open thread – November 15-16, 2019

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

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

{ 1,961 comments… read them below }

  1. Pants on Fire*

    Is lying bad?
    I have an employee whose performance has been unsatisfactory for a while (Jim). Poor time management, errors in tasks, forgetting to do tasks, not understanding processes he has done for eight years. A lot of this is something a manager can help with, but this employee has been here longer than me and should be a subject matter expert in his work. Therefore, he has pushed back on any suggestion, example or clearly communicated statement that what he is doing is not working and he isn’t doing as well as he should be. 
    Once we started going through the our company’s performance management process, I think the employee has really made good strides. Except, one area of his performance continues to suffer. This employee is not honest with me. He continues to give me half truths, omit critical information that would indicate he has made a mistake, say one thing and when pressed, say something different with no acknowledgement that he is contradicting himself. When I follow-up, he has no answer for the inconsistency. He’s told me things that our IT team has looked into and been unable to substantiate. Jim and I have worked together for a while and this has been a pattern for the whole time we have worked together. I used to believe there were simple mistakes but given the length of time, the frequency with which they happen and that they are pointed out to him, and his improvement in other areas, I see this as being purposefully untruthful. 
    The management above me is pleased that Jim seems to be turning it around. And he is, except he still frequently does not give me the whole story. I don’t want to work closely with someone I can’t trust to communicate the truth to me. I am sensing that management feels like because he has made strides in all other areas, this isn’t a big deal. Am I being unreasonable?
    TL;DR I have an employee on a PIP and he has greatly improved his work but he still frequently lies to me. Is is reasonable to want him gone because of that?

    1. Just Elle*

      To me lying is a deal breaker. It doesn’t matter if you’re a star performer, if I can’t trust you, it negates any positive traits.

    2. Sleepy*

      Yes, lying is unacceptable. It’s totally reasonable to want him gone. Most people don’t lie about these things, so you should easily be able to replace him with someone who is as good a worker and also honest.

    3. somanyquestions*

      Trust is important. I wouldn’t want to work with someone like that. How can you ever know what’s going on or what they’re really doing?

    4. voyager1*

      Lying too me is a really big deal. You are just catching probably half the stuff he is lying about. I would have a frank conversation about how is lack of truthfulness means you can trust him and that means he really can’t move up in the company or be given more responsibility. Sadly once the trust is gone, one really can’t earn it back. I have a manager who lies, really makes me question everything she says.

      If you think your management will support you, try and push him out the door.

    5. MissGirl*

      I suspect you already know the answer that this is a big problem. The better question is what is holding you back from taking action. Are you worried the leadership won’t support you? Are uncomfortable firing someone when they’re improving in some areas? Are you nervous about firing someone? Have you not straight up called him out on his lying?

      Good luck. This isn’t an easy job.

      1. Kendra*

        This; if you haven’t been absolutely clear to him that you know he’s lying and he needs to stop, do that. It won’t be a comfortable conversation, but it’s going to be a very revealing one, and if it doesn’t inspire an immediate change in his behavior, it’s time to say goodbye.

        1. 2Teas*

          Would your recommendation to be upfront about his lying if you are just coworkers or you are in a lower position than the liar?

    6. Adlib*

      Yes, it is reasonable. As Alison addressed in another post this week, lies at work are a BIG deal. He should probably be gone yesterday.

    7. LadyByTheLake*

      I assume that this is a rhetorical question. Of course an employee who consistently and knowingly provides incorrect information is a problem and should be let go.

    8. Pants on Fire*

      It IS a big deal to me… but I’m feeling subtle push-back from management because they get excited when I mention he is doing other things a lot better. When I remind them that he is still frequently lying, they say “Oh, but he’s doing better in the other areas? That’s good to see!” which makes me feel like they don’t share my desire to not work with someone who isn’t truthful.

      We’ve had the frank conversations that these things come off as deceitful, dishonest, lying… all the harsh words to let him know this isn’t a simple mistake. But the industry I am in has some strong rules and steps to follow before firing. And employee is not at-will (I think I’m using that correctly). So it’s taking some time.

      1. Amy*

        The lying is a big deal. They just don’t have to deal with it. When they get excited about his unrelated progress, I’d start asking them “Do you want to work with an employee who lies to you constantly?” “Would you be alright if I constantly deceived you and misled you about my work?” “What does legal say about entrusting information to an employee with known ethical problems?” “If he cannot stop being a habitual liar about work, I cannot trust him to work for me. Can we explore transferring him to work under you since you’re okay with the lying and deception?”

      2. HollyWeird*

        I had a very similar issue in the past. Employee would frequently lie about things such as project status, that he was in the office when he was not, that he executed a project when it was done by someone else, etc. He was also on a PIP and the sentiment was also the same here that they did not want to fire him but wanted me to somehow manage him out of lying/stack PIP on top of PIP. In his case, there were some allowances for this behavior due to some personal tragedies that had occurred. Eventually he quit and it came to light that what we knew about was only the tip of the iceberg and a major ethical breach had been committed. Unfortunately I do not have a lot of advice for you on this front but I would point out the management that while he is improving, you have noted X amount of circumstances where he was untruthful and that it is almost certainly only the tip of the iceberg. Documentation of these incidences could be helpful.

      3. Elizabeth*

        I think you need to point management to the business problems his lying has caused or could cause.

        For example:

        Lying means we don’t have accurate info about x, which can cause y problems, leading to z negative impact to company/clients.

        Given the frequency of lies we actually KNOW about, the risk is quite high that this will actually cause harm to our business (ie this isn’t a one time lie – it’s ongoing, so the risk is ongoing); plus, it’s possible that what we know is only the tip of the iceberg, which means the problem could be even bigger than we realize now.

        In addition, since we know about the pattern of lies and aren’t addressing it, if posed a serious risk/liability for the company – if something goes very wrong, it’s our fault because we knew he was lying.

        Lying violates our company’s ethical policies; to continue to employ someone who is a known serial liar puts us in noncompliance with our own policies and send a terrible message not just to other employees, but also to clients (how can clients trust us if we are fine with employing known serial liars?)

        Etc

      4. Perbie*

        You should probably be careful to communicate your assessment with your management. It should be “he has not improved enough to keep him; he is still too inaccurate / untruthful” not “he’s doing a lot better except this one thing!” – basically make it clear he’s still not improved enough.

        1. BethDH*

          I get the sense that management is hearing “he’s improved on 9 things out of 10” and really the lying cuts through it all so it’s that he’s really only made fringe improvements (like when my students think fixing the grammatical mistakes means they’ve now written a good paper!).
          So OP can’t frame it as “he’s improved but …”
          It will help if the PIP or other performance review and discussions center clarity and integrity. I feel like those often get left out because they are hard to talk about and hard to measure or judge objectively.

      5. Lying is not...*

        I feel your pain.
        First of all, I hear your optimism about “improvement”
        Improvement would include “not lying” This employee has not improved. I was in a similar situation with regards to not having the authority to “let go” this employee. It can be done. Document. Investigate. Meet with the employee to set out clear documentable expectations.
        On this date you said this. Upon investigation, I discovered this was not true. Do you have anything to say now. Write down what the employee says. Restate the truth. Write that down.
        Rinse, repeat.
        My employee was let go after a year and half of this.
        It was painful and exhausting.
        Now I have a team I trust and who exceed expectations. It can be done.

    9. Quinalla*

      Have you had a frank conversation with him about it, calling it out as lies and a trust issue? If you haven’t done that yet, I would, make it an official part of his PIP and see if he improves. Sounds like he’s gotten in the habit of lying to minimize his mistakes, etc.

      If you have already done this and he’s not improving, then yes you should fire him, but make sure you are covered with support from your leadership and it is documented in his PIP. How can you trust someone that you know lies consistently?

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If you feel you need to try with him, maybe you can call it a communication problem he needs to fix, and call him out on its impact? “Jim, when you told me the toner was out, I went to load more, and it was full. I need you to be clearer, as I had to clean up some toner, which you know is very messy and time consuming. If we keep running into communication issues like this, we’ll need to put you on a PIP.”

    11. Jedi Squirrel*

      Lying reflects a lack of integrity. And if he doesn’t have integrity about the truth, he probably doesn’t have integrity in other areas. This is a HUGE issue. You can’t fix things you don’t have the complete truth about.

    12. pally*

      Yes, lying is a deal-breaker.
      But, why does he feel the need to lie to you? Could the company rules be reasons for him to feel it necessary to lie?

      1. Lilysparrow*

        He feels the need to lie because he won’t admit when he made a mistake. That isn’t something the company did to him. If he has a psychological need to lie, that isn’t his employer’s problem, and it isn’t something they should tolerate.

        Particularly since OP demonstrated willingness to work with him to help improve his performance.

        1. irene adler*

          Okay -so he’s protecting his ego. That’s something he will have to come to terms with. Nothing anyone can do to change this. Let him suffer the full consequences of his lying ways.

    13. Mediamaven*

      Lying is a very very big deal because it leads to many other behaviors. It should be taken very seriously.

    14. Troutwaxer*

      I agree with most of the people above that lying is a deal-breaker, but I’d ask you a question before you think of firing him; how do you react to bad news?

        1. Zona the Great*

          I think Troutwaxer is wondering if you are approachable and reasonable yourself or if you somehow make Jim feel like he has to lie to avoid trouble or yelling or some other dramatic response. A good suggestion to keep in mind even if the end result is the same–you need him to be honest.

          I lied to my parents because they beat me when they found out I broke something, for example.

          1. Pants on Fire*

            Oh… Jim is generally a bit manipulative. He tells other half truths to his coworkers about work and non-work items in an attempt to garner sympathy. So I don’t believe it is me.

            I do think the stress of the PIP has him scared to mess up, but lying to cover up that you’ve made a mistake won’t get you anything I think.

            1. Minocho*

              I would state that clearly to him. I made a huge mistake at work once. It was going to cause other teams to do extra work to correct, if it was correctable at all. As soon as I realized what I had done, I went to my boss. First we focused on correcting the issue, then he had a meeting with me where we went over what happened, and how I could avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

              One thing he said to me in that second meeting was very important. “If you had delayed coming to me, or had tried to hide what you had done, you would have been fired. Everyone makes mistakes – the important thing is to the fix the problem when a mistake happens. But lying or blaming someone else can’t be tolerated on my team.”

              I was mortified by my error and was triply careful after that mistake. But I also knew that my honesty and integrity and professionalism were appreciated and noted – and I would come forward with any mistakes I made again. I also realized that if someone didn’t have that attitude, they were probably someone I wouldn’t want to work under anyway, going forward.

          2. Lilysparrow*

            Um…Jim isn’t a child. He’s a grownup with a job. OP isn’t his parent, and they aren’t beating him.

            OP is his manager – who needs to know when he’s made an error, and that he’s taking steps to correct it.

            He’s on a PIP because his performance is poor. If he continues making significant errors, his job is in jeopardy. OP can’t help him improve his performance if he covers his errors.

      1. Alice's Rabbit*

        You make a good point. What’s more, even if OP is fine in this regard, if Jim was previously in an abusive relationship of some sort (parent, sibling, long-time friend, romantic partner, etc.) he might have developed this habit as a matter of self-preservation.
        In that case, addressing the problem might need to involve some patience. Yes, tell Jim what’s happening and why it’s a problem. But then give him some time to break the habit. Call him out each time you catch it, and encourage him to call himself out. Don’t get mad about it, because that will only make him double down. Make sure to remind him that you are determined to help him, not to punish him.
        If he won’t admit there’s a problem, or if there has been no improvement – not perfection, but at least stopping and correcting himself – in a few months, then you can’t help at this point in time. But it is worth trying.

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

      Unless your just tracking his truthfulness just to track it and it really isn’t impacting the work getting done, then having to double check everything he tells you and pulling in IT or others is something management needs to see as a problem — it isn’t just lying is bad manners/unethical or whatever. If management needs a metric to see how Jim’s poor performance is impacting the office, that’s one to use. How much time are you wasting having to track down the truth in order to keep the work moving?

    16. Madeleine Matilda*

      “He continues to give me half truths, omit critical information that would indicate he has made a mistake, say one thing and when pressed, say something different with no acknowledgement that he is contradicting himself.”

      If he is omitting information is it because he doesn’t understand how to determine what needs to be communicated to you? What kind of half truths is he telling? He may be doing this to cover the fact that he still needs to improve in certain areas. I think it would be worth pointing out his half truths, changing facts, etc., to him and to clearly let him know that these things are indications that he still needs to improve in the areas that he is falsely communicating about. You could also let your management know that while he is making some improvements, there are still areas that need work and use these communication problems to highlight those areas.

      1. Pants on Fire*

        Here’s an example…
        Jim: Hi, can you help me troubleshoot this process I set up? It is putting the teapot handle on the top of the teapot instead of on the side and I can’t figure out why.
        Me: Ok, I see that there are 3 documents that indicate where the handle should be placed. Can you send me the documents for each of those so I can see them?
        Jim: sends process 1
        Me: That is putting the teapot handle on the side, so I think it’s not that one. What about the others?
        Jim: sends process 2
        Me: That is putting the teapot handle on the side, so I think it’s not that one. What about the last one?
        Jim: *after a delay in which he changed the document of process 3 to indicate the handle goes on the side when it had said the handle goes on the top* sends me process 3 that says handle goes on the side. Jim doesn’t mention that he just made the update.

        So he is asking me for help with a legitimate issue, the handle is being put on the top!, but the issue is that he indicated the handle should be on the top, found his mistake, didn’t say anything, and continued to ask me for help… I had to log into a protected server to get the documents and I’m not in there usually, so that’s why I asked Jim originally. When I went in there myself and worked with IT to see the versions of the documents, I can see that he made the change to the process 3 document two minutes after I asked about it. Then sent that one to me instead of the one that had been in there.

        When I told him what I knew, he told me was confused.

        1. Joielle*

          So he’s lying AND gaslighting you about it? I don’t believe for a second that he was confused about the situation. That sounds like a serious red flag to me!

          1. Just Elle*

            Yep, seriously. I’d think evidence of this one occurrence, especially when already on a PIP, is grounds enough for a firing.

            1. Artemesia*

              This. Changing documents and lying about it while on a PIP — he should be fired. It isn’t the first time when you might give a warning. This is a huge potential liability.

        2. Perbie*

          Ok, that’s just weird. Why not just say “Oops, found the Problem with doc 3 now that I’m looking at it again; problem solved, thanks!”

          1. Pants on Fire*

            Very good question. Sometimes people don’t act reasonably. Some people aren’t reasonable. Based on all I know about Jim, I don’t find him to be a reasonable person.

            1. valentine*

              He also sent one doc at a time and you had to ask twice for 2 and 3. If your colleagues don’t care about what he did here (and if you haven’t, tell them, but don’t call it lying), present it as a drain on your time. How much time are you wasting chasing after and CSI-ing Jim’s nonsense? Continue the firing process. It’s worth it.

        3. Pants on Fire*

          I continue to bring up these as examples of not just unclear communication (that’s a nice way to view it) but as examples of deception. I say that word. I say that this comes across as a lie by omission. I say that it makes me feel like I cannot trust Jim.

          Jim’s response to that so far has just been to say he feels like there is nothing he can do to earn my trust or make me feel differently, but on the record still maintains he is not lying.

          1. Lying is not an accommodation*

            This is classic behavior that cannot be tolerated. My “Jim” claimed lack of communication on my part, unclear communication and direction, outright denial.
            Put everything in writing. Ask for confirmation in writing of all directives, due dates, and job tasks.
            Do not trust anything Jim says without confirmation from another source.
            “Jim’s response to that so far has just been to say he feels like there is nothing he can do to earn my trust or make me feel differently”
            Jim’s response is not valid. If he stopped lying, you would feel differently. This is an impossible situation for you. Document, investigate and respond. Keep HR and your supervisors informed.

        4. Lying is not...*

          oh, its almost as if there was a school for this. Good job. You are documenting. Investigating. and coaching. Well done. Keep doing this and escalate the PIP so that you follow HR’s process for step discipline. Time for the oral warning that is also put in writing.
          Clear expectations- no lying.
          Here are examples of lying. Including changing dates and content of emails and documentation.
          Do you understand what I am asking of you.
          (denial of lying)
          Then we are clear that your employment is in jeopardy if you continue lying.

    17. ArtK*

      Lying is a firing offense. Lying while on a PIP is double plus ungood firing offense. For me, that would be enough to end the PIP right there and walk him to the door.

    18. LadyTesla*

      I would ask *why* Jim is lying. 9/10 a reason a employee is that way is due to some fear or emotional need that isn’t being addressed. For example, do you feel Jim does this with everyone, or just management? Or maybe just you? Do you think Jim trusts you?

      What I suspect is also that Jim believes he cannot be vulnerable and admit a problem with you. It could be you may have reacted in a way that he found threatening, or he knows you don’t believe his performance is up to snuff. The trust may not be there. He may need to see you defend him or validate that it’s okay to make mistakes without devastating consequences

      1. Just Elle*

        I think this is seriously letting him wayyyyy too far off the hook. The guy is on a PIP, of course he’s worried about losing his job. But an ethical person wouldn’t just… lie… to prevent that. And the fact that he’s willing to shows he’s missing the point of the PIP.

      2. knead me seymour*

        I think it’s a pretty basic work expectation not to lie to your boss or cover up your tracks like this. It makes it impossible to judge the rest of his work because he’s not being open about where he’s struggling. I think we should give Pants on Fire the benefit of the doubt that they’re not a horribly abusive boss, because there’s nothing in their post to suggest that. There are many other reasons Jim could be lying–it’s his default response to avoid accountability for his actions, it’s gotten him results with past bosses, he’s afraid of being fired. But he’s been spoken to about this and it hasn’t changed, and it’s a basic requirement of his job.

      3. Perbie*

        It’s really not on the workplace to meet emotional needs of employees beyond being decent to each other. That’s for a therapist or other professional. If it’s only one employee with a truthfulness problem, it’s probably not the workplace provoking it.

      4. somanyquestions*

        I am truly amazed at people trying to blame the actions of a constantly lying employee on the employer. How can you possibly think that?

        Suggesting this is some big psychological relationship drama is just inappropriate in the workplace. His (manipulative, lying) emotional needs aren’t being met? The LW needs to validate and defend the liar to make him feel trust? I am horrified at the thought of a workplace where this is the decision making.

      5. D'Arcy*

        I would argue that it *doesn’t matter* why Jim is lying. This is grossly unacceptable conduct which should see him fired for cause as quickly as possible.

        1. Constantine Binvoglio*

          Yeah, I agree that the only person who should be concerned about identifying and solving the issue of why Jim is lying is Jim (perhaps in partnership with the EAP). It’s not relevant to the business issues at hand.

          I say this as someone who had a less serious habit of dishonesty and cover-up at work earlier in my career. (To be clear, I mean ‘less serious ‘ in the sense that I didn’t revise documents or timestamps in the way I’m in does; certainly it was a serious issue. I just couldn’t find the right word to use here and landed on ‘serious ‘). Identifying the root cause was helpful for me, but really only interesting or pertinent to my own internal processes. My employer doesn’t need to know or even need to care about the childhood traumas that led to my being terrified of getting in trouble. My employer needed me to stop what I was doing immediately and remediate any wrongdoing.

          In most instances, ‘reasons why ‘ are just excuses and noise. Helpful to the person engaging in the problematic behaviors and that’s it.

      6. Avasarala*

        How do you find out why someone is lying? How do you know they won’t lie in their answer? “I don’t lie to you. I definitely trust you.”

    19. Former Govt Contractor*

      Is being truthful part of the PIP? Because if so you can simply point out to management above you that he did not meet the truthfulness requirement of the PIP when you caught him in (well documented by you) ongoing lies. If it’s not in the PIP it needs to be added. Honesty is non-negotiable and I’m surprised anyone would consider keeping a known liar on their team.

      1. Silver Radicand*

        If I had someone on a PIP and then discovered they were lying as well I’d consider that a done deal. Honesty is such a fundamental requirement that it should be assumed in any kind of PIP.

    20. Jack Russell Terrier*

      About management underplaying this because he’s been doing better. Do you have instances where if you hadn’t caught him in a lie, then the outcome could have been grave / terrible? Think how his lies are going to impact the product / service / company and throw it into sharp relief that way.

    21. WantonSeedStitch*

      Of course it’s a big deal! Integrity is an absolute must in employees. What I want to know is, are you addressing this dishonesty with him as part of the PIP, directly? If the upper management thinks Jim is turning things around, it indicates to me that you have not made this a formal issue for him to improve. I think you absolutely need to do that as soon as possible, so you can document it as a problem and ensure he knows that in order to keep his job, he’s going to have to change. If you don’t document it all, it will be harder to fire him for it if it doesn’t improve. If you have talked to Jim about the dishonesty and documented those conversations, but management isn’t concerned about it, have you talked to upper management to impress on them the fact that while his skills are improving, he is not not meeting the conditions of his PIP because he’s still being dishonest?

      If you’ve talked to Jim directly about the dishonesty as part of the PIP and he’s still doing it, and you’ve talked to your management about that and they don’t care…you might want to consider whether you’re really happy to be working for people who place such little value on integrity.

    22. Not So NewReader*

      If you are thinking that you need to prove that he is routinely lying in order to fire him, you probably don’t need to do this. With the other problems you mention he has enough going on that he should have left 3 years ago.

      If he has improved so much in other areas then he should not need to be lying at all. I would go back and try to figure out how much actual improvement has occurred. For example, if he used to miss 8 out of 10 deadlines and now he only misses 4 out of ten deadlines you still have a substantial problem here. IF he is lying about why he has missed those 4 deadlines, not that much has changed here. It’s just shifted around a little bit.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        And when an employee has been in that kind of environment and moves on, even to a healthy workplace, the fear may persist and the associated behaviours ditto. It’s possible that Jim has previous experience of a punitive environment (at home, at school, at work) which has taught him to lie just in case.

        It’s not Pants’ job to undo that conditioning but it looks like she will need to set her own red line. Deception either by concealment or untruth is unacceptable within a workplace and I think Jim needs to hear that as a separate conversation rather than an additional factor in a wider coaching/disciplinary situation.

        1. Alice's Rabbit*

          Agreed. We all have seen stories on here of situations where employees simply can’t be honest – or else! – and it creates some awful habits. Jim may well be the product of such an environment, even if he’s no longer in that situation.

    23. Lying is not an accommodation*

      I had a very similar situation when arriving at a new position and supervising a “Jim.” First things first. Document. Whatever Jim says or emails confirm. Everything. My Jim lied about small things- yes those boxes were shipped today to big things- they spent last week on document retrieval and distribution. Nope they reassigned it to someone else. Investigate- confirm with payroll that the timesheets arrived on Monday before noon, not on Wednesday at 4:00. It is exhausting. You might find out, what I did. Jim’s competency is in question. This has been going on for long time before your arrival. Others have been covering for Jim because …
      HR told me that accepting half-truths, prevarications, misinformation, and omissions are not the sign of an employee who has met their obligations with regards to a PIP. Continue to inform management of this issue.

      1. Pants on Fire*

        Yes, there was a period of about a month where I was spending so much time fact checking all the things Jim told me, that I was having to work 2-4 extra hours a night to do my regular work. I was BURNT OUT. Things escalated quickly when I told my supervisor this just wasn’t sustainable for me. At that point, HR and my grandboss said that I shouldn’t be fact checking all these things. That Jim mess up enough that something will make itself known to me. That freed my time up and mentally released the burden of basically babysitting a grown man, but it hasn’t fixed my core issue that I don’t like nor want to work with someone I cannot trust. And it means the performance management process has been much more drawn out.

        1. Rick Tq*

          If you can document his pattern of lying based on that research I’d say it is time to terminate him.

          If Jim can’t be trusted he shouldn’t have a job there.

        2. Lying is not...*

          Yes, and it is time to meet with management and lay out your dept. goals for work.
          At each point of the PIP process I was urged to “give up” or don’t give “Jim” any work that would impact the department or its reputation.
          “Jim” had a personable affect when he wasn’t complaining about my abusive micro-managing managerial style.
          My division had NEVER fired anyone.
          And I am not kidding. It was a solid year and half of part time work writing up the documentation. (yes, 2 to 3 hours every night)
          Here is one thing that did help, another manager agreed to take “Jim” for a special project for a short period of time. She experienced exactly the same issues with “Jim” and was able to corroborate the seriousness of the what seemed compulsive behavior.

          The best thing someone told me during this difficult time was that
          A. lying is not an accommodation ( my Jim was manipulative and made claims that previous supervisors were so abusive that explained the “miscommunication”
          B. there was someone out there who deserved this position and would do it well, who I could trust.
          C. Jim was obviously not happy in this position and would be somewhere else.

          1. Pants on Fire*

            I really appreciate your comments in the thread.

            A year and a half, woof…. so glad you finally got your strong team!

            1. Lying is not...*

              I know. I still have a bankers box of printed out documentation. The year and a half was hell but things got immediately better afterwards. There was a lot of stress that took a toll on my physical and mental well-being. Your letter brought it back fresh but I am here to say you will make it to the other side.
              Ask for help. Follow the rules.

    24. Anon Here*

      Lying is a problem because it puts people at risk. Who else is he lying to? What is he lying about? What else might be going on there? What does he think he can get away with?

      You need people you can trust. This person can’t be relied on.

    25. WalkedInMyShoes*

      Jim must be the management’s favorite person who reminds me of my former manager. He happens to be friends with a board member. He was put in a high-level executive role, but he would spin the story to suit himself even if that means the truth has been twisted, and he is caught in a lie. I have caught him several times with lies, but he would spin the story of that’s not what he meant. Sadly, I lost my job, because I kept pointing out things that he promised to do and didn’t. I would highly recommend speaking with the employee and mentioned what you are expecting from him and discuss what the next steps are such as termination of his employment. Make sure that the management knows, because it might back-fire like what I experienced. Sometimes, there are people who lie to protect themselves. Just my two cents.

  2. Annabelle*

    What should I do about an old coworker/friend that wants to keep plan a trip and won’t take a hint?

    More details:
    I worked (indirectly, not in the same group) with Fergus for about 2 years. Our jobs didn’t have a lot of overlap, but we would hang out at happy hours and eventually went on a weekend trip with other coworkers. Then I got a job multiple states away and took it. I keep in touch with the close friend that I made there, and check in with my other previous coworkers to keep those connections. However, Fergus keeps texting and trying to plan another weekend trip to a different location (think Las Vegas or New Orleans) and says that no one else wants to go so it would just be the two of us. I’m uncomfortable with this for many reasons: I consider him more of a coworker than a friend, and he’s hinted at the past at wanting more but I’ve always shut it down.

    So far I’ve pushed off the trip, saying it’s not in my budget or I was too busy at work (both true!) but every week or so he calls to plan it. I don’t want to ruin my professional relationship with him, but I also feel like he’s pushing this trip that was briefly mentioned in the “oh, that would be a fun trip to do, maybe we could do that in the future” way (over 2 years ago!) too much and won’t drop it.

    Does anyone have advice for what to say to him? I tend to be pretty blunt and am working to soften my statements – I don’t want to say “hey, you read too much into a coworker situation and I need you to move on” but I do want this dropped once and for all.

    1. 1234*

      How about “I know you are super excited about this trip but I don’t see it happening for the foreseeable future on my part. It’s still not in my budget and I don’t have any time I can take off from my new job. I’m sure you will have just as much fun taking this trip with one of your other friends or a family member!”

      1. Annabelle*

        Not really as I like to do weekend trips a lot, I’ve just been busy in the past year or so and haven’t had time to take any trips (which I can now start doing again! But I already anticipate questions about why this trip over that one so I want to be prepared).

        1. WellRed*

          But if he’s not an actual friend, does he need to know about your other trips? At any rate, he doesn’t get to lay claim to your time.

    2. WellRed*

      Can you just say something like, “Oh, that was fun when we were all working together, but I’ve moved on.” Others have indicated they don’t want to go, so can you.

    3. Fiona*

      “Our jobs didn’t have a lot of overlap” “I got a job multiple states away and took it”
      …would it be such a bad thing if your relationship DID end? It doesn’t seem like it would affect your career. At this point I’d recommend reframing it in your mind as “Fergus is ruining his professional relationship with ME” with his behavior. I think you can be pretty direct in saying that you enjoyed your past collegial friendship but you’re not interested in taking a weekend trip just the two of you. If he has a problem with that, that’s on his end. Return awkward to sender, as they say!

        1. valentine*

          would it be such a bad thing if your relationship DID end?
          Rules-lawyering boundary trampling Fergus has been after you for two years (and I’m wondering if he even asked anyone else on the trip; this smells like John Green luring his future wife). Can you really trust him not to twist every interaction to get close to you? I don’t think there’s anything you can say that will have him dialing it back to networking. The script you find too blunt is perfect.

          If possible, interact with the others without him. Stop any group stuff that’s happening. Block him wherever possible.

      1. Marthooh*

        Yeas . It sounds like the relationship is already getting unprofessional, so “I’m just not interested, thanks anyway!” is all you need to say. Or, okay, you may have to say it more than once, but … there is no perfect sentence that will convey your disinterest in a romance along with your continuing goodwill towards Fergus as a business peer, and that also won’t hurt his feelings or make him resentful, so just be clear on the one point that you don’t actually want to go.

    4. Just Elle*

      I think you’d be doing him a kindness by just being honest “Fergus, to be honest, a trip like this just isn’t how I’d like to spend my time and money.” If he suggests alternatives you can say “Fergus, I’m sorry if I’m making the wrong assumptions about your intentions, but I just wanted to be clear that I don’t see us being more than colleagues.”
      If you deliver an honest but kind reply, and it ruins your relationship, that’s on him for having crappy boundaries and not being able to take a hint.. not on you.

    5. Academia Escapee*

      Flat out say, “No. Not interested in going on a trip. Thanks for asking, but it’s a hard pass for me.” If he presses for a reason, you can say, “No is a complete statement. How odd that you keep pushing this after I’ve given you a definitive answer. Please don’t bring it up again or I’m going to consider it a problem.” No need to be soft about it or make excuses – be direct. It’s never going to happen, so stop asking. He’s the one who won’t drop something from 2 years ago. If he doesn’t let it go after explicitly being told no, then he’s the one with the issue, not you. He’s the one who can deal with it. If he can’t let it go, block him and go on with your life.

      1. Mimi Me*

        This is where I fall too. It takes practice to not give reasons or soften a No, but if you push through those moments where there’s a pause after your no (the one where they’re waiting for a reason, but most are too polite to ask for it) it’s very freeing. Occasionally I get someone who asks me why I’m saying No. I always smile as I give them the same reason I give my kids “Because I’m a grown up and can say no if I want to.” :)

    6. mananana*

      I would be careful about offering any “reasons” for not wanting to go (budget, time off, etc) because he will always be able to counter that. It’s a far greater kindness to say “Fergus, I’m sorry for being unclear about this, but I don’t want to go to Vegas with you.” Now how about dem Bears, the Arctic freeze, the price of tea in China…… “

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Yes, this. Giving him a reason just gives him something to argue against. I’d say something like “I just don’t see myself taking that kind of trip any more” and if he pushes, give him a very vague response. “It’s just not the kind of thing I do now,” or something like that.

    7. Emilitron*

      I see that undertone of does-he-think-its-a-date awkwardness, you gotta shut that down. I’d try “Vegas sounded interesting [or “wasn’t out of the question” if you want to be less positive] when (whoever) brought it up as a coworker group, but no, I don’t think I’d be interested in a duo trip. Next time I’m back in (old city) I’d love to get the old team together though!”

      1. hbc*

        I like that because it shuts down the date thing without giving him room to be all “oh, you misread, this is completely platonic.” Just, “Not really up for a one-on-one kinda trip, Fergus, but I might be able to free up some time if we manage to get the whole band back together.”

    8. beanie gee*

      If you don’t want to be super blunt, you could say “I really liked our trips with coworkers when I was with the company, but now that I’m at a new job and farther away, it’s just not how I want to spend my little time off. I hope we can keep in touch otherwise, but I’d prefer if you stop asking about it. Thanks for understanding.”

    9. Quill*

      You need to say it’s not in your budget/plans for a time much longer than it would take to plan this weekend: either permanently “I don’t think that location is feasible for me anymore” on a basis of what is planned “I’m not gambling anymore” (this is only because you mentioned vegas) or “I’m going to take this year to settle into my new role and location, I won’t be up for a trip that extensive.” (Only if you wouldn’t be adverse to meeting him for, say, dinner if he happened to be in the same town.)

      1. annony*

        Yeah. Make it clear that this isn’t a temporary impediment. “While that trip sounds fun, realistically it isn’t something that I will ever do. I have a limited amount of vacation time and money and going on a trip with you isn’t something that I can prioritize.”

    10. Not So NewReader*

      “I know in the past I indicated that a trip like that would be fun. But my circumstances have changed, so I am no longer able to do this trip together.”

      Notice how there is no tangible reason why, so he has nothing he can latch on to a refute or try to argue over.

      I am thinking you might not have to be worried about professional impact as others are declining to go with him also.

    11. Important Moi*

      I think “Honesty as a Kindness” is the best approach. The argument could just as easily be made that by not being direct this is being needlessly prolonged.

    12. Annabelle*

      Thanks all! I think I’ll do a combination of the responses and say something along the lines of “The trips were great when it was all of us, but it’s not something I want to spend time/money on moving forward. I’ll definitely reach out whenever I’m back to see everyone!”
      (I also tend to have acquaintances/friends that see me as more of a close friend than I do them, which I’m trying to figure out how to solve in general.)

      1. Rick Tq*

        Still too soft, Fergus is likely to read that ‘definitely reach out’ phrase as permission to stay in contact. If you have no interest in Fergus just tell him so. Bluntly. “Fergus, we worked together but I don’t consider you a someone I would travel with.”

        Have you blocked his number and email address(es) at your end?

        1. Annabelle*

          I tend to consider blocking someone as the last resort. As in, he started texting inappropriate comments or photos. I don’t think this would extend to that level, as I haven’t been clear enough in shutting the trip down so he may think he’s just following up (while also ignoring social cues, but that’s more up in the air.). Are you seeing something more in this situation that warrants blocking him (I’m genuinely curious)?

          1. Rick Tq*

            It depends on the frequency and tone of Fergus’ messages, but he is annoying enough for you to post at AAM.

            Blocking or ignoring his messages will eventually get the point across after a final “No” message.

          2. Rainy*

            I mean, it sounds like you don’t want to be in touch with him in a non-professional capacity, and he won’t take a hint about that, which is reason enough to block someone in my book.

          3. Avasarala*

            Personally I would just ignore. Blocking does the same thing without the level of finality and having to figure out settings to do/undo. I go based on someone’s vibe whether to leave their messages unread forever, read them and not reply, or block.

        2. knead me seymour*

          Eh, I think this script sounds good as the next phase of politely blowing Fergus off. If he keeps being a pest after this, that’s the time to shut him down more bluntly.

    13. Wishing You Well*

      Try this: text him “No, I can’t do a trip.” Then stop taking his messages. Block his number. Nothing short of a yes will satisfy him, so don’t even try to come up with the perfect “no”. YOU have the power to drop this once and for all. You can do this.

    14. BigLo*

      A lot of people hear only the reasoning for why you can’t do something and assume you would do it but for that reasoning. Fergus is requiring you to be direct; maybe you can use the others backing out a as a crutch and say “Sorry, I’m not interested anymore either, but I hope you find someone to join you soon!” He will probably ask why, and you can just reiterate you’re just not really interested in a trip.

    15. kt*

      Captain Awkward has some good advice on this sort of thing. I think you should be very straightforward and clear — *don’t* soften your statements at all — because being blunt and clear now will save you a load of trouble down the road as he keeps pushing and manipulating because oh oops he’s ‘not picking up social cues’ ‘you didn’t say it clearly enough’ blah blah blah.

      This is a fairly common pattern, and you should stop doing the steps if you don’t want to dance. Social pressure will be used *against you* to keep you from being direct and keep you roped into this contact. It’s not even about the trip — it’s an excuse to keep calling and texting and emailing you. Do you want to talk to this person every week?

      You don’t exactly specify the gender dynamic or if this person wants romance/etc, but I’ve experienced versions of this dynamic across gender combos and across levels of desired “more” (romantic/non-romantic). Your desire to maintain social niceties/community/professional relationships/whatever is the tool to prolong contact in any of these situations.

      1. Important Moi*

        I’ve noticed in the comments I’m not the only one who reads Captain Awkward.

        The voice is different there. I just don’t feel like that type of directness is welcome here.

        1. biobotb*

          Seems like that’s because Captain Awkward mostly advises people on personal relationships and issues while AAM mostly advises people on how to handle relationships with colleagues. I think people tend to recommend more diplomacy in work relationships.

        2. ampersand*

          I think it’s more the intended audience (who are on the receiving end of the bluntness).

          CA=often friend or family (sometimes acquaintance-type) situations.

          AAM=work/colleagues, who at the end of the day you still have to have a cordial and professional relationship with.

          CA will shut stuff DOWN. I do love that about her.

          1. Avasarala*

            I think CA also gets more questions about actual abuse, whereas a lot of stuff here is just annoying or mildly rude. One warrants a level 5 shutdown, one deserves going nuclear.

    16. Short & Sweet*

      “I’m going to need my vacation time for other things in 2020, so you should find someone else to go with you on that trip. Sorry it didn’t work out!”

    17. The Tin Man*

      Advice is pretty well-covered but just chiming in to say

      HE CALLS EVERY WEEK TO TRY TO PLAN THIS TRIP. WHAT.

      Depends on how much you care about him saving face (despite this uncomfortable behavior) but something like “Fergus, the fact that you are bringing this up so frequently makes me feel uncomfortable. I really would rather just be friendly former coworkers and don’t want to go on a trip alone with you”. Or leave out the “alone” bit.

      On a related note, I’m not too shocked that nobody else wants to go. Unless that’s a plot to get you two alone but I think the former is slightly more likely (though not by much).

    18. Horseshoe*

      You don’t seem to have a professional relationship to ruin? Fergus thinks you have a personal relationship and can’t take a hint. That’s incredibly weird to ask about this every other week many times.

      I like being blunt myself, and I think it might be kinder to tell him “I feel like a trip with just us two would imply more about our relationship than I want to. I am happy to go on a trip with a group [if that’s true!], but don’t feel comfortable with just two of us. I hope you can understand this.” If he gets it then, he’ll probably deny he ever meant more than friendship (which will be his way of trying to save a professional relationship, but will also make you feel a bit like the bad guy. Ignore this.)

      There’s a way to say it softer than “You need to move on” but I’d consider being more harsh if a clear but polite explanation doesn’t stop him asking.

    19. Don't get salty*

      Pardon me, but if I were you I would definitely want to torpedo any sort of relationship with this man, business or otherwise. What exactly does he have to offer that makes you willing to put up with this inappropriate behavior of his?

    20. LilySparrow*

      “Hey Fergus, I realized I’ve been too indirect about this, and the hint isn’t coming across.

      The trip isn’t going to happen. It’s time to drop it. I hope you can put something together with the others and have a great time, but I’m out.

      Take care.”

    21. Alice's Rabbit*

      “Fergus, I’m not going to be able to go on a trip with you. It was one thing when it was a group of coworkers, but I don’t work there anymore, and I need to concentrate on my new job. I hope we can get the whole gang together for dinner or something, next time I’m back in town. Thanks for understanding!”
      That last bit is crucial, because it puts him on the spot. He either needs to accept what you’ve said or give up any pretense of being polite. And it doesn’t give him any excuses to argue against. Circumstances have changed, that’s all.

  3. Just Elle*

    I’d love to hear your opinions on the value of an online (or part time) MBA for someone 5 years out of college and hoping to be a director one day. Right now I work as a project manager for an engineering technology company. I went to school for engineering.

    I’m also curious whether alternative graduate degrees like Technology Management, Leadership, Risk Management, or Project Management are considered equivalent by hiring managers. The curricula of most online MBA programs in my price range sound…. Not nearly as exciting as some of these alternatives.

    I’m fortunate to work for a company that offers education reimbursement. The downside is, this means it’s required of people who want to advance beyond mid-level managers. I’m not sure I want to stay here long enough for that to matter, but I have FOMO abound passing up this benefit only to have to pay out of pocket for it later. Is this kind of expectation the new normal?

    Many of my colleagues are going to the local state school, and their group project horror stories sound unbearable. But I can likely get into a higher ranked online program – if the extra effort of a higher ranked but not top school is worth it. Will I be pleasantly surprised to learn valuable things? Will future employers really care about an MBA, or any other business graduate degree, enough to make 2 years of sacrifice worth it? Or am I better off spending those extra hours throwing myself into my actual job and impressing people with my dedication?

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      If an MBA is your goal then you want the following:
      1. An AACSB accredited school
      2. A decently ranked (although some of those rankings are popularity contests, so look at methodology) school
      3. A school you can afford that has good ROI, look at outcomes data and the recent Georgetown study

      Online or onsite doesn’t matter. That said, if a specialized master’s is what interests you then do that. Do some hiring managers things MBA is the one ring…sure. But that’s not everyone or even most.

      **I’m the assistant dean of an AACSB accredited business school

      1. voyager1*

        Real management experience > MBA

        However sometimes a MBA will get your foot in the door to management.

        I am in banking and when I see some folks with MBAs, to me I see underemployed with no management experience and no prospects of getting it. But they think that piece of paper will make the difference.

        Your industry may be different though.

      2. Just Elle*

        Thanks, it’s great to have your perspective, and I’ll look at the ROI studies for sure!

        I think one thing I’m really struggling with is the effort vs payoff of a higher level school, and how high I really want to go. At what point is getting into “the best / hardest” school just… Harder and more expensive. I don’t want to work for a big 4 consulting company, but I am scared of limiting myself also. At what point is there diminishing return on the quality of education? Half of me wants to do “the best I can be.” The other half wants to balance that with life and success in my day job. And a very small part wants the easiest possible path to the piece of paper.

        1. TotesMaGoats*

          Have you thought about a graduate certificate instead? It’s shorter and since it’s generally very focused, it can be more helpful in the job market. Just make sure you get one that is within a stackable degree at your target university. That way you know the credits won’t be wasted.

          1. Just Elle*

            Unfortunately, my company’s reimbursement program doesn’t cover certificates. Which, with the lower cost of certificates, may be less relevant… But my undergrad student debt is so outlandish
            that I’m pretty reluctant to add to it.
            Do you have any sense of whether employers would actually value it as a near-equivalent?

        2. lemon*

          Um, are you me? Because I’m struggling with the same dilemma right now. :)

          I’m leaning towards applying to more highly-ranked schools, mostly because a lot of the value of getting an MBA seems to be the networking/learning from your peers aspect of things. I’m currently getting my MS from a local university that has a good reputation, but isn’t highly ranked. I’m actually really disappointed by where my peers are at in terms of skills and knowledge. I don’t think I’m actually getting anything out all of these group projects because I have to spend most of my time teaching people how to write at the college-level. If anything, a higher-ranked program has stricter admission’s standards, which means it’s more likely that your peers will have basic things like writing skills and enthusiasm and motivation for what they’re studying.

          So, I think it’s helpful to think about what kinds of interactions you’d like to have with your peers. Are you hoping to network and learn from your classmates? Will you be ok working on projects with people who have different skill-levels?

          Also, in terms of higher-ranked schools being more difficult to get into… I read that evening and weekend MBA programs are much easier to get into. Like, schools with a 10-20% acceptance rate to the daytime, full-time MBA program can have a 60-70% acceptance rate to their part-time or online programs. So, you know, something to keep in mind.

          1. Just Elle*

            Haha certainly sounds like it! I actually have a very similar story to your current experience. For undergrad I went to a well regarded top-50 school and loved my peers. The work was insanely tough and I cried like, a lot, but my peers were all exactly as driven as me and many were so brilliant that I felt like I learned more from them than my teachers.
            Then, for money reasons, I had to transfer to a school ranked 300th regionally. Which meant I needed to do my capstone project with my peers. It. Was. Awful. None of the kids… cared. At all. And like you’re pointing out, writing and other skills were just not up to par. I felt like I spent the rest of my education with the led weight of uncaring teammates dragging me down, and my GPA at that school actually ended up being worse than at the first school (of course, I was also working full time…)

            So, I’m torn. One of the main benefits I see to an online program is the more limited group project dynamic and the access to a ‘higher level’ of peers. But then, one of the main things I want out of an MBA is experience with communication and persuasive meeting conversation – something I expect an online class to lack. There’s only one part time MBA program within easy commuting distance of me, and my colleagues tell me group project horror stories about it all the time.

        3. Jules the 3rd*

          A general MBA gives you tools to see the big picture, and gives you a basic intro to a lot of different functions. My 1st year classes were Strategy, Marketing, Accounting, Finance, Human Resources, Grad Economics + 2 specialty classes. Once you cover those basics, good programs will have specialties like Project Management or (from my school) Tech Commercialization or Supply Chain. Once you cover TMG’s most excellent basics, look into the specialties at your plausible schools and see what you like.

          I live within 30 miles of 2 major business schools (top 25 consistently) and a 3rd that was just starting at a well-respected public university that has a focus on more technical degrees. It was billed as ‘MBA for Geeks.’ Graduates from the 2 big ones tended to go into Finance / Consulting. I went for the MBA for Geeks, and am *very* happy with that choice. I do not expect / want to be a director, but the degree has opened doors, and has helped me in my role as ‘interpreter between silos’. I started being able to talk to programmers and engineers, but the degree helped me talk to Finance, Risk Managers, and Sales, which I do at least weekly.

      3. Mouse*

        Do you have a link to the Georgetown study you mentioned? I tried to find it but had no luck–I might be using the wrong search terms.

    2. OtterB*

      My experience is old so may or may not be relevant. (I earned my MBA part time … wow, 35 years ago … while working full time as a programmer/systems analyst/project leader.) I had a BS in computer science and found the MBA very helpful in terms of learning more about the big view of business. I have never used details of finance or accounting but they have been helpful in things like project budgets. I never intended to use the degree to move into Big Anything, and didn’t. As it turned out, the Organizational Behavior classes combined with my project leader experience actually changed my career direction. I found that projects succeeded or failed on people grounds much more than on technical grounds, and that led me to earn a PhD in Industrial/Organizational psychology. I work as a social scientist on higher-education STEM related projects, and like it a lot.

      There were no online programs in my day. Hearing from other students was both a plus (experience in lots of industries) and a minus (long-winded, self-important folks). Overall, I’d say there’s value in something that engages you with other students and not just with the material.

      Re MBA vs. other graduate degrees, unless you have your eye on a career track that you know requires something specific, I’d say pick with an eye to what you prefer in a program of study, tempered by reputation of the institution/program for delivering what it promises. IMO specific degree titles don’t matter as much as how you shape a story of your career development for future hiring managers. So you want to be able to say, I got interested in this, or I wanted to learn more about that, or I wanted to prepare myself to move into this other related area. Not just, well, the benefit was there so I thought I’d use it. (Not implying that’s what you said here. Just saying that as you choose among programs, think of what story you want it to contribute to.)

      1. PSB*

        This is really interesting to me. I have a technical background but a BA in Management. I found my Organizational Behavior class absolutely fascinating and had the same insight you did about people factors vs technical factors. I kicked around going straight into a graduate program in Organizational Psychology but couldn’t justify adding to my student load debt at the time. I started moving away from technical roles and am currently an IT project manager. I’ve gotten to the level that lack of a graduate degree is uncommon. I’m still thinking about pursuing Organizational Behavior at some point, especially since I have some of the finance and accounting background in my BA.

        Have you found your technical background helpful in your current role? I’m one of very few PMs in my organization who have technical experience and I think it’s useful to understand the context and approach of the technical folks on my project teams, but my non-technical colleagues do just fine without it too.

        1. Just Elle*

          Yes I think it’s so interesting too! One of my favorite classes from undergrad was a grad-level organizational psych class, and I’ve applied it a lot. I actually work in more of a business process management / organizational structure role now that has me wishing I knew more.

          As far as your second question… My mom is a really high level individual contributor at a software company. She once told me she’d take 1 project manager with some technical understanding over 10 with no technical understanding. She gets very, very frustrated by managers who just don’t understand why x takes so long or y bug is so critical… And therefore can’t effectively petition higher ups for more resources/time… Plus she wastes so much of her time explaining it to the.

        2. OtterB*

          My technical background is obsolete but still helpful because it instilled a certain way of thinking that continues to apply while the technology changes. I wouldn’t try to manage a technical project at this point, but my experience is helpful in communicating with technical people and in asking appropriate questions. I don’t think you have to know the technical details to manage a project, but you do need to understand the structure of the problem, likely trouble spots, etc.

    3. ACDC*

      My husband is doing his Master’s in Finance from CSU (Colorado State University). It’s VERY affordable to the point that we have been able to pay for all of it out of pocket. He has learned a lot from doing this program, and he is set to graduate in June 2020. His income has doubled since starting the program because of the valuable, real-world-applicable skills he has learned. So in my biased opinion, if you can find an affordable program that works for you, go for it!

    4. DidYouSeeThatPlay?*

      I’m director-level in a technical field. I hire a fair number of technical folks, and for me? A master’s degree (of any sort) is a significant differentiator. In my opinion, a master’s is *definitely* worth the time and effort (it certainly was for me). From my perspective a few things are worth considering:
      1. It has to be from a *real* school, not the University of Phoenix. Beyond that? The school doesn’t matter much. Part time is perfectly fine. Don’t sweat the ranking. Unless it’s Harvard (on the high end) or Phoenix (on the low end), few people are going to care.
      2. What you focus on *in* your degree is more important that the degree itself. As long as you can demonstrate that the master’s is *relevant* to the job you are going for, A MBA, a MS in Engineering Management, a MS in Organizational Leadership….the fact you are motivated to continue your education, and that education is somehow directly relevant to your job is critical. This is particularly true if you are looking to move into management.

      As an employer? I *definitely* will give more attention to a resume with a master’s on it than one with just a BS. It won’t get you a job, but it will pique my interest, and will definitely help your career.

      1. Just Elle*

        Thanks, this is great feedback!

        My general interpretation of a graduate degree is that it won’t automatically get me a higher level job, but could give me skills to become a better lower-level manager, and then when the time comes for the promotion it might give me a slight edge.

        1. DidYouSeeThatPlay?*

          One other option that might address the time concerns you have could be a MS in Organizational Leadership. These are typically treated similarly to a MBA by most businesses, but many (including the one that I did) are Saturday-only programs that can readily be completed in 5 years on a very part-time basis, or much faster at a higher class density. I have seen several programs that are designed similarly. The program that I was in had a set of core requirements (typical business requirements – business law, HP, accounting/finance, management, etc.) but were designed so that you could emphasize your areas of interest within that framework (I emphasized technology and risk management). It was a very good balance among balancing the intellectual curiosity that should drive most of us, structured education that helps fill in the business/organizational gaps of technical professionals, and adding a respected and valuable credential for the long run.

        2. WheezyWeasel*

          I’d agree with that interpretation. The experience you get from the graduate degree is going to bump your skill level up considerably, and the results you generate in your current role will affect your promotion more than the degree itself.

          If your graduate program experience is like mine:

          – You’ll be able to look at problems from different perspectives. Let’s say you don’t agree with a policy affecting your current role operationally. Coursework around corporate strategy or culture can help you understand that the the policy may be in place to better allow the company to be bought out in 2-3 years, or because the company is switching to a different market.

          – You’ll be able to speak and write more succinctly for higher level audiences. I have drastically improved my writing since my undergraduate days and early work career, and it’s been noticed.

          – You’ll understand how different skills are valued: I now understand that my manager doesn’t need to know how to do my job, she has a completely different skillset that the company needs. I’ve also been able to show support to my manager in different ways after a graduate degree : presenting the problem upfront and how it affects me or my metrics, along with possible solutions. It has made me a better employee.

          A final note: I was able to change jobs twice while in the graduate program and just having the school and program of study listed with an expected graduation date on the resume got a lot more interest.

          1. Just Elle*

            It’s good to hear this. The feedback from my colleagues who have gone to the state school is that it contributed 0% to their current knowledge base. Basically it was just an expensive piece of paper to them. But I was hoping that was atypical and more a symptom of the lower level school.

            1. DidYouSeeThatPlay?*

              One thing to keep in mind about that is that, in terms of what you learn and the skills you develop, it is that grad school is vastly different than undergrad. What you learn and develop is much more dependent upon what you WANT to learn and develop, and how much effort you put into it. Most grad school programs allow you to focus what you are learning and emphasize your areas of interest.

              If you want it to add greatly to your decision-making abilities and knowledge, it can. But it can just as easily be an exercise in doing only what is necessary to add a valuable set of postnominal letters to your name. It is largely up to you.

    5. Goldfinch*

      The people in my company who follow the career path you are talking about tend to get a Master’s in Engineering Management.

    6. Alternative Person*

      If you’re still in your twenties, it might be a little too early to get an MBA. The thing about MBAs is they often look good on a CV, but like most degrees, the skills and knowledge can end up out of date before you really get the benefit from it. And with MBAs in particular, they’re a potential career refresh that can make a lot of difference if you end up changing industry later on. Even if you stay the course at your current place, you might want the flexibility to chose an MBA most closely aligned with the skills you need (you can get MBAs with a focus on logistics for example). You might be better taking another option for now (five years is a decent time for a diploma or field related masters) and coming back to the MBA later

      1. Just Elle*

        This is something I’ve thought about a lot. I love the executive MBA track, and the emphasis it puts on communication skills that I wouldn’t get in an online program. The trouble is, most are over $200k! And require 10 years experience.
        Unfortunately I’m at a grade level in my current company where the next promotion job postings all specify “master’s degree preferred” and above that is “required” so while I agree that 10 years is a better time frame, if I want to wait that long I have to get a different master’s now, or go to a different company to continue my career progression.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          6 years is reasonable, and by the time you’re done you’ll be at 8. Go when you can afford it…

    7. ArtK*

      Look for “Executive MBA” programs. These are usually structured so that you don’t have a lot of class time. They try to work around people who are working! Beyond that, do look for an accredited program associated with a real university. Avoid the for-profit degree mills.

      As for other equivalent degrees, I can’t advise. My degree is an MS with a specialization in Engineering Management. It had a lot of overlap with the MBA program but was specifically for people in engineering — we’re an odd breed!

      1. Just Elle*

        I love the executive MBA track, and the emphasis it puts on communication skills that I wouldn’t get in an online program. The trouble is, most are over $200k! And require 10 years experience.

    8. Admin*

      I briefly did some admin at the MIT system design and management program, which is a joint master’s granted by the engineering and a management schools. It’s geared toward mid-career people looking to get a leg up into higher roles. The tuition is very expensive, but the payoff seemed to be good as far as the earnings increase people saw. The major thing I noticed was that there was a big focus on the job search for the students – the people running the program were in touch with a lot of recruiters, held job fairs and cross country trips to visit companies (with students getting input into who they visited) that resulted in networking opportunities, interviews, and later, job offers. Very different from my undergrad experience in a (different) STEM degree at a different school.

      Obviously some of this is the strength of the MIT brand, but I think it’s worth knowing that some schools do put specific effort into job placement opportunities for students (and alumni!), as well as development of practical job skills, which might make the degree worth more to you, and is definitely worth asking about if you research programs. My sense is that more schools are starting to offer engineering management degrees and certificates – look up MEMPC, which is a consortium of schools that offer those programs.

      1. Just Elle*

        Thanks, that program looks so interesting! (Although, 90+24 credits? Wow thats a lot!).
        Unfortunately there’s a payback clause in my tuition reimbursement program, so I wouldn’t be able to make use of career services for 2 years after graduation. Do you have any insight into whether they help students so far after graduation? Like, do past graduates attend career fairs?

        1. Admin*

          That’s a good question that I unfortunately don’t know enough to answer! I know that alumni were invited to some of the celebratory end of year/graduation time events, as well as some throughout the year I think, so there were definitely networking opportunities for program graduates from different years to get together, but I’m not sure about the more outwardly focused job placement stuff.

          I will say that it wasn’t at all unusual for students to be in the same situation you were in, so it’s one they’d be very familiar with. Definitely worth reaching out to the admissions officers at whatever programs you are interested in and asking what they offer in this regard, as well as former students if you have the opportunity to.

    9. Daisy-dog*

      I definitely understand not wanting to pass up that benefit! And really, I think education should be a personal choice and you should go with something that you think you’ll most enjoy. The “value” won’t really mean much if you don’t enjoy the process and can’t speak passionately about later.

      Though online degrees still hold a stigma. If you can go to a brick-and-mortar school online (I did), then it is probably better.

    10. Hush42*

      I just finished my MBA online in December. I started June 2017 and finished December 2018. The criteria that I was looking for when I chose a school were- it HAD to be AACSB accredited, it had to have decent review, it had to have a full time online program, and it had to be in my price range. I stayed away from any school that was an “online” school. I only looked at degree programs that were from established schools that had an online program for the degree rather than schools that were 100% online schools.

      I don’t regret my MBA and I got it for similar reasons as you are considering- I wanted to be able to move up within my company. However, I 100% believe that MBAs are only helpful if you already have experience to go with it- otherwise it just becomes a piece of paper that makes it harder to get a job because, for most positions you’re over qualified in the education department but under qualified in the experience department. I worked full time while getting my MBA and gained a promotion to a management position while still working on my degree. this means that I have some management experience (although not a ton yet) under my belt to go with my MBA.

  4. Going Going Gone*

    Does anyone have to follow more restrictive T&E policies than your official company policy says? Our official policy states that higher ups have different limits (understandably) but my director restricts certain things our official policy allows. Some things I understand but some I don’t (I’m not allowed to expense dinner for working late- doesn’t happen that often- but the official policy states I can).

    My coworker has already talked to my director with no luck and of course this legal- just wondering if it’s common. FWIW, I work at a large, global consulting firm- this isn’t a small company/non-profit.

    1. Anoymer*

      Ew. Sounds like your director is trying to get kudos for lower costs in his budget by not allowing your team the same perks as everyone else.

      1. Going Going Gone*

        You’re absolutely right that’s what is happening and I’m not sure whether this is normal or ok. I work in a support department so we don’t bill but other non-billing departments were surprised to hear these restrictions. I don’t think I could or would take it to HR but the team has had high turnover and there’s some other things going on that make me feel not appreciated so I wonder if this is part of why the team is a revolving door.

        1. Formerly in HR*

          If you are a unionised employee, then the collective agreement states whether you are reimbursed or not – and the union would not be pleased to hear of interpretations different than what was signed. Even if you are not unionised, if the company policy says you are allowed to reimburse meals for working late then that’s it. Do you have a help desk for HR or for Finance that you can contact more from the perspective of ‘ I worked late on day x and had to buy dinner, which policy says I can reimburse – can you please point towards the job aid for how do I submit this?’ If manager declines, then you can escalate it again to said help desk.

    2. Academia Escapee*

      I don’t have personal experience with a situation like that, but I wonder if it’s a case of the director trying to keep the department budget in check and not allowing anything s/he deems “unnecessary” so budget numbers make him/her look like a rock star.

    3. CL Cox*

      I work for a school and our principal can set up certain limits/guidelines that are more or less restrictive than the district says, but never anything that is in direct conflict with what the district says. For instance, she can say that purchases above a certain amount require pre-approval before I can order them or maybe that only one teacher per team will get time off pre-approved, but she can’t say, for instance, that I won’t get reimbursed for mileage if I have to drive to a different school to pick something up, since our district says that I can.

      Have you tried pushing back on this policy and asking your director why he won’t let you be reimbursed? If the company policy is that you get reimbursed, then the only thing I can think of is if you are not approved to stay late, but are doing it of your own volition (and not getting paid overtime), then the company policy might not apply.

    4. CAA*

      Would these expenses be billed to your consulting contracts or to overhead? In some cases you may have to follow the client’s policies (e.g. especially if the client is the U.S. government) rather than your own company’s policies for what can be expensed. However, if you’re on site at the client’s location (or en route to/from client), then it’s beyond cheap to deny you dinner.

      If you’re working at your own office location, and routinely needing to expense dinners, then that’s a different issue. Clients may object to paying for meals when you’re not traveling. Your boss may feel that people should have better work-life balance and dinner shouldn’t be part of the job; or someone else may have abused this perk in the past.

      I’ve never had a job where the company would pay for dinner just for a single person working late, but I’ve expensed many group dinners where I had a team staying late to deploy new software overnight or on a weekend and I think that’s pretty standard. If the company is actually telling you that you have to stay late vs you deciding to stay late because you have a lot to do, then it’s a little different.

    5. Beatrice*

      That’s normal, in my experience. The policy sets limits for appropriate spending, the budget owner can set additional limits within policy to manage to the budget.

      For example, my policy states that I must select from hotels in a particular budget category within our travel scheduling software, if there is a hotel in that category available, but I once had a manager who further specified that when traveling to X location, we must use Y hotel. There was a nicer one that was technically within the appropriate distance/budget category but was $40/night more expensive , but he wanted us to use the one he selected because it was cheapest. He also required more rental car sharing than was technically required under the policy, again to manage the budget. (We had roughly a dozen people traveling to the site for several weeks straight, and the project was already over budget, so the measures were understandable.)

      I was glad to have a generally flexible travel expense policy, and understood that individual projects might have less flexibility depending on the situation. Someone making a fuss out of it would have either appeared out of touch or would have triggered the drafting of a less generous travel policy overall.

    6. Yep*

      Do you work in my old department?! Went through the exact same scenario. When I had one foot out the door, I started expensing my late dinners. I got paid every time without a peep, because it was accounting that was approving it based upon the firm handbook. I did leave before the end of the fiscal year, so I don’t know how he reacted when/if he found out.

  5. The Photographer's Husband*

    Hi everyone. Let’s play a game called, “How Many Red Flags Can You Spot?”

    I follow a Facebook group for professionals in a certain industry – it’s fairly active and usually people posting job ads and openings at various businesses. This week, I saw just the best post ever. I’m not even in that industry anymore and thought about applying. See how many red flags you can spot in the post made below, only modified to hide the industry.

    “Hello I’m looking for a younger director for my tea kettle refurbishing project and small company. I was director but I was voted off by everyone including me and the people that quit due to me. I’m interviewing first 3 people that comment. Thank you.”

    Bonus Round – In the following comments, the OP also mentioned:
    There are 4 people on the current project
    Maybe 7-8 people in her company that she knows of ‘off the top of her head’
    The company is located ‘online in Discord’

    Super Bonus Round – When asked why specifically she was looking for a ‘younger’ director, she mentions that it’s to match a cultural fit since the company is comprised of all teenagers.

    1. LimeRoos*

      Oh this is fun!!!

      -Younger
      -Was director but voted off by everyone
      -People quit! because of her!!
      -Interview first 3 commentors
      -everything in the bonus round, it’s like a parade.
      -no words for super bonus… Like, you really want a cultural fit match with teenagers? I’m guessing this pays in Mountain Dew & Fritos or something.

      1. The Photographer's Husband*

        I was so curious about how pay worked too. I refrained from jumping into the comments on it, but there were a couple people who did express interest in applying, so maybe Mountain Dew & Fritos are compelling compensation for them?

    2. starsaphire*

      Sorry, can’t play… when I got to the word “younger,” my eyes rolled up in my head so far I couldn’t read the rest of the paragraph… ;)

      1. Quill*

        I’ve had some ridiculous drama in non-professional organizations, but I have NEVER had someone vote themselves off the board.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          I had a student tell me that had lost while playing tic-tac-toe against himself. I asked him if that didn’t mean that he also won, and his response was, no, he only lost.

          He was thirteen.

            1. Jedi Squirrel*

              I asked him that. He said “No, I only lost.”

              He was a great kid. I sometimes wonder what he’s done with himself.

    3. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’m going with 21 red flags. 7 but everything is tripled since this seems like a complete disaster.

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

      Do they let girls in the treehouse or is it just boys only ’cause girls have cooties?

    5. Square Root Of Minus One*

      I can’t help hoping the first three comments to that were from the same person.
      And that they were one word each : “What”. “The”. “F***”.

    6. Lady Heather*

      I think that if you’re in the US, this is not only a hoist of red flags, but also age discrimination and illegal.

  6. MissBookworm*

    About 18 months ago the company decided to merge our department with another and my manager was put in charge of managing both teams. I was promoted to supervisor a few months later to help out, but over the last year we were thrown curveballs in the form of multiple new clients, projects, our company being acquired, etc. so it’s been difficult for my manager to find time to train me. I’ve been doing what I can to take some of the work off of her plate (mostly with answering questions and helping if coworkers are stuck), but it’s difficult when my I’m still doing 100% of the work for my old position which is a full time job in itself.

    We brought someone on temp to perm in more of an admin/support role for my manager and I this week—he actually wasn’t supposed to start until next week so we had to rush to get his workspace set up and to get the training material ready. He is picking things up really quickly which is great because now I have time to dedicate to my new duties and the training for them, but he’s not asking questions and that concerns me. He’s worked as an admin in accounting before, but not in the insurance industry and he’s not really asking questions about the type of insurance we work on or about our procedures. Maybe it’s just me (my personality or inquisitive nature), but I can’t imagine just sitting down and doing what I’m told step by step without understanding why it’s done that way or how it relates to the type of insurance. Or even what this type of insurance does and why people elect these coverages. Everyone else I’ve helped train has asked questions, even if it’s just to confirm that they understand what I’m saying.

    Is this normal? Do people not ask questions when they’re in training?

    1. Sleepy*

      I trained one person who didn’t ask any questions and it turned out badly.

      But maybe he sees himself as a temp and doesn’t want to invest too much mental energy as long as he can do the job well enough.

      1. Beehoppy*

        Some people also learn differently than others. My Boss wishes I would ask more questions also, but I prefer to listen and research first so I can ask more informed questions. Also-it’s Week One! At that point your brain is just trying to remember all the technical aspects of the job-background content would be overload.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think it could be a few things:

      1) This person is there to do a job (accounting) and he doesn’t need to know the extra details in order to successfully complete the tasks he’s in charge of. Some people don’t need or want to know the big picture in order to do their in-the-weeds kind of work.

      2) This person needs a bit of time to sit with these details before thinking about your big-picture types of questions. It may be that after looking at some numbers or lines of data for a few weeks, he’ll ask a question about a certain trend or whatnot, but those questions don’t immediately jump out to him.

      In any case, I would be concerned if he was not asking questions in training about how to do his job correctly, and very much less so concerned with him asking questions about things that may be well beyond what he needs to know in order to do his work.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I know that when I’m training, I’m usually more of the 2nd type you’re presenting. I’ll ask a couple pieces as I think about them in the conversation, but then when I’m repeating a task by myself the first or second time I’ll have stacks and stacks of questions, because that’s when I’m trying to access and implement the information properly and I realize that I even have any. Unless the trainee’s worrying you in other ways or Never asks any questions and is actually completing the work he’s supposed to be doing (some extra QA to make sure he’s catching all the pieces he should be considering, maybe, for the first month or so), chalk it up to a weird quirk.

        1. Joielle*

          Me too. I always feel like my first priority is just to learn how to do the work itself, and that’s pretty much all I have bandwidth for. Once I have sort of a grasp on that, THEN I start asking big-picture questions. Plus I know I won’t understand the nuances of the big picture until I have a solid idea of what my own job is.

          I wouldn’t be too concerned yet. But I WOULD be concerned if he’s still not asking questions after a few more weeks, or if he’s not taking any notes as you train him.

      2. MissBookworm*

        He does need to know these things. They impact how and where the funds are applied and why those funds are applied the way they are.

        I do explain as I’m training, but I would expect him to have questions clarifying what I’m saying or trying to find out why it’s done that way when it was different on another account.

        I know I need to give it more time and hopefully he’ll start asking.

        1. pleaset*

          If there are things he needs to know, he might be assuming you’d tell him those things. Which seems reasonable to me.

        2. Fikly*

          Is the training hands-on? Personally, when getting training through lessons/reading I don’t have a lot of questions, because they don’t occur to me until I’m actually trying to implement the training. Then I have lots of questions. It’s just how my brain works.

          1. MissBookworm*

            Very hands on. I usually explain how it’s done, show how it’s done on a few examples, and then have the trainee “drive” so to speak while I’m sitting with them.

            1. Alice's Rabbit*

              In which case, any questions he might have had are being answered before he gets a chance to ask them. You’re being incredibly thorough in your training, so he’s got a lot of information to process. Give him some time to digest it all and try the work on his own. Then see if he has any questions. And by “some time” I mean at least a couple days on his own after the training is over.

    3. WellRed*

      What are his duties? Is he filing and answering phones or is he processing claims (just guessing here at possible tasks). Some things really don’t require a lot of context and background and not everyone is curious about “how things work.”

      1. MissBookworm*

        Being able to do the job accurately relies on knowing this information. We do explain it while we’re training, but it feels like he should still have questions just to clarify if anything.

        1. Joielle*

          Is he taking notes? I always take a ton of notes when I’m learning something new but usually don’t ask many questions right away. Once I get back to my desk and organize my notes and thoughts, that’s when I have questions.

          1. MissBookworm*

            He has been, but I don’t know the quality of the notes. He also was given printouts of the applicable manuals—though these manuals are mostly complete there are a few things missing (our newest procedures).

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      I think it is too early to start asking those kinds of questions. He’s just trying to figure out how the copy machine works, whether his card key works etc etc etc. Asking detailed questions about the business is something I would expect he would get curious about in a few weeks or more.

    5. Laura*

      I’ve been an insurance accountant for 10 years and been a temp in other places.
      I’ve worked in a place as a temp where the direction was to complete a process and they would prefer I got the task done and not wasted time. When I was permanent at insurance accountant, the industry wasn’t explained to me until 2-3 years later when I started working on certifications. You may want to make it clear to him that you are open to questions.

    6. pally*

      Can you ask him some open-ended questions regarding the specific procedure he’s following? Your reason would be to assure yourself that you and he have the same understanding of what he’s supposed to be doing.

    7. Parenthetically*

      I’m like you in that I love to know why things are done a certain way, but a) not everyone cares; some people are very happy to just do as they’re told without needing to know the deeper reasoning, b) you hired this guy as a temp-to-perm, which means he’s coming in knowing it might not work out long-term, and c) he doesn’t even know how to work the coffee maker yet. Give him a break.

      I’d be sure to communicate to him that you’re very happy to answer questions about the nature of your work as you go through the training process, and encourage him to seek information he thinks he needs clarification on, but otherwise, train him in what he needs to know to do his job properly and let him settle in before you start worrying that he’s insufficiently curious.

    8. Fulana del Tal*

      He been there less than a week now is not time to figure out “why” . He still learning his job duties. This site has had many letters complaining about new employees that are too inquisitive or overly eager.
      And yes some people are there just to do their assigned tasks and that’s ok.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Tell him again that he needs to ask questions. He’s only been there a short bit so he may just be at the absorbing stage where he is just soaking up everything he can. As long as his work is good and he is catching on really well, I would not worry, yet.

      My boss told me something that was helpful. She said that in our arena (not insurance, btw) it’s an absolute necessity to ask questions. Not optional. You might go as far as saying his move to perm might be based in part on his ability to ask questions. My own boss set apart time each day for questions. Granted, it may have taken only five minutes on some days but the fluctuations made sense. Some days we had harder more complex things to handle and other days by sheer luck we had simpler things to handle. The time spent answering questions when up and down the with complexity of the day’s work.

      You might want to preface your talk here by saying something to the effect of, “The insurance industry is a biz where asking questions is expected and almost mandatory. There are so many details that cannot be covered in a single week or even in a single year.”

      If you don’t see an increase in questions, then start to worry. The next thing you look at is once the questions start coming you start considering the thinking that goes into asking the question.

      1. MissBookworm*

        That’s how I see it here; at least at my company you are expected to ask questions and my clients (which are also in the same industry) encourage asking questions as well.

        I’ll have to bring it up with him and see if maybe he’s just trying to process or if he just thinks he understands it more than he really does.

          1. MissBookworm*

            For the most part; I don’t expect him to do everything correctly his first week. There have just been some mistakes that could have been avoided had he just come over and asked me a question before entering the information or if he had asked for clarification when I was explaining things to him. And there were also mistakes that were unavoidable (as in we were given the wrong numbers) that even I would have done wrong.

            1. Silver Radicand*

              As you find errors, use it as a chance to explain the need for questions and what sorts of potential difficulties he could run across. Sometimes to even start asking good questions, a person needs some context on what type of thing would be “incorrect”.

            2. only acting normal*

              When you’re brand new it’s not always obvious *what* needs clarifying. You need more than a week to absorb all the nuances of a new industry! (More like 6 months, minimum.)
              Also, he may need time to digest things before he formulates clarifying questions (I describe it as “I can’t do receive and transmit at the same time”, but you can bet I’ll have some probing queries at some point).

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        ^^THIS^^
        Some places specifically DO NOT want questions. If your newcomer has had managers & co-workers who scold someone who “bothers” them, it’ll take several reminders that you DO want questions.
        I’d suggest making your one-on-one include specific time for questions: at least one.

    10. Doug Judy*

      My boss said something similar to me when I first started my new job. The thing is when you’re new to everything it’s hard to even know what to ask, because I needed a basic foundation to even form a question that was specific enough to get a helpful and useful answer. Be patient with them and if there is something you think they should be asking more about maybe probe a bit by asking “Do you have any questions about X?” That will at least get them thinking. A generic “ask questions” can be overwhelming when you’re one week in.

    11. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Two options that come to my mind:

      1) Could this person have been penalized for asking questions before? I am reminded here of a mentor I had in my entry-level job 20+ years ago, who was training me to do production support fixing database records in a client’s insurance DB. He’d give me the steps (type command X, then type command Y), but anytime I’d ask him what exactly that was doing, or why I was doing that, he’d respond with things like “just do it” or “just trust me”.
      2) Offshoot of my previous question, can he be picking up this information on his own by reviewing whatever documents he’s working with (something that I see many commenters have already suggested)?

    12. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      It might be possible that he got blasted for the questions he asked in past jobs, so not tries to figure things out without having to ask. If you ask questions, people hold what you don’t know against you. But if you don’t ask questions, it’s seen as a red flag.

  7. Sleepy*

    Can anyone recommend any books that would help an artist develop as an artist-entrepreneur?
    My brother works several remote part-time jobs so he can have enough time to pursue his music passion. He plays in a lot of bands, they perform, they occasionally tour. Not surprisingly he makes very little money at this and he’s expressed the desire to have a larger portion of his income come from music. I’d like to give him a resource to help him develop a more entrepreneurial mindset or skill set, but I haven’t found anything. Books on entrepreneurship I’ve looked at don’t seem like they would apply well to the music business.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      I don’t have any books to recommend, but the springboardforthearts (dot) org website may be of some help to him. While it’s based in the Twin Cities (MN) area, I think they may offer advice, resources, consultancy for artists beyond that region.

    2. OtterB*

      You might try The Three Jaguars by MCA Hogarth. It’s a lighthearted but still informative view in comic style at the way an artist career (she’s a writer/artist) splits into three roles: The artist, the marketer, and the business manager.

    3. Ruby314*

      “Art, Inc.” by Lisa Congdon, though I do think it’s aimed at visual artists.

      I also found one called “How To Make It in the New Music Business: Practical Tips on Building a Loyal Following and Making a Living as a Musician”.

    4. Janey-Jane*

      Also targeted towards more visual arts, but try “How to Start a Creative Business: The Jargon-Free Guide..”

    5. Lilysparrow*

      Check out Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins. I haven’t read that one, but I’ve read others by him, and found him very levelheaded.

  8. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

    In an email, I got told “to find out the employee uniform for the winter, check the shared drive.” I look in the share drive an under “uniforms” there is a note that says “For those who are bustier on top that don’t find into Sizes X and Y in the preferred shirt, it will be This Other Uniform Shirt. All llama groomers must match – either all wear Preferred Shirt or all wear This Other Uniform Shirt.”

    While I’m not offended, I do think that the person who wrote this could’ve easily and more tactfully written “If Preferred Shirt does not fit…” and conveyed the same message. What are your thoughts?

    1. no kind of atmosphere*

      I think they should have just picked the shirt that had larger size options and made that the standard, instead of, what it sounds like, of putting the onus on the people with the, erm, chest size to enforce a uniform change for everyone.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, that’s weird. “Sorry everyone, as you can see, I have large boobs, so please wear a different shirt from now on.” What on earth??

    2. just a small town girl*

      woah, as someone who is vastly busier than “normal”, that would rise all my hackles. Mentioning boobs, even obliquely like that, is Not Okay. Definitely should have been something more along the lines of if this does not fit, option B.

      No mention of busts ever belongs in the workplace unless you’re the office admin from the interview yesterday.

      1. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

        Or if you work at Victoria’s Secret or some other company that makes items related to busts. (I don’t)

    3. Amy Sly*

      Eh, as one who has problems with shirts because of bustiness and in a context where one is unlikely to be able to try the shirt on before ordering, I would prefer having the fitting problem more clearly laid out. “If Preferred Shirt does not fit, then Other Shirt” doesn’t explain why Other Shirt might be preferable. This way I know if I have trouble with bustiness, I know it’s worth trying Other Shirt. Likewise, my coworker who doesn’t have problems with Preferred Shirt bustiness but needs more hip room knows not to bother with Other Shirt because it won’t help her problem.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, it is useful information, but maybe “large chested” would be a more neutral term to use? I’m just curios why the switch hasn’t been made entirely to the “other shirt” option, seems odd!

        1. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

          Preferred Shirt is more of the “look” Company wants (think sexier/cuter) vs Other Shirt is plain/more covered up.

          1. no kind of atmosphere*

            Ah, yes, places where the primary importance of people who work there is looking sexy. That must be a great place to work.

            1. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

              I work at this llama grooming company part time. They value knowledge on llama grooming and ability to sell/upsell llama products such as llama brushes, llama shampoo etc.

              Depending on client, sometimes we are told what specific grooming standards are required beyond the general ones such as “take a shower, show up with neat hair, etc.” I can tell you for sure that Company doesn’t only employ 6ft tall models. Some of my coworkers are short, some are tall, some are a size 0 and some are plus sized.

              1. no kind of atmosphere*

                If they actually didn’t care, their preferred look wouldn’t be the sexier option rather than the utilitarian one that covers more of the body. And getting told to groom nicely for some clients… um.

                1. valentine*

                  The real problem is the sexism. The daughter of that is: Is it the whole shift that includes an Other that has to match them or everyone at all times, do the Preferred have to change if an Other arrives to cover a shift, and what happens if everyone’s dressed Otherwise when they have to meet the special clients? If you have to be brunette or paint your nails, what happens to people who can’t? Do only Preferred people get sent on special jobs that bring them more money or better standing?

      2. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

        It is perceived that Preferred Shirt is more fitted/tight/cut smaller whereas Other Shirt has more give.

      3. Environmental Compliance*

        ^Yeah, I’d appreciate a heads up on the actual fit characteristics of the shirts so I can properly choose (as a very narrow shouldered busty woman with also wide hips . But I think it could have been done in a better way than “those bustier up top” (can you be ‘bustier’ down below???). Like it could have been “straight cut” versus “curvy cut”.

        1. curly sue*

          Or just adding in the fitting charts. Those are incredibly helpful because they actually have numbers rather than relying on people having the same perception of what “busty” actually means.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            +1000

            Very, very much so. I’ve definitely gotten burned by a “curvy” shirt that really wasn’t. Shout out to those crappy button ups that the manufacturers have no comprehension of what burstier individuals do to them…. On the plus side, I’ve gotten very good at putting in invisible snaps & buttons.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              May I just say that your auto(IN)correct just gave a perfect description for what the shirts can do?
              Burstier indeed. I think it’s got catch phrase potential and I may throw it to the wolvesa few teenagers and see what happens.

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                Totally on purpose! I have a good friend who is also quite busty and that’s what she came up with. I can’t claim it, but it definitely fits and gives me a chuckle.

        2. Amy Sly*

          I agree that there could be better phrasing than “bustier up top,” but yeah, actually explaining the fit is important and there are only so many ways to dance around the topic. “Curvy cut” to mean “generous in the bust” wouldn’t help me much, because I’m used to seeing that term at Talbots where it means “Baby Got Back.”

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              This is where I was going… for curvy I’m going to assume bust for tops, bum for jeans/pants/skirts.

      4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yeah, I’ve worn, chosen/ordered, and helped select staff uniforms before, and honestly I appreciate it if someone is frank with me as to what does and doesn’t fit and why. It helps me get uniforms that work for the most people, and it’s something I can learn from and keep in mind going forward when ordering uniforms, that certain uniforms don’t mesh well with certain body types.

    4. CatCat*

      I think “bustier” is pretty vague and I don’t think it sounds good to be talking about boobs here. Sizing just generally sucks at being vague all around, Why not just include the shirt measurements including chest measurements? Makes it so much easier to get a proper fit!

      Employees should wear Preferred Shirt if Preferred Shirt will fit. Here are Preferred Shirt sizes and measurements:
      * Size X (measurements)
      * Size Y (measurements)

      If Preferred Shirt does not fit, employees may wear This Other Uniform Shirt. Here are This Other Uniform Shirt sizes and measurements:
      * Size Z (measurements)
      * Size ZZ (measurements)

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      Couldn’t they have said, “this is the preferred shirt. Here is a size chart with bust, waist, and hip measurements for that shirt. If those measurements don’t work for you, please wear other shirt, and here’s the size chart for that one?”

      As a rather busty individual, I often find that I have issues with shirts fitting me properly. I rely heavily on size charts that give measurements for bust/waist/hip to see if a shirt is cut in a way that I can wear it, or if I have to wear a different size than I might in another shirt, or if it’s just not for me. People with generously-sized hips probably have the same problem. Size charts are helpful, not judgmental, and neutral in their discussion of people’s anatomy!

    6. Degen from Upcountry*

      Waiiiit wait wait wait wait. So A) I’m already offended by this because it’s plainly offensive and I’ve been “busty” since age 14. But B) … does this mean that if Busty McGee shows up to work on Saturday, all the other llama groomers have to wear the Big Old Lady Shirt?

        1. Degen from Upcountry*

          This is truly bananas. Why not just have everyone wear the second set of shirts? Do the smaller-chested women have to buy both shirts or is there a stock of shirts they can choose from? It gives the impression that having a “bustier” woman show up for her shift throws a wrench in the whole day from a brand perspective.

          1. If the shirt (doesn't) fit*

            Shirts are given to us to wear. Employees do not have to purchase any uniforms for llama grooming. They are also supposed to return it to our storage unit for the manager to wash/clean/reuse but honestly, we have a surplus of shirts where this doesn’t need to happen.

            There are at most (unless special circumstances dictate), 2 llama groomers per shift. You are supposed to “coordinate” outfits with each other prior to working the shift.

            1. WellRed*

              The idea of thinking, “Oh, I’m working with Betty Busty today, gotta wear shirt No. 2” is appalling to me.

              Of course, I could bust out in song “I’m too sexy for this shirt.” Or this job and its silly requirements.

            2. Avasarala*

              ??? This sounds like a problem easily solved by having everyone wear one set of shirts, which come in sizes that fit everyone. Why is this the method they chose to solve this problem?

    7. Alice's Rabbit*

      I’ve had several busty colleagues who insisted that shirts fit, when they really didn’t. So I can see how this happened, even if the wording could be better.

  9. Jabs*

    Sorry this is long, its been on my mind A LOT:

    So a week or two ago I asked for tips on working with a “junior” Teapot Painter with whom I’m having communication issues. She doesn’t report to me but I’m the sole “senior” Painter on the team.

    The problem (from my perspective) is that she focuses almost entirely on the details to the exclusion of the big picture, while I tend to do the opposite. I’ve worked with others in this role without as much difficulty, so I know its not 100% on me (I’ll happily take 50% of the blame).

    We are currently developing a new process of Teapot Painting, which means that the documentation is either non existent or not as detailed as she would like. Here is an example: I’ll write “Painted a star on the teapot,” instead of “Used the default (big) paintbrush to paint a star on the teapot. If your teapot is too small to use the big paintbrush, find a more appropriately sized paintbrush.”

    The purpose of the task (to paint a star on the teapot) is really all I’m trying to convey; it doesn’t matter which paintbrush I used, and it seems obvious to me that an experienced Teapot Painter would know they can use different brushes. We’re still experimenting and I dont know what size teapots we’re going to get anyway, so I can’t predict what size she’ll need.

    Still, I’ll show her on a big teapot, and she’ll use the big paintbrush on her small teapot and then come to me and say it didnt work. She has been here two years and has a degree in Teapot Painting, but seems resistant to exploring or deviating from what I say, even when its something I came up with on the fly and have emphasized is not to be taken as the only solution. She often says “I didnt know I was allowed to do that,” even though Im telling her (all the time) that I want her to come up with a solution herself.

    This week is busy and I was shorter with her than I should have been. (I apologized and explained that any frustration she was hearing was with myself for having not communicated well). Later, I was talking to a coworker in a different department about my struggle, and the coworker mentioned the difference between “N” (intuitive) and “S” (sensing) types, as described by the Meyers Briggs system.

    I don’t believe that people fit so neatly into categories (and hate the use of Meyers Briggs by schools and corporations) but the explanation of the difference between intuitive and sensing struck a very strong cord with me. I’m curious if others have encountered this particular idea and if its helped them? I admit I fit the “N” type to a fault; I do have a tendency to jump around, speak in metaphor, and to avoid the details in favor of the abstract…

    (Heres an article that came up on google, no guarantees of its quality but it conveys some of the idea: https://www.truity.com/blog/intuitives-guide-getting-along-sensors )

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I can’t speak to the personality types, because honestly I think a bunch of that stuff is bs. However, the real problem here is she’s not thinking critically. Yes, it’s harder to think through stuff, anticipate issues and figure out how to adapt (or know you need to ask how to adapt, depending). But it’s an important skill to have and to use. Some of it is having the experience to be able to effectively anticipate/problem solve, some of it is knowing and being comfortable that she hasn’t to do it, she can’t just copy what you do like a mindless drone.

      1. Jabs*

        Yes I agree this is the main problem, but I honestly am not sure how to “teach” critical thinking. I should be clear that its not that she doesnt try to fix it; she’ll tell me she spent an hour trying to figure out which paint would work with the brush she’s using, when the (much easier) solution would have been just to use a different brush altogether!

        In the incident this week I tried to get her to understand that she should be thinking about “why”, and she asked me if I could include that in the documentation as additional lines. I said I could try but that I can only go into so much detail for it to be a good use of my time, and I feel we sort of came to an impasse. I’m going to try and be a little more explicit and ordered in my instructions, but I dont want to be the only person on the team coming up with ideas!

        1. Quinalla*

          The point you are at in the process is not the time for detailed documentation and she needs to be more flexible. It may be that you need to be a tad more detailed too, so I wouldn’t dismiss her feedback, but I think she needs to stretch and at least meet halfway.

          Also, maybe another thing to suggest if she is struggling and can’t figure it out on a project like this, she should come to you (or maybe a peer first? that would be better if it is workable) sooner to clarify and you (or her peer) can get her unstuck faster and also hopefully start teaching her how to apply critical thinking.

          I’m also in a process right now where we are rolling out new tools for employees to use. First step is tools get tested at an alpha level, then the beta test we roll out to more people. I emphasized for the alpha it is fine to have little to no documentation, but for beta testing (which this sounds like) more direction is needed so people can get from A to B to C on complicated tools. Full blown documentation doesn’t come until testing is down and official roll-out, but there does need to be an intermediate step for tools that are complicated. Again, maybe your intermediate documentation just needs a little more to it. Maybe have her trying it out and giving feedback on the documentation be part of the process?

          Without more specific details (which I get you may not want to provide), it is hard to give more specific feedback, but hopefully that helps!

    2. Venus*

      Myers-briggs is bullshit. It bins people when they are more on a continuum (people aren’t ‘extrovert’ or ‘introvert’ only – they are on a scale, and it varies depending on their mood). Half of people will get a different result when they retest, so it isn’t reliably repeatable. It assesses people based on who they want to be, and not who they are (so it evaluates based on desire, not on actual behaviour). There are more problems, but my particular amusement is that it was developed by someone who didn’t like her daughter’s fiance, and wanted an excuse for them to break up.

      I think it is useful to realize that people have different ways of thinking about things, but applying those categories… well, I don’t think my opinion is subtle!

      1. Jabs*

        I agree entirely on the idea that these things are always a spectrum… I guess I’m looking for anything that will help me understand this coworker better, because its very hard for me wrap my head around the way she thinks. This particular dichotomy seemed to explain it in a way that hadn’t occurred to me before and so I found it useful, but I agree that putting anyone in one or the other category and leaving them there is silly (and probably does more harm than good)

        1. Minocho*

          I absolutely get that the intuitive versus sensory spectrum just put the problem into a framework that made sense to you. I would describe myself as being on “your side” of that spectrum as well – I have a friend who is very concrete and discrete, whereas I think about things within a framework I’ve invented in my head, rather than a bunch of discrete data points. There are areas where each end of the spectrum finds themself at either an advantage or disadvantage. It sounds like your colleague would do well once a procedure is established, but this portion of the process is not a very good fit for her natural mode of thinking.

    3. My Highnessness, fka juliebulie*

      As others have stated, it’s best not to put too much stock in Myers-Briggs; however, in Please Understand Me, the author says that S vs N is the source of more misunderstandings than any other type difference, and I believe that to be true. But it’s in the same category, I think, as the askers vs the guessers. Some people will assume that which is not said, while others will doubt that which is not said.

      Having said all that, I’m a hardcore N and I still wouldn’t use a big brush to paint a star on a small teapot, and I didn’t even go to Teapot Painting school.

    4. QCI*

      Some people just don’t have critical thinking skills, and I don’t know if you can really teach it. For you, the answer is obvious and it’s difficult to understand why others don’t get it. For them, if the answer isn’t spelled out they draw a blank and come to a complete stop. I don’t know how to fix that, but maybe others have some advice.

    5. Mrs_helm*

      You reacted by saying the problem may be “with myself for having not communicated well”. But later in thread we’re talking about critical thinking. If critical thinking is a part of the job (sounds like it is), then she is failing at that part. If you are supposed to give her “trained monkey” instructions, then it could come back on you not being specific…but strict “trained monkey” instructions are rarely going to be the case in any job.

      So, if it is really pretty obvious that you can’t use the big brush with the small teapot…and she tried it anyway…I have to wonder if she’s being obstinate for some reason. (Assuming she’s not otherwise incompetent.)

      1. Jabs*

        I guess my struggle here is what is “obvious” to me may just be more experience or my own way of thinking; how does one know when something is obvious or not? How can I know what assumptions I’m making are reasonable, vs. what a person who trained with a different Teapot program may never have been exposed to?

        She certainly has strengths that I do not have: she takes very diligent notes and when she is responsible for documentation it is comprehensive; her soft skills are much better than mine; when asked to research something she does so above and beyond what I would become impatient with; she has a positive growth mindset that I really admire, and she also has come a very very long way in terms of technical skills since she began working here.

        I think part of my struggle is that I’ve been at this job a few years and am thinking about how I might transition to a more senior role eventually, which would probably include some supervising/management. This seems, in some ways, a perfect test of that; someone in the same role I began in but with a very different way of working.

        1. designbot*

          It sounds like you’re bending over backwards trying to understand and accommodate differences. But at the end of the day, you’re a senior painter, you’ve worked successfully with other junior painters, you know what it takes to succeed in this role and you’re not seeing it in her. The reason she might think differently may not even be relevant; she’s demonstrated that despite much coaching and re-explaining, she is incapable of making decisions at the level required of her.

          1. valentine*

            She’s not right for the job. Even if it were possible to write everything down, you don’t have the time and it would soon feel farcical: “If your pen runs out of ink, use a different writing implement (not a crayon) that doesn’t tear or bleed through the writing surface. Any color easily read on said surface will do. You may borrow one from any desk. Write large enough for easy understanding and small enough that all the letters will fit on their row.”

            Maybe she can transfer, but you’re both spinning your wheels.

    6. JustMyImagination*

      Could you give her a prompt “We need to paint a star on tiny teapot. Figure out which brush you think will work best and then let’s discuss.” It’ll force her to choose an option and then defend her reasoning. It’ll also give you a chance to discuss the “Why” part of the decision which she may not be as aware of as you think she should be.

      This takes more time, but it’s a way to assess her critical thinking skills and get her to flex those muscles.

      1. Jabs*

        This is a good idea… I suppose Im worried she’ll be discouraged if what she comes up with doesn’t work. I’ll think more on this and see if I can come up with a way to do this that doesnt come off too patronizing (I’m not her boss, just her coworker with more experience and a slight title bump), and still gets our work done in time.

      2. always a nurse*

        I used to train new nurses in hospital critical care units. Critical thinking was absolutely required, but many people don’t do it intuitively. I found the best technique was similar to JustMyImagination – I’d ask the new nurses to tell me one or two events that were specific to their patient, and at least somewhat likely to occur, and then we’d work out what the appropriate nursing response to the event would be. It wasn’t enough to say “he might die!” because everybody in critical care might die…. you had to think about likely causes of death based on the patient situation, and how to identify and intervene before it got that far. Maybe she needs to look into the specifics of teapot painting…. what are the goals, and what resources are available to meet the goal of a well painted teapot, so she can start thinking about the choices she can make to meet the goal, instead of expecting that all the options will be written down for her.

    7. Argh!*

      This is more of a J vs. a P type of problem. J people are excellent cogs in the wheel. P people are excellent at piloting the wheel. Both have to learn to meet each other in the middle. If the J person won’t or can’t, it’s up to the manager to go 90-100% of the way in order to ensure quality control. It’s why managers get paid more.

      1. Spoons please*

        And this is why Myers-Briggs is mostly nonsense. I always test as a “J” but am not a cog and do really well as a manager.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I’d toss the M-B stuff to one side. It’s not that helpful here. And it is causing you to have to work harder not easier.

      People need to know how much leeway they have in their jobs. Have you gone over the points where she is supposed to decide and how to know when an instruction is set in stone?

      I have been lucky in my jobs because I would ask the boss how much authority to do I have in cases such as X or Y. And the boss answered me. Some people do not ask how much authority or discretion they have. I dunno how they survive the job, honestly. I can’t go through my day guessing. I have to know what is under my purview and when to call the boss or other authority in.

      At the same time you could try to write instructions to show where the teapot painter may use their discretion.

      There are many jobs out there that if you do not do EXACTLY what is written on paper, then there is a high price to pay for that error. It could be that she comes from such a background. Keep in mind she IS doing what you say to do. It’s more worrisome when they go off on their own tangents and bring the boss painted furnace filters or some other useless thing.

      1. Joielle*

        Yeah, this is what I was thinking too. If she seems reasonably competent other than this issue, it could be that she comes from a previous job where she had to follow instructions exactly, or a boss who would jump down her throat if she made a mistake. Especially if the latter, it takes a while and some encouragement to recover from a toxic workplace like that. I agree with your suggestion to be very explicit about when and how much discretion is appropriate.

    9. Anon for This*

      Myers-Briggs has lots of haters, but I’ve used it to solve the exact type of problem you’re having. Of course I’m generalizing, we’re all on a continuum, etc. However, as an extreme Intuitive I was very frustrated with extreme Sensor-types, just as I’m sure they were frustrated with me. They want and need to be told explicitly, step-by-step, EXACTLY what you need them to do. If she’s like some I have known, she will not suddenly be able to figure things out on her own.

    10. Batgirl*

      This doesn’t seem like a competency issue; more like she doesn’t feel allowed to take initiative. She doesnt respond with “I can’t do that”, she responds with “Can I do that?” and a request for a CYA note. This could be due to a former ‘do exactly as I say’ toxic boss or an earlier paint-by-numbers approach in her training. I’d put it in writing that not only does she have your permission to use her own initiative, especially for something like finding the right size paintbrush, but that she is expected to. If you don’t have the seniority to set her goals, get someone else to, or this will seriously hamper her. She can’t sit around waiting for scripts.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        +1 I know the Myers-Briggs and the N/S distinction very well (and don’t think it is bs) but there’s something else at work here. Yes, maybe she likes to ask about details of everything and “what if it isn’t exactly like in the instructions?” etc (as an ENTP I have had this frustration with **SJ types so many times) but from what you’ve written here it seems like she has been burned in the past by “not following instructions”, or “using initiative” rather than asking a supervisor what she should do, or such like… it is very hard to break out of the mindset of “I have to seek approval for everything I do from this person who is ‘above’ me in the hierarchy” and can become a defence mechanism in itself.

        Have you made it explicit that “the goal we need to accomplish here is to have a star painted on the teapot that takes up approx 25% of its width. How you do that is up to you, as long as you achieve the stated result” ?

  10. Susan K*

    I’ve noticed that people seem to be getting spoiled by the convenience of modern technology, and I am curious if others have experienced the same thing.  I’m the administrator for a couple of databases in my department (not my main job, by the way — a peripheral duty on top of my main job), and I’ve become the unofficial IT person for the department.  This is a huge company with an official, 24/7 IT help desk, but people in my department frequently come to me for computer help, whether or not they’re related to my databases, because I’m pretty good at learning software tips and tricks and I can often tell people the easiest way to do things in various applications.  I’m also pretty good with Excel and I have set up numerous spreadsheets for individuals and groups in the department.
    Lately, I feel as though people have become increasingly demanding with what they expect software to do for them, and they’re unwilling to do the smallest manual actions because they want it all to be automatic.  When I started working here, we tracked our tasks on a hard copy printout.  Now, our database is set up to automatically generate a list of tasks that need to be done (which can be easily filtered and sorted) and automatically check items off of the list as they are completed.  It’s so much better and easier than the hard copies, and yet most people won’t even look at the list because it takes two whole clicks to open it.  They are missing things that are on the list because they try to complete the work from memory and forget things.

    I also set up several custom reports in the database.  For most of them, the only user action required is to select the report from a drop-down list and click Run, but again, this is too hard.  People have seriously complained that they have to “scroll through a list of like a dozen reports and figure out which one to choose and it’s so confusing!”  (The reports are very unambiguously named, e.g., “Monthly TPS Report Data.”)  People who have asked me to set up reports never run them because it’s too much work to open the program and go to the report screen.  “But can’t you just make it e-mail the report to me every day?”  Nope, I can’t.
    A manager in my department asked me to set up a fairly complex spreadsheet that uses data from one of my databases but is beyond the capabilities of the database’s reporting functions.  I poured hours of work into setting it up so that all he has to do is run a report in the database and export it to an Excel file in a specific location.  The spreadsheet does all the rest of the work (I even set up a macro to grab the most recent data upon opening), and if he wants to save the charts to a PDF, all he has to do is click a button.  I showed him how to do this and also typed instructions in the spreadsheet.  Guess what?  He hasn’t run the report once.  I don’t think he’s even opened the spreadsheet.  I’ve been running it periodically, mainly to make sure it’s working correctly, and I’m saving the charts to a PDF weekly and sending it by e-mail, because that’s the only way people are willing to use this information — if it is “automatically” delivered to their e-mail (they view it as “automatic” but it is really me manually doing the work and sending it to them).

    1. Silvercat*

      I’m not sure it’s tech making them lazy – they’re probably just lazy. I’ve gotten the same attitude in low-tech situations.

    2. Adlib*

      I feel you. I usually just sigh and say “users, man” to myself when stuff like this happens. If people can’t be bothered to do 2 steps to get what they want, then it’s on them. I know the frustration of going through all the work to set up automatic reports only to have people not even use them. Part of the issue is that most people don’t understand limitations of software/databases or how they work at all. They think that because some things are automated, that everything should be. I’ve been working in systems/software for a few years now, and that’s just the way it is. I hate telling people “no, it’s not possible”, too, but I think it’s just part of the territory.

      You are doing way more than I would be though. I would not be running a report and then emailing a PDF out to people when they’ve been shown how to get the information themselves. That usually teaches people learned helplessness. Do you know if they are even looking at the report when you send it? Plus, what happens if you get hit by a bus?

      I would suggest posting to your intranet or SharePoint helpful tips occasionally on how to do things, but that also relies on people reading them…

      1. Susan K*

        In this particular case, they are looking at the PDF because I send it right before the meeting in which it’s discussed and the manager who asked for it puts it up on the screen in the conference room. I’m pretty sure that if I got hit by a bus, he would say, “Well, Susan didn’t send me the PDF so I guess we’ll skip that today.” The problem is that some of these things affect my work, so I have a vested interest in the information being distributed and used even beyond the time I put into setting it up. For example, the task list includes work that I need another team to complete, so I need them to look at the list and do the work on the list.

        I’ve started to get very concerned about the “hit by a bus” scenario because I’m afraid there are too many things that people think are automatic but are really only happening because I am doing them. Each individual thing is not a big deal, but if I’m out of commission for a couple of weeks, a lot of things will not get done. Maybe if it came to that, they would realize they have to do these things themselves, but I don’t know.

        I almost always write instructions for how to do these things, but I doubt anybody reads them. If it is more than one step, it’s too complicated and confusing and nobody knows how to do it but Susan! I also usually give a live demo and/or training sessions, but people forget if they’re not doing it on a regular basis.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            I was just legit going to suggest this too. Make a list of everything someone (you) has to do; make sure your manager and whoever would cover for you; and then take a week off.

    3. calonkat*

      If you’d added in some comments about being asked to learn new programming languages and write successful programs in them withing a couple of days, I’d be texting my daughter to ask why she didn’t tell me she finally started reading this blog.
      She’s also had people complain that it’s too hard to open the reports from their email and read them, so there’s that step you can look forward to as well.
      I manage one main program, with a relatively small number of users, and spend my time explaining the same things over and over and begging people to make sure their data is correct. They can run reports that use English words to explain what problems exist, yet that action is beyond some of them. So I run the reports, and send them emails explaining what is wrong with their data, then they don’t fix it or worry about it until it’s too late.
      So you’ll never make everyone happy.

      1. Susan K*

        Kind of embarrassed to admit this, but I have gotten to that stage where it’s too hard for people to open the reports (the ones I set up at their request) from their e-mail (which I send because it’s too hard for them to open the program and run the reports)… So on some reports, I have started to include a summary in the body of the e-mail in case they are too lazy to open the attachment.

        1. Adlib*

          Yeah, as QCI and TooTiredToThink said, definitely take a vacation. It’s probably worth a conversation with your boss to go through a “hit by a bus” scenario. Maybe document all the time that this takes for you to do when the end user could do it faster themselves? They would definitely be up the creek without you! It sounds like this stuff may even take up so much time you don’t have the bandwidth to take on more strategic or big picture projects.

        2. Ama*

          I would talk to your boss about the amount of hand-holding you are having to do and ask if there are places where it would be okay to shift the onus back to your coworkers — i.e. make it clear at a staff meeting that if people don’t read the attachments that’s their fault if they miss something important. They are going to keep pushing that boundary until the point at which you make it clear you won’t be doing their work for them any more.

          I work with a volunteer board that is really bad about missing info (they are all experts in the subject area we work in and receive a ton of email so I get it to a certain extent, but for some of them it feels like if we don’t come to their office and put the meeting on the calendar for them it’s somehow our fault for not telling them) and the only thing that has helped is I have my boss’s total agreement about where exactly the line is between my responsibility to keep them in the loop and their responsibility to figure out how to get the info they need like the experienced professionals they are. (I.e., you need us to cc your assistant on everything? fine. Your assistant is not very good at their job and doesn’t put stuff on your calendar without an email that says “Jane, please put this on Dr. Owen’s calendar”? We’re not taking on responsibility for managing someone who does not work here – you need to do that yourself.)

        3. Mockingjay*

          We use a task workflow system. I’ve used these systems for over a decade so I have become the “expert” by default on my team. This particular system is a very simplistic model. Click to open new task form, type title and description, pick name and due date from the preset lists, and save. Off it goes via email to the designated team member.

          Where it dies. They won’t read it; they won’t update it with progress or assign it to the next person. Our industry is IT and comms systems, so I know these people can figure out a damn server workflow.

          Nope. Instead, I average 2 calls and 5 – 10 emails per day, asking me the status of the task or the product associated with it. “I don’t know. It’s your task.” “How come the changes I put in the email didn’t get implemented?” “You didn’t put it in the workflow.” “Can you put it in?” “No, this isn’t my responsibility. I have my own work to do.”

          I’ve stopped answering the emails and I duck the calls. I don’t run the system; I just use it like we’re supposed to. It’s mandatory across the program; it’s only this team that refuses to use it. They’ve been trained on it; wikis and other info are readily available. We have a large IT staff who can help. They don’t care. They want me as a personal recording secretary, tracking all the team’s work. I have a completely different job.

          Fortunately my supervisor has my back (I am assigned to this project team, but report to her) in keeping to my paid role, but it is so tiring to keep having to deal with this kind of thing. I just want to focus on my job, which I enjoy when I am left alone to concentrate on it.

    4. Mouse*

      One of my coworkers refers to that as things happening “automagically.” I have a magic wand on my desk for the same reason – it’s pink and sparkly and lights up and plays a trill.

      I spend a lot of time broken-recording, pointing people back to where information is located and walking them through how to use the tools. Takes longer than just doing it myself sometimes, but eventually it gets the point across.

      Some of it at least seems not to be laziness but a difference in mindset or ways of thinking — it seems perfectly logical and obvious to me that if you want a report to do X, you need to be able to define specifically what rules/filters/etc. will constitute X, but saying that gets me a lot of deer-in-the-headlights looks. People generally will get the idea with some prompting and conversation. Another part is just unfamiliarity, as people here juggle a lot of different tasks, and by the time they come back to one in particular, they need a refresher on how that one works.

      1. Sharkey*

        My former (now retired) excellent boss used to have one of those magic wands. She said that when necessary, it could also double as a battering ram! :)

      2. Formerly in HR*

        I say that people want Siri- delivery. I.e. just talk out loud and someone reads their mind and pops something up on their screen/ desk etc. No efforts, no clicking, no wait. Everything has to be real time, without providing all the information / parameters, without waiting / filtering/ filling in anything.
        I get users asking me to send them reports, even though they have access to run those themselves. I recently discovered that I can make the reports to run as a backlog and get the results sent to an email address other than mine. So if they want the report I just open it, click on filters ( or not, if I didn’t get any details), enter their email address, click two more buttons and the report is sent to them. I don’t check and format the results for them anymore.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      My business partner was so frustrated that he had to click two things — literally, just two things! that are even in the same micro-geographic area of the screen! — to send emails to customers from within our accounting software that he paid a consultant $1500 to [basically] write a macro that will do it with one click.

      I don’t have a stop-watch with the precision to time how quickly the two clicks can be made, but it’s *max* one second. So he paid $1500 to save half a second 3-4 times per day, four days a week (he only does computer-related stuff four days a week). So that’s 8 seconds per week; 416 seconds per year; at $3.61 per second; which is $12,966/hour.

      This was five years ago and I’m *still* mad as a hornet about him wasting that money.

    6. Jedi Squirrel*

      Stop doing their work for them.

      Of course, they’re not going to run the report and save the PDF. You’re doing that for them. Stop right now.

      Address this as “Okay, I’ve made a few tweaks, so I want to run through this with you to make sure you know how to use it.” (It doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve tweaked the report—you’re tweaking how you’re handling things.) And then stand behind them as you instruct them which thing to click on, which menu to select, etc. Once they’ve run through it once or twice and you’re confident they understand it, walk away. If they have problems in future, don’t run it yourself. Just stand behind them and tell them where to click, etc. They will never learn if they don’t do it themselves.

      I taught computer skills to adult learners for years, and the number rule was “never take command of the mouse.” Just guide the student through all the necessary steps.

    7. Mrs_helm*

      Welcome to IT .
      (a) Make sure management knows you are spending time doing people’s clicks for them. If they are ok with that…ok? Get paid $xx for $x work?
      (b) Can the long list of reports be broken into a few shorter lists? Perhaps by department or topic? Does the software allow a special list by role, or a special page by person or something?
      (c) Can you get additional training or additional software that would allow the reports to be scheduled? And if not, can you use that to push back on people when they ask about that?

      1. Susan K*

        Oh man, if only I could get paid extra for doing other people’s work! Haha.

        Unfortunately, the software doesn’t have the capability of making multiple lists. It does show only the reports for our site and not the other company locations that use the software, but there is no custom filtering available beyond that.

        The new version of the software has some additional capabilities for automating processes, and I’ve been waiting for a year and a half for IT to install the new version. I actually went through a whole day of testing the new version last year, but before IT was ready to install it, a newer version was released, so I had to redo all of the testing for that version, which they still haven’t installed. Still, there is some stuff that simply cannot be completely automated, and that is why we all have jobs.

    8. lasslisa*

      In the physical world also, no process works without enforcement. If you want the assembly line workers to always move the kanban card along with the material, there has to be someone on the receiving end saying “hey, where’s my kanban card?”

      I’ve worked with a lot of automatically generated reports, and it seems like people think the report is going to look at itself for them. If it’s really important to catch things that you can’t just program in, you need a recurring meeting or a habit of checking in in person, where you go and you ask them what the latest numbers are or what they think of the latest report, just to force someone to actually look at it.

      In situations like manufacturing that call for continuous/advanced monitoring, you do usually want to have some control limits programmed in, but those won’t tell you about trends or sudden jumps unless you get real SPC software. And in that case someone still needs to look at it to determine whether it’s a false alarm. Depending on your application you might consider looking in to software solutions that can do more for you, though.

      1. Susan K*

        So true… There are some things that I technically could automate, but I won’t, because I know if I did, nobody would ever look at them. A lot of people here can’t seem to understand that the software doesn’t actually do the work. The software can generate a list of tasks that need to be done, but not do the tasks. The software can generate a report, but not take action based on what the report indicates. We do have limits and alerts programmed into the software, but again, those are only effective if people actually look at them and do something.

    9. NACSACJACK*

      Because thats the way the world is going, tilting. The technology is available to automatically run the reports and send it to people. I’ve seen it done. I’ve also been the one that was saying, “That can’t be done” and gets blown off the sidewalk by the whoosh of it getting done. As an developer of technology, I’ve seen users get less and less compute-literate. They get that way because as we make technology easier to use, people who are less computer-savvy are being hired to do the job. People used to need to look up codes to enter an item or condition into the screen. Now its all in the dropdown. No need to crack the manual. Another example is designing websites. A person used to need to know HTML , CSS and Javascript. Now they just point, click and whoosh, their website is published for them. Yet, in all of this making technology easier to use, someone has to program it to do that.

    10. Adlib*

      I realize you didn’t really ask for advice here, Susan, but we all empathize and hope you can make the situation better if you want! Now that it’s Friday, go have a drink (or not, as you wish)!

    11. LunaLena*

      Nah, I completely agree that technology is spoiling people. I say this because I used to work in promotional products, so a big part of my job was receiving art files from clients, fixing up the artwork and making a proof, and then sending it back to them for approval. I was much younger than the majority of our clients (many of who had been in the industry almost as long as I’d been alive), but I am old enough to remember the days before reliable Internet, when files had to be snail-mailed via CD or *gasp* diskettes. Instead of taking days or weeks to send out a proof from the time the order arrived on my desk, I usually had it ready within a couple of hours. But even that wasn’t fast enough for some clients: it wasn’t unusual for me to get an email demanding to know when they’d get their proof within half an hour of them emailing me the art file. Sometimes I’d get an email followed by a phone call within five minutes, and I would just want to say “remember the days before we could send files instantaneously? How did you manage back then?”

      1. presently demo*

        Do you find that the files come in with mistakes? I work in publishing and my boss likes to reminisce about the days when files came in perfectly on a disk; there wasn’t the option to send it back 5 times for revisions.

    12. Raia*

      I see this daily at work even with the ability to send automated emails. As long as my ducks are in a row and the project manager signs off that the automation is completed, I just move on to the next thing. It is not my job to babysit. I commiserate with you though.

  11. Punk Ass Book Jockey*

    I need to vent. There are 27 work days left in the year. My boss is on vacation for 17 of them. Usually I would be really excited about this, but he just spent an hour talking at me about things that aren’t due until February and demanded that I finish them all today (even though they’re relatively low-priority) because he seems to think that when he’s gone, we don’t do anything.

    1. Rayray*

      Bosses like that… Ugh!

      They’re the ones too that see someone sitting back to catch their breath or take a phone call, and assume they’re a no good slacker, even though they spend time on personal matters too.

    2. CMart*

      If… if you finish all of your work through February by today, isn’t that guaranteeing that you won’t do anything while he’s gone? As all the work will be done?

      1. Punk Ass Book Jockey*

        Not all of my work through February, just a couple things related to his pet projects. I’ll still have plenty to do, it just really effed with my project management timelines.

  12. Pam Beesly*

    I posted on here a month or so ago about a coworker coming to me in tears, saying that her husband is abusing her. She was worried for her safety, and told me the abuse had been going on for over a year. She had filed a restraining order and filed for divorce.

    Now, she has told me that she’s trying to “work things out with him”. He has been sending her flowers/gifts at the office on a weekly basi. Should I just stay out of it? I don’t know her super well on a personal level, but I was extremely worried about her when she first came to me. Just seems like he may be manipulating her.

    Again, I know I’m making some assumptions, but her emotions were raw when she told me about the abuse. He didn’t seem like the kind of person she shoudl be “working things out with.”

    1. Dagny*

      There’s a line between getting too involved and warning her.

      Abusers have a cycle of abuse, then when the person is just about to break, it’s all sweetness and flowers and apologies. This makes good, forgiving people feel like they are in the wrong if they don’t try to work things out.

      I would explain this to her, and tel her that she’s under no obligation to put up with this again – and that once he gets her back, the abuse will just start all over again. In a few months, she will be right back where she was a month ago.

    2. WellRed*

      Stay out of it. Of course he’s manipulating her; that’s what abusers do. Isn’t there some stat about how it take like, six tries on average to finally leave your abuser?

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Stay out of it. And google cycles of abuse. This is a well known thing unfortunately. She may swing back and forth for a while (years even) before actually getting out.

    4. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      The next time she brings it up, tell her about resources for emotional support, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline (or maybe one without Violence in its title – suggestions anyone?). Tell her you’re not suggesting it because you want them to talk her out of reconciliation, but that you want her to have all the support she can get, even if you’re not able to be the one to give it. I know you can’t make her use those resources…it will be up to her to call or not, but at least you can know you tried without overstepping.

      1. merp*

        I was thinking this too, make sure she’s got the phone number just in case she needs it, and honestly, I think you could call yourself if she came to you again in the future with questions – they might be able to help you help her.

    5. NB*

      I’ve been listening to a podcast Real Crime Profile in which stalking expert Laura Richards has made some observations that could be at play here. First, it takes most domestic abuse victims many attempts to leave the abuser. It’s very difficult to get away. Also, leaving is the most dangerous time for the victim. As Richards has said, individual victims know better than anyone what puts them at risk. I guess you can’t push her to leave, but make it clear that you’re there to help when she does. Maybe be ready with information regarding support services.

      It must be so hard to watch this drama unfold.

    6. Penny*

      This kind of thing is incredibly common in abusive relationships. I don’t remember the numbers, but have seen info out there about how many times an abused partner returns or decides to reconcile before finally leaving. It can be a lot. I know someone in a similar situation right now, and it really sucks to feel like the helpless friend. Unfortunately, you can’t force someone to do what you think they need to do for their own safety. I think the best you can do is make sure they have the resources they need, and make sure they know you are there for them if/when shit hits the fan again. Unless there is an imminent danger to their life — something tangible that law enforcement could do something about — I don’t think that pushing is usually productive with stuff like this. :-(

    7. AnonEMoose*

      Domestic abuse situations are so complex and hard to deal with. Unfortunately, the victim often does go back the abuser after leaving, often more than once.

      Good for you for wanting to support her, but know there may be a long and difficult road ahead. From a workplace perspective, you may want to consider workplace safety or what to do if he shows up looking for her there.

      It might help to call and talk to someone at a hotline or shelter for domestic abuse victims. They may have good tips on how to support her, and how to protect the workplace if things turn bad.

      1. Jenny*

        My sister in law has bounced from one abuser to another for years. Husband and I tried warning her against her first husband, repeatedly and it did not work at all.

        Stay alert, be supportive as you can (but prioritizing your own safety), but speaking up could very easily make her quit (or husband force her to quit).

    8. Reba*

      That’s so difficult. I’m sure people said this last time you posted, too, but look for a guest post Alison published from a commenter named Marie who has experienced this. She wrote all about what kind of workplace support would be helpful for a person in that situation.

      I don’t think the answer is “stay out of it,” but I do think you can’t argue with her about what’s going on. Just try to remain a friend and safe person to talk to (unless/until your own boundaries are crossed).

    9. londonedit*

      It’s a horrible situation to be in, and you’re right to be worried. Unfortunately, this sounds like the pattern many abusive relationships fall into – the abused party manages to get themselves out of the relationship, only for the abuser to persuade them to come back with grand promises, romantic gestures and all the appearances of having ‘mended their ways’. Sadly it’s often the beginning of another cycle of abuse, and sadly often people who have been in abusive relationships have their sense of perspective so skewed by their abuser (they’re often made to believe that the abuser’s bad behaviour is their fault, for example – they just need to ‘do better’ and the relationship will always be as wonderful as it is ‘during the good times’) and this is what makes it so hard for people to get out permanently.

      I think you can only really be there for her to support her if she needs it – make sure she knows this, but try not to pass any judgement on her decision to ‘try to work things out’. You might be able to see all the red flags a mile away, but again, abusers often tell their victims things like ‘everyone is against me’, ‘no one understands us’, ‘no one wants us to be happy’, so she might see any judgement of her situation as evidence that her abusive partner is right. You might want to leave some information about local/national domestic abuse charities in a neutral, accessible place.

      1. Natalie*

        sadly often people who have been in abusive relationships have their sense of perspective so skewed by their abuser

        It’s also worth noting that many abused people still genuinely love their partners. Typically they don’t *want* to leave, they just want the abuse to stop. (Whether that’s safe, realistic or even possible is a whole different topic entirely.) One of the really hard parts of doing DV work is accepting that and working with people where they’re at rather than where you think they’ll end up eventually.

        Pam Beesly and anyone else that finds themselves in this position, remember that you can call a hotline for support, too. We got calls like that all the time, it really is okay.

    10. mananana*

      This is not unusual — on average it takes victims of IPV 7 tries to actually leave. I suggest chatting with a consultant at the DV Hotline; they’ll provide resources and suggestions. Google “the hotline . org” or call them at 1-800-799-7233

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Absolutely call the hotline. You need to know what to do and what not to do. It’s too easy to have good intentions and end up making things worse. You’re in a tough spot. I hope you get help with this.

    11. QCI*

      I would simply say something like “You left him once for a reason, just because he’s being nice now doesn’t mean he wont go back to being the guy you were trying to run away from”
      After that it’s on her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Eh, one time I told someone their person was an abuser. That alone was enough to get this person to stop telling me about the latest episode. I knew for a fact that she was working with more than one counselor. She had help, so she just had to process things.

        It’s been about 20 years, I don’t think she has left him yet. Sometimes we can’t help no matter how badly we want to help.

    12. Argh!*

      I would consult with the police or a security agency. If she has a restraining order against him, and then drops it, you may want to find a way to keep him away from the workplace despite them ‘working it out.’ If he’s a typical abuser, after the current love-bombing, he’ll revert to type after she takes him back.

    13. Mama Bear*

      It often takes people a very long time to leave an abuser. In some cases I just remind someone that there’s an EAP service available if they need help, and stay out of the day to day details. I have a friend in a similar boat but I can’t force them to leave. I just tell them we have a spare room if they ever decide they need it. Sometimes what is most helpful is just being a friend – abusers like to demean and isolate their victims.

    14. Mid*

      From personal experience: leaving is hard. Really hard. And even when you know you want to leave and shouldn’t go back, most people end up going back several times.

      Stay out of it, but also keep the relationship open between you and coworker. Don’t try to fix it for her, even when it’s painfully obvious that she should be doing XYZ. Don’t take it personally when she makes The Wrong Choice again. But also don’t give up on her.

    15. Perbie*

      IF they ask, i think it’s reasonable to say that they deserve better, and the husband had their chance and showed who they are. Suggest they go to a support group or therapist to explore further. If they have already made up their mind you can’t change it, but it’s nice if you can offer to be a friend if they need it. Do set up boundaries for yourself though not to get too invested in other people’s problems you can’t control.

    16. Salymander*

      If you tell her that he is just manipulating her (because he almost certainly is) she will likely just feel really uncomfortable and disloyal and stop talking to you about it at all. Then, when her husband starts abusing her again, she will not feel like she can go to you for help. Being isolated makes her much more vulnerable. I know this from bitter, painful experience.

      Maybe instead you could say that you just want her to be safe and happy, but that you trust her to make her own choices for her own life. Then mention that you are there for her, and she can feel ok coming to you if anything changes for the worse.

  13. Seifer*

    What work would you do if money was no object? I’d totally be a woodworker instead of an engineer. What’s your passion project?

    1. workzone*

      I’ve always wanted to do window displays for Anthropologie. Combines my love of art and craft and business.

      1. Laura*

        Oooh! This sounds awesome!

        If you’re on instagram, check out @anne_made. She works for Altar’d State, and their Christmas display is a bunch of bells made from upside down planters. She shows the design process and everything! Super cool!

      2. Seifer*

        I read an article about someone that did that! I think it might’ve even been on Anthropologie’s site. Whoever it was, she LOVED it. I think she had her block of stores and just would cycle through them, designing and then executing.

      1. Seifer*

        I can’t do that. I would BECOME the pet rescue, ha!
        (“Look at this babyyyyy oh he needs to come home with me, STAT.”)

          1. Seifer*

            Hey, it’s okay! Money is no object in this fantasy, so just, you know, make a bigger house that has aaaall the room for pets.

    2. Wearing Many Hats*

      Fiber artist–I’d open a little shop of my work and found objects in the front of my studio.

    3. Swiper*

      Honestly, dishwasher. It was the best job I ever had. No one really bothers you, there’s no dress code, and at the end of the day you’re done. If the job does suck, you can literally just walk out and get a job next door with no professional repercussions at all. I miss those days.

      1. Seifer*

        We had a guy that would come in after his regular job and be a dishwasher. He wouldn’t tell us what he did, just that it was hella stressful and he wore suits before getting changed for dishwashing. He told me once that it was nice to get off work, come to the steakhouse and just wash dishes for like eight hours. Low stress, mindless detox activity, and he could listen to audiobooks or whatever he wanted. I thought he was weird (I was like, seventeen, ha!) but as I get older I’m like. Dude… that’s what I want… he knew what was up.

      2. Parenthetically*

        My lower back probably wouldn’t handle it, but yeah there’s something deeply satisfying about a job like that.

    4. Jabs*

      I’m lucky enough to be working a passion-adjacent job, but I would love it if people would pay me to just create my own stuff instead of having to create it for others/in a subject matter I like fine but isnt what I would do if given the choice. I sometimes wonder if it would have been easier not to try and muddle my passion and my work together, since it leaves me less energy to work on personal projects.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yeah this is basically mine too — a tour guide/re-enactor at a living museum kind of place, where I wear modern clothes one day and lead school groups around, and the next day put on a mob-cap and stays and a Brunswick and stand next to the hearth demonstrating open-fire cooking, or whatever.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’d go back to working morning stock at a store. Physically active, before the store opened so it was quiet and I got left alone to do my stuff, and it fulfilled the urge to make everything look very neat and tidy.

    6. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Probably what I am doing now, but I’d be able to not care about being paid and expand my services within the community. I really like my job and just wish I could do more of it

    7. ThatGirl*

      Photographer. Bonus points for working in a darkroom developing and printing b&w photos on film. I studied it a lot on and off from age 10-22 and even though I’m sure I’ve forgotten most of what I knew about developing, I kinda miss it.

      1. Xandra*

        Combined? I like the idea of bunnies hopping down the aisles of a yarn store… bunnies nesting in baskets of yarn.

        1. Gidget*

          100% Combined. It would be totally impractical because well the bunnies would absolutely eat the yarn, but I feel if there can be bunny yoga there can certainly be bunny yarn stores. :p

    8. MissBookworm*

      An author. I’ve always loved writing (ever since I learned) and love to read, so it always seemed perfect.

      1. Belle of the Midwest*

        Oh, yes, me too. and help provide some of the kangaroo care if their parents are not able to.

    9. Foreign Octopus*

      I’d study languages and write novels. That’s all I want to do because it sounds so peaceful.

      1. Seifer*

        Ohhhh. We went to this great distillery in Nashville and the people that were the tour guides seemed to really love what they did. It sounds so fun!

      2. Belle of the Midwest*

        I’m originally from just south of the Bourbon Trail (not far from where Maker’s Mark is produced). The Bourbon Belt is God’s country.

    10. Environmental Compliance*

      Hobby farm with sheeps and alpacas that I shear for wool, cleaning & spinning & dyeing my own yarns for sale. With a greenhouse for all my houseplant propagation needs.

      1. Seifer*

        I TOTALLY want to do that too! Though I’d probably just have goats and chickens. And then have my big woodshop. But yes to the greenhouse! My plant babes need so much sun.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          It’s actually our legitimate retirement plan. 50ish acres, mostly wooded, prefer with a water feature (wetlands + river would be best), clear out a small chunk big enough for a sustainable garden for us, a nice sized greenhouse for my other plant shenanigans, and then sheep (those Valais sheep in particular!), alpaca, a llama for giggles, ducks, chickens, a donkey and/or mule, my gelding, and a peacock or two. Maybe a couple of goats, too.

          (Hubs does not approve of the peacock because they make horrible noises, but I really want one that we can have as the unofficial Farm Guardian because then I can call it our Attack C*ck because I am a very immature person and easily entertained with stupid things).

          1. Seifer*

            I’m like seriously heart eyes right now. I’d love to have farm birds like ducks and chickens (not interested in domesticated birds like parakeets but I 1000% will cuddle a chicken) and ohhhh I forgot about alpacas! I played this video game called Harvest Moon growing up (let’s be real, I still play it) and I have always, always wanted to have a real life hobby farm because of it.

            (RE: AttackCock. Yes, a thousand times yes! I am cackling on the inside right now.)

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Harvest Moon is adorable!! I never was into games as a kid (I played Metroid, though, loved that game) and I played/play Animal Crossing, but not a lot others. I enjoy watching Stardew Valley!

              I worked at a horse rescue growing up. Ended up being more of a menagerie with all the other rescues though, lol.

              1. MsChaos*

                My two kids are 26 and 21 and they still play Harvest Moon. They’re into gaming and anime and stuff (even the older who’s in grad school), and I’ve always loved making things for their cosplays (ask me about my No-Face costume, LOL), so I’d probably do that. In fact, I plan on doing that when I retire. It’ll be boatloads of fun and I’ll make a little extra money, too, although I’ll probably spend it on traveling around to cons, which is the point!

      1. Seifer*

        YES. That’s my boyfriend’s passion project. He loves growing stuff via hydroponics but there’s not enough room for him to do it on the scale that he wants to. I love plants and building things and would totally build the greenhouse and help him build the set up.

    11. Potato Girl*

      I’d stay on top of all the life work that I never have the brainspace to manage. Keeping everything clean and organized so I wouldn’t feel so chaotic all the time and I’d actually be able to find things. Actually doing or making things myself instead of buying everything. Cooking healthy meals with more variety in my diet instead of rotating the same six or seven employment-friendly dinners. And once I’d finally caught up after a couple of months I’d start fostering cats/kittens.

    12. Amy Sly*

      Own a comfort shoe/orthotic store. When I worked comfort shoe sales, I loved quite a lot about the job — meeting people, helping them with their problems, seeing all the new shoes, even stocking the back to have lovely organized shelves — and much of what I didn’t like came from not having authority to fire bad employees or bad customers.

        1. Amy Sly*

          Lots!

          In general terms, you needs shoes that are the correct length, width, depth, and proportional such that the ball of the foot is in the widest part of the shoe. Get yourself measured — feet do change shape and size as gravity takes its toll — but remember that size is just a number. Get what fits. You’re not Cinderella and happiness isn’t conditioned on being a size 6. You’ll want shoes that have a firm shank (no, not that kind) to keep them from bending anywhere but at the ball of the foot. You’ll also do best with shoes that have a small heel-to-toe drop of half an inch or so, not completely flat. Get rid of any shoes where your foot pushes out over the sole or where the sole has worn down enough that the shoes lean to one side when you’re not in them.

          1. Amy Sly*

            For arch support, I’d have to see your feet/shoes to recommend the best specific model, but the short version is that you want to fill in any empty spaces where your foot isn’t touching the insole and increase the support near areas where you find that your foot digs through the insole. Arch supports should be like beds: soft enough to adjust to you, but firm enough to give you support; as such, I find cork based orthotics like Aetrex, Abeo, and Birkenstock better than plastic ones (Goodfeet) or gel (Dr Scholls).

            1. Amy Sly*

              As for specific brands, these all have good arch support built in: Abeo, Aetrex, Dansko, Finn Comfort, Think!, Mephisto, Kumfs, Birkenstock (though they tend to be very flat which may not be the most comfortable). For good fitting shoes that may need more support, I’m a big fan of Ecco, New Balance, and NB’s non-athletic lines Aravon for women and Dunham for men. (Hubby’s best fit is 13 6E; he doesn’t have a lot of options!)

    13. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If money was no object, I’d retire! :D

      No, really, I’d dabble in some things, but I would love to completely set my own schedule, and you can’t always do that even as a freelancer, once you take on a project or client. I might like to go back to school to study law, or bioethics, though. Maybe start a TV/movie blog, as in critiquing movies & TV shows.

    14. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      My husband and I would run our own cafe, and he would roast all the coffee. We already have a name picked out :)

    15. Admin of Sys*

      Barista. I used to think I wanted to run a coffee shop, but I really don’t, I just want to make espresso and latte art and give caffeine to people.

      1. Bee*

        I’d be a barista as well. I worked in a coffee shop all through college and it was the best job i’ve ever had. Waking up early, preparing all the coffees and tea, stocking the pastry case, the morning broken up into sets of rushes in between classes. It was the best!

    16. Amy*

      I’d run a vintage bookshop and do some photography on the side. Alas, I’m a lawyer until we’re out of debt and out of kids.

    17. ursula*

      Full-time climate activism, independent game design, or beekeeping. Or developing a holistic legal & social services co-op. Or developing a colocation plan for rural hubs that house multiple overlapping community services under one roof. My dreams are humble. (SN: I’m replaying ff8 right now, hi.)

    18. Goldfinch*

      I’d run a combination pet store/animal rescue in which the customer is NOT always right.

      No, you can’t adopt a husky because direwolves gave you a boner. No, you can’t start fishkeeping by mindlessly purchasing clownfish because your toddler is screaming for Nemo.

      But also, no, I won’t tolerate rescue workers who refuse to adopt out to anyone except wealthy DINKs with stay-at-home jobs. Regular humans in apartments can provide loving homes, too.

      I would not do a robust business, but I would attract responsible pet owners who care about their animals.

      1. Gidget*

        Here here! This is one thing I love about many of the rabbit specific rescues I have come across is that they have an education requirement (with a nominal fee that goes to the rescue) for all adopters which helps screen out less serious owners (which is especially important for rabbits).

    19. MeowYorker*

      I’d work for National or State Parks! Fresh air, physical activity, tranquility (maybe not when tourists swarm, but still), geeky nature research…

    20. OtterB*

      I’d like to do something with education for nontraditional students – GED classes for adults, mentoring first-gen college students, something along that line.

      Or something with books for middle grade readers. Read aloud to them, maybe.

      Also, I’d like to have more time for prayer and meditation. I think of the verse from “If I Were a Rich Man” in Fiddler on the Roof: “If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack / To sit in the synagogue and pray … That would be the sweetest thing of all” Except, Catholic here, so it’s not the synagogue I’d be sitting in.

    21. Qwerty*

      Honestly I’d still be an engineer. I like solving people’s problems so programming for a client or end use is more enjoyable than trying to do it as a hobby. Maybe I was mega-rich I would do it for free and just show up at certain companies and insist on fixing thing like the Mary Poppins of software development.

      1. Daydreaming Admin Assistant*

        I’ve fantasized about learning web design just so that I could kick down the door of nonprofits with outdated websites and forcibly redo them for free.

    22. JeanB in NC*

      I would own a bookstore that sold mysteries & science fiction, and children’s books in another section. It would have a community meeting place.

    23. Quinalla*

      I’d probably scale my real job back to part time (I like a lot of it, but if I had the choice I wouldn’t do it FT as I want to pursue more of my other passions) and then volunteer (food bank, library tutoring, blood donation) with some of that time, do more for women in my field (engineering) with some of the time, write/read/meditate – ie quiet, private activities – with the rest of that time.

    24. Ama*

      I would work in a yarn shop or a bookstore but I’d want to be the person in the back doing the ordering/inventory maintenance, and maybe putting together events, not sales staff. I would LOVE to have it be my job to find interesting and new yarn/knitting products and/or books.

    25. Daydreaming Admin Assistant*

      I would go do an art degree or two, then become a full-time illustrator / graphic novelist / video game artist. I’d live in a cool city and I’d rent a studio not too far from my cozy apartment. The studio itself would be private, but it would be in a building with other studios and common spaces for socializing.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        As a full-time illustrator, I will say that yes it would be the best job ever if money were no object! (You’d get to turn down all trainwreck-looking jobs)

    26. Loves Libraries*

      School librarian. I was one until the school decided librarians were too expensive. We have masters degrees. I miss the children, the colleagues , and the children’s books.

      1. Live & Learn*

        I’d be a life long student. Cooking school, photography classes, human rights law degree, travel and take classes on local issues.

    27. S-Mart*

      I’d like to say professional gamemaster (for tabletop RPGs) – but doing that 40+ hours a week would *probably* burn me out. I generate new ideas for campaigns faster than I can ever run them. I have about 11 campaigns I want to run at the moment, beyond the two I’m actively running. If I was being paid I’d be a little less bitter that nobody’s running anything for *me* to play in.

      I know people who’ve been paid to run games here & there, but never heard of it being doable as a full time job.

    28. pony tailed wonder*

      Dog walker or pet sitter. I am happy when I am out walking and I might as well take someone else along.

    29. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      I would love, love, love to work at an animal sanctuary. Maybe something with horses. I’ll take horses over humans any day. At least they don’t try to pass their shit off as something else.

    30. Windchime*

      I would be a professional quilter. I’m on the verge of buying a giant long-arm machine to do just that, but it’s super expensive and I need to rearrange my house to make it fit. I would do the super artistic, fancy kind of quilting that people pay for and enter into quilt shows. And I would knit Icelandic sweaters for people out of fancy Icelandic wool.

    31. Existentialista*

      I saw on someone’s actual work bio the title “Public Intellectual”. I would pick that!

    32. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have friends with a small motel and a smaller next-generation than is really needed to run it. I’d love to buy into it. My part would be all the hands-on bits that grandma & grandpa had as their specialties–maintenance and the shirt-order breakfast&lunch. I’d love to see it back to its funky 1950s glory, and I’d try turning a bank of 1950s phone booths into a small display case to sell local art & craft’s & jewelry.
      It’s my favorite powerball fantasy.

    33. AnotherLibrarian*

      I’m very blessed that being a special collections librarian basically is my passion project, but I’d love to get to work with different materials- paper toys and fashion history would be what I’d spend my time on rather than what I actually do spend my time on.

    34. Short & Sweet*

      Pet rescue transport! Combines my love of animals, my passion for rescue, and adds in the non-flying travel that I always want to do more of. The major thing I’d worry about is that I’ll end up with a Partridge-family style bus filled with all the animals that I’m supposed to be delivering, and instead the animals and I just end up traveling around the country picking up more!

    35. Tenebrae*

      Author! Or, since I’m in my passion field, all the interesting parts of my job and none of the boring ones.

    36. ...*

      Shih tzus only dog daycare with only 4-5 dogs at a time so I could pay extreme attention to their every need.

  14. Ok Boomer (meme of the week)*

    How do people deal with job searching burnout?

    I’ve been going on almost 2 years and I can’t muster up energy or enthusiasm in my cover letters. Government positions that I’m aiming for also take so long so the delays are even worse. (I am a freelancer but want to transition back into non-profits/government jobs because of student loans and other reasons).

    1. calonkat*

      Treat the job search as a job itself. Assign specific hours that you’ll do it, then do OTHER things the rest of the time. Also it’s ok to do the “vacation” thing when needed, just like any job.

      I deleted my personal story of woe, but trust me, doing organized job searching is itself a job. Treat it like one and separate out family/personal time to recharge yourself.

    2. DrTheLiz*

      SAME. I’m a year in, and am unemployed. It’s SO hard, especially when you’ve really put yourself into a cover letter (or whatever) and then just radio silence from the other end. I’ve got no advice but oh boy can I empathise.

    3. Formerly Frustrated Optimist*

      I don’t know that I can in good conscience recommend taking a break from searching, because if jobs are hard to come by in your field – and, if you’ve been looking for almost two years, they most likely are – you probably can’t afford to miss a posting that sounds like it would be a good match.

      This was very much my story a couple years ago, and, in fact, my job search took three years of continual searching and applying.

      As far as the cover letters, you can try developing some really solid paragraphs that you can mix, match, and tailor as needed so that you don’t feel like you’re reinventing the wheel each time.

      The only other advice I have is to allow yourself to acknowledge how crappy this feels. You don’t need to sugarcoat it to yourself or to anyone else. It was truly the worst thing I’ve gone through in my adult life. But eventually – after 146 applications – I got out. I don’t want to tell you that eventually it will all work out, etc., because I used to HATE it when people would say that. But I’ve been where you are and came out on the other side, so maybe my story will give you a little hope.

      Keep us posted here. There are many of us who would be glad to support you.

      1. Mellow*

        I was unemployed for a year a few years ago and I loved it when people told me things would work out.

        Their confidence gave me hope and motivated me to continue applying, and helped me sleep at night.

        To each her own, I guess.

    4. QCI*

      Try some gig jobs if you can. Uber, lyft, Doordash, Postmates, etc. Or part time work, just anthing to get you out and doing something.

      Unless you currently have a job/income and just looking for something else, in which case idk? videogames or something.

    5. Witchy Human*

      A year for me of looking for a job without success. It’s crappy. And it’s hard to keep going when you’re really discouraged. And, in a weird way, keeping in mind that it’s hard has helped me fight the burnout a little.

      A friend of mine once told me her attitude to online dating: “I figure every date where I don’t get murdered is a success.”

      I try to do that with job hunting. Every time I overcome my lack of inertia and pessimism to write a decent cover letter and submit an application: success. Every interview where I don’t think I’ve actually burned a bridge with the company: success.

    6. thakkali*

      I had a very, very long job search and I found that it helped me to take breaks/vacations where I did no job searching.

      The other thing I developed for myself was a points system to keep me engaged in the job search. You do so much work, and often get NO feedback (“Are my applications just falling into a black hole? I’m not even getting rejections!” etc.) SO, my point system gave me points for applying to jobs, researching companies, doing phone interviews, doing informational interviews, etc. And I set myself a points goal for each day (or a weekly goal). It helped me to stay engaged with the job search and at least FEEL like I was making progress.

      I kept track of my points, and job search brainstorms, etc. in a notebook. I also wrote myself a few lines that I read every morning before I started. These included “You only need to connect with ONE job” (because I would look at the sheer number of jobs I had applied to, and lose heart.)

      1. halfwolf*

        oh this sounds like it would VERY helpful for me! i struggle with finding internal motivation – i do best when i’m assigned things, because it’s easier for me to let myself down than someone else – so if you have time to elaborate on how you “graded” yourself i would really appreciate it!

        1. thakkali*

          Sure! Like I said, I came up with a list of common/fairly common job search activities and assigned a point number for each. If I remember, the list included: conducting a search/reviewing search results from LinkedIn/Indeed, researching resulting open positions, reaching out to people in my network, applying to jobs, phone interviews, actual interviews, sending follow-ups/thank yous.

          I gave myself more points for those activities that would inherently take more time/take more out of me (ex. interview)

    7. 1234*

      One of my job searches, I told myself “hey, this could take years so be prepared for the long haul and be willing to accept that this is a long journey.”

      I hate to say it, but most non-profit interview processes are LONG. When I interviewed for them, there were phone interview, written assignments, more phone interviews, in-person interviews…

      Have you also thought of branching out beyond government and non-profit?

    8. AnonyNurse*

      I’m much earlier into unemployment. But I feel your pain and have nothing to offer. I am doing a terrible job staying motivated.

      I do enjoy watching the impeachment hearings and reading the transcripts and stuff. So I’m convincing myself that this is a good time to be unemployed.

  15. Washi*

    Group project woes: There’s 5 of us working on a group project for my online class, and one person “Amy” has not responded to a single email. We have been using Blackboard and email going back and forth, and we had a deliverable due this week, and Amy did absolutely nothing.

    1. Amy is in one of my in-person classes. I’ve considered asking her if she is in our group, just to confirm (maybe she accidentally signed up for two? idk) but then I don’t know what to say if she says yes! Do I ask her point blank why she isn’t contributing? Ask her to start contributing?
    2. Let’s say we get to the end of the project and Amy has still done nothing. Do we tell the professor? Or let her ride our coattails?

    1. Peaches*

      I don’t have much advice, but you have my sympathies. This is why I HATED group projects in school. I remember seeing a tweet once that said, “when I die, I want all the people who I’ve worked on group projects with to lower me down in my casket so they can let me down one last time.” So. Relatable.

    2. Jabs*

      Maybe I’m terrible but I would do both: talk to her, and then if she doesn’t shape up at least a little, mention something to the professor.

      I’ll be honest and say I’ve been on both sides of this; both as the person who took on too much and just could not pull my weight, and the person pulling the group. I would go into the discussion with her without any assumptions (maybe her Mom is sick and she has already spoken to the professor, maybe your emails are getting spammed, who knows). Then I would see if you can get some sort of concrete commitment from her (like she will work on x, y, and z for the next part) so that at the very least you’re setting up expectations.

    3. merp*

      Asking her is totally fair, and so is telling the prof if she doesn’t shape up and do something. Hundred percent. I know it’s awkward, but it’s the situation she has put herself into by doing nothing.

    4. Bagpuss*

      I think you can definitely ask her, in fact you could even frame it as “Aa you haven’t responded to any messages or participated in the group, I wondered whether it was an error, or if you had inadvertently signed up for two groups and forget to withdraw from ours?”

      If she says that she is part of you group the I think it is entirely reasonable to ask her if she can check in, identify what she proposes to do / contribute- presumably you and the other members need to know in order to work out your own contributions.

      And document it and let the professor know, if she doesn’t do anything.

    5. Purt's Peas*

      I would talk with her in person at your class. First confirm that she is in the group–it’s possible she dropped the class and Blackboard didn’t update, or some BS like that. Then I’d make sure she’s getting your emails & messages, and has been around (ie not on bereavement leave or whatever). Something like, “Oh, Amy, you’re in X class and in my group for Y project right?” (Yes) “Gotcha, I’m asking cause I want to make sure you’re getting Blackboard messages & emails.”

      If no, next step is “Is there a better way to reach you?” If yes, “Ok, then I want to check in with you–we had a deliverable last week and me, Josh, and Agatha did the work for it. Can I ask you to work more closely with the group? What can we do to split up the contributions more fairly?”

      AND, yes you absolutely tell the professor. I would do so if she doesn’t participate in your next deliverable after you’ve had this conversation with her (or before). Don’t wait until the end of the project–your professor is the voice of authority here, and can either pull Amy out of your group, talk with Amy, or tell you “this happens with online classes–I’ll keep that in mind for the grading.”

    6. Enough*

      First talk to Amy. Don’t ask if she’s in your group. Just assume and explain that the group has started working and there has been no input from her. Ask if the email you have for her is correct/is she getting the information. She should hopefully have an explanation for you.
      As for informing the professor – that will depend on what information you get from Amy. At the least when you submit your work it should have the names of the people who actually did the work.
      My daughter is in graduate school (I don’t know how the teacher used the information) and she had a professor who actually asked them at the end to indicate how much of the work each member did as a percentage of the total. I have to admit I would have liked to have seen what the 2 who did the least work said. My daughter and the other student agreed on the percentages and were even a little generous with the other 2 but still indicated that they had done more than 50% (30-30-20-20).

    7. Recent Grad*

      You really should ask her in person. If she says yes then ask why she hasn’t responded to group communications. If she doesn’t want to contribute then you can communicate that with your group so there is no more confusion.

    8. JustMyImagination*

      I had a professor include a peer-grade in each group project. You graded your partner’s contributions and had to provide details to support your claim and he factored that into individual grades. If the whole group gave you an F and said you didn’t participate you would not earn the group grade.

      If she says yes, perhaps something like “Because you haven’t been very involved to date. Is there a better way than the Blackboard to get in touch with you?”.

      1. Argye*

        This. I don’t give group work without some sort of peer evaluation that impacts the grade. There’s too much opportunity for abuse otherwise. Washi – does your prof not have something like that implemented?

    9. Parenthetically*

      Absolutely communicate with Amy and your prof. And in the future you can be way more proactive! You don’t have to wait until you’re turning in assignments without one group member’s participation!

      “Hi Amy, I’m assuming there’s some kind of miscommunication here. We had Deliverable X due this week and it had to be sent off without your participation because we have not heard from you since the start of the project. Please get back to us ASAP re: the next assignment. Thanks. I’ll follow up with you in class on Tuesday in case we have the wrong email address.”

      “Hi Professor Kratsch, as you can see from our Blackboard screenshot below, Amy Hua was assigned to our group. She has not responded to any of our group emails thus far, and we had to turn in our assignment last Thursday without her participation. I spoke to her today in class and she confirmed she was in the group and we have her correct email, but she still has not responded. Our plan is to proceed without her input. Is this email sufficient notice to you that she has not participated to date? Should we plan to continue to keep you apprised? Thank you. Washi, on behalf of Ann, Kamal, and Beto.

    10. Quinalla*

      Yes talk to her in person to make sure there isn’t some technical glitch or mix up or whatever on her part. If she continues to have zero participation, yes bring it up with your professor! It is one thing if you have someone slacking a bit in a group and others pulling extra weight, kind of happens in all group project, but someone doing nothing? Do not let that stand!

    11. Sabrina*

      As someone who assigns group work, I’d actually suggest telling the professor now rather than waiting until the end, if talking to her doesn’t get you anywhere. Sometimes there are things we can do to fix things like this, both for your group and maybe for the non participating member, but we can’t do much at the end. And we also might have context you don’t about the student who isn’t participating.

    12. Summertime*

      I definitely agree with everyone above to approach her without judgment and ask. If she’s got something going on where she can’t participate as actively as she normally could, you could assign her a more individual task. For example, draft the slides for the powerpoint presentation and then assign the more involved tasks such as deciding on a topic and what you want to cover to the rest of the group.

      Give her an opportunity to shape up! But at the same time be cautious that you might need to step in if Amy isn’t contributing or responding to communication. Unfortunately, you will have to manage Amy in a way. You are giving her candid feedback and asking her to do something to improve the situation and then monitoring to see if she pulls through.

      I would recommend that if Amy communicates that she knew about the project and didn’t care to contribute, you should communicate this to your professor immediately. Send an email and say “I have been communicating with Amy through Blackboard and email regarding this week’s deliverable since last week and she has not been responsive. She has so far had no contributions to the deliverable due this week. I spoke to her in class regarding this and she indicated that she had received the emails but [Insert Amy’s bogus reason here]. I stressed to Amy that we need her contributions in order to complete this project fairly between all the members. I am writing to communicate the situation, so you are aware of what is happening. Can we communicate to you at the end of the project whether we have all worked together successfully through an peer grading system?”

      An old professor of mine required that we review each team member at the end of project on their level of contribution. He also emphasized that if we experienced an issue, we should address it as soon as we saw it to give that person a chance to improve instead of blindsiding them at the end with the review.

      All in all, don’t feel guilty about reporting a poor performer because they should not be getting the same recognition or grade as those who are contributing.

    13. Cat Fan*

      I had the same thing happen when I was in an online class. I let the professor know that only two out of the three of us in my group were doing the work. It affected the non-contributing person’s grades. The professor told him my comments and he actually wrote to me asking why I said it. I said because this is what happened. An and gave him examples of all the times he made plans to do stuff and then never materialized. And that was the end of it.
      In your case, I’m not sure how it would hurt to ask this person if she’s in your group and then see where the conversation goes from there. if she says yes and then still doesn’t do anymore, I definitely would tell the professor. Some people need to learn the hard way that they can’t just let other people pick up their slack.

    14. Squidhead*

      The Blackboard system where I just finished a program would allow you to email classmates through the course interface. Super handy! Except they showed up in the recipient’s school inbox as being from “[student] @ school.edu” and only if you hovered over the name would you see that it redirected to “do-not-reply @ school.edu” After a semester or two (it wasn’t an entirely synchronous program) most people caught on. I’d give her the benefit of the doubt once and then loop the instructor in if things don’t immediately improve. On the one hand, technology can be annoying. On the other hand, it’s not like she shouldn’t generally be aware of the existence of this project. She could have emailed you guys, too.

  16. I really need advice here*

    Well hello, readers. I am back at it again with yet another bad situation. I just found out that my boss is changing our health insurance plan due to “financial circumstances” and it will end up costing me hundreds more each month. The real kicker is that the person that does payroll told us that my coworker, Jeff, who is the boss’ friend, just got a $30,000 a year raise. Yes, I know she shouldn’t have told us, but here we are now. No one else in the office will be getting raises this year and now we are going to have our health insurance, that neither my boss nor Jeff are on, to pay for it. As an aside, per our employee manual (which was last updated the week before I was born) states that our employer will cover 100% of our premium. Currently and in the new plan, our employer will only be covering 80% of our premium. I am planning on using this information to fight back against these ridiculous plan changes (my out of pocket is going from $500 to $4,500). Any advice?

    1. voyager1*

      Don’t bring up the 30K. Ask about the employee manual part though. Most manuals have the disclaimer that they can change at any time.

      1. I really need advice here*

        I know, I haven’t brought up the raise since it is inappropriate. But it was really difficult when my boss was telling me about all of our financial problems to not say anything. Our employee manual has no such disclaimer. It states “Group medical and hospitalization insurance is provided to all employees at no cost to the employee after 30 days of employment.”

      1. I really need advice here*

        Working on it, but I have only been in this job for 10.5 months. Going to start seriously looking after one year.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Start NOW. First off, it might easily take a month and a half to get an interview and get hired. Second, you need to get out ASAP, unless all your other jobs were less than a year it’s unlikely anyone will even care, even if they notice, your length of tenure with your current employer.

        2. Quill*

          Start now, if you’re in the US, many industries basically don’t make any progress on hiring throughout november and december. It could take a month from application before you even get an interview!

        3. crchtqn*

          You should start looking immediately. It takes a long time to find a new job depending on your market. Even when I’ve suddenly sprung up on a job, it took 1.5 months to go to the new one after interviews and 2 weeks notice.

          1. Natalie*

            That would be a helluva insurance plan. I think they’re talking about the deductible, not the premium.

            1. Doug Judy*

              Yes. That sounds like the out of pocket cost/deductible. It’s not monthly because some people that would literally be more than they make a year.

              And honestly, $4,500 out of pocket a year is pretty average these days.

        4. M*

          Start looking now. This shitty company has given you the silver lining of a very clear-cut reason to give for why you’re looking to move jobs so quickly after starting at this one. “They’re changing healthcare plans, and the new plan will increase my out-of-pocket by 900%” is a pretty simple answer to a concern you might be a job-hopper, you’ll be fine even if you *do* get interviews immediately after starting looking.

    2. I really need advice here*

      Well if anyone is still following this, I finally snapped. My boss came into my office to say that I shouldn’t be upset since it isn’t that bad of a policy (it will cost me about $260 more per month). To which I responded that “savings for our company should not be done on the back of your lowest paid employee.” So that happened.

        1. I really need advice here*

          He said sorry and walked out. Just sent an email that he’s here if I want to talk to him.

          1. WellRed*

            Oh dear. I mean, I totally get it and am angry on your behalf but you are not the only one getting hit with this change (You aren’t, are you?). You should talk to him, but deep breaths first and plan what you want to focus on. It’s huge increase all at once.

            1. valentine*

              What if you say the sudden change is extremely difficult to weather and ask him to honor the 100% coverage this year? You’ll have bought yourself a year.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Sounds to me like the payroll person is ‘in on it’ as well as your boss and Jeff. Is it possible that they are spreading outrageous (false) information to get people to be so incensed they will move elsewhere and quit?

  17. Orange Crushed*

    I’m new to the business/office world, so pardon my ignorance, but is it normal for managers to not greet you until you say good morning to them? I’m in a low level position and there are managers who will greet one another, but basically ignore me unless I greet them. I always say good morning, even if they don’t, but I can’t figure out if it’s a ranking thing or personality thing? (Or both?) Others will greet my coworkers or people they know, except me. I’m new, but it’s awkward because my department is very small.

    Any ideas or input is appreciated.

    1. The Meow*

      That’s obnoxious of them to not greet people because they are more junior to them. That’s super weird and I judge them for it.

    2. Okay*

      I think it depends on the office. People in my office almost never greet one another unless we happen to pass in the hall and make eye contact.

      1. Joielle*

        Same here. We’re all pretty independent and don’t really rely on each other to do our day to day work, so there’s no need to know if people are here or check in or anything. I just say hi to whoever I happen to see.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      I think that’s weird. When I had reports at my old job, I always made it a point to swing by their desks in the morning to say hello and make sure they were all set for the day. My current manager makes it a point to do a cubicle round at least once a day to say hi and check in with people.

      1. Clisby*

        I would think having a manager come by my office/desk every day to say hello was extremely weird. Fortunately, I never had one who did that.

        Typically, I’d expect managers to greet their reports if they pass them in the hall or something like that – unless they’re deep in conversation with someone else.

        1. MyDogIsCalledBradleyPooper*

          I had a manager that would do this. He would come by early in the morning and chat with you one-on-one for about 5 minutes. We would cover almost anything from the game last night to project updates. This is how he connected with people. I haven’t been able to do this and make it feel natural I am too introverted. A weekly one-on-one with my people feels like a visit to the dentist for me but I get that it is part of my role. Of course, if I pass someone in that hall regardless of their role/rank I say hello, how’s your day going. That is just common courtesy.

    4. T. Boone Pickens*

      I think it’s a little rude but it’s not entirely out of the norm. I like giving out good mornings when I see colleagues because I’m generally a positive person and I like to kick off the day on a good note. If I don’t get one back it doesn’t affect me in any way as I just assume the person didn’t hear me/doesn’t feel like talking (which is perfectly fine btw, some folks just don’t like talking/had a bad start to their day/millions of other reasons.). The key is to keep it moving as you’re giving the greeting or if you sitting at your desk, say hello and then go back to whatever it is you were doing before. Don’t wait for a response back as that might make it weird, especially if the person you greeted didn’t hear you and you’re just standing/sitting there looking at them.

      I had a previous manager where it was a 20% they would greet you, 80% you needed to greet them. That being said it was pretty easy to tell when they were having a good morning or not since they had a door that directly went to their office. If they walked through the cube farm, chances are they were looking for a greeting/doling them out. Straight to the office meant give them 30 minutes unless you had an urgent issue.

    5. Madeleine Matilda*

      I come in very early in the morning and only one of my direct reports is in before. I always say hello to him as I walk by his desk. The others I’ll greet if I run into them in the hallway or need to go ask them something. But my direct reports are spread all over our building so I don’t even see all of them everyday. I’ve worked with people who don’t want to be bothered first thing in the morning and others who want to talk. It really just depends on the person.

    6. Earthwalker*

      I had an introverted boss who made a point of taking an odd path from the entrance to his office every morning just to avoid the need to greet anyone. Is it possible that your boss isn’t looking down on subordinates but is just not comfortable with playing the extrovert?

    7. Mama Bear*

      Depends on the job. I had a manager who disliked it when I did not say hello and good bye. Current manager doesn’t care – if I see them, I’ll say hi, but I don’t seek them out every morning.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      To me it’s a personality thing.
      Ignore it.

      These things can change with time. I worked with a boss from another department. I’d say, “Good morning!” and he would say, “What’s so good about it?”. We did this for a while. Knowing the personality, I laughed it off and switched up what I was doing. I started saying, “Morning!” and he’d say, “What’s so good about it?”. I would reply it was just a statement of fact with no editorial comment. And we had this conversation every day for a while.

      Finally one day IT happened. I walked in “morning!” and he simply said, “morning!”. Unfortunately this person passed away. Had he lived we would have worked on him saying morning first. Since it took 5 years to get to where we were at, I estimated it would be another 10 years before he initiated the good mornings.
      He was only a few years older than me when he passed. I am glad that I kept trying and didn’t let it bother me.
      I basically liked him and a bunch of us cried when he died.
      Try, try, try not to get too hooked on who says good morning and when. I know it’s hard but sometimes there is a larger story running in the background.

    9. LilySparrow*

      It’s a personality/culture thing. They just aren’t very nice.

      There are about the same proportion of jerks in management as everywhere else, but some industries and companies seem to collect them.

      1. LilySparrow*

        Caveat: I read the question as if these folks are walking right past you and greeting others but passing you over. That’s a jerk move.

        If they are not passing you but you hear or see them greeting others in a different part of the office, that’s pretty standard. Some managers make rounds to greet everyone, but it’s not common.

    10. WalkedInMyShoes*

      Keep saying, “hello!” Some professionals don’t have an emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ). I like to start my days on a positive not, but if the person does not . . . it’s ok. At least you are a positive presence.

  18. boringname123*

    If you were going to give notice today and wanted to do give the equivalent of two weeks notice (the offices are closed the 28th & 29th for Thanksgiving), what date would you suggest for your last day?

    1. Also a project manager*

      I’d go with December 6th. In my office, it’s safe to assume there will be no one around from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving til the Tuesday after (11/27 – 12/3), so pushing till Friday the 6th would give the full 2 weeks’ notice.

    2. wingmaster*

      I would probably have the last day to be 12/2. At my company, I get paid for the 29th, so I would want to make sure to get that extra $ for the paid holidays.

    3. Penny*

      I would probably try to give 10 working days, unless there was a compelling reason that that couldn’t work for me. I would hope that your new employer (assuming your are giving notice because of a new job) would understand that someone would want to give the equivalent of two full weeks notice.

    4. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Since Thanksgiving is at the end of the month, I’d go with 12/6. However, double-check that there are no benefits to starting at the beginning of December. I was in a similar position last year, except Thanksgiving was earlier. So it behooved (eligible for the following year-end bonus, got December’s optional holidays, etc.) me to make my last day the Wednesday before the holiday and start working before the 1st of December.

      1. Bubbles*

        This! Check with your new company. When I switched, I picked Dec 1 as a start date and kick myself for not picking Nov 30th. My health insurance and other benefits would have started in January rather than February.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          I forgot to mention that! My health insurance started the next calendar month so I had zero gaps in coverage. All in all, it was the best move *for me*. I didn’t want to leave my old company in the lurch. But, at the same time, they won’t look out for me as well as I will.

        2. Mama Bear*

          And also double check any vesting periods on anything at the old company – I missed being another step vested by leaving one of my early companies 2 weeks too early.

    5. Amy*

      Just ask! “Two weeks notice would result in my last day being November 29th. With the Thanksgiving holiday and various leave requests in this department, I know that is unlikely to be a convenient date. What makes more sense to you? Should I plan to wrap up my work prior to the holiday, or return to finish up for a day or two afterwards?”

    6. ElizabethJane*

      How much do you like your company and what’s the start date of your new job?

      I left a job I hated over Christmas 2 years ago and followed the letter of 2 weeks. I had PTO scheduled for the week between Christmas and New Years, and my boss was out of the country at the time, which means I gave them 2 working days notice. But that’s what happens when you treat your employees like crap.

      On the other hand if I loved my job I’d give as close to 10 working days as possible, including trying to push back my start date at my new company to make it work.

    7. Ms Cappuccino*

      It would depend if I needed to be out in 2 weeks or not. If I had something scheduled I would still give 29th Nov at my last day.
      Otherwise, I would give 2 more working days so Tuesday 3rd December, but only if they are a good and respectful employer.

    8. CAA*

      Just be aware that in a lot of companies your last day cannot be a holiday. Sometimes it’s just a company rule about having to work the day before and/or after in order to get holiday pay. Sometimes it’s a complication of state laws that say your final paycheck has to be delivered to you on your final day of work, and they’re not going to make other people work on a holiday just to produce your final check.

      Therefore if you give the 29th as your final day, they may come back and say it has to be the 27th, so you’ll be out two days of pay. If you’re not willing to lose those two days, then give Friday, December 6th as your final day.

      1. Daisy-dog*

        ^^Precisely! Though I actually know people that would flat out say, “Lol, nope!” if you tried to make the 29th your last day. Maybe your company is nicer than that.

  19. Loves Libraries*

    From the 9/27 open thread. We had anon for this post about a possible coverup with some compliance issues. OP thought their company and made a small mistake and boss was denying it. I don’t think there ever was an update. I’ve been thinking about the OP and wondering how everything is.

    1. Anon for this*

      Hey! I think you’re talking about me… I posted about discovering a regulatory violation that I believe we need to report, and our branch legal department agrees, but management doesn’t want to report and claims that the corporate legal department says we don’t have to.

      I don’t really have much of an update at this point because nothing has been decided yet. If we do end up reporting it, it goes into our annual compliance report to the regulatory agency, which will be in early 2020, so I still have some time. I will post a real update when I get a final decision, though!

  20. Moving*

    What’s the most effective way to network one’s way into a job in a different part of the country where you don’t know a soul?

    Compounding the issue, my field tends to be in areas I don’t want to live in, so I’m probably looking at a career change using “transferable skills.” I’m really not sure where to start here.

    1. pally*

      Find professional organizations in industries in the area you wish to work in – and that you wish to work in.
      Find if they have a local chapter in the area you will be working in. If so, ask about networking events, meetings, job search assistance, introductions, etc. If you are not a member, ask about reduced dues (for being a newbie in the industry or not having a job in the industry).

    2. consultinerd*

      An ideal way would be to switch to a remote role in your current field, move to the area you’d like to live in, and build your network there. Obviously this isn’t feasible in many fields, but after two years of job hunting remotely this is what finally worked for me.

      If you can’t do this, trips to your target area to attend professional events and meet people face to face might be the next best thing if you can swing it financially.

  21. Princess Nectarine*

    Today’s question is about: references!

    I’ve never given references to an employer before (I’m not from the US and it’s not in our hiring culture to do it) but I’m applying for jobs abroad and so I know I will have to real soon. How should I go about it? I have so many questions!

    – Do I need to prepare a list on Word with the name, phone numer, email and company name of every single person who’s willing to be a reference for me? Do I need to add any other information? And how should I format the list?

    – How far back should I go for references? I’ve had a total of three jobs in the past, and I started the first one about seven years ago.

    – How many references are too many (or too little)? Basically what’s the ideal number of references one should offer? I know I have at least three good references for each of my last two jobs, and I think I can get at least two from the first one. Is this an ok quantity?

    – Do I have to have this list ready after I pass the phone interview and schedule a second one? Or should I do it before then?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Typically I list them like this:

      Jane Smith, design manager, Teapot Industries (so, their current title)
      directly managed me at Teapot Industries (how they know me)
      e-mail address, phone number

      I usually have 3 or 4 unless the company specifies; I think 7 years is fine, I wouldn’t go back more than 5-10 unless the job is directly applicable and specialized somehow. Just make sure they’re people who will give you a good reference!

      1. ThatGirl*

        Oh, and you should have the list ready to go when you’re seriously job searching, but don’t send it until asked.

    2. merp*

      I made a template that had the same top part (with like my name and email and stuff) as my resume to use for both cover letters and lists of reference. And then depending on the job, I would choose the people to add, however many they asked for, which was usually 3. Those entries looked like:

      Felicia Porridge
      Title at Institution (which would match the institution name where I worked with them; if they had moved on somewhere else, I would specify where I worked with them)
      Phone number
      Email

    3. wingmaster*

      My format is like this:

      Name, Title, Company
      Relationship:
      Email:
      Phone:

      Most companies I have interviewed for will ask for 2-3 references. I think having 3-4 is solid. And I will only give my list when asked.

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      You should have a list ready to go — you could have a master list with several possibilities if you want to give yourself flexibility (I usually have five people “on deck”), but the one you hand to the employer should have three people on it. The list should have each person’s name, their position and your working relationship (Sansa Stark, Queen of the North, Direct manager during my time at Winterfell). It should have the email and phone number for each reference.

      Ideally, when you start your job search, you should reach out to each person, tell them you are starting a job search, and ask if they are willing to be a reference. Heck, it’s a great opportunity to network! Then, when a potential employer asks for references, contact the three you’ve chosen and let them know — “I’ve gotten to the final stage with the Three-Eyed Raven, so they may be reaching out to you. Let me know if you have any questions. I’d greatly appreciate it if you let me know if they contact you.” Hand the employer the list.

    5. Penguin*

      U.S. convention is (generally) to provide the contact info for 3-5 people who can speak to your working skills, attitude, etc. Typically these would be past managers/supervisors as what a hiring manager would want to know about you is the sort of information that someone in a supervisory position would have. If it’s been an especially long time between job changes for you (i.e. if you stayed at one job for ten years) such that previous supervisors couldn’t comment on “recent you” then often professional recommendations from peers are acceptable, although the more senior they are the more acceptable they are often considered.

      Some companies demand references as part of the application process, but it’s more typical to ask applicants for references only after they’ve moved through the bulk of the process,when a hiring manager has a final short list of candidates (i.e. after you, as the applicant, have been interviewed).

      Assuming you have talked to your potential references and they have agreed to act as such (if you haven’t done that, do that first; don’t just assume that a past supervisor will be a reference for you if you haven’t requested it) it’s generally considered polite to reach out to them at the beginning of your job search to let them know that you’re searching and that they may be contacted be potential employers. If you haven’t talked with them in a while, this is also a good time to check in and make sure that they’re still willing to be a reference for you.

      Once your 3-5 references have confirmed recently that they’ll talk to prospective employers about you, then yes you should have their contact info in a Word doc (or better, a PDF because those are less editable and so less prone to formatting glitches) along with each reference’s name, title, and usually a one line description of their professional relationship with you (e.g. “supervised me at Teapots Inc.”, “oversaw my performance as Llama Groomer and Senior Llama Groomer at Lhasa’s Llamas”, etc.). Once an employer requests your references, you’d send them that list. (You should have that reference list ready to go before or immediately after you start your job search, so that you can send it out immediately if an employer moves quicker than you expect.)

      Others may offer different suggestions, but I’d say formatting doesn’t need to be particularly complex- bold the name, maybe italicize the title, and probably enter each piece of info on its own line, like this:
      John Smith
      Senior Teapot Designer
      Tom’s Teapots
      Email: tsmith@tomsteapots.com
      Phone: 555-666-7777
      >Supervised my performance for two and a half years

      Alison has a bunch more information on references in the ‘references’ tag; definitely check that out too.

    6. Quinalla*

      Typically at least 3 references, the more managers on that list the better, but at least one manager if you either don’t have access to more than one for whatever reason. I have it ready once I am interviewing, but I don’t send it/volunteer it until asked for it (have an electronic copy and paper copies both, less people use paper, but it is nice to have it on hand if requested at an in person interview). The reason to wait until it is asked for is so you can give your references a heads up that they may be contacted soon. Also, you should let them ask so they get it in the part of their process where they are checking references. If you give it too early, they will likely lose the info anyway or might decide to check your references early for no good reason. You don’t want to waste your references’ time!

  22. Alternative Person*

    One of my less nice co-workers decided to pick an argument today, the managers played placation. I talked with one of the managers later and felt like he wanted to smooth the issue over rather than resolve it and just urgh. I don’t like this guy, but I try to be polite, he doesn’t even pretend to respect me. The manager wanted to make it about personal difference when I think there’s a clear respect issue here.

    (not looking for advice just wanted to vent. My insomnia has been bad this week and this was the last thing I needed. Broke my usual rule of not playing games during the work week to try and burn off the worst. Have just made cocoa)

    (It was a stupid thing, the co-worker decided he wanted to use the room I was in (note decided, not ask), I said no, there are two others available, he said I need it as my stuff is in here. I said I’m already set up in here, just move your stuff (basically two light boxes and a file, he moved my stuff, I moved it back and told him no again, managers made us both move. I threw a parting comment about it being rude to touch other peoples stuff without permission and walked out).

    1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      So you say you’re working with a total douche bag? My condolences. And don’t you just love it when the asshole that started the problem isn’t the one who is just supposed to suck it up and be nice? Urgh, indeed. I felt compelled to comment b/c it is the end of a HARD week and I am having insomnia problems too.

    2. Salymander*

      This guy sounds like an entitled jerkass.

      Manager sounds like one of those teachers who give the whole class detention when only one or two kids are misbehaving.

      This just sucks. Exactly the sort of thing that cocoa was made to remedy.

  23. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Work clothing questions!
    1. Are the Betabrand (and similar) yoga-pants-dress-pants really all they’re cracked up to be? Like, are they really similar in comfort to yoga pants? Do they really look like dress pants in person, or close enough for government work? I’ve been working from home full time for more than five years, so my work wardrobe is limited at best, but I’ve been nominated for, and submitted my application to, an executive leadership training program through my organization which will involve some on-site situations, including meetings with our C-suite level folks. I haven’t seen these type pants in person and I’m hesitant to spend $80 on them without further information.

    2. My best friend has been getting ads on her social media hocking indestructible tights/hose from sheertex dot com. We have both been boggling at the idea of paying $60 for pantyhose – is anyone familiar with this brand, and are they really all they’re cracked up to be?

    1. no kind of atmosphere*

      I think that if you’re going to be doing executive leadership training and meeting with C-suite folks, best to get real dress pants, and avoid anything spandex or stretchy.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s definitely a thing to consider, but I’m also going through some physical size fluctuations that I’m hoping to accommodate with minimal shopping, so I’m just pondering my options :)

        1. no kind of atmosphere*

          If it’s changes around your waist, I’d say get the larger size pants and then use belts. If you’re going down sizes, you can get things tailored smaller progressively as needed.

          But if you don’t expect to be fitting into clothing long, for sure go with the cheap options. Get the cheap terrible quality stuff that doesn’t last, because you don’t need it to.

        2. Awkward Interviewee*

          I think if you need to be formal enough for C-suite meetings, dresses are probably a better bet? You should be able to find some dresses that look nice but aren’t super fitted – I had some regular wrap dresses and shirt dresses that I was able to wear through most of my second trimester when I was pregnant last year. (I assume you are a person who wears dresses since you asked about pantyhose.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I am, though I usually prefer long skirts so I don’t have to worry about pantyhose. Good thought!

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            (I was asking about the pantyhose for my friend, I’m constitutionally incapable of making it through a day without exploding a pair of hose into shreds and ladders so I wouldn’t pay $60 for a pair under any circumstances :) )

          3. Mama Bear*

            Wrap dresses and nice camisoles can fit at a variety of sizes. They are my go-to. Wish I could tell you about the pants or tights.

    2. Rayray*

      On number 1, I don’t know about those pants specifically but I have a couple pairs of Ponte pants from Costco that I like. I think full price was $14.99, and one pair on sale for $9.99. Definitely not the most flattering, not good if you work where people are in tailored suits and such but for the typical business casual workplace, they’re fantastic.

      1. Nesprin*

        Seconded- I’m wearing my costco ponte pants (hillary radley brand I think) and look great for my buis. casual office.

    3. just a small town girl*

      sheertex has been on my to-buy list for ages. I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen of them in person(a coworker has a pair) but I haven’t bought them myself. I have a 15% off coupon but I’m still holding off on pulling the trigger because…yeah, $60 is a lot.

    4. WellRed*

      I bought a pair for a work trip last month and wore my pair over two very long days. They were comfy, fit and length as advertised and the fabric had a good “weight” to it. Yeah, they were about as comfy as my yoga pants. They arrived quickly (I did pay extra shipping) and The customer service seemed really excellent if you might not like them and need to return. I say give them a try!

    5. It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s SuperAnon*

      I tried them and was disappointed. They felt good and were a decent material, but I had a giant camel toe. Tried different colors, sizes, styles and all of them looked wrong on me. I’m typically a size 8P and don’t have this problem with other pants OR yoga pants/leggings.

      I really wanted to love them but I was so self-conscious walking around my house that I knew I wouldn’t ever wear them and ended up returning them all.

    6. Schnoodle HR*

      Betabrand: For casual office, sure but they are obviously made of stretchy material, and are either unflattering or a little too sexy for true professional wear. Unless you wear a longer shirt to cover the butt and make sure to get the correct size.

      I think you’re better off going to NY&Co and picking up some dress pants there. They also have their own version of the stretch work pants to help you get an idea of what that would look like.

    7. mananana*

      I have some incredibly comfortable Dana Buchman knit pants (with pockets!) that are professional and very comfortable. Under $25 at Kohls.

      1. no kind of atmosphere*

        Kohls is great! I’ve also had good luck getting professional pants for cheap from Zappos (yes, the shoe website).

    8. Another JD*

      They don’t really look like dress pants.

      The thrift store was my best friend for changing sizes post-pregnancy. I could try tons of brands in one place, and the pants were $7.

    9. Amy*

      I love these pants! The non-pocket versions are “close enough for government work,” but the versions with real side and back pockets look exactly like dress pants, even up close. I’ve pulled them off with a jacket in court and been complimented on my new suit. They do not suck you in, so in that aspect, they’re not exactly like yoga pants. Otherwise, they are just as comfy, never wrinkle, breathe well, keep you fairly warm, and are thick enough not to show any weird bulges. They also resist pet hair and haven’t pilled at all despite very frequent wears and washing. If they were cheaper, I’d have a 100. They often have 20% off coupons and promotions, and they do new color releases for every season. You can also join and “vote” on new designs, then you get a discount on it if a design you voted on gets manufactured, so you can easily bring the price down into the $60 range.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Totally agree with all said in the above comment. I’m in a government role on the business-casual spectrum, and swear by these. I have 4 pairs of these that I basically wear all the time now – they’re very comfortable and do look like office pants. I wore mine to each of this job’s interviews, and feel professional in them. I can totally get that these might not work for all figures, but I’m not a tiny person (5’7″ and ~190lb, hourglass with some lumps) and I’m a big fan.

    10. I have these pants*

      The Betabrand dress pants yoga pants do feel comfy like yoga pants. The fabric is fairly thick (not like thin legging material), and if you get one with a work-pants-like pattern (eg I have a pinstripe pair), it looks sufficiently close to work pants in a typical business-casual office environment – but probably not enough to pass in a more formal environment (eg a place where people are in business suits or suit jackets).

      However, the fit is a bit more yoga pant than dress pant. I don’t have any issue with camel toe with my pair, but because it is more fitted in the hips and crotch than normal dress pants, it does clearly show the curve of my inner thighs where they kind of swoop out a bit right below the crotch, and the seat is a tad bit snug for an office environment in my opinion. If you have a more straight/less curvy body type they might look fine on you. For myself, I only wear them with longer blouses to de-emphasize the fitted-ness in the seat/crotch

      Overall, I think the fit in the seat/crotch is a bit too yoga-pants to tuck in a shirt and have them still look like dress pants. But if you are less curvy and wore a regular length untucked shirt, or if you are more curvy and wore a longer untucked shirt, you could make them work. I find the comfort is worth having to wear longer shirts, and they actually are my favorite work pants.

      In terms of sizing, definitely follow the sizing chart. I am 5’3 and an hourglass-y pear shape and would normally expect to wear an XS petite, but the S petite fit better. I did still need to hem them because I wanted to wear them with flats.

      1. Joielle*

        I 100% concur on the pants. I love them for my nice-end-of-business-casual workplace, but if it’s a suit and tie environment they probably wouldn’t be dressy enough. I was right between medium and large according to the size chart so I bought a large and that was the right call. I’m also pear shaped and they are pretty form-fitting, which doesn’t bother me, but I do usually try to wear a longer shirt.

    11. Qwerty*

      Betabrand tends to look more like yoga pants than dress pants, especially in the waist/upper thigh area.

      With stretchy fitted pants, I recommend going up a size so that it doesn’t look like you are wearing tights/leggings. Stretchy-style pants tend to look tighter than we intend.

      I’ve had good luck with Old Navy’s Pixie pants, though the color/pattern/fabric affects whether they look like dress pants or stretchy pants. Try them on in a store though – the stretchiness/stiffness varies by fabric so you need to try them on first. The stiffer fabrics I can sometimes buy in my size, but the stretchy one I definitely have to go up at least one size to be “professional”. They often go on sale for $20-30, so they could hold you over while you find something more long term.

    12. Delta Delta*

      I was walking down the street and overheard two women walking behind me. One told the other she had a pair and declared them “amazing.” Was prompted by them talking about random ads they saw on Facebook. The owner of the pants mentioned she saw the ad and gave them a try and loves them. She was not wearing them at the time so I couldn’t see how they looked but she sounded sincere. Made me think I might want to try them.

    13. Coco*

      I own maybe 6 pairs? I bought the short length. I’m 5’2” and def need heels. Even with the same style, with the different fabrics, the stretch can be different. I like the ones with the higher waist, 6 buttons, and real pockets. There’s the same amount of camel toe on these as with other yoga pants so I wear them with longer shirts/ sweaters. They are v comfortable but if you don’t have a thigh gap there can be some pilling in the inner thighs after a while for some of the more tweed like patterns (don’t have that problem with the solids). Despite all of this, they are v comfy and I get compliments on them so recommend. (When you use coupons/ sales)

    14. Effie, who gets to be herself*

      I adore Sheertex! I haven’t tried the pantyhose/tights so can’t speak to sizing there. I wear thigh-high stockings almost every day so I own several pairs of the classic stockings, two pairs of the swizzle socks, and two pairs of knee-highs. They can snag and it really is easy to massage the fibers back into place. My best friend has long fake nails and I gave her a test sock to try and poke through and she couldn’t. They do have sales once in a while, so maybe try a pair then? I’ve found that they’re super worth it; I haven’t had to stop and hunt for another stocking when my toenail poked through because my toenails don’t poke through Sheertex!

  24. LilacLily*

    I applied for a job at a company that’s part a very well known university in the UK, and about a week and a half later I got an email saying I was being invited for an interview. I was really happy at first, but when I read the email more carefully I realized they were inviting me for a face-to-face, one-and-a-half hours long interview, without doing a phone interview first. I emailed the person who’s handling the process and explained that I cannot attend the interview personally because I’m in a completely different country, and asked if the interview could be done via Skype instead; she answered that the panel didn’t know how to deliver the task I was supposed to do during the interview via skype (they mentioned I’d have to take a test of some sort) so they’re going to interview the candidates they have and if the position isn’t filled they’ll “consider requesting a skype interview” with me.

    am I right to think this was a huge red flag and that I may have dodged a bullet? Why invite me for a local interview without doing a phone interview first? I considered paying out of my own pocket to go to this interview, but it would make more sense to do that if this was the last interview in the process, but this is only the first.

    Another red flag is that I found one of the interviewers on LinkedIn, and I saw that when she began working for this company she was hired for the same position that I applied for, but it took her FIVE YEARS before getting a promotion. As someone who’s trying to move up in her career that scared me a little bit.

      1. JustMyImagination*

        It also depends where you are in your career. I work in the biotech area and in the beginning you seem to get a promotion every 2-3 years. But then there’s a mid-career period where promotions slow down to 5-10 years.

      2. M*

        Yeah, seconding this. Unless you’re *specifically* in an industry and at a level where very regular promotions are just part of the normal progression and you’d have to fail to meet standards not to get them, five years before a direct internal promotion is pretty unremarkable – not unusually long, not unusually short.

    1. londonedit*

      I don’t know about academia, but my impression is that phone interviews aren’t as common in the UK as in other countries. I’ve never had a phone interview – in my industry unless you apply via a recruitment agency, who will usually do a phone screen to check that you are actually a suitable candidate before they put your application forward to the company itself, usually the first stage is an in-person interview. So they might have been thrown by someone asking for a phone interview if it’s not a normal part of their hiring process. Having said that, it wasn’t great that they couldn’t find some way to be accommodating of the fact that you are clearly in another country (surely they’d have realised that from your application). Where I work we’ve had candidates apply from overseas, and we also have an editorial test for people to do, and the hiring managers have worked out ways of getting the test over to the candidates and having them mark it up in PDF form, for example. There’s no need to be inflexible.

      1. Imprudence*

        This.
        I (UK) had never heard of phone interviews before I started reading this blog.
        Skype however is a real thing in my university. Although I know it is super hard to do well in a Skype interview.

    2. MissGirl*

      Not necessarily. It sounds like they have a system that works for them and enough qualified candidates to fill the spots. If they had a hard-to-fill position, it would be short sighted.

    3. UKCoffeeLover*

      I’m in the UK and work in higher education. Phone interviews are not that common here. Usually we go straight to a face to face so it’s not a red flag at all.
      Skype interviews certainly are possible but I also understand that this is a problem with the test they have prepared.
      Regarding the ‘promtion’. In HE you have to apply for a vacancy, and it will be a competive process. So with the former post holder or maybe that no vacancy became open. This would not be a red flag to me either.
      You could ask them if they will pay for you too attend the interview. If its a senior position its possible. You also need to know if you were successful, will they sponsor you for a visa (assuming you do not have a right to work in the UK).

      1. LilacLily*

        Thank you so much for the info! This is all very useful to know. Unfortunately it’s not a very senior position, so paying for attending wouldn’t be an option (I do have the right to work in the UK tho), but I’m moving to the UK in January, so I’ll keep an eye open for future opportunities when I’m able to attend the interviews :)

    4. ten alpacas*

      A friend just applied for a position at a UK uni (non-faculty), and in person interview at his expense is exactly what it was (he also had to fly in from another country). So, it sounds very standard. He didn’t get the job.

  25. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

    I remember that Alison recently posted instructions on how to search for individual commenters – such as the OP/LW. Will someone please remind me how to do that?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. no kind of atmosphere*

      We’ve got an invisible asterisk now, so if you wanna see ones where the name is OP, search for OP*

      1. DrTheLiz*

        Oh, *that’s* why there’s now a white * at the end of everybody’s name! And why I never noticed it before! Thank you, commenteriat, for improving my day.

      1. Owler*

        Does your phone have an option for you to choose to load the desktop version of this page? Sometimes I have trouble with functions in the mobile page view that will work when I load the desktop page. I’m not saying this will work for you, but maybe give it a try?

  26. Collarbone High*

    Does anyone have tips on finding a career coach for a mid-life career change?

    I feel like I never actually decided on a career; I just fell into something, and it’s not what I want to do for another 30 years, but I don’t know exactly what I *do* want to do. My ideal is someone who could assess my strengths, weaknesses, what I like and dislike in a job, and guide me to something more fulfilling.

    My college doesn’t have much in the way of alumni resources, and everything I’ve found through googling seems to be either kind of holistic life coaching that doesn’t have the concrete help I’m looking for, or things like Job Corps geared to people with little or no work experience.

    1. Wearing Many Hats*

      No advice sadly, but I feel like I’m in the same boat (and I’ve tried some career changes!). You aren’t alone and best of luck!

    2. Type 2*

      Do you have a budget in mind? I spoke to someone this week who sounded great – cost is about $650 for the package.

      1. Collarbone High*

        That’s a good question to ask myself – this is really helpful as an idea of how much something like this would cost.

    3. Quinalla*

      No advice on a career coach, but I’ve gone through several books that were helpful for this for me in figuring it out on my own, there are a lot of books out there if you want to try that while you are looking for a coach.

    4. Tip*

      Reach out to your college or grad school’s career planning center for reccomendations. Mine had a whole list of recommended job coaches for alumni.

  27. Steggy Saurus*

    How would you handle this situation? I’ve got two professional staff members who work in an open area and handle a lot of general questions. I have a space I can open up to make a shared office where they trade off days in the office (say, each has two days a week in a closed office and three days at the open space).

    I proposed this situation, and one of the staff members (the junior one) asked to have the office to themselves. I met with this person and explained why I couldn’t make that work, based purely on the business functions of the job and the way the office runs. They contacted me again with more reasons why they needed a space to themselves. I need to deny this request for many reasons. But should I mention the “fairness” issue? That is, the other person involved is the second-in-charge and is the senior staff member. Do I continue to justify my decision purely on business functions, or do I explain that providing the junior staff member a private office while the senior staff member remains in an open area five days a week is unfair?

    1. WellRed*

      Cut this off now. A junior coworkers is arguing for this over the comfort of another coworker and a senior one at that. And I guess ditch the idea of creating the extra space.

    2. Annabelle*

      Could you offer the office to the senior member? Or do they need to be in the open space to answer questions as well?

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Ideally, for the functioning of the office, both would be in an open space all the time. But I am sympathetic to the need for private time for work that requires extra concentration from both staff members, which is why I suggested a shared office. I could scrap the plan altogether, but that seems unnecessarily petty.

        1. Mrs_helm*

          I’m concerned that they aren’t getting the picture you are painting, and are pushing awfully hard about having it to themselves. I would worry that if you do implement it as a shared space, they are going to try to take over it completely. Like, change the posted schedule for the room, beg coworker to let her have an extra day/hours for (reasons), etc. She’s being weirdly demanding in response to your kindness!

          I wouldn’t worry about being petty. You have a right to change your mind without justifying it to anyone, especially if you haven’t yet taken action or spent money on this.

    3. LadyTesla*

      This may be a red flag. It seems more like this worker is avoiding something. Is it possible they are either a) secretly introverted, or don’t like their position and wants a role change, or b) dislike the other worker and are looking for a way to minimize interactions?

      I suspect they secretly want to change positions, or like the silence of a closed door and want to have that. I’d say, “It seems like you’re struggling with this proposed change. It is critical for this position that you’re available for questions and answers. If you feel you’re not able to support others, then that’s a different question of if you feel like this role is a good fit for your long term goals. “

    4. ArtK*

      I don’t know that you need to mention the fairness issue. You have determined that this is the schedule and the junior employee has to deal with that. I would be very clear and absolute when responding to this 2nd request. “This is what I have decided and the way things will be. You will not be getting a private office.” Don’t leave any room for negotiating. Don’t use wishy-washy terminology that an unreasonable person could latch onto as a negotiating point. For example, don’t use words like “for now”.

      The junior had the opportunity to make their case at the first request (which was a reasonable thing for them to do — sort of), but they don’t deserve another opportunity. That will just turn into a 3rd attempt and a 4th attempt.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      If I had presented the idea as an idea open for discussion AND it could be my fault the junior person was misunderstanding, I would either have to readdress the whole concept or just cancel the idea.

      Many times there are solutions such as Sally does X on Thursday so Sally has the room Thursday afternoon to finish X. Where X is a time consuming thing and requires concentration. Jane does Y on Monday which is similar to X in time and concentration so she gets the room Monday afternoon to finish up. May/may not be applicable to your setting, just food for thought.

    6. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      Nah, at this point I’d just tell them they can’t have a private office. They may have thought originally (depending on how you phrased it) that the decision was open for debate. Make sure they know now that it’s not.

      Generic script:
      “Staffperson, this is a shared office so that both of you have time to do the activities that may require a bit more focus. You will be alternating with OtherStaff. I understand you would like a private office, but to be frank that is not going to happen in the position you are working. You need to be visible and available for our clients.”

      You could also try:
      “Staffperson, in your job position no one has a private office. It’s the nature of the position that you have to be out and available for people that have questions. That’s not going to change. This is a spot for you and your colleague in case you have items that require more focus, ok?”

      Then keep an eye on your junior staff in case they try to monopolize the office. You may need to figure out how to boot Junior Staff out of the office later (due to performance or office-hogging) and still let Senior Staff use it as needed.

    7. Pineapple Incident*

      I don’t really have a solution here, but depending on what resources/amenities are available nearby, your staffer may be trying to raise an issue of not moving personal items back and forth between desks. As an example, where I’m sitting now, I have a small 3 drawer under-desk cabinet that holds some office supplies I’ve purchased myself, feminine products, tea, snacks, hand sanitizer and napkins, and my purse when I’m here. It’s not on wheels, so I can’t move it back and forth between other work stations. There’s no bathroom on the floor where I work, though it isn’t far, these items aren’t provided by work (gov’t, so no amenities) and any other food sources aren’t close. If I were suddenly in a position where these things weren’t super accessible to me (e.g. I had to walk to my desk and get my coworker to wheel their chair out from the desk in order to get to it), I’d be really miffed to say the least. If this is an issue where you are, I’d make sure you include a small amount of movable storage for this sort of thing (like a version of what I have but on wheels), so your employees can swap them between the workstations you’re proposing.

      If having private uninterrupted time for certain tasks is what you’re aiming for, is it possible to institute a workplace flexibilities policy wherein the employees have more time to work from home or from another remote location? May be a suitable alternative to what you’re proposing, which is essentially a form of hot-desking, because it can be ineffective depending on your workplace.

      1. Steggy Saurus*

        Thanks for these thoughts on movable storage. If I follow through with the shared space, I will make this available.

  28. Rayray*

    I love Friday open thread!

    I took an executive assistant job back in April. I was leaving a toxic workplace and hoped I could at least network here, maybe just keep the job for a year or so while I tried to figure out what I really wanted in a job. I don’t regret leaving the old job… But I hate this one. The woman I work for is… Horrible to work for. I’ll just say that. Anyone I have vented to has encouraged me to find something else. I’m working on my resume, but I’m curious to hear from other people who did admin type jobs how they got out of it. I’ve heard about the “Pink collar ghetto”. I have a bachelor’s degree in English and my previous job was a legal proofreader at a law firm. I’m kinda open to any type of job I’m qualified for, but would love something communication /editing/writing based. What worked for you to get employers to not just see you as an admin?

    1. CareerCat*

      I’m an executive assistant at a global management consulting firm and have taken every opportunity to diversify my skillset and resume while in this position – becoming the EA training coordinator for the Americas region, leading local employee resource groups, serving on and chairing local community involvement committees, offering to help with recruiting and marketing events, and anything else that has come along that sounded remotely interesting or outside the normal EA box.

      It’s a lot, but it has also set me up to move into a role, either in my current organization or a different one, in event planning, learning, inclusion & diversity…

      But also, it may be worth it to find a different EA job where you’re not working for a horrible person. It can be an enjoyable job if you find the right boss(es) and culture fit. Even if you continue to work on finding something besides an administrative position in the future, it could make your life much better until that happens. Good luck!

    2. Sparkles69*

      I feel like it depends on what field you’re currently working in, but I am someone who started as an admin assistant/office manager, and turned that job into writing for media and developing social media strategy for the same company. If the company is one that does other work you find interesting, or the team you assist is doing projects you could potentially work on, it’s not out of order to maybe sit in on a meeting here or there for informational purposes, to maybe view materials related to the project, or past projects, or even talk to someone on the team that does something you find vaguely interesting. The best way to move from admin to a role that is doing more “hands-on” project-related work, is to start small, ask a lot of questions, and talk to as many people as possible about what they’re doing, what the project entails, and try to relate that back to your own experience and educational background. You could potentially do some freelance work as a copy editor, there are a lot of work from home/part time jobs that involve proofreading or copy editing that would add experience you could potentially take into a different career field.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      You might be able to move into something more digital communications aligned by adding some additional technical skills to your toolbox.

      There is always a need for content: written and graphic. Learning more about SEO/SEM, online analytics, and social media (or adding some graphics skills if you’re creatively bent) could place you in entry-roles like: Communications Assistant, Marketing Admin/Associate, Content Creator/Manager, etc., as a first step towards transitioning over to either the Marketing side or PR/communication side of business. Fortunately, you can learn many of these tech skills on the side and they won’t require another degree.

      I have seen a few “admins” transition to roles managing social media, writing/deploying email marketing (demand gen), public relations, internal communications, event coordination, and writing online content such as blogs, articles, and website copy. Usually, they start by taking on some additional duties while they’re still an admin if their manager or company will allow it. I have “borrowed” admins to help with some marketing duties on occasion. It doesn’t hurt to cultivate the managers on the Marketing team if you’re able and willing to pitch-in on some entry-level tasks.

      Look up some job titles and requirements because this is a constantly changing field. AI bots are even beginning to take over creative human tasks like writing online content so aim to have longevity by seeking to learn to ‘manage the process’ versus one specific thing like writing content alone.

  29. Scared of losing my bonus*

    Things are changing. We have a busy season where we work 60 + hours a week but I was promoted to a new role where things are changing and I may not be required to work the extra hours. 

    That sounds nice and all but everyone who works during busy season gets a PTO bonus. I’m now worried that if I and my team don’t work during the busy season, we wont’ be eligible for any bonuses. 

    There have been talks about things changing but no announcements have been made and no one will say anything for sure. I’m a manager but management discussions are reserved for the big function, not the other managers. Our HR is…meh. I’ve tried to talk to my boss about it but things have been so busy. I feel liek I get shut down every time I try to ask what direction we’re going in.

    I’d say I had a great relationship with my boss but things have been so busy. 

    I’m not sure if I need advice, commisseration or just venting. But I needed to write my thoughts out. 

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I mean, it makes sense that only people who work extra would get the bonus. Can you volunteer for the extra work?

      1. Scared of losing my bonus*

        but now essentially I’ve taken a paycut to become a manager. the bonus PTO was part of everyones compensation because historically everyone at all levels works the extra hours during busy season.

      1. Scared of losing my bonus*

        At that time, it was understood that everyone who works here would work the extra hours. It’s what I’m used to, and I had no problem with it-nor did my team. But everyone has performed so well, that we don’t anticipate having such a backlog of work in that busy season as previously expected. The pay structure changing is relatively recent and one I did not see coming at all.

  30. Strawberry Jammy*

    Story time!

    back when I began my career I was hired as an IT help desk analyst at a multinational through an outsourcing company. I learned the job quickly, my coworkers and bosses all liked me, the quality of the work I delivered was superb, and when the multinational hired a few of their outsourced employees my boss told me that the only reason I wasn’t hired was because they had a limited amount of vacancies and other outsourced employees had been promised this opportunity for a lot longer (I had coworkers who’d been working for them as an outsourced employee for seven years!), but he promised me I’d be hired next time – alas, next time never came. I ended up staying there for three years, and throughout this time I didn’t get a single raise or growth opportunity; a couple of times there were hints of lateral moves to different departments, but nothing came to fruition. my company eventually cut ties with the multinational, and the outsourcing company who was taking its place offered to hire me for the same job I was doing if I took a 20% pay cut. no, thank you.

    fast forward to now, over four years after I left; one of my coworkers was promoted to team leader, and my old team leader is now manager of the help desk department. apparently they need to hire a new help desk analyst, and they thought about me! me, who now has a total of seven years of customer support experience! they want me to go back and do the same job I was doing back when I began my career, AND they wanted to offer me the same salary as back then, with the same 20% cut. uh, no thank you??? I felt like this was a slap to the face. I’ve been looking at team leader and supervisor roles and would not like to go back to do what I was doing when I started my career; you’d think that was a bit obvious given my resume and experience!

    I was flattered that they thought of me and had good memories of me and my work, but I was a bit offended that they wanted to hire me for such a low level job at this point in my career. am I right to think like this?

    1. College Career Counselor*

      Yes. You can do better–for whatever it’s worth, in their minds they’ve got you stuck in your old role at their (-20%) salary. You can decide whether you want to push back and negotiate and see how badly they want you. Or you can write them off as not worth the time.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Do they know all of this, though? Do they know you’re looking at higher level roles? Or did they just say “hey, we need a help desk analyst, it would be cool if Jammy was still interested?”

    3. Troutwaxer*

      You are right to think this. Since you are apparently well-thought-of in that particular organization and you’d like them to think kindly of you, I’d think a reply along the lines of “Hi Joe, it’s nice you thought of me, but you’re offering me 20 percent less than I was being paid four years ago, and I’ve done nothing but grow as an IT person since I left our mutual workplace. I know you’ve probably got all the usual budget woes to deal with, but wouldn’t be interested in returning unless I get a much better offer.”

      1. Ama*

        I think you could even add, “in my next career move I’m hoping to move into team lead or supervisory roles, so going back to my old job isn’t something I’m interested in.”

    4. Witchy Human*

      Their offer is ridiculous, but it may be a situation to (sort of) give them the benefit of the doubt, in that this could be stupidity rather than disrespect.

    5. CAA*

      It’s more likely that they’re oblivious than that they’re trying to offend you. You could just say something like “Thanks for thinking of me and I’d love to work with you again; but I’m actually looking for Team Leader and Supervisor roles at this point in my career. If you hear of any open positions of that type, please do keep me in mind.” That’ll probably wake them up and make them realize that their recollections of you had been frozen in time while you have moved on with life.

      1. Garland Not Andrews*

        This is good. It sounds a bit like older siblings who still see you as the kid you were when they left home. They didn’t see you grow up, so still think of you as a not grown up.

        I agree that it is likely more oblivious than actually insulting. Just let them know that you are not the “kid” anymore and would welcome overtures for a more appropriate job.

    6. Mama Bear*

      Insulting, yes. However, I would just thank them for thinking of you and say that you are currently only seeking supervisory roles, but you wish them the best of luck with their search.

      And, honestly, would you want to be back there? Sounds like you did well to move on.

    7. Qwerty*

      They remember you from when they worked with you. Odds are that you are frozen in their minds as the great analyst they used to work with and would love to have on their team again. Unless you are still close with them, they probably did not do the math and realize that you are interested in team lead positions. If you title hasn’t really changed since then, that also hides

      I recommend politely (or cheerfully if you can manage it) thanking them for thinking of you and letting them know that you are only interested in more senior positions. It doesn’t sound like they have one of those available, but that way they have you in mind if team lead position opens up or can recommend you to a friend who is looking for that type of role. They probably had no intention of offending you and just didn’t add up how much time has passed. Old contacts reach out to me all of the time and their response when they find out that I’m a manager now is usually “Darn! That makes sense. I wish I had a manager position open for you”

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Yes you’re right to think like this. You’ve moved on and increased your skills and are a higher level now.

      Sometimes I get people asking me if I’m interested in design jobs. Like, um no, because they’re half the salary I make now! Just say ‘thanks for thinking of me’ but not interested, and don’t feel bad!

  31. Anoymer*

    Are my expectations off base?

    I applied for an internal role, got a response within a day that the recruiter approved my app and to expect an interview within a 3-5 business days.

    At that point I let my boss know since it is internal and they have been playing the “but what if you leave?” Card to deny me oppurtunities.

    Meanwhile it was radio silence from the other role. There was some restructuring and a new manager was put in charge of the team. I had worked with the new manager a few times and I definitely went above and beyond for him in the past.

    I ran into him in person while I was helping his team on some reports and asked if he had an ETA. He blew me off and seemed pretty irritated I had asked, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt because restructures are stressful. I let him know my boss was hesitant to put me on projects with this application out there and to let me know once there was a timeline so I could relay that to my boss.

    Now it’s months later, I reached out for the second time over a week ago asking if there was a timeline for the role. (Ive noticed the role is no longer posted but I have not been rejected). He did not bother to respond.

    I’m pretty irritated tbh. My own boss is hesitant to give me opps and I would have never told him if I hadn’t got that email that an interview was imminent. I also think it’s really rude that they have left me hanging like this as an internal candidate.

    So is this rude or am I off base?
    I’m considering withdrawing, if my new boss has that little respect for me and is leaving me in limbo while knowing how my current boss is reacting I’m not sure I want to work for him.

      1. Anoymer*

        It’s not likely it was cancelled. I would have gotten an automatic rejection. It’s not likely it was put on hold. Think the Jr role is on hold why they focus on higher the Sr role.

    1. I'm that person*

      It’s time to look for opportunities outside of the company and really leave. If you had a good boss they would have supported you not shot you down. In the last month we have had a couple of moves like this in my department and it both cases the manager has been supportive.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Perhaps you can touch base with the recruiter or HR to find out what is up. But it’s as Alison says, you don’t have a job until you actually have the job. Keep going, look outside your company and see what is around.

  32. Pieska Boryska*

    I have a second-round phone interview in a couple hours and could use some advice on screening for dysfunction.

    A few things seemed off during the initial phone screen and the Glassdoor reviews are dismal. The recruiter told me that there is no salary range for this position because they’re publicly traded and couldn’t be competitive if they had a range. He also hinted that my salary requirement was too high, without coming right out and saying it, but considering that my minimum is very low for this kind of work- any lower would be below market rate even with awesome benefits- and many Glassdoor reviews mention favoritism and pay disparities, that worries me. The first few minutes of the phone screen was very salesy, talking about how lucky I was to be chosen out of hundreds of applications (this is not a competitive field) and the great perks like free food in the breakroom. A consistent theme in the reviews was micromanagement, 12 hour days, poor communication, and overselling to the clients with the analysts left holding the bag. But, this employer has multiple locations, so I don’t know if this applies to where I’d be working. And where I am now was extremely toxic 5 years ago but it’s totally fine now. So I don’t want to write this place off, but I’m definitely proceeding with caution.

    I know Alison had a post recently about vetting companies, but I feel like I’d need to go farther for this one. Is there any way I can ask things like how many hours it’s typical to work, whether he requires time sheets (for salaried employees), or how involved he is once a new employee is up to speed? Any advice would be appreciated. TIA!

    1. Lily Rowan*

      All of that sounds terrible! I sincerely doubt that no publicly traded companies post salary ranges. I think you can just ask all of those questions (although I’m not sure of the relevance of the time sheet one?)

      1. Pieska Boryska*

        One of the GD reviews mentioned being required to submit detailed time sheets even though they were exempt. I thought that might be a concrete indicator of micromanagement.

        1. ArtK*

          Depends on whether the exempt folks are working on billable contracts. Detailed accounting is very common when you have that. They need to know how much time is being spent on what contract so that it can be billed properly. I don’t know if it still happens this way, but some friends who worked for defense contractors had to record every 15 minutes.

          1. Mama Bear*

            This. I might bill to 5 different contracts a day as my tasks shift around. If there are contracts, they may be required to not only bill to those charge numbers, but bill in small (like 10th of an hour) increments, even. But if the position is all overhead, not so much.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “What does a typical work day/ work week look like for this position?”
      “Are there any seasons when the work picks up/drops off? How does the team deal with changes of workload?”
      “How are expectations set and managed?”

    3. WellRed*

      I ask this sincerely: Why are you ignoring the red flags waving wildly at you? Those reviews are pretty damning, they give you a BS reason about salary range, the salesy pitch and finally (this may be just me) places that offer perks like free food and yoga usually are low paying sweatshops, not something to entice a candidate.

      1. Pieska Boryska*

        I want to use this as a learning experience. Not just for interview practice, but low-stakes practice at asking these kinds of delicate screening questions in the future, when I think an employer is probably fine but I want to do due diligence. I don’t think there’s anything that could convince me to take this job if it’s offered, no worries. :)

    4. ArtK*

      What is this “publicly traded so can’t be competitive with a range” BS? Public/private has absolutely nothing to do with it, unless you’re interviewing for a C suite or corporate officer job. That would be a major NOPE for me. What they are telling you is that they aren’t competitive and they know it.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Exactly! They’re basically saying the job wouldn’t attract any candidates if they knew up front what it paid, which is clearly not going to be competitive, and then confirmed it by saying your low-market range is too high.

        Time sheets aren’t necessarily a red flag, but reports of favoritism, pay gaps, 12 hour days, and the best perks they could mention include free break room food (and not, say, top level health plans) definitely are.

        If you interview, please report back!

        1. Pieska Boryska*

          The phone interview was surprisingly normal. The manager turned out to be the grandboss, so I couldn’t get into managing style much, but he did mention quality control and peer review as part of a day in the life (the work is medical-adjacent), so it’s possible some close oversight is justified. The team works with different clients, so it could also be that the time sheets are for the reasons pp mentioned above. Still, I’m considering this a superfund site without extensive evidence otherwise. The work sounds awesome but not worth the risk.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      I work for a Fortune 1 company, i.e., a global publicly-traded company, and we definitely have salary ranges for each position!

  33. K.H. Wolf*

    How do you know when to go to your manager when you have a lot of small issues with a problem employee? How do you evaluate what is a small issue and what is a larger issue, when all the issues are interpersonal?

    I have been working at this small organization for 9 months, and this is my first post-college job as an accountant. My senior colleague, who reviews some of my work but does not otherwise supervise me, will be referred to as Anne. My manager will be referred to as Bob.

    First impressions of Anne were okay, though she had a mildly unpleasant form of ‘joking,’ where she would insult or complain about another coworker and then laugh. It all came to a head at the year-end inventory, which was all-hands regardless of normal responsibility. I was assigned to lead the inventory, and Anne was a normal counter. She spent the whole time (4 hours) complaining. Loudly, and personally, about how I was not doing any ‘real’ work. (She also did fewer items than anyone else, by half.)

    Then, a few months later, she yelled to Bob about me, loudly, where I could hear (for ten minutes). Later that same day, she yelled to an unknown coworker about me (for five minutes). I met with Bob the following day, and he said she would be disciplined. He also said that she was in the habit of having a yelling fit once a month, but that this was the first time it was directed at a person.

    Ever since, I have been documenting my interactions with her. The problem is, I hate Anne. A lot. So I’m not sure what things I should report to Bob and what things are BEC. Are the nasty not-jokes reportable? Only if they happen to me, or if should I report them if they are directed at others? She insulted me and my fellow accountant publicly during a team meeting. Bob was there, though? She’s weirdly intent on making things out to be my fault, even when we’ve discussed the issue at length. (3 discussion on one issue we had also discussed a few months before. She insisted that the issue was different despite the fact that the alternate possibility was the wrong amount and was a decrease instead of an increase.) She physically bumped into me at a different team meeting, twice but not hard. She told me there was an immaterial issue with a reconciliation and asked me to fix it anyway, fair enough; but she also said she knew what the issue was and didn’t tell me what it was. (My partner was shocked and asked if I had cc’d Bob.)

    What do you think?

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      Focus on patterns of behavior that affect the work. As far as BEC stuff is concerned, unless she’s breaking some law/rule/company policy (discrimination, etc), leave that out of it.

      1. K.H. Wolf*

        Thanks for the response, Jedi Squirrel.

        I guess my problem is understanding what counts as affecting the work. Anne yelling at me where I can hear doesn’t technically affect the work except as it affects my ability to concentrate, but Bob specifically told me that I was right to bring it to his attention. If that’s the standard, then all of this stuff counts, but I’m pretty sure some of it is stuff a manager wouldn’t want to hear about. I really don’t have the experience to differentiate, though. I thought the last part about the known issue she didn’t disclose was pretty tame and BEC, but when I told my partner about it at home to vent, he was genuinely shocked and thought that it merited a meeting with Bob all on its own.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          If you have a good relationship with Bob, I think you can say explicitly, “I’m not sure what level of issue warrants your attention, but here are these four things that have happened with Anne that make it difficult for me to work with her.” And then really listen to his response. As a manager, I would be glad to talk that through with a new employee, but there might be things that don’t call for intervention (or that I don’t think are worth intervening on).

          1. K.H. Wolf*

            Thanks, Lily. I think this is really helpful advice for framing the discussion. I do think Bob is a very good manager overall, so I’m pretty confident he’ll handle it respectfully. I just didn’t want to bother him if this was entirely BEC level, but this framing makes me feel a lot better about it.

            1. Lily Rowan*

              Part of it could be helping set your expectations, too — so it’s not about “getting Anne in trouble” or whatever, more about your own ongoing development. Then if Bob thinks any of it is worth pursuing, he has all the information!

              Good luck.

        2. Mouse*

          Why not ask Bob for guidance? If he’s reasonable, it shouldn’t be a big deal to let him know you’re not sure and get his take on what he does or doesn’t need to hear about.

        3. Jedi Squirrel*

          If she is creating an environment in which you find it difficult to concentrate and get work done, that is an issue that needs to be addressed.

    2. LadyTesla*

      First off, those are *not* small instances. Those are major.

      You have a senior, experienced team member who is unable to communicate with you and is not keeping you in the loop. you need to raise this issue. In addition, part of the job is learning how to play well with others, even if those others you don’t like. In addition, this is a reflection on Bob as a manager for not reacting to your needs. Some may argue that Bob might be privately discussing it. However, that is clearly not making a dent.

      Focus on how it effects work. I’d say, “Bob, I’m having trouble making sure I’m in the loop with Anne. We’re having trouble clicking, and it’s becoming a major issue with communication. In example x, y, and z, there were issues and it caused [impact on timeline or impact on project risk or client relationship]. I need a action plan to make sure I can do my job effectively. What can we change to make this happen?”

      Based on what you’ve said, Bob is going to make a lot of words, but do little. You still need this conversation because then you go to HR head, or another manager you trust, and say. “I’m having these major issues that is effecting work. Bob is unable to support me. I asked him for a plan, and only happened. I am unable to do my job in this environment. What can we change?”

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed, all of this is a big deal. The bumping at the team meeting, depends how that went down and honestly, she could easily dismiss that one so it might not be worth bringing up, but I would definitely say something in the moment if it happens again like “Woah, careful, you ran into me!” but the rest I’d bring to your manager immediately. And then when possible (maybe you can’t at a client meeting for example) start calling out things in the moment or email your boss right away after.

        And yes, frame everything as how it relates to work so you come off looking utmost professional. Like when she withheld the mistake she found from you, bring that up as wasting company time when she could have just told you the problem so you could fix it immediately. Any yelling is just unprofessional in general, but if she is flinging personal insults!

        I do hope your manager will step up, but it doesn’t sound promising, but maybe he’s doing things behind the scenes you aren’t seeing?

    3. CAA*

      I agree that you should meet with Bob and discuss the issues with Anne, but I will also caution you not to bring or mention the documentation you’ve been keeping of your interactions. As you describe them, these are not illegal acts of discrimination or harrassment and collecting documentation on her is likely to make you come across as the difficult one. I know lots of people will tell you to “document everything she does”, but in real life that is almost never useful and it can easily backfire.

      Start out your conversation with Bob with the fact that you’re having difficulty working with Anne in a productive way and you’d like to discuss some strategies for handling some problems that you’ve run across.
      – She insulted you and another accountant during a team meeting and Bob did not shut her down. Ask Bob does that mean he agrees with her? If not, what should you do in the future if she repeats that behavior in front of him?
      – The issue that she brought up repeatedly while insisting that it was x when you had already explained y. (Sorry, I’m not really following the thing about wrong amounts and decreases vs increases.) Ask Bob how does he want you to handle this type of interaction in the future? Would he prefer that you come to him for assistance as soon as she brings it up for the second time?
      – She asked you to fix something where she knew what the problem was but she withheld the details so you had to go on a scavenger hunt to figure it out for yourself. This is unproductive and unprofessional behavior. You’re not assking Bob anything about this item, just explaining what happened, because as your partner noted, sabotage happening within his department is something he should know about. (I’m guessing she may explain this as training you to be more detail oriented, but as a manager, I’d certainly want to know if one of my employees thought this was an appropriate thing to do.)

      Leave out all the other items on your list. Stay calm, dispassionate and professional during this conversation.

      Also, do not expect that Bob will be able to fundamentally change Anne’s behavior or personality. You can make him aware of these issues, and things may improve, but she’s never going to be a pleasure to work with. You may need to think of this as a starter job where you stick it out for one to two years and then move on.

    4. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      I know this isn’t what you want to hear but please keep it in the back of your mind: Find another job.
      This chick is using you as a punching bag verbally and now physically because she can. I don’t know what her deal is (personality disorder much?!) but you are her current target and she has the entire office cowed. She (of course) knows you are new to the field and probably a very nice person. She is neither and she will keep using you as she sees fit. What Bob says he will or won’t do is bullshit. He’s not sticking up for you when you need it most and that’s his freaking job. End of story. I wouldn’t last one week and you have lasted nine months so hat’s off to you. Please, please, please know that normal offices don’t work this way and you should, under NO circumstances, be yelled, bullied, touched or tormented by this bitch on wheels. You DESERVE better.

      1. valentine*

        He’s not sticking up for you when you need it most and that’s his freaking job. End of story.
        This is the bottom line. Bob is the real problem. He let her yell at him and, even if you tried yelling to get your way, I suspect this is the kind of place where, suddenly, it would be possible to discipline and fire someone. (If only because Bob knows you won’t get physical.) He knows she’s harassing you and spends entirely too much time griping about you, yet he allows it. If you can leave, go. Don’t worry about staying a year or whatever. It’s okay to move house when the place is ablaze.

        The letter where OP bit her colleague and stomped on his foot might help you because Anne is doing a similar kind of infuriating juvenile routine.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Ya know the interesting thing about people like this is if you limit yourself to commenting on behaviors that break company rules, break laws or ethics and behaviors that impact your work that can be enough stuff right there to keep a person very busy. And the listening people will tend to fill in their own gaps, people know if a person is doing a, b and c then it’s reasonable to assume they also have behavior d and e.

      This becomes your baseline to work off of so you can corral all. the. things. wrong here. You also have basis with the previous conversation about her animosity toward you. So that is another entry point for you.

      I will suggest one thing and this is very hard so if you opt out, I don’t blame you. Try to dial back the hate. Your upset with her is totally fair and totally understandable. But if she senses or infers the anger coming off of you that is just going to be gas on her fire. This is hard stuff so if you skip this part, I DO understand why. Sometimes I skip it also. You do have an advantage that your boss seems to understand something is wrong here. The toughest times I have had is when the boss does not get that there is even a problem.

      I wanna talk about the bumping you thing. There’s a lot you can do with that. One thought that crosses my mind is to say very loudly, “Oh you bumped into me are you alright?”. For under the table kickers, I have been known to say, “Oh were my feet in your way, excuse me, I will move over a tad.” Usually open comments like this stop the behavior cold. Be sure to sound sincere.

  34. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over*

    So, I had a coworker that I struggled to work with because she was quite boastful about how great she was, and often seemingly-accidentally seemed to be putting me down by remarking how much faster she got things done, how she had really cleaned house since starting, etc. She didn’t actually end up staying at this job very long before she quit to do something else, but she did start a bunch of new processes in the time she was here – then left half way through, and they all got dumped into my lap. Now I’m finding that many things were structured entirely wrong. I often wondered how she managed to teach herself things so quickly – well, it turns out that she made a lot of stuff up on the fly, without understanding the consequences in the database. I have raised this but my boss doesn’t really “get it.” I look crappy now because things I’m trying to do don’t work right (because the data isn’t in the system correctly). I don’t want to get this person in trouble because I realize these errors were made in good faith, and our training was abysmal – we have a strong “figure it out” culture that drives me nuts – but I am grinding my teeth every day wishing I could pop her bubble about how amazing she is. I’m sure she uses her time here as an example of how she was super amazing and great in all her job interviews, and my boss will probably give her a great reference.

    1. no kind of atmosphere*

      I don’t want to get this person in trouble because I realize these errors were made in good faith, and our training was abysmal – we have a strong “figure it out” culture that drives me nuts – but I am grinding my teeth every day wishing I could pop her bubble about how amazing she is.

      There’s no “getting her in trouble”. She doesn’t work there anymore. You should lay this all out with your boss, that your coworker messed up a lot of things she didn’t understand and now the mess has to be cleaned up.

      We had an employee like that and I found out after she left that I wasn’t the only one who was very very aware of how she was all talk and no substance. I spent four months cleaning up just one of her messes after she left.

      1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over*

        For whatever reason, I am specifically fixated on emailing this coworker and being like, “just so you know, I am still cleaning up the giant mess you left in the database and nothing has worked correctly since you left.” I’m not saying that it’s healthy or that this is a good thing for me to focus on.

        1. no kind of atmosphere*

          Don’t do it. tl;dr my story is a little longer and keeps going after she left. At which point, she went out of her way to screw me over AGAIN, all while trying to be “helpful” and maintain networking contacts and all that. Instead it made all of us wish she’d just cut the cord entirely.

          Focus instead on the ways karma may bite her in the future when she’s in a place with more oversight and she tries to pull the same bulshit on them.

          1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over**

            Yeah, that’s what I have to tell myself. I need to unfollow her on social media so that I’m not taunted by how much better than me she seems to be doing. I actually know it wasn’t entirely her fault, we have a clunky crappy system and not much training, it just sucks that all the benefit goes to her (she gets the experience on her resume and a great reference) while all the downside falls to me (I still have to fix this crap and my boss is pissed that everything is taking longer).

        2. Massive Dynamic*

          Don’t do that, but do give your boss a lot of specifics about what you’ve found in her work and the steps that you are taking to rectify it. Treat this as one large cleanup project that you are spearheading with multiple facets and give your boss regular updates on it. Don’t worry about protecting this former employee.

    2. KevinCantWait*

      When I’ve encountered situations like this in the past, I take the tack of saying “I wanted to let you know that there were errors in XY and Z on the Teapot project. I went ahead and fixed them, but because there were so many, I wanted to make sure you had a heads-up, so you can let me know if you spot any others.”

      Your boss will put two and two together and realize it was your ex-coworker who made mistakes on the project. It also might help to say “Hey, I know that Sheila was doing this project using the ABC method–but I’d been taught to do it this other way, and Bob from the ____ department confirmed that’s how it should be done. Do you want me to keep using Sheila’s method, or should I take the time to convert this data into a more traditional format?” That way, you can make what you DO have usable, without staying after work an extra hour every night or working through your breaks.

      1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over*

        This is like, basic report no longer work, and I’m supposed to pull the report.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          Did Coworker Who Screwed You Over have a different method of pulling the report? Can you ask her how she got the data out? Maybe the report now comes out under a different title or something?

          1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over**

            She had a different way of coding the data which, while it makes sense on the surface, means that actually the database doesn’t know how to classify those fields and they get punted out to a sort of purgatory when the form is saved. So the standard report that I used to pull all the time now returns a bunch of zeros. Maybe she had some gonzo system in mind to get the data back; the world will never know, and tech support says it’s unrecoverable

              1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over**

                Perhaps manually, by downloading and printing about 10,000 pages, then typing the information into each field. While my boss impatiently asks why the report isn’t ready, why am I so slow. I have explained the issue, but it’s boring and technical and she doesn’t get it. I feel it reflects an organizational bias towards “knocking things out” and not being slow like me. I can’t fix my boss, and I am looking for a new job (have been for a while) but I at least dream that Smug Coworker realizes what she did. Alas, the dream will likely end in this comments section.

                1. no kind of atmosphere*

                  De-technical it for your boss: “Flash didn’t enter the data in the right way; she put it into a different place. That means when I pull the report, the data’s not there for the report to find. To get the data into the right place, we’ll have to re-enter it. Because of the way the database is structured, that data entry will have to be done manually and it will take X time.”

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Agreeing with NKOA.

                  “Well, Boss, the data was put in a place that cannot be accessed and used by our system. So now what has to happen is 10k pages of data needs to be printed out and re-entered. I estimate I can do 50 pages* a day on average. It will take me 200 days to fix this problem.”

                  *Whatever figure you choose to use, make sure you put yourself where you have a good chance of succeeding. If you know for a fact that you can only do 20 pages a day then tell her that you can do 18 pages a day. If you have a bad day where the computer is down or you call in sick , etc, there is wiggle room in your estimate so you are not stressed more than you already are.

                  Don’t forget to toss out suggestions but again, chose wisely. You might offer to work some OT or you might offer to show someone so they can help you.

                  Overview- when people don’t seem to be understanding the magnitude/nature of a problem start putting numerical values on things and/or doing time estimates. Also offer suggestions to remedy if possible.

                3. Dancing Otter*

                  Talk to another database guru. Manually re-inputting 10K records is unreasonable, let alone 10K pages.
                  It should be possible to (a) download the bad records electronically, edit them and upload them again electronically; or (b) identify the field where the data was placed incorrectly and revalue the proper field with the contents of the incorrect field *within the database*. (I have personally done this in MS SQL Server. You have to be able to identify reliably which records need to be changed, or else put in a validation step to ensure you don’t overwrite records that actually have good data already.)
                  As an alternative, could the report criteria be revised to look at both the correct and the incorrect fields for the values you’re seeking? E.g., if OR(field X, field Y) = criterion, rather than simply if field X = criterion. Or use nested IFs, where if field X is null, then if field Y = criterion, else if field X = criterion.

    3. ArtK*

      This is general advice, not just for your situation: Drop the “I don’t want to get someone in trouble.” This also shows up as “I don’t want them to be fired” and a lot of other ways. If someone has messed up and you have reported how it affected you, they are the one who got themselves in trouble.

      This comes from the admonition we got as kids to not be a “tattletale.” Sadly, that admonition gets used to suppress a lot of valid things. The school that my sons went to had a great rubric to help with this. “Tattling is to get someone in trouble, reporting is to keep someone safe.” In the case you’re talking about you are reporting and not tattling because you are keeping yourself safe.

      1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over**

        I think I framed that badly, but the point is probably that there’s really no benefit to me, or to the current situation, to focus on trying to trash this person personally or professionally. I suspect would actually look worse to my boss if I spent a long time trying to get her to understand that this is Flashy’s fault, versus just impassively fixing the issue.

        1. valentine*

          Plainly saying what she did isn’t trashing her. You’ve gone to the other extreme and are letting your boss think you’re the problem, widening the divide between Flashy and you. Due to her boasting, I don’t think it was a good-faith error, and that you’re giving her too much credit.

          how much better than me she seems to be doing.
          “Seems” is key. Definitely unfollow her, and consider that her posts hold as much weight as her self-assessment regarding the job.

          1. valentine*

            Currently, you’ve assigned yourself to cleanup duty. Your boss needs to know the problem so they can find a solution that makes the best use of your time.

    4. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

      I know you are trying to be impassive about it, but my worry for you is that this could effect your end of the year (or whenever) performance appraisal. If you don’t tell manager about the problems in a way he understands, all he’ll see is “Non-Flashy is very bad at this job. She needs to be more like Flashy, ” or even “Maybe I should set Flashy standards for Non-Flashy to make sure she gets things done on time”. You need to make sure your boss knows so that you aren’t under the bus at review time (or slated for a Performance Improvement Plan that you don’t need).

      1. Flashy Coworker Screwed Me Over**

        Yeah I think that piece of it is driving me nuts. They’re not going to fire me (I’m the only one who can use the system at all right now) but I have often observed that they value someone like Flashy more than someone slow and steady like me. This outcome is exactly why that is shortsighted but nobody is listening to me, so somehow Flashy is *still* winning, months after she left!

  35. cubiclezirconia*

    I’m currently in law school and applying for jobs, so this issue has been on my mind. My first name is a double name styled with a space and two capital letters, like Mary Sue. This is my legal name, with a few exceptions on official documents where the space had to be omitted for practical reasons (like MarySue or Marysue). People who don’t know me well often call me just Mary and/or assume that Sue is a middle name. I sometimes correct them and sometimes don’t – it’s generally easier to just let the barista to write Mary on my cup, for example. But in more professional settings, what’s the best way to politely correct people without making it awkward? I worked in a professional office before law school, but the team I was on already had a Mary when I was hired, so my coworkers called me Mary Sue right off the bat without much issue.

    My other question is for my email signature. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve sent out an email with my email signature looking like this:

    “Thanks,
    Mary Sue

    Mary Sue Smith
    marysuesmith@lawschool.com

    And then get a response that starts with, “Hi, Mary,”.

    Would it be appropriate to add a line to my default email signature that says something like “Please note that my first name is Mary Sue.”? Or would that come off as overkill?

    1. LadyByTheLake*

      That’s overkill. Just correct them the first time they get it wrong — “Actually, I go by Mary Sue.” That’s it.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      How does Mary-Sue feel to you? That might convey what you need to convey. Then later when everyone is calling you by the right name you can lose the “-“

      1. cubiclezirconia*

        I posted this elsewhere below, but changing my name, including removing the space, going by only part of my name, or adding a dash, are not options I am comfortable with, except when necessary to deal with technological limitations. I identify pretty strongly with my name as it is (there is a sentimental and familial background for my name) and any time I’ve used an alternate version of my name, it has very much felt like someone else’s name.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          The dash would be a temporary measure, dropped once enough people were using you name correctly, but if you don’t like the idea… it’s certainly not a big deal.

      2. SilverA*

        As someone with a hyphenated first name similar to “Mary-Sue” it definitely helps. I actually have the opposite problem, that is my legal full name and I feel like it would be weird for me to write Mary Jones as my email, signature, business cards, etc Say “Mary-Sue Jones.” But my personal presence is Mary. I have actually become sort of apathetic to this at this point, I respond to both and do not correct people.

    3. Nessun*

      Given how little attention people pay in general to email sigs, I’d leave it until the first time they respond, as LadyByTheLake suggested. My first name (just one name, not two like yours) is in my sig AND my email address and people spell it wrong CONSTANTLY, so I assume people just don’t read.

      (It’s a huge pet peeve of mine, but I’ve had to learn to leave it alone. Think Melania versus Melanie – it’s one letter, and people just assume they’ve read it right. But yeah – no point correcting people in advance, they probably won’t even see the line, and if they do, they’ll most likely not take it well.)

    4. Natalie*

      I get emails addressed to “Nicole” all the time. No matter what kind of reminder you put in your signature block, people will get it wrong – if reading something in the signature helped them, they would have just read the name you used. There’s really nothing to do but correct people as it happens.

      1. Rachael with an A*

        I know it’s rude, but sometimes I will intentionally misspell the other person’s name wrong in my response email if they have misspelled my name. It has not prompted anyone to catch their error, though it gives me some personal satisfaction.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I do this too! Only the recipient has noticed and then apologized for misspelling my name. The most common misspelling of my name is to add two consonants. Think: my parents named me Melisa but people write Melissa. So I respond with, “Hi, Josseph!” or the like. They usually get it right away.

          Note: I only do this with people that I’m comfortable joking around with. One of our consultants, whom I’ve never met, emailed me this morning using the double-consonant spelling and I’m fine ignoring it.

    5. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      I worked with a vendor who’s company’s email setup was LastnameFirstname@company. This caused all kinds of confusion when there were people who had “two first names.” My salesperson was Sally Nancy…or maybe Nancy Sally…to this day I still don’t really know which was her last name. She would never put an email signature on anything and it drove me crazy! If I had to call her for any reason I would just ask the receptionist for Miss Nancy hoping that would cover all the bases.

    6. Argh!*

      Would you feel comfortable going by just one name in your professional life? Since you’re at the beginning of your career, now would be the time to consider it.

      If not, then you should probably consider the audience. If it’s someone you will have a long working life with, then correct them. If its a one-time communication or one-short-project interaction, you can let it go.

      1. cubiclezirconia*

        I appreciate the suggestion and I have tried it in the past, but I’ve honestly never been comfortable with it. The first part of my name, on its own, has always felt very much like someone else’s name and not mine.

    7. Spreadsheets and Books*

      My last name is a semi-common first name (but my first name is not a common last name at all – think something like Annabelle Lily) and it’s astonishing how often I get emails addressed to my last name. When I was job searching like 6 months ago, this must have happened with a solid 80% of recruiters/hiring managers who contacted me.

      Doesn’t matter what your name is, it’s unavoidable for pretty much everyone.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Don’t take it personally, and be prepared that inadequately designed e-mail and information management systems may force you to use “MarySue Smith” in future.

      A close lawyer friend of mine is in your exact boat, and they’ve found it’s just something they have to roll with. “Rose Anne Jones” becomes “RoseAnne Jones” in the computer. Upon meeting her for the first time, people often call her “Rose” until they are gently corrected or get it by osmosis. Putting a pre-emptive correction in your e-mail signature really won’t come across well. Your colleagues and friends will learn your name and remember it respectfully.

      1. cubiclezirconia*

        I can assure you I’m already well aware that inadequately designed systems can’t handle my name – when I got my first drivers’ license, I had an employee at the motor vehicle department in my state tell me to get my birth certificate changed (I did not). And again, I had a career before attending law school; at the company where I primarily worked, correcting people on my name wasn’t much of a big deal because I worked closely with someone who had a similar name so people were quick to call me the correct name as not to confuse us.

    9. cubiclezirconia*

      I appreciate the suggestions from everyone. I was hoping to get more suggestions from people with similar double names about how they handle correcting people. Changing my name, including removing the space, going by only part of my name, or adding a dash, are not options I am comfortable with, except when necessary to deal with technological limitations. I identify pretty strongly with my name as it is (there is a sentimental and familial background for my name) and any time I’ve used an alternate version of my name, it has very much felt like someone else’s name.

      1. Avasarala*

        Someone in my company has a name like you and one of our new hires addressed her in an email as “Mary.” I said, “Hey btw, it’s Mary Sue, that’s her full first name.” “Oh,” she said, embarrassed. “OK!” Done.

        Having two first names is such a common thing that people should be able to wrap their heads around it and refer to you correctly. My last name has “invalid characters” in it that computers often reject and I send passive-aggressive emails to IT people all the time: “This is a really common phenomenon (ie having a name with a space, with many characters, an apostrophe/hyphen, etc.) that I would expect a company servicing a diverse workforce to be able to handle. Please look for a workaround so that you can display my name correctly.” And if they push back, drop “I’m disappointed”.

    10. Kesnit*

      Using middle initials (and sometimes middle names) is common in law (at least where I practice). All the attorneys sign e-mails Firstname MiddleInitial Lastname, including the attorney who has two middle names. (It looks like Firstname M. I. Lastname)

      So you may want to include your middle initial in your e-mail. Something along the lines of Mary Sue I. Zirconia. That makes it clear that “Sue” is more than just a middle name (which is how I would otherwise read your name).

        1. EggEgg*

          I kind of like this solution, actually.

          Also, I hear you about not feeling a connection to different names–I have a long first name and went by one (unintuitive) nickname until I was in my early twenties, when I switched to a more intuitive nickname that didn’t end in an -ee sound. I decided to change kind of on a whim, and it felt VERY odd when I started introducing myself that way.

    11. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      On behalf of my dear departed Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle John Gano, I just want to say solidarity and keep fighting the good fight! I, too, recommend a casual, calm correction the first time, and then continued corrections becoming more firm until they get it. If someone keeps calling you by the incorrect name after multiple corrections, I think it’s fine for that person to feel a bit rebuked and uncomfortable. Naming other people correctly and appropriately is respectful and important!

    12. MK8*

      So I actually asked this question here a few years ago! I just tried the search function to get the link for you, but the actual post isn’t coming up. The name I used in my example was “Maria Theresa”, maybe you can find it yourself!

      To be honest with you, I have ended up adding a hyphen between my two first names. My mom isn’t happy about this, but I only have it on my professional documents and I’ve found that does help. However I’m an American working in a Francophone country and I know it’s much more understood in French to have a “composed name” with a hyphen, while in the US it’s more common to not have the hyphen.

      Another thing that has been helpful is going by my initials, because it both helps reinforce the idea that both parts are my name and also gives coworkers/clients a shorter name to call me by that I actually like, rather than just “Maria”. It depends of course on your name if this would work, in real like my first name shortens to “MK” which works quite well.

      I hope this helps, just know you aren’t alone in this struggle :)

    13. Hamburke*

      My daughter has the opposite problem – fn mn are a common paired name but I didn’t pair them and we use her first name only. Small group of the family insists on calling her fn-variation-mn, gives her embroidered items with that name, and signs her up for things with that name. It bothers her bc it shows that they don’t listen or respect her preference. It hasn’t affected her at work yet since she’s a teen but she was worried applying to her first job. I’ve told her to just put her middle initial if she has to put something.

      My name is common but spelled alternately (not uncommon or made up, just less common). People, including those that I regularly email with, rarely spell it correctly unless they have a name that gets spelled wrong too. I’ve given up correcting people unless it actually matters.

  36. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

    My boss is…intense. She’s so good at her job that she’s been promoted twice in the last year, the latest promotion to COO. She’s also still running my department in addition to overseeing another department’s director PLUS a new director and area. She’s doing about three jobs right now, b/c she is she-woman when it comes to work. She’s very risk-averse and a boss-pleaser. I hear a lot, “Big Boss would be pissed if she saw this and I want to avoid that.”

    I’ve been here and under her supervision for 10 years. I’ve been promoted over the years, currently with a position I’m mostly happy with. I’m 20 minutes from home, have lots of leave and a bit of cache built up over the last 10 years. But I’ve had some bumps in 10 years as well – I’ve screwed up a few times but I’m firmly on the road forward and have been for some time.

    My problem: my boss still scares the shit out of me. I think she’s harder on me than anyone else she supervises. Even the Big Boss isn’t as hard on her direct staff. I’m nervous a lot, I feel like I’m terrible person when I do make a mistake (it happens) and get scolded more than anyone else. I can’t tell if *I* am broken or if the culture is. I’m comfortable with my leave, commute, salary, etc. I’m still growing in my career. I just feel like shit so often I don’t know how to tell if it’s me or them.

    1. just a small town girl*

      Is there any chance she sees you as “myself when I was your age” and is taking the whole “people were tough on me and it got me where I am so I’m gonna be tough on you to get you where you need to be” stance? I don’t know your industry or relationship but I’ve seen this a few times in places where women don’t typically rise to power.

      Do you have any kind of non-work issues with anxiety? Because a bad toxic job warped me and messed me up so bad I had to get on anxiety medication even though I’d not had anxiety issue since I was a child. So if you have even some kind of lurking untreated anxiety it could be flaring up and might be worth looking into.

      1. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Firstly, lots of issues with anxiety and depression and am on medication for it. Probably need to add something else to the mix, and I still have a bit of PTSD from my last terrible work environment.
        I’m not sure if it’s that she sees herself, but it’s some flavor of that. I think she remembers my sins of the past more keenly than I would prefer.

    2. Faith*

      Are you me? I’m in a very similar position where I’m happy with everything about my current job and my general career path. But my boss is a constant source of anxiety for me for the very same reason. The way I’m dealing with it is by firmly keeping in my head that “it’s not me, it’s her” and by trying to leave work related stress at work and not allowing it to poison the rest of my time. Sufficient onto the day is the evil thereof.

      1. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

        Here with you in solidarity, sister. I need to apply that mantra, rinse, repeat. Thank you and hang in there!

    3. LadyTesla*

      There’s a good book, Culture by Design, that is really good that you may like. It’s all about how the business deals with the culture, and that it actually needs to be designed.

      I recognize some of the things you mentioned in me. Let me ask you a few things:
      – When someone says they have feedback for you do you say “no worries”, or “oh shit, here it goes”?
      – If you’re in a building, and a coworker you know from out of town does a quick fly by but skips your desk, do you feel like it’s no big deal, or does it feel a little personal that they didn’t wave at you?
      – Do you grade the value of your work based on how others feel about it, or the cold hard data?

      As someone with anxiety, a lot of these ideas come up heavily for me. I feel like the opinions of others = the quality of job that I do. Meaning I don’t know if I do a good job until others review it. It makes mistakes very personal, and feel very harsh.

      What you have to do is realize that the quality of your work is defined by the things you do, e.g. have control over. If you don’t have control over it, then you cannot use it to grade your work. Example: I did 90% correct on a spreadsheet, but 10% errors were commented on by my boss solely. I feel like I do a bad job because of that comment. However, I controlled that other 90%. In reality, you probably did a good job, but you focus on that 10%.

      This is a key anxiety concept, “my value = other’s opinions”. It takes ages to get out of (I’m still in it!!!!). But, once you see it, it helps.

      1. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

        I can answer yes or no to those questions depending on the day. I like the idea of relying on cold data. I do place a lot of stock in what people think, which is something to work on.

        I’m also having an issue currently b/c I think she’s making a bigger deal out of something (not the first time) by saying the Big Boss would be mad when the data say it’s 98.5% okay.

        Thanks for this! Really appreciate it!

      2. Watermelon M*

        Ooh this is good. But what if your job doesn’t have that great of numerical or solid outcomes that you can judge your work by? For instance, part of my job is keeping other people happy in a sense and facilitating meetings well. We have this feedback system based on people’s comments on your attitude and friendliness. In this job, it’s so hard to not take into account peoples opinions as value.

        1. LadyTesla*

          If your job doesn’t have a solid measurable outcome of success, then that brings up the question of “how does your boss know you’re doing a good job? What’s in the job description?”. It seems like the role isn’t setup for success.

          Now, if the job has only say one or two measurements, try to find some “symptoms” of it. Say it’s one big sale, maybe measure the number of quality conversations up to that sale with the key client, or similar.

          But you’re asking a bigger question. “How do I grade my work if my work is the opinions of others?”. Then it becomes “attempts at altering”. Say you’re a marketing person, and your job is to get people to engage on social media, it’s the number of methods, attempts, and strategies you applied to get that feedback.

      3. EggEgg*

        Maybe this is industry specific, but I kind of disagree with this. If I were to send something up to my boss or out to a partner that was only 90% correct, I would be extremely concerned about the quality of my work.

    4. lasslisa*

      Have you ever asked her how she feels about your work overall? If you’re usually a high performer, she may be thinking you already know it and that she just needs to tell you what would “make it perfect”. Or she may be trying to get you to change something, or thinking you should do things like she does them (even if your outcomes are fine as is). Pushing on this question may help you get away from thinking the latest critical comment is the summary of your entire worth.

      1. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

        she’s definitely pushing me to do things the way she does. Independently, I’ve had two other colleagues that she’s had more direct contact with lately come to me and ask, “how do you deal with this?” One of those colleagues also thinks I should talk to the Big Boss but I’m terrified to do that b/c I feel like MY boss will be pissed.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          To some degree we have to do things the way the boss does. I am not sure how much of a problem this is for you. If it’s illegal, unethical or against company policies, start pulling in other people to help you sort this. If you think you could end up arrested tomorrow, then quit today. No job is worth going to jail over.

          Your boss will be pissed. So you are in misery just to keep her from getting ticked? But she is already ticked/snippy/etc. She is stretched too thin, I will say that. I can’t promise you I would be a pleasant person in her shoes. I hope so, but I dunno. Since you are hesitant here, I’d suggest that you bring your other two colleagues with you to speak to the big boss. Start with couching it as, “I think my boss is stretched to thin and some things have been happening that others might want to be aware of.” Here instead of blaming the boss directly, you are placing the blame on being stretched too thin. This will help to make you look more like a thinking person and less like a complainer. You are also subtly offering a solution to the problem.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I feel like she sees you as the “mini-me” of herself and scoldings happen when you do something that’s outside of what she would do. She is overstretched and if only she had a clone of herself (but of course people aren’t clones of others, but sometimes we wish they were). Just a thought.

  37. just a small town girl*

    I’m really lucky. I’m able to go to school part time with a day class and my job is being flexible and letting me work my 40h around the class schedule. Only downside is that next year I’m going to be traveling for work about 20 days in the spring.

    My professors are working with me but I’m going to need a new laptop because my ancient 17in 200lb beast is not gonna work with how much I’ll be moving around. I mentioned it offhand to my boss when we were discussing Black Friday sales and she was like “woah wait, you should not be buying a new laptop for this! you wouldn’t need a new one if you weren’t traveling for WORK stuff….let me see if you can use my surface for school and work while we’re traveling and I’ll use my laptop.”

    She said she was going to talk to my grandboss and one of the other directors about it to make sure it was OK, and that was Tuesday when they were out of the office. I really, really don’t want to be a nag since this is above and beyond and very nice of her to offer, but I really need to know before Black Friday gets here so I can know if I should go ahead and get something then. How should I go about politely asking her if she’s checked if this is okay yet? And how long should I wait to follow up and ask about it? She’s very, very busy so I don’t know if she’s already forgotten about it.

    1. AnOtterMouse*

      I’d say check back on Monday of next week- this gives time for a) her to follow up with GrandBoss and Director and time for them to respond, or b) time for you to scout out the sales for Black Friday and make some plans if you need to

    2. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

      Agree with OtterMouse. Try again Monday and even tell her you don’t want to be a pest. And then try once more.

    3. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      I would mention it to her in a light oh-by-the-way tone, “Oh, by the way, I was looking at flyers for the Black Friday sales. Did you ever hear back from so-and-so? I’m kinda planning on how I’m going to spend my money and wanted to check in with you first.”
      Leave it at that.

  38. The Meow*

    During an interview, what is a professional way of calling out organizations with no POC on their executive level? I want to convey the message of: “Your entire executive team is made of white men (or maybe +1 white woman). That gives me concerns as a woman of colour about my professional growth opportunities. Do you recognize this lack of diversity as a problem and what are you doing about it?”

    1. Okay*

      It’s only a problem if it’s intentional and disproportionate to the local population. My company of 140 has only 2 black employees. Is this because we’re racist? No, it’s because we’re in the Midwest.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        I disagree that it’s only a problem if it’s intentional. Demographics are one thing, but it’s unfortunately very easy for people to hire and promote in a discriminatory way without explicitly setting out to do so. There’s well documented evidence that managers tend to promote and encourage employees they perceive as being “like them.”

      2. ThatGirl*

        There are plenty of black people in the Midwest. Maybe not in your specific town, but let’s not perpetuate the idea that no POC live in the middle of the country.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Seriously. Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, South Bend, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo, Omaha, etc are all in the Midwest

      3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What now? I’m in the Midwest and we have more Black women on my team than white men. Let’s not perpetuate this “no Black people in the Midwest” nonsense.

      4. Parenthetically*

        It’s not enough to say “we’re not racist,” and putting a wildly disproportionately white workforce at your company down to being in the Midwest is lazy. In the US, if you’re not actively seeking out employees who are non-white — as in, intentionally finding and removing barriers to diverse hiring, specifically recruiting diverse candidates, going out of your way to ensure that POC are included in your hiring processes, your default setting is going to be white and male. Active anti-racism, not passive “well nobody at my company hates black people so we must not be racist” is what’s required to get to equality.

    2. ThatGirl*

      As much as I think that’s a good question, I think phrasing it that way might sound hostile. Can you maybe ask about diversity initiatives or corporate policies around diversity?

      1. AnonEMoose*

        This…because if nothing else, while sometimes people may appear to be white, they may not be. To be clear, I’m saying this because of a thing that happened in my presence that was pretty embarrassing for the person who assumed and who turned out to be wrong about their identification of at least one person as white.

        I’m being intentionally vague on this, so would not be comfortable going into more detail. But hopefully that’s enough information to understand the basics.

        Asking about diversity initiatives and what the company is doing to avoid/address unconscious bias, maybe?

        1. The Meow*

          If a person “appears to be white” they are likely to have been treated as white by their acquaintances, friends, teachers, principals, colleagues, bosses, professional networks, and strangers. So regardless of their actual racial identity they would not face the same level of discrimination and unconscious bias that a more ‘visible’ POC would face.

          1. AnonEMoose*

            True…but they also may not appreciate erasure of their identity as a POC. And their feelings on that aren’t wrong.

            1. The Meow*

              Acknowledging people get treated a certain way due to their skin colour is not “erasing” their personal identity. Not really sure where you’re going with this.

              1. Avasarala*

                Better not to get into “well you pass as white so you don’t count as diversity” with the executives of a company you’re applying to. Especially when you don’t have to play “guess how many POC” and you can just ask about their diversity initiatives.

    3. Susie Q*

      Is this an interview for a job that you want to get? Because if it is, I most certainly wouldn’t say it. Calling a company out during an interview isn’t going to get you hired.

      1. Witchy Human*

        It would also sound like you’re making the fact that you are a POC relevant to your candidacy, which is a bad idea.

        1. The Meow*

          I disagree with this. My skin colour is not something I can hide. If merely asking the question means HR would view my skin colour as relevant to my candidacy, HR is in the wrong.

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          It’s always relevant to her candidacy, whether she wants it to be or not. Unconscious bias of hiring managers is a very real thing, and not something any POC can just decide to be free of.

      2. Watermelon M*

        But also do you want to work for a company that bristles at you asking about diversity? As a POC, I wouldn’t. Sure, ask it in a way that might get the white folks on the panel to not feel mad, but it’s an important question. If you’re desperate for a job, it’s a slightly different story, but I’ve learned my lesson here.

    4. Lily Rowan*

      I would love to hear that question, but I know a lot of people would bristle. But I have asked someone interviewing me if she really wanted to add another white woman (me) to her team which already seemed to be all white women (in an international nonprofit), and I did get the job. And I did hire a more diverse team while I was there!

      1. The Meow*

        Being able to ask that question directly and not have that affect one’s job search outcome is white privilege.

    5. ElizabethJane*

      It’s a really good question and I wish you could just ask it point blank.

      I’m saying this as a white woman so I know I don’t have the same experiences, but I have asked a similar-ish question. I used to work in the automotive industry which is the poster child for “Good Ol’ Boys Network” and also “European White Men Calling The Shots”. In an interview I was able to ask “The automotive industry in particular is very male dominated. What initiatives does COMPANY have to make sure women are given the same opportunities as men?”

      The company in question was the leader in the industry, so if the industry did something it was almost definitely their fault, but blaming it on the industry as a whole seemed like a softer approach. It was like “*Society* has this problem but *you* are obviously better than the problem, right?”

      Could you phrase it that way? “Tea Pot painting as an industry has been lacking in diversity pretty much since its inception. What sort of initiatives does this company have to help with that?”

      Of course I’d love to say any company that bristles at your question as you wrote it is crappy and you should look for one that is OK with it, but that’s not how job hunting works so we have to play stupid games.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Yep, love this phrasing. Approaching it with inclusive language that implies, “Well, of COURSE you want this good thing!” is really smart.

      2. Earthwalker*

        Yes, this, worded as “lack of diversity.” With that in mind you might also ask, “Do you have statistics comparing the diversity of the individual contributors in the company compared to the diversity of managers? A big difference between – satisfactorily broad diversity in individual contributors and much less among the managers – says there’s a glass ceiling. “No we don’t keep those statistics” is a red flag too if it’s a large company. They should know.

    6. Cimorene*

      I think its really variable. I currently work at a major nonprofit and have day after thanksgiving as standard but not xmas eve. Also previously worked in both city and federal govt and did not get either one off, only the recognized federal holidays.

    7. ...*

      It might be hard for the interviewer to speak to that if they are an HR associate, lead, or assistant manager.

  39. Friday Morning Interview*

    Had an in-person interview for a job I really want. Previously there was a phone interview and there is one more final step before hiring. They are interviewing people into next week. Best time to send a thank you email? Monday?

  40. WhatsNext*

    Any suggestions on what I should do next, or how to even start figuring it out?

    I’m currently in a job that usually has the title of Contract Specialist or Contract Administrator. I read contracts, make amendments or changes as needed, negotiate with counter parties, work with legal (although I am not a lawyer), and read RFPs/RFQs to see if it’s something we can agree to. I regularly work with different departments and executives.

    I’m also not that far from hitting a pay ceiling. They won’t keep paying me more every year after a certain point and I’m ready for a change of pace. Switching companies isn’t really helpful, the same position elsewhere pays the same and will have a similar ceiling. There’s no clear career progression after this unless maybe I become a manager of several different teams that deal with contracts and I’m not at all wild about the idea of becoming a manager (the weeks my boss works 50 hours she makes about what I do per hour and she has way more stress). There should be something I can transfer my skills to but I’m not sure what.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    1. Dagny*

      How much experience do you have? Do you have a background in accounting, finance, or management?

      Do you manage projects?

      1. WhatsNext*

        5+ years experience

        Accounting/finance/management – nope

        Project management – I don’t this so? I work on RFPs to pull everything together, that’s about as close as I come to that probably.

        1. Dagny*

          Try to find opportunities at your current job to get involved in strategic projects (not RFPs). Think anything from streamlining your current process, training other divisions in the contracts process and value, identifying where your department can be a value-add, etc.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      I am actually about to hire someone who is in essentially the same position! He’s been in Procurement since forever, and has recently expressed to his manager that he’s sick to death of writing RFPs. So we’re seconding him to my team, in a sort of Business Analyst/ Business Process Analyst role. We’re going to be launching a new llama grooming program in the next year or two, and we need him to help understand the business needs of our various program areas, help us figure out what software we need, and of course eventually draft the RFP.

      The reason it seems like such a good fit for us is that he will need to interact with everyone in the organization, and he’s really good with technology. Those are both secondary skills, that are highly transferrable. So depending on your organization, I would look towards Corporate Services type functions – HR, IT, Records Management, Facilities, etc. Lots of these will have roles that involve acting as a liaison between them and other parts of the organization. Look outside your own core skill set (eg procurement), and see if you can find a place where you can use your secondary skills (stakeholder engagement, relationship management, organizational awareness). Good luck!

  41. KevinCantWait*

    How reasonable is applying for a job that was posted over 2 weeks ago?

    I saw an IDEAL position for where I’m at in my career right now, but it was posted “about a month ago,” according to the job site. It’s still listed, and they’ve posted other positions since, so clearly the careers page is being updated on SOME level. But there’s a voice in my head that says…”Well, if they posted this job listing a month ago, they’ve definitely filled it by now!” Am I right?

    Also, this is NYC, and a somewhat-niche-but-still-over-saturated industry.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I don’t think it could hurt to apply – it’s certainly possible they’ve had plenty of applicants, but it’s also possible they’ve been slow to interview or haven’t had great options yet. Give it your best shot and then put it out of your head.

    2. College Career Counselor*

      Apply! I’ve applied a month in and been interviewed (different industry, but still) and even gotten the job. Now, maybe they’ve got all the applicants they need and this posting is just hanging out until its deadline. But you don’t know that, so go ahead an apply!

    3. Witchy Human*

      Personally, if I think the same company might post other positi0ns I’d be interested in at some point, I would hold off. If that seems unlikely, I would send in the application, but not agonize over it much.

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Apply. We regularly have positions open for two MONTHS before they find someone qualified. Admittedly more people want to work in NYC than in my suburban area, but it’s not uncommon.

  42. Strawberry Fields*

    How do you stop an “Office Mom” from mothering you? I have one at work who thinks I’m weird because I’m not married with children. That’s all she wanted to do, blah blah blah….. She also gives me backhanded compliments like how I could be very pretty if I just wore more makeup, better clothes, exercised, etc.

    It’s funny because she’s very chummy with the men and would never tell them the same thing.

    She’s very curt when I ask her work questions, yet warm and friendly with others. She’ll ask me personal questions and it makes me uncomfortable. It’s a small office and we all sit close with one another, so I can’t avoid her or distance myself from her.

    I know we’ll never be best friends, but it is wearing on my patience. What is the best way to deal with these types? Is this a power play?

    1. Dagny*

      Yes, this is a power play.

      I’m interested to know if you’re under 35 and she’s over 40, because a lot of women do this when they get older. Their looks fade; they don’t get the attention they used to; they take it out on younger women and “put them in their place” to maintain the high status they had when they were younger and fresher.

      A very cold “How is this any of your business?” can do wonders. If you’re feeling really snarky, ask her how her marriage is going.

      1. Susie Q*

        “I’m interested to know if you’re under 35 and she’s over 40, because a lot of women do this when they get older. Their looks fade; they don’t get the attention they used to; they take it out on younger women and “put them in their place” to maintain the high status they had when they were younger and fresher.”

        What? This is a huge sweeping generalization. I’ve worked with plenty of women over 40 as a younger woman and have never had this issue. I have had it with women my own age. Age doesn’t make people bullies.

      2. Strawberry Fields*

        Yes to the age question. She often gives me the cold shoulder and stops talking if I’m near. She’ll talk with everyone else though. If I ask a question, she either ignores me or gives a short answer.

        1. Parenthetically*

          So she doesn’t want to speak to you about work but she wants to nitpick your life choices? Yikes. This isn’t a low-boundaries-but-kindly Office Mom, this is a rude, pushy busybody.

          “Oh, did you not hear me? Do you have the Jones, Inc. file? I need to look over the invoices.”

          If this is an ongoing pattern, I genuinely think it’s worth giving your boss a heads up about. “Hey Jane, there’s been a pattern going on for a few weeks/months that I find increasingly troubling and I just wanted to loop you in on it in case it becomes more serious. Several times a week, Karen will make comments about my body, clothes, diet, exercise, relationship status, fertility, etc., that are just on the border of rude, but probably close enough to ‘normal-sounding’ that they’d fly under people’s radar. In addition, several times a week, she will either respond curtly to my work-related questions or flat-out ignore me. Today I had to speak to two other people to get the paperwork I needed for the Jones Inc. billables because when I asked her for them she pointedly looked away and didn’t respond. I wanted to let you know about this odd dynamic now, because I’m planning on taking a more proactive approach with her, and asking her to stop each time she makes a personal comment about my body, fertility, etc. I’m also planning to more seriously pursue a response from her when I make requests and she doesn’t answer. At this point I don’t need anything from you, but I wanted to make you aware of what has been going on and my plan to address it. Thanks, Strawberry.”

            1. Parenthetically*

              Hmmmm. Can you document on your own, then? Just write stuff down and timestamp it? I’m assuming no grandboss or HR?

            2. Strawberry Fields*

              I want to ask her what her problem is with me since I’ve dealt with this in 2 previous jobs before, but I know I can’t… (Maybe it’s me?)

              1. Parenthetically*

                Nah, it’s not you, except inasmuch as “unconventional” life choices piss off people who think it’s somehow offensive to make such choices.

                And also — definitely don’t ask her what her problem is with you. You’re trying to get her to STOP making non-work-related comments about you, so don’t solicit non-work-related comments! Stick with telling her to stop specific behaviors as they arise. Please don’t comment on my body. Please don’t comment on my face. Please don’t comment on my fertility. Or — It’s weird that you keep commenting on my body, please stop. It’s weird that you keep commenting on my face, please stop. It’s weird that you keep trying to bring up my fertility, please stop.

                Really I highly recommend that Captain Awkward article. It doesn’t matter what she does or says to try to derail your request, you can just keep coming back to, “Okay, but I need you to stop making comments about my relationship and fertility choices, can you agree to that moving forward?”

              2. CheeryO*

                It’s not you. There are rude, close-minded people everywhere who pull this sort of thing, so you’ve probably just been a little unlucky. I’ve run into more office dads, but I go with something like, “It’ll happen on my own time. I know you’re trying to help, but I don’t need the advice.” If that’s more assertive than you’d prefer, it might be something that you need to practice in the mirror or with a friend.

                I would also give up on the idea of having a warm relationship with her, period. Aim for functional instead. It’s on her if she wants to make things weird.

                1. CheeryO*

                  (And obviously you don’t have to say that it’ll happen on your own time if that doesn’t ring true for you – that might just be pushing the issue down the road if you plan to work there for the foreseeable future.)

              3. Dagny*

                She is telling you what her problem with you is, FYI.

                Whatever she’s making comments about, she’s insecure about. It’s just that easy.

                1. Strawberry Fields*

                  Meaning the stuff she comments about? Me not having kids is part of her problem with me? (Genuinely asking.)

                2. Never Been There, Never Done That*

                  My best guess would be that, yes, you not having kids is part of her problem with you. You don’t fit the exact mold of how she thinks someone like you should be. All of this shit is on her and not about you. Meaning, anyone else in your shoes would be treated the same. My advice: ignore the backhanded compliments, focus on work topics when you have to interact with her and read Captain Awkward. If you haven’t read CA yet do it b/c it is a treasure trove of wisdom that will help you more than I can. Hang tough, I’ve been in your shoes.

      3. EggEgg*

        Oh my god, please do not ask her how her marriage is going. Just, what? That’s so invasive and aggressive in this context.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Karen, I need you to stop commenting on my appearance. It’s inappropriate for the office. Can you agree that moving forward, my looks and body and clothing aren’t topics for conversation any more?

      Karen, I need you to stop commenting on my life choices. They’re not up for discussion. Can you agree to stop?

      Captain Awkward has a GREAT article dated November 13 about dealing with bad-faith arguers by focusing on asking for a really specific behavior change. Highly recommend reading it for scripts.

    3. Another JD*

      Simply shut it down. “Please don’t comment on my clothing.” “Please don’t comment on my body.” “Please don’t discuss my fertility.”

    4. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

      Ugh. This is the worst. I had a coworker like that once (who was 8 years my senior), but her thing was safety. Every time I left the office she would say, “Be careful out there.” or “You need to drive safe.” It’s one thing to say, “Have a safe trip!” every once in a while, but she did this EVERY single time I left, even if I was in and out of the office multiple times a day. It got on my nerves to no end.

      I drive a lot to visit my family since I’m from a small town and it’s quicker to drive than fly – about a 6 hour road trip. Since I’ve been making this trip from my city for about 10 years back to my home town, I’ve had plenty of time to figure out the good stops along the way. I mentioned one time that the new Rest Stop on Interstate Blah Blah had recently finished construction and I liked to stop there. It was clean and well-maintained, plus I wasn’t tempted to buy anything like I would be at a gas station. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, “YOU should never stop at a place like that by yourself.” I asked her why not and she proceeded to tell me how a young (early 30s) woman like myself was very vulnerable in a place like that and you never know who else will be there. I took a deep breath and said, “Look, I’ve been driving long road trips by myself since I was 18 and in college. It’s the only way I would be able to get back to spend time with my family. I actually like places like this because a lot of families stop there, it’s not empty at times I’m driving by, and it’s CLEAN. I have to stop eventually, and it’s up to me to decide where I’m comfortable stopping on these trips. You don’t need to worry about it.”

      I think some people just like to be bossy (she was), and are know-it-alls (she was), and doll out unsolicited advice (that was her thing). Once I stood up for myself a bit she backed off (at least on the safety front).

      You might try something like, “I don’t understand why people are unhappy on my behalf. I’m happy with my life the way it is and the way I am, so please don’t say things like that.”

      1. Gumby*

        I’d just stop taking her seriously. “Drive safely” gets a “Well, phooey, there go my plans to play chicken with semis.” “You shouldn’t stop there by yourself” gets a weird look and a topic change/walk away.

    5. Hi there*

      My online running coach has a podcast (the Morning Mantra) that has had a few episodes on how to handle comments kind of like this from relatives around the holidays. I laughed out loud at the idea of responding to comments like “I don’t understand why you don’t… “ (wear makeup, visit more, etc.) with “That’s right, you don’t” and basically bouncing the conversational ball away.

  43. Peaches*

    How many of you have 11/28 & 11/29 for Thanksgiving? I feel like these are “standard” holidays in most industries, but I was just curious (note: I work in a pretty typical office).

    I think I’ve posted about this before, but I have a coworker who has worked at my company for 7 years (I’ve worked here 4 years). EVERY year when a holiday is approaching, she asks in a shocked voice, “wait, Peaches, do we have Christmas Eve off?!” Yes. Yes we do. Just like every other year (also this is posted on our company’s website). Then, she goes on to say how generous our company is with holidays, and how she doesn’t know of any other companies who get off on (insert holiday). Here are the holidays we have off every year:

    New Year’s Day
    Memorial Day
    Independence Day (sometimes we get two days here, if Independence Day falls at the beginning or end of a week)
    Labor Day
    Thanksgiving & the Friday after
    Christmas Eve & Christmas

    Does this seem pretty typical? I think it does!

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve never gotten both days for Thanksgiving.

      My current job follows NYSE market holidays, so we get
      New Year’s Day
      MLK Jr Day
      Presidents Day
      Good Friday
      Memorial Day
      Independence Day
      Labor Day
      Thanksgiving
      Christmas Day

    2. no kind of atmosphere*

      I think it really depends. I don’t have the day after Thanksgiving off or Christmas Eve. But I have all the federal holidays like MLK Day, etc.

      1. masters student of none*

        Weird, I’m state gov employee and we get the day after Thanksgiving and Christmas plus they added thd 27th as a special leave day. Though we don’t get Columbus day but we do get Veterans day, MLK plus some random state holidays

        1. Tiny Magnolia*

          Government here, too. Here are our days:
          NYD
          MLK Day
          Memorial Day
          July 4
          Labor Day
          Veterans Day
          Thanksgiving
          Christmas

    3. KevinCantWait*

      In my office, we get off Columbus Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, President’s Day…and we’re always backed up with calls/emails the day after. We do NOT get Christmas Eve or NYE, or the day after Thanksgiving off. And no one ever calls or emails on those days. Sigh!

    4. CTT*

      I’m in a law firm and we get Thursday-Friday off; that said, I usually end up working some that Friday because I’m in transactions and things always want to close at the end of the month.

    5. ThatGirl*

      Our holidays are:
      New Year’s Day
      President’s Day (first place I’ve worked that has that standard)
      Memorial Day
      Fourth of July
      Labor Day
      Thanksgiving & Black Friday
      Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
      plus they introduced a “bonus” Employee Appreciation Day that they tack on to something else (so this year it was the 5th of July to give us a long weekend)

      to me, the day after Thanksgiving isn’t that generous, it was standard at my last company too, and my husband also gets it off (he’s in academia).

    6. TotesMaGoats*

      I’m in higher ed and we get off even more than that but we always get Thanksgiving and the friday after. Thanks to how Xmas falls I get almost two weeks off this year. Huzzah!

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        Yes, thanks to the calendar I found it much easier take two weeks off around Xmas/NY, and only used maybe 6 vacation days. It’s not going to happen that way for a while, but we have our first baby this year and will get to visit with all the family who want to see us (plus a retreat at midwinter music camp).

    7. Nicki Name*

      Seems typical to me, but not absolutely standard. About half my jobs have had Christmas Eve and Black Friday off. The one job I’ve had in a blue-collar industry was the only one where we would get a 4-day weekend for Independence Day if it was a Tuesday or Thursday. In other years, we’d usually get Presidents’ Day off.

      That job also gave us Good Friday off every year, and no one was sure why.

      In tech it’s really common to have a floating holiday which is technically for your birthday but can be used anytime.

    8. Penny*

      I get both Thursday and Friday off, and feel like it’s pretty standard to do both for office type jobs. (Obviously, different for service industry and retail jobs.)

      We used to have I think 12 paid holidays a year, the pretty standard ones. Soon we are switching to a system where we have fewer off, but some floating holidays thrown in to make up for it. I really like that system. A couple of the days off are days when schools around here are actually open, and as nice as it is to have a day off when my kid has school, it’s more practical to save those floating days for times when school is closed and I didn’t previously have off.

    9. Amazing A*

      It’s *fairly* typical, but not everywhere. I work in a seasonal industry, and my holidays are as follows:

      New Year’s Day
      Memorial Day
      Fourth of July
      Labor Day
      Thanksgiving & Black Friday
      Christmas Day

      Depending on when Christmas and New Year’s fall, the office will close on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, but we’ll be forced to use vacation days.

    10. londonedit*

      I’m in the UK, so I’m totally not going to answer your actual question, but I’ve found there are people who just don’t keep that sort of information in their heads, and as someone who does, it baffles me. Somehow, over my 38 years, I’ve come to know that the first and last Mondays in May are always public holidays, the last Monday in August is always a public holiday, the clocks go forward on the last Sunday in March and back on the last Sunday in October, etc etc. Yet I have friends of all ages who, every year, are shocked by these events. ‘Wait! It’s a bank holiday on Monday??’ Well yes it is, it’s May 3rd. I’ve come to realise that it’s one of those fundamental differences between how different people’s brains deal with information.

      Christmas Eve is an interesting one, too, because it’s not a public holiday here (the 25th and 26th are) and company policies are wildly different. Sometimes you’ll get the whole day off, sometimes there’s this unwritten rule that the office will close at lunchtime and if you come in for the morning, you don’t have to take the afternoon as leave, but if you want to guarantee the whole day off then you do need to take a day’s leave for it, etc etc. So I can see someone being confused about that. But if they’ve been there 7 years and it’s company policy that you always get Christmas Eve off, then yeah, you get Christmas Eve off!

    11. AnOtterMouse*

      That’s a pretty normal schedule. I’m a Fed, so we get:

      New Year’s Day
      Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
      Washington’s Birthday/Presidents Day
      Memorial Day
      Independence Day
      Labor Day
      Indigenous Peoples Day (still officially Columbus Day, ugh :-/)
      Veterans Day
      Thanksgiving Day
      Christmas Day

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Our official holidays are New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving day, Christmas Day. No eves or days-after. However, I work remotely, so as long as I get it cleared by my manager, I can work on the official holiday and save the PTO for a different day. Which I actually do quite regularly, at least for half days, because I rarely do anything notable on holidays and have better uses for my PTO than spending it sitting around my house doing the same things I always do. :)

      My husband gets the day after Thanksgiving and I think half-days on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve?