from that experience and STILL feeling the ramifications. For example, this week I had to participate in a review session of my work with the C-level team and I was terrified to walk into that meeting. For no reason–this set of managers was kind, gracious, and offered smart feedback and insight. Not sure I will ever get over the fear of being ripped to shreds and having my work completely denigrated. It has shaped my responses both externally and internally in a way that feels permanent.

        5. EinJungerLudendorff*

          This was not a bad mood. A bad mood does not cause people to create an imaginary management persona and brag about it in a job interview.

          She told you what she was like, and how she would treat you.
          Believe her.

          And if you take the job, be prepared to run before she damages you too badly.

    7. WKRP*

      You mentioned your current job is toxic, so you’re job hunting. This might be a learning opportunity, but it’s clearly presenting as another toxic environment. So, if you decide to take it, I think you need to do it with your eyes wide open. This may give you the opportunity to learn new things, but it will also likely be demoralizing or degrading or dysfunctional and you’ll likely end up in the same situation you’re in right now.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Exactly. And I have to wonder how much your current toxic job environment has altered you enough for you to consider another, possibly worse, toxic job environment just to be around some fame. Alison regularly notes that staying in a toxic environment will alter your thinking for a long time to come. I think you are thinking with that altered brain.

    8. CM*

      IF you are willing to forget about work/life balance and wholeheartedly devote yourself to this job for at least a year, to learn how to be somebody who fights instead of cries, and handle lots of stress, and all of that sounds a little exciting to you when combined with the opportunity to work with this person, then go for it. If not, don’t do it! I don’t know that it will be abusive, but it sounds like she is very upfront that you will be working all the time and will be at her beck and call while she’s yelling at you and giving you an impossible list of tasks. Some people can thrive in that environment.

    9. Kes*

      Sounds not great. I would consider a few things:
      – how difficult was it to get this opportunity? do you think you could get another better one in a reasonable timeframe if you keep looking? or if it’s awful and you end up needing to leave?
      – would this give you an in to get into a different, better department at the same place?
      – how long have you been at your current job? how bad will it look if you end up needing to leave this job in a much shorter timeframe than you anticipate (you mentioned two years, but if the job is that bad you may end up needing to leave after 6 months or a year)
      – what job do you actually want to get to? do you actually think this will help you get there?
      This definitely sounds like a toxic and awful job with an abusive boss. She openly admits that she makes people cry and that you’ll need to work at whatever hours she wants, and her employees look miserable. If you can get a different, better job, I would do that. If you think it’s worth taking because you’re already miserable and this will actually help you get where you want to be, I would go in aware that you’ll likely be miserable at this job and will need to be prepared to job search for something else, likely within a short timeframe

      1. T. Boone Pickens*

        Good points here. I think you need to a long view approach to this and weigh out the short term negatives of this position versus the potential long term gains. If you think you’ll be able to skip ahead a couple of ladder steps in your career with all the pay bumps and other perks then maybe it’s worth considering although I’d definitely make sure my stay at this company was brief. Another thing is the money part. Are we talking a pay increase of say $40k to $80k or is it something like $100k to $150k? Where I’m going with it is once you get above $75k studies show that your quality of life doesn’t necessarily increase all that much as your basic needs are met (granted those that live in high COL places, $75k isn’t quite high enough). Your lifestyle can change in a startlingly way going from $40k to $80k. Not so much going from $100k to $150k.

        I’m in a similar cross roads to you except I’m mulling over getting my MBA and I’m doing tons of cost/benefit analysis and asking myself all the usual questions…”Do I really want to go 6 figures into debt on this?” “Will this really help me take my career to the next level?”

        Good luck with whatever you decide.

    10. Fiona*

      This job WILL be a nightmare. There’s no “if” here. Honestly, this person has given you kind of a gift by saying up front: “I’m abusive.” Only take this job if your current job is causing you irreparable harm and you are concerned for your mental and physical health if you stay on any longer.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Yeah, I’d do this one only if this job somehow seems at least slightly less abusive than your current abusive job.

    11. LDP*

      Just to add another con to the list, I worked at a company that had a great work culture for every team except mine, and I have to say that made things so much worse. I would be getting bullied by coworkers (I was an underpaid intern even though I had a degree and work experience, so I didn’t feel like I had the agency to say anything or leave without something else lined up) and would be watching other teams go for group lunches and enjoying their time together and it just made me feel so alone. So, unless you’re interested in taking this job to get your foot in the door at this company to move onto a different team, I’d say skip this opportunity.

    12. Marissa*

      You say you value work/life balance. Are you willing to completely (and I mean completely) give that up for the time you’re working there? Because you will have to. And I mean, always on call, called back into work when needed, sleeping under your desk when needed, email sent at 5:00 am on a Sunday better be responded to by 6:00 am on Sunday kind of sacrifice. Your relationships will take a back seat, your hobbies will take a back seat. Getting a full nights sleep likely won’t happen most days of the week. It’s a sacrifice people make to further their careers, but it can also break you. Do you want to blink and you’re 30 and haven’t done anything for yourself personally but are in a stronger position professionally? If so, take it, if not, don’t.

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      As someone who’s notoriously great at dealing with difficult people, don’t do it. If it’s not in your core, if it’s something you have to “learn”, just don’t! It will hurt you mentally and that’s something that is truly difficult to overcome after you’re out of that boiling pot atmosphere.

      She should have left the kitchen behind, being a chef isn’t an excuse for being a forever jerk. My brother is only a jerk inside his kitchen and that’s only in the form of short and snappy conversations. Outside nobody knows. When the kitchen isn’t firing, nobody knows he’s got the ability to be a dick. You’re off the ship, stop acting like a salty grizzled captain.

      1. zora*

        This is a great point.

        I know people who have had those ‘trial by fire’ jobs and have built a career on it. But yeah, when I think about it based on what TMBL says, those people just had it in them. I am not one of those people. I have worked for difficult people and I survived, but it was super hard and took a huge toll on my life.

        I think you know if you are one of those people, and if you’re not, I wouldn’t risk it.

        1. Danger Will Robinson?*

          TMBL and you are on the nose… I’m not that type of person. I am a squishy, soft shell crab of a person. I told her one of my strengths were empathy and being a grounded person that does well with people. But it would take a lot of mental anguish and practice to be the person she wants me to be, and who could stand up to her. Granted, I do want those skills. I’ve been practicing them in a safe environment like therapy. But I just know that I’ll have a rough time becoming that person in less than a year. If that was part of my job, but if I had a supportive boss where I felt comfortable doing so, I think that would be way different.

          Sigh. I think I have an answer.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, sorry :(
            I know it kind of sucks because in certain industries it sounds kind of awesome to be those badass people with that resume after they’ve done those crazy jobs. And part of me wishes I had been able to do it and get what I wanted out of it.

            But there was just no way for me to change the way I am in that way, I also am very empathetic and the problem is I absorb a lot from those around me, so I end up internalizing everything and become an absolute mess. And I am learning to validate to myself that that is okay!! I have other strengths and I can be successful in other ways and they aren’t any less valuable than that other path.

            You’ll find something cool and make a different path for yourself! Don’t think any less of yourself for turning this down, it’s ok if it’s just not right for you.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            The good thing is that you’re really thinking about this. This kind of ability is great and is a skill of its own. Lots of people just leap and don’t think, then at that moment have to figure out how to swim. You’re approaching this cautiously and that’s crucial.

            There are classes about dealing with difficult people/personalities. You can get better but you don’t need to emerge into that toxicity.

            First work on yourself and your confidence. These people eat those without confidence alive. This is why I’m such a scrappy person who will go toe to toe with anyone. I have that “Fight me” mentality but it is born out of necessity in the end, I come from a long line of curmudgeons. You can’t let that soft belly show ever, they’ll go right for your weak spots.

            Anyone who tells you that they make people cry is not just a difficult person, they’re a bad person as well. Difficult I deal with, bad I do not.

    14. Shirley Keeldar*

      It sounds awful to me. But if you feel it’s worth it…be darn sure you check out her claim that you can “work any job in America” after this. Ask to talk to some former employees. Find out if this job truly was a resume booster. (Honestly, I’m very skeptical. And what kind of boss needs to talk up a job by saying how good your NEXT job will be? That’s…not a very good selling point.)

    15. Not A Manager*

      How hard is it to get interviews/offers in your field, though? You say others have been searching for months to years. Your situation could be different for all sorts of reasons, of course, but if you think you will have similar difficulty, you might try comparing where you would be mentally and career-wise if you stayed in your current position for two years while searching, vs. where you would be if you took Hell Job for two years.

    16. Mama Bear*

      If you value work/life balance and she’s expecting 50 hrs minimum and to be on call at all other times, hard pass. I’ve left two jobs with awful managers because spending so much of your life with someone toxic really destroys you. The first one was so bad (also a call you whenever/made people cry manager) I sought therapy and the therapist said I needed to get out of there. There are ways to grow professionally that don’t involve destroying yourself in the process.

      1. Galahad*

        This is the heart of it. BUT! She said she wants a “fighter”. Before you accept / as you accept, you need to be clear about the work time balance.

        “This is a job that will require a lot of energy and focus during the week. I need some downtime in order to stay productive for you. I can work 9 hour days M-F, and can agree to checking messages on Saturday morning, resolving quick or urgent issues before 11am. I will also come in an hour earlier on Monday to prep for the week. Other than that, I will not be answering work email, texts or calls. Does that still work for you?”

        If you get a yes, follow up with email to document it and get a 2 sim card phone, one for work contacts and one for personal life, so you can turn off the work stuff when you are not working.

        Oh, and as for the crying stuff — people can learn this. Just excuse yourself (suddenly) as needed and walk out of the discussion and come back when you are calm. It actually trains you both on how to hold a more effective meeting without emotions… on her part because she learns to be more rational and calm if she wants to have efficient use of her time.

    17. Sharrbe*

      What is the average age of the staff? If they’re mostly young (in their 20’s), its for a reason – they’re easier to take advantage of because they haven’t been in the work world that long. If she routinely makes people cry, it sounds like she’s hiring very young and inexperienced people and pushing them to their limits. There is no reason for this. I wouldn’t touch this job.

      1. Vivianne*

        In my experience with an emotionally toxic leader, we had a wide range of ages and all of us cried at least once in front of others. At my organization, it was the mission that kept people at the organization, mutely accepting the toxicity that was frequently doled out. I was in my 30’s and was embarrassed to find myself crying in a team meeting. My male boss was in his 40’s and could sometimes be found in his office, panicking. We all tried to avoid making eye contact with each other during team meetings, to avoid accidentally pushing another over the edge emotionally or, even worse, having the vitriol turn toward us. I have not cried at work before or since working there.

    18. Dittany*

      Noooooo, don’t do it unless you’re desperate. There are other “good opportunities” that don’t involve working for someone who casually mentions having made MULTIPLE PEOPLE cry.

    19. Lana Kane*

      One thing to consider is that, presumably, you are able to get other jobs in your industry without having her name on your resume. Maybe it would be easier with it. But is it impossible?

    20. Overeducated*

      I wouldn’t do it. I can imagine someone else at a different point in their life wanting to do it, there are definitely people who are willing to work miserable hours and conditions for a few years to move up, so I wouldn’t say it’s a 100% absolute no for everyone. But I think the fact that you are questioning whether it’s worth it, and not just putting on your blinders and saying “it’s gonna be my big break!” enthusiastically, is a sign that it is probably NOT worth it for you either.

    21. Weegie*

      I would run in the opposite direction, quite honestly. It’s quite possible to be an inspirational boss and a decent person; what this boss is asking sounds horrendous, and the fact she’s upfront about it is outrageous.

    22. Parenthetically*

      I know this job will be stressful. But after you work with this team, you’ll be able to work any job in America. Especially with my name behind you.

      Ye gods alive, HARD PASS. This woman is lying through her teeth about AT LEAST two things from what I can tell, and has a terribly over-inflated sense of her own importance. Do you really, genuinely want to work for a grandiose tyrant who turns a job working with kids into a miserable burnout experience?

    23. cmcinnyc*

      There’s a job in my field that opens up every 6 months to 1 year. It’s the job from hell for the person from hell. People who do this job have two standard outcomes: 1) fall apart, leave the field, leave New York, become a beet farmer, or 2) treat the whole miserable thing as an extended job interview *for a different job.” But you need you eye on that next job in a very specific way before you walk in to THIS job on day one, because in no time you will be so overwhelmed and miserable and frantic that you won’t be able to network and job hunt effectively. I’m serious: you line up your next step and get ears to the ground before you even start Hell Job. If you have a really good next step in mind and think this can realistically get you there, do it. If not, how do you feel about beet farming?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Lol, this is a really good idea. If OP can make this work by accepting the job, but continue job searching in the background, she could be out of that place in a year and someplace better. Still, I’d need to be paid to take this gig, famous boss or not.

      2. ampersand*

        I always wonder what these jobs are (or which industry) that are absolutely crushing people’s spirits. This sounds intolerable!

    24. Zennish*

      My thought is that bosses become “famous” for a variety of things, but it’s rarely for mentoring employees. She has already basically told you that you’d be emotionally abused and treated as an indentured servant. If I wanted to grow, I’d find a teacher, not a torturer.

    25. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      So, I worked for a Devil-Wears-Prada type of giant in my industry a few years ago. It wasn’t by choice exactly; I was new at a big company and I established a great reputation quickly, so when her former assistant cried “Uncle” they tapped me. I didn’t see a legitimate way to get out of it… cut to the most stressful 8 months of my life.

      Pros: I got a sizeable hourly wage bump which I was able to use for negotiating earnings at my next job. That’s it. Oh and she gave me random $100 bills for nothing holidays like thanksgiving.

      Cons: Everything else. I never knew when I was going to walk into a minefield at work, she kept everyone in the dark on a need-to-know basis, everything was an emergency because she was so busy she could only ever deal with urgent things, suddenly I was responsible for things around the clock even though it was an hourly job, she was incredibly harsh almost daily about stuff that, truly, was not my fault.

      Additionally, because I left after 8 months, the whole “Miranda will be a stellar reference for me” did not work out. She basically gave me the silent treatment the entire 2 weeks of my notice period.

      My friends and family still talk about that boss and what working for her did to me. I feel bad for having whined to them as much as I clearly did.

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        AND (this is key): if you do a really great job for this type of person, *they will not want you to leave*. You think they’re going to mentor you and send you on your way after a couple years, think again. If you turn out to be the holy grail of assistants or whatever the job title is… best believe she will go to great lengths to avoid training a new person.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          THIS. That’s the other terrible part and explains why OP said her current team has longevity – she probably knows they’re good and is essentially holding them hostage by sabotaging job searches.

    26. Miss Astoria Platenclear*

      Another nope.

      You mentioned that the job involves fun activities with kids. If that’s a passion of yours, I bet you could find a volunteer gig working with children. You might also end up getting some references from the program staff that will have your job search. Good luck.

    27. Danger Will Robinson?*

      Whew, didn’t expect so many comments, but thank you all! I’ve got more to think about but…..I think I’m leaning towards turning this down. Eek. That slightly pains me. I feel like I SHOULD be that go-getter who takes this “amazing” opportunity and sacrifices their personal life to eventually work for big names and do great things.

      But I also love my hobbies and my partner and I get my energy from outside of work :/ I am totally willing to work hard and long hours for the right job and during crunch times, but the famous boss scares me. I just don’t think I’m a live to work person as much as I wish. (or is that a scam of capitalism?)

      To address a couple things if people were curious, I would be the youngest person on the team if I accepted. The tenure of folks on her team is quite long. (However, learned from my current job that even if someone works somewhere for 15 years, they might be miserable for 10 of those but feel stuck!)

      I hope I’m not killing my career by turning this opportunity down. I think in the future, If I found a similar job with about the same stress, but a more supportive boss and happier team, I would not be as hesitant. I’ll keep looking for opportunities!

      1. Deb Morgan*

        Listen, I hear you on wanting to be the kind of person who does the super-awesome career move and takes the hits from their prestigious boss like a champ because of the important work you’re doing. But… you’ll be miserable and won’t ever get this time in your life back. Just because you can do it (and I’m sure you’re more than capable), doesn’t mean you should. This won’t be the only opportunity you’ll ever get to do meaningful work.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        You can get good jobs based on your own merit, you do not need to coattail someone else’s good name. You can stand on your own two feet and be fine.

        The people who have stayed there a while are probably blackballed into staying there. People who are scared to leave, don’t leave. This person scares you for a reason, pay attention. This won’t get better, people are at their best behavior on an interview. What you see now is the best it will ever be.

      3. Sherm*

        You’re definitely not killing a career by turning down a job opportunity! I know it sucks to turn down a job when you just want out of your current place. I turned down a toxic job after job-searching for a geologic era, which kind of pained me to do — but I soon found something much better.

        And really, there’s no job out there that is “all that,” so amazingly special that it can’t be replicated anywhere else. She might believe it, but I don’t.

      4. Warm Weighty Wrists*

        At the risk of telling you what to think–don’t think that! You are not failing by choosing a work/life balance. The thing we forget about the whole “leaning in” thing is that sometimes leaning the hell away is the better choice. Make the best choice you can for your entire life, not just the time you spend selling your labor!
        People can do challenging work well and still be kind. People can grow and work on standing up for themselves while in supportive surroundings. Frankly, it sounds like you’re already learning and growing in that area, so who needs a heaping helping of “benevolent” (side eye) dictator along with it?

      5. Quandong*

        I truly think that your future self will be glad you turned down this job opportunity. And I very much doubt you will find it has a detrimental effect on your career in the long term.

        If you’re recovering from working in a toxic environment, you might not have recalibrated to what it feels like to work in a functional place where you aren’t at risk of developing PTSD. If you go directly into what is obviously an abusive environment, it seems like you might get more accustomed to dysfunction and abuse.

        If you want any extra reassurance that you’re doing the right thing for yourself, check out various writing on ‘sick systems’ by Issendai.

      6. ten-four*

        Heyo, I’m another one who worked for a NAME and on a project that was nationally famous. Then the crash hit and I was SOL. He’s never given me a reference, and that job did zero for me when I was hunting – I wound up in another field all together.

        His sociopath second-in-command also liked to talk about how by berating us constantly he was “breaking us down and building us back up” but SURPRISE no building ever occurred! They ultimately laid me off when I was on maternity leave. It took a year+ of therapy to put myself back together.

        But yeah – those flags were there early. They thought it was 100% fine to scream at employees and fire people for no reason, and that we all just needed to toughen up. The reality was that the big boss was a bright thinker in his field, and had zero idea how to manage people or grow a company. So he let his jerk bestie run roughshod over us all, and between them they drove the company into dissolution in three years.

        Sounds like this job is support staff for the Big Thinker so you won’t have the company shenanigans, but that ALSO means that there’s nowhere to hide. I actually liked that job most of the time because I could fly under the radar and do the work I was there to do. At the job you’re describing she IS the job. She is the whole job. I wouldn’t do it.

        Also: the whole “with MY NAME BEHIND YOU” thing means that she has to like you. What could she do to your career if she decided she didn’t?

      7. Collette*

        About that word “should.” That the is always about other peoples’s expectations and never about your own desires, wants or needs. If you find yourself believing you “should” do something, that’s a cue to take a long, hard look at whose expectations are currently running the show. Doing the things you think you “should” in circumstances like these only leads to heartache.

    28. Mobuy*

      There are a lot of noes here, and they may be right. However…

      I think this sounds like an awesome opportunity. You don’t mention a spouse or kids, so maybe working 50 hour weeks (at most) would be doable. This is not something I could do now, with three elementary-aged kids, so it’s something I kind of wish I could have done at a different point in my life. Work in a fast-paced, stressful environment with an extremely successful professional? That sounds kind of amazing!

      I think, with my personality, this might have been a place I would have thrived for a couple of years. If you decide it’s not for you, that’s totally fine! I just wanted to fight back against the echo chamber a little bit and give you another perspective.

      1. ampersand*

        I appreciate that in the long list of “run away! Don’t do it!” answers, there is one vote for taking the job. I personally would run far away but I know not everyone would!

      2. Kat in VA*

        I’m thinking yep, I’m a brawler (always have been, being a fighter is just in my nature). If I had a potential boss who actively told me that they wanted me to challenge them and FIGHT them…

        Wait, I’ve already got a boss like this. And it’s awesome – for me. Because he can figuratively charge up into my face and I don’t have to act meek and mild and subservient and eat it when I disagree strongly – I can charge right back at him. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose but the challenge is always there.

        And I do work 50-60 hour weeks (not because I’m told to but because I have THAT much work to do). He’ll get in a fit of a micromanaging and I have and will say via text LET ME DO MY JOB, via email BOSS LET ME DO MY JOB AND STAY OUT OF IT, and to his face, “Bossman, will you PLEASE let me do MY JOB.”

        The important part – to me, because I’m highly motivated by money – is if it would significantly increase your salary. I think my main Bossman is great and we have an unconventional but pretty awesome (if exhausting) relationship. That being said, I wouldn’t jump ship from our (somewhat) dysfunctional working relationship to a stated similar one unless there was at least a 25% increase in pay and similar phenomenal benefits.

        Some people like to fight. OP has stated they do not. If you’re not a fighter, you can learn to become one, but it won’t feel natural to you and ultimately, it will wear you out.

        Much as I’d love to say YEAH BRING IT ON for the OP, I think this one should be a pass.

    29. ArtK*

      THe “This will suck but it’s a great stepping stone” argument from an admittedly toxic boss should be ignored. Unless you have evidence that this experience will let you “… work any job in America,” take it as her being desperate to fill a position and trying to sell you.

    30. Frankie*

      Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun.

      This type of work environment burns out even the diehards who WANT to work 24/7. It’s because the target is always moving and no matter how hard you work or how many hours, it will NEVER be enough.

      The fact that she’s telling you all of this directly is a gift. Believe her and run away.

    31. Me*

      I worked for a toxic boss for 2 years that looks like a saint compared to what you’re talking about.

      It was awful. I’m in therapy and on medication in large part to the shizz I had to deal with.

      You only get one go round in life and your career won’t be etched on your tombstone.

      If you are impressive enough that they want you, I’m sure you are impressive enough for other opportunities that won’t eat at your soul.

    32. Quinalla*

      Well, at least it sounds like she’s being upfront about the situation. I personally would pass on this opportunity, but it might be something I would have gone for if it looked better than my current situation when I was younger without kids. Right now, I’m strictly 40-45 hours and no more except in extreme circumstances, 50 regularly for me would be burnout territory, no thanks! But I do think you need to weigh it against your crappy job now and yes, if you decide to go for it, have an exit strategy ready for when you get to that 2 year mark.

    33. MissDisplaced*

      HooBoy, I wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole! But I’m also no longer young and hungry.

      At least you’re looking at it with eyes wide open. Because it will be toxic and probably bad, and she’ll be a crackpot neurotic nightmare. HOWEVER, if this line of work is something you really, really want, and you have a thick skin, then go for it!

    34. Gaia*

      No, no, no, no.

      A manager who only knows how to get results by being a micromanager and a “benevolent” dictator (as if that is a real thing!) is a TERRIBLE manager who will inevitably get subpar results.

      Good managers get results by hiring the right people, ensuring they have the right resources, and empowering them to do the job by setting proper expectations and letting them succeed. This person is NOT a good manager and it will be a nightmare.

    35. Nesprin*

      Yes maybe, for exactly 2 years while in my 20s. That’s peak working-60-hrs-per-wk-to-do-something-better-next time, and you’ll learn a ton, either in your discipline, or about working with terrible people.
      Sock away as much money as possible, work your hash off and ensure that you keep exercise, human interaction, and eating routines if nothing else.

    36. Formerly Arlington*

      I don’t know, you just kind of what I would describe as “working in corporate marketing anywhere.” If it feels wrong to you, though, don’t take the job. I haven’t worked anywhere where I didn’t check in at least on my weekend emails and 50 hours is…well, it’s not 80 or 90. The crying part was weird because who mentions crying in an interview? But perhaps she just wants you understand she is direct. I may just be unlucky or attracted to unhealthy urgency, but I’m not reading this the way others here are!

      1. Chiron*

        Don’t do it. I’d hope that their idea of fighting at work is getting into debates, not a yes man type, being honest. but i doubt it, they probably mean they like to beat you to a pulp and just stand or sit there watching you in said pulp.

        As for famous? You met the famous person and talked/spoke to them for about an hour or more, right? So you got your brush with fame that you can talk to your friends about, and probably all the “mentoring” you’d ever get from them. I dont know how a dictator is running a kids school/nonprofit/whatever but if they cant manage well they resort to these tactics. You’d think they’d work on their management skills instead? or anger issues? I’m angry at life too but i dont take it out on everyone around me/employees.

        As for future job opps? um, people will probably doubt your thought process at working for someone like that, who knows maybe other people do know how she is but they didn’t tell you. Maybe those other employees can’t find another job after working for her and that’s why they’re still there, or she won’t let them go/trashes every job opportunity. I kind of wonder if this boss also doesn’t have the guts to just say no to you so they’re being just soooo honest about how awful they are so you’ll say no to them. Sounds like bad breakup guy to me. Don’t bother. Either find another job in that field or find another field. This boss is just not worth it at.all.ever.

  11. Sydney Ellen Wade*

    I’ve worked in a hospital as an AA for several years. I was promoted a few months ago to EA, after turning down my manager Leo’s offer to take over for him when he retires in a year. At my quarterly meeting with my new manager, AJ, he said he could tell I wasn’t happy as an EA and repeated the offer to take over for Leo. However, AJ would be taking over Leo’s managerial duties, so it would be a lateral move and would not result in a raise. AJ couldn’t offer a definitive timeline, as Leo hasn’t given a date for when he’ll retire, but AJ thinks 1.5 years.

    I’m disappointed, as Leo’s full role would have been a challenge, whereas the new role will be more stimulating than my current job but not challenging. It also limits my opportunity for growth in the department. I told AJ that I’d be more than happy to help him with other tasks in the meantime but he seems to be a micromanager who likes to be in control.

    I don’t know if I want to stay on as an EA for 1.5 years. I really like my department but can’t see myself progressing further than I am now, unless I go back to school for a post-graduate degree. Any advice on how to proceed?

    1. Kes*

      I mean, it doesn’t sound like you have a good handle on what you actually want to do – you turned down Leo’s job and took an EA role, but you don’t like the EA role and are now disappointed you can’t take on Leo’s full job. You want to move up, but as seen with the EA role just trying to get to a higher role possible won’t always make you happy. I would take a step back and think about what you actually do and do not like in your job, and then from there think about what kind of role you would actually like and how you can get there, either where you are or elsewhere.

    2. Bluesboy*

      I’m a little confused. You turned down the offer to take over from Leo, but you are disappointed that the offer AJ made you is only half of Leo’s job because you think the full job would have been a challenge?

      If I’ve understood correctly, you really like the department you are in, feel ready for a new challenge, but don’t see yourself finding that where you are now. Fair assessment?

      From your post, it seems to me that you might not have been clear enough with AJ. You say ‘I’d be more than happy to help him with other tasks…’ but that sounds to me like ‘I am a team player and happy to help’. Nothing wrong with that, but when I managed a staff I would have said “How nice! But don’t worry, everything is under control.”

      If though you had come to me and said “I want to grow and am looking for projects and other tasks that would give me the opportunity to do so” I would have been more likely to try and find you those opportunities – I WANT my staff to feel fulfilled. It’s a different approach to the conversation with your manager.

      It looks overall though like you need to start looking externally. You aren’t sure if you want to do this job for 1.5 years, and a job hunt takes a while. You have no guarantee of anything in a year and a half anyway as Leo hasn’t given a date. Even when Leo retires you would be looking (maybe) to get a job that you describe as ‘not challenging’.

      It’s tough to make a call like this when you really like where you work but long-term don’t see the job you want to do there. Whatever you choose, good luck!

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        Sorry I didn’t make things clear. I originally turned down the offer when Leo made it because I had applied for the EA position. Since I’m feeling unfulfilled in the EA position, I would have taken the offer when AJ made it, because it would have been a challenge. You are correct when you sum up “you really like the department you are in, feel ready for a new challenge, but don’t see yourself finding that where you are now.”

        Thank you for the advice!

  12. Great Beyond*

    I want to leave my job that I’ve been at for a few months because the hours are too much. They mentioned overtime, but I didn’t expect it to be like this. In interviews with prospective employers or on job applications, can I say that I want a better work/life balance as my reason for leaving? Or does that sound too negative?

    1. rayray*

      I don’t think it’s negative at all, and there are actually a lot of companies these days that encourage work life balance for their employees. I’m almost certain Alison has given some example scripts of what to say in this exact situation too.

    2. new kid*

      I think it helps to be specific when using a generic phrase like that. So for example, “I’ve consistently been working 60-70 hour weeks at my current job, so I’m looking for a better work life balance.”

      Otherwise, you run the risk of the person sitting across the table having a different interpretation of that phrase than you do. But if you state it factually like that I wouldn’t worry about coming across as negative. A reasonable person/company will understand where you’re coming from.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And this specific wording is great because if you do end up interviewing at places with those kinds of hours, they’ll tell you and either allow you to self-select out, or they just won’t extend an offer to you, both outcomes of which are good for you in the long run.

      2. Natalie*

        Especially when you’re leaving in a short time, being specific really helps to underscore that you didn’t make this decision lightly.

        1. Kes*

          Well, and it lets them judge for themselves that you aren’t being unreasonable, as well as making you sound more objective.

    3. Summertime*

      You can also say that the job was misrepresented while you were interviewing. “I was told during the interview stage of my current job that it would require some overtime during the busy season, but the reality is that I have consistently worked X+ hours/week with indication of a let-up. I am willing to hunker down during crunch time, but I’d like to find a job where work/life balance is more valued.”

      Good luck!

      1. Alli*

        This! I think that it is important to state that this isn’t what was represented to you during the interview. This way, they view it as just a job that ended up not being the best match, instead of a question of your judgment about being able to take on this much work.

    4. MousePrincess*

      I agree with those who say to be specific. They’ll need to know you’re not someone who balks at being asked to work an extra few hours here and there.

    5. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      The only thing I have to add to these comments is that while right now, you might feel desperate to find a new job, know that mentioning something like this will actually sort out which employers are interested in supporting your work/life balance and which ones are envisioning a position with more work hours, like your current job. And that is a GOOD THING, because you absolutely don’t want to end up in another position with too many hours!

    6. Andream*

      If it comes up in interviews just mention that the hours were not working for you at the other job. Then give specifics such as I thought I was going to be working from 40 hours with occasionally working X amount of overtime but it actually ended up working Z amount more often.

      I know you didn’t ask this but have you considered that this isn’t normal?
      I would check with others at your current job that have been there a few years and ask if this is normal. It may be that something has happened that has caused a lot more overtime for some reason. For example, a family member works tech support for an atomic clock company. After next week when the time changes the call volume doubles, sometimes triples. It’s a small company and last year there were a few people out, ( death in the family, health issues, other unexpected absence) and it really affected the call volume and overtime.

      If you really like your job, and it’s just your hours maybe this will change. Check with others or even your boss and find out about this. Especially since you are new you could frame it as ” When I was hired I thought that we would only be working x hours with z amount of overtime. But we are actually working Y hours. Can you tell me if this is typical?” You could also say “I am really getting burned out. How long is this projected to continue. I am finding that I am getting burned out.”

    7. ArtK*

      Some employers will take that as a negative. Which is actually a very good thing! If they think that work-life balance is a problem for them, you don’t want to work for them in the first place.

  13. Leslie Knope*

    I started a new job in April at a mid-sized nonprofit in a new city. I like my boss and really don’t mind most of the work I do (sometimes I even enjoy it!). Unfortunately, a big part of my job involves working with our board of directors, and they have turned out to be a very demanding and exhausting group of people! I have worked with boards and difficult people before, but this particular board is like nothing I have ever experienced. I feel like I have to constantly watch my back with them, they are incredibly critical and negative, and they keep piling on more work for me to do. They have 6 meetings a month (yes, 6!!!) and the prep work and follow up work involved is often very tedious and time consuming. Every time I get a phone call or e-mail from one of our board members, I instantly feel anxious and I always dread any communication with them, which sucks because I’m their main point of contact.

    My boss has tried to help, but it’s been six months and if anything, things have gotten worse instead of better. The board has also affected my boss in that she is incredibly burned out and is now only in the office when she absolutely has to be here. It’s hard for me to feel motivated when my boss is so absent and disengaged. 

    I have started looking for a new job, but I’m not sure how to explain my reason for jumping ship so early. Is it sufficient to say it isn’t a good fit? I’m a little worried because I was laid off from my previous job after only six months, so my recent job history is looking a little choppy. I don’t want to remove this job or my previous job from my resume because I think both places have given me valuable experience. My work history from before I was laid off is more consistent (3.5-4 years at two other companies).

    Thanks in advance!

    1. relatively recent hire*

      I think you can try to say it was a bad fit, but in my experience during interviews leaving a non-profit after 6 months people wanted a little more information. Were the 6 meetings/month in the job description when you took it? If not I’d definitely highlight that as something that’s an unexpected amount of work.

      I’m not saying you should tell your boss you’re looking but if she’s already burnt out and knows the situation and you have been honest with her, being able to say she’s willing to give you a reference would be a bonus while looking too (so it doesn’t look like you’re burning bridges). Also, consider joining a non-profit networking group in your new city or reach out to your contacts there if you have them- if you have someone at a place that’s willing to vouch for you then that can help combat what looks like job-hopping. Sometimes non-profits know which ones are having issues, too, so even if you don’t say anything they may know what’s up. Good luck!

      1. Leslie Knope*

        Thanks for your input! I did not find out about the 6 meetings per month until after I took the job. In hindsight I should have asked, but I foolishly assumed it wouldn’t be a problem. I think you’re right about explaining the workload is greater than I had anticipated (which is 100% the truth!).

        As much as I like my boss, I don’t feel comfortable telling her I am job searching. I have seen her take things very personally from the board and she gets pretty upset when she feels slighted. In 99% of cases this is warranted, but I really don’t know how she would react if she knew I was trying to get out. I’m also trying to leave the nonprofit world and jump into a different industry (tech or finance), which is also somewhat challenging!

        Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

        1. zora*

          I would say something more like “the workload is unbalanced between board support and program work (or whatever else you are supposed to be doing)” I am happy working with a board, but I am looking for a position where I can spend more of my time doing XYZ work, and not full-time board support.”

          6 meetings a month is legitimately insane. It makes no sense to have staff and board spending so much time just organizing meetings, meetings don’t bring in money or other resources, who is doing the actual work toward the mission?? This is a dysfunctional organization, and I think just saying ‘the workload is high’ is too vague.

          For additional thoughts, see the thread just above yours by Great Beyond. The comments about making sure you are being specific about what you mean by “work/life balance” I think apply to yours about workload as well.

        2. relatively recent hire*

          Well, if you’re looking to leave the nonprofit world that might actually make the explanation easier- you can just focus the conversation on the fact that you’ve appreciated learning xyz things from working in nonprofits but are looking for abc things in your future career which you think you’ll find more readily in tech/finance. If you focus on your excitement/interest in the new sector that will definitely help! And I agree with what zora said on how to describe the workload.

        3. Ama*

          6 board meetings a month is so far beyond the realm of normal in the nonprofit sector that I don’t think anyone would fault you for not thinking to ask. (Like if someone said they had an active board I would think at MOST monthly meetings — our board is pretty active and getting quarterly meetings out of them is difficult).

    2. April Ludgate*

      I was in this exact situation, left a job after 6 months due to bad fit. I was honest about it in interviews and made sure to ask questions to ensure the same situation wouldn’t happen again. A few of my interviewers shared with me that they had similar situations in their past. It happens!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The job turned out to be some thing other than what was described to me on the interview.

  14. FaintlyMacabre*

    How do you know whether or not to tell your boss you’re applying for a job in another department? I’ve been at this job for about 8 months. I work in a different city than my department’s headquarters, but in the same city as the department i would be applying to, which removes the need to sneak around. I already know that my co-workers are pretty loose lipped- there is no one I feel comfortable going to for advice. On the other hand, people do switch jobs with some frequency, which makes me feel like it wouldn’t be a big deal? And on the other other hand, I tend towards privacy and feel like it’s nobodies beeswax but my own, but that may not be a great impulse to indulge…. Help?

    1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

      I once applied for a transfer after 8 months. My boss had to sign a form consenting to my request, so I had to tell her, but she was supportive. If your boss has been an advocate for you in the past, I would tell them. Don’t worry about nosy co-workers; they’re everywhere. ;)

    2. Bonita*

      Every company I’ve ever worked for has had a policy about internal job applications that says when in the process your current manager needs to be informed. I would start by finding out if your employer has a policy about this. Sometimes these policies also have a minimum amount of time that you have to be in your current position. If your employer doesn’t have a policy about this, I would tried to talk with a coworker who has changed jobs internally to find out about their experience. 

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup, same. Almost every company I’ve worked for required you speak to your manager about an internal transfer before you put in the request and submit your application materials.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Hit submit too soon. Most of these companies also said you had to be in your original position for at least a year and in good standing (so no PIPs or performance issues of any kind) before you could transfer unless your manager and the hiring manager for the new position mutually agreed that you should move into the new role.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            All of my employers have the same requirements – 1 yr in position, no PIPs, managers must be informed at a certain point in the process. Managers at my previous company had the ability to block internal transfers IF they could make a business case why that person needs to stay in that position. It was rarely used because people would usually leave after being denied the opportunity to move – I did but my move was blocked by the VP not my actual boss.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yeah, all of the companies I worked for gave managers the right to block transfers too. When I worked at EvilLaw Firm, I was blocked by manager almost three times. I took her into a meeting with the main HR rep and told them I’d be quitting once I found something that paid better, and about a month or so later, I was transferred to another department and given a new title. Then I quit seven months later anyway, lol.

      2. Lyudie*

        Same here. In some companies, a manager can block a transfer to another organization (this happened to my husband once). A good manager though will encourage you to do the right thing for your career, even if it means moving out of the their department.

    3. Mindy St Claire*

      If you don’t tell yours boss, someone on the hiring committee will! And then it will look like you were hiding something. Also, have you checked your employee handbook? At my office, it is company policy that you have to disclose internal job applications to your boss.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      I’ve had two experiences with it in the same organization. For one, I had a manager who was furious over her department’s high turnover rate and was pretty brutal to anyone who was leaving, so my new manager told my soon-to-be-old manager about it after I accepted the offer. For the second, my old manager noted the opening came up and knew it aligned with my strengths and interests, so she suggested that I might like applying.

  15. Deb Morgan*

    Volunteer coordinators: how often do you reach out to your volunteer base? I’m trying to find the right balance between “I never hear from you” and “Stop spamming me with emails”.

    1. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Highly dependent on the tasks or events the volunteers are needed for. For long-term, ongoing work performed by a pool of volunteers (example: coverage for a social services intake phone line), I’ve liked to check in weekly with a very, very brief e-mail. I would thank them for their work and give them one or two super quick updates about their work and/or the organization’s activities and upcoming events.

      For an event, once a week or more in the month leading up to the event, daily or twice daily the week of the event, and morning plus evening on the day(s) of the event. Then an over-the-top enthusiastic thank-you afterward (with a note saying that the e-mails will quit now unless they want to opt-in to some other regular e-mail list from the organization).

      I gotta say, when I’ve been a volunteer for events, I feel a little under-appreciated if I don’t get a thank-you afterward. For longer-term commitments, I like to feel checked in on; weekly may be too much for some people, but if you go more than monthly I think you risk a higher attrition rate.

    2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I think it really depends on how you’re utilizing your volunteers! When I did social media management at a nonprofit, the goal was to make 2-3 posts a week aside from emergency ones (like weather closures.) When we had volunteers that were doing an event, we’d do a few big solicitations and then keep reminding and updating people periodically before the event, making sure everyone had their schedule and had confirmed their volunteer hours.

      When I used volunteers as staff, they got emailed 4-5 times a week like the rest of my staff. Which I thought was a lot, and a lot of them also thought it was a lot, but I had no other way to contact them with updates, since I had a 40 hour a week position and we were open 110 hours a week.

    3. Mo*

      Like everyone else said, it probably depends. As part of my role, I recruit volunteers on behalf of other departments and their events/programming, so I send out a monthly newsletter with all of the upcoming opportunities. (We also include a fun giveaway in it.) It gets over 50% open rate, which is really good. I think a lot of volunteers just wait for the newsletter to see what they would be interested in volunteering for that month, so for us, it works really well.

    4. ArtK*

      When you get a few of both responses, you’re in the sweet spot. The amount of contact desired varies by individual and you’ll never please everyone. So don’t try.

      1. Earthwalker*

        The coordinators I volunteer with have been trying to send out seasonal request calendars with links, showing all the events going on in October through December with links to click to sign up for each one. Then they send reminders a day ahead of the event for those who forgot they signed on two months ago. It doesn’t work perfectly. Sometimes they need to cancel at the last minute because of weather and sometimes they need to call an emergency extra day. Occasionally they’ll add an extra plea for more people to work Saturday because signups ahead of time were thin. But it seems to work pretty well for those who never want to miss an opportunity to go and the once-a-year folks. In general our coordinators get the volunteers they need and no-shows are rather rare.

    5. nat*

      I am not a volunteer coordinator but I’m a regular volunteer for an organization. I like getting a monthly update specifically geared toward volunteers, perhaps in a “newsletter” like format…helps me feel like I am still involved even if I haven’t been on site very recently. I would also be fine with weekly, it’s just helpful for it to have specific, consistent “newsletter” like headline.

  16. moql*

    Is it reasonable to ask my employer to call my emergency contact if I’m more than an hour late?

    My husband travels a lot for work. I slipped in the shower recently and realized that it would have been 3 days until someone found me. I am always on time for work and if I’m sick or there is traffic (2-3x a year) I let my manager and our receptionist know so they can field my calls. There is no situation where I could end up more than an hour late with no contact and something hasn’t gone very wrong. I would really appreciate someone calling my husband if this is the case, but I realize that this is asking for a lot of personal involvement for my employer.

    1. CTT*

      I live alone so I think about this A LOT. I think formally asking your employer to do it is a bit much, but if you’re always on time and good about calling in when you’re out, then I think they would notice if you unexpectedly didn’t call in and act appropriately if they couldn’t get in touch with you.

      1. CheeryO*

        I agree with this. Also, if you have a particularly close buddy at work, you could ask them. I wouldn’t hesitate to do that for a friend.

        1. KR*

          This! I wouldn’t ask your HR/manager to do it as they might have a specific emergency contact procedure but whoever you are closest to at work would probably be willing to.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I wouldn’t put this on your employer. If you’re really, truly worried, consider getting one of those buttons you can push if you need help. Life Alert is the name I know, but I’m sure that’s not the only one.

        1. valentine*

          Who’s the traveling husband going to call and do they have a key? A single crying wolf of “Overslept because I got up before the alarm, shut it off to shut it up because I needed the phone on, and forgot to turn it on again” a mix-up about PTO, or a false-alarm call to paramedics, and the employer will be slow to make the call or end the agreement.

        2. I'm A Little Teapot*

          You do, after you regain consciousness. And if your injuries are so severe that you don’t regain consciousness, your chances even if someone does get help probably aren’t amazing.

        3. Clarissa*

          Some of those devices can sense if you fell down and they call 911. So that would take care of being unconscious.

    3. rayray*

      Do you have any neighbors/friends /family members you can ask to check in on you while your husband is away? I agree with CTT that your employer would probably notice if you weren’t there and try calling anyway. I would suggest setting up with a family member to call or send a text in the morning, and if you haven’t responded within an hour, then they call your husband.

    4. MechanicalPencil*

      I don’t know that I expect HR to reach out to my emergency contact, but I know my team members worry if something abnormal occurs. Like I recently went through some nasty weather and a coworker messaged me obscenely early wondering if I made it through ok. Other times when I’ve taken a sick day, I’ve gotten similar messages. Obviously ymmv, but it sort of depends a bit on how your department/team works I guess.

      1. Sharrbe*

        Agree. you can ask Alexa. As far as I know, they can’t call 911 for you, but they can call someone in your contacts.

        1. CupcakeCounter*

          This was going to be my suggestion – we have 3 now including one in our bedroom just in case.
          Won’t work if I’m unconscious or anything but one of them is usually within yelling distance just in case.

    5. Tortally HareBrained*

      Is there someone that sits near you at work but maybe isn’t your manager you could have this conversation with? I think having a trusted co-worker go to a boss and say “moql is always on time and hasn’t checked in today, do you think we could call someone?”

    6. LurkerVA*

      I’ve told a close coworker that if I ever don’t show up for work without calling/emailing, something’s wrong and please check on me. She knows I will do the same for her.

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Same; because everyone saying “Your company will notice.” Yeah… so one day one of our co-workers didn’t show up all day. No one tried to reach out or anything. Ultimately the co-worker had a major emergency and had been taken care of; but it freaked me out that the office hadn’t even tried to call them to find out why they were a no-show. I told a co-worker that if I didn’t show up or let them now, to please call the police to do a welfare check.

        (And yes, yes, yes, I know some very vocal people get all in a tizzy as soon as the words police/welfare check is said because sometimes it goes VERY wrong, but the truth is the majority of welfare checks are fine and not that its anyone’s business *why* but I have my reasons as to why I’d rather have the police called).

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I think if it’s your choice it’s fine – you’ve asked for the welfare check. This is why it would make sense to tell them specifically, because depending on where you live and a host of other factors, it could indeed go very wrong. I wouldn’t have a problem calling in a welfare check if someone had specifically asked me for one if they don’t show up to work.

    7. Susan K*

      One of my coworkers announced, shortly after he started the job, that if he ever doesn’t show up to work (without calling), to call his wife because he’s probably been in an accident on the way to work. I thought it was a little weird at the time, but I remember he made that request. He’s actually divorced from her now, so I’m not sure if he’d still want us calling her.

      When anybody is late to work, though, people usually start asking if the person called in sick or if anyone has heard from the person. There have been a few times when people just overslept, and since no one had heard from them, someone called and woke them up. I assume someone would have called their emergency contact (or the police) if they couldn’t reach the person. So, I wouldn’t worry that nobody would check on you if you didn’t show up for work.

    8. NotAPirate*

      There’s a bunch of phone apps designed for check-ins. If you don’t hit the button saying you made it home it texts the person you set up saying you’re late or whatever message you program in. My coworker uses one with his wife, he hits a button when he starts walking home, 30 min walk, at the 45 min mark it notifies his wife if he doesn’t turn it off. There’s also some designed for seniors with like a daily check in.

      1. Admin of Sys*

        ooh, that’s good to know! I live by myself and have been dealing with a broken foot the last few months. I’ve been making sure the phone is in reach no matter where I am, but an app like that would take some of the concern of falling off my mind.

      2. moql*

        Oh, that seems perfect, thank you! I know my coworkers would notice and worry, but I also think they’d be too polite to reach out immediately. An app for my husband is a great idea!

    9. DJ*

      I live alone and I’ve thought about this too. I agree with CTT that asking the employer to do so formally is too much (plus, realistically they either will or won’t notice, and if they do notice and are worried, they’ll react accordingly). Instead, is there someone at work that you’re friendly with that you could ask this of informally? Like a coworker you’re somewhat close to? Otherwise, a friend outside of work who you could check in with while your husband is traveling might help put your mind at ease.

      Also, what helps put my mind at ease while living alone is that I try to make sure I keep my phone within reach when I’m at home (I even keep it next to the tub while I’m showering), just in case something happens. I’m only 31 so it’s not something I really thought of until I majorly sprained my ankle when I tripped off my back patio and literally couldn’t get up for a good 5 minutes.

    10. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You could chat with your supervisor about the policy for no call/no show. Find out when they would normally reach out to find an employee who hadn’t shown up, and what they do if they don’t reach the employee.
      Then, if the standard procedure is something not quite as reassuring as you hope, you could mention that you have this fear that you could be in a situation where no one would know you were in trouble, and that you would be much more comfortable if you and/or your spouse were called earlier than later, if you’re unaccountably absent. And if your supervisor doesn’t want to take that on, try a coworker who would normally see you first thing.

      At our office we have a process of calling for NC/NS employees pretty quickly, and to reach out to a regularly updated emergency contact list if the employee doesn’t respond. (We are very sensitive to this, as one of my co-workers passed away at home while his family was out of town.)

    11. Words & birds*

      I didn’t see that anyone’s mentioned this yet, but Apple Watches have a “hard fall” alert that calls 911 and I believe your emergency contact as well when it detects a wearer has fallen. I don’t have personal experience with this, but a friend who fell while wearing an Apple Watch reported that the feature works as described. There’s much more info available online; just google Apple Watch hard fall.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      My husband traveled also.

      I decided to be a little more careful about things when he was not at home. So for the shower example, I would use the built in rails getting in and out of the tub or I would take a bath instead of a shower. I made sure I had a mat to step out on that would not slide across the floor on me.

      I also changed a few things I did while cooking and I was more careful with letting the dog out. I went through most of my regular activities to see where I could exercise some caution.

      You may have a neighbor who would be happy to be your ICE person if you would do the same for her. Otherwise there’s family if you have any close by.

      I have usually chosen one trustworthy cohort and asked them to question it if I do not show up on time and there is no call from me.

      Odd things can work with neighbors such as turning on and off a specific light in the house. For me, I had a neighbor make sure that she saw my dog outside. If she went all day without seeing my dog she would call me.

    13. Rebecca*

      I lived alone for a long time and worried about this. I didn’t have a good enough relationship with my boss – it occurred to me that there would be times I didn’t want him looking for me! – but I had a deal with a close colleague who would be the first to notice if I didn’t get in. I left a key to my apartment in my classroom and told her I’d never show up without texting her unless something was wrong. It covered me if I was unconscious or if I had locked myself on my balcony on the 22nd floor (an ongoing fear for me).

      You should definitely have someone who knows to come looking for you, but I don’t know if it needs to be official.

    14. Sarah-tonin*

      there’s an….. it’s not an app. but you set up this thing where you text a number your trip duration (eg 45 minutes) and then when it reaches that time, it’ll ask you to check in, either by typing ok or with a password you set up. it’s called kitestring (kitestring.io) and you get a certain amount of trips for free, and then after that it’s like $3/month. I’ve only used the free version but I might try the paid one, cause $3/month is nothing if it’s a good app. I think with the paid version you can have it check in with you from time to time too!

      I don’t know that I’d put this on my employer. but I know my boss would text/call us if we didn’t show up (or let him know we’ll be late). I don’t know at what point he’d check in, but I’m thinking 15 minutes minimum? but I work at a small library and my lack of presence would be noticed. it’s different in giant offices, I’m sure.

      1. Sarah-tonin*

        and then if you don’t check in, it’ll alert your emergency contacts! the free version gives you one, the paid is unlimited.

    15. AutumnalHaze*

      Yes I think this is not appropriate to request. To be honest, I’m not sure why it would be three days before you were found? It sounds like your partner is *accessible* to communications and so if you are concerned about safety, why don’t you set up a check in with them at pre determined intervals? It’s fine if you don’t communicate to your partner for three days at a time (I don’t!) but sounds like that’s a *choice* not something you can’t get around (as they are reachable in an emergency?) You don’t have to do anything other than send an “I’m alive” to them … I would be unhappy if my workplace called my emergency contact (my *mom*, and I’m 48) if I’m an hour late. She’d be terrified, I’d be stuck in traffic or getting an oil change or at an off site meeting.

      I get it, though partnered I live alone and I make some choices like climbing on chairs with wheels etc. I wouldn’t be found for three days either. when doing really dumb or
      dangerous things preplanned I tell someone. Same with having someone I don’t know at the house. Usually my partner, but my neighbor or friend works too. If they don’t get an “I’m alive!” by a certain time, they know to investigate.

    16. Seeking Second Childhood*

      My mother and her next door neighbor developed a habit so they could watch out for each other. Every night they’d pull down the shades on specific windows. Every morning they’d pull them up. If it was 10am and a shade was still down, the other would call and check. (Only incident I know of, the neighbor insisted on taking mom to her doctor after she’d been “too sick too long” .. it turned out mom had pneumonia. At her age, the neighbor probably saved her life.)

    17. kittymom*

      can you setup a checkin system between yourself and your husband?

      my boyfriend and i text pretty much all thru the day. if he didnt hear from me by noon then he would know something was not normal.

  17. Eric*

    I feel weird complaining about recruiters when so many people don’t have good jobs, but I’m getting really annoyed with some stuff I’m dealing with lately from them.

    I’m a data scientist in NYC, so I get tons of recruiter contacts. That’s fine. I’m genuinely very, very happy where I work now, so I usually respond with a “thanks but I have no intention of changing jobs any time in the foreseeable future,” or “I know this person who’s looking, can I connect you two?” and that’s that.

    But lately the “thanks, but I really have no interest in switching jobs” response is getting ignored. Yesterday I had an agency recruiter call me up over and over again after I emailed him back to tell him I’m not looking.

    And lately I’ve had a lot of internal recruiters for startups straight up ignore it when I send them back a “I have zero intention of changing jobs any time soon. Best of luck to you!” note. Usually they’ll respond to their original email with some “hey Eric, just bumping this to the top of your inbox. I know you’re very busy, but you absolutely do not want to miss out on Hooli, we’re looking at a multibillion dollar valuation within the next five years! Are you awesome enough to work for us?” but once I got that as a direct reply to my “thanks but I’m very happy here and not looking to change jobs for at least 3 years” email.

    I don’t get it. If I’ve made it completely clear that I am not willing to change jobs, why keep bothering me?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      It’s kind of like robocalls, if you answer your phone then they know you are alive. You need to completely ignore the initial contact. It seems polite to respond because you may want to work with the recruiter later, but they don’t care if you ignored them in the past.
      And they probably have quotas to meet…50 email contacts a day, 10 calls a day…that sort of thing. Sometimes they make contact just so they can show their boss that they are meeting their numbers.

      1. Eric*

        Lol yeah I completely stopped responding to them for a while, but that makes some of the more persistent agency recruiters call up “just to make sure you saw our email.” Seems there’s no winning move once your info’s out there.

      1. Eric*

        It’s been out there for a while. I have about a decade of professional experience and I’ve worked with plenty recruiters in the past. I’ve had my LinkedIn set to “not looking at all” or whatever the specific setting is called for a while and I reject connection requests from recruiters, but I still get plenty of calls from people at an agency I worked with back in 2014 or whenever.

        Also it’s sometimes just guessing my email address, I think. Because I have “elastname,” “e.lastname,” and “eric.lastname” all registered as Gmail addresses and sometimes I’ll get a message blasted to all of them.

      2. Goldfinch*

        I’d love to know this, too. I had a recruiter call my unlisted land line. My LinkedIn presence is locked down hard, with no contact info. I also regularly remove my info from the contact info scraper sites. Dude really had to excavate to find what he found.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I ignore them. Delete. Unless they call or email me at work, then I give them a polite-ish burn. I DO NOT want recruiters sending anything to my work email or phone numbers, and I make that very clear. The ones that insist on calling my cell phone I’ve tried telling them explicitly to remove my contact information from their database and never contact me again. If that hasn’t worked, I’ve blocked them. Over time, it’s limited itself to linkedin messages and some emails to my personal email address.

      Really, the good ones don’t need to work this way. You’ll know who they are when you meet them.

    3. CM*

      They do that because it sometimes works — if they’re persistent and giving the candidate new information, the candidate might say, “Hmm, I wasn’t thinking about the stock options, maybe it’s worth at least talking to Hooli.” But over and over again is not cool. You might just stop responding at all to these messages — I also tend to send back a “thanks but no thanks” email but if they’re continuing to contact you and take up your time, I think it’s warranted to just delete the email and move on.

    4. Pippa K*

      Even if you were looking, “Are you awesome enough to work for us?” seems like the kind of phrase that ought to put people and organizations right on the NEVER EVER list. Ick.

      Good luck with the unwanted contact – there’s no direct equivalent in my field, but I’ve come to detest marketers of academic software tools who simply will not stop contacting faculty directly. I’m not going to buy your shitty unnecessary thing, nor make my students buy or use it; please do go entirely away.

      1. Eric*

        100% agree with you on how annoying “are you awesome enough to work with us?” sounds. I am in my 30s and I avoid startup bro types (distinct from the concept of a startup as a new, small, unproven business — think WeWork as the type of thing I am saying I avoid) as much as I can.

    5. Natalie*

      Between spam calls and recruiters I find myself leaving my phone on “do not disturb” more often than not. Anyone that’s in my contacts gets let through and the rest can leave a voicemail if it’s important. If that’s an option for you it might alleviate the constant interruptions at least.

      1. Eric*

        I’m the emergency contact for two of my elderly relatives, so I pick up 99% of the time because god forbid, it could be (and has been) a hospital. My company is very understanding and supportive, more so than other employers have been in the past — one reason I am so loyal to them.

        Ever try to tell a recruiter from an agency that’s called you 3 times so far today “my phone is only on at work for emergencies, and I don’t work with recruiters who cold call, so please take me off any internal candidate lists you have, permanently.”? It’s not fun!

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, well that probably wouldn’t be a good idea then! If you know for certain you don’t care about ghosting them, I’d just block them after the initial contact. Set their emails to go straight to your archive or trash and then they’re easier to ignore.

          It is super annoying, especially when what they’re offering isn’t that great.

    6. noahwynn*

      Yes! I never thought I’d be irritated at being called about a potential job, but lately one particular recruiter has been driving me crazy about a job with a local hospital group. I understand my background is perfect for the role but I’m not interested. I just started by current job in January and am very happy here. I have no desire to leave. Calling and emailing me multiple times per week is getting annoying when I flat out said no. Their newest tactic is begging me to at least interview and consider it. Ugh!

    7. MonteCristo85*

      Both me and my old coworker (now direct report) have been approached multiple times for the job we already have (two of the same job, I was one, she is the other, we are replacing me). I mean, shouldn’t they check into that before hand? What if it was US they were planning to replace…what a way to find out.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had that with a vendor who a co-worker was evaluating before she left. I repeatedly said the project was on hold, repeatedly got her off the phone only by agreeing she could call me in a month, and she didn’t get the hint until I sent a two-sentence email that we’re so shortstaffed the project isn’t even on my list. That finally got through.

  18. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

    Has anyone here ever successfully gotten Google to take down an erroneous business listing? Our library needs help.

    A local workforce development agency used to have a satellite office in our library several years ago, but no longer do. Unfortunately, when people Google the name of the workforce development agency and misspell it in a common way, what comes up on Google is… a map pinpoint showing our library and our address. So people come to the library for job interviews and recruitment events, and have to be redirected two miles down the road to the workforce development agency.

    We’ve contacted Google through the “Send Feedback” link at the bottom of the page, and attached a screenshot of the wrong information and an explanation. We’ve done this four times, and gotten no response four times. The wrong info is still there.

    The “Remove Outdated Content” link on Google requires me to enter a URL. When I enter the URL of the erroneous search, it says “invalid URL.”

    I’ve tried the link to contact Google’s legal team. You have to answer many questions through drop-down menus to get to the actual question box, and for each permutation of answers I’ve tried, it says my concern is not one for the legal team and to try the other methods.

    I’ve called our contact at the workforce development agency as well as an IT person there to get *them* to intervene, and they say that someone has illegitimately “claimed” the (slightly misspelled) workforce development agency as having the library’s location with a personal Google account (!), and that there’s nothing more they can do on their end. They are content to let us deal with the customer service nightmares that come with redirecting stressed-out job seekers that often can’t afford to take an extra bus ride and usually don’t have the time to be redirected anyway.

    Our internal IT department at the library told me that any responses that I send through the feedback form in Google are going to the entity that claimed the business (in this case, likely a bogus person) and not actually to Google. If that’s true, then all this time, I’ve basically been screaming at a wall!

    I’d ideally like to *call* Google and speak in real time to an appropriate supervisor to straighten this out, and the fact that I can’t find a single way to reach Google by phone is making me feel like a complete failure as a librarian. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Elliott looks like a really helpful resource. For one thing, it’s the first time I’ve actually seen phone numbers for Google. Thank you!

        I suspect the CEO of Google has better things to be concerned with, but I can’t possibly get any less of a response than what I’ve gotten so far.

        1. Colette*

          Businesses often have executive customer service teams – so if you write to the CEO, he will send it to that team whose job it is to make the problem go away. (I used to be on that team for a software company that is not Google).

        2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

          “I suspect the CEO of Google has better things to be concerned with”

          That’s not your concern.

          1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

            Oh, trust me, I don’t feel the *slightest* bit bad about sending the CEO of Google an email. :-)

    1. lcsa99*

      I have never tried this myself, but have you tried creating a second listing for the library as close to this erroneous one on the map as possible? Whenever I see two listings on google maps for the same address I will generally either call or do a street view to see if the one I want is still actually there.

      Good luck! I know how frustrating google listings can be. Our company sounds a lot like the type of retailer we would actually sell our product to – but we’re just an office. So for years we got people looking for a retailer. I managed to claim and change the listing so it says wholesaler in several places and it helped. It’s too bad that isn’t an option for you.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        To clarify, what I’m seeing isn’t a listing in the normal Google sense — it’s a red pinpoint on a map pointing directly to our library. If it *were* a listing, I’d be able to leave a one-star review and an explanation that the listing is bogus. Unfortunately, I’m not even able to do that. But thank you!

    2. Reba*

      I have gotten a correction to a business name to go through on Google maps, using the “Suggest an edit” feature on the phone app. It took months and there is absolutely no communication from them.

      You could try leaving a review stating it’s not the location — maybe at least a few people will see that?

      And have you asked the Workforce agency to tell people about the mixup in their appointment/interview instructions? It’s not that infrequent that I get an invitation with a note like “If you search in Google it will send you to the wrong place, please remember to search by our address.”

      What a mess!

      1. Reba*

        Oh, I see in your reply above that it’s not that… Ugh. I’m sorry for you and sorry for the job seekers!

        1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

          But asking the workforce development agency to alert their interview candidates to the Google mixup and to specifically go to *their* location is a good idea! They’re very bureaucratic and I get a lot of “talk to the hand” from them, but I’ll give it a shot. Thank you.

          1. Mama Bear*

            I would detail the number of times you have had to redirect people to their new location when asking them to update their materials. You might also put a sign on the door saying x company has relocated to….so that when people show up, they maybe see the sign first. Also, if they ask for Google to update, then it may help – two sides coming at the same issue.

    3. Southern Ladybug*

      I’ve heard google is extremely unresponsive – but sometimes people have more luck with these types of issues tweeting at them/using DM in twitter to the @GoogleMyBiz account.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Thank you. I’ve just begun (yes, in 2019) to use Twitter — exclusively for problem solving like this — so I’ll give this a shot, too.

        1. valentine*

          You could also ask IT to put it on the library’s Twitter blurb and homepage, and in the website FAQ. That way, you get people who look for more info before they go in.

          someone has illegitimately “claimed” the (slightly misspelled) workforce development agency as having the library’s location with a personal Google account (!)
          If a person is using the misspelling to direct people to you, that’s completely weird.

    4. Ama*

      This is a little different, but I once worked in a building that hosted public exhibitions and the address was put in google incorrectly due to a weird quirk of the addresses on our street. (Shortish explanation: our street was bordered by a park on the west side and a river on the far east side. For some reason the numbers on our block next to the park ran from 10-20 and then went in numerical order for five blocks, then 1-9 were on the easternmost block next to the river. We were number 15 and were for some reason showing up as on the easternmost block instead of the westernmost one.)

      It was extremely difficult to fix because it apparently was a bug in the code that google uses — we actually did get to one of the map engineering teams and multiple times they would fix it and the code would update and rewrite the error after about a week. In the meantime we had to deal with people coming to our exhibitions out of sorts because they looked on google maps and then had to walk an extra five blocks. (I also dealt with one memorable angry caller who did not believe me when I told him google was wrong and basically acted like I was lying to him and just didn’t want to tell him where we were.) We put up notes on the map section of our website about the issue but a lot of people went straight to google maps and never saw the message.

      But we did finally get it fixed, and actually once we got to the right team at google they were just as invested in trying to fix the problem as we were — if google maps aren’t accurate it reflects poorly on them.

      1. Ama*

        I should add that I don’t know exactly how we got to the right google contacts as our IT team was handling the issue. But it is possible!

      2. Becky*

        I have to tell people not to trust Google when they try to come to my apartment. The same address that USPS delivers to and says is a verified address gets mapped by google to completely the other side of town.

        I live in a town that has a standard grid layout so if I say “50 N 500 E” then most people familiar with the system can find it without a map.

    5. Tuckerman*

      Something similar happened when I worked in a University library. I believe our legal team had to reach out to Google.

    6. TooTiredToThink*

      As a customer I found that reporting the issue _as a customer _ is what seemed to resolve an issue similarly to this before. Especially if I do it as a report in Google Maps (having gone via directions there) and then using that link to say its wrong.

      Not google, but Apple – I once started reporting my home address is wrong at least once a week this way and it took about 6 months, but they finally fixed it. I assumed I had reported it often enough to get past the automated system.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Encouraging our misdirected patrons to contact Google themselves, in addition to all the attempts we’ve made, is an angle I never considered and I’m going to do that from now on.

    7. Rose Tyler*

      This sounds so frustrating! In the meantime, can you put a sign on the front door of the library that says “THIS IS NOT THE XYZ OFFICE. The XYZ Office is located at ______”?

      I had a somewhat similar situation happen with a Facebook group page and finally had to check boxes indicating that the other person was squatting or otherwise impersonating my company, not just that it was a duplicate listing. Somehow that got it channeled to the right department to switch ownership of the page over to us.

      1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

        Thank you. The problem is that by the time they see the signs, they’re already at the library and the damage is already done.

        I’ve found recently that Facebook actually has better ways to report this stuff than Google does. Which is odd, because I’ve always seen Google as having a relatively good rep and Facebook as pure evil.

        1. Used to have relevant knowlege*

          I will preface this by saying that my experiences with a huge company website and google are 5 + years old but it may not be something google can fix. Google is just collecting the data. The culprit might be the old address and misspelling is living on a webpage somewhere or in the meta data for a page. This could be an old page that isn’t linked on the businesses website and they don’t even realize it is still an active page. Google is scanning the site and picking it up, or someone else has it somewhere. And issue like that, unfortunately, google can’t fix because they don’t own any of the content. They are just running it through their algorithm.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I had luck “moving” my company to its real location from an obvious error in a nearby residential area. I cited the website.
      But no luck helping a friend in a rural area get his house on the map. (A search for 123 Town Street in Town ALWAYS directs to 123 Town Street in NextTownOver.) So I may be trying some of what has been suggested here–thanks.

  19. HBIC*

    Curious to read the replies here…

    If you’re a manager, what do you call someone who reports to you but is also a team lead/supervisor to others?

    Officially their title is “supervisor” but saying “my supervisor” makes them sound as if I report to them and I use “my report” for everyone else who reports to me.

    When I was a supervisor my manager referred to me as his right hand man/partner in crime/etc.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m a team lead in that boat, and my manager refers to me and my co-leads as “the team leads” and the rest of the team as “the coders.”

    2. Erin (who works from home)*

      My manager calls me (and my peer with a different job title who manages the other team) his “lieutenants,” similar to your right hand man verbiage. (We are not at all military-affiliated, it’s just a joke.)

      I think officially he refers to us as his direct reports, and to the people we manage as Erin’s Team or OtherCoworker’s Team.

    3. Mama Bear*

      Subordinate manager is the term my Senior Manager spouse uses. Or Team Lead (for x project) if that’s applicable.

    4. I have a name. Just say it.*

      Is it required to note the hierarchy and attachment when you refer to the person? I’ve never been referred to as ‘my’ anything when associated with someone else. If someone were referring to me it would be ‘Ft Worth, our Program Coordinator’ and when I refer to staff or volunteers, I say “These our staff or our volunteers.” I don’t belong to anyone, singularly, I belong to a team/organization.

      Haha .. no. Stop the boss who uses Lieutenant. This might be the only time a Commander or superior noted that I was their ‘Lieutenant or Captain’ but that’s a totally different workplace and situation.

      “What do you call someone who reports to you but is also a team lead/supervisor to others?” By their first name.

      1. HBIC*

        That’s…it’s not that deep? Of course no one owns anyone…I just wanted to see how others say this. And sometimes it is helpful to note the heirarchy and attachment when referring to the person. With coworkers, it’s self explanatory if I say “Alexander” because everyone knows his role, but when I’m talking about work occasionally with outsiders, it comes up. NBD.

        1. Triumphant Fox*

          I think it sounds less odd if you add specificity to it. My director of operations, my writing team lead, my hr manager, my VP of products. It notes where they are in the hierarchy without implying that they are the next level above you, which my director, supervisor, lead does.

    5. Grandma Mazur*

      I’m a team lead and have both managers and senior managers as well as associates on my team. I refer to them by their titles (i.e., the senior managers in my team…).

  20. Free Meerkats*

    What do you listen to to get going on those mornings when you just can’t. I had one of those this morning, snoozed the alarm twice, then managed to drag into the office.

    Right now, I’m listening to the 1973 London cast version of Rocky Horror Picture Show. Time Warping in my chair.

    1. Cookie Monster*

      High energy musicals! All the dance numbers from Thoroughly Modern Millie do the trick, as well as the entirety of the very underrated Legally Blonde the Musical. I also just have a couple of playlists full of songs dedicated to this exact purpose – lots of bubblegum pop there.

    2. Mindy St Claire*

      Lizzo in the car this morning totally changed my mood from grumpy to *sunglasses emoji* Let’s Do This.

    3. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Flood, by They Might Be Giants. Straight through, from beginning to end, just like I did when I originally owned it on cassette. Good mornings I only need to listen once through. Bad mornings, I can have it on repeat all day.

    4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Power metal. Right now my favorite ‘wake me up’/workout music band is Battle Beast.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      Anything Queen, but especially “Don’t Stop Me Now,” which immediately puts me into a better mood no matter how many times I hear it. It’s just fun.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Disco or 80s music when I need to be energized, and to be very specific, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On when it rains. For podcasts, Lore when I want something soothing, and True Crime Obsessed, well, anytime.

    7. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      My family has a joke where we tell our Alexa to turn on “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas. Works every time.

    8. Hepzibah Pflurge*

      RHCP, Jane’s Addiction, NIN, 80’s or 90’s playlists, or Journey (Feeling That Way/Anytime always make me smile regardless of my mood or situation). Sometimes the angrier the music, the more it makes me perk up and rawk my face off. But keeping it inside. :)

    9. Lalaith*

      Sometimes I listen to Bruce Hornsby when I’m in the shower to wake me up, especially the Spirit Trail album. Lots of upbeat fast piano.

    10. Aphrodite*

      It’s not mornings for me but afternoons, and when I am doing detailed work I find that opening my personal laptop (that I do bring to work with me) and listening to Mozart’s Symphony #40 (Jupiter) as performed by Herbert van Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic to be . . . enthusiastically uplifting.

    11. Syfygeek*

      I’ve been listening to various versions all day to get ready to go see a local group put it on tonight.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Fast paced folk/country or soft rock.
      I still stream WFUV morning shows now that I’m out of state, but I wake up so much earlier than my family that I can only do that in one room without waking them up. The shower is not one of those rooms alas.
      Lately I’ve had Neck&Neck playing in the car, the one Chet Atkins & Mark Knopfler did together. Yakkety Axe…have an esrworm.

  21. Alice*

    My mantra this past week has been: this too shall pass. I’ve pretty much given up on this workplace. Never mind a smoth transition, management has done their best to ensure I had no time to work on any kind of transition. I’ve been told not to “waste time” documenting processes and they don’t plan on filling my position. At least I believe they won’t… I’m so out of the loop, I can’t be sure what the plans are. I keep getting requests such as “explain X process in detail in the next 30 minutes” when the high-level overview takes well over 2 hours. Utter madness. I’m amazed I lasted as long as I did, and that I didn’t see much earlier how dysfunctional the place truly is.
    My last day is next Wednesday. I’m keeping my spirits up thinking of the glorious 4 days off I will enjoy before starting my new job on Monday. Also I saw on Linkedin that my future employer was a runner up at a prestigious industry award and aims to take home the win next year, so that’s exciting. No real question, just venting a bit… AAM has been my rock these past few weeks and I enjoy the Friday threads the best even if I don’t often comment.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Think about how you want to handle the inevitable questions once you’ve left because they have no clue how to do anything.

      1. Alice*

        First question: if it’s something I wrote down or if they’re looking for some specific file, I’ll tell them where to look; otherwise I’ll express regret that it’s too long to explain now and I was not able to document it due to time constraints.
        Second and further questions: not my circus not my monkey, I’ll block their number if I have to.

    2. Princess Scrivener*

      Congratulations on your [very short] countdown to freedom. Enjoy your days off, and put to rest the toxic memories. I went through this almost 5 years ago, and I still feel so grateful every morning as I’m driving to work. I’m happy for you!

    3. Lana Kane*

      Are you able to say, “Unfortunately, I won’t be able to explain in 30 minutes”? Because I bet that would feel really good.

      1. Alice*

        I told them and even showed them how complex it is. Unfortunately they’re in the grip of a very strong collective delusion that it’s really quite simple and they’ll pick it up in a jiffy once they put their minds to it. I’m sure that, after I leave and the system crashes and burns, I’ll be blamed for that too. But to be honest I don’t really care at this point, and /that/ feels good.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      Congratulations on your last couple of days! Soon these people will no longer be your problem :) That’s the most freeing spot to be in.

  22. Chardonnay*

    I’m new to Learning&Development and looking for recommendations on books/courses/resources to learn more about training/e-learning/workshops. We’re mostly doing product training internally and to our business partners/customers and we use various platforms (e-learning, face2face, videos).
    What has helped you kickstart or further your career in this field?

    1. Sharkey*

      I came into L&D without a degree in the field about 20 years ago. Some of my favorite resources are Cathy Moore’s blog and website, Julie Dirksen’s book Design for How People Learn (she also has a Facebook group that has some good resources and discussion), and the Articulate community. Tom Kuhlmann (from Articulate) runs the Rapid E-Learning Blog, plus there are tons of downloads and inspiration from community members. These should be easy enough to Google—I’m leaving out the links to avoid comment moderation.

      These are obviously informal resources, but I know Cathy Moore offers a webinar course. You might also look into the Association for Talent Development (ATD) or Langevin Learning for more formal courses. And if you’ll be creating a lot of elearning, don’t forget about the graphic design element (check out the book called White Space is Not Your Enemy). So much to learn—but that’s what makes it fun!

    2. LQ*

      ATD is really good. I also really liked the Articulate forums. They are really surprisingly good. Or at least they were for me when I was starting out. Not just about the tools, but about learning, elearning, training, and all the rest around it.

    3. Lyudie*

      I’m in a graduate program right now, and a couple of textbooks I’ve had that were good are e-Learning and the Science of Instruction by Clark and Mayer and Designing Effective Instruction by Morrison et al (both are on Amazon). ATD has good workshops and online courses but they can be expensive (as is the membership to ATD).

    4. Jenny Bee*

      I would also say ATD – especially their TechKnowledge conference if you have the budget for it. I found it to be a big help when I was starting out. The presentations were good, but I learned so much from attendees that were also focused on training and supporting stakeholders rather than doing compliance training.

    5. Collette*

      If he learning is the thing that you’re focusing on, I highly recommend “The Accidental Instructional Designer” by Cammy Bean. It’s such a great introduction to the concept of e-learning and instructional design.

  23. Goldfinch*

    I know some people here have remote work experience…has anyone used The Mom Project to find remote work? If so, how would you review it?

    1. Meepmeep*

      Loved it loved it loved it. They found me a great contract job that was 3 hours a day, mostly remote, paid better than any other contract job I’ve had, fitted my resume to a “t”, and fitted perfectly with my childcare schedule. The recruiter I worked with was extremely responsive and supportive, and checked in with me regularly.

      I honestly can’t recommend them highly enough.

    2. LilySparrow*

      It took a while for my recommendations to come in line for the jobs I was looking for, but after a while it “learned” how to match me.

      But by the time that happened, I was in offer stage for another position, so I didn’t wind up using it much.

      It seemed very easy to use and like it had good quality jobs listed.

  24. Lalaith*

    I’d like to hear from other web developers here. I’ve been in not very coding-heavy positions for far too long, and my skills have really stagnated. The state of the profession has really flown past me. I don’t know Angular or React yet, I don’t do unit testing, I haven’t learned Node, and whenever I try to start learning one of them, I have to start installing things with npm and I get flummoxed. I mean, I can follow directions, but if anything goes wrong I’m hopeless. I just feel… lost. And stuck. And like I’m not sure I’m going to be able to catch up. Does anyone have any good resources for where to start with all of this? (I do know vanilla Javascript, jQuery, HTML, and CSS).

    1. Purt's Peas*

      I would come up with a project, and go through the React documentation / tutorial. Angular is an absolute nightmare to learn because the documentation is so poor, and everyone’s obsessed with looking like they know Angular instead of actually teaching it in a sensical way. The React docs are MUCH better.

      As for node, you know javascript, therefore you can learn node–it’s a javascript program that 1) allows you to run javascript easily not on a web browser, and 2) run a server very easily. If you want to learn node, I’d suggest looking at Express and (again :P ) running through their tutorial, and then coming up with a project of your own.

      Most of all, you may just have to strengthen your problem-solving muscles. I totally get being stymied by like, “I have to install WHAT??” but try and think of it like–React itself is easy, what you’re relearning is that troubleshooting & problem-solving skill.

      1. Lalaith*

        I’m also really bad at coming up with project ideas :-/ Which is unfortunate, because yeah, figuring out real problems with a real thing I’m trying to build is how I learn best.

        1. lemon*

          Free Code Camp? They have some modules that cover React and Node, and also have projects to work on.

        2. Purt’s Peas*

          Yeah, that is really hard! How about, first do a tutorial, and then spin up a website for a company that sells chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry teapots :)

    2. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      Have you ever used CodePen? It’s a web based platform for trying out various front-end technologies. Being web based, it means you don’t have to worry about installing anything on your own computer (or messing up that install). Several of my co-workers will use it when they want to prototype something quickly, since they can focus only on the coding part, and not the setup. Some of us have also been using it to play around with things like Angular and React. (We are currently using a framework that hasn’t been actively supported in a while, and we’re looking to jump, once we figure out which way.)

    3. Mill Miker*

      You might want to try looking at Glitch (https://glitch.com/). It lets you play with code directly in the browser, including Node and backend stuff.

      You can browse around, find a demo or little project you like, and then in just a click or two have your own copy you can modify without having to figure out all the setup. I think they have starter projects for things like React as well.

      I think they also have feature where you can “Raise you hand” and another user can see that and jump in to help you.

    4. Qwerty*

      Sites to check out: Edx, PluralSight, Udemy, Coursera

      Personally I found Angular to be easier to learn. There were major releases to Angular, Node, and npm last year that made it so you can now spin up a project rather easily. If you have access to PluralSight, look up the videos by John Papa. He is well known/respected in the industry for his training videos about Angular.

      React provides a good tutorial – they have both an “hands on” and a “written” option, depending on what your learning style is. It is part of the ReactJs website and the “hands on” version is usually the first option when you Google “React tutorial”. You make a tic-tac-toe game as part of the tutorial.

      For both Angular and React, I’ve found it easier to use the typescript versions over javascript because there are more tools that can be used to detect problems, but that might be because my background is from C# rather than Javascript.

      1. Qwerty*

        Since you mentioned struggling to come up with projects – start with something familiar. For instance, maybe some form of dataset that you have to display in a nice manner. Then include buttons and forms for adding, editing, deleting data. Maybe expand to charts or conditional coloring, etc. Look at adding one feature at a time.

        Another idea is to sort the functionality of a site or app that you use regularly, like a fake hotel booking or tracking and rating wine/beer/some food that you like.

  25. AndersonDarling*

    On interviewing with a customer…
    My husband is a service tech and goes on site at customer locations to work on equipment. He has an interview with one of his company’s customers that liked his work and wants him to come work there full time. I didn’t think much of it because it isn’t a non-compete situation because the businesses are different (he isn’t going from one service company to another service company). The job he is applying for is a manager role so even though he would be using his tech skills, it’s really a different job. But it still seems a bit awkward even though there is nothing in his handbook forbidding it. Has anyone gone to work for their company’s customer?

    1. Yup*

      I have and it was fine. I worked as a lab manager for a biotechnology company and I also setup their customer’s equipment on site.

      I developed a great rapport with several of the customer contacts. One contacted me about performing maintenance and troubleshooting on their four machines after the company wanted a $1,000,000 per year service contract. I had left the company and was working at a new job so we worked out a contract where I serviced the machines for $125 an hour.

      They bought me the required tools and all was good. I scheduled the service on weekends so there was no down time and received a 50% hourly premium for on call service. I worked for them for over two years.

    2. ArtK*

      The customer should check their contract. Even though there’s nothing in the employee handbook, the contract may have a “no poaching” clause that could cause trouble.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Good call. It’s a tiny company so I don’t think they are savvy enough to write anything into their contract, but it would be good to check.

      2. Hamburke*

        I know it’s in my company’s contracts and in our non-compete. And we’re tiny! Anyway, one former employee did go work for one of our clients as they outgrew our services but was very open about it.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This should be fine. Eh, it should be fine if he went to work for a competitor as techs do this.

      My husband was a tech and he had a few job offers from customers. People change jobs, it happens. My husband did at one point go to work for a competitor. There’s only one thing harder than if the Old Employer is mean and that is if the Old Employer is nice. They were very nice. They politely asked him to come back and so on. It was hard in a way we never anticipated.
      He quit number 2 to go to work for number 3 and this time the Old Employer (#2) was mean. That was much easier to walk away from.

  26. Anonymom*

    I wanted to get the wise commentariat’s thoughts on something. We recently interviewed a candidate for an open position on our team. At the time she lived about seven hours away. We asked if she would be willing to relocate and she said yes. We offered her a position and she accepted. Her start date was set about a month out to give her time to relocate. She’s been in role for about a month now, and she kind of didn’t relocate. Her family is still living in her old state with no plans to move, ever. She’s living in a travel trailer and going home every weekend.
    Part of me feels like it’s none of my business where she lives or what her family arrangements are as long as she does her job. Another part of me thinks this is a crazy arrangement that is unsustainable and is bound to lead to burnout. And also that she kind of misled us when she said she’d relocate? Technically yes, she’s physically here, but her life isn’t. It really doesn’t make any difference how I feel about it since she’s here and we can address any performance issues that may result separately, but I was curious what others thought.

    1. ExcelJedi*

      This is none of your business.

      You’re right to focus on performance, and only bring it up if it’s an issue.

      On the other hand, if she’s a rock star and you wouldn’t mind helping her with a relocation bonus….maybe ask if there’s anything she needs to make her transition easier? Do it no more than once, and be casual about it, in a “how are you settling in?” conversation. But that’s the most I would do.

      1. Anonymom*

        I like the idea of asking how she’s settling in. We do offer really generous relocation packages, but I’ll have to look into the bonus idea.

    2. Jamie*

      She relocated. Maybe unconventional, but she did relocate in order to take the job and how that affects her personal life isn’t relevant to you as her employer.

      If it’s not sustainable for her you’ll know. If her whole family relocated it might not be sustainable for other reasons.

      I don’t think she did anything wrong and I wouldn’t never bring this up with someone.

      1. Anonymom*

        I definitely wasn’t planning to bring anything up to anyone. Just wanted to get others’ thoughts on it.

        1. Judy Rootytooty*

          She relocated. This could be her short term plans, living in a trailer. Perhaps husband will follow if/when he finds a job in the area. Perhaps if it becomes unsustainable, family will all move out. This is not a company concern.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      It could be complicated. I’ve known two people that worked across the country from their home. One worked over the weekends 5 states away, and one worked during the week 3 states away. Each would fly back and forth and stay locally during working times. In each case, they were married but each spouse had independent lives. It worked out well for everyone involved.

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

      You can’t make her relocate, but I would have a back up plan if she ever ghosts, because this sounds ripe for her going home one weekend and not coming back or not being able to park her trailer. I’m just so curious too; where does she park her travel trailer each week? Are there camp grounds nearby that don’t care about someone basically taking up residency on the grounds, is she sort of squatting in a public or private parking lot somewhere, does she have a family/friend that allows her to park on their property? If she had a more permanent housing solution in your area (like an apartment), it wouldn’t be concerning at all.

      1. Anonymom*

        I’m not sure where she’s parking it. I agree though, I think that’s one of the things I’m finding odd and makes it seem like she’s a flight risk. But maybe she’s working on an apartment or something like that.

      2. moql*

        My of those campgrounds near cities actually encourage long stays, renting out a space by the week or month. I wouldn’t assume that is a problem.

    5. Goldfinch*

      I have a colleague doing this. He rents a room in a house, then goes home to another state on weekends. The family agreement is that they will keep doing this until the daughter graduates high school in two years, then they plan to re-evaluate the situation depending on her choice of college (in-state versus out-of-state tuition). He’s been working here for almost three years; it works for them.

    6. Free Meerkats*

      She’s doing her job well, right? Then where/how she lives is not your problem/business.

      One of the guys who works for me lived in his SUV for almost two years when he started here. It worked for him. Now that his kids have moved up here, he’s in more conventional housing. His wife and her kids moving here is complicated by her ex being a glasshole and the stupid Arizona laws.

    7. Bonita*

      I can understand why you feel misled. This is not a true relocation and it doesn’t sound sustainable in the longterm. But I don’t think there is anything you can do about it at this point until her situation cause performance issues and it probably will.

    8. WKRP*

      It can take some time to move a family. My brother moved to a temporary apartment 4 hours away, while the family stayed at their old place until the house sold and they secured housing for the whole family. It can take awhile and however your employee manages it is up to her.

    9. Princesa Zelda*

      My dad did this for 8 months when he relocated in September a few years back. My mom was already locked in for the school year, and the new job was leaps and bounds better than the old one. He still works there.

    10. Grits McGee*

      The head of my agency lives in the city our headquarters is located, while the rest of their family is 5+ hours away in NYC. The arrangement has lasted for 10 years so far. I think your instinct to just worry about performance is probably the best way forward.

    11. Arctic*

      I really don’t see the issue here. She absolutely did relocate. She’s living there most of the week. Picking up the whole family can be very disruptive.

      This is so normal. I’ve worked with guys (yes, the ones I have known have all been men) who have done this in three different workplaces. Currently our boss has his whole family in a Southern state while we are in New England. I don’t know that anyone ever even questioned it. Except in idle chit-chat. “Trecking all the way home this weekend?”

      And I hate to ask but would you feel differently if she were a man?

      1. CheeryO*

        This is a good point. The people I know who have done this are all men who had wives holding down the fort at home. I do think a woman living apart from her family during the week would get a different reaction, sadly.

    12. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I can definitely see why you’re concerned. Technically, it might be a ‘none of your business’ issue — where employees live or the details of their household infrastructure aren’t generally an employer’s business — but it doesn’t sound long-term sustainable. Are you in a climate where living in a travel trailer all winter is a feasible idea?

      On the other hand, these things really can take time. There was one point in my life where I wound up living with family friends for several weeks to attend school, as my parents needed time to pull together a major cross-state move and they didn’t have time to get it done before the school year started.

      Has she said directly to you that her family has no intention of moving? What did the rest of that conversation look like?

      1. Anonymom*

        Totally agree that her family arrangements are none of my business. I’m truly just concerned about the effect it might have on her performance and whether she’s likely to abandon ship because of it.

        We do have cold weather in the winter. Not terribly extreme but I don’t think a travel trailer will cut it.

        Also a good point—she hasn’t said directly to me that she doesn’t plan to relocate. That information came from one of my peers, so it’s definitely possible something was misinterpreted or lost in translation.

    13. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I agree with everyone else who posted that some people do well maintaining this long distance and that moving a family is rough. But consider that there may be something she’s not telling you, ex: she’s in the process of divorcing, her husband left her, she left an abusive relationship, she’s hiding from a stalker, she’s actually living in a halfway house/rehab center/shelter in your city, etc.

      I had an employee who did this, he said he lived in a town 50 miles away and was commuting to work, which we all thought was odd because his role was service-sector shiftwork and couldn’t he get that sort of job closer to home and save on gas? Because it was the recession, we just took him at his word. Years later, he admitted that for that first year, he was homeless and living in his car, and hid it by using a relative’s address.

      It may be something they are trying to hide on purpose, and prying could make them uncomfortable.

    14. SomebodyElse*

      I get where you are coming from… it can feel on the surface like the person has one foot out the door and they haven’t fully committed. I do think that situations like this are becoming more common and it’s likely that all of us will get more used to it in the future. It could be an indicator that the person isn’t planning to work at your location ‘long term’. I put that in quotes, because who knows what long term is anymore. (I’ve seen people relocate their entire family and then quit/relocate two years later) It’s not a definite sign, but more of a hint. It shouldn’t sway how you treat the employee or what opportunities they are given, but it is something keep in the back of your head.

      This is one of those times as a manager you have to set aside that feeling and evaluate the situation for what it is. If there aren’t any issues that come because of the living arrangement, then there’s nothing to be done about it.

      If there are performance issues, then as you say you deal with the issues not the why’s of the issue and as I mentioned, you shouldn’t change the way the way to treat this employee at all, be that performance, opportunity, or special leeway because of circumstances (if you don’t also extend that to others).

    15. CheeryO*

      I know several people who have or had these sorts of arrangements for years and years. One crosses an international border every weekend to go home to his family. Another had an apartment near work and worked four 10s and drove 16 hours round-trip every weekend. Another lived on a house boat and literally boated home across some weirdly long distance every weekend.

      If it works for them, it’s not your place to judge it.

    16. RabbitRabbit*

      My old department manager did this for over 5 years. It’s not really easy to say whether you are an accurate judge of someone else’s capacity to have a life in a different state from where they work.

    17. Mama Bear*

      If there was no moving money provided (or she only used what was appropriate for one person) then where she lives is irrelevant if comes to the office and does the job. My child’s principal left his family in another state at least initially. I didn’t care EXCEPT it made him scarce because he would drive home instead of staying for events or being available for meetings. IMO that’s part of an elementary school principal’s job. But if that’s not the case here and her job isn’t affected, then I would not focus on it. You don’t know if she’s dealing with a separation, if there’s a child who needs medical care or needs to stay in a particular school, etc. SHE did relocate so she didn’t mislead you. One of my relatives has a condo in town and a nice countryside house way out of town. They save the 2+ hr one way commute by staying in town M-F. It’s unusual but not unheard of. If the worry is that it’s a travel trailer, maybe she’s trying to cut expenses or taking time to find an apartment or simply likes it – could be like a tiny house. Again, not really something you should nitpick. Judge her by her behavior and her work, not her housing.

      1. Anonymom*

        Our company has a really, really generous relocation policy, so I don’t think money is an issue.

        Definitely not judging her family arrangements because it’s not my business. I’m just concerned about how it will affect performance going forward. We’ll just have to deal with that if it happens though!

    18. CupcakeCounter*

      Jobs and school (for the other family members) usually take more than a month to figure out. Maybe the rest of the family moves out this summer after the school year ends. Maybe her partner has a contract position or they need to fix up and sell their house. Maybe the cost to get out of their lease is cost prohibitive.
      The CEO of my parent company lives in Memphis and the company HQ is in Kansas City. He spends 50% of his time at HQ, 25% on the road at our various locations, and the other 25% WFH. Only one member of the C-suite lives within an hour of HQ.

    19. Semi Famous, Mostly Anonymous*

      She’s physically here, but her life isn’t. Huh. Is there a reason why she needs to have her family in town? (Is there a business need for her to live in the community the company serves?) Otherwise this sounds like a made for tv movie set up. “In order to get the job, Joan needed to have a happy family living in town X. She hires a husband and dog, but didn’t expect that her fake marriage would cause real feelings…” watch “Happily Employed” next Thursday at 7pm CST on the Hallmark channel.

      This is not a business concern. Plus she did relocate. She is in town M-F, and available locally during the workweek.

      1. Square*

        Well, this is not a normal way for a person to live long term, so I don’t think she did fully relocate. I think it’s reasonable to wonder how long it’s going to be before she gets sick of this arrangement and starts looking for another job where her family lives. 

        1. Not All*

          Not “normal” in the sense that “more than 50% of people don’t do this” but there is actually a very substantial percentage of people who have this type of arrangement for their entire careers. I’ve seen it especially when one spouse has a job in an incredibly high cost of living urban area and in dual-career federal employees. For that matter, it would be basically the status quo for the relationship I’m in since, for various reasons, we don’t ever want to actually live together.

          1. Anonymom*

            Part of what’s bothering me is it feels like she didn’t fully relocate but I am sure my own feelings about this are colored by what an arrangement like that would mean for my family if me or my husband did this. Which really isn’t relevant to her situation!

            For what it’s worth, the area where the business is has a lower cost of living than where she lives. And spouse job and not wanting to take a child out of school aren’t a factor.

        2. Kat in VA*

          For some it is – think of oil rig/field workers, truck drivers, even folks in the military. Is it “normal” for a regular 9-5 office job? No, not really – but “not normal” isn’t the same as “not sustainable”.

        3. Yipyip see mmnuma na*

          But where is the line drawn? If she was living in an apartment, would that be relocated enough? Would she have to promise not to leave the state to visit husband/children-is that relocated enough? Would husband/children have to move to new state in order to be relocated enough?
          Sure she might burn out in a few years, but was she hired with the understanding that she CAN NEVER leave? Is this an un breakable ten year contract?

      2. Anonymom*

        Haha! Definitely didn’t mean to sound so dramatic! I think I neglected to mention, though, because I think it was a subconscious thought that I’m working through as I read all these great perspectives, that the nature of the job means we’re unofficially always on call. Most weekend work can be done online but there are definitely situations that mean we have to be in the office outside of regular working hours. They’re few and far between though, so I’m probably borrowing trouble there.

    20. Emily*

      It could be she IS relocating. A month is barely enough time to sell a home and go through closing, let alone find a new one in a new state. I would leave this alone.

    21. Sabrina Spellman*

      Unless she’s required to be on call during the weekend, where she is at that time isn’t any of your business.

    22. jackers*

      I know of two families that made this work.

      The first was actually the pastor at my parents’ church. They did not want to sell their family farm in MN and for tax (?) purposes, someone had to reside there for a certain number of months a year. So he preached in Indiana, she taught school in Minnesota and they visited as often as they could – older couple with grown kids. Made it work for 6-7ish years before he retired.

      The second was a past manager of mine. Older couple, no kids. She was actually Canadian, rented an apartment in town and went home about 2 weekends a month. He would occasionally visit her in the US. They had that arrangement for probably 15 years before she retired.

      It can work, but I understand why you have concerns. I actually think my husband and I could make something like this work in our later years (currently still have a teenager at home).

    23. CoastEast*

      The military calls this GeoBaching– its the equivalent of living somewhere to make money and send money to your family. Maybe its cheaper for her to live in a travel trailer with her family separated from her than it is for them to all relocate. Or maybe she wants time away from them. Either way, it is not entirely unheard of.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        *LOL* Geo-baching.

        I can always count on the military to find the perfect pun-y catchphrase. (See also: fobbit, soup sandwich, officer candy, chest lettuce, blue falcon, etc etc etc)

      2. Anonymom*

        Definitely a valid point but it doesn’t apply in this case. The area where the business is located is lower cost of living than where her family lives. Spouse job isn’t an issue, and not wanting to move a child from a school isn’t either. Our company also offer really, really generous relocation policies as well. But she may just want a break from her family!

        1. Retail Therapist*

          Or maybe her spouse and kid plan on relocating at the end of the school year.
          or perhaps they plan on relocating when kid finishes middle school.
          or perhaps they plan on relocating after the grandparent/parent spouse is taking care of is moved to hospice.
          There could be many, many reasons. As long as employee can do the job, the rest is noyb.

    24. Donkey Hotey*

      With respect, you didn’t ask her family to relocate, you asked -her- to relocate and she did.

      So long as she’s performing within parameters and not sleeping in the office or bathing in the bathroom sink, it is exactly -none- of your business where she’s staying.

    25. fhqwhgads*

      I experienced this once where the hired person has expressed the desire to move to the area to be closer to family while interviewing. Then after accepting it turned out since it was the middle of the school year, his immediate family wasn’t moving with him for six months. No one thought anything of it. Their family. Their business. When end of school came round, the employee resigned and then moved back to original location for a position there. No idea if they never really intended to move or just got here and realized he didn’t actually want to live here, even to be closer to other family…or the kids didn’t want to move or what. I’m sure there are many scenarios which could play out so far like yours has and where the person is cool with it or the family really will move later or any number of other positive outcomes. But from what you’ve said so far, I’d be prepared for this employee to maybe not last very long in the role by their own choosing.

  27. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

    This was a pretty small incident, not very high stakes but wonder how I can do this differently next time it comes up: 

    I was training a new remote hire and doing a screenshare. There were a lot of loud voices and banging of metal objects/hammering noise in the background. I paused a few times during my training and said “sorry, ti’s just so loud!” She laughed and said sorry, her son was doing the dishes and being extra loud. There was a dog barking towards the end of the call. No acknowledgment. To me, it was unprofessional.

    See, in my mind…..if the roles were reversed, and I was the one in training, I would have made sure I was in a quiet space or ask them to minimize the noise…at the very least I would apologize for it.

    I was really thrown off by the noise. I am OK with background noise but constant repeated clanging, hammering, banging, I LOATHE IT. I don”t think I have sensory issues, but I really really hate repetitive noises. 

    Am I overthinking this? My coworker (peer) said I should’ve been direct but I have a hard time being direct, esp with new people. We’re very much a “make people feel at ease and engage them” type of culture and while I like that culture, sometimes I just feel like I have a face and voice that has the opposite effect (grating, alienating, not charming or soothing) and I would end up coming across snotty or mean.

    1. JimmyJab*

      Your coworker was right in my opinion – you should have been direct. If it happens again I’d say something like, “I’m sorry, but the background noise is really making this conversation difficult. Is it possible for you to move somewhere more quiet so we can continue? If not, perhaps we need to find another time when you can find a quieter spot.”

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. If I had a meeting while remote, I did things like leave the room or send the kids outside. It’s not polite to the person on the other end to have lots of competing noises/distractions. The jackhammering may not have been under their control, but the rest of it could have been. Also, they could be encouraged to use headphones and/or be on mute when not speaking. I’d address this because a client might look on it way less favorably than her own company. FWIW, I WFH from the time my kid was a toddler and she learned that when I needed her to be quiet, I meant it and she learned how to ask for help without being loud. It may just be something you need to spell out.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I work from home in my apartment in the city, so noise is just inevitable on my end in calls. When I know my building’s maintenance staff will be drilling or working very loudly on fixing up our common areas or a neighboring apartment, I let people on my conference calls know in advance that some work outside of my apartment is being completed and apologize ahead of time for the inconvenience. I then make sure my speakerphone is muted when I’m not talking to block the sound.

          In this case, the employee should have warned you ahead of time, OP, that you may have heard some background noise from her son and then she should have placed herself on mute when she didn’t need to talk or ask questions. I’d give her that feedback should it happen again.

          1. Amethystmoon*

            Push to talk is usually what I do on conference calls. Also that way, no one hears breathing/coffee sipping/etc.

      2. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

        Oh I definitely should have been direct, but it’s one of my weak points I’m working on. My other coworkers who did the training agreed that it was unprofessional of the person to have had that.

        Contrasted with another remote I was meeting with–their dog barked and they msgd me right away to apologize for it–to me that was the right way to handle it. I don’t hate dogs, I love them actually, but the banging noises were driving me crazy.

    2. Jamie*

      You’re not overthinking it. I would have ended the training after it was clear it wasn’t just a brief interruption and told her we needed to reschedule when we wouldn’t be continually interrupted by background noise.

      The dog barking toward the end of the call, if it was brief and you were wrapping up a quick apology from her is fine. If it was excessive I’d have again cut the call short.

        1. valentine*

          It’s the lack of apology that I found unprofessional
          You didn’t tell her it bothered you. She may think you were just curious about what it was and that you’re on the same page, where that’s just life. I can see where an apology makes you feel better, but redirecting that to doing what you can to improve the situation for yourself is probably going to have good long-term results for you. You had the power here. You don’t have to suffer in silence.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            This. It sounds like you weren’t clear it was a problem. Now, people with good manners usually preemptively apologize for stuff like this ahead of time or as the issues crop up, but she’s clearly not that way, so if you end up in this situation again, you need to speak up and say that the noise is distracting and ask for her to fix it immediately or you’ll have to end the call.

          2. Roverandom*

            Oh goodness, you shouldn’t have to tell someone that background noise bothers you. OP pointed out that it was hard to hear, that is them bringing up that it bothers them.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Some companies who do remote workers have a policy. Have to have child care, no pet noises, quiet background. Basically to address this type of stuff.

      And are you really doing her any favors by not making it clear that her setup wasn’t working? Just because you feel uncomfortable, and it may be an uncomfortable conversation in the moment, doesn’t mean that shouldn’t do it.

      1. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

        I believe my company made this a requirement of all remote workers, to have a separate space for work as in this role they would be speaking to clients daily so a quiet background was required.

        1. Deanna Troi*

          I don’t know if you’re her manager or not, but I think you should talk to her about the fact that the company expects her to be in a relatively non-chaotic environment when talking to clients. If you are her manager, you should let her know that the noise on the call would have been unacceptable for a client call.

    4. Arctic*

      This is another way the stupid trend of open space living has ruined everything.

      It can be really hard to find a quiet space in your own home.

      (I agree with you, by the way. It just can be hard. Especially when nowadays the only rooms with doors are often bedrooms and bathrooms. And bathroom is obviously out of the question. And a bedroom can seem to intimate.)

      1. Jess*

        Yes, and it’s also nearly impossible to find a quiet place outside your home, too. I have pets, a spouse, no pristine blank walled rooms with good lighting in my house, etc. and I never know what to do when I have a Skype interview. People often suggest the library but more often than no private areas that can be reserved for one person and where you’re allowed to talk. It’s an issue.

        1. KMB13*

          I have this problem when it comes to interviews, as well, to the point where I usually take Skype interviews at my parents’ house – they have two small dogs, but the dogs rarely, if ever, bark, and their house is much larger than mine, so it’s easy to lock myself in a room while my mom (who is retired) keeps the dogs in another room at the other end of the house. They also live on a larger wooded lot – their house sits back far from the road and they aren’t too close to any neighbors. They don’t have any blank walls, but their decor is very simple.

          Contrast this with my house – I don’t have kids, but I have a loud dog who only gets louder if you lock her in a room or lock yourself in a room away from her. My house is small so her barking can be heard from nearly anywhere in the house. I live in a city on a small lot, so there’s a lot more street noise, and there’s seemingly always some sort of construction going on in my neighborhood. My decor tends toward the (visually) louder/more distracting style, as well.

          I’m lucky to have the option to head to my parents’ house, but I know most people aren’t nearly that lucky. It can be a real issue!

  28. wingmaster*

    Bad reviews on Glassdoor / Indeed

    Have you ever brought this up in an interview?
    How much do you consider this when thinking about a job offer?

    I’m at the final stages of an interview process, and I have a phone call with the CEO today. But after reading some reviews, and a few articles regarding the CEO, I’ve definitely reconsidered if I want to pursue this opportunity.

    I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts.

    1. stitchinthyme*

      I would ask if it was possible to speak with any current non-management employees, preferably ones with positions similar to yours or working for the same manager, and ask them about their experiences.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I think it is fair to bring it up if there is a consistent theme in the reviews. Then you can see if the company at least acknowledges that they have a problem or is ignoring it completely.

    3. bad reviews*

      I think since it’s publically available info, they should expect you’d do due dilligence. Yes, I have brought it up, because my interest was contingent on the answer. It’s not so much the info itself for me as they way they respond to my inquiry… Are they defensive, off-put, surprised, open about the challenges, addressing the issue? In your case, it seems more specific to the CEO as a person, in which case, you might be able to get what you need just from how they conduct themself during the call.

    4. KnittyGritty*

      My experience: I absolutely brought up the somewhat negative Glassdoor reviews of during the interviews for my current job. (spoiler alert – I took the job!). The owners of the company were very open and honest about what happened that led to those reviews. They did not try to hide from the reviews or react negatively at all. Combined with everything else I learned about the company, I took the job. Been here 18 months and do not regret it in the slightest.

      I think Glassdoor/Indeed reviews can be a part of the overall decision making process, but should not be a sole factor in that process.

        1. KnittyGritty*

          I brought it up during the “what questions do you have for us” phase. Made sure to use a fairly neutral tone and asked “I’ve read the Glassdoor reviews and I wondered if we could talk a little about those? A few of the reviews were not very flattering to the company and I wanted to get your take on those.”

    5. Llama Wrangler*

      I brought it up after an offer was made, not in an interview, but that was in part because I had thought I was going to have a final interview to ask more questions about culture, and I got the offer sooner than expected. In my case, the organization was going through a period of change and it was my sense that the reviews predated some of that; this was confirmed and other questions that I asked reinforced that the culture was one where I wanted to work.

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      I’ve read the reviews on both sites before initial HR phone screenings with companies and if I don’t like what I read, I may ask the HR rep some questions to try to get a general idea about the company’s culture. But there have been a couple of times where the reviews were so bad, I just cancelled the phone screen because I knew there was no way in hell I’d accept a job with that company no matter what.

      I’ve now started reading reviews before I even apply to a place to save my time from filling out a job app for a place I’d most likely decline to work for in the end. Those sites are good vetting tools once you can spot patterns.

    7. LilySparrow*

      I brought up Glassdoor in my interview for my current job, because there was one that was so extremely negative, it was a complete outlier. I framed it that I always read reviews on products and everything, because it reveals when people’s expectations don’t line up with the reality of the situation. It was obvious that this person had some kind of skewed expectations, and could the hiring manager shed any light on it, because I want to have realistic expectations.

      It was very well received and we had a productive talk. (Turns out the person hadn’t actually worked there – they got rejected & were trolling.)

      But I generally think bad reviews give useful information about what type of person is going to be a good fit for a company or role. Unless they’re uniformly bad for similar reasons – that indicates a consistent problem.

  29. Amber Rose*

    Some random updates, the summary of which is: the company getting rid of our old C-level was probably the best thing to happen to all of us, even though I feel kinda bad saying that.

    I was asked to draft a harassment policy, successfully advocated to be sent to a class on workplace harassment, turned our one paragraph policy into a proper document, and got kudos from the CEO for “initiative” on knowing that the class existed and taking it. Guys, I did initiative right! By accident! :D

    I also advocated for and got approval to start an HR department, only we’re calling it a committee because “department” is too aggressive? That one’s weird, but the point is that when we’re done, there will be a group of three of us who have the power to address issues in the workplace. One of them is me, which I’m excited about because I wanted to find a way to get into HR work. Anyone who has any advice on how to start up our little group the right way, as none of us have any education or training, I would love to hear from you. (Things are better, not perfect.) My first goal is to convince them to implement an EAP, since we don’t have one. We’re gonna have a meeting about it.

    And, I FINALLY, after over a year, got approval to pay the darn bill to get rid of the DMS that has been haunting my life this whole time. Yes, it’s an exorbitant sum for such a tiny object, but also that tiny object could kill everyone in this building so. Thank you, new CEO.

    So yeah. Now that the barriers are gone, or lower, we’re gonna get some stuff DONE. And I am hoping for a nice shiny raise at the end.

    1. Evil HR Person*

      First things first: if you have insurance via your employer, you may already have an EAP! You’d have to see if it’s part of your dental/vision insurance. At my work, it is. If you have a broker, check with them. And if you don’t have one, the broker will help you.

      Second, get a membership to both SHRM-National and a local SHRM chapter (I’m assuming you’re in the U.S., although SHRM is international). This will help with more than just keeping up with current laws. They have webinars and seminars about HR. Get into a seminar for people with newly-assigned HR responsibilities. If you learn better by attending an in-person one, then attend. If not, I’m sure there are tons of webinars. There is so much to learn about the craft, but I think these are good starting points.

      1. Amber Rose*

        We don’t have an EAP. I already talked to our insurance company, it’s not part of our package. I’m trying to arrange a meeting between them and our current CEO to talk about our options, but everything’s so busy and ridiculous right now it might take a little time.

        I’m also not US, I’m Canadian. I’ll look into SHRM though.

        1. A tester, not a developer*

          I’m with an insurance company in Canada, and our own EAP is with Morneau Shepell. I really like the suite of services they offer, especially if you have a lot of diversity in ages/life stages of your employees.

    2. PersistentCat*

      …What’s a DMS that could kill everyone? Somehow I doubt document management systems kill people…killer headaches, maybe, but not deadly in & of themselves.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The killer DMS is the one that means dimethyl sulfate. It’s a relative of mustard gas. A tiny drop on your skin could kill you. If it didn’t, you’d probably wish it had. I still have nightmares from the documentation I was reading about it.

        Needless to say, I was not super happy they brought this stuff in because we definitely do not have the required safety measures for handling it. I had been on these Friday threads a couple of times looking for some help convincing my company what a horribly bad idea it was.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Nice turn around on this story. There was new levels of despair in the old story. You sound pretty happy/excited. I am glad things are turning around. It was bleak there for a while.

        2. Nesprin*

          Ooof. Your environmental health and safety guys aren’t doing their jobs if you brought something in without knowing how to get rid of it. Sounds like a standard operating procedure generating procedure breakdown.
          -signed, terrified by chlorine trifluorate

  30. tcro*

    Best way to follow-up..? There is a start-up company that is gaining lots of traction… I actually know the co-owner/co-founder, as they worked for me previously (probably 9 years ago). We had a friendly working relationship and have kept up on social media since then. On the website, they have feature where you can submit a resume/cover letter, even if not for a specific posted job. I did so, a little over a week ago… and haven’t heard anything. Not even the canned “thank you for your interest in X company…..” type of thing.

    I imagine that it’s a long shot that my interest could translate to an actual job…. but I’m wondering if I should reach out to my contact specifically (it would probably have to be an Instagram DM ) and just say, “hey, I’m so excited about X company and the great work you’re doing. I wanted to let you know that I submitted my resume on X website and just wanted to let you know. Keep me posted if anything seems like a good fit”? Or should I just not bother and follow the proper channels. For what it’s worth, in the cover letter that I submitted, I did mention my connection to the co-founder, in case it’s someone totally random who screens, in hopes that it might give me a nudge.

    1. MissGirl*

      Where you didn’t apply to an actual job, I wouldn’t expect any response unless they had a specific position they wanted to talk to you about. I would definitely reach out to your contact and tell him you’re excited by what they’re doing and would love to talk to him. Definitely do not reach out on Instagram.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I agree reach out, but how you reach out has a lot to do with the relationship. If you are already following each other on Instagram, it’s fair to reach out through IG – wherever he’s active. I would also hunt for them on LinkdIn and make sure you’re connected there too, but only mssg through one social media link.

        And then let go.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Yes, that for sure – personal IG only, and only because you have an existing connection there.

    2. Not your dad's recruiter*

      If this is a startup, they probably do not quite have a procedure set up for resume processing.
      I would recommend contacting the person you know and ask for a conversation directly.

  31. Bunny*

    Are managers aware at how much people read into their emails announcing staff changes with regards to tone and language?

    We get ones anywhere between effusive best wishes to terse ones strongly suggesting the person was let go with cause. But a few weeks ago we got one announcing the departure of a staff member that was well liked and that I know for a fact left on very good terms yet the announcement was very matter of fact and generic, if I hadn’t known the circumstances regarding her departure I think I would have believed that she did not leave on good terms.

    Is this something I and many of my co-workers are reading way too much into?

    1. coruscate: shine bright like a diamond*

      It could have been timing on the writer’s part: hastily written, on a time crunch, not thinking it through and definitely not thinking about the tone. That’s why it’s better to keep the departure notices exactly the same and allow staff to do their own good-bye’s as they/if they know the circumstances.

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

      I wouldn’t read too much into the emails if they’re coming from different managers — everyone has a different style and it’s probably not a reflection on the departing person at all. If it’s the same manager though, and they give one person a glowing best wishes and another person a terse announcement of their last day, then it does make a bad impression. I wish orgs would have a required standard template for departures — it probably seems really impersonal to some but it would cut down on all the guessing on who was fired, quit in a huff, or would be welcome back if they decided to return.

      1. Lana Kane*

        Was going to say the same thing. if it’s different people sending the emails, it will come down to the person’s style and how much they understand or care about tone in email.

        If it’s the same person, could be time crunch, etc.

        This is why I aim for mine to be very similar across the board.

    3. Rose Tyler*

      I think it’s both (reading too much into it but also not being great practice to vary the tone of the message). I’ve had to write an email to the team about a departure with just a few minutes’ notice because news was about to get out for whatever reason and we wanted a note from management to go out first. I would not have had time to write anything effusive even if I’d wanted to. BUT, at the same time, managers should probably aim to have consistency in these types of messages and not be effusive anyway, because it does set up exactly the questions you have in your mind right now.

    4. sheep jump death match*

      One place I worked at used a form email from HR for departures. It was super neutral and professional and impossible to read anything into. I loved it.

    5. Gatomon*

      I’m not sure, but they should. Writing a departure email for another employee is sort of an art form, I think. I’ve seen some bosses who manage to write really great thoughtful and unique messages for each person, even when it was well known that there was no love between them in the workplace. I’ve also seen really terse 1 or 2 liners that reflected poorly on the person who wrote them because they failed to acknowledge the awesome person who was departing. And I’ve seen your typical canned, “we’ll miss Jane, best wishes, please take all concerns to Tom” generic message too.

      To be honest I’d be a generic response writer myself. The only emotions I can express well are anger and sarcasm, neither of which are appropriate!

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      Is this something I and many of my co-workers are reading way too much into?

      If you are, so am I, lol. We just received a company-wide email the other day letting us know that someone who had been in charge of sending out all of the important company internal messages was moving on, but the email basically only devoted a line about it with a cursory, “we wish her the best,” before they launched into a spiel about the department that was going to take over her duties and how we should be communicating with them going forward. If she did leave of her own volition, it didn’t seem like it, lol.

  32. katamari*

    How do you recover from burnout while staying in your same position?

    Last year at my job, I was promoted to a higher title/pay. Which was great! But, I was given a new and very intense project, involving a LOT of firefighting, while having none of my old work taken away. (It was promised that 2 of my other major assignments would be shifted to other people, but due to a lot of other assignments shifting around, there were major delays in doing it.) As a result, I basically ended up doing my normal job plus a very intense new job at the same time for 9 months straight. I was working early mornings, late nights, weekends and holidays just to avoid totally neglecting all of my projects/clients (and yes, I filed for overtime to reflect this, but that didn’t seem to catch anyone’s attention or concern). My mental state, my concentration and my quality of work suffered tremendously. I was doing “passing grade” work for all of my clients and just did not have the time or mental bandwidth to do truly A+ work. If I had a dollar for every time I had to start an email with “I am sorry I wasn’t able to respond sooner” or “I am sorry I missed your previous email…” I could take a nice vacation.

    At the 7-month mark I had a slight meltdown and essentially told my managers, I cannot do this anymore. They have been good about taking work off my plate and giving me room to breathe. While I think there were serious problems at the beginning of this process, I do think my managers have made a solid effort to relieve me of some of the excess work. But now I still find that the mental exhaustion has not gone away. I make so many stupid, avoidable mistakes because my brain still feels too dry and exhausted to focus. I am 10 minutes late every day because I struggle so much with motivation to go into work. I get asked questions, even simple questions, and I’m instantly angry and irritated that someone else wants something from me. When I’m asked to look into a problem with any complexity whatsoever, I feel a heavy weight of dread in my chest.

    I hate feeling this way. I know I am capable of better work if I could just get myself in gear. Despite this rough year, I actually do like my job and workplace and I want to excel at my work. Has anyone come back from burnout like this and how did you do it?

    1. Ama*

      I have to say, I am interested in the responses to this one, because I am kind of in the same boat. We had a very intense first six months of the year here (I also went to my boss and flagged for her that my department and I could not handle that level of work again without additional staff, which she agreed to) and I have still not fully recovered. I also hear you about the anger — even being heard by my management it really is hard to get over the resentment that it even happened in the first place.

      I will say if there’s any way you can plan a significant amount of time off in the near future, do it, but I’ll also warn you that if your burnout is as bad as mine it won’t necessarily fix everything — still having some space from work did help a bit with at least the “not resenting my coworkers for asking questions” part if I’m still struggling with the rest of it.

      One thing I do just to keep myself moving is sort of a work focused bullet journal. At the end of each day I write down 3-5 tasks to be my goal for the next day (I keep it simple; if I am working on a big project the tasks might be small portions of the overall work). That way if I am having trouble focusing I can always look at my list and do those things and at least that keeps my work moving forward.

    2. J.B.*

      I’ve seen burnout described as a specific type of anxiety, and the irritation you describe is certainly lizard-brain-like. I got burned out at a very toxic job and struggled for a little at my much better job because things were kind of slow actually.

      Mindfulness is great to try. Rewarding yourself for checking things off your list is also helpful. Some people do something called the pomodoro technique. Checklisting and writing down instructions can help. Maybe make yourself a weekly appointment of something and make sure you keep it (bring the schedule to your bosses if necessary and say you will be out at this time.)

    3. Gatomon*

      Be gentle on yourself, as my old therapist used to say! I think burnout is something that takes a while to get in and out of. I think of it as a debt – you borrowed against “tomorrow’s” work capacity to do more today, and now you have to pay it back with interest. So your performance will be below normal for a while. A vacation (a real, true, totally disconnected one) can help jumpstart your recovery, but you may need to make additional changes to accommodate things.

      I spent 4 years going back to school and working, both full time. When I started, I had a job where I really didn’t have any tasks but to show up, so mentally it was easy. By the time I graduated, I’d changed careers and companies and been promoted a few times to where I actually have a challenge every day at work, and trying to do both was excruciating by the end.

      For me, my focus/concentration and memory were decimated by the burnout. To help at work while I recover, I have gotten real serious about organizing, to the put that I have a reoccurring 1/2 hour block on my calendar dedicated to it. I don’t always need that much, and sometimes I need more, but it really helps me stay on top of things since my brain is failing me.

      I’ve been using a combination of paper for initial note taking, One Note for stuff that needs to be tracked/saved long term and various personal spreadsheets/checklists to keep track of and make sure I have what I need for the projects I’m assigned to. I’m not cured of burnout yet, but I can at least remember that I have an Acme Corp project when someone calls me about it now.

      I’ve also been trying timeblocking to both realistically estimate when I can get to something and ensure things get done according to deadlines. No one in my company is good about using Outlook calendars to see if someone is free so I can clutter mine up all I want. (I use the categories feature to color-code meetings so they pop out compared to everything else when I glance at my day. For example, customer meetings are dark blue and internal meetings are dark green.)

      The final thing I am trying is based on an article, “The Only 5 Email Folders Your Inbox Will Ever Need.” Basically instead of organizing emails by topic, organize them by deadline. I really like it, and it saved me from maintaining 100+ folders or succumbing to the Neverending Inbox of Doom that I’ve seen others suffer with.

  33. many bells down*

    This week I went to heat up my lunch at work and realized to my horror that I’d grabbed salmon pasta without thinking. I’m THAT PERSON who microwaves fish at work.

    1. Jamie*

      It’s a shame, but your only options are to quit without notice, change your name, move out of town, and send your co-workers boxes of money with apology notes.

      I’m sure you will be missed :)

      1. Some Windex for my Glass Ceiling please*

        Or, see if you can convince everyone it was Someone Else who caused the place to smell like fish.

    2. Another JD*

      I grabbed leftovers from the fridge last week, then realized I was the coworker microwaving fish and cabbage. Oops.

    3. JB*

      One of my coworkers was entered in a body building competition so his diet was exclusively fish, three times a day during the work day, everyday for at least three months. So at least it wasn’t that!

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      Too late now, but if you make the same mistake, make sure you cover the dish. A paper plate is best, but even a paper towel will help prevent splatter.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      If it ever happens again: keep it in the fridge, order delivery (or find take-out), and take the lunch home at night.
      Better to be out $10 for lunch than being THAT PERSON.

  34. stitchinthyme*

    This is work-related, but about someone else’s work, not mine. The short version: is it appropriate to send a message of appreciation to someone’s current workplace for something they did at their previous workplace?

    The background: I had severe hearing loss in one ear and mild loss in the other, so I had hearing aids and regularly saw an audiologist for hearing tests and adjustments. At the beginning of the year, my audiologist suggested that I might be a candidate for a cochlear implant in my bad ear, something I’d never thought of for myself before. I went for the evaluation, got approved, and had the surgery this past summer. I figure it would be an improvement, but not have a significant impact on my life since I still had one good ear in addition.

    Two weeks after the surgery, before my implant was even activated, I experienced a new hearing loss episode in what had been my “good” ear, dropping my speech recognition in that ear from 90% down to 40%; since I had a history of these sudden losses (this was my third), it was most likely unrelated to the surgery and just unfortunate (or fortunate, depending how you look at it) timing. But anyway, the upshot of all this is that now, 2 months post-activation, I’m basically relying on the cochlear implant for understanding people, and it’s had a huge positive effect on my quality of life — it’s not perfect, but I definitely understand way more with it than with my other ear.

    I really wanted to thank my audiologist for suggesting the CI, and I was going to do that during my next appointment, but it turns out she’s left the practice she was at. A quick Google search turned up the place she works now, but it’s impractical for me to follow her there as the location is inconvenient. They do have a contact form on their website, so I am debating whether it would be appropriate to send her a message of thanks at her new workplace, even though it’s a central contact form that would likely go to the receptionist or whoever monitors the incoming email for the practice rather than her personally. Needless to say, there is no direct contact info for staff members listed, and I’m reluctant to call, both because of the likelihood of having to go through the receptionist and because I’m not fond of the phone.

    I can just let it go and enjoy my ability to hear, of course. But I am sure that when people have a positive impact on your life, they appreciate hearing about it. So, do I send a message through the website, or just let it be?

    1. CM*

      I wouldn’t send a message through the website because it’s not intended for personal messages. Could you mail a postcard or a note to the business, addressed to her?

    2. fposte*

      I don’t see any way sending a message through the form would *hurt* anything–worst case scenario is that it doesn’t get to her. You could also frame it as praise for her work, even though it was work done in a prior location.

    3. Lontra Canadensis*

      I can’t think of any reason not to send it – you’re thanking her for her professional skill/opinion and the results, and it doesn’t reflect negatively on either practice.

    4. Nancy*

      I’d send the message. I think it’s a really nice gesture, and, from a clinical perspective, good feedback for the audiologist.

    5. CheeryO*

      I would just send a card with a little note to the new office. I don’t think it’s appropriate to use the message portal since it’s not an endorsement of her work under their practice.

      1. stitchinthyme*

        Does it make any difference that her LinkedIn profile lists her as an Audiologist/Owner at her new practice?

        1. MoopySwarpet*

          Maybe you could reach out through LinkedIn? I don’t know if you actually have to “connect” to send a message. Although, I think you can send a message with your connect request.

          1. stitchinthyme*

            I did think of that, but you can’t send a message to someone you’re not connected to unless you pay for premium, which I haven’t done (and am not really interested in). I haven’t connected with her because I tend to use LinkedIn to connect only with people I’ve worked with, not medical practitioners.

    6. Emily*

      I think a handwritten card addressed to her at her office would be nice (and she would definitely get it), but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with reaching out via a contact form. You could write it like a normal letter, addressed to her, and explain that you weren’t sure how else to get in touch but didn’t want to miss the chance to thank her.

      Another suggestion – can you find her email online anywhere?

  35. Chronically Depressed*

    On the encouragement of my therapist, I asked my boss yesterday for ADA accommodations for my depression and if I could work from home one day a week. Her initial reaction was defensive and I think she misunderstood a bit until we talked more, and she seems supportive now but I worry I messed up and made a career mistake. Especially since I just kept saying “It’s hard to explain” when she wondered how exactly this would help, as my first response was “social interaction is draining” and she said this wasn’t a face to face type job. Some friends of mine assured me I did the right thing, but I wonder if I should have just kept going with how things are and spend the weekend recovering. It’s not like I try not to cry in my cube, I just struggle some days and tend to burn through my 6 sick days a year early… I’m currently saving my last 3 vacation days as emergency sick days. My home is a wreck because I never have the energy to take care of stuff once I get home from work, and spend the weekend sleeping and trying to get energy to deal with the new work week.

    1. CM*

      It sounds like your boss doesn’t really understand the impact depression has on you, and you struggle to explain it. But it sounds like it was worth bringing up. Did your boss agree? If not, maybe you can practice with a friend communicating how working from home one day a week would help mitigate the effects of depression while helping you get your working done.

      1. Chronically Depressed*

        Boss is going to HR person about it as she doesn’t have the power to approve it or anything, which is why I mentioned she seems supportive now. She has a meeting with HR person on Monday about it, and she asked me to get paperwork from my psychologist and psychiatrist just in case the company needs it. I think she initially thought I was asking for a 3 day weekend or I wouldn’t be actually working from home? I’m not sure. She then asked if I can handle a new project she was taking me on for, which I said I could but I worry she now thinks I can’t handle stuff. I already work through things really fast and spend a lot of time doing nothing in between projects. She knows this and tries to find stuff for me to do. I’m a fast and good worker, and she’s had nothing but praise for me about it and in my first yearly review where I got a rare (she said, as it sounds like it’s people above her that decide the %) and significant raise.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I can understand why the manager may have been flustered, especially if they didn’t have a chance to confer with HR to get some guidance on how to respond. I think they were wondering why working from home would help to guess if 1 day may turn into 2 days that would turn into 5 days a week.
      The initial conversation may not have gone well, but since you were open about your problem, you can keep your manager informed about your health and hopefully your progress. After your first work from home day, I’d check in and say how well it worked (I’m hoping it will). I’m sure your boss is afraid that you will go on FLMA or quit entirely, so if you can keep them informed of any kind of progress, they can stop worrying.

      1. Chronically Depressed*

        That makes sense, especially since she did mention she knew it wasn’t FLMA but it was her first thought, and at some point she mentioned it would be good to have paperwork from my psychiatrist and psychologist if I ever need FLMA. I don’t plan to take FLMA, I can’t afford to for one thing! I’m hoping to move abroad in a few years and need to save up as much as possible, besides that I need to pay rent/food/etc (one of many reasons I want to move to this country is relating to my mental health and possible autism causing me to burn out with a regular 40 hour workweek, and living there would allow me to work less hours while still being able to afford to live. It’s one reason I struggled to explain some things, because I only have an informal diagnoses of autism from my psychiatrist so I can’t bring that up as a reason.) I only mentioned it to my boss first instead of HR because my boss wished I went to her first when I went to HR to talk about being trans (I’m nonbinary) and how to bring it up to my boss/how to ask for my pronouns to be used and respected. I think I am causing a lot of firsts at this company…

  36. Master Bean Counter*

    For those of you who were wondering Jane’s office did not get bombed for her birthday.

    In other news the CEO is taking away the work from home benefit. Not that anybody in our department does it on the regular. To us it’s been a nice perk to be able to be home when things need to be done and work at the same time. We’ve also used it instead of sick days on those days where we are probably germ ridden, or just not in good enough shape to be around other people, but we are well enough to actually work.
    Why? because his buddy that he brought with him to this company has been abusing the policy. Rather than talk to him about the issue, now none of us are officially allowed to work from home. My boss says, do it, just keep it on the down low.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Jane’s office: Yay! I did wonder.

      WFH: Boo! Another bad manager punishing everyone for his inability to manage one bad actor. Boo…

    2. PersistentCat*

      Awww, I’m glad ya’ll were respectful of Jane. Maybe she’ll be more open to participating next year, especially as she enjoys creating bday surprises for others.
      Lousy news on the WFH option, though

    3. ArtK*

      At a previous job, most of the senior people had company credit cards for travel, etc. We lost them because one executive was abusing it. This was someone who should have been fired for lots of other reasons, but was kept on for a long time.

  37. olusatrum*

    I have worked for a small, family owned company for about 6 months now. It’s a horrible, dysfunctional culture, but for various reasons I am stuck here for a bit. I’ve been doing my best to look out for myself here, but this one has me stumped.

    The IT manager, Fergus, is planning on getting a pet gecko for the office. I think this is a terrible idea. From the way he talks about it, and from my knowledge of him as a person, I really think he has no clue how to take care of a gecko. I really have no confidence in his ability to keep a gecko alive in this office, let alone safe and thriving. We are also packed in here like sardines, and the idea of listening to crickets all day already has me breaking out in a cold sweat. On a personal level, I feel like I’ve let a lot go in order to stay sane in this office, but I just can’t deal with the idea that I could be complicit in the mistreatment of an animal, no matter how small.

    There are a small handful of people at my level who agree with me, but somehow even the curmudgeonly owner has already approved it. We dissenters are all newish, kind of junior, and the owners place a lot of trust in Fergus for keeping our IT and helpdesk afloat. I’ve brought my concerns up to just about everyone I can think of, but we don’t even have HR. I tried the kindly CFO and he seemed sympathetic, so I really hope that goes somewhere, but if it doesn’t what can I do???

    1. Jamie*

      I have no answers, but I love that you and others there care about the gecko and it’s well being.

      What was the owner thinking?

    2. Spooooon!!*

      If the owner really wants one, there is probably not much you can do. I believe you that he would not be an ideal pet owner and your space isn’t set up for it, but maybe I can allay your fears a bit. I have a 17 year old leopard gecko. They are insanely easy to take care of. You don’t have to feed them crickets, either- they can eat mealworms or dubias, which are quiet and don’t smell, unlike crickets. I’m not saying it is still a good idea, but they are very easy (and fun and adorable) creatures.

    3. Forkeater*

      I think it’s a horrible idea, but I will say that we have a crested gecko at home, and she’s as easy to take care of as a plant. She doesn’t need a heater or light, and doesn’t even eat live crickets, she has a food with insects in it she prefers.

    4. JHunz*

      Honestly, while I can’t say whether it’s a good idea for your office and the people involved, a leopard gecko for example is an extremely low-maintenance animal. You keep the heat lamp plugged in and feed them every one to two days. You also don’t necessarily have to deal with cricket chirping – when my family had one we bought smaller crickets and fed the big ones first and only got to the adult stage on a batch a few times.

      1. Amethystmoon*

        You can feed adult leos mealworms. I had one for quite a few years. I would not give mealies to a juvenile however, as they could choke.

    5. LKW*

      I don’t think the crickets will be an issue. That noise is an “Anyone up for sex?” call. Running for your life in a relatively small enclosed space will minimize interest in reproduction.

      Unless they get loose. Then it’s open mike night at the comedy show.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Seriously. When I was a teen, the pet store next door to my dance studio tipped over a carton of crickets or something. Pandemonium.

  38. NicoleK*

    Any interview tips for when you’re interviewing with people you already work with? So our team consists of sales reps and retention reps. I’m currently a retention rep and applied for a sales rep position on my team. This would be a promotion. The interview process will consist of: 1st interview with my manager and 2nd interview with the entire team. Does anyone have any suggestions or tips? When I’m nervous, I tend to become more formal in my conversation and communication style. Normally, that wouldn’t be strange, but it may be in this context.
    TIA

    1. Lana Kane*

      In my experienced, I erred on the side of maybe more formal than some would expect, as opposed to acting too familiar. I’ve been on both sides of the table and those that are too familiar end up looking like they think the interview is just a formality. I think if it helps you stay even-keeled, do act the same as if you were interviewing externally. Your interviewers will also probably give you some cues on what level of familiarity is ok!

  39. Sleepy*

    I’ve been reading Allison’s recommendations for the “neutral, matter of fact tone” when addressing all sorts of issues, and I’m happy to say it really worked for me this week.

    I had a staff member who was using some outdated language when talking about some transgender clients during a meeting (the clients were not present). I didn’t think she was being intentionally disrespectful, so I took her aside and told her in a friendly, neutral tone that there’s some updated terminology people use nowadays that I wanted her to be aware of. I tried to treat it like any other facts I might share with someoneand was careful not to accuse her of anything. She was completely open to it and started using the more current terminology immediately. I thought about AAM a lot when thinking about how to approach the issue and the kind of tone I wanted to use, and it was incredibly helpful.

    1. CM*

      That’s great — it really does help when you can sound like you’re just sharing information and not criticizing.

    2. LilySparrow*

      Good for you for not jumping to the worst possible assumptions about you coworkers’ intentions. There’s an infinite amount of information available now, but everyone only has so much attention span to keep up with stuff. And if it’s not info you use daily, you get behind.

  40. embarrassed strawberry without seeds*

    Kind of work related, but mostly personal… I’ve been in a funk all week, coming to work feeling grumpy and not able to place why. I want to take a mid-week day off, but…haven’t been able to. 

    The tiles in my office kitchen were broken so maintenance finally came and fixed them. It was supposed to be done throughout the night but there was a delay so all day on Tuesday, the area was blocked off. Tuesday into Wednesday and Thursday, we couldn’t step in that rectangle. 

    That rectangle — RIGHT in front of the fridge. Fair enough that it was blocked off–but in order to access it, you either have to lean very far forward to grab something fro the fridge or get in VERY close to it.  
    I was standing there trying to figure it out in my mind how I would get to the fridge without stepping IN the grid…because….I have physical issues. And my coworker who looks like freaking Prince Eric but can be a total asshat sometimes, says “it’s not rocket science” like…I’m an idiot for just standing there trying to figure it out in my head. I mean, I was already in a terrible mood that day because my balance and flexibility all suck and I’m in phys therapy for it. If I were in a better mood, I would’ve jokingly said something back, but…I wasn’t. 

    On the whole, my company is moving towards a more healthy stance..different activities, more variety of snacks, etc. Which…is nice! I didn’t hate what we did before, which was pretty much open bar and food but in the last year or so, we’ve had bowling, billiards (which also had like jenga ping pong darts etc), and field day. (of course there’s always food and alcohol there as well). In the office, we have healthier snacks alongside fruit. 
    Initially I hated the idea of bowling, but I’m starting to like all these different activities (so long as the food and alcohol remains LOL). I am more or less OK with these changes, I have my physical limitations but I dont’ have any issue with the company doing something a little different. It does give me pause that, in a company of 100, 10 people are like super active/athletic, who happen to be HR and like 2 of their favorite managers (there are definitely elements of favoritsm in different aspects company wide).  

    On another note, the “light activity” field day was strenuous and really physically stressful for me. I’ve openly posted in the weekend threads about my struggles with my own physical limitations, so I’ll save it, but I’m a little worried about our health insurance here and it suddenly becoming too expensive to afford because I’m so unhealthy. 

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Re the health insurance – there’s a decent chance that your company is actually part of a pool with lots of other companies. Which means you alone won’t have a big impact on the overall costs.
      It’s Friday. do something nice for yourself this weekend. Even if it’s just a relaxing bath.

    2. Evil HR Person*

      About the health insurance – even if your company is in it by itself, and it probably is because your company is big enough (same size as mine), your insurance has what’s called a stop-loss carrier. Basically, after a certain amount, it goes to another insurance and your company doesn’t get dinged. I was feeling bad myself, as I just had surgery which cost in excess of a quarter million dollars, but we only saw $40,000 come through… everything else was paid by the stop-loss carrier. It didn’t increase our premiums more than the usual (and everyone’s premiums are going up next year, an average of 7%). So don’t worry about that!

  41. Llama groomer 4 life*

    With the holiday season approaching I want to get a part time job to make some spending money but am having a hard time. All of my work experience is in a very specific field (think llama grooming) and while I’ve sold llama grooming supplies and worked with customers I definitely don’t have any retail experience. Plus my full time job means I have very limited schedule availability. I’d prefer not to do anything like uber for safety reasons. What have other people done? Any suggestions?

    1. Bunny Girl*

      So… obviously this depends on your personality and your values and what area you’re in and such, but when I had a limited schedule and needed some extra cash, I worked at an “adult” store. It was open 24 hours a day so I could basically pick whatever schedule I wanted, which is why I picked it, but it actually ended up being one of my favorite jobs. It was very laid back while still being professional. The customer base is not what you’d think at all, my coworkers were a blast and a half, and honestly we had some good stories to share. It might not be everyone’s tastes, but it was great for a job with a flexible schedule if you have the personality for it. Plus if you don’t want it on your resume, its a seasonal job and you don’t have to put it there.

    2. littlelizard*

      If there’s anything seasonal popping up around you (think like, Spirit but for Christmas), they’re likely to have a less rigid standard of who to hire since it’s not for a very long time. And it’s late for this year, but if this is a situation you’re likely to be looking for in the future, Spirit has been really good for temporary retail work in my experience.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I tried to do this years ago, and the way retail business schedule now (they want wide open availability, but won’t guarantee you specific shifts or number of hours) basically meant I couldn’t get a part-time job at most of the big retail chains near me. It wasn’t worth the risk to my main job.

    4. JB*

      I know you said not Uber – but something like Postmates might work. No one is getting in your car and you can technically do it with other people, if you want the company! My boyfriend and I do it after work together and on weekends sometimes when we’re just killing time and it’s a nice way to make some extra money while finding new restaurants we want to try and being able to talk.

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      This is somewhat specific to my city so not sure if it’s helpful, but here there are yearly Christmas markets that stay open pretty late in the evenings to catch the after-work shopping crowd. One of my friends worked there in the evenings after work and on weekends – it worked out well for her. If you can find something similar, it might be a good fit.

  42. Lara*

    I briefly looked through some of the more recent AAM and didn’t see anything so if this is addressed in an older post I apologize, but what is the protocol for inviting coworkers or bosses to a baby shower? I’ve just started compiling the guest list and there are a few coworkers I’d like to invite but others I’m less interested in extending invitations. I wouldn’t mind inviting my boss, although I don’t really know what the boundaries are for something like that since we aren’t peers.

    1. Jamie*

      I’m old school and still follow the custom where other people throw showers, not the recipient.

      I would see any invitation to a shower from someone with whom I wasn’t very close outside of work as a gift grab. I am cynical and hate parties, but since showers are inherently occasions where the point is the gifts I’d keep it out of work entirely and certainly not your boss.

      1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

        Other people throw them but in my experience they usually ask the guest of honor whom to invite, because your bridge club friend who’s hosting doesn’t know which rugby teammates you’re close with.

        But I agree that you shouldn’t invite work people unless you’re quite close with them, so probably not your boss (I think my rule of thumb here is that you shouldn’t be shower-invitation-close with your boss, and if a peer isn’t too close to manage you, they’re not close enough to invite). Unless it’s a shower at work, in which it should be the whole department/team.

      2. Lara*

        Oh, I’m not the one throwing it! I was just asked for a list of people because the host is coming into town for it. But I think I agree about that, and I probably won’t send one to anyone outside of the two I actually really want there.

      3. Bunny Girl*

        I will have to agree with this. When I get shower invites from people I’m not particularly close to, I think of it as a gift grab too. I think if you don’t actively hang out with certain coworkers outside of work, you might not want to invite them. If you do have coworkers you see socially outside of work, I think it’s fine to invite them, but I wouldn’t discuss it in the office and would make sure to send the invite through non-work communications. And it depends on how many people you’re talking about. If it’s 1-2 people within your large team, go for it. If it’s 75% of your small team, I think it’s all or nothing time.

    2. zora*

      I personally wouldn’t invite bosses or coworkers to a shower outside of work unless they are a super close person I hang out with regularly outside of the office already.

      Instead, can you talk to someone in the office about a work shower? We automatically do them in our company, but if you don’t, you could still probably get an admin or a work friend to help organize? We do them as no gift showers, instead it’s a little get together for everyone to celebrate the parent, which it nicer for coworkers because no one feels obligated to spend their own money. Instead, the company buys one smallish gift ($50-60), and everyone signs a card, and we order in some lunch or treats and just spend a half hour chatting and being social.

      But that’s just how I would feel about it if it was me.

    3. CheeryO*

      I don’t think there is any accepted protocol, but my office typically does baby showers at work and invites all of the women (maybe like 30 people, max). It’s very low pressure, but surprisingly there are a lot of people out there who REALLY like spending money on baby stuff and eating potluck food, even if they’re not super close with the honoree.

      I think any time you invite a portion of your coworkers to an event outside of work, you’re asking for drama. I wouldn’t do it, personally, unless you can draw a bright line that makes sense and won’t offend anyone.

      1. zora*

        Only inviting the women is asking for trouble. It’s discriminating. If i worked there, I would suggest opening up showers to all coworkers and making sure everyone knows buying gifts is super super optional, but only inviting one gender is not good.

          1. zora*

            There’s a difference between men choosing not to attend and not inviting the men.

            Just because it’s the way a lot of offices have done it for a long time does not mean it’s okay. It is literally discrimination and it’s not good to let that be your way of operating in an office. If you don’t invite everyone, then don’t have that activity.

      2. Jamie*

        who REALLY like spending money on baby stuff

        I love buying baby stuff and will do for even tertiary connections because it’s fun and I don’t want to demand people close to me reproduce just so I can squee over baby things.

    4. WellRed*

      I would assume your workplace might throw you a shower but even if they don’t, I wouldn’t invite coworkers to family or friends shower and certainly not the boss

  43. Reba*

    Huge professional disappointment today. Half an hour ago I learned that the project I’m leading, which would go live next summer, is just not going to happen. Our partner (in another country) has just pulled out, not sure if it’s a good use of their money, despite the commitment they made and all the commitments we, and I personally, made on their behalf. I’m really angry and sad. It was a fantastic opportunity for several dozen people to travel and I’ll need to start telling them “nevermind!” on Monday.

    The question for y’all… I have interns and a professional fellow in the office. We are a non-profit cultural organization, and these are unpaid or very-minimally-paid young professionals, so we believe very much in making it a valuable learning experience for them.

    What do I do with them? I’m going to spend the weekend thinking about what could be, like, appealing consolation prize projects. I just feel like the rug has totally been pulled out from under me and I’m not sure how to talk with them about it.

    My own superviser, whom I trust and like, is out of the country, although we are in touch.

    Ugh. I’ve cried a lot already so it’s lucky I’m not in the office today.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I’m sorry; how disappointing. And it will no doubt disappoint your staff too, but you know how you said you want to make this a valuable learning experience? This is in itself a valuable learning experience. I don’t mean “don’t bother to find them anything else to do,” but make the fact that this project isn’t going forward into a teachable moment of its own–that sometimes this happens, it’s part of the landscape that not everything makes it to fruition, and you learn from what happened and fail forward. Absolutely be disappointed and let them be disappointed, but put that disappointment in a broader context about the field and learning.

        1. Drew*

          Also, this is a chance to reinforce that THEY were doing a good job and this doesn’t reflect on them in any way. When you’re working with other companies, sometimes things don’t work out even when you’re putting in your very best effort.

  44. Weegie*

    An appeal for advice/thoughts/commiserations if anyone can spare them!

    I’ve been in my Unicorn Dream Job for a couple of years, but it’s changed lately. The job involves 4 types of task – Tasks 1&2 are what I’ve been doing for large parts of my working life, I’m good at them, enjoy them, and they’re why I was put on this earth; Task 3 involves something I’ve learned over time, and I enjoy it too; Task 4 has been a minor part of my role, was a job I previously had to do for 5 years (because UDJs do not abound), is easy, and I loathe it but am prepared to tolerate it as a small part of an idyllically (is that a word?) perfect work package.

    The issue: lately Task 4 has taken over my job (someone else is likely to get Tasks 1-3!), and it will continue like that until we reach a major deadline in 6 months’ time. After that things will return to normal – although my contract is also due to end shortly afterwards. Worse than the work itself is that the task brings me into contact with Bad Janet, an admin who is condescending, overbearing and focused on all the wrong things. Overall, Task 4 makes me anxious, fed up, and robs me of motivation – I will do anything to delay starting it each day, and end up doing everything last-minute and feeling guilty about it. (It does get done, though, and people are pleased with my work.)

    So far my strategies are: to shift my work site from my sofa to my home office (I work from home mostly and the office feels more serious than my sofa); make Bad Janet communicate with Good Janet, who runs interference for me; and try bribing myself with the promise of 30 minutes of fun activities if only I will *sit down and my desk and get on with it*! The first has had some success; the last not at all; the second was pure genius and works like a charm.

    Any other suggestions? I know this will end next year, but I can’t stand the thought of being miserable until then. What do other people do to motivate themselves when they just don’t want to do their work? I’m frittering away time that could be spent on doing enjoyable things once the work is done.

      1. Weegie*

        Regrettably not – I’m the only one in post with the required knowledge. When someone is brought in to take the good work off my shoulders I’m hoping I might be able to train them on some aspects of Task 4 so that we can share the work a bit more equitably, but realistically as the higher-ups (wrongly) think I’m the only one who can get the job done, I’ll probably encounter some resistance.

        1. Colette*

          Does your management know that you don’t like task 4? Sometimes if they are aware, they’ll be open to other options.

          But assuming you are stuck with task 4, you can try:
          – reminding yourself that you don’t like it but that it is for a short(ish) period of time and then things will change (but if you do this, make sure your manager knows you want to do something different so that you don’t get stuck with it forever)
          – making it the first thing you do every day, and rewarding yourself when it’s done with a task you like, or a break or whatever makes sense for you (this is my job-hunting strategy since I hate applying for jobs)
          – reminding yourself that you don’t have to stay in the job if you don’t want to (and that you are making a deliberate decision to do it because you like working from home/don’t want to job hunt/get paid more on this job that you would on another job)

  45. Kimmy Schmidt*

    I am about to chair a search committee for the first time. I’m in higher ed.
    Any tips or suggestions for any part of this process? Organizational strategies to not lose my mind, the most challenging parts of this, things to looks for in the interviews, how to conduct myself, etc.

    Any tips would be much appreciated. I currently feel a little out of my depth.

    1. Gidget*

      I don’t know if my advice will be super helpful as I have never chaired a committee, but I have served on one. I think one thing that was helpful was having a pre-application review meeting where everyone got on the same page and we were assigned applications to look at. Depending on the number of applicants you expect/receive you may have to do your initial screening differently. When I was on a committee we only had about 20 applicants. So everyone on the committee read all applications and we met again to narrow down numbers. A friend of mine served on a committee that received 100+ applications. In their case they divided that up and did an initial culling, with each committee member bringing there 5 favorite (or something like that) and then had all members read over the applications.

      Spreadsheets will help for initial rankings. I did not take part in any one-on-one interviews, (I was just a grad student) but I and other committee members were encouraged to attend all lectures, chalk-talks, etc. The committee also took candidates out to dinner, conversations had at dinner were definitely discussed in committee meetings. Also, if you are soliciting feedback from graduate/undergraduate students make sure you actually consider their feedback.

      I am sure that some of your committee members will have done searches before, they might have an idea of what worked well. I hope some of this was helpful.

      Good luck!

      1. Long-time AMA Lurker*

        Yep, I would give everyone parameters to review with, and definitely assign them to pick 5 “I HAVE to talk to this person” selections – in all likelihood, certain folks will float to the top. I would also use a basic scoring rubric and have everyone send you their scores before your next huddle so you can show the team the averages. Could help eliminate a few people off the bat. Good luck!

    2. blackcat*

      I’ve been on two committees for instructors (FT, not TT). Ad Gidget said, it depends on the number of applicants. The searches I’ve been a part of have had a lot. We did an initial pass with a point system, using agreed upon qualifications: 5 was “Top” 4 was meeting all qualifications but somehow not top OR seems great but missing one qualification. 1-3 were various levels of “nope, not qualified.” For one committee that I liked, all applications were looked at by 2 people. We divided applications into 4 stacks, I got stacks 1 and 3, someone else got 1 and 2, a third person 2 and 4, and a the 4th person 3 and 4. We entered things into spreadsheets that were shared once we were all done. Any candidate that was 1-3 from both raters was put on the “no” list. Any candidate rated and 4 or 5 by both was put on the “definitely first round interview” list (with up to 12 first round interviews), and ones that straddled the gap were discussed until we rounded out the “definitely interview” list. We kept written records of all of this per HR rules.

      As for interviewing: make sure to accurately portray the job to candidates, and really read the materials of the people you interview closely. It shows with the committee hasn’t read the materials. On the other hand, on one of my campus interviews, a dean asked a question that showed he *really* read my materials, and that gave me a really good impression.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        This is great advice, thank you!
        I work for a smaller, more rural institution, so we likely won’t have a huge volume of applicants. But this is a great plan to have in place that could be adjusted for smaller or larger numbers as needed.

        1. blackcat*

          HR/Equal opportunity office rules say applications need to be screened by at least two people. I think it’s a good practice.

          I generally look at CV and then a *very* cursory look at the other files. Half or more applications are generally a 1 or 2, from grad students and post-docs with zero experience as an instructor of record, which is apparent from a CV and a disqualification on our metrics (but maybe not from yours). And it takes maybe 2 minutes per applicant to determine if they meet that minimal bar.

          And then half of the ones who we would do skype/zoom interviews break what I consider the basic rule of academic interviewing: don’t be an asshole. Having done the first-round interview multiple times on both sides, the big thing is to plan for fewer questions and allow follow ups. If you end up going under time, the candidate should have enough questions to fill that gap. If they don’t, I take that as a red flag.

          I am on the job market *yet again* and for my upcoming first round interview, I have 6 questions that I’d like to have answers to, but I know I’ll maybe get to ask 1. And definitely make sure that there’s time for your candidate to ask one! Even if it means going 2-3 minutes over.

    3. Academia Escapee*

      Having been an admin on many higher ed search committees, I will tell you that scheduling was our biggest obstacle. At your next meeting, be sure to nail down dates and times when EVERYONE will be available for interviews, and block out everyone’s calendars. That way the time is sitting there when you have candidates to interview. It’s incredibly frustrating to whittle down the applications to a manageable number of interviews only to find that nothing can be scheduled until 4 weeks out because of conflicting calendars.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Ooooh yes, this is a great point. I will make sure to schedule as many meetings out as we can.

    4. higher ed hiring*

      The first meeting is to make sure we are all on the same page with the job description and priority, our committee members are required to read all of the CVs and cover letter. (we had over 100 applicants) As chair, I create a rubric on a spread sheet that includes required (degrees and experience) and preferred. Each committee member ranks the applicant one to five then submits their top five to the chair. The second meeting is coming up with the 5 to 6 for a preliminary Skype interview. Three will be invited to come to campus for an on site interview, job talk, meet the department marathon.
      Second, put all meetings and interviews on the calendar now.

    5. Reliquary*

      Finally, a question directly in my wheelhouse! :)
      1) Search calendar. Make one with dates for all the important parts of the process, and make sure you schedule up-front the meetings that will need all the committee members in attendance. Share this calendar (or even create the calendar) with your administrative assistant.
      2) Candidate evaluation rubric. Ideally, make it when you’re writing the ad. I love the format at this link, because it enables weighting, and (literally) values diversity.
      https://advance.uncc.edu/sites/advance.uncc.edu/files/media/198998.pdf

      Best practices:
      (a) conduct preliminary interviews via Skype/Zoom. Conference interviews are prohibitive for many (grad students, scholars from abroad, etc.).
      (b) prepare for questions from both applicants and recommenders, and deal with them all even-handedly. Create a cut-and-paste document with responses that you use over and over.
      (c) don’t reinvent the wheel. Google for examples of things you’ll need. I initially found that rubric online, and I have since modified it to fit a few searches.