open thread – December 27-28, 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.

{ 1,053 comments… read them below }

  1. Cinnamon*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on dealing with a long-term intern that thinks we don’t like him? I found out after our holiday party that he thinks we are just being fake nice to him because everyone works together and not that we actually like him as a person. We’ve had discussions about how if we didn’t like him we wouldn’t ask him to join us for outside work events and ask him to sit with us at lunch. I got the feeling that there is a lot in his life that he may be unhappy with and unfortunately that reflects in how he acts at work and how he perceives relationships.
    I am at the point that we’ve had the conversation and short of continuing being friendly, there isn’t anything I can do. If that’s the only option I’m fine with it but I’d like to get everyones input.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I mean, if you’ve had the conversation and are including him in things, I don’t know what else you could do here – this is a him problem, not a you problem, and you’re not a licensed therapist. Just keep including him and pay close attention to the rest of your team to make sure they’re not treating him like an outcast when you’re not around – I’ve seen that happen a few times, and it wasn’t always malicious, it’s just really hard sometimes for working adults who have real life obligations to always be able to empathize or socialize with someone who’s still young and in school. The life stages are different, so even if people aren’t intentionally treating him differently, he may feel that way if your team is composed of more seasoned professionals who are around the same stage of life and just have an easier time relating to each other.

      1. Cinnamon*

        He’s not in school anymore (we offer postgrad paid internships) but I think the age thing is a huge factor. He is 3-4 years younger than the youngest full time staff and in a city that doesn’t offer him much of a support system. I’ll keep an eye out for how people (and myself) continue to interact. Sometimes it’s just hard to not be like “well, that’s life, just gotta deal with it and learn to grow up” because we can’t be his mentor both in and out of work, we’d all be emotionally exhausted.

        1. Dan*

          Your first sentence may very well explain a lot. If I were the proud holder of a college degree and yet still working in an internship (paid or not… I assume it’s still lower pay than what the bottom wrung staff makes, and no benefits to boot) I wouldn’t be very happy.

          Based on what you’re wrote here, can I ask if it’s time to part ways or make the kid a full time employee? Post-grad internships are one thing if the intern has *no* experience whatsoever, but you said he’s been with you long term. I just can’t imagine the post-grad thing is doing him any favors, and for that matter, your company either. You know the guy and what he can (or can’t) do, and don’t need to try him on for size any longer. If he’s not cut out to be a full time employee for one reason or another, it would be a kindness to tell him.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, I assume this ties to his “limbo status” as an employee.

            It can be really hard to separate out the two issues, “If they like me, why don’t they give me a secure position.”

            He may not be consolable. OR he has not addressed what actually bothers him. These are the two reasons people get stuck on a particular matter.

            When I first moved up here I took any work I could get. I ended up doing temp or seasonal stuff. It was very hard to keep my attitude out of the latrine. One of the ways my attitude showed was, “I don’t think they like me.”
            That was a crutch. It enabled me to keep limping along. My real issue was, “Why can’t I have a perm position like the rest of them?” (Years later I concluded it was because I was supposed to find something else. It’s the only explanation I ever found.)

            If he had written in, I would have encouraged him to find out what his prospects were for becoming permanent at the job.

          2. Cinnamon*

            I’d definitely agree. We had some minor issues in the beginning of his first year so gave him another chance and kept him on for longer than probably should have. I suggested we part ways but I’m only middle management so it wasn’t just my decision. The pay is lower but the position does offer benefits and insurance in a lower cost city so it’s a good launching point and I can see why someone would hang on until they found something else or hated it in general.

          3. Tzeitel*

            It really depends on the field. I took a gap year where I interned full time before law school. For a lot of other college students, post-grad internships is how they find a job.

    2. Sam*

      There really isn’t much you can do here, since you’ve already addressed the issue with him. Typically in a situation like that, there are some internal insecurities that they need to deal with, and it does reflect in their relationships, as you said. Just keep being the best person you can be!

    3. Arts Akimbo*

      Reassurance might seem like the right thing to do, but in fact it just rewards his expressing the negative thoughts. From my experience in dealing with that kind of thing, we are told not to reward or reinforce in any way. The more you reassure, the more it reinforces his negative thought spiraling, when what he needs is to have the thought spiral interrupted or shut down.

      Different stuff works for different people. My son responds well to a jokey approach like “You’re right! That’s why we’re not asking you out to lunch with us. OH WAIT WE ARE! Ok, pizza or Chinese?” and immediately move on from the topic of whether he is liked and ignore/disengage from any wallowing he might attempt.

      1. Cinnamon*

        Thanks, we have done this a few times and were worried it seemed harsh or like we didn’t care but this was after the reassurance approach. Guess my team may have an issue with overthinking!

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Ha, maybe, but you sound like lovely, caring people and great coworkers, and that’s awesome! :) If it helps, my son has pretty bad OCD and that obsessive thought-spiral is part of what he does, and his psychiatrist had to tell us about the whole arresting-the-cycle technique. It’s not really intuitive! Seems like reassurance should help, but if the person is obsessing or wallowing, it will only make things worse.

          1. Ron McDon*

            Completely agree. My son suffered from anxiety terribly a few years ago; when he was working himself into an anxious state I’d instinctively try to reassure him to make him feel less worried. Then I realised all the reassurance was making him worse, because it was reinforcing that he did have something to worry about, because otherwise I wouldn’t be spending so much time talking about it… once I stopped endlessly reassuring him and just shutting his worries down, he got a lot less anxious very quickly. Very counterintuitive though.

      2. Mainely Professional*

        When I’m being down in the mouth and nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms I’ve gotten a gentle reminder to “Get off the cross, we need the wood.” Humor works with me too :)

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I know you have talked to him but was part of the talk a bisic primer on work relationships?
      Like, “You mention friendships often. In an ideal work environment, people are cordial and professional with everyone. Those are friendly relationships. At school you might not know or interact with many people around you and even ignore them, but at work, you strive to have warm, cordial relationships with coworkers. That is what a work friendship looks like and my expectation is everyone here will be warm and cordial with coworkers. I dont expect them to be friends the way people are friends outside of work.”

      Because maybe his context for friendship is different bc school friendships are different? So focusing on what a work relationships are and what professional behavior is would create a context for him? Pull it away from how you all are interacting with him and focus on professional standards. That keeps you out of therapist territory.

      1. Cinnamon*

        We’ve had some casual conversations that there is definitely a blurry line between the levels of friendly in an office and my department is guilty of being overly friendly and close. I’ve seen in other instances that our department needs to be more professional so I have some 2020 goals to shift how I talk and address things, including not forcing socializing and keeping outside work talk to a minimum around mixed company.

    5. Alex*

      I think this might be a him problem more than a you problem. First of all, he needs to realize that sometimes work relationships are “Be warm and friendly to this person regardless of my actual feelings,” and that’s OK! Unlike in other personal relationships, “faking” it at work is totally acceptable and even expected.

      Second of all, it seems he might just have overall self esteem problems, and you really can’t be the one to take that on yourself, as that is something he needs to work on maybe with a therapist. I might just continue doing what you’re doing–being warm and friendly, inviting him to things the same as everyone else–and hope that with time it will work itself out.

    6. Dezzi*

      Just wanted to update on the situation I posted about last week, re: my employee who I suspected was being sexually harassed. Turned out the situation was WAY worse than I knew, and I had to immediately go to HR. She wasn’t happy, but I had no choice. They brought us both in for a meeting, and handled the situation really well. The situation has been handled and I’m making sure she has all the resources she needs to deal with what happened. Thank you to AAM/the community here for helping me learn to advocate for my staff!

    7. Beatrice*

      I started replying to this earlier, and wound up having to deal with something at work that ate up my afternoon….

      I had a phase like this when I started my current job, and I don’t think there’s much anyone could have done to help. The job I’d left was very task-oriented, getting the job done came first, people were blunt and didn’t sugarcoat things, and if someone didn’t like something I did or disliked me personally, I was definitely going to hear about it. My current job is much different – it’s relationship-oriented and involves a lot of customer interaction. Building positive working relationships with people is key to my success, and I can let results slip a tiny bit here and there to let someone save face or to do a favor. As I was learning the ropes, I watched my peers cheerfully deal with some really aggravating personalities and seem like they weren’t bothered at all, and then gripe about them privately later. It was a tough transition for me – both because I hadn’t had to prioritize work relationships to be successful before, and because it was so much harder to tell if I was really doing well at building those relationships with people who were less matter-of-fact than I was used to. I genuinely worried that everyone secretly hated me and griped bout me behind my back. I just needed time to figure it out.

  2. Diahann Carroll*

    I just wanted to say: I love my job. I’ve been careful not to use the L word so soon in this relationship (I’ve only been with this company since May), but I’m on day 5 of my 10 day break and don’t go back until the new year – something I’ve never been able to do at any other company I’ve worked for – I just feel very fortunate right now. And my manager gave me a $50 gift card for Christmas, and his boss gave me a $25 gift card – I’ve never been given Christmas gifts by any of my former bosses. The most I received was a Hallmark card and maybe something edible (that I usually couldn’t eat), so I was very touched that they thought of me at the holidays. It’s nice to feel appreciated and it’s giving me the motivation to go back to work more focused and more dedicated to exceeding expectations, so well played on their part.

    I hope everyone else has had a nice holiday.

    1. LaughingRachel*

      Happy holidays! That sounds great, I’m so happy for you that youre loving your job. I wish more companies could see that treating employees well gets the best out of them even if it wasnt just the right thing to do anyway.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same. It’s wild to me that it took 10 years for me to finally work somewhere that gives employees Christmas gifts (the company as a whole also sent me a lovely, and practical, gift that I absolutely love) – so far, this is the best company I’ve ever been with. I could see myself retiring here.

        1. StellaBella*

          Congrats on loving your new-ish job and on the decent management – sounds amazing! I wish you good, long luck too with them. Finding a great employer helps make all of your life so much better!

    2. Dan*

      Same, although I’ve been at my joint for 6 years or so, so I hope it’s not too soon. I work for a non-profit, so we don’t do anything other than “the paycheck is the paycheck.” The upside is you don’t have to to threaten to quit to get raises… I’ve gotten $36k in raises over the last 12 months or so and am beyond ecstatic about that.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Dang! Where do you work and are they hiring? Asking for a friend…lol. Man, I can’t even conceive of getting those kinds of raises.

        1. Dan*

          We’re always doing a little bit of hiring :D It’s a non-profit that does professional services/technical/IT work for the federal government.

          These glory days won’t last forever. But they mean a lot having come from a prior job… I was at the prior job for a similar amount of time (a hair under 5 years) and got a whopping $7k in raises the entire time I was there. I’m currently making almost double what I made at that job, and it’s only been 6 years.

          1. TooTiredToThink*

            I miss those days! At my old job I switched career paths, so that accounts for one of the huge shifts, but from the time I started to the time I ended I was making about 40k more. That was over the course of 10 years. I’m 3 years in to my new job and they were so pleased to offer me a 1% raise my first year. I was like – you’ve got to be kidding me. I felt so insulted (it wasn’t the only reason why I felt such). Then I felt bad for everyone else in my group because I knew that I was likely making a lot more than everyone else (specialized skills) and at least I could do *something* with that 1% raise.

            1. Pomona Sprout*

              Jeez, a 1% raise is a joke! Like, why even bother. If your salary is already high enough that 1% will actually amount to something, though, that’s really great. Congrats on that at least.

      2. T. Boone Pickens*

        I, too am thankful for my boss *looks in mirror*. First year of doing contract renegotiations, was able to get a $45k bump across the board plus another $50k in success bonuses. It was a good holiday and I may or may not treated myself and family to some goodies.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Holy crap! Lol! You and Dan are living the dream (and my phone almost autocorrected that to “licking,” which is weird as all get out, but now I’m wishing I had left it since I’m eternally 12).

    3. Best Cat in the World*

      I have recently started realising that I love my job as well. It has its moments where it’s not so great, but as a whole, I love what I do. We don’t get Christmas bonuses or anything, but our managers did the rounds over Christmas, hanging around outside the places we frequent (we don’t have offices as such) with coffee, cake and hot chocolate, and I think one brought non-alcoholic mulled wine. A little gesture but one that was appreciated!

      I’m glad you’ve found your happy place, and long may it continue to be! And enjoy the rest of your time off.

    4. Poppy the Flower*

      Same! My last workplace was incredibly toxic and I’ve been at my new job about 5 months. I am just getting to the point where I feel like maybe this is all not a trick and it’s actually a good workplace? I love it so far and hope that continues for both of us!

    5. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I know how you feel. I’ve been at my current job for 4 years now and I still love it. I’m paid well, right now we’re on Christmas break and I get paid for 2 weeks without having to use vacation days! The grandboss and my boss mention how much they appreciate me and I get a Christmas bonus. It does make you want to work harder to show appreciation. The best thing is the extra work is acknowledged in a good way.

    6. Enginear*

      Same! My boss gives us gift cards every year and this year our newest employee gifted everyone gift cards as well. Plus we get an end-of-the-year catered lunch. And we work half days on xmas and NY eve. Very blessed.

    7. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Same here. I never thought I’d say this about my current job, but I really do like it (maybe even l-l-love it). I’ve been at my current job for a little over six years. Every Christmas since I’ve been here, my group has been generous to me (and each year more generous than the year before). As much as I loved my old job, this is something that never happened there. As you said, it’s nice to feel appreciated.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I did! They were very sweet, so I wanted them to know how much I appreciated their appreciation, lol.

  3. Byebyejob*

    I was recently laid off and am currently in the middle of job hunting, but I’m still formally employed. Should I tell interviews that I have been laid off and that I can start immediately, or should I pretend that I have a notice period before I can start?

    1. Username required*

      I’d say tell them you’ve been laid off. Otherwise if they check your references, assuming one of them would be your ex-employer, there’s going to be a disconnect.

    2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

      Tell them what you told us… that you’ve been given notice of a layoff and that your position is ending. Also ask your boss how much notice she needs considering the layoff. She knows you’re looking if they’ve told you that you’re being laid off.

    3. Shiny*

      I was laid off recently and worked another six weeks from the notice until the actual end of my job. I was interviewing during that period and after. When people asked why I was searching, I just told them the truth: my place of employment was going through financial difficulties and had laid off most of its staff, and my position was ended/had ended on date. No one gave it a second thought other than to reassure me about their stability at times! When I did accept a job, almost 3 months after my end date, they still gave me almost two weeks between accepting and my start date with no issue.

      Good luck with the job hunt! From someone who was recently there, you’ll get through it and may land in a much better place as I seem to have done (I’m only a few weeks in to the new job so can’t be sure, but it seems like a great fit, and it’s for sure a big raise).

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      As others have said I think it’s totally OK to be honest here. You could even put it out there as “My company has notified me that my position will be eliminated on X date, but if you are looking for an earlier start date I’m sure we can work something out.” or something similar. There’s nothing wrong with letting them know you’ve been laid off. It happens and it isn’t any real reflection on you.

    5. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Same situation, but now past the end date. I stated my expected assured availability when starting applying during my still-employed time, but ended up not getting anything arranged until after my end date. Depending on how fast can you move (industry dependent) you might either want to stay until your end date, get an offer that really wants you to start, or be rolling on the search while filing unemployment for at least a bit. Frame it as laid off and currently have an expected end date. Or, if you want an unemployed vacation, the first date after you end date that works best for you starting a new position.

  4. MissBookworm*

    For anyone that paid attention to and remembers my last few posts (prior to last week because I didn’t post), my grandboss basically assigned me as the lead on planning a retirement party for his admin. At the same time, I’m prepping for our year end financial audit (which is next month, same time as the retirement party), my boss is out on an extended medical leave (Update: he’s slated to be back *fingers crossed* mid-January, but in a reduced capacity because he hasn’t been cleared for full-tome), and I’m currently training a new employee and a new temp all while handing my normal duties that are already too much for one person to handle. I had told grandboss a couple weeks ago that I was going to miss deadlines and he basically shrugged and said oh well.

    I was massively unprepared for and felt like a complete mess during a conference call today with one of our major clients; according to grandboss, who decided to sit in as “support”, it went well… I mean, if you can call the fact I must have said “We’ll discuss that internally and get back to you” or “I’ll need to look into that and get back to you” for nearly every request or question as “doing well” then okay… I just really want to know why this was scheduled for the day after Christmas when half my department is on PTO (including three people who would have handled the majority of todays call had they been in and actually could have answered the questions!); I was out for three days, two of which our office was closed, and came back to find out this meeting had been scheduled. Can anyone say “last straw”?

    I am so fed up and mentally exhausted. I am seriously at the point where I just want to quit, but I don’t want to burn my bridges with my boss (none of this is his fault with the emergency medical leave and all) or with my manager (who truly is trying her best, but grandboss and the rest of senior management aren’t even giving her the time of day now too). I also need a new job lined up before I can quit—can’t afford to not have one waiting.

    I don’t even really know what advice I’m looking for, but to start does anyone have any advice on how to juggle all of this and job search? By the time I get home I’m so exhausted that job searching (and all that entails) is like some insurmountable task. I just know I can’t do this job the way it is for much longer. Thank you!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Try to do a little at a time during the week. For example, just focus first on updating your resume – you can do that for a half hour or so a day depending on how many drafts/edits you need to make. Then set job alerts on all of the major job boards. You can scroll through postings during your lunch break and save the ones that speak to you. Once you do that, write one cover letter a night and do one application if you can. If you’re too drained to even apply for one position a night during the week, save it until the weekend. I’d still try to at least draft the cover letter(s) ahead of time so that on a Saturday or Sunday you only need to worry about filling out whatever online forms are required.

      Good luck!

      1. MissBookworm*

        Thanks! I’ll have to try that. Thankfully my resume has already been updated recently (August/September), so I only have a couple things to change/add.

    2. Coder von Frankenstein*

      If you lay out the stuff on your plate, in order of priority as senior management has dictated to you (i.e., if they tell you the admin party comes first, then it comes first), and work out how much you can get done in a reasonable work week, and then do just that much and go home at the end, and whatever balls get dropped, get dropped… what are the consequences to you personally? Not to the company, not to your boss, but to you?

      That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one. It *sounds* as if Grandboss has acknowledged that you will miss deadlines and that’s acceptable, but whether it will still be acceptable when the deadlines actually start going past, only you know.

      But if you can’t both keep up on everything at your current job and job search – and you can’t afford to quit without a new job lined up – and you can’t tolerate staying at your current job – it seems like the only option left is to stop keeping up on everything at your current job so you have time to job search. That is a reasonable response to an unreasonable situation.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I think that is an excellent answer. Basically, let the balls drop but in a planned way. Prioritize the workload and then make like Elsa and let it go.

        Also, can you delegate any parts of the retirement party to others? You plan, others help you do the plans?

        1. MissBookworm*

          Thankfully I was able to farm some of it out; not enough though. Hopefully as it gets closer I can get help with the setup and menu selection.

      2. MissBookworm*

        Knowing what some of my colleagues have gotten away with and they’re still employed, I think I would just get a proverbial slap on the wrist and a “Do better!” comment.

        The hard part is going to be purposely letting it go. I’ve never missed a deadline in all my years with this company. But if I have to let it happen then that’s what I need to do.

        Thank you!

        1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

          It is a major change in thinking in letting things go but if you look at it as a survival skill (given your current situation) it is massively freeing. It’s like you can breathe again. Also, one thing I have found that gave me hope during the dark hours is to use my phone to job hunt during lunch time e.g. getting the Linked In app or looking at websites, whatever. It is a small thing but it gave me some sense of excitement and empowerment.

          1. MissBookworm*

            Makes sense. First step for me in any of this is to stop working through my lunch—both because I need the break from work and for job searching. Thank you!

        2. Arts Akimbo*

          Just be sure to document in email that Grandboss said it was ok for you to miss these deadlines, in case they try to bite you with it later. “Per our conversation of [date], am I correct that you are telling me it’s ok to miss X and Y deadline?”

    3. TechWorker*

      Whoever schedules a client meeting for Boxing Day needs to work out their priorities… did the client folk actually want to be there either? Sounds like a waste of everyone’s time :(

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      About the party–get your boss to pitch it to grandboss as outsourcing. “Grandboss’s admin deserves a more polished farewell than I will be able to do with the current workload. We can’t outsource the audit but we CAN outsource party planning.”
      And then have a basic checklist of what you’ve done so far, budget especially. There are professional party planners, and there are temp agencies with event planners and admins who can help plan parties. (I know because I turned those temp jobs down.)
      The idea might get shot down but if they’re still looking for admin’s replacement, it could pay off big.

      1. MissBookworm*

        Unfortunately boss is out for much of the party-planning time (he comes back a week before the party), but I might still be able to get that idea into grandboss’s ear without it coming from me. I’ll have to think about that. Thanks!

        1. Mama Bear*

          Does the venue have a preferred caterer? If so I’d give them parameters and let them handle the food.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Can the new hire help train the temp?
      Or can the temp and the new hire help each other in some way and remove a load from you on a particular task?

      As far as job hunting, maybe prioritize rest during the week and job hunt on weekends. Or perhaps limit yourself to a very small amount of time each morning to looking at jobs. This is one of my parallels to the “pay yourself first” and “work for yourself first” ideas. So your day could look like the first thing you do in the morning is spend 15 minutes looking a jobs. You are only looking for one job not ten. Think strategically as you read along, so you don’t fill out endless applications/resumes needlessly.

      1. MissBookworm*

        I wish New Hire could train the temp, but they’re working on completely different clients. He can help the temp with departmental procedures though.

        Thanks for the job hunt advice!

    6. Malarkey01*

      You have a ton of things that sound like they’ll end in the next month. With that in mind personally I wouldn’t add job searching into that. My free time would only be spent recharging for the next 30 days. Then once the audit, and the party, and the managers leave are all over, you can take a breath and start searching. Nothing is worse than prepping for an interview or answering application questions when you’re too tired or think.

      I agree with others to let some stuff slide. Set up your priority list and share it with boss for their agreement and then let the other stuff slide for awhile.

      1. MissBookworm*

        True! I know I’m jumping on this because I’m just so frustrated with this company (have been for years, but everything has been so much worse lately). A month really won’t make too much of a difference. Thank you!

    7. LastWorkDayof2019*

      This may be the hardest of all, but adjust your inner expectations to be more in line with reality. You don’t have the capacity OR the obligation to do all these things perfectly or as well as you know you can do them with adequate time and resources. You don’t have adequate time and resources and you’ll get done what you get done. And that is COMPLETELY FINE. Choose what’s truly most important to you, do what you can with the rest, and when some balls get dropped, you know what happened and why.

      Hang in there. You’ll find a new position and your new employer will be lucky to have someone with your internal drive, standards and work ethic. But in the meantime, cut yourself some slack.

      1. MissBookworm*

        Thank you! It is definitely hard! I hate letting people down—they’ve placed so much work with me because I’m good at my job and I don’t want them to think otherwise, but I just can’t keep doing all of this. I really need to work on my priorities and cover myself (as others have suggested as well) so that when I do let things slide it doesn’t fully come back on me.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve worked and job searched many, many times and it can be tough. Here are my tips.
      >Use the job board apps (Indeed is particularly good) on your phone to save jobs you’re interested in all week.
      >Pick 1 weeknight (like Wednesday night) and 1 weekend day (Saturday) to send your applications.
      >Be selective: Aim for just 3-5 applications per week. Go for quality over quantity.
      >Contact your personal network via LinkedIn if you can, and let them know you’re looking.
      >Keep 2-3 different “tailored” resumes on hand for different types of jobs (if applicable).
      For example: maybe one is a similar role, and one for stretch roles.

      Yes, it takes time! Try to carve out short breaks to peruse the job board search results, and save jobs you like. Be consistent with the 3-5 applications per week, and only to job you are REALLY interested in. Don’t waste time on the so-so ones right now given you’re employed. It does suck to use your weekend for this, but it’s important to take a little extra time on Saturday or Sunday to send out some applications. If you do it enough, you can actually get pretty quick at it once your resume and cover letters are kind of set up beforehand (I make only minor customizations for most job applications).

  5. Aspiring ex-lawyer*

    I would like to open a discussion about changing careers. I am a corporate attorney and really want to move to business development or management consulting. I have made it my New Year’s resolution that this will happen in 2020! Has anyone out there made a similar move? Any tips?

    1. Dan*

      This is where transferable skills are your friend. If you’re trying to break into something that you have *zero* professional experience in, that’s akin to starting fresh straight out of college. The trick is to parlay skills from your legal background into the fields you want to get into.

    2. Phoenix Programmer*

      I switched from science to finance.

      It took a while to get a job, and i was passed over for many roles that my resume just looked too weird for them.

      When i finally landed a role, i was surprised how much focus was put on the career change. Even a couple promotions into the same company a good 10-15 minutes was spent in interviews explaining why i left.

      I was only in that career for two years and was asked about it for 3 so i am not sure if they ask until you have been in the new career longer or if it is just about 3 years you have to be prepared for those questions.

    3. BeeGee*

      Definitely work on making a new resume where you highlight your skills and accomplishments so that it can be applied to your next role and career. In addition, think about perhaps going back to school for an MBA which can help position your resume to show you have some base-level business knowledge/education.

      I would also like to suggest a possible role/career: M&A. They always need lawyers for the contracts involved but it may be more exciting and involves business development!

    4. Ginger Baker*

      Maybe a first move would be to the BD department at a law firm? As I am sure you know, they consider it a huge bonus to have someone who understands the context and background of what the firm does and what, precisely, you are selling. If you want to get out of law-related stuff entirely, this might still be a great pit stop along the way to give you BD relevant job experience that can be your your stepping stone into BD somewhere else. Good luck!

    5. MuchNope*

      I have a data juggling skill set that is very transferable but still get questions about changes to different industries. My cover letters usually included a line like “from nuts & bolts to stocks & bonds…” which drew attention to the common aspects of the work and away from the seeming incongruity of the companies I worked for.

  6. Aldyn*

    I am a female, early 30s, working as a cyber security analyst. I’ve been in my current position for 18 months. It is my first job out of graduate school. I am very happy in this position and have a lot of opportunities for professional growth. I could foresee myself staying here for another 3-5 years, but some of my contemporaries are saying that individuals in tech should not stay in a role for more than 2-3 years because you risk making yourself seem “stale” or pigeonholed by prospective employers. Is this true?

    1. Groundhog Day*

      Every situation is different. But as long as you’re showing that you’re still learning and growing and your CV/resume shows that you have gotten more responsibilities and internal promotions, I don’t see a 3-5 years stint with the same employer as stale or pigeonholed. As long as you can tell compelling stories about your accomplishments and your skills and your progression, how long you stay at an employer shouldn’t be perceived automatically as a liability.

      1. Not Anxious at Work*

        This. You don’t want to not show growth, but as long as your organization isn’t going to be the type to only give promotions to outsiders, there can be power in being a long service person.

        Broad experience is nice, but so is deep.

    2. Dan*

      As Ground Hog Day says, every situation is different. I work in tech, and my advice is, if you like the job, the pay is good, and you’re getting professional growth, then by all means, stay. You don’t want to switch into a job that makes you miserable solely for the sake of having a new employer name on your resume.

      As an aside, switching companies may not necessarily be synonymous with switching roles. If you’re doing the same old thing at Job A, and then switch to doing the same old thing at Job B, you haven’t really changed roles.

      Another thing… for you to truly show impact in a role, you have to be there for a few years. These days, I typically work on projects that take a couple of years to really come to fruition. If I jumped ship after 2-3 years, I’d have *maybe* one or two significant contributions to really talk about at the next interview, which just isn’t enough to sell and really be compelling. But at 5-10 years? Now there’s some contributions and professional growth to discuss.

      Also, how big is your company? At big companies, you can transfer departments and what not, and professionally speaking, that’s akin to quitting for new opportunities.

      1. Aldyn*

        My company employs ~500 people – not large enough to transfer. But we are a privately owned company and our team is being groomed to take over security for the other 15 companies the owner had in Q4 2020, so we’ll be going from an SMB to enterprise level, 24 hour SOC.

    3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I’m not in tech, but as a general perspective (to add to the great comments above): Examine the careers of your contemporaries who are telling you this. Are they on career trajectories that you are interested in, either content-wise or directionally?

      Examine whether these are (or are not) folks who have experiences that would lend themselves to giving you thoughtful advice (versus regurgitating an echo chamber of “Everyone knows/says…”). I’m not saying your contemporaries are one way or the other (though I admit I have a bias to think they are an echo chamber).

    4. TechWorker*

      I am in tech and have been in the same company (not same role) 5 years, with some of the same concern. I get headhunted a *lot* so I don’t think it’s putting recruiters off so far! It’s worth trying to keep up to date with what at your company is standard practice and maybe what you might be missing out on, but if you like the job and are still learning then definitely don’t leave just to show variety.

    5. Ranon*

      My husband is a software engineer and during his last job hunt he was rejected by one company in part for having too long a tenure at his current one- but that tenure was a decade and the only other place he had ever worked as a software engineer was a summer internship. Plus the company that rejected him is apparently kind of imploding culturally while the new company he works for is great and he’s really enjoying it.

      Around five or so years it’s likely worth taking a step back and at least looking at other opportunities if you haven’t before then, but if like my husband you’re still well compensated, growing professionally, and doing work you find interesting and rewarding there’s not a lot of reasons to jump ship.

    6. AndersonDarling*

      I’m an analyst and staying with a company for 8 years was a strong factor on why I got many interviews when I left. Part of this was because I had strong achievements showing how I grew along the way. In your case, if you are in a industry like healthcare or financial institutions, then staying a long time will help you get a job in the same kind of industry. If I work at a bank, I want to hire a cyber security expert who has been working at banks for a long time. It would only be bad if you want to change from one industry to another.

    7. Snoop OP*

      My husband works in tech and heard the same thing. I think it’s only true if you are early in your career. If you are later in your career, as say a CTO or something, I think it would be a huge red flag to move every 2 or 3 years. You want the experience as you get older and if you are looking to move up and that’s stalled, I can see moving that frequently.

      For reference, though, my husbands mentor who is about 38 is well respected in the field (started some opensource GitHub thing as a youngin’) has been at three jobs since he was 22. He is constantly trying to be recruited but doesn’t like the corporate structure and is currently overseeing a code school, while doing code work for clients on the side.

    8. Shadowbelle*

      I’ve been in IT for over 40 years. Generally speaking, staying 3 – 5 years with one company is perfectly fine as long as your skills stay reasonably current with the developments in your industry. If your company is not staying current, leave.

      In my experience*, there are 2 reasons why people in tech frequently change jobs in the first part of their career.
      1. Boredom/stagnation
      2. Money

      ———————————————
      *In spite of rumors to the contrary, boomers did not start jobs out of college and assume they would stay with one company for their entire career. That’s a regional/industry/personality thing, not a generational thing.

    9. BadWolf*

      I think it depends on the economy and networking. I have tech friends who’ve picked up jobs pretty easily after 10+ years at the same company. Some of them went to companies where former coworkers recommended them and some not. If the economy is tight, I think it could have a higher negative effect.

      But I think people discount how important it is to stay somewhere long enough to service the tech you are producing. Having to debug my own stuff from the field definitely affects how I program/test/log/document things I’m working on because I’ve felt the pain not just of maintaining what others have done but the pain and reward when I did it poorly or well.

    10. Kiwiii*

      like with job-hopping in other industries, staying for “too long” and seeming “stale” is always going to be case by case. If you have a good reason for “why” and you continue to grow, it shouldn’t make much of a difference at all.

    11. AnonAcademic*

      I’m in the valley and here a lot of startups don’t last more than 2-3 years so short tenures are more normal. Doesn’t mean a longer tenure is a problem.

    12. Nicki Name*

      Part of the reason that the average tech job stint is around 2 years is that there are a lot of terrible tech employers out there that people try to leave quickly. If you like the job you’ve got, and there’s room to grow, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with it.

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. With any job, as long as you’re going the direction you want, stay as long as you are happy with it, IMO. There’s something to be said about building relationships, growing as a professional, and being really good at what you do. Look for opportunities to keep current and build your career path. Don’t go OR stay based on some arbitrary deadline.

    13. Raia*

      I’m a data analyst and am looking forward to departing after 4-5 years at my current company, just for the salary stagnation concern and to have multiple company experiences under my belt.

  7. LaughingRachel*

    I’ve been thinking about studing for and getting a Financial Risk Manager certification. Im curious if anyone here has gotten that and how/if it helped your career. And if so how did you study? I’m a book learner usually and have my eye on a couple books on Amazon but any input/advice/anecdotes would be greatly appreciated!

    1. BeeGee*

      A friend of mine has this certification, along with CAIA and CFA. I know he said that the FRM math was intense, but noted that it wasn’t too bad for him because he got his CFA first and there is a lot of overlap in the coursework.

      The Kaplan books are usually a top study material, but I will admit that for the CFA, it has been lacking the past few years and hasn’t been as thorough as it has been in years past (there were mistakes and some notable coursework that wasn’t covered as heavily compared to what was actually tested) so take that with a grain of salt.

      I can’t say for how it stands on it’s own as far as career advancement, but it is a respected designation in the field and I would think that it would be a big plus for more noteworthy roles.

  8. Bowserkitty*

    yessssss I finally get to post in a Friday thread! Today is my favorite coworker’s last day here and in true Japan fashion we will give her a goodbye gift of flowers. My dept head has secretly assigned me the job of giving them to her T___T

    She is one of my best friends so I’m gonna miss her like crazy but we hang out outside of work too. I’m so happy she is finally getting into a FT position with a proper salary and bonuses.

    Also we will all be cleaning the office today for the new year and I have the entire week off after this so I am sups excited.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Enjoy your week off! I’m on day 5 of my 10 day break, and I haven’t left my house yet! Lol. It’s wonderful and so refreshing to just do nothing.

      1. Bowserkitty*

        That sounds GLORIOUS. I am a definite introvert and the fact I have 9 days (including weekends, but still) to do almost nothing has me giddy. I did all of my cleaning last weekend so I don’t even need to do much of that.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          My time off included weekends too, and, ugh, I wish I had done what you did and did cleaning ahead of time because that’s what I did Monday morning, lol. I did not think that through…

  9. flow*

    I hope everybody’s having a good day/holiday! After hemming and hawwing for a week, I finally decided to prepare documents to try applying for Canada Express Entry since there is no harm in trying. I’ve read that it might take up to 6 months or more for the entire process, and I’m going to try to find remote/freelance work in the meantime… which brings me to another dilemma. I’m going to have an eye checkup on January 7th, to see if I qualify to be covered by government insurance to have a surgery. If I qualify, I’ll have to spend around 2-4 weeks afterwards to recover, probably having migraine/vertigo and unable to see monitors for too long. Is it okay to start looking for new jobs after I recover, or should I start now?

    Anyways, this is my last day at this office. THANK GOODNESS. My friend of 10+ years who employed me never asked me once about the reason or what went wrong that I resigned. I’ve read it here and there but I definitely learned the hard way in this office that some bosses just don’t care about how much you care about/did for the company, and they don’t care about your pay or career advancement, and they would rather save their own asses. It took me months of people telling me that she’s a horrible boss, and I kept defending her “she is also stressed out, she’s doing the best she can” oh my god. I hope nobody ever experienced what I did.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I’d start now. Job searching can take a long time, and surgery can take time to schedule. You might miss an interview due to recovery, but that’s better than waiting a couple of months to even start looking. And asking to delay an interview or start of a job because you’re recovering from minor eye surgery is pretty straightforward and easy to explain.

      It’s also be good to get applications in before the surgery, so you’ve got stuff out there when you aren’t able to spend much time writing cover letters and customizing your resume due to eye limitations.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Definitely agree with @AcademiaNut, start applying now. Interviewing cycles take way longer than anyone thinks. For example, I’m in the process for a job that aimed to hire someone late November. My third-round, in-person interview is early January, so who knows when they’ll find someone they like enough to send a job offer.

    3. NewCanadian*

      I got my Canada Express Entry. Be prepared for it to take well over a year. It did for me. There are SO many steps.

  10. Bstar0306*

    Anyone just not feeling like working/productive this week? I took Mon-Wed off and now Thurs and Fri i’m like meh is it the weekend yet? LOL

      1. LastWorkDayof2019*

        I’ve never wanted so badly to not be here. This last hour has been the longest week of my life.

    1. Cinnamon*

      So the upside to my stressful job is great benefits which includes Dec 20-Jan 1 off like a college break. It also means that no matter how hard I stick to a schedule and try to be productive, I hate going back and don’t want to do anything until I’ve readjusted to being in the office again (which is usually a week after). I wish there was some “get focused quick & stop procrastinating”pill.

      1. College Career Counslor*

        Careful what you wish for! I have a huge project with a lot of moving parts that involves students, faculty, parents, alumni staff for a three day program about five days after I’m back in the office. I’m enjoying my break now, but I know something will blow up in my face, so I’ll need to hit the ground running. That definitely forces me to get it together!

        Perhaps you could find something small and manageable to do as a “back in the office” activity (clean your desk, manage your email, update your resume?) to ease you back into the swing of things?

        1. Cinnamon*

          Yeah that’s a lot! My job generally won’t get busy until February.

          I’m thinking of taking care of my digital clutter and organizing all my files to be more efficient so fingers crossed!

    2. Liz*

      ME ME ME ME. I think its compounded by the fact that I’m off from jan 2-8. I worked all this week, aside from the holiday, and will work Mon and Tues of next week. it also doesn’t help that its DEAD in my office. so i’m having a hard time focusing so i can actually get some work done and catch up!

    3. Mockingjay*

      I’ve been working this week and have actually been very productive. Mainly because nearly everyone on the team took the week off! It’s been wonderful. I brought my tablet in and am streaming Prime while I work. Still, I’ve done more these past few days than I have in the last month or so.

    4. Angwyshaunce*

      Yes! I was going to request the rest of the week off, but my boss wants me to push forward on a project that’s not urgent. So I’m just work half days.

    5. Alternative Person*

      Completely. This whole month, honestly. It has been a rough year and I’m ready to have my week off.

    6. Wing Leader*

      Me. I was off all this week except today. Had to come in on a Friday after a long break, and I’m quite tired from travelling. Ugggh. Get me through this day.

    7. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, big NOPE on anything productive today. I did a lot on Monday but had off 3 days and it’s hard to get back into it today. Plus, everyone is gone and not responding.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I used to love the week between Christmas and New Year’s at OldExjob; I saved it for my annual file cleansing. Most of our customers took the entire week off, so it was the only time I could actually get stuff done without getting interrupted by the damn phone every five minutes.

      Right now, of course, I’d rather be working than not. Everyone seems determined to reject me. >:(

    9. H.C.*

      I actually look forward to this time period & am more productive esp w tasks requiring more focus & time, since there are fewer interruptions from colleagues & others. Also, the longer-than-usual lunch breaks ;)

    10. Gatomon*

      This week was excruciating. I regret not taking time off, or at least working from home so I didn’t have to go into the office. I’m not looking forward to post-holiday either when everyone panics about all the stuff not done during the prior two weeks and everything becomes a screaming emergency….

  11. Mira*

    So, something happened at work a couple days ago that has made me realise it’s impossible to continue here any longer. However, job hunting will take me a while, and I could really use some advice on how to – well, NOT quit in a rage before I’ve got something in hand.

    I had a one-on-one discussion with my boss, on certain things that I’m finding unreasonable – for example, he said he’d gotten some complaints that I don’t speak to people properly. But he refused to provide context or details or ANYTHING beyond just that. I let him know that without any context, I find it unreasonable to have to watch myself that much, considering that I might have my own version of events – not to mention it’s a FACT that this place has a culture of upholding brilliant jerks who get away with talking to people (especially women) as rudely as they want.

    I even added context that I get a LOT of condescending attitudes from people due to me looking far younger than I am, and cited an example where a dude literally had an about-face in his manner towards me the minute he found out I’m 30, not 23 like he’d thought – and clarified that this happens regardless of gender. The point being – without knowing what I said to someone that got taken the wrong way, I am not going to change my behaviour!

    And my boss, in his infinite non-confrontational wisdom decided to report to my grandboss that apparently I’m complaining that men and women get treated differently here.

    My grandboss and I had a “discussion” about this on Tuesday. Where he basically told me that he’d “lost his s**t” when my boss made his report on Friday, and that I was lucky that my boss made him wait a couple days till he’d cooled down before talking to me – otherwise he “would have made me cry” and “I would have been crying, because of how pissed off he’d gotten.”

    I just about managed to keep my mouth shut (though I couldn’t help the extremely highly raised eyebrow at a grown man telling another grown women that he’d have made her cry….for what?) I do know that I’m liable to lose MY temper any day now. And I would much rather avoid any unpleasantness. The sad reality is, HR is useless, there are no employement laws or tribunals like the US has – and all I can do is stick it out till I have a new job. I can’t complain to anyone, or else they’ll find some way of making me resign inside of a fortnight – I’ve seen it happen before to people, especially women, who have complained about their senior managers.

    But at the same time, I’m finding it SO hard to project even a semblance of caring about my job ever since this happened. Any advice here would be greatly appreciated. Also, apologies if this was a little incoherent – I’m still furious.

    1. Ms.Vader*

      I have been there where I get generic feedback but absolutely no concrete examples. I’m just here to commiserate and say I totally understand your feelings and they are valid. I have just stated that I can’t comment on something that I have no knowledge of so it can’t form part of my review. But we all know it does.

      You’re bosses are a bunch of asses. They must have a whole factory of them.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I think that kind of feedback is code for one of two things:

        The first is “I don’t like Diana for no good reason and I want her gone so I’m just going to say ‘someone complained’ so I have something to put in the file.”

        The second is “I don’t know how to manage and I can’t handle conflict, so I’m not going to bother getting to the bottom of this vague complaint from Etta about Diana. She probably knows what she did, so I’ll just push it off on her.”

        It’s total bullshit.

    2. Cinnamon*

      I’m having a severe eyebrow raise also at you being yelled at.
      Not sure if this will work for you but when I was in the situation of having no interest in my job going well I did a “fake it till you make it” 180. I woke up the next day and basically coached myself through the day thinking hey of I don’t actually care then I’ll remove all emotion from my job and act like I’m the best damn representative they have. It’s easier to make decisions when it seems like you’re going by the book and not singling things out. It did involve me decompressing A LOT after work because it was basically an act but it helped me get through a short period.

      1. Mira*

        Yeah – I tried doing that LAST year, after my then-grandboss got drunk at a team dinner and spent 45 minutes screaming at me inside the restaurant. What happened was that eventually the anger went away, and I ended up finding reasons to stay even longer, which has led to my total quality of life breaking down.

        In the last year alone, they’ve taken away one of our two free Saturday’s a month, I got assigned ANOTHER full-time job on top of my already existing one (and this new work involves things I have never done before in my entire 10-year career, and which I expressly noted that I dislike even the idea of doing, it goes so utterly against everything I enjoy working on. Plus, last month my boss got an award for a project *everyone* knows I led and delivered almost completely solo.

        At this point it’s more like – how do I stop myself from turning up an hour or more late daily, and not looking actively disinterested and fed-up. :/

        1. StellaBella*

          Oooooh-kaaaaay. Screamed at you? In a restaurant? For 45 minutes? Other people present, too?

          Your boss and grandboss are not good managers or leaders.

          You only scream if there is a fire, or someone is having a medical emergency and needs help, or there is another emergency type situation going on. Screaming at work is Not OK ever. WTF?

          YOU need to realise that YOU are valuable as a person and as a worker. You need to examine these excuses, make a commitment to yourself to get on a track to leave this hellmouth, and plan it out and then do it. Find another gig before you get too abused and suffer more.

          Each day, at lunch go outside if you can. Take a walk, read a book, disconnect, look on Indeed, Glassdoor, local job sties, newspaper sites etc and clean up and improve your LinkedIn if you have it. Do a small thing each day to get one foot in front of the other to get out of dodge in 6 months, or less. Wishing you the best of luck.

          1. Mira*

            This was a different grandboss – we had an organisational restructure this January and the “would have made you cry” comment was from my new grandboss.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              He sounds just as bad, though, if he thought that “would have made you cry” was in any way, shape, or form an appropriate thing to say to a subordinate or colleague! And your boss stealing credit for your work? Agh!!

              Your workplace has a toxic management culture problem. I implore you to spend one night a week actively job-hunting until you find something else.

            2. Kat in VA*

              I’m such a heathen savage that I probably would have retorted, “TELL HIM I SAID TO BRING IT ON.”

              Then again, I like to fight. But if someone attempted to shut me down by telling me that a grandboss would have made me cry, that would get my hackles up and my fangs out so fast their heads would spin.

              Step outside professional norms and don’t be surprised if those lowly subordinates respond in kind.

              1. Mira*

                It was the grandboss himself who told me that he’d make me cry. My boss was present during that conversation, but he didn’t say a word.

          2. Mira*

            Also, thank you for the suggestions! I actually have started coming home for lunch as many days as I can as I have a kitten I’ve just got! And I find that those days are INFINITELY more bearable. I’m going to make that a habit. :) And possibly use said time to trawl LinkedIn for jobs. *mutters*

    3. spock*

      That sucks! I’m going through a milder version of this, nothing as awful as your workplace but I know I’m not going to stay. I try to just repeat “I’ll be gone in a year, is this worth getting worked up about” to myself. I think of it as just doing myself the favor of not worrying about the things I can’t (easily) change and do find that it helps bring my stress levels down which does let me perform better for now while I look elsewhere.

      1. Mira*

        Hmm, that’s what I’ve been trying to do but being basically threatened by a man who’s twice my size and holds my job in his hands has me…all kinds of angry and shook up. I’m worried that I’m not going to be able to maintain my mask, for lack of a better word.

        1. Alternative Person*

          What helped me was rehearsing.

          Practice saying whatever your story/line are. You can do it in front of a mirror, but I find it more effective to close my eyes and visualize. I used this recently to get through a difficult meeting where a senior manager wanted me to take partial responsibility for my co-worker bullying me. In particular, I used the line ‘I will not take responsibility for being bullied by my co-worker’.

          Same for stock responses.
          – Could you give me an example.
          – How would you like me to handle this in the future?
          – I’m concerned out X because Y.

          Another thing that helps me is taking notes helps because it splits my focus and means my mouth is less likely to get ahead of my brain (I’m waiting to tender my resignation right now). Or if movement helps you, a friend swore by running her foot back and forth on the floor and answering after going back and forth two or three times in stressful situations.

          Practice your poker face. You can do this by accessing twitter and trying not to react to whatever is trending. I used to stare at cats and see who blinked first (make sure you catch up on blinking later). This is really unnerving if you get it right, for added uneasyness, when you make eye-contact, look at only one eye.

          Music also helps me, I put on my favourite tunes before and after to help centre myself.

          Most of all be kind and forgiving to yourself, I cried after my most recent meeting with senior management, then after work I ate some cake and watched some comfort TV. Remember it will have an end and work towards that.

    4. Hiding my identity for this one*

      This is a little petty: I’ve checked-out of my job and I handle it with the evil thought that, “When I leave, this is all going to crash and burn around them because they aren’t smart enough to listen and learn.”

      At the same time, I am providing documentation and trying to teach them, just so I can feel high-and-mighty when they fail to absorb any of it, so I can say to myself “I tried to help you, but…”

      …okay, re-reading that, this is super petty. It gets me through the day, though! And other days, I just fake it and, since no one knows what I do, no one knows that I didn’t actually do any work (besides handling emergencies). Ugh, I’m a terrible employee…

      1. ellex42*

        I tend to think of bad/irresponsible employers like addicts: there’s really not much you can do to help until they admit they have a problem.

    5. nep*

      Your grandboss said he ‘would have made you cry’? What a jack ass. Jeeeeeez.
      Sorry you’re having to face this at your job. I hope you’ll be able to find resolution soon.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        At my last Toxic Job I was called into the office by my boss, my manager/bootlicker, my union rep and me. The complaint against me was I wasn’t smiling enough. I hid my face because I was laughing, they thought I was crying which made me laugh even more. I had already decided to quit that job and this was the icing on the cake. I had to agree that “going forward” I would smile more.

        1. Hell in a Teacup*

          I don’t believe in using this card in most cases but I would play it so fast in this context:

          My mom has cancer but sure, I’ll smile because you want me to.

          If they tell me to leave my problems at the door I’d start bawling.

    6. ellex42*

      He claims he would have made you cry?! My eyebrows have disappeared into my hairline.

      I get the age thing as well and have made it a point to find a way to mention my age – 45, not 30-35 like most people seem to think. People keep telling me to take it as a compliment, but when there’s a marked difference in the way people treat me based on how old they think I am vs. how old I actually am…I don’t feel complimented.

      One coworker whose behavior towards other women who are significantly younger than her is particularly obvious has now been reminded 3 times that I’m only a couple of years younger than her.

      I have no advice except to take a deep breath, remember that these people’s opinions are not worth a pigeon’s bowel movement, nod and say “I’ll take that under advisement” when you get stupid feedback, and start job-hunting as soon as you can.

      1. Fikly*

        There’s an underlying issue here: why is it ok to treat younger people as less than older people based only on age?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In part, I think older people push back quicker. I noticed that too as I have aged, I hear less crap. I don’t get the one liners that telegraph the speaker thinks I am sooo stupid. There are still AHs out there, but I think they go where they think they will have an easier time of being High and Mighty.

          I will never, ever forget what it was like to be 20 and just starting out. And I will never forget how it seemed like a good number of the people were rude/condescending/etc. There was an overtone of, “We know you are going to screw this up so why wait until you actually do screw it up….” In training I have noticed some of the younger people are kind of holding their breaths waiting to see what kind of a person I am. I DO understand where this comes from.

        2. CM*

          This. I had one job where everyone was convinced I was ten years younger than I was, and I was always torn between trying to remind them we were a similar age vs wondering why they thought it was okay to talk to someone younger that way.

      2. Jay*

        My private practice was acquired by a hospital and merged with a practice that included two male docs. One was a very nice guy who clearly decided to take me under his wing, thinking I was a year or two out of residency. I struggled to find a nice way to set the record straight and finally had the chance in a discussion about real estate, of all things. I said “I wish I’d bought a house when I finished med school. 1986 was a good year to buy in CA.” He suddenly realized I was a year *older* than he was. Instant change of approach.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A former manager used to hold quarterly one on one’s where I’d get poor feedback on interpersonal issues. It took two YEARS before I finally got it through to her that I need her to give me IMMEDIATE feedback. If Fergus comes in and says “Seeking did X and it’s a problem”, I need her to tell me that day, or at least that week. And I really did say “I’ve been asking for this for 2 years. Have I given you any indication that I would retaliate on the person with a complaint?” She did a complete double-take and agreed to give it a try.
      Sometimes I said “OK I’ll go apologize, do you think Y would work instead?”
      But more often I pointed out that I did X “because you (or grandboss or head of other department) specifically instructed me to …and could you help me explain to Fergus that this X did not come from me?” And frequently it was “Wakeen is complaining that I don’t want to research XYZ, but their department manager just reminded us that it’s his group’s responsibility and he doesn’t want us touching it for legal reasons. Plus it would make me miss your ABC deadline.”
      I had told her that by hearing the specifics in a timely manner, I could learn…what she didn’t expect is that SHE would learn too.
      Good luck….sorry for the length, it was a sore spot.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That predetermined assumption that you were wrong just because you were a younger person still grates though. This is NOT how to treat people. In your story here though, the boss is living the stereotype of the older person who will not try new things or will not try to understand what is being said. grrr.

    8. I Have All Of The Questions*

      I am so sorry. I am in a similar situation but I am HR and I’ve been trying to work with management but what I say goes in one ear and out the other.

      It’s frustrating and I hate getting up every day and I end up disassociating pretty frequently throughout the day to make it or making lists of places to check for jobs every day or what I should make for dinner this week because I don’t have the brain space to fight anymore.

      I can still nod and do my basic job skills but I’m not actively searching after projects anymore. I scheduled all our training for the end of 2019 and 2020 months ago and I’m hoping that gets me through to the next job.

      I think you might want to look around and look at some of the culture red flags and see if you can pick them up from outside so if you interview elsewhere, you can avoid it. I’ve had bad jobs before but I definitely want to avoid any culture somewhat similar to where I am now and it sounds like you feel that way too.

    9. Rayray*

      I’m also struggling in a similar way.

      I’m in a situation where my boss definitely isn’t just flat out rude to me, but she also doesn’t seem to respect me at all. I think she’s unaware of how the way she has set up my job and the way she speaks to me actually affects me. Like you, I also look much younger than I am. I’m 30, and people gasp and are genuinely shocked when I reveal my age. I could easily pass for 19, though I am noticing a few signs of aging lately, but I don’t have a mature womanly look at all. I’m already the youngest our floor by 15 years or so which doesn’t help either.

      I too am trying to bare with the job till I figure something else out. My boss can definitely be kind but I’ve had enough with her and her moments. I started the job in April. I cried two different times on my drive home in the beginning because of her lack of patience and how unreasonable she was. Literally yelled at me in front of others for mailing something out regular when it should have gone out certified even though she didn’t tell me. She literally said “Didn’t you hear me tell Joe it had to go out certified?” I am not Joe. I wasn’t in that conversation.

      So many other things. Swore in front of me when a fixable error was made. I’m not a pearl clutcher, but for someone who went off on me for unprofessional behavior so many times, it’s a bit rich. (my offenses include : keeping a thtoe blanket on my chair because the a/c was kept down to frigid temperatures in the summer and I wore dresses to be with the business professional dress code, not saying goodbye to someone on another floor because I was concentrating on my work)

      I’m just going to stop… I’ve gone on a tangeant. Just do your best to cope and find time to polish your resume. There are many great tips on this website. I have also found some job forums where people help too.

      1. Kiwiii*

        I got “in high school” a lot when I started a supervisory (retail) job at 23 and it was like management had already decided my skillset and abilities and didn’t think I could do the work they’d hired me for. Claimed all sorts of nonsense, gave me inconsistent information, got sniped at by just about every department. Shouldn’t have stayed there as long as I did, but getting a shitty review at the end of the year really opened my eyes (because not only did I Hate the job and they way they treated me, they were going to keep on claiming in documentation that I was bad at it). Job hunted in earnest from then, politely smiling and not investing any additional energy into anything. Nearly anywhere is better than abusive workplaces.

    10. Kiwiii*

      my one piece of advice is to so much to keep your cool (though, you absolutely have to – just remove any emotional investment you have to any of it, if you can – they’re not your monkeys anymore; you don’t have to care about them) but rather to hold onto this anger and disrespect and remember it when things seem like they’re in a lull or like they might be getting a little better or they aren’t bothering you as badly for a week or two. I know that I’ve stayed in jobs past dozens of red flags for like 3x as long as I should have because the week after they screamed at me in front of people I was supervising, they gave me a little extra help on a project or they let me take on a task I liked or whatever. You both shouldn’t and can’t stay in a place the way they’re treating you.

    11. Fikly*

      Vague feedback with no concrete examples is unreasonable. Full stop. It’s not you finding it unreasonable.

      It just is, because as you noted, it’s impossible to act on it, and it just makes you paranoid about everything. It sets you up for failure and being fired, because now there’s a paper trail of you being told you are doing something wrong, but they’ve made it impossible for you to improve.

      1. Paquita*

        I had a ‘counseling’ late last year about ‘careless errors’. When I asked for specifics all I got was ‘you need to pay more attention’. In the follow-up talk I had improved! I never changed anything I was doing. :( Still don’t know what kind of errors I was making.

    12. Post Cologne*

      That’s awful, no wonder you are so upset. No one would want to be treated like that by their manager. I’m sorry that happened to you and I hope you find something better soon. I got similar vague, unconstructive feedback about how I spoke to colleagues. I think it happens a lot to women when they’re being assertive. Women get told they sound aggressive, shrill, bossy or harsh, but when men say similar things, they’re praised for showing strength, leadership and confidence. It’s unconscious bias, plain and simple. Like you, I needed to find something else before I could resign. This is what I did: every day, I told myself that my sexist employer was funding my job search. I welcomed every paycheck from them as another investment in my hunt for employment elsewhere. I used breaks, lunches, evenings and weekends to set up, review and apply to job alerts. I thought of work as the eight hours in between my most important task, which was finding new employment. Good luck to you.

    13. June First*

      In one of my first management jobs the owner seemed determined to thwart me at every turn. I remember telling staff that since we couldn’t have the support of the owner, we were going to have an amazing facility in spite of the owner. Probably not the most professional to tell them, but it seemed to work.

      It’s probably time to start viewing your bosses/coworkers as an alien species that mildly interests you. “You would have made me cry? What an odd thing to say. Are you feeling all right? Do you need the EAP?”
      Bonus points if you can sound concerned.
      And congrats on the kitten!

      1. Mira*

        Oooh, this is a great suggestion, thank you. Kill them with kindness, got it – though I am internally laughing at how the conversation would have gone if I’d pulled out the “Are you okay? card! And how I wish I’d actually done it!

        And you’re right – I have already started to find myself feeling like an observer rather than a participant, with the team in general. Now to just detach myself completely – it helps that I don’t really have a lot of respect left for my manager, either, after that talk, though I’ll be damned if I let him know how much that conversation got under my skin.

    14. Thankful for AAM*

      1. Create a spotify or other playlist that puts you in the right frame of mind for work. Mine has things like Under Pressure, I won’t back down, Bad Reputation. Songs that fire me up to cope at work.
      2. Develop your life outside work.
      3. Develop the detachement to view events at work as an outside observer – AAM talks about this all the time but it is hard to do. It just clicked for me one day.

      1. Mira*

        That last is so hard to do – I’m kind of getting there, but I think I need to get there faster, for my own sanity. Part of the reason my job hunt hasn’t really taken off is because just dealing with work saps all my energy and motivation.

    15. CM*

      This sucks and I’m sorry it’s happening to you.

      I see two options: 1 accept that you’re already fired and treat every day you stay employed as an unexpected bonus. Act however you want and wait to see how long it takes the axe to fall.

      2 torture endurance strategy — accept you have no hope of surviving and just try to make what’s happening as painless as possible by cooperating and not fighting back.

      The first one is worse for you financially and the second one is worse for you psychologically. There’s no actual good option because you’ve been placed in a situation where only bad things can happen.

  12. Leave me alone already!*

    Starting a business is usually described as being, “Much harder than you think.” Starting my own business has opened my eyes up to what in fact that actually means. And none of the business books spells it out, either. In reality, it means your competitors will stomp you down and look for ANY means to break your spirit so you go away.

    This last 2 years has been an exhausting time of responding (or not) to erroneous solicitor’s letters, fielding calls from competitors pretending to be potential customers, nasty SMS from unknown numbers, people sending screenshots of non-existent websites that claim you’re illegal, getting calls from actual potential customers saying our competitors tell them we’re running a shady operation. I could go on, but it’s sooooooo tedious dealing with all of this shit.

    It’s hard enough to get your company off the ground without all the harassment. In the end, it boils down to – if the competitor’s service offering is good, then they have no reason to worry. So it’s always the cowboy operators that do this and I have learned to ignore it.

    Any other business owners have the same experience?

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Just wanted to say, awesome job for recognizing this as the toxic B.S. it is and for ignoring it!

      That seems like such a waste of time and energy they should instead put into, I don’t know, making their business and product/services better? Maybe? /sarcasmmode

      1. Fikly*

        These places generally do not know how to improve their product/services, or if they do, they find it cheaper to intimidate others out of business, and then sell their less good product/services.

    2. Mazzy*

      At my last company when we were trying to open a branch in a new market, the existing competitor, which got very comfortable and sloppy, would just lie to customers. They were mishandling a huge non-profit customer and we had that customer call the competitor on speaker phone and not say that we were in the room. They said we were being sued and going out of business! No such thing was happening, and we actually had a more diverse book of business than competitor so were the stronger ones! But since we couldn’t really prove that a complete lie wasn’t true, it took a full two years for the customer to realize that they had been lied to

    3. Anon Here*

      Yes! And it’s good to hear that I’m not alone.

      I’ve made the same observation – it’s always less professional individuals going after ones who are running a solid operation and offering something of value. And it’s a moving target. Different people fall into that role at different times. The constant PR battle is exhausting.

      A few things I’ve learned that have helped me:

      1) If you’re dealing with this, it means that your competitors see you as a threat yet vulnerable enough to be worth your energy. Use the value that they’re threatened by to step up your game, whether that means pitching to investors or applying for grants/loans or reaching out to more customers . . . use that value to your advantage to grow.

      2) A lot of the attackers are indeed average Jane-Joe’s who are easily intimidated. If you ignore them and keep doing what you do, most will back off, and some will turn around and become your biggest supporters. People they can’t successfully bully earn their respect. That doesn’t mean you have to do business with them. But see it as a gate to pass through.

      3) You will always be under attack, but who it’s coming from says a lot about where you are. As you become more successful, you’ll be attacked by more successful people (though, again, usually the less professional ones). There will be moments when you think, “Woah, why is this well known person going after me?” It’s ultimately a sign that they see you moving into threat territory for them. It’s a sign that you need to network with equally successful people with whom you can have a mutually beneficial business relationship.

      4) Read up on PR strategies. Consider hiring someone to help you there. Usually, you ignore anything minor (almost everything) and develop a strategic public response for anything more serious. Look at the way companies you respect handle this and learn from their examples.

      5) Don’t let people throw you off. Stay authentic. People will do things like accusing you of one thing so you’ll react by going in the opposite direction, and then they’ll use that reaction against you. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

      6) Focus your energy on your supporters! On your product! On all the positive aspects of the experience. Keep making it more of a positive experience and reaching more people. Increasing the positive impact that you have, from small details to larger scale things. Make improvements every day. That goes a long way, and it’ll carry you past a lot of the negative stuff.

    4. Hawkeye is in the Details*

      A friend of mine left her previous employer to open a shop that is competition, but far enough away in distance that it’s not a major threat. The real threat was that she was the reason people loved previous employer’s shop so much, and she kept the owner’s horrible management at bay as best she could. So previous employer is feeling the heat.

      A governmental regulatory agency paid her new shop a visit “out of the blue.” There’s no proof of course, but we’re pretty sure previous employer called in a “tip.”

      1. Leave me alone already!*

        Agreed! A friend started a construction company and the DOL investigated them as a result of false OSHA complaints. Hope your friend’s business succeeds.

    5. Moi*

      I’m afraid I don’t, but I appreciate your post a lot. My husband is looking to start his own business in the semi-near future, and I have no idea this kind of thing happens.

  13. Daria Grace*

    I’m trying to get a sense of how unusual my offices policies about granting leave are so I’d love to know how it works elsewhere. How far in advance do you have to apply for leave in peak and non-peak periods? How often are your requests declined? How strict are your managers about the number of people on leave at once?

    1. spock*

      I think this will vary wildly by whether or not “coverage” is a thing. I work as a web developer so if the whole team asked for this week off we’d probably get it, but it’s not super comparable to my friend who does reception at a hospital. What’s normal in my office would be very unusual at hers.

      1. Daria Grace*

        We’re an office where while the team as a whole is quite specialised (so we couldn’t usually fill from outside the team) there’s lots of people within the team who are capable of most tasks so we don’t quite need one to one coverage, just some people around who can do the things.

    2. Dan*

      I work in a technical role (think data analyst/software development) but the type of work that my teams do is, for the most part, rather specialized in that if Person X isn’t around, then Person X’s tasks don’t get done. So coverage isn’t a thing. If the whole team is out, then the whole team is out. So be it.

      At my org, getting leave approved isn’t really a thing. We just inform the team when any of us won’t be in the office, and that’s that. Notice is appreciated if the leave happens around some sort of deadline, but it’s never denied. They just like to plan around an absence/know something won’t be getting done. (Or get it done if it is in fact critical.)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I work in a similar technical/academic role. Most of my work is long term project based – coverage is not an issue, but my work interacts with other people, and there are international meetings, on-site work visits and visitors that need to be worked around. So we’re expected to keep work schedules in mind when planning vacations.

        We’re supposed to apply for vacation time at least a week in advance (we have personal days for last minute stuff like plumbers, and sick leave is a separate category). Usually when I plan a vacation, I’ll check in with my supervisor to make sure we don’t have anything time critical during that period, or the possibility of work travel, before booking tickets. With this method I’ve never had anything denied. For international trips (I live abroad from my family), I book a couple of months in advance, so it’s not last minute. Local stuff is more flexible.

        My workplace is generally pretty reasonable about it all – I wouldn’t be asked to cancel pre-planned trips due to stuff coming up. We also have to use up our leave by the end of the calendar year, so we’re encouraged to plan our time off.

        We have an integrated computer system for all leave and travel – the same interface is used to apply for work travel, sick leave, vacation and other leave (funeral leave, etc). It automatically subtracts from the appropriate leave, passes the request to our supervisor and then the admin level, and updates the out of office page.

        1. Kiwiii*

          I’m in a technical team at a nonprofit, and while it’s definitely expected that I plan around things like client meetings and my role in larger projects, I can’t think of a time leave would have to be “approved”. I’d just have to make sure my manager was aware and that it was in my calendar.

    3. TechWorker*

      Agree it’s v context dependent. Current workplace: v chill, I was nearly denied leave once because a project was too busy (which tbh amazed me, I was requesting over a month in advance and only for a couple of days) but in the end was allowed to take it (and irrc actually moved off the project before that particular deadline happened anyway). Otherwise we try to be as flexible as possible and it’s common for lots of people to be on leave at once. I remember my manager telling me to text him if need be once because he and another senior person were out the same week – but in general we try to have enough experience to cover. Half the company at least will take a full two weeks at Christmas (yay!).

      My job before uni was reception, there were two of us and we absolutely could not take the same days off, nor the same as our manager (who would have to cover breaks if one of us was on pto). My manager once let me take days off around a bank holiday (because I’d made it from Xmas to Easter with no PTO taken) and the other employee got annoyed because she thought that wasn’t the ‘policy’. Two is not that difficult to organise though and I don’t remember anyone being particularly strict with how it was assigned. I also wasn’t there that long though so I think it would have been more annoying eventually!

    4. Kate H*

      I have to apply for vacation two weeks in advance no matter what time of year it is. My request has never been denied. My entire team (there’s only three of us, counting my boss) could be off at the same time, and has at least once. Upper management wouldn’t be happy about it because they like at least one of us to be at beck and call, but it’s unlikely that it would be an actual problem.

      My wife has the exact same position on another team, but the nature of her responsibilities means that there has to be coverage at all times. They have the same two-week rule but only two people are allowed to be off at a time (it’s a five-person team) and it’s first-come, first-served.

    5. Kate*

      We get asked once a quarter for our wish list for the next quarter, but we can still make ad hoc requests throughout the quarter. The difference is that with the plans for the next quarter, my manager takes the lead on deconflicting everyone’s requests, juggling workload to make it work, etc. but for the ad hoc requests, it’s up to you to handle making it work.

      Out of everyone on my team, I have the most restrictions on my vacation time due to the specific nature of my job. On one hand, it’s a pain in the butt, but on the other, I know those restrictions in advance and I have found my manager to be very understanding/flexible about trying to make it happen at the other times.

    6. Picard*

      I work on a two member team. We coordinate so that one of us is always here since one of the duties is reception/phone coverage. We’re supposed to ask two weeks in advance. That said, my boss allows us the freedom to determine our days as long as there is coverage so I’ve never had a vacation request denied.

    7. Daria Grace*

      Thanks for the responses everyone. Why I ask is they usually require 2-6 months notice but currently want us to put in requests through to November. Requests are frequently denied. That seems weird to me

      1. Ms.Vader*

        We put our formal requests for vacation in December to cover all the next year (Jan-Dec) – we call it our vacation bid. You must request at least one full week off. Any requests after the “bid” period, is adhoc and can be done any time. Sometimes we do get denied if too many people want the same time.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I worked for a place that seemed pretty much willy-nilly like you show here.

        I suggested taking a calendar and blocking off dates that all requests would be denied, everyone had to show up on those dates. The next thing I suggested is to announce what the limit was as to how many people could be out at a given time. The magic number was 2 people. So a person could see there were already two people requesting a particular day off and that person could just pick another day instead of waiting the the denial on the request.

        Eventually, and I do mean eventually because this was a Process, TPTB realized it was okay for people to leave an hour or two early at the end of the day. This freed up slots where people could catch a late doctor’s appointment or whatever else.

        That left the last problem of seniority bumping a request. We settled that out by just agreeing among each other that we would not bump each other without talking to the person being bumped first. I accidentally bumped someone. They came over to me and said they had already bought the plane tickets. I withdrew my request.

        Because requests were handled so poorly in the beginning it took a few years to hammer out these simple procedures to make everyone’s life easier.

        We did have one problem that management never really thought about. All of us had been in place for a while, so we had plenty of time off allotted each year. Check out the math on this one: Let’s say there is a department of 5 people. On average, each person has 4 weeks of paid vacation PLUS sick time each year. Because the vacation time is a set number, we can just focus on that part to get an idea of what is going on here. Five people having four weeks off a year is twenty weeks per year, almost half the year, that the department is down a person. This does not include sick time so it’s a number greater than 20 weeks a year that the department will be down a person.
        What happened next was the competition for days off was surprising fierce, with constant requests for time off. At least with a calendar in place people would not waste time applying for time off that could not be granted. I really thought they needed to hire another person to cover all the PTO.

    8. LQ*

      To start, I work in government, and in a union. My division is really strict because the largest 2 of the 3 units have a lot of coverage that has to be really carefully maintained. The union has gotten really pushy when folks in the 3rd unit don’t have to follow the same rules even though there is a pretty strong difference, so everyone has to follow the same policies. There is a set day where holiday leave can start to be requested and if you don’t request on day 1 you’re unlikely to get it. Managers follow really strict requirements for coverage which is a percent of staff so in other areas the percent per team is followed.

      Managers themselves have basically a buddy that they aren’t supposed to be both on leave at the same time (the other manager covers you work when you are out) and management definitely gets denied time off occasionally too.

    9. MinotJ*

      I’m in the medical field in a job that requires coverage. Vacation requests must be submitted 1.5 months in advance, but longer lead time makes it less likely to be denied. Unless somebody else (or two people, depending on the shift) is already going to be on vacation at that time, requests up to two weeks are so are granted. But we earn a delightful amount of PTO (I earn over five weeks each year and usually sell some off.)

      1. Jay*

        Also medical with coverage needed. I’m part of a three-person team that pairs with another three-person team. We’re not supposed to have more than two of the six off at any given time, but we’ve managed with three off without much difficulty. They floated a policy last year that would have required vacation requests be submitted no more than one month in advance. That was dead on arrival since most of us need to plan family trips further in advance to get airfare and hotel reservations, especially for holiday and summer vacations.

        For vacation, it’s first come, first served. I check with the other five folks in my area to see if anyone else is planning to take the same time. So far (two years) have never had a request denied. For CME, I pretty much just announce that I’m going, since I go to specialized conferences that only happen once or twice a year. We get four weeks of PTO plus two floating holidays plus volunteer days and three days of CME time – not as much CME as my previous job but enough to make it work, since if I’m presenting they let me use the volunteer days as well.

    10. Liz*

      I don’t have to actually request anything; my group is small, and the general rule is only one of us, my boss and I, can be off at the same time, barring any emergency. And our boss will jump in an help out, when necessary, and is pretty flexible too.

      So generally the way it works is we have a calendar, which is actually for our grandboss, and includes other groups besides ours. we just put our time on it, and if its going to be say longer than normal, such as my two weeks fora vacation this summer, we generally give each other a heads up.

      That being said, we are all good about not taking time off when we know something is going on, etc. but also have the flexibility to come in and say “hey, i’m taking tomrorow off, is that ok?”

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I don’t know that we have an official policy, barring “not the day-of if it can be helped”, but my personal rule of thumb is a minimum of one day per day off? so if I wanted two days off, I’d do my best to ask for it at least two days ahead of time. (Though in practice, I use pretty much all my PTO on traveling, so I have much more notice than that.) My boss has never straight-up declined one of my requests, though when I put in a request for the week between Christmas and New Years last year, she sat on it for a while and was happy when I changed my mind and withdrew it. (End of year is our busiest time.)

      I’m part of a 3 person management team (manager and two leads, I’m one of the leads), so as long as one of the three of us is in and nobody’s left lone-rangering for more than a day or two at a time, the three of us don’t worry too much about overlapping PTO. Our reporting team is 26 people, and I think the goal is not to have more than ten out at any given time?

    12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Has anyone else’s job ruined the holidays? I’m on call and had to go out Christmas day and my mother was a nervous wreck. I got into a fight with my parents because I can’t let them drive me to client’s homes! I have no idea what to do about this. I’m doing social work but I’m not a social worker

      1. Alex*

        I don’t understand the connection between your having to go to work on Christmas and your mother driving you…she knows you drive yourself the other days of the year, right?

    13. Alex*

      For more than two days in a row, we have to ask two weeks in advance, but for highly desirable times people might request a year in advance. (That is how I keep getting shut out of a week I want!!! UGH!)

      My boss tells us that she prefers if only one person is out at a time (we are a team of five). This is stupid because there are practically no coverage issues, but she likes to pretend our work is important (it isn’t). That said, if there is a circumstance where two people have good reasons to be out she will grant both. You get shamed if you request time when someone else has already requested it, but it may or may not be granted.

    14. Malarkey01*

      We have key deadlines each month, and larger ones at the end of the year and it’s generally known not to take off then unless it’s really unavoidable and there’s no flexibility. For everything else our general policy is to ask off before you book flights/non refundable travel. If we approve leave for you before you book the travel and a project blows up unexpectedly the company pays for your travel- that only happens once every few years, but because of that people usually submit leave 6 months out for big trips (for everything else it’s a month out for a week or a few days for a sporadic single day off). Coverage is typically not a thing but if you’re working on one of our huge (multi multi million dollar) projects you do need to be more available for last minute emergencies.

    15. LGC*

      Peak is about two weeks to a month, depending on how long you’re asking off. Non-peak is two days to two weeks. (Generally, my rule of thumb is amount of time off *2 w/r/t notice.)

      I have not had a request turned down yet…but that’s because I’m exceedingly mindful of when I ask for time off. We’re pretty strict about having certain staffing levels (basically, every room has to have a supervisor on staff), and the times I really want time off (basically, mid-spring and mid-fall) aren’t high-demand.

    16. Teacher Lady*

      I have almost only worked in positions where coverage is a necessity (for legal/safety, as well as workload, reasons), so while last-minute emergencies and illnesses are obviously accommodated, we are very reasonably asked to plan carefully for known absences. My current job requires at least 72 hours’ advance request for a planned day off (personal or sick time, ex. to go to an appointment), but my boss strongly encourages us to put in for time off as soon as we know we’ll need it. She is also allowed (by company policy) to automatically deny any requests that come in once we reach 5% of the staff out on a given day, although there have been a few instances since I’ve worked there of granting emergency time off even if we have reached capacity. I have never had a time off request flat out denied, but I am also a HUGE planner and always request any potentially troublesome days off (ex. days before/after a holiday, or days during peak or near-peak periods) as early as possible. I do know other coworkers have had requests denied citing peak times, and I can see where it sucks for those people, but overall I think our policies around this are really reasonable.

    17. ...*

      We are asked to give a minimum of 6 weeks notice but generally no more than 6 months. However, one off’s are approved sometimes if we have enough other people in office. And you wouldn’t get penalized for adding in something more than 6 months away, they just might not review your request for a while. Since many people in the organization provide coverage, they are fairly strict with leave time. During our “peak” time absolutely no PTO is allowed for 2 months (of course sick days are still allowed though).

    18. Thankful for AAM*

      We can only request leave 90 days in advance. I asked for the dates for my 30th anniversary trip well in advance as a heads up but was told, we will try but cannot promise to accomodate you. Ask 90 days b4.

  14. Phoenix*

    Hello, hoping I can get some advice for how to/if I should tell my boss that I will be leaving when asked at my upcoming performance review in Jan and before I receive my bonus at the end of February.

    For a bit of background- I’ve been wanting to leave my job for a couple of years now but something has always stopped me. Last year, it was a promotion. I told my boss I’d stick around for a year at least (at that point he already knew I wanted to leave). I’ve been unhappy in the position for awhile now and would like to move on.

    I know I will inevitably be asked at my review if I’ll be staying, I am debating if I should tell the truth and say no, but I’d really like to provide ample notice to train AND stick around until I receive my bonus. Or if I should lie and say yes, which feels wrong to me in a way because about a month later I will be quitting. I don’t want to jeopardize my bonus by telling the truth. But I also don’t want to be so underhanded about it. I have faith that my company will allow me to receive the bonus but I’m not 100% on that…it is a corporation after all and I don’t have much experience with my boss so can’t say I fully trust him.

    What do you all think? Appreciate any advice.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Say nothing. Tell your boss, if asked, “At this time, I have no reason to leave” because you don’t – you don’t have a job yet, so you’re not lying. Should you get a job after you get your bonus, you still didn’t lie because you didn’t have the job at the time you were asked if you were going to stay.

      You want to avoid telling the truth in January in the event that something changes and you don’t in fact get your bonus come February. I saw that exact scenario play out with a former coworker at a past job. We were getting extra retention bonuses from the president of our division in May, but coworker told management she was leaving in January – and then her federal clearance didn’t go through until July, so she couldn’t leave until then. Guess who didn’t get a bonus in May? HR told management that if she was planning to leave, she shouldn’t receive anything even though the bonuses we were getting weren’t originally supposed to be retention bonuses, but bonuses for doing exceptional work for our division the year before. Coworker was one of the hardest working people in our division, so of course this left a bad taste in her mouth, and when I decided to leave, I kept my mouth shut until after I received my pay out and then I told my supervisor I would be moving on.

      1. Phoenix*

        Thank you for the advice. My gut says this is the correct position to take.

        I don’t have a job lined up and may not by the end of Feb but I’m leaving anyways. My health has suffered enough.

      2. TechWorker*

        +1 lots of companies have policies of not paying bonuses to those in their notice period – it’s shitty but gives you zero incentive to tell them sooner than you have to.

    2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      I totally agree with @Diahann Carroll. You literally and honestly have no solid plans to leave. “I want to leave and am applying for jobs” is not a plan to leave, since you don’t have a timeline in place. You’re totally good to answer with a cheerful and honest, “No, I have no plans to leave.”

      Maybe even add in “I’m looking forward to working on ___” if you can say that honestly.

    3. Jean*

      There’s no reason to give more notice than is standard in your field. If you tell your boss now that you’re planning to leave, it can create all sorts of unnecessary drama and BS that you may or may not be prepared to deal with.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      Do not give notice until that bonus check has cleared. You’ve earned that money, don’t jeopardize it and absolutely don’t feel bad. My office gives our year-end bonuses around the same time as yours, and there are always tons of leaving announcements immediately after. Cost of doing business.

      Good luck on your job search/congrats on your new job! (Can’t tell if you’re looking or already found something, but well wishes either way!)

      1. Phoenix*

        Thank you Simple Narwhal. You’re right it is the cost of doing business. I’m looking, haven’t found anything yet.

    5. LastWorkDayof2019*

      Agreeing with @Diahann Carroll, @Jean and others – don’t give notice until you’re actually giving your notice. You never know what might change between January and February, and putting the prospect of receiving your bonus even a little bit in the hands of “faith” in a corporation is not a risk you need to take.

    6. Kiwiii*

      Being candid with them about leaving (especially from a place that has impacted your health) doesn’t benefit anyone. If they bring up (when you put in your notice) that you’d said you were staying, play stupid – leaving wasn’t in the plans! it was something you just decided on! an opportunity came up!

  15. Marion Q*

    How do you deal with FOMO when it comes to job-hunting? I’ve set up alerts on indeed, LinkedIn, and a few local job boards. But I’m still worried that I’ll miss postings that better suit my preferred position and location.

    Also, why do companies post jobs in LinkedIn, but the link to apply takes you to another site where you have to sign up all over again?!

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      On your FOMO question
      My strategy is two-fold: First, reviewing the list of jobs that never replied and/or rejected me without an interview. My spreadsheet tracks date applied and date of rejection, with a formula to calculate the time between in weeks. Second, I limit how much energy I spend on job searching, channeling energy into my life (i.e. hobbies, relationships, community engagement) as a way to remind myself that my work is *not* the totality of my existence

      On your job posting question
      I’m guessing it’s because they you in their particular ATS instance, but job sites give them a wider net and are specifically designed to draw in candidates. Unless you’re talking about a LinkedIn positing sending you to something on Indeed, those I suspect are scams.

    2. CM*

      My experience has been that, after a few weeks of searching, I sort of get to know which job boards have meaningful/useful activity in my industry and notice that a lot of the same jobs circulate across multiple sites, or that a lot of the companies I’m interested in reliably post there. So I think that, as you get a handle on where the action’s happening as far as the type of job post you’re looking for, the FOMO will probably drop off on its own.

      For the second question, they probably want to post on LinkedIn so that more people will see the job posting, but want to collect all of the applications in one place so that it’s easier to sort.

  16. SlightlyTrans*

    I have a weird work clothing related question. I want to apply for a higher level job at my current workplace, but I’m not sure what to do about interview clothing. Both the job I’m currently in and the job I’m applying for have a dress code that falls somewhere between casual and business casual (jeans are allowed, but tops should be spiffier than T-shirts), however one should probably dress spiffier than that for interviewing.
    So I need to acquire interviewing clothes. The problem is I am not out at work, and I cannot stand the thought of buying women’s clothing to interview in. What the hell can I wear that won’t make me want to claw my skin off and won’t draw attention to the fact that I’m dressed…different. I feel like straight up business casual (button down shirt, chinos) wouldn’t look dressy enough (especially without a tie, but a tie might seem odd), but suits are even more gendered.
    Help?

    1. Reliquary*

      It is perfectly professional for a person of any gender to wear dress trousers and a jacket (“blazer”) with a button-up shirt. Given your description of the dress code at your particular workplace, it sounds like khaki or gray trousers and a navy blue jacket might be just the thing. A crisp white shirt, with or without a thin pinstripe, would look very dapper.

      (I’ve spent almost 20 years buying clothes for a trans man, through many stages of transition. I’m pretty close to expert-level in this area, I think!)

    2. acmx*

      Is a women’s pant suit still too gendered? My last interview is the only time I’ve worn a skirted suit but I am a cis woman.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          CIS female here. Skirt&heels optional, unless you see it in the employee handbook for the role you’re applying to. Best job I ever had, I interviewed in pressed slacks, a patterned shirt, a contrasting blazer, and flats.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            If anyone sputters about heels, give a sheepish smile and say “I’ve never gotten comfortable in them, so I’m more productive in flats.”
            They’ll likely assume it’s a matter of balance or bunions and let it drop. :)

    3. Squidhead*

      Cis female here, but I wear mostly men’s clothes for reasons of cost & comfort. What about good slacks (bought in the men’s department and in a style/fit you find comfortable) with a button-down shirt and a pull-over sweater? The color & fit of the shirt could be very traditional (white, boxy) or more modern (tailored, solid non-white color, subtle pattern) and a pullover (V-neck or crew-neck) can both look “polished” but also blur the lines of your figure if that’s a concern. It’s winter where I am, so this type of androgynous look (is that word okay? No offence intended!) would fly pretty well for many people.

      Maybe I am oblivious, but if someone looks comfortable and confident in what they are wearing, I honestly don’t think too much about what the clothes actually are. So if your concern is not so much “definitely looking male” and more “definitely not buying distinctly female clothes” then I would shoot for clothes that feel “right” to you and allow you to feel confident and put-together.

      Good luck with the interviews!

    4. Jenny*

      Just throwing this into the mix – a friend wears a lot of tweed jackets over good cotton shirts.

      If you get good quality tweed and cotton In the right cut, they can look very smart, while being neither conventionally male or female aligned.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      Chiming in on the blazer. Tan dress pants, button-up shirt, and navy blazer. In my librarian days I used to keep a blazer in my office and throw it on in case I had to talk to my director and didn’t want my technical decisions questioned (by a director who had no subject matter expertise anyway).

    6. quirkypants*

      Queer, cis-woman. Early in my career I only wore dress pants, button-ups, and either a cardigan or a blazer (nothing too femme, but typically from the “women’s” section). I also wore lace-up flats, more similar to oxfords.

      In my line of work (tech), you could totally show up wearing clothes from the “men’s” section if that’s your style. For an interview, I’d recommend making it fits well instead of being too boxy or baggy but otherwise, I’m always a fan of being you.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Seconding the idea of things that fit well! IMO the better your tailoring is, the less important the “gender” of the clothes is to observers — it’s just going to read as smart and sharp rather than “menswear/womenswear.”

    7. Legally a Vacuum*

      Depending on your workplace/personal style, you could add a well-structured blazer to slacks and a button-up. You don’t need to get a feminine cut at all.

    8. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      You’re doing an internal interview, so think of this as another occasion where you’re wearing the “better” version of what you normally wear. Like if you were going to present to the Biggest of the Bosses or something.

      The blazer solution is a great one. Purchase from whatever “department” you feel most comfortable in, and make sure it fits you well. A sweater or a turtleneck can sidestep any expectation of having a gendered tie under that jacket.

    9. Kiwiii*

      Honestly, unless you Know people usually wear suits to interview for that role, you can probably get away with a nicer shoe than usual, a darker pant than usual, a blazer thrown over your top. Esp in places that sit between casual and business casual, you just want to look your full business casual self. Polished, not overdone. Yourself, not some feminine interview persona you’ll be incredibly uncomfortable in.

    10. LGC*

      Yeah, I’m definitely on the blazer/sportcoat and dress slacks train. Like, I (cis man) wear that, and while no one is mistaking me for a woman, I think it’s pretty gender neutral. And a bit dressed up from your normal.

      Wear nice shoes (or boots) as well – that’s probably another thing. In this case, you can definitely just buy a pair of men’s shoes and it doesn’t sound like many people would notice or care at your job. I’m 1) a Northerner and 2) a bit of a hipster, so I would definitely consider boots for versatility. Nothing flashy, just a nice pair of leather dress boots.

      (I’ll admit, I feel like shoes are a key part of outfits. I can feel various shades of dressed up in the same basic outfit depending on whether I’m wearing oxfords, chukkas, or – like – Vans or Chucks.)

      Good luck, and you’ve got this!

    11. SlightlyTrans*

      Thanks, everyone! The blazer/sportcoat (and appropriate other clothing) solution sounds like a win. Definitely spiffier without overdoing it and still something I would feel comfortable in.

      Off to find a nice, well-fitting jacket!

      1. Close Bracket*

        Depending and how top-heavy your body is, And whether or not there is a Express store nearby you, I recommend checking out Express men’s dress shirts. They are cut slim fitting for a narrow torso and do not have darts. They are cut close enough to read as feminine to an interviewer catch up if worn without a tie and with the top button undone. There are lots of narrowly cut men’s clothes available now, it has become quite a style. If that suits your body style, the narrow cuts are a great way to get some trans masculine looks in without fully coming out, since narrow cuts have been more traditionally associated with women’s wear. If it’s tolerable to you, you could increase the feminine look for the duration of the interview by wearing a brooch on your lapel or wearing a floral pocket square.

  17. Pink Sprite*

    I’d like to hear about how people who were K-12 teachers and have now left the classroom/school to do something else.
    What are you doing now? Are you using your education/degree in your new job?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I was a 9-12 English teacher, and now I do IT work. I occasionally have the opportunity to teach others, but my education degree is largely irrelevant in my current job.

    2. Exhausted Trope*

      I taught 6-12 for ten years and then went into instructional design for 3. Now, I work in HR as a generalist.
      I use one of my degrees, English, every day but that could be said of any job I’ve held, I suppose.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend with a teaching degree writes installation manuals. Another was a corporate trainer, and has moved on to an NGO that helps (too specific) on other countries develop their own in-house training programs.

    4. Ree*

      I have an education degree that I never used and have been a project manager and an executive assistant.

    5. Silence Will Fall*

      I taught for about a decade. Now I’m an IT trainer. I’m not using my original teaching degree, but my transition was easier because I had pursued a degree in Ed Tech to maintain my credentials.

    6. Academic Librarian*

      My husband was k-12 and transitioned into sales. If you can handle teens and classrooms, you can handle anything.

    7. Asenath*

      I switched to office work. It was in a post-secondary educational institution, and when I got the job, I thought the fact that I had teaching experience (even though it was in K-12) and was completing my master’s degree helped me get my foot in the door, but now I don’t think so. Technically, a degree in any field but especially adult education is needed to do the job, but there are a number of older but experienced people with office skills training who also do the work. I don’t really use my degrees for anything at all, really, except for understanding a bit of the jargon which is something anyone can pick up. I far, far preferred office work to classroom teaching, which I have realized I was lamentably unsuited for. It doesn’t bother me at all that I don’t use my education – or did so only to get my foot in the door. “Look! I have this irrelevant bit of paper!”

    8. Zona the Great*

      K-5 ESL teacher. Hated. Every. Second. of it. 2 years, somehow saved a crap-ton of money, and left for a resort town where I started working as a dishwasher and was just thrilled about it. Started also driving a shuttle for the same resort and liked transportation. Started Graduate School for Public Administration and now I run Public Transit programs for my state. I love my job, love my life, never wish I had summers off, and I never ever count down the days like I did as a teacher.

  18. Not Anxious at Work*

    Has anyone else ever found that work can be a coping mechanism for crap going on in the rest of your life? We’re on winter break, and not having my work team around is driving me absolutely up the wall this year.

    My personal support network has been disintegrating for the past month or so, and it feels like the only anchor I have is work.

    Oh well, at least my therapist will be busy when they get back.

    1. Holy Moley*

      Absolutely. When my best friend committed suicide, going to work was the only normalcy I had in my life at the moment. It kept me busy and occupied and my mind off the situation. I can definitely relate. I hope things look up for you and that your support network gets a little better!

    2. Cinnamon*

      I did kind of the opposite;. I worked myself to burning out (and in the process ruined my support system) and when I realized what happened I was now avoiding work and trying to rebuild my network.
      Work and my colleagues are still a huge part of my network and I don’t want to alienate them when family is also a stressor during holidays.

      I wish you the best!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Lost sense of anchors with lulls at work… I can relate.

      I have told myself that having a life and having a career is a DIY thing. So for at work, perhaps the best I can do is line up a few modest tasks for the day or for the week. That’s it. Run at those tasks with all you have. Perhaps you can look ahead a bit and get something set up that you will need next month or next year. Perhaps you can reorganize some annoying thing so that it is less annoying.

      Realizing that this is not a lot to work with, you can take a look at the home front and start something new there. This can be anything at home, join a gym, organize your records, teach the dog a new trick. Put something extra into your homelife concurrently. Take care not to make it contingent upon your relationships with those other people.

    4. NoLongerYoung*

      Yes, when my husband died (slowly) and my life crashed – not because of grief because of discovering financial misdeeds and personal betrayal that shattered me…. I became the best worker EVER – and I was not a slacker before (I was a highly effective person for years). But I kicked it up another notch. For our fiscal year end, I was the only person in the larger group (600 people) to win both the “X” award for the year for my division (there were 15 divs) and ALSO to be on a project team that won the “Y” contribution award. (There were 5 of those).
      My goal for this next year is to either set boundaries – or find a new job where I’m not doing the work of 2 people. My therapist is encouraging me. The work relationship is as dysfunctional as it turns out, the marriage was.

      But … I sure kept busy and didn’t have to face my reality at home. Need to stop procrastinating here and go work on that resume.

  19. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

    Hey all! Happy Holidays! Happy almost New Year!

    I have almost started this topic a couple dozen times on open thread and backed out every time. I wanted to talk about how deeply upsetting and difficult it is go through counseling, working with and ultimately having to terminate someone who is a long time employee BUT the problem with that topic is, it is obviously worse on the person who gets fired than it is the person who does the firing, right? Centering yourself in the story of someone else’s tragedy seems gross and insensitive, but that doesn’t change the part where it is hard and upsetting on you also.

    So rather than tell my story, maybe I can make that the question. The question is, when you are involved in something that is objectively worse for the other person, what do you do to process the part of it that is still total shit for you also. I had to fire someone who worked for me for over twenty years. It was horrible. It was worse for her. It is still pretty horrible for me, and it was months ago now that I did the final deed. I know I did the right thing but that doesn’t change the part where it was (and remains) horrible. I can’t even let myself feel bad about it for more than 30 seconds without thinking “but it was worse for her! it’s obnoxious to feel bad for yourself!”

    Can you relate? What do you do?

    1. Fikly*

      Pain is not a competition. Someone else being in pain, even if you were involved in that pain, does not mean your pain is not valid.

      The reason you haven’t gotten past this, and it is still bothering you, is likely because you aren’t allowing yourself to process it. All feelings are valid!

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      You are completely right that you are the centre of your own story. That’s how any of us experiences the world. The trick is to know when it’s time to tell your story, and when it’s time to listen to someone else’s, and I think it’s all a matter of audience.

      At a basic level, you wouldn’t talk about your distress to the fired employee, but your best friend who doesn’t know the fired employee will be far more interested in your feelings than those of a stranger. I guess it’s similar to the circles of grief model where you give support inwards and get it outwards.

    3. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      This reminds me of a beautiful metaphor from Havi at the Fluent Self, “The Fountain”:

      “A stubbed toe? That’s legitimate. Bring your hurt and distress to the fountain and it will take it for you.

      Giant, awful, unspeakable loss? The fountain will take that too, acknowledging the pain of it through the act of receiving.

      The fountain does not have a hierarchy of pain.”

      https://www.fluentself.com/blog/stuckification/the-fountain/

    4. Randomity*

      Like the others say – it might be objectively worse for her, but you still get to claim this as a shitty experience for you and do what you need to do to process this.
      If I were in your shoes I’d want to find a peer to process this with. You can’t be the only one.
      Sending support.

    5. Jean*

      You’re allowed to feel whatever feelings you have. Acknowledge how shitty it feels and allow yourself to process the feelings. Once you do this, it will be easier to move on, especially since you intellectually know that you did the right thing.

    6. merp*

      This is the place for “dump out, not in”! Which was actually created for personal tragedies like the death of a loved one, I believe, but I think it applies in general to painful situations. People most impacted are in the innermost circle, and people less affected (but still very much affected in some way) are in various outer circles. If you need to vent, always go to someone in a circle more outer than yours rather than someone closer to the sad thing. I’m paraphrasing badly, but here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/laugh-cry-live/201809/how-respond-people-in-crisis-comfort-in-dump-out

    7. Lora*

      Errr, well, a lot of managers I know, myself included, do unhealthy things. So maybe don’t go directly to the bar and start on the tequila, even though that is definitely what I do.

      The healthy things that help:
      Commiserate with the other managers who have done the same. I guarantee this is a common thing, you definitely have peers who are in the same boat, or have been in the same boat. Even if you need to go to a professional society to find peers to talk to outside of the company, you can definitely find someone who has been through it. Mentors, too, not just peers. They will have their own advice that might be particular to your field.
      Think about what you can do to help the people remaining, because they are going to have their own issues with firing/layoffs that you will need to address and help. Focus on that for day to day. How can you best support them? If it was a layoff, are there going to be more layoffs? Can you help your people be more connected, showcase them more to help try to beat the odds of surviving another layoff? If it was a firing, can you beef up your training programs or mentorship programs or something that would have helped within the company to deal with the person you had to fire?

      A few months ago I had to tell senior management that a huge project we were working on, which a few hundred jobs relied on succeeding, is going to fail unless they do X, Y and Z…which means the financial case isn’t there for the project to even exist. Then I got to watch the prediction unfold in real time, at a site which is the only major employer for miles, so when the site fails (and it’s a when, not an if, at this point) the whole town is effectively wiped off the map. And I’ve seen the same thing happen when I was a kid growing up: farm towns, steel towns and coal towns that no longer really exist except for a handful of retirees waiting to die of Black Lung, which used to be thriving, middle class places to live. I know exactly how hard it is when you work the same place your parents and grandparents worked, and now you have to uproot and start a whole new life. It sucks, and I have a lot of nasty things to say about McKinsey, but there’s nothing I can do anymore other than help people try to relocate. So I focus on that.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I haven’t been on that side, but I have a thought. Look at advice given to the person who files for divorce, or breaks up with a long-term partner. You & your former employee were in a long-term relationship of a sort, after all.

    9. Veryanon*

      As someone who has worked with lots of managers on this very issue, I can tell you that your feelings are totally valid. It sucks to know that you are impacting someone else’s life negatively, even if the action is completely justified. I have sometimes recommended that the manager talk to a counselor through the company’s EAP for a session or two. Otherwise, you just have to recognize that your feelings are valid and work through them. It will probably never go away entirely, but keep reminding yourself that it’s business, it’s not personal.

    10. I Have All Of The Questions*

      I feel you and understand where you have been.

      However, you did what you could for that employee but you couldn’t make or control the employee to do the things you needed them. Maybe this will be a step that they need for themselves too.

      As far as you, like everyone else has said, your feelings are valid and real and you had a relationship with this person and you can remember the good and the bad. Emotions aren’t one thing, that is why they can be so terrible and so wonderful. It’s not obnoxious to feel bad for you, you were put into a position where you had to make a call that was best for you/your work environment/all the other employees over one person.

    11. Good enough manager*

      I have been you. The symptoms of my perfectly reasonable, ethically firing of a longterm employee included insomnia, second-guessing, anxiety, and becoming physically ill.
      One get a check up. Turns out there were actual medical causes for my stomach pains.
      Two seek professional help from a qualified therapist. I needed to separate my big feelings from the situation. I wanted her to succeed. There must have been more I could have done, been more patient, communicated more clearly. I second guessed all my process, over and over on an endless loop.
      Three- find a mentor who you can walk through the whole PIP process now that it is over keeping confidential stuff confidential. They don’t have to be in your industry. It is good to have a second set of eyes on the whole situation that has no “dog in that fight”
      Remember that the employee is better off in a job where they will be successful. there is someone out there who deserves the job you have who you can successfully manage.
      The stress and sadness and despair you feel right now will pass but don’t discount that this has been an awful experience for you too.
      The feelings that you are feeling show that you are a compassionate individual. That is a good thing.

    12. MissDisplaced*

      It means you have empathy.
      And that is a good thing in business, which is typically uncaring.

      I think the thing to ask is this: Did you treat the person with dignity and respect throughout the process?

    13. sometimeswhy*

      All of the advice above is solid. I’ve had some experience with this on personal and professional fronts and: therapy therapy therapy or maybe just some light counseling. If you have your own therapist: YAY if you don’t or if you need to process but don’t have long-term issues to work through, the EAP suggestion is the way to go.

      You are allowed to have feelings.
      It is not a competition.
      It would be inappropriate and burdensome to share your feelings with the affected person.
      You can and should share your feelings with an impartial-to-the-situation third party.

    14. Phoenix Programmer*

      I can talk a bit from a different perspective. I had a bad childhood, and many of my friends would do what you are doing and refuse to confide in me because “my bad stuff was so much worse”.

      I found it really annoying! Its not a competition. Most people don’t feel the need to compare bad things against each other in some sort of pity race and those that do are not worth it. Please open up about your feelings and seek support.

      That said obviously audience matters here. No looking for sympathy from direct reports, try to keep the support outside of work.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      There’s a huge difference between privately saying to yourself, “Ouch, this hurts. I think I will cry over this one” vs saying to groups of people, “So what if she is crying. Think about ME. I had to fire her!”

      I do agree that there are some sadnesses that we just cannot randomly share. But I bet if you look around you will find at least one person, maybe more, who will commiserate with you. They may even have some pearls of wisdom to share. If you can’t think of anything else, try writing to Alison privately. I bet she’d answer you in a heartbeat. She might even have some material (links) for you to read.

      Next, it sounds to me that you have really underestimated the power of fatigue. It sounds like you put huge amounts of energy into this person and you have to be pooped. Try to see what you can do to beef up your rest. One thing I have done is told myself, “I will think about this in the morning.” It takes a bit for this to work because the brain wants to keep rehashing that thing. Tell the brain to STFU and you will work on it some after you get some sleep.

      Water and sleep are my two big go-tos for brain function. These are simple things that sharpen the mind so I can process these larger concerns.

      It’s part of being human to have two conflicting emotions at once. We try to resist that by calling it confusing. It’s not confusing. We are human beings. Think a hawk ever worries about the family of the mouse the hawk just ate??? Naaa, the hawk is saying, “Oh look, there’s dessert.”
      People don’t have this simple a code for life, our code is much more complex. You can try telling yourself that this is what having a conscience and having a moral code does, it can leave us conflicted and crying. This may in turn just allow you to feel the feelings. I’d be more concerned about ya if you said you did not give a fig.

      Breaking this in to parts you have a number of griefs going on:
      You are tired, perhaps physically as well as emotionally. That lost energy did not bring any success.
      You have a huge sense of failure because you could not rescue this person.
      This person failed.
      This person was a constant in your life for 20 years. Now they are gone.

      When I supervised I always thought it was interesting to see who responded to the life preserver I threw at them and who did not respond. We don’t get to pick who grabs on to our life preservers and who doesn’t. I had a couple people say, “I want a purple one.” I didn’t have any purple life preservers. There was nothing I could do.
      I have to conclude that we just don’t know what roles we play in people’s lives. Maybe some got help. Maybe some went on to something better. Maybe the whole point was that at least they were with me for a while. I dunno and probably never will know. Then their were others who grabbed the life preserver and said, “I will take anything else you throw my way and I will MAKE it work for me.” Shaking my head because some of these people were a surprise to me.

      Sit down and cry. It’s okay to have your own emotions.

    16. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      Such great responses. <3 I'll double back a bit later to respond to some individually. <3

    17. Elizabeth West*

      It is NOT obnoxious to feel bad for yourself.

      Think of it like a breakup. You might realize that a partner is not good for you, you’ve fallen out of love with them, you don’t want to spend time with them anymore, etc. But breaking up still sucks. You still have to hurt another person. If you are a kind person who doesn’t want to hurt other people, it makes you feel like poo. This is why so many people avoid breaking up and stay way longer than they should.

      Yes, it sucks to be rejected. But it also sucks to do the rejecting.

    18. Not A Manager*

      “I can’t even let myself feel bad about it for more than 30 seconds without thinking ‘but it was worse for her! it’s obnoxious to feel bad for yourself!’”

      Is it possible that you’re “punishing” yourself for having caused harm to someone else? Yes, this was a hard experience for her. And causing someone else to have a hard experience was hard for you. Refusing to acknowledge that it was hard for you, and refusing to provide self-care, doesn’t make the experience any better for her. It just prolongs your own trauma.

  20. Extra anon here*

    Question about salary/raise negotiating.

    My company is doing annual reviews end of Q1/beginning of Q2. (Timing makes sense because of when our busy season is.)

    Currently, my team’s structure is fairly flat: there are the people like me, doing the main tasks, and then there are the managers, and then the grand manager. There is a plan (I fully expect this to come to pass) to put in more structure and room for advancement, so each side (management and non-management) can grow from say, level one to level six, which corresponding responsibilities, tasks, skills and abilities, etc.

    On top of that, HR (who I trust) has said they are re-evaluating compensation for the team as a whole, because our role is pretty unique and hard to compare within the industry and out of it, so finding similar roles to compare salaries with is difficult. My impression is that they think we are underpaid, but they did not say this directly.

    So. I think there’s going to be a raise from the team overall getting salaries bumped, and I also think I’m going to end up a fair ways up on the level scale for the role I’m in, based on the rubric that was given out, and comments from my manager, which would also lead to a raise.

    I’ve never been through this before, either with this company or any other, nor have I negotiated salary when accepting a job. I would like to advocate for myself! I trust the company to be very decent about it, but I also don’t want to just hear a big number and go “yay, ok!” Any advice? It is 100% legitimately very hard to compare my role to others at other companies, so I’m not sure where to get comp ideas from.

    1. Hawkeye is in the Details*

      I’m sorry, I have no advice, but I want to work where you work! An internal salary review and
      an effort to make thing right?? Unheard of in my area/industry!

      1. Extra anon here*

        I’ve been calling them my unicorn employer.

        I was being recruited by another company a few months ago (I wasn’t really intending to leave, but was curious enough to go on an interview) and in the interview, it came up that my company sometimes gives away free services to people who can’t afford them. My interviewer was baffled. Why would they do this?

        Well, we don’t promote that we do this. I suppose the person who gets the free service might mention it to someone they know, so we could get some good PR that way. The person might return to us later when in a position to afford our services. But honestly? I suspect we do it because it’s the right thing to do. And yes, it’s a for-profit company.

    2. Kiwiii*

      So, if you can figure out where you sit on the rubric and any information about compensation, that should be a huge help. But, besides that, a quick, remind them that you’re great, could we add another couple thousand onto that? doesn’t sound like anything they’ll fault you for even if they’ve Decided already.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Also, you mentioned that your manager’s comments have clued you in a bit, it may be worth talking to them directly about your worries and what they might expect the process to be like. You might get to learn more than you would otherwise!

    3. Blackcat*

      My husband’s company did a salary adjustment a while back. It was entirely separated from annual reviews and raise-season. Basically just his manager came into his office and said “Based on months of research, the powers that be have figured out this team is underpaid. As of your next paycheck, your annual salary is X +Y/year. You’ll still be evaluated for a possible raise and promotion in the March.”

      Husband also found out that, as a part of this, they did an equity study. Some people from historically underrepresented groups got bigger bumps, because it turns out they were a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      There was zero room for negotiation, which I actually think is good… That may be what they do.

      As your manager what the plan is. They may not be able to give details, but I think it’s fair to ask.

  21. Analytical Tree Hugger*

    Interview dress question

    Context:
    -Me (mid-30s, male)
    -Company (clothing company, more sporty/outdoors rather than high fashion)
    -Their invite specifically says that they’re business casual and, while a suit/tie are appreciated, not necessary *for the interview*
    -Interview is in a somewhat cold area (U.S. West/Midwest; highs around 9-11 degrees Celsius, 38-45 degrees Fahrenheit)

    Question: What should I wear? Should I still plan to wear a suit and tie? My other thought is: good quality, dark jeans plus dress shirt and tie, with nice-but-not-quite-suit shoes.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Swap out the jeans for dress pants and lose the tie, but throw on a blazer or a nice, thick cardigan with a button down for a polished, yet relaxed look. If you go for the blazer look, since the company leans more business casual, the color can be a little more fun and doesn’t have to match your dress pants. Your dress shoe idea is a good one.

      1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Cool, thanks for the advice. Sounds like I have to do a little shopping (ugh, I hate clothes shopping).

        1. StellaBella*

          Agree with above – wool sport jacket, nice flannel lined jeans maybe, and crisp white shirt with decent shoes and matching belt.

          On another note, a question: if you hate clothes shopping why are you interviewing at a clothing production firm? What could they do to make you love clothes shopping? What kind of experience? [[Just curious mainly – my recent lead (who lasted in the role all of 12 weeks before she left on her own) said in her interview with me that she hates (industry) our firm is in. I found this odd, and chalked it up to her needing more confidence – she was a great lead, a great writer, a great manager and organiser… just did not like what we did. :(]]

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            Thanks for the input.

            Sorry, to clarify: I don’t hate the clothing industry, I dislike accumulating things. It’s not about the shopping experience. The role is a niche that’s translatable to a lot of industries and is adjacent to my current role, hence my interest in it.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          If you have a suit, try on the suit coat with your slacks. It’s a thing…enough that there’s two words now: Italian name “spezzato”, English “broken suit”. More casual, maybe no shopping required.
          (Finally something practical moving from women’s fashion to men’s — the industry has sold ‘women’s separates’ for years.)

    2. Curious about Cats*

      If they are specifically saying suit and tie are appreciated, why not let them know they’re appreciated by wearing a suit and tie?

      Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I’ve always worn a suit and tie to every interview. I think if you’re qualified for the job, a suit and tie shows you’ve taken that extra effort to put your best foot forward. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.

      At my last company, I felt a bit odd in my suit because all of the peers I interviewed with were in jeans and polos/T shirts. After I started, I wore my usual long sleeve button shirts and dockers to work and each new person I met thought I was a manager. I quickly changed to polos and jeans to mesh with the company dress vibe, but I would still wear I suit and tie if I was to interview knowing what I now knew about the informal dress code.

      You may need an overcoat to keep warm in your suit.

    3. Akcipitrokulo*

      Shirt, tie, and contrasting nice jacket and trousers?

      Or go for the appreciated as it sounds like could go down well, but maybe slightly brighter then very formal shirt/fie combo?

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Suit or trouser/jacket separates, but no tie. Perhaps a somewhat more casual shoe, like a loafer.
      You can probably show your personality a bit more with the shirt, or opt for a white or blue Oxford shirt instead of dress shirt which keeps it slightly less formal while still being a suit.

      I would not do jeans for the interview personally.

    5. Kiwiii*

      If they’re citing suit and tie as appreciated, and that’s something you have access to, you might as well just go suit and tie.

    6. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Thanks for the thoughts, everyone. I’m taking jeans off the table and will search for a nice sports jacket or suit jacket (and wear base layers for warmth). I don’t have a suit that fits; in previous interviews, I relied on hand-me-downs and it looked like I was dressing up in my dad’s clothes (which was the case with the jacket).

      For the question, “Why not go suit and tie?” I am hopefully overthinking and wondering if they would (subconsciously) consider wearing a suit and tie to indicate a poor cultural fit and/or a lack of attention to detail.

      1. Kiwiii*

        Hitting a nice middle ground – separates, no tie – might be just the thing, then, if you’re shopping anyway.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        If you do the sport coat and want to wear layers for warmth, a nice thick turtleneck could work underneath instead of the dress shirt. Turtlenecks teeter nicely between polished and casual. If you have black or brown boots (that aren’t motorcycle), they would look very nice with the sport coat/turtleneck/dress pants combo – they’ll also keep your feet warm. This look will make it seem like you put effort into your appearance, which is a plus for interviews, without making you seem too out of step or stuffy for their business casual environment.

        Also, since this is an outdoorsy/sporty clothing company, choose earth tones for your color palette.

      3. Product Person*

        If they hadn’t mention suit and tie as an appreciated outfit, I’d agree that trouser/jacket separates would be ideal and jeans too underdressed for an interview. However, they did mention it! I think that paying attention to detail, here, means following their explicit suggestion. ” Not required, but appreciated” is a pretty clear indication of preference.

        Good luck!

    7. LGC*

      If you don’t want to wear a suit…it’s actually almost the exact same answer that SlightlyTrans got above! (That is, slacks, sportcoat/blazer, dress shirt, tie, dress boots if you have them, dress shoes are fine as well.)

      A suit and tie doesn’t sound too out of place, I think. It’s a bit out of step culturally, but not wildly so – and it’s an interview and they specifically said it’s appreciated but not necessary. I wouldn’t wear jeans myself, just because it feels like what you would wear to work on a normal day.

  22. Grand Mouse*

    Hi this might be a weird one but that’s why I’m on AAM….
    I called out sick the half of last week due to pinkeye. Felt pretty good about that and had managers support

    Come to find put the next week that ny replacement majorly violated security protocol by letting an unknown person in to a secured area so they could do crack together. This is a facility worried about terrorist attack.

    I know I had nothing to do with it, logically. Otoh I’m feeling responsible for being part of the process that lead to this. If my boss didn’t have to cover for me then??? I don’t want my boss to be in trouble either. He hasn’t said anything but I keep awaiting fallout. And I’m glad they haven’t dropped my company though I can understand why they would. When you have the cops involved well… and then add in pissing off high ranking officials in the government

    Basically I’m asking should I apologize or try to smooth things over.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Crack?!

      Unless you were smoking it with them, I don’t see why you would apologize – you got pink eye and were out sick. You can’t help that your temporary replacement is a crackhead doing crackhead things, and at work no less! I’d let this one go.

    2. Myrin*

      You have nothing to do with this! This is not your fault in any way!
      It’s completely fine and normal to call out sick when one is sick and what one’s replacement does instead isn’t in your purview in any way, shape, or form.
      I, a complete internet strange, hereby allow you to not carry any guilt or shame about this any longer!

      (Also, what in the everloving hell re: your replacement?! I read until “letting an unknown person in” and assumed something like “oh, she was lax about properly closing and securing a door or something” and then I read on and not only was it intentional, it was also to do crack together?! I am in awe.)

      1. Jenny*

        Exactly! You read ‘letting an unauthorised person in’ and your mind auto-completes ‘let in a partner who drove over to pick them up after work, so they could wait 5 mins in the warm’ and then you read ‘to do crack together’ and the brain just explodes!

        1. Kat in VA*

          I did the same thing!

          We’re in a locked security building and you have to be buzzed in by the receptionist. At that point, even to hang out in just the lobby (which is flanked by locked doors that you need a fob and a company photo ID to pass through), you have to show the receptionist proof of identity AND US citizenship.

          So I’m reading this going oh, someone didn’t know proco– and then I see CRACK. WITH A STRANGER.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Urgh, typing too fast…that was supposed to say “protoc–” as in “protocol” but then saw the word CRACK.

            CRACK, guise. CRACK.

    3. Fikly*

      Were you in any way involved with the judgement that this person was to be trusted with the security of this area? If not, then 100% not on you. Even if you, if it wasn’t only your judgement, then it took a whole committe for this mess to happen, and ultimately, it’s on the person who let a random person into a secure area to do drugs.

      If you hadn’t had to call out sick for this, this person would have done something terrible in another time or place, at work. This doesn’t sound like a one time thing.

    4. Randomity*

      Did you ever imply to your replacement that letting an unknown person into a secure area to do crack was Just Fine?!

      If not, I really, really think you’re ok.

      I have so many follow up questions but I presume anonymity says you can’t give us answers!

    5. StellaBella*

      Wow, ok.

      You are fine. Your coverage person should be fired if they have not already been.

      In a bigger picture sense this diminishes my confidence a bit in terms of my already precarious thoughts about homeland security type stuff. Not on you, tho – definitely on your coverage person’s clear lack of judgement and all kinds of other baggage I have.

    6. Delta Delta*

      I feel like I heard a record scratch sound when I read “so they could do crack together.” This isn’t normal, this isn’t your fault, and you probably have nothing to worry about. You were legitimately out sick – you can’t control what people do in your absence. Yikes.

    7. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Wait, what? You don’t want your boss to be in trouble because…. he’s a poor judge of character getting your replacement? You’re reponsible for being part of the process that led to this because… you were off sick – and it had been ok’d by management for you not to be in?

      Are you in any position to avoid ever getting sick? Do you personally vet every employee who would ever have to replace you, even on a temporary basis?

      This is 100% NOT ON YOU.

      Please let this go. There is no second shoe.

    8. lcsa99*

      Did you pick your replacement? Did you recommend this person to cover for you? If not, then you have nothing to be sorry for. If this is someone you vouched for, then like recommending anyone for a job you can tell your boss that this was something totally out of character from what you know about this person and you never would have recommended them if you knew they were so irresponsible and reckless.

      But if you had no say on who would be covering, and you hadn’t discussed what would be required when this person covered, then this isn’t on you. Your boss should be covering their rear by firing this person and maybe refreshing everyone’s knowledge on the security protocol but you did nothing wrong. Would it really have been better if you came to work with pink eye?

    9. Ranon*

      You stayed home with your highly contagious disease, which is a good choice! No one wants pink eye!

      Your replacement…wow. Unless your company had previous experience with your replacement making truly terrible decisions, I think this one’s on them.

      1. WellRed*

        +1. You stayed the hell home with pinkeye. You deserved your sick time. Your pinkeye free coworkers thank you.

    10. LGC*

      so they could do crack together

      And now I dead from coke.

      So, my first reaction was to yell about what you were thinking about apologizing for because – frankly – you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. You did nothing wrong here. You’re a person, and people get sick. You can’t be expected to be present at all times. Arranging coverage is part of your boss’s job, and he trusted someone who grossly violated that trust.

      (And, like, I’m not angry at you for beating yourself up over this. Trust – I get how you’re feeling. It’s just like…”I’m sorry that I got sick and the person who was available to fill in for me was an AAM horror story?”)

      That said…I don’t know if I’m misreading your post, but does your boss know that your replacement smoked crack (!) with an unauthorized person (!!) in a secure area (!!!) at work (!!!?!) If not, he needs to know immediately. If he does know and he is sweeping this under the rug…his boss (or HR or whatever) needs to know yesterday.

    11. Jean*

      This is in no way your fault or your responsibility. You weren’t even there. You had a 100% valid reason for not being there. What happened while you were out is completely out of your control.

    12. Marthooh*

      “My replacement let somebody into a secured area so they could do crack together. Should I apologize for having pinkeye at the time?”

      WTF and no.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        I would argue that your place of employment should be *grateful* to you for calling in! This incident might be the best thing that could have happened: they got to see the cracks in the process/protocols in a very serious way that didn’t involve terrorism. This should be taken as a gift, this wake up call to get their poop together. You’re a hero. Might not ever be acknowledged or even realized by anyone other than me, but you are, even if you didn’t mean to be.

        1. Kat in VA*

          “Cracks in the process…”

          I see what you did there.

          Also, OP – my entire family (all six of us) thanks you for NOT coming into work with pinkeye, as two of them are allergic to sulfa drugs and conjunctivitis, along with everything else, is becoming antibiotic resistant. *shudder*

      2. Marthooh*

        Replying to myself to add: It’s natural to feel guilty about the situation, since it wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t called in sick. You already know that that perfectly natural feeling isn’t rational. The question is, what to do with that irrational guilt?

        Keep it to yourself. Deal with it yourself (as you are doing, by bringing it here to the commentariat!) Your boss is already dealing with the fallout from this weirdness — don’t make him handle your feelings about it, too.

    13. OperaArt*

      Do you plan on never taking sick leave or vacation ever again for as long as you’re in the workforce? Of course not, because for an employee to take leave is completely, utterly normal and expected. Unless you found, vetted, hired, and vouched for your replacement, what exactly would you apologize for?

    14. Parenthetically*

      “letting an unknown person in to a secured area so they could do crack together. This is a facility worried about terrorist attack.”

      Obviously this is 0% your fault, but these are some of the most hilariously jarring words I’ve ever read on this site. Thank you, crackhead temp, for the jaw drop and the laugh today, I needed it.

    15. ...*

      Ummm why would you apologize you had a contagious disease and stayed home. its not your fault someone DID CRACK at work, in a SECURE GOV’T AREA. That is 100% on them. And 100% crazy.

    16. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t apologize. Definitely don’t smooth things over, it will look like you think this is okay and you def do not think it is okay.

      AT MOST, ask your boss how you can help with the clean up. (Tighter security/whatever.) Maybe. Your boss might be in hot water also, so you may not want to hitch your wagon to theirs.

    17. Elizabeth West*

      You have nothing to apologize for unless you were the other one doing crack. (I know you weren’t so the answer is no.)

    18. LilySparrow*

      Hey, if it’s somehow your fault for your replacement being a criminal while you were gone, then it’s equally valid to say that you prevented all your coworkers’ replacements from being crackheads, by not giving everyone pinkeye.

      So either way, you come out ahead.

    19. Nita*

      Definitely not your fault! I assume the crackhead employee had passed a background check, and that prior to this incident no one knew they’re a crackhead? And it looks like someone was checking in on them, since the incident was discovered fairly quickly? Of course there are always more safeguards that could be in place, depending on how sensitive this facility is, but you never ever getting sick is not one of them.

    20. Grand Mouse*

      Thanks for the replies everyone! My (now fully healed) eyes kept getting bigger as I was told what happened while I was gone so like I can only imagine what your response reading this is.

      I guess I was mostly thinking about the letter where the intern the OP was supervising made an offensive joke about 9/11 during a meeting they were all in, and people got outraged. She apologized profusely and I was thinking if people thought she was to blame for what her intern did, completely out of her purview, then am I somehow responsible for what my temp coverage did?

      Like on one hand it is better because I never interacted with this person but worse because it was an actual criminal matter.

      I am letting go of my guilt about it though. Probably not going to have any interesting updates as it’s info I’m not privvy to.

      Ok, well one more bit of info. A new chief started there while I was out. Yep, he was directly involved and it happened the day after he started. No wonder he was so wary when he saw me. Merry Christmas!

  23. Advice please*

    I’m not sure if this is too personal for the work post but asking anyway, please delete if I’ve chosen wrong.

    I’m an OBGYN and I’m pregnant. I love the hospital where I work and I think it’s the best place to have a baby anywhere in this vicinity. I think my colleagues are excellent at their jobs.

    However, I am head of my department which means that the doctor delivering my baby will be someone I “manage” (most of the time not much managing required, more rosters and representation). Would having a colleague involved in my antenatal care and delivery inevitably make working together as anything other than peers impossible?

    1. Fikly*

      It’s definitely awkward, and I’ve only experienced this as someone who was a coworker and then dealing with other medical staff who were above me in the hierarchy.

      I worked in an ER, and then when I had a life threatening emergency, the ambulance took me to the nearest hospital, which hey, was the one I worked at. I found out later that there was a coworker who started crying and had to stop working when she saw me brought in, because I looked so bad. I felt incredibly awkward about that, afterwards, and guilty.

      I got great care (and did not die, obviously, and that was not a given at certain moments), but it did change things. A lot of the doctors I worked with were more careful with me afterwards. They would ask about my health, how I was recovering. It was always well meaning, but there were a lot of boundaries that got messy because of it. They’d say things like, can I listen to your lungs, I just want to make sure you’re ok. Which was sweet, but I also had my own outside doctors who were listening to my lungs and had cleared me to go back to work.

      I would also consider how this might affect things at work if things don’t go totally smoothly. Especially because you’re an OB and having a baby. What if you have a different opinion about how something should go during the delivery? Who makes that call? Will the OB at the delivery feel pressured to go by your call because you manage them? And what if, in the worst case scenario, something bad happens. Would you be able to work with them after? Would they?

      Is your hospital one where doctors outside of the department have privileges and can do the actual delivery? That might be a way to deliver at the place you feel is best, but not have the actual delivery overseen by someone you will have to work with later and have authority over.

      1. lcsa99*

        This is what I was thinking. If your hospital allows you to give privileges to other doctors outside the hospital, that’s what I would do. That way, you can still be at the same hospital with trusted staff and great medical care, but you have someone else calling the shots who won’t worry about getting fired it they have to make a difficult call.

      2. Tzeitel*

        Who is your own OB now? You should have your own OB and have appointments with that person and feel comfortable with them, right? If not, I would make sure you get on that – maybe an outside private OB that is affiliated with your hospital?

      3. Blackcat*

        Yeah, I would consider how you would feel if something went wrong. Dr. Jen Gunter has written about giving birth to a nonviable 23 week baby in the hospital she worked in, and it contributed to her stopping OB work and basically just being a gyn. In her writings, it sounds like it was worse given it was at her workplace.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      My friend is a different kind of medic and ended up as a patient on her own ward for a while. It was awkward, particularly when she developed complications from a (fairly routine and excusable) error. But she did trust the team, and that matters.

      I imagine you are more prosaic about private parts than I am, but Obs/Gynae is a particularly vulnerable department to be a patient in, and you might have feelings about which colleagues you would or wouldn’t want checking the dilation of your cervix, or seeing you vulnerable/frightened/pooping. On the other hand, you’ll know that a familiar environment aids a smooth delivery, and maybe being in your own department would feel like “home” and help you relax and focus.

      Would you be seen by whoever’s on duty, or would you choose someone in particular to do your clinic and your L&D? Is there any possibility someone’s nose would be put out of joint? That would be the only thing I can think of that would affect your management relationships.

      Wishing you a very boring pregnancy.

    3. Just someone*

      I am an anesthesiologist. At my old group my boss requested me to do her case and I was also requested by our co chief to do anesthesia for his mom. In my case not weird at all. But it is a little different in your case.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That’s pretty flattering, I think– being trusted to handle your co-chief’s mom! But yeah, a bit different when the job involves the other end. :-)

    4. MissDisplaced*

      I don’t know how this typically works between doctors and medical care, but why can’t you bring in your own outside doctor in this case? It does feel there should be a layer in there if you manage the other attending OBs. Have you asked the hospital what their protocol is in this case?

      If that is not possible, I guess it is one of those things where you have to trust medical training and professional norms.

    5. Dr. Anonymous*

      If it’s the best hospital, just let it be awkward. You want to know in your heart that if there’s a complication the best people will be taking care of you and your baby. The awkwardness will fade over time and people can be professional about it.

    6. Asenath*

      Not a doctor, but I did clerical work for a lot of them. This first came up when I needed a test requiring anesthesia in the hospital and my family doctor said “I can probably get you in with Dr. Very Prominent Specialist, but it might take six months. On the other hand, Dr. Promising New Practitioner is setting up practice, and can see you almost immediately. He’s really good too. What do you want to do? I had known Dr. PNP since he was a student…I thought for a minute, decided dammit I want those test results ASAP, and went with Dr. PNP. He was perfectly professional during the test, and never mentioned my internal organs during our professional relationship, which continued for years. I had a similar situation with another condition and another specialist later – in a smallish area, it’s very easy to know the people who are going to treat you as co-workers.

      I do know someone who chose to have all her medical care from people who were not her co-workers, which can be a challenge in a small city.

    7. Ann Perkins*

      My former boss’ wife was an L&D nurse who handled my labor and ultimate c-section. I had been friends with her before I worked with her husband and she often handled labors of her friends. It was wonderful to have somebody I was comfortable with there for me during that time. I could see how that could go the other way if you were unhappy with your care, but if both sides are comfortable with the situation I don’t think it necessarily disqualifies them from handling your labor and delivery. If they’re excellent at their jobs, they’ll have good boundaries about it and take care of you.

    8. zaracat*

      OR doc here, also ex-military and had my pregnancy and birth while section commander of a medical unit, so I understand the issues of treating and being treated by people who are part of your immediate professional (and possibly social) circle. This is a tricky one, because you’re up against conflicting needs here.

      If it was solely an issue of being treated by colleagues, based on my own experience of being a patient who has “inside knowledge” of the system I would unequivocally prioritise choosing the hospital and doctors I thought were best (most technically competent, nicest etc) regardless of any potential awkwardness or feelings of embarrassment that might arise from having to work with those people again later. I’ve been through several surgeries and been cared for by perioperative staff I work with, and on one occasion also needed to have a psychiatric assessment done by a psychiatrist who was married to a surgeon I worked with directly, and everyone concerned has always been very discrete and professional.

      But … I’ve also had problems with my treating doctors not explaining things sufficiently – just because I have medical knowledge doesn’t mean I will be able to recall it or use it effectively when I’m the one who is stressed and vulnerable! – or failing to act assertively and guide my decisions or take over when I’m not making well-thought out choices. This is a particular risk when you’re more senior or more experienced and people are used to deferring to your professional judgement. Best options here are either to get an OBGYN in from outside as other commenters have suggested, or if that isn’t an option, make sure to choose someone on your staff who has a proven track record of being able to take charge compassionately but firmly when necessary.

      The other issue which hasn’t really been raised as far as maintaining the longer term working relationship with whomever you choose as your OBGYN is that delivery is not necessarily the end point of the treating relationship. Tempting as it may be to get corridor consultations or to just self-prescribe for things like mastitis, thrush, UTI’s etc – just don’t. And then there’s the possibly of conditions needing longer term treatment like postpartum depression or pelvic floor problems. Or needing support in dealing with an ill or developmentally disabled infant. In the long run it will be far better for you to build up a relationship with an OBGYN who is independent of your workplace or at least not one of your direct reports. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason and your only option is being treated by someone you also manage, then at least consider linking them up with a mentor/consultant outside of your immediate workplace who they can talk things over with, get advice etc.

      Best wishes for your pregnancy and becoming a mum. Hope all goes smoothly!

    9. Coverage Associate*

      FWIW, my mother is also an OB/GYN. She was new to her hospital when my older sister was born, so chose a different hospital in our large metro area. 6 years later for my younger sister, her OB was the senior OB at her hospital, and she delivered there. She’s still at the same hospital more than 20 years later.

      The only awkward thing was she shared call with her own OB, so he theoretically had an incentive to keep her in the rotation longer, but of course he was totally professional.

  24. Asking for a Friend*

    How do you handle a situation where you are temporarily assigned to work with someone who then spends the day espousing objectionable political views (pretty far alt-right)? Is there a polite way to shut it down? How do you know when someone rises to a level of needing to be complained about.

    For context, if it matters, the espouser of the views is an older man, in his 60s, has a very long tenure with the organisation and my friend is a brand-new hire.

    1. StellaBella*

      How temporary is this? One week? Let it go, roll your eyes, redirect the conversaions to neutral territory if needed. If it is longer than a few days:

      1. Does the firm have what used to be (may still be in USA) referred to as a Non-solicitation Policy – this is where it covers things like not proselytising at work, not being politically active at work, etc. If so – find that, print it out if possible, put it on his desk and highlight those parts. Also loop in HR if you can.

      2. At the same time, to be honest. there is no alt-right and I won’t get into politics here as it is not cool, but this term/wording needs to go – these views are anathema to a well-functioning work environment and well, my views on this word come from my now-deceased father who was in WWII fighting the bad guys, for context.

      3. Even if dude is in his 60’s (avoiding the whole OK boomer condescension), you can point out to him that his views are his, and to work well together he. needs to focus on his job and not on his outside opinions.

      Good luck. I get pretty riled up about this kind of thing as in the past I had to shut down several of these types of folks in a large software firm I worked for in the USA. Thankfully they had a policy to help shut it down.

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      You concentrate on behavior—if he talks about politics but doesn’t get outright nasty, tell him to stop; if he starts dropping bigotry, tell him to stop and also figure out if you feel comfortable reporting it.

      Maybe practice with a friend—saying things like, “Let’s not talk politics,” or “No politics please. Thanks” or “I’m not interested in talking about this,” or “Let’s move on.”

      You won’t persuade him to stop being a bigot, so save yourself the arguments and the impossibility of finding the right thing to say in a bad-faith conversation.

    3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      How temporary is temporary?
      If you’re only talking a few weeks (up to two months), it might be worth reminding yourself (your friend) exactly how temporary it is; it could be mentioned when the temporary assignment is over. Your friend doesn’t have the employment capital to make a big deal out of it yet, but moving on have a conversation with a work friend, or manager: “Actually I found working with Adolph to be pretty uncomfortable with some of the things he says.” and see what they reply. It could be that he already has a reputation within the organisation.
      Also, is he expecting a response, or possibly even deliberately saying this drivel in order to elicit a response? Deprive him of that satisfaction by shutting down any attempts at conversation, and directing all talking to work topics.

    4. Anonnnnn*

      If it starts going into the realm of insulting minorities and other people with protected classes (religion, gender, etc.), then it’s no longer politics and the best way to shut that down is HR. Not to assume that all right-wing views will go this way, but you mentioned alt-right. And if he’s doing this with you he’s probably doing it elsewhere at work.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Maybe spin it the other way around, just address the behavior as something your friend needs to avoid: “I just went through HR’s on-boarding process, and they instructed us to keep politics out of office conversation. Could you help me stay in their good graces by doing the same around me?” (Pause) “Who do you like for the Super Bowl?”

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        God, no. Sports fans are just as crazy as alt righters. People will literlly kill for sports.

    6. Asenath*

      I don’t talk about politics any more with anyone of any political stripes. I just say so. I think once I had to say so twice to shut it down. Mostly, “Oh, I don’t discuss politics any more. What about that report?” is all that’s needed.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      How long is temporary? A few weeks of this I would not report. If it was going to be a year of it, I probably would seriously consider reporting it.

      I’d suggest your friend say, “Oh, sorry. Work is my time out from the politics and news.”

    8. Nita*

      Been there. I was very new to the workforce and didn’t really do anything, other than gritting my teeth and reminding myself that being rude to older people, never mind actually getting in a fight with one, is not how I was raised. In hindsight, fighting the temptation to punch the guy was not the healthiest response. I’m not sure what I could have done though, as we were not even employees of the same company and as the things he said were definitely “ist” but not really specific threats to anyone (pretty sure he didn’t know I’m part of the group he keeps insulting).

    9. CM*

      Is he expressing political opinions or is he expressing contempt for people he dislikes? The second thing is sometimes misunderstood as a political opinion, so I think it’s important to clarify what’s happening.

      In the first case, new hire or not, your friend has no obligation to have non-work-related conversations that he doesn’t want to be a part of. It wouldn’t matter if the subject were politics, or dogs, or movies. So, if this dude is speaking about politics, your friend can say, “I don’t want to talk about politics,” without any guilt or hesitation.

      If it’s the second thing, it’s harder to ask him to stop because it’s harder to define what he’s doing, but I think it can still be powerful to disagree with him in the moment. Like, “Whoa, that seems harsh.” Or “I don’t think that’s true.” Or “I’m really uncomfortable with that statement.”

      I don’t think there’s a definite litmus test for when you need to complain about someone for stuff like that, and I don’t think you always have to ask someone to change their behaviour before you escalate to HR, but if your friend is unsure of what to do, asking this guy to stop talking about politics or expressing discomfort with the kinds of statements he’s making is a good first step, because, if he ignores that and keeps going, or if he reacts in a hostile way, it’s telling you something about his intentions.

  25. AnonforQ*

    I am a post grad student interested in a business analyst role after graduation. I want to know what job titles I should look for to apply to entry level roles after graduation. Also what skills are most in demand for a business analyst. I will be studying R language next semester and have taken a class in business process management. What technical and soft skills should I highlight in my resume.

    1. Digital Dragon*

      I’m an Information Analyst over in the UK, so might be a little different on the job title front if you’re USA, but I’d keep an eye out for anything with ‘analyst’ in the title, as I’ve had jobs as a a Contract Analyst, Information Analyst, and Business Analyst and they’ve all been largely the same thing.

      Hards skills wise, I know SQL, which is how I get all my data from our databases, and then Excel (pivot tables, pivot charts, occasional macros) to do the presentation parts. R is also a good language although I don’t use it in my current role. Power BI and SSRS are also good for displaying data, but it depends on what your org has. Willingness to learn new platforms is almost always looked upon favorably, and a lot of programming logic is transferable between languages.

      Soft skills, the most important one I’ve found is the ability to explain the data I’ve pulled out to people, all of whom have varying degrees of technical expertise, so highlighting good communication skills and presentation skills, with some mention of adaptability as well, would be my recommendation.

      1. LQ*

        Agreed about analyst. Management, Operations, Operational, Systems, Technical, Data….some of them are actually BAs depending on the company.

        I’d also go for the flip side of the coin here, you need to not just be able to pull information out of folks, but to do something with it and present it to nontechnical folks in a way that works for them. Being able to explain something in a way that doesn’t make me spend my weekends and evenings with google is a huge plus.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      This is a bit tricky because recruiters are terrible at putting useful information in ads for analysts. They could be looking for a Junior Analyst but expect them to build predictive models and design their whole data warehouse. Or they could be asking for a Senior Analyst and all they do is play with piviot tables in Excel all day. Generally, I apply to anything that looks like a good company and then I have a thorough discussion with the recruiter. You have to be prepared with specific questions like what daily tasks look like, and what data systems they are using.

  26. Polka Polka*

    What do you call someone who says stuff like the following on conference calls very loudly and for all to hear? But more importantly how do you address it?

    1. Isn’t your Head of Llama Grooming incompetent? And that she’s a mistress?

    2. I’m talking about the black one. (Pertaining to two partners we were discussing and the color of their skin.)

    3. Oh, he was the guy that got fired for sleeping with an intern.

    4. She’s thirsty as f***.

    I have many more but these are the highlights as of recent.

    1. StellaBella*

      ‘What do you call someone who says stuff like the following…’ .. Immature? In need of guidance on office norms? A gossip?

      If you are this person’s manager, you manage it with a direct conversation right now, on how these things are not appropriate, that the person will be put on a PIP if it happens once more, and that they need to review the firm’s policies and guidelines on how to behave in a mature manner at work.

      Also note that if what they are about to say is not kind, nor true, nor necessary to the context of the call about work, that they need to keep quiet. They contributions are gossipy and not OK, and I would also suggest saying to them too that they will not be invited to conf call in future until they prove they can be more mature. These are how I would do this and it may seem harsh but one time with any of these comments would have made me stop the call in process and directly try to address this ins a timely manner. Good luck!

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      I love the following responses:
      “Wow, did you really say that?”
      “You know we can hear you, right?”
      “That’s a pretty amazing thing to say, especially at work.”

      1. voyager1*

        Where are you and this person on the organizational chart of this company?

        #2 is racist as all get out. #1 is pretty problematic . #3 isn’t great but if it is true then is just crude. #4 honestly I giggled a little.

        But yeah this person needs a talking to from someone. If he/she is the owner or CEO then maybe try going through HR or something.

        But really this depends on high the food chain the obnoxious person is.

    3. Zona the Great*

      Honestly, the leader of the conference call needs to tell her to please excuse herself from the conference call, email her afterwards, and say, “Delila, when you are on a conference call, especially one I arrange and invite you to participate in, it is wildly inappropriate to say X, Y, Z. Quite frankly, it would be inappropriate to say things like that anywhere. The next time it happens I will have to loop in Boss and/or HR depending on how appropriate it is.”

      Otherwise, a great way to respond to many crazy things like this is “what do you mean by that?” and let the person tell you exactly what they mean by that.

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      What do you call someone who says stuff like the following on conference calls very loudly and for all to hear?

      Unemployed, if I was this person’s manager. Dear lord.

    5. Anon Here*

      Obviously, it depends on the nature of the professional relationship. This sounds like a client, vendor, or someone from another part of the company, based on the examples.

      In my experience, when people do this, they want a certain kind of attention. They want to see people get uncomfortable while trying to remain polite. They’re also looking for responses like, “That’s an unacceptable thing to say,” so they can respond with an insult that usually invokes politics or gender stereotypes. “I’m being real and you can’t handle it,” will be the message. It’s a ploy. It’s a power trip.

      I like to catch them off guard by taking an alternate route. I give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are having a medical episode. Then I respond accordingly, like I’m talking to someone who is behaving erratically due to dementia or severe intoxication. I suddenly speak slowly and gently, taking extra time with things. If possible, I ask if they need a break, if they need to get some rest, and suggest that we reconvene another day. That almost always gets the message across. The next step and other option is to just hang up on them, and sever the business relationship. And maybe express your concerns to their manager.

      I would suggest talking to any co-workers who are also dealing with this and coming up with a game plan. You need to shut it down in a way that doesn’t give the person any leverage to escalate it.

    6. Kendra*

      If this was happening in person, I would stop the meeting and just stare at them until they shut up, and then have a very pointed conversation with them in private afterward. In this case, since you’re on a phone call, a very firm and frosty “Excuse me?” or muting their audio (if you can) would definitely be appropriate, and then ask them to stay on the line at the end of the meeting so that you can have that little chat, where you explain to them exactly what they need to do if they would like to remain employed (hint: requiring written apologies to every meeting attendee wouldn’t be going too far, get him some extra training with HR, and DEFINITELY write up a reprimand for his file).

      That’s all if you’re the one in charge; if this person is on the same level as you, or higher, then start job hunting immediately. If your workplace is allowing comments like this during business meetings, and whoever’s in charge isn’t shutting them down hard, you work in a toxic environment and need to get out yesterday.

  27. Foreign Octopus*

    I’m seriously contemplating going back to university for my master’s degree. I would be studying something along the lines of Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic as I love languages and politics and history so it’s a nice compilation of all the things I enjoy. However, the cost of it is what’s giving me pause as it’ll be £26,000 for the two years of study, plus time spent in Jordan in the summer between. I really do want to study it but can I justify the cost of it? Has anyone studied this subject or gone back to university to study something you loved? Was it worth it?

    1. StellaBella*

      Oooh how fun, that sounds amazing.

      I took time off to go back to get an MSc in something I loved. I funded it myself but in the UK I think there are lots of options for grants and bursaries and scholarships. here are a few I found that may help you:

      The British Council Arabic Language and Culture Programme may be a place to start, with the Qatar Foundation.

      Look at the Arabic Language Training in Amman Scholarships in Modern Standard Arabic | CBRL’s British Institute in Amman – CBRL is the Council for British research in the Levant.

      This may not apply but look at the Ibn Battuta Arabic Scholarships that ‘aim to reward students for excellence and dedication to the study of the Arabic language as well as promote the study of Arabic as a foreign language.’

      Finally, check out study-uk dot britishcouncil dot org. They have other language scholarships that may be of help too. Good luck! :)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Thank you so much for this generous response!

        I’d never heard of the CBRL before so really appreciate you flagging that for me. I think I’m definitely going to have to go down the scholarship route to try and find part of it, so these are so useful. There’s more help in the UK for funding than perhaps in other countries, it’s just finding the right path.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond!

        1. misspiggy*

          Also have a look at Turn2Us for smaller funding options. And gov.uk for info on the Advanced Learner Loan and associated grants.

          I took a similarly-timed study break and it was the making of my career – good luck!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Any chance you could find a job that pays you to learn?
      Over here in the US, Farsi & Arabic language experts are in demand in government. (A gov’t translator I know had a Farsi dictionary dropped on his desk at the end of September 2001… “You’re now our Farsi expert.” (Not as problematic as it sounds–it was an emergency fix. He was well known for learning languages quickly, he was given training budget & time to study, and their next job posting looked for a native speaker. He ended up their Farsi backup.)

    3. MissDisplaced*

      I’m not in the UK or Europe so my take on university may be different so I don’t mean to offend.
      But there is absolutely no way I would consider going for a masters and going into debt for it unless it was in a directly employable subject that enhanced my career that I was already working in (so that I could move up and get promoted).

      But you know, I think the US only looks at university studies as a means for gainful employment now and not learning for learning sake.

  28. Anon with no name*

    My job needs to stop giving me reasons to rage quit in righteous indignation… I can’t afford to quit at all. I need this job for as long as possible until hopefully my loans will be waved in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program but i have my doubts with all those articles saying how everyone is getting rejected……. Or at least until I can find a new one. And I have to keep reminding myself that they’re not actually being evil or deliberately offensive …. just a lot of well intended actions are often seen as patronizing to the people we’re supposed to be helping…. There’s so much that the organization could do better but I don’t know how to make changes in that area…

    1. I Have All Of The Questions*

      I have had two of those jobs in a row. I don’t know why I pick them but I do… I need a checklist to find out what to look for in bad jobs during interviews.

      Because my job search has gone on for 8 months and every morning I keep waking up later and later….

    2. Kiwiii*

      I think there’s a way to check up on if your Public Service Loan Forgiveness thing will be going through/when through a government website. I know when I was with the state they mentioned something about registering or applying early to keep track of time banked? It was a few years ago and I wasn’t paying great attention because I knew I wouldn’t be there for more than 3 years, but it might be looking into now so it’s not something you’re surprised by later (or wasting time somewhere awful for no reason).

      1. Anon with no name*

        Yes supposedly if you fill out a form there’s a way to make sure the payments are being counted and the website also counts the number of payments…. I’m just terrified that they’re still going to end up denying me or some shit because of the numbers of people already denied…. However I’m also pretty sure the ones being denied now are the first group of people who signed up and that form wasn’t a required form at first or it still might not be? So people don’t use it until the end and then it’s too late to figure out what to do… I hope that’s the case anyway… Still sucks for them and I feel bad so many are getting screwed but I’m hoping I’m in a better place… otherwise I really am screwed.

  29. StellaBella*

    Recently here I put up a question about bullying and prevalence of it, and if it seems to be increasing in the work world. I want to thank all the commenters and Alison on their points of view. My view on this was pretty narrow and I now see that safe spaces for reporting and talking about this have increased, and so has the overall awareness of it all.

    Thanks for the views and perspective!

    1. Not a manager*

      The company I work for offers a technical track for people who want more responsibilities but who do not want to be people managers. My role is considered a leadership role but I am not a manager.

      I am involved in mentoring and in setting standards and processes, but I have no direct people-management responsibilities.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is my lane as well, and I love it. I don’t think I’d ever want to have direct reports – too stressful.

    2. Manager*

      I’m a manager. My direct reports generally do what I ask them to because I am their boss. I plan work and allocate resources to achieve goals. I reward good performance with raises and punish poor performance with a variety of tools, depending on the situation.

      Leaders have followers. They inspire the kind of zeal that makes people want to share the org’s mission and objective. Folks at the bottom of the org chart can lead by example and others will follow them.

      Of course, a person can be both. But it’s not automatic. I didn’t become a leader when I was promoted to manager.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Managers are doing just that-> managing their direct reports. They handle scheduling, minor issues, and they keep their department running. Leaders chose the direction of their organization, they are involved in higher level decision making and strategic plans. Orgs usually have a “Leadership Team” that has the strongest decision makers to make these big picture goals.

    4. CM*

      I think management is a set of job responsibilities, and leadership is an interpersonal skill that involves convincing other people to have confidence in you such that they want to follow of their own free will.

      So, managers can be good leaders or bad leaders, and people outside management can be good leaders or bad leaders — the two things are independent.

      (Leadership can also be problematic, because people are biased in terms of who they choose to have confidence in, and some people have a lot more barriers to overcome in order to get other people to see them as leaders — but, as a pure concept, I think leadership is a skill and management is a set of responsibilities).

  30. Jaid*

    I was off on Monday, got holiday time for Tuesday and Wednesday, came in yesterday, and plan on leaving early today. Most everyone is out except for those who don’t have PTO left and the two of us who tend to come in anyway.

    Man, it’s super quiet, though. If I had work, I’d get so much done.

    1. Curious about Cats*

      Ive been there. Maybe slip out the side door and then have a case of eye trouble (you know, can’t see coming back to work with nothing to do!)

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      I know the feeling. Being a receptionist during the holidays is so…meh. Either no one is here to answer their question, or the phones are dead because clients know no one is here. I too would love to catch up on work, but I don’t really have anything to catch up. Ugh, I can’t wait to get back to regular time.

    3. Public Facing Librarian*

      It is super dead here. Not one customer. An exhibit video on endless loop is super annoying. (Can I shut off the sound?) Catching up on emails. Reading AAM on work time seems super luxurious.

  31. miserable.*

    I’m currently struggling with a new job where my officemate insists on playing the radio all day. Originally she brought in this radio supposedly to listen to Christmas music. I assumed the radio would be put away when the Christmas music stopped. I was horrified to realize she intended the radio to stay on all the time. Christmas music is one thing, but the regular playlist of the station she listens to is another. I just really hate the songs and it’s disrupting my concentration and it gets on my last nerve when particularly ugly songs come on. I’m new on this job and don’t feel I can say anything about it. (One time I didn’t turn on the radio when I came in the morning, since my hours start before hers, and when she arrived she was all “Where’s the radio?” and switched it on.) This was not the type of office atmosphere I observed during the interview process, so I’m very disappointed and wondering how I’m supposed to cope with this now.

    I don’t understand why people are so attached to having noise in the background all the time – music, talk radio, TV – I just don’t get it.

    1. Purt’s Peas*

      That’s annoying! Are you in an office that’s OK with headphones? If so it’s reasonable to ask for headphones. If not, it’s reasonable to ask for some time when the radio is off—or maybe switched to a classical music station as the next best thing to being off—no lyrics or pop hooks.

    2. Fikly*

      When your coping mechanism starts infringing on other people, it’s just rude.

      She needs to use headphones. If your workplace has a policy against headphones, they should also have a policy against music.

    3. Mazzy*

      Definitely say something! I got the office radio shut down! I agree about the background noise thing, at past past job we settled on oldies, which ended up not being that old, and it was fine. But at my current job with lots of 20 somethings we delved into the horrible stuff on the radio that I didn’t think anyone actually listened to. Since headphones should be ubiquitous now, they rolled their eyes and we were done. Also, I threatened to interject my music into the mix and they all balked, even though no one knew half the stuff!

    4. Dittany*

      It’s absolutely within your rights to ask her to stop doing something that’s bugging you. If she’s at all reasonable, she’ll find some way to compromise – listen to music with headphones, or only have the radio playing at certain times.

    5. Parenthetically*

      Don’t bother to try to “get it.” Framing it as needing to understand why this Strange Creature does these Strange Things will, I promise you, get you nowhere. Stop trying to cope with it, and speak up. It doesn’t have to be a referendum on your officemate as a person, your taste in music, or anything else, just a simple request, simply stated:

      “Hey Jane, since Christmas is over, would you mind switching to headphones? I’m finding the music is disrupting my concentration. I appreciate it!”

      or

      “Hey, Jane, I’m finding the music is disrupting my concentration. Would you mind if we switched to a classical station?”

    6. WellRed*

      When she asks where the radio is, that’s the perfect time to let her know you find it distracting and offer a compromise or two.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Yes, that would have been the perfect opening. But you can and should still say, “You know, I realized that the music is really distracting me. I didn’t mind so much when it was holiday music but I really prefer not to have anything playing. Could we keep the radio off, please?”

        FWIW, I like having background noise vs dead silence but anything with lyrics is a major distraction for me, even music I love, so I’d have the same issue as you.

    7. Kiwiii*

      if headphones are a thing in your office, maybe one or both of you could wear them. if they’re not, mention you mind it distracting. if she needs it to concentrate, maybe discuss channels without words or music you particularly like?

      1. miserable.*

        Thanks for responses, all. Headphones wouldn’t work as it’s a reception area. I can’t think of a graceful way to say “I hate your music.” The problem isn’t that it’s too loud, the problem is that the music is horrible. (In my opinion. It’s the sort of middle-of-the-road blecchy-pop all-autotune all-the-time station that probably no one else would find all that objectionable.)

        I’m waiting to see if she puts the radio away once the holidays are over and we have high traffic in our office once again.

        1. Parenthetically*

          You do not have to say “I hate your music,” graciously or otherwise. You simply need to inform her that you find the music distracting.

          Your taste in music vs. her taste in music is not the issue, and if you continue to frame it that way, in your mind or to her, you’ll come off as fussy and smug. Ask her to turn it off because you find it distracts you from your work, with a voice of cheery expectation. End of conversation. And have the conversation soon — you’re already at a level of exasperation that’s going to make it difficult for you to be calm, polite, and objective, and you MUST be calm, polite, and objective.

    8. LilySparrow*

      “Hey, Jane, it was one thing to have Christmas music. It was never supposed to be a permanent change. Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to go back to normal. It’s just too distracting to have music all the time.”

      She’s not your boss, she’s your peer. Your options are to politely say what you want, or refuse to give input and just be irritated.

      You may feel that stating a completely reasonable preference isn’t worth the momentary discomfort. But there is literally no other sane way to get what you want here. So bear in mind that every moment of annoyance at the radio is your choice.

      I would advise you from long experience, that it is much, much easier to speak up quickly and still be polite. If you wait until you can’t stand it anymore, you will be snarky and needlessly hostile. The longer you stew about it, the harder it will be to preserve a good working relationship.

  32. Filling up the Furniture*

    First world problem here! I made it to the C suite and inherited an office full of heavy, dark wood, glass front furniture. I have nearly nothing to put in it! Do I run to the thrift store and fill it with tchotchkes? At least 2/3 of it will be empty, and that’s with me STRETCHING what I’ve got and bringing stuff from home. Any advice?
    Happy holidays, AAM family!

    1. Morning reader*

      1) books. Buy a selection of used or rotate a display with what you have checked out at the library
      2) a large ship model (or something similar) might take up a whole shelf
      3) if you have a team, offer a shelf as display space for a collection (rotating again, subject to your approval) or if you have a creative team member, someone who does their own space up nicely, delegate the display space management to them.
      Or, just leave it empty until the workflow fills it up. Junk finds a way.

    2. legalchef*

      Oooh this is fun! Picture frames with photos of friends/family or scenery that you love?

      Or if you have any empty vases or decorative bowls that works too.

      Maybe some seasonal decorations that you change out?

      It also doesn’t need to be filled up right away! You can add things to it over time. If it looks too empty maybe a couple baskets to make it look like there is stuff there :)

    3. Public Facing Librarian*

      Books, books, books. Don’t just fill the shelves. What delights you? Framed pictures of kittens, animatronic squirrels? Board games for OMG we need a break!
      Face out children’s picture books that you love. They make a nice ice breaker. There is no rush. Let the filling begin organically.
      Plan b. If you don’t have to keep the furniture , get rid of it and go mid century modern.

      1. Public Facing Librarian*

        I sort if did the get rid of when I got my new office. And replaced that stuff with a couch.

    4. Curious about Cats*

      You’re sweating the small stuff. Leave the shelves empty until you have items that are meaningful to you that you wish to display, unless you’re going for the grandma dust collector vibe.

    5. Lora*

      Do you have to have the furniture at all? If it’s going to be empty, can they take it away? Is there other furniture you’d rather have? Most places I’ve worked have a warehouse area for unused furniture that people swap between offices.

      My own office is chock full of books, tea and snacks, as others have said, but at offices where plants were allowed we practically had a jungle of them. There was a whole wall in the lab covered in spider plants and ferns and stuff. I used to have a freshwater fish tank with goldfish, and some of my colleagues had salt water tanks with more exotic critters. I’d happily change out the glass front cabinets for plant stands with LED lights, a fish tank (the pump effectively makes white noise which is VERY helpful in most offices). And I always need some sort of storage / shelving thingy for “things I got at trade shows that might be useful about one day out of every two years” type of crap. I have infinity logo t-shirts, stress balls, coffee mugs, tote bags, etc. and eeeeeevery once in a while I actually need them and I’m glad I have them, but in the meantime I gotta stash it somewhere.

      Also, lighting! One of the delights of having my own space was, I could change the lighting to task lighting instead of overhead fluorescent, which I vastly prefer.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      First question: Do you have to keep it all in your office?
      If you’re really not going to use all of the pieces, I’d ask if maybe 1-2 things could be removed to open up the space.
      Someone else may need the extra bookcase.

      I personally would not rush to fill it. But maybe one or two larger pieces you enjoy or some books.
      I also like those magazine files, which look kind of nice on the shelf, even if there’s nothing in them. You can also get matching boxes, which take up space and look nice.

    7. Filling Up the Furniture*

      Thank you for the advice! Unfortunately I do need to keep it all; we are government offices with zero current budget for replacement furniture, and a director who I believe personally selected all of the pieces. They’re definitely a status set for someone at least 20 years older than me! I think I’ll lead with the books. I definitely have eclectic tastes, so they’ll be a conversation starter. I’ve already been able to set the tone with art from home.

      Thanks again!

  33. Anon for this...and happy new year!*

    Any Certified Financial Planners on here? I’m looking at doing a slight zag in my career track from CPA in private industry. I’m over 50 though and not sure if getting the certification is worth the time and effort or if I’ll just end up not being able to get a job because no one wants an older entry level person….

    1. You can't fire me; I don't work in this van*

      I was an admin who worked with financial consultants and wealth management advisers for 4 years, many of whom had the CFP designation. Being a CFP is not really relevant to being successful in that type of role, but it’s an added bonus because it makes clients feel better about your background.

      I would actually argue that your age is a plus in a financial planning role. Most people who see a financial planner are over 50, and in my observation, the clients at my firm felt more comfortable talking about their finances with someone they saw as a peer vs. someone the same as their kids.

    2. DCGirl*

      I worked at a company that provided retirement plans (401 and 457 plans) for state and local government workers and also provided onsite financial education and consultation for plan participants, including access to a CFP. One of that company’s differentiators at the time was that our financial planning services were provided by CFPs. Clients liked that. The designation does carry weight in some circles.

    3. Ann Perkins*

      I work in financial planning services also and am planning to get my CFP sometime in the next couple years. What type of role are you interested in? The CFP is great these days for knowledge and for credibility with clients. Many fee based firms will want their advisors and staff to have CFPs.

      My sister is a CPA and recently asked me about this also, but she works in internal auditing and I told her it probably would not be helpful for what she does, she’s going to likely get her fraud examiner certificate instead.

  34. Kate*

    A question for the working parents out there:

    Now that the Christmas break is over, it’s (unbelievably!) time for summer camp registration to start— even for our local community centre’s day camps. To make things more complicated, this is the first year since my kid’s dad and I split up, so we have to work custody arrangements into the whole thing. Travel is a necessary evil here, because my company has assigned me to an overseas office while her dad lives back in North America.

    I mentioned in another thread that my office has a system where we get asked once a quarter for our vacation time wish list for the next quarter, but we can still make ad hoc requests throughout the quarter.

    Most of the time, this works pretty well. My problem is that *personally* I have to make these decisions two quarters in advance (first week of July is third quarter). There’s no way it’s reasonable to be asking the non-parents on the team to hammer out their plans that far in advance, but realistically, I’m left guessing and frankly, going ahead and quietly making plans on the assumption that they will get approved in the end. If there are crazy change fees in the event that things don’t work out as planned, I guess I just have to eat them.

    …is there a better way for me to be doing this? Any ideas I haven’t thought of? Tips and tricks for handling this going forward?

    1. annony*

      Can you ask about putting your requests in early? They may simply not have realized that some people need to make plans earlier. If the answer is no, you haven’t lost anything by asking. You could also volunteer to work on some undesirable days in exchange for being guaranteed the days off you need.

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

    My company closed for the holidays! And we don’t use our PTO!
    The downside is we are on call, so we need to carry our computer just in case, but hey, I have unexpected free time! Last Friday I laughed my lungs out when the Architect, the Team Leader and the Operations guys “raided” the snacks machine to spend their remaining credit before it expired.

  36. Public Facing Librarian*

    Working today and planning a sudden public event a week from now. Four hour ref desk. Skeleton crew today. All hands on deck for the program next week after New Years.

    1. Pam*

      I went into my university library on the 23rd to get some books. I think I was the only customer, which made wandering the stacks a little weird.

  37. LGC*

    So – I’m rewriting my resume, but…one of the things that trips me up is that I never completed college. I’m somewhat out of my college years, but it still makes me insanely nervous. And I’ve looked through the archives, but I’m still a bit confused. Help!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What are you confused by? You could list it as

      Llama University – Llamatown, USA
      Completed coursework in grooming, hoof maintenance and llama dance choreography

      or you could just leave it off, if you don’t think the coursework you completed will be useful or relevant (or if I’m misreading and you didn’t attend college at all, but “I never completed” reads to me like you did start).

      1. LGC*

        Basically, how to list it. I did complete some coursework, but that was over a decade ago in fields tangentially related to what I’m looking to go into. So, to use your example, I did complete some coursework in llama grooming and stage lighting 10 years ago, but in my current job I learned how to do llama choreography and I want to move into that direction professionally.

        I think what you suggested might work, so I’ll give it a try.

        (As an aside, straight out of high school I did end up going to a prestigious school for teapot design and dropped out of that. So yeah, my secondary education is a mess.)

        (Also, I have now Googled “llamas with hats” and there goes whatever productivity I had planned this morning. Which was basically “do laundry,” but it was something.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I recently, in “Surprise Me” link-hopping around AAM, came across a suggestion from our esteemed host that if you’ve done the majority of a degree’s worth of coursework, you could list it as something like

          Llama University – Llamatown, USA
          Coursework for BA in Llama Maintenance (105 out of 120 credits completed)

          I feel you though, on the discombobulation of secondary education – I flunked out of three colleges and got four degrees at varying levels from three more with transfer credits from a seventh. It’s easier for me though, in that I just don’t list the first three :P But when something comes up that wants transcripts from all colleges I attended, no really we mean ALL OF THEM, it gets fiddly.

      2. Ginger Baker*

        ^I list something like “two years, XYZ College” and do not (obvs) list a degree. It’s always been clear to folks that I took some courses but did not finish (and in any case at this point in my career, my work history is more than sufficient to speak for itself!)

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

        I’ve advised library patrons to say “X credits earned toward Bachelor of Arts in whatever”. Red Reader’s suggestion is good also.

        It’s better to list some college than to leave it off altogether.

        1. LGC*

          Thanks – I’ve always kind of internalized the opposite (from above, it was a while back, and I’ve always thought it looked worse to list it).

  38. Qwertyuiop*

    To preface: I work in an environment where it’s very rowdy- it’s normal to swear, be crass, sarcastic, laid back, et1c. We also talk about religion, politics, and other things that you’re “not supposed” to talk about.

    My boss was going over reports and asked if it was okay if my work contact info on there. I was busy trying to input data and was half paying attention, so I hesitated before answering.

    Out of the blue he then asked me, “You’re not thinking of leaving the company, are you?”

    I replied, “Not yet.”

    He looked surprised and I started laughing. I said that I was joking and said no, I’m not going anywhere. He laughed and seemed relieved.

    At the holiday party, boss singles me out and says that I should tell everyone what I told him about what I said when he asked if I was leaving. My coworkers all looked at me and asked if I gave my notice. Boss then told them what I said and they all laughed.

    I felt embarrassed because this was in front of multiple departments and there were a lot of people in the room.

    Was my response to his question that bad? I think a few coworkers could tell that I was embarrassed and tried to joke around to make me feel better.

    It’s just difficult to gage how to act because it seems to be okay for others to be sarcastic but not me. I’ve heard other people say similar things and give more crass answers. They always think we’re leaving and it’s tiring trying to reassure them all of the time.

    1. LGC*

      To give him the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like he actually did think you were genuine for a moment, and then tried (poorly) to relay that to everyone at the holiday party. So it sounds like your joke might have fallen a bit flat, and then his joke about your joke fell really flat.

      So, like – two things: First, if you’re friendly with your boss, you can just ask if he genuinely thought you were going to leave. I’m not so sure if it’s a sarcasm thing as much as it is a “does he think you’re on your way out the door” thing. If he did think you were going to leave in the near term, your next question is to ask yourself (or someone else) why he would ever think that.

      Second – if you feel like you have the standing to, you can say that you felt a bit uncomfortable when he said that at the party. Even if he was trying to be funny, he still made you feel embarrassed. If he wasn’t trying to be malicious, then he’ll probably be embarrassed in turn. And if he was…you might want to start reconsidering your answer to him. (Quitting your job and finding a new one: the solution to all AAM problems.)

      (As for part 2 – this is also something I’m working on myself. Sometimes – mostly outside of work – people will joke with me and I just won’t…find the joke funny, and people will assume I don’t get the joke. And it’s like, “no, I get what you were trying to do, you just did it poorly.” But that sounds really impolite, so I rarely say that and just default to stony silence, which often makes the situation even more uncomfortable for everyone else.)

      1. Alianora*

        Your aside at the end – consider giving a courtesy laugh for harmless unfunny jokes. I know it can feel like lying, but in my experience it’s the most polite/socially adept option in most cases.

        1. LGC*

          Which I do sometimes! But I’m talking about cases where I do find the joke somewhat “harmful,” or at least uncomfortable for me – kind of like Qwerty did about their supervisor’s joke. And that’s the tricky thing – I agree with you that the supervisor probably did find the situation funny (as did most of the people around them), but Qwerty felt awkward about it because they felt like they were put on the spot. And I think that’s fine.

          1. LGC*

            (I think the discomfort is fine, not what the supervisor said. Basically, it’s okay to not find jokes funny even if people don’t mean any harm with them, I think.)

          2. Alianora*

            Qwerty said, “it seems to be okay for others to be sarcastic but not me.” That’s what I’m responding to – I don’t think the boss has any problem with Qwerty being sarcastic.

            1. LGC*

              I agree, but I don’t think it’s about Qwerty being sarcastic – it just sounds like a bunch of misunderstandings piling up on top of each other! (Okay, mostly on OP’s end.) I think it can all be true that Qwerty is fine with being sarcastic overall, that if their boss did seem to take them seriously that is worth looking at imo, that their boss was joking himself at the party, and that they’re not in the wrong for feeling uncomfortable about it.

    2. Alianora*

      Sounds to me like he actually really liked your sarcastic joke and that’s why he asked you to repeat it at the party. If you aren’t normally sarcastic that probably contributed to his surprise and enjoyment of the joke.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You are probably fine here. Bottom line the boss and others showed concern that you might leave. This is a good thing.

  39. Llama Face!*

    I have been waiting all week to say this: I saw actual Hanukah Balls for sale this week! Or at least I’m pretty sure that’s what they were supposed to be. Like regular red coloured glass ball ornaments with a gold inscription on them that looked like it was in the hebrew alphabet.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I actually have that page open now, so I’ll share the link for Curious & others who might not have found that post yet. In a link so we don’t all do the same.
      It’s from December 2014, when Alison asked for weird office holiday stories.

    2. Tomacco*

      My partner has a much-loved selection of glittery blue Hanukah Balls with silver menorah and dreidels on them that get put up every year. In our home though, not at work.

  40. Sienna S.*

    Looking for a bit of advice.

    I interviewed for one job, let’s say its a Lead Unicorn Specialist. I have some specialty in Unicorn analysis, but wanted to learn more about Unicorn Sparkles and Unicorn Rainbows. I accepted the offer with the expressed interest of learning Sparkles and Rainbows.

    I took the job at the client site and 3 months in, the client decides to move me to Centaur Blacksmithing. I told the client that I do not know much (if anything) about Centaur Blacksmithing and really would want to do more Unicorn Analysis. The client said we don’t have anything with that right now, so you’re going to do Centaur Blacksmithing. I told my company HR specialist this at my new employee check in, stating that I was willing to help with Centaur Blacksmithing for a time since there was a critical need to do so, but that I really would like to go back to Unicorn analysis. I also informed my direct manager AND account manager of this. They come back to me with a job doing Fairy Dusting. Again, I stated that Fairy Dusting is a good career track, but I really had my eyes on Unicorn Analysis.

    So, here I am, almost 2 months into Centaur Blacksmithing and I hate it. I’m not that particularly good at it, not that it’s not the hardest job in the world but it doesn’t help that I have no interest in it and I’m resentful of being placed here. However, I can’t really start a job search until Feb or so. How do I make the best of this role until I can find a role in the specialty I was originally interested in?

    1. BeeGee*

      I would say to make the best of it, be sure to keep track of notable projects or accomplishments you can take on in the meantime. I’ve had poop jobs before where I’m pretty stuck, but I felt like it helped if I could try and figure out how I could at least make as big of a difference in that role, whether it was to update/overhaul a process or onboarding a new resource that would improve workflow. Something that I could feel like I was making an improvement or notable contribution to help boost my investment in the position and would look good on a resume.

    2. LunaLena*

      Try to think of it as a learning opportunity to make you a better-rounded Unicorn Analyst, like taking a college course that’s required for your degree but is not in your area of interest at all. Just because Centaur Blacksmithing is only vaguely related to Unicorn Analysis doesn’t mean there isn’t something to learn that might come in useful some day. For example, Hugging Bears is what I do for a living and what I’m good at, but I also have a little experience in Bear Dentistry. I’m actually not very good at Bear Dentistry and a lot of it does not come easily to me, but because I have some basic knowledge and firsthand experience in it, it makes it much easier to work with actual Bear Dentists because I understand their workflow, the terminology they use, and how I can hug bears in a way that’s useful to them.

      I also recommend keeping up with developments in Unicorn Analysis in your spare time (reading articles, keeping up to date with trends, taking on freelance projects, whatever you can do to keep your hand in), so when you’re ready to job search, you can talk about how, even though your current job didn’t revolve around it, you remained interested and committed to staying in that field.

    3. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I don’t have any good advice here. I just wanted to say all of the job descriptions here make me smile and really wish I could pursue them as valid career options.

    4. Close Bracket*

      Oooh, I am you. I had some centaur deliverables that I am close to completing, and I am saying things like, “I am leaving centaur blacksmithing once I am done with the low desert horse shoe design,” to the centaur team and, “I am about all done with the low desert horse shoe design and will need a new program soon,” to my manager. So far, I’ve only found a fairy dust program, but I at least got my manager to agree that fairy dust was not a good move for me.

  41. X_Raeof HR*

    I just read a horrifying article about a slanted toilet designed to cause discomfort and leg fatigue in 5 minutes. The purpose, of course, is to increase productivity of staff who cannot be trusted to use the bathroom without “abusing” the privilege. How long until this monstrosity shows up in a letter?

    1. Curious about Cats*

      Just shove enough copies of the employee handbook under the toilet lid to remove the slate. Be sure to the setup intact for the next user.

      1. valentine*

        The entire toilet is tilted down. The wall is its anchor. If you can’t hover over a regular toilet, you probably can’t use this one.

    2. Anon Here*

      Woah. That can’t possibly be legal. What about all the basic biological reasons for people to use a toilet for more than five minutes? Obviously, on-going medical things could be a factor, but it’s not limited to that. I mean, what about mild food poisoning where you feel fine but just need extra toilet time? I think a lot of us have had days like that. So many other things come to mind.

      Also, isn’t this discriminatory along anatomical lines? Because some people can pee standing while others can’t? And people have different leg lengths?

      I’m thinking it must be a joke, and it couldn’t possibly last long. I hope!

      1. J.B.*

        A long time. Leased office spaces aren’t going to spring for them. Only maybe Amazon if they got some extra squeezing people time out of it. And they would totally not be handicapped accessible, so people might pile up in handicap stalls and I could see creating an HR and local code nightmare out of it >:)

    3. Anonnnnn*

      I heard about those. It sounds like an HR nightmare waiting to happen, because what it’s going to end up doing is shame people with IBS and other health issues. I can just see the lawyers rubbing their hands together in excited anticipation.

      1. Grace*

        Also, Bad Period Days happen. Most people with a uterus have times when it takes longer than five minutes to get everything tidied up and arranged to their satisfaction. You could argue sexism, as well.

      2. corporate engineering layoff woo*

        Lawyers definitely have mentioned on Twitter that they’re planning to support coming down on anyone who actually gets these installed.

    4. Just Another Manic Millie*

      A company where I once had a summer job would want to order those toilets. The lighting in the ladies room was so dim that you literally couldn’t recognize yourself in the mirror. (I am not exaggerating.) I asked a manager about this, and he said that if there was decent lighting in the ladies room, the girls [sic] would spend all day there and wouldn’t get any work done.

    5. ...*

      I highly doubt any large companies will install t hose bc they tend to have HR departments and small companies aren’t going to install them because they are pricey. I honestly thought it was from the onion but maybe its real lol, although i doubt anyone is buying that

      1. Fikly*

        You must have missed all those news stories about large companies being sued for massive employee rights violations.

  42. Stuck in the Past*

    Hi! I started reading AAM a couple of months ago and love it. I figured I’d ask for a little advice here while I have a chance and a dilemma.

    I work for a company that is completely stuck in the past. I see all of my friends and family around me working much more flexible schedules, working from home, having way more or unlimited PTO (something I was lucky enough to have in a job once and valued a ton), yet I am here accruing .385 vacation hours a week but only up to 10 days a year and no, overtime hours do not count!

    I am in my mid-20’s and started this job with the understanding that it would be a 3-month job after a lay-off while I figured my life out. Well, 9 months later, I am still here and am feeling increasingly trapped. When I broach the subject of working from home (not all the time or every week, just on certain days such as the day after Thanksgiving when only 5 people were in the office, or other slow Fridays throughout the year), I am turned down by my direct boss. When I ask if I can take unpaid time off because I don’t have the hours accrued to take regular PTO, the answer is no. When I come in and work on weekends, I am paid hourly so get paid overtime, but nothing counts towards PTO or allows me to leave work a little early one day the following week. I enjoy my job for what it is but it doesn’t make me happy or leave me feeling fulfilled. I enjoy the people I work with and they make work bearable, but in my mind, nothing is worth feeling trapped and unable to do the things I want to do because I only have 10 days off a year. I do get 6 paid holidays, too.

    How do I approach the subjects of working from home and taking unpaid time off again? Do I stick to communicating with my direct boss? Or our boss above her? Or HR? When I asked HR about some of these work from home policies before, she made it seem like she knew nothing about them. I’d love any advice from you all. Has anyone dealt with this before and trailblazed a new path? I’d love to be that person, but I’m not even sure it’s possible here. Thank you!

    1. Curious about Cats*

      Sounds like most jobs with regards to PTO, Holidays and being at work if you don’t have PTO. Stop comparing your job to others that have better benefits. There are many jobs that have zero benefits.

      I think you already asked and got an answer about working from home.

      1. Stuck in the Past*

        Well, the answer I got from my direct boss about working from home the Friday after Thanksgiving was “we want to wait until you get more settled before talking about working from home” which seemed like a weird excuse to tell someone who has been in a position for 8 months…and I asked the HR woman if that was a normal thing, and she had no idea about it. I didn’t push it any further. I don’t think that line from my direct boss was rooted in any policy, I think she just wanted me to be here while she was home relaxing with her cats. I just don’t know if it’s worth bringing up again.

        I think in 2019, MOST jobs are at least starting to become more flexible about WFH, time off, etc. I look around and can’t help but compare my situation to other situations. I wrote in because I feel like there is room to work with this, as my entire job is on a computer…but I just don’t know how to go about doing it. This is something that’s become pretty important to me since I started here and I never realized how good I had it at my last 2 jobs.

        1. annony*

          It’s worth considering whether it is worth the time and energy to try to convince them to allow WFH. You already said that you don’t want to stay at this job and it will be difficult to impossible to convince your manager to allow this as someone who has been there for under a year when she is already so opposed to it. In your position, I would put all my energy into job searching. Additionally, you can push back against weekend overtime whenever possible by pointing out that it isn’t with it to you to come in for two hours due to your commute.

        2. ...*

          Sounds like it may not be a good fit with that company. My company would never allow any of those things either so you certainly aren’t alone.

      2. Parenthetically*

        “Stop comparing your job to others that have better benefits. There are many jobs that have zero benefits.”

        Can we… can we not do this? It’s okay for someone to be dissatisfied with their situation at work, and telling someone to stop complaining because other people have it worse is about the least helpful way to approach problem-solving. I’m allowed to try to change things even if my job isn’t the absolute worst-case scenario.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          For realz. My husband was in a job that had like 3 days PTO every year and it became completely untenable once we had our daughter. So he left for a place with 3 weeks off plus 2 weeks sick leave (and paternity leave YAY!!). It is perfectly acceptable to decide that work-life balance is non-negotiable.

      3. ...*

        But this is her life and she wants to make it good? So why not compare it to other people’s if that helps her improve her job and life? Obviously way to much nit picking comparison isn’t good, but like, if you always have the “Well I can’t complain someone has it worse” you’re setting yourself up for a joyless life of constantly selling yourself short. Personally I think these are OK benefits that are described, not great, not offensive. So why can’ someone go in search of good or great if they want?

    2. LQ*

      You need to decide if this is the hill you want to die on, if you have the clout to push for this, and you have to decide if you can make a good enough case for it. I also think you have to consider if you got this would you be happy at work, because it doesn’t sound like this is a “everything is perfect but this one thing” situation. (Yes yes, it would be lovely and perfect in a different world for everything to be different than it is. And yes you should just be able to ask and your bosses give you the world. But that hasn’t happened.) You have to build a case for it. And not a case about you, but a case about the company and how it’s good for the company to do it. I want it because I don’t like feeling trapped will never convince someone who is opposed to wfh. Start small, plan ahead, pick something that would be likely to be a success, and would make a difference for the work. “I have a project that I really need uninterrupted time to work on and if I can wfh it will let me put my head down without distraction for a day.” Then you need to churn that work out faster, better quality, and more polished than normal. Then do it again. Then again. (Also, I want to work from home because it’s a slow day sounds to me like I want to work from home and not actually work. I am sure that’s not what you intended, but someone who is opposed to wfh would absolutely hear that. Just beware of how you’re putting things out there. Especially since you’re hourly. You are actually paid for your butt to be in a chair.)

      It’s also worth looking around and deciding if others are also asking for it, how, if they are successful, etc.

      I also think you need to pick one of these and not both. Unpaid time off or work from home.

      1. Stuck in the Past*

        Thank you! You’re right, I definitely don’t want them to think I want to work from home only on slow days because it’s slow and that means I could really just read my book on the couch and half work. This all started because originally, my boss wanted me to come in for 2 hours on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. For 2 hours of work, I would have had to drive a total of 1.5 hours to get to and from work, for something that is never my responsibility but that could easily be done on a computer from home. They considered WFH for a second but then decided that I’d work Friday instead. When I tried to ask if I could do that from home (also a day where it would be minimal work), they said no.

        I know there’s some research out there that shows increased productivity with the WFH option, or even shorter Fridays. I know I could be just as productive or more productive from home, because then I wouldn’t have my boss going on and on about her family drama or health issues or lack-of-sex-life issues in my ear all day…

        1. LQ*

          A 2 hour task on a weekend is a really good place to start from. That’s a really good experiment to try. Especially if it’s something that is a fairly clearly done/not done set of tasks. Also outline things like you’ll email/text/whatever your boss when you start and when you’re done. You’ll do whatever things you think will make your boss more likely to get on board with it. Does your boss have to do extra work if you work from home? Can you mitigate that extra work? Are there any security/computer concerns that need to be managed? Are they big enough/dig into it enough that they’ll want to look at your physical workspace?

    3. LGC*

      I had to re-read your PTO scale because that just sounds like…why are they even bothering to offer that at that point? (It sounds like you get 20 hours of vacation time a year. TWENTY. HOURS. I’m not sure whether you’re PT or FT, which might affect how I view things.)

      So, I’m not sure about what the policy is with your job. I can say that since you’re hourly, they can mandate you’re there at certain hours, and they can mandate that you have to be in-office to work. (In my case, we technically and contractually can’t let my employees WFH, and our time system isn’t configured to let me WFH myself – I’m a supervisor that’s paid hourly, but I also do a lot of admin tasks.) And they can also tell you that you can’t take unpaid time off. (In my case, we let people take unpaid time off at will, but that isn’t always the case.)

      I’ll also let my team “flex” hours – again, this doesn’t cause that many problems in my state or in my company – if we’re already going to be open. (I’m pretty clear about how our time policy works – for example, if you need off Friday, you can’t really make up the hours Saturday since our pay week runs Saturday to Friday, not Sunday to Saturday. But I’m more willing to let people call out Monday and work late the rest of the week to make up for it. But I’m also not going to stay late just because you need to make up hours.)

      Finally, OT is weird. It depends on where you’re working – in the US, OT is generally counted by pay week, but in California, it’s counted by day. In New Jersey (my state), I could theoretically work 9 hours a day Monday through Thursday and 4 hours on Friday, but I can’t – for example – work 45 hours one week and 35 the next in most cases. (Most – for example, one of my friends is a pharmacist and his schedule has him working more one week and less the next.) In California, if you work 9 hours one day, you get 1 hour of OT regardless of how many hours you worked that week.

      (Everything I know about HR, I learned from AAM.)

      So, there’s me mansplaining how being an hourly worker works in the US. To answer your questions: it really depends on your job on how much you can trailblaze. What do the other employees have? Do you have an established track record? For example, I managed to negotiate a later start time two days a week to make it to my running team’s practices…but I’d already established a track record for being reliable. (Also, I work for a non-profit, so they’re all about benefits that don’t cost them any money!)

      And most important: how much of your job can you do outside of the office? In my case, I can do quite a bit of my analytics stuff in a coffee shop with a VPN if I wanted. But also…I’m primarily a supervisor. I can’t really supervise from outside of the office. So most days I have to be there. And although I’ve definitely thought about it – I think better when I’m not interrupted every five minutes to verify whether a page needs to be rescanned – since I can only do my secondary jobs out of office I haven’t really asked.

      tl;dr – I’d think very hard about how WFH would work for you before proposing it. As for UPTO, you have a better chance of getting that if you’re already established. (Or if you negotiated it in your offer.) I’m wishing you the best of luck, but it sounds like they’re just skimpy on time off for whatever reason and that’s just the way they do things there. You might have more luck at a company with more flexible policies.

      (And yes, this is the obligatory “lol get a new job” advice.)

      1. Stuck in the Past*

        Thank you for your “mansplaining” and info! It all helps. I am in MA. My normal day is 7AM-3:30PM with a forced 30-minute lunch which I don’t always have time to take. I am usually here until at least 5-5:30 (I’ve been here until 9:30 during a big project before), especially in the holiday season, but can occasionally sneak out “on time” around 4PM if it’s Friday and I have places to be or a Jewish holiday. So I feel like I am paying my dues, working hard, helping my department out if they’re in the weeds as much as possible once I get my own work under control for the day. My entire job is spent staring at the computer. I am in customer service/account management and work with stores all around the country to get them the product we sell them. I wouldn’t ONLY want to WFH in this situation because so much of a job is the interaction with the people you go to bat with every day…but I don’t see how one Friday every once in a while is a bad thing?

        Also, I was really sick last week but not with a cold so I wasn’t contagious. I pushed through and came to work every day even though I just wanted to die. I would have been a lot more comfortable had I had the opportunity to work from home rather than take a full sick day. It was the week before Christmas so I would have felt terrible taking a sick day and leaving all of my work to my team, so I didn’t really feel like that was an option. Thoughts?

        1. LGC*

          Okay, so this is…an entirely different thing than what I was thinking. I kind of read it initially as you having a separate set of sick time, but if you don’t have that, then woof.

          It actually sounds like if you’re regularly working 50 hours a week, in which case – I can definitely see why you’d want some UPTO. Like, look, I love OT as much as the next guy, but a lot of time I’d rather have the free time. It’s something I’ve had to learn myself. (And since you mentioned you’re in CX, I can’t help but think about The Verge’s recent article on Away. It’s a tough field to be in!)

          I’d lead with that first – you’re regularly working a large amount of OT and you’d like to cut back – is that possible? But it sounds like you’re in a work culture that might not allow for that for whatever reason. To disclose a bit about myself, I mentioned that I can’t let my employees work from home – this is because we do enterprise-level document archiving, and since we work with government agency documents we can’t really let them be taken home. But you might have a bit more flexibility.

          (Also, call out sick! Even if you’re not contagious! Sick days aren’t just to prevent others from getting sick, they’re also to increase your overall productivity – it’s better for you to take a couple of days off and be back to 100% when you come back instead of you being at 50% or worse for a week because you feel like garbage. Obviously, there are some limits, but it sounds like you’re way at the other extreme.)

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Also, you might want to call the state Labor Department, because what they’re doing with the breaks is flat-out illegal. The company has to offer you a lunch break (which can be unpaid), but “Employees may agree to work through their meal breaks, but they must be paid….
          If, at the request of the employer, a worker agrees to work or stay at the workplace during the meal break, the worker must be paid for that time.”

          The fair labor hotline is (617) 727-3465 but they’re only there 10-4 Monday-Friday, which doesn’t fit well with your work schedule. You can file a complaint online, but that doesn’t seem to be set up for you to ask them questions. (I’m not a lawyer, etc., just a Massachusetts resident who objects to wage theft.)

          (I’m leaving out the link so you might see this before there are a thousand posts here, but it was easy to find by googling.)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            My company has MUST take lunch rules to keep from getting in legal trouble with some of the state’s in which we operate. Like if you don’t sign out that day, your supervisor gets an automated email saying so and reminding them that it is mandatory.
            Your Co could get in FEDERAL trouble if you are non-exempt, working a lunch, and not getting paid for it.

        3. Blackcat*

          You should run the numbers, but it sounds like the PTO does not comply with the (relatively new) MA PTO/sick leave law. It’s something like 1 hr PTO per 40 hours worked minimum–but check that! And it may be that those OT hours do actually have to comply with the MA law… so if you work 60 hours in a week, you should accumulate 1.5x the PTO than normal.
          Anyways, it sounds like what they are doing may actually be illegal. Google stuff about the MA law, and maybe find a number to call to ask the MA department of labor.

    4. Parenthetically*

      Honestly? Fire up the job search. You’ve repeatedly brought up WFH and been shot down (in a weird way). Sometimes the only way companies learn to treat people better is via a string of exit interviews with excellent employees heading for greener pastures.

      It may be worth one bigger conversation with HR — “We’ll find it easier to attract and retain talented employees if we modernize our WFH, flex hours, and leave policies, I’d love to be a part of that process, etc.” — but it seems to me like you’ve gotten an answer on a lot of these. I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing your happiness for the sake of this job.

      1. Fikly*

        Yeah, your company is not going to change, and you don’t have the standing to force the issue for an exception.

        If you are unsatisfied (which is totally valid) find a different job, and use the advantage of being employed during a job search to be pickier about benefits that are important to you.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        Agreed. I wouldn’t bother to ask again, just work really hard on getting out of there. Whether or not the company policies will eventually change, you already know your boss isn’t interested in letting you have flexibility any time soon, so better to leave than to wait out the chance things will change in the future.

      3. WellRed*

        Agreed with all of this. There’s a lot of focus here on WFH for what sounds like a not so great job. wFH might ease some if the pain but it won’t cure all that ails.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Are you considered hourly or salary? It sounds like the job works more like hourly jobs go.
      Is this a temporary job? Have they told you that you are permanent?

  43. Jennifer Strange*

    This is more an etiquette question related to work: I just got married and my place of employment gave me a congratulations card signed by my co-workers with a generous gift card inside. Now I’ve worked here long enough to know this isn’t something that my co-workers pitched in for (there’s either a line in the budget for staff gifts or just our higher ups pitched in), but as I’m writing my thank you cards for other wedding gifts (both monetary and tangible) I’m wondering if A) etiquette dictates I send a thank you to my employer and B) if so, do I address it to our head directors?

    1. Ginger*

      My first instinct is, Why not? Someone, somewhere made the decision to acknowledge major employee life events (which is awesome, by the way), it might be nice for them to hear that it is appreciated. Plus acknowledging you received it is just good form.

      If the head of directors is the person who makes the call, then it sounds like s/he is the right contact. Perhaps your direct manager with a line about please share my thanks with management, something that like that?

    2. Blue Eagle*

      What I’ve seen done is that if everyone signed the card, then the gift receiver writes out a nice thank you card and it is placed in the break-room or at the reception desk or somewhere else where everyone can see it.

      If it were me and I wanted to thank the higher-ups, I would thank each person I wanted to thank in person and not send a note – – the point being to give me a slight amount of face time with them and make it more personal.

      1. Jennifer Strange*

        Thank you both for the input! I think I’ll write a thank you to the organization and give it to our managing director to place where she sees fit.

      2. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I’d do one card in the breakroom, or if there were multiple departments then I’d send a thank you to each department.

    3. Purt’s Peas*

      I wrote a thank you note for the office saying thank you for the gift card and the congrats, and wrote something nice about how great it was to work there with everyone and so on. Went over well, and I think it was the right decision. If the gift was addressed to you from the office—even if paid for by a director—address the office in your thank-you.

      Also congrats!!

    4. Mediamaven*

      I would say definitely write a thank you card to whoever you think actually paid for it and send an email to the whole team as a token thank you! I threw a couple of lavish showers for two of my employees with expensive gift cards for their showers and not only did I not get a thank you note of any kind I never heard about it ever again. It was like it never happened the very next day. Just because a gift comes from your boss doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gracious!

  44. First and last time poster*

    Long time reader, I am retiring effective 12/31 so this is my last working Friday! Just wanted to thank all of you for helping to keep me sane, getting me through some rough spots, and reminding me that I am in charge of my destiny. My very best wishes for you all. Good luck with the rest of your careers.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Congrats!!! I can’t wait until I get to that point – only 38 years left to go (*cries in millennial*).

  45. floundering*

    Has anyone had to reject PTO requests before? In my office, we have a new employee (started early 2019) who asked for the entire month of November off a couple months after he started so he could do one of those big life changing type trips. I asked him to shorten his PTO and we agreed on three weeks. Three weeks was still very abnormal in our group and my own boss told me it was my decision but said that she would have denied the request. I approved it but at the time said it was unusual in our group. His attitude was very much “I don’t care, I get the PTO and I should be able to use it” which I understood but looking back, maybe this was a red flag. November was hard without him around (partly due to some things he failed to do before going away) and it was not a busy time of year. He acknowledged when he returned how hard it was for the rest of the group. Now he has asked for three weeks off in May which is a busier time for us. I never intended three week vacations to become his norm. For instance, I have been with the company for five years and this is the first year I took a two week vacation and I was surprised my PTO request was approved. Those in our group tend to take more frequent, shorter (think a week) amounts of time off. We are starting to take longer trips but two weeks has been the most I’ve seen from anyone unless it was a medical leave. He is also not a stellar employee but I guess I shouldn’t be considering that with the PTO request? Or should I? Our company’s formal policy says that leaders make our own rules for our group depending on department needs. I feel bad but I really want to deny this request! Am I being too harsh?

    1. windsofwinter*

      This is tough. How much PTO does everyone get to begin with. I’m personally of the mind that people should get to use it as they see fit, AS LONG as there will not be a huge negative impact. I think it’s reasonable to only allow one three-week stint per year and the rest should be used in lower increments. Even if you wanted to make that two weeks, I think it would be okay. My husband took almost all of December off last year and there was no negative feedback. It really depends on the business.

      1. floundering*

        Thanks for your comment! We get about 25-30 days per year but you can accrue it until you’ve got about seven or eight weeks at a time. It’s a generous policy but our department has a busy season where we cannot take off for more than 2-3 days at once for three months (this time he wants falls in a diff month). This was explained to him when he was hired as well. I know it isn’t great but I’m not in a position to lift that ban and I’m very up front interviewing people about the constraints. I was thinking that I may go back and offer two weeks off instead of three. We can stretch to cover two but three is just pushing it. I’m a little worried about how he will react since he was so entitled the first time when I denied the original month request and then agreed on three.

        1. windsofwinter*

          Eh, well if he has a bad reaction then oh well. The worst he can do is quit, and if he’s not a great performer then it sounds like it wouldn’t be a big loss. Of course hiring is always difficult, but I wouldn’t worry too much about his reaction. I am really big on flexibility and not imposing arbitrary limits just because you can, but it sounds like there is a real business need for him to be there. I think 2 weeks is still fairly generous.

        2. Gertrude Stein*

          If you’re worried about how he’ll react, deny it. Do what you think is best for the team, not for him. You are the boss and you are doing no one any favors by making decisions based on fear of one of your reports. Remember he is not your only employee and if you do this, other people will feel exploited and resentful, they just won’t act out about about it. If someone ends up quitting over his attitude, let it be him, not someone who is more committed.

        3. Diahann Carroll*

          I’m confused by this comment. If the May request he put in falls in a different month than the one you mentioned has a strict company policy of not allowing employees to take off for more than three days in a row, why would you need to deny his third week off? The two ideas don’t seem to be connected. Instead, you say that coverage in general for three weeks puts a lot of strain on his coworkers, especially since he doesn’t wrap up tasks/projects before he leaves, which then also falls on his coworkers – use that as your justification for the two week vacation approval and the denial of his third week. Also make it clear to him that his vacation requests fall outside of the norm of your company, and he needs to consider this when making these requests so you don’t have to deny his time going forward.

    2. Dot*

      I don’t understand why you’re agonizing over this. I mean this is an unusual request you granted as a favor to be a one-time thing, so I’d deny it with this explanation.
      3 weeks is not standard, he would leave your team in a bind, he is not a stellar employee worth investing your own capital in, because your own boss says she wouldn’t have done it.
      If you’re having trouble feeling kind by denying this, see it as a kindness to your team.

      1. floundering*

        I agonize over everything! lol I can be a bit of a people pleaser which I have been working on in therapy and have definitely improved but it’s still there. Thank you for such a clear response, though. I am thinking about denying it but then offering two weeks instead because that’s the max time we can really easily cover for a missing person. However, even that during the time he wants, is tough. I’m also a little frustrated he asked for this time because he should be aware of the workload during that month. I am overly aware of stuff like that but I know other people are not (and also there’s the whole argument that you should get to use your PTO as you see fit, etc)

        1. Asenath*

          If he didn’t prepare well enough last time, and this time your other staff couldn’t easily cover for him for more than two weeks (assuming, I guess that he did prepare well), I’d offer two weeks or less. I’m generally in the camp that says people get to use their leave as they want – but it does sound that in this case, another long leave would cause coverage problems for the employer. That’s a good enough reason to have him take some of his time later.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Use the people pleasing angle to remind yourself that your team is pleased you denied it.

          Since one or two weeks is the norm then that is what you should tell him he needs to do. Just say, “I should have been more clear on that. Your three week vacation was an exception not a rule.” This is where it is handy to convey norms as you go along. Let’s say he asks to leave work an hour early three days out of the week. So the first time you see this one, you can say, “Well, the norm here is to grant one day of early leave a week.” If you say it in the moment, you will agonize a lot less later. You can teach other norms in a similar manner.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Yep, this is where I land as well. I’m very in favor of letting people use their leave, but as a manager it’s your job to balance individual needs with the needs of your team.

        “Fergus, I’m not able to approve your leave request. We negotiated a 3-week vacation as part of your onboarding with the understanding that PTO of that length was unusual and not typically granted. Your absence in November was a real hardship for the team, not just because you were gone and everyone’s workload was increased, but because you didn’t finish your part of Project X before you left. May is a particularly busy time for the team. If you were gone for three weeks again, it would put us in an even bigger bind.”

        Based on your description of this guy, if I were you I’d brace myself for him to quit.

    3. WineNot*

      I worked for a company in the past that has unlimited PTO, but it was hospitality in a ski town so we knew that the PTO was really only for the offseasons, from May to mid-June and then September-December before the mountain opened again. Someone could take time off in-season if they HAD to, but it had to be important and it was frowned upon by management and co-workers who had to cover a ton of work while someone was out.

      Can you ask your employee to find another time to have another life-changing trip maybe when it isn’t so busy, and to keep it to two weeks this time? If you feel like you should deny it so that he doesn’t feel like he can take this much time off when it’s busy, or even when it’s not, and leave his work a mess, do it! Or maybe put him on a strict schedule leading up to the trip so he gets his work done. You’re the manager, you have to set the precedent you want your employees to follow and the culture you feel is necessary for your team to function.

      1. floundering*

        Thank you for your comment! He has not told me what the trip is for this time. The first trip was for that which was part of why I agreed to it. He says he would like to take a birthday trip. I don’t want three week trips to become the norm since it puts so much stress on the others to cover for this one person. There’s only three of us in our group so when one is gone, the other two split the work of the missing person. We actually have a similar policy where there are three months that are mostly blacked out due to our busiest season. This month doesn’t fall in that.

        1. valentine*

          There’s no good reason to accommodate his out-of-step requests. If he were stellar and so were the other person and the three of you enjoyed sharing the burden to give each other the time off, that would make sense. He knows he made a mess, but did he even say he’ll wrap up properly next time?

          Ideally, you would have said you couldn’t overemphasize how rare the permission was and that, if he didn’t finish whatever it was, you would say no at the last minute, and then, when he gave you the attitude, said no because “I shouldn’t have to think about the team” is verboten.

          Now, tell him it was a one-off and he needs to be in line with the culture. Look at what you can reasonably* allow and when, and tell him that’s the deal. Maybe the other person can also speak to him about the SOP?

          *Where reasonably is not “I can survive this” or “Six hours of sleep is still good,” but means you and the other person are working 45 or so hours that one week he’s off. (Frankly, I wouldn’t give him a full week unless he meets some benchmark because his underperforming hurts the team and makes his leave that much larger a burden.) You can make two weeks okay during x or y month after two or more years of employment and exceeding goals.

    4. Paladin*

      I personally like to be able to take 2.5 weeks off at a time twice a year, but I also make sure any loose ends are tied up before I go, and there’s someone available to take care of things while I’m gone (and I confess to briefly checking email a couple times while I’m away). If his leaving causes negative impacts, it’s well within your rights to deny the request. If you wanted, you could explicitly outline what it would take for him to take longer vacations maybe once a year (better setup of responsibilities, has to be a slower time of year, etc).

      So you should deny it if that’s what you need right now, and don’t feel bad!

    5. OperaArt*

      If you’re worried about his reaction, remember that somebody will probably be unhappy no matter what you decide. So will it be him, or will it be the people having to cover for his absence?

    6. Blue Eagle*

      No, you are not being too harsh. Three weeks off at a time is a really long time to be away from work. Usually our office only approves one week at a time and will only let you do two weeks off every other year. So no worries for you, you are not the only one to disapprove extended time off.

    7. Maisel*

      Absolutely deny. The three weeks was a special occasion and additionally he was not a good actor in the situation since he didn’t get everything he needed to done before he left. That was a trial for him and he failed it. His job performance is absolutely a factor here.

    8. LGC*

      I started out saying that you should deny this. But…I feel like although two three-week vacations within ~6 months is significant (in the US at least), I don’t know if that’s a reason to deny the request. The more I think about it, the more I feel like the issue is that he didn’t prepare well enough for his vacation the last time, and he’s (at best) exceedingly tone-deaf. (And honestly, the way you describe him sounds like he’s self-centered.) So I’d talk to him about that first.

      I’d also hold off on accepting or denying the request for a couple of weeks. It shouldn’t matter too much to his timeline, hopefully. But it’ll give you time to think about the request instead of just reacting.

      For what it’s worth, a three-week vacation on its own doesn’t sound too out there in general. I mean, I wouldn’t take three weeks off, but that’s my personal choice. (I just don’t like taking three weeks off – I’m off this week and I’m already kind of ready to get back to work! Even if I was doing an amazing trip I’d be antsy to get back after the second week.)

    9. Fikly*

      I work for a company that does unlimited PTO, but we have guidelines. For example, if you are taking more than a week at once, don’t do it during a major project that you are working on, or a super busy time!

      Just because you have the PTO, doesn’t mean you can take it willy nilly without care for how it will impact the rest of the team. The time to nip this in the bud is now, by saying that the 3 week PTO in November was a one time exception, and that you need PTO to be taken in smaller blocks, and for busy times to be taken into account.

    10. mlk*

      I’m going to go a different direction with my response. My company has you accrue PTO in your first year to a total of 8 days. That increases every few years until you max out at 20 days starting in year 11. You can “roll-over” up to the same amount so I could roll-over 20 days, if I had that much, into 2020.

      While I tend to take shorter vacations, I’ve taken 3 week vacations a few times–it’s glorious. It’s also very useful if you have family or just want to travel overseas. When flights take up at least 2 days there and back (and sometimes more), it’s useful to take extra days. My company employs a lot of people with families in other countries so we often have people gone for 2 – 8 weeks.

      I personally would approve it, but have a serious talk with your employee.

      1. Three weeks is unusual so you need to plan for coverage while your gone.
      2. You caused extra problems for the team in November due to A, B, and C.
      3. If you do not get your work down before the trip in May, I won’t be approving any more PTO longer than X days until you can prove that a longer time away won’t cause extra problems for your team members.

    11. Mediamaven*

      No you are not being harsh. We have in our handbook that PTO is limited to two weeks at a time. Have I ever made an exception? Sure. But it’s not the norm (in the US anyway) to be taking that much time off especially if you haven’t been with the company that long. I think you need to just bite the bullet and say I can’t approve another 3 week PTO request. How fast is he accruing PTO? Seems like a lot!

    12. ...*

      Asking for four weeks in your 3rd month is insane. And then asking for 3 more weeks soon after. I am not one of those work yourself into the ground type people, but anything over 2 weeks (10 pto days) at my company would be seen as really out of step.

      1. LGC*

        In Fergus’s defense, it sounds like he asked for the time off several months in advance – he started in early 2019, but asked for the entire month of November off. He didn’t ask for four weeks in his third month per se, it sounds more like he’d asked for the time off in what would have been his 7th or 8th month with the company.

        Which makes it…slightly less bad, I think.

    13. fposte*

      I refused a PTO request from a great employee. I’d said yes to several other PTO requests from him, but the timing on the requested trip on the heels of another absence would have meant an unfair burden on the only other staffer. He understood and it was fine.

  46. Tidewater 4-1009*

    I have a question for HR professionals.
    My position was eliminated and in order to get severance, I had to sign a contract that said I couldn’t tell my colleagues why I was leaving. It said I should say I was moving on by choice.
    Luckily my boss told my colleagues the truth, so I didn’t have to choose between lying to them and getting severance.
    Is this contract as bad as I think it is? Or is this a normal thing in HR now?
    Thanks, your input is appreciated!

    1. Blue Eagle*

      This is normal. If you accept the severance, then you have to agree to their terms. If it is more important to you to tell your co-workers the reason, then do not accept the severance. Your choice.

      1. Fikly*

        Well, legal, maybe, but normal for HR to require you to lie in return for severance? They are not even getting laid off because the company is having financial problems, it sounds like, just because there isn’t a need for the position any more.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          They keep crying poor and cutting back while the CEO makes an egregiously large salary. My colleagues didn’t agree, they think I’m needed.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        There is a limit to what the terms of a contract can bind you to – and while they can certainly restrict how much you can say, I can’t believe they can require you to lie. If the terms of the agreement simply said you weren’t allowed to go into any detail, I think we’d have to shrug and say it sucked but was “normal”. I just think this particular example is a step too far.

        1. Tidewater 4-1009*

          Yes, it actually says I should tell colleagues it’s my choice. So it’s requiring me to lie.

          1. Flyleaf*

            You should tell people “My severance agreement doesn’t allow me to tell you the truth about why I am leaving. The agreement requires me to falsely say that it is my choice to leave.”

            1. Tidewater 4-1009*

              Yes, I probably would have done something like this if my boss hadn’t relieved me of the choice by telling everyone himself.
              They might still have denied severance though. :( The contract also says something about don’t say anything negative about the company.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I am not HR but this sounds sketchy to me: your agreement requires you to *lie*? Not just not-disclose, but *lie*? That can’t be ok!

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        I agree! I think it’s unethical. The only other time I got severance, many years ago, there were no conditions.
        They know most people don’t have enough in the bank to go more than a few weeks. Pretending it’s a reasonable choice is disingenuous.
        I’m just wondering if this is common in the corporate world now, or if my former employer is especially bad.
        If it is common, IMHO that’s a sign of decline in this country.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Last time I was laid off, I did have to sign something saying I wouldn’t bad mouth the company, at least not publicly, but they didn’t ask me to lie.

    3. annony*

      That seems odd to me. If your position was eliminated, don’t they realize your coworkers are going to notice when your position is not filled after you leave?

      1. Tidewater 4-1009*

        If that happened, my colleagues would probably think management was being slow and incompetent with the hiring. They’ve taken more than a year to replace professional positions.

  47. Mary Beth*

    People who have a remote job — is it stressful to work from home? Do you have to get more done to prove you’ve been working?

    1. Re'lar Fela*

      I worked remotely for the last four years and at first I did feel like I had to constantly prove I was working. After a while, though, I got used to it and realized that it’s pretty easy to tell who’s working and who’s doing laundry/watching the game by what is actually getting done. The only thing that felt stressful to me was the urgency of needing to respond to emails/calls almost immediately. Working remotely means being more responsive than in an office setting, which can be tough if you’re in meetings/on calls/knee deep in work and not wanting to be interrupted.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, but my whole team (including my manager and all our DRs) are also remote, so the standards for the job already take remote working into consideration.

    3. Anon for this.*

      It 100% is so different from job to job that there’s no blanket experience. My partner and I both work remotely and have for several years.

      His company has a big HQ in the south, and I think has 150+ employees on site. We live in New England but have lived in the mid-Atlantic (when he was hired, still remotely), the West, and we’ve also been rootless, working and living in different places like digital nomads. His smaller team inside the company is fully remote, with a couple coworkers based west coast, and another coworker lives in the south. They’ve all traveled to the HQ twice in six years.

      Meanwhile I work for a small company with fewer than 10 employees, all remote: New England, mid-Atlantic, mid-west, west coast. Some combination of us sees each other two to five times a year for professional conferences and just because we travel and visit, and we try to do full company retreats every 18 months or so.

      We both have online workspaces (think Keybase or Slack) which constitutes “the office.” For me, one should be available there and say “I’m ducking out” for true breaks. I sometimes close the workspace because it can be distracting and I need to focus.

      I have a few regularly scheduled video call meetings a week, he never has those, but used to. I try to work my own time zone 9-5, he’s more in sync with his west coast colleagues’ 9-5s. It is true that remote workers tend to do more work overall, hours-wise, so I do not fault myself when I’m in a period of taking frequent breaks–doing 25 minutes of work then 10 minutes of laundry or emptying the dishwasher or whatever. Because I know at other times I’m balls to the wall. I suppose this would be different if you were an hourly employee.

      We both work extremely closely with our respective bosses and being on a fully remote team is a pretty flat experience for us. In neither case has our boss ever been like “Where the f*&% are you!?” No one is looking over our shoulder. Because that would be insane and exhausting for everyone involved, and also it becomes reaaaal apparent reeeeal fast if someone is not doing their work. Just like at in-person jobs! My company let someone go more or less for this reason.

      OTOH I have a friend who works remotely and is basically on video chat with colleagues for several hours a day, which seems crazy but ???

    4. Cassandra*

      My whole team is remote and it is very relaxed… Honestly I think I’ve gotten more anxious than I needed to be about letting my supervisor know about timelines. But I do find it often difficult to get things done because I have ADHD and really need a dedicated “work space” where I can’t distract myself. If you’re not very self-driven, you might consider thinking about ways to check in or show that you’re working so you feel some accountability (which is what I need to do to stay productive).

    5. Fikly*

      I love it. But I set up my home environment in a way that I knew would work for me, I had a history of doing online school, so while yes, school is different than a job, I knew how to get work done at home, and there are a variety of reasons why working remote means I am actually more productive and healthier in general.

      I was hired for a remote position though, so I never went through the whole getting approval to work remote thing.

      And no, there’s no needing to “prove” I’ve been working, though I imagine if my work didn’t get done, it would be proof I wasn’t working. My job is a mix of projects (not time specific, though there are deadlines) and coverage based (I need to respond immediately to things if they happen) so it would be obvious if I was totally checked out.

    6. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m going to agree with the people who said no, working remotely is not stressful. In fact, my current position is the most stress-free job I’ve ever had. I don’t feel the need to prove anything since over half of my 3500 + employee company is remote or works from a satellite or overseas office, so the company culture is that people are trusted to be adults and get done what they need to get done in the time zones and frames that make sense for them. Most of my work isn’t deadline driven either, so that helps with the whole expectations for what I accomplish thing. As long as my writing is good and my edits are thoughtful and helpful, I’m nailing my job.

    7. pancakes*

      I work from home and I’m not sure I understand the question. My work product is proof that I’m working, just as it is when I’ve worked in offices. By “work product” I mean research I’ve done, memos I’ve written, etc. I don’t know what getting more done would look like in that context – padding out memos with extra content? Researching additional topics not assigned to me?

    8. Nita*

      This may not apply for companies where working remotely is the norm, but I worked remotely when it was not really done in my department. I was invisible. The people I worked with directly knew that I was doing good work and gaining valuable experience, but everyone else (including the folks making promotion decisions) apparently thought I’m taking it easy at home, doing the bare minimum. It took a long time to rebuild my career once I was physically in office again. And yes, it was stressful – but that’s more to do with my work setup at home than with the fact that I wasn’t in the office.

  48. windsofwinter*

    I’m considering starting some online classes (Udemy, that sort of thing, possibly a more expensive and intensive “bootcamp”) for data analysis. I’ve already started a business statistics course. Curious about anyone’s experience with hiring someone who obtained such skills outside of a traditional classroom education. I want to think it wouldn’t matter that this isn’t what I have my degree in, but at the same time I’m suspicious.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I had a BS in analytics and couldn’t get a response to my applications. But the day I started my MS and put it on my resume, I had lots of interest. These classes won’t have an impact in finding an analytics job, but it could help you work you way into a more analytical role in the same field. If you are in finance, then it could help you get a finance role that has a strong base in analytics without being a full on financial analyst role. And then you can get the experience that fills in the gap…and really see if coding is what you want to do.

      1. windsofwinter*

        Thanks, this is helpful. I actually would like to stay in my current field, just more in an analytics role. My company is in the process of building an analytics team, so I would ideally like to move into that department in the future.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          That’s actually how I became an analyst. My company started focusing on reporting and offered me the position. I learned everything through experience and then went to school for the official degree. Recruiters are looking for people with the degree, but it really is the experience that makes you a top notch analyst. Good luck!

          1. windsofwinter*

            Great info, thank you! I am in the beginning stages of an analytical role, but there’s been a solid promotion dangling in front of me for six months now. It all hinges on some business moves that may or may not happen and I will admit I am getting frustrated, but I do still want to stay in this industry so I’m trying to keep my cool and keep learning.

    2. Cinnamon*

      Can’t help with your actual question but our company just got udemy accounts. I ordered some things for my job progress in that account and then made a personal account when they hade a huge sale!

  49. Re'lar Fela*

    Not exactly an earth shattering question, but I’m guessing y’all have some solid advice!

    I started a new job a few months ago and was given an office in a relatively small and private area (just 3 others in a separate section of the space). We just rearranged a bit and my office ended up moving. Now I’m just inside the main door, next to the conference room, in a space with about 12 others. My office also shares a wall with the organization next door who are so far very loud people. The walls are thin.

    My previous office was QUIET (to the point where it bothered me when I first started) and apparently I’ve gotten used to that. Most of my colleagues are off today and I’m still being bothered by the noise. It may be a situation where I just haven’t gotten used to it yet, but it’s driving me batty. No one else in the office uses headphones and doors are only closed for meetings or important calls. How do I drown out the noise without appearing anti-social (especially since I’m right by the door/conference room and don’t want to seem inhospitable to board members/volunteers who frequently stop by)?

    1. Cinnamon*

      Would a white noise machine work? It’s adding more noise instead of getting more quiet but it can be easier to focus on that (and eventually zone it out).

  50. Rokeba*

    I really like my job about 80% of the time and the other 20% isn’t terrible, just annoying.

    What really depresses me is the insurance offered keeps getting worse. I am applying to another job solely because of the insurance issue at my current job.

    It’s offered but it’s all high deductibles, even the “low” deductible plan is $5,500 for the family with a higher premium deducted from each paycheck. The highest deductible plan with the lowest deduction per paycheck is $12,700. However, the math of each plan all are about $16K. We are on the highest deductible plan because we don’t see the doctor often. However, my husband needs to see a doctor to get a diagnoses for why his feet are on fire all the time. He’s gone in a few years ago but other than saying it’s not diabetes, there wasn’t anything else to try and help the issue. We certainly don’t have the money to pay out of pocket up to 16K.

    However, while the company I just applied to has traditional insurance of the 90/10 split, low deductible etc, I wonder how long they will be able to keep that model up? So many companies seem to be switching to worse and worse coverage.

    Basically, I just needed to get this off my chest.

    1. Anonnnnn*

      Careful; the health insurance that they offer when you first start may not be what they stick with. I’ve had three jobs that ended up changing health insurance after I started working there. One job went through 3 carriers. I don’t know if you’re in the US, but that seems to be my experience here: health insurance is terrible.

      1. StudentA*

        Excellent point. Be careful of the grass looking greener. It’s not the norm to like your job 80% of the time if I look to my circle of acquaintances as a sample. Talk to HR. You can’t be the only one in the company with these concerns. Maybe they’ll put you in touch with their insurance rep who can clarify a few things.

        1. Rokeba*

          Yeah, true. I really enjoy what I do and who I work with. I think it’s the way insurance is in this country and how it keeps degrading. It’s definitely not just my company as I have heard of lots of other companies moving to worse models.

          I don’t see the company changing their insurance model.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            My last company did this – I took the job primarily because the insurance had a much lower deductible than the one I had (and because my then-job was going to make me jump out of a window), and then the next year, they changed insurance carriers. They decided to switch us to the carrier I had at the company I left and the lowest of the high deductible plans we were offered was $2700 (the highest was $6500) – they offered an insurance plan with a deductible of $650, but the premium costs per pay period were hundreds of dollars for a single person, so it was completely undoable for the majority of the company (the pay was less than stellar).

            My current company, thankfully, has kept the insurance we had last year with the same deductible, though they have shifted more of the premium costs off to us employees (only by $11 more dollars a pay period). I pray this doesn’t change unless they go for a cheaper deductible option that doesn’t have outrageous premium costs.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      As Anonnnn mentioned, companies usually have 2 year contracts and have to re-evaluate their options and frequently change. But if you have a company that has a decent plan, then they value their employees and usually go with a comparable plan. And companies that just want to cover the bare minimum that is legally required, they will keep purchasing plans that pass the expense onto the employee.
      The plan you described sounds unusually terrible. But I have a low deductible and a higher co-pay of $50 office visit/$100 specialist. It all gets ya one way or another.

    3. Fikly*

      Granted, I suspect my company is super unusual in this, but when they switched from offering a great plan that met my needs (I use a lot of health care) to one that upped by costs by easily a factor of five, I first went to my manager, and had a carefully worded conversation, and learned I wasn’t the only one having this problem.

      Then I went to HR, and they were supportive and actually got me involved when they selected what plans they were offering for the next year, so now there is a much better option (plus less good ones for people who use less health care).

      Not all (or even most, I suspect) companies would do this, but you don’t have to accept these changes without advocating for yourself, if you don’t think it’ll land you in trouble.

    4. AccountantWendy*

      It’s too late this year but you may be able to buy insurance through the ACA Marketplace that is more cost effective / has a lower deductible than that which is offered through work. Just because your employee offers insurance doesn’t mean you have to use it. Look into resources in your state as well. You may also be able to find sliding fee or community health care that has a lower cost.

  51. Cubicle Kid*

    This is traditionally the month for everyone’s annual reviews and accompanying raises/bonuses at my company. This would be my first review as I started last December. I know most of my co-workers in my department had theirs in the past few weeks. I haven’t gotten anything from my boss about scheduling mine. Is that something I can ask about or bring up casually? Complication—(large) family business, boss is my father.

    1. Re'lar Fela*

      I think it’s absolutely worth asking about! Just a simple “Hey dad (or Fergus, or whatever you call him at work), so-and-so mentioned their annual review happened last week. Could we get mine on the calendar? I have some time on X date.”

  52. Miss May*

    Any suggestions on how to avoid burning out?
    My lab did have two people working in it, and as a result the work was divided evenly between us. Because me and the other individual were so efficient, more work was given to us. Now, that other person has been pulled to help out somewhere else in the company, and I have to do everything. My boss says that she’ll help out, but I’m guessing that the help will exist for a week or two before she gets too busy to assist.

    And I’m just looking at the next few months feeling exhausted.

    1. BadWolf*

      Is the “more work given” work that can be returned to whoever was doing them before? I would start with pushing those back first.

      Is your work time sensitive (like if this sample isn’t tested, we need a new sample from a patient?)? If so, you need to make a list of how many things will risk being lost/worthless/etc.

      If there are things that can just take longer, prioritize and keep status of “These things are lower priority and I can’t do them until we have a second person or the workload changes.”

      If you keep up with work, there’s no need for change from the bigger system. Even if it’s breaking you…things are working. The big bosses don’t need to “fix it” (super great bosses will fix it…but sometimes the people who control the money are surprisingly removed and need to see “couldn’t test important sample because 8 other really important samples were tested first).

      1. BadWolf*

        And, what’s the compensation for working overtime? Are you paid overtime? Or are you salaried/exempt? Can you negotiate comp time if you aren’t paid overtime?

        And if it’s just you, what happens when you go on vacation? What happens if you need a sick day? Or to attend a funeral, etc?

        1. Miss May*

          Good points! Thank you. I’m hourly, and I get time and a half for overtime. And for if I’m out on vacation, the work will just continue to pile up until someone does it. It not necessarily time sensitive, but if its not kept up with, it will grow to the size of a mountain in a relatively short amount of time. Thats why the pair of us were so good, we kept excellent track of the work.

          I’ll discuss with my boss today about lightening the workload.

          1. Voice of experience*

            I think Bad Wolf is giving you a good perspective, although I’m not sure it’s “bad” enough. If you burn yourself out doing twice the work for the same money, you’ll just reset your boss’s expectations. The only way he’s going to discover that the lab needs a staff of at least two is if they experience consequences, and part of that experience is going to be up to you.

  53. Database Developer Dude*

    I looked at the transcript for the latest podcast, and I feel sorry for that one board member who accidentally hit reply-all.

    He explicitly stated that he didn’t want to sit with the firefighters because he did last year, and none of them wanted to talk to him. That last part is key. I wouldn’t want to sit with people who didn’t want to talk to me either, and it has nothing to do with what job they have. Everyone piled on, and I’m sure the board member felt pressured to give that apology.

    I don’t think an apology was warranted. If he absolutely had to give one, it should have been something about apologies for hitting reply-all by mistake. If necessary, he should have doubled-down on the stated reason for not wanting to sit with them: That they didn’t want to talk to him. You don’t get to act like a second grader towards someone and be mad that they don’t want to come back for more treatment like that.

  54. Ginger*

    Any advice on how to network internally when most of the folks I want to connect with are remote? Perhaps some solid wording on how to reach out to someone and essentially say, “hey – I’m interested in the cool things you do”?

    More details: my company is big on internal promotions and expanding into new areas which is great BUT everyone is all over the country/globe and many are remote so no water cooler run-ins, intros over coffee in the office opportunities.

    I struggle with being on the “I don’t want to bother anyone” scale sometimes.

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I’ve developed some distance relationships with colleagues by simply adding a final line to an email chain … “have a great weekend … I hear it’s going to be sunny in your town” or whatever. Sometimes I’ll get a quickie response back. Maybe do a little bit of back and forth about the latest movie or whatever.
      If they don’t want to do the chatter, they won’t, but over time you can actually develop some connections.

  55. Anonymousaurus Rex*

    How long past a conference call meeting start time do you wait for someone? Is it like the 15 minute rule where you get to hang up if no one shows in the first 15 minutes?

    1. Paladin*

      That’s the one I use! If they show up later than that, they can email me and I’ll hop back on or reschedule.

    2. LQ*

      I’m the worst about this. If it’s 5 minutes in, I send an email. At about 10 I hang up. I would only wait for 15 if I REALLY needed the call or if I was assured the person was trying to dial in. 15 minutes is much longer than I’m patient for. (Though for the most part we are a start on time/end on time culture except for the big big boss who will grab you for something urgent occasionally.)

    3. annony*

      I usually try to email or text after 5 minutes asking if we are still having the call or if I got the date wrong. Then I put the phone on speaker and start working on something else if the call is important. If the call wasn’t important I usually hang up at that point and call back if I get confirmation that they are getting on the call.

  56. quirkypants*

    I know what I have to do, but I’m looking for scripts.

    What are suggested scripts for someone who has checked out of their job?

    I’ve been trying to coach this employee through performance issues and she has recently told me she doesn’t think she can do better. Of course, she positioned it as through I’m being unrealistic and unfair to her. She told me I don’t understand how stressful or how busy her job is (which is a ridiculous statement, as I’ve done her job and far more demanding versions of it). Funny thing, is she also wants a promotion which comes with more responsibility which I’ve told her isn’t realistic until she can address her current performance issues.

    So I’m pretty sure she’s plain old checked out. I want to be fair to her and essentially ask her if she wants to continue working here… I don’t want to push her out, but if she’s not happy (plus, it really, really shows), not willing to try to improve her performance, etc. at some point something is going to give. I’d rather try to set a timeline for her when she wants to leave on her own terms or something like that…

    Any tips on how to start the conversation? Anything to watch out for?

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      I think you start by reviewing again the standards you are asking her to meet. If she says she can’t “do better”, that doesn’t mean the standards of the job have now become negotiable, so you segue into well, these are the requirements of this job and shall we talk about a timeline for transitioning out of the company? Maybe she’ll find the wherewithal to do the job or maybe you’ll have to start the process of letting her go.

      1. quirkypants*

        That’s a good way to approach… I think the hard part with this employee (which I didn’t mention earlier) is that she has a tendency to get emotional in stressful situations and when she finally told me she couldn’t do better, it was during one of those times when she got really emotional. So I wanted to give her some time and come back to it in a less emotional moment.

        But ultimately, you’re right. I need to come back and ask her if she thinks she can improve in the ways we need her to improve or not.

      2. Fikly*

        This. Her position presumably exists to meet a need the employer has. Her being unable to carry out the job to standards means that need isn’t being met.

        She either needs to meet that need, or leave that position. Frankly, the part where she thinks “I just can’t do that” and seems to think that’s an acceptable response and nothing will happen as a result makes me question her judgement.

  57. It All Sounds Like A Lot of Work*

    Some background: our department supports internal creative efforts for a large company as well as does client-based work. I’ve been with my company for over 6 years. During that time, I’ve worked my a$$ off. I went from being an intern to leading pretty much all of our client-based work. I’ve gotten commendations from my boss, awards from the industry, requests from clients to work specifically with me, etc.

    Currently: I am a regular “teapot designer” along with the 4 other teapot designers o our team. We also have an intern and various contractors depending on the season. Our boss handles strategy-based work and then hands off the project to me and I take care of the rest. I bid the project, staff the project, supervise the staff, do the design myself (if needed), work with outside consultants and sub-contractors, and basically ensure the project gets done on time and correctly.

    About a year ago, I asked to be made “Senior Designer” and was told “no” for various reasons. This was also around the time that I found out two of our other designers make significantly more than I do. They have been with the company much less time and have less experience. So, I kept my head down and kept working. I produced, and produced, and produced.

    Then I was told from my boss that he would be making me Director of Teapot Design. That is two steps up in seniority for me. When he showed me the director job description, it was basically outlining all the work I was already doing. Awesome.

    Well, earlier this week, my boss sat me down. They’ve already made salary recommendations for the year and it’s already been logged with HR (the bosses did this prior to meeting with their staff for annual reviews).

    So not only am I not able to be the “Director” as promised (they’re giving me some newly made up senior title that is the alternative to director), but my raise (while significant) still has me making $6K less than one of the other people on the team who I’ll be supervising! I’ve been supervising him for the past few years and, he’s a nice person but his work is not so outstanding that it justifies a super high income.
    So I’m left in this weird position of being promised one title and given some other title that means nothing, being given more responsibility, and being given more pay but still making less than the people I’m leading. I’m trying to be grateful and happy for the opportunity. I’m trying to tell myself that the raise I got is good (it is!) and that it doesn’t matter that I’ve carried every client project to come through our doors as the only consistently billable person on the team. None of it matters. I should just be grateful and put my head down and plow through the work. Now I’m pissed though and I’m not sure that there’s anything I can do about it but brush off my portfolio keep an eye out for other jobs in the future.

    1. Observer*

      No, you should be aware that you are being underpaid.

      If you are female or if you are a POC and the guy is white, AND if your HR is competent you should bring this up with HR, because this is an EEOC investigation waiting to happen. Not that YOU will go to the EEOC, but if anyone else ever goes to them, they will look at all pay scales and this is going to jump out at them.

      Otherwise, start looking for a job where you will be paid what you are worth.

    2. Your brother from another mother*

      I was put into a roughly similar situation a long time ago and it still hasn’t been resolved. One note from your post really jumped out at me. You should stop trying to be grateful and happy for the opportunity, because you are being treated unfairly. I’d get as aggressive and active as you can to find a different job. It doesn’t even need to be better, in my opinion, just different. Because that’s not a good place for you to work anymore.

      I’m only staying in my situation because I don’t have good options for leaving; if, unlike me, you are young enough to move on, I urge you to focus as much energy as you can on job-hunting, networking etc. before it’s too late for you.

    3. PX*

      Not sure why you seem to be talking yourself out of being angry but yo. You should be angry and channeling all your rage into finding a new job.

      But seriously though, it seems like your company only barely just recognises the work you do, and unless you get amazing benefits in other ways, or the culture is great in other ways – money talks. You’re making less than people who report to you and you do higher value work? Get thee to a new job…

    4. annony*

      You do not need to be grateful or “happy for the opportunity” when they went back on what they promised you. Just because they could treat you worse doesn’t mean they are treating you well. It might be worthwhile to ask your boss why they think the other designer with less experience and less responsibilities is worth more than you are.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      Well, first – it’s not always unusual for supervisors to make less than the people they supervise. I used to work at an insurance company that loved to hire former attorneys as claims adjusters, and because of their advanced degrees, they would start out making $10k more than their peers right off the bat. If they negotiated to match what they were making as practicing attorneys, they could end up making double that on top of the original base for whatever role they were being hired for.

      This meant that most of these people had supervisors/managers who made significantly less than them even if said management was doing higher level work. Not the best way to set salaries, but there you go.

      The bigger problem you have here is that your company doesn’t appreciate what you do. If you’re doing the most billable work at a high level, you should be paid accordingly. The title bait and switch is also shitty – if you couldn’t be made Director for whatever reason, they should have bumped your salary higher to make up for the discrepancy and given you a reason for why they couldn’t give you the title. As it stands with no explanation, it looks like you were lied to, which does nothing for employee morale. I’d be looking for a new position if I were you.

      1. op*

        That’s a good point. In this case, the younger/less experienced designer doesn’t come in with a big degree. He doesn’t even have a degree in our field (I have a BFA for what it’s worth). That’s beside the point though. My boss has consistently said that if it weren’t for me, these projects would “die on the vine” and the money I’m pulling in is helping us not be overhead. This year, my projects alone brought in $600K (projects average $3K-$30K: that’s an indication of the volume). I’ve trained every new designer on our team in some capacity. Actually the more I’m writing this, the more frustrated/angry I’m becoming.

        Thank you everyone, looks like you helped me answer my own questions. It’s time to move on unless they can give me a significant bump.

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Oh my gosh!!! You are a rainmaker here. They should be throwing money at you to keep you, and yet they are not. I agree it’s an EEOC investigation waiting to happen. But in any case, you have ample evidence the company doesn’t value you. I wish you all the best in seeking that Directorship somewhere else! You deserve so much better.

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Time to move on. I’m sorry.
      This kind of thing is called the Great String You Along
      Why should they when you’re doing all that work for low pay?

  58. Ziggy Pudding*

    I think I’m just not very good at my job. I’ve been doing project management in a somewhat dysfunctional system and I’m having a hard time telling what errors were on me and what were the result of the system as a whole — but even if most of it was not directly my fault, it’s my name on the project and my reputation in the line when the project tanks, which it is.

    How can I tell what was my fault? If I’m just not good at this job, I should find something else.

    It’s difficult for me to confront that I may just suck at this. I was always a “gifted” / high-achieving student, but the traits that served me well in school turn out to not be serving me well.

    1. LQ*

      Can you start to sort through not just project failure, but what part of the thing failed and see if you can narrow that down? Continually missed deadlines, ok but were the deadlines clearly documented? Were the people routinely communicated with? Was it a cascade of the first thing was a month late and nothing could catch up? Or everything was off by 1-2 days? Was there a lot of missed stuff in the tasks?
      Documentation didn’t do what it needed to do? Were you unable to get the information you needed? Did the person you were giving it to think it was unpolished? Did it make decisions for the decision makers clear? Did they struggle and delay decisions because of the documentation?

      PMing is a weird thing. And you may be able to find you’d be way better at say being a BA than a PM or something that’s a better fit for your skillset. (I have a love/hate with PMs the good ones make me crazy and crabby and so much better. The bad ones just make me frustrated and do their job. I’m saying this in part because PMs never really get the love, they just get “well that was your job” if it does well, and dumped on if it doesn’t. So if you’re expecting or wanting accolades pming can be especially hard I think.)

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Have you had any formal PM training? I know a lot of people just get thrown into project management and do the best with what they have. Sitting down with a rock star PM or Performance Improvement rock star and asking them questions and listening to their stories will be eye opening. Are their any PM groups in your area? People who like project management REALLY like project management and love to talk about their work.

    3. Someone Else*

      I agree with AndersonDarling, find another PM in your organization, one that is considered the Rock Star/ Subject Matter Expert for the system, they’ll be able to tell you which are system issues vs what is you. Once you have that knowledge, you can craft a plan to monitor for your own errors, and know to double check the system for common errors. Also, most companies have training videos or other things for PM systems that are built for them, it depends which one your company is utilizing. I found it really helpful to read the system materials and watch the videos to learn the system better, and use it correctly. It helps to know the systems limits, and possibly even learn things you didn’t know the system was capable of before.