open thread – October 16-17, 2020

It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about (that includes school). If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.

* If you submitted a question to me recently, please do not repost it here, as it may be in my queue to answer.

{ 807 comments… read them below }

  1. Sunflower*

    Anyone have luck changing industries in the middle of all this? I have a pretty secure job but was looking at changing industries long before this and feeling like I can never get away from work has just solidified my decision. I’m looking to move from events to sales/account management and have seen my furloughed hotel sales contacts unable to get jobs in other sales industries and it’s making me feel a bit defeated.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I haven’t, but my brother did – he went from being a corrections officer in a private, federal prison to a supply chain manager at Proctor & Gamble. His friend works for P&G and recommended him for the position, and he’s been there a few months now. My brother had been job searching for awhile and was coming up short – he almost gave up entirely – but in the end, something shook out. Keep applying and lean on your network as much as you can right now.

      1. Minocho*

        How awesome that something came through! And how good it must feel for both your brother and his friend!

        I’m so bummed about ::all the things:: right now that the opportunity to unequivocably help somebody would feel *amazing* right now. Heck, we’re in the office alternating days and one of cubicle neighbor was fraying a little around the edges, so I left some M&Ms on his desk before I left work Wednesday for him to find Thursday. Him thanking me and accusing me of wanting him to get cavities made ME feel better – and I’m hoping his response means it helped him out a bit too.

        It’s hard to keep drive and hope and energy up right now, Sunflower, but I’m sending good internet vibes your way, hoping something shakes out.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yeah, they’re both very excited about it (and they’re helping another one of their friends get a job there too). My brother’s friend saw what was happening in our state when Covid hit (a third of our cases were in the prison system), and knowing that my brother has two young children that could either a) lose their dad if he caught the severe strain of Covid (my brother has underlying health issues) or b) become infected themselves thanks to exposure to him and end up having adverse reactions (my brother’s youngest is six months old with barely an immune system and the oldest had asthma as a toddler), his friend said, “We gotta get you out of there, man.”

          My brother and his family still ended up getting Covid thanks to his irresponsible mother-in-law (thankfully, no one appears to have had serious complications), but he’s now in a company that allows him to work from home as he recovers and he gets paid Covid leave when he needs to take time off due to a headache or fatigue. He would have never been able to do that in corrections.

    2. DEJ*

      I worked in an event-related industry at the start of all this and am now in property management. I was laid off so I didn’t have a choice about moving on, but I had started to wonder if I needed to move on after a similar ‘feeling like I can never get away from work’ issue like you’re having, in addition to so many nights and weekends. I was really lucky my current job fell into my lap through a contact though.

    3. ES*

      I’ve lucked out! I was trying to change jobs back in March, but when Covid hit the new job pulled my offer and the old job wouldn’t take me back. It was the wake up call I needed to switch fields, it wasn’t easy but after seven months of looking I start my new job in my new field on Tuesday!

    4. Wordybird*

      I transitioned from working part-time as the administrator of a local faith-based non-profit to a full-time administrator-adjacent role in for-profit professional education for a small organization in a different state where I’m the first non-local employee. While the needed skillset is similar, everything else is different.

      I had been looking for work for about 18 months but only fully committed to implementing Alison’s advice at the beginning of the summer. I had this job offer approximately 8 weeks after revamping my cover letter(s) and resume.

  2. Pink Dahlia*

    Anyone ever have an “I’m done with this place” moment at work that you can pinpoint? How did it go down?

    I had mine this week. I’ve been vaguely dissatisfied in a department that offers no upward growth (despite every equivalent department having senior SME and technical lead roles). The pay is below average and the company is stingy AF about every little thing—but only for us peons. On Wednesday a VP showed me his camera roll from last week’s lavish business trip to CA, featuring his smarmy grin and a flute of champagne on one of the company jets. The same place that fought me on reimbursement for a $10 ergonomic wrist pad for my carpal tunnel also has a lease share in two private planes. Learning that information was the moment something extinguished in me. I don’t care how it can be justified on paper. I’m done.

    1. Elenia*

      I applied for a promotion, interviewed, and didn’t get the job. Ironically it validated to me I deserved it. I started looking the next day. It took me 8 months to find a new position, and that is pretty fast, why you can’t quit without having a new job.
      The person they hired had NO experience.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Something similar happened to me and, like you, it spurred me into action (i.e., interviewing everywhere I could). Ultimately, I ended up getting a promotion into another division with a 10% pay bump and much better title, and my manager seethed! Lol.

        It’s what she deserved.

      2. A Teacher*

        I am late to the game but I worked for a fairly large physical therapy company in the Midwest. I’m an athletic trainer and had gone back to school to get a teaching degree while working full-time. When I originally hired into the company there were 10 clinics and several years into my experience there, there were more than 100 clinics. The final straw for me was when I walked into a quarterly meeting where I had always been in the top percentiles to get my bonus they decided to change our bonus structure. Now mind you the year before they had cut Our 401(k) contributions, raised our insurance rates, and we didn’t get more than 1% raise because they were growing and they needed that money you know. All the while they were expecting physical therapist and athletic trainers and other staff to work a 50-60 hour work week but not compensating for that. I walked into the quarterly meeting where the bonus was really my only chance of getting ahead a little bit and was told instead of being at 92 or 94% like I was used to because I busted my butt to do my job, I was at an 88% for the quarter. Which meant I was only eligible for 88% of the bonus instead of 92 or 94% of the bonus. The kicker is when I asked my boss what I needed to do to improve my scores, she told me I didn’t need to do anything they were just making it harder to get the bonus. Basically there was no way that I could get back into the 90s no matter what I did. Then they proceeded to tell us they were going to a more uniform dress code where our shirts would come from a large athletic company and the minimum cost for each shirt was $60 a shirt. They would provide two shirts for us and we would have to buy the rest ourselves. Most of us were working six week days because of the nature of our field. I walked out of the office vowing to stick it out for the year if I had to and then I was going to quit and substitute teach of nothing else. Fortunately I had parents that were supportive and would have let me live with them. I started putting in applications and I ended up finding a teaching position Add an alternative school in a larger city. The students I had were students that had been expelled from the regular school system and I was called lots of choice names every week but I was happier there than I was in my last job which should say something.

    2. Ali G*

      Yes! At my last job the higher ups just had such complete disregard for the people that worked for them. My boss had a huge presentation coming up that I knew they would be looking for me to support. I spent 2 weeks prior to the presentation trying to get their attention about it and was ignored (I even put together a draft for them to react to a week out). Of course, they called my on a Sunday afternoon demanding that I drop everything to work on the presentation. I was out with family. I calmly asked them if they had looked at the draft I put together? No. They literally had not given it one thought even though I kept bringing it up and was just like “oh Ali G will do it when I am ready to think about it.”
      I was just done in that moment. I finally had to face the facts that this place would never really value me as an employee that has contributed greatly to the company. I was just a body to be used when it was convenient for TPTB.

    3. MissGirl*

      Mine was something really small. We’d struggled through the last recession to survive and have our best year ever. In a staff meeting, the VP in the same breath announced our record breaking year and then said we all need buckle down because next year was forecasted to be tough.

      It hit me that my industry (publishing) was always going to be struggling, always have low salaries, and I couldn’t expect more than I had.

      I spent the next few months fact finding about where I could go since my skills were so specific. I ended up quitting and getting my MBA and starting over in a new industry. It was a hard road but I’m much better off now.

      1. Mouse*

        I am literally exactly here right now–I’m not quite leaving yet, but I’m about to start a part-time MBA to get myself out of publishing. Any advice?

        1. MissGirl*

          Talk to a ton of different people in lots of different types of jobs. Figure out what your priorities are in a new job. Understand your big picture skills (IE, not I’m good at editing but I’m good at detail oriented work). Be open to new things.

          I thought I would go into marketing in the outdoor industry then found out the outdoor industry has a lot of the same problems. More people than positions and you’re expected to work for less. I decided making a decent salary meant more than the industry.

          I ended up in healthcare analytics. My program had us take several different types of courses our first semester and analytics was my favorite.

          I know you said you’re part time, but the biggest thing I did to help me was go full time and do several internships. I knew not much of my old skills would get me in the door. I had to take out $25k in student loans but I had them paid off less than two years out.

        2. Just Here for the Cake*

          Former publishing person as well (except on the supply chain side)! I recommend figuring out what are the things you most want out of a job. I realized that I liked teaching new recruits how to use the software and the trust I had with my employer to solve big problems without someone breathing down my neck (Plus, a paycheck that actually allows me to pay my student loans). Then, find someone to help you hone your resume because a lot of people don’t know the type of work that goes into publishing and you will probably need someone’s help to translate your skills. I now help teach nurses how to use the hospital software, so it is possible to find something! Don’t give up!

          1. MissGirl*

            Yes to this as well. I used a degree to reset my skills but I’ve also wondered if I couldn’t have done the same without it.

    4. Delta Delta*

      I had a boss in a law firm once who refused to take corrective action against an admin staff member who objectively screwed up (like, her omission could have gotten us sued) and then yelled at me for her screw up. I was not in a managerial position and could not have caught the mistake until it presented itself. I told the story to someone else, and as I was telling it I realized I was screaming and hyperventilating and that normal people do not react that way when they tell a story. I lasted another 8 months or so at that job (when other really bad things also happened). I had been sort of unhappy until then but that incident made me realize I had to GTFO.

    5. Dust Bunny*

      The prologue here was that I got caught in a screaming rain storm on the way to work, called that I was on my way but literally could not see the road in front of me, and then was reprimanded for being late.

      The final straw was when I was not schedule to work, volunteered to work to alleviate understaffing, and then a friend died and I retracted the shift so I could go to the funeral, and they called me while I was at the service to see if I were coming in, anyway. So they were fine with us being shorthanded until they thought they might have the option of not being shorthanded; they had previously not even needed me. Fortunately, a friend gave me a lead on a vastly better job shortly after.

    6. Not A Girl Boss*

      I went through three different jobs/departments at MegaCorp desperately trying to find somewhere I fit in because it would be so much more convenient for my family/home life if I didn’t hate working there. 2 weeks into the third job I looked around and said “I just cannot with this entire messed up hellmouth, no department is safe from the top-down insanity” and started plotting my exit… which took another 11 months.

      There were also moments in every job where I knew I needed to start looking:
      1) When 10 out of 11 people on the team told HR our boss was a tyranical insane person who made us fear coming to work… and all they did was tell me “sorry, we try not to let people start in this group because we don’t want them to think this is how Company is everywhere.”
      2) When I was told I had to go to a “messaging” run through with my boss, before the next level “messaging” run through with his boss, in preparation for the actual presentation. And the entire feedback was “you need to not tell them you don’t have the resources to finish the project on time. Pretend you have it and then we will just ask for extra time once you go over and its too late for them to tell you know.”
      3) When they made the maintenance team stop doing preventative maintenance on a machine halfway through a 2 week overhaul and put it all back together so it wouldn’t look “messy” when Head Honcho did his tour. Then restart the entire overhaul once he was done, at a loss of 400 man hours, because heaven forbid Head Honcho find out we overhaul equipment per our contract requirements like a responsible company??

    7. NeonFireworks*

      After a while in a job with a boss I found consistently dismissive, they finally revealed the problem: they had the conviction that none of their own suggestions in any workplace before the age of 35 had been of much use, and I was under 35.

      I thought about it, and quit.

      1. CatWoman*

        In that case, I would have announced loudly that it was my 36th birthday and, since my brain had finally arrived, was now enlightened enough to find a job worthy of me and my talent.

      2. Been There Done That*

        I had the opposite problem – a boss 20 years my junior – that thought because I was “old” I didn’t know anything. Any suggestion I made was ignored. I knew it was time to go when a suggestion I had been making for a couple of years was later made by someone younger and he couldn’t implement it fast enough.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      Oh, about 10 times, but I keep staying here. I wrote a super long post on my phone this morning that describes my current breaking point situation–my or may not post today. I have a high tolerance for bullshit, apparently. It’s a good job, but I keep getting screwed over compared to my peers. But it’s still a good job.

      1. ES*

        …is it though? You know best, but I’ve read a lot of letters about insane workplaces that end with “but it’s a good job!”

        1. AnotherAlison*

          I have a top 10 percentile salary, 6 wk PTO, a 20 minute commute, a 10% 401k/prof share match, and pay $60/wk for family insurance. The work is interesting, but I just don’t get the support or recognition that I see others get. My boss graduated college with me and is a VP. There was a whole cohort who started here out of college around 2000 and got fast tracked, and a group of competitor recruits from 10 yrs ago that got the same, and I didn’t. I came here on my own to escape a competitor, so I wasn’t a hot recruit or “born” here, and I feel like a 2nd class citizen even though I have been here forever.

          1. Dianna*

            It’s a job with good compensation. That doesn’t make it a good job. It might make it a job you aren’t willing to leave, but that’s not the same thing.

    9. Megumin*

      Mine was at my last job – it dawned on me one day that my bosses would never help me develop professionally and reach the career goals I wanted, but they also weren’t going to tell me why. If there was a problem with my performance, I never knew. I suspected they had lost confidence in me for some reason, but anytime I asked for an evaluation, or if there were problems, all I got was “oh no! you’re doing great.” But I watched all these other people in my department get promoted, get sent to trainings, etc – and I never received any of that, despite working hard and demonstrating the value I could bring if I had proper training and development.

      If they had just *told* me what the problem was, I might have stayed. I would have gladly worked on whatever it was. But they never did. I think they just wanted me to stick around and do the grunt work all the favored people didn’t want to do.

      So I found a better job in another department (big university), and it’s been fabulous. I am being challenged, I’m learning, my boss actually provides feedback and constructive criticism, and I make more money. Also I am watching my old department slowly implode, and that’s been satisfying.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve had my moments for a loooong time, but I was really done when I got the opportunity to present our work in front of a room of really important people, did a pretty dang good job, and got a shrug from my boss along with a reminder that I still had to work on another project while I was traveling for that presentation. It solidified that my accomplishments would never matter to him, I would never be able to grow, and he would never respect my experience and my own ability to manage my work.

      Lately I had been feeling slightly (verrrry slightly) better about some new developments, then my boss told me that he was approached to do business by an organization that horrifies me. He was considering it, I told him why it bothered me– including that fact that it was counter to everything he always claimed to believe– and he argued with the explicit goal of shutting me down instead of considering what I had to say. I nearly quit on the spot. At the end of the conversation he decided not to take the business, but instead of, “You know, you’re right, I understand your objections,” it was, “Well, I was going to do this but then I went to their website and even though you told me these things, I didn’t believe you.”

    11. blepkitty*

      In hindsight, when my now-supervisor Jane came to me and excitedly told me that my senior colleague, Rose, had found a solution to a problem. I had told Rose about that solution the day before. But whenever I suggest solutions to Jane myself, she shoots them down.

      My friend told me then to start job hunting. I wish I’d listened instead of giving in to my misgivings about jumping ship after just a few months.

    12. Shirley Keeldar*

      I got promoted, and my reaction to this was to wander away from my boss’s office in a daze, collapse in a chair in the office of my best work friend, wail, “They promoted me, it was horrible!” and burst into tears.

      (FYI to Miss Girl and Mouse–also publishing.)

      1. RecoveringSWO*

        omg yes! I was offered a promotion with no notice and responded by word-vomitting my notice. I knew I was leaving for grad school that fall, but was not planning on telling them that spring! The subconscious always shows the truth…

    13. anon24*

      I worked at a factory for about 6 months. Entry level, low paid, they treated us terrible.

      We were in a lock down facility. Only supervisors could badge us in and out of the shop floor. We also had to make sure all our equipment was shut down and cleaned up by end of day, so it was a balancing act to end without being too early or too late. Ending too late was an absolute no-no because no overtime was allowed without approval, so we often ended up shutting down a few minutes early and then walking around helping our co-workers clean up and then congregating around the time clock.

      My breaking point came one day when we had a special meeting to discuss this. Our manager informed us that it was unacceptable to end 10 minutes early, that we needed to better time our end of day. He pointed out that if he was paying us to stand around for 5-10 minutes every day, that was a lot of time at the end of the year. He then told us that it was our job to police our co-workers and yell at anyone we saw not working right until it was time to punch out, and that if he caught anyone not working and we didn’t yell at them that he was going to force us to punch out and then leave us locked in the building until he decided to badge us out to teach us a lesson.

      I honestly regret not quitting on the spot to make a statement, financial concerns or no. Thankfully I found a job that looked interesting a few days later, applied, interviewed, and got it.

    14. Yup, Yup, Nope*

      Yup. I always knew my old boss (Dan) lacked backbone but his boss was great. When grand-boss left and he was promoted I had concerns. Within 2 months, he proved me right and I started looking.
      The exact incident was when a new regulation was enacted for our industry. My new boss (Kay) and I had grave concerns because we (the ones who actually dealt with this regulation on a daily basis) were being left out of the conversations about the new processes surrounding the change for months leading up to implementation but Dan dismissed our concerns and told us that he was involved and it was all fine. At the kick-off meeting/training event, Kay and I discovered that the implementation team ignored a very significant aspect that was specific to our area of the business. When we brought it up, we were told to shush by Dan and asked why we didn’t bring it up earlier because now it was too late to roll that in since go-live was the following week (this was like a Thursday or something and the system got turned on over the weekend). Dan had been in those meetings for almost a year and never once told them about this item. He knew all about it because of the monthly reporting we’ve always had to do on it. The implementation team was an outside company brought in so they had no idea – it was Dan’s job to tell them. The end result was manual adjustments every week plus a HUGE adjustment for monthly reporting that took most of a day to work through.
      When I turned in my notice, Dan had to be cross trained on it since there always needs to be a backup in case Kay is unavailable for any reason. As I walked him through the process, he made a comment that it shouldn’t be this difficult. He was told in those meetings it was essentially a report out that we loaded into our system. I quite happily told him that it IS supposed to be that simple but since he never mentioned our system anomaly we had to do everything manually so we were basically paying thousands of dollars a year (5 year contract) for a useless piece of software.
      I got 3 calls from him after I left (Kay left as well for similar reasons) about this and I was very happy to tell him I couldn’t help. The amount of work required to get him from where he was to where he needed to be would have taken days and access to their systems and I was about to get on a roller coaster.

      1. Megumin*

        That ending was delicious.

        The boss at my previous job was like that, he wouldn’t listen to our input about critical things if those critical things were going to look bad to a higher-up. It felt so good to leave that job.

    15. Paperwhite*

      I hear you. I used to have the Astronomy Picture Of The Day as my Home screen for my computer (this is relevant). After 2 weeks when my father had had a heart attack so I called him once a day, I got called in to be given a written warning because 1) “too many personal phone calls” and 2) I was supposedly looking at “astrology websites”. I had been there for ten years at that point, and I realized that after ten years they thought I was too stupid to be interested in astronomy (because I was an admin assistant? Because I’m Black? Who knows) and were otherwise begrudging. So I left. When I did I didn’t even get a bouquet or a mention during the next company event — it was as if I had never existed..

      You’re a full human being. Don’t let them erode your self worth.

      1. CatWoman*

        “they thought I was too stupid to be interested in astronomy”
        Clearly, the only stupid party here is the one who didn’t know the difference between astrology and astronomy. I envision it as some Nosy Nellie looking at your screen and making some kind of garbled report (not to mention not knowing a home screen saver from a website). I’m happy that you’ve found a better place than that!

      2. Delta Delta*

        Normal people, upon seeing astronomy photo, “hey neat, what is that?”

        Your former employer, “you’re into horoscopes!”

      3. anna green*

        You’re a full human being. Don’t let them erode your self worth.

        Yes yes yes! I literally just teared up reading that. Absolutely yes.

      4. Megumin*

        I’m sorry they treated you like crap! I got the same non-celebration when I left my last job. Other people that had left – and had even been there a shorter time than I had – got parties, cards, flowers, etc. I got nothing. People didn’t even know I had resigned until they heard it through the grapevine.

        I hope you’re in a much better place now!

    16. HR Lady*

      I was overworked, stressed and also doing all of the admin work in a role because the admin team was based in another office, meaning that anything locally had to be done by me. I was begging for someone – anyone – to come and take some of my workload. Part-time. An apprentice. A PA with a day dedicated to my stuff. Just something so I wasn’t constantly behind on my own KPIs as I tried to stop the place falling part. The main bugbear of things I was doing by myself at this point was organising inductions for ~100 people every quarter, everything from hosting the day and doing the agenda and creating content (which was fair for my role) to setting up invites, doing all the admin, booking rooms and food, putting the food out when it was delivered and setting the room up, i.e. moving all the tables and chairs. By myself. Very much not my role, let alone solo.

      Approval for the hire ultimately had to come from the country MD – who loathed the HR function as a matter of principle – and would require the Big Boss for my function growing a spine and standing up to the MD. She promised she would. Big Boss completely folded and two weeks later she told my manager that I needed to ‘learn to prioritise’ and ‘why wasn’t the remote team a help’. My manager gave me the message as gently as possible. I burst into tears in the room and told her that fine, I was going to job-hunt and I didn’t care who knew it anymore, I was done. I started job seeking that afternoon and left eight weeks later, when Big Boss had the absolute nerve to ask me what money she could put on the table to make me stay. “£25,000 for an entry level admin person based in this city,” I said. Unsurprisingly, this did not materialise.

      During my notice period I still had to organise one of those inductions, as a note, and I did an effing great job as I always did – I do spoken performance in my personal life so when I host an event, I REALLY host it, I always got fabulous feedback for my hosting. This time around there were a few senior hires who kindly (not knowing I was going) sent feedback to Big Boss about what a wonderful host I was and how welcome they felt to the company but that they were concerned that I seemed to have also been the one putting out the chairs and putting the food etc away at the end of the day, wasn’t this is a bit of a waste of my time, etc. I laughed in a slightly hollow way afterwards.

      (I only stuck the job out so long because the team I worked with were genuine powerhouse awesome human beings and I miss them terribly, but I don’t miss the role or the company.)

    17. Lora*

      I was on a really, really good project. We had this truly excellent drug for metabolic disease / weight loss / CVMED type indications. It worked GREAT. It worked in mice. It worked in humans – except the pharmacokinetics were not great, all results indicated we needed to figure out how to make it longer-lasting in the bloodstream, but efficacy was spectacular. It had almost no side effects. We figured out how to make it longer-lasting in the bloodstream, we re-tested on the mice, we did initial tox, we were ready to go back into humans. And the group got a new senior manager imported from another site. The new manager HATED the old manager. I don’t know why, it was 100% personalities clashing, the guy just seemed to hate Americans and thought we were all stupid or something.

      Old senior manager had discovered several drugs that went commercial. Most R&D people are lucky to work on one, ever, in their lifetimes. New senior manager had never discovered even one, and in fact had no education in either biochemistry or clinical trials. Old senior manager was pushed out, and the program was discontinued.

      There was no reason. It would have been a major blockbuster if they had moved it forward, no doubt at all. Efficacy was amazing. It used a completely new mechanism that we could have built on for other drugs – peptide signaling between gut and brain. Patient population was huge. Insurers would have paid up. Program got killed because an idiot who never made a drug in his life, just didn’t like the frat-boy type dude who was running the group, because he liked to go bowling in the middle of the day. That was it. It was the absolute dumbest thing. After that I was done with them, I started looking seriously.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Well this is a terrifying new insight about how healthcare is used for political and personal profit.

        1. Lora*

          Nobody made any money though. And a lot of people who were very ill with cardiovascular diseases didn’t get a drug that could have helped them, because one guy was an a-hole who couldn’t just have a drink and get over his personal dislike.

          Dude’s nickname was The Timwit. He had a history of doing this to other research groups he had been in charge of, destroying perfectly productive groups. Don’t ask me how he hung on to his job, that was a mystery to us all.

      2. JustaTech*

        Yeah…
        I’ve had projects like that, things that were completely do-able, would have let us serve so many more patients, but died because of a territorial pissing match between Quality and Manufacturing.

    18. kittymommy*

      Mine was quite a few years ago. I was working at a pediatric office as front office staff and putting myself through college. My mom. grandma, and uncle had to head to north Florida (about 6 hrs away)for a family funeral – my grandma’s brother. My mother, who was an active and functioning alcoholic at the time and had been for years, had a grand mal seizure on our last night there so we ended up staying a couple extra nights. Between those unplanned days and getting her settled when we got back home I think I missed maybe 2-3 extra days of work. When I got back the Office manager (who had always been a massive with and had no boundaries) pulled me into her office to tell me that she was concerned that I was devoting to much of my time to my family and I needed to not be so co-dependent with them. She said I needed to “leave them behind” and I couldn’t let them drag me down. She then proceeded to call my mother a leech and toxic

      I was probably the angriest I have ever been and at that moment I had to quit, otherwise I was ready to deck her.

        1. kittymommy*

          Yup. I walked out. Only time I have ever not given notice. My friend also quit because of it. A few months later I swung by to visit a couple of the nurses and doctors and one of the docs begged me to come back. Didn’t happen – there was not enough money in the world.

    19. Super Duper Anon*

      At my previous job, I had to work closely with a department that was super toxic and badly managed, and I wasn’t handling it well. At the same time there were a ton of outside forces that meant the situation was never going to change or get better. My husband was unemployed at the time, and as I was helping him with his job search by looking through job listings and sending him ones that he might like, I also started looking for jobs for me. At first, I was very torn on whether leaving was the right decision or if I should just stick it out, but one evening, I gave my self permission to leave. The relief I felt cemented that it was the right call, and that I was done.

    20. Charlotte Lucas*

      In my old job, there were a lot of things that built up. But it was when management used the changes to FLSA as an excuse to reclassify my tiny overworked, underrespected department & cut our pay. Apparently, we weren’t worthy of being exempt staff anymore. I upped my job search & used all the PTO I had saved from working too much going to interviews. It took a year, but I found a contract position with better pay & benefits. And it led to an even better permanent position.

      We ended up not getting the pay cut. When everyone in a department threatens to quit & points out all the tasks they’re doing that keep you in compliance with the government, people backpedal. But we were still reclassified, which affected our benefits & status in the company.

    21. DarthVelma*

      Yup. I worked in a job where a big part of what my section did was technical training on our data reporting system. Another section under the same big boss did help desk stuff for the various data entry systems, but none of them actually used or understood the reporting system. They got all peeved because we got to go off-site and do training and they didn’t. They thought it was a perk. They whined until they got their way.

      We knew it was going to be a disaster since they didn’t understand the system and they refused to go through the training at least once before trying to teach it. They thought they could just read the training script and it would be fine. It might have been fine if they had actually read the script verbatim, but they didn’t.

      I got yelled at for correcting one of them when they kept giving wrong information to the trainees. Literally contradicting the language in the script they had right in front of them. (It was the supervisor of the other section. She pulled me out into the hallway and told me I should hold all corrections until the end of the training – but that would have meant people doing everything wrong all day. I told her that and that she needed to stick to the script since she didn’t know the system she was training on. That went over like a lead balloon.)

      Anyway, I was supposed to be traveling to the other end of the state to train the next day. Instead, my boss called me into her office and gave me yet another tongue-lashing and told me to unpack my stuff because I wasn’t going on the training trip. She knew good and damn well the folks from that other section had no business conducting that training. And she knew how badly the supervisor had screwed it all up. But it didn’t matter – you just were not ever allowed to correct anyone publicly in that agency. No matter how wrong they were or what the consequences were for folks having incorrect info.

      I went job hunting that day and applied for the job I have now the next. Less than 6 weeks later I was outta there.

    22. Canuck girl*

      Ha! so many examples and I’ve been actively job searching for over a year, though with a few months of not doing any searching as well (I’m in a pretty specialized field..it’s taking a bit longer and I took a few breaks from job searching too).
      So a few of those moments: being repeatedly told that I have things to improve on before I can get promoted, despite being one of the most experienced and educated members of the team; favouritism is rampant at my work; indirectly being told that I cannot make plans on a project on my own and constantly have to check in with boss and grand boss on minor decisions, despite a stellar track record; finding out a supervisor who is dumber and less competent has been hiding files from me on stuff I should be in the loop on, because he’s scared about his job and is trying to keep himself relevant…and those are just the top of my head. Good luck and get networking and job searching, it’s the only thing that will keep you sane.

    23. Anonycat*

      My boss, in my review a couple weeks ago, told me I made $30,000 in errors last year. We both knew there was an error because of how the software built a procedure, but we both knew a year ago when this came to light it was only $6,000. And that is peanuts, honestly, in our line of work. Well, my boss is kind of a jerk. I believed him in my review, took the beating, didn’t question one word. Today I went back and added it up: $6700. Our manufacturing team scraps more than that every week. And $30,000 is one heck of a far cry from $6700. I want to throw up or claw his eyes out, I’m not sure which. I’m so over his games. I’m feeling MUCH better about the interview I have next week. It’s time.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Good luck on your interview – I hope you get out of there soon. It’s never great when you have a manager that lies on you.

    24. Eeyore's Missing Tail*

      Yes. My moment happened when my supervisor told me that my reclassification was put on hold indefinitely after stringing me along for months. He told me this when I had to come into the office while on FMLA for maternity leave. They called/texted multiple times a week while I was out because no one wanted to take the time to look at the notes I left on how to cover for me while I was out. I got an email later that week asking me if I was interested in applying for a job in another department of my org. Applied, got it, and left my old job 2 weeks after I came back from FMLA.

    25. Miss Bookworm*

      I’ve had several in the last year alone (I am looking for a new job). 1. When I practically had to beg for support from upper management, because I’m doing the work of three people + supervising two other people; it took them two months to get me that help and it only lasted a month. 2. When I found out that my company was letting the in-office staff leave early on MWF and not having them make up the time when they get home, but not on T/TH (the days that I’m in the office). 3. When I had work nearly 40hrs of overtime in 1 week because upper management didn’t notify us of an audit until the week before it happened, so we had to scramble to pull together all the documentation. 4. When I spent an hour getting screamed at for a mistake I didn’t make on a task that I had never worked on, all because the coworker who made the mistake decided to blame me for it.

      If I could afford it I would quit without a job lined up, but I can’t. I’m honestly at that point.

    26. Kat*

      One morning in my awful job we had a terrible client meeting where it suddenly became clear to me that management was not willing to put any real resources or support behind the program I had been put in charge of and would most likely throw me under the bus when the program inevitably imploded. Immediately following that I co-won the quarterly award at our staff meeting for my work on this project. The strange juxtaposition of those two events just brought this flash of clarity about how this organization was going nowhere good and I had to get out. That afternoon I scheduled a week of vacation for later that month to focus on job searching. Within 6 weeks I was able to give notice because I had found a new, sane, normal job that paid exactly the same amount. Less than a year later the program did indeed fall apart and another year later the awful organization made headlines for the many scandalous misdeeds of its executive staff.

    27. Sylvan*

      At an old part-time/seasonal job in a kitchen, I asked to use a stool for a couple of hours because my legs hurt. I was making chocolate strawberries, which I’m alright at and can do just fine on a counter-height stool.

      I knew the place’s owners had a stool, where it was, and that nobody was using it. They said no. They said I could buy my own stool and carry it on the bus to and from work with me.

      So dumb. It’s not a big issue at all, but they were being a PITA over something tiny. I was over it immediately. Before that, I had honestly been thinking about leaving my real job and working at this shop full-time. The pay was lower, but I didn’t mind. It was simple, easy, and pleasant work with lots of free fruit and chocolate. I finished out that season’s work, then didn’t go back again.

      1. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

        “You can buy own stool”

        I just honestly can’t even begin to comprehend the oddballs out there..

    28. Donna Noble*

      I worked in a government office in the financial sector. I was hired as an administrative assistant and the other admins were…um…not as good as they should have been. A *LOT* of worked got reassigned to me, I fixed a one year backlog in the first 6 months I worked there, I did higher level work than I was paid for, I created a database to save millions of dollars in collateral. When I asked for a re-evaluation of my job to a higher grade, I was denied. I asked to be taken off the higher grade duties and have them assigned to the person who was paid to do them. I was also denied. Then I was taken off the database, the project I had built from scratch. Put in my two weeks notice. Eight months later they created a higher level admin position and asked me to apply for it. HA!

        1. Donna Noble*

          I refused with passive-aggressive scorn. It’s an important reference, I did good work there, don’t want to burn the bridge. But I told them I had “moved on” from that level of work.

    29. Hahahahaha*

      My current position! When they hired someone for my dream job with less experience than me but it was because I was too new. I understand 3 months in is a bit early to promote someone, but if they meet and exceed all of the requirements and are desperate for a chance to prove they can do it?, what harm is there? Demote me if I didn’t do a good enough job, but I would have been better than everyone else already in the position.

    30. sv*

      I barely lasted two months at the first government job I took when moving to [major metropolitan area] last year. My team lead (not even my supervisor!) was an extremely rude micromanager with no interest in training me, and she would get angry at me for not understanding how to do basic tasks that she hadn’t taught me how to do. It drove me nuts but I knew that as the senior permanent employee, she was always going to get her way over me, a new and early-career employee who was still in the probationary period. I met with her and my supervisor numerous times to express that I needed more support and that her anger wasn’t helping me work, and she told us that she felt justified in her anger because I had disrespected her by…. not learning fast enough.

      My breaking point was when, on her Friday off, she sent me an email berating me for not replying “thank you” to an external contact within 48 hours. That same day, she followed that message up with another email ordering me to send her an email every afternoon explaining *in detail* what I had worked on and exactly how much time I spent on each task. Even my private-sector friends who work billable hours don’t have to report their work in as much detail as she was requesting of me. I packed up all my personal belongings that afternoon, and the following Monday I went to work, immediately met with my supervisor, and resigned on the spot and walked out. I didn’t have anything lined up and it took me four months and a ton of credit card debt to find a new job, but I don’t regret my decision for a second. No toxic workplace is worth my misery, and I’ll take some debt over unhappiness any day of the week.

      (The happy ending – I now have a better job in my field that I enjoy a lot more, and my salary is 10% higher than it was at my old awful job!)

    31. Jane*

      I’ve had mine this summer! My manager was very positive about my initial work on a project to my face, but then emailed my contact to tell them that I wasn’t the contact for this anymore and they should liaise with more senior colleagues instead. My manager didn’t speak to me about this (and still hasn’t), and didn’t even copy me in to the message – I only found out when my contact replied and cc’d me in.

      I don’t think this was because of the work I’d produced or was planning to do: I think my manager realised it was an interesting and potentially highly-visible project and wanted to absorb it into her role so that she can lead on it and get the credit.

      I was very upset, but the I realised I didn’t want to work somewhere where management treated their staff like this. (It was the lack of conversation and explanation that triggered me, rather than losing the project.) Job hunting in a very specialist job in a sector that’s struggling is no fun, and it may take me literally years, but I’ve decided I shouldn’t stay here any longer than I have to.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I don’t blame you for looking – this was absolutely wrong. Your manager should have been direct with you and not let you find out the way you did that you were losing your project. Some people shouldn’t be managers.

    32. SQL Coder Cat*

      When the private university I worked for, which had already gotten in financial and legal trouble for their shady dealings with a recruiting company, decided to double down on their dealings with the recruiting company, made everyone take a pay cut, and then gave huge bonuses to the executive team. I started at my current position four months later, and two years after I left the old school closed down and is facing multiple lawsuits. My current job makes me crazy sometimes, but it was the best decision I ever made.

    33. Oh so very anonymous*

      I actually hit today. We’re being pushed to deliver materials today for a project that is still changing. The person receiving them is on vacation until next Thursday. Management just wants the materials delivered, they do not care that they are incomplete and could be complete with another six days of work.
      I had hoped that a change in middle management would have addressed this systemic problem, but it has not.
      Apparently it’s a good example of Alison’s famous quote: “Your company sucks and isn’t going to change.”

    34. Great Beyond*

      New boss kept threatening that due to budget cuts, they only needed 1 person on our team. My coworker and I were freaking out. I was given more work, yet new boss would pit us against each other. When I left, they hired 2 people to replace me. 1 year later, new boss quit on the spot.

    35. Information Goddess*

      I’ve had 2. The first was when I was told that because I was part time I HAD to work all day the Friday after thanksgiving— when I had asked for it off a few months earlier and had always worked during Christmas/new year for everyone else. I started looking and left a few months later.
      The second was at a job where I did terrible on my annual review much to my surprise. I had to have what they probably would have called a PIP if they did that sort of thing. Instead it was a series of meetings on how I could improve. We started with communication. It was a two hour meeting in which I was told that I wasn’t communicating properly about a grant I was managing and the solution was that at the end of the day I send an email with what I had done, project updates and questions. Every day. I did this. We met to review my progress and my boss said “why are you emailing me every day, I don’t need to have this level of detail.” I said okay— two hours later we discussed that maybe once a week was enough. I did this. Next two hour meeting I was told that we needed to go back to daily emails but maybe I could not be so “needy” in them. At the next meeting, I handed my resignation in. Shocked my boss who apparently thought I was happy having these two hour meetings where she told me everything I did was wrong. I did not have a job lined up but found one a few months later.

      1. Minocho*

        Re: Holiday time work hour shenanigans:

        At my job I wrote about below, I was on call for Christmas week. It sucked, but I was the newbie, I figured it was likely from the get go. Second year, my boss was scheduled to be on call. I knew that wouldn’t fly and he’d push it on somebody – it ended up being me. Second straight Christmas scheduled to be on call. Stinks, but the VP was never going to do it.

        The third year, I was assigned to be on call for Christmas week again. Oh, oh no. I went to the woman who did the schedule and explained that I’d been on call Christmas weeks for the last two years. Somebody else was going to have to do it this year – it was not going to be me. She explained that it was perfectly fair – I didn’t have family, and everyone got some holidays. Why, she herself was on call for Labor Day!

        I informed her very shortly that I DID have family – in fact, distant family I hadn’t been able to see for two Christmases in a row because I couldn’t travel across the continent while ON CALL, and that I didn’t care what holidays she was scheduled for, I was not going to be on call for a third Christmas in a row. And I just walked away.

        We got a revised schedule later that week.

        1. Kim D.*

          Yes, how can you not see that a couple of days which may be up to five is the same as one day, which falls on the same day each year! /s

    36. Massive Dynamic*

      Great thread idea, Pink Dahlia, and good luck in your job search!

      My boss broke a file upload that I did and lied to me about it. And held out to the higher-ups that something must have gone wrong with my upload. Which I tied out meticulously.

    37. Katniss Evergreen*

      Ugh I’m sorry you found that crap out, it sucks to have that moment but sometimes it’s so necessary! Mine at my last job was when a coworker in an entirely different job function was talking about her favorite work task (one she actually enjoyed because it required creativity) and I realized I didn’t have a favorite part of my job, just tasks I was better at or disliked less than others.

      I had a second one when I told my boss that I was thinking about moving on and he mentioned converting me from a contractor to a fed in the future as a retention strategy. If you haven’t been paying attention to federal hiring noise about “the swamp” over the last 3 years, that was entirely impossible last year – and his using that to try to keep me in a job that doesn’t fit my goals felt like a slap in the face.

    38. JustaTech*

      It’s a little less ‘I’m done with this place” and a bit more “run!”.
      I was working in a lab working on an HIV vaccine and had heard through the grapevine that there were issues with our grant (it’s unusual to only have one grant in academia, but ours was very large). But I was young and new to academia and believed my boss when he said everything was fine.

      Then one day he came up to me with a hand-written list of pathogens he wanted to use at our animal facility, and would I email the heads of the animal facility about using them? I was expecting something innocuous, like E. coli or something.
      Nope.
      My boss had made a list of really, really dangerous stuff (several kinds of hanta virus, parvovirus, which can wipe out an entire facility in a matter of weeks, dengue). “Parvo? I can’t ask them about parvo, we had a parvo scare just last week!” “Just do it.”

      So I wrote the email, and then threw on my coat and ran all the way to the animal facility to beg their forgiveness for asking for such impossible, dangerous, thoughtless things. They were very kind (and the answer was “absolutely not”).

      Walking back I realized two things: I cared more about the animal facility’s opinion of me (and they were a separate institution who had no control over my employment) and that my boss was scared sh*tless about finding another grant, so no matter what I was about to be out of a job. I turned my job search up to 11.

    39. Granger*

      Yes! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to “do with my life” at about 25 years old and I enjoyed my job – it was a job, not a career, but because I didn’t have clear direction I just went with it. On my 8th work anniversary they gave me an “8 Years Served” label for my ID badge and when my manager handed it to me I felt like I’d been struck by lightning! *instantaneously in my head* HOLY CRAP. I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE OR THIS IS GOING TO BE MY LIFE.

    40. Anono-nono-nonymous*

      That happened to me 2 weeks ago. If I wasn’t pregnant, I might have quit on the spot. The job listing specifically said you needed 2 years in the specific job I have (it was only open to us), and an additional 2 years on the project. The person they chose was an external hire 18 months ago. They picked her this time because they picked her last time, she’s the only one hired by the current leadership, everyone else was in place prior to them coming onboard. I will be spending my maternity leave looking for a new job.

    41. Liz*

      Yes. My last job, 20 years ago. I was a paralegal in a law firm. where I was kind of junior, not really given all that much responsibility (IMO), despite being more than capable of doing so, and asking for more work, and in my reviews, being dinged for not having enough billable hours. I don’t remember the details, but someone on my team was leaving, a senior para. and while they didn’t come out and say it, it was clear I would not even be considered for her job. There was also some shuffling if I recall, and I was told i’d be moving to a different group, with my own caseload. So possibly and improvement. They had also hired someone to replace my co-worker who was leaving.

      FF to the replacement staying at her job because she was offered more money, etc., so I knew that with my co-worker still leaving, that would only leave me, and there was no way my move would happen, until someone else was hired. So I started looking, and found something almost immediately! Gave my notice, and left.

    42. TheAssistant*

      I was asked to apply for the role where I wrote the JD and was functionally acting in the position.

      Just that alone doesn’t seem that drastic, but this company kept denying me promotions and team transfers for a variety of reasons, telling me all sorts of ridiculousness but that they wanted to keep me. Everything was above my boss’ head and she was fully at a loss and frustrated. Telling me that they I hoped I applied for the job when it was posted was really them saying “we’re going to keep you in your exact role for as long as you’ll stay”.

      I applied for a job on a whim that day and was hired three weeks later. I’ve been in my current role for almost five years. Amazing career move for me.

    43. Bobina*

      Mine is unfortunately very recent, but I just started a new job, and within a few weeks was told:
      – We dont set individual goals/evaluations for people because its impossible for people to meet them (underlying problem here is that processes are long, convoluted and no one knows how to get anything done)
      – Projects dont really have priorities – unless someone is constantly chasing you for an update then just get stuff done at your own pace (underlying problem here is the company loves to wait until things are on fire before attempting to put out the flames, often the project you were told was a “get to it whenever” turns out to be “should have been done 6 months ago and now the customer are asking for an update”)

      They might seem like super minor things, but for me personally, it is the absolute opposite of what I want in a work environment, so I’m already planning my exit strategy!

    44. RA 1039*

      Yes! Last week when my boss was explaining to my new boss how I help her. I had been sold by the old boss that I was being groomed for a team lead position but she admitted during the transition meeting it doesn’t exist and it has been nearly 3 years that we (I?) have waited for the job to be created…
      That was the moment when I realized I let myself be strung along and likely would wait forever if I didn’t make some kind of move.

    45. Zephy*

      Job A: I was a department of one, plus my boss. There was some kind of personal BS between my boss and her boss (the director). No idea what the actual issue was, Director was a turd to everyone (except HR, who acted as his enforcer) so it was probably mostly him, but she also had her moments, which I’m sure didn’t help. Director decided to throw his weight around by arbitrarily deciding that I, and only I, was not allowed to use a tool in our database that every other department was allowed to use (in exactly the same way – basically designate a subset of items in the database and pull a report with their status and location, so I didn’t have to manually look each one up one-by-one every day). My reasons for wanting to be able to do this and suggestions for alternate ways to do it were also all summarily shot down, probably because it wasn’t about the tool, it was about punishing my boss for…trying to do her job, I guess? The idea of moving on had already started stirring in the back of my head before this stupid powerplay, because in addition to being a department of one plus a supervisor, I was part-time, with no benefits (not even PTO), and being paid eleven dollars an hour to deal with the fallout from above while also keep a whole department running, but it wasn’t until that happened that I seriously started looking. I loved the actual work, though. If that role were available again with a compensation package anywhere close to what I have at CurrentJob, I’d go back in a heartbeat. (It helps that Director Turdface and his Turd Mafia are also gone now. Boss called me when that happened, about a year and a half after I’d moved on, and sort-of-kind-of offered me my job back. It was bittersweet to basically say “I’d love to, but neither of us can afford that.”)

      OldJob B: This was a short stint – the clueless owner figured out about five minutes after he hired me that he couldn’t actually afford that many employees, but if he hadn’t laid me off I would have quit after about the same amount of time, anyway (about 6 weeks, all told). The owner showed unbelievably poor judgment and I wanted to GTFO before someone decided to sue. I haven’t had a reason to drive by the place lately, so I don’t know if the business has survived in the time of COVID, but I imagine he’s having a hard time if he is still open.

      1. Coffee Bean*

        I am sorry for what you went through. But you did give me a good laugh with your “Director Turdface and his turd mafia” reference.

    46. Wanderer*

      Two, right in a row! A pretty extensive period of me thinking “This is not my life” and finding my way on to something better.

      I was an elementary arts teacher, and I found out through being copied on an email and having to figure out the context that I was now going to split my time between two schools. The second school was very small, so they had one classroom to share with both special area teachers, and I’d only be teaching there one day a week. Brand new admins at school #1 insisted I could *only* teach there the same day the other special area teacher was there, meaning I had to be a teacher on a cart, meaning I couldn’t use much of my current lesson plans as they depended heavily on having a space. When I tried to talk to them, they said, “We’ve decided this is what’s best for our students.” They didn’t yet know our students, it was early enough in the year that schedule changes weren’t uncommon, and I didn’t see how it served students at either school to make me less efficient. I left within weeks for a new district. It really wasn’t about teaching on a cart or sharing space or adding new responsibilities – it was the complete lack of communication and respect for me and how that translated to being able to serve our students. I felt terrible leaving, but why stay if you’re set up for failure? Why wouldn’t we at least have a conversation about how we could do this in a way that supported me supporting kids?

      Fast forward to new job. After I start, I realize that while I was on the same payscale as all other teachers (and had to meet the similar certification requirements), I was expected to work longer hours than classroom teachers, staying after school to do tasks that were otherwise only done by classroom aides. It hadn’t even occurred to me to ask questions about this ahead of time, and I don’t think I would have taken the job if I’d known this was the expectation. It was clear they thought of special area teachers as somewhere in between classroom aides and “real” teachers–once, a kid complimented me by telling me I would make a good “real” teacher–and it could be really undermining in my work. Teaching is really hard–I have so much respect for my colleagues, teachers and classroom aides alike–and I wasn’t going to be treated as less-than because I’d chosen to specialize. It took a while for me to work out an exit plan but I knew on day 1 that I would not be staying at that job any longer than I had to. Ultimately, teaching was never going to be right for me long-term, but job 2 really liked me and could probably have kept me longer if they had treated my position with respect.

    47. Knitter*

      When the internet was spotty in my office and all my work was in a web-based database…each time the internet went out I lost what I was working on. I asked my manager for a solution and she said I just needed to wait another year till the building renovations were done and then the internet would be functional. When was the building renovation scheduled to be completed? Oh, just 9 months later.

      It did take me a bit longer to convince myself I was done… but thankfully my manager again helped me. I had told her I was super overwhelmed so she asked me to do a time break down of my responsibilities. Upon review, she said that everything could fit easily into a 40 hour week.

      When I left that job, I was eventually replaced with 2.5 people (yes, I did stalk their staff site)

    48. RabbitRabbit*

      Yes. At a former job, I worked my rear off (to the point where over 5 years later, people there still praise my name to current colleagues who come in contact with them), but my direct boss wasn’t actually that familiar with my actual work responsibilities. We were chronically understaffed with high turnover, and one day I was laying out my problems with being so busy. Her response was that I should quit my volunteer position on an internal board which directly related to my job functions and helped team building with other departments. (Plus it only took up a few hours a month.) That not only felt so massively dismissive and short-sighted, but I was also struck with how strongly, viscerally I did not want to leave that board position. So, I went to the board’s director, asked for a letter of recommendation as I would be starting a job search, and she referred me to a job opening within their department – which I got.

      Not only am I still working with the board, I’ve risen to a supervisory role among the staff that support the board, and I’m flourishing nicely.

    49. Twisted Lion*

      10 years ago when my mom passed away my then boss blew up my phone the day before her funeral demanding that I be into work the next day because I was out of PTO. That was when I realized that 1) she was a horrible human being and 2) the company was the worst place to work and I needed to get out. When I returned she asked me how my mothers day was two weeks later (well it was awful, thanks for asking) and then told me I was working all of the holidays that year. Putting in my notice was SO SATISFYING.

      1. CaliUKexpat*

        Omg I think my husband worked for this person a few years back! That or there’s 2 of them, which I dread to think. The day after his mum died(and the two days subsequent!), his boss was calling demanding to know when he was coming back in and reminding him there’s legally only 3 days bereavement leave, and he’d better come back soon because “the business has needs, you know”. At which point he lost all his fucks and told her he was taking at least 2 weeks even if it had to be unpaid and the business needs were her problem as management, not his.

        He’d already been compiling documentation of harassment over his refusal to violate compliance procedures, and this went straight to the top of the pile. He started job hunting in earnest after that, and ended up making a hefty complaint to HR and compliance just to save his job when he heard fourth-hand that she was about to make a move in sacking him. (Rules here are VERY strict on that kind of thing). He had a new job about a month after that. He switched jobs when I was 4 month pregnant so lost all his paternity leave and had to use his holiday for it, but that was 1000% worth it. But the day after his mum passed, that was when he mentally left that job.

        So sorry to hear you went through it too. :(

    50. Blackcat*

      When I was a high school teacher, there was a very public incident of racism at the school. Think student news paper publishing a “Black women need to straighten their hair to look professional” piece.
      We had a faculty meeting and were told we were not allowed to discuss the incident with our students. As in, if a student of color came to us distressed about it, we were supposed to turn them away.

      I. was. done.

      1. allathian*

        Yikes, I’m so sorry for all the POC students and especially the girls at your former school. That’s simply awful.

    51. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I got sick. Nothing major, a virus, but I couldn’t kick it. And a lot of it was due to my busy season, the travel, not eating great, etc. I’d been getting sick about that time every year for a few years, but that year it was just worse. I was in the ER because I thought I’d cracked a rib. Was up half the night, every night, coughing or from the pain. Once the doctor figured out my asthma had gone haywire and treated that aggressively is when I finally started to get better. In total, I missed 3-4 weeks of work. I ended up moving cross country about 6 months later.

    52. Cruciatus*

      I knew the moment I no longer felt guilty about leaving a job I was in for maybe just a year and a half! There were lots of moments here and there but the real moment was when my supervisor and the director called me back to the office while I was working elsewhere on campus (as directed) and they sat me down and interrogated me about one of my scheduling duties. I had no idea what they were talking about. They kept asking the same question in different ways like they were waiting for me to crack and say what I had done. They were “nice” about it, I guess, in that they weren’t, like, pointing a light in my face and saying “TELL US THE TRUTH” but I finally said I had no idea what they were getting at. It was just so unnerving being called back across campus, sitting behind a closed door with both of them staring at my asking questions. My supervisor finally said what the issue was, I said I knew nothing about that and we contacted someone else who might and that was that. But in that moment I knew my supervisor was never going to change, I was pissed the normally cool director also was there and that he could have thought I did whatever it was (which was just classroom scheduling issues, not like, life and death). I’m surprised I managed to forget some of the details by this point! Good! But yeah, that’s when I was hoping ANY other job on campus would open up (and one eventually did and I’ve been there now over 3.5 years). Can’t believe I felt guilty about leaving up until then. And talking to my successor, things have not changed… I’m glad I didn’t put up with that anymore.

    53. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Absolutely.

      Actually, I had three all happen in approximately a two month time-span:
      1. I was told that I was going to do something that is unethical. And argued with when I said I was not going to do so. (Note that its not that I was advised I was doing something unethical; I mean that I was given an order by TPTB to cross an ethical line that could have cost someone else a professional license, and my refusal to do something unethical was argued against by TPTB even after I pointed out that it would cost a third party their license.)

      2. I witnessed a scheming PTB wannabe try to repair a “relationship” with a subcontractor by blaming “the problem” on the dead guy.

      3. I politely declined consideration for a promotion due to not wishing to relocate myself and family to not-cheap-major-big-city-where-HQ-is roughly six months prior to all of this above nonsense, but at the same time this utter above nonsense was going down? TPTB decided that my physical presence was going to be required at HQ roughly every 2-3 weeks, often with less than 24 hours, always requiring flight arrangements and multi-night stays that put me back in my own house at the earliest hours of Saturday a.m.

      I’d say number 1 was the absolute straw, but that’s only because by the time that THAT had happened, I’d been job searching, and interviewing, and making an exit plan. And as I was sitting there arguing with TPTB about why I am NOT going to do that, I happen to see a notification on my personal phone, “Email from *newboss@newplace dot com* re: Job Offer for NotQuiteAnonForThis enclosed”.

      I dug in, went over TPTB head because what he was proposing was absolutely an ethical violation, went back to my desk, typed my acceptance in reply to that email and got the ball rolling on my background check. TPTB was utterly shocked and dismayed when I turned in my notice 10 days later when that cleared. He never saw it coming.

    54. MsNotMrs*

      I once worked at a private school where I had a terrible screaming-in-your-face supervisor. At one point I remember making mental plans about how I would handle it if she ever assaulted me. She had the full support of the admin, despite multiple complaints from multiple staff.

      At a staff meeting once, we looked at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with the idea of “how can we make sure the children are reaching self-actualization in their school careers?” Looking at it, I realized that I didn’t even have the foundational needs covered in this job–I felt physically unsafe and like I could be fired at any moment. I also was living hand-to-mouth because of the low pay.

      I didn’t quit that day or anything, but that was the day I was officially Done.

    55. ...*

      Lol, yup. They hired someone to give us a motivation speech with something a long the lines of “where do YOU want to be in ONE MONTH!!!!!” and my brain said “Anywhere but here” so I skedaddled

    56. Quinalla*

      At my last job, I was on vacation for a week to move house and I got called back in to deal with something they claimed I left a “mess” and were pissed off. When I came in, I found the person I handed work off followed zero of my instructions, had started redoing things that I already did. I had to throw out all his work, started with what I had handed off and finished it in a couple hours and went back to vacation. That incident brought into focus all the many times something similar had happened in the past and other “We’re FAMILY” and nonsense I’d put up with, but never quite this flagrant, and I was DONE.

    57. Minocho*

      It was a small company, and we did much of our IT in house – and we had a decent number of internal proprietary programs to maintain – and requests coming in to develop more.

      My title was Computer Programmer – as in, I was the only one. I handled all website programming, all reporting, all software integrations and communicati0ns – I did not have to manage the servers or the network, and I did not have to handle maintenance of personal desktop machines for other employee – that’s about it.

      We had an on call schedule that was on call for 7 day, 24 hours a day, every six or seven weeks. I was on call, and a call came in at 4 am. the phone was on, the ringer volume was at max, and it was near the bed – but I didn’t wake up. I woke up as normal and went in to work to find a panic – our only database server had died – hard – at about 4 am, and it had been discovered at 6 am, an hour before my start time, when the systems admin started work in the morning.

      We got *very* lucky. The systems admin guy had been harping on how dangerous it was to have no backup for the database server, and had a new server finally granted about a week before. he’d mostly provisioned it, and our tape backups happen a little after midnight, so we’d lost very little data, and he had a new server up and running and the tape backups restored by 10 am.

      Right after this was resolved I got called into the VP of IT’s office, and reamed out for failing to notify them of the outage from the phone call. He demanded to know what happened. I explained that I did not wake up when the call came in. He demanded to know what I was going to do about that. I couldn’t come up with anything. I did everything I could to have the notification come through, but if I was a deep sleeper, I didn’t see what I could do about not waking up. I explained that I had done everything I could think 0f. he said I would be written up for negligence and one more incident like this and I would be fired.

      I’m pretty sure he didn’t notice, but I was livid. And I was over it. I started job searching immediately, and had an offer within 4 days for a nice pay raise. My thought that he didn’t understand why I left was solidified when he asked me if it was the money. I kinda stared at him for a second, and decided it was easier to agree with him than attempt a real conversation at that point.

    58. Dash It, Emily!*

      I was sitting in a meeting with my manager, director, senior VP, and an external consultant for a software program we were implementing to figure out a plan for accomplishing project deliverables when I was well beyond capacity, even with 10 hours of OT authorized a week. The external consultant recommend authorizing additional OT for me because hiring someone with the same skill set would cost 5-6 times more than my OT rate, plus time would be lost in getting them trained to the same level of proficiency I already had. My leadership authorized unlimited OT and announced the expectation that I put in a minimum of 60 hours a week.

      A promotion promised to me was given to a coworker and I learned about this when it was announced in a team meeting, the person hired to replace my identical-position-as-mine coworker after that promotion was offered a higher pay rate than I made after three years with the company and five years more experience than the new hire, and then I learned that my skills are worth 5-6 times more than what I made, plus I’d have to work at least 20 hours more a week than I was hired for doing primarily work I wasn’t even hired to do (think being hired as a Marketing Assistant, but doing system configuration and other highly technical work due to a background in programming).

      In that moment, I finally realized they would never actually value my skills or recognize in any way how unfair the entire situation (especially taken all together) was to me. The meeting was on Thursday. I worked out my financial plans over the weekend and on Monday, I gave a two week notice with no other job lined up. My next job, a significant promotion within my actual career field, took a while to find, but it completely validated that I had been greatly taken advantage of by my prior company and that I deserved better.

    59. Crochet person*

      I was recruited to clean up and remake a function that is mandated by law for many employers. There are deadlines, mandated correspondence, and steep consequences for noncompliance. I was highly experienced and had done the same work for a similarly situated employer. I would be running this by myself, the same as at the previous place where a great piece of software stored all the case info, tracked deadlines, and also produced all of the required correspondence at the click of a mouse. During the pre-hire discussions, I mentioned that this type of software was essential for anyone to do the job single handedly and received assurances that I could pick the software as soon as I started. I took the job and found out the problems with the function were far deeper than had been let on and that the company would not pay for the kind of software that I needed and insisted that a cheap, worthless product be used ($5k vs. $35k.) I asked for administrative help and was turned down so I had produce all the correspondence myself down to putting postage on letters and taking them to the post office. Information I needed to gather for each case was spread between multiple systems and I was not granted access to some of it. I was shuffled from boss to boss, none of whom knew the day-today workings of my job. I should have quit early when the software issue arose but it had taken me more than a year to get the job and unemployment would be denied. Instead I had to keep working at this soul-crushing place seven months and wait to be fired so I could get unemployment. The night after they let me go, I slept like a rock. I saw the job board postings for the job and six months later saw a posting for an admin person who would be half time assisting this function.

    60. KR*

      I worked in a coffee shop and worked 4:30am shifts. I got tickets to a concert Saturday night but my final for college was due that week and Sunday was my homework day. So I very responsibly requested the day after the concert, Sunday, off nearly a month in advance. This was so I wouldn’t be too tired to do my final that day since staying up late for a concert and then working at 4:30 in the morning can make people tired due to lack of sleep. I had it off, the manager agreed to it.

      Then the schedule for that week came out and I was scheduled for it. I brought it up to the manager and he was sorry about it (another coworker had requested the day off and he forgot about me) and told me he would come in around 8 that day to take over for me but would not come in to open at 4:30am, defeating the purpose of asking for the day off.

      The second thing with that place was when they hired a new kitchen manager who was a sex offender. The sex offender, who certainly shouldn’t have been allowed to be the manager of my 16 year old coworker, then harassed that 16 year old. When she complained to the owners the manager dropped her shifts and the owners refused to fire him until her parents threatened to sue. Understandably she declined to come back to work there. We all then discovered that had they googled this guy before hiring him to manage minors the sex offender would have literally be the first page of google results.

    61. Cedrus Libani*

      I had a boss who loved to shred people in meetings. He was inappropriately personal about it, too. But he was brilliant, and he usually wasn’t wrong, just an asshole.

      This was in academia. The guy had hired me to expand upon a “counter-intuitive” result from his PhD. Long story short, he was doing it wrong. But I’d built him a system that could actually do what he’d intended, and I thought I could get him interested in that, because I am a sweet summer child.

      Anyway, he was mad about something else, I was due for my one-on-one, and I knew I was about to catch hell. Didn’t know what for, but I knew the pattern. Sure enough, he tells me that all my work from the past several months is trash. I have missed a crucial control. He gleefully winds up for one of his rants. But hold on…

      1) I’d already been working with this type of instrumentation for years. I have never seen anyone do that control. Not before, and not since. It’s not a thing. I checked.

      2) I actually HAD done that control. Months ago. What I wanted was extremely fiddly, at the limits of what the instrumentation could do, and I wanted no surprises.

      So I stopped him, opened my notebook, and pointed to the “crucial” experiment. It shut him up for a whole fifteen seconds. Then the rant continued, just as before.

      What was the new-and-improved reason why I was lazy, incompetent, and had no future in science? Well, when I’d run an extremely niche control to satisfy my own paranoia, not intending to report it or show it to anyone, I had not bothered to spend a lot of time on the write-up. Specifically, while I’d fully described what I had done in my notes, the graph still had the (somewhat cryptic) axis labels from the instrument’s internal control system – backwards compatible to the days where every bit counted, so none of the names were longer than 8 characters. Think “flow” vs “rate of chocolate addition (mL/min)”.

      Aha. So this has nothing to do with me, does it?

      So I left. I’m told that that reference is hilariously awful, but I have plenty of others to balance it. No, he never considered the possibility that his results weren’t real – it was my fault, and the fault of at least two poor saps after me. He’s now basically shut down his lab, in large part because none of the follow-ups to that result ever worked, but he couldn’t let himself be wrong.

    62. Ellyfant*

      Ohh. This is a great thread, thanks for posting.

      Mine was when I was concerned about a particular issue at work and mentioned this to my boss….and he lashed out in response. That entire conversation reminded me how I get no appreciation for work well done; only criticisms. “I disagree, let’s drop this” would have been okay – but why get angry at someone who is speaking up out of a genuine concern for your organisation?

      I felt so under appreciated and felt like there was no use making any contribution to this place.

  3. Kimmy Schmidt*

    Anyone have any positive stories to share related to either libraries or higher education? I feel like I’m surrounded in a lot of uncertainty and fear in my chosen profession, but I’d love a small dose of optimism.

    1. blepkitty*

      Have you seen the Library Take-out video from Duke University? Not exactly a story, but it’s pretty cute and a reminder that there are lots of fun librarians out there.

      1. Kimmy Schmidt*

        Oh man, yes! I have a group chat with some professor friends. One of them shared that this week and it was the feel-good vibes I needed.

    2. Ey-not-Cy*

      I’m in a high school librarian, so not higher ed, but one of our distance learners is back in the building. They came to the library to get a book. The counselor was in here thinking they were upset about being back in the building, no, the tears were of joy–to be back in my library. I will be able to coast on that joy for several weeks. I’ve worked hard to make the library a safe and welcoming place and knowing that it is…worth every stress I’ve had since school started. (We are a small town population<5000. Covid cases are here, but we've managed to stay in school since Aug 24. Most of my students wear masks–they want to be here.)

      1. twig*

        I loved my highschool library. (also in a small town with limited resources — also pre-internet) Thank you for creating and maintaining that oasis.

    3. OTGW*

      Honestly, it is nice to see how excited some people are that we’re open again. And a lot of patrons have been super understanding about our procedures, what’s available, our quarantine period with the items, etc. And yeah, I don’t want to be here, but idk, it’s nice to see that some people want to be here.

      1. whistle*

        Oh man, I was so excited when my library opened back up! I’m just doing curb site pick up, which has been great. The libraries in my local area have handled things very well as far as I can tell, and I’m so thankful to be able to get my books!

    4. Go Higher Ed!*

      I work in higher ed administration. I love it. Typically the benefits are great to counteract maybe a little lower pay. There is typically job security. We do experience that when someone comes in from outside higher ed, they are amazed at the level of bureaucracy but every job has it’s downside.

      I don’t work directly with students, but being on a campus (not now but normally) and having a new wave of students each semester makes things feel fresh and exciting. It’s a visual reminder of why we do what we do.

      1. Elenia*

        Hey guys I was super excited to be able to go back to the library and pick up books. Imiss browsing but at least curbside pickup is a thing.

    5. Unladen European Swallow*

      I work in higher education administration and it’s the only career field I’ve had. I really really enjoy being in a university setting, even with all its foibles. As I’ve risen up in my career, I’ve found that I need to be more deliberate in carving out a realistic work-life balance, but I’ve found that I can prioritize it and work in offices where it’s considered important. I’ve been working remotely since early March and the flexibility while having to take care of a toddler has been a godsend.

      I actually got a new job at a new institution a little over a month ago, right in the middle of the pandemic, so even with all of the upheaval and uncertainty in higher ed these days, those kinds of opportunities exist. In fact, I was fortunate enough to be choosing between two very good roles at two well resourced institutions, which I attribute a lot to following Alison’s advice here.

      1. urban teacher*

        Gives me hope. I’m hoping to transition from teaching special education to working in student affairs so I have been applying non stop.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I will share my own optimism as well!

      I teach a second-half-of-the semester credit course about information literacy, and this semester I have the most students I’ve ever had. They’re all different majors, and students have shared lots of personal connections to information and how they plan to use information in their chosen career. I’ve already gotten great critical questions, and I love seeing the students develop.

    7. Rachel in NYC*

      I’m in higher education central administration (so my office works with the rest of the university but not directly with students.) It definitely doesn’t pay market value because you are technically working for a non-profit and that is one of the gives but the benefits are pretty good (my healthcare is great, as is the vacation time.) And I’ve got COLA raises in years that my friends’ employers weren’t even mentioning raises. So it’s definitely a give and take.

      From a people perspective, I find it really healthy mentally- that my bosses and co-workers are all great and we get along really well. Even being wfh until January, we’ve been having social get together online (all voluntary) because we do genuinely like it each.

      At the same time, every department is different. And if you ever thought high school was political, it has nothing on many higher ed departments, schools, and professors. (It makes sense, there is only so much funding but it can become a thing. On the other hand, it’s very department dependent.)

    8. Atheist Nun*

      I am a librarian in a community teaching hospital which is unaffiliated with a medical school. We are in NYC, and the end of March/all of April was really grim. Luckily all hospital staff were deemed “essential workers,” so none of us was furloughed. I walk to work and thus was able to keep the library open continuously (one member of my team now works remotely, the other one is a hero and has taken buses and trains in order to report to work almost every day of the week). The pandemic has actually increased library usage here. Back in March I started emailing new articles about COVID-19 to trainees and department heads who might be interested in these topics. I was happily surprised to receive a lot of positive feedback, even from people who had never contacted the library before. Now those same patrons request literature searches and articles from us. We also have a lot more employees utilizing the physical library space. They are continuing their education, and our library is often the only quiet space they can access (because school libraries and public libraries are closed, and their homes might not be an ideal study environment). We have a “group room” which has now been repurposed as a “Zoom room,” where patrons can log onto an online class or apply for interviews. One of our residents spent 7 hours here on a Zoom call for a fellowship interview! I tell our patrons that COVID-19 has made everyone, even the most seasoned clinicians, into a learner, so research is more important than ever. I am so glad that the library can offer information to support patient care.

    9. squeakrad*

      I happen to know several people who have transitioned into library work – local, children’s librarian and academics – and they are all PROFOUNDLY happy. That’s all I have but good luck!

    10. OntarioLibraryWorker*

      I work in a public library (not as a librarian, I’m a ‘service representative’ with more duties than a clerk, like programming and reader’s advisory) and I absolutely love my job, even now. We’re open to the public now (with masks and lots of extra sanitizing!) and it is just so wonderful seeing all my regulars again – and they are so happy to come back. We are doing tons of virtual programs, we’ve got ‘take and make’ craft kits for all ages (to replace the in-house programs we were doing), we’ve waived fines for the rest of the year – overall it’s been really positive. And on the employee side, we have all the PPE we need, a screening questionnaire that is very clear on when we need to stay home (WFH is not possible unfortunately), and managers that are willing to back us up if we have customers who refuse to wear masks (for non medical reasons). Some of our staff are really suited to video, whether filming, editing or starring, so they have a whole new area to thrive in. I am having a blast using our library’s Cricut to make up dozens of craft kits each week. Our e-resources have expanded and we have people who would have never tried an e-book now all gung-ho about learning in case we have to shut down again. So while this isn’t how I pictured my job, I really think management is doing the best they can under our ‘new normal’, and our patrons have been 99% lovely and just thrilled to get their books again.

    11. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yeah, I feel like my school is doing a pretty good job. Dorms are all single rooms. Students are being asked to not go home for Thanksgiving. They require masks. All classes are online and we have an entire dorm set aside for testing. The library has reduced seating, limited building access to folks associated with the school, and requites masks. While I don’t think it’s perfect, I am very happy with how seriously everyone is taking the situation. And the students seem to be taking it seriously too, which is nice to see.

    12. bibliovore*

      I am a late-ish career transition-er and had work experience in non-profits, corporate, small business, retail. I received my MLIS when I was 35. Looking back the coolest thing about being a librarian is the flexibility. I was able to be a public librarian in a very busy down town location. (summer reading programs with over 500 kids) a school librarian for pre-k- 8th grade, and now an academic librarian subject specialist. Just this week I am moderating virtual panel discussions for our city book festival and conducting a virtual professional development workshop for another college.
      My university libraries’ administration has been very supportive during these pandemic times and ensuring safety of staff on campus. I am really grateful that I can zoom into the classes and my meetings without the added layer of “in-person” stress. We have had pay-cuts and furloughs but we are sharing the pain. I am grateful for AAM advice over the years as I would have been in worse financial shape had I not advocated for myself during performance evaluations and for promotions.

    13. Tessera Member 042*

      I just graduated with my PhD this spring into the pandemic hiring freezes in higher ed. Fortunately, the community colleges I was adjuncting for offered me more classes than I expected. In addition, the community college system conference went virtual this year, meaning that I presented yesterday on using screencasting to give student feedback to a crowd of 123 people (which would have never happened in person!) I also had people reach out to me today to say they had just tried using screencasting, so it’s nice to see that I’m making an impact.

    14. Anne of Green Gables*

      I’m a librarian at a community college. We opened the library limited hours for fall semester and just added in one much-requested service. Our reception to being open again has been really positive, students are following the rules and understand that things aren’t like they used to be in the library. We’ve also had huge increases in library chat usage and helping students and faculty remotely. I’m also very pleased overall at how my institution has handled things, including letting staff choose if they are ready to be on campus or not.

    15. Pam Adams*

      I am an academic advisor in the California State University system. We transitioned well to online, and I have good cohorts of both graduating seniors and incoming freshmen/transfers.

      As always, we have too much work and not enough bodies, and I don’t look forward to the budget woes of the next few years. Seeing the students succeed is a great motivator, though!

  4. blepkitty*

    Does anybody with ADHD have experience asking for accommodations surrounding the time it takes to do work? I’m thinking of asking for firm, clear deadlines and possibly additional time to complete work–except I also need it to be clear that I’m not asking to only be given one task at once. I’m not sure how to say that.

    Also, my company’s ADA coordinator told me she’d send me a functional job description to give my doctor when requesting accommodations, but then all she sent me was the job ad for the job I applied to. It doesn’t look like what the internet led me to believe a functional job description should have and doesn’t even mention one of the tasks brought up on my PIP as needing improvement.* Is it normal for a functional job description to simply be a job ad?

    *The PIP meeting happened two days after she sent me the job description. The ADA coordinator was in the PIP meeting. I don’t know if she knew what would be on the PIP or not, but I’m inclined to think she did.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Regrettably, yes. Many employers don’t know how to prepare a true set of job specifications or functional job description, or simply don’t think putting the time/effort in to do put one together is worth the return. This holds especially true if you’re dealing with an employer who has a lot of positions with only a few employees in each of them – they’ll often think it’s too much effort to do, for something that only applies to a few employees.

      Add in that most of the time HR and management people don’t actually know what all a given position can entail, and the employer feels awkward asking a current employee (especially one they may not be happy with), to tell them all the intricacies of the roll… and yeah, many employers don’t actually have functional job descriptions available, even if they should.

    2. Academic Librarian Too*

      I hope this will help from a manager’s point of view.
      I am assuming the PIP is because work is not being completed in an accurate and timely matter.
      I have worked with ADA coordinators. In my case, they were aware of the instatement of a PIP.
      What my expectations of the employee were:
      The employee sits down with me and we go over big picture projects and timeline dates of delivery. We agree on tasks that must be completed- payroll forms due on the 2nd Monday of the Month by noon. Forms are accurate.
      Expectations for daily tasks. Phone messages taken with dates, full names spelled correctly, etc.
      Filing completed by end-of-day accurately. The result/completion is not guesswork.

      Communication- Perhaps filing cannot be done daily due to other circumstances. Let me know in an email. Perhaps big project isn’t moving along as fast as expected- let me know where you are stalled. Do you need training, advice, perspective?
      Don’t wait until a two days before the due date to say you need more time.

      How the ADA counselor can help- breaking big project in manageable chunks, checklists, time management techniques, communication advice. I had a report whose ADA accommodations stated that every assignment had to be in writing. Even could you go down to the mail room and pick up that FedX package that I have been expecting? I happily complied. I wanted my employee to succeed.

    3. RagingADHD*

      In that situation, I’d give my doctor a copy of the items listed in the PIP. Obviously those are the areas where you need more support.

      Most places I’ve worked did not have any kind of official detailed functional job descriptions, just general role descriptions. Probably because the specifics of an individual’s day-to-day tasks were so dependent on the manager/team they worked with.

  5. Gunther Centralperk*

    Managers, how are you balancing your team’s general output right now? My team is staying on top of work within reasonable SLAs, but they’re noticeably not as fast at completing things as they were pre-pandemic. I feel like upper management is pushing to get things “back to normal” since we’ve been WFH for a few months, but the reality is that things are still not normal.

    1. Elenia*

      I am focusing on a few things:
      – Core job responsibilities. Really drilling down for two things: What HAS to be done, and what the bosses want to be done
      – Focusing on measurable deliverables so when the bosses say what is your team working on? I have ready, quantifiable answers.
      – Working with them whenever possible to establish priorities.

      it has helped.

    2. Elenia*

      My employer also will let you go with no notice. They have given a severance the last two times. But I figure I only owe them so much loyalty – they will let anyone go in a heartbeat, even if they are providing value!

    3. B Jolie*

      The nature of our work makes it easy to prioritise tasks (since they are due at specific times) and as long as I see progress on those key areas, I’m lenient if they’re overdue in other areas.

      I’ve also made it a point to regularly check in on our development plans as I know it’s tough to be on your own at home and not get any feedback. So I want to make sure they still feel seen with their ambitions and work on themselves.

      On top of that, I keep reiterating that this is not a normal time, I understand it is exhausting to keep working at „normal“ speed, I understand if they need a break, and appreciate all they do. (And I push back to my management if their are too outrageous.)

    4. Ferrina*

      I’ve been quietly adding time to timelines. I’ve also been crosstraining so if someone needs a break, they know they can take it and someone else on the team will cover for them. This has actually made the team MORE productive- less stress about work, they take breaks when they need it and they come back rejuvinated (since they know someone was covering them while they were gone).
      I’ve also been “revisiting efficiency practices to maximize productivity” where in I give my team inordinate amounts of time to update SOPs (or to “thoroughly evaluate and ensure streamlining is incorporated at pivotal process points” and not actually make any updates) . This allows breaks for low-stakes nice-to-have work that also make higher-ups happy.

    5. Anon for this*

      I have no suggestions but thank you for doing this. My company is expecting pre pandemic levels of productivity and more. I can’t do it. Just mentally cannot work at the same level just now. (Think I might have an undiagnosed executive function disorder but insurance won’t cover the investigations.) I’m incredibly stressed and I’d love for my boss to run interference like you’re doing.

    6. Anax*

      Not a manager, but from an employee perspective – if it’s possible for your workplace, flextime has been really helpful. A lot of people in my workplace just aren’t sleeping well due to stress, and that hits especially hard when most of us work 7-4. Our managers have made it clear that working odd hours and taking longer lunches or breaks, is fine if we need the break, and we absolutely do not need to work overtime or on nights/weekends, and that hasn’t brought things back to “normal”, but it’s helped.

      (A lot of us are catching a nap on those breaks.)

  6. Annie*

    Hi everyone!

    I need some perspective as I think the hell of a workplace I’ve been in for the last year warped my perception of normality.

    Last year in September I (24F) started my current job. In my very first day, my colleague (48F) who I shared an office with badmouthed absolutely everyone behind their back, going as far as calling people’s kids ugly. She said that she didn’t like women. She then started being hot and cold with me. I shrugged off her mood swings. She wouldn’t put phones coming for me through if she didn’t like it but I never made a big deal out of it.

    A month or so into the job, she went ballistic on me. I will spare you the details but basically she said that I had a problem with her and that I bullied her… by talking to other colleagues but not to trying to talk to her when she was giving me silent treatments. She swore a few times and when I told her that it was not acceptable, she goes ‘well I’m (insert nationality), it’s the way we talk’. I’m not same nationality with my colleagues, they are native to the country we’re in. So this comment made me feel excluded.

    At that point I found out that she was with the company for 8 years and there have been 7 people in my position during this period working directly with her and sharing an office. To me it was incredibly fishy, but when I asked about this to other colleagues they were like ‘yeah, they all left for various reasons though’.

    Around January, where she was completely ignoring me leading up to this, I made a horrible mistake and opened up to another colleague (40M) about it. I said that I didn’t know what her problem was and that I was trying to do my job but she was making it impossible. I also mentioned what she’d told me about not liking women and I said that this could be a reason or maybe she doesn’t like me personally. All I said was this.

    A couple of weeks later, I’m pulled into my boss’ office. She’s crying, apparently the colleague I confided in told her what I said. Thing is, I didn’t say anything hurtful or badmouth her so my boss is not angry with me. He says there’s been a lot of misunderstandings between us, we need to grab a cup of coffee together and talk this through. She absolutely refuses it. And since January she hasn’t spoken to me. My boss just sort of left it there. She has been freezing me out for almost a year now. She completely ignores me in virtual meetings.

    I heard her calling me names, laughing at me, mocking me etc. I ignored all these. We are a small team of 7. I don’t have any problems with anyone else. She’s also friends with everyone else. She has her moments with others too but nothing as extreme as it was with me. She’s overly friendly with the colleague who snitched me, calling him lover etc. Now he treats me with absolute disrespect too. He pick holes in my projects and he’s very loud about it especially in front of my manager.

    She’s taken about 20 sick days in the last year, my boss doesn’t seem to have a problem with it. We have no HR so I can’t go over my boss’ head.

    Other people including my boss acting like nothing is happening makes me feel soooo weird. I feel like it’s all in my head and/or I am the problem here. But I honestly didn’t do anything to add fuel, I’ve been kind and respecful all along. Am I being gaslighted?

    I started therapy but it hasn’t helped me much yet. I’m quite depressed and it greatly affects my life outside work. I want to quit but it’s not a great time due to the pandemic and also I’ve recently been promoted and am trying to finish a certificate course that ties me up with the company. Please let me know your thoughts and give me some advice or I’m going to lose it! Thanks so much.

    1. should i apply?*

      You are totally being gaslighted. None of this should be normal professional behavior. It sounds like you have gotten stuck in a very dysfunctional workplace. Based on what you describe I think your best option is to look for a new job.

    2. Lady Heather*

      Oh, that sounds awful.

      I don’t really know what to say, except that:
      her sick days are none of your business, quit worrying about them, and –
      any time she has a sick day, she’s not bothering you, so maybe start seeing it as a ‘yippeee she’s not in today!’.

      because she absolutely sounds like a person whose absence to rejoice. Uh, I feel for you.

    3. Choggy*

      First, you don’t want to confide anything else to anyone at this company, the only person you should be going to is your boss, and only when getting your work done is being affected, not for a personal relationship issue. You say you can’t leave, but unfortunately, the only thing you can do is what you can control. You can’t make her like you, you can’t make people be on your side. You should *not* keep an eye on your coworker’s comings and goings either, not your circus, not your monkey.

      Keep your head down, do your work, get your certificate, and get the hell out of dodge.

    4. irene adler*

      Wow! I am so sorry you have to deal with this.
      High school antics usually end with graduation, but clearly not with some of your co-workers.
      I wish I could suggest something that would help. But management-your boss included- is failing you by letting this continue.
      Have you gone back to the boss and told him directly that people continue to be abusive towards you? It may be that he thinks he doesn’t need to do anything more because you haven’t brought this to him -repeatedly. Yes, it shouldn’t be this way. But your boss isn’t very good with managing people.

    5. Haven’t picked out a username yet*

      I hate to be really blunt, but a start looking for another job. The dynamics seem really dysfunctional and I can’t imagine having a manager who allows for one employee to refuse to talk to another for almost a year. Respect in the workplace is not cultural, so don’t buy into that excuse. In the interim, as you look, I would speak to your boss again and lay out how the Situation is impacting your ability to do your work and ask what suggestions and actions you can take. (They should be taking actions, but first have a clear conversation with them. I wish you well and hope you can move on quickly.

    6. Moneypenny*

      I once had a silently turbulent relationship with a coworker. She was below me in the hierarchy, but didn’t report to me and I didn’t assign her work to do. We had issues from almost the moment I started. She was older than me, so at early on I thought perhaps she had wanted my job and might just be a little jealous, so I gave her some slack. Nevertheless, the relationship began to get toxic. Each of us doing passive little asides and snubs that didn’t help anybody. It got to the point that when I finally did leave for another job, she refused to talk to me. The fact that I had to pass my projects to her didn’t matter, she refused to discuss them or schedule a time to talk. (After I left, I learned she bad mouthed me to my replacement, who then in turn talked smack about me to others… fortunately, I’d left the industry by then and gave them all a silent middle finger)

      Though I still firmly believe she initiated the Cold War, I didn’t do my part to alleviate it. And whether you like it or not, that’s going to be your responsibility. Because she obviously has a pretty deep stake in the ground at the company and isn’t going anywhere. She has friends (some you know and some you don’t). So rather than take the silent road and ignore her or worse still talk to others about her, I think you need to treat her like rogue feral dog. Stay calm, carry treats, and if at any point she begins to trust you give her a pet.

    7. Dust Bunny*

      I got to the second paragraph here and knew it was going to be a zoo.

      Your coworker is an abusive wack job and your boss is being useless and awful.

      Sorry. Don’t talk to anyone, keep your head down, and start looking for a different job. This place isn’t going to address this and you don’t need this kind of shenanigans in your life.

    8. deesse877*

      This is a thing. What is happening is something I’ve seen before. It’s a common way for abusers to operate. And if others refuse to acknowledge that it is abuse, then it’s gaslighting too.

      In a small unit or org, basically everyone is complicit with abuse when it happens, so they are unlikely to change or apologize or make restitution. Unfortunately, I think you gotta run.

    9. Toxic Waste*

      Do you work at my office with me? I’m going through something very similar. I don’t have much advice, but please know that it’s them and not you. Focus your energy on job searching and getting out of there.

    10. Sherm*

      While you job search, be sure that your boss is aware of how your coworker’s freezing you out is affecting work. For example, if your boss asks “Why aren’t the TPS reports complete yet?”, and it’s because you need Jane’s input and she’s not talking to you, explain this to the boss. It is a problem and it should be the boss’s problem.

    11. Anonosaurus*

      Your workplace is fundamentally dysfunctional and you as an individual will not be able to change it. Don’t waste any more time or energy trying (I’ve done that so don’t be me – I wasted a year of my life and got hugely stressed by it).

      While you are finishing up the qualification and looking for a new job, which I would encourage you to treat as your number one priority, i would try to focus on what you are getting out of this job – your certification, your income and whatever other professional development you can get – and try to create a separation between your job and the rest of your life as much as possible. in my experience of working in such dysfunctional workplaces they can become all consuming and and it’s easy to get caught up in a habit of thinking about and stressing about work all the time and forgetting there is is a big world out there with lots of companies that don’t run like this. spending as little time as possible in the workplace will help with that – can you work from home or elsewhere as much as possible, or use a conference room etc to get away from your colleague? Also try to leave work at work and not get involved in discussions with coworkers about the office, people’s behaviour, and all of the drama because this becomes self-perpetuating.

      I would also watch my back because it sounds like they wouldn’t hesitate to use any mistake or perceived performance issue against you, so it’s better not to give them any ammunition. if you can’t complete a piece of work because your colleague is not cooperating with you you need to be able to make that clear to management if necessary.

      Wishing you luck on making your escape sooner rather than later, and I hope that you start to feel the benefit of therapy soon as well – the situation you describe sounds absolutely draining and hard enough to cope with even if you felt your mental health was in good shape, so I’m sorry that your depression is making it even harder and I hope it’s soon improves.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      This person is a workplace bully. You can google that term and see for yourself.
      And you are correct, no matter what you do there will be NO satisfying this person. They will always have some issue with you. This is why there have been seven people in an eight year period. She did the same thing to them.

      Since this has been going on for eight years, your boss is a spineless enabler. Your boss should not be in charge of people at all.

      There is no fix for this except for you to move on before you forget what a healthy workplace looks like. I am so sorry. You can go to the therapists all you want and your therapist will never be able to fix her. I mean this as you are fine and your coworker has huge problems. Take care of you and get out of this job.

    13. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Your coworker is manipulative and abusive, and it’s possible there’s mental illness involved as well. Since it’s clear that your boss isn’t going to do anything effective, start looking for a new job. Just get out.

    14. Cleopatra*

      I am so so sorry to hear this. Having such a bad atmosphere at work is so horrible, and of course it will affect your personal life… But look, please keep in mind that this is only TEMPORARY, and that you will get the hell out of there as soon as you get your certificate. Update your resume as of today, and start looking to see what is on the job market. An honestly, worst case scenario, is this certificate so important? Is it worth sickening yourself for? Can’t you do it with another company in the future? In all cases, even you can’t change companies now, be patient, as you WILL be getting out of there. We always have a choice to make, and you should not feel trapped. Start looking for jobs today, as this can take quite a long time. Do this while finishing your certificate. It will make you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

  7. When are you back?*

    For those whose office are still closed, have you heard anything new from your company as to when you’ll be back?

    I’m on the east coast of the US. Work for a very large company (like 70,000 employees maybe?). We heard pretty early on the offices are closed until 2021. But not sure what happens on Jan. 2.

    1. blepkitty*

      We’re operating at mostly telework and are basically waiting and watching. Leadership has been keep us updated on the status even when there are no changes to the plans, though, which I appreciate.

    2. Not a Real Giraffe*

      We get updates and moving targets every two months. We were told last week that we won’t be open until “January at the earliest,” which means that in December, we’ll get another update saying we won’t return until “March at the earliest.” It makes it hard to plan long-term, but I recognize that everyone is operating under a lot of uncertainty.

      Is there a logical person at your firm that you can ask about a timeline for an office reopening update?

      1. Anax*

        Similar situation here. We’re planning a phased reopening, so about 10% of employees will be going back “no earlier than January”. For the rest of us, it’s “several months after phase 1, probably, depending on how things go.” So at least most of us have quite a bit of lead time; it definitely won’t be until late spring at earliest, and maybe not at all next year.

    3. Taura*

      I work for a large company as well. They told us back in June or so we wouldn’t be back in the office until January, but nothing else official has been mentioned. On the other hand, because my group CAN wfh and shares office space with another group that CAN’T, it’s possible that we’ll be told to stay home for the forseeable future in order to keep the office safer for the other group. But this is a guess from my manager, not official.

    4. ThatGirl*

      We have been told we are allowed/encouraged to WFH through the end of the year — our office is technically open, but only a few departments have people going in, usually because there’s specific equipment they need, and even then only a couple days a week.

      So far, it’s officially till Jan 2, but I fully expect that in November or December we’ll get an update with an extension of that. Despite the current leadership’s initial discouragement of working from home, it turns out we’re all pretty good at it and the company is doing about as well as can be expected.

      (I work in the Chicago ‘burbs for a well-known company with maybe 500 employees.)

    5. WantonSeedStitch*

      I’m at a large university in the U.S. (major city in a state that’s handling the pandemic well, but whose population density means it’s still a fairly risky place). We have some students back on campus, and some staff whose jobs require them to be on campus (e.g., people who work in research labs), but the rest of the staff is being told that we should continue to work from home, and that we should not expect to be back in the office until at least January. My upper management has suggested it seems unlikely we’ll be asked to go back before spring, in fact. But we haven’t been told a specific date, and I expect we won’t get much more info until we’re getting close to the end of the year. The university is being very cautious.

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

        I’m at a university too that has campuses in more than one state. We have on our website and intranet a Return To Campus plan that gives about 4 phases of return — who will return at what point, how safety protocols will be implemented in each phase (people may need to work alternating days or shifts, break rooms will be closed, restrooms converted to single-occupant, elevators will be shut off or restricted use, etc.) But we aren’t given any timeline or dates — it’s all up to our state and local authorities on what phase we are in. As with WantonSeeStitch we already have some very limited students/faculty/staff returning to campus. It depends on what can and can’t be done remotely so some jobs (like most of the administrative staff) will probably remain remote until August or September of 2021 while some (research lab staff, facilities and procurement) are all fully back because apparently now is a good time to renovate some areas of campus that have been long neglected.

    6. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

      I work for a hospital system, and we’ve been told “no earlier than January 1” but in planning meetings, we’re hearing it probably won’t happen until a vaccine is out and we’ve starting building herd immunity, and that most of us will probably still remain at least mostly at home (because what a shock – we can get our work done just as well!)

      But again, hospital – and one that focuses on infectious disease in particular – so our execs are super cautious.

    7. Choggy*

      We just had a socially-distanced meeting with our President and head of Administration and we are WFH indefinitely into the new year. I think companies will be hard-pressed to truly know when WFH should be over. Too many obstacles in my company right now to getting people back in the office, and the company is still doing very well even with a large majority of the employees working from home. They have started putting in touchless faucets/toilets, but we still have areas where social distancing would be impossible if the departments return to the office. I like that they are going with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. I think they’ve even found another benefit (for the company, for the employee, not sure yet), we get 5 sick days a year, and are told not to come into work sick. With people working from home, they can either continue to work while sick, or take a sick day. It will be interesting to see how that pans out.

    8. MissGirl*

      I just don’t think anyone knows. Even if they told you January that could very well change. We’ve been told maybe June; now it’s January. It’ll happen when it happens.

    9. M. Albertine*

      We were told a couple weeks ago to expect to work from home until June 1st. (University, so it makes sense to plan on a semester-by-semester basis.)

      1. Tessera Member 042*

        Community college here, committed early in the summer that fall would be delivered remotely (except for classes in healthcare and trades that need the lab/shop time) or on the “hyflex” model where half the class is in the classroom and the other half attends via webconferencing on any given day. We were just told that spring semester will also be remote or hyflex, but that they’ve identified rooms big enough for distancing to allow some classes to be held face to face.

    10. Elenna*

      We were told a couple months ago that we’d be WFH at least until Jan 2021 (our job can be done entirely remotely). Haven’t heard any official updates since then, but my manager told my team that from what he knew, we wouldn’t go back to at least a few months into 2021. Really there’s no reason to bring us back until the pandemic is over.

      (side note, I almost typo’d above and wrote “until Jan 2921”. Sometimes it feels like the pandemic has been going on for 900 years!)

    11. DataGirl*

      I’ve stopped asking. They made it up to the individual manager so many teams are back but mine is not- my manager likes working from home so I think she’ll keep us out as she isn’t forced by the higher ups to bring us back.

      1. Liz*

        My managers made a comment a few months back (my group is small, only 4 of us), that led me to believe even when and if we go back, if we wanted to continue to WFH it wouldn’t be an issue. I’m hoping to do that, but of course would go in, if needed. I’m slightly high risk, plus i just don’t trust what I can’t control, i.e. ventilation etc. in the building and actions of my co-workers!

    12. Charlotte Lucas*

      I work for my state. We were told next summer at the earliest. I’m going in very briefly next week for my flu shot. It will be weird.

    13. Lyudie*

      I’ve heard they are talking about sending us back to the office in January, though the last I heard no actual decision had been made.

    14. Nicki Name*

      Jan. 2 is a Saturday, so probably not a lot happens then…

      Our current official return date is “not before January”– but it’s openly acknowledged that even that is unlikely at this point for most of us. My company’s pattern right now is to move the date out again every 2-3 months, so I expect to hear around Thanksgiving that we’re not talking about large-scale returns until the spring.

    15. Just a PM*

      We are in Phase 1 of reopening, which is maximum telework. We’ll be under maximum telework till at least March 31st. Our building is open and if anyone wants to go in, they can but they have to clear it with their supervisor first.

      I like to think our head honcho chose March 31st because OPM is notoriously unreliable when it comes to winter, inclement weather, and open status so we’ll preempt OPM this winter, but I know she chose that date because it’ll be after the flu season and hopefully we will know more about a vaccine by then. Before she announced “at least March 31st,” they were punting on a month-to-month basis.

    16. Liz*

      I’m in the Northeast, for a much smaller company, and no clue, alhtough in the regular HR updates, they have said as our state is still under stay at home orders, we will continue to work from home. We can go in, if necesary, to retrieve files or whatnot, but there are strict guidelines, i.e. temps taken and reported to HR, as well as letting your supervisor know IF you’ve gone in.

      personally, I don’t trust that the ventilation etc. in our building will be sufficient, nor do I trust some of my co-workers that they are doing what they should be, so I’m perfectly happy continuing to work from home.

    17. Public Sector Manager*

      We’ve been hearing zero, other than once a month we get “we hope to have everyone back soon.”

      If “ifs” and “buts” were candy and nuts …

    18. often trapped under a cat*

      My place has about 2,000 employees. We’ve been told that we will have “at least” 60 days’ notice of reopening, but when reopening will be is unsure.

      Originally we were told September, then that was moved to January. It’s pretty clear to everyone that it’s not going to be January, and management has even acknowledged this, but they are reluctant, right now, to give another target date, feeling (rightly, imo) that continually moving the goalposts is emotionally unsettling for a lot of people. I also suspect that management has no way, right now, of picking a target date; things are just too unsettled.

      There are two dates being widely circulated in the office rumor mill: April and June. Neither has any real foundation; I think of April as the optimists’ choice and June as the pessimists’.

    19. NW Mossy*

      We bumped our return-to-office date out to July 1, 2021 once the school districts in the metro area announced that they’d be starting this academic year virtually for all students. In our state, schools can’t reopen unless infection metrics fall below a set threshold and stay there for a few weeks, so it’s quite likely that they’ll remain closed all year.

      We get periodic video updates from our CEO on return-to-office plans, and we’ve got a committee that meets regularly about it. The latest was a survey asking employees about how many days per week they’d like to be in-office once it’s safe to reopen. The assumption is that most employees will want to continue at least a partial WFH arrangement, but they likely need to know how many to make budget decisions for how much to spend on physical space in the future.

    20. Anonosaurus*

      I work for a medium-sized company in the UK and we currently have no timeline for returning to the office, although management is making a plan for it which is clearly based on a significant proportion of staff working from home most of the time, as that’s the only way that we could achieve physical social distancing. We did an employee survey and quite a number of people now want to work from home permanently (which is is feasible for 99% of the job roles and has been going ok so far). I personally would prefer to work primarily from the office, even though I can do the job ok from home, but I can’t say I disagree with the way management are handling this given that the second wave is in the process of hitting us and it looks harder than the first, unfortunately.

    21. Malarkey01*

      I’m part of the decision team on reopening (a very large team and I have a small role), but our official is WFH until Jan 2nd and 30 day notice before a return. We’re watching our local case numbers climb (higher than ever now) and clearly won’t be back Jan 2nd. The feeling is at least June 2021 for optional telework but we’re trying to accommodate a small group that wants to come back sooner -mainly people that don’t like WFH for one reason or other. It’s such a wait and see process since the local cases drive all of our decisions. We’re also looking at maximum flexibility for all of 2021 if we do reopen at some point and anyone is not comfortable coming in.

      Only applies to our local area, but officials are telling us in these meetings to get ready for a rough Nov-Feb here.

    22. ...*

      Not really, were at WFH until “TBD, maybe a vaccine, we don’t know, at least until social distancing is over but maybe not depending on restrictions in local areas”

    23. Epiphyta*

      Medium-sized technology company based in the Intermountain West; end of July 2021 is being floated.

    24. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, they opened the offices this week for volunteers. With various restrictions and rules. At least some of the c-suite really doesn’t like remote work, but at the same time the Board/Legal/HR/someone has pretty much vetoed any attempts on their part to pull people back in the office.

      Also this week, the state my office is in put travel restrictions in place for the state I live in. So…. not going into the office anytime soon. In fact, I’m basically in full shutdown mode given what’s happening in my town.

    25. Cedrus Libani*

      I’m in biotech, West Coast US. The people who need lab access have been on-site all along (under strict COVID protocols), but the rest of us were unofficially told back in April that we would be WFH until vaccinated. They’ve been having all-hands meetings a couple times per quarter, but that part hasn’t changed and I don’t expect it to.

  8. Pain au chocolat*

    I went to ask my manager “John” something about a report that we were working on, and every time he saw me, he would get busy or turn to talk to someone. I approached him when he was sitting in a group and he just ignored me and left his chair.

    I confronted him about it and asked when is a good time to speak with him. He became defensive and was all, “You never said anything”. Well, I tried to, but he kept avoiding me. He then said that he was busy and that *I* was the one with the problem. “Well, if you want to think that then that’s your problem.”

    Now after he said that to me, I overheard him telling the boss’s secretary that *I* was the “crazy one” and “had a problem”. Now he’s giving me the cold shoulder.

    We have the same boss and I think John told him because my boss told me that John was very busy. I feel so frustrated and ticked off. John is like working with a 5-year-old and only responds to the boss.

    How do you deal with this? Is there a different approach to use?

    1. Sunflower*

      Do you have 2 bosses? You say John is your manager but also that you have the same boss.

      In the future, I would ignore John’s social cues. If he turns his back, just say ‘Hi John, are you free to talk about X’ or just stick to email/schedule meetings to check in if you must talk in person.

      1. Pain au chocolat*

        We have the same boss. (John is senior to me and was recently promoted to manager, but we report to the same boss.)

    2. B Jolie*

      Schedule a meeting every time you need to speak to him. That way he might feel more obliged to speak with you.

      And you’ll have a paper trail if he declines meeting invites that will support your frustrations next time you speak to your manager.

    3. learnedthehardway*

      I would talk to your manager about the situation and explain that you have been trying to get John to speak with you about the report for x weeks now, and he has shut you down every time, and then got angry when you confronted him about the issue.

      Tell your manager that you are unable to move forward on the project until John has responded to your request for information, and that this is stalling the report.

      Then suggest that you copy your manager on your emails to John about the report, so that the manager can see that a) you are following up, and b) that perhaps this will cause John to be more responsive.

      Then ask if the manager has any other suggestions for how to handle the situation.

      1. Pain au chocolat*

        It’s not just for things like that, though. We had a meeting and he said that he was going, but then didn’t show up for it. I went back because I forgot my laptop and John was goofing around talking with someone. The look on his face was priceless, but I was angry. He had to be at the meeting to answer questions.

        I asked to meet with our boss in private. The day of the meeting, my boss stalled and had her assistant running interference for her. They must have told John because he called me and made some excuse that he was busy and joked about not liking the people that we were meeting with.

        He just dumps stuff on me and likes to slack off. The sad part is that he gets away with it!

    4. Nacho*

      Be more assertive. Don’t be afraid to walk up to him while he’s talking to somebody and go “Hey, I’m really sorry to interrupt, but I need to talk to you about {report}. ” If he tries to tell you he’s busy, tell him it won’t take long, and don’t take no for an answer.

      1. Pain au chocolat*

        I will try- It just feels like I would have to do this ALL of the time and it’s tiring. One time he ran away, but I just let him.

    5. Ferrina*

      It sounds like it’s starting to impact your work. Make a concerted effort to be PERFECT in getting his time and using it very efficiently (so he can’t complain that you were wasting his time), and generally being friendly and professional. You can even ask what the best way to get ahold of him is- if he prefers you email him questions, schedule a meeting, or just ask.
      Sometimes that actually fixes the issue. (for some people, once they understand that you respect his time and are professional, they chill out). If it doesn’t, ask your boss for advice. Make it about the work output, not about John being rude (even though he is being extremely rude). “I need John to do X on this project, but he hasn’t been at meetings. How should I be approaching this? Is there a different SME that I should consult if John isn’t available?”
      Try not to take John’s behavior personally. It sounds like he is doing it at you personally, but try to not let it effect your own professionalism and cool. This is a genuinely absurd situation- a grown man is actively running from you to avoid answering a simple work question! Cue the sitcom!

  9. TypeFun*

    This is very specific, but anyone have advice for PhD students in the biomedical sciences who Are looking to graduate and enter industry? I have no direct industry experience and I’m not sure how to apply for jobs where I have no company connections. I’m not even sure how to find a reasonable salary guideline since Glassdoor is all over the place.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      Its a weird one, because your interests are likely pretty specific but unknown right now (or, if you do know, it can be hard to tell what exact job will fulfill them). I think the best thing you can do is apply to a large range of jobs and go on a lot of interviews. Really ask questions about what your day-to-day life will be like. Ideally that will also help you narrow down salary ranges (just note they can vary wildly between the large corporations and the niche startups). You could also apply to a contract services firm like Deka, or as a contractor for a large company, where you’d have the opportunity to work on a big variety of product types and narrow down your interest area that way.

      As far as not having company connections, that’s not as huge a deal as I think you think it is. Most companies really work hard to give every qualified applicant an initially interview – and only turn to industry recommendations when candidates are somewhat tied. But I am a little surprised to hear you have no industry connections or experience – did you do any research or design projects as part of your education? Its ok to lean on those and highlight accomplishments with them for now.

      1. TypeFun*

        Thanks for the reply! I’m glad to hear connections aren’t 100% necessary to land a job. I’ve definitely heard otherwise at times. As far as R&D, I’m thinking this is a specific field difference. I’m in neuroscience and we aren’t allowed to do industry internships in my program. We also don’t interface directly with industry, at least not in 90% of labs that I know of. I do have some light connections (socially got to know a person in industry at a conference here, informational interview there), but none of these people really know my work or could recommend me. They’re shallower connections than that unfortunately.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          Ah, ok, I am in med device engineering, so it is very common to work projects or support research prior to graduation. Good luck!

    2. Not A Girl Boss*

      Its a weird one, because your interests are likely pretty specific but unknown right now (or, if you do know, it can be hard to tell what exact job will fulfill them). I think the best thing you can do is apply to a large range of jobs and go on a lot of interviews. Really ask questions about what your day-to-day life will be like. Ideally that will also help you narrow down salary ranges (just note they can vary wildly between the large corporations and the niche startups). You could also apply to a contract services firm like Deka, or as a contractor for a large company, where you’d have the opportunity to work on a big variety of product types and narrow down your interest area that way.

      As far as not having company connections, that’s not as huge a deal as I think you think it is. Most companies really work hard to give every qualified applicant an initially interview – and only turn to industry recommendations when candidates are somewhat tied. But I am a little surprised to hear you have no industry connections or experience – did you do any research or design projects as part of your education? Its ok to lean on those and highlight accomplishments with them for now.

    3. SnowWhiteClaw*

      Do you have an academia-industry alliance organization in your area? I’m in Denver, they are having virtual events right now.

      It’s OK to apply if you have no connections! Highlight the experience you have in your resume, what techniques you know, what you have published, etc. Plenty of places hire new PhDs. Your salary is really going to depend on your role in the company.

      1. TypeFun*

        I’m not sure if we have that type of thing, but my area is pretty hot for biotech now so I will definitely search that out!

        And as far as salary, yes this is what I find to be so challenging. The range is massive depending on so many factors that can change between job postings that are nominally the same position (e.g. research scientist). I actually was told a ballpark (90-100k starting) from someone at a career panel, but I have no clue whether that’s in touch with the current market/my own abilities/skillset.

      1. TypeFun*

        I haven’t heard of it but it seems great! Tons of relevant jobs for me that I haven’t really seen advertised on other sites. Thanks!

    4. Lora*

      So, you will likely need to do an industrial postdoc. These are posted on company career websites like a regular job. They pay better than academic postdocs, but still not as good as full time employee and of course there’s no retirement contribution. They do cover healthcare type things. Interviews are all-day deals and you need to present your work to a conference room full of people just there for the free bagels. You will interview best if you go in with the mindset that these are people who literally cure cancer; I have had many interviewees who thought they were the smartest guy in the room and…well, we all had a good laugh about it afterwards.

      Best to get one in the biggest company possible, but I will tell you right now, the applications are as competitive as a Harvard postdoc. I know there is a lot of mythology in academia that any fool with a PhD can go work for Pfizer tomorrow – this is most emphatically NOT the case. R&D in large healthcare-adjacent type organizations is very, very competitive. We do normally get hundreds of applicants for any given position. These are much more structured postdocs than I have seen in academia: you have exactly 2 years or thereabouts to complete the thing and publish. And it is much more about doing research in the lab 8 hours / day, you wouldn’t be supervising a couple of undergrads and early-stage grad students on behalf of BigName Prof, you’d be in the lab doing experiments all day. Plus, your budget for reagents and glassware / animals / plastic crap is basically infinity – you’ll never have to wait for an order of only a few things to come in, we get them automatically re-stocked daily by support staff and it’s all you can eat. You’re not spending any of that 8 hours doing scutwork, which is another reason it’s pretty efficient. If the company likes you a lot they may or may not hire you in full time, I have a few colleagues who got in as full timers this way. What academics struggle with is mostly that time == money, don’t waste time on trying to make do with crappy equipment or try to re-use plasticware or something, just buy what you need and get the data out. If you spend 4 hours pouring your own sequencing gels in academia, they think it’s cute and economical. We think it’s a stupid waste of time.

      The only people I can think of who got hired without a postdoc were people whose PhD was paid for by the company. Some big companies offer tuition reimbursement and sponsor specific programs, and you actually apply for the program sponsorship from your employer who picks a handful of the best worker bees to sponsor for a PhD. You use one of your actual work projects as your PhD thesis. But the company pretty much already loves you at that point, you’ve done a lot of other projects for them already, they don’t feel the need to make you prove yourself again and they bump you up from like, Research Scientist I to Senior Research Scientist.

      1. TypeFun*

        Thanks for the detailed reply Lora! This has also been a major question for me: is a post-doc necessary? Because TBH I really don’t want to do one. I see industry post-docs as a way to cheat people out of money they deserve under the guise of a ‘training program.’ I absolutely understand the market is competitive though. I also have a chronic disease (Type 1 diabetes) and I am somewhat terrified of any job that might not have good health coverage/ a decent salary for my area.

        1. Experienced in School*

          I’m at an FFRDC, we hire a lot of PhDs with no postdoc, starting salary in the 100-120 range I think. TBH I don’t know exactly, and I don’t know how much variance between biotech vs other engineering types, we have a huge span of fields.
          I wouldn’t worry about the health coverage with a post-doc, they may be trying to underpay you but in general they don’t trim the benefits package (or if they do it’s trimming things like vacation and retirement, not healthcare – too much work to set up crappy healthcare options, everybody usually gets the same)

          1. Not A Girl Boss*

            Actually, I have some friends in post-doc programs with killer medical benefits compared to me.

        2. Lora*

          I mean, if you want to work for Big Pharma or somewhere similar, yeah, it is required, pretty much. It’s as tough to get a pharma R&D job as it is to get an academic job, we really do get hundreds of applicants for any given position. Salary range for an industrial postdoc in my area (East Coast Major City) is $70-80k with healthcare covered though, and I do mean COVERED. All drugs covered of course because, well…we make them, it would be a bit silly to make me pay for something I can grab out of my freezer in a pinch. In actual point of fact, if they couldn’t get a postdoc to do the project, they’d get a MS level scientist to do the project and those are paid about $110k, so they aren’t saving that much money on a postdoc. If you don’t want to do the postdoc, that is fine…they have literally hundreds of other people lined up who do want to. That’s just the market for the job, and what sets the salary. The projects are VERY well defined as a rule. We go out of our way to assign things that are nice-to-haves which could be made into a cute publication, not something mission critical.

          In terms of quality of life, if you live about 30 minutes outside of East Coast Major City you can afford a 1 bedroom apartment on that money, and we have a lot of nicey-nice programs like on site gym, subsidized transit passes, etc that make this not a terrible salary you’ll starve to death on. I think you don’t get to do the 401k or stock options or long term types of insurance, but short term disability and such is covered. Unless you’re having Wagyu steak for dinner every night, you’ll be OK. Trying to think all the other benefits I’ve had lo these many years…they discontinued the company store, but there’s often a farm CSA share thing with pickup location in the cafeteria, on site massage therapy (you have to pay $15 or something), conferences are all paid for, some companies offer free catered lunch. One place I worked gave you a personal trainer and nutritionist person on your birthday to design a workout for you and go over your eating habits, type of thing; they also offered exercise classes during the day if you could arrange your schedule for it. Flu shot clinics, bunch of stuff.

          I’m sort of wondering though, if you don’t want to do a postdoc, why are you doing a PhD? We pay MS level scientists about $80-85k out of school with no experience, and they get to about $110k over, hmm, about 10 years. They just don’t get promoted nearly as far, but they make okay money and have an easier time finding work. PhD level PI and up jobs come up very rarely, are much harder to find – but there is no real ceiling to how far you can get promoted. If you get laid off though, you can be unemployed for a long while for that reason.

          1. TypeFun*

            That’s good to hear that insurance and benefits for post-docs in pharma tends to be very good; I’d hope so, but you never know! And to your question for why I’m doing a PhD if I don’t want to do a post-doc…I’m thinking this may be somewhat field specific. When I started my PhD, I wasn’t sure about whether to pursue being a PI in an academic lab, but I’m confident now that I do not want that. There are still plenty of jobs (e.g. research scientist, institute scientist, a bunch of non-bench non-academic positions) that don’t necessarily require a post-doc. Also, in my field post-docs tend to be loooong (6 years) and people often do multiple of them. The idea of being in ‘training’ and receiving commensurate pay for 12 more years is… undesirable to say the least, though the salary you’re saying for industry post-docs is definitely better than what I know from academia.

            I definitely don’t expect to get a group leader/PI type job without much more experience. I’m looking toward something like a research scientist and perhaps eventually going into more managerial roles. I’ve heard conflicting advice about whether a post-doc is necessary for a research scientist type job (some say a post-doc helped them land a position, others on panels I’ve gone to have said it’s about 50/50 for their hired candidates having a PhD). This sounds most similar to the MS-type work you’re describing, though probably a little more independence and a slightly longer ladder available to climb

    5. darlingpants*

      I got a job in industry after a 5 month post-doc in my same lab, and 5 months of unemployment. I cold applied through an Indeed post and had no connections to the company ahead of time. I want to be able to tell you that Alison’s advice on cover letters helped, but honestly if I got an interview seemed to have no relationship to how much effort I put into tailoring my documents.

      If you’re still in school for a semester or two I’d look at the job descriptions for where you want to move and see if you can learn how to do them while you still have the freedom to direct your own project. In my case, all the jobs asked for HPLC or gene editing experience, and I could have easily done just enough transfection to put gene editing on my resume. Also your school career center should have surveys of other new PhD’s salaries, so you can get a range from that.

      The other thing I’ve noticed is that industry is really set on the candidates having the specific experience the want (in my case bioreactor experience with CHO cells) even though I’ve done much more novel and complicated things and cultured much more difficult cells. I haven’t figured out a way around this yet, if anyone has advice for me and TypeFun please advise!

      1. TypeFun*

        Thanks for the reply darlingpants. It’s so interesting to hear about how recent PhDs ended up with their jobs. I’ve also been trying to search for applicable jobs and see what skills I lack that I could make up for in the next semester/so (for me, it’s mostly programming… I’d love to learn HPLC, more cell culture, flow cytometry, other ‘hot’ skills, but there isn’t really an easy way for me to work that into my current dissertation work). If you read this, did you actually have 100% of the qualifications of the job posting you were given an offer for, or more like 80% like I’ve seen is common in other fields on this site?

    6. Snausage Federale*

      ORISE research fellowships. They supply lots of US government agencies/ National Labs with STEM candidates. FDA in particular has a robust ORISE fellowship program and the research labs here are still operating- I believe CDER, CBER, CDRH (Maryland) and NCTR (Arkansas) are the only Centers with research labs- some PIs have had their groups working remotely instead on more operations/data analysis projects due to Covid. ORISE fellows typically won’t have access to regulatory submissions so while you wouldnt be doing that kind of work, the research projects are informed by regulatory challenges so you will get familiar with the kind of data regulators expect from pharma/biopharma. Also check out IOTF (Interagency Oncology Task Force) fellowships, these fellows are able to work on regulatory documents and do lab based work if that’s the mentor they are working with, but its a smaller program. Depending on supervisor/mentor you’ll also get working familiarity with government operations, acquisitions, administrative, policy communication and planning- all valuable things if you are looking to go permanent on the regulatory side or move to industry, and it’s much easier to convert to federal employee with the experience and contacts you’ll make versus straight usa jobs blind application if that’s a thing on your radar. I’ve had colleagues in my lab move on to industry after their fellowships (2 being aggressively courted by big players in our field immediately after completing their theses while doing fellowships), convert internally to full time reviewers, and I just converted to research/review in the same group I trained with. Stipends are competitive for degree level in public sector but no benefits as ORISE-most folks with PhDs typically are able to convert to internal Staff Fellows (not quite federal employee but functionally same with benefits, its a different hiring process than the usa jobs gauntlet) within a year.
      orise dot orau dot gov for general program information.
      zintellect dot com is where postings are listed, you can filter by agency, location, degree level, etc- warning the posting language is intentionally vague unfortunately, the project descriptions arent the end all be all of what the training will involve bc pivoting happens a lot, the best thing is land as many phone interviews you can and talk more details with the PI.

      1. TypeFun*

        Interesting. I took a look at their website. It looks like they don’t offer any benefits though (seriously, no health insurance??). I saw a position that offered a insurance stipend but I actually need good coverage to not pay a ridiculous amount for insulin so I think ORISE is likely a no go. That’s crazy to me that there are no benefits.

      2. TypeFun*

        Looking again specifically at ORISE fellows it seems you can get their insurance I think. It’s just the post doc positions I was looking through that said no benefits.

        1. Snausage Federale*

          Correct, you can buy from marketplace or go thru them, there is an extra flat stipend amount that covers a good chunk of it if you aren’t already covered elsewhere but its possible to buy marketplace coverage that is a bit less. I get the outrage that there’s no benefits but its not “a job”, they are very clear that ORISE fellows are categorized as students participating in a training program- not employees, not contractors. Weird gov stuff because weird gov stuff.

          Even if you don’t think it’s a good fit for you, tell your friends! tell your cohort! tell your undergrads! FDA in particular does a crap job of promoting the fact that we have research labs here, and unlike traditional academic labs there’s a lot more budget with a lot less funding uncertainty!

  10. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Someone asked for an update on this situation I posted about my friends’ offices: https://www.askamanager.org/2020/10/my-company-is-issuing-new-work-from-home-standards-because-we-should-have-the-hang-of-it-by-now.html#comment-3153752

    1. The pants and shoes check: Still happening. Still stupid. Friend pushed back on the ridiculousness and was told that the company still has a dress code that must be followed even though they are WFH for the foreseeable future. Friend told her reports that she isn’t going to do wardrobe check and that she trusts them to be WFH appropriate. Friend is looking for a new job and has an interview next week.

    2. The find a new place to live order: Friend asked about housing stipends and relocation assistance. Has been crickets. She is planning to continue asking since OBVIOUSLY this is the company’s plan as home type is now a work requirement. She has told her staff not to act on the orders until she gets an answer. I’ll update if she ever gets one or if this idea is going to slink into a corner and die as it should

    1. Elenia*

      So I am reading through that thread. Obviously ridiculous. I am Asian and definitely never wear shoes in the house, that’s disgusting. I mean the whole thing is outrageous but that in particular is annoying.

      1. Elenna*

        I mean, I guess they can set aside a pair of shoes to be only worn in the house? That’s what I did at the office – came in and immediately changed from outdoor shoes to a pair of flats that was only worn in the office. (Asian-Canadian here.) But why should they bother? Who cares what people wear on their feet in the comfort of their own house???

      2. kt*

        Yeah, I’m Finnish-American and also was raised that wearing shoes in the house is disgusting. House slippers, yes, but mine are either felted or sheepskin, neither of which are appropriate for work. Also, I have a very hard time finding comfortable shoes for my feet and feel that wearing shoes all day is actually bad for you. (I did have ‘work shoes’ at work that were minimalist flats that I slipped into.) And the whole thing is outrageous. I’d be looking for another job too because this is a sign of deeper dysfunction.

        1. allathian*

          Same here (I’m in Finland). My feet rarely smell because I don’t wear shoes at home, ever. The only time they do smell is sometimes during a conference when I have to wear shoes all day. At the office, I wear a pair of Birkenstock open-toed sandals with stockings, because I have fallen arches and that means that I can’t wear just any pair of shoes. It’s not an accommodation either, people wear anything from sneakers to stilettos at my office.

          But yeah, with that dress-code compliance check I’d be looking for a new job, fast…

    2. Ali G*

      I absolutely love that your friend is all: OH Heeellllll NO! and taking this on for her team. I hope she gets out soon.

    3. Choggy*

      I’m laughing about the pants and shoes check while I’m sitting here working in my pajamas, and slippers. My work and professionalism have not been affected it the least.

      1. WellRed*

        I just went back and reread this because I didn’t remember anything about being ordered to move. I still don’t see that, just the part about it should look better (which is ridiculous, but is a separate thing). If that’s the case, I think friend should drop her requests for relocation assistance. There’s enough egregiousness here to work on.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I probably wasn’t as clear as I should have been. They are required to have separate, dedicated rooms to WFH in and, if they do not have one, the company said to find a new place to live.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Who knows? What blows me away is that 2 different friends’ had their employers go ridiculous/tone deaf/WTF in the same week. Hopefully it isn’t an area trend!

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            I’m still laughing about that. What a ridiculous thing to say. I’m glad your friend keeps hitting them with the relocation assistance request, though – maybe these repeated inquiries will show them how absolutely ridiculous they’re being.

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              That friend is kind of enjoying it. Her company has a very bi-modal pay structure where management and technical staff are paid above market average while admin and support staff are paid below market average. She has been advocating to raise the admin/support wages to at least market (which still isn’t much) for years, so she has been having some fun pulling together “solutions” (e.g. “We could raise wages for $roles by $20,000, which should cover a 2 bedroom rental”, “We could just give $roles X per year for housing”) to the moving dilemma most of the admin/support staff would face that the big bosses just don’t get.

          2. ...*

            Separate from what? Like your bed or couch cant be in the same room? Or it cant be the living room? Or like no other people can be in there? Thats wack and I’m glad shes looking for a new job.

    4. bunniferous*

      As someone who works from home, often in pajamas and barefoot, your original post made me shake my head. But in thinking about it, I wonder if the company borrowed a page from, of all people, Flylady. She insists that part of home organization is having lace up shoes on before you start cleaning-she sees it as a psychological thing that communicates to the brain it’s time to work. (I personally think that it is none of Flylady’s business what I or anyone else wears on their feet to clean, but apparently she doubles down on it when pressed on it. ) In any case may your friend find a new job soon and/or her bosses come to their senses.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        So, yes there IS this idea that even if WFH you should still get showed, dressed, and be “ready” to work at the appointed time. It triggers your brain to get into work mode.
        And I do think that IS important, as far as setting boundaries and sticking to a schedule.
        But a shoe and clothing check? To make sure you’re wearing proper office attire in your bedroom office? Ridiculous! Utter drivel! Wear what you want and stew ‘em.

    5. Rebecca*

      I’m going to admit that I get up at the same time each day, dress like I would if I drove to the office (minus shoes, sometimes minus socks). Our office is totally non customer facing, no video with customers, so we have a very loose dress code. Putting on jeans and a nice top like I’d wear to the office makes me feel more productive and like I’m “at work”. The situation here is ridiculous. I’ve talked to some of my coworkers who don’t even get out of their PJ’s all day, it doesn’t affect their work output at all. As long as you’re not on a video chat with a customer, what’s the difference?

    6. Academic Librarian Too*

      I was just thinking that I haven’t worn shoes since March. My work shoes are at work. My hiking boots are by the door.

      1. Academic Librarian Too*

        And yes. I do get up early. I look the same on zoom as I do at school. I do get ready as if I was going to be on campus. I do wear the same clothes I would if I were teaching or having meetings or doing anything in a professional capacity. I don’t wear shoes.

      2. Elenna*

        Oh, this too – my work shoes have been sitting by my desk at work since March*, and I literally don’t have any other work-appropriate shoes, so I guess I would have to… go shoe shopping? in a pandemic?? for shoes that, might I remind you, NOBODY WILL SEE except the people enforcing this ridiculous policy??? what.

        Yeah, I’m definitely not a shoe person. Shoes I own currently are: a pair of flats (the ones by my desk at work), a pair of running shoes, a pair of sneakers that I was using before I got the running shoes, a pair of crocs, a pair of waterproof shoes for the beach, and a pair of winter boots. Let me know which of those are appropriate to wear for WFH!

        *Long story short, I was working from home for unrelated reasons March 5-6, then I realized I might have been exposed on March 3 or 4, so I decided to work from home for another ~1.5 weeks and right near the end of that is where my company decided nobody should be going in. So I left on March 4 thinking I’d be back a few days later, so I didn’t particularly make sure to take anything home…

        1. allathian*

          You sound almost like me. I’m also not a shoe person. A part of the reason for that is that I have very sensitive feet (I’m sure my current overweight doesn’t help) and fallen arches, and they’re a weird shape, so it’s really hard to find shoes that fit me.

          My shoe collection, in total:
          Birkenstocks (at the office).
          A pair of sneakers I mostly use when there’s no snow on the ground (even for going to work).
          A pair of flat walking shoes for when I know I’ll need to walk or stand a bit more but where I sneakers are too informal looking. I used to wear these to conferences, a bit on the informal side but I can’t wear nice shoes all day.
          A pair of winter boots for when there’s snow on the ground.
          A pair of nice, clean, black flats that I can use indoors for formal events like graduation parties or weddings.
          A pair of studded icebugs for when there’s ice on the ground. We live on the top of a hill and these are essential for much of the late fall, winter and early spring.
          A pair of crocs for working in the garden, taking out the trash and picking up mail.
          A pair of support shoes I wear if I have to stand for more than 15 minutes at a time (chores).

          I’m glad there’s no risk that my employer would care what I wear WFH. We don’t even have a dress code, apart from the fact clothes are mandatory and they shouldn’t be visibly dirty or have holes in them (to be fair, I’m not sure how my employer would react if an intern showed up in ripped jeans, I get a laugh out of teens thinking it’s so cool to wear ripped jeans. I thought the same thing 30+ years ago, at their age…).

          We’re not even required to use video most of the time, for which I’m grateful. People sometimes try, but the VPN just can’t handle the load (and I’m secretly relieved).

  11. Miss Bookworm*

    Warning: This is really long!

    I’m struggling with how to deliver expectations to one of my direct reports (Joe) and how I can help him stay on track/get work done. He’s been working from home full time since COVID lockdowns started in March through to the beginning of August, when it changed to three days WFH, two days in the office.

    We haven’t wanted to be too strict on making the WFH employees adhere to their in-office hours. As long as they’re working 40hrs a week we don’t care what time they signed on/off. For the first three months Joe did really well, then his wife gave birth to their second kid. We gave him a lot of leeway because a newborn in the house (along with their toddler) is definitely going to make things more difficult. If I occassionally had to work overtime to help him get caught up then that was just what I had to do.

    Near the end of July that “occassional overtime” become an almost every day thing, so I had a conversation with him to determine exactly what he was struggling with and what I could do to help him get back on track. We figured things out, instituted twice weekly calls to determine first the work for that week and second a status on that weeks work, and he started coming into the office twice a week. August went much more smoothly; he met all his deadlines and I only needed to help him on a few tasks.

    Then in September his work went downhill again. When I looked into it, I found out that he was coming into work late (his WFH hours were all over the place and he hasn’t been hitting the 40hrs a week), daily tasks are being done weekly instead of daily, and those weekly tasks are being done maybe twice in the entire month; it also looks like he has been rushing through those tasks so he’s missing things and making mistakes.

    I talked with him two weeks ago to lay out expectations, revisit daily/weekly/monthly tasks, and to help him determine priorities. In these two weeks since, nothing has changed. I just looked through his network files and it looks like he’s actually done maybe 20% of what he should have completed based on our twice weekly status calls.

    I can’t put him on an official PIP or reassign duties without approval from upper management which they won’t give me. I had a meeting yesterday with our department head to figure out a plan, but it just turned into criticism of my supervising, which I’m sure I deserve, but it doesn’t help me figure out what to do to with Joe!

    I just spent two hours working on a list of expectations and what I want him to improve on, but I don’t know what I can do here beyond what I’ve already been doing.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh man, that sounds really frustrating. What has Joe’s response been when you’ve talked to him? Has he given an explanation of his inability to meet expectations? Has he indicated that he doesn’t really understand the expectations? Also, you say that he has done 20% of what he should have completed based on your status calls: does that mean he’s told you his status is “I’ve completed X,” but he’s only actually completed 20% of X? That he’s lying about his progress? Or do you mean that during the status calls, he’s acknowledged that he needs to do X, but hasn’t yet done it? (Trying to figure out if the status calls are just updates on what work has been assigned, or if he’s actually telling you what he has completed.)

      Also, not to be nosy, but I’m curious about what was criticized by your department head in your meeting. Did they give you critical feedback about how you’ve approached things with Joe? What were their recommendations?

      1. MissBookworm*

        Joe’s been very agreeable and hasn’t pushed back on anything I’ve asked him to do, but he’s also not really giving me straight answers when I ask why he’s having trouble getting his work done. Some weeks it’s because there’s just too much work and he keeps getting interrupted with emails and others he blames on outside factors (computer issues—which he hasn’t ever brought to IT’s attention—and his kids). These are tasks that he knows how to do and was able to handle no problem before COVID, so it’s not that he doesn’t know how to do them. We have two calls each week, the first one which happens Monday is a directed by me “here’s what I need you to get done this week + how do you think things went last week” and the second call which is on Thursday is directed by him as a “here’s what I have done and what I still need to do”. On Thursday he’ll tell me he did like 80% of the list from Monday, but really it’s only 20% and that’s when he starts making excuses.

        My department head (DH) basically told me that I was slacking and Joe’s failure to complete his work was because I wasn’t doing my job. That I need to make sure to check in with my direct reports multiple times a day to make sure they’re working and doing everything they should be. If I had been doing these things Joe wouldn’t be making these mistakes. On one hand DH isn’t wrong, but on the other I’m doing the work of 3 people on top of what I’m doing as a supervisor (which I have brought up to DH many times to no avail) so not quite sure what I can do to be better.

        1. tangerineRose*

          “That I need to make sure to check in with my direct reports multiple times a day to make sure they’re working and doing everything they should be. ” That will drive your good employees crazy if you actually do it.

    2. Jenny Says*

      Sounds like Joe is burning the candle at both ends and doesn’t know how to resolve the situation. (Though, I’m burned out right now, so I might be projecting). But, he just had a kid 3 months ago and is spending half of his work week at home with a nearly newborn, as well as another child. I wonder if maybe he needs some additional time off to realign himself? Is that a possibility? You don’t mention if he took leave after the birth of his child. But if he only took a week or two off, that might not have been enough time to get everything situated. It could be a kindness to offer him a bit more time. Plus, if he was a good worker before COVID and before the birth of his second child, it might be worthwhile to invest that time. (If he wasn’t that great an employee, it might not be worth it, but still would be kind)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I agree with this. My brother has a 6 year old and six month old at home while he’s trying to work – it’s hard. The baby’s always crying, the 6 year old doesn’t understand why daddy can’t just play with her all the time, etc. Joe may need some time off to regain his equilibrium.

      2. MissBookworm*

        Maybe. He did took two weeks off when the baby was born, then some random days here or there (in groups of two or three days), but it’s possible he does need more time off. I know his wife is still home and her mom is living with them, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing a lot during the day with the baby and toddler. I’ll try to work in to our next call, like “Do you plan on taking any time off soon? You still have x number of days available.” and see what he says.

        1. Jenny Says*

          Did he use his PTO for his time off or did the company offer him parental leave? If he had to use his own time off, that limits what he might be able to take now — particularly given the holidays are coming up. And if that’s the case, asking him if he’s planning to take additional time off may just increase the pressure he might be feeling. Also, taking a few days off here and there won’t improve the situation if he is, in fact, having difficulty establishing a routine. If the company can give him a week or two off (that’s not tied to his PTO), I would ask him if he feels he needs more time off to get a handle on things at home and offer it to him.

          I understand that you’re feeling strapped for time and his inability to perform is creating challenges for you. But, if a week or two (or more) can give him support that will improve his performance in the long run it would be worthwhile to you.

      1. MissBookworm*

        I can see reassigning a couple of his tasks, but we really need two more full time employees (we only have three and the workload we have is better suited to five) and that won’t be happening in our current economy, so I think as much as I want to help him get back on the right footing, I don’t think our department can handle taking on half of his work. Though it would be even worse were he to leave the company entirely. I’d have to bring this up with upper management and see what they say.

        1. Academic Librarian Too*

          This may be the real problem. Time to re-evaluate what really needs to get done. Everyone on the team. Stop doing the work of three people yourself.

    3. Sunflower*

      You’ve talked to Joe about what he’s struggling with but what about the reason that’s preventing him from hitting deadlines? I understand he has a newborn/kid at home but this sounds like more than just ‘I’ve got kids distracting me’. If you suspect he’s taking on actual child care duties (is his wife back at work?), I think you need to ask what you can do to help him get those taken off his shoulders.

      There is a slim chance of this but maybe he’s hoping to get let go. The state of the economy is causing some interesting behaviors. On one hand, you have people who feel lucky to have a job and are working their arses off to keep it even though they’ve been told no raises/promotions and potentially taken pay cuts. On the flip side, I have a friend who is managing some people who aren’t doing great and they don’t really care because the company is on a hiring freeze and they know she won’t let them go in fear of losing the position.

      1. MissBookworm*

        He keeps using the same reasons: computer issues (which our IT has no record of, which means he’s either waiting for the problem to resolve without going to them or he’s not having computer issues), too many emails/calls/coworker requests, etc. I’ve told him that he doesn’t need to respond to emails right away or to answer his phone every time it rings; that it’s okay to finish what you’re working on before you to respond to or to talk to someone. As for the requests, I told him to direct those to me so I can determine if it’s a request we actually need to handle (at which point I’d ask him to handle it, or I would do so) or if it should go to someone. He has forwarded some requests to me, but nothing that would take more than 5-10min to do.

        His wife and mother-in-law are at both at home, so I don’t think he’s taking on a lot of the childcare duties, but I also can’t be sure because you never know. I‘ll try to work it into our next call and figure out if that’s what is going on.

        We’re in the same shape as your friend. We need two more people in my department and they just aren’t open to hiring anyone right now. If Joe is hoping to be fired, he’s going to be waiting awhile.

        1. allathian*

          For whatever reason, Joe’s not able to perform while WFH with a toddler and a newborn. Even if he isn’t the primary carer for those kids, it’s entirely possible that he’s not getting enough sleep, either. Especially as they’ve had to accommodate his MIL in their house. It’s possible the toddler doesn’t yet sleep through the night, either.

          But for distractions during the day, it’s possible that he might do better if he was allowed to return to the office. At least the kids wouldn’t distract him while he was trying to work. Although that may not be a workable solution, because it’s entirely possible that his wife has returned to work, and even his MIL may be working. It’s not fair to assume that the women of the house should bear the brunt of childcare while WFH and expect the father to just continue working as usual.

          This is really tough and something’s gotta give. He’s clearly not able to perform as usual. It’s not fair to expect his coworkers to absorb the load. You as their manager shouldn’t start doing their work (my former manager, who was a substance specialist before she got promoted, almost burned herself out when one of my coworkers got diagnosed with cancer and was out on sick leave for six months and my ex-boss did her work instead of hiring someone on a temporary basis, even though there was room in her budget to hire another person), except in the direst of emergencies.

          If managing him out and hiring someone more productive is not an option, and he’s not able to perform as usual for whatever reason, some of the jobs your team has been doing in the past will simply not get done. I hope you’ll be able to talk to your management and discuss your options and get their help in reprioritizing your team’s work.

          You shouldn’t start micromanaging the rest of the team who are doing their jobs, but Joe seems to need closer supervision at the moment. It’s possible he’s burned out on this job to the point that he no longer cares what impression he’s making. He probably knows that you can’t hire anyone else and that you won’t fire him. Sounds like he’s just coasting along and doing the bare minimum he can get away with.

    4. D3*

      Sounds like you need to be looking at the actual work files more often, and reinstitute the weekly calls.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      IDK. Your upper management is refusing to allow you the tools you need.

      Micro-management? Have him check in every morning when he arrives at work (if he’s not in when his office hours start, note that. don’t give this guy lee-way any longer) and give a daily update with the daily, weekly, monthly tasks he accomplished that day. Unfortunately you’ll have to check up to see if he’s honest about what he’s done, but that should allow you to catch if he’s falling behind quickly. The close oversight might provide the motivation he needs to perform all his duties.

      The new baby is not an excuse. If he needs paternity leave to care for or bond with his newborn, he needs to take it to allow the business to work out a solution for his absence.

      Can you stop working overtime to cover his work? That is allowing management to not reassign the work or do anything except berate you about your management. Frankly it sounds like you’re doing the right thing and your employee is not and your upper management is not.

    6. WellRed*

      I don’t understand why it matters what time he arrives at the office, if it doesn’t matter what time people log on from home.
      That said, this sounds very frustrating, but I think you need to have a come to Jesus talk with him at this point.

    7. NaoNao*

      I might try asking him if there’s anything work can do to support him (since you’re not able to go the discipline route right now).

      —Reassigning tasks or reassessing their importance

      —Creating shared trackers, project plans, documents, etc that can be used anytime

      —Having daily or weekly meetings about priorities and bottlenecks

      —Looking into reimbursements for higher speed internet or whatever tools might help

      –Asking him what is going on and what might help just be really direct here and tell him “I’m pretty much open to anything because honestly—this isn’t working.”

    8. PX*

      Enforced PTO sounds crazy but if he’s got a lot going on, can you encourage him to take some time off if work allows?

      Or go the “talk to an EAP” route, see if there are options for him to temporarily reduce his workload?

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Eh, your management really sucks.

      I think what I would do is tell him that you have tried everything you can think of, but it is very difficult to support someone when you cannot find where the problems actually are. This means that he either must have tech help him with his tech problems OR tech problems will no longer be a viable excuse.

      Tell him that if things do not change or if he is not more specific about how he is going to fix his ongoing problems then you will have to implement the plan your boss told you to do and you will be checking in with him every few hours to see what is going on. Tell him you do not want to do this. But you have no “out”. If he does not start meeting deadlines, etc you will be forced to do these frequent check-ins as the boss ordered.

      I do have to say. I wonder if they are all sharing one computer. This is what it sounds like to me. I am assuming his work was fine before WFH Pandemic. If his work was not fine while he was in the office, think about what you saw then that could be an ongoing factor now.

      In the past when people have given me vague answers when vague answers were not acceptable, I planned out my responses to those vague answers BEFORE reopening the conversation. I’d take his tech excuse and work through that with him. It could be that I’d have to contact tech myself and ask them to reach out to him. Push the envelope on stuff like this.

      You can definitely be empathetic to his concerns. He has two more people in his house now. That is not always fun. Ask him if he would like to take some time to rearrange things so it is easier to work.

    10. Malarkey01*

      I’ll start with I lean towards incredible flexibility right now, allowing people to WFH, and understanding that optimal performance might not be possible for the majority of my team right now. We have people logging on at 10 pm and people working weekends to offset normal work hours being used for childcare right now; my family is juggling a preschooler and preteen. So I get it.
      That said, the balance for that flexibility needs to be personal accountability and transparency. Early on with one person I said I will work with you if you can’t get 100% done, but you HAVE to tell me what’s not getting done so we can prioritize and cover things and work together.
      You have extended that grace and understanding and it’s just not working. So I’d go to the next step. I’d tell Joe you need him to keep to a set WFH and office schedule (normally I wouldn’t care but if I have to micromanage work I need them there when I’m working too). I’d tell him if he can’t keep to a WFH schedule he’s going to have to come in full time. Give a set time like 3 weeks to see that he’s doing it. Anytime he’s late, document it’s so that you can show yourself, him, and your boss the extent of the problem. Then start daily check ins that are very specific like I’m working on tasks A and B today, IM me or shoot me a quick email when you’re done with each. Hopefully this is very very short term but again will give you, him, and your boss real time info on the problem and may help him get back into a rhythm if he’s overwhelmed. I’d also insist that every IT problem must be documented with a ticket and he needs to call/email you when it happens.

      Normally I would not micromanage to this extent, but if you’re boss has told you to and you have a good employee who is struggling (and who isn’t) you can try this to save the job. I did this once with a great person during a mental health crisis and am so glad I did, but it’s a lot.

  12. Book Pony*

    At the end of my third week at my new job and loving it! Not sure if I clarified, but I don’t work in a library, although I help them. Government for life :3

    Two questions:

    My boss keeps asking what I need from her, how I see this relationship going, and I told her idk because I truly don’t.

    She’s my fourth boss ever, so I have no idea. She said to keep it in the back of my mind, but I still dunno. Ideas? (I doubt I can say “don’t be racist like my last boss” lol.)

    Question the second: I have to be part of an interview panel and I’ve never done that before. Tips?

    Thank you everyone!

    1. Lady Heather*

      What I need from my bosses is clear expectations and honest feedback, in pretty much all positions

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      It’s hard to tell what you need from a boss after just three weeks! But maybe you could say something like “I’m still learning the ropes, and I’m sure there’s more I’ll need to learn in time, and new skills I can acquire. If I need training or professional development, can I come to you for help with that? And can you maybe keep an eye out for learning opportunities you think would be helpful for me as I get to know this role?” And if you’re concerned about the racism thing, you could always ask her about what your employer is doing about diversity, equity, and inclusion–that might be a good way to gauge her approach on the subject.

      Interviewing! I actually love interviewing people. I would ask the hiring manager what qualities they’re looking for in the role. Then work with them to develop questions that get at those qualities, preferably leaning on their past experience. For example, if they need someone who is really good at communicating in difficult situations, “tell me about a time when you had to have a difficult professional discussion with someone. How did you approach it, and what was the result?” Make sure you keep a record of the questions you want to ask, and ask each applicant the same questions in order to ensure that you’re being equitable in your treatment of the applicants. Also, familiarize yourself with what kinds of questions are NOT allowed in your state (in order to prevent bias in hiring).

      1. Book Pony*

        Thankfully since it’s government, the questions are set in stone. But asking my boss (she’s on the panel too) what qualities to look for is good advice, thanks!

        We’re gonna have a pre-interview meeting, but I wanna be as prepared as possible lol

        1. Book Pony*

          Whoops, forgot to reply to the first part as well.

          My boss is good about sending training my way since it’s part of my performance expectations. They’re also the clearest ones I’ve had since being employed in government lol.

          Positively, since it was Indigenous Peoples Day this week, I got clear signs from my boss and a coworker that they’re not terrible when it comes to race. Much better environment than my last job, for sure.

    3. Just a PM*

      For your first question, could you ask your boss about how she could help you move up your career plan? Maybe you could go to your boss and frame it as “in 15 years, I see myself doing X” and how can she help you get to the next level on the path to X. That’s the conversation I had with my boss when I joined her staff and we were able to transform my position to be more tailored and customized.

    4. AnotherLibrarian*

      Your boss is trying to gauge how best to engage with you, so I’d focus on that. “I like clear feedback” or “I like to meet with my boss once a month as a one on one” or even “I prefer email to phone calls.” Just be honest with her.

      As for interviewing, I love interviewing! So, I would ask the hiring manager what they are looking for. The questions are standard, but there’s usually a question being asked and then an answer and in that answer what are you listening for? So, when someone is asked, “What are your favorite parts of your current job?” And you are hiring for a customer service roll, the thing you are listening for are “I like helping people.” So, that’s part of it. Also , as you are new to the job, I would keep your head down a little. Hiring committees can be political messes, so just be a little careful.

    5. Emilitron*

      About what you need from your boss, it’s totally ok to address it in parts, and to be kind of general about describing your ideal manger. “I don’t need anything right now, practically speaking what I needed to get off to a good start was just good clear information – definition of the role, expectations of my tasks and output, explanation of what/who I do/dont’ have authority over, level of detail in reporting/billing/etc – and you gave me all that. What I’m going to need to keep doing well is (ongoing flow of information, a sense that your manager takes your side vs customers, etc)”
      What they might be asking for is a sense of your work style – do you want daily checkins? monthly? regular schedules 1-on-1 or just seeing your boss in meetings?… do you want to have someone checking over your work or are you confident in the role?… When there’s a problem to be solved, do you like to propose solutions yourself, or get told what the plan is and you give feedback on it? … Do you want to and are you expected to be involved in the longterm decisions or just daily operations? etc.

  13. Red Sunglasses*

    I’ve been working in a support role for a professional services firm(worked in Biglaw now consulting) for 5 years and I’m just exhausted. Dealing with ‘difficult personalities’, people who think I should be as dedicated to this place and work crazy hours for clients because they are (it helps when you have equity in the firm’s earnings) and people who demand every email be answered and item actioned within a few hours. I’m dealing with a senior director gunning for partner who is so disorganized, changes her mind every other day and generally rather rude and a control freak- and I’m not only expected to do my job(I’m not an EA) but also organizer her head. My firm is big on ‘proactive-ness’ but it also feels like I’m expected to read people’s minds or spend hours on a task (anticipating that’s what they’ll want) with the possibility they’ll want something else totally.

    I know there are people who thrive in these types of environments so I’d love to know if you are one of them and how to do so. Work is consuming my mental space due to anxiety around not performing well and fear of my inbox when I wake up. I’m realizing this is clearly not a fit for me and am looking for a new job but would love advice for how to cope in the meantime.

    1. PX*

      If you know you’re leaving, I’m a big fan of going down to the bare minimum. Just do your 9-5, dont go over and above. Do what you can to help the boss, but dont go over and above. Do your best to leave work at work.

      It might be hard, especially if you want to make sure you get a good reference out of them, but often that moment where you just stop caring can really help carry you through the rest of the time as you job search.

      Best of luck!

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      A lot of people hit their limit at 5 years in professional services, so realize this is completely normal on your part! Immediately begin work-to-rule, which is both effective and hard to prove in professional services. CYA on absolutely everything.

      If you are non-exempt, bill for every second of overtime, no matter what and no matter who threatens you for it. (If you know for sure that this will get you terminated before you’re ready to leave, document all of your overtime and file a wage claim afterwards. I, foolishly, left over $25K of unpaid time on the table when I left, because I just wanted to be gone and never deal with them again.)

      My complete sympathy on the senior director gunning for partner; they are literally the most obnoxious humans on earth. Someone who is on the verge of up or out has the temperament of a rabid wolverine at the best of times.

    3. Malika*

      Good for you for looking for a new job! It’s exhausting and demoralizing working for someone who is chaotic and temperamental. It is best to leave as soon as possible. By the time people have worked out this person needs to change, you are the one dealing with a massive burnout. In the meantime here are some survival options from someone who is an EA:

      -Action list. I have had demanding bosses back off when they saw in clear visuals how big my workload is. An action list with clear progress points helps immensely. For a particularly demanding boss i at one point logged what i was doing every 5 minutes complete with interruptions and a timing on how long it took to handle interruption and get back to task. He went from stating it was impossible to get a budget for extra help, to arranging a job post for an extra EA within 5 days. Change is possible, even in the most unexpected circumstances.

      -CYA to the nth degree. Every time she hands you an action, note in an e-mail what the details of the task and what the scope is. Give her an opportunity to add notes or clear up inconsistencies, and then go ahead and process the task. Create a list of all the projects that were started and discarded, and add regularly. Together with estimated time you invested in each project. That can be another powerful visual.

      -Can you get clear on 2-3 global goals you should be pursuing, each quarter? This also potentialy creates scope and limits. A mission for yourself limits what you need to take on and allows for a clearer sifting on what needs to be done now and what can be saved for later. When demanding boss realized I needed to onboard tens of new employees and arrange their visa’s in one month, he realized that demanding i photocopy his teams presentations wasn’t the best investment of my working hours. Added bonus was that his team backed off from throwing tasks willy nilly on my desk.

      -What all these suggestions boil down to is to document intensely your interactions with the director. One of two consequences will materialize. They will feel as if they are a character in 1984 and back down. Alternatively, they will realize how unreasonable their demands are and work towards an alternative.

  14. Flaxseed*

    I work in the administrative section in Education (K-12) and everything is always up in the air, things change at the last minute, there are Directors screaming at each other and their staff, etc. There is just so much dysfunction and chaos. I know that things in the world are different now, but even before that, it was still like this. Is this normal for those who work in similar environments?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t know if it’s “normal” or not, but it’s not unavoidable. I’ve definitely worked in several administrative roles in K-12, and I haven’t had that environment. Maybe I was just lucky?

    2. Wednesday*

      Chaos/things in the air/last minute changes-yes
      Dysfunction–about half of the school systems
      Screaming–NO.

  15. EggEgg*

    After months of looking for the right fit, I accepted an offer for a position I’m really excited about! I’ve given notice at my old job and have a start date at the new one, but my background check is still pending. I don’t have anything that should get flagged, but it’s still making me nervous to have something outstanding. I was in the final stages with a couple other organizations; should I withdraw now or wait until the background check goes through?

    1. Choggy*

      What kind of communication are you expecting with regard to your background check and from whom? How long have you been waiting for confirmation about this? Is there anyone you could follow up with if your start date is looming?

      1. EggEgg*

        Not long, HR just submitted my information on Tuesday. Remote onboarding is pretty new to them (it’s a remote position, but I don’t think they had any remote employees until COVID made them realize it was possible), so I’m supposed to be on the lookout for more information about that in the next week or so. My first day is supposed to be November 2nd, and my orientation is scheduled for 1 o’clock. I’ve got the contact information for HR and my whole management chain in case of emergency.

    2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      Definitely wait – one of the other orgs could come through with an offer you can’t refuse, or the current org could suddenly decide to put the position on hold, or whatever.

      1. EggEgg*

        Okay, thank you! Alison has written a lot about not withdrawing after you accept, but this is my first ‘career’ job change and I’m having trouble mentally navigating the mix of uncertainty and solid scheduling

    3. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m in a similar situation. Background checks in my industry can take up to a month even when there’s not a pandemic. Don’t withdraw from the other jobs yet. Nothing is official until you’re sitting at your new desk executing tasks for your new position. Good luck in your new job, and wishing you a speedy background check!

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Don’t withdraw from the other jobs yet. Nothing is official until you’re sitting at your new desk executing tasks for your new position.

        THIS. If (heaven forbid) something happens and this job falls through, you don’t want to be back at square one. Keep going through with your other opportunities until you start at the new place.

    4. Garnet, Crystal Gem*

      Here to commiserate. I accepted an offer for a contract role a week ago (offer was made about two weeks ago, but I tried to negotiate the rate which delayed the process a bit) and now I’m waiting for my background check to clear which feels like it’s taking *forever*. I’ve had to supply supplemental materials (w2s, 1099s, offer letters, etc.) throughout the proccess and it’s making me really anxious (though I have no reason to be). I’ve never been through a search this demanding and time consuming.

      As others have mentioned these things can sometimes take a while, and the timeline might be compounded by COVID. I wouldn’t withdraw the other apps! Wait and see what happens. I’m still applying and interviewing for other jobs myself, while keeping my fingers crossed for the contract gig.

  16. Confusing huh*

    I’ve been working at my company for almost a year and a half. We received a 3% merit based raise in March and around that same time me and the people I started with noticed that we were getting paid less. We had beed getting paid about $4 more for our typical work that we do and our base pay was for meetings and such. (The raise was just for our base pay). Apparently when they gave us our merit raise, they noticed that we were getting over paid and had been for about 8 months. This was obviously upsetting, but we moved on. Earlier this week I had my bi-annual meeting with my boss and was going to ask for a raise but I chickened out. I’m not sure if it’s even worth it to ask since the raise would just be for meetings and that ends up being about an hour a week. Pluse we got merit raises so idk if it’s appropriate to ask for another. And if I do want to ask for a raise i feel like I just missed my chance. Please help!!

      1. Confusing huh*

        It’s just like my base pay, but since we have a government contract we get paid more when working on that. The govt contract is what they realized we were getting paid too much for

  17. Prestige Fatigue*

    I am currently employed at a prestigious higher education institution. My job used to be great – wonderful boss who valued me and world travel required! Now I have a new boss who doesn’t value me – not in the “they are new and are still getting to know me” way but in a fundamental “doesn’t value staff contributions” way. So that is not changing. I’m glad to be securely employed in a pandemic but I am unhappy and looking for something else.

    The question is do I hold out for an equally prestigious institution – I am willing to relocate nearly anywhere – or do I go with a job that will be okay and I can definitely do but I’m not excited about it. And it takes me off the world stage. No more black tie galas, international programs or billionaire connections, but a stable employer and fully permanently remote job.

    I’m at a crossroads where I have to decide my own career trajectory as well as the geographic location for my stay at home spouse and kids who are too young to care where we live. I’m overwhelmed by the whole year and worried about making a poor choice just because I’m miserable in my current job.

    Advice on how to approach the decision?

    1. Ali G*

      How long have you been doing this type of work? Setting aside that you probably won’t get back to jet-setting world wide any time soon, I found this type of work has an expiration date. After doing it for close to 15 years, I was happy to leave it all behind. Will you still be happy doing it in 5 years? What about when your kids start getting into sports, have life milestones, etc.?
      If you can get yourself on a new trajectory where success =/= prestige, but other types of successes would that make you happy?

    2. Delta Delta*

      I’m someone who was educated at a) one very prestigious place and b) one not as prestigious place. I liked them both and both fit the situation I needed at the time. Obviously education is different than work, but I always felt like the prestigious place worked hard to talk about how prestigious it was and the non-prestigious place talked about the substance of what we were doing and was less concerned about prestige.

      think about what you value. Are you really into black tie galas? If galas outweigh feeling unappreciated, go for the galas. I don’t say that to be snarky – that sort of thing might genuinely outweigh the other feeling you have. Is it possible to find another job within the educational institution with a different boss? That might solve the problem right there. Otherwise, it seems very much to your benefit to look at other institutions and types of places to see what might fit. I’d also think about the community where you may end up, as well. If you move from say, Boston to Central Ohio, you’d be trading certain Boston benefits for certain Ohio benefits. All those things are very valid to consider, as well. (and I say this not at all to snark on either geographic location but just to recognize that different communities have different feels)

    3. Combinatorialist*

      The best advice I got about making this kind of decision is to imagine you have already made both decisions (one at a time) and see what feelings come up. If your “head” is torn between about equivalent pros and cons, thinking you have made the decision and letting your feelings surface, makes it easier for me to hear what the “heart” thinks.

    4. Hi there*

      I’ve had a couple of outrageously bad bosses at my esteemed employer, and both times the person was my boss for less than two years. I thought I was suffering alone (and mostly in silence) but my situation was rectified by folks at a higher level. If you have been at your institution a long time things could still work out for you. I work at a prestigious higher ed institution also, and it sounds like your boss is a bad fit for the whole place. That usually gets noticed.

      Also, any decision you make now is not necessarily final. I worry you are boxing yourself in by focusing in on the extreme ends of the range like Michelin star versus home cooking. Like Delta Delta I’d suggest thinking about your values and what drives you to perform well in your work and then look for jobs where you can do that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I get that this feels like a fork in the road decision, but does it have to be?
      Are there alternatives, such as take different job while you look for the Ideal Job? This gets you away from Stagnation City Boss and allows you to keep your options open.

      I think the number one concern I see here is that you are miserable in your job. This will tend to make other situations look “less than”. Pretend you are talking to a friend about life’s hopes and dreams. What do you tell your friend that you really want out of life?

      For myself, I was surprised to find out that I like consistency. I did not realize that about me. My life was such that everything changed all the time. I don’t need the glam but I do need a steady reliable check.

    6. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      I’m a fundraiser and it sounds like maybe you’re doing some kind of fundraising/alumni work? I’ve worked at three universities of different sizes/level of prestige, and the biggest difference I noticed between them is the culture/attitude among my colleagues and constituents. I worked at a place where the assumption was that everyone would give “because it’s XYZ University” and not a lot of true relationship building was actually taking place with the alumni – personally, I found that to be less than fulfilling. On the other hand, where I work now very few alumni are prepared to give so it’s a ton of cultivation and relationship management and relatively small gift totals (which is frustrating in its own way). You’ll have to do some soul searching and determine what’s important to you – world travel, hobknobbing with billionaires (and being able to say “Oh last time I saw Bill, you know, Bill Gates…”), fancy events, and being able to say you work for Prestigious University; on the other side, having a voice in the organization, feeling more valued, maybe the opportunity for a different trajectory. Either way is perfectly valid but if you do decide to strike out on a job search I recommend you pay close attention to the culture of the place (constituents/colleagues/management) rather than just the level of prestige. Honestly there’s nothing wrong with looking and interviewing, it’s totally ok to just see what’s out there before you’ve committed to leaving your current job. Good luck!

    7. Malika*

      Only you can decide what will work for you. The visualizing different outcomes advice that is offered above is a good technique to ascertain what you really want. Do you have other friends who have left a prestige organisation and went to work else where? What have their experiences been?

      A friend of mine years ago left a well known magazine job and cushy lifestyle. It took him four years to cut the cord after having worked there for a decade. He has broken barriers in his personal life he thought were unbreakable (succesfully tackled drug problem, broke long bachelor streak and now has a child with great partner). His job is now not as prestigious but he is so much happier and it has opened up new possibilities. It was totally worth it.

      My first real job was at a world-famous auction house. Yes, it ends in an ‘s. In the seven years i worked there i experienced enough to write a novel, handled the most beautiful objects, learnt innumerable skills, met a wide array of people and got used to taking left-over champagne bottles to my crummy bedsit. After seven years i really needed a change of scenery, and to be part of a more inclusive workplace. There were a few hiccups along the way, but i found that workplace and it was exactly what i wanted.

  18. Potatoes gonna potate*

    Thanks everyone for the advice the previous week.

    This was my first 2 weeks being a SAHM. And not sure how long for — comfort stories of those who took time off for kids and didn’t suffer in their careers?

    When I got pregnant last year, my plan was to go on maternity leave, come back to work for a few more months, save up, quit, and be at home for about a year. Well, I ended up being laid off during the start of COVID/halfway through the pregnancy.. I was caught off guard and being quarantined and all… wasn’t in the best frame of mind. Once I had the baby, I felt physically fine I got a few opportunities thinking I could do them. They didn’t work out so I’m taking a breather now.

    With that said….I haven’t decided how long my break will be. I’ve been reading since I was a teen how challenging it is for moms to resume their careers after taking a break from the workforce for having kids (or the challenges they face when they never worked in the first place). And of course with the pandemic how more women are dropping out of the workforce.

    I always planned on being a working mom…..so I guess I am just scared of being un-hireable if I take too long of a break, esp with the way things are right now. I know there are specific things in my field that I can do to remain current and I have a few people to turn to for those. I guess on here, I’m looking for any success stories of those who took time off for kids and didn’t suffer in their careers…..or even if they went in a diff direction and things worked out ok. I don’t recall seeing any recent posts about this but if there are, I’d love to read those too…

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      I think its ok to just take things a day at a time. 2020 is so weird for everyone that no one is going to blink about a year or so gap.

      My mom was in a highly technical career, but quit to be a SAHM when I was born. She lasted 1 month before begging for her job back.
      Then my brother was born, and around middle school started having trouble. She quit again to be a SAHM. This time things went much smoother because she 1) arranged with my dad to have dedicated time to do grown up activities by herself every day and 2) kept involved in her career other ways – going to the occasional conference, volunteering on a VERY part time basis maintaining a nonprofit’s website, etc.
      After a year, she found a tangentially related but much lower stress job she worked at 30 hours a week for 2 years.
      Then she was able to go back to her original industry, where she has worked / continued to rise ever since. It helped that she had kept in touch with coworkers (through twice yearly lunches, mailing holiday cards, that kind of thing) and was able to have them advocate for her to hiring managers.

      So I think the big things are 1) stop stressing so much about making a grand plan for the future – when you’re ready, it might take you some time to break back in, but you’ll be able to do it. And 2) try to hold onto a connection to not-mom-you, which will be great for both your future career and your mental health.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I actually wanted to be a SAHM, but by the time it happened, that wasn’t a viable option in the real-world economy.

      My creative vocation (performing) was not something I could combine with the needs of my family, but fortunately my day-job skills (legal secretary) are pretty much always in demand. And, as much downside as there is to traditional “pink collar” jobs, the upside is that there’s no stigma attached to taking time off for family. I had a good job within a week, and within a year was making as much as I ever had.

      After our family situation stabilized and my husband got a job with good health insurance, I switched to freelance writing. We struggled for a few years while I got established, but now I make 3x my former hourly rate as a secretary.

      There are a lot of paths & opportunities out there.

    3. ten four*

      Ooh been there – I got laid off in the last crash when my kiddo was 6 weeks old. I had not planned to be a SAHM and I really went into a tailspin. My industry essentially disappeared in that crash, which really upped the challenge level too. It’s really hard to have the SAHM role decided for you.

      I wound up going in another direction. I was able to pick up some freelance work in the digital space (I don’t code; I did content strategy work), and I was eventually able to transfer some of my skills from my old industry to digital. I started as a project manager, but rose up pretty quickly; my resume from my pre-crash days really started me off on a good foot.

      I think overall I was un- or under-employed for about three years. People really do understand about layoffs in times of economic crisis, and having a baby actually makes it easier in some ways. That’s a story people can grok easily, you know? If you can pick up a little freelance work or volunteering then you basically don’t have a gap.

      My career had a very fast trajectory once I got a foothold at a small company; I was originally laid off 10 years ago and I’ve been working at very senior levels for 5+ years now.

      I read the exact same stuff as you about Moms and the workforce and it’s scary AF. It’s not inevitable though. Do the things you mentioned to stay current, pick up freelance jobs if you can, think about what you’re good at and contemplate shifting industries if there’s something else that feels like a good fit.

      Another poster mentioned that pink collar jobs make this type of transition easier. You might also consider looking for paths where you can rise up to management. In my experience working at Director/C-levels makes it a lot easier to balance my work and life. I have more access to PTO, I have more control over my time, and the extra money helps.

      I’m so sympathetic! You’ve got this.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        It’s really hard to have the SAHM role decided for you.
        Oh my gosh YES! It’s the whole someone else deciding for you thing that really got to me — pandemic or not.

        At my last long term place, I rose up to management and was making $70k. At my most recent job where I was let go, I was a senior making the same amount. I am ok with going back to a mid level role making less until I can rise again….I just fear having a hard time getting my foot back in the door like I did when I was entry level.

    4. Anon-mama*

      I was underemployed when my first was born. Given the low pay, I quit and was a SAHM for 18 months, most of it spent looking for a full-time position with a salary that could cover the type of childcare that was the right fit for us, as well as staying current by doing per diem shifts for one of the employers. Once I found my current job (length of time to get it was entirely industry dependent), I’ve been employed for two years, had a second baby with a 3-month leave, and am excelling and growing in my job. It’s definitely possible. Just keep doing what you’re doing.

    5. Ann Perkins*

      My sister is a CPA and didn’t have any trouble taking some time off. She took off a handful of years, then taught math at her kids’ very small school so that she could have summers off, then went back fulltime recently at an equivalent position to what she had years ago. I think it worked for her because she caught up on CE in order to maintain her CPA license, and she’s very friendly and knows a lot of people. Make sure you stay involved in groups, even outside your profession, since a personal connection can go a long way in job hunting.

    6. Disco Janet*

      I was a stay at home mom for a little less than two years, then made a career change. My first career was something I had just sort of fallen into, and especially once having children I knew I didn’t want to stay in it long term. When my youngest was a few months old I went back to college for my teaching certification, and did not have any trouble entering the field. If employers wondered about the gap between when I left my old job and when I went back to school, they never questioned it.

      Are you hoping to eventually get back to the accounting field, or considering a switch? Taking classes can be a good way to fill the gap. If that’s not a possibility, I would probably leave your two recent, short jobs off your resume entirely. Just say that you were laid off around the beginning of covid (I think that’s accurate? Struggling a bit to recall all the details) and then were busy with some family caretaking obligations, but that you are now ready and excited to rejoin the workforce. It’s a harder sell without any classes or anything to keep you current during that gap, but it can be done. Giving a great interview obviously helps, so when you are ready to return I recommend lots of practicing your responses to some standard interview questions.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Are you hoping to eventually get back to the accounting field, or considering a switch? Taking classes can be a good way to fill the gap. If that’s not a possibility, I would probably leave your two recent, short jobs off your resume entirely. Just say that you were laid off around the beginning of covid (I think that’s accurate? Struggling a bit to recall all the details) and then were busy with some family caretaking obligations, but that you are now ready and excited to rejoin the workforce.

        Yes, I was laid off in March. I do plan to stay in accounting, but not sure at what capacity. I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull any more 60-70 hour weeks anymore, or at least not this tax season. never planned to put these last two jobs on the resume. I am able to take on freelance work and keep up with my continuing education.

    7. Malarkey01*

      From my experience (both taking a year off with each child and with hiring people), the SAHM gap is a factor but generally doesn’t kick in until you’re out 3-4 years in my industry. As more and more managers become women and as some industries are allowing for more paternal flexibility, people aren’t frowning on the shorter gaps. The ones that I see that have more problems are the ones that stayed at home when their first kid was born and want to come back after their youngest starts school- which can be 10+ years for some of them. That’s where skills gaps, lack of contacts, and honestly different norms and expectations start to show up in my experience. I also think 2020-2021 is going to look a bit like 2008-2010 where gaps of 1-2 years aren’t going to look that uncommon just due to the economy.

      Good luck, and honestly for me staying home a year was the best decision for our family. If you’re happy staying home, don’t let the fear of a small gap scare you.

    8. Anon stay at home mom*

      Due to a bunch of different circumstances, I ended up taking almost 15 years off after my second kid was born. Two years after I went back to work, I am at an equivalent level to when I left. I work in health care. A friend of mine stayed at home more than 10 years, and after about 5 years is doing as well as she did before kids. She works in finance. I have friends who are teachers who were out for 5-10 years and were able to get back to work in similar roles. It really varies by industry, and by individual.

  19. Aggretsuko*

    I wasn’t allowed to send email (ANY email) all week long without my boss’s permission. There were very few emails that weren’t corrected, mostly with really tiny things like “put a space between thank you and your signature.” I got in more trouble (someone started spamming every email box she could find 20 times over) because I didn’t write her back for days, because I couldn’t without permission. After a few days of no response, they start writing back complaining that I hadn’t responded, which I couldn’t without permission. I suspect this punished my boss too since having to read all of my emails per day just adds to her workload. This was entirely my grandboss’s idea, of course. And of course, I haven’t worked on ANY group inbox emails since I got yelled at for running out one day, so of course there is huge backlog about it. I feel like all I can do is shrug emoji. I had to tell all of my coworkers about it since they were complaining I wasn’t working on any emails. That was a joy.

    I get to have my next shaming meeting today, so I guess I see if they give up on this or not. I’m sure I’m considered just as bad as I ever was after a week of heavy supervision. Because I am The Worst.

    I did schedule an appointment with an ombuds today. I don’t really expect it to do anything, but it’s nice to talk to someone and my therapist is off this week.

    I am also (most likely) going to have to work during the holidays, which sucks, but it’s not like I can do anything else either this year, so I might as well.

    1. Potatoes gonna potate*

      oh my god that sounds so terrible. I don’t know if there’s more of a backstory but….that sounds so infantilizing. I hope you’re able to find something better soon.

    2. WantonSeedStitch*

      Oh wow. This is giving me flashbacks to my long-ago nightmare job. It’s not something that happened to me, but is similar enough to my old evil boss’s approach to management that it feels INCREDIBLY familiar. I am so, so sorry you’re dealing with this. This kind of infantilizing, punishment-based, nitpicky bull**** pushed me to the edge of a breakdown, and made my performance even worse. I eventually quit that job without another lined up, because I figured that even if I got through all my savings and ended up broke or begging help from my parents before I got something else, it was better than destroying my mental health. Turned out to be the best decision I could have made. Are you looking for another position right now? If not…I would start.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’d bet that manager would take it out on the employee too if employee was limited in their work due to manager and the employee got in trouble.

        I don’t understand what goes through these managers minds… “oh you can’t do the work because I’m limiting you? Well it’s still your fault b/c you should be magically perfect.” Had a boss like this, saw bits of this at my most recent job as well. Narcissistic assholes imo.

      1. miho*

        I had the same question in mind while reading this comment. What’s the backstory here?

        This situation reminds me of a boss I had who had no trust with any of his direct reports. I wasn’t even allowed to print out a temporary “this room is closed” sign without him proofreading it and making very minor formatting changes first. The previous person in my position left due to “personality clashes”, but I soon found out that the manager was simply a micromanager because he did not trust anyone to produce the same quality of work that he had produced.

    3. PollyQ*

      Are you job-hunting? Because this situation is completely beyond ridiculous. “Punishing” an employee by preventing them from doing their job makes absolutely no sense, and the fact that other people in your office don’t seem to realize that means the environment is hideously toxic.

      This is as clear a case of “You need to GTFO” as I’ve seen here.

    4. Cj*

      I remember reading your comment about this last week. What do you mean by “ran out of e-mails one day”? I didn’t understand that last week and still am not sure what you mean.

  20. ursula*

    Hi all. I’m a longtime AAM reader and I am in the process of being promoted to lead a new Department at my nonprofit, and I’ll be directly managing people for the first time. (I’ve been on the senior leadership team for years, but this is my first time having direct reports, some of whom were technically my peers until this week.) I’ve read through the AAM archives for advice for first-time managers, but I thought I’d ask the commentariat: what piece of advice would you give a first-time manager? If you have any books/podcasts/etc to recommend that would also be welcome. Thanks – I learn so much from this site and the commenters.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      I also started my management career managing former peers. I think a nice thing to do is to meet with everyone 1:1 after you start, to get an idea of what’s making them happy, what’s frustrating them, and what you can do to help them do their best work and feel engaged in their job.

  21. should i apply?*

    Best tips for motivating yourself at work.

    I am in a major “I don’t care” slump at work. While the pandemic and election stress isn’t helping, I think it is mostly because I have been doing pretty much the same thing for the last 6 years and I am bored. However, the “i don’t care attitude” is probably limiting my abilities to work on something interesting, because I am not even trying to find opportunities. WFH isn’t helping because it definitely makes procrastination easier. My boss isn’t involved in my day to day work, so I am unlikely to get any negative feedback until its way too late.

    So how do you motivate yourself to be at least semi-productive when you just don’t care?

    1. Burnout Phoenix*

      Take some time off, if you have PTO available. What you are describing sounds exactly like my burnout. Time off — long enough to get through the few days of “What do I do with myself” and then spend some time binging junk TV/doing crafts/playing video games/whatever — and THEN get to the point where you feel like you want to be productive again.

      “Productive” can mean “okay, I’m ready to job search” or it can mean “I’m re-energized about my job”. Or it could end up being somthing else.

      But if you have a week (or two!) of PTO available this might be a good use for it.

    2. Web Crawler*

      1. Can you create a metric for yourself to judge how you’ve been doing? I find it a lot harder to motivate myself when I have clear targets, because once I hit a target, I can give myself a reward or a break. And “clear 5 tickets” feels a lot less exhausting than “clear as many tickets as I can in 8 hours”

      2. Take real breaks. I have a problem of taking too many short breaks where I check my phone, read this blog, open facebook, and return equally stressed. So now I’m trying to take 15 minute breaks where I walk away from my computer, play a video game, go outside, and return feeling a lot better. It makes me more productive too, but that’s a side effect

      3. If this “I don’t care” slump spreads into the rest of your life, consider that it could be low-grade depression. This is coming from someone who’s been depressed for years because I thought I just needed to fix one more thing in my life and then I could be happy. Long story short, therapy’s been helping me a lot

      1. should i apply?*

        I am “acting project manager” on a long term project (year+). I find it really hard to set clear goals or metrics because of this. As a bonus, I don’t want to be a project manager. I got volun-told for the role because I am the technical lead and my company has way more projects then project managers.

        The schedule is actually my responsibility, but my team members aren’t responsive about what activities they need to do and what the time frame is to do them. So I only have a vague high level schedule. Which really isn’t helping me keep on track. I should develop a more detailed schedule, but I don’t wanna

    3. NaoNao*

      Usually strategy and long term focus meeting help put a pep in the step for me. Talking about expanding the scope of X tool or project, possible team changes or expansion, new tools and skills, ideas for the future—getting excited about “what’s next” can sometimes do the trick.

    4. Ama*

      I am very much in your shoes — been at my current job for 7 years, and had started job hunting in January. Unfortunately my original plan was to move into an area of nonprofits that has been hit very hard by the pandemic and while I haven’t stopped looking, I haven’t seen any postings I’m remotely interested in in months. A few things I have done:

      – I find setting myself 3-5 simple to-do goals each day (even stuff as simple as “reply to Jane’s email”) helps me keep things moving forward. I write them down before I log off each day so that it also helps with the decision paralysis I tend to get when I’m burned out. I currently use one note to keep track of my list so I can check things off as I finish them, it is very satisfying.

      – Since I realized part of my boredom/burnout is that my role here has evolved so that I no longer have any creative/design work (the first time that’s been true of my job in 20 years), I have started a tiny side business where I design fabric for Spoonflower and I’m learning to design fonts. I don’t expect I’ll ever be able to make enough money at it that I can do that full-time (and I have a strict rule about never doing any side business work during regular work hours), but having creative projects again has helped stimulate me mentally, and having something else I do that isn’t my current job has helped me feel less stuck here.

      -This one might not be something you can do, but I spent the first five months of the pandemic as essentially a one-woman department (I report directly to our CEO). Two months ago, I was able to bring on a middle-management level direct report and having to talk to her on video every day and collaborate with her on projects has forced me to engage, because I’m more regularly accountable for getting things done. (I did talk to my boss regularly but as CEO she’s had a LOT going on during all this and since I wasn’t one of the departments in crisis sometimes we’d only talk by email for weeks). If you have an opportunity to collaborate with someone on a regular project that could also help you feel a little more engaged.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Bribery: If I do x then I can have y. I get my reports completed then I can go get a cuppa coffee.

      Fear: If I don’t work along, people will be mad at me.
      Bigger Fear: If I don’t work along I will be disappointed in myself.

      Rationalizing: My job is boring because I know it by heart. I remember a time when I did not know what I was doing and that really shook me up. Compared to that shake up, “boring” is a relief.

      Gaming: I have done this job so long, I could do it in my sleep. Let me see if I can find ways to do it quicker and with higher accuracy. This will be tough because I think I have covered all this, so I really have to pay attention to see what I can do here.

      For me, no one method works all the time. I had to switch back and forth between methods.

    6. WorkingFromCafeinCA(prePandemic)*

      Also SAME. I’m at 7.5yrs at the same small company and I just feel completely disinterested in what we do anymore. I switched into this field from a completely different one years ago, and I was super interested and motivated for the first 3-4 years. But I feel like the field itself is changing in a way that I don’t like, priorities are shifting broadly and at our company, and I just feel bored and unmotivated.
      Is it burnout? pandemic? election year anxiety?

      I think I want to switch careers entirely but have no idea what else I’d want to do. I’m at the point of wanting to take career finder quizzes like when I was in high school.

      Anyway that’s no help, but I’m with you.

  22. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have been interviewing since August for a job that would be slightly different than what I’m doing now but would offer me opportunities to do more of what I want to be doing. Plus more money, which I really, really want. I had a phone screen and interviews with four people, including the hiring manager, her bosses, and a peer. Everything went really, really well. The feedback has been incredibly positive.

    But… I didn’t get the job. But I didn’t NOT get the job. They’re pushing hiring back a few months for reasons that make perfect sense and while I am a top candidate, if not the top candidate, they cannot make an offer right now. They said to expect to hear from them in a few months.

    This is so frustrating! The recruiter is great, he and I have developed a really good rapport, I really like the company and they like me, but… gah. I guess this is better than a flat-out no? Don’t worry, I’ll continue to look for other positions, but man, that was not what I wanted to hear this week.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. I was hoping you would have good news to post this week. Hang in there, I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!

  23. Amber Rose*

    They fired another one of our VPs (it’s been a slaughter for upper management this year) and are replacing him with some strict, emotionless dude who apparently scares my boss. He’s apparently big on like, monitoring internet use and making sure nobody is wasting time chatting or having fun, that kind of thing.

    But it’s fine you guys because they gave me a $600 gaming chair to replace my other more basic office chair.

    I’m… tired. Tired of the bread and circuses. Tired of the empty promises and the constant aura of fear that’s hovering over everyone. But it’s not safe to job hunt. I can’t take any risks when my husband works in health care, a targeted industry right now. He’s non-union too. :(

    It’s getting harder and harder to focus/care right at a time when my new grandboss is going to be watching us with hawk eyes. How the heck am I supposed to survive here? All the good things and perks of this job are being whittled away.

    Sitting in this Secret Labs Omega may be the most comfy my butt has ever been, admittedly.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      Sorry about your job, but you are so right about the Secret Labs chairs. I have chronic back pain, and I thought it was just a given I’d be in pain working an office job. I got the titan for home when we went WFH, and I am going to get one for the office too. They are amazing.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Sincere question because I honestly don’t get it. Why is it not safe to job hunt? You mean if they find out that you are looking? Or do you mean if the next place does not work out?

      1. Amber Rose*

        I can’t risk not having secure employment. My husband works in health care, and they just announced 11,000 jobs will be cut soon. If he’s one of them, we need to be as sure as we can that we’ll have at least my income.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Okay. So if he does not get laid off will his job be secure and then you can look around?
          Sometimes if we know something is a sprint not a marathon we can con ourselves through it.

  24. Arc’teryx*

    I am starting a new job in a 100% WFH capacity. This is a “stretch” position, with some overlaps in terms of skill with what I have been doing for 5 years, but there will be a lot of new vocabulary and regulations to learn.
    What tips do you have for someone starting a new job WFH? Any ideas, are welcome, particularly in how I can build rapport with my new teammates, and tips for learning a new arm of my industry when I can’t just wander over to someone and ask questions at any time.
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Emilitron*

      What’s worked well for my team when we’ve onboarded has been that the new person has a mentor, available for all those random questions. There’s the project lead on the tasks they’re working, but also someone who’s also on that team who’s not “in charge” just supplying info.
      My new-employee mentee last month shadowed me through meetings, we’d have the private chat channel open so I could provide definitions of acronyms, a who’s who, context on why a question, etc. but also invited them to a few more meetings than were truly in the job description just to get a sense of the whole project and meet some of the people involved. As they were getting up to speed and meeting more people I’d start giving my answers but also suggesting names of people who are also resources.
      So maybe ask for a colleague mentor workbuddy to be assigned, if they don’t do that already

  25. christy*

    I’ve got one: so I work in an offsite department of a city. I work as one of the two tech/admin people however we rely heavily on our city IT. For the last little while I have been feeling that I have been dismissed by them (I and my coworker are woman, they are men), and being talked down to. I did bring that up with my manager but she doesn’t usually want to deal with other people’s problems, and in turn dismisses them as differences in perception. However, a recent incident changed my mind… I think.

    The head lead of IT sent us an email about updates, but included a male coworker. This is weird, but has happened before as for some reason (?) they have mistakenly thought he was part of the Tech team. He most definitely is not and is in fact very tech-adverse at times. It is a small city and operation, and there is no reason for error here. I responded directly to the IT guy and politely asked why the male coworker was included in the email. In the meantime I went to by boss with my concerns and was dismissed but she was also confused as to why our coworker was included and was interested in the response. I never received one. But my male coworker did! My email was forwarded to him with the line “because he is a smartypants”.

    So… I am furious, my female coworkers are furious, and male coworker just thinks this is funny and told me in no uncertain terms that he did not want me to escalate this because it would ruin his relationship with tech guy. Essentially he told me that he values his work bro relationship with tech guy offsite, more than with coworker who sits beside him (me).

    I am mad at everyone.

    1. christy*

      My question is what to do now! go to manager again? she’ll do nothing but at least she’ll be informed.

      1. TiffIf*

        Go to your manager again, if she doesn’t do anything, go to her supervisor.

        male coworker just thinks this is funny and told me in no uncertain terms that he did not want me to escalate this because it would ruin his relationship with tech guy.

        This is not his choice to make in the slightest.

        1. christy*

          Thanks, that is pretty much what I came to as well. My first thought wasn’t even to escalate the situation, until he said not to — not to be contrarian, but because the situation became that much more awful when he chose to prioritize his relationship with the off-site guy he barely works with over his direct colleague, me.

      2. King Friday XIII*

        Yeah, I agree. She wanted to know what the answer was! So you should tell her. And wow does that sound infuriating, I don’t blame you for being mat at everyone.

        1. christy*

          Thanks. He has been pretty successful at gaslighting all of us (women) in the office by minimizing our reactions over the past year. He doesn’t even realize it, since he’s a nice guy. A nice guy who does not want to change the status quo because he has designs on becoming the next manager. I can’t imagine how much worse it will be when that happens. Because it will, of course.

    2. WellRed*

      Well, the problem with feeling dismissed is very valid, I think this email is not a hill to die on. Does it matter that he was copied on it? Did it impact you/impede your job in any way? I’m guessing no. The bigger issue is you feel undervalued and you have crap management. That’s what you need to focus on, not this email.

      1. christy*

        I agree, not a hill to die on, and no it did not impede the task at hand. But it was indicative of a trend whereby the two female workers in the actual tech liaison role were diminished. It isn’t just about me feeling undervalued, but yet another incident of microaggression against women in the workplace that was cause for being made into a joke. My biggest problem is that my male coworker would rather support this jerk than the two women he shares an office with.

  26. Federal Employee Question*

    If one is at a certain grade because the grade was capped, but one is doing a much higher level grade work, how does one get it recognized officially so that when one applies for a higher grade position, it really counts as time-in-grade?

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Hey! Fellow Fed here…..I don’t know the answer to your question, and I believe the actual process is likely very long and complex, but I would encourage you to reach out to your union rep, if you have a union at your agency. Also, if you have a union, then you have a contract that you should locate and review in detail to see if that info is there. Changing the grade of a position or work done within your existing position is a management level (not your manager, agency management) decision and takes quite a while at my agency…..likes years.

      I know this isn’t reassuring. In the interim, does your agency have guidelines that details out how work is “graded” so you can prove that you are doing higher graded work? If so, find those guidelines and start creating a paper trail to prove that you are doing above grade work.

    2. Just a PM*

      Also look at OPM’s website under Classification & Qualifications. They have guides for most of the govt positions that break down the expectations at different grade levels. If you searched for “Functional Guides for White Collar Workers” you should be able to pull up the list. Knowing what grade you are performing at will go a long way in helping the negotiations that Former Retail Manager talked about. Don’t forget to look at your own PD (position description) too since sometimes that might have the breakdown of expectations at different grade levels.

      You could also organize and write your resume to demonstrate that you’re performing at a higher grade. Time-in-grade requirements are usually only for job announcements that are restricted to already-federal employees. For job announcements that are open to the public, there isn’t usually a time-in-grade requirement. You can apply to those without having time-in-grade using your resume to demonstrate that you’re capable of the work at the higher grade. (Many the job announcements usually have two listings — one that’s reserved for federal employees and one that is open to the public that anyone, even federal employees, can apply to.)

      1. Former Retail Manager*

        These are great points! And I am embarrassed to admit that I did not know about the resources on OPM’s website.

        As Just a PM mentioned, you can definitely apply as an external candidate to positions you are interested in, which negates the time in grade requirement. I have known several folks that have done this for positions that are open to both internal and external candidates.

    3. Fed Too*

      You can speak to your supervisor (or potentially go to HR directly depending on agency policy) to request a “desk audit” where they will review your duties against your PD and against the classification standards. That could result in the grade being increased or duties being removed.

      There’s also a process to speed up your steps if you are doing exceptional work preforming above (again going to vary by agency, some do this a lot others feel like an act of Congress).

      It would help if we knew what grade and series you are now since the higher your grades go the more fluid the classification becomes and what’s considered above grade shrinks. This is also going to somewhat vary by agency even though the classifications are suppose to have parity across gov. Some places are notoriously low graded or high graded places.

  27. LO*

    Hello All,

    I’m currently experiencing a gnarly case of work-related anxiety that I cannot seem to shake. I’m mostly just exhausted along with heart palpitations and a general feeling of malaise/panic/procrastination when working. I was not like this
    pre-pandemic and considered myself a high performer. Now, if given the option to hibernate for 2 months straight, I would gladly take it. I’m trying to be easy on myself in all of this, but finding it harder to keep a healthy mentality when everyday feels like a hike up Mount Everest emotionally. I’ve reached out to my therapist for help with starting accommodations for myself, but man. I’m just really really tired.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      Can you take some time off? You sound burnt out and a week+ if you can swing it should help you reset and recharge while you work with your therapist (which I’m very glad to hear you’re doing).

      What’s your relationship like with your manager and has your work changed at all during these times? If you have a good boss you should be able to talk with them about feeling burnt out and maybe develop a game plan to manage things a little better, or at least let them know you aren’t doing well so they have a bit of reference if they’ve noticed a change in you.

      It’s understandable you aren’t doing as well as you were pre-pandemic! These are scary, unstable times and it would be unreasonable to expect you can just function as normal.

    2. anon24*

      I’m so sorry LO. Please take care of yourself and use whatever accommodations you can get. I also am dealing with bad anxiety and would like to hibernate for 2 months straight. I have mornings where I lay in bed before getting up just repeating to myself “you can do this, its just your job, you got this, calm down.” I have today off and I’m currently wrapped up in my favorite blanket with my cat at my side and wow it feels good to just be.

      May we all find our inner peace and may the light at the end of the tunnel appear soon.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Please consider a drink with electrolytes in it and perhaps some vitamins. If you can’t eat much consider making veggie drinks and drinking your fruits and veggies. The nutrition will get into your body faster in liquid form, too. Soups are also a good way to sneak in nutrition that is quickly absorbed. That quick absorption is what exhausted people need.

      Exhaustion is a physical issue that requires some sort of physical support. Sitting in a room talking about being exhausted only helps for purposes of planning a better tomorrow or a better future. It does not replace the serious amount of vitamins and minerals missing from one’s body today.
      Heart palpitations can be (not always and not everyone) a lack of minerals and/or vitamin B. I get them with extreme emotional/physical stress. And rest is super important also.

  28. Helen J*

    One of the female employees at my job is peeing on the floor in the employee’s restroom. I reported it to management and they want me to come up with a “nicely worded sign” to address it. The problem is every “nicely worded sign” I have ever created gets changed. I say “please” and “thanks” but otherwise just plainly state the issue.

    I don’t think I, an hourly employee, should have to create a “nicely worded sign” to get people to stop pissing on the floor. It must be someone who is doing the squat/hover instead of sitting on the toilet. We have seat covers that are available, so I’m not sure what the issue is. We were told when we returned from lockdown/shelter in place to use only the employee restrooms and not any of the public restrooms (there are 5 public restrooms, plus a 6th family style restroom for parents who have littles who can’t go into a public restroom alone and it has a changing table).

    Is it too much to ask that management deals with this so I don’t have to try to avoid puddles of urine to use the restroom? Housekeeping provided disinfectant wipes but I am NOT wiping up a grown woman’s piss off the bathroom floor at work.

    1. christy*

      At my place of work this is a health and safety issue. Bodily fluids are to be dealt with professionally and each time our outsourced cleaners are called in at great expense. Management would deal with it quickly if that were the case.

      1. Helen J*

        We have housekeepers who are here everyday 7am-3pm. I ‘ve called them each time, they will come and clean it, but grumble about it. The the housekeeping manager, who works across town at the corporate office, was the one who came up with the wipes solution. She said the housekeepers can’t stay at the employee bathrooms and mop all day.

        Is “Please do not piss on the floor. If you miss the toilet bowl, please use the disinfectant wipes to clean up your urine. Thanks” nice enough?

        1. christy*

          I would omit the Please.

          Actually just “Wipe up your mess so the rest of us don’t have to. Thank you” should suffice.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            “To the person(s) who is (are) peeing on the floor,

            Maintenance cannot clean it up each time you do this. Wipes are provide [name location]. You must clean up after yourself just like we all have to do at home.”

            Is there an even small chance that the toilet could be leaking at the base and this is not the doing of some person?

        2. Malarkey01*

          Are you from the US? I know bathroom associated words are really region specific, but if you’re in the US the word “piss” would be considered pretty rude here. I’d just say If you notice you’ve splashed on the floor, please clean it up with the provided wipes. Thanks!

    2. D3*

      This is a byproduct of the lazy manager’s “don’t bring me a problem without a solution” crap.
      Managers, DO YOUR JOB. This is a problem for management to fix.

      I would be sorely tempted to put up a sign that says “Hey! You look beautiful today! SIT DOWN WHEN YOU PEE SO YOU DON’T PEE ALL OVER THE FLOOR! Thanks for being such a sweetie!”

      And then when they complain about the sign act all innocent and say “What? I made it a complement sandwich!”

      Because the idiots who believe in the “people can’t point out issues without doing my job and fixing it too” philosophy also probably believe in the poop sandwich technique.

      1. Just a PM*

        There were signs once at ExJob on all the stall doors that said “If you sprinkle while you tinkle, be a sweetie and wipe the seatie.” I don’t think the signs lasted long but they were effective. For a short while.

    3. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

      I am a big fan of signs in bathrooms. People flushing stuff down the toilet that backs up our septic? There’s a sign for that. Truck drivers leaving splatter? There’s a sign for that, too. For urine on the floor, I would say something to the effect of “lately we have been having an issue of biohazardous bodily waste on the floor, which creates a health & safety concern. Please ensure you are using the facilities in such a way as to reduce the health hazards caused by bodily waste not going in the toilet- use seat covers for sanitary concerns, make sure all tissues, paper towels, and feminine products are properly disposed of, and make use of the sanitizing wipes if there is a mess after you use the facilities. We appreciate your cooperation in keeping our workplace clean and sanitary!”

      But I am not a person who plays around about urine or other waste in the bathroom. That’s gross.

    4. NaoNao*

      I think for success the best bet is to focus on the desired outcome (health and safety and a usable bathroom for all).

      My sign would be something like “We have noticed that occasional oversplash is getting on the floor, likely from the “hover” maneuver. In order to keep this space safe and healthy for all, please check before leaving the stall to ensure no oversplash and if needed, please wipe up.”

      I confess I was taken aback a bit like “how are they peeing on the floor?” but reading further it sounds like drops are hitting the floor due to the hover. I also understand how this can be missed—not many people do any looking around after completing their business, let alone specifically look for drops on the floor! So you might have to dictate what exactly they need to do, because they’re probably thinking (just like I did) “There’s no possible way I, a woman, am actively peeing on the floor. This doesn’t refer to me.”

  29. Elisabeth*

    It’s the time of year for annual staff satisfaction surveys. We’re told to answer honestly and assured that these are anonymous and only aggregated results will be shared.

    How much do you trust your organisation that everything is kept anonymous? This is a small organisation (less than 50 people), so it’s hard not to be paranoid.

    1. burnoutisreal*

      I don’t trust it at ALL. Especially in a small org people will recognize you from context clues or from the way you write. I hate these things.

    2. Elenia*

      I do not. At all. Even if they say they will. That doesn’t mean I don’t put when I am dissatisfied with something, but it really depends on how much I want to stake on it.
      Who is running the surveys? Last time it was Gallup for us, so I had a little more trust, since the surveys were going to an outside source.

    3. D3*

      I trust them zero. And I work in a much, much larger company. And they hire a third party to do them. Still don’t trust them to be anonymous.
      Companies simply do not understand that as long as they wield a power dynamic like a blunt instrument, people are not going to speak freely, even with promised anonymity.
      My company LOVES to hold mandatory town hall meetings (you get fired if you don’t come) right before the surveys to point out all the things they do for their employees! See how good we treat you! Now we’re going to survey you to see how good we treat you!
      It’s totally not an attempt to influence the impartial done by a third party employee satisfaction survey. Of course not!

    4. Amber Rose*

      Having now seen the back end of our “anonymous” surveys, they aren’t. Even the setting that supposedly makes them that way doesn’t really hide much.

    5. SpicySpice*

      I work for a giant, giant worldwide corp and our surveys are also anonymous, except you have to sign in with your employee ID to get to the survey site :-D They’re not, not, not anonymous. You’re not paranoid.

      1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

        Zero percent. I won’t say anything on a survey that I wouldn’t say to the CEO’s face.
        I’m in a small company now, so questions like “What department are you in” and “Have you been with the company less than 6 months, between 6 months and a year, between a year and 5 years, or longer than 5 years” will 100000% narrow it down exactly to me.

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

      Depends on the survey — hopefully these are online through a survey site and not pen on paper surveys. If it’s the kind of survey where I select a pre-determined answer ABCD or rank on a scale of 1-5 for each question, then my answers are pretty generic and will blend into everyone else’s and I feel 99.9% sure I’m anonymous. I think that I.T. COULD track down the identity of an individual responder at my org, but I also know our IT team and they couldn’t care any less about doing that sort of sleuthing, so they aren’t going to. But if they are open-ended questions that I write a response to, I’m sure someone might be able to ID me based on my writing or a topic that I’ve brought up before so I’m super careful on those.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I don’t trust it, even in a large organization! I noticed that our last survey was “confidential” which does not mean anonymous, so I didn’t complete it.

    8. allathian*

      My org is fairly large, about 2,000 people, but my department is only about 20 people. I can be honest in ours, but I’m speaking from a place of privilege:
      1) I’m actually pretty happy with my job.
      2) The things I’m unhappy about are not earth-shattering.
      3) My org actually welcomes feedback.
      4) My current manager is a first-time manager and really committed to being a good one, she’s always looking for ways to do better.
      5) My job is as secure as any job ever is. I can’t be laid off unless the org decides to eliminate my position completely and I can’t be fired without cause. Proving cause would in most cases require quite a long process. The only exceptions are serious breaches of professional ethics or felony convictions.
      6) Our surveys are done by an external service provider and not even HR gets access to the raw data, only the results. The survey company intentionally rewrites and summarizes any comments, so that individuals can’t be identified through their writing style. Participating in the survey requires a login, but that’s only to track who’s answered and who hasn’t, so that the survey company can send a reminder to those who don’t respond to the first message. Neither HR nor management are informed about who has and who hasn’t answered the survey. I have no reason to distrust the external company’s promises. They’d be out of business pretty quickly if they didn’t follow procedure as promised.

    9. Malika*

      Is it a multiple choice situation? If you are truly dissatisfied you can err on the slightly lower ratings/statements that show you are mildly critical. This can give them the opportunity to ask follow-up questions without feeling defensive.
      Are they open questions? Approach this as if the answers would be emblazoned with your name and social security number on a Times square billboard. See if you can make it a sport of being creatively honest. This has helped with staff surveys and glassdoor reviews immensely.

      “Strong personalities sometimes dominate a meeting with their confident tone of voice” = D-head supersivor fog-horns his opinions whenever he feels ill-tempered or threatened. Dim it!
      “Fellow EA is underutilized in her current role and we would appreciate her input in our projects.” = EA is scrawling social media while Daisy the intern is being overloaded with work. Help!

      Etc. Above examples sound hokey, but people usually take them at face value and address the underlying concern.

      If you assume your input will always come led back to you, it will spare you sleepless nights and you can still be honest without ruffling feathers.

    10. Malika*

      Always assume it will be directly led back to you. Wording, tracking methods, the simple fact that specific departments need to tackle certain issues, it will always be led back to (roughly) you. Plus, you don’t want to be stressed about eventually being found out. We have enough stress at the moment as is.

      Is it a multiple choice situation? If you are truly dissatisfied you can err on the slightly lower ratings/statements that show you are mildly critical. This can give them the opportunity to ask follow-up questions without feeling defensive.
      Are they open questions? Approach this as if the answers would be emblazoned with your name and social security number on a Times square billboard. See if you can make it a sport of being creatively honest. This has helped with staff surveys and glassdoor reviews immensely.

      “Strong personalities sometimes dominate a meeting with their confident tone of voice” = D-head supersivor fog-horns his opinions whenever he feels ill-tempered or threatened. Dim it!
      “Fellow EA is underutilized in her current role and we would appreciate her input in our projects.” = EA is scrawling social media while Daisy the intern is being overloaded with work. Help!

      Etc. Above examples sound hokey, but people usually take them at face value and address the underlying concern.

      If you assume your input will always come led back to you, it will spare you sleepless nights and you can still be honest without ruffling feathers.

    11. Goatgirl*

      Even if it is anonymous, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who said what. Or who is just disengaged enough to answer honestly. I worked for a very huge company but the managers could narrow it down and put people on the layoff list to make sure their “engagement” ratings remained high. I would answer the survey in a very positive way, no matter what your actual feelings are. Unless you are so fed up that you want out.

  30. Kate H*

    I’m looking for advice on how to handle the “Why are you looking to leave your current position?” question because there are so many reasons and I’m not sure which ones are acceptable to share and which are not.

    1. Handling of COVID – My current workplace only allowed us to work from home very grudgingly and upper management is eager to get things “back to normal” (read: getting us all back into the office even though our state is currently breaking records for case rates) even though we’re all more than capable of performing our jobs at home.
    2. Searching for a remote position – During the last six months of working from home, I’ve taken to it like a duck to water. I love every part of it and the only jobs I’m applying to are fully remote positions.
    3. Toxic workplace – I’ve been wanting to job hunt for a long time, because my workplace is extremely dysfunctional and toxic. The handling of COVID has really brought all that up to the fore-front.
    4. Overwhelmed with current work load – A recent firing (for performance reasons) brought my team of two people to a team of one (that’s me). We have three open positions on my level and our workload isn’t decreased just because I’m the only one doing the work. In fact, it was recently announced that we’ll be taking over multiple accounts from other parts of the business. Effectively, I’m doing the work of about six people and I’m rapidly burning out. My boss keeps making excuses not to hire into the open positions and I don’t know how much longer I can take it.
    5. Seeking new opportunities with room for advancement – I’ve been in this position for three years. My company loves to promote from within, but in terms of actual room for advancement, I can only be promoted if my boss leaves the company. With the current management team, I don’t want his job.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I would probably stick with a combo of 2 and 5, but they’re all valid reasons — it’s just that some might need more finessing than others. I would focus on how the job you’re applying for appeals for those reasons — “I’ve realized there isn’t much room for advancement here, and this position sounds like a great step forward, plus I’ve realized I love working from home and want to focus on a permanently remote position”. (Adjust as needed obviously.)

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This. I’d also work #4 in there somewhere because it’s normal for people to start job hunting when their department is understaffed. But like you said, OP would have to be careful about how she talks about it (be factual and unemotional).

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I wouldn’t mention 1, 3, or 4, even though they are legitimate reasons to leave and are 100% true. They just aren’t things you want to highlight for your potential new employer. That said, you can ask questions about how the hiring company handles Covid and what it does to support employees,.

    3. Not a Real Giraffe*

      I think a lot of this can be rolled into, “In addition to being ready to take the next step forward in my career, the pandemic has highlighted for me that my current organization/role is no longer a good fit for me.”

      But if you want something easier, I’d focus on the remote working thing. I’d say you realized remote working was a really great fit for you and your current role doesn’t allow it, so you’re looking for roles that meet this need while also providing you with room for career growth.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        “In addition to being ready to take the next step forward in my career, the pandemic has highlighted for me that my current organization/role is no longer a good fit for me.”

        I like this. Then pivot to talking about what you find appealing about the job you’re interviewing for.

        I also like the remote work angle.

    4. Nynaeve*

      I agree with the consensus. However, you can also ask them questions to screen for toxicity, heavy workload/understaffing, and poor handling of COVID. They can read between the lines and know that those might be contributing factors to why you’re looking… but you haven’t SAID anything or brought up any drama.

  31. burnoutisreal*

    Today marks seven months of WFH for me; in a normal year I’d probably have taken 3-4 mental health days during that time, but I’m finding that it’s harder to give myself that space since I’m just at home either way. Right now I’m extremely burned out (I think election anxiety is contributing) and just want to curl up in bed indefinitely. My ability to handle everything has come in waves and at the moment I’m definitely in a valley. If I had to go into the office it would be way easier to be like “nope I don’t have the energy to shower/get dressed/commute today” but since I just have to roll out of bed and sit at my computer I just keep going.

    Anyone else who’s been working from home during the pandemic – does this ring true for you? Have you taken less time for yourself? Any suggestions on how to get past this?

    1. Person from the Resume*

      Nope. In the beginning since I had planned vacations that got cancelled I went for a 2-3 months with no time off, but then I started taking days. I took Thursday, Friday and Monday to make a 5-day weekend. And I have been taking a Friday here and there. Fridays or Monday are great because you can do your shopping chores on your day off and enjoy the weekend more. IDK about you, but weekends still manage to be busy with unfun chores even though there’s no fun events, parties, or shows I’m going to anymore.

      Just do it. Being able to sleep in without setting the alarm is great. Make plans to go to a park or museum and enjoy the day off. Or make plans to binge watch something or curl up with a good book. It is refreshing; although, given EVERYTHING right now you may need more than one day off to fight the burnout. If you would have normally taken 4 days by now, plan to take them now and possibly around the election day, if you need it.

    2. Brownie*

      YES. I ended up taking a whole week off work earlier this month because I Just Couldn’t anymore after a year with no vacation and only a few 3 day holiday weekends (and triple that in additional Saturday work days). You’re absolutely right that WFH means dragging myself into work far more often than when I was in the office simply because it takes less effort to put on a bathrobe and walk down the hall than going to the office would have, so I’m not hitting my pre-configured “yo, take a mental health day” limit anymore. My therapist actually got on me to start looking at and figuring out if I can take mini-breaks through the day, like taking the dog out to the backyard for some sunshine for 10 minutes or taking an hour at lunch so I can take a nap then. Plus she’s got me re-evaluating my limits so I can recognize when I need to take a mental health morning, which I feel far less guilty about taking than a whole day when work is 10 ft away instead of many miles away.

    3. Mockingjay*

      I could absolutely use a break, but can’t. I have family members with various health issues (not COVID-related) and I have to keep taking days off for their medical appointments and such. Normally I can roll with it – the health issues have been cropping up for years. But my project is woefully behind and the project lead is clueless (he’s terrible at his job – smart engineer but really sucks at project management). I support a government agency which is loathe to make changes or insist upon results, so I’m stuck for now. We have endless meetings in which we debate the meaning of things instead of reporting status and deciding next steps. It’s mentally exhausting on top of the home stuff. I have to track what I’m working on and the list has been rather blank the last few weeks.

      I want to take a week off, even as a staycation, but we’re waiting to hear the date of hubby’s next outpatient procedure, after which I will probably fly across the country (assuming I don’t risk COVID infection) to assist the elderly in-laws (mama-in-law fell AGAIN).

    4. Anax*

      Yeah, that absolutely rings true for me. Eight months here – I got something covid-like in February, which lasted through April and ate all my sick leave without the diagnosis which would let me mark it as “special covid leave”. So I can’t take mental health days without cutting into vacation, which I also don’t have a lot of; I took a week this summer, but it’s only helped so much.

      It’s hard not to be “on” all the time; there’s a million things to do around the house, a million things to do at work, a million “ought to do’s” with no escape, and I’m not sleeping well and I’m so tired. I keep trying to get stuff done at work, but since it takes creativity and concentration, my work productivity is getting hit really hard right now. I’ve been just staring dead-eyed at my screen all day.

      (To make matters worse, I’m chronically ill so I can’t leave the house at all when it’s hot or smoky – all summer – and have trouble with masks. And my grandfather is probably dying, across the country – death #3 since lockdown. So like. It’s been a month.)

      No great advice, but commiseration.

    5. WellRed*

      Why would I take less time? I have it, it’s mean to be used and I encourage coworkers to do the same. Sometimes just putting away the work detritus and watching Law and Order all day and ordering pizza delivery for lunch is a recharge.

    6. Twisted Lion*

      Same. Just put in for a week off at the end of the month. Id only taken two days off this year and that was for medical stuff. Take some time off. You have it. Use it. Even if you will be at home.

    7. Malarkey01*

      YES this was me and I took a week a few months ago and it made a ton of difference. It took 2 days of me laying in bed and binging Netflix just to get relaxed and then I used the rest of the time to read, try some fun recipes, take a few walks, and sleep in. NormallY I travel a lot and would never use leave to sit around the house so the concept of just relaxing at home didn’t sound appealing. After doing it though, I forgot how vacation is also time not thinking about work and how much 7 straight months pretty quarantined had worn on me.

    8. Skeeder Jones*

      Generally, I think working from home has made it easier to work on days where I don’t feel 100%. Even when I think I am going to “call out”, by the time I get to my desk to email/message my boss, I’m like, well, I’m here, might as well see if I can get some stuff done. I actually appreciate this as it frees up my PTO for real days off and vacations. Since you say you wake up and then decide to work, it is probably helpful for you to take some days off in advance if you can. My company is really flexible about taking time off so I’m able to do that fairly regular. On those days, I try to get out of the house, I would visit my mom, got to a park with a journal and adult coloring book, go kayaking, I rented a SeaDoo one day and a duffy boat another . Granted I am fortunate to be in a location with outdoor activities where I can still maintain social distance. It’s been really helpful for my mental health and stress level. Hopefully you can find some ways to take tme for yourself.

  32. clarice*

    I’d put off starting a professional Masters programme until this year (I work 30 hours a week and the programme can either be full-time or part-time to fit around working hours)….but….I really don’t do well with remote/virtual learning. I know myself well enough to know this! There’s only one facility that offers this particular Masters and they’re being pretty vague around plans for how it’s going to be delivered, eg. they say remote for ‘most’ of semester one but who knows from there. I appreciate there’s a lot of uncertainty around COVID-19.

    So are there any AAM-ers who have started college classes this semester and if so how are you handling ‘zoom school’ and what’s it actually like? The facility are also being vague about how the online sessions will run, so I feel like I’m making the decision a little in the dark. I get the impression they think I’m overthinking it – but then I’m someone who hates online/virtual learning!

    1. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      Not quite the same, but I did an entirely online Masters program a couple years ago – it was still synchronous, so there WAS a scheduled class time, and we all logged on and had webcams/mics and whatnot.

      I thought I wouldn’t like it, being used to completely asynchronous classes where I could listen to taped lectures at 10pm if I wanted, but after a week or two it really grew on me. (In theory I could have registered for in-person classes instead, except I’m in an entirely different state than the university I attended!)

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve had 3 classes asynchronous and 1 class synchronous, and so far I like the live class better. It’s much more like attending “real” class– you can ask questions live, you’re forced to listen to the lecture right then and there instead of saying oh, later, I”ll do it later. However our lecture slot is 2.5 hours! Which is a lot!!

      Make sure your manager is aware and supportive. My class starts at 4:30 pm, and 4:15 onwards is marked as “do not disturb” on my calendar. You never want work to interrupt your school.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        However our lecture slot is 2.5 hours! Which is a lot!!

        Mine is three hours and because of time zone differences (I’m EST and the school is PST), I’m online for classes from 9pm-midnight. I like the live class, but really appreciate not having to go into a classroom. I just wish we could shave an hour off the time, lol. It’s hard to stay engaged that long when I’m thinking about getting ready for bed.

    3. Law Student*

      This may not be helpful, but I am a full time law student and we have been online since March and will be through May 2021 (when I graduate) and it absolutely sucks. It’s harder to learn, the professors are doing their best but it’s just not effective. Law school is particularly poorly suited to online learning because it is so discussion-based, so perhaps your program may be different.

      Logistically, there’s a video link for each class, but professors are varying degrees of successful at running them/managing technical difficulties/making themselves understood online. My administration has been similarly non-committal and unhelpful, leading to problems like inability to access the library and difficulty running student groups (some of which are required).

      If you can defer without it setting back your career, I would. It’s just an all-around unpleasant experience.

      1. clarice*

        The programme is law-adjacent (corporate governance). I asked if I could enrol and try one module and if it’s not working for me withdraw/defer and they said…no. Great.

        1. Law Student*

          I’m guessing by your use of “programme” that you’re not in the US? In the US, many, many schools are not allowing people to defer due to COVID because they need the tuition to keep operating. So sorry that that’s not an option for you. I know if I had asked to defer and my only reason was the fact that the modality changed to online, I would also be told no.

    4. MissCoco*

      I started professional school (healthcare field) this year.
      I’m handling zoom school fine (and I previously *hated* partially online and online classes).
      Some things that have made this different for me are:

      1. Zoom/Teams/Echo360 are way better tools than the pre-taped lectures I’ve been given in the past. I can speed up or pause as needed, and for some courses I can ask real-time questions. Also no more weird required “discussion” assignments on blackboard forums.

      2. Professor engagement – this will obviously vary from program to program, but I actually see these professors in person once a week or so, and this is the same courseload they’ve always had. For previous online courses I didn’t get questions answered promptly, it felt like a big deal to set up a one-on-one meeting, or we had to interact exclusively through email.

      3. I thought I knew myself well, but it turns out I’ve changed in several ways that have made online classes work better for me than in the past. You are the expert on you, and to be clear, I trust your knowledge that remote/virtual learning for you, but my experience is that I turned out to (luckily!) be wrong about that for myself.

      4. A program that put a lot of effort into and emphasis on building social supports for students. Having actual people I can meet in person to discuss questions, building required virtual study groups, and hiring a full-time psychologist for us to use are all helping me make this work.

      My program is doing:
      Mostly asynchronous lectures
      Synchronous lectures for 3 of our 1 credit classes and for 1 hour per week of one of our 4 credit courses
      “Recitations” which are optional in person sessions. This ends up being almost 1 day a week of in-person time.
      One in-person lab course to hone and test our practical skills that will be required for the patient care we’ll start next semester.

      Our school handled the transition . . . Not great from my perspective, but in retrospect and more information, they were avoiding telling us things because administration kept moving the goal posts. They should have been upfront with students that they weren’t going to share plans until admin had made X, Y, Z decisions, but didn’t decide to go that route.

      Can you get in touch with any current students or former students who are either currently primarily online or went online last spring?
      My class has found the 2nd years are infinitely more aware of how this really works than our professors or administration, because they went through the transition *as students*.

      1. clarice*

        I would love love love if they were forthcoming about any of the arrangements but they are so incredibly vague about the whole thing (as if public health measures at this stage in the game are a total surprise!). The programme doesn’t actually start until December so being able to contact existing students is unlikely, particularly with the overall veil of unhelpfulness. The good thing about if it were remote for the full year is I could probably take the programme full-time (campus is a 3 hour drive away with overnights), but if it’s going to be mix and match it’d be a disaster for me to commit to that level of time away from home/work when I also have a job.

        It’s a really expensive programme and I want to give it my best shot but there’s no option to ‘try it and see’ before committing.

  33. For goodness sake, wash your hands!*

    Does anyone have any ideas for a thank you gift for my staff? We all just hit October 15 (we’re accountants) and I have an amazing staff, mom of two working from home, and I’d love to acknowledge her efforts with a gift- I can afford $30-50

  34. Kent Clark*

    [Caveat: I really hope I did not come across as a colossal jerk here. If I did it was not my intention and I apologize]

    One of my colleagues ‘Jane’ is rude and blunt to the point of being hurtful. For example:

    Another colleague lost a family member in an accident. He had said he imagines it was instant and they never saw it coming. Jane told him it was unlikely and went into detail about how drawn out and painful it would have been. He was in tears and she kept until he left the video meeting and myself and another colleague who were also present told her to stop. Days later in a different meeting he broached it again because she said he was incorrect and needed to know the facts. The others in the meeting (different people) told her to stop. We all shut it down if he’s there but when he isn’t there Jane always mentions how he is wrong and she needs to correct him

    Another (pregnant) husband is having an affair. He had it with the daughter of a minor public figure in our area so it was in the local gossip and news. Jane told her that her wrinkles and pregnancy weight are ugly and unattractive so her husband stepping out with a younger woman makes sense and colleague should call off the divorce and not be upset because she is being illogical

    These are just two examples of many. When Jane was hired our boss disclosed (with Jane’s permission) that Jane is on the spectrum and Jane herself has mentioned it too. Our team doesn’t interact with clients at all and only one person on the team (not Jane), interacts with our manager regularly or people outside of our team at all. So no one else gets the brunt of Jane’s rudeness. If anyone brings up Jane’s rudeness to our boss she brushes it off and says we need to be understanding of Jane and since her work is fine and always done properly it is not an issue. But the person who was hurt can’t just make the hurt go away because Jane is on the spectrum. How can I/we address this with my boss and make her realize we can’t just brush it off when she hurts us?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Broadly speaking, people who are on the spectrum benefit from clear communication. So someone needs to tell her, directly, calmly and plainly that her bluntness is rude and hurtful. Being autistic or on the autism spectrum is not a license to be hurtful. I don’t even know that you need to go through your boss — you can just say “Jane, you are being rude and hurtful. Please stop commenting on these things.”

      1. Kent Clark*

        We have all told her to stop every time she does it to us and others if we witness it but she doesn’t stop. She talks about emotion getting in the way off facts and states she doesn’t understand why we don’t see facts or the truth. We want our boss to do something because us telling her to stop doesn’t do anything.

        1. TexasRose*

          Jane is playing a variation of a game* called “tease the straights.” She likes being “more rational” and will continue to punish anyone she can because she (feels she) is superior.

          Consider, from LW, “Jane always mentions how he is wrong and she needs to correct him”

          It is not Jane’s job to correct him; it is Jane’s job to perform her work duties WITHOUT DEMORALIZING HER COWORKERS. Currently, your supervisor thinks this level of rudeness is acceptable.

          Each and every time Jane starts with her truth bombs,
          1. Point out: “Sharing your opinion about coworkers’ lives is not your job, and it’s rude. Please stop.”
          2. EVERY witness to the “truth bombs” needs to complain to the supervisor, EVERY time. Doing so in a group will will make the problem much more apparent.

          I’m also a blunt person, and I would also do the following were I still working in an office with an arse like this. Next time I’m in a meeting with Jane, I would ask to tape the meeting, and explain that I want to be sure that supervisor understands the type of interactions currently ongoing on the team. This will have one of three outcomes:
          a. Jane demurs (and I’d ask why).
          b. Jane agrees, but behaves nicely. (Problem solved.)
          c. Jane agrees, but is again an arse. (Now I can share how off-putting her behavior is with supervisor or HR.)

          Allowing other employees to be harassed is NOT an acceptable accommodation for any disability.

          *I’ve most often seen this from new practitioners of either Radical Honesty or some of the odder forms of kink, where these folks simply cannot abide the complacency of the “unenlightened.” Actually, they’re just being asshats with their new “understanding” of the Way the World Works.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Even if she honestly thinks she’s being helpful (see below comment about traumatizing classmates with mousetrap knowledge), telling her that she’s being rude and unhelpful is the best thing to do because then she’ll probably stop.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            “Jane, you want pure honesty? You are being cruel and you must stop right now.”

            I spent years working with people with all sorts of disabilities. We would simply say, “That is not an appropriate thing to say in the workplace.”

            In my world if I allowed this to go on, I could be considered abusive/neglectful. Because this type of behavior is not going to fly in an integrated workplace. If I did not tell the person to stop, I was setting them up for failure and in turn I failed THEM.

            The part about it being honest is irrelevant. It’s cruel, period. That stands alone. I’d go with, “You have said this before. It was cruel. It still is cruel. And you must stop saying it now.” Use the same reply for the words, “facts” or “truth”. Just because it’s facts is irrelevant. It’s cruel, period. Just because it’s the truth is irrelevant. It’s cruel period.

            Your boss is setting Jane up to fail by not telling her to stop it. Worse yet, your boss is setting up your department to fail because I cannot see people remaining in this place and putting themselves through this crap.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          It’s time to loop in HR. Jane doesn’t get a pass for being an ass just because she’s on the spectrum.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        I remember doing something akin to the first one in… middle school, maybe? About mouse traps. I got punched in the nose for it, so telling Jane that she’s being rude and hurtful is frankly a favor to her.

    2. Paperwhite*

      Oh man. Off the top of my head I’m going to recommend Captain Awkward, whom I know has advice on dealing with the difference between being on the spectrum and being a jerk. I wish all of you luck and your hurt coworkers healing.

    3. Choggy*

      That gets a HELL NO from me. Everyone is expected to just sit there while Jane literally strikes out a others? What in the world does she say when she’s told to stop? Is your boss never present when this occurs, or do they just sit back and enjoy the sh*t show?

      There is more to being an employee than getting your work done properly, you should be a good coworker too.

      I think the less said to Jane about anything personal, the better, and there should be a written and understood rule (especially by Jane) not to discuss personal topics in work meetings.

      1. Kent Clark*

        It never happens when our boss is present, by nature of the job/industry she is hands off and only has interaction with one person on the team about work stuff. Unless there is a problem. But our boss doesn’t think this is a problem. Telling Jane to stop doesn’t accomplish anything. She keeps on making hurtful remarks.

        1. pancakes*

          Have you communicated the extent of her rudeness to your boss in the same detail you’ve included in your post here? Jane telling coworkers they’re unattractive, driving them to tears about the death of a relative, etc., is beyond rude, it’s abusive.

        2. ....*

          Is there an option to get up and walk away when she continues this? Or if virtual, leave the meeting? “Jane you are being inappropriate. We have asked you to stop once. We will be disconnecting the meeting if you continue on this subject. Now, onto project XYZ.” And if she does it again you end the meeting? I’m surprised colleagues aren’t fleeing if someone told me I was fat and wrinkly and that’s why my husband cheated on me I’d be job searching hard lol. I sometimes think “the truth” about my co workers too but it’s a THOUGHT not a voiced opinion.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            If this is all happening during virtual meetings, honestly, the meeting organizer should mute her. This would stop a lot of her nonsense.

        3. WellRed*

          Have you tried muting her? Cutting her off right as she starts in? Ending the call for everyone right at that point and making it clear why?

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      An excerpt from a popular post: If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. (Google “get off my foot” to find the whole thing in a dozen places.)

      Mental health issues, spectrum status, and other various conditions are not the same as being an asshole. Jane is apparently an asshole on the spectrum. This might be time for your team to get comfortable saying “Jane, that’s really rude and we need you to stop talking now.”

      Alternately, go over your boss’ head – “Jane is being incredibly harmful to team members in situations such as (example1 and example2). We’ve talked to Lucinda about it, and she seems to be under the impression that Jane can’t control this terrible behavior due to being on the spectrum. However, this behavior is incredibly hurtful and divisive to the team members and people are becoming increasingly uncomfortable working with Jane. What kind of solution can we work toward that doesn’t involve just letting Jane continue to be harmful and nasty to her teammates?”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If Jane (supposedly) cannot control it because of being on the spectrum then the next step is that Jane cannot be employed. I don’t think that the boss is realizing this. This is totally unacceptable behavior in most workplaces. If Jane cannot stop it then she is ineligible for employment in most places.

        I don’t think reasonable accommodation includes allowing one person to verbally abuse other people because they “can’t help it”.

    5. Former Retail Manager*

      Now that I have picked up my jaw…..

      I concur with the other commenters that she needs to be told bluntly that her comments are hurtful, unnecessary, and disrespectful and she needs to stop immediately. As for your boss, I think that it might be helpful for all who have been hurt by Jane’s comments to “band together” and tell your boss that, if it happens again, they want her to address it immediately and in a meaningful way, and if she doesn’t, they will escalate it to Grandboss or HR, or whomever might be appropriate at the company. I hesitate to use the term “hostile work environment” because I’m unfamiliar with the criteria required for that determination, but I would be pretty peeved to be expected to be the target of Jane’s comments at any given time, without warning, and without recourse. I think it’s only fair to give your boss one last chance to address it, but it needs to be made clear that it needs to stop or you will all continue on until someone addresses it and stops the behavior.

      While not constructive, I’d personally be really tempted to give Jane a taste of her own medicine. I know that wouldn’t help your case and is not adult or professional, but Jane is an a-hole, perhaps an autistic one, but one nonetheless. Being autistic doesn’t give you carte blanche to say and do whatever you want.

    6. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      Have you tried responding with complete bluntness? Not in the sense of “Jane, stop”, which implies you want her to stop in the moment, but more along the lines of “Jane, your opinions on this matter are no longer welcome. If you bring them up again, we’ll consider you to be harassing (Coworker).”

      Also, it sounds like you’re all work from home – it may be worth proposing that whoever is the host of your video-conferencing simply mute Jane whenever she starts to go off on one of these tangents. When she is unmuted, simply have them say “Jane, please stay on (work topic). If you can’t, I’ll have to mute you again.”

      Also, when bringing it up to your boss, phrase it as a concern about Jane’s harassment and bullying of those coworkers. Saying you want her to be more polite can be shrugged off with “well, she can’t help herself.” Phrasing it as harassment and bullying (because seriously, that’s what “of course your husband cheated on you” statements are) makes it clear to your boss that this is more than a politeness issue.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Also, isn’t “she can’t help herself” ableist? From what I’ve read on this site, many people on the spectrum put a lot of effort into not hurting people’s feelings or making them sad. Jane doesn’t seem to care.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          It absolutely is, and you’re correct – most people on the spectrum that I’ve met are hyper-aware of not coming off like a jerk. Jane is a jerk and relishes in it.

    7. TiffIf*

      Is it possible, on a call where this happens and Jane doesn’t respond to direct instructions to cease, for the host to mute her without her being able to unmute herself? “Jane, we’ve asked you to stop and you have not so we’re going to mute you until we need to hear from you.”

    8. DashDash*

      I can weigh in as an autistic person — we may have to learn how to interpret social cues, but we learn pretty darn early that “someone’s starting to cry” is a cue to stop talking. Often, you’ll see autistic people who over-correct when someone points out something behavioral, because we genuinely *want* to interact well, just need to learn.
      From my experience, regarding Jane’s autism, I’ll just say, correlation =/= causation (the behavior version). “If you bring your coworker to tears, stop talking” is not an unacceptable ask in the workplace.

      1. starsaphire*

        I’m 100% with you on this one.

        I had a partner who was on the spectrum. He bent over backwards to try and work on this sort of thing. Regularly asked his close friends for assistance in interpreting situations he didn’t understand, or for validation on actions he took/things he said. Would immediately back down and apologize if someone said, “Hey, Bob, that’s not cool.”

        Autistic =/= being a dickwad. I think Jane has other issues that need addressing, independent of being on the spectrum.

    9. Choggy*

      I had another thought about this, when you know Jane will be in a meeting, how about recording it so you can capture exactly what happens? I don’t think it’s being fully comprehended by boss (with head in sand) how Jane is coming across and the level of outright inappropriate behavior she is exhibiting.

      Jane is being outright cruel. This should not be tolerated. Escalate as necessary.

    10. PollyQ*

      I think there’s a terminology problem. Jane isn’t being “rude”, she’s being actively cruel, so when you bring it up, either with her or with other, I strongly suggest you describe it that way. Perhaps Jane truly can’t tell what’s an innocuous observation and what’s deeply hurtful, but she should absolutely be expected to understand that when someone says “That’s hurtful, please stop” that she needs to STOP. Your boss is also terribly wrong to allow this behavior. Perhaps if a group of you going in to discuss it with her, it’ll show her what a serious problem it is.

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

      I think you should stop using soft words like “hurtful” and “feelings” or “rude” and escalate this with words that tend to get manager’s and HR’s ears to perk up — “harassment” and “bullying” because that’s what Jane is doing. She’s been told to stop — she’s cognitively functional enough to understand what stop means, she doesn’t have to understand why and she doesn’t have to judge whether the reasons are logical enough for her, she just has to comply, full stop. Instead of others leaving the video meeting, she should be the one muted or kicked off each time she fails to follow instructions.

      1. Malarkey01*

        This +1. If I heard someone was rude and hurtful of feelings it’s possible to push it off as directness or even inappropriate bluntness but that’s very different than being cruel about non work items. I have someone on my team who has said in meetings “your idea is not valid and a waste of time to pursue”- that’s rudely phrased and hurt feelings but is work related and we work on better ways to share thoughts. Someone going off about dead relatives and adultry would get a hard no from me. That’s not work appropriate and no one deserves to hear comments about their private lives at work, especially cruel ones.

        If this were me I’d get a group together to talk to management and HR and I’d also get agreement that we’d interrupt Jane every time with a “STOP IT NOW. That’s rude and unacceptable at work”. If she keeps going she’s being disruptive and no one speaks to her (and I would never usually advocate for the silent treatment but literally sometimes you just have to shut off the oxygen).

    12. RagingADHD*

      “No, Jane, you don’t need to correct him/her. You want to say these things. You know this is hurtful and you’re doing it anyway. You are being deliberately hurtful.

      I don’t know what emotional need is interfering with your judgment right now, but you are refusing to see the fact that your behavior is destructive and morally wrong. Stop it.”

      Is there any way you can just mute her or kick her off the calls, instead of allowing her to drive others away?

    13. Ellyfant*

      Nope.

      If Jane had an illness that caused her to projectile vomit multiple times a day, would it be acceptable to let her puke all over other people because it’s involuntary and her work is otherwise great? People like Jane cause a *lot* of emotional damage and long lasting stress; even if they’re not the direct recipients of her hurtful comments. It’s never okay to tell people to tolerate verbal abuse.

      I’m sorry your boss is so clueless about the extent of damage she is inflicting on your team. Could you come to a collective agreement to shun out Jane’s nasty comments whenever they occur? Turn your backs on Jane or walk away. Ideally she would not be permitted to speak like this at all but when your management is not responding appropriately, you’re not under obligation to continue listening to it.

    14. allathian*

      Who’s running your meetings? Could you, as a group, ask that person to mute Jane whenever she starts on one of her rants?
      How specific have you been with your boss about what Jane’s been saying?
      Jane’s autism doesn’t give her the right to be a jerk. Your boss is doing her no favors, and she’s also not doing any favors for other people with ASD in the workplace, either. I bet most of you will be wary of ever working with another ASD person again, at least until they prove themselves different from Jane.
      Jane’s not being hurtful and rude, she’s being abusive and your team’s productivity is probably suffering as a consequence. Talk to your boss in those terms and maybe she’ll listen. If not, maybe you can escalate to her boss or HR…

  35. Anonowlmous*

    Has anyone had any success transitioning from the public to the private sector? I’m very much considering it after more than a decade (aka, all my adult life), and I don’t even know where to begin looking.

      1. Anonowlmous*

        I’m an analyst in a field that has taken a heck of a public beating lately. I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with what we do.

    1. Red Tape Producer*

      I’m actively looking into it and a couple of my work friends have done the same recently, our government is pushing forward with “fiscal restraint” despite the pandemic related downturn and decided the best place to start cutting was public sector workers (literally everyone, from part-time hospital cleaning staff to policy wonks like me).

      It really depends on what exactly you do in your current role, but I’ve been looking at advisory roles. Lots of non-profits, professional associations, lobby group, and large multi-national organizations (like KPMG or E&Y) hire former public sector workers to be advisors or analysts. A few people I know have been successful in transferring over, but it’s a tough job market at the moment so those roles are few and far between. Being mindful of your conflict of interest rules, it may not be a bad idea to check out if any of the stakeholders you work with are hiring.

      1. Anonowlmous*

        There’s a lot of moving out here, too. Whether it’s early retirements or just dissatisfaction with the environment, there’s been a decent amount of brain drain. I hadn’t thought to look at advisory roles; I think because I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing well enough to advise anyone else to do it. (Imposter syndrome, me? Never! I’m not good enough to pretend to be anyone.) I’m not dead-set on the move, but I have gradually become more and more tempted by it.

    2. Former Retail Manager*

      I am a current Fed with no plans to leave. Without knowing your industry, it’s hard to say where to start. But, if you have been in Govt your whole adult life, I would estimate you are in your early to mid-30’s. So…some things to consider when leaving.
      1. It’s hard to come back (at least to my position at my agency, so be sure you want to go)
      2. Less job security (as a Fed at least – Can’t speak for other public sector positions)
      3. No pension in most private sector companies
      4. Sometimes less work flexibility (telework, accrued time off, paid parental leave, etc.)
      5. If you currently work a 40 hour week, that likely won’t be the case in the private sector for certain industries (accounting, law, consulting, etc.)
      6. No union (may be neutral factor for you)

      All that considered, if you are looking to make more money, experience a wider range of clients or projects and just generally not feel constrained by the red tape that is so prevalent in the public sector, then the private sector can be the ticket. Another commenter mentioned a couple of the Big 4 accounting firms that do much more than accounting and actively recruit from the public sector. If you are looking for a smaller firm, look to the private sector counterpart to whatever it is you do. Are there any firms that you currently work with in your public sector position that you would be interested in working for (assuming that is allowed depending on your current position)?

      1. Anonowlmous*

        Thank you for the considerations, Former Retail Manager. We don’t deal with clients, per se, so that’s less easy, but I have begun to feel like it’s just not the right field (and there aren’t clear private sector counterparts that aren’t fairly distasteful). I’ve got 20+ more years if I don’t make a change, which is a long time to do something I’m not super on-board with.

  36. Freelance Artist*

    A few years ago, I tried full-time freelancing in an arts field and ultimately the experience was not a good fit for me. So when two years ago I was given the opportunity to work part-time at a completely unrelated office job I tried it and found I liked this situation a lot better, because both of my jobs had their own positives that balanced out the other’s negatives. I can not imagine going back to doing full-time art freelancing in the foreseeable future, so when I was laid off recently I started looking for another similar part-time office job.

    I was talking to a friend that is also an artist freelancer with an office “day job” about my job hunt, and she cautioned me that many potential employers would view me being an art freelancer as a big red flag for “this person will quit to freelance” and I should find ways to downplay it. One thing she specifically suggested was putting “Owner and Operator of Fancy Pants Art Studio” (Fancy Pants Art Studio being the name I brand my art freelancing under) on my resume instead of “Freelance Artist”.

    So, for anyone with experience, should I be downplaying my work as a freelance artist to get hired for another part-time office job? And what are effective ways to present it in my resume and cover letter that will appear less of a red flag to potential employers, like is my friend on the right track that I should avoid calling myself a “freelancer”? How can I communicate “I am not planning to quit to full-time freelance any time soon” to potential employers?

    1. Combinatorialist*

      I think the “Owner and Operator of …” sounds a bit like what people recommend for MLM on a resume, which is not what you want to be associated with. I would just use “Freelance Artist” and then in your cover letter, explicitly call out (in passing) that you aren’t looking to freelance full time. Something like

      “After trying full-time freelancing and finding it not to be a good fit, I excelled at PLACE as a ROLE because of XYZ strengths that relate to the new posting.”

      1. Freelance Artist*

        Thank you for the heads up about the MLM thing–that’s not something I was aware of and definitely not something I want to potentially be associated with. I already get a lot of incredulous “how can you make money doing THAT?!? That’s a REAL JOB?!?” reactions when I describe what kind of artist I am to people, I don’t want to add any more reasons to doubt what I do is a “real job” with inappropriate wording.

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you’re looking for a PT office job, after recently having had a PT office job, it should make total sense.

      I’d suggest simply listing that you have had or currently have the job of being an artist. The expectation for any employer is that if they hire someone, that person will likely be signing on to work for them with the same commitment as they’d expect from anyone else in their industry.

      I am not a fan of resumes saying “owner” of anything. It’s about what you did, not what you owned. And positioning yourself as a business owner and operator may be out of scale with the work you are looking for.

    3. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t have experience with being in the arts, but as a layperson I would think someone with a title of “owner and operator” would be far more invested, and therefore more likely to quit, than just “freelancer” .

      Of course if you’re concerned, you might just want to remove it altogether

      1. Freelance Artist*

        Thank you for your thoughts as a layperson, they’re really useful to help me understand how things look outside of my art context.

        I’ve thought seriously about removing it as I do worry it’s a liability, but I think the 5-year employment gap it leaves behind would make me look even worse. My adult job history is basically one temp summer job in a office early in college, part-time freelance art for the rest of college, full-time freelance art for about two years after graduation, then part-time freelance/the part-time office job I was laid off from.

  37. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

    Thank you everyone who offered suggestions for staying warm in my cold office- I brought an electric blanket this week and was gloriously toasty.

    They came by Tuesday and fixed it, but not before trying to claim that the real issue was that we complained too much, constantly switching between too hot and too cold. My boss shut that down pretty quick by pointing out that we’d just come back after working from home since March so there was no way they’d been receiving any temperature complaints from our office.

  38. Bigglesworth*

    Cover Letter Question –

    Background: Outside of Covid, my work plans have been up in the air all year. During my last year in law school, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Due to my dad’s illness, my husband and I decided to move out of state to help with caretaking as we had a range of 2-5 years he would be alive. We started to solidify plans in that state, I signed up for the bar exam there, and then my dad passed away in five months.

    Question: Should I mention any of this in a cover letter? We’re now going back to our original plan and staying in the area where I went to law school but I’m regularly asked in interviews why I took the out of state bar and the answer makes everyone feel awkward. I want to preemptively show people that I’m not a slacker for not having a job yet and that I have a reason for taking the out of state bar. That said, a lot of the advice I’ve seen online and received from my career services person is that I should not share any of this in my cover letter as it’s too personal.

    1. Bigglesworth*

      Quick follow-up: One of my concerns is that I now have a gap on my resume. I graduated in May and still don’t have a job in October. The bar exam was last week and most places aren’t hiring new attorneys without a bar license which makes the gap longer. Trying to figure out how to show I have a reason for the gap is not fun.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        I wouldn’t share any of this. If people ask about the out-of-state bar exam, I’d say I had planned to move to that state but plans changed due to a family situation and now I’m glad to be staying in X state. Be vague, be upbeat.

        I don’t think the gap sounds that big. You just graduated, you had to wait for your bar exam results. It is easily explainable. LOTS of grads in any field have months-long initial gaps between graduation and their first job.

        Focus your cover letter on showing how you will excel in a role, not drawing attention to what you think are drawbacks to your candidacy.

        1. Bigglesworth*

          Ok. Good to know. I think I was trying to avoid making other people feel awkward cause you can just see on their faces how awful they feel when they hear a candidate’s dad passed away. I can definitely keep it more vague, though.

          1. Another JD*

            There’s no need to mention your father passing away because it isn’t relevant to the ultimate outcome – that you’re now in State A and not State B. Limiting it to your family situation changed is enough of an explanation and skips the awkward.

    2. D3*

      I wouldn’t put it in a cover letter, but if asked in an interview, just tell them exactly what you said here. That you’d planned to move to State B to be near family, and were working that plan, when the family member you’d wanted to be near passed away. So now you’ve chosen to stay here in State A, where you came for law school and fell in love with the place.
      In the cover letter, focus on your skills and how they match to the job.

      1. Bigglesworth*

        Okie doke. I can do that. I only just started thinking about switching my cover letter away from being solely about my skills to include this information so that I wouldn’t blindside my interviewers. It’s such an unusual situation in an already unusual year.

    3. LadyByTheLake*

      As an attorney, it is common and understood that folks don’t work the summer after graduating. That summer is for bar study, taking the bar, and taking some last time off before starting work when the bar results come in. And that’s in a normal year. This year everyone understands that everything is different. As for explaining taking the exam in another state, Not a Real Giraffe is right — just say “For family reasons, I had planned to move to that state for a few years, but that changed and I am happy I can stay here.” Matter of fact. No one is going to give it a second thought.

  39. Ann O'Nemity*

    I am so in need of a real vacation. Total disconnect from work, go someplace amazing, enjoy new experiences. I fantasize about going to Hawaii or Europe or just about anywhere but here. This is the year I am most in need of a grand vacation, but unfortunately it’s also the year that it is completely impossible – unsafe to travel, trying to save PTO, trying to save money.

    Has anyone found a good way to scratch that vacation itch?

    1. blepkitty*

      I like to go to Google maps, zoom in on a faraway place, and look at the pictures people have shared there and stroll around in street view. :)

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      I hear you. I’m still a bit in mourning for the cool trip my husband and I had been planning for the summer.

      In the end we decided on an in-state location that we’ve never been to. Driving, not flying, and because it’s in state, we know there won’t be issues with having to quarantine upon return. I’m starting to get really excited about it — there won’t be a ton to do other than hike where we’re going, but a) hiking is fun and b) everyone who’s been there tells me this place is beautiful. It won’t be an “amazing” experience in the same way our big trip to Italy was last year, but it’s going to be a great break from work and the city and the general…SAMENESS of everything.

      So, if you’re comfortable traveling within driving distance, everybody’s road tripping this year! Come join us! (Not literally obviously :))

    3. LDN Layabout*

      I had to move out of my flat for 10 days because our landlord decided that the middle of a pandemic was a great time to do renovations.

      I ended up in an apartment by the sea and even though I was working, just the change of venue really helped reset my brain. If you can safely go somewhere self-catered that isn’t your home, for a week or so? Do it.

    4. Purt’s Peas*

      I recently took a day off midweek to go on a hike. It’s only the one PTO day so hopefully wouldn’t waste too much of the time you’re trying to save, but a midweek day off just feels…good.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Some of our state parks have cabins and vacation houses in addition to camping sites. We’ve started going to those, for a long weekend once a month and that has done a lot on scratching the itch. Bonus for taking back roads and out of the way routes to get there and back. (For my own self, I’ve thrown in a randomizer – I’ll select the park at random and plan the trip around that. It circumvents the “which one to choose” paralysis and jumps straight to the “oooh, let’s plan THIS” juju.)

    6. oxfordlass*

      I have really enjoyed the point of view walking tours of European cities. There are dozens of options on YouTube, loved seeing places I have been and places I wanted to go. I tend to put them on in the background while doing other tasks. Boat tours of Venice at sunset…..

    7. TiffIf*

      In August my roommate and I drove to two national parks and spent a week exploring. It was just what we needed to unwind–and we were careful to wear masks when we could not stay distant from crowds.

      Monetary constraints might make that less workable but maybe plan a vacation staying at home but visiting any state or national parks in your area? I live within 20 miles of a mountain scenic route known for its spectacular views especially in fall colors, a national forest and national monument that are also well known for some spectacular and unique features and a number of state parks.

      I don’t know what is in your area but even if you don’t have the bounteous public lands I do, there ought to be some place nearby you have never explored and could be worth a look!

    8. Disco Janet*

      Two ideas! One is to plan a far away vacation. My husband and I planned a trip to Jamaica for next summer back when we had to cancel our 2020 summer trip. Even though it’s far away (and will maybe end up being even later than I’m currently planning!), having something on the books to daydream about helps.

      2. Find somewhere local where you can get away for just a weekend. We rented an airbnb near a beautiful lake and went on hikes, relaxed, etc.

    9. tangerineRose*

      I haven’t done much yet, but I look for places that are close enough to drive through and are outside or drive-thru kind of places. A big garden might be a good place to go to. Zoos are opening up again. Near me, an animal farm reorganized itself to be drive-thru.

    10. starsaphire*

      Just got back from a three-day weekend away with my partner. We found a weekend vacation rental that was doing contactless key pickup, had a kitchenette (so no need to interact with restaurants) and had a really fastidious cleaning setup for Covid.

      We packed two bags of groceries and a deck of cards.

      Just… sitting on the back porch drinking my morning coffee and looking at trees and water was SUCH an incredible refresher. It totally didn’t matter that I still had to get up and make toast and eggs — it was a different toaster and a different kitchen and a different view. Which was all I really wanted.

      TL;DR version: Check out vacation rentals within a driveable area that have contactless key pickup and rigorous Covid cleaning protocols.

  40. Chompers*

    Thanks to everyone who sent my dad good vibes last week! He got offered a job with the USPS yesterday!

  41. Lost in the Library*

    I’m feeling pretty blah and unmotivated today at work. It’s my “last day” in my current position, I replaced someone who was on a leave of absence for the year. They come back on Monday to this position. Due to some weird hiring scheduling on the organization’s end. I’ll be working here for 1 more month on odds and ends, I guess. This is what is irritating me. I was told that they’d have me work on some sort of project, but there’s really nothing for me to do. My supervisor has had his hands full with a DISASTRIOUS hiring situation for a new intern (which, is kind of hilariously disastrous to hear about), but as a result kind of neglected thinking of stuff for me to do… I’m mostly going to spend it working on webinars, I have some reference desk time, and they want me to to a few videos about book talks, but that’s it. I can’t imagine spending a month working on… THAT alone? I already feel bored, which isn’t good!

    I’m also feeling a sense of dread because my job ends in a MONTH and I work in libraries. The positions out there to apply to have been few and far between (ugh, what was I thinking when I got my MLIS?), so I’m just dreading being unemployed and job searching. Gah.

    1. blepkitty*

      I’m with you on the job market. I’ve been hunting because my current job is an awful fit, and people keep asking if my hunt is “on hold” because they haven’t heard anything about interviews or applications. No, there just aren’t jobs! Especially not academic librarian jobs, which are what I really want.

      Now I’m on a PIP and expecting to be out of a job at the end of it, since my boss seems to find a new thing to dislike about my work every time I think I’ve finally done things to her standards. It’s pretty scary.

    2. AnotherLibrarian*

      Are you willing to move? Because if you are willing to move there are library jobs. I know this, because my institution (as well as the other libraries in the area) regularly struggle to fill our positions with qualified folks. We’ve had four openings locally this last 18 months thanks to retirements. No one wants to move to a small rural town. If you are flexible about where you work, there are library jobs (and in these cases darn good paying ones). But yeah, you have to be willing to move somewhere you maybe don’t know or aren’t sure if you would like, that’s the reality of it. Good luck!

  42. Free Meerkats*

    Got my first Boss’s Day card. Thanked the new employee who gave it to me during her 30-day evaluation and told her that “We don’t do that around here, but thanks!” Then I used it to poke at my other reports.

    Happy Friday!

    1. Paperwhite*

      Did you literally run around the office prodding your reports with the card? Probably not but I visualized and now I can’t stop giggling.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        My closest report is about 5 miles away, and she’s the one who gave me the card. The one in the office is 11 miles and the other one is about 16. So, no; but I like the thought, thanks for the laugh!

    2. Elenia*

      I literally sent an email telling my staff I thought it was silly and to not get me any gifts, and that they were already giving me a gift by working hard, being adaptable, and engaged. One STILL brought me a mug, the card says “Not for boss’s day.” I don’t want her to spend money! She’s got little kids! Spend on them!

  43. book question*

    I’m reading a book (The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren) where one of the characters was in a pickle because the only job he can put on his resume is 4 years at a firm that turned out to be corrupt and lost all goodwill with the public. He tried writing his resume without that job listed, but the four year gap was too hard to explain, and listing it was an auto rejection. What options would this character have in real life? What would y’all recommend to him?

    1. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m going to have to read that to find out what his solution was! I was employed for over 20 years by a company that can’t seem to go more than a week worth a new scandal, and I’ve been told directly by both recruiters and hiring managers that the name on my resume is detrimental. I just made sure that my skills and accomplishments got as much focus as possible, wrote the best possible cover letters, and kept at it. I’m currently waiting for a background check to be completed and hope to be able to start my new job soon.

      1. book question*

        Best of luck hotdog not dog! I will say that unfortunately his solution was not ideal, but everything ended up okay for him in the end, and I hope it does for you too.

    2. Malika*

      I worked at a small company a decade ago that was notorious in my field for having a-hole management and everyone who worked there got tainted by it. I segued into a different industry but still preffered that they didn’t see the Google results of my previous employer. It had previously gone under a different company name and they were transitioning into the new name when I started. I kept the old name on my CV, and I never got a question about it. I truthfully provided job description, proper reference and reason for leaving, so felt zero guilt.

  44. GoingAnonHere*

    People who hire those with advanced degrees, can you let me know if you would see someone taking time off from their field to work retail as a red flag?

    I’m about to graduate with an advanced degree in the next few months. The doubling down of gaslighting and put-downs veiled as jokes within my situation over the past year has made me feel the need to be DONE with my field for a while. I haven’t found a job in my desired, non-academia field, but could theoretically work for someone else at my school for a while as I look for work.

    Would it be detrimental in any way to work at a retail shop instead (maybe 3 months max) while I try to find a job in my field? I could weather the pay cut, would enjoy the employee discount, and would pick up some skills that could benefit at any job or in my personal life (I’m a bit shy and could use a thicker skin, both of which I think working in retail would help). I’m just worried that hiring managers might see this as an issue. Any advice?

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I don’t think the retail stint would be detrimental at all, especially because it takes many people a little while to find a job in their field and they have to somehow work while they’re looking. However, the job hunt could take much longer than you think it will, so I’d still start looking in your field relatively soon.

    2. Campfire Raccoon*

      What? No. Think of all the OTHER skills you’ll be acquiring in retail. CSR skills, time management, multitasking, problem-solving, the ability to learn new things on the fly — all great real-life skills that are helpful just about everywhere.

    3. Antilles*

      3 months of a retail stint isn’t going to cause anybody to blink. Honestly, most people probably take longer than that just to find a job; they’ll just shrug it off as you just wanting some money coming in during your job search.
      If we were talking about taking a year-plus gap, then I’d be a lot more worried, since then you (with your January 2021 degree) would be competing with a full class of new Jan 2022 grads. But just three months is going to be a non-issue.
      Would echo Kimmy though – I’d at least start the job hunt pretty soon because hiring timelines themselves can often be a couple months.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I’ve done retail jobs in between “main” jobs plenty of times, and usually it’s an advantage. As others have pointed out, you’re keeping your people skills sharp and being proactive rather than sitting around doing nothing. I explain it to interviewers as, “I wanted to stay busy and keep a hand in the business world, even if it’s not my usual field.”

    5. AnotherLibrarian*

      Nope. I wouldn’t. Now, I would be careful about your network getting stale (as I find the sorts of jobs that require higher degrees tend to be network heavy), but I wouldn’t think it was weird you chose to work retail for a few months. In fact, in the last job I hired for, we needed someone with people skills and we joked that we needed an person who had worked retail/waitressing/whatever, because our pool seemed to be made up entirely by people who seemed to deeply dislike speaking to other humans- a problem at a customer service facing job!

    6. Another JD*

      If it’s just a 3-month stint while job-hunting, I wouldn’t put it on your resume. It doesn’t add to your candidacy.

      1. Hotdog not dog*

        I’ve never put those jobs on my resume, but it frequently comes up in conversation during the interview as an explanation for what I was doing for the 3 month (or however long) gap.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t go into retail because you think the gaslighting and put downs will be less there. I guess the detrimental part is that it could be soul sucking in ways you did not know were possible.

  45. Flower necklace*

    I was talking with one of my coworkers today, and she told me that, according to research, music is actually detrimental to maintaining focus. Is that true? I always listen to music to focus, and I’ve always thought that was fairly normal.

    I’m a teacher. In the classroom, I’ve been fairly lax about students who want to listen to music while doing their work because it helps me. When we go back, should I take a firmer stance against listening to music because it’s actually distracting them?

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      I’d want to see the study this person was citing. At least personally, I find that some music is distracting, and some music helps occupy a part of my brain that would otherwise be like the dog in “Up” going “SQUIRREL!”

      I really enjoy the Spotify playlist Bodega Life (fka Bodega Sounds), for example. The music is lively enough to give that part of my brain something to do, but I don’t know enough Spanish that the words distract me (I do find that listening to English-language pop songs while working tends not to work, because I start paying attention to the lyrics).

      1. tangerineRose*

        For me, it depends on the music. As long as it’s not something I really don’t like, it’s usually mostly OK, but I’ve found instrumental jazz to work well for me – no lyrics to distract me, and it’s got a lot going on, which seems to help me focus.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I’m wary of anything described as “always” or “never” true, because human beings are so much more complex than that. What works for one individual, or many individuals, or even most individuals, will not work for every individual. It also depends on the task and the type of music.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about changing your official stance on this, but address concentration issues individually if you notice a student struggling.

    3. Unfocused or normal?*

      I think this varies by person and the type of music. If I really get into a song, especially if it has lyrics, that can be distracting, but generally I find music less distracting than ambient background noise like coworkers chatting, keyboards clicking, cars driving by outside the building, etc., and I’m sure a classroom has even more ambient noise than a typical cube farm.

      I suppose music might be detrimental to my focus if I was in a perfectly silent room with no other people in it, but that’s not realistic.

    4. Antilles*

      I wouldn’t change a thing until she shows me the exact research and I reviewed it, because in my experience, whenever someone vaguely references “according to research”, it typically turns out what ACTUALLY happened is some combination of:
      1.) Co-worker read exactly *one* article about the topic of music affecting focus, which may or may actually be a representation of the overall thinking about the topic.
      2.) Said article was based on only *one* scientific study, which hasn’t yet been replicated by others or is an outlier that doesn’t match the overall body of research.
      3.) The article summarizing the scientific study got the study *wrong* in some way – over-generalizing the results, ignoring important caveats, drawing conclusions that even the authors themselves didn’t claim (sadly common), or so forth.

    5. Purt’s Peas*

      I’d also want to see the study she’s referring to.

      One thing I’ll note is that there’s a lot of variation between people— but also between contexts.

      Driving is the classic example, or at least the one used in my psych classes. When you’re driving on the highway, you put on music to keep focused; when you’re parallel parking you turn that music down so you can focus. The idea is that for a non-difficult or non-absorbing task, it can help to have an outside stimulus taking up some of your attention, but you don’t want an outside stimulus wasting your resources if you’re trying to do a difficult task.

      So the short answer is, it’s complicated and it depends!

    6. whistle*

      Different people are different, so I wouldn’t put much stock in a study like this no matter what the results said. When it’s crunch for me with technical writing, I blast heavy hitting house music, and it really does the trick for me, but that doesn’t mean I would recommend this approach for everyone. I can also recall times I’ve been listening to music while working, and something about the music just isn’t doing it for me and I have to turn it off to work.

      I would advise against taking an all or nothing approach to this as a teacher. If a specific student appears to be struggling and that student is listening to music while working, you could suggest to that student that they trying working without music to see if that leads to improvement.

    7. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I’m in my office listening to Pandora (with the door shut not to be rude!) so I can focus. The little part of my grey matter that’s processing the music would otherwise be wandering off and “SQUIRREL!”-ing, so I’m much more productive this way.

    8. Disco Janet*

      Fellow teacher here, and I absolutely let students listen to music when working if they find it helpful. This is like saying you should never let students doodle – sure, for some of them it might mean they aren’t paying attention, but there are also students who focus BETTER if they’re doing something like doodling while listening.

      Curious about where they got their info from, because I’ve certainly seen studies that disagree with her. My students, for example, have said it helps them pay attention and stay in the right mood for the novel we’re reading when I play music for them. (For example, right now we’re reading The Kite Runner, so I play soft instrumental Afghan music in the background.)

      1. tangerineRose*

        Thanks for accepting that some students find doodling helpful! Doodling really helped me focus in college.

    9. TexasRose*

      Whether music is distracting or not depends on how your brain is wired, and what you’re used to. My sister has her Masters degree in Operational Research. She has EXTREMELY strong spatial sense; hearing music drives her up a wall, because it “catches” her attention.

      I am very verbal, and I feel the same (unhappy) way about having someone talking in the room when I’m trying to concentrate, while music actually HELPS me concentrate. So, according to my anecdata, it depends.

    10. RagingADHD*

      How are your students doing? Are they focused or distracted?

      Research also says that we retain information better when we take notes longhand, in cursive. Are you going to require that?

      Anybody can find a study that supports just about anything they want, if they cherrypick enough. And laboratory conditions rarely bear any resemblance to real life. Look at the real-world results in your classroom.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      I had a prof who was super weird. But she did have one pearl of wisdom: READ the original study.

      Most of the time the news media tells the public whatever they think the study says. I have gone back and read the actual study that related to the article and found there was very little in the study that matched the article. This has happened more times than I want to think about.

      Added tip: For every study that says something is so, there is another study that says it’s not so.

      The prof said reading studies is a pain the butt. And at first you have no idea what you just read. Keep reading them. You get used to it and it gets to make more sense. Make it a life habit to read the original study.

    12. Flower necklace*

      Thanks for the replies, everyone! You’ve confirmed my original thought, which was that everyone is different and for some people (like me), music helps them focus. She just said it in such an authoritative tone that I thought maybe something had changed, and my experience wasn’t as universal as I’d assumed.

      When we go back in person (whenever that may be), I’ll stick to the same policy I had before: music is fine during independent work, as long as it’s not distracting. I tend to overthink (my brain is constantly in overdrive), and I find music relaxing. I’ve been relying on it a lot during the pandemic. I don’t see any reason to deprive my students of it unnecessarily.

  46. Extranon today*

    Quitting my 8-year, expected to be my career forever, job today to start my own company with some ex-colleagues. Not a question and I’m very optimistic about the choice but… so much aaaah! Any words of wisdom?

    1. whistle*

      Go you! I am also at the 8-year mark and thinking of quitting to start a business.

      No words of wisdom, just jealousy :)

    2. Buni*

      All the luck! From experience, and I say this with ALL the love: have back-up plans to your back-up plans. Assume your suppliers will be late, or lost in a freak typhoon accident. Assume the postal service will go up in flames (if you use it). Assume all your equipment / internet will fail on the first day.

      I’ve worked for a lot of small / start-up businesses and the most succesful ones were the ones with 57 varieties of contingency.

  47. Charlotte Lucas*

    In my old job, there were a lot of things that built up. But it was when management used the changes to FLSA as an excuse to reclassify my tiny overworked, underrespected department & cut our pay. Apparently, we weren’t worthy of being exempt staff anymore. I upped my job search & used all the PTO I had saved from working too much going to interviews. It took a year, but I found a contract position with better pay & benefits. And it led to an even better permanent position.

    We ended up not getting the pay cut. When everyone in a department threatens to quit & points out all the tasks they’re doing that keep you in compliance with the government, people backpedal. But we were still reclassified, which affected our benefits & status in the company.

  48. Beancat*

    Prefacing this with I am TERRIFIED of making mistakes. I’m pretty sure it’s related to some mental health stuff and any mistake makes me afraid I’ll be fired, or dumped, or ditched – no matter how minor.

    This week, I screwed up at work. We accept Starfleet requisition forms, but someone gave us an Imperial requisition form. The problem was that I’m not well trained enough yet to tell the difference and I sent the Imperial form for processing. Well, Starfleet won’t pay us for anything coming from the Empire. I panicked.

    But I came up with a plan because this particular Imperial form has some out-of-universe benefits with Starfleet. I mailed them the form manually and there’s a chance we’ll still get paid. However, the form still shows up as unpaid currently and the Captain I work under will see it.

    Going to her this week and saying “I made a mistake, but here’s how I’m planning to fix it” was utterly terrifying. She thanked me for coming to her and for having a plan, and making a mistake didn’t feel like the end of the world for once in my life.

    Leaps and bounds this week with things like that and boundary setting with other situations we run into in Starfleet. I was really proud of myself this week!

    1. Choggy*

      Nice! I used to be worried about mistakes I made (I work in IT, so some mistakes can be far-reaching), but owning up and taking responsibility has never failed me.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Good for you! “I made a mistake, but here’s how I’m planning to fix it” is one of the most powerful tools in your covering-your-butt arsenal. :)

    3. AGD*

      Awesome! I also completely understand. I actually nearly quit my (awesome) job a few years ago because perfectionism was giving me horrible impostor syndrome (I theoretically understand that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but in practice I kept thinking, “well, if they’d hired any of the other candidates, this wouldn’t have happened”). All of my evaluations have been excellent, so I’m going to assume those are the more objective picture of my performance.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This is huge. I hope you give yourself some kind of treat this weekend.

      I went through my own version of this. I suspect mine might have been tamer than yours. However, the more of it I did, the more I realized the world did not end. After a bit, I started realizing that the people in my life who had meltdowns over even simple mistakes were actually a hot mess themselves. This realization was very saddening to me, because their ideas of how the world worked was just so very wrong.

  49. Dr. Doll*

    I wish my boss’s boss would stop talking about how much he/she works. In every meeting, it’ll be mentioned that he/she was up at 4:00 a.m. and worked until midnight. I *believe* it, actually. But I’m tired of the expectation, sigh. It affects other areas of the organization too, by creating the “We can be just as martyred as you” dynamic.

    1. tangerineRose*

      If this was a co-worker, I’d recommend saying something like “Don’t you need a good night sleep occasionally to be at your best?” and finding some studies that show that too much work can be counterproductive. But for a grandboss, I’ve got nothing, sorry.

  50. Unfocused or normal?*

    Does anyone else find it nearly impossible to be focused on work for a full 8 hours a day? Should I be worried about it even if my boss is happy with my work?

    I’ve never been able to consistently focus on work for 8 hours a day with only minimal breaks, even before the pandemic. If I’m being honest with myself, on most days I’m only completely focused on work for 5-6 hours a day, with the rest of the time spent on things like making tea, reading the news, chatting with coworkers (or, since pandemic WFH started, my partner), setting up doctor’s appointments, checking AAM, and daydreaming. I also typically have 2-3 bad days a month where I spend even less time focused on work. If there’s a looming deadline on a major project or a fire that needs to be put out, I am able to be laser focused for a day or two, but it leaves me feeling exhausted and is not sustainable beyond a few days.

    I have adopted many strategies to reduce my tendency to be unfocused and procrastinate: bullet journaling, Outlook reminders, blocking news sites on my work computer, and using the forest app on my phone when I really need to focus. I’ve also started getting treatment for adult ADHD (inattentive type), including medication. These have all helped a lot, but even so I still spend a lot of my day on breaks and distractions.

    I’m always available, produce quality work, and never miss hard deadlines, and every boss I’ve had has been happy with my work. But sometimes I worry that this will catch up to me at some point, or slow my career progression in the long-term because I’m not spending all that extra time on professional development or racking up extra achievements. I can’t tell if what I’m experiencing is normal, and no one is consistently focused on work 8 hours a day every day, or if this is unusual.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      It’s great that you’re getting treatment for ADHD, but to a certain extent, nobody is able to fully focus for 8 hours straight minimal breaks. I think there have been studies that say people who “work” 8 hours a day in office jobs get only about 2-3 hour so actual work done.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I consider 5-6 hours of work focus a day great and basically the max you can expect for an 8 hour work day. You should not worry, just keep up the good work.

    3. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’m with the other commenters on this thread, Unfocused or normal?. If I pace myself and am still able to focus really well by Friday, that means I’ve worked about ~6-7 good hours the rest of the week.

      Being on a full time work from home schedule because of the pandemic has shown me just how helpful walks and naps can be during the day. (I am also taking cues from my canine colleagues).

    4. Cendol*

      Yes, I’m with the others in this thread. I’d say the longest burst of concentrated effort I’ve put into a single project is 5.5 hours. I’m on the clock 8-9 hours a day with a fair amount of downtime. My typical day is split into 2-3 hours of concentration, break, emails, 2-3 hours…repeat. I think you’d have to be some kind of zen master to be able to concentrate for 8 hours straight! (This goes for my hobby projects too! Usually an hour of sustained effort, break, and repeat!)

    5. RagingADHD*

      Sounds totally normal. Your results are good, that’s what matters.

      Planning your work is work, so I’d count your bullet journal and setting up or using your productivity systems as time spent working.

      The only thing I might suggest is to keep a running list of routine “maintenance” type tasks that don’t require much thinking. Every job has some, somewhere. Maybe it’s catching up a backlog. Maybe it’s checking for future supplies, creating templates, sorting emails, that kind of thing.

      That way if your brain is fried but you feel like you haven’t accomplished enough for the day, you can grab something off the list and make progress. And that type of work usually has the added benefit of reducing the number of “fires” that need putting out later, or making future work simpler and more convenient.

      It’s frustrating and demoralizing to always feel like you haven’t accomplished anything with your time. But a lot of times, high-level mental work is about long projects that move slowly.

      Having some immediate things to check off as “done” can be very satisfying, even if the things aren’t a big deal in themselves.

      1. RagingADHD*

        FWIW, a super-intense project for me is one where I put in 6 hours a day of highly focused mental work, all on the same task and topic.

        After a few weeks of that, I am toast. Like, fall-over-I-is-ded. Have to take time off.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I got into learning a lot about health and how the body and mind work IRL. One thing my practitioner pointed out was that any time we go high we can expect to go low later. So it only makes sense that after a period of laser focus you are exhausted. Of course you are, that was intense.

      I saw some agreement from doctors when the doc advised my diabetic husband to keep his activity levels the same from one day to the next. This meant starting with having 3 meals around the same time each day. And the snacks were the same- they had to be around the same time each day. Then the doc went on, if you can’t push rocks up hill all day and EVERY day then you cannot push rocks up hill for even ONE day. Keep the activity levels the same on a daily basis.
      Pacing is very important to have consistent health and well-being.

      Sometimes there is a big deal at work or maybe a big project at home. Part of scheduling that big project IS scheduling down time AFTER the project is done. If we go high, we can expect to go low. Allot time for that low spell. It just good healthy practice and good self-care.

    7. allathian*

      This is perfectly normal. My boss actually told me, when she asked me to estimate how long a project would take, that she expects about 5 hours of actual work for every workday. The rest is spent on breaks and esssential admin tasks that don’t actually advance the project but must be done anyway.

  51. Luigi*

    This might not be the best audience for this question, but I’ll try. My husband is a union plumber who usually does new commercial buildings and has a lot of experience. He’s considering switching to work for a private company in the future but they all require a few minimum years of residential experience which he’s just never going to get in the union. Has anyone made this type of transition and what do you recommend? He’d be looking to make this transition to earn more, so starting over as an apprentice when he’s already a journeyman would not be financially possible.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Totally spitballing – could he reach out to a couple of private companies with this type of requirement, explain his situation, and ask them about ways that his experience might be leveraged to meet their needs? Sort of an informational interview?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing but with a slight variation: Find an experienced plumber who works mostly on his own in his own company. You want some one who is experienced and been around awhile because those are the people who have STORIES. Your hubby can ask this person what he has seen other people do with success.

        I do know that there is a lot of difference between commercial and residential. So somehow your husband would have to learn where and what the differences are.
        Another good thing to look into would be to find out what it takes to become a licensed residential plumber. Maybe in the process of finding that answer, your husband will find his path across to residential work.

  52. Sleepy*

    Any tips for running meaningful team check-in meetings?

    I manage a team that mostly works independently and remotely. When more people on the team were newer, group check-ins felt like a good way to set a consistent tone across the organization because many of the new employee problems were shared. However, the team is more experienced now and our team check-ins had started to feel more like unproductive complaining. I’m cutting down on the number of team meetings and emphasizing 1-on-1s with me to problem-solve for specific issues that don’t affect everyone. However, I still want to have some meetings where we check in as a team–because otherwise it won’t feel like a team at all. I’m reaching out to team members to find out what would make these meetings most meaningful for them, but I’d be curious to hear from tips from others.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Honestly, my manager chopped our meetings in half (we used to have two a week). The second one is left on the calendar as optional but usually gets canceled. There was an additinoal once-a-week meeting we used to have that has now been canceled in favor of a digital reminder to do what we used to cover in that meeting.

      I do think regular check-ins are important, but maybe you can just make those short? Schedule a 30-minute meeting, and if it’s done in 2 minutes, give people back the rest of the 28 minutes.

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

      It sounds like it serves an emotional purpose for you to have “a team” but maybe not a business need — why not just let it not feel like “a team” for right now? Let your employees be individuals doing their work independently without having to be emotionally invested in each other and you. I know that sounds harsh but you don’t want to be the manager who says anything like “but we’re like FAAAAAMMMMIIIILLLLLLYYYY.” If it doesn’t serve a business need right now, don’t force it on people.

    3. Ferrina*

      We do weekly check-ins where everyone shares where they are at on projects and bandwidth. We’re all remote, too. I (team leader) set the agenda, then have spaces for each person to share. I also have a “tips and tricks” section, which we’ve found helpful in sharing MS Office tips! I set the tone at the beginning- “Hello everyone, aren’t we all really excited to do [UNNECESSARY ADMIN PROCEDURE] this week? Okay, so let’s talk about some ways to get this done….” No complaints from me- it’s all about problem solving and making this painless.
      You can even start the meeting by saying “I’d like to talk about complaints. While they are natural and normal, and goodness knows it’s 2020 so we all have them, I’d like to try a new way of handling them. Let’s focus on making this meeting a time to collaborate and solve problems together, and complaints will be handled through [PROCESS YOU WANT TO DO]. I know this is a bit different and might take some getting used to, so let’s give it a few weeks and really try this. Thanks!” Then throughout the meeting, when it gets complainy, redirect to solutions.