open thread – January 3-4, 2020

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.

{ 1,780 comments… read them below }

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      You don’t dread going to work every day. You aren’t physically suffering because of the psychological suffering you experience at work. It isn’t a cult.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. And I’d also add that your management team advocates for you and your team to ensure you’re adequately staffed and compensated, your time off requests are respected (and no one guilt trips you when you return for taking your hard earned PTO time), your feedback/ideas/input are solicited and implemented when they can be within reason, and you’re constantly learning and growing.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          I love this answer. I’d add that in a healthy workplace, your management creates an atmosphere of trust and one in which you can do your work (have the tools and resources, have decision-making power appropriate to your role, helps with any bureaucracy) and acts a buffer between you and any problems in the next layer of management (i.e., between them and their managers).

      2. Bunny Girl*

        Your boss doesn’t refuse to take action on multiple complaints of sexual harassment against someone bEcAuSe ThEy’Re TeNuRe. And yes I do dread going to work every day.

        1. bleh*

          So sorry you are in this toxicity. I experienced this very behavior at my last institution. He did eventually retire though.

      1. LKW*

        At a healthy work place you wouldn’t have an aggressor, but if there were a conflict, management would hear both sides of any conflict.

        1. fposte*

          I think even in a good workplace people will do shitty things, though. There’s no foolproof way to make sure nobody you hire ever does a shitty thing. The question is how the workplace deals with them when they happen.

        2. CastIrony*

          Lol, nope. I’ve been stepping aside and trying to avoid conflict by changing my work schedule to make sure he’s not having to be near me because my supervisor and boss will not fire him. Good way to push me out of a job, lol

      2. Adlib*

        Yes, this. I liked my previous boss, but boy, was he a squish regarding the bullies I had to put up with from another department. He’d rather roll over than be confrontational.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I can think of a few areas.

      – the company follows the law (employement law, safety, etc)
      – the employer genuinely cares about the well being of their employees. They want them to do their job well, but without being burnt out or miserable.
      – good performance is rewarded (raises, promotions, more interesting tasks, perks, professional development), bad performance is addressed (up to and including firing).
      – feedback is provided in a timely and clear fashion
      – employees are not blamed for things outside of their control
      – employees are expected to behave in a polite and considerate fashion to other employees, including across power differentials.
      – employees can bring up concerns to their managers, and be listened to, and not punished for doing so.
      – the employer recognizes that their employees have lives outside of work that sometimes impact their job.

      Take the opposite of that for toxic places – places that are punitive, bullying, capricious, vindictive, and demanding, do dodgy semi-legal or really illegal stuff, let bad employees slack and squeeze everything they can out of good ones without reward.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        – good performance is rewarded (raises, promotions, more interesting tasks, perks, professional development), bad performance is addressed (up to and including firing).

        Just to be more specific on this one point, the best employer I ever had prioritised reinvestment in its people (compensation and training) ahead of stakeholder payouts. It was brought up at interview and I saw it happen when I worked there. Unsurprisingly, the business grew and grew and grew, at the expense of its competitors who were more concerned with short-term bottom line; and it was a far, far healthier place to work.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Such a common sense thing, yet how many employers actually do it? Far too few.
          An additional bit of advice that impressed me was the advice to save money during good times and when there are lulls use that money to invest in employee training and upgrades for the systems in place. This is to prepare for the next busy season.

        2. Not a cat*

          The stakeholder/shareholder payouts thing is an interesting and terrible phenomenon. Its genesis can be found in the advent of “business consultants” (McKinsey, BCG, etc.) and their determination that the organization’s actual client is the shareholder NOT the actual client (ie policyholder for insurance biz). It also contributes to outsized CEO remuneration.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            I have always wondered about this! Is there anything you recommend I could read about it?

      2. Quinalla*

        This is a good list, I would add to this one:
        – employees can bring up concerns to their managers, and be listened to, and not punished for doing so.
        Not just aren’t punished, employees are encouraged and solicited to provide feedback and feedback is followed up on with how action is being taken or why action is not being taken.

        1. Not a cat*

          Also, vague feedback. Recently, I received this comment about a 20-page technical whitepaper- “there is a grammatical error…” with no hint as to where or what the error is. I’ve learned to interpret this as “I don’t like something about the content, but I am not going to tell you why because its more fun for me this way.”

    3. Sherm*

      The AAM archives will show you that there are a myriad forms of toxic, but broadly, I would say a toxic company is one where power is abused. It could be a manager who screams, or demands that you donate your liver, but it could also be a coworker who gets away with murder and knows nothing will be done about it. A healthy and functional workplace is one that is not toxic and one that regularly accomplishes its goals or made a good effort.

      Which leads me to suggest that a company can be neither functional nor toxic — merely dysfunctional. I once worked at a retail store where the boss all the time changed her mind. “Put the llama statues to the left of the rice sculptures.” After I spent a day accomplishing that, I would soon be told “Actually, put them to the right of the rice sculptures.” “No, I think they should go in the back of the store.” “To the front, I’ve decided.” I wouldn’t say it was toxic — it was just annoying instead of psychologically damaging — but it sure wasn’t efficient. Everyone can be nice and sweet and still be dysfunctional.

      1. Roy G. Biv*

        “Which leads me to suggest that a company can be neither functional nor toxic — merely dysfunctional.”
        Yes! This probably more so than anything else, in my work experience. Dysfunctional, in the sense that wasting other people’s time is never seen as a problem, but not getting work accomplished IS a problem. Can you not see how these go together?

        “I would have finished that today, Steve, but you made me sit in a 4 hour meeting with you, and it was pretty obvious I did not need to be in there the whole time.”

        This was the boss that loved to have an audience, and a catered lunch. Hence, loooooong meetings.

      2. Employee of the Bearimy*

        This is an excellent point – my company is dysfunctional in many ways, but we’re not actually toxic. It’s very frustrating a lot of the time, because I can see very clearly how much more we could do if we all actually worked together the way we should, but a lot of that is above my pay grade.

    4. You're toxic I'm slippin' under*

      Healthy: You feel like solutions can be found for most big-picture problems you encounter, instead of feeling like nothing will ever change and everything’s hopeless. You feel like you can be yourself (or at least a professional version of yourself!). When there’s an issue, you feel comfortable bringing it up with your manager. You don’t constantly worry about saying the wrong thing, or other people’s reactions. You’re not overhearing constant grumbling about big and little things in the lunchroom, painting a picture of overall dissatisfaction. People are friendly and feel valued. Everyone isn’t constantly looking over their shoulder or waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone feels secure. HR isn’t overworked with interpersonal complaints. You don’t need a glass of wine at the end of every day.

      1. grr pwr into grrl pwr*

        last workplace was the exact opposite of this and yes, i finally realized how dysfunctional it was towards the 1.5 year mark.

        needed several glasses at the end of the day and took a lot of willpower not to get one DURING! glad i am out!

    5. StellaBella*

      To reiterate, the Archives here have a lot of examples of both, so definitely spend time looking thru and reading many of those posts. My take on this, trying to look from the 10,000 foot views would be:

      Healthy:
      -Good policies and practices in place, for everything from hiring and annual reviews to transparency about finances and following the laws of where your employer is based
      -Honesty and directness in management style: management knows how to manage and direct teams and people, have been briefed and trained in how to communicate how to do tasks well, how to coach for success and advancement, and correctly and how to plan for change, and how to strategise
      -Trustworthiness of teammates and management, clear, open communication
      -Clear direction of the team and the company – including startups. Aiming for a set of clear goals.
      -Fair treatment of employers and no favouritism
      -Compensation and benefits etc are fair for the market and across equal roles
      -People are treated like adults
      -Ethics are important in a healthy work. environment, and the staff and management have them, exhibit. them and are guided by policies that enforce them
      -Core competencies for each role are clearly determined, updated when. needed, and are used as the basis for annual reviews and promotion justification as well as other management decisions like termination
      -Open door policy and not having a lot of secret meetings
      -A culture of accountability and transparency of management decisions, a culture that is not prone to gossiping by anyone

      Hope this helps a bit?

      1. Cleopatra*

        I would also add that a healthy environment is made of good communication with i) your boss and ii) your teammates. I for instance have none, which I find quite toxic and psychologically tiring. My boss has never given me any feedback since I started working in their team (nearly a year now), and the coworker with whom I share my small office and I nearly never talk. Not that we re feuding, but at the beginning, he tried to be bossy with me, except that he did not know who he was dealing with !! Ha ! I put him back in his place in a very gracious way. But well, the atmosphere is not very warm… Polite, but icy. And this does not at all make me want to come to the office every morning.

      2. Spreadsheets and Books*

        Management is SO important.

        My last job was an ostensibly good place to work (good environment, work-life balance, benefits, good morale, great community), but my department had some issues. My manager was excellent at his job duties but was given zero support in transitioning to management, and it really showed. I was his first ever direct report and it took me the better part of a year to get up to speed. I was consistently told I’d be trained on tasks, only to later learn that he’d just done them himself because it was “easier.”

        I started around the same time as a new director (my manager’s new manager) and as our SVP was also quite new, my manager was more or less responsible for training his new boss, too. It worked out worse for the new director – he got asked to leave after a little under two years because he received absolutely no support whatsoever and was left with enormous gaps in company-specific knowledge and systems. The SVP played favorites and information by and large bottlenecked with her direct reports, so those of us at the bottom of the pyramid were left largely in the dark. Those on my level and below were constantly left looking like idiots for asking questions about information we didn’t have because emails never made it down the chain to us.

        In the 2.5 years I was there, my department of 7 saw 7 people leave, including people who were hired after me. Great company. Other departments functioned well. Mine was just a trainwreck because management was so poor.

        1. Mama Bear*

          My husband was told “people don’t quit bad jobs – they quit bad managers.” This is very true. People can deal with a lot if they have solid leadership. They will bail if they feel like their manager doesn’t care, or worse, is against them.

          1. Spreadsheets and Books*

            And that’s exactly what happened in my situation. I left because I didn’t get a promotion for the same crap excuse given to a few other people who left for the same reason (primarily related to the aforementioned information bottlenecks). That team lost 4 good, dedicated employees who weren’t given the opportunity to move up and, as a consequence, got a few very poor new hires in exchange.

            I moved on about 9 months ago and I’m so glad I did. No management issues here!

    6. CM*

      I like this question, and, the more I think about it, the less I’m sure that a perfectly healthy workplace exists. But, I think that, if we say all workplaces have healthy elements and toxic elements, and we want to look for workplaces that are MUCH MORE healthy than they are toxic, I think the key things to look for are:

      1) A strong foundation for the organization where the mission and day-to-day activities align, people’s roles and responsibilities make sense, people in key positions have adequate training and support to do their jobs, they follow ethical business practices, there’s good communication & transparency, etc.

      2) The cultural norm is dignity, respect, and accountability for everyone.

      1. Quinalla*

        Agreed that perfectly healthy workplaces are not something that exists, but yes, you want to find one that is overall healthy with a minimum of unhealthy things. I think it is important to know where those unhealthy spots are in your company and make changes as you can, but at least be aware so they don’t bite you or you can work around them.

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

      You can be honest with your coworkers and manager. For example, when there was a horribly executed firing I told him I hoped this wasn’t the way the company delt with low performing employees.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Instructions are clearly given to all (no mind reading after the boss makes a casual aside to one person in 7).
      Employees can ask questions without getting mocked or scolded.

    9. girl friday*

      The saddest kind of workplace is the one that is healthy and functioning (non-toxic) but located within a dysfunctional or toxic company. I’ve had that experience, more or less, on my last couple of jobs including my current one. Leaving my last job was painful because I genuinely liked the atmosphere and (most of) the people in the department, but was forced to realize that the company was going downhill fast (so many red lights blinking and then flashing, I felt like my job was not safe in the long term). I’ve jumped to another stellar workplace, but the company (while very stable, and large) is one of the most dysfunctional companies I’ve ever worked for, in a uniquely horrible “too big to fail” way.

    10. SlenderFluid*

      Going into work each day expecting that there’s a good chance you’ll (be allowed to) do something that will leave you feeling you’ve contributed something useful to something at the end of that day.

      For the converse, take the number of weird people in the world and multiply it by the number of normal people in the world, and that’s how many ways a situation can be toxic (and that’s even without cliques, cabals and enablers combining to turbo-charge each other’s dysfunction). As a general rule for when it’s time to start polishing the resume though, I go by waking up feeling stressed because I’ve been dreaming about work and there’s no sense of relief thinking ‘Oh, it was just a dream’, because I’ve woken up to the same situation. Sleep is the ultimate me time, and no one gets to mess with that if there’s any possible way of avoiding it.

    11. WantonSeedStitch*

      Colleagues act collegially. They don’t snipe at each other, sabotage each other’s work, or try to make each other look bad. They help one another and work well together because they honestly want everyone to do well. Managers manage. They give both positive and what my HR head calls “constructive” feedback, promptly and in a professional way. They don’t play favorites, but do reward high performers appropriately. Individual contributors trust and respect their managers. They know that the managers will advocate for them, and that they are invested in their success. When you go into the office, you feel like you are in a place where people want you to succeed and give you the tools, feedback, and support you need to do so.

    12. Jean*

      A toxic workplace is like art, or pornography. Difficult to define, but you know it when you see it.

    13. No Complaints*

      A place where the company understands that every person should not be at 100% capacity at all times and staffs accordingly. In my current group, the work could be done by 4 people, but it isn’t, our group is 5 people. We have room in our schedules and are actively encouraged to do professional development.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        When you take reasonable leave policies into account, 80-90% capacity is the maximum you should expect. Staffing for 75% gets my respect! Space to excel, and to exceed customer expectations.

    14. MissDisplaced*

      It’s hard to say because of how people view “work,” but in general the basics are:
      Adequate pay, good work/life balance, some flexibility, sound leadership and management decisions, a respectful culture, and opportunity to grow and learn new things.

      Bonuses: A strong reward system based on company success, above-average PTO, leadership that is invested in seeing employees grow their skills by training, classes or tuition help.

      Keep in mind though, that some people will still be unhappy even with all of the above. Because I guess that’s just how humans roll. Even a “perfect” environment may not be perfect for you forever if upward movement is limited (which eventually it will be) and good companies may get bad apples. LOL! I think the key is this is recognized and the leadership either encourages the high achievers to move up & outward so they don’t stagnate and become miserable, and also get rid of those rotten apples much more quickly.

    15. Sunflower*

      Generally- one where you feel you have open, safe and respected communication with your boss and where you feel valued and respected. There’s so many little things within that- like some days you’re gonna wanna kill your boss or think your boss handled things badly. Or unhappy with a decision higher-ups made. But you’ve gotta look at the overall picture.

    16. De Minimis*

      People work as a team and share information, both within and between departments. Managers give you the tools and information you need to do your job, instead of just letting you sink or swim. New hires are trained and shown everything they need to know, both in their work and for HR/admin policies [how to enroll in programs, how their leave works, who to contact for assistance, what to do when calling out, etc.]

    17. Nesprin*

      Good work is the priority: policies are aligned with the goal of doing good work, people doing good work are recognized and rewarded, and issues (be they personnel, policy or priorities) preventing good work are dealt with quickly before they fester.

    18. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Co-workers resolve problems — whenever possible — directly with you, instead of running to management/HR.

      When management/HR does hear concerns about you, they tell you about those concerns in detail (including where necessary with a strong warning not to retaliate [and back it up when need be]) and hear your side of the story in full before making any decisions.

    19. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Managers (and other superiors) tell you — clearly and directly — about problems early on, with plenty of time to fix them before any consequences need to happen.

    1. You're toxic I'm slippin' under*

      My intial ideas:

      – Have someone neutral within the company that you can bounce things off to make sure you’re not off-base or reading things wrong, and who can offer their insight
      – Give yourself time to cool down if you feel upset or heated about something – take emotion out of it
      – Try and gauge whether there is a precedent for what you’re asking for
      – Give specific examples, whether it be about what you want to change, or about what you are asking for. Also be specific about what you want or expect everyone involved to get out of whatever it is you’re asking for
      – Be prepared with answers to any questions that might come up – show you’ve thought deeply about what you’re asking for or bringing up
      – Know your own value and what your lines in the sand are
      – Be prepared for all possibilities and think about how your will react if it doesn’t go your way

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Annnddd… when you get what you ask for or get a reasonable compromise, DECIDE to be satisfied.

        It can surprise us when we have a win and some how still do not feel settled. Decide that x solution is the best solution possible given the givens and take satisfaction in having moved this far.

      2. Heat's Kitchen*

        An old colleague of mine and I came up with the “manana rule”. If one of us was upset about something, we could vent to each other about it, but we would never actually respond until the next day. Usually, things calmed down and we were able to have a more reasonable response.

    2. Mockingjay*

      24-hour postponement rule. Whether you are proposing a new idea, a change in process, a fix for a failure, or (especially) you are reacting to a bad situation with coworker, manager, project, sit on it at least overnight.

      This cooling-off period allows you to take some of the emotion out and more objectively evaluate what you want to get or offer. This includes positive emotions; you might be so enthusiastic about Great New System that you can’t see any flaws.

      1. Aquawoman*

        +1. I definitely have a “don’t discuss while angry” rule. Think about it from both sides–it affects you and it affects your employer, how will it benefit your employer to cooperate with the thing you are seeking, does it affect others and if so how. One of the main things I had to advocate for myself about was a workplace bully, but he didn’t just affect me, he affected most of the (high functioning) people who dealt with him, reflected badly on my employer, and caused demonstrably bad outcomes.

      2. bleh*

        This so much. For email responses too. Let that message sit for a day and then see if you still want to send it.

    3. CM*

      Read the classic negotiation book, Getting to Yes! I think everybody should read this book. It will teach you how to identify your own needs and wants (“interests,” to use the same term as the book), how to ask for them in an effective and direct way, and how to deal with a “no.”

      The book also teaches you the concept of a BATNA, Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement — before you ask for something, you should think about what your alternatives are. That will help you in the moment if the person you’re talking to says no or offers you something unexpected instead.

    4. Heat's Kitchen*

      This is a loaded question. Here’s a few things I”ve learned in my 10 years in the corporate world:
      – Set boundaries. Block time on your calendar as needed. I’ve never really needed to save my lunch time, but some places do. Mark yourself OOO when you have an evening appointment. And don’t compromise on those.
      – Know you can say no if you don’t have time. But do it in such a way where you are coming up with a proposed solution (I can’t do X, but maybe Zena has the time. Or I can only do X if you let me take more time to do Z)
      – Talk to your boss (or someone you trust) about where you want to go in the company. What your goals are and ask them what you should focus on to achieve them.
      – Volunteer for additional work, when it makes sense and gets you visible to others in the organization.

    5. The Ginger Ginger*

      I think the biggest thing I’ve learned (in reasonable places with reasonable people), is to just….be willing to bring things up. You have to be willing to talk about the things that are causing problems, not bury them, or agonize over them for so long they start burning you out. If it’s not working, it’s worth mentioning sooner rather than later. The tone should always be professional and collaborative, approached in a spirit of problem solving, but you have to be willing to start the conversation.

    6. Probably Taking This Too Seriously*

      Advocate for other people who need help being heard and you will be seen by others as someone worth advocating for. Not immediately and not always, but after 20 years in my industry, I see that it does come back.

  1. Anonymous Educator*

    How much (percentage-wise) has your salary gone up or down since the beginning of 2010?

      1. Fantasma*

        Same – up 200%. In 2010, I worked in a different field, was underpaid and freelanced on the side.

      2. zora*

        Same, up 200%. I was working in a very underfunded nonprofit and making bad career decisions. So now I’m making a reasonable wage for my area, but really I should be able to make a lot more. I’m aiming for another 50% increase this year.

    1. Gaia*

      86% increase but almost all of that is as a result of moving out of customer service/call center work and into data work in a very specific way.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      100% as I made 0% at the beginning of 2010, lol. But by the end of 2010? 61% increase since then.

      1. You're toxic I'm slippin' under*

        I just calculated mine at exactly +284% too, wild! I am also no Scrooge McDuck, I was flipping burgers in 2010.

        1. Gatomon*

          Whoohoo! I remember my days rocking the grill! We used to see who could make the biggest flames with the greasy burgers. My stomach cramps now just thinking about trying to eat that garbage.

      2. we're basically gods*

        Also in camp +284%!
        That’s moving from minimum wage to web developer, though…

    3. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Impossible to say; at the time I had a part-time job and was doing freelance work on the side. But at least a 50% increase since then, maybe more.

    4. BeeBoo*

      263%. But over the past 10 years I’ve gotten two masters, worked at 3 different companies, and gone from entry level in a lower cost of living area to senior management in an extremely high cost of living area.

    5. Eliza*

      I’m a contractor who’s paid by the hour; depending on the type of work I’m doing for a particular project, my rates are 25-50% higher than they were. I’m also working more hours than I used to.

      I’m in a tiny creative field where nobody makes any money (like, almost literally; hobbyists doing it for free far outnumber people making a living from it), so I’m pretty happy with those increases.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My actual base salary is ~175% of what my base salary was then – including my supplemental work hours, my expected annual income from my employer is 195% of my 2010 income.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Same career field, but in 2010 I was in Seattle and now I am in the Midwest, suburbs of a large city.

    7. Not Dave*

      384%. In 2010 I worked the line in a factory, ended the decade managing large construction projects. A very long, strange trip between those two points – sometimes feels like the last 10 years was actually 20.

    8. zaracat*

      Marginally increased, maybe 5%. It has mainly varied according to the number of hours/cases I do. I freelance in the private health care system in Australia and my billing is directly linked to government health care subsidies, which have been frozen since 2013.

    9. NeverNicky*

      +67%

      This is in the same job for the same charity. I had a major jump when the salaries were re-graded and I have had merit and inflationary rises since.

    10. Princesa Zelda*

      Mine has gone up nearly 50% — I started at federal minimum wage ($7.25) as a cashier at a fast food establishment, and my entire pay-band got a raise from our city council to $15 that went into effect on Monday.

      1. Princesa Zelda*

        Ugh, /math/: It’s a bit more than doubled, so a little over 100%. I get percentage growth vs percentage of turned around.

    11. MommaCat*

      186% from 2010. My first job was massively underpaid. I had two ~50% jumps in two years after leaving that job which accounts for most of the increase, though I’ve gone down about 9% from my highest pay. The work is easier, though, so it seems fair to me.

      1. MommaCat*

        I work in the arts, but I pivoted to arts education. The massive pay increase tells you more about how poorly the arts pay than how well education pays.

    12. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

      My current salary is 413% of my salary in 2010. That said, in 2010 I was working part time in call centres while studying and I’m now a nonprofit director…

    13. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      +50% – that is, looking at just hourly. I actually take home less each month because I’ve had two babies since then and cut down on my hours worked.

    14. Everdene*

      Increased by 65%. Although if you’d asked at most points during the decade it would’ve been a decrease. 2020 compared to 2010 includes moving to management, another degree and going full time. I’m hoping for another ~20% this year if the plan comes together.

    15. Discordia Angel Jones*

      + 100% but caveat that heavily with:

      In 2010 I was working retail.
      Now I’m a lawyer.
      The pay increase between my first job as a lawyer and retail in 2010 was 0%.
      The pay increase between my first job as a lawyer and my current job is +100% (i.e. double).
      I haven’t had a pay increase since joining this firm in 2017, not even COL (and tbh I’m still not paid enough to be comfortable living, don’t believe everything you read about lawyers being paid loads).

        1. Now in the Job*

          ^ Me, also a lawyer.
          Then again, me, looks at my attorney friends who make $60-70K/year, and my graphic designer friend who makes $90K/year.

        2. Amy Sly*

          When I worked at a comfort shoe mall boutique in 2010, I was $8/hr + commission, which averaged out to be about $22K/yr. (Though my mall was dying, so I could have gotten up to $25K or $28K if I had transferred to a busier location.) One of the lawyer jobs I got a second interview for at that time paid $34K. My only JD required job I’ve had in 10 years post graduation was $25/hr as a document review contractor, which came up to only $48K/yr between voluntary unpaid time off and furloughs.

          Some retail pays surprisingly well, and quite a lot of entry level law pays surprisingly poorly.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Lawyers aren’t all high paid folks. It varies by expertise and area widely. Lots of lawyers struggle financially even.

          1. Discordia Angel Jones*

            ^ This.

            I’m one of those financially struggling lawyers despite being better off than I was in 2010 / in retail.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              It’s because everyone thinks about the powerhouse defense attorneys out there that they see or the fact you can get a bill for $250-350 an hour for a consult. That’s not going into their pockets! Just like when you pay $125 an hour labor for a mechanic, your mechanic is not raking in that cash. It’s a business…overhead is in those prices…yadda yadda yadda.

        4. Discordia Angel Jones*

          Yep. My job as a middling experienced lawyer pays only double what I was making in retail.

          My first job as a baby lawyer paid the same as what I was making in retail (to be fair I was working one part time job in high end retail and one part time job in front of house at a theater where a Disney musical was on, which totaled the same as my baby lawyer job, so not supermarket retail).

          1. Kiwiii*

            Supermarket retail can pay okay, even. I know we hired leads (which could basically be anyone over 18, who could work full time, and had over a year of experience) and night shift employees for a couple dollars an hour more than I made at my first desk job.

        5. NotAnotherManager!*

          People tend grossly overestimate what the average lawyer makes. Only BigLaw associates make the $150K+ starting salaries, and they only represent 20-30% of law school grads, depending on the year. Looking at average salary is also misleading because of how skewed the relatively small percentage of upper-earners bring in. There are many more attorneys in government, public defender, nonprofit, corporate, and document reviewer positions that make a lot less.

          1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

            BigLaw vs. other lawyers: I suspect the hourly pay difference is much less than the annual pay difference.

    16. Paris-Berlin-Seoul Express*

      260%. Three moves, three continents and three promotions. I had to fast track it because I moved back to the US in 2009 without a job and had to catch up.

    17. Mrs. Burt Wonderstone*

      278% since I got my first job straight out of college in 2011.
      That includes internal promotions, new jobs, new employers, and leaving state government.

    18. Llamalawyer*

      Good post that really has me thinking. Can’t remember my exact salary but I am guesstimating maybe 40%. Considering that I went from being a third year law firm associate to now in a few years into being a partner, this reaffirms my displeasure with the direction and management of my firm and fuels my desire to go out in my own this time next year.

    19. Rebecca*

      0.97, yes, less than 1%, but wow that tiny raise bump that wouldn’t buy me a coffee at the convenience store nearby was a huge morale booster. /s

      1. Gramarye*

        Pretty much the same at 1435% :D I was working less than a couple days a week as a teenage lifeguard in 2010.

    20. Jobbyjob*

      +840%!! That math is crazy- 2010 I was on a grad student stipend and now I am well into my career (currently middle management).

        1. Inopportune Moose*

          Ditto– from my work study average to my current gig, I’m up 593% (although that’s counting the raise I got yesterday, sooo…).

    21. Thalia*

      5050% However, I was a grad student and part-time waitress in 2010. It’s a mere 71% increase since 2014 when I started my career.

      1. Thalia*

        Actually 2010 may have been the year I had the grad stipend, so maybe just a 415% increase… funny how quickly we forget things that were vitally important at the time.

    22. N.J.*

      I e had a lot of income instability and thus is across multiple job changes.

      +31%, then -40%, then -20%, then +133%, then finally -23%, for a final change between original 2010 job and my job now of +13 %.

    23. girl friday*

      Is everyone adjusting for inflation?
      Your pay can seem to be increasing, but may actually be going backward if it’s not increasing enough…

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I found this about the CPI: “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today’s prices in 2020 are 17.96% higher than average prices since 2010.”

        1. Quiltrrr*

          At a 26% increase in the past 10 years, no wonder I don’t feel like I’ve really accomplished anything.

      2. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. There are a lot of factors. The price of groceries has gone up, for example. We have fewer kids at home but pay about the same for food.

    24. triplehiccup*

      +212% (a little more than tripled)
      I started in education in 2010, first as a classroom teacher, then into research and consulting, and now at a federal agency with a strong pay scale and a boss who successfully fought to get me more money from the start. Moving from a lower cost area with no state income tax to one with much higher cost of living and steep state taxes cuts into that jump.

    25. Here for randomness*

      About +30% income, but housing expense went up about 50% due to a location change.

    26. Hazelthyme*

      393%.

      After being unemployed for the last several months of 2009 and the first 6 weeks of 2010, I took a long-term temp assignment that paid $30,000 a year. This was about 1/2 what I’d made BGR (before the Great Recession), but hey — I’d been unemployed for 9 months and at least it was in my field. I added a side hustle to bring in some extra cash, which turned into full-time work once the $30k gig ended, and started me on the path that would eventually lead to my current job: a far more lucrative consulting position in the same industry, with a base salary of $140,000 plus generous bonuses.

    27. OtterB*

      I should be able to figure out the math, but it’s been a 3% COL raise each year. (True for everyone at my small nonprofit. ) One year there was an extra couple of percent boost and one year a flat rate additional amount as merit raises for me.

    28. Zip Silver*

      About 1100%
      That’s going from part time retail to graduating in 2011 and then working up to middle management

    29. What’s with Today, today?*

      About 20%. Notoriously low paying industry and I’m probably overpaid for my market, sadly.

    30. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Mine has bounced all over the place mostly because of switching from international work (I made way too much) to domestic government in a slim government state (I made way to little) to non-profit (ditto). Now I am about where I was when working internationally given inflation, so just about where I should be given my experience, field, and location.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        ^ This may sound job hopping but it is the nature of the beast for primarily grant-funded work. This current job will last 5 years and then it will be on to something new.

    31. Llellayena*

      60% since 2012 (base income only, with bonuses I think it’s more but it’s too early for that math). Before that was grad school so negative income.

    32. Environmental Compliance*

      I went from gov’t intern to private sector management, so about 185% hourly rate wise, and 1140% annual salary wise. Helps to also go from working just summers to working full time.

    33. Teacher Lady*

      About 275%, although to be fair, my income in 2010 was my Peace Corps living allowance. I am up 200% from my salary at my first professional job after that (started in 2013), though!

    34. Faith*

      More than tripled if you look at base salary. Quadrupled if you consider variable and deferred compensation. But I’ve changed 3 jobs since 2010 and got a big bump each time. Plus, I went from being a fairly junior staff to a subject matter expert.

      1. Kimmybear*

        I thought about that. I’ve read that women tend to plateau career-wise around 40 yo and men closer to 50. So the salary tripling between 2000 and 2010 doesn’t really compare to the 40% increase between 2010 and 2020.

    35. Goldfinch*

      +625%

      Context: 2010 was the middle of a long stretch of unemployment. I was stringing together sparse freelance jobs, tutoring, and waitressing.

      I am now working a full-time permanent position in my field, though my salary is a bit below the median.

    36. Art3mis*

      I was unemployed at the start of 2010 and eventually took a “I seriously need to find something” job and it’s gone up 61% since that job. It’s down 4% since the job I left in 2008 though.

    37. Now in the Job*

      Hourly, around 500%.
      Salary, way more than that.

      In 2010, I was a student employee at my undergrad, limited to 15 hours a week in the semester and could do the full 40 during the off time. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, but I also spent four and a half months abroad, so didn’t earn much then. The whole year, probably $8-9K. Now, before bonuses, I’m at 1289%. But now I’m a lawyer in-house at a large corporation, so….

      Versus last job, on base salary, it’s -3.85%, but the bonus was $150. This year I’m expecting more, but it remains to be seen how much more…

    38. Anon the mouse*

      +629% but I’m counting since I graduated college in 2013 and was working in retail part-time for $8.50/hr.. I’ve managed to make some big jumps and finally got to negotiate my salary this year at my most recent job change with the help of a not-worth-it counter offer from my old boss. My role now is a program analyst, working in a function that’s some odd derivative of public health admin.

    39. Zephy*

      I was in college in 2010, and the job I had at that time was a Federal Work-Study job in the campus cafeteria. It was very part-time, like <15 hours per week, with no benefits to speak of, other than "free meal during your shift." Now I have a full-time grown-up job with actual benefits like health insurance and PTO. My actual take-home pay has increased by an order of magnitude.

    40. TechWorker*

      488%
      That was a job between school and university, just over minimum wage, then I got a degree and a job in tech. I feel overpaid compared to some of my friends but then I’m also stressed most of the time sooo it has to have some benefits right…

      1. TechWorker*

        That should be 388% turns out I still can’t do maths despite that ol’ maths degree…

    41. Professional Merchandiser*

      0%. I changed merchandising companies because my former company closed their merchandising division, and I didn’t know that this company NEVER gives raises. However, they do give PTO, sick time, and bereavement pay so I guess that would count as an increase? Just don’t know how to calculate.

    42. Quinalla*

      +41% base salary as bonuses are variable, most of that when I changed jobs as I was underpaid, though I have been getting steady raises since then which is great as my last job I got a total of 2 raises when I was there for 13 years :/ I’ve learned a lot from that experience.

    43. WantonSeedStitch*

      92%, which I thought was a lot until I saw how many people’s salaries have more than tripled in this time! I work at a university. Since January 2010, I have had four promotions. Annual increases here tend to be small (4% is enormous), which I think is par for the course in the nonprofit world, even at large, well-funded nonprofits.

    44. HR Lady*

      206% increase (I just did the maths!), but I’ve gone from an entry-level generic admin job in a low-paying industry (I was barely on over UK minimum wage) in a poor part of the country to a skilled professional role in a high-paying industry in London which generally has significantly higher paying salaries and a significantly higher cost of living.

      The biggest jumps have been in the last three years through changing jobs and one role paying me extra to retain me (and when after 6 months I realised I was still as miserable as sin I had a better jumping-off base to get my current role).

      I also get benefits now, including private healthcare, a bonus, a decent pension and a car allowance, none of which were even slightly likely in the 2010 job.

      Main lifestyle changes are that I haven’t been in my overdraft in a few years because I actually have savings now, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for my student loans (n.b in the UK these are automatically deducted from your salary depending on how much you get paid – I was skimming the interest for a long while) and my husband and I are planning on buying property in the next three years, we only haven’t bought yet as we’re both reluctant to leave London. I also treat myself to name-brand baked beans now ;)

      1. Beachlover*

        Approx 100% give or take. but now I work from home, where as before I was commuting, so also save on gas plus wear & tear on my car.

    45. IT Guy*

      Same company from 2010 t0 2020 – 381% increase. Went from part-time warehouse worker to senior director.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I should note that in 2010 I was a contractor with no PTO or benefits, and I’m making *almost* 100% more than I was in 2007, so I’m not complaining.

    46. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      635% if you incorporate working hours as well as hourly pay. I went from minimum wage at 20 hours a week to 40 hours a week at a bit over triple minimum.

    47. Tired of it all*

      Hiring several new team members that make significantly more than me and promising pay raises and not following through.

    48. athiker10*

      Starting from 2011 when I started professional work, (I didn’t work a lot in 2010, hiked the Appalachian Trail for 5.5 months and did temp jobs) 233%. Quite a bit of that is through a few promotions in my current role.

    49. GeorgiaB*

      205%, but I was a post-doc at the beginning of 2010 and now I work in an unrelated industry.

    50. unapologetic*

      480%. in 2010 i was working in call centres after finishing university, now i’m a senior web developer.

    51. Council'd*

      About +75%, but I was in a pretty well-paid for what it was but stagnant role for a good chunk of it. Nearly all of that 75% was an industry move and some job hopping in the last 4 years.

    52. MissDisplaced*

      + 38%
      It’s actually more than that, considering I was working part-time in 2010 and going to grad school.
      But the increase reflects the pay between the two full-time jobs and the difference between a bachelors degree versus a masters degree over 10 years time. We’ll see if that holds going forward.

    53. BlueWolf*

      Counting from when I actually started working full-time post college (2014) about 171%. But that’s going from an entry level position at a small business to a role at a much larger business followed by three promotions.

    54. RobotWithHumanHair*

      33% decrease. Was in a different job back in 2010, had been there for 11 years at that point. Been in my current job for close to 3 years now, last raise was over 2 years ago (at the end of my probationary period).

    55. Overeducated*

      400%, but I was on a grad student stipend in 2010, I still havent cracked six figures. I now spend almost as much as I made in grad school on day care for one kid, and when my infant starts in March, that second “tuition” alone will cost 12% more than I made in 2010.

    56. Bootstrap Paradox*

      What a great question to put the decade in perspective!

      My pay has increased 89% in the last decade, tho 55% of that has been within the last 6 years in my current niche. Not too bad, I think.

    57. TooTiredToThink*

      I don’t remember what my wage was in 2010, but I do remember what it was in 2008 (when I started my current career) and its been an +120% increase since then BUT my rent has gone up 220% since then so I often feel like my spending power (and general comfort level) was much higher from about 2009-2013 (I was in an industry that was unaffected by the recession).

    58. JobHunter*

      15% decrease on the straight wage. My benefits then were significantly better, but I’m not sure how to put a clear value on that.

      I had grad school and a few jobs between then and now, so my income has jumped around a bit.

    59. Elenna*

      Infinity% as I was 13 years old and not working at the start of 2010, but I don’t think that’s really the kind of answer you were looking for… :)

      1. Elenna*

        Well, I guess if you count my allowance as salary then… some very large number as my allowance was $13/month and I’m now in a full-time office job. :P

    60. amianai*

      I was a student in 2010, so my hourly rate now vs. then is roughly +431%. Higher education really can pay off.

    61. AJK*

      37%. I was working full time and going to school part-time in 2010, I finished school in 2012 and now have to pay student loans out of that difference. I was making about 10% more at my first job after graduating than I am now, but the commute costs were much higher. I also went from f0r-profit to non-profit.
      I’m lucky enough to live in a fairly low cost of living area, and my mortgage is still exactly what it was in 2010. I could make much more if I commuted to or moved to the much larger city about an hour or so south of here, but costs would go up accordingly. My current job is within walking distance of my house, and we do get some nice PTO and other perks to make up for the lower non-profit pay so I’d say I have it much better in general than I did in 2010. Back then I was juggling FT work in a somewhat toxic office and driving two hours RT to the Larger City suburbs every evening for classes to get into the field I wanted. I definitely have more options now than I did then.

    62. Seifer*

      +1000% which looks insane but I was 17 in 2010 and working a summer job only. I made decent money but since it was at the family business, it was… dysfunctional. I’m much better off now, and not just because of the money!

    63. Former Usher*

      Salary is up 18.5%. Bonus percentage is lower at current job. Including the targeted bonus at both jobs, my total cash compensation is only up 10.8%. Feels like a lost decade. Might be time to look for something else (for multiple reasons).

    64. Mistress of None*

      +311%
      In 2010 I started part-time in internet marketing working 30 hr/week. I’m still at the same company (hopefully not for long!), and my base is +62% from 2010. But between commission and incentives and the adjunct teaching I do at the university, my total compensation is up 311%. This is crazy to see.

    65. cncx*

      mine has stayed exactly the same. it went up for about five years by about 20 percent due to a relatively consistent bonus, but then that employer cut the bonus in a very grey legal way and I’m back at 2010. Late capitalism.

    66. Working for yarn*

      Roughly 600% … was working retail/temp because I couldn’t find a job in my field where I was/am living … now I’m using my experience and working in the public sector. Not in love with my job, but finding happiness where I can.

    67. The Beagle Has Landed*

      About 125%. From entry level to a promotion and regular merit and COLA raises in a municipal government.

    68. Junimo the Hutt*

      451%

      Unemployment through all of 2010 was demoralizing, but it did inspire me to go back to school and learn a few programs that put me on a new career path.

    69. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

      30%+

      Same employer, but no COLA ever, and never a raise higher than 3% until my most recent one that I fought for with AAM’s great tips (and hard data!) that was ~9%.

    70. Heat's Kitchen*

      400% – 2010 was when I graduated college and I was severely underpaid at my first two jobs out of college.

    71. Parenthetically*

      Not me, but my husband: -60%, going from a salaried, degree-requiring specialist government position to a blue-collar hourly position. It’s not as bad as it looks on paper, because we live in a much much lower COL area than before, but we also have two kids now!

    72. afiendishthingy*

      +310%, although I also now have more debt and my rent has increased by 108% and so have some other expenses. but still, better off now. (at the beginning of 2010 I had a call center job in a low-paying, low COL region and now I have a job that requires a masters degree and an in-demand certification in a considerably higher COL region)

    73. Lo Squared*

      1100% since 2010 (student working a temp job)
      212% since finishing my grad degree in 2012 (moved from a high COL area that was notoriously underpaid to an even higher COL area that was appropriately compensated in a profession that has grown exponentially in demand since 2012)

    74. Beachlover*

      I accidentally posted this on another’s comment.

      Approx 100% give or take. but now I work from home, where as before I was commuting, so also save on gas plus wear & tear on my car.

    75. Nynaeve*

      +2,870%

      From grad school with part-time tutoring/student loans to making that sweet, sweet librarian money. It would actually probably be more if you counted the money I made this year (IDK how much since I haven’t gotten my tax forms yet), but less if you counted my student loans as “income” (but I figure if the IRS doesn’t, I’m not going to).

      Do I win?

    76. AnotherAlison*

      Mine is a lot more linear than most. I was 10 years into my professional career, and the last 10 years have been about 178% while the first ten were about 170%. It works out to making about 3x what I started at 20 years ago, but engineering new grad salaries are pretty decent.

    77. De Minimis*

      If I go from beginning of 2010, my salary has gone up a lot, only because I was on unemployment from late 2009 to early 2011.

      But if I go back to the job I had prior to the Great Recession [laid off in mid-2009,] my salary has only gone up around 16%. Left private sector and moved into government, and then non-profit. Feel fortunate that my salary has gone up at all.

    78. Emily*

      + 64 %

      Still rather low, though. Was WAY underpaid then, but am still underpaid now (should be making ~ 30 % more, but that’s just an estimate).

      On the other hand, I’m not planning to stay in this job more than about 2-3 years longer.

    79. I'm that person*

      +165% (plus better benefits and annual stock grants) got laid off at the end of 2010, changed industries, got really lucky at the end of 2011 when I got recruited for a job that I would never have applied for, and then worked hard to keep that job. Even accounting for inflation I am making far more than I ever thought that I would make.

    80. A Person*

      333% – entry level job to low level director. Included 4 job searches / moves, most of them were climbing up the ladder.

      1. A Person*

        Oh and salaries in my field have also exploded this decade, so even at the entry levels I’d say things are up 50-60%.

    81. Miranda Wiggelsworth*

      ~75%, but that doesn’t show a much larger increase in buying power, as I moved from a high cost of living area to a lower cost of living area.

    82. Orange You Glad*

      ~53% I had just started my career mid-2009 and recession pay has been hard to bounce back from

    83. Jackers*

      In last 10 years, 208%. 225 if you factor in bonus potentials. And for funzies, 440% over past 20 years.

    84. Anona*

      +83% (from ~$32k to ~$59k).

      Full disclosure, in 2008 I had been making $39k, so if you compare it to that, it’s a 51% increase.

    85. Elitist Semicolon*

      +20%, but that’s only because I switched from a position with a 9-month workload/contract to a 12-month position.

    86. Glen*

      I was a stay at home parent at the beginning of 2010, because my wife made significantly more than me in less hours (nurse) and every dollar I earned would have been in the next tax bracket. With the cost of daycare and a second car I would have been paying about $300 a month to work, because twins…
      I did some gig stuff that added up to about $3000 a year, so I’m making thousands of percent more income now than I did then.
      I wouldn’t have traded the time I had with my daughters for the money I’m making now.

    87. lemon*

      About 205%, but mostly because I switched fields from customer service to website-related things.

    88. Indy Dem*

      What a great question. For me, I’m at 166% since 2010, but that’s not the whole story as I was at a non-profit, with no cost of living raises except once in 11 years. New job has better salary, better benefits (including a 401K contribution of up to 9% of salary – old job gave none), and a much better work environment. So it feels more like 1660%!

    89. LizIndeed*

      501%

      I was in college making minimum wage (around $8.50 which I know is high for the U.S. at the time) at a part time boutique. Aaaaand I realized I just calculated that salary based on full time hours, which I definitely didn’t work. I imagine in that case my increase might be more in the thousands. O_o Wow I didn’t think about this until now… crazy!

    90. Red5*

      ~67% increase since the beginning of 2010. Thanks for this question; it was fun to do the math and see how far it’s come.

    91. Eyes Wide Shut*

      I’ve been with the same company for 10 years, though my role has evolved over time and it wasn’t a straight trajectory. But, currently, I make 40% more than I did in 2010.

      1. LizzE*

        I forgot to add context: I was making an hourly wage of $17/hour, working 20 hours a week, in 2010.

    92. nonprofit director*

      My salary is exactly the same. I lost my consulting job in early 2011. I was not able to get back into the same field and ended up at a non-profit organization, where it took a few years to progress in terms of responsibility and pay. Benefits at the non-profit organization are much better, though, including a higher 401k match as well as a generous contribution to a health savings account, so total my compensation package is 13% higher.

    93. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Technically, 0%. Didn’t work in 2010 (still in school) and haven’t found a new position for 2020, yet. So 0->0 is more zero.

    94. DrRat*

      About 150%. I changed careers and initially took a huge pay cut but have made up for it the past few years. However, I also went from exempt to non exempt, so say hello to paid overtime and goodbye to excessive work hours with no extra pay. Overtime? Sure! Hand me that time and a half! However, pay doesn’t tell the whole story as I also now work full time remote so have a lot less in the way of expenses (and stress). I also get crazy PTO now. Job in 2010 was 15 paid days off and I think 6 holidays; current job is 24 days off and 8 holidays.

    95. Nonny*

      1111% I was just doing part time work in college at the time, now I have full time work.

      Honestly moving from my job last year to this one was a huge portion of that (salary went up almost 200%).

    96. apple*

      522%. I went from a nursing assistant in a low cost of living part of the country to Nurse Manager in a major metro in a high cost of living state. In the next 10 years, I don’t expect that rate of increase though! XD

    97. OccassionallyEngineer*

      I was a student in 2010, but from when I started my first real job in 2012 I have gone up ~ 68% on base salary if you include expected bonuses then I am up about 92%. This is over the course of 3 provinces and moving from an extremely rural area to downtown Toronto. I am in mining so I was living in the middle of nowhere and making decent $ for a brand new grad and now live in one of the highest COL areas in Canada but I have a decent salary to make up for it. I also managed to negotiate a 20% for myself about 3 months ago so that was huge morale booster.

    98. Stornry*

      about 10%. But then, I’m in the same government position/title/level I’ve had since 2000 (though in a different department). I was at the top of the pay scale by 2010 just as I am now. I have no complaints; I’ve been able to buy a house on my own as well as a newer car, so I’m good. And I will happily retire in a couple of years with a not large but comfortable pension.

    99. LQ*

      This is a really interesting question.
      Mine is up 43% (soon to be 48%). I took a big hit in 2011 when I was laid off and took a nearly 40% pay cut. It was a few years to claw my way back to level, and I’ve been ticking up since then at the same place. I’ve moved from individual contributor to senior manager in that time.

    100. NaoNao*

      240%. In early 2010 I had my BA but had just left my MA work (and would never return, as it turns out) for a full time job making 9$ hour plus commission. That’s 18k a year—before taxes. My rent was $450 a month and I would up leaving half way through 2010 to live with mom and help her clean out and update a previously child-occupied bedroom; and then found a job paying double that overseas, which lead to my career. I got really, really lucky in 2010 even though in January it didn’t feel like it!

    101. Chaordic One*

      +65%
      Now I’m back to where I was before the Great Recession. I sort of feel like the 2010s were a lost decade for me.

    102. Lilysparrow*

      Personally, infinity percent as I was SAHM at the time.
      Household income has changed around a lot, as we both went through job changes FT, PT, freelance.
      Overall we’re sitting now at 80% up from the beginning of 2011, which is the closest I can find handy. It’s been a bit higher and a bit lower than that in the meantime.

    103. Jemima Bond*

      Goodness me! You all seem to be doing so well! I went back and did the maths and prepare to be dazzled, folks.
      Context: I am a uk civil servant (government worker).
      Including the pay rise resulting from one promotion about a year ago, my pay now is about 21% higher than it was ten years ago. Before the promotion, so over the preceding 9 years, the uplift was 6%. Which is probably behind inflation! I checked year on year and my pay rose by 0% for two years and 1% or less for about five. I did a spreadsheet! I’m going on annual gross salary so not accounting for increased pension contributions. Also government work so no bonuses or monetary benefits beyond annual/sick leave.
      Lest you should all think I’m rubbish: in govt (certainly U.K.) you can’t negotiate a pay rise yourself within the role, you just get what everyone in your department gets (or doesn’t!) for the year. Which must be negotiated with the government, who are voted in by the people, who don’t see why civil servants should be paid decent money out of their taxes (that’s also why my pension contributions have gone up) But I assure you that what I do is not some superfluous bureaucracy but something that every one of you I hope would deem to be extremely important.

      Fortunately for society I enjoy my job and while I’ll never be rich, I’m ok, and I’ll always be a superhero!

    104. SoCal Kate*

      Down 4.6% if I just look at hourly rate, but my take home pay is down 18% per year because I work 36 hours a week instead of 40.

      I was hit really hard by the recession, and was unemployed for years.

  2. Anon4this*

    What has a workplace done that has made you rethink whether you wish to remain with them; either for the long haul or short term?

    Some of the reorganization ideas that are being floated make me leery about how successful we’re going to be.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I work as a security guard at a clients site. All guards have to go through a background check done by the client before being allowed on this site. We dont get told anything about the check beyond if someone passed or failed.

      Several months ago, the client suddenly kicked out one of the guards. I’ve been doing 60 hour weeks since then because all the replacements my employer puts forward are failing the background check.

      Until that happens, I’m stuck on this site. My career development is stalled. Unless I get a job elsewhere.

      I’m looking forward to the face of my supervisor when I give notice.

    2. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

      Ever changing deadlines. Everything is always due yesterday which is starting to burn out new hires

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I have mentioned that I am about to be transferred to a new department, which has nothing to do with my current work. I get on ok with the soon to be new boss, but only time will tell if things work out ok.

        Also, my company is paying for training for me, so if I should leave, then I will have to reimburse them. I am making sure I have the cash to be on the safe side.

        1. Sam Buca*

          The way I read this, you’re being transferred (not that you applied for the new gig), and they want you to potentially repay them for the training they are making you take? That seems out of whack.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Not quite. I am being moved from my current team into another one. I will still be doing my same role, but with a new boss who has no idea about it, and co-workers who don’t do anything related to my work.

            If everything goes horribly wrong and I need to get a new job, then I would have to reimburse the company for the training. It was my idea to take the training as it would be beneficial to the work I do, and it took a bit of toing and froing to get said training approved and paid for.

            1. Cats and Dogs*

              You should stipulate a short time line in which you’d have to pay them back. For example after a year would be ridiculous

      1. akiwiinlondon*

        +1
        an old job used to tout the benefit of a lack of layers to senior management – if the company is big enough this isn’t a good thing, it means there is a lack of opportunity for advancement unless there is high turnover in senior roles (which would be another problem).

        It can be good in a small company if you do actually get face time with those senior leaders and create new opportunities for your development – but a big company that’s flat, those people are too busy for you.

    3. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Where ideas are implemented, but not given time to take root before deciding they were a success or failure.
      Recent (anecdotal, coz it was in a different building to me) example – Manager implemented a project to reduce ticket volume by changing the triage process. Manager told everyone up and down the chain (all the way to CEO) that due to the cyclical nature of some tickets, progress (or otherwise) could only be shown after six months. December was month 6. Manager had been let go in October because “it doesn’t look like it’s working”

      (note – this is probably the seventh? such project start and fallout I’ve witnessed in the last five or six years. My department keeps getting overlooked when it comes to “improvement projects” so I’ve been unaffected so far. As long as the company is financially stable, so is my job, so I’m not actively looking. Yet.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Keep your resume up to date just in case. Your C-level sounds impulsive, and that’s rarely good for business.

    4. Anony Shark*

      Lack of appreciation and overly harsh or vague criticisms. I work hard and it’s incredibly disheartening when my good results are totally ignored….but if I make a mistake the proverbial hits the fan.

      Now I make a point of saying thank you for specific things to my direct reports. It seems like a small thing but I believe it makes a huge difference to morale.

    5. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I was part time and couldn’t complete my work in the time, so asked to add a day a week to match capacity-demand to -supply. I was firmly told the c-suite had rejected my request as having no business case. I realised I had been mom-tracked, and that realisation was made concrete by their handling of my hospitalisation for miscarriage very shortly afterwards.

      I had been warned six years before that they didn’t support mothers at all well, but I hadn’t believed it. I should have been more observant. They did it to *everyone*.

    6. Cleopatra*

      – Lack of work to do (the proof is that I have been surfing on AAM for an hour and a half). I don’t even know why they opened my current position a year ago (!)
      – Company’s culture. I never felt at home here. At the beginning, I thought it was just the transition. But today I know that it is NOT the transition, and that the culture here is not a fit for me
      – Sneaky colleagues (and excrutiatingly boring). This alone would not have pushed me to seek other opportunities, should the first two points above not happen
      – Lack of communication with management and coworkers
      – I was told certain things in the job interview last year (such as possibilities to work from aborad etc.), which, of course, I discovered to be untrue

      I started looking for a new job a month ago, and I found one :) I will be resigning by mid January.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Good for you! Congratulations! I too left a job last year after 17 long, excruciating months of having very little to do on a regular basis – I have no earthly clue why they hired me, but it was a waste of time for all of us. I landed somewhere much better in May of ‘19, and I actually have just the right amount of work to do most days – a far cry from any of my previous roles (most of my positions, I was overworked and underpaid).

      2. Laney Boggs*

        This!! I’m so bored. I think if they implemented any *smart* changes they could halve my department. Training was nonexistent.
        I’m 6 months here this month, and over a year with the company, so I’m starting a job search soon.

    7. Also anoning*

      Made me rethink in a good way.

      When I had a non-work related injury that meant I couldn’t work for two months, they gave me 100% paid medical leave, even though I did not have that as a benefit.

      That’s how you get a loyal employee.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That’s awesome. I wouldn’t leave a company like that unless they were about to go bankrupt or were engaging in illegal activities.

    8. Lena Clare*

      High staff turnover, limit pay raises (if any), ridiculous “we are family” and “you’re expected to volunteer extra hours” culture, and refusal to fire poor performers or bullies.

    9. AL (the other one)*

      That sounds familiar, my company is making some weird changes at the moment.
      We’re currently is the phase of extreme cost cutting in order to fund new tech changes but it has gone to such an extreme that it’s really having a lot of negative impact both physically (we’re joking about whether there’ll be toilet rolls next week) and mentally (fear of failure stifling new growth opportunity).

      Feels like it’s gone too far this time round…

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Headcount reduction by attrition not by logic, so overwhelmed departments get worse. Especially when this is combined with low raises for staff and high bonuses for executives.
      Eliminated long-standing work from home policies instead of defining what it means to do it right & managing the few groups & individuals who were abusing it.
      Gung-ho application of new management trends to a point that it interferes with actual deliverables…. then dropped quietly, wait 6 months, repeat. And again.
      Cutting headcount in one place, assigning the work to another place that ALSO got cut, but still holding them to turnaround times for their lower workload & higher staffing level. Giving the group no authority to rearrange deliverables or turn down projects, and no acceptance of errors & quality reduction due to the above.
      Changing benefits with contradictory rollout info and the published help desk hasn’t been told yet that anything is changing.

    11. girl friday*

      The company I recently left had a president ousted, still hasn’t got a new one, rumors flying that they’ll be in the red by next year, rumors flying that they have to borrow to make payroll, departmental budgets being cut, rumors they’re being taken over by a competitor, a canceled major construction project (that no one was allowed to talk about), a very potentially disruptive major construction project that is allegedly still happening but has been mysteriously held up for months, and they also can’t seem to keep anyone on as janitors.

      After 2 years of this with no lights at the end of the tunnel, I couldn’t take it any more.

    12. Internal combustion llamas and accessories*

      We were acquired by another larger (although not that much larger) company in a similar but not quite the same field. Since the teapot and llama thing has been done to death, let’s say the new company produces jet engines and our company produces motorcycle and lawnmower engines. Similar concept, internal combustion engines, but the supply chains are different, the expertise is different, the staffing levels are different, etc.

      Since the acquisition, the jet engine company has gotten rid of almost all the senior leadership from our small engine division and tried to integrate us fully into the company, but the new company doesn’t really have anybody who knows how to operate the small engine department, and it’s been hectic. There’s been lots of promotion opportunity for lots of people, but it’s been a couple of years and still isn’t smooth.

      I’ve ridden it out so far, but something more stable would be nice.

      Not to mention, my new boss gets salty if I don’t check email during PTO and on weekends (and not critical items, just run of the mill communication), and doesn’t like if we use all 4 weeks of our PTO, while my old boss had a pretty healthy respect for work/life balance and encouraged everybody to use all their vacation. I used to only take 2-3 weeks of PTO, but now I make sure to use every single hour of it.

    13. CL Cox*

      I have a new boss who is a micromanager. I would probably be fine with it, but they have too many balls in the air and things are getting dropped. They used to be in the same role at a different location, but it’s been several years since then and things (especially financials) are handled very differently now. It’s falling on me to try to explain to them why something they want to do isn’t allowed any more. And then they want me to verify that information with someone else. I also have to run any site-wide communications by them before sending out, and they are not great about responding to emails, so things aren’t going out that staff needs to know about (pre-holiday deadlines, new reibursement rules, etc.) It’s taking several extra steps to get my job done. I have discovered I much prefer to work for someone who lets me handle all the administrative stuff and trusts me to inform them when they need to know something. I’ve been doing this work for 35+ years now, and I’m good at it, I really want to be respected for my knowledge and skills.

    14. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      A toxic manager and a power structure that won’t deal with it, adding more and more work while taking away resources and not adding to salary or authority, and a better job falling in my lap.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Odd, but I can’t think of too many places where I wished I had stayed because of the changes in the place. I think that is because the changes were too little, too late? Not sure.

      I do know that of the places I stayed at for long periods of time, the changes over that approximate 10 years were such that my job changed radically. It was no where near what it was when I first started the job. I think what helped me out the door was that it just plain took too long to make changes, even urgently needed changes.

      At my current job, it’s just me and my boss. She allows me lots of space for implementing my own ideas. We talk it over, of course, and she makes the final tweaks before the idea goes live. So my problem here is just having the time to get the change up and running.

    16. The Rat-Catcher*

      My department is also undergoing a reorg…maybe. The reorg will impact almost everything about my job and our director just left, meaning the conversation might have to start all over again. I’m definitely looking at other options more than ever.

    17. Long-time AMA Lurker*

      – Cut competitive benefits that attracted me in the first place
      – Constantly reorganized my group (6 or 7 times in 4 years)
      – Put pressure on us to find more work without helping us do so
      – Lost star players who would have been amazing mentors

      1. Automated*

        Yes to number 1. That happened to me at one org. I took a 5% pay cut because the “total compensation” package was great. Three of the amazing benefits that attracted me was an onsite massage therapist, a free personal trainer, and a staff of nutritionist for employees and their families.

        That all got cut the first week I started.

        Even then i probably would have stayed, but they negotiated my salary down 5% citing these benefits and you know they knew they were cutting them.

        I saw that as operating in bad faith and left.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I don’t blame you – they did, and I can only imagine what other shady stuff they would have also tried to pull on you if you hadn’t left.

    18. Anon for this comment*

      I really like 95% of the large firm of people I work with, so if it was just the team it would be really great and if some of these folks were in management it would be better too. Things they have done that have de-motivated me though are favouritism, vague guidance ‘why can’t you just do this?’ paired with ‘that is not how we do things’ and ‘just figure it out’ paired with ‘we don’t say that or do that or use that tool’ that is changed literally in a month, or as I discovered…we do in fact use that tool and now we do that thing. And turnover that is difficult to manage, as in one role in less than 2 years there have been 4 people in the role – all of whom left after short 3-6 month periods because of the chaotic direction. Remember the post on the daily therapy – it’s not like that, but there is an unwritten rule that if you don’t state, when asked, that you are happy and positive…you are ‘clearly a problem.’ Sorry, but I am glad it is Friday as I need a couple of days off.

    19. hbc*

      A general rewarding of assertive and confident people over those who were right. Lots of disfunction before that, but the tipping point was realizing that people who were confidant and wrong (“We purchased what we were supposed to, the internal sales team didn’t send it out”) were getting promoted while the people who were nuanced and thoughtful (“Our procedure is to ship those when they arrive, but let me check what happened with that order”) were getting pushed down or aside.

      There were really good intentions at the top level, but those good intentions led them to believe things they shouldn’t have believed. Couldn’t get out of there fast enough as the blame started flying.

    20. WineNot*

      Everyone at my job complains. All the time. When I ask how someone’s doing in the morning, multiple people say anything from “Well, I’m here aren’t I?” to “At least I’m not 6 feet under…yet”. The people I work with all live to work and I just can’t stand the negative mentality around the office. They are all very nice but I don’t want to be sitting here in 30 years with 10 vacation days (another thing that tells me I’m in this short term) complaining about how terrible life is.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Do you work at my last job? Seriously – my boss and her right hand used to do this, and complain about their actual assignments, all day long. It was highly annoying especially since I came from a much higher-stress, faster paced environment prior to that one, and I couldn’t understand why the hell they were always working so late and so hard to do very simple stuff.

    21. Professional Merchandiser*

      Same company. I ended the year with 22 hours PTO on the books, and it’s…gone. They have always had a policy of use it or lose it, but I was assured by my supervisor that the “unwritten” policy was that you could carry over 40 hours, but that you wouldn’t accrue any more while it was in there. I had checked with her in November to see if I needed to burn this time and she told me this. When I was part-time and not getting holiday pay I would save some of my PTO for holidays, but I was reinstated to full-time in October so didn’t need to use it for that.
      I don’t blame her, she had checked with HR and that’s what she was told. But if they don’t make this whole, I may leave. Lesson learned: don’t trust unwritten policies.

      1. Not a cat*

        This! I was with a company that was looking for PE. So, they zero’d out all the PTO because it made the books look better. (I had 30 days) I am in Cali and this is illegal (considered earned income). When I complained, I was told that “accounting was tracking it…” A month later, when I left, I was not paid for my PTO (also illegal in California).

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          Looking for PE = Trying to reduce their stock price/earnings ratio?

          Or something else?

        2. DrRat*

          I hope you are fighting this. In CA, they will be ordered to pay you for that PTO – and that’s 6 weeks salary!

      2. WineNot*

        Ugh that is so frustrating! With something as precious as vacation days, I’m sure you would have planned things differently had you known it wasn’t going to happen.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        I’m watching my vacation bank at my new job very closely since this is my fear (even though our rollover policy is actually written) – I will be deeply upset to lose my remaining five days from 2019 (though I’m pretty sure my manager would just let me take them anyway since the days would be paid out whether I’m working or out on leave).

    22. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Reorganizing the company structure annually.

      It’s good to shake things up every now and then and rethink structures, but the annual shuffling of managers, departments, reporting chains, and clustering wound up creating a lot of confusion and messing up opportunities for advancement.

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

      I worked as an admin assistant at a financial firm, which mainly did retirement planning. A big philosophy there was that we were helping families achieve financial goals. Cool, whatever.

      We were asked to give our boss a family picture ahead of our team retreat. I’m single with no children so I submitted a picture of me, my parents, siblings and nieces/nephews and forgot about it.

      At the retreat, there was a slideshow of everyone’s pics and afterwards my boss said, “I showed you this altogether so you would remember why you come to work everyday.” I was the only single, childless team member and obviously what Boss said didn’t apply to me. I totally felt Other after that.

      1. StellaBella*

        Oooof, I am so sorry. That is terrible. As a child-free person who is also single, this would hurt. Big hugs of you want them.

    24. Leela*

      I haven’t read the comments so sorry if this is a repeat, but policies handed down that really harm your team with no right to talk it over or push back against it, from people who don’t understand the impact of the decisions they’re making.

      Having what I’m being told I have to do and what I’m being incentivized to do be massively out of sync.

    25. Amber Rose*

      On the flip side, a bunch of recent reorg at my company has made me reconsider wanting to leave. They fired a bunch of useless management types and are setting financial goals to keep us afloat if we hit rough times.

      Previously, the handling of a scandal involving a large amount of money had me considering fleeing for the hills, and prior to that, being lectured for wanting to use my sick days to cover a surgery. :/

      1. Dancing Otter*

        What, you’re supposed to take your laptop into the operating room with you?
        Trust me, the work I tried to do while on hydrocodone after surgery was /not/ well done. Retrograde motion, if anything.

    26. DiscoUkraine!*

      I currently work in healthcare. My workplace recently changed HR Solution vendors (apparently the Three Letter vendor that also now does our payroll was cheaper) and terminated our health insurance (named after a color) in favor of two mediocre choices – one being a “Klosed system” and another one that actually lets you keep going to your existing providers, but pay more to do so.

      All this to say – the last time I saw this exact scenario go down, I worked in subprime mortgage. The C level went on and on about how well the company was doing and how much money they’d made with their “strategic cost-saving moves”.

      The mass layoffs started about 8 months later, the same day all the copiers and fax machines were repo’d.

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Three Letter Payroll Vendor is the absolute WORST. The last place I worked that used them, about three times a year, everyone’s paychecks would be Mysteriously Wrong (in the company’s favor, of course) so you had to watch them like a hawk or you’d just be out hundreds of dollars.

    27. Cap. Marvel*

      I’m seriously considering leaving once we move buildings. Our CEO wants us to transition from almost everyone having a private office to an open concept space to encourage “more employee interaction.” I’m not completely convinced that will work (given the culture we have now) and honestly not excited about having even less privacy than I do now.
      But I like my team well enough so maybe I’ll see if I can live with it.

      1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

        The metric said it works! Look at all this interaction*!

        *the interaction is naturally, physically unavoidable and is certainly hurting productivity >.>

    28. Llama Wrangler*

      This just happened, so I’m waiting to see how it all shakes out, but I helped write a grant for our understaffed team for 50% of a position, and when we got the grant, the big boss decided instead to use the money to fund a current position (reallocating the money that was currently funding the position to other teams) and ask current employees to take on the new projects.

      Big boss doesn’t seem to think this is worthy of comment but I’m not willing to work long term at a place that (a) chronically under-staffs my area of work and (b) doesn’t think anything of this kind of funding bait and switch.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        I used to do accounting for Grants & Contracts. That may violate the terms of the grant. I know you helped write the grant proposal, but have you read the fine print of the final version?

      2. Red Fraggle*

        Uhhhh, yeah, no, that does not bode well. In my experience, grants that cover salary funding at all generally have pretty clear language about that money supporting a NEW hire or a CURRENT position.

        Your only hope is that this grant somehow magically doesn’t require a final report documenting how the money was spent. If there needs to be a report, then the next thing big boss is going to do is falsify documents and/or the grant organization is going to come after y’all hard. (And I suspect big boss will throw underlings under the nearest convenient bus.) I hope you escape!

    29. Anon For This*

      My department had one floor of single offices out of a 3 or 4 floor building. Everyone had a master key to the floor so they could get into their office, the copy room, the room the printer was in, the conference room, the classroom, the break room, etc. It also meant you could go into someone else’s office, but why would you? No one reported that this ever happened.

      I started with 2 others. The new department head didn’t like the idea of the master key, so he wouldn’t let us new people have them, but he didn’t get rid of them either. So I could open my office but couldn’t get in to any of the other rooms I needed to do my job. There were students working on the floor who had the key, but the new professors didn’t! I had to make a big stink to get multiple keys, but even then he wouldn’t give me all the ones I needed.

      This was just the beginning of the ridiculous stuff by this guy. Another example: I had a PhD class that met once a week and had 3 students. One had a long commute, so she asked if we could move the class to another day. The 2nd student said that was better for her too. It was also better for me, since I had a long late night class and then this class early the next morning, but I don’t think I told them that. The 3rd student said he didn’t care, and I asked him alone in case he was uncomfortable saying he didn’t want to. The department chair wouldn’t let me move it. He said the 3rd student didn’t want to, but I later found out that was a lie.

      1. Anon For This*

        To clarify: People did sometimes go into each other’s offices, with permission, to drop something off or pick something up. But nobody ever reported anything bad happening.

    30. Arjay*

      Our company announced it was going to recognize MLK day as a company holiday. Then a very large department told its staff that they couldn’t have the holiday off due to workload. There is some validity to this as the workload doesn’t decrease the way it does for, say, Memorial Day, but the optics and the message are just so bad. If we truly value inclusion and diversity, we should put our money where our mouth is.

      1. LizzE*

        Yeah, this is unfortunately common where I work. Our current CEO started 2 years ago and advocated a new policy to close the office during winter break — we “closed” December 23-January 1 this past holiday season. But, the problem is that finance, IT, administration (particularly the facilities manager and the receptionist) and members of our fundraising team can’t take off during this time because our company is in philanthropic services, and donors are notorious for feeling charitable the last quarter of the year (especially Christmas and New Year’s). So basically, 1/3 of staff have to come in during even though the office is declared “closed” for business.

    31. Moth*

      At a company-wide meeting about a year ago, the CEO stood on stage and said how proud he was of the company that the strategic plan we had set the quarter before was still the current strategic plan. Not realistic proud that changes were being made to the culture of impulsivity, but sincerely proud that three months of not changing direction was a big accomplishment, right?! Needless to say, a year out, none of that strategic plan exists anymore. I’ve tried to write a 5-year plan for the team I lead and I always get a lot of support from management on doing that, but zero support on executing it. The lack of clear direction or consistency is exhausting.

    32. Zephy*

      I was only at this job for about 6 weeks, but something that gave me pause right away was how the owner chose to handle the weekly schedule. She would send it out on Friday afternoons, for a schedule that ran Saturday to the following Friday. The Saturday shift was a half-day and only two people had any given Saturday scheduled, and to avoid overtime the people scheduled for Saturday would come in late and work a half-day at some other point in the following week, which was also never consistent. Making weekend plans or doctor’s appointments was tricky, because I wouldn’t know until 3 PM Friday if I was available before 1 PM the following day, or which morning I would have off the following week, if any. The only consistent thing was that the office was closed on Sundays.

      I asked if there was any sort of pattern, like do Jane and Sally generally get the first and third Saturdays and Tangerina and Nanette get the second and fourth, or if it was possible to have a preferred morning off. Nobody could give me a straight answer. That really should have been my first clue that it was a bad fit, because it turned out nobody could give me a straight answer about anything – general workflow, where can I find X, what is the procedure for Y, all (IMO) reasonable questions for a new hire to ask. I would think I understood something, and then the next time I tried to do a thing, either I’d be wrong or it would be a special case.

    33. Mama Bear*

      Merger with a company where the policies were very different.
      Changing management without being transparent about it. Choosing a manager that was a poor fit for the team.
      Firing people unexpectedly or in a way that made everyone else feel like there was a Sword of Damocles over their heads.
      Consistently doing more with less (materials and people).
      Not offer room for advancement/career growth.

    34. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      1. I have two bosses
      2. They are married to each other
      3. One of them refuses to complete performance reviews for me (because, as I have found out, HR does not know that I am split between the two bosses)
      …among a myriad of other concerns (cries in academia).

    35. Snarkononymous*

      New CEO decided to make her mark so we:

      Spent tens of thousands of dollars on new software that didn’t meet our needs. Turned into a meat grinder for front line staff who were leaving in droves over the stress of not being able to help customers, which was their entire job. We have since spent tens of thousands of dollars to customize the new software to our needs. After 3 years and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars in programming and training, we are ‘celebrating’ that it now is almost on par with the old software.

      Ditto with meeting with big donors. New CEO was so off-putting donations dropped by 50% in her first year. We are, again, celebrating that after 3 years we have crawled but to almost the donation level where we were when she started. To wit: We’re celebrating a 90% increase in level of donations since the end of her first year with us. No one is allowed to mention the fact we’re still lower than before she was hired. The few people who have pointed it out have all been let go within a month or so of speaking out about it.

      Lastly, CEO imparts that we must cut back expenses, find savings everywhere, etc. Department managers are fired for failing to find enough savings in their areas. Like, how much can we actually cut back on toilet paper costs before customers complain about the lack of it? Seriously. In the midst of this, the CEO authorizes budget overages to put $10K in new furniture into her office and an additional $250K in objets d’art. So, we have no money, everything has to be trimmed to the bone, but then we have all this extra money for decorations? This came out in the same week as the announcement that there was no money for raises or staff bonuses, unlike the prior 20 years.

      The CEO, CFO, Board Chair, and the Controller are all long time personal friends (for decades), so there’s no oversight. All of the people above are now pushing for staff to under go ‘Integrity Training’ because they feel the culture problems are due to low level staff failing to do their work ‘with integrity’. Yeah, sure, you first.

      Up until this CEO, I would have planned to work here for a very long time. Now, nope. Just nope.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I worked at a law firm that did something very similar – claimed there was no money to give us raises (and we were working 60-80 weeks as non-attorney staff for years, not months or weeks), but then had our building renovated. So we were basically less important than new carpet – got it. I was gone seven months after reno began on my floor.

        2. DrRat*

          I remember a Dave Barry book where he mentioned that a Miami city commissioner spent over $110,000 redecorating her office on the taxpayer’s dime – and I think that was back in the 1980’s. Her comment to the reporter who checked on the story was, “There’s not one item that really stands out. It’s not the Taj Mahal.”

    36. Heat's Kitchen*

      Lack of a clear vision.
      Multiple sales (4 different owners in one year).
      Realizing they play favorites with promotions (not necessarily the best person for the job).

    37. Free Meercats*

      This was in the early 90s, when cell phones were rare and expensive. I worked for a county, mostly alone, out in the field, sometimes in remote areas. I suggested that I have some sort of communication device; like a radio that would use the system the rest of Public Works used, but was told it “wasn’t in the budget or necessary for my job, I should just find a pay phone.” Mentioning that there were no pay phones in the woods got no traction.

      Then one day, the predicted light snow showers ended up being 2 feet of heavy, wet snow. I was out in a river valley, driving a full-size, crew cab, long bed 2-wheel drive pickup truck with highway tires. It started snowing about 3 PM, so I bugged out, got stuck multiple times, and it took me until midnight to get back to the office. Once I got out of the valley and on the road, there was no way I was going to try to find a pay phone and get stuck again. Of course, by that time, my wife was in panic mode and the only phone numbers she had were the office and the Director, so she called him about 10. He called my boss, who had no idea where I was. When I got back to the office, I called my wife, then my boss, then made my way home; got there about 2AM.

      The next day, when he finally made it in, my boss wrote me up for failing to let them know where I was and putting in 8 hours of unapproved overtime. I was gone within 6 months to the job I’m still in.

    38. Anon for this*

      – We are moving in the Spring and have yet to decide where. One choice would add 20 minutes to an already :45 – 1:15 commute, that I really cannot handle.
      – Attributing success to departments that had nothing to do with the success because that person works closely with the CEO (they really have blinders on sometimes)
      – No retirement, stock options, or really anything other than health insurance (which is great)
      – Same annual bonuses for everyone
      – No really strategy, direction, or acknowledgement from the CEO when we succeed. There is no accountability from the top.
      – Very poor maternity/paternity leave policy. I don’t think I can handle having another child here.

      That being said, I do like a lot of things about this job – I’m basically given free reign and I love my immediate boss. I just think I’ll outgrow this within the year (but I want to finish a few major initiatives first).

    39. Drax*

      Main things for me have been two things

      1.we went through a major warehouse transition in less then two weeks due to circumstances out of our control. it was fine and dandy, I had no issues stepping in UNTIL my boss said “this is why we hired you, with your operations experience”. Um. I took a major pay cut for an entry level job in a completely different industry

      2. all of my bosses keep joking how I’ve been here for years and how I’m part of the family. I can’t explain why that just turned me off this company completely, but it did. I’ve worked here for 4 months.

      They also concealed a ton of turnover from us. They said it was a growth period, always been a small team everyone’s been here for years. Well, the forgot to mention that pretty much every other person hired in the last two years has left – and we’re talking 12+ people.

      1. Drax*

        sorry to clarify – I made a career switch out of Ops into data entry job (so not Ops related at all)

    40. Cartographical*

      Personal, indicating systemic issues: Hired a manager’s child-in-law over me bc “they’ll work better together bc they’re family”. (Me: Casual job search activated.)

      Systemic, creating personal issues: Bought out a major competitor in a region with a very different internal (and external) culture* and supported “merging work cultures” to accommodate the new group — to the detriment of the progressive work culture previously in place. *e.g. disapproving of “religious indicators” (hijab/turbans/kippah/etc.) in the workplace, monolingual, “traditional” (read: not queer/trans-friendly) values, minimal work/life balance… the cherry on top: high value on “aggressive” (synonymous with “male”) interaction which promptly degraded previously excellent working relationships with outside agencies. (Me: Immediate exit plan activated.)

    41. not saying*

      I left a job about a month ago. There were a few major factors –
      1 – The program I had previously worked in was terminated for budgetary reasons, and I was transferred to a different program, which I’d “helped out” before part-time; the program I was transferred to served a different population of clients with which I am not as experienced/skilled at serving as the first program.

      2 – Upper leadership changed. Our much beloved executive director retired, and we got a new executive director as well as a new person in a director position which had been vacant for the previous year. Both seemed more interested in the bottom line than safety of staff and clients, quality of services, and how thinly you can stretch your staff before they start resigning en masse. (Did I mention this was in social services/special education.) They accepted several very high-need clients at a time when we were already understaffed and had a number of brand new staff, and then seemed to lay the blame on the staff on the ground when that didn’t go well.

      so yeah, there was a mass exodus. It sucked, because there were things about that job and that workplace that I really loved, but the new program honestly would never have been a good fit for me, and we just didn’t have the support we needed from above.

    42. Middle Manager*

      Echoing some of the above
      -Constant cycles of strategic plans that are never seen through when senior management staff changes
      -Reorg plans that inevitably fall through part way and leave the org chart an unmitigated disaster
      -Avoidance rather than addressing problem employees (no accountability/micromanaging everyone down to the lowest common denominator of bad employee who should be fired)

      Sadly, I’m still here, but it’s become increasingly clear to me that we’re not going to fix these problems and I should get out. I’m actively looking.

    43. De Minimis*

      At my current job it’s obvious to me that they probably don’t need both my job and my manager’s job [currently vacant but about to be filled.] My job is newly created and I don’t think there was a real plan for how I was ultimately going to fit. A lot of it seems based on expansion plans that have stalled, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not. Things have been good these last few months as far as being able to get things done and feeling utilized at work, only because I’ve been doing a lot of the work that my manager was doing [she was fired about six months after I started, I’ve posted a bit about that in some of the open threads.] I’m waiting to see what happens with the new manager, but have applied to a job that I think would be great for me and am looking at other opportunities. I’d originally planned on staying long term, now I’m not even sure I’ll make it a year.

    44. Piano Girl*

      My old workplace made a big deal about how they were going to upgrade the office – new paint, $55k in new carpeting, a full lobby re-design. We just had to move offices into a smaller space. After all the renovations, which only affected those in the bigger offices, we were told they had run out of budget to paint the rest of the offices (including mine). Thank heavens they had enough money to buy useless decorations for the lobby and WAY too many pictures of completed projects! That was shortly followed by a 1% raise and more defaulting on promises they had made. Not long afterwards, I was laid off. My last paycheck shorted me by two days (who works their last day? I did.). Finally they admitted their error and I enjoyed a pretty decent severance package.
      I had loved working there for nine years. Their treatment of me broke my heart.

    45. Lora*

      Seriously, the #1 thing for most jobs that I’ve bailed on: new boss was not great. In a couple of memorable cases, a new boss every few months over multiple years, which was just insane because literally nobody ever really knew what I was doing, what I was supposed to be doing, or whether I was doing it right. A job I stayed at for two years had six bosses in that time. Another where I stayed a year had three bosses and according to my friends who are still there, is still churning through bosses and re-org’ing every few months. One especially awful job had only two bosses in a year, but the second boss was nightmare fuel and resulted in 100% turnover in the department. I do my due diligence, find out who I will be working with and decide whether or not I want to work with that person long term…and then within a ridiculously short time, the company re-orgs or hires someone new or whatever and it’s somehow the absolute polar opposite of the person I liked and wanted to work with. In many cases it’s not even that they wanted a different approach for that role, because they’ll move my now-ex-boss to a similar role in the end, just at a different location or something, and the dude they bring in to replace him is the exact opposite in every meaningful way.

      In CurrentJob, my previous boss had many decades of experience at huge important companies recognized for their quality, and was very hands on, involved every day and checked in frequently, was always available for questions. New boss….well, about once a month he IMs me back, and he doesn’t have much more experience than I do, nearly all of it at CurrentJob.

    46. GS*

      Administratively merged our high-production low-cost long-tenure site (most people had been there 20 years) with a low-production, high-cost, high-turnover site (no one had been there more than 5 years) hoping our site would improve the functioning of the other site. Told to “just sort out” reporting structure, and not given additional support to make up for their nonexistent data management or legal compliance practices. Meanwhile our production targets were doubled, then cut and our budget was zeroed within a production season.

      While my field does involve pivoting relatively fast, I saw a lot of my work discarded repeatedly with little acknowledgement of its worth, then asked to be redone on shorter and shorter timelines while the issues with the other site went unaddressed.

      It’s good that I started job hunting, because I (along with most folks) was laid off 3 months later and was able to walk out of the layoff meeting and accept an offer.

    47. Brownie*

      At a former job: Being told that as an IT jack-of-all-trades if I really wanted to help the startup grow I should be doing the marketing work of finding and investigating places where we could sell our software in addition to my sole-IT person duties. Oh, then there was the 24/365 unpaid on-call work and the no paid overtime holiday work justified by “You’re single and don’t have a family, so it’s fine that you work on Christmas Day when none of our clients are in the office to be impacted.” (I found out after I left how many labor laws that company was breaking. They don’t exist anymore due to their bad management.)

      There’s a form of reorg going on at my current job where management is looking at splitting IT Ops from “we support it all” into software specific Agile/Scrum teams with the software folks. If that happens I’ll be looking for a new job since that means I’m not just on call 24/365 again, but I’ll be pigeonholed in such a way that I’ll have no room to grow my IT skills and will quickly become noncompetitive in the wider job market due to skills obsolescence should I want to leave later on.

    48. Dancing Otter*

      A bounced paycheck. No second chances. If they can’t make payroll, I’m job hunting ASAP. If they don’t cover it within 2 business days, or if they do it twice, I’m quitting for cause and taking it up with unemployment and the department of labor.
      Not being paid is legitimate grounds for quitting, so I believe I would qualify for unemployment benefits. Even if not, how is not getting paid for not working any worse than working and still not getting paid?

    49. Stornry*

      Change in department head. I like the new one so much better than the former – much more comfortable atmosphere and he has demonstrated that he trusts me and my judgement. For that, I’m willing to delay retirement another year until he and other new Administrators come on board so I don’t leave the department without an HR rep. :-)

    50. DrRat*

      Thinking back on companies that I should have fled like a rat from a ship that was not only sinking, but also simultaneously on fire and infected with plague, these are the worst situations:
      1. Management that makes drastic and dreadful changes without consulting the employees who actually do the day to day work. They also do not want to hear any negative comments on their terrible decisions.
      2. A company that makes promises that they never seem to quite follow through on. The day you quit, they are still insisting they will make that promise come true any day now. When you check with your former coworkers five years later, the company is still making the same promises.
      3. A high rate of turnover. As they say, if you can keep your head when all those around you are losing theirs – it’s just possible you don’t understand the situation.
      4. Managers feel free to criticize employees because it’s “feedback” but any constructive feedback from employees to management is considered insubordination.
      5. Nepotism. If there are under 100 employees and anyone in the company is related to anyone else, get the hell out.
      6. No attempt is made to keep excellent employees. All the good people go somewhere else.
      7. Spending priorities are completely skewed (see the decorating examples above.) If the CEO is making a fortune but the employees who hold the place together haven’t gotten a raise in years, bail. Bail now.
      8. Managers who refuse to manage because they hate confrontation.
      9. Companies that don’t know how, when, or who to fire. This can be a company that refuses to fire lazy, abusive employees that everyone hates, or the company that fires excellent people at the drop of the hat on a whim.
      10. When they are cutting employee benefits, polish up your resume. Things will only go downhill from there.
      11. Business practices range from the unethical to the actually illegal.
      12. Much like feces, craziness travels downhill. If the CEO is completely nuts, the rest of the company will be, too.
      13. When different departments in the same company are constantly warring with each other, it’s never a healthy sign.
      14. If your significant other is always saying you should quit, he or she is seeing the dysfunction that you no longer see because you have gotten too used to it.

      I used to consider myself pretty much married to my job – I was totally committed and would put up with a tremendous amount of crap because I’m in this for the long haul, right? Now I consider myself to be in a Tinder relationship with my job – if it works out, great. If it doesn’t work out, I’m not here to fix the broken, and I’m moving on to the next prospect.

    51. Rhymetime*

      I worked in the national headquarters of a nonprofit that had a terrific culture of respect and teamwork with caring and inspiring leadership. When a key leader who had built this successful team over several years left for a different job, the CEO and executive team hired someone who was disrespectful, focused only themself, didn’t solicit feedback or listen to ideas, and didn’t even really understand the organization’s mission. Many of us started talking to each other about looking for other jobs. Because we all had skill sets in fundraising and finance that were in high demand in our region, that’s what we did. I was the first to leave. Within about six months, about half of the staff in the national headquarters had departed.

      There was ultimately a good outcome to all of this. The board of directors noticed how many good employees were leaving. They ended up doing a clean sweep of senior management, including the CEO. They recreated the culture that many of has had been drawn to in the first place, and in fact were able to convince the CFO who had left to return. The place is once again a great place to work. I’m impressed with how the board responded.

    52. MissDisplaced*

      For me currently it’s been the sense of the employer and these open offices + a reduction of the flexibility to work from home.
      Employers KNOW the employees hate open offices and then still force their workers into them anyway. This is pretty much an immediate turnoff for me and makes me start looking elsewhere.

  3. Long break relief*

    General question – is everyone back at work yet? I’m not back until Monday, and it has been such a wonderful break (not in US, min 20 days annual leave + public holidays by law). But boy was it weird to have Christmas on a Wednesday.

    Hope the new year brings exactly what you want / need in your professional lives.

    1. CastIrony*

      One of my jobs has me coming back on the 12th. My other job is one where I’ve had weekend days off, but I’ve been steadily working most days.

    2. Cinnamon*

      I’m back on Monday. The office opened today but I had to change travel plans so I took today and tomorrow off.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We’re all back mostly. A couple took extended holiday pto but most only took a Christmas to NY.

        1. I'm that person*

          I went back yesterday as well but the rest of my group took yesterday and today off so I have been all alone. There are other people on my floor, maybe 10% are here.

    4. Budgie Buddy*

      Back since Dec 26, with Jan 1 off. But I work at a weekly paper so it needs to go out even over the holidays.

    5. NeverNicky*

      I “went back” yesterday (I work from home remotely) but a lot of our organisation and suppliers are out until Monday.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I went back yesterday as well and work remotely, and my manager and counterpart both worked the last two weeks except for the actual holidays (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Day).

    6. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      Was back at work yesterday, having worked Christmas Eve, and some “cover” work 27th, 30th (half day) and 31st.
      I’m not in a support role, there was no need for me to work. One of the managers just had a hissy fit that work was going to be a week behind when we re-started in January (as it has always been, and has always been accounted for in budgets/Gaant charts etc. for the last decade! Manager has been with us for eight months; I don’t anticipate him being with us in another eight)

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This could also serve as an answer to the previous question about why people decide to leave!

    7. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

      Back yesterday, we basically shut down completely from 25/12 – 2/1, with some frontline cover.

    8. Tyche*

      I’ll be back on Tuesday, because Monday it’s the Ephipany and here in Italy it’s a holiday.
      This year we were very lucky and we closed from the 24th December till the 6th January included :-)
      I needed it!!!

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I have been WFH, just logging on every couple of days to triage the inbox and send out what can’t wait. Typically in pyjamas with an enormous cup of tea!

      1. Sack of Benevolent Trash Marsupials*

        Same! Currently in pyjamas with the huge cup of tea, doing inbox triage. Cheers!

    10. Cleopatra*

      I got back yesterday from a wonderful holiday break. And it got me a bit depressed, particularly that my work load is close to zero.

      Thank God I have AAM !!!!!

      Good luck for all those dreading to get back to work. And always remember, that this is just a phase !!! Much more interesting opportunities are waiting for us out there (we just need to go and get them)!

    11. Drew*

      I was supposed to be back yesterday but got very sick this week (aside: DATE YOUR LEFTOVERS) and so I’ll be back on Monday.

      Quite a few of my coworkers took yesterday and today as vacation time, which I am told had the CEO hauling managers into his office to demand to know why so many vacation requests were approved. I have a feeling I’m going to get an earful about my absence on Monday, or at least a demand to know why I didn’t work from home.

    12. Everdene*

      I’m back WFH today, in the office Monday. My laptop isn’t working though so until I manage to speak to someone at head office (no idea who is in. can’t lig in to find out) I am lying on my sofa reading AAM. Or using this quieter period to focus on professional development and keeping abreast of current trends in employment norms.

    13. Discordia Angel Jones*

      My office only closed on 25th, 26th December and 1st Jan.

      I took 27th December as holiday but had to work 30th and 31st. Suuuuuuper quiet. Yesterday and today are less quiet but still quiet.

    14. Susie Q*

      I was off from 20 December to 1 January. About half of my coworkers are back. The other half are starting back on Monday.

      My nice long break reminded that I really wish I could be a SAHM.

    15. OtterB*

      I am not technically back until Monday ( whole office is closed) but went to the office yesterday and will be wfh some of today to catch up on some things I didn’t finish before the break. But I took off completely for a week and a half instead of trying to finish those tasks around family time.

    16. Sc@rlettNZ*

      I don’t go back until Jan 27th (my last day at work for 2019 was Dec 19th. It’s going to be a rude shock lol. (I’m in NZ and taking several weeks of leave is completely normal where I work).

    17. DarthVelma*

      This was the first time that I’ve taken off the time between xmas and new year’s day, and it was wonderful. But it was really hard coming back yesterday. Part of me wishes I had just taken off until next Monday.

      On the bright side, my office is practically empty today. Two folks have morning appointments and are working from home the rest of the day. One person was out sick yesterday and will probably be out today too. So that will leave me and the other introvert in our office as the only ones here. I’m looking forward to a very quiet and very productive day. :-)

    18. What’s with Today, today?*

      We were off Christmas. The office staff was off Christmas Eve and NYD as well, but on air staff was just Christmas.

    19. CL Cox*

      I work in a school. We were off a half-day on the 20th, started back yesterday. It used to be that 12 month staff only got 24th, 25th, 31st, and 1st off, but for the last couple of years they realized that it costs much more to keep the buildings running for only a few people for the other days, so we’ve been getting paid days off.

    20. The Rat-Catcher*

      We are only closed on the holidays themselves, but I took off the entire week of Christmas and it was good for my soul. Will be repeating next year.

    21. Thankful for AAM*

      We had only xmas day and new years day off, closed at 4pm on the day before each one.

    22. PseudoMona*

      I’ll be back on Monday. My company has a shutdown from December 25-31, New Year’s Eve is a company holiday, and I took 2 PTO days for January 2-3. Twelve glorious days of sitting around in my pajamas.

      My biggest challenge on Monday will be to remember my computer login.

    23. CTT*

      I’m a real estate and finance lawyer, so I’ve been back since the 26th (although I did have the 1st off). My 12/31 deals closed smoothly though, so I left at 4 yesterday and am planning on leaving after lunch today.

    24. NJBi*

      I’m back as of yesterday, and WFH on Tuesday. Several people in my office are taking this week off and are back Monday, but with my travel plans I took the week before Christmas instead. The office was closed on Dec 25, 26, 27 and Jan 1, and the rest we are all taking in vacation–at my workplace you accrue just under 2 days per month for 20 total per year. Extremely generous for the USA! (I have twice the vacation time that my partner does, so every holiday he has off that I don’t, I take in vacation. He also had to work remotely for three of the days that we were away in that two-week span.)

    25. Jdc*

      I am loving Christmas on Wednesday as we were able to use minimum vacation days and still have two weeks off. I was sure yesterday was Sunday and had to check my phone repeatedly because I couldn’t comprehend it was Thursday. I am ready to have the kid back at school as they get bored and do their best to drive your crazy. Husband goes back Tuesday and son on Monday.

    26. Quinalla*

      I am back, but I had a week and a half off and it was a lovely break. I’ve been making a point to take real days off where I don’t check email, etc. I tell my boss or whoever is covering for me that they can text or call if it really can’t wait until I’m back and that I am NOT checking emails and it is wonderful!

    27. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yep. I was technically back on Monday, but worked from home. I took all of Christmas week off as well as the Thursday afternoon and Friday before (we got 12/24 and 12/25 off as holidays).

    28. Chronic Overthinker*

      My office was closed for the 24th and 25th with a half-day on the 31st and closed on the 1st. These last two spotty weeks have been weirdly quiet or insanely busy. Most have been the former. I can’t wait for a regular workload again or at least a regular schedule. I’m all out of whack and not performing at peak function.

    29. Adlib*

      Came back yesterday. Weirdly, some people only came in today, including my supervisor. He was marked as out on his calendar, but he’s here.

    30. Jabs*

      Working yesterday and today. Most of my office is gone and its blissfully quiet and disruption free, I love it.

    31. Quill*

      Most of my team is not (my manager dropped in on monday to check on things, I think) but I could only afford to take the 3 days of actual christmas week off because all holidays are unpaid. (I’m a contractor.)

    32. Yorick*

      I was only out Monday through Wednesday last week, and Wednesday this week. Christmas on Wednesday is lame.

    33. Shadowbelle*

      “Back” at work?

      I never left. I stayed to cover the holidays and solve year-end problems for our foreign plants.

    34. kittymommy*

      We were only closed (office only) on 12/25 and 1/1 and then a half day on 12/24. I think my phone has rung a half-dozen times during this period.

    35. Elenna*

      I didn’t have vacation days yet (started too late in the year) so I worked the whole time excluding Dec 25/26 and Jan 1 (Boxing Day is a statutory holiday where I am), but it was mostly working from home doing some documentation of processes. Came back Jan 2 and immediately jumped into busy month-end stuff…

    36. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      I’ll come back on Monday, January 6.

      My last day at work during the 2010s was Monday, December 23.

      NB: In my work, coverage isn’t really an issue — we mainly work on our own projects and have our own calendars. And much of our work is dealing with people…many of whom themselves are out this time of year.

    37. Jaid*

      I was in on Monday and Thursday, but took Tuesday off because I had errands to run before everything closed for NYE and took today off because indigestion/insomnia for two nights is bad for my focus on work, such as it is.

    38. De Minimis*

      We came back day after Christmas, though I called out that day. Worked Monday/Tuesday then off again, and now back to the regular schedule until MLK Day. Still have a handful of people who took extended vacation.
      It’s a medical clinic and as far as I can tell it’s been pretty slow for a while now, but I bet we pick up next week.

    39. EJane*

      I got Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. I’m currently at work. I don’t work retail or food service.

      yayyyyyyyyy

    40. CatMintCat*

      I’m a teacher in Australia, and our summer break ends on 28 January. I’ve actually been on sick leave since early November (all good now) and am more than ready for some structure in my life!

    41. Lavender Menace*

      I go back on Monday. I’m in the U.S., but my job has a generous time off policy and I took three weeks off at the end of the year. I really needed the time – I am terrible at taking time for myself, and I was burning out.

  4. Curious*

    What’s everyone’s take on online exit interviews? Currently helping a friend through one and it seems very impersonal to me… More like it’ll be filled in the circular filing cabinet never to be seen again.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m not a fan of exit interviews in general—online or not. My general feeling is if a workplace is a healthy one (i.e., genuinely open to feedback), you won’t have to wait until you leave to give that feedback. And if it isn’t, well, they’re not honestly going to take your feedback seriously when you leave either.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        I’m not a fan of exit interviews in general either. I think they’re just a CYA thing on the company’s part.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        I don’t disagree with this, but some people do not voluntarily come forth with feedback until they leave. Being open to feedback doesn’t mean everyone’s going to take advantage of it, particularly people who’ve come from toxic workplaces and have a default assumption that they’ll be punished for speaking up or people who are new to the workplace and worry that providing feedback will be seen as complaining.

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      I did one when leaving an insurance company, and the process was impersonal, but I liked that because I was able to clearly articulate all of my many problems with that company in my feedback, which I probably would not have been able to do if I had had to sit in front of an HR rep and answer the same questions.

    3. Clever username goes here*

      Mine wasn’t online, and I was on the fence about whether or not to do it at all. In the end, I decided to speak to both HR and my direct manager. I was very clear about the reasons I was leaving a job that almost nobody leaves, which were:
      – no opportunities for upward movement (my manager was a people manager, not an industry expert)
      – passed over for internal promotion because the other candidate was known to the hiring manager and they had ‘rapport’ (wtf??) despite me being the better choice (he admitted it)
      – absolutely no options to include any improvements to processes or procedures (MASSIVE company ruled by corporate overseas)
      – little to no support for professional development if your manager didn’t think you would succeed (c’monnn)
      All that combined made it obvious that it was time to leave after 7 years. I now have a better title, a higher salary and newjob is supporting my professional development into project management. I told them ALL of that… and nothing will change. But it was cathartic.

      1. Clever username goes here*

        To clarify: the internal promotion was to a different department, which was the only option for escape. :)

    4. Anon the mouse*

      That was exactly my take on the online survey I filled out for the last organization I worked with before joining this one – the last question was actually if I wanted to be contacted for an in-person follow-up to talk about my feedback in more detail, and they never contacted me. I guess they really didn’t want to talk any more after I spent the survey railing against the lack of performance-based payscale progress, even though it had been “on HR’s agenda” to implement since 3 years prior when I started working there. I have zero faith that those ever get looked at, especially in a large organization.

    5. Mockingjay*

      When I left ExToxicJob for this one, I stayed completely neutral in my exit interview to preserve my reference from this company. “Everything was fine; just a new opportunity for me.” “I’ve enjoyed working here but I’m ready for a new challenge.” HR asked would I recommend the company to others; I said something along the lines of: “As a [very] small business, Company Toxic offers employees the chance to take on multiple roles, providing growth opportunities.” [*subtext: overworked and understaffed, wearing too many hats]

      Nothing I said in that interview was going to change anything.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have an old co-worker’s exit interview to thank for the 10+ years we telecommuted two or three times a week. Her reasons for leaving were a major pay increase and partial work-from-home schedule. She reports that our HR director blanched at the $ increase and said “I can’t match that, but I’ll see what I can do about the telecommute.” She pushed it through, and that alone kept several of us on board longer than we would have. (See: rate of attrition since TC was revoked by corporate!!)

    7. Adlib*

      Mine wasn’t online for my last job, but I was sent a form to fill out and then had a meeting with the HR rep for our division. I was honest about leaving because of persons X and Y, but I knew it wouldn’t change anything. It didn’t, but I wanted them to know they were causing the company to lose people. It wasn’t a secret to my boss either, and there was no love lost between me and X and Y so I guess I did it to get it off my chest.

    8. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve done only one online exit interview before and I thought it was a huge waste of time. I’d been at the job only two weeks and realised that it wasn’t for me (there was cold calling when in the interview I’d be told there was no cold calling) and the dynamic of the team was awful (the manager was doing cocaine in front of the new staff on a night out) that I just didn’t want to be there any more. I wish I’d had the confidence to tell them I wasn’t going to do the exit interview but I breezed through it in five minutes and then tried never to think about the job again.

    9. Shadowbelle*

      I see no reason to have an exit interview, ever, online or otherwise. Not a good idea to let them know what you really think of them, if there were problems, and no reason to praise them on your way out.

    10. Anon Here*

      I think they’re really dysfunctional. Since you’ll be relying on the company for references, and they have the power to influence your reputation just by being part of your professional community, you obviously can’t always be honest.

      For example, they could try to hurt your reputation and push you out of your field so you won’t tarnish their reputation by saying the kinds of things you said in the exit interview. It happens, unfortunately.

      I always decline exit interviews or just thank the person for their time and for being a great person to work with. I keep it positive so they’ll leave with a positive impression of me. If there was a serious problem, there are other ways to handle it. And, honestly, if companies want honest feedback, they need to do a better job of protecting people’s anonymity and preventing retalliation.

    11. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I once did an exit interview and I found out from my friends who stayed with the company that it resulted in my boss being laterally transferred as part of a PIP to termination. He went from middle management to a front-line service sector job (according to LinkedIn.)

      So a good outcome is at least theoretically possible.

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

      Individually they probably aren’t going to be what the departing employee wants…no big dramatic apology or begging them to stay…but to the company it might identify a pattern if there is one. If everyone cites low pay then the company might try to be more competitive, but sometimes they can’t. But if one person says pay, the next says their supervisor is a jerk, the next is leaving for health reasons, the next for more vacation….then the company knows these are individual choices and not something they can change.

    13. De Minimis*

      I wish my last one had been online! I kept getting pestered for more details and though I’d intended on being neutral I ended up venting way more than I’d intended. I didn’t stay there long so I hadn’t planned on using them for a reference anyway…also, I think the bridge got completely burned when I had to file a wage claim with the state due to them taking a long time with my final paycheck.

    14. seller of teapots*

      I manage a large team and I’m so, so grateful when people are honest in exit interviews. Recently someone gave feedback that, in one light, wasn’t that complimentary of me. AND I’M SO GLAD SHE DID. Because she highlighted an issue that I have known about and I had been unable to get the resources to address. Her transparency has been really helpful in changing that!

      If you work for an org/boss where you think they genuinely want to improve, exit interviews are really helpful. If you work for a bunch of schmucks, well take care of yourself and move on.

  5. AnonyMouse*

    When is something to little to late? I have worked at my current company for three years. For the first two and a half I answered to an incredibly toxic director. She was rude, cruel, insulting. She made everyone in the department cry and/or consider quitting at one time or another during her 15+ year tenure in the role. It seems like someone higher up finally realized she was a problem early last year and she was managed out of her managerial duties in late August. However, even with her gone everyone still feels like we’re walking on eggshells and “joke” about having PTSD. This isn’t helped by the fact that our former director still has a job with the company and contacts us not infrequently.

    Due to some organizational changes we’re still waiting to see how our new managerial structure shakes out. We’re being encouraged to hold on until that happens and “trust the company” but there’s a part of me that wants to quit anyway. Just the fact that the former director was so bad and managed to be in her role for so long makes me wary of future management decisions. Not to mention, I haven’t seen any sign that someone is looking into how things got so bad before someone noticed. Should I give my company the benefit of the doubt? Or am I right to want to cut and run?

    TL;DR: Toxic ex-director was allowed in role for 15+ years before being removed. Is this a red flag or just a fluke?

    1. Bilateralrope*

      With a problem that lasted 15 years, what you really want to know is what caused someone to do something about it now.

      1. Pilcrow*

        This is what I was thinking. If there was some change in upper management and there was a new sheriff in town cleaning up the streets, I’d be a little more hopeful (but still cautious, the new sheriff sometimes gets gunned down at high noon). If it was that the toxic person finally did something so intolerable that they had no choice but to manage her out, that’s a little less hopeful because it says she would still be charging on if it wasn’t for that one step over the line.

        Have you been there a long time? If it’s been 5+ years, it probably would be a good idea to start looking around. If things turn around, well, then you’ve at least updated your resume and practiced interviewing and you’ve lost nothing.

    2. Anono-me*

      Maybe what you want to consider is doing some very selective job searching. If you find something wonderful great, go for it. If you don’t find anything wonderful, then wait to see what changes are coming at your current position.

      To me it sounds like you want to leave, but are not sure if the awfulness meter says you can. You can leave for whatever reason you want to. (If you can however, it is typically a good idea to find your next job before you leave your current one. As job searching is usually even harder when you’re unemployed.)

      1. Sunflower*

        Agree with this. I’m a big fan of always keeping the door open- you’ll often know what the right decision is once you realize what else is out there.

    3. CM*

      Everything you’re saying is right — you obviously couldn’t trust the company for the past 15 years, so what’s changed now?

      Maybe something has but, before you decide things are going to be different in the future, someone needs to explain why you should expect that, and it doesn’t sound like they have so far. I’d start a soft job search if I were you, but, when someone tells you to trust the company you could also explain that that’s hard after what happened and ask how things will be different in the future.

    4. Jem One*

      Similar-ish situation where I used to work. One of the managers was the vilest bully I’ve ever encountered – truly a horrible, horrible person – and as a result, staff turnover in our department was astronomical. However, our department was isolated from the rest of the company and the owners didn’t want to get involved. Plus, she got seemingly great results, so they were happy to take an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to her behaviour (results actually massively improved once she left, but she was very good at spinning her achievements).

      I worked there for three months before applying for a role in a different department, because I could not handle working for her any longer. The owners pulled me in and asked why I wanted to transfer. I was honest – polite, but truthful – and explained her behaviour, how difficult it was and how I was concerned about the effect it was having on our other team member (who was only 20 and was being crushed by the bullying). The owners were *shocked* (even though they’d heard it from other people before) and said they’d speak to her. I was concerned about retaliation, but the owners convinced me that they wouldn’t allow that to happen. They spoke to her the next day, and late in the afternoon I got a text message from the bully, firing me! I went back to the owners to ask if I’d be paid in lieu of notice (UK here!) and they were horrified that she’d fired me – they approved my transfer and I started in the new department the next week.

      But, and this the the key thing, they never did anything about the bully. She wasn’t reprimanded in any way (I found this out later). She was just allowed to continue. About a six months later, she handed in her notice, at which point the owners took it upon themselves to go round and interview all of her subordinates about the bully’s behaviour. Once again, they were *shocked* at what they heard (even though they’d heard it all before). They fired her one week before her notice period ended (she had a four week notice period, so she left three weeks after handing in her notice).

      At this point, the young, direct report who had been struggling under her for nearly a year left for another job and gave no notice – she just sent an email telling them that she wouldn’t be coming back. The owners were appalled that she would leave without any notice at all and they didn’t understand why she’d quit now the bully was gone and everything was going to get better. But I was sat there thinking – you left this poor, young woman to work pretty much alone under a horrible bully, knowing exactly what she was going through and didn’t lift a single finger to help her, at any point. Definitely far too little and far too late.

    5. Anon the mouse*

      This is a red flag and not a fluke. There was an AAM letter just this week where someone was told to “trust the company” with their career progression because they were being held back from a promotion, and everyone’s bull$hit radar was pinged in the comments. Someone said “‘trust the company’ means it’ll work out for the company, not necessarily for you” – if they’ve failed elsewhere at managing bad culture, they’ll fail you all here. I hope you’re looking for another job and wish you luck in getting out of there.

    6. Roy G. Biv*

      “Trust the company” — that’s rich. They squandered your trust by allowing someone that toxic to first remain in the power position for 15 years, and then secondly, to still be employed, even if no longer your supervisor.

    7. Anonymouse2*

      Wow are you me? I left a job late last year w a director just like this. In my experience, you don’t last 15 years whilst doling out abuse and harassment without some backing and/or wilful blindness from the high high up. At the very least, it indicates a company or organization that will put its management first before its employees’ legitimate concerns. In my experience, the toxic director is also still hanging around informally as a paid consultant after committing some very heinous and well-documented misdeeds. 15 years is a long time and it’s gonna take a while to change that dynamic.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Well, there is no right/wrong decision here. In these situations, I generally make a two-sided list of Pro’s and Cons to staying or going. It could be you’re just ready to move on regardless.

      Ultimately, I think it depends on how MUCH you actually like your job. If the other aspects are OK (pay, time off, commute) then maybe you stay and give the company a chance to make changes. But if you determine you’re ready to move on for other reasons, then I’d start a selective job search, taking your time to find the right next step for your career.

    9. OhBehave*

      Were the director’s bosses/peers aware of this toxic behavior? I wonder that because if no one tells them they cannot fix the issues. Yes, in some workplaces, these bosses would know because they are working closely enough to observe the actions. That’s not always the case.
      If bosses did know and did nothing in 15 years – too little, too late for me!

    10. Mama Bear*

      I would tell whoever told you to trust the company that you don’t feel that you can. Remind them that the former director who was so awful is still in contact with your team. If you feel twitchy, then you have not received enough reassurance to have trust in the company. What is the company actively doing (vs saying they are doing) to warrant your sticking it out longer? I would likely be doing some job searching to see what your options are.

    11. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Office politics expert Marilyn Moats Kennedy once said that firing people who should have been given the heave-ho years ago can cause more disruption than firing people unfairly. With the former, people figure that top management is now changing its values — and may wonder what (and who)’s next.

      What do you think?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I wonder what she meant by disruption. If she means that people go ahead and quit anyway, I can understand that one.
        If she means that complaints pile on AFTER the firing, I can understand that too. It’s now safe to talk about The Problem.

        However, in my experience the long term bully was fired for something like they burped at the big boss’ dinner party. (Totally unrelated and minor transgression but was personally offensive to the big boss.) And yeah, people will tend to decide that all these birds have the same feather and beef up their resumes to go out the door.

        1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

          Ms. Kennedy meant that people tend to take sides in destructive office politics because expectations are no longer stable. Since management’s values have obviously changed, nobody (feels they) can be sure they’re safe anymore.

    12. Bilateralrope*

      Start job searching. Your current employer has until you find another job to show you sufficient improvement to keep you.

  6. Lloyd Dobler*

    How’s do you figure out what job you want? I’m feeling a bit Lloyd Dobler from Say Anything recently. I’m tired of non profit politics and everything it takes to woo a donor. I’m looking for something more straightforward—where I can do good work and not worry about mind games. I like puzzles. I like doing different things every day. I much prefer hands on work to sitting behind a computer all the time. Does anything come to mind? I’d appreciate any direction to look!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      If you like puzzles and variety and don’t want to be tied to a desk all day, you should look into being a field property claims adjuster. They see some pretty crazy things and meet some interesting people along the way (I was an in-house adjuster for years and loved insurance, but ultimately burned out).

      1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

        I check some of these same boxes and I’ve been thinking of trying to get into insurance adjusting… I’ve worked as legal staff (non attorney) for almost a decade and currently focused on insurance litigation so it seems a natural transition.

        Any advice for getting in the door?

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Hey! I was also in the legal field prior to moving over into claims (non-attorney here as well) – see what insurance companies are in your area and which ones having claim trainee programs or positions posted on their website. That’s literally what I did – joined a trainee program – and was paid for the entire 8 month program, then promoted with a nice raise after graduating. An attorney I worked with at my law firm who went through the program with me (pure coincidence) said he had to take a pay cut to do the program, but I actually received a 31% pay increase as a trainee versus being a paralegal.

          Good luck! Depending on what types of claims you end up handling, you’ll have a lot of fun (I enjoyed bodily injury and property liability claims the most) and your background is ideal to get into this line of work.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Puzzles, doing different things every day, and hands-on work sounds like carpentry or cabinet installation or plumbing or similar.

      1. Not Dave*

        +1. Skilled trades like electrician, carpenter, etc. are all about solving puzzles. The work can be tedious but is rarely boring, and there’s a variety of jobs and career paths within each.

        Depending on your personality, some trades may suit you better than others. For example, if you’re an analytical, low-key person like me, you may make an excellent electrician but would HATE being an ironworker.

    3. Squidhead*

      Numerous health professions come to mind, if you’re willing to re-educate and don’t have any barriers to licensure (not relevant for non-licensed jobs, obviously). Radiology tech, LPN/RN, phlebotomist, lab tech, etc… I’m not gonna tell you that working for a big health-care-provider is free of mind-games, though!

    4. TimeTravelR*

      Through trial and error I figured out that I need someplace with structure… that there is a particular (but not totally inflexible) way to do things. Things like accounting, for example. Certain rules to follow, certain things you must do. I am able to think outside the box on ways to make it better, more efficient, etc., and that is my strength, but I like having that set of guidelines to start with.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        Which doesn’t really answer your question… but for me, the puzzle is how to make things better and still stay within the required guidelines!

    5. Katniss Evergreen*

      Seconding the trade commenters. I have a family member who’s a steamfitter, basically they install and maintain piping systems, supports, etc. There’s a lot of working with interrelated trade jobs and alongside electricians, etc., they’re always working out puzzles in a practical way. My family member was previously in an office job and is much happier doing work with his hands.

    6. Sunflower*

      I’d recommend reading What Color is Your Parachute. It really helps you nail down specifics of what you like and dislike about all parts of work (environment, coworkers, bosses, people you work with, etc)

      1. Emily*

        + 1 –
        I agree that’s a good idea.

        Be wary that this book has a (small) religion element, but I agree it’s generally very useful.

        Copies are widely available from the library, so you don’t have to purchase a copy of the book to read it & get some good ideas and insights.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Are you familiar with “What Color Is Your Parachute?” When I was caught up in big layoffs, they gave us one-on-one counselling, group counselling, and oh so many exercises to help us decide what path to take. And it was familiar to me from having used “Parachute” previously. It’s a self-driven career counselling process, for those of us not so lucky to have access to a human.
      I’m re-purchasing in the latest edition; it’s updated annually. I’m debating whether I want hardcopy or e-book — having my notes searchable could be helpful, but I do like scrawling right in the margins of DIY books!

    8. AnonyNurse*

      Public health! Look at what your local public health agency does and see if any of it sounds interesting. There’s a lot of field work, figuring out how things are related or how they occurred — a rabid bat is found. How many are there? Did anyone come in contact? A bunch of people have salmonella. Where’d they get it? Several kids have been injured on skateboards. How do we promote helmet use and get them to the kids? Did our intervention help? A lot of these jobs want creatively minded people who have a wide range of backgrounds — data, communications, direct care, etc.

      You get to do all the things you mentioned — and improve the lives of the people in your community.

    9. Emily*

      I highly recommend browsing the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

      The online version is VERY useful, and you can easily browse different industries & career paths, and quickly see job descriptions, salary data, and (also important) estimated growth rates of each field.

      This is a government resource, maintained and compiled by the US Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

      Occupational Outlook Handbook Website:
      https://www.bls.gov/ooh/

      1. lemon*

        I’d also recommend using ONet’s Interest Profiler, which is another free government resource. It’s a quiz that helps determine some occupations you may be interested in, and it gives career information from the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Doing a quick Google will take you to the online version of the quiz.

        1. Eshrai*

          So I just used ONet’s Interest Profiler and it matches me to basically what my education (accounting) is and what I currently do (training) . It matches me 0% to the career I want to move to (programming). Like, literally says I have no matches with the interests necessary for that field.

    10. RecoveringSWO*

      If your non-profit experience can relate to government agencies that investigate issues/enforce protections, you may enjoy becoming a field agent for a federal or local agency. They might be called something besides field agent depending on the agency, but they’re the ones who are taking interviews, doing on site visits, and making reports with recommendations for government enforcement. DOL, EEOC, EPA, and OSHA are all federal options that come to mind as agencies that might fit the bill. Obviously, soliciting donations isn’t directly translatable, but I can easily see how non-profit skills and passion can relate over.

    11. GS*

      If you like being outside, forestry or ecosystem restoration let you engage with ecosystems (massive, complicated, always-changing puzzles with some fundamental structural rules to help you stay sane) and you can steer towards field time, computer time, or a mix of both. I’ve rarely done the same thing from week to week, though there are similarities on a yearly cycle.

  7. TV Researcher*

    Does anybody use Tableau? If so, what are some tricks or things one must know in order to become an expert. If you’ve got a good blog to point me to, that’d work too.

    I’ve been using it for a while, but I’ve rarely been called to create anything. I generally use charts others have made, and then make changes as I need them. This was fine for a time, but now I have to create dashboards for budgets and whatnot, which is not how I usually use the program. I guess I have issues a) visualizing what I want my data to show and b) how to organize the data to get there.

    TLDR: Any Tableau gurus out there who have advice or blogs to read?

    1. Numbers that make sense*

      Edward Tufte, guru of visual display of complex information. Has 4 splendid books and does an excellent one-day course (not cheap) that I’ve taken. Not software but great for figuring out how to present your data in the most effective way. Numbers

    2. Rexasaurus Tea*

      For blogs and advice, definitely check out the various Tableau Zen Masters’ sites – my personal favorites are Andy Kriebel (VizWiz.com), Jonathan Drummey (Drawing with Numbers), and Anya A’Hearn (Datablick). If you have time, you could also watch some of the session recordings from this past Tableau Conference (tc19.tableau.com/watch) maybe in the “Dashboard and Design” and “Data and Analytics Skills” themes, and see if anything there seems like it could be helpful to you.

      I’ve been working with Tableau for several years now (although certainly not a guru!) and I’ve found that for me it works best to start with a general idea of what I want to know, and then ask myself how I could quantify or measure that using the data set that I have available, and then drill in from there. Sometimes I browse through the data sets first to see what kind of data and fields and details are being logged, so that I have an idea of what kinds of things people felt important enough to track. I also end up revising and re-revising a bunch once things start coming together. I think one of the trickiest parts is figuring out what the questions are, before I can start figuring out what the answers are.

      1. TimeTravelR*

        Thanks, Rex! Now I am going to end up going down the rabbit hole of dashboard design all day! These are awesome!!

    3. TimeTravelR*

      We are just starting to use Tableau at my work and just from the demos, I am madly in love! I can’t wait for the contractor to come to my department! So, no advice, but keenly interested in responses to your request!!

    4. Borgette*

      I’m the resident Tableau whiz at my work. I got my skills by using Tableau every day, with lots of different data sources, creating lots of different outputs. I learn best with hands-on experimentation, so Makeover Monday and Workout Wednesday work well for me. You can find either by Googling the name + Tableau.

      Makeover Monday takes a published visualization and challenges participants to re-design it. The project introduces you to a lot of different data sets, which is so so so important for understanding the relationship between your data and the visual. Looking at other’s work is very interesting, and introduces you to new approaches. Watching the reviews is a great way to learn about common pitfalls & best practices.

      Workout Wednesday is probably the best way to learn Tableau tricks. Generally the challenges are specific to Tableau and require using various technical skills, and even ‘hacks’, to re-create the posted workbook. It really helps you develop a sense of what can be accomplished with Tableau, where the limits are, and an instinct for what approach to use in a tricky situation.

      Whatever you do, make sure you start posting your *Non-Proprietary* work to Tableau Public, developing a portfolio of your work.

    5. baby yoda*

      There’s an online community that posts a weekly data set and takes submissions of new/interesting/useful ways of re-presenting them, and most people use Tableau. Google “Makeover Monday” or check out this site: https://www.makeovermonday.co.uk/ Good way to work on your skills.

    6. ten-four*

      Hmm, I’m trying to leave a comment with a link to a PDF of a book called Data+Design. It’s on open source book on effective data visualization: how to tell stories with data and what types of visualizations work best with which types of data. The lead editor, Trina Chiasson, ran a company that was acquired by Tableau a few years back.

      It’s a stellar primer and it’s freeeeee! Full disclosure: I edited a chapter :)

      I guess commenting forbids links, but if you search Data+Design book Chiasson it’s the first hit in Google!

    7. Can't Remember My UN*

      I’ve been working with Tableau for about two years. What helps me is to have an end in mind. I usually have a rough idea of the design of the dashboard I am looking for (which can change over time), which helps to focus on what I want to do with the data. Google has been my best friend, as well- almost any question I have, someone has asked and posted a video or blog or detailed steps about. It really helps to build out something where you know the data well and have a good idea of how to analyze it. That way, you can focus on learning the tool.

    8. Gaia*

      I use Tableau daily. They actually have some decent training videos on their website (free) and some on-demand trainings ($140/year) that I used to learn a ton.

      What really helped me was the forums, however. It was re-making other vizs either to recreate what I liked or to improve them and then posting for advise. It is a really great community.

    9. Blarg*

      I love Tableau and was the first user at OldJob, giant state agency, so had no one in my org to ask questions and of course, actual training was out of the question. Generally, it was easy and I liked that I could look at data we’d had for years in new and creative ways that wouldn’t have even occurred to me prior. Like ‘oooh, what happens if I graph it by X and Y but color Z differently and filter for W?” But I found specific areas where it can be frustrating … like god forbid you add a column to your excel file. Tableau just can’t figure it out on its own (although I think recent updates have fixed the issue). Since I was doing very specific stuff and only using Excel as a data source, most of the time, I’d just search Google/YouTube when I had questions or issues. I’m super proud of the public dashboards I built, which are still being used, but the more important stuff ended up being what I discovered in our data just mucking around. Even data-savvy researchers respond well to visuals, and I was able to ‘prove’ some things and improve some processes because I could show them. It makes taking a data set with hundreds of columns and tens of thousands of rows actually usable beyond the things you knew you were looking for.

      TLDR: I assumed Tableau could do everything I wanted, so when I couldn’t figure it out, I asked the internet.

    10. Yorick*

      As far as I know, no one here has or uses Tableau, but boy do they call me all the time to sell me a renewal.

    11. Hillary*

      I like Practical Tableau by Ryan Sleeper for how to, especially how to do things that I already knew how to do in excel or other BI tools.

      I’ve been using the Good Charts Workbook from HBR to broaden my skillset, I like it so far.

    12. J.B.*

      My biggest tip with Tableau is to get data at the level of aggregation you want before you start charting. I prefer to do things like sums and counts in SQL if I know I won’t need the individual rows, because combining stuff in Tableau is a PITA. I took a community college course which was pretty cheap and quite good.

    13. NotAnotherManager!*

      Does your local library have a Lynda.com subscription? They have Tableau (and nearly anything else you’d like to learn) classes with exercise files.

    14. TV Researcher*

      Wow! You guys are great. You have given me lots to read and sites to check! It’s very much appreciated.

  8. cubone*

    Anyone have experience or tips tolerating a boss who’s not mean or an asshole, but just…. incredibly dumb?

    I really don’t want to be rude or condescending, but she seems like she popped out of a sheltered private school into the world for the first time (but is a woman well into her career). I’m utterly baffled how she got into any management role of any kind and has caused absolute chaos because she panics any time we get… any work assignment ever. I try really hard with an agenda and preparation, but she steamrolls the majority of our “1:1” time with a vent about all the work on her plate, how stressed she is, how she stays up all night worrying about [incredibly minor basic project I don’t give a single thought to after 501….]. Sometimes I bite my tongue because I can’t think of anything to say that’s not “maybe this job isn’t a good fit then”??

    We just found out our new hire for a very senior role in the company is in her 30s with an incredibly accomplished resume and my boss is whispering to everyone constantly “do you know exec is only 35?!?!?” (in a panicked tone that makes me extremely uncomfortable). She’s mid/late 40s I’d guess and is VERY insecure about anyone in senior roles she believes are younger than her. I’m just at a loss. I adore my job and never before this had the experience of waking up with a pit in my stomach, but I sometimes feel like a babysitter more than anything.

    (Before anyone asks: yes I’ve spoken to HR, who is very supportive and have mentioned moving my role to another team. Yes, I think boss is being watched closely and there may be things happening behind the scenes. But my patience is dwindling and I’m becoming so irritable and intolerant of the situation in the meantime.)

    Anyways, thanks for reading this vent at least :)

    1. Incompetent boss advice*

      Oh, I’ve definitely worked with this type of boss before. Two tricks I used so that I could get anything done at all was…

      1. Use the “Ask for forgiveness, not permission” strategy
      2. As soon as any decision is made (nomatter how small) act on it immediately

      An example with a combination of the two
      Me: “What venue would you like for the Christmas party, A or B?”
      Boss: “Uhhhh, let’s do A.”
      Me:
      Boss (15 minutes later): “Actually, let’s do B.”
      Me: “Sorry, boss, I’ve already paid the non-refundable deposit.”
      Boss: “Ok, then I guess A it is.”

      1. Incompetent boss advice*

        Arrrgh, the second “Me” should be …immediately runs off to book venue A and pay deposit…..

    2. Bunny Girl*

      I had a boss before who was incredibly dumb. Like he wasn’t dropped on his head as a baby, he was straight up yeeted into the wall. I treated him like a National Geographic special and acted like I was observing wildlife. It made things tolerable as I looked for another job.

      1. Cartographical*

        I choked on my coffee at “yeeted”. I think I worked for OP’s manager’s counterpart in my field at one point, only this person was also crystal clear that all they really wanted was to be a stay at home parent and resented all of us for somehow conspiring — simply by existing — to put them in this role.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I don’t always cackle loudly at my desk, but WHEN I DO, there’s inevitably a senior manager walking nearby. Thank goodness it’s standard lunchtime hours.
        Yeeted into a wall indeed!

    3. Daniel Atter*

      Been there, done that. In my case my boss was a good salesman who was hopeless at running a department, but somehow found himself doing it. The way it turned out effectively was that I basically took over running the department, and he kept selling. It worked for the department, was good for my reputation in the company (because everyong knew) and obviously I got good experience (sure, without the pay cheque for a managerial job, but it helped me prepare for the job and pay cheque I have now). Importantly, if I made any mistakes, he always took full responsibility for them.

      I found, given that I was happy to take on that responsibility, the trick was to say things like “If it’s alright with you, I’ll take care of that” or “I’ll manage that if you have no objection?” He was happy to pass it on as it reduced his stress, and it made sure the department operated.

      Some people might think he took advantage of me, but he advocated heavily for me to get substantial pay rises and bonuses and so it was a win-win for everyone.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      It sounds like she has reason to be worried she won’t have a job soon!
      But seriously, I can’t say what’s going on with her. Either she’s truly in way over her head for some reason (did she change fields?), or she’s incredibly distracted by something outside of work. Or, she has paralyzing imposter syndrome. Who knows?

      But if she’s not truly horrible outside of being lost… I’d say you just continue to support as best you can by doing your job and managing up a bit. If she starts going down the panic trail, cut it off by staying factual. “Ok, well, here’s that TPS report then.”

      1. cubone*

        She did change fields! Well, same type of job function, but went from corporate to nonprofit. I know nonprofits get a reputation for chaos sometimes, but I think we have a very functional, supportive workplace. Minus this blip, haha. I’ve never worked corporate (all nonprofit/public sector), so I don’t know know if it’s the transition or just her. It does seem to me like she prefers to be in a position where she can dole out tasks to junior staff and just take credit – her title level is definitely more strategic, but all our other managers are very much “in the weeds” when needed. The generous side of me says she’s learned these behaviours from other bad managers; the less generous thinks she went nonprofit so to indulge her insecurities with a warped idea of “altruism”.

        Just reading other people’s sighs and fellow experiences made me feel much less alone and I appreciate the advice given!!

    5. Adlib*

      I’ve worked with this type before, and I feel you. The fact that there are so many people out there like this…yikes.

    6. OhBehave*

      It’s baffling how these people make it into managerial roles, isn’t it? Your boss most likely has been warned. That or she knows she’s inept. In your 1:1, act as if you are watching a show. Let her vent, wring hands, etc. Your internal monologue will be, “Holy crap, Batman! She is BSC.” Do all you can to remain unaffected by her hysterics. It’s a mental shift.

      Hopefully her role will change soon.

  9. Hamster*

    I’ve been at my company for 5 years and exactly 4 women/2 men have gone on maternity/paternity leave. How many are still here? 1 man 0 women. That alone is making me a little anxious but then when I think about it….

    1 (manager) quit to be a SAHM.

    1 (manager) came back after a year and works PT/remotely as an individual contributor. but not as a manager and definitely (I’m assuming here) not with the same salary & benefits as management level. I worked under her at the start of my position and she was well loved by everyone.

    1 (an admin position) went on extended leave and ended up calling out once a week after coming back. Our company tried to accommodate her by creating a WFH position for her but it didn’t work out and she resigned

    1 (individual contributor)…. went on leave, came back, and either went on leave again or quit, but I am not sure tbh.

    1 (male manager) went on paternity leave. There was restructuring and his position was gone. But, he had clashes with upper Mgmt and everyone expected him to resign at the end of his leave.

    I am a manager in a new department that’s been successful and truth be told, I am a little worried about losing my job.

    I’m still early and I don’t plan to tell anyone else until I’m far enough along. I know a little about FMLA. I’ve only told my boss and he’s super happy for me and I know he’ll have my back. My grand boss, I am not sure about.

    It’s one of those things that sounds bad but when you evaluate each situation it’s not that bad?

    It’s probably useless to worry at this point..right?

    1. Bilateralrope*

      I’d suggest you start documenting everything. That way you’ll be in a stronger position should they try anything illegal with you.

    2. Maya Elena*

      Were any of those high-stress jobs with relatively little pay to compensate?
      Lots of stress for little money might just be the thing which pushes a person to forfeit the job entirely rather than signing up for the job-daycare rat race.

      1. Hamster*

        We’re tax accountants so yeah high stress at least part of the year. Pay, I’m not sure, as I’m not aware of anyone’s salary but I believe it’s average.

        The first one, her spouse was making 2x as much (her words) that’s what made sense for them. The one who resigned, she extended her leave because kids were out of school for the summer and daycare was too $$. She got a new job that was close to home and coincided with her kids school schedule.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Upthread I described a workplace that had a really bad track record with moms (not all parents, just moms). Don’t just look at parental leave, look at how they accommodate parents of older children and other carers – is the workplace generally flexible? who generally gets promotions and key projects? is there a lot of last-minute travel?

      1. Hamster*

        That’s a good way to look at it.

        They did create a space for one of them to pump milk-it was a meeting/break room, they installed a privacy curtain and a mini fridge and Sent out a company wide email that pumping mother’s have priority on this room—so top level down it sounds good, but did a few jerks grumble about it? No idea. Even though that employee is gone, the accommodations are still there (people just nap or hold meetings there now).

        Either most are young and single/childless or have grown kids. People in key Mgmt roles are parents of young kids or single or married w no kids.

        1. Massive Dynamic*

          Just a curtain? In the breakroom?!?!?!! Oh god no. Even if the person pumping can lock everyone else out of the room, that’s a recipe for failure. Too much existing demand on a room to all of a sudden turn it into a pumping room. I’d be too stressed in there to produce any milk.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think it sounds like it was a separate room with a privacy curtain that could be pulled across the glazing when in use.

            But I agree with the yikes – it’s a bare minimum box tick. I wouldn’t have managed to maintain pumping in that environment (pumping is hard in the best circumstances, and these are not the best circumstances). My baby was on solids by the time I returned to work, so suboptimal pumping didn’t matter; if baby had been under six months it would have been a real problem.

            I am also giving side eye to the low/non-representation of kid-parents in decision-making positions.

            (yes I like hyphens)

            1. Hamster*

              People in key Mgmt roles are parents of young kids or single or married w no kids.

              >>> isn’t that representation? I’m so confused now?

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                It may mean that people can’t juggle key management positions with school-age children.

                It may be coincidence.

                That’s why I’m suggesting you look at wider trends across the whole company. Are there any employees with older/teen children? What kind of positions do they hold? They are the most likely to need flexibility, in my experience (e.g. as daycare is typically wraparound, whereas childcare options for children of school age are more limited).

          2. Hamster*

            I’m so confused now. It’s a small clean room (same size as all other meeting rooms) that has a lock and privacy. What’s awful about that?

            1. Massive Dynamic*

              It reeeeeally all depends on how it’s managed. Sometimes employees are resistant to change, and if a room was once the room where they ate lunch/made private phone calls/did yoga etc. etc. and now it’s off limits to all but pumping mothers, then some people can get a bit entitled and huffy about it. It’s all in how management presents the change, and how they shut down anyone who is mad about losing the space.

              And if it’s still the break/phone/etc. room until a pumping mother needs it, then that woman needs to have 110% support of management to kick anyone else out. This is where good pumping plans can fall down, as it could be damn hard for a junior employee to tell a VP that they need to clear out of a shared space. The trick (again, by GOOD managers), is to do all you can to not have your pumping employee be the one to directly manage this. And not have crappy VPs.

              Signed, someone who had to sometimes tell an amazing VP to take a hike from the conference room so she could pump and VP was awesome, apologetic, and immediately accommodating each (rare) time.

              1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

                I suspect that at least in some cases the best way to handle it would be…have the room for pumping only.

                Yeah, in a perfect world that would be wasteful and inefficient.

              2. Hamster*

                Ahhh gotcha, thanks for the clarification! I can see why it sounds so bad In theory but in practice it doesn’t seem to be so.

                It seemed like it was a positive change, if anyone made any negative noise about it I never heard about it. based on how things have been in the past, if a mother were to complain that people were giving them a hard time, a mass email would go out to everyone as a reminder that they have priority first and I can definitely see this as a serious HR issue. our HR is also a mother of 2 school age kids so I do think she’d handle it properly. Nothing of the sort has happened (to my limited knowledge.. Upper mgmt never uses these rooms, VPs/etc meet in the CEOs office (which is all glass so no visual privacy). Im not worried about having to kick someone out.

              3. Hamster*

                IIRC the pumping mothers only used it for a few months at a time and there wasn’t overlap. People were still allowed to use the room at other times but the mothers had priority always.

                I’ve read so many horror stories about how awful some workplaces are where they’re given filthy rooms, bathrooms, cramped janitors closets, going to their cars etc. this is a small clean room w/ privacy and a fridge (and no ones stealing breast milk either) and most of the workers here (senior to junior) are decent humans so i don’t think it’s so bad.

            2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              It’s still used for breaks and meetings. Pumping moms may have priority but there could be problems if there aren’t enough alternative venues for meetings and breaks. A pumping room should be for that purpose alone.

        2. DCR*

          Given that you are legally obligated to provide a place for pumping mothers in the United States, and because that sounds like a crappy space to pump, I wouldn’t give them credit for that.

    4. Fikly*

      So, successful return to work after having a baby! The statistics are terrible, and also more complex than it might seem.

      Yes, there are absolutely companies doing illegal things. But there are also a ton of companies who skirt the line by not directly doing illegal things, but by having environments that are so unfriendly to working parents, that they end up quitting within the first year, and so it is legal, but not good for the parents.

      Within that group of companies, some are doing it intentionally, and some aren’t, but are just clueless. It’s important to know which your company is, if possible, because sometimes you can work with the clueless ones to make things better, either for you, or company wide.

      I’d highly recommend working with a back to work coach/professional, which is someone who specializes in helping women/parents with exactly this transition. They can help with knowing what your rights are during pregnancy, for leave, once your return, and also in figuring out how to have conversations with your management and coworkers, if needed. They can also give an unbiased perspective on what category your company may fall into.

      I hope everything goes well!

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        But there are also a ton of companies who skirt the line by not directly doing illegal things, but by having environments that are so unfriendly to working parents, that they end up quitting within the first year, and so it is legal, but not good for the parents.

        Yeah, a lot of places look at the minimum they need to do in order to comply with the law and not what will be good for everyone in that place where business needs overlap with employee needs (i.e., a business needs engaged and talented employees and employees need to be taken care of in certain ways—what does that space look like when we’re talking about family leave and return to work). With one of my children, the place I returned to pushed back on my request for pumping space and time, because they knew the exact parameters of the laws they needed to follow. While they were technically correct (the best kind of correct, right?), it was a crappy thing to do and was indicative of a larger attitude towards employees in general, moms returning to work specifically.

        It does sound like the OP’s company has demonstrated this disregard, at least not by the information given, but there’s a lot we don’t know about each of those situations.

    5. Colette*

      I’m in Canada where 1 year of leave is normal, and it’s really common for people to not come back after maternity leave (by choice) – either the break gives them a chance to re-evaluate what they want from their career and they find another job, or they decide they can make staying home work, or their daycare choices mean they need a change.

      The explanations you give above could be legitimate – having a child is one of those major life events that can have far-reaching implications. Or they’re not, and your company pushes out people who take leave – but I don’t think there is a clear pattern of that based on what you’ve said above.

    6. WellRed*

      I’m unclear on why you think you’ll lose your job. It sounds like your company is pretty accommodating and that’s assuming you even need any accommodating. To me, it sounds like these people, except the guy, all decided to take a step back, not that they were forced to.

      1. Nita*

        Yes, that’s what it sounds like to me also. In fact, I’d think of the fact that one manager ended up working remotely and another was offered this by the company as a positive. In my experience working remotely is not great for one’s career, but it’s worth its weight in gold and precious stones when it comes to balancing the career and the baby’s needs. When I got pregnant I was 100% sure that I’ll take the FMLA leave, be back full steam at 12 weeks (I mean – 12 weeks! that’s a lot! no one takes 12-week vacations!!!), find the baby a nanny, and be completely happy with the result. Well… I’d been around lots of kids but not many newborn babies at that point. I totally underestimated how hard it would be to leave someone so tiny and helpless. I ended up doing a lot of things differently than I’d planned, and am very glad my boss was able and willing to work with me on that. My career did take a hit, but it was temporary and I was actually able to move into a more senior management role while working remotely, and build on that once I started coming into the office again.

    7. Joel*

      Not every person who leaves does so because they’re pushed out. My wife had a long hours/high stress job and (a few years after she came back from leave) went part time a few months ago because I got a higher paying job. A coworker’s wife left her job because her salary was about what they were paying for childcare and she preferred to be with her kids.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Funny how it’s almost always the mom who ends up giving up work. Funny how it’s almost always the dad whose current and potential position and earnings would be considered more likely to support the family.

        Not a criticism of your situation, and it’s where we ended up too. I’m just pointing out that these decisions aren’t made in a vacuum.

    8. Cartographical*

      Agreed with the suggestions on documentation & scoping out the job market but also think you shouldn’t stress too much — yet. Can you talk to anyone who’s been there longer about why they think this is the trend?

      Around here, it’s estimated that a 2-income family with kids has a joint “profit” of a whopping $2000/year over 1-income families where the working spouse has a similar role as the higher-earner of the 2-income family. Many families choose to “soak” the $2k loss and have a parent stay home. My partner’s work sees less attrition than you describe but it’s notable for its unusually good benefits package and being the kind of place that people are committed to on principle (being a cooperative) and not just a paycheck. It’s not unusual for families around here to go single income after the second kid, though women in the C-suite in his industry generally make enough that it’s normal to see their spouse go SAH or they hire a nanny — it’s cheaper than daycare if you have two under five or more than two total.

      All that is just to say — systemically, our culture does not make it viable for many parents to return to work if it’s not necessary to do so for survival purposes.

    9. Mama Bear*

      It may be coincidence, or it may not. I would document anything that you think might impact your performance review/consideration for your job. Use the FMLA, have a plan for when you are out, and a plan for your return. Truthfully if it would have been feasible for me to stay home or work PT the first year, I would have, simply because 12 weeks of FMLA went so fast and it was hard to leave my kid. A friend of mine left her job b/c her husband got an incredible offer and she no longer had to work if she didn’t want to, and once the baby came along, they decided she would be home. There may be underlying circumstances you aren’t privy to, so I wouldn’t panic just yet.

    10. Heat's Kitchen*

      To me, these sound like a lot of personal decisions, not decisions made by the company. Becoming a parent is HARD. Many women intend to come back to work and realize that isn’t for them once they’re out on leave. Some prefer to go down to part time during this season of life (and if a company is supportive of that, it can work out in the long run for both parties). You’re making a lot of assumptions here and I think it’s all unfounded. I don’t see anything that screams the company pushed these people out.

    11. HBJ*

      Sure, keep an eye on if it seems like the company is down on people taking parental leave, but none of what you’ve listed sound like red flags to me.

      It’s a bit of a “wrong” thing to say these days, but the fact is many families want one parent staying home with the child/children. And many woman want to be a SAHM. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t mean people are being pushed out if they quit after leave. I know lots of people who planned to go back to work post leave and changed their minds. You could have offered me the best maternity leave in the world and/or the most flexible job in the world, but unless it was 18 years or 10 hours a week and able to be picked up and put down at will and done at any time (meaning I wouldn’t have to have daycare), I still would have quit.

  10. Bilateralrope*

    I’m asking out of curiosity. If an employer has a single position that needs 24/7 coverage (eg, security guard), how is it typically done where you are ?

    My employer does it with 12 hour shifts on a 4 on, 4 off rotation. 2 people permanently on nights, 2 on days. Which means they each work an average of 42 hours per week. 36 hours for 4 weeks, then 48 for the next 4.

    But I’m in a country where there are no laws about an overtime rate if you work more than x hours per day/week. So I’m curious how overtime laws affect the roster.

    1. Squidhead*

      Even in the US, these laws vary: I am a union RN and our contract specifies that “full-time” is 80 hours in a 14-day pay period. Maximum hours we can work in 7 days is 72 (6 12-hour shifts). No, we don’t get OT if we exceed 40 hours in 7 days. Presumably, if someone’s days are all clumped together they will also have a clump of days off (easier to do when the pay period is 2 weeks long), but 72 hours in 6 shifts feels looooong!

      1. Laney Boggs*

        It’s obviously not your fault but… I dont think I’d want a nurse on their 70th hour in 6 shifts.

        I’m consistently baffled by the hours healthcare workers keep

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I know someone who had a tired junior doctor come in to do her stitches, after a vaginal delivery.

          Doctor had been working for more hours straight than most people work in a week.

          She did not want him to do her stitches!

        2. Squidhead*

          That’s fair! Most of us don’t usually work 6 days sequentially…more like 2 to 4 days on followed by 2 or 3 days off. But (to the original question) we would not be prohibited from doing it and we would not earn OT if we did it.

          Since 80 hours divides unevenly by 12, most people use the remaining 8 hours as a shift (we are allowed to work 8s as well as 12s at this hospital). Sometimes it is used for a meeting or a class, depending on the person’s exact position and responsibilities.

        3. Three Cats in a Trenchcoat*

          My husband and I had a really amusing culture clash over that – I was in medical school, where I had some rotations where doing 12hour days was the “normal” length of day while he’s in engineering, and was at a very safety focused company. He just could not wrap his head around the idea that I was routinely working longer hours than the truck drivers at his work were allowed to, while actively caring for patients.

          (It didn’t get better in residency – I’ve worked plenty of 16hour days, and feel grateful I’m not at a program with 24hour call!)

    2. Anony Shark*

      We have either 2 or 3 people covering each 20-22 hour period. They work either 4 or 5 days per week. People work similar start and finish times, so their body clock gets used to it and they can arrange their personal lives around a predicted work schedule. I’ve discovered a lot of people prefer working non-traditional hours. We’ve had parents who want to work night shifts so someone will always be home for the kids, or people who want to work very early morning because that’s when their spouse works.

    3. Daisy Avalin*

      I work in a 24-hr petrol station (uk), and we have three shifts of one person over the 24-hrs – 7am to 3pm, 3pm to 11pm, and 11pm to 7am. Overtime isn’t really a thing, although if one shift has to stay later/start earlier you do get paid normal rate for that.
      We have set days/shifts for each person, for instance I work nights only, and preferably weekend nights due to childcare needs. Of course I may need to cover holidays for the other night shift guy when needed (as he does for me) but that’s an as-and-when.

    4. Poppy the Flower*

      I’m a doctor in the US and at my hospital we have multiple day shifts (includes afternoon/evening shifts) and a night shift. The day people rotate between any of the day shifts but the night people only work nights. I’m nights and I work an average of 3 shifts a week. We don’t get paid overtime for staying late and are salaried… but if we pick up an extra shift that isn’t assigned to anyone we get paid moonlighting rate (it’s kind of similar to a contractor rate so is higher than a normal shift).

    5. Cartographical*

      The norm here is 8hr x 3 shifts, sometimes offset across positions for full coverage of shift transitions and breaks — often with rotation of shifts (unless someone requires a set shift to accommodate childcare or parental care) so no one works third shift year-round. People with kids often take the second or third shift over the summer months to reduce childcare costs. When I was a kid, some of my friends’ parents worked solely 2nd & 3rd shifts so they’d go to bed to one parent and wake up to the other. (This was during the dinosaur days so no one batted an eye at the gap when parents were transitioning on and off shift. I swear 100% of our parents would have been in trouble with CPS if we lived today with the norms we followed then.)

    6. Princesa Zelda*

      My brother is a stocker at a grocery store, and his position has 24/7 coverage. The way it’s arranged, there are three shifts: 6-3, 2-11, 10-7. Each shift gets an hour unpaid lunch with half the stockers taking lunch at one time, and overlaps with the shifts before and after so they can hand off. Most of the workers are PT, so OT doesn’t matter with them anyway, but even FT rarely ever brush up against OT.

  11. Corgi*

    I’m a manager in a dept that is led by 2 senior managers (Possum and Hippo) and us 3 managers and we have remote staff to manage. While both Possum and Hippo are on the same level, the job of directly managing us (ie coaching, holding reviews etc) is split with possum managing myself and one other manager, while Hippo manages Lemur. BUT b/c they are on the same level, we technically report to both of them. Hopefully this is clear enough.

    Ok so…we had new staff begin early last month. My coworker and I developed the training manual and shared it with the other managers. Each mgr is responsible for training their own staff member. On day 2 of the training, I had a meeting with my remote and the staff member for the other team was in the meeting as well. Pretty much the remaining training sessions included both of them.

    I went to talk to her manager, Lemur, and she said. “I had no idea. I don’t know who that is, I wasn’t here last week.” I told her OK but the new hires were announced in our weekly meeting earlier this week and you were there for that. She just said “no I wasn’t there.” (SHE WAS THERE!) She just kept playing it off as if she had no idea what was going on because she wasn’t there.

    tbh I was kind of shocked so I didn’t say anything and walked away. She later came up to me and said “okay so you’ll take care of her?” while I was in the middle of presenting (!) to the new team.

    I told Possum about this and he didn’t like it but b/c Lemur is under Hippo, he didn’t want to over step and for Hippo to do his job and actually manage her.

    And… Hippo did step in and basically fobbed it off on us. He said “oh I talked to Lemur and she doesn’t understand why Corgi didn’t set up the meeting links for her team as well.”

    Possum was LIVID about this. He was like “that’s not her fking job!” (not literally but that sentiment). This is the 3rd batch of new hires we’ve had, so that process where each manager is responsible for setting up their own team has NOT changed.

    The thing is that Lemur has taken so many days off, which is normally NOMB but now that I and others were left picking up the slack, Possum was getting frustrated by that AND Hippos lack of management. But Hippo won’t do much except throw it back to us. There’s other examples to back it up but this was pretty much the big one.

    Most recently, Lemur approached me and said “oh you set the new person up wrong.” I just pointed out that the new staff Member had confirmed their email address. I was nice as possibly be. But internally I said “at least I did your job for you. You’re welcome.” again….NOMB that she has time off but..come on, not even an acknowledgement and a complaint on top of that?

    I’m on vacation now, so I’m not as annoyed as I was whe this happened but, I’m not wrong to be annoyed at this right? FWIW most of my annoyance is directed at Hippo for not managing Lemir effectively.

    1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

      No, I think your annoyance is more than justified if a little futile (since even Possum can’t do anything about it)

      (I *adore* these uses of names BTW!)

      1. Corgi*

        Thank you! Possum has full authority to step in if he has to (just like Hippo can give me feedback if what I’m doing is affecting his team) but he doesn’t want to have to do Hippos job for him.

    2. Quinalla*

      Annoyance is justified. If something is going on with Lemur, then duties need to be properly delegated to others, Lemur and/or Hippo treating it like you or others messed up for not covering things that are supposed to be Lemur’s responsibility.

      Doesn’t sound like there is much you can do except keep bringing up with your boss so that none of this nonsense makes you look bad.

      1. Corgi*

        Thank goodness my boss is on my side on this. I’m annoyed @ lemur not for the PTO but taking it for granted.

        What makes it a little more frustrating for me anyways is that she has a very soft tone but professional. Whereas, I have a very non feminine voice and I try SO hard to have a nice, calm tone but no matter what I end up sounding rough or cross. It’s the sound equivalent of a RBF (ugh!) So anyone sees and they think I’m bullying her.

    3. Marthooh*

      Sounds like Lemur is gaslighting you. She may also be gaslighting Hippo. Document the everlovin’ stuff out of all your interactions with her — send follow-up emails, keep a log of weird stuff she does, keep your behavior with her completely professional. (Don’t keep a spreadsheet of her absences, though!)

    4. Myrin*

      I know this is not the main point of your story but I can’t get over the fact that Lemur said she wasn’t at that meeting when you saw her there.

      1. Corgi*

        *jumping up and down arms flailing about* YES EXACTLY!! And I’m the jerk for pointing it out!!!!

        She just kept shaking her head and saying no I was awaY. I pointed it out and she still said no. She denied knowing ANYTHING and kept saying she was on PTO the week prior. My grand boss was right there so I had to be calm.

  12. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    I was struggling with work motivation and was going to post in the New Year’s open thread… and by the time I’d written out the explanation of what was going on, I’d figured out an action plan.

    The key thing I remembered is that I can be strongly motivated by competing against my own metrics. I figured out a way to make a part of my job quantifiable and then started tracking it. It’s already helping. Also, writing out “I’m scared to talk to my boss” helped me get over my fear of talking to my boss, so I’m going to do that next week.

    So thanks, everyone, for the great advice you telepathically gave me. :)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      That right there is a big compliment to Alison. The whole point of an advice column is for people to learn–and you have internalized things well enough to start answering yourself.
      I’m not quite there, but I have had a couple of moments confronted with something unpleasant where my mind blanked and promptly rebooted with a big flashing “WWAS?” onscreen: What Would Alison Say? And I successfully channeled my inner Alison.

      1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

        I think that might be my New Year resolution for 2020 – channelling my inner Alison!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I think I got the idea best when I went through and binged on all the podcasts. Something about hearing tone of voice *really* does help.
          (Alison, if you happen to read this… if you have an occasional reason to do an occasional podcast, that would still be appreciated by me at least! Maybe tagteam with one of your podcasting blogger buddies to make it less onerous for you.)

      2. Killer Queen*

        This is so true. This advice column is so awesome. I am an HR Manager and a manager at my company came to me for advice on how to talk to a chronically absent employee (mostly to make sure she was following all labor laws in terms of pay and everything) and I realized the advice I was giving her was very Alison-esque. She is so awesome!

    2. Cartographical*

      My best friend and I do this all the time in Slack, it’s amazing how writing out what’s going on can clarify the steps you need to take — once you’ve learned how to problem-solve. I love that about this site, that it does teach great templates for deconstructing a problem and developing solutions. Congrats on internalizing it, would love to see your post-mortem on your own plans!

  13. Quaremie*

    Hi everyone, This is my first time posting here, but I love reading everyone’s questions and advice. I manage a team of about 25 people. I started three years ago with one person under me, and my team has grown rapidly.  Almost everyone is remote, spread across the country. Because some people are so far away, we do not have regular meetings on site. I’ve met them all in person, but for some of them, it was only once when they first started. We do have online meetings once a week, and we are in touch by emailon a daily basis. If there are any questions or problems, I work through them by email or phone calls. But for some of the high achievers, who create no waves and cause no problems and have few questions, we barely have reason to communicate one-on-one. I’ve spent the last six months reading throughall of these archives and I am committed to improving as a manager in 2020. For that reason, I have scheduled one on one meetings with everyone on my team over the next four weeks. I would like to discuss with them any questions, comments, concerns, ideas, goals, and career plans they would like to discuss. Some of them will take charge of the meeting and let me know all of the thoughts they have, but others will be quite quiet and I want to make sure that I maximize this time that I have scheduled with them. What do you think would be some good questions to have ready to ask them?   

    1. LilacLily*

      Not a question, but I recommend you prepare some scripts for each of your employees with things they recently did well (or super well!), and then congratulate them on a job well done. Also take a moment to think where you can see them improving overall and how they could go about it. That goes to your best employees too – I’d even say it is especially crucial you do that to your best employees – because when you’re a top employee it can be frustrating to sorta know you’re doing a good job but not being quite sure how exactly your job is good and how you can keep improving. And if you can’t find anything for them to work on, skills-wise, maybe think of giving them new assignments, or enroll them in training sessions they might be interested in that will further their career. Also, make sure to open the conversation for feedback to yourself as well; knowing what your team thinks of your work style can be helpful.

      I say this as an employee who had regular one-on-ones with my last boss and hated/dreaded them. He wouldn’t tell me what he thought about my work unless I asked him, and he always answered vaguely, like “oh yeah keep it up you’re doing great”, and never seemed open about receiving feedback himself. The one-on-ones were, mostly, a waste of time, and something he only started doing because HR made him do it.

      1. Quaremie*

        Thank you so much! It’s a great idea to be specific with their accomplishments and to go in with a plan. I’m definitely open to hearing feedback about my own style, but besides saying to them, “If there’s anything you want to let me know about how I can improve, I’m happy to hear it”, I’m not sure how best to let them know that I am open to their feedback and for them to know that I mean it. Thanks again!

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Some people (myself included) have a very, very difficult time giving feedback, even when it’s invited and apparently welcomed like this. An additional question you could ask them is, “Is there anything that gets in your way of you being able to do your job, that I could help with resolving?” So that gives them the opportunity to both think about enterprise roadblocks (“I don’t have XYZ that I need to do my job”) and manager-specific ones (“I’d love it if you could ABC or stop doing EFG”)

          Might make it easier for them to articulate their feedback.

        2. Cartographical*

          This is just me, and taking into account my own issues, but… Ask for that feedback in advance of the meeting! (Personally, I’ve always appreciated a boss who treated 1:1 meetings as “how we can work together/how I can help you get your job done” strategy sessions.) Encourage them to tell you what they think you’re doing right as well: what should I keep doing or do more often?

          Give them lead time to gather their thoughts and then schedule a point at which they can tell you all this — maybe right after you first review what they’re doing well and acknowledge any accomplishments they have (you can also give them some idea of what your meeting agenda is in advance).

          It might give a whole different tenor to your discussion of their process and what needs improving to find out up front that something not up to par is being impacted by something you can control. It could make any corrective discussion more collaborative. Also, it means they’re not walking out of the meeting wondering what their concerns have done to your relationship but it’s similarly not putting them on the spot at the opening. I hate when I’ve had to end a 1:1 with a boss or professor with “tell me what I can improve” because I’ll be in a weird limbo waiting to see if I said something wrong and it’s made me so frazzled, it’s almost embarrassing to admit.

          1. Mockingjay*

            Came to say the same about advance notice. Also, during the meeting, let them know it’s okay to provide a response later, after they’ve mulled the question over.

      2. Bootstrap Paradox*

        These suggestions from @LilacLily are right on. These are important leadership steps to take, and will show that you care about your employees & their contributions.

    2. Daisy Avalin*

      I’d start the first one on one meeting (especially with your top performers) by saying something like ‘I realise that we haven’t spoken very much about your performance because [it’s very good/you clearly know what you’re doing/whatever is relevant to the person you’re speaking to], so I’d like to know how you think you’re going, and what you’d like from me as your manager to help.’ Then go into goals/etc depending on what they say.

    3. Fikly*

      Especially for things like long term goals and career plans, a lot of people might not have an answer off the top of their head! I’d definitely let them know ahead of time that you want to talk about this so they have time to think about it.

      1. Grits McGee*

        Agreed! And if your employer has established professional development programs/resources, it might be helpful to include links to those so that your employees can get some ideas.

      2. LKW*

        This! What do they hope to accomplish that year, what are their short term/long term career goals and how do you help them get there?
        What kinds of work interest them and is there flexibility in the team structure to give them the experience?
        What are their strengths and how can you promote those strengths on the team?
        What are areas of development and how can you partner them with someone who is stronger in that area and build their skills?

      3. Quinalla*

        Yes, give them a brief agenda of what you want to talk with them about and what you expect them to bring to the meeting so they can prepare. I would of course come with questions as well to draw out some of the quieter ones, basically prompting what is on your agenda. I’d go over accomplishments and areas of improvement for the last year, any goals they set or that you set together, goals/things to work on for next year, what they need from you and what roadblocks they have, etc.

    4. TimeTravelR*

      I love that you want to do this. May I recommend you continue regular contact, especially with your high performers? It makes them feel valued. You know you don’t have to monitor them, but you need to tell them that, and having a regular one on one to hear what’s going on with them is a great way to show it.

    5. Anon 2*

      I am one of those quiet, remote employees who has few questions for my manager. I find scheduled one on ones to be painful. He says they’re for me, but they’re really for him. If I have an issue or question, I communicate in the moment (email, chat, etc.). The scheduled time is always so awkward. Employees need different amounts of attention. If they don’t have a lot to say, don’t force it and end the meeting early.

      1. WineNot*

        I do agree here that they are sometimes extremely awkward if you don’t much to talk about. But at least you know the time is there if there is something that has been bothering you, etc.

        1. Quaremie*

          Thank you, both. I do know that for some people this would not necessarily be what they’re looking for. And I am fine with ending the meeting earlier if that’s what they want. I just feel bad that some people get a lot more of my time and attention than others, and I want to make sure that they know they have an opening if there’s anything they want to talk about. Our weekly meetings are usually pretty painful, because I feel like I’m talking into the void… Everyone’s got their phones muted and it’s hard to draw people out into a big conversation or debate when you’re not in the same room together. I think some people may not like speaking up in that environment so I want to make sure that they have a more private venue.

    6. WineNot*

      I love that you’re going to implement one-on-ones in 2020. I’ve always had a lot of open communication with managers in scheduled one-on-ones and outside of scheduled time, though I was never remote. In my current job, I feel like I have to most to talk about and one-on-ones are not a thing and my managers barely ask me how I’m doing.

      So anyway, I hope they go well with your employees! I would ask them to come prepared with questions, feedback, goals etc, so they have an idea of the kind of things you’re hoping to talk about. It might be helpful to have a monthly or every other month check in to keep the communication flowing! Good luck!

    7. Fabulous*

      I have a 1:1 every couple weeks with my manager (our team is also remote) and aside from any pressing questions or updates, a lot of the time we just chat about life or how work is going in general. We also do “bullets” that we email every two weeks as well so she has a breakdown of our accomplishments. I do think it’s helpful to have sort of a rubric for these calls though so we’re not just sitting there with nothing to talk about – I’m glad you’re thinking ahead like that! As for what to include, I agree with LilacLily about writing out scripts or bullet points for job-well-done items and strategizing on little things they can work to improve (such as if they write long emails, maybe work on action writing or something, or if they show a propensity for streamlining processes they could start learning six sigma) and in subsequent calls help them build a plan to accomplish that.

      1. Quaremie*

        Thank you! I definitely have a relationship with a few of them where we could sit and chat about our lives for half of that time. At the same time, with a few others, I know absolutely nothing about their personal lives. I don’t even know if they are married or have kids. I feel weird asking, since it is unrelated to the job, and we don’t have casual conversations that allow those topics to come up. But the longer that goes on, the weirder I feel about knowing absolutely nothing about their lives. But maybe these one on ones will open the door to more casual conversation.

        Thank you for your comments!

    8. CM*

      My suggestion is to frame the conversation with high achievers like this:
      – I’m really happy that you work here. I know I can count on you for excellent work and I really appreciate your [specific strengths].
      – I want to make sure you’re happy to work here too, so I want to hear about how you’re feeling about your work and whether there is anything that would make you happier.

      And then you can go into your questions — I’d suggest starting with specific questions rather than open-ended “what are your plans.” Here are some:
      – What are your favorite and least favorite things about your current role?
      – Out of your current activities, are there any that you particularly like? Any you dislike?
      – Are there other types of opportunities you’d like to have, but haven’t yet? Any skills you’d like to develop?
      – Are there any obstacles in your way, or anything that frustrates you that you would like to see changed?
      – Does our current communication work for you? Is there anything you’d prefer?

      After asking specific questions, then you can go into the more open-ended “any concerns, ideas, goals, comments, plans that you want to share with me?” as long as you have let them know in advance that you’ll be asking about this. Also, in that advance notice, I would frame this as giving them the opportunity to share with you, but not requiring that they do so — some people don’t really have anything to say and will get anxious about that. You could say something like, “The purpose of this meeting is for us to be able to talk one-on-one about how work is going for you generally, rather than our usual meetings which are more task-focused. This is not a performance review — instead, I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas. Here are some questions that I’ll be asking: [list questions]. Please spend a few minutes thinking about these before we meet. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, ideas, goals, or career plans you would like to discuss, I’d like to hear about those too and will leave time for an open-ended discussion about anything you want to talk about.”

    9. Cartographical*

      This is just a footnote but as someone who has been a high performer/self-starter in some of my roles, I hated feeling invisible. I don’t mean not getting awards or anything like that, I mean the perpetual “compliment” of “Carto is so great bc I never have to think twice about them!”. In fact, I hated and still hate getting rewarded for doing things I am just supposed to do. Please invent a reward for “lowest blood pressure while being called a Nazi/profanity/etc.” or “fastest resolution of revenge porn/potential liability disasters/mandated reporting incidents” because that’s a real achievement.

      Yes, I got things done efficiently and correctly and my work was always excellent — but that didn’t mean I was always okay and didn’t need/want anything. It also made it feel that my position was entirely contingent on being an invisible asset and I never had a chance to ask for additional training or advancement unless I caught my boss between putting out the tire fires in the organization, which wasn’t often. I even had reviews cancelled/shortened bc “You’re good, right?”

      If you don’t give your rock stars space to not be rock stars, or use them to make up for the shortcomings of other employees, it sucks. No matter how great we are at the work, our kids get sick, our dog dies, our spouse cheats, our parents are bonkers, we get bored, we burn out, we get sick ourselves. No one should feel that not ever needing anything from their boss is a condition of their job, especially not when it’s provided to others. Even if we don’t need anything from you, it’s always nice to be asked and to get the same face time as everyone else.

    10. Mama Bear*

      Having been remote, either from my whole team or from my boss, this is huge and I’m glad you’re taking this step. It is easy to be forgotten when you’re not on-site and having routine meetings can be a good thing to ward off any surprises. I was once surprised with a mid-year that I didn’t know was going to be one and that was…unpleasant. I wish my boss had instead done what you plan to do. Further down in the comments was a suggestion to get to know them better as people – it’s hard from online, but try to read the room on that one. We had a guy who was VERY tight lipped about his life outside of the office and for whatever reason preferred to be a mystery. We let him be mysterious. Sometimes people compartmentalize and maybe that’s why you don’t know if they’re married or not.

      Good luck!

  14. easy apply is a curse*

    Does anyone have any tips and language for shearing away from emphasizing admin tasks and duties when I want to play up my organizational ability, can-do spirit of being able to use google and ability to handle a giant and diverse flood of tasks in my resume and cover letters?

    The thing I keep circling back to is that a big part of my (comms) job is internal events, which involve a ton of admin leg and keyboard work, and when I get loaned out even to big projects it’s for similar functions. My admin / pa work is only supposed to be 10% of my current job, but when I tote it up it looks like the majority of work. Any help and job search encouragement would be great. I’m looking to go into more external comms focused stuff, or basically anything where I spend more time writing, even if it is writing emails for hr to send out.

    1. Temperance*

      I wouldn’t highlight your ability to figure things out so much as the work you were hired to do. Can you also flag for your bosses that you’d like more A and B?

      1. easy apply is a curse*

        we’re a vanishingly tiny team and my boss is extremely helpless, besides having personal crisis after personal crisis. they couldn’t hire me full time before, and certainly not now with a global hiring freeze. i don’t get support and sometimes i’m not even sure my boss remembers i’m on contract (memorably boss said i get a bonus (in fte, up to 4 months extra) and i… don’t…)

        i get stuck on the ‘highlight accomplishments’- so many of my accomplishments are based on pulling off something medium with one person- ie myself.

    2. Katniss Evergreen*

      If you can say something to the effect of “I’ve got a knack for being the person behind the curtain, sending communications and making things happen while wearing many hats” in your cover letter, I feel like that does it. I would try to put numbers to any of that that you can for your resume and pick a particular example for your letter; for your last event, how many vendors/customers/colleagues did you coordinate with to get things done? Can you convert that into an average for the majority of internal events you work on?

      Sorry if I’m missing the mark here, but you so have my sympathies on trying to emphasize non-admin work when you have a different focus.

      1. easy apply is a curse*

        that’s good framing, i’ve been emphasizing the regional nature of my role to show that i pull a lot of strings to get things done, but i wonder if it comes across just how much any success i’ve had is down to having learnt how to push people into place to get cooperation.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alison’s suggests picking the accomplishments you WANT to emphasize. You don’t have to put any events accomplishments on your resume if you don’t want to be selected for it.
      I’d suggest including at least one of them simply because your references might think of your admin/pa work first. Find a way to work in the writing tasks even into this item so you make it clear that yep you’re good at two things, even if you’re looking for a job focusing on one of those things.
      Admin/advents oriented: “Planned and ran the week-long International Llama Lover’s Convention. Received a 4.5/5 approval rating from 200 attendees.”
      The part you love: “Planned publicity campaign. Wrote all convention handouts. Worked with contracted graphic designer on posters.”
      And your other achievements would focus on the 20% of your current job that you want to turn into 80% of your next job.
      It’s also worth talking to your manager in a one-on-one to make sure she knows you’d rather change that percentage on its head. That gives her a chance to try and shuffle workload — maybe simply say someone else’s name when she’s asked for help from another department for PA work. You don’t have to say you’re job hunting — just let her know it’s what you want to be focusing on. Not even managers are telepathic, and if we’re extremely professional about doing the unpleasant tasks assigned, only our words will let our managers know we find the tasks unpleasant.

  15. Sherm*

    Bouncing back from getting fired: No, I didn’t get fired, and I don’t appear to be in danger, but I still worry. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many updates were along the lines of “I got fired but found a new job.” I would have thought that getting fired would generally put you behind many of the applicants who weren’t. If you were fired and recovered without too much hardship, how did you do it? Did it come up in the interview? If so, what did you say? Thanks in advance.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Never fired but I’ll say I’ve never ever been asked if I’ve been fired before. So it doesn’t always come up for starters.

    2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      I’ve only ever been fired from tending bar. (A few times I escaped a job just ahead of the axe… but the “ahead” part is what’s important there.) It never came up in an interview.

    3. Ruth (UK)*

      I’ve never been officially fired but in the time between finishing uni and getting a full time job (which was initially retail for several years – it was 2012), I worked on a market stall and was paid cash-in-hand. This only worked out for a couple months and the stall-owner decided he didn’t want me anymore. Anyway, in this case I just left it off my CV.

      I’ve not ever been directly asked if I’ve ever been fired either. So I guess it would mainly cause a problem for someone who was fired from a company they worked at quite long term as it’s harder to just leave that off your work history. However, on the other hand, having worked somewhere long term increases the chances they may have mad more than one line manager in their time there, and/or know more people who might be able to give them a reference.

      I guess if someone was an overall weak performer and stayed somewhere for years and years until they finally got fired – that’s pretty hard to bounce back from! But if it’s either a short stay, or a long-term job where the issues that led up to being fired are more recent/immediate, then I suppose a person will still have colleagues/managers willing to vouch for their work in a job search.

    4. Asenath*

      Never fired, exactly, but if I hadn’t resigned I probably would have been – looking back, it was all terribly painful, but they did try to, um, ease me out, when it became obvious I wasn’t improving, rather than actually firing me. I was worried about this because although I eventually had some references from short-term contracts, that was obviously the job I held longest and the one that paid best, and an obvious source of references. So why did I leave, especially without something to go to? I decided on variations of “I’d been llama farming for some time and decided I wanted a change in direction. That’s why I (fill in “started a part-time education program”, “looked for a way to get into something new by taking contracts in alpaca herding” or whatever seems most relevant to the job I’m applying for). It worked for me. It probably helped that Former Job was notorious for being stressful, and for having people leave for different fields.

      1. Quill*

        Same deal, my stint at Pig Lab from Hell was so far my only salaried position and also my longest stay. However, sometimes I briefly go into “startups with no room for growth or increased pay,” or “I left for an opportunity that fell through,” (the opportunity: to never have to deal with my awful boss again! the fall through: needing to make some money even though I was living with my parents at the time,) if asked, since my boss talked me into writing it off as a resignation… and the unemployment people were incredibly nice about the situation when I applied for unemployment.

        Sometimes I’ll just smile and tell them that I wanted to get out of biosamples, if the job is sufficiently far removed from that field. And I did! I never want to take pork skin samples again!

        I guess if I was ever asked directly if I’d ever been fired, the truthful answer would be “kind of” considering the forced resignation thing.

    5. Thankful for AAM*

      I just came here to say, whatever you do, don’t lie! No one, I mean no one, gets fired from our job in a non profit, municipality run org. EXCEPT the person who lied when directly asked if they had ever been fired and they later found out they had been fired.

        1. Adric*

          Flat out lying on your resume, application or in an interview, is generally considered a pretty big strike against your integrity.

          Hiring is very trust based if you think about it. Very seldom does anyone really go out of their way to verify your application info. They might check your references, but all the information on your references came from you.

          In general there’s a lot of scope for shenanigans and if you take advantage of that, it’s looks really bad.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I’d agree. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up. Once I find out you’ve lied about this big thing, I no longer can believe anything you’ve said to me.

            And I understand the desperate lie of somebody who needs a job and wouldn’t lie about anything else; I’m not saying that this automatically means “if you lie about this, you’ve lied about everything.” The problem is that I can’t as a manager *tell* whether this is the only big thing you’ve lied about or not, and that I can’t trust you as I need to as a result.

        2. Artemesia*

          Irrelevant question. Falsifying your resume is a fireable offence. I know someone who claimed two batchelors degrees and was fired for lying although he had a double major and considered that two degrees. And yes I think the firing was ridiculous but it was in a high visibility role in a high visibility field. It had nothing to do with his competence in the job at all.

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            My university used to issue two physical diplomas to students who participated in certain dual-major programs.

          2. Just Another Manic Millie*

            I had a double major. My diploma shows that I had a double major. But I never in a million years would have said that I had two bachelor degrees.

            1. The New Wanderer*

              Same. The qualifications for receiving two degrees are different (involving more credits) than for getting a double major.

          3. Another JD*

            My double degree was 150 credits v. 120 for one degree with a double major. They are definitely different.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Mine was the same +30 credit requirement, and I received two diplomas at graduation.

          4. WellRed*

            My question is not irrelevant. Thank you everyone else for your replies. Makes sense why now.

    6. Lily Rowan*

      I’ve never been directly asked if I got fired, and the place that fired me agreed to call it a layoff anyway, but also, I went straight to grad school after getting fired (it was already my plan, just shifted the timing), so my resume all makes sense. When people ask me to walk through my resume in an interview, I just say, “I worked there, then I went to grad school, then I went to this other place…” I don’t lie, but I don’t get into it.

    7. WellRed*

      I’ve never been asked about it. It’s not ideal to not be in a current job, but they don’t brand your forehead as you’re cleaning out your desk. The interviewer presumably needs to fill a position, you are looking for a position to fill.

    8. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ages ago, I left a position from which I almost certainly would have been fired if I hadn’t quit. The environment was toxic and causing me so much anxiety that I kept screwing things up and was unable to do a good job. Some things I think helped me in the end:
      1. I was very professional about my exit from my toxic job, giving plenty of notice and saying things like “I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given while working here.”
      2. While I was quite young and this had been my first non-temp role, I had previous temp experience where I got a lot of praise for the work I did, so I was able to put bosses besides my current one as references.
      3. I didn’t have another job lined up when I left, but went back to good old temping again. This gave me yet MORE experience where (surprise surprise) with no toxic manager in place, I did very well. More good references, and even more recent than Toxic Manager.
      4. When I found myself in a long-term temp role that I really enjoyed, I asked my manager if there was a chance of it going permanent. She said that unfortunately, she had decided to leave the organization for another job–but she gave me a heads-up about an open position in another office of the same department that she thought would be good for me, and offered to give me a reference. That was what clinched it, I think.
      5. I did NOT list Toxic Manager as a reference. When asked why, I said straight out that I felt that my work at that company was not up to my usual par, and that it was an environment where I found it very hard to do my best. I said that my work at all my other positions was more indicative of my abilities, and my references from those positions backed me up on that. The fact that one of those references was from a colleague within the organization helped a lot, I think.

      So, overall: make sure you have GOOD work experiences and people who can attest to your abilities. Be honest. Be professional. No one ever asked me in the interviews if I had ever been fired (I hadn’t) or put on a PIP (I had). They hired me even without talking to Toxic Manager, and I’ve been here for over a decade now with several promotions, so…yeah, it can really work out.

      1. Quill*

        I don’t use Toxic Boss as a reference (and when people ask about confirming employment I usually tell them that he won’t ever get around to it [he won’t] but I have W2s) but my reviews for the last 2 jobs, aka the ones where I was finally on anxiety meds, have been pretty glowing.

    9. LadyByTheLake*

      Depends on why you got let go. First, no one has to know that you were fired, and if it does come up somehow, it can usually phrase it in a way that it doesn’t matter — I’ve been let go a few times but it was never a big deal. Once it was “I was hired to do llama grooming but the job changed to teapot painting, which is not my skill set.” Or “It wasn’t a good fit as I was a specialist and that company preferred that everyone be generalists” (this really happened). In other words, unless the firing was due to something really bad, there’s usually a way to frame it as a bad fit and the new job as a better fit.

    10. ThatGirl*

      So, I was fired in fall 2007. And it was over a mistake that was ultimately my responsibility. I still feel like I got thrown under the bus, but I understand why.

      I didn’t interview well for awhile – I didn’t have AAM to help me figure out what to say and every time the “why you left your last job” question came up it was awkward, even if I manage to avoid saying I’d been fired.

      I kinda lucked out in that my next real job, they didn’t ask me much about the one I’d been fired from; it was a contractor position and they knew if I turned out to be lousy they could get rid of me quickly. Instead I flourished there and was at that company for 9 years.

      But anyway. You don’t necessarily have to disclose that you’ve been fired. As others have said, it doesn’t often get directly asked. A friend of mine who’s in employment law told me that while I should not ever lie, I could spin it in whatever way I chose. Why did I leave that job? Well, newspapers are dying a slow death (true) and it just wasn’t the right fit for me anymore (true). Now, if they asked if I resigned or was terminated, that I had to answer directly. And I did have answers ready – to accept responsibility and said I’d learned from my mistakes, but also allude to the fact that it wasn’t entirely my fault without badmouthing that company. It takes practice and I had to say it out loud a lot to myself to get it to feel comfortable.

    11. Goldfinch*

      The only time I was asked if I was “fired” or “terminated for cause” was in a security check for a job in public education. Never for a corporate job.

    12. bassclefchick*

      Unfortunately, I’ve been fired more than once. One was 100% my fault (took a job in a panic because I had just been fired and got fired from new job in 6 months. Don’t do that.) The others? Both sides had fault. What I can say is, don’t lie. Some places ask up front in their online materials if you’ve been fired. And of those, SOME places will automatically reject you if you respond “yes”. Why? Not sure. I would think they would want someone who is honest about it over someone who will lie just to get through the online system. Now, I’m at a job I like and it’s been over 2 years. I just had to get out of my own head. I just handled it in the interviews by saying I wasn’t the right fit and I realized my mistakes and learned from them.

    13. Quill*

      I got fired once. The next job I got after didn’t ask, the one after that didn’t ask… current job didn’t ask “have you ever been fired?” they asked “Why did you leave company x?” and I truthfully answered that my position had changed on me 4 times in 2 years and it was a bad fit without a lot of training.

      (I mean. At the point I got fired a pork themed re-enactment of the Cod resignation was a possibility, but at least I got unemployment when I got fired over not answering my phone immediately about a shipping mistake I made because I never got proper training on a day I was off work…)

      Some day I will be able to comfortably one up a coworker with “yeah, I got fired once from a place that tried to run a biosample lab with sinks powered by sump pumps and didn’t have vent hoods for volatile chemicals, I think I can handle this minor equipment malfunction.”

      (The sump pumps DID overflow with pork biosample bits. This occurred over 6 months before I was fired. For some reason I stayed.)

    14. Sleepy*

      My husband was basically fired, though it was technically an angry layoff so he didn’t have to tell anyone. (However, a lot of people suspected it when he couldn’t give his former boss as a reference.) It sucked and he was set back in his career, his salary, etc. However, he needed to get out of Old Job and five years later he’s doing great. Plus he learned something I think he needed to learn about keeping your boss happy even if you don’t agree with them.

      1. Jeffrey Deutsch*

        I’m sorry your husband (and you!) had to go through that. And good point about the lesson: Unfortunately sometimes we have to personally please our bosses, not just do the job well.

        Many if not most layoffs are really firings. Assuming for the sake of argument that when a company says they had to lose, say, 10% of its workforce they really did…I assure you they did not pick names out of a hat until they got to 10%.

        Certain layoffs due to the company, a particular division or a particular location closing or a contract being cancelled/completed — or strict procedures based on predetermined criteria (generally seniority “last hired first fired”) — are one thing. (Even then, except for the company itself going belly-up you need to prepare to explain why they didn’t find a new spot for you. The above-mentioned strict procedures commonly also include provisions for “bumping” other works with less seniority, at lower levels, etc.)

        But otherwise, people — likely including your immediate boss — decided that you had to go:

        https://hbr.org/2013/10/keep-your-name-off-that-layoff-list

        PS: A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study showed that employers understand very well the difference between types of layoffs. People selectively laid off had longer job searches culminating in lower-paying new jobs.

        (And without correcting for the fact that some non-selective layoffs were plant closings, each of whose workers suddenly had to compete with many others for now much fewer job openings.)

        https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3442782/Katz_LayoffsLemons.pdf

    15. Spreadsheets and Books*

      Got kinda fired in kind of a mutual “this isn’t working” thing. I wasn’t sorry to see that job go – it was quite toxic – but I was definitely worried about the ramifications of getting fired. I was assured on my way out that when questioned, the company will only verify employment and nothing else. So, I rolled the dice and have never stated I was fired. The company has been true to their word and has even stated that rehire is dependent on circumstances when asked, so it’s never come back to bite me. That job was so long ago now that it won’t need to be listed on background checks.

      I was a student at the time, so I just said I left because the position no longer worked with my schedule. I found an internship a few months later that led to a full-time offer. It’s never held me back.

    16. Zephy*

      The only job I’ve been fired from is one that I can now happily leave off my resume (very short stint, let go during probation period for poor culture fit), but I guess maybe if I take another run at a government job it would have to come up. In that case, just what I said above seems sufficient – I was let go within the probation period because it was a poor fit.

    17. Blueberry*

      I was fired because of a mistake I made. Here, I will say that quite a few people at that job had it out for me to begin with, including my boss’s #2, and I could have been cut some slack and wasn’t. But I never said that in my interviews or to my current coworkers.

      After reading extensively on AAM, and with some help from people in my life, I turned the reason I was fired into a mildly funny story of a learning experience. I don’t know if it’s the region where I live, but in most interviews I was asked if I’d been fired, and I told the story, emphasizing what I did to learn from and not repeat the mistake, and my understanding of its seriousness, but in an amusing way. For the jobs I was not offered I don’t think the firing was why, and eventually I was offered a job and happily took it.

    18. Adlib*

      I’ve been fired before. (Still don’t know exactly why – they never said. After 5 years, “it’s not working out”.) Anyway, the next job I got asked me why I left, and I told them what happened, but that I learned from it (in more detail than that). I think it helped that I was entering an industry that doesn’t really care about that anyway for one reason or another. I’ve always been asked why I’m leaving or have left a previous job.

    19. AJK*

      I’ve done it twice. It was not fun. The second time I was so sure I’d never find another job I ended up seeing a therapist for a few weeks. I cried after I went to my first interview after the firing because, even though I hadn’t put my previous boss as a reference, the hiring manager knew him and asked if she could call him, and I didn’t feel like I could say no. I went home and cried (and went to my next therapy appointment and cried) and a week later I got the call telling me I got the job. I don’t know what previous boss said – although I knew at the time that it wasn’t his choice to let me go, I still figured he’d give me a negative reference – but it can’t have been that bad, I guess!
      The first time I was similarly anxious and afraid – I’d been fired after four years at my job. I came up with an answer to the “why did you leave” question that was truthful but not “I got fired,” I said the skills required for the job had changed over the years and my skills were no longer a good fit for the position. I also had decent references from jobs before that, but the 1st job after the firing was a temp admin assistant earning barely more than minimum wage so I think they were just happy to get someone. Within a month I was given a raise and within four months I’d been promoted so it all worked out for the best, and after that I never had to bring it up again.
      But I hate the stigma that goes along with being fired, and I hate that I can’t say no to that question anymore. The reason I went to therapy after the second time was because I was considering suicide and I scared myself badly enough to go get help. Both firings were related to “fit” reasons and almost certainly connected to my ADHD – I was never even put on any sort of PIP and I got unemployment both times because I hadn’t committed any kind of employment misconduct, so perhaps that helped. But it was also terribly demoralizing because I’d worked really hard at both jobs – the second one especially, I don’t think I’ve ever worked that hard in my life, and for that to happen anyway… but each I was back to work within about a month. But I’d never want to repeat it, and I wish the stigma surrounding “being fired” wasn’t as bad as it is, because I was getting ready to make plans to jump off of a bridge and I mean that literally, that’s why I ended up calling the mental health crisis line and getting help through a therapist. Even now, I’m not over either experience and I’ve been to therapy off and on ever since, and my work-related anxiety can shoot through the roof at times. I was very lucky to have “bounced back” as well as I did but it was brutal.

    20. we're basically gods*

      My dad was fired once. He’d admittedly already given his notice with a new job lined up, and so he had given up on subtlety with his frustrations with the job he was leaving. (Dad’s boss had hired his own son to work IT, except the son was completely incompetent and also refused to accept any mentoring– I’ve worked with my dad in a batch of interns before, and he’s not the sort to just leave you hanging if he thinks he can help, whether you’re an intern or a fellow senior engineer).
      I think it worked out pretty well for him because if someone asked about the job, he could honestly explain why he was fired, which wasn’t due to any failure of performance on his part.
      (I was in high school at the time, and he was delighted when he came to pick me up after theater. It was his first time being fired, and it was the Wednesday of his last week of work, so he effectively wound up with a lovely long weekend.)

    21. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      How do you suggest handling it if the firing came mainly from a personality conflict with your boss or one or more of your co-workers?

      Bonus question: What if, even after discussing the situation with professionals (like career counselors and mentors) you decide that the others were mostly or totally in the wrong? Say your boss or peers did something over the top, you stood up for yourself professionally and got punished with a pink slip. What, if anything, can you say you learned from the experience and how would you describe the situation?

      1. Close Bracket*

        I was very honest in an interview once about developing conflicts with a new boss. I didn’t frame it as “they were definitely wrong” (though they were–it was a ridiculously petty power grab that could have been handled in a way that got both of us what we wanted). The person I was talking to was really understanding and was basically like, “we’ve all been there.” That was a crap shoot, though, you never know who you are talking to or what their take is going to be. And I didn’t get an offer, which could have been for any reason, but I can’t prove that my candor wasn’t the deciding factor.

        If you can state what the disagreement was about objectively and frame it as a disagreement over direction or a change in your job duties or basically anything other than a personality conflict, try that. So I could have said something like, “I was leading the llama grooming function, which was intended to be a two year role, at most, with a gradual phase out into other duties. Then my management changed; the new manager wanted an all new team and hired a new head llama groomer to replace me without defining new duties for me. I found new duties on my own, but it wasn’t technical work, and I’m really looking for technical work.”

    22. Just Another Manic Millie*

      I was fired from a job after I had been there for eight weeks (before I finished the three-month probation period). The employee handbook said that since I was fired before my probation was finished, I was ineligible for rehire by any of the company’s branch offices, and the branch manager made it a point to tell me that if anyone calling for a reference would be told that I had been fired and was ineligible for rehire. I solved the problem by not listing that job on my resume.

      Many years later, when filling out a job application for the FDIC, I came across the question “Did you quit a job to avoid being fired in the past ten years?” This shook me up very badly, because almost twelve years prior, I had quit a job when I found out that the company had placed a help wanted ad in the newspaper for my job. However, as I said, the FDIC was asking only about the past ten years, so I had no problem writing “no.” But I was so happy that the interviewer hadn’t asked me that, because the question upset me very much, and I’m sure that if I had said no, the interviewer would have been certain that I was lying. And I know that I would have flunked a lie-detector test if I had been asked that.

      1. Ace in the Hole*

        For what it’s worth, my understanding of the “did you quit to avoid being fired” question is more about cases where you’re outright told you’re going to be let go one way or another, and you take the option to resign vs being fired. In your case you may have suspected they wanted to replace you, but since nobody actually said anything about it to you it’s no different than leaving a job for any other reason.

    23. Leela*

      I’ve been fired but a huge part of it was that there were numerous things I was asked to do that were unethical/illegal. I said no multiple times and finally they fired from me. The way I say this in interviews (and I’m lucky; this wasn’t long enough to be on my resume so I’m not ratting anyone out in a way that I feel would worry interviewers if it was say, my last job which lasted 10 years) is “I was asked to do several things that I wasn’t comfortable with and let them know, they’d asked me a few times and I came back with my case and finally we agreed that it wasn’t a good fit” and I let them probe into that if they want (they usually do, at that point I feel I’ve been coy enough that I can professionally touch on some of the things without giving too many details).

      If anyone’s curious, here’s some things I was either told to do and said no or forced to do while a supervisor stood over me:
      -Prioritize candidates with white-sounding names and discard those with other names so there was less risk of calling someone who needed a visa
      -Call people we wanted to interview, but hadn’t applied to us, at 6 in the morning so we’d be sure to catch them first thing. Also stay late and call them at 10 PM to catch them at home.
      -Give up the work e-mails of friends I was close to from my last job to senior recruiters so they could reach out to them and go “Hey, I know Leela! Soooooooo here are some great candidates you should take a look at and pay us for finding…”
      -Found an AWESOME candidate for a role we were hiring for, but he didn’t apply, wasn’t looking, and wouldn’t return our calls. My supervisor made me, on the spot, use his personal website info track down his wife (she had a website that he linked to) and try to get her to get him to contact us for opportunities. He was notably furious and called in to chew us out; I was blamed for not roping him in on that call
      -Lie to a candidate about what the tech test was (we told him it was our own personal tech test that we used, I told him that because I didn’t know at the time that it was a lie, but it turns out it was X company’s test and he’d already taken it because he was already in interview stages with them. He wrote us back right after to be like “so I did the test but I already knew all the answers because I took this test two days ago. Is this for X company?”
      -discard any candidates who appeared to be over 25 for Major Online Retailer because they tended to hire younger. I see the sense in this one actually because honestly they did tend to hire more younger people, but this would be like “oh she doesn’t list her graduation year so she’s probably fifty so don’t even reach out”
      -Lie to candidates about whether jobs were full time or contract, lie to candidates about whether a contract had the potential to become fulltime (we were always told to say yes because “who knows, they might!”, lie to companies about whether a candidate they were going to interview was interested in full time or part time work
      -Convince candidates, using extremely vague and misleading language, that they were a perfect fit for a given job when the truth is they were just close enough to probably get hired and the company would get some quick cash as a recruiter’s fee
      -go onto glassdoor and leave a super positive review…on my FIRST DAY. It was heavily hinted I should not disclose that it was my first day, nor that I was asked to write this

    24. Ladybugger*

      I got fired once and I just never offered that information in my job search – it helped that I’d only been there 2.5 months so it wasn’t like I had to account for a huge gap. If it’s a short stay, treat it the same as any other short stay and leave it off your resume altogether. No one ever asked. (It would have been a tricky one to explain because ‘everything about this place was absolutely bonkers from day one and this firing was just another crazeballs thing’ is not really an answer you can give in an interview.)

    25. DrRat*

      So – I never expected that I would get fired multiple times in my life, plus living through some layoffs. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world! As other commenters have noted, it is actually fairly rare these days that someone asks in person or an application asks if you have ever been fired. (And unless it’s for egregious conduct, most companies will now call it a layoff, not fired for cause.) Most question “why you left your last job” and expect some spin. “I was looking for zig, and the company was moving in zag direction” or “there was no opportunity to move up within the company.” The biggest red flag they are looking for is people dumb enough to trash talk their old company. Even if asked if I was ever fired, I could easily say, “Well, when I was in college, I was waiting tables at a restaurant, and one day they just told me I was fired. The restaurant actually went under shortly after that.” And no one ever asked, “Oh, well, other than that, were you ever fired?” My biggest career black mark shows up on Google, but it’s from 20 years ago so now you have to do an intensive search to find it. I lived, I learned, I moved to a new field. I think the biggest trouble people have bouncing back is when they get fired for doing something spectacularly stupid (you know, like bankers dressing up as ISIS and holding a mock execution) and it’s going to be the first thing people see on Google forever. So – watch your back with social media, and even if you get fired, you’ll survive!

  16. Mkt*

    How to broach conversation with my interim manager (aka grandboss) that I’m burned out in my role, need a change and would like to apply to other internal departments? — It’s company policy that I need current manager’s blessing before even applying on any vacancy otherwise it looks a lot worse for me.

    I am also applying to jobs at other companies, but would prefer to stay at current, if possible. I’ve been here +13 years and have good vacation, benefits, etc plus I’ve built up internal contacts and currency I’d rather not completely lose.

    Truth is- I don’t want to keep reporting to grandboss because I don’t respect the way they’ve handled this department and how they clearly play favorites amongst direct reports. But since I can’t quite say that, what should I say instead?

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      Is there some reason you can’t say “I’m burned out in my role, need a change and would like to apply to other internal departments”? That seems totally legit to me.

      1. Lisa*

        Agree. ‘I want a change and want to try new things’ is a valid reason to look for a nee job. If there is a specific dept that interests you, you can say you have become interested in what they do.

        1. Mid*

          Yup. That’s my suggestion. “I’m looking for a new challenge/to expand X skill with Y projects on Z team/explore a new direction”

          1. WantonSeedStitch*

            This, especially. I think that if you can have specifics about what you want to do/what kinds of roles or departments are interesting to you, it sounds more like “I’m running TO something” than “I’m running AWAY FROM something.”

      2. Tyche*

        I think it’s better not talking about being burned out, because it can open some difficult questions from the boss and maybe some criticism (even if unjustified).
        It would be better to open with your need for a change or a challenge and your desire to broaden your abilities.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          I wouldn’t mention anything about the burnout either because if grandboss decides to be petty, he can torpedo your chance(s) for escape to an internal department by telling the hiring manager(s) that you get easily overwhelmed, can’t handle stress, and/or just aren’t very good at your job/wouldn’t be good at their role. Stick to the looking for new challenges bit since you’ve been there 13 years, which makes that explanation actually plausible.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yes, this. And emphasize that you want to stick with the company (even though you’re willing to leave… they don’t need to know that part).

        3. Sunflower*

          I agree with this- mostly because your boss will probably try to see how they can keep you if you include burnout, they may be able to fix your workload but that doesn’t sound like it would fix your problem. You’ve been there for long enough that if your boss is a reasonable person, he should be encouraging.

          1. Mkt*

            Thank you, I think you highlight the fear I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Even if the volume of work were to miraculously lessen, due to other reasons I would still want to leave.

      3. Mkt*

        Thank you, you make it seem so simple. Maybe it’s the burnout speaking that putting together that sentence seemed so overwhelming.

    2. Eleaner*

      Go with your gut on how much you trust him with, because I would not trust my boss to listen if I used that phrase, he’d attempt to fix the situation or explain why he doesn’t see why I should be burned out.

      I’d reframe to what you like about the new department plus the I like working at this company. ie I’d really like to develop my skills more in the handles department, I’m looking for something new to dig into like the lids engineers. IDK what rings true for you, but latch onto what part will make you happier and hopefully your grandboss can see you’re truly interested.

      1. Mkt*

        Thank you, I don’t quite trust boss and that’s why I’m so hesitant in having the conversation. I can almost hear them saying comments about why working 12+ hours a day is reasonable and why we should be prioritizing work over personal life, etc. (No thanks)

        Good point on reframing to what would be positive for me and try to approach from that angle.

    3. Cartographical*

      My partner used wording along the lines of: “I’m very committed to Company X but would also like to diversify my work experience since I’ve been in this area so long. I feel that my institutional knowledge would be a support asset in Area Y or Z and I’ve led Projects A, B, and C, which give me applicable experience. I’d really appreciate your support for this move.” They’ve been with Company X for 30 years but have had three discrete jobs in that time (outside of moving into management roles or restructuring in a department), each lateral or higher in position. It’s very much the norm in their company culture, fortunately.

  17. WhatsHappenin*

    How would you deal with a coworker who asks questions in an obfuscate manner (either intentionally or unintentionally) but then sternly says, “that’s not what I asked” when you give them the answer? I’m clearly confused by how they are asking the question, but giving my best guess.

    1. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      “Sorry, can you clarify what you mean by ABC?”
      “Just to make sure I understand, it sounds to me like you’re asking XYZ—is that right?”

      1. WhatsHappenin*

        I think I tried this approach and that led to a very long drawn out, confusing whiteboarding session. But seems like there might not be any other solutions.

        1. Llama Wrangler*

          Did the second option (saying back their question to them) also result in the whiteboarding session?

    2. Eccentric Smurf*

      If I don’t understand the question, I ask for clarification before answering. I work with a few people who phrase things oddly at times and asking follow-up questions is only way to ensure we’re having the same conversation.

      1. WhatsHappenin*

        The problem is I don’t know I don’t understand the question until she comes at me with “that’s not what I’m asking.”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Try rephrasing the question you think they’re asking. “So, you’re what’s the difference between X and Y?”

        2. KayDeeAye*

          If you are having this much of a problem understanding her, I’d recommend asking for clarification routinely. I mean, maybe not every time she asks something, but everything she asks something about which there is any possibility of confusion.

        3. Eccentric Smurf*

          Rephrasing the question before answering might help. For example:

          Her: Where is the template for TPS reports?
          You: You’re looking for the template we use for documenting new Testing Procedure Specifications?
          Her: No! Grandboss sent a memo last week about the new format for weekly QA reports.
          You: Oh, you need the new template for the weekly QA testing reports…
          Her: Yeah. Where is that?

    3. BRR*

      I don’t know if this would help in your specific scenario but I have a coworker that I circle back with. “Hey can i Finish this one thing and be by your office in a second?” But this is because I don’t think they always have formulated their specific question and this lets them focus their thoughts from the big picture to their actual question.

    4. Princesa Zelda*

      Not exactly the same, but I deal with patrons who don’t know what to ask for all the time and have got a script for that; maybe it can be adapted?

      Patron: Do you, y’know, pogroms? And school?
      Me: Are you looking for information about schools?
      Patron: No, that’s not what I asked. POG. ROMS.
      Me: What do you mean by pogroms?
      Patron: Y’know, app things!
      Me: Are you looking for a programming class?

      Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions! If they were being clear about their initial question, they wouldn’t need all these clarifications and follow-ups. :)

    5. LKW*

      I say “Can you rephrase the question as if I’m 10 years old?” or I’ll ask them to use fewer pronouns and more formal nouns. Of course there’s the danger that it feeds into this person’s ego that you are asking them to simplify it to that level but if they can’t communicate their needs accurately, they are the ones with the problem. I also say “I’ve yet to master ESP, so I can’t read your mind. The onus of communicating your needs remains with you, not me.”

      There’s that quote by Einstein (paraphrasing here) where if you can’t manage a simple explanation for something very complicated, then you don’t really understand it yourself.

    6. Approval is optional*

      Are they a peer or above you? For a peer, I’d respond to the admonition with something along the lines of, ‘Then you need to phrase your questions better, so it’s clear what you’re actually asking’, followed up on subsequent occasions with, ‘As I’ve said before, you need to make sure your question makes sense before you ask it’. There is no reason why you should be taking the ‘blame’ for their inability/refusal to ask clear questions, or putting up with their sternness (some nerve!).
      If they are up-line from you, a more tactful, ‘We seem to have a mismatch in communication styles. Would it be possible for you to write your questions more like X than Y? (or whatever you need to be done differently’.
      I guess if you’re a nice person (I’m old, crabby, and no longer prepared to take crap from people, but YMMV), you could use the more tactful wording with a peer too. :)

    7. Quinalla*

      I had a boss during one of my summer internships in college who would ask questions confusingly and give unclear directions. I just asked clarifying questions until I was sure we were on the same page. He yelled at me and acted like I was being stupid, but at the end of the summer praised me for “standing up to him” and “not backing down”. So I think it was part his own personality, but part an almost test of sorts. It was weird, but I’d just keep clarifying and letting the rudeness roll off your back or if it gets too much, feel free to address it something like “I’m making sure I understand your question.” or “In the past when you ask questions, it hasn’t been clear what you are asking, I’m trying to save us both time by clarifying.”

    8. Argh!*

      Is this coworker from the Midwest? Or are you from the Midwest?

      Google indirect communication University of Iowa — they have a great explanation of how Midwesterners are inscrutible to the rest of us.

    9. fposte*

      Since this keeps happening and apparently you don’t realize it at the time so can’t correct, is it worth a conversation about the problem itself? “Taylor, it seems like we have trouble finding a wavelength when you ask me questions–I think I’ve understood but it turns out I haven’t, which is frustrating for both of us. Could we work together to solve this? Do you have any thoughts?”

      If the response is “You just need to listen better” then I think you can safely consider it their problem and stick to the repeating the question back then answering it method. But maybe they’ll actually contribute, and that would help both communication and any underlying relationship friction.

    10. Cartographical*

      This is in a personal relationship but:

      * time: let me get back to you, followed by…
      * shifting communication method: can you email it to me?
      * rephrasing: so, you need to know the impact of change X on event Y?
      * context: can you give me some context for this problem?
      * end game: how is this answer going to be used? what are you trying to achieve here?

      also:
      * honesty: when I answer your questions, you often tell me I’m not giving you the information you need, am I missing something?
      * observation: are they anxious? distracted? lacking a certain skill set common across questions? asking you when they could get the better answer from someone else? is taking questions to you a delaying tactic or a sign of being ill-prepared for the work?
      * more context: is it really your job to be answering these questions? if not, whose job is it?
      * reflection: are the questions the result of you communicating information in a way that leaves these things open to questions? are there other patterns in your interactions that might make this more clear? have you checked with other colleagues to see if they’re getting what they need from your interactions?

      Try not to take it personally, though it’s hard. I’ve been in a long term relationship with someone who’s terrible at asking questions or bringing up problems, often they have no idea what information they need when they first ask and it’s only after my answer eliminates some of the possibilities that they narrow down the real issue. It’s maddening and a waste of my bandwidth but when I stopped jumping to find the answers, I discovered that half the time they’d work it out themselves and many of their questions were coming from a place of not owning their own knowledge/being anxious. If you’ve checked with others and they’re satisfied with your interactions, then mark this one down as “them, not you”, focusing on minimizing the impact on your time.

    11. Nom de Plume*

      Do you HAVE to answer every one of their questions? As in, are you training them, or is it your job to field their questions? If not, given their response when you ask for clarification, I’d lean towards not answering their questions at all. Can you direct them to someone else? As in, “Gosh, that’s a good question! Try asking Sally!”

      And your comment on the long confusing whiteboard session made me think of something. Do they answer their own question after such a session? Maybe they are visual thinkers and external processors and really just need someone to bounce ideas off of. So as the bouncee, your job is to listen and pay attention, and maybe ask small clarifying questions along the way while they organize their thought process. It might feel like you’re not helping at all, but having to explain it to someone (even badly) helps some people figure out a path forward.

    12. Krabby*

      My old manager did this all the time and it was so frustrating!

      What I found worked was responding to the request with, “Excellent. I’ll start looking into how we can (insert a rephrase of the question) today and have an answer for you by tomorrow.”

      As long as my response came back to her quickly, I’d either get a, “Thanks” or, “I’m actually looking for X, thanks for your help.” That said, I think I would have been much firmer if the person was a peer instead of my manager.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      I’d love to see some examples even if they are vague restructuring of the original questions.

      I had a cohort that I just gave up on. I have never seen anything like this before. He would tell me, “We will keep the baby chicks here. ” And with that I was supposed to be informed that I needed to walk the llamas on a leash every day a noon. I tried repeating back, “But you just said we would keep the baby chicks here.” And he would get angry and say, “NO, that is NOT what I just said. I just said, ‘We will keep the baby chicks here.'” He had no idea why I did not understand I should walk the llamas at noon.
      I think we were in an alternate universe or something.

      When your cohort tells you that is not what they asked, perhaps you can say, “You know this comes up often enough that perhaps I am not the best person for you to be asking. Perhaps you should check in with other people instead of me.”

      Do stand firm when they say “that is not what I asked.”
      You: You asked me how many widgets we made this year and I answered with how many widgets we made this year. What is the question you would like me to answer?

      OR
      Hold your body position steady, do not change position as if to start to look for their answer. Then restate the question, “So you need to know how many widgets we have made so far this year?” The key here is let your body language show that you are not going to search for anything until you clearly understand the question.

      I would definitely stop guessing at what they want. You could just go with, “When you have a clear question about what you need, I will get you that answer.” And then you can just continue working while they stand there for a moment. Don’t be afraid of that preemptive strike. it’s their discomfort to wear, not YOURS.

      You: [listen to their question and you are not sure what they are asking] I am not sure what you are asking, can you reframe/shorten/be more to the point?

      These people do exist. The next time I saw this it was with a prof. omg.
      Her: “I said the sky is blue!”
      Me: “Okay so you are saying the sky is blue.”
      Her: “NO! That is NOT what I said! I said the sky is blue!”

      She had a degree in psychology. I wondered if she was running a test on me for one of her papers she wanted to write.

    14. Lilysparrow*

      Some people don’t actually know what they want unless they have something to say “no” to.

      If the various methods of clarification don’t work, maybe you could consider your first answer to be a “throwaway” that is just part of her process for clarifying her thinking.

      You can push back against the rudeness, though. “There’s no reason to use that tone. I’m literally answering the question you asked. If that’s not the information you really need, I’ll be happy to work with you until we find it.”

  18. Wannabe Citizen DS*

    In my new role, I’ll have to develop the skills of a citizen data scientist. Do you have some resources to understand what these skills are (still investigating internally with my boss) and some blogs/books/courses that you’ve found useful?

        1. still asleep*

          I’ve just dipped my toe into R, but I wanna shout out the SWIRL for helping me a lot.

            1. Wannabe Citizen DS*

              Wow, this does look great! I did a bit of R in grad school so my very memories paired with SWIRL should be a great way to start.

    1. LKW*

      Have you checked out any local citizen scientist groups and asked that question on their forums?

    2. Quill*

      Without knowing the exact field I’m not sure, but look into what nonprofit citizen science programs in your field are using in terms of courses they’re connected to at colleges, their dataset programs, their reporting and observation system.

      If it was conservation / animal or plant biology, for example, I’d strongly suggest familiarizing yourself with iNaturalist, if it’s going to be more geographic work with AGS (American Geographic Society) datasets and their website. (Or, if not in the US, an equivalent in your own country.)

      You may need more programming than VBA, but I don’t know which. I’d recommend against taking a course in a specific software until you know which one you’re going to use most.

    3. Raia*

      Whats the title/a comparable title for your new role? I want to become a data scientist but I’m currently in data analyst role and looking into these developmental roles

      1. Wannabe Citizen DS*

        I’m actually in the Learning and Development department of a software company so my title doesn’t reflect the need for DS skills.
        I will be doing trainings to customers on how to work with our software and how to manipulate data with it. Many of them are domain experts (engineers in different industries) and have some knowledge of Python, dashboarding etc., and I’ll have to be able to work with them.
        At my company, we don’t have data analysts but I thought that is a step before data scientist (we have a whole department of DS with varying degrees of experience in coding and with the different tools).
        Good luck with the transition!

  19. MsPantaloons*

    I’m job hunting with weird timing issues and need advice! I was laid off in December when the small start up I worked for went belly up. I had been there 6 months and in my previous job 5 years.

    My partner is finishing a PhD this spring and on the academic job market. If we get lucky, they’ll get a job in another state this summer. There’s probably a 20%+ chance they get nothing this summer and they stay put another year (on dark days it feels more like 80% chance they get nothing…)

    So here I am job hunting with a likely move in my future.

    1. Am I right that I can’t in good conscience go through normal applications/interviews without telling them my situation? I am in an industry where remote work is not uncommon and I would hope to take the job with me in 6 months. FWIW I’m a high performer and have always gotten outstanding reviews. If I did “spring it” on them if/when we confirm a move, there’s a good chance I’d be offered the opportunity to transition to remote, but this is obviously company specific and I would feel dishonest about it.
    2. If I do need to lay it all out there, at what stage would I do it?
    3. Would you seriously consider someone in these circumstances or be mildly annoyed that they’re wasting your time?

    I’m starting to think that contract/freelance work is my only good option. Frustratingly the areas where I’m marketable for freelance work are more technical and less interesting to me than the FT roles I’ve been seeing.

    1. BRR*

      I think you should apply anyways. The academic job market is way too competitive to put this much effort into planning on moving in six months. If your partner doesn’t have interviews at this point in the academic hiring cycle, I would definitely go ahead and apply.

    2. Colette*

      You don’t know if or when you’re moving … I’d apply anyway. You can’t put your life on hold waiting for something that may not happen on your ideal timeframe.

    3. Reba*

      Definitely apply. Searches can take a while, and if you only start in 3 months or 6 months, I think you’d regret it.

      Try to take the ‘good conscience’ framing out of your mind! You almost certainly won’t be talking about your partner in interviews so you won’t need to feel like you are lying when you don’t mention their possible job.

      This might sound negative, but it helped me… you and your partner both need to plan for if they don’t get an AC job this year. I don’t know the field of course, but i think that’s more likely than not. I think you should proceed as if there’s no job, and let it be a happy surprise if he does get a job necessitating a move. Good luck!

    4. NJBi*

      Apply anyway in case your partner doesn’t get a job this cycle. Just like others are saying, the academic job market is too tight right now to make decisions based on the assumption that your partner will get a job in one round. Especially if you’re the higher earner, which I would assume you are if your partner is in grad school, you don’t want to risk an extended period without the more interesting, probably more stable and more lucrative, more skills-building FT work.

      I wouldn’t mention your potential move to employers until you’re hired, either–the employer won’t necessarily understand the level of uncertainty in the academic market. After you’re hired, if there’s significant movement in your partner’s search/you’re able to confirm the move, you can start talking to them about potentially working remotely. I don’t see this as any more “dishonest” than job searching while trying to get pregnant–which is to say, not dishonest at all!

      (My perspective is as someone currently in the workforce who is currently waiting on PhD program admission responses, with a partner who works in a field other than academia.)

    5. Mad Woman*

      Apply anyway. Do not say a word about your situation. I was in the same boat, disclosed my situation (we’d be moving in X time due to partner’s degree- longer than your situation) and was treated terribly when I worked there. I was in a client-facing role and the owners would openly tell clients “Well, we don’t know how long she’s going to be here.” Many of my contributions were just blown off and I was treated more like an administrative assistant than an account executive. When I finally found another role and resigned, they were gobsmacked and kept saying “We thought we had you until you moved.”

      I know it feels dishonest, but they could fire you at any time and you can leave at any time. That’s business. Sending you lots of support.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Echoing what everyone says. And when you interview, pay extra attention to whether they have remote people or a generous work from home policy or anything like that.

      I wish you luck! I know all about those dark days, and it’s really, really trying. But I’ll put it this way: even when my partner was in his last year of his PhD, I still went out and made new friends. Even though we were pretty sure we were moving. But I also knew that if we stayed, I wanted my life to keep moving forward. A job is a different thing, for sure, but the ultimate idea was that I couldn’t put things on hold for uncertainty.

      1. Dasein9*

        Yes, this. There is a chance you can both get what you want. Companies are becoming more global and tech is enabling more and more remote work all the time.

    7. Marthooh*

      In good conscience, you don’t know what your circumstances will be in six months time. The companies you apply to don’t know what their needs will be in six months time — they may have to lay you off, for instance. Everyone already knows this. You’re not deceiving anyone by not mentioning it before you know for sure.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Years ago when I was about to marry someone who expected to go to grad school out of state, I put off the job search and then he ended up not getting into the program he expected and entered a local program. I did manage to land the good job — but literally called the day they were about to award it to someone else (I had interned there and been offered earlier, but didn’t accept because we expected to move) It was pure luck that I was not shut out in a very tight market.

        Academic jobs are increasingly rare, proceed as if you will be there another year.

    8. Quinalla*

      Agree with everyone else, you do not need to (and should not) disclose that you may be moving. It isn’t a sure thing, it is only a possibility. If you were for sure moving in 6 months, you still wouldn’t have to disclose, but I would be more likely to consider disclosing at the offer stage, but even then you again don’t have to and could work with them for a few months and then bring it up after you are a bit established and ask for remote working. Do not feel bad about not telling them, you don’t know yet and when you do know, you can bring it up when it happens which as you said may actually not be for a year and a half or longer.

    9. voluptuousfire*

      Why not look at roles with remote only companies? There are tons of companies out there that offer remote roles since they’re a distributed workforce. That’s definitely an idea to consider.

    10. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve hired people who’ve left 6 months or so after hiring. They knew it wasn’t going to be a long stay with us but didn’t mention that because it’s none of our business.

      We were bummed! We liked them and they were great team members. We weren’t mad nor did we feel mislead. Anyone worth working for understands employment is a business transaction and it goes both ways.

      You’re not here for any promised amount of time unless contracts are involved.

      I get your feelings though. They’re there because that work ethic is strong. That’s not a bad thing but you’ve got to tweak it so you’re not doing damage to yourself (going without jobs, spooking prospective employers away etc) by being too forthcoming with your future possible timelines.

      1. Auto Generated Anon*

        I’ve also hired / worked with people who stay less than 6 months. For all sorts of reasons. It’s not a big deal – we’re sorry to see the ones we like leave, and happy to see the ones who weren’t performing go. Really. In one case the the 4 months we got from one person was way more valuable to us than the than the 1.5 years her successor lasted. (That’s a story in and of itself tho.)

        There’s no reason to feel like you have to share your situation or only take something that supports remote work.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Have you considered looking for a job that is advertised for remote employee from the get-go?

    12. MissDisplaced*

      I would concentrate on the remote work jobs first, but would still apply to regular local jobs.
      It’s 6 months away, and as you said, nothing is definite at this point and you could be there another year or more.

      On the other hand, because you know this might not be a finite job, you could be more willing to take something a bit riskier or a bit of a sidestep if you don’t feel it’s a long-term career move. That could be a good thing.

      And I don’t think it’s bad faith. Many companies hire knowing they’ll have to downsize in a year or moving the office to a new location. Do they care about it? No. They just need the job filled now.

    13. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I changed jobs twice in my husband’s last year of his postdoc. I stayed on part-time at my “old” job, and covered a few random shifts there while working at my “new” job. Then, when it turned out that “new” job was a dumpster fire, I stuck it out until December when he started lining up interviews. He got enough of them that I felt confident he’d have at least one offer, so I pulled the trigger and went back to “old” job and coasted until the summer when we’d have to move. I also picked up a third job teaching for a few hours a week somewhere in there.

    14. Anona*

      Apply! And don’t say anything about the possibility of you leaving to your new company. Until your partner actually has an offer, it’s not real. Like you said, unfortunately academia is so competitive.

      It’s not dishonest to not share something that hasn’t happened yet and may not happen for another year or more. It’s kinda like pregnancy news– you shouldn’t share during an interview that you’re planning to become pregnant, because… it may not happen, or it may not follow the timeline that you want.

      People leave jobs suddenly all the time for things like this. I think you’re fine!

    15. Jeffrey Deutsch*

      Full-time, tenure-track academic jobs are, relative to the number of qualified applicants, scarcer than hens’ teeth. That’s been true for decades and it isn’t changing anytime soon.

      Obviously, I don’t know your partner’s situation — including but far from limited to which field they’re in. But it’s quite possible they’ll never get a full-time tenure-track job.

      Many if not the majority of college courses these days are taught by adjunct instructors. That used to mean the adjunct instructors worked at their non-academic careers and shared their expertise part-time with the students. Nowadays, many adjuncts “teach full-time” — by teaching one course at College A, two at University B and one or two more at College C, for flat fees per course per term. That’s why they’re referred to as “freeway flyers” and “road scholars”.

      Data point: In Richard Price’s book The Breaks, the protagonist teaches one course on an adjunct basis for $2,500.00. In the fall of 1972.

      I’ve taught adjunct for less than that per course…as recently as 2009.

      The academic job market has flooded. Your partner would be well advised to — if they haven’t done this already — create a Plan B and possibly a Plan C.

      Caveat: All this applies to the United States. I don’t know the extent to which it applies elsewhere.

      In any case, best wishes to you and your partner.

  20. Bigglesworth*

    Hey everyone!

    Does anyone have any successful stories about job-hunting in a different state (or country for that matter)? I’m not sure how to get started as many jobs I see advertised don’t want a baby lawyer.

    Good things: I graduate with my J.D. in May. I’m EIC of my journal (and one of the most prestigious ones at my school other than law review) and am competing for the second year in an international arbitration competition. I worked before law school in higher ed and have worked/externed in both private practice and government. I’ve typically received exceeds expectations in any workplace, which is a nice ego boost. I also found out that I recently passed the MPRE, so that’s one less thing on my plate.

    Not Great Things: My GPA is not the best (below average) and I’m starting from ground zero with networking. We’re moving from an area with several jobs that fit my skill set to one where…I’m not seeing a whole lot (tax law). Are there secret job boards for attorneys? Or something else I’m missing?

    We’re moving to be close to my folks as my dad received a terminal diagnosis a few months ago, so I’m pretty location bound and need to be near them.

    1. Delta Delta*

      Lawyer here. Not sure what market you’re moving to, but I’ve noticed that law jobs often exist that aren’t published. Sometimes smaller firms are able/willing to take someone on without actually posting an opening. That doesn’t mean you need to/should start cold-calling firms, but if you can figure out networking from where you are, you may get some word of mouth leads. If there is a local/city/county bar association, join it.

      Alternatively, you can also consider positions that you may not think are going to be exactly the right fit. Lots of people come out of law school thinking they’re going to do X law, and instead end up doing something entirely different for a little while (or forever. ask me how I know). And if you think you may be interested in civil litigation, you may want to consider working in a prosecutor or public defense office for a few years. You’ll never go to court as a baby civil lawyer; you’ll never leave court as a baby prosecutor. If that’s not your long term jam, at least you’ll have a lot of experience when you transition into private practice. You may also want to consider other public interest-type work in the area for a little while until you can feel out the general job landscape.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Thanks for the ideas! I‘ll be moving to the city of country music and spicy fried chicken (pretty sure that gives it away). I already belong to the state and local bar associations, but the positions I’m seeing on their job boards still require a minimum of 2-4 years of legal work experience. I’m also open to pursuing other legal practice areas as my location is much more important than what specific practice area I’m in.

        That said, do you think that any organization would be interested in hiring a new grad with no trial ad experience? My only legal advocacy experience is in commercial arbitration and I’ll be taking a course on mediation this spring. I’ve received high marks when I’ve had to present or compete against my classmates in a small setting, but that’s about it.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Honestly, a lot of big companies outsource specialized work like tax law because they don’t need that skill full-time. Many in-house counsel are generalists and deal with contracts, employment disputes, etc. plus managing outside counsel when more specialized or higher-volume assistance is needed.

            That said, tax law is a specialty that always seem to be in good demand. When my mother needed one several years ago, it was fairly expensive because so few attorneys specialized in that particular area of law.

            1. Bigglesworth*

              That’s been my understanding. I fell into tax law quite by happenstance and have just enjoyed learning the intricacies of this type of law. Like NotAnotherManager! said, most companies outsource tax law because it’s so specialized. There are also two main types of employers – law firms and accounting firms. Both typically want tax LLM graduates or the top 10% of a class. Since I don’t satisfy either of those reqs, I havent been applying to the jobs that require them.

              The other area I’ve enjoyed working in is estate planning. It’s also quite fun when someone asks me what I want to do and I can say either death or taxes.

      2. MysteryFan*

        I would also check out USAJOBS.. there are many government agencies that hire lawyers, and IRS is among them. They have an entire Chief Counsel’s office to litigate tax disputes, and give advice on the implications of various regulations. In addition, the Estate and Gift section hires baby lawyers to do basically the job of a Revenue Agent, but for E&G returns rather than Income or Corporate tax. The government doesn’t pay astronomically well, but leave is pretty good, insurance is really good, and there’s a matching 401K type retirement plan. And there is almost never any demand to work insane hours (looking at you private practice!)

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Do you think I could find those jobs in TN? I was honestly hoping to work for the Feds after graduation, but had written it off for now. Also, what kind of job title would I look for? Attorney or agent?

    2. legalchef*

      I’d suggest reaching out to your career services people to see if they have any ideas about where you can look for jobs in your new location. Obviously if you are going to practice in the new state you will need to take the bar exam there. You also asked if people had advice for looking for a job in a different country, but besides visa etc concerns, you’d likely also need to figure out what their requirements are to become one with a degree from where you are.

      I’d check all the usual online places, plus if your school is set up with Symplicity (I think that’s what’s it’s called, It’s been over a decade since I was in school).

      If there is a tax law group in the local bar assoc where you will be moving, you can also reach out to the folks there and see what suggestions they have.

      I’m sorry to hear about your dad.

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        The suggestion that legalchef makes here to find the tax law group in the local bar association is what I was coming to say. Most such groups in major cities meet at least once a month and that is the best networking. I also second Delta Delta about being open to possibilities. I fully expected and went to school and focused in school on intellectual property and I’m happily a banking attorney. Be open to opportunities and you might be surprised.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Thank you both for the ideas. I hadn’t thought to look to see if the bar association had a tax specific subgroup that I could belong to. I’ll do that this evening (I’m on the road for most of today to spend a week with my folks). For some reason, I forgot about that entirely even though I’m part of the bar association where in the state where my school is located. I’m also willing to look outside of tax law, but I’ve spent so much time in my tax courses that I don’t have a wide breadth of material that I’ve studied.

          As far as Symplicity goes, it’s been a complete dud. I’m currently working with career services on reciprocity, but the closest school willing to offer it to me is two hours away from where I’ll be moving to. The main school in that city won’t accept current students – only graduates – and the other schools don’t provide reciprocity at all.

    3. The Rain In Spain*

      I’m sorry to hear about your dad.

      I also had to job search in a totally new area where I had no contacts after law school. Here’s what I did: asked my law school to get me access to the local law school’s job postings, apply online remotely (did not result in any hits), reach out to alum in the area (this was very helpful). Based on the alum’s advice, I went door to door with my resume and got an unposted job with a small practice, which ended up being an amazing fit and experience. I am not suggesting you go door to door- in most markets that would be considered more than a little strange. But if you have any law school alum in the area it may help! Also, might not hurt to reach out to your summer job mentors/contacts and ask if they have any contacts in the area. When I had to move a second time to a new state, I took a less than desirable position, passed the local bar, and through a friend of a friend secured an interview for a position I had already applied for, which I adore.

      Also seconding suggestions to network with the local bar and be open to different areas of practice. If there are any pro bono opportunities that can be a great way to meet local lawyers and get the scoop on job postings as well.

      Wishing you the best of luck.

      1. Amy Sly*

        And absolutely worst case scenario: doc review. It’s not glamorous, but the pay isn’t that much worse than many baby lawyer jobs. You can get to know major companies in your area, meet with various inhouse and outside counsels, and your fellow doc reviews may surprise you in terms of their background. One of my good doc review friends turned out to have been a retired entertainment law guy who did doc review to get out of the house but have a job that never followed him home, and he had useful contacts and advice for baby lawyers. And having worked on a couple of big environmental cases gave me a useful background for understanding some of the work I do now as a contract admin.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Thank you both for your advice! I’ll try again to reach out to alumni living in that area. I’ve looked on LinkedIn, but I currently attend a state school where most graduates stay locally (currently next door to D.C.). I also realized that I haven’t updated my mentors and supervisors about my move at all – they still think I’m trying to get into the IRS or Dept. of Treasury. *facepalm* I’ll have to do that this upcoming week when I’m visiting my folks. I’ve been so busy just coping that apparently common sense concerning networking abandoned me.

          Also, I’ve heard of doc review and know what it is, but how could I get a job doing that? Are the jobs typically posted on Symplicity or are there companies that are known for doing doc review?

          1. Amy Sly*

            So to take a real case I worked on: Apple announces that yes, they changed the way iPhone 4s and 5s worked to throttle their speed. People sue Apple saying it was a malicious attempt to force upgrades. Apple replies that they only did it to stop the 4s and 5s from randomly shutting down. Apple needs to prove that, so their counsel sends over a couple million documents from the computers of everyone who worked on the problem during the relevant timeframe. Your job as the doc reviewer is to go through those documents, looking for anything that proves or disproves Apple’s arguments. (And any other shady things that Apple would want to know about. Seems like everyone who works doc review finds at least one inappropriate employee relationship at some point.)

            I found my doc review job via Craigslist, actually. (I had moved to the DC area to get a job and had no luck at all, but I figured anyone advertising on the DC Craigslist for a job in a city seven hours away might not be super picky, and I was right.) Doc review is at this weird intersection of employee and contractor — at my office, everyone was an employee of one of five different placement firms (Diamond Personnel was mine) who was contracted to work at a doc review company, and there were three major doc review places in the area. People would bounce between offices as projects started and stopped, though I found that a reputation for working hard and being reliable meant I was furloughed as little as possible between projects. (e.g. I was hired for a “two week project” and had only two furloughed days for my first year there.)

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            There are companies that are known for doing document review. Search for “ediscovery” and “managed review” or even just “document review”, and you’ll come up with hits. Some big ones are Epiq, Xact, Consilio, and KLDiscovery, but there are also local/regional staffing organizations that keep databases of reviewer resumes for projects.

      2. Now in the Job*

        Seconding hard the “find an alum locally.” We love talking to baby lawyers.

        Any way possible that you can meet with a local attorney and gauge the environment as well, ask how people find work, whether they know anyone who might be hiring for an entry level attorney. See if your folks know anyone who knows an attorney who would be willing to talk to you. Tell everyone you can. I have a friend who got her first job that she had for 7 years because the doorman at her apartment heard her looking and connected her to her now-former-boss for some temporary help. Then she was pulled in full time.

        Sign up for Posse List if it’s in your area. Temp work is temp work, but I’ve had two temp positions roll to perm. Doc review is almost a rite of passage. Plus you’ll meet other attorneys, especially if your doc review is for a law firm (though it may be tougher to do that on JD Required jobs before you have your license.)

        Don’t wait to take the bar exam. Don’t. Wait.

        1. Now in the Job*

          Also willing to chat with you if you’re planning to move to the Washington, D.C. area. I’m sorry to hear about your father. :(

          1. Bigglesworth*

            Hey Now in the Job! Thank you so much for your offer, condolences, and advice. Unfortunately, I’m moving away from Washington, D.C. (where I was hoping to practice) to TN. I’ve been very fortunate to have had opportunities here throughout my entire time living here and I thought that I would have the same opportunities post-grad. That said…

            I’ll have to look into Posse List. I’m not above temp work and if I don’t find anything before graduation, I know that this will be a likely source of income. I’m also trying to meet up with a local attorney who works for the State Dept. of Revenue/Finance (he’s a connection through a team member in last year’s competition), but he hasn’t responded to my initial email reaching out. I need to follow up since it’s been two weeks and I’m sure everyone’s life has been crazy around the holidays. Normally, any attorney I reach out to has responded pretty quickly, so it’s weird to not get a response at all.

            1. Now in the Job*

              Bad two weeks in which to reach out, most likely they weren’t even in the office. But did your team member do an introduction, or confirm that person is willing to meet with you first? I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth to the person who emailed me without any sort of heads up from my actual contact. If that process was followed though, I’d follow up with a quick happy new year, see if they got your last email message.

              Posse List has listings for doc review gigs and temp jobs. I’m not sure about the TN market, but you can sign up now if you want just to get a sense of how they flow. When PL sends out an email though, be prepared to respond *immediately.* They have a massive network, so doc reviews get filled very quickly.

              Keep an eye on USAJobs too. They post regionally, so there are some fed positions that would be located in TN as well.

              Good luck!

              1. Bigglesworth*

                Our mutual contact definitely did a connection email! Although I’ve cold-emailed people in the past, I hate doing it because I never know how it’ll be received. And I figured that it was going to be a tough few weeks to get a hold of anybody, but I definitely need to do a follow-up.

                And thank you for the USAjobs reminder. I’ve typically checked every few weeks or so, but I need to buckle down and check it more often so I don’t miss any opportunities

            2. MysteryFan*

              I posted above about the Internal Revenue Service and other Federal agencies on USAJOBS, but the State tax agency is also a good idea. And most of those jobs are publicly posted.

        2. Amy Sly*

          Yeah, I had absolutely no idea how much harder it would be to pass a bar exam years after graduation. Passed the first one taken after graduation just fine; failed the second taken five years later.

          1. Bigglesworth*

            Not taking the bar exam immediately sounds terrifying. Even if I end up in a J.D.-preferred position, I still plan on taking the bar exam as soon as possible just to have it in my back pocket.

    4. Anon Lawyer in PA Who Also Used to Live in WA*

      Join the state bar association and also the local county/city bar association if there is one; they probably have job boards you can read and post to.

      Join the bar associations’ tax law sections (or committees or whatever they call them), lurk on the e-mail lists to see if anyone posts a job opening, and attend the meetings.

      For a networking opportunity going forward, next year dig the social services non-profits in your new area and see if they offer tax clincs where you can volunteer to assist in tax prep.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Hey Anon Lawyer – Thanks so much for the ideas. I’ll try to see if there are any tax clinics where I’ll be moving to. I know there are several where I currently live, but wasn’t sure if I would find any there. My hope is to be done with unpaid work once I have graduated in May, but know that I’ll most likely have to fill a pro bono hours requirement so volunteering there may be my way into the tax law practice area.

    5. Amy Sly*

      Don’t want to piggy-back too much here, but do folks have any suggestions for someone who’s still a “baby lawyer” well after graduation and a long way physically from their law school?

      1. Now in the Job*

        I have a friend who was a paralegal for five years before getting a job as an attorney. I don’t have any advice per se–she worked in a fed office while getting her LLM, then got the job on the VA Appeals Board when one of her closest friends left, and feds love hiring feds–but know that it can happen. Talk to people, meet as many attorneys as you can, maintain those friendships. That’s really the best advice I have.

    6. Sunflower*

      Have you talked to Career Services or any of your professors? I think they would be your best bet on what steps to take next.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Career Services were some of the first people I told. They’ve been trying to work with me on finding positions or people to network with, but I think they’re struggling too. I’m working with someone in CAS who is in charge of the reciprocity program, but the closest school that is willing to work with mine is two hours away from where my folks live and that’s a bit too far for me. We’re hoping that this school’s job board will still have opportunities in the city I plan on moving to.

        I’ve also alerted my professors. Two of them are my coaches for the Vis Moot competition and they’ve offered to put me in contact with some construction firms/attorneys they know. With it being the holidays, we all agreed to delay any introductions until everyone is back in the office again. I’ve very much enjoyed working with them on both last year’s problem and this year’s problem and one of them has agreed to be a reference for me. I tried to contact a different professor that I’ve had who actually moved last year to the city that I’ll be moving to, but he hasn’t responded to any of my efforts to reach out.

        1. CM*

          Sounds like you’re doing great.

          I would not rely on Career Services or anything specific to your school — my experience is that they are not helpful if you’re in an unfamiliar market or are looking for anything other than very established firms and companies.

          You’ve gotten a lot of good suggestions already — professors, alums, bar association contacts.

          Could you find an alum in your new city who worked on your journal?

          Also, you never know which DC lawyers may have TN contacts! You could try networking locally — go to the DC Bar tax conference, show up at meetings, tell everybody you meet your situation and say that if they know anybody in TN, you would love for them to put you in touch. Bring cards and hand them out. As a law student I may have been too shy to do this, but now I’d be totally happy to help out somebody who approached me like this, and I’ve met so many other established lawyers who genuinely enjoy helping out baby lawyers in any way they can. So, don’t be afraid to network. It’s actually much easier if you have a specific ask, versus just wanting to meet people.

    7. Blarg*

      Look at government jobs — local, county, state, fed. They care less about class rank. And have more structured hiring — who you know matters way less. And the work life balance maybe better for you, so you can spend the time with your family you want. You don’t have to prove yourself with 100 hour weeks. A friend was in a similar situation years back, but with young kids, and she got a job doing tax work for a large city, worked 40 hours a week, and when her kids started school and she wanted more, she was snapped up by a firm eager for her knowledge and experience in government. Now she’s a partner there.

    8. Coverage Associate*

      There’s a way to search firms/lawyers by law school in Lexis. Get career services or a Lexis rep to teach you how.

      Also, ask career services about getting you reciprocity with career services of a Tenn school. Basically, the career services of the Tenn school would treat you as one of their own alumni, in exchange for the expectation your school would treat one of theirs in the future.

      FWIW, I went to law school in Virginia having spent all my life in California (with some professional contacts) and didn’t find a California law job until October after graduation. I got my first 2 lawyer jobs through Craigslist.

  21. LilacLily*

    This is a question for the British readers of AAM: I was just hired by a company in the south of England and my first day is January 8th. Last month, after I was offered the job, I asked HR about benefits, like how regularly salary is paid, and he informed me that salaries are paid once a month on the 21st, but payroll will have been already processed by the time my first day rolls around, so my first salary will only be deposited on February 21st, along with February’s salary.

    Can they do that? Is this normal? Even better, is it legal? That’s going to put a huge wrench in my plans because I’m relocating from abroad for this job and funds are kinda low, especially because, as you all know, cities in the south charge a pretty penny on rent, and getting paid on time would’ve been super helpful to say the least. I believe I will be able to make it through this next month and a half, but not without some struggle. I really wish I was being paid on January 21st.

    Do I have any say in this, maybe any sort of negotiating power with HR? Or do I have to suck it up and hold on as best as I can?

    (Also I can’t help but think that, had I not asked about benefits when I did, I don’t think they would’ve told me this before I arrived in the UK, which would’ve scared the crap out of me and really screwed me up by then because I would’ve made all my plans around the idea that I would be paid by the end of the month. Not the best way to start a new job I guess, but I’m trying to remain positive.)

    1. Historic Hamlet Dweller*

      They can do it, it’s legal but it’s not normal. We’ve got loads of staff starting in the next couple of weeks and they’ll all get paid on our usual paydate at the end of January.

      They *should* have already processed your new starter paperwork well before payroll closes/closed. If they can’t do anything about it, ask for an advance that’s about equal to your take home salary for the 3 weeks you’ve worked (google Listen to Taxman – it’s about the most accurate calculator we have). That should be something that they have the processes in place for. Don’t make a big deal of it, or apologise, just ask for it as if it’s totally normal.

    2. AW*

      It’s legal to do and I’ve had similar situations when moving jobs.

      You can ask if HR can make a payment to you at the end of January, the worst they can do is say no.

      If you’ve opens a UK bank account you might be able to arrange an overdraft with them so you’ve got access to some cash, but as a new customer they might not offer much.

    3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      What they said.

      But it’s very common for a company to expect to process an advance when a new starter misses the payroll deadline, so you should be very confident to ask for an ad-hoc cheque to arrive either with everyone else’s pay slips on 21 Jan, or at the end of January (so your February pay will be a clean month’s worth). This is a totally standard request that should be absolutely within their power.

      The script/tone for this would be Alison’s classic “this is a totally reasonable request so I am asking with a bright, polite smile on my face and anticipate no problems”.

    4. Ruth (UK)*

      I work administratively at a (UK) university and it doesn’t sound super odd to me unfortunately – they’re quite specific and uncompromising about payroll deadlines where I work. That said, they might agree to advance you some of the money

    5. Everdene*

      Unfortunately this happens all the time. You will also find that your February salary is taxed at a higher rate (depending on bracket) because it is calculated as if you earned the 7 weeks money in 4, and will continue to be paid at that rate. I definitely think it’s worth asking for an advance, but be prepared the answer could well be no.

      1. Linda*

        Does that mean its normal to only get paid once a month in the UK? That sounds terribly frustrating. Most US states require that most employees be paid at least biweekly.

        1. LilacLily*

          in the country where I’m from it’s the same; usually companies pay their employees either once or twice a month. I don’t mind it, but right now I kinda wish this one paid at least twice a month lol

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          They’re moving to pay benefits monthly, would you believe?! It’s based on the middle class assumption that most major bills (rent/mortgage and utilities) are monthly, so you sync your payment dates around your pay – eg paid on 21st, bills come out 23rd-25th.

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            Yes I also never realised it was uncommon to be paid monthly. However, I was paid fortnightly in retail. But monthly in all jobs since

          2. Linda*

            Interesting. I’ve worked in 6 different states and only ever been paid biweekly. You must work in one of the few that doesn’t require that.

            1. Hamburke*

              Many states have exceptions to the “twice a month” rule for highly compensated employees although few employers take advantage of this – it’s easier to pay everyone at the same time. My husband used to be paid once a month – it actually worked out nicely after we got in a rhythm – all bills were paid by the 5th and then I could budget the remainder for the rest of the month. Switching jobs to a semimonthly cycle was ok – I had to call to change some bill due dates and there was no rhyme or reason for when payroll was deposited if the 1st or 15th fell on a weekend or holiday. But switching again to biweekly involved the most thought when it came to budgeting…

        3. NeverNicky*

          Monthly is absolutely normal in the UK for “white collar” jobs – the only time I’ve ever had anything else was when I worked through a temp agency and was paid weekly.

          1. Linda*

            How awful. You usually hear about the UK having better protections than the US, so this is really surprising to me. It must make things really difficult for people who live paycheck to paycheck.

            1. AnonyNurse*

              It’s the same amount of money. When I was living paycheck to paycheck, I preferred monthly pay. I knew exactly how much I’d get and when, and that was it. My least favorite was every two weeks/26 pay periods cause some months you’d get a third check and the deductions were weird and it felt like extra money but wasn’t. Awaiting the first check can be rough in any gig, especially when paid monthly, but I’d rather be paid monthly given a choice.

              1. Linda*

                Well, the more often you’re paid, the more control you have over your own money. I can’t imagine any scenario where I would prefer being paid less often. Once you have it, you can choose whether or not to use it. 

                I’m not sure what you mean about weird deductions. Whenever I’ve received a third pay check in one month, its always exactly the same as the others. I set up my monthly budget based on getting two paychecks a month so when I get a third one, I actually do treat it like “extra” money— either put it in my vacation fund or my savings account. 

                1. Natalie*

                  Many companies calculate some deductions based on 24 paychecks a year even though they issue 26. So the last paycheck in your two 3-paycheck months will be higher than normal because health insurance premiums, etc are not deducted.

                  A similar thing can happen in the rarer circumstance of getting 27 paychecks a year – you won’t have tax withholding because biweekly withholding amounts are calculated assuming 26 paychecks.

                2. Hamburke*

                  Weird deductions for 3rd checks in a biweekly pay cycle are usually benefits related, not tax related and are less common recently.

              2. LilacLily*

                Same here. I’ve had jobs that paid twice a month and jobs that paid once a month, and I always preferred being paid once a month so I know exactly how much I have throughout the month for bills and extras.

            2. Stardust*

              It really doesn’t, and it’s somewhat strange to call it “awful”. I’m from a place where literally every job pays monthly. In fact I didn’t even know there are other ways of doing it until i started reading Ask A Manager. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known and really not something to be upset about. I’ve lived paycheck-to-pacheck for a long time and if i overspent at the beginning of the month that was on me–it’s not my employer’s job to make me handle my money responsibly.

              1. Linda*

                I guess for me, I see it as awful because I wouldn’t want my employer controlling my money for an entire month when more frequent payments are very easy to process. I get what you mean about just preferring the method you’re used. There are a lot of US-specific things that get discussed here that non-American commenters think are crazy (like not having an employment contract) that are just normal and I wouldn’t want to be another way.

              2. londonedit*

                Really late here, but yeah, it’s not ‘awful’, it’s the way things are done here and it works for most people. Do you also pay rent/mortgages fortnightly in the USA? My rent is paid monthly, and so are mortgages for people who own houses. Most of my bills are automatically taken from my bank account on a monthly basis (some every three months but that’s rare), and you can set those direct debits to go out on a specific day of the month, so you just time it to be after pay day. Then you know how much money you have to last until the next pay day. No big deal. Personally I think I’d find it much more difficult to always remember to save a chunk of my salary to pay my rent – it wouldn’t leave me with much left out of a fortnight’s pay!

            3. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              In the UK most monthly-paid people pay the bulk of their major expenses monthly (eg rent or mortgage, communications, utility bills, car insurance) and automatically – “direct debit” on set days of the month rather than having to sit down and actively pay bills when you remember to make time. The daily/ weekly expenses are the more discretionary ones, so yes you might be eating ramen or beans on toast by the last week, but you know your rent is paid. Also your tax is deducted at source and dynamically, so most people don’t have to save for a tax bill and can’t look forward to a rebate!

              When I was an office temp, paid weekly, I would have a week each month where every penny disappeared to the landlady before I had even really seen it. I found that far harder than having to stretch my food budget to the end of the month. However, I am not famous for being good at budgeting.

              I think that generally in the UK salary comes monthly and wages come weekly. Also, paying for things weekly or ad hoc is more expensive than monthly/ annually.

        4. Jessi*

          Unfortunately it’s so so so super common to get paid monthly In the UK! My payslip gets issued around the 25th and I am normally paid the last working day of the month.

          My partner gets paid weekly and it’s weird to budget around that as all our bills are paid monthly

        5. Bagpuss*

          Yes, monthly is normal for a lot of jobs – I think it is (or was) more common for ‘blue collar’ type jobs to be weekly, but monthly is pretty standard. Even the Saturday job I had as a teenager was paid monthly, as I recall.
          But it is also common for things like rent, as well as mortgages, to be paid monthly.
          I think I’d find it more frustrating to be paid weekly or fortnightly and have to work out how much to set aside for bills etc! I guess it all depends on what you are used to.

    6. Another Sarah*

      Yeah totally normal except for the fact that they’re processing payroll way way ahead of payment. It’s normally about a week’s difference so they can account for new starters/leavers/temp sick days/prorated time off etc more accurately. But if you’re not working in Finance or HR, that’s not your problem.

      You can ask for an advance, or a temporary overdraft with your bank, or if you think you can manage, soldier on.

      But I would be tempted to double check that that’s actually correct, because it is very unusual for the payroll to be processed more than two weeks before the payment deadline.

      1. AL (the other one)*

        +1 for this.

        It is normal in the UK to be paid monthly, but if you’ve started on the 8th they should be able to include you into the payroll of 21st.
        And if not, then they should have a manual process to part pay…

    7. Mx*

      I am not entirely sure it is legal in the UK. Do you know ACAS ? They give free advice about employment law. You can call them on 0300 123 11000.

    8. Bagpuss*

      Its a long delay between the cut off date and the pay date but it isn’t unusual, or illegal.
      It’s worth asking whether they are able to provide an advance, or failing that you may well be able to arrange an overdraft with your bank if you need to, especially if you can provide them with proof of the new job and your income.
      Good luck with the new job.

    9. Peter*

      Following up on the comments above, the request back to the HR contact is that he arranges an advance on (say) 31st January to cover that month’s salary.
      The way we do this (multi-national company, often recruiting from abroad) is that in the first month we’ll get payroll to estimate the net pay due (i.e. after taxes, social charges, pension costs etc) and then pay a lump sum amount.
      If this is your first job in the UK, you’ll get 10/12 of the tax-free amount in your first paypacket, so you’ll probably find that the net pay bounces around a bit. The first “normal” month will be April, which is the start of our tax year.

  22. BRR*

    After being laid off from an incredibly toxic job early last year, I’m thankfully in a job where my work is highly valued, my coworkers are nice and good at their jobs, and I have a much better commute. The moderately big downside is it’s a step backwards in turns of both salary (20% cut) and responsibilities. After four years in a job that took a huge toll on my mental and physical health, I’d love to just have the philosophy of money isn’t everything but I’m just not content with this low of a position. There’s no hope of growth or mobility here and I work in a fairly niche field so there aren’t any roles that I can apply for anytime soon in my field. Any tips on minimizing my dissatisfaction?

    1. Cleopatra*

      If you have been there for a year, and if you have made some good achievements, you can perhaps ask for a salary increase. You can perhaps start with 7 or 10% in your request ? You said that there is no place for mobility, so I will not suggest that you change positions internally fduring 2020. That would have helped in increasing your salary.

      If the money issue is really important for you (which is very normal!) and is impacting your life, you can also start looking for a job elsewhere.

      But in all cases, you should never feel stuck where you are. Sure, things sometimes take time to change (either the salary or the job), but eventually you will get your 20% (or more!) back. This is only a phase. A phase from which you can do your best to get out (talk to management, try and look for other jobs) and with time it shall happen!

    2. Diahann Carroll*

      Go hard on your hobbies in your spare time so you won’t harp on how much you dislike your work life. Also look into taking online courses or even in person classes in subjects you’re interested in that don’t necessarily align with your current career – this will help you to stop defining yourself by what you do versus who you actually are as a person.

      If you’re like me and that last part is simply impossible, you may have to consider switching career fields into something else with more advancement opportunities.

    3. MissGirl*

      Do you make enough to fit your needs and some wants?

      I was in your position for a number of years until I realized my cost of living was going up faster than my salary. My dreams of a home and some travel were moving farther away. I tried job hunting but my skills were niche. Then I moonlighted in a hobby job but that didn’t make up the gap. I also tried freelancing.

      I finally gave up and found a new career. I don’t love it quite as much but the trade off was worth it.

      I would figure out what your priorities are. When your frustrated remind yourself why you’ve made the trade off. Those may change over time.

    4. Quinalla*

      I like the others’ suggestions, but also what about learning new things in your field? Would your company reimburse you for professional development? I know it isn’t the same as advancing your position or a salary increase, but at least if you can continue to improve in your career it may make it easier to get salary increases and to not feel so stagnant.

      I do also like the idea of starting a big personal project, maybe something that might make you money, maybe not depending on what is most important to you. There are lots of ways to grow personally outside of your current job that can help with your future career.

  23. A Certain Someone*

    My office just upgraded from Office 2010 to Office 2016 (or maybe 2019?), and also from Windows who-knows-what-year to Windows 10. I’m a Mac user at home, so I’m on a bit of a learning curve and wondering if anyone has any favorite tips, shortcuts, tricks, etc. that I might not know about or might find helpful? I’m especially interested in Outlook/email-related suggestions, tips, “hacks,” etc.
    On a related note, it’s driving me crazy that the zoom in/zoom out shortcuts (Ctrl+Scroll mouse wheel or Ctrl + “+/-“) no longer work with for viewing the Outlook email list, but rather only for the email preview & viewing pane, but based on my research that is (maddeningly) by design.
    Thanks in advance for your Windows 10 or Outlook tips!

    1. Princesa Zelda*

      For myself, my favorite trick is once you hit the start button on the keyboard, you can simply type in the name of the program you want; no looking for it required! Several of my coworkers also use pin-to-Start for all the programs they use frequently; that puts them nice and big on the “sidebar” part of the start menu.

      1. KarenK*

        Being able to “pin” both apps and documents that are used frequently has been a huge time-saver for me. The apps are pinned to the menu bar and the documents are pinned within the apps.

    2. Sharkey*

      Here are a few Win10 features that I use: When you click Start to launch an application, you can just start typing its name instead of scrolling through the list and clicking it. Click the clock in the lower right corner to see a pop up calendar. You can also set up additional time zones that display on the pop up so you don’t have to constantly do the math to figure out what time it is for your coworker in another country.

    3. Helvetica*

      Tips on Outlook (sorry if you know them already, these have just helped me a bunch):
      *Outlook is great a sorting e-mails by keywords so I have set up a couple dozen of them (File – Manage Rules & Alerts), and this automatically sorts my e-mail into different subfolders in the inbox, such as press releases, memos, briefing requests. You can sort by keywords, senders, addressees, etc. This only works if you actually go into those folders, ofc, but for me, it alleviates a great deal of my “There are 99 unread e-mails!” anxiety if I know that half of them are press releases, which I don’t *need* to read immediately. But I am the person who can’t stand the red notifications of unread e-mails so YMMV.
      *If you want to save an e-mail on your computer but not in the Outlook format, open the e-mail, click File – Print, from the drop-down printer menu choose “Microsoft Print to PDF” – choose location and voila, you have a PDF version of the e-mail without it being in .msg format. Especially good if you need to archive things for future use/future people and it might get difficult to open them in .msg format after some time.
      *If you need to find an e-mail and you know the two keywords, like “VP visit”, you can search for it from the regular search function but be sure to use the quotes to find the exact phrase. This guarantees that Outlook searches for both of these words at the same time and not separately. Same principle as using Google search function, and you can also utilize AND, OR, NOT, for more specific results. Office support has a very handy overview of all of these.
      *And if your organisation uses the calendar function so people can see each other’s, make sure your calendar permissions are set so that it would actually work. Fx, anyone can see the busy/free time on my calendar but only my immediate team can see the topic of the meetings I have and/or location (just for my boss). This may be organisation-specific but it makes things so much easier if you want to know where someone is/when they’ll be back and if you organisation generally expects such knowledge to be shared.

      1. Meow*

        OH MY GOD the outlook search tip!! Why did I never thing of that? I’ve always complained about how truly awful the search function is…you may have changed my life. brb going to search all kinds of things to test this out.

    4. Phoenix Wright*

      Here are some Windows shortcuts I use all the time (“Win” is the key with the Windows logo between Ctrl and Alt):
      – Win + D: minimizes all windows and shows the desktop. Pressing it again restores all minimized windows.
      – Win + E: opens the file explorer
      – Win + Shift + S (only works with the latest Windows 10 updates): lets you take a screenshot of the screen, by drawing a rectangle with the mouse. You can then paste it on any other program.
      – Win + P: if you have more than one screen, it lets you change video output modes. You can choose between only one screen, duplicating the image, or extending the desktop between all of them.
      – Win + L: locks the computer. Very useful if your work requires that you leave your PC locked when you’re away from your desk.
      – Win + 1 (or any other number): opens or gives focus to the respective program in the taskbar.
      – Win + R: lets you execute any program with administrative privileges.

      1. A Certain Someone*

        Ooo — I only knew Win + L — going to print this list and try them out! Thanks!

    5. Garland Not Andrews*

      My best Outlook tip is for searching. The general search is rather anemic, so I use “Advanced Search”.

      The shortcut is CTRL+SHIFT+F. The dialog box has lots of search options.

    6. A Certain Someone*

      Thank you so much for the great tips — keep ’em coming! And I’m glad they have helped other readers too. :)
      I should mention my favorite Outlook trick, which is to set up a “rule” that delays all sent emails by 2 min (they sit in my outbox). This has saved me from many mistakes that could have caused problems or embarrassment! You can set the delay for any amount of time you wish, but I played around with that and found that 2 min works perfectly for me.
      A couple pointers if you use this tip:
      • If you regularly use the “Delay Delivery” feature, where you schedule emails to go out at a specific future time, this function won’t work unless you turn off the rule. (The 2-min delay overrides the scheduled future time.)
      • Sometimes you want an email to go out right away (like if you’re on a conference call and emailing a document to discuss right that moment), which makes the delay a minor nuisance. As a workaround, I set up an exception to the rule so that any email marked as “high importance” will send out immediately.

      My other favorite trick is Conditional Formatting — I love it! All my emails from my manager show up in my inbox as underlined, and I have a “category” that makes any email in assigned this category show as bold navy font one or two points larger than the rest, when I want it to stand out. And all sorts of color-coding according to certain words for the different grants I manage. I probably go overboard but I love Conditional Formatting!

    7. A Certain Someone*

      A couple more:
      • In Outlook , to the right of the little calendar icon at the bottom of your screen (below the list of folders), there are 3 dots. Right-click the dots, select “Navigation Options,” and uncheck the box for “Compact Navigation.” This replaces the small icons with bigger words that are more user-friendly.
      • In Excel, for years I thought there was no easy way to open two docs side by side. Well, there is a way! If you open one document, then open a brand new Excel window directly from the application icon, then open the second doc from this new window. Game changer!

    8. dealing with dragons*

      window+shift+s lets you screenshot onto your clipboard, like command+shift+4 on the mac. love it!

      and if you just hit windows you get the same functionality as command+space on mac

    9. fogharty*

      I am a longtime Mac user who is on Windows at work. The best thing I’ve found was a little third-party app called SharpKeys (randyrants.com) that lets me reconfigure my Windows keyboard to act more like my Mac one. So the Windows key acts like the alt, the alt key acts like the Control key, etc. This means I don’t have to change my muscle memory for keyboard shortcuts between my work Windows and my home Mac.
      (You could do the opposite, of course, and reconfigure your Mac keyboard to act like the Windows one; that is already built in in your System Preferences)
      I’ve been using this app for years, and if I can’t load new software myself our IT people have always done it for me with no problems.

      Apple’s website has a “conversion table” of Mac vs. Windows terms and functions that you might find helpful as well. (https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/whats-it-called-on-my-mac-cpmh0038/10.15/mac/10.15)

  24. Puzzled*

    At my previous company the employees have organised a monthly book club after work. It takes place in the break room after hours and is entirely self-organised. There is no official involvement from management or the company itself. Management knows about it but doesn’t participate.

    I started a new job at a different company a few weeks ago.
    I am the first participant who left the company. Previous employees are often invited to farewell parties or such (my old teammate came for mine, for example) and they often come. The farewell parties also take place after hours in the break room and are self-organised as well. The company started out as a tech start-up, with all the easy-going, bro-ish culture that comes with it. Even if management doesn’t like something like that they would never say anything because they don’t want to be seen as boorish or uncool.

    I’ve been invited to next week’s book club meeting and I would love to go, I’m just unsure if it’s a good idea. Is it unprofessional to visit your previous company once a month, even if it’s in a purely social context?

    1. Another Sarah*

      I think there’s nothing wrong in principle, but you and the other book club members probably need to decide if it’s a *work* book club or a social book club that happens at work.

      I’ve seen it happen that old employees are invited for one or two things after but they tend to trail off quite quickly as their new workplace takes over – this seems different somehow because it’s an ongoing commitment?

      If you decide it’s a work thing, I’d probably stop going. If you decide it’s a social thing, I’d probably suggest you start holding it somewhere else just to remove the doubt, because it’s one thing for them not to say anything, but it’s another for them not to think anything, and you don’t want your relationships with your references to be awkward.
      It does also depend on the culture a bit, if you think they genuinely wouldn’t be bothered then there’s nothing stopping you, but I just would caution that that might change in future and you might prefer to get ahead of it.

      1. Colette*

        These are good points. I also think it’s likely that over time, you will be less interested in participating as your life moves on.

    2. Cartographical*

      I’d go once for sure and then have the organizers decide with the group/ask management if it’s cool for you to continue attending, given the context and the type of discussions held during the meetings. I’ve worked places where it would be fine and places where it would be a logistical nightmare of best practices.

    3. Emily*

      I can see why’d like to go.

      However:
      Look at the book club as an element of the company’s culture. You left, and you’re still friendly with colleagues — BUT, view this from a perspective of the club being intrinsically linked with that firm.

      I would not attend, in this situation. I understand that the club is self-organized, and I get why that seems like it makes it separate — but in my view, it’s linked.

      That being said, if you made close work friendships with individual colleagues from this firm, and want to stay in touch with them outside of the club — then do that! That’s normal, and a good thing. But I think you need to step aside from the club. Sorry to say it.

      Emily

    4. Patty Mayonnaise*

      I’m kind of surprised so many people are against you staying in the book club – my friend book club originally started as a coworker book club, and our group splintered away, so I think it would be pretty kosher to stay in. EXCEPT. The fact that the book club meets in the office breakroom makes this murky for me, even if it’s after hours. It feels a lot more coworker-y and company sponsored with that location (even though I know it’s not company sponsored). Also, if you have any kind of building security, it’s a hassle to get someone to sign you into the building each time, and has the optics of being a potential security issue. Any chance they would move the club to a nearby bar/coffee shop? I feel like that would make the meetup clearly a “friend” gathering.

  25. Worrying*

    How to deal with a manager that is stressing out because you gave notice? How organized have you left things? My manager has been threatening to complain to new boss if things aren’t perfect before I leave (they will be collaborating a bit on an upcoming project.) I of course will do my best, but worry it won’t enough.

    1. Anony Shark*

      Unless you can clone yourself you can’t organize things perfectly for your departure. My ex assistant left detailed notes and explanations, but even then I had a few minor issues some weeks after she left. Staff turnover is disruptive anywhere no matter how organized you are.

      I don’t think her reaction is fair on you. But also, you can’t manage her emotions. Maybe ask her what she needs specifically so the transition can be smoothed over?

      1. Worrying*

        Part of the issue is that she is worried that she won’t be able to do a project after I am gone, and she actually doesn’t have the right skillset for part of it, so won’t know how to handle any issues. And it bothers me that she keeps bringing up discussing me with the new manager. Do people actually do that?

        1. Fikly*

          The company being unable to cope with the loss of an employee is the company’s problem, not yours.

        2. fposte*

          Even in academia, the kind of person who threatens to bitch about your departure to your new boss is the kind of person others don’t listen to much. So yeah, maybe she’ll say “Oh, that Worrying, she left without completing the building remodel during her notice period!” And odds are that your new boss will say “Mmm, uh-huh, Jane” while thinking Jane is a loon.

    2. Colette*

      Is this an internal move?

      If so, can you remind her that you will be around to answer a few questions?

      Even if she complains to your new manager, I don’t think it’ll have much impact.

      1. Worrying*

        No, not internal, it’s academia, which often has collaborations between organizations on projects.

        Thank you all.

    3. Asenath*

      Let it go. I’m dealing with something similar. I left copious notes on all my processes and the locations of all my files. I gave plenty of notice. I made arrangements with the co-worker whose duties are most like mine to have the phone and email covered and anything urgent taken care of. I spoke two or three times with each manager about what I would have done when I left and what I wouldn’t get to. Since it’s a pretty good workplace, my now-former supervisors aren’t letting me see their stress – if any – aside from, while I was still there, the occasional question/comment about “We do have Major Annual Event after Christmas”, to which I would reply with a bright smile and “I’ll get the initial email send-out done, and I’ve written up my procedure for the rest of it.” It surprised me how often I had to tell myself after I left to let go. It’s not my job any more. I am not responsible for handling all the requests that are surely building up. It’s not my fault that hiring for my replacement was slow, so we – I mean, they – now have one person doing her own job, and covering for both mine and another that’s vacant.

      Do what you should to prepare, and when you start feeling responsible for what won’t be your job any more, tell yourself it’s not your job or your responsibility when you leave.

    4. CuriousCat*

      This is a little off topic but how is the current economy affected your job/career? Have you seen larger raises or opportunity?

      For me I have seen almost no difference but have been at the same company for the last 6 years.

      I have come to realize that my world view is too small so am asking out of curiosity.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Depending on how cornered I felt I might consider one of these two things:

      Telling the old boss that you will let the new boss know that Old may be calling New.
      OR
      Actually tell new boss that old boss is muttering about calling her if there are any issues that come up.

      See, old boss has a hold on you. So all you do is figure out what you are willing to do to break that hold. You may envision several scenarios that end with you triumphantly riding off into the sunset on your beautiful white horse/motorcycle/Beemer and then decide, “Screw it. I am just going to ignore old boss.” (You can laugh, but sometimes this stuff works for me.)

    6. Lilysparrow*

      “If things go smoothly at the new job, I can probably answer some questions from time to time if you need me to. Of course, if I’m *not* able to settle in well due to complaints? Then there’s no way I’ll be able to help you. Because I suppose I’ll be looking for another new job.

      Now, if you’ll let me know specifically what you want done before I go, I’ll try to make sure and get as close to ‘perfect’ as humanly possible.”

  26. Anony Shark*

    I have a question about managing my team. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I address performance issues with staff, the biggest hurdle is to get them to even acknowledge they aren’t performing.

    I try to have a direct but respectful communication style. All I hope for is “yes I can see I’m not achieving X, I will pay attention on X to improve.” But 99% of the time people come up with ridiculous excuses. Today I had someone claim her sales is bad because she works the “bad” hours where it’s difficult to get sales. I pulled up data showing her otherwise. Then she said her sales is good but everyone else is amazing, so hers looks bad in comparison. Again I showed data proving otherwise. She kept giving weird excuses and refused to acknowledge there was a problem.

    I wasn’t introducing any negative “consequences”. I made it clear from the start all I was hoping to do was come up with a reasonable target for the month. Her target is totally achievable. But even that was met with unhappiness because “it wasn’t fair” to have a target.

    I’ve had similar conversations with others in the past where people refuse to admit their performance isn’t meeting expectations and needs to improve. What do you do in these situations?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Their agreement with you is a nice-to-have, but it’s not a must-have. Ultimately, it’s your prerogative as their manager to say, “I need you to do X” whether they agree with your thinking or not. You want to genuinely listen to their input, of course, but if hearing them out doesn’t change your thinking, you don’t need to persuade them into agreeing with you. At the end of the conversation you get to say, “I hear you but my perspective is X because of Y and I do need you to do Z.”

      More here:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2016/04/my-employee-disagrees-with-my-evaluation-of-his-performance.html

      https://www.askamanager.org/2017/11/my-employee-cant-accept-that-his-performance-is-bad.html

      1. Anony Shark*

        Thanks, Alison! You mentioned in the second link you’re never quite sure why some people are shocked when fired even after clear and repeated warnings. I’m glad you mention this because I have experienced the same. Sometimes people can’t seem to accept their failure is due to their own fault. What really sucks is when they misattribute their mistakes as someone else’s fault and blame others for some trivial or imaginary errors that led to their firing or disciplinary action.

        It’s frustrating, but as you say, it’s not my job to obtain their agreement.

    2. CM*

      Can you offer suggestions for improvement? It sounds like you’re saying, “You are not achieving X. You need to achieve X,” but you’re not telling them to to achieve X. Rather than focusing on getting them to acknowledge the problem, you could try engaging with them on solutions. Like when your employee says “It’s not my fault my sales are bad,” rather than proving they’re wrong, you could say, “Let’s talk about how we could get your numbers up,” and start a discussion about whether they need training, support, an accountability plan, or other things that could help them improve. If they keep bringing the discussion back to saying they’re doing fine, you can redirect them to thinking of solutions by saying, “Still, the level I need you to be at is X. Let’s figure out how to get you there.”

  27. Forsyth County*

    Our whole department/facility was closed down today. We all knew it was coming soon and knew to expect layoffs but we thought we’d have a little more notice. Something other than “hey, meeting today: get your stuff and GTFO”. I know it’s for the best in the long run since there was no shortage of dysfunction in the agency but still, some of us have been there for a long time and it’s a wrench to leave. And I have to say I’m quite proud of organizing a networking mailing list. I’ve never done it before and I’m happy to say almost everyone wanted to participate.

    Fingers crossed that I’ll hear something positive soon from a recent job interview! And best wishes to everyone for a better year in 2020!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Wow, that’s really rough for them to do that right after the holidays – I hope you find something better real soon.

    2. Katniss Evergreen*

      Wow that’s crappy timing, especially considering the lack of notice. Good luck to you, I hope you find something better soon!

    3. Dasein9*

      Oof! I’m sorry.

      Good job on organizing the list. Besides networking, I hope it helps you all provide moral support for each other.

  28. High Risk Maternity Worries*

    I am a little over a month way from my induction date and have a high risk pregnancy. Over the Christmas holiday, I was admitted to the hospital for about 5 days due to baby’s heart rate. I’m in a specialized role in my job with a direct line to two departments that heavily relies on my institutional knowledge. They recently put up an ad for a temp but I’m not sure where they are as far as a replacement. Due to health concerns I have a lot more medical appointments in January than anticipated, each comes with the impending threat that I could be hospitalized again for the sake of the baby or even possibly be required to deliver early. I gave my supervisors a heads up over the holidays (because I wouldn’t be able to work from home on certain days like I planned). I have a call with them at lunch time today to discuss my schedule and projects for the rest of January. Any advice on how to prepare? It seems like right now everything is so unpredictable, and there hasn’t yet been a temp to cross-train, though I do have two part-time student workers who report to me. I wonder if it is possible to just work from home all of January at a reduced hourly week (28-32 hours a week perhaps), because squeezing in 40 hours a week with all of the appointments seems almost impossible (baby has a heart defect, so I’m seeing a obgyn, mfm, pediatric cardiologists, and going in for lots of monitoring). Or perhaps just increase my work from home days at the very least. I’m known as a good employee and so far via email they’ve said not to worry about work and focus on health. But I still need a paycheck. Advice or tips for how to go about this conversation?

    1. Fikly*

      Can you prioritize documenting the institutional knowledge over an ongoing projects? That seems to be the critical issue, that you will (understandably) be unpredictably unable to communicate possibly critical information to people at your company. If the knowledge is documented, then they have a better chance of taking over your work.

      1. High Risk Maternity Worries*

        I’ve been documenting as I’ve gone along, but need to pre-plan for the spring which has been delayed due to other projects coming in and taking a higher priority position. I can emphasize that I really need to focus on documentation and see if my bosses and/or student workers can work on execution and fly in assignments.

      2. Rey*

        At this point, it seems like the basic question is, “If today was my last day in the office for (however long your leave is), do you want me to work on A or B?” When you talk to them about needing to focus on documentation, can you specifically say, “There are so many unknowns about my exact delivery date and I won’t be available for # weeks after that date. We also don’t have an exact timeline for a temp replacement, so the only back-up is the part-time student workers. It seems to me that documentation is the highest priority so that everyone has X information for Y project. If that documentation isn’t completed, critical deadline will be delayed for at least # weeks. With that in mind, does that match up with what you had in mind? Is there something else you would like to prioritize ahead of that?” And maybe send a follow-up email after that conversation to recap whatever was decided.

        Happy thoughts for you and your baby in the coming weeks!

    2. Nothemomma*

      As you mentioned specialized and that they heavily rely on your output, can you float the idea of including your managers or other current employees in your cross training? Not necessarily with the expectation they *will* do your role, but as another layer of backup? That would allow for some redundancy and not leave such a large gap for if you are out earlier than expected.

    3. The Rain In Spain*

      Ask to work from home full time until you deliver. Try to delegate what you can/cross train but don’t worry about it too much, you can only do so much. This is the time to leverage your good will/trust you’ve built. If you’re eligible for FMLA it may be worth exploring if you can start early/go intermittent for now.

      1. Katniss Evergreen*

        I’m seconding this – I’m not a doctor but know that there is so much that stress affects with respect to your health. I would definitely emphasize needing to focus on documentation in your meeting with your supervisors, but your health comes first during what is a super trying time. Regardless of what they’re asking or what the org needs from you, they’re going to have to work without you for a portion of time and their lack of planning for redundancy in this aspect shouldn’t be construed as your emergency to fix before you go on leave.

        Good luck to you, and I hope all things medical go alright for you and your baby (fingers crossed no more hospitalizations pre-delivery).

      2. Dasein9*

        It sounds like your job needs you healthy and well in the long run much more than they need you to overwork yourself for specific projects while you have pressing health concerns. Folks will have to take on some extra work and some less-than-ideal decisions may get made, but it is in your colleagues’ best interest for you to rest and make all your appointments.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      Congrats on your baby, and I hope that your delivery and those first weeks go as smoothly as they can.

      I would encourage you to forgive yourself of all the guilt and stress you are feeling about your job. You didn’t ask for a challenging pregnancy or a baby with special needs. And my guess is that even before your pregnancy, you felt that you could never do enough at work, that there were things undone. That’s just the reality sometimes. Tell your bosses what you can do for now, and be realistic. And once induction day comes, take work email off your phone, mute the contacts, and focus on yourself, your baby, and your family.

    5. High Risk Maternity Worries*

      Thanks everyone! I just wrapped up a conversation with my supervisors and took all of your advice. Rey, your script in particular was very helpful. And AnonyNurse your right. Even before pregnancy there was always a lot of work to be done and you never felt like you accomplished everything you wanted to in a week.

      We have a course of action, which mostly involves me wrapping up one major task today, then focusing on documentation and cross-training. They are fine with me directing my own schedule, and just to give them a heads up if I expect to be in the office, available remotely or totally unavailable.

      I was so worried but that went much better than I expected. Thanks Ask a Manager community.

    6. Hi there*

      I think you may have had this conversation already, and, if so, I hope it went well. My employee was in this situation and ended up going on leave very suddenly. Her doctors did not want her to work any more, not even from home. My advice would be to think about how you and your co-workers could prepare for you stopping work with little advance warning. What is the minimum you could do and pass along so they can stagger through? The big mountain of regular work just won’t get done in the same way as usual, which will turn out fine in the end.

      I wish you and the baby all the best. My staff member was induced just a couple weeks out from her due date, and everybody is doing well. She’ll be back in a couple of weeks, which I am looking froward to.

  29. Shy Boo*

    I’m not sure how to approach this with my lead. I work in a less than ideal job for about a year and a half (not great pay, I help customers practically nonstop on busy days when I’d rather sit by myself working on a computer all day, etc.) but I have just been given a warning for how I was doing a part of the job (nothing egregious but requires a shift in how to do my workflow with customers). It was meant to be a 2nd warning, but I honestly couldn’t recall being told the first incident a few months ago was meant to be a warning. At this my anxiety is ramping up and I feel I’m failing at my job now, especially since I had a more serious issue during the summer (where I was written up but immediately took steps to correct my work behavior going forward and it hasn’t been brought up since).

    The kicker is, with the exception of the summer incident, the lastest ones make me feel blindsided: my monthly reviews go well, my stats are within range, and my leads never mention things I could improve in our individual meetings, but then I get a notice about getting a warning like this week, so obviously the meetings aren’t working as intended here.

    Another supervisor (not my boss but on the same level) gave me a few tips on how to improve my workflow, but honestly I realized 2 things: I really don’t like working with customers (I took the job as it pays most bills and I was unemployed at the time) and while I’m mostly friendly, dealing with an onslaught of customers on busy days like the past couple weeks (think literally not having a moment to yourself except for a couple small breaks and lunch) stresses me out a LOT and there’s no way to alleviate that part of the job so I’m to the point I’m mildly stressing outside of work just thinking how bad it’s going to be when I’m back on shift and what fresh new horrors it’ll bring.

    I know I need to ultimately leave and find a different job but, like most, I need the money and really can’t quit without something lined up. In the meantime, I’m not sure how to approach this with my lead, or if I even should? At the very least I’d like to have a better way to get more constructive critism but at this point my mind immediately wants to ask them “am I doing badly?” but almost afraid to know if the truth is yes.

    1. CM*

      I think, mentally, it’s important to accept that you’re not good at this and that’s okay. It’s not what you want to be doing, you’re going to try to find another job, you hate it and it hates you. That’s fine. The trick right now is just to not get fired before you have something lined up, so focus on that.

      If you don’t already know what the process is to get fired, find out. Like, how many warnings do you get? Is there a PIP where you have to meet specific targets? If you haven’t been given a specific target besides “do better than you’re doing currently” ask what the specific target to do better is. What you want is to have clear enough information to gauge how close you are to getting fired so you can make your plans accordingly.

      If their communication hasn’t been good — like, if it was not clear that the first problem they told you about was serious or was moving you along the path to being fired — then it’s okay to say directly, “I felt blindsided when you told me about X, so I want to make sure that I have a clearer sense of where I stand. How close am I to getting fired? What do I need to do to guarantee that I DON’T get fired?”

      But don’t feel any shame or guilt for being bad at this. Treat it like a purely practical problem where you need to keep your income flowing until you GTFO.

      1. Shy Boo*

        Thanks :) I have a general idea of how many warnings one can get before being fired (though naturally there are exceptions if some are really bad) and will definitely let my lead know how this last warning caught me off guard. I’m thinking I may also mention the stressed out part but only if I see another department opening that might be a better fit (it’s a multinational company and there are a few branches that don’t deal with customers much or nearly as frequently) as I still like the company, just this particular job is not my cup of tea.

  30. Fikly*

    Going to pat myself on the back here.

    I’ve been in my current job for almost a year. I love it, best one of my life.

    End of November, I propsed a major project to my manager that I came up with. Basically, there was a common task that I (and everyone else on my team) was having to do manually, it took a lot of time, and I proposed a project to automatic a huge chunk of it.

    I got approval, spent the rest of the year working my butt off on it, owned the project, did almost all the work myself, got it done by the end of 2019, and it launched Jan 1 as planned.

    For reasons, this task is happening extremely often right now, so it’s a big stress test. Everything is going smoothly. There’s been a few tiny hiccups, nothing hard to fix, and I am getting nothing but thanks and cheers from my team.

    This is the first project I’ve done like this, and I am just so flippin proud of myself. I did a thing!

    1. Tabby Baltimore*

      Really, you *do* have a lot to be proud of, Fikly. This is a great example of that old business mantra “work smarter, not harder.” If you have time later on today, I’d be very interested in learning when/how you realized what aspects of your team’s process(es) you could automate, and the steps you took to accomplish that: did you have to ask your team’s data source to deliver the data in a different way? who in the IT department did you talk to, to re-jigger the transfer or data load processes? did you have to re-work the front-end user interface any? etc.

      Bigger picture here, I think finding ways to automate manual business processes is going to be an increasingly important skill for America’s workers to have. I hope future posters who do this (you don’t have to be in IT, maybe you just created an Excel spreadsheet that could receive “outside the team” data and then boosted it with effective formulas) will consider starting a sub-thread on the Friday free-for-all to talk about how they did that.

      1. Fikly*

        Thanks!

        So essentially, the task was to verify that individuals signing up for a service my company provides (which is paid for by their employer as a benefit) are eligible as defined by their employer. The company sends over lists of who is eligible, and we have an automated process on our website where they put in their information, but if it doesn’t match precisely (for example, if they use the acronym for their company name, not the fully spelled out name, or if their work email has changed and the one on the list is an old one) it’ll come back as an error, and get sent to my team to verify manually, because human brains > computer program.

        This gets tricky, because every company has different criteria by which they define who is eligible. For example, it can be things like, do they also get health insurance through the company, or just, are they benefits-eligible, and then on top of that, some companies are employee-only, while others include dependents, and then you get into the whole separate issue of who counts as a dependent, which is also company specific!

        Then, because we offer 9-10 different services essentially ala carte, each company chooses what services they want to offer, so we also have to check which services that person can sign up for.

        The company I work for is at an interesting stage where we have been small enough that a lot of institutional knowledge is in everyone’s heads, and not documented terribly well, and when it is written down, it’s scattered in a variety of places. We are hitting a point now where this is just not practical anymore because we’ve gotten too big. (Thankfully the company as a whole is recognizing this and actively working to put in structure and documentation that we could get by without before!)

        My team already uses pre-written macros for a lot of typical member communication, that we will lightly edit before sending out, for convenience and standardization. So what I proposed was to make a macro (well, two) for each company that spelled out who was eligible, what the criteria were, what services they could get from us, and also, what information we needed from them to verify them (this also varies by company).

        So part of the project was writing the language, but a big chunk of the project was doing all the research to get all the accurate information for each company. And then there was all the fine editing to make everything shiny, which I really enjoy because I geek out about that stuff.

        I realized this was a problem because every time I was having to do this the old way, I was spending 10-15 minutes looking up what the eligibility criteria were, and a good part of the time, the information just wasn’t there, and it was causing a problem. My first thought was to do some kind of massive spreadsheet that held all this information, but then I thought about the macros, because we were already using them for a few companies, and were already using them for other communications, so then we would have universal standard language plus accurate information.

        This task is actually a minor part of my team’s job, but it was taking up way too much time, plus each time we had to look stuff up, we had a chance of making an error. Having the macros solves a bunch of that!

        I am jokingly telling my team when they thank me for making their lives easier that I did it for me, they are just experiencing a fringe benefit. Because really, it was me getting annoyed every time I did this task and going “there has to be a better way!”

    2. Emily*

      Congratulations, great work!

      (Please picture the following:
      Party popper emoji, massive confetti splash, extra party popper emojis, plus a big bottle of Champagne!)

  31. Maria*

    Just wanted to give an update from last week when my administration asked for the week off. I did as other managers if they would let their team help out and pick up the extra work. They were not happy with that. I then spoke to the grand boss. He agrees her workload is too much but insists that she work for him.

    She actually came in today. She said she felt bad because she was so ‘assertive’ with me last week and was very emotional. I want to help but staff here are set in their ways.

    I do think that she will end up burning out but she is too scared to own it.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Then what are you doing to help mitigate her burnout? It doesn’t sound like you’re trying very hard at all to advocate for your employee with either the other managers or your own boss. It makes no sense for your assistant to be doing two jobs while all the other assistants in your department have time to sit around and talk all day. And she shouldn’t have apologized to you because she was absolutely correct in what she said and how she said it – I hope you didn’t just accept her apology as if it was owed without offering one yourself.

    2. Mockingjay*

      Maria, there are still things you can – and should – do for your employee. If Grandboss insists that she continue supporting him, I strongly urge you to prioritize the tasks that you give her, and reduce those to a critical few.

      I am not sure what you mean by “owning it.” She’s tired and overworked, asked for time off, didn’t get all she needed to rest up, and still came back, even though her workload is still too much. I’d be emotional too, if I was that worn out.

    3. Lehigh*

      Can you own it for her? It sounds like she has been pretty clear about the situation with you. If she is as good as you say, and you want to keep her, wouldn’t it be worth *you* being the one as her manager that takes the proactive steps you need to make her work life livable?

      I’m concerned that you let her come in today and apologize, instead of insisting she take the time off that she clearly needs.

      I’m not a manager, so maybe I am off here, but it seems to me like part of being management and having more pay & responsibility, etc., is so that you are empowered to take over in these kinds of situations.

      1. valentine*

        you let her come in today and apologize, instead of insisting she take the time off that she clearly needs.
        Yes. I wish you had told her to go home, come in late post-vacay to make up for the interruption to her vacation, and assured her she could leave the matter with you and you would reduce her workload and get her a bonus and raise and, if grandboss said no, you’d let her job search on the clock and give her the most fantastic recommendation.

        I did as other managers if they would let their team help out and pick up the extra work. They were not happy with that. I then spoke to the grand boss.
        If grandboss is your manager, maybe the thing to do is to tell him the choices are: (1) say bye-bye to department functionality because there’s no backstop for this great lady and she’s leaving on her own or via doctor’s orders (2) hire support or instruct the other managers to take on some of her work. If grandboss is saying he doesn’t want the other admins working for him, you’re looking at (1) and you have your head in the sand about it. Even if he’s the type who needs the house to burn down before he will move, your role is not to throw your hands up and blame your report for not following through on standing up to you, then wait for the fire and be a one-woman cleanup crew, but to tell him (1) is coming, so you’re going to reduce her work (Is the work she does for him a reasonable amount, so that you can reduce her workload to just that?) and otherwise help her avoid a serious health crisis.

    4. TCO*

      Once you’ve really tried everything to help reduce your admin’s workload (and given that you just started focusing on that this week, you haven’t tried everything yet) or increase her job satisfaction (higher pay than the other admins, etc.), you’ll need to accept that she might choose to leave if the situation doesn’t improve. That’s the cost of your workplace not taking action to retain an essential employee.

      If she leaves, you need to be entirely supportive of her decision. Be a great reference and don’t use the “we can’t survive without you” lines again.

    5. WellRed*

      Well of course she came in. The whole lot of you did nothing to make her feel like she could take the time off. What exactly, did you say to the grand boss and what did you propose to him, with specifics, of how to fix this? What have you offered to take off her plate?

      Sorry to be harsh, but your admin isn’t the only one who needs to “own it.”

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She DID try to own it. She told you flat out that she needed a week off and she was met with resistance. Regardless of what happened afterwards, that resistance is sticking with her.

      What did you say to her when she came in? Did you strongly suggest that she go home? Did you apologize for not recognizing her impending burnout and for pushing back? The first thing you need to do to help is to make it easier for her to take care of herself. “Please take a week off. I will deal with the fallout,” is a start.

    7. Mike C.*

      Give her the time off and quit mistreating your employees. If you want to talk about “ownership”, why can’t you take ownership for the way you treat her?

    8. Not A Manager*

      It’s interesting that this post is coming after a few posts about employees who are blindsided by getting a bad review, or being fired, when in fact they were given very clear warning.

      You’re going to lose this lady. She told you exactly what’s going on with her and what she needs from you. She also told you what would happen if things don’t get better. When she gives her notice (or rage-quits), don’t be all like “but she never owned it!”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Agreed. Maria, I say this with all due respect – you need serious management training. Given the sound of your leadership team, however, I don’t think you’re going to get it on the job. Please consider enrolling in outside management training courses and/or read management books (Alison’s would be a good start) so you can better learn how to manage direct reports and advocate on their behalf.