open thread – February 7-8, 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.

{ 1,577 comments… read them below }

  1. No Sitting!*

    Everybody stand-up! Can others here speak to how stand-up meetings have gone for them? What makes those meetings successful? How frequently did you have them? 
    My team could use more direction with prioritization and they also do silo’d work so this seems a good way to get them interacting a bit more.
    What are other ways besides stand-up meetings that other managers help their team prioritize? I meet with them individually and we discuss what they have coming up for the week. I will indicate if I want them to do one thing ahead of the other, but there are things that come up that  bump what was previously discussed and I want the most efficient way to get us all on the same page. 

    1. Dragoning*

      We used to have these meetings where I work, and finally discontinued them as a waste of time. We have a schedule in Excel that updates three or four times a day (we have an international department, so this winds up being about every four hours or so) that highlights when things got to us, when things are due, and which things are due ASAP (but before this other thing also due ASAP). So we use that instead.

    2. GigglyPuff*

      Like do you mean intentional stand-up only meetings? That sounds like a nightmare (versus impromptu office/hallway meetings)

      1. rayray*

        My old office didn’t have an adequate conference or meeting room for everyone, so usually about 8 people or so would be sitting and the rest standing. Standing for 30-60+ minutes along the edges of the room while we go over boring information that didn’t apply to most of us, along with people who don’t hold their questions till the end so we got sidetracked the whole time…yes, it was a nightmare.

      1. DataGirl*

        me either. At first I thought OP meant making everyone stand for the whole meeting, which would be awful for someone like me with physical limitations. But from the context I don’t think that’s what it means, lol.

          1. Parenthetically*

            In my experience “stand-up meeting” just means “super short meeting” — it’s a euphemism every place I’ve heard it to let people know this isn’t going to require getting a cup of coffee and a notebook and settling in for a half hour, but just popping in to Conference Room A for 5 minutes while Betsy and Ed run through a couple of bullet points for the big client meeting this afternoon.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          I think if you have significant physical limitations that should be accounted for in the process. Our stand-up meetings are once a week and last about 4 minutes. They don’t really tax anyone so far as I’m aware, but if they did, it would certainly not break the spirit of the gathering for that person to access, say, a nearby stool.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Yeah… but forcing people to choose between being in discomfort or making public medical issues which they’d rather not is not a good thing. It also may be temporary. You may not yet want to tell your boss. And even when you do – as I had to because the pain finally became enough – then it’s not ideal to have one person bringing over a chair while everyone else stands in a circle.

            1. Annony*

              Yep. This would be my hell. I look perfectly healthy but I actually am physically unable to stand still and remain conscious. Most people don’t know. I am good at making sure I have a seat or cutting a conversation off in the hall after a couple minutes. I son’t want to choose between possibly passing out or drawing attention to myself by being there only one sitting down.

            2. Oh No She Di'int*

              So I guess I’m not clear on why this activity would be singled out as especially evil.

              If I ask my assistant to make a photocopy of the client dossiers every time one comes in, that implies standing at the photocopier (which is in full public view) for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Is such a request therefore out of bounds because someone might have problems standing that they haven’t told me about? After all such a person would be forced to make their medical issues public if anyone saw them sitting down.

              What if I ask someone to realphabetize all the books on the top shelf of the office library, but they have mobility problems that limit how high they can raise their arms? Making such a request would again force them to publicize medical issues. You could go on and on: type up this letter, “I’ve got nerve problems in my wrist”; read this online article, “I have eye problems that make it impossible to look at a screen for more than 15 minutes”; and so on.

              My question is how do you know what’s safe to ask people for in light of the fact that anyone could have a medical issue that you don’t know about? And why is a 4-minute stand-up meeting more dastardly than any other request? At some point, if one has physical limitations that keep you from doing the normal work of the business, one has to disclose those limitations if one expects them to be accommodated, no?

              1. big_time*

                I agree with everything you wrote! I’m very much an advocate for accommodating requests and requirements, and I do try to think critically about whether a practice is creating a barrier that I might not be aware of. But there comes a point where you simply cannot anticipate everything. If you take the stand-up meeting example: say you decide to make it a sit-down meeting instead, just in case. What about the person who has medical issues going from sitting to standing? Are you now forcing that person to disclose?

                I guess I also don’t the criticism of offering that someone can bring a stool if they needs to (the criticism being that you’re forcing them to be public about their need to sit). Is the answer then just not having the meeting at all? That seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

            3. Koala dreams*

              A sit down meeting does the same thing. Some people can only sit for limited time, or need a special chair to be able to sit. I think a stand up meeting would be an improvement in many offices, since most people prefer to vary between sitting down and standing up. So if you have both type of meetings, it’s more likely people can be accomodated. It also normalize both types for when you have people who can’t do one or the other.

              1. Koala dreams*

                By the way, I have a story from class about this. It was a huge class, and the teacher at the front asked in the mic for the student standing in the back of the room to please sit down. That poor student had to scream back (because the room was so big) that they had hurt their back and needed to stand, because it hurt too much to sit.

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            Yup. I mostly would be fine standing for a brief meeting, and no worse off than anyone else for a longer meeting. But I have gone through bad back periods, up to and including full-blown sciatica. Standing for even a brief meeting would, depending on how bad the bad was, anything from excruciating to physically impossible.

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        It’s mostly in IT – the idea is that everyone in team (usualy agile) will say what they did yesterday, what they aim to do today, and any issues they’ve got. Team then knows where everyone is and may be able to offer support or solutions.

        One issue that they have is that they are done standing up to encourage people to be brief… basically “stop talking quickly or be in pain”. Which is problematic on its own, and then you add in invisible disabilities which someone may wish to STAY invisible… yeah, they’re not great. A quick get together to cover the questions of what did… what going to do… what is stopping me… is good though. Just don’t make people stand! (Nothing in either scrum or agile manifesto that says you have to ;) )

        1. Mama Bear*

          Right, though I would give my boss stink eye if they did that “everybody plank” nonsense that I’ve seen online. Most of our “stand ups” were really “sit downs” or online Skype meetings/calls.

        2. Lygeia*

          Oh wow, this is my nightmare! I have one of those invisible disabilities. Standing kills me (I have chronic back pain from a spine condition related to a genetic disorder). More than a couple of minutes of standing makes me VERY uncomfortable. More than 15 minutes, and I am in pain. These kind of tactics are so misguided! If you want to hurry up a meeting then have a meeting with clearly defined parameters and someone with the authority and willingness to keep things on track!

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            It’s horrible. I eventually had to start bringing my chair to them, and it is as embarrassing and awkward as you could imagine, even with sympathetic boss.

          2. Mel 2*

            Same – fibromyalgia fun. A few years back at a previous job, my boss suggested turning our weekly meetings into walks, so that we could all walk around outside while discussing the topics. Everyone was pretty excited about the idea, until I had to flat out burst everyone’s bubble by saying there was no way I could participate (especially because we were on a hilly campus). Even though everyone already knew about my disability, it did not feel great having to be the person to shoot down an idea others were excited about.

          3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

            A few years ago, a major multinational corporation decided to remove all chairs from meeting rooms as the average manager spent 35+ hours a week in long meetings. The new CEO thought this was not the most effective way to manage, so all meetings were to be brief and stand-up only. Longer agendas had to be split into one-topic sections. Each meeting had to have a stated objective, agenda, (minimal) attendee list, and time limit.
            In a culture where long, rambling, less-than-focused meetings were the norm (people falling asleep in meetings was commonplace), this was a revolution.
            He mellowed a bit after a year or two, but most meeting rooms still have a circle of lecterns rather than a traditional table with chairs.

        3. Admin of Sys*

          I mean, our general reasoning for stand up meetings is it keeps folks from bringing their laptop and doing other work things during the meeting. (also, we don’t have enough meeting rooms and have a small team). But yeah, during my recovery from a foot injury, the ‘stand up’ meeting included me in a wheeled chair, which was a bit awkward.

        4. theletter*

          I’m on a team that does a lot of stands – I can attest that very few people actually stand during Stand, it’s now just a way to illustrate the point – the meeting is for cross-functional teams to quickly catch each other up on interlocking projects, with the idea that people can extend the meeting with specific teammates if they suddenly realize they need to work together.

      3. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        A few years ago, a major multinational corporation decided to remove all chairs from meeting rooms as the average manager spent 35+ hours a week in long meetings. The new CEO thought this was not the most effective way to manage, so all meetings were to be brief and stand-up only. Longer agendas had to be split into one-topic sections. Each meeting had to have a stated objective, agenda, (minimal) attendee list, and time limit.
        In a culture where long, rambling, less-than-focused meetings were the norm (people falling asleep in meetings was commonplace), this was a revolution.
        He mellowed a bit after a year or two, but most meeting rooms still have a circle of lecterns rather than a traditional table with chairs.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I had one boss say he used stand-up meetings, because he wanted to make sure the meetings would be short (presumably because people wouldn’t want to stand for too long). What ended up happening instead was long meetings where everyone’s legs were tired afterwards.

      Whether meetings are stand-up or sit-down, I think these are the components of a successful meeting:
      1. There is a clear agenda, and when that agenda finishes, the meeting ends, even if there’s still time left in the booked slot (e.g., if you plan for the meeting to be an hour, but the agenda is completed in 15 minutes, don’t keep talking for 45 minutes).
      2. There has to be a reason the meeting has to be a meeting. Are we discussing something? Do we need everyone there to have a voice? If it’s just authority-figure-dispensing-information, then send that in an email.
      3. Don’t allow the loudest people to dominate the meeting. Make sure all voices are heard.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        All of this.

        The “what I did – what I’m doing – what is blocking me” is a valuable thing to do!

        1. Windchime*

          It is, unless what you say is used as a weapon against you later, which was what happened in my old job. We had crazy unreasonable deadlines, ill-defined projects, and developers who were responsible for ETL, acting as DBA, doing architect duties, writing reports, and managing the release process. And they wondered why we couldn’t get anything done in a 2 week sprint.

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        Number 2 is a particular peeve of mine. I suspect that often the person in authority is unwilling or unable to compose a coherent email, so wastes people’s time getting them all in a room together so he and ramble on instead. Pure dispensing-information meetings only rarely are the better way to do this.

      3. Hiding From My Boss*

        Three cheers for “don’t allow the loudest dominate.” My boss recently hired a pushy loudmouth and is constantly praising her enthusiasm. The woman never shuts up and she bellows like a bullhorn. In meetings she holds forth and talks and talks and talks and talks. Brand-new to the co. so of COURSE she knows all about how things ought to be and she’s going to tell us how to do it right (not in any way her job). Wish I could give examples, but I don’t want to rat myself out here!

    4. SoapiestEagle35*

      My work does stand-up meetings on a weekly basis, lead by our general manager. I find it’s a great way to check in on upcoming business, travel plans for managers/people being out of the office and can also be great tool for people to all be on the same page. I find it also allows people to ask questions and can give our general manager the opportunity to check in with the group as a whole. The meetings never last more than 10-15 minutes but provide a little bit of transparency that we didn’t have before.

    5. ST*

      My previous workplace did standups with the leadership team for awhile – it worked great for a bit but then became just another annoying thing with people routinely having “more important” things to do … since people were often missing it, it became pointless and ended.

      But I’m sure there’s a way to do it better! I think any sort of accountability would help (something lacking at that workplace).

    6. Mama Bear*

      Scrums should be focused, short, and the scrum master should be good at herding cats. It depended on the project, but 3x a week scrums worked for most things. Fifteen minutes to say what you were working on, status of that task, and any blockers you had. If you and another teammate needed to talk about a task, that was “offline”. It may also be useful to have a team Kanban board or Trello or some other tracking system to move tasks and evaluate bottlenecks. Scrums/stand-ups are for triage.

      1. No Sitting!*

        From reading all of these, and knowing my team and duties, I’m thinking about a stand-up only once a week. I have tried Trello and so far, haven’t had the time to devote to making it work for our team and so stand-up meetings seemed easier. But you’re right that having both of those things could play nicely together.

        1. TechWorker*

          We have them daily and it works fine, but no-one talks for anywhere near 15minutes! It’s very much a brief discussion, if there’s anything that requires long discussion you take it to a different, sit down meeting. We use it both for project tracking and to point out who the most useful person to help is (eg person a says ‘I hit a problem with software y I didn’t understand’ and person b can jump in and be like ‘oh I looked at that a few weeks ago, grab me after’)

          1. Oh No She Di'int*

            Yeah, my reaction to all these descriptions of meetings going on for half an hour every day is: You’re doing it wrong!

        2. A Poster Has No Name*

          Yeah, it totally depends on your team and/or project and your cadence. I have one project where a daily standup is necessary, but another where we meet 2x a week. Teams should be adjusting their meeting schedule to meet the needs of the team, not just meeting every day for meeting’s sake.

    7. Western Rover*

      We have daily stand-up meetings, but only of people working on the same product. Anyone working on a different product will be in a different stand-up even if working for the same manager. Sometimes they start to drag (i.e. one person speaking for more than 3-4 minutes), in which case the manager reminds us to focus on just talking about what may be blocking our forward progress.

    8. Minocho*

      We do daily stand ups for larger projects. The basic format is everyone goes over the following:

      1. What you did yesterday
      2. What you plan to do today
      3. Bring up any roadblocks

      With a group of 6-7, it takes us about 5 minutes usually. Sometimes more, if there’s an issue. With a group of about 15 people, it generally took about 15 minutes. It’s crucial to not get involved in tangential discussions, and anything that requires a deeper dive should be handled in a separately scheduled (and more focused) meeting.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        You beat me to it. A daily stand-up is NOT supposed to be announcements. Those can go into an email.

        Please pardon the ranty tone. I’m a certified scrum master and I’ve seen too many teams think they’re using Agile because they have daily stand-up meetings and they’re basically getting updates from one person.

    9. NW Mossy*

      I do a daily stand-up with my team that’s usually 5-10 minutes – our agenda covers key communications, what’s in the pipeline, and a little discussion about any priority items or roadblocks that are impacting their work. I’ll also share a bit about what I’m working on over in boss-land where it’s relevant. This works best with a team that already has good judgment about priorities, because they’ll then use the meeting as the platform to ask for help or raise an impending issue.

      If you’re concerned about your team prioritizing incorrectly, that’s a whole separate thing and you won’t get much out of stand-ups until you’ve laid a foundation for what good prioritization looks like.

      1. No Sitting!*

        I have a person on my team who came from this kind of environment. But to hear him talk about it, that is where he got his tasks prioritized for the day from his leadership. I… don’t want to prioritize my employee’s tasks every day. And sounds like that isn’t the goal of a stand-up ideally.

        But I’m finding that he doesn’t have the skills to do it himself and I thought have the same meetings (though less frequently) might bridge that gap while he learns more about our norms/cycles of work (he’s only been here 4 months)

        I’m not attempting to fix one person’s issue with these. I do think the rest of my team could benefit as well. I need to consider other options though.

        1. NW Mossy*

          Yeah, I don’t think his previous leadership was doing stand-ups right if his reporting of it is accurate. They’re supposed to be for the team to drive the discussion, not the boss.

          Sounds like you probably need a hybrid approach here – stand-ups plus some targeted 1-on-1 coaching with your newer employee. It would likely help him to explicitly walk him through the process of how to prioritize and what factors you want him to consider when evaluating his workload, because you probably weight those factors differently than his previous role. A very direct 30-minute conversation will help him skip the trial-and-error phase, as well as help you see how quickly he can incorporate direct feedback.

        2. M*

          Just throwing in a stand-up meeting that doesn’t fit the needs of most of your team isn’t going to help the one employee learn to self-prioritise, and it’s wasting everyone else’s time in the process unless there’s an actual need they’re going to fill. It sounds like you have an employee who’s used to an environment without a lot of autonomy, and who needs to adjust to an environment with more autonomy. That’s a 1-on-1 coaching issue, where he needs to be given tools and guidance to learn to prioritise himself, not given a crutch to hold out for once a week.

          1. M*

            (This is one of the more irritating features of management fads like stand-up meetings. There *are* real reasons to do them, in specific circumstances where management has certain goals. But they’re not a panacea that lets you avoid doing actual dynamic management, they’re just one (rather limited) tool.

            If your team needs to coordinate regularly, and is blowing out the meetings you use to do that, try a stand-up. Don’t try a stand-up because one person can’t prioritise their own workflow.

    10. EGA*

      I was on a team that was starting a new, high pressure project where the team was made up of individuals across two organizations. We set daily end of day stand-ups (15 minutes max) which was actually super helpful for keeping people on the same page, easy scheduling, and often having access to higher-ups who were otherwise hard to get in touch with. I can’t imagine having these the whole length of the project, but first the first 3 months, it was helpful to have a daily touch point and a great form of accountability.

    11. AndersonDarling*

      I left a job where they started doing stand up meetings. They were a symptom of an overall dysfunctional department where they were trying any trendy management method they heard. It was a bad idea because everyone worked independently, so there was no reason to take 30 minutes every day to say what you were working on. It just turned into half the team trying to one-up everyone on how important or difficult their projects were, and the other half just saying 5 words so the meeting could be done faster.

      1. Andytron*

        Ugh, I had this problem. I actually love stand-ups when they are used appropriately (see the examples in other comments above), but when it’s just a shiny new thing management heard about it’s a disaster. Also see Agile approaches being forced on workflows that are not meant for Agile, something that would be obvious if they read the intro to any actual book about Agile.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Do you specifically mean an agile daily scrum? A daily scrum is supposed to less than 15 minutes and each person on the scrum team has to answer the three questions.
      – What have you completed since the last meeting?
      – What do you plan to complete by the next meeting?
      – What is getting in your way?
      Anything more that those details (like how to resolve what is getting in your way) is supposed to be discussed in another meeting with only the necessary people and not everyone.

      I concerned that you are just talking about holding a meeting while standing up and you don’t have much of a plan.

      The military has for a very long time held meetings called (daily or weekly) stand-ups which in my experience were not held standing up but was a status update from the leadership of each of the sections of the unit.

      1. Colette*

        Yes, I run three of those a day. They’re usually closer to 3 or 4 minutes, and are strictly focused on the tasks we’ve committed to doing in our current sprint. (People can choose to sit if they want; most people stand.)

    13. SomebodyElse*

      I like how my boss runs his leadership meetings. Essentially everyone gets 3 bullets to tell the team what their priorities are (we do ours weekly), and anyone can nominate something for the real time agenda that we talk about as a group.

      The top 3 is meant to be a quick update without detail

      No Sitting: “My top three are closing out the month, team performance appraisals, and focusing on Milestone 3 of my paper clip sorting project”
      SomebodyElse: “My top 3 are recruiting for my 2 open positions, the automated grouse grooming patch release, and requirments gathering for my binder clip sorting project. Can we add the paper clip project to the real time agenda, between that my binder clip project and Fergus’ thumbtack project, we might be able to collaborate”

      Real Time Agenda items should be things that are affect multiple people/functions or that the team should be aware of.

      Otherwise as the manager you need to set the priorities for the team and in some cases multiple members will have inputs but not necessarily others. So focus in these meetings on the overall priorities and less on the individual priorities if your team is cross functional/silo’d.

    14. Lora*

      I have only seen these work really well in manufacturing. Which is what Toyota originally intended them for, and they are wonderful for this purpose. It was basically 20 minutes at each shift change, where everyone huddles around the task list, task schedules, and the floor supervisors lead the “here’s what needs done, here’s what was done already and who did it, here’s who will be picking up, do each of you have enough resources to do these things or do you need something, [group] has two people out sick so can someone please volunteer to help them?” agenda. But it’s all over quickly and it’s pretty efficient and everyone is clear and accountable to the other people.

      When I’ve seen it done anywhere OTHER than manufacturing shift changes, it is a friggin horrorshow. Either the person setting the schedule a bad time (see: Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule), or the meeting isn’t tightly controlled and turns into a multiple-hours-long complaint-airing finger-pointing sh!tshow, or it’s just not organized and takes too long.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        If you have a field where the workers show up not knowing what they will do that day, then yes, of course you need some way to tell them, and if groups of workers are going to be doing the same thing that day, telling them in a group makes sense. This is not my experience with daily meetings.

        Many many years ago I worked in a Walmart. There was a daily meeting first thing in the morning. Ostensibly it was to disseminate information. This clearly was not serious, as there were no equivalent meetings for later shifts. Its real purpose as a pep rally, complete with the “Walmart cheer.” In practice there were the handful of people who buy into that, and a large mass of people who recognized this as ridiculous and insulting and did the absolute minimum until we were allowed to actually start getting something useful done.

      2. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yeah to wherever you have shifts (hospital, drilling rig, ship, security, factory etc.) – people coming on shift do not know what changed between their end of shift and now. In an office, most work is still in the shape you left it; in a shift organization, not so much.

    15. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      OldJob did those when I first started there, except they called them “huddles”. They were very effective until the team grew in size, and we got a couple of new teammates who LOVED to hear the sound of their own voice. The standups grew from 15 minutes to 50 and that was the end of our standups. At the time when they still worked well for us, we’d all take turns saying briefly what we worked on yesterday, what we planned on working on today, and whether we had any questions for the team or needed anyone on the team’s help. That would ensure that no two people are accidentally working on the same thing or undoing each other’s work, and that people get help and suggestions when they need it. This was before slack and group chats so was probably a more needed tool then than it is now. That was also before offshore and remote work, and at a company where everyone worked at the same location, which again was more conducive to a good standup than my current workplace would be, for example.

    16. Newton Geiszler*

      We do a daily stand-up modeled after agile. This works really well for us because even though we work independently, all of our work depends on the progress of other people in the team, so I can plan better knowing that a coworker is about to pass something to me. If we weren’t essentially working in an assembly line, I wouldn’t want to do them!

      The rules we stick to are along these lines:
      -Same time every day (for our work, it makes sense to do this at the end of the day)
      -Allowing people to skip if they’re in the middle of a meeting/phone call/etc but making sure to catch up with them once they’re available
      -Having a list of tasks/projects easily visible or accessible (we have a giant white board where we write our initials next to the projects we’re currently working on)
      -Keep it short! (10 minutes MAX) If someone is rambling about something that doesn’t affect most of the team, it’s okay to cut them off and pick it up with them individually after the meeting.
      -When our manager wants us to re-prioritize, he puts us into groups to talk to after stand-up. (Ie, “llama teapot team, we’re going to redistribute projects. Please stay for a minute.”)
      -Have some chairs around! Even though the meetings are really short and we tend to literally stand-up, sometimes people just need to sit.

    17. RecoveringSWO*

      My most toxic job had 2 daily stand-up meetings in the morning and at the end of the day. The team members had separate responsibilities and the nature of the work meant that it was common to have fires to put out that 1) stopped other preplanned work and 2) kept you working late. Unfortunately, the boss waited until the last team member was done for the day to have the end of day stand up meeting. So you went into the end of day meeting either stressed from putting out a fire or twiddling your thumbs waiting (jobs didn’t overlap enough to be actually helpful with others’ fires).
      My next job had a morning stand up and while it wasn’t the most efficient use of time, it felt much better. Other’s comments on using tracking systems and ensuring that one party isn’t monopolizing the meeting time are on point. I would try to avoid daily stand ups, because there will be lots of lost time (especially on particular days when there’s nothing important to discuss). But if you have to schedule them, I suggest the morning when it’s least likely to interrupt workflow.

    18. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’m now having flashbacks to when I worked for a large bank, and we had scripted daily stand-up meetings. Our manager would print out the daily meeting script (2 sided 8×11 page) and read it to us. It was like being back in middle school and having the teacher read the announcements. (It included, like, little facts about the bank, things about bank-wide initiatives and such, and was not customized to the actual group I was working with. I can’t remember if it was bank-wide or just for the lending part of the bank, but it certainly did not contain anything related to our jobs or even collections more generally.)

      We eventually decided to start playing dice games immediately after this “standing” meeting to make it more rewarding (we’d hold this meeting in a cubicle aisle, and we’d usually end up sitting in a combination of nearby chairs and on the floor). So, that’s the story of how when I worked in mortgage foreclosure, I got to spend some time every day playing dice-based games usually associated with gambling as part of a meeting. (We’d play until somebody “won” and then all go back to work.)

      So…don’t do that, because every part of that was pretty terrible?

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This is a classic example of why information-dissemination meetings are terrible. Hand me that script and I can read it in two minutes, if I go slowly. That it was full of irrelevant filler makes it even worse.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Last week I had to go to a meeting at my child’s school that could have been an email. It involved dragging three children out in the car after dark, not to mention having to have dinner early, and when it was all wrapped up within twenty minutes with no questions I could have screamed.

          If it isn’t collaborative, it doesn’t need to be a meeting.

    19. Junior Dev*

      I would not make people physically stand up—others have explained how “limit the time of the meeting to how long people feel comfortable standing” discriminates against people with chronic pain or other disabilities.

      I would provide a template that ensures people give enough info but do not ramble on. Two stand up failure modes I have seen are “people ramble forever about stuff that no one else cares about” and “people just fire off the Jira ticket ID in a circle, which is totally uninformative.” Maybe a couple questions like: “what are you working on today, and is there anything you might want to discuss with your coworkers on that work?”

      I would add other means besides stand up to address the siloing. We have this on my team now and the weekly meetings we have that are similar to standup but longer do not solve it. I would 1) ask people to write documentation (can frame it as “if you had to take a month off work, would people be able to figure out what to do to continue your job?”) 2) shadow each other/pair program in some way, 3) give them extra time to do the above things. If people are siloed it is probably because they don’t have time to teach each other about their work and you need to actively address that problem—maybe ask, “what can I do to support you or take things off your plate as you work on this?”

    20. Lemon Squeezy*

      I’m in tech. We have a daily standup, typically around five minutes. Essentially what I did yesterday + what I am doing today + any roadblocks and calling out if I’ll need to speak with someone after the meeting/ask for help on a subject.

      We also have a weekly backlog grooming/prioritization meeting. This is a good time to ask what needs to be placed in higher priority, and explain your thinking in order to get everyone on the same page and beginning to synchronize.

      1. Chauncy Gardner*

        With one of my accounting teams we did a daily standup during the monthly close process, If anyone needed to sit, we did it around their cube. It lasted 5-10 minutes, just to ensure everyone was coordinated. It worked really well.

    21. Half-Caf Latte*

      I have two thoughts:

      1) I’d be annoyed AF if I had to (literally or figuratively) stand around listening to other people figure out their priorities when my work was not related/impacted. (assuming that’s what you mean by silo’d).

      2) What is your goal in getting them to interact more? Seems like maybe it’s “because they should” or “because they don’t now”. What will it accomplish?

    22. The Ginger Ginger*

      I’ve done daily and MWF standups, and it really depends on the work your team is doing and what pace it’s happening at. Standup format is designed for small teams and fast updates. Essentially a place to hand off projects to the next step in the work, identify roadblocks for later discussion, flag questions for product owners/stakeholders, keep stakeholders updated on status, and let PMO know if you need more work for the day. (All that is accomplished with the what I did yesterday, what I’m doing today, roadblocks/questions format). If you’re working on a project where a lot of work happens in a short amount of time, these regular meetings are great to make sure everyone knows where all the pieces are and if anything’s falling behind.

      They should happen in the morning, last no more than 15 minutes, and should not be a place for extended discussion of any of the issues that pop up. That should happen between concerned parties “offline”. Typically the project manager in my team reserves the room for the whole half hour, stand up ends in 10 minutes, and anyone who needs to stick around to hash things out uses the room for the last 20 minutes.

      And we have people in ours who aren’t able to stand so they sit. The format is designed to keep people focused not cause pain. Like everything with agile, it should be adapted to best fit your team and the work you’re doing.

    23. Windchime*

      I think we were probably doing them wrong, but I found them to be a huge waste of time. At first, we just all went around and said what we were working on (same thing as yesterday). Then when we got a new manager, stand-up was used as a way to put people on the spot and make them feel bad about not making progress on issues that they had no control over. I’m really, really glad that my current job doesn’t do daily huddles or stand-ups. Instead, we have a weekly 30 minute meeting with our BA/project manager and review our outstanding tickets. It seems to work well for us.

    24. pcake*

      I can’t begin to imagine why forcing people to stand through a meeting would help prioritize anything. And if management can’t control the length of the meetings, wouldn’t it be easier to just give everyone a limited amount of time to speak or a required format for reports?

      Btw, I have a long term ankle issue. Standing still for more than a couple minutes not only hurts but starts to unbalance me. No one ever notices except when I have to use stairs or stand still for more than two or three minutes, so this standing meeting thing would be a problem for me. But what about someone who’s just gotten over the flu or was up all night with food poisoning or a noisy neighbor or sick child? Making them stand seems pretty awful.

    25. fhqwhgads*

      In my experience stand-ups have very little to do with prioritization. Stand-ups are “what I did yesterday, what I’m going to do today, and any blockers”. Everyone speaks very briefly and the whole thing doesn’t take more than 15 minutes. I’ve worked places that did them daily and places that did them MWF. It does keep people in the loop about what others are doing, and allows people to connect to attempt to remove blockers from each other. But if you have prioritization issues, that a different kettle of fish probably suited to a different format.

    26. Kiwiii*

      We have MWF stand ups with only our team to discuss where we’re at. This is mostly to keep each other apprised of work we’re doing and the general mood of our different clients, and also to ask for advice or some hours from someone in person and for general updates from our manager. We have a M/TH stand up with my team and the two teams we were closely with, this is usually more about large scale projects and expectations, and loops my team into what the more technical team might be prioritizing and if we can expect work to come our way. None of the meetings are very long — the MWF usually go about 15-20 mins, the M/TH usually more like 30.

    27. Leela*

      Game studio did as follows:

      Here’s what got done yesterday, and I’ve passed it to (whoever in the circle takes your work once finished, if applicable).

      Here’s what I’m working on today

      Here’s what’s blocking me or what could potentially get in my way, does anyone have input on that (can someone take the extra load, can someone unblock whatever program issue is in my way, etc).

      I found it pretty effective!It was short, free of judgement, and we caught a lot of stuff with this format that we wouldn’t always have because if you say “how are things going?” everyone says “fine!” not realizing that you’re asking for details you can help them untangle. We also identified strong problem solvers this way, and who was good at mentoring

    28. CM*

      I think this kind of thing works well when everyone’s collaborating on the same project(s). In my case, we tried it and it was weird and boring and unfocused, because pretty much no one was working on the same thing.

      For a while, I tried a different thing where, just on Mondays, people were supposed to email our project management software with a message summarizing what they did last week and what their priorities were this week, just so we could all see how things were progressing and know ahead of time if someone was going to be unavailable certain days. I actually do think that was a good solution, but most of the team kept “forgetting” to do it, and chasing them around took more time than the standup meeting had. :(

    29. Chaordic One*

      They seem to work fine in my current job in a call center. They typically last only 5 minutes, and 7 would be long. I’ve never seen one last longer than 10. They only problem is that there are always a few people who get caught up in long-winded phone calls who can’t make them and my boss has to repeat what was discussed, but doing that is not usually a big deal.

    30. larelah*

      I manage part-timers who job share and I’m part-time as well so face to face meetings are hard with everyone.

      We have a page in one note that syncs and use the tags system in it to assign work to each other / prioritise it / leave “FYI” notes. so when people come in on their day they can click “find tags” on the page and there’s their list of things to do and priority levels, plus quick notes from me / copies of relevant emails so they can come in and hit the ground running. Since we’ve done that it’s been a huge help and takes very little time for all of us to keep up to date.

      even better – i’m a government department so need tech to be able to use on our (very locked down) IT system – this one does.

    31. Bemused*

      Most of the “stand-up” meetings I have attended have been jokes, but that is because they have been used for the wrong purposes. Managers and team leaders have used them for status updates and announcements as well as opportunities to discuss particular problems or to review team-related reporting documentation. At one standup, we watched as our supervisor reviewed a master project reporting list line by line, reading out the entries. We had no clue why, but probably no one wanted to interrupt because we wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Unless all of the participants are working together on a project, it’s just another excuse for a meeting. At least the standups are supposed to be timeboxed, so I have an excuse to leave when a meeting starts to run over.

    32. COBOL Dinosaur*

      We do standup meetings but it’s part of following agile project management methodology. I am on 1 scrum team and on kanban team. They are each a different flavor of agile.

  2. Sunflower*

    Looking for advice on strategically searching for sales jobs.

    Using the terms ‘sales’ or ‘business development’ brings up a boat load of jobs and a lot of them aren’t what I’m looking for (like commission only). I’m specifically looking for a job that would be focused on meeting and pitches at client sites and external events meeting with clients. There’s just so much to wade through and there’s gotta be better search terms or ways to cut out a lot of the search results. I’ve mostly stuck to searching on Indeed and LinkedIn but if I’m missing other websites please share!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Have you looked into account management jobs by chance? Those are often sales jobs that you’re aiming for.

      1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

        Definitely use the word Account.

        If you’re on LinkedIn, browse companies in your industry and see what job titles their sales people are called.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      account executive or client relationship manager are other titles that might drive the right results in your search

    3. Ranon*

      This is industry specific, but that sounds a lot like what I would call a “product rep” role in the building/ construction industry

      1. gsa*

        Yup to the “product rep” title.

        I work at a building supply store. We have a sales staff that ranges from a one person team to a team of six. The lead manages the team.

        Hard to break into…

    4. Jerry Smith*

      Account Executive, Account Manager, Strategic Development Manager and ones I’ve been seeing recently. I’ve noticed a trend where a lot of actual sales roles shy away from the word “sales”, oddly enough.

      1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

        True! I’ve even seen postings for “Marketing Manager” that we’re really for a sales role. Do they think candidates are stupid?

    5. 3DogNight*

      Account Manager is what we call them in my role. It sounds like you’re looking to manage a specific set of accounts. The fully commission roles are going to be acquisition type roles, where you are cold calling/visiting, warm at best, but with a customer that isn’t buying from your company.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I love this thread.

        It’s finally solidified that previous roles have been titled improperly. And explains…a lot. Ah hindsight!

        Now I get it, when the toxic hell sold, the new owners were shocked at what we had lumped under “Customer Service Representative”, they were like “That’s account management, wtf.” [per my former colleagues who were talking to me.] Which included a huge pay bump because hello, it’s a different role all together and not generalized much at all.

      2. NW Mossy*

        This is fascinating to me, because in my world (employee benefits), an Account Manager or Relationship Manager is someone who provides ongoing service to a client that’s already sold. The distinction between the two is that the former is based in the home office and covering day-to-day support to the client’s HR staff, while the latter is in the field meeting with the clients on strategic issues. They’re both salaried roles, and the latter also has a bonus program based on how many clients they keep year to year.

        Those who do what Sunflower’s describing (on-site pitches of prospective clients) are called X Consultants, where X is the specific benefit they sell. That said, they’re also commission-driven – not 100% commission, but mostly.

        1. Fikly*

          I feel like this can be really industry or even company specific. At my company, sales is pitching a client and everything up until a contract is signed, and client success is managing the relationship with an existing client.

          Both are salaried.

      3. Hiding From My Boss*

        My company used to use Account Executive, now it’s Counselor or Consultant.

        Job titles on job search sites can be so lame and useless. Recently I used an off-the-wall search term that turned up all kinds of interesting jobs and I saw a pattern that told me part of the crummy job title/categories on the site were due to limitations in the site’s posting template.

    6. Adlib*

      We call them Client Liaisons or Business Development. You might try searching on those terms. (Internally, we call them “rainmakers”, but I feel like that’s pretty specific to my quirky company. I’ve never searched that term!)

    7. T. Boone Pickens*

      In the SaaS world it’s broken up by

      SDRs=Sales Development Reps they identify and qualify sales opps and kick them over to Account Executives who are responsible for closing the deals and managing the pipeline. In my experience it’s extremely difficult to join a new company as an A/E unless you’ve got kickass experience.

      SDRs are sometimes classified as BDRs or Business Development Reps.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        Yup, same in my SaaS company. And then on the Customer Success side (my department), the Customer Success Managers (CSMs) handle the ongoing relationship with the client, including upsells and renewals. They aren’t on commission and it’s not heavily sales focused, but my department has a “negative churn” budget (customer churn is positive, adding product or increasing tier is negative – it’s a weird calculation) and the CSMs are a big part of making that happen.

    8. MissDisplaced*

      Hm. I work for a big tech company and we do call this role Business Development. Sometimes the words Strategic Relationship Manager. Those are different from the inside sales roles and do exactly what you’re looking for.

  3. Lovecraft Beauty*

    What’s the best way to stay in touch with a previous employer, and your former coworkers there, especially if you’d strongly consider returning to work there eventually? I don’t want to be weird, but I was close with several coworkers at my previous employer, and I’d like to remain friendly with them and keep up on the goings-on. Complicating factor: I no longer live in the same region as the employer, although I visit frequently.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve found actually visiting when you’re in town to help. Also, just normally keeping in touch. You said you were close with several co-workers… keep being close. Text or email them or write them letters… or connect on social media. Do the things you would normally do with a long-distance friend.

      1. Mrs Peaches*

        Visiting can be great. Make plans for coffee or lunch with the people you were close with, and ask if it’s a good time to stop by the office and say hello to your other former coworkers. But for the love of everything, don’t just show up unannounced. My department has a former employee who does this occasionally and it is the most annoying thing (even for the people who liked him when he worked there).

      2. Ama*

        Yes, this happens occasionally at my office — people will drop by to go to lunch with someone (a few of our most recently departed coworkers ended up at offices in the same neighborhood), or because we’re a nonprofit, sometimes they drop by or volunteer to help when we’re having a public fundraiser.

        One of my current coworkers left for another job and came back a little over a year later, and she was one of the people who kept in touch and dropped by one of our fundraisers.

      3. Laura H.*

        Seconding the visiting! I work at a different location of the same company now, but I worked 4ish years at my prior location- you can’t not develop even the barest of relationships with everybody with that sort of time.

        I schedule lunch dates semi- regularly with a former coworker and occasionally will drop a decent sized bag of popcorn off at my old location when I pop in for a quick visit, as we always were appreciative of snackage.

        I’ll get a couple of smaller bags for my current location, as there are less people at it and it’s a less snacking group. It’s still appreciated.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      We use Linkedin mostly. And my less social media colleagues use facebook or we exchange personal emails.

    3. wingmaster*

      LinkedIn and occasional texting.
      I find that Instagram is a good way to connect with my team too. We’ve been following each other through IG when I was at my former job, and it’s nice to see their stories at work or travel posts.

    4. Sharkey*

      If you weren’t Facebook friends before, I’d start there. Then a few times a year when you’re in town you can message or email and say something like, “I’m going to be in town next week – if you’re free Thursday night I’d love to grab a drink and catch up!” That way it’s all pretty low-pressure, but you’re leaving plenty of doors open for friendliness. :)

    5. Quickbeam*

      I know this is really old school but I send holiday cards (Christmas, Yule, Chanukah, Solstice…) annually to all my former managers and close colleagues. It allows me to keep in touch but not too much. Also, it gives me a current address if they have moved. Since I do it every year, I always come in under the forwarding period (US here).

      It seems to foster good will. And when I really needed references for my current job, it was a lifeline I would not have had otherwise. I also got my current job through a “Christmas card connection”.

    6. Quinalla*

      Text/email prior to coming in town and ask them to go to lunch. Email/Linkedin/text/whatever the occasional interesting industry or personal thing you see that you know they would like or have interest in (depending how close you are with people, the contact time on this will vary, but even once a year or once every couple of years can be fine for this). I’m honestly not that big into social media, but do use it some, but liking/replying/tagging to posts on whatever you are connected on can be a good low key way to stay in front of people. Reach out if you are going to an industry event/conference and see if they are going as well and make a plan to see each other there.

      Holiday cards as another said is not a bad idea, though I personally like to keep it to more neutral holidays like New Years. Also has the advantage of standing out from the still somewhat more crowded winter holiday card time.

    7. LizLemon*

      I still stay in touch with a handful of people at my old job. Usually once every 3-6 months I will send my favorite people a “catch up” email basically asking what’s new in their life, and sharing a bit going on with me (both personally and professionally). Then that results in a few email exchanges before it dies back down. And when I am nearby and have the time, which is about once or twice a year, I will stop by their work and have lunch with them.

  4. A Simple Narwhal*

    This feels like such a silly problem with a seemingly obvious solution, I’m just not quite sure how to approach.

    My team has a newish intern, and when he has questions or needs help with something he just walks up to my desk, puts his laptop down, and then starts asking his question. It’s not a big deal, but it’s kind of jarring, and he also has an uncanny talent for coming up to me when I’m eating something. In a perfect world I would love for him to either message me on our messenger before walking over (something like “hey can I ask you a question” or even just “do you have a sec”) or when he walks over to preface the question with a “is now a good time” or pretty much anything other than just plopping his computer next to me and diving right in. He can’t see me from his desk so it’s not a matter of him seeing that I’m not busy and walking over.

    This feels so silly, and if I’m truly in the middle of something that can’t be interrupted I will ask him to come back, there’s just something about it I find…intrusive? Irritating? I don’t want to discourage him from asking for help, and I’m worried that my annoyance might eventually show through, but at the same time it feels weird to essentially tell him to ask my permission to ask me a question? I’m not sure if this is just a me thing and I need to suck it up or if it’s worth saying something to him or mentioning it to my manager (who is overseeing the intern).

    ———————

    Some quick details – all of our interns are from a local college, internships are a required part of the curriculum and most of them complete at least 2-3 of them. For the role they fill on our team (which operates as a full time job, is paid, and lasts ~4 months) most interns are close to graduating, and this is almost never their first professional role. Our intern this time around is only a sophomore and this is his first time in an office. He’s smart and good at the work, but he’s definitely still learning the ropes of office behavior, and our manager has had to (gently) talk with him about some things he’s done before, so this isn’t a weird powerplay or him being intentionally rude, I think it’s just coming from inexperience.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I definitely think you can say something, nicely – he’s an intern, part of this experience is to help him learn professional norms! Just say “hey, Fergus, I wanted you to know, it can be a little jarring to be approached out of the blue – I would appreciate it if you shot me a quick message, or said “hey, is this a good time?” before you started in on your question. We’re always glad to help, but it gives me a second to get my bearings and focus on what you’re asking, or to let you know if this isn’t a good time. Thanks!” (modify as needed, of course)

      1. Pommette!*

        Great script. Saying something is useful for the OP in the short term, but it’s also really helpful for the intern in the long-run! You’re doing him a favor.

    2. Quill*

      I think you’re going to have to tell him “hey, can you shoot me an IM if you need to stop by for questions? I might be in a meeting or working on something time sensitive” because hints may just not work.

      1. Sunflower*

        Also understand that you’re not just doing yourself a favor here, you’re doing a favor for everyone he works with in the future. What you’re requesting is pretty in line with office norms and part of having an intern is showing them how things work in an office- think about it this way when you’re giving him guidance.

    3. Legally a Vacuum*

      Is there a reason you’ve not simply asked him to IM you before he stops by? You can wait until you answer his question, then mention that you would like him to change in the future. It doesn’t have to be a big “thing”, but the longer it goes the more awkward it is to just ask him to do it differently.

    4. Sabina*

      Just tell him! “Hey, would you mind messaging me before you come over to my desk with a question? That way I can break from what I’m doing and be able to give you my full attention. Thanks for understanding!”

    5. GeekBoi*

      As reiterated on this site countless times, TELL HIM! he is being extremely rude
      Tell him it is best that he IM you, or at least preface his issue with a question as to whether you are free to assist him
      Why should you feel “silly” when he is the one disturbing you at work?

      1. Alice*

        I think that OP should just be direct, with her own language, about what she would like him to do. But I don’t think see the described behavior as “extremely rude.” My colleagues sometimes come over and dive right in. If they do and it’s not a good time for me, I tell them.
        It would be rude is the intern kept doing this after OP explained what she wants him to do instead.

          1. valentine*

            It’s extremely rude that he interrupts, plops his laptop down, and dives in even if she’s eating. Visible does not equal available.

            1. Easily Amused*

              “Visible does not equal available” – love this! This notion is about 90% why open office spaces suck so bad.

    6. Jedi Squirrel*

      You answered your own question.

      “Eric, in the business world, it’s typical to message somebody with quick questions, or to ask if this is a good time for a longer question. I check my messages regularly, so feel free to just message me and either I can come to you or I’ll let you know to head on over.

      “If you are just walking by, you should always inquire if it’s a good time. Sometimes people are in the middle of a project that requires uninterrupted time, and it’s best just to ask.”

      By framing this as this is what is customary in the business world rather than how much it bugs you, it’s much less likely to offend him, and he’s much more likely to take it heart, both at your organization and in future internships and jobs.

      (My wording probably needs tweaked, but I’m sure others here can help with that.)

      1. Camellia*

        Came here to say this but you said it beautifully. And you can say ‘customary in the business world’ or ‘customary for this office’, whichever makes the most sense. For example, I always warn new hires that, at my current office, email is treated like IM. You are pretty much expected to notice and respond immediately. That is so different from most offices that I like to give them a heads up.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          That is very different from most offices, and you are doing these folks a tremendous favor by letting them know that. Cultural norms are not always obvious to the new folks!

      2. Quinalla*

        Yup, reword it in your own language, but this is spot on.

        And don’t feel bad in the slightest, while these conversations often are awkward to have, it is part of the internship experience to teach these things. Try to treat it as matter of fact as possible, just you informing them of one more thing they need to know like where the copier is or how to do their timesheet. And trust me, I have these conversations often with interns/co-ops, and it can feel really awkward, but if I approach it straightforwardly, it usually goes over fine and is never as big as I’ve built it up in my head.

      3. Analytical Tree Hugger*

        Yes, @A Simple Narwhal, please frame this as a general business norm. The previous commenters framed this as your personal preference, but I think it’s much more likely that the greater majority of office workers would prefer to have someone first ask, “Do you have a few minutes?”

      4. snoopythedog*

        Dropping in to give this wording a pat on the back.

        This is super common when working with interns/younger people.

        The key is to be consistent. Deliver the message scripted above and each time they forget to follow the steps your outlined, gently rebuff them and send them back. Something like “Eric, I’m just in the middle of something right now and I want to make sure I can fully attend to your question. Is this urgent or can it wait a few minutes? As a reminder, it’s best to message somebody to ask if it’s a good time to drop by ask a question.”
        ^repeat it even if the “middle of something” is eating your sandwich. Because you are still literally in the middle of something and he is still asking you to task switch without considering your schedule.

        I’ve literally sent interns out of my office repeatedly (but nicely) if they keep dropping by with their laptops for ‘a few questions’.

    7. Stymied Manager*

      I would just cheerfully tell him to please message you to check if it’s a good time rather than just walking over. Or a co-worker who hates being interrupted has 2 half hour sessions a day for her team to come ask her questions, she finds that works best

    8. Grace*

      I previously managed interns at my last job, and this behavior you are describing sounds very familiar to me!

      I think it is perfectly acceptable to tell this intern something along the lines of: “Hey intern, would you mind shooting me an IM to find out if I am available before coming over here with a question? Sometimes I’m in the middle of working on a project that requires 100% of my attention, and it would be helpful if I could reach a good stopping point first before we chat. Or if I’m eating, I’d rather finish up before you head this way.”

      You can also suggest he adopt this practice with ALL his coworkers, and let him know that is typically how the culture of your organization works. I would coach my interns on their workplace cultures from time to time, and most often they were very receptive to feedback and honestly just had no idea how they should behaving. You would be helping him out in the long run if you took a direct approach.

    9. Dragoning*

      It sounds like he’s missing the “Basic manners” part where you perform a verbal “knock” before launching into an entire conversation.

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable and not at all rude to say something like “Do you mind letting me know when you’re coming over to ask a question so I can have a moment to switch gears to help you better? Sometimes I can be pretty busy and focused on what I’m doing.”

    10. Susan K*

      I think you can definitely say something! Alison has a lot of posts about dealing with interns (with some good scripts that you can adapt to this situation), and the idea is usually that you approach the subject with the intern as, “Hey, here’s something you probably didn’t know about professional norms.” You can explain that in a lot of offices, people are often focused on something and would appreciate a heads up before someone comes over and starts asking questions.

    11. MarfisaTheLibrarian*

      I think this is a great learning experience for him. “I appreciate that you’re following up when you have questions; Sometimes when you come in with a question I’m in the middle of something important. I’d appreciate if you could pause and ask if I’m available before you start in on the questions.” He’s an intern–his job is to learn, not just the tasks of the job, but also the norms of the working world

    12. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      It can be addressed at the moment of intrusion as well.

      “Fergus, I’m in the middle of something right now. I’ll help you shortly. Send me an IM when you get back to your desk, and I’ll reply when I’m ready to chat.”

      Rinse and repeat. (And maybe explain it more fully when he’s got his “appointment”.)

      No one gets to bring work stuff – especially their laptop — to my desk until I’m ready to make them some space physically and cognitively.

    13. Dumpster Fire*

      All of what others have said, as well as maybe:
      – If there’s something you need now (or ASAP), please IM me and I’ll let you as soon as I can see you.
      – Let’s have a standing meeting once per (day/week/whatever) so I can answer less urgent questions. (And then let that meeting be over, once you’ve answered those questions.) AND/OR
      – Compile those less urgent questions into one email or document so we can address them efficiently.

      1. snoopythedog*

        Oh, the compiling questions thing just reminded me….sometimes interns drop by with allll the questions because they aren’t used to thinking for themselves and problem solving in a work environment (which is also sometimes about knowing where/when they have the authority to make small decisions).

        Asking them to consolidate questions/hold off non-urgent questions for a standing appointment is a good first step that will get some of them to figure out how to answer the questions themselves. For others, you need to further prompt them to come to you not just with questions, but with their suggestion for a solution.

    14. Mama Bear*

      I agree that it’s best to tell him something. I have friends who always let their kids interrupt and they put everything down and I just think “your kid is going to be someone’s nightmare in the future.” Hi, Fergus.

      So tell him. If you don’t, then he’ll never know and he’ll keep doing it to everyone. You can also say, “I notice that you tend to come by at x time, which is usually when I grab my lunch. How about we schedule a meeting at y time instead?”

      Or ask him to come back in 10 minutes when you’re done eating or tell him when you’re in the middle of a task. “I can’t really talk now – I have a deliverable due in an hour. Is this a fire or can it wait?” You might also find out what it is and redirect him to another coworker or resource in the meantime. If he routinely asks things that could be an email, tell him. “This is something we could have done over Teams. Next time can you send me a message and I’ll come by if we need to talk about it?”

    15. Leisel*

      As others have already said, start by asking him to message you first if that’s common practice for your team.

      However, some people just seem to be dense and ignore social norms. Our office is small and it’s pretty standard that we communicate in person instead of over email when we’re physically in the office. Because of the setup of my shared office, I sit with my back to the door (which I HATE). The door is open 90% of the time, so people will stop by and just start talking to the back of my head. My thought gets interrupted, then I have to turn around and ask them to stop and start over because I didn’t catch half of it. Even after asking them to knock and let me acknowledge them first, some of them still do it! Then they’ll say, “Oh, sorry, I forgot.” -_-

      If he continues to do it, I think it’s okay to show some of your annoyance. Don’t be a jerk, but tell him that type of behavior is rude. It’s rude to start talking at someone without knowing you have their attention, even outside of the workplace! The plopping down of the laptop uninvited is especially off-putting. Seems like he’s a little clueless.

    16. Caroline Bowman*

      next time he does it, just say ”oh hi! I’m just eating. Please for the future can you just ping me a message to make sure I’m not in the middle of something? I’d love to help you, so don’t be shy, but it’s best to just give me a heads-up. thanks!”.

    17. Cinnamon*

      My department has had this issue also and unfortunately some just don’t learn. We’ve told them to call/message first and then even started having set meetings to discuss bits of projects at once but we still get the intern who walks in and stands around waiting for us to be free.

    18. Attack007*

      Say something to him. He probably has no idea that what he is doing is annoying. Next time he does it, talk to him about it. You can say something like, X as you know I am happy to help you and answer your questions, but sometimes I am in the middle of something and you walking up takes me out of my focus. Going forward can you please ping me and say you have a question and ask if this is a good time to talk or if you do come by my desk please do not just launch into your question, please ask first if this is a good time. He is an intern, and a young one, you are doing him and all his future employers and colleagues a favor by talking to him about this now.

    19. Orange You Glad*

      I work with a lot of students in a similar program and they all do some version of this in the beginning of their tenure (for us it’s a 6 month full time paid position). I usually shut it down in the moment if it’s an inconvenient time, ex: “Ok we can discuss this when I’ve finished my lunch”, “I’m busy right now, can you come back in 10 mins?”

      If they are serial interrupters I’ll make a point to explain, for me, it’s easier if they summarize all their questions and pick a time to meet with me and go over everything at once. I would rather they take the time to problem solve before coming to me with questions.

    20. Enginear*

      Reminds me of our new hires fresh out of school who just walk up to my cubicle and stand there staring at me when they want to ask me a question. No greeting or anything; they just stand there waiting for me to acknowledge them. I sometimes pretend I don’t see them and see how long they awkwardly stand there lol

      1. valentine*

        I sometimes pretend I don’t see them and see how long they awkwardly stand there lol
        This just reinforces they’re right to wait.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Please don’t do that. Awkwardly lurking is one of my bad habits and I will just either stand there staring at you forever or slink off because I’m now terrified that you’re ignoring me because you’re busy/angry with me and I’ll be punished for interrupting.

    21. Mr. Shark*

      This is not silly. You are focused on your job and interruptions can be intrusive and throw you off your focus.
      I would definitely politely say, “Can you please IM me before you come in for any questions? Sometimes I am in the middle of something and it isn’t the best time for me to jump to another subject and answer questions, though I am always willing to help you when needed.”

      And even if they can’t IM you before, you can say, “It’s generally a good policy to ask someone if they have a few minutes to answer a question, rather than just put your laptop on their desk and start asking questions immediately. It makes the person feel like you are barging into their work space when you do that. Sometimes they are in the middle of something and need to focus in order to complete the task.”

    22. Senor Montoya*

      Just tell him exactly what you want him to do: In a perfect world I would love for him to either message me on our messenger before walking over (something like “hey can I ask you a question” or even just “do you have a sec”) or when he walks over to preface the question with a “is now a good time” or pretty much anything other than just plopping his computer next to me and diving right in.

      If you don’t tell him, he doesn’t know.

    23. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Just throwing out another version of wording, in case it feels like a good fit. I would probably say something like “hey, for future, can you ping me before walking over?” + possibly an explanation like “When you knock me out of a train of thought, it’s hard to pick back up again later.”

    24. Koala dreams*

      It sounds like you have identified a great opportunity to teach this intern an important office norm. That’s not silly, that’s one of the purposes of an internship. The interns can learn things from their co-workers that never would have come up in school.

    25. Hiding From My Boss*

      This isn’t a silly little thing. Coming by for a quick question is one thing, bringing over a laptop and settling in for what amounts to an impromptu meeting isn’t a good habit for him to develop. This is part of what he needs to learn; you’re right on the money there. That being the case, you don’t need to tiptoe around him. It’s okay to tell him “Not right now” and to make it clear that some things will be done on your schedule and convenience, not his–that can be done without being harsh, but being definite.

  5. Just Need Advice*

    So I was hired to be the Communications and Government Relations Specialist of, lets say, an association that supports teapot makers. The teapot makers in my state are having a difficult time financially due to some challenging circumstances. We were supposed to hire a part-time admin position late last year to help or Director of Administrative Services with data entry. Unfortunately when the teapot makers are not doing well, we aren’t either so no one was ever hired for the position. I was told in December that everyone would be helping with some of the admin work starting in the New Year. I am now doing all of the admin work that was intended for the part-time position, which was supposed to be a 20 hour/week job. The reason I keep getting assigned all of this work is because I am “so much faster” at it than the rest of my coworkers. Which is true, I am able to do data entry in a fraction of the time as the Director of Administrative Services. My coworker, who was the Director of Public Affairs, also received a promotion and is now no longer doing communications work for the association anymore.

    So now I am doing my job as Communications and Government Relations Specialist, a part-time administrative position, and all of the communications work that was previously split between my coworker and I (which by the way I did not get a promotion or raise for doing any of this additional work). To say that I am drowning would be an understatement at this point. I have started putting post-its with my to do lists everywhere in my office so my boss sees just how much work I have been assigned and that has helped some. But I keep getting assigned more admin work because I am faster than everyone else at it. It has gotten to the point that I am considering messing it up and taking longer intentionally so that people stop assigning me admin work.

    Does anyone have advice? Yes, I know I should look for another job and I am, but advice outside of that.

    1. Legally a Vacuum*

      Have you told your boss that you need to let some tasks go because of what’s being piled on? Like, “you’ve asked me to do XYZ, you need to know that the trade-off is me no longer able to do ABC, how do you want me to prioritize?”

      1. Holy Moley*

        +1 for this. Although I will warn you when I tried this I got the same response of “you make it look easy” versus actually helping me with being overwhelmed. I had to add “If Im going to prioritize ABC, I need you to find someone else to work on XYZ some of the time.”

      2. Just Need Advice*

        I have tried. But I am very much of the personality that I need to have an empty inbox by the end of the work day. That is just who I am and I hate leaving things for after a weekend and such. And something that I did not explain is that there are only 7 people in the office who all do pretty specialized things so there is only so much I can reassign, especially because everyone else is busy.

        1. Holy Moley*

          So having been in this situation I understand your frustration. You really have two options, wait and see if things will improve and they hire the part timer (or can they hire an intern?) or you can decide if you want to stay. For me, I chose to leave but my job was underpaying me for my work so it was an easier decision.

          1. Viette*

            Having been in this situation as well, I recommend making a timeline for when you would start job searching if nothing changes, and by what date you ideally will have moved on. The likelihood is that nothing is going to change quickly enough to prevent you from quitting, and it’s good to start applying before you’re burnt out.

            1. valentine*

              I know I should look for another job and I am
              This seems like an overreaction.

              The passive-aggressive Post-Its might just make it seem like you’re having memory issues. You need to throw a wrench in the works.

              I need to have an empty inbox by the end of the work day.
              If you’re sure you can’t do otherwise, you need a job that allows this without overwork. Have you spoken to a counselor about this? Because it’s worth trying to change. What happens if you only do a reasonable amount in a day/week, if you only work 40-45 hours? Are you anxious about what’s left? Are there really no tasks that take longer than a day?

              If they wanted to promote you, they could do so at any time, so proceed as though the promotion is both carrot and stick. In fact, there’s no sense promoting you when they’ve decided to stick you with the admin stuff and, if anything, depending on whether anyone else can do your main job, it’s possible they would demote you to data entry and reassign the other stuff. (I don’t see why they don’t hire for the data entry. I would love a data entry-only job.) I think what you really want is to focus on your original job and to work a reasonable amount of hours (40), not to drown while promoted with a raise and spend your extra money on the extra healthcare. So. List out the jobs, prioritizing the main one, then the previously shared one, then the admin stuff, do them in that order, and let your boss know what you’ll be completing weekly or so (versus what won’t get done).

        2. RecoveringSWO*

          When your 8 hours are up and you’re itching to clean out you inbox, please revisit this page and reread your examples of management mistreating you. I’m sorry that management is taking advantage of your work ethic and it sucks that you have to deal with the uncomfortable emotions of standing up for yourself. I know I hate that feeling!

          Also, when you hand in your resignation, you don’t have to tell the boss where you’re working next or sit around for a verbal lashing ;)

        3. The Engineer*

          Add a second inbox for the extra stuff. That way at the end of the day you have an empty one (your job) and one that is not (but not your job). If you don’t let something slide all of it will become your job.

          1. Mad Harry Crewe*

            +10 to this. I was deeply overwhelmed at my last job, and I hate leaving things for tomorrow. I learned to care less, and I learned to leave things for tomorrow. I also hated what it was doing to my work ethic and honestly, that was a better push to get out than just being deeply overwhelmed was.

            You can’t solve your employer’s structural problems with your fragile human self. OP, take care of yourself first, YOUR work second, and your lumped-on extra duties third or fourth. Until it starts to hurt them more than it’s hurting you, they will not consider this a problem worth fixing.

        4. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One way to change your thinking that might help: When the manager picks XYZ to be dealt with later — that is no longer in your inbox! It is now in a category of having been tabled for later.

          1. snoopythedog*

            I second this.

            If you need a clean inbox, start a folder for the important but non-urgent and not your priority items that you get sent. Have a few spare minutes? Great, then you can deal with them. Time to go home and you haven’t touched the second inbox, too bad your main inbox is done and you can have a discussion with your manager about the outstanding but extra items later.

            If you keep making this not your managers problem…they aren’t going to be motivated to solve it.

        5. M*

          Start turning back tasks immediately.

          “Hi Jane,
          I’d be happy to help with the data entry for the teapot spout specialists list, but I won’t have time this week. Can it wait until [date]? Otherwise, I think you’ll need to find someone else for this one.”

          Doing this is going to require setting clear plans for your regular work, in advance, and being clear about the priority level of each task. Once you’ve done that, if you’ve got time to help someone, sure, do that, but if you can’t stand leaving a task in your inbox *stop putting tasks you don’t have time to do in your inbox*.

          The good news is, once you get into a clear pattern of it, people will stop treating you as the easy go-to for everything that needs a fast turn-around. It sounds like right now you’re doing unpaid overtime and putting admin work ahead of your own tasks, which *of course* makes you the fastest person available. Once you start giving people realistic estimates of where something fits in your priority order and how much else you need to do first, they’ll likely quickly find that it’s not so big a deal if someone slightly less fast at typing does some of the data entry.

    2. Chronic Overthinker*

      I would definitely talk to your boss about this! You should let them know that you are essentially doing the work of 2.5 people and either need staffing or need some sort of incentive to keep doing what you are doing. Also, if things are getting done in a timely manner, then they are wrongly assuming that you are able to task everything appropriately. I would let your boss know that if I do X and Y, A & B are going to miss deadlines.

      1. Just Need Advice*

        When I asked for a promotion in December my boss told me that I needed an attitude adjustment multiple times during the meeting because I “bristled” at a project last year. So there is really no way that I can complain about my workload because when I doing that last year cost me a promotion.

          1. Just Need Advice*

            I am a female that worked for the state government for a longtime and am now the youngest lobbyist in my state, so yes.

        1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

          Are you the one who “bristled” because your boss practically threw a binder at you? I assume you’ve explained that the “bristling” was an involuntary reaction to being startled by him throwing a file. Sorry you work for such an a-hat. I do think it’s possible to name the need to prioritize and to back-burner the lower priorities. When the response to that is just “Do it all,” I think Alison has said something before like, “My plan is to prioritize A, C, and D, and to back-burner B until we have our headcount back up (or whatever). Let me know if you’d like me to back-burner something else instead.” And then just stop doing more thank you can handle in an 8-hour day. Hope you can get yourself out of there soon.

        2. Alternative Person*

          If your boss isn’t giving you a promotion because you ‘bristled’ at a project, I would be inclined to say your boss isn’t planning on giving you one at all.

          Granted, I don’t know the full context of the ‘bristling’ but I would guess it was a fair reaction to being under an excess of pressure and possibly being expected to shoulder an unfair burden. If that is the case, then you might want to start looking at your options, because I don’t think your workplace is going to get better.

          1. Just Need Advice*

            I have commented on it in previous posts in weeks past. My boss threw a box of notes from our board retreat in my office one day and told me to write a report to the board. The meeting happened a month before I was hired and I was given little detail. Just basic outline notes. So I told him I didn’t feel comfortable writing the report. I ended up doing it anyway, but still.

    3. Annony*

      One way you can make it take longer without feeling like you are slacking is to push it to the end of the day. Prioritize your other work. Admin stuff gets done from 4-5. Anything left over gets done at 4 the next day. If they need it faster, they can reassign it to someone with more time.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        This is a good plan but I would also encourage pushing back on the “but you are so much faster” with a “With X and Y on my plate now I won’t be able to take on the admin work for Department A any longer – here are my notes on what needs to happen for that area”

      2. Just Need Advice*

        Unfortunately the data entry stuff is pretty pressing at the moment because the Director of Administrative Services let it pile up since about August (she has been incredibly busy too).

        1. Tedious Cat*

          Oh, no. I don’t think this situation is fixable. Best of luck in your job search and I hope you can soon come back and let us know about the tantrum your boss threw when you gave notice.

            1. Just Need Advice*

              Quick side story: The last person who quit worked from home in a different city. She came down one day to put in her notice in-person. My boss was out “dealing with a couch delivery” that day. She called him and asked if he was coming back. He said to just say it. She put in her notice, she was going to work for our biggest teapot maker. He starts swearing and yelling at her. He then calls our Board President who works for our biggest teapot maker and tells him. Keep in mind that the person who currently has the position she was taking had not been let go yet which she told my boss. So now the board president knows and it starts spreading around the company before the person had even been fired.

                1. Flyleaf*

                  When you do put in your notice, it should be immediate. Tell your boss at 5pm on Friday that you are done. He has shown that he is due no additional consideration.

              1. Autumnheart*

                Uh, so between that story and your situation, I think we can safely assume that your boss is trash, your employer is trash, and you should leave before your boss just makes you the admin.

                1. Flyleaf*

                  They have shown what they are made of, and it’s not good. As a result, you need to disengage and give up on caring about them. Do your work, but nothing extra. If work doesn’t get done, you shouldn’t care. Let the work fall on the ground, and don’t put in any effort to pick it up.

              2. The Engineer*

                Yeah, never mind on my suggestion above. Dis-functional workplace. This IS your job now. Time to look elsewhere. It appears that giving notice would be a bad decision based on your bosses history.

    4. Viette*

      “But I keep getting assigned more admin work because I am faster than everyone else at it. It has gotten to the point that I am considering messing it up and taking longer intentionally so that people stop assigning me admin work.”

      Don’t mess up admin work, just… don’t do so much of it. Yeah, do it slower. Do your actual job instead. De-prioritize data entry until someone else does it.

      I learned a long time ago that not everyone who wants something from me gets to have it. You *can*, but that doesn’t mean you should. You’re falling into a trap, whereby you think that anyone who wants something from you that you physically can do, you must do. But look at your situation: you describe yourself as “drowning”. You’re busting your ass and entirely miserable. You’re doing it because you’re good enough to pull it off in the short term, but that’s very short-sighted and pretends that your health and function at work isn’t even a factor. It *is* a factor. You are going to burn out and quit. You’re participating in and executing a plan which is not going to have a good long-term outcome.

      Stop! Stop doing all the admin work faster than everyone else and start doing your own job first, always! Start prioritizing your mental health. Sit down with a close friend or therapist and pick apart what you must do and what you simply can do. Say “no, I have to do [actual job working]” to things. This is potentially going to require a lot from you emotionally. It may be a change in who you are at work (do you love to be good at things? do you feel you owe your talents to your coworkers and bosses?), but you have to make other people do some of the admin work that you *could* do. No one else is going to tell you to stop.

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        +1! I had a job that involved some admin/data entry work and a blew through it at a fast pace. After a few months, I started getting headaches from the screen jumping so quickly and my eyes moving too quickly between side by side documents. I had to slow down and realized that I should have paced myself from the start. You shouldn’t prioritize doing the admin work because it’s preventing you from the work you want to do, are paid to do, and want experience in for when you leave this job. But even if you feel an obligation to help, please slow it down to prevent burn out!

        1. Jaid*

          Carpel tunnel, man.

          I have data entry to do when I don’t have my own work available and I deliberately do it slowly. 1. It’s not my real work and 2. it’s not worth aggravating my wrists and hands over.

      2. Mimi*

        Yes, this. From your other comments it sounds like this situation is awful, but by doing all the work that gets dumped on you, you’re enabling them giving you too much work to do, because you’re the person dealing with most of the inconvenience of not having a dedicated person to do this work.

        Honestly, I see three options here:
        1) You keep doing what you’re doing until they drive you into the ground, and you have to stop working at this job for the sake of your mental and/or physical health.
        2) You find another job and quit.
        3) You change your behavior in a way so that they can no longer keep you in this untenable situation. From what you’ve said, it’s possible that this will cost you professionally, but it seems to me that it’s the only way you’ll be able to stay at this job for any length of time, if such a way exists. Worst case you’ll need to look for a new job, but you’ll probably have time to do it on your own schedule.

        There’s an outside possibility of 4) This situation stops being untenable for you without you forcing the change, but at this point it seems pretty unlikely.

    5. Caroline Bowman*

      this unfortunately is where ”invisible” work (often done by women… not always, but often) is under-valued and, well, invisible. It being done well renders it invisible, things just run nicely, so it’s kind of an obvious pitfall.

      You need to sit down with your boss and spell out that you are being given 20 hours extra each week, unpaid. It must end. if he balks, say that you will, just for a week, not do any of it and see how things are thereafter.

      1. Just Need Advice*

        That is very true. I shouldn’t have said that all of the admin work is on my plate. I would say 90% of it. The other 10% was distributed to the other females in the office. The only people that have not picked up any admin work is my boss, male, and my coworker, male and who is my boss’ best friend.

    6. Llellayena*

      “Yes, on an individual task I might be faster, but when I have 20 of these tasks to complete during the day, it will all get done faster if the work is spread around to a couple other people. If all of these tasks remain with me, I will be able to get X, Y and Z done within the deadline, but A, B and C will need to be pushed back. How do you want to distribute A, B and C for them to be complete in time?” Make sure X, Y and Z is what you can reasonably get done in a standard 40hr work week. Not sure how deadline oriented the tasks are so adjust the wording as needed to get that general point across. Once you convince your manager, you can start referring other people to them by saying “I’m afraid I won’t have time for that. Please talk to Boss about who should handle that this time.”

    7. Rex*

      Another thing to consider — is it possible to automate some of this data entry to reduce the workload? For example, if you’re taking membership info via one kind of form, are you manually entering it into the database? There might be a way to auto-populate and just do a quality check, which would be much faster.

    8. kittymommy*

      I hope you see this as I’m just seeing this at 23ish EST. I currently work in government (with politicians) and have worked (and currently work with) many of those who represent what the US calls lobbyists, which sounds like similar to what you d (obviously not knowing what country you are in). I’m also going to concentrate on strictly advice for managing your current work load/job situation:

      – create a spreadsheet/whatever to manage what is the most important tasks for your job(s). You have two jobs. You might not be paid for two, you might not be acknowledged for two, but you have two; the one you have a title for and the assistant for the title you have. It could be worse, you could be paid for the assistant and doing the higher level. What is the biggest issues for your paid job and what do you need to do as an assistant to accomplish that? Everything after those is secondary.

      – Possibly more important than the other – what tasks accomplish the end goal of your organization. Let’s say you are a lobbyist for a union representing line workers – look at the yearly goals/points of issue for the group/union – what in your job tasks works to advance those goals? Meeting representatives/senators that can advance legislation? Attending parties/ribbon cuttings/etc. for important local events? Chatting up and “commiserating” with assistants? Whatever advances the goals of your organization is your job and at the end of the day if you can point to that it really doesn’t matter what gets you there. The end goal is what will matter in this world (ie government and/or politics).

    9. Hiding From My Boss*

      What’s happening to you sucks and your employer will continue to take advantage of you because now they see that they can do this to you. You might try “I did this part last time, so it’s John’s turn now while I do my Real Job” or the passive aggressive approach: simply DON’T get it all done. You can’t do the work of multiple people and remarks like “You’re so good at it!” and “You get so much done!” is just emotional blackmail and rationalizing, not to mention brushing off your needs as an employee for a reasonable workload.

      An additional burner about this is that your management, like so many others, thinks admin work is some kind of afterthought instead of a discipline in its own right.

  6. Imposter*

    I was shocked to receive a phone interview request from a reputable tech company in my city for an Operations Manager position. I remember applying and thinking it was a long shot because I only met some of the requirements listed in the job posting. I have received nothing but rejection lately for jobs I *am* qualified for, so this was a particular surprise.

    After I scheduled the phone interview, I read back through the posting and started feeling a little panicked. I’m starting to doubt my experience and qualifications for this position. All of my experience is in the event planning and nonprofit world, and I know nothing about “establishing production KPIs” or “Global Access Management Policies.” It didn’t help that I looked up individuals with similar titles at this organization and they all seem to come from a tech background.

    I know it’s just a phone call, but how to I prepare for this when I feel like I am severely underqualified?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Just know that sometimes things are super random and don’t make sense. Like you, I’ve been rejected by (or not even given a phone screen) for jobs I’m extremely qualified (and not “overqualified”) for, and then I’ve gotten interviews for things that I’m like “Really?” Just roll with it.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They have your resume and think you’re worth a sniff test! You are not that severely unqualified!

      Operation management is hard to fill and often flexible in who gets the job because it’s always going to be something you learn that’s job specific. Prove you’re fast at learning on your feet. They have to train you in their company SOP and procedurals anyways! You’ve got this

    3. Dragoning*

      “establishing production KPIs” is just a fancy way to say “Setting production goals and how to measure progress toward them.” I feel like event planning would be really helpful there, but maybe I’m wrong.

    4. Eba*

      You wouldn’t get an interview if you weren’t qualified. They have your resume– they’re interested! It doesn’t mean that you’re exactly like everyone else they’re interviewing, or guarantee you the job, but it means they’re interested, and you meet the qualifications they want.

    5. humans are weird*

      Think about all the things you’ve done in your work that have to do with organizing things, documenting things, measuring things, reporting on things, keeping track of projects with multiple parts, deciding who gets to see what information. That’s the “content” piece.

      Think about how you handle learning new software – whether it’s an online ordering/ticketing platform you may have used for events, or a project management software, or anything else you have experience with. Are you able to get up to speed fairly quickly and are you comfortable with a certain amount of “poking around” to learn things? Are you open to taking classes on things you may not currently know (like perhaps writing queries to get information about production at the new company)? That’s the “how” piece.

      I can’t say whether this position is actually a good fit for you, but there’s a lot there that legitimately might overlap. I recently helped a friend with a background in libraries and higher education, think through an interview process for a care coordinator position (for a niche program) at a medical practice. She got the job! There are so many skills that can go cross-industry if you allow yourself to think of them.

    6. Annony*

      It’s entirely possible that they specifically need someone with a different skill set than those already in similar positions at the organization. Maybe the panning part is the team weak spot.

    7. ST*

      KPI is just business speak that you’ll learn fast (setting goals and coming up with measurements to meet those goals). Global Access Management Policies sounds like the same thing.

      Try to look up all the jargon the posting mentions before the call and you should be fine!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is excellent advice as well.

        The jargon can be distressing to those who aren’t familiar with it.

        I had the most epic breakdown of my career when I took a job that I thought was over my head. Until I was there for long enough to sit down and LOOK at what looked daunting in the face. I was literally ready to pack my bags and leave the place. It turned out it was all simple but they used “fancy” words that were scary AF that I hadn’t seen before. So I was put on alert and then when they explained the process I was like “This is just a credit memo…” and “this just means they can charge us a penalty if we don’t mark boxes right. OH.”

        1. Imposter*

          I can so relate to this! I think the jargon is what is stressing me out – it’s so unfamiliar to me. :)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            I’ll just say that I’m a country bumpkin off the dirt streets for the most part and I’ve done ops management myself. Along with accounting. And other scary things that others are like “What do you even do and how do you do all of it at once [lol it’s not at once, duh]” “I just grab things as they’re tossed at me and figure out what to do.”

            As long as you’re okay with THAT mentality, precious little is unachievable [barring certification and licensing requirement stuffs].

          2. Working Mom*

            KPI = Key Performance Indicator. Just like everyone else said – fancy term for setting a process into place and having metrics in place to gauge how well that process is performing. Go through the job description and google any terms like that, the ones that seem foreign – chances are you know how to do them all (or at least know they are) but just don’t use that jargon. If in the interview you’re asked something that makes you panic – it’s OK to ask them to rephrase – something like, “That’s not terminology I’m familiar with – can you rephrase that?” or something along those lines.

            And PS – you are qualified and you deserve to be there!!

    8. Chronic Overthinker*

      They must think you have the basic skills necessary to do the job. Go for it and see what happens! Venturing into a new field can be interesting and lots of office manager procedures tend to be specific for the office and are learned on the job. Prove to them you are a quick study, independent thinker/researcher and you might be pleasantly surprised.

    9. Imposter*

      Thank you ALL for your kind and thoughtful replies. I did look up KPI’s and feel like I’m just used to referring to them as something different. At previous jobs, I have tracked and analyzed metrics related to customer satisfaction and feedback. At my current job, we help children and all of our metrics are related to # of children served (or how many grant dollars we receive!). I think I just need to figure out how to make it applicable in a general sense.

      I am definitely detail and goal oriented and love improving processes and identifying inefficiencies. I have some great examples I can use on how I improved processes at previous roles and in my current role. And yes, I think it’s possible my event planning experience may come in handy.

      Thank you again!

      1. AdminX*

        Not sure if this will fit but it’s been shown that generally men will see they fit 2-3 criteria and go ahead for it, while women if they miss 2-3 will skip or think they don’t have enough.

        You don’t know what they find most priority, you could be hitting the targets exactly what they need for now, knowing you can sharpen up the rest as you go!

        1. Djuna*

          This is so true, I recently refreshed my memory on our job descriptions. I looked at the one for my role and did that rapid blink thing because I had a moment of “If I saw this job posted somewhere, would I think I was qualified to do it?” and wasn’t sure of the answer.

          I have been in my role for 5 years, and my salary has doubled over that time. That would indicate that I’m doing my job pretty darn well. So it’s ridiculous that I had that rapid-blink moment, but it says so much about how women can second-guess ourselves on the regular.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        The job listing, did it say things like “required” in front of these things or is it just a bullet list of duties, etc?

        Because usually if something is a hard “must” they are labeled like that.

        Just like ours are always like “REQUIRED, Minimum 3 years experience with SOFTWARE” that’s a hard “don’t even look at me if you haven’t touched it and if it’s less than 3, most likely not going to hear from us but not necessarily a hard no for 2 years…] [some organizes are a HARD no for less of course but meh, always worth a shot IMO].

        They tried to “require” my position to have a certain payroll processing company experience. I was like I know who they are, I did a payroll once months ago but yeah, I have a lot to learn there. They didn’t even blink twice and was like “That’ll do pig, when can you start?!”

        Just some antidotes to hopefully ease your mind as well from a former imposter :) Which is why I keep coming back here to check on you.

      3. CM*

        I am currently hiring for a position where there are lots of transferable skills from other industries. I would expect a candidate from another industry to:
        – Understand the jargon by doing background reading and research; Google unfamiliar terms, look for online message board or resources from people with this type of job
        – Understand the company and its business model, and have an understanding of the industry as a whole. Again, research: delve into the company website, see who their competitors are, if you will be doing event planning see what kind of events they have and also what kind of events similar companies have
        – In their intro “why are you here” question, explain in a positive way why they are interested in working in this industry, especially if it is a shift for them (for example, “While my experience in nonprofits has been meaningful and has given me the chance to take on significant responsibility and leadership early in my career, I’m interested in this position because …”)
        – Throughout the interview, explain how they have handled situations in their past experience and how it would translate to this setting (“The equivalent of production KPIs in my previous job was keeping metrics related to funding and the number of people served. When I started, these metrics weren’t effective because … and I improved them by … resulting in …”

    10. Enginear*

      They called you because they feel like you’re a qualified candidate. Roll with it and see what happens. It’d be a different story if you lied that you had experience with KPIs and Global Access Management policies.

    11. MoinMoin*

      Depending on how the conversation goes, you may be able to slip in a question like, “I was pleasantly surprised to hear from you since I know I was missing *insert experience that ideally you don’t think is a dealbreaker and is obvious already to them that you’re missing.* Can you tell me a bit about the role in the context of what stood out on my resume that I might be a good fit?” Otherwise, try to pay attention to what aspects they ask about so you can flesh out responses on those tasks if you get asked to come in for an interview (I know it doesn’t help on the call, sorry). Good luck!

    12. Fikly*

      Sometimes there’s some magic must have that isn’t even listed in the job posting.

      I and two other people were hired into the same role at the same time. It turned out we all had experience working at crisis lines. After we started, it came out that specific experience was something my company was really looking for (that’s not the job, but they really wanted people who could deal with stressed out people in a crisis situation, so it’s not bad logic on their part) and this was not mentioned once in the job posting.

      So who knows, maybe something on your resume caught their attention, and they value it enough that they’re overlooking the things you don’t have.

      My team is hiring a ton, so I’m looking at a lot of applications, and the little test exercises we have the people who make it past the phone screen do. I really try to evaluate not just the mistakes people make, but what is trainable, versus what is not trainable (and what we should not have to train – I’m looking at you, reading comprehension). If some of the qualifications you lack are easily trainable, but what you do have is not, I would bump you up myself.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Right — the position we’re looking for doesn’t mention Llama Wrangling Software, we always have to train folks in it, but a couple of candidates have that experience on their resumes, and one talked in the interview about how they used it to assess X and Y and make Z recommendations to their supervisor. We got so excited, for sure it bumped them ahead of other candidates who had all the required skills and experience but didn’t have *that*.

    13. Bubbles*

      Many times the job description doesn’t end up matching the role precisely. Maybe they have someone in place who is kickass at KPIs or Global Access Management Policies and really need someone more with your skill set. They figure you can learn those pieces on the job. Don’t sell yourself short!

    14. AVP*

      If you’ve done event planning on your own, you have established production KPIs! That’s just the tech term for deliverables, reporting, and anything measurable. Sometimes you have to tell the client what they should be looking for and how they know something is successful – that’s the establishing part. You can do this, sometimes the terminology or the measurements are new.

    15. Feliz*

      Lots of great advice already about skills transfer, jargon etc.

      I also think you’re allowed to own the fact that you might not have experience/skills in every single area they want – you don’t have to try to hide it.

      For my current role – manager of a technical team – I was absolutely up front with the recruiter and then the employer that I didn’t have everything that they wanted. I had a degree in that field, but hadn’t done technical work for many years. I’d been a manager, but of a production line and again it was many years previously. I actually brought it up in almost every conversation – I did not want a job where they thought I was a labelling expert or would solve every technical challenge before morning coffee. What I did have was skills and experience with was what they wanted – my business acumen, ability to commercialize ideas, talk huge customers through technical challenges etc.

      Good luck!

  7. Susan K*

    I’m on a team of 7, and we all used to eat lunch at our own desks, partly because we didn’t really have anywhere else to go.  A few months ago, though, we converted a storage room to a conference room, which is next door to our office area, and now, my team (including our manager) likes to eat lunch in there together.  They take turns announcing lunch each day, and when I don’t immediately get up from my desk to go with them, they often ask me directly, “Susan, are you going to come and eat with us?”

    The problem is that I really don’t want to eat lunch with them.  I prefer to eat my lunch about an hour later than they usually eat because I don’t snack at work so I like to space out my meals more evenly.  Also, they usually spend 45-60 minutes at lunch, mostly chatting after they finish eating.  I have a really heavy workload — more than the rest of them for reasons I won’t go into right now — and I would rather eat quickly at my desk and get back to work so I don’t have to stay too late.

    I used to decline most of the time, but I ate with them occasionally just so I wouldn’t look like I was antisocial.  But now it is starting to feel as though I am expected to be there every day.  My manager is often the one to ask me if I’m going to eat with them, which makes it hard to say no.  There is just one other person on the team who doesn’t always eat with them, and I’m starting to feel as though we’re on the outside of the main clique (extraverts vs. introverts).  I worry that not joining them for lunch could be detrimental to my job.

    What I came here to ask is:
    – Should I feel obligated to eat with them?  How often should I join them just to maintain a status as part of the team?
    – Any suggestions for how to get out of it?  I don’t have any of the usual excuses like wanting to run errands/read/listen to podcasts during lunch because it’s quite obvious that if I don’t join them, I’m just eating quickly at my desk.
    – Is there anything I can do to nudge them into going back to eating at our desks instead of making lunch a team activity?

    1. WorkingGirl*

      I don’t think you need to explain beyond that you’re quite busy so going to eat through lunch! That’s a valid response. But could you maybe plan to eat with them, say, once a week?

        1. valentine*

          If you really need an excuse, you also need a new job.

          Act casual. “No, thanks. It’s too early for me.” And take your full break. And work reasonable hours. If they won’t hire, they won’t hire. Is there no training or do you need resources you don’t have? Is there HR or someone who can help you with that? Can you suggest hiring temps?

          the work distribution is the bigger issue, which is why I didn’t go into it.
          This is the head of the time-wasting, scope-creeping, scapegoating, victim-blaming, snake, though. They know they sacrificed you for everyone else’s leisure and are perfectly happy about it, so I don’t think joining them will stop you being on the outside.

      1. Susan K*

        I guess it’s not so much that I need to give a reason for declining, but that if I don’t join them, I’m not part of the group. When I don’t go, I hear them chatting and laughing loudly (my fellow outsider and I have a running joke about the comedy club in the conference room) and I feel myself becoming more and more of an outsider. I don’t think they’ll be mad at me or anything if I don’t go, but by not being there for the daily social hour, I’m excluding myself from their little club.

        1. AdminX*

          Can you make it a 15 min break for yourself? Grab pretzels and water, do the social thing, then say “OK this has been fun but I really gotta knuckle down?” then it’s just a normal “Breaks over, call if you need anything” after that. Maybe that’s enough to fill the social requirement?

          But yeah this might be a sad issue of not a good fit if your manager is making it a silent job duty to have full lunch all the time.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          This is the trade offs. I had a job that I really liked and it paid well. I did not go to lunch with the people there. That was a mistake that I vowed to never make again.
          So yes, if you do not join them for lunch you will become more and more of an outsider.

          Why not talk to the boss about peeling some of the load off of your watch? I am also wondering if you have some introversion going on. I did. If this is the case, my advice is to find ways to work around it, go every other day or go every day but don’t stay long, find some a plan you can live with. As far as eating too early maybe the boss can move the lunch a half hour later and you could move yours a half hour earlier and there would be some overlap that way.

          1. Susan K*

            Yeah, I’m definitely an introvert, so this type of thing is not my cup of tea. I already feel like I don’t fit in because I’m the only one on the team who’s not married, five of the other six have kids and I don’t, and I’m the only one who didn’t grow up in the local area. I know they are trying to be nice by including me in their group lunch every day, so it feels unwise to make a point of excluding myself, but it’s too much! Every day, I wish we could just go back to the days when we were all satisfied with eating lunch at our own desks on our own schedules.

            I find myself getting really resentful of the extra time I’m getting pressured into spending on lunch/social hour because I have such a heavy workload. Our responsibilities got redistributed last year, resulting in me doing the work that used to be two jobs (and still is two jobs at the other two branches of the company) and the other four jobs being distributed among five people — so my workload got higher while everyone else’s got lower. Nice that they all have time to take a long lunch/social break every day, while I have to come in early and stay late to get my work done even if I’m only taking 20 minutes for lunch. My manager’s opinion is that I just need to improve my time management, and at the same time he’s pressuring me to spend an hour chatting with the team at lunch.

            1. Workerbee*

              Ugh. I would be totally resentful of all of the above myself.

              The workload is a separate issue and I know AAM has great advice on how to scale back–or make a concerted effort to try to scale back–on impossible responsibilities and unconcerned managers.

              As for the lunch thing, I still think about a mistake a made in regard to a very similar situation in my work career. I didn’t go to lunch en masse with my team, didn’t like their taking extra time at lunch, didn’t like what I perceived as their lack of work ethic–I wanted to eat in peace and have at least a few moments without someone talking at me, plus I had a lot to do!–but I think ultimately it shot me in the foot when the rounds of layoffs started. Despite me doing the work of what turned out to be three 1/2 people (as I found when I offloaded my job in my last two weeks), the boss kept the gang, most of whom were “strategic” types, which in that company meant coming up with ideas for other people to do, and I was the outlier.

              Ultimately, getting turfed out was good because I never would have thrived in that environment, but at the time it felt ridiculous.

              So, I don’t know…sacrifice a bit for your greater good, have lunch with them, see if you can just not-do some of those impossible deadlines…and definitely look elsewhere.

            2. RoseMai*

              It seems like the work distribution is the bigger issue here. Maybe you could keep a tally of your projects and the average amount of time each takes per week/month, and then go to your supervisor and make a pitch for it being more than a 40 hour per week workload. Even better if you can get the same thing from the other two branches where you have the same responsibilities! Then you could really make the argument that you’re doing a two person job.

              At least, you might want to argue for a promotion/raise, if they’re going to continue making you do the work of multiple people. Or shine up that resume and start casually looking.

              1. Susan K*

                Yeah, the work distribution is the bigger issue, which is why I didn’t go into it. I’m trying to get some relief on my workload, but part of the problem is that there used to be a few other people who were knowledgeable about my area of expertise, but they have all left over the years, so if anyone is going to help with my workload, they’ll need specialized training. I have discussed this with my manager, and it is now my responsibility to identify the people who should get training and find training courses for them to attend, which isn’t going to happen in the very near future. And believe me when I say that no one is jumping to volunteer to take on more responsibility.

                1. RoseMai*

                  Do you feel like you have room for growth in your company? If so, I guess I’d make an effort to sit with people at lunch for at least a few minutes once a week. But if you feel that they’re going to drag their feet in promoting you or pile on work without reward then I would give them a cheery “thanks for the invite, but I have a lot on my plate right now- maybe next time!” No sense in extending effort for them if they aren’t doing the same for you.

                2. Senor Montoya*

                  So, it sounds like you actually are in a strong position. They can’t afford to lose you, because then *no one* will be there who has the specialized knowledge and training. Can you move within the organization? Can you see what other jobs are available outside your employer?

                  Are there parts of your job that don’t depend on your unique expertise? Those might be ones to get taken off your plate.

                  In the meantime, doing a little bit of the lunchtime social thing can help you. I like the suggestions about doing lunch once every week or two, on different days, as well as popping in for fifteen/twenty minutes every couple of days, so that you are massaging those social connections.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  [Devilish smile.] Use the lunch breaks to discuss the particulars of getting people training and who to train.

                  The boss will either sort this out OR let everyone go back to eating lunches at their desks.

        3. WellRed*

          But you can’t have it both ways. I wouldn’t want to lunch every day either, but I accept I’ll miss out on some things.

    2. fposte*

      You shouldn’t feel obligated to eat with them; I’d join them a couple times a month.

      You can say “I’m just a really late luncher!” and let the rest go. It will be clear from when you eat that you are in fact a late luncher.

      No, you really can’t nudge them away from this. It’s a nice practice; it’s just not something that works for you personally.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        This. Use the truthful statement that you’re not hungry and you prefer to eat a later lunch.

        I consider joining them once a week to get some of the advantage of the friendly chatting. Maybe even joining them later halfway through their lunch to support the eating a later lunch thing.

        I suppose this could backfire and they all start eating later and then you have to go with I want/need to keep working while I eat, but I think it’s likely the group is not going to delay their lunch for an hour so you can join in.

        1. Susan K*

          I have joined them later a couple of times (mainly because I was in the middle of something that I wanted to finish before going to lunch), but I hated it because it was really uncomfortable to sit there eating in front of them when they were already done eating. I already dislike eating in front of people but it’s much worse when nobody else is eating at the same time.

          1. Kathenus*

            Maybe a different option is to come for the last 15 minutes of their lunch, once or twice a week, and sit and chat for 15 minutes, then eat your lunch once they’re all heading back to work?

    3. Holy Moley*

      You shouldn’t feel obligated, my guess is they are just trying to be friendly. I would just say “Oh thank you but Im not hungry yet!” or even “I had a big breakfast so Im good right now, thanks for the invite!” That is my standard answer and no one has ever bothered me about it. I dont think you can reasonably ask for them to eat at their desks though. If someone said that to me Id give them side eye.

    4. Jennifer*

      I’d just say I’m pretty overloaded with work today. Keep trying to stop by every so often so you aren’t seen as anti-social, even if you can only join them for a few minutes and not the entire time. But you’re at work, I don’t think you should be guilty about saying you have a ton of work.

    5. Annony*

      One thing you could try is to join them late. If you have a good relationship with your boss, you could point out that you do much better with a later lunch and join them maybe 45 minutes into their lunch so that you get face time but are also much closer to your preferred eating time. That also means that you won’t have to sit around chatting after you are done.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is what I did at OldExjob. I liked to eat lunch with the shop guys, but I ate later than their breaks, and I was writing a book at the time and often worked at lunch. So I’d go in for the last fifteen minutes of their time and then have forty-five minutes to myself, while also eating late enough for me.

    6. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      “No thanks! Have fun!”

      “No thanks, I’m on a roll and I don’t want to interrupt myself.”

      *Packs up your empty lunch bag after making the occasional gesture of eating with everyone* “Gotta scoot. Have a good lunch, gang.”

      Also, the eating in the conference room is working for them. Don’t bother trying to enforce desk eating if they don’t want it. There’s plenty of very good reasons to not eat at your desk. But there’s also good reasons not to want to sit around gabbing. You do you.

    7. CupcakeCounter*

      “Unfortunately I don’t have time for a full lunch break today”
      “I’m not really hungry right now and need to get through this task”
      “Thanks for the reminder/invite but now really isn’t a good time – I do think I can swing it tomorrow/Friday/next week after X is completed”

    8. Combinatorialist*

      I think the other comments cover many possible options, but I also think you could go (sometimes) and then get up and leave when you are ready to be done with lunch, even if they are still chatting. Since you aren’t a restaurant or driving anywhere, you can just say “I have to get back to the teapots report, I will see you later”

      1. DoomCarrot*

        How about (sometimes) saying “I prefer to eat later, but I’ll join you for coffee in a bit”, go in to socialise when they’ve finished eating, then excuse yourself to get back to work and have lunch at your desk when you’re ready?

        1. Susan K*

          I don’t think that would work because we don’t really get a “social break.” We get a lunch break, which is only supposed to be half an hour, but I guess they justify that as their legitimate lunch break just running a little long. I think it would be different if I took a “social break” to chat with them and then my real lunch break later.

      2. Susan K*

        I’d like to, and I keep going in with the intention of doing that, but it’s difficult. First of all, I try to wait for a break in the conversation because it feels rude to get up and leave in the middle of someone’s (hi-LAR-ious) story, but these conversations often have a way of blending one topic into the next such that there’s no clear break in the conversation. Secondly, depending on where I sit — and I don’t have much of a choice because I’m usually one of the last to get there — I can’t get out of the room without asking someone to move, which again, is hard to do in the middle of a rambunctious conversation.

        Finally, something I probably should have mentioned: although the conversations are mostly non-work-related, sometimes work-related discussions come up and I miss things if I’m not there. In the past, when we all ate lunch at our desks, if our manager wanted to tell us something, he’d have to say it during an actual meeting or stand outside our cubes and announce it, but now, it seems like he figures, “Everyone’s here at lunch, so I’ll just tell them now,” and forgets that not EVERYONE is there.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          It’s really ok to either get up when someone finally takes a breath (lol), or to get up quietly in the middle of one of those endless stories and silently mouth, “see you later” or “back to work” and give a little wave.

          Manager announcements: when their lunch is over, snag either the manager or someone else at the lunch and say, “Hey, I’m sorry I couldn’t join you guys for lunch, soooooo busy/this TPS report can’t wait! Did you/Did manager make any announcements I need to know about? Thanks!”

      3. Mrs_helm*

        Or say you’ve got to work. But drop in with them for a few minutes for a drink or granola bar. You don’t have to sit down, but you can join the conversation and laugh a little then go back to your desk. As long as they aren’t the “really you must sit down” crowd.

      4. Autumnheart*

        How about this? When people ask if you’re going to join them for lunch, say “Yeah! I’ll be there in about 20 minutes, just gotta finish this thing up first.” Mysteriously, you get to the break room after everyone’s done eating. What a coincidence.

    9. CM*

      Could you go late and eat lunch a bit early, so you’re with them for the last 10 minutes or so? I think while you’re under no obligation, the social isolation part is real, and you don’t want to be shut out of conversations that everyone else is having — you might miss out on important information because lunch is essentially becoming a team meeting with a lot of chatting.

    10. Enginear*

      No, you’re not obligated. Just say “You guys go ahead, I’ll eat lunch in a bit” or tell them you like to eat lunch at 1pm and for them to not wait up on you and keep at it so that they get the message. If you go out for lunch you can always say you have to a run a quick errand to the bank or drop off a package so it doesn’t allow them to invite themselves to join you.

    11. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think you are obligated to eat with them evey day, although doing so occasionally may be a good plan. Perhaps a couple of times a month, you could go in and join them 30-40 minutes into their break, that way you are being sociable, and eating a bit later, and you only have to use 15-20 minutes to eat if that is what you prefer – in other words, join them for the end of their 45-60 minute session rather than for all of it.

      I also think that how you say no is important – if it’s a very cheerful “Oh, not right now – I’m not hungry yet”
      Depending n the individuals, you could also consider saying something like “Thanks, I find it’s really useful to me to have a break when I don’t have to focus on either work or conversation, so it generally works best for me if I eat at my desk rather than with other” – which frames it as being about you, not rejecting them specifcally.

      But unless they are pushing you I’d just stick with a cheerful “not right now, thanks” and joining them once or twice a month, for a shorter period. (if you feel awkward going in late, leave early, instead)

    12. Pommette!*

      It sounds like you don’t enjoy the eating together part of things, but still want to maintain ties with the team. Would going in to the lunch room with your colleagues, but only stay for a fifteen minute coffee/tea break, be an option? You can make it clear that you’re a late luncher (“I find that eating lunch at 12:00 really puts me to sleep!”), but that you still enjoy their company.

    13. Pennalynn Lott*

      If it were me, I’d join them at the start but not eat. Just take my beverage-of-choice and chat for a half-hour. Then pop up and say anything transitional, “Back to the grindstone,” “I’ve got to finish that TPS report,” whatever. You don’t need to wait for a lull in the conversation. After a while, it will become normal and expected that Susan only stays for 30 minutes (or less). Plus, by getting to the conference room early, you can pick a chair by the door for a fast exit. Then eat at your desk at your normal time.

      There’s also nothing wrong with saying, “I enjoy chatting with everyone but I’ve got a heavy workload and want to be able to leave at 5:00, so you’ll understand if I can’t stay for the entire lunch period most days.”

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I think this would work. You can also just say that you prefer to eat later, because they definitely will ask why you’re not eating if you’re sitting there with your beverage-of-choice.
        But I think once you establish it, like Pennalynn says, it will just be normal that you only join once a week and leave after 30 minutes. No one will blink an eye, and people won’t think you’re an oddball.

    14. WellRed*

      So I commented above but reading through your other comments to people’s suggestions about all the reasons NO, I think your bigger issue may be you don’t feel like you fit in generally or perhaps you’re very self conscious. Is either or both of those a possibility and how can you work on that? If not, then you are certainly overthinking this lunch thing. Go late and eat, go on time and slip out early. Go and don’t eat. No one is monitoring you.

    15. LizLemon*

      I don’t think you should feel obligated to take breaks with them, but I think you have good instincts that this may isolate you from the group if everyone else is doing it. My suggestion would be to try and connect in other ways on a regular basis – for instance, making sure to greet people when you arrive, and stop occasionally to exchange pleasantries and maybe exchange stories from the weekend, or comment on an interesting news story (like an interesting scientific discovery, not politics or something depressing). Or if you ever go on walks outside for a short break, maybe see if anyone wants to join you. I had one coworker in the past who never ate lunch with the group, but he would readily go on hikes with others as a break during the work day (we worked by the mountains with some walking trails). I think he just preferred connecting with people one on one instead of a group.

    16. OtterB*

      My office instituted a once-a-week lunch in the conference room a couple of years ago because we felt too siloed. Granted this is not an every day thing, but sometimes on lunch day I eat early at my desk while working on something, then drop into the conference room with a can of soda or a cup of water and hang out for a short while, then go back to work.

      In part this may be managing expectations. Somebody said eat with them sometimes, but vary the days. I’d say, pick a day or maybe two that you will join them regularly, and it will eventually become a thing that Susan joins us for lunch on Mondays and Thursdays but not the other days, and that’s okay. Also, I’d be careful that you don’t inadvertently put across the message that you are industrious and they are lazy slackers.

      1. Susan K*

        I understand how to say “no thanks” to eating lunch with them, but as I explained, it is more complicated than that. I am concerned that not joining the team for lunch will isolate me from the rest of the team and negatively affect my job and career. Some other people who have replied to this (Not So NewReader and Workerbee) said that they had similar situations in which they chose not to eat lunch with their teams and in hindsight, felt that decision was a mistake, so I don’t think my concern is unfounded.

    17. Kathenus*

      I mentioned this in another part of this thread but it’s kind of buried into some of the replies, so reiterating it here. I definitely get your situation, and empathize completely in many ways. One suggestion from your various responses that might help – if they eat 12-1 and you prefer 1-2, maybe you could try taking lunch from 12:45-1:45 instead. From 12:45-1 you just socialize with the group, then when they mosey off to their desks you eat your lunch. Might be a compromise that helps navigate this. Good luck.

    18. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Is there one person that eats lunch with the bunch that you get along well with? If so, could you tell that person that you usually like to eat later and you generally eat at your desk because you have consistently have a heavy workload? (Not whiny, just matter of fact.) And tell them you know you are missing the cameraderie as well as work-related info, and would they be able to give you a little summary of all the important bits (manager mentioned X, Jason bought a house)? Then later you can congratulate Jason on his house.

    19. CoffeeAdict*

      “Yep, I”m just going to finish this blah, blah, blah and then I will be right in.” Then about 30-45 minutes later bring in your tea and say, “what did I miss?” When your tea is gone go back to work.

    20. CM*

      I think that maybe rather than looking at this as a choice you’re making or a type of ostracism you’re inflicting on yourself, it might help to look at it as random bad luck. You got mixed in with a group of coworkers who have a different disposition from you, and things would be easier if they had a more similar disposition, but they don’t, so that’s an obstacle.

      And then, instead of putting pressure on yourself to change so that you don’t have to deal with the obstacle, just let the obstacle exist. If it ever becomes an issue that they’re all chummy with each other, and it has a negative impact on you, try to deal with the specific situation where that’s happening, but don’t lose sleep about it in advance.

    21. MissDisplaced*

      I hate stuff like this because I don’t like taking lunch and would much rather just keep working on through.

    22. Minimax*

      I think lunch is almost a red herring. For some reason you either have more worm then everyone else and your boss doesn’t realize (big problem) or you are just slower then the rest of them.

      I think that’s the main issue – your workload doesn’t allow you to join the team socials.

      Also I would definitely not makes comments along the lines of – Im swamped, too busy, etc. When asked everyday about lunch.

      Finally, since your boss is asking I think you are missing the signals that the boss is trying to set up a friendlier team with more breaks. You are resisting a culture shift, and that’s not a good thing.

  8. Homework…?*

    I have been applying for work in nonprofit development, and before my first in-person interview at a small org the hiring manager asked me to submit the following:

    – Identify 5 potential region-specific corporate partners or foundations the nonprofit doesn’t already work with
    – Write about how each company’s official corporate giving policies align with the nonprofit’s mission
    – Make a list of other nonprofits the company currently supports, and who they have given to previously
    – Identify the best people to reach out to in their corporate giving programs, and find contact information and bios

    For job applications, I’m used to providing writing samples, taking aptitude tests, or writing about theoretical scenarios, but this seems like it’s just…doing the actual job.

    I haven’t applied to many development/fundraising jobs before–is this normal?

    1. Grace*

      This seems very abnormal to me. I work at a NPO and we hired a Development Director several months ago. Nowhere in the hiring process did we ask for anything like this… we were mostly interested in how she generated revenue at her previous job, her communication and interpersonal skills, and her vision for the org (if she was hired ).

      For some of those questions, I’m not sure how you would even know how to answer! You mentioned it is a small org – do you know approximately how many people work there? Or what their operating budget is?

      1. Homework…?*

        It’s small and relatively young, but growing fast, and their development department is hiring for more than one position right now. They have some major corporate donors already; I’m supposed to look at their “partners” page to get “inspiration” (and know who to rule out).

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      Woah, I’m a professional fundraiser and I would totally balk at that – that’s work they should be paying someone to do! It is literally a full time job to research new prospective donors and it’s unreasonable to expect a job candidate to give them information that they will almost certainly be using later.

      There are enough open fundraising jobs in this economy that personally I would rescind my application based on what they’re asking for – this is not how a healthy, professional organization operates!

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        As a prospect researcher by trade…YES, it is a full time job! And I would be irate as heck if our organization were trying to get applicants for non-prospect research jobs to do MY job for free.

    3. AndersonDarling*

      At first, I thought the list was really time consuming and too much to ask for an early applicant. But if you are familiar with the work the non-profit does, this may not be so hard. But…5 is a lot to ask for, and how would you know which organizations the non-profit works with if you don’t work there. I could see asking for one example and keeping the 2nd point to a few sentences.
      I’m guessing they have had some dud people in the position that couldn’t do the basics of the work and so they are over reaching with this task. If you really, really want to peruse this, I’d state that you can’t devote 20 hours to building 5 unique business proposals and see what their response is. It is very possible that they haven’t really considered the time involved. And if they have, then you don’t want to work with a company that expects so much work for free.

      1. Homework…?*

        The early applicant thing is a sticking point is weird for me, too. I feel like if you were going to do something like this, wouldn’t it be after you’ve narrowed down the applicant pool, not just after a phone interview?

        Even when I’ve done things like aptitude tests, they have been after or at a first in-person interview.

        I was also not really at my best during the phone call, for some reason (to the point that my notes from during the call have a bunch of frowny faces drawn on them) and wasn’t expecting to be a top candidate.

    4. Operation Glowing Symphony*

      No for entry/mid level. Yes only for Directors but they’d have you write a development plan and strategy.

      They think they’re getting you to flex and demonstrate your skills but in reality (and they may know it) you’re doing work for them. They’re definitely testing your resourcefulness and research BUT this is what you’d do full-time and not appropriate for an interview in which you’d likely spend up to 5 hours and come out with less than fulfilling results. 90% of foundations don’t have a website so you’ll be hanging out with the big brand names that they already have access to.

      They SHOULD give you a funder they’ve worked with and ask you to detail a profile and giving information based on what’s publicly available so they can test you on what they already know. They’re testing you on information they don’t even know.

      “potential region-specific corporate partners or foundations the nonprofit doesn’t already work with” How would you know this unless they had it one their website or you have to use a foundation directory to figure out who they’ve received dollars from and then use that same database to figure out who would be good partners (btw non-profits don’t buy this database access at $400-800/year)

      – Write about how each company’s official corporate giving policies align with the nonprofit’s mission – not a bad task because it’s relative to the work but we wouldn’t do that on a normal basis unless your job is to a source, profile and evaluate each prospect. Unfortunately, so many companies don’t have this you’ll be doing a lot of work for the org.

      – Make a list of other nonprofits the company currently supports, and who they have given to previously. Only if they post it on their website and/or annual report. That’s a lot of footwork.

      – Identify the best people to reach out to in their corporate giving programs, and find contact information and bios. Again – that’s not always available especially since you have to pre-apply to even get a contact name.

      You’re right – they’re wrong to ask you to do all this. This is their culture – they take advantage of people so what makes you think they don’t take advantage of their employees? If you do it because you think you really want to work for this org and this job, know that how they treat you in the interview is a strong indication of how they’ll treat you on the job.

      What I’d do: I’d do one with the basics and report how long it took me to do it without resources (that you’d assume they have but probably don’t) . Then I would give them a price list for the next 4 at my hourly rate when I consult. I’d submit it and write off the job all together because they’re being absurd.

      For you: Do 1 really well and let them know that you spent a good amount of time on one and wanted to spend the rest of the time preparing for other aspects of the interview. Let them know where you couldn’t find information as it would be best sourced from areas that are 1) paywalled 2) required an account or 3) is only available through a pre-screen or non-profit connection.

    5. MissBliss*

      I’ve been a fundraiser for five years and I’ve applied for a few jobs in that time, and it is not normal. It’s definitely too much to be asking someone to do before a first in-person interview.

      I also… don’t know how this would help them at all. They’re probably aware of the funding opportunities they don’t currently work with that they’re already aligned with; they haven’t gotten the money in the past for a reason. A total outsider could say “Foundation X would be perfect because the missions totally align” and make a compelling argument but everyone back at the organization knows that Foundation X will never fund them because they received a grant 10 years ago and totally bungled it. You need to know the inside of the organization to really know what funding opportunities apply.

      1. CL Cox*

        I would think that knowing what talent you have available at the company to tap into in making the pitch to the prospective backer would be essential as well. Did your boss go to the same college/fraternity/high school as the CFO at a target company? You’re going to want to have them make the initial contact, it gets you that foot in the door so you can make your best pitch.

    6. Policy Wonk*

      Sounds to me like this is an effort to get new leads by asking job applicants to do the prep work. There was an agency in my hometown that had a reputation for advertising a job for a grant writer whenever they were preparing a grant application. They would provide the scenario, ask the applicants to give them written grant application samples, then use the ideas but never hire anyone. This sounds to me like the same kind of thing.

    7. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      This is WAY too much for them to ask for! This is them basically asking you to do the job without being paid. Red flag for sure!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Not my field but I do volunteer work for an NPO. If we wrote a similar exercise we’d be asking for way too much free work. As others have said, I’d write this one off as it seems this is a group of people who do not have boundaries.
        We did develop an exercise to do for interviews. Most of the candidates were able to go from start to finish within 24-36 hours on the exercise (this includes doing regular life stuff) and still come up with good answers. The exercise itself was something they would use to start the job if they were hired. (Once they completed the exercise it was super obvious that they would use their own work to start.)

    8. Ama*

      Yes this seems like a lot. It might also just be that I work in a nonprofit area where our corporate partners and foundations aren’t always publicly identified or you wouldn’t necessarily be able to find that info easily on our website (for example some of our invite-only programs the sponsors are acknowledged at the program but not anywhere else), so I find myself wondering how you’re supposed to know everyone they are currently working with, unless they sent you a list with the application.

      1. June First*

        +1
        Also in that field. This seems like a lot when you’re a finalist, let alone before the first in-person interview. I’d cancel the interview because if they have a lack of boundaries now, think of how the workload will be once you’re hired.

    9. BRR*

      Ive experienced this level of ask and it’s waAaaayyy too much work to ask of an applicant. People underestimate how much time this type of work takes if they do it well. I also don’t know if it’s necessarily I’ll intent, I know the thought process could be “how well will they perform.” But employers should know that this can appear to be getting work for free. Personally, if I didn’t need the job I would push back or withdraw.

    10. Hiding From My Boss*

      They’re trying to get a lot of work out of you for free–research, analysis–under the guise of “job application.” They’ll take all you provide and use it for their benefit after the interview whether they hire you or not. Went through an application like this one time, and saw thru them in a flash.

    11. Chaordic One*

      It’s pretty sleazy, but since they are a nonprofit, they think they can get away with it. It’s a big red flag and probably the tip of an iceberg of other unethical behavior.

    12. Arts Akimbo*

      Sounds very much like unpaid labor to me. They’re essentially asking you to do all the groundwork for five new fundraising targets for free. Not saying they’re going to turn around and use all your work while letting you hang, but not saying they won’t, either. It’s not a good look for them, put it that way.

  9. Quill*

    Why is it that wednesday and thursday are so dead in my office and then friday involves me popping over my cube like a prairie dog of ill omen to bother the IT guy every ten minutes because the data I was supposed to get is being delayed due to technical difficulties?

    1. Lovecraft Beauty*

      IDK, but “a prairie dog of ill omen” is an amazing phrase and I’m going to be cackling quietly to myself for the next ten minutes at least.

      1. Fikly*

        I am flashing back to the prarie dog exhibit at the Bronx Zoo where children can pop their heads up in plastic tubes next to the prarie dogs.

    2. Realistically speaking*

      So with you, today is the day that one particular task in my office gets done which means that the software is getting bombarded with reports. Usually this wouldn’t be a problem but of course this is the one day we need to get into the software to do something (this would be a non issue M-Th). and it locks up every time we try to find the report we need.

      1. Quill*

        Good luck, my issue got solved via the application of finding the one person willing to just hop into the software and use their admin password to change a setting.

  10. Stymied Manager*

    I have a direct report who is a really high performer. She is also non-neurotypical. She has been with the company for a long time, doing essentially the same set of tasks, which she is very, very good at and which she clearly enjoys being expert at. Unfortunately the vast majority of what she does is being automated or moved to a different function and in 6 months or so she will not have much to do. There is plenty of other work in our department to keep her busy but she has steadfastly refused to take on new types of work. Here is where I need some help: I have no idea if she has a diagnosis but she shares many behaviors with people I have known who have ASD. The “not neurotypical” conversation on this site last year has been HUGELY helpful to me in managing her, thank you all so much! (Link below.) Can anyone help me understand what might be daunting about taking on new tasks that I am not thinking about? My tendency is to focus on the positives of the new role I want her to take on (“but there will be zero telephone work!” “there will be no sales people pestering you!” “all the work is predictable, there won’t be any firedrills!” – all of which she dislikes in her current role) as well as reassuring (“we will train you and support you learning this new role” “we are committed to helping you be every bit as successful in the new role as you have always been in your current role” “this role can’t be automated or performed by any another function so it is very secure”) but so far I am getting nowhere. I really, really want to retain her and I firmly believe the new role I have in mind is one she will very successful at once we get her trained and will in the end suit her better for reasons above. What am I doing wrong or missing? Is there a more persuasive way to approach this? HELP?

    1. Tegdirb*

      I don’t think your link came through and I don’t have any good suggestions but can I commend you for approaching this with compassion? Because you are and that’s great.

    2. Hazy Days*

      Have you been very clear, in as many words, that she must change her tasks to continue in employment, whether or not she wants to?
      I wonder if you’ve been so keen to make the change sound appealing that you haven’t spelt out that her old job has gone, and she can choose whether or not to take on the new job.
      Soft language can be confusing for non-NT people.

      1. Annony*

        I think this might be the problem. If it is phrased “Would you like to do Y?” or “What do you think about switching to Z?” then she may be giving the honest answer of no she would rather keep doing OldJob. You need to tell her that sticking with OldJob is not an option.

        1. valentine*

          You need to tell her that sticking with OldJob is not an option.
          And give her a timeline of the ramp-up/-down.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        This! Be clear.

        Also her reluctance might just be because of her resistance to change or the anxiety of change. There may be nothing you can put in the pro column that won’t be worse the con that she has to learn something new. Except if you tell her that she has to take on new duties or she’s fired because her old duties will be automated. At that point learning new duties at a familiar company with a familiar team probably beats out finding a new job somewhere else where everything is new.

        1. Combinatorialist*

          If you do end up having to let her go because she won’t take on the new role, it would be a kindness to frame it as a layoff instead of a firing in the official language. Because it is a layoff — her role was eliminated. She was offered a new position, but didn’t want it, but the fundamental cause is that her role was eliminated.

      3. Yarrow*

        I heavily agree with this. There’s a decent chance I might not pick up on what you’re trying to do with the softening language. If she’s not fully aware of how these future changes will impact her job, then it’s time to have a conversation about how things are going and let her know that she will need to gain some new skills and shift into different work. Present this as something you want her to understand and be prepared for and offer whatever support you can on that. The more straightforward and structured and important you can make this sound the better.

      4. sheep jump death match*

        Yeah, my first thought was that she hasn’t realized/understood that her job will go away in six months if she doesn’t learn this new stuff. You have to be very explicit. “Right now you spend 20% of your time on orange futures, 20% on banana trends, and 40% on the monthly grape pressing report. All of those are moving to the new data management team for automation, so we need to find something new for you to spend four days a week on so you still have a job after the automation. If we don’t find new tasks, we won’t have a job for you.”

      5. KoiFeeder*

        Definitely be clear! I have ASD, and from the language you’re using here (which may be different when you talk to her!) it sounds like this is an optional change and not a mandatory one if she chooses to stay with you guys.

        But also, no salespeople, no telephone calls, and no surprise firedrills? Please sign me up!

      6. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Agreed!

        You said ” I really, really want to retain her and I firmly believe the new role I have in mind is one she will very successful at once we get her trained and will in the end suit her better for reasons above” plus “and her current job will not exist in six months” can be the skeleton of the conversation.

      7. Fellow non-neurotypical*

        Yes, I think it’s a combination of not being direct plus change is super scary.

        What you need to do, if you want to retain her, is have the change you propose be less scary than the change that will happen if she doesn’t adapt to new tasks, which is unemployment. And you will need to spell that out. (And then please give time to process before you try to get a decision from her.)

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You make it sound not optional in what you’re saying here, so … stop presenting it to her like it’s a choice. “Tasks X, Y and Z are becoming automated and the teapot report is transitioning to the crockery team for business reasons. The tasks that I need the Teapot Wrangler to accomplish are A, B, and C. I think you’ll excel at these tasks because blah blah blah, and you won’t have to worry about the llamas tapdancing on your toes anymore because blah blah blah. Let’s set up a time next week to start getting you trained on A.”

      If she objects: “I’m sorry, but this is not optional. These are the tasks I need this role to take on effective (three weeks from Tuesday or whatever). If that doesn’t work for you, we’ll need to have some serious discussion about your continued employment with Teapots & Llamas LTD.”

      And if it IS optional, then what are her options?

      1. Mama Bear*

        Agreed. More “we’re going to do this” vs “do you want to…” If she’s a “toe in the water” person, she might need time to think about it. She might worry that she’s not up for it or she just doesn’t know what she doesn’t like/dislike yet and it could be avoidance because there’s a learning curve or worried about not being perfect. I’d start with something that is related to her current work but not too onerous. If someone is anxious (anxiety can be a comorbid diagnosis with any number of other alphabet soup things), then she may be internally freaked about losing her job that she is good at.

        She may need “chunking”, which is giving small pieces of data at a time. It may seem really tedious, but she may need to be introduced to a llama, then pet a llama, then feed a llama…to get all the way up to full llama care. Some people don’t do well being handed a list of llama care tasks and left on their own.

      2. learnedthehardway*

        Very much this! People on the ASD spectrum can take suggestions or anything not phrased clearly as an order as something optional. It’s important to be very clear about what is required and to be clear that it is a requirement, NOT a suggestion. Another good idea is to give time for the person to adjust to the change – with kids, one typically gives multiple warnings of a change coming (at 10, 5, 3, and 1 minutes before the change). With adults, I’d tailor that to multiple weeks, then days.

        For the OP, I would have a meeting with the employee. Tell her that her role is being automated and that X, Y, and Z functions will no longer be part of her role. Instead, she will be taking on A, B, and C tasks. To continue working for the company, she must make this transition. She will be provided training and support to make this transition. The training will start at X day. You are giving her Y weeks of notice about the change so that she can acclimatize to it. And then DO provide training and support to get the employee transitioned. Also, ask her what supports she would want to have to help accommodate her transition to the new tasks.

      3. Argh!*

        Agreed. Everyone should be treated with courtesy, honesty, and dignity. “Softening” the conversation is for the sake of the manager’s feelings, not the person whose job is disappearing.

    4. Enough*

      Could you train her in just one aspect of the new job and see how she handles that? Maybe just the whole idea that everything is going to change is too overwhelming and adding one thing at a time will be workable. And does she understand that her job is in jeopardy?

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        That was what I was going to suggest – a way to stagger the new tasks in so it isn’t as overwhelming. Combined with the matter-of-fact wording suggested by others:
        “With the automation of task X we are going to need you to take on A starting in 2 weeks. I’ve prepared this training document/video/in-person sessions (whatever works best) for you.”
        Maybe give her the list of tasks that are going away and a list of the new tasks and let her decide where to start – some control might help.

      2. pcake*

        That’s what I’d prefer, too, rather than having to learn and get used to doing a bunch of new tasks all at once.

        1. Parenthetically*

          Hell, I’m neurotypical and I’d prefer to be gradually transitioned to an entirely new set of tasks one at a time rather than in one terrifyingly fell swoop!

      3. A Poster Has No Name*

        Yup. One thing at a time, would be my recommendation (if you haven’t tried that already).

        Assuming that there are enough duties that she might have some say in which jobs she takes on, I wonder if also phrasing it as a “let’s give this a try and see how it goes” would help. If she’s nervous about change or worried she might not do well at something, if you put them out there as temporary or set the expectation that if it doesn’t work out you can try something else, that might help her make the adjustment. And then, if a particular task doesn’t work out, you have that flexibility to shut that down and move on, but she might come around just fine once she gets the hang of the new task.

        Lather, rinse, repeat until she has a new set of tasks.

    5. deesse877*

      I mean, you probably just need to be clear that the change is inevitable and that she won’t have a job if she doesn’t shift focus. Not in the sense of giving a threat, but rather (a) clarity and (b) NOT making the conversation about her preferences. From her POV, she **already knows** what she likes best, so you attempting to sell something new seems weird or unimportant. Not “daunting,” just…she doesn’t care about that stuff. What she has to understand is that her preferences are no longer relevant: she doesn’t have a choice, except the choice to build expertise in a new area.

      Maybe you’ve done that already, if so please ignore.

    6. MissGirl*

      First of all she’s an adult who can choose whether this path is for her or not. Be very straightforward. Tell her clearly and succinctly the work she is doing is going away. The only way to retain her position is to take on these new responsibilities. After offering her whatever tools, she needs the choice is hers. While its great you want to retain her, she has to want to be retained.

    7. Tex*

      Instead of reassuring her constantly, how about being a bit more matter of fact? Such as keeping her informed that the transition to automation will happen on X date, training for new responsibilities will begin with the day after. She can choose to specialize in A set of tasks or B set of tasks (that you pick out). Reevaluation of the tasks will be 3 months later, etc. It sounds like she enjoys structure and the whole ‘design your dream job’ may not appeal to her.

    8. Princess Scrivener*

      I’m a mom of a non-neurotypical adult who is working in a third job over the past few years, so we’re experienced with how to broach the subject of, and getting him to accept, a new role. Have you explained her job is going away, in very concrete words? And have you given her time to accept that? In our case, it takes weeks, sometimes longer. Huge life changes mean adjustments for everyone, but she’ll need way, way more time if she’s on the spectrum. Don’t try to ease her into something new without explaining in exact words that her job will no longer exist, but that you want to keep her. Bottom line, don’t speak in generalities, and give her plenty of time to accept that she’s gotta move. I hope this helps.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My cousin (Aspergers) didn’t get that his job was going to change until his frustrated manager said, “Your old job will be gone in one month. Either you start learning a, b, and c, or you will be in the unemployment line.”

        He was 40 at the time and all the “nice” explaining totally went over his head.

        His boss did help him with transitioning, but my cousin really didn’t “get it” until he was told point blank.

    9. Policy Wonk*

      The “not neurotypical” (as well as many neurotypicals!) are very resistant to change. And some have trouble, at least initially, with multi-step directions. You need to introduce new things one at a time and give your high performer time to master each one before moving on to the next. If you introduce more than one thing – or make a sudden large change – you may overwhelm her. Given that the change will be in six months, you have time to do this. Make it clear that X will be automated and she won’t be doing it anymore. Instead she will be doing Q, and you will work with her over the next [time period] to make sure she is comfortable with Q. Then move on to the replace Y with R, etc.

      And, at least with the people on the ASD spectrum in my life, you need to be very direct and straightforward. Don’t make it a question – can you do Q for me? They will not understand that as a direction, and may feel free to say no. But please break the changes into chunks and do them one at a time, to allow her to get accustomed to the new tasks. And good luck!

    10. Minimal Pear*

      Hi, I’m pretty neurodivergent, so here’s my POV! Starting new tasks can be really hard when you’re ND, even if you know that it’s not actually a huge deal. (In fact, knowing it’s not a huge deal can make it worse, because you feel stupid for struggling. I definitely recommend against saying stuff like, “it’s easy, I know you can do it!”)
      I do agree with others that some elements of the problem are likely that she may not be clear that she HAS to do this, and that she may be very focused on the tasks she does, so that she finds the other ones uninteresting. So I’m just going to focus on issues with starting tasks, because I haven’t seen anyone else talk about that yet.
      Basically, there’s this thing a lot of ND experience that’s often referred to as “inertia”. It’s much easier to keep doing a thing rather than switch to a new thing. This means that (for example) I’m happy to keep watching YouTube videos, but switching to making dinner is hard, no matter how hungry I am. But once I’m making dinner, hey, I may as well bake something and prep tomorrow’s dinner too! The good news is that if you can get her to make that first step, it’ll be much easier for her to chug along once she’s gotten started.
      A lot of what makes it hard to take the first step is just neurology stuff that’s hard to change and that I’ve had to learn to cope with, but some of it is that new tasks that you’re not familiar with can be daunting and you don’t know where to start. Can you break down the first few steps of getting started with the new tasks, like REALLY break them down into small steps? And provide detailed instructions with how to move forward, and make it clear she can ask if she has a question that’s not in those instructions? It may take a little longer to get her going than it would for someone NT, but again, once she gets going she’ll hopefully have the advantage of inertia.
      Of course, it’s definitely possible that something else is going on! But those are my $0.02, as a ND person.

      1. aubrey*

        Definitely agree with this! Especially if you’ve noticed she has difficulty with task switching (finding interruptions really hard is also part of this). Change just becomes this massive thing in my head and I feel like I don’t know where to start with it. I’m not able to pick something and start on my own sometimes, at least until it’s an emergency. So having someone break down the first few steps helps so that I can get things rolling. Once I’ve started it’s a thousand times easier to continue and change seems more natural instead of like it’s being imposed on me.

    11. Snowy 2020*

      I recently realized that some of my frustration with my non-neurotypical teenager is that she does not generalize. A new task that I see as using the same skills as a task she can successfully complete, she sees as something completely different and new. I now realize that I need to go back and complete the training for the new task. In my daughter’s case I demonstrate, then I walk her through it step by step, then I stand by while she does it and offer assistance as needed, then she does it herself with prompting.

      1. valentine*

        If she also sees things as broken down into as many steps as possible, it may help to consider you’re not asking her to do one thing, but 30.

    12. Stymied Manager*

      All of this is AWESOME, I cannot thank you all enough. She is very aware that her tasks are going away but yes, all my suggestions of what she could do to replace that work have been framed as suggestions. I am going to spend some time better understanding the tasks I want her to take on, then chunk them down and figure out training materials and also how to phase in the training and new tasks in chunks not all at once. And absolutely ask her what supports would be useful for her. You guys seriously rock, THANK YOU!!!

    13. Mad Harry Crewe*

      Everyone else’s replies are really good. One other thought to add, especially if you’ve already been clear about the job going away/needing to retrain – have you asked her why she’s unwilling to train on the new stuff?

      Change is scary, and it can be really easy to make assumptions that look like overwhelming barriers and then use those barriers as a reason not to do something. Once you get her to actually say the assumptions or worries out loud, it gives you the opportunity to speak to them directly. Maybe the assumption was wrong, and you can make it not a problem right then. Maybe it really is an issue that you hadn’t considered or weren’t aware of. Until you’re speaking to her underlying concerns (rather than what you think are her concerns), you aren’t going to make any progress.

    14. Hiding From My Boss*

      I’m so glad you wrote in because your employee sounds very much like a coworker of mine. I came on board as a team lead several years ago with responsibility for improving organization and efficiency. And this place needed it. However, there was a huge barrier–Jane. Over the years, Jane has established a nice predictable structure of repeating tasks, and everyone is convinced that everything she does is just great for the team. This is stuff that could be, for example, streamlined with a form letter and mailmerge, or an Excel spreadsheet with formulas. I’m not Jane’s boss, and she dug her heels in every time I suggested a change, and our manager caved in to her every time. (Painful to me, recently a new hire a lever or two higher than me saw the time wasted on one of these tasks and implemented the very tool I proposed years ago. Look at all the time he’s saving us! He’s a genius! He’s a hero! He was commended to upper management!)

      I don’t know if Jane is “non-neurotypical,” but there’s a lot of good information out there now and she shows strong signs of it.

      You aren’t doing anything wrong. Sounds like you’re bending over backward to accommodate and support your employee. However, you might not be able to change her. If she’s like Jane, change is the thing she avoids.

    15. Arts Akimbo*

      It is a well-known part of the pathology of ASD that we have extra trouble with transitions. Change is hard for everyone, but if you can think of it as a transition of this type feeling like the literal END OF THE WORLD to someone, that might help you to understand her reactions. (I get jangly nerves on my skin and an overweening sense of existential wrongness at times like these– not great for one’s focus, or for learning new stuff! :)) It is the response of many people to bury their heads in the sand with regard to impending change (and not just ASD folks!), so framing it for her in plain language that her current job duties *will* end by X date, so she needs to start getting up to speed in these other duties.

      Then make a schedule. Carve an hour out of her days to be spent on specific tasks which will bring her up to speed in these other duties. Make some kind of accountability metric, like a number of specific things being addressed per day. Have someone train her if possible, or at least close by to answer questions. Establishing set blocks of time for this will be the easiest way to get her to face the coming changes, imo.

  11. Wing Leader*

    How do I not come off as a curmudgeon to my overly happy coworker? I have a coworker who–as soon as I walk in every Friday morning–will get up, dance, and sing something like, “It’s Friday, woo! It’s Friday, woo!” And I’ll usually just say something like, “Oh, yeah, haha, it’s Friday.” I’m not really the type to dance and sing around my office, but she will keep at it until I show the amount of enthusiasm that she’s looking for. Ugh.

    1. OperaArt*

      I’m curious how long she would really keep it up if you just gave a polite, friendly answer, and continued about your business. One minute? Ten minutes? Two hours? It could be fun to experiment.
      Don’t be afraid for her to think you’re a curmudgeon. Be friendly in a professional way, and everyone else will see that.

    2. fposte*

      Maybe you need to come off more of a curmudgeon so she stops bugging you.

      “I’m glad you’re happy, but please don’t treat me like a circus monkey.”

      1. Salymander*

        Yeah, if you want to be seen as a curmudgeon you will really need to commit. Be the curmudgeon you want others to think you are.
        When folks do that whole happy happy dance thing at me, I just look at them quizzically and walk away. If they persist, a raised eyebrow paired with an absolutely non-smiley face will do the trick. This is the sort of situation that resting grump face (RGF) was made for.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          As a fellow curmudgeon, I strongly suggest you give her a look like she’s some sort of aberration, and say in a monotone “I’m glad you’re happy it’s Friday, but would you please keep it down? There are people trying to work here.” Then ignore her.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Seriously, don’t feed it that much. Just smile and say “Good morning!” and move on. It’s not rude to let her dance it out by herself.

      These folks don’t get to make you go to their level like that, by being firm in being kind and responsive but not over the top is crucial for both of your happiness in the end. Your happiness and comfort is no less important than hers.

    4. Nanc*

      “Not in Japan!” (or whatever country is a day ahead of your area!).
      “Thanks for the calendarial update!”
      “All the way until midnight!”
      “More precisely, it’s the 6th Friday of 2020!”
      “And National Lame Duck Day!”
      I worked with one of those cheery chirpy super happy it’s morning/Friday/whatever people and I am not a morning person. Since I couldn’t change them, I started replying with stuff like the above. It satisfied their need for enthusiasm and I learned a lot about various National days/weeks/months!

      1. Amy Sly*

        I got very good at time zones from a coworker who would never stop asking “Is it 5:00 yet?” “In Moscow.” “In Berlin.” “In London.” “On Prince Edward Island.” “In New York”

    5. Enginear*

      God, reminds me of people who tell you to smile and don’t give up until you give them a smile. I’m busy working, don’t bother please.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t give it to her. It’s as simple as that. The longer you respond the way she wants the longer it will take you to undo this habit of hers.

      It can look like this, “Sue, I am not a sing and dance type person. So I will let you do my share of the song and dance.” Then set your stuff down, turn on your computer and make other noises that telegraph you are just going about your morning routine. Let her do her show.
      If you think this is too tame for her to hear, then say, “Sue, every Friday you try to get me into this song and dance stuff. I am really not into it. So from now on you will have to do it without my participation.”

  12. Dorothy Parker*

    I applied for an internal role–lateral transfer to a new team. I came into the process a little late but they had me go through two rounds over two weeks. Both times, the response time was just a few business days. My last interview was over a week ago and I haven’t heard any word since. I didn’t ask about a precise timeline in my second round interview but am wondering if I can follow-up with the HR recruiter to see where things stand?

    1. Stornry*

      Remain calm – remember there could be any number of reasons the final selection is taking longer even on an internal recruitment: they could be reviewing the HR files (for past performance records), talking to the candidates supervisors, gauging personality fit, one of the panelists may have been sidelined with an emergency to take care of, or they could be waiting on the head honcho to approve their selection and that person has not been available. I’ve run into all of these.

      But yes, it’s okay to politely ask the HR recruiter, just once, if they have a timeline of when you can expect to hear back.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      The feedback on the first two probably came so quickly because you’re late to the process. As in, they just needed those two interviews to be Go/No-Go. Now, at the third stage, they’re likely evaluating you against the other candidates, so everyone in the running hasn’t gotten a response yet.

  13. Anananon*

    At what point do we give up on a new colleague?

    I’m in a team of 4 with a high but manageable workload. We specialise in, let’s say, polar bear taming. Half the team are experts on taming the bears and the other half are experts on veterinary care, but we can all do everything. One of my veterinary teammates is leaving and gave an amazing 6-month notice which ends in about 2 months. His replacement has been with us for about 3 months. She is an amazing vet, but she struggles with basic bear taming tasks which are absolutely vital to the job. We’re not the best human trainers so we are trying to set her up to succeed as well as we can.

    This week, to see where she’s at, our boss gave her a simple but long bear taming task. I offered to sit with her and help where required (with the green light from the boss) and she agreed. There were 2 parts to the task and I asked her what the deadline for the second task was. She seemed surprised and said she had not seen the second task. I told my boss that she wasn’t aware of it and asked if an extension was possible. My boss said she told my colleague about both tasks in writing and she replied.

    Before this I thought there was a chance that we could make it work out, but from what I have seen I don’t see a way of getting her to the required level. I don’t think she lied to me, but that it was a lack of attention that made her miss the second task. Next Wednesday I have to tell my boss whether I think we should let her finish her probation (2 more months). Do you think this is workable in the long term? Or should my feedback be to let her go now?

    1. Moving the needle*

      Don’t take that burden on yourself, but leave the decision to your boss. Just describe what you’ve seen/witnessed and whether she has the sufficient skills or not, and why. Give your boss the data she needs to take an informed decision.

    2. TallTeapot*

      Has anyone sat down with her and had a conversation about the concerns that you all are seeing? As Alison always says, having that kind of conversation is a kindness.
      I just went through this with an assistant and when I told them that this is what I had been observing (lack of initiative, not solving problems, waiting to be told what to do and once told, not coming to people with specific problems, but instead saying “I don’t know how to do this at all”, even after having been shown how to do it). I then said these are the changes we need to see for them to be successful in the role and that if they didn’t feel that they would be able to do that, then this role may not be a fit for their skills.
      They handed in their resignation a few days later, which was probably the best outcome for everyone.

    3. Annony*

      Be honest about the level she is at. But I don’t think the solution is necessarily to let her go early. If there are 2 months left in her probation, it would be best if your boss had an honest conversation with her that if her performance does not improve, she will not pass probation. And then list out the areas where there are problems and makes sure she understands that while her specialty is in veterinary care, competence in bear training is essential to the job.

    4. learnedthehardway*

      It’s possible that your boss was less clear than they think they were, and that your colleague agreed to something without understanding all of it. (I just came out of one of the inevitable conversations that follows a miscommunication like that, and it really does throw you for a loop when it happens – you thought the other person meant X and it turns out they really meant Y, but they were sure you had understood them, and so had told you to go ahead, and now you have produced a porpoise instead of a zebra, and now you’re both looking at each other like you’re from entirely different planets.)

      Your colleague may need to have the requirement spelled out for her more clearly. They may also need some more training in how to fulfill that aspect of their role. It’s possible they need to have it emphasized that this half of the role is a requirement for them to do. Their manager should probably be the one doing this, mind you.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Go back to square one and directly say, “We all do bear taming tasks here. It’s a key part of everyone’s job.”
      You can review the steps of the tasks.
      You can ask her what parts she is having trouble with.

      My personal fav is just to do the task together. This is because I can see where the exact problems are. I am very willing to do this for people who are doing well with the rest of the job and/or show a sincere intent to get up to speed.

      I assume there is more to it than what you have written here. I don’t think it’s a big deal to miss a second part of an email. Most people do this and it happens often enough. If I had a dime for every time I had to email back and say, “And the answer to the second question is????” I’d be very rich. This could be new job jitters, too. If she genuinely missed the second task in the email, then saying she lied is a bit of a reach. It would be more accurate to say she was sloppy or reading too fast.

      Sometimes you can gain traction in a situation like this by simply explaining “We do a lot of bear taming here.” If you can add something like, “I would guess that each of us spends x % of our week doing bear taming, every week.” This is how to get the point across that this is what the job entails. It could be that she does not like bear taming and she just can’t make the job work for her, this information might come out if you elaborate on this point with her.

    6. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      What’s your position in the team relative to her? Are you peers, are you a Senior vet/tamer?
      If she would be a great vet but has no hope of getting better at bear taming – is it possible that some of your workloads could be more ‘specialized’ or is it the case that you all have to be able to do all the tasks and that’s that?
      Is it possible that the boss didn’t actually give the info about the 2nd part of the task?
      Can you / your boss have a clear conversation with her that she is in danger of not passing her probation (maybe that wasn’t actually clear) and review in another month? She has 2 more months of probation so I don’t think you need to “let her go now” if there is any chance of improvement?

    7. fhqwhgads*

      Based on what you described, let her go now.
      I am assuming that when other staff were this new, by this point they’d be far beyond where she is? Assuming that’s the case, she’s proven herself already, in a bad way.
      While it may be possible for some unicorn to turn it around from here, I think it’s extremely unlikely.

  14. Anonymous Educator*

    Does anyone else find performance reviews… not how they actually improve as employees? I mean I get there has to be a paper trail and an official method to evaluate employees (for things like raises and promotions), but the whole exercise seems really artificial, especially because when I’ve improved in the workplace, it’s just because I’ve learned stuff and not because someone wrote up a paragraph telling me “This is what you need to improve.”

    1. LunaMei*

      I think it’s one of the many things where, if you have a good manager, they will be useful. If you have a mediocre-to-bad manager, they will be useless. I have a good manager now, who uses them to actually coach us and set career goals – but he also does checks in throughout the year to make sure we are doing okay, and feel like we’re meeting those goals, and growing professionally. The feedback he gives is concrete and actionable. He doesn’t just plop us down once a year and spout some vagueries, like my last manager did.

      1. Brownie*

        Yup, especially relating to career goals. A good manager will make the time to sit down and ask the employee where they want to go, give feedback on how to get there, and help coach the employee to make career goals that are realistic and beneficial. A bad manager only cares about checking the box that the annual career goal paperwork was filled out by the employee. A really bad manager won’t even look at the goals submitted by the employee, just rubber-stamps them into the system.

      2. Middle Manager*

        Agree. They are what you make them, on both sides. If you treat them as bureaucratic paperwork, they will be. If a manager chooses to put more effort into them, and the employee is open to feedback, they can be valuable.

    2. knitter*

      I find the process artificial because I expect to be given feedback through out the year. However, having been the supervisor doing the evaluations in past jobs, I appreciated the time to reflect on the performance of a staff member as a whole and be able to give feedback in a more global manner.

      More importantly though, the first 10+ years I received no actionable feedback–just “you’re so great”–but in my actually job I was really struggling. My current job is a functional workplace, so I relish any feedback I get to help me hone my internal self-monitoring system. Both things I can be really proud of and things I need to improve. I just had an evaluation and I’m referencing it frequently to make sure I’m incorporating the feedback. I can identify things I’m good and bad at then actively seek help for the latter, but I really appreciate the outside perspective.

      1. Eleaner*

        +1
        If the feedback is not given in a timely manner, it is one of the most miserable feelings. Feels like your manager was either stretching to find something for the annual or just held onto something that was bugging them and not telling you. Worst one I had was when this effect was magnified by the dreaded vague Fix This with no specific examples.

    3. Anonymous For This*

      I’ve never found that performance evaluations to be helpful. Part of the problem is that my educational institution has separated the “achievement” (a good performance review) and the “reward” (a raise) by such a long period of time (it takes about 6 months for a raise to reach the paycheck), that there’s no longer positive feedback resulting from the evaluation. It’s just another form we have to fill out.

    4. Chronic Overthinker*

      My review is coming up. We had a self-evaluation which I prefer as I can tell my boss how I think I’m moving forward and what I thought my achievements were and what skills/abilities/goals I want to pursue in the future. Providing actionable and measurable goals is important in reviews. It shows progress and desire to learn.

      I don’t like reviews that are thrust upon me, like “here is what you’ve done wrong. Here are vague suggestions on how to improve.” That sounds like a bad management style.

    5. Mill Miker*

      I find them useful from a coordination point of view more than anything. I also find I improve by learning new things, but the meeting is where my manager and I make sure that we have the same idea of what new things I’d like the opportunity to learn.

      Even if you communicate regularly, it’s still helpful to have the formal, uninterrupted checkpoint where you both sit down and make sure that your mutual understanding hasn’t drifted in slightly different directions.

    6. JustaTech*

      As an employee (I’ve never been a manager) the useful part of my company’s performance review is when I sit down and go through everything I did in the past year. I’m often surprised by the big projects I did and then promptly forgot about, so it’s good to remember what I did.

      Most of the process we all find very artificial (especially the goal setting, because my department’s job is “respond to things that come up suddenly”). I talk with my boss (and bosses up the chain) regularly about what I’m doing, what I want to be doing, and regularly ask if I’m missing anything.

      I think that there are probably some types of jobs where performance reviews actually can be useful, for positions that have a lot of hard metrics (sales? customer service?), but for everyone who has a job that’s more “squishy”, then the standard performance eval is less useful.

    7. Humble Schoolmarm*

      I think this is industry specific, but yes, my reviews do feel very artificial because the requirements are completely artificial. My review is mostly based on pre-scheduled classroom observations and per the powers that be that lesson needs to have
      1- The learning goal clearly stated
      2- a mini-lesson explicitly tied in to said goal. (this needs to have a chance for students to observe say, a grammatical principal in a model text, explicit instruction and an I do, we do, you do approach to practice).
      3- Be culturally relevant
      4- Involve individual and small group conferences
      5- Allow ‘movement for learning’
      6- Adaptations for the needs of diverse learners
      7- Offer an on the spot assessment opportunity (for 28 twelve year olds)
      8- Wrap up with a reflexion on the learning goal (by said 28 twelve year olds)
      9- Some social and emotional learning is a plus.
      There’s no way you can do all of that well in an hour. I do pretty much all of it as part of my regular practice, but over the run of 3 days to a week, not 55 minutes (You’ll also notice that there’s no time allotted on that schedule to get the kids in and settled and check in with Fergusina about her late assignment, ask Melinda how her hockey game went and watch Bob and Jonny like a hawk to make sure the feud brewing since lunch time doesn’t devolve into fisticuffs; oh and convince Alister that he doesn’t need to give you the play by play of the escalating feud, he just needs to sit down and work). In the end, you either teach the way you always do and get a mediocre evaluation or you pick the biggest bangs and whistles lesson you have, plow through it like you’re outrunning the pedagogy police and resolve to reteach it properly tomorrow (oh, and smile and nod when the principal compliments you on your top notch lesson, but reminds you that you need a reflection).

      1. Alternative Person*

        I have an eval coming up and this is the most accurate representation I have seen yet.

        Last year, after my Observer left, one of my students asked me why I was teaching really weird that morning.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      For the most part the performance reviews I have received are pretty much useless and a waste of my time. Old Job would have me come in on my day off for my review. Yeah, I got paid for the hour but it broke up my day as well as wasting my time. Ten minutes of the review was a list of things I had done wrong. Fifty minutes of the review was all about future plans the company had and the relaying of messages from the company about how great the company is. (You could tell the boss had to relay certain messages.)

      At the job before that, the boss wrote down things that were not even true. Actually that was useful information because I knew I needed to find the exit door and use it. But in the moment, seeing her lies on paper was infuriating and deflating all in the same shot.

    9. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      I’ve never found them to be useful for improving as an employee (and, actually, I don’t think that’s what they are really intended for, even if it may be how they are presented to you!)

      For the simple reason that if you’re reasonably self-aware – if you’re doing well at the job you will already be conscious of that. If you’re not doing so well, you probably have a sense of that too — and ideally if there are performance problems or specific things your boss wants you to do differently, they would have been brought up during the year rather than just sprung on you in the review! (And if they are sprung on the review as I have experienced… generally there isn’t much hope of “improving” in the eyes of that particular boss anyway).

      Generally they are retrospective about stuff you’ve already done and may talk about things to do in the future but the future inevitably changes during the year, and at the end of the next year the objectives (etc) get changed to reflect reality!

      Having said that, I have had constructive discussions from the review process (not necessarily reflected in the wording) where things came out in the conversation like the boss wished I would be more confident in a particular area, I need to be better with keeping on top of paperwork (we had to do timesheets and other admin like that, and I was terrible at keeping up with them) etc. I suppose the boss didn’t think they were important enough to have a Big Discussion during the year, but then they come up in conversation.

      I do make a point of asking the boss during these reviews “is there anything you’d want me to be doing differently” (worded appropriately for the particular boss) to try and flush out these things.

    10. Mimi*

      Honestly, the most use I get out of my annual review is seeing it as a time when both my boss and grandboss are going to sit in a room with me for an hour+ and listen to what I have to say. The way my company does reviews is weird in general, and neither boss not grandboss are the sort of people who work to make the review useful in general, so for the past few reviews I’ve used my self-review to open up a conversation about things I would like them to pay attention to.

    11. fhqwhgads*

      I don’t usually expect performance reviews to be primarily about improving as an employee? Sure, yes, there’s a section about “improvements” but that’s one small part of it. Mostly it’s about both setting expectations clearly for next year, and making sure they’re measurable, and evaluating how I met expectations for the past year, and noting my accomplishments from the past year.
      It’s true for me too when I improve it’s because I’ve learned stuff, but the improvements on my reviews generally boil down to “learn stuff” or “continue learning xyz”. The times when there’s a paragraph about “This is what you need to improve” generally comes up when someone is NOT meeting the expectations for their role (which hasn’t personally happened to me). For someone whose doing just fine, or even excellent, the improvements basically boil down to “keep doing what you’re doing but at a measurably higher level than right now”, which if you’re a high performer, you were going to do anyway. You’d never be doing it because the review said so. It’s the other way around: whatever a reasonable expectation of progress is for your role is what your review should say you’ll do next.
      If it’s feeling artificial for you or like the focus is in the wrong direction, it may be that your company does reviews poorly.

  15. Zoe Karvounopsina*

    Question for the commentariat about meeting schedules! I work for a UK based university, where academics regularly teach in the evenings (as well as lunchtimes.) We are currently scheduling University Committee meetings for the 2020-21 academic year, and a question has arisen over scheduling meetings over half terms. The two opinions are:

    1) We should avoid scheduling meetings at half term, as it places an unfair burden on academics who have to come up with childcare.
    2) We have to schedule meetings during half terms (our academics come from multiple counties with multiple term dates) in order to have enough time to spread them all out reasonably. We try to avoid meetings during the university holidays, and we give them 6-18 months warning, so academics can reasonably be expected to find childcare.

    I’m trying not to give away which side I’m on, but suspect that hasn’t worked. Thoughts? Are we being assholes? These requirements don’t apply to admin staff, who work 9-5 Monday to Friday.

    1. LizB*

      Not UK here, so a few basic questions: how many meetings are you scheduling over the course of the year, and how many half terms occur during the year? Do all the half terms line up across the various schools in your area, or are there a whole bunch of different schedules? Are half term childcare programs for kids whose parents have to work commonly available?

      1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

        It can vary! We usually avoid the long summer/Easter/Christmas holidays because the academics aren’t teaching. We also never schedule meetings on Fridays, because the academics don’t teach then. Three half terms a year, which don’t line up, though the majority will be in one of the weeks.

        My impression is that a lot of primary schools do ‘half term clubs’ the same way they have after school clubs, but I’m not a parent.

        Each committee usually meets three times a year, and as far as I can tell the complaints are coming from people who only attend one, vs the people who attend six, but that may be a ‘because they are regular, they can arrange around them’ thing.

        1. LizB*

          I feel like avoiding half terms completely is probably not realistic, given this info. If you can aim for each committee having a max of one of their meetings during any half terms, and have those impacted meetings during the one-school-is-on-break weeks vs the tons-of-schools-are-on-break weeks, I feel like that’s a fair compromise. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, and when you’re a parent, sometimes you need to arrange childcare for infrequent work events.

        2. DoomCarrot*

          Are these people all living reasonably locally, or are they spread out all over? Because if it’s the former, arranging central childcare, like many conferences do these days, would seem like an obvious solution.

          1. valentine*

            arranging central childcare, like many conferences do these days, would seem like an obvious solution.
            Providing on-site childcare would reduce the last-minute “The sitter got sick/didn’t show” kind of thing.

    2. Her name is Anne, she has no other*

      Well it doesn’t really matter because you will never please everyone. Personally,I ups be aiming for option 1) because half terms are half terms and are holidays/time off/non working time. Our big committees (senate/court) are often held on Wednesdays as it used to be more of a non teaching time due to social events/social groups for the students.

    3. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Can you not schedule the meetings and just accept that some people may not be able to make a particular meeting (get them to send a deputy if needed)?

      What would/do you do if someone is sick on the day of one of these meetings during term time?

    4. A tester, not a developer*

      I would be surprised that a parent cannot find childcare arrangements with the sort of lead times you’re providing. Even if there is not school provided care, I would have thought they could arrange for a private sitter, much as one does if going away for a weekend with a spouse.

    5. Bagpuss*

      I think its reasonable to try toavoid them, but no more so than any other requests people may make around scheduling – after all,the university doesn’t stop for half term, and with university terms being relatively short, cutting out a week (or even two, as they may overlap) significantly reduces the available dates.
      Most working parents have to manage child care, and having a long feed in time means they aren’t being taken by surprise.

    6. Jemima Bond*

      Option 2). Universities don’t break for half terms like schools do, so they’d be arranging childcare anyway that week. They’d be teaching/working as normal.

      Non-academic workplaces don’t refrain from arranging meeting for the whole of August just because kids are off school then; people have to arrange childcare, unless they take annual leave – something academics can’t do (term time leave I mean) so there’s not even the argument of “there’s no point having the meeting then because loads of people will have booked leave”.

  16. Flaxseed*

    I work on a team of 5, including my boss. The newest member, “Fergus”, will sometimes greet everyone on the team *except* me. As in, he will pass by our work area in the morning and greet my coworkers by name, but not me. If I pass by him, I will greet him. We haven’t talked as much, but it shouldn’t have an impact on saying “Good morning” to someone. It wouldn’t bother me, but it’s a small group and I seem to be the only one experiencing this and well, it hurts.

    What’s up with this? Why do people do this?

      1. Amy Sly*

        This would be me. I *know* you, I know how many kids you have in addition to where you sit and what you do, but damn if I can remember your name, because the one time you told me was the day when I was told everyone’s name and now it’s six months later …

      2. WellRed*

        Then why not just say good morning? Also, small office, her name can’t be that much of a mystery.

    1. MOAS*

      I know what you mean, in a small team when everyone gets greeted and one person is excluded.

      I experienced this at a job many years ago, where a guy would barrel in smiling laughing and saying hi to everyone–and made it a point to ignore me. I’ll never know what his reason for disliking me was and it’s been 12 years so I am over it lol but yeah it was super weird and I don’t blame you for finding it weird.

      As to the reasons why? I’m not sure. I’m in an office with 130 people now and there are some people I just don’t care to correspond with. I won’t go out of my way to be rude but I don’t work closely with them either. It would be a very different story in a very small office such as yours.

    2. MonteCristo85*

      This is interesting to me because I have the opposite problem. People who greet you by name annoy the heck out of me, and it seems they just do it to me. Sure, I have an unusual name, and maybe they are doing it to help them remember (which is why I keep this annoyance to myself) but hearing my name all day long drives me a little bonkers. It probably doesn’t help that I’m not prone to greetings anyway (I’d slip by without ever speaking to anyone if it didn’t generally come off as rude to most people).

    3. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

      Oh boy! I experienced this once. Every morning, the person would come over to my area and say good morning to my colleague By Name but would totally ignore me. Then one morning she said good morning to me by name. I couldn’t believe it. then 5 minutes later she sends me an email wanting a favor from me. I should have know. So in answer to your question, I’m really not sure why people do these kinds of things. Next time he passes by your work area and says good morning to the rest of your group, You say good morning to him by name.

      1. Hiding From My Boss*

        I work with her for a few years. Gives me a subzero cold shoulder most of the time. When she’s smiley and friendly to me, I know she wants something.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      If you can make a joke out of it, “Hey, Fergus, remember me?! GOOD morning!”

      Try not to let stuff like this go on and on. It can really eat up brain space if we let it. The minute you realize something is going off-kilter start thinking about ways to pull it back in line.
      Hey, feeling hurt is legit, no doubt about it. But sometimes the way out of our hurts is to change what we are selves are doing so we get a different reaction and we get away from the Thing That Hurts.

      Since you have seniority you do have some leverage here. Don’t be afraid to use it. Dealing with little hurts comes up often enough in workplaces that it is a useful habit to develop and grow. I targeted a new habit of dealing with this stuff as soon as I realize what is going on. I have been much happier since I made this change in myself.

      Speaking as a former new hire myself, I mirrored other people. So if you did not interact with me much I would assume you were showing me your preferences and I would simply copy your level of interaction UNTIL something happened to show things had changed.

    5. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      This is especially strange since it’s the newest team member doing it. It doesn’t seem like a deliberate ‘snub’ unless this guy is arrogantly full of himself! (I assume he’s actually fairly new, not just been there 5 years and the rest of you have been there 7 years, or you wouldn’t have mentioned that he’s the newest..)

      Do you mean that sometimes he does greet you by name with the others, but sometimes doesn’t? (I wasn’t quite clear when you said he will “sometimes greet everyone except you”) or does he just not greet anyone the rest of the time?

      If it’s the former — a possibility I can think of (up to you if it applies to you) is that you may be already intensely involved in something on your computer (or whatever), have a demeanour of being busy and on a mission, or are perceived as very quiet, or moody, or any other reason someone might not want to ‘disturb’ someone…?

      In my team area I don’t greet everyone by name but generally say something like “hey everyone” and there is a specific team member who is very quiet and gets very intensively involved in what they’re working on. I am on normal terms with them but probably wouldn’t say hi directly as I perceive that they don’t like being disturbed.

  17. Pusheen*

    Regular going anon here—

    So…..I know this is going to sound very emotional and there are a few petty rants in here…so this is basically just me venting/needing advice. This may sound over complicated in my mind, but I know from talking it out, sometimes things that seem super complicated to us are really simple from the outside. 

    Basically due to role changes, I am no longer eligible to receive my bonus overtime that I normally get after every tax season (10 extra PTO days). Reason being–my new role wasn’t intended to work the tax season hours. I was initially bummed about it because I really wanted the extra 10 days PTO and never had a problem working extra hours during tax season. I got over it. (I posted about this a few months ago but forgot what username)

    Cut to now–3 of my colleagues and I have been busting our asses. We’re easily putting in 45-50 hours a week getting work done for the tax team and putting out fires that were done due to the previous teams. We’re told–“You’re not required to stay the extra hours so if you do you are not eligible for bonus/OT.” Except…there’s so much to do that if things don’t get done, sh*t hits the fan. We have two low performers on our team, one of whom was let go, and the second one we’re planning to let go as soon as we have a replacement in place, so we’re interviewing on top of finishing up bookkeeping, cleaning up payroll messes from previous teams etc. 

    The other one who is constantly taking off, nothing is getting done on their side. Some of their work falls to me, they do the work FOR their team instead of coaching them, and break all the rules–meanwhile only MY team is under a microscope. We’re understaffed because our client base is 2x the size of the other two. The person whos never here, their team is getting OT when they literally have half the work that our team does and we don’t complain about being overwhelmed.

    Petty vent–One “perk” the company offers during tax season is free dinner to motivate people to stay late. This year they’re doing some pretty nice dinners. Our VP was angry that it came too early, despite many managers’ pushing back saying this kind of punishes the people who come in early and leave on time. Someone who works from 6AM-7PM is pulling 12 hour shift but doesn’t get a free meal but someone who does 10AM-9PM, doing an 8 hour shift gets a free perk? Anyways, so I’ve been staying an hour later and I’m here when the dinner is here but I haven’t touched it b/c VP might throw a fit that “it’s not for your team.” OK. whatever, Im pregnant and haven’t been hungry for months and I stop eating at 4 PM so I’m not desperate enough for free dinner to stay an additional 2 hours at work or sacrifice my weekends.

    I know this is a symptom of a larger issue and yall may think “ok you really do suck at your job and your VP sees it but you don’t” but I’ve been working under my direct boss for 5 years and he’s praised my work while coaching me on my weaknesses. and no he’s not a bad manager, he’s a great one.

    My VP hates me. She is looking for any reason to fire me. She chose to promote me and two days later said to my boss that I have serious comprehension skills. The years I’ve been working directly under my boss, I’ve had good reviews, praises for my work and he defends me to VP constantly. And when he does defend me–she says that he’s biased. A few months back I was “forbidden” from talking to him,…from talking to my OWN BOSS. He’s baffled too as to why she hates me so much and agrees that there’s hypocrisy as well. When I told her I was pregnant, she was so happy and then said “do you plan to return….to the workforce?” I made it clear to say “I plan to return to this company, yes.” 

    Earlier this week, she called my report in to her office to talk. VP, my boss, and my report were in the room, and she grilled him–trying to get him to say “Yeah OP’s’ quality of work is really bad.” He didn’t say that because he had no reason to. It happened because supervisor was talking to a friend (whos in a different role) who complained about the quality of our two low performers (which has been addressed and is well known by all of us involved). My boss was irked by it too, and I just feel like no normal manager would do that–call their subordinate in so they can say “hey my boss sucks.” 

    It’s infuriating. I know I sound very emotional here but it’s been a week. Despite VP, I actually love my job, I love my team, my coworkers and the work I am doing. I’m going on maternity leave later this year (God willing everything goes OK) and I plan to start looking. 

    1. Quill*

      Everything about your workplace sounds like a disaster?

      Also, making people exempt from overtime and then having them consistently work overtime is not a good look.

      1. Pusheen*

        Technically–we can come in and leave at our designated hours and take our 1 hour lunch.

        In reality–I have so much crap to do and VP gives everyone the side eye for leaving “on time.”

        1. ee lemmings*

          You seem to view it as:

          You have a lot of work to do.
          You are not supposed to work overtime
          You need to complete as much of your work as possible
          You work as long as you can, but not so much that management has to recognize you are working overtime.
          The company does not realize it has a problem.

          Instead it Should Be:
          There is a lot of work to do.
          You are not supposed to work overtime.
          If you leave on time, the work will pile up.
          *The company* would have to figure out a solution to its problem.

          1. Pusheen*

            When everyone else puts in overtime, they will get compensated either in $$ or PTO. When we put in overtime, we’d get nothing. But if we don’t put in overtime, we’re not dedicated employees.

            Its also a bit annoying that my coworker who reports to me, will stay late because he’s very thorough in his work, and has the work ethic of staying til you get it done. I come in early and he stays late, so it balances out but VP will only see him staying late and saying “wow your own manager doesn’t see the need to put in extra hours.” Meanwhile, she also says “isn’t it great you don’t have to work tax season hours?

            1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

              Your VP is either delusional, a sociopath (in the layman sense) or doing this to provoke you into a reaction for some reason. From what your described seems to be trying to turn your reports against you!

              Can you get into a meeting with just her (she’s shown she doesn’t adhere to the ‘chain of command’ so this shouldn’t be too hard on her!) and have an open discussion?

              On the other hand is it possible that your boss (who you seem loyal to and think a lot of, but bear with me) is actually the weak link here and is presenting false information to the VP?

              How much of this information has come directly from the VP, vs. your boss saying (e.g.) “VP said she was angry that the food came too early”, “VP says even your own manager doesn’t care enough to stay late” etc. If it’s come from the boss, another possibility may be that your boss is setting you up for conflict with the VP for some reason.

              I may be totally off the mark but please consider if your boss is truly ‘authentic’ in all of this, if it seems at all possible.

              1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

                (I’m speculating this based on your comment that the VP said to your report ‘gee your own boss won’t stay late to meet the company needs’ or similar (contemporanously I assume). How do you know she said this — by definition you weren’t there, so there’s another source of information here.)

                1. Pusheen*

                  Sorry I wasn’t clear—I said that she could very well say that, not that she actually did.

                  And I know it’s natural for anyone reading to question my own boss is a weak link here but he is not. There are many others at my level who have seen this behavior directed at themselves or others. So I trust him on this.

            2. valentine*

              I can’t tell if you missed out ee lemmings’ advice.

              You say you’ve been staying an hour later and also that you’re not working OT. I’m not sure what your goal is. Work your 40 and let the VP hate you. You can’t please her. She wants to be hateful. Your boss is the problem, though, because he’s not pushing back or not encouraging you to transfer and isn’t fighting to get you the tax PTO back though you’re working for the tax team. He should be downing tools by having everyone work just 40, zero exceptions.

              Definitely don’t take the food that’s not for your team. It can only make things worse. Please yourself.

              Did you post this the last two weeks without the details? I always wonder what advice re-posters have already used/passed on.

          2. anon24*

            This.

            I am a bad employee. I had a job once where my workload was almost doubled because of corporate changes. We also were not allowed overtime, and were just supposed to work way faster. It was also a very physical job. Management declined to give me a raise or hire another employee. I did not work any harder. Work backed up. When my manager spoke to me about it I said “You gave me all this extra work. You will not give me a raise, or hire extra help. You are paying for me XX per hour and that the work you are getting from me. This is not my problem. When the work does not get done, YOU are the one who will be accountable to corporate, not me. I’m leaving at 5 regardless. This is not my issue and I refuse to kill myself working harder for you if you won’t even give me a raise because you clearly don’t value me as an employee. If you don’t like it, fire me.” My manager stopped talking to me about it because what could he say? When I quit it took them months to find a replacement because they paid so poorly for the amount of work they demanded.

    2. TL -*

      Can you have a “Would you like to help us priotize what can reasonably be done in 40 hrs/week/person (looks like A, B,C or D, but not all 4) or would you like to start comping us for overtime?” discussion? Because it seems like that’s what’s needed here.

      1. Bluebird of Ambivalence*

        Your VP probably is treating you badly so that she can continue to treat you badly and you won’t push back.
        She’s shown she is unfairly critical of your work and ignoring the workload issues while demanding higher levels of performance.
        So you are now in the uncertain circumstance of being afraid of working too much overtime (because you are not supposed to) and feeling like you must work overtime (because the increased workload is your responsibility and to not keep up is to fail).

        She has you managing her emotions (don’t make VP angry! keep VP happy!) and unspoken wants – trying to guess what is ‘right’ rather than adhering to her actual directions and requests.

        1. Pusheen*

          Oh yeah definitely. She wants people to be able to read her mind and “foresee” things. I’ve gotten better at it over the years but it’s never enough.

          TBH I am scared of having a toxic awful boss at my next workplace. As terrible as the VP sounds, there are some good things about it (OK pay, good benefits, good coworkers, great boss). My direct boss is wonderful and the best one I’ve had. I’ve also had meh bosses, and really really awful abusive ones in the past. Better the devil you know and all that.

          1. Noobert*

            You need to develop a “scientific report” style when you communicate with the VP. This means you no longer try to figure out what she is saying. Instead you state back to her and react to her actual statements. If you try to predict what she wants you will get it wrong. And if you do get it right, it gives her deniability (I never said you had to work OT) and allows her to honestly say “you misunderstood.”

            Do your job as she has actually requested. That means no OT. And if she wants to discuss performance, you can report back “We are still understaffed” or ask questions “Do you want to re-instate the OT for my team” These are not complaints being made on your part, it is you reporting on the situation, offering possible solutions. But the problems of overwork, no OT is the VPs to solve. You cannot and should not try to take on her responsibilities. And if you are constantly guessing, VP will then view you as someone who does not ‘know’ how to do their job. Not too mention you seem to be spending a lot of mental energy on how VP could react in negative ways.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      TBH, I think you should start financially planning to be let go while you’re on or just before you go on maternity leave. It sounds like they’re looking to cut you loose, as retaliation for getting pregnant.

      I’m sorry.

      1. Autumnheart*

        I totally agree. And the sooner VP does it, the more likely she can plausibly justify it on performance instead of the upcoming maternity leave.

        If I knew my VP was actively looking to force me out, and then had a closed-door meeting with my chain of command about my performance, I’d be packing up my cube, backing up my files, and updating my Linkedin. The hammer’s about to come down.

        1. Pusheen*

          It was disguised as a “team performance” questioning. Even my report was like wth. And he didn’t throw me under because he had no reason to.

          I’m still gonna do all that stuff-pack stuff, back up and update that resume.

          1. Massive Dynamic*

            Keep documentation of this shitstorm, especially all praise and positive performance reviews from your boss and anyone else higher up that’s not that VP. Just in case they let you go and you decide you can and want to make a case out of it. At the very least, fight for unemployment…

            Best of luck to you and congratulations on your baby!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      What an s-storm.

      So if I am reading this right, your immediate boss has two bad performers and the work falls to the remaining good performers.
      And if I am still reading correctly, everyone does the same work but some people work under different rules. You work under the rule of: “Do all your work but don’t run up any over time. But if you leave at your appropriate quitting time I will give you the glare of death.”

      Some times, OP, love ain’t enough. You may love everything about this job except the VP and unfortunately that one exception is a deal breaker.

      What I see here is that your boss is having a lot of difficulty with his own boss. IF I am reading this correctly, they argue over meals, they argue over OT policies, they argue over YOU. There are probably a bunch of other things they argue over. Now they have a new thing to argue over because the VP reached over your boss and reached over you to talk to your subordinate. NOT COOL. And why DOES your boss have twice the work load of other people, what is up with that.

      Sometimes the person we think is a good boss is actually a BAD Boss, I mean very bad. Please keep this thought in the corner of your mind at all times. The boss you love may not be your friend in the long run. It’s really hard to tell in these toxic situations who is allied with whom. Worse yet, these partnerships can change at the flick of a switch. Your ally today is your enemy tomorrow. It’s no different than toxic families, relationships are so needlessly complex it is hard to tell who is in the right and who is in the wrong.
      This is no way to go through life, OP. No way.

      I think you have written about your place other years. So my question to you is how much longer are you willing to stay in misery? That is what this place is, it’s sheer misery. So yes, people who have worked too long under toxic bosses often fear change because they feel they will end up in a worse spot. You have to realize that this is what toxic leadership does, not much different than an abusive spouse. “Any spouse you get will abuse you.” And the work parallel is, “Any new boss you get will abuse you.” This is not true, OP, it’s just not true. You can have better than this. And it is okay to look for better.

      To me I see your workplace as a hot mess. I don’t see anyone having very professional behavior. I think your expectation to thrive in this place is not realistic, they are way too interested in seeing you fail. I think that whatever you do will be used against you. Now you are trying to figure out how to work OT without working OT. I think you know that is not even logical but they have you convinced it is logical.
      Start job hunting today, OP, right today.

      1. Pusheen*

        I’m not going to work overtime. A half hour early here and there but not weekends or 60 hours.

        My boss oversees my department but my coworkers and I are responsible for managing our respective teams. I have 2 low performers, 1 I just let go and 1 will be let go as soon as we have a replacement for them which should be soon. I don’t think my boss is being vilified here when it’s the VP who is toxic. That’s an excellent point about toxic work/toxic relationship. I know I have way too much fear of the unknown and crave routine, even when it’s not a great situation.

        In any case I’m brushing up my resume. I have good health insurance here and this is a high risk pregnancy, which I fear Medicaid wouldn’t cover if I lost my insurance here. So I’m not exactly in the easiest position to leave. I just want to make it to my due date + FMLA and see after that.

    5. Laura H.*

      Have your direct boss in your corner. Keep him up to date as accurately as you are able with a paper trail/ email trail.

      An attempted discontinuation or employment may be inevitable for whatever reason middle-schooli bully sounding VP cooks up, but if there’s a good paper trail, you have more of a fighting chance.

      TLDR: Keep direct boss updated and DOCUMENT DOCUMENT DOCUMENT.

      Good luck, Pusheen :)

      1. Pusheen*

        He is 1000% in my corner. My HR knows. I know pregnancy isn’t legal Protection but right now I’m trying not to give anyone any reason to point out my performance.

        It’s legit just personal dislike which I could deal with but not when that personal dislike = nitpicking my work and abilities.

  18. Little Beans*

    I am the manager of a small team of 5 people. Next week, 2 of my employees have their birthdays and another coworker asked about organizing something for them. I replied that I thought it was a great idea, we brainstormed together briefly and then she proceeded with picking a lunch place and putting it on all of our calendars. I had planned to buy some cupcakes or a small cake, but then another staff member offered to do so. As the supervisor, should I be offering to pay for lunch? I’m not unwilling to, but just worried that if my team grows and this becomes a thing, then I might find myself spending $100+ several times a year on lunches. I might be a bit biased by the fact that I generally find birthdays overrated and don’t personally like to make a big deal out of mine – but I understand that other people sometimes do like a bigger celebration! Right now, I’m planning to offer to reimburse the coworker who is bringing cupcakes but if she’s the only one who knows I’ve done that, will it look to  the rest of the team like I’m not doing enough as the boss?

    1. ThinMint*

      I also have 2 team members that have birthdays very close together and a third team member who typically takes the lead on planning before I can. I don’t buy everybody’s lunch (it’s not expected in my line of work) but I do cover the two birthday people.

      1. Anonymous Liz*

        I agree with this! In my experience, the birthday folks will have their food purchased by their boss but that’s it. Everyone else in the group is responsible for their own bill.

    2. Grace*

      You can buy everyone lunch if you want, but I don’t think people will expect it! I like the idea of just covering lunch for those who are celebrating a birthday.

      I used to be a part of a small-ish team, and our boss would buy breakfast to celebrate birthdays. It was a lot cheaper than buying lunch for everyone. Breakfast usually consisted of donuts, kolaches, muffins or bagels, and sometimes some fruit (if we were on a health kick!).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      When I supervised my rule of thumb was not to start any new recurring event that I feared might not be sustainable in the future. You are concerned about sustaining this expense, that is enough right there to stop and figure out how to do this without putting your own coin in or putting in such a modest amount that you can comfortably do this for a long time.

      Don’t worry about what it looks like to the rest of the team. Just state, “Here is what I can do” and let the rest go. The team does not get to make decisions about your own personal budget and spending habits.

      Honestly, the nicest thing I have ever gotten from a boss was a simple card left on my desk that only said, “Happy Birthday” and the boss’ name signed at the bottom. I really liked that. The boss remembered but gave me space because as you say, not everyone enjoys having a big deal about their b-day.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        +1 and I would like to add that “sustainable” doesn’t necessarily just mean financially, practically, etc. I worked on a team where the supervisor’s ‘favourites’ would get a card and recognition every year — asking everyone to chip in towards a small present “to make Johnny feel a bit loved on his birthday” or similar — but there wasn’t even a verbal recognition of the ‘non-favourites’, of which I was one.

        I can’t say I felt too hurt as I try to rise above petty bullshit and choose my battles, but please (thread starter) don’t be ‘that’ manager. I gather you have been manager of this team for a while but the celebration of the 2 birthdays is presumably a newly initiated thing.

        When I managed a team I didn’t do anything particular for birthdays but I did pay out for treats to celebrate / thank everyone for meeting a major deadline and things like that. Maybe your team would appreciate that (if you have the kind of work that lends itself) rather than an arbitrary rotation around the sun?

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

      Does your org have any policy about expensing team lunches? At my org food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed on a company credit card/expense report. No cards or gifts are covered though. If it’s not allowed to expense the lunch, then be sure to let everyone know BEFORE they RSVP/attend that they are responsible for their own bill and that it is OK if they don’t attend.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Yep. This is why birthdays and anniversaries in my department are grouped–the company buys one cake a month with names on it if they fit. For each person, the managers put together a color collage of something personal or funny, engineering’s CAD tea prints it, and we all sign it.
        Note this is paid for by the company, just organized by mgmt!

    5. Hiding From My Boss*

      Oh lord the birthday parties! My boss loves them so we go all out, pressure to bring tons of food cake, and even if we lunch on leftovers a couple of days and take stuff home, a lot gets pitched out and the cost! Cake and singing “happy birthday to you” ought to be fine at work.

  19. Another JD*

    Does anyone have tips or particular questions to ask for peer-to peer interviews? I’m a senior associate attorney in a small law firm, and we’re hiring a junior associate. I’m sitting in on final interviews since I’ll be working with the new hire day-to-day.

    1. irene adler*

      Might find out about communication styles or expectations between you and new associate.
      Is this someone who wants to ‘check-in’ many times a day while you are content with a twice a month ‘touch base’ meeting? Is this someone who wants to be independent as they complete tasks while you require status updates daily? Find out if you are on the same page communications-wise.

    2. Stymied Manager*

      When I do that type of interview I take the time to be very clear about what a typical day or week looks like in the job and what makes someone successful in it, then ask them how that lines up with their own experience.

    3. CM*

      I like to focus on challenges or metrics of success for the role, and ask the person how they have handled that in the past. In a final interview, I’d also be pretty candid. For example, you could say, “In this practice, we often have last-minute demands from clients and end up having to shift our schedules and juggle priorities. Can you tell me about how you’ve dealt with that in your past experience?”

    4. LadyByTheLake*

      All the peer-to-peer interviews that I’ve been involved in, both as interviewer and interviewee (mostly BigLaw and InHouse) are about talking about expertise needs/abilities to try to determine if the person’s abilities will fit with the existing needs, trying to figure out what a “typical day” looks like (is the person going to be doing weeks of nothing but document review?), and it’s a chance (usually away from the partners/bosses) to get real — this is where the hard questions are asked and answered. Is a 60-70 hour work week the norm? What is the firm attitude towards work-life balance? Does the person coming in need to be ready to deal with difficult personalities?

    5. Coverage Associate*

      I try to begin by giving them my elevator pitch, because often they weren’t informed that they would be meeting with an associate. If I have a resume, honestly I ask softball questions about how they chose their major or what brought them to the region. I trust the partners to evaluate skills.

      Then I try to give them as much information as I can about the day to day and the personalities of the partners.

    6. Sunflower*

      I went to a Peer-to-Peer interview once where the interviewer basically said ask me anything that you want to know but wouldn’t want to ask your boss. Now I didn’t ask her ANYTHING but I thought it gave me a really positive view of the team and organization. Also I think it’s helpful to outline what a typical day looks like, how to truly be successful and the type of people that typically succeed or fail in the role/organization.

    7. Pippa*

      Since this is the final round of interviews, hopefully most of the heavy screening has been done. Try to get a sense of how this person will function on the tail end of a very long day – or a series of very long days. I learned the value of this “final round” technique from observing a senior partner interview. He spent 30 of his 45 to 60 minute interview chatting about where they each went to college, activities or club involvement, etc., and told a few corny jokes (the kind that are more eye rolling than funny but are child proof). He wrapped his time up by describing his work style and asking if the person had any questions. His theory – we’d be spending a lot of time together, some if it under quite a bit of pressure. He wanted to be sure the person would gel with the team. A lot of candidates can do the work, but he was looking for a member of his team. He had a great team. I still miss him. Good luck!

  20. De Minimis*

    I got a tentative offer yesterday for the job I’d interviewed for last week!

    I’ll be back in the federal system, at long last, for my previous agency, but in a completely new location.

    Hoping they’ll be open to a later start date, I’d like to give around a month’s notice at my current job because they will have a hard time with the transition [even though I’ve been here less than a year, we’ve had so much turnover in my department that I’m the only person who knows how to do certain things.] I’m trying to start some process documents. My manager worked here previously, but her predecessor [toxic manager who was fired] really changed a lot of things to where it’s like a whole new job.

    Glad to be getting out of here soon. I like the overall mission and a lot of the people here, but there are a lot of problems with the overall environment and no desire by management to fix it.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It may feel as if they’re judging you as a person, but your worth as a person doesn’t come from how some random stranger judges based on ten seconds of scanning a piece of paper that represents your professional accomplishments.

    2. nep*

      Commiseration here, if nothing else. I hear you. This process is draining and soul-sapping in a unique and awful way.
      Have you been getting hits/calls/interviews? What’s your biggest frustration right now?
      All I know is that with persistence you will land something. I wish you all the best.

      1. Pancakes*

        I’ve been getting lots of interviews! Both phone and in person, so I think I’m doing pretty well, just nothing is working out for me to be the top choice I guess. Many people from my organization are leaving or planning on leaving, and it’s hard to see other people get jobs (even though they’re not totally different areas, so not a competition thing) while I’m still here. And I think I’m qualified and would do great at them!

        1. nep*

          Oh, absolutely it’s about to happen. Great that you’re getting lots of interviews. Hang in there.
          Do you feel like the interviews have gone well, and it’s just a question of another person ticking a few more of the qualifications boxes?
          All the best. Keep us posted.

    3. Alice*

      So much of this depends on luck or serendipity. So — when it’s someone else’s lucky day, that doesn’t mean that you are doing things wrong! Keep plugging along :)

      1. Enginear*

        Couldn’t agree more. I got lucky when I got my job. I was about 70 applications deep until I finally got an in-person interview. A position opened up because that person was transferring out of town back closer to their hometown which then gave me the opportunity to get a job. If I had given up for that one week which that job posting was posted I would’ve missed out. So never give up!

    4. Small Biz Escapee*

      I went through this and was feeling frustrated and taking rejection personally. Then, very suddenly, the week of Christmas of all times (interview on the 23rd, offer the 27th) everything aligned. I am in really great new role now, typing this from my own office, and it’s all just felt very “natural.” But in June, July, August, I was about ready to cry. Good luck!!!

    5. Malory Archer*

      Hang in there. Be good to yourself and take some time for you.

      My last job search took 18 months and I only landed in December. Job searching is really, really awful and so draining, and most people just don’t understand unless they’ve been there.

      The job I’m at now is really great, and I know that if I’d landed earlier I wouldn’t be in a better fit. So try to keep on keeping on and be really, really good to yourself and try not to let those awful stress/shame feelings overwhelm you.

    6. new kid*

      My last job search was brutal especially because I was trying to relocate. After six months, I went to ‘plan B’ and applied to a job I wasn’t particularly excited about but thought I had a much better chance because I had an inside referral. STILL didn’t get that job. Can’t overstate how demoralized I felt. There was a lot of crying involved tbh.

      But two days later I had a call back for a ‘stretch’ job that I thought was super exciting but figured I’d never hear from. Been in the role now for 8 mo+ and it’s been fantastic!!

      All that said just to give a little hope now that I’m on the other side of it. I know exactly how you’re feeling, but the right position is on its way to you as we speak!!

    7. Frankie*

      Job searches are so hard, with so many unknowns! Keep plugging at it and try not to overinterpret the radio silence/the rejections. You never, ever know what they’re looking for on the other end.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      It might be a time to take a moment to regroup. That moment could be a week/a day/ a weekend, just take some down time. Recharge, have some healthy foods, hydrate, rest and whatever else would make you feel like you have put some “fuel in your tank”.

      You are getting interviews so that is awesome, you do have some things going for you right now… sorta like that frog.

      Back in the 70s there was a poster of a pelican swallowing a frog. Being a viewer, we could see that the frog was winning because he had his “hands” around the pelican’s throat. And he was successfully stopping the pelican from swallowing him. Since the frog’s head was inside the pelican’s mouth the frog had no way of knowing how close to winning he actually was. It said something about, “never, ever give up”. We never know just how close we are to achieving our goal, hang on to this thought.

    9. Hopeful*

      I am also going through a tough job search (7 months and counting.) It’s such a struggle, but keep working at it and try to find some time to work on a hobby/activity away from the computer. I wish you the best of luck.

    10. MissDisplaced*

      Mine has slumped lately too. I think it’s just the timing, I’m just not seeing much I even want to apply for. I also got rejected for a few that I was qualified for, but weren’t really in my wheelhouse. Sigh! I’m not desperate, but looking to move on from current job.
      Don’t have much to offer, except try to be persistent and at least apply to two things per week. More if you’re unemployed. It just takes time.

    11. Sam I Am*

      Lows and highs come and go, everything changes, so keep at it knowing the low will pass.
      Good luck!

  21. Committees on a Resume?*

    I need resume help! I work as a staff member at a large University, and am wondering where the various committees I am a member of should go on my resume. For example, I am a member of my department’s staff advisory council: should this go in my “Experience” section under my current job or in a separate section? I am also in a formal professional development program for young professionals that is competitive to get into. Where should that go on my resume?

    1. Plus Ultra*

      Do you plan on staying in academia? Because that makes a difference in how you portray committee work. If you’re staying in academia, that type of stuff would go under Service and then you’d have subsections such as Service to the Department, Service to the University, Service to the Community. If you’re leaving academia, you can mention the committees under Experience for your current job without giving details.

        1. Plus Ultra*

          It’s hard to say. I’ve seen staff with basically CV light resumes and staff with traditional resumes. It depends on whether they want to go into a department that has a service component (say Office of Servant Leadership) to it or stay in some way more typical office-based (say Registrar).

    2. Her name is Anne, she has no other*

      Are you admin/professional services? If yes, I would put the committee stuff in a bullet point underneath the job title. I would be tempted to put the development programme underneath education or again, underneath the job title/talk about it in your cover letter.

  22. BusyBee*

    I could really use some advice. I’ve been working at my current company for about 2 years. I like my job, though I find it frustrating that in general my company lacks innovation and drive. However, about a month ago, I was put on a failing project. The entire project team had quit in rapid succession, and I was put on it right as we’re getting ready to launch. The project is a MESS. It’s really a project save/recovery, though our team is composed of 3 folks who don’t really have expertise in this area, we were all just thrown on the grenade. I also have all the projects and responsibilities I was managing previously, which are not really related to this project. I am overwhelmed, overworked and have so little faith that this project can be salvaged. The pressure is tremendous, and my boss and grand-boss seem to expect our small team to magically turn this around.

    This project is making me absolutely dread work and simply want to quit. The little issues that bothered me before are amplified 10x now that I’m on a project that needs innovation and a strong drive to the finish line. It’s soured me on the whole company, my boss and my job. Is there any way to salvage my role here? I would like to stay here for another 3 years to have a longer stint on my resume (I’m 30 and haven’t stayed anywhere more than 3 years), but I feel so defeated. Advice appreciated!

    1. irene adler*

      Can you hire anyone -with the expertise needed for the project? Maybe it is time to pull the plug on this project? Sometimes it takes someone to stand up and say to management “you gotta know when to fold em, and it’s time to do that here”.

      Please don’t put a lot of weight on the “need to work here more than 3 years” thing. Doing this means you might be passing up golden opportunities elsewhere. Truly, what will you achieve should you remain at this company for 3 more years? Can you quantify that? By ‘achieve’ I mean skills or experience or knowledge acquired.
      I’d rather hire the person who possessed the skills I need for the job. I’m not seeing a 5 year stint as very convincing me of that aspect. And, 3 year stints aren’t bad at all these days. I hear folks tend to work 18 months per job.

    2. Stornry*

      sorry you’re dealing with such a load. About all I can advise is to lay it out for your boss. Tell him that is not workable as is and you need guidance, layout your concerns, what you think can be done (and any solutions you can think of), and what you see as unobtainable in the present circumstances. Tell him that you are overloaded — and as a result, other regular projects are falling behind. Ask how he wants you to prioritize. Good luck!

    3. Frankie*

      Leadership can really struggle with sunk cost fallacies and all kinds of other stuff. Are you able to have a transparent conversation with your manager? “This project needs A, B and C to succeed. I don’t see that on our team currently. Can X be provided?”

      You could also talk with a manager about the barriers to success you’re seeing. “To the best of my knowledge, D, E and F are major risks to this project right now. I need help coming up with ways to mitigate these risks.”

      Would something like that at least start the conversation? Put it back on leadership?

    4. CM*

      I wonder if you can find a way to push through your current stress and frustration.

      You said your company lacks innovation and your project needs innovation. Would it be possible for you to make a difference here? If the project can’t be salvaged, is it possible to figure out how to move on for this, and make a case for it? If you’re in an organization where people respect truthtellers and making hard decisions, this could ultimately be something that boosts your reputation.

      I fully acknowledge this may be overly optimistic — you know your company, and if you only see downside (project will fail, you’ll be blamed) and no opportunity for setting things right, then what I’m suggesting may not be possible. But sometimes challenges like this end up being good career opportunities.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      Eish! This sounds like a mess!
      Is there any possible way this can go back to management with a frank assessment that it may not be achievable? Because sometimes that is what needs to happen. Or at minimum it may need to be tabled for x-amount of time. If the management is sane, they should take heed and reevaluate this.

      But I know that sometimes there are *those other types of management that insist something can be done because they will it so.

  23. Heart on my sleeve*

    I have some things going on in my personal life medical wise that are making me extremely emotionally and things I would normally brush off leave me feeling like someone kicked my puppy in front on me. Coworkers I’m closer with are looped in but not everyone knows, however, it’s nothing I’m hiding and would discuss with anyone.

    I’m a woman and I have it in my head that there is no crying in business. I don’t want to be seen any different than the male alternative. The problem is, everything is making me cry. Sometimes my demeanor doesn’t change but suddenly there are just tears.

    Any advice or anyone want to commiserate?

    1. Fiona*

      I don’t know if this will help but I remember a long time ago I went to a panel of women filmmakers. There were three women on the panel and two were discussing how sets are historically male and as a female director you have to have a really thick skin, have your guard up and never cry. I was internally nodding along like, yeah yeah, totally, until the third filmmaker spoke. She said, completely un-self-consciously, “Oh, I cried all the time on set.” It was like a light bulb going off in my mind. You could be yourself in that kind of male environment? And still go on to great success? (She was definitely the most well-known of all the filmmakers)

      So unless you JUST started on this job, I think you’re okay to be a little extra emotional these weeks. You’re human, humans cry, and I think being authentically yourself (while also being professional) ends up being better in the long run. (If you’re openly sobbing at your desk for long stretches every day, then maybe you need to re-evaluate, but if you’re generally a bit extra-teary and most folks know why, I would keep on doing you and don’t worry).

    2. Amy Sly*

      Been there. I’m generally doing okay with my depression, but there are still a couple triggers that will start the waterworks.

      Options for coping: a) see if you can find a scent or other physical trigger that can fight the tears on a physical level. People used to have smelling salts for a reason! Just be courteous toward others about it. b) If it’s just tears (not sobs), keep tissues around to mop up the tears and nasal drips. Most people will believe if you just say that your allergies are bugging you. c) Similar to b), say that you’re taking a medication with the side effect of watery eyes. Lord knows, all the pharmaceutical commercials over the years have gotten people used to oddball side effects. That might invite questions about your medical problems, but it could also work as the low-information justification for any other problems you’re having at work related to your situation.

      The important thing is to try to maintain the air of “I’m not sad or upset; this is just my body being annoying.” The “no crying in business” idea is about professionalism and self-control. People will understand if the tears are a physical issue that you couldn’t stop any more than you could stop sneezing. Definitely lay off the mascara for a while though. :D

      As for reducing the urge to cry at random times, the most best advice I can give you is what I recommend for everyone struggling with mental health: to the best of your ability, get the nutrients, exercise, and sleep you need. Especially the sleep.

      1. Caterpie*

        Option for a) I read somewhere that lightly pinching or rubbing the ‘webbing’ between your thumb and index finger can staunch tears. I can’t say if it actually works scientifically, but I feel like it at least gives my brain something else to do and isn’t really noticeable to others.

    3. CatPerson*

      I would talk to your doctor about whether there is something you can do about your depression if I were you. Perhaps you should see a therapist, or consider anti-depressants.

    4. CatPerson*

      I think that it would be a good idea to talk to your doctor about your depression. Perhaps therapy would be recommended, or an antidepressant.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Absolutely. As I understand it, many people on antidepressants only need them for the duration of the triggering event. (Not me, but I’m downright freakish in how well the drugs work for me. It’s almost at the level of a diabetic with insulin.) You’re not cheating by using a drug to help cope with a problem that’s affecting you this much.

    5. Mid*

      I feel you! I’ve been *super* emotional lately, due to adjusting medications. I almost cried when picking up the office lunch order, because they put silverware in the bag and we didn’t need it. It’s rough. It’s compounded by the fact that I’m the youngest and newest in the office, so I really don’t want to be seen as an emotional wreck. I just take a lot of trips to the bathroom, or blame things on allergies.

    6. humans are weird*

      I had a revelation last year (triggered by the book “Burnout”) about dealing with and processing stress. The authors of the book talk about the idea of completing the stress cycle. There’s a lot of good info and detail, but the tl;dr takeaway for me was – I need to *move my body* in order to allow stress to process and release. Otherwise it builds up more and more until I’m weeping at my desk for no apparent reason.

      I know medical issues sometimes preclude sweaty exercise, but even gentle walking or stretching can do it. There were also some other ways that the authors recommended for completing the stress cycle and allowing things to release (the moving my body piece is just the one that was key for me). I don’t remember the others right now… I should probably reread the book.

    7. Holy Moley*

      Im sorry you are going through this. I understand the feeling of things making you cry. I think the best think you can do is take care of yourself. Does your company have an EAP you can consult? You said your coworkers are looped in, but what about your manager? Is it affecting your work?

      1. Heart on my sleeve*

        My manager knows all the details – sometimes more than she wants! I was trying to vague as she reads this too but oh well, we’re going thru IVF so it’s all hormones beyond my control on top of a semi-stressful job

        1. Amy Sly*

          That is definitely rough. Just take it one day, one hour even, at a time.

          And try to look at this as training for if all goes well and you find yourself flooded with pregnancy hormones that will do the same thing! :D

        2. Fikly*

          Oh, so much fun when it’s your body doing it to you!

          I showed up at a doctors office the other day, on time, but a day early, and couldn’t be seen. I just about started to cry, which is very atypical for me. Then I checked my sugar and realized I was hypo. *sigh*

          No real advice, sorry.

    8. blink14*

      I’ve definitely cried several times at work – tried to keep it quiet and in private, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Most times were directly related to things going on in my personal life, and at my old job I was pushed past my breaking point and cried a couple of times in private.

      Best thing for me in most of these scenarios was to let my boss and a couple of close co-workers know what was going on, and keep them up to date on how I’m doing. I deal with chronic medical conditions, one of which is severe fatigue, and there are some days where I’m so tired I literally cry when I get home, so if anything goes wrong during the work day, it’ll set me off.

      You are human, you are going to have emotions, and that’s ok. Men do too, but they tend to go for anger versus sadness. And if you can take a day or two off, maybe you should – let yourself feel the emotions you’re going through in a way that works for you and isn’t in a workplace setting.

    9. Retail not Retail*

      This can be a comforting or horrifying thought – they may not notice you’re crying!

      I was a bagger loading someone’s cart and neither she nor the cashier noticed. This summer I cried for 40 minutes straight while working and nothing! We were kind of off and separated but yeah.

      You don’t want to be noticed but you also do! It sucks!

  24. nep*

    Freelance writers: Do you or have you ever used an hourly rate? What determines for you whether you’ll use a per-word rate, flat rate, hourly…?
    And if you have used an hourly rate and care to say, what’s the range you charge per hour? I know type of writing varies–just looking to get an idea. I look at things like the Editorial Freelancers Association rates page, but I’d like to hear about some real-life cases.
    Thanks for any insights.

    1. Dragoning*

      If I’m freelance writing, I charge by word.

      If I’m freelance editing, I charge by the hour, but the price is based on how many pages I can likely get through an hour.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      $X for 500 words, including one rewrite of no more than 10%.

      I go per-word, because that’s usually how the RFQs are specified: “We need an article of 450-500 words that covers x, y, and z.”

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      As an EFA member, I want to point out that the rates page is based on a survey from several years ago, so if you’re looking at the lower end of the range, you might want to adjust for inflation.

      (I’m an editor/proofreader, not a writer, so can’t answer the actual question.)

    4. RagingADHD*

      I have more often charged per word, but I’m currently working on a very long project that involves a ton of research, and will have extensive revisions from multiple stakeholders.

      My rate for this is $60 / hour.

    5. Beehoppy*

      Per hour can get tricky because then you end up penalizing yourself for working faster/being efficient. You might try thinking about the hourly rate you want and then how many words per hour you typically write and then making the calculation from there.

  25. Some Sort of Management consultant*

    How do I keep my personal life from ruining my productivity at work?
    (Or How SSMC Turns a 13 Word Question in a 300+ word Mini Essay.)

    I have so many things I would like to ask, but I’m going to try and limit myself to one.
    I’ve recently returned to work part-time after 4 months of medical leave due to burnout.
    My job is very supportive and we have a plan to gradually ease back into work.

    My most prominent symptom of burnout is difficulty to cope with demands, I freeze up completely when I get overwhelmed.

    I’ve had a bunch of difficult things in my personal life and family during the last five years and while everything is fine now, I worry about when the next shoe will drop.

    Last week, my grandma broke her foot after my mom accidentally bumped into her with the car and had to go to the emergency room. Mom called me in desperate guilt.
    It was just a sprain, but it meant I could not get any work done that day, I just sat and stared until I gave up.

    I had a frank conversation with my manager about this the day after, and agreed that I need ways to prevent personal happenings from my work. It might sound callous, but I had the same thought. Gran was not in any danger, I could do nothing to speed things p, and if I went to the hospital at 1.30pm or 2.30pm, it really would not have made a difference. I’m not good at compartmentalizing.

    I’m bringing this up to my psychologist next week, but I would really appreciate some advice.
    One thing I have said to my parents is that they should avoid calling me at work for now (I only work a few hours a day so unless someone is literally dying, most things can wait.) because any time I have to restart after being interrupted takes pretty long right now.

    1. That'll happen*

      Are your parents calling you on your cell? If so, can you just put your phone on do-not-disturb while you’re at work? That way you won’t be getting notifications and you can just deal with whatever after you get out of work. I know on iphone do not disturb you can set it to allow a call through if a number calls you twice within 3 minutes, so if it truly is an emergency you will get the call. It looks like android has something similar. The only question is if your parents will abide by this.

      1. Some Sort of Management consultant*

        Unfortunately, I get enough calls from doctors and gov’t agencies that I can’t just have do not disturb on. Which sucks.

        1. Fikly*

          Can you filter out your family contacts, and put them on do-not-disturb, but leave the calls you do need to receive free to come through?

    2. twig*

      I don’t have answers, but I’m here to commiserate.

      I left my husband just after Christmas, then got rear ended, which totaled my (still functional, just old and high mileage) car. I’m dealing with the fallout from both of those while working on rebuilding my life and work — it’s just hard to focus sometimes (most of the time).

      sending you virtual hugs.

    3. LizB*

      Have you found any strategies or techniques that work to help dissipate the frozen-ness, or do you just have to wait it out? If you can find a bit of a reset button (go for a walk? leave the building for a bit? do a guided meditation? vent to a friend?), that could help.

      Also…can you ignore phone calls from your parents while at work? Just send ’em to voicemail? Or would you freeze up from seeing the caller ID because you know it could be a bad thing? If your mom is reasonable, you could let her know what your work hours are, then set the bar for calling you at work as “There is an emergency that SSMC can actively help with,” not “A bad thing has happened that SSMC will want to be informed of at some point.”

    4. Sunflower*

      I would be very upfront with your psychologist and see what they say. If you’re open to medication, that might help in the long or short term. I would definitely let them know the level this is affecting your life as you may have some options there.

      Also…I may be picking up more from this post than is there but it sounds like your parents call you a lot. I’d urge you to consider if this is really necessary or if you’re within your rights to put up some firmer boundaries. I can see why your mother was upset as the situation sounds really scary but if these calls are a regular occurrence, I’d really encourage you to explore your boundaries with your family with your psychologist. Your life outside of work is going to affect you at work and I’m wondering if you’re carrying more emotional baggage than you need to.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        I’d say it’s not just about the calling. It sounds like your mom called you specifically to *share her guilt*. It’s totally normal for loved ones to work with us through our bad feelings, but you’re not in a great place right now and it would be 1000% reasonable for you to put your friends and family on notice that you can’t be pulled into emotional labor until you get yourself back on an even keel.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Yep. Especially daughters can wind up doing a lot of the supporting/comforting/soothing/emotional labor in families. That sounds like something OP isn’t up for right now.

          OP: Setting boundaries may take some practice (for both you and parents), but it’s very worth doing. It’s trite, but you’ve got to get your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else – it sounds like you don’t have anything extra right now. That is not a personal failing, that is a very painful, human, and normal place to wind up. Be selfish for a while, take care of yourself. I doubt you are the only person your family *could* lean on. It will be good for both them and you to discover that.

  26. Orange Crushed*

    I have to interact with coworkers who can be rude and combative. One woman needed help and instead of asking, she just went off on me. “I’m not going to waste my time doing this if it is going to be wrong”, etc. I was shocked, but others have told me that this is the norm for her. I remained calm and explained the process to her, but it was still a little unnerving.

    Any tips or tricks for dealing with people like this?

    1. Mrs Peaches*

      Aim for a balance of empathy and assertiveness. Start by acknowledging that the task is difficult/frustrating/whatever she may be feeling, and reiterate that you’re happy to help. Then tell her that the combativeness is counterproductive and ask her not to talk to you that way in the future. Here’s a good article on adapting the assertiveness formula for work: https://hbr.org/2017/08/a-simple-way-to-be-more-assertive-without-being-pushy

      If all else fails, just take a deep breath and remember that it’s not personal, and try not to let it get under your skin.

    2. foolofgrace*

      It might take the wind out of her sails if you use a method that I like to use for having a productive argument: You let the other person say their piece without interruption, and then you say “What I’m hearing you say is…” and fill in with what you understand she is saying. If you get it wrong, lather rinse repeat. Eventually the real problem will surface, or at least she will be calmer. Best of luck!

    3. Aurélia*

      “Why do you feel like it would be wrong? Is there a specific piece I could help you with?”
      Any ideas about her manager? How well do you feel like something like, “Let’s loop in Manager and see if they have any ideas to make you more comfortable and get us on the same page.” would go?

    4. Banana Bum*

      OOO I have some coworkers like this. If I’m close with the person, I call them out. “no need to be frumpin hostile”

      Or I just deal with it and don’t let that person’s sour attitude get to me. If they want to be combative and get flustered over nothing, so be it.

    5. TellMe*

      Is this coworker getting all the information they need to complete the task?

      I’ve said this to a manager because she wasn’t giving me requirements for a task, but said it needed to be done. Every attempt I made to complete the task was met with, “that’s not what I meant.” On the 5th iteration, I told her just this as it was a waste of her and my time to do a task over an over without the full requirements and her refusal to give them to me was causing this insane loop.

      After telling her this, we sat down and it came to light she has a specific format she wanted, but hadn’t bothered to tell me.

    6. Close Bracket*

      It might help to reframe it in your mind as something less offensive. Instead of interpreting how her approach as going off on you, interpret it as making a direct statement about valuing her time and wanting to get things right. It takes some practice to reframe things this way, and you do have to get to the other side of your immediate defensive reaction. That moment of shocked silence can be your friend bc you can use it to actively remind yourself, right, this is not an attack, this is an expression of wanting to get something right the first time and not have to redo it, which is something that benefits the entire company.

    7. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Generally there’s a motivation and internal logic to the way people respond/react to things (even if it seems totally irrational or illogical to you!) I’ve found.
      “Instead of asking, she just went off on me […] this is the norm for her” — you sound quite self aware so I’m sure it is nothing specific you’d done, especially since other people said she normally reacts like that. But there must be a motivation! — so you need to get to the bottom of that ideally.

      You didn’t write much detail so I am inferring a lot, but is it possible that your environment is one with a lot of harsh criticism, wasted work (things that turn out to be ‘wrong’), endeavours that don’t end up with any real result and have to be done again when some other initiative comes along, etc. Perhaps she’s seen it all before, been burned and is sceptical/cynical about any new task or one she is unfamiliar with because it will turn out to be ‘wrong’ anyway?

      It sticks out to me that you have to interact with “coworkers” (plural) who are like this. Is it an industry that attracts those kind of people, or is there something intrinsic to your particular workplace that (perhaps) you are more resilient to for whatever reason?

      Sorry I don’t have any “tips or tricks” as a way of solving the immediate problem but I would take a look at the bigger picture and if there is something within your organization that encourages (or forces!?) many people to react like this. And if that sounds at all familiar, try to apply empathy first.

    8. !*

      I kill them with kindness, and it must work since I had a woman who went off on me email me at 10:30 pm to apologize. I don’t take anything personally, and just keep to the issue at hand and try to diffuse the situation. We have many in my organization who can get really stressed around certain times of the year and I understand that and just try to be the voice of reason in the midst of the craziness.

  27. Twill*

    I am admittedly not the most tech savvy crayon in the box, but I am wondering – Is there anyway to just access comments on a particular question in the daily column? While I do read all of the questions, and all of Allison’s answers, I am usually only curious about the comments on one or two of the actual questions. And when there are hundreds of comments attached at the end of the column, I usually just give up! There may not be a way, but just thought I would throw it out there :)

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      No, not really, assuming you mean the multi-question posts. I collapse all comments and skim through for the ones that mention the letter I’m curious about, and unfold those threads, but I think that’s about the only option. :)

    2. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      You can collapse all the threads (there’s a link for it at the top of the comment page) and just scroll through and open comment threads that look interesting!

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think most commenters will reference the question number in the initial response, so you can use Ctrl+F to search for “#2” or whatever question you’re most interested in

    4. Quill*

      Based on the way comments sections work, I don’t think there’s anything for it other than control+f for “LW1” or collapsing threads not about the questions you’re looking for.

    5. AMD*

      You could try expanding comments and then using Ctrl-F to search for a keyword like “#3” or “Fergus” or “bathroom.”

    6. Lady Alys*

      If I really want to follow a particular comment thread, I right-click on the time stamp beneath the original comment and save that somewhere in a plain text file. I can then copy/paste into the browser address bar when I want to see it again. Sorry that’s PC-specific, I don’t know how to do that on a Mac – option+click maybe?

      1. StillLooking*

        Similar to what Lady Alys said: clicking the timestamp changes the address to reflect that location on the page, much like what happens when you share a YouTube video at a specific timestamp.
        Click timestamp and bookmark it. You can come back and reference it whenever, or look for updates.

    7. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      You can set it so that all comments are collapsed, and just expand the ones for the questions you’re most interested in.

  28. MommyShark*

    If you’re continuing to do all your work faster than everyone else, no one is viewing you as swamped and instead seeing that you have the capacity for the extra work. Stop stressing to get it completed quickly. Prioritize the work with your supervisor and perform it in that order.

    It’s hard to let things slip, I’ve been there, but if you always over perform as more duties are piled on, how would they recognize there is a problem?

    1. Admin of Sys*

      This works when you’re not sure what your capacity is, but when you have a good grasp of the fact that you are busy enough that accepting new duties will cause things to slip, then turn down those duties. If you are at capacity, and someone comes up to you and says ‘also, we need you to do x’ then respond with ‘I’m at capacity, we can talk to my supervisor about priority shifts, or I can get to your thing after all of the other things are done’. Don’t just let things drop because you can’t get to them.

  29. Tegdirb*

    Do you guys ever follow up with headhunters? I had one contact me via Linkedin, we chatted on the phone and now it’s been two weeks and nothing. Should I send them a message to follow up? I also have a friend who might need their help as well.

    1. irene adler*

      The headhunter has moved on. Believe me, if they were still interested in you, they’d be communicating with you daily or even more frequently.
      You can suggest your friend get in touch with them, but if the headhunter finds no positions that you friend might potentially fill, they won’t get much traction with them either.

  30. Crowdsourcing Career*

    Alright everyone, I’m stuck on career ideas because I don’t know what’s out there, so I’m hoping the AAM hivemind can help me out.

    Right now, I’m in IT. I’m doing Tier II tech support, and have been in progressively more responsible roles for the past 5 years. I also have an associates in compsci. That said, I’ve taken a look at the options for advancement available to me, and I’ve decided that I don’t want to be in IT any more. I’m a bad programmer, sysadmin tasks don’t interest me, same with database work (and I hate stats/am bad at math), my attempts at getting a compsci or IT BS are going poorly to say the least, and frankly, my enjoyment tinkering with technology doesn’t translate to a liking for it as a career.

    So, with all that said, what are my strengths? I’m an excellent writer and a good communicator. I’m good with tech and I’m a logical thinker who is good at solving problems. I’m looking for a writing-intensive career, but I’m so far removed from that arena that the only thing I can think of is tech writing. Which I would love! But I don’t have it in me to get a BS in a STEM field.

    My interests are history, political science, literature. I’m a heavy introvert (although I enjoy people and have decent people skills) so I would prefer something where I don’t have to pull long hours around others (long hours in general are okay). I am willing to get a BS/BA or certificates but I don’t have the resources for grad school. Does anyone have any suggestions for career paths I could look at?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t think all tech writers have a BS in a STEM field. Have you tried looking at technical writer positions at large tech companies? What publicly available documentation experience do you have?

      1. Crowdsourcing Career*

        Unfortunately, none of the documentation I’ve written (it’s been a lot) is publicly available – I’ve mostly worked for companies that are very strict about what outsiders can and can’t see. I could create mock-ups of similar work I’ve done? (For example, spin up a VM and try to do some SCCM documentation – detailed instructions on how to use it was one of my first “tech writer” tasks.)

        I guess I assumed you needed a BS in STEM to be a tech writer because all the tech writers I know are some flavor of engineer or software developer. But I admit I haven’t gone and looked at many job postings.

      2. merp*

        Just chiming in to say I got some interviews for tech writer positions as a freshly graduated humanities major – no degree in STEM in sight. I ended up going in a different direction, but in case that’s helpful/encouraging!

          1. merp*

            It was a bachelor’s in communications, which I’m sure helped a bit, but I did the same amount of writing as many other humanities majors so I think a lot of degrees could work a similar angle that I did.

    2. Jellyfish*

      Have you looked at library metadata and/or cataloging at all? That may still be too close to tech for your preference, but it might be a good entry point for you to switch fields but still use your knowledge and experience.

      1. Crowdsourcing Career*

        I’m on a work PC and can’t search Indeed for those keywords – what exactly is library metadata/cataloging?

        1. Jellyfish*

          I pulled this job description from Google – “Responsible for managing the catalog of materials at a library. Inputs data about materials into electronic catalog to ensure users can locate books, serials, films, or other documents. Prepares bibliographic and item records for monographs, journals and other library material.”

          To roughly translate, catalogers handle a lot of the back end work that makes libraries function. For a patron to look up a book or an article, somebody has to input all the information about that book (the metadata) to make it searchable. Depending on the library, catalogers may also decide how to categorize and file information. For a terrible example, if a book comes in detailing the exploits of a murderous daffodil, do you file it under botany or true crime?

          It’s generally not a public facing job, but there’s lots of opportunity to interact with others in the library field and to write about what you’re doing. Many places are starting to look for people with a tech background for these positions rather than requiring the library / information master’s degree.

          If you’re into problem solving, writing, history, tech, and details, archiving is another potential library-ish career. That’s a highly competitive field though, and it would likely require grad school to break into at all.
          Whatever you end up doing, I wish you success!

          1. Crowdsourcing Career*

            Well, now I really want to read the book about the murderous daffodil.

            Thank you for the explanation! That sounds like it would really suit me.

            1. Frankie*

              Seconding that librarian positions are really, really competitive, though. I knew some folks who went to library school and I think it took them years after their degrees to finally get true librarian positions. So you wouldn’t want to set it as your number 1 option unless you were really sure it was your true love!

              1. Seeking Second Childhood*

                Alas it’s daffodils as an acronym but… the link in moderation does come up on a Google search for murderous daffodils.

    3. Eng*

      Do you already have a degree (not necessarily STEM)? I looked for Amazon tech writing jobs and the first posting I saw listed “Degree in English, Technical Writing, Computer Science or a related field.” That seems really broad! You may not need a STEM degree. I also know there are tech writing certifications one can do, though the only person I know that did one did have a computer science background.

      1. Crowdsourcing Career*

        I only have an AAS right now, but I was planning on getting a four-year degree anyway. Just not sure what it would be yet! My school offers a Technical Communications degree; does that sound like a good idea? Link to the actual degree to follow.

    4. irene adler*

      Might look into Quality Assurance. QA people like to tackle and solve problems.
      Visit ASQ.org

      There’s auditing where you assure processes and products conform to the expected standards. You write reports explaining your audit results. This is a viable career in many industries: pharma, medical device, electronics, aerospace, food products, biotech, aviation and any other fields that are regulated by law or standards.

      There’s regulatory affairs where you assure the employer is following regulations or standards and figures out how the company will meet these standards/regs when they change. This too, applies in the fields mentioned above.
      Might also look into the IT end of each of these careers and industries I’ve mentioned. For example, biotech utilizes a lot of IT-type stuff. Someone has to have the understanding of IT to audit IT practices.

      ASQ.org has info on this. If this interests you, might seek out your local section and attend a monthly meeting. Talk to folks. They WILL have ideas.

      1. Crowdsourcing Career*

        Thank you so much! I actually have IT experience in a couple of those industries so that is promising! I am going to look at job postings for this later, but does QA generally require a four-year degree, and if so, in what (if it matters)?

        1. irene adler*

          Depends upon the company. Do you have experience/knowledge in IT? Can it be leveraged for use in an auditing setting? A lot of Biotech job ads say “degree preferred-but not required.” This shouldn’t be a deal-breaker at all.

          You might have to take a course in how to perform auditing. See ASQ.org. One course won’t kill ya.

          See, the thing is, you bring to the table knowledge of a discipline. That’s the key. They can train ya to audit. But they can’t really train the IT knowledge into someone. Advantage: you.

          Find the QA folks local to your area (via ASQ.org). Talk with the folks. They will know about whether you need a 4-year degree or not.

          Another thought comes to mind: project management. Might look into that too.

            1. Spork*

              Software QA doesn’t require a 4-year degree. A general IT background, paired with an aptitude/interest in troubleshooting, is often all it takes to get a great QA tester, who can then develop into a lot of different roles – team lead, automation engineer, performance engineer, et cetera. My team has some people with various degrees and also two college dropouts, one of whom is one of the best QA folks I’ve worked with thanks to his mentality around testing.

              One of the downsides is entry level QA often pays complete shit, so…

    5. Super Duper Anon*

      I am a tech writer, and only have a compsci degree. I realized after that finishing the degree that while I was really interested in tech, I did not want to program for a living. So I took a year off and did an exchange program and worked a temp job and went back to school for a year for a post-graduate technical writing certificate (I am in Canada, so what is available to you may vary). It gave me the boost I needed to get my first job (although I had to take a combo tech writer/administrator job to get my foot in the door) and I have been a tech writer ever since.

    6. Nicki Name*

      Business analyst, perhaps? There’s always a need for people to be the bridge between business needs and technical knowledge.

      1. Windchime*

        This was going to be my suggestion. I am a report developer in a BI department. We have Business Analysts (BA) for each specialty group, and the BA’s responsibility is to gather requirements from users and create a report spec that the developer will then use to determine how to create the report. Having technical knowledge is very helpful and a good BA is worth their weight in gold.

    7. new kid*

      Adding a +1 to the other commenters who’ve said you don’t need a STEM degree for tech writing. I started my career as a tech writer and my undergrad degree was actually in business!

      I read up-thread your concerns about proprietary writing samples and I’ve dealt with that a bunch so a couple of suggestions: 1) see if there’s a way you can ‘anonymize’ the content in a way that your writing is still in tact but the specific product details are obscured, or 2) if all else fails, write up a couple of samples specifically for your job search just using a well-known program you use often, eg. work steps on how to do a complicated process in excel.

      At the end of the day, strong writers are hard to find, so my experience has been that writing samples/writing tests in the application process are going to matter way more than your specific degree or credentials (for entry level especially).

      Good luck!!

      1. Crowdsourcing Career*

        Thank you! Everyone telling me I don’t need a STEM degree for tech writing is really encouraging. I can definitely go with your #2 option – there are quite a few processes I can write up that don’t require me to anonymize info.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Being a BA involves a *lot* of writing and other analytical work. I’ve worked with many BAs and would say they are probably about 50/50 introverts to extroverts (and some of the best BAs I’ve worked with have been more introverted so I don’t think it’s a barrier!). It is pretty much transferable between most industries. IT or other systems knowledge is a definite bonus.

        You do have to be good at following through, completing things, hounding people (when necessary) for answers, meetings, business decisions, etc. And be organised. In general you wouldn’t make most of the decisions yourself as such but would often have to coordinate the people who do need to make the decisions.

        What do you like / are good at in 2nd line support? Solving problems and keeping track of a problem from start (or when it gets handed over from 1st line more like) to completion? There are always problems to solve as a BA…

        You could also look into project management but it may be the “face to face” requirements are too draining if you are quite introverted.

        1. Crowdsourcing Career*

          I would say I am averagely organized, leaning towards more organized if given the proper tools (and allowed to use my methods, which are not always conventional). This sounds like an interesting career path! Would you say there is much stats involved?

          1. Product Person*

            No stats involved for a IIBA style business analyst! Check out bridging-the-gap dot com — you will find people coming from all sorts of backgrounds into the profession. Typically writing requirements / acceptance criteria for sw projects.

          2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            There are no “stats” involved as a BA if you mean stuff that would be taught in a degree for example. You would probably need to work out basic averages in Excel and stuff like that from time to time.

            Business analyst is very different from “data analyst” if that’s what you are thinking of.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Some technical writing positions need the BS–around here, there’s a lot of biotech & pharmaceuticals, and they’re looking for masters. But many do not—I’m doing well with a BS History and a programming certificate. A former co-worker was an internal hire from the test labs with *no* college degree. (Some companies won’t let people be promoted without it so research.)
      Business analysis & project management also are worth looking into–and even IT administration. You don’t have to DO it to manage it.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Or even writing the scripts for an IT call center…might be able to swing this as an internal change.

    9. Formerly in HR*

      Business analyst. The IT experience should help you assess requirements and translate them in developer lingo, the logical thinking ahould help you map out processes or identify dependencies. Communications helps for all the eliciting stuff you would have to do.
      Not all employers require certifcations, so you can start by taking a course (online or in person) to get the gist. Read around, check the Laura Brandenberg site, see how you can frame parts of your experience as BA work. Peruse job postings in your area to see what are the requirements and identify what you should develop.

    10. SecOps*

      I know it’s hard to stay in IT, I’ve been in IT now for many years. However, I’m financially more stable than any of my peers, bc it’s such a good field. I’ve decided to make a change within IT and go into Cybersecurity and am studying for my Security+ certification. It’s really fascinating and if you’re interested in Digital Forensics, you do alot of writing along with still tinkering…:) Best of luck to whatever you choose…

  31. Mimmy*

    Quandary: Applying for an entry-level job when you’ve previously applied for a higher-level job with the same employer

    When I completed an internship this past fall with an office related to the field I want to enter, the supervisor suggested that I start with an entry level, part-time position; she felt I wasn’t ready for a full-time position yet, which I agree with, but I can definitely get there.

    So imagine my delight when I saw such a job posting at the same university but at a campus closer to me. The pay is less than what I’m making now at my current part-time job, but my husband and I are okay with that because this job is more in line with my career path, for which I am pursuing a second Masters.

    Here’s the catch: I applied for a higher-level position with this same office late last summer. Here are my quandaries:

    1. The resume I’d submitted last summer includes a previous Master’s degree plus a certification. For this new job, I want to remove those credentials so that just my most relevant education is listed and so as not to appear overqualified. Will HR and/or the hiring manager notice? Also, if I were to fill out an official job application, I know I’ll have to include those credentials. Will that count against me?

    2. What is the best way to explain that I’m seeking a job that I’m probably overqualified for and that I’d be making less than I’m making now? I’m thinking something along the lines of that it’s closer to my career goals and that I’m currently in school for a degree in this field.

    3. Last time they asked me about my salary requirements. If they ask again, do I quote the hourly rate listed in the job posting?

    1. Mimmy*

      Forgot one question: Related to #2 – Is this something that I would put in my cover letter? Also in the cover letter, do I acknowledge that I’d recently applied for a different job with the same department?

    2. Anonymous Liz*

      Depending on the size of the university (which based on multiple campuses, I expect it’s large), I think it’s highly unlikely that they would notice the changes. I wouldn’t bring it up, and if they do happen to remember it, then you could explain in an interview in-person. Similarly, I wouldn’t frame things as being “over-qualified” but instead stress the alignment of the position with your career goals.

      I’m not sure about #3 – sorry!

    3. Mad Harry Crewe*

      For #3, I think it would be very reasonable to refer back to the wage listed in the job posting. “I saw this was listed at $X/hour – that works fine for me.”

  32. EmBee*

    Does anyone have any advice for working in the film industry? (Specifically in Canada, but any advice would help!) After reading posts on here about people not wanting office jobs, I want to change careers and I think this might be a good option for me. I am trying to move to Vancouver, so I think this would be a good time to switch. I’m not sure where to start in looking or applying for jobs, any help would be appreciated! Thank you :)

    1. in the file room*

      Hi there! I spent two years (2017-2018) working in film in Vancouver to help pay for college. Sorry this is so late, but I seem to have written a short essay…

      The truth is that film is still primarily a “who you know” business, which is going to be tough as you’re moving to the area. As a newbie, you’ll almost certainly have to start as a Locations PA. That means 15-hour days picking up the garbage, standing watching unlocked doors for hours on end, and being generally the bottom of the hierarchy. The days are long and hard. Be prepared for all weather – don’t cheap out on good rain gear, including rain pants! A backpack with extra layers, spare socks, etc is a good idea. Steel toed boots can also be very useful; comfortable shoes in general are essential. You often are standing for the entirety of your workday. There will almost certainly be heavy lifting.

      You don’t really apply for on-set jobs in the traditional way we think of here on AAM; it’s more like the way you might hire a tradesperson to work on your home. Your best bets for getting into the industry from your position are 1) the Facebook group called BC Crew Calls for PAs and 2) the union call listings (Directors’ Guild of Canada, which you can get into after working a certain amount). Both are resources that can connect you to available work. You’ll probably start out getting “day calls” where you’re only employed for one day. If you impress them, they might call you to come back, and you can play that out into good relationships that can lead to being employed for whole shows. I would also recommend taking the two-day BC Motion Picture Orientation class, which will explain things like safety, terminology, and basic set rules. It’ll help you adjust more quickly to this totally different world.

      If you can establish yourself as a reliable and likable PA (work hard, show up, and have a VERY positive attitude) you can probably get into one of the other departments based on your relationship with people working in them. This is easier if you have experience with construction, electrical equipment, driving large vehicles, etc. Costumes and makeup typically take people who have had at least some formal training in those fields. Don’t expect to get anywhere near a camera or the cast for quite a while (like, a few years).

      You will be MUCH more employable if you can drive and have a vehicle. Many shoots are in areas that are rural, remote, or otherwise hard to access via public transit, plus start times might be too early for the bus on some days. My earliest-ever start time was 4am. There are also sometimes overnight shifts, especially on Fridays (aka “Fraturdays”, since you get off between 6 and 10 am on Saturday). A lot of shows in Vancouver are sci-fi, so they do a LOT of night shoots.

      Remember that, for the majority of the crew, this is definitely a blue-collar environment. There will be a lot of swearing, and it’s much less formal than most white collar environments. Harassment policies are being improved in the wake of… everything… but there’s still some ways to go in terms of gender. The working environment is still primarily white and male. People often pass the time by flirting, which tends to have a negative impact on your relationship. Between that and the hours, the divorce rate is HIGH.

      If you commit to the film lifestyle, you won’t be able to make plans with people during the week. If you’re working full time, you won’t see your family for more than a brief period every day, if that. (My days used to be: drive to work, work 15 hours, drive home, shower, bed, repeat). You’ll be tired on the weekends, and you have to go to bed early on Sunday. It’s hard on your body. If you smoke, I’d advise trying to quit now, since the long idle hours tend to push people’s consumption WAY up. I don’t say these things to scare you, but to make sure you have a realistic idea of what it’s like. Contrary to popular belief, there’s very little romance in this industry.

      All that said… good luck! And be sure to report back how it goes!

      1. Easily Amused*

        My husband can corroborate everything In the file room said. He was an Assistant Director in Canada awhile back (having worked his way up). I was a VFX artist for 8 years (all computer work) which meant 60-80 hour 6/7 day weeks in a dark room. My sister once said to me, “you don’t have a job, you have a lifestyle and your lifestyle sucks.” The film industry is hard to break into, hard on relationships and any semblance of work/life balance and hard to break out of as in, if you eventually want to leave the industry to get back a more normal life, the skills you learned there are pretty difficult for outsiders to translate into what they need for any other industry. My husband and I both got out of the industry (he’s in IT, I’m a software developer). It took me a few years of being out before having 2 days off in a row every single week felt normal. This is not to dissuade you from following your dreams but just to give you my own experience of the realities of that dream.

    2. SMH RN*

      Not film specific advice (and you may know already) but just be aware of the cost of living in Vancouver and try to have some reserve money…2 of my siblings moved out there and found rent a major stressor. My sis currently pays double my detached house mortgage for a bachelor suite apartment. Her main advice-just find any job as soon as possible so you aren’t spending all your savings before you have a chance to get started.

  33. Sleepy*

    I’ve run into a problem in my new job. I have a sleep disorder that gets worse in winter, and I tend to be late…a lot. It’s not a butts-in-seats job, but I’ve only been here a month and stumbling in 30 minutes to an hour late is not a good look. I haven’t been spoken to by my boss about it (I’m not sure he’s even noticed, he’s here infrequently), but I’m wondering if I should bring it up proactively, and if so, what I should say. What do you think, AAM commentariat?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Definitely bring it up before someone else does. Ask your boss for a sit-down and tell him that you have a condition that makes it tough to wake up (or however you want to phrase it). Ask if it would be possible to adjust your hours; even if you have no set hours, often there are expected hours, and you’re asking for some flexibility in those. Also, if you have HR, speak to someone about the process for documenting a medical condition, for your own protection and peace of mind.

      1. Sleepy*

        Thank you! I forgot to mention that I’m a contractor through a staffing agency (they do temp-to-hire with all their staff in my department), so I’m not sure if I should talk to their HR or the HR of the company I’m contracting for.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s a key thing– I would talk to your staffing agency before you talk to your boss. Do you have some kind of manager there, the recruiter who placed you? Call them, say you have a question about a medical condition possibly affecting your schedule, and ask them who to speak to.

          1. Sleepy*

            I have two people I could potentially talk to – the local liaison (the staffing company is not based out of my town) who onboarded me and the person who originally placed me. I’m not sure which one I’m supposed to go to for issues like this – should I just reach out to the local guy?

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Yes, try him first. Ask him what you should do. If it’s not his job, he will probably tell you who to talk to.

    2. rayray*

      This could be tricky, and I don’t really know the culture of your office. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to talk to your boss, and see if you can arrange for a more flexible work schedule, maybe go in an hour later and work an hour later.

      1. Sleepy*

        The culture is extremely relaxed and talks a good game about diversity and work-life balance. I haven’t been here long enough to know if that’s true. Do you have any suggestions for how to phrase it when I talk to him? I tend to over-apologize, almost grovel, when I’m embarrassed and know I’ve messed up, and I know that comes off poorly.

        1. rayray*

          I’m not the best at these kind of scripts, so maybe someone else can chime in. I think just being honest that it is a health condition and you’re struggling right now. Ask if there is any possibility that you could work a later schedule for a little while. Be clear that you don’t want it to impact your work or anyone else, but it will be better for your health and work productivity. Try to keep it breezy, you don’t need to over explain or apologize. You could try writing out what you might want to say, and then go back to it a little later and edit it. I get very anxious when approaching people, and it helps me to write out what I need to say so I don’t ramble or get flustered.

        2. CM*

          Here’s my suggestion: “Boss, I wanted to let you know that I’m under treatment for a sleeping disorder which is making it difficult for me to arrive at 8:30. I don’t think it has been affecting my work, and I’ve been making sure my work gets done on time [and staying later in the day / putting in additional hours from home / whatever you’re doing]. But I’m bringing this up because I take this job seriously and wouldn’t want you to think otherwise if I’m not here on time.”

          You could also say, “If you have any concerns or ideas for me, I’d be happy to hear them.”

          Or if you have a specific ask, you could say, “One solution I’ve thought of is to officially flex my hours so I’m here 10-6 instead. What do you think?” or “Would that be possible?”

          I have no experience with staffing agencies so that might change what you say — I’m assuming here that you’re having this conversation directly with your boss.

      1. Sleepy*

        Yes, I’ve seen several doctors over the course of six years, and am under the direct treatment of two. The issue is a combo of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and garden-variety depression. So it’s been pretty hard to treat.

        1. CatPerson*

          Wow, that’s tough! I read a book recently, Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker, Ph.D., that was really eye-opening about how incredibly important sleep it. Good luck, I hope you conquer this!

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      This is a bit of a silly suggestion, but have you considered buying one of those seasonal affective disorder sun lamps and putting it on a simple lamp timer, so it turns on in your bedroom, say, half an hour or an hour before you need to be awake?

      1. Sleepy*

        Definitely have tried one of those sunrise lamps before! It drives my partner nuts but I might have to tell him to suck it up because it was pretty useful for me.

        1. Mad Harry Crewe*

          Assuming he’s on a similar schedule and you aren’t shorting him out of hours of sleep, sounds like he needs to suck it up.

    4. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      As a general principle, if there’s a problem that others are (reasonably) potentially going to notice, you should get in proactively and then that way you control the narrative.

      I can’t speak specially about sleep disorders, but I did (and do, ongoing) have a condition where the medication induces excessive yawning as a side effect in some people, including myself as it turned out. I could stifle the yawns a bit rather than it being a full-on open mouth head back yawnfest but was still perceivable by others. At the time I had to attend a lot of meetings and such so didn’t want the boss to think I was “bored” or “not engaged” with the meeting, for obvious reasons, so had the discussion with the boss proactively before it was brought up with me!

      Curious why you characterise it as “stumbling in […] late” since you don’t seem to have fixed hours. But if it’s a workplace where that would be ‘Noted’ (rather than just perceived as people having different working patterns) then I would definitely bring it up first.

      1. Sleepy*

        …you know, I don’t know why I say “stumbling in late” because it’s been quite clear to me that as long as I put my 40 hours in and get my work done, it doesn’t especially matter when I come in. People’s start times range from 6:30am to 10am, and they leave whenever. I might be making this into a bigger matter than it has to be, but I should probably still address it.

  34. CTT*

    I CANNOT get the other side on this deal to respond to me, and I am losing my mind. We’re all attorneys, and I have asked several times if there are any other documents that need to be signed for this closing, because my client is overseas and that makes over-nighting last-minute things almost impossible, and they 1) will not give us a straight answer and 2) will not respond to any of my emails and calls for clarification. I’m calling/emailing every half hour now because we close in a week, which feels like overkill, but I’m at a total loss on what else to do (short of driving the 8 hours to their office, which doesn’t feel efficient, but honestly this deal has made me so crazy that before I googled it I was like “what if it’s four hours away? I could do that.”)

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

      Ugh, I’m sorry that’s happening to you. My company has been in a frustrating situation as well. It’s not that the other side isn’t responding, but they’re asking for one. thing. at. a. time. They’ll review contracts or supporting documents, then send an email asking for one thing. We’ll respond as timely as we can, then 3 days will go by and they’ll ask for one more thing…and the whole process repeats. It doesn’t help that the person we’re communicating with is the assistant to the attorney and they don’t seem to understand the project at all. And we can’t get started until we have a signed contract…so we’re left twiddling our thumbs waiting on them!

    2. LadyByTheLake*

      Long time attorney here. Emailing/calling every half hour is not just overkill — the other side is (and I’m sorry to say this) probably perceiving this as unhinged. There is no possible scenario where that kind of constant communication attempts would be productive, and if I were on the other side I would likely be advising my client that this doesn’t bode well for an ongoing business relationship. Stop, just stop. Give it a couple of days, then apologize for the overreaction — ask for an update and then wait. It sounds like the other side either isn’t as into the deal as your client is or is having second thoughts. If they want the deal to happen, they will do what needs to be done to make it happen. If they don’t, pestering them like this isn’t going to make them want it more — quite the opposite.

      1. Another JD*

        This. If you’ve sent the CYA to all relevant parties that your client’s original signatures cannot be guaranteed past X date, you’ve done your due diligence.

    3. NewReadingGlasses*

      Is there a local courier service in their city? If so, would it be practical to send one to them to ask questions in person by proxy?

      1. LadyByTheLake*

        At that point (someone showing up on my office doorstep) if I were on the other side I would be considering a TRO — wouldn’t actually get one, but I would be wondering if I should. CTT, in your own words you say “I’m losing my mind.” I trust that you meant that as a figure of speech, but unfortunately, the actions re outreach every half hour and considering showing up in person make it appear as if that is literally happening (“losing your mind”), which, if I were on the other side, wouldn’t feel safe. Please, take a big step back and a deep breath. Either this deal will happen or it won’t — “losing your mind” isn’t going to help it along. I say this from a place of experience — it can feel like the world is ending when your client needs a deal (ask me about trying to close a deal on September 11, 2001). But the world isn’t ending, and even if there are dire consequences, there might not be anything you can do about it. This too shall pass.

    4. Coverage Associate*

      Double check the weather and telecommunications situation in the other location. I was once in a similar situation, and it turned out that the other office was shut down due to snow.

  35. Amber Rose*

    I’m having to train a coworker on order entry and parts sales, but also I’m told that they want to move all that work and everything related to it over to sales and they are hiring someone pursuant to that.

    So one, I don’t understand why I’m training my coworker, who is not sales, on a time consuming and irritating process.

    And two, I’m now scared to death of what the future holds for me here, because order entry and sales is like 50% of my job. I should probably ask, but I’m too scared. I’m trying to take some encouragement from the fact that I’m cross training in quality control, but I’m only doing that because my one coworker is going on mat leave. Does that mean my job expires when she gets back?

    Ugh, I’m so anxious about all this. :(

    1. InsufficentlySubordinate*

      I’m so sorry you’re feeling anxious. I really understand why you’re afraid to ask (because I do that too) but, for both of us, it’s a relief to know one way or the other and a lot of times it’s not as bad as I thought. Or, alternatively, you can get ready and prepare for the bad if you know. Not knowing just feels like you’re frozen in place.
      So, I’m encouraging you to ask. Rehearse the words you want to say out loud in front of a mirror so you hear them and go to your boss. You can practice tone or whatever.
      Best wishes to you.

      1. valentine*

        The sooner you know, the sooner you can plan. It could be no one’s connected the dots between the training and the new hire, so asking about it could save you time and effort.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Have the discussion with your boss. Hope, and fear, are not a strategy. (Are you an anxious person in general? – Believe me I know how it is from your side! I’ve been there!)

      Often people recommend against this discussion because of the risk of “putting ideas in to your boss’s head” if they weren’t considering the course of action anyway. In this case, if it really is a thing, it’s far enough advanced already that it is happening and it’s not just something being vaguely considered as a possibility.

      What does your co-worker do currently? Short term (or long term) they are off-loading the order entry stuff to your co-worker – why?

      If you have the sympathetic ear of bosses I would suggest you propose that co-worker takes on the order entry etc “new role” in sales and that you move over into quality control full time, if that’s something you want to pursue in the future.

      When your maternity leave colleague returns is there a possibility for you to continue with QC alongside? Or take on something else? Companies always need more QC.. and someone who’s shown she (?) is adaptable and able to take on new things will always be valuable!

      At the least you would have gained some additional things to add to your CV and so on, if it comes to the worst.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Sorry I hit ‘submit’ before finishing the thoughts!
        I would start looking around, if I were you. Do you (I think I recall reading from your previous comments) work in the ‘city’? The big smoke?
        I think you would be greatly reassured to know that you have options, not really specific companies but just the amount of approaches.

  36. merp*

    Question re: being young and cashing out a pension?

    I worked for a university for a little over a year in Texas which means my retirement contributions went to the Teachers Retirement System of Texas. I’m in the library field so I may very well end up working for another public university in Texas in the future and could add to that contribution then. But I’m very happy in my non-academia job right now and have no immediate plans to return to a university here. (The public one in my city now, well, the library has gone through 3 re-orgs in 2 years and is a bit of a trash fire based on what I hear from employees anyway). So should I just take that money back? Can I even do that? Or leave it there, and for what reasons? Pensions still confuse me a bit, would love some advice from someone wiser than me.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I have a pension fund from a job I left seven years ago, and it’s just sitting there, for a couple of reasons. Mostly, I leave it because if I want to withdraw, the tax penalties are massive. The pension was separate from my 401k, which I roll over every time I change jobs, and the company actually ended the program after I had been there for about six years, so I was fully vested but the company stopped contributing.

      However… forgive the question, but are you talking about a true pension, or a 401k or a 403b or some other type of fund? Because the answers will be different.

      There should be someone at the Teachers Retirement System– or their bank– who can walk you through your options. Try giving them a call and talking to someone.

      1. merp*

        Fair question – I believe it is properly a pension, definitely not a 401k and I believe not a 403b. Thanks for your advice!

    2. Enough*

      You have to see what the rules for the pension are. But usually you can get your contributions back. That said if you did not pay taxes on the money you will owe it when you take the money. You might want to look into rolling the money over to an IRA. Regular IRA if you didn’t pay taxes on it or a Roth IRA if you did pay taxes.

    3. OperaArt*

      If this is a pension rather than a 401k, usually the older you are when you take the pension the more money you get.
      The pension systems I’m familiar with base the monthly or lump sum payouts on a combination of three factors: years in service, maximum salary/wage while at the job, and age when you activate the pension. You’ve only been there a year, so the first two factors are almost irrelevant.

    4. sandlapper*

      First, check to see if you are vested. Generally you need to work several years. Also, are they any other benefits included in the pension? I’m vested in a state pension and am keeping the money there even though I left the job years ago. I’ll only receive a small monthly payment when I retire but I’ll get health insurance which is more important to me.

    5. Disco Janet*

      I did this in order to get a down payment on a house. You have to pay taxes on it twice, which is the big downside. They took tax out when they gave me my payout and then at the end of the year I had to claim it as income and it increased my taxes due. I still think I would do it again because I really like my house but I would set more aside for tax season. Hope that makes sense.

      1. Anonymous Pterodactyl*

        You don’t actually pay taxes twice. Some taxes are withheld when you withdraw the money, and then when you file your taxes the correct amount, including any early withdrawal penalties, is calculated. If you paid enough taxes when it was first withdrawn it will wash out, but if there is additional tax or you have to pay the 10% penalty, you’ll owe more at that time.

        IOW, it’s the same *amount* no matter what – just a question of how much gets paid when.

    6. Catsaber*

      I believe you can withdraw from the pension, but there will be tax implications, so google “withdrawing pension taxes” or something like that. Also there is a lot of information on the TRS website about how to withdraw and what all the implications are.

      Since you contributed to TRS, I’m assuming you were considered a state employee, and therefore have state service credit. You could get another job at a state institution – not necessarily a university. You would then be contributing to ERS. I’m not sure how exactly TRS and ERS work together, but there is is info out there. I believe you can transfer your TRS credit to ERS, but you’ll need to review the information on the TRS and ERS websites for details.

      So you may not ever work for a university again, but you might work for the state of Texas, so that’s something to consider. Personally I would not withdraw anything from a retirement account unless I had a desperate need for the money, because of tax penalties. But you might be able to do a rollover or something like that, if you choose to withdraw it. But just know that you would only be withdrawing your own contributions, because you would not be vested after just one year.

      1. Catsaber*

        Also – talking to a financial planner: check to see if your current employer offers free planning/counseling sessions with their retirement provider. Often, you don’t even have to have an account with the retirement group in order to use their services. Although I have a TRS pension, my university also offers some accounts through Fidelity, so I was able to talk with a Fidelity rep, and it was extremely helpful.

        1. merp*

          Hey wanted to say thanks for this suggestion! I sort of thought something like a financial planner would be way out of my league but you were right and my work connected me with someone this afternoon. Never would have thought they would connect me to someone I didn’t plan to make an account with, so really appreciate you mentioning it!

    7. fposte*

      It’s best to read the specific pension plan’s documentation. However, your choices may be cash out (which means a portion beyond your contribution will be taxed) vs. rollover to another retirement fund (still tax-deferred). Since it was only a year it shouldn’t matter a ton even if you get back in the system later; it’s just that that year probably won’t count toward your final total. Are there annual increases? If not, I’d probably move it.

    8. Anonymous Liz*

      I think you’ve gotten a lot of good advice here, but I’d add that you can often roll your TRS to similar programs in different states. If you think you may eventually end up as a state university employee elsewhere, I’d leave it!

    9. GigglyPuff*

      I worked at a university for a couple years in a temp position but got all the benefits including teachers’ retirement system. Usually when you leave, you can leave it, take it (but will have to pay the taxes), or mine allowed me to roll it over into a 401(k), which my next job offered an optional one. I took that option.

      If you leave it, it’ll gain the interest of the account but still probably won’t be a lot when you do retire. The other reason to leave it, is if there’s a possibility of going to back to work for the state, and already having a jump start on the retirement account.

      1. Mellow*

        GigglyPuff alludes to a great point: if you cash out your pension, the state considers you retired. Should you get hired at another job in that same state, you won’t be able to contribute to another pension fund.

    10. Tmarie*

      My cousin had 5 years in at a state job in Washington. She cashed it out in her early 20’s. In her late 20’s she started a job in a different agency, but still a state job in Washington. She’s lost out on 10% of an annual pension.

      Keep the money there, who knows if in 5 years you’ll go back to a state job.

    11. CatPerson*

      Since there are all kinds of pensions and different rules depending on your employer, it would be best to talk to a financial planner since most decisions regarding pensions are irrevocable.

    12. lost academic*

      Talk to a financial advisor, you may need to roll it into another type of retirement account to avoid substantial penalties.

    13. Rick Tq*

      Don’t cash it out, roll it over to a personal IRA so you can keep the money tax-deferred. You still take the money out of the pension plan but keep all the tax benefits of pre-tax withholding of your retirement savings.

    14. TL -*

      For TRA, it can sit there penalty free for five years, then you have to roll it over or (I think) lose it.
      Rolling it over is really easy. Open a Roth or IRA online (I used Fidelity), print out, complete, and get your IRA company to sign the TRA rollover form (Google it), then mail it to TRA in Round Rock. They’ll send you the check to deposit into your new account, then you mail the check to your IRA company.

      Easy as! I just did it this September, used the help number for Fidelity to fill out the form, and the help number for TRA to make sure I had the process right (I did.) It took longer because it’s all snail mail but the only snag was that I didn’t have a Fidelity office nearby so I had to mail the form in to Wisconsin with a letter to get signed.

      1. TL -*

        Final comment: I’m assuming this doesn’t vary depending on where you work – because I just went through the TRS website – but I think mine was ultimately through the UT system if that helps.

  37. Captain Kirk*

    So I had an “oh no you didn’t” at work this week. My girlfriend and I broke up just after Thanksgiving, and so to replace the photo of her and me in my cubicle, I put up some family photos from a year back: my parents, my sibling, me, you get the idea. This was back in early December.

    This week, my manager (who’s old enough to be my mother) says to me, “Those family pictures you put up? Your dad’s really handsome! He looks like [prominent former state politician]. I’ve always thought that [prominent former state politician] was handsome!”

    My parents and I got a good laugh out of it, but at the same time, now I want to take down my photos. I’m a guy, in my late 20s—*why* would you tell me that??

    1. Zoe Karvounopsina*

      …at least your dad *isn’t* prominent former state politician? My father occasionally tells the tale of a friend of his who was sat next to a young woman at a political party fundraiser, and said, “Where are you from? Oh, well if you’re from Blarghshire you must know X! Good old X, shame about the drinking problem….hope he didn’t grab you, he could get a bit dodgy when he was drunk…and then there was *that* party…”

      Young woman: “Yes, I do know X. He’s my father.”

      Epic silence for the remainder of the meal.

    2. WhatsHappenin*

      It was one comment? Sounds like she was just trying to connect with you. I had always found these types of comments about personal items intrusive, but as long as it’s not a constant irritant (like every time she walks by your cubbie she swoons over your dad), I’d just let it go.

      I also try not to put anything like that up at work and stick to silly things I like (I collect little lucky cat figurines) which starts conversations without being too personal.

      1. MoinMoin*

        Agreed. I hope this isn’t insensitive, but people say goofy things sometimes and if it’s not a pattern and not heinous I’d just chalk it up to a weird one-off and forget about it.

    3. Veryanon*

      LOL…this story reminds me of when I used to keep a picture of me and my mother taken on my wedding day on my desk (when I was still married). My much older, creepster male boss, who had been married/divorced three times and was currently on wife #4, stopped by and asked me who the attractive lady was in the picture. (It was clearly my mother; we look a lot alike, I was wearing a wedding dress and she was dressed as the mother of the bride.)
      Me: Oh, that’s my mother.
      Boss: She’s a fine looking woman. Is she married?
      Me: Yes, to my dad.
      Boss: Happily?
      Me: Yes.
      Boss: Oh, that’s a shame. She’s a fine looking woman.
      JFC

    4. ELM*

      For goodness sake, she was just being chatty. Don’t be so touchy! Or are women old enough to be your mother not allowed to find anybody handsome? *rolls eyes*

      1. KoiFeeder*

        I mean, by all accounts my dad is handsome, but I don’t really need people telling me that? I would find it unnerving and would consider it a conversation killer more than a conversation starter regardless of who it came from.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Laughing is for funny things. Why is it funny that someone is telling me their opinion on my dad’s appearance unasked for?

            1. Shirley Keeldar*

              Honestly, I’m just really baffled…can you explain a little more? Did the comments feel salacious to you–i.e., verging into sexual harassment territory? Or did you find it insulting that she praised your dad’s appearance rather than yours? Or do you not like the local politician and were exasperated that your boss connected him with your dad? Or something else I’m not thinking of? I’m genuinely seeking more information here. To me your boss’s comments read as slightly goofy, but nothing worse than that. Maybe you can help me see what I’m missing.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                I’m not OP! You want Captain Kirk. I’m just a humble autistic who loves koi.

                But since you asked my opinion, it feels rather invasive to the person being discussed and makes me feel like the person talking to me is giving me waaaaay too much information when people tell me what they think of someone’s attractiveness- even when those people aren’t related to me, even if it’s just a friend turning to me and pointing out that a person walking across the street has a nice butt or something. When someone does this and involves my family, I (irrationally, I know) feel like they’re making a threat against that family member.

                1. Avasarala*

                  I can see feeling weirded out by “sexy” or “hot”, but “handsome”? That’s pretty neutered as far as appearance compliments go. That’s Grandma-talking-about-the-neighbor’s-son level. “What a handsome young man, and he works so hard too.” Compare to “what a beautiful little girl you have.”

                  It’s one thing if they’re talking about the family member’s sex appeal or directly hitting on them or saying “they’re my type” kind of stuff, but handsome/beautiful is a pretty generic compliment. I think your take is a bit extreme.

                2. KoiFeeder*

                  @Avasarala
                  I don’t process tone of voice or body language. I have no idea if someone means handsome in the grandma way or the Mr. Idris Elba way. Trying to contextualize the meaning of appearance-based statements based only on what people say is drastically harder than anyone thinks it is!

  38. LTL*

    Is anyone familiar with the data science bootcamp at Metis?

    It looks like it has a good reputation and they have some prerequisites (so they don’t accept just anyone). I know someone who was able to land a data science job out of a bootcamp but it was a different one (NYC data science).

  39. anonybear*

    Just applied for a job that would be at an organization I’ve loved for years, in an industry that I’d loooove to transition into. It’s a senior leadership position, would require moving my family 3 hours away, and generally would be a huge life shift. My husband is on board, the application is in, and I’m putting my request for an interview out into the universe. Good vibes welcome! <3

    1. Anon for this one*

      Good luck!
      Please be aware of the impact on your husband as a presumable “trailing spouse”. If he can’t find a job in your new location I guess you will be the sole breadwinner? It may be great but please do think about how the dynamics will change if you are the one earning all the money. And how much of a psychological burden that may place on you.

  40. rayray*

    Curious to hear perspective on this.

    Why is it, that we have to hit this certain number of hours worked, or wait patiently in our seats until the clock tells us it’s acceptable to go home? I find it so bizarre how so many people have so little to do, they pretend to be busy most of the day, vs just getting work done and leaving when said tasks are finished. I’m treated like a child at work. My dictated hours are 9:00 -5:00 – I don’t have clients, and there is no actual logic or reason behind this, it’s just the way it is. I find it absoltuely absurd that if I am done at 4:15, I can’t just leave, I have to pretend to be busy, do busy work, or just fiddle around until the designated hour. I totally get if I finished at 1:30 that my boss would give me more work to do, but I just don’t follow this idea that we need to have our butts in our seat and be physically present. I know so many people who will play games, browse online, chit chat with coworkers etc until the clock says they can go home.

    1. WhatsHappenin*

      From a managers perspective, I’d want to know if you had downtime as this probably means you are ready for more complex tasks or taking on more workload. If you are afraid of having that conversation with your manager because it might result in more (busy) work, look for ways to fill your time that’s more productive.

      Creating positive uses of your time that benefit the company shows you are a self-starter and takes the burden off your boss to create more (busy) work for you.

      Perhaps now is the time to take stock of what your priorities are for your career? Do you want to be in a job like the one you are currently in for the long haul?

    2. Admin of Sys*

      I mean, the point of salary is to be able to leave early if your work is done. So most salaried workers should get the flex time to leave when tasks are done, to balance when they can’t leave because tasks aren’t done, even if it’s past the 5p cut off. But if you’re hourly, then you’re being paid for the time you are at work.
      That said, there are almost always work related things that can be done. I think having down time for chitchat and distractions at work is critical, and if corp culture is to have everyone delay that ’till the last hour of work, that’s fine. But if it’s more of a ‘nothing to do, lets play candycrush’ then that’s a failure of imagination. There are almost certainly work related journals to read, or things to study, or youtube clips about how to use excel better, or email backlogs to file. If half the office has nothing to do for 45 minutes, grab a 30 minute long class on good powerpoint techniques and host an impromptu learning session in a conference room. There’s almost always /something/ to do that’s not ‘wasting time until you can go home. ‘

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      Every job I’ve been at, ever.

      I usually take over all the crap no one else wants to do – because they’re inefficient as all get out – automate said task, then efficiency myself right out of a job.

      It’s annoying.

    4. Chronic Overthinker*

      I have a butt in seat type of job. If/when the phone rings, I need to answer it. If I’m not there to answer it, that’s not a good sign. And if it isn’t ringing, I still need to be here in case it does. Are you sure there’s nothing you could be doing productivity-wise? You could learn a new skill related to the job, do some tedious back-burner stuff that has been put off, do some much needed filing, clean your office space, or even create a list of things to be done if you got hit by a bus tomorrow.

      I do admit there are times where I don’t have much to do so I set up appointments for the rest of the week, get my shopping list in order et cetera, or even do some minor online browsing/gaming. For me, (and my boss) as long as it doesn’t interfere with productivity, have at it. However, if you’re salaried and you don’t have any additional commitments that day, get your work done and go home.

    5. Entry Level Marcus*

      I don’t know your particular role, but for a lot of office jobs part of what you’re being paid for is being available to your team/manager during normal business hours. In some roles this can be done remotely, but in others not so much.

      I share some of your frustration, though. I’ve never had a job that consistent had 8 hours of work for me every day. I think part of it is that our work norms developed around workplaces like factories and mines where being present for 8 hours really mattered. But now, even in the white collar world, the norm that you’re at work for 8 hours has stuck.

      1. KR*

        This is what I’m thinking. Sometimes I’m done with work before my 8hrs is up or don’t have anything else I can do until x and y is approved or whatever, but I’m paid to be available to my team in case they need me even if it’s 10 mins before I leave.

      2. Mr. Shark*

        I think your first point is right now. It may be that you are sitting there at 2pm thinking you are done for the day, but what if someone needs something at 2:30 and you’re not around? You are being paid to be available and be present if needed, even if you manage to finish your work for the day.
        My work seems like it ebbs and flows. Sometimes I’ll be really busy on a project and wonder how I’m going to ever finish on time, and others I’ll think once I finish this project, what am I going to do for 8 hours a day. But something always comes up.
        I think of the flexibility of being exempt is more that if you need to leave early one day for an appointment, or come in late because the car wouldn’t start, you don’t get docked your time. Not necessarily that you can just leave early because you finished all your tasks.

    6. NaoNao*

      I think it’s totally ridiculous myself, it’s very much a hold-over from days of the wired/landline phones, and papers and needing to be in the physical office until 5 or later.

      However, I think the real reason is that if everyone went to a “productivity is the only metric” we’d see a bunch of unintended consequences:

      1) people would be working more hours, not fewer, as they’d be expected to be the MOST productive possible

      2) People would be leaving at 12PM every day or even earlier and it would be a race to the bottom to complete as little work as possible before calling it good

      3) Meetings and other collaborative work would be very hard to schedule as most of the office would be empty at random and off-aligned schedules

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Holdover from history when people worked manual labor.

        My friend experiences #1. Her job is metrics-based – clear, regimented and well designed metrics from what she say, but she ends up working more than 8 hours a good number of days. She does have flexibility to take her kids to and from school but she also works later on those days because of the time “missed” during to day to reach her metrics goal.

        But also #2. Some folks are dedicated and others are not. The management fear that most of the masses are not dedicated and would do as little work as possible to leave as early as possible so they require butts in seats.

    7. Impska*

      As a boss, I have plenty of minor tasks that I could assign to someone if I knew they had an extra 45 minutes a day available. Often these tasks are necessary, but of low priority, so I’m not going to dump them on someone’s schedule if they don’t have time. They’re just lurking there waiting for someone to tell me, “I ran out of work and have some free time.”

      Of course, you don’t want to tell me that. You want to leave early as a reward for not pretending to be busy. I get it. It seems like you’d be punished for admitting you have time available. But actually, if everyone told me they had 45 extra minutes, I would actually have no extra tasks available and would be able to send you home early.

      It’s the Prisoner’s Dilemma. If you admit you have time, but no one else does, then only you get stuck with extra work while everyone else just plays around. If no one admits they have time, everyone has to stay until 5. If everyone admits they have time, we run out of work to assign and you go home early. Of course, there is also a risk that we never run out of work, and everyone ends up giving up their play time and still have to stay until 5.

    8. Retail not Retail*

      My job is hourly but we have the clock rounding version of this problem. We can’t work up until the exact hour – we need to return tools and vehicles and get to the time clock building. We also have to finish our task and clean up etc etc – we definitely get back to our staging area by :45.

      But we have to wait around the breakroom or outside until :00. Sometimes our boss is already gone!

      What makes this harder is in the morning, we’re expected to clock in as soon as :53. I will rebel some days and clock in at :55.

    9. Grumpy Kat*

      This has been the biggest issue with my new job. (Background: I’m non-exempt/hourly, and this is my first office job). Adjusting to an office job when I’ve come from more flexible workplaces (research) has been tough. I’ll also admit that a majority of this is because of my manager. My manager is deadset on me working 8-5 every day with no flexibility. So most of the time I’m sitting there twiddling my thumbs, wishing I could just use my lunch break to go home, and avoid spending an hour in traffic. (And skipping lunch completely to leave early is not an option).

      I’m so bored at work because I’m forced to be here during that full time that I completed our entire professional development catalog in 2 months. There’s no possibility of taking on new projects because my manager is such a control freak that she refuses to give us any of her duties, even though she’s stressed out right now with her new project from the higher ups. I’m so bored at work I’ll even spend my work from home day looking for new jobs and studying and let my email and calls pile up, just so I’ll have something to do when I come into the office.

  41. Heffalump*

    Some years ago my then manager was telling me about some of the people who’d had my job before me. He said one guy in particular had the faults of youth: If he had a fight with his girlfriend, it would affect the quality of his work for a couple of days.

    This got me thinking about what my faults of youth had been, and I came up with: 1) expecting to have things my way, and 2) expecting the employer to take away workplace frustrations.

    So … what were your faults of youth in the workplace?

      1. P. Beesley*

        Guilty of this.

        Also learned the hard way that my coworkers are not my friends. Just because you spend most of the day together, you get happy hours together, and talk about personal things, does not mean they are your friends and you can count on them to have your back. At the end of the day, everyone is friendly to everyone because they have to be.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      1. Expecting my manager to magically know when I was having trouble with something.
      2. Thinking that new tasks could be added to my list without displacing anything already on my list.
      3. Assuming I was there to help, but that the *real* responsibility was for the grown-ups.

      And one that I don’t think I was guilty of, but which I see all the time now: assuming that it’s your manager’s job to serve as your external memory bank, instead of taking notes and internalizing information.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      I thought that I should be privy to all information. If I was given a task to do, I thought I should be given the whole 10 year history of the project when all I needed to do was make copies. If someone moved between departments, I thought I deserved to know why. When rumors of downsizing surfaced, I thought my manager was a big jerk for not telling everyone that it was in the works…even though there were no decisions made.
      It took a while to understand that there is a hierarchy of people and information in organizations. And my job is to just do my job.

    3. Jellyfish*

      Not realizing that coworkers aren’t friends, no matter how friendly they might be. That was a rough lesson.

      1. P. Beesley*

        This was the toughest lesson. I currently working in my first office job with coworkers who are all older than me by 5-7 years (I’m 25), and it’s been tough. My previous jobs were with people my age because they were jobs I held in college, and right out of college. We all had each other’s backs and worked as a team. I can’t say the same thing about my coworkers here. This place is cliquish, and my coworkers are catty.

    4. Leslie Knope*

      Also kind of in-line with treating coworkers as friends. I have a sarcastic sense of humor and a big common trait of my friends is that we all speak in sarcasm, wit, and give each other a hard time. Not that we’re constantly trying to out-smart or out-wit each other, we just all have a tendency to feed off one another and have fun. I like hanging out with the friends who challenge my mind!

      I made the mistake of thinking a coworker could understand that sarcastic sense of humor. I hurt her feelings without realizing it, our manager said something to me in my review. He didn’t get onto me or anything, just told me that not everyone can keep up. Since then I’ve tried to maintain a fun sense of humor at work, but leave sarcasm mostly for social settings.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Ooo, I’ve seen lots of problems when newbees bring in their private sense of humor. Yeah, all their friends watch South Park and Sunny in Philadelphia and they all crack jokes in that style and everyone laughs, but the whole world isn’t like that. It can be hard to realize that those jokes are bad, bad, bad in the workplace.

      2. Stornry*

        oh, me too! I have what I call a “dry” sense of humor that is often taken as sarcasm and have inadvertently offended someone more than once. I’ve used that as an example to all new hires when I talk about interpersonal skills and tell them if you have a problem with someone or something they said or did, to bring it up rather than stew – most likely it was unintentional but they won’t know it bothered you if you don’t tell them. Then if they do it again, that’s the time to tell someone higher up in the food chain.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        YUP. Embarrassing, but an important lesson I learned early on when my supervisor called me on my less than professional reaction to feedback.

    5. Bernice Clifton*

      Thinking that if I wasn’t specifically told No than it must be okay, and that if you are the *only one* at your workplace doing something, like for example listening to music at your desk or not using the IM program for urgent things, you are going to look out of step with everyone.

    6. Holy Moley*

      I didn’t know two weeks notice was a thing. Went in to my first job and said it was my last day. Didn’t understand why my boss was angry. Ahh youth!

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        Similar experience: I had no concept of how much effort goes into hiring. Didn’t understand why my boss was upset when I left a job after about a month. There was nothing particularly wrong with the job, I was just never planning on staying any longer than that.

    7. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I expected The Rules to be followed at work. I ended up in a ton of workplaces where we had to work off the clock, handle chemicals without safety equipment, deal with being harassed and threatened with no recourse, go hours and hours without so much as a bathroom break, violate all sorts of labor and OSHA and safety codes.

      I spent a lot of time thinking I was too good to put up with this garbage. Well, I wasn’t. That’s the economy now. I should have put up and shut up.

      1. Mad Harry Crewe*

        I mean, I think those are all pretty reasonable standards to have, and I don’t think it’s childish to assume that your employer will follow the law with respect to your employment and safety. Your reality might have been that you had to put up with it (or still have to), but I think there’s an important difference between “this sucks and isn’t right, but I’ve reviewed my options and I’m stuck here right now” and “this is normal and all jobs are like this, it is foolish to imagine better things.”

    8. Pat Benetar's Cover Band*

      I suffered from the worst fault – telling coworkers about things other coworkers had said. Ie “supervisor seemed real mad on Tuesday that you didn’t do xxx”
      Funnily enough, it was a habit I had picked up at home, where no-one would directly address issues with each other, and we were to interpret emotions and needs based on unspoken requests.
      Learning the hard way (at work) that this is not how adults act, made me also recognize the disfunction of my family.

      1. Minimax*

        Omg me too!
        Then I would get in serious trouble and not understand why people were pissed I was helping.

    9. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      1. Laziness. PFC von Klinkerhoffen
      did the bare minimum to get the job done, and skipping anything skippable.

      2. Arrogance. Not recognising that senior people in an organisation typically got there because they have something you don’t (qualifications, experience, reputation, relationships, goodwill) so your opinion is not worth the same as theirs, and you don’t get to choose.

      Nowadays I take more pride in my work, and I know where my expertise does and doesn’t lie, and where my authority/standing does and doesn’t reach.

    10. Pennalynn Lott*

      Getting visibly agitated when someone would “interrupt” me to ask me to perform a task for them. I was an admin. It was my job to perform tasks that certain people asked me to do. But I’d gotten it in my head that I could plan my day a certain way and anything that changed the plan was an unnecessary annoyance. I didn’t want to have to shift gears or prioritize tasks. Which, um, was literally my job. ::facepalm::

      Also, that one IT job that I thought it was cool to bring beer to work, stash it in my desk, and start drinking at about 3:30 because I was so clever. My desk was in a huge IT supply room and I was the only one in there. That was also the job where I had the only key to a decent-sized storage room and I’d go in there and take naps throughout the day. It was back in the days of pagers and, as IT support, I spent large chunks of my day all over the building installing things and helping people so if someone needed me, they’d page me and I’d head their way. Simple enough, then, to stash a travel pillow in the storage room and sleep with the pager in my hand.

      I look back at my behavior in both of those jobs and cringe. What was I thinking?!?

    11. Chronic Overthinker*

      For me it was two things:
      1) expecting management to “hold my hand” through training/development. I’ve learned since then that the only person who is going to help you get ahead is YOU and you need to show management that you can move up/get promoted.

      2) expecting everyone else had the answers to questions. I’ve learned since then that you have to/need to do your own due diligence and research something before asking for help. If you’ve actually done your research and still haven’t found your answer, then that’s the time you can ask for assistance.

    12. Anon for this one*

      I openly chastised others for not being as committed as I was to education and learning and so on — and criticised them publicly (in front of the team) for having taken the easy way out the night before by watching “dead end tv program of the moment” rather than as I was studying for a degree.

    13. JobHunter*

      Thinking years in = competence. Working in academia for a while broke me of that.

      I had a chance to see a reflection of younger me in another young (early 20s) manager. He said to his older employee, “I have eight years of experience at llama yodeling, I think I know what I am doing.” I recalled my own conversations with older-than-me coworkers and cringed so hard my shoulders hurt.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Not thinking through project milestones & time lines so the time before a delivery was like finals week.
      And skirts that were too short. (In retrospect I am screamingly glad for the exec admin who pointed this out to mr. I ran across one in storage recently…and it looks perfect on my middleschooler. Oops.)

      1. Windchime*

        Oh dear lord. I was a grocery store checker in 1981 and my shift started at 4pm. Some how I thought it was an OK idea to smoke a lot of really good pot an hour or so before my shift. It was really, really hard to focus and hold it together. This was in the days before scanners, so you had to know all the codes for the produce, punch in all the prices, etc. Somehow I made it through my shift.

    15. Chaordic One*

      When I was younger I really found myself getting bored with doing the same thing over and over again. Looking back now, I realize that that was part of the job and if I had to do over I would cope with that aspect of the job better and accept it. Back then, and even to a degree today, I struggled with frustration with the lack of meaningful recognition (in terms of salary, especially) from the workplace.

      Several time I allowed myself to get caught up in some of the personal workplace drama that was going on and that was just stupid of me. I allowed myself to be one of the “mean girls” and I really regret that and would never do that again.

    16. CatMintCat*

      Thinking I could have some control over the direction of my career.

      I changed careers later into something where I did have some say in what happened to me.

    17. Mellow*

      I wish I’d been more patient with elderly people, and that I’d stood up for co-workers who were made fun of by other co-workers.

  42. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I’m transitioning to a new role within my organization. Any tips on how to be my best? It’ll still have a lot of the llama herding that I’m not good at in there, but hopefully more llama tabulating which I hope I can become good at

    1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

      Set clear, measurable goals with your (new?) manager. MAYBE communicate these goals to your (new?) team and those you would work with outside of your immediate team. Communicating to your team is NOT asking for their permission or feedback, it’s to keep them on the same page with you and your manager about what you will (and won’t) be accomplishing.

      If you get any pushback on your goals from your team, say in a warm tone, “NewManager and I discussed and set my goals, so we’re not looking to change them now. As I get settled into my new role, I’ll see if it’s something to NewManager about.”

  43. Now in the Job*

    I work in a corporation in a department with about 16 people, and it more or less can be divided two ways: licensed attorneys and staff; or by area of work. I am an attorney, and my area of work is such that I only work with other licensed attorneys ; I don’t ever work with the staff because they support a different part of the department.

    One of the staff members is someone I think I have a fair amount in common with. His wife, most definitely. They live near my husband and I, and I’m always down to meet new people who share our interests. But I have no idea whether it’s appropriate or not to try to strike up a friendship. We don’t work together, I don’t supervise him, and I don’t forsee it ever happening because of our specialties. His work is on the enforcement side, mine on the transaction side.

    Would it be OK to try to get together outside of work and meet his wife/hang out with them? Maybe get dinner at a restaurant not too far from where we live that’s related to our mutual interests? Or is that just Not Appropriate given the work status differences?

    1. Mid*

      I don’t really see how it would be inappropriate. I’m not sure about the status thing (though I work in the legal field and I know (from experience) that in some firms Lawyers Do Not Talk To The Admins) but if you don’t work together, and aren’t his supervisor, I’m not sure what kind of conflicts there could be.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If he’s relatively senior and in an unrelated department, I could see it.

      If he’s a paralegal or admin, this would be very much Not Done. If he reports to an attorney on the enforcement side, that would be awkward too.

      Of course, if you run into each other outside of work while pursuing your mutual interests, that would be a more natural opportunity to strike up a closer acquaintance.

  44. Myrin*

    Nudes at work! It’s not what you think!

    So as some of you might know, I work part-time as a shelf stocker at a drugstore, and half a year ago, my little sister, who is a retail professional, started working there as a regular, fulltime employee, meaning that, unlike myself, she not only gets to deal with stocking shelves but all the other fun retail stuff, too (and it really is fun to her most of the time, I’m not being sarcastic here).

    Part of that “stuff” is helping people with the… photo machines or photo stations, I guess? No idea what they’re called, neither in German nor English. You can connect your phone or USB or similar to them and can then print out your photos on fancy paper or add cutesy effects to them and what-have-you. And there’s basically always people who have some kind of problem there, whether that be something simple like “I don’t know how to connect my phone to this screen” or something more complicated like “it suddenly only shows satanic symbols and won’t let me move my feet”. And in such cases, they usually rope some hapless employee into it.

    And recently, my family was talking about a case where my sister was helping a particularly stubborn customer (who, as a total aside, is married to some famous old rich guy which we found out because my mum recognised the customer’s name and then googled the guy and my sister recognised the customer in the pictures she took with her rich old husband on the red carpet wtf) and she just told her story and then casually mentioned “… and then I had to scroll past all of her nudes first to finally get back to that original picture…” and I swiveled around and basically yelled “HER NUDES?!” in her face. And my sister just shrugged all nonchalantly and then.

    Well.

    Then I found out that this is apparently a regular occurrence and that a big part of the population apparently keeps nude selfies on their devices and they don’t even care about poor drugstore employees accidentally seeing them. What an astounding world we live in.

    1. Ada Lovelace*

      Yes, this is a thing. People just don’t think about it. My sister started working at Walgreens in the photo center at 17 and she was kept from interacting with certain customers because her lead and manager knew they had nudes on their phones/cameras. She also has stories about telling customers she can’t print nude children, even if they are yours. After she was promoted to lead, she called police on a customer because he had nude children in pictures to be printed. That one was actually child abuse.

      1. valentine*

        Is she not obliged to maintain confidentiality? Is it no big deal if they ask not to interact with nudes? Do they have minors interacting with these images?

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Just think of a time long ago when you had to drop off all your nudie pictures to be developed by some unsuspecting person. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case with your sister’s customer, but yeah.

      Photo clerk flipping through pictures to quality check: “picnic, cat, thumb covering something, nude, grandma’s birthday,..”

      1. eshrai*

        That was me they dropped their film off with. I worked in a one hour photo lab in the days of yore, when film was law of the land and digital was just being born. And yeah, we got some interesting photos. General rule was, we can print nudes as long as they weren’t “obscene” or “sexual” in nature. There was one role with a 40 year old hooker in nothing but chaps. Not too bad. We did have to call the cops on one set of photos. A teenage boy was developing nude photos of his 10 year old step-sister. The cops ended up letting it go though, made me sad that they didn’t at leas have CPS check into it.

        1. Anon for this*

          Are you in a position to know what the cops did or didn’t say to cps etc.? I work in a related field to this, and in certain situation sometimes people say, understandably, “oh the cops didn’t do anything” because the cops can’t and don’t provide feedback to a member of the public, even one who is a witness, about their decisions and actions when the privacy of another person is at stake. It would sound harsh to say “it’s not your business”, but what I mean is, it may be helpful to think that they probably did make a referral and talk to people about what could/should be done but they just didn’t tell you about it because why would they?

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      Ya seen one naked old guy, you’ve seen them all.

      As long as your sister doesn’t feel creeped on, good on her.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well that familiar…not the CPS issue, just the job. I ran a Fotomat booth one summer. (Nope, there’s no toilet in the back half of the building that’s just the electric & AC and enough cement to stop idiot drivers.)

    4. Mill Miker*

      I don’t get how people can be so nonchalant about that kind of stuff (as the customer, that is. I get developing a professional detachment).

      … also I think the english word is “Kiosk” if you’re looking for it.

    5. noahwynn*

      I mean, I’m not going to lie and say I don’t have any on my phone. However, I would be mortified if some random drugstore employee saw them.

      I work for an airline. When I was a gate agent, people would often screenshot their mobile boarding passes. As they’re swiping through them all for the entire family, sometimes they would go to wrong way and as agents we would see way more than we wanted to.

    6. Close Bracket*

      I work in a place where we have closed areas where no cameras and no phones are allowed. If you accidentally forget to take your camera phone out of your pocket before going in, you have to call security so they can go through it. We were cautioned during orientation not to keep anything pictures on our phones that we didn’t want security to see. I as all, O.o. This is the world we live in.

  45. ProductionGirl*

    Friends of AAM- tell me about your healthy work snacks! What do you keep on hand or in your desk that makes long days easier and keeps you from being hangry?

    1. rayray*

      I like baby carrots, Luna bars, and those Sargento snack packs – You could definitely make your own version of these, it’s just a snack pack with nuts, cheese, and craisins/dried fruit.

      I also like nutrition drinks. I get mine from Costco.

    2. Now in the Job*

      Wasa bread with almond butter
      Cheese sticks
      100 calorie pack of almonds
      Cheddar crackers and peanut butter
      and for the rough days? Girl scout cookies tucked in the back. XD

      The wasa bread is amazing though.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband has freeze-dried edamame and these “P3 protein pack” things? Each one has some kind of nuts or sunflower seeds, little niblets of beef/ham/turkey jerky, and either cheese or a different nut option. (The cheese kind are in the deli cooler section of the grocery store, by like Lunchables and such, but the ones with two kinds of nuts/seeds are shelf-stable and in the aisle with nuts and trail mix.) He’s also in the past kept various types of trail mix and roasted nuts in his desk.

      For more-than-just-snacks, he also keeps single-serve cups of instant rice, foil packets of cooked chicken (like tuna fish, but, you know, bok bok), heat-and-eat quick lunch options, so if he forgets to pack his lunch, he’ll nuke a quick packet of chickpea masala, mix in a packet of the chicken and a cup of rice and call it good.

    4. Peaches*

      Nearly every Sunday, I make a batch of peanut butter dark chocolate chip protein balls for the week, and I bring two to work each day Monday-Friday. They are filling, delicious, and not terribly unhealthy. They are also low FODMAP for those of you with sensitive stomachs like myself. :) If anyone is interested:

      1/2 c. steel cut oats
      1/2 c. peanut butter
      1/4 c. 100% maple syrup
      1 tsp ground cinammon
      1/4 tsp sea salt
      2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
      1 tsp flax seed (optional)

      Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Stir all ingredients together in a bull (optional: mix all ingredients in food processor if you want the dark chocolate chips pulverized – I prefer them whole, though!) Using wet hands, form the mixture into 1 inch wide balls and place on baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour so they firm up. Store in an airtighter contrainer in refrigerator for up to a week.

      1. LunaMei*

        That sounds amazing! I’m going to make some of these this weekend. I definitely need something like that, because I always get really hungry in the afternoon and succumb to the lure of the vending machine.

      2. Peaches*

        Ha! I just realized I typed “bull” instead of “bowl” (weird, I don’t ever even use the word ‘bull’!) I’m embarrassed, guys.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I figured you were typing in Southern. ;)

          My bestie is from NC and the number of times, when we were still roommates, that accents confused conversations … and the word “bowl” was a common one!

      3. Jen in Oregon*

        Am I correct in assuming that that is 1/2 cup of *cooked* steel cut oats? Or is it 1/2 cup steel oats, cooked? I imagine e that uncooked steel cut oats would still be hard as a rock, even with the maple syrup and peanut butter…..am I wrong?? Otherwise, these sound delicious!

    5. SomebodyElse*

      Big bag of almonds
      granola bars
      small bags of cheez its
      small bag of chocolate
      licorice
      beef jerky
      and assorted experiments in finding something chewy, citrusy, lower calorie, and fruity. My newest find that tics all the boxes is veggie go’s strawberry, chia seeds, and beets. Kind of like bits of a fruit rollup

    6. LunaMei*

      I keep a can of mixed nuts. I like the pistachio mixes – right now I’m eating Plantar’s Pistachio mix with cashews, pistachios, and almonds.

    7. ThatGirl*

      100-calorie packs of nuts, sometimes FiberOne-style granola/protein bars (but not the hipster low-carb protein bars which usually are disgusting), a little chocolate, and I bring Sargento snack packs for my 2 pm slump.

    8. CatCat*

      I have started taking a bag of mixed veggies with me each day so I can have variety in veggies. The bag has: 1-2 cauliflower florets, 1-2 radishes, 6-8 baby carrots, and 8-10 sugar snap peas. This has been helping not find veggies boring. Sometimes I take hummus or a yogurt dip for them.

      I also keep apples, pears, and bananas at my desk. String cheese and hardboiled eggs in a mini fridge. I’ve been trying to pair a fruit with something with protein when I snack.

    9. Lyudie*

      Almonds. I’m obsessed with the Blue Diamond wasabi and soy sauce flavored ones. The dark chocolate ones are also good.

    10. urban teacher*

      Can’t keep anything in my drawers due to mice.Can’t keep anything in refrigerator because students will steal it. I need to figure out what to keep in my car that I can eat on way to tutor.

    11. Kathenus*

      Cut up veggies and hummus, since we have a fridge. I have a bowl of them available at all times to stop me from snacking on other stuff in the afternoon because I get a real craving for salty/crunchy food in the late afternoon.

    12. Rexasaurus Tea*

      There is a new kind of apple called Rockit that’s about the size of a mandarin orange, and I’ve been bringing in a couple of those every day. I love that they are small enough to eat when I only have a couple minutes between meetings.

    13. Teach*

      Freeze-dried fruit! Trader Joe’s has a good variety and the flavors are intense which somehow helps my snacking urges.
      I also keep shelf-stable PB cracker packages in my desk for students, plus a Costco sized box of single-serve fruit snacks. Most secondary students are delighted if you chuck a little bag of fruit snacks their way. Yes, even 18-year olds.

    14. Hamburke*

      I have a bag of low salt roasted almonds in my desk. I also bring cut fruit that I can snack on. I do focus on having a good lunch though – usually leftovers (veggies & entree)

  46. LTL*

    On an unrelated note, I had an interesting question on raises and quitting.

    My company officially implements raises on March 1, retroactive to the beginning of the year. Performance reviews are this month and that’s when we figure out what our raise is. If I hand in my resignation this month, is it poor form for me to ask if I’ll still get my raise retroactive to 1/1? (Assuming my last day is after 3/1.) Can I push back if they say no? If I happen to give notice before my performance review, should I broach the subject of my raise with my manager, to make sure I get paid back what I was owed from January to current?

    1. Steve*

      Retroactive raises can probably be thought of as similar to a bonus.
      Most (but not all) employers I’ve had, have not paid bonuses out to employees who leave before the pay date, even if they were employed the entire bonus determination period. (e.g. if the bonus is for calendar year 2019 but paid on march 1st).

      Bonuses are a retention tool. If an employee has already left, or is leaving, they can no longer be retained so there’s no point giving them money. I have no idea legally what would happen if an employee gave their two week notice after they were told the amount of their bonus but before it was paid out. Does informing them of the amount make it a contract that then has to be honored? Or is that overridden by the clause in the original employment contract / employee handbook / whatever that states that bonuses are only paid to current employees? Can the employer terminate the employee immediately? It’s not like “handed in resignation” is a protected class.

      Can you just wait until march 1st to hand in your resignation? That’s what I’ve seen a lot of people do.

      1. CupcakeCounter*

        My thoughts as well (wait to resign until after 3/1) except I would wait until that $$ has hit your bank account.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      I just encountered the same thing, but with an annual bonus. For me, it worked out because I told the new company how much money I would be missing out on if I didn’t stay with Old Company through March 19 (the bonus payout date) and they added that amount to my base salary. I’ll still be getting the “bonus”, but now it’s spread out over 12 months. (And the next 12 months, and the next, and so on).

  47. Jan Levinson*

    This may be a trivial complaint, but my cube made whistles through her nose ALL. THE. TIME.

    It’s all the time, not a temporary thing that could be blamed on sickness/congestion. It seems petty to bring it up, but it can be distracting when it happens all day, every day. Is this not something she can control? Am I being absurd to fault her for this?

    1. rayray*

      I had a coworker who was always doing this whistly thing. It was MADDENING. I suspected it could have possible been a form of tourettes or OCD maybe, but man it really could fill me with rage.

      If she’s whistling through her nose, it might not be under her control. Could be allergies, deviated septum, or congestion. If you can listen to music or podcasts through headphones, that might help.

      1. Jan Levinson*

        Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to wear headphones. I was just reading that a deviated septum could cause this, so you might be right! Thanks for your sympathies :)

        1. rayray*

          I get it. It’s frustrating. Maybe if it’s happening, you could try tapping your desk or something and focus on those sounds, or if there’s noise from a computer or printer, try to really shift your focus to that sound. It probably sounds stupid, but it could help.

    2. SL*

      This is the worst! The person who sits next to me does this when she’s angry about something. Just sits there and works herself into a silent rage that has her breathing heavy like she’s a bull about to charge.

      And yeah, I don’t know what to do about it except leave our shared space. I feel like telling her she’s breathing too loud is going to make me sound like the crazy person.

    3. Grumpy Kat*

      I have a boss who TALKS TO HERSELF ALL THE TIME. And when she talks to herself it’s all complaints. One time, she was complaining about my coworker under her breath, and he yelled from 3 cubes down, “I CAN HEAR YOU!”
      In my first few months in my job, it gave me so much anxiety hearing her talk to herself thinking she was talking about me. Then I put headphones in and said f*** it.

    4. Quandong*

      I’ve known more than one person who also made whistling sounds when breathing through their nose all the time. It was due to the formation of their septum, and they could not control it. I would consider it a medical condition.

      I’m really sorry you are seated with this cube mate. You may be better off to reframe the sound from something she is purposely doing or refusing to control, to a sound she cannot control.

      Do you have the option to request a seat change? What would you usually do if your cube mate was causing strain e.g. wearing perfume/cologne when you have allergies, constantly humming etc?

      1. Quandong*

        I realise I grouped involuntary sounds from your cubemate with different types of irritation that can be controlled, sorry!

    5. Sleve McDichael*

      My Dad’s nose used to whistle quietly all the time. It was a combination of allergies and a broken nose as a teen. He had surgery to fix it, but I imagine not everyone can. I doubt it’s something your cube mate can control, unfortunately. My sympathies for your frustration!

    6. Not the Famous Actress*

      I have a slight whistle when I breathe, and I know about it but I can’t do anything about it (thanks congenital birth defect). My husband thankfully thinks it’s cute “because it’s me”, and my classroom is rarely quiet enough for my students to hear it, but I know it’s annoying. My sympathies go out to you but she may not be able to control it!

  48. Sally Sparrow*

    My boss (who is amazing) has told me now that I need to stop apologizing. I do get where she is coming from. But I don’t know how to necessarily put this into practice. Basically I apologize whenever I feel like I’ve made a mistake and when I have to ask a question or ask for help in situations where I feel like I should know the answer. On the question/help front it is most evident because she is extremely busy and I don’t like adding back to her workload by needing her time and help. I do know I need to apologize less, and I’ve actually been working on this personally, but I don’t really know where to go from here.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      She is your boss. Helping you is her job, and if she has a problem with it, she will tell you. Well, she SHOULD tell you, but it does sound like she’s the type of person who would tell you. So you definitely should curb your apologies when asking her questions.

      First, try to listen to yourself when you speak, and if you find yourself apologizing, stop and start over. Your boss knows this is a habit you’re trying to break, so that will feel a little weird at first, but I think she will appreciate it rather than get annoyed. Second, if you’ve made a mistake, BEFORE you tell her about it, write it down and write down the solution. So instead of, “I’m sorry, I did this incorrectly,” you can turn it into, “I realized this was wrong so I changed it by doing X” or “I realized this was wrong and that’s my mistake, so I will do Y and Z to fix it.”

      1. Sally Sparrow*

        I think reframing it in my head as that is her job is a huge thing (for me) and that my asking a question isn’t adding to her workload. Thanks!

    2. Enough*

      If you are saying I’m sorry but can you answer this question try rephrasing to Do you have time to answer a question or I’m not clear on something can you help me.

    3. CTT*

      If you preemptively apologize, it draws attention to something that may not even be a mistake. I had a boss tell me this when I was sending out documents and said a few times “apologies for the delay in producing this” when there was no real deadline, just things moving very quickly; and she said “you should stop apologizing because it creates the impression that we are behind.” In this case, she might not be annoyed by the questions until you draw attention to them by apologizing. I think you need to redefine what is worthy of an apology; asking questions is part of the job and you shouldn’t preface them like they’re a grave error.

    4. MM55*

      Find a new mantra and practice it. Maybe something along the lines of “I’d appreciate your help with this. Here is what I am working on, and I need your input” And then immediately describe the work you did and the help you need. Apologizing comes across as insincere or insecure, and I find it annoying too. Unless you truly made a mistake and are owning it.

    5. fposte*

      It sounds like it might be helpful to practice! Try it on your own or with family/friends and work on non-apologetic scripts. “Boss, do have a moment for some questions about the report?” “Boss, could you give me some feedback on the spreadsheet?”

      And think about what you feel like you’re looking for from the other person with an apology. Often an apology is a way of saying “Don’t hold this against me”–is that you? Because in practice that doesn’t work very well. If you ask for help without an apology, what do you feel like might happen?

    6. Fiona*

      Will it help if you reframe it in your mind has now Part Of Your Job? As in, your boss needs you to stop doing doing X. If you keep doing it, you’re not doing your job well. I struggle with this too, but if you are able to retrain yourself, it will also be amazing how much your self-esteem and self-empowerment grows. People respect when others are straightforward, competent, and take responsibility. They are actually UNCOMFORTABLE when faced with constant over-apologizing.

    7. SomebodyElse*

      I’ve coached employees on this before. Here’s why (and I explain it while talking to the employee about it).

      First, it undermines your credibility. If you are apologizing excessively you are telling your coworkers, boss, clients that you did something wrong. It puts you on a lower footing than everyone around you.
      Second, it assigns blame or fault to you in situations where there shouldn’t be blame or fault. Having to ask a question in most cases means you lack information. That isn’t your fault, it’s you gathering information you need to do your job.
      Third, (and this one may be a little petty… but still important) It’s really annoying for people to be constantly apologizing all the time. it adds an emotional transaction to things that don’t need it.

      Your boss is there to do the things that you need from her. Yes she may be busy, but you aren’t adding to her workload, you are part of her workload to begin with.

      As to how to stop this, I think you should try to focus on the words you are saying first. I’m guessing this has become somewhat of a tic for you that you don’t realize you are doing it. So, with any behavior change the keys are to first identify it, then consciously focus on eliminating it.

      1. Sally Sparrow*

        Thanks! Honestly your third point is a big one (and why I was always try to limit my apologies before as well, just not enough obviously). Because I’m basically creating a feedback loop for myself where I don’t want to be annoying so I apologize, but then I apologize and I’m being annoying, and yeah….

    8. Lisa M*

      It’s difficult if you’re that sort of person and honestly – it’s NOT. big deal. Be yourself, try if you can but don’t feel bad about it.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I hsve to dissgree. Her manager has told her to do this differently. So at this job at least, she needs to find a way to make the change.

    9. The Ginger Ginger*

      I had to work on this as well – and generally not softening my requests. As a first step – for specific instances where I felt I was interrupting, I started by replacing apologetic phrasing with “when you have a chance”, so it was clear I was not trying to interrupt but I did need something. It helped me by still being soft, so I didn’t feel like I went from 0-60, but cut out the apology.
      So “Sorry to interrupt, but I have a question on this presentation” becomes, “When you have a chance, I have a question on this presentation”.

      From there, I got more comfortable with pulling that softening language back more. So it’s more “I have a question on this presentation; do you have time now?”

      You don’t have to go all the way in the first leap. Get comfortable without the apology and grow it from there.

    10. Left Foot Wrong Shoe*

      Sorry can become a placemark or substitution for other words. “Excuse me, do you have a minute” becomes “Sorry, do you have a minute”
      Make sure you are not substituting Sorry for Excuse or Pardon.
      Tone can also make a difference. “Do you have a minute? I’d like to ask you about xx” can come across differently depending on tone – a wheedling tone, an abrupt bark, a trembling whisper, a matter-of-fact direct tone.

    11. Jules the 3rd*

      Any chance you can reframe it as ‘thanks for answering my question’ instead of ‘sorry for asking’?

      1. Sleve McDichael*

        This. I’ve been working on replacing my sorrys with thank yous where appropriate and while it takes a bit of mental effort, it’s easier to just change your default than try and work through the psychology behind it. It’s an easy quick fix.

    12. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      This is very dependent on your role and her role – as to how much it could be expected that you’d be “autonomous” vs needed to ask questions or ask for help in many situations. Are you in a generally ‘independent’ role or not really?

    13. RagingADHD*

      Going from over-apologies to none can feel rude or brusque, but there are other polite things to say.

      If you are approaching her and might be interrupting, say “Excuse me” intead of “Sorry.”

      For help or answers, say please and thank you.

  49. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Just a general gripe but man, it’s obnoxious when someone asks me to get price quotes for specific things [that they want, for whatever they want for] and sales reps want to “chat about it” for an up-sell.

    Do you think that “I’m actually just procuring these items for another colleague, we want these items only and do not wish to discuss any further options at this time.” sounds pissy? Our systems administrator wants these devices and this software, no I don’t know the specifics nor do I actually care that much. *hard sigh* If anyone has a better script to shoo off the sniffed out hard-upsell, please do share!

    I’m already bracing for the upsell to someone’s “premium rewards program!” that I’m fully aware of and it doens’t fit our business needs at all. That one, I’m not too worried about being nice about because I know they’re hardasses and I fight hardass with hardass. But the general “I don’t know you, I don’t know if you’ll take a clear “no” for an answer or if you keep digging.

    Ef your “just a 10 minute phone call” stuff. Or “Can I drop by with a catalog.” I want zero catalogs! I just want the stuff I know I need *sobs* Sales folks are hard AF workers and I know it’s a tough game but man…some of the techniques that are still going around makes my skin crawl and temper flare.

    1. Murphy*

      I think what you’ve suggested is fine. I’d lean hard into letting them know that it’s not your call and you’re not the decision maker, e.g. “Oh, I won’t be using it personally” “This item is the only one I’m authorized to research at this time.”

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Oh I like the “this item is the only one I’m authorized to research” line. Filing that away!

    2. Ranon*

      The product literature stuff I just say “we just moved offices after 35 years so we’re trying to limit our physical copies of things” which most reps are super nice about. Calls I say “I don’t have a call but if you have a digital copy of your catalog you can email it or if it’s on your website I can find it there” and then I keep or delete depending on how much I care.

      For the rest of it “I’m doing this for someone else and they don’t want any changes” like your script sounds just great to me

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m dreading moving because it means Uline is going to start their dreadful catalog bombs again…

        I once had an entire mail box full of them, with names of people who have never existed [yes I have read enough old rosters that I know these people don’t exist, where do they even get these names from half the time].

        But I like this wording as well for catalogs. I have a secure access building, I literally tell sales people we don’t take sales calls from unauthorized vendors. I feel like such a bridgetroll but at the same time, we have a huge “no solicitations” sign, so.

        I do go with the “We prefer digital, it’s all on your website that’s perfect!” route [looking directly in your collective eyeballs, Uline…]

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I hate Uline. They have a site 42 miles south of my city and always have lots of job listings that pollute my searches.

          Why don’t I just limit my searches to ten miles from my city, you ask?

          I. Do.

          But they lie on the job listings somehow and then add a note (“South of City”) as if that makes everything OK.

          So now I have to go super advanced in a search and exclude them by name.

          (It’s not just the geography – the owners of the company are big donors to the current president and I would have to be starving to take a job there. And I would have to drive 84 miles round trip every day, so – why do they think this is OK?)

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            PREACH all this. I hate them too on a personal level. I have tried my hardest to get rid of them and thankfully we’re small enough and don’t use basic sized boxes, so they get very few dollars.

            My favorite was when we got literature about the devil’s lettuce since their homestate of Illinois were working on legalization. We all went screaming about it because we’re a rec state for many years now.

            Thankfully they’re also just too stupidly expensive unless you’re a big spender. They even quoted us stuff but refuse to take away their BS shipping costs, so since I’ve been in this new position, I’ve systematically removed them from more and more things. I literally can just get things cheaper on random websites and Home Depot.

            I’m sorry they’re cluttering up your search.

    3. MissBliss*

      I often say that I’m only responsible for purchasing and these items have already been approved, or that they can send me information that I will pass along to the decision maker [insert “but this purchase has already been approved and we’re on a deadline” if they’re really pushy]. I lean hard on “above my pay grade.” I think your script is fine.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Thank you!

        I think part of my issue here is that this is one of the few times I’m seriously in this “procurement only” role. On a normal day, I do have the authority and I do take sales pitches and pick vendors/products and all that jazz. But not today, not with this project because I’m just looking at item numbers our administrator sent and was like “Price check if you want but these are the prices I have for my vendor here.”

    4. Dr. Anonymous*

      “I don’t want to waste your time. My colleague was very clear about what they want today.”

    5. Gumby*

      I will trade you for a potential customer who wants to “partner with us” on a “really exciting project” (it legit is, actually, except…) by which he means “give us a price break on the thingy we want to buy.” No, I am sorry, I know it is expensive. You are welcome to try to build your own thingy. It will take you at least a month and it might very well work. Or you can buy one and have it in a week. But we cannot sell it at a loss just because your project is exciting.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        We’ve had this kind of thing before, yuck.

        We sell materials so yeah, “you want in on this deal?!” and some want us to pay them for reviews…

        The most we do is sometimes if they’re doing something awesome, we will give them a break for marketing pics but really, that’s so few and far between and rarely something they bring up themselves but something we offer in return for the rights to use it as an example.

    6. Impska*

      I’m the decision maker about any major purchase in my office. I don’t spare the sale’s rep’s feelings. I just say “I don’t have time for a 10 minute call, I want XYZ. Email the quote to EMAIL.” “You can send me a catalog if you want, but I will put it in the garbage. I don’t have room for that.”

      Sometimes they don’t take no for an answer, and it’s hard to get them to deviate. That’s when I interrupt them and say “I have 5 minutes until my next appointment, at