open thread – January 31, 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.

{ 1,697 comments… read them below }

  1. Folklorist*

    How do I keep going when I know I want to quit? I’ve been at my job for just over five years now. I loved it at the beginning, but I’ve slowly found myself growing out of the position. Now my beloved boss is retiring. I share an office with an annoying coworker who might be soon poised to become my boss—but even the sound of her voice sends me into BEC mode. There are a few other responsibilities I could pick up and some other responsibilities that I hate that could be shed, but the essential job will still remain the same, and I’m so so bored with it.

    My work is slipping. I suddenly dread coming into work and have been finding excuses to come in late or “work from home” where I do minimal work. Yes, I know this just makes me look bad. It perpetuates distrust of people who work from home. It makes me look immature and careless. But…I am careless. I literally don’t care. My work has traditionally been excellent. It’s still really good. It’s just way too easy for me to phone it in and still get a good result. I’m meeting my deadlines, but barely, and doing the bare minimum to still fulfill my job function.

    How do I keep caring? I don’t want to be this person. My excellent boss is still my boss for a few more months and I don’t want to let him down. My annoying coworker, while annoying, is still essentially a good person who is kind of carrying me right now. I’ve started job searching and applying, reaching out to old contacts. I’ve been approached by some recruiters. But until that next job comes along (and I know it could be a while!) how do I keep my spirit and my productivity up?

    1. ursula*

      Did I black out and write this? I don’t have the annoying coworker who will become my boss but otherwise this is me.

      I have had a bit of success with trying to look at what’s on my plate and identifying where I have the opportunity to wrap something up and turn it into a positive line item on my CV – if you do a push in a certain area, can you get some great stats out of it? Can you successfully fix a process that isn’t working? What would you *like* to be able to say about your work, and how can you push through to some of those highlights so you can use them in job interviews? Mostly though, I just feel you.

      1. Miz Behaven*

        Do we work in the same office?! I am sorry to hear that others are in the same situation; it’s very stressful. All I have figured out is to try not to be too bothered by the annoyances (take lots of walks during the work day) and look for another opportunity elsewhere. Good luck to you both too!

    2. ThatGirl*

      First, I’d say take a few days off as soon as you can for your mental/emotional health and try to reset your attitude a little, and build in those breaks going forward if you can.

      Second, remember that you want a good reference, you want to be able to point at things you did well for your next job, you (potentially) want to keep these connections for future networking. It’s ok to not give it 100%, but I assume you would want to look back and be proud of what you did. Try to keep the long view in mind.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        + 1, especially the part about taking rest days – that’s so vitally important for our mental health and productivity. Unfortunately, some people don’t get enough time off from work, so they have to find other ways to decompress.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      Think about working there as preparation for your next job. Think about how you want to be able to get a really good reference, and have prospective employers hear that you’re a hard worker who does a great job. Let your potential future job motivate you to do well at this one, so that instead of ending on a low note and having be a possible mark against you, it ends on a high note and is a mark in your favor. Maybe see if you can take on some of those new responsibilities (and shift some of those bad ones out) so you can learn a new skill or two that would be helpful in another job.

      1. NeonDreams*

        This is really good advice. I’m also in a situation where I dread work every day. My production metric went down significantly last month due to the culmination of everything that happened last year work wise. It’s better this month, but not what I’m capable of doing. My boss is supposed to do my yearly eval soon. I’m nervous about what she’ll say about the lower performance. but I’ll tell her-I’m burnt out to the core.

      2. True that*

        This is good advice and the kind I’m following in a sort-of-similar situation. I’ve done stellar work in my job of 5 years but many parts of my job never panned out the way they were supposed to and I’ve never felt there was enough work to really justify my position being full-time. In addition, no higher-ups want anything to change here, so I’m stuck following the same (kind of outdated) processes instead of driving any kind of change. I need to stay for a while because of the nice pay and benefits, and I want to be known as someone who does great work, but it turns out that when you don’t care about the job, things do seem to start falling through the cracks. So I’ve been doing professional development in my down time at work. I’ve been finishing my own work well before deadlines so a) I am still that stellar employee, and b) I carve out time this way to focus on things I need to know or get experience in at my future dream job. I even sometimes sign myself up for free professional webinars, so I *have* to finish my own work and not slack off, but then I get the reward of working on my skills for my next role.

    4. The Rain In Spain*

      For me, knowing I was taking steps to leave helped me stick it out for a few months. But why not talk to your boss about an opportunity for growth now? Taking on new responsibilities (even as you’re looking for other jobs) may help you stay focused.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I agree about talking to the boss about this now – he may even be able to help OP transition to a new role in a different department if the coworker is in fact going to take over once he leaves (and, ugh – OP, I feel you on that note of dread – see my own question below). It may be that OP needs a change of scenery, but not necessarily one at a new company altogether.

        1. Folklorist*

          I’ve actually already talked to my boss about it! One of the reasons he’s my beloved boss is because I CAN come to him with this stuff. We came up with some things that I can change, but it won’t be enough of a change, even if they’re approved by the powers-that-be (who kind of suck and probably won’t accept them). My company is pretty small and there’s nothing else I’m interested in doing here.

    5. Pam Beesly*

      I feel this so hard, as I am in a similar situation. I wish I had advice for you but I don’t. I’ve been applying to other jobs because I have absolutely no motivation and can only see myself becoming more miserable as time goes by, even though I have great pay and benefits. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

      1. Folklorist*

        Yeah, my benefits are great, but my pay sucks. I could make twice what I’m making elsewhere if I left, and have had our HR person tell my boss that I basically wasn’t worth a raise.

        1. Pam Beesly*

          Oof. I asked my boss for more responsibility and she said no. I hope you find a company that values you.

          1. Folklorist*

            She’s the director of all the HR stuff and ultimately approves salaries (I think). She’s angling to become CEO after our current guy steps down. She has supposed rankings of what fair market value for our positions and experience, so even though I presented industry proof showing that I was making $15k below what I should be, whatever her internal docs she has say differently. Basically, she didn’t want to approve money for a raise as a power trip and the CEO listened to her. My wonderful boss threatened to quit on my behalf if I didn’t get any sort of raise, so they gave me a small merit raise to shut us both up–but I’m still making much less than I should. I’ve stayed until now because the work was interesting and I was growing a lot, my boss is fantastic, and our medical benefits are stellar. Now that my boss is leaving, only one of those three things are true.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Oh wow – it sounds like there needs to be a compensation study performed at your company if you’re that far below market and her documentation doesn’t support it. Unfortunately, since she’s the head of HR, it doesn’t sound like she’d call for one. Ugh – you have my sympathies.

              1. Software Engineer*

                Well, from the CEO and HR head’s perspective, the salary they pay is just fine, as OP hasn’t quit yet.

              2. Pookie's Mom*

                I was in a similar situation working for a non profit in an HR-related area. I took the job at a low salary to re-enter the workforce after 14 years. I had increased responsibilities to a specialist level over time and had gotten some small bumps but my salary was well below market rates. Others in the organization had similar issues so a comp study was conducted by someone outside the organization; I was told that my pay was at the correct level within the organization. I had been widowed and could not live on the low pay but was not in a state to move on. During this time, our wonderful boss announced she was retiring in two years so the HR director who oversaw the comp study appointed himself our direct supervisor. This caused a long-time specialist to leave. When the replacement was hired, I was abruptly given an 18% raise. It seems that I had been classified the same as the other specialist but she had a lot more seniority so had been paid more. A qualified replacement could not be hired at what they paid me, much less at the entry level rate, so they had to hire at market rate Due to the nature of our work, I would see her pay from day one( and not be at all happy) so the only solution was to raise my pay. This and a couple of other incidents made me lose all respect for the new boss. I found another job.

    6. Ms. Cellophane*

      I told myself that my goal was to leave the current place with outstanding references and everything I do now needs to be done toward that goal. Suddenly I am interested in the work, I am doing additional training, have a good attitude, etc. It also helps that have an end date – even if it has to change later. It gives you something to look forward to and you’ll know that the bad stuff won’t last forever.

    7. CallofDewey*

      This has been me the past few months! One of the biggest things that was going on was some undiagnosed mental health issues. Once I got those taken care of and started therapy/meds, my motivation returned. So consider that- is there something else going on? I can’t say either way for you, but it’s worth reflecting on.

      1. Folklorist*

        Thanks for this! I’m actually up to date on my meds and therapy, etc., but I always feel like this is a question worth reflecting on. I think that one of the reasons I’m feeling this way is BECAUSE I’ve been doing so well with all of that stuff. I’m over my impostor syndrome and know that I can do a lot better in a bigger role and I’m really bored with what I’m doing. I now believe it when people tell me I’m too talented for this and have been taking a lot of steps lately to set myself up for better and more creative positions. For a long time, I thought that I could be happy keeping this role and phoning it in as long as I had interesting creative hobbies outside of this, but I don’t think I can.

    8. Jean*

      I’ve been there, big time.

      In my view, you don’t have to keep caring as long as you’re not creating a problem for anyone else. It’s OK to phone it in as long as your work is still good and you’re not doing anything that would compromise your personal integrity/values.

      Your company will replace you when you leave and things will go on as they always have, just without you there. Beyond the work you do for them, they don’t care about you, so why worry that you’re caring enough about them? Put the lion’s share of your effort and motivation into finding a new job where you will be happier. Best of luck in your search.

        1. Jean*

          You are so welcome. Best of luck to you as well. There is a better job out there for you. I know searching can be demoralizing, but in the end, when you’re in a happier spot, it will be worth it.

    9. Dasein9*

      The above advice is all excellent! The only thing I’d add is to loop in your team: the people who root for you most. Good friends and even a counselor or therapist, if we have one, can help us stay accountable to our job-seeking projects.

    10. RestResetRule*

      You can’t keep caring. Once the fire dies, that’s it in my experience. Applying is good but in terms of keeping your morale up, that’s a mystery to me. Maybe just keep working on your skills or try to learn new ones in your spare time that could help you in anew job.

    11. MissGirl*

      Give yourself a deadline to be out. If you can say, I will be gone in one year or six months, it can make getting through so much easier. Bob’s a tool, so what, in six months he’ll be someone else’s tool.

      It’ll also motivate your job search. You’ll start applying more because you’ve only got a certain amount of time. You’ll perform better, knowing this is the last impression they’ll have of you.

      It’s also helps you to think out of the box. Let’s say nine months goes by and no job is on the horizon. You might start rethinking your industry, your career, or your approach. It’ll keep you from doing the same thing with the same results for years.

      I did this five years ago. One day I realized I was done at my job and needed to get out. I started applying to jobs, researching different career paths, and asking people their experiences. I ended up completely changing careers but most people won’t have to be so drastic.

    12. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      This is so me. My job is going to change soon because I threatened to quit but I worry it’ll be more of the same. I’m in a holding pattern – my replacement won’t be ready for another week and I’m just hanging on

    13. Workerbee*

      Well, this may not be the best advice…

      This was me, last year. I didn’t realize at first that my feelings of hating to get up for work, not talking as much to colleagues, and working far more at home than before were because I was getting burned out–when before I thought I’d be a lifer!–but once I did, I made the decision to go full-force into job search, which paid off.

      Here’s my what-to-do-in-the-meantime experience:

      I’d built up capital in that company as an engaging person who gets things done. Good; I used that. I still was able to produce excellent (or excellent-seeming) work, but the difference was that I didn’t put in all the effort and caring on the INSIDE that I’d used to. (It definitely made me think about all the effort & caring I’d poured into previous work things where perhaps I could have reserved some of that for self-care!) And I realized that yeah, sometimes I could get by doing the bare minimum. I made sure to act appropriately and enthusiastically while on the inside it was the thought that one day I’d be out of that place that kept me going.

      You’re doing all you can, and you know how not to detonate the bridge you’re standing on, so I feel confident you’ll get through this without too much angst. It’s tough while you’re in the middle of it, but then you’ll be free!

      1. Folklorist*

        I really like this, thanks! And you’re right, I’ve definitely put in tons of care in the past when I didn’t necessarily need to. I’ve also been super-busy and overwhelmed in my personal life for…months, if not years, now. Every time I think I’m going to get a break in that, something else happens. I think I’m going to follow your advice and the advice of others–after we shuffle out this one project next week, I’m going to take a long weekend and decompress hard-core. Then put everything into my job search and use the knowledge that I’ll be out of there to help buoy my spirits and fake it until I’m out–but also reserve some care for myself. I don’t have to be 110% all the time. Accepting that will help me a lot in the long term.

    14. ANON.*

      My god – I feel like I could’ve written this! I’m also feeling so…careless, and I can tell some work is slipping. Not a lot, but some. I’m not proud about it, but I haven’t found a way to keep myself engaged with the work anymore.

      I think a new job is likely the only answer, but I’m worried about benefits. I currently have a great amount of PTO accrued at my current job, and a fair amount of days off tentatively planned for this summer. If I find a new job sometime in the coming months, it’s likely I won’t be able to take that much time off so soon after my start date.

      So I think my only answer is to hold out in my current job until after the summer???

      1. lasslisa*

        A lot of places will let you take an unpaid vacation early if you let them know it’s already planned before you accept the offer. It just needs to be part of your offer negotiations.

    15. butters*

      I don’t have any advice but thank you for sharing, I feel like I could have written this and it’s comforting to know that others out there feel the same way.

      1. Folklorist*

        Same! I hate that I’ve touched a nerve in so many people, and so many people are in the same position–but it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    16. Jules the 3rd*

      Check whether there’s any training / education you can do, either tied to improving current tasks, or to prepare you for a new role. Sometimes breaking the routine can help get you through.

    17. NaoNao*

      Wow, this was me a year ago-ish. I was desperate! My coping strategies:

      Passion and focus outside of work, including great self care and lots of treats and perks.

      Taking advantage (in a good way) of all the company had to offer. I used the on site gym. I used my Vision Benefit to purchase new glasses for the first time in 7 years. I looked into a nanodegree and I took Linked In learning using the company’s license (with approval!). I set stretch goals and focused on pushing them through (like doing a 360 immersive video in training products). I used the company discount (again, with approval).

      I focused on making my resume the best it could be and cold-emailing CEOs of small start ups and other people I thought might be interested. I applied for jobs every week.

      Ultimately, I made a jump to a job that didn’t work out BUT I’m in a third job that is so much better now.

    18. Emilitron*

      Congrats on knowing that it’s time to leave. One thing that helped me in a similar situation was starting to write up my projects as if I was about to be gone. It was a task that needed doing (status reports, etc) and sometimes that helped me identify tasks that I could complete in a week or so and make actual progress. But also helped me think about what my job really was and wasn’t, and what aspects of my job were really replaceable (i.e. feel no guilt at walking right out the door when I get another offer) but also what I was doing that is really unique to me (and made me less miserable about my drooping contributions). Best of all, it was a way to harness that vindictive energy (oh yeah? you are terrible! Guess what, I’m totally working on leaving, and I can’t tell you so, but let me go work on my succession binder)

      1. Assistant Alpaca Attendant*

        I have sooo been there! Sending sympathies.

        Things that have helped me in the past when dealing with this kind of situation:
        1. Leave work at work as much as possible. If you’re coming in late, stay long enough to make up the time, if required by your job/industry, but don’t leave a second later than you need to.
        2. Get out of the office sometimes for lunch, coffee, or even just a five minute walk around the building as your schedule/location allows,so you’re not staring at your desk alllllll day.

        Work from a library or coffee shop next time you work from home, or work in a conference room if one is available. Sometimes a change of scenery can shake up the dread.

        3.Find something non work related that you can look forward to and feel a sense of accomplishment over. Start a craft project and work on it a little every day after work, maybe sign up for a class, learn an instrument, try new recipes, watch a new movie every week, whatever works for you that you like.

        4. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts.in your commute. I find it gives me something to look forward to and takes a little dread out of going to work in the morning and a distraction/transition to leaving work. I only listen to audiobooks in the car, so I can’t find out what happens unless I get in the car.
        5. Start a casual job search. Even if I don’t want to leave or do not have the energy for full job searching, just scanning listings to see what’s out there and which listings jump out at me makes me feel less trapped.

    19. CaVanaMana*

      I was suffering from this sense of needing to care and this is what I told myself and it helped:

      Free yourself. You do not need to care about work. You need to do your work. Your feelings about it don’t need to be anyone’s business. It doesn’t matter how many motivational emails, meetings and posters exist, and there is no matter in how many interactions you have to suffer through where it feels like the colleague or a boss type genuinely has a sense of purpose from the work you do. That’s not your headspace. You do not need to care and you don’t need to understand where they’re coming from to do the job even if you were once there yourself. It doesn’t matter.

      If you feel like some sense of caring is what you need to stay motivated, think outside the job itself. What do you care about? What’s your goal? What’s your reason for being there? Ultimately when you have a job, you’re making a choice to be there and as with all choices, it’s your responsibility to know why you made that choice. I mean, otherwise, you’re just reacting. You’re probably better than an ameoba just reacting to stimuli or at least, it feels better as a human to think so. Can you take those things and break your work down moment by moment so you can do while your there?

      Let go when you’re not working. Of course, time off is super important. If you can’t get any vacation, when it starts to drain you, can you take an extra 5-15 mins a few times throughout the day? Outside? Never the break room. Get away from the corporate noise.

      For me, I like having work friends. Do you have any work friends? Not like, we get along because we are in the same building types but people who you can be yourself with and people who are themselves with you? Take 5 mins and chat about something totally not work related, or make fun of that last email. A real laugh at the nonsense goes a long way, or if that’s not your jam grab a few minutes to do whatever makes you feel less like a company robot and more like you. After only a couple minutes come back to the tasks at hand. That way you’re at 100% for most of the day rather than struggling to be at 50% all day and the boss woman? I’m sure she prefers that.

  2. Stephen!*

    First of all, let me say a huge thank you to everyone who responded to my question about my creepy coworker last week. I was overwhelmed  (in a good way!) by all the comments and they were so incredibly helpful.

    I work in a different city than my supervisor. After weighing all the options, I called to talk him. I can’t tell you all the turmoil and anxiety I went through over the weekend, wondering if he would believe me, if he would take it seriously and so on… but after relating the first incident, his response was “What?!? Noooooo. Not appropriate.” And throughout the rest of the conversation, “that is not appropriate,” “that is not okay,” and “no” were gratifyingly common.

    There is a formal reporting process that has to be followed and I’m still anxious about that and any fallout that may occur, but in the meantime, no more working with Creepy Coworker!

    *And for some bonus retroactive ickiness- after the first incident, as we were driving back to town, he pointed out a property owned by a man who has been in the news for his reprehensible treatment of women. At the time I didn’t think about it, and from any other co-worker it wouldn’t register on my creep-o-meter, but from Creepy McCreeperson? Yuck.

    1. ursula*

      I’m so glad you did this and were taken seriously! Remember that even if there is fallout, it’s because of other people having skewed priorities – you are 100% in the right here.

        1. I'm that person*

          I am glad that you reported him to your boss. It seemed to me that he was grooming you, starting out with things that he could pretend to be offended about if you “took them the wrong way” and then escalating so that we he finally got physical he could claim that “you wanted it” because you never said no before.

    2. FormerFirstTimer*

      I’m so glad you updated us! Your supervisor sounds like he has a decent head on his shoulders. Or at least watches the news and knows the kind of fallout this could bring if not handled quickly.

    3. Three owls in a trench coat*

      I am so glad you were able to talk to your supervisor about this and that he responded by supporting and believing you. It’s awful you had to deal with all those super creepy comments but yay for no more working with Creepy Coworker!

      Like Ursula said, you did nothing wrong here, in fact you did the right thing by making your supervisor aware of it. I hope this all gets resolved and things start getting better for you.

    4. Workerbee*

      Bravo! It was a difficult decision and I hope you can breathe more deeply now. I know there’s still that process to come, but you 100% did nothing wrong AND you aren’t going it alone anymore. I am glad you were listened to and actions will be taken. The persons who are paid to handle the brunt of this can earn that part of their paycheck. :)

      Your safety is also 100% more important than any feelings Creepazoid may have about being reported, which are probably comprised of anger at being called on his behavior. That’s not yours to manage at all. He had a choice each time and he deliberately chose the wrong one. He was counting on you not saying or doing anything. HE has no problem being creepy, remember, and not being held accountable for his actions, and for putting you into awkward or even dangerous situations. Whereas you stopped an escalating situation from potentially becoming worse, which is hard to do with society so adamant that people stay nice & shut up, so again–bravo.

      I hope you get some good relaxing/healing time this weekend.

    5. Buttons*

      *hugs* I am so proud of you for going to your boss and I am so happy that he responded the way he did!!! YEAH! I know the reporting process and the aftermath are scary, that is what keeps so many women from doing anything. Good luck, and please keep us posted.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I looked at all. the. comments. and I said to myself, ” OP has to know that they are right on target here.”
      I am so glad that you talked to your boss and double glad the boss was so supportive.

      Thanks for this follow up, it’s good to know that you went forward with this one. I am sure you had a very restless weekend, it’s not easy doing this stuff, worse yet there is more than one reason why it’s not easy. Unfortunately, this was not a situation that would get better on it’s own, leaving you not much choice.

    7. Quinalla*

      So glad your supervisor’s response was what it should be, hope it continues to go well as the formal process unfolds!

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      I came back this week to see if you’d updated…

      VERY glad you were able to take this step and get a good first reaction. As others have said, if there’s push back, it’s on Creepy Coworker. You didn’t get him in trouble, he got himself in trouble.

    9. It's business time*

      Great update, it is good that you were heard by your manager and action is being taken!

      SSDGM!

    10. AnonEMoose*

      I missed the post last week – I’m so glad you went to your supervisor, and that he took you seriously and supported you. Please keep us posted to the extent you can!

  3. Racecar*

    Should I withdraw from this internal job?

    6 months ago I applied for an internal role. At the time that job had been open for 5 months already (hard to find skills). I have 9 of the 10 skills.

    Original manager was going to meet with me, but then it went to a new manager “Devon”. I knew both managers pretty well.

    I caught up with Devon about 2 weeks after the transition and he seemed annoyed I asked so I dropped it.

    A few months later, I sent a follow up asking for next steps or a timeline. Radio silence.

    In the meantime Devon and his team have been asking me for a lot a help doing the work this role would be in charge of. Recently I have pulled way back on helping him or his team since its been such a one way street for 4+ months now.

    Honestly I am feeling pretty negative about Devon. Being rejected for a role is fine, but being ignored for an internal role is not especially since he clearly needed my expertise.

    I also get the feeling I am a last resort. That if their plans to find the unicorn aren’t met by XX months they will settle on me. I resent that, but its also conjecture based on circumstantial evidence due to them not actually talking to me.

    On the other hand, this is a great role with growth potential and great portability. But if I feel this negative about it already, I don’t even know how I would be able to ask about the lack of communication without coming across defensively. Withdrawing from the role also feels passive aggressive somehow.

    Help!

    1. Holy Moley*

      Sounds like they are trying to get by with having you do the work without filling the position and paying you. I would definitely pull away. Six months is a long time especially for an internal application. They should compensate you fairly for the work you are performing especially if you are assisting his team outside of your normal duties.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Your first sentence was my immediate thought – they’re not in a hurry to fill the role because OP’s already doing it for free.

    2. CL Cox*

      Have you reached out to HR? You may not be getting answers form the managers because they honestly don’t know.

    3. IL JimP*

      Could it just be Devon is getting up to speed as the new manager? It could be a low priority and probably hasn’t responded because they don’t know the answer yet. Obviously it would be better to say they don’t know but in my experience people generally have a hard time admitting that.

      1. Krabby*

        People who have a hard time admitting they don’t know something, or who maintain radio silence after multiple attempts to start a conversation, usually aren’t people you want to work for.

        1. Leela*

          True, it’s also possible that he’s been asked not to mention anything until whoever needs to has made their decision, they could be on vacation and Devon is freaking out not getting answers too!

    4. Krabby*

      It sounds like this Devon guy will be awful to work for, but it might be worthwhile to still take the job and then move on after a year if it’s a big step in the right direction for you. If that’s the case, then I wouldn’t withdraw your candidacy.

      However, definitely pull way back on helping, and if you get asked why, just say, “Oh, I assumed since I hadn’t been contacted for an interview for X role yet that I’m no longer in the running. If you don’t think I’m a good fit, then I really want to focus on [different job area] so that I can build my skills there.”

    5. RecoveringSWO*

      How is your actual manager? If she’s any good, I would ask her for support ASAP and tell her about Devon’s requests regardless. She should know that another manager is trying to give you excessive tasking in case it impacts your current work and to stand up for you if Devon suggests that you’re not cooperative/a team player. She would be the ideal person to tell him that he needs to sh*t or get off the pot when it comes to hiring you because she either needs to post your position for hiring and get it filled or trust that you have time to work on your primary duties.

      1. Racecar*

        My own boss is very non confrontational so usually caves to the “not a team player” complaints.

        He has also not been letting me do as much travel etc. citing this other app and justifying it as “whats the value if you leave”.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          Ugh, that stinks. That changes the Devon calculation a little bit for me–I wouldn’t withdraw the application because it’s not like your current boss is great. I’d do some job searching but not be afraid to take the internal role and bounce with new skills and experience later.

        2. Krabby*

          I take back my earlier comment. If your current boss is holding you back because of the application, I’d go to HR for an update or withdraw your candidacy. Then if they ask, be honest, “I couldn’t afford to miss out on professional opportunities in my current role if I wasn’t hearing anything about this opportunity. When I followed up with Devon for any information, I didn’t hear anything back, so I assumed I was no longer in the running anyway.”

          But honestly, maybe it’s just time to leave. This sounds like a BS situation you’ve been put in.

    6. disconnect*

      Are your options limited to “tell them you want to continue” or “tell them you want to withdraw”? Because option C is just dropping the rope. If they come back to you and say “hey we’re interested now”, you can reassess your own interest at that time. But for right now, I’d mentally move on from this role, direct future inquiries from Devon to your boss and tell your boss what you’re doing (“I’m finding that doing this work for Devon is interfering with my other deliverables; what should I prioritize?”), and polish up my resume and network. There are a lot of roles at a lot of companies where you don’t have to walk on eggshells to avoid irritating anyone but also make sure that you’re heard. And until you get one, assume nothing’s going to happen here and act accordingly.

    7. RC Rascal*

      I would ask your current manager to help draw some boundaries around your time. Devon sounds like he is using you; I agree. Your duties at your current role need to come first. I would go to your current manager and ask for help prioritizing your tasks. Explain how you have projects for your role, and then Devon projects. (Ideally, Devon projects are keeping you from diving more deeply into your projects, or from starting work on something currently in the parking lot. If not, figure out something else you could be working on for your boss instead of for Devon with that time.) Explain to boss. If boss has any sophistication about this, they will help you prioritize and tell Devon he can’t have your time while you are in current role. Boundaries are your friend.

  4. Diahann Carroll*

    TLDR: I need some scripts for how to tell my boss that I don’t want my coworker to become my new manager next year.

    Last week, my manager confirmed for me that he will be leaving his position sometime next year (he doesn’t know exactly when yet, just that it’s definitely for sure now next year – he was supposed to have left late last year, but ended up getting an extension). This confirmation came after he casually asked me where I saw myself in five years, and I stated I wanted to still be doing something similar to what I’m currently doing now, just on a larger scale – basically, becoming my team’s content SME, which I kind of already am.

    I also told him I had no desire to really manage people – projects, yes. But now I’m concerned about what will happen once he moves on from us. My coworker works very closely to him because she implements the stuff he and I come up with – basically, she does the technical piece of our job while I focus on the creative. I also spend more time working on projects with my dotted line manager’s team, so my manager and I only chat maybe once a week if that (our weekly meeting was cancelled today because he had a crisis come up with another team he had to step in and help solve).

    Anyway, my coworker is good at her job – if not a little slow to get things done – but she’s also very territorial over her work, which manager has expressed some visible frustration with. She’s also incredibly negative all the time. She sits in meetings and criticizes everyone’s ideas (except for mine – she’s usually in agreement with me and if she isn’t to start with, once I make my case, she comes around), including our manager’s, and other people on our larger team have already expressed annoyance with her and how she interacts with them (she’s been called The Human Eeyore more than once).

    I can deal with coworker in small doses – she constantly interrupts people when talking, spends upwards of 30 minutes arguing points no one makes during meetings, will call you and drag out the conversation for more than an hour while repeating the same talking points over and over again – I can’t deal with this managing me.

    I’m a very blunt person, and I don’t often choose my words nicely when telling people about themselves, even at work, so I need some appropriate words to get this across to my manager that if he and grandboss are beginning the succession planning conversation for his role, they need to either hire someone external to take over (which will be extremely difficult – we barely have internal people who have the level of institutional knowledge my manager has, let alone trying to find that in an outsider) or grandboss needs to be our direct manager. If they promote her up to take his role, I will either transfer to another team internally or leave the company altogether. The latter would be awful since I really love this company – the pay is great, my benefits are the best I’ve had yet, and I get to work from home full time. It will be very hard to find something else this good someplace else.

    1. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Do you have the sense that she is in line to be your manager, or are you just making sure to cover all your bases? Does the company tend to promote internally only?

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Well, we’re on a small team within a larger one. Recently, the manager of the larger team, who was also me and coworker’s former direct manager, transferred internally to another department. One of her direct reports was promoted up to her role by grandboss, which made sense – former boss had been grooming her for about 8 years to take over once she eventually left.

        I just wanted to have this conversation in the event that grandboss decided to just move one of us up like he did on the larger team – I definitely don’t want my manager’s job, but I also do not want to report to my coworker for the aforementioned reasons, and I want grandboss to be aware of that.

    2. Fibchopkin*

      Hmmm, you say you are normally a very blunt person, so I’m not sure why this is the one situation where you would not be. It seems to me that this particularly requires a direct, honest approach. I would go to your current manager (not your grandboss yet, unless you have a particularly close relationship) and bluntly state, “I love working here, I’m sad to think of you leaving, and I want to be clear that I want to stay here doing creative work and I don’t want to throw my hat in the ring for your position after you’re gone, but I want to be equally clear that if Eeyore is put in place as my manager, I will have to find work elsewhere- either in another internal team, or with another organization.” Is there a reason you wouldn’t want to be direct with your manager about this?

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yeah, I’m thinking that the OP’s direct style of communication is why she doesn’t have as many issues with this coworker as everyone else does.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, I don’t have as much of a problem with her as others because a) I work remotely, so I don’t have to see or talk to her every day, b) I limit my phone conversations with her to once every couple of weeks (she tries to call more than that sometimes, and I just let our chat system ring until she hangs up) and our messaging to a couple of times a week – if she’s not coming to me with a work request, I tend to just act like I don’t see the message, and c) I just shut her down if I think she’s being ridiculous about something and tell our manager he needs to be the tie-breaker if we’re in a stalemate (which doesn’t happen often admittedly – like I said, she and I tend to be more aligned in our way of thinking these days).

          The reason I wanted scripts was because I can be too honest, and I didn’t want to come off sounding negative myself – she’s not a bad person, she just has zero emotional intelligence and she’s paranoid because of some issues she’s had in previous workplaces (she’s been laid off three times in the last 10 years or so) and she’s letting those bad experiences seep into her interactions with people at this company.

      2. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        I really like the script from @Fibchopkin.

        I suggest prefacing with the question, “What is the company thinking in terms of filling the manager position? As I said before, I’d like to continue to grow to be a SME and project manager, so I’m not interested, but I obviously have a vested interest in learning more about the future for the role and how the company is looking to fill it.”

        Then, use the script above if they hint/suggest they would consider your coworker for the role.

        1. ten-four*

          This one has my vote – it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance that she won’t be considered. A person who has earned the nickname “The Human Eeyore” does not sound like management material! So it’s quite possible that you won’t HAVE to go in with all guns blazing.

          You could follow up on the question Analytic Tree Hugger posed with “do you have any sense of whether Human Eeyore is a possibility?” And if you get a yes, then you can pivot to the more blunt script.

          But I think there’s a solid chance that your boss will tell you she’s not under consideration.

          1. Avasarala*

            Agreed, I would be very surprised if they promoted The Human Eeyore just because she was there, when she seems to be very antagonistic and difficult to work with.

      3. KayDeeAye*

        I was in a very similar situation years ago. My boss was retiring, and a coworker (a.k.a. “AlienPod”) who was completely and totally unsuited to overseeing humans or, for that matter, any carbon-based lifeform, wanted the job. I was *terrified*. What if AlienPod’s oh, so obvious shortcomings weren’t obvious to people who didn’t have to work with him? Working with someone with those shortcomings was often fairly difficult; working for him would have been a professional nightmare.

        I elected not to talk to RetiringBoss because…well, because he was kind of a twerp, really. Also he would have talked to other people about my concerns, possibly even to AlienPod. Also he was only going through the motions his last 12 months as team supervisor anyway.

        So I actually talked to one of our officers, who was not only on the search committee but was also someone I’d known for a long time. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something along the lines of, “I have, ummmmm, come concerns about AlienPod being promoted.” It was kind of a risky move, but I couldn’t think of what else to do, and I was at least fairly confident that he’d keep whatever I said confidential.

        Anyway, what he said was, “Kay, you really don’t have to worry about that. Really.” And I didn’t. They gave the job to someone else, and it turned out OK. I don’t know if this will work out as well for you, Diahann, but it’s something to think about.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh, I hope it does! Lol. I really think grandboss needs to manage us and be done with it.

        2. nym*

          I have been on the other side of that one – my AlienPod’s shortcomings were recognized by people who did not have direct oversight of her or her projects, and hooboy were they recognized by subordinates. She was extremely good at kissing up and kicking back; she was a bully to junior staff, and baffled grandboss (her direct supervisor) with baloney. We had her for about eight months. When she announced she was leaving, six of us (out of 20) quietly ended our job searches, because working with her WAS a hill to die on, even though we didn’t want to go somewhere else.

          When grandboss had to clean up the mess left behind, because we couldn’t fill the position right away (AlienPod broke SO MUCH of our process in those eight months), the cracks became slowly more obvious to her. We’re still trying to fix the mess but now all of us are engaged and invested. I guess my summary is, it doesn’t always work out right away but sometimes you get there in the end! And sometimes it’s worth taking a stand for the good of the work and your mental health.

    3. Workerbee*

      Oof. I feel you!

      Perhaps listing out the type of qualifications–both hard & soft skills–that a person needs in that management role to ensure continued success in the team and its deliverables will help show your manager that it’s worth looking externally? Or they will see that it’s much less hassle and better overall to just have the grandboss be the direct manager.

      But if asked directly what you think of your coworker becoming the manager, then laying out dispassionately why this would be an unfortunate solution may be what you need to do. You of course would make it clear that you have the best interests of the company in mind. I do wonder if your manager was hoping you’d magically decide that you would like to take on the role yourself. :/

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I don’t know. He started off the conversation in a very weird way by asking what I thought of her and our working relationship. I told him that our working relationship was fine – she and I don’t really interact that much because we do two totally different things, but when we do have to come together for something, we do it well and I have no problems with her. He then started talking about how professional I am and that he’s heard nothing but good things about me from people we work with, so I admit – it did make me think he was asking because someone (or maybe more than one someone) said something to him about her and he was trying to see if I’d corroborate the complaint.

        But yes, I think you’re right that I should approach this as part of a broader conversation in general and not as a one off. Doing it the latter way will make this a bigger deal than I want it to be.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          So this is your spring board to re-enter the conversation.

          “Boss I have been thinking about our conversation the other day. I do realize that your position will be open and that I have indicated I am not interested in the position. I am concerned about the next person who comes into your position. I think that characteristics X, Y and Z are important for this position. You have asked me what I thought of Jane and I want to go on record as saying I do not think she will be a good fit for the job.” Then you can elaborate or not. Probably he will ask you questions, which I’d recommend answering as fully as possible, since you are saying he is a good boss.

          I hope I can encourage you, OP, that your words have weight. And it could very well be that your words have even more weight because you are not competing for this position. You have no stake here, except you have to work with the New Boss.
          I have used a similar big picture approach and bosses do listen. You have credibility built up from your years of good work and being a rock solid employee. And one last point of persuasion, he has already asked you. He wants to know what you think. So it’s just a matter of finding a professional sounding way of describing what you see as not working out in the long run. It seems like you have a pretty good start on that description from what you wrote here.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Thanks. Just one small point – neither I nor my coworker has been with the company long (I’m coming up on nine months, and she’s almost at seven) and our manager has only been our direct manager for a few months. But yeah, I do have a bit of a lead-in here since he did ask my opinion earlier, so it isn’t wildly out of line for me to bring it back up.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              And there is your easy honorable inoffensive way out of the tile Emma. Neither of you has been there very long. Put it that you think this job needs to have someone who has been brought in from the outside with extensive management experience in this particular field. The company needs someone with more experience than either of you have. It’s not criticizing anyone! And it’s leaving you an option to apply for the job in the future if you want it in three years.

    4. Nope, not today*

      I would start off by having a broader conversation about it, rather than saying ‘if she becomes my manager I’ll be looking to leave”! Can you just sit down with him and ask what direction they are thinking about taking with the transition – have decisions been made, or what his sense is of who will move into his role? If he thinks its possible she will become your manager you can let him know that’s not ideal for you, without giving an ultimatum.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I like this approach – I’ll ask him the questions you mentioned here because that really gets to the crux of what I want to know.

        1. valentine*

          Even if he gets to pick his replacement, you’ll need to play the long game. Would it make sense to ask to make the dotted-line manager your new manager, even now, so you’re set if this guy does leave?

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            No, that wouldn’t make sense. While I work more with my dotted line manager’s team, she’s based in another office in another country and doesn’t really know about what I do for my direct team. I also do something totally different than her direct reports, so I’d essentially be adding more work onto her plate, which grandboss doesn’t want (he’s trying to remove responsibilities from her because her predecessor took on entirely too much stuff that was outside of the course of what she should have been doing, and now she’s doing the same).

    5. NW Mossy*

      Based on what you’ve laid out here, I think you’re a lot more worried about this co-worker getting the job than you should be.

      Your boss isn’t blind and deaf. He’s already showing you that she’s got behaviors that he finds frustrating in her current individual contributor role, and “territorial” and “negative” are even less desirable in a manager. He’s likely well aware of her Eeyore reputation too, because that kind of stuff tends to be glaringly obvious. Just because he (professionally) withholds his opinion of her when talking to you doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have one or that he looks on her favorably for this sort of promotion. From the manager’s side, trust me: it’s our job to know our employees’ strengths and weaknesses, and good results as an individual contributor do not themselves make an effective manager.

      I’d stake money that your boss has already told his boss that a) you’re not interested in taking over and b) your co-worker isn’t the right fit. Their discussions now are likely about who else in the organization might be a fit to take over, and they may even be sounding those folks out already. Those other candidates may not have the institutional knowledge your current boss does, but that’s often not a deal-breaker for a manager when the team they’re leading has SMEs on it.

      1. foolofgrace*

        ‘“territorial” and “negative” are even less desirable in a manager. He’s likely well aware of her Eeyore reputation too…’

        The manager might not care all that much about what will happen after he’s gone.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Oh, he cares. He’s told me several times that he loves this team and it’s his favorite job he’s ever had largely because he got to set the direction for where it was going to go – he’s never had that opportunity before. He really wants us to do big things this year so he can leave us in a good spot so that whoever comes onboard as our manager won’t be able to undo all the work he’s done.

  5. Combinatorialist*

    How much focused technical work do people do a day? Lately, I haven’t had meetings (which is great) but I’m finding a hard time focusing on challenging technical work for 8 hours a day. Is this normal? Any tips for staying focused during the last 2-4 hours where my brain is just total mush?

    1. The Rain In Spain*

      I usually work on things that require more brainpower earlier in the day and handle easier/simpler tasks in the afternoon. But a short break to reset might be helpful, whatever that looks like for you- lap around the building, coffee/snack, etc.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, you’re human. You get tired. Intense concentration is work, and you can’t keep doing the same kind of work for 8 hours straight without losing capacity.

        There’s always some kind of routine maintenance or “cleanup” type tasks in any job. When your high-level thinking is tired, those are the things that help you stay productive without falling into a slump.

        Most folks either block their days to use their best concentration time, or do “intervals” of focused work interspersed with rote work.

        Physical breaks to move around help, too.

    2. Purt's Peas*

      That is highly normal. Doing 8+ focused hours of work–whether technical or something non-technical that requires sustained labor–is possible. Maybe you’re in a crunch time, maybe your job has poor labor protections and you’re overworked, maybe it’s economically necessary to be on full throttle constantly. It is really hard and it should not be necessary.

      Tips if you really need to push through–find a flow state, do something more routine with those hours. Or, put a problem in the back of your mind and rest. I’m good at time management and at getting stuff done, and one of the ways I do that is by resting: pushing through hours and hours of unrested work is frankly unproductive, on top of being unhealthy and unnecessary.

    3. 867-5309*

      When i’m having trouble focusing, I will try to break things into blocks: Set the timer and do x for 15 minutes and then do y for 15 minutes.

      Occasionally, when my focus is especially convoluted, it’s: Do x for 15 minutes, read an article on People, do x for 20 minutes, get a hot chocolate… Sort of a rewards system.

      1. LizB*

        This is basically the Pomodoro method, which breaks up your work into chunks of time you have to be focused separated by breaks. I think the most traditional breakdown is to work 25 minutes, then take a 5 minute break, and then the break after four work blocks is a longer break (15, maybe)? But you can adapt your timing to suit you and your work.

        1. LawLady*

          I was about to recommend pomodoros. I’m a big fan of tomato-timer.com, which is straightforward to use. I pick a goal, then do 25 minutes just focusing on that goal, then take a 5 or 10 minute break. A 25 minute increment is perfect for me to actually focus.

    4. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

      I’d say that unless I have a huge push to do a bunch of making things happen, I’m lucky to get in about 4 hours?

      Of course, I’m assistant to a lot of people as well as doing data entry / analysis / hey quill beat excel into order so having an 8 hour day where no one needs me for something new, or I don’t have like three competing things on my plate, is pretty unusual.

      I did a six hour stretch of documents coallation the other day and I don’t actually know how humans survived office jobs before audiobooks and podcasts, though.

    5. techRando*

      If you’re managing 4-6 hours of focused direct technical work, I think you’re doing fine. I don’t really know anyone who can focus on technical work for 8 hours a day.

      I’d recommend saving tasks which don’t take the same sort of mental energy for when you can’t continue your normal tech work. Consider:
      – Save your emails, if possible. Respond/organize/etc at the end of the day, rather than as they come in. (I understand that different companies have different standards for email responsiveness
      – Planning for the next day. Save up questions to write out in detail when you get a chance, look at your tasks and the status of any blockers, things like that.
      – Log your work for the day, keep a journal of tasks you’ve worked on and your accomplishments. This is good time to set and track professional goals.
      – Do you have smaller technical-but-not-the-same-type-of-technical tasks you could do? I often figure out ways to alias commands or script things I do often enough when my brain is too mushy to keep thinking about making say, a highly available web service as performant as possible.
      – Edit documentation for clarity
      – Write blog posts relevant to your work. I often write posts which explain my team’s work to other teams, or which explain one aspect of a recent project to my own team members. You might also be able to write blogs and post them not just internal to your company, but that depends on your company’s policy and whether you have generally applicable subjects to write posts about.
      – Taking on technical mentorship of someone new/junior to you. I often onboard new people to my team because even explaining technical concepts to someone else, or troubleshooting something verbally with another person, is significantly different energy from doing the work on my own.

      1. techRando*

        ETA: I don’t really know anyone who can focus on technical work for 8 hours a day *regularly*

        I and many others I know have managed 8 hours a day on occasion, for short bursts, but it’s not something I know to be regular for most people.

    6. Buttons*

      I tend to work in bursts. If I have something fairly intense I will work on it for 2 hours, then I pause and come here, or read the news, or do some work that takes a bit less brainpower. Then I go back for another burst.

    7. Ptarmigan*

      Unless it’s an emergency situation, I top out around 3-4 hours of work a day in my technical job. I don’t feel great about it but I bet it’s actually pretty typical.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      My father did very technical design work. I remember him saying, he would be sitting at his desk, feet up on the desk and staring off into space. It was normal for the boss to walk by and say NOTHING. The boss knew his people had to think and sometimes this was done without pencil and paper. (no computers back then) Another time my father mentioned that he always took a nap at lunch. I can just see him pushed back in his chair snoozing. Again, the boss never said a word. This is a mix of brain drain and seemingly non-productive time.

      My father had numerous patents to his credit. But I could see there were many points during the day where he appeared to be not working. As long as your boss is satisfied, OP, then no worries.

    9. Junior Dev*

      Some things that help me (I’m a programmer):

      * Build in breaks. In the past I’ve set an alarm on my phone for 3pm to take a 15 to 30 minute break and have a snack or cup of tea and really fully unplug from work. It can also help to go for a walk, do some stretches, or do breathing exercises.
      * Identify some tasks that don’t take much mental effort (you can make a list of these when you aren’t feeling exhausted). Sorting through email, responding to calendar invites, cleaning up old files, going through my tickets in Jira (or whatever project management software) and updating them accordingly. Cleaning my desk.
      * For the end of the day, write up notes. I have a bash script that runs every day the first time I turn on my computer that generates a text file with some questions for the beginning of the day and the end of the day. You don’t have to automate this if you don’t want to though. I’ve set a timer for an hour before I normally leave to write up notes on what I did, what I want to do tomorrow, what I did well and what I want to improve on. This is a worthwhile use of time in itself but also it sometimes shakes loose small tasks like “oh yeah, I never finished writing that email.”

    10. Ariana Grande's Ponytail*

      Yeah I’ll have bursts of time where I am an absolute machine and can work technically all day, but those are usually followed by days/weeks where I feel like mush and try to find simpler work to do. For sustainability, it works way better when I can have a balance of technical and non-technical work in my days.

    11. Combinatorialist*

      Thanks everyone! I feel pretty normal. I try to save less brainpower stuff but I sometimes just don’t have much. When I’m really pushing on something specific, I can do 8 hours for a few days, but sometimes it’s just not happening

    12. lasslisa*

      There’s apparently a reasonable amount of evidence that you only get 3-5 hours a day of focused mental effort. Other useful things can be done in the other hours of the day, of course. And we’re probably talking about some difference between, say, coming up with new algorithms versus debugging.

      1. LizB*

        Yeah, it may be worth mentioning that 8 hours isn’t a standard US work day because our brains or bodies are supposed be able to handle that amount of work – it’s a standard US work day because that’s where the negotiations between unions and business landed, based on philosophy/ideology, not any kind of robust science. Not being able to sustain 8 hours of strong mental focus on a regular basis is very normal, and doesn’t say anything bad about your work ethic/mental fortitude/etc etc.

    13. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

      I’m a software developer. 8 hours of coding in a row (or even 4 and 4 with a break for lunch) doesn’t happen. My longest unbroken stretch was 2 hours, supplemented with extra caffeine at a time I don’t usually drink it. It was an emergency patch, and when it was approved, I was pretty well useless for the rest of the day. (Fortunately, it was already late afternoon by that point.)

      I will switch up types of tasks – straight coding, technical research and investigation tasks, reading various professional publications, emails, etc. I try to take breaks every hour or so to walk around and refill my water glass – when I don’t do this I can tell the difference. (Note to self: hydration is important!) If I need uninterrupted focus, I put in my earbuds and listen to some music – type varies by what task I’m doing and how much focus I need. Sometimes doodling or whiteboarding can help me get unstuck on a stuck task – the change of format from digital to analog sometimes knocks things loose.

    14. Collette*

      The answers to this question have been so helpful. I have been feeling like a failure because I cannot do heavy duty mental lifting 40 hours a week, and that appears to be expected at my workplace. I am so relieved to know that the fact that I keep running into a wall at about 30 is normal.

    15. Hamburke*

      Years ago, I read a summary of a study on labor – the 8 hour day is based on diminishing returns of manual laborers. People who do work that requires a lot of thinking hit that point around 6 hours. The study did say that it’s not unusual to have days, or even weeks, where workers can go many more hours but it’s not sustainable in the long term. It sounds like you are falling in the normal range for this.
      Short term, you can go for a walk mid day, plan something that doesn’t use a lot of thought or at least different kinds of thought as breaks from the technical, do timed tasks, switch up projects, etc. At my old job, I was able to arrange my schedule to extend my most productive hours, which for me is mornings – I could log in at 6, do an hour of work, get the kids off to school, work for 6-7 hours, be done by 4.

    16. andy*

      Do less difficult work last hours. Shedule easy reading learning into your day. Take breaks and do something sports like for 10 minutes if you can hide yourself. Or take 10 min walk. Basically take non smoking smoking break and move – that helps to get focus back.

  6. ThinMint*

    If you have direct reports and meet with them individually, do you take notes? If you take notes, do you share those notes with them?

    I have several direct reports and the level of management I have to do with them varies, so with some I don’t take notes. Others I take notes but don’t type them. And two of them, I type notes and share them out.

    I sometimes wonder if the discrepancy in how I handle that is an issue.

    1. HollyWeird*

      We would do shared OneNotes. Typically for both my manager and direct reports we would type in topics we want to discuss, type in other stuff that came up during the meeting and any action points we wanted to remember. Since we typically did weekly 1:1s it was useful for keeping track of what I actually needed to address during that meeting.

      1. FindThisVeryInteresting*

        I have shared Trello boards with my team. When we have 1:1, there is a list for my to-dos and their’s from the meeting. Then it also tracks growth opportunities/work, upcoming presentations, deadlines and major project milestones.

    2. noahwynn*

      I do two things:

      1) I record notes in OneNote about each meeting and what was discussed. These are informal and really only for me to reference when it comes time for annual performance reviews or to see what dates items were discussed if it becomes a larger issue. Allows me to see both wins and issues from the past year and how their work has (hopefully) improved over time. I do not share these notes directly with employees.

      2) If action items came out of the 1-on-1 for the employee or myself, I follow up the meeting with an email listing the action items to make sure we’re both on the same page. If there are specific dates, I’ll send a calendar invite as well.

      1. ThinMint*

        And I assume you do this from when they start? I don’t have any issues with most of my reports taking action items from the meetings and getting them done without me emailing. I’m worried if I start now for the sake of consistency, it will feel like micromanaging.

        1. Elenia*

          You are human. It is ok to say, “You know, considering how busy it’s gotten, I’m going to begin taking notes at our one on ones/asking you to take notes/writing down action items.” It is a mark of respect -you think what is coming out of that meeting is important enough to note.
          I ask them to submit a weekly report. Not because I necessarily care about the nitty gritty of what they are doing, but when you are busy and your boss asks “So how did it go this week” sometimes you don’t remember everything!
          My report has a section for
          Stuff done this week
          Stuff in progress or working on
          Concerns or questions
          Time off (so I know if they are off next week, or whatever)

          1. Not failed, pre-successful*

            Agreed! When I was first promoted to a management position, I had a boss who told me to always take notes in my one on one meetings with direct reports, even if it felt unnecessary, because it signals to the employee that you think the topics being discussed and the things they’re sharing are important.

    3. MonkeyInTheMiddle*

      I have reports which I meet work regularly. I keep my own running notes and then try to summarize at the end the conversation. Because my brain had become a sieve

    4. blaise zamboni*

      I don’t have reports but my manager takes notes during our 1:1s (biweekly) and emails me a summary of what we discussed sometime before our next 1:1. She started doing it because she needed a paper trail to discipline my coworker, but there’s only two of us so she wanted to be consistent. If you have a ton of reports and meet them more regularly I can see that being a huge time-sink for you. But if you have time, I think it’s a useful strategy. My summaries are always like…”You’re working on XYZ, you finished ABC, we talked about Policy Blah regarding your time off request.” Nothing crazy but it’s nice to refer back to later.

    5. A Person*

      I take my own personal notes, and I should probably start getting more formal with action items. Generally I’ll make a separate note if there’s something I need to do (and then follow through), and I’ll expect reports to follow through, but I don’t make any formal notes about it.

      My personal notes space is also where I make notes about anything specific I want to talk about on the call, from “Good job on your Teapot Report yesterday, the Tea department really appreciated it!” or “Let’s talk about ways to reduce the number of Teapot Painting errors you’ve had recently”.

    6. Who Knows?*

      I used to do hand written notes that I’d then type and email them a copy. I recently switched to a shared onenote for all of my staff. There is one tab with general information for anyone on the team and then each employee has a password protected tab for their 1-1 notes. They each only have their own passwords, I have all of them. It’s been a really good switch. I type them while we talk. I don’t love that piece of it, I do feel like it’s become less conversational, but that downside I think is worth the time saving. I use checklists at the end of each meeting note where. They can check things off as they complete them.

      You don’t need notes until you do. Trying to fire an employee right now. Really glad that I have all those old notes.

  7. Pam Beesly*

    I applied for a remote customer service position with one of my favorite companies. Fingers crossed!

    1. SunnySideUp*

      Good luck!

      I had an interview call for a remote position yesterday — I think it went really well!

        1. SunnySideUp*

          Well, I read up on the topic here…. and made sure I had answers for the question about why I want to work remotely. I also had Qs about how the team stays engaged when everyone is scattered across the US. The other Qs were ones I’d ask in any interview.

  8. Not Actually Private*

    This is going to be about something different than it initially seems.

    An admin pulled me aside this week and asked if I was married. Apparently someone from another department noticed that she and I seem friendly, so he asked her if I was single. (A lot of us don’t wear jewelry for safety reasons, so I don’t wear my rings at work.) She said to me, “I told him I would ask, since you’re so private.”

    I just stared at her for endless seconds, at a loss for what to say. Over the past two years she’s worked here, I can think of at least three times that she and I have commiserated over the fact that we’re both married to teachers. (Teachers, around here at least, tend to be an insular group, usually marrying and socializing with other teachers. It’s isolating to be the only person in a friend group who isn’t in education and can’t join last-minute plans all summer long.)

    I have no idea what she means by “private”. Does she think I got divorced since we last spoke about teaching (it was a couple of months ago) and hid it from everyone? Does she have early-onset dementia and completely forget ever having these conversations? I have no idea what her deal is. I simply replied that I was married and let it drop, but my brain is going wild.

    1. ThatGirl*

      That’s funny. Honestly I would probably chalk it up to her having a complete brain fart over your previous conversations? I know that I have certainly been guilty of forgetting things I’ve talked to people about. I chatted with a woman in our break area for 10 minutes and went back to my desk before I suddenly remembered her name and that we had worked together on a project last year. As for “private” well, maybe she mixed you up with someone else, or maybe just got that idea out of nowhere.

      1. Did you read the syllabus?*

        Yup brain fart. I did something similar to a co-worker. I saw a co-worker at a different location than where I normally see them and my very tired brain simply decided that it was in fact a different coworker and they don’t even look at that similar. I managed to say something that made it clear that I was confusing them and I felt terrible. Unfortunately, I am so bad at names and faces, so when I am more tired than normal I am likely to mix people up.

      1. Quinalla*

        Yes, this was my thought that you might not want to tell people you weren’t close to if you were married.

    2. Myrin*

      I think this is just an example of the thing where we are the centre of our own universes and as such remember everything about ourselves and view it as important and others… don’t.
      Talking about a specific topic three times (or even five or ten times!) over two years really isn’t a lot when you look at it, and you say that you’re “friendly” but it doesn’t sound like you’re more than that (as in, best work buddies or similar).
      I can understand the confusion in theory since I can guarantee you that I personally would absolutely remember not only these conversations I had with you but also everything else you’ve ever told me about your marital status, but I’ve learned, especially in the last couple of years, that not everyone is like that, and not because they have serious memory problems but simply because it’s not that interesting to them and their brains are filled with dozens of more important information.

      1. Not Actually Private*

        Yeah, generally I don’t think I’m astonishingly memorable or anything (I’m basic AF, actually), I just thought we had some really good talks about this one unusual topic. I’ve thought back to those conversation when growing really frustrated with my spouse, so I guess I just hoped she had gotten similar mileage out of the interactions. It isn’t that big a deal, though.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I don’t even remember that much about myself, and am often reminded by my spouse of things I’ve done or said. If the discussion on your spouse wasn’t in the last 2 weeks, there’s a huge chance I wouldn’t’ve remembered it.

        But I agree with the others too – she might have been letting you know that she wasn’t going to talk about you without your permission first.

    3. Observer*

      Is it possible that what she meant is that she didn’t want to say anything to the CW without your permission. She didn’t need to ask you if you are married, but if you want coworker to know that you are married.

      1. Velvet Cupcake*

        This. I’m very inclined to think it is this. She’s letting you know that someone else is poking at the edges of your life, and she hasn’t shared anything because you get to decide.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Yeah, I think this is more her telling you that he asked and she didn’t answer in order to protect your privacy. Meaning, she is a considerate friend who thinks well on her feet. :-)

      2. Oh No She Di'int*

        This was my understanding. “I told him I would ask, since you’re so private” seems like shorthand for: “I didn’t want to blurt it right out to him, so I bought some time by saying that I would ask. That way you have the choice as to whether or not you want to disclose that information.”

    4. Nikara*

      Is it possible that she was really asking if it was okay for her to share with this other person that you were married, since you are generally a private person?

    5. LadyByTheLake*

      I like people but honestly can’t retain information like this at all. You seem to be astonished that she can’t remember something that you’ve discussed only three times in two years, when I would be astonished if she did.

    6. Jean*

      I wouldn’t read too much into it. She probably either just spaced on your previous conversation, or thought your situation might have changed for some reason. Doesn’t seem like that big a deal.

    7. Buttons*

      I think she just wanted to tell you the person asked about you. I think she was being gossipy and wanted to see how you responded.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Or, you know, give the OP a friendly heads-up. I think I’d want to know if somebody at work started asking about me, because in my case it would be weird and I would appreciate knowing before this person started pestering everyone for information about me.

    8. So Not The Boss Of Me*

      She was asking if it was okay to answer the other person’s question. Maybe you didn’t want other people to know whether you are married. Yeah, that’s an odd one, but better to err on that side than saying “Joe asked if you’re married and I laughed and told him you’re gay, but mostly asexual and you had all your kids through in vitro.” I would thank her for her discretion.

      1. Not Actually Private*

        Thanks, I definitely think now that I misunderstood her phrasing. She was indeed VERY discreet; she never actually even told me who the guy was.

        1. valentine*

          she never actually even told me who the guy was.
          This is weird. My concern would be the middle school game of telephone and my answer would be I’m not interested, now or ever.

    9. LittleBeans*

      I once spent 60 minutes 1:1 in a conference room with a woman and one week later, she came up to me at a meeting with her hand out to introduce herself.

      1. Arts Akimbo*

        Ugh, this is me! I am mildly face-blind, and I have introduced myself to the same colleague four times. It’s horribly embarrassing for me, and no doubt it hurts the feelings of the people I can’t recognize right off the bat. :(

    10. fhqwhgads*

      Absent any additional info, I would assume she’s not actually asking you having forgotten your earlier discussions, but rather telling you this dude asked her, and giving you the power of veto over whether she should tell him the answer or not, because your marriage is your business and you might not want to talk to other people about it at work. As in, she’s assuming just because you shared with her, does not mean you want her to subsequently share with others.

    11. plausible deniability*

      I just forgot my coworker’s kid & asked him if he had a kid, even though my kid and his kid had mutually impressive-to-each-other Halloween costumes last year (so I knew in a different part of my brain that he had a kid).

  9. JJ*

    A while ago, I attempted suicide and survived. I am doing better now and am no longer suicidal, thanks to medication and weekly therapy. I work full time for a residential mental health facility, in a non-clinical capacity (Think payroll or marketing-absolutely no contact with patients and no knowledge of any care-related info). I am a department of one, and when I first started I had a small, private work area in the business office, but recently the facility decided to create a new manager position in that department so they gave my space to her and put me in an office with one of the nurse managers.
    From a logical standpoint I understand why I was put in there: one aspect of my job requires minor collaboration with that manager. But from an emotional standpoint I am struggling, for many reasons. I put in an ADA request to potentially move to a different location, but there is just nowhere I can be moved, and my doctor is not willing to provide a specific letter (she signed a general request for accommodation, but won’t give specifics) that says I cannot work in that office (she says that many people have my condition, generalized anxiety disorder, and deal with shared offices) and my job won’t do anything more without such a letter. So I am stuck. Just fyi: My doctor does not know about my suicide attempt. The only person who knows is a close friend, though I’m sure my therapist suspects as I have alluded to it but never admitted it. I will not tell anyone else, because after having worked in a mental health facility I refuse to be placed in one.
    My main problem is how to deal with my biggest struggle involving my relocation: My office mate is a manager but also a direct care staff who frequently has long conversations about patients with her direct reports and other care staff. This happens 75% percent of the time on the 4 days of the week that she does not have treatment team meetings. For example, I heard something similar to this yesterday: TRIGGER WARNING!!!!

    ‘X ripped parts of a towel and braided them, then locked themselves in their bathroom and by the time we got them out they were blue. [Doctor] ordered that we need to have someone watching her at all times.’

    It’s not always quite so bad, sometimes it’s just about interactions between patients or between patients and staff. But it is really distressing and somewhat triggering for me.
    I would normally have no problem asking my office mate to change the topic, but these conversations are always in the context of patient care, i.e.: her job. It’s not feasible for me to leave the office every time something comes up as my job is 100% desk based. Noise cancelling headphone are not a great option because I spend so much time on the phone. What can I do? I’ve spoken to my manager and HR; not about this particular concern but others related to my ADA request, and there is nothing else they are willing or able to do.

    1. blink14*

      Honestly, I would seriously think on whether or not this is the right type of environment for you overall. And I would highly encourage you to speak with your therapist about the attempt.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I would at least tell the therapist about the suicide attempt so she’ll write you a more detailed letter (not disclosing the exact details, but close enough to show that this is serious) for your ADA accommodations. You absolutely need to be moved.

      2. Lyudie*

        Seconding blink14’s second point. Do talk to your therapist about, it’s important to be honest even when it’s hard. I totally get the desire to not disclose but she needs to know the full picture. And *hugs*.

    2. Nope, not today*

      I dont see why you cant raise this concern without disclosing your own struggles – many people would find that sort of thing very distressing, even without having any history of suicide attempts or family members who have attempted, etc. I would simply tell them that – you are not involved in that type of work, and you find the frequent (necessary) discussion of mental health issues and suicide very distressing and distracting. Also, if she is having these conversations in the office and you are making work related calls, that seems like it could present privacy issues – if you are speaking to a vendor, they should not be hearing this sort of thing either.

    3. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

      Could your therapist sign for the ADA, in the context of “a lot of these necessary conversations about patient care are triggering for JJ and causing significant distress?” Because it sounds to me like your primary care doctor has no background knowledge about psychiatric care whatsoever (as evidenced by the idea that “other people with the same diagnosis deal with it,” when mental health problems are pretty darn varied and also there are a lot of physical conditions that present with a huge variety of symptoms, i.e. “other people with hip problems prefer to stand” vs “I physically cannot stand in line for an hour long meeting due primarily to my hip problems.)

    4. KoiFeeder*

      Eeesh, that would be hard to hear even without your personal context. Does your doctor know about the sorts of conversations you overhear that trigger your disorder? There’s a huge difference between a shared office in an aromatherapy company and overhearing details of attempted suicides without warning.

      1. Mia 52*

        Its tough to hear but these are expected conversations in a mental health facility. You will hear about mental health which sadly can sometimes be quite gruesome.

    5. Blueberry*

      This is a dreadful Catch 22. Is there a way you could say to your therapist or doctor that listening to the details of patient care is detrimental to your mental health without mentioning your suicide attempt? As in, “Because I am dealing with [diagnosis] listening to the details of patients’ suicide attempts and other difficulties reinforces the disorded thoughts I have” ? I’d avoid anything along the lines of “it gives me suicidal ideation” (and definitely avoid “it reminds me of my suicide attempt”), but focus on the distress and the reinforcement of disorded thinking these details cause you?

      Also, practically, can you walk around the facility and identify somewhere you could be moved to, so when you go back to your workplace you can make concrete suggestions?

      I’m coming at this as someone who worked in healthcare and who is under treatment for mental illness myself, but I am not at all a healthcare practicioner. I send you all my good vibes and hopes for continued healing.

    6. GrumbleBunny*

      Good lord, that would be hard for anyone to listen to, with or without your specific context.
      If I were in your position, I would probably try to bring it up as a HIPAA/privacy concern. Specifically that these are very private details about patients that you don’t have any need to know, and also that it’s difficult for you to do your job because you’re concerned about people hearing protected in the background of your phone calls.
      If your job requires minor collaboration with the manager, you could propose to move elsewhere and have regular scheduled meetings to catch up on those things.
      Wishing you all the best, I hope you’re able to get this changed!

      1. The Rafters*

        In this case, it’s not likely a HIPAA violation. It would be considered “incidental disclosure.” Partial Definition: “Secondary use or disclosure that cannot reasonably be prevented, is limited in nature, and that occurs as a result of another use …”

        1. ..Kat..*

          For JJ to hear these conversations is a HIPAA violation. JJ does not participate in the care of these patients in any way. She does not need any of this information to do her job. This is not for secondary use or as a result of another use (such as processing insurance payments). JJ is only hearing this information because JJ and this manager share an office. Unless this other manager can go elsewhere for these conversations, they should not be sharing an office.

    7. Catwoman*

      It sounds like your office mate really needs a private space. If she is a manager and discussing patient care, then she needs to be able to have those conversations in private. I would focus on this angle in future discussions with your manager and HR. You can frame it as being uncomfortable being privy to patient health information that is likely HIPPA-protected when you are not a care provider yourself AND emphasize that your office mate should have access to a space where she can have private conversations with her direct reports for things like performance discussions and concerns her direct reports may not feel comfortable discussing in front of you.

      If HR and your manager don’t seem to be helpful, approach your office mate with the same angle of discussion (concern over her ability to have a private conversation) and maybe you two can find a conference room or other space that could be utilized for this type of talk. This could be a win-win for you both.

    8. agnes*

      I think there might be another issue here, which is that some of the conversations the Nurse Manager is having may include HIPPA protected information. You are a non-clinical employee and therefore should not be hearing these.

      You really need some documentation from a medical provider to request any kind of ADA accommodation. Without that, I can understand why HR isn’t more responsive. However, they really should be thinking about the issue of having a non-clinical employee hearing clinical information that is potentially HIPPA protected.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think agnes nails your strongest talking point in the first paragraph. You do not need this info to do your work and you should not be privy to it.

        Instead of talking to your boss I think you should talk to Nurse Manager’s boss. She is the boss who will catch on faster here and be really motivated to do something.

    9. Anono-me*

      You need to get out of that environment.

      I could not be in this office for more than 1 week. And even that much would probably be damaging to me emotionally. I think this is true for many many people. (Your history may make you more sensitive, but I suspect that it actually makes it more likely that you worry more than necessary about being too sensitive.)

      I repeat: You need to get out of that office.

      I hope you consider changing doctors. (You deserve a doctor that you can trust with your medical history; not just in this instance, but for all your medical care.) If you switch to a physician that you trust with your past medical history, I would hope that you can get a more accurate effective letter about your need to not be in that shared space.

      As alternative approaches:

      This is internal to your organization, but since you are not involved in providing care to these people; is having these care conversations in your presence a violation of HIPAA? (I know it violates the spirit of the law, but I am not sure about the actual laws.)

      Could some of the information about the PTSD suffered by social media monitors be useful when you make your case that you need to not be in the same space with someone talking about things that are this sad and traumatic.

      Noise canceling headphones with a desk phone that lights up when it rings.

      Good luck

    10. WineNot*

      My company encouraged employees to participate in no sugar/no alcohol January. I have been participating, along with several other people, but for the most part, people are drinking and eating sugar. At the beginning of the month, our HR emailed the all-company distro which includes people in offices in multiple different states. People replied all to her emails with the most dramatic meme-type images – one was of an older man lying face down on the floor reaching for something, as if he had fallen down and couldn’t get up – and said dramatic things like “Today is the last day of our lives”, “Life is Over”, etc.

      HR has sent a few emails out over the month about lowering sugar intake and eating healthier in general. People keep replying all to the all-company distro talking about their specific diets and health goals that they have. Is this normal?! Have other people experienced funny/weird things like this? It makes me cringe and laugh and question everyone’s judgement. It seems harmless but also seems interesting for HR to promote diets by email.

    11. Koala dreams*

      You could try to get a letter from your therapist about which kind of accomodations you need. There are also occupational therapists that help people to deal with their job, if you can find one that has experience with mental health issues it could be useful. An occupation therapist can help you find accomodations.

      I don’t know how the ADA process works, if it requires specifically that your doctor writes a letter you might need to change doctor. That might be a good idea anyway, since it’s not very good to have a doctor who refuse to believe that you can have a different experience than their other patients. (I wonder how many other patients your doctor have had that got the same response when they also couldn’t deal with their office environment.) I know it’s hard to find a new doctor, but it’s worth a try.

      Another way to convince your employer would be to bring up the privacy concerns and the negative impact on the people you speak with. I imagine it would be bad if clients or vendors heard private health history in the background of your calls.

    12. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

      I have to agree with others here that you could maybe approach it in a HIPPA-related manner, in which case you might have some success, depending on how your workplace operates. Can you maybe try earbuds? You said headphones aren’t the answer, but with earbuds you can at least always leave one out while they’re not talking, and then pop it in when someone comes in? And if your phone is right by your desk, does it have one of those features that lights it up when it’s ringing so that you can see when you have a call? You say you have a doctor and a therapist, are those two different people? If so, even if your doctor won’t help, maybe your therapist can help you with an ADA request.

    13. Emilitron*

      It sounds like your ADA request is really vague, and therefore the responses aren’t very helpful (“lots of anxious people have officemates”). I’d try to phrase your requests as specifically and bluntly as you can make yourself feel comfortable with. “Overhearing information about patients’ mental health crises is very triggering to me, because of specific family history events that I’d rather not get into detail of. I understand that this is a patient care facility and these are the types of things some of our employees have to be able to talk about, but it has not been an issue for me in my office job here on site. I asked previously for a private office so that I could avoid these triggering situations. I know office spaces are tight; I am happy to share an office with someone else in an administrative role who will not be involved in patient-treatment conversations. What kind of statement from my doctor would help make it clear that I can’t be around crisis and treatment conversations?”

      1. Poppy the Flower*

        Yes, I think you really do need to get into the specifics of why *this* shared office space in particular is distressing! But I think it would be to many people who don’t necessarily have your medical history, so this is a great suggestion for how to bring it up without discussing your suicide attempt.

    14. Who Knows?*

      Hey JJ, I’m sorry you are having such a hard time. I really do understand where you are coming from. I do government work in mental health. I’ve also experienced really serious mental illness, while at work, without disclosing it to my employer. It can be REALLY REALLY hard to deal with the kinds of discussions that might come up. I’ve sat through suicide prevention trainings while actively suicidal and it was torturous. It’s easier now that I’m doing a lot better, but still, some days, it’s hard.

      I think you have to think really long and hard if it’s something you can handle. It’s totally okay if you can’t. You already know that it’s not going to be a reasonable accommodation in your setting to avoid triggering topics. If you are going to keep working there, I really hope you’ll seek out more support. I totally get your hesitance to open up about a suicide attempt and fear of being hospitalized. I’ve been an inpatient in a unit my office licenses. Not fun. But you aren’t going to be hospitalize for a past tense attempt and you need support now to function at work.

      Really hoping you can find something that works for you. Again, so sorry for what you are going through.

  10. HollyWeird*

    I started a new job recently and there is another employee there who is making me feel uncomfortable. He is younger than me and junior to me and as I’ve dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace previously I may be particularly sensitive to this matter.
    He told me one day he wanted to hug me and later in the elevator began stroking my arm without permission. I was dealing with a family emergency at the moment on the phone (he was unaware of this, the arm stroking was not to comfort me) and just whipped my arm away and glared at him, but unfortunately didn’t directly address it that day as I was emotionally fatigued from the emergency. There’s other things that have bothered me, him insisting repeatedly that he should drive me to my house even when I decline, buying me gifts, stealing other people’s seats so he can sit next to me, complaining unprompted about how he wants a girlfriend while making moon eyes at me, tries to get me to invite him to personal events I’m going to, etc. I’ve tried to be blatant and told him he could not have my personal phone number or come to events with me as I keep my work separate from my personal life.
    I no longer see him except once a week and I try to be just professional, not ignoring him but keeping boundaries in place. I haven’t told anyone else on the team because while this makes me uncomfortable I don’t think it’s to the line of reporting it. Since I work in a very male dominated industry I have also experienced the men on the team turning on me before when I reported one of their “bros” for very egregious behavior.
    Long story short, I’ve decided to address it if any boundary is crossed again but does anyone have advice on how tell him he needs to treat me as a professional and not his buddy/potential girlfriend?

    1. Turtlewings*

      I wonder if he’s taking the “keep work and personal life separate” line as some sort of challenge that he needs to weasel past. To be clear, it shouldn’t be; it should have been an obvious ‘knock it off’ signal. But you may need to be extremely, uncomfortably blunt. “I am not interested in going out with you, ever. I am not even interested in being friends with you. I would be thrilled to never see you again. Stop talking to me. Stop sitting next to me. Stop interacting with me at all or I will report you for harassment.” That’s maybe a shade more harsh than you have to be… or not. Even if you step it back a bit from that script, practice saying something EXTREMELY blunt and unmistakable. Don’t soften it with “let’s just be professional” because he doesn’t know how to do that. Tell him to stop talking to you ever.

      1. HollyWeird*

        Yeah, I also have detected that he might be trying to “test boundaries” with me. I think telling him I never want to see him or interact with him again might not work as we potentially will have to be on the same team again in the future, unless I also go the route of reporting him. However you are correct that I think he doesn’t know how to be professional. Thank you for your advice!

        1. Senor Montoya*

          You don’t need to say that. See my comment below. Make your statement about the behavior being inappropriate and that it makes you uncomfortable. And document.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Honestly, I WOULD report it if you feel safe/comfortable doing so. Making you uncomfortable at work is ABSOLUTELY enough to report someone, and what he’s doing is WELL over the line of acceptable professional behavior. If I were his manager and he was doing this to another employee, I would definitely want to know about it, and frankly, I would not take firing him off the table as a possible response. Is there a female manager you could talk to about this, even if it’s not his manager? Someone you could at least tell, “there’s a guy here who’s behaving really inappropriately to me, and I want to find a way of getting someone to step in and help me out, but I’m afraid of blowback from other men on the team?”

      Also, when you are talking to him and enforcing a boundary, do NOT worry about hurting his feelings or making him feel awkward in front of other people. Don’t be afraid to say flat-out: “Dude, I’m your colleague. I am not your girlfriend. You can’t come to events with me, and I want you to stop insisting on driving me home. This is not an acceptable way to interact with a colleague.” If he feels hurt, it’s on HIM for behaving that way.

      1. HollyWeird*

        Thank you so much for your advice. There is not female management I can report him to, but I was assigned another senior female team member as a mentor who I can talk to. I also do think my manager would probably be receptive to it as well. I need to let go of my programming that “oh well maybe it’s a misunderstanding!” especially as it seems you guys are also on the same page as me that this behavior is very inappropriate.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          Definitely reach out to your mentor. She might have some advice about how to broach the subject with your manager, and hey, maybe she’s seen or heard other stuff with this guy that corroborates your experiences and can provide more ammunition in your discussion with your manager. I hope it goes well, and that you are soon reporting to the AAM community that you are no longer being harassed at work and that management was supportive of you!

          1. HollyWeird*

            Thank you! I think part of my hesitation in reporting was that he was getting moved to a new office location a couple hours away so I thought the problem would resolve itself and I wouldn’t have to be “the bad guy” in reporting him. However there is still some interaction that is required and I also am troubled by the fact that he could be harassing someone else there.

            1. CupcakeCounter*

              Your last line is why you need to have some documentation of this. Maybe he was simply fixated on you but, more than likely, once there is the office separation he will fixate on someone else who might not have the seniority and experience you have to handle it firmly.
              Is there an HR person you could contact in addition to your mentor? Maybe they can at minimum punch up the respect in the workplace and sexual harassment trainings for this guy.

              1. valentine*

                Making you uncomfortable at work is ABSOLUTELY enough to report someone, and what he’s doing is WELL over the line of acceptable professional behavior.
                Yes. He’s way over the line. List out the examples and look at the sheer number of different ways he’s getting at you. It’s at once juvenile, scary, and escalating. I would report him, even if it meant a job search.

                He’s the bad guy and I doubt distance will stop him. In fact, he could ramp up with BS about how he misses you or is networking or whatever.

                Don’t be alone with him.

            2. Cruciatus*

              Most women probably understand your impulse here (we’re generally taught to be polite, not make a fuss) however, you’re not the bad guy for reporting someone who is crossing normal boundaries. And for another woman (or man!), you might actually be “the good guy” by getting this on record. There could be another victim at the new office he gloms onto and maybe it’s easier to fire him because now there’s a history (if they don’t already fire him when you report it). You might keep other people from feeling the way you are right now. I’m sorry this is happening to you!

        2. learnedthehardway*

          Yeah – this isn’t a “misunderstanding”. This is sexual harassment, and the guy KNOWS he’s being inappropriate, or he absolutely SHOULD know (there’s no excuse for him not knowing, let’s put it that way).

          He’s relying on you being polite / thinking he’s confused / whatever – so he can keep pushing your boundaries.

          1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

            YES, this is totally sexual harassment.

            Just…I can’t say anymore without ranting, but this creep needs to be reported (as long as *you* feel safe doing so, @HollyWeird).

          2. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            Yeah, what this guy is doing is not okay. And he is relying on your politeness. Definitely talk to your mentor. Can you also report this to HR?

        3. Working Hypothesis*

          This is absolutely not a misunderstanding, HollyWeird! He has committed multiple pretty extreme sexual harassment offenses (touching you without permission? Repeatedly demanding to drive you home after your explicit refusal?)

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “I am not interested in having any sort of non-professional relationship with you. Please stop. If you are unable to stick to work-related topics, I will ask management/HR to intervene.”

      Also “I need you to keep your hands to yourself.” And “Jane was sitting there, you’ll need to find another seat.” And “I will not be accepting this gift or any other gift from you. This is a purely professional relationship.”

      1. HollyWeird*

        Thank you! I will need to interact with him later and will keep all of these scripts in the front of my mind.

    4. Observer*

      You are not being “over sensitive”. In fact, I think you are being UNDER sensitive. He started stroking your arm without permission? Tries to muscle in on your personal life? “INSISTS” on driving you anywhere, much less YOUR HOME? These are not little things. This guy has not just crossed boundaries, he’s left them on another planet.

      I don’t what your workplace is like, but if you can report it without negative blow back, DO SO. This is utterly out of line.

      As for what to tell him – say exactly what you said here. “I am a professional not your buddy or girlfriend. Please treat me like a professional.” If he gives you the “I was just being friendly”, “I was just joking!” or “Oh, look at YOU! Jumping to conclusions! You’re not THAT attractive!” lines, just stick with “Nevertheless, this (whatever “this” is) is unprofessional and inappropriate. You need to stop.”

      Don’t get drawn into what his intentions are. He’s being very inappropriate and it needs to stop.

      And, by the way, his behavior is inappropriate even where it would be appropriate to see if someone would respond to somatic overtures. Touching people without their permission and “insisting” on taking people to their homes is red flag territory.

      1. HollyWeird*

        Thank you Observer. I am really grateful for your advice. I think coming from an industry where sexual harassment was very normal (entertainment) my views on what is “a little inappropriate” versus “waving red flag” have been skewed and I’m glad to gain perspective from you guys. The ride home was incredibly awkward as I kept declining and he kept insisting and then was sending me messages on our internal chat about why I should accept after I declined numerous times. In addition to it not being practical, I was aware that it was a safety issue too to let him know where I live or be alone with me for that amount of time.

        1. WantonSeedStitch*

          GAAAAH. The entertainment industry gave us Harvey Flippin’ Weinstein. If your manager needs a reminder of why stopping creepers is important…

          1. HollyWeird*

            Yes, I personally experienced this behavior and almost every other woman I spoke to in the industry (except two) has experienced something similar. It was sad because when the news about Weinstein came out, my reaction was, “How is everyone surprised? This happens every day.”

            I reported my harasser and got burned for it… but I’m still glad I did.

        2. Observer*

          Please grab screen shots of all of his messages – you want to show how he pressured you.

          Please don’t let him pressure you into accepting more rides from him. Don’t argue or discuss, just keep on repeating “No”. If I ever heard of a situation where “NO is a complete sentence.” is what you should be thinking, this is it.

          1. HollyWeird*

            Thanks Observer, I will take screenshots. I did not accept the ride, just kept saying no and then eventually stopped responding. I would not have felt safe at all to accept the ride.

        3. plausible deniability*

          If you are in private, you can just be rude and say straight out “Get the f*&^ away!” very coldly.

          I understand the impulse to be professional, and also the impulse not to escalate, and they’re both very legitimate. You are not required to be straight-out aggressively rude. My personal experience is that some men will use professionalism and the desire not to escalate against you and simply work within those parameters to harass you. Sometimes showing you’re willing to disrupt those parameters can help a bit.

          Again, this shouldn’t be on you: he’s in the wrong. But when you’re forced to deal with someone else’s attacks like this (I use that word with intent) it’s useful to have some other ideas for defense.

    5. fposte*

      Agreeing with others, especially Observer. Next time he does something like buying you a gift, inviting you to a personal event, stroking your arm [!], or even insisting when you’ve already said no, that’s your opening. “Doofus, that’s not in keeping with a professional relationship; it’s important to me to work professionally with my co-workers here, and I hope you can respect that and not do that again.”

      1. HollyWeird*

        Thank you for the script, I’m going to practice saying this in the mirror later. I want to shut this down as efficiently as possible without fully erupting on him (which I would love to do as I have a lot of pent up irritation about this!)

    6. Hei Hei the Chicken from Moana*

      I think the answer is to be very direct the next time he says or does something. “Fergus, I’ve said several times no. Have I not been clear? I’ve noticed a patter of X, Y, and Z. All of these things are making me uncomfortable, so I’m asking you firmly and clearly to stop.”

      FWIW, I think it rises to the level of reporting: buying you gifts? Unwanted touching? Eeesh. Good luck, sending you good vibes!

      1. HollyWeird*

        Thank you for the good vibes! I know I need to be even more direct. I’ve gotten a lot of great scripts from you guys and hopefully I can address it ASAP so I no longer have to feel like I’m on eggshells.

        1. tangerineRose*

          And know that you’ve already been direct enough for most people. I think he must already know you don’t like this, but when you use direct scripts like this, it gives him nothing to hide behind – he can’t claim ignorance at that point.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        Except DON’T say “Have I not been clear?” That gives him an opening to say that she hasn’t, and therefore an excuse.

        Instead, try “Fergus, you have done X, Y and Z, and each time I have told you I don’t want you to do that. I have also said explicitly that I wish to keep work — that’s you — and personal life separate. I have been very clear: I do not want you to talk to me about any subject except work. I do not want you to buy me gifts. I do not want you to touch me, ever. I do not want you to sit next to me. I do not want you to drive me home. You need to stop all of these things — they’re completely inappropriate, and I’m making it as clear as possible that they are unwanted. Please leave me alone except as necessary to get our work done.”

    7. CL Cox*

      When he started stroking your arm without permission, he crossed a line. Continuing to ask about driving you home, trying to invite himself to work events, etc. are just further indications of how inappropriate he’s being. Please do report this. I agree with the others that telling him bluntly to leave you alone is good, but it’s not even necessary at this point, his behavior is so egregious.

    8. CheeryO*

      Oh my gosh, please be more direct with this guy. He either does not understand or is choosing to not understand boundaries, and I’d be shocked if he stopped trying to come onto you on his own accord. He needs to hear in no uncertain terms that he’s being incredibly inappropriate and it needs to stop immediately.

      1. HollyWeird*

        I agree CheeryO, I even thought to myself that several of these actions were testing boundaries to see what he could get away with. Even though I’ve been frosty, he does seem to be choosing not to understand. Thank you!

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          Yeah. Since you’re in the entertainment field, maybe a “Are you *trying* to be Harvey Weinstein?” might jar some sense into him.

    9. FormerFirstTimer*

      As an objective outsider, this is absolutely worth reporting. I think you should give your boss a heads up at the very least. Something like, “Hey, I just wanted to make you aware that Creepy Dude is making me very uncomfortable by trying to insert himself into my personal life even after I’ve told him I keep my work and private life seperate. I’m going to address it myself if it happens again, but I wanted you to be aware in case I need to escalate it.” That way your boss will be aware of the situation. I do think you should just tell your boss whats going on and how they want you to handle reporting it, do you go to them first, or HR? You’ve told Creepy dude that you keep work and life seperate and he’s still making moon eyes at you, he’s not going to stop until someone makes him.

      1. Nesprin*

        Add to this- start the creepy/weird log now. So on June 3rd, stroked my arm in elevator, on Aug 6, insisted on driving me home etc. Keep it somewhere safe and have access to both in and out of work. One creepy incident can be explained away as a fluke, dozens over months show a pervasive hostile work environment. Documentation of repeated incidents is invaluable if an investigation is started and even more so if an investigation is not started and should have been.

        1. HollyWeird*

          This is a great suggestion, I think I might put it onto a Google Sheets document so I can have it whenever I need.

    10. Workerbee*

      Young guys like this turn into old guys like that. I know, because I had one at a previous job (and he was part of the reason I finally left). And some folks seem to feel more entitled as they age.

      The above suggestions are great, so I’ll just emphasize that it’s important to keep telling yourself that YOU are not the one making things awkward. He is. He is actively choosing to reach out–sometimes literally!–and is counting on the bro-culture to support him. I said this in a different thread, but your safety is 100% more important than any feelings he may or may not legitimately have when you call him on his behavior. It’s 2020. Excuses for his actions are so thin as to be transparent.

      Oh, and next time he steals a seat to be next to you, move. If he gets into an elevator with you, get out (safely, of course. I did this once with a harasser and the doors closed right behind me, leaving him fuming inside, but it was all instinct-driven). If you can at all be loud and puzzled about it at the same time, it can help. “WHY DID YOU MAKE THAT PERSON MOVE?” and such like. Old guy I referenced up there, I did a “WHY ARE YOU SNIFFING MY SCARF?” one time. It can at least cover the person in confusion while you make your escape.

      1. HollyWeird*

        Wow! Sniffing your scarf! That must have been so uncomfortable and disturbing. I had an incident at a previous job where reporting a sexual harasser backfired on me (both with my team and management). I was early in my career and I think that incident has made me once bitten, twice shy. However the idea of this guy going on to harass other women throughout the rest of his life…I would feel terrible at not addressing it even though it’s his behavior and not mine that’s the problem.

        I did actually get up and move last time he stole a seat next to me! But I need to be more blunt because I think he will find ways to rationalize why he still should be able to act the way he does.

        1. Working Hypothesis*

          What you need to make absolutely clear (assuming you still want to deal with this yourself, which I’m on record as saying you shouldn’t — this is way, WAY past the point of needing to be reported!) is that it does not matter what he intends, or what he thinks he should be able to do. This is about how YOU are treated, and that means YOU get to decide. “Do not speak to me except about necessary work — I don’t wish to socialize with you in any way,” is *entirely* within your right to say and enforce, whether or not he likes it. “Do not sit next to me,” is entirely within your right to say and enforce unless there’s literally no other place where he can be or you can be. “I will not ride in your car anywhere under any circumstances — stop asking me to,” is entirely within your right to say and enforce. “I will not accept any gifts from you,” is entirely your right to say and enforce.

          It’s very like what Alison once said to someone whose boss “refused to accept their resignation,” == “He doesn’t have to accept it for you to resign!” This guy doesn’t have to accept your refusals for those refusals to be absolute. And if he continues doing things you’ve rightfully told him not to, you DO need to go to HR and make them deal with him.

        2. plausible deniability*

          Think carefully about whether there is someone at work you can enlist as an ally. I know this is really, really hard, and also risky. But maybe there is a colleague you can ask to sit next to you and not move, or come over to stand with you if he/she sees this guy approach. Simply having another person physically standing there with you can be very powerful.

    11. RestResetRule*

      I would be as direct as possible in this situation. If he touches you, say loudly and clearly, “Do not touch me.” No need to say please, make him understand he is crossing a line.

      1. Ama*

        Yup people who do this are absolutely betting you won’t make a public scene (I can almost guarantee that’s why he stroked your arm when you were on the phone, he was counting on you not wanting to interrupt your conversation to yell at him).

        1. HollyWeird*

          Thank you both. I also agree, there was also several other people outside our organization on the elevator with us so I think he was counting that I wouldn’t make a scene in front of other people as well.

            1. tangerineRose*

              Yeah, it’s perfectly reasonable to not want someone to stroke your arm. “Aaah, what are you doing? Stop that!” seems like an OK thing to say.

              1. plausible deniability*

                Yes. The surprised and creeped-out yelp of upsetness is actually *more* effective than a calm and professional, “Please stop touching me.” That calm and professional demeanor allows everyone to pretend it’s normal, while the surprised and creeped-out “Aaah! Are you touching me?! Stop!” points out how bizarre and creepy it is.

    12. Jean*

      “You are making me uncomfortable and your attention is unwanted and unwelcome. Please only speak to me when necessary for work matters. Thanks for understanding.”

      He will most likely protest/deny doing anything wrong. Doesn’t matter. You asked him and now he can’t claim to “not know.” If he keeps doing it, file a report. There’s no nice or easy way to deal with this, unfortunately. I’m sorry this is happening to you. I hope he gets a clue and stops.

    13. NW Mossy*

      I’ll add that it would be wise to red-flag this for your boss, too, assuming your relationship is at all decent. What you’ve described would absolutely be reportable harassment in my organization, especially given how many instances you’ve experienced in a short time.

      Further up today there’s a follow-up post from “Stephen!”, who’s facing a similar situation to yours. She told her boss about what was happening, and she’s now getting more support in dealing with it.

      1. HollyWeird*

        Just checked out Stephen!’s post from last week and the follow up today and saw a lot of my situation reflected in hers. It was good to read that she took action!

    14. foolofgrace*

      “I haven’t told anyone else on the team because while this makes me uncomfortable I don’t think it’s to the line of reporting it.”

      Actually, it IS at the line of reporting it. Try to list previous behaviors to get them clear in your mind, and keep a list of new instances of bad behavior. Documentation is often wanted and would be helpful.

    15. agnes*

      This is clearly unwelcome. You have told him so. Time to elevate it. If no one in your organization will assist you and take this seriously, call the EEOC.

    16. Em from CT*

      @HollyWeird, please also document this. Take screenshots of the conversations in your group chat when he insisted he drive you home even after you said no. Keep a written record of what he did and said when.

      1. Observer*

        Yes, document EVERYTHING. Keep a list of dates and what happened. And get screen capstures of EVERYHITNG – emails, texts, whatever messaging platform you use.

        1. HollyWeird*

          Thank you, I will start compiling dates of the past incidences for my documentation. Hopefully I have nothing new to add after today, ugh!

    17. emmelemm*

      This is waaaaay past the line of reporting it. I totally understand you’re in a good ol’boy type of situation and reporting it may not do any good, but be assured that this is BEYOND inappropriate.

    18. Wandering*

      Blech. The only thing I have to add is an edit to the fine advice you’ve received. I would not tell him he’s making you uncomfortable. I would stick to the rest – especially the no-is-a-complete-sentence – but not give him the satisfaction of expressing discomfort. He’s wildly inappropriate.

      Remember that as someone senior to him that your reporting this serves not just yourself but any peer or person junior to him. Remember that reporting him gives your company the opportunity to address this behavior directly. Being called on his garbage behavior gives him the opportunity to get his act together.

      You aren’t being hypersensitive, you’ve been extremely tolerant. It’s time to bring in appropriate supervision for him, for everyone’s sake.

    19. Stephen!*

      Having just reported an out of line coworker, let me say I have so much sympathy for what you’re going through. And your creeper has gone above and beyond mine. I was nervous about bringing it up- I work in a male dominated, kind of “macho” field, but my male supervisor did not dismiss my concerns. But with whatever you decide to do, best of luck and may creeper get what he deserves.

    20. Faith the Twilight Slayer*

      Christ on a cracker, what kind of frat boys are you working with? “OMG she reported someone for doing something wrong, I can’t believe we can’t continue being total dicks”… If you decide to report, make sure you mention the previous incident of people treating you badly, and let them know retaliation will probably happen and they need to ensure they shut that down before it even starts.

    21. Senor Montoya*

      It IS to the line of reporting it. It’s so far past the line that you need a telescope to see the line.

      Same advice I gave last week to the LW with the creepy coworker in the truck. Tell this creep to stop X behavior every time it happens, document the hell out of it, make sure you have a backup copy of the documentation, and don’t keep either copy at work:
      Bob, don’t touch me. It’s inappropriate and it makes me uncomfortable.
      Bob, stop talking to me about X Y Z. It makes me uncomfortable and it’s inappropriate.

      If Bob says you are being too sensitive, or he’s trying to be nice, or anything other than an embarrassed apology, you respond: Nevertheless, you need to stop.

      I’ll add too that he may stop for awhile and then start again, so do not get rid of your documentation. Keep it even after you or he is no longer working at your current employer.

      I’m so f’n enraged about your situation. What actual F, ya know? I’m 60 years old, I’m so ANGRY that this kind of crap is still going on. It’s not like he doesn’t know it’s wrong.

    22. Working Hypothesis*

      I really disagree that this isn’t “to the line of reporting it.” Stephen!’s situation (see above in thread for the update or last week for the original incident) was FAR less extreme than this, and was correctly seen as worth reporting. (NOTE: I am absolutely not minimizing the creep’s behavior in that instance — it was awful. This is EVEN MORE awful!! That is all.)

      You’re talking about someone who has touched you physically without your consent, made open pleas for your phone number after telling you he wants a girlfriend (!), treated you as if you already *were* his girlfriend (buying gifts, etc), and has “insisted” on getting you physically alone and under his control in his vehicle despite your explicit refusals.

      These behaviors are not “not yet up to the line of reporting.” These behaviors are outright harassment and need to be shut down by HR or the man’s boss, NOW. If you *are* the man’s boss, then it needs to go to YOUR boss, because you should not have to be the one handling this, as his victim.

      Report him. Let the dust fall where it falls. He’s more than earned it.

    23. Sleve McDichael*

      Nopetty nope nope! You need to get on your nopetopus and nope on out into the sunset. He’s been touching you and he’s been threatening to touch you. That is severe and combined with the other stuff is severe and pervasive. If anyone senior at your work has any sense they’ll see it’s a problem so you should definitely feel like you can report it if you want. Line CROSSED.

    24. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

      Just cosigning that this is for sure creepy behaviour. Especially when he started stroking your arm out of the blue! Ewww!

    25. RagingADHD*

      “Fergus, Im not going to tell you again. No means no. We are coworkers, and I do not want anything else. Leave me alone.”

      If he brings a gift, take it to management or HR. If he tries to sit next to you, move.

      Document and report.

  11. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    I’m reading a NYTimes article on how inquality is exacerbated by big companies contracting out a lot of their work, and it’s making me wonder–how is this legal? These people are working set hours and obeying the directions of the corporation, but…they’re contracters? How? Why?
    Link in the comments

    1. Natalie*

      Pretty simple in this case – they’re contracting the work out to *other companies*, who employ the people who do the work. The rules you’re referring to are about the distinction between whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor, they aren’t relevant when both parties involved are corporations.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yep. At my last company, I was a true independent contractor for ~8 months or so, then got “hired” by an agency to be a permatemp; the benefits were that they handled payroll and pay negotiations for me, but otherwise I had almost nothing to do with them – I worked for Big Company and they were just getting around classifying me as a “real” employee.

        1. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

          Hello, my entire professional history!

          Pharma in my area is pretty flush with permatemps, and many of these agencies somehow get around giving any health insurance or PTO at all. We get W2’s and “furloughs” when we’ve been in a job 2 years and hit the “hire or lay off” policy or law limit (though in R&D it’s unusual to get that far because every time a company wants to look like they’re spending less they shut off R&D for a month or two and re-hire.)

      2. Manders*

        Yes, this is how it works. It’s a bit confusing because there are some regions where people will refer to themselves as contractors at company A when they mean they’re employees of company B, and they’re functionally working for company A except for payroll and perks and chunks of unpaid time off to get around employment laws.

        1. Natalie*

          The contracting companies aren’t “getting around” any employment laws – there are no employment laws prohibiting the use of a contracting company. That company will be subject to the same local laws (paid sick time, higher minimum wages) as any other company operating in the area.

          There have been a few cases involving permatemps access to certain employment perks like preferential stock pricing, but those were based on contract law, not employment law, and IIRC were all settled so at present there is no binding precedent. Except potentially in California, land of exceptions.

          1. Manders*

            I’m in Washington State, where contractors are required to take a long unpaid break after a certain amount of time (18 months, I think?) because otherwise they’d be classified as employees. The law was passed to try to get companies to hire directly instead of treating contractors like employees for years on end, so I’d call that sort of workaround getting around the intent of the law even if it’s going by the letter of the law.

            Agreed that California probably has a big list of exceptions I’m not aware of.

            1. Natalie*

              It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s common practice in WA – Microsoft, of course, settled the largest and most expensive permatemp case, and there seem to be some regulations specific to municipal workers. But I’m not seeing any general laws prohibiting long term temps.

              1. CL Cox*

                But Microsoft was hiring the contractors directly, not contracting with a company who sent its employees to do the work.

    2. CL Cox*

      They are working set hours and following rules that their company negotiated with the client company. They are paid by their company, disciplined by their company, and their benefits are provided by their company. So, if my company outsources cleaning services, we can tell the company when we want their people to come and what requirements we have for the people they send (a certain clearance level or pass a background check because there are children in the building, even dress neatly), and we can even sometimes request a certain employee, but we really don’t have control over who they send, as long as the work’s getting done. And if we have an issue with one of their employees, we would call the company and have them handle it – for instance, if we are a no smoking facility and I see a contracted janitor smoking in the stairwell, I could remind him that smoking is not allowed, but if he continues or is rude to me, I would call his company and tell them that I don’t want him on our job again. Obviously, for more serious things like inappropriate behavior, mI’d call the police first, then call the company, but I can’t decde he’s going to get docked a day’s pay or get fired from his company.

    3. foolofgrace*

      Contractor for 20 years here — I liked the work and was well suited to it but I HATED being a contractor. The company negotiates rates that it pays to the contracting company and the contracting company supposedly takes care of PTO, insurance, etc., and when you ask for a raise you get the old line of “we aren’t being paid enough” and because you have to sign an agreement that if you quit the contracting company you can’t be considered to work for the company directly, you’re stuck. I bet my contracting companies get paid twice my salary but they pay the pittance they can get away with, and BTW they have crappy insurance. the Resentful? Me? I’m an actual employee now making less money but get the protections and benefits of an actual employee. And I also ran into that 18-month exclusion but it was not mandated by the state but by the company.

    4. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Take a look at “Temp: how American work, American business, and the American dream became temporary” by Louis Hyman for some more history on how all of this came to be and is structured… It’s a pretty terrible situation, all driven by the pursuit of The Profit.

    5. skunklet*

      I’m a ‘contractor’ but to company B (hired by company A). I’m not a 1099, I’m a regular W-2 employee with a 401k, vacation time, health insurance, etc.
      it’s not at all horrible in THIS situation, but i have worked, about 15 yrs ago, as an actual temp, with zero benefits, so that sucked.

    6. Ann O.*

      I can’t read the link since NY Times has an effective paywall now. :)

      But there are two separate issues. One is how company’s outsourcing non-core roles affects income. Given that the headline is about janitors, I’m guessing this is the focus of the NY Times article.

      I have mixed feelings about this one because it honestly makes sense to me. Why should a typical company directly manage janitorial staff or food service staff or equivalents instead of contracting to a 3rd party vendor that specializes in this? I currently work in this type of position, so it’s not hypothetical for me. It’s possible that we do need better laws to regulate how the contractor/host company relationship happens (for example, I’m allowed to benefit from a lot of the host company’s pretty nice onsite employee perks, but I think this is the host company’s choice and not legally mandated), but I think that’s a different issue than whether this type of contracting should exist at all.

      Issue #2 is the misclassified contractors as a transparent dodge of paying for employee benefits. I have also been in that situation, and it’s complete BS. In that situation, my work was connected to the core company product. I was hired directly by the company. I was managed by an employee. However, I was put on payroll of an employment services agency and on paper treated as that agency’s employee. I think this was illegal, but the labor law was sufficiently murky that I still not clear whether my situation was actually illegal or just an unethical loophole. And even if it was actually illegal, it’s so widespread that there’s no obvious way to prevent companies from doing it (other than maybe clarifying the labor law, so more of us felt empowered to take companies to court about it).

  12. Asst4tW*

    I want to apply for a new internal position in my office this summer. It would be a step up for me financially and in the org. At what time would it be appropriate to discuss me applying with my boss? It seems so far away at this point to make any mention of it, plus we are in our busiest time of year. Any advice?

    1. Pam Beesly*

      I’d wait until the busy season is over but not wait too long after that. Your boss would likely appreciate as much notice as possible to help with the transition.

      1. Asst4tW*

        Our busy season runs from February-early May, with April as the craziest month. Should I wait until May?

          1. Asst4tW*

            It’s too early to know the date exactly. They said “summer” so likely starting in June when things are calmer.

    2. higheredrefugee*

      As your busy season is so long, I’d try to grab your boss for a quick 10 minute chat now so maybe he can shift any exposure or work to you that might help you land the position. You can only do that with a supportive boss, and you can’t assume you’ll get the position, but your boss may have insight on how to help you shine in the application process and he can be storing up all the great things you’re doing during the busy season without your prompting when he has to serve as your reference.

    3. Emilitron*

      How much discussion do you need? Maybe the serious long conversation can wait till after the busy season, but I’d really encourage you to say something now. “Hey boss, I heard them mention the other day about the new Llama Groomer position, have you got 10 minutes today or tomorrow that I can ask you about that?” – or ideally if you’ve got regular check-ins, just tack that “let me ask you about that” on the end of a regular chat. And you ask how certain it is to happen, whether the role is as you understood it to be, and whether boss agrees that could be a good next step for you. But keep it a 10-minute conversation – basically you’ve expressed interest – and maybe tack on the end let’s talk about it more in May. Now when boss hears something, they will think of you; maybe that means mention your name when it’s discussed at upper-level, or maybe it means just to tell you whenever they hear any news about it, and will make sure the position doesn’t get canceled or filled without you knowing it.
      Then after the busy season you schedule a longer block of their time to really talk about the position. What are the tasks and skills, and how does that match up to what boss knows about you, what else you can do to demonstrate that. What aspects of you being interested do they think are a great fit and what do they see as less so (sometimes that’s things for you to work on, sometimes it’s caution about the position). Organizational stuff – who’s involved and what they’re like to work with, who you need to impress and what they’re impressed by, etc.
      But it all starts with you telling them you’re interested, and now’s not too early for that, nor does it take much time.

    4. Grapey*

      I would mention it sooner rather than later and agree to stay on your team through your busy season. Your boss will be grateful and be a good reference in the future, and it will also give you the opportunity to create documentation if anyone else is taking over your role.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I have one caveat, just be sure you know your boss. Do you work for somebody who will support you in career development even if that means you leave the department? Or do you work for someone who takes it as a personal attack when an employee moves on?

  13. Workerbee*

    Should I keep trying to change my meeting-heavy work culture, or just accept it’s a bad fit for me? This is a little ranty but also an appeal for help!

    We have meetings, it seems, for everything. Meetings to watch someone move items in our project management tool from one date to another. Meetings for “discovery” on a new idea somebody has. Meetings to pick around on our analytics program with “I wonder what this does?” mused out loud. Meetings to dump every facet of a concept on a document.
    Even if some of these sound normal, I’ve found that these are rarely productive meetings and are more just a lot of people talking at length and repetitively, or the “Or what about this?” tangent that actually doesn’t have anything to do with the matter at hand. And if the boss is in a meeting, he will spend anywhere from fifteen minutes to a half hour talking about how we need to be sure what we’re talking about is worth the effort. With metaphors and analogies.

    Rarely do any of these meetings end on time, which makes people late to the next meeting, which then runs late itself. Some of these meetings are with clients!

    Yet it seems that nobody really cares: They will sit and keep ideating as if there is nothing else to do that day. Whoever called the meeting may finally say, “Well, we’re over time,” but then that just segues into “wrapping up” which can take an additional five minutes as people scramble to issue “next steps” or pontificate one last time. (I may be being unfair as to their motives; I do think I’m working with wonderful, brilliant people, but I am exhausted!)

    With all these meetings, I don’t know when I’m supposed to get any actual work done! I can have as many as five meetings a day most days of the week, averaging to an hour each. I try not to call meetings myself, or if I do, it’s in the name of blocking off time so myself and a colleague can get something done.

    I’m honestly feeling that maybe nobody actually wants to get things done and this is how they cover that up. Yet we have deliverables and customers that depend on them, and more than half the time we seem to be missing our deadlines and not fulfilling promises. A small example: When I respond to a customer email within the same day (as I’m usually in a meeting and can’t do it immediately), I get back a “Wow! Thank you for responding so quickly!”

    I’m about six months into this job, and this culture was not apparent during my interviews, which included meeting the team, who were all present in the rather open-concept layout. I saw what I perceived to be an open collaborative culture; everybody seemed happy, engaged, and working on a great mission.

    The company uses Skype and reply-all emails, but otherwise does not have open collaboration tools. I have tried to introduce collaboration options–when what’s really needed is simple communication, do you really need to book an hour to discuss it?–but have had very small success.

    I suspect the low adoption rate is due to the fact that the boss, who takes enthusiastic notes every time I bring up the fact that we have too many meetings with low productivity, and agrees wholeheartedly with me that we should explore different means, has no intention of changing. I get the same “make sure it justifies the effort” speech every time. Which, sure, but without leadership buy-in, the rest won’t adopt it either. And of course, there’s the fact that this culture has been going on far longer than I’ve been there.

    The questions teaming in my mind are:
    –Should I continue trying to plug away at changing our meeting culture? If so, do you have any tips that worked for you?
    –Should I try to change my work ethic and accept that some (or a lot of) things aren’t going to get done and that’s magically okay?
    –Is this an unfixable culture?
    –Is this a bad fit for me despite sincerely liking the people and mission, and I should start looking elsewhere?

    1. I'm that person*

      Since you have Skype can you call into meetings? I am only needed at about half of the meetings that I am invited to so I call in from my desk and work with one ear open in case anything that is useful to me is said.

      1. Workerbee*

        I can do that at least! It does help being able to work on things on the sly, as it were, on mute (and if I don’t have video on, or can act like I’m taking copious notes).

        1. Workerbee*

          I did not clarify and should have: I can do that when I’m working remotely, which thankfully I’d negotiated for a couple days a week. In-house, there’s the expectation that you meet in person…even if the meeting doesn’t really have much to do with you. I still have managed to work on stuff while perfecting the Nod of Agreement and other indicators that I’m listening.

    2. Mockingjay*

      I think it’s unfixable. I, too, work in a meeting-heavy culture and our project is a year behind.

      I have a meeting this afternoon to discuss a draft brief for a planned technical meeting that is not required for this project. We pointed this out to the Project Lead, and he replied, “Great! Let’s discuss it this afternoon!”
      (I wish I was making this up.)

      What I have found is on this particular program (I am a government contractor, the problem stems with the government program and staff I support, not my wonderful company), is that there is a real reluctance by leadership to make binding decisions and hold people accountable – for project progress against the schedule, for budget overruns, wanting to reinvent the wheel because engineering is fun and reusing a proven test method is not…

      My company is aware of these particular issues, but it’s up to the government managers to fix this. I’m not in a position to change the culture, so I focus on completing my work on time and keeping very good records, and let the rest go. I also reach out for additional work within my company, assisting short term projects, which keeps my skills and work ethic noticeable if I want to transfer to another area of the company.

      1. Mockingjay*

        I also dial into most meetings, rather than attend in person. I put the phone on mute while I work on something else at my desk. I also decline meetings when I can (this is a know your org type thing – I can usually skip meetings held by peers, but certain weekly meetings with project leadership are mandatory.)

    3. WellRed*

      One thing: If you have a meeting at 10 with ideating workers, and one at 11 with clients, I see no reason not to excuse yourself politely, but I don’t know how that would fly at your office.

      1. foolofgrace*

        That’s what I was going to say. Quietly leave. Maybe choose your seat to be near the door so you can slip out.

      2. SomebodyElse*

        This… I work in a meeting heavy culture, but for us it’s perfectly reasonable and acceptable to drop from a meeting (or leave) if there is another more important one. You can gently announce at the beginning that you have a hard stop at 11 for a client meeting and then quietly leave at that time.

    4. Amy Sly*

      Sounds like there’s a leadership vacuum with regard to meetings, with two separate problems:
      a) some of the meetings are not needed.
      b) the meetings do not accomplish what they are supposed to accomplish.
      You’ve talked to your boss, with him trying to tackle the problem by just asking “do we really need a meeting about this?” Even if everyone got buy-in on only having needed meetings, it wouldn’t solve the disorganization problem at the meetings themselves.

      I’d suggest pushing back on the second, more than the first. For one, these people do seem to like getting together and having input. That’s a cultural thing that will be very hard to change. Second, it’s something that you can work on yourself, instead of trying to get other people to change their behavior.

      You can do this in two ways. First, whenever you call a meeting, role-model the leadership behavior you want to see: have a defined agenda, come in with all the necessary background information as handouts/email, have a time-frame in mind for discussion, redirect tangents, and then save time for a wrap up where you announce the decision or at least make sure everyone understands their action items to be completed before the next meeting.

      The second technique is a bit more risky, but could pay off for you: take charge of other people’s meetings. Do those same behaviors mentioned above: know what the agenda ought to be, do at least a little background research so you can make informed comments, redirect tangents to focus on the nominal leader and their topic (“Bob, that’s an important point about X, but Jane called this meeting to discuss Y; do you think Tom’s and Suzy’s point is a good one?”), and try to synthesize the suggestions and summarize the meeting (“So it sounds like we need to do X, right Jane?”).

      Like I said, this is risky. It could be that some other folks are frustrated by formless meetings and find your proactive leadership helpful in getting work done; it could be that you get seen as a controlling busybody. You know your job better than we do. But even if you don’t try to push other meetings forward, taking control of your own and role modeling good behavior will help.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        I do this a lot… even if it’s not my meeting I’ll do a time check towards the end “Well, it looks like we have about 5 min left, should we recap and make sure we get to next steps?”

        It’s very effective!

        1. Amy Sly*

          My dad taught me the importance of doing it as a way of looking better and exhibiting “management potential.” It also ties into the sales technique of “Always Be Closing”: take charge of the conversation and keep it focused on your goals.

    5. NW Mossy*

      While you may not be able to change the broader culture, you can certainly wrestle back control of your own calendar! It sounds like you could readily get your boss to agree to you doing any and all of the following:

      * You don’t have to accept every meeting invite you get – decline the ones you can reasonably anticipate to be low-value for you. Ask for agendas, or even just a clear list of “this is what we’re here to accomplish.”
      * Block off time on your calendar for your own independent work, and decline conflicts. Set these up as recurring to train people that you’re just not available at certain times.
      * Leave meetings on time. Literally just get up and go with a friendly wave. Heck, leave them early if they’re not going anywhere.
      * Use your contributions to drive the meeting forward. I can’t tell you how weirdly effective it is to be the one who says “sounds like we have a decision on X” or “for next steps, Lucinda will do Y and Fergus will do Z and report back by Thursday.”

      1. Shirley Keeldar*

        I was going to chime in with something similar–is there a place between “change my workplace’s culture” and “just give in,” a place called, “no, thanks, not me?” Can you say, “No, thanks, I don’t need to attend that, I’m comfortable with what I know about our analytics program”? Or quietly to the meeting organizer, “Just fyi, I have to be out of here at 11:00 on the dot”? Or “Excuse me, I don’t think my input is going to be valuable here and I have a deadline, so I’m going to slip out”? Or just slip out?

        Some of this obviously depends on how senior you are and if your boss will have your back. Good luck! What you describe sounds horrible to me; I’d be tearing my hair out. Talking about work does not get work done!

      2. Auntie Social*

        Leaving early is good. I know someone who goes to meetings for half an hour. Either the meeting is really productive and it’s zipping along, or it’s a rehash of last week and he says “I have a conference call” and excuses himself. If he has to present something he says he needs to do his presentation by 9:00 so he can take a call by 9:30. And the funny thing is, people really pay attention to his segments because they know he won’t waste THEIR time.

    6. KMK*

      I think getting out will be best for your sanity.

      In my last job my grandboss didn’t think anything got accomplished unless the calendar was full of meetings. There was a day when she literally told me to schedule daily meetings for three workgroups on a project for three weeks, and then weekly meetings for another three groups. We’re talking over 50 meetings with director-level people and above. It took over three hours to do this (I’m a project manager. I begged for there to be a coordinator in the PMO, but was turned down flat). I had to spend half of the next two days apologizing to people. The vendor ended up backing out of most of the meetings. All this did was piss people off.

      I’m gone from that job and I’m now in a culture where people’s time is much more respected.

    7. Jdc*

      I once has 7 one hour each meetings over the color of a free pen. I just walked out of the last one, not the last one that occurred but the last one I attended. I felt that since I was low on the totem pole I didn’t have the right to decline a meeting. Eventually I realized I was allowed to say no and prioritize my other work.

      We had a ton of meetings there regardless of that insanity. I couldn’t do it. I don’t mind meetings but it was three full days a week of non stop meetings. I couldn’t do it. I moved on.

      If you can start saying no, great, if not I’d say start job searching.

    8. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh, the joy of having meetings to discuss what you’re going to discuss at the next meeting. I feel for you! It’s probably just the company culture and, unfortunately, if everyone is going along with it, there probably isn’t much you can do, especially since you haven’t been there very long. Taking the necessary meetings out of the picture, some people use meetings to make it look like they’re getting something done. Some have them to make the day go by faster. For others, that is their social life.

      I once worked on a team where we had so many conference calls each day, often lasting two hours each. My colleagues didn’t seem to mind because they said it made the day fly by. I couldn’t stand it. It was definitely a culture clash.

      You might want to see if there is a way you can get your work done during the meetings if it won’t get you into trouble. If not, once you’ve been there for about a year, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start looking elsewhere.

  14. Breaking in to Data Science*

    I’m interested in hearing from anyone with experience in attending one of those data science “bootcamps” or similar program. I’m considering it, but it’s a lot of money, and I’d have to quit my job, so it’s a big risk and I’m unsure of the reward. I’m looking at NYC Data Science Academy’s 12 week online program.

    I’m an applied cultural anthropologist (PhD, mid-career) currently working in healthcare. I currently do basic quantitative data analysis (in Excel) and have extensive experience with qualitative research and analysis. I’m thinking that I will be more marketable and likely higher compensated with more “hard” data analytic skills. I minored in computer science a zillion years ago, so I’m not unfamiliar with programming, just very rusty. I’m feeling a little “stuck” in my current role without anywhere to move up.

    If anyone out there has done a data science bootcamp, I’d love to hear your experience and what you got out of it!

    1. Cinnamon*

      I can’t help you out unfortunately but I looked into Penn State’s coding bootcamp and I was expected to pay the full amount ($8,000+) by the end of the 2 months which would absolutely not have worked for me so I passed. In a little wary of these bootcamps but I also went to a for profit college.

    2. Spork*

      Having graduated from a data science masters program recently, I strongly suggest that you look at job placement / success stories / etc for the data science bootcamp. A lot of intensive technical bootcamps can deluge someone with a firehose of technologies, and you’ll handle R and Scala and Hadoop and MongoDB and Keras and Matlab and Python and Spark and etc etc etc, but you’ll be competing for jobs with people not only from boot camps but also who are coming out of masters programs. A lot of bootcamps are well-intentioned but end up producing candidates who have paid $$$$$ for three months and then end up struggling to earn comparable dollars to what they had before, especially if they’re mid-career and aren’t earning entry-level salaries.

      This is not to talk you out of it, but just to encourage you to dig more into the results of the bootcamp. Of course their marketing material will claim “98% working in the industry!” which might be as vague as “they got a helpdesk job at a tech company, so that’s ‘in the industry'”.

      1. Breaking in to Data Science*

        This is really helpful, and also my fear! Having already done a PhD and having several years of industry experience, I don’t really want to go back for another Masters, but I also don’t want to get suckered into paying thousands of dollars for a program that doesn’t get me the results I’m looking for. Basically, I don’t want to go from being a mid career senior individual contributor to an entry level data job. I’m really interested in using new tech skills to further the types of analytical projects I can design theoretically, but I lack the programming/math experience to carry out on my own. I’m wary that doing a bootcamp might set me up not for taking on these larger projects, but just to go back to entry level data queries, which doesn’t interest me at all.

        1. Catwoman*

          My two-cents on this is that you already have the educational background for this type of thing, so maybe try focusing on a job where you can hone your technical skills?

          I’m currently a data analyst at a university and my highest education is a Master’s degree in arts administration (so not quantitative at all!). I got into it by learning to use Tableau in a different position at the university and moved into roles with greater and greater focus on analysis as I improved my Tableau skills. There is still a lot that I don’t know, but my current role gives me the space to experiment with programming (SQL, R) in the company of database developers and data scientists who are very skilled in this area and help me out.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          You might consider a local Community College instead of a boot camp.

          The key thing for computer skills is *using* them. Since your job doesn’t require that, the next best thing is a certification. Most community colleges have classes geared towards industry certifications (eg, Java OCAJP). They cost 1/10th boot camps, you can do them part time, you can sometimes do them remotely, and you can search for ways to use the new skills in your current job.

    3. Elizabeth Proctor*

      There was a thread about this in a recent open thread, I think. You might want to see if you can search the thread to find it. The person had a great experience but also had some insights about who this would be the best fit for.

    4. MissGirl*

      I did a masters of analytics in 18 months at a regular university. I was completely switching careers.

      1. MissGirl*

        I just saw your posting about not wanting another degree. I’m also in data analytics in healthcare. Can you do online coding like Udemy or Pluralsight to boost your technical basics? With that and your network, I would think you get into a decent analytical role and boost your skills from then on.

        I got into my job (mid level) with a basic SQL and R ability. I learned more in the first few months than any camp could teach but I needed the basics to get the job.

    5. we're basically gods*

      I did a web development bootcamp, so maybe things are different, but are there any programs that would allow you to keep your job? I looked at two different bootcamps– one would be a 12 week one that was 40 hours a week, and one was 6 months and was 10 hours a week, all outside of traditional office job hours. I went with the latter so I could keep working. I wonder if you might feel more confident about the bootcamp if you could keep working through it?

      1. Tea*

        I’m looking into web development bootcamps/ training. Would you mind sharing which one you did and what you thought of it?

    6. AnonAcademic*

      If you have previous programming experience I would try using free/cheap resources to learn online and generate a code/project portfolio, before quitting your job for more training. I think coding bootcamps are wildly overrated honestly (live and work in Silicon Valley) given that you can self-teach most of the major open source programs (R and python in particular). My partner recently self-taught himself python so that he could have a code sample to support a switch to a different subfield, it took him about a month to learn to basic proficiency using Udemy, and he was able to switch jobs based on the code he wrote (which was a simple process improvement kind of thing, but with some nice optimizations).

    7. yodaismyboo*

      Look into graduate certificates. You typically only need to have a Bachelor’s degree to qualify, through some of the more technical programs will also look for previous coursework (e.g., statistics, coding) or work experience. They’re usually about 5 classes (15 credits), so about half the commitment of a master’s degree, and they’re easy to do part-time (so you can keep your day job). At a lot of universities, you can also sign up as a non-degree-seeking student–just take some classes, see if you like the curriculum, etc. Arizona State University has some really interesting health informatics programs (as one example of many).

    8. AcademiaNut*

      Given your background, you might have better luck with a program designed for PhD researchers to transition into data science, rather than a general boot camp. I have a couple of former colleagues who did that, and went straight to 6 figure jobs in Silicon Valley. The internship was more centred around building a portfolio than straight training.

      Otherwise, I’d look into part time on line coding courses. Given your background you should be experienced at working on stuff independently. Spend some time learning some solid python or R, and bringing your statistics up, and work on developing a portfolio. Solid experience in research and analysis is really valuable, and something that a boot camp just can’t teach.

      1. kt*

        I might agree here. I recently transitioned from academia to data sci in industry (doubled my pay, woot!) and I did it not by doing a bootcamp, but by starting to teach seminars and workshops using Python and R and incorporating that into my teaching as well. I had the luxury of doing a lot of baby-data-sci in my day job, which helped. I took a lot of Coursera and Udacity courses, and then put what I learned to work in my work context. This built a portfolio of projects and skills that has been useful.

        In some ways you might be in a similar position. Solid Excel skills really help, still, in many business data sci contexts. Another avenue is to start developing your PowerBI etc skills and move to that midpoint (business analytics/intelligence?) — but that seems to mean really different things at different companies. If you could start automating some of your data cleaning tasks by using SQL/R/pandas in Python; if you could start doing your data exploration in Rstudio or in Jupyter notebooks; if you could start with simple dashboarding apps in RShiny — all these are useful data-sciency skills that you can leverage into a job where you can learn more on your own or from other people.

        I interview a lot of people for data science and related positions. Interviewed a woman recently with no formal data sci education, just a math bachelors and a ton of experience doing nasty SQL stuff for two previous employers — great hire, expanding her skills, taking things on. Interviewed a guy with a data science bootcamp under his belt (at least he said he does…) — he seems to have learned some Python somewhere but is just truly unfamiliar with anything that’s not served up to him with a csv file and a pre-assembled Anaconda environment with a GUI, and he doesn’t know the statistics or math part either. He simply didn’t learn the skills from this data science bootcamp to do data science in our environment, and I will not look favorably on this bootcamp’s graduates in the future. You’re in a position where you can sell your actual demonstrated experience doing things with data, and I’d suggest leveling up your technical skills using online or local evening courses, going to Meetups (R users groups, Python users groups, women coders groups if you’re female, machine learning groups — in my city some host weekend study sessions), and simultaneously building a portfolio and real-life connections especially if you want to stay where you are geographically. Your skills are valuable and you’re 80% there. So many people I interview can run XGBoost but can’t figure out what could possibly be wrong with this dataset (oh they administered the survey on a day when the sports teams were off for a team building thing so no jocks were surveyed… oh, it turns out everyone uses this entry field as a placeholder and then just puts the real value in the text notes field next to it…)

        If you want to move to Silicon Valley or NYC (assuming you’re not there yet) then do an in-person program there, sure.

    9. CrazyKetoLady*

      I finished a data visualization and analytics boot camp in November. Prior to that, I had been in education. I have a Master’s in a subject related to the one that I have been teaching and designing curricula for.

      I learned a ton and was able to do some pretty cool things, but finding my first position was really tough: nearly all of the jobs (including entry-level) require a graduate degree in a quantitative field and 2+ years of experience. I wound up going through a recruiter and have a contract position that is going to involve a bit of business analytics. (Note that my jobs before have involved analysis, but mostly as a soft skill: I didn’t need to generate reports or anything like that.)

      Many of my classmates were actually getting their tuitions paid by their employers, who were investing in their growth within the company. Is there any chance that your employer would get on board with that for you? Healthcare analytics is a huge field, and I am hoping to wind up there eventually.

      I imagine that you may have an easier time finding a position than I did, given that you’re doing some work with analytics tools, but a boot camp certificate isn’t a sufficient qualification in most cases.

      Also, might you be able to do a part time boot camp? You wouldn’t need to quit your job, though you might want to try to go part time if you can. My boot camp was six months (ten hours in class a week plus homework).

  15. Stan Bark*

    When my organization sends rejection letters to internal candidates for positions, they always include — as the last sentence of the email — the person from the organization who got selected for the position. (They just state who was chosen; they don’t explain why.)

    Is this a normal practice? I mean, since it’s all internal, we’d find out who got the position soon enough anyway, but… I’ve never worked at any other place that does this. It seems like an invitation to try to compare yourself against the person who got the position, and a morale-killer if for some reason the person chosen is perceived as less qualified than yourself. Just curious.

    1. Turtlewings*

      They probably just figure you’re going to find out anyway, so as a courtesy they spare you the effort of trying to dig around and find out. You could argue that it would be weird for them to be coy with the information. They know full well everyone’s first question is going to be “well, who DID get it?” and since it’s not a secret, they might as well put it out there.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      Whenever I was turned down for an internal promotion, I was told in person by the hiring manager. A couple of those experiences were very helpful as they included some good feedback about next steps and interview skills (one was TERRIBLE and I’ve written a bit about that one here) and usually timed so that I was told before the official announcement went out. Looking back, there was reasoning as to who the other candidate was picked over me which was only helpful or reassuring about 50% of the time.

      1. Salty Admin*

        Man, being told in person would be nice! A while ago I was approached by a different department in my company and was told that they had a new position opening up and they knew the good work I do and thought I would be a great fit. Seemed like an exciting opportunity and they asked me personally to apply so I thought that was a good sign. I was the first to interview and they told me that had FIVE other interviews to conduct before they would choose the top 2 candidates for second interviews. So I was trying to wait patiently, but since I’m an executive assistant I decided to check the outlook calendars of the rooms where I know HR holds interviews. Low and behold the second interviews were already scheduled. I didn’t get any sort of rejection until someone had accepted the job and then I just got a form letter emailed to me saying the position had been filled. I’d known for over 2 weeks at that point! I still feel kind of salty that the lady that asked me personally to apply never reached out to tell me why I wasn’t chosen.

    3. Mrs Peaches*

      I haven’t seen that included in a rejection notice before. Over a couple years I applied for several internal positions in an attempt to outrun the cycle of layoffs in my department. I received the rejection email, and then a couple days later the congratulatory mass email informing everyone of who was selected – which felt like a double-whammy. The one time my manager did immediately tell me who was selected, I was grateful because I had time to process the disappointment and comparison all at once and move on.

    4. Formerly in HR*

      Here it is done for unionised roles, as the rejected candidates could grieve the hiring (they can see the winner’s seniority and can compare with their own, since this is one of the major factors in selection).

    5. andy*

      Probably to cut on rumors and gossip. It is not exactly transparency, but much better then having people guess who won from randomly overheard hints.

  16. in the file room*

    This week our office got into it over pets in the workplace… via reply all to the all-office distribution list! It went on for two days, even after one of the senior managers pointed out that we’re subject to national policy that prohibits non-service animals. The only really good reply was that if people brought their cats, we might finally get the mouse problem under control….

    I was just excited to see my first reply-all mess in the wild!

    1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

      I really hope that people started replying with photos of their pets. That would make my day.

    2. Anno Spider Story*

      Tangent warning ahead: a coworker once brought in their pet tarantula – all fuzzy and leggy and BIG! It was in it’s cage, but dear lord. Their house was getting painted and they didn’t want it exposed to the fumes.
      Following week; new no pets policy.

      1. Windchime*

        I would seriously have to work from home that week. I hate spiders and would be a crying, anxious mess if I saw one that big at work (or anywhere).

  17. Kalesniffer*

    Is anyone else a Business Office Manager in a skilled nursing facility? At my facility I’m in charge of accounts receivable, HR, and payroll. I’m new to this job and am wondering if it’s normal to constantly have a full work load that never gets whittled down. My previous work experience definitely set me up to be able to handle this role but I’m used to having some downtime. I’m a fast, organized worker who’s used to getting my work completed quickly so I can catch up on work that’s been on the back burner. With this role it seems like there are constantly fires cropping up that need to be put out, from revamping our entire employee list to match corporate’s new guidelines (to be done in less than a week!) to mailing out a bunch of duplicate W2s to former employees who are just now calling with their new addresses, a week after we sent the originals to the addresses we had on file. All of that while keeping up with the regular, daily work of the job, which is enough to fill a 40-hour week on its own. I don’t mind working hard and being busy but I would love just one afternoon where I can finally type up my training notes and organize my files. I’ve tried to give myself some time to settle into the role and, after five months, I feel like I understand the pacing, what to prioritize, and how to efficiently get things done. But the additional work just never stops coming! Is this just how the job is? If you also work as a BOM, are you happy with the job? Any tips on how to stay sane?

    1. Eether Eyether*

      My job is completely different from yours, but can you bring in a temp to help with some of the paperwork? I know how frustrating it is to have work sitting there just waiting for you attention.

    2. CTT*

      I don’t work in a SNF but I’m a lawyer who does a lot of SNF transactions, and 80% of the time there is some sort of back office agreement in place – either with a third party or an affiliate of the owner. Is the SNF small or is this the only one that the owner owns? It would probably be difficult to convince them to hire a back office service, but you should lay out how much work you’re doing and ask if it would be feasible to hire someone to help.

    3. WearingManyHats*

      I have a very similar role at a software company and it took me a year to get into the groove (and a lot of that was creating the groove, as there were no processes). I’ve been here for nearly 2 years now and this week is the first where I’ve had more than 2 days in a row to take care of my own admin/filing work. I got all my processes completed early, but since it’s the end of January I’m waiting for the shoe to drop! I am looking for an HR Generalist position, as I feel like my growth has stagnated. I read the AAM comments to remind me of how good I have it! :D

    4. Koala dreams*

      I think it’s quite normal in this kind of job to need quite a long time to get into the job. Some tasks only come up a few times a year, or only once a year, and then you feel that they just come from nowhere. Next year, you will be expecting them and it will not feel as stressful. It’s of course also possible that the work load is too big for one person and you might need a part time worker or even a full time worker to assist you.

    5. DBI*

      Where you in healthcare before? I don’t have experience with your particular role, but for healthcare in general, this is very very common.

    6. Llamas@law*

      I am a lawyer and work with a lot of SNF business office managers on Medicaid appeals, etc. your experience sounds spot on to the industry. It’s a really overwhelming job.

      1. Janet*

        I work in finance at a home office for SNFs, this sounds very normal. I am actually wondering if we work for the same organization.

  18. Lalalala*

    I’m starting a new job in a few weeks (!) in Major City 1, and just found out that a prominent member of my new team (though not my manager) are moving to Major City 2 in the next year, and there’s discussion of having more of my team there in the future. I have long wanted to move to Major City 2, and would love to throw my name in the hat if they’re considering who should move, but I really don’t want to give the impression that I’m not excited about working with team in Major City 1 (because I am!). My current plan is to wait a few months until I’m settled, and then mention to my manager that I’d be interested in moving to the Major City 2 office at some point in the future, but it’s by no means urgent. Is there some other way I should handle this? Wait longer? Mention it only if it comes up? I am incredibly excited about this company and role and all my coworkers, so I don’t want to give the impression that I’m already thinking about switching things up, but I also want to let them know that they can send me to Major City 2 if they need staff there, as I’d be thrilled to go.

    The company headquarters is in Major City 1, but has offices in Major Cities 2, 3, and 4, and the work isn’t location-dependent.

    1. Fibchopkin*

      I’d wait. It will surely come up in conversation or at a meeting and you can then say “I’ve always wanted to live there! I love it here, but if the opportunity to move there opens up, I’d definitely be open to it.” If you were my new hire, or a new member of our management team and one of your first acts would be to tell me/our manager that you want to move to another city to join a team that is still only a concept, I’d wonder if you were already applying to other jobs in that city and already actively trying to get there, and just accepted the current job as a place holder until you could get to where you really want to be.

      1. Lalalala*

        Thank you for your response! To be clear, we have a large office in Major City 2 already, it’s not just a concept, it’s more that 75% of my team is in my city currently and 25% are in Major City 2, but I have heard that they are slowly trying to get it to more of a 50-50 split. But I think you’re right, I’ll mention it if it comes up but otherwise wait.

        1. Fibchopkin*

          Ah- yes, sorry, didn’t read carefully enough! That does make it a bit different, but I’d still wait a bit. It would be a good idea to get the pulse a little better on this and see if they really are actively looking to even out the amount of team members in each city, or if that’s just hearsay. If it comes up and your supervisor mentions wanting to increase the number of team members in City 2, that’s when I’d pipe up and express a willingness to move. The difference in perception there would be pretty big for me- like asking about it straight away would make me wonder if you’re already trying to get something in City 2, but mentioning your interest in context would be more likely ot leave me thinking “Oh cool! She’s flexible and I have an option here”

    2. Jenn*

      I would lean toward mentioning it if it comes up organically and phrase it as “I heard about that possibility and I would be open to moving to Major City 2 if that’s the direction the company decides to go.” Otherwise, I think I’d go with your original plan of waiting a few months. But I’d still use the phrasing of “open to moving” as it makes you look flexible and a “team player” willing to do what the job needs.

      1. Elizabeth Proctor*

        This. I wouldn’t say “I’ve always wanted to move to MC2” or something like that, because it puts too much of a priority on the location. If you wanted to be a little more assertive you could say “I would be interested in…” instead of “open to…”

    3. CL Cox*

      What everyone else said. Plus, if they are looking to split your team, with you supervising all of them from one location, then down the road you could always bring up the possibility of supervising from City 2 rather than City 1.

    4. Anono-me*

      I agree that you don’t want to bring up a move with your manager out of the blue right away.

      However, if other people on your team are discussing the the possibility that they might be asked to move to City 2 , I think it would be prudent for you to sound mildly enthusiastic about it. Things like: “I think it might be fun to live in City 2.” Or “City 2 has a lot of great things to offer.” Or ” I have family in City 2, so I spend a lot of time there already and really like it.”

      That way when moving to City 2 is discussed, other people will suggest you as one of the people to consider for the move. (Especially the other people who don’t want to move will suggest you as one who might be happy to make move.)

  19. Corgo*

    I posted on the 1/4 Friday thread about another manager not doing their work so some things were falling to me and her boss didn’t care and expected me to pick up her slack. Link for context in a reply. This is what’s been going on:

    1. Lemur, Zebra and I are in a group chat. We’ve been chatting and Lemur told us that she corrects her team’s work herself even if it means calling the client herself because she deosn’t want to go back and forth with the team member. The SOP here is that your staff does the work ad you review it. If it’s wrong, you tell them why and what you need–basically you are coaching them on the right questions to ask and they are the poc with the client. 

    2. In our managerial meetings with our senior dept managers, Hippo & Possum, Lemur said she calls clients for other teams. Completely bypassing the procedure we’ve carefully set up. it’s a big deal in our company for someone to not follow the process. 

    3. Lemurs team is also requesting over time which Hippo signed off on–we were shocked because her team has the most people and least amount of work. Zebra and I have more work but our teams haven’t needed OT. 

    Normally I wouldn’t care about a coworker and MMOB but VP handpicked Lemur and VP hates me for some reason and will find any reason to put me/my team down. Its…unfair. Yes it sounds childish but there you go. I feel like it’s grossly unfair.

    Possum, my direct manager, is very supportive of me and understanding. We are frustrated about all of this, but its something bigger and out of our hands. I’m going on FMLA later this year, and while I am away I plan to job search. I do love my job, my team, my coworkers and my boss, but the discrepancy in treatment is maddening. 

    1. tangerineRose*

      Generally if someone else’s boss wants me to pick up the slack for their report, I tell them I have to run it by my boss first. Since Lemur’s boss seems to be your grandboss, that might not work though.

  20. Amethyst*

    No question, just a vent.

    I HATE Aetna for the week. They’ve been reprocessing hundreds of thousands of claims from the last year because they processed them originally under our old contract. So we’ve been dealing with a HUGE influx of takebacks and repayments, all of which have to be done manually since our system goes *bzzt* when this happens. I worked on one $8200 check for FOUR DAYS, y’all. For context, that would normally take me an hour to do. And I’m over $39.20 and can’t find it because I’ve been staring at this check for four days. I have a coworker looking at it now.

    AND I got the lucky draw and pulled yet another Aetna batch yesterday after I posted the remainder of the one that took me four days. I’m over $52.70 with that and I’m flipping ALL the tables. Eating lunch now and then I’m gonna go back to it.

    Cross your fingers I find the money. We have to close end of month on Monday. *facepalm*

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      OMG my head hurts just thinking about your struggle right now.

      I hate them for you. I almost had a mental break when I saw a payment come through from Mega Corp Who Shall Not Be Named that doesn’t even send remittance all the time, has impossible to reach AP given their 90807 divisions and in general…loves to make life hard [fun fact, I get to send massive overpayments to unclaimed properties on their behalf every 3 years, bless their hearts…]

      Thankfully I figured that one out by some miracle, thankfully I picked the right two combinations out of sheer dumb luck.

      1. Amethyst*

        Thanks. It’s utterly overwhelming. A coworker told me she got today’s Aetna batch & discovered she has to manually post an entire $8000 check because NOTHING, literally nothing, can be posted automatically.

        Your experience with Mega Corp sounds like one of the insurance companies we deal with on a daily basis. We were able to fax over EOB requests (because they’re effin’ idiots & don’t send EOBs with their checks, AND don’t make them available on their website either) & we’d get responses within a week with all the ones we needed. Now it takes 23785749 phone calls & multiple conversations to even get a SINGLE ONE. (I’m looking at you, Emblem Health/GHI/HIP.)

        We are OVER this week. I’d be drinking wine right now except I’m too broke to afford a bottle, so I’m wistfully imagining drinking a glass right now.

        On the bright side, the $8200 check finally balanced with the coworker’s help. The second one I did: I found all but 30 cents of it. So I’ll be back at it on Monday. & I posted the rest of the latter’s batch so all I have to do is focus on finding that 30 cents. I hope it’s an easy find, lol.

    2. AnonyNurse*

      Can’t post details for obvious reasons, but they are on my list this week for an absurd (*absurd*) pre-auth demand for a prescription for an ER patient. Like set my hair on fire, set their hair on fire, this is why the system is so broken.

      So yea. Feel you on Aetna.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        I’ve never worked with them, but had the misfortune to have to use them for my insurance for eight months (they were what that job allowed). UGH. I’m so glad I’m out.

  21. KarenT*

    sAnyone else have an organization that’s blocked Netflix and other streaming apps from its devices? We used to have it blocked from our wifi when we were in the building (makes sense, no one needs to be watching Netflix at work) but now it’s blocked from our devices. I travel extensively for work and often use my laptop on long flights or in my hotel room at night to watch movies. I realize this is a very small issue in the grand scheme of things, but I’m finding it annoying because now the only way I could watch Netflix on a plane or hotel room is to bring my personal laptop as well (or on my phone, which I don’t love for long amounts of time).

    1. The Rain In Spain*

      Yes, but there is a process to ask for an exception, which I haven’t done myself. Might be worth asking since you travel so much!

    2. lobsterbot*

      That’s annoying but I can understand why they’d do it. Consider getting a mid range tablet, mine is perfect for single-person viewing of video and a lot easier to carry than another laptop.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Yep, I bring my personal laptop. For a long time I worked at places where your company tech doubled as your personal tech, but I think that is changing universally. There isn’t enough broadband for everyone, so companies are really cutting down on streaming hogs. Even if you are traveling, if there is a secure connection or VPN, you can still be using the company’s server and their resources.

    3. KR*

      This girl. I used to use Netflix on planes while travelling for work, now I can’t. Amazon video works, I think Hulu might work but I can’t remember my iTunes PW to try it out. Disappointing

    4. Military Prof*

      It might be a cyber-security issue, rather than a particular disdain for Netflix by the company. Sometimes, third-party software can create vulnerabilities within the company’s devices–and if malware gets onto a single device, it can then spread throughout the company network and cause an enormous amount of problems. You could probably ask your company’s IT personnel about why it has been blocked.
      Alternately, it might be because people had found a workaround to the block of the streaming apps, which was allowing them to waste time at work, and IT decided that a general block would be the easier solution than trying to discipline the ones causing problems.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Yes- I’ve worked for companies that didn’t allow any streaming. It was always for security purposes.

    5. WellRed*

      We wre acquired by a larger company that has a division related somewhat to health insurance so I fully expect this to happen once we move to their servers. My work laptop won’t allow me to access Ask A Manager.

    6. higheredrefugee*

      Might be worth a midrange Samsung-like tablet. I use mine for these purposes and reading/listening to books, and it is the perfect size/weight for carrying all the time.

    7. Julie*

      I have an Amazon Fire stick that is smaller than a computer mouse, plugs directly into the TV, and lets me watch any of the major streaming services. I took it with me my last trip and it was very nice to have. Caveats: the hotel must have Wi-Fi, and don’t forget to unplug the thing from the back of the TV when you leave!

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Yup us too. Blocked all streaming video, including the mandatory staff orientation and safety trainings by our safety training provider and insurance company.

    8. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Depending on how your company monitors your network, *everything* you access on the company device is shuffled through a monitoring firewall/proxy. Thus, non-essential things like Netflix and other streaming services that don’t have potential business applications (like Youtube, which does have useful/important/critical content) are blocked to reduce the load on the servers that are monitoring the corporate traffic. This is also a reason to never mix personal passwords or files into your work IT environment.

    9. Blarg*

      My employer blocks all outside email. Social media? Fine. Streaming? Cool.

      Gmail? Nope.

      Too many people opening toxic attachments. Total PITA for work travel.

    10. Gatomon*

      No, but I’ve helped clients implement this. Usually it’s because someone ruined it for everyone by watching Netflix or Twitch instead of working. Their implementation seems particularly draconian though.

      If you can’t get your IT to relent, this might be a good use-case for a small, light tablet. I would look at the iPad, iPad Mini, a Surface Go or any of the various Android tablets out there. iPad will probably get you the best battery life as far as I know. I use a Surface Go myself because I like the full-fledged PC aspect for longer trips, and I use it around the house for when I don’t want to go to the office to boot up my gaming desktop, but it doesn’t have the battery life of an iPad.

    11. CSR by Day*

      My employer has blocked “Google” for no apparent reason, but the browsers default to “Bing.” Go figure. (Bing is especially helpful for finding things on the company website, when the search engine on the company’s intranet doesn’t.)

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

        Uffff, if my company blocked Google there would be an uproar, since sometimes our jobs involves reading Google’s services documentation.

    12. Reliquary*

      Perfect excuse to get a tablet! There are some incredibly affordable ones out there now. I am very frugal when it comes to electronics, and even I’ve got one.

  22. VictoriaQ*

    I started a new job a few months ago, and I’ve realized that not only do I really enjoy the people in the office and the work itself, but that the company really puts effort into making people feel valued and wanted. Things like the boss sometimes closing the office early on Fridays, or randomly treating us to lunch. Things like having twice-yearly employee appreciation parties (I’ve been to one already and it was delightful). And that’s on top of a great salary and full benefits.

    So, what’s something a company has done that’s made you feel valued and/or appreciated?

    1. SunnySideUp*

      I have nothing! Which explains my current job hunt.

      But all those things sound fantastic, you’re lucky!

    2. Kalesniffer*

      That’s a great work environment to find yourself in! Especially if you’ve ever felt the opposite of appreciated at work. I’m glad you landed yourself somewhere great like that.

      I’m also really happy with my coworkers and my work environment. I have a boss who is wonderful at being in tune with the general mood of the office and with her individual workers. Stuff like buying us all lunch when we’re in the middle of a busy period helps make us feel noticed and appreciated. She advocates for her staff in everything from pay increases to proper staffing levels so no one’s overloaded. She actually gave me today off as a paid day since I put in extra hours last pay period (I’m salaried so there’s no extra compensation) and regularly checks in with me to see how my workload is going.

    3. New Job So Much Better*

      My office caters a lunch about twice a month for all the corporate employees. They also got subscriptions for all of us to an exercise/health website (optional) and gives us a nice Christmas bonus.

      1. New Job So Much Better*

        Also management treats us like adults, and everyone has a generally positive attitude.

    4. LizP*

      It’s so great to hear this. Congratulations to you and Kale. Sadly I’m in the opposite position so your post gives me hope that if I finally decided to leave that I too may find a great environment.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      Mine actually handles complaints made to HR (which, thank goodness, are either extremely rare or handled very discreetly, or both). I also discovered this week that they will reimburse me up to $50 a month for bus passes. And they encourage us to use PTO.

    6. QuinleyThorne*

      My managers are really good about providing verbal, feedback, but there was 1 interaction that I had during my first year at current!job that really stands out to me: This was during my first few months; I had some downtime and was asking the supervisors in my division if they had any extra projects they needed help with, etc. No one had anything, so I went to ask the grandboss (who was on the panel who hired me). When he didn’t have anything for me either, I took the opportunity to ask if I was meeting expectations, and if there was anything specific they’d like me to work toward, etc. He told me no, and that I was doing great, and then asked me, “Are we meeting your expectations?” I must’ve looked confused or taken aback, so he elaborated that he was cognizant of the fact that the work culture of this office was markedly different from the one I came from, and wanted to make sure that the slower pace was okay, that I was enjoying my work, and that everyone was treating me well. I told him that the pace was slower, but that had been what I was looking for, and that everyone was professional and friendly. That was literally the first time any employer I’d ever had asked for feedback that explicitly, and the first time that my feedback was not only valued, but actively encouraged.

    7. Chronic Overthinker*

      I love the fact that even though I have the most junior position on staff that I am still treated like a colleague. If one of the partners pops out for lunch, they will ask me if I want anything. We also get food treats here and there and an occasional treated lunch. Also, our office is dog friendly and some of the senior staff have brought in their dogs. But overall the biggest thing my company has done is given me a good work/life balance. This is one of the ONLY jobs I’ve had where at the end of the day I clock out and don’t worry about work until I get in the next business day.

    8. WineNot*

      My office will typically order lunch a catered lunch a few times a quarter for everyone. They get a massage therapist to come in about once a quarter to give 15-minute massages for people who want it. They apparently try to celebrate birthday months (though I have been here 10 months and today is the first time I’ve seen a massive cake for this). Our department head just bought us lunch yesterday for covering for someone while they were out for a week. I guess when I list it out, it doesn’t sound so bad…in real life it sometimes feels way worse than that!

    9. we're basically gods*

      At old!job, I was a W-2 contractor and paid hourly, so I didn’t technically get holidays at all. But my boss and grandboss both made sure I was paid for the holidays when the office was closed, even though it wasn’t *really* part of my benefits. The whole office also closed down at around 1pm-2pm on Fridays in summer, which was so lovely.
      There were a lot of things about working there that I really enjoyed– the people were nice, the location was great, I felt supported, the perks were good without being overbearing. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any roles suiting what I actually wanted to do with my life, so it was just a nice place to work while finishing up some schooling.

    10. Diahann Carroll*

      My current company is like this for me. At Christmas, they sent us remote workers a gift in the mail (which I love and use often), they regularly host fun events at headquarters (last time they had something extra fun, I happened to be in town and it was a wine tasting party on our outdoor patio – the first 200 or so people to the party were able to get branded wine glasses to take home, and I got one), we get quarterly bonuses that are pretty much guaranteed (prior companies have either only given out bonuses to the sales and sales-adjacent teams, of which I was apart of, or our bonuses were tied to taking and passing exams for certifications/designations), they reimburse all work travel expenses ASAP (I just got my last trip approved Monday and got paid today so I was able to pay off my credit card long before any interest accrued), and my boss regularly tells me he appreciates my hard work and respects my ideas about what my team is doing within the company.

      I also get paid very well for what I do, have the best benefits and time off policy I have ever had at a company (I’m already sitting on 50 hours of vacation time I can use and will accrue 110 more hours this year), and they encourage taking time off and don’t bother you when you do. My stress level has gone down considerably since I began working here, and I truly enjoy the people I work with and what I do every day.

    11. CastIrony*

      I’ve been blessed with a manager who has shown me nothing but kindness and respect. He’s even offered to buy me things like a candy bar or a pop (We are in retail.)

      But right now, he has a ruptured disk in his back, and because he’s so nice, I want to do everything I can to help!

    12. DigitalDragon*

      Not my company so much as my boss, but we were in a sticky situation at the end of last year where two people on the team were out on extended sick leave at the same time and I was the only person who had any expertise on their roles (I used to do it, it got split out into two when I got my current role!) so I covered both their jobs for 9 weeks.

      My boss – as well as making sure to have regular check ins with me to make sure I wasn’t burning out and to see what support I could be given to help with the additional workload – brought me in a large bag of skittles with a note of thanks attached one day. Small thing, but made me feel so valued, and that all my extra effort was appreciated. That note has pride of place on my fridge now.

      (Everyone is now back and okay now, and I’m back to doing my current role so the situation has a happy ending as well)

      1. Windchime*

        I first read this as a “large bag of kittens” and I was instantly very, very jealous. But Skittles is good, too.

    13. Gatomon*

      Bonuses. :)

      Non-monetarily: I really like early dismissal on the days before holidays, personally. No one is really working hard anyway, so set us free! I usually spend holidays alone (by choice) so I work those days, but with most of the rest of the office gone, there’s often not much work to do.

    14. Fikly*

      When they switched health insurance offerings and none of the new plans worked for me, I talked with HR, and they promised to fix this for the new cycle. Then head of HR met with me to discuss what I needed in a plan, and then met with me again to discuss the plans he was looking at to see if they could potentially work.

      The result? I just saved $3000 on MRIs alone in the last 2 months.

    15. SweetestCin*

      Oh man, considering I went from a place where I legit stated “that’s not how this works, that’s not how any of this works guys. Why? Um, building codes/fill in similar reason.” several times a day, had to track my hours (as a salaried professional) via an app, fought daily for work-life balance, frequently received less than 24 hours notice of out of town travel (I have small children and a life outside work where others depend on me being there), AND dealt with a commute from the ninth ring of Hades? Bonus: I’m a woman in a VERY male dominated industry and work culture. So I deal with not being invited to things at my level essentially due to who I am, but I’m also skipped over for the fun stuff that a lot of women in the office did because I wasn’t administrative. VERY isolating.

      My first day at new job, my first email is from the admin to the owner. No, it’s not a welcome message. Its an invitation to the annual “Ladies annual Christmas White Elephant lunch”. This is a welcome change, because “see above VERY isolating”.

      I’m now asked “SweetestCin, what do you think? Any ideas for a solution here?” as opposed to being told what we’re going to do, and me having to look at them and explain that “uh, guys, code doesn’t permit us to do that, that’s why.”

      There’s no time tracking app.

      I work with good people. I have a good work/life balance. My boss does not expect that I answer something that crops up over the weekend unless its an emergency. There’s no “hey BTW you need to go to Big City #1 and your flight’s at 9 a.m. tomorrow” at 5 p.m. after I’ve left work.

      I went from ridiculous to heavenly.

  23. Matilda*

    I work with Agatha Trunchbull. She is very possessive of our boss and the others in the department. Being new, I am her target, I believe, and she likes to torture me daily. If I leave early for an appointment or go to a meeting, I get a million questions from her on where I’m going, why, what’s going on, etc. She also likes to debate and prove that she is the smartest in the room. If I say the sky is blue, she says it’s grey, etc. (I could go on and on.)

    I’ve tried the usual “pretend you’re observing a different species”, and other advice given here. I’ve done the “That’s interesting” or “You don’t say” type answers, but Trunchbull is relentless and seems to *want* to get a rise out of me.

    I don’t want to go off on her or snap at her and lose my job, but it’s starting to effect me by making me stressed out and feeling like I’m being bullied.

    How do I deal with her? Any advice or words of wisdom? Thank you in advance!

    1. irene adler*

      RE: leaving for meetings and appointments
      Why are you answering her questions?
      Just get up, mutter “off to the meeting!” and walk away. Don’t stop-even as she’s peppering you with questions.

      RE: debates
      There’s no debating going on if there’s no one to debate with. Clearly the “that’s interesting” statements are causing her to ‘try harder’ to get you to respond. Time for a different tactic.
      Are these debates on the work itself? Or are they on non-work things? If it is not work-related -don’t engage. Walk away, turn away, move to reading/working on the computer or whatever form your work consists of.
      “Excuse me. I need to get the productivity report started.”

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Why are you answering her questions?
        Just get up, mutter “off to the meeting!” and walk away. Don’t stop-even as she’s peppering you with questions.

        Exactly this. She is not your boss, OP – you owe her no explanations whatsoever. As long as your manager knows where you are and what you’re doing, ignore Trunchbull.

    2. Colette*

      Some thoughts:
      – you don’t have to answer questions about appointments or meetings. “What an odd question”, “Oh, just something I have to take care of”, “Just a personal thing”, etc. And then keep walking – don’t stick around to answer follow up questions.
      – If she likes being the smartest in the room, let her. You don’t have to debate. But if you do, try “that hasn’t been my experience”, “if that works for you”, etc.

      In other words, make it really, really unrewarding to pester you.

    3. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

      How handy are you at telekinesis?

      In all seriousness, document everything that you can, especially if it’s a build up of a million little things. It may actually help to do things like email her your meeting schedule in very bald terms “Hi Agatha, I will be out of office for the teapots meeting from 1-4 on wednesday, and unavailable due to the saucers conference call on thursday from 10-11:30 AM. Hope this answers all your questions about my schedule for this week?”

      On a reasonable person this would reduce the questioning, but it probably won’t – the point here is making you look proactive and on the ball, instead of making it obvious that you want to have fewer interactions with her. When it inevitably goes above you there’s a trail of you being organized and efficient, which makes her pestering look bad.

      On non-work subjects, put her on an information diet so strict that Dr. Kellog would consider it austere.

      1. Joielle*

        It sounds like she’s just a coworker, though, and if that’s the case I don’t think OP should give in and start giving her detailed rundowns of their schedule. I say information diet for everything and polite non-answers when you can’t avoid a question – “Just an appointment, see you later!” “No worries, gotta run!” Or put on headphones on your way out and just wave as you leave.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup – Trunchbull is her peer, not her manager or supervisor, so she doesn’t have a right to a rundown of what OP’s schedule looks like when she’s out of the office. Trunchbull needs to stay in her lane.

        2. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

          Oh, I assumed it was a boss.

          In which case… become a grey rock of non informativeness.

    4. WellRed*

      I kind of like saying something that sounds polite, but makes little to no sense in context: “Where are you going?”
      “All set, thanks!” Said with a smile and a cheery wave.

      1. we're basically gods*

        I find that responding to attempts to engage me with a cheerful “No thanks!” works pretty well! It doesn’t really make sense, but it’s polite, and automatic enough that I don’t stumble over saying it at all.

        1. RecoveringSWO*

          +1 “No thanks!” + walk away/close door is my go-to for dealing with solicitors. I think “no thanks!” or a cheery “excuse me” while walking away on repeat would work great here.

      2. Another Millenial*

        I’m a fan of sarcastically outlandish replies. “Where are you going?” “Gotta send some goats to space!” “What are you really doing?” “Getting some top hats for my tarantulas.”

        If she wants to get a rise out of you, it’s a great way to turn the tables.

      3. Mouch*

        I had a peer coworker kinda like this, and instead of being polite, I responded to an umpteenth inappropriate “where have you been?” question with an honest, flat, “Changing my tampon in the bathroom.”

        Inappropriate? Sure. But she got the point, was absolutely mortified, said “yep – you’re right, I shouldn’t have asked,” and never asked me again. (Would I recommend this for a coworker who may really want to report you for inappropriate conduct? No. My coworker and I were friendly, but I was very secretly BEC because of her intrusiveness and lack of boundaries.)

      4. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Yes! Pretend you’re Ursula (Phoebe’s sister on Friends/the waitress on Mad About You). She was hilarious with similar responses.

    5. QuinleyThorne*

      You mention that Agatha is “possessive” of your boss. I’m willing to bet it’s because she’s attempting to obfuscate her shitty behavior by controlling who gets access to your boss (this might explain her incessant questioning whenever you leave unexpectedly).

      Since you’ve tried polite deflection and direct confrontation is likely not something that would work (given her apparent penchant for debates), I would document interactions you have with her for a couple of weeks, and then take them to your boss (I’d email her first, and ask if she can set aside some time to meet with you about this issue). Explain that you are trying to handle this yourself, but that you want some guidance on another way to have better interactions with her.

    6. ArtK*

      Let me echo what others have said about the questioning about meetings and appointments. By answering her, you’re validating that she has the right to ask those questions. The fact is, she doesn’t have the right to ask them. Give her nothing more than a breezy “oh, something that I need to do” and exit her vicinity. Don’t engage at all.

        1. lasslisa*

          Ooh, yes. “Don’t worry I’ll be back later!”

          What, she going to say “I wasn’t worried I was just nosy”? :-D

    7. Orange You Glad*

      For me, being honest that I’m literally being bullied by my coworker helped?

      To say it out loud to myself: “Agatha is bullying me.”

      “When she repeatedly questions my schedule, that’s bullying & controlling behavior.”

      “Arguing about the color of the sky to get a rise out of me is deliberate bullying behavior.”

      It’s a reality check – I’m not being too sensitive or taking her behavior too seriously or whatever diminishing “it’s not really *that* bad” justifications I’ve been saying to myself. I’m not crazy: I’m being bullied by my coworker.

      For me, once I can own the reality of what’s happening, it creates space to problem solve and take action that matches the level of bullying that’s occurring. Good luck!

      1. Emilitron*

        Yes. Acknowledge to yourself that it’s happening; that’s the first step to being able to have a conversation about it with somebody else. Maybe that somebody will be her (I need you to stop doing this) or your mutual boss (please agree that this is unacceptable), but it’s really helpful to go into those conversations knowing that you’re justified in asking for change, and not feeling like maybe you’re guilty or oversensitive. You’re not. She’s being a controlling jerk.

    8. AnonforThis*

      No useful advice, but following this because I’m in this situation too. Tried having a Come to Jesus talk with Trunchbull, explaining (charitably) that I need more autonomy to get my work done effectively. She responded by saying that I do what she wants and that I have no autonomy.

      I already knew that the conversation was not going to go well, but that answer gave me the confirmation I needed that there is no fixing this, and I need to put all my efforts into finding a new job, since in my current role any major progress I make towards my work result in long, drawn-out arguments about how the sky is not actually blue.

      Good luck with your Trunchbull, Matilda! I hope your telekinetic skills are put to good use.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Answer with increasingly bizarre and “out there” but recognizably untrue responses.

      Oh that appointment? I had to take my eagle to its twice yearly talon salon appointment, etc.

    10. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Oh my- do you work with my former co-worker, Self-Appointed Hall Monitor? She sounds just like her. Such a nightmare.

      One thing I found effective was to answer her questions with a cheery yet firm “Why do you ask?” Then she’d get all flustered and defensive.

      You could also say something like “Yes, Boss knows I have an appointment.”

      When she tries to debate, you could say, “Well, look at you!” Or “Good for you!” Or “Oh, you just crack me up.” And if you really about to lose it, “Bless your heart.” All with a smile. Being politely condescending to people like that can be satisfying.

      I also like the nonsense “No thanks!” answers mentioned below.

      Good luck with Trunchbull. People like that are maddening.

  24. On that Academic Job Market Grind*

    so I’m preparing for my first campus visit and I think I’m pretty well-prepared and good at the conventional interview stuff but I’ve never spent like, twelve uninterrupted hours with a hiring committee which is kind of what this will be like. any tips for the less structured moments? help me avoid shooting myself in the foot over lunch, for instance?

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      My husband’s a professor, and the big thing I remember him saying about interviews is that a lot of people will take you for coffee during your 1:1 meetings, but they won’t necessarily schedule you for bathroom breaks after drinking all that coffee. So plan on a demure way to ask to use the restroom between meetings.

      Good luck!

    2. Prof*

      To be honest, adrenaline will carry you through a lot of it. Yes to the other comment to ask for bathroom breaks – they are not always scheduled. Remember to think and act like a colleague, not like a student – don’t be obsequious or overly deferential, and try to keep things more conversational than Q&A.

      The best advice I ever received about campus visits was from an asst. prof. who applied for an open-rank position and won it over two very senior candidates. She told me that when she found out who her competition was she thought it was impossible for her to ever get the job, so she decided to embrace it and just try to enjoy the trip, meeting people and talking about her work. This meant that she was actually super relaxed and personable during the visit and ended up getting the position. It’s really hard advice to follow, but really just try to enjoy the experience. You get to meet new colleagues and talk about your research for a few days, while you get wined and dined in a new place! That’s pretty neat! The more you can do to get into a mindset of cheerful relaxation, the better.

      1. Academic Promotion is the 8th circle of Hell*

        For the on-campus.
        Practice your job talk. Over and over and over. Think about accessibility. Don’t rush. Take a moment to describe what is on your slide. Do not bury your head in paper. Think about this audience as your future collaborators. Second what Prof said. Breathe. Ask for breaks. Be confident.
        Someone said to me after the fact. We brought you to campus because we did think you were worthy of the position.
        During meals. Do not talk politics. Do not gossip. Do not speak ill of anyone in your field.
        Have lots of questions for them, some fairly benign like where do you live? What is the neighborhood like?

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      Ohh here’s another tip. In the US, state employee salaries are all publicly available due to open records laws. So if you get an offer from a state school, you can look up the salaries of some of your future colleagues so you have a better sense of what salary to negotiate for.

    4. Hermione*

      +1 for planning to ask for bathroom breaks.

      I used to be an admin for an academic department and would help schedule job talks for interviewing faculty. Some thoughts in no particular order:

      Beyond the obvious normal interview preparations, consider what you’re wearing and when you’re going to see folks from the university. Is someone meeting your flight, or are you going to Lyft/do you have a chance to go to your hotel first (if it’s not a same-day trip)? If the former, you may want to swing into a restroom to change or freshen up before leaving security. Planes are dry – consider packing hand lotion for after the flight for all of those handshakes. It’s also flu season, consider taking a small bottle of hand-sanitizer to apply discretely between meetings if possible.

      It’s a long day, so shoes should be comfortable, or at least broken in. Depending on the university, you might end up walking with the faculty somewhere for lunch or dinner instead of taking a cab/Lyft (I live in an urban area).

      In my experience it can be alternately hot or cold in some offices/conference rooms, so you want an outfit that will look professional even if you want to pull on or take off a layer for comfort. I sweat a lot when I’m nervous, so I’d bring some wet wipes and my deodorant in my bag for a midday reapplication. If you’re wearing makeup, bring any touch ups with you.

      What’s the weather forecast right now where you live vs. where you’re going? Do you have a warm enough coat? Your hair might get messed by a hat in cold weather, so maybe consider ear muffs instead?

      Bring a reusable water bottle. They may forget to hydrate you, and you may not drink as much coffee as a coffee-meeting may imply because you’ll be answering so many questions. You might also bring some crackers or something small to snack on in case you have a long wait between lunch and dinner. The last thing you want is low blood sugar.

      If you’re doing a faculty talk with your own laptop, consider creating a second user on your account or think hard about your desktop background, turning off e-mail, software update, and text desktop notifications, whether you have or need a clicker, and ask the admin/your contact about adapters for your device. If you’re using their laptop, bring a thumb drive and e-mail your presentation to yourself or host it in your dropbox in advance just in case of device failure. If you’re interviewing at multiple universities, hide away the powerpoint files for your other presentations unless you want the entire room to know where else you’re interviewing.

      If you know who you are meeting beforehand, review their academic profiles, perhaps read an article or abstract of theirs if they’re not in the same area as you, and have at least a conversational understanding of what they’re interested in. Consider the department as a whole – what gap in their academic interests would you be fulfilling, and how can you play up your strengths in that area?

      Good luck!

      1. Academic Promotion is the 8th circle of Hell*

        In my experience it can be alternately hot or cold in some offices/conference rooms, so you want an outfit that will look professional even if you want to pull on or take off a layer for comfort. I sweat a lot when I’m nervous, so I’d bring some wet wipes and my deodorant in my bag for a midday reapplication. If you’re wearing makeup, bring any touch ups with you.
        Yes this, I interviewed in August during a heat wave and many “forced marches” across campus.

      2. kt*

        HERMIONE SAYS TRUTH.

        Also, keep three protein bars in your bag so you can snarf ’em in the bathroom if you get super hungry.

    5. Jellyfish*

      A professor advised me to treat it like a professional interview, but also to remember that the committee is evaluating whether they want to work you as a person for potentially the next 20-30 years. Be polished but be friendly too, and it’s okay to relax some during meals and less formal parts. You’re still interviewing, sure, but you’re being evaluated on different things during those times.
      Ask people about their research or their thoughts on some general topic related to your field. It’s a safe question that makes you look friendly during those unstructured parts. If you’re interviewing in a new city, ask what they like to do in the area.

      Regarding the lunch – this is my personal experience. Order like you’re on a date. Don’t get something messy or with giant portions. You certainly want enough calories to keep your energy up, but that’s it. I ordered a larger meal in one interview, couldn’t finish, had no way to take the excess with me, and felt wasteful. Maybe they didn’t judge me at all, but it made me self-conscious when I already had enough to worry about. In another interview, I ordered a salad with chicken, and it was perfect. Enough protein & nutrients to keep me going, but not too much food.

      Stick to your normal levels of caffeine, or slightly more. If you regularly drink coffee or tea in the mornings, have some before the interview. Have some at lunch, have coffee if they offer it to you. Those interviews are draining, even when they’re going well. Anything to help keep your energy up is good. Obviously, this doesn’t apply if you don’t drink caffeine. However, I found people were fine accommodating restroom visits, and I got passed around to different departments enough that no one knew exactly how many times I had to pee. Choose hydration and energy over trying to avoid the restroom.

      Good luck!

      1. Academic Promotion is the 8th circle of Hell*

        yes to all of this.
        For dinner- do not drink alcohol if no one else is ordering. only one glass of wine if they are and you are comfortable with that.
        Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu or anything that is hard to eat.
        Watch the table- if no one orders an appetizer. do the same.
        I like to eat before something simple, something protein.

    6. Hi there*

      The only thing I would add to the comments above is to not worry about repeating yourself if you are meeting new people throughout the day. They didn’t hear what you said to the students or provost earlier, and you don’t need to say “Like I said earlier” even though it is super-tempting.

    7. Nesprin*

      Accept that it’s gonna be a bear- I’m an extrovert but 12 hrs of meeting with people is rough. Bring quicly eatable snacks (I had a ton of chocolate and granola bars, because lunch is always late), take any and all opportunities to use the restroom, and drink tea over coffee (you’ll prob have coffee with everyone who you meet with). Make sure you have a long list of questions: what the student body is like, what they wish the student body was like, research strengths vs. priorities, open challenges, how the dept chair acts, how space is fought over etc. for lulls in conversation. I ended up reading the 3 most recent papers for everyone I was going to meet with so that I could have discussion topics and talk about collaborations.

      1. Nesprin*

        Also, make sure you have 3 versions of your talks- computer+ adaptors, thumb drive and emailable.

    8. higheredrefugee*

      If you have to give a presentation, and they don’t give it to you, ask for at least a 15 (preferably 30, as your scheduled pieces get behind all day, and that way you still get 15) minute bathroom/prep break just before it. Every time, I’ve asked, it has been granted and more than one hiring chair has told me they changed it for everyone else too.

    9. Senor Montoya*

      Everything is an interview, and you don’t know who is important. So even the informal friendly stuff is part of your interview. Breakfast with the students, secretary walking you to your presentation, cocktail party, everything.

      You are not yet a coworker or friend of anyone, no matter how congenial or confiding or kind they seem. Do not let down your hair and say the things you’d say to your actual friends.

      At some point you may be left to hang out in an office to meet with whomever wants to talk to you. (You will also probably be presenting and generally these sessions are open to anyone in the dept or unit.). My diss director said that this is when the madwoman escapes the attic (he liked Bronte!) and they can’t do as thing about it, and to be ready and to learn about the department from it.

      Personally, I found it exhausting, and any time they offer you even 15 minutes as a break, take it and have some quiet time for yourself.

    10. AnonForThis*

      I’m a professor at a small teaching college, not some huge R1 university, so YMMV.

      It’s nearly as exhausting for us as it is for you. The only perk of being on a search committee this time of the year (or any time of the year) is to get free meals. (Sorry.) We really, really, really, really want the people we bring to campus to work out, or else we have to bring more people to campus and spend more time asking cardboard, HR-approved questions. I’ve served on loooooots of search committees, and I’m almost only ever looking for cultural fit. Do you talk to us? Do you joke with us? Can you handle us? Can we joke with you? All this is also recognizing that you’re not relaxed, you’re nervous, and there’s a lot at stake for you.

      But, seriously. The people at my university are looking for goodness of fit on top of qualifications. If you weren’t qualified, they wouldn’t be bringing you to campus. Try to relax and have fun with these Very Human, Very Normal people, while putting your best foot forward. In my experience on many search committees, the hires who did that were the ones we fretted over and bent over backwards to hire – and who ended up being the best, least-regret colleagues. (And the interviewees who were terrible fits and were hired anyone were/are painful colleagues to have. I’m at a small university…it matters…)

      My only advice beyond that is to avoid bringing up potential HR issues. At least where I work, we’re told to shut down any talk of marriage, kids, religion, etc, which is hard when you’re spending three meals and a whole day with a person. Volunteer what you wish, but if everyone goes awkwardly quiet, that could be why. Have a lot of non-EEO conversation topics about your field, scholarship (if applicable), prior work experiences, questions about the place you’re interviewing at, etc.

    11. kt*

      Ask for half an hour of alone time before your talk (if your field is like mine, where you give a job talk).

      If conversation flags, here are good questions: “What are you really interested in lately? What have you been working on?”

      Yeah, that’s all you need, really.. just ask about their current research or reading and you won’t have to talk for the next 11 hours :)

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

    Last Friday I volunteered to give a informal training to our new team members. However, someone got really excited about it and the invite got fowarded to more people than intended. In the end, it turned out to be a formal training for fifteen people and a presentation with thirty slides! I was super nervous, but all went well.

    1. 3DogNight*

      Make a note of this, for your evaluations. Also you can potentially put it on your resume, particularly if you do it more than once. Congratulations! The first one is hard, and they do get better!

  26. Absolutely Anonymous*

    Started my morning by crying and almost having a stress- and exhaustion-induced breakdown in front of the boss. Thankfully it’s a small office and boss wants to support me with what I’m going through.

    So how’s everyone else’s Friday going so far? Hopefully better than mine?

    1. JimmyJab*

      I’m not even going through anything just at the end of a long week. I almost cried before I left the house this morning because I couldn’t find any clean gym clothes. Hope you feel better.

    2. LizP*

      Hugs. So sorry to hear your day started that way, hope it’s getting better and you have a good weekend.

      I was happy to be working from home today, exhausted from a long work week… But the nonsense started so early, major inefficiencies to deal with and follow up on… people sending bond internal emails that I have all who they were sent to… Had a suggestion I submitted to our VP and was reminded that she will likely put that forward without mentioning me at all. Reminded that I couldn’t submit that to my direct manager, her boss, cause she doesn’t value my input or give me oops to give it (blows off or 1on1s and never says sorry). Emails from my manager asking about things that are already done. Even the Wage Tax Refund question line wouldn’t answer a general question I had, person who answered said “my supervisor says we don’t get involved with that”. When I mentioned their contact info is on the site and form for questions, she tells me she’ll let him know. I could punch a wall.

      My husband is on an interview that seems to be going long so I’m excited for him, second one this week, but I have to do something about this horrible job once he is settled somewhere new. I don’t seem to know how not to let this horrible job bother me. Maybe the answer is I’m not supposed to, I need to just move on…

      Thanks for asking. I was going to post a question but then I keep thinking “you just have to leave, you can’t change this place or people”. Wishing you well!

    3. we're basically gods*

      Low-key nervous about the future of my current job– I’m not afraid of losing it, but there’ll be some structural changes in a bit that I fear will result in losing my current, wonderful manager, in favor of a guy who’s got lots of ideas and lots of drive but zero tact or management skills. One way or another, I’m not planning at staying here longer than another 18 months, but… I don’t know that I’ll be happy sticking around even that long if the big boss becomes my direct boss.

    4. SomebodyElse*

      Well… not only am I stress eating and stress shopping this week, I’m now stress shopping for stress eating food!

      So umm… yeah 2 more months until the crazy ends.

    5. Diahann Carroll*

      I spent the morning running in and out of the bathroom until I just gave up and decided I had to take the rest of the day off as sick leave – I have more than enough sick time banked (60 hours), so taking six hours off to just rest for once won’t kill me. I don’t know, I just feel weird taking sick time now that I work from home full time – I told my boss it was due to stomach issues, he was very sympathetic and told me to go and get rest so I can feel better, but I still feel like people may be side-eyeing me for calling out. It’s irrational, I know.

  27. Kitchen Smell???*

    Walked into the office kitchen this morning for a cup of coffee and two staff from another department were cooking bacon and sausage on electric griddles in the kitchen. My coworker actually commented on the smell when we got off the elevator it was so strong. I work with a lot of vegetarians, vegans, and people that don’t eat meat/pork for religious reasons. Is this as bad as microwaving fish or am I over-reacting? I was kind of annoyed but I was already in a bad mood from the commute when I walked in so it could just be me.

    1. SunnySideUp*

      If it’s a one-off thing, I’d let it go.

      I get that you work with vegetarians, vegans, and people that don’t eat meat/pork — but no one is asking them to eat it, so….

      1. LabTechNoMore*

        I’m Muslim, and not at all bothered by cooking smells from bacon/sausage. (Except for momentarily considering whether it’s worth converting because it smells so good! But then I remember that there’s Turkey bacon, so we’re good.)

        More seriously, I respect everyone else’s autonomy to make their own dietary choices, and, if anything, don’t feel comfortable with the notion that others need to avoid eating/making certain foods around me because I don’t eat them, as some kind of commutative dietary imposition. I’m not being Muslim *at* anyone; continue with your breakfast!

    2. ThinMint*

      I don’t think it’s akin to microwaving fish. I don’t know of many people for who microwaved fish is a good smell. This seems to fall into the category of ‘some people really like that smell and others don’t’ (that’s how I feel about coffee).

      1. Marzipan*

        The other thing with fish is, it’s one of the few things where you can be allergic to the smell of it – it can make people genuinely quite unwell.

        1. fposte*

          It’s not so much the smell as the airborne molecules, and it can happen with any food allergen. You’re probably thinking of the fish case from last year, which was awful (and unusual in resulting in a death), but it happens (usually to a milder degree) with others, especially peanuts.

    3. we're basically gods*

      I think it might be weird, but not to the same level as fish. Microwaved fish smells bad to pretty much everyone, regardless of diet– heck, it also smells bad to me when I’ve reheated my own dinner in my own home!
      Meat smell would also be produced by microwaving meat, so I think the non-pork people would still be beset by the smell even just by routine lunches.

    4. noahwynn*

      It would irritate me, but it wouldn’t rise to the level of me saying anything. I’d probably roll my eyes and go to my desk.

    5. CatCat*

      I think creating any kind of powerful food smell that escapes the kitchen is is bad form.

      I would also be annoyed, not because I don’t eat pork, but because I don’t want to smell strong odors in the office.

      1. Gumby*

        But… the smells from the kitchen are how I know breakfast is ready! (On Fridays our office manager makes breakfast for our small office – usually puts out fruit, bagels, pastries, and then generally something extra – like eggs, hash browns, bacon/sausage, lox – she switches it up. But I absolutely do know food is ready when I can smell bacon or whatever.) (Oh, also, it turns out her full on spread is less expensive than the previous solution of having fruit and bagels delivered; since she goes to the store herself to get it, we get a more expansive menu!)

    6. littlelizard*

      Just heating bacon or sausage would not rise to the same level as microwaving fish for me. But cooking them from scratch??? On griddles?? That sounds really distracting and smelly. The vegans and such might have their own objections as well, but my atheist meat-eater opinion is that that’s really too much for the office (unless you have some sort of strong ‘cook things at work! it’s great!’ culture)

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah … maybe it’s an irregular Friday social breakfast thing, in which case whatever. But if someone is routinely bringing in a griddle, I’d be giving them the stink-eye for the mess and time they’re spending. If you need more than a microwave or a toaster oven to make your meals at work, you’re probably going too far.

    7. Mediamaven*

      I think it’s weird that they are doing that at the office but no, just because someone eats a certain way doesn’t mean everyone should change their own methods of eating.

    8. WellRed*

      I think it’s weird to cook (not heat) anything from scratch in the office (did they bring in the griddles?), but otherwise not as bad as fish microwaving.
      I have a vegetarian roommate at home, she like the smell of bacon and sausage.

    9. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      My general rule of thumb: I won’t make/reheat/eat food in the office that will infuse the space with a lingering smell long after I make/reheat/eat it, and I really appreciate it when coworkers are similarly considerate. I’m neither vegetarian nor vegan, but I really really really can’t stand the smell of bacon and would be pretty ticked off that someone was cool with making the office smell like bacon for upwards of a day (which is how long my house smells like it on the rare occasions that my husband cooks it). I’d be a bit embarrassed to host clients in the bacon-atmosphere as well.

      1. Mouch*

        Ditto. The smell of cooking pork, particularly breakfast sausage and bacon, literally triggers my gag reflex. And those smells stick around for a long time. I’d be aggravated.

    10. Mia 52*

      I mean it’s pretty weird but if its a one off then ehhhh. Unless the company decrees no meat in the office then they’re free to eat as much meat as they want. Their diets don’t need to follow others’ personal or religious beliefs. But it quite odd! However to me it sounds fun and I’d try to get them to give me some!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Ha! I too would be trying to get in on that bacon (they can keep their sausage – yuck).

    11. Another Millenial*

      I’m vegetarian and the smell of cooking/cooked meat actually does bother me. A lot. I don’t think that can be said about all vegetarians, though, but it’s a thing.

      But I’m not going to say anything if it’s a one-off thing, and I can’t allow myself to be bothered when people pull out their lunches (because it’s necessary for people to eat). If it’s strong enough to smell from the elevator, though, I don’t think that would be an acceptable habit for ANY type of odor. I’d at least want a warning so I can prepare for the overwhelming smell of burning flesh.

    12. Joie*

      It would annoy me but if it’s a one time thing I’d let it go

      And I love bacon but HATE the smell of it – probably because 90% of people cook it until it’s burnt and crunchy and I can’t stand that smell

    13. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Don’t know where you are or what regulations apply, but in my locale anything electrical that you plug in at the workplace has to be annually (?) safety tested and certified. I presume your co-workers have brought in a personal appliance that hasn’t been safety tested or anything which may be an angle you could pursue with whoever the relevant people are in your company (Facilities or something like that) if you want to get it to stop.

      Personally I don’t mind the smell of bacon etc but it fails the “what would it be like if everyone did this?” test.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This. There’s also an issue with grease buildup if they do it more than the once. Think of the greasy layer that can build up in kitchens–that is going to be a problem cleaning off of office surfaces. Kitchens are made of hard and washable surfaces for a reason.

  28. Marzipan*

    The advert for my maternity cover has been up for a little while now (due to close in a couple of days) and it’s really weirding me out.

    The second thing most people said to me on hearing I was pregnant – after some variant of surprised congratulations – was, essentially, to fall about laughing at the idea of me having to take time off, a thing I am known for being spectacularly bad at. (I have been off sick today with a cold. I spent all morning doing bits of work anyway. My inbox is in a much more satisfactory state!) I’m awful at taking holiday and generally don’t function very well without the framework of work to contain me. I had been doing quite well at starting to disengage, but I seem to have swung back the other way in the last couple of weeks.

    Anyone have any thoughts on how to helpfully approach the situation? I appreciate that once the Marzipan Baby is actually here, it should prove appropriately distracting, but right now I’m finding myself very prone to being over-involved in work stuff.

    1. The Rain In Spain*

      This was me as well just a few months ago. I worked up until I went into labor and had a spreadsheet I was updating each day with my main projects/etc and had everything saved in a shared drive. It was my attempt to exert control and make sure everything went smoothly while I was out.

      I did set up a rule to direct all mail I received during my leave to go into one folder, and I won’t pretend that I didn’t check it a few times a week for the first few weeks. But after that I was too busy with the little one and wanted to spend as much time focused on that, I was surprised how little I cared about work. I kept in touch with my very small team and shared pics/etc but didn’t really engage re work stuff until the week before I was coming back.

      Also, not a major surprise, but some stuff fell through the cracks when I was out. No big deal, I handled when I returned!

      Good luck :)

    2. theletter*

      From what I heard, it takes about ten days of being ‘off’ to really disengage from work. For me, it usually takes about 2 or 3 days to get a sense of a new routine, a state where I’m actually realizing “This ::waves hand around:: is my job now”.

      I think there’s a state of stress about work stuff that kind linger a bit – a gnawing feeling that there’s things you need to tell people, things you have to take care of. But when you’re on Mat leave, that’s someone else’s job, they will take care of it. They’re getting paid to take care of it. If they fail, it’s the company’s problem, not yours.

      You say you function better with a framework, why not start on that framework now? It’s probably not going to be schedule per se but working out your upcoming patterns might help you feeling like you’re preparing for this next chapter and prioritizing it.

      1. Marzipan*

        I think part of what I’m panicking about is that, in normal circumstances, I don’t ever get to that 2-3 days in, ‘hey, I’m off work!’ stage (with maybe the exception of Christmas-to-New-Year, which doesn’t seem to run in real time anyway). I end up oddly non-functional, and emotionally all over the place and generally rather a mess. So I think I’m slightly concerned that I may have lined myself up for a year of that!

        1. knitter*

          For my first child, I worked one day a week in my second month of leave. This was partly a financial decision and partly because I was worried about being unable to step away.
          Even with an “easy” baby like my first was, I was still nursing for hours. I was up at all hours so my thinking ability was significantly reduced. I had planned to read ALL THE BOOKS while I was on leave. Didn’t happen. But I found a routine. We went on a morning walk. I’d go to a weekly mom’s group. I tried to cook during nap time because it brought me joy, made me feel like a human, and I could focus on it despite being exhausted. But ultimately I found and still find that I can’t focus on work when my child (now children) is in the room. So that one day a week ended up being more of a burden that my pre-mom self could imagine.
          Additionally since I literally have little humans who depend on me to survive, the urgency and importance I previously attributed to my work gradually reduced. While I’m still very good at my job, I work smarter and prioritize better. I didn’t have to spend ALL my time working.

          1. LittleBeans*

            This is so helpful! I am going out on maternity leave in a couple of months and I’ve been really worried about how I will balance things when I come back. My approach to work has always been that I have to get the job done well – if that means I stay late or work all weekend, then I do. I was nervous that I might have to leave at 5pm to make it to daycare pickup even though that means leaving a work situation unresolved. But your point about the relative importance of things makes sense – I’m sure once there is a tiny human who depends on me for survival, that urgent email in my inbox is going to feel a lot less urgent…

    3. 867-5309*

      I think (check this with HR) you can actually risk losing FMLA benefits if you’re working during that period.

    4. MeganTea*

      When I took maternity leave, I removed my work email from my phone. I gave people my personal email in case of an emergency — and my office was really good in respecting that! But not seeing email notifications pop up and not being able to easily access work email on my phone helped a LOT.
      But having a newborn baby — babies eat pretty frequently and need a lot of diaper changes, so in the first few months, caring for babies is a pretty full schedule of its own. While there was downtime, it wasn’t often in long stretches.

  29. Where’sthemoneyLucas*

    Question for people in the HR field: what does a typical day look like for you? I recently graduated with a masters in HR because it made sense for my job and it’s a subject I enjoyed learning about, but we didn’t actually learn much about the day-to-day work of an HR professional. I’m unexpectedly moving out of state and away from my current amazing job. I’m wondering if I want to pursue HR positions or stay in my lane. I don’t know what a job like that would look like and, I’ll be honest, change makes my anxiety flare up. My current position is office manager/department of one/doer of all things that need to be done. I’m curious how HR professionals fill their days. I’ve also never worked for a big company before, so that also might be limiting my ability to envision the job. Any insight is appreciated!

    1. agnes*

      depends on whether you want to specialize or be a generalist. I usually encourage new HR people to start out in recruitment. You learn a lot about the organization and you are providing a solution to a department’s need–a new employee–so they are generally motivated to work with you. A lot of people like to work in benefits as well–but for me that was too administrative. I started in “Employment” (hiring and recruitment) and now work primarily in Employee Relations. It’s challenging but I do like it. I also work in Organization Development and that’s fun too.

      So a typical day for me might involve coaching a manager to improve job performance, helping to reorganize a division to better manage work, figuring out what skills gaps we have to take the organization where we want to go (and figuring out how to fill them) handling disciplinary issues, doing an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination, conducting a training class in improving communications, and heading up some projects like revamping our policies, employee handbook, or evaluations.

      it’s a great career. Good luck!

    2. HRArwy*

      I specialize in Employee Relations and specialize even further with workplace investigations (human rights, discrimination, workplace violence etc..) My work comes to me — so People Managers, other managers etc… will contact me if an employee brings up a complaint. I work to investigate the matter.

      I think ER has served as a foundation for a lot of the other roles I have and I do know when someone hasn’t had ER experience. So, I recco that people throw themselves into HR early on as it’ll help you solve a lot of other “things” in other HR spaces.

      1. agnes*

        I’m envious that you can specialize to that extent! We have a small team so we are all generalists. The departments I work with are heavy on ER issues due to the nature of the work.

    3. Detective Right-All-The-Time*

      I agree with Agnes – it really depends on if you end up specialized, or if you end up in a Generalist or Coordinator type role. It also depends on if you work for a smaller company where you would end up being a Generalist regardless and being the Department of 1, Be All End All of HR, or if you end up in a larger company where you’re working on a team.

      I agree that starting out in Recruiting is great, but it can be tough to break out of and then you’re pigeon-holed into nothing but Talent Acquisition.

      I currently work closely with our HR Business Partners, and our lives are very similar to what agnes describes. It can be everything from partnering with managers on simple job changes, to progressive discipline, to working on initiatives to improve processes and programs. I also work heavily with Leave of Absences, so I’m meeting directly with employees regularly, helping with managing our vendor, walking managers through how to manage Intermittent Leaves, completing timesheets, and other random data entry. I think the most successful HR professionals are the ones who are able operate in the grey – we tend to be extremely risk avoidant, but if you are able to operate in those grey areas you’re going to be able to both prevent risk to your organization as well as advocate for the employee. It probably also depends on your organization, but people who are extremely rigid and need a ton of structure just aren’t successful around here.

  30. Masquerade*

    I do a lot of student recruitment in my role, many of which are from out of state. Naturally a lot of people want to know how safe our city is. I guess statistically it is about as safe as any other large city, and common sense (not leaving expensive belongings visible in the car goes a moderate but not foolproof way).

    Some changes in the local laws have made things more dangerous for people living in apartments, like myself and nearly all of our incoming students will. It’s mostly increased property crime but there have been increases of violent crime as well, and I know a number students who have been victims of these violent crimes. Obviously I want to be honest when talking to the students who want to move to our city but don’t want to scare them away. The reality is that our area is experiencing an increasing crime rate though. How can I best explain this to them without fear mongering, as it is a very common question?

    1. fposte*

      Increases don’t in themselves mean anything. Think in medical terms, where if you’re told your risk of antennae cancer has just quadrupled, that still doesn’t mean you’re at high risk for antennae cancer if the initial risk was .001 percent and now it’s .004 percent. I think it’s easy for the increase to mean more to you because it’s novel and your friends have been involved, but I would instead focus on the existing crime level and talk about what it’s on a par with and what precautions people tend to take.

    2. ACDC*

      I don’t think you should be the one to answer this question. I would recommend referring them to a website that tracks this sort of thing (typically a local PD will post crime stats or there are other 3rd party websites do this). That way the person can decide for themselves what is safe and what is unsafe, since everyone’s past experiences will determine what they think is safe or not.

    3. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

      Be up front about the statistics for campus vs. off campus crime rates.

      If most crime on campus and the general nearby area is theft, you can truthfully say that the university is safer than, say, the rest of downtown. If this isn’t true, stress what the university is doing to increase security. Be candid about which neighborhoods outside of that are likely to be safer for students. And make sure you know what services campus security offers, because aside from illegally ticketing parked cars and heading out to pick up people from blue light stops on campus, security may not do much at all, and students are often told to call security *first* when something goes immediately and criminally wrong, and 911 second. (In most cases they should be calling 911, or the non-emergency police line for something like a car broken into, etc.)

    4. Catwoman*

      Former student recruiter here. It’s always a tricky question. I would suggest checking in with the campus visitor center to see what their language is and go from there. Also, focus your answer on what the university is doing to address instances of crime and prevention. Even if crime is going up, parents and students want to be reassured that the university is addressing it or responding in a constructive way. Think of their question more as, what is the university doing to keep my child safe?

      In recruitment, I think it’s important to make sure that your message is in line with the school’s message, but also adding your own context if you feel that’s necessary. It may also help you to do some of your own research so you can suggest specific areas of town for off-campus living.

    5. Joielle*

      I think it’s a problematic question for a lot of reasons, not least because it’s basically impossible to answer, and you should just be vague. “It’s about the same as a lot of other cities this size, some neighborhoods different from others, but here’s the website for our local police department if you want to look at the actual statistics.” MAYBE, at most, say something about campus security, especially if they’ll walk you to your car at night or something like that.

      I think no matter what you say, people will hear whatever confirms their preconceptions of the area, so there’s no use trying to get into detail.

  31. Sick during notice period*

    Soo I’ve always been told that a professional provides two weeks notice and serves out that period, in the office, wrapping things up and doing hand-offs as necessary. To do anything else reflects poorly on you and may affect your reference.

    I gave my notice a few days ago and now I’ve come down with a nasty cold – I’m hacking and sneezing and look like crud. My office doesn’t allow any working from home (one of the reasons I’m leaving!) and I can’t push back the end date, so I’m assuming there’s nothing to do but suck it up. I believe I can physically get through the day with DayQuil and a can-do attitude, but I do feel bad knowing that I’m in the office visibly unwell. I have face-to-face meetings scheduled a lot of work to wrap up before I leave.

    My coworkers will understand that this is one of those exceptions … right?

    1. SophiaB*

      Given you’ve handed your notice in and some of your work will be documentation of your workload, would your boss allow you to do some of that from home? It will get you over your cold faster (and reduce the potential for spreading it around the office).

      Failing that, a day or two of sick leave might get you over the cold for real – is that a possibility?

      Hope you start feeling better soon regardless – colds are always so miserable to live through

    2. Turtlewings*

      Getting sick is one of those things that just happens sometimes, and seldom conveniently. In your place I wouldn’t feel badly at all about taking a day or two of sick leave. It’s just life.

    3. Bex*

      Can you call your boss and ask for an exception from the “no work from home” policy? I would probably say something like “I have a really nasty cold, but since it’s my transition period, I’d be happy to work form home instead of taking sick time.”

      Honestly, if I was your coworker and you came in sick and contagious, I would be super pissed off.

    4. Mrs Peaches*

      Yes, your coworkers will understand. They’ve seen that you’re actually sick and they probably don’t want you there as much as you don’t want to be there. Could you take a sick day (or two), but still try to accomplish some work from home? Work on your documentation, respond to emails, have meetings by phone, etc.

      1. Sick during notice period**

        Sadly, I just don’t think it’s an option – me pushing for working from home, and being denied, was a factor in my leaving, and they know that … so the optics of my now trying to work from home during the my leave period is just not great. I don’t even feel that I can ask. I’d probably have more luck asking to just take a sick day without delaying my last day.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      I to take a sick day during my notice period. I technically still had the time and it was best for everyone I stayed home. While I was technically allowed to work from home, as ill as I was, I did not and just took a sick day.

    6. Workerbee*

      I look at this way: You already gave your notice. They (presumably) still want you to work out that notice, hand things off, wrap things up.

      What would happen if you stated, not asked, something like: “I’ve come down with a horrible cold and am definitely contagious. I will be working from home and plan to be back in the office on X date. You can reach me by email/cell/Skype/etc.” ?

      (I have a bit of “What are they going to do, fire you?” attitude about places like this where one’s given notice, but if they refuse to pay you for at-home work time, then just take the sick leave if it exists. You’ve earned it, after all!)

    7. LabTechNoMore*

      When I’ve had that happen, I took a sick day when I needed to, and extended my two weeks’ by the number of days I was out sick. HR might decline the offer because it’s more work for them, but I made it clear that I was doing it as a courtesy to your boss/team. (I always would put a week or two buffer between jobs so that it was feasible for me, but obviously if you’re starting the new role Monday that’s not doable.)

  32. SophiaB*

    Hi AMA Commentariat, I have a life experience question I’m hoping for some help with:

    I’m in my late 20s and for the past decade I’ve been able to move up really quickly in my career(s). Mostly this is due to me taking on work outside my sphere and using it as a handhold to move diagonally upwards. My work gets more exciting, I get more responsibility quickly, everything is good. I’ve also put a lot of hours in – to the detriment of my personal life – in order to get to where I am. So I’m confident that I’ve earnt my current place in the world.

    But I seem to have hit a ceiling. I’m very good at my current job. I’m very technically proficient. I’m well-liked and well-thought of. And all the feedback everyone has for me is ‘you just need to live for another decade or so, and then you’ll be where you want to be’. Nothing in particular is ‘wrong’, I just am very young for the role.

    For context, my peers in this role are all a decade (or more) older than me. And the more senior of them are … even more than that.

    Is this just… something that happens? Do we all hit a point where we can’t keep climbing through sheer tenacity and just have to rack up the experience 60 minutes to the hour? Any tips for surviving this?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. ThatGirl*

      You sound very motivated and driven, and that’s great. But yes, sometimes you just have to do the work, pass the time, and build experience little by little. Keep taking on projects that interest and push you, but keep doing your every day work well, hone your skills, and build relationships.

      1. Fibchopkin*

        Seconding this. I know it can be frustrating! You’re good, and you want to keep moving up, and that’s great and admirable, but sometimes, you really DO need experience to function well in a senior position at an established organization. You should still be getting more complex projects and salary raises though, it’s just there comes a point where you maintain the same job title for 5 years or so while you garner experience and take on progressively more challenging assignments.

      2. SophiaB*

        Thanks ThatGirl,

        It’s a good point about not letting standards slip because I’m frustrated. And also on the building relationships front – most people around me have a wealth of business contacts built up over the years, but I think I was missing that that all had to start somewhere.

        Thank you :)

        1. ThatGirl*

          And don’t neglect your personal life! You’re in a place where you don’t need to be quite so driven at the moment — you’re doing your job well and it will take time to build relationships and experience. If you’re the kind of person who needs a hobby, maybe it’s time to focus a little more on your personal growth.

    2. Nonprofit Nancy*

      I’m trying to judge if this is the feedback you’re receiving about promotion in your current organization, or if it’s coming from external interviews. It’s totally possible to hit a ceiling at your own org where nobody can quite picture you as the Senior So-and-So yet, but a different org – perhaps a smaller or newer one – would be happy to take the chance on a younger-than-average Senior So-and-So, and it behooves you to take that role and gain that experience for your resume versus putting in another five or ten years at your current org. FWIW.

      But if you’re hearing it in interviews, maybe it means it’s time to go wider/deeper on a subject instead of going up in authority.

      1. SophiaB*

        Thanks Nancy.

        It is all internal at the moment. In fact, I sat down with my Grand Boss recently (it was appropriate – he’s not finalised the structure for this year, and I own technical development training) and he told me that the role above me will go to someone with ‘at least 10 years experience in X’ because he wants to build the team around a more experienced resource.

        That broke me – our company hasn’t even been around for 10 years yet!

        I think you’ve nailed my quandry though – do I sit tight and wait it out, or go and climb some other ladders elsewhere – especially since I’d be going in fresh and no-one would be remembering the more junior version of me. I guess I have to think about that some more.

        Thank you.

        1. irene adler*

          My opinion: time to climb the ladders at other companies-if you are interested in getting to the next level.

          If they don’t see you in the role above you, then they never will – even if you spend the next 10 years working there. There will always be some excuse, some intangible ‘thing’ you don’t possess. But they can’t put a name to this ‘thing’ you lack.

          Can Grand Boss articulate what it is about acquiring 10 years experience in X that differentiates you from the role above you? Doesn’t sound like it from what you wrote. So, time to go elsewhere.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            That’s where I’m at. I left an industry and a career I really enjoyed in insurance because I too hit that ceiling at my old company. I thought I was going to retire from that place – nope. I kept being jerked around and passed over for promotion (that everyone agreed I deserved), and after two promotions over four years there, it made me wonder if that was it. Then I did some self reflection and realized I wanted to be doing something else entirely altogether, preferably as a writer and editor, and I am now doing that full time somewhere else with a much higher title than the one I had two years ago making way more money.

            Go climb somewhere else if you really believe that’s what’s best for you and your career.

          2. Mouch*

            Eh, that’s not always true. I started out as literal-bottom-rung ladder in a staff classification and climbed up to director-level administrator-classification in a few years (I was 30, so barely older than OP), and no one saw me as the latter when I started out. After I got that big promotion, I thought my coworkers would never support me, but they have. If OP has a boss or grandboss who recognizes potential and isn’t set in “Teapot Clerk can’t be a Teapot Designer!” thinking, and if OP does good work while building expert and referent power, doors could open.

            I’m now treading water and not going up anywhere fast. I’m building experience and reputation in my role. Do I wish sometimes I was somewhere with coworkers who don’t know I started out as bottom-rung staff position? Yep. Does that impact my work or career trajectory? I don’t think so. But staying put is okay for a few years. I’ve learned that having that experience, rather than going 100mph as soon as possible, can be beneficial. If I ever decide to leave my company, I’ll 100% be in a better negotiating position than if I got my director job, stayed for a year, and then tried to climb higher somewhere else.

            1. Mouch*

              And I’ll add, in general… Having been at an organization long enough to have a solid base of organizational knowledge and history, and working to become a recognizable part of the organizational culture, can be near-irreplaceable and highly valuable. Putting in 3-5 years in a role, learning the ups and downs, and truly taking the time to experience the job, rounds an employee out. I WISH I could say “yeah, I had Experience A for 5 years and Experience B for 5 years, before moving into this director position”; instead, I hedge and say, “yeah, I had Experience A for a little bit; moving on….” But my organizational knowledge? My worth to the organizational culture, where people know me and my work? That gets me places, even if I’m not Associate Vice President yet.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      Once you get to a level where you need to manage others, then the company needs to make a bigger investment and it’s a more serious consideration. So there is a wall between associate and manager and there isn’t anything you can do except put in time showing how responsible and professional you are. If you have all the managerial talents, it can still take years for your superiors to see those skills in action.

      1. Joielle*

        This is a great point. For management levels, sometimes you need a person with a long (like, years-long) track record of good judgment. You need to be exposed to a lot of different situations and people and problems and handle them all gracefully. Could you do all of that now? Probably – it sounds like you’re smart and a great employee! But it’ll be easier to move up once you can actually point to that kind of experience.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          Management of people or processes. In my org all the talent in the world still doesn’t give you the perspective that many years of experiencing the ups and downs of the industry provides so that you can make quality decisions that are balanced by all of the might be’s.

      2. NW Mossy*

        Along the same line, the timeframes for management work are often MUCH longer than they are for individual-contributor work. Strategy work is typically done looking out 3-5 years, and you won’t start to rack up significant accomplishments at that until you’ve been through a cycle or two.

        Someone recently shared with me the concept of “go slow to go fast,” and I think it applies here. As you climb higher, there’s a real risk of your ambition outpacing your practical experience. Deliberately spending a bit more time at the previous level means that you’ve got a clearer picture of what the next level entails and your ramp-up time correspondingly shorter.

        True story from my own experience: A little over a year ago, two director positions opened up in my business line. After much consideration and discussion with my boss, I decided not to apply for either – they just weren’t quite the right match for me in several ways, and I just felt like I needed a bit more seasoning at the manager level. I ended up taking a lateral move to manage a different team instead, and I’ve learned a lot in this role that will help me long-term.

        Now, a new round of leadership changes is happening, which is creating the opportunity for me to apply to replace my boss. It’s much more suited to my strengths than the other roles would have been, and I’m a lot more likely to get it as a result. Sometimes, managing your career is as much about knowing when to exercise patience than anything else.

        1. SophiaB*

          NW Mossy, thank you! This bit: “Strategy work is typically done looking out 3-5 years, and you won’t start to rack up significant accomplishments at that until you’ve been through a cycle or two.”

          My boss tried to explain this bit, but not with those words. It’s the equivalent of… ‘you can stop the fire, but you’ve not run the clean-up operation yet’. And I didn’t get it at the time, but I see what you mean now. It’s one thing to live in the moment and be a rock star; it’s another thing to patiently keep rebuilding in order to prevent the next escalation. Something to think on.

          Thank you, also, for giving me a perspective on not being ready for Directorship yet. I’m not ready to manage people (in this environment). But maybe a lateral move is the right thing.

          Thank you.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            It’s also common for promotions to come more slowly as you get more senior – there are a lot more junior positions than senior, and as the work gets more complex, it can make sense to stay in a role for a longer time before moving on. So you can be doing everything right, and still have the promotion schedule slow down.

            What I would suggest is to look at the resumes of people in the kind of job you want to give you an idea of how to prepare for it. A lateral move can be a good idea – for a manager position, you often want people with varied experience, rather than at a single company.

        2. Emilitron*

          I’m at a point where I’ve done a really successful project over a couple of years, and I feel really great about that. My boss is starting to talk to me about the path upward. But to be a manager of many projects at once, one of the skills that’s really necessary is to have seen several projects fail in several different ways, and to have an internal reference of what risks are good risks, vs how many small risks add up to an overall terrible plan, basically to have personal experience not just of rock-star success but also of the struggle and how to prevent disasters. Part of my growth plan is to be involved in more near-disasters.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      With the caveat that government may be different from industry, where I sit this is very common. There are more available positions and opportunities at the lower levels, and high performers can get recognized and promoted very quickly. But then suddenly their progress is halted, because there are fewer positions as you near the top of the pyramid and they don’t open up as frequently. As people are working longer, not retiring at 62 as used to be common, this exacerbates the problem.

      I often counsel employees who find themselves in your situation to focus on broadening experience – taking lateral transfers to acquire new skills, expanding professional networks – so that when the position on the next rung of the ladder opens up they will be competitive. As you noted, there are usually others with similar abilities but more years of experience who will be vying for the same position, so you will need to find a way to stand out – wider experience and networks can help.

    5. RecoveringSWO*

      Now, or once you feel like you can handle your workload without regular extra hours, would probably be an ideal time to look into any educational goals that may help you in the longterm.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Start looking externally. I fear you may still be seen as “the too young one” in your current company a few years in the future. If you want to “keep climbing” and have the ability and aptitude to take on more senior roles then go for it elsewhere! A place where stagnating for a fixed amount of time eventually leads to becoming more senior – doesn’t sound like somewhere a person like you would thrive long term, to be honest.

  33. fromscratch*

    I am transitioning into a new role at work. So is another coworker. Our replacements were hired and have started. However, we still haven’t seen job descriptions or offer letters for our new roles.
    We were just told one day that they’d hired our replacements and once they were trained we could move into our new jobs full time.
    Is this weird?
    I feel like we should have been formally presented with what our new jobs will entail not just from a task perspective but also salary-wise.
    And now I don’t know how to go about addressing this.

    1. Forsyth County*

      Can you just ask for a sit down with your current (or new manager if you have one) to go over your duties. “I’m excited about my new role and I want to make sure we are on the same page about duties and responsibilities and compensation.”

      1. irene adler*

        “And the time line for when to start the new position.” That needs to be defined.
        Certainly some planning needs to be done. Hence a time line is needed here. Need to know how much time to prep for new position. Also, need to know time frame for training the newbies.

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      Wait, I just need to get the details here: Are you saying that the day they hired your replacements was the first you heard about being moved into a new position? If that’s the case, then that is extremely weird in my experience. That should have been presented to you as a choice, not a fait accompli.

      However you’re now in the situation you’re in. I would absolutely go to your manager and simply ask for clarification of the new duties and salary. I frankly don’t see any other option. And–depending on your level, experience, etc.–I would not assume that whatever you’re told is set in stone. They should have brought this to you before the transition. At that time you would typically have had an opportunity to negotiate salary and duties. That you now have to do that after the transition has already begun is awkward but not your fault.

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          That’s my concern too. Hire replacements, have the old workers train the replacements, claim “delays” with the new roles and just not schedule them to return.

          1. fromscratch*

            this is absolutely my concern. although we’re now both doing our new roles and old jobs – and have been given a heap of new projects.
            But I wasn’t aware the new role was actually going to happen until the day they came in and said “hey! we hired your replacements!”

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Oh wow – this doesn’t look good, I’m afraid. Definitely have a sit down with your manager ASAP to find out exactly what’s going on.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Agreed – I suggest you start looking elsewhere.

          The “new jobs” sound like an obvious false premise to move established people out of the company ultimately, in favour of junior replacements. Don’t you (thread starter) think it’s strange that you and co-worker were both transitioned into new roles, company has recruited replacements who you have to train and handover to, and you’ve had no detail of what your new roles actually are? It sounds pretty blatant (from an external view point just based on what you’ve written here) sorry to say.

          I infer that you (and co-worker) were just told out of the blue one day that “congratulations! You and Sarah will be moving to be XYZ Role Specialists and we have already got new people ready to take on your old roles so you just need to handover this stuff and then you’ll be ready to go on to new and greater things!”

          I also infer (just based on intuition really) that there was no salary increase involved in this ‘new role’ stuff so presumably it hasn’t been presented as a promotion.

  34. Burnt out from helping others*

    I am wondering if anyone has successfully made a transition out of social services into another field of work? I have been in the field for 10 years and am feeling the burnout. Combined with a lack of appreciation internally, no assistance in the rare circumstances it is requested/warranted and the overall negatives that come with working for a state agency… I am fed up! I know many of my skills are transferable but am feeling overwhelmed with where to start!!

    1. Michelle*

      I transitioned from social services to a HeadStart program. I worked there for 2 years, moved to the museum field, worked in 1 position for 6 years, applied for an internal position and now I’ve been the administrative assistant to the executive director for the last 12 years.

      I like helping others and keeping things moving and this position allows me to do both. I am compensated a little above what the market rate is, the benefits are pretty good and I actually like my work. Like any job, there are challenges and challenging people, but overall it was a good move for me.

      1. burnt out from helping others*

        Thank you! I am just starting to think about the process and it is a bit overwhelming. Its nice to hear that others having successfully done it!

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m replying to bookmark. I’ve only been in social services 6 months but it isn’t my forever career

    3. NotMyRealName*

      My sister transitioned from working at a non-profit for housing issues to working to help patients get appropriate health resources through their insurance.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      I went from child protection (BA in sociology) to case manager at a low income prenatal clinic, which felt like working to prevent the stuff I dealt with in my prior role, to nursing school (BSN) to all kinds of fun things. Good luck!

    5. Former DV Advocate*

      It is possibly to transition out; however, how easy it will be depends on your experience. Do you have a Masters in social work or just a BA? I think it also depends on the type of social work field. Someone like me who was a DV advocate with a BA has different options than someone who had a years of experience working with child protection services. Are you willing to work in an adjacent field? I applied to and was a final candidate for positions such as a trainer for the main DV organization that provide the training credit hrs for DV advocates. I also applied to my state agency that provides the funding to the DV shelters in my state. However, I decided to go to medical school and made made some huge adjustments but it all depends on what you are looking for. I used my case management Experience to apply to jobs such as admin, real estate and laws offices. What helped was that I made a list of things I liked doing vs what I didn’t and looked for jobs that aligned with that. It helped because I was able to explain during interviews why I was interested and leverage my experience. I got good feedback but I was willing to apply to anything that sounded interesting to me.

  35. Anon for this work episode*

    February 7th is National Wear Red to support American Heart Month and to help increase awareness about heart disease. My company just sent out an email to all employees to encourage everyone to wear red and try to set up a heart healthy activity to increase awareness.

    A few years ago I had a heart attack and had emergency surgery, then a second heart surgery. This past year I had three scheduled (non-heart) surgeries, and the surgery in December had serious complications that resulted in another emergency surgery and nearly a week in the ICU.
    I just returned to work and this National Wear Red day is giving me incredible anxiety. I don’t want to think about heart disease, and I really want to forget about my very painful recent surgery and hospital stay. With everyone wearing red and having activities, it’s going to be extremely stressful and I’m hoping I don’t either break down or have an anxiety attack.

    My past supervisor would have let me work from home – perfect solution. However, my newer supervisor is a “butts must be in seats at all times”. I have put him on a medical information diet; my physical therapy after one surgery went very slowly, delaying my physical return to work (although I worked from home full time). He spoke to HR, and they went to my medical provider and required my physical therapist to provide an update after every session (i.e. can this person return to the office now?). This was done secretly, my PT told me about it.

    While I know everyone is going to say “Leave, toxic boss”, I’m within a couple years of retirement and pension, can’t leave and don’t have a reasonable option to internally transfer (my skill set is extremely specialized).

    Do I go to my grandboss, who was indirectly involved in the secret HR activity, or to my great grandboss (jumping over both their heads), or just take a sick day (which may not a good look after the recent surgery, time off and work from home).

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      ” This was done secretly, my PT told me about it.”

      Someone from the healthcare sector will know more about this than I do, but this sounds like a HIPAA violation if you are in the US. You should report this to the relevant government agencies.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        It’s a HIPAA violation if the PT complied, I’m pretty sure. If the PT told them to step off, it’s not technically illegal for someone outside of healthcare to make illegal requests.

      2. CL Cox*

        It sounds like OP was on FMLA and the usual way doctors do their out of work letters is to say that the employee will be out until x date, which is when the employee is due back into the doctor’s office to see how they’re progressing. So FMLA is approved until that date. The doctor then needs to send another report on that date to say whether or not the employee may return to work and, if not, when the next evaluation is. If the doctor in OP’s case handed over the evaluation to the PT (saying, for instance, that the employee could return when PT determined they were able to), then the PT needs to submit a report as well. If the PT didn’t word their report correctly or wouldn’t commit to a return to work date, then the PT has to submit a report after every single visit to say whether or not the employee can return. In the OP’s case, it sounds like the company wasn’t getting the reports in a timely manner and had to request them instead. The PT company should be used to FMLA reports, so it sounds like maybe this PT was new and maybe hadn’t dealt with FMLA before and didn’t realize that a report after every visit is standard.

      1. CL Cox*

        They don’t need access to medical records for the company to ask if an employee is able to return to work.

    2. Quill, CCO & Bee Queen*

      My advice is sick day.

      All your work needs to know is “had surgery, returned,” and all they need to know about the sick day is “sick. May or may not be related to recent surgery.”

      Going through the medical hoops is only going to increase your anxiety, and your concerns about everyone nosing into your medical business should go to HR (your boss and grandboss tried to get your physical therapist to violate HIPAA, this is a thing that can make the company liable, you can adjust your script to “I know they were doing it out of concern but this is a huge liability” if you think you need to smooth things further over.)

    3. Holy Moley*

      Do you have any sick leave/annual leave you can take that day? I would do that before going to grandboss since your boss in unlikely to let you telework.

      1. Massive Dynamic*

        +1 – sounds like a great day for a mental health break to me. Don’t tell boss ahead of time; just call in sick and if your boss pushes, tell them you ate something bad.

    4. edj3*

      I was dx’d with breast cancer last spring and felt the same way about Pinkober.

      You have my sympathy for sure.

      1. Anon for this work episode*

        Thank you. It’s great that some survivors can celebrate and participate in these awareness events, but some of us are still too raw to be around them. I hope your treatment goes well, and (from my own experience) make good friends with the nurses, they can be amazing carers and actively participate in your treatment and understanding of what’s happening. Best of luck and my fingers are crooked for you!

    5. Anon for this work episode*

      Thanks everyone. I was on FMLA, and my doctor would provide a monthly update, which documented the next date he would reassess me for work. PT was once or twice a week. My supervisor went to HR because (I assume) he wasn’t happy with monthly updates and wanted constant weekly updates. When my PT told me about this, she also said that all her email and phone calls to my HR would simply state that PT continued to go well and that any work fitness decision had to come from the doctor, so she had my back. I also heard (informally, verbally) from a friend in HR that my supervisors request was “really odd, and they’d not received that kind of a request before”.

      I’ve been trying to figure out if I should go to great grand boss with a request to telecommute ( we’ve had a great relationship), but am concerned that it’d create a s*itstorm, or just take a sick day right after returning from FMLA. Kinda feel like there’s no great answer here.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I don’t know enough to comment about the PT and medical record updates, although it sounds like a shitty situation.

      Is it possible for you to take a day of PTO on the “red day” and avoid it that way?

    7. KMK*

      Sounds like a great day to have a migraine. Your mental health is important. Don’t go in. Sleep late, check your email from home if you feel like it.

    8. Emilitron*

      If you don’t want to take a sick day, I’m brainstorming other alternatives… Are there any satellite offices you could visit? projects you could schedule a multi-hour meeting for? Friend whose desk is far away from the action who you can go collaborate with that day (aka hang out in their office doing work-from-home stuff but claiming to be in a meeting) Option to set up a filter on your email that dumps all emails with the word “heart” to a low-priority quarantine folder?

  36. Manders*

    For about a month, I’ve been dealing with a situation where something I was doing for work used to be considered great, but now a system has changed and there are very bad effects not just from my recent work but all 2.5 years of it. My whole job is now about undoing everything I did. This isn’t unheard of in my field but it’s a huge deal and the consequences are very serious.

    I’m having trouble staying positive at work. I’m also getting paranoid about being fired or other people getting laid off because of me, and it’s hard to stay focused on powering through a mountain of work when I’m trying to hide the fact that I’m having regular panic attacks in an open office. This also hit right on the first anniversary of my mom’s death, so I’m in a pretty emotionally rough state already, but I can’t take any time off to get my shit together because this work has to be done fast.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for… hanging on by your fingernails? Keeping it together on the outside? Not constantly being paranoid that every meeting is going to end with a pink slip? Losing my job would not be the end of the world, I’m prepared for a soft landing, but doing this work and not knowing if I’ll be let go at any time is really demoralizing.

    1. agnes*

      I hope you can remind yourself that the work you did for 2.5 years was work that management wanted and needed at that time. . The fact that maybe now they recognize that this path wasn’t the right one is not your fault. Things change. Management sometimes makes strategic decisions that in retrospect, aren’t good ones. That’s on them to own, not those who simply executed the strategy. Your knowledge of the work is why you are the perfect person to undo the work.

      1. lasslisa*

        This! You are not the reason that work was done or done wrong! Even if you, say, misread a “must not” as a “must” in a training document, there should still have been some sort of oversight… and it sounds like this is a much newer change. If you were busy building up the company inventory of blue teapots, and now that color of blue paint is classified as a controlled substance, that’s a lot of work to do now to undo your last two years of work but it’s not you who screwed up – it’s whoever was in charge of anticipating changes in the regulatory environment.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      Captain Awkward has a great post on working while depressed, and much of it could be used here. Search “captain awkward #450” to find it.

      Also, can you talk to your manager, a serious sit-down, where you ask about whether your job is in danger? Loop her in as much as makes sense in the situation.

      Good luck!

    3. LizB*

      What is your manager’s take on this situation? Does she understand that you were using best practices for 2.5 years, and it’s not your fault that the practices did a complete 180? Is she offering any support in remedying the situation (temps or coworkers to help, reassurance that this just sucks)? If you told her you were worried about getting fired or being the cause of lay-offs, would she be able to reassure you? Surely if you were the one doing this work for 2.5 years – again, following the best practice at the time, you’re the best possible person to undo it because you know exactly how it was done, and it would make absolutely no sense to fire you. Frankly, even once the un-doing is finished, if they fired you for previously doing your job to a high standard, that’s ridiculous. The standards changed out from under you. That is not about you or anything you did wrong.

      Other than that… be really really kind to yourself at all possible opportunities. Wear your favorite clothes. Watch your comfort TV shows in the evenings. Get a meal kit delivery service for a little while (they often have good introductory deals for the first few weeks) to ease the mental load of that. If you have a partner or housemate, make sure they know what’s up, and see if they can shoulder a little more of the at-home work for a bit. Get a massage, a mani-pedi, a spa treatment. If you have an exercise routine, keep up with it as long as it’s feeling good, or ease up a bit (but don’t ditch it entirely) if it’s too much. You are in crisis mode at work and in your emotions, so make all other areas of your life as easy and comfortable as possible.

    4. AnonAcademic*

      It would be really strange for you to be penalized for a procedural change like that. Did the issue arise from a miscommunication or is it something like, a new set of regulations that mean you have to re-do a bunch of processes? If it’s the latter, it sounds like you might be overly invested in your job – you presumably work for a larger org, have a manager, etc. who are also responsible. If this was a fireable offense (or fireable if not corrected within a certain timeframe) they should have raised that with you. If it were me personally I would feel much better just asking “Is my position in jeopardy due to this situation?” rather than having anxiety over it.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Make a plan for worst case scenario. Figure out what you will do if you get shown the door.

      Probably not the answer you want to hear but I found that this is a good way to deal with fear/worry. You say you would have a soft landing. So I am thinking money is not a big concern? Perhaps what you need to do is figure out ,what you are going to do with yourself for the rest of the day if you are pushed out the door at 11 am. Some folks are more concerned about the moment and less concerned about the long run. Try to nail down what exactly concerns you and figure out a plan for that.

      Next, I think you already know this, but it bears repeating. These employers that make a person feel like they could lose their job at any moment are really crappy employers. Every employee is of value, every employee is an asset. The shame is on THEM for how you are being treated.
      You could just decide you are done playing their game and give your notice. You could decide that you could work for a company that values you and the people there are HAPPY you showed up for work today. You may decide that waiting for the other shoe to fall is just too much unnecessary drama in your life.
      It’s hard leaving under any circumstances. Picture yourself several months out do you think you’d eventually be proud of yourself for extracting yourself from this torture?

    6. Manders*

      Unfortunately, I was laid off today–so it wasn’t actually paranoia, I was reading the writing on the wall correctly. I’m peeved at my (now former) boss for telling me repeatedly that my job wasn’t in danger, but I’m lucky that I did read the situation correctly and made some plans for a possible layoff in spite of his promises.

      It’s reassuring to hear that it’s not my fault I was doing the work I was told to do. It’s a bit hard to explain the niche of marketing I was in, but basically, my work was completely dependant on a different company’s choices. For the last couple years, my work was excellent by this company’s standards. When that company decided to change something, it put me (and probably hundreds of people like me at other startups) out of work very fast. I’m going to take some time off to regroup and look at other areas to move into. I do think I’m very good at marketing, but I’m reaching the age where it’ll be difficult to weather this kind of rapid up and down cycle if I want a mortgage, kids, etc. If I work for a small company again, it’ll be one I start myself.

      1. Stephen!*

        I am so sorry you had to go through that, but am glad you were making contingency plans. I hope you find a new, better job quickly.

  37. merp*

    Y’all, I am burning out on my complicated situation of at-home-vet-care tasks for my recovering cat, and it won’t resolve for another month. As much as I wish it didn’t affect my work, it absolutely does. I am exhausted from not sleeping much (morning meds at 5:30!) and have a headache constantly from stress and I don’t have the energy to do anything but the minimum. No advice needed really, there’s nothing really I can change, but encouragement or commiseration welcome.

    1. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      I understand. I also have a sick cat who need to go to the vet today for follow-up after multiple surgeries. He’s off some of his post-surgery meds, and that does help. But I know the feeling of worry and stress and lack of sleep.

    2. blink14*

      I feel you! My senior cat was hospitalized in 2018 for 4 days, and then was on oral, liquid antibiotics twice a day for 6 months. In those 6 months, there was exactly one night I left her in the care of one of my parents, and otherwise her care was entirely on me. Hand feeding for the first few weeks, multiple follow ups and ultrasounds, preparing the medication, etc. It’s exhausting! Such relief, for both of us, when we could stop the oral meds and fortunately she’s still doing well today.

      Hang in there! Cut out anything unnecessary or adjust your evening routine to accommodate for some more time and rest. I have my own chronic health issues, leading to constant fatigue, and during those 6 months I allowed myself take out meals more than usual, had groceries delivered, cut corners on house chores as much as I could, etc.

    3. cat socks*

      I totally understand! I’ve been in a similar situation with my cat and it can be tough. Wishing your kitty a speedy recovery.

    4. Damn it, Hardison!*

      So much sympathy for you. For about 6 months I had to get up between 12 and 1am every day to give my senior cat medication, so I’ve been there. Hopefully kitty is on the mend.

      1. merp*

        6 months! It’ll end up being 3 months for me and I can’t imagine going longer. But also I never imagined going as long as I have, so I suppose we do what we must. She’s been pretty stable for a couple weeks now, so it’s just me trying to keep up and sleep enough and not miss too much work.

    5. bdg*

      I think I am probably in the minority here, so I hope I don’t get beat up, but my cat has diabetes (requires insulin injections 2x/day, 12 hrs apart) and was on antibiotics for some infections (daily liquid medication) and it’s just… exhausting.

      I finally told myself that he’s a cat, not a human. I’ll do my best, but if his insulin is 15 hours apart or he misses a dose of antibiotic bc I just don’t have time to force it down him… well, that’s ok. He’s in his younger advanced years (older middle-aged, I guess) but he wouldn’t have lived this long as the feral kitten he was. I love him, but he’s not a child.

      Anyways, I feel you. I’m very lucky that I recently got a raise or else paying for his care when I’m out of town on weekends would be ruining my budget. I desperately hope his diabetes will go away and just be managed by diet bc I cannot imagine doing this for the next 5-7 years of my life!

      1. Workerbee*

        Agreed. I love my pets and to me they are “people,” yet there’s also quality of life to consider–on both sides. With all due caveats for life-threatening, emergency things–if the pet’s happy to take a small break from antibiotics/invasive procedures and you’re happy to take a small break from having to give it (the relief at not having to see their misery while you’re telling them this is necessary is not to be discounted), I consider that caring for the whole self, you know? I’ve been through enough long bouts of pet diseases that alleviating their dread even for just one round is still caring and providing care.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      I spent the last year of my late dog’s life getting up at 3:45 to give her that pill that had to be taken on an empty stomach an hour before eating, letting her out (leaving her out in good weather), going back to bed, getting back up at 5:00, letting her back in, feeding her, giving her that other pill that had to be taken on a full stomach, and that third pill that I was told tasted like beef, and then going off to work (she would be in the care of my parents during the day, but my dad left for work just after I did and Mom wasn’t up yet). It took me almost a year after she died to get over that schedule.

    7. Lyudie*

      Oh I remember you posting a while back! Unfortunately we are in a very similar situation…our 15 year old cat was just diagnosed with lymphoma. We have him on prednisone and antibiotics to keep him comfortable (at his age and with advancing kidney disease, he isn’t a good candidate for treatment). He has been doing mostly ok, especially the last couple of days. Even though we kind of suspected it before we got the confirmation, it hit hard and thank goodness my manager is an animal person…I went home and took PTO that day. I knew I would not be able to focus at work. It’s so hard, even on days like today when he seems to have completely missed the memo that he is sick.

      *hugs*

        1. Lyudie*

          <3 We are going to keep him as happy as we can for as long as we can. We have pain meds if we need them (they knocked him out/made him loopy and it's hard to judge at the moment if he's in pain and how much, so we're holding off). He's getting ultra delicious food instead of his prescription kidney food (with the vet's blessing, she said it's unlikely the kidney disease will progress faster than the cancer) and he's eating good, drinking, running around and generally being his usual jerk self.

          Thinking good thoughts for you and your kitty too.

    8. Jules the 3rd*

      I feel ya – my boy is not well. I’ve had to change my evening routine drastically to get up early for him, and had to hand off some normal evening chores (aka ‘nudging the kid’s bed time routine and walking the dog) so that I can go to bed earlier.

    9. Goldfinch*

      I’m so sorry. I am also doing 5:30 am meds, for a cat who needs thyroid pills twice a day for the rest of forever…in my case, the timing is because I need to leave the house by 6:00, but it’s still so inconvenient. I have to get ready, then bundle up in my bathrobe, since she fights me like mad and claws/drools/sheds. All attempts to trick her into taking them via treat have failed, so brute force it is.

      Honestly, some days she just refuses to swallow, and I just let her spit out the soggy tablet and go on with my day. I’m doing the best I can, but perfect diligence is just not possible with an animal that doesn’t understand.

      1. merp*

        Weird blessing for me is that these health issues have necessitated a stomach tube, so at least meds are easy – mix them in her food and she takes feedings just fine. But that’s also part of the problem of course, I have to feed her about 4 times a day, which is hard to fit around an 8 hour day at work.

        But you’re completely right – there’s no way to explain it to them, so we just have to do our best and do what they will let us do.

      2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        Thyroid medication can be given with an ear gel. Is that possible for your kitty?

  38. windsofwinter*

    I applied for a remote job yesterday. I wrote the best cover letter of my life (which isn’t saying much!) so I hope to at least get a call back. They have previous remote experience listed as a requirement, which I don’t have. Fingers crossed anyway!

      1. windsofwinter*

        Thank you! Luck to you as well. I’m not super happy or unhappy in my current job, but it’s a big pay increase and I’ve come to realize that working remote is a goal of mine.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Me too; good luck to both of you! I put in my cover letter that moving there in future is not out of the question.

    1. Workerbee*

      Good luck!

      And you can address any “but do you have previous remote experience” questions with sterling examples of time management/check-ins/etc. And that you have a dedicated working space with amazing WiFi. :)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. And don’t forget to mention any time you have worked from home as a one off (e.g., you were too sick to be in the office, but not too sick to work, so you stayed home and worked remotely for the day; you WFH when the repairman came, etc.) – that experience counts too. Some people think they just mean if you were a full time remote worker and don’t think to talk about those other instances.

        Good luck!

    2. Easily Amused*

      Just wanted to throw in a reality check because I’ve been there… I’m a Software Developer and have worked remotely in the past. I’ve been applying to remote positions on and off for a few years now and have never so much as gotten a first round phone screen. In my experience, I’m up against hundreds of other applicants from all over the world so it’s very different than applying to local jobs. That said, I’m still trying so I wish you all the best of luck!

  39. Purple Rain*

    Here’s to hoping that Leap Year Birthday employee finally got to enjoy an awesome day off for their birthday!!

    1. windsofwinter*

      Amen! Or even better, hopefully she’s moved on to bigger and better things. That letter was SO bizarre.

    2. Fibchopkin*

      OMG- YES! That OP was just so… petty and awful though, and her follow-up letter where she doubled down and claimed to have her company’s full support on the policy! I feel pretty convinced that the only way the Leap Year Baby is going to get satisfaction is by leaving that place, so here’s hoping she’s landed somewhere better!

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        Just read her original letter and the update. Wow- the original OP is just insane. Any decent manager would give the Leap Year employee February 28 or March 1 (or, as she insisted, the next workday after if that fell on a weekend or holiday. That manager is ridiculous.

  40. English Major, Really*

    I wanted to share a small success: This week, I was asked a remarkably ridiculous question at work.
    I really wanted to say, “Dude, you are not paying me to do that.”
    But I opened my mouth and out came, “That is significantly out of scope for the work I am assigned. Doing that would require a significant renegotiation of my time.”
    Thanks, Alison and the Commentariat for slowly seeping into my brain.

    1. Nom de Plume*

      Ha! I’ve gotten really good at saying, “Yes, we can do that. It will require that we start over from scratch and re-work a few hundred hours of work. Would you like me to pull together a change order so we can get started?” Usually, once I say that people normally say, “Nevermind. Keep doing what you’re doing”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh very well done!
      Am I right presuming it was met with a briefly blank look before they recognized it as an extremely professional “no, not unless the boss changes my assignment!” ?

  41. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

    How do you handle it if a coworker is publically Wrong.
    Scenario: We’d mildly screwed up, so a student had to stop in and ask us to do something that should have been done automatically. (It’s a little complicated but think, student had paid their fine, and we’d entered the payment in one place but not another. This second step is handled by my coworker, but the staffperson who had collected the fine hadn’t updated her as they should have). No big deal to fix, definitely our fault. My coworker went off on this poor girl, telling her that it was her job to check that everything was cleared, having me check and double-check that the fine was paid (she clearly owed no money! We could see the record of payment!). Eventually she went through the steps to update it, still scolding the student.
    Patrons should be able to expect that if they pay their fine, their account is fully cleared. They do not have any responsibility to check that we’re doing our job. I didn’t intervene because I didn’t want to start a fight right there in the library, but I did feel awful. I would have disagreed with her professionally, but I know her and she wouldn’t have backed down. That assumption was proved right because afterward, my boss came out of her office to tell us that the student was not wrong–and my coworker still kept arguing.
    Should I have defended the student in the moment? Thoughts?

    1. Purt's Peas*

      You probably should have, your boss certainly should have.

      This student had to do extra work due to a mistake made by staff–coming by the desk, which is not a big deal, but something a little extra–and was *scolded*! What a crummy encounter for that person–to be scolded like a child when you’ve actually done everything right. Is that student going to be worried about going to the library to do their schoolwork? Will they ask a librarian for help if they need it?

      I think the right solution was probably for your boss to step in and take over the interaction. A possible solution for you was to step in afterward, and assure the student that actually they’d taken the correct steps.

    2. Turtlewings*

      Oh dear. I think the big problem here is that, by not expressing your disagreement with your coworker, you silently supported the mistreatment of a patron, who has now gone away with a terrible experience where a staff member rudely and unjustly berated her, as well as telling her things about library policy that aren’t true, and that was just… allowed to stand. You say you couldn’t have gotten your coworker to back down and didn’t want to start a fight but… this was worth starting a fight about, and worth letting the patron know she didn’t do anything wrong, whether your coworker “backed down” or not. I’m very conflict-avoidant myself so I sympathize with you not knowing what to do in the moment, but I’m sorry to say I do think you did the wrong thing by not speaking up.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I want to know why the boss didn’t come out earlier if they heard this? This would have been an excellent time for boss to shut this down, hard.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Exactly. As soon as she heard this nonsense, the manager should have come out of her office and corrected the employee, then apologized to the patron.

          Everybody dropped the ball here.

    3. Miss May*

      I think that at the very least, an individual should be able to keep their cool without losing it at anther. Even if your coworker was right, its just plain wrong to berate. Maybe if it happens again try to step in?

    4. CL Cox*

      I agree with the others. Next time, step in and say something to co-worker and then complain to Boss if co-worker starts yelling at you instead.

    5. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Yeah, I really should have, at least to show support for the student

      Further context–we have different positions (I’m a librarian, she’s a library assistant), but we all report to the same boss and I have no supervisory/management role. She’s also been there 10+ years and I’ve been there under 2.

      In addition, on two or three occasons my boss has lost her temper at students/scolded students in ways that make me deeply uncomfortable, so I wasn’t entirely sure my boss would have my back in this case. The students are at least a bit in the wrong in these cases, like being sort of noisy, or having coffee by the computers, but nothing egregious. She’s also scolded me–in front of patrons–for not immediately telling students off for minor infractions. Which, fair enough, those are the rules, I need to get better at enforcement…but also some of our rules are overzealous, and if it’s finals week, I don’t care if a student has a covered cup of coffee. And when you’re yelling at me to an extent that students come up afterward to apologize to me for me getting in trouble(!) it’s a little too far.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        . . . they’re still the rules and stuff like a covered cup is a reasonable request in a library, around computers.

        You don’t have to “tell them off”, but maybe if you correct them politely before she catches them, it will help defuse some of this. We don’t allow food in our reading room at all but it’s pretty easy to just ask patrons to stow whatever they have in either the visitor’s lockers or our kitchenette. Politely, as a gentle reminder rather than a scold.

      2. LizB*

        Ditto to what Dust Bunny said: reminding a student of a rule is not the same as telling them off. “I’m sorry, you can’t have any drinks near the computers.” = problem solved! Plus, if you enforce the rules kindly like that, fewer students will end up on the receiving end of your boss’s or coworker’s (totally unprofessional and not acceptable) scolding.

      3. Diahann Carroll*

        Oh – so both your coworker and your boss are asses. I’d never want to visit this library – good lord.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Your coworker was a jerk.

      Another library employee here: Please defend the student next time, even if you don’t know yet that she’s in the right. It’s easy enough to say, “OK, this isn’t showing up the way it should–hang on a minute while we figure out what happened.” Even if it turns out he student is wrong, it’s never better to embarrass somebody.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      Sounds like defending would have escalated. I’ve had some luck with deflecting instead, like, “Hey, Coworker, this piece is done, what happens next? Can you tell the student what to expect / look for?”

      Focusing on the solution, and helping the co-worker get focused on that too.

    8. SomebodyElse*

      I feel like you could have diffused situation at the very least.

      Maybe next stepping in to say “Hmm.. it looks like something didn’t happen the way it should. It’s cleared now and we’ll take a look at it to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future” If nothing else this will give the student a chance to get out of dodge, then you can deal with the situation and the coworker without involving the student.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Sounds like you have a culture of arguing in your work place.

      You can assume that because she argued with the boss, she will not treat you better than that. So when you do stand up for someone have a firmness and finality in your voice. Use a tone that says, I will not keep discussing this.
      This is awful to say but for your own self-preservation you may prefer to just pick the battles you know the boss will back you on.
      Your real problem is the public scoldings. No one should be scolding anyone publicly. Perhaps you can start with the boss and ask her to keep your corrections in private conversations as opposed to across the room. If I were a patron, I’d probably leave if I saw this. Maybe you notice people leaving in the moment and you can point out to the boss that the public airings are driving away people.

      This is a tough nut to crack. Eh, if it were me because I tend to kick about things, I might let myself be overheard by the boss telling my cohort, “We can’t be yelling in front of the people. And we really cannot yell at the people. People will stop coming here if they see too much of this.”

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I observed a similar situation that might give you a way out if it happens again.
      The interrupting person tapped the scolder and said “Hey you’re past due for your break. I’ll finish up here for you.”

  42. Forsyth County*

    I got laid off at the beginning of the month and I have a new job but I’m really depressed about it. I’d been looking for work for three years with no luck. I’d been wanting to leave my job and we all knew layoffs were coming and I am lucky to have a job but I’m only taking it because I have to. I’d been looking so carefully and I wanted to make sure I was improving my job situation – office job, closer to home and not in the nearby big city, something I was interested in. Now it’s not an office job, after the interview I knew it wasn’t a job I wanted to do, it’s an even longer commute, and I have to get up at 4 am after working an afternoon shift for years and years. The worst part is I got turned down for an amazing job that I would have loved. That interview went so amazingly well and it was such a good fit. It’s like they took my resume and wrote a job description. The interview went over by 20 minutes. Everything just clicked. I really thought that I must have gotten turned down on all those other jobs because THIS was the job I was meant to have. Then a big fat thumbs down.

    I just don’t have any choice at this point since I’ve only gotten one (terrible) job offer in three years of looking. I’m just so sad about it. It is just looming ahead and I can’t even be properly upset since I know so many of my former coworkers are on unemployment. I mean the people are perfectly nice, it’s a decent paying job, and I’ll be on my best behavior but it sucks not to be excited about a new job. After such a crappy 2019, I really thought 2020 would be better. Thank you for listening. I just needed to vent.

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      That really sucks, I’m sorry. I got laid off back in 2017 – first time ever in over 25 years of working. My (incredibly brilliant and compassionate) wife pointed out that I needed some time to mourn the lost job. I’d never heard it phrased that way before, but yeah. In a sense, it is a sudden change that I had no control over. Giving my emotional side a chance to be sad and make peace allowed me to move on.
      I wish you the best in finding something new for you.

      1. Forsyth County*

        Thank you. It’s dumb because I didn’t even really like the job much anymore! I just wanted to be all “You aren’t breaking up with me! I’m breaking up with you!” ha I did have some really great coworkers I’ll miss for sure though.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          And that’s valid. It still sounds like you need to grieve – losing a job, even one you don’t like all that much, is very hard on the spirit.

    2. Narvo Flieboppen*

      I hear you. I’ve only been looking for about 18 months, but that’s a depressingly long time. I’ve had a few options come up where I could take a job if I moved or was willing to commit to 3 hours of commuting per day. I know myself, and the commute is not an option. My wife doesn’t want to move from where we are, so I’m a bit stuck with looking locally. Where the job market is garbage.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      The “other people have it worse” technique works up to a point and then it doesn’t work. For example, it’s not instructive on how to deal with life at 4 am. I have many other examples.

      Try to go a little easier on yourself here. Take some time to lick some wounds, you’ve had some pretty tough bouncing around here. Then get back on track with the job search. One thing I have told myself is, “I am safe here for the moment.” If we know something is short term, it makes it much easier to deal with. Try to think of this job as an opportunity to catch your breath. At least the people are decent and the pay is okay, so try to think of it as a temporary safe place to be.

  43. Master Bean Counter*

    I’m surrendering to the computer overlords today. I’ve had not one, but two programs lose data on me in the last week. First one was no biggie. The second one ate a ton of data. Hopefully the IT person will be able to recover.

  44. Aye Nonny Nonny*

    So I know you’re next supposed to badmouth previous managers in an interview, but what about when it’s about a reporting chain instead of the boss personally? My grandboss is a sales guy put in charge of operations and it’s going…about as well as you could expect. He is not the main reason I’m looking but how do you bring this up? I’m trying to avoid people (micro) managining work they know nothing about.

    1. CL Cox*

      If this was a change in the reporting structure, you could say something like, “Due to recent changes/restructuring, the company culture/my job description changed and I no longer feel it’s a good fit for me.”

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      If you’ve been there more than two years, ignore it. Focus on ‘looking for new opportunities, and your Teapot Manufacturing Process is so interesting!’

    3. SomebodyElse*

      In what contest do you think this would be brought up?

      If it’s the “Why are you looking” I’d come up with a different answer and avoid this reason altogether, especially if it’s not your main reason for looking.

    4. Nom de Plume*

      Interviews are not lie-detector tests or courts of law where you must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I’m not saying to lie, obviously, but you can omit things like “I hate my idiot boss” in favor of saying things like “I”m up for new challenges”. If you are concerned about working for a micromanager, you can ask your future boss about their management style and how much day-to-day feedback they typically provide their direct reports.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This.
        Try to think of a reason for leaving that more closely ties into why you WANT to work for the new place. This reason does not have to be your primary reason for leaving, it doesn’t have to be your secondary reason for leaving either.

        You can take the new challenges reason and add, “I see that your position involves X, Y and Z also. I am interested in doing more of that type of work and learning more about those areas.” This is sort of a redirect but it also keeps you from feeling painted into a corner conversation-wise.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Focus on the main reason you’re looking (if it’s suitable material to talk about in interviews – if not find something more ‘generic’!) and probe as part of the interview when you ask about the prospective new company’s culture, reporting structures, etc – e.g. in general when you look up the reporting lines do people report to people with some knowledge of their area? (rephrased suitably for an interview). I don’t think you need to ‘badmouth’ a particular previous employer in this case, just generally mention it’s something you’ve experienced in some cases etc.

    6. Emilitron*

      This isn’t information that you need to share to help you answer their questions. It’s presumably one of many reasons you’re leaving, and/or the things that are bothering you are cultural non-fit he’s implemented not the fact of his existence.

      The real temptation to share this info would (for me) be to confirm that you’re not risking a similar situation, and that type of question is something you can frame without talking about him at all. “I know in this type of organization it can be hard to have a management team that’s equally good at the technical skills, the organization skills, and the personnel aspects of management. How does that work here, which branches of the organization are typically promoted to group leadership and how does that flow into the C-suite structure?”

  45. WantonSeedStitch*

    I’ve recently moved up from a manager-of-individual-contributors role to a manager-of-managers role, and am in the process of hiring my replacement for my previous role. It’s the first time I’ve ever hired a manager who would report to me. What are people’s favorite interview questions to ask in this kind of situation? I am not trying to hire someone to be “another me,” but I want to make sure I get the right person. As a potential complication, some of the people applying for the role have previous management experience and some do not. The position is one that manages several reports here at our organization, but at peer organizations, sometimes does not manage anyone at all, so not having the experience isn’t a dealbreaker (I didn’t have management experience when I took on the role several years ago).

    1. em_eye*

      I would ask a lot of scenario-based questions: “How would you handle if an employee did X?” If they’re going to be hiring, ask what their approach to hiring would be – even if it’s a small part of the role, it’ll reveal what they value in staff members and their management style will probably follow from that. I’d also try to come up with a question that speaks directly to the culture and their specific role as a manager. For example, when I interviewed for a job that involved managing a lot of very independent high-performers, I was asked “Tell me about a time when you had to coach someone from the sidelines without stepping in yourself.” If you actually need managers who are more hands-on, you might ask “Tell me about a time when you had to step in and provide guidance to someone who was really struggling.”

      I also like “Who was your favorite boss, and why?” especially for people with no management experience. I used to ask a more generic question about management style but almost everyone gave some variation of “I don’t like being micromanaged but I do like managers who communicate a lot,” to the point that it wasn’t very helpful. I’ve found first-time managers tend to emulate the boss they respect the most (or overcorrect away from past managers they didn’t like) until they find their own style that works for them so this might tell you a lot about how they’ll be as a manager.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Heh…the “who was your favorite boss, and why?” question sounds like a really good one, but since at least one applicant reports to me…it wouldn’t be a great question to ask! I do prefer scenario-based questions, so these are helpful. “How would you handle [scenario]” is a good replacement framework for my usual “tell me about a time when you were in X situation, how did you handle it?” that makes room for people who don’t have management experience.

    2. Kathenus*

      Great question. I looked back through some of my lists of potential questions from past manager hiring situations, some of my favorites are below:

      What qualities are important to you in a supervisor? How have you embodied these qualities in current/past positions?

      What would be the top 3-5 priorities you would focus on in your first few months? What might be 1-2 longer term goals?

      How would you deal with an employee who routinely disagrees with your decisions?

      What are a manager’s responsibilities regarding implementing organizational decisions that may be unpopular with staff and with which you may not personally agree?

      What feedback have you received from others about your communication style? What do you feel are your strengths in this area, and what areas could use improvement?

      What types of people do you find easiest and most challenging to work with?

      What is the most useful work-related criticism you’ve ever received, and why?

      In your experience, what is the key to developing and maintaining a good team?

      Describe what you feel your management style will be in this role. How will you develop trust and loyalty in your employees and supervisors?

      How would you handle the transition of coming in from the outside into an established team; specifically what would be the biggest challenges and how might you go about earning the respect of the staff?

      Please briefly describe your experience and career path, and explain the decisions you’ve made as to positions chosen and left.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        Ooooh, some good ones in here. I really like these ones in particular:

        How would you deal with an employee who routinely disagrees with your decisions?

        What are a manager’s responsibilities regarding implementing organizational decisions that may be unpopular with staff and with which you may not personally agree?

        What feedback have you received from others about your communication style? What do you feel are your strengths in this area, and what areas could use improvement?

        Describe what you feel your management style will be in this role. How will you develop trust and loyalty in your employees and supervisors?

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Not sure if it is helpful, but adding a story in case you find anything you can take from it.

      My now-ex (husband at the time) was applying for a role as “manager of individual contributors” (in a blue collar environment); he was currently an IC himself but occasionally ‘deputized’ for the manager and acted as shift leader on off-hours shifts etc. and wanted to make that ‘step’ into management.

      The “manager of managers” (‘you’ in this situation) interviewed him with a bunch of questions that seemed to take a very… let’s say ‘authoritarian’ view of the way management should be. He gave me a few examples and I can’t remember all of them as it was years ago, but the impression he got was that it was a problematic team/department/(?company).

      The “manager of managers” asked questions like ‘what would you do if your direct report is refusing to complete the task you assigned them?’ He answered in the gist of: “well, first I’d talk to them and find out the motivation for refusing. Is it because they don’t have enough info to do it? Do they just have a bad attitude or are lazy? Is there a concern about not having the right safety equipment? etc. Whatever their motivation is for not completing the task, I would take that into account and then probe further from there. If they are just being lazy I’d be quite harsh on them but if there are safety concerns I’d raise them to whoever it is”, etc.

      I didn’t see eye-to-eye with him (ex) over a lot of things, but I thought that was a pretty good answer!

      Apparently that was the “wrong” answer for that interviewer, as the feedback he received after the interview was that they were looking for a manager-of-ICs who would be really tough, finally bring the direct reports into line and not tolerate any more of their ‘nonsense’ as they had been getting away with too much.

      The manager-of-managers was trying to solve the wrong problem (and then compounded it by doubling down on their own perspective rather than take into account an external viewpoint presented by someone with no ‘skin’ in the situation who could give a completely objective view).

      My ex was upset and annoyed at the time as it would have been a much better paying role and with more authority and autonomy which was what he was capable of — I pointed out that it was a bullet dodged though as he would then have been subject to shit from both above and below! Maybe it was for the best!

      TL;DR: I suggest you introspect a bit as to what your replacement would need to be good at, what problems do they actually need to solve, etc. Not necessarily things you superficially perceived as problems when you were in the manager-of-ICs role, but also you have a unique perspective on it.

      Even if someone doesn’t have explicit management experience it’s often possible to tell (and as a manager-of-managers I think you should have the skill by now) to develop a sense/intuition for people who have the quality of leading others.

  46. Miss May*

    I had an interview! For a government position!

    It was weird though. I’m not sure if its because its a government position, or if its a symptom of a bigger problem.

    1) They just launched straight into questions for me. Which is fine, but every interview I’ve been in has talked about the position for a bit first? Like, I had to ask what the hours were, if there was overtime, etc. When I asked what a typical day was like, I didn’t get a clear answer.
    2) I didn’t get a tour? Which, again, is fine, but every lab I’ve been apart of has always done a small “here’s our facility, this is what we have…” spiel.
    3) The manager has only been there since the “6th.” I’m assuming the 6th of this month, since he didn’t elaborate. And, they alluded to a lot of management change recently.

    Are these all red flags? Am I just over-worrying? Or is it just like that when interviewing with government jobs? Any insight is appreciated.

    1. Phil's coworker*

      I don’t think these are red flags, but maybe yellow flags to be considered in conjunction with other information. I would also assume “the sixth” means “of January 2020,” which would actually explain a lot. They didn’t give you a lot of information, because they’re just walking into this and working on coming up to speed.

      If they make you an offer, you can ask at that point for a tour or ask any additional questions you didn’t get to ask yet, especially if any of it is a deal breaker.

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      I’d say three yellow flags, but not red. And the 6th was the first Monday of the year, so more than likely, yeah that one’s new too.

    3. WantonSeedStitch*

      1. I usually expect that the person has read the job description which answers most of the hours/overtime questions, and start off with the very basic-type questions like “what interests you in this position/working at this organization?” I always leave time at the end of my interview for people to ask me questions (like “what is a typical day,” which I DO answer as best I can).

      2. I don’t give people tours of our office as part of the interview process: we do that as part of our onboarding of new employees. If someone considers the physical space a really important factor in deciding whether they want to work here, I would hope they’d bring that up when I prompt them to ask questions, and would give them a quick tour at the end of their interview period.

      3. Is it possible that the manager has been *in that role* since the 6th, having been promoted from within, and is hiring their replacement? Or have they been at the organization since the 6th? If that’s the case, maybe it was a situation of “we don’t want to hire for $position until we have someone in $manager role, so they can hire the employee they want.”

      These don’t seem like red flags to me, though an inability to describe a typical day seems like a yellow one.

      1. Miss May*

        Thanks for this! The job posting didn’t list hours (just duties) or anything which is why I ended up having to ask.

        1. Not All*

          I’ve been a federal govt employee for decades & changed jobs an average of every 3-4 years. I have only ONCE had an interviewer mention hours and that was because weekend/evening work would be required, which is fairly uncommon. Not listing those is definitely not a red or even yellow flag in government.

    4. Nikara*

      What stage are you at in the interview process? I have been part of several government interviews, and sometimes the first interview is really just figuring out if you are qualified for the position you are applying for. They then do a follow-up interview that is more about if you fit with the office and have good interpersonal skills. The latter one is when you would learn more about the job itself.

    5. CheeryO*

      I did a bunch of interviewing for state jobs 5ish years ago, and every interview was very stilted compared to even my most stuffy private sector interview, even though I did well enough to get several offers. One interviewer did a little more small talking and gave me a tour of the office, but I found out later that he has a habit of going rogue and wasn’t really supposed to do that. The name of the game is keeping the playing field as even as possible through the interview stage, and it’s probably just easier for them if they don’t even try to do tours.

      Not opening with a description of the actual job is a bit strange, but I wouldn’t consider it a red or even a yellow flag, necessarily. I would focus your energy on the job itself and whether or not you want to come on board at the same time as a new manager.

    6. Fed PM*

      If this is a U.S. government position, there really aren’t set hours. For the application and interview part, all you’d probably discuss is whether the position is full-time, part-time, and whether there’s any traveling. Usually discussion about the hours is done on your first day between you and your new supervisor because there are different options. You could work a standard shift (8-4:30 or 9-5); flexitime (arriving any time between 6am – 9am and working 8 hours after that); you could work on an alternate schedule with 8 9-hr days, 1 8-hr day, and 1 day off for every two weeks; you could work an alternate schedule with 4 10-hr days and 1 day off per week; or a regular shift with a start time of your choice. There is a possibility that you didn’t get an answer on the typical day question because you may not have the appropriate security clearance for them to be able to tell you in the detail that you’re looking for.

      I’ve never had a tour of the buildings or facilities during interviews when I started my jobs. The tours were always done on the first day of work and conducted by HR or my supervisor. Maybe the labs/science orgs do something different so I could be out of my depth on this one (I’ve worked in IT-based agencies).

      I agree with the others that #3, management turnover, could be a flag, but I’d say it’s a yellow flag. The best people to talk to about whether it’s a yellow flag or a red flag would be the current people that work at the organization. If this is a U.S. government position, look up the agency or the lab on Best Places to Work (.org website) and see what the ratings show — ratings come from current employees — and see if that helps.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      I’d say this sounds like typical government, though it likely depends on the level of government. At the federal level information like what the hours are is public, and I wouldn’t think to mention it to someone I was interviewing. Ditto overtime, most of the people I hire are exempt, so don’t get paid overtime. Must admit I would have a hard time answering a question about a typical day because while our work is desk-based – e-mails? meetings? paperwork? – what happens each day can depend on whether we are dealing with a crisis. In recent interviews I think the best discussions that probably provided the kind of information you are looking for were under the category of work-life balance.

      You mentioned work in a lab, so in your field it may be different. Go with your gut on whether you are seeing red (or yellow) flags.

    8. foolofgrace*

      When I interviewed for a government job with the State (which I got!), the interview panel had a list of questions they had to ask, and they told me that they had to ask everyone the exact same questions for fairness’s sake. At the end they gave me all the time I needed to ask questions. No tour, but I did get a job description before the interview.

    9. Uncivil Engineer*

      I work for a large municipal government (i.e., City of ___). This is very normal.

      We launch in to the questions because we have to ask the same ones to everyone in a certain amount of time and if anyone complains about not having enough time to answer because we wasted time at the beginning with chit-chat, we risk having to start the interview process over again – with new questions – because it wasn’t “fair” to them.

      We don’t give tours. Depending on the level of the position, we may be interviewing dozens of people. We don’t have time. And, there is nothing in our office that is going to “wow” you anyway.

      A new manager isn’t necessarily a red flag either. My city recently went through a large management change when a bunch of top managers were fired for allowing a culture of laziness (I’m paraphrasing). They were replaced with more competent leadership and the work has gone better because of it. We also lose a lot of people because of pay but the pay is stated in our job posting so it’s not a surprise. And, I swear someone retires once a month in my department. Lastly, we do a fair amount of transferring laterally to get more experience. All of these are situations in a which a new manager is hired. Not all are for bad reasons.

    10. Gumby*

      For #2 – depending on the government lab, it is possible that there are things they *can’t* show you as an interviewee too. Which is true for non-government labs and other work-places as well. Easier to keep you in the public areas than take you back and be all “whoops, can’t go down this hallway, you aren’t authorized to access half of the rooms thisaway.” (Not that anyone would be that blatant about it – because you don’t advertise where the juicy secret projects are taking place, duh, but the general point stands.)

  47. Rainbow Dash*

    This isn’t a question- but a rave. My husband’s company had a surprise IT appreciation night for their team at Dave and Busters after they finished a tough project last Friday. My husband called to invite myself and the kids, but due to the misbehavior of our youngest son, I didn’t feel comfortable taking him to a fun night. My husband’s boss sent home a $250 gift card to the place for our family to enjoy later on and a nice note thanking me for supporting the man who supports the company’s computers.

    1. littlelizard*

      That sounds awesome! If I ever got a $250 gift card to pretty much anything I would lose my mind entirely.

    2. It’s all good*

      I was an external project manager (Consultant) for a software implementation. The internal team worked their butts off on the project. The company did not want to do anything for them at the conclusion. So I gave each a Fair Package that included admission, food, rides and a parking ticket to enjoy with their families.

  48. RestResetRule*

    Today, I finish my first week at my new job.

    I quit my last job right before the holidays for many reasons, among them that I was being bullied by a coworker and leadership didn’t care, and my mental health was shot to the point where I was having panic attacks. I couldn’t take it anymore and I was sick of crying and feeling like a rat in a wheel. I had nothing lined up but I applied like crazy and tried to stay hopeful. In late Dec, I interviewed for my current role and two weeks later, got an offer. People here are friendly, it’s a small team with a lot of flexibility and I actually look forward to going in to work.

    Just a reminder to anyone out there feeling like they are at rock bottom at work: You can get out of there! If you don’t feel valued. find someone who will value you and treat you like a human being.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Did you allude to the “being bullied” etc in the interview? If not what did you ask?

  49. Vee*

    I feel like a failure.
    My ultimate goal is to earn a PhD and do research (ideally as a university professor). I have 5 years of research exspierence including 3 as a full-time research assistant, my name is on papers and I am 1st author on a poster being presented next month. But my issue is that my GRE math score is bad. I study for months and still blow it, even when I do ok on prep materials. I was recently diagnosed with dyscaclia (learning disability, like dyslexia for math some people say). I mentioned that in my initial emails to advisors and in my personal statement but I don’t think it helps anyone look beyond that to my application. I know is insanely competitive and there’s a lot of pieces to an application, but I think that they see my score and my app gets binned. But I know I can do it. I know the scientists around me think I can do it.

    This is my 3rd round of rejections. I’m getting scared that I’ll need to give up and I’ve gotten some advice to try and find something else. But I don’t want anything else. I’ve wanted this for years and just about every academic and career choice I’ve made were to prep myself for a doctoral program.

    I feel like a moron and a failure that I’m stuck at a dead end research assistant job and even if I wanted to leave the best I can do is more entry level work. Im afraid I pigeonholed myself into a niche (as far as the research I’ve been involved in) that I cant get out of.

    I just turned 26 and am not happy about my future prospects at all and am not happy with myself.

    1. yala*

      26 is still very young! It might be worth taking a break, if you think you can. My friend took a few years off from getting her PhD after she felt she had hit a road block, and I think that really helped her when she finally got it.

      You are certainly not a moron! Dyscalculia is very real, and sadly still not very understood, and many classes/tests don’t take it into account.

      Is there a counselor you could speak to about getting accommodation while testing? Or who could recommend a test tutor experienced in students with dyscalculia, who might be able to provide more targeted help with the test?

      Best of luck.

      1. Vee*

        I know the age thing is silly, it’s just so disheartening that I imagined so much more for myself at age 18, second year of college, graduating college and even up to last year. Right now I’m sending out a few job applications to see if there’s anything that might grant me a fresh perspective.

        Some advice I’ve gotten from other PhD’s is to try in person tutoring with someone who is experienced with disabilities (up until now all my tutoring has been online). I tried to find tutors who specialize in disabilities but it seems like they were mostly used to working with school aged kids or high schoolers and weren’t local anyway. I think I’m going to try one more time. One scientist I know suggested in person, specialized tutoring for one more shot and then if that doesn’t work maybe consider something else for my life. And while I know that’s respectable and probably the best advice, it does make me sad.

    2. CL Cox*

      Can you get accommodations for your learning disability and re-take the GRE with those in place? It sounds like pulling that score up would, if nothing else, give you a boost of confidence. Can you ask the scientists around you to look over your CV, cover letter, and applications and see if they have any suggestions to help you be a better contender?

      1. Vee*

        I did get extended time for my latest GRE and didn’t even crack the 20th percentile. My “best” was 32nd. What really bothers me is that I was doing the official ETS practice tests, with the extra time, and did pwas scoring around the 50th percentile- which was fine for the program’s I was applying to. I sent my 32nd percentile score from a few years ago.

        I had my scientists help me with my CV and personal statement the last 2 cycles.

      1. Vee*

        Psychology, in a more social concentration. My interests are focused on animal-human interactions and how animals affect quality of life.

        1. Prof*

          Hm. Look, my GRE math score was bad, and I got into a top PhD program. But this was in the humanities, so the math score was less relevant than my verbal/writing score and my writing sample. If you were in STEM I would say that math will matter, but in the social sciences it could go either way.

          Try to get accommodations, like someone above suggests. But also, make sure every other part of your application is in top shape – it may be that with good letters of rec, a strong personal statement (which should be about research interests, not your personal background), good undergrad GPA, etc., the committee might overlook a low GRE.

        2. Cassandra*

          So… I wish I could message you directly but I know a researcher who has done human-animal interaction research, is in social psychology, and I believe the university may be doing away with GRE scores or at least considering other options. It is possible. Start reaching out to potential advisors directly and discuss your situation with them. If they can see your publication record and you have good letters of rec, it’s definitely possible to get in! Good luck!

          1. Jemima Bond*

            I’ve been sifting application forms this week, for an external recruitment campaign for a post (not very senior but experience required; definitely not entry level or a trainee post) here at the Guild of Ninja Assassins (government agency).
            Pro tip: if you are completing a competency based application form where they specifically advise you to use the STAR format (and they explain what that is!) and give you up to 250 words for each question, do not answer all three requests to describe your ninja skills and assassination experience with “yes”. Or worse, “no”. Or “cabbage distribution”. Ok the last one wasn’t a quote but it was something similarly irrelevant, and the first two were quotes.

            Also a moment of silence for the applicant who answered “all candidates must have the Advanced Ninja Certificate or equivalent experience, please state” with “ruminating over the challenges of life and observing people whilst nibbling on avocado toast” (not a direct quote but very close). What with the rest of their application (no you are not in any way saving the world) I wondered if this person had applied for a bet.
            It was a bit of a dumpster fire all round.*
            *i’ve picked up that phrase from AAM and I love it. Wheelie bin fire doesn’t have the same ring!

          2. Vee*

            I think I have one more try in me, at least right now. It’s so frustrating that there’s this test, pretty much completely unrelated to my field, that nearly every PhD or post-doc I speak to says is a crappy metric that doesn’t mean a thing for your success… and yet it’s the first hurdle.

            It just feels like everything I’ve done doesn’t matter.

    3. knitter*

      I have dyslexia and am also a special ed teacher.

      I think there are a few things you can do:
      1. people with specific learning disabilities need significantly more “at bats” with the same information before it is internalized and able to be reliably recalled. There is a weakness in the area of the brain responsible for processing information related to sound letter combinations so my brain ends up using additional regions to make up for the weakness. Repetition is important. Anxiety around testing exacerbates the recall difficulties. Ask me how I know ;)

      2. Multi-modal learning. Whatever you’re trying to learn, try to make it more interactive. Check out: http://www.ldonline.org/article/5602/
      Also, a friend recently recommended this book: Making it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
      I use TouchMath when my students struggle with computation. When the struggle is more around math processes, I use resources like this: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/learning-at-home/homework-study-skills/download-graphic-organizers-to-help-kids-with-math?_ul=1*1sxbjhb*domain_userid*YW1wLWxremRnYzdlVUFWWUhncHZfRm93WFE. (particularly the step-by-step one)

      Also math anxiety is a real thing. Jo Boaler has written books about it related to teaching. Maybe some of her resources could help.

      I’m a fixer so I always go straight to advice and I’m in general not good with dealing with feelings. But here’s a go- Having a learning disability is hard. It is even harder when you’ve proven yourself but have this one weakness that you can’t get past (however that looks). I frequently lead training workshops and still have anxiety that I misunderstand the material. Maybe imposter syndrome or maybe related to the stress of struggling with something most people perceive as “natural”. Anxiety/Depression and AD/HD co-occur with up to 50% of LD cases. While they are frequently presented as separate diagnoses, I feel like they are all woven together.
      I did have specialized reading instruction, so I can only imagine the struggle you had in school without specialized instruction in math or the struggle that you may have now that you that you have to learn these skills. Maybe you could see if you could qualify for adult services? In my state, people with disabilities can get support services through DDS. It isn’t as extensive as the services in school, but maybe look into that? (Look, the fixer came out again).

    4. Samantha*

      If you’ve been studying for months and received time extensions for the dyscalculia but still have a low score, it may be your test taking strategies that need work rather than actual mathematical skills. It’s been years since I took the GRE, but I remember that strategy was just as important as knowledge.

      It’s counterintuitive, but if you try to solve the problem and produce a solution, you’re wasting time and giving yourself a headache. Instead focus on eliminating wrong answers, which leads you to the correct option through elimination. I don’t have dyscalculia, but I imagine that this strategy might be more effective.

    5. CorgisAndCats*

      Don’t get down on yourself. Keep in mind generally faculty can pick one person, and they tend to pick the person who closely aligns with their own research goals. I am in a psychology adjacent field (Ph.D. in counseling psychology) so perhaps you will disagree but I feel like you could tailor many adjacent fields to your research interests. Have you thought about looking outside general psychology programs? Also, what about looking into masters level programs? It sounds like you are afraid of getting stuck so brainstorming ways to move forward, even if it’s not with a Ph.D. at this time, might be a good pursuit. Good luck!

    6. AcademiaNut*

      STEM PhD here.

      A couple of things occur to me. One is the question of what sort of programs you’re applying for. If you’re applying at top schools, you’re going to be competing against people who have research experience *and* top grades *and* top GREs *and* good reference letters, and probably aren’t making the first cut after which they start looking at details. I know people who got really frustrated applying for grad school, not realizing that decent grades, research experience, a mediocre subject related GRE and good references simply weren’t going to get them into MIT or Caltech. They later got into decent but not top schools. I will add the caveat that if your goal is a professorship, a mediocre program isn’t worth doing – where you do your PhD matters, and you need a place with a good solid program and research faculty.

      The second is wondering about how you explain your dyscaclia. If you simply say that this is why your math score is bad, I can see it hurting your application – they’ll be worried you can’t handle the necessary math in the program. So I might highlight how you can handle the math. For psych, I expect that statistics and regression analysis would be key areas (you’re probably not going to be using tensor calculus, for example)- can you demonstrate that you can do this sort of work?

      1. Vee*

        I certainly wasn’t applying to Yale or Harvard. And I know it could very well be that my GRE wasn’t the problem and that I just got beat by a better fit, or more relevant experiences or whatever. If I magically knew that was why then it would still suck, but hurt a lot less because I feel like I could fix that. It feels like I can’t fix my math grade, even if that’s not true.

        I mentioned the dyscaclia in my application and immediately mentioned that it hasn’t stopped me from doing t-tests, anovas and correlations, evidenced by some of my stat work being in a paper and poster.

        I know it would be in no way appropriate or conducive, but I really wish I could just flat out say I suck at most math but stat’s doesn’t “feel” the same way algebra does nor do I have the same issues and that my comfort with stats has gone up tremendously since working with SPSS on a regular basis.

    7. Canada PhD*

      Not sure if you will see this as it’s a day late, but I assume you are in the US? Are you able to look internationally? Here in Canada the GRE is not a requirement for graduate programs (I didn’t take it) and there are lots of students from the US. I encourage you to look into it as your experience would be valued! There are both direct entry PhD programs and master’s programs that allow you to transfer into a PhD 1 year in.

  50. EAP*

    Can you go to EAP about a personal issue that’s completely unrelated to work? Have any of you done so?

    1. Manders*

      Yes! If they refer you to a therapist, that therapist can talk to you about anything, it doesn’t have to be work-related. And there are some programs spouses can use even if they don’t work for the same company. I went through my husband’s EAP when I was looking for grief counselors and that was considered normal.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yes, you can. Our HR department, when talking about our EAP, has specifically said so. I have not done so, but I know people who have.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Absolutely. It’s there to support you in your personal life so that you can do better at work – the issue does not need to be work related.

    4. Bernice Clifton*

      I have, but it wasn’t a good user experience for me.

      I thought I was calling to talk to a therapist, instead it was a call center where the rep gave me numbers of therapists that I could see a few times and submit reimbursement for. This would have been acceptable expect that the office locations were incorrect, numbers were incorrect, or the therapists didn’t have openings for a month.

      1. ThatGirl*

        The therapist referral part is common, but they shouldn’t have given you wrong information – you may want to let your HR know that their EAP service isn’t doing their job well.

    5. Not All*

      In my experience, MOST uses of EAP are for non-work issues. Mental health, financial, legal. Heck, my divorce was all three & I used it for that…the attorney gave me a substantial discount for being referred through EAP.

    6. merp*

      I have, twice! In one case it was super helpful and in the other it wasn’t, so like others are saying, it really depends on how effective your EAP provider is. But both times for me, it was entirely unrelated to work and there was no expectation that it would be.

    7. Echo*

      Yes, this is what it’s for! I have done this and it was IMMENSELY helpful. It was on a day when I was dealing with a personal stress so immense that I couldn’t concentrate on work, and talking to the EAP therapist helped me reframe the stress and get into a place where I could at least get a minimal amount of stuff done.

    8. Octo*

      Yes, and our EAP was set up that you could get X appointments per “issue” before a referral to paid therapy. So I did X appointments for Topic A, and then a few months later did X more appointments for tangential Topic B: strategies to deal with anxiety (stemming from Topic A).

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s for YOU as a PERSON and not you as an EMPLOYEE!

      Another way to reframe it.

      Our EAP poster literally lists personal things that happen that are what they’re there for [for their examples, to encourage people to reach out for assistance.]

    10. Nessun*

      Yes, you can. Anything that affects you affects your work. I’ve used our EAP for nutrition information/assistance, in addition to work/life balance and counselling.

    11. Lyudie*

      I have not used it because I am seconding the chorus of “use it!” My company actually sent an email just before Christmas reminding us of the EAP during the stressful and potentially difficult holiday period, which I thought was pretty awesome of them.

  51. Smeralda*

    I have a job offer from a very large corporation that outsources its background checks. A few days ago, I received follow up questions about my check from this company (stuff that seemed ridiculous, like why didn’t you include your part time job at McDonald’s on your resume for a data analyst position? And can you please comment on a two week discrepancy between what you stated your end date was for a part time position you held three years ago and the end date their head office reported?). I replied quickly but haven’t heard back. Anything.

    The part that is stressing my socks off is that the company that offered me the job makes a big deal about filling out various forms at 2 weeks to the start date and not a day later etc. Unfortunately, when I reached out to the company to request these forms, they told me that “everything is fine we are just waiting for background check approval before we can send you the forms.” I mean… ugh.

    I’m feeling panicky and would appreciate any insights about this process

    1. Nicki Name*

      Assume that no news is good news.

      Beyond that, I can only commiserate. I went through the same process with a very large corporation once, and since the process was outsourced, my contact at company making the offer didn’t have much visibility into where the process was. I was warned that it would usually take X time, but sometimes it took longer, there was no way to tell. Like you, I endured what felt like an agonizingly long time with no word at all, until one day, out of the blue, I heard that everything was done and we could finalize my start date now.

    2. bdg*

      My company does these sorts of background checks (give them 3 personal references, then they call them and ask them for another person who knows me, all to verify I lived/was doing where/what I said I lived/did). I’ve had a couple of them get in a hangup, but there was always more flexibility on the paperwork before start date than they said. The background check is the bit that has to be done before you start. Good luck!

    3. Zephy*

      Possibly helpful? tip: sometimes Gmail likes to direct emails straight to Spam or Trash, especially if they have attachments or hyperlinks, even if they come from someone that you’ve been corresponding normally with up to that point. For my current job, I spent an entire day refreshing my regular inbox, looking for a packet of new-hire paperwork I had to complete (including a background check authorization), before checking Trash on a lark about 6:30 PM and seeing the message from my hiring manager containing said packet that had been sitting there for hours.

      Otherwise, have some Jedi hugs. The waiting is the worst part.

    4. AnonyNurse*

      I had this … one employer (well known non profit) just totally ignores attempts to verify employment. This background check agency sent an email requesting I submit W2s instead. So I did. And never heard from them again. Heard from employer later when I’d checked all of the many many boxes that I was good to go. So assume that means you’re done.

    5. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      These kinds of stories freak me out a little bit. Most of my previous job history dates are best guesses because I didn’t keep good records of things like start and end dates, have no idea where my tax records from before 2010 or so are, and at least once I have found that I put the wrong year on a résumé. It doesn’t usually matter for my line of work but if I ever wanted to apply for something that requires background checks I’d be severely disadvantaged!

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yep. This should go into lists of things to teach interns & prospective graduates!
        Especially anyone who might find themselves looking at careers that could involve levels of government clearance …. federal government, politics, aerospace, etc.

  52. Knitted Cat Hats*

    I just had a job interview, and I think I came across as generally competent but really boring. Whenever I’m talking with a boss-type person, I get really nervous and wind up talking really quickly in a bit of a monotone. I feel like it makes me come across as dry and devoid of personality, which isn’t great when I’m interviewing for teaching jobs! Any tips on how to get less nervous/dry around authority figures in interviews?

    1. Emilitron*

      It’s hard to tamp down feeling panicked about interviewing, yet still keep your positive emotions on-tap and ready to go. Think about the aspects of your work that make you genuinely happy, and try to take a pause in the midst of your conversation to mentally acknowledge that this (job/career/task/topic) is something you like. If you’ve rehearsed an answer to tell me about a time when you had a big success until it’s just a retelling of how… it was almost bad but then technical detail and I did a thing and it was fine… take a breath, try to actually remember how you felt proud of yourself for solving that problem, and how you felt relieved and happy when it came out well.

  53. Time-Sensitive paycheck naivete*

    I was hired in August at a non-profit at which I previously had an unpaid internship. I was originally hired as a program assistant, but when I came in to fill out my paperwork (before I had started), my new boss asked me if I would step up to a room lead position (different job description, slightly more responsibility and some added prep work), since they were familiar with my work and thought I could handle that position. I said yes, because I was excited to have more responsibility, but didn’t ask about compensation, so I’ve been being paid at the same rate I was hired at, with the exception of being paid for an extra hour of “admin” work weekly that isn’t available to program assistants.

    A few weeks in, I began to wonder if I should have asked for a bit more money. I trust my employer (it’s a very equity-minded workplace that looks out for us), and assumed if other room leads were generally paid more, I would have been offered that rate when offered the position. This was perhaps naive, but I don’t know. As time has worn on, I’ve been given more responsibility. Most recently, my boss asked me to start doing a new task at a different location than my primary location. This new task, while more responsibility, would actually cut into my total hours, and I can’t afford to take that hit. I plan to tell my boss that I can’t afford to lose my current hours, though I would be happy to help out if there’s a way in which this new responsibility wouldn’t result in a net pay cut. My (again, probably naive) hope is that she realizes she could just offer me a higher hourly rate and it would all even out (and maybe even come out better for me in the end) – but this seems unlikely. Can anyone suggest wording that might help point her in this direction? I need to email her my response by EOD today and I don’t work today, so I won’t see her in person before she needs my response.

    1. Turtlewings*

      You gotta speak up for yourself. Even the best boss in the world doesn’t have your interests at the top of their agenda at all times, because they’re not the one living your life. (I’m really confused, btw, how taking on a new responsibility could lead to working FEWER hours — you should be getting paid for all the hours you work, regardless of which task you’re doing.) Don’t wait for your boss to think of offering you more money, ASK for it. The sooner the better, since it sounds like you probably should have had a raise ages ago and no one thought of it because you didn’t ask.

      1. ACDC*

        I had the same thought about how a new responsibility would lead to fewer hours, but then I figured Time Sensitive was saying she wouldn’t be compensated for the time to travel between locations. You absolutely should be paying you for travel time and mileage (if applicable).

        I used to do accounting for a nonprofit, and they were upset when I didn’t go to the bank to do deposits often enough (I went once a week). I told them I preferred to consolidate trips since the bank was 20 minutes away (one way). They said they didn’t care and wanted me going 3x a week minimum. So I started logging time for 1-2 hours a week of driving to and from the bank.

        1. Time-sensitive paycheck naivete*

          It’s a little complicated – essentially, the org runs several programs at multiple sites. Currently, I travel to the main site, work at one program which starts at 3:30, and then accompany clients to the other site for a later program which starts at 6:30. The new responsibility is to set-up for the later program, which was previously done by someone higher in the chain than me who is now leaving, but doing that set-up will mean I can’t work the earlier program at the main site and accompany the clients across town, so instead of being paid 3:30-8:30, I’ll be paid 5-8:30.

    2. ACDC*

      You’ve been there 6 months now, that seems like a reasonable timeline to go back and ask to talk about your compensation as your role has evolved since you started. However, it sounds like you are hoping your boss will get your subtle hints that you want more money – she won’t. You need to be really direct in this situation.

    3. OperaArt*

      All the approaches you’ve mentioned are very indirect. Be direct about what you want instead of hoping your boss has a flash of insight or reads your mind.

    4. It takes a village*

      Here’s some language to start with. Change it up to fit your voice and your personality, and add/remove anything you need. Good luck to you!!!

      Dear BOSSPERSON,

      Thank you for offering me the XX position. I am honored and excited to be given more responsibility.

      I have two questions, one is for more info regarding the position before I accept:

      1- What is the pay for this position? When I was originally hired, it was for program assistant position at a pay rate of $XX. However, when I came in to sign the paperwork, I was offerred and accepted room lead position position, which I have now been working and enjoying for six months. However there was no discussion of additional compensation for the additional responsibilities from program assistant to room lead position. With adding more responsibilities to my work-load, I’d like to revisit the salary, and ensure I’m being compensated appropriately.

      2- How many this new position be managed without cutting the current amount of hours I’m working? I currently work 3:30-8:30 by running the two programs at two offices. If I perform the setup for the later show then I’m not able to work the first show, which would make my hours 5:00-8:30, losing 2.5 hours of work (and pay) per week. What can we do to ensure there is NOT a loss in hours with this new responsibility?

      Thank you for taking the time to read this and work with me on solutions. As I stated, I’m excited to take on this new responsibility and continue moving up in (COMPANYNAME).

      -NAME

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Go back to your boss and ask for more; why do you blindly “trust my employer” to “look out for us”, actually?. I fek that you “assumed if other room leads were generally paid more, I would have been offered that rate when offered the position. This was perhaps naive, but I don’t know. As time has worn on, I’ve been given more responsibility”, and were caught out being naive here. Sorry.

  54. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

    People who have a work-issued laptop but usually work in the office (ie, not remote or in the field or at client sites), how often do you take it home at the end of the day? Every night? Only when you’re expecting to be working out of the office? Every night? Weekends only? And what do you do when you have your laptop with you, but need to go somewhere else before or after work (gym, grocery store, networking event)?

    My work desktop computer is going to be replaced by a laptop soon, and I’m starting to think on how to incorporate this into my routine. I am not in a role where I’m routinely on call outside business hours, but I do live in an area where winter storms are possible, and I occasionally find myself in a situation where I’m well enough to drive to work, or do my daily work, but not both. These were part of the reason my boss put me where I am on the list to convert from a desktop machine to a laptop. (There are other reasons as well, not relevant to this part of the discussion.) I’ve had to log into the new laptop a couple of times already while it’s being set up, so I know I will be getting it in the near future. I’d like to hear how other people in similar situations deal with this.

    1. theImpossibleGirl*

      I have a laptop and I take it home every night. This is really just in case something happens (ie – freak storm, power outage, the office burns down) and I can’t go in. If I go somewhere after work before going home, I just leave it in my bag in the trunk.

    2. ACDC*

      My company requires that we take our laptops home at the end of the day. I wasn’t a big fan at first, but it is a lot more convenient for when emergencies happen and I need to unexpectedly WFH.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        This is our new policy too. Used to be you could leave the laptop with a cable lock or locked in a cabinet but after some thefts where secure areas were breached, we are supposed to take them home. I already did this due to WFH flexibility. The hardest part is to remember any peripherals (headphones, charge cable) that get scattered around the desk during the day.

    3. Crazy Broke Asian*

      Caveat: I work in a very casual office. There are lockers provided, and we’re in a generally safe area.

      I only bring mine home when:
      1. There are strong possibility I’ll be WFH the next day, because of weather or other issues.
      2. When I need to travel for work on the weekends, which is needed during certain period each year.

      Other people bring theirs home most of the time, and some people even do it every day and use them for personal stuff.

      How you deal with it will depend on what uses are allowed by your IT and how comfortable are you with privacy. My IT lets us use the laptop for streaming and other personal stuff as long as not too personal (adult stuff), but other companies may not allow it. I don’t use mine for personal stuff because I’m very concerned about privacy.

      1. Daughter of Ada and Grace*

        Fortunately, personal stuff on my work laptop is not a concern for me. I have both a personal laptop and tablet that I can use for things I don’t want IT to have access to. So no temptation to use the work laptop for things I’m not already willing to access on my current work desktop.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          That’s a good idea to keep them separate. At my last company, my department had laptops instead of desktops, and I had one coworker who took hers home very night because she used it like her own personal laptop. Then IT blocked a lot of the sites she visited online (mainly the music streaming sites), and she was bummed – she didn’t download stuff to her own personal device and ended up being locked out of her account.

          I only ever took my laptop home when I knew I’d need to work late or on the weekend to meet a deadline (it was admittedly rare for me – I was a highly efficient proposal manager who got most of my work done well ahead of schedule). We weren’t generally allowed to work from home otherwise unless we had a pre-scheduled emergency like a delivery or extended doctor’s appointment, so I just kept my laptop docked in its docking station and made sure the station stayed locked.

    4. Call Me Dr. Dork*

      I just got switched to a laptop a couple of months ago, and I take it home with me. There are other people on my team, though, who keep theirs locked at their desk when they are out of the office – they could conceivably remote into it when they are out.

      When I have my backpack but am not at home, I just keep it right beside me or locked in the car in a location not visible through the windows.

    5. ThatGirl*

      At my last company, I took my laptop home nearly every night because I lived ~50 minutes from the office, occasionally needed to check something or work in the evening, and a lot of people regularly worked from home. Plus I never knew when something would come up (weather, car problems) where I could work from home but not make it to the office. (If I needed to stop somewhere else before going home, I’d stick it under my front seat or in the trunk.)

      My new company is much closer to home, and they also discourage working from home, so now I leave my laptop unless I have a specific reason to take it.

    6. Coverage Associate*

      I try to take my laptop home every day, but if I have something else to carry, like a big book, I don’t.

    7. cat socks*

      I take it home every night. I have the ability to work from home so if there was some kind of emergency that required me to work remotely I would be prepared.

      Once I left my laptop at work and ended up needing to take my cat to an emergency vet appointment the next day. I actually stopped at work real quick to get my laptop so I could work while at the vet’s office. After that is when I started bringing it home regularly.

      I use a backpack and keep it in my trunk if I need to run errands after work.

    8. Just a PM*

      I’m a bus commuter, about 45 minutes one-way. In winter (Dec through Mar), I pay super close attention to the weather. If there’s even a hint of potential snow, I’ll bring the laptop home with me. Otherwise, the rest of the year, I leave it in the office unless I know I’m going to be working from home the next day. I use a backpack for transport and will leave the backpack in the backseat car if I’m stopping anywhere on the way home with a coat thrown over it to hide it from lookyloos.

    9. JustaTech*

      I leave my laptop at work unless I know I’ll be WFH (scheduled, or for weather or the sniffles). I also took my laptop home for the couple of times I was on-call.
      This has meant that I’ve come down with a cold and driven in to work just to get my laptop and WFH, but I live really close to work so I’m OK with it.
      I don’t get emails that I have to respond to at night so for me it’s not worth taking it home and risking forgetting it again in the morning.

    10. Cog in the Machine*

      I’ll take my laptop home if I’m going to be on travel the next week, or if there’s nasty weather coming in. Even in the case of weather, though, I’ll only take it home if I have a full day worth of work.

    11. we're basically gods*

      I only brought mine home when I knew I’d be working from home the next day, or when there was likely to be a big snowstorm and I might need to work from home.

    12. Lyudie*

      My company requires us to keep our laptops with us so I bring mine home every night (it often lives in the car overnight…I think it’s ok generally to leave them in cars as long as they are out of sight and the car is locked etc.). We work in healthcare IT though so I think a lot of that policy is about securing the data on the laptop not just securing the hardware. I’m forgetful so leaving it in the car is nice because I don’t have to worry about forgetting to grab it on the way out the door (I’ve done that…). I bought a nice computer bag laptop and I use it to carry all my work-related stuff as well as the computer (coffee mug, tea, snacks for my desk) and just got in the habit of having it with me.

      Once you get used to it I think you’ll like it, when you have a snowstorm or don’t feel up to going into the office, you are all set to be productive at home.

    13. Lime Lehmer*

      My coworkers with young children take home their laptops every night. I have a PC, but when winter storms threaten, I make sure that I have items that I can work on remotely.

    14. Jules the 3rd*

      Every night. I don’t carry a purse to the office, I carry a backpack with slot for my computer.

    15. AvonLady Barksdale*

      At one job, I only took it home if they were predicting snow. At another, every day. At my current job, I took it home on weekends and when there was a chance I would work from home or I was traveling.

      I often left it in my car overnight, because I once drove all the way to the office and realized my computer was at home.

    16. Goldfinch*

      I bring mine home every night. I can WFH, and we do have unpredictable weather, but aside from that: I’m one of about a dozen Mac users in the company, and we don’t have formal desk set-ups with locking clamps the way the Lenovo users do. I would be in deep doo-doo if I left my pricey machine unsecured overnight.

      I plan my commute accordingly, and often stop home to drop my bags off before continuing into town for evening errands.

    17. Mr. Shark*

      I generally don’t have to WFH, but I do so on occasion (especially once in awhile on the weekend). If I’m not travelling for work, which doesn’t happen very often, I wouldn’t really need my laptop.
      I do take it home every night with me. I lock it in the trunk if I stop off somewhere after work, in my laptop backpack, so no one can see it.

    18. Dumpster Fire*

      I have a personal laptop as well as a work laptop, so I use a portable hard drive to transport my files etc. between work and home. That way I can leave my work laptop there and just use my own computer when I’m working at home (and it also lets me keep my stuff very separate from my work stuff, while still having access to all of it.)

  55. Goose on the loose*

    I have a weird thing happening at work. I’ve been at my company for 6 months. I have a boss who I really respect and like working with. We regularly get the opportunity to hire vendors, and my normal process is to put a short list together of options I think we should hire and my boss generally approves of my pick. For certain larger projects, my boss, and sometimes even grandboss, get involved to give “suggestions” on who we should hire (which I always follow).

    There’s another newer addition to the company, who is the same level as my boss but not someone I report to. He has expressed interest in ensuring we hire diverse vendors. This is also one of my goals, and is something I try to accomplish when I put my shortlist together. However, Other Boss has been trying to go through me to provide input on who I should include on my shortlist. I asked him whether he wanted me to loop in my boss to explain, “Other Boss recommends we hire X” but he has resisted and says he doesn’t want it to seem like it’s coming from him.

    He will reach out to me separately about options, and will sometimes ask to have meetings with me to discuss “our” goal of hiring diverse vendors, and steps we can take to get there. This is something I have discussed on my own with my boss, and feel we are on the same page about it. When it fits with our business objectives we will prioritize diversity. I’m starting to feel like I’m a pawn for Other Boss and I really don’t want my boss to feel like I’m undermining her in any way. On a related note, during one of our meetings, Other Boss started speaking very poorly of one of his direct reports who I am social friends with. It made me very uncomfortable and I’m starting to question his judgment.

    As of now, I am keeping my distance from Other Boss, continuing to operate as normal with my boss, and just kind of maintaining the status quo. Any tips on how to navigate this?

    1. Fae*

      Have you looped your boss in on what Other Boss is doing with the vendors? If not I would definitely start there because it is weird/shady that Other boss is saying “put THIS vendor on the recommended list but don’t tell anyone that I told you to put them on the list.” I’m not saying the Other boss is doing something shady but it has the appearance of it ad you want to be covered.

      1. Goose on the loose*

        I have never added one of Other Boss’s recommendations to our short list without mentioning that Other Boss recommended X Vendor, and I only add them if I think it makes sense for us to consider them, but I have not told my boss that Other Boss has been asking to meet with me to talk about diversity initiatives. Partially because Other Boss says he wants to talk with my boss and all the other bosses at his level to get some consensus, and have them all approach grand boss together, and I don’t want to “tell” on Other Boss if it’s not a big deal or if he will be reaching out to my boss shortly anyway.

        I felt good about this plan until he showed some poor judgment, and now I am: 1. afraid to get on his bad side by “telling” on him; and (reversely) 2. nervous that he has poor judgment overall and will somehow pull me into this and make it look like we are somehow aligned behind my boss’s back.

        I think when we need to hire a vendor next I’m going to ask my boss whether Other Boss has connected with her yet, and explain some of the things Other Boss and I have discussed just to front it with her, but treat it as more of a heads up rather than a conversation about Other Boss’s actions.

        1. CL Cox*

          Can you tell Other Boss that it’s not appropriate for you to discuss diversity initiatives with him until management figures out how they want to approach them?

        2. Mr. Shark*

          Yeah, don’t think of it as “telling” on him. If you want to, tell Other Boss you routinely include Boss in all of your new vendor additions, and just treat it like it’s no big deal and business as usual.
          I’d definitely tell Boss what is going on, but again, don’t sound like it is some clandestine thing going on with OB, just normal report up to your Boss about how things are going and what you’ve been asked to do.
          If Other Boss has a problem with it, that’s his problem. You do not report to him, and he should not be putting you in that position to keep anything from your Boss.

    2. CL Cox*

      I would advise not keeping secrets from your direct boss. I have never known that to end well, even if you were convinced Other Boss had your best interests at heart and would totally protect you from being fired. Your boss and grandboss have made it clear that they want input into who is being hired. If there are other factors you’re considering that they’re not aware of, that might make your decision seem strange to them. They also have the right to tell you how important each specific factor is. Other Boss does not have that authority.

    3. Someone On-Line*

      I think this is a great question to ask our boss. Say, “Other Boss is really interested in our vendor selection process, especially diversity. He has been doing x, y, and z. How would you like me to handle this?”

    4. ..Kat..*

      This sounds like Other Boss is having meetings with you that he wants kept secret. Tell your boss that Other Boss wants to have meetings with you to give you input and direction on vendor hiring.

  56. theImpossibleGirl*

    Our company has a work from home policy that allows you to WFH one day a week. I have a friend who does not abide by that policy. They hate coming into the office, and since no one from their team is in our office, nor is their manager, they don’t think they should have to, as long as they are productive when working from home.
    I am the type of person that thinks if there is a rule, it should be followed, regardless of how you feel about it. If you don’t like it, either work for a company that allows X thing you want, or lobby to change it.
    If it was anyone else, I would let it go, because I may not know that why a particular person is able to WFH all the time, or I may not care if they might get fired because of it. However, because the person in question is a pretty close friend, I am worried that if they continue to flaunt the policy, they could be terminated. My friend refuses to see this, and I want to let it go, so how do I do that? How do you not care about something someone is doing when you know it’s against policy? It’s not like they are breaking a law, but they could lose their job. Our company is not work from home friendly, so I do think that if someone higher up realizes it, they are in danger of being fired.

    1. ThatGirl*

      You realize it’s not up to you to fix your friend! It’s up to her and her manager(s) and if she’s aware of the policy and potential ramifications, but doesn’t want to follow it, that’s up to her.

      1. Kathenus*

        This. And as is mentioned here frequently in a variety of contexts, it’s generally ineffective to care more about something than the person that it directly affects.

        1. valentine*

          My only concern would be that, when confronted, she would try to take me down with her. Are you sure you won’t be in trouble if it comes out you didn’t report her?

    2. CatCat*

      I work with this person. I just remind myself that it’s really none of my business, not my problem, and that the person is an adult who can make their own choices. I am not the police of their choices.

      Also, you don’t have to “not care,” you just need to keep it to yourself.

      1. JustaTech*

        Exactly. It’s hard to make yourself “not care” but you can try to take a hard look at the thought “Friend isn’t in again today!” and then let it go. (This takes practice, and I’m still working on it as I’m in a very similar situation, but it is possible.)

        Maybe imagine that thought is like a ladybug you found on your computer. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not helping anything by being there, so you just gently put it outside.
        (Now I just need to take my own advice!)

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Your friend is gonna do what they gotta do, and the company is gonna do what they want to do.
      Not your circus or your monkey.

    4. NicoleK*

      Does your friend’s boss care? I had a coworker #1 who routinely came in tardy (30 mins up to 2 hours). Coworker # 2 routinely left 1-2 hours early. Boss was either clueless or didn’t care.

      Either way, it’s not your problem.

  57. just a small town girl*

    need some advice on this situation:

    I’m the assistant to a very small department; our director and one peer who I’m slightly senior to who is in a production role, for both internal and external customers. My peer has the flu this week so my director and I (mostly me, because I have more time to do it) have been covering for her.

    The issue is two-fold. My peer, Michelle, is a great person but she’s a people-pleaser to the absolute core. Like, give you the shirt off her back because you said it was cute(and that’s not a fanciful exaggeration, she literally offered me her blouse because I said I liked the color). She struggles to get everything done in her position, because anytime someone walks in and says “hey, can I get a couple teapots this afternoon?” she drops the other teapot jobs she’s working on to help this person. And she likes to talk with people, and she tends to over-explain everything. She cannot say no, even when she has the right and should be following the rules that say you need to turn in teapot orders ten days in advance. She’ll say okay and take the order and stress about getting it done in one day. Even though our director has flat out told her to stop bending the rules, she’s literally incapable of telling people no, and will disobey and just not say anything when she starts to get snowed under and instead work insane hours to do everything which gets us all in trouble.

    All that leads to jobs backing up for months, things not getting done, etc. Most internal customers have learned to just deal with it, but it definitely reflects badly on our department, not to mention what it looks like to external customers. She just has no sense of time management or prioritization or…anything like that.

    So this week while she’s been out, I’ve cleared out the entire backlog of jobs that have been pending, including some which have been waiting since early December. All while only spending probably 60% of my time in her area working on these. People who waited a month for their teapots were shocked when I delivered them the first day I was taking care of her job, and I passed it off that the hard work had already been done, I just needed to polish the paint, though that wasn’t 100% true.

    My boss is aware of her shortcomings, and her and I have had many talks about how we can help Michelle, how we can address the internal image of this department(which we’re all new to), and how to get things on track.

    Is there anything I can do to be more supportive to my boss about how to address Michelle’s issues? Is there anything I can do at all to help this, or should I just stick to doing what I can when I can and let my director handle the hard stuff of dealing with it?

    Frankly, I’m concerned that my director needs to have a come to jesus moment and let Michelle know in no uncertain terms she needs to follow the rules, turn jobs away when she’s got too much on her plate, go to time management training and then implement it, etc. and set consequences if she can’t get there. I just don’t know if that will happen.

    1. em_eye*

      I don’t think there’s a lot you can do.

      Except, you can back up your manager if Michelle talks about her meetings with her to you. If she’s like, “Boss told me I need to manage my time better again, but people keep coming in with more orders, what am I going to do?” I think you can say, “I know you’re really overwhelmed, but can I actually share some advice that’s helped me prioritize things? I’ve noticed you do X, I used to struggle with that too, but it helped me to do Y.”

      If you’re already doing that and it’s not helping, then there’s probably nothing you can do. Just make sure you get credit when you do cover for her.

      1. just a small town girl*

        I definitely do that now; unfortunately Michelle is so flighty that I don’t think it sticks. I also try to underline that our boss is, y’know, our boss, that it’s not a great idea in the long run to ignore what she says, there is a reason why she does it, etc.

        But it’s hard because Michelle was, in another life, a retail manager, and I suspect she’s not used to having a boss who cares about anything, or is willing to help.

    2. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      Oh geez. I don’t have much advice, unless you can put a sign on her desk saying “DO NOT ASK MICHELLE TO DO ANYTHING. PLEASE SEND ALL REQUESTS THROUGH (SUPERVISOR).”
      Or unless her boss is willing to check in with her constantly (at least once a day?) to redirect her and do a “Michelle, why did you start working on X, I told you you yesterday you needed to be working on A.”

      Does she do good work when she actual does work? If that’s the case, it might be worth making it so requests never go to her–her boss is the *only* person who gives her instructions. But that’s a lot on the boss, and so it would really need to be worth it.

      1. just a small town girl*

        Honestly, both of those options have been tried sort of actually! When she gets snowed under a lot and our boss gets wind of it, she hand writes a sign that says “Any jobs given to Michelle will be done x days later, minimum, thank you for understanding, *boss’s name*”. Unfortunately eventually it disappears, either because Michelle takes it down because she thinks she’s no longer busy, or if someone else does or if our boss does, I’m not entirely sure. Things can’t always go directly to boss though because she has to travel a lot and isn’t always in a position to take everything.
        Similarly she has a “check in” every day with Michelle to go over what Michelle is doing and she does try to redirect her but…she doesn’t always take it.

        She does really good work! Part of what slows her down is that she’s a perfectionist. For example. She went back and forth with an internal customer about the translation of lettering the customer wanted engraved in a second language that Michelle speaks, and she caught a couple of mistakes in it that she wanted the OK to fix. That’s great! But it added time and complication to the job.

        1. Please stop making changes in prod*

          It sounds like from now on all requests should go through you or boss for approval. I would say you could handle it to support Boss if you have insight into the backlog of requests and you can ask Boss if you have something you think DOES need to be done because of the stakeholder or requester involved. Implementing an approval process might help and enforcing that its unacceptable to go around that process…though you’ll have to be wary of people going around you straight to her.

          The most damaging part of this is your coworker has now set expectations that its acceptable to make these last minute requests and that they will be fulfilled on the drop of a hat. You’ll have to work with the management of other depts that make these requests to make sure they’re aware and to manage their expectations about last-minute turnaround time going forwards.

      2. just a small town girl*

        Saying all that out loud (or, well, typing it) is just giving me SO much trouble because dear god Michelle is insubordinate beyond belief. Like it’s so easy to overlook as it’s happening but she frequently flies in the face of direct instruction.

        I care for her as a person and I don’t think she’ll get fired because our boss is new to management, a nice person, doesn’t wanna be the one who fires people but…she probably does need to get some perspective about what could happen if she just…ignores her boss. That’s Not. What. You. Do!