open thread – November 22-23, 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.

{ 1,462 comments… read them below }

  1. Diahann Carroll*

    This week’s post about asking for a raise was interesting and raised (heh) a serious question for me: does it make sense to ask for a raise when you feel you’re already being paid fairly and you know management advocates for you to get quarterly bonuses already? I don’t think it does, but I’m curious to hear others’ perspectives on this.

    I’m now seven months into my new job and still really enjoy what I do and the company I work for. This place has its problems like any other (e.g., some annoying and/or lazy people), but overall, it’s one of the best employers I’ve had in my nearly 10 year career. I work full time out of state from home; I get to set my own hours; I work on a variety of different projects, many of which are high profile and some of which I developed myself; and I’m a part of a lot of strategic initiatives that lead to fiscal growth for our company.

    I currently have the wrong title for what I do, and that’s because management didn’t really have a firm idea about what my role was supposed to be when I was hired (my position was newly created) – I came in, identified gaps in our company’s sales process, and filled them in, which turned my role into something else entirely. Based on my current job title, I make 50% more than others in my field with my experience level (23 months in this job function), so I’m technically very overpaid.

    My manager, however, just recently submitted a change request with HR to update my title to a more accurate title that we both agreed on. The new title, when it goes into effect, will put me slightly below the median nationwide salary for the role, which again, isn’t that bad given I’ve only been in this particular job area for 23 months and I don’t have all of the skills that people with my new title typically have (I’d be a content development manager, but I have no graphic design experience).

    I get quarterly bonuses and my last one, paid out last week, was paid out at 100% (my first with the company was paid out at 101% of a pro-rated amount since I’d only been employed with them for half the quarter). My grandboss sets my salary and is responsible for all raises and bonus calculations, and he always tells me he believes I’m doing a great job, so he wants me to get all of my bonus allowance. He also told me that he’s looking to add three new people to our team in various roles next year, so I know that’s going to affect our department’s budget. Given this, I figured that I’d be content to just take whatever merit increase I get in March because I’m not being underpaid by any means and my grandboss is trying to ensure my bonuses are always guaranteed. And when my bonuses are calculated in with my current base salary, I’m only about $3k shy of the median nationwide salary for my new job title. But then I keep seeing people say, “Don’t leave money on the table,” which makes a lot of sense to me too.

    TLDR; I’m being paid quite well for only 23 months in a particular field/job area, I’ve only been with my current employer for seven months and earn 50% more money than others with my same experience level, and reviews are about to happen in March. I have an excellent job with really good, affordable benefits, and I work full time from home. Should I still ask for a raise come review time if I get a small merit increase of between 1-3%?

    1. Catsaber*

      I am wondering this myself, because I’m in a similar situation. I am paid pretty well for my title, though my title doesn’t really reflect what I do – but if I was paid at market rate for what I actually do, then my salary would be a lot lower. We don’t do bonuses (state university) but my merit raises have always been on the higher end. I’ve been promoted twice in my 3 years here. I love my boss, and my team, and I’ve got a lot of really great benefits. More money would certainly be nice, but I feel like I’m paid fairly for my level – I’m even making higher than market for my title. So asking for more money just feels like…I’m being greedy?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ha – same. That’s the exact word that popped into my mind when reading that thread and seeing people say things like, “Don’t leave money on the table.” I’m like, “But is that what I’d be doing??” Plus, I don’t want to get too well paid right now because my company has a habit of dumping expensive employees during downturns in the economy and I need my job and the benefits that come with it.

        1. Catsaber*

          Yes, I wonder if I am truly leaving money on the table. Being at a state university, budgets are usually pretty tight, so asking would probably get me a no. The best way to make more money around here is to get reclassified or promoted.

          Of course, I *am* leaving money on the table by staying at a state university. I could probably make more money at a big company, but I doubt my benefits would be as good. Also, having a good boss is priceless, and I don’t want to give that up!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Wipe the idea of “being greedy” out of your mind! Asking for money for your services/employment duties is not greedy. Greedy requires you to not earn it, you are earning it. You’re not gaming the system or breaking rules to get someone else’s stuff. That’s what greed is, no just wanting to be compensated. Value is very subjective and we all value ourselves and others differently, the thing with employment is that we have to be on the same page in some sense with our employers for that amount to shake out in both favors.

        1. Malter Witty*

          I wonder if the C-suite people ever have those thoughts… “Am I really worth $2 million a year *and* stock options? I feel a little overpaid for my title considering what I actually do. ”

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Nope, the nasty ones just spoon feed it to the lower levels so that they can get one more ivory backscratcher this year.

            I say that as someone who actually has no issue with executives making big money, I get why they do.

            The issue with me isn’t “overpaid” people, it’s the underpaid ones!

      3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Ugh, I worked somewhere where they were really lazy about titles, it makes my resume a mess. It’s as bad as, say, me being the director of a llama barn (managing staff, operations, a budget) with the title of poop shoveler (uh shovels llama poop) because nobody could be bothered to update the payroll system. I’m sure it’s been a problem during my job search, even though my previous bosses could easily explain what the deal was because they too had incorrect titles.

    2. Herding Butterflies*

      I think you can ask, and yes wait until your annual review. I say this as it appears that there are a lot of positive changes happening that are to your benefit – but they may take a few months to come together – so if your review is in March, as you note above, then that would be a good time to look at everything and weigh it out.

      1. Waiting At The DMV*

        Waiting until the annual review to ask for a raise is actually not great. At many companies, budgets are locked in the months ahead of the actual reviews, so by the time you sit down with your manager the funds are already largely allocated. Definitely find out what the budget timeline is at your organization.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Factor in those new employees too –would they be reporting to you? Would you be training them or helping them manage their projects? That’s a pay-level difference right there.
      I’m no one to talk though…only time I’ve had the nerve to ask for a raise was when the company eliminated WFH during a gas price hike right after we’d been reorganized into a different division. (I got it, but I was so nervous I asked for “a raise” not a “raise of $X” , so I suspect I could have done better.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Re: the new employees. From what grandboss says, none of them would report to me, but one of our current team members would start dotted line reporting to me once grandboss reorganizes his position to do more writing-based work (I’m responsible for making sure all external communications are well-written and the messaging aligns with our corporate sales strategy).

    4. annony*

      You generally want to have a justification for why you are asking for more money. You probably don’t want to use the national averages because those indicate that you are being paid well (if I’m interpreting correctly). Instead think about what you are doing vs what they hired you for. Are you doing a lot more and at a higher level? If so it makes sense to ask for a raise. However, if you don’t feel like you can make that argument yet, you could instead talk to your boss about professional development and what she would need to see in order for you to get a raise or promotion. Not asking for a raise after one year isn’t a bad thing if you don’t feel you have a strong case for it yet and are currently being paid fairly.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Are you doing a lot more and at a higher level?

        I am, and my manager wants our small team to take on some more high-level work that I’ll be essentially leading, but it hasn’t happened yet. The thing is, with the title change, I’m not sure if HR will change the pay band for my role – I hope they do (most salary sites say the high end of the range for my new title is around $120-130k a year, which is way more than for my current title), and I know I’m already almost at the top of my current salary band, but you never know.

        1. Christy*

          It seems to me that you’d have the most long-term impact on your salary if you could get them to change the pay band on your role. I’d focus on that rather than whatever percentage increase. (Or do both!)

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          I think it’s fine to talk raise, but maybe that band is the real thing to bring up to your boss now, if that stays where it is for too long then it’ll be harder to get it moved down the road when you really are deserving of a significantly higher salary even if it’s under the same title.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would wait until the title change was authorized and then bring it up at your year review. Right now it wouldn’t make sense, given your title is so out of wack but it’s being taken care of. Then you can go at it with a “now that we’ve adjusted my title and with all *these* accomplishments in the last year, can we discuss an salary adjustment? I’m thinking about X%”

      Honestly, given how you’ve taken the place by storm and done well, I’d be shocked and actually angry if your manager doesn’t already give you a decent sized increase at the annual review time.

      1. Pam*

        I’d be shocked and actually angry

        Come on, it’s not like the manager brought cheap rolls to the potluck!

          1. Clisby*

            But everybody knows you bring the cheap-ass rolls, and I make mine after grinding the wheat I’ve grown in my backyard and milking my own cows, you piker!

    6. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask, come review time, but I think that if you are looking to argue based on normal salries for the job, you probably need to be looking at you own local area, not nationwide figures.

      Alsothink about what you are bringing to the job and how you are benefitting the company – if you can point at concrete things like incresed volume of sales or higher profit margins due increaed efficieny, that’s great as they are directly measureable financial benefits you’ve brought the company. However, even if your role doesn’t have a direct financial result like that, think about what you are doiing, specificallym that is over and above what you were doing or expected to do when you started, and what added benefits / added value it brings to the company.

      If you are taking on new responsibilities in supevisng others then raise that.

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      I’d need more info before I’d use the median nationwide salary argument as a justification for a raise. Is your position typically concentrated in areas with high COLs which will in turn drive up salaries? Also, how do those COLs compare to where you live? It sounds like your boss is a great advocate for you so I doubt you’ll ruffle any feathers if you ask for a raise. I might be more inclined to shore up the skills that I’m lacking in my new role (you mentioned graphic design) and then use that to advocate for a bigger raise when your next salary review comes up.

      Now, there is another case to be made too. With your new title, what skills are you missing and how big are those skills in terms of the overall component of your new title? You mentioned graphic design, is that a big deal for a content development manager? Like 10% of the role? Less? More? Where I’m going is if you’re already crushing 90% of the position and you just need need to fill in some moderate skill gaps, you could safely advocate for a bigger raise and feel good about your case. If however, you need a big boost in skills…say oh I don’t know…40% you’re technically pretty overpaid with your new title and I’d more on leveling up.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        See, the graphic design piece varies per industry per job for this title. I’ve seen job postings all over Indeed and Glassdoor for these jobs, and some of them only briefly mention design skills being preferred – the majority of the job (from what I’ve seen) is focused on creating written content, which I do. My manager also spoke to grandboss about hiring a dedicated graphic designer for our team (even though our company already has a shared service for graphic design assistance), so I’m not even sure if he would want me to focus on that aspect of the job – I’d like to, though, for my own personal edification and to ensure that, should I ever leave, I can get another content development job with a competitive salary.

        1. T. Boone Pickens*

          Hmmm, ok that clarifies things. Your boss seems pretty forward thinking so you’d hope that they would advocate for a salary bump given the title change. That being said, if you haven’t done so already sit down with your boss and see how your role/workload will increase once the title takes effect and you might be able to put together a solid business case for why a raise is appropriate.

    8. Eponymous*

      Raise questions here, too, but a very different situation. Long story short, I feel I’m doing excellent work (difficult projects, improving practices) but I recently changed to part-time (fewer billable hours per week) and I’m not sure I can justify asking for more money.

      This summer my employer agreed to let me drop to 3/4 time (30 hours is the minimum needed to maintain benefits; I’m paid hourly) so I could go back to school part-time. Since my school schedule is somewhat inconsistent I’ve been removed from the pool of llama groomers and do “only” office work–proposals, budgets, data analysis, reporting, mapping–and allowed to work from home when necessary. I really appreciate the flexibility I’ve been given.

      That said, I end up doing a lot of difficult work. I had mentioned last week that we’ve had training and documentation issues–those are the reports I’m asked to write fairly regularly, in fact there are certain project managers that seek me out for those reports because they know I’ll really dig into them and figure out a bunch of stuff. I enjoy being able to solve puzzles like that to a certain point, but it’s becoming incredibly obnoxious because I shouldn’t have to be solving puzzles, our llama groomers should be writing proper documentation to begin with. I’ve been encouraging our standards team to use me to develop training, spoken to project managers about addressing concerns with llama groomers, and the mistakes keep happening.

      This past week I was given permission by a member of the standards team to give a new version of a llama grooming checklist to our groomers and it was well-received. A few days later I was told that the head of the standards team thinks that I should have made the checklist match our SOPs first, but I know that this particular SOP is up for revision and it hasn’t happened in months and won’t happen for months due to other issues. The new checklist needed to be put out there so our groomers would stop missing steps and causing more problems down the line!

      I know I can point to a long list of flusterclucks that I’ve sorted out and departmental improvements that I’ve made, but I almost feel like those are canceled out by the “part-time-edness”. Plus, there’s a department-wide reorganization coming up at the start of the new year, and I’m not sure I’ll be keeping my current supervisor or if I’ll be shuffled around to someone else who may or may not understand what-all’s been going on.

      1. Malter Witty*

        If you were working full time, taking into account the level of work you do, plus the value of benefits (paid vacation, time off, 401k match, health insurance) what would your FT hourly rate work out to be?
        Now compare that to your PT hourly rate. What feels like a fair(justifiable) hourly rate?

  2. nanushka*

    Hi all, avid reader, first-time commenter here. Several years ago, a colleague of mine whom I would consider a “work friend” was involved in a workplace incident and subsequently disciplined in a manner that seemed disproportionately harsh to me and some other colleagues. (That said, we only really got my friend’s side of the full story, as our employer reasonably refused, for employee privacy reasons, to comment on the exact nature of the incident or their response. That said, they seemed pretty miffed that our colleague shared his side of the story with us, which I thought was fully within his rights.)

    A number of us found the incident upsetting and we wrote a respectful letter to our supervisor in which we acknowledged the privacy issues at play and our lack of full knowledge but asked for some clarification of their general policies and procedures for responding to such incidents.

    My friend confided in me a number of times, and I also helped him edit some correspondence with our employer responding to the disciplinary actions.

    About a year later, my friend lost his job and has now sued my employer. (I believe the exact charge is age discrimination though I’m not sure of the details.)

    Now I have been notified by my employer that my friend’s lawyers have asked to take my deposition.

    Any advice on how to navigate this? FWIW I think I am pretty highly respected by my employer for my work, but I suspect they view me as not a “company man.”

    Do I need a lawyer? (Not sure I could afford one, though I really have no idea what the expense would be, never having been involved in any legal proceedings before.) Other things I should consider or keep in mind?

    Thanks so much!

    1. irene adler*

      Check with the local Bar Association website. They often have lawyer referral services. These usually come with a free 30 minute consultation (often by phone). So you can run the facts by the referred attorney and they can advise you re: whether you should hire an attorney.

      They should also have referral services for low-cost options.

      NOTE: when I used this service for an unlawful detainer situation, the attorney talked me through how to properly write and serve the 30 day notice. For free. It worked. Didn’t pay the attorney a dime (though I am most grateful for his advice!).

      1. irene adler*

        I had to give a deposition regarding an ex-employee. He claimed an on-the-job injury was causing lasting problems. He never reported the injury when it occurred. So the company was shocked to learn of this.

        I was asked questions to corroborate the details of the injury (because I was one of many who witnessed it). So I just told them what I observed. That’s all. They went on to ask questions about the ex-employee’s personal life. I didn’t know much about that so I just answered “I don’t know about that” to those questions.

        No repercussions occurred.

        1. valentine*

          You should have a lawyer because your friend will likely argue that the group letter, being their sounding board, and the editing show that you are on their side and think your employer is wrong, which you probably don’t want to say. You’re not going to instinctively know how to protect yourself.

          1. nanushka*

            Interesting point, and concerning. Luckily, I can likely rely a good amount on the fact that there were many details I was not privy to, so I can perhaps try to remain agnostic as to “picking a side.” But it’s true that I do/did have some concerns about how my employer handled the situation, and there is email documentation of that.

    2. Amy Sly*

      It’s a deposition. They exist to be the “first draft” of what will be talked about in court, so your job is to, as they say, speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. As such, the only reason you might *need* a lawyer is if you’re concerned about incriminating or contradicting yourself. (It’s rarely a bad idea to have a lawyer with you just in case, but a witness bringing their own lawyer to a deposition in a case like this is probably not expected.) So long as what you say is true and limited to what you speak to with authority — that is, what you saw and heard, not what you think someone else was thinking — you shouldn’t have any problems. It’s not your job to defend your employer or make your ex-coworker’s case.

        1. Amy Sly*

          The retaliation concern is separate, and while retaliating against employees for failing to commit perjury is stupid, I won’t conflate stupid with impossible. In that case, I second the suggestion above to see if you can speak to a lawyer about how to protect yourself. Not my area of law at all, but I would make the following recommendations:
          * Get a snapshot of your duties and treatment before you are deposed so that you can compare how the company treats you afterwards.
          * If you think HR won’t pile on with mistreatment, you may also want to memo someone there ahead of time that you’re concerned about your deposition being used against you at work, so they’re primed to listen afterwards in case something does happen.
          * Follow all HR policies for reporting mistreatment to create a paper trail.
          * Get as much as you can in writing and keep copies where possible while complying with information security rules to make sure your paper trail doesn’t disappear.

          1. Amy Sly*

            All that being said, remember Hanlon’s Razer: Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence. (Or bureaucratic rules, which comes to much the same thing.) It’s possible that your company is completely on the up and up and wouldn’t dream of retaliation — I don’t know; I’m not there — so please don’t get so paranoid about possible retaliation that you become needlessly antagonistic.

            1. nanushka*

              Ugh, yes – malice or incompetence? I have definitely been left asking myself that question on numerous occasions. It can be so hard to tell at times!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      The only reason you would need a lawyer is if you think your employer is going to retaliate against you for telling the truth. A deposition is just a witness interview under oath and recorded. They are generally casual, just someone asking you questions about things you saw. If you don’t know what they are asking about (Do you remember a time when your boss said, “She is too old to handle this project?” kind of thing) then you say that you didn’t see that and they move on to the next question. You may have lots of information to give, or the questions may not pertain to you. Just be honest and don’t sweat it!

      1. nanushka*

        Yes, there’s a lot about the situation that I don’t know, and it was also early 2016, so my memories are truly faded. I’ll try to remember to just stick to the narrow facts of what I experienced.

        1. Not In NYC Any More*

          This is exactly what my brother, who is an employment lawyer, told me when I was part of a disposition for a large sex and age discrimination case. Stick to just the observable verifiable facts – do not editorialize, do not make inferences, do not suggest motives or what you “think” something means. Do not volunteer information that is not asked for. Ninety-nine percent of my answers were “yes” “no” “I wasn’t there.” If you stick to the truth as you personally observed it, you won’t need a lawyer.

          1. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.*

            All of what Not in NYC said – further, as I tell everyone I prep for depositions, remember that if “I don’t recall” was a good enough answer for a sitting president, it’s good enough for you!

            1. OhBehave*

              Yes. Answer each question succinctly and then stop talking. Nerves may make people ramble especially if there is a lag between questions.

            2. emmelemm*

              Yeah, just to further on this, try to answer everything as briefly as possible and answer only what was asked. My partner is a lawyer and when his clients get deposed, he tells them, “If the other attorney asks, ‘Do you know what time it is?’ and you are wearing a watch (or can see a clock, whatever), say, ‘Yes.’ Do *not* say ‘It’s 4:30.’ Wait until they ask you, ‘What time is it?'”

    4. Stornry*

      Since you don’t know the full details of the incident, just stick to the facts. If you’d been involved in whatever it was or had done something similar, you might have cause to worry that your part in it could expose you to discipline — but since you weren’t and didn’t (as far as you know), you should be fine. Likely they’ll ask you about general work policies or policies/procedures related to the incident as you understand them (to determine if they were clearly stated or legal) or you could be called as a “character witness”. Stay calm and only answer what you know – don’t guess or extrapolate. (Above all, be honest. We have had more than one person here fired simply for lying – and this is with overwhelming evidence, mind you – if they’d only admitted to the relatively minor infraction and apologized, they’d have been given another chance.) If your answers may not reflect well on the company, just remember that any retaliation by the company for answering questions would be illegal on their part.

    5. Bagpuss*

      As you have been given the information by your employer, can you ask them whether they will arrange for a lawyer to attend with you?

      1. nanushka*

        A lawyer in that situation would be looking out for my employer’s interests, not my own. I am a bit concerned about any possible repercussions to me that may come from my employer.

        1. Amy Sly*

          The employer will likely have a lawyer there to ask questions, in addition to the ex-coworker’s lawyer. As I noted above, you shouldn’t need a lawyer for the deposition itself, because you’re only answering questions honestly.

    6. SpellingBee*

      The one most important thing to keep in mind while actually giving your deposition is to only answer the question that is being asked. The classic example is the answer to the question “Do you know what time it is?” It’s not the actual time (i.e., not “3:35” or “I think around 3:30”), it’s “Yes” or “No,” as the case may be. Tell the truth, don’t ramble, don’t speculate, and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember.” It will be fine! It’s just information-gathering, and they’re taking your deposition because you were privy to at least some of the details.

    7. I am not a lawyer*

      So take this with a grain of salt – – but you might want to write down all of the facts as you remember them. And reread it at some point before you go to the deposition so that it is clear in your mind what you remember.

      Don’t let the deposition question be the first time you recall something because you want to be clear on your wording so that they don’t try to catch you with a wording issue.

      Also, “I don’t recall” can be your friend.

      1. nanushka*

        Yes, very good point. I’ve already started reviewing past correspondence and will be continuing to do so and to write additional notes before the deposition. I was worried about exactly what you mention.

          1. nanushka*

            Also a good point. I think that, for the things I do remember, I want to make sure I think through their details beforehand, so as not to misspeak or get tripped up by follow-up questions; for the things I don’t remember….well, I’ll leave them be.

          2. Amy Sly*

            Caveats: I’m not currently licensed and I was terrible at evidence.

            That said, my recollection is that reviewing documents made at the time of the incident is appropriate, though not necessary. However, be very, *very* careful that in refreshing your memory you don’t accidently implant false memories and that any new notes you write out to prepare are completely consistent with the earlier records. Those earlier records may be admitted into evidence at some point, and you do not want to contradict them with what you say in the deposition.

        1. SpellingBee*

          Don’t take the notes with you to the deposition, though. In fact, I’d recommend destroying them well before the date of the depo, as they could be discoverable if the plaintiff’s attorney learns that you have them. Also, given what you wrote you may be asked to identify documents or testify as to their content – insist on seeing the document if it isn’t given to you, and take the time to read it carefully to make sure it’s what you think it is. One more thing – don’t be afraid of silence! Answer a question briefly, then wait for the next. Don’t be tempted to keep talking just because the attorney is looking at you expectantly.

          Your employer’s attorney will almost certainly have a prep session with you prior to your deposition, not necessarily for your benefit but to find out what you know and how you’re going to testify. They’ll go over all of this with you, and more.

          1. Amy Sly*

            Honestly, because those notes could be discoverable, nanushka should most definitely NOT destroy them. Unless the plaintiff’s attorneys are complete idiots, the firm should be under a disclosure order already. The notes are probably not discoverable, having been made in anticipation of litigation, but if they are and then destroyed, that’s a real problem. Definitely talk to a lawyer on this point! (Though the company’s attorney may be able to advise you on this point without retaining your own.)

          2. Public Sector Manager*

            I think the notes OP prepares will be subject to discovery. There will be all sorts of questions about the notes (e.g. when were they prepared, why did you prepare them, did anyone help you, did you consult any other documents while preparing them, etc.).

            My advice is to not make the notes and for the notes you have made, just leave them alone. In the end, no one will care that you made a half page of personal notes.

    8. Another Lawyer*

      As others have said, it’s worth consulting with a lawyer. Even if you only end up paying for an hour of time and don’t pay for the attorney to come with you to the deposition, having someone explain the process and give you a few pointers about what to do and not do could be helpful.

    9. Ms. Moneypenny*

      It might be worth having a lawyer ask the plaintiff’s lawyers what they want to know. I assume they are seeking your deposition as a fact witness. Your employer’s lawyer MAY be available to represent you at the deposition at no cost to you, but know going in he is the lawyer for your employer and not for you. His goal is to protect the interests of your employer. Since this is work related, you can see if your employer will pay for a lawyer to guide you through the deposition process.

    10. Mrs. Picklesby*

      Litigation paralegal here to offer some tips:

      ▪ Some people do bring counsel with them to depositions, but in my experience it is uncommon. If you go that route, know that many attorneys do not charge for the initial consultation. They do charge an hourly rate for time spent preparing, traveling, and attending.
      ▪ You will probably be asked what you did to prepare, whether you made any notes about the incident, for clarification on any talks/emails/letters between you and your former colleague or your employer’s representatives about the incident, your recollection of certain events, and possibly your opinion about what happened overall.
      ▪ Really listen to each question and then answer–you either know or don’t know. The deposing attorney will ask follow-up questions for more details. It REALLY REALLY goes much faster this way!
      ▪ You aren’t a mind-reader (right?), so you want to avoid speculation about what people were thinking when they said x or what people meant by x.
      ▪ Echoing others’ comments—it’s best to be honest. I see these responses all the time: I don’t know, I don’t remember, I’ve never seen this before, I wasn’t part of that conversation, and I’m not sure.

    11. Sled dog mama*

      NAL, my brother is one and he has told me he always advises clients to be 100% certain they understand the question and if they are at all confused to ask for clarification.

    12. Observer*

      I kind of understand why the company was miffed – your friend told his side of the story and they can’t respond. Yes, he has a right to do this, and I would hope they wouldn’t punish him for it (if you’re non-exempt it might be illegal for them to do so, in fact), but I can understand feeling miffed.

      One thing is that if this goes to trial, you might finally find out what happened with that incident. If it doesn’t come up, it’s a good bet that the part of the story you don’t know is not as favorable to you as he would like you to believe.

      Whether or not you get a lawyer, you need to be very careful in how you answer any questions asked by the lawyer(s). Stick to facts that you know to be true, not opinions and theories or things that you heard. Answer ONLY the question you are asked, but don’t be stupid (like the guy who claimed that he couldn’t say for sure that his black employee is actually black or whether President Obama or Kwame Kilpatrick are black because he never asked them. Google “founders brewery racism”.)

  3. Lost my bonus*

    I know I am 99% in the wrong about this but could use some help in resetting here. 

    My company required everyone to work extra hours during busy season, so 60+ hours a week for 3 months. To compensate, we were given bonus PTO to be used after busy season.  

    This past year, we underwent a lot of changes which included creating a new department and new positions within that dept. I was promoted to that dept. When I took this job, I was given a 10k increase in salary and there was the understanding that there was so much work of course we’d be working during busy season. 

    However, because there was a new department and team, we actually did pretty well and were able to catch up on the backlog so it wouldn’t be necessary to work extra hours. 

    Here’s where I’m struggling: Im feeling like I got a pay cut and lost my bonus. 

    Logically, I know that yes if I don’t work those hours, I am not entitled to compensation for said hours. 

    My logical and emotional side are not syncing on this. I feel like my team and I have worked just as hard as everyone else  but we’re on the losing end of the stick here? People here would love to not work during busy season hours, and this is considered our reward–to not work the extra hours.

    I’ve more or less accepted it but now the feelings are creeping in. My boss is pretty reasonable and I acn have a good conversation with him, but is ther e anything I can bring up?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Wait, did you get overtime for those extra hours, or is it the PTO you’re missing? I’m a little confused.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, that was compensation for working 60-hour weeks — instead of extra PTO, you get a normal workweek. So I don’t think you can ask for more PTO when you aren’t putting in the overtime that earned it for you.

          It’s not quite the same, but we have Summer Hours here where we have to work a compressed workweek Mon-Thu in order to have a half-day on Fridays. It is always an adjustment to go back to working a full day in September, but we’re not losing anything – our schedules are just shifting, so we can come in a little later or take a full lunch or what have you.

    2. CatCat*

      What outcome are you hoping for if you speak to your boss?

      Do you want to go back to a team that works 60+ hour/week for 3 months so you can earn the bonus PTO? If that’s your goal, you can broach the subject of moving to another team with your boss.

    3. JB (not in Houston)*

      I don’t see what you could reasonably bring up? “I know I didn’t work as many hours as those people getting bonuses, but I think I should get a bonus anyway.” Yes, you worked just as hard *during the hours that you worked* as the people working extra hours, but you didn’t work for as long. Think about it as if you worked hourly. If you didn’t have to work overtime but your coworker did, would you feel comfortable going to your boss and saying “May worked 60 hours, so she’s getting paid overtime. I only worked 40 hours this week, but I did work hard during those 40 hours, so I should get time and a half for it.”

      It is totally understandable to feel like you lost something. You used to get something that you aren’t getting this year. But that PTO was compensation for doing something that you did not do this year. Instead, this year you got a raise and more free time. I get the feeling of loss, and maybe you would rather work extra hours and get the time off later, but I don’t see how you can bring this to your boss.

      1. Lost my bonus*

        Sigh.. I know i am in the wrong here. Yall are right.

        I think my underlying fear was/is, that as this new department grows, we’ll be suddenly not entitled to anything from the company – days off, summer Fridays, partaking in company events etc. We went from being a 20 person company where its all hands on deck, everyone works = everyone reaps the rewards to…being 100+ with more structure and organization. It’s been nice, but still a gradual change.

        1. valentine*

          You are missing the trenches, but 60 hours/week is wild, mandatory weekends (is there even a business need for this) are worse, and 50 isn’t that much better. I doubt the PTO was in a quantity large enough to really equal that and, especially if you couldn’t take it in week-long increments, you don’t come out ahead health-wise. Why not enjoy your time off and give yourself a chance to develop a new routine?

          A good company will want to give you perks (I hope you don’t mean you expect not to have any days off at all) for good work, regardless of how many hours it takes.

          1. Lost my bonus*

            “Why not enjoy your time off and give yourself a chance to develop a new routine?”

            I like that idea. I guess I am slowly coming around to it. mandatory extra hours and weekends is normal for our industry. We’ll still get days off, but that’s regular PTO that every employee gets.

        2. JB (not in Houston)*

          Wait, you’ll still get days off, right? Do you mean extra days off? I’m not sure why you think your department specifically won’t be getting the perks that everyone else gets. Is there something else going on?

          You’re totally right that things change as a company grows, and sometimes you’ll miss the old ways. But if your department is being excluded from participating in events or perks that other departments get, that’s worth speaking up about. Not things where there’s a legitimate reason for being treated differently, like the extra PTO time. But something like partaking in company events–I’m not sure what that means exactly but if you mean things like company picnics, company holiday parties, that kind of thing, y’all shouldn’t be excluded from things like that.

          1. Lost my bonus*

            Yes, you nailed it. I actually love how we’ve grown and become structured, and I enjoy my job otherwise. No one anticipated until now that we’d have gotten so caught up that extra hours wouldn’t be necessary.

        3. WantonSeedStitch*

          It sounds like you might want a different kind of workplace than the kind you’re going to be in. I know some people who love, love, love working at startups, with all the franticness and excitement that can entail. When the company gets too big, or goes public, or gets bought, they move on to another startup. You might give some thought to the idea of seeking a new position at a company that’s more in its early stages and hasn’t yet started experiencing the same kind of growth your current company is seeing–but if you do, make sure you find out in advance whether the compensations they give for the extra work will make it worth your while!

    4. Person from the Resume*

      You did exchange some complete days off in return for not working 20 additional hours a week during the busy time. So I understand where you see “loss” in that, but you are wrong and it will help to readjust your feelings.

      But I recommend that you keep reminding yourself that you worked 20 hours less a week during the busy period than others. I can’t imagine where those 20 extra hours come in. It must be on the weekends in addition to late nights so remind yourself of the weekends during the busy period where you were off and got to go out and have fun or just how you weren’t perpetually exhausted for 3 months for working 60 hour weeks. Remind yourself of the fun stuff you got to do during the busy season after work when other had to stay and work late.

      Basically whenever you start to think about how you miss those bonus PTO very consciously remind yourself of what you gained when you didn’t earn it.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I feel like my team and I have worked just as hard as everyone else but we’re on the losing end of the stick here?

        This is not true. Your team worked on average 20 hours less per week than everyone else during the busy season. So I recommend that you consciously and mindfully try to reset this incorrect feeling in your brain every time you experience it.

        1. Lost my bonus*

          Well, this is for the busy season coming up. There is still a chance we will work extra hours, but nowhere near the extent of the others. (maybe like…50 hours a week for 2 weeks). In that specific instance, I am not sure if we will still be granted a bonus (due to extra hours worked) or not.

          My team hasn’t asked nor do they seem bothered, so I shouldn’t be either.

          1. annony*

            I think you are borrowing trouble. If you end up working overtime and the company gives everyone else extra PTO but not you, then you can speak up and ask for some. Ask for an amount proportional to the amount of overtime you work. So if you are working 50 hours while the other departments work 60, ask for half the amount of PTO they are given. But chances are your company will not screw you over.

            But if you really miss the extra PTO, you can look into transferring back. There is nothing wrong with deciding that you liked your old job better.

          2. Natalie*

            What if you tried something new during some of that time that you were previously working? Pick up a new hobby or start getting regular pedicures or something.

            Sometimes when you are used to having been overstimulated, stepping away from that feels boring in comparison unless you’re deliberate about adding new and interesting things to the time you got back.

          3. theletter*

            Since your department is picking up this slack, you should use this as a selling point when you do your end of year performance review, which may earn you more monetary compensation.

            Wouldn’t you like to:
            – invest in new methods of self care such as a book club or a gym?
            – spend more time researching where to invest that money you earned?
            – invest more time into a hobby that requires regular practice?
            – reset your holiday plans so that you can spend more time celebrating?
            – bask in the glory of providing a regular routine for your coworkers?

      2. Lost my bonus*

        Ugh I know, I’m just in my feelings….they’re not always logical. So for the extra hours, come to work early, and leave late. Mandatory to work at least 5 hours on a weekend. I’ve gone 6 years not seeing sunlight for 4 months straight and this past April I worked for 20 days straight.

        And then use that bonus PTO to take days off here and there to relax.

        Yeah, now that I say it out loud, I get it. LOL.

        1. IT Guy*

          I know this must be tough to no longer have a perk you once had, but you’re working less and compensated more $$$. PTO in my org would not be considered a bonus, because it’s hard to use the amount we’re already allotted. Trading in PTO for money would be worth something though.

        2. MissGirl*

          My feelings aren’t always logical—none of ours are. Sometimes I get so stressed and upset about change before realizing, wait this change is good. Your adjusting to a new status quo and eventually your feelings will catch up. This a good place to explore it without consequences.

            1. OhBehave*

              Not only are you missing the bonus PTO, but perhaps you’re also missing the camaraderie you all enjoyed. I was in conference production for 20 years. Busy times were stupid BUSY. But we all had the best time together sharing our aches and exhaustion. I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything else. As others have suggested, relish the freedom of not working when other teams never leave.

              1. Lost my bonus*

                Honestly? YES. the bonding and the camaraderie. Didn’t want to say it but so much this. Some of the best conversations and laughs were had during late hours/weekends working.

        3. CMart*

          Nah, I get it. You’re right to be trying to talk yourself down from your feelings, and you’re absolutely right that it’s not something to complain about, but I understand where you’re coming from.

          Working 60+ hour weeks is busy, but it’s just adding more work on top of days you’re already working, and then you got to take extra entire days off later on. Now you just get to work a normal amount consistently. “I will work today, and tomorrow, and the day after and have a few hours in the evening to myself each day” feels different than “I will work all day today and tomorrow, but the day after I don’t have to do anything at all.” The hours work out to be the same, but the luxury of an entire day off is different than less-busy days.

          It’s much more sustainable to just have a 40ish hour work week all year long with standard PTO! It’s better for you in the long run, I promise. But I totally see how it feels a bit like you’ve been robbed, in a way.

        4. Jaydee*

          This sounds a lot like my situation, although I changed employers. It is a BIG change to go from that kind of always-on workplace (where you *need* the additional time off because of the intensity of the work) to a more consistent and structured 40 hours per week with the occasional busy periods of, like, a few days of travel or a couple weeks of 10 hour days for a big project or the occasional late night or Saturday in the office.

          Give yourself some time (6 months or so…maybe longer) to acclimate. And take advantage of the new structure to your schedule. Start making plans in the evenings, whether it’s a class at the gym or a book club or a weekly dinner with friends or just “Tuesday’s are my night to eat takeout and binge watch whatever I want.” Even if it’s as simple as changes to your routine at home, like cooking dinner more often or doing laundry during the week instead of on Sunday.

          Your day-to-day life will be calmer and smoother, and you won’t feel the need for all that PTO. You’ll find that the regular amount you get is probably sufficient to enable you to take actual leisure time instead of needing a day off to catch up on sleep or all the errands you didn’t get done while you were working 60+ hours a week for months on end.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      OK, I’m an English major doing math before coffee, so take this with a grain of salt:

      Without factoring in extra PTO, if your base hourly rate is more than $18.50 an hour, you technically are making less money.
      18.50/hour = 27.75/hour OT.
      three months = 12 weeks of 20 hours/week OT = 360 hours
      360 x 27.75 = $10,000

      However, as everyone else has pointed out, you are earning that $10,000 over a standard 2,080-hour work year rather than a 2,440-hour work year. That extra time HAS to be worth something.

    6. M. Albertine*

      It sounds like that bonus PTO is more like comp time. How many hours of overtime did it take to get one bonus hour of PTO? If it was something like 4 hours overtime = 1 hour PTO, can you reframe it as you got 3 extra hours of free time? Can the trade off of 3 hours during busy season be worth 1 hour at other times of the year?

      1. Lost my bonus*

        I think the range was from 2 days to 10 days. Only management received 10 days (which I was eligible to receive and did for this year). That makes a lot of sense to do it that way.

        1. WellRed*

          Unless I am missing something, I don’t see the appeal of working 60 hour weeks for three months in exchange for 10 days of PTO.

          1. CMart*

            Yeah that’s what, 20 extra hours a week x 13.5 weeks = 270 extra hours. In exchange for a maximum of 80 hours of PTO?

        2. Anon Here*

          I think there is a way to bring it up with the boss. You could say that, while you’re really grateful for your new role and the raise, you also enjoyed the long hours and having a few extra days off to do [insert activity]. Then you could offer to put in extra time in exchange for additional PTO when/if/as needed. Obviously, emphasize the former (working overtime to help the company succeed). Then you’d just come across as someone with a strong work ethic.

          But there’s a downside to that. They might take you up on it and ask you to work longer hours when it’s not an ideal time and/or doing work that you don’t enjoy. So consider whether you really want that or if, maybe, you’re just unhappy with the way the company’s changing overall and this is an easy thing to focus on.

    7. Lost my bonus*

      Thank you so much everyone for the kind & thoughtful responses. Knew I could get my gut-check here!

  4. Caryloo*

    I work in an office setting, doing data analytics and business maintenance for a global company. I recently started working part time at a bakery, because it’s my passion and I can get paid for it! The lead baker is 8 months pregnant, and they’re asking if I can step in as her back up/cover maternity leave. Can I ask my boss (we have a good relationship) if I can alter my schedule to do that? My current office schedule is 9-5 Mon-Fri, and I would be asking to do a slightly long day (8-5) on Mondays and Tuesdays, then work from home (9-5) or come in slightly late to core hours (10-5) Weds, Thurs, and Fri. Is that reasonable, to ask my full-time job to accommodate my part-time job? Any language you’d recommend using?

    1. Wednesday's Child*

      I would be more inclined to ask for the flexible schedule where you are actually in the office M-F. Asking to work from home three days a week looks like you are going to be working at the bakery during that time. I’d also look at whether your office is generally flexible with schedules for others or if it is a firm 9-5 place.

      1. Caryloo*

        Definitely flexible with scheduules – our core hours are 9-3, and you’re free to set your own hours around that. So we have people who do 7-3, 8-4, and 9-5 regularly.
        The whole reason for asking for the altered schedule is because to cover the bakery, I’d need to be there until 9am Wed/Thu/Fri. I figure WFH gets me online for the beginning of core hours, but I don’t want to lose the face to face value of being in the office. If it changes anything, we actually have 2 main offices and people frequently bounce between the two, so even being in *my* office doesn’t guarantee face time.

    2. irene adler*

      Does your FT job know about the PT job?
      What is your FT job’s policy on moonlighting?
      Might ascertain this before approaching them. Here, where I work, if they find out about moonlighting, they have the option to fire you (per employee handbook that states that they pay enough that you should not need to procure a second job-eyeroll!).

      1. Caryloo*

        FT knows about (and frequently and thoroughly enjoys the spoils of) PT job. Not sure about the moonlighting thing, but I *think* it’s okay – I know several people have 2nd jobs. I’ll double check though!

        1. irene adler*

          Good! Sounds like FT will benefit from the ‘goods’ you will be making. So really, no downside for them!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      If I was your manager, I’d be more concerned if you could handle working all those hours and not loose focus on your work. I can totally understand working a few hours here and there because it is enjoyable for you, but taking it on as a full responsibility is concerning. If you are really committed to doing it, I’d be ready to explain your backup plan if the bread doesn’t rise, or a huge order comes in at the last minute. Is there someone else to be your backup at the bakery? Tell your manager what your plan is in case you burn out working 2 jobs.

      1. Caryloo*

        I totally get that! The bakery is fairly new and still figuring out backups. That’s partially how this came up – the person who was going to cover the leave is no longer available, so they’re scrambling.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, without a backup plan in place, I just don’t see how your manager could agree to this schedule. There’s just too much of a risk that your full time job will suffer as a result of your increased hours at the bakery, and your boss will have to explain to her boss why that is.

    4. Quill*

      One of my former workplaces had a pretty solid policy of letting people work 10 hours mtwthr and only 4 hours on friday (worked for my lab group, we often had 7+ hr experiments and needed the setup time) so something like that may be more reasonable than your current more complicated proposal. Your boss is more likely to accept a simpler proposal: less to keep track of.

      That said, if your office has people who regularly work from home multiple days of the week, it could work! Just do your homework on moonlighting regulations and the work from home standards at work.

      1. Caryloo*

        I know WFH is not generally encouraged as a regular part of your schedule, but it is absolutely acceptable. My own boss works remotely 1x/week. We also have 2 main offices within driving distance of each other, and a large number of people work out of both, depending on the day, so it’s almost like being remote 1/2 the time. The reason for the complex schedule is that I’d need to be at the bakery until 9 on Weds/Thurs/Fri, so I wanted to maximize my time in the office Mon/Tues. I’m flexible on if I work from home or come in late on the other days. I’d pick one or the other though and stick to a regular plan so everyone knew how to find me.

    5. Mazzy*

      I’m a manger of some analysts for what that’s worth. Don’t ask, I don’t think you can be backup. Analytical jobs can get high paying if you take the lead and take on problems as they arise. Emergencies happen, or things that can be perceived as emergencies. Opportunities to add extra value randomly pop up. You’re shooting yourself in the foot by treating your money making career as a side or hourly type of gig. Your going to send the message that you view both jobs as somewhat equal. I would seriously question if you understand the breadth of your job if you think you can just do the minimum hours and on a flexible schedule, long term, and there won’t be consequences, even if the consequence is you doing the minimum and not going above and beyond. I know and have seen focused analysts automate away tasks that were seen as unautomatable and have seen them caught $10k errors just going above and beyond and looking at data in a new way, without me asking, because there is so much data that I can’t think about every possible scenario. I’d be afraid that you’d stop doing those things because of the other job. I’d be afraid I’d have to more actively monitor your work, which also makes you a less valuable employee, salary wise. Meaning I’d be less inclined to fight for a good raise for someone asking for what you’re asking for

    6. Kiwiii*

      It really depends on your workplace and how flexible and accommodating they are with schedules in general. Honestly, I can’t imagine mine would care at all if I said something like, “Hey, I have another commitment I’m hoping to work around for the next couple months, that will take time in the mornings Weds-Friday. Would it be alright if I flexed my schedule to make that work and worked longer days Mondays and Tuesdays for awhile? I can still be in at 10AM those days or WFH regular hours.” But it’s 100% a job where we sometimes jump on for an hour or two at night a few times/month and can do from home more or less as needed as long as we’re in the office Sometimes and keeping communication up.

      Last employer would have probably been okay with it after some discussion and reassurance that I wouldn’t be distracted from work, and then set me up with a formal alternative schedule to hold me to. They also had very little WFH approval.

    7. WellRed*

      I’m gonna be a naysayer here. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea to ask your FT job to accommodate your PT job, especially for something like a maternity leave.

      1. MissGirl*

        I’m with you on this. I’m a data analyst who moonlights as well. I take three PTO days a year to do it plus weekends and I only take off when it’s a dead time at my current company.

        This will last for a few months not a week. Like someone mentioned above what will you do if something goes wrong at the bakery, just walk away for the day? It’s one thing to back up someone else on a set schedule, it’s another to be THE person. You have to figure out your priorities.

        I get it; it sucks. I’ve had to turn down days that would’ve paid in the hundreds dollars in tips. I see my friends growing their skills and clientele while I get the worse assignments. But at the end of the day the company that gives me a great salary, a 401k, and insurance has to come first.

        But the fun I’ll have when I retire.

    8. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      No, I would not do this. Especially since you mentioned a global company, the expectation is that you are there to provide value to the company, and work the hours your company needs you to. Of course asking for a flexible work schedule is fine, and I personally have one. But not because I’m working a side job. If I was your manager, the request would seem really out of step to me, and might cause me to view you as an employee with 1 foot our the door. Or maybe I’m wrong! But it’s perfectly reasonable to tell the bakery that you have a full-time job, and will cover when you can outside of your normal working hours. But I would not try to make your primary source of income accommodate your hobby.

    9. Jaydee*

      In addition to what other people are saying, I think it’s also important to stress that this is short-term. It’s not like you’re asking for this schedule permanently. You’re covering parental leave, so it’s probably for what, 12ish weeks (hopefully)? If you’re an otherwise good employee and there will be treats brought in to make up for the inconvenience, it doesn’t seem wholly unreasonable to ask.

      1. German Girl*

        Yeah, changing your schedule slightly for 3-4 month sounds reasonable to me, because it’s just such a short time. You’re unlikely to burn out from that since you’re already doing pretty well with the FT and PT job combined.

        So I’d think as your manager I’d approve the schedule change for those 4 months. If you want it permanently, I’d still approve it only for those 4 months and reevaluate after 3 months whether I think you should be doing this permanently.
        I don’t think I’d approve the WFH idea. 3 days/week is a lot for positions that benefit from face time even in offices that do 1 day/week regularly.

        Anyway, I think you shouldn’t be afraid to ask, especially if you’re only asking for a short period of time.

  5. Anon for this*

    TL;DR: My coworker has used way more vacation time than she has actually earned because she hasn’t entered it on her timesheets. The boss doesn’t know… yet. What will the fallout be when he finds out?

    One of my coworkers, Jane, goes on vacation a lot. She has worked here for almost two years and gets three weeks of paid vacation per year, accrued incrementally each pay period. It’s a union job, so it’s not possible for individuals to negotiate for any more PTO than what the contract says.

    It turns out that Jane has actually used eight weeks of vacation time but only earned five weeks. Apparently, this happened because she didn’t realize that she’s supposed to enter PTO on her timesheet when she uses it. She assumed that our boss was entering her PTO. Every time she has requested PTO, our boss approved it, but nobody entered it on her timesheet and the boss didn’t notice when approving timesheets, so none of the vacation time got subtracted from her balance.

    She now knows that she’s supposed to enter her PTO on her timesheet and that she has taken way more vacation time than she’s earned, but I don’t think our boss knows, and I don’t think she plans to tell him. I think she believes that since her past timesheets are already approved, they’re not going to be changed now, so she still has five weeks of vacation time. She has already requested and been approved to take off the whole week of Thanksgiving and the whole week of Christmas, and since we have to maintain a minimum staffing level, some people who are lower in seniority were denied taking off those weeks.

    I guess this is more of a hypothetical because I don’t plan to get involved, but I’m curious about what happens in this situation. It seems to me that someone (our boss or maybe an auditor) will figure out sooner or later that Jane never entered the eight weeks of vacation time that she used before now. Jane’s perspective is that it’s not her fault because nobody told her she had to enter PTO on her timesheet, and our boss approved all of her vacation requests even though they exceeded her earned vacation time. My guess is that the company won’t see it this way and could consider it timesheet fraud if she doesn’t come forward on her own.

    I would imagine that if/when someone figures out what happened, they will retroactively change her timesheets and she will suddenly find herself with zero vacation time, but what will they do with the overage? I don’t think the company allows going into the negative on vacation time, so can they change the excess vacation time to unpaid time off and dock her next paycheck(s)? What if she leaves the company before they figure it out — can they (and are they likely to) go after her to pay back the excess vacation time?

    1. Rebecca*

      Oh wow, I think this is sort of a big deal for Jane. I might be wrong, but in my opinion, this is similar to getting paid too much, and noticing that yes, this is happening, but not saying anything because “they” shouldn’t have made the mistake. And she’s taken nearly triple the amount of PTO allowed already, with two more weeks in the hopper? That’s also unfair to Jane’s coworkers who presumably have to cover work while she’s out of the office. Would love to get an update on this! Will Jane be fired? Will she have zero PTO for the next 2 years or so, but in which case, she could just leave an get another job.

      1. Herding Butterflies*

        Ignorance of the law (or the rules, in this case) is no defense.

        At most companies I have worked, you can pull a negative on your PTO, usually up to 40 hours. But if you leave the company with a negative PTO balance, the salary is withheld from your final paycheck. I.e. you can’t walk out with ‘free’ vacation days.

        BTW, as a senior manager I would be giving the serious side eye to Jane excessive use of vacation and looking to see if it is a fire-able offense.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          I would also consider this a major character flaw. Yeah, if we were talking about one vacation then it is possible she wouldn’t have noticed the lack of PTO deduction. But she noticed at some point and exploited the situation. I don’t know if I would immediately fire the employee, but I would definitely be talking to HR about it and termination could be the outcome of the investigation.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          I would be side-eyeing her and her boss both, TBH. Eight weeks of vacation, and the boss didn’t notice?! That’s absurd.

          Last year, I wound up overspending my allotted time off by one day; our timekeeping system is really weird with how it displays PTO versus how PTO is actually allotted/tracked/used, so my boss and I both crunched the numbers and came out wrong. It was a huge mess and looked very bad for both of us. And that’s for one day, out of a total of 5 weeks PTO with both sick and vacation time. I can’t imagine how you’d overspend by multiple weeks and not have it flag!

          1. Anon for this*

            I definitely think the boss screwed up, too. I can see if he missed the timesheet discrepancy once or twice, but how did he approve the timesheets every single time without noticing that she was on vacation but didn’t enter it on her timesheet? He makes the schedule and he put her vacations on the schedule. He’s probably approving the timesheets without even looking at them, and it makes you wonder what else he’s missed.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yeah, both your coworker and boss are going to get caught up here. Like you said – your boss is clearly approving timesheets without reviewing them, which indicates a lack of care (a problem for a manager). And your coworker’s story about not knowing she had to input her own vacation time is suspect as hell. That’s usually the kind of thing HR explains to new hires and it’s typically written in the employee handbook.

          2. Autumnheart*

            No kidding. EIGHT weeks? That’s one week off every month up to this point. Boss didn’t notice that Jane was gone for a week for every 3 weeks she worked?

      2. Mazzy*

        This is nuts! Basically the same as not showing up for work. Without the union, she would probably be fired. Not sure if the union will fight for her though

    2. Midge*

      I don’t know whether to be more WTF over her not knowing how timesheets work, her boss not noticing what they were approving, or her thinking that she still has 5 weeks PTO owed to her after already taking more than she should have. That feels like the equivalent of “the price tag fell off so you have to give it to me for free” thing.

      I definitely want a follow-up on this one!

      I can’t imagine a situation in which she doesn’t get in hot water for this. It’s one thing to have a misunderstanding and make an error. But now that she understands the error planning to take even more vacation time feels like theft, and not fixing the errors feels like fraud.

      1. Liz*

        This. I mean i get many company’s time systems are confusing; my own is and I am not a fan. BUT that being said, I know how it works, I routinely check to make sure I have enough PTO to cover what I want to take off, and if there’s any issue, i look into it. So I would have noticed that my boss (if responsible for inputting my PTO) had not been doing so and would have asked about it.

        Call me skeptical, but I find it hard to believe she didn’t know and didn’t do this deliberately.

        1. Shhhh*

          Yeah, I find my current and former workplaces’ time systems confusing…so I also keep a record of what I think I’ve accrued and used to make sure what I think and what the time system says match up. I know exactly how much vacation time I get in a year–as do most people I know–so I also find it hard to believe this wasn’t deliberate or, at the very least, willfully ignorant.

        2. annony*

          Even if she didn’t know, she does now. So all the additional vacation she is taking going forward is definitely fraud.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yeah, I can see her explanation for how she got into this predicament. I’m willing to give her credit for not doing any of that intentionally. But once she knows what happened, any vacation time taking after that is absolute, no questions asked, fraud.

            1. Fikly*

              I don’t know, she can count, right? She knows she gets three weeks vacation a year, max, and she’s been there less than two years. So she has earned less than six weeks total, but has taken eight weeks. Regardless of whether or not it had to go on the time sheets, that’s too many vacation days.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                It should be noticeable if she takes it by the week. If she takes it by the day, I can see losing track. I mean, it’s eight weeks over the course of two years. It’s stupid, but it’s not SO stupid that it’s unbelievable. Not to me, anyway.

        3. Kat in VA*

          Ours is wonky in that when it shows your vacation balance, it doesn’t show the future vacations you’ve already put in for and had approved, so you have to keep a running tally to make sure you don’t go over your allotted days (in our case, 25 days of use-it-or-lose-it, no rollover).

          So I might look at my vacation pot and see that I have 120 hours left but it doesn’t show the eight PTO days I’m taking in the future for Thanksgiving/Christmas or whatever.

      2. Anon for this*

        That was my exact reaction when I found out about this! Including the fact that the analogy I used was saying, “There’s no price tag so it must be free.” I can excuse her for not knowing she was supposed to enter her own PTO, but surely she realized that there is a limit? Our PTO balance appears on every pay statement, so I don’t know how she didn’t wonder why her PTO kept increasing every week even when she used some of it.

        I am very interested to see how this unfolds and I will post an update when I find out.

        1. Herding Butterflies*

          I know Alison says to not get involved in this stuff, but I am vengeful enough that I would anonymously be sending this to HR. Especially because there seems to be no remorse on Jane’s part.

          1. Cat Fan*

            Me, too, especially if I would be eligible to take those holiday weeks off if she weren’t already doing it.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yup. She’s not just stealing from the company, but she’s also screwing over her coworkers.

          2. The New Wanderer*

            At my company this is an Ethics violation and there is a hotline for reporting that sort of thing. I think the usual recommendation is to first talk to the coworker and recommend that they talk to their boss, but it’s also acceptable to say this is above your pay grade (since it’s the manager’s responsibility) and let the investigation sort things out.

            No one takes 3 extra weeks of vacation without realizing they’re way over the line on what’s allowed; even if they thought the manager should have been recording it as PTO, they’re still responsible for knowing that they only have 5 weeks accrued. And no one’s manager should be so far out of the loop as to not notice their employee somehow took a total of 8 weeks of vacation within two years. The usual resolution here is false time charging = dismissal for the employee and at minimum a write-up for the manager.

          3. Partly Cloudy*

            What Jane is doing is stealing. Alison wouldn’t say to turn a blind eye to someone pilfering money from the petty cash box. I definitely would report it.

            1. Windchime*

              I agree. At my workplace we have an electronic timekeeping system. We are required to click a box that says “I attest that all of my vacation and sick time taken are reflected on this time sheet” before we submit it for our manager’s approval. The manager is the one to grant/deny the time off, but the employee will be absolutely held responsible if time is taken off but not recorded.
              Jane is stealing wages from the company.

    3. ACDC*

      This sort of thing happened to my mom, but with an opposite resolution. She’s salaried and doesn’t submit a time sheet for approval, but she puts in their HR software when she uses a PTO day. Her boss was forgetting to approve them so she was still getting the day off and paid her full salary, but the PTO wasn’t being deducted from her accrual bank. Each time this happened, she would notify her boss immediately but the reaction was always “oops, well now you’ll get an extra day off!”

    4. Anne of Green Gables*

      If I found out an employee knew they were getting a benefit they hadn’t earned and didn’t tell me, I would be livid. I also can’t speak for your employer, but when I’m approving vacation time, I’m approving that the individual can be out that day–it’s purely a staffing level decision. I don’t keep minute details on how much time each employee has–that’s their job. So from my point of view, the boss approving more vac time than the employee has is on the employee, not on the boss. (Now, I also have to check that what people enter on their timesheets and what they asked for match, so I would have caught this on the other end. But that’s what is required in terms of timesheet approval at my workplace.)

      1. HugsAreNotTolerated*

        When we submit our PTO requests, we have to send a screenshot of our current amount of PTO accrued so that our manager can see that we have it available to use.

        1. Anon for this*

          Our boss can look up our PTO balance at any time, and I’m not sure whether he did or not before approving Jane’s vacation requests, but it wouldn’t have done any good because it looked like she has 5 weeks available.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        If I found out an employee knew they were getting a benefit they hadn’t earned and didn’t tell me, I would be livid.

        This is why I recently told my manager when ADP screwed up and gave me an extra 10 hours of vacation than I was owed at the time. His response was, “So why is this a problem? Extra vacation is great.” But I told him, I had to say something because a) we have an accrual cap, and this extra time will screw that up for me next year (our vacation time rolls over) and b) I didn’t earn it (yet). I don’t take things that don’t belong to me, and I’m not trying to lose my job over a measly extra day off – it’s not worth it.

    5. Commuter*

      At least where I work, we’d dock her pay moving forward (maybe spread it over a few paychecks if it was significant) and have a serious conversation with her and her supervisor about how timesheets work. Any vacation she didn’t actually have would be unpaid time off.

    6. ThatGirl*

      As to your last question, I know that in Illinois, if you leave with accrued vacation time they have to pay it out; if you leave with a deficit they take it out of your last check. I feel like going negative on her vacation time is more likely than trying to claw back pay.

      1. fposte*

        I’m seeing that they need employee agreement to be able to deduct it from pay in IL, but that may be a pro forma signature that employees regularly give (I haven’t, though).

        1. ThatGirl*

          Ah, I’ve just always been told that, it’s entirely possible I signed something without realizing it when starting jobs. I’ve never left a job with a PTO deficit, though.

    7. Pretty Fly for a WiFi*

      It sounds like timesheet fraud, but in a union setting she’ll most likely not get fired. They could dock her pay, as long as she gets minimum wage (and as long as she’s not exempt – though they may be able to go around that). But if your payroll system allows for it (and most do), they will dock the extra vacation hours she took from her current total and let it go into negative. She won’t be able to take vacation until those amounts come back into positive. That’s my guess – if the union gets involved, which most likely it will if she’s found to have broken a company policy. If I were you or your coworkers, I’d be furious with her! I’d like to take an extra 3 weeks of vacation too! Here’s the problem the company will have now – because you’re part of a union: your coworker has set a precedent. If the company doesn’t catch and punish her in some way, any one of the rest of you can say, “but you did it for Jane!” and the union will back you up and say to the company, “If you did it for Jane, you’ll have to do it for all.” That’s the company’s problem… it also seems to me that someone isn’t reviewing timesheets, so, really, it’s the company’s fault.

      1. Anon for this*

        I think it was an honest mistake at first, and I assume she is going to start entering her PTO on her timesheet from now on, but to me, what makes it a problem is that she knows her timesheets/paychecks were wrong and didn’t say anything. I have messed up my timesheets, sometimes in my favor and sometimes against, and had the boss not catch it, but I always notified the boss immediately that a correction was needed to make sure it didn’t look like I was trying to falsify my timesheet.

        I think you’re right that the union could make it more of an issue, because if Jane were not a union employee, the boss could handle it at his discretion, even give her extra PTO if he wanted (which still wouldn’t be fair, but there would be nothing anyone could do other than complain). Since the union has very firm rules on PTO, the company can’t just make an exception for her.

        I am honestly surprised that no one has turned her in yet. We do generally avoid “tattling” on one another, but I have to think someone who was denied vacation because she was higher in seniority would be pretty mad about it and want to turn her in,

        1. Person from the Resume*

          So Jane is talking about this to lots of co-workers even the ones she’s screwing by taking extra days? Wow! Dumb on her part. But not a lot of integrity with the co-workers.

          Is this a union/blue color attitude with the boss and management being the enemy of the worker?

          1. Anon for this*

            I’m not sure who Jane has told. It’s possible that she just told one person and that person spread it around. I found out from someone else, who was complaining about being denied vacation for the week of Thanksgiving because Jane, Bob, and Joe were already going to be off. I said, “How does Jane have any vacation time left? Didn’t she just take another 2-week trip in September?” And that’s when he told me the whole story. But I don’t know how he found out.

            The one mitigating factor here is that Jane has been screwed over very badly. She is the lowest paid employee in the department because she was hired as a junior llama groomer (along with one other guy who has since quit). There weren’t enough applicants for the junior llama groomer position because the pay sucks, so after Jane and the other guy were hired as junior llama groomers, the position was reposted as a senior llama groomer. Three other people who are no more qualified than the junior llama groomers were hired as senior llama groomers at significantly higher pay, and Jane is still getting paid as a junior llama groomer. She is understandably bitter, and maybe that is affecting how she’s handling the situation. And maybe that’s why nobody has turned her in.

            1. I'm A Little Teapot*

              She didn’t get screwed over. She could have addressed the pay gap. If they didn’t address it, THEN she’s be screwed over. She’s free to find a new job too.

              Look, Jane committed timesheet fraud. The first time? Error. Second+ time? Intentional. Consequences vary depending on the company, but could include termination, discipline, revocation of upcoming approved PTO, docking paychecks until back in the black, or any combination of those.

              As for you – stay out of it. And don’t screw up the same way.

              1. Anon for this*

                I’m not saying she’s justified in committing timesheet fraud because she got screwed over in pay, but I can imagine bitterness over the situation clouding her judgment. She has tried (and is still trying) to address the pay gap on numerous occasions, and she is also actively job searching because of it. That’s why I’m wondering what will happen if she leaves before management finds out about this or while she’s still in the negative for vacation time, because there’s a strong chance she’ll be leaving soon.

                I don’t plan to get involved because all I know is hearsay

            2. Donna*

              With her bitterness, I really dont think she did the PTO “mistakes” by accident, and did it deliberately to “get back what’s owed to her” . And it sucks that Jane got “screwed” by the title/pay, but making up for the discrepancy by overusing her PTO is not okay. She needs to use her words like an adult and speak to management about the pay differences, or she should get another job.

              1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

                It appears she has done that and the company is doing nada. I can see Jane’s ide here.

            3. Kat in VA*

              Helping herself to extra PTO she didn’t earn and screwing the company – and her coworkers – is no different than taking home a bunch of office supplies or adding a little extra personal something to the Amazon purchase on the company credit card and justifying it as, “Well, they screwed me on my pay rate so this is a fair payback.”

              Theft is theft. Bitterness aside, she jacking over coworkers who might otherwise be able to take time off if it weren’t for her intentional and conscious decision to game the system to her benefit.

              People like this screw it up for everyone, no matter what the backstory. :(

          2. valentine*

            Was she paid because the timesheet said she worked on days she was off or has leave been unpaid and her manager just didn’t notice?

            You can ask the boss, as though you’re just curious what the policy is. Jane is correct that she still has five weeks. She has however much she wants until someone says something to someone who can correct it, and I would be the one to say something, on behalf of the less senior people who have to work prime holiday weeks while Jane gets unlimited PTO, in violation of union rules.

      2. Stornry*

        Conversely, the company can avoid setting the precedent by implementing disciplinary action. They won’t “have to allow it for others” if they don’t allow it for her. Where I work – local gov’t, very unionized – this is time sheet fraud (i.e. theft) and “Dishonesty” of any sort is a fire-able offence.
        If you’re worried about looking like a tattle-tale, you can always be a bit confused and say to Boss, “I was looking at the vacation schedule to see who else would be in during the holidays and noticed that Jane asked for [the week]…. I thought she already took her 3 weeks. Am I missing something? I just wanted to make sure [new employee] got their chance to use their PTO, too.” After all, it may be an FMLA thing that you know nothing about, this way they know and you’ve done your part.

    8. Bubbles*

      This is a big deal. I work for a government agency and we had three people fired for this. The bottom line is that she is falsifying her time sheet and that’s a HUGE deal. Most of the time I would roll my eyes about it and let it go, but the fact that other people in the office are suffering consequences (not getting approved for PTO at holidays) because of her, I think you should consider reporting it.

      A company that cares to follow the rules would not be able to dock her paychecks. She worked those hours in her current pay period, therefore she is to be paid for them. However, they can require her to pay back the PTO. It would be pretty shitty of them to demand it upfront so they would likely work out a payment plan or automatically deduct her future PTO for this. A company that wants to retain good employees should be careful about how this is handled because other employees are watching.

      I don’t think nickle-and-diming hours is a big deal. If someone comes in 30 minutes late one day but stays later another day, fine. They can manage their own schedule. But when you are talking about WEEKS of excess PTO that is preventing others from using their base PTO, that’s when there is a big problem. Honestly, I genuinely question the integrity of a person who can perpetuate this kind of fraud. She is not a team player and has shown that she will put herself first in conflict. I wouldn’t be able to trust her.

      1. Rebecca*

        Your last sentence is key here – I mean, if it happened once, that’s one thing, you notice it, tell the boss oh hey, I took a week off, but my pool still shows 3 weeks, did we miss deducting it? But this? She has purposely taken off this time, she has to know it’s much more than allotted. And it is fraud. She has literally taken off an extra month plus one week of work, and it’s only November, and she expects 2 more full weeks? This will not end well.

      2. Rose Tyler*

        I agree with this. If other people are being prevented from taking PTO or getting worse shifts, then you should tell the boss because that just really sucks and impacts more people than just Jane. Allison has scripts on how to basically say “I heard this thing, I don’t know if it’s accurate but it sounded like something you would want to be aware of so I’m bringing it to your attention and you can decide how to handle”.

        1. Ashley*

          I think whoever was denied has standing to ask the boss, but anyone else is being a bit nosy. And by standing I would say something like Jane seems like she has been got a lot already this year and is taking the holidays not that she is lying / not fixing her timesheets.

      3. carpe diem, but not like jane*

        I agree entirely with Bubbles. Especially that last statement.

        My thought is – how do you know about it? There was that recent letter about someone tracking coworker absences (which was unanimously ridiculous), so I hope it isn’t that. But did Jane confide in you? Do you do anything with timecards? Is it office gossip? Do you work closely with her and are helping cover for absences, so it’s a pattern of behavior? Are you not feeling more upset because you’re senior to her and still qualify for holiday time off, while others have vacation requests (that they’ve actually saved for!!) denied?

        Most of all – WHEN management finds out and conducts an investigation, would keeping mum reflect poorly on you?

        Jane has been there for two years and nobody has bothered to train her in timecards? She had to have noticed her PTO increasing each paystub. IMO, all signs point to this being deliberate! It’s an excuse to pretend that ‘what’s in the past stays in the past.’ It’s also an excuse to pretend that you don’t know how timecards work and then proceed not to ask anybody for two years. As Bubbles said: “She is not a team player and has shown that she will put herself first in conflict. I wouldn’t be able to trust her.”

        1. Anon for this*

          I heard about this from another coworker (not Jane). I’m not sure how he found out. It sounds like Jane told somebody about it, because the story I heard was that she didn’t know she had to enter PTO on her timesheet and thought the boss was entering it, which sounds like it was from Jane’s point of view.

          I don’t feel comfortable making that kind of accusation because I don’t have access to Jane’s timesheets, I don’t track her absences, and although this information is consistent with my gut feeling that she takes a lot of vacations (I have wondered on numerous occasions how she still has any vacation time left), I don’t have concrete evidence. I am senior to her, so she’s not affecting my vacation eligibility, so I don’t really have grounds to complain. Am I obligated to report what I think know based on hearsay? A lot of people know about this, so I think at worst it will reflect as poorly on me as on the other people who head about it and didn’t report it.

          1. Partly Cloudy*

            Yes. You should report it, then it’s up to management to investigate and if it’s true, handle the situation accordingly.

            When a crime is committed, you report it to the police and they investigate. You don’t wait until you yourself have collected the fingerprints to prove it, that’s their job.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Honestly I would be inclined to inform my boss because Jane’s using vacation time she doesn’t have is preventing people with lower seniority from taking leave.

      It sounds like Jane truly didn’t understand that she was making a mistake at first, but once she found out she decided to take as much advantage of it as she could and make it worse instead of coming clean and correcting things immediately. She’s consciously lying that she still has vacation available.

      I’m guessing that if she’s found out after leaving the company (so very unlikely), they won’t come after her because it’s too much work. It is also partially your boss’s mistake for approving incorrect timesheets.

      If she’s found while she is still working, she could get fired. Once she realized her mistake she taking advantage of it so she’s consciously committing wage theft. If they don’t go the firing route, I’d would expect her vacation days to go to zero and possibly in the negative. They could also make her take it unpaid meaning she was overpaid over the last two years and owes the company money.

      It depends in large part on how good your management is and if they are willing to do the right thing and push people or if they prefer to brush things under the rug and ignore problems. I think it also depends on what your pay and vacation system can support.

    10. BlueWolf*

      I can understand how she might not have known that she had to put the PTO on her time sheet. In our system, when your PTO is approved it automatically goes on your time sheet, so you only have to add it manually if you are out unexpectedly (like for a sick day). However, she should have realized her PTO was not being deducted and that she was way over her allotted days. Now that she has realized the error she has an obligation to point it out to her employer so that the error can be corrected. For example, I once realized my employer was deducting too much from my paycheck for my medical premium. Once I pointed it out to them, they had an obligation to pay me back. If the opposite had happened, I would have had an obligation to point out to them that I was overpaid and would have to pay back my employer. Her manager should have been reviewing her time sheets more carefully, but it still does not remove her obligation to report the discrepancy. This is not a “bank error in her favor”. She was being paid for time she was not working, which is not ok.

    11. Donna*

      I dont believe that Jane doesnt know how a time sheet works, unless she is a fresh grad and her trainer didnt show her how to use the time sheet software. And even still, my gut says she faking ignorance. Most importantly, i dont get how this has gone on for so long. I mean she has been there for 2 years!!! I dont get how you fill out time sheets improperly for 2 years! Seriously?!?!?

      Now should she be fired? I think it depends, on how she was filling out her time sheet when she was out. Because to me, if she takes a Friday off, she would only put 32 hours on her time sheet. So anyone could see pretty quickly that 8 hours are missing. Given that, are we sure she hasn’t been taking the vacations as unpaid time? I think if it is unpaid time off, then there isnt much of an issue, especially if the company doesn’t have a policy against taking unpaid time off and saving PTO.

      However, I think it is a HUGE issue if she put 40 hours on the time sheet and worked less hours, which would be fraud. Because i’m sure if she put 40 hours on the timesheet, the boss assumed she worked extra that week to save PTO, instead of not actually working the 40 hours. Because WTF, how do you put 40 hours down, if you didnt work the 40 hours.

      1. Anon for this*

        The company does not allow taking unpaid time off unless PTO is exhausted, and even then unpaid time off requires approval (and is usually only approved for something like a family emergency or extended illness, not because someone has already used all of their vacation and wants to go on a cruise).

        The way the timesheets work is that the supervisors enter their employees’ normal schedules, and employees are supposed to enter any changes, such as overtime or PTO. Even if we don’t log into the timesheet software, our timesheets are automatically filled in with 40 hours per week, so she didn’t enter 40 hours of work on her timesheet during the weeks she was on vacation; it was pre-filled and she just didn’t change the work hours to PTO hours. So, her timesheets for those weeks say that she worked 40 hours and she was paid accordingly, but she didn’t actively enter the hours, just neglected to change the hours to vacation time.

        I can’t know for sure, but I am fairly sure she enters her overtime in the timesheet software. I highly doubt she worked overtime without getting paid extra and didn’t notice that.

        1. Donna*

          ohhhhhhhh. okay so I kinda (but not fully) get why she thought her manager was inputting her PTO. If she was only at the company for like 6 months, I could see how she could be going on a vacation without using PTO. Especially since the system auto-fills. However, I still think that after two years, she should know how the program works. I still think this is deliberate. She still should have been keeping track, and at least reviewing her time sheets. Even now, she is still wrong for not flagging this.

          Your company should really turn off that auto-fill option in the software if they can, because i can see others exploiting this loophole. And lastly, i feel like her manager shares more of the blame than i originally thought. If he is suppose to be inputting her schedule into the system, he should actually be doing that and include her vacations into the schedule. I feel like he was doing his job because he wasnt aware of how many people he had working vs on the schedule. Because in that case, people can be schedule, be no-show and this manager won’t notice, what the heck?

    12. alacrity*

      Does your company have an Ethics hotline like EthicsPoint? I understand not wanting to get involved, but this is pretty egregious fraud, and the anonymous hotline was created for situations like this. Basically write what you have written here and as much detail as you feel comfortable with (but, and I can’t stress this enough, please include her actual name on the hotline report instead of the very vague “an employee”), and the company is now on notice to investigate instead of waiting for the boss to notice (which it sounds like may never happen) or an auditor (I honestly have no idea how often time sheets are typically audited; there are much higher risk areas to focus on). As to what happens to her if/when it is discovered–I don’t know, but I do know even the appearance that someone is getting more time off than they deserve can build massive resentment and discord within a department extremely quickly.

    13. Bagpuss*

      I think it is a big deal and that it is very likely that it will come to light sooner or later.

      If she has been over by a day or two then I think that she could definitely argue honest mistake, but you cannot book a weeks at a time without knowing you are using time off. If you know you get 3 weeks a year you can’t pretend not to have notived thatyou have been on cvacation for 4 or 5 weeks.

      I would view it as fraud.

      And also, if I know that a coworker was doing this, knowing that they are taking time they haven’t earned, i would absolutely ntify HR (anonymously if necessary) – Jane’s actions are depriving other people who would otherwise be abelt ot use the time off thy have earned, and presumably her absences aklso mean more work for whoever covers her job.

      (if no one covers her tasks when she is off then it sounds as though she is under-employed, and it may be that her role isn’t neded, or isn’t needed as a full time role. )

      I would see this as gross misconduct and would be seriosuly considering dismissing her, if she were an employee of ours, and the overpayments would be getting clawed back from her final pay.

      if she owned up I would be prepared to conser not firing her, and negotiatingfor her to repay the overpayments in installments.

      1. Bagpuss*

        Also, if I founf out that other employees knew and said nothing, I would be questioning their integrity as well . I don’t expect employees to be telling me about evey minor misdeameanor of a collegaue but if you know that another employee is stealing or committing fraud and you chose to conceal it then that is a whole other ball game.
        And this is fraud.

    14. Sharrbe*

      They could apply that vacation time and let her PTO balance be negative – “paid off” as new hours accrue until she makes her way back up to zero?

    15. cheese please*

      The type of union work I am familiar with was always clocking in / out at the door, and HR would compare these clocking times to timesheets periodically to verify that the employee was here etc (also because they would get pay deducted for being late and other things like that). In that case HR would be able to see that Jane was not at work but was paid as if she was at work and follow up with her boss re: her timesheet discrepancies.

      Then I would assume the union would step in to negotiate a fair agreement with the company and Jane. Depending on relations they may try to peg the boss as ignorant and the timesheet fraud on him / her for not putting in PTO and it could be a huge mess. Or Jane may agree to have negative PTO hours and not take any more time off until she has accrued a positive balance (this way she isn’t paying back the company anything, which always feels icky)

      It’s MAYBEEEE possible your boss knows and is doing Jane a favor? In my union experiences all employees watched each other’s time off like a HAWK and would not hesitate to complain to HR / their boss / a union rep about how much time another coworker was on vacation.

      1. Partly Cloudy*

        If the boss knows, the boss is violating the terms of the union contract and is also committing fraud.

      2. wittyrepartee*

        Huh. I’m part of a union (for white collar workers if that means anything), and none of my coworkers ask about anyone’s vacation habits. Like… we’re not watching each other like hawks. Admittedly, if I saw someone I work closely with gone for 8 weeks I’d be assuming they had some sort of health condition or work from home dealio going on.

        1. cheese please*

          I worked in a very different (sadly toxic) union environment as a supervisor and my employees would constantly ask me why Sally wasn’t at work today because she took a week off last month etc. It was more related to how some supervisors let employees miss days (albeit unpaid) and not follow procedures for attendance violations, and often these supervisors only made exceptions like these for certain employees. So a bit different. Your workplace sounds much nicer! :)

    16. Alex*

      I don’t know, but this problem is rampant where I work, because there is no formal way of tracking vacation time. So there’s major resentment between honest people and people who abuse the fact that no one is paying attention.

    17. QCI*

      I think the company should just dock what she’s used from what she has left until she has what she’s supposed to have. So she just wont have any PTO for a good chunk of time.

    18. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Dang. I miscalculated by a single day my first year here, and I told my boss I was going to cancel a previously approved vacation. Yes she pointed out that I hadn’t allowed for my floating holiday so I was all set — but the point is, the HONEST thing to do is cancel any vacation scheduled in the coming calendar year to which you’re not entitled!

    19. Oxford Comma*

      If it were a couple of days and it happened here, I think that they would allow her to go into the red for the next year, but what you’re describing is not one or two days.

      We’re union, but I can’t see our union fighting for her either.

    20. wittyrepartee*

      She needs to immediately speak to a union rep about this and ask how to proceed. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

    21. OhBehave*

      We can’t know what your company will do if/when they find out. It smacks of fraud because she’s cheating. I always tracked my own PTO just so I would know for sure what I had. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t know to add to her time sheet. It seems like a common sense thing to do in completing your time sheet. What did she enter for those days?

    22. Sondra Uppenhowzer*

      SIDE QUESTION: what it the most vacation time you’ve taken for one year, and what is the longest vacation you’ve taken at once?
      The most I’ve ever taken in 1 year is 4 weeks, the most at once is 2 weeks.

      1. Inigo Montoya*

        One glorious year I took at least 9 weeks of vacation (possibly more, I can’t remember), in addition to holidays, floating holidays, personal and sick days. I had a bunch of rollover and accrued 5 weeks a year so I needed to use some up.
        I took 8 weeks in the summer – I asked my boss if it was ok and he said sure as long as I came back for a week in between (summer was our dead season). So I took off a month, came back for a week and basically did nothing, then took off another month. Then I took 2 weeks off around Christmas/New Years. Ah the benefits of working somewhere for a really long time!

      2. Nessun*

        I took a month-long vacation in 2015 because I had the chance to go on my dream trip (Japan). I had the time accrued, but I still had to ask my boss for permission to leave for four consecutive weeks. He said yea…but he did let me know when I returned, that he would never agree to that again because he hadn’t realized how much I did, and didn’t feel my backup was quite up to snuff!

      3. Bilateralrope*

        I’m in a country where capping unused PTO, or having it expire, is not allowed. The only way my employer has to control large amounts of unused PTO is to make employees take time off, but the law also says how much must be built up before that can happen.

        So I was made to take 7 weeks off last year. Which was just enough to bring my PTO below the point where I can be made to use it.

      4. German Girl*

        I accure 6 weeks a year and while it does roll over, we’re supposed to use up any rollover within the first quarter, so I usually take between 5 and 7 weeks worth of vacation days within a year.

        I usually take 2 weeks around Christmas, 2-3 weeks for a summer holiday, and the rest is for a long weekend here or there, or in some years another week long trip.

        The longest period was 4 weeks for me.

    23. Green Goose*

      This actually happened to me as well! When I started at my company it was not clearly explained to me that after requesting time off and my boss approving it, there was another step required of me. All my previous jobs just required asking for the day and getting approval. I remember the third or fourth time I had requested sick or PTO my boss came up to me a few days after the fact and told me I needed to enter it in and I was confused. I did for that time but didn’t say/do anything about the other sick/PTO and my boss never followed up about it.

  6. Elenia*

    I’ve had to say a couple of things to my highest performer this week. I gave her her review last week and in it, told her that she had potential to go far in this company, maybe even a leadership role, yadda yadda. Imagine my surprise when she immediately took it as having that role already! She began bossing around her teammates and also began to show a strong streak of negativity.

    I spoke to her about both items and to her credit she immediately responded well, but in my heart I was dismayed. Taking the potential of power and evincing it in such a way makes me feel maybe you are NOT ready for the promotion. And there isn’t even one in the works yet! It was all potential!

    1. Hannah Banana*

      Some people let the thought of leadership get to their head and they start acting superior to others. Might mean she’s not ready for a leadership role or needs some serious coaching! just because you get a promotion doesn’t make you any better than the other people you work with, and that you treat them with less respect.

      1. ACDC*

        This happened to one of my coworkers. We were both promoted to co-team leads (what could go wrong right?), but he missed the “co-” part. He started excluding me from various office things, harassing coworkers, taunting people, approving things he had 0 authority to approve, you get the idea. He was fired about a month after this change because his behavior became so unbelievable.

    2. Myrin*

      That’s a really intriguing situation! It’s like the “she’s gone mad with power” phrasing, only she doesn’t even have any power yet!

    3. Fibchopkin*

      First, I would reexamine your words to word to her. If this behavior was out of character for her, and since she immediately stopped when you called her on it, it sounds an awful lot like you did not make your intentions clear. Just from this little snippet, it sounds like she took your review to mean that you were considering her for potential leadership roles and so she began demonstrating “leadership” to prove to you that you were right, and that she is ready.
      Next, I would begin specifically developing her for a leadership role by teaching her what good managing actually is. A LOT of long-time managers still aren’t good at it and conflate being bossy, nagging or giving negative feedback, and micromanagement with good management, when, of course, it’s not. If this woman is a high performer, but new to her job/young, she likely just doesn’t have the experience and skills yet to properly demonstrate strong, firm leadership vs just being harsh- and that’s okay! She’s already clearly demonstrated her high capacity for performance, for learning, and for responding to direction. Most people aren’t just naturally good at management, you have to teach her how. Enroll her in appropriate professional development courses or programs, if you can, counsel her on this during meetings and reviews, and most importantly, model good leadership and management for her.
      Finally, I may be off base, but your post makes it sound as if you are taking this misstep a little too personally. Like, the tone I’m getting is a teacher disappointed with a favorite student. She’s an adult, and you’re her manager not her mom, school teacher, or even, really, her friend. My advice would be to see this, and your employee, for what it, and she, is – a talented high-performer who id need of some coaching on how to properly manage. She made a mistake, but immediately corrected it when it was pointed out to her. Let go of the dismay “in your heart,” get her some training, and keep your eye on her to see if she continues to develop leadership potential.

      1. Elenia*

        She’ll get better. she just needs time and coaching. I was just surprised because neither are behaviors I have ever seen out of her before!

        1. Misty*

          Some great individual contributors don’t make good managers.

          I’d see this as a flag honestly. Bossing coworkers around? No.

        2. WantonSeedStitch*

          If you can encourage her to start doing some professional development work on leadership skills, that might be helpful! Maybe some classes on communication for leaders and managers, especially.

      2. MD PhD*

        Exactly this.
        She needs coaching on what leadership means. She is trying to show her value as a potential leader by being bossy, probably because that’s the most common leadership style young people come across.

      3. OhBehave*

        I agree that you need to review what you said to her. Don’t gloss over your role here. She was hopped up on praise and potential. The fact that she immediately stopped after you spoke to her is a good thing. Did you outline ways she could improve in order to get a promotion? Does she know a promotion isn’t even a possibility right now? Continue to observe her to make sure what you saw before the review is still happening. If you have weekly 1:1’s, you could use some of that time to hone her leadership skills. Maybe by focusing on what she did wrong previously.

    4. Oh No She Di'int*

      Yep. People hear what they want to hear. No hate. I do it; you do it; everyone does it. Just be glad that she responded so well when you pointed it out to her.

      I recently needed to hire a new manager for an existing team in my business. Having learned from the past, the previous manager and I sat down with each team member and carefully explained what was happening (“You’ll be getting a new manager”), what it meant for them, and what our expectations were. With one employee in particular, I said that I expected him to be open with his knowledge about the project and to help the new manager understand the details once this person was hired.

      He somehow took from that that he was getting a promotion. I have no idea where he got that notion from, especially since I took great pains to make it very clear that nothing about his position would change. I wanted to quash any thought that he should plan a coup d’état during the transition. But even after communicating and then over-communicating, it still took further conversation to let him know that his position had not changed. And I was very surprised that he seemed surprised by that. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of wanting to believe something so badly that we hold on to the idea in the face of every piece of evidence to the contrary.

    5. Mazzy*

      This is why you should be careful talking about career potential when you yourself say that nothing is open!

      1. Fikly*

        I wouldn’t take one person’s response as evidence for whether or not to have these conversations in the future. If this was a pattern, sure, but it’s just one person.

    6. HM MM*

      I think that if she took your corrections well and fixed her behavior quickly, then I think you should not hold the this against her completely or let it prevent you from considering her for a promotion. Obviously watch and see if there are any other incidents of her overreaching or misinterpreting discussions of potential future plans – if there are any further incidents then I’d start to be concerned.

      Hopefully this is an isolated incident that she would keep in mind if actually promoted (that bossiness and negativity – as in how she behaved in this situation – are not what is needed when moving to a leadership position).

    7. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I would keep this flag in mind, since she seems to take things and run with it on her own, which can be great but when it levels up to just bossing around teammates and showing negativity, that’s a huge thing to keep a mental note on.

      She could just need training and coaching, that’s the best case! That she was just overzealous in the moment and can learn and mature. However it can also be a sign that down the road she’ll do it again, even after more exposure and coaching.

      Lots of people will bend to their boss when they correct them like that. However how they treat the people below them is always critical to keep in mind. Oh yay, you get along with the higher positions, duh most people do because they have power over you.

      Watch out for that person being prone to kicking down and kissing up. This sounds cynical of course but the fact she quickly was all “oh oops! I’ll fix myself!” when you corrected her is good but not proof that she isn’t going to be one of those people on a complete powertrip over their “potential” and “rubber stamp” into the leadership group.

  7. Anonanon doo doo doo doo doo*

    You guys.

    Remember that teacher who made a racially-charges statement about one of our black teens?
    Guess whose name I drew for Secret Santa.

    What do you think I should get him? A book about implicit bias? Please share your ideas!

    1. Deb Morgan*

      I can personally recommend “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. I’m not sure how well it would be received, but I thought it was a good read in general.

      1. The Original K.*

        I was going to suggest this! It’s petty but if he actually reads it, he’ll learn something. Or “How to Be An Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

    2. machinations and palindromes*

      The voice of the better angels in my head says get him the most generic gift possible.

      The voice of my other angels says get him a biography of a prominent African-American figure. Hell, maybe even get him an entire set of biographies.

      1. StellaBella*

        Agree here with these two sides.

        I would write and print out a letter to this teacher and express your concerns as part of the gift – IF a lot of people heard what this teacher said – IF it was only one or two people that heard it, then not a good idea to say anything and just go with generic gift. If you can find some words to point out that racism is disgusting, in a manner that would make them think, reflect, consider their biases, and not blow their top, maybe. But I dunno. Secret Santa seems less like a place for this correction than a timely, in the moment correction when they said what they said.

        However, I do think that you could include a card with a variety of children on it that is about inclusion and love and joy and opportunity for all for a new year ahead that may be subtle and might make them think? No idea if those cards are sold tho. Also I am honestly not sure if this would get thru to someone who is possibly a closed-minded person.

      2. Troutwaxer*

        My favorite Black Historical figure is Josephine Baker, singer, actress, anti-racism activist, and a member of the French Resistance during world war II, who won the Croix de Guerre and was awarded the Legion of Honor.

          1. Anono-me*

            Will you be my secret Santa this year? I have got to get this book. I knew she was most impressive, but I not know that Josephine Baker was also a French resistance fighter in WW2. Thank you for mentioning it.

      1. Lkr209*

        What about a top-seller book that features Black protagonists? Like Hidden Figures? That way you can say, “It was on the top-seller list for x months and I thought it was such a great read”.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          This is what I was thinking about. Since she’s teaching teens, I’ll suggest “Akata Witch” by Nnedi Okorafor, or The Broken Earth by N.K.Jemison. Or go for the classics — Octavia Butler or Samuel Delany.
          If you don’t know her reading tastes but can find out that she’s watched “Good Omens” when it was on TV, a subtle choice would be “Anansi Boys” by Neil Gaiman. He’s a white author who never explicitly says that his main character is black. The key to figuring it out before [spoiler makes it obvious] is that people who walk into the story get described by clothes, hair, mannerisms & posture….except if they’re white. Then skin color gets mentioned. (Yes he did it on purpose, and yes he had people tweet at him angrily about it when they finally figured it out. It was a jawdropping exchange.)

          1. Advice Needed*

            Neil Gaiman is married to a white woman who frequently uses the n word and he exploited African mythology in a way no black author at that time was given the opportunity to do.

          2. Patty Mayonnaise*

            The fact that people thought that character was white… and got very up in arms when they realized he wasn’t… is very shocking to me. I knew the characters were black based on the description on the book jacket! Why on earth would a human incarnation of an African god be white? Sadly if people are missing that, I think Anansi Boys is too subtle as a message to the OP’s coworker.

            1. Patty Mayonnaise*

              Ugh, can’t figure out how to edit my comment, but I realized the fact I mentioned MIGHT have been the spoiler Seeking was talking about! I read the book after it had been out for a while and I remembered it being revealed upfront, but it’s possible it wasn’t. Though “Anansi” in the title is still a very big indication that there are non-white characters in the book.

      1. TechWorker*

        I do wonder whether Secret Santa is is going to make any difference here – like isn’t there a high chance they’ll just get embarrassed and angry/not read the book?

    3. blackcat*

      I like the subtlety of a simply a book by a black author. Plausible deniability! It’s just a good book! Not “you need to think about race more carefully.” I loved Americanah by Adichie.

    4. Blue Eagle*

      A book sounds like a great idea but I would also include a note that says “I enjoyed reading this book and hope you will enjoy it, too.”

    5. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.*

      Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates or So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

      1. Jane of all Trades*

        I second the Ta-Nehisi Coates book – his writing is excellent and I have found it to be very accessible and informative, plus he is well known so you can just gift it and tell him you enjoyed the book and hoped that he would too (rather than the book being an “in your face” message calling him a racist).

    6. ten-four*

      Wait, what about Amazons, Abolitionist and Activists, the brand new graphic novel by Mikki Kendall? You teach teens, it’s for teens! INNOCENT SMILE

    7. wittyrepartee*

      I’d be tempted to get him bath and body works lotion and/or a candle. The gifts that scream to be re-gifted. A little box of disappointment.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      This happened to a teacher friend of mine a few years ago and she totally bought a copy of a book about implicit bias. I forget which one it was now…

    9. Gumby*

      I don’t remember the original story, but obviously agree completely that racially-charged statements have no place in… well, I was going to say the workplace but really the world. But I would counsel against any gift that says blatantly or implies that the recipient needs to be fixed. That’s just rude. Just like you don’t give a WW membership to someone you perceive as overweight, a vacuum to someone whose house seems messy to you, etc. Not that the situations are equivalent, but if it is meant to shame/fix other people then it is NOT a gift.

      Yes, he’s got very problematic views. But there is no need to compound it by giving a hostile gift. Bland is fine. And educating him – outside of a gift-giving situation – is all but mandatory though, perhaps, doesn’t have to be your responsibility specifically. If you just can’t bring yourself to give a neutral or sincere gift, then own up to it and talk to whoever organizes this thing about switching people.

    10. Anononon doo doo doo doo doo*

      Thank you everyone for your great suggestions and your doses of humor. Since his comment was only to just me and the gifts will be opened en masse, I’ll err on the bland side and get something generic. But man, what a great reading list!

  8. DaniCalifornia*

    So super awkward, not even sure I have a question but am open to opinions on how to handle. Details: We have a new hire starting soon, and we have another new hire replacing me. 

    Gave notice recently. It went surprisingly well but I can tell it was a shock. But this job sucks. 150% toxic and work life balance is awful during busy season which is half the year. No new job lined up yet but willing to take that chance for my emotional and mental health. My last day is the day before the company holiday party. The day I gave notice coworker asked in front of supervisor if I was still going to said party. I paused a moment because I didn’t want to assume I could, and I hadn’t discussed with the owner yet. Supervisor jumped in and said “Of course you’re still invited!” and I said I’d love to go if they still wanted me to. It’s usually a good time/fancy/big deal with perks (and often an xmas cash bonus!) 

    Invites have been sent out and I did not get one. Coworker said something and I checked my email and she asked if I got it and I said no. She didn’t see my name on the public invite list either.  I wondered if I should ask owner and felt super awkward so I left it alone bc owner is never in office. Cue to this week and new hire who is replacing me is talking about the party while I’m training them. It comes up again that I didn’t receive an invite. New hire jokes that they’ll bring me as their date. Coworker says I could ask their relative (my supervisor.) So I awkwardly go up there and say “This is super awkward, I know you aren’t hosting party, owner and their SO are, but I didn’t get an invite. It’s totally fine if not, I understand if it’s a numbers game with 2 new hires also attending.” (Basically trying to give them an excuse to use if they needed it.) Supervisor says they noticed I wasn’t on list but has no idea why and they’ll ask. That was a few days ago and I haven’t heard anything.

    I don’t plan on asking again but coworkers keep bringing it up. I can smile and nod along and stay quiet but if I’m honest it kind of stings. The message I’m getting during my notice period is “You’ll be so missed! We are going to sink without you!” which I know are platitudes but also truths said by higher ups who recognize my level coworkers are not up to par but refuse to address it. Thoughts on what to say if I’m asked directly about it? 2nd new hire starts before party too and other coworkers are getting excited about it. 

    1. Mama Bear*

      It seems odd that the new hire is not officially starting until after but is invited. My guess is that they’re trying to be generous to a new employee with whom they expect to have a long-term working relationship. You said the job is toxic, so favoring the new guy may just be par for the course. Since you aren’t officially going to be an employee anymore, I can see why you’re off the list. If coworkers bring it up again, I’d tell them that you’ve accepted that you aren’t invited and you really need them to move on and stop talking to you about it. Sorry about the timing. I’ve been in similar situations and it stings.

      1. TechWorker*

        Tbh this is not weird to me. It’s crappy to be told you’re invited and then.. not be invited… but the actual. bit of ‘an employee who’s had their last day isn’t invited’ + ‘an employee who’s just about to start is’ seems… fine? Like yes it’s just a day which makes it unusual but one would assume in general that post last day you would be included in work socials.. and including people who are just about to join is generally good practice for helping them integrate!

    2. Jimming*

      I would drop it. Do you even want to go? You said it’s a toxic environment and you are leaving for your health. Better to make a clean break. If your trainees mention it again, you can say you have other plans and change the subject.

      1. DaniCalifornia*

        I had mixed feelings about going. It’s one of those events where even if the busy season sucked it was fun and I think everyone forgot about the stress of work and had fun. Also as mentioned, bonuses for working hard. I’m at the oh well point and shrugging it off. More so I feel like the awkward turtle when people bring it up and I don’t join in. There has now been another conversation (small office <12) today and a coworker was like "Aren't you excited?" I just really don't feel like having 12 separate convos of "Oh I'm not going." and then people asking why.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Are there certain people you know are likely to be asking you? You could send an e-mail to them all and say, “hey everyone, have fun at the party for me! I didn’t get an invitation, I assume because I’m on my way out and they need the space for our two new hires, but I hope you all have a great time.” That would avoid all the separate conversations and questions.

          1. valentine*

            Since you’re not invited, either you’re not getting a bonus or they will get it to you some other way. You can ask about that because the only thing more awkward than this is not being included when the bonus checks go around.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I would not expect you to get a bonus as you have given notice, and will have left by that point.
          I know you will feel you earned it, but if they pallned on giving you one they can do it in your final pay packet.
          I think you should assume you are not invited, and if anyomne asks just sa that you have bnot ben invited. If any of your coworkers want to comment about it they can do so to your boss or to the owner, you should stay out of it.

        3. Lucette Kensack*

          It sounds like you’ll get confirmation from your supervisor about whether you should plan on attending. But in general, I would assume that you should not plan on attending.

          First: Bonuses are typically given as retention tools; your employer wants not just to recognize your work, but to encourage you to stay in your role. You’ve resigned, so you should not expect to receive a bonus, whether or not you attend the party. (This isn’t always true! I learned recently that my organization pays out pro-rated bonuses to employees that leave midway through the year. So you could leave in April and get a bonus check in September. Weird!) Also, it would be surprising if any bonus were contingent on attending the party. If they’re going to give you a bonus, they’ll give you a bonus, whether or not you attend.

          Second: Your last day is before the party. You won’t work there by the time the party happens. While there are some places that would want you to come anyway, it’s very very reasonable for the employer to restrict the party to current employees (especially when your resignation was voluntary; presumably you picked the date).

          1. DaniCalifornia*

            Yeah my boss would make attending the bonus contingent on the party. He’s done that before. People who were not able to make it did not receive the bonus. Which I thought was unfair but have no control over. A lot of friends/family in larger companies do receive their bonuses even if they leave before end of year if they work at least 1 day + half of a year, or if they work 3 quarters. But mine is a smaller company so I wouldn’t expect that. It seems to come down to the women in my office think I should be going and would have invited me. But the owner (male) is very cut and dry so I assume he’s thinking well her last day was X. Party is after X. I’m trying to reframe my mindset as it’s not personal. But I also know specific reservations for this party and a hotel stay were made in our name/with us in mind. So when supervisor was like “of course!” I guess I got my hopes up. Before then I was not expecting the xmas bonus. It boils down to an office full of people who say “we’re family!” but don’t treat others that way where it counts lol! I guess I hadn’t buried my expectations bar low enough.

            1. MissGirl*

              Honestly, with leaving before the party, I wouldn’t expect an invite. If it had been that important to you, it sounds like you could’ve timed your departure later.

        4. PennyLane*

          Maybe they don’t plan to give you a bonus and that’s why they didn’t invite you- because it’d be awkward if everyone else got one and you didn’t. You may feel entitled to a bonus, and I’m not saying you haven’t earned it, but those are often given as a perk and retention strategy for current employees. If they already know you are leaving, there’s no point.

          I would just let it go and tell people, you weren’t invited since you won’t be working there much longer. I think that would be understandable. Like Jimming said, it’s a toxic workplace so just make a clean break. If you want to enjoy time with the coworkers you like, plan a lunch with them.

    3. Sondra Uppenhowzer*

      At my company, if your last day is before the company party, you are not invited to the party. That is because they have a per employee spending limit and non employees are not invited.
      If your company is inviting non-employees, then maybe they would invite you.

  9. Lagonelle*

    I work full time as llama groomer. I have a side gig as teapot painter, which is better suited to my skills and career interest. In December, one of the biggest teapot painting institute will hold an extensive one day workshop on Friday the 13th. I signed up and paid the fee, which is a significant amount of money for me.

    When I asked my boss’s permission for leave, I was told that on that day, there’s going to be a company-wide team-building session. She signed my permission slip anyway. When I went to my grandboss for his signature, he mentioned that as well, but also signed my slip, although he did seem reluctant to do so. I didn’t tell them I was attending a workshop, just that I wanted that day off.

    It was last week, which means that I gave almost one month notice of my planned leave. I personally feel it was very courteous, since usually people only give notice a week, or two, in advance. And my coworkers were surprised that I gave notice so far in advance.

    I can get a refund, but it won’t be 100% of the fee.

    Should I go anyway, or should I suck it up and go to the team-building? Aside from the fee, I’m also very excited to attend the training and I believe it’ll provide a significant knowledge and networking benefits. Also, HR hasn’t given formal announcement yet.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You probably should’ve gotten the day off approved before paying the fee, just in case, but too late for that now. But if they signed your leave slip AND the event hasn’t actually been announced yet, I wouldn’t worry about it and go to your training, unless you have reason to think they’ll hold it against you.

    2. Jamie*

      Is there going to be major political fall out from being out that day?

      I’m trying to put aside my bias against team building, but I honestly can’t see where this would be more beneficial for you long term than the workshop unless your employer will hold it against you.

      1. Lagonelle*

        Is there going to be major political fall out from being out that day?

        Honestly, I don’t know. I forgot to give this info for more context: it’s an entry-level position, and I’ve been here for seven months.

        Two months ago my department held our own team-building event. Five other coworkers and I didn’t go, but I haven’t noticed any fall out. Though I admit I’m a bit dense, so it’s possible that I simply don’t notice any difference.

    3. justkiya*

      I’d totally go to the workshop. If it’s COMPANY WIDE – unless your company is under 50 people, you won’t be the only one who isn’t there for one reason or another. And it sounds like the workshop is a rare event, and will be much more beneficial to you in the long run.

        1. Stornry*

          and that’s exactly how I’d frame it if anybody asks why you aren’t going/weren’t there: “I had a prior commitment”.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        Agreed! They didn’t officially announce the thing, and you have approved leave. Go to your training – I think you’ll be happy you did. I hope you enjoy it and that it’s beneficial to your side gig.

    4. Antilles*

      Personally, I’d go to the training. If the culture in your company is to only provide notice a week or two in advance, then you went above and beyond in providing that much notice. They already agreed to it.
      That said, I’d consider ‘casually’ dropping that you have plans that day to attend a workshop about teapot painting. It’s dumb and ridiculous, but a lot of people would be a lot more understanding of you missing the team-building session to do something productive rather than you missing it to watch TV on your couch.

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        I definitely wouldn’t do this. OP says that teapot painting is her side business, which is not the same industry as a her main gig (llama grooming). As someone with a side business, I do all I can not to mention it at work under any circumstances as a lot of employers get the idea that a side business takes away from time spent on work. Mentioning that she’s skipping team building to go to a workshop for her side job would probably get some serious side eye.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Slightly OT, just out of curiosity: what if the workshop were for something the employee does as a hobby? Would that change the situation (and in which direction)?

          1. Spreadsheets and Books*

            I think that would make it a little better, because there’s no real pursuit of profit in a hobby, but still not something I’d advertise.

            Loveeee the username, btw!

        2. Clisby*

          I probably wouldn’t mention the workshop, but if I understand the situation correctly, the team-building thing hadn’t even been announced when she signed up. If the employer wants people to clear their calendars for team-building, they should announce the date(s) months in advance.

      2. cmcinnyc*

        I would go to the teapot painting workshop and not mention At All where I was. It isn’t anyone’s business. If someone was rude enough to press, I’d say something vague like, “I had something on my calendar for over a month before the team-building was scheduled and I really couldn’t move it. Oh well. Next year! How was it?”

    5. limpet1*

      I would go to the workshop but i’d mention to boss that the reason you wanted time off was for something you can’t move (like appointment, family reunion – or workshop etc.) They probably mentioned the team building because if you could have had your day off another day instead (like to make a trip) you could have moved it if you wanted.

      1. Lagonelle*

        When my boss told me about the plan, I panicked and blurted out that I already paid for a ticket. I didn’t say a ticket for what, though, so she probably thinks it’s a plane ticket to my hometown.

        1. Pineapple Incident*

          Doesn’t matter honestly. They approved it, regardless of the circumstances you have leave that was approved. If there is fallout, I would ask “then why would you have signed the slip?” if the boss/grandboss have an after-the-fact issue, and I’d honestly hope you could expect them to say that you were approved to have leave well in advance of the activity’s official announcement in your defense if the boss/grandboss hear people talking about it.

        2. Mockingjay*

          If you’re friends with colleagues on social media, be sure not to mention the workshop on it. If asked in work conversations, be vague: “oh, family stuff.”

          I doubt anyone will pry, other than wondering if they can use a similar excuse to skip the teambuilding. (I’m biased; I’ve had horrible experiences with team events that I’ve posted about before.)

        3. OhBehave*

          They may not be thrilled to find out you’re going to a workshop for your other job. You got the day off so I say go and enjoy.

      1. Elle*

        My employees have to email me requesting leave, which I confirm or deny. They then have to go to the department administrator’s office, get their holiday card, fill in the date they want off, and present it to me for signing, then return it to the office. They then have to add the holiday to their own calendar and the team calendar. This whole process room one of my team about 20 minutes on Friday. In addition, I had to check the calendar, to confirm it was ok, and add her leave to my own calendar…

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

    I’m in a combined team lead/design lead role for a product, with 1 junior design engineer under me. There isn’t enough work consistently to justify bringing a more senior person in to be a full-time design lead so I juggle both roles. I’m having an issue with my junior designer lately, and I’m wondering how much of it is because I’m spread too thin to review his work, and how much of it is him being lazy. Recently, we were asked to assess a new configuration and there was some back and forth discussion about the final requirement. We finally locked down the requirement after some iterations, and I asked the designer to update our models accordingly. He said he did and updated a slide deck with a picture – it looked good, but smaller than I expected. Turns out he hadn’t updated his work to the new requirement but instead left it as an old iteration, and tried to pass it off as good enough. After reviewing the emails and my requests to him I verified that I was clear in the new requirement, not that I said the wrong number by mistake. I asked him to fix it before sending it to the next group to analyze, and he asked if it was actually necessary or if we could just give them the old model….? It’s a sensitive feature on a difficult part, and assessing wrong geometry is a waste of time. Also, I’m not going to put my design lead signature on it as “complete” if it’s not. He just sent the latest updates and it very clearly doesn’t fit in the geometry envelope provided, he just didn’t bother to update some spacing as required. This is not the first time he’s tried to cut corners on a request like this, and I’m getting frustrated.

    He’s been at the company for 3 years in similar roles to this ones and went to a well-known university for engineering (I say this because I would think he’d need less oversight, not that I think his degree alone makes him a better engineer than anyone else), so some of these requests should be straight forward. He’s also expressed interest in more re-design and creative tasks like this one, so I want to give him these opportunities for his own development. I’ve also been more focused on the team lead aspect of my job than the design lead that I’ve not been reviewing his work in detail… but I also don’t feel like I should have to hold his hand and explain to him why the work needs to be done right! He’s a nice guy and can do some great work, but there’s been enough issues like this that it gives me pause. I’ve had a number of junior engineers work under me before when I was a full-time design lead on another team, but they were all very thorough so I’m not sure what else is different in this situation.

    We share the same manager, I have no real authority over this person and no other alternatives to assign work to, so that’s why I’m considering going straight to our manager to ask for ideas or feedback (or to intervene if he thinks that’s a good plan). I also recognize that I’m not a patient person and don’t see myself as a great “people manager”, so maybe that’s playing into this? I don’t want to cause issues but I also don’t feel like I can trust this person to always do the job right unless I ask a lot of questions to uncover problems.

    1. Reba*

      Talk with your manager about strategies, but I think you have standing to discuss this! You could say, “I’ve heard you express interest in doing redesign and creative tasks, but when I gave you this recent work for part X you seemed to be trying to get out of doing the redesign! What’s going on there? Was there a problem getting the changes done?” And “we need to take these kind of details seriously, so can you be more thorough in the future?”

      I recently had a chat with an intern (so, different context) but it was basically “I asked for P and you gave me Q, what’s up?” And it ended up being a good conversation about time needed for certain tasks.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        I agree with this! You may end up having a conversation that’s useful in one of a few ways – especially one that yields reasons why attention to these details is lacking, or that gives you information indicating this employee should be on a PIP of some kind.

    2. Legally a Vacuum*

      As an in-house patent attorney that works with engineers, I’d be really worried if an engineering team lead told me this was going on. There are plenty of times when I need exact dimensions/geometry, and I’m not actually *doing* anything physically with the design.

      It doesn’t matter whether you’re patient or not. You gave him a very clear instruction and he pushed back without any real reason other than he didn’t want to do the work.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      You need a double prong approach. By all means give your manager a heads up. As jr engineer lead, you have authority to address the technical issues. And there are many!

      You should ask what is going on, for sure. But here’s the issues I’m seeing from the letter:

      • Claiming work was complete when it wasn’t. This is a HUGE MONDO WORLD STOPPING issue. Lying is not OK. You don’t do that! What if you had a critical delivery and he lied about tests etc? I’ve actually caught a jr engineer concatenating test results to make it look like they ran tests (when they didn’t). It caused us to be late on a delivery. Lying about deliverables is a HUGE breach. I’m talking PIP level. You can’t trust his work any more!!

      • pushing back on if you need something. Its OK to question as long as it isn’t happening all.the.time. If it is challenging then you have an authority issue. Jr may think he knows more than he does (Dunning Kruger).

      • Making technical decisions without including stakeholders. Jr decided what was “good enough” without including the other stakeholders for review. Even senior engineers don’t get to do that! His decision shows a level of cluelessness that proves he isn’t ready for Sr roles.

      • Cutting corners to the point of being wrong. This is a basic lack of engineering discipline that delineates good engineers from bad ones. It goes back to trust again – you can’t trust him to do his job right and that’s a performance issue. His quality is bad.

      I suspect that he will argue with these assessments because he is Dunning Kruger. I’m willing to bet he thinks his work is just fine. You should go down each issue point by point just to be fair.

      The important thing here is that these “little” annoyances are not little at all. You can’t trust him. You can’t trust him to do the MINIMUM quality work needed for the job! He doesn’t deserve a bigger role because he isn’t even getting the basics right.

      On the issue of university – many can slide through university without “getting it”. Some smaller universities are better at lab work, while bigger ones are only theoretical. There’s overlap but not direct correlation to quality and success. My peers were from Stanford, MIT, and CalTech. I was from a state school and worked beside them. Some peers were brilliant, and others were only book smart. The school is only as good as the person attending it.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Also what the patent attorney says. He can’t discern that geometry is important. That means he doesn’t have enough ability to discern critical and non critical issues.

        The guy is a bad engineer.

    4. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I asked him to fix it before sending it to the next group to analyze, and he asked if it was actually necessary or if we could just give them the old model….?

      This a huge red flag to me about JuniorEngineer. Since you said that cutting corners like this is a pattern, I would bring this to your shared manager immediately. Essentially, JuniorEngineer is saying, “Do I really need to do my job? ’cause I’ll get paid and promoted either way, right?”

      JuniorEngineer sounds like an example of a young professional (of any generation) who thinks that they’re too good to do grunt work and should be promoted to do more interesting projects (e.g. re-design, creative tasks) without proving they can do work well.

    5. Donna*

      I think you should talk to the designer and ask point blank, why isn’t he making the changes you guys agreed on. I’m thinking he is just being lazy since he has 3 years experience, he should know how to take directions by now. But see what the kid says, maybe he misunderstood. After that, I think you are going to have to actually review the work before you allow him to send it out to others. You probably don’t have the time, but I would try to find some time if I were you, because you are the lead, so if something goes wrong it will be on you. If you really dont have the time, I would talk to your manager to see if maybe she can help, or at least get the kid to shape up.

      1. Donna*

        There was suppose to be a (doubt it) after the misunderstood.

        Also, similar to Engineer Girl above, I agree that lying about completing work that isnt completed is huge, and you should mention that to manager ASAP if you havent already.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          It’s not just about integrity. It’s about technical integrity, which is a core value of engineering. Without it, you have nothing.

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

      I just tried employing some of these discussions with him this afternoon. I asked him to combine all of the changes on one product into one single, editable CAD model since they’re right now saved in a bunch of different one-off models (Not my preference but I’m trying not to micromanage how he tracks his work, especially early in a concept). He said he would produce a solid dummy model to send over, and I told him no, they need an editable model so the follow-on team can make minor tweaks themselves rather than iterating with us needlessly. And also, dummy models are fine for really rough, quick assessments but not good practice for this phase of the project. I asked why he wanted to send a dummy model and his response was “but they can just take my 3 models and create their own single model easily.”

      1. Engineer Girl*

        He’s basically saying he wants to publish an incomplete deliverable as the final product. Does he not know how reputation destroying that is?

      2. Easily Amused*

        I hope your response to this was “I am asking you to do it. Is there a reason why you cannot or will not do it?”

  11. JoAnna*

    I’m starting a new job on Monday, after not working for nearly two years.

    [Some background: I was laid off from my job of eight years in April 2017, and laid off again from my new job in February 2018. That layoff coincided with my husband getting a new job with a much better salary, so I took a break from the workforce for a while. During that time I wrote and published a book (traditional publisher), and I started job searching again last month. We have six kids and things are expensive! I wasn’t expecting to find something this fast, but I did!]

    Anyway, what is your best advice for starting a new job off on the right foot? This is a slight step up career-wise, so I really want to succeed.

    1. ThatGirl*

      Do a lot of listening and observing the first few weeks especially. Take notes. Ask questions. I’m sure you’ll do great.

      1. irene adler*

        Yes! Hold off on the suggestions for improvement. There’s usually a reason for why they do things the way they do. Learn this reason before even thinking about suggesting another way to do things. IN fact, learn, learn, learn, all you can about how they want you to do things.

    2. Data Nerd*

      Congratulations on your new role! Same as any other job, just listen and observe your first few weeks, be warm and cordial to everyone, you’ll figure it out.

    3. Legally a Vacuum*

      Carry a notebook and date the pages of the notes so you can easily refer back to previous questions.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Be observant and engaged during training. Take notes of your ideas if they come up but don’t bring them up until you’re settled into the position to see if they’re still an “issue” that you notice down the road. Sometimes things will look out of place or weird or unnecessary…until you’ve done it a few times and then you go “That makes sense!”

      So reserve judgement until when you’ve established yourself in a few months or even more, depending on the role.

      The more you can roll with it and survey the place, the better.

    5. Ashley*

      Pack a lunch for your first day knowing you may not eat it for lunch.
      Be pleasant, open, but don’t over share every life detail. Give people time to get to know you.

    6. DaniCalifornia*

      Congrats on your new role!
      I always ask a lot of questions to understand why they do things they way they do them. Observe office culture/norms as much as possible. Avoid the work drama/gossip so as not to influence you early on.

    7. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      First off, CONGRATULATIONS JoAnna!

      For at least your first few weeks and months, with regard to any ongoing office disagreements, alliances, etc., you should be neutral. Red flag with white cross, secret bank accounts and fine watches neutral.

      Going in, you don’t know the history, you don’t know why people did what they did and you sure as heck don’t know who’s friends with — not to mention protégés of — whom.

      And if someone — whose job does not include welcoming newcomers — wants to take you under their wing right away, watch out! That’s a common tactic of the disaffected, trying to recruit newcomers before said newcomers can get the other side of the story/find a much better horse to back.

      Good luck!

  12. Sick Days*

    I’m really angry and nervous about how things are shaking out with my department reorganization. Please give me a sanity check.

    This year my department had multiple C-level promotions, hirings, and consolidations. My tiny sub-group tends to get traded around frequently because nobody knows how to classify us—our work straddles engineering, R&D, and IT.

    In the spring, the VP of HR sent out a mass e-mail (which was basically internal PR) about how the company listens to our needs and is rolling out some changes to become more flexible. In other words, they realized that this place is run by a bunch of dinosaurs, and “two weeks vacation” and “remote work is the devil” aren’t going to fly anymore if they want to hire anyone decent. Part of that e-mail was an explanation that sick days would now be clumped, meaning that one bout of illness would now be considered one sick day instead of each business day being counted separately.

    After the reorg, my sub-group started reporting to a different grandboss. My old grandboss is an easygoing guy who rolls with the punches. My new grandboss is a Good Old Boy, who thinks the whippings should continue until morale improves.

    I learned a few months later that the whole “sick day overhaul” thing is actually just a suggestion, and managers have full discretion to interpret the ridiculously vague company handbook however they like. My new grandboss is refusing to adhere to this sick day “clumping” directive, and we only get THREE sick days per year before there’s an issue. Four sick days gets you a verbal warning, five days gets you a written warning, and six “could lead to termination”.

    I already used four sick days this year, but apparently I was shown lenience because he only became my grandboss partway through the year. I have had to use over a week’s worth of PTO for illness, doctor appointments, and medical procedures since the reorganization. That’s almost half of what I get for the year. I’ve stayed at this company due to my direct boss being an amazing unicorn, but that no longer seems like a good enough reason.

    For context: I’m a 40-something SME with a master’s in STEM, and I get 3 sick days and 15 PTO days after 7 years of working here. This is wack, right?

      1. Mama Bear*

        If you have ongoing medical concerns and a large enough company, could you ask for non-consecutive FMLA? With their metric of 3 days of sick leave per year, one bad flu can wipe you out. People are dropping like flies around here with some sort of plague that’s lasting average a week. Can you talk to HR about getting your department to be on the same page as the others re: this clumping?

    1. Antilles*

      Completely wack. I am also in STEM with a Master’s and I got 10 days PTO, 1 ‘holiday’, and 5 sick days when I was so green that my formal diploma hadn’t even been printed yet (not an exaggeration). I don’t think I’ve encountered a single company in my engineering industry that doesn’t start with around 15 total days off (either generic PTO or divvied up to sick/vacation buckets) even for the newest of the newbies.
      Also: I have had to use over a week’s worth of PTO for illness, doctor appointments, and medical procedures since the reorganization.
      Are we talking full-day doctor’s appointments? Because if we’re talking about like just a couple hours or so, that is wack if you’re expected to burn PTO for them. You probably don’t work exactly 9:00 AM to exactly 5:00 PM every day, so that flexibility on your part should be rewarded with some flexibility on their part.

      1. Sick Days*

        We can take half days, so I’ve had to use either 4-hour or 8-hour increments depending on the timing of the appointment. Unfortunately, I’ve needed to see multiple specialists who don’t offer early/late hours.

        Regarding your “starting with 15 days” stat, I started with nothing at all because I was temp-to-hire. I got no sick or PTO until I was converted to a permanent employee 2 years in, and then I got 10 days. I got bumped up to 15 days at year 5.

        1. The New Wanderer*

          I don’t know if this applies to you, but one job I applied to had a pretty low PTO, something like 15 days with 2 personal floating holidays. The HR rep stressed that if you worked any part of a day and had to leave due to becoming ill, even within an hour of showing up, that did not count as PTO and it would be a normally paid day. I took that to mean that if you showed up at all, even knowing you were sick already, that was the ‘out’ so that you weren’t burning up PTO and that was confirmed by a colleague who worked there. It sucks to resort to dragging yourself to work while sick just to leave and not count it vs getting a usable amount of PTO, but I wonder if that’s a (short term) option for you especially on appointment days.

          I’d be pretty outraged over the fact that using a normal amount of sick leave (1 day every two months!) would result in write-ups or termination. If your boss is the only thing keeping you there, that’s not good enough if sick leave is going to be a factor in your life.

      1. ThatGirl*

        It’s not low in my experience. My first few jobs had 10 total. No separate sick time. My last job had 18 PTO days, no separate sick time, and I was happy with it. This job I have 15 vacation days and 5 sick days.

        1. ...*

          Yeah agree. I’ve only had two jobs offering it and my first went from none to 10 days combined and now I have 15 days combined, and 3 paid holidays, 3 working holidays where I receive a comp day if it is either my regular day off or if I work the holiday (so basically get a comp day no matter what). That totals 21 days, which I consider good but not great. Apparently people are getting 25 days plus paid holidays? Not in my neck of the woods haha.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      Get out, this office is full of bees.

      And if not bees, it’s at least full of bad leave policies.

    3. Quill*

      That’s whack. I got more PTO (sick and vacation were rolled together) at my first non-contract job: 12 days a year.

    4. WellRed*

      “I get 3 sick days and 15 PTO days after 7 years of working here. This is wack, right?”

      Yep. They can do all the fancy footwork they want, but offering 3 PTO days is gonna be an issue if they want to make quality hires.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This is indeed outdated nonsense. I’m quickly becoming cantankerous now that we have state mandated paid sick leave. Government rules are so baseline and 3 days a year is below their requirements. Y-U-C-K.

      I would start looking elsewhere honestly. New management is easily one of the biggest reasons to start looking in the end, despite the company being in decent standing and being good prior to that change.

    6. Donna*

      Totally wack!!!! I know people starting out of college that get 18 days, with no master’s and less than two minutes of experience.
      I would leave. the new grandboss sucks, and even though your direct boss is awesome, i think you can be treated better at a different company. Heck, just look for a company where your boss and grandboss are half decent and you can take more that 6 sicks days w/o being threaten with termination.

    7. DaniCalifornia*

      Oof yes that is wack. Especially with your career history. For ref, my spouse has a masters in engineering and has worked for his company 8 years. He earned his masters while working there (they paid for it!) and he started off 8 years ago with 3 weeks PTO and sick time. He now earns approx 5.5 weeks PTO and unless he’s sick for an entire week doesn’t use PTO. He’ll either work his flex hours so he can sleep in more, or work from home. They also offer unofficial comp days when they’ve worked OT but don’t get paid since they’re salary.

      Is it possible to start looking elsewhere? How big is your company, I know smaller ones tend to sometimes have less PTO.

    8. BRR*

      It’s wack. I don’ think things will change but can you talk with HR about your grandboss refusing to follow company policy? Approach HR as a group?

    9. emmelemm*

      As others have said, this is pretty bad. If you’ve worked there for 7 years, maybe it’s time to move on. Sooner said than done, but at least look around.

    10. is it nearly time to go home?*

      totally whack. My small engineering company offers 20 days holiday + 5 days sick for every employee, full stop.

  13. Roz Doyle*

    Hi all, I’d really like your advice about a follow-up note after a phone interview. I had a phone interview a few weeks ago. They emailed me this week, letting me know that I was not invited to an in-person interview, it was generic rejection email. I want to ask them for feedback, I have that note crafted already (with the help of this askamanager post: ), but I don’t know who to send it to. I have the email address for Brian, the manager that interviewed me who, if I got the job, I would have worked for. My friend John, who knows Brian, connected us before I even applied for the job. I had an informal email exchange and then phonecall with Brian. Afterwards, I applied for the job and got the phone interview about a month later. The phone interview was set up by an HR person, Kathy, so I have Kathy’s email. The interview was conducted by Brian and Lisa (from HR). The ‘rejection’ email came from a generic email address, not connected to the organization I was interviewing with, but the email signature was Lisa’s.

    So who do I email asking for follow-up? Brian or Kathy? If I email Kathy, then I’ll have to ask her to convey my message to Brian and Lisa.

    I also want to add, that when Kathy sent me the email setting up the phone interview, it had a line stating that “all communications are centralized through HR. Interview panel members will not be in contact with you and we request that you please do not contact them directly.” But in my mind, that was to prevent questions ahead of the phone interview..right?

    Any advice anyone can offer, would be greatly appreciated. I haven’t looked for work in 7 years, so I am a little ‘green’. I also know that they may not give me any feedback, but I at least want to try.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      noooo. If they say “do not contact them directly,” they mean “do not contact them directly.” Not ” do not contact them directly unless you think you should.” When they’ve specifically told you not to contact anyone but HR, I would not count on getting actionable feedback, and trying to go around them is just going to make you look really bad.

      1. Fikly*

        Yeah, this. Nothing drives a lot of people nuts faster than people who see a rule and then decide it’s ok to break it based on some reason why it doesn’t apply to them, when there were no exceptions given. You’ll burn a bridge.

        Also, if the phone interview was a few weeks ago, they most likely do not remember details well enough to give any useful feedback, sorry. They have moved on.

    2. Natalie*

      TBH I would just drop it entirely. It’s not common IME to get any actionable feedback from a long in-person interview, I have to imagine the chances are even less so for a phone screen. There’s just nothing left here to do except move on.

        1. Natalie*

          Same, and even then it’s been stuff like “they were leaning towards more experience in X /Y/Z”, which I can’t do much with anyway!

    3. Lalaith*

      OK, it’s not going to *hurt* you to ask for feedback, so if you’ve already written your note go ahead and send it. I think since you already had a connection to Brian through your friend, you could ask him. But if you want to follow the letter of the HR law, send it to Kathy.

  14. Mimmy*

    I posted this last week but it was very late in the weekend, so I’m reposting today with some revisions to clarify a few things.

    I’m in the final month or so at an awesome internship in a postsecondary disability services office. The quandary I have is how to describe it on my resume. It wasn’t part of an official degree program and it isn’t paid (quick backstory: it fell into my lap after I’d reached out for networking on a professional listserv). I’m including the resume as part of an application to a Masters degree related to this field and am hoping to have it all submitted this week.

    Honestly, I have not done a whole lot of hands-on work; most of my time has been spent observing as my supervisor responds to emails and conducts student intakes (when permitted by the student). Also, I sat in on weekly case conferences (usually via Skype but occasionally in person) in which all of the coordinators throughout the university present new accommodation requests for approval. As the semester went on, my supervisor has started to let me do a bit more hands-on: I co-conducted one intake and presented a few of her cases at the conferences. Unfortunately, I had to drop the case conferences as of November due to my regular job :( They were wonderful learning experiences.

    My main focus right now is a major project that, if I finish on time, will be of great benefit to the faculty and staff of our part of the university.

    I don’t think I’ve accomplished as much as I would’ve liked because my supervisor is a one-person office and she’s had some health issues which impacted her availability. The numbers I’d give, e.g. presented x cases are in the single digits, so it’s just not impressive. I suppose I could instead describe this in terms of professionalism. I really have learned a lot and still have December to learn even more.

    1. Mimmy*

      Ohhh there was one thing I did: My supervisor did “tabling” at various locations throughout the campus. She wanted to do a “spin the wheel” activity where you answer questions based on the category you landed on. They were all disability awareness questions: I wrote said questions. Many people loved the activity. It was rough on my voice but I really enjoyed doing it.

      1. Friyay*

        I work with a lot of students who spend extensive time shadowing and aren’t sure how to put this on a resume if they haven’t “done things”. We did a resume workshop and talked about using verbs like “learned” “shadowed” “observed” “attended” etc. so that it’s not over exaggerating the extent of your involvement, but you’re still demonstrating that you are familiar with these things and have seen them happen:
        -Shadowed Dr. Ram in the operating room, at his office hours and doing rounds on hospital floors
        -Listened to patients’ heartbeats, gastrointestinal sounds, and checked vitals
        -Learned common sterility procedures, how to scrub into cases, and how to read radiographic images in the Operating Room
        -Observed a Nissen Procedure, hernia repairs, a cholecystectomy, mastectomies, nephrectomies, and multiple laparascopic surgeries

      2. Pamela Adams*

        “Developed new outreach activity, to increase interest in program. Researched, wrote questions for spin the wheel quiz”(or whatever the standard terminology is). If you ran the exercise or can quantify results, add that, particularly if it increased participation from previous years.

    2. Lepidoptera*

      Ask your bosses/coworkers how they would describe your role if asked for reference, that will give you ideas for a label.
      Your description of your time sounds like the basis for the points on your resume and I would definitely recommend saying how you helped with that outreach activity your boss was doing (spin wheel).

  15. Emmie*

    My company hired a new Vice President. There is a lot of overlap in our positions. I was promoted after the VP was hired. I am still fearful that my position could eventually be eliminated.

    Have you ever had overlap in your position with a higher level manager’s role? How did you handle it? Any suggestions for me?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I bet the overlapping roles will shake out into your role or their role. Just give it some time. Once the VP is up and running they may want to completely take over the responsibility or wholly give it to you. The VP will need to see how things run day to day before the decision can be made. I’d just make it clear that you will support whatever decision is made.

    2. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Could it be possible that there’s a lot of work in those overlapping areas that need two people to get it all done? Or the work would benefit from you both collaborating? Or that you will focus on different areas like planning/implementation?
      If you’re really worried about your current position being eliminated, are there any needs in other departments that you could fill by laterally transferring if this happened? If you don’t see anywhere you could move to you could start a quiet job search, just in case.
      Best of luck, I know this would be stressful.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      In addition to the great thoughts above, I could also see this shaking out as you becoming an unofficial deputy to the VP.

      Have you had a conversation with the VP and/or your manager? That might also be a good place to start.

  16. Lieutenant Jingles*

    I am starting a new job next Monday and I am kinda excited and scared at the same time.
    I have to ask though, is it wrong to go at it with the mentality “if you train me, I will learn and do the job.”? I once joined a new company, had nobody train me, so I was clueless for months till I quit out if anxiety. I just wonder if company expect you to already be 100% on everything by the time you join them.

    1. A Tired Queer*

      Any company worth their salt will train new hires to perform the tasks of the job. Very likely, they hired you because they saw in you the potential to learn to perform well!
      And if it ends up being the case like you had before, where no one trained you? Well, that’s useful data about whether or not it’s worth it to stay.
      Go forth and learn a new job! I hope it’s excellent :)

    2. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I think it’s best to get a feel for what kind of training you will receive before you start pushing any particular perspective. At my last job, I was my manager’s first direct hire and, to be frank, he did an awful job training me. I got drips and drabs here and there rather than anything useful and comprehensive, so it took me well over a year to get even a reasonable grasp on the day to day tasks. At my current job, training has been far superior and I was handling more in the first four weeks than in the first four months at my last job. It can vary greatly from one company to another.

      If it looks like you’re not going to get the training you need off the bat, that’s the time to start speaking up. Ask any question that comes to mind, including more holistic questions about processes. Ask to sit with your direct manager while she does higher level work, as for feedback on everything… if you’re not getting the training you need again, it needs to be up to you to push to make sure you do.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Not everything, but a lot of them do want people who can do things right out of the gate. For example, if they’re hiring you to create widgets, you should already know generally how to do that, but they can train you to polish them. They wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you could do the job.

      Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Note the answers so you don’t have to ask again. I take tons of notes when I’m getting oriented, and I usually let the people who are guiding me know that. And remember, at first, it will seem a little confusing because you don’t know basics like where stuff is, who does what, etc. A good company will know that.

    4. UShoe*

      I want to caveat this before I start by saying that you shouldn’t just be plopped at a desk and expected to figure everything out, there should absolutely be an induction process at any organisation.

      However, how much ‘training’ is given varies a lot by role and by organisation. If this is a role you should have the skills to do according to your resume and interview I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bit of induction, getting know co-workers and structure and the business, and then some jobs and meetings to get on with. The expectation can be that you’ll use your existing knowledge or read through similar tasks others have completed to inform how you perform your tasks, and if you don’t know where to find what you need or where to start that you’ll ask.

      Many companies, especially SMEs and start-ups are looking for ‘self starters’. People that can get either to the point that they know what they don’t know and ask, or who figure it out themselves are invaluable in terms of workflow.

      Of course if there’s specific systems you need to use or processes that need to be followed that should absolutely be spelled out, but it might be helpsheets rather than one-on-one training.

      1. LKW*

        Was thinking the same thing. If you tell me you have been working in an office environment for 5 years, I’m going to assume you have Excel skills and I don’t have to train you. But, if my office requires you to use the Llama Grooming Scheduler excel macro, I’m going to make sure you’re trained on how to use it and have written instructions to reference.

        I’d also expect you’d need training on the “how we do things here” stuff, like setting up meetings and managing deliverables and stuff.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. I wasn’t given any training for my current job and that’s because I was basically hired to write and edit content, something I was already doing in my last position. I also came in and basically shaped the role to my strengths and my likes, so no one needed to show me how to do anything but how to navigate in their internal CRMs.

    5. Autumnheart*

      I advocate a middle ground, where you would ideally speak up when you have questions to get the information you need, and not fall into a pattern of learned helplessness where the road begins and ends at “they didn’t train me, so I don’t know.”

      Some companies or teams can be weird about a new hire asking loads of questions, but by the same token, going with your best assumption in the lack of real information also doesn’t win friends and influence people. Ask when you need help.

  17. Grad Student*

    Hello, Does anyone have any insight or good resources on the Thailand restaurant industry? I’m working on a a grad school project, topic assigned, about expanding a U.S. casual dining restaurant focused on burgers into Thailand. I’m looking for good industry groups to potentially interview down to reactions of people who live there. Thanks!

    1. A business librarian*

      You should consider talking to a librarian at your school if you haven’t already. I’m a business librarian at a university and this is exactly the kind of thing we can help with.

      1. Another business librarian*

        Seconded! If you’re not sure who your business librarian is, check out the “Find a Subject Specialist” or “Find Your Librarian” type page on your university’s library website. Or send a message to the reference desk.

  18. DC*

    Just a reminder that everything is going to be okay! I can use this repeated, and I think everyone can sometimes.

    If you’re in a situation that seems overwhelming, figure out one SMALL next step.

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      Thanks for this.

      I literally started this week off by setting myself a reminder for a daily “let the chips fall [as they may]” at 7:15AM every morning, my version of “it’ll be alright if you don’t worry about it so much or meddle” – it already makes me happy when I hear my phone ping and know what it is, on day 5.

    2. Corky's wife Bonnie*

      Thanks, I need to hear this more. My current job is ending in a month and it’s taking forever to find out if I got the internal job I applied for. This is agony.

    3. Freaked Out*

      I really need this right now. I just discovered that a manager I work with is a confirmed racist towards people of my race, and I don’t know what to do other than quit.

      1. LKW*

        that blows. Have you had any encounters with this person? Does this explain any nonsensical behaviors you’ve experienced? If so, have you considered going to HR?

        1. Freaked Out*

          One fight that made things extremely chilly for my sister and me from then out, and my sister wasn’t even involved!

          It explains a lot, but my sister and I are documenting anything that pops out at us.

    4. Tesla = lowest pixels (meme of the week)*

      Yes. Thanks for the reminder! It’s hard to see things when dealing with a lot but we do get through it.

  19. Ali G*

    You guys I am irrationally angry at the new tenants who moved onto our floor. This building is being refreshed top to bottom and we had one of the first suites on this floor when it was done. Now some new folks moved into their space and there are so many of them! They are everywhere! In the bathroom, in the hall on their phones, etc. The bathroom gets dirty now (note they are not slobs, just people that need to use restrooms on a regular basis), and yesterday one of the stalls ran out of toilet paper. We’ve had this floor mostly to ourselves and apparently I am not good at sharing. I know this is my problem – honeymoon is over I guess!

    1. Jamie*

      No advice but as someone else not good at sharing you have all my sympathy. I like some people as individuals, but a mass of them anywhere is nothing but annoying.

    2. Mama Bear*

      Does your company have a liaison with the building management? If so, I would reach out to that person and ask that they convey things like more toilet paper or more frequent cleaning to the building’s maintenance team. We have a person who is great at asking for things from the landlord and the landlord sometimes comes back with a blanket statement to remind folks about building regulations. That said I’m *still* curious about the backstory on the notice about not keeping “any animal or bird” on the premises.

      1. Ama*

        Yeah, when we moved into our new office we quadrupled the number of people using the women’s bathroom (our office is 90% women) and our office manager had to point this out (multiple times) to the building management because they were used to only having to restock the bathroom on that floor a couple times a week and now they needed to at least check it every day. They’ve mostly got it handled now but it took a while for the right person on the cleaning staff to start putting daily checks on the schedule.

    3. Natalie*

      WRT to the bathrooms, let your property management know if you haven’t already. As the building gets busier they might add a day cleaner, who can stock and tidy restrooms during business hours. But they might not realize they need it unless tenants speak up!

    4. Dust Bunny*

      Second talking to building management. We had a call center move into another suite in our complex and they swamped the parking lot. We had to get our landlords to designate some reserved spaces for other businesses so our own clients could get in. The people weren’t an issue, there were just so many of them!

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

      I can sympathize. My department was the first to occupy a multistory building on campus while they were renovating the other floors. For almost 2 years we had the whole building to ourselves, and then the other floors were occupied and now Other People are using our elevators… so now they stop on other floors and are slower to respond!!! just kidding…it’s minor but it did sort of take me by “surprise” for a while when the elevator would stop on not-my-floor.

    6. Roz Doyle*

      I so get this. It would bug the hell out of me too. It’s not the exact same thing, but, our cafeteria right at noon also has TOO MANY people, so many that it’s hard to find a free table or eat in peace and it’s also friggin loud. So I now eat my lunch later to have more space and peace and quiet.

    7. ...*

      :/ Yeah none of its really their fault though….Maybe they will start bringing in good coffee and donuts!? One can dream….

  20. Grad Student*

    Also, does anyone know of a free survey site that doesn’t plague survey takers with ads? It’s for the aforementioned project. My work let our survey monkey account expire so I’m hoping there is a free, good option. Thanks!

      1. Ama*

        We used Google forms until my office decided to pay for Survey Monkey and it worked really well for us — my advice is, if your work email does not already run through gmail, set up a gmail account specific to your department (I shared the log in with my admin) and run your forms through there so if you leave that job it is easy for a coworker to take over that account.

        The only thing you have to worry about with Google forms is to check the setting options — there is one type of log in that will require participants to have a gmail account but you can turn that off easily as long as you know to look for it.

    1. Nanc*

      If you have Office 365 the Microsoft Forms has a survey option. It notifies you when you have a new submission and you can export the date to Excel and analyze to your heart’s content!

    2. limpet1*

      I’ve used typeform in the past – guessing it’s free up to a number of subscribers, it’s a lovely user experience too!

    3. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      My lab has used SurveyPlanet for things like client surveys, and we definitely have clients that would complain if they were inundated with ads.
      The free version lets you do quite a bit.

  21. No Diagnosing Others Sigh*

    It’s pretty clear to me that my grandboss has terrible ADHD. She will break off mid-sentence during an important announcement and get distracted by something like a chair out of place, then her lunch plans, then seem confused why nobody else can follow the trail of her conversation. She frequently laments that she has trouble concentrating long enough anything done (and I can verify that this is true – my boss carries almost everything for her). Everything she has to do gets done at the last possible second once the panic kicks in and lets her focus.

    There is really no way for me to bring up ADHD with her, ask her if she’s been evaluated, or suggest she do that (and pursue treatment) – right? We’re polite-colleagues close, but not friends-close, and I worry it would come across as me criticizing her, uh, work habits. I’ve thought of trying to bring it up in a “friend story” type way but it still seems kind of risky.

    1. Jamie*

      There is absolutely no way to do that politely or professionally. And I say that as a professional with ADHD (albeit mine manifests differently.)

    2. Mama Bear*

      I don’t think you can bring up any kind of diagnosis with your grandboss without them being possibly offended. And since she is your grandboss, have you discussed any of this with your direct boss? Your direct boss may be the better one to remind the grandboss where the conversation derailed, for example. Maybe this is a case where your team has to scaffold her. Keep her apprised of projects with short lists and easy bullets. Bring up concerns well in advance and perhaps implement a team tracking mechanism (Trello, or another Kanban board). Keep all the relevant data in the same email thread so she can reference it if she forgets. Etc.

    3. Quill*

      Diagnosis, no, coping mechanisms if you find ones that you can reasonably put forward, yes.

      Example “Hey, I noticed the Teapot metric reports were confusing, so I highlighted the key findings for you!” (In the hopes that she will find the condensed version more readable and maybe start requesting that…)

      Or, the time honored tradition of disorganized family members, moving the perceived deadline up! (Thanksgiving dinner will be at 3:30 PM. It’s at 2 PM if you’re Aunt Distracted.)

      Some things will be more useful or useable than others in your position.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        It reminds me of me when I was working in a job with tons of work, constant interruptions, and not enough staff.

        When you are expected to notice, remember, and do everything, and you are not given time to focus on getting things done, you end up running around like Princess Carolyn in Bojack Horseman trying to do everything at once.

      2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Yep. Just because the outsider-observable symptoms look like one thing is not indicative of much. The no-diagnosing rule (both here and in society in general) exists for a very good reason.

    4. DaniCalifornia*

      Nope, not your place, not the right situation. Also unless you are a trained professional those habits you discuss could be other things and not ADHD. Distraction, trouble concentrating, last minute things are not solely traits of ADHD.

  22. in the file room*

    A fun question: what’s the biggest physical mess you’ve encountered at work?

    I work in records management, and when I started my current job, I discovered that my predecessor just… hadn’t processed like 6 months of paper records. Instead they were all stacked in an empty cubicle – filling the space under the desk, covering the floor and desktop to a depth of two to three feet, and spilling into the hall!! It took me a full month to sort them all out.

    1. Jamie*

      100 years ago on a temp assignment I walked into an office where the CEO was clearly a hoarder. Stacks and stacks of folders and magazines and old newspapers covered the floors, chairs, and every flat surface. You had to step around things and be super careful when you walked not to knock them over…was like a maze. It’s the only temp assignment where I got any negative feedback because apparently knowing how to water plants is something I was supposed to know how to do.

      [When told to water the plants I took the watering can and watered all the plants until the dirt was wet, not leaking. Apparently different plants need different amounts of water and they don’t all get it every day and I didn’t know their individual liquid diets. They still offered me a permanent position but no way.]

      1. AndersonDarling*

        That reminded me of a salesperson I used to work with! We were moving offices and were supposed to have our personal workstations packed up for the movers and he hadn’t done anything. He had a narrow and long office and it was STACKED with files, newspapers, and random junk. We were horrified. A senior salesperson took charge and told people to throw it all into boxes so the whole floor was walking in with a box, grabbing a glob of it, dropping it into the box, then stacking the box outside. The salesperson came in over the weekend to unload it and find the right stacks for it to go back to…in the new location.
        So many boxes…

      2. Llellayena*

        Setting the scene: My first day of work at my first (non-summer) office job. I’m wearing standard business casual clothing with heeled boots and a blazer.

        My first task: Retrieve several (paper) files and drawings from the archives material for a legal meeting.

        Location: Off-site rented self-storage container with about 20 years worth of file boxes and rolls of drawings (architecture).

        Unfortunately, no one had really maintained the files. There had been some attempt to stack boxes and such to maintain aisles, but at some point gravity had taken over. There were no aisles. So here I am in heeled boots and a blazer mountain climbing over toppled cardboard boxes with 20 years of cobwebs and dust to find the one box from 10 years ago for a meeting.

        The next 6 months or so, my task was to reorganize their archived files…

    2. MousePrincess*

      I worked at a historic house museum. Fun fact about historic house museums – out of sight, maybe just behind the corner the public can’t quite see around, is a pile of crap, or collections items, or both.

    3. Catsaber*

      Probably the office area I had to visit the other day. I was picking up a laptop from one of our help desk groups, and this place looked like a tornado had gone through it. They were moving out so another group could move in, but geez.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I went to a small business in my former city once to fill out an application. Every desk was covered with crap. They put me at one person’s desk, and there was so much paperwork littered over it that I could find literally no space on which to write. The entire office was like that and also silent as a tomb. I finished the application and then high-tailed it out of there.

      I was glad they didn’t call me for an interview, as I would have turned it down. My space is never completely perfect, but I don’t think I could work in an environment like that.

    5. Mama Bear*

      I had a summer job where I was brought in to help make sense of the trail of disaster a fired employee left behind. This was pre-everything being in the cloud, so when they left, they literally threw papers in the air, shredded or trashed other documents, and destroyed softcopies on disk. We spent at least a full week taking over a spare room and literally piecing the documents together in piles on the floor. Then I had to match what I could with the soft copies (which may not have been the same version) and THEN everything needed to be entered into their new document management software (someone wised up), filling in the gaps as I went. It was quite the project, but we managed to get it mostly done by the time I left. I would have stayed on if I wasn’t attending college in another state.

      My spouse had an employee retire and after they left, the company still had to deal with the remaining rat’s nest left in the cubicle. He said they filled every shred bin on the floor with documents that were literally decades old, and just took big trash bags to everything else.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Historical archives: We call this a “paper bomb” and it’s a routine part of the job. Somebody dies or an organization needs the space and we get called to clear out the file cabinets. Our biggest paper bomb to date is about 900 cubic feet. We had to get a grant to hire a contract archivist to deal with it so it didn’t consume all of our staff for as long as it would take to make it usable.

      Our own worst physical mess was Tropical Storm Allison. That was before I worked here, but the archives were in a half-basement area at the time. What could be rescued was relocated using volunteer help and I am not exaggerating when I say it took 15 years to get it all sorted out again. We thought we’d lost entire collections that were later discovered mis-shelved.

      1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

        When I read Tropical Storm Allison I assumed you had a former employee named Allison who was a disaster…took me a second to realize you were talking about a literal tropical storm!

      2. Catsaber*

        One of my first jobs was at a historical archive, and the director would paper bomb his office every six months. He was super disorganized and never threw away anything, and just couldn’t be arsed to keep anything clean or organized. So about 1/3 of the archive space was all his junk from over the years. I have no idea why he was the director. Probably for his fundraising/schmoozing skills.

    7. FuzzFrogs*

      (Really gross stuff in this comment.) Used to work in fast food at Disney World.

      One day before a planned inspection, the supervisor realizes that a metal panel covering a corner area below a counter top is removable, which had probably not been a thing anyone has noticed in several years. But, you know, the health inspector might notice, so she removes the panel to check that there’s nothing behind it.

      It….well, “the funk of forty thousand years” would be a good description. Whatever various little things had managed to get behind there had turned into a thick, gooey black substance. It was wet, and sticky. No smell, but it looked deeply unsettling. Some areas were growing a white mold on top of the black goo.

      It’s a toss up between that and all the moldy books I have gotten at my current job (public library) that have given me chest infections.

      1. LibrariAnne*

        At my last gig a huge mold bloom was discovered across an entire floor of the academic library, and staff were made to clean off the books in a marathon session. Absolutely insane and wrecked my allergies.

    8. Goldfinch*

      I’m assuming you mean in an office job? Because my waitressing answer to this question would keep you awake at night.

      Office answer: one of the “frat bro” types thought it would be hilarious to “file” a piece of pizza in a fellow frat bro’s cabinet (under P for pizza, of course) but didn’t realize the recipient had already left for a week of work travel. The grease dripped down and solidified many pages together, there were ants, it was a whole thing.

      1. Quill*

        I’m laughing really hard but I also remember desk cleanouts at school where, among other things, there would be year old rotten bannannas and nests full of what baby mice leave behind when they’re old enough to move out.

      2. in the file room*

        I’ll take answers from all sectors! I used to work in television, where a big part of my job was to take care of the (often food-heavy) garbage, so I’m a bit tougher re: grossness than my current position implies.

    9. Quill*



      So I worked in a lab (yes, this is hell pig lab: I was there too long) that, among other things, was in the basement and required sump pumps to connect the hastily installed lab plumbing to the real plumbing. The nature of some of the chemicals we worked with and which therefore got washed down the drain in trace amounts corroded the gaskets & therefore the pumping mechanism.

      Flash forward to a 12 hour experiment where we needed fresh porcine skin samples and had to prep them ourselves, which lead to a lot of washing of equipment and a lot of biohazard bags stacked next to, you guessed it, the sump pump… Which broke and started jetting water all over the floor.

      Pig skin scented, nasty water, that our fortunately sealed biohazard bags were sitting in, and no way to turn the damn sump pump off…

      By the time I left that day I’d had to bleach the entire lab and honestly, I should have quit that day, NONE OF THAT was a proper lab setup.

    10. Atlantian*

      In college (Big 10 University), I was hired in the library accounting department to do their filing. Turned out, the person who had had the job prior to me had some measure of autism and had just made up their own filing system, without anyone knowing or noticing, and then used it for the entire 4 years he worked for them. I spent the entire semester reorganizing about 100 of those 4 drawers tall filing cabinets worth of invoices and order forms. It was a nightmare. But also, one of those things I kind of want to keep on my resume forever, because it was a monumental undertaking, and I got it done.

      1. in the file room*

        Isn’t it so satisfying?! I got a deep and perverse joy out of making it all perfect again.

        1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

          Right?? I worked in my college’s archival library as work study, and I have very fond memories of sitting in a back room working through boxes of papers while listening to my Discman, thinking “You go here, and you go here, and where do you go? Ah, you go Here.” Knots in my back relax just thinking about it.

    11. Mimmy*

      My story probably don’t compare to the others but…

      When I was interviewing for a job back in 2001, the manager took me around the area of the department, and one woman’s desk was stacked pretty high with charts she was processing. They explained that the other woman who did the same task had went away with no word on when she’d return. The woman at the desk was clearly not thrilled with being left with all that work.

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

      Some coworkers left the last slices of an all-nighter pizza in a kitchen cabinet. I found it a month later, while searching for my mug, almost fosillized and smelling of greesy cheese. We had to scrap the remains with alchohol, a spatula and a kitchen knife.

      1. Autumnheart*

        When I went to college as a freshman, lo these many years ago, I decided to try making some cookies in the communal dorm kitchen, which required a key to access. Upon gaining access, I noticed a weird smell, and tracked it to the refrigerator to find a foil-wrapped batch of …ribs, I think, that someone had left in there, all summer at the minimum. The spoiled meat had eaten through some of the foil. It was not good.

        I somehow managed to put myself into that mindspace where you go on autopilot to clean up a gross mess, got a trashbag, put the mess into a trashbag and threw it in the dumpster, then Lysoled the hell out of the fridge. I never did make the cookies, but I was pretty much done with the communal kitchen after that.

    13. Ex Alaskan*

      Last year’s 7.1 earthquake in Anchorage. Files you didn’t know you had. Old media (thing promotional DVDs) that turned out to be plentiful. Just … so much stuff. Everywhere.

      Super helpful for finding that thing that you lost behind a shelf. Cause it was now on the floor. With everything else.

    14. Midge*

      In a legal office, an attorney was let go. When they went into his former office to start gathering up all the case files so his work could be redistributed, it was discovered that things were a complete mess. Piles of papers that should have been in case files were everywhere, including a bunch of stuff THROWN INTO THE GARBAGE. Like, discovery for criminal defendants. In the fucking garbage. The impression was that he knew he was being let go, and was trying to “tidy up” or something? I don’t even know the thought process. I don’t remember if he was able to return to his office after the meeting, but even if he wasn’t he absolutely knew why he was being called into a meeting.

      The worst thing is that he wasn’t just trying to cover up for his incompetence and/or sabotage the people who would be taking on the work. He actions could have harmed the people he was supposed to be helping.

      Hmm, maybe this is a bit off topic because while the physical mess was substantial, his ethical mess was the really big pile of stinking doo doo. Discovery. In. The. Garbage.

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I once had a short-term job in a one-lawyer law office dealing with their file room and archive room backlog. This particular lawyer had clearly figured out that extreme technical competence in her subfield (which involved very specific financial law things with a lot of federal and state level rules to keep track of, and which involved a lot of clients who would only need her services once each) could substitute for managerial skills, and had gone through a long string of assistants who did not actually get things filed where they needed to go and often quit (or were fired) abruptly.

        I never did figure out where some of those papers in the “to be filed” box needed to go, but after a month or two I (a) think I found all of the boxed with moose doots in them, (b) had all of the boxes in the archive space (which was a fenced cage in the shared basement of her office building, one of several fenced storage areas used by various building tenants – one of the other tenants also tended to tie up their dog in the hallway down there) consistently labelled and stacked on shelves in chronological order rather than “wherever there is space” order and/or on the floor (c) files were all in uniform file boxes rather than whatever was handy that day and (d) assorted other improvements were made.

    15. Crystal Smith*

      I had a retail job in a big, 2-story clothing store. The 2nd floor fitting rooms had been closed for ages, and I eventually found out it was because the store was months behind on go-backs. Every room had a rolling rack crammed full of stuff, plus more folded stuff on the floors, the seats….you couldn’t get back to most of the rooms because the aisle to get to them was full of more rolling racks. You could just see the top of towers of stuff peeking over the changing stall walls. It was mind-boggling, and to this day I wonder how no one at the district level ever noticed how much merchandise the store must have been holding onto back there

        1. Crystal Smith*

          I was only there for a few months, but when I left it was worse than ever – it was just after Christmas and there’d just been an inspection by district managers: prepping for it involved straight-up throwing really old merchandise over the stall walls and into the blocked-off changing rooms (which was fun, but um…) That was years ago and the store was recently renovated, so at some point they must have cleaned it up? I guess? I feel like they would’ve needed a bulldozer…

    16. anonny*

      Frozen stool samples that were packaged incorrectly by the sender. Plastic test tubes were filled to the brim, which of course expand and pop when frozen…it was not a fun afternoon for a lot of people.

      1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        We had a placenta sent to us via delivery service without formalin. Delivery service accidentally re-routed the specimen to a warehouse that wasn’t temperature-controlled, in the middle of summer, in Texas, for two days.
        When it was finally located and sent to us, we had to basically evacuate the lab because only three of us could handle the stench.

      2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

        We had a placenta without formalin sent to us via delivery service. Delivery service accidentally re-routed the specimen to a warehouse that wasn’t temperature-controlled, in the middle of summer, in Texas, for two days.

        Once the delivery service figured out their mix-up, they delivered it to us and we had to basically evacuate the lab because only three of us could handle the smell.

    17. Hawk*

      I sorted files where listings of presentations the nonprofit I worked for did were saved. These files were decades old, and in a couple cases, over a century old! The two century-old pieces that were of significant historical value ended up being thrown away. I think. I still cringe when I think about that.

      1. in the file room*

        Yes… once I got through the mess described above, I moved on to other neglected parts of our room, where I discovered some Very Old items. So far my record is something that should have been moved out of the office in 1980! Our retention period is two years…

    18. Playing Catch-up*

      YES THIS. Just started a new job that hadn’t filed things since 2004. 2004!!!!! Paper is coming out everywhere and now I get to spend my free time archiving it. Eventually asked my supervisor what my predecessor did all day (talk on the phone and watch tv). I feel a small amount of rage about it. Just stacks and stacks of papers.

    19. I Love Llamas*

      Funny this question popped up this week. I had the pleasure of coordinating the move of over 400 file boxes, 8-10 file cabinets and 400 blueprints from someone’s “She Shed” to a storage unit so the appropriate people can go through the information and see what can be dumped. Two trucks, 6 laborers…it was a fun way to start the week.

    20. QCI*

      I worked in disaster cleanup, so my job was cleaning up physical messes all the time. Water, fire, sewer, biohazard, hoarders, etc

    21. ...*

      Lol. Spilling an industrial container of handsoap. You’d think soap would be easy to clean up, but you would be very wrong.

      1. Alexandra Lynch*

        My husband, a trucker, once witnessed a spill of 50:1 concentrated lubricating jelly on a two lane highway. (It was being hauled in barrels to a processing plant where it would be bottled for consumer use.)

        The local fire department said, “It’s water-soluble; we can just turn the fire hoses on it.” No. It GREW.

    22. stuckinacrazyjob*

      Once I fell into a pile of garbage at work. The entire backroom was filled with garbage bags that hadn’t been taken out. I slipped and fell right into them and had to be pulled out by a supervisor.

    23. MA RMV scandal*

      At least these messes didn’t make the newspapers. In Massachusetts, there was an entire scandal involving the motor vehicle department not processing the reports of infractions from other states which started because someone whose license should have been pulled had a deadly accident.
      Eventually it came out there were boxes of these reports from other states sitting unprocessed.

    24. Zephy*

      First job out of college was with Americorps (City Year specifically). My team had a classroom in the school where we served that was our base of operations. I took it upon myself to clean out and try to organize the cabinets full of Stuff that we had inherited from previous years’ teams. Just…stuff. Construction paper, printer paper, notebook paper. A bin full of art supplies (markers and pencils etc), rolls of tape, posters, chalk (the cabinets were painted with chalkboard paint). Random swaths of fabric?? Bits of CY swag, probably for token-economy purposes? Actual bits of token-economy…uh, tokens. It took the better part of a day. You bet your bippy I sifted through that bin full of markers and threw out the ones that didn’t work anymore.

      My approach to cleaning and organizing something like a closet is to take everything out of it, get rid of all the stuff in it that’s garbage, clean everything, then find homes for everything that’s left. It’s exhausting and it can be overwhelming, especially if I don’t feel like I have the authority or a clear enough set of rules to determine what can be safely thrown out and what should be kept.

    25. Kesnit*

      I was working for a temp agency and got an assignment to a company that contracted unarmed security guards. For some reason (that no one ever told me), rather than putting employees paperwork into the employee’s folder in the file room, they just stacked the paperwork on the desk (and floor) of an empty office. I guess someone realized that wasn’t a workable filing system, so bring on the temp!

      It took a few months, but I got all the papers filed.

    26. Clever Name*

      My first-ever job out of grad school was at a mid-size airport. Part of my job was to keep track of records that had to be kept essentially forever. These records had been gathered from a myriad of locations and were sitting in piles all over my soon-to-be office, waiting to be organized and filed. Right before I started, the area experienced a severe windstorm, and the very thick windows of my office blew out. Maintenance staff came in and boarded up the windows in the aftermath. They were in emergency mode, so they understandably trampled on the wet papers that had blown around the office. So when I arrived at work, there were very tall piles of wrinkled papers in random order that I had to go through. Some of the documents were duplicates that had been stored in different locations. I don’t even remember how long it took me to go through everything. Months probably.

      1. Clever Name*

        Reading the other responses reminded me of the other big messes at this same job. The terminal building was 60 years old at this point, and we had sewage overflows not once, but 4 times over the 2 years I worked there. I did not have to do the actual clean up, thank god, but I did have to be the “escort” for the cleanup crew, as the ramps were restricted access. Fun times.

    27. !*

      I was the only one who cleaned out a coworkers cubicle of 15 years worth of (mostly) documents for the new hire on our team. I even cleaned the surfaces with wipes, something old coworker never did. No one else even offered to help. The kicker? My boss, who SAW me doing the cleaning thanked EVERYONE for cleaning out/up the cubicle in our team meeting. Never again will I do that.

    28. blaise zamboni*

      Oh man. In my old job as a medical office manager, my coworker (our senior office manager–she’s been there since the beginning of the office) was very laissez-faire about uh…filing correctly? Organizing in any way? When we had physical patient charts, she would routinely file their charts by finding approximately the correct letter of the alphabet and shoving the chart somewhere in that general area. When we had to shuffle physical charts around to prepare for our full EHR shift, I moved our inactive charts up to about the letter M before I got busy with another project and had to pause on that. Out of the blue, she moved all the remaining charts into a different filing cabinet which had 5 drawers, and she sorted them essentially like this: “M-P”; “M, R, Q, S”; “S”, “M, R, S, T”, “the rest of the alphabet”. On a slow night after she’d left, I realphabetized both cabinets for my own sanity, and I got chastised by my boss the next day for wasting time on non-urgent projects. In this job, Coworker and I also had to run a number of daily reports and file those by day. She put those in an accordion folder each month, and at the end of each month, she put all the materials into a huge undifferentiated stack and dumped it unlabeled in a cabinet in the back office. I was lucky enough to be the representative for our internal audit, so I had the super-fun experience of being on the phone with a colleague asking for reports from January 2019, and frantically looking at the piles arranged neatly in this order: 3/19, 2/19, 12/18, and 11/18. I told her I couldn’t seem to find that date and she let me call her back the next day. When I asked my coworker the next morning where the hell 1/19 had disappeared to, she looked around, realized that she put 1/19 on the shelf BELOW 2/19 and 3/19, completely on its own, for no reason–and she just shrugged at me like I was the stupid one for not finding it.

      When that office finally expanded, I was the one to box up materials from our shared office areas. I found PHI dating back to 2012 in unlocked drawers. I just about ripped all my hair out.

      My current office is comparably better, but it still has its issues. One project I’m supposed to tackle is a huge amount of returned mail addressed to patients. This mail was originally sent to our customer service department, but they’re unreasonably busy, so that mail just piled up in a cube….for a year and a half….We got the blessing to shred anything from last year, but that still leaves us with several boxes of mail from this year. I also became responsible for clearing out some cabinets to hold our most recent audit materials. The cabinets hold old audit materials, but they haven’t been touched since *2013*. I filled up 7 archive boxes with this stuff. It only took me a few hours to clear all of it, so it’s baffling that nobody else had the time or motivation to do this before.

    29. Annooo*

      I used to work with a colony of research dogs who had endemic giardia and a penchant for uh, “recycling” poops. We would play with them on Fridays sometimes, but some of them when they got over excited would barf. So barf combined with poops and running dogs… It’s a good thing they were super cute!

    30. Phoenix Programmer*

      It was digital but I consider it a big mess. I found a 52 nested if statement formula in an inherited Excel report.

      As in “if this then … if this then …” 52 times!

      The kicker? The formula only produced 4 results. It took me 16 hours to parse through and I replaced it with 1 if and a vlookup.

      Most of this guy’s workbooks were like that. He somehow would build a report once, then manage to pass it on to another analyst.

  23. Ruth (UK)*

    I know number 2 in the most recent post before this one was over reacting but it’s suddenly making me overthink my plans for a potluck next week…

    I work at a UK university where we have lots of international staff incl many Americans. On the day of Thanksgiving, we’re having an event after work in the form of a potluck (ps. potluck isn’t really a thing in the UK but we’ve explained it to people). We haven’t called the event Thanksgiving (we’re calling it ‘international potluck’) though a lot of people will make/bring food items typically associated with Thanksgiving (the idea is to bring something from your country if you want [or bring whatever you like] and there are a good handful of Americans coming. My mother is American though I was born and brought up in the UK – I intend to bring a couple typical thanksgiving sides).

    When I say ‘we’ though, I actually mean my old department – I changed jobs (within the uni, to a new department) only last week. They have made it clear I’m still welcome at this event (I’ve had several people contact me to tell me I should still come).

    The organiser has sent around a google docs sign up sheet so people can say what they’re bringing. I have let her know that while I intend to come, I am not totally certain of my attendance (I let her know this while I was still working my notice in the last department) and therefore will not put anything down on the sign up sheet (as it’s better to have accidental duplicates than for someone to decide not to bring something cause they think I am – and then I don’t make it). I also let the organiser know what I intend to bring if I come.

    I am still not 100% sure if I will definitely make it (and I’ve communicated this to her again this week) but think I will. So basically, I’m doing the thing that OP2 from today’s earlier post got so wound up about – bringing something to a potluck but not declaring it or signing up. Just showing up with it…

    1. machinations and palindromes*

      Just some reassurance that you already know, but: there is nothing wrong with what you’re doing! A potluck signup can help make sure that you don’t end up with everyone bringing disposable cups but no one bringing soda, but it’s not writ in blood. Life happens, plans happen, if they want a set menu, they’d get it catered. Bring what you want to bring, if you’re able to make it.

      Also, with a giant potluck where *everybody* brings food? Showing up empty handed is not a bad thing. It means they don’t have to shove things around to find room for yet another dish, and there’s another mouth to eat the food. At a previous job, we’d have to go hunt down people who worked on other floors to come help eat all the food for the potluck.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Thanks :)

        This event will likely be around 15 people so it won’t be so huge that we’ll have a major leftover food problem. One reason doing it on a Thursday is good as well is that people will be in again the next day if they need to leave anything in the work fridge overnight (the event is on campus).

      2. cmcinnyc*

        If it’s at all Thanksgiving-themed, a) there is no such thing as Too Much at Thanksgiving, and b) every family/region makes traditional sides in their own particular way so even if two (or more) people brought cornbread you can specify that yours is Yankee cornbread, not Southern or whatever and all will be well.

        No Hawaiian Rolls though, because they’re temporarily jinxed.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Hah! I didn’t even know what Hawaiian rolls were and had to google it. They were not what I thought they’d be! I thought they would be a sandwich containing ham and pineapple (for US readers, in case this is a British term thing, we often use the word ‘roll’ interchangeably with ‘sandwich’ when the sandwich is made in the type of bread we’d refer to as a ‘roll’ (which is often anything that isn’t sliced bread).

        1. londonedit*

          I totally didn’t know what Hawaiian rolls were either (I also imagined a ham and pineapple roll-sandwich!) but at least I now know that they are allegedly not cheap ass.

        2. Elenna*

          Honestly I’m still not sure what “rolls” are in general? Cylindrical bread? Small loaves of bread? Bread that’s rolled up into a spiral? Bread with fillings???

    2. Mama Bear*

      You might also consider contributing something you can drop off, like sodas or paper goods. That way it doesn’t matter if you attend or not as long as the organizer has the item(s).

      Insofar as the LW, I wouldn’t worry about that applying to you. I think LW’s reaction is not common or typical at all. Pot lucks are so named because you don’t really know what you will get and the lists are a guideline. I hope you get to attend and have fun. Don’t worry about LW’s evil twin.

    3. Parenthetically*

      If you’re not sure you’re coming, best to do exactly as you’re planning to do! Only OP2 will be annoyed. ;)

    4. UKCoffeeLover*

      I work in the UK higher education sector too. We might not call them pot lucks, but we often have meals where people bring a dish to share and never use a sign up sheet. These things normally work out fine, and if they don’t and everyone brings cheap ass rolls, that just adds to the fun!
      You’ve told the organisers that you might not be there and what you’ll bring if you can make it, that plenty good enough in my opinion. :)

  24. Valancy Snaith*

    I need an outside opinion to determine whether I’m being emotional.

    My mom passed away on Halloween. I was off for a little over a week before returning back to work the following Saturday. My boss gave me the bereavement time with no questions asked or any requirement to provide proof, etc., which was lovely, but I’m slightly irritated that my workplace didn’t send flowers or even pass a card to be signed. My parents lived a long way away, so obviously no one was going to be at the funeral, and I can understand not sending flowers, but I’m miffed that no one even had a sympathy card for me. I know this is something we’ve done in the past because I’ve signed a half dozen in two years here, and another employee’s mother passed away a couple of months ago and the company sent flowers AND we all signed a card for her.

    Is this my grief brain talking, or am I right to be upset?

    1. ThatGirl*

      It’s OK to be upset, but try not to take it too personally, unless this is part of a larger pattern of you feeling overlooked.

    2. machinations and palindromes*

      I think when you’re grieving, your ability to handle disappointments and downsides is already at its max, and so any extra drop can make it all spill over. Feeling like you’ve been ignored in your grief is absolutely an okay thing to feel! Especially when you’re already at your limit, even a “small thing” can make it all collapse like a deck of cards.

      So I’d indulge in the feelings however much you want to, but I wouldn’t mention it to your boss or anyone else at your job. It’s okay to feel it, but asking about it will either get you 1) people thinking it’s strange you’re asking for condolences, 2) people feeling aghast that they forgot you, thus socially requiring you to comfort them and assuage their feelings about, oh no, you don’t really feel upset that they forgot your mom died.

    3. CatCat*

      I understand why this is upsetting and it is certainly okay to feel upset. If the folks you work with are generally good, thoughtful people, it sounds like this was an unfortunate mistake. Try to think about it through that lens. Though it hurt your feelings, it wasn’t a personal slight. Just humans being humans making errors in life.

    4. beanie gee*

      I’m really sorry for your loss. :(

      It’s possible the boss didn’t tell the people usually responsible for cards, thinking they were respecting your privacy or just as an oversight. I’d be a little disappointed also since it’s a nice gesture that says “we know you’re going through a hard time” and can take the pressure off of feeling 100% together at work.

    5. Mama Bear*

      I also wonder if it was a matter of the information not being distributed to the people that usually do that kind of thing. For example, here if the office manager hears about it, she will absolutely get a card going. But if it’s left to other folks, they can be hit or miss. My guess is that it was unintentional. I’m sorry for your loss.

    6. Not really a waitress*

      Both? The week before my father died, a coworker’s father died and I took charge and had the card passed around etc. She would have been the one who made sure it was done for me but she was still out when my father died. He didn’t have a funeral so no flowers were sent. (Person who did flower orders said because there was no funeral she didn’t know where to send flowers?!) 2 weeks after I returned from bereavement, someone’s spouse died unexpectedly and I was the asked to be the POC for the card and money collection. It chapped my hide.

      When my mom died, I was only in my second week at a new job. The site ops manager personally sent me a plant. Sometimes its not personal but who is in charge and who is organized.

      1. Pineapple Incident*

        OP, I have no advice to add to your situation, but I’m sorry for your loss.

        To this comment – Ugh.. the POC ask 2 weeks after you’d returned to work from your own loss would have bothered me so much! I think the ideal ‘soft pass’ response is some derivative of “I’m still processing my own fresh loss and this is too much right now, I can’t” but I’d have been so blown away if someone asked me that so quickly that I’d probably have just agreed and been mad later.

        I’m sorry for your losses – the treatment in your first paragraph is callous but as you said, sadly commonplace.

      2. WellRed*

        “2 weeks after I returned from bereavement, someone’s spouse died unexpectedly and I was the asked to be the POC for the card and money collection.”

        I would have refused, based on the timing alone.

    7. Commuter*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      The sting of not getting a sympathy card, in a culture where you know they happen, sucks. I think the hard thing about flowers, sympathy cards, etc. is that more often than not it isn’t an assigned responsibility to anyone so it’s easy to slip through the cracks and to assume someone else has handled it.

      Take care of yourself right now.

    8. CupcakeCounter*

      My work didn’t do anything when my FIL or grandfather passed (and I was at work when I got the news about my FIL so they all saw how wrecked I was). I did get a lovely card and chocolate bar from one coworker who is an absolute sweetheart but nothing from the group.
      Meanwhile another coworker got flowers for a minor surgery (procedure Wednesday back to work Monday), another got a Happy Hour with a round on the bosses for a work anniversary.
      Its upsetting and not just you. I wouldn’t hold a grudge but I don’t think you are out of line for being upset.

    9. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

      I feel you. Two months ago grandmother passed away on a Monday, and I took that day to grieve, and I came back to flowers and a card. It warmed my heart. But my grandfather (other side of the family) passed three days later and I came back to no card, no flowers, no acknowledgement of the secondary loss. I was irritated and disappointed. One loss did not negate the pain of the other.

      I’m sorry your team disappointed you. It is disappointing.

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        Adding more sympathy for your loss.

        Were the other people who got cards further up in the hierarchy? I’ve worked at jobs where people at x level get an allotment of $a for gifts or going away parties, and people at x-1 level get $b<a allotment, etc. and other jobs where higher ups got cards from the whole staff, and lower staff only got their department etc.

  25. MousePrincess*

    I’ve been at a new job for 6 months and am really reconsidering if it is for me. I work in a 9-5 M-F position at a museum. The work is interesting and dynamic, but my boss expects everyone to work at least an hour or two extra every day, and be here on weekends at a moment’s notice (even when I can’t be useful to the guest services staff) just for the sake of it. She questions your commitment to your position if you have to leave at 5 or even 5:30. I knew going into this that I’d have to put in extra time here and there, and of course I am flexible, but I feel like now I’m really bending over backwards and I’m going to burn out. I don’t want to look for a new job again, or have a 6 month stint on my resume but god, I’m already so tired!

        1. WellRed*

          Well, what if it really wasn’t an option for you to stay extra? Like, if you had to pick a kid up from daycare or had some other duty? If you think that would still get you a talking to, I’d start looking but I realize getting a museum job isn’t easy.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      Yes, this stinks.
      Are you hourly? Have you talked to coworkers about this?
      Hope you find a coping strategy soon.

    2. blackcat*

      Are you getting paid for that time?
      If you’re classified as exempt, are you sure that’s the right classification?

      1. YRH*

        It was the one yesterday where the entire front of the card was covered in raspberry colored glitter and I had to go wash my hands after signing.

      1. WellRed*

        Careful. Last time I commented here about glitter bombs several of the doomsdayers said doing so could get you charged with assault.


        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          That’s why they’re sent via anonymous through a service, tracks are already covered. Get yourself that subpoena!

          I’d like to see some case law, please and thanks whenever possible charges are brought up.

  26. Jaid*

    Co-worker found a bedbug crawling on her desk. She bravely taped it down so facilities could identify and verify…I had to be the one to transfer it to a piece of note paper to get it off her desk.


    1. Dust Bunny*

      My coworker is fearless . . . except about bugs. I am the designated Cricket Hunter here.

      But I’d still take crickets over bedbugs.

    2. Arts Akimbo*

      That was extremely quick-thinking on her part. I’d be like ***squish*** “Oh no, I should have preserved it for facilities!” Good on you for being the bug-transferrer!

    3. Clever Name*

      Ha! My boss has a tick enveloped in tape stuck to her bulletin board. She found it somewhere and saved it to prove to another coworker that ticks are indeed found in our state. We are all biologists, so it’s normal (for us) to have specimens tacked to your bulletin board. I’m sure our other coworkers think we are weird. And they are right.

  27. So anon today*

    Just venting.

    I do a one hour call in daily radio show with an 80+-year-old man who has been broadcasting for more than 50 years. He burps quietly on air sometimes and it makes me crazy, but he just swears it doesn’t pick up over the microphone (it does). Today, he ripped a high loud fart on air, and acted like nothing happened. I’m just at a loss. My Boss won’t get rid of him because of his age And possible agism (employee often says ”I’m old” as an excuse) and he genuinely believes his long career means he’s the best thing to ever hit radio. Ugh!

    1. Mazzy*

      Omg this made me burst out laughing! I like the venting comments sometimes but this was not what I was expecting!

  28. sigh*

    A little long….How would you handle this situation? Posting for a friend and reposting their text to me (with permission).

    2 ½ years ago I started temping for my dream job; eventually I was made a temporary work (a formality) and 7 months ago made into a permanent position. I worked for a very very large department but my sub-department of 20 is pretty small. The 20 of us are pretty close. I occasionally work with Scott – maybe a handful of times in the last 2 ½ years. Scott is a very friendly and very professional person but seemed to have a negative attitude. While he was always complaining it was normal office stuff – I hate being stuck here during a snowstorm; I think this procedure should be done differently – nothing outrageous, always respectful and always took more of the form of venting to a friend.

    Since I wanted this to become a permanent position while I was contracting/ temp I kept my head down, focused on my work. I didn’t really pay attention to office gossip. After I became permanent Scott became very distant from me. Answers to my questions were one word; if no greeting was required I was ignored. He wouldn’t even say hello in the hall! I just figured it is what it is.

    Scott had some workpapers he uses to complete a report for executives. The workpapers are his. I asked if he would share them as they would cut down on a procedure I am responsible for by days, even weeks. Basically we were calculating the same result but were given different access to different systems. As a contractor, temp and new employee my access was very limited. While my access will increase overtime, due to official company policies this will be a while. Please know I am not trying to get Scott to do my work; the section I would like to work with him on is just one section of a large process.

    I spoke to our mutual boss. I in NO WAY complained about Scott; didn’t even bring him up. I asked if we could brainstorm how I could get the information without having to bother any of my teammates. We came up with a solution. Still takes a while, but it works and I can get my results.

    My boss then told me something in confidence in very general descriptions during the meeting. Apparently 5 years ago the company had a scandal. I knew about this. It was dealt with and corrected immediately and those involved were fired. Scott apparently was collateral damage. The company felt Scott should have known what was going on given his position, but because he had done his job, dotted and crossed his I’s and T’s there was nothing that could be done. Of those still at the company, including executives, believe Scott is innocent but looking at the big picture an outsider might think Scott’s actions were in a gray area. Due to Scott’s very niche knowledge, he has mentioned that he is job searching for quite a while. No one outside of the company and an external review company knows about the scandal. In other words this did not hit the news or anything in a way that would make Scott look bad.

    I found out Scott’s previous responsibilities were shuffled around after the scandal. When I accepted a newly formed position, about 60% of my job are Scott’s old responsibilities. This is news to me, even after being here almost 3 years I had no idea. I guess this somewhat explains Scott’s recent distant attitude towards me.

    I do think from what little I know, Scott got caught up in the wrong place wrong time. I just don’t know how to work with him. My boss has been amazing coming up with solutions. I’m in the dark but my boss has said he is working on solutions to many department situations. It’s just, occasionally Scott and I need the same references but he doesn’t want to be a team player – You do your job, I’ll do mine; You should know what your doing so stop asking me for data you can figure out on your own. Without letting on that I know about the scandal (not my business) how do I get Scott to understand I’m on his side; his team; we work in the same department? I have data and resources that would help him as well. I have voluntarily given these resources to him to try and show him I’m just trying to do my job efficiently like him. I’m just frustrated!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Who is supposed to be managing Scott? Right now he’s a missing stair and everyone is working around him instead of telling him to shape up.

      If he feels he’s being treated unfairly, it’s on him to advocate for himself or move on, but making your job harder shouldn’t be an option.

      1. sigh*

        The mutual boss manages my friend and Scott. My friend thinks there is more to the story as the boss just keeps saying we’re working on things; we’re aware there is a problem; etc.

  29. SkSkSkSkSkSkSk*

    What do you do about a grown adult who chooses to act like a teenager (think: big sighs, eye rolls, passive aggressiveness, etc), but always toes the line of never really doing enough to get put on a pip for it?

    1. Not Today Satan*

      The important think is to not let the person gas light you. People are masters at acting in ways that are obviously hostile but could, technically, be interpreted as not hostile. If you’re the manager I’d name the behavior and say it needs to stop. And if they say something like “I’m just a sigher” say that’s good to know, but it comes across badly, so put a stop to it.

    2. fposte*

      Are you their manager? Because you absolutely can correct the behavior and talk about the overall attitude problem if so.

      1. SkSkSkSkSkSkSk*

        So, I continue to correct he behavior. but there’s a point where I’m just correcting personality/being someone’s mother and less their supervisor, ya know? Larger problems absolutely are addressed, but it’s the tiny things that aren’t really “correctable” other than a comment.

        And just personally grating, I suppose.

        1. fposte*

          They are absolutely correctable! “Jane, we’ve talked about the attitude and the way it’s expressed in eyerolling and sighing. In your work here, I expect you to be pleasant and professional in manner and communication, and right now you’re falling short. I need you to work on improving in that area. Can you do that?” And if she doesn’t improve, I don’t see why you couldn’t put her on a PIP. Just make sure you observe the specifics, identify them, and note their overall impact to avoid the vague “don’t be how you are.”

        2. Parenthetically*

          I don’t think it’s mothering to take this kind of stuff seriously, and I don’t think you are stuck just correcting in the moment. I mean, I assume you’ve had this conversation: “Jan, it’s important that you stop rolling your eyes, speaking in a sarcastic or rude tone, and sighing dramatically when talking with me or your coworkers. Going forward, I need you to completely stop doing these things. Not just cut back on them, but stop doing them altogether. In order for you to succeed in this role, you need to be actively cordial and helpful toward your colleagues, and stop entirely with behavior like this, which is offputting and alienating.”

  30. Me--Blargh!*

    Why are employers so prejudiced against unemployed people?

    I searched for three years in a very depressed area (and from there) for which I was overqualified, and it took some time to get out. I recently moved to a larger job market but I’m not getting any responses here, either (it’s been about two weeks). I’d like to make a transition out of admin work, but I don’t have enough experience to do what I’m best at —editing, writing, documents— and nobody wants to hire me, not even freelance. I can’t go back to school and I need an income before I can focus on gaining skills.

    I tried a temp agency in my previous city and got no assignments. I tried a temp agency here — they sent me to another branch because allegedly, there was a tech writing job at a bank. But when I went up there, the recruiter told me no, she didn’t have a job like that, the other person must have misunderstood, and all she had was a direct hire for something I didn’t want (a dead-end admin job in a one-person office looking for someone who would never leave). She also said that with a three-year gap on my resume, there was little chance I’d find anything. She said she would look for direct-hire spots for me, but her attitude was so overwhelmingly negative I can’t seem to shake it. I feel like I will never work again and she was just confirming that.

    I just upheaved my entire life, apparently for nothing. What can I do? Every time I try anything, it either turns into a disaster or it’s a dead end. I can’t even think of what to do next. My brain has shut down. I just want to be working! Just because I’m unemployed does not mean I’m unemployable, ffs.

    1. ACDC*

      This might not be the answer you’re looking for, but you may have to hunker down and take a job you aren’t necessarily thrilled about to kind of reestablish your working credibility (on paper).

        1. Morningstar*

          You said you “didn’t want” the admin job, but you might fake some enthusiasm for something you don’t really want just to get back in the game! You can always keep looking.

          1. Me--Blargh!*

            For that particular one, we decided I wasn’t suitable. It’s a one-person office looking for a permanent employee. The client doesn’t have time to train a line of potentials, the pay is lower than I want for a permanent job, and there is quite literally nowhere to advance and nothing to learn. This is a role I would absolutely leave eventually. Both Negative Nancy and I agreed it wasn’t fair to the client. If it were a bigger company instead of just one person, I totally would have asked her to submit me.

            Plus the (unintentional?) bait and switch between what the first recruiter said and what Negative Nancy actually had really threw me for a loop.

    2. AnotherAlison*

      If nothing else, you have more flexibility to go somewhere else if needed now.

      I think the only way you turn your situation around is direct connection with the person doing the hiring, probably at a smaller place where that person is the owner, and these may be P/T or 1099 roles, and may be administrative. Can you find a connection like my neighbor who owns a firm doing accounting and CFO work for small businesses? While I know you don’t do numbers work, someone like that has a lot of small business connections and could refer you directly to someone who may be looking for admin support, or may know yet another SB owner looking for admin support (or if not admin, perhaps web copy or proposal writing. . .I don’t know). Visitors days at BNI groups would be a way to make those connections, too.

      IIRC, there were a lot of constraints on pay before because of the other living situation. Is that still the case, or is it worth taking something below your actual value just to get something new on your resume? What about non-office things, like substitute teaching? I saw something on the news in KC about a couple of the districts needing a bunch more subs, and the requirement was 60 hrs college credit, so that’s why that one comes to mind.

      1. H.C.*

        On other hand, there may be last-minute seasonal hire opps in foodservice / retail (or other holiday-related fields).

    3. periwinkle*

      I had been unemployed for about 3 years and then signed up with a couple temp agencies. Neither cared about a resume gap. The assignments offered weren’t super amazing wonderful jobs, but they brought in money and got me back into the working groove. A couple assignments were extended, and then one turned into a long-term assignment that morphed into a permanent job in a new-to-me field. Now that’s my career.

      So go find another temp agency. Accept some short-term admin jobs if you must. They’ll get you back to a working rhythm and demonstrate to the agency (and others, and direct employers) that you are awesome enough to get even better assignments. If you’re now in a larger job market, there will be multiple temp agencies so you’re not stuck with Ms. Negative Recruiter.

      1. Me--Blargh!*

        Accept some short-term admin jobs if you must.

        I told them that’s what I was looking for. I am so sick of trying to explain my LD bc people think I’m full of shit and then submit me for jobs that are all numbers. I could try some more, I guess. But I’m starting to feel like all temp job listings are fake and all recruiters are liars.

    4. StellaBella*

      You note this about that recruiter: “all she had was a direct hire for something I didn’t want (a dead-end admin job in a one-person office looking for someone who would never leave). ” Why not this option? If you are in a 1-person office you could have a lot of freedom, I would think? Just trying to say that I would also go out to all the other temp agencies around and also start looking for something seasonal maybe too – at shops? Good luck and fingers crossed for you to find something soon.

      1. Me--Blargh!*

        As I explained upthread, it wasn’t a revolving door kind of job — Nancy said the client wants someone who will not leave. I totally would. Also, it was a HUGE amount of duties (and not great pay), so the client is obviously trying to push them off on this person bc she’s overwhelmed.

        Y’all, please don’t get stuck on the one job. We decided I wasn’t a good fit for it because it was so dead-end.

        I think I will try some other agencies next week. I came down with two infections right after moving and am feeling a lot better now. That might have had something to do with why Nancy’s negativity affected me so much.

    5. ...*

      Can you do something like online captioning just to get something current on your resume? I know people who did it as a side gig. its called. Or even something app based like uber, lyft, postmates? I mean its a job and shows that you’re willing to buckle down and work even if its not ideal (that’s how I would see it and yes I do screen resumes in my role). I suppose it depends on your $$ situation too. Also I’ve found little gigs on craiglist for editing and stuff that maybe you could roll into a “Freelance Editor” section on your resume? Maybe?

    6. Anono-me*

      My read on it is that you just wound up at kind of a squirrelly temporary agency for your first application. To me, a temporary writing position at a bank is very different from a full-time administrative career position as half of a two person firm. I’m not quite sure how the rep confused those two to begin with. But I really don’t understand why she couldn’t/didn’t confirm the position when setting up the appointment before sending you across town for it.

      I hope you keep applying both at the temporary agencies and directly at positions that have a positive career trajectory.

      As an interim suggestion, would you consider starting a LLC as a rewriter of reports by engineers or other techies ? A friend of mine, Pat, actually did this as a side job. Kris, a mutual friend who was very big in the engineering world, was complaining bitterly about the fact that many engineering programs did not have time for, much less require, any writing classes. “What does it matter what the engineer knows, if the client can’t understand the *&&^%¥£♤■{~$#%&%$$₩¥¥£%$££¥#3=/¤}{€ report?!!!” (He was a drill rigger first.) Pat had a Eureka moment, and presto, a new company was born.

  31. Jellyfish*

    I’ve had a bit of a winding career path, but I am finally (happily!) in a professional job in the field where I want to be. In all my jobs up until now, I’ve been at a fairly low level, was assigned specific tasks to complete, or was otherwise not expected to be involved in long-term, major decisions about how things worked. Now, I have a considerable degree of autonomy and authority over my area. I’m not really sure what to do with it?

    How do I “take ownership” when that’s not a skill I’ve really practiced outside of school? I’ve been hanging back to learn and observe before trying anything dramatic, but I suspect I’ll stay in that observation role indefinitely unless I make the effort to not to. Any suggestions on striking the balance between innovation and not running over other people or repeating what was tried before I showed up?

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      When I use the term “take ownership” with my employees what I usually mean is that they regard problems that arise as theirs to solve. So if the client delivered the wrong set of specs, they don’t sit around saying, “Oh well, they delivered the wrong specs. Guess I’ll sit around until somebody figures that out and brings me the correct specs on a silver platter.” Or if a project is running late, they take it upon themselves to figure out ways to get it back on schedule as opposed to dropping by my office at 4:00 on Friday, saying “By the way, the Jones project is late. See ya Monday!” Taking ownership means realizing that that is a problem and that you need to take an active role in trying to solve it.

      All this is to say that I don’t necessarily believe that taking ownership means doing something “dramatic”. Obviously circumstances differ based on whatever business you’re in. But it doesn’t have to mean jumping in and redesigning a process for the sake of making a splash. It means responding to actual problems when you see them as problems, and considering that problem to be your problem to solve.

      My advice is not to worry quite so much about looking for opportunities to make “long-term, major decisions” and concentrate more on taking problems seriously as your own to solve. Hope that helps!

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      One way I grew into taking ownership of my job was to take on the mindset, “My time is valuable and this work isn’t worth my time, so how do I make the work more efficient?

      Not the second half, which meant doing the work, just better/more efficiently (not just skipping it like the Junior Engineer an OP in a question post above was struggling with). I started with tweaks and changes that would be helpful, but unobtrusive.

      For example, the last time I started a new job, I was put in charge of a semi-annual survey that had been in existence for a while and used a (horribly messy) spreadsheet to track the data. The dramatic thing to do would be to overhaul the spreadsheet, which would not have been welcome. Instead, I made small changes to the spreadsheet (e.g. added formulas so data could be entered in one place and then updated everywhere) both because it made my life easier and because it improved the accuracy of the spreadsheet.

      The purpose of that exercise was to build my own confidence and to let me experiment in taking ownership in a low risk way.

    3. Stornry*

      I would try brainstorming ideas of projects/tasks I’d like to take on and seem to need doing and then discuss it with my manager. You’re new enough to the position that you can legit ask what they’d like you to focus on for your first project. Also, try talking to others on your team, particularly those in a similar position – what are they up to? is there any way you can help/contribute?

  32. BeanCat*

    Just venting today. My doctor has me trying new medicine and today was the first dose – I got NAILED with the side effects at work badly and right now I’m working up the nerve to ask to go home even though I’ve already used my meager PTO for health and surgery this year.

    Wish me luck.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Well that bites. Are you in a job where you can offer to make up hours later? What I do is mostly independent, and the company lets us work on a weekend if we need to. (I try not to — but when my migraines went into full swing, it meant I didn’t spend all my vacation being sick.)

      1. BeanCat*

        Unfortunately not – I’m a receptionist at an 8-5 office and there isn’t really a way to make them up. Ugh, sympathy from another migraine sufferer :(

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Which reminds me when I tried sumatriptan, I had Scary Sidee Effect #1 : stop taking immediately, call your doctor for a different prescription. Heart palpitations have since shown up in my nightmares. :(

    2. Pineapple Incident*

      Good luck! I know you didn’t ask for advice, but if you’ve just started taking meds with hefty side-effect potential, I’d look into intermittent FMLA (sorry if you’ve already done this and you don’t qualify for some reason – I have a chronic illness but I’m basically not sick enough for anything other than the occasional extra telework day). I hope that, whatever you’re taking the meds for, they help!

      1. BeanCat*

        Thank you for this! My doctor actually asked me to stop the medicine immediately based on the reaction I had, but I’ll look into it for the future if we try something else! :)

        1. A Non E. Mouse*

          Hey also ask if there is a certain time of day you can take the medicine so that the side effects will present when you are already home for the evening.

          I mean this only works if the side effects aren’t dangerous (where you’d want someone to find you passed out for example), BUT if the side effects are uncomfortable or alarming to others and you can be alone when they might occur, that’s better.

          I had to do that for a few medication changes – I have a long day that includes a commute I couldn’t skip if ill, so I wanted the medicine to hit me when I was already back home for an evening, or would have a weekend to recover.

          Once we found the right combo, I was able to switch the timing up to work better overall – this was just to see/manage possible side effects.

          Anyway, good luck!

        2. Fikly*

          I hope you feel better soon! I just had something similar happen with a new med, and I had to stop it immediately as well.

          I get weird reactions to meds a lot, and at this point, unless there is an urgent need to start a new one, I plan to start anything new on a day I will not be working, just in case.

  33. Tomato Frog*

    Good ways to ask people “Do you have a minute to answer a question?” or “Do you have time to discuss something?” that makes it as easy as possible for them to say “Not now, let’s talk later”?

    One suggestion I’ve seen is to say “Do you have a minute, or should I come back later?” I like that, but I’m wondering if anyone has any other ideas. If you must be interrupted, how would you like that interruption to be phrased?

    1. machinations and palindromes*

      I’d send them an e-mail or an instant message that says “hey, can you ping me when you have time to answer questions about X”. Telling them the topic is crucial; I might have time right now to answer questions about llamas, but alpacas are more time-intensive.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve gotten good results using time estimates. A standard Skype message from me is “Hi $Name, Can you give me 5 minutes for an X-project question before lunch? I’ll email if I don’t hear back from you by then.”
      (Bonus… I’m getting better at my time estimates.)

    3. Rebecca*

      I’ve had to take a firm stance with a few people here. This is the busiest time of my work year, yet people will call and say “I’m going to include you now on a Skype session so you can see my screen, and I need to ask about…” and the next thing I know, a Skype pops up, and for pete’s sake – have some common courtesy! I’ve told people no, I can’t do this right now, I’m in the middle of putting out 3 other fires, please send an email and I’ll get back to you in 30 minutes (or whatever time frame). I really think it’s rude to assume people are just sitting there waiting to be of service…at least ask!

      1. machinations and palindromes*

        I got those too! At least when it’s not an urgent thing, it’s usually someone I know well who thinks I can just take a quick look, and I’ve got a good enough relationship to say “hey, can we come back to this in X time, I’ve got other stuff.” When it’s not someone I know well, and it’s not an urgent matter, I have no compunction of saying “you’re gonna have to put in a ticket for that”.

    4. Remember Neopets?*

      As someone who gets interrupted every five minutes, “Do you have a few minutes to answer a question?” is fine. If I can’t be interrupted, I’ll shut my door or will tell you to come back later. But really, I would just recommend that you do some self-evaluation about whether you actually need to interrupt that person, or if you could just send it in an email. Is it really a quick interruption that doesn’t need an immediate answer? Email. Is it a really long question that will need a complex answer and possibly a demonstration? Email. Will the person need to reference other materials before they can answer your question? Email.

      Also, if you do interrupt them, get to the point of your question right away. There’s one person who will interrupt me and ask if I have time for a question, I’ll say yes, and then we go through a cycle of “If you’re busy I can come back later.” No, it’s fine, what is your question? “It’s not that big of a deal, I can come back.” Well, at this point, I’ve stopped what I’m doing so you might as well ask it. “I’m sorry, I can come back.” JUST ASK THE QUESTION!

      1. Antilles*

        As someone who gets interrupted every five minutes, “Do you have a few minutes to answer a question?” is fine. If I can’t be interrupted, I’ll shut my door or will tell you to come back later.
        This is the standard I’ve commonly seen used as well.
        >If the door is shut, it’s either “do not disturb” or “only if it’s truly important”.
        >If the door is sort of half-open, work-related interruptions are fine, but if they’re super low priority maybe do an email instead. Oh, and don’t come to chit-chat about the ballgame or your weekend or whatever.
        >If the door is open, I’m not going to be at all irritated if you interrupt, though I might still ask you to come back later.

    5. Agnodike*

      “I’d like to chat with you for a minute about x; what’s a good time for you?” Works well because most of the time the answer’s “Right now – go ahead” but it’s just as easy to come back with “Can you stop by around 3?”

    6. whistle*

      I think all your suggestions are fine. In addition to the wording, it’s important to make it clear with tone and body language that you will accept a no answer and then to *actually* accept the no if you get one. This will make it easier for you to make future interruptions that are acceptable to those being interrupted.

    7. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I got interrupted this week — the umpti-umth week of heads down, exhausting work because I’m the only up-to-speed member of my team — by my very-non-up-to-speed colleague who wanted me to unjam her stapler.

      I was not gracious.

      She swapped for an alternative stapler that was 2 feet away from where she was interrupting me. I quietly filed away some ideas about suggesting that she sort out her problem-solving skills before poking bears.

    8. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      I agree with others that a time estimate and a topic help– “Do you have about five minutes this morning to answer a question about PDFs?” is way easier for me to answer than “Hey do you have a second”.
      The other thing–and this is crucial–try not to take any more than the stated time. No “Oh while I’ve got you here I have another question,” no long-winded explanation of how this became a question unless the person asks for it. There are people at my company who could ask me for five minutes in the perfect way and I’ll say no because I know it’ll take half an hour.

  34. Sad Evaluators For Managers Who Seem Not to Care about the Programs*

    I work for a nonprofit. I think the client facing workers care a lot about what they do, but in terms of program management and leadership, we’ve done the bare minimum as required by funders until now. I was brought on to do program evaluation and improve our services. A big part of this has been digitizing, because until now we’ve used paper files. With the database, I’ve been able to built reports that show important program metrics.

    Let’s say one of the program’s purposes is to build widgets (the real goal is more of an outcome than that, but bear with me). So I built an interactive report where a manager can see the number of widgets sold and average sales price per department, per date range. I showed it to the program manager and he asked, “Why would this be useful to me?” (Keep in mind, he didn’t have his own method for tracking widgets. We literally didn’t track it at all. It’s a new grant and somehow the funder hasn’t required that info yet.)

    It’s basically like that, over and over here. I have to explain to people high up on the organizational chart the basics of program management. It’s so demoralizing. I think I’ve finally accepted that I need a new job, which disappoints me because I’m super passionate about the mission here. But after a year of trying to get people on board, I don’t think it’s going to happen.

    1. One More Alison*

      as someone who works in philanthropy- we are always pushing non-profits to do this kind of work. If program management/ continuous quality improvement doesn’t get their attention, does fundraising? if we’re able to show funders exactly how great the program is, it is more appealing for continued and increased funding?

      If they are still uninterested in improving or selling the program, then (depending on the necessity of the program) they will eventually lose contracts and grants to orgs that do consider PM/ CQI and the programs will go under. Take your skills elsewhere — there are tons of organizations that need you.

      1. Program Eval*

        “as someone who works in philanthropy- we are always pushing non-profits to do this kind of work.” Yeah, I think a foundation told the ED that program evaluation was becoming more important, so he created the role without thinking about the actual changes that would need to occur, and the support from leadership that I would need.

        Thankfully I’ve noticed more program evaluation jobs recently. Hopefully I’ll find something with an organization that actually wants to improve. Thanks for your kind comment.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          the support from leadership that I would need.

          Ooooh, yeah, support from the leadership is essential. An alternative if a groundswelling from the lower ranks, but it sounds like you don’t have either. I say this as someone who has done something similar for my non-profit organization over several years. It’s been two steps forward, one and a half steps back the entire time. I do agree that more funders are pushing this and that more non-profits are responding.

    2. Ali G*

      It is unfortunately usually an impossible position to be a change agent. Unless everyone from top to bottom are on board the reality is you are likely to fail. I’m sorry. It sucks!!

      1. Program Eval*

        Thanks. Yeah, I’ve noticed some places, including this one, think that if you make up a new role and bring in a new person, this magic new person will fix everything. That’s not how it works. Especially if this person doesn’t have the authority to hire and fire the people crucial to progress.

    3. Auntie Social*

      But how do they track whether their methodologies work? Whether it’s fundraising or new members or whatever? You don’t want to keep having X kind of fundraisers if they don’t get great results.

    4. OtterB*

      The program managers could be uninterested in your method for tracking widgets because he’s not used to have metrics, as you’re suggesting. Is it also possible that there’s something else or something slightly different that the managers need? Your answer to “Why would this be useful to me?” might be that Big Funder X expects us to track this, so if you’d like to have continued funding, it’s useful. But your answer might also be “What would be more useful to you?” They might be looking from a different angle and see (to stretch a metaphor) that total widget count doesn’t tell them very much but they’d really like to know red vs. blue widgets.

      Apologies if you’ve already beat your head against that wall too many times. It’s really easy for program managers to get buried in Getting Things Done, especially in a nonprofit where time and resources are always scarce. Getting past that requires that (a) a funder demand it or (b) a higher-up or board demand it. Even after that, if you want evaluation results to be used, you have to get some level of buy-in from the operations staff.

  35. Anonymouseymouseymousey*

    Where do people draw the line about personal use of company computers at lunchtime? Is someone with a publishing agent crossing a line to take a call from the agent at lunch and do edits on the fly via email?
    For background, my company has has no objection to personal web-surfing and phone calls at lunch and on breaks. A co-worker who is productive, organized, and accurate is also a published novelist. Problem is, someone was gossiping that she’s doing this on her company computer. I blinked and said “she has her own tablet.” Then I realized they may be talking about her taking calls from an agent at lunchtime — and yes that’s on the PC phone because we have such bad cell service in this building. There also might be a perception problem because we have flex-time — she sometimes takes lunch at odd hours and stays late to compensate.
    So now I’m worried because gossip is like cockroaches — there’s never only one. I’ll be mentioning it to her before I go home tonight, and I’m trying to figure out how to phrase it.

    1. WorkingGirl*

      Eh, I don’t think it’s a big deal if it’s on breaks, but I know some companies have policies saying what company materials (including phones and laptops) can be used for, some companies are very strict that they’re for work purposes only. If that’s not the rule/norm at your workplace, then I think this is fine and people should stop gossiping

    2. Elizabeth West*

      If she’s doing it at lunch, a good manager wouldn’t have a cow over it. The person who gossips is the problem. It might be worth giving her a heads up that someone is psss-psss-ing behind her back.

      1. Anonymouseymouseymousey*

        Although I’m anticipating a “who said that?” followup. Yes I’m *VERY* mousey on this kind of thing aren’t I?

    3. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

      It’s probably too late for this, but if it’s useful you can always go with “any work done on company computers is company property and you probably don’t want us getting a cut of your book when it’s published.”

      There are potentially sticky legal situations if say, something happened to their computer and it had to be scanned forensically if there was a virus or something, so yeah, better to be safe than sorry when money is involved. If it was like a letter to their kids from Santa or something they aren’t making money on, still technically sketchy but a lower risk.

      Hope the convo went as painlessly as possible!

      1. Anonymouseymouseymousey*

        I went with something like Elizabeth suggested–just letting you know that I’ve heard about gossip that you are working on your novels on the company laptop and… but before I could hit the second phrase, she “oh god no, that would give company ownership of my work, I never do that. That would violate all my contracts! At which point it turned into a much more relaxed conversation about bringing her personal tablet in to work on at lunch so people would see it. And apparently that USB stick is a company thing for an esoteric process she supports. Now to find a gossipy type and feed in the CORRECT info!

  36. AlmondMilkLatte*

    Recently started reading here and I love the cat photos for the weekend Threads and the post about animals in home offices! This makes me think: what kind of coworkers are your pets? Mine are loud and clingy whenever I stay home sick or to take continuing ed credits.

    1. CatCat*

      One of them is just the worst. They’re both under a year old, but the littlest one is so very active and wanting to play and have attention. I had to telework 1.5 days this month and I felt like half the time it was her jumping up, walking on my keyboard, and me picking her up and putting her on the floor over and over again. The bigger kitty would do this too, but lay off more quickly. I was so paranoid they were going to send out an email when my Outlook was open. Fortunately, that didn’t happen, but I did discover when I was back in the office that one of them had managed to add an appointment to my calendar. It was an all-day event with the subject “lk,……………………,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,gfftt.” :-D

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The Elder Statesdog (12yo bloodhound) is retired, so she just moves back and forth between the couch and her pillow in my office and the backyard all day to change up her napping scenery.

      The Junior Ambassador (5yo whippet mix) spends most of her time napping in the chair behind me, wedged into my kidneys, but when I’m moving around too much and disturbing her, she huffs and puffs and stomps off to either the office pillow or the couch, whichever is not otherwise occupied.

      Basically, “sleeping” is high on the priority list.

    3. Anchee*

      When I started working regularly from home I was actually surprised at my dogs reaction. She was used to spending her days alone, napping (she’s 10 years old and not “high-energy”). Still though, she’s a dog and loves me so when I would get up from my desk for a snack or break or wander around while on the phone she felt obligated to follow. This, of course, cut into her nap time…so eventually every time I’d move she would look at me, slowly get up and then SIGH LOUDLY AT ME. It was at once hilarious and a little hurtful.

    4. whistle*

      One of the many reasons I don’t want to work from home is because my dog would be a horrible coworker!

      Can I go outside now? Ok, inside now? But now I want to go outside. Now I will whine a bit without giving you any hint what I want. Oh, is it dinner time? I want to go outside again. But really I want you to come outside with me. Can I eat dinner now? Here is a toy – I will whine until you throw it, but then I have no intention of going after it. Let’s go outside!

      I love that little doggie :)

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My cat has been known to flop down on my keyboard and lick her butt.

      I thankfully have yet to have a human coworker do such a thing.

    6. periwinkle*

      We have multiple cats. All but one are sensible AAM-reading coworkers who share space politely.

      Unfortunately, one of my cats is a real Fergus – when I’m typing away, he’ll step on my hands and block the monitor. Whenever I am in a virtual meeting, which is a lot, he takes this as his cue to get in my face and be super clingy as soon as I put on my headset. My current manager and teammates are used to him but I’m moving to a new team in a few weeks…

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Bizarrely, my *fish* were once a distraction. My then-kindergardener had netted a few tiny fish at the lake, and we’d just lost a betta to old age. So we put these three tinies into his 5g tank. One day I was staring into the tank thinking and realized there 2.5 fish left. Scooped out 1/2 fish, fed the other two, and called my husband to prepare him for was coming when he brought her home from after-care. Yes we had a burial.
      (Yes we had to repeat it a few weeks later, and yes, BigFish eventually jumped out of the tank and had to go back to the lake.)

    8. Warm Weighty Wrists*

      My Canine Coworker has a terrible habit of hovering by my desk for our daily “off-site meeting” starting about half an hour before it starts. He also tries to make the meetings last as long as possible, keeping me from other work. Honestly, I’d put him on a PIP except he regularly exceeds expectations in his core competencies–snuggling and cuteness.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      My coworkers are the worst!

      They spend the entire workday either sleeping at their desks or staring into space – never get *any* work done.

      One is kind of a bully too – she’ll come over to my desk and knock my pens on the floor while staring at me the whole time! Like, “I dare you to do something about this!” The other will do horrible smelling things in their private bathroom and not even have the decency to use Poo-Pouri afterwards.

      Oh, and they are cats…

    10. Clever Name*

      My male cat is *that guy* who comes to your desk to chit-chat and doesn’t respond to subtle (or not so subtle) nonverbal cues that you are working and don’t want to talk to him.

      My female cat is the remote coworker you never see.

      My dog is the micromanager who wants to look over your shoulder and be involved in what you are working on at all times. She is also particular about her territory (me) and will tell people she sees as a threat (anyone walking fast or wearing clompy shoes) to go away. [My dog actually goes to work with me, my cats, thankfully, do not]

    11. Ann Onny Muss*

      My girl cats are all very good and non-intrusive if I’m working from home. My boy cat, OTOH, is jealous of my laptop and will plant himself between me and said laptop. I move him. He does it again. Lather, rinse, repeat. He also tends to drool when content, and there have been times I’ve inadvertently put my fingers in a puddle of kitty drool on the laptop’s track pad.

    12. Zephy*

      My partner’s the one that gets to deal with the home-office shenanigans. The rest of the team there alternates between napping and full-contact, no-holds-barred wrestling matches in the middle of the floor! The younger one also likes to climb into Partner’s lap and fall asleep.

  37. R*

    Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been dealing with a lot of really aggressive networking requests on LinkedIn. Should I just ghost or is there a good way to assertively turn these people down?

    For some backstory, my company’s been getting a lot of press lately, and I’m getting a lot of cold messages on LinkedIn or even my company email from people who want to work here. I’m also kind of a public face for my department. So I’m getting stuff from jobseekers nearly daily.

    Some are polite (“I’m trying to break into the industry and I’d like to get some advice from you over a coffee”) but a lot aren’t (“I sent in my resume a few weeks ago and I haven’t heard anything back, can you please follow up with HR?” from someone who’s unfortunately not at all qualified).

    I’ve tried deflecting with “Sorry, I don’t have any time. November and December are the busiest time of the year for our company, plus my own holiday preparation demands a lot of time.” This works surprisingly rarely. I usually get a couple of follow-ups, often with no sense of time (“I’m sorry to hear that, but I can do today or tomorrow still!” — I have my own life and I can’t drop everything to get a coffee with an internet stranger). I got one really ridiculous reply to that this week: “I’m sorry to hear of your personal troubles and I hope you can find personal peace and productivity. It tomorrow doesn’t work, I can do Monday or Tuesday next week.”

    I feel bad for these people and hope they find a good job, but at the same time they’re perfect strangers acting entitled to my time. I want to say something back but run the risk of someone else saying “oh that guy R is a real a-hole,” but I feel the best option is to just ghost and/or remove people repeatedly bugging me to get them an interview or have an informational interview with me on LinkedIn. What do you think?

    1. machinations and palindromes*

      Ignore them. They’re unsolicited e-mails coming to a personal account.

      Also, I haven’t checked LinkedIn settings recently, so for all I know this isn’t possible, but see if you can restrict who can contact you to just 1st connections.

      1. R*

        Yeah, guess you’re right. I’m still working on tamping down my “nice guy” tendencies, because the internet makes people who’ll take a mile when you give an inch, even worse.

        BTW, linkedin settings are kind of nuts. Did you know you cannot hide your phone number? Either I have to a) accept that some “plucky” (annoying) agency recruiter may blow up my phone at any time, b) purge all agency recruiters from my 1st connection contacts (won’t help because if I’m already in their database, I know from experience they will never go away) or c) get rid of 2 factor authentication.

        1. machinations and palindromes*

          holy shit, your phone number has to be public? Good lord. I’m glad I never gave them mine. I guess if they force it, I can give them my google voice number. That doesn’t ring any phones, it just sends an e-mail.

          1. R*

            To clarify: you can’t hide it from first degree connections. And if you try to remove it while you have 2FA on your account, you get a nondescript error message that completely hides that (something like “an error occurred, please try again later”).

            It’s honestly a really bad tool for privacy.

        2. Goldfinch*

          I switched my phone number to Google voice and just let people call into the ether. Even after doing that, a recruiter managed to somehow track down my unlisted land line and leave me an incoherent 2-minute-long voicemail on it.

          1. R*

            I’m aware of that option but it’s a massive pain in the neck. Why is there not a “hide my phone number” checkbox somewhere?

    2. Reba*

      If you are getting way too many to handle, yeah, just ignore. Or decide to check just once in a while to scan for people you actually want to engage with.

      If you feel like you should respond somehow (for your/your company’s reputation? idk) I’d come up with a form answer along the lines of “I have nothing to do with hiring and will not respond to queries about jobs” that you can just copypasta.

      What you are seeing is that if you give people a reason (no time) they will argue with your reason (have time next week)! It feels like softening to give a why, but don’t. Just say I don’t do this.

      1. R*

        Sounds like letting them fall on deaf ears is the move. I’m a very type-A person and I almost compulsively respond to everything so I can stay at inbox zero… guess this just means I need to let go.

        I’m neither a recruiter, nor in HR, or in any other sort of public facing role. So I’m not expected to reply. I just happen to volunteer a lot at industry conferences, etc.

        The hustle sharebait stuff on social media — “I sent out 1,500 emails and got 0 replies, but I kept at it! Never take no for an answer or you’re limiting your potential!” — has really poisoned people’s minds. Now “I have zero free time for coffee networking or informational interviews for at least three months” isn’t taken as a polite let down but a reason to push more. That “I’m sorry you’re too busy, hope you can be more productive, btw how about tomorrow?” will get a reply here, because if I see his name in our candidate list I will absolutely veto him. What a weirdo.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      If this helps ease your conscience: You’re not ghosting them. Ghosting would be engaging, then disappearing.

      What you’re doing is ignoring the LinkedIn message equivalent of a spam call/email.

  38. Rebecca*

    Today’s post about being invited to a party but really not being invited – and at my company, it’s the opposite problem. Very few of us want to go to our holiday party, but in our case, attendance is mandatory! We have to ride a bus for 8-10 hours total round trip depending on traffic to attend an extremely crowded 3 hour event, in the winter. People are actually hoping for a nor’easter snowstorm so we don’t have to go. I really hope we don’t get stuck on the interstate behind an accident, which is common here, it can be shut down for many hours at a time. One truck jackknife and you can sit there for several hours. What should be a perk for us is turning into a huge time suck and a not so pleasant experience. I’d much rather go to a local restaurant and call it a day.

    1. Quill*

      Mandatory parties… unless you’re getting paid to go to the party, fake sick!

      “Oh, I’m so sorry Felicia, after lunch I started to feel nauseous, I won’t make it to the party…”

    2. ThatGirl*

      I don’t understand companies that do this – why would you spend so much time and money and effort transporting people 4-5 hours away? Every company holiday gathering I’ve ever been to has been close to the office; I could maybe see if you were near a big city and it was 30-60 minutes away. But this sounds pretty miserable.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Wow. I’m sorry.
      I hope it’s a paid day at least. If it’s off-the-clock, I wouldn’t go – flu/injury/transportation-to-bus fail – something. Some people do have nonobvious medical issues that would make an 8-10 hour bus ride impossible.
      Side question: How do people not get sick after sharing the same close air for that long? I’d think everyone would get the local flu bug after the party.

    4. Bagpuss*

      8-1 HOURS!?
      That’s crazy. Why? Are you being expected to go to a different branch office?
      I think I would definitely have some sort of emergency which made it impossible to go (not least because I get motion sickness in buses, and I have chronic pain which would be made worse by such a long trip – 8 hours would be a nightmare)

      1. Rebecca*

        It’s actually to the home office, we’re a satellite office, and due to heavy traffic and the location of said office, 4 hours 1 way is going to be a blessing. Then we attend the event, then back to our locations’ parking lot. The last time I had to make this trip I was nauseous the entire time, as I too get car sick. I’m lucky I didn’t throw up. I appreciate the gesture, I think they mean to make us feel included, and there are good intentions all around, but I am really dreading the whole trip.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Oh, well that changes my answer. I’d send a big batch of holiday cookies with a note about how much you appreciate everyone at that office and so sorry you can’t be there. Maybe a fold over card with a list of ingredients and happy holidays from Rebecca so maybe someone will put it out with the plate of cookies. Then people can remember your name warmly because you’ll be the one who sent cookies instead of the one who didn’t show. Always an optimist over here.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      I feel a terrible sciatica flare-up coming on. Can’t ride the bus, sorry. Also maybe your mother is extra sick that day.

  39. What’s with Today, today*

    This has been the best professional year of my career. I was promoted to management in January, unheard of in the family business I work for. I received a huge amount of paid for professional development and this week a company I freelance for tripled there order for the next year. It’s work I find fun and easy and will up my income by about a third. I’m thrilled.

  40. relatively recent hire*

    About nine months ago, I started a new job that I was super excited for, at a place I’d always wanted to work, for higher pay and though my title was the same it meant something a little higher. I posted a lot after that time because, as it turned out, the new job was a hot mess, the boss turned out to be one of the most difficult to work with people I’ve ever encountered, and for six months I felt confused and wrong-footed while I tried to figure out what I’d gotten myself into. It was a trash fire. So I left without another offer. I spent a month job searching and taking care of myself, after just over a month got a job offer at a place where one of my friends works. It was posted as a lower-level position than my previous work but I was trying to keep an open mind (and I really, really wanted to go somewhere where I knew someone who could give me the inside scoop on the good and bad), and when they made the offer they upped the title and salary accordingly- less than the nightmare job, but more than I’d been making before.
    I’ve been at the new job for a month now, and wow, I feel so… relaxed? I’m enjoying meeting my coworkers and working with them, and aside from normal complaints I don’t feel like anyone is actively toxic. It’s like night and day from the last job, where even when I was super excited to start I told myself to hold off judgement (and then I just…kept on holding off judgement until my judgement was “it’s bad”). I just wanted to share to say, I know it doesn’t always work out, but I did leave my job with nothing lined up (a lot of thought went into this, I am a very cautious person), and I am so glad I did. I’m glad I had the space to take a breath from my toxic job so I didn’t feel like I had to take the first thing that came my way. When I was first considering the new job I felt really conflicted about applying for a “lower level” position at a “less prestigious” place, but I knew what I’d need to pay my bills and I knew that I needed to go somewhere that wouldn’t drive me slowly into the ground, and it turned out better than I would have guessed! Granted- I’m not super worried about my career trajectory bc I’m just in this industry to feel somewhat good about making OK money. Thanks to everyone who answered my questions during my trashfire job situation!!

    1. AnonForThis*

      So… about a month ago I quit my job without anything lined up because the environment was so hostile to women that I started having panic attacks all the time and couldn’t sleep and all of that and I was too messed up to job search without quitting. A bit before I turned in my notice, another woman was hired and started getting trained. A coworker, one of the better ones who said he was aware of his biases and trying to overcome them (and who I’m still sort of friendly with) became her main trainer. He asked me for a second opinion sometimes because he was worried he was judging her too harshly or so on. I sort of gently pushed back because I did think he was being too quick to jump to conclusions/coming across as mansplaining a bit. For example, he asked her if she was familiar with a certain kind of teapot handle. She said yes. But he thought she didn’t say it confidently enough, or she just didn’t “seem” to understand it, so then he explained it to her anyways. Then she asked a question that showed that she didn’t quite get how we made the handles differently from how other companies made the handles (from the questions she was asking) but he took this to mean she still must not understand the concept at all and he told me he didn’t get why she was “lying” about understanding more than she actually did. I thought this was a big, scary jump to assume that she would be lying about her knowledge (especially since before this job she had been a very successful milk pitcher maker, which uses the same concepts, just in different ways). So I said I didn’t think she was lying, just that she might think she understands but doesn’t (particularly because she might not know that we have slightly different understandings of the same mechanisms because we work on teapots – different definitions for the same words). Then, when I did finally observe them working together, I could see that she felt he was being condescending. But the way she was reacting to it was not time-efficient and was maybe a bit unprofessional. If he said something condescending to her, she would find something she could explain to him about milk pitchers, and then spend 15 minutes lecturing him in turn about milk pitchers (to give him a taste of his own medicine? to show that she was knowledgeable too?). But obviously to him this was just coming across as somewhat belligerent/arrogant and making it take sooo much longer to train her.

      But again I could see that she was also probably acting this way because she already felt really insecure because of the environment there, that she was already being affected by the same harassment/bullying from others in the workplace that I had experienced, and that she seemed to have some anxiety issues making the harassment/bullying even worse for her.

      Now, before I left I did report several incidents of harassment. But there were also people I couldn’t report because I need them for references/felt it wasn’t worth it when I didn’t have witnesses I could count on for those incidents. Still, I hoped this would be enough for an investigation to be done and maybe some of the worst offenders removed and some re-training to happen for everyone.

      HR met with me right when I turned in my two-weeks notice, so I was there for another two weeks after reporting this harassment. And that’s when this coworker who was training the new hire started to make weirdly gendered comments about like, women’s eating habits or whatever that I could also see made the new hire feel unwelcome, that he had never made before to me. But I didn’t go back to HR because I was just trying to make it through the last two weeks and move on and I was already in such a bad head space that when I had had to go over incidents again in detail for HR it brought everything up and then I went home and cried for hours, etc.

      But recently I heard from someone else at that job that my former boss is now thinking of firing this new hire based on her being defensive and taking too long to train and maybe other judgement from my coworker who is definitely a bit biased. Now I’m wondering, should I say more? Was I too gentle with my coworker who was training her before? Should I say to my coworker who was training her, since he did ask me to tell him if I thought he was not being fair, “To be clear, you are condescending to her sometimes, you’ve made gendered comments that I could see had an effect on her, and she is not responding to this in a professional way but that is what’s making her act this way?” Or should I say to her directly (I also have her contact info), “By the way, this office is horribly sexist, but if you want to stay, you will have to play their game a bit to succeed and either just ignore it or go to HR?” Or do I leave it alone and hope I reported enough and try to move on… because I know it’s really unhealthy for me to be dwelling on this?

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I’m relieved to hear that the new job is so much better! Glad to hear you landed somewhere sane. :-)

  41. Long term plans*

    Something that I have been thinking about this week. . .

    What career changes would you consider not worthwhile to pursue later in your career? I am thinking mid-career, perhaps the 35-45 age range.

    Some career pundits would say nothing falls into that. Even if you are 40 and becoming a doctor would take 10 years, you could practice for 20 years, retire at 70, and you had 20 years to pursue your “passion”.

    But, some things may sound nice in discussion but would practically be very challenging to get hired into at an older age. What are these things?

    Some days I can’t imagine being in my field 20-30 more years, 1.) because technology will make a lot of my hard skill experience irrelevant, and 2.) I will be tired of it. But most days, I don’t have energy to do much more than plug along with what I am doing.

    1. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Honestly, I think your example is something 100% not to do. Medicine is awful. It’s horribly time consuming, requires insane hours that put a lot of stress on the body, and entails like $300,000 in loans in the U.S. – and then earning pennies as a resident without being able to make a dent in the principal. Getting into med school will likely require a move, and then maybe again for residency because the match isn’t like applying to normal jobs. Any residencies tend to be biased against old applicants because they’re perceived as physically less able to handle the demands, whether correctly or incorrectly, so getting a good position can be a struggle. For anyone over around 35, it’s more than likely super not worth it, and even then, it’s questionable.

      I’d say any switch with a relatively short time commitment (1-3 year masters, for example) and any kind of cross-over whatsoever with a current field can be worth considering.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        I know someone who became a Physician’s Assistant, and her program was much less arduous than the medical school/residency gauntlet. So that might be an option for someone who later in life wanted to get into medicine.

        1. Long term plans*

          I also think it’s not a completely unusual thing to do later in life (this or nurse practitioner for the RNs), so you don’t stand out in a negative way when trying to get hired.

      2. Long term plans*

        Yeah, I agree the MD isn’t likely worth it. I had seriously considered it half-a-career ago and did all the post bacc I needed expect Org. Chem, then just decided, nope, for a plethora of reasons. This isn’t intended to be all about me, but I think for it to be truly “worth it” for that time and expense, you would have to have extremely unique personal circumstances.

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Ouch, people! I started Med school at 42. You do have to think about the challenges, but it’s not insane. I think to make a big change in mid career you have to find something you can’t stand not doing, much more than just being uncertain about what you’re doing now.

      3. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        Where is this coming from? Medicine is highly respected, high paid, and many, many doctors have easy hours. 8am-4pm M-F. Don’t want loans? Simple. Agree to work in a rural, underserved area and your loans are paid for. (Or the military).

    2. akaDaisy*

      I went back to school last year at 40 to complete my degree, and opted to change my focus to financial planning. It’s a growing career field and something I feel is important, not to mention something I can do either as a job or as an entrepreneur. The coursework is also easily translated to skills needed for other industries and positions (ie accounting, data analysis, coaching and counseling).

      1. Long term plans*

        Ooo, that is a good one. I actually know a few people who went into it a little later, too. Age is probably a plus because no one over 22 really wants retirement advice from a 22 year old.

    3. All monkeys are French*

      A couple of years ago I explored a huge career shift into something science-based. I have a liberal arts degree with no significant science background, so I took a couple of classes at the local university to bone up. A couple of the classes and teachers were good, but one was totally mind-numbing and I realized I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about the new direction to slog through all the introductory stuff.
      I want to stretch myself and improve my skills, but not that much, I guess.

      1. Long term plans*

        At least you know.

        That was similar to how it went for me when I did the post-bacc premed courses. Turns out, I don’t really like biology or chemistry much. I still like to read medical-type stuff at a hobby level, but I didn’t like memorizing all the basic stuff that one must know and I didn’t like the labs at all. It was a different perspective than when I took the non-major courses in undergrad. When you realize you don’t have to do something, you can think a lot more about if you like it and want to do it.

    4. Grapey*

      “because technology will make a lot of my hard skill experience irrelevant”

      Changing systems often requires a lot of people from “the old guard” be around to help troubleshoot changes and give requirements. I’d look into how new technology would do your job and learn it so you can make it better.

    5. Clever Name*

      Hm, well, I say do what you want. I remember my first boss. He had a long career with the Air Force. Retired as a colonel, I’d say in his mid-50s. After he retired, he decided to get his Ph.D, and he did. He launched a new career based on that that lasted at least 15 years. And I say why not?

    6. dust rabbit*

      I know someone who went to law school in their late 50’s. They would say it was worth it because they enjoy being a lawyer, even if they don’t make a huge amount of money. Being a lawyer added to their quality of life. It’s not all about money.

  42. Shelly*

    I finally bit the bullet this week and talked to two employees who kept talking about medical stuff in way too much detail. They both responded fine and I’m hoping it’s resolved so I don’t have to correct them again. They’re both new to our office in the last two months, but their experience was in similar settings, so I’m a little surprised that we had to talk about it at all.

  43. Weblady*

    Holiday Party Ideas Needed! I’m planning the holiday lunch for our group of 150- any fun game or craft ideas that were fun at a party you attended? It’s daytime in a private room, no alcohol. Oh, and can’t be too Christmas themed for inclusion purposes. Any help is appreciated, thanks!!

    1. machinations and palindromes*

      I always hate all team building events, but there is one fun part of it for me: building random stuff out of straws, cups, paper, etc. Building a bridge that has to hold a water bottle, or the highest tower, or whatever, those are great. :D

      If you have budget for things that aren’t office supplies, getting a ton of legos for a building competition would be my dream at boring team building events.

    2. bananaboat*

      some good old fashioned party games. Maybe a board game corner.
      Craft wise I saw a cute thing on PsImadethis for a DIY hot choclate bar and then you can make like marshamallow snowmen. Edible crafts are the best crafts!

      1. Jamie*

        Co-sign this. I am not big on this kind of thing but I’ll play Scrabble with anyone, anywhere…and marshmallows are made of happiness.

      2. Dusty Bunny*

        Yes! Edible crafts! Decorate sugar cookies, skewer marshmallows on a candy cane or lollipop stick then dip in melted chocolate/sprinkles for hot cocoa stirrers. And a hot chocolate bar so I can make and drink my own concoction? Winner!

      3. DrTheLiz*

        If you do board games, NOT MONOPOLY!! It’s objectively a badly built board game and it makes people angry. I’d also advise against Risk, for similar reasons.

    3. BlueWolf*

      My family once did Minute To Win It games for a family gathering. I’m sure you can look them up online. Most of them use normal household products and such and you can do teams.

      1. whistle*

        Yes, I have been to Minute to Win It parties and they have always been fun! I like it because it can be fun to be a spectator, so you don’t have to participate if you don’t want to. My husband successfully did “Don’t blow the joker” and we still talk about it 10 years later.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Make. The activities. OPTIONAL. For the love of everything good and holy in this world, make the activities optional! Set up board games in one corner and a cute DIY ornament/decor thing in another corner! Invite people to bring a handicraft from home. Recruit your resident tabletop game/D&D nerds to come lead a mini-campaign and bring some fun props/costumes! If there are structured or team-type events (karaoke, Pictionary, scavenger hunts), let people SIGN UP for things that sound fun to them.

      The thing I like to do at gatherings like this is CHAT, preferably with a hot drink in my hands (love the idea of a hot cocoa bar!). I hate being interrupted for the Compulsory Fun portion of the party.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        Not to mention the party itself. Optional. Please please please!

        And yes, please don’t have something that focuses on Christianity (or even “Judeo-Christianity”).

        1. machinations and palindromes*

          If I could remove one phrase from the world and have everyone forget it ever existed, it would be Judeo-Christianity.

    5. Granger Chase*

      I agree with the idea of a hot drink bar!

      If you have members of your group that would enjoy volunteering, braided fleece dog toys or fleece tie blankets are relatively easy to make and make a great donation to a local animal shelter (which is one of the most secular charities I can think of).

      I have also made snowmen out of small plant pots. You flip it upside down and can paint it white, then put little decorations on it. They can look more cutesy or grownup depending on how people design them. But I think snowmen are more winter themed than Christmas, although others may feel differently. I always think of Calvin & Hobbes first when I think of snowmen…

      1. Mellow*

        I love the idea of making something that can be donated to an animal shelter! Taking that idea to my party planning team at work tomorrow.

  44. Quill*

    So, good news of the week:

    – Spoke to my boss abut my 6 month review, she says I’m doing good and that she’ll be on the lookout for longer term positions for me (I was frank about wanting stability – i.e. health insurance! – being the main driving force for my career decisions right now.)
    – I am slowly beating my project filled with macros into shape.

      1. Quill*

        The company I work for is in pharma and… if I can get on their insurance I can probably get my new orthodics before the current ones I have (optimal replacement time is about 2-3 years, they’ll definitely be worn out by some point in year 4…) crap out.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          Whyyyyy is it so rare to have good orthotics coverage? I’ve never had an insurer with particularly good coverage for that, and none of my work-offered plans are at all helpful in my current job. I promise it will save the insurance company money if it doesn’t hurt for me to walk, because it’ll make me walk more and that will keep me in better health than if my feet hurt and I’m constantly looking to sit down. Seems so shortsighted that they won’t pay for them.

          1. Quill*

            Same reason they’ve yanked me around on what a “month’s” supply of birth control pills, I suspect (only one month has 28 days, people!) : because they can

  45. Webinar fail*

    I hate webinars. I find it impossible to listen and learn to these things. It makes no difference the topic, speaker, expertise. I just hate them. As part of my job I am expected to watch them on my own. If there is a test, I learn for the test but that’s it.
    Strategies? Suck it up?
    Irony. I have to present one that is going out nationally in a few weeks.

    1. bananaboat*

      I’m not good on those either. I find note taking the best way to concentrate but also that way you can have a quick doodle if you need. Write down any questions you may have etc

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, note taking is the only thing that works for me. It forces me to pay attention. Otherwise, especially if it’s droningly boring, I space out and miss stuff.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      What do you mean that you are expected to watch them on your own? Do they cover new processes, systems, tools, or other things that you need to learn for your job? Or is it more of a you are expected to go out and learn new things more broadly, but the specific topic doesn’t matter?

      If it’s the first one, can you watch it together with some of your colleagues and have a brief discussion after to make sure you understand what you were supposed to get out of it? If it’s the second, how expected is actually expected? Anyway you can find another way to show you are participating in professional development?

      Other general ideas:
      – Pretend like you’re having a conversation with the presenter. “You did it that way, but that might not work for our organization because of X and Y reasons, but maybe we could modify it instead” or “I have questions about this particular aspect of the program”
      – Take notes or draw pictures
      – Leave the webinar if you aren’t getting anything out of it

    3. Webinar fail*

      Most of the time they are something I am interested or suggested by my supervisor. None are essential to my position but it seems like knowledge I should have. Project management, designing accessible on-line courses, It might be me. I hate video lectures and on-line courses. I would much rather read twenty books than spend an hour in front of screen listening/watching a power point.

      Any suggestions for “best practices” for my own hour long one?

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        As someone who’s had to listen to a number of these over the years, I’m going to suggest you consider the following ways to keep your audience engaged. You certainly don’t have to use all of these in every webinar, I’m just trying to give you some ideas for how to keep your listeners from falling asleep during your presentation.
        During the webinar, you could:
        1. Conduct periodic polling surveys (or voting). For example, you could use survey at the beginning of the webinar to determine the experience level of prior topic knowledge your audience has. Or you could poll to find out where your audience stands on a particularly controversial topic sub-area (if applicable).
        2. Enable a real-time typewritten chat capability during the webinar. Ideally, you would have a colleague with you who could monitor the intake and screen some of the questions for you to address verbally during the webinar.
        3. Be sure to copy/paste URL links to any important online material (e.g., other commercial videos, free instructional materials) mentioned during the webinar. Most chat capabilities have some kind of Notes field to convey this to the audience. I will often copy and paste the posted link into another tab in my browser during the webinar, then go back afterward to read it more closely.

    4. No Name Yet*

      I do best when I knit during them – keeps enough of my brain from wandering off (or checking email, writing notes) that I pay better attention.

      In terms of doing your own, when I was part of one, I worked hard to keep my voice bright and engaging, hopefully less likely for people to tune me out. Also, we mixed up the presentation – had different people talk, switched between lecturing, quizzes, and example videos.

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

      I agree. For me, it’s because a lot of webinar presenters are experts on their subject but not great public speakers (repeated “um” “well” “ok”, minor vocal tics or throat clearing, too many pauses, no pauses, going off on tangents), which is difficult to follow when I’m not participating in a conversation. I end up frustrated that they are taking too long to give me the bullet points that I actually need and wish it was reading material rather than webinar.

  46. Jamie*

    Today is a good day.

    I moved into my own office this week, I once again have three monitors as God intended, my white board is up, and I’m working on a few multi-part IT projects.

    I’m not the IT here but my role is shifting due to my background to do some of the big stuff inhouse rather than outsource it.

    Idk if it will last, but this week I feel like I’m home for the first time in a long time.

    1. bananaboat*

      Thats fantastic congrats! I loved having an office althoguh when I was IT I only had a laptop ! Lucky you on the three screens!

    2. blood orange*

      Just curious, what do you use your third monitor for? I’ve gotten used to dual monitors but I’m not sure what I’d do with a third one.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I have 2 large ones and use my laptop as the third. I do ERP consulting, so one big monitor is usually logged into a test instance, and the other one usually has a file open with a project document of some sort, like test scripts or a design doc. Then the third one is for email and instant messaging.

      2. Jamie*

        Right now I’m testing two versions of an ERP on two different servers, so each remote session has it’s own and the third for email, the testing documentation/checklist, and (shhhhh) AAM.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I have my laptop open for one monitor, a vertical monitor with my calendar on it agenda-style (also useful for reference material) and then a regular horizontal monitor as well. It looks odd, but it works well for me to be able to see my day at a glance like that all the time.

    3. Quill*

      I was going to set up my 3rd monitor, but it’s at an inconvenient angle to my laptop station and I’m using it as my postit board anyway…

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I started a new job in February of this year which is all remote, with just a little bit of travel. Working from home is every bit as glorious as I ever dreamed it would be. I have 2 big monitors, and also keep my laptop open to have a third. It is hard when I travel though, and only have my laptop. No one has invented a monitor that you can fold up and put into your carry-on bag yet. Have they?

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Portable external monitors are a thing! They aren’t even that expensive. I’ve been debating buying one myself.

  47. bananaboat*

    So I got headhunted for an awesome role. Noice! I had a meeting about it Double noice! and then they tiold me they weren’t sure I had enough experience so they wanted me to volunteer for the role UNPAID and then I could talk about salary at some point. Needless to say I noped away from that very quickly
    but seriously why!

    1. irene adler*

      Amazing the gall some folks have thinking that, sure!, you’d be glad to give up making your livelihood just to volunteer for them.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      Is this a professional company? That is bizarre, but at least they let you know they were crazy up front.

    3. Clever Name*

      Excuse me? By headhunted, I assume that means that you currently have a (paid) job and they want you to leave that for an unpaid maybe you’ll get paid later gig. I hope you told them they are out of their minds.

  48. pecan pie*

    A coworker and I were given a new responsibility. Think like, we’re both in charge of pie-making. However, it was made clear that I was to be in charge of making the filling and she was in charge of making the crust and baking it. We were trained at the same time for both tasks so that we could take over for the other if they were out of the office. It’s been 4 months and she is constantly asking me questions that we went over in training. I repeat the same information and have told her to write it down but she is making mistakes and we both take the fall for it.

    I don’t hate her and I don’t want to cause her any grief, but I’m super tired of this situation. Any advice?

    1. E*

      One option would be to write up the process notes and provide them to her, then tell her to reference the notes when she asks you for help. Other option is to bring this up with your supervisor, that you are having to stop what you’re doing to instruct coworker (and that she’s still making mistakes, which should be on her not you unless you’re both supposed to check each other’s work).

    2. Parenthetically*

      “she is making mistakes and we both take the fall for it”

      I mean, this shouldn’t be happening if you’re clearly responsible for separate elements. If she’s screwing up the crust and your filling is perfect, you shouldn’t get dinged. You can absolutely talk to her and say, “It’s vital that you get these processes down, since mistakes reflect on both of us; I’m willing to do X and Y to help you, but just continuing as we are isn’t going to work.”

      You also, IMO, after you have that conversation, NEED to go to the people above you and say, “Hey, I just need to know what to do here. If you’ll look at the bakery reports, in the last 12 dozen pies the filling has been at or above standard 97% of the time, but there have been major structural failures in the crust on 40% of the pies. It was made clear to me when Brenda and I were given this assignment that I’m on fillings and Brenda is on crusts, but since technically it’s BOTH our job to make pies, when there’s a failing in any part of the pie, it reflects poorly on BOTH of us even when my component of the job didn’t fail. Given that the crusts are clearly the issue, how do you want me to approach this? Is there another way to divide the duties, or another way to assess our work? I don’t want the whole process to reflect poorly on my performance when my portion of the task was done to standard.”

    3. Autumnheart*

      I’d go to your manager and let them know that Coworker is still asking you questions that were covered in training and is continually messing up despite your repeated instructions.

      In the meantime, redo the work so that it’s correct before it’s sent out. And document each time you have to do it. It should be clear to your manager that you’re having to redo Coworker’s work and that she isn’t performing up to par, but as unfair as it is, if you’re being held responsible for the outcome, you should take it on yourself to CYA.

      1. Tabby Baltimore*

        I’d like to heartily second the suggestion on documentation. Documenting not only *that* you’re re-doing her work, but also documenting how many minutes/hours it’s taking you to re-do the work each time will be essential to helping your manager understand the extent of the problem. You might even multiply that number by your hourly wage, to make it even clearer what these corrections are actually costing the company. With any luck, your supervisor will see the concrete figures and concludes that s/he needs to start managing your colleague more closely. Please write again and let us know what you decided to do. Best of luck.

  49. Triumphant Fox*

    I’m a pretty new manager and I’m struggling to manage my team effectively. It’s been an awkward transition from me being a very high performing producer to doing that and managing my team that was very loosely managed (as in barely managed) while I was a member. Now I finally have hired a few people to take over some of my key duties so I can actually manage work instead of doing everything myself, but now I’m not sure how to start really managing the team now that I have more bandwidth. I don’t know how to say “Ok, so I’ve let things slide for a while, but now that we have the resources, I’m able to actually pay attention to what you’re doing, and not just care if all of my essential boxes are checked.”

    It’s not that my team hasn’t been doing work – everything has gotten done and the volume of work we’ve been doing is way past what this department used to do, but I know that a couple team members don’t have enough work and generally work slowly/listlessly. I also know we could be doing more if things were better streamlined.

    Any advice helps.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t know that it’s requisite that you say it–you can just do it–but you can also say in your 1-1s that now the team has expanded expectations will be higher for everybody’s performance, so you’ll do some focusing on that.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        That’s a good idea. The latest new member has now settled in and is performing well, so that could be a good way to do it. Thanks for the thoughts!

    2. The Rain In Spain*

      Why not have either individual or a team meeting to see what everyone things are working well/sore points/etc and then incorporate that feedback into some changes moving forward? That way your team will feel like you’re also listening to them and you can roll out some changes that address their concerns while also streamlining things moving forward.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        So true! We don’t have a habit of frequent 1-1 meetings, which is really the first thing I need to change. I’ve relied to much on our weekly teem meetings to cover everything, which ends up just being a checklist for the week.

        That’s a good start.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      What do you mean by “managing effectively”? You don’t have to make changes for the sake of making changes.

      Consider, if you haven’t already, taking some time to…
      1) Ask your direct reports about their professional goals and how they would like to grow.
      2) Rebalance work and/or find new work for your underutilized employees; this could tie into 1, if a high performer wants to grow into a llama bathing specialty, then could you take some of the llama nail trimming off of their plate and give it to the underutilized team member?
      3) Agree with the previous commenters, make it clear that standards are being raised *and* be clear what that looks like. Set specific goals for each team member and the overall team, with a plan of action on what they will need to do and what you will provide.

      1. Triumphant Fox*

        These are super helpful; those three points are along the lines of what I’m thinking I need to do.

    4. IT Manager*

      At one point, my team was so overworked that a lot of stuff started to slide. When that period ended and we started to recover, the stuff didn’t get picked back up even when I asked individuals so I set up a staff meeting, walked through what my expectations were and said “I’m doing this as a group so everyone is on the same page. As we adjust, I’ll follow up in 1 on 1s if I see anything I think needs attention”. That was effective in resetting the situation for the group and encouraging them to hold each other accountable (we are in IT so it was stuff like clear documentation, cross-training, and double QA) and then I could also address it in the context of “we talked about how this no longer flies”.

  50. New Freelancer*

    I’ve just transitioned to freelancing and find it a little alarming how much time I can spend getting nothing done. Time management has always been my Achilles heel. Any good books or other good suggestions?

    I have a number of unavoidable appointments that take up some chunks of the day and then the work generally requires chunks of time at least an hour long (ideally longer blocks). I find that if I miss getting started as soon as I’d planned, I feel a sense of fatality like “there’s no point in starting it now, there isn’t enough time.”

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Have you looked in to the Pomodoro method?

      Also, for the “there’s no point starting now” mindset, have you tried responding with, “I’ll just work on it for 15 minutes, then.”

    2. Autumnheart*

      This is one of my management tools for ADHD, but I recommend breaking down tasks into small chunks. For example, instead of “Do Project XYZ”, break it down to “Assemble outline for Project XYZ” “Create index of required materials” “Create KANBAN board”, and so forth. If it feels too overwhelming to Do Project XYZ, then you can at least start with the outline and the index and make incremental progress.

      I like this method because it makes me feel more productive, and helps me keep track of where I am in a given project.

  51. Makes Homer something something*

    In my department there is a habit of joking about suicide and it drives me batty, and makes me feel bad for anyone for whom that might be a trigger if they have to hear it. Things like, (at the beginning of a meeting, the dept. head saying) “I know we’re all ready to slit our wrists, but how is everyone’s workload?” and (a co-worker, after dealing with a stressful situation) “sometimes I think I should just shoot myself in the head,” and variations of that.

    I’m not sure if I’m looking for advice because I already feel somewhat of an outcast in this department and this is not the hill I want to die on, but it seems like it should be obvious not to say things like this in a professional context.
    Maybe I’m just oversensitive but man it irks me. Thanks, fellow readers, for letting me get it off my chest. Love this column so much!

      1. Commuter*

        This is absolutely not normal. I could imagine someone saying it but at work? Especially when these are real situations people could be experiencing or have experienced.

    1. Rainy_Day*

      You’re not being oversensitive! I find it really offensive and disrespectful that they’re saying those things. It could be hurtful to anyone who’s been suicidal or who has loved ones who are suicidal. Even if no one like that is in the office, it’s a serious thing they shouldn’t be joking about, and “slit our wrists” or “shoot myself in the head” are pretty morbid and violent things to say. Sorry you have to listen to them!

    2. merp*

      Echoing Rainy_Day here. I wouldn’t like hearing that so often at all. Even if no one in the office struggles with suicidal thoughts, or knows someone who does, even if it’s just thoughtless phrasing that means nothing, it’s just violent imagery that I don’t want in my head at work (or ever, really). In my experience, it also seems to spread – the more things like that are said, the more they are the phrases that come to mind for others. I removed all those from my vocab a long time ago and I’m sorry that you’re exposed to it so often.

    3. Quill*

      That’s… not healthy and probably not normal. TBH, it sounds like your workplace is full of my emo freshman classmates from 2007, several of whom were doing it to be *edgy* and others of whom meant it and didn’t get help at the time because of all the edgelords.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I don’t know if you feel like you can speak up, but if you did, what about “Hey, can we pick another metaphor, one not including bodily harm?” I think in a light tone, it wouldn’t come across like you’re overly sensitive. The risk is, if the dept’s sense of humor is fairly dark, they might take that suggestion as a challenge to find another ugly metaphor instead of something neutral.

      I don’t think it’s normal to hear those kinds of comments, personally, and I would probably be frustrated by it too.

    5. Kiwiii*

      Graphic descriptions like that are not normal or okay in a workplace. I was cringing away just reading them. Maybe see if you can loop HR in, because they could be huge triggers for people.

  52. RussianInTexas*

    Accounting department rants.
    Background: we are a small, family owned company (que the Imperial March). Our accounting department, which is both A/P and A/R (I am a customer rep) are three people, none of them are actually accountants but either been doing this forever (retirement age woman, who is related to the owners in some way), new guy who is being trained, young kid, who is someone’s son and who was put on invoicing as a favor. None of them speaks decent English, so they never even call customers’ A/Ps, customer reps have to do it and boy, do we not relish this (given that I have my own accent insecurities, it’s really not fun for me either). They also do not read e-mails. Like, e-mails go in to a black hole.
    Rant 1: Last week I am copied on an e-mail to a customer of mine. Large customer always pays on time. Strongly worded e-mail from my A/R “Serious Past Due notice – invoice unpaid”. Customer replies: oh, I am so sorry, did not see the original invoice coming through, will pay next week on Friday when we pay all vendors.
    Yesterday (so, before the Friday the invoice was promised to be paid) I am copied on another e-mail “Serious Past Due notice – 2nd past due notice”. Cue in highly irritated phone call from the customer to ME.
    Rant 2: on the very first Monday of September, a coworker sends the invoice to A/P to pay for an annual certification, which is crucial to a large part of our business. $3000. We pay it annually. It is not a new thing. The e-mail goes in to the black hole. Coworker sends a reminder. Copies our manager. Manager: you know how they are, keep reminding them, etc. So he does couple more times, things get hectic, he forgets, since it’s not his job.
    Yesterday, 2 months later, coworker notices that the certification have not been paid yet. He contacts the A/P. A/P’s response – what is this? Coworker: this is the annual certification for ***. A/P: OK, but what is this for? Coworker: for annual certification for ***, see the previous e-mails and documentations. A/P: I don’t know what this is, can you please have the account manager to approve. Coworker: this isn’t…nevermind.
    So he goes to the CFO, the certification is paid in a minute.
    Then he gets an e-mail from A/P: I will look in to it, will let you know if we can pay it tomorrow.
    Headdesk. SO MUCH HEADDESK.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      Sounds like my parent company’s AP department…also have that black hole issue. AP receives an invoice and if they don’t know exactly where it goes they put it in a “not my problem” pile. An AP manager will go through it about every 6 weeks or so and attempt to find out where things are supposed to go but mostly they just wait until an irate vendor contacts their rep asking why the invoice hasn’t been paid and deal with it then. 30+ days later the vendor calls up again because they still haven’t been paid and the AP person says we have 45 day payment terms…on an invoice dated 5 months ago. They set it to pay 45 days after it was entered into the system instead of 45 days from date of invoice.
      Meanwhile they are trying to centralize AP functions for all companies over there “because its more efficient”.
      Nope nope nope nope

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I have only ever worked in large corporations before and a lot of these things were automated and pre-approved. At least all necessary certifications and licenses. Some of them are rather crucial to pay on time, lapsing can be really problematic.
        Oh. And they make customer reps do the collection work (good thing I only have one non-paying customer right now).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This sounds like my utter hell of dealing with certain accounting departments.

      And nothing bothers me more than inability to speak directly with AP/AR and being rerouted through buyers or some kind of CSR setup, who then has to be a 3rd party in between.

      You don’t need to be on the phone even, use email, I prefer email.

      I feel for you. At least I have power on my side. I’ve flagged accounts and will remove terms if they want to play games and let their AP team hideaway. And I do feel bad for the buyers a lot of times, I know they’re innocent and also victims of their company structure.

      Then again, I had someone lock our account after a decade of being like clockwork. We pay everything at least a week ahead of time in most cases. And so one of the checks got lost in the mail, nobody sent a statement, yeah I should have probably seen that it wasn’t cashed yet but it would have pinged on my radar the next month. So I get a strongly worded “We cannot send you more product, you’re past due from three months ago!” Traced the check, nope didn’t get there, stop payment etc. We had to wire transfer them money so that we could get our product. No leeway allowed was super weird to me, so that was fun.

      Past-due notices when I’m not past due and it’s an allocation issue on their end is also a fun game to play…

      1. RussianInTexas*

        We normally give leeway, since we are a small company, and can’t have too many people get mat at us.
        But I have one customer who is always, ALWAYS late. I have to have an approval from accounting every time his order comes in. And we meet him half-way! We agree to cash the check “tomorrow, when I have the funds”. We give him away over his NET 30. And yet, when his $70k check bounced, and the company owner had to call him up on it, the reply was “well, if you need the money SO MUCH that one (lol) bounced check is a problem, may be your business is not doing great!”.
        He is officially on hold as of this morning. I feel like celebrating. Only took 3 years of shady behavior.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I had someone say “I cannot believe I got put on hold for X amount, it’s only X amount!”

          And my response was “Yeah, the amount is irrelevant. You owe us money and you haven’t paid us.” Or in this case “You bounced the check, not me. We aren’t in the business of giving things to people.”

          Someone got super mad at me when I questioned their ethics with trying to act like not being paid was my fault…and my response again was “Yeah, putting it back on me, still not the ethical choice, dude.” If smoke from his ears could have come through the telephone, I’d have been coughing.

          No matter how small you are, you should never be held hostage by people who are flakes at paying their bills. I have yanked credit terms from various people who have screwed my bosses over over the years. I don’t accept the gaslighting that some financially drowning individuals try.

          I had someone bounce a $35 check years ago. Yeah no, I’ll be fine without your rubber checks! Those things cost money in banking fees, so I’m not just giving you freebie stuff, I’m paying the bank to give you free shht!

    3. noahwynn*

      The last company I worked for was like this. We had two bookkeepers, they were definitely not trained accountants, and A/P was always messed up. We had bills we paid every single month that they would claim they had never seen before and demand to know what they are for. “The AT&T bill is for the office phones and internet, like it has been for the last 5+ years,” was an email I legitimately sent once.

      I ended up defaulting to paying as much as possible with my company credit card. Then they started losing receipts, so I would scan/email them so there was a paper trail that I turned them in.

      The final straw was actually my last month there when I wasn’t dealing with anyone’s BS anymore. They replied asking what huge safety certification was for. I replied with an answer and that we paid it every year. They replied back asking how to code it. I replied that I didn’t know, but if they looked at the vendor in Quickbooks it should be easy to figure out since we pay it every year. They replied back that they didn’t have time to do that, and I replied, CCing my boss, that they could shove it into whatever account they wanted to and I didn’t care.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This gives me hives reading about. I’ve cleaned up after people like this before. It’s a nightmare untangling that mess.

        It’s why it’s dangerous not to have someone with an actual accountant background on staff if you’re doing onsite bookkeeping. Yes, it’s hard to find someone but in reality, it saves you a lot of money in the end because we don’t screw up so rapidly and all the time.

        Even if you have thousands of purchases a month, you can still easily track something down by the vendor name and account number ffs. There shouldn’t be that many questions once you’ve been doing the books for a few months.

  53. Rainy_Day*

    When scheduling interviews, would it be okay to ask if there will be forms to fill out or tests to take, and how long their interviews usually are?

    The last interview I went on ended up lasting two and a half hours because they needed me to fill out extensive paperwork and take two written tests, and then I had to wait around for the interviewer. The actual “interview” portion was just them asking me to tell them about the jobs listed on my resume and answering my questions. I had no idea it was going to take that long or that I’d spend the majority of the time filling out forms/taking tests. If I had known I wouldn’t have gone, so I’d like to screen for that sort of thing in the future if I can.

    1. londonedit*

      I think it’s fine. Ahead of most of the interviews I’ve had, the company has sent an email with instructions on time and place, and a brief overview of who I’ll be meeting, who to ask for when I arrive, and how the interview will be structured (‘The interview will consist of approximately 45 minutes of competency-based questions followed by a short editorial test of around 15 minutes’, or whatever). If you’re not getting that, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for a rough guide to the structure/format of the interview process.

    2. Antilles*

      I think you can ask, but I’d frame it under the guise of helping them – “Will there be any paperwork or application forms I need to fill out day of? I would be happy to fill those out ahead of time if it would help.”
      The answer very well might be no, we usually have people fill those out day of…but it’ll likely at least get you some kind of guidance as to whether it’s like 20 minutes of paperwork or 200 minutes of paperwork.

  54. StarHunter*

    So…I have been mostly retired for a couple of years. I was a director at my last org (nonprofit) and have been working short term temp jobs here and there at admin type jobs. However, circumstances might be changing (potential end of partner relationship) and I may need to go back to work full time for health insurance (in the US) and to provide for myself better. If the relationship doesn’t work out I would also move away (possibly cross country to be closer to family and for reasons). Has anyone ever been successful in restarting their career after being retired? Did you do similar work? What did you put on the resume? How did you explain the time-off? I also am approaching 60 so there’s the fear of ageism. I need enough money for rent/bills but my retirement account is sound so I don’t necessarily need to be making a director salary again.

    Hopefully things work out but I trying to be proactive just in case. Thanks for any advice.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      You tried out retirement and it wasn’t for you and you’re so excited to sink your teeth into X.

  55. rip city*

    I would love to get people’s thoughts on how I should interpret this…I supervise a staff member who started with us 6 months ago. He let us know that he was pursuing joining the National Guard on the side; he has been out 4-5 times for half or full days for screenings, being sworn in, etc…just this morning, he let me know that his training was set, and will require a 2 1/2 month LOA. That wasn’t something he’d previously mentioned as a possibility…leaving aside my company’s regulations about that sort of thing (paid LOA vs unpaid, etc), I’m struggling a bit with how to feel about it, and with not taking it personally. It makes me think he may not be as committed to this job, and like he showed a lack of consideration for us by not making us aware of the huge commitment this would take. But am I way off base? I definitely think it’s a great thing to do, but, just practically, it’s going to have a huge impact on our team.

    1. bananaboat*

      Can you sit down and have a discussion with him about it?
      It might be he hadn’t thought of saying anythign because he’s so busy trying to move it forward. Sit down with him be honest about the team and see how it goes

    2. machinations and palindromes*

      I think he might have assumed you knew what was included by being in the National Guard, which is not a great assumption for him to make, but if he’s seeped in the pursuit of it as his goal, he might have forgotten not everyone knows what’s involved.

      I’d go with whatever your company’s regulations are about it and assume you may have to do a bunch of retraining for him when he comes back, after being out for 2.5 months and only being there 6 months so far.

    3. fposte*

      Since it didn’t get mentioned–be aware of USERRA (federal law) here, which protects military, including the National Guard, in employment. Yes, he should have been clearer with his job about the absences (there’s actually a nice pamphlet for the National Guard enrollee with advice on this, which I’ll link to in followup), but I’d make sure you clear with HR anything that you say to him about concerns with his federally protected leave.

    4. Things*

      He probably assumed you knew about the 2 1/2 month training for boot camp. But he did tell you he was pursuing so he didn’t just spring this on you. Id assume he is just young and a little naive when it comes to communication. I wouldn’t take it personally. And as other’s have said, be careful as he is federally protected.

    5. noahwynn*

      I wouldn’t have known about the 2.5 month LOA either. I mean it makes sense when I stop and think about it, but I’ve only ever dealt with people joining the guard who were previously in the military. They were not required to do that but did have to take a lot of the half days and full days off sporadically like you mentioned. Plus a lot were at the last minute.

    6. Anon for this*

      Hi rip city, thanks so much for this question because it hits home for me. I would strongly caution you against interpreting his military commitment and duty as a lack of commitment to his job. My husband is an officer in the National Guard, and he’s also a Big Law attorney. Those aren’t very compatible fields, but he’s highly committed to both his job and serving his country, so his firm supports him when he needs to be gone. Is it a total pain sometimes? Absolutely! There have been many times when missing work for duty has been extremely inconvenient, but it’s something they are fine with because 1) they have to accommodate it under federal law and 2) they value his service.

      Also, once he’s completed his basic training, most of his commitments will occur once a month on the weekends, so these long 2 months stretches out of work are definitely not a common occurrence. Once this leave of absence is over, he’ll seem like every other employee most of the year. He most likely thought by letting you know that he was pursuing joining that he was giving you ample notice, but I can acknowledge that not everyone would know how big of a commitment it is to sign up. Please be patient and understanding during these first few hurdles; it’s a big commitment that he’s also trying to navigate and figure out. I’m sure he’s just as eager as you are for him to focus on his work and be present for his team.

  56. Myka Bering*

    I started a new job this year and it has been going great. The company is large (think fortune 500), but my department is small (about 20 people). They’re friendly and make sure to recognize landmark occasions – everyone gets a birthday cake, wedding shower when one of us got married, and now a coworker is expecting, so I’m assuming a baby shower will be forthcoming.

    My problem is that I can’t do baby showers without crying. I struggled with years of infertility and miscarriages before my female problems escalated enough that I had to have a surgery which effectively ends my chances of ever having a child. I’ve made my peace with it, but showers still push a button that is otherwise turned off most of the time. I tried to attend a gender reveal party last year hoping I’d be okay and ended up having to excuse myself because I was bawling.

    How do I gracefully bow out of a work baby shower without looking like a Grinch? I don’t want to overshare my personal situation. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable to talk about it, but it generally makes others uncomfortable to hear about it, so I don’t want to go there if I can avoid it.

    1. machinations and palindromes*

      If they’re doing it off hours, just say you have another commitment. If they’re during work hours, I’d go to your supervisor and say that, due to personal reasons, you won’t be able to attend the baby shower, and see if you can schedule an unavoidable work conflict at the time, with your boss backing you up.

      1. Clisby*

        I’m not sure why she needs to talk to her supervisor. I agree with the rest of the advice – schedule something else. (I’ve never worked at a job where anyone would have even noticed that a particular person didn’t attend a baby shower, but maybe that was the olden days.)

        1. machinations and palindromes*

          Having supervisor support can help avoid awkward situations (the supervisor can intercede if people get pushy) or the supervisor can invent a work reason she can’t go to the shower.

          1. valentine*

            Send the person en email:
            “I won’t be/wasn’t able to attend, but I wanted to be sure to congratulate you. Glad tidings!”

        2. Myka Bering*

          Absence would be noticed. We’re a small department, sitting together in our own wing of the building in an open configuration. I’d have to get off premises to avoid the shower because it would happen less than 10 feet from my desk.

          This is all hypothetical based off my observations of other milestone celebrations and festivities throughout the year. If/when this happens, I will probably take the “I have a doctor’s appointment” route. I absolutely would not want to involve my manager, who is a busy SVP. She travels so much I only see her 2-3 times a month and has more important things to worry about than “help me find a way out of Jane’s shower.”

            1. Ann Perkins*

              +1 on “I have a doctor’s appointment”. Pitch in a gift or $ for a group gift and you should be good to go. I have a close knit team of 25 and it’s hard to schedule an event when we are all in the office.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I am very sorry you have gone through this. Can you conveniently “have an appointment” at the same time as the bridal shower?

    3. Autumnheart*

      I don’t think you’ll look like a grinch. If you do things like sign the card or throw $5 into the pot for a Target gift card, or whatever people do, that would be fine. You could also do something like lean in the door, say “Congrats, Expecting Person! gotta go” and then go back to your desk. Whatever the least amount you can get away with.

  57. Echo*

    AAM frequently mentions how thank-you notes after an interview should be more substantive and build on the conversation, but can anyone give me an example that makes that concept a little more real for me? The thank you notes I get from the people I interview often include something like “It was great to hear about the llama grooming process and how your team has used the new llama clippers” (actual industry blinded, of course) which is more substantive than just thanking me for their time, but none of these have ever even remotely affected a hiring decision. Have you received a thank-you note that really did make you more likely to hire someone? Have you crafted a thank-you note that you think played a big role in your candidacy?

    1. Quill*

      I treat thank yous like a summary of my cover letter – highlighting what was actually relevant. So if my cover letter said

      “I’m excited for the opportunity to work more on Llama spitting mechanics, llama wool analysis, and llama hoof care than in my previous alpaca grooming role,”

      but they were looking for someone to do exclusively llama hoof care and maybe pinch hit for the other two roles, I’d go with

      “Thank you for taking the time to further explain the demands of your llama hoof care role and the ways it contrasts with alpaca hooves. The clarity you explained it with makes me sure that my previous experience in alpaca hoof trimming will be applicable to this role, and I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about this aspect of the industry.”

      I think I sent in a thank you note for the position I’m currently in, so maybe that helped, though honestly I think what got me in was the phone based spanish fluency evaluation.

      1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

        I think this is important — you want to demonstrate that you are interested in and well qualified for the role *in light of the better understanding you gained at the interview*.

  58. Cupcake*

    I got the job!
    I wrote in under a couple of alias’ over the last couple of weeks about some wardrobe issues (a laundry incident ruining my suit pants so wearing black pants and black shell with a grey suit jacket since the jacket was tailored and I couldn’t get matching pants or a black jacket tailored in time and then what to wear for a second interview after the hiring manager mentioned the casual dress code several times).
    Well the second interview wasn’t an interview – it was a tour of the facility, a chance for me to ask some follow up questions, and an in person offer. So I initially didn’t think the interview went that well. I have a very strong accounting background and the position is heavy analytics. I do a lot of analytics in my current role but they are not highlights on my resume since A) many are for ad hoc requests and B) the job posting made it seem like accounting was still going to be a significant part of the job. They circled back to “this isn’t really an accounting role” several times so I figured not a good match on their end and was kind of bummed since I want to move away from traditional accounting anyway. Left the interview around 5pm and got a call at 9:30 the next morning. Usually not a good sign in my experience. Nope – they wanted my references, a performance review if a recent supervisor wasn’t possible to talk to, and to schedule a follow up interview.
    So day of the interview, I show up and get the tour then we head to a conference room to chat. HM asks if I have any questions and I do since about half my prepared questions for the previous interview were useless. We talk for about half an hour and after all my questions were answered I ask if he has any others for me. Yes – are you still interest in moving forward in the process. I am interested so say so and he says good because I have an offer I would like to extend.
    They gave me everything I asked for and then some. High end of the salary range I requested ($12k bump from my current salary), matched my current PTO (3 weeks), bonus structure, and an incredible benefit package with a great 401k match, and 2 more paid holidays than I get at current job.
    It was so hard not to accept immediately!
    Gave notice yesterday and my grandboss and great-grandboss haven’t talked to me since and they’ve walked by my desk at least a dozen times. Luckily my boss is an actual adult.

  59. Wednesday's Child*

    I’m looking for some advice on how to give a new hire some guidance on dealing with some personalities. I am not the supervisor of either of these people, but I am in a higher position and will be transitioning/mentoring with the new hire. The new hire (Meg) hasn’t started yet, but when she does there is another person (Dani) who I know will immediately try to be BFFs by being super helpful and kind to Meg. Dani is extremely skilled at getting personal information from folks under the guise of friendships, and then sharing that information with others. This is not overly malicious, but is not always accurate and there is no thought given to the idea that it maybe shouldn’t be shared. For instance, when Dani was having an extremely stressful time and was getting panicky, I mentioned a breathing technique that I used when I was anxious. Dani later told an another coworker that this was a great technique that I learned while being treated for an anxiety disorder. I do not have anxiety–I saw a youtube video on the technique and found it helpful when I was stressed. I know Dani also like to be the center of attention and works to get the scoop on upper-level management decisions so she can spill the tea to the rest of the staff.

    I’m not a fan of being negative/gossipy about people to new hires, because I feel that it sets a bad tone and implies that people don’t have good judgement on their own. But Dani is so insidiously manipulative that you don’t realize it until it’s too late. Any suggestions?

    1. Budgie Buddy*

      Ugh when the best you can say about someone is “not overly malicious.” Like a nice medium amount of malice here.

      If I were the newcomer I’d want a heads up. Is there a neutral way to phrase a warning like, “FYI Dani might come off a bit strong and she can overshare both her own and other people’s stuff. Shut her down nicely if she oversteps Or things get weird.”

    2. Mellow*

      It’s nice that you want to shield a new employee from someone else’s bad behavior, but I think you should let the chips fall where they may. Meg has her own way of dealing with people, and besides, Dani’s behavior sounds like it needs to be reeled in by her own supervisor. That it hasn’t been just isn’t your problem to solve. Plus, if I were Meg and you cautioned me about Dani, I’d find what you had to say to be gossipy, since, at that point, I wouldn’t know Dani from Sansa.
      As Meg’s mentor, just let her know she can discuss anything with you confidentially, including interpersonal dynamics, and leave it at that.

  60. Seven If You Count Bad John*

    I had a job interview at a call center the other day. (Already got a rejection) They asked “describe a time when you worked on a collaborative project” well, in call centers we don’t generally have those. When the time comes for me to ask questions, I go “Regarding the culture here, you asked about collaborative projects. What kind of collaborative projects could a person in this role expect to participate in? ” and they say “Oh, well, there really aren’t any, This is a phone job with no projects.” Which I expected, given that that’s what I APPLIED for. But then what kind of “teamwork/project” answer are they looking for?

    1. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Sounds like some bad interviewing. Here’s a checklist of questions, who cares if they apply to the job!

      It sucks and good luck in the job hunt!

    2. Ewesername*

      Maybe you helped to organize the department holiday party. Or created documents for training new hires. Or collaborated with coworkers to create scripts for difficult phone customers. These are things our managers in the call Centre are looking for when they ask about projects and teamwork.

      1. Seven If You Count Bad John*

        Yes, I have some stock answers for the question. But then when I turn it around, answer with something like “The types of things you described are typical for someone in this role” or “The stuff you did is more normally something done at a higher level”. SOMETHING.

    3. Susan K*

      My guess is that they got the interview questions from a question bank or web site or something and never really thought about relating the questions to the actual job for which they were hiring. It’s almost like the ones who ask, “If you were a tree, what kind of a tree would you be?” because they think it will give them some insight into you as a person even though it has nothing to do with the job or how well you would do it.

  61. Anonforthisone*

    Any tips on managing a narcissist? I’m not one to armchair diagnose but my grandmother is a narcissist so I know of what I speak. The usual approach of feedback/setting expectations does not work with narcissists. And I refuse to get into cycles of soothing him every time there is a conflict after seeing what that did to my mother her whole life. But I don’t want to fire him either. He’s very, very good at all of the technical aspects of his job but working with him is so hard and frankly, his personality is pretty triggering for me and I am finding myself getting more and more resentful of him every day.

    1. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I believe it has been pointed out, an AAM even, that just because someone is good at the technical parts of their job doesn’t make them a good employee. If the dude can’t take constructive feedback, that’s a serious problem.

    2. fposte*

      Does he interact with anybody other than you? How do you think he’s affecting them? It’s possible he’s costing you a lot more than you’re realizing.

    3. Anonforthisone*

      He’s very good at walking the line and complying with the letter of all behavioral expectations if that makes sense. Hard to explain unless you know many narcissists but he’s surface-level charming and uber professional. Higher-level managers and clients tend to really like him. Peers absolutely can’t stand him but his job is pretty independent and requires very little interaction with them. Longer-term (6-9 months) I absolutely plan on moving him out but in the short term that is tricky for a bunch of reasons that basically boil down to having bigger fish to fry right now and he’s necessarily lower on my priority list. For the next 6 months or so I need to just minimize impact and not lose my mind in the process.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I think you should stick to your standard way of providing feedback and setting expectations. Just because you recognize his behavior in some ways doesn’t mean you have to accommodate it to the extent that it lets him keep being an unpleasant report/coworker. I’m sure that’s way easier said than done if you’re already at wits’ end dealing with him! But if his peers also clearly can’t stand him even when they don’t have to regularly work with him, he’s toxic to the group. You may be at jerk-eating-crackers level with him but that doesn’t mean he’s not a jerk that needs to be dealt with.

        If he doesn’t respond well to your feedback etc (assuming this means things like blowing off your comments, not changing to meet expectations, sulking/throwing a tantrum), that’s on him and not you. In fact, if he doesn’t respond well in those documentable ways, then you might have the option to put him on a PIP. That might be better anyway, because he’d be moving to a new situation with a paper trail indicating that he has pre-existing issues with X and Y, so those don’t come as a surprise to his new management. Or, if it’s bad enough, he’ll just be moved out of the company altogether.

        1. Wishing You Well*

          Yup, I agree with starting a paper trail/PIP now. Some companies take months to get a person out this way.

        2. voyager1*

          If you are planning to can him in the next year, I would just try to avoid dealing with him.

          I would expect him to gaslight and not go easily when you fire him though.

          That being said if he is this triggering for you, you might consider talking to a professional. I say that as someone who has had to deal with a few narcissists sadly.

          1. Anonforthisone*

            Thank you for the advice and commiseration. I am pretty much going back to therapy because of him. lol.

            I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he tried to sue us when he gets let go eventually. I’m certain when I do go the PIP route he’ll lash out and file a complaint about me or something so I’m just focusing on being totally professional and unemotional about it in his presence and not bad-mouthing him to anyone even though I feel like my blood pressure goes up every time he’s in the room. I’m confident my boss will back me up when it comes down to it. So maybe just focusing on documenting where I can and taking over some of the work that is most likely to cause him to interact with others is the path for now? I don’t think I have the energy for a PIP until I can deal with some of the more urgent performance issues on my team (I inherited a mess). I honestly can’t even think of specific enough things to put in it because he’s so good at walking the line and manipulating everyone. If I can just focus on getting all of my ducks in a row I guess I can tolerate him for now.

  62. Judddddddy*

    I just want to say THANK YOU to whomever gave the advice about interviewing last week. Someone said that if you don’t know what to give for an example right away, you can start in the hypothetical or broad sense, and then when you have an example, tie that in. That has helped me TREMENDOUSLY and I can’t thank you enough!!!!!! =D

  63. Narvo Flieboppen*

    This week’s complaint, courtesy of our CFO, is that our October financial reports were, and I quote ‘far too good to be correct.’ Revenue was above budget by about 16% and expenses were slightly under budget, by less than 1%.

    So our entire accounting team had to take an extra day and half to research why we were doing so well. During this time, it was revealed I had estimated some expenses because the invoices hadn’t shown up before we closed the books. It was insinuated I did a poor job of estimating, which is why the expenses were so low, and I was ordered to remove my estimates and use the actual invoiced amounts for all of the bills which have since come in. Fine, if that’s how we want it. I had estimated the pending expenses would be $132,000. The actual billed total? $131,600. So, with actual costs, expenses went down slightly. Also, for those not doing the math at home, I was only 0.3% off on my estimate. Known in saner parts of the world as pretty damned good.

    The final results were accepted, but we have been admonished that we should do better next month and there shouldn’t be such a large gap between excess revenue and actual expenses. Because, obviously, making more money while keeping expenses down is bad.

    I might just have to walk out of here without finding a new job. I’m not sure my remaining grey matter can withstand the cognitive dissonance.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LMAO “do better” at spending all the money that is allotted, indeed…they’re mad they’re gonna have a surplus to dump to avoid taxes at the end of the year it sounds like.

      I had one boss who would stock pile revenue until like December 20th and then rush to buy things, including company vehicles. You know what takes awhile to push paperwork through, vehicles but he still managed to do so every year just to get rid of that cash and flip it to an asset.

      But I’ve never in my life seen someone mad that revenue was up 16% unexpectedly. The horror…

      1. Narvo Flieboppen*

        That’s the thing – we’re a NPO. We’re not paying taxes on the money. We’re dumping it back into programs and, theoretically, supposed to be proving we can afford to give raises to staff while maintaining service levels and moderating expenses. This is everyone in the organization basically trying to justify their jobs and earn a raise. Which we can seemingly afford, based on what I’m seeing.

        I suppose it makes it harder to hit up donors for that sweet, sweet ‘quick before you get taxed’ money. Oops, we managed to keep expenses down, while expanding programs, and bringing in plenty of funding. Or, y’know, another way to spin it is we’re working very hard to be efficient while keeping our programs accessible and more money would allow us to do more for more people.

        But I’m a lunatic who isn’t in marketing, so what do I know?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          You’re too good at your jobs. EVERYONE IS FIRED. Bring in the ones who will flush this money and keep our programs in rags.

    2. irene adler*

      $132K vs. $131,600- I’m no accountant but dang, you are good! Some people just cannot find it within themselves to tell their employees “good job!” Big flaw on their part. Don’t let it adversely affect you or your professional actions.

    3. noahwynn*

      I understand asking the question from the CFO’s perspective. Maybe something was missed. However, once it was determined to be correct, “great job everyone!”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Hear, hear.

        The original question is a “This looks like it could be wrong, could you explain and double check to double check that this is reality?”

        But then you go “Oh shht, we are seeing that surplus! Nice. This will help because you know…it’s NP and next month and next year is not a given, ever. ” *face desk*

    4. Dancing Otter*

      It’s called revenue smoothing. A really good month or quarter makes the next one look lackluster. Or else, it can invite questions TPTB would prefer remain unasked.

      At a place I am so glad I no longer work, the CFO always waited until he saw the preliminary report before deciding how much to record for estimates and reserves – think allowance for doubtful accounts, for an example. That is supposed to be calculated based on aging analysis, credit worthiness, quantifiable factors, not what makes the monthly/quarterly net income what you want it to be.

      Shady as hell, yet Internal Audit never blinked an eye. No wonder the external auditors always demanded so much data on all the estimates underlying his annual reports!

  64. KeysToTheKingdom*

    Not too much of a question (there’s one in here), but still – it’s been a while since I commented but wanted to do so because recently life has taken a bit of an upturn.

    To recap: I was treated HORRENDOUSLY by my old boss and a contractor at my last position to the point where my anxiety and depression hit new heights. After I left, the world came off my shoulders and I felt light again – such was the toxicity of those people.

    That was back in May. In August, I was hospitalised with high blood pressure – 220/180, at the age of 26. The cause? Hypertension due to stress, apparently. The situation was actually bordering on killing me! Can you believe that?

    Anyways. Earlier this month I signed a two month contract (with room to continue on the table) as a freelancer for an agency. I get to work from home and it’s interesting stuff – I kinda lowballed myself on the rates, but any money was going to be better than the negative money coming in. It’s been slow to start but the team are friendly, responsive, and clued in on what they need – it’s been a dream!

    In a strange twist of fate, though, the day after I signed with the agency, I got two phone calls – one for a role in the country I used to live in, and another that would be considered a “Dream” company to have on my resume. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed here.

    One question – I’ve been looking at something entirely different when my contract ends and if I decide the other roles aren’t ideal for me, which is teaching English as a foreign language. I’m a writer, so grammar and stuff comes naturally to me, but I’m concerned about the need for me to ask my old boss for a reference. I really don’t trust them to give me a good reference, but for me to get good jobs, it’s been suggested I do so. I have one former boss that has said they’ll sing my praises like they’re Julie Andrews in Sound of Music, but it’s important I try to get my last boss’ reference as well.

    How should I go about it? We didn’t leave in bad terms, and they said they’d give me a reference down the line, but in all honesty, I don’t know if I can trust them whatsoever to give me a good one. I don’t need to use the reference, of course, but still – what do we think? How should I approach it if the time comes, and what should I do to try and protect myself if the reference isn’t super glowing?

    1. 00ff00Claire*

      Not sure if this would be the best route, but it’s the first I can think of – would you be able to get someone you know (friend or family member) to contact this old boss under the guise of checking your references? You would then have an idea of what old boss would say, and you could decide if you want to use them as a reference.

      1. KeysToTheKingdom*

        Great idea! I definitely appreciate it – it would definitely give me an indication for sure. Thank you!

  65. Elle*

    I have a situation that I’d like to get feedback on
    I took a job a few years ago where I knew there had been quite a bit of turnover but it was easily explained. I started but never received the interim and annual review with a raise I was promised. So I scheduled a meeting with my boss that she cancelled an hour beforehand. I left notes asking for clarity on specific questions that were never answered. Then 18 months in, I found out she had a list of all the mistakes that she had been correcting and not telling me about. Evidently I had reached the limit and was fired.
    The company was unsuccessful in getting unemployment blocked. I also happen to know hat boss has been demoted. I ended up back at a previous job that I love that wanted to hire me but couldn’t before with a large raise.
    However I’m curious. I know I can’t blame a boss for why a job ended but I’m not sure how I would explain it.

    1. Narvo Flieboppen*

      Should you be making mistakes? No. Do humans makes mistakes? You betcha. Can we learn from those mistakes if we don’t know about them? Not so much.

      Your ex-boss was fixing your mistakes, then never telling you about them, so how would you know to fix them? And you say you can’t blame her for firing you for continuing to make mistakes which she never told you about? Pretty sure you can blame her. She failed to do her job, which was to actually manage you and your work so you could be successful.

      1. Elle*

        I blame her. My question is how would you explain it in an interview “i was the third person in and out in 3 years because my manager didn’t know how to give a correction”

        1. Narvo Flieboppen*

          Well, I totally missed the point of your question first time around! That is a tough one. I’m trying to think of a good way to word it and failing. “There was no process in place to provide feedback on errors” doesn’t really cut it.

        2. JohannaCabal*

          How long was it between the job you were fired from and the previous job that hired you back? If it was only a short interim, you could probably get away with mentioning the other job hired you back “with a really great opportunity” and not even mention you were fired from that job.

          In my most recent interviews I have not had anyone go through my resume job by job, so I don’t say why I have left positions.

          Also, how long ago was this? Depending on how long ago you were fired, it may not come up.

  66. Peaches*

    Is there any way to get around a company who has a “This Is Our Vacation Policy And We Can’t Deviate From It” policy?

    Basically, I am wanting to ask to go to 35 hours a week next year (7:30-3 with a 1/2 hour lunch break; I currently work 7:30-4:30 with an hour lunch break). It is something my husband and I have talked about for quite some time. He is a PA and recently got a new job with a $40k pay increase (which is nearly as much as I make in a year!) We are also conservative with our finances and debt-free, which has given me the freedom to scale down my hours. I’d like to volunteer at an animal shelter and have more time to cook (which I LOVE!)

    Anyway, based on several factors, I am pretty confident that my manager will grant my request to go to 35 hours a week. The problem is that I’m afraid my vacation will be scaled down as well. I hit the 5-year mark with the company in January 2020, which will allow me to accrue 3 weeks of vacation, rather than the 2 I’ve accrued the previous 4 years. The problem is that the 3 weeks are not just given for being a full time employee (which I know 35 hours is still considered), but are accrued weekly. Based on the accrual rate, I would only accrue about 2.5 weeks of vacation, as opposed to the 3 I would accrue if I were working 40 hours a week.

    Based on coworkers who have tried to ask for more vacation, our company is very stuck on vacation time being corporate policy, and no exceptions can be made. However, I would REALLY like my full 3 weeks of vacation next year, even if I’m only working 35 hours/week. Based on past situations, I like my manager will say, “well, you’re always welcome to take unpaid time if you absolutely need to.” The thing is, it’s not a “need”. My husband and I like to travel, and I would be using my time off for vacation, not for emergencies. I would be fine a few unpaid days for travel, but I don’t want to be looked down on for taking unpaid time off just for travel.

    Any advice?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      My advice: Accept that you might have to take a half-week of unpaid time off and budget for it.
      My job accrues far less PTO than my wife’s, but she also makes considerably more than I do. Some of her extra, she takes solo. Some I take off anyway and take it unpaid. In the end, it all comes out in the wash.

      Anything else, I’d point out that your opening line could be paraphrased as “Any suggestions on how I can game the system?”

      1. Peaches*

        <i?Anything else, I’d point out that your opening line could be paraphrased as “Any suggestions on how I can game the system?”

        …not at all. People ask on AAM all the time how they can (successfully) request more vacation time. You make it sound like I’m doing something wrong by wanting to barter for more vacation.

        I am fine with taking unpaid time, and probably should have made that more clear in my initial post. I just want to make sure my manager is aware (and okay with) me using unpaid time to tack onto vacations that I have planned, rather than only being able to take unpaid time in “emergency” situations.

      2. Peaches*

        (corrected formatting)

        Anything else, I’d point out that your opening line could be paraphrased as “Any suggestions on how I can game the system?”

        …not at all. People ask on AAM all the time how they can (successfully) request more vacation time. You make it sound like I’m doing something wrong by wanting to barter for more vacation.

        I am fine with taking unpaid time, and probably should have made that more clear in my initial post. I just want to make sure my manager is aware (and okay with) me using unpaid time to tack onto vacations that I have planned, rather than only being able to take unpaid time in “emergency” situations.

          1. Peaches*

            No worries. I just wanted to make it clear that I’m definitely not one to abuse company policies, or do something under the table (in fact, I can be a rule follower to a fault.) I used “get around” to indicate that my company does not typically (if ever) approve requests for more vacation time, and it will be difficult to have it approved by my manager when I ask her, that’s all. Probably not the best word choice on my part, sorry.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      I’m confused- if you accrue based on hours worked, wouldn’t you also need fewer hours of PTO to make a “week” off, so you’re getting 2.5 weeks at 40 hour weeks, which is still 3 35 hour weeks

      1. annony*

        That’s how it should work. If PTO is accused on an hourly rate is should be spent that way too. So scaling it down should result in the same number of days off.

        1. Peaches*

          I guess I should have rephrased my question. I am fine with getting 2.5 weeks instead of 3, but want to make sure I make it clear with my manager that it would be okay to use unpaid day(s) for vacation, not just “emergency type” situations.

          1. Reba*

            I don’t feel like that’s something you need to distinguish, honestly! Unless there is a lot more context we are missing, like your boss is super involved in all of y’alls plans and regularly asks you to justify what you are doing … I think you are reading to much into the boss’s use of “need to.” (Which I will also note has not actually been said yet)! You know, you will “need” those days to take all the days of the trip you want to take. Maybe it’s “need” like “you have run out of days” not “need” like “you have a emergency of sufficient seriousness.”

            I’m dealing with a similar thing now, where I had gone down to part time some of this year (not willingly, though :) ) and now I don’t have enough days or comp time earned to do my holiday travel as I wish, so I’m looking at taking a few more unpaid days. No bigs in my workplace/for my role.

            1. Peaches*

              You might be right, honestly! You’re correct that it hasn’t been said yet to me, personally. I just know that in the past when people have asked if they can take days off once they run out of vacation, she has said something to the effect of, “you can always take unpaid time off if you need to.” I guess I’m interepreting “need” as “only acceptable if it’s an emergency”, but that may not be the case.

              I hope you get to do your holiday travel. :)

      2. Peaches*

        Well sure, but my point is that if I want to take 3-1 week vacations next year, I’d have to use 3 unapid days. I want to make sure I have the ‘OK’ from my manager to use unapid days to tack onto trips I have planned, rather than for “emergency only” situations.

        I guess I could have phrased my question better. I’m fine with taking the time unpaid, given that I’m able to use unpaid days for travel, rather than just “emergency situations” that may come up.

        1. Natalie*

          Why do you think you would need unpaid days?

          You currently work full time and accrue 120 hours a year. In order to take a week’s vacation, you use 40 hours. 120 / 40 = 3 weeks

          If your accrual scales down with the amount of hours worked, you’ll accrue 105 hours a year. You use 35 hours to take a week off. 105 / 35 = 3 weeks

        2. Half-Caf Latte*

          I have managed a lot of 0.9FTE employees, and we always gave them 36 hours of PTO for a full week off.

          We allowed them to take 40 hours a week of PTO if they wanted to (occasional request I got), but the default PTO was the scheduled hours.

          Do you accrue days or hours? I could see how you might need to explain the math to boss if it’s “days”, but if it’s hours, you should be fine.

    3. Happy Lurker*

      Would you consider putting your request off for six months to a year?
      That would give you your 3 weeks of vacation this year. It will allow you to feel like you are getting your earned PTO and gradually move to your desired work schedule. Maybe in June you ask for a 1/2 hour lunch to scale down to 37.5 and six months later go to 35?
      At some point you will see the reduction in PTO. You put in the last 4 years and by golly earned the extra week. I would be sure to take it. Time goes by pretty fast.

      1. Peaches*

        I would consider that, yes! That’s sort of why I posed the question in the first place – I’ve spent 4 years working 40 hours/week, and have been looking forward to this extra week off in 2020 (that I’ve earned!) for quite some time. Definitely something to think about – thanks!

      1. Peaches*

        I didn’t mean “scaled down” in the context you’re implying. I understand that my vacation accrual rate will be the same. I’m asking for advice on how I can perhaps ask for an increase in my accrual rate, so that I’m still able to earn 3 weeks of vacation next year, although I’d be working less hours.

        1. Mae*

          For my own clarification: you want to work less hours but still get the same amount of vacation by getting the company to let you accrue your time faster than other employees? But you are ok with taking unpaid time if your boss won’t allow it?

          At this point, since you are in a better financial situation and can afford unpaid time off, all you can do is ask. But since you know the company is strict with their policy, be prepared to have to take the time unpaid.

        2. Lucette Kensack*

          Based on this clarification, I think you should wait to make this request. It will be a tough sell to ask for two (somewhat contradictory) things at the same time: reduced hours and an increase in your accrual rate.

          (I also have to admit that I don’t totally understand the problem you’re trying to solve here. If you’re working 35 hours a week, you only need 35 hours a week of PTO to take the week off at full pay.)

        3. annony*

          I think you need to stop thinking of it in terms of days and think of it in terms of hours instead. A day off for you will no longer be 8 hours, it will be 7 hours. So you should still have the same number of paid days off and not even have to worry about unpaid days.

    4. Margaret*

      I think I’m missing something with your concern. How do you end up with only 2.5 weeks? If the accrual is reduced to 7/8 because that’s what you’re working, don’t you also only need to use 7/8 of the hours to have 3 weeks off? If you’re generally working 7 hours/day, you should only need to record 7 hours of PTO. That shouldn’t be inconsistent with most policies – even when it accrues by the hour, the expectation should be that you take off one day at a time – and for you, one day = 7 hours, not 8.

      I work a reduced schedule (base of 30 hours, based on the industry I work more than at tunes that so I also have an annual total hours to meet that averages more, but in slow times I only need to hit 30 hours). My PTO accrual is scaled accordingly. If I were regular full time I would accrue 16.7 hours/month (5 weeks at 40 hours). Instead based on my pro rated annual hours I accrue 15 hours/month. But I still get 5 weeks because I only have to use 30 hours to fill one week.

      I can actually get closer to 6 weeks off, depending on how I record my time (6 hour days or 8 hour days… depending on whether it’s a full week off or a day or two, it varies. I’ve asked for clarification on how I’m “supposed” to record it, and not gotten a clear answer. I just try to be reasonable, and I’m senior enough that as long as my work gets done it’s not too big a concern).

  67. Hats Hats Hats*

    I’ve always tried to follow good protocol on office gift giving and as one of the low ranking employees I’ve never been able to give holiday gifts to co-workers other than baking cookies to share or something for the white-elephant exchange. But this year I have my first opportunity for a downward-flowing gift as I have my first student-employee! Any suggestions on what an appropriate gift would be? She has been awesome – picks up things quickly and works hard, asks good questions, etc. and since she came on board I am caught up on certain projects for the first time ever. And she’s a first-year student so potentially (hopefully!) she can work for us for a few years! This job has nothing to do with her major (pre-med) but she says she likes it and it is a nice break from the hard science classes she has right now. She is pretty shy (like I am) so we’re not best buddies (some of my co-workers become VERY close to their student-employees) but I’m quite fond of her and we have a warm friendly working relationship and are both comfortable spending a lot of our days in amicable silence. I’ll probably just do a couple of gift cards, but what are some other ideas?

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I would think about something small and thoughtful to go along with a gift card to a place she frequently purchases from. A nice scarf or pair of earrings, a book, special coffee mug or whatever. Fairly professional, and possibly something that could go with her to her next job. Warm friendly working relationship is where you want to keep the gift … nothing too elaborate, but nice enough to feel like you took some time to think about her.

      1. Platypus Enthusiast*

        Agreed with this, and in addition, a nice note/letter about how much you appreciate her. It doesn’t have monetary value, but it can mean a lot!