boss asked me for solutions to awful morale, using a personal cell phone for work, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. My boss asked me to create a list of solutions to awful morale

I genuinely like the work that I do. It’s an important service and I feel good about my work. But the company itself and the people I work with are incredibly disorganized, with terrible communication between departments, staff with absolutely no defined duties or roles, pretty obvious favoritism, no consequences for bad behavior, etc. You name it, we got it. Obviously all of that has led to terrible morale in the department where I work, which is made up of about 12 people in our quite small company (20-some folks overall). But the department is largely made up of young people, fresh from school, who have poor understanding of appropriate work boundaries and expectations, and so either a) don’t recognize that these things are atypical for many workplaces or b) feel nervous or unable to speak up about things they’re not happy with. I’m not in any supervisory role so it’s not like I have any authority over the department or my work peers.

We’re deemed “essential” so we’ve been working through the pandemic out of the office and I recently hit the point of no return with the company. I started looking for other work and, on a whim, applied for school. I was accepted to my program, but seeing that I do really like the work itself, I decided to give my boss a heads-up and see what she thought.

The conversation went well, she took the news very graciously (I haven’t resigned but she knows I’ve been accepted to school), but at the end, she asked me to draft up a list of proposed solutions to the problems I’d identified. I understand that’s a normal thing for a manager to ask, but I’m honestly not sure how to draft up a list when, in my mind, the problems are almost foundational and very hard to identify through concrete examples. Is this a case where I should cut my losses and go, or is there any hope for change? I know I’m not the only unhappy person looking to leave and I would happily stay on if the work culture improves, but it’s not the kind of thing where they can just throw out a bowl of fruit in the kitchen and solve the problem. Is there any real chance of constructively framing “everything is terrible and we all feel like garbage”?

Cut your losses and go. Or at least, don’t stay in the hopes that the culture will improve, and don’t spend your time drawing up a list of solutions to deeply rooted management and culture problems. That kind of change needs to come from the top, and it will only happen if top-level management is deeply bought into the need for it.

Your manager asked for a list because it lets her feel she’s being responsive to your concerns, but frankly it’s BS. Coming up with solutions to problems like terrible communication, lack of clearly defined roles, lack of accountability, and favoritism is a higher-level management job, and the solutions you can offer aren’t things they couldn’t come up with on their own if they bothered to try. Believe me, they can come up with “have clear job descriptions” and “hold people accountable to goals” on their own. Asking you to do it is a way to deflect responsibility and keep you feeling like they might do something.

They’re not going to fix this stuff just because you asked. These problems are fundamental in a way that requires deep investment and hard work to fix.

Tell your boss you think the solutions need to be management ones, and stick to your plans to leave.

Read an update to this letter here

2. Re-emailing people to correct my own typos

This is very much a low-stakes question, and probably something that I can solve myself by just slowing down and re-reading my emails before I send them. That being said, if I send an email to someone (usually a coworker) with incorrect or missing information, or a typo, or some other mistake, is it okay to immediately reply with a correction? What if the correction has a mistake, too? I obviously need to work on proofreading my emails before I send them, but would like to know what I should do if I do this again.

Oh, I sympathize. I always want to write back and correct typos.

If you send an email with missing or incorrect info, yes, you need to write back and correct it. But if it’s just a typo … I’d let it go unless it truly will confuse the reader. I know that might be painful — those of us who want to correct our typos often find it excruciating not to — but it can get obnoxious to receive repeated corrections from someone. An occasional one is no big deal — but if that person regularly receives typo corrections from you, it’s going to be annoying, and they’re going to wonder why you don’t just proofread in the first place.

Speaking of which … am I right that the way you’re spotting these typos is by reading over your emails after you send them? If so, you need to rearrange the order you’re doing all this in: do the re-reading before you send, not after. (And if you’re finding corrections to your corrections, you are going way too fast and need to slow down. At that point, it’s much more likely to look careless.)

3. Using my personal cell phone for work calls while working from home

I work for a state agency and have been working from home since mid-March. While my position isn’t strictly “customer service,” I do routinely answer questions as part of my job because other agencies have to receive approval from us before they can undergo a certain routine process. I regularly field questions about how to fill out the form, how to list components, etc. Most queries come by email, but a handful come by phone. My work phone’s voicemail connects to my email, so I am still getting those voicemail messages at home.

My only option for calling them back is my personal cell phone, and I’m hesitant to do that. Most of my “regulars” are great, but there’s more than a handful who are pushy, disruptive to our processes, and don’t understand that their question is not necessarily a “respond in five minutes or else” priority for me. My colleagues and I are responsible for hundreds of state agencies and countless local agencies, and the Board of Registration for Cat Wranglers calling to circumvent the process can’t always be our priority, especially if there’s a crisis with the Department of Commerce. I am hesitant to give these contacts access to my personal number, since I can easily see them abusing it. “Oh, she hasn’t answered yet the email I sent an hour ago, and her desk phone is busy? Time to try this other number I have!”

I always respond, and suck it up and call when I have no other option. I’m good about responding to inquiries within a couple hours, but as I work from home, I find myself more and more turning to email to communicate things that I KNOW would be more easily accomplished over the phone, and would normally handle over the phone, just because I don’t want Pushy Patty to have my number. Is this reasonable? My coworker says that using your personal phone is just one of the tradeoffs of working from home, and I get (and reluctantly practice) that, but it doesn’t stop this persistent hesitance to offer my personal number.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want people having my personal cell number in that situation either. But you do have options! First, any chance your company would shell out for a work cell? If so, that’s the easiest way to handle this. If that’s not an option, why not get a Google Voice number and set it up to use for outgoing calls? That way, that number will be the one that shows rather than your personal cell number. And if anyone calls you back, you can set it so they’ll go to an electronic voicemail that you can check at your leisure (or where you could even have a message saying the number isn’t monitored for messages).

4. How much notice should I give that I’m moving in a year?

I have worked in the same office for about 15 years. This was my first “real” job out of college, and I have worked my way up to a fairly high level management position. My husband and I have decided to relocate to a different state to be closer to family, and expect to move in about a year. I expect it will take close to 3 months for the office to find a replacement for me. I also know that I will be leaving with a lot of institutional knowledge that others in the office do not have. How much notice should I give? I want to give everyone plenty of time for a smooth transition, but I don’t want to give notice too early in case something happens to change our plans.

You should give two weeks notice, which is the professional convention. Normally I would say that you could give more if (and only if) your boss has a track record of accommodating generous notice periods well and not pushing people out early, but right now — in a climate where so many companies have tight finances and are thinking about cuts — there’s too high a risk to you that you’ll be on a layoff list if they do need to make cuts, because they’ll figure you’re leaving anyway.

Also! The point of a notice period is not so they can find and hire your replacement before you leave. It would be very unusual for a typical notice period to be long enough for that to happen. A notice period is just to allow you to wrap up your work and answer any questions about it. That’s it.

So two weeks is fine. But as you get closer to your moving date, if you sense it would be safe to give three or four weeks, feel free to do that. But longer than that comes with too much risk to you right now, and most places won’t make great use of a longer period than that anyway (a longer period often just means they move more slowly on the transition).

5. Slow internet on video interviews

I’m job hunting and getting interviews, but video call quality is hurting me. My internet connection slows randomly during these interviews and make calls awkward. This in turn may make some people assume I’m not tech savvy or am doing something wrong.

Could you warn employers that video calls are rarely flawless and things may go smoother for interviewees without them? I’m concerned due to some recent glitchy interviews because of this.

They know! They know because they sometimes have the same glitches on their side, and they see other candidates have them too.

That said, you might get some peace of mind from saying at the start of the call, “My internet connection has been slowing down during some video calls, so preemptive apologies if that happens on this call — and I’d be happy to switch to the phone if it interferes too much.”

This is one of the reasons I don’t love video for interviews — it throws everyone’s rhythm off when there’s a slight delay throughout the conversation.

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. Atalanta0jess*

    OP3, I use *67 to block my number when I have to make work calls from a private phone. Some people do block those types of calls. Another workaround is to have someone in the office connect you, that may work, if anyone is there and wouldnt mind. Test it out first!

    1. Aphrodite*

      Yup, I have my cell phone number blocked. If I want to unblock it for a friend I know who won’t accept calls from “unknown or blocked numbers,” I have to start with *82 before I dial her number.

      We’ve been working at home since mid-March. While my job does not work with students I have to help deal with them, even if only referring them to others. I might call them–I never but never give out my personal number–if they send me via email their number, but I do warn them in advance that if the number they give me does not accept blocked calls then I cannot help them. I then include the email address of our admissions/records office.

      On a couple of rare occasions I have given my colleagues my number so we can chat about some problem that email might take too long to complete. But they are as careful with their phone numbers as I am.

      1. Aphrodite*

        I should note that I block my number from all outgoing calls. That requires me to individually unlock it. Others here do the reverse: keep it open except to block individual numbers.

    2. Emma*

      Yes, I came here to say this! Using a private or withheld number can be a problem if you’re calling individual clients on their personal numbers, but when all your clients are businesses and agencies I would expect them to be able to pick up an unknown number – that’s certainly been the case everywhere I’ve worked.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I write contracts for a large company, and while I’ll answer a call from 123-456-7890 that isn’t in my contact list, there’s no way I’m answering “Private” or “Blocked” which is how *67 comes across. If LW’s intention is to have a way to call people so she can efficiently deal with the problem on the phone, *67 could very well still be an obstacle to that.

        1. Venus*

          But if someone emailed to say “I will call you at 11am from a blocked number” or “in 5 minutes” then that might make it work.

          1. Atalanta0jess*

            Yeah, sometimes I call and leave a message saying that I will try them again later that day and that my number shows as private. That seems somewhat effective.

            1. Tabihabibi*

              Phones my vary, but I have the same work phone situation as Letter writer #3 and chose a setting on my phone to block my number in outbound calls. For my phone its under settings in the phone call “app.” I reply to both businesses and members of the public (including sone understandably upset public). People might ignore a private number call, but I don’t notice a real difference in the rate of pickups I get—-there are many reasons someone might not be able to answer in the moment (which also applies to strange phone numbers not marked private) and I leave a voicemail as one does. The only one who has remarked on the “private” is my mom. You also might not really want people getting confused with some additional number.

              My union contract stipulates you get $15/mo for use of a private cell. I’m not sure how that value was determined, but it goes surprisingly far to smooth out the details in my mind and those agreements might be worth looking into.

        2. Jojo*

          Since it is work calls one could get a gophone just for that and write it off taxes if company will not provide one.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I am a customer rep in my company and I would never answer a blocked or unknown number on my work phone.

        1. A*

          This is very dependent on the line of work, industry, etc. I’m in a global position and it’s not uncommon for international numbers to come up as ‘private’.

        2. Gumby*

          Agree. Judging by the blocked/unknown numbers that bother to leave messages on my work voicemail they are just as likely to be robocalls or spam as those on my personal number. Answering those calls would be a poor use of my time and attention at work.

          In fact, I sometimes won’t answer non-blocked numbers on my work phone. So, to the consulting agency that has left 3 voice mails and sent 2 emails in the last week: I am not going to answer your calls, ever, or respond to your emails, ever.

    3. MCL*

      I wonder if OP has access to VoIP without realizing, since her voicemail is connected to her email. We have Cisco VoIP at my public institution. I downloaded an app onto my work laptop and I make calls through it with a headset as if it were my office desk phone. There’s also a smartphone app, but I decided not to use that. If I make calls through the app it appears to people receiving the call that I’m using my work number. Contact IT to ask.

      But if that’s not the case, Alison’s suggestions are good!

      1. The Rural Juror*

        Came here to say the same thing. We use a VoIP system at work, which is super helpful when I’m out in the field often and can set the phone to forward to my cell. It’s also super handy to get the voicemails to email, so I can check them quickly from anywhere. Yay for technology!

        If that’s not what the OP has available, then the Google phone number is a good alternative.

      2. Indy Dem*

        We use Avaya, which allows us to do the same, with a headset, or have the calls routed to our cell phone, so we can pick up calls that way.

      3. Yes, Work-provided VoIP is Better*

        I’m also wondering what the setup is. A truly surprising number of phones are operating on VoIP at this point, though the organization’s setup may or may not actually lend itself well to redirecting where the call goes. Asking about this though feels like a dramatically more appropriate way to respond to this situation. At the very least, it’s perfectly normal right now for everyone to be spinning up IP-based telephony solutions as a temporary workaround so folks who need to use the phone from home can use *something*.

        Honestly, given #3 “work[s] for a state agency”, I was kind of surprised Google Voice *still* got a recommendation? Like, it’s legit in the Privacy Policy that Google collects “Voice and audio information when you use audio features”, and then Voice in particular collects additional call-specific information, and nobody reasonably expects a non-contracted Google service to get to intercept and collect everything while dealing with a state agency. Just because it’s an account with a password doesn’t mean the owner of the service can’t access your data (or, in this case, literally promise to access your data as ‘payment’ for the service).

        Going through something more legitimate like IT actually setting up a solution with the regularly provided phone service (which, if it’s VoIP, is still being contracted and not a completely unprotected personal account on some other service) definitely feels like a better approach to fix this for government work. If nothing else, IT can actually contract a service so everyone uses something appropriate and doesn’t leak data everywhere (inadvertently or otherwise).

        1. Glomarization, Esq.*

          Yes. Since LW#3 works for the government, they shouldn’t implement any solution without talking to their office IT first. There are almost certainly some sunshine laws, privacy issues that conflict with Google’s terms and conditions, and any number of other contracts and procurement rules in place to handle how LW#3 should proceed.

      4. Person of Interest*

        Yes, I was thinking the same. My old company had this kind of service and I used the smartphone app to make outgoing calls from my personal cell phone that would appear as if coming from my office phone number. I think you could also make calls from the laptop application too. Super helpful!

    4. RG*

      Came here to say exactly this! I used to work on a training team for a tech company where we started having data entry positions onboard virtually. We’d send new hires their equipment in the mail, but due to security concerns we couldn’t send them any of their credentials with the physical equipment or via a non-secure email. My co-trainers and I got roped into essentially being tech support and calling every new hire on their first day to dictate their login information, password, etc. to them over the phone. We were too low-level for our company to provide us desk phones, and the conference rooms (which had phones with blocked numbers) were notoriously difficult to book.

      It only took one day of fielding nonstop callbacks and after-hours texts from nervous new hires before we added *67 to our standard operating procedure.

    5. Similarly Situated*

      *67 is the answer. Yes, people may not answer, but you can leave a voicemail and direct them to email you. Problem solved. This won’t work for the few people who block unknown calls outright, but those people are relatively few and far between.

    6. JKP*

      Something I recently learned: when calling 800 numbers, they see your caller ID even if you block your number. I learned this the hard way when I called a bunch of places for price quotes and blocked my number so I wouldn’t get a bunch of followup sales calls, then received months of calls after and wondered how they got my real number. My boyfriend has a 800 number and we tested it by calling his 800 number from my blocked phone, and sure enough he could see my number.

    7. Don't call me, maybe.*

      My (government) office gave us some software to download to our phones for calling clients, it’s Verizon virtual dialer (or something like that). It shows up on people’s phone as a local number, but when people call that back they get a recorded message instructing them to call the the agency’s main information line.

    8. Yorick*

      I set up a google voice number for my (college) students to use if they need an extension or something but can’t email me, but I didn’t set it up to go to my phone. Texts and voice messages go to gmail, and I can also make or answer calls from the computer.

    9. Fafa Flunkie*

      I’m going to guess that if voicemail gets sent to email, then OP3’s business is likely using a VOIP service to handle its calls. Maybe it’s RingCentral? If this is the case, then OP3 can download the app for said VOIP service to their cellphone, and use that to return calls, whereby the Caller ID will show up as the business phone number when they return the call. That’s how it works for me, and no client/supplier will ever get my personal cell phone number. Heck, my work provides me with a cellphone, and certain suppliers get its actual number, and everyone else gets the main line.

  2. PeanutButterSnob*

    When making calls from your cell phone, you should be able to block your own number with *67 then the number you are calling. Of course, not all people are able to get calls from private or blocked numbers.

    1. Kt*

      Yep. Spouse is a physician doing routine checkups from home (as well as inpatient work on other days/weeks). Spouse uses *67 and hasn’t had a problem. Spouse called my cell first to test the first few times.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        If you are in the US, your spouse can use Doximity Dialer, which allows them to set their clinic number (or the hospital operator number) as the displayed number. It also has the extremely handy “Direct to Voicemail” feature, for those times you just want to tell someone “Your labs are normal,” without getting into a 45 minute long conversation about their Internet research about stem cells for coronavirus.

        1. No Name Yet*

          Yes, I love Doximity! It actually works even better than calling from work, because I can also tell it to display “Hospital Name” as the caller ID, vs. calling from the actual hospital where it usually just shows the number (and sometimes is ID’d as spam by people’s cell phones).

      2. Doctor is In*

        Doximity is great. And you can even use it for telemedicine video with patients!

    2. Angelinha*

      Yes, I’m also at a state agency and this is what I did until my agency sent me a phone a month into quarantine. At my agency, they had to prioritize who they were sending equipment to. We had to use our personal equipment at first but slowly they sent out computers and phones to those who could make a case for needing one. OP, even if you think they won’t shell out for a phone, it’s worth asking (or asking your union to push for phones for staff who have to make work calls, if you have a union!)

  3. Not All*


    Have you asked to have Jabber installed? I’m a fed & my division has been 99% remote since midMarch. We all have Jabber on our laptops and it does everything through the laptop as if it was our direct office lines. Voicemail, answer calls, dial out, etc. I was pretty skeptical that sound quality would be any good but it’s actually turned out to be great. A couple people with rambunctious families have gone with a headset/mic option but most of us just talk normally using the laptop speakers/mic.

    1. Project Manager*

      This was going to be my suggestion, OP3. If you have VoIP phones at work, your IT department should be able to put Jabber or a similar solution in place. (If you’re still on land lines, it’s probably not feasible.)

      1. MayLou*

        We use an app called Horizon which I have installed on my personal smart phone. My colleagues who don’t have smart phones or whose phones didn’t have space for the app were issued with work smart phones and then installed the app onto those. It means we can carry on using the same extensions and transferring calls as usual, and was a huge part of why we were able to transition to working from home almost immediately.

        I am using my personal laptop to work and would prefer it if I could remote into the server and keep work siloed from home stuff, but that’s a battle we’ve lost, so I just make sure to delete work files from my downloads frequently. No way on earth would I use my personal number or email address though – it’s not good for work-life balance but it’s also not good for the company, because it means a rogue number is being associated with them. What if you leave and your personal number is the one that clients have saved for your organisation?

    2. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

      I’m a fed, we use EC500, a forwarding service. No need to disclose your personal number, as your office phone number rings thru to whatever number yohave forwarded it to.

    3. lemon*

      You can download the Jabber app to use on your phone, too, if you prefer to use that instead of a laptop/headset option.

  4. Granger Chase*

    OP #2: Could you add a delay on your outgoing emails? I have my Outlook set up with a 10 second delay on every email I send, as it gives me a second chance to proofread. Even on a first proofread I can occasionally miss something, so it gives me an additional opportunity to look over it.
    For important emails, you could also try sending it to yourself first. It might sound weird, but sometimes seeing it on the receiving end can reset your brain a bit into finding potential typos.

    1. Taniwha Girl*

      I did this as well to help myself break the habit of sending and then noticing a glaring error. I did a 5 minute delay because often the issue was not just errors and typos, but I used to send a lot of “I’ll get back to you” emails that I was actually able to solve in less than one minute, or I’d send a reply and then someone would come over and say, “Hey, actually hang off on that for a second…” or something like that.

      When I worked with a company that sent out a lot of important email to clients, we had an auto-delay for the whole company, and you put #nodelay in the subject line to send it immediately. (It would also auto-password-protect any attachments unless you used another tag in the subject line.) Part of onboarding was showing new hires how to recall an email within that 5 minute deadline! It was so helpful I carried it over into my next job, and while it was helpful for proofreading still, I didn’t send nearly as many frantic emails to clients, so I was able to get rid of the delay.

      1. Anonymous Pygmy Possum (OP #2)*

        I’m really glad it helped you as well – I’m definitely going to have to try this. Thank you!

    2. Anonymous Pygmy Possum (OP #2)*

      I hadn’t thought of that. This is genius! I’ll have to look in my Outlook settings to see if I can set that. Thank you for the suggestion!

      1. Mm*

        As someone with many typos this is my go-to also.

        You can also set it up to look for key words to send without a delay if you have something urgent. I do a period after my department in my signature (so if it sees the word “llama crew.” then it sends without a delay. This is unobtrusive and works on the rare occasion but want to send something without the 1 minute delay I have setup.

        1. SarahKay*

          That’s a really useful tip about how to remove the delay, thank you.
          I have my Outlook configured for a one minute delay which is time enough for the ‘Bother, forgot to add the attachment’ or ‘NO! Wrong addressee’ type moments. However when I’m in conversation with someone on Skype and tell them I’ll email x so they can see it as we discuss, it’s frustrating to have the delay. Great to have a way to cancel it easily.

      2. hi_jen*

        Just want to chime in to say, totally agree! gmail also has a setting that lets you choose up to a 30-second “Un-send” and I find that I use it at least 30-50% of the time! I send too fast and then immediately spot realize I forgot an attachment, or I could have rearranged to have the request up top, or most likely, that I forgot the “Hope this finds you well!” nicety that can soften an email request to someone I haven’t had to contacted in a while or don’t contact frequently (in my field, it seems like that’s more of the norm though I know that’s not the case in all fields).

        1. we're basically gods*

          The un-send function in Gmail has helped me a TON when I’ve accidentally bumped whatever key automatically sends the email. (I have apparently terrible fine motor control and a mechanical keyboard, so I’m always bumping into the wrong keys..)

      3. Shad*

        One other thing I do, at least when I’m starting a new email chain, is put the addressee in last; I find that having to make that jump back to the top serves as a reminder to read through and check everything.

        1. Guacamole Bob*

          I do this, too. You can’t hit send accidentally if you haven’t addressed the email!

    3. Esme*

      I actually don’t recommend this kind of auto delay – it’s much better to delay it yourself by waiting to send!

        1. Mongrel*

          It sounds like the normal “I do it this way and that should work for everyone”.

          Esme. people work and approach problems solving in many different ways, and in this case the ‘Pause & read carefully before hitting send” is probably the first thing many people have tried.

        2. Esme*

          Because it will just delay the same issue rather than solving it. I’ve explained a bit more further down.

          1. Allonge*

            I get that you are recommending this out of good intentions, but really: why not use a tool that was designed exactly to solve this issue? There is no virtue in not using delayed send, just as there is no virtue in not using spellcheck, even though it’s much better to learn how to spell correctly.

            1. Esme*

              Well that’s the thing. I don’t think it will solve the actual issue, but you do you.

              1. Allonge*

                Obviously it does not reform the personality of the sender, but it’s the next best thing: if someone does not manage to have high self-regulation naturally, the next best thing is to look like they have it together anyway.

                Outlook is helpful for this, just like the tasks function, the ways you have to set up reminders / events is helpful to allow people to focus on more important things, instead of remembering when they are supposed to meet Tim from Accounting.

                Like, there are people who can get up by force of will at a certain time. I use an alarm clock. Others have to use an alarm clock, plus an app to scan something in a different room, plus other tools. If we all make it in to work on time, what does it matter? What do you win if you don’t use an alarm clock?

          2. JSPA*

            Captain Awkward had a post on a similar topic, and it’s come up here before, on an ADD/ADHD “how do you handle it” thread. Can’t find it at the moment, so I’m paraphrasing.

            It had to do with one’s response to time-organization and attention-compelling schemes.

            Basically, she’s got the ADD and procrastinate pattern where any scheme only works for a short while, because after that, she generates a “compensate / ignore / avoid / avert awareness” protective shield.

            For anyone who operates similarly (and we are legion!) this will be at best a temporary fix (as are all other static fixes). Deeper work on the whole avoidance thing (or medication, or both) may be needed.

            But for people who are more straightforward in their patterns / whose patterns are more invariant, this can actually work fine. Ditto if you’re working with someone who gives you requested information in incomplete chunks, so the source of the gap isn’t your own brain.

            And, just like walking through a doorway can erase your awareness of what it is you left the room to do, the act of hitting “send” can be a potent trigger of “esprit de l’escalier” or “completion regret” (that’s not a formal term, maybe there’s a better one, but I’m pretty sure we’ve all at some point felt that sinking feeling of having taped the box or sealed the envelope or hit submit on a batch job or sent an email too soon?) If you can in essence trick yourself into triggering that productive re-think, you come out ahead.

            1. Ginger Baker*

              Yes, I have found some routines/patterns that really stick over time (thankfully…but many MANY years in coming) but also deliberately will change up how I track to-dos etc. or do something else to “change” and make “fresh” my methods because just having a NEW thing sometimes gets my brain functioning in a more attentive way.

      1. Alica*

        It can be really helpful for some people though. For some reason I can read an email through and it seems fine. The moment I hit send, I notice the typo/error/missing information! Email delay is a godsend for those moments.

        Also schedule to send later is similarly brilliant. If I don’t send an email when I’m thinking about it, I won’t remember until about 4 hours later….

      2. Malarkey01*

        I think it’s one more tool in the toolkit and the more support you have the better. In my work environment I do proofread emails, but the level of proofreading (and frankly the number of typos I make) vary by the email context. Having one more quick safeguard has saved me numerous times, or even instilled more confidence because more often than not I’m using it to say “wait read just 1 more time, happy?, good”.

        Frankly if every action in my life had a 10 second “you sure?” delay I’d be better off.

      3. Sam.*

        I think you’re assuming that the people who use this aren’t already proofreading. Most of them probably do. I proofread emails very carefully, and, in fact, usually sit on an email for awhile before sending, but because I am human, I still occasionally spot a typo or realize I’ve forgotten an attachment the moment I hit send.

        It’s fine if this doesn’t help you at all! It wouldn’t be useful enough to me to bother setting it up, and that’s fine because not every tool or strategy is useful to every person. Just like, for some people, the strategy of waiting to send an email and rereviewing it later wouldn’t work (b/c it may slip their mind once it’s out of sight, they’re expected to reply to emails very quickly, etc.) I think people would’ve responded differently to your suggestion if you’d framed it as, “I find this kind of auto-delay doesn’t work for me because X. Y is my go-to strategy,” rather than assuming what works for you works for everyone.

    4. Loubelou*

      I do this too! I actually got the idea from an AAM commenter. It’s saved me so many emails-without-attachments, ‘oh and also’ emails plus of course being able to fix typos that I spot just as I hit send. It’s been a Godsend!

    5. Remote HealthWorker*

      You can also set up spell check. On send in outlook it will check your spelling before sending and alert you if it’s not finished.

    6. Angelie*

      That was going to be my suggestion. I have mine set for one minute. It also allows an escape if the email sends before you are ready which has happened to me a couple of times

    7. BetsCounts*

      Please allow me to 3rd this comment. I ended up doing it for 5 minutes, because in addition to scanning for typos there was something about hitting ‘send’ that would remind me of ‘just one more thing I want to add to the message’ and it felt super unprofessional to send multiple emails to the same recipient in 1/2 an hour.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      My job involves being able to write perfectly, so it’s always keenly embarrassing if I send an email out with a typo. My pro email address is gmail, which has a function to recall emails if you make a mistake.

  5. Always Sciencing*

    OP #3: Check the settings in your phone and/or with your service provider – there is almost certainly a way to block your number from showing up on call display. I’m able to switch mine to display “private” in my phone settings whenever I need to call a client. I’m with you on not wanting everyone to have my personal cell phone number!

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      This is what I did as well. Our work phones have been set up to forawrd the call to our personal phones during business hours, so people don’t need my direct number to contact me, but when dialling out I definitely want that privacy setting active.

  6. Invisible Fish*

    I just let some former coworkers know that I did not write the first letter … but I could have.

    1. Laika*

      Honestly! And I’m sitting here wondering if I should message one of my co-workers that I know reads AAM that #1 isn’t me, either haha

    2. Rexish*

      I linked the first question to my best work friend and had a good giggle. Now I’m seriosuly thinking if one of the non favourites wrote this :D

    3. MonteCristo*

      Haha, I thought this could have been written by a former coworker of mine.

      I was really hoping for a different answer from AAM when I read the question, but I’m the same boat (except without a new job) and I’m starting to have meetings with higher-ups about these problems to see if they can be fixed before I bounce.

      I know that’s not usually recommended, but I feel like I should. I feel like there is basically no chance of this backfiring to the point that I’m let go, plus I’d be ok if it did. I like the company, but the culture of short term thinking is driving me insane. But I also fear that nothing will come of this, yet I think I should at least try. Plus, they pay me a LOT and finding a job that even comes close to this salary is not likely.

  7. Cassie*

    Our university uses Zoom and one thing I’ve noticed is that some depts will have office hours on Zoom or set up audio calls on Zoom for brief meetings. That way, if there’s something that’s easier discussed verbally rather than by email, you can still have a “phone” call but without needing a phone as long as you have an internet connection.

      1. Ponytail*

        Yup, I’ve been using that, and so have my students. The only time I used a mobile in the last 3 months was to talk about a personal matter with a work colleague, and we would have normally used mobiles for that – and we’re using Teams for calls so much, that I sent her a message on it to say “Can I call you on your personal phone?” as it’s unusual at the moment !
        (Have just double-checked and have received NO phone messages on my work (office-based) phone at all. People have definitely switched to Teams at my organisation)

    1. LDF*

      Yes, I’ve been asked to take very occasional phone calls at home and in all those cases asked the folks organizing the call to set up an audio meeting with our org’s conferencing software instead.

    2. A*

      Yup. I have a work cell, but 99% of my work calls I do through Microsoft Teams (more so now that I’m WFH, but also prior to the pandemic).

  8. Miss Annie*

    OP4, Have you considered starting to document your institutional knowledge? If you can write a lot of it down, you may feel better about the 2 week notice.

    1. PollyQ*

      Just what I was going to suggest! The best way to transfer knowledge is via written record anyway.

    2. Beth*

      I was coming here to say this too! Especially valuable if there are tasks you only do a few times a year–you can record the notes next time you do it, instead of trying to remember it during your notice period.

      But obviously, you don’t owe your company overtime work to document this, so I’d just do what you’re able to get done around your normal duties.

    3. Four lights*

      Yes, good idea! I’ve done this before when I knew I was leaving. I’ve updated notes, cleaned up files, made sure everything in my head was written down…

    4. TCO*

      OP, you could also look for other ways to subtly help train your staff for the transition. For instance, could you have someone else join you for a meeting you’d normally attend alone, so they meet the players and see a bit of the work?

      And yes, document! As someone covering a vacancy during a transition, I can attest to how helpful it is to have documentation, templates/samples, organized files, etc. all set up before you leave. You have more time than average to do that, so you can do it well.

      1. Amaranth*

        Definitely! In the military we’d have binders of SOPs – Standard Operating Procedures – that were often dry as dirt but they covered a wide range of contingencies and its a habit I carried to every subsequent job. Whether you’re out sick, or moving on, being able to point to a tabbed binder with procedures, contacts, passwords and critical forms is priceless. If you’re feeling especially virtuous, make a network folder or thumb drive with all your examples and instructions.

    5. Calanthea*

      +1! If you don’t already, start writing your handover notes now, and you’ll realise what it is you need to do to ensure as smooth a transition as possible. Maybe you’ll see you need to write some “How to” documents, set up a shared filing system that’s as intuitive as possible, and create/update project tracking spreadsheets All of these are good practice, so you may already be doing them, but sometimes (esp if you’ve been working somewhere 15 years), things just accumulate and are stored in your mind.
      Also, it’s really nice of you to be thinking of your colleagues and how to make this process easier, so do this at a pace that feels comfortable rather than beating yourself up to get it done. If you’ve already got most of it, then you’ll know you can give 2 weeks notice with 0 guilt!
      Good luck with the move :)

    6. Time_TravelR*

      Ah! You beat me to it. I just said essentially the same thing down thread. (Note to self: read the comments before commenting!)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Really good suggestion.

      OP, don’t feel bad about not answering her question. She is asking you to do upper level management work for your rate of pay. Just NO.
      When it gets to the point that management says, “how do we fix this?”, it’s probably over anyway, at least for the person who is in the conversation with management.
      If I can’t convince you to feel differently here, then I’d suggest that you refer your boss to AAM’s book on how to manage. She can order the book and read it herself if she is that interested in fixing the place.

      I share Alison’s disgust here, this is lazy management to foist all this back on to you.

    8. June First*

      Then you might also prevent your soon-to-be-former coworkers calling you for info after you’ve left that position.

    9. myswtghst*

      Yes, this. When I knew I was looking to leave the company I spent the first 11 years of my career at, I started a Google Sheet, and took notes. It was an easy way to spend a few minutes whenever I had some downtime making a record of what my projects were, who the key contacts/supports were, where the documents lived online and/or in shared folders, and so on. It was also a helpful spot to make random notes in another tab when a one-off question came up during the day that I knew might come up again after I left. In the end, when I did give notice, I was able to have a lot of really productive conversations with my boss and teammates, make recommendations on who should take over what, and leave them in a good spot, even though I only gave a few weeks notice.

    10. Student*

      This is probably one of the best things you can do right now, and you have enough time that you can probably make it one of your official duties this year–either as a goal in the performance review process or by going to your boss and proposing it right now. As a senior person, you’re likely to have the freedom to do that.

      If your job involves “cases” or other work that’s project-based and can have a lot of variation, it can be helpful to institute a shared-knowledge meeting with junior staff. For example, every other Tuesday you meet for an hour and someone gives the details of the XYZ case and lessons learned. I believe that hospitals call it grand rounds, and it’s something I’ve seen done successfully in a couple of different career contexts.

    11. Littorally*

      This was the first thing that popped into my head. If you’ve got all that knowledge in your head, write it down! Training guides and documentation are a lifesaver in any role.

    12. Courtney*

      Also, if it something in a software, there are screen capture software that can allow you to capture your screen so someone can watch the motions and copy. I’m leaving my job after making large leaps and strides and we’ve been recording every process and making a how to.

    13. OP4*

      Hi, OP here–Yes, I have actually started doing some of that. Also, as someone mentioned below in another comment, I’ve started training some of my staff to be my back up on certain tasks so I am sure there is someone who is able to manage it during the transition period.

      1. VeganCPA*

        Hi OP4! I wanted to share my experience with your question: I gave three months’ notice last year when I was leaving my five-person company to move states, and it worked out wonderfully. I got to help search for and interview candidates to fill my role (they hired someone right after I left), my boss and coworkers were very understanding, and I had plenty of time to wrap up projects, contact clients about the change, and pass along important information. Three months may be too long for some folks, but my company had treated me fantastically during my time there, I was stable financially (in case they let me go on the spot), and my work involved sometimes being scheduled for appearances in court – I couldn’t ethically agree to participate in a trial when I knew I would no longer be available at that time.

        So, while I completely understand that things are a bit more uncertain right now, two weeks still seems like a short amount of time (even though it’s the norm), if you have worked for a company for a while, they have generally treated you well, and you have good relationships with coworkers and managers. If you feel like giving more notice (and are financially stable enough that if you gave notice a bit early and for some reason were asked to leave immediately, you’d still be fine money-wise), I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! Your team will likely appreciate more than a two-week heads up, and it may make you feel better after telling people you’re moving. I knew of our plans to move well in advance (more than a year), and it started to get tough not to say anything toward the end. I am grateful I did this and just wanted to share my experience with giving more notice than usual.

        Overall, I wish you well and hope all works out with the move! :)

    14. Rachel in NYC*

      I ditto this so much. I did it before I left my first real job after college because we were unsuccessful hiring someone to replace (which was how I got promoted to that position- we were unsuccessful hiring from outside to replace the last person in that position.) So I wrote down how to do everything that only I know how to do.

      In my current job, we sorta had SOPs when I started but not really. After we lost a co-worker in a hit-and-run and realized we had no clue how he did half the things he did- I became very pro-SOP. They are also in progress but at least if I get hit by a bus, there is a better then 50% chance that someone could just take over my job.

      (I also want to note that the SOPs have to be accessible- mine would be easier to find if sharepoint was easier to use. But my section is really usable once you find it- I swear.)

  9. Language Lover*


    I sympathize. I can spend an inordinate amount of time crafting an email, re-read it two or three times before sending it and only notice a typo or an incomplete edit I should have caught once the original is included in a reply I get. Heck, that will probably happen with this response.

    Alison is right. You should not reply with a correction unless the typo will lead to incorrect information being shared. The thing is, the brain is a powerful tool. The reason we often don’t see our typos is because our brain knows what we mean to say and what others mean to say and fills in the blanks without us even being cognizant of it happening.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the comments section of this site and people start laughing (in fun) over an unintentional typo that changes the meaning of what was said (even though everyone knows what was meant to be said)…and I won’t see it. I know there’s a typo somewhere and I want to laugh but it becomes like a puzzle. It’s like my brain won’t let me see it.

    Odds are, a lot of people won’t notice the typo until you send a correction. Those that do see it will likely think it a bit odd if you keep correcting yourself.

    In order to get better at editing your emails or responses, you may need to “trick” your brain in having to think harder about what it’s reading. Copying and pasting the email into a Word document and changing it to a harder font to read, reading the email backwards or out loud are other ways to improve proofreading.

    1. Yvette*

      Composing in Word and then cutting and pasting it to the email would prevent you from hitting send automatically as soon as you finished typing.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. Or if you’re drafting the first email of a thread rather than a reply, don’t put anything in the To: field until you’ve written the email and proofread it at least once.
        My problem isn’t so much typos, but empty sheet syndrome. I’m a translator, so I rarely start with nothing to work from. So when I need to draft important emails, I spend a lot of time formulating what I want to say and how I want to say it.

        1. emmelemm*

          That’s what I sometimes do – start an email without filling out the To: field, type the whole thing, read it over, then put in the addresses.

          1. MayLou*

            I have got into the habit of never completing the To field until I’ve checked the email, which has saved me from a lot of missed attachments. Doesn’t work if you’re replying to an email (unless you delete the recipient and add them back) but I have the ten-second delay to help with that one.

            1. The Rural Juror*

              I do this, too. For me, it’s mainly missing the attachments. I’m good about proof-reading two or three times to make sure I got all the information, but then will completely forget to attach the document! Unfortunately I’m sometimes replying to a chain that has several recipients and several people copied…so I have to be careful!

            2. Yorick*

              I will sometimes delete the address from the to field when replying, and then add it back in.

          2. Annie Moose*

            I also do this! I also tend to sit on emails for a bit before I send them–obviously doesn’t work if you need to get someone a quick answer, but so long as someone doesn’t need a response for an hour or two, letting it sit so my brain can “forget” it and then rereading it can help catch stuff that your brain glossed over when typing it up originally.

        2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          “empty sheet syndrome”…

          It’s made my day to hear that’s a real thing.

        3. BethDH*

          I love calling this empty sheet syndrome. This is something I have a real problem with (like it leads me to procrastinate on things). It’s gotten better as I’ve written more, not because I don’t feel it but because I’m more likely to have something at least vaguely related I can paste in to start, even if every word of that gets deleted as I write the rest.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I use Notepad. I keep it open all day long and use it for draft email responses, cut and paste items for later use, notes during phone calls.

        Draft your response in Word or Notepad, re-read and proof, then cut and paste into an email. *One benefit Word has over Notepad is that Notepad does not catch typos.

    2. Anonymous Pygmy Possum (OP #2)*

      Honestly, my problem is that I have a hard time slowing down, especially when I’ve just finished something for one of my coworkers or my boss and I want to let them know ASAP! And then there’s a disconnect between my brain and my fingers and I mis-type and don’t notice it or am just too scatterbrained to notice it until after the email is sent. But its definitely something I need to work on, thanks for the suggestions!

      1. Language Lover*

        Then it sounds like the suggestions that you set a delay on emails or don’t fill out the To: until you’re ready to send.

        I know that has saved me when I’ve planned to forward something to someone but haven’t checked to make sure that I’ve removed parts of the email that I don’t want the person I’m forwarding to see.

      2. Jane Plough*

        Honestly, my problem is that I have a hard time slowing down, especially when I’ve just finished something for one of my coworkers or my boss and I want to let them know ASAP!

        It’s great that you have recognized this in yourself but this stood out as something you need to work on. It’s not clear from your letter what stage you’re at in your career, but this kind of thing is very common in people in their first job, where they’re still keen to get that immediate hit of recognition. Even if you’re later in your career, you may be undermining yourself by doing something that makes you appear that you’re fresh out of college.

        It might help to consider that the person receiving your email (especially if they’re your boss and are therefore likely to be more busy than you) is not usually going to waiting around for your email with nothing else to do – so the urgency you feel in getting an update to them isn’t necessarily the same on their end. If you prioritize your feelings of wanting validation for finishing something over your recipient’s need to get accurate information, then you are going about this the wrong way. (Side note – are all the emails you send necessary? Could some of these be saved to once a week/day/held over to progress meetings? This depends on your work context of course, and I only mention this as I had a report once who used to send me lots of Skype messages and emails when he’d completed a small task, because he was seeking validation, whereas for me, these updates were a distraction. I had to coach him on the fact that I trusted him to get on with the work without needing to tell me about it multiple times a day. This may not reflect your situation at all, but have you had the conversation with your manager about what they need from you?)

        If you do need to send these updates quickly, other techniques you could consider to save time include having a set of standard templates where all you need is to enter some figures or the project title, doing a daily update, creating a shared tracking document, etc.

        1. Momentarily anon*

          It might help to consider that the person receiving your email (especially if they’re your boss and are therefore likely to be more busy than you) is not usually going to waiting around for your email with nothing else to do – so the urgency you feel in getting an update to them isn’t necessarily the same on their end.

          I wish my work was more like this! In practice, if I don’t reply to an email from a particular boss in like 3.2 seconds, usually one of two things happens:
          (1) They call me to ask me the same thing they asked in the email.
          (2) They try to answer the question themselves, often with the wrong answer.

          I’ve had to “manage up” a little bit by replying to things with “I got this email, I have the answer, but it’s going to take me a minute.” Otherwise I find out a few minutes later that they’ve emailed the entire department with “ZOMG NEED YOUR XXXX FORM NOW, IT IS LATE!!!” when it’s actually just a mass email and we did XXXX form months ago.

      3. Who Plays Backgammon?*

        Mama always said, Haste makes waste. Sending an email with a fixable error and having to backtrack to fix or explain it ultimately takes more of your time. It’s easy to get caught up in the speed when you rush. Can the ASAP info wait five minutes or so while you proofread your message first

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Going in a different direction, it might be good to observe the emails you receive. I have people with master’s degrees emailing me and the email usually has bad spelling, missing words, etc. I can only name one person who never has a typo. So that is the person that I really double check before hitting send.

        If you can find ways to exhale, you might find yourself more relaxed and in turn your emails will be more to your satisfaction. For me, it was really good to understand that the people emailing me were more concerned that I answered them and way less concerned about my spelling, etc. We have moved to the point that some of their emails look like text messages, rather than emails. Importantly, I realized that *i* did not care about their errors, because… I was just so happy that they took the time to answer. Things can go this way, when we “forgive” other people’s errors, it’s much easier to forgive our own.

      5. SomebodyElse*

        I think most of us are guilty of this type of thing. My biggest problem is that I’ll type something out then go back to edit something which results in a mishmash of thoughts. (In fairness I do this while I’m talking too)

        I’m getting better at making the edit then looking away for a second or two to reset my brain and am usually able to catch it.

    3. Guacamole Bob*

      Related to your copy-to-Word trick, I’ve had Outlook set to spellcheck when I hit send for many years – I think the autocorrect has gotten enough better that straight-up misspelled words are less common than they used be, but it’s saved me quite a few times. Definitely doesn’t catch everything but it can help a bit.

    4. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I always find it useful to write the email, go away and do something else, then come back to proofread and send. In my job I have to write well, and I always notice typos more easily when I come back to something.
      Otherwise, writing it in Word and using the spell check (for email this isn’t always possible or very good) and then copying it into the email interface and proofreading in the different format can also help. This is partly because line length usually changes, so typos that were tucked away are suddenly in your face in the middle of the line.

  10. Dan*


    I’m not a fan of long notice periods. Once notice has been given, there’s a perception (right or wrong) that the employee’s opinions and what not don’t count in ways that they used to. Once that happens, that person becomes in the way more than anything. This is even more true when someone is a manager — they’re no longer going to be around to deal with the fallout from their decisions, so it can be hard to accept/respect them.

    I’d rather people keep their plans to themselves until it’s time for the two weeks notice. Give the notice, deal with the transition, and leave.

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I think another issue is that sometimes people ‘check out’ once they have submitted their notice. Some employees are great and work all through their notice period and make an effort to make the transition as smooth as possible, and others just.. play on their phone and ignore their emails/tasks until their time is up.
      There is also the balancing act of reassigning work so that it will still get done once they leave, and not having them sit around with no work at all for the final week or five because that reassugnment happened faster than expected.
      I do agree that documentation is a good idea, both for your own piece of mind and to make the transition as smooth as possible for all involved.

      1. Lyudie*

        This, so much…we had a coworker in India leave a while back, and long notice periods are standard there. We didn’t get much out of him the last three weeks or so he was with us. This doesn’t always happen of course but it’s definitely a hazard.

    2. Sherm*

      I agree. After giving notice, the employee can be a bit like a ghost wandering the hallways — partly there but partly not. A three-week notice instead of two is no big deal; a three month notice can become painfully awkward.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        I can attest to your experience.

        I left a job that was a bad culture fit. During my review in October, I told the owner of the company I was a bad culture fit and that I didn’t feel comfortable making the investments in my employment that he wanted to move forward. (I wasn’t just a bad culture fit, I was also a miserable fit with their golden-calf technology). He smiled and thanked me for my candor and flexibility.

        My last day was the following April 1st. (The coworkers I worked closely with joked that my April Fools’ Joke was that I wasn’t returning). During those 6 months, my supervisor all but ghosted me and I got no interesting work. I had everything I could document documented by the end of the first week. Every suggestion I had for improvement was shot down. It didn’t take long until I settled into a groove of maintaining the daily minutiae to keep my work flow moving, until my supervisor’s friend retired from her job and was hired part-time as my replacement.

        It was a weird six months professionally. My personal life was in upheaval and it kind of worked out in the end, but I’d recommend anyone considering giving anything more than a month’s notice to reconsider.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            This was a print shop; it was their rendering platform software. It was treated as a golden calf, all but worshipped.

            I found out when training my replacement that it’s a weird situation. My boss, the company owner, and my replacement all used to work together at a big bank about a decade ago that used that software. My replacement told me that the software platform was so weird and different that procedure at that bank was to hire new programmers and give them exercises for at least a year to figure out if the new hire could wrap their mind around how the software worked. (Needless to say, I couldn’t intuit it correctly, my then job couldn’t carry a person for a year to see if they worked out, and it also didn’t help that all my experience came from using a competitor software).

            Best analogy I can come up with is spending half a decade deep in Windows, then one day trying to pick up a Mac or Linux/UNIX cold turkey.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              Eek.. that should read a decade prior, not a decade ago. Time flees and while that made sense at the time, it’s gibberish now!

            2. Richard Hershberger*

              Thanks. The meaning was not transparent, at least to me, but it makes perfect sense.

              1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

                I’m glad it makes sense. It’s hard to explain… words fail me in *every* language.

    3. allathian*

      This is also very culture dependent. In many European countries, the standard period of notice in the private sector is a month and in the public sector, depending on the position, it can be as much as six months. My notice period is two months, but the expectation is that people will continue to work as normal until their last day. If public sector employees leave for a job in the private sector, they’ll need to take out any accrued vacation during that notice period. Sometimes that can be longer than two months, although there’s nothing to stop you from starting work for your new employer while “on vacation” from your old one. That’s why there’s sometimes overlap between two full-time jobs, because as long as you’re on vacation during your notice period, you’re still employed. If a public sector employee switches to another employer in the public sector, they transfer as an old employee without losing accrued vacation.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, the notice period varies depending on how long somebody has been in that position. I certainly have experience of a person I worked closely with handing in their notice, then checking out from their job for the remaining few weeks. (Arriving late, leaving early, long lunches)

      2. Batty Twerp*

        Echoing the cultural specificity. Especially since, to slightly disagree with Alison, everywhere I’ve ever worked has used my notice period (1 month) to train/recruit my replacement. I don’t know if that’s normal across the board, but I’ve spoken to friends in different industries and (apart from one redundancy due to staff restructure) this was their experience too. Retirements take 3 months for some reason too.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          In the U.S., where two weeks notice is standard, in most cases that’s just not possible. Often the job isn’t even advertised for a week or two, then you have interviews, then you have the new hire needing to give notice at their old job … generally the resigning person is gone (often long gone) before the new person starts. Exceptions are if the job is going to someone internal or if it’s a low-skill job where the hiring is very fast.

          1. just a random teacher*

            Even in the US, it’s field-dependent. I know k-12 education is a major outlier here, but giving months of notice is not all all unheard of since it’s very much expected that you’ll work until the end of the school year regardless of when you give notice (or, for that matter, get fired unless it’s for the kind of thing that makes the news). Some districts I’ve worked in have had tiered financial incentives encouraging people to give notice as early as February for leaving at the end of the school year in June so that they can have a smoother hiring process for the replacement.

            Of course, this works because it’s understood by both sides that it would be pointlessly disruptive to immediately walk a teacher out mid-year rather than let them keep their classes until the end of the term. Since there’s such an obvious end date that works best for both sides, everyone has an incentive to stick to the original date even with lots of advance notice. (Also, there are union protections that would make it very difficult for the district to decide not to keep a teacher on once they’d given notice, but I suspect that’s secondary to the sheer hassle it would be to find a new teacher mid-year.)

            I assume that there are some other fields where it would also make sense to have long notice periods for field-specific reasons, but I don’t know specifically which they’d be.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Education is the big one! It’s relatively rare outside of that. (I’m sure there are others, but they’re the exceptions to the rule.)

              1. Doc in a Box*

                Medicine is the other big one. Standard for my area is ~3 months; less could be considered patient abandonment and will definitely burn bridges among your co-workers. Many people give more — our recently departed ICU division chief gave 6 months notice!

                1. Adultiest Adult*

                  Mental health side seconds this. I always wince when Alison repeats “two weeks notice.” I’ve had to drill into some of our younger staff that “professional jobs give a month, at least.” If you only give two weeks in our field, you are abandoning your patients, opening us up to legal liability, and solidly earning yourself a black mark “do not rehire.” And if someone calls me asking for a reference after you do that, you better believe it will come up!

              2. OP4*

                I realize that I didn’t specify–do you think it matters that this is in academia? It’s in a University setting, though I don’t have any role in teaching or educational programs.

            2. Cards fan*

              Exactly. In our state, there have been retirement incentives available to teachers who give up to 4 YEARS notice of intent to retire. It gives a district a chance to find replacements in hard-to-find subject areas.

          2. Ponytail*

            Even in cases where the notice period was 3 months, I’ve never trained my replacement – they’ve never started until I’ve left. None of my organisations were so financially relaxed that they would pay for two people to do the job! The closest I’ve come is training up colleagues who I suspected might get my job, or who were going to have to cover me regardless.
            The fact is, unless you hire someone who was unemployed, everyone has to give notice – so there will be a delay anyway.

            1. Forrest*

              I have, in the UK. It’s fairly common to aim for a week or so’s handover if possible.

              It often isn’t possible, because if I’m at a level where I’ve got three months’ notice, it’s quite likely that whoever is replacing me will also have three months’ notice. But it’s not uncommon. I was on the hiring panel for my maternity leave replacement and we worked together for a week or two before I finished.

              1. Alex*

                “It’s fairly common to aim for a week or so’s handover if possible.”

                Thats not been my experience. I mean, any handover period is great if possible, but the vast majority of the time it just isn’t. Even with the standard month/4 week notice period in the UK, that’s not enough time to advertise a position, interview candidates, decide on a hire, have them accept the offer, work their own notice period and then start. It’s much more common to assume no handover period, and if the opportunity presents itself then to take advantage of that.

                1. A*

                  Yes, I wonder about the level of the positions where this is apparently common. When I was moving on from my entry level position, sure I had one week to train the incoming receptionist because all it took was a call to a temp agency to get a qualified candidate in the door. However, I’ve never experienced that above that level as it can sometimes take up to a year to find qualified candidates. I have to imagine for most positions with specialized skillsets, this would be unlikely.

                  Understood of course that there are always industry exceptions.

              2. Emily*

                Similarly, I’m in the middle of my handover back to the person whose maternity leave I was covering, my contract was extended specifically to allow it. I also had a six week handover where from her at the start. This was partially because I essentially needed trained from the ground up, including in quite a few tasks which were once a month occurrences, but it meant the transition went much more smoothly.
                In my previous job my contract required 3 months notice. Though I think the main purpose of that was to basically hold us hostage. ‘You want to leave? Well do want to leave badly enough to endure an even more toxic environment for 3 months?’

              3. Ponytail*

                But maternity leave is a little different – you have a much longer ‘notice period’ than standard ones, and it’s a temporary job, so the person coming in is likely to be either temping, or unemployed, and very likely will come in through an agency. To be honest, most maternity cover in my field tends to be seen as a chance for someone junior to get the experience, so often, the cover will be someone already employed in the organisation.
                I would love to work for a place where they have enough wiggle room in the budget to have an overlap of a week, but it’s never happened, in 35 years of work!

            2. Asenath*

              I gave a lengthy notice when I left my last job, much longer than the required 2 weeks at that employer – but I didn’t expect any pressure to leave and didn’t get it. I had a wistful hope that my replacement would be hired before I left, but that didn’t happen. It usually doesn’t with that employer. In spite of so many people thinking this would be a great idea, there’s rarely any direct handover, much less direct instruction. I swear the policy-makers think there’s nothing much to our jobs and no one needs any instruction in procedures and duties. So I created a “desk manual” covering every duty I could think of, and made myself let go of the idea that it was my duty to make sure everything went well for my replacement, and that she would do everything like I did.

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                Yep – I gave ten weeks notice from one job because the department was already understaffed – three of us in a department designed for six, and one was only part time. (Two weeks after that the other full timer announced they had to drop to part time immediately because of severe acute health issues.) Manager still didn’t manage to even get my job posted before I left, let alone any replacement hired.

          3. Batty Twerp*

            Yeah – I forgot to add my usual caveat that I’m in the UK… (sorry Alison!)
            In my experience, it’s precisely because of these reasons that our notice periods are so long.

            That it affected so many roles in my little corner of the world intrigued me – I spoke with a high school teacher, an accountant, a programmer, IT support, admin assistant, primary care nurse, a factory line worker, a bar manager, a shop assistant. Only two people had a different minimum notice period to a month; one was the shop assistant who was part-time and gave a pro-rata two-weeks, and the other was working for a plant & equipment hire company where the contract said “one week per year of service”, but the owner-manager always growsed that turnover was so high and he couldn’t get anyone to stay beyond 4 years!
            I suppose my circle of acquaintances is lucky that none of them are on zero-hour contracts, but that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

          But surely, unless you can find someone already unemployed, this has the same problem just more drawn out? Because your replacement needs to give 3 months notice too, so they can’t start until you’ve already left anyway.

          1. A*

            Not to mention the stars needing to align for a qualified candidate with the appropriate specialized skillsets seeing, and applying for, the position as soon as it is posted. Heck, in my line of work it can take up to a year to fill open positions.

      3. legobitar*

        Hah, yeah. In Sweden, 3 months is standard for permanent employees, and right now, when I’m a production manager for a team where 2/3 of the people have been laid off? I’m very grateful for that. Two weeks for us would’ve meant total chaos.

        Also, two of the people are on parental leave, which means their 3 month notice period will start counting from when they were planned to come back. Because that’s required by law.

        I learn a lot from reading AAM and one of those things is “I sure am glad I’m not working in the US”

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          The “I’m glad I’m not working in the US” stuff is exhausting and not constructive, and I’ve asked repeatedly for it to stop. (I’m removing an off-topic thread arguing about this.)

        2. Thankful for AAM*

          But I’m curious how 3 months notice avoids the chaos? If the person being hired also has to give 3 months notice, how would they start before the person who gave 3 months notice?

          You give notice on Jan 1 and you are starting your new job April 1. On Jan 2 your employer starts looking for a replacement. By some miracle, they hire someone on Jan 3 who gives 3 months notice at their workplace and can start on April 3. So you don’t overlap. I would guess hiring takes more like a month (at my workplace, it takes many months). So the new person cannot start until May or later.

          Maybe it avoids the chaos of giving more time for the documentation and handing off tasks? I think in the US we dont see it as chaos, people, as Alison says, can leave at any time for so many reasons.

          1. londonedit*

            I think it’s definitely a case of different cultures seeing things differently because it’s just ‘the way it is’. Like how the idea of getting paid every two weeks freaks me out, because in the UK our rent and bills are pretty much all due monthly and I’d have no idea how to budget because I’ve never had to do that. But a lot of people in the US would shudder at the idea of only getting paid once a month. It’s what you’re used to, and what fits with the systems you have to deal with in your broader life.

            Two weeks’ notice would give most UK employers heart failure, I think precisely because the idea of a notice period in our working culture is so that the person who’s leaving can wrap up any projects that are feasible to wrap up, and have plenty of time to create handover notes or have any handover meetings that are needed before the new person starts. If I left my current job with two weeks’ notice, there would be so much that I’d just be leaving unfinished. If I had the standard month, or even three months (which is quite common for more senior positions) then I’d be able to finish much more, or at least have time to get things to a reasonable point before handing over.

    4. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      I agree with what Dan says, OP. Even when you think you know your coworkers and get on well, things can get weird when you resign.

      I gave 6 weeks’ notice to a company I had been with for 10 years, thinking they would appreciate the extra time. But they never bothered looking for a replacement till the last minute anyway, and some people (including one boss) became surprisingly hostile. It was a looooong 6 weeks and I cursed myself for it every minute.

      1. OP4*

        Thanks, this is a good perspective–I’ve been assuming that people wouldn’t have bad feelings about things, but I guess I really can’t count on that.

        1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I wanted to add too that hostility wasn’t just coming from a place of “I’m sad you’re leaving”, like my boss, who did eventually come around.

          In my case what surprised me was some other staff feeling it was ok to completely drop their professionalism toward me knowing I was leaving. Eg: a couple of my male reports just stopped taking direction altogether (payback for all my bossy instructions I suppose) and one notoriously difficult, missing-stair other manager just decided there was now one less person she needed to conjure civility towards and would openly tell me to f-off if I needed something from her. It was a really sad way to leave actually after spending such a long time working there.

          All the best with your move :-)

          1. tangerineRose*

            That’s horrible. In a non-toxic company there should have been consequences for your reports and the other manager.

    5. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      I’ve worked places that require you to give 4 weeks’ notice, so they can replace you before you leave.

      Of course, the only people who did that were leaving for school, retiring, or negotiating an internal transfer. People who were going to another job gave 2 weeks notice or less, depending on how soon the new job needed them. People who rage-quit were also pretty common in that dysfunctional environment. I had one boss quit with less than one day’s notice, because she was told to come into work on her day off when she did not have childcare for her under 5s. Then they ranted about how unprofessional she was, quitting with no notice.

      Basically they made it so that anyone who left, would be labeled ineligible for rehire.

  11. Taniwha Girl*

    OP, the company had lots of opportunities to make these corrections before/without your input. That’s the job of being management/HR/CEO/etc! They’re in charge, it is their responsibility to look out for problems and find solutions! Even if it’s “oh, we seem to have miscommunications with other departments. I wonder how we can fix this”–there are people you can hire and pay to fix this stuff for you. There are books you can read, surveys you can conduct, websites (like this one) you can refer to.

    But that’s a lot of work and requires reflection and self-awareness. It also requires that they believe the current environment is bad (if it were bad, they’d want to change it too!). It’s much easier to ask the squeaky wheel to “bring me solutions not problems”, especially when that squeaky wheel is about to leave and then the problems are all gone.

    If in order to be happy, you need the company to change into a whole other company, maybe you should just join a whole other company. (After schooling of course, congrats on being accepted to your program.)

    1. JustaTech*

      Exactly. It’s one thing to ask “what are the problems that you are seeing”, as staff might see different problems to managers (and vica versa), but solutions are 100% management’s job.

      Like I can tell you we’ve got communication issues, but I can’t tell you how to fix them because I’m not allowed to talk to the other departments!
      This is just OP1’s manager passing the buck.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      “Bring me solutions, not problems” is a great way to encourage everyone never to bring you anything at all (and all the problems to just get worse).

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Exactly. Bad morale comes from the top. An IC can’t fix it. You’ll just end up a scapegoat.

      When I was younger I was fired from one job with the termination letter literally blaming me for bad morale. I still had friends there, and, sure enough, morale did not improve once I was gone. (IIRC, it got worse, because the supervisor that had been focused on bullying me spread his targets.)

      If you stay, they have no incentive to do the work to change their management problems. Please start looking for another job.

  12. tra la la*

    OP #1: Just go. You didn’t create those problems, they’re no longer yours to work around, you get to leave. Yay!

    1. Jennifer C*

      OP3: I got myself a “burner” phone to solve this problem. (I think that’s the right term.). The phone was $10 and I pay $15 per month for a certain number of minutes and text. I’ll give that number out to anyone on who needs to call me about work and don’t have to worry about people getting the number from caller ID. I can treat it like my desk phone by just turning it off at 5:00. It would be great if my employer paid for it, but it’s so cheap that I don’t really care about the expense.

  13. TCO*

    OP #1, I’ve been in dysfunctional places where it’s easy to hold out hope that you can really change things. Sometimes a conversation, or project, or meeting seemed like it was going to finally make things better. It never really did, not enough to make it worth staying.

    Your leaders either don’t want to change or they aren’t capable of doing so. Don’t put your career on hold to go through years of this frustrating cycle, and on your way out don’t give them more of your emotional energy than they’ve earned.

    1. OP #1*

      I was totally caught in this cycle too. I’m super grateful to see Alison’s reply AND all the commenters all saying to go. It would almost be easier if I hated the work itself but because I like it so much I think I’ve been a bit more reluctant to admit that the workplace itself is so bad.

      1. Sara without an H*

        You can surely find work you like at a company that isn’t this warped. Chalk this one up to experience, cut your losses and go. And congratulations on your acceptance to your program!

      2. Sharon*

        Agreed. I was in a company like this not too long ago. When the employee engagement survey results got bad enough, management and HR decided to do something about it. What they did? They implemented a grass roots culture change initiative. Yes, grass roots, meaning from the bottom up. It went about as well as you can imagine: many people terminated, many people quit, many people put on PIP, and the most toxic manager of all was promoted.

      3. Ama*

        I’ve been in that position, it’s really easy to get caught up in “but this program will absolutely suffer in quality/be eliminated if I leave and I don’t want that to happen.” And then I looked around and even the person who *created* that program I believed in so much had left for another position because the overarching situation at our employer was so bad. That’s when I realized I was in a no-win situation and started my own job search.

      4. Paulina*

        The request from your manager is a big signal that you’re right to go. It’s really not the job of a departing non-management employee to come up with solutions to serious problems with company culture.

  14. Phil*

    #5 I just got out of a meeting a few minutes ago where my boss’s boss had his camera freeze for a few minutes, right as he was taking a big bite out of his lunch. Made my day. :P

  15. Felis alwayshungryus*


    My dyslexic husband has an add on for his email client (Postbox) that automatically performs a spell check when he hits send. It’s saved him from many an embarrassment. Of course, it doesn’t fix quite/quiet-style typos but that’s something only careful proofing can address.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      There is also a setting in Outlook to run spell check when you hit send. I’ve had it turned on for year to save me from at least some of my typos. Since it also will trigger for various names and such in the email, it’s served as an “oops, I don’t actually want to send that yet” backup for me a few times too when I’ve hit send too fast.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        Yes! I didn’t see this before I posted something very similar above. I love that setting.

  16. Anonariffic*

    One nice thing about Google Voice- you can port the number out to another carrier later if you ever want to use it as its own phone. I set up my number years ago when I was in a similar position of occasionally needing to make calls from the field without sharing my personal number. When I was promoted to a position that did rate a phone, I paid Google $5 to free the number and our IT was able to have it transferred over to my new Verizon work cell so that I didn’t have to deal with updating my contact information everywhere.

    Besides wanting to make the transition as easy as possible, I also wanted to keep my number because it was personalized- Google Voice gives you some choice in what number you get as long as it’s available. Say my birthday was today, I was able to get the number 555-0702 with my local area code. That also made it much easier to remember the number to give to people when I was only using it once or twice a month.

    1. Donuts and Llamas*

      Google Voice is a great tool and I’ve used it in similar situations when I needed to be able to answer questions onsite at a large convention and didn’t want my personal # available (once some attendees realize you’re responsive, they will call you a thousand times for any penny-ante reason, like you’re their personal helpline!) Anyway, Google Voice works well and it can be shared among more than one number (in the instance of being a “call this number for problems” number). The only downside my team and I found was that we got a *lot* of wrong numbers – people calling a number that clearly belonged to a real person at some point. Not a dealbreaker, and YMMV, but just a heads-up.

    2. lemon*

      Ooo, that’s great to know! I’ve been wanting port my Google Voice number over to my iPhone for a while, but wasn’t sure if I could. I knew I could port a number in, but wasn’t sure about out. Thanks for the info!

  17. Kella*

    Op1, give your boss a list with just one item on it:

    1. Have upper management make and commit to a list of solutions to improve morale

    That’s the only solution that exists so it’s the only one you can give.

    1. Batty Twerp*

      On my first (clumsy) read-through, my first thought was “send a lightly edited version of your letter to AAM – it succinctly highlights the problem areas”, but then it occurred to me that they are asking for solutions – as in they already know there are communication problems and low morale etc., and my thought changed to “send them Alison’s answer!”
      (I’m fairly certain Alison has views on doing this for real, but seriously, you won’t want to be spending any time fixing problems that aren’t yours to fix. Management need to own the problems, AND come up with the solutions – it’s not an area that can be delegated). Be safe, be well, good luck in school.

    2. Forrest*

      I was going to say, “Hire someone at way above my paygrade to look at this situation and figure out what needs to change”. If upper management doesn’t already know what needs doing, they need to pay someone to figure it out!

      1. Asenath*

        Oh dear. In one long-ago job, management realized there were problems, couldn’t figure out what they were, and hired consultants for who knows how much money to figure it out. Now, my initial guess would have been that there was low morale due to, among other things, uncertainty about when lay-offs and series of sudden reorganizations (so you’d be doing something a bit different on a different team, or possibly everyone else in your group would be, and you’d be laid off). There was also a certain amount of chaos due to changing priorities and projects. We never did see the report of the consultants, but management organized a full-day off-site workshop with activities intended to improve our morale. Nothing changed with the organizational confusion.

        1. Sara without an H*

          Sigh. My employer pays for a professionally-run survey of employee engagement/satisfaction every other year. The results are posted. Committees are formed. Nothing ever changes.

          1. London Calling*

            We have professionally run surveys as well and surprise surprise, they are always overwhelmingly positive. They are also supposed to be anonymous, but the first question asked is ‘what department do you work in?’ we’re not a big company, so it isn’t a stretch to narrow down who might be unhappy in, say, a department of four; so of course, the unhappy people end up being a bit wary of completing the survey at all. Even more wary when they are told everything is just peachy, everyone loves each other and the same old problems just go on festering. What’s the point if no-one is listening?

            1. Batty Twerp*

              Are they also mandatory to complete? Ours comes with an engagement score, which you can pretty much translate to “whoever didnt fill it in REALLY isn’t happy”

              1. JustaTech*

                The engagement score is honestly worse, because they break it out by sub-departments, so when you’ve got a 75% response rate from a team of 4, well, everyone knows Ken didn’t fill out his survey because he refuses to lie on it.

                I’m sure there are ways for these surveys to be used well, but that requires a big enough group and, more importantly, for the people getting the data to not be punitive jerks.

              2. London Calling*

                I don’t think they are mandatory, but HR does keep a note of how many have been submitted and sends out reminders. I hear whispers that a few people have said ‘look., do you know what anonymous actually MEANS?’ but they are whispers only.

          2. JustaTech*

            Nothing changing would be an improvement over what happened to us two surveys ago: folks answered honestly “things are good but we’d like to do some more development of areas X and Y in preparation for project Z” and somehow this was interpreted as “we hate our job” and the CEO yelled (actually yelled) at the department head that we were all negative and if we didn’t have enough to do he could just fire us.
            So the next year the survey results (from those of us who filled it out, and we got yelled at again because some people refused) were basically like that song from the Lego movie “everything is awesome”, but the bigwigs completely missed the sarcasm.

        2. Forrest*

          Yes, we had a report from consultants about five years ago that apparently said lots of sensible things but which was put in a drawer and ignored. However, I didn’t just mean external consultants–the company could equally bring in a new manager with the power and backing of senior management to make the necessary changes. My point was that if they’re serious about making change, the first thing should be thinking about how much money they’re going to put into it, not just asking employees on their way out for a few suggestions.

        3. Lucia*

          Ha ha, so does my very large employer. Even before COVID, they were deliberately understaffing every division to save money, even though they were making money hand over fist. The survey, of course, showed massive burnout and morale problems. But they didn’t take the obvious solution which was to hire a more appropriate number of people to do the work. Instead, they decided to send everyone an email every month with useless “tips” to avoid burnout, such as taking deep breaths.

          1. OP #1*

            I keep popping into the comments and finding folks that work at my work’s doppelganger! We get those emails, too, with the added bonus of 7,000 colourful “positive thinking” sticky notes plastered across the community bulletin board. So helpful! Why didn’t I think of just taking a walk in the sun or meditating?

          2. London Calling*

            Anecdotal (and hence not to be relied on TOO much) but we have a company to whom we can self-refer for advice and help with work problems and issues. A colleague approached it and was told ‘we can’t deal with that, your company pays us, conflict of interest yadayada. Have you tried talking to your manager?’ (the one who was causing the stress in the first place).

          3. Curmudgeon in California*

            Ugggh! Yeah, when they start shoving sunshine and rainbows type suggestions to avoid burnout, that’s when I know that management really has no clue who or what is causing the burnout. That kicks my job search into high gear.

  18. Middle School Teacher*

    IP 3, there is an option (on iPhone at least) to turn off your caller ID. I’ve had to call loads of parents (who for obvious reasons should not get my number). On their phone it comes up as “blocked number”.

    1. pancakes*

      Who answers calls from a blocked number, though? I wouldn’t. I suppose it’s fine if you only need to leave them a message, but the solution Alison suggested avoids this problem.

      1. Middle School Teacher*

        My doctor calls from a blocked number. And every parent in our school was told to expect it. So to answer your question, lots of people.

  19. ElenaA*

    Op 1. This is my workplace! I started about a year ago. First I thought it was me. I asked questions, I tried to learn and “give myself some time” as everybody here kept saying. I asked guidance from my manager and seniors. Couple months ago they actually asked for ideas to improve our processes. I tried to raise some issues as: it seems like we could improve in these areas, and here is one way to start the change. I got a lot of yeses from my peers but total silence from management.

    1/3 of my team has left during the past year. I came to the same conclusion as Alison. The cahnge can only come from the top. So yes, go. Iam now looking, but its Hard. Good luck to you and congrats for school!

    1. OP #1*

      Oh my gosh, are you me? I went through almost the exact same thing, too! “Oh, it’s just an unusual workplace, I’ll adjust,” to “Hey, X Y and Z actually seem like not such a great ideas, can we try A B C?,” to just quietly screaming into a pillow, metaphorically. Our turnover has been soooo high, too. A huge waving red flag for me on top of a pile of other red flags. But now I’d added a few more red flag tip-offs to my radar, so, you live and you learn, I suppose.

      I know much it stinks, so I wish you all the very best in your job hunt! I hope something comes your way soon :)

      1. beetlebug*

        This could be my workplace, too. I loved everything Alison offered here. But, yes, it sounds like you are better off cutting your losses and moving on. A lot of this sounds so much like they want to pretend they’re listening, but not actually take the required steps to change things.

    2. Forrest*

      I’ve been in this situation too for the last couple of years. The difference is that several of our managers left in 2019, and there was finally a recognition by senior management that the people they had been hiring for the last 5-6 years *didn’t know how to do the job*, so they went out looking for someone from within the sector who already had a track record. He starts next week: we are all trying to manage our expectations and not expect everything to start changing on Day 1, but it’s haaaaard!

    3. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      When there’s total silence on any practical suggestion for improvement, you know that place sucks and is never gonna change.

      One place I worked at asked this of the staff and the feedback was stuff like better planning, better organisation systems and needing more people as everyone was burned out on overtime. What did we get? A f*cking Pac-Man machine.

      1. OP #1*

        Oh, Pac-Man, lucky! We got a fancy coffee machine (that costs money to use, of course) about three months ago. Weirdly, that didn’t seem to fix the problem either…

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          We got a nasty open plan with a foosball table and a pool table. For “openness and collaboration”, dontcha know.

          1. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

            LOL! My other favourite is more mandatory social events to “help everyone bond”… out of work hours, naturally.

        2. Former Admin turned Project Manager*

          We had a popcorn machine and reduced priced sodas in the vending machine for the department that had a beat up, nasty building. Because the main building on campus was fine, the perks were just for one department, though. When we got rid of the crappy building and everyone who had only worked in the crappy location moved to our new digs, some complained about paying full price for soda.

  20. ap*

    If you can connect to internet via ethernet cable rather than wifi, you will likely have much better quality. This is fastest & cheapest way to improve the reliability of your connection.

    Additionally, minimize other broadband use while you’re on a video interview. Take your cell off wifi. Don’t run other programs on your computer. Ask other people in your household not to use internet while you’re on an interview (definitely no streaming games, videos, music). Maybe annoying, but if you’re just talking the occasional hour here or there, it’s not too much to ask.

    Run a speedtest on your computer to see how fast your internet actually is. If your router is old, maybe get a new one.

    Lastly, call your internet provider and complain about cost/threaten to leave. Additional broadband is one of the cheaper/easier enticements a cable company can offer a customer.

    1. triplehiccup*

      I also use my phone for the audio connection on important video calls. That way even if my internet goes out or my VPN restarts (which it does all the time), I don’t lose the audio connection.

    2. Apfelgail*

      I don’t disagree? But want to note that in a lot of places, especially rural ones, there might well not BE any other internet providers, and no leverage in threatening to leave.

      This is one of the really worrisome things about COVID-19 WFH and online education. It’s great- if everyone has decent access to tech and the internet. Many people don’t.

      1. LawLady*

        Ugh, yeah, I live in a city, but my internet is part of my condo fees, and the condo board negotiates the contract with the internet company. So I have absolutely zero leverage.
        OP5, everyone knows that internet is glitchy right now. The infrastructure that was in place prior to the pandemic was not built for the way it’s now being used — for example, everyone in my residential building getting on video calls at once. I don’t think anyone is thinking it’s your tech prowess.

      2. ap*

        Yes, the things that can’t be fixed, can’t be fixed.

        I was trying to provide a checklist of low effort & cost fixes that typically make a significant difference. I had a broadcast webinar with 11 presenters, and predictably, the only one to have any trouble with dropping off was the one who hadn’t hardwired his computer to the internet.

    3. Willis*

      Also, if it’s been a while since you set up your internet service, you could see what other internet packages are available. I did this at the beginning of Covid…it had probably been 7 years since I set up my service and now my provider had a faster option for about two dollars more than I was paying.

      1. Evan Þ.*

        Or, if it’s been a while since you got your router, you can see what other routers are available. I looked a few months ago, got a new router, and got much faster speed.

  21. aepyornis*

    OP2: there are now excellent tools to correct typos in texts and emails (and which are on a completely different level from Word, which does not catch much). They can be used in your email software rather than requiring you to write emails elsewhere and copying and pasting.
    Re-reading emails can be tedious and can take a long time and a lot of energy for some people (and I sort of get a sense that it might be the case for you) while with these, you can go really quickly through an email before sending it and catch a majority of mistakes (maayyybeee still re-read it if you are sending a billboard to the printer, though). My partner has dyslexia and they really went from spelling mistakes in 1/3 to 1/2 of their words to almost none with these. As a non native speaker in English, I also find it very helpful. I use Antidote and Grammarly (that one is free) and I’m sure there are others.

  22. CoffeeLover*


    Honestly, I would take the time to respond because I think it’s fun. How often do you get an official channel to highlight major organizational problems. And you don’t even need to do anything about them once you identify them. I got such an opportunity after I left my first employer and I jumped at it. I knew even as I wrote my feedback that there was a 0% chance anything would change, but I still found the whole process cathartic. Of course, you should do this in a professional way and avoid any bridge burning if you want to go down this path.

    Do it if you think it’s fun, but know that you’re probably sending this feedback into the void. There’s at least some chance your manager won’t even read the whole thing.

    1. Esme*

      How often do you get an official channel to highlight major organizational problems

      Every time you do an exit interview, after the horse has bolted. And while it’s great you had fun doing this, wisened cynics like myself know it’s basically a total waste of time and energy…

      1. A*

        While I have also, unfortunately, shared that experienced – I don’t think the solution is to actively discourage people from at least trying to highlight the issues. That’s heading in the wrong direction.

        Not to say I disagree with Alison’s advice in this case, because I don’t think preparing a formal list will be beneficial to OP – but I do still think it is important to be transparent in exit interviews.

        1. OP #1*

          I do already have some specific items that I think would improve things generally for people on my team, should management decide to actually do anything. I’m happy to provide those suggestions to my manager (I have given it a LOT of thought already) but I’m also grateful for the comments encouraging me not to spend a ton of time or energy on it. If I wasn’t already so done with my employer I would probably have already been spending way too much time working on this “homework”! So I appreciate comments on both sides of it :)

  23. Kristine*

    OP #2
    I haven’t seen anyone mention yet the option to recall messages in Outlook desktop version. I use that a lot. Not to correct insignificant typos, but to correct information, add forgotten attachments etc. It will delete the original message, and – if you choose – replace it with a new version. Recipients will be notified that a message has been recalled. Also, works best inhius, not always with external email providers.

    How: open the sent message in your sent folder, select options -> recall message (if I remember correctly).

    1. PX*

      I’ve never seen an Outlook recall work the way its advertised (ie the way you describe). I’m not sure if its a setting thing in Outlook, but in my experience, all you get is the original email, a *second* email from Outlook saying *so and so tried to recall this message* and then the new email with whatever correction was made.

      So just an FYI, recalling may not be the best option. Just get used to the fact that people make typos and miss stuff in emails all the time, its not a big deal. If the email is that important, write it, let it sit in drafts for a while, look at it again, have someone else look at it if necessary before hitting send.

      1. No Name Yet*

        I’ve used it and seen it used with some frequency, and it feels like may 50/50 it works as advertised. I *think* the difference is whether the person has viewed the e-mail yet – if they have, then the recall ‘fails’, but if it’s still unread then it will ‘succeed.’ And I agree to not use it for minor typos – I mostly see/use it if the e-mail should be encrypted but accidentally wasn’t, or had really incorrect information (e.g., wrong date, outdated attachment). So if I need to recall something, I do it ASAP since it has the best chance of succeeding.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I regularly log onto my work email first thing in the morning to find that after I logged out the previous day, someone sent something and tried to recall it and sent it again, because I have the original, the notice of the attempted recall, and the replacement all lined up neatly in my unread mailbox.

      2. pancakes*

        That’s my experience too — receiving three emails when there should’ve and could’ve been just one. People who find themselves needing to do this frequently should experiment with taking out the recipient’s address and adding it back only after they’ve completed proofreading.

    2. Emma*

      This depends on your organisation’s setup and, if you’re sending external emails, the recipient’s setup.

      I had one recently where an external partner tried to remedy a data breach (they had accidentally left a few hundred volunteers’ personal email addresses exposed in the CC field) by recalling the email. I got the first email, followed by a second email notifying me that the sender wanted to recall it, followed by the corrected email – but all three emails remained in my inbox, fully visible and accessible.

      This feature has its place and can be useful if your org is set up to recall stuff automatically, but I think it would drive me up the wall if I routinely got emails in triplicate due to people trying to correct them by recalling!

      1. Delta Delta*

        I’ve never quite understood the email recall. Every tine I’ve gotten one I’ve already seen or processed the first email. The recall sort of screams “I screwed up! Pretend you don’t know what you just saw!”

        1. doreen*

          It depends on when you recall the email and how soon the recipient reads the email. I’ve almost always seen the original email, because I typically read my emails within a couple of minutes. My manager doesn’t always read her emails within a couple of days, so if I recall one I sent her five minutes ago, she won’t see the original email.

          1. Colette*

            I’m pretty sure that having your email open is enough to stop the message from being recalled properly. I’ve definitely come in to work to find an original message, the recall notice, and then the corrected message.

    3. JHB*

      I think it also depends on how the program is installed. When we had Microsoft Office (and Outlook) installed directly on our network, the recall was much cleaner. If recipient had not opened, message was removed as if never existed. Now that we have Office 365 and the cloud version, seems a little different. Definitely matters whether or not the message has been read. But, now also, those messages are downloaded to phones and various devices. So it’s not as simple a “wipe”. And there may well be configuration choices when the IT team sets it up.

  24. OP #1*

    And a fun-fact for everyone, of COURSE I thought this was my “dream job” when I accepted it! So as usual, Alison’s advice proves correct in all things. :)

    (I do already have a meeting scheduled to have this yucky conversation, so I’ll be reading all your comments! Thanks everyone and especially thank you Alison for your affirming words!)

    1. Time_TravelR*

      OP, I feel like we must be colleagues (although unfortunately, I think a lot of us feel that way). You can’t fix them. They have to figure it out themselves and fix it. Alison is right. Good luck on your future ventures!

    2. Anon for this*

      Hi OP#1
      I just realized that I actually have been able to create some change in my workplace in the years since I started reading AAM. I am not a manager but I focused on ways I could have some impact from the bottom up. I am place bound and I have decided to stick to this job for now so I thought, lets see if I can address the lack of communication and conflict avoidance and so many things from the bottom. I have been able to get some key safety changes surrounding Covid put in place and I just got asked to bring a communications tool from my dept to the whole org. Great right?

      But I learned yesterday that managers still don’t manage and that anything I have done is just a bandaid. I put lipstick on a pig and thought I was creating change. Change really does have to come from the top and “interest” on the part of management is not going to lead to change.

    3. Geek*

      I agree with Allison when she says don’t stay in the hopes culture will improve. Believe what you see and experience. Promises are just that.

      That said, I do like a quote from Teddy Roosevelt: “Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining.”

      You mentioned that you gave your boss a heads-up. That leads me to believe that you have a positive relationship with her. Otherwise, why do that?

      I’d tend to give her the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy for you to say one thing and her to think you mean something else. Providing a possible solution doesn’t mean you’re doing the work of leadership. Rather, it could be useful to help her understand the problems you are trying to highlight.

      If the solution to “terrible communication” is “have someone proof-read memos before they are sent out” that’s an entirely different problem than if the solution is “send out monthly department briefings instead of doing so once every 3 years.” Both are completely different from “validate and sign-off unclear requirements before projects are delivered” but that’s also a possible solution to terrible communication.

      Your proposed solutions may help define the problems.

      That said, don’t spend an inordinate amount of time–no personal time at home–and don’t set yourself up for disappointment by thinking the company will implement any of your advice as written.

      1. OP #1*

        We do have an overall positive relationship. But I also think my manager is just kind of a bad manager. She’s really out of touch — barely spends any time actually speaking with staff, her knowledge of what we do day-to-day is really outdated, she doesn’t pass along important information from upper management… things like that. So while I give her the benefit of the doubt on being a lovely person who probably thinks good things about her department, it feels like it would take an 8-hour meeting just to make sure we are on the same page, and I don’t think I have the energy for that.

        I’m glad to offer “communicate better” as a bullet point. But I’m not sure trying to fuss over what that looks like will make any tangible difference, especially since I’m not sure how willing they are to act on any I suggest. “Stop using 3 different chat services to communicate between staff” is just as important as “have an easily-accessible document on how to apply for time off, because right now all we have is 6 conflicting emails about it from 3 different people”, and I wouldn’t want to give the impression that fixing one doesn’t mean they don’t need to fix the other.

  25. armetta*


    Call in! Most (all?) major vc services have a call in number to join the meeting. Mute your computer’s audio and turn off the microphone. Join the video conference via computer just for video, and call in for audio.

    I spent a few weeks doing this for all meetings, as my computer was on its last legs and crashing constantly. It works seamlessly.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      This does work – make sure you mute yourself on your computer or it echos very, very badly.

      Also be prepared for your IT dept to get angsty, as apparently this increases the # of “people” on the call by Zoom’s metrics, and if you go over a certain number of people per call, the rates go up, or something like that. We had a *lot* of people calling in like that and doubling the number of connections.

    2. JessicaTate*

      Yes! This is my regular approach. I figure it reduces a little bit of bandwidth to not have my voice also going over the internet connection, and as someone above said, if the video/computer goes out, your voice is still connected – so you can hear them and explain what’s going on. It’s one extra step, but I think the benefits are worth an extra step.

      I also have my computer plugged in via Ethernet, so I’m not relying on WiFi. And if it’s a really important call or things seem to be heading toward glitchy, I might also make sure I shut down all other apps on my computer — email, browser, phone using wifi, whatever.

    3. IsItOverYet?*

      Also, try plugging in with an Ethernet cord (you can get really long ones) or if you can’t do that – sit as close it as possible.
      Restart your internet and your computer an hour before and have as few things open as possible. And if you live with others, ask them to refrain from doing much during the interview.
      You can also test your speed and see if it’s anywhere close to what you are paying for (granted in most cases you are paying for UP to that speed) – if it’s really slower than it should be google how to fix it* or try buying a better router (but I realize it may not be in your budget right now)
      *A coworker was having issues and then they did something to their router (sorry I don’t have more details) and it really improved
      Good luck

  26. Esme*

    #2 So far, I’ve seen lots of comments suggesting you use a setting to delay your emails from sending. I’d just like to say I really don’t recommend you do that, as helpful and enticing as it might sound.

    It sounds like you need to work on waiting to send emails. If you know you have that recall period, then you’re probably not going to get into the habit of checking your emails and waiting to send them – you might rely on proofreading way too fast during that period, or you might send them even more impulsively because you see it as a safety net. It’s moving the problem, not solving it.

    And secondly, sometimes it won’t work. Maybe your device crashes or someone interrupts you with an urgent issue or the fire alarm goes off and then bang goes your safety net – which you now need more as you’ve got into the habit of relying on it.

    What you really need to do is slow down. You know you have a habit of sending emails impulsively. The best thing you can do is either delete the ‘to’ address, or write in another program, so you cannot send the email until it is ready.

    Also, make a checklist for yourself, put it somewhere you can see it. and go through it when you think an email is ready to send.

    You absolutely can send a second email to correct mistakes, but it can cause problems (eg if the person misses it or forwards the first one) and it’s likely to irritate people. If you want to overcome this, don’t use the delay feature – try to make a whole new routine.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I think the OP is/has worked on slowing down and needs more than that. I think the delay is a great idea. I dont see anyone who suggested and uses it saying it does not work sometimes. And the times it did not work would presumably be infrequent?

      Also, how would any of these lead an online tool to fail?

      Maybe your device crashes or someone interrupts you with an urgent issue or the fire alarm goes off and then bang goes your safety net.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I’m assuming Esme means if you set your delay for 30 minutes and then the fire alarm goes off, you’re going to use up your 30 minutes evacuating the building, waiting for the all clear, and getting back to your desk. But as you point out, those things are going to be infrequent and aren’t (in my opinion anyway) a good reason to avoid a tool that could be really helpful.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          I see. I thought fail meant the email did not send at all.

          Right now 100% of the OPs emails get sent with out review. So I would guess the tool could still be useful.

      2. doreen*

        I think what Esme is referring to is the following situation- I set things up to delay sending an email by 10 minutes to allow me time to catch mistakes after hitting “send” . Something happens in that 10 minutes ( the network goes down, the fire alarm goes off, or I get interrupted by something urgent) and by the time I’m able to look at the email again, the ten minutes have passed and the email has been sent. Whether it’s infrequent or not depends on the type of work you do – I get interrupted by something urgent multiple times a day, so setting up a delay would frequently fail for me.

    2. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I mean, it’s probably useful for LW to *try* it and see if it works. They say they know they need to slow down already, so telling them to slow down is…not useful advice. No tool is going to work 100% of the time, but that’s a crap reason to not try it.

    3. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Using the 30 second window where you can recall the email does at least sidestep the issue of where you proofread an email 4 times, intend to proofread it a fifth time, get distracted with a new crisis, and then send the email 4 days later. TIL.

  27. Wander*

    #2 – I don’t know what your work setup is like, but if you’re in a relatively private area, I’ve found that reading what you’ve written aloud can often help you catch problems. It forces your brain to slow down some.

    #1 – I feel this so very much. I’ve been at a workplace that realized its morale was abysmally low, for much the same reasons as yours is. Their solution to that was to have all of the non-managerial employees group up and make action plans on how to make things better. Since the actual answers would have been more along the lines of management needs training, and no one currently employed wanted to risk suggesting that, basically nothing came of it except extra meetings no one wanted to attend. Since you’re leaving anyway, you could try gently suggesting management should be the ones considering how to deal with those problems, but I don’t think anyone would blame you if you didn’t.

  28. LGC*

    I needed to see LW1 this morning – I feel like I’m in a similar situation. (The most I’ll say right now is that I’ve learned a lot about my job in the past three and a half months, and more than I really wanted to.)

    But yeah, LW1. You have the luxury of being able to escape this hive of evil bees. They should really be the ones fixing themselves.

  29. BEE*

    Re: slow video interviews. My organisation recently conducted a round of interviews over zoom. The person who ended up being offered the role had her video streaming upside down for the whole interview! We were on a tight schedule and didn’t have time to troubleshoot it, but she was still the top candidate in that her answers to the interview questions were insightful and clearly demonstrated that she was going to be a great fit for the role. The fact that her face was upside down for a half hour was a little distracting but it didn’t override that her skills and experience were what we needed for that position. Admittedly, the role wasn’t in IT where it might have indicated a lack of technical know-how…

      1. Colette*

        My guess is she was using a phone or tablet that was confused about which way was up.

          1. Autumnheart*

            That’s a setting you can change, btw. (Unless you have it that way on purpose, in which case never mind!)

  30. hbc*

    OP5: Anyone reasonable already knows this, and unfortunately 1000 reminders won’t convince the stubborn or thick. We used to have regular video conference calls with our main office overseas, and they would complain nearly every time about the poor quality and ask us to fix it. I would remind them every time that our outsourced IT had not found any problems on our end but they should talk to their in-house IT to come up with something that would prove whose problem it was. We even had several times when outside callers saw us just fine and saw glitches from HQ, and it still didn’t sink in. For over a year. It finally took the boss calling in from his house down the street from HQ and seeing us perfectly to figure out it was their issue.

    This might be discouraging, OP, but let me assure you that this was 100% representative of management’s approach to lots of issues. Good, functional workplaces are not holding things like this against you.

  31. Time_TravelR*

    OP1: “That kind of change needs to come from the top, and it will only happen if top-level management is deeply bought into the need for it.”
    100% what Alison said. I have beat my head against the wall for several years trying to coach my own boss into doing something to improve the workplace and morale but he is a lot of the problem and can’t see it. Until he starts changing, and not just for a week or two and then back to his old ways, things will never change. Weirdly, the team I am on works really well together and we have found ways to work around the dysfunction.

  32. Time_TravelR*

    OP #4: Start right now by putting together a book (of sorts) that lays out what someone in your position needs to know. Include as much information as possible. In my office, we maintain an electronic location for all kinds of standard operating procedures, lists of links that someone in our positions would need, etc. It’s not up to you to hire and train your replacement, but you could sure make it a lot easier on anyone that follows you by having everything easily accessible for them.

  33. Christy*

    OP2: I won’t correct typos unless I have misspelled the name of the person I’m emailing.

    And for what it’s worth, it sounds to me like you could stand to slow down in general. There’s some large-scale habits we all need to adjust for our jobs (mine is procrastinating!) in order to be successful. Part of that is finding systems and tools that work for you to combat the habit (like automatic email delays and turning on the spellcheck tool, or the pomodoro method). The other is to find jobs that turn the trait into an advantage. Once upon a time I recall Alison saying that she was always finding typos in others’ writing and she really loved a job where that was her actual job. Surely there is a job out there where instant response (even with typos!) really is the most important thing. Maybe you could pivot to that!

  34. Bazinga*

    LW 4: if you have a lot of institutional knowledge that others don’t, maybe you could start working on some sort of reference for your replacement. You have a year, so as you do things, just make note of who you contact, or how you do that thing, so after you leave your coworkers, and eventually your replacement, can have a smooth transition.

  35. Dust Bunny*

    LW1: Don’t bother. Your boss wants easy solutions like pizza parties or trivial employee awards, not solutions that require actual work. Best of luck getting out of there.

  36. Luna*

    LW1: Since you are leaving, anyway, and likely won’t use this place as reference, why not go out with a bang? Leave a list of propose solutions to the problems. “Communicate better with everyone. Don’t play favorites. Give clear instructions to each employee.”, etc, and go. She wants solutions, you give her those in plain and simple words. Other than that, it’s not your monkeys, so it’s not your circus anymore.

  37. Glomarization, Esq.*


    Since you work for a state agency, I’d check with your supervisor, office handbook, IT person, and anybody else who may come to mind to see if there’s a policy in place for handling this. Also, I wonder if there isn’t some kind of sunshine law or privacy/legal regulation in place for your agency that addresses using personal cell phones or third-party solutions for official agency communications.

    If it were me, I wouldn’t adopt a solution unilaterally without asking around for some authority.

    1. WellRed*

      Agreed! I feel like the state agency part got overlooked in the solutions offered.

    2. JHB*

      #3 Definitely – check with your supervisor! Join with others as a group to push back. Your agency should have a plan in place for this. I’m also with a state government agency and we were issued “soft” phones, like Jabber – virtual phones where you connect with a headset via your computer.

      While, honestly, I think we ALL use our personal phones for some works stuff, you do really need to think that through. With public sector, your phone then potentially becomes subject to open records requests (work-related). Your agency will have a Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy. You may want to check that also.

      Personally, I HATED having two phones, one work, one personal. It might be okay in this situation, always at your desk. In normal life, on the go, I found it a hassle to keep up with two and much more likely to leave one behind. “Ready to leave, got my phone in my hand, good to go. Oops. That was my personal phone. Office phone still sitting at home on the charger.” Not to mention the bulk and weight. And then if I found an app I really liked, had to decide about loading/buying it twice. But many people do manage two phones.

    3. Brett*

      Seconding the check on sunshine laws. If you use your personal phone for state business, you can end up having it swept up in a records request. This is not a great thing to have happen.

  38. NP204*

    I’ve always been a hard no about using my personal phone for work – I know too many people given work phones or a cell phone allowance for using theirs for work to use mine for free. It’s also boundary setting as it allows me to be clear the only way to reach me by phone is through my work number and when the work day is done you won’t be hearing from me. Many people mentioned the *67 to block. Thankfully my supervisors are understanding about not wanting to give personal numbers out (although more and more people in my field do so willingly for some reason). They also know that some people won’t be able to get our calls due to not accepting blocked numbers.

  39. Mighty Mouse*

    OP 1:. When one of my coworkers from my last job from hell complained about the morale in our tiny office our boss had a morale meeting that turned into “the beatings will continue until morale improves.” We actually had to rate our morale and what we thought our co-worker’s was. She read them in front of us and blew a gasket. She didn’t care that the admins were bullies and tried to get their supervisors fired (they cried when called out and nothing was done), that we were working insane hours and threatened with MORE work for asking for some adjustments (adding weekend hours and essentially doubling our on call time) or that Boss expected everyone to be as personally invested in our clients and her business as she was while paying peanuts and gaslighting people out of reminding her of promised raises. She thought having some lunches would solve the problem (we had one that only a few people weren’t scheduled with clients could attend and the second was cancelled by one of the bullies because she didn’t want food brought in). Boss demanded we come up with lists to improve morale. As far as I know, no one did. One person considered mentioning outside of work activities and was shot down by the group because we didn’t want to spend more time together.
    You can’t fix a foundation that’s completely rotted, especially on your way out.

    1. OP #1*

      Oh, WOW. That sounds awful. The lunch thing is so relatable, too — we had a catered lunch planned, specifically for our department, that ended up being attended almost entirely by other people because (surprise, surprise), the staff who booked it didn’t look at any of our schedules, and most of us couldn’t make it due to meetings, etc.

      Glad to hear that it was your last job from hell, though!

    2. Goldenrod*

      “You can’t fix a foundation that’s completely rotted, especially on your way out.”

      So true! And Alison’s advice is spot on. The manager is just trying to pretend that she gives a shiz for her own self-image and to feel “professional.” And to perform “caring.” But with deep toxic work culture issues, the fish stinks from the head! Unless there is new leadership, I doubt anything will change. And it’s not OP’s job to fix it!

      OP – Get out of there and never look back! :) (and congrats on your new opportunity!)

  40. Delta Delta*

    #2 – Lots of people are suggesting to slow down. Great suggestions! Especially if you’ve got an autocorrect setting, it may be that you actually type one thing but it corrects itself to something different. Let me give you a great example. I’m involved in business partnership in industry X. Earlier this year there was a news story in that industry where some people were arrested. One of our partners emailed about the incident and meant to say “put ’em in jail!” but ’em autocorrected to “me” and it gave everyone a lot of concern that that person – who is in charge of some sensitive stuff, business-wise – was involved in the scandal. There had to be an email to correct the first because people were freaked out that somehow we were all potentially going to be connected. Had that person slowed down and read the email before sending it, there would have been zero freaking out about this. Also, that person ended up looking kind of silly.

  41. LGC*

    LW3 – I’m just wondering…if you’re able to receive your voice mail through email, would you also be able to install an app to access your office phone? I’m asking because I have a similar setup, and for the longest time I just stuck to having my voice mails emailed to me. And then when I got forced into WFH, I looked into it and found that I could just install a desktop client (and phone app) that picks up my office calls/shows office calls.

    I’m not sure, because it depends on your system. (We use Jive/GoToConnect. Also, we’re private; you work for a public employer, so there might be further restrictions.) But that might seamlessly solve your problems.

      1. LGC*

        Thanks – that gives LW3 a pretty easy way to ask! I wasn’t sure of the general term.

  42. AlNotTheOneandOnly*

    #1 – From now on you have a shining example of exactly what bad managment is. The management have serious issues so they ask you, an employee, to do the work and tell them whats wrong. No, the responsibility is theirs. They will ignore everything you say anyway becuase a Manager didn’t do it. Alison is bang on, don’t waste your time.
    If they have not noticed the work culture already they are incompetent or if they have but can’t fix it they are also incompetent, or they know about the work culture and simply don’t care, guess what, incompetent.
    Leave now and enjoy school

  43. Kate*

    LW1 – maybe I’m reading too much into your letter, but your comment “applied to school on a whim” stood out to me.

    Attending a (what sounds like a graduate program? – some type of training) is NOT something to do on a whim, particularly if it is going to be a large financial investment. School is NOT an escape from a job. It is something you should do when you know exactly what you want to get out of it, what you will do when you’re done, and with the understanding there isn’t any plausible way to advance where you want to be WITHOUT school.

    I say this as someone who racked up $76K in debt attending school without a clear direction of where it was going to lead me. My choices for the last 5 years were then made out of a need to pay off that debt, and I only now feel free again. So obviously I’m very biased! – but I do want to caution, school is a very, very expensive escape hatch, particularly when – as you noted – you actually still like the work you do.

    Hopefully you’ve already thought through all of these things and can roll your eyes at my advice as a “well, duh” moment. But I’ve seen too many people (including myself) go to school just because it seems like an escape option or they didn’t know what to do – and then literally pay for it for years.

    1. Ginger Baker*

      While I am very down for careful consideration of assuming large amounts of doubt, I do want to say I decided to *finally* finish my bachelors degree (more than 20 years after I first attended college and with a short second stint in between) “on a whim” in December and was enrolled by January of this year. I’ve used that exact phrase – “on a whim” – to describe this decision on multiple occasions since and also described this and some similar decisions lately as the “fuck it, why not” goal-setting process, ha. Of course I can’t speak for LW1, but for me that “spurious” decision was actually backed by years and years of soft-intention followed by suddenly hitting a point of “why the hell not”. (And in my case anyway, taking on a level of debt that is more akin to several years of weekly drinks with friends and family pizza delivery, while still working, so very financially feasible for me.)

      1. OP #1*

        Hey, congrats on making that decision! That’s kind of it in my case, too. “On a whim”, aka, it has been brewing for some time but under the surface or as a “maybe one day” thing. “On a whim” in the sense that I didn’t, like, call a friend a dozen times to have a long conversation about it — rather, I did a bit of research on my own time, and found something that fit and is in line with my skill set, opens up possibilities for the future, etc etc.

        I really appreciate what Kate’s raised here, because that concern is a real one. Probably ten years ago I would have bristled at the suggestion I wasn’t considering the financial part, but only because ten years ago I WOULDN’T be thinking about it, LOL. But I’m older and wiser now, and though I’m also not without my share of debt (or “doubt”, I love your typo here Ginger!) and I am fortunate enough that I have enough to pay for the bulk of the tuition costs up front, and would likely be able to finance the rest with a part-time job or ramping up a side-hustle.

  44. Aquawoman*

    Re LW 4, I’d also suggest imparting some of the institutional knowledge to others to the extent possible. If you’re the only person who knows about teapot import taxes, get someone on your team to help with that task. Write down processes and contacts, that sort of thing.

  45. BridgeNerdess*

    LW#3 Jabber and Teams are great options. The state agencies here are using Teams and that’s why my company uses, too. There are some privacy issues that I’ve read about with Jabber and I’ve had more issues getting that to work consistently. Microsoft Teams has an app you can download to your phone, so outgoing calls will show up as your work number and incoming calls to your work number will ring your cell. Voice messages are saved in Team, not on your cell, so you can access them from you computer, work phone, or cell phone. Even if you don’t use it for anything else, Teams would be worth it to make outgoing calls in your case. If you’re using Microsoft office, it should be free to install.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Teams has to be set up to handle actual calls at the server level though – my org is still in the process of switching from Jabber to Teams, and our phones are still run through Jabber, so the only voice “calls” I can do via Teams (on either my computer or from the mobile app) are Teams-to-Teams, nothing involving an actual phone number until they finish the switch-over. (And lord, I wish they’d hurry up and get on that, I hate Jabber. :P )

  46. Employment Lawyer*

    OP3: There are also various other services (Comcast Business is one) which allow you to call from your cell phone “as if it’s your business line.” Talk to your IT department.

  47. LQ*

    OP#3 – I’m at a state agency and I’ve got to be REALLY hard-pressed to use my personal cell and that’s just for coworkers. There are definitely data requests that can include personal devices if you use it.

    Other people have made good suggestions about other tools. I’d also check with your boss or your IT shop for something like a SOHO router that will let you plug in your desktop phone.

  48. Texan In Exile*

    OP #1, don’t waste your time! When I left OldJob, the VP asked me why everyone kept quitting. I can’t remember how many resignations in the year and a day I was there, but there were a lot.

    I wrote him a three-page memo with very specific issues that were killing morale and gave it to him a few days before I left.

    He never spoke to me again. He wouldn’t even make eye contact with me.

    And in my exit interview with HR, when I mentioned the issues to HR, the HR rep sighed and said, “Yeah. We know. We keep hearing that about corporate finance.”

    So. Everyone knew. Nobody did anything.

  49. D3*

    I seriously hate it when managers expect their employees to solve problems. Employees shouldn’t be expected to solve problems, that’s the manager’s job!
    I’ve had managers who have the “policy” of “don’t bring me a problem without a solution” and it really sucks because:
    1. I don’t have the authority to solve problems like they do.
    2. I don’t have the *perspective* they do to know what solutions are viable and what solutions are not.
    3. I’ve been told “This won’t work. Come talk to me again when you have something that will.” (See above) – and then the manager does nothing.
    4. I often don’t even bother raising problems any more because I *know* I’ll be expected to come up with the solution and/or manager won’t do their job.
    So don’t waste your time making a list. Just leave and wash your hands of the place and let your manager do their own job. This is the manager putting it on you instead of doing their job. This is deflection designed to make you FEEL like you can make a difference.
    But that place is not fixable. Leave.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Odds are they don’t actually care about solutions; they just want everyone to shut up and go away, and they want to pretend the problems don’t exist.

  50. CommanderBanana*

    OP #1, it’s a trap! I actually wrote a question about this to Alison years ago, because I couldn’t figure out why managers kept asking for feedback, the ignoring, shooting down, or outright punishing people who provided it.

    She said that “asking for feedback” is something managers are told they should do, so they’re checking that box, but most often there’s no real intention behind it. I’ve worked in some dysfunctional workplaces that spent tons of money on consultants to fix culture problems, but would never actually fix the culture problems. Also, if they’re only asking you as you’re on the way out, that’s a dead giveaway that they’re ticking a “ask why they left” box.

  51. reelist1*

    #5- I had the most horrible voice over internet call interview. Someone on the panel had their phone and computer on speaker and for the entire 30 minute interview EVERY WORD I SAID ECHOED. ECHOED. echoed. I was thrown off, but it was for a State agency with strict rules about interviewing and they would not/could not reschedule.
    Did the whole thing, I felt my answers were short and horrible, didn’t hear back for 3 weeks. Then I got the offer. I was their first choice, they were super impressed with how I handled the situation and said my answers were far and above other candidates (then he added, I probably shouldn’t tell you that).
    Just power through. Note to them that you’ve had slow downs, possibly due to so many working from home and continue! Treat it like any other professional challenge you’ve had at a job.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I had that happen on a credit card inquiry call last week–I had submitted payment and they hadn’t posted it. It was all I could do to hold it together and not hang up and call back later; I can’t imagine getting through an interview like that.

      Congratulations are well in order!

    2. virago*

      Oh, wow! Go, you! That echo effect is such a distraction — I’m impressed that you not only managed to ignore it but also were able to weigh the questions well enough to deliver thoughtful answers.

  52. SJJ*

    OP#2 – If your email client offers a delay option, I’d recommend using it. I’ve caught a couple things that way, and it also helps when accidentally hitting send when you didn’t mean to.

    Also – don’t beat yourself up over it. A few years ago, I was on a large corporate email distribution where someone meant to type that our new teapots were being housed in a local “warehouse” but mistyped the word and it autocorrected that our teapots were in a local “wh@rehouse”. The person lived, while embarrassed for a small amount of time :)

  53. Jostling*

    OP3, if you’re getting your voicemail via email, there’s a good chance that your telecom provider is sophisticated enough to have an app for that, either as a “softphone” program that you run on your computer or as an app for your cell phone. (Mitel/Shoretel and Jive/GoToConnect are the two that I know for sure, but it’s an increasingly common offering.) I have an app on my phone that allows me to place and receive calls from my work number using my personal cell. Of course, if that’s the case it’s odd that your company hasn’t already explored that option, but it may be worth bringing up to your IT and management teams. They may have considered and rejected it early in the pandemic, but now that it’s looking like more companies will be shifting to permanent part- or full-time WFH models, it’s worth revisiting. This discussion is also an opportunity to discuss the fact that you deserve a phone stipend if you’re using your personal phone for work.

  54. I'm just here for the cats!*

    lW 3 see if your company has an app to call from your desk phone. My job uses Ciscovjabber and when we were sent to work from home we had to have it set it up so that we can make phone calls from our cell phone, but it makes it look on caller id that it’s the office number. I’m not sure exactly how it works, as I don’t have a personal office number so I wasn’t included for the training. But it has helped my co workers so much who don’t want needy students or parents calling their cell phones all the time.

  55. Spek*

    #3 be sure you do your research or bring it up with your tax professional if you don’t do your own taxes – since you are using your personal cell phone for work, and the company is not paying for the phone, you may be able to write off some or all of your phone bill at tax time.

    1. Brett*

      They work for a state agency, so unreimbursed employee expenses are not deductible anymore unless they are a fee-based official (which means they are paid directly by the public out of fees and not paid a salary out of government funds). That changed in 2017 I think?

  56. MCMonkeyBean*

    For #2 – The only time I would reply to address typos are if either the type changes or confuses the message (like forgetting the word “not” or something like that), or if I misspell someone’s name I have in past sent a quick followup email to apologize for that.

    For #4 – One thing I really recommend if you know this far in advance that you’ll be leaving–if you don’t already have it, start preparing a *lot* of documentation. Even for little things. When I gave notice last year I was able to give three weeks notice and say “here is a folder full of documentation I’ve made to help facilitate the transfer or processes and to be a resource for questions in the future” and it really helped things go smoothly and left them with a good final impression (which was good because I ended up disliking the company I moved to and reapplying back with my original company haha)

    1. OP4*

      Thanks, this seems to be what everyone is suggesting. I’ve started working on doing this!

  57. Jill*

    #3, your IT department/phone company might just need to activate the dialing out function on your office phone! Most of the time they ask for calls to be forwarded and forget about the other way.

  58. Jennifer C*

    OP3: I got myself a “burner” phone to solve this problem. (I think that’s the right term.). The phone was $10 and I pay $15 per month for a certain number of minutes and text. I’ll give that number out to anyone on who needs to call me about work and don’t have to worry about people getting the number from caller ID. I can treat it like my desk phone by just turning it off at 5:00. It would be great if my employer paid for it, but it’s so cheap that I don’t really care about the expense.

  59. Sleepy*

    Strongly recommend Google Voice numbers! I had a super pushy colleague who wouldn’t stop contacting me on my personal cell on my off hours. I blocked her on my personal cell, told her I got a new phone number, and gave her a Google Voice number. I disabled notifications for that number so now I can check it during work hours at my leisure. It’s done wonders for my mental health.

  60. HillstoDieon*

    #3 I’m with you. I’m one of those state departments calling in to the state agency. I’ve used my personal cell phone to call the state agency because I’ve had to but I am only communicating with employees and coworkers by zoom and email. I’m just putting my foot down about it though my manager hasn’t brought it up yet. I’ve had coworkers ask about it when I say “I can’t make outgoing calls”. We have limited usage of Google voice and I’m not sure if they would issue us a stipend or a reimbursement for using our personal phone. Until we have those options I’m going to put down about using my personal phone. Which I think I’m in the right to do, though let me know if I’m incorrect.

  61. Steveo*

    LW4 – the company WILL survive without you and by announcing early you are only hurting yourself. Even CEOs of Fortune 500 companies don’t give that much notice.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They give quite a bit of notice…you just don’t hear about it publicly until a few weeks out.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      OP4: I wouldn’t give notice until two weeks or so. Earlier this week we had a letter from a manager whose employee was retiring in a few months, and the manager wanted to force them out early.

  62. Spills*

    Oh! I have a tip for the typo emails, that a coworker taught me, and has saved me many a time (I’m unfortunately also the “moving too fast” type). You can set a delay on your emails in Outlook, so that they will sit in your outbox for a designated period of time. I set a 1 minute delay on mine, and it allows me to go back in and edit if I missed something or thought twice about something and want to rephrase.

  63. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – Your manager is terrible. Even though they were receptive to listening to your concerns, it is 100% not your problem to come up with solutions to those concerns. And it’s ridiculous that your manager thought it was okay to ask (although ti sounds like par for the course at your company). Go to school and wave goodbye to that toxic environment.
    #2 – You definitely need to slow down if you’re noticing typos in the corrections to your typos. If I see something with a typo I think nothing of it – we’re human and we make mistakes. Plus I hate unnecessary emails (I don’t need to be thanked 20 times a day for doing my job). So the correction emails would drive me more crazy than something with typos. Slow down and take your time, re-read BEFORE you hit send, and let it go if there is a typo.

  64. Jean*

    OP1 – Alison’s advice is very good here (as always), but if I were in your shoes, I’d be very tempted to take this as an opportunity to speak truth to power. Your manager asked for your feedback, so if you’re so inclined, give it honestly. Let her know that the solution to the morale problem is for management to start doing its job. Even the fact that she asked you to provide this information (!) is a symptom of the over-arching problem, which is that management is not managing. They’re either ignoring issues or foisting them off on people who aren’t managers to deal with. Either way – best of luck with school.

  65. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Notice periods. This also depends on the size of your company and your position. Being someone in small-business, if I give two weeks it’s a huge issue and I only do it if I’m done with someone, like burn that bridge and dance in the ashes style of done.

    I’ve also always trained whomever was taking over for me. I have even gone back to train after the fact when the first one usually falls through for various reasons [mainly small business owners having bad hiring skills…]

    But most people are not in that position, most can have their duties and projects taken over relatively easily because they have a bigger structure in place and more people who know how to do each thing! Which means there’s no reason to stretch your neck out for anyone and give them any more notice period that necessary.

    I have seen people who are moving or going back to school stretch it out for a month or six weeks, just to try to give them time to not have that “gap” between the hiring of someone else. But again, that’s just their style and it’s never been an issue. nobody treats them like “dead man walking” or ghosts them. That’s so weird that people act so rudely to someone just because they’re leaving for totally normal things. It’s different if you resign dramatically and then go “But I’ll hang out for another six months.” but yeah “I’m going back to school in the fall” in the Spring is completely normal and then we are like “Okay, it usually takes a month to hire, so we’ll list it a month before you leave to avoid too much of a gap.” and yeah, if the person can help train whomever comes next, bonus.

  66. JHB*

    #4 – I think the 2 week notice is certainly standard, but it very much depends on office culture. There are a lot of supportive environments where longer notice is taken in stride:
    ** a planned retirement that might be announced MONTHS in advance
    ** someone quitting to go back to school (and office knows this)
    ** situations like military spouses where you know you are moving in X months
    ** someone working – even full-time – while in school and pursuing a different kind of job once graduating.

    I worked full-time, had a “real” office job my last year two years of college. Everyone knew I wasn’t staying after graduation. It was common knowledge and part of the plan.

    On the other hand, I worked for a small company with financial issue that faced several layoffs. They were so supportive of their employees. I was in 3rd wave of layoffs, along with company president. They gave us 3 months notice, told us free to spend as work time seeking a job as well as transitioning projects, free to use office resources. SOUNDED good, but it quickly became a problem. We were lame ducks, not in the loop on decision making. Awkward dealings with those not laid off. No matter how logically we understood it was just finances, not personal – hard not to be bitter. Company really tried to support us, but it went on too long and devolved into a bad situation.

    1. OP4*

      Thanks. This job is in academia. In my office it is not uncommon for people to be hired with the knowledge that they are working for one or two years and then planning to move on, usually to some sort of academic program. But I am not one of those people. I’ve also been there longer than mostly everyone else, and I sometimes get the sense that no one thinks I’m ever going to leave!

      1. JHB*

        #4 I get where you are coming from being a long term employee and hub of institutional knowledge. Under any circumstances, there’s nothing wrong with changing jobs. You aren’t an indentured servant.

        But still, I do think there’s a bit of a different mindset about someone moving to be close to family or because a spouse got transferred. I honestly think people are more accepting because “she’s not LEAVING us to go work somewhere else; she’s MOVING.” The emotions around it are different.

        So it just comes back to your office culture and your manager. With my current manager, I’d have no problem sharing long term plans and no concerns about my job. But there have been past situations, where I wouldn’t have been so free with the information.

  67. TootsNYC*

    #4: Start a “data dump” for your institutional knowledge now, well before you even come close to moving.

    Create procedures lists; update phone lists; grab a colleague and ask them to come along with you to learn how to do something.
    Any small organizational things you can streamline, do. Any wasted motion, eliminate now.

    And also know that the organization will be FINE without your institutional knowledge. They’ll figure it out–it’s not all that hard.
    And if they don’t, that’s on them. It either won’t matter, or it will, and they’ll cope somehow.

    (I have a journalist friend who was one of the few holdovers, and when a new staffer would say, “let’s do a story on X!” she would say, “We did that three months ago, so we might need to tweak the focus.” If she hadn’t been there, they’d have just lived with the consequences of being so bad at their job, and their industry, and not ever looking at past issues of the magazine–that’s on them)

  68. Seraphim*

    OP4 re how much notice to give: Start documenting the processes and institutional knowledge you feel you need to pass on to your replacement and that someone else filling in would need to know. Before you leave, make a couple of copies and put them in binders. Give one binder to your boss and leave the other on your desk, so that whoever handles those tasks/responsibilities until the position is filled and your replacement can easily refer to it.

  69. Widget*

    LW#4: Another option to consider is if you can do a call-out on Zoom. I work at a library and when we were responding to patron queries – and we DEFINITELY have some patrons who absolutely SHOULD NOT have a staff member’s personal contact – from our personal phones, we placed all our calls via Zoom.

    The drawback: only 1 person can call out on the Zoom account at a time. We were pretty low-volume at this point, so it worked for us. If you have higher call volume for your work, this might not be an option for you.

  70. LeighTX*

    The reference to Google Voice reminded me: thank you, Alison, for bringing Google Voice to my attention some time ago! My parents moved from one state to another two years ago but kept their same cell phone numbers, and they were having trouble getting their new friends to answer their calls, as the caller ID would show the old state’s area code. I suggested getting a Google Voice number and it solved the problem to a great degree. So, thanks!

  71. lemon*

    #5 – Slow internet is often caused by the wifi router. This can happen if a lot of devices are connected to the router at the same time. It might help to disconnect any unnecessary devices before your video interviews if possible. It could also be due to a really old router that just can’t keep up with today’s streaming demands. I was having that issue with a 7-year old wifi router– it always cut out during Zoom calls, and I’d have to go reset the damn thing 2-3x over the course of an hour-long meeting. I finally shelled out 30 bucks for a new router, and that totally fixed it.

    If it’s not the router, I recommend calling in with your phone for audio (instead of using computer audio) when you can. That way, if the internet does drop out, at least you’re still connected via phone until you can reconnect to video.

    1. lemon*

      Oh, I forget that not everyone lives in a tiny studio apartment like I do. Another issue could be distance from your router, if you live in a large apartment/house. The farther away you are from the router, the slower the connection will be. If that’s the case, a mesh system or a wifi extender could be an option (if you can’t move closer the router).

  72. Just, why*

    I work for a state agency (public health related in my case).

    In no way should the OP be using their personal phone for work related reasons. Alison should have touched on the issues related to security and confidentiality issues and the legality of using a personal device for government related communications. That this wasn’t even addressed in the answer is so surprising to me.

  73. Brain the Brian*

    OP #2: I sympathize greatly here. I have a neurological condition that requires me to take medication twice daily — and the most noticeable side effect of the medication is that I simply cannot correct typos to my work for about about two or three hours after I take it. My brain just… fixes the typo when I’m proofreading, and there really doesn’t seem to be much I can do about this. I’ll read an e-mail five times, in different fonts, changing the size of the Outlook window, moving the text into Word, etc. — and still have a typo that I don’t catch. It drives me crazy, as I have a degree in communications and before I was diagnosed with this condition and put on relevant medication, I prided myself on my ability to write without any typos at all! Sigh…

    I can’t always wait to send a file or reply for three hours (for instance, if I’m against a hard weekly deadline for payment submissions, or my colleagues whose time zones are nine hours ahead of mine need to submit something to a client by COB their time) so I frequently have to send things and hope for the best. If I’ve messed up someone’s name and I notice later, I’ll e-mail that person privately and apologize. But otherwise, I try not to draw attention to it.

  74. Galahad*

    OP #4
    Check your hire letter (or promotion offer letter). I had one where I was hired as a Project Manager and it required mutual notice of 1 week for every year of work. It seemed like a basic hire letter at first glance, but was intentionally done this way to limit how much severance the company would pay out at the end of a project (you could not hire a lawyer to request severance, typically). Turns out it was pretty common in our project based industry.

    When I left, I had to give 7 weeks notice, which was not ideal (because of mentally checking out), but if they had then asked me to leave early, I would have been paid out for it.

    As you started 15 years ago, I am willing to bet that you had just the basic hire letter, and would just go with the standard 2 weeks or state requirements for employer notice.

  75. xtine*

    #5 – If you’re using wifi, consider going wired. When I first started online teaching, I had periodic problems with my connection dropping even though I’m the only one on my network in a one-bedroom apartment. Eventually, I ran an Ethernet cord and that solved the problem completely.

  76. MyWholeJobIsVideoCalls*

    OP #5 – If your video interview is being done by Zoom or WebEx, usually those services have a way to connect to audio by dialing in with your phone (they should have options for regional numbers and WebEx has 1-800 numbers). This lets you keep video on (which helps a lot in getting body language and facial expression cues from your interviewer), but you still have a stable audio line so your conversation isn’t interrupted with internet lags.

  77. Gerasim*

    OP #1 – Google Voice is terrible in my area, due to county-wide bandwith issues. You might look into whether your cell phone provider allows for blocking outgoing caller ID. Mine allows contact grouping so when I call Mom & Dad they know who it is, but when I call some rando they get “caller ID blocked” or something similar.

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