open thread – October 4-5, 2019

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

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

{ 2,058 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric S.*

    How do you talk to your manager, HR, and your colleagues about a family crisis (multiple sick and possibly dying relatives), and handling it long term?

    This week, both my father and my uncle went to the hospital. My father had a stroke and may recover to some extent, but my uncle doesn’t have much longer. When I found out I spoke to my manager, his manager, and HR about it, and they are all extremely supportive (I’m pretty close with my boss, which would be awkward in many cases, but we’re both the only people who can do our respective jobs for this company in the USA). I’m doing everything “by the book,” and I’ve been told to take whatever time I need. I also have worked here for about a year and a half, so I qualify for FMLA.

    But, i don’t want to be out of work so long — I need to do something other than sit with them in the hospital for own mental health. Since my father had a stroke, he’s going to be in the hospital, then in a rehabilitation center, for weeks or months, if he’s ever okay enough to live outside of one. I can also do my job remotely and my company is pretty flexible with WFH (brought my work laptop just in case). But, I also don’t want to make people at work think I don’t care about my family, or that I’m a workaholic.

    How should I phrase this to management and HR?

    1. IL JimP*

      Have you talked with HR about intermittent FMLA? That way you can go out when you need to and work when you don’t

      1. Eric S.*

        Intermittent FMLA is actually something I didn’t know about.

        It looks like he won’t be going home for a while, if ever (this is his fourth stroke; he’s paralyzed on the right side of his body and cannot speak). So it’s more likely that I wouldn’t need FMLA for a while, and what’d be more useful is them being flexible with remote work (I can’t spend all day in a hospital; I’m aware that’s somewhat selfish but they are incredibly depressing places). We don’t have a written policy for it, but OTOH I’m very good at what I do (basically, very senior software engineer and data scientist), difficult to replace, and get on wonderfully with everyone. It would ease my nerves a little if it got a green light from my boss & HR.

        Is there any specific way to present that, or just say it like that? Their job is totally different from mine and I want to make things as easy as possible for everyone.

        1. Joy*

          Just wanted to say that it’s not selfish to know your own limits when it comes to your mental health. I’m sending you and your family a million positive vibes.

          1. Joielle*

            Seconding this. It’s not selfish at all – you have to keep it together for you AND your dad right now, and your mental health is a major priority. Being a caregiver is draining. There are plenty of doctors and nurses in the hospital to provide all the care your dad needs for the times when you can’t be there.

            My husband has a chronic illness that occasionally results in him spending days in the hospital, and I also can’t just sit there. It ramps up my own anxiety considerably, which doesn’t work when I’m responsible for both of us, his medications, our house, pets, etc while he’s incapacitated. I take at least 2-3 hours each day to go home, take a long shower, walk the dog, have coffee with a friend, read, and yeah, do some work. I think people understand that work helps take your mind off things and will follow your lead.

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I’m sure your husband appreciates it, too. When I am in the hospital, my husband goes to work, comes by in the evening to have dinner and watch TV with me for a few hours, and then goes home to sleep. It’s great that he would rather be spending the time with me, but him working and making sure we have health insurance does me a lot more good than him taking unpaid time off work and possibly putting his job in jeopardy to sit at my bedside all day. Sure, I’d love to have him there, but I’d rather know that I have health insurance and won’t end up with a $100,000 bill.

        2. nonymous*

          Usually what I see is people using intermittent FMLA during maternity leave, so the parent will be out of work completely for 2 – 4 weeks and then come back part time after that until baby care is settled or they run out of leave.

          In your situation specifically, I might ask for an “alternative work schedule” with scheduled check-ins every couple weeks to revise. So for now it may make sense for you to work remotely 7 – 12 & 5 – 8 local time, which would let you go eat lunch with Dad, check in with his medical team & whatever other arrangements which need to happen during office hours. Depending on the schedule of his facility it might be easier to catch Drs/therapists at a certain time of day.

          My tip to you about hospitals/rehab centers == depressing is to have a plan going in. With my own Dad my three goals for every visit was to 1. something routine/bonding, like eat a take out meal at the bedside or knit while watching the news 2. something to provide mental stimulus, like a crossword puzzle or reading the newspaper – so that Dad could mull on something after I left and 3. check in with his care team, including making them feel appreciated or reducing their workload some.

          1. Shiny Onix*

            Nonymous wow I’ve never seen anything like this plan for hospital visits before and I wish I’d had it up my sleeve in the past. Thank you for sharing.

          2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            For care homes especially, it’s best practice to schedule your visits at random, so the staff can’t “guess” when you’re coming. That way if there’s an issue with their level care, or one shift of employees is not up to par, they won’t be able to hide it from you ahead of your visits.

            Which works great if you’re using flextime for work. Tuesday morning works well one week but there’s a really important meeting Tuesday morning next week so you come Tuesday night instead.

          3. Mama Bear*

            Agreed. We had someone who was out often to care for their mother who was battling cancer. Two things came from that – we got a temp to help out with coverage for that job, and the person was able to take leave as needed/when needed to support their family. I strongly suspect it was intermittent FMLA. Tell them what you need and discuss options with your boss. It doesn’t have to be 12 weeks, and it doesn’t have to be all at once.

          4. school of hard knowcs*

            Wow thanks so much for that, I am responsible for my Mom who has dementia and I get stuck with what to do with her and how to handle her.

        3. blackcatlady*

          I’m so sorry about your father. I bet he is frustrated at his situation too! At the risk of sounding uncaring, I don’t think you need to sit bedside 8 hours a day. Your dad may be drifting in and out of naps. Since he can’t speak, it’s one sided conversations from you. Could you go in for an hour in the morning and read the newspaper to him? Then come back in the afternoon and give him highlights of your day? He will know you love him and care but it could be a strain on both of you for continuous bedside visiting. Best wishes!

        4. Senor Montoya*

          Intermittent FMLA is great. I used it for a number of years to take care of my child. In fact, even when my child was relatively well and did not need me taking time of work to care for him, I re-upped it every year because if he had a downturn, it was in place. There’s a bit of a time lag while you gather paperwork and it gets processed (and that’s happening while you are stressed and anxious and needing time to care for that person), so best to get it set up ahead of time.

          Intermittent can be set up as X hours per week on such and so schedule, or it can be flexible. Depends on what the employer allows. Sounds like your boss and HR are helpful!

          You might also see if your employer has a donated leave bank. If you use up your leave, then you may be able to draw on leave donated by others. This was also helpful to me, as continuing to have leave = I got paid and, more important, since I wasn’t on leave without pay, I continued to get benefits (= health insurance, retirement contribs, etc). The 4 months I used all that up and was on LWP was killer. (Cost us over $30K in lost pay, lost benefits, additional expenses such as paying premium to be on my spouse’s insurance.)

          And…yes, being able to go to work when it was intermittent FMLA was a godsend. You don’t stop worrying, but it moves away from the front of your mind. It kept me occupied and it was a place where I could be competent and in control, you know? Because I sure didn’t have much control over what was happening with my kid.

        5. mrs__peel*

          Intermittent FMLA and remote work sounds extremely reasonable and like a good idea. There’s a limited amount that you can do if someone is in the hospital or rehab facility, and they may get tired out with too many visitors staying too long.

          You may have gone through this before, but (from my family experience), if there IS a chance he’ll be discharged home, you may want to save a fair bit of FMLA time/ PTO days to help him settle in. There’s a whole lot to do then (e.g., going through discharge instructions at the facility, physically getting the person into the car and out again, setting up home safety equipment, arranging for home help if needed, etc.)

          Talking with a medical social worker can also be extremely helpful if you’re feeling at sea and need more information about resources.

      2. Lime Lehmer*

        I used intermittent FMLA caring for my father. Once the leave is approved, you can use it in a rolling manner throughout a year. My office bought me a laptop and I was revising budgets at Dad’s bedside while he slept – this was my choice and my Dad was glad I was working, it made him feel less like a drag on my time. I also used FMLA to deal with Dr. Apts, and the inevitable emergencies like falls or infections.

        You have to think of your family situation as a marathon and not a sprint. I used this language with my boss and co-workers when discussing caring for an aging family member. It seems to ameliorate the concerns as to why I might be at work rather than the bedside.

    2. SleepySally*

      I would just be honest and say that you appreciate any help or flexibility they’re able to give you, and that working actually gives you something positive to focus on to help you cope. Hang in there, and I hope your father has a smooth recovery!

    3. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Can you flex hours at all? That’s what I’m doing next week- there’s a political rally blocks from work and I want to avoid both harassment and traffic so I am leaving early while working more earlier in the week.

    4. Troutwaxer*

      “I need to do something other than sit with them in the hospital for own mental health.”

      How you handle this, both emotionally and with regard to things like hospital visits, is up to you. I’m the long-term partner of someone with major health issues, and I know that I handle things differently than other long-term partners – and that’s fine. For example, I won’t stay in a surgery waiting room. I go out, do some errands, have breakfast, then return fifteen minutes before surgery is over so the nurse can call me.

      You have to find what works for you.

      In work terms, maybe you can take on something long-term which will allow you to take time off when you need to, but also contribute. So you can give up the Llama-Grooming reports which are due once a week and take over the Yak-Grooming reports which are due once a month – or however that would work in your case.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Also, see about talking with a therapist or counselor for yourself. You’re going through a lot! I found that meeting with a counselor was so very helpful. You can talk about stuff with someone who’s outside the situation, you can say things you feel you can’t say to your family or friends, it’s time that’s focused on *you*.

    5. Venus*

      I have known a number of people in similar situations, who explained that work provided them with some stability in their lives and a predictable way to engage their brain, so they wanted to continue to work because it gave them mental health benefits (while having flexibility to take leave as needed). It’s a reasonable request! Medical problems often involve long medical appointments, or waiting times, where the sick person wants company but isn’t well enough to engage with you for a long period of time, in which case having a laptop and doing some work might be ideal.

      1. Eric S.*

        I guess my ideal (weird word to use here) arrangement for the time being would be to mostly continue working, but remotely except for our important meetings and interviews. Or maybe even work half days in the office. This is so I could visit my father and uncle for a couple hours a day and help my grandmother out with her errands (she’s 87 and relied on my father for a lot of help).

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          That seems like a completely reasonable arrangement, and back when I was a manager I would totally have allowed it for somebody in a situation like yours. But do talk to your HR and see if it makes sense to start using your FMLA time now. You don’t actually have to take your 12 week FMLA leave all at once, you can use it intermittently for a few hours a week if you need to.

        2. Observer*

          That sounds like a very sensible set up. It gives you the ability to keep working, doing something useful / productive, and be there for your family at the same time.

          I hope things go as well as possible.

        3. Senor Montoya*

          That sounds very reasonable. I’d say also talk with your manager about revisiting your plan after a couple of months, in case you find it is not working as you hoped and/or because your dad’s situation has changed.

    6. Not All*

      When my grandpa was dying of cancer, I quite opening told everyone in the office that I was losing my mind sitting just trying to read a book or stare at the wall for 12 – 16 hrs a day in his hospital room. He was asleep most of the time so we weren’t chatting. I wasn’t very efficient, so my boss and I agreed I’d charge 3/4 of my hours to work. Everyone understood and I could IM with work friends.

    7. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I’ve been in similar situations. With coworkers I usually frame it as the family taking turns to keep our relative company, and I mention that when it’s not my turn, I’m really glad to have work to do that keeps me from dwelling on my worry. If you’re planning on doing remote work from the hospital or the rehab center, just sort of drop in conversation that the relative you’re spending time with naps a good deal or spends part of the day in physical therapy or having tests done, so even when you’re with them there’s bound to be some down time and it’s nice to have work to do to keep yourself occupied. And if you’re not able to have those conversations with your coworkers on your own, I’m sure your boss will keep them updated to whatever extent you’d like him to.

      Also, hugs from a random internet stranger if you want them. This is a tough situation and I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

    8. Dust Bunny*

      My mother went through a series of serious surgeries and rehabilitations (a long time ago; she’s fine now) and I went to work as usual as much as possible. The routine and distraction were stabilizing, and of course she was in good hands in the hospital or with nursing care. I did get asked a few times if I was taking enough time off but everyone backed off when I assured them I appreciated the concern but I was taking what I needed and liked having something else to think about.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I think most people understand the need to do what you can when you can do it. I had a direct report whose mother was undergoing cancer treatment and it had always been just the two of them, so it was pretty rough. I told her to take her laptop with her to chemo if she wanted to, work on what she could, just keep me posted. Every time I had a task to assign to her I checked in and I gave her longer than usual timelines. I think most people would be surprised if someone in your position DIDN’T want to work from a coffee shop or even come in every once in a while. Caregiving is strenuous.

      So my advice is, really, just keep your manager in the loop. If you want to come in, just say so, and if anyone questions you (which they likely won’t), you just needed a break. Another co-worker’s mother passed away recently and she needed to come to the office because it was the only place where she could get away from the arrangements and her kids and husband without interruption. That’s not callous or cold, that’s self-care.

    10. Koala dreams*

      You can ask for a flexible schedule or ask for a couple of hours off every week. That way you’ll have time to go to the hospital or go to appointments (rehabilitation, visiting caretaking facilities, preparations for a funeral eventually), but you’ll still have work every week to keep you grounded. There is no set time you need to take off for family emergencies, it depends on the circumstances, so don’t worry about that. (At least, it isn’t in my culture.)

    11. Christina*

      Another vote for FMLA here. And just because you apply and are approved does not mean that you have to use it.

    12. qtippy*

      What a tough situation. I would also vote intermediate FMLA.

      Just this year my father was diagnosed with cancer and intermediate FMLA was a lifesaver. It allows you to take whatever chunks of time you need. Work on good days, leave on bad days.

      I was able to leave to talk to doctors, take him to appointments, whatever we needed.

    13. Sharrbe*

      A lot of people have had this experience and would understand. You can’t sit by a hospital bed all day without anything to distract you. It’s more emotionally and physicallt exhausting than working a full day if you ask me. People who’ve never experienced that and may judge you for working? They’ve been fortunate enough to not have to spend days, weeks, months in such a situation. However, I highly doubt you will encounter that. If you are really worrried, there are enough openings in your daily communications with people to slip in a “I’ll be available to take X work. It will keep me busy while dad’s asleep, in rehab, etc.”

    14. Heat's Kitchen*

      I’d just be honest with your team. Unless you are planning on taking intermittent FMLA, I don’t know that HR needs to be involved.

      Here’s an example. My manager at my last company had a daughter go through a very serious health scare. She had to be in the hospital for months. She usually worked at the hospital in between doctor visits and procedures. She was online most of the time during the day and sometimes in the evenings. No one had a problem with it.

      If you have an understanding culture and can work remotely, I’d just ask for the ability to be flexible, and work when you can remotely. Just make sure you take time off if you need it to digest the information. Sorry for all you’re going through.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        I’d sign up for the intermittent FMLA even if you think you are just going to flex your work, because you don’t know what may happen and it’s really useful to have it in place in case you unexpectedly need it.

        1. Heat's Kitchen*

          I would second this. But ideally, you don’t have to use it all the time. Thanks for the clarification!

    15. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

      My grandfather and my uncle died within six weeks of each other and both funerals required getting on planes and leaving the region. I was younger and inexperienced at the time and it was the peak of the recession, but I will never forget how cold and unhelpful the HR team were at the place I was working (nor will I ever forget their names, Arya Stark style). There were only 3 bereavement days a year total, even if you had taken nothing in the previous 3 years of working there, and had never asked for more time off before. I was lucky I had a few vacation days left but I regret not pushing back more. It sounds like your HR team are the opposite and have some compassion so I would absolutely encourage you to ask about intermittent FMLA and working remotely when possible. No decent person at work is going to think less of you for taking this time. My husband took his laptop to the hospital and nursing facility when his mother was in her final months and worked when she took nap breaks or had tests etc. This is not uncommon and any workplace that gives you anything but support over it is probably not a good one.

      1. Eric S.*

        I’m so sorry for you.

        I’ve been through that before. My father was hospitalized for a series of strokes a few years back. Combination of me being younger and not knowing how to handle my emotions, lack of knowledge about the options available to me, and a boss who was trying really hard to get me out and knew how to abuse the system (I’m pretty certain I could’ve gotten a better deal; either more severance, guaranteed transfer out, something else if I’d documented properly; as I was the only person of my ethnicity in the department) meant I was in a pretty bad way.

        I’m older, wiser, and honestly better at my job now. I’m on track for a promotion, never gotten anything less than a stellar review, and everyone loves me. We’ve been trying to find another person to do my same job because the workload just is too much for one guy and they’re aware of that. Honestly, it helps that I work for a European country; IME Italians, Brits, etc. have a much saner approach to work/life balance. Here, it’s not “I don’t want to see you get up from your desk until everything is done,” but rather “sucks that we’ve gotta put in some more hours to hit this deadline, but let’s go out for a burger then get back to work. Also don’t worry about working from home tomorrow.”

        Because this job is wonderful, I’m also really invested in keeping it and not burning any of the goodwill I have from everyone here. I’ve been in contact with my boss and letting him know the situation every couple hours. I plan to tell him I’m going to come back to the office Monday and I want to chat with him and HR about FMLA so we know everything’s golden.

    16. Tupac Coachella*

      I’m reading through these comments carefully, because I have a family member trying to survive cancer right now, and it’s been tough at work. So far, I’ve told my boss so I can relax and know that if I’m needed to help out, Boss will work with me. I haven’t raised the possibility of what I’ll need if he passes, because frankly I’m not ready to accept that possibility yet, but his condition is such that the minute I say what he has, people know it’s on the table. (My boss is also a medical professional, which helps some.) Otherwise I’ve been fairly quiet about it, and selective about who I tell because, like you said, I need to think about other things. We’re in a place where we’re just waiting to see what happens next, and I just don’t want to be asked about it all the time.

      I can offer this advice: be open to changes in your own needs. Even if you know how you normally handle stress or loss, every situation has its own constellation of factors, and you might find that your needs are different now than in the past. When I lost a family member a few years ago, I tried to power through the next day (because what am I going to do sitting at the house, cry? Um, yes.). I’m forever grateful to the boss who said “no, go home” while I was still functional because she knew me well enough to see that I wasn’t ok. While you’re able to be in work mindset, set up some contingency options in case you need more time to take care of yourself than you expect.

    17. miss my Dad*

      As my dad was dying, I asked my bosses if I could go home to spend his last weeks with him, but also if I could work as I needed to–to get my mind off all that’s involved in watching someone lose their fight with cancer. I was non-exempt at the time, and didn’t expect support, but they were willing to let me use my daily, routine tasks–just a few hours every day, for a month–to get my mind off the waiting and his suffering and my mom’s grief, as long as I logged the hours I spent working. I really needed a mind break, and yes, *every day,* especially since the timeline was not definitive, and that’s how I phrased my request.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I telecommuted from the hospital after my elderly mother had her stroke. I don’t recommend it. I was badly distracted, made mistakes, and had significant stress-induced gaps in my memory that made it hard for me to find those mistakes.
      I was in a similar boat — I just didn’t know how to occupy myself for the waking hours when I wasn’t at home and wasn’t at work. I still don’t know what I should have done, but trying to work wasn’t it.

      1. Eric S.*

        I get you. I think it’s different for everyone.

        Last time I went through this (he had a series of strokes in 2015), I completely shut myself off from the outside world, and I think that was worse. I spent about three months either at the hospital, running errands, or playing video games, and that definitely messed with me. I was more anxious and paranoid than I ever have been during that time and the couple months following. I also had a much less supportive workplace back then, though.

    19. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      Is your only concern that people will think you don’t care about your family? No one will think this. Just make arrangements to work remotely when needed. Having employees deal with family emergencies, illnesses, etc. is a normal part of the work world, and your boss, head boss, HR all know this. They will not judge you for wanting to be with your father, and will likely appreciate that you are still doing work for your company when you are able.

      1. Eric S.*

        > Is your only concern that people will think you don’t care about your family?

        It’s a big concern, but not the only one. I’ve gotten a lot of “just take whatever time you need, we want the best for you and know how valuable you are” remarks over the last few days.

    20. Shoes On My Cat*

      Most people totally get that doing one’s job, even if limiting hours, gives a person a mental break from worry, fear & grief, as well as a productive outlet for energy. If you just say something like that to your boss/HR/coworkers you care to talk with, most will get it and respect your choice to care for your family and still work for your own mental health. Best wishes!!

    21. Bopper*

      What is your goal?
      My Dad had brain cancer (from lung cancer) and I helped out by coming up on weekends and being with him and helping with him so my stepmom got a break. If he was in the hospital, I would just sit with him quietly and help as needed.

      So who else can help out? Are you the only one?
      WHat support do your father and uncle need? Just companionship? or can you do things like take care of their houses?

      My daughter was in the hospital with a kidney infection…i brought my laptop and just sat and worked. If she wanted to talk or needed help I would help her.

      So figure out 1) How much hospital time you can deal with 2) What they need 3) How much time you can spend helping without getting overwhelmed 4) Do you need to be the one to do things (like mow their lawns) or can you outsource it?

    22. ErgoBun*

      Honestly, don’t worry about special phrasing. You are a valued, performing employee at an organization that sounds like it cares about its employees. Just ask for what you need, and let HR and your boss decide how they can give that to you. You don’t have to figure this out on your own. “What would work best for me is to be able to work remotely at some times to cover responsibilities A, B, and C, and take FMLA leave at other times. How can we make that work?” — That’s all you need to say to start it off.

    23. CallofDewey*

      No advice, but my grandfather went through the same thing and it was so hard. I completely get the just wanting to work through it bit. Best wishes!

    24. Carrotstick21*

      Hi – I’m an HR professional. Your request is very common and it sounds like they are doing the right thing by working with you to be compassionate and see what your capacity is or is not. Working from home on a temporary basis makes sense – start with HR and see if it is feasible. FMLA leave can also be taken intermittently as needed, so that’s an option as well.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. Best wishes to you and your family.

    25. Libretta*

      I agree with other comments about intermittent leave – it was very helpful for me in caring for my mom. We have a whole Leave Team who helped me through the paper work, but if your company doesn’t have that, maybe suggest it as an option?

      For talking to my team – at our regular meeting I just said that I was going on intermittent leave, and that Big Boss told me to take the time that I need. That I was going to take her at her word on that and so I would be here when I can, available off-site when I can, but that I needed to take time for my family and so I may be slow to respond sometimes. I told them that I would put my ‘away’ message on my email if I was definitely not going to respond.

      I felt like putting it that way put my family first, and that I was coming in to work because there was work to be done. It let me work when I was able, and I felt comfortable just walking out the door when there was a crisis call. With using my away message, it let people know without me having to announce it that things were serious.

      As far as I could tell everyone was fine with it – if they weren’t it never got back to me.

      Sending positive thoughts your way – this is a very tough time.

    26. TootsNYC*

      You said you’re worried that people will think you don’t care about your family.

      But I think most people will understand the idea that you might need an escape to normalcy. And that you don’t want to blow vacation days or time off early on.

      Just say those things–don’t hide them. They’re perfectly ordinary and respectable.

    27. DrRat*

      So, from the you didn’t ask, but I’ll tell you anyway…sounds like from the rest of the comments, you have sorted out your options for work. So just some things to think about for the remainder of this mess:
      If your uncle has very little time left, I would strongly encourage you to think about hospice. They have a team of people (social workers, counselors, etc.) who can continue to provide support to your aunt not only while he is still alive but for a year after his death. At age 87, sounds like she will need it. As for your father, it can be really awkward spending hospital time with someone who can’t speak. But medications make many people too fuzzy to read. If he has any particular interests, he might like it if you read to him at times. For instance, if he likes sports, bring in the sports news and update him. My late hubby was soothed by the sound of my voice and just liked having me bring in books to read to him. Also, don’t forget about music if he likes music.
      Also, if your father is going to be in long term, whether in the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, you can do things that will insure the staff will go the extra mile for him. Hospital workers are frequently overworked and have to put up with a lot of verbal – and sometimes physical – abuse. Say Please and Thank You. If your father needs an extra blanket, walk up to the nurse’s station and say he needs a blanket and ask where the closet is so you can get it, instead of asking them. If he needs ice in his pitcher, ask where the ice machine is instead of asking an aide for it. You will get a good reputation and so will your father. Bring in a cheap box of candy or an inexpensive bouquet of flowers with a thank you card and drop it off at the nurse’s station. I’ve done things like this in the past and literally sat there with a family member while the staff chased everyone else out when visiting hours were over – but would say to me, “Oh, not you, hon, stay as long as you want!” Know the system, work the system!

    28. NoLongerYoung*

      Sending you a hug. Spent 9 mo+ of last year, working 3/4 time and caring for husband with terminal cancer. I had a pretty spectacular boss (and some great credibility and good-will at work). The boss took on the externally vital management of the head council of llama-opinion experts, and I continued the behind the scenes llama planning. Another person was brought in for my TSP reports. It was also understood that when I just couldn’t, any more, I’d let them know. But some days, work was my mental health. I understand, and so will they. No matter how rough work was, or stressful, my home life kept it in perspective. On the other hand, it was great to have “something” that actually went well when I put my hand to it. I hope you have a great boss, too.
      I send you comforting vibes from this corner of the internet.

    29. Database Developer Dude*

      Holy hell, Eric S. So sorry for your troubles, and your impending loss. I can barely imagine what you must be going through. I was 17 when my paternal grandmother and a maternal uncle died in the same week. I was out of school, of course. I hope you have the support you need.

  2. MOAS*

    General question for y’all here…what differentiates between a manager who is good but has flaws/quirks, versus a manager who is bad at their job?

    There’s no background or anything to this question, just wondering what the general idea is.

    1. finally october*

      How hard do they make my life?

      I’ve had a manager who was bad at being a manager, he’d promise me support and not give it, etc etc, but overall, he wasn’t terrible. He got his job done. He was probably like 5 management classes away from being a good manager. He could have improved if he’d recognized there was a problem and did the work to fix it.

      Contrast to my ex-manager. Who caused me so much stress, I now take daily pills to deal with the medical consequences of it. Turns out a bad enough boss can really make his mark. And there’s no management training that could have fixed that guy.

      1. a good mouse*

        Ugh this is the situation I’m in right now. It’s been making me physically sick from stress on and off for the past year.

        1. Bzr57*

          I had a manager who made me feel so sick and anxious at work every day. I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for 4 months, lost my appetite, had no emotional interest in anything. I stuck it out until I found another job and still gave a 2 weeks notice. But leaving there was the best thing for my life. Don’t stay too long in a job that is hurting you, even if it pays well. There is so much more to life.

    2. CatCat*

      I have noticed that managers who are NOT rigid rule followers are superior to ones who are. My current and last manager both treated their employees like human beings. No one is perfect so they had their flaws, but they would always put humans first.

    3. voyager1*

      I think it depends on the quirks and what their job is in regarding subordinates. There are a lot of managers who are great at getting deliverables to upper management but for example could not to save their life manage their subordinates when their is a problem between two individuals.

      I think a lot of people go into management thinking they are a rockstar employee so of course they will be awesome at managing. However in reality, what made them say a good engineer isn’t the same skills that will make them good at managing a group of engineers. Bad managers never figure this out whereas good ones realize they have to change and learn new skills.

      Without more specifics of what you are dealing with that is probably about all I can say

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Is the manager’s only job to be a manager? Or does she do other stuff, too? It is possible for someone to be good at being a manager (for example, balancing too much free rein / micromanaging) but bad at other aspects of her job (balancing a budget).

    5. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

      IMO, it’s about the impact, and there’s no hard-and-fast rule but there are some guiding questions. Are the flaws/quirks mildly annoying, or a real hindrance? How well is the team able to perform in spite of the flaws/quirks? Is progress being made and are goals being met? If so, how is the team holding up? Is the progress happening because of generally good leadership and direction or because the team is overextending themselves trying to make things work?

      This line of questions brought to you by reflection on Kalros, the Mother of All Thresher Maws’s Year of Three Bosses.

        1. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

          Oh, you’re welcome! I enjoy making people laugh even more than I enjoy ruining a Mako driver’s day.

    6. Kora*

      Are they clear in their own mind about their expectations, and do they communicate them? Do they meet with their reports on the regular? Do they give both positive and negative feedback when it’s warranted? For me those are the baseline things for good management, and someone who neglects them is bad at the job. If they’re good at all of them they’re probably a decent manager regardless of other flaws, unless it’s somthing really serious like being a chronic yeller or extreme micromanagement.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is where I fall too. Quirks and flaws to me mean they prefer text to email, prefer certain terminology or formats over others, or other minor things that an employee can easily adapt to without causing stress or irritation.

        My worst manager wasn’t bad by any real metric, at least on a daily basis. He was pleasant, seemed to be on top of things, and probably met or exceeded expectations when reviewed by his own manager. But he had no interest in me, my skills, my career progression, and the monthly 1:1 meetings he was supposed to have with everyone happened once in six months. (Others had the same experience) He put me at risk of a layoff (which then happened) by downgrading my relevance to the group without warning. My performance eval was just as good as ever, but my overall rating became “disposable” and there was not only no conversation about it beforehand, there were no opportunities to discuss it afterwards. He basically hid from me after that, and then wasn’t even the one to have the layoff conversation.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          My worst manager wasn’t bad by any real metric, at least on a daily basis. He was pleasant, seemed to be on top of things, and probably met or exceeded expectations when reviewed by his own manager. But he had no interest in me, my skills,

          This was my last manager. She was great with the rest of our team because they were her friends, but with me? Nope – she pretty much had me sitting around twiddling my thumbs all day with very little to do. It made me wonder why she even hired me in the first place. Needless to say, I began a soft job search six months into the job (it was a very leisure job search – I may have sent out one application a month) and launched a full scale job search in January of this year. I had a job offer four months later and was gone by May.

    7. LKW*

      I suppose it depends on the areas of conflict or incompetence. You can have a manager who is on top of every detail but is vindictive, takes credit for the good, points the finger for the bad, and pushes a team beyond capacity for limited benefit to the company or client. So while the results may be great from a project perspective, the other result may be poor morale and a high turnover which adds time and stress to a team.

      I would say a good manager with faults acknowledges said faults and asks for help to minimize the impact of those faults (reminders, alerts, check points, whatever). A manager may not understand the impact of decisions or issues but if they reach out to their team to clarify – they can get the information needed and keep the team involved in the process. A manager may not be able to get through all of their email but they can clarify what is a priority and ask team members to reach out via text, IM, phone or in person to address issues that need attention and then be responsive and open when team members reach out.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I agree with you on the importance of acknowledging faults. My old boss would probably rate himself a 9 on communication, but all of my colleagues and I would rate him a 3 at best. He doesn’t notice his flaws, so he can’t work on improving them.

    8. Kiwiii*

      I’ve had a couple really good managers (currently and 2 jobs ago), one who was good but not great (last job) and one who was terrible (3 jobs ago) — the really good managers found ways to troubleshoot and help me get better at things, let me know when i’d done something really well, and actively helped me gain skills that would be useful in current and future roles. Last Job’s manager was kind and liked me and always tried to get me more interesting work, but wasn’t great at time management, was rarely available, and sometimes overly bothered by small mistakes/changes/misunderstandings — while I would have stayed with her longer, I didn’t feel as though I was being managed well. 3 Jobs ago manager was Bad — he changed the rules several times without telling me for what I was supposed to be doing, was let other managers be overly critical of me (she accused me repeatedly of being impolite for not saying “please” before requests, though I always did it kindly and to save time and said thank you afterwards), he would say inappropriate and bullying things, and would dangle advancement or higher level duties in front of me and then change his mind or harp on how I wasn’t good/fast enough at the tasks I was meant to be trained in (despite learning half of them quicker and more independently than anyone had guessed I would and despite not being trained properly on the other half).

      The difference is that while the flaws/quirks may not make having the manager particularly enjoyable — a bad manager is more actively detrimental.

    9. CM*

      Do you trust their decision-making process, and do most of the decisions seem to makes sense? Would the people reporting to them describe their relationship as positive or neutral rather than negative? Are they hitting the targets they set out to hit — or, if not, are they able to problem-solve to change that?

      If the answer to all of those questions was yes, I wouldn’t be super concerned. If the answer to one of them was no, I’d want to look closer.

    10. Colette*

      I’d say good managers:
      – treat every member of the team fairly and respectfully
      – hold everyone to high but reasonable standards (which may not be the same for everyone)
      – shelter the team from any external chaos as much as possible
      – set clear goals (and don’t change them unless there is a good reason to do so)
      – trust the judgement of their team (unless there is a reason why they can’t) especially when it comes to things like how much work something is
      – understand that people make mistakes, and support their employees when they make a mistake
      – encourage their employees to take time off and detach from work
      – cross-train people so that no one can hoard information/no one is irreplacable

      1. Zephy*

        Shielding the team from external chaos is a big one, and you really don’t appreciate that until you have a manager who’s bad at it. I had one who was really bad at it. I’m still not sure what his goal was – was he trying to vent his frustration with his superiors by passing those feelings on to his direct reports (which is like, ten kinds of inappropriate)? Was he aiming for “transparency” and landing on “petty” instead? I don’t doubt that his direct supervisor being an unfathomable a-hole had a lot to do with it – honestly, said grandboss was the actual problem, but that doesn’t change the fact that after the manager that hired me left and was replaced with Transparency Stan, the team had 100% turnover (including management) within 2 years.

    11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Things that are quirky are things you can easily enough work around, things like formatting preferences or who are a little extra. But they don’t interfere with your ability to do your job, they don’t make it more difficult to get what you need.

      I can do whatever you want really and tweak how things are done, as long as they’re still done correctly, fully and legally, etc. And they don’t take a ton of extra time because you need to say be involved with every single tiny step along the way. I don’t do micromanaging, that’s bad managing.

      1. zora*

        This is exactly how I was going to put it, but you did it much more succinctly ;)

        Quirks are things everyone can work around, maybe take a little more time, but not much, and everyone is still able to be effective and the final product of the work is good.
        Bad management is when it’s impacting everyone’s ability to actually finish work and get it out the door (and get paid for it, in the case of a for profit)

    12. LadyByTheLake*

      A bad manager makes their employees’ jobs more difficult. Micromanages, doesn’t give complete information, doesn’t protect their employees, doesn’t deal with problems.

    13. Jennifer*

      I think in general the answer is you make the difference. Some quirks match with my quirks and others drive me crazy.

    14. PolarVortex*

      How they treat you. A quirky or not perfect manager may mean you have to change how you communicate information to them, or need someone to balance them out (one manager didn’t understand morale but delegated that to me), or always needs to play devil’s advocate.

      But if they don’t appreciate you, if they don’t recognize that you bring your own skill set, or don’t trust you to know your own area, that’s just not a good manager. I’ve had plenty of odd duck managers, and I’ve also had sexist managers. Or managers who believed stalking was okay when the stalker was a customer. Or managers who didn’t trust me, spending several years in my role, to be the person who understands my area of expertise and instead always went against my advice and was baffled when it failed. (And I laughed and rolled my eyes in the corner.)

      1. Fikly*

        I had a manager who was super nice and appreciate, but did nothing to solve any of the problems the team under him faced, or protect us from those above him.

        I never did find out if he was powerless or if he just did not care to do his job, or what.

        Nice and appreciative only gets you so far.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      A good manager has self-awareness to know to work at her quirks and flaws. You can explain things to her or ask her about things.

      A bad manager not only lacks awareness but also creates new quirks and flaws almost daily. Sometimes HR or the big bosses can’t get through to her either.

    16. Catbug*

      I’ve had two forms of lousy manager, a couple different okay managers, and one really good one.

      Lousy Manager Type 1 was a grouchy, withdrawn absentee of boss, who didn’t engage with the team or seem to have any idea what was going on. They neither assigned work nor had a hand in protecting the team from everyone else’s requests. I once brought them a legitimate complaint: other people were piling on to my workload, to the point that I could’ve worked 60-hour weeks and still not caught up. Their response: “Find a way to do it or I’ll hire somebody who can.” I never complained again, and that manager fortunately only lasted about six more months.

      Lousy Manager Type 2 was much more personable. I actually liked them a lot, but they were two-faced, saying one thing to the team and another to the leadership. Our complaints seemed to mysteriously never reach our grandboss, so very few problems ever got fixed. When there was a major interpersonal issue, both parties were punished and the damage to team morale was never addressed.

      The Really Good Manager celebrated progress in what their employees wanted to do, set challenges that were attainable and then recognized when employees met them, and was friendly without being condescending or ignoring the fact that they had a substantial amount of power over their employees’ lives. When things went wrong, they handled it privately, and took steps to make sure the issues weren’t repeated.

      The okay managers tend to combine traits. Right now I have a manager who’s hard to communicate with, but will move mountains to fix a problem once it’s finally gotten through. What’s generally accepted is going to be so dependent on context that I don’t think a fixed list is going to help you much.

    17. Alice*

      Your question made me think of another one: can you manage well in a bad organization? Can you be a good manager in a bad organization? I’m not even sure if my two questions are the same…..

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        I think you can manage well in a bad organization, but you can’t always manage *effectively.* You can acknowledge and praise high performance, but might have the power to reward it with raises or promotions or other tangible benefits. Conversely, you can be really good about addressing performance problems, but not have the authority to implement significant consequences for poor performance. But you can still make a difference for employees. I had an issue a couple years back where upper leadership and HR handled a promotion situation really badly in a way that created an appearance of inequity, and which hurt the morale of my team. I wasn’t able to get changes made (HR refused), but describing to my team the steps I had taken in my efforts to remediate the situation made them realize that I really was going to bat for them, and I think that did help.

      2. Tau*

        It depends on the sort of badness, I think, but my guess is that a good manager can do a lot to shield his team from the effects of a bad organization but can’t get rid of it entirely. My current manager did a lot to keep the general chaos, lack of direction, and politics of current workplace from impacting us. He did such a good job at this that when he went on stress-related leave, I was really not prepared for what was about to hit me!

    18. Mama Bear*

      I had a manager that was very quirky – a little scattered, weird sense of humor – but I thought they were a good manager because at the end of the day if there was a fire, they were right there with you. If there was a problem with a client, they took the lead/heat instead of throwing the staff under the bus. If there was a discussion to be had, you could have it. This manager was also available both online and in person and made it a point to get to know the team. Firm but fair. Teachable, even, if you can reasonably and professionally prove another way of getting the job done. Willing to admit mistakes and fix them.

      Then I have had bad managers – managers who belittle, or micromanage, or fixate on small things and don’t treat you like a human being. One nagged me about my route to the office, gave me a hard time about maternity leave, and did things like bang on the locked office I was using for pumping after the kid was born. Once called me at 11PM because they were still working vs asking me the next day or sending an email. No respect for me as a person. Another was just demoralizing. They would do things like redline an entire memorandum but not want to discuss it with the person who had been writing the memos for 2 years. More than once kept me on a nonsense call over lunchtime. All they cared was they were right and you were wrong. Add to that they were always late, frequently in front of clients (but you could not be, of course). They mostly worked remote and acted like the distance between the office where the rest of us were and their home was covered in lava, so this micromanagement was cowardly handed out from afar. Never got to know the team. Higher ups must have thought they were effective, but team morale tanked and three people quit within months of each other. I’m sure it is no surprise that manager #2 declined to come to the office for my farewell and barely acknowledged that I was leaving. Did nothing to transfer my tasks to anyone and basically made me feel like I had been fired, even though I had resigned.

      I would take “quirky but reasonably effective” over “a toad in human clothing” ANY day.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Toads are excellent bog gentlefolk who help remove pests and make the environment better for all of us. Your lousy managers were reprobates who don’t even deserve the appellation of leech.

    19. Ra94*

      I think context is a huge element. I have a friend who used to be a manager in property management, and, oh man, by his own admissions, he was a TERRIBLE manager. He has serious long-term memory issues, so he’d forget to tell his team about X or Y property needing certain repairs…leading to furious tenants withholding rent, even angrier landlords threatening to sue, etc. It was a job he’d fallen into, because he was smart and academically overqualified, but it couldn’t have suited him less.

      Now he’s also in a managerial role, but in a totally different industry. It’s not high-stakes- no one will be stuck without heating if he forgets something- and his job is more to coach and support his team. He isn’t really responsible for handing out assignments, so much as getting his team to complete them, and he doesn’t deal with the general public. From the sound of it, this new role lets his great people qualities and creativity shine, and he’s a pretty great manager in this context!

    20. TootsNYC*

      If a manager’s quirks don’t actually make life that hard for me, if they do the cleanup or acknowledge, then I don’t mind.

      I don’t even mind testiness, etc.

      It’s when they blame me for things that are unfair, or when they make big mistakes and they don’t help clean them up.

    21. Akcipitrokulo*

      Considers what is best instead of reacting, supports staff when needed, honest and trusts staff to be adults.

      I can forgive a lot of quirks from someone honest & kind who genuinely does best.

    22. Kudos2MOAS*

      What differentiates between a manager who is good but has flaws/quirks, versus a manager who is bad at their job? Results!
      MOAS asked a great question, super thought provoking. Do you like working for the manager, because she’s kind and nurtures your career? Do you like having that manager working for you, because she herds the cats and finds the solutions and achieves the objectives? Because it doesn’t really matter if your boss scolds you or praises you; is woke or sexist; smells good or bad; what matter is, Do they get it done?
      If your boss treats you great and love working for her but her org unit fails and so you lose your job, she’s not a good manager. If your boss is a btihc and you hate her guts but your org unit triumphs and gets a bonus, you are on the winning team.
      I’ve been in both situations, on both sides of the management/labor divide, and the variable that makes one manager good and another one bad is always the same: RESULTS!

  3. Shark Whisperer*

    I had coffee with the person who has my old position at a toxic old job. It was highly enlightening.

    But first some background: My position at OldJob was something like Llama Grooming and Communications Specialist. They specifically wanted to hire someone with extensive llama grooming experience. People who are attracted to the llama grooming field tend to be people who enjoy being wet and dirty and active all day and having lots of close contact with llamas and other people. The job is advertised as mostly hands on llama grooming with some communications work. It turns out this particular job was only about 5% actually getting any llama time, and 95% sitting in a cube by yourself writing reports. I was fired from OldJob back in April. I was only there 8 months. I was very much not a good fit, so I was ultimately relieved when I was fired. I found another job, that was a much much better fit, about a month and a half later.

    The person who is now the Lllama Grooming and Communications Specialist sent me as email a couple weeks ago saying she had found me on LinkedIn and wanted to pick my brain about the position. (She did not know I had been fired, but I told her right away so that she would have proper context to my thoughts). I had coffee with her and it turns out she is having all the same problems that I had! She’s an expert llama groomer with little communications experience who is struggling both to learn communications stuff and being an active extrovert stuck in a sedentary solitary roll.

    I don’t know why they keep hiring llama groomers for this position! There’s been a ton of turnover in OldJob’s communications department, but OldJob doesn’t seem to be trying to do anything about it.

    Do any of you have any stories about companies repeatedly advertising their positions wrong?

    1. AnonEMoose*

      I don’t have a story about that specifically. But years ago, I was in a position where, in retrospect, I was very much set up to fail (although I don’t think it was intentional). The expectations were just very contradictory – I was supposed to simultaneously be constantly available to clients, and complete projects requiring concentration and sustained attention by specific deadlines. That…didn’t work, and they fired me. Which was both a relief and a blow – losing a job is hard, regardless.

      Anyway, some time later, I’d found a temp job (that turned into my current full time job, at which I have been happily employed for more than 10 years), and was heading out for lunch. I happened to run into someone I knew from the same place. He told me that after i’d been fired, they started “doing to me what they did to you,” and he left as a result. It was incredibly validating to hear someone else familiar with the situation say that they’d noticed what had happened and that it wasn’t ok. Also that my experience led to him reading the writing on the wall and getting out and into a better position.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about the company in this case – you owe them nothing. Either they’ll figure it out or they’ll keep losing employees. But know that you probably did help the other person realize that it’s them, not her. And that’s important, too.

      1. same HERE*

        lol, are you ME? Because almost same here, except I also had a predecessor, who ended up in mandated anger management and stress relief classes because “the job wasn’t a fit” for him either. Three bad fits with the same boss? Hmmmm…

    2. Fortitude Jones*

      I don’t have experience in this, but I can understand why your former company keeps hiring llama groomers for this role – they most likely believe (incorrectly) that anyone can write, but you can’t teach someone to do the specialized work that comes with being a llama groomer. I see this thought process all the time, and as someone who actually is in a communications-related role and who has a degree in journalism, it’s annoying. No, everyone cannot learn to write well enough to be responsible for drafting effective white papers or proposal content or campaigns and etc. What those of us who are really good at those things do is a subject matter expertise in its own right, and my manager tells me all the time he didn’t realize how hard what I did was until I came onboard and significantly improved the company’s written content.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        *but you can’t teach someone on the job how to do the specialized work that comes with being a llama groomer

        1. Shark Whisperer*

          Truth! I think you’re completely right. I just wonder how many people have to quit or be fired before they try something else.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Lol, probably a lot more because they’re trying to get two totally different jobs out of one person to save money (because that’s ultimately what it boils down to).

      2. AnonEMoose*

        I think you’re right. Why do people think writing is “easy”? If it’s a very specialized area, I’d recommend having someone with that expertise read things for accuracy, but that’s not the same as writing them. That attitude frustrates me so much!

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Why do people think writing is “easy”?

          Because you typically don’t need an advanced degree to do it or be good at it (depending on the discipline/genre you choose) and those people haven’t had to try to get paid for doing it as their sole source of income. Basically, if those people who say this had to try to survive off their writing alone, most of them would starve. However, these people typically have other job duties in addition to their written responsibilities, so because no one has ever had to tell them that they suck and subsequently reject their written work, they then think the passable or serviceable thing they’ve written is actually good when it (usually) really isn’t.

          1. The Original K.*

            Also, lots of people write every day so they think that means they must be good writers. Emails, social media posts (personal ones, not ones for the company) … in my experience, many people assume that because they can do those things, that means they can write anything. This is really, really not true.

            I remember working with a subject matter expert in a previous (toxic) job, who was one of those people who thought he was smarter than he was – he was indeed a subject matter expert in that subject, but he assumed that meant that he could do everything. And he insisted that he was a good writer, so my boss (who liked him; I did not) let him write something for a campaign. It was awful. Totally unusable. And he was indignant when we told him we couldn’t use it because no one had ever told him his writing sucked.

        2. Rex Manning*

          This is when I like to use the analogy “Just because you know how to cook, it doesn’t mean you’re a chef.”

      3. CM*

        This is a really good point, and I bet you’re right.

        I’m flashing back to all the times at my last job where we needed content on X and the higher-ups seemed to believe that the only logical solution was to have an expert on X write the content themselves instead of letting one of the writers on my team interview them and do the writing.

      4. Karen from Finance*

        Yes, this is my thought too. They probably think it’s better to hire someone who knows about llama grooming because they take for granted the communication skills required.

      5. Clisby*

        Your comment reminded me of a Wall Street Journal article I read a few years back:

        ““It’s easier to hire people who can write—and teach them how to read financial statements—rather than hire accountants in hopes of teaching them to be strong writers,” says Liz Kirschner, head of talent acquisition at Morningstar Inc., a Chicago investment-research firm. Since its founding in 1986, Morningstar has hired an unusually large number of humanities and social-sciences majors.”

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/good-news-liberal-arts-majors-your-peers-probably-wont-outearn-you-forever-1473645902

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          I’m glad to see that there seems to be a shift in the thinking in some hiring managers, though clearly, given OP’s situation, it hasn’t gone far enough yet.

          Basically, if a company wants well-written documentation, they need to hire actual writers – period. Otherwise, they need to be content with just average or barely competent.

    3. Jubilance*

      So my first job out of grad school was as a materials chemist at a defense contractor – no engineering work involved, purely laboratory chemist stuff. For some reason, that division of the company did not have a job code for “chemist” in Taleo, they only had “chemical engineer”. Well HR and the recruiting team thought those must be the same thing right? So they posted an opening for a chemical engineer position. This was a time sensitive posting because 2 of the 4 people in the lab were retiring (with firm dates) and they needed to backfill early to do some transfer of knowledge.

      They spent 8 MONTHS getting resumes and talking to candidates, only to have all their candidates turn down the job, because it wasn’t an engineering job! After 8 months, the lab team finally went to go talk to the recruiting team and realized the issue, and convinced them that an actual chemical engineer is not going to want to run FTIR and DSC samples all day. They couldn’t do anything about the job code so it was still listed as an engineering position, but they changed the description to say that it was 100% a laboratory testing role.

      I wound up interviewing with the team 1 day before half the team retired. And that’s how I got an chemical engineer job even though I switched my major from ChemE to chemistry back in undergrad.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I had that problem when my HR manager insisted we go through one of those god-awful Aerotek/Kelly/Yoh/etc agencies to hire someone for the lab. Of course, the non-scientist going through the resumes had no idea what any of the technical terms in the job description meant, so we got a trickle of poorly-fitting candidates to interview. The HR lady angrily said “what, do you want to go through a thick stack of resumes yourself?” and the answer was a resounding yes!

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          Oh, right, that happened to me, too. In the first job as a team lead on a rapidly growing team for which we were hiring continuously (I went from 2 to 9 reports in ~3.5 years). We were hiring technical support analysts with fluent English PLUS one other European language. We kept getting resumes via the recruiting agency from people with experience doing in-house IT support. Two problems: a) they were familiar with very scripted processes – upgrade Windows, reset a printer, set up a new workstation, reinstall something-or-other; b) they usually had no experience whatsoever dealing with clients. While we needed people who could support our specific product, troubleshoot it and think on their feet, and able to deal with our (high-value) customers. Fresh graduated in fields like management information science, web development, or other tech fields could work IF they were good communicators and had done an internship to learn professional norms. But when in doubt I was more successful hiring customer service people with a nerdy streak and train them up on the tech stuff myself.

          1. Support lead*

            Oh my god, that’s almost exactly my situation and experience! Fortunately some of the internal IT people turned out to have the right attitude, but when we had hired all of them and had no more luck, call center workers with interest in learning more technology heavy stuff helped us grow the team further (and are bringing a great attitude to the team) .

    4. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      I’m going through something similar at the moment. They’re advertising for a replacement for one of my team. The job advert keeps going out saying (something like) “Industry specific knowledge essential AND Financial specific knowledge required” because it’s based word for word on the team lead’s (being replaced due to promotion) work objectives. The trouble is, this would narrow down applicants to a tiny handful of people, who probably already have jobs in (better paying) companies. It’s supposed to say “Industry specific knowledge an advantage / Finance specific knowledge preferred”, because I came into the team with neither and was taught both over my tenure.

      To make it even better, the job has gone out on three different job sites, but only one of them has posted the salary range (and has mis-identified it as a managerial post – it’s not by any stretch of the imagination!)

      This post is slightly more senior than the rest of the team, but the essential position has been advertised six times in the last six and a half years (replacement team members in all but one case – this will be the seventh advert). We’re only a team of four. You don’t need a Finance degree to do the maths…

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        My last company did this too. When I left, they cut and pasted my wildly outdated formal job description verbatim in the ad.

        1. Mama Bear*

          I had a company ask me about my job description when I gave my notice. I gave them feedback that was what the job *really* entailed…and they didn’t make any changes. I hope they found what they wanted b/c that wasn’t the reality of the job at all.

    5. German Girl*

      Yup, a very similar thing happened to a friend, who was the second llama groomer hired for the communications position. But when he found a new job elsewhere, he told his grandboss to advertise for a communications expert instead and grandboss listened – so there is hope.

    6. Minocho*

      I’ve told this story a couple of times here, so apologies to those seeing it again.

      When I was looking for what turned out to be my current job, there was another position that I was also pursuing. This position was advertised as a software development / project management type position, which is right up my alley. The first two interviews, with the hiring manager and his manager, both made the job sound like exactly what I was looking for, where I had the skills to take the job, but there would be lots of opportunity to learn and improve my skills as well.

      I was scheduled with one more interview. This interview was odd, it would be with a coworker, and with a team of people from the client for the project I would be managing (this was a strange situation where the client was technically a separate entity for legal reasons, but tightly intertwined with the hiring entity). During this third interview, it quickly became clear that there were serious issues with the project and the relationship between the client entity and the hiring entity- including serious trust issues. After the client party left, the coworker spend about half an hour telling me how awful they were, how awful the job would be, and about how really the expectation was that the position’s main duty would be managing an already strained client relationship.

      I received an offer, but asked for time to consider, and called current job about the fact I had an offer, but had some time to entertain an offer from them. They responded with a satisfactory offer, and I took it and turned down offer number 1.

      The hiring manager’s manager called me in person to ask why I’d turned down the offer, as he had considered me accepting the offer a done deal. I told him the third interview revealed the position was not as advertised, and it was in both his and my interest to find a person that better matched the needs of the position. I also suggested that he change the job description to match reality. He responded that they had been advertising the job more honestly before, but nobody was applying.

      ::shrug::

      Sorry dude, I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m not taking that job, for sure!

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yes, I’ve had jobs like that too.

        Job Ad: Employee will know and enforce a safe llama environment according to animal welfare guidelines.
        Actual job: Employee will disregard any and all llama welfare guidelines because following guidelines costs money.

    7. Savannah*

      Yes, and it is so annoying!

      I caught this in the application process but why did I even apply? The position was A&B Manager (two areas connected to marketing). I have a ton of experience in A and have done some of B to the extent my previous industry made it possible. The first interview was with the woman who was transitioning out of the position to do strategy. She was doing mostly A and was in touch with external agencies doing B (which I had been doing). I was called in for the second round with the manager and it turns out the position is new and not a direct handover from the woman changing positions – they were totally not in sync. In additiom, the job duties she talked about had nothing to do with A, it was essentially about revamping everything B.

      Luckily the hiring manager knew what she expected from the role (after I asked very specifically about the expected accomplishments after the first year) but I was still annoyed because it was 95% B and I was coming in with a focus on A. I can only imagine how terrible it is when you learn on the job that it’s not what you’d signed up for. Good thing you got away and are in a much better place now.

    8. Nessun*

      Wellll….we keep advertising for an EA, when the C-suite they’d be supporting seems to want a PA with a specific industry background and no personal life. (All sarcasm aside, the role they’ve posted – and filled, and terminated three times now – is not the role as it plays out day to day. And until we’re up front about wanting someone who has a lot of experience in the industry but is willing to be paid as an admin, we’re never going to find a good fit.)

    9. Jerk Store*

      It never got the point of getting hired, but my predecessor was in charge of contacting our temp agency vendor when we needed help. Our parent company would approve the budget for a temp but not didn’t want to pay a buyout fee to hire a temp full time. My predecessor was in denial about this and would always tell our temp agency it was a possible temp to hire.

    10. Overeducated*

      YES. This has happened in my department repeatedly over the last few years. It was clearly because the manager who retired last year really WANTED it to be a llama grooming specialist department, but our organization’s higher level priorities and legal requirements really focused on llama program administration. So he’d keep hiring llama groomers who’d get really frustrated about never touching an actual llama because they were so focused on administrative paperwork, and they’d leave after a year or two. Our turnover in the last year has been insane.

      The current management just rehired for three positions, and this time they were advertised totally differently, as program specialists rather than llama grooming specialists. One interesting thing is that the new hires are a little older and have a broader range of experiences than our previous staff. We are really hoping that presenting the job honestly will help us find people who will stick around longer.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        When the hiring manager wants something different from the people higher up in the company… senior management wins in the long run. I’ve lived that lesson too.

    11. Pennalynn Lott*

      In my current situation, it’s not that we’re advertising the positions wrong, it’s that my VP is hiring the wrong people. We’re IT Auditors. We need to know about IT *and* how to audit. But my VP kicked out everyone above a certain level who knows how to audit and is bringing in straight IT people.

      So now my department is filled with people who are unhappy (and ineffective) because not only are they not getting to do any actual IT work but now they have to meticulously document the real IT folks’ work. Which is frustrating if you haven’t been trained in (a) how to look for mistakes/risks, and (b) how to document those mistakes and risks with so much detail and in such a way that even someone with no experience in IT, your company, or your industry could understand the work you did and the conclusions you came to.

      And, to make matters worse, the VP has told us staff auditors that it’s our job to correct the managers when they go off the rails or get too deep in the weeds of the technology instead of sticking to the audit project scope. Because what could possibly go wrong with that approach?

    12. Little Beans*

      I was in a situation that sounds very similar, and it was because the supervisor fundamentally misunderstood the role – it was advertised as a senior llama groomer, but he really wanted a policy analyst and program manager who would work with llama-related issues. He got applicants like me who had those skills but actually wanted to work with llamas. I figured out during the interview process that the job was not as advertised (I walked out of the first interview thinking, what job did I just interview for). I ended up accepting it with reservations, but left after only a year. When I left, I tried unsuccessfully to convince them to reclassify the role, but at least I was able to meet with an internal candidate who was interested and was very upfront about exactly what the job actually was – she turned out to still be excited about it and ended up getting hired.

    13. mrs__peel*

      I know that, in many companies, job postings are written by HR (for legal reasons) and not by anyone in the department who’s actually familiar with the specific work that needs to be done. That can be frustrating for everybody.

      But it could be intentionally misleading, if they know that advertising it correctly as 95% [x] would lead fewer people to apply.

    14. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      Mine isn’t about false advertising but about the bright shiny things phenomenon. I worked for a very large company that hired me to be “disruptive.” After 3 years, when they did a reorg, I had been there long enough to become stale, and my position remained vacant for 9 months until they found someone disruptive enough to replace me. I hope he does great, but would not be surprised if the same thing happened to him in a few years. I am in social media/digital marketing and there is this constant concern that they need someone with “a fresh set of eyes” to shake things up. I’m now myself a bright shiny thing again at an agency, interviewing to go back to brand-side, and it makes me cringe a bit to hear other hiring managers talk about how no one on their current team has the “fresh” perspective needed for their company.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        Do these companies invest in employee development at all like sending people to training, signing them up for industry conferences, etc.? Because that’s how people get fresh perspectives – by being given training opportunities.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      I had a similar thing happen with my awful gaslighting boss. When I was hired I was told the person prior to me was moonlighting and working freelance design out of the office on work time.

      But she contacted me on LinkedIn to ask me about something and that’s when I found out he and his girlfriend lied and had basically done the same gaslighting on this person. And she hadn’t been moonlighting but he had spied in the email and saw her sister’s request to make wedding invitations. Horrible people.

    16. Mellow cello*

      The weirdest job interview I ever had was for a research scientist position with a major focus on paediatric cancer. Except they didn’t specify any of that in the job ad or take that into consideration when they were shortlisting interview candidates. So my interview with them was a very odd experience with question after question about paediatric cancer research (not even close to my research expertise!). And then after that disaster, even I asked if a candidate needed strong cancer credentials, they said no!

      I still have no idea what they were thinking but they wasted their time and candidates’ time for no good reason.

    17. tamarack and fireweed*

      It’s IME not even that rare that people keep hiring the wrong candidates into their position, that is, aren’t sufficiently aware of their own staffing needs! For example, sometimes there is a large prestige difference between what they think they need (and maybe, the job title of who used to hold the corresponding position in the past, maybe before a major technology shift in the field…) and the actual main occupation of the position holder is going to be.

      This shouldn’t be a problem — managers make mistake, and analyzing the situation should have revealed that, oops, we thought we need a llama grooming expert, but in reality all the llama grooming is being done by llama grooming apprentices and technicians using the new Llama Groomer Automatic(TM) device, and what you need is a PR person with llama grooming domain knowledge, and a part-time overseer of the grooming operations. BUT instead of realizing that mishiring was the reason you weren’t successful in the job they’re focussed on blame and CYA, so it has to have been that you were lazy, lying about your credentials, or otherwise had fatal flaws. So they keep making the same mistake.

      Definitely a sign of bad management.

    18. Just Another Manic Millie*

      When I applied for a position at a stock brokerage company through an employment agency, the employment agency guy told me that experience working at a stock brokerage company wasn’t necessary. The branch manager at the stock brokerage company told me that, too. So did the office manager. So did my prospective supervisor. So did my prospective co-worker, who told me that he would be responsible for training me. So I assumed that experience wasn’t necessary. But when I started, I was given no training at all. I found out that they had wanted someone with experience working at a stock brokerage company, but all of the applicants who had such experience wanted more money than what they were willing to pay. I gave two weeks notice after I was there for four months. Since I was there for more than three months, they owed a full commission to the employment agency, and they were quite annoyed. Too bad.

      An ad that I answered for another job said that knowledge of a foreign language was helpful. I told them that I knew French, and was that what they wanted? They said that any language was fine. But when I started working there, I found out that they really wanted someone who knew a different foreign language, but when they advertised for someone who was fluent in that language, they weren’t happy with the applicants who answered the ad. After I left that job and got another one, I was lucky enough to be able to see my file. I found out that that company gave me a bad reference, saying that I didn’t speak the foreign language that I had no idea was the foreign language they had been looking for (and knew damn well that I never claimed to be fluent in it).

      At another company, I answered an ad for an admin asst, only to be “forced” to replace the vacationing receptionist on my first day, and then I was told that I would be the permanent receptionist. I found out that when they advertised for a receptionist, they did not care for the applicants who answered the ad.

  4. General Chaos Wragnler*

    Hey Billable Hours People! I’m in my first job where I am tracking all of my time by client and activity, and I am looking for tips. I have a spreadsheet that I use as a timeclock of sorts, but when I’m busy, or I get interrupted I’ll forget to “punch out,” and then at the end of the day, or the next day I’m guessing what I did. So, what has and hasn’t worked for those of you who have been doing this for a while?

    1. Cucumberzucchini*

      Harvest (harvestapp.com) has been a lifesaver for my business. It has a website and an app and it works really well. I always make sure to write description in the moment. The app can also remind you when it thinks you’ve forgotten to stop a project.

      1. iglwif*

        Seconding the rec for Harvest! I used it for freelancing for years, and actually my previous full-time job used it as well. For a single user it’s like … <US$15 a month I think? Not free, but not super expensive. You can designate different tasks as billable or not billable, and you can have multiple clients and multiple tasks for each client.

    2. Lyudie*

      I’m not good about using it on a regular basis, but there’s a free application called Grindstone that’s great for time tracking. You can set up different projects, use it like a stop watch, and then look back at the time you spent on each project. There’s a mobile app as well as the desktop application.

    3. Chronic Overthinker*

      Pinging this as I too need assistance with this task. I’m constantly interrupted throughout my day as I am the first point of contact for all individuals in the office and over the phone (receptionist) but do take additional tasks on an as needed basis throughout the day.

    4. Ashley*

      I don’t enter my time until Fridays, so I never remember EXACTLY what I did. But I typically go through my sent emails and reference my calendar for which meetings or projects I’ve worked on. We’re also usually given an allotment of hours per client/project a month, so I use that as back ground.

      1. ExcelJedi*

        Honestly, as someone who does contractor/vendor management, I’d be upset to hear that my contractors billed me based on what they remembered at the end of the week. There’s too much of a chance of being over-billed. I might even start asking for daily updates on billing hours, or consider ending the relationship.

        It works both ways, too – if they happened to do 2 hours of focused research for me on a Monday (but didn’t email me about it), I wouldn’t want to underpay them because they forgot to include that.

        1. mrs__peel*

          I work for a federal contractor, and we’re required (per contract) to enter our time daily for exactly this reason. There are very strict rules about accuracy in billing.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            Yeah, when we were on federal jobs we either had to fill out our timesheets daily or have a hard copy contemporaneous log. I kept a log, because it had more detail, and I could more easily refer to it.

      2. Nessun*

        I do the same thing – using my sent folder and calendar as a guide for the work I did. My time has to be coded to billable codes, but my services aren’t reviewed in deciding how to invoice (my time would never be quoted on an invoice, and a lot of what I do falls into a bucket covered by administrative charges), so it’s a useful way to remind myself what I worked on, but doesn’t have to be specific or exact. If customers were billed for my time, I would use a stopwatch app (we have one built into our time coding system).

      3. NoviceManagerGuy*

        You’re doing it wrong! Use something – a spreadsheet, one of those apps, whatever else – to keep track of it during the week.

    5. Let's Just Say Eleven*

      This might seem counter-intuitive, but what’s been working for me for the past 5 years is keeping track of every individual activity I do during the day as opposed to a sum total at the end. So in my spreadsheet I might have 5 different entries for one day, each of them describing the work (e.g., writing proposal for XYZ client). It very quickly got me in the habit of writing down what time I start a new task and what time I finish it, because I’m doing that multiple times a day. This works for me because I bill multiple clients so really have to track time for each closely, I’m nearly always in front of my computer when I’m working, and it gives me insight into how long certain tasks take so I can estimate hours better at the start of new, similar projects. Don’t know if that’s helpful (it might be exactly the same process you’re already using, I couldn’t quite tell) but I’m sure you’ll get plenty of awesome suggestions here! I’m interested to hear what other people are using as well.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Yes, this is what I do. Every task in real time. It’s rare for me to sit at one project for over an hour unless I’m in a meeting (and how I love being able to mark two hours for a meeting rather than four or five different itemized entries!).

        Being constantly distracted from important tasks is a separate issue: might be an office culture issue or an expectations issue or even a you issue. The timesheet struggle is only highlighting this issue, not causing it.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I once got past this “being interrupted all the time” thing by insisting that new tasks had to be written on a piece of paper and placed in the In Box, and that I never, ever stopped what I was doing.

          Everything that came in had to be done “next,” not “now.” (of course, sometimes it wasn’t literally the very next one, but nothing was allowed to interrupt)

      2. Glomarization, Esq.*

        This is pretty much what I do. I’ve actively made it a habit to write sh-t down as I’m doing it, every task, every matter, all day, every day.

        Eventually it’s as much of a habit as clicking your seatbelt when you get in the car.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Me too. We have physical time sheets and there are codes for different types of activity (e.g. meetings, preparation/ research/drafting, travel, phone calls, letters/emails,) and I record as I go. Anything like meetings or research I do a note for the file saying what mount of time I spent, which means that clients can be billed accurately
        If you are using a spreadsheet I’d do the same – note the time at the end of each activity – once you start, it becomes a habit and you are less likely to overlook it.

    6. (Mr.) Cajun2core*

      Look at time tracking apps. I used one years ago on my Palm device. It worked great. All you needed to do was make a list of the projects and tap on each one as you were working on it. If it was tapped the clock was running. Sorry but I can’t remember the name of it.

      1. curly sue*

        That sounds like Clockify, the app / website I’m using these days. I find the app is a bit touchy on my android phone (sometimes doesn’t seem to register), but the website works very well.

    7. Summertime*

      Following this because I also don’t have a particularly good method. I don’t like to track day by day, so I tend to look through my calendar to see what meetings I’ve attended through the month and approximate based on that. It isn’t a terribly great approximation.

      Follow up question to General Chaos Wragnler, do you ever feel guilty charging hours to people when you’re doing research to figure out how to complete tasks from clients? I work with a lot of more experienced people and feel bad for charging more time simply because I’m less experienced and require more time than most to complete a particular task.

      1. CheeryO*

        You shouldn’t feel guilty as long as you’re working in good faith and not, for example, spending hours Googling something that a coworker could teach you in a few minutes. Your company likely bills you out at a lower rate than your more experienced coworkers, so it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison.

      2. TootsNYC*

        this is why people who are really good charge more and get away with it. Because the client pays the same in money but gets stuff faster. They also can move through more clients in the same time.

    8. CatCat*

      When I used to have to track my time like this, I did it on paper. I circled when I started and then circled when I stopped and wrote down what it was I was working on. Repeated throughout the day. When I did 15 min increments, I was able to use a commercial weekly planner that was split into 15 min increments for this purpose. When I did 6 min increments, I had a table in Word and just printed it out. I found tracking it on paper is what worked best for me.

    9. fhqwhgads*

      Do you have to enter your time in a time entry system with the time associated to the right client/project? I’ve known people who did the “spreadsheet during the day – transfer it all to the real system at the end of the day” system and had it work well for them, but if that’s not working for you it may be better to try to develop the habit of entering time live and avoiding the double-entry. It might take you a few weeks to really get used to it but the best advice I have is to make the real thing you need to do the habit. I’ve known a lot of folks who had their informal system that was supposed to be making it easier, but like you said if they forgot once they’d be trying to remember and scrambling to make it up. So in those situations I always recommend building the real thing into your day. Once it becomes habit it won’t feel weird. Even if you get interrupted just pause – “I need to officially switch tasks, one sec” click where you need to click before continuing with the interruption. It can be done.

    10. Kiwiii*

      Commenting here because while it’s not Vital I track my hours at new job between projects accurately (my team’s project money is subscription based and all goes into a bucket; project tracking is to get a better idea of projects we might be spending too much time on), I haven’t had a jobs where I’ve had to track projects at all and need some ideas!

        1. Kiwiii*

          I searched this and it seems to be a time management tool? the tracking I would need is more related to ensuring we catch when clients are a resource suck

    11. curly sue*

      I’ve started using Clockify, which is a website and has an app, and so far so good. I’e only been using it for a couple of weeks, mind you.

    12. Grievance Commissioner*

      I use Toggl.com to track my hours and it’s a lifesaver! It’s really easy to switch between tasks, which I love, and it will compile reports in a variety of ways. It makes filling out my timesheet so much less painful – even if I don’t fill it out until Friday afternoon, I still have all the info I need and don’t have to try to remember anything. I’ve converted a lot of folks in my office to using it, too.

      1. Alice*

        Seconding Toggl! It’s seriously so useful that I still use it even though I don’t need to track billable time anymore. I love the color-coding you can do between different projects and how you don’t have to re-type everything for repeating tasks.

    13. ElleWoods*

      I’ve used the HoursTracker app for almost four years and I love it. I did get the paid version (like 6 or 7), and I use the feature that makes me include a comment as to what I did whenever I clock out. It’s so beyond helpful. I enter my time daily, but it’s also a great help if you have to enter less frequently.

      I also really like that it has the option to pause the time – I use that a lot.

    14. A Simple Narwhal*

      When I used to work a billable hours job, I would print out my outlook calendar for the day each morning (the one that has the full hourly markup of the day). As I was working, I would mark what time it was and what task/client I was working on, and then mark when I was done. I felt that having something I could physically scribble a note on made things quicker and easier, plus it also would already have all of my meetings on it as well. And when I inevitably waited until Friday afternoon to enter my hours, rather than doing it day by day, as was recommended/easier, having a stack of my notes with hourly breakdowns made it a lot easier to account for my time.

    15. Coverage Associate*

      I like my Timeular. I got it on sale for $50. It’s a device that tracks how long each side is facing up. When I switch projects, I just switch it to the side corresponding to that project. I like that it’s physical and only takes one hand, so I can deal with it while on the phone.

      For professionals who have to track billable hours, how they do it should be like exercise. Give people lots of tools and options and let them pick. I have worked with too many bosses who didn’t understand that their way wasn’t everyone’s best way.

    16. Ughhhh*

      I just write down my time in our time keeping software immediately upon finishing (or pausing) a task. Basically anytime I switch gears while at work. I don’t use timers, I just eyeball it from the clock. If I don’t remember exactly when I started taking a break or switching gears, I do my best to figure it out from memory or email timestamps. But I typically remember to track it as I go because that helps me see how close I am to reaching my goal for that day, which is encouraging. It’s a habit like any other.

    17. Massive Dynamic*

      I track every 15min and I do it all in Excel… we bill out the sum of our minutes to clients each day and I keep a more detailed log of how long each task is taking, and then just sum it up and use the task detail to write up a clear description of what the 3.5 hours, etc. entailed that day. I also round off about five min… for example, if a coworker needs to discuss client X with me, whether it takes 10 minutes or 20, I’m billing client X for 15. Applying the rounding consistently both ways means that overall it’s fair in the end for the client.

      If I ever lose track of time on tasks, looking at the last time I’ve saved off various files is a lifesaver for me to back into how long it took me to complete each task.

    18. Anon for this*

      I (consultant, work on multiple projects) actually use old fashioned theme books — you know, the ones with the black and white marbleized covers? (They come in other varieties too, but if you think of those you’ll be visualizing the ones I use.) It also keeps me from having random scraps of paper with notes on them all over my desk — when I start work for the day I write down the time, the project I’m working on, and then I write down EVERYTHING (what I’m working on that day, notes from calls with my project manager, stuff that needs to be scribbled down someplace — even just lists of row numbers, if I’m working in Excel, my to-do lists, ideas about process improvements) in the notebook. When I stop, I write the time down (next to the start time on the top).
      At the end of the month, I calculate the hours (if I didn’t do it on the day, I have start and stop times right there). If I need to go back and see when I talked with someone, or what I was thinking about methodologies, it’s all right there. Most of what I wind up keeping is garbage, but it still saves me the step of having to go through all the random pieces of paper on my desk and think “is this something I need to keep?”
      Each notebook lasts somewhere from several months to over a year, depending on how much I’m working and how much I feel like writing down.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*

        I actually made my own custom log book, with lines and columns for start time, project number, description and stop time. GBC spiral (if I had to do it again I’d coil bind it), about 25 to 50 sheets. I still get tempted to reproduce them and sell them.

        If I ended up with stuff on post-its, I’d tape them into my log.

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If I didn’t punch back in from lunch, I eat the time between when I *think* I came back and when I sent my first email. It’s been a very good incentive for me to get it right.

    20. MoopySwarpet*

      I have used Atracker – atracker(dot)pro – when I’ve needed to account for every task.

      It has all kinds of variables. You can assign projects, add tasks individually, etc. You can also set it to automatically prompt you for a note when you stop it. You can also adjust the start/end times if you forget to stop it. Reports can be exported.

      The free version is pretty limited, but does give you enough to play around with and see if it will work for you.

      I personally use it more to track high level tasks/projects and add the notes to remember the individual tasks. I find that works better for me that starting/stopping individual tasks that might take less than 5 minutes. For bigger tasks, I do log them separately.

      I’ve also used Pomodone, which is more of the pomodoro method, but does allow different projects/lists and reports on where you’ve spent your time.

    21. Clever Name*

      I have a notepad where I keep track of the projects/tasks. Ideally I’d write down the start and stop time, but I normally write how long I worked on something as I’m working. (Answered email for project X…… .25 hour; worked on Blah report…..3 hours, etc.). We are required to enter our time daily because it is a requirement for many federal projects. The folks who go back through their emails at the end of the week are not being effective and are certainly not billing accurately.

    22. TootsNYC*

      I haven’t done it.

      But I’ve pondered how I’d organie it.

      I would probably not do well with keeping it electronically, because I do my WORK on the computer.

      I’d probably print out some master sheets with row for times (with 15-minute intervals marked down the side) and columns for the projects.

      Then I’d put them on a clipboard and keep it on my desk. Then I’d have it visually there to remind me. I’d build in a routine of putting it on my chair when I get up to go to the bathroom or lunch, and then I’d be more likely to fill it out.

      Sometimes I still need an analog solution.

    23. Quinalla*

      Are you actually billing your time to your client or do you track billable hours to make sure projects are generally in budget, but clients are billed an already agreed upon fee? If you are actually billing hours, I high recommend an app or spreadsheet or something to keep close track as many have recommended. If it is for internal tracking, then filling out your timesheet at the end of the day should be fine. That’s what I try to do, though sometimes I don’t do it until the end of the week and then I’m going through my calendar, milestones and emails to refresh my memory.

    24. Curmudgeon in California*

      When I was doing consulting, I literally had a paper task/time log book, with start, end, project number and description. I did my timesheet from that log. I could also go back months and tell you what I did on a certain day.

      I tried logging on the computer, and it didn’t work. I would forget to bring up the spreadsheet, etc. The log book was right there, open, next to me so it never fell victim to “out of sight, out of mind” like a spreadsheet did.

    25. rinkydink*

      I also forgot to manually “switch tasks” using a lot of these tools (like Toggl). So I used tools like RescueTime to just track everything I did on my computer (it shows applications + file names/tabs) – at the end of the day/week I could just skim through and see when the files/tabs I had open switched from one project to another. Any gaps I’d fill in from my calendar (meetings). I actually used Toggl to actually label the projects/tasks and add them up after, but you could also just use your calendar or pen-and-paper.

    26. LilyP*

      I always find just looking through my browser history super helpful. It can give me a sense of when I got back to my desk after being gone and sometimes even remind me of which specific task I was working on when.

    27. Gumby*

      I do the majority of my job at a desk, so this might not be applicable to you but: I keep a literal pad of paper by my mouse where I note down the time when I change projects/tasks. On occasion I still miss writing down the switches, but usually I realize when I do the next switch and can do a fairly good estimate. For me it is much easier to write a quick number on paper than to open a spreadsheet or find the right app or whatever. The paper is there, I can’t miss it, picking up a pen takes half a second.

      Of course at the end of the day I take all of those times and put them in a spreadsheet too. But if I had to note them in the spreadsheet as I went along I would miss many more. (I frequently have multiple spreadsheets open at a time so it wouldn’t draw my attention to just keep it open all day.)

    28. GreyNerdShark*

      I found “note when you stop and start” to be difficult. I kept forgetting. So I wrote a thing that popped up every 15 minutes and had boxes I clicked to say which project I was working on for the previous 15 mins. (we did 15 because it wasn’t just project it was activity in project. Annoying as hell)

      Not a lot of help for people using Windows I’m afraid… But consider how you work. If you get distracted a lot and find clocking in and out of a task difficult consider looking for something that pops up regularly to say “what are you working on now, write it down”.

    29. LilySparrow*

      Paper.
      I used to keep an agenda page divided into the same time increments we billed by. When I started working under a new code, I’d jot it down and then draw an arrow from the last entry to the new one. That physical record was a lot easier for me to make stick as a habit when switching clients.

      If all else fails, I can usually reconstruct it pretty well from my browser history and my saved document timestamps.

  5. Anon for this*

    I need some advice.

    I coordinated an organization-wide (nonprofit) training event recently and am reviewing the evaluations to compile results and send them to the event committee, which includes my boss and two board members. There are three strongly worded comments about my boss, who spoke for about 10 minutes during the event. The words “condescending,” “rude” and “unprofessional” were used.

    It’s a pretty awkward situation for me. My question is: should I give him a heads up that the comments exist, or should I just send the survey results out to the entire committee and let him read it at the same time as everyone else?

    1. DataGirl*

      ooff. I would definitely give my boss a head’s up. I imagine the fallout if it goes out to everyone without him seeing it first would be bad for you.

      1. Heidi*

        I agree with giving him advanced notice. You didn’t mention if the criticism was justified, but since there were 3 individual people saying this, it may well have been. If he is condescending, rude, and unprofessional, he might not care. He might have even gotten this feedback before. And the committee won’t be surprised either. If he’s not that bad, but come across that way for some reason, he might be able to formulate an improvement plan that he can present to the committee and get ahead on solving this problem.

    2. finally october*

      I’d give him a heads-up, but only if the comments are anonymous and there’s nothing in them that can identify a person for retaliation. If there is, I would put a mental block in and just report that the comments weren’t good.

    3. IL JimP*

      I would probably give him a heads up so he’s not blindsided but I guess it depends on your relationship and how he’s likely to react

    4. tape deck*

      I would just send it out. I don’t know what benefit he would get out of knowing beforehand. I don’t think you owe him a heads up or anything.

    5. OtterB*

      I’d give him a heads up. This falls in my rule of thumb “Do not let your boss have unpleasant surprises.”

      1. Federal Middle Manager*

        This. I have a post-it on my desk that says “Don’t be the most senior person holding a big secret.”

    6. iglwif*

      Was he, in fact, condescending, rude, and unprofessional? Because I feel like that has a bearing on how you approach this with him.

      But even if he was/is those things — actually, maybe especially if he is! — you should give him a heads-up. Because he presumably knows you saw the results before the rest of the committee, and if you don’t tell him, he will know you knew and didn’t say anything, and he’s not going to appreciate that.

      Does he *deserve* a heads-up? Maybe not, but it’s better *for you* if your boss isn’t blindsided, because if he is, he will definitely blame you :(

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

      I think it’s relevant how many evaluations you received; is it 3 out of 15, or 3 out of 1,000? Three out of 15 is significant; but 3 out of 1,000 could be 3 people who have a separate axe to grind with your boss, or 3 wackos that take offense to every innocuous thing and blow it out of proportion, like, “He wore a purple tie! Purple is the color of royalty! How condescending, unprofessional and rude!”

    8. CM*

      Are you sending the text of the comments, or a summary of what they said?

      If you’re sending the text of the comments, and all of the comments for everything are included, then I don’t think you need to give anyone a heads up, because you’re essentially just funneling info from the evaluation to the committee.

      If you’re summarizing, it’s more complicated, and there are more nuances about how much time your boss spent talking and what his role was in the training. But, I would probably lump it in a section about opportunities for improvement and note that 5% disliked your boss’ presentation manner or something. If you’re pressed for more details, you can show him the comments after.

    9. Bagpuss*

      I think the other issue is how your boss is likely to react if you give them a heads up?
      Is he likely to try to stop you from sharing the information with the rest of the committee? if so, you could wind up being told to withhold relevant information from the committee, which puts you in a very awkward position and potentially means the committee doesn’t have information which would be relevant to their plans for the next event.
      If that is a possibility, you might want to give the full info to the chair of the committee the full information but then let your boss know about the specific comments before you share with eveyone.

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I once saw customer comments summarized in a way that put the comments about a person together — so you got a negative comment about Fergus’s product right next to a positive comment about Fergus.

    11. Anon for this*

      Blah. Thanks, everyone. I knew in my gut that I had to give him a heads up, I was just hoping for a way out because knowing my boss, this will not be a pleasant conversation. I’m going to spend the weekend working on a very neutral, straightforward script and take care of this on Monday. Wish me luck :(

      1. Girr*

        If it was my boss, I’d probably say something along the lines of “Finishing up XX report, I expect to be sending it out Tuesday. We did get some feedback that I thought you’d want to know about a head of time.” Then hand over printed copies of the comments (assuming they can’t be traced back to anyone). Then I’d probably go back to my desk/leave the area.

        But I have the type of relationship with my boss where I can be quite blunt with her if needed . More so than most.

    12. Basically Nice*

      To soften the blow, how about sending a summary listing the three best comments and the three worst comments?

  6. Strawberry Fields*

    I met my friend “Lucy” at my previous job. We worked in different departments and have different backgrounds (degrees, work experience, etc.) Lucy really wants to leave the company. I was fortunate enough to get out, but Lucy is struggling. She keeps asking if she can see my resume, if I’m on LinkedIn, etc. I offered to make suggestions on her resume, made some edits, and sent her helpful tips/guides on resumes.

    We were talking and Lucy said that she was done job searching after not finding anything. Out of the blue, we were talking and I mentioned my brother. She asked what he did/where he worked and I told her. Well, turns out she found a job at his company and then asked if she could use him as a reference! They never worked together- my brother has never even met her!

    I understand that Lucy is probably frustrated and wants a new job badly- I’ve definitely been there, but I feel uncomfortable and awkward.

    1. Dove*

      I can’t blame you for feeling uncomfortable and awkward! It’s a really, really weird thing for Lucy to ask! Wanting an internal reference is understandable…but it really only *works* if the person actually knows you and is willing to serve as a reference.

      In this case, not only is Lucy not asking your brother (she’d be having you ask him for her, presumably – probably in the hopes that he’s less likely to turn down a favour for his sister than a request from a random stranger) but she’s asking for someone who *doesn’t know her* to serve as a reference.

      I’d feel completely justified in telling Lucy that you can’t ask that of your brother, and you don’t think it would help her to get a reference from someone who cannot, in truth, say he knows anything about her work or how well she’d fit what the company is looking for; that it would, if anything, hurt her chances when it’s discovered that he doesn’t know her at all. And then wish her the best of luck with the job search.

    2. Dana B.S.*

      I would just be honest: “Jon has never met you and would not be able to speak to your work ethic or abilities. It would not be a strong reference that can only reiterate what his sister has shared with him.” Now if she asks to meet him and sell herself to him – that’s still not going to be a strong reference. But if you feel comfortable connecting her with your brother, that would then be up to him. If not, then just explain that he is busy and it likely wouldn’t do much for her case.

    3. Mop Head*

      Sounds like Lucy thinks if she can use your brother as a reference it will get her a foot in the door. It also sounds crazy. She and your brother have never met, how can he be a reference? If she pushes, tell her your brother refused.

    4. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      Explain to Lucy that if her brother were used and he said he didn’t know her (why would he lie?) it would make HER look bad. I’ve been on many hiring committees over the years and it would really make me question her. My thought would be, “If she doesn’t have integrity from the get-go she probably won’t at her job either.” It would look fishy, smell fishy and be fishy.

    5. ten-four*

      Agree with everyone on the nonsense of asking him to be a reference, but potentially your brother could flag her application for review. I’ve done that sometimes with people I haven’t worked with – just a “this person is known to me but I haven’t worked with them. Take a look.” Your brother may still not want to do even that, depending on her resume/fit! If you’re willing to vouch for her overall levels of professionalism that might be an option here (but real talk, you may not be).

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        If I was OP’s brother, I wouldn’t even do this. Sure, he wouldn’t be vouching for her work product since he’s never seen it and is upfront in saying so; however, he’s still essentially putting his name behind Lucy and flagging her to HR as someone worth speaking to, which could blow up in his face should she be hired on and turn out to be a disaster. If it were me in the brother’s shoes, I’d stay all the way out of it.

    6. Heat's Kitchen*

      I’d tell Lucy he can’t act as a reference as he can’t speak to her experience. But maybe offer to pass her resume on to your brother, and if he thinks she’d be a good fit he could pass it along to the hiring manager, with notes that you worked with her and vouch for her.

      1. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

        Came here to say pretty much this. Assuming you do vouch for her… From your letter, I see that you are friends with Lucy but I’m less clear about what you thought of her work.

        If he can get her resume pulled out of the pile, that might be helpful… If it’s true that you would actually support her working at your brother’s company.

      2. Shoes On My Cat*

        This! I’ve been asked to refer strangers and it’s such an awkward position to be put into. But I did exactly the above and one friend disconnected, so I guess she wasn’t as into the friendship as she was into what I could do for her. Everyone else was cool after an awkward few minutes of recalibrating. Good luck!

    7. VA Anon*

      Could he submit her resume through the company’s employee referral program? I’ve done this before for the son of a relative’s good friend. Under “How do you know this person?” I selected “I don’t know this person.” I was just the in for getting the resume seen. I wasn’t vouching for the person’s work ethic or anything.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yeah, this. I’ve worked at companies with a referral bonus (you get $100 after the employee’s probation is up) and in those situations, people are always looking for the friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend to refer for cash. Perhaps that’s Lucy’s line of thinking.

    8. stuff*

      Totally agree she may have meant referral but not reference. I think listing him as a referral as long as you give him a heads up and he is clear about the lack of relationship is fine. Reference wouldn’t be appropriate.

      1. Strawberry Fields*

        I asked and she meant reference. She’s nervous about listing people she currently works with.

    9. Minocho*

      I had a tabletop roleplaying friend ask if I could refer him to a job. I explained I’d be more than happy to give his resume to the hiring manager, and it might help his resume get through the noise a little, but I haven’t worked with him and couldn’t be a work reference. Being clear about something along these lines might be fair. And it might just give her a better chance at good visibility, but it’s still up to her, of course.

    10. Hey Anonny Nonny*

      This is so sticky. I can say I personally *like* just about everyone I work with, however there are people at work whom I like personally but are, ah, difficult to work with (to be diplomatic). There’s the situation of “This guy is really friendly and polite, and we get along great on personal level, but I have to chase him down for the most basic of stuff and even get a little tetchy with him to give me things he’s promised me five or six times.”

  7. Tattoos at work*

    I got my first tattoo recently and I’m pretty pleased with my choice. It’s on my arm but quite small and hard to notice in passing. I plan on keeping it covered during meetings. My direct manager saw it and was quick to point out that this is a company that doesn’t care about things like visible tattoos, but my husband is still convinced that I made a poor judgment call regarding future career prospects (and he may be right based on the tattoo post from a few days ago that had some strong opinions?). I work in a corporate finance environment that is more laid back than accounting or high finance, but still has a buttoned up culture in most companies.

    I’m considering getting more down the road, but I am a little worried about putting myself in a situation where covering up always is going to be an expectation and my husband is still worried about something like this holding me back down the road. I’m a woman, so I wear a lot of sleeveless blouses in the warmer months, so male standards of year-round long-sleeved dress shirts don’t really apply. Opinions? Would you look down or consider not promoting a direct report because they have a few small and easily hidden tattoos?

    1. DataGirl*

      Tattoos are becoming more common and accepted, but some fields are still pretty conservative about it. Personally I have 10 tattoos which I mostly keep hidden, although the one on my forearm is visible if I wear short sleeves and the tops of my feet are visible if I’m wearing dress shoes. I don’t believe my tattoos have ever held me back from a promotion, and I don’t think anyone thinks I’m less competent because of them. I can say that I regret the very large calve tattoo I got when I turned 18 (dumb kid didn’t think I’d ever work in the corporate world) because it has prevented me from wearing skirts my whole career. Again, times have changed and now I probably could get away with showing a large tattoo but it’s ingrained in me that I have to keep it hidden. So my advice if you aren’t sure about your industry is to keep additional tattoos in easily covered spots.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I can say that I regret the very large calve tattoo I got when I turned 18 (dumb kid didn’t think I’d ever work in the corporate world) because it has prevented me from wearing skirts my whole career.

        Mostly true for me as well. I worked in human services until I was 33, and thought I always would, and a calf tattoo didn’t matter there at all. Now I’m in an environment where it really does matter, and I hate not wearing skirts in the summer.

    2. MOAS*

      To answer your question–tattoos would have absolutely NOTHING to do with my decision to promote someone.

      IME — it’s funny b/c I was having a conversation with someone about this just a little while ago. He has two full sleeves. I personally like tattoos and find them cool/attractive but one of the things we talked about was the difference between always showing it off vs it just being there. FWIW, we’re in accounting (he’s an admin though) and it’s a casual environment/business casual, so no one is expected to ‘cover up” obvious body parts (arms/lower legs/face/neck) to avoid showing tattoos. Our office manager has a full back and thigh tattoos but are really only visible if they wear a sleeveless dress where the “wing” peeks out.

      I think a lot of people tend to be very conservative/low key when they interview, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone puts on make up t o cover up a tattoo and then let it be once they start working.

    3. Shark Whisperer*

      I think the better question is do you ever want to work for a place that would consider not promoting someone just because of a few small tattoos?

      I know that answer for me is that I would not, but for you it may be different. My current CEO doesn’t like tattoos, as he pointed out when he saw one of my tattoos, but I know for sure that my tattoos would never impede my upward mobility at this workplace.

      1. Tattoos at work*

        This is a good point. Currently, I work for a large international media company with a very left leaning reputation, which in my experience is held up inside the company as well as out. I don’t see much visible ink, but that could be the nature of the other people who sit on this floor, but I believe my manager when she says that it’s not a big deal around here. And while I do like this job and this company a lot, I can’t logically conclude I will spend the next 30 years here.

    4. AnonEMoose*

      I wouldn’t think it would be likely to be an issue unless you’re in a particularly conservative area and/or industry. Honestly, I think I know more people who have tattoos than people who don’t (of course, I’m also part of local science fiction/fantasy fandom, and in a fairly major metropolitan area, so my sample may not be representative). But unless your tattoo is something I’d find truly offensive (like a racist symbol or something), I doubt it would even register on my radar, although I don’t have any tattoos myself.

      1. Llellayena*

        This made me actually think about how many of my friends/acquaintances have tattoos and I realized that more have them than don’t! I don’t even think about it, even when I’m at work, unless the conversation specifically veers towards tattoos or I notice a new one. I got a bit of conversation at work on the henna I got on my arm, but i think that was just because it’s new. Obviously some places will be more rigid about it but I really think that we’re all leaning toward “who cares” when it comes to tattoos in the workplace.

    5. House Tyrell*

      It’ll all depend on the culture of your office. In my office, most of us have visible tattoos and it doesn’t matter. I work in a corporate office as a manager with 2 very small tattoos, only one is visible since my watch covers the other one and no one even noticed until we were talking with our VP about her husband’s new tattoo and I mentioned them. My admin and said-VP are both covered in tattoos. No one cares. I didn’t cover mine up when I interviewed so they could have rejected me if they cared over it.

      If you think you might work in a place that WILL care later, just wear cardigans over your sleeveless blouses and maybe do consider only getting tattoos in places that will always be covered at work- abdomen/back and thighs. If someone would refuse to promote or look down on someone with tattoos, then they kinda suck in my opinion and need to get over themselves.

      1. Chronic Overthinker*

        I have several tattoos and am in a relatively conservative workplace. I keep them covered out of respect for Grandboss, though I will cheer the day that tattoos become commonplace in conservative workplaces. In the summer it’s especially difficult as I have tattoos on my calves and biceps and would love to wear skirts and sleeveless blouses. But 3/4 sleeves and pants/long skirts are the norm and what I need to stick to as my tattoos are big and noticeable.

        If you are looking to get more ink, just be aware of the culture at each workplace and follow the dress code. If you need to keep them covered in your line of work, keep them covered. Maybe down the line they’ll become more acceptable, but in the meantime get ink where it can be easily covered. My two cents.

    6. BeeGee*

      Banking is probably the most stuffy in regards to this, however, I worked at a small investment firm that was fine with employees with tattoos. Some of the admins had visible tattoos on feet and wrists, and one had a shoulder cap tattoo (this is even with a co-owner who comes from a stricter religious background, but he didn’t have any issues with them or his own admin having them). I also had no idea that one of the partners at my last firm had a giant, full back tattoo! It just shows you how much things have changed in regards to attitudes about tattoos.

    7. iglwif*

      I absolutely wouldn’t look down on someone with tattoos, or think twice about promoting them if they deserved it.

      And in fact I have hired and promoted people who have relatively large and not easily hidden tattoos.

      I think overall tattoos are becoming less of a big deal, but of course there are industries and companies and individuals who Don’t Approve, so … it depends?

    8. Anon for this*

      We just had a reorg and a fresh crop of people that were newly promoted to management (whether within their level of competence or not, remains to be seen…) and I’ve been seeing large tattoos covering half of a person’s body that cannot be fully covered by clothes, sleeves, etc. on the newly promoted people. Granted, we are not finance, but are still corporate and there’s a high likelihood of these new managers meeting and interacting with the clients, and prospective clients, as part of their work. My conclusion – this is now mainstream at least in the sense that people aren’t likely to be denied a promotion based on that. PS I am planning on getting my first one soon. Only reason I hadn’t gotten one yet is that, for a number of years, I had large recurring expenses, which ended a year ago. Now that I’m not living paycheck to paycheck, they are in my budget and I am definitely getting one.

    9. Kiwiii*

      I think there’s been a definite, recent culture shift to not care about tattoos in the work place, but it definitely hasnt’ reached all industries. One thing that might be worth doing is next time you’re at a conference or event with multiple companies attending, see if you can see any tattoos in the crowd/the people you’re networking with. Also, maybe take note of anyone in management/leadership roles at your company (and companies you might be interested in moving to in the next 3-10 years) with tattoos. While these shouldn’t be the only factors you assess in deciding the size/visibility in future tattoos, they might be worth factoring in.

    10. Former Academic Librarian*

      I’m heavily tattooed – no face, hands or neck but otherwise I’m pretty covered. I recently transitioned from an academic environment, where no one really cared, to a nonprofit, where it turns out no one really cares. I don’t go out of my way to cover them, but I’m cold all the time, so they naturally get covered. Sometimes people ask questions, but I’ve only had one or two people at work every get rude/condescending about them, but they were just rude/condescending in general.

      Bottom line, I think you’re fine. More and more industries don’t really care about tattoos any more, and as long as you’re okay with the possibility of having to cover them up at certain times/in certain company, go forth and get more! :-)

    11. LCH*

      if you were ever at a place/event that absolutely could not tolerate tattoos, you could use dermablend or something to cover them. caveat: never tried, not sure how it looks in person vs photos.

    12. MissGirl*

      This is really region, industry, and company specific. At my job you’re going to have to cover up when meeting with clients or leadership.

    13. Jubilance*

      I think this is really industry specific – in something like law or banking that’s more conservative I’d be worried.

      I work data analytics and I also have 2 very visible wrist tattoos – no one even bats an eye. I’ve interviewed with them several times and it’s never been an issue.

    14. Joielle*

      In my experience, tattoos that could be covered by a suit (or similar) do not matter at all. I’m an attorney and my husband is a compliance officer for a household-name company, and we’re both heavily tattooed and don’t cover them in the office (so arm tattoos are visible pretty regularly, and legs sometimes in the summer). For external meetings we’d both wear a suit or at least blazer, which would cover them. It hasn’t mattered at all – both of us have easily gotten jobs, promotions, etc.

      As long as you have good judgment about wearing long sleeves for more formal meetings, I don’t think it’ll matter one bit.

      1. Joielle*

        Just to add – I guess I sort of think of them like bold jewelry, in that they’re a fashion choice that’s just a bit out of the norm and you’d probably go with something more subtle if you were, like, meeting the queen. It’s not that they’re shameful or anything, just a bit more eye catching than you might want for a formal meeting, so that’s when I’d wear long sleeves.

    15. Heat's Kitchen*

      There’s a few blog posts on this topic. I don’t think you did anything wrong. The culture on this is changing. Personally, I’d tell your husband if a company has a problem with a tasteful tattoo, you don’t want to work for them anyway.

      I just went for an interview yesterday & didn’t wear a full suit. More colored jeans with a blazer. I knew the cvompany and culture. Considered putting on really nice slacks, but said the same thing to myself. If they care that much about what I”m wearing (when it is professional), I don’t want to work for them.

    16. Seifer*

      I work in construction as a woman of color under 30 with giant tattoos. It’s, I mean, not to be stereotypical about the construction industry, but the odds are pretty stacked against me. Like… almost all of the execs are older, older men. My own director is from another Asian country that also frowns upon tattoos (as if us Vietnamese people didn’t hate them enough, according to my mother) and when I first met him and shook his hand, my forearm tattoos were just hanging out there. And well, he singled me out for a promotion. I think it’s just a lot more widely accepted now and I’ve definitely proven that it has no bearing on my quality of work, so… just keep being awesome and I think it’ll be fine.

    17. PolarVortex*

      While industry specific in some cases, honestly the world is changing quite a bit.

      I have obvious tattoos: neck and wrists are visible year round, with the collarbone, feet, others not as visible depending on the season. It hasn’t stopped me for promotions, hasn’t stopped many of my coworkers from promotions, and wouldn’t stop me from hiring/promoting unless that tattoo was offensive in some form.

      Don’t worry about the tattoos, and if your husband brings it up, I’d suggest he should be more worried about the fact you’re going to have to deal with getting paid less and are less likely to be promoted as a woman with or without tattoos.

    18. KR*

      I honestly think you’re fine if the tattoo is as small as you think. I’d wear a long/3/4 sleeve shirt, cardigan, or blazer for occasions where you’re worried it may have an impact (may be higher-ups, people who may be judgy, clients, ect) but not worry about the sleeveless shirts for your normal days. The fact that your manager was so quick to say that the tattoo is fine by your company standards gives me hope and in the future it’s easy enough to interview in something that won’t show the tattoo and to cover it until you’re sure it’s ok.

    19. Anon for this*

      I recently saw a meme that stated having tattoos should make you MORE employable, not less, because sitting in corporate meetings is just like getting stabbed repeatedly with tiny needles (paraphrase – could not find it to quote here)… and I can’t disagree with the sentiment. Tattooed people probably DO have a great amount of patience and a high pain threshold.

    20. Gaia*

      I have worked in both very progressive and very conservative fields. I have 5 tattoos and 3 are visible in some normal office clothes. They’ve never held me back and I wouldn’t want to work somewhere where they would.

      Think of what that says about an organization: that they value appearance over substance. That they buy into harmful stereotypes and that they aren’t interested in the best workers, only a particular subset. Hard pass.

    21. idontgetit*

      We need to have a separate discussion about the whole tattoos thing so y’all can explain it to me. I read AAM four times a week and there’s lotsa talk about tattoos. The work-related downside, and the vitriol directed at those judgmental ashsoles who won’t hire/promote the tattooed, I see plenty of that.

      What I truly don’t understand (sincerely, I realize I’m coming across harsh but it’s because I’m baffled) WHY THE TATTOOS? It’s clear that it’s not because you think it will help you get a job; nobody here posts about that. Obviously I don’t have any. No piercings either. Don’t dye my hair. It just use my natural body to make a living and I wonder why this is such an emotional issue. I don’t think this one post here is going to produce many responses, but feel free to surprise me, because truly, I would like to understand why this is so important to you.

      1. Former Academic Librarian*

        You don’t have to get it. It’s my body, and I will decorate it as I see fit. It’s an emotional topic because what is on my body doesn’t impact people in the slightest, and yet they have strong reactions/opinions to to the way I look and then share those strong reactions/opinions. You are allowed to think whatever you want about me; you aren’t entitled to a captive audience to share those reactions/opinions.

        And we could reverse this, and I could demand that you explain why you don’t like tattoos/piercings/hair dye. But I honestly don’t care what you do/do not do with your own body, so I suggest you not care about mine.

    22. Cats and dogs*

      I know managers for whom a tattoo is a big deal and would prevent them from promoting someone especially if they are client facing. These managers are older so maybe it is a generational thing.

  8. Alligator*

    I’ve been working in event production for the last 4 years (long hours, lots of nights and weekends, tons of variety etc…) and I’m actually incredibly excited to get away from that and back into an office-based event planning job.

    I know that I’m the kind of person who needs to take a few short decompression brakes during the day. I love reading AAM – but I’m hoping others might have recommendations for other advice blogs or safe for work websites that they like to check daily?

    1. Glacier*

      Bumping because I’d love to hear from others as well!

      (I don’t have any I follow regularly, and just turn to the news for breaks, but would love advice from the AAM reader community.)

    2. QCI*

      Digg has some interesting articles sometimes, Slate has interesting advice columns but may not be totally SFW

    3. Also a project manager*

      I use Tumblr. I found some great safe-for-work blogs within those interest areas that I visit when I need to decompress.

    4. pony tailed wonder*

      One safe for work one that I enjoy but it isn’t a daily one is the Moneyist. I like the moral quandaries it attracts and the columnist explains his thoughts and reasoning pretty well. I just wish it organized it’s past columns better so they could be searchable.

    5. 8DaysAWeek*

      My daily list:
      Captain Awkward (can sometimes be NSFW)
      Evil HR Lady
      Paging Dr. Nerdlove (can sometimes be NSFW)
      Freakonomics
      Lifehacker

      I use a blog reader so I can see headlines before opening the whole article in case it is NSFW. I use Feedly and all my blogs, including AAM, are on one page.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Seconding the use of Feedly. Even without the bonus of a preview of whether the blog you want to check has any NSFW content today (which I agree is significant), it’s to convenient to have all my reading material gathered in one place. I don’t have to remember to check all the outlets, because they’re all just there and ready for me to read.

    6. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      Metafilter (and its advice subsite, Ask Metafilter) Some of the links may be NSFW, but those are labeled as such, and NSFW questions go behind a cut.

    7. sunshyne84*

      I read my local paper’s website a lot. I also save articles from around the web to my Pocket (getpocket.com) account to read later. They also have various articles on there, though may not all be safe for work, but you can probably tell from the titles. I like that I can easily save the link when I don’t have time to read something at the moment from my phone or adding it to my browser at home.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’m rather fond of Archaeology (online by the Archaeological Institute of America), ScienceNordic, and some Facebook groups that I’ve found for science-minded history buffs. (Or is that history-minded science buffs?)

    9. Holly*

      Not sure if you count the news as decompression but it’s a great option – I would check out your local news sites.

    10. Anax*

      There are some cute subreddits – I enjoy /r/crossstitch, /r/knitting, /r/talesfromtechsupport

      whatthe(f***)justhappenedtoday is a good daily news digest, though of course note that there’s profanity in the URL and the title of the page – the rest is reliably SFW and links to other news sites.

      Dr Ferox on Tumblr is a vet blog which I quite enjoy.

      I also spend a lot of time on Ravelry, a knitting/crochet website – you might be able to find similar hobby forums or blogs, if there’s anything you find particularly interesting; knitting blogs tend to be cheery, pretty, and SFW, so they’re a favorite for me. Mm, yes, tell me more about your apple picking and also the cute hat you made.

    11. Okumura Haru*

      Aside form AAM, I check AllMusic, NPR, and Metacritic on a daily basis.

      Lots of good stuff, and SFW.

  9. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

    For context, I am an assistant director of government construction contracts, but my employer is not the government. My work has installed a new program on our computers “for security” that requires my cell phone for me to log into my desktop. The program texts me security codes to log in – I need two codes, two separate texts every day or again if I accidentally close a browser window. I do not work on anything that confidential (the contract amounts are all public, and the payment info is a different system).

    The company tried to bill this as making it easier to work remotely on other devices, but my position does not include remote work.

    I am annoyed that my company requires the use of my personal cell phone, which they do not pay for. (To be fair, I have unlimited texting plan so this is not costing me anything – but the company didn’t confirm that was the case, and they’re still benefitting from something I pay for). I also don’t like that a bunch of random software systems clearly have my cell phone number listed in them somewhere – like most people, I already get tons of spam calls and I try not to give out my cell phone number. When I complained, the company told me I could download an app instead that would do the same thing but not through text. That sounds worse to me.

    Is this just the way business works now? Is it considered so unbiquitous to own a cell phone and carry it all the time that there’s nothing weird about the company getting to benefit from it? This company also required me to download an app on my own phone when I started so that I could register my keycard, which annoyed me, but after it was done I deleted the app and haven’t had that issue again.

    My coworkers use their phones to download junky apps constantly, to get discounts on sandwhiches or whatever, so they don’t bat an eye at this – I suspect I’m out of step with the times.

    1. kittymommy*

      I don’t have a great answer for you except to commiserate that the security protocol sounds super-irritating!! I would hate having to that every day.

    2. 1234*

      While I don’t like it, I feel like in this age, it’s necessary/expected. For example, my work email is on my phone. I’ve had to download work apps on it as well but generally delete them after I don’t need them anymore.

      1. HBJ*

        I wonder what they’d do if you couldn’t download an app? I don’t have a top of the line phone, and it’s currently full (I tried to update an app the other day and couldn’t). I have very few apps on my phone and only extremely necessary ones. I can’t just delete a couple. So if I was asked to download an app, I’d have to juggle around trying to find a couple photos or videos I don’t need (which I’ve already done, so I wouldn’t find much) to delete to clear up space. It’d be very annoying.

        1. Flyleaf*

          I’d only be concerned if they required that I download an application like Mobile Iron that allows the company to control or access my phone.

    3. Anona*

      We have this too. I also don’t like it, but it is what it is. We at least have the option of switching the notification to whatever number we prefer, so I could have it call my (landline) company phone, for example. I haven’t done that, because I do sometimes want to use our system at home. But I commiserate!

    4. Fikly*

      This is a standard, best-practice, minimal cost security measure in today’s technology.

      Is your objection that your company is not buying you a separate cell phone for this one purpose?

      1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

        Well, it’s minimal cost to the company because they shifted all the cost onto me. But, you are basically quoting my IT guy when I raised my objection.

        1. bunniferous*

          This is just how life is now. It really is not that big a deal on that one thing. You making it a big deal might be.

          1. ArtK*

            I don’t agree. Many of the companies that I’ve worked for either provide a cell phone or reimburse some or all if they require me to use my own. Unreimbursed, they’re stealing part of OPs salary.

          2. SarahKay*

            I’m actually with “Is it weird to be annoyed…” on this one. If work wants me to do a job, work should supply me with the tools, or at the very least offer to supply them. After all, pens aren’t expensive, notebooks aren’t expensive, I could supply my own (and in fact usually do supply my own pen), but I would expect work to provide at least a basic version of them. In the same way, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for Is It Weird to expect that work will provide some option that doesn’t include use of her personal phone and phone number.

            1. kittymommy*

              Same. What happens if I forget my phone at home, or don’t have unlimited text (which I actually don’t, it’s capped at 500/mth) or just simply don’t have a cell phone?? If a company is going to give only part of the tools to do my job and then expect me to take on the cost/work of getting the rest, that’s not cool.

              1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

                Most companies won’t hire you if you don’t have a cell phone, so it is moot anyway.

                1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                  That makes no sense. My IT-guy husband has no cell phone because he simply doesn’t want to be reachable by his somewhat boundaries-challenged mom at odd hours and while at work.
                  Some phone number yes. An email address yes.
                  A cell phone? Nope. Who would even know!?

                2. Gumby*

                  Eh, I know someone who refuses to get a smart phone because he is extremely privacy-oriented. Still has a flip phone but doesn’t text. He has had no problem getting jobs in tech in the SF Bay Area.

              2. Data Maven*

                This actually happened to me recently. I was out of a phone for about a week, and during that time I was unable to log on to ANY system for work (time reporting, even my email ON MY WORK COMPUTER). IT’s solution was that I went to their department (located over 3 blocks away) to verify who I am IN PERSON. EVERY DAY.
                (can you tell I’m still resentful?)

            2. Federal Middle Manager*

              “Should” provide and “does” provide are two different things. I use my personal phone for work emails and two-factor authentication. Yes, it’s work related and I’m personally subsidizing this from my money, but, no, I’m not going to make a fuss and/or give up my current salary/benefits over it.

          3. Elizabeth West*

            Bullpucky. If a company can’t or won’t cover the costs of doing business, they shouldn’t be in business.

            1. Yorick*

              But we don’t have any indication that they’re not covering the cost of doing business. This isn’t costing the commenter anything. We don’t know what they’d do if it did. And it would be pretty silly for them to give her a new cell phone for this purpose.

              I’m super annoyed by duo athentication too, but not because my company is shifting the cost to me. It doesn’t cost me a penny. I’m just annoyed that I have to get up and get my cell phone from the other side of the room whenever I want to check my email.

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Commenter says her plan has a max# of texts. So yes it COULD someday cost her something.

              2. Random tech co*

                Same here. This is not a big deal AT ALL, doesn’t cost me a penny, is standard tech, etc. It’s only annoying when I leave my phone in a different room and have to get up and get it.

          4. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

            It would certainly be a big thing if work required me to spend money on the cost of two texts a day (I’m on PAYG – I typically top up £5 every six weeks because I really don’t use calls/texts to contact my limited social circle) without reimbursing me.
            I wouldn’t necessarily have an issue with them using my personal cell, because I barely use it myself and wouldn’t require them to provide a separate work phone, but if it’s costing ME money to work for THEM that isn’t adequately reflected in the benefits package, this is a direction of businesses I would certainly make a big deal out of pushing back against.

        2. Yorick*

          But this isn’t costing you anything. It wouldn’t cost most people anything. The vast majority of phone plans include free texts, and even if it didn’t you’d be able to get an app and (I presume) use the company’s wifi to access it.

        3. Observer*

          Not really – in your kind of position, it’s reasonable to assume that you have unlimited text as that’s pretty much standard for basic cell phone accounts. Now, if they were requiring you to use data, even small amounts that would be different because even “unlimited” data accounts are generally not really unlimited. Also, requiring people to install software on their personal devices can create problems in a way that getting a text doesn’t.

      2. Librarian In the Academy*

        There are people who don’t have cell phones (yes, really), or who have cell phones that are not smartphones. Would the company assign a company phone to a worker without a smartphone? Then you would have some people required to use their personal smartphones and some whose smartphones were provided by the company. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

        1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

          Because of the text option, I think even an old clamshell phone would work (if it got texts). Which is better than the app-only option. I kind of got the impression they were being generous letting me use the text function instead of the app.

        2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          How so? The other people bought their own smartphones for their own reasons, and this isn’t affecting their smartphones.

          Those without smartphones would, presumably, only use them for work purposes. So this would just put them on a level playing field with those who already had smartphones.

          Seems to me much less fair to exclude some people on the grounds that they didn’t already have (and may not be able to afford) their own personal smartphones.

      3. techRando*

        There are hardware RSA tokens which can provide the same security without requiring her to own and pay for a personal cellphone. My company provides them to workers who prefer them and have no need for a corporate phone otherwise.

        1. Not really a waitress*

          Yes. I had a fob with a changing number and a 4 digit passcode in my head. It was on my keychain. So even if someone got the fob they didn’t know my passcode

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yep, this is what Exjob did (for network logins) and THEY provided it. It was their cost and they covered it.

      4. Norm*

        No, definitely not the best practice. The best practice from a security standpoint is for the company to provide the equipment necessary to do the work. Employers would like to make it standard, but we should resist when possible.

    5. Anax*

      If two-factor authentication is needed – and it’s a good idea for many industries – the other option I’ve seen is to carry around a little keychain dongle. (It works in the same way – shows a security code which changes every 60 seconds or so.)

      I suspect that a lot of folks lose their dongles, and both they and their employers tend to find cell phones more convenient. There’s also less risk that you’ll leave it laying out, and give someone else physical access to the codes. I totally get that it’s annoying, though; I would also be exasperated if I had to use my phone for work.

      You might be able to ask if they will instead support a keychain dongle. If they’re working with a larger 2FA provider, like RSA SecurID, they may also have the dongle available as a less-popular option, or you might be able to request they acquire one, since the device itself is pretty cheap. The problem will be if there isn’t a dongle compatible with the 2FA software they’re using.

      * On whether 2FA is needed – Honestly, security risks can be way weirder than they sound. For instance, since you work with the government, someone with access to your account would have access to your emails, and probably a number of government employees’ email addresses. That information would let them craft a better spearphishing attempt, perhaps compromising a high-level government employee’s account, which would let them penetrate more systems… and so on.

      Seriously, I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s how a lot of hacking occurs these days – many seemingly-innocuous steps which lead to a big problem. Government in particular has been more security-minded since the Russian hacking attempts in 2016, and that’s probably part of the push – they may be pressuring anyone they work with to invest in better security.

      2FA is basically about physical access – “something you know and something you have”. Since so many of these hack attempts come from overseas, limiting access to ‘people who are physically here’ or ‘people who are physically in possession of this object’ is a pretty good deterrent, so it’s being used with increasing frequency. That’s generally a good thing, but you probably do have to get used to the security codes, if not their delivery mechanism. Sorry.

      1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

        Yes, if they had given me a dongle, I wouldn’t have objected. I could have kept it locked in my desk or something maybe. I don’t actually mind the security aspect so much as the “we will be using your property to do our business” aspect. And I realize it’s a slightly irrational position, I mean, I use my car to get to work.

        1. AccountantWendy*

          I see both sides of this. I think you’re making it a bigger deal than it is, but I also think it’s reasonable to say you shouldn’t need your cell phone for work purposes. Mine died and I waited a week to replace it while I shopped around for deals – what your work do in that case? On the other hand, I have to log into my workplace’s bank account and I use my cell phone for that. It’s possible to receive a phone call on my work desk phone instead but that’s less convenient. I guess the difference is that I opted into using a personal cell phone instead of other options.

          So yeah, it’s weird to be this emotionally invested in something that isn’t costing you money. It’s not weird to calmly pursue an alternative that doesn’t require you to use your personal property for work purposes without reimbursement. But ask yourself if this is windmill is really worth tilting at.

          1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone**

            Yeah, this – so now my cell phone is a job requirement and if I need to replace it, if I lose it, if I forget to bring it to work, I’m derelict of duty? I get that most of the US is all-phones-all-the-time, but that’s not me and it was never a job requirement in the past – and it wouldn’t be one now except because they don’t want to buy dongles bc it’s easier to make this my problem.

            1. Oh No She Di'int*

              Job requirements change. Using email wasn’t a job requirement in the past, and now it is. We didn’t used to have to know HTML or social media or Excel. But now we do. Navigating considerable distances by use of an automobile at one time was not a job requirement. Now it (often) is. So yes, losing your cell phone nowadays could certainly be as problematic for your job as suddenly losing use of your car. You would be expected to replace it as quickly as possible.

        2. HappySnoopy*

          I dont think you’re being weird at all. I am shocked at the level of shrugs others are making.

          1. HappySnoopy*

            I should say, I work with two factor id all the time, but its employer supplied for work.

      2. Alianora*

        My university uses 2FA, but we have several different options. We can use our cell phones (what most people do) or use our work (desktop) phones. I appreciate the option, although I don’t think it’s that big a deal to use your cell phone – just annoying if you happen to forget to charge it one day.

        To the OP, you could also set up a Google Voice account and set that number as your 2FA number. That way, you can sign in on any browser to receive texts and you wouldn’t need your specific physical device. However, it might make you more vulnerable to the overseas hackers that Anax was talking about.

        1. Anax*

          Honestly, if my Google account was compromised I would have MUCH bigger problems than that, lol.

          In personal life, I would HIGHLY recommend using 2FA for email, online banking, data backups (like OneDrive), and online shopping on major sites (like Amazon or Steam). That code will, of course, probably go to your phone – but at least it’s not directly for work…

          1. Alianora*

            Sure. I actually have Google Voice as a backup for work 2FA and it’s not something I’m worried about because there are security measures in place for non-recognized devices. It’s just that OP’s workplace might have some policy that you have to use your actual physical device.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      We have a similar app on our phones too – it is very lightweight. As long as the company-required apps are not eating my data and driving up my phone bill, I’m fine.

      One caveat to me being okay with all this is, if your phone dies of old age or if you lose your phone, or upgrade to a new phone, you will suddenly be unable to log into your work computer (at least with the app we use, you cannot just install it and be good to go, the company has to authenticate the new phone somehow and send you a bar code to activate the app). The transition went smoothly for me when I got a new phone, but I had to coordinate the switch from my old phone to my new with the helpdesk at my work and that was kind of annoying.

      1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

        That’s a good point. Well, I’m an old fogey in that I’m not really one to carry my phone around all the time – it used to be packed away in my bag in a drawer, not out and next to me at my desk 24/7. Sometimes I even forgot it at home – guess I better never do that again. Well I’m sure I’ll adjust. And that my company will just deal with the fact that now I see all my wife’s texts haha.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Generally the alternative to using an app or receiving the texts would be to have a physical fob with a button that generates the code(s) for you. But that’s another dongle to keep track of, to have on your keys, to not break, etc. While I sympathize at your frustration over using your personal device for a work thing, the vast majority of users at this point would prefer the method you have now: it sends it to your phone. It’s something you carry with you anyway. It’s not costing you anything. It doesn’t constitute company data on your phone so they’d have no reason to use your device in any kind of discovery. So the downsides are minimal and you’ll probably find yourself in a very small minority pushing back on this. It is probably the new normal. If you didn’t have a smartphone or a mobile phone at all, it’d be on them to provide you an alternative, like the fob, so you might try asking about that instead but it does risk seeming out of touch if you don’t need the alternative, just want it.

      1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

        Yeah, if they had offered the option of either the phone thing or the fob, I would have chosen the fob and most of my coworkers would probably have chosen the phone, so I get that it’s easier for the company to just nudge me into using my phone.

    8. Mop Head*

      With all the hacking going on, with companies and hospitals being hacked and their data held hostage, two factor authentication is more than necessary. My employer had the fobs for remote access, and last year changed to cell phone. I had to download a free app. I’m not bothered by it at all, and if they have to go to two factor authentication at work, I’ll have to do that as well. Better safe than sorry, and working at a government facility it makes a lot of sense.

    9. Spartan*

      I will second that 2 factor authentication is now the norm and that the second factor is generally someone’s personal cell phone. It changes the least and is something an employee will 99% of the time already own. The app is a good way to get around anyone who does have to pay per text etc. The cell works if you switch desks during the day log in from a laptop in a conference room or as you stated work from home.

      I understand the desire to keep a cell number private but this type of usage should in no way increase your spam calls. If it does then your company is selling employee information and that is a huge concern itself.

      1. Is it weird to be annoyed that work uses my cell phone*

        This is good to know about the privacy stuff. I don’t really understand such things.

        1. Anax*

          You may also not be aware that many spam calls have nothing to do with someone selling your number.

          There’s everything from the Chinese robocalls which seem to be just blanketing every single number in certain area codes, to voter registration details (in some states), to getting it direct from your telephone company (if their TOS allows). Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely avoid them, no matter how careful you are.

          You might also be interested in the FTC’s resources on call blocking. – https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-block-unwanted-calls

    10. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      I can’t speak to whether they should provide you with stuff…but I commiserate with how irritating 2FA is. Is there a way to set it to “trust” or “remember” your computer so that you only have to login with the phone once a day (at one place I worked/went to school) or once a month (where I work now). But really, I hate it so much. I’m working with no sensitive data whatsoever.

    11. Coverage Associate*

      I am pretty sure California would require some amount of reimbursement to you in these circumstances. But we’re in California and required to use an app, and when I asked about reimbursement, I was brushed off. I didn’t push it by citing the case law, though I did passive aggressively leave the case printed where the partners could find it.

    12. Kelly*

      My employer, a public university, rolled out a similar computer login process last year for employees and are starting the process soon for students. We were given two options for how to get our access codes for anytime we log onto a campus network service: an app on our phones or a key fob. Most people do not have their phone bills paid for by our employer.

      There were also concerns raised too about if we installed the app on our personal phones, would those be subject to open records requests. The state that I work in gets a lot of open records requests, and the attitude towards filling them varies depending on various factors, including the agency/department, and their feelings towards the group or individual requesting them. Some people who are more aware that anything that is in your work email is subject to open records requests are very wary of using it for personal, non work business, myself included. I know I’m not the only person who also has used personal email for work things that are more social in nature as well, because there have been open records requests made to prove how little state workers actually work.

      Most people ended up getting the fobs because of those concerns and some issues with the app.

    13. Jules the 3rd*

      Yes, cell phone use is so normalized (in the US at least) that it is assumed you have one, that your texts are free, and will be using it for 2 factor authentication. The additional apps (slack or email or sheets) are much less common so there’s usually a lot more formality around them.

      If you want to get around giving your personal cell to employers, set up a google phone number. It’s free, and you can forward it to your cell, then delete it whenever.

    14. Michelle*

      I would be annoyed as well. We got a new payroll system last year and they sent out the registration info via email. Step one was to download an app*. I called HR and asked if their was a desktop version because I don’t like to download apps on my phone. You would have thought I asked her for a kidney or something. She very clearly was irritated I didn’t want to use the app. Turns out I wasn’t the only one and they ended up installing an iPad for staff to use to punch in/out if we didn’t want to use the app.

      *The app had to have access to a bunch of stuff on the cell phone and I don’t want my employer to have access to my personal stuff. Nothing scandalous but why do they need to access my system settings or photo gallery? They have nothing to do with my job .

      1. Nicotene*

        That’s how I always feel. “You have to use this app to activate your keycard” – oh, okay. Wait, it wants access to my contacts and call records and location data even when I’m not in use? And there’s no opt-out or don’t agree, it’s just – download this on your personal device, and don’t talk back, minion.

        1. blackcat*

          At least on an iPhone, you can go into settings and disable that access after the fact. But it may prevent the thing from working.

          But yeah, installing an app that grants the company access to my location data, photos, and contacts would be a hard no.

      2. Just browsing*

        And this is why I don’t even have work email on my personal phone – it would require providing sufficient access to wipe out the phone data without prior notice. No, thanks!
        P.S. My way of avoiding various “required” apps is to have a Windows Phone. I still have my personal email, navigation, camera, music, a few games, entire Office suite, and other stuff I care about, but when someone wants me to install something: Do you have a Windows version? No? Oh, what a shame, I guess I can’t use it then.

        1. miss_chevious*

          Yep, this is why I carry a work phone and a personal phone. Under no circumstances am I creating even the slightest possibility that my personal phone could be reviewed, cloned, seized or even looked at by my employer (or anyone who sued them). I really love my job, but work is work and personal is personal.

      3. Fikly*

        I don’t know about iPhones but with Androids you can have a work profile and it’s isolated from accessing all your personal stuff.

    15. Llellayena*

      I’d be annoyed by this in part because I regularly (and deliberately) leave my cell phone at home. But I also relatively recently had a phone that would charge me for EACH text sent or received (no text plan, flip phone). This is more unusual now, but not unheard of. They need to provide an option that does not use your personal phone, even if they do still encourage the phone use because it’s easier.

    16. AGirlHasNoScreenName*

      2-factor identification (using something you know, like a password, in addition to something you have, like a phone [app or text or call]) is both increasingly common and necessary for adequate account security. If you are uncomfortable with using your personal device, ask if there’s a separate fob that can handle it, or, barring that, if it can be forwarded to your work phone.

    17. Alex*

      My company instituted this, and I actually had to go out and buy a smartphone for it because I didn’t have one. It was assumed that I did, and when I said I didn’t, I was laughed at and told to get with the program.

      So yes I think this is how things are now.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      They would have a problem with my husband who has refused to get a cell phone. And honestly only my most recent phone is not a flipphone!

      1. Observer*

        The fact that your prior phones were not smart phones is not really relevant. What is relevant is what the CURRENT situation is.

    19. sunshyne84*

      Can you use a Google voice number? But then again Google would have your number. Idk…might just be something you have to deal with.

    20. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      This is one of those Hills To Die On for me, because I really don’t want personal devices and accounts subject to discovery if we ever get sued, so I don’t do work stuff from them. Also, I don’t carry a smartphone and have a pay-as-you-go flip phone, so I’m not interested in getting work-related calls or texts on it unless they’re going to reimburse me.

      I eventually convinced work to dig out an old iPad and install the app on that instead. Since it’s their iPad, I’m happy to install anything they want on it. Sure, it’s stupidly large and heavy to carry around compared to a dongle (which is what I’d been trying to get), but I’m not sure if IT is too cheap to buy the dongles or if our 2fa doesn’t support them and I’m not paid enough to do in-depth research for IT about how 2fa works.

      1. IT tattletale*

        Cheap. Dongles are some of if not the oldest form of 2FA. DUO Security is like THE name in the space right now so I’m assuming that’s your provider and they support like 7 different ways of 2FA from USB dongles to mobile push or text to biometrics. Push notifications are the cheapest model, followed by phone call then SMS, because the phone and SMS options require your company purchase a pool of telephony credits. The dongle-based methods I assume come with additional upfront cost for the dongles.

        Source: work in IT, previously worked in IT purchasing, all in companies too cheap for dongles.

    21. blackcat*

      The app thing is weird and overkill, but 2FA is really necessary from a security standpoint and I understand why they do it.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what software do they use for this? It’s possible that you can actually use your desk phone (set to call, and then push a button when you answer) depending on the system.

    22. Observer*

      I understand your concern about having your number shared. But if your people are at all competent, the numbers in this system are going to be guarded like their bank information. Because those numbers are THE key to everyone’s accounts – cell phone number can be hijacked, so no one wants anyone to know what number is being used for authentication.

      TLDR; Spam is nasty, but it’s extremely unlikely that this is going to be a source for more spam.

      1. nicotene*

        haha yeah but i mean, c’mon every day there’s something in the news about a new terrible data hack from the most seemingly secure places – credit card companies, the federal office of personnel, and yes banks!

        1. Observer*

          Yeah, but spammers are not the ones hacking these systems. People who want a lot more valuable data *or* who want ransom. People’s cell numbers are not what they are after.

    23. Clever Name*

      I use my cell phone for work. I take work calls on it, send/receive emails, I can enter my time, I communicate via text and app with IT. I don’t mind because my company reimburses me for the cost of my cell phone. I would be annoyed if I had to use my phone at this level with no reimbursement. I’m not sure if I’d bother for 2 texts a day, but maybe you could ask for a partial reimbursement? The worst they can do is say no, right?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Have you read any of Alison’s posts (& the followup comments) about a lot of work access having the right to wipe your phone because of company data? I wouldn’t summarize it well. Just…if you haven’t, go looking in the archives for it.

        1. Observer*

          This is not the kind of situation where that would apply. Being able to wipe your data comes up when you are using actual company data or systems such as email or files. The 2FA stuff is different. Especially when you are using text as your second factor, there is no way for the company to use it to wipe the phone, nor would your phone be considered to have company data.

    24. Little Beans*

      We have this at my workplace but there are options for people who don’t have smartphones or don’t want to use them for work – they can either use an office landline and get a phone call, or they can check out a little device that looks like a pager. But to be honest, I don’t know anyone at our organization who uses either of those – literally everyone just uses their cell phone. Also, our system allows us to save our log-in information for up to 30 days, so we only have to log in once a month, or whenever you clear your browser cache.

      So I don’t think your company is being unreasonable by requiring this extra security measure (from what I’ve heard, it sounds like having a second-step verification is becoming pretty standard security protocol), but I don’t see why they didn’t choose something that had an alternative.

    25. TootsNYC*

      I have unlimited texting plan so this is not costing me anything
      You can also probably get those codes by accessing the corporate WiFi network.

      Our company has this too, and there are people who feel like you do.

      It really doesn’t bother me that much.

      After all, I use a stray envelope here and there; I’ve snagged Post-it notes for home. I make phone calls for my personal matter on company time. I come in late because of the exterminator and don’t take time off. (I also work at a place that has giveaways of promotional materials, and I’ve gotten some neat and useful stuff from that.)

      I use that same authenticator for personal things, so it’s not even that I am exposed to some security risk from the app itself.

      It’s such a small thing, and I get so many similar perks (museum memberships, etc.) that I don’t consider it to be too much to ask.

      1. TL -*

        I won’t even log into my work email on my phone or personal computer unless it’s really, really urgent and rare. And I log right back out afterwards – my phone is my personal device and my personal business and I have never been paid enough to justify having work intrude on it. If I need that badly to be reached out of office hours, they can pay for a phone.

        Same for the 2F authentication; they can pay for a fob instead of my phone. I don’t ever want my company looking at my phone, having access to my phone, or feeling like they have ownership of any of my phone’s contents for any reasons. Nor do I want my phone used for company business.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        I see your point about the shoe being on the other foot. We don’t always appreciate some of the free things we get from employers.

        Have you specifically checked with your employer and confirmed that they agree with you that the stray envelope or Post-It note here and there is OK for you to take for personal purposes? And that your making personal calls on their time is also OK? If not, that could be considered petty larceny and time theft — people have gotten fired for that.

        And that they’re OK with paying you — and not charging you leave — for time you weren’t working because of the exterminator (or whatever other reason)? (Or do you instead work later or otherwise make up the time?) If not, that could be considered time card fraud — a firing offense.

        More than a few people have been surprised with pink slips for things like this.

    26. Norm*

      “Is it considered so ubiquitous to own a cell phone and carry it all the time that there’s nothing weird about the company getting to benefit from it?”

      Many employers would like this to be standard, but it’s abusive and unwise. If they want you to use a cell phone for work, they should provide it.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        I agree. I’m a physician, and when I was in med school and residency (2007-2016) the standard was to have a pager. When you were done for the day, or if you were going to be on vacation, you could call the page operator and tell them to sign you out to a covering pager until XYZ date. If you needed to page someone, you’d go to an internal paging website and type in their name, and you could see if they were available or signed out, with an option to page the covering person if you wanted.

        The academic medical center where I now work as an attending physician has decided that pagers are too old-school (to be fair, they kind of are) so we are required to use our personal cell phones as our pagers. There is an app which has replaced the internal paging website, except there is no way to sign out or assign coverage. I’ve gotten paged when out of the country on vacation, with no access to the electronic medical record and no way to tell the person paging me they need to contact someone else. Really frustrating, and potentially dangerous for patient care.

  10. The Photographer's Husband*

    Hello everyone,
    I come bearing a work story from my recently-retired mother that I found amusing and made me see her in a bit more of a bad-ass light than I’m used to (she is usually a very quiet and ‘go-with-the-flow’ type of personality), so thought I’d share for entertainment value.

    The time and setting are around the mid-1990s at a small-city hospital in the Midwest. I was too young to pay attention to the intricacies of where my parents went every day. My mom was an RN switching from nursing to an IT role within the hospital.

    Her start on the IT team was rough, considering she was seated not just in a different area, but an entirely different building from the rest of the IT team for the duration of her training for reasons unknown. Those weeks were lonely and difficult as she said she often walked the riverside during lunch wondering why the heck she had chosen this new career path.

    So here she is, stuck on her own in a different building and running through hour after endless hour of training videos and documentation, getting used to the hospital’s (even then) antiquated systems, waiting to be moved to the rest of the IT team as a full-fledged member. That’s when she noticed something very strange.

    See, part of the training she was undergoing was learning how she could impersonate other user’s accounts as an administrator in the system. Usually this is to help with troubleshooting so that the IT Helpdesk can see exactly what the user is seeing. She was practicing the process of account impersonation when she discovered that somebody had been impersonating her own account. And not just anybody.

    It was the CIO of the hospital.

    So she started taking screenshots of the access logs and when her account had been impersonated. She started documenting the files he was looking at while he pretended to be my mom. Why would a C-level executive who already has access to anything he might need to see be impersonating a newbie in training? Because he was looking at stuff that even he shouldn’t be seeing – HIPAA-violation stuff. Apparently his wife was staying at the hospital and he was not only abusing his access to the system to see files he shouldn’t, but he was using my mom’s account to cover it up in case anyone happened to notice. On the surface level, it would only look like my mom’s account had viewed them and wouldn’t show that her account had been impersonated – only she could tell that.

    She wrestled with how to deal with this situation for a few days, talking with my dad about whether or not she should just let it go and pretend she didn’t notice, or who she should bring this to. Finally, she reached out to a trusted manager and said she had a ‘delicate situation’.

    Thankfully, the manager knew exactly what to do and due to my mom’s excellent documentation, was able to raise the issue with the relevant authorities. After a short investigation, the CIO was promptly disgraced and fired, and my mom avoided becoming a future scapegoat.

    But that’s not quite the end – This (now ex) CIO also happened to live in the same neighborhood as us (small Midwest city, remember). The next block party was quite awkward. Evidently the only contact he made was to grumble, “I wouldn’t have done anything, you know.”

    1. irene adler*

      Wow!
      Not impressed with the CIO’s “I wouldn’t have done anything, you know.” excuse.
      See, if your Mom had done nothing, and someone discovered “her” HIPAA-violation activities, would the CIO have come to her defense? Or would he just let her take the fall for his crime?
      Way to stand up for yourself, Mom!!

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        Right? Sure you wouldn’t have done anything with your job and reputation on the line. I’m proud of her :-D

    2. CatCat*

      So glad your mom found that!

      Evidently the only contact he made was to grumble, “I wouldn’t have done anything, you know.”

      What utter BS. He already had done something unethical and illegal!

      1. Lison*

        So if it had come up in an audit that “I” a neighbour, had looked at files I had no work reason to look at you would have done nothing? Good to know.

    3. WellRed*

      This week, our local paper reported on a hospital that harassed an employee with a disability, to the extent that no less than three employees accessed her medical records. They also had a wall of shame, a collage of sorts of patients, genitals, hygiene, etc. Even after this same employee complained to the hospital about the wall (and the other stuff) it took four months to have it removed. Way to stay classy, hospital personnel.

          1. JJ Bittenbinder*

            Wow. Wasn’t just your local news that reported it! It’s all over the AP. Pretty disgusting behavior by those employees.

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        Oh my word, that is awful. That’s such a strange dichotomy of being in a career where at least I’d assume one is motivated by the care and well-being of the people you see and just absolute trashy, judgmental behavior.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      The funny thing is, if he had used his own account, it’s unlikely anyone would have noticed.

      But using ani IT person’s account was super dumb, he should have used accounts that had valid reasons for viewing the records.

      1. Lana Kane*

        If the hospital has even the most basic safeguards in place, an employee accessing their relative’s chart would have immediately been noticed.

    5. SaraV*

      I worked at a large health care provider in the mid-00’s in IT. We had a higher level exec of the company go in for some type of minor procedure, and there were some firings because employees were looking at the exec’s medical record that had no business being there. (Different wing/floor)

      HIPAA will take you down hard.

  11. Yogurt pants*

    I wrote about George on 9/6 open thread, and had a few (uneventful and quiet) follow ups.

    This is what happened last week–

    George was visiting the office before going on vacation. Company policy dictates that any manager going on vacation has to have a backup available, ie a supervisor. When asked about George’s backup, they said “oh Edwin will do it.”

    Edwin is on my team. He reports directly to me. He’s friends with George (since they were peers and started around the same time). When George said this, we were all like…wat?

    Right after hte meeting, I had a conversation with the other senior mgr (my direct mgr is on leave) and they agreed that George shouldn’t use Edwin, they need to use their own team.

    I spoke to Edwin later and he asked how the meeting went (the meeting time had changed las t minute and Edwin had a prior obligation so could not attend as he normally does); I went over everything and mentioned “by the way, if anything for George’s team comes in, please redirect them to Britney etc.”

    Maybe it’s worth mentioning–Edwin is a great employee and asset to my team. I trust him, so I know it wasn’t a gossip sesh as much as just two friends talking about their day.
     
    I had to leave the office at that point, and returned the next day.
    While I was out, apparently Edwin and George went to lunch and Edwin mentioned what I said. George went to OUR DIRECTOR and put their spin on things.
    I came back the next day and the sr mgr I spoke to updated me –he said that he did talk to George and George had backtracked and said “oh I only needed Edwin for [specific software that only managers  have access to use]. Otherwise, Britney will be stepping in.” I dropped it at that point.

    In all this, what bothers is that GEORGE DIDNT EVEN ASK ME IF HE COULD USE EDWIN. It’s like I was nonexistent, a nothing.
    For more context–Nancy, another manager of a team in our dept, was out for a day and asked if she could use Edwin as a backup, and her back up had an impt dr appt. I said yea sure, it’s JUST ONE DAY.

    Anyways, things are quiet now–George went on vacation, nothing really came up on his team, so it didn’t affect Edwin or myself. Director didn’t say anything to me or to my direct mgr when he came back from leave, so it’s safe to say that George’s conversation with her didn’t have the effect I was worried it would (being that director would come down hard on me for “not being a team player” etc etc.)

    1. Shoes On My Cat*

      Ugh. Not cool. When George comes back, is having a brief “I need you to check in with me before assigning my direct reports to cover for you. Can you do that? Great, thanks”

      1. Yogurt pants*

        George came back this week and said everything was fine, Britney was able to handle it all.

        I was advised to drop it so if I were to bring it up again, it would look bad on me.

        I can’t block a friendship nor I have any desire to. Even Edwin was like “yeah its weird why George asked me and not Britney or anyone else on his team.”

        I’m trying not to be so emotional about it. I mean with all that said and done, G isn’t as bad as other people I’ve encountered and I realize my situation could be way worse. but it’s still annoying.

  12. so anon for this*

    How much would you judge your coworker for taking their cell phone in the bathroom stall?

      1. NotAPirate*

        I should clarify I would judge you for using it. I cannot stand people loudly talking on the phone in restrooms. I don’t care if your caller has said their fine with hearing background noise, I did not consent to your caller listening to me use the bathroom.

    1. 1234*

      Not at all? However, if they were loudly playing games and having a full on conversation then yes lol. I would purposely flush loudly.

      While my coworkers don’t do what I mentioned above, others who share our bathroom will. One time, someone took a phone interview in there!

      1. Mbarr*

        Seconded. Phone conversations in bathrooms are icky.
        That being said, I might have stronger opinions if I could see how long a person has been in the bathroom with their phone… But at none of my companies have I been able to see how long a person is in there. Right now, if someone disappears, I assume they’ve gone to the washroom, then walked to the kitchen, etc.

    2. Lyudie*

      Phones disappear at offices. I keep mine with me pretty much the whole time I’m at work. *Talking* on the phone while in the stall I will judge people for, but not just taking the phone (or browsing/texting) in the stall.

      1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

        +1. My immediate reaction to this question was, “Not at all? That’s how you get your phone swiped from wherever you left it.” Sure, if someone’s having a full blown conversation it’s a little rude/annoying, but just taking it with them to keep it with them or do a quick text/social media browse while in a stall isn’t a problem IMO.

      2. The Original K.*

        I had the same thought. I’ve worked in places where I couldn’t lock stuff up and I’d take everything of value with me everywhere I went, including the stall. I’ve seen phones left outside stalls on the sink and I’ve always thought that to be inviting trouble – it would be nothing at all to just walk out with one left out so carelessly.

        I would not talk on the phone in the stall, but I would, have, and will likely continue to bring my phone into stalls with me.

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      I’d judge him if he is on his phone more than doing his actual work. Especially if I have to pick up the slack.

      Restrooms are gross. I personally wouldn’t be talking or playing Candy Crush on the toilet. I’ve seen people talk on the phone while doing their business, and walk out not washing their hands.

      What can you say?

      I’d probably think yuck, and make a mental note not to use his phone unless I wipe it down lol..

    4. kittymommy*

      I don’t even think it would register with me and if it did, I wouldn’t think anything about it.

    5. Anongradstudent*

      None? I did not realize this was a taboo. I usually bring it with me to the bathroom (usually listening to podcasts so I don’t have to hear others). If you wash your hands and regularly sanitize the phone, I don’t know why you should care.

    6. Natalie*

      Unless they were having a loud conversation as they walked into the bathroom, I doubt I would even notice. Nor do I care.

    7. Dasein9*

      I would be more likely to judge someone for paying attention to what coworkers are doing in the bathroom stall.

        1. Random tech co*

          But they didn’t ask if you’d judge a person for talking loudly on the phone in a bathroom stall. They said bring the phone into the bathroom. Totally different questions.

    8. ElizabethJane*

      Massively, but only because I work in a super relaxed environment and nobody cares if you’re on your phone, so a bathroom is a weird place to go. There are phone rooms. And offices. And empty conference rooms. And hallways. And a lounge. Pick literally anywhere else.

      1. Clisby*

        But why would you deliberately *not* take your phone into a bathroom stall? I mean, my phone is in my pocket. I always take it with me when I go into a bathroom stall. I never use it in the bathroom. I’d be very hesitant to leave my cellphone on my desk when I went to the bathroom.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      What are you judging them for? People do that all the time.

      As long as the co-worker doesn’t touch the phone after wiping certain parts but before washing her hands, and as long as the co-worker isn’t talking loudly on the phone, I don’t see what the issue is.

      1. so anon for this*

        Well, the punchline is the coworker taking their phone in the stall… is me. I ran into a higher-up I don’t see often on the way and she was being very complimentary about my recent accomplishments and I was trying to appear professional but the whole time I was thinking “she must see my phone and be judging me. This is horrible. Why don’t dresses have pockets? Oh, this is terrible. I’m going to freak out all day about this.”

        (I do not talk on the phone in the bathroom stall and wish others wouldn’t either. That is my personal bridge too far.)

        1. Admin Formerly Known as Actor*

          I wouldn’t sweat it, though I totally understand the impulse to. I doubt the higher-up even noticed, or if they did it was a half-acknowledgment that you were carrying one, not an absolute judgment on your character or anything. Especially if they were being complimentary, I doubt holding a phone while near a restroom would tarnish your reputation!

        2. Mr. Shark*

          heh, well, I’m obviously not the right audience for this, because I take my phone with me in the bathroom stall all the time (and I think most people at my work do as well), but I work in manufacturing, so no one is wearing a dress or anything without pockets (most have jeans on).

          So your whole question puzzled me, until you got to the punchline and the fact that you were wearing a dress and therefore had no pockets.

          But I wouldn’t judge anyone for that. I think by now it’s pretty standard (despite some of the reactions to your question). Yes, it’s probably pretty disgusting when you think about it, but you wash your hands and clean off your phone regularly. There are germs everywhere.

        3. JJ Bittenbinder*

          HA! So many people assumed you were judging others for this.

          I’m willing to bet your higher up didn’t notice and, if she did, it didn’t register as anything out of the ordinary.

        4. TootsNYC*

          I have my work badge in a pocket on the back of my phone.And I also have work Slack and work email. So I always take my phone everywhere I go.

          I bet she didn’t even notice.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I just… where do you put the phone before you wipe, until you wash your hands? In your pocket? My pockets don’t hold my phone well. I occasionally take my phone into the restroom, but I put it on the “purse table” by the door until I’m done.

        1. so anon for this*

          I put the case on the toilet-paper holder and afterwards grab it with my non-dominant hand.

        2. no poo on phone, we wipe with toilet paper*

          I put the phone down to wipe (on the toilet paper holder or the trash thing which has a flat lid) and then carry the phone out with me to wash my hands.

        3. Meepmeep*

          Best thing I ever got was a phone case with a cross body shoulder strap. I haven’t had to put down my phone on anything yucky ever since.

    10. Irish*

      Uh, a lot. Everyone is using their phone on the toilet these days, but that is NOT the place to be talking to someone in that shared space. It’s weird and gross.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        it’s one thing if they’re having conversations, but maybe they’re just playing with it or have it because they don’t like leaving it at their desk

    11. Shark Whisperer*

      It depends on if they are taking their phone to make a phone call or just to check AAM while pooping. I haaate when people talk on the phone in public bathrooms, but as a person who has IBS, I enjoy some entertainment while doing my business.

    12. iglwif*

      taking their phone into the stall? Or talking on it while in there?

      In the first case, I probably wouldn’t even notice. In the second case, yeah, not cool.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        ditto. I take my phone with me in a pocket, where it usually stays for the duration, because I’ve ended up accidentally locked in a cubicle before now and it was an unpleasant experience.
        I would expect anyone coming in and hearing me on the phone (“yeah, hello, facilities? the lock’s broken and I can’t get out”) would probably forgive me having a stall conversation though.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Can we enshrine this as as The Only Acceptable Phone Call to Make From a Bathroom Stall? (I mean, maybe alongside calling a friend or relative to drive to work with backup clothes for you because There Has Been an Incident.)

    13. LCH*

      taking it in? none. using it for a phone call? so much.

      my mom is currently in the hospital so my phone is on me at all times just in case. so i guess it also depends on what sort of conversation the person is having in the stall.

    14. Librarian of SHIELD*

      It depends. Is this person just going to the bathroom for 2 minutes and planning to check Twitter or keep listening to their podcast while they’re in there? No judgment whatsoever. Is this a person who takes their phone to the bathroom for 45 minutes at a time when they’re totally unavailable for actual work? Probably some judgment.

    15. Echo*

      Yeah, are they taking calls in the stall or not? At the risk of being indelicate, if I know I’m going to need to be in the bathroom stall for a while I will bring in my phone so I can read, and I would not judge someone for doing that in the least. Taking calls in the bathroom is gross and rude.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      With all that’s going on in the world, I could not possibly care less about whether someone takes their phone into the bathroom with them.

    17. zora*

      I take my phone to the bathroom with me every time. Mostly because if someone calls my cell (we sometimes use cell phones at work) I don’t want my desk neighbors having to listen to it vibrating over and over until it goes to voicemail. Or if texts go off or some other annoying noise.
      But also because I am looking at it on the way to and from the bathroom, it’s a good time to check Instagram, reply to personal texts.

      And all of my coworkers do the same thing.

      I don’t see why this is weird that people take phones into bathrooms anymore, it’s so normal to me.

    18. TXAdmin*

      no judgement for taking it, massive MASSIVE judgement and any noises I can manage if they talk on the phone in the stall. I absolutely HATE when people talk on their phone in a non-private bathroom.

    19. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

      No judgment for taking it. I do that all the time.

      Having loud conversations? Yes.

    20. littlelizard*

      Not at all on a personal level, but we have a specific policy against doing that, so I’d be curious to see what would happen if they got caught…

        1. AnonoDoc*

          Can’t speak for commenter above, but it does freak me out that people are bringing CAMERAs into the bathroom.

    21. Michelle*

      Normally I don’t use understand why people want to take their phones to bathroom but…last week 2 staff members got locked in a bathroom and couldn’t get out, so they had to call for help! The first person was stuck for over 45 minutes and the facilities guys had to stick screwdrivers and a chisel under the door and she had to beat out the pins that go in the hinges to get out. So she literally had to take the door off the hinges!!

      The second woman was only stuck for about 5 minutes. The facilities guy had take the door handle off to get her out. They have changed the locks so, hopefully, no one gets locked in again.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        (been there, done that, made the t-shirt from loo roll! Lesson learned and phone always comes with me now – feel free to judge accordingly).

        Incidentally, as an addendum, our toilets also have motionsense lights which DO NOT PICK UP MOVEMENT IN THE STALLS. Working late, had a bout of tummy trouble, and was plunged into darkenss after approx 7 minutes. That was a fun experience too (/sarcasm). Yay for torch app.

      2. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        And what if you work in a restaurant or somewhere else with a walk-in freezer, and your job requires you to go in there?

    22. Karen from Finance*

      I wouldn’t judge them at all for taking their phone. I do this. It’d be different if they were having a phone conversation, then yes it’s weird.

      1. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

        I search for “poop” to see posts I commented on and I am amazed at how many other posts have “poop” in them. I don’t judge for taking a phone into the stall with you. I also don’t wait until they are done with their conversation to flush. If they are willing to talk in there I don’t have to be quiet.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          For a minute there I didn’t pay attention to your username and was very confused. are they just constantly posting about poop? lol

    23. Oxford Comma*

      If they’re just taking it into the stall with them, well, that could be gross depending on if/how they’re holding it, but I get why people do that. Phones are expensive and get swiped.

      If they’re having actual conversations, I would judge them a lot. And probably make a point of flushing.

    24. Okumura Haru*

      Not at all.
      I understand the need for some privacy, and if they’re OK with the possibility of gross background noise, I can be OK with their phone call.

    25. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have infinite lack of respect for the woman who walks halfway across the building to use the restroom near me for her personal phone calls. Loud ones.
      That said, I do bring my phone in because I don’t want to be the person whose phone rings while she’s gone and drives people up the wall in the open office.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        PS I highly recommend a waterproof phone for just this reason. I get to wash it off.

    26. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t see it as a huge deal. Maybe it’s just so it doesn’t get stolen, not to use while in there.

    27. Apostrophina*

      I’ve been known to do this when I’m waiting for an important phone call (medical tests or house-related, say) in case the phone rings. I wouldn’t have the resulting conversation *in* the bathroom, though. (One coworker was so famous for doing this that now, years after their retirement, people still know what I mean when I say “I heard a ringtone in the bathroom and thought someone was pulling a [Coworker].”

    28. CastIrony*

      I used to take my phone into the restroom, but not anymore because I don’t want bacteria and waste matter on it.

    29. tamarack and fireweed*

      Uh, we walk around with our cell phones, and I’m not leaving it out next to the washbasins! Where am I supposed to put it?

  13. SleepySally*

    Any advice on dealing with people constantly talking over me in meetings. I’m a manager, one of the only females in my department, and when I go to higher level meetings a few specific people will talk over me constantly or answer questions addressed to me that have nothing to do with their department. It’s incredibly demoralizing and frustrating!

    1. Peaches*

      Do you correct them in the moment? If you haven’t already, the next time one of the offenders talks over you. I would let him finish what he is saying (only for the sake of people hearing what you’re about to say next!) When he finishes, say “In the future, please do not interject when I’m talking. I’m happy to answer any questions or hear you’re concerns when I’m finished.” After you’ve explained this once, THEN if/when it happens again, cut him off in the moment and say “excuse me, as I’ve mentioned before, please do not interrupt me when I’m speaking.”

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This is what I do, or I keep talking over the person who tried to interrupt me. It shuts down that behavior real quick.

    2. Cucumberzucchini*

      Can you try to keep talking, so when someone talks over you don’t stop talking. Nobody will be able to understand what’s being said, but I’ve found that to be helpful to signal to people I won’t be talked over and it may stop the behavior. Also try talking a little louder, don’t yell, but your voice may be soft and that may make it easier to talk over. Also make sure you sound confident when you speak. You can also try saying, “Oh wait, I wasn’t finished,” and then continue with your point.

    3. Dasein9*

      Enlisting an ally might help too. Someone to say, “Wasn’t that question for Sally?” or “As Sally was saying. . . .?” can be very effective. (And you may have to run similar interference for them sometime too.)

    4. ElizabethJane*

      First try to set yourself up ahead of time “I know this topic is likely to raise a lot of questions so please let me get through all of the context first – I might give you the answers there!” but if you’re not the one presenting this can be awkward.

      Otherwise I wait until they are done and then say “Please let me finish” and start again. And if it’s one person have a conversation and call them out.

    5. Auntie Social*

      “Stop sign” hand up, directed at miscreant: “Fergus, I’m still speaking.” We also had a really bad interrupter of women and my boss said “Seymour, I don’t see your name on the agenda today, you’re not presenting anything are you? Fine. Sue, you were saying. . .” If at all possible, with the chronic interrupters, finish your report and then announce a break—everyone will be more interested in coffee than in Fergus’ comments.

    6. LKW*

      When it’s egregious or very aggressive, I will continue talking but change to “And although I understand you have things to say, I would like to finish talking.” Sometimes I’ll say “I’m going to ask you to stop talking until I’ve had an opportunity to finish.”

      I just don’t pause or stop.

    7. Existentialista*

      If you’re trying to present material to the group, I recommend standing at the front of the room. It puts you in “teacher mode” so people respect your requests to hold their questions and comments better, and you can point and control who’s speaking a bit better.

      If they are talking over you in general conversation, it’s trickier, but raising your hand can work to gain the floor, and then also whoever is running the meeting will usually say “Anything else?” at the end, which is another time you could grab the floor and make your point.

    8. OhBehave*

      If you don’t feel you can continue talking while someone talks over you, stare at them in disbelief. Once they have said their piece, continue talking…”As I was saying before being interrupted..”

      Someone thinks he has all the answers as he pats you on the head (just my imagination run amok) “Fergus – I believe that question was concerning my dept. I need to correct some info you provided.”

    9. PollyQ*

      Do it right in the moment. If they interrupt while you’re talking, don’t even stop, say “Excuse me, I’m not done yet.” and then keep talking. If someone answers a question, say “Excuse me, I believe that question was addressed to me.” and then go right into answering it. Be very calm, very matter-of-fact, and try not to let it distract you from what you were saying.

    10. Hey Anonny Nonny*

      At an Engineering strat meeting recently, of which there were three women in a sea of 20+ men (ah, tech!), I was pleasantly surprised and happy to see one engineer whom, upon being interrupted, very firmly but politely said, “I wasn’t done talking yet, please let me finish what I was saying, thank you” and then segued right back into what she was presenting. The other two women continued to get shut down, but the initial engineer did not get interrupted again over the course of three days.

      I think the talking-over and interrupting is so socially ingrained that people (men, generally) do it without even thinking. It surprises and gives them a hard reset when a woman firmly pushes back. And as the engineer demonstrated, it doesn’t have to be in a SHUT YOUR FACE, I WAS TALKING, YOU RUDE JACKASS manner to get the point across.

      Unfortunately, I was far more caustic in my response to being talked over. I have a speech impediment that means I literally cannot raise my voice (the “outshouting technique”). People talk over me all the time, usually men, and since I can’t raise my voice over theirs, I get shut down into silence. It’s incredibly frustrating, particularly in a situation where I’m asked a direct question in a meeting, I start to answer, and someone (again, generally a man) will talk over me and that’s it. I’m shut up.

      On this particular occasion, I was talking to my exec at my desk when – while I was in mid-sentence – one of his directors walked up and began speaking to him about something unrelated, totally cutting me off in the process. I responded by swiftly leaning back in my chair and putting my arms behind my head. When they both looked at me (attention caught by the movement), I told the director, “No, really, go ahead. Clearly whatever you have to say is far more important than what I was talking about, right?”

      He went red, my exec laughed, the director apologized profusely and he’s never, ever done it again. Given I’m one of those people who always thinks of the right thing to say at least ten minutes after it happens, I was particularly pleased with myself that day. It was snarky, sure, and pretty rude, but so is marching up and just butting into a conversation! (The fact that my exec pivoted immediately to the butter-inner rather than telling him to wait his turn was addressed later in private. He also apologized, but told me my reaction was perfect and I should do it more often. I got a hall pass to be rude. Perfect. *kisses fingers*)

  14. Princess Peach*

    I wrote in last week about my coworker who is terrible with emails (responds inappropriately indicating he clearly didn’t read it, doesn’t address every question in the email, doesn’t respond at all, etc.)

    As I explained in last week’s open thread, two Friday’s ago, he forwarded me an email from a customer wanting to order a chocolate teapot, with PO #123456. This customer has multiple sites, so I replied to John asking him to please clarify with the customer what address/location he wanted the order sent to. Instead, John replied to the customer (CC’ing me) asking him to please provide a PO #. I emailed John and said, “John, I don’t need the PO # – he has already provided that. I’m just needing the address that he wants the order sent to.” John then emailed the customer clarifying that it was actually the address we needed, not the PO #. The customer hadn’t replied as of last Tuesday, so I emailed John again to let him know the order hadn’t been placed, because the customer still hadn’t provided us the shipping address. John then emails then customer (CC’ing me), and says AGAIN, “Customer X, we still haven’t received the PO number for this order.” (!!!) The customer replies and says “John, I already provided the PO #, please see below”, and attaches a screen shot of his original email, STILL not providing an address.” I reply to John again and say, “John, once again we already have the PO, we are needing the ADDRESS that the order needs to be shipped to. Finally, John sends an email to the customer asking for the address, and the customer provides it. John does not apologize.

    Anyway, the situation got even worse this past Monday. Our purchaser was (finally!) placing an order for the chocolate teapots now that we had and ship to address for the customer. She emailed me saying that because of how large the order was, we would need some additional info from the customer (contact name, number, and if they have a loading dock). I forwarded the purchaser’s email to John. He responds with, “Princess Peach, this is ridiculous, I’ve asked the customer 20 different questions.” I could not BELIEVE he was blaming me for the excessive back and forth with the customer. First of all, the information was needed per the purchaser – I wasn’t asking him for the heck of it! Second of all (and more importantly!) 90% of the communication would have been cut down with the customer had John not continuously passed on incorrect information and asked the wrong questions from the customer. I was pretty irate, so I thought I would stand up for myself for once (this has been going on for years and no one has ever called John out!)

    I emailed John explaining how frustrating it is that he seems irked to have to follow up with the customer, when so much communication could have been cut down, had he read his emails more closely. I pointed out that often, he doesn’t fully respond to emails, responds inappropriately because he anticipates what the email is going to say (and ends up being wrong), doesn’t respond at all, etc. I assured him that my job in customer service is to make HIS job easier, so it’ll save time for the both of us if I don’t have to continuously clarify his emails and follow up with him. To my surprise, he responded with the following:

    “Well put and Thank you for raising my level of awareness. You make a number of valid points. I will do better job of communicating with you and reading my emails completely. I appreciate your effort that make my job easier. “

    Since then, to my shock, he has been thoroughly responding to my emails (and actually saying thank you!) for the first time in years. I would have raised this issue years ago had I known it would have actually made a difference!

      1. Princess Peach*

        Yeah, I was pretty surprised at his response! He happened to come into the office that day (before he’d responded to my email), and I halfway expected him to come to my desk and argue with my take on his email issues. He’s a rather large and intimidating man and can be a bit arrogant at times. It was so refreshing that he reacted the way he did.

        1. Hey Anonny Nonny*

          This makes me so happy and gives me a little bit of hope. Sometimes people really do respond to constructive criticism and make an effort to change their ways. Well done!

    1. Myrin*

      What a surprising twist! Good on you for standing up for yourself (and on behalf of others who have to deal with him as well, it seems)!

      Although this does make me wonder – had it honestly simply never occurred to him that he might need to read emails more carefully and that HE was the one creating a kind of bottleneck situation? I almost can’t believe that with just one email, he’s suddenly seen the light. How astounding!

      1. Princess Peach*

        I truly do think it never occurred to him that HE was the one creating these bottleneck situations so often. His approach in sales in so “go, go, go”, that I don’t think he even had the awareness to know the email mistakes he was making, and how it was negatively influencing everyone in the office.

        I’m shocked that he has suddenly seen the light, too! Granted, it’s been 4 days, but the difference in his email etiquette is astounding (answering questions fully, responding in a timely manner, being clear in his own questions, etc.) I just hope it continues!

        1. SarahKay*

          How awesome that he actually took on board what you said! Are you in a position to give him some positive reinforcement soonish? That might encourage him to continue; I know for me if someone give me a compliment on my work I then like to live up to the compliment.

        2. Rezia*

          Hooray! I hope he gets a lot of positive reinforcement in the next few days from others so he keeps it up

        3. Marni*

          Wow! I wonder if he looked back through the email exchange in order to “prove” his version to you, and was surprised and ashamed to see how it really went down?

          I know that’s happened to me. I pull up an old email that I’m sure will confirm my memory of an agreement, and discover I’m the one who had the date or whatever wrong. Ugh.

          Thanks for sharing the ray of hope!

    2. OhBehave*

      Holy Moley! That was unexpected.
      I know that if I miss something obvious, I cringe and become even more vigilant. It’s unreal that no one has raised this with him before. I wonder if he will be more thorough with all email or just yours.

  15. LilacLily*

    Here’s the long story short: I’m from South America, I have EU citizenship, I’ve been looking for jobs in the UK since May, in August I got an interview with a really great company in a city I’d love to relocate to, and was told by Bob, the recruiter who interviewed me, that I did really great, I’d be a perfect cultural fit, and I had all the required skills….. except I only had experience in Kettle maintenance instead of Teapot maintenance, and they mainly work with Teapots, so they didn’t move forward with me. After some deep reflections I’ve decided to take my meager savings to move to the UK in November to job search there and see what happens.

    I’m still job searching though, and last week a guy named Adam, a different recruiter from the company that interviewed me, posted a job that also fits my profile and is in that same city as before (and it doesn’t require me to have Teapot maintenance experience! Hurray!). I mentioned in my cover letter that I had that interview with Bob back in August, that Bob told me about how the company’s changing offices, how exciting that is, how I’d love to help and be a part of this big change, stuff like that, and I applied on Tuesday.

    And today… I got a rejection for it. An automatic message too, just to rub salt on the wound. I honestly want to punch a wall. I’m really, truly wondering what I might be doing wrong, because I must be doing SOMETHING wrong. I have to be. Not getting any interviews after so many months of job searching is gutting; I think I’d prefer to actually get interviews and not get the jobs than not get any interviews at all. I feel like I’m trying to maneuver a maze in the dark, guessing and wondering and feeling more and more lost as time goes by. It’s not like I’m applying for stuff that I’m underqualified for either, everything I apply for is either exactly or pretty much what I do, or only requires one or two skills that I don’t have but could easily pick up on.

    Would it be appropriate to ask Adam via LinkedIn as to why I was rejected for the job? I’m wondering if it’s because I’m a EU citizen and they’re unsure about hiring non-UK employees due to the whole Brexit issue. I’m not sure he’ll tell me if that’s actually the case, but it would help me a lot to know. My thinking is if he gives me a sincere feedback I can adjust my resume/cover letter/whatever so I can have a better chance at landing interviews.

    (Also, slightly unrelated, but would it be appropriate to send a connection request to Bob on LinkedIn? I’ve been wondering if it was ok, even though we only spoke once.)

    1. Weegie*

      Job searching remotely for work in the UK is hard, so that’s likely to be an issue. Brexit won’t be helping.

      You can absolutely try asking for feedback on why you weren’t interviewed, but I wouldn’t do it on LinkedIn – presumably you applied using Adam’s email address, so I would go directly to him using that address, or to whoever else was listed as the contact person for the job application. Be aware that if there were a lot of applicants for the job, you’re most likely to get a form response, if you get one at all.

      1. LilacLily*

        I applied through the company’s website, unfortunately; I knew who posted the job because LinkedIn sometimes shows you who the job poster is. I assume it’s something that the job poster can toggle on or off when posting the job ad on LinkedIn, and this particular company has this option toggled on for every single one of their vacancies. So if I really want to ask, it would have to be through LinkedIn.

      2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I was also thinking Brexit is the problem. A company is going to be very leery about investing in an employee who suddenly and without warning will lose their work authorization.

        1. LilacLily*

          from what I understand, though, as long as the person is hired before Brexit rolls around, nothing should be changing either for the company or the employee, right? or have I overlooked something?

          1. blackcat*

            That under one of the proposed rules. It’s no official. A great deal of the No deal Brexit economic impact is likely to be uncertainty around exactly these sorts of things. No one knows what the rules will be in 3 months!

            1. LilacLily*

              I see… that makes sense :(

              ugh I hope Brexit resolves itself soon. if I’m finding it annoying I can’t imagine how it’s like for people in the UK. my backup plan atm is to stay home until January and apply for jobs in Ireland, in case the UK is no longer an option, but I really wanted to move to the UK (I’m stubborn, I know.)

    2. Lalaith*

      I think it would be fine to send a connection request to Bob. Also, if you see another posting at that company you’d like to apply to, you can try to contact Bob to ask him to put you in touch with the job poster. I doubt he’d be able to get you feedback on this rejection, though, unfortunately :-/

    3. Snorkmaiden*

      When you fill in the .application are you addressing every point in the person spec and why you meet it?

      If you’re not, that’s your problem.

    4. UKCoffeeLover*

      I would definitely say the problem is Brexit. As an eu citizen you will need to apply for eu settlement status to stay in the uk after brexit. Employers aren’t going to want to risk employing someone who might not be able to work for them next month.
      If I had your options, I’d be moving to Ireland.

    5. Pip*

      I work at a UK based company which regularly recruits people from the EU, and we’ve definitely started seeing “lives in the UK already” as a major advantage rather than a nice bonus in candidates. As far as I know, we’re not rejecting promising candidates based on them living outwith the UK, but we’re in a position where we probably can get them a work visa if needed.

      So if the companies/roles that you are applying to wouldn’t be likely to qualify you for a work visa, then Brexit is probably part of your problem.

      1. LilacLily*

        Thank you so much for the info! The roles I’m applying to aren’t the kind to qualify me for a visa – they’re low to mid tier roles, stuff like senior support analyst or team leader/coordinator/manager roles, and as far as I know visas are usually given to higher level roles or roles that are unusually hard to fill.

        My last day at my current job is the 15th and I’m very excited to take some time off and just chill at home for a bit. I’m planning on spending the end of the year holidays at home with my family and wait to see how Brexit unfolds at last (if there’s a second referendum and Brexit falls through for good I’ll move to the UK and restart my job search anew [and if not, welp I guess the UK wasn’t meant to be after all…])

    6. New to the UK*

      Super late for this comment but I hope my experience is helpful! I moved to the UK from the US about three months ago to live with my partner. I’m currently on a dependent visa which allows me to work (I am eligible for permanent residency a few years down the road if we end up staying). My legal situation is different, but I had similar difficulty getting interviews at first. Talking to my partner and his local friends really helped.

      My main issue was cover letters. In my field in the US, at my experience level cover letters can be brief. It’s seen as a space to go into a bit more detail on relevant projects. Like you, I am applying for jobs that I felt I would be a great fit for, and met most of the criteria. It was horribly frustrating to work hard on my applications, apply for suitable positions, and constantly get rejected by a form email. However, I learned that in the UK, in my field employers expect you to respond to /every single essential criteria/ on the person specification. The extreme specificity of the job descriptions and person specifications was quite new to me, and at first I was overwhelmed with the many criteria.

      Once I started directly addressing each criteria, my cover letters got much longer, but I started to get more responses – and from jobs I was excited about. I am still job hunting (but have a few interviews coming up!), but am less frustrated by the process.

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

      1. LilacLily*

        Thank you so much for this tip! I know I previously mentioned in some of my cover letters the criteria I wasn’t exactly qualified for, but I’m gonna keep this tip in mind for the next few jobs I apply for and the next few cover letters I write.

        How long are your cover letters? I usually try to not make them longer than a whole page. Half a page I believe is ideal, but whenever I start writing it’s hard to get me to stop hahaha

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Mine are usually two pages when I have the “person specification” format. It’s kind of impossible to address 20 different characteristics in half a page!

          1. LilacLily*

            Interesting! It’s good to know that writing a longer cover letter won’t hurt my chances! thank you so much for the info :D

  16. Alana Smithee*

    Tl;dr should I approach the head of the department (my boss’s boss) about training to fill my retiring colleagues role, even though it would probably reveal that I am miserable in my current role?

    Background: A colleague of mine announced her retirement for next June. She hopes that the company will hire her replacement by March so that she can spend a few months training them up and this seems to be the plan. While we share the same job title (though hers is “senior”) we focus on two completely different areas (think teapot spout vs handle design, both essential parts of the teapot with some basic foundations but not a ton of overlap ). In my field there are a ton more opportunities for spout specialists vs handles, and in order to make myself more marketable I desperately want to get more experience. The department created my current position for me when I got my Teapot Design Certificate (I had been taking classes while working as a materials specialist in the department) and I’ve spent the last three years learning everything I possibly can about the particular area of handle design. My boss was promoted to Chief Handle Designer at the same time and it was my understanding that we would be taking a neglected program and building it up based on best practices. Three years in and I have finally admitted to myself that that was never the intention, my boss is actually a really bad manager (thanks aam for helping me realize that), I disagree with a lot of her decisions and am frustrated by her lack of leadership, and despite my best efforts I’m stagnating, which makes job hunting harder.

    The actual question: should I approach the grandboss (who theoretically has an open door policy) and inquire as to whether it would be possible to get on the job training over the next 8 months to take over my retiring colleagues role? I know that it wouldn’t be the same level as if they hired someone who already has all that experience, but I do bring with me deep knowledge of the company gained over 6 years in the department. The thing I’m most concerned about is that I’d probably have to explain to him why I’d want to leave my current role, and it could tip my hand that I want to leave the company if things don’t change. But I also don’t want to come across as whining about my boss. My boss has not been in the office for a month and isn’t expected back for another month so running it by her as part of professional development conversations isn’t really an option (not that we actually have those), and honestly I’m beginning to suspect that when she says she “ran something by the department head and he said no” she’s just using that as an excuse.

    Also teapot metaphors are difficult!

    1. Natalie*

      It sounds like you have a perfectly reasonable explanation for why you want to take over the retiring colleagues role without having to get into just how dissatisfied you are with your current position. You’ve been in your current specialty for a while and learned everything you can about it. You want to keep growing in the field and colleague’s specialty is the best opportunity to do that.

      I don’t think it would even be out of line to say that things have gotten a little bit stagnant for you in your existing position. If you’re planning on leaving, and changing to this new position would resolve that, you might as well give them the chance to keep you. If it doesn’t work out, well, you’re on your way out anyway!

    2. Uhdrea*

      I think unless your grandboss is particularly unreasonable, explaining it as wanting to get more training in this different area is a very normal and understandable reason to be interested in moving into the position.

    3. OtterB*

      I agree with the previous comments that wanting to broaden your knowledge in the field is a perfectly reasonable explanation for grandboss, no need to complain about your boss.

    4. Shoes On My Cat*

      Actually, you wrote the ideal verbiage above! “Professional development“ is the perfect phrase!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If you think about it, feeling miserable in a job is not a qualification for another job. So I am not clear on why you feel you have to explain the misery to motivate her to move you to the upcoming opening. At most, I would say, “I have been here six years and I would like to take on a new challenge.”

      Turn your thoughts to explaining why it is to her advantage to move you over.

  17. Cosima*

    Did I potentially mess up my chance for a job by sending a thank you email with a mistake/typo?
    After an interview this week I sent the thank you email, it was late at night when I got home to send it and I pretty much sent a standard sounding prewritten thank you, and I forgot to put the interviewer’s name after “Dear” so instead of “Dear Mr. Interviewer” it read “Dear: ”
    The rest of the email was fine but I feel like it’ll stick out since it’s the first thing he’ll see. Does it make me look careless? Otherwise the interview went well.

    1. Sighhhh*

      It may or may not, but if it’s already a pretty “standard sounding prewritten” thank you note, forgetting the name will make it seem all the more copy and pasted. Think of it this way, though–plenty of people make worse mistakes (like putting the wrong name in!), and it’s a mistake you’ll only make once!

    2. Q*

      I think mistakes happen and it’s probably fine. I once sent an email to a client that said:

      “Best,

      Best,
      Q”

      I panicked. He sent back an email that said “Please goob you […]” It was all fine. :)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ROTFLMAO
        I’m usually pretty good at picking out the meaning behind typos & autocorrects but this one has me baffled.
        What was it supposed to say?

        1. wordswords*

          “Please could you,” maybe? That’s the only thing I can think of! If so, it’s bizarre as a typo, but maybe plausible if the client uses a speech-to-text program or something? Or just had one of those moments where the brain-fingers connection goes very wonky.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I doubt it. It’s possible that you were competing against another candidate who was equal to you in every single way, and that candidate happened to send a thank-you email without a typo, but most of the hiring I’ve been involved in had the top candidate clearly above the others (sometimes better in terms of objective qualifications, and sometimes better in terms of fit), and that person would probably not be disqualified for something so silly.

    4. LCH*

      if you were strong otherwise, no. i got a job once after misspelling an important name in my cover letter.

    5. ArtK*

      Think about it this way. If that one, very minor, typo in a thank you e-mail cuts you out of the running, that’s not a company or person you want to work for. It would mean that they have no tolerance for very minor mistakes.

      Obsessing over that “one weird trick” that will get you a job, or that “one mistake” that can lose it for you is a tremendous waste of time and energy. As Alison and others have noted, hiring is not a cut-and-dried process. There are so many factors that go into a rejection or an acceptance that trying to parse them is futile.

      Odds are that if you don’t get the job, it’s because there was someone who was a better fit. Not because you mistyped something.

  18. Ineffective*

    Is it wrong that I thought this was an ineffective use of our time?

    We have quarterly trainings. They are generally held in City about an hour and a half drive from me. It is “mandatory” but people still get away with not showing up. My coworker has worked for Company for 5 years. I have been there a shorter time but still multiple years. The training is also meant as a “new hire training” so most times, we have to sit through “here is how to use the internal portal system to figure out XYZ.” Is it wrong that I think that part of the training is redundant and I rather we skip to “Here is what projects are coming up and here’s our plan for them?”

    1. finally october*

      It is absolutely wasting your time. New hire training should be just the new hires, so they can ask questions, delve in as much as they need, without wasting the time of everyone else sitting there or the instructor feeling pressured to hurry it up because Everyone Already Knows This.

      1. Ineffective*

        The manager did not hurry anything up. She actually allotted time in the 2 hour training for “going over the portal” but I noticed during that time, those of us who knew that information were chit chatting quietly with each other or texting.

        I also think that they don’t do specific New Hire Trainings because Company is cheap. Our trainings are generally held in a private room at a restaurant where I’m sure there’s a “room minimum” for food that we must (understandably) meet. Of course, there are less than 10 new hires so they could even meet at a Starbucks for this training if needed. There are even videos and PPTs of How to Use Portal that are sent out to new hires. The portal is also very simple to use and I say that because I was given no training to the portal when I started, just a login and had to figure it out myself.

        1. Mrs_helm*

          If they’re setting aside 2 hrs for portal training, could they not allow everyone tossed to arrive later? Like “Portal training will be 8-10am for new employees and anyone interested, with the meeting starting promptly at 10:15 . They’d still meet the minimums, but not waste everyone’s time. Alternately, is there some type of breakout activity, advanced training, etc that the rest could be doing?

          1. Ineffective*

            That would make SO much more sense! Part of the training (a good 10-15 mins) is about the portal. The entire training is 2 hours. I wish I could suggest to them to make new hires come earlier but then they’ll be like “We get questions from Current Employees about the portal so it’s just better if everyone can be part of it to answer any questions they may have.”

            Unfortunately, they ran out of time for the part of the training that I was actually interested in. SME on Client Product was there to give us more details about Client Product. Priorities, right?

            1. valentine*

              Suggest they put the new hire portion at the end. People who want to stay to ask questions can do so.

  19. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A small update people might find useful: If you’re searching a page for “OP” to try to find where the OP has commented, you’ve probably found you get every instance of “op” on the page, including words like “opposite” or “open.” So … we’ve added a hidden asterisk after commenter names that you won’t see but is really there. What this means:

    Now if you search for OP*… you will find only comments made under the name OP. (This works for other names too. If you’re searching for a commenter named, say, Jo, you can search Jo* and will just get comments from Jo rather than every instance of job, joy, etc.)

      1. Nicotene*

        Haha yeah I was thinking that, when I have been the questioner I have always tried to come up with a comment name that is not just “OP” so that people can find me – partly because a lot of people’s responses also include OP as an entire word (“If I was this OP I would …”

    1. Myrin*

      That’s awesome, thanks so much for this new feature! (I know people have been asking about something like this for the longest time and you said it would be difficult to do technically, so I’m happy to see you found a satisfactory solution!)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh thank you! Sometimes when I get to a post, there are so many comments I need to search. This is very helpful. :D

      1. Reply*

        Or rather, it works on replies but not replies to Alison, as her name doesn’t have the asterisk and I guess it applies the same thing to replies to a thread she starts?

    3. halfwolf*

      i noticed this the other day and was considering commenting to ask if anyone else had seen it (i have a fidgety habit of highlighting as i’m reading on a screen, which is how i noticed it). supremely helpful – thank you!

    4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Thank you! This will make it much easier to comment-stalk specific posters in the Friday thread, too. (Mostly an issue for me because “Hellmouth” has become a noun used by other posters, and I still try to check for her updates.)

    5. Brazilian Hobbit*

      Ooooh, this is amazing! Thank you, Alison! (Supreme Blogger Green? I’m not sure now)

    6. Nela*

      Cool feature! I usually put a space after “OP” in search so it only matches the whole word.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Until this change, that wouldn’t find user names of OP, just comments with OP in the text. At least in most browsers — maybe you were using a rare one where that wasn’t the case!

  20. ProfessionalJobHunter*

    My sister texted me this morning because her husband is looking to find a job with higher pay. She wants me to help him with his cover letter and resume and give him job hunting tips because I have a lot of experience with writing and with job hunting (I am very long term unemployed).

    My problem with this is that if my sister asks for a favor and you can’t help her for some reason she’ll get upset, but if you ask her for a favor, no matter how small, her automatic response is “I’m too busy.” Other than that we have an okay relationship, but I don’t feel any obligation to help her if it’s not convenient for me.

    And, as a long term unemployed person, I am dealing with a ton of horrible emotions everyday that intensify whenever I have to force myself to do anything related to job hunting. I am not at all happy at the idea of helping someone who is currently employed in a well-paying job find an even better paying job. I wish I was in his position and feel no sympathy.

    I would just say I’m too busy to help him, but I’m unemployed so I’m obviously not. Anyone have any suggestions on how to respond in a neutral way?

    1. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      If you have a decent relationship with your sister, I would just be honest. “Hey, I would love to help with this, but I need to use all of my energy on my own job hunt right now. Even the thought of applications makes me feel awful.” Sometimes being up front that you’re not okay is the best way to go – especially because you don’t want her coming back for help with other job activities. And good luck with your own search. Good for you for looking out for your own mental health!

      1. Nicotene*

        If you really want to have communication with your sister, I wonder if you can use this as an opening to be totally honest and genuine. “Can I talk about something that’s been bothering me? Last time I asked you for help with X or Y, you said you were too busy, and even though my feelings are hurt I accepted that it just wasn’t your priority to help me. So now when you ask me for favors it makes me feel like our relationship is unequal.” Maybe you can talk about Ask and Guess culture, and establish ground rules for your relationship like, “it’s okay to ask and it’s okay to say no” – so no, you don’t want to help her husband because it will bring up bad feelings for you, and that’s a perfectly fine response.

        1. ProfessionalJobHunter*

          I looked up the Ask and Guess culture thing you mentioned and thought that was very interesting. One of the mentioned ways of saying “no” without explanation was “I can’t, because I’m unable to.” LOL! I wish I could use that. :)

          1. valentine*

            You can use that. Just don’t deviate. Let her be upset. She’s unreal. It would make more sense for you to literally watch paint dry than to help someone else find a job under these circumstances.

          2. Kat in VA*

            A variation on that was given to me by my dear aunt. It’s perfect as-is but not as rude as “No is a complete sentence” kind of abrupt.

            “I’m sorry, that just won’t work for me/us.”

            This is useful in all situations where you have Reasons, don’t have Reasons, or your Reason is I JUST DON’T WANT TO which is also a perfectly valid Reason.

            I learned a long time ago when you say that you can’t/don’t want to do something, and someone pushes you for reasons with WHYYYYY, oftentimes it’s not because they particularly care about your Reason. It’s because they want to argue with you and ultimately wear you down into doing what they want.

            Just like a child who whines about why they have to go to bed at a certain time. They’re not going to listen to your explanation of growing brains and not being tired in school and responsible parenting and Mom and Dad need five minutes without you, and then turn around and say, “Thank you for thinking of my best interests at heart, Mother, I shall hie myself away to slumber now.” They whine WHYYYYY so they can argue with you about all those reasons and, as a bonus, postpone bedtime a little longer to boot.

            “I’m sorry, I can’t do the resume.”
            BUT WHYYY
            “Well, it’s upsetting to me because my job hunt is hard.”
            BUT IT’S NOT FOR YOU, IT’S FOR HUSBAND
            “Yes, but it’s still related to job hunting and it’s upsetting.”
            BUT IT’LL ONLY TAKE A LITTLE WHILE AND IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL, REALLY
            “Even so, I don’t really want to do this” (which is the actual and real Reason Above All Reasons).
            OMG I AM YOUR SISTER, IT’S JUST A TINY FAVOR, JUST DO IT FOR ME

            …and the round robin goes on and on, with the result of you either standing fast and feeling guilty and beaten up and tired for defending yourself, or bowing to her pressure and feeling even worse because you really really don’t want to Do The Thing.

            Using “I’m sorry, but that just won’t work for me” as long as you repeat it is beautiful, simple, and damn near bombproof. You use the phrase, the inevitable BUT WHYYYY fires up, and you repeat, maybe with a tinge of regret, “Mmmm, I’m sorry, but that…just doesn’t work for me.” BUT IT’S BLAH BLAH BLAH. “Understood but, no, that just won’t work for me.”

            Most people, if they’re not utterly obtuse or obnoxious, realize by the third iteration that (1) they’re not going to get A Reason I Can Tussle With and (2) you’re not going to Do The Thing for them. They’ll be annoyed, sure, but you’ll be far less drained than you would be from going through all the reasons/diversions/explanations/justifications/defenses.

            The first few times you use that phrase without attaching all the justifications to clear yourself, it is SO HARD. But it gets so much easier with practice, and oftentimes, you’ll start with the initial, “I’m sorry, that just won’t work for me” and people – even the ones you are SURE are going to die MAD at you because you won’t do The Thing – will simply reply, “Oh, OK, then I’ll do this / ask someone else / hire someone / won’t go that day” or whatever.

      2. ProfessionalJobHunter*

        I don’t really want to talk about feelings with her, but I like your suggestion of saying “I would love to help (which sounds nice even if it isn’t necessarily true), but I need to use all my energy on my own job hunt.” If she argues with that, it’d be easy to explain I can only devote so much time/effort to it each week before getting tired of it, and my job hunt is more urgent than her husband’s so I have to focus on mine.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Send them here and have them go the the “job searching” link at the right side of the page. We’ve got tons of good advice right here in stock, and it’s all free!

    3. peanut*

      Say no if you don’t want to do it. It seems really rude and oblivious for your sister to ask you to help her husband find a job when you are still trying to find a job for yourself!

      Given how you’ve described your sister, you may want to say no by just saying something self-deprecating like, “you know, I’ve had a tough time finding a job myself, so I don’t think my advice will be helpful to him.”

      To be clear, I’m not saying that your job hunting skills are poor – I’m just suggesting you imply this to your sister given what you’ve described her reaction is likely to be. The goal is to say no to her and get her to stop asking you for help in this, ideally without causing more stress for yourself.

      1. Joielle*

        This is what I was going to suggest too. It might be easiest to just tell her you’ve also been looking for a while with no luck, so he’d be better off asking someone else (and if he gets any good tips, can he share them with you?). Although it’s a white lie, I think this might be the easiest way to get her off your back.

        1. ProfessionalJobHunter*

          I like your and peanut’s suggestion. Maybe combine it with Long-time AMA Lurker’s. Like, “I would love to help with this, but I need to use all of my energy on my own job hunt right now. I’m obviously having no luck, so I’m not the best person to ask for help anyway!”

    4. Mimosa Jones*

      Does her husband even want your help? It’s your sister who’s doing the asking, not him. I’d first want to know if he’s on board. And what’s he like? Would giving him a “no” work better? I’d probably center my “helpfulness” around AAM. “Good for him, I found AAM to be a great resource. I hope he finds something.” If you’re in different industries then you can point out that someone who does work in the same industry would be a better judge of his application materials. But no matter what, you CAN say you don’t have any time. Your time is yours to allocate and define. If you feel it’s better spent rearranging your sock drawer than helping your BIL with his (less than urgent) job search, then that’s just fine. You may have a lot of downtime right now, but job hunting can be emotionally grueling and you have every right to limit your exposure. Probably best not to get too detailed and just say you can’t right now but you wish him luck and leave it at that. I hope you find something soon.

      1. ProfessionalJobHunter*

        Her husband has my cell phone number, and I’ve told him he can text me directly, but if he has questions or wants help with something my sister will ask me for him, and then there is the expectation that I will text him and ask him what he needs. He’s nice enough, but it’s awkward and annoying that he needs my sister to reach out to me and then needs me to reach out to him, so it’s probably good to not get involved in something that will require a lot of communication.

    5. Fortitude Jones*

      Tell your sister that you’re too busy with your own extended job search to help him. Tell her to send him here to read the archives and wish them luck – you really don’t have to lie, and you are busy.

    6. OhBehave*

      Given the lack of success you’ve had for so long, I’m surprised she turned to you. It makes me suspicious. (will she blame you if he’s not successful?) She obviously doesn’t want to help him.
      If you don’t want to do it…don’t! Be honest and tell her you’re discouraged at the moment and would not be much help to him.

        1. ProfessionalJobHunter*

          I think asking for “help” with his coverletter and resume probably means me asking him a ton of questions to figure out what to write, and then basically writing them for him. This makes sense since I’m good at writing. (When I do phone screenings or interviews, the phone screener or interviewer often mention how much they loved my cover letter and they’ll bring up specific sentences that really spoke to them.) It’d be easier for me to write his coverletter and resume and do a good job of it then have him work on it himself.

          And she knows I’m very big on doing research and collecting information. I’ve done a ton of reading on job hunting, so I have lots of article links in my bookmarks, a long list of possible interview questions, a list of questions to ask at interviews, etc. It’d be easier to ask me questions about job hunting, or let me provide advice and resources, than to do research himself.

          So, even though I’m not having luck with getting a job, I assume she still thinks my writing and research skills would be useful.

          1. peanut*

            Ah, this is helpful. So, assuming still that your ultimate goal is to not get caught up in any of this, I would just keep saying you can’t and repeating whatever statement you’ve decided on. Given what you’ve explained here, I’m just worried that your sister will say something like, “well, if you don’t have time, just do this one thing for him!” and then you get caught in a cycle of doing just “one little thing” and then suddenly you’re doing just “another little thing”, and then on and on and suddenly you’re doing unpaid work for him that’s taking up your limited resources to dedicate to your own job hunt.

            So don’t even start with them. Be firm, or tell a white lie, or an actual lie (whatever will go over best with your sister), but don’t start doing anything. Don’t reach out to your BIL if he hasn’t approached you directly, don’t prepare a list of resources for him, don’t do anything that takes up more of your time than saying no, and don’t proactively suggest other ways you could help them.

            Maybe this advice sounds harsh and some people would say, “what’s wrong with helping when you have the knowledge?” But you sounded pretty clear in your original post that you didn’t want to/were able to help them right now, and that is totally fine. Because if the choice is between finding your BIL a job and finding yourself a job, you’ve got to put yourself first.

          2. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

            I’d say if he REALLY wants to look for a new job, he should be doing a lot of this resume, cover letter, job research himself. You’re not going to his interviews for him…

            1. Kat in VA*

              I found my husband’s last four jobs for him. By which I mean, I looked up the listings and sent in his resume (after telling him about it). I type faster and became very conversant, very fast with various HRIS on the web when he was out of work for 16 months.

              Other than that…cover letter required? On him. Research the company, their products, their mission? On him. Interviewing? Clearly on him.

    7. Fall Is Here*

      I get that the combination of your unemployment combined with your uneven relationship with your sister makes this tricky for you. Assuming you like him/have a decent relationship with him, can you call your BIL directly and see what his thoughts are? (He might not even know his wife put this out there to you.) Or he might just have a question or two you could easily answer. And I love the suggestion to send him here for info he can research himself! But sometimes, I find helping someone else with something can also help me in some way — change of perspective, change of focus, new ideas — but of course, you know whether any of that’s likely or would be particularly helpful to you right now. Wishing you luck in your job search!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      You could point out that you haven’t found a job yet and perhaps he would want to go with someone with established success such as Alison’s books/advice here.

      No offense meant but if it were me, I would be afraid of hearing, “Why should I listen to her, she’s been unemployed HOW long??” (BTDT)

      No this sounds like a bad set up from the get go. Show her your resource materials for advice and let him figure out what is best for his setting.

      1. This*

        Please let me kindly validate your point for the benefit of the readership. If one seeks advice about how to get a job, don’t ask a person who’s been trying long-term but has not succeeded. I’m just sayin’

  21. Goldfinch*

    In “good timing” news, a VP said something horrifically classist, sexist, and fat-phobic to me today…only twenty minutes before I was scheduled for a massage as part of our company wellness benefits. The therapist just about broke a knuckle trying to get the knot out of my neck.

    I am growing increasingly frustrated with my toxic company culture, despite my unicorn boss and awesome tiny department. Being an oasis in a sea of sewage is great, but you’re still surrounded by sewage. How do you decide when the good has stopped outweighing the bad?

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      I don’t have an answer to your question but I wanted to express my outrage on your behalf: UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH!!! So sick of fat shaming, not to mention sexism and classism.

    2. Anono-me*

      You know it’s time to move on when you write in to ask an advice columnist for permission.

      Seriously. It is a sign when you’re asking for permission to move on. You don’t need it, but you do have the blessings of this random internet commenter.

      Start looking for a new position. Take your time, due your research, make sure you’re moving to a better position. Don’t wait until you’re miserable and desperate and willing to take the first thing that comes along and looks decent.

      Good luck.

      1. automaticdoor*

        Yes, if you have gotten to the point of asking people online for advice, you have probably made up your mind deep down!

      2. Fortitude Jones*

        Don’t wait until you’re miserable and desperate and willing to take the first thing that comes along and looks decent.

        This bears repeating. If you wait until shit really hits the fan, then you’re liable to miss red flags during your job search and will end up in a situation either as bad or worse than where you are now. Start looking so you can do so from a position of strength.

    3. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I think we sometimes get stuck thinking that our situations could be so much worse than they are, and that since they’re not the absolute worst case scenario we’re not allowed to complain or want better. You’re allowed to think that this is bad even though it could be worse. You’re allowed to want better. It doesn’t hurt anything for you to start your job search now. You’re lucky to be in a situation where you do have a job that’s not the absolute worst case scenario, so you can be choosy about where you apply and whether you pursue all the interviews and offers you receive. Make use of that benefit and start exploring.

      1. Bring Hawkeye to the Details*

        Great advice, Librarian of SHIELD. Also, my posting name waves to your posting name, and I wonder if I know you from fandom.

        This is also where I am now, just thinking about really putting in a lot of time to find something new, and to choose the right job for me.

    4. Jennifer*

      I just made that choice in my personal life. I think your body made the decision for you. One person going to bat for you sometimes isn’t enough.

    5. PolarVortex*

      You start looking at what’s out there, and know that while you’re happy with parts of this job, if you find a better one, then why would you stay in a sea of sewage.

      And if, between now and potential future job, you find out the oasis is sinking and you need a helicopter rescue – well, your resume is already up to date and you’ve already been searching.

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      Fellow oasis-in-a-poop-sea dweller:
      First up, I’m really sorry that the VP did that.

      To answer your question: mine was pretty cut and dried. I mentally quit the day one of the department heads told me a sexual-assault “joke” in front of one of the “big bosses.” Big boss then laughed and said he’d told the same joke to the company’s owner at the annual big meeting the previous week. The fact that he was still employed told me all I needed to know.

      But the key term is “mentally quit.” I’ve updated my resume and LinkedIn and I’m searching regularly (including a few interviews) but have yet to find a replacement. It’s been a few months now and it’s a little disheartening, but I’m still looking.

      So, tl;dr: Just start. You pick the pace.

    7. Not a Real Accountant*

      Just chiming in to agree that if you’re thinking or asking about leaving (you do not need permission), it is definitely time to start searching–you don’t have to leave right away (but if you do find something amazing that quickly, feel free to go! :))!

      As Anono-me said, don’t wait until you’re miserable and desperate–I did that (in the vain hope that I could help and things would get better (spoiler alert: I couldn’t, and it never did)), and oh man searching in this state is awful. Save yourself!

    8. Not So NewReader*

      The good stopped out weighing the bad a while ago.

      Once you realize you have a toxic company that is everything you need to know. Voice of experience toxins and corruption trickle down through the company and no one is immune. Everyone is vulnerable to the side-effects.
      If we wait until we are angry or crying or going to a doc every week, we have waited too long to get out.

  22. Marzipan*

    Aaaaggghhhhhh dilemma.

    I’m now 13 weeks pregnant after a lot of fertility treatment, and previous pregnancy losses. So far everything seems to be going OK but I’m still very cautious – in an ideal world, I’d really like to wait until after my 20-week scan before letting people know about the pregnancy. (I’m someone whose weight tends to fluctuate, and we’re entering the kind of weather where wearing lots of layers isn’t weird, so this seems… maybe doable? Although I’d sort of anticipate that people might be politely biting their tongues as time goes on.)

    My take on being pregnant at work is very much influenced by years of infertility – keep it low key, you never know who may be struggling. My particular dilemma right now is that I know one colleague is currently having a really tough time being around pregnant people. At the moment, and probably for the next couple of months, this colleague is spending more time in our office specifically for this reason – basically, because none of us are pregnant. Except, I am. So if all goes well for me, I’m going to be just sort of gradually swelling like a mushroom in the corner of the room, and I’m so conscious of her feelings, and want to be as sensitive as possible.

    She is just the loveliest person and I really want to approach things with her feelings in mind, but in really unsure if how to manage this in a work context. If this were a friend outside work, I’d probably look at sending a text or other written message when I was ready to tell people, so she’d have time to process the information privately and could avoid me if she wanted to. But unfortunately, I don’t have any of her personal contact info, just the work stuff – and I’m not sure sending an email through a work account would really give that opportunity. Plus there’s the whole ongoing proximity in the meantime which could go pear-shaped in various ways.

    Help me out, people – any thoughts on what’s best to do here?

    1. Anongradstudent*

      It’s awesome that you’re empathetic to your coworker’s perspective, and I wish ore of my coworkers were as compassionate as you are! However, it’s not your job to hide your pregnancy or give her a heads-up. Did you expect other people to tiptoe around you when you were having trouble conceiving? If anything it might be a little presumptuous to let her know, unless she’s confided with you directly about her feelings. If so, maybe you could mention it while having lunch or tea with her, where it’s more private. But I would recommend you just keep doing what you’re doing and she can make her own decision about whether she wants to find another space.

      1. valentine*

        I’d really like to wait until after my 20-week scan before letting people know about the pregnancy.
        You deserve to prioritize yourself. Go ahead and wait (unless there’s a vital business need for you to tell your manager). You shouldn’t have to walk eggshells for your coworker and she can’t expect to know who is pregnant all the time. I’m wondering why you’re not directing that tenderness toward yourself and whether you wish others would treat you like this.

    2. Anona*

      When I became pregnant, I shared my pregnancy in-person with my manager, and my direct team. For the larger office, I sent an email. I kept it very short and direct, sharing approximately when I expected to take leave, when I expected to return, etc.

      I also included this line, since there was also someone I suspected would have a difficulty time: “Also, given the large size of the staff, and how it’s never possible to know what goes on in everyone’s personal lives, I’m keeping those hoping to expand their families in my thoughts.”

      If you go the email route, you could also consider sending it towards the end of the day/close to a weekend, so if she’s really struggling, at least she has a weekend/evening upcoming to process.

      And congratulations!

      1. Anona*

        I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with sharing with everyone (except your manager) by email.

        1. Bluesboy*

          I would just be careful though that there’s no risk of a ‘reply all’ situation flooding her inbox with ‘congratulations on your pregnancy’ emails.

          If there is an office-wide email, everyone NEEDS to be in blind copy to avoid this

      1. Janine*

        I’m in the same boat: IVF, miscarriages, early pregnancy right now (with everything crossed that it works out). My direct boss knows because she has to but no one else will hear anything pregnancy-related from me until there is a healthy, breathing baby in my arms. This is 100% because I’m not ready for anyone to know but if I squint, maybe I could also say that I want to be mindful of other people’s struggles. I feel like those of us who are going through this understand the issues of privacy and superstition and won’t bring it up.

        1. anycat*

          this, as someone who went through IVF and had a baby in december. once i let the entire office know a lot more people came out and started talking to me about their struggles too.

          for those who might be struggling as well, i would probably take them for a coffee or a walk and just let them know.

          i also made fertility take along kits for people too (warm cozy socks, notebooks, bandaids, chocolate).

    3. MatKnifeNinja*

      There is nothing you are going to say that won’t/hurt upset this coworker, if she is really this raw.

      It is what it is. You haven’t been party hats and streamers the whole time, because you know this is a tender spot for her.

      I might (depending how she has previously handled other announcements), tell her only on a Friday, that you are expecting and you will be telling everyone else on that coming Monday.

      It might wreck a weekend for her, but at least she has time to process the situation and decide what to do. Take a few days off to dodge all the happy cheer? Come in anyway?

      My last coworker, who had bad issues with fertility, lost it at lunch when another pregnancy was announced. Full bore tears and sobbing. It was pregnancy #5 for my small department within a year.

      If it’s go be traumatic, you can tell her at the end of the day. The coworker can ugly cry in her the car and at home during the weekend. No one wants be crying during someone else’s happy news. She can save a little face.

      My two pennies into the hat…

      Congrats on the new little one! <3

    4. iglwif*

      Congratulations! And thank you on behalf of people who struggle with infertility and/or pregnancy losses for your kind and empathetic approach to sharing the news.

      I don’t have direct advice … but I will say that when I *finally* got pregnant after years of infertility ~stuff~, I told my then-boss right away (because she was SuperBoss and in on the whole IVF situation due to all the work I’d been missing), but didn’t tell ANYONE ELSE at work until after the 20-week scan. (I had some weird breakthrough bleeding in my first trimester, which made me extra-extra-nervous about telling people too soon.) I had 2 direct reports at that point and I told them in person, but everyone else by email, and some of them not until later on–obviously I had to tell all my llama-grooming customers that I was going to be away for 13 months and who my replacement would be, but they didn’t need to know that, like, 20 weeks ahead of time.

    5. The Darling Librarian*

      It’s super sweet of you to take her feelings into consideration. Would it be possible to ask her to coffee or to meet before or after work while no one is around? It gives each the opportunity to be vulnerable without an audience around and doing it in an authentic manner that shows genuine concern for her.

      Best of luck to you!

      1. Anona*

        I wouldn’t do in person. I struggled with infertility, and it was so hard hearing about people’s pregnancy news in person! Text or email was always better, since I didn’t have to act happy immediately, and could process on my own.

        1. Quandong*

          I’m another person for whom text or email or handwritten note would have been preferable to an in-person pregnancy announcement, especially at work. Marzipan, if you don’t have other avenues, would a handwritten note to your colleague given on a Friday afternoon be an option?

    6. Joielle*

      I think it would be fine to do it via work email, assuming it’s not like a shared inbox situation or something. Personally, I agree with you that a written message is best – maybe right before you leave the office on a Thursday or Friday, so she doesn’t have to immediately see you and could take a day off or have the weekend to process if needed.

      Also, I’m sure you know this, but just to emphasize – it’s not your fault, you’re not being pregnant AT her, so even if/when she has some difficult feelings that seep out, don’t take it personally. And congrats!

    7. ten-four*

      I think it’s lovely to be thinking of this, and I don’t think you personally have to own the conversation. If you know that this person is in your space b/c of pregnancy issues, that means someone put her there. Can you talk to that person (her manager? your office manager?) and have them handle it? They can own both the initial heads up conversation and provide practical support as needed (maybe she’ll be moved again, for example). This would be kindest for her as well as for you – she’ll be able to have whatever reaction happens with as safe an audience as possible. And frankly you don’t need to take on this emotional labor.

      Also: congratulations!! I hope everything goes beautifully for you.

    8. WellRed*

      You’re very kind and thoughtful, but it’s not on you to manage her feelings. She had to move offices because she can’t be around pregnant people?? That’s on her to work through. Have you decided how you plan to tell people, aside from this issue?

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Since you do want to keep this to yourself for a few more weeks, I say go ahead and do that for as long as you feel necessary and able. When you decide it’s time to meet with your boss to give the heads-up that you’ll be needing maternity leave, ask her if she has any recommendations for how to roll out this information given your coworker’s sensitivity. It’s possible that the management team actually has a backup plan for this, or that your manager could have an idea that would be helpful. If nothing else, you’ll be able to create a plan together that could work to minimize the discomfort for your coworker.

      Good luck!

    10. Shiny Onix*

      For what it’s worth, when it took me what felt like ONE MILLION YEARS to conceive after a horrendously traumatic miscarriage, and I hated being around pregnant people? People who had had a hard time with fertility related stuff were ok: I could cope with their pregnancies.(Luckily I managed to get pregnant before it transpired four other women in my building were pregnant or I never would have been able to go back to that building again.)

      I just realised I am presuming she knows some of your history, but if that’s not actually true, might you be open to giving her a tiny piece of the history so she understands a bit more?

      I am so very quietly optimistic and hopeful for you.

    11. M. Albertine*

      Based on my experience on both sides of this equation, I would take her aside at the end of a day, and tell her then. Make it short and to the point, that you’ll be letting the general office know tomorrow and you’ll do your best to keep it low-key. If you know she has a day off sometime, maybe coincide the announcement with when she’ll be gone? Then the fervor will most likely die down before she comes back and she won’t have to deal with all the congratulations and such.

      1. SecondCareer*

        Personally, I wouldn’t tell her in person. I would either ask my manager to pull her into her office towards the end of the day and tell her or tell her via email towards the end of the day (but try to make sure she sees it before she leaves) and do this after your manager knows BUT before anyone else in the office is told.

        My SIL had significant pregnancy issues – I know it’s not the same because it’s at home, but I sent her an email telling her before we told my in-laws. Her SIL on the other side was pregnant at the same time (we were due like 3 weeks apart) so I already knew she was struggling with that. She later thanked me for giving her the space to have her reaction in private. There’s nothing worse than wanting to fall apart but needing to put on a happy face.

    12. Kat in VA*

      I think you are lovely for thinking of your coworker.

      However, you didn’t get pregnant AT her – you got pregnant. (Congratulations, by the way!)

      It is entirely, completely, and utterly UP TO YOU as to when you want to announce you’re pregnant. Full stop. You are not required to take other people’s feelings into account, or give her a heads-up, or manage some complicated situation where only she knows and no one else does. Her feelings are hers to manage, and hers alone.

    13. Anonny*

      Seconding all the comments to tell her not in person (use text, email, etc.) so she has time to process away from others. We were a long time struggling with infertility, and at a dinner with old co-workers/friends who’d just spent all day at a birth class (who didn’t know our struggles so even more so we put on our happy faces), our other mutual friends (who did know some of our struggles) announced at dessert that they were also pregnant! It was even harder to act happy for them, even being able to leave quickly after the check arrived… it would have been unbearable at work. Yes, you’re not pregnant at her, but compassion if you can manage it is so welcome!

      Also, I never told anyone at work when I did get pregnant, partly because of miscarriage history and early complications. I expected to after the 20 weeks scan came back fine, but at that point, layoffs were impending so I just kept my mouth shut in case it made the chopping block arrive sooner for me. It’s your news to tell when you’re ready.

      Hope all goes well for you.

  23. Lisa*

    Thinking about this mornings post – how do you deal with an otherwise good employee who simply refuses to take an instruction? Linda, who kept getting up, just responded with “No, that won’t be possible”. How do you counter that? Firing seems extreme, assuming that all of the tasks are getting done (yes, I know clients are sometimes waiting, but in this hypothetical situation, assume it’s maybe 1 out of 10 and her filing is fantastic).

    1. ElizabethJane*

      Counterpoint: Are they really a good employee if they can’t follow simple instructions, particularly if the aforementioned instruction is a key part of their job?

      Sometimes I think we confuse “decent human whom I would likely enjoy spending time with outside of work” or “person who is talented at some parts of their job” with “good employee” and those things aren’t really the same at all.

      But I’d respond with “This is not negotiable”.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think you have to move to an immediate firing, but that could warrant a PIP. There are also other ways to “discipline” employees without choosing between “everything’s fine” and “you’re fired.” The employee could get less juicy assignments or get a pay cut or have other benefits (not health benefits, but other things) taken away.

      Is there any possibility that “that won’t be possible” means that she’s overly stressed and feels you’re adding something to her plate she can’t get done? Or is she really just refusing to do something because she doesn’t like it? Can you ask her why she’s responding that way?

    3. North Wind*

      Depends on the situation. In this case (if the manager were functioning properly), it would make sense to clearly spell out the job requirements (being at the desk), and when Linda says no, since she is otherwise good I think I would try to coach her about finding/working in a position that is a better fit. But all the while holding firm on the requirements of her current job and being clear that the company needs to have someone in that position who can fulfill its responsibilities.

    4. anonagain*

      I’d start by trying to understand why they felt it wasn’t possible. Sure the employee should explain if there’s a good reason, but they haven’t, so I can ask. Or perhaps they already discussed the underlying issue and I just haven’t made the connection between that conversation and whatever I’ve asked them to do.

      It could be something simple, but there’s no way forward without better communication. I’d try to open that door and hopefully find a solution. I’d also try to coach the employee on how to raise these issues in the future.

      The employee’s response is really not ideal, but I do think it’s worth trying to figure out what’s going on before doing anything else.

      1. Lisa*

        Yes. When I read the post I was thinking of the research that states you should get up and walk around at least every five minutes, for an hour of sitting. There are health issues that are linked to being sedentary, especially related to sitting. If the employee had brought that up, do you think that would have changed the discussion?

    5. nonymous*

      idk if you listened to the podcasts that Alison did for a while, where she gave examples of how tone can be used to steer the conversation?

      In the ideal world Lindas would be able to articulate why she can’t be in a sedentary environment and the conversation would be about troubleshooting that (sit/stand desks, giving her some grunt work for non-busy times, letting her know that it’s okay to read/play minesweeper/whatever during down times, etc). However if the employee seems well-intentioned but clueless, it’s a kindness to let them know how their response is being perceived. I would pair the tone that Alison modeled with ElizabethJane’s statement “this is not negotiable”, leave a small door open for medical accommodations and tell her that outright refusal will be seen as insubordination.

    6. Joielle*

      I think it’s a big enough deal to at least float the concept of firing. Maybe one of Alison’s signature conversations: “I hear what you’re saying, but unfortunately it’s essential that the person in this position stay at the desk 90% of the time. Knowing that, does it make sense for you to stay in this role? If not, I completely understand, and we can talk about giving you some time to look for a more suitable position elsewhere.”

    7. CM*

      I think it depends. If the thing you’re asking them to do is core to their job, and the reason they’re employed there, then it’s super easy, because the situation is that they need to agree to do it or else it’s not a good match anymore and you have to hire someone else.

      The trickier situations are when it’s about something that’s not really core to their job — which is what I think you’re asking about. When the core job responsibilities are happening well enough that they’re an asset to your team, but there’s some weird peripheral thing that they’re drawing a hard line on. In that case, I think you need to talk about it and try to find a compromise that both of you can live with. If you aren’t able to, then you have to decide if having them refuse this thing is a price you’re willing to pay to keep them in the job, or if you need to replace them.

      The way I think about it is like this: They’re telling you what they are and aren’t willing to do. Now that you have that information, do you still want to keep them in that role?

      It’s not wrong for them to say, “I’m not going to do that,” and it’s not wrong for you to say, “I can’t really keep you here if you’re not going to do that,” either. But, if you do want to keep them, trying to find a compromise is your best bet.

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

      If it’s possible, and the Linda employee really is an otherwise great employee, I would try to move them to a position that they can excel in — not in a retaliatory way, but if they can’t or won’t do the job they have, there really aren’t many options. Saying, “It’s okay if 10% of our clients are kept waiting, or office production stops 10% of the time because Linda decided that’s what she wants,” really isn’t OK. Others may pick up the attitude that “nope, not going to” is acceptable, and then the whole office starts to fail.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This is a big part of it for me. Any action taken or not taken must take into account its impact on the whole team. It’s unlikely that OP was the only person to notice that Linda wasn’t doing her job as outlined. At some point that bleeds out and it becomes the norm for people to pick and choose which parts of their job they want to do and which parts they don’t want to do. Businesses can’t function that way.

    9. Librarian of SHIELD*

      I would argue that in Linda’s case, she was *not* completing all of her assigned tasks. There were two specific tasks she had been given that she was deliberately choosing not to complete. One was staying at or near her desk to deal with people who came over or called her. The other was telling her coworker when there was a task that the coworker needed to complete. The technical job assignments she was given may have been getting done, but those two job tasks don’t stop counting just because they don’t have distinct deliverables. We’ve had similar conversations here when there’s an employee who isn’t treating co-workers well, because being able to treat your coworkers respectfully can definitely be considered an essential job task and you can absolutely put an employee on a PIP or give a written warning if they’re not doing that.

      If I had been Linda’s manager, I probably would have started with why. Why does Linda feel that staying at or near her desk is impossible? Is there anything I can do from my end that would make it more possible? Then if the “why” conversation wasn’t fruitful, I’d move on to a warning or a PIP. From there, Linda has to decide whether being able to move around whenever she wants is more important than keeping a job where moving around isn’t one of the job functions.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t really get the issue here? Is Linda getting up and physically walking away? Or is she just standing up and stretching kind of thing?

      Because you can’t really expect people to sit in their chair for eight hours.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        From the letter, a major part of Linda’s job was to be available for clients when they came in, but it sounded like she was leaving her desk for extended periods and doing other things in the office (including someone else’s job), so that when clients came in she wasn’t there. So it wasn’t a matter of simply needing to stretch occasionally, but a refusal to actually do her job.

        1. valentine*

          Is Linda getting up and physically walking away?
          Yes.

          Because you can’t really expect people to sit in their chair for eight hours.
          You can, and it’s better than forcing them to stand, but Linda went from zero to a million. She doesn’t want to stretch. She wants to do active work that belongs to a coworker. She’s had plenty of time to ask, not take. Instead, she’s insubordinate and her manager’s useless.

          A bigger problem than waiting clients is those who can’t or won’t wait.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I usually say, “Excuse me, I did not hear you.”
      This gives people a second to realize what they just said. IF they are silly enough to repeat that then we chat.

      I do think that expecting an employee to stay in one spot for the duration of their work day is ridiculous. I would expect the company to have a hard time keeping that position filled. As a supervisor I would be very interested in redesigning the job IF possible. However, her supervisor can say to her that she was told she would be expected to remain in one spot for her full work day before she was hired. And then she agreed to that. Then I would ask if this is something she can do. To my boss I would say, “This is something we are going to keep going through until we figure out a better way to handle things.” But I would not let her know I was saying that.

    12. LGC*

      I ranted about this on Thursday night because I feel like I have a couple right now.

      What makes it more difficult is that I work with people with disabilities…including myself. (I have autistic spectrum disorder.) So what holds me back sometimes is that I can’t really tell for sure “I won’t” from “I can’t.” (Often, they can’t either, which makes things even more fun!)

      Honestly, I tend to just start with assuming an “I won’t” is really an “I can’t, but I want to front and look hard about it because I learned not to admit weakness.” (Which is another issue entirely.) So I’ll sometimes turn it around and ask why they can’t. Or I might have to listen for clues. Sometimes the answer is right there.

      If that doesn’t work, the tools I’ve used have been progressive discipline, mostly. So yeah, I’m not opposed to the dreaded write up. It’s a bit demeaning on both sides (well, definitely for the employee, and it’s not exactly a picnic for me either), but sometimes it needs to be spelled out.

  24. Long-time AMA Lurker*

    Sending out an introvert SOS: I moved into a new position at work (a team needed help and it just fell into place), and y’all, it is a job for an extrovert. Think project management-type responsibilities where every task involves talking to someone or setting up a meeting. I am so missing my prior, much more independent job. And my partner and all my friends keep asking to spend more time with me, and by the time I get home, I just CAN’T. I am exhausted and want to go hide in a cave for a month.
    Has anyone – especially if you’re an introvert – transitioned from a more independent, analytical role to a people role and feel like sharing advice? Going back to the old role is not really an option. I feel kind of crushed and stuck.
    To make things more complicated, my partner works solo from home, so he is all geared up to see me when I get home, and I just want to curl in a blanket with a book :(

    1. Jenny*

      Yes! I’ve been there, and that job lasted for five years before another opportunity came along. I was working on a customer call center, so a lot of phone calls. I swore every time it rang. However, that experience gave me skills i would never have sought out and I’m so grateful that I was able to flex that deep introversion. I tried to really utilize my time off the phone to keep to myself, I used each interaction as a one on one, rather than look at the volume of people i was interacting with each day, and really worked to build rapore on each call. It was exhausting, but I became really good at it and I use that customer service based skill in every job since.

    2. OtterB*

      Build in recuperation times as much as you can. I know you say all the tasks involve talking to someone or setting up a meeting, but is there anything non-peopley that you can lump together to define a few short time blocks at work where you aren’t talking to people?

      And you’ve got to have an explicit conversation with your partner about needing time to decompress before you’re ready to interact.

      Also, it will probably get easier as you get used to the job and some of the conversations become routine rather than always having to be figuring out how to deal with the people on the fly.

      1. CB*

        +1. I’m a introvert-for-life and my job has expanded from mostly clerical tasks to an expanded portfolio of fundraising, project management, and being the “friendly face” at our events. I am thankful for my boss advocating for me to be promoted, but I’m now so much more protective of my time outside of work to allow for sufficient recharging.

    3. Dana B.S.*

      Introvert here. I have worked in so many people-centric jobs and they haven’t killed me yet.
      1. Focus on the good in your new role. What are you learning? Who are you meeting? What will this do for your future career? Over time, especially if you embrace it as a welcome challenge, you will start to get a little more comfortable.
      2. Working with others is a bit like weight lifting. At first, you can barely manage to life the smallest weights. As you continue working, it gets easier. No, you won’t be a champion weight-lifter, but you’ll be able to manage much better over time.
      3. Know what you need. Time with friends and your partner is different than time at work, so it does take a little navigating to find a good balance.
      4. Make your needs clear to those in your life. If possible, give your partner a head’s up by text around lunchtime: “It’s already been an exhausting day! Is it okay if I skip out on doing x?” Or just give a general guideline: “If I have, x, y, & z at work in the same week, then I will not be able to make plans all weekend. I need Friday night on my own, need to sleep in on Saturday, and will need to be able to prepare for the new week starting Sunday afternoon. We can do Saturday afternoon/evening activities and a brunch outing on Sunday.”

    4. North Wind*

      Can you block out regular daily chunks in your work calendar that is inviolable cave time? Time when you take care of tasks that can be done without interaction?

      I feel you! I worked as an analyst/data person most of my life, and steadfastly refused all requests/pressure to go into management or project management for this reason.

      In one job, I came to learn our database in great depth (yes, I would read the SQL of all the backend procedures in my spare time). When we ramped up with a bunch of new employees, I was happy to host trainings, but I would also be barraged with questions all day (in person and via email) as folks tried to get their work done. Introvert’s hell. This was in a huge corporate environment, but my manager let me set my hours. For quite some time I actually came into work at 3 PM, had “office hours” until 5 or 6 so anyone could swing by and ask me anything, and then worked through the evening until 11 or so in sweet, blessed, empty office peace (this was before the days when working remotely was common). I’m a night owl and this worked for me. Not for everyone obviously, but maybe some version of “office hours” vs “cave time” can be built into your schedule.

      Anyway, good luck, I commiserate!

    5. nonymous*

      Plan out your breaks. Embrace a reputation of being that person who reads/jogs/naps in the car. This will train people to leave you alone for specific intervals, and you can extend that by scheduling your non-people tasks right around these breaks to extend the recharge period. Also is there any opportunity to reduce the back-and-forth? Tricks such as scheduling meetings at regular intervals (teapot designers meet Tues @9 and talk about whatever projects we are juggling), having a system for gathering agenda items, and deferring ad-hoc discussion to the meeting (if possible) can cut down on requests.

      Also, can you ask your partner to schedule their out-of-house stuff for right when you’re getting home? When I worked from home and hubs was commuting, he would email me the grocery list (or whatever errands were necessary) as he left work. If I didn’t have errands, I’d go walk the dogs. That way the first 30-60 minutes home was his own.

      1. Aggretsuko*

        Get the heck away from your office if you can, because if you are there to bug, you will be bugged.

      2. Spooncake*

        Yes. I recently got promoted into a junior management role from a fairly independent research role, and the transition was exhausting until I figured out how to give myself a break from people during the day. It really helps to get away from your desk during your lunch break- we have a dedicated break room with confortable furniture so I spend mine curled up in a corner with a book and after the first few days of “ooh let’s see what you’re reading” everyone just accepted that Spooncake is a nerd who reads about elves on her break instead of chatting. And then when I get back there are usually admin tasks to do, so that’s basically a good couple of hours in the middle of the day that can be blocked out as Not People Time. It’s a little thing, but it makes a big difference.

    6. periwinkle*

      Read Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and take her observations/advice to heart. In particular, consider her strategies of communicating/negotiating the recovery time that you need after a day of engaging in work-required extrovert behavior.

    7. Jessica B*

      Lots of great advice here, and I’ll add that it took me about 6 months to feel less exhausted when I first went through a change like this. That might sound like a lot, but everyone is different–your adjustment period could be much faster–but it’s nice to know you’ll get used to it in time!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I did adjust to it also. Self-care was very important to me. And my quiet time before bed, just spent reading was more precious than gold. I did think that work conversations and personal conversations were two different things and pulled on me differently.

  25. Insert Witty Name Here*

    My coworker “Minerva” seemed wary of me from the start. She makes conversation, but will ignore what I say and pay attention to my other coworkers. She went out of her way to train the new male hires in the department, but seems cold and is very short with me.

    She seems to want to one up me in front of the boss sometimes by turning her work in early, but we do different things. She seems competitive with me compared to the others.

    She can be social at times and I try to make a little small talk with her because we sit across from each other, but otherwise I just keep myself busy and stay focused on work.

    I know not everyone will like me, but when it is obvious like this it makes me nervous. I also need to be trained by her and worry that she either won’t train me or it will be rushed through and I still won’t know what I’m doing.

    I’ve dealt with this before and not to bash my own gender or generalize, but in my experience, it’s usually an older woman- the ones nearing retirement. They’re friendly with men and women their age, but they treat younger women differently.

    Again, I’ve dealt with coworkers like this before, but I’m still at a loss. Is there anything that I should be doing? Any thoughts? Any stories?

    1. OhBehave*

      I had a feeling before you provided the info that this was an older woman doing this! She may be feeling like she’s slowing down, so she needs to show she can keep up with the younger hires, etc. Some fear is that as one ages in the workplace, they become expensive to the company (pay, benefits, etc.), therefore, the first to be let go. She’s competing with you for relevance.
      Continue to treat her nicely. There is nothing you are doing to get this treatment (as long as there really isn’t). She may very well leave out some training details. When she starts to train you, keep your eyes open in order to catch any omissions that seem obvious. Can you play up her experience and your appreciation of her help? This may feel like sucking up, and it is a bit. It just depends upon how much her treatment of you is a worry. Is there anyone else who knows about the procedures used in training? You could run it past them once you start working on those tasks just to make sure (because Minerva is so busy.).

      1. Shoes On My Cat*

        As Behave said above, and when she is training you, just turn on the Voice Memo app on your phone. That way if she runs through stuff quickly, you can go back later and listen to her comments. She may not want to be thorough but if she has been doing this long enough, decent training will be automatic and she won’t be able to filter herself easily, just go through it quickly. Good luck!

    2. Brazilian Hobbit*

      I did have someone like this at a previous job. She wasn’t a bad person at all, but she did seem to feel threatened by me. I was pretty young them, but I managed to have a 1 x 1 with her and tell her I admired her work ethic and how efficient she was (it was true – she had some relationship problems with most of our coworkers, but she was very competent) and asked her to mentor me so I could make her work easier. I’m not sure how helpful that is for you, but it did disarm her and put her in a position where she felt she had control. Of course, we did the same kind of work, so you may need to adjust the approach to something that makes sense for your positions!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I was 48 working with a mixed group ranging for 17 up to older than me at that time. I got strange comments such as “Older people should not have to move that heavy stuff” or, “older people should not have to work as hard as younger people” etc, from YOUNGER people. I was 48 not 98.

      Watch your own deferential treatment. Maybe you share a joke freely with others but when she comes around you get all serious. Hey, it happens, younger me did this. Laugh when something is truly funny, share a funny story with her. Shared laughter is a moment when people let their guard down and it can help to ease tensions. It can be a reliable tool to work with.

      Try not to get too stiff or formal when she appears or in your ordinary conversations with her. Once in a while I would work with someone who, I dunno, thought I was made of glass. I felt I had to tighten up what I was doing to match her so SHE would be comfy with me. Is there a possibility that you are a little more formal with her and she is reacting to that?

      I think the one thing that I saw that kind of made me sad was The Giggle. “Hey, NSNR, do you EVEN know what X is?” Where X is something in their generation’s culture but not my generation’s culture.” I would answer truthfully yes or no and then I would get The Giggle. I remember being that younger person and my older generation would say, “Do you even know what Y is?”. It’s fine to ask someone if they know what a particular thing is if you want to talk about it with them. It’s not fine to ask them for entertainment purposes, just to see if they know or not. I don’t think you are doing this, but it’s good to realize some people are and she has no way of knowing who does not do this.

      So these are samples of what happens. Nothing terrible, clearly. But just stuff that is a little strange. I was less than 45 when I first started noticing this stuff. I can only conclude that each decade has its own unique set of drawbacks.

      And going in the opposite direction, some older people are just jerks. Some older people are just awkward. And some older people are okay. Not much different than the rest of the population in that regard. The first thing I would try is to decide to be my own comfortable self around her. See if she relaxes if you relax.

  26. Sleepy*

    I was temporarily promoted to an Interim Director position—and I don’t think I want the permanent job. I just found through the grapevine that a colleague, now direct report, think she should have the permanent job. The thing is, she was passed over as Interim Director for a reason. Now I started wondering if she’s trying to undermine me at every turn. Any words of wisdom? I don’t have a super specific question but I’m struggling with adjusting to my new responsibilities (it’s only been a week) and I don’t want to compete with her over a job I don’t want.

    1. OtterB*

      How long are you supposed to be Interim Director? If you know why your colleage was passed over for the role, can you work with her on developing that area so she could be ready to take the Director position that you don’t want?

      1. Sleepy*

        I like this idea…lack of people management skills was one reason I heard named, which I think she can definitely improve with practice, but “immaturity” was another, and I’m not sure quite what that’s referring to or how to target it.

        1. ten-four*

          ooh, I disagree. This is news through the grapevine; no need for you to take on the added labor of supporting a person who was passed over and who you fear will undermine you to get the job!

          I’d get super clear on what your outcomes are for this interim, and focus on delivering them. It is not your job to mentor this person up, and in fact it might annoy the people who passed her over on purpose. If you find that she does attempt to undermine you, you can address that as it comes. But for now: work with whoever assigned you to the role to get very clear on your goals, figure out a way of tracking and reporting them, and establish a channel for getting ongoing support (weekly 1:1’s or something).

          And hey, stay open to the possibility that you might want the role once you’re a little more settled in. No doubt the first weeks are tough, but you were given the role for a reason and it’s at minimum a good opportunity to see what it’s all about. Don’t let grumpy people sour you on an opportunity!

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            It is not your job to mentor this person up, and in fact it might annoy the people who passed her over on purpose.

            This is a very good point. You don’t want to look like you’re undermining the people above you. And if you truly don’t want the position in the future, but you think the coaching idea is a good one, ask your boss whether that would make sense. By doing this, you’ll get more information about why your new direct report was passed over for the interim position and may be able to get buy in to coach the report if the two of you agree that this role won’t suit you permanently.

        2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I dislike this idea, because if she is that awful (immature, poor people management skills) you do not want to be grooming her to be your own boss, which is what will happen if she is given the permanent job at the end of your interim period.

          Especially since those characteristics of immature and poor people management mean that she is likely to see you as a threat, and then work to push you out of her department.

          1. Fortitude Jones*

            Oh, yeah – that’s another good point. I would not want someone with those characteristics managing me.

            1. Sleepy*

              Yeah…quite honestly, I would probably leave if she was my boss. And knowing that she was a second choice the higher-ups had concerns about for the position pushed me to take it on, even though I was not 100% enthusiastic about doing so.

              Thanks for the thoughts everyone!

      2. OtterB*

        I was thinking more in terms of weaknesses like lack of knowledge of some specific subarea, not more general and harder-to-fix issues. Agreed that if she’s the kind of person you wouldn’t want to work for, then you don’t want to be in the business of trying to get her into the job.

        Good luck with it. “Interim” things are hard.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Some people think confidence is just in us naturally. I believe confidence is developed and grown by a deliberate effort. I don’t believe there is much natural confidence out there. I know natural confidence comes around far too rarely for my own needs. ha!

      How to start to build confidence. In situations like this decide that until you have proof she is undermining you, then you should assume she is not undermining you. You are waiting on proof.
      The truth always bubbles to the surface. Don’t worry about it, if she is pulling a stunt here, you WILL find out.

      Focus on the work itself. Focus on doing your best today. When interacting with her be logical, be clear and be transparent. Talk with her as if the whole world can hear what you are saying. This will help you carry on in a professional manner.

      Work through some of the aspects of this setting. You have been at it one week. After another week you will probably feel a tiny bit different. And after a third week you may again feel another change. This is not stagnant. That knot in your stomach will work loose.
      The other aspect to look at is her wanting your job. You could soul search and see if you privately DO want the job but are having some serious concerns. You could talk those serious concerns over with your boss and see what she says. Perhaps you find that you still do NOT want the job but your core concern is you do NOT want to work for HER. Maybe something to consider is to ask your boss how you can assist in the search for the permanent person. Participating in the search may quell your concerns when you see first hand they are not even looking at her application. Or you may be able to point out qualifications or abilities the person should have that the boss has not thought of yet. Perhaps you can influence the situation so you end up with a great boss.

  27. rayray*

    I’m curious what people think on this. I’m 30, and the youngest in my small office by at least 15 years. I’m also pretty new, so I had to learn the office rules and culture which are very different than my last job.

    When I was still new, I was seen responding to a text message and scolded like a child to not be on my phone. Fair enough, it’s not unreasonable to aks people that. However, in conversations with a couple friends we talked about how we get in trouble for sending a text, but our Gen X and Boomer coworkers have zero qualms about taking personal calls whether at their desk or in the hall/conference room. In my office, my boss who scolded me frequently has personal conversations that can be 10-25 minutes long. My other Gen Y friends said this exact thing happens at their jobs–no texting allowed even though it only takes a few seconds, but phone calls with their spouse or long daily conversations complaining about the less-than–stellar landscaping work done at their home? Totally fine! Why is this? I really want to understand the logic here.

    1. ContemporaryIssued*

      I think it’s this idea if you are making a phone call, you are conducting some private business that is important and above board. Like arranging a doctor’s appointment or something to do with your family or calling the bank or whatever. The phone call lifts the importance of the matter, at least in how it’s perceived.

      Texting is perceived as being chit-chatty, non-crucial, frivolous. Even though people also schedule appointments via text (that’s how I communicate with my physiotherapist!) and have urgent things to do with family come up via text and all kinds of things. You’re not just sending memes and texting “lol” to your friends, but that’s the impression I think that comes attached to texting.

      I’m also in my early 30’s and I’ve actually started doing more short calls if possible during work hours because it “looks better” to dip out for 5 mins to call than be seen texting. It is a weird standard.

      1. rayray*

        That makes sense! Most often, text conversations I have are more chit-chatty, but sometimes it is to confirm plans or something else less chit-chatty. Tbh, the personal calls seem to be more personal in nature. I’ve definitely taken necessary calls for appointments and such, but others definitely seem to just be chatting. But still, the personal conversations here can go on forever. That’d where I get kinda lost… Why my boss thinks it’s okay to think I’m slacking if I take a few seconds off to send a text but she talks people’s ears off complaining about everything(she’s a “Karen” type lady)

        To be fair, she had other qualities that make her a bad boss and when I got into other issues here, kind readers advised me to look for something else.

      2. Kat in VA*

        This is so odd to me. Texting is a fast way to get my exec, his directors, other people in the office. Usually I’ll text someone in the office if I need a quick answer to a question and they’re not on IM (not everyone remembers to sign in), or I don’t want to wait for email, or don’t have time to walk to their desk.

    2. Anongradstudent*

      What on earth kind of job doesn’t let you get texts but allows personal phone calls? Maybe the next time this comes up, you can ask her/him directly why they allow personal calls but not texts, when texts would be much quicker and less distracting to coworkers.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        Latch key.

        Personal phone calls had to be done via the land line. If we had cell phones out, it was 1 write up and the next time fired.

        We lost a lot of 20 to 30 year olds who thought it was a joke. The supervisor from head quarters pop in and write them all up.

        It was cited as a privacy concern, and parents complained if staff was on their phone.

        I used to keep all my arts and crafts notes/plans on my phone. Didn’t get a write up, only a warning. Then had to hard copy that whole mess out, and put it into a binder.

        I was 40 at the time, and base supervisor was in her early 60s. She hated mobile phones, and the policy is still there 10 years later.

    3. Teapot Librarian*

      I haven’t experienced this myself, so don’t have an answer. But I do agree with you on the texting vs phone calls issue. I have an employee who will answer his phone when he’s in a meeting with me! It’s totally a power play on his part. If he got a text and responded while in a meeting with me, that would more than likely be totally fine. But when his phone rings, he just pulls it out and answers it. (If my phone rings when I’m in a meeting with my boss, I’ll check who it is just to make sure it’s not something time sensitive, but if it IS, I say to her “oh, this is X person and I need to take it for Y reason. Do you mind?”)

      1. Shoes On My Cat*

        You need to shut that down! I think Alison had a post this year about managing a jerk like that! Something about walking out yourself with a comment for the jerk to come to her office when he’s finished with his call. That is when you tell him “I need you to avoid taking calls when we are in a meeting.” Then when a thorough reaming for insubordination when he repeats his bratty behavior.

    4. Earthwalker*

      As a boomer, I hate this too. My nearest colleague used to have long, loud shouting matches over the phone with friends and kids. No one ever said she shouldn’t do that on company time. I would so much have preferred nice quiet texting.

      1. rayray*

        I’m of the opinion that personal calls/texts and also conversations with coworkers should be totally acceptable. HOWEVER, I think there needs to be courtesy to others – so take the personal calls to the hall/conference room. Keep the texting brief. Keep the conversations brief. So long as work gets done, what’s the problem?

        But all in all, COURTESY is most important. I don’t care to hear people whining about this or that, or fighting with their spouse, or whatever it is.

    5. QCI*

      Your company culture seems to have the mindset that you can only do two things on a phone, “talking” and “playing”. If you’re not speaking into it you’re playing on it, and there’s no playing on company time young man!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’m Gen X and there is no logic to it that I can see. I’d rather have a coworker deal with a thing through a quick text than to have to wait for them to get off a long personal call, or listen to their end of it for half an hour.

    7. Utah Ex-Pat*

      X-er here.
      I’m right there with you. At my last annual evaluation at my former employer, I was chastized for texting on my phone… from my boss who took daily 15 minute phone calls from her grandson. That was the day I started updating my resume. Mote. Eye. Beam.

    8. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

      One thing that chats with co-works or personal tangents on business calls that may be buying them more favour in your workplace is that they are a way to build/maintain a relationship with a colleague. That is why they may be tolerated more. Yes you can do that via text but I suspect that your boss is someone who doesn’t text frequently so he has not seen that yet.

      You been given feedback that texts are frowned on. Even though you find them a good communication practice, you management does not. I am not sure you have the ability to change that so you might have to curtail that for now.

    9. Jenny2*

      Gen X here and every other Gen Xer I know would rather be drawn and quartered than place a phone call but maybe that’s geographic.

      Sometimes I get caught up in group texts and one quick text becomes 45 texts that may or may not require my attention and that’s a whole other time suck along the lines of a 25-minute phone call. My quick texts easily add up to the length of some of the personal calls you’re describing, just over the course of the whole day rather than in one go. And then I think us olders worry about divided attention because of the situations I just described. I often just put my phone in a drawer since I read a study that said just having your phone out distracts you dramatically.

      I mean, what you’re describing is totally ridiculous and sounds like it’s just that someone decided texting was bad and phone calls were ok based on who knows what.

      1. emmelemm*

        Agreeing that I and most Gen Xers I know would die before making a single phone call. I, myself, prefer email, so I’m not quite one of the hip kids, but texts are fine.

        Also about the “bad landscaping”/fighting with spouse, I’d much rather you be in the corner texting angrily than that I can hear you even from my cubicle.

        1. I prefer anon*

          I’m an X and I love the phone – I spend hours every week talking to my sisters and my best friends. Texting? I hate it! I come out in a rash of anxiety at the thought.

          I think the problem with texting in the workplace is that to the observer it looks just like surfing social media. I also think it is unprofessional to take too many non-urgent personal calls. (Ring your doctor for an appt fine, chat to your grandson every day, Good Lord!)

      2. Kat in VA*

        I hate phone calls. I’d hate them even if I didn’t have a speech impediment that makes it difficult for the person on the other end to understand me.

        A fast text saying, “Hey, did you send in the PO for XYZ today?” versus calling them up, saying hey, how you doing, I have a quick question, blah blah blah conversation…minimum 2-5 minutes when all I need is a yes/no answer!

    10. Mop Head*

      Xer her, it’s absolutely company culture there. My Boomer bosses all spend a lot of time on personal calls, but no one has every complained about me responding to a text or being on my cell phone at my desk. I prefer that to people having loud conversations where everyone can hear them. Your boss is just inconsiderate and probably thinks you are playing a game.

    11. LilySparrow*

      GenX and you are right, it’s not logical.

      I think it’s a gut-level reaction to seeing someone looking at their phone instead of the outside world and the privacy of texting.

      If someone is having an annoying personal conversation, at least you know what they’re talking about. Whereas some older folks perceive texting as secretive. And it pushes the same emotional button as seeing their teenage kids texting at dinner.

      Not logical at all. It’s just a subconscious negative association.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      Reaching way back, using the landline at work was either forbidden or very strict, limited personal use.

      Cell phones do not have this long history of tight rule. Additionally, cell phones are not company property and a landline is company property. This can lead to a “put the toy away” mentality.

      I think there is wide misconception that people use landlines sparingly but cell phones demand too much of people’s attention. The sparse use mentality dates back to times when there was just landlines. So yes, probably people do not double check to see if their assumptions (minimal usage) match reality (lots of usage).

      And I will add, for non-users the phone can drive a person nuts. I have a wonderful boss. But if she doesn’t have a phone call or text then the phone is going off because she has an alarm set for something. I’d guess the phone goes off every 15-20 minutes all day. It does not stop. Ever. And every time it goes off my train of thought totally derails. If both of us had cell phones then very little work would get done. I don’t say anything. She’s a wonderful boss and a good person.

    13. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

      Here’s one reason I can think of–most people texting text a lot. While someone may make one personal call a day say, texts can fly back and forth all day long. I’m not saying it does but in my experience, my friends who text are texting constantly–not a 15 minute phone call but say 10-20 texts an hour which eats up time and is constantly a signal of not paying attention to many. I can wait until a call is done–but if I’m talking to someone about a work issue and they reply to a text or even read one, I know their attention is now split.

  28. Asking for a friend...*

    When everyone in work is at BEC level to you, does that make YOU the b”tch eating crackers??

    1. finally october*

      I feel it honestly does depend. Do you have a friend you can have a frank talk with and go over your own actions? If you’re nearing or at burnout, you might be dealing with people in an abrupt or rude manner that might be in just a feedback loop of eating crackers The Wrong Way.

    2. BeanCat*

      My first thought is if that’s the case, you may be burning out. Nearly every time that’s happened to me, it’s because I was burning out and needed some kind of outlet.

      I hope that helps!

    3. Yokohama Tires*

      For me, yes. When I notice that absolutely EVERYONE is getting on my nerves, I take a step back because that usually means I’m being the problem.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Because I am the common thread through all the stories/upsets. And because I can only change ME and no one else.

        Happily, I can say that most of the time when I have reached this point it is due to lack of rest. So at least I know why it’s happening and what to do about it. And, oh yeah, I keep my mouth shut and bury myself in a Big Project until it’s time to go home.

    4. Acornia*

      Not necessarily, but it’s possible.
      The difference is in how you’re treating others. If you’re coping with a duck-your-head and just do your job, people probably are not seeing that in you. If you’re dishing it out, too, then probably, yeah, you are.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      If one person calls you a clown, ignore them.
      If two people call you a clown, start to wonder.
      If three people call you a clown, go take a good long look in the mirror and see if you gotta tone down the facepaint.

      In other words, if you’ve rubbed a whole lot of people the wrong way, then it’s really worth taking a long hard look at your own behavior and see what you’ve contributed to the situation. It’s not at all impossible that you’ve done nothing wrong and their attitude is wholly about them… but it’s equally not impossible that you’ve got some room to improve how you work with others.

      1. Kat in VA*

        My dad has an accurate – if inelegant – saying for just this situation:

        If everyone around you is an asshole, the reality is you’re the asshole.

    6. CheeryO*

      I mean, is there something about your role that makes life difficult for people? If not and it’s purely an interpersonal thing, then yeah, maybe. In general, if problems follow you wherever you go, then you’re the problem, either because of your actions or because of the way you’re interpreting things – maybe you’re a chronic over-analyzer?

    7. fhqwhgads*

      The usual cliche would say absolutely yes. I think the reality is there are two possibilities:
      You’re in a really bad environment.
      It’s you.

      But it’s very very difficult for you to determine which is the case.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        It’s also more of a sliding scale than a hard binary. It could be 5% you and 95% your office, or vice versa.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Buuut… if it is everyone in the environment and not me, that circles back to “It’s ME”. And the reason is it’s me because I have not gotten myself out of there YET. I know these people are jerks and I still persist in trying to keep the job. That is a “Me” problem.
        Good news: I can fix this.

    8. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      If it’s everyone, that limits the possibility of finding a possibly neutral party who may be able to advise if it IS you or a toxic environment.
      Sometimes it’s not so much seeing the wood for the trees, but being smacked in the head by branches while looking for leaves.
      (sorry for the mangled metaphor!)

    9. anon9*

      I’m giving you a no, esp if you are self-aware. Sometimes the culture/environment and you do not click and that’s okay.

    10. nonymous*

      You might be growing in a different direction than the rest of your team sees your position.

      My new supervisor thinks that my job is 95% maintenance and IT support (on my position description this is only like 20%) so basically all my interesting work has dried up. It really sucks to have my primary interaction with the team be when something didn’t work b/c they couldn’t follow directions shown in screenshots (even when all they have to do is copy and paste). It is not good, and I just got ghosted after an interview, so definitely a low point. Right now I focus on being professional and trying to be faster/better at reading the room during meetings.

    11. What’s with Today, today?*

      I’m not going to say definitely yes, but I am a big believer in common denominators.

    12. Dittany*

      Very possibly! …but also very possibly not. What caused you to dislike them so much, and how have you responded?

      If you’d rather not air all your dirty work laundry in a public forum, talk it over with a neutral (and non-gossipy) third party, being as objective as possible. (I mean, you won’t be objective. You can’t be. But steer clear of, like, sweeping moral judgments about how one of the Bitches Eating Crackers organized her pens.)

  29. Seifer*

    Lately at work, there’s been this weird anxiety about emails. I’m the type of person where I’ll send whatever because the way I see it is that I’m not slipping in a, “by the way you all suck and I hate you. Please advise on the matter above. Thanks.” so… it’s probably fine. But the other day my boss micromanaged… a two sentence email that I wrote. He had me revise it so many times that I finally sat back and was like, okay, do you want to write the email? It’s weird.

    Just a rant, but also, does anyone have crippling anxiety over emails? I have GAD but it doesn’t apply to emails, apparently.

    1. Coverage Associate*

      I used to have anxiety about work emails. It helped to note imperfections in bosses’ emails. Not in a gotcha way, just to see what a realistic standard was.

      I have shared before about how my boss is obsessive about saving emails. I try to roll with it as much as I can.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I don’t have crippling anxiety over emails, but definitely anxiety! I feel such pressure to say *exactly the right thing in exactly the right way*. (In part because communications is something people pay me for, I feel pressure to communicate perfectly all the time.) Be friendly but not too casual. Get to the point but don’t sound terse. Explain the situation clearly but not too much detail. Don’t use minimizing language for normal requests (ex. “sorry to bother you”). Sound authoritative yet not demanding. Avoid using “I” too many times, or “you”. It’s enough to drive a woman insane. It can take me a long time — too much time — and a lot of editing passes to get emails out. It’s a huge energy suck.

      This has taken up so much space in my brain for so many years, I’ve considered writing a multi-part series on how to write better work emails.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Forgot to note, sometimes this amount of effort is worthwhile! Especially in client-facing emails, it’s important to get it right and if that means multiple drafts and getting input from others, it’s worth doing. I just wish I could get faster at the less important ones.

    3. emmelemm*

      I’m the horrible person who will write five paragraph emails and I have no shame about it.

      Part of it, though, is that I often have to explain a detailed process to someone, and I’d rather type a long email about it than talk to them on the phone because I have phone anxiety!

      1. Filosofickle*

        LOL, I have phone anxiety too, which is another reason I put so much damn effort into getting emails right! Sometimes 5 paragraphs is warranted, if it’s technical or complex. Gives them something to refer to (assuming they will, which sometimes they won’t).

  30. Amber Rose*

    Today in “Good Sense Prevails” management has politely but firmly shut down a request to have prayer before dinner during the Christmas party. My husband made a shocked pikachu face that anyone would even suggest such a thing. It’s pretty funny, the differences between our tiny company and his enormous government organization.

    We’re in the midst of trying to decide which charity to support this year and it’s tough because management wants to make it fun by having us collect items and stuff, but most charities would honestly prefer cash. And the ones who don’t, we already supported recently and we try to do a different one every year. Picking a charity has become a thing now.

    So, are there ways we can make raising straight cash more fun for everyone? Last year we had a HUGE event with a silent auction and stuff but they want to scale it back since last year was special circumstances.

    1. Rainy days*

      Thank you for recognizing that charities need cash. Sending you support!

      Would your employees enjoy getting sponsorships for some kind of activity? Could be silly games rather than athletic competitions, like get sponsored $1 from friends and family for each every inch of height in a paperclip tower building competition.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I’m not sure, I feel like the sponsorships thing is gonna be too much work for them to take part. People are pretty lazy.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      Back in my VBS days they used to raise money for charity by having the kids bring in coins to fill up buckets. Heaviest bucket wins! Some people really got into it. At the end of the week there was a whole weighing ceremony and everything.

    3. DataDiva*

      Did you ever do penny wars in school? Everyone brings in spare change for a week/month/whatever. Each department has its own jar. Pennies count as positive and silver counts as negative, so you can put a dime in another department’s jar to counteract 10 of their pennies. I remember it being fun in elementary school, and thinking about it now I’d probably get really into it if we did it in the office!

      1. Amber Rose*

        Pennies don’t exist anymore though! And since 90% of our employees are in one department, it feels like it would be weighted against us. Maybe we could organize teams. xD

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Pennies exist. But you can’t spend them in a vending machine so I’d donate the jar from my bureau at home in a flash.

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          You can do coins versus bills (coins count for you and total up the dollar amount, bills count against you and subtract from the dollar amount (so you put them in other people’s jars)), but I suspect in an office environment that might make everyone’s jars go negative since the average officeworker is much more likely to have a spare $20 they’re willing to throw in a jar than a high school student is, and also be less likely to have a bunch of coins on them.

          Maybe do it by favorite sports team rivalries rather than by work-related teams, if there’s a good sport for that in your neck of the woods. Keeps everyone from ganging up on a work-related unit or team, and the super-competitive people who are likely to get into a penny war are also pretty likely to have a favorite sports team.

      2. Temperance*

        My office did this, and the woman named Penny had the honor of having these stacked at her desk. lol

    4. Liane*

      How about the company lets the employees vote for the charity, with the ballot being a handful of charities the company has vetted–and the COMPANY then makes a donation?

      1. Amber Rose*

        We are voting for the charity next week. Everyone has this week to make suggestions and next week we vote. The company typically matches our donation, but we use the money raising process as “team building” so we can’t skip over that bit.

        1. Kat in VA*

          We have a silent auction at our Christmas party. The directors and execs donate nice, relatively high-dollar items (think things like Ring doorbells, good whiskey, good Scotch, good bourbon…we lean toward alcohol) and people write down their bids on a piece of paper in front of the item. Bidding can get fierce at the end!

    5. Policy Wonk*

      Let people buy an extra day off for $XX, have lunch with the CEO or boss for $YY, sign up for an office day at the movies for $ZZ, wear jeans to work on specific day for $5 – things like that that make sense for your office. Depending on the category, you can either limit the number (four can have lunch with the CEO) or anyone who pays the price (wear jeans) depending on the category.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Raffle off a reserved parking spot for specific periods of time. Parking spots are huge incentives in an employee-initiative program at my facility.

    6. WellRed*

      We’ve done silent auction as well as raffling off stuff. We are a tiny company so last year, our planner im implemented some fun, short games (I actually hate games, but it was fun) that we had to pay $1 to play (think guessing at what the person is drawing, guessing the number of chocolates, Christmas music and movie trivia (please note, we all celebrate Christmas.)

    7. LKW*

      Have you tried Donor’s Choose? Teachers submit requests for financial support for their classrooms (e.g. We need $250 for new books and a reading rug). You could pick a set of similar requests/funds and then every team gives to one.

    8. Aphrodite*

      How about a company Giving Tree, the kind where you choose families/people to give stuff to that they have requested. (I would support a senior one as seniors tend to not ask or if they do, to ask for practical items, but others might prefer families with children or teens.) It could be money but I would be far more inclined to do something like that rather than hand over cash.

      I don’t know if this helps but I wanted to share the idea.

      1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

        A previous company where I worked did this. I always enjoyed taking part.

    9. nonymous*

      Do you have any photographers in the company? You could just do a fundraiser calendar or even “team” t-shirts?

      One thing that used to go over well when I lived in the midwest are those discount coupon/gift cards things. iirc Hy-vee (grocery store) used to do this thing where people could buy gift cards for face value and Hy-vee would donate 5% to the designated charity.

    10. Llellayena*

      The first think that popped into my mind was a holiday money tree. Provide an empty tree, paper clips and ornament hooks and have a “tree decorating” over a week or so. You might be able to find ways to fold dollar bills into ornaments if you want to be fancy (dollar bill origami?). But then someone has to unfold them at the end…

    11. Librarian of SHIELD*

      Can you do something like a mini-carnival at the staff party where people use coins to play the games? Like, penny-can from Cougar Town or other kinds of games, and then all the coins people have used to play the games become the donation?

    12. Anono-me*

      Can you pick three or four Charities and have people vote with money. For example have a tin for Save the Kitties and a tin for Save the Puppies and tin for Save the Humans. And after a week whichever tin has the most money gets all the money.

      Once you pick the charity, you could have ‘Which is better’ tins. For example you can have two donation tins with pictures of Coke vs Pepsi or Apple vs Droid or dogs vs. cats or whatever combination you think of or find on Pinterest. People would vote with their spare change. Each day you could report who had won the previous day and how much money has been raised.

      Another thing you could do is have pictures of what different dollar amounts would fund. For example, a $15 donation =feed a puppy for a month and with a cute picture of a puppy and a bowl of food. Or $100 donation= keep a baby in diapers for a month and a cute picture of a baby in diapers.

  31. Rainy days*

    Rant: my boss, the Board President, makes comments about “women” which aren’t sexual harassment but are so, so, irritating. “Women are better at buying gifts.” “Women love to wear shoes.” I just started reporting to him and the more I interact with him the more I detest him.

    1. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      I hate this trash. There is a dude in my office who will loudly boom “I’ll hold open the door for all of you. Report me to HR if you care! Chivalry is not dead!” The guy who you mention probably also participates in microaggressions like assuming the women in the office should plan all the parties, circulate the cards, order “nice” things for the office – general “female-employees-make-an-office-a-home” assumptions. If you see his words trickling out into patterns like these, or see any of these things in writing, I would start documenting and send up a flag.

      1. Rainy days*

        Yeah, here’s some of our conversations, paraphrased:
        Him at a party for a departing team member: “Where is the gift?”
        Me: “I thought you were buying it.” (The gift was supposed to be from the board, and I am not on the board.)
        Him: “Oh, I thought you were buying it because it’s a woman thing.”
        Me: …
        ———-
        Later:
        Him: “Sorry for the confusion about the gift.”
        Me: “That’s okay, I’m happy to buy it, but I didn’t know you wanted me to.” [I wasn’t happy to do it, but he’s my boss.]
        Him: “I should have had my wife do it.”

        Arghghghghggh.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          My response: “It’s a learned skill, you can pick it up with a little time and thoughtfulness.”

    2. finally october*

      Ugh, that stuff sucks. Sorry you’re dealing with it.

      My dad does it and I just point out to him things like him owning more shoes than I do. (which he does.)

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      “Women love to wear shoes”

      Ah yes, as opposed to men who staunchly go barefoot everywhere.

      1. iglwif*

        lolol

        (I personally don’t particularly like wearing shoes, although I don’t have a death wish so I do wear them when I go out. One of my favorite things about working at home is that I get to spend most of the day in barefoot, or at least in socks.)

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        My first thought as well.

        Also, for the record, I am a woman and the only shoes I actually love to wear are my running shoes because it means I’m running, which is something I love.

      3. tangerineRose*

        I’d want to say “No, I went barefoot a lot as a kid, and at home I still don’t wear shoes.”

    4. OtterB*

      “Really? That hasn’t been my experience” is a low-key way of responding to this kind of junk.

        1. LKW*

          or when he responds with something like “Well my wife is better at gifts than me.” you can always say “Well I suppose every house divides its work differently.” as a casual toss off that no, not everyone behaves as boorishly as you.

    5. Gender-neutral in the making!*

      “Men are great at buying gifts too.” Followed by so many examples he’ll get sick of it.

      I have a male child with long hair that keeps getting mistaken for a girl. I used to say “he’s a boy” but the generic, “You know, boys can have long hair too” seems to work so much better, at least in our case.

      With my own parents, bless their hearts, I had to deal with things as child looking at a pink or red item at a store and them saying: “Don’t look at that one, that’s for girls”. No, Ma, boys can wear pink too.

      Don’t get me going on the censorship I do on so many stories we read to make them gender-neutral. “John wanted to get a car as his Christmas present, and his sister wanted a doll.” [Me, pause & frown – That’s funny, girls often like to play with cars and boys with dolls.]

      Here’s to hoping my child won’t say stupid things like your boss does when he’s older!

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        No reason not to go with some light editing! I seem to recall a story floating around the internet from a parent who was reading their child The Hobbit, and the child decided that Bilbo ought to be a girl — so the parent went ahead and read the story with the gender swap. The legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien was certainly not harmed, and giving kids something better than what the past has given us is no bad thing.

    6. Joielle*

      UGH that sounds so irritating. I know you’re not necessarily asking for advice, but I’d be tempted to treat that kind of statement as if he’d said “I personally am bad at [thing]” like:

      “Women love to wear shoes.”
      “Aw, I bet you could pick out nice shoes too.”

      “Women are better at buying gifts.”
      “I bet you could find a gift guide online! There are tons of ideas these days.”

      Probably don’t actually do that, you run the risk of getting sucked further into these crappy conversations… but who knows, maybe he would get sick of the advice and stop.

      1. WellRed*

        “Women love to wear shoes.”

        “I actually prefer to go barefoot but OSHA frowns on that in offices.”

        1. Teapot Compliance*

          As long as they meet ANSI or ASTM standards. Stop buying safety shoes from Wish and Amazon people!

      2. Jules the 3rd*

        Oh, no, do that! It’s a good way to build rapport / have a conversation with your boss while *also* pushing back on his sexism.

    7. Asking for a friend...*

      My manager does this alllllll the time. A coworker brought her baby girl in to visit, and the baby took a liking to my manager. He: “Ah, she’s like all women, she can smell money.”
      Like, ew?? She’s a little baby! It has gotten to the extent that whenever he calls “Good morning ladies!” to me and my coworker, it profoundly irritates me. Cf my BEC question above lol

    8. YetAnotherUsername*

      The “women love to wear shoes” comment is just hilarious!

      Does he know a lot of barefoot men?

  32. ContemporaryIssued*

    Coffee milk problem! I am in charge of office supplies, which includes coffee and milk, perks of the office. We order half-and-half lactose-free milk and a less fatty, skim milk with lactose. Now one person asked me if we might experiment buying oat milk for the vegans and those trying to cut down on milk usage for environmental reasons. The company we order from has it so I shrugged and ordered it and a lot of people have been using it.

    But now we’re buying THREE different milks and it seems a bit excessive. I tried to do a survey on the lactose free vs skim milk last spring but the votes were literally 50-50 as to which people preferred and some people even wrote “continue buying both”. I don’t actually have a budget for office supplies so I just order whatever is asked, within reason.

    Is it fine so long as everybody’s happy? Should I be trying to consolidate milk purchasing to two types instead of three? I just feel like the more milks we are getting, the more I need to be on top of what’s running out.

    1. The cow goes Moo- ahem - ooo*

      1. Continue doing it because someone will always want the latest greatest. So realize today its vegan oats and tomorrow its something else.

      2. Everyone brings their own milk supplies, label them, and every 2 weeks, if they’re still in the fridge, throw them out. Milk isn’t a perk – it’s a preference.

      3. What’s next – three sugars, four sweeteners, five coffee types?

      1. Graphique Gresigner*

        Wow. Your No. 1 option is super condescending. FYI some people go vegan for health reasons, others for political reasons, yet others because they want to minimise their impact on our planet. Some for all three plus other reasons. It’s more work than being an omnivore and it definitely isn’t any shade of a latest greatest/faddy or fly-by-night option. Thank you for your time.

        1. LKW*

          I don’t think that was the intent. It was just that a few years ago it would have been soy milk. Then almond milk. Now it’s oat milk. In the future it could be cockaroach milk (No kidding -it’s a thing). So if the vegans agree on oat milk, great. If they decide almond milk later… ok while recognizing they may want something else later.

          1. Approval is optional*

            Why single out the vegans? A few years ago it was full fat milk, now it’s low fat, in the future it might be artificial fat. A few years ago it was just plain old cows milk, now it’s A2 milk, in the future – who knows. And ‘latest greatest’ is fairly pejorative IMO, so I think the intent was to have a dig at people who choose vegan options.
            And I doubt many vegans will be looking to replace anything with cockroach milk (what with them being living creatures and all).

            1. anon9*

              How are they being singled out? How is “latest greatest” pejorative? Milk alternatives are constantly evolving as more people move away from cow’s milk – it was soy, then almond and now oat is big. Maybe rice milk will see mainstream popularity in the future. This same flux hasn’t happened with cow milk at all – full-fat milk is just now re-gaining popularity and skim/low-fat milks have always been stable (now on the decline though). Most people just aren’t that particular about their cow milk because very few can tell the difference between them. Mentioning A2 milk doesn’t make sense – it’s just so niche.

              Either way, the ‘cow goes Moo- ahem – ooo*’s comment’s #1 could apply to milk drinkers as well. They are just suggesting OP be flexible as people’s tastes are always evolving. As you said, the milk-drinkers might all move onto ultra-filtered milk (low sugar milk) instead of skim or low fat. I imagine you are objecting to the “vegan oats” example but they are just responding to the new request in OP’s post…which was oat milk. I don’t think this was an attack on vegans or veganism.

      2. nacho*

        My office does have 2 sugars, 4 different flavors of sweetener, dairy and non-dairy creamer, and 3 coffee types. It’s not a big deal to buy what people want in order to make them happy, especially when all they want is a $3 bottle of flavored coffee sweetener.

        1. Kat in VA*

          Eeesh, for the Keurig we have: five regular and three decaf coffee types, four different espressos (two regular, two decaf), green tea, black tea, powdered and single serve liquid creamers in both regular and french vanilla for each, four different chemical sweeteners, regular sugar, and raw sugar.

    2. Schnoodle HR*

      How many people in the office? The answer would chagne on that. If we’re talking a dozen people…sheesh…but if you have 50 people…I’d continue with 3 milks.

      1. ContemporaryIssued*

        50 and growing! I guess it’s not that bad. People do love their coffee in this office. We have three pots drunk within the first hour.

    3. finally october*

      Is there any way to do a short term tracking of how frequently things run out (which you probably already have in your records) and then automate the ordering so you’re always getting cow milk every week, almond milk every two weeks, etc? and then if things start piling up in the fridge, canceling the recurrence? That way it’s more hands-off and not something you have to do, and can just add any more milk preferences to the list?

    4. Reba*

      I get that it makes a little more for you to manage… But you were already checking the levels on the dairy milks, right? And the lactose-free milk is due to people’s medical-dietary needs. I get that oat milk is trendy but avoiding dairy consumption, whether for veganism, cholesterol, or preference, is just as legitimate a dietary need.

      I really don’t think this is excessive or a problem.

      You can look at it as a small way your workplace is being accommodating to diversity and health needs.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Man, I got real excited that this was gonna be about the Rhode Island state drink for a moment there. Mm, coffee milk…

      But on topic, I think comparing the lactose-free to regular milk might have been not quite addressing the concern head on? It seems to me like non-dairy milk and lactose-free milk might be the better consolidation, if a consolidation is needed. But I also think that as long as you aren’t running over budget and haven’t been told to consolidate your milk offerings, it can’t hurt that much to go with the three options. I don’t see how checking the levels of 2 supplies rather than 3 would make an enormous difference in your life, although I could see it getting iffy if you wind up ballooning to half a dozen or more.

      It sounds to me like not having a budget isn’t helpful for you, because you don’t have a firm sense of what your limits actually are. “Within reason” can be usefully flexible, but can also be a frustrating lack of structure or expectations. Who determines what isn’t within reason? How answerable are you for your choices?

      1. Liane*

        I’d say do the just vegan and lactose-free milks. Milk treated with the lactase enzyme also last longer than regular milk, IME, around a month, So this would cut down waste over milk going bad.

        1. Approval is optional*

          I thought half and half was very different to skim milk. We don’t do half and half here so I’m prepared to be wrong though.

          1. WellRed*

            no, you’re right, half and half is way different than skim. As someone who likes half and half in my coffee, I can see I’d be bringing in my own.

          2. Natalie*

            I don’t think they are buying half-and-half, as in milk and cream mixed together, it seems to be referring to the proportions of the two different kinds of milk they’re buying.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              Half-and-half lactose free milk is milk and cream mixed together, but with a lactose enzyme added to it to break down the lactose so as not to upset stomachs.

              Skim milk is milk that’s had all its fat removed, hence why it’s so disgustingly watery in coffee.

              OP, if you think the three milks are too much, and if the people who don’t have specific dietary restrictions generally don’t care what kind of creamer they have in their coffee, I’d keep ordering the half-and-half and the oat milk.

              1. Natalie*

                I’ve never heard anyone refer to half-and-half the dairy product as “half-and-half milk”, and the OP keeps referring to it as milk, hence my guess that they were talking about proportion. Unless you’re the OP, you’re just guessing too, so I’m not sure what’s up with the unnecessary and condescending milk lecture.

              2. ContemporaryIssued*

                I’m not American so I only used half-and-half as an indication of fat content! The lactose-free milk is more fatty than the skim milk. I now did some googling and realized I should’ve used “whole milk” since that’s a more accurate term to use for the fat percentage. I’ve been to the US and I always used half-and-half at coffee shops because it tasted delicious.

                You are right, though, the milks with dietary restrictions, not just preferences, should get priority. I will see if anybody reacts when skim milk runs out.

    6. Approval is optional*

      If people are using all three I’d keep ordering them. The 3 you order would seem to be too ‘different’ to consolidate into 2. If they’re all stored in the same place, I don’t think it should make much difference to the monitoring time. once people settle into their milk preference it might well fall into a schedule anyway. That doesn’t mean you have to add every additional product requested going forward of course, especially if they are pretty much the same as those you already order (eg one type of non-animal milk should be enough).

    7. Venus*

      If it is being used then I think it’s not unreasonable. The problem seems to be the ordering if one of them runs out, so maybe you could get them to be more proactive? Post something on the fridge which says “When the container is less than 1/4 full, please make a note of it on this sheet so that I can order it”, that way you aren’t always checking?

    8. Bree*

      Unless you’ve been told to cut back on the milk spend or notice an excessive amount going to waste, just keep getting all three. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make people happy, which is a win.

      If you did have to cut back, you could get like, a 2% lactose-free milk, which seems like a halfway point. Also, I just think lactose-free milk tastes a bit better?

    9. Policy Wonk*

      Do you ever have to throw any out because it has gone bad? If so, stop buying that kind. Otherwise buy all three, as it sounds like people are using them.

    10. SomebodyElse*

      I would continue to do it… but the next request for something different then becomes
      “Sure we can order that but we’ll need to stop ordering one of the current ones, I’ll send out an survey and we’ll go with the top 3 choices.”

      If they balk, then remind them they are welcome to bring in their specialty milks on their own.

    11. zora*

      Do you really need to consolidate?
      Our office only has about 25 people and I think there are 5 different milks in the fridge right now.
      I think it’s a small thing (budget wise) that makes people feel more appreciated at work, that they can have the milk they want in their coffee. And people have different preferences and even physical reasons to need different milks.

      But also could you delegate the ‘being on top of’ part of it? Could you spread the word that people should come to you when their preferred milk is getting low, send you an email or something? That way you aren’t taking on extra work, but everyone gets their little perk of different milks.

      Just for comparison, we currently stock half and half (cow), whole milk (cow), oat milk, almond milk, soy milk.

    12. Aggretsuko*

      As long as there’s no budget issue, this is not worth arguing about. Keep the peace and order all the milks.

    13. Fikly*

      Is any of the milk or “milk” spoiling before it’s used up? If not, I don’t see the problem.

    14. Fikly*

      Also, I couldn’t drink any of the milks you mentioned. I don’t expect an office to provide me with milk I can safely drink, but I would be super pleased if they did, and feel cared for and thought of.

      1. Fortitude Jones*

        This is why every office I’ve ever worked in has only provided non-dairy creamers. It’s too complicated to figure out who has allergies or are intolerant, who’s vegan, who’s trying to lose weight, etc. and what individual milks they would need to accommodate these restrictions.

        OP, if the milk thing becomes unwieldy in the future, I’d switch to purchasing non-dairy creamers and sending out an email letting people know they could bring in their own milks if they want that instead.

        1. CDM*

          And both the sweetener in liquid non dairy creamer and the hydrogenated oil in powdered non dairy creamer are problematic for health reasons for many people.

  33. Alice*

    I told my manager that to ensure a smooth transition I wanted to take several days and document a system I’ve created from scratch over the past 3 years. Nobody in the company ever learned how too use it and I never documented it before as all my spare time went into maintenance. I repeatedly asked them to hire someone I could train, as it’s bad to have only me in this role, but I was refused and none of my coworkers have the necessary technical skills.

    Anyway. I figured that since I’m leaving they’d want me to leave behind instructions… right?! Wrong. My manager, verbatim, told me I’m “focusing on the wrong priorities” and to work on deliverables for my last month. My coworkers are horrified. I’m working on deliverables and my notice period can’t be over soon enough.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      That sucks, but fortunately in a little bit it won’t be your problem!

      Be sure to have an exorbitant fee in mind for when they contact you for training after you leave ;-)

      1. Alice*

        Yeah, they will call. No amount of money could entice me. I plan to tell them I’m too busy with my new job and block them if they get aggressive.

        1. A Simple Narwhal*

          Smart! I definitely second what everyone else has said about sending the “just to confirm, here’s how I’m spending my remaining time aka not documenting this system” message, I think it couldn’t hurt to add a “fyi I will not be available for calls/training regarding it after my last day” to really drive it home.

          Though that does sound aggressive/antagonistic now that I type it out, maybe it could be softened a bit with something more like “…as a heads up, with my new schedule I don’t anticipate being available for training once I leave”. But you’ll know your audience best!

          Oh and congrats and good luck with the new job!

    2. Kes*

      That’s ridiculous. I would probably send an email documenting the priorities (“As you have requested, I am focusing on deliverables X, Y and Z and as such will not have time to document system S”), even though it probably won’t do anything, just to cover you just in case others find out and panic

      Otherwise, I agree there’s not much you can do but wait out your time and get out of there

      1. Alice*

        Oh, everyone already knows! The bit about me “focusing on the wrong priorities” was said at an office-wide meeting, that’s why the coworkers are freaking out. But you’re right I should shoot an email with a few key people cc’d in, just in case. I will try to document as much as possible in the time I’ve left, but it is what it is.

        1. Dittany*

          They called you out about that in an office-wide meeting? Holy hell, I’m glad you’re getting out.

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I’d get that in writing if possible, and then forward it to someone else. But I’m kinda petty sometimes.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      My company told me they didn’t need a website manager and a year later they’re contacting me wondering why their websites are down.
      Seriously not your monkeys and not your circus.

    5. Consultant Catie*

      If you’d be willing, I wonder if you could put together an email to send on your last day laying out your consulting fee to document the system. In other posts, Allison has recommended doubling your hourly salary rate to find your hourly consulting price. You may not have the time, but this way you can make a good faith effort, potentially make some extra money, and then leave the ball in their court. Your current manager might not realize how important the system is until you’re gone.

  34. Holy Moley Artichokey*

    How do I tell my colleagues that I’m leaving the field because of sexism and harassment? I’ve been in this field for about ten years, and every year I’ve been harassed, everything from lewd comments to getting cornered by creepers when the building was empty to actual assault. I report the harassment every time it felt safe to do so, but of course my complaints were never acted on. This has happened at multiple institutions. I eventually developed debilitating PTSD. When I requested disability accommodations for the PTSD, I was retaliated against. Reported the retaliation, nothing happened.

    There is nothing else for me to try, so as much as I love this field and as much as my work is valued, it’s time to go.

    What do I tell my work colleagues? Most of them are unaware of how bad everything has been for me, and plus, there’s this attitude that you suffer through the bad working conditions because you’re MAKING A DIFFERENCE and maybe you’ll get to be in a position to change things someday, so I’m going to come across like that kid saying the emperor has no clothes.

    1. finally october*

      If you have good relationships with them, I’d tell them. Not in groups, but just one on one if they ask you. There’s a quote from Douglas Adams, I believe, that it’s possible to sit on something for years without having an opinion on what you’re sitting on, but it’s impossible to be sat on without getting an opinion about the ones doing it. These guys who don’t realize what’s going on or that their lives and careers are built on the absence of women who have been systematically harassed out of their field… they should know what’s going on. But only if you feel it’s safe to tell them.

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Exact quote:
        “It is difficult to be sat on all day, every day, by some other creature, without forming an opinion on them.
        On the other hand, it is perfectly possible to sit all day, every day, on top of another creature and not have the slightest thought about them whatsoever.”
        ― Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

        1. Filosofickle*

          I miss Douglas Adams! His books were such an important part of my growing-up years…funny and true and poignant. *goes off to find copies and re-read*

        2. YetAnotherUsername*

          It was about a horse I think.

          I miss Douglas Adams. I really didn’t like the TV show of dirk gently. I am going to start good omens soon and I really hope it’s good.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I liked Good Omens! It was fun. I gave up on the Dirk Gently adaptation, it was…not fun.

    2. Dove*

      I’d go with some variation of…being utterly blunt about it, honestly. “I love this field and I wish I could stay, but the ongoing sexism and harassment is destroying my health and I need to leave for my own sake.”

      There will be people who try and convince you that it’s not that bad, or that you can change things if you stay just a little longer.

      Ignore them. Tell them, to their faces, if you feel up to it, that it is that bad for you (it’s given you PTSD for cryin’ out loud!) and that you have been retaliated against previously for trying to get things changed or for even requesting accommodations because of the health issues this has caused for you. “Staying isn’t an option. Ten years of hoping that this will be the year it starts getting better is ten too many.”

      That might not be something you want to do, though. But…well. Maybe being slapped with the wet haddock of “DETERMINATION is not enough to endure bad working conditions, and the institution does not care about Artichokey’s valuable work enough to actually do anything to keep them” will change things.
      If it doesn’t, you’re still getting out.

    3. Reba*

      I’d tell them exactly this — once you’re on the exit ramp. Let them know you are saddened that your contributions are not valued, and that tour field as a whole is being held back due to systematically denying itself access to the potential of women workers.

      It sounds like you are already ready for less than great reactions. But I’d hope that it would be satisfying to tell the truth, even so.

      Maybe share with them the reporting on the Salk institute, or if there has been coverage on your own industry– ask them to read it and say, this happened to me, too.

      Consider talking with a journalist on this beat?

      I’m so sorry. Best wishes with your search.

  35. Ventypus*

    Today hasn’t been fun. My boss’s version of telling me to take more ownership of something is basically ignoring my updates/questions and waiting for me to handle it myself. To be clear, I would have no problem handling it myself, but I don’t have full ownership of this project and she knows it. And if she wants me to take more ownership of the project than there should be an actual conversation around how to make that feasible. But, unfortunately, there’s no time to have an acutal conversation about it because she’s always in meetings. And today she’s off-site. Sooooo…. I vent.

    1. Kelly*

      I think we have/had the same boss. I left the job so she’s no longer my problem, but I can empathize. Totally frustrating!!

  36. Operation Glowing Symphony*

    It’s my first day of unemployment.

    I quit last week and yesterday was my last day. During that time my Ex Director and immediate boss, Dev Director, didn’t talk to me except requisite staff meetings. Although the ED did stop by my desk last week (day after my resignation) to say that she’s sorry about how it went down and she wishes me luck on my future ventures. Yesterday, the DD stopped by, on her way out to say, ‘Goodbye. It’s been nice working with you.” Really?

    At the end of day, yesterday, they weren’t even there when I left the office! My coworkers were there and didn’t know what I needed to do (shrugs all around) so I found something that looked like a nominal out-processing sheet, taped my door key to it, left my log-on name, put my name tag on it (magnetic) and put it on her desk. (big shrug).

    This alone is evidence of the risk management issues that have propelled me to leave, not to mention the instability and disorganization that runs rampant through here.

    Good news – my coworker will give her notice next week, only to leave a week later to start her job while our non-profit is hosting a large annual fundraiser at the end of the month (cue their stress factor on high!)

    I have penned a concise and highly referenced Letter of Concern to our Board President outlining all the ways our non-profit is risking its financials and reputation through various oversights and lack of risk management. None of it is unknown to my ED if the letter makes it back to her. I’m not the only staff member who has written to the Board about such things, after their departure. But I’m not sure if I’ll send it – would you?

    Our new Program Director is also on the hunt for a new job. That’s a confirmed (4) employees gone in three months and a possible (5) employees gone by the end of the year….

    1. Dove*

      I’d send it. If nothing else, it provides a paper trail that the Board President *knew* (or should have known) that these issues existed and needed addressing if things eventually implode.

      1. Operation Glowing Symphony*

        That makes complete sense. It seems to be perpetuating the problem by withholding. I can only tell them the facts, as I experienced and processed them. It’s up to them to determine the next step. I only ask that the next step be that the board talk with the ED about how we currently manage risk and what we can do to evaluate for future threats.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          You mean what they can do to evaluate future threats – you don’t work there anymore. You need to remember that so you don’t get too attached to the outcome should you choose to send the letter – and I think you should, then mentally move on from this place so you can find something better.

          1. Operation Glowing Symphony*

            Please realize I’m less than 24 hours from departing from the organization. My use of pronouns is may still err on being part of the team. I know I’ll never know their decision.

    2. Bree*

      It sounds like you are unlikely to use these people as references anyway, so I’d send it.

      I did something similar once, and the Board Chair called me to get more detail about my concerns, and then asked me to join the board. I declined, but they did fire the ED a few months later.

    3. Kes*

      Personally I wouldn’t, since it’s a risk, burns a bridge, and there’s not much benefit to you other than making you feel better. If other people have written the board presumably isn’t ignorant, but just hasn’t done anything about it, so whether they’ll actually do anything on receiving your letter is uncertain.
      It’s your call though – my only question would be whether you may at any point want or need a reference from them, in which case I really wouldn’t risk it

      1. WellRed*

        But it’s a nonprofit, isn’t there a benefit (to others) ensuring money/resources are used wisely?

      2. Operation Glowing Symphony*

        Worthy concerns. I was there a year and I have (2) qualified references that I can use. Reality, I didn’t do that much with the organization due to all the disruptions and changes, I don’t have to put it on my resume and all I have to do is explain the 10 mos gap, as I was finishing up 3-mos of a contract when I was hired on.

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      LOL – yes, I sent it, when I was in a similar position 20 years ago. The board’s your only recourse, sometimes, and sometimes even they fail you.

      Net on mine? They kept an eye on the person I documented, fired her for embezzlement about a year after I left. That felt *good*.

  37. Anonymous Educator*

    The culture of my department is to gather everyone to go to lunch and then decide where to go, and we all go as a big group. Nothing really horrible happens in these large groups—I just prefer a more intimate dining dynamic. I have occasionally had the opportunity to have one-on-one lunches with some of these folks when the timing just works out that way, and they’re terrific one on one to dine with. I just don’t dig the large groups. Honestly, sometimes I’ll just eat lunch by myself (which I don’t mind) instead of going with the group. Not trying to be anti-social… just don’t like that particular dynamic.

    Does anybody else not like going to lunch in large groups with co-workers?

    1. Chronic Overthinker*

      I’d love to be able to have that choice! Being in the position I am I stagger my lunch break with the other employees so there’s phone coverage. But honestly I like the time alone to just destress/unwind.

      I do understand your dilemma though. I’m sure no one takes offense that you don’t participate all the time. If anything you can make an excuse that you need to run an errand or something. I too prefer smaller groups than a large outing.

    2. Birch*

      I just posted a related situation! I hate these even when I’m on the best of terms with people. Huge groups are loud, you never get a say in the restaurant, they take forever, they’re stressful for a variety of reasons! You are definitely not alone. And you’re totally within reason to want some alone time or a more relaxing atmosphere at lunch!

    3. Jamie*

      I would hate that, and I’m sure the restaurants you guys chose last minute don’t love it either.

      I’ve worked in a huge metro area and now a little more out but none of the restaurants I’ve been to are empty enough at lunch to accommodate a large group on no notice.

      But I’m focusing on the wrong thing…it’s not anti social to prefer to eat alone or in smaller groups so if it won’t hurt you professionally I’d just decline.