open thread – December 18-19, 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.

{ 860 comments… read them below }

  1. LTL*

    If an organization replies to every negative review on Glassdoor, is it a red flag? It’s a small company, so they have about two pages of reviews. The replies are very polite and professional but they strike me as defensive. If someone lists a con, they explain why that person is wrong.

    I applied to one of their positions. To be honest, I was already a bit hesitant to apply for personal reasons (they work heavily with the Department of Defense which I’d rather not do), which may be coloring my views. I wanted to get some second opinions.

    1. Littorally*

      I guess I could see a scenario where it wouldn’t be a red flag, but at a very minimum I’d consider it a yellow one. Someone there feels like they always have to get the last word in, and if it’s a small company, that person probably has a fair bit of influence.

      1. Artemesia*

        If it is the rare ‘set the record straight’ review — okay. If the person simply thanks the person for feedback each time with a rare full response — not my style but okay. But if there is an explanation for every negative review it feels more like defensiveness and people who don’t fix problems but resist hearing about them.

    2. Points for Anonymity*

      I would definitely take that as a warning sign, to be honest. Multiple negative reviews means it’s not just one person that they feel is being unfair – they feel EVERYONE is being unfair. Seems unlikely.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I think it’s less weird that a smaller company is doing it than if a larger company was going out of their way to reply to each and every negative review. I can easily see smaller companies keeping an eye on Glassdoor after people leave than large ones. However, what would be more of a red flag to me is if the negative reviews were a) posted in quick succession implying high turnover in a role and b) how many negative reviews there are overall.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My last job did this for many of its GlassDoor reviews, though they also replied to positive ones. It was definitely a yellow flag there, in that they claimed to be listening to criticism but never did anything about it.

    5. I edit everything*

      I’d rather see replies like, “Thanks for mentioning that issue. We’ll look into it,” or “There are always processes that can be improved, and we’re aware this one is problematic for some of our employees.”

      But if they’re basically replying by saying, “this review is a lie,” on every review, then I’d consider that a red flag.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        That part. If they’re not taking stock of their very real issues and are instead explaining them away, I’d be concerned and cautious.

      2. Weekend Please*

        I think also acknowledging the problem and explaining why they can’t change it could be ok. Something like responding to a complaint about parking by saying they don’t own the lot. That could be helpful because it lets you know that the problem exists and won’t be changing so you can decide if it is a dealbreaker. If they are just saying that the criticism is unfair or a lie that is a red flag.

    6. Lentils*

      I would be wary; that feels like an attempt at damage control to me. My first Very Bad Company did this with almost every negative review except mine, presumably because mine was quite long and detailed and they couldn’t just brush off the complaints with a vague “we’re sorry you had this experience with us.”

    7. California Ltd.*

      We’ve stopped responding to all GlassDoor reviews because I learned through AAM that people view that skeptically. But the advice given by most social media manager types is to respond to all reviews – especially if they’re negative. So I wouldn’t say this is a red flag or desire to have the last word. I suspect they’re just following commonly held practices based on what they’ve heard from the interwebs.

      1. Been There*

        I work for a large public organization and do all social media for our specific section of the org; I respond to all negative (public) feedback with “thanks for reaching out, let me look into this and get back to you” and then I do it privately, not publicly. It’s probably important to note that I don’t have a degree or even training in social media, I inherited the responsibility from my admin when she was let go. I am, however, a millennial with very skeptical views about social media so that might help.

        I think the “respond to all review, especially negative ones” is a little misguided and probably stems from the fact that one bad review on twitter can absolutely TANK a company PR (but they fail to see that the bad PR come from a lack of response to the bad review, and the “we will look into this” response usually negates that bad PR).

        Just my personal experience!

        1. Workerbee*

          I’ve always established and followed the policy of bringing negative conversations offline as well. I’m not sure if that’s what we’re “supposed” to do, having had no training myself. It just makes sense to me. But then, social media became a thing while I was still in the first half of my career and had been doing traditional marketing up to that point.

          Glassdoor is an interesting beast, and I appreciate the companies who, if they are going to respond to reviews, respond to all reviews, and also don’t start when they suddenly get a bad one….the way one of my orgs did, thanks to my CMO who took it personally because it named one of his cronies. He even tried to get it removed, but Glassdoor refused.

      2. hbc*

        I think it’s a lot more common when you’re responding to a customer or client review. Whether they’re right or wrong, you have a lot of room to come off well, either by showing an interest in what they have to say or basically calling it false without calling them a liar. “I’m sorry to hear that you couldn’t get through to make an order during normal business hours. However, we took multiple phone orders on the day you mention, so if you’d like to contact me with more information, I can look into this further.”

        With an ex-employee, though? A lot of it is going to be They Said/They Said. Unless they get really specific like “They have dozens of OSHA violations,” there’s not much to say in response that’s convincing.

      3. pancakes*

        “I saw this recommended on the internet so it must be the done thing now and I’d better do it every single time I have the chance” might itself be a bit of a red flag, or at least a yellow one. People who try to avoid using discretion and/or favor rigidity can be very difficult to work with.

    8. Managerrrr*

      I think if they’re polite responses that actually address the issues, I’d be less alarmed. Honestly, I think responding to the reviews is a good sign. It shows that they’re monitoring their company’s reputation and taking steps to mitigate negative feedback.

      1. Rayray*

        I agree. If it sounds like they’re genuinely accepting the criticism or even explaining why things are a certain way, I think it’s fine. Many reviews could be left by bitter or disgruntled employees when the issue at hand wasn’t really bad-doing by the company.

        But if the responses are overly defensive or dismissive of valid concerns, it’s a red flag.

    9. Ann O'Nemity*

      It’s a sign that they care about their employment branding and are trying to address it. It could be because they have legit engagement and retention problems, but not necessarily. I’d pay more attention to any themes in the Glassdoor complaints. Like if 5 people have all complained about the same thing recently, it’s probably a legitimate issue.

    10. Super Duper Anon*

      I would honestly care less about them responding to review comments (although I agree it is a yellow flag) than see what kind of content the reviews have. I was looking at reviews for my previous company, and nobody responds to them at all, but all the negative reviews are very consistent with pointing out what the issues are, and even though I have been gone for a while, I still know people who work there and know the reviews are true. I was also looking at reviews for a company my husband was interested in. HR and the CEO responded to each of the reviews with generalities of what they were doing to fix the problems, but all of the negative reviews pointed out the same issues over and over again. That was way more of a red flag to me than the responses.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Yes, this.
        What are the actual reviews saying, and what are the responses?

        How do the negative reviews compare to the positive reviews?

        I’ve seen some reviews for companies I worked for where the negative reviews were completely irrational and unreasonable, because the people who left them were crappy employees.

        I’ve also seen some that were fair criticism, but not about things that mattered to me.

        And the same about positive reviws, tbh.

        Theres just a lot of variables that could make this concerning or not.

        1. a thought*

          I agree with this. I look for patterns in the reviews. One person saying something, no big deal. Lots of people… red flag. That said, I would put more stock in the negative reviews themselves rather than the fact that the company responds!

    11. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

      The company I worked for last year does that, and all I can tell you is that the place was a cesspool of dysfunction and toxicity. They replied to my anonymous negative review by saying that it was a shame that some people aren’t willing to out in the hard work and have to be shown the door.

      LOL I didn’t get fired, I quit after 6 months! That was all the time I needed to cut my losses and run.

    12. Maggie*

      I would say its not always a good sign, but I definitely wouldn’t let that stop me from applying/interviewing for a job unless the reviews were totally nuts!

    13. Anonforthis*

      is it just one department that the negative reviews are originating from? in my company, you’ll see overwhelmingly positive reviews from most departments, but super negative reviews from one department…so that may be a factor. and I like where I work, but the department with the negative reviews went through a significant shake up with turnover a couple years ago, so there are still a bunch of those.

    14. Bostonian*

      Oooooh I’ve seen this before. It depends how defensive and dismissive the comments are and who they’re coming from. I once applied to a small company in which the CEO personally responded to the negative reviews in an EXTREMELY defensive, dismissive, and unprofessional manner and used emojis.

      In the interview, I asked about how feedback was handled and how the CEO communicated with the company (the questions themselves were more specific, but fall under that general topic). I got some additional interesting information from the HR rep that confirmed impressions I had based on the glassdoor responses.

      Needless to say, I wasn’t surprised that when I left a neutral/slightly positive interview review on glassdoor, the HR recruiter reached out to me on my personal email and said that he could tell I had left the review, and he explained how I was wrong about something I posted.

      I’d say if you’re interested in the job, there’s nothing wrong with going to the screen/interview armed with a few key questions to figure out how much the responses reflect a systemic problem.

    15. Secret Squirrel*

      Are there any tips on AAM regarding writing a review on Glassdoor? I would like to come across as objective, but honest about the workplace. Thank you!

      1. Qwerty*

        I find the most effective ones to be well thought out and avoid dramatic/extreme language. You don’t need to be neutral, but being all gushing positive or angrily negative sounds like the reviewer may have blinders on.

        I’d recommend starting with making a pro/con list, look for overall themes, and then do a write up. Take a couple passes at your draft and read it out loud to see how it sounds. Be specific when possible – for example say “50hrs per week” rather than “long hours” or “office hours start at 7:30am” rather than “unreasonable start times” The goal of the review is to help people decide if this is a good role for them, rather than to sell the company as great or vent frustrations at them.

      2. LTL*

        For me, the best reviews in general (for workplaces or otherwise) are the ones that are detailed and talk about specifics. Bonus points for including individual examples.

    16. lemon*

      I agree with others that it’s a yellow flag.

      Old Job was terribly dysfunctional/toxic, and it was widely well-known that the CEO hated getting negative Glassdoor reviews. They didn’t respond to every Glassdoor review, but it’s pretty obvious that they have hired some kind of service to write fake positive reviews after people post a negative review– they all use similar language and use the same talking points like, “the people who complain are just entitled youngsters who don’t like to work hard. I love it here!” Which is just a sign of how deep the dysfunction is– CEO knows that employees are unhappy en masse, but what bothers him is the appearance of being a bad company, so his solution is to write fake reviews rather than work to change the culture internally.

      I see responding defensively to every review in a similar light. It’s about appearances and maintaining a self-image of being a “good” company, even if presented with evidence suggesting otherwise, which is a narcissistic kind of delusion that doesn’t bode well. Not a reason not to proceed with interviewing, but just proceed cautiously while keeping an eye out for other signs of dysfunction.

    17. Dottie*

      From my experience I would proceed with caution. When I quit I wrote a negative review for a small ex-employer which prompted a domino of more negative reviews. The company responded by trying to delete criticism, create fake reviews, and/or respond to all the reviews. But over the years there’s been more reviews and they’ve given up responding lol

  2. esemess*

    What are best practices for people with big, outgoing personalities when interacting with colleagues that prefer to keep to themselves and/or have a quieter or smaller* presence?

    *I can’t think of the correct word. Very much NOT putting a value on either personality–just looking for what has worked well. :)

      1. Points for Anonymity*

        As for the advice I’d say the most beneficial thing you can do is actively ask for their opinion in a discussion. As an introvert myself, I often have (I feel) very valuable input but I absolutely hate interrupting or speaking over people. It can be easy for extroverts to bulldoze without realising and assume I don’t want to speak.

        1. I edit everything*

          This.

          Often introverts and people who tend not to jump into conversations at the drop of a hat are spending that time not talking in deep thought–analyzing, considering. So they’ll often bring important observations and and solutions to a conversation.

          Also, some of us will sometimes need to physically back off from a big personality. If there are loud voices, a lot of movement, two people talking and not allowing space for others to participate, I tend to simply remove myself from the discussion, either physically (*shrug* “They clearly don’t think I’m part of this conversation.” *wanders away*) if it’s a casual conversation, or mentally (Because I can’t swim while being sprayed by a firehose).

          Deliberate inclusion is really important, no matter what mix of personalities you have.

          1. bleh*

            “I can’t swim while being sprayed by a firehose” is so useful. I could not have explained my reaction to these kind of interactions, but you have done.

          2. Points for Anonymity*

            I always liken it to being in a really loud school cafeteria, where there are so many voices that it just turns into a bit of a roar and you can’t make out specific conversations. I need to back off a bit so I don’t get overwhelmed!

            That said, I can be pretty outspoken. It just drains my energy a lot and I don’t always have bandwidth for it. It’s better if I’m prepared and psyche myself up for it beforehand.

          3. ThePear8*

            Yes, deliberate inclusion! I second that phrase, it’s so important! I’m introverted and don’t always know how to take the initiative to put myself in a conversation, it’s much easier of someone else asks me a question or for my thoughts or otherwise deliberately talks to me that I’m able to open up and join in.

        2. LKW*

          Yes, and if possible to remember, frame it as “Do you have any thoughts on the matter?” instead of “What do you think?” The latter demands a response, whereas the former gives the person an out to say “Nope, nothing to add.”

          And that’s just a good tip in general – give people an out.

      2. Parenthetically*

        I’m an introvert, but I have an open, gregarious, even loud personality when interacting with people I like. It takes a good amount of energy to do this, which is why I need alone time. And that’s all introversion is. It does not mean quiet or shy.

          1. Yorick*

            It’s not though. OP was looking for an opposite to “big, loud personality,” which introverts can have.

        1. never comments*

          Yes- this.! Being an introvert does not automatically mean you are quiet or shy. I would describe myself as an introvert- but my job is in outreach, training and developing partnerships. I am good at these things- it is just exhausting sometimes and I recharge by having alone time.

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, this. There are also quiet extroverts. They’re the folks who need noise around them to focus and who find the lack of stimulation in a quiet space distressing. They vastly prefer working in open offices and coffeeshops to working in a quiet space.

          I can relate to what Parenthetically is saying, I’m basically an introvert, but I’ve learned to fake it somewhat when necessary. It’s exhausting, though, and for this reason I find WFH much less draining than going to the office. I like my coworkers and enjoy their company when I can go to the office, but it’s exhausting as well.

          I’ve actually asked my boss and team lead to interrupt me in meetings if I go on too long without realizing it, and they’ve been great about that.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Can you be more specific what you mean by “interacting with”? Do you mean reporting to, having small talk with, being reported to by? Interaction can mean a lot of different things, each of which might require its own approach, including no approach at all.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Right. My immediate thought was, “Leave them alone unless they approach you first about something,” but then I realized that a) I’m projecting about how I prefer people to approach me, which may not be the preference for other, quieter people and b) it may not be appropriate due to the person’s position in the company.

    2. LTL*

      What’s the context? One thing you can do is be cognizant if the person hasn’t spoken in a while, and if so, ask them a question on whatever’s being discussed (especially in two-way conversations). But if they prefer to keep to themselves, it might be best to just let them do so.

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I guess the question is what are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to make sure the big personality isn’t stomping over the quieter person? Are you trying to make sure the quieter person gets to talk? Is it “what are some good things to keep in mind when big interacts with quiet”? Or is there a specific problem that’s happening that you’re trying to correct?

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve been called a “big personality” and I’m very outgoing, but I’m also really sensitive to other personalities (or I try to be, anyway). And I am all about my down time because it’s exhausting to be outgoing all the time. With the biggest introverts/loners in my office, I tend to IM them instead of walking over (when that was an option). But mostly I just pay attention to what I’m getting back from them and I don’t step on their toes. I don’t try to draw them out or anything. I don’t draw attention to their quietness, I just… respect it, I guess.

      1. Web Crawler*

        As an introvert, I 100% appreciated those people who would IM instead of walking over. It was less energy, and I also have no memory- IM provides a nice log of what we just talked about.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        I would MUCH rather be asked by IM or email, both because it involves fewer people in my day and because I, personally, do better when I read things. And in my job specifically it’s better to create documentation. So, call or ask in person if you need it RIGHT NOW but if it can wait a bit text or email.

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      As an introvert who worked with a pretty extroverted woman – wonderful person with a huge heart who just wanted me to be included, which was sweet if a touch overwhelming – I would say this: take no for an answer the first time.

      I tried my absolute best to get out of a Christmas party one year b/c it was taking place far from my home, I was the only single person in the office and didn’t have a plus one, and I spent all day with these people that I didn’t want to give up my evening. I told the office manager this, went on my lunch, and came back to this lovely woman telling me that she’d figured it all out – I could stay with her, she’d cook me breakfast the morning after, and all that jazz. She wanted to help and find a solution to what she perceived was my problem when I didn’t need it. I didn’t hold it against her as that’s just who she was, but it was annoying.

      So yeah, take no for an answer the first time.

      1. Khatul Madame*

        I wish this became the universal rule!
        When I just got married, MIL came for a visit. I asked if she wanted a cup of tea or a snack. She said no, and we continued our visit. Later my husband said that MIL was offended that I didn’t try to persuade her to have tea/food, and just took her no for an answer the first time.
        She was the opposite of introvert though, extrovert doesn’t begin to describe that personality.

        1. MacGillicuddy*

          I recognize this pattern with my own MIL. I find it exasperating. She wanted you to beg ( oh pleeeze let me make you a cup of coffee).
          People who do this (require you to ask multiple times if they would like xyz, with “are you sure?” “It’s no bother “ and “ I was going I have one anyway“) typically don’t take no for an answer when the situation is reversed. Usual pattern:
          Me: (having eaten dinner with sizable portions of everything)
          MIL: would you like more chicken?
          Me: no thanks, I’m good
          MIL: there’s plenty. Won’t you have more?
          Me: no thanks, I’m really full
          MIL: but I made it special!
          Me: it was delicious, but I’ve had enough, I’m really full.
          MIL: oh, come on, just a small piece more!
          Me: thanks, but I really had enough!
          MIL: are you SURE you wouldn’t like another piece? Here! (picks up piece with serving fork)
          Me: Really! I don’t want any more. I’m totally full! If I eat any more I’ll feel too stuffed!
          MIL: well, if I’d known you didn’t like chicken, I would have made something else!

          Absolutely infuriating.

          After many similar repeats of this kind of exchange, I said “MIL, why don’t you believe me when I tell you I’ve had enough? If I wanted more I would have had more.” She looked surprised, as if such a thing would never occurred to her.

          1. Schmitt*

            Look up “ask vs guess” culture – that might give you an insight! In some cultures it’s rude or seen as greedy to take seconds yourself or to accept an offer on the first try.

    6. Tableau Wizard*

      I think with anyone, identifying their preferred method of communication is key. In my experience, outgoing people may tend to be the “pick up the phone” or “stop by the office type”, whereas someone who is less outgoing might prefer to be contacted via IM or email.

      1. A Genuine Scientician*

        This is huge. I know some people who love to talk on the phone. I know *many* others who would prefer that phone calls were restricted to things like “I need to schedule an appointment” — and even there, would prefer that there was an online calendar system.

        As a few others have also pointed out, deliberately making space for the other person to say something, rather than just saying “Feel free to interrupt” goes a long way too. I worked for one boss who would just hold forth in meetings and expect to be interrupted (and genuinely didn’t mind if someone did, even if they were very junior). I worked for another boss who would say things like “I’d like us all to pause for a minute to see if someone who hasn’t said much would like to weigh in here” and then actually do so. The latter got better responses.

        1. lemon*

          Yes, making deliberate space for folks is important. My experience with a lot of “feel free to interrupt” people is that they do not, in fact, like being interrupted, because when I do try to get a word in edgewise, they just continue to talk right over me.

      2. Sparrow*

        Yes, I think this is really important. Finding their comfort zone, generally, can also be helpful. One past coworker did great work and always had good ideas, but she was very quiet and definitely not one to insert her opinion unless explicitly asked. Even then she would really only go into detail if it was a very small group (and ideally one on one). I knew it was worth hearing her thoughts, so I just made a point to approach her in settings she felt more confident in.

        Another big thing is leaving space for them. Sometimes big talkers talk and talk and talk, and even if the quieter person has something to say, they never get a chance to. When it comes to work stuff, it can also help to give people who tend to process internally time to think. My relationship with a past boss improved dramatically once he realized that if I paused during our conversation or didn’t immediately respond to his question, it wasn’t because I was confused and needed him to continue explaining. I was thinking, and if he just stopped talking and gave me a second, I’d come back with something insightful. (In that case, I had to compromise, too, by giving him a cliffs notes version of my thought process. He came to trust that if he started at A and the next thing I said jumped ahead to F, there was a good reason for it, but he processed things externally and needed to hear it in order to follow along.)

    7. Lynn*

      I think you’ve already done a big one, which is to recognize that people have different socialization preferences, and it is not personal and not indicative of anything wrong with them (ie not assuming that the person doesn’t like you or is rude because they don’t reciprocate conversation in the same way).

      and when in doubt, just keep it professional and relatively short.

    8. Web Crawler*

      I don’t know about best practices for everyone, but it helps me when louder folks wait an extra beat for me to finish talking instead of jumping right in.

      Also, anything that shows you’re listening will make me talk more- even if it’s just “yep” or nodding or “ok”- those little words that show that you heard me.

    9. Nanc*

      The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World Kindle Edition by Marti Olsen Laney
      Your library will probably have a copy. You don’t have to read the whole thing but there are chapters on working with and managing introverts.
      Full disclosure: I’m an extreme introvert who manages very extroverted marketing and sales folks. I wish the book had been around when I first started my career–I would have spent less time bewildered about why I struggled in certain areas!

    10. Student Affairs Sally*

      My last office was mostly introverts and we had a running joke about “gentle eye contact”. As an introvert, I personally have trouble making direct eye contact with people all the time even when we’re talking one-on-one and I know them well and all that. I’m more likely to make eye contact for brief periods but then look away and focus on your shoulder or earlobe or something, or even the wall behind you. I’ve worked with people who will insist on maintaining eye contact for an entire conversation and I find that uncomfortable and exhausting. I think ultimately this is about paying attention to nonverbal cues and backing off a bit if you sense that the other person is getting overwhelmed or uncomfortable.

    11. I edit everything*

      A good rule for everyone is to really listen to what people are saying, not with an ear toward what you’ll say in response. Extroverts and talkers tend to have a pileup of things they want to get out, which can overrun consideration of what the non-talker just said.

      Sometimes it’s ok–I’m an introvert and one of my best friends is an extreme extrovert (like, can barely stand to take a shower, because she doesn’t want to be by herself that long). We hang out, and I just let her talk, and it’s nice because I don’t have to say a thing. Takes the pressure off. But she’s not the person I go to for deep conversations about things I want or need to talk through with someone.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        A good rule for everyone is to really listen to what people are saying, not with an ear toward what you’ll say in response.

        A surprising number of people are really bad at this. I work with many of them, too, which is annoying.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          My father is NOTORIOUS for this and it drives us all nuts. He’ll swear we didn’t tell him something and we did, but he was already racing ahead mentally and didn’t listen. It’s one of my biggest peeves.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Mine too, to the point where I’ve ended up snapping at some people about doing this this year (boy, am I glad to be done with work for the year because I am afraid of what else I’ll say to the constant interrupters I work with).

    12. Just a PM*

      Pay attention to social cues and body language! Sometimes big personality people (including extroverts) don’t recognize when quieter people are trying to extract themselves from an interaction, especially one that’s happening in or nearby their spaces that they can’t really leave. Some of the signals we give off are “mm-hmm” or “oh really”-type verbal cues or trying to turn back to our computers/work, or saying things like “Bob needs this report in 10 minutes, I really need to focus.”

      Also don’t take up the whole conversation. People with quieter personalities or who like to keep to themselves sometimes need time to pull their thoughts together. Bigger personalities get uncomfortable with silence and will keep talking, which turns the encounter into a monologue. It’s okay to pause!

      1. Littorally*

        Right! Or, if you are thinking about approaching someone to chat, take stock of how they look. Are they actively typing? Staring focusedly at their screen? Reading off a thick stack of paperwork? They probably do not want to hear about your after-work plans at that moment.

    13. BusyBee*

      I’m an introvert with a big personality! Since I know I can occasionally be A Lot and can bulldoze folks with enthusiasm, I’ve worked really really hard on my active listening skills. I’ve noticed this builds trust with folks, because they know I’m going to listen and devote my full attention to what they’re saying, and it also seems to give space for more withdrawn colleagues to say what they’re thinking. I’m also careful not to dominate the conversation, and actively elicit feedback and advice. So, for instance, if there’s a question about impact on the timeline, I’ll be sure to say “Karen is the expert there. Karen, what’s your take?”.

    14. Lifeandlimb*

      For me, a high-functioning introvert: I would suggest inviting the other person to provide their opinion by asking specific questions. Sometimes people who don’t take up as much space have a hard time inciting a topic, but they might like to be asked: “What do you think of that? / What do you do for work? / What were your thoughts on a solution? / What do you like to do in your free time?”

      My partner is even a bit quieter than me, and he’s always complaining about how loud some people can be…so for somebody like him, I would suggest thinking almost library volumes when you speak.

    15. Momma Bear*

      We have some really wonderful people who are extroverted and effusive. It helps when they recognize signs of someone else’s discomfort, when they don’t sneak up on someone who might be quiet (maybe send a Teams chat asking to drop by vs showing up randomly at the person’s office), and just being considerate. I don’t mind chatting with people, even though I am an introvert. I mind small talk and groups and if there are five people already in the kitchen, I will come back later. I don’t tend to go out to lunch (though I appreciate being invited because sometimes I will go) because that is my down time. I also try to meet the extroverts where they are, and not take offense. If I know people well, I can be very outgoing and friendly. If I don’t like you or don’t know you well, you’re more likely to get my quiet side. Introversion is also more about how people recharge (so maybe not schedule back to back to back meetings if you can) than social anxiety. A person can be both, but introvert doesn’t = hermit.

      Re: meetings, I think it is good practice in general to go around the room and make sure everyone has chimed in if they want to.

    16. Bookslinger In My Free Time*

      Something I, as a fairly quiet and reserved introvert come up on a lot in my very much not like me at all workplace is that people often perceive something I may say as a disagreement with them, or maybe that I am opposing them. My vocal tones tend to be quieter, and unless I make an effort, tend to fall along a semi flat pattern- which can be interpreted as passive aggressive or unhappy in a rushed moment. Add the RBF and we have all sorts of fun. My coworkers think I disagree with them more than I do fairly often

      All that to say, that along with what other commenters have suggested, be aware that the quieter people in the office may exhibit vastly different body language and speech cues than a more outgoing and gregarious person might- and have a care to make sure you aren’t presenting something aggressively or combatively in reaction to their cues. I tend to shut down fast in the face of combative or aggressive speech patterns, unless it’s something that I really can’t let slide.

    17. Quinalla*

      Lots of great responses, if it is a person who is a deep processor, one thing I didn’t see was giving the person time to process if at all possible. If you can send an agenda or just a topic prior to meeting/conversation, that will help them a lot. If you can’t do that, make a point to follow up with them the next day or two, they likely will have some insights they may think it is “too late” to share.

  3. Less Nosy*

    My friend works at a company that I really want to work at, and he referred me for a job. I had my phone screen yesterday and I think it went really well!! In true 2020 fashion, the recruiter and I kept getting disconnected at the end of the call – she said their network was down, but closed the loop with me via text later that day.

    She said she would send me an email with their benefits package (something that’s never been disclosed to me in a phone screen before!) so I’m thinking I must have overshot my salary ask, but I gave a range ~$5k above my absolute minimum just because I didn’t want to leave money on the table. When she closed the loop with me I mentioned I would keep an eye out for that email.

    The only problem is, I haven’t received that email yet! Since we were texting before, I’m thinking I should text her a quick version of what a thank you email would be (I don’t have her email/last name) and say something like “I know you are super busy right now with the end of the year and the holidays, but I just wanted to make sure I didn’t miss that email you mentioned.” Is that annoying/out of line? I truly do want to make sure I didn’t miss it somehow. It’s been over 24 hours and I’ve checked Spam/Filtered messages, nada.

    1. Fitz*

      You’ve already given a reason why she may have missed it: she’s busy with the end of the year and the holidays. Also, 24 hours is… not a lot of time. I would wait at least a few more days before following up, and given the likelihood of vacation, just wait until after the new year. If you’re not adding additional information that she should know, I wouldn’t text.

    2. Jenn*

      I’d wait until Monday or Tuesday to send that text. Things get crazy at the end of the week and this time of year, so I’d give a little grace period. You might also want to check with your friend in case he knows something about the recruiter’s status – maybe they are out sick or had another emergency came up.

    3. Diahann Carroll*

      She said she would send me an email with their benefits package (something that’s never been disclosed to me in a phone screen before!) so I’m thinking I must have overshot my salary ask

      Not necessarily. I’ve been given benefits info in a phone screen a couple of times, with the most recent time being when I interviewed for my current company, and I’ve gotten what I asked for salary-wise. They just knew that I was currently employed, the hiring manager or committee was really keen on me based on my resume and thought I could be a good fit for their teams, and so they wanted me to know what the benefits were ahead of time so I could compare it to what I already had to make sure it made sense for me to continue on the interview process (there’s no sense in interviewing someone who already has a good job in a company with good benefits if you know your benefits suck and you can’t give them a massive salary increase to make up the difference).

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yeah I wouldn’t read any correlation there. Some companies are just good at getting you the benefits info upfront – I’ve gotten packets early from jobs I knew I wasn’t a strong candidate for *and* from jobs I’ve been offered.

      2. Cj*

        I don’t know how you’re even supposed to tell them what you want for salary before you see the benefits package. The package may be great, fully paid health insurance with low co-pays, or terrible, high premium for the employee, high cost for medical care insurance.

    4. Sandi*

      I send out emails to strangers for a volunteer thing (people who have filled out a form requesting that I contact them), and have been finding that so many more of them are going to spam than before Covid. I usually text them to let them know I have emailed them, and they are surprised by the problem and we spend time sorting out how to get in contact.

      I would wait a few days, but it could easily be technical problems.

  4. Tableau Wizard*

    Any advice for onboarding your new boss? Our small department within a medium organization has been without our Director since just before the pandemic shut everything down. Despite that and transitioning to remote work, our work and our department has blossomed. There’s been many factors that contributed to that, some of which is related to our previous director.

    So any advice on how to onboard and orient a new boss who is filling a role that has been vacant for 10ish month would be great!

    1. TimeTravlR*

      We are just starting with a new boss. Our last one was a bit of a nightmare so we have been pretty blunt about what needs to change from the leadership level. Fortunately he is a personality that really wants to hear it!
      After the initial, “here are some culture changes we need to make” we then gave him space to learn the programmatic aspects of the organization. Then it’s on our radar for right after the first of the year to spend some time with him brainstorming the more soft skills side of things (employee engagement, etc.)
      Bottom line, we have been very candid of what we need from him and what we can do to support him.

      1. TimeTravlR*

        Also, if you are really a Tableau Wizard… do you want to come work for us?!?!?! (We are just implementing Tableau and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it and would like to see us do more!)

        1. Tableau Wizard*

          Um, maybe! Haha. My husband says that I’ll eventually end up selling it because this is my third organization that I’ve brought Tableau to the organization and now I’m teaching it to my team. My role isn’t Tableau focused, but it’s a HUGE tool for what I do. I’m obsessed with it.

      2. Tableau Wizard*

        Also this is really helpful. I think it would be really great to be able to be super transparent, but I’m afraid we’d filter ourselves so as to not speak badly about our last director who was at the organization for 13 years and left because of a pretty tragic medical event – she’s okay now, but it wasn’t always clear that she would be.

        1. TimeTravlR*

          Yeah, sometimes you have to tread lightly so maybe phrase it as things you’d like to see happen going forward, not about her failings. Be diplomatic, but also help them see an opportunity to make their mark.
          (Tableau is the coolest thing I have seen lately! I am a little obsessed too but have zero time to devote to learning as much as I’d like about it.)

        2. OrangeBerry*

          Hello! What advice would you have for someone who would like to start learning and using Tableau? Is it possible to learn by yourself?

    2. Ferrina*

      Figure out how to communicate with them. There’s going to be a lot that’s inherent to you, but not to them. So- do they like granular details or only the essentials? Do they like reading documents or having meetings?
      If they do something unusual, you can clarify that it’s unusual. Like “Typically we put the llama jackets on before we put the hats on, but it sounds like you want us to put the hats on first, correct?” That helps them know that they are asking you to deviate from the process and helps them know what the norm is

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      When we got a new manager from an entirely different type of agency, I found it helpful to do a document of a page or two with the key functions that my team did, a description of roughly the time and scope of the function, caseloads, some hints about how that function interacts with other teams, and a couple of notes about improvements in the pipeline.
      Then I just held on to it until I was able to have a brief conversation and referred to it like it was just an ordinary tool I had. “Would you like a copy?”
      Basically it was a handy take away that he could review for a big picture view of what was going on.

      Later used it to orient a new hire, which was handy too.

    4. Policy Wonk*

      Working for the Federal Government, we have lots of experience in bringing in new bosses.
      The usual packet includes:
      1. paper describing what you do. Even an experienced hand won’t know everything you do, unless they have worked for you before.
      2. document of upcoming meetings, events, and decisions. Actually, you need two. One short term – this needs to be done within the next 30 days – 3 months, one a year-ahead snapshot
      3. up to date staffing pattern or org chart. Boss needs to know who works for her/him, and what they do.
      4. current budget, including any shortfalls or problems.

      Good luck!

  5. LTL*

    Second post for a separate question. I’ll occasionally see people post about openings on their team on LinkedIn and say “reach out if interested.” Are they asking you to let them know that you’re applying? Or is it an opening to speak about the role pre-application. I’m wondering how I should word the message when I reach out.

    The specific post I came across today isn’t from someone in my network. Rather, someone in my network commented on the post which is how it came up on my LinkedIn feed.

    1. Less Nosy*

      Most likely, they’re asking you to reach out to them so that they can use their company’s referral system, whether that involves sending you a link to apply that gets credited back to them, or letting their HR/talent acquisition know that you applied via their post.

      As for how I would word it, I’ve never sent anything like this but I personally would just say something like “I’m reaching out because I saw your post regarding X Position on Y Team and I’m very interested (because ABC reason)! I’m planning on throwing my hat in the ring. I appreciate you posting that!”

    2. CSmithy*

      When I do this, it’s this: “Or is it an opening to speak about the role pre-application.”

      If it’s a role I’m hiring for, I’m happy to answer any questions about the company, role, team, etc. — and I would assume people have questions — because I want to find the right fit.

    3. lemon*

      I always interpret it as an opportunity to speak more candidly about the role pre-application– to get the inside scoop on what they may be looking for, the team, the company culture, etc. But I know a lot of other folks don’t interpret it that way. When I’ve made those kinds of posts myself, I get a lot of people trying to sell themselves to me (“I have X years of experience and am super excited to join the team!”) or just outright asking for a referral, which seems like a wasted opportunity, if you ask me.

  6. A Simple Narwhal*

    Today’s my last day before I take all of next week off! Super excited for an extended holiday break. I may not have been able to take a fun summer vacation this year, but having a lot of extra vacation time has meant I’ve had a nice end of year with a bunch of long weekends and a Christmas break.

    Anyone else enjoying having to burn some vacation time?

    1. Just Here for the Cake*

      I took a week and a half off in October, since Halloween is my all time favorite holiday. It was amazing. I would have much preferred to be taking my honeymoon (COVID delayed my very gay wedding until next year), but it was still nice to recharge!

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I have 2 weeks off. Today is my last day before vacation, and I’m so happy. I need a break.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Same here (both with the vacation time and needing a break). I didn’t need to burn my vacation time (our unused time rolls over and, in fact, I’ll be rolling over a week), but this year has been a complete disaster – I need to just do nothing for awhile to get back to feeling halfway productive in the new year.

      2. Littorally*

        Same. I’m counting down the hours til my freedom! Even if it isn’t a vacation to travel and go interesting places, it’s still a chance to unplug, relax, and unwind.

    3. Paddling as fast as I can*

      I dont have to burn it but I am taking 23 and 24th off and of course through to December 28th. so looking forward to unplugging for a day before all the Christmas stuff and then having a few days after to rest up . I take two and three days over the year and run into the weekend it helps me recharge to just have days with nothing to do really needed them this year.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I’ve taken the 24th off, but thanks to bank holidays and my side jobs not needing me for a couple of weeks, I get five days off in a row! I’m so looking forward to it. Because I work weekends for my side jobs, I only get five days off in a row even if I take a full work week of leave, so this is a good break.

        I have a week off booked in February and about three days of leave left to take before April. Typically I try for a good chunk of time every quarter, since my weekends are not restful.

    4. Aggretsuko*

      LAST DAY OF SCHOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Taking two weeks off for me, thank gawd. I need it!

    5. Zephy*

      I’m taking all of the week after next off. I’m leaving work on Christmas Eve and not coming back until January 4th. And I am SO looking forward to it. They traditionally close campus a few hours early on Christmas Eve, too, so I’ll get home while it’s still light out, which will be nice.

    6. A Brew Yet*

      I know that I’m likely in the minority, but I was thrilled with the furlough weeks that happened at my workplace this summer. They were the best weeks that I’ve had in years. Absolutely no work (not getting paid to open that email), no travel or holiday to plan (can’t travel), no projects planned, nothing to do but relax. I hope that we are all able to recapture some of that in the next few weeks.

    7. Another JD*

      I was looking forward to being off the 23rd-4th. However, a client might want to appeal their case, which would mean their 16-page brief is due on the 5th so I’d have to be back in the office right after Christmas :(

    8. Retail Not Retail*

      I’ve worked one full week in December – my boss interpreted the rolling over of vacation hours quite differently than everyone else. If your boss approves the time, you can take it. Since he approves everything, take it!

      Whatever whatever this has been stressful with sexual harassment investigations and whatnot. Next week i’ll work one full day and then 2 hours next day and then off until the next Wednesday.

      Our thanks for keeping us running while we were closed was an extra week of vacation – so 3 weeks vacation and 7 personal days this year. Aw yeah

      1. Retail Not Retail*

        What makes the 2 hours kinda funny is we’re a public park so i could just… stay and walk around, playing pokemon go and doing redacted. “Have fun working! I’m going home and by home i mean here for another hour of not working!”

    9. allathian*

      Yeah, I’m taking the Christmas week off and my coworker is taking the New Year week off. I only have to use 3 days of PTO because I work for the government in a country with a state church, and everyone gets Dec 24 and 25 off this year, as well as Jan 1 next week. It’s great.

  7. Oh No She Di'int*

    I have a direct report who already does not have time to do her job and yet insists on taking new assignments.

    This is an employee who–in non-COVID times–has always done fairly good work. She currently has COVID related childcare issues which have greatly diminished her ability to get anything done.

    However, when asked “Do you have time to take on X?”, she will invariably say yes, regardless of whether or not that is true. Meanwhile once she takes on X, other major priorities of the job remain undone, which I usually only find out about weeks later when a deadline has been missed.

    My solution has been to be as clear as I can about what the major priorities are and to let her know that if she does not have time beyond these major priorities to please let me know that so that I can find another way to get the other work done. (Because she has fairly high level project management autonomy, I have generally taken her at her word when she says she has extra time to take on X.) This does not seem to have worked as she consistently insists that she has time to take on X only to find that other things aren’t getting done.

    My next step was simply to not offer her a choice. To simply get the work done in other ways until she is able to refocus and get the major priorities done. This has upset her, as she now feels that she is not being given the chance to do her full job. She is not wrong about this. But she also seems entirely unable to gauge her own capacity.

    Anybody else have a similar problem?

    1. Theory of Eeveelution*

      She’s afraid of losing her job during a pandemic. That is why she is scared of turning down work. If you know she can’t take on additional work, then why are you offering it to her? It seems like you’re intentionally setting her up for failure.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        As you can see in paragraph three above, I don’t always know when she does and does not have time. I often only find out about the case many weeks after the original assignments have been made. Then as you can see in my next to last paragraph, I did stop offering to her. This then upset her. My question is how to proceed in the face of that conundrum.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Just sit down and have a talk with her detailing what you said here – she’s dropping major balls in her workload, and on important tasks too not inconsequential things, so until she reprioritizes and completes her primary responsibilities up timely and up to a high standard, you won’t be giving her any new tasks.

          1. Ashley*

            Maybe remind her these are COVID times where everything is a bit odd and throw in any positive reassurances you are comfortable with. And then suggest you could add things back in once things are calmer and you have more reliability.

      2. Two Dog Night*

        That seems harsh–I think a lot of people (myself included) tend to take on too much work because they’re overly optimistic about their bandwidth, not because of fear.

        Oh No She Di’int, is it possible for her to update you more often on the progress of her major priorities, so you have a better handle on how much time she has available, instead of relying on her to tell you? That might seem like micromanagement to her, but I think your only other option is what you’re doing now–not giving her the option to say yes when she shouldn’t. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this–it must be very frustrating.

      3. pancakes*

        Why would someone think taking on work they can’t and don’t finish is going to help them keep their job, though? I mean, I can easily understand how anxiety could make that feel like a good idea, but further reflection should make clear that it really isn’t. If anything they are drawing more attention to their shortcomings than strictly necessary.

    2. Works in IT*

      As someone in almost her exact situation (not childcare, just our workload has exploded to the point that we could use three extra people) who has been forced to take the opposite route (dump some of my responsibilities on my salaried coworkers because I don’t have enough hours, decline opportunities for projects because again, time) I have to say, I know where she’s coming from. It really sucks to know that my coworkers are getting more opportunities than me. But, the thing to remember is, this will hopefully not last forever. Once people start to be vaccinated and the scope of the pandemic is reduced, either businesses will recover economically enough to hire more people, or the additional workload will be reduced, or I will be able to proudly apply for jobs saying see, I am dependable, I didn’t break down and I got all my work done.

      Does she want to be the dependable person who is able to get a massively increased workload of boring, critical, need to be done things accomplished, or does she want to be the person who does flashy impressive things poorly because there is no time? I chose the former, because being seen as dependable is far more important.

      1. Works in IT*

        Ah, forgot the most important part! Be sure to recognize her for getting her (reduced) workload completed. My manager is doing a good job of including “and thank you Works in IT for taking on all the grunt work that’s allowing your coworkers to work overtime to get the flashy projects done” in every recognition they give my coworkers, and it’s nice to know that I’m not being forgotten. Because of course there’s always the fear that if you’re forgotten, of course you will be the first person cut if needed.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      It sounds like you’ve talked to her one issue at a time as they’ve cropped up, but have you had a conversation about the entire pattern? Something like “Several times in recent months, you’ve taken on extra duties and assignments, and not all of your job duties have been completed while you were working on those projects. I understand how hard it can be to find time right now, and I want to be very realistic about what each member of our team is able to accomplish with the time they have to work with.” From there, you can start talking about the specifics of her regular job duties as compared to the extra responsibilities she’d like to take on and see if there’s any way to find balance. Make it clear that you’re not judging her or punishing her, you just want to make sure the work she’s being given isn’t to high a volume to handle in the time she has to work with.

        1. I edit everything*

          If you’ve had that conversation, then it’s time to follow up with consequences. “If balls continue to drop, then [consequence.]” And follow through. Even if it makes her upset. Consequences aren’t supposed to make people happy, after all.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        I can see the situation from the employee’s other side; a lot of people don’t think they can say “no” to the boss, and the employee is clearly one of those people. If there’s the slightest lack of trust, there’s no way to get through to the employee that saying “no” is an acceptable or even a desired outcome. So you’ll have to say “no” on your employee’s behalf.

        It might help to explain the process or take them on a tour of your thinking, but it also might not.

    4. I edit everything*

      As is often the case, a direct conversation seems to be called for.

      “This is happening. These are our priorities. Your job is secure.”

      Then segue into how you can support her, how she can support the department, that you need her to meet her commitments, etc.

    5. Insert Pseudonym Here*

      Yes, both pre-COVID and post-COVID. I’m a partner at an AmLaw 100 law firm, and younger attorneys in that environment tend to believe (and I think rightly) that they “can’t” say no because then the senior partners question their dedication to their job. COVID-shutdown just exacerbates the problem. I’ve had more than one conversation (again, both pre-COVID and post-COVID) about how I need to be able to rely on them to recognize when they can’t take on work, meet a deadline, or deliver satisfactory work within a deadline, and TELL ME NO. (Fortunately for me, given the size of our firm, I have options for finding someone to pick up a project if my first choice isn’t available — that likely doesn’t apply to your situation, alas).

      Because when they take on more than they can handle, and either blow a deadline or deliver subpart work product, that creates more work for me and puts me in a bad place with the people _I_ report to (the client, or a judge). I’ve had to be very explicit with some people about this — I don’t want to have to give you bad marks on the every-six-months reviews or even worse, decide I can’t direct work to them any more because I can’t rely on their ability to realistically assess what they can handle. This has worked with with some, but not with others.

    6. Anonforthis*

      have you had a high level conversation about this? does she still have the same amount of work on her plate that she did before pandemic/childcare issues? could you frame it as “let’s try this for 90 days and see how it goes” with giving her less assignments by default to give her some breathing room/time to get some stuff taken care of, and see if that’s a workable temporary solution — something that makes her feel like she’s not being downgraded, but you’re just temporarily taking some of the load off? it sounds like you’re doing the right thing by asking and trusting her to manage her time/speak up if she’s overloaded, but what’s happening right not doesn’t seem like it’s working for either of you.

    7. Sunrise*

      You mention that you’re not finding out about missed deadlines until very late in the game and after the deadline has been missed. Why is that? And can you check in more frequently on those items so you can spot potential problems early? Doing something like that might help to re-focus her work on these major priorities of the job, making it less likely that she’ll skip that work in favor of taking on additional items.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        This is where the rubber meets the road, and I think you are right about what needs to happen.

        1. Quinalla*

          Agreed this would help, I would also recommend more frequent check-ins. My team did daily check-ins previously because of the quick turnarounds on our projects and it is even MORE important now. We’ve also been pushing ourselves to be extremely candid when we are overwhelmed vs. full vs. under capacity and trusting that if we help out today and need help tomorrow, the team will be there. Not sure of your set up, but something similar may be of help. Some folks get in the mindset that they can’t ask for help and get caught in a spiral and suddenly things are way late and they haven’t made a peep!

    8. tiny cactus*

      I suspect that she’s having a hard time accepting that she’s not currently able to keep up her usual amount of productivity. There may be some wishful thinking going on where she thinks somehow she’ll be able to get it all done.

      Since it sounds like you’ve already talked to her about the pattern, I also wonder how you are presenting these requests. Does she normally tell you right on the spot if she has time or not? If so, if it works for your timeline, I wonder if you could give her a day to review her schedule for the next few weeks and then get back to you about how the timing works. Depending on how much coaching you want to do, you could also try to go over her schedule together. Maybe this kind of time management is something she’s not very experienced with, if she’s never been so busy she had to turn down assignments before.

    9. Longtime Lurker*

      One other suggestion you might consider is framing the question as “Do you have time to work on new assignment X or are you still full up with A, B, and C work?” – it shows that the existing tasks are valued and need to be completed before more can be added…

    10. Juneybug*

      I am going to come at this from a different approach – did the projects grow significantly larger than originally planned? Are you being realistic about the current workload?
      My last boss did this all the time and then wondered why basic tasks were not getting done. Spoiler alert – it’s cause you are killing me with unrealistic demands on top of too much work.

      True story example –
      Boss: Could you brief the IT team on current project?
      Me: What does that involve?
      Boss: You attend the next IT meeting where you give a 5 minute update.
      Me: Who will be at the meeting?
      Boss: Just the worker bees.
      Me: Are slides needed?
      Boss: Nope, just high level talking points.
      Me: Sure, I can do that.
      Boss: Great, I will send you the calendar invite. You will need to reach out to IT Team Supervisor to let him know you can give the briefing.

      Few days later –
      Boss: Hey, about that meeting…IT leadership is going to be there and they want a 20 minute presentation on current project. They want slides on why this project was started, current status, and what are the next steps. Of course, we will need to have a practice session or two before this meeting.
      Me: That was not original plan.
      Boss: I know but it still needs to be done.
      Me: That will put project #2 and project #3 out further. Is that ok?
      Boss: I was hoping project #2 would stay on track. But that’s ok with project #3. Or I can do the briefing on YOUR project.
      Me (internally screaming): No, I will do the briefing. I will knock out the slides, schedule the practice sessions, and keep working on project #2.
      Boss: I can schedule the practice sessions (said in happy voice like she’s doing me a huge favor).

      Next week:
      Boss: Why isn’t project #3 on track?
      Me: Because I had to stop working on that for the IT briefing. Do you remember we had that discussion?
      Boss: I remember but it was only a 20 minute briefing to IT. It shouldn’t have delayed the projects that much.
      Me (more internal screaming): That 20 minute briefing took a few hours to create the slides, I needed practice time before I presented to you during our practice sessions, you changed the slides a few times so I had to change my script, attend and present at said meeting, and of course, follow up with questions that I was unable to answer at meeting.
      Boss: Still, that was only a few hours so projects #2 and #3 should be on track. Can you get them back on track before I brief leadership this coming Monday?
      Me: It’s Thursday afternoon and I won’t be able to do because I still need to do basic tasks #1, #2, #3,etc.
      Boss: Oh, you haven’t already done those?
      Me: No, because I have been busy with the projects.
      Boss: You really need to knock those out. I brief leadership on basic tasks as well.
      Me (much more internally screaming): I am doing my best but there are so many hours in the work week.
      Boss: I will let leadership know that you are trying to catch up with basic tasks and projects.
      Me (giving up): Sure.
      And repeat, repeat, and repeat…

      So don’t be that boss! Because your employee will decide to quit without a job lined up and you will need to take over her work.
      PS I did quit and after a few weeks of recovery time, I am so much happier.

  8. Lumos*

    Currently trying to decide whether to accept a new job. My boss sucks here and is not going to change but this job has some great benefits and I’ve only been here 4 months :/ I have other long stays on my resume but trying to decide if it’s worth the risk of the new place being worse and then having to stay there anyway because I left here. New job would give about $300 extra a month.

    I’m going to talk to my mentor in the company about it but I am so torn and I need to give an answer today.

    1. Lumos*

      For context, my boss is a micromanager who gave me the silent treatment for two days because I got permission from above her to no longer cc her on every.single. Email. She’s also passive aggressive. Yay

      1. Observer*

        See if you can talk to someone at the new place. But, honestly your current situation is beyond ridiculous. Silent treatment? What is this? pre-school? And needing to CC her on on ALL of your email? When does she have time to work?

        Get out if you can. Don’t get hung up on “perfect”. Normal is good enough.

    2. Less Nosy*

      Do you have any reason to think that the new place would be worse? Did they give any red flags while you were interviewing? Your boss giving you the silent treatment would be a good enough reason to want to get out of there! Also, I agree with Alison when she says one short stay won’t hurt you if you have longevity elsewhere. You could even leave this current job off your resume.

      1. Anonforthis*

        especially during 2020 – if there was ever a year when a short stint wouldn’t hurt your resume, it’s this year. do what you need to do. your relationship w/ your manager isn’t going to change, it’s likely just going to further deteriorate from here, and that will be a hindrance to you in the future in this company if you stay.

        1. Cassidy*

          >if there was ever a year when a short stint wouldn’t hurt your resume, it’s this year.

          Excellent point!

    3. AndersonDarling*

      I’m in the process of interviewing because my manager changed and it’s made my job miserable. I’ve been struggling with the same scenarios…I’ve only been here 7 months, but I know things will not change…I have some good benefits, but a different job would bring back the joy in my work and that is a big benefit.
      Last night I imagined myself in one of the jobs I am in line for and I realized that working with a good team (manager) is at the core of what I’m seeking. It’s still weird to leave a job so soon, but you gotta keep trying to find the right fit. There is no reason to make yourself miserable just to have a better blip on your resume.

    4. Student Affairs Sally*

      An extra $3600 a year alone would make a pretty significant difference at least at my income level, but if you’re already making really good money that obviously doesn’t carry as much weight. Do you have reason to believe this place would be worse (Glassdoor reviews, red flags in the interview process, people in your network who are familiar with the org)? If not, I would say take the risk, because your current situation sounds pretty awful.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        An extra $3600 a year alone would make a pretty significant difference at least at my income level, but if you’re already making really good money that obviously doesn’t carry as much weight.

        I was about to say – I would not leave a steady job right now, no matter how petty my boss was being, for only $3,600 extra a year. The way my risk tolerance is set up, if I’m taking a leap in the middle of a pandemic and recession into a workplace that may or may not be worse than where I already am, I’d need at least $10k more a year. (To put things in perspective, I left my last position where I was just really bored for a $14,500 raise in my base salary – with bonuses included, it’s about a $20k increase).

        1. Student Affairs Sally*

          $3,600 is almost 10% of my current salary, so it would be fairly significant for me, but education is not known for their high salaries and I’m still fairly early in my career. I just started a new job last month that only pays about $1,200 more than my last job – but it’s a slightly cheaper COL area, and the decision was about much more than money for me. I was also miserable in my last job (awesome boss, bad organization, and I had grown beyond the role). So everyone’s calculation is different, but it sounds like OP is also pretty miserable.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Right – I was agreeing with you and expanding on that point quoted. OP may decide the cost benefit analysis makes sense to move on right now – even considering the pandemic and the less than robust employment landscape – because the pettiness of her boss is just too much to take and the $3,600 may make that risk tolerable. I would just think long and hard, OP, about the whole picture before making any moves right now – the silent treatment, while ridiculous and annoying, isn’t life-threatening. You also have good benefits, which I assume means health included, and that’s critical right now in the middle of a pandemic.

            Just don’t leap into the frying pan and potentially lose these things because of one person (who may end up somewhere else considering her boss already checked her about having you copy her on everything – boss may realize some not so flattering things about your manager that may make her not your manager anymore at some point). If you do decide to move on, make sure the new company’s benefits or on par with or better than what you currently have.

    5. Magical Unicorn of Change*

      It would be hard for me to be objective so let me just give you my perspective. I took a job out of fear of not finding anything better, knowing I interviewed with a manager who looked down her nose at me for not having a degree, for being from NY, and who knows why else… The pay was good and the benefits the best I’ve ever seen…

      Now it’s 5 years later and I’m struggling to get through the day… My manager is not petty like yours but generally treats me like a temp in that she only reaches out to me when she needs something and does not share any information beyond what is needed to complete the task. Otherwise I’m completely ignored. I’m not part of a team in anyway and while I used to pride myself on “not letting it get to me” it’s hard not to feel beaten down by it. At my annual reviews I have brought up being underutilized… And she offers to give me a reference to work elsewhere. I offer to work with others and she wants them to be self sufficient. I’m left with grunt work no one else wants to do.

      I would seriously consider taking a chance on another job since your manager has already shown you who she is. She will not change and it will likely not get better, likely it’ll get worse. I wish I would have left sooner, now I’m waiting for the job market to get better once the pandemic passes. I would take a chance at getting what you want, where you are now isn’t it, maybe this new place is. Best of luck!

    6. Pond*

      Any chance (if you haven’t already) that you could speak with at least one of your potential coworkers who would be at your level/reporting to the same manager/on the same team? That could be a way to ask and find out about your potential boss’ management and personal style from the perspective of someone in the situation.
      Asking what the day-to-day, atmosphere, typical hours, level of formality, etc. are like, how have they adjusted to the pandemic, level of autonomy each person has, are there frequent meetings, etc. – basically any general questions about the job and office – should help you get a feel without directly asking whether its a great or terrible place to work.

    7. Birdie*

      Honestly, four months might be a short enough stint that you can just leave it off your resume entirely.

      Have you seen red or yellow flags from the new place? I think if you’ve done due diligence on the new company and haven’t found anything alarming, don’t let anxiety about the unknown stop you. I had that worry when I left my last job – the office was a complete mess, but my direct supervisor was good and I didn’t take that for granted. Ultimately, though, I hadn’t seen any red flags at the new place, so I figured odds were good that it couldn’t be worse than my current office, and taking that bet seemed more appealing than continuing to go everyday into an environment I *knew* was bad. (It was a good bet, btw. No regrets on bailing.)

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Tom Cruise yelled at two crew members who were standing less than six feet apart this week on set of Mission Impossible 7 or 8, I don’t know. He went into a really long, angry rant that’s been published in a couple of papers where he goes on about how he’s fought to keep the production running and that people can’t be bothered to pay attention to basic safety protocols like standing the correct distance apart. Five crew members have quit in the last few days according to the tabloids.

        1. Maggie*

          I mean he’s kinda right, but listening to the recording of that, I might have quit too. Its not like he actually cares about covid prevention, he just doesn’t want his insurance shutting his production down. So I’d say NOT a good management style, but when you’re Tom Cruise I think you do what you want and the chips fall where they may.

          1. Cassidy*

            >Its not like he actually cares about covid prevention, he just doesn’t want his insurance shutting his production down.

            Has he said that?

        2. Dasein9*

          Ah. Yes, safety protocols are super important.
          So is human dignity and we can enforce safety protocols without treating people badly.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. Seems to me he only cares about keeping the production going rather than worrying about the health and well-being of the crew.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Not exactly. Bale was just an actor on the production when he had his tirade, and his tirade was about himself.
            Cruise is the producer of the film as well as in it. He’s the actual boss, and his tirade is about safety protocols. He’s hugely problematic for a number of reasons, and the way he went about this is not great even if his primary point was actually good. But I would not categorize this as like what Bale did.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      At the very least, I think some harder edge approaches can work–might even be preferable–in environments like movie sets where people can literally be killed by things like falling lights and whatnot, that might be out of place in, say, an ad agency. I’m not sure that ever justifies screaming at people–but a “firmer” hand is probably more appropriate in some settings than others.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      But he’s not really their manager.

      Oh, he’s an “executive producer”, but he’s not responsible for day-to-day management. That’s the job of the production manager, if I remember how Hollywood works. And there are a half-dozen unions involved in this as well, most likely.

      So he’s got the freedom to make those big statements, but he doesn’t have to deal with the fallout. Suppose a camera operator doesn’t wear a mask and gets fired. Cruise isn’t interviewing the replacements, he’s not juggling the budget if the new guy has a higher rate, etc.

      There’s nothing wrong with the sentiment behind it – our industry is getting hammered by this, we owe it to our colleagues to do it the right way, etc. But he’s in a position where he can demand attention without the obligation of following through.

    3. Dream Jobbed*

      I do have to admit when I first saw it I totally got it. I have an employee who doesn’t believe in Covid and even though they have signed documents swearing they will always be masked at work, tends to wander around without the mask. Yes, I am to the point where I am ready to start screaming. (I won’t, been on the receiving end too much, but I want to.)

      But now it appears to be purposely released to gain publicity for the movie. (Maybe, maybe not. A lot of criticism towards his religion tends to taint some of the complaints. And from personal experience, I also do not care for his religion, but I don’t base my entire opinion of him on it.)

      I don’t think managers should ever yell or curse like that (obviously – I’m here trying to learn!) But in terms of management faux pas IF this is sincere and not a stunt, I find it a lot more forgivable than say taking their stimulus checks. :D And honestly, with some of the horrible behavior I am seeing from people who just don’t seem to care about other people, I can totally see a caring person losing it like this.

    4. Meh*

      I say con due to the fact that he’s chewing out everybody and is making a big public spectacle of shaming everyone on the crew. He’s like the bosses that berate their staff in front of the whole office. He could have pulled the crew members aside and asked them to do the same thing privately and treated them with dignity rather than like children that need to be scolded. Sometimes you need to put your foot down and lay down the law (especially when it comes to safety), but throwing a tantrum just makes you look like a drama llama. If the crew aren’t willing to safety guidelines after a private warning, replace them.

    5. HRBee*

      I don’t think I’d call it a management style. From an HR standpoint, obviously huge con. You can’t just go around screaming/cursing at people no matter what they’re doing. From a human-pandemic fatigue-why can’t people just be good humans and protect each other standpoint, keep on keeping on Tom! Is it a stunt? Maybe. But COME ON. Just follow the guidelines and protocols and 1. you keep yourself and others safe and 2. Tom Cruise doesn’t yell at you.

    6. PX*

      Gonna come down on slight con. Could have been done better, and likely more borne out of frustration and worrying about the cost to him rather than any real concern for his staff – although in this case, they are kind of the same thing.

      Interesting to see how it contrasts with Tyler Perry who apparently has done a much better job at his studios in terms of setting up ways for employees to live in a large bubble and seems to genuinely care about the welfare of his people first and then the logistics of making movies second.

    7. Gloria*

      We have no idea what his “management style” is. What we have is one single incident that has been massively over-publicised, and blown out of all proportion, during a global pandemic. We don’t know what happened prior to that incident. We don’t know how typical it is. We don’t know anything actually useful in making a judgement.

    8. Anonymous Hippo*

      If my boss yelled at me and cussed me out, regardless of what I had done (aside from something like almost backing up over an infant) I would quit. So I’d say really bad on the management style.

    9. RagingADHD*

      For a Scientologist, it’s better than the David Miscavage management style – at least he didn’t punch them in the face or have them dragged off to “The Hole.”

      For film/tv in general, screaming & cursing at the cast or crew is very traditional but fortunately becoming frowned upon since the advent of smartphones that can record.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        David had to start somewhere.

        From what I have read Scientology is all about controlling the emotions. I guess Tom could use a refresher course.

        I am with others who said they would have quit right there. Regardless of how correct he is that does not mean he can behave in any manner he chooses. I refuse to listen to f-bomb loaded tirades.

  9. Managerrrr*

    Hi everyone! I’d love some quick advice. I have to give an employee a terrible review today (in a couple of hours) that shouldn’t come as a surprise based on how often the person screws up, forgets assignments, misses deadlines, etc. But it probably will be a surprise because it’s the first “come to Jesus” meeting I’ve had with this person. Advice for how to start the conversation and soften the blow?

    1. TextHead*

      Start with some positives. You don’t want them leaving the meeting thinking they are doing a 100% bad job. If you start with the negatives and give some positives later, they won’t hear it. Also, give clear feedback on how they can improve and let them know you’re wanting to see them succeed, so the feel supported.

      Good luck!

      1. MissGirl*

        I would do this if it were a review meeting but not for this kind of meeting. This person may only hear the positives and not realize how serious it’s. Be clear about the problems, the consequences and next steps. This person’s job is in jeopardy and you do them no favors in softening the message.

        Let us know how it goes.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          Agree, don’t do a compliment sandwich. You can end the meeting with “I believe that you can accomplish these things” (if you in fact do), but otherwise you’re not going to inspire that “oh sh*t I need to do better” moment with mixed messages.

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      Are you sure softening the blow is a good idea?

      I ask because if you do a positive sandwich, which is my preferred method for giving negative feedback, then the person might not take on board what you need them to.

      However, saying that, to start the conversation you could try:

      “So in the past we’ve spoken about X, Y, and Z issues, and I’d like to use this time today to circle back to that and give you some feedback on the things I’ve noticed.”

    3. A Simple Narwhal*

      I wouldn’t try to soften the blow too much – you can be compassionate, but it’s really important that they know that this is a big deal that requires change. If you soften that message it may result with them thinking it’s not as big of a deal as you need them to know it is.

    4. AppleStan*

      My first piece of advice would be…don’t try to soften the blow.

      Come to Jesus meetings are not meant to be comfortable. You don’t have to be an *sshole, but you should be professional.

      Lay out the specific dates, incidents, examples of the bad performance (ideally at least some of this should have been addressed in the moment, but it is understandable that the “pattern” of poor performance may not have been presented before now). If this is not normal for the employee, ask if there is something affecting their performance that hadn’t been addressed before. Reiterate what successful performance for the position looks like, then tell them specifically that you need for them to be able to achieve that performance.

      Set timelines and clear, concrete explanations of what the goals are in order for the employee as to what needs to be accomplished to get themselves out of the hole.

      Most importantly, be clear about the consequences of not meeting the performance goals in a timely fashion. Is the next step a PIP (or is this the PIP)? Are they going to be allowed to take vacation or work remotely while they are working on performing successfully? Could they be fired (or more importantly, WILL they be fired if they don’t succeed at this).

      Just be clear and be factual. Leave no room for interpretation.

      No worries…you got this!

    5. Whatever*

      These are no fun at all! It sounds like at this point you probably shouldn’t soften the blow. Clear is kind. Be clear and specific and try to steer away from any softening language that might mix up the message.

    6. Observer*

      I hate to break this to you, but you should not be focusing on how to soften the blow.

      Don’t be cruel or mean. If she has genuine issues, be as sympathetic as you can. But you need to be CRYSTAL clear about the issues and she needs to understand the full import of that.

      1. Disco Janet*

        I agree with what most are saying. Be professional and courteous, but starting with positives or using the dreaded “compliment sandwich” is not going to help. It is always better to rip, or rather gently pull, the band aid off. Also, please don’t try to get the person to guess what they have done wrong. I have experienced that and it is much worse than just being straightforward.

        1. Observer*

          Also, please don’t try to get the person to guess what they have done wrong.

          This! 1,000 x over.

          That does not soften the blow – it makes it exponentially worse.

    7. cleo*

      I think Tim Gunn of Project Runway is a great model for how to give difficult feedback. He’s very honest and straight forward and he radiates this attitude of “I want you to succeed” which makes it easier for his mentees to hear his feedback

    8. Ellie Mayhem*

      Are you using the term “review” as in an annual review? If so, why is this the first meeting you’re having with them about their performance? It sounds like there are significant and longstanding issues, so I’m wondering why these haven’t been addressed as they come up?

      1. Managerrrr*

        You’re right, and this is the part I’m a little panicked about. I’m a fairly new manager and this is a long-time employee with a history of subpar performance that no one has ever addressed before. This is the first review I’ve given them. Sometimes the employee does things well, and even impresses me, which has made me look at the errors and say, “Ok, well, maybe they’re improving and I just need to watch and wait.” But in recent months, there have been so many incidents of completely dropping the ball that I feel compelled to capture everything in the annual review, which is due by year end. I know I haven’t done great with immediate feedback, and I’m working to fix that. But I’m kind of against a wall with the timing of the review and the need to document and address some very real issues. I can’t really give them a “meets expectations” review, because it’s really far off base.

        1. allathian*

          Ouch. This is bad management (caveat: I’m not a manager and have no desire to be a manager), but I hope that however the meeting goes, what you take away from it is that you need to give more continuous feedback about where the employee is failing to meet expectations, and also remember to give positive feedback when they do meet or even exceed expectations, rather than using those occasions as an excuse to avoid giving corrective feedback when necessary. Especially if you’re a new manager and nobody’s ever given them any corrective feedback before, this is going to come right out of left field. The timing could hardly be worse. If this person celebrates Christmas, you’re probably going to ruin it for them.

          I would be really interested in knowing how the meeting went.

          1. Managerrrrr*

            The meeting went well, considering. The employee was surprised but acknowledged their frequent forgetfulness and couldn’t deny dropping the ball multiple times (per the examples I gave). They were a little defensive, a little emotional, but overall handled it well. I do feel bad because it totally sucked to do it, but at the same time, this is an employee who purposely procrastinated on tasks until someone else was forced to do it and intentionally dumped work on others. My team has been super frustrated with them, so I didn’t feel I could let it go any longer. I am going to focus on giving more direct, frequent feedback going forward.

            1. pcake*

              If the employee claims forgetfulness, can you ask the employee to use something like Google calendar to remind him by email or his phone calendar to remind the employee via text? Even if the problem isn’t really their memory, it will address the claim.

              Thanks for the update.

        2. Middle Manager*

          I’ve been in your shoes. My very first time supervising, I started with a long term employee with significant issues that had intentionally been ignored by her previous supervisors/managers. I too didn’t jump on it right away. Obviously you can’t go back a few months now and fix that, but my advice would be to be straight forward about it now and not soften this blow at all. As others above said, it’s fine to kind on a personal level, but the message needs to be clearly received that the issues are serious and need to be addressed. If they, like my poor performer, haven’t been hearing that message for a long time, it’s going to be easy for them to write it off as one-off feedback, because it literally is. The clearer you can be that it isn’t passing concern, the better.

    9. germank106*

      There is no need to soften the blow. You can spend a few minutes on small talk and then go right into the reason for the meeting. Lay out each problem calmly. The employee might well be aware that they are struggling, so listen for cues that tell you that. You should also clearly state your expectations going forward and set a firm and realistic timeline. If wouldn’t necessarily put them on a PIP since this is the first meeting about their issues, but I would let them know that a PIP will be coming soon if you don’t see real improvement within the time frame you have outlined.
      I think key is to be very clear about the problem, the expectations you have and the possible consequences if the performance doesn’t improve. Don’t let tears or hysterics distract you. If the employee gets upset by what you say offer her a few minutes to pull herself together, but continue the conversation.

      1. Bostonian*

        All of this, and I would add definitely lay out a detailed action plan to get this person back on track. They will feel much better about the constructive criticism if they feel like they have a direction forward to turn things around.

    10. Totally Minnie*

      I took a supervisor class years and years ago. One thing the instructor said to me that has stuck in my mind all this time is that sometimes, the kindest thing you can do for a person is to tell them a hard truth in the most respectful way you can. So I’ll agree with the people who are telling you not to worry too hard about softening the blow. Just be honest and respectful and give your employee clear instructions and expectations.

      Good luck! I know this will be hard for both of you, but you’ll be okay.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “It’s MY job to help you keep YOUR job. Sometimes this means talking about subjects that can feel difficult at first. Keep in mind the whole point of talking is to find solutions. Finding solutions can include figuring out what materials or information you need that you are not receiving.”

        Then go down the list.
        “X is happening, when actually Y should be happening. What can be done to change this?” [Talk about it.]

        “Next A is happening when actually B should be happening. What can be done here to change this scenario?” [Talk about it.]

        Watch how they participate in the discussion. If they are not actively involved to some degree, watch out. This is a person who has checked out or unplugged. Make it clear that this is their chance to salvage the situation with a workable long term plan.

  10. Been There*

    Hi all. Just getting down on myself. I got a covid layoff in early September and I’m in a always a bridesmaid, but never a bride scenario. I’ve gotten to the final round at least 5 times (losing count), but I’m never the one chosen. I know there are a thousand reasons why that can be. I usually don’t get specific feedback.

    But the state is messing with my unemployment, and my savings are running low, so I’m starting to panic. I’ve wanted to temp, but I’m not seeing that as an option during the pandemic. Is anyone temping now to get by?

    1. Forkeater*

      Don’t be down on yourself! There are a lot of people looking for work and very few places hiring. The fact you made it to the final stage means you’re doing the right things.

      I can’t speak to temping but I did just land a small contract job with a former employer. I think the economy means there are hiring freezes and places can’t hire fulltime staff but the work needs to get done – so they need temps or contractors (and if the economoy turns around those could turn fulltime).

    2. CostAlltheThings*

      I think temping is very industry specific right now. We can’t get keep enough temps in manufacturing where I am

    3. cleo*

      I’m working on a contract through a temp agency right now. I started in late summer, during the pandemic. I say go for it. I was in a similar situation to you a couple years ago – lots of second interviews but no offers. A former colleague suggested contract work through temp / staffing agencies. It took me awhile to figure out how to market myself for temp agencies but I’m glad I stuck with it because getting my first contract kind of saved my family.

      I’m sure it’s industry specific. I’m in the web / digital marketing space and contract work and contract to hire is very common anyways. The corporation I’m placed at right now has hired a lot of contractors for web dev / marketing operations since the pandemic started. There’s a corporate hiring freeze but that doesn’t include contractors. And there’s renewed interest in using digital services, so my department is scrambling to meet the need.

      The thing that worked for me was to make my LinkedIn profile as friendly to recruiters as possible and to turn on the setting that shows recruiters that I was available. I also deliberately decided to target any type of work that I was already qualified for within my general field that I thought I could do.

      I’m a web / UX designer but I was not getting hired for those positions. My first temp job was a 2 month contract as a front end developer building fundraising emails for a big nonprofit. I was definitely overqualified and it wasn’t close to a dream job but I was desperate. And doing that gig led to more opportunities that are closer to my desired field.

    4. Former Retail Lifer*

      My mom has found remote temp work pretty easily. This is despite the fact that she was out of the “traditional” workforce for 30 years while running her own small business. She’s had several short-term assignments and within a week or two found another one.

  11. Just Venting, but will accept helpful advice*

    OMGs, will this guy stahp? Sexist, micromanaging, overstepping goalpost-shifting blowhard punctuates it all with nasal, ear-spasming “aaaahhhhhhhhhhs.”

    1. TimeTravlR*

      Let me get some popcorn and then do dish some more!!! (Advice will depend on a little more detail … sorry!)

    2. Grits McGee*

      Gamify it!
      -Sexist buzzword bingo!
      -“Ahhhhhhhh” per sentence tally!
      -Points system for micromanaging behaviors!
      Insists on being cc’d on an email he has no business being cc’d on? That’s a point! Holds up a critical communication to quibble over verb tense? That’s 1 point per unnecessary email exchanged discussing it!

      1. HeyPony*

        Holds up a critical communication to quibble over verb tense? That’s 1 point per unnecessary email exchanged discussing it!

        I think we work together :)

  12. Mella*

    How long is reasonable to wait when your boss tells you they are trying to get you advancement opportunities? Assume there is no system in place at the moment, this is the first time the department has grown beyond two people in this company.

    1. LTL*

      Ask your boss what the timeline would look like for advancement opportunities. If she says that she can’t give you a timeline right now, ask when it would be a good time to follow up.

      If you’re boss gives a timeline and doesn’t stick to it, ask her for an updated one, and if she doesn’t stick to that one, I wouldn’t trust any promises of advancement. If you follow up and she still doesn’t have a timeline, ask again when you should next follow up, and if she still doesn’t have a timeline, I wouldn’t trust any promises.

      I was promised advancement opportunities for a couple years at my last job (unfortunately, I accepted extra work before I read Alison’s advice to get the promotion before taking on the additional responsibilities that are supposed to come with said promotion- “we want to try this out and see if it works first” is what I was told). Even when I resigned, my boss said that it was unfortunate since I would eventually have been in line to be a manager for a new team, related to the new work I was doing.

      Mind you, I was shown much appreciation and was given a significant merit raise (it was significant if I was in the same role, but not a promotion level raise) and they did give me an extra bonus when I resigned for my work. But I would just keep my eye out. I’d also look at how your company and boss handles things in general. My boss was known for making things sound prettier than they were as a general rule, and my department was notorious for lack of advancement and pay.

    2. PX*

      I would give it 3-6 months before following up, and if the second meeting doesnt have any kind of tangible progress or commitment then I’d start thinking about moving on.

      Although it depends what advancement means to you. Different kind of work? Title change? Raise? Are you okay with getting one or some of those things without the others? I’d focus on being really clear about exactly what advancement means, and then trying to pin down a timeframe for it.

    3. Nesprin*

      2x 1:1 meetings or 2 months. extra points for bringing training class info of things you’d want to take

  13. Frustrated Anon*

    My boss has trust issues and always wants us to check in with her. If I’m just working and trying to get stuff done, if I didn’t talk to her that day she’ll say, “Anon, I didn’t talk to you all day.” (I didn’t have anything urgent or due, so I don’t know what she wanted to talk about. She didn’t set a meeting up, she just likes to check in a lot.)

    I was moving boxes to another part of the building (which is part of my job) and my boss saw me. “What are those? What are you doing? Where are you going?” she asked.

    I explained what they were and what I was doing.

    I feel like I’m being baby-sat. I know that she had issues with the people in the position before me, so I know that it isn’t personal, but I feel like I’m being suffocated. (I had more freedom while working as a teenager for pete’s sake! This is ridiculous!)

    Is this supposed to happen in the workplace? Is there anything to do besides finding a new position and leaving?

    1. Observer*

      No, this shouldn’t be happening. But you can give her more communications that you are.

      What is her favorite form of communications? Whatever it is, you could be proactive in regularly shooting her short messages like “FYI, Going to move the moon rocks from the landing pad to the storage building.” “FYI, half the moon rocks moved. Will finish tomorrow”. “FYI, Moon rocks moved. Going to paint the bathroom.”

      Should you NEED to do this? No. Will it be better than having her constantly complaining that you don’t talk to her and constantly questioning what you are doing? I think so. Also, hopefully it will bore her so much that she’ll realize that she doesn’t need all of this running commentary.

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        Agreed. You can adapt the daily standup from Agile for this:
        What I did yesterday, in 2-3 sentences.
        What I plan to do today, in 2-3 sentences.
        Option: here are issues I’ve run into that I can’t resolve myself.

        Do this via phone, Slack, email, whatever medium works.

      2. lemon*

        this is good advice, unfortunately (unfortunate because, you know, no one should have to deal with micromanagers like this in an ideal world.)

        The worst micromanager I worked for wanted constant updates all day long. She’d give me an assignment and then call me a half hour later and ask, “Is it done yet?” and just do that all day long. To get her off my back, I started emailing her status reports at the end of the day with a tally of all my tasks:
        -Phone calls answered: 15
        -Emails sent: 30
        -Teapot orders shipped: 60
        -Finished painting the blue teapots today. Will paint yellow ones tomorrow.

        That seemed to allay her anxiety and cut down on the constant checking-in A LOT. She basically left me alone to do my job all day once I started the status reports. Of course, it was easy for me to use this format because I had a job that had pretty clearly defined metrics, so definitely make sure to think of what metrics make sense for your role. Or, if there really aren’t any, Evil Twin’s modified Agile standup is a great idea.

    2. Grits McGee*

      In a similar situation, I found it helpful (for both her trust issues and my sanity) to figure out ways to proactively share with her what I was planning to do in my work. My job involved working solo on long-term projects, so I spent lots of time creating detailed project plans, drafts of final deliverables, etc, and gave her lots of opportunities to “approve” of what I was doing.

      I wasted lots of time that could have been spent doing useful work, but it did help preserve the increasingly strained relationship I had with my supervisor. Not enough to make me want to work with her long-term. but enough to give me the emotional energy to find another position with someone more reasonable. :)

      If you are doing more on-off tasks, maybe checking in with your to-do list for the day might be helpful?

    3. Proud Beagle Mom*

      I’m so sorry you’re in such a frustrating situation, Anon! I’ve been there before and it can make the day miserable. If you know your boss to be a reasonable person, I would maybe ask her about outright and say, “I noticed you want me to constantly update you on my work throughout the day. Is there something about my performance that’s concerning you?” Maybe that will get her to back off.

      If you don’t want to bring it up outright, consider taking an approach where you act confused at the boss’s statement and say something like, “Were we supposed to have a check-in today?” or “I was buried in the Ninja Report all day and then had to move these boxes quickly. Was I supposed to be prioritizing something else?”

      Good luck and hang in there!

  14. Newly ADHD diagnosed*

    After losing my 6th job in 10 years (I have an MBA), I took a good hard look at myself, and did the legwork, and got an ADHD diagnosis. At age 41. Starting medication this week.

    Is there any point to going back to previous work managers or co-workers and explaining my deficiency ? If so, how to do this?
    If not, any advice with moving forward as a good/better employee….I am finally feeling like if I make New Year’s Resolutions I would be able to stick to them!
    Any advice on what kind of jobs might be good for me? I like big picture high ideas kind of stuff, but it seems the doing-the-details work is the only stuff I’m qualified for, and let’s just say…. it hasn’t been a great fit in the past :(

    I’d like to feel my path is wide open again, but where am I headed and how to know?

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I wouldn’t bother going back to old employers/co-workers, unless you think that context is going to really make a difference. Like maaaybe if the last person you worked with tried really really reallllly hard to make things work for you, maybe it would make them feel better to know that they there were things outside of your control, but honestly I’m not sure I really think it’s a good idea, unless maybe that person was a mentor or someone you were really close to and will keep in contact with.

      Maybe if you have references that you know always have to give an asterisk to their recommendations, you could tell them how you’ve fixed the past issues, but honestly I wouldn’t really do any of that, I would just focus on being a really strong employee moving forward.

      Congrats on getting a diagnosis!

    2. Person from the Resume*

      I can’t imagine what outcome you expect from telling previous work managers or co-workers. You’ve moved one and they’ve moved on. If someone did this to me, I’d really be confused by how to respond because the situation is in the past and for me, resolved by you no longer being employed.

    3. Spearmint*

      I’m in a similar boat (though I’m in my late-20s). I was recently diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and started medication just this year.

      On being a better employee, the biggest thing I’ve realized is that the medication is extremely helpful but isn’t a miracle cure on its own. It needs to be combined with other strategies for staying organized and focused. Some things that have worked for me:

      – Writing notes and organizing and tracking projects by hand in a notebook, *not* on a computer of phone.
      – The Pomodoro method. I highly recommend the Forest app for this if you have an iPhone (not sure if it’s on android).
      – Listening to white noise or instrumental music (lyrics are distracting) on noise cancelling headphones.
      – Forcing myself to not turn in any major project until I have a day, or at least a few hours, to set it aside and come back for one final review (when possible).

      As for the types of jobs, I’m not sure but I can realte. I’m most qualified for very detail-oriented jobs, and I do ok at them, but I’m also very much a big picture, conceptual thinker. It seems like you have spend a good chunk of your career working detail-oriented jobs before more strategic, high level jobs are open to you. If anyone else has ideas on this, though, I’d be interested to hear it.

      1. Banana Naan*

        I’ve tried the Forest App, and I think Focus Keeper is a better one. It automatically resets the timer when you finish and gives five minute breaks in between. I miss the trees, but Focus Keeper is cheaper and I’ve stuck with it every day.
        Ditto on notebooks. I’ve bounced around planners and notebooks for a while before settling on the $10 weekly planners at Target.

      2. RagingADHD*

        This is a hugely important point!

        Medication will NOT make your brain work like a neutotypical brain. It doesn’t erase your ADHD.

        Meds allow you to actually use your tools more consistently and effectively- they do not replace sleep, alarms/reminders, or lists.

        Meds help you switch tasks so you can wind down for bed on time. They help you notice the alarm that’s going off & remember what it’s for. They help you follow through with writing down your to do list, and actually doing some of the things on it, instead of flinging your hands up in frustration.

        Most of all, just having the dx frees you from the wierd denial/shame spiral that tells you “I don’t need to write this down,” or “I shouldn’t need this much support, I’m not a kid.” Accepting that you do need supports/tools, and that those tools help you be successful, makes a huge difference.

    4. Ferrina*

      Congrats on your diagnosis! I agree with Narwhal- it depends who you are going back to. If it’s someone who was heavily invested in your growth, sure, but otherwise no.

      I’m ADHD too, and I’ve found smaller organizations to be helpful (50-100 people). Often people wear many hats, which can help stimulate the ADHD brain. I gravitate towards project management because there’s always a new aspect and I thrive when I can multitask.

      I also recommend setting up regular check-in times with yourself. ADHD often requires both medication and behavioral support (like reminders and calendars), and finding the exact management strategies for you is often a long process. Give a process a try and set a time to check in with yourself. Be really honest- what am I doing well? Where am I struggling? Are there personal organization systems that could help me succeed? Is the system that I’m currently using working?
      My ADHD quirk is that I switch prioritization systems every 3-6 months. First I’ll have an Excel doc of projects, then I’ll have a handwritten note of my weekly calendar, then I’ll have a typed to-do list that gets updated daily….I’ve never found an exact system that clicks with me for more than a few months, but the system of switching systems works for me.

    5. knitter*

      Your question about reaching out to previous managers is really interesting. I really struggled in two jobs and there were two things in play (1) untreated mental health issues and (2) the types of job was not a fit for me.
      My manager, Kay, at the first of the two jobs is now working at the same organization that I am at now. I used her as a reference to get the job at the second place I struggled in. If I run into Kay, I might have a conversation with her. MIGHT. She made a lot of mistakes managing me (one example, in the years since I’ve left, our former company has added at least two positions to cover the work I did. Kay tried to convince me that I could do my full work load in a 40 hour week). I think I might just weave into our conversation what I like about my current job…especially the things that are different from my former job).
      For the second job I struggled in, I would never talk to them and am considering leaving it off my resume going forward.

      I’d ask yourself why you want to talk to former managers? Do you need them as a reference? If so, I might say something general about being recently diagnosed with AD/HD and have sought treatment. But even if they know this, they should only comment on the quality of your work while managing you. Unless you have some sort of connection to the organization, I wouldn’t. I’d find that odd if someone I have supervised in the past reached out out of the blue to give me their mental health diagnosis. I think your best bet to address your work history is in an interview.

      All that said, I totally understand the impulse. It is REALLY hard to know that there are people in the world who remember you as someone who was fired, especially when you finally have a reason.

      You also have a long road ahead of you–I hope besides medication you are working with a mental health professional or have some sort of support group. Medication makes that first step so much easier, but it is a marathon when it comes to changing your habits. It helps to have someone to check-in with.

      As for jobs, since you feel like you are only qualified for the more detailed oriented jobs, think about the conditions in which you have successfully completed detailed work. Do you need longer deadlines? Do you need shorter deadlines. Do you do better when you collaborate with peers? While I don’t have an AD/HD diagnosis, often depression and anxiety (which I do have) presents as such. So I know I do well when I have weekly check-in meetings with my team as an accountability measure and less projects. I need a lot of thinking time because I can often take a while to get started. I also need to have specific routines and work hard to set realistic routines. So I’ll take an hour to make a plan for the week and set a goal. I identify all my projects and break them into steps. I’ll identify which steps I’m going to focus on in a given day and identify when I’ll work on them. This serves two purposes–I can be incredibly unrealistic as to what I can accomplish in a given day and will beat myself up when I don’t meet the goal. So this helps prevent that. Also setting a goal helps me feel “done” with the day now that we’re working from home. I can’t end my day by leaving work.

      I hope this helps. Congratulations on doing the work to get your diagnosis and move forward with positivity!!!

    6. Doctor is In*

      Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to send an email to any past managers you liked, letting them know of your diagnosis and that you are addressing it, with a gentle apology for difficulties it caused them. Perhaps could open doors/soften references they give? Best wishes!

    7. LQ*

      Congratulations, it sounds like you’re on a good track.

      For the kinds of jobs thing… I get the big picture high ideas stuff (weirdly it’s the job I’ve got now) you need a strong complementary skill to go with that so I’d look at what your partner skill is or could be. If you’re really good with people, consider sales. (It doesn’t sound big picture, but depending on what you are selling you are selling and helping form big pictures, look at good saas kinds of sales places.) If you’re good at making plans there is a lot of work out there that can be some of the upfront work that goes into creating and setting up big projects. (You’d get to help form the big picture of things into something doable.)

      Look at what your other skills are to figure out the direction you want to go. All jobs have details so making sure that you’ve got good strategies to keep those under control will help too. A lot of the big picture high ideas kinds of jobs that jump to mind are full of doing the details, business architect is a great and very cool big picture job but it requires a lot of details work along the way. Fairly senior leadership roles but they usually require either a great deal of experience or a great deal of making people think you got it and then delivering.

    8. RagingADHD*

      No, don’t go back, but if you run across them it can be something that comes up in conversation.

      The common denominators I’ve found in jobs I like & do well with are:

      1) Long deadlines with very specific milestones/deliverables, but plenty of flexibility on how to get there.

      2) When detail work is required, it’s something I can geek out on. I have infinite capacity for detail when I’m geeking.

      3) A mix of quiet focus and interaction/engagement – but those things happen in completely separate times & spaces. When it’s time to focus, I need to be alone. I can gut it out for a while with headphones & ignoring people, but it’s exhausting to the point of despair if it goes on too long.

      4) The structure of milestones/deliverables has objective external constraints. I can have some input, but it’s not entirely up to me. (I can work inside structure, but it’s hard for me to create structure from scratch).

      5) The people I work for dont think like me and can’t do what I do. At all. They need & appreciate it because it’s wizardry to them.

  15. anonanna*

    When I tell y’all I have been WAITING for the open thread… I’m really desperate.
    The TLDR is that my new supervisor (started in October) and i don’t have good communication and I’ve long been feeling underfilled/tasked with my job (basically since I started a year ago) and it’s just been exacerbated by working from home.
    We had a one on one yesterday to go over errors I admittedly made and I felt so humiliated that I ended up crying during the call (thankfully no video) and had to go sob into my pillow after. We don’t communicate well at all and some of the red flags I’d seen with them early on and written off are starting to make sense.
    I’m truly not good at what I do, which is a lot of detail and admin stuff. Working from home has been brutal to my mental health- I really need structure and stability- and it’s just highlighted the problems that exist within my role. I don’t have enough to do, it’s not engaging or stimulating, but I write off these concerns by telling myself I’m asking for too much out of a job. Most days I am excruciatingly stagnant and i almost wonder if that’s why it’s so hard for me to do a task when it does come up.
    I would love to just face the music and quit- I’m potentially moving for grad school anyway so I’d be out of work in august. But I need *something* to do and I also hate admitting failure to myself (and to my parents, who I still live with and are sure to just think I’m not trying hard enough). I’m applying for some roles that would fit my skills and give me more support for grad school, but i’m truly at the point where I’d rather work retail- I *need* to get out, feel busy, do something than just lag around all day waiting for a task. It’s not fair to my company to have such a deadweight and it’s not fair to me to put myself in a position that’s above my capabilities.
    Any insight or just permission to fail and quit is greatly appreciated.

    1. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Can you find a retail job? Can you manage without an income for a while? If yes to either, then quit. As for keeping busy, I understand food banks need volunteers. I’m sure plenty of other places need help too. It wouldn’t pay, but it might be something in the meantime.

      1. anonanna*

        Yes to both- i have a lot in savings (though I wanna leave those for grad school) and could probably cobble together enough money from retail and babysitting.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Get out, work retail, do something else! I would really try to stay in this job until you have another job lined up, but it sounds like something (anything) else will be a better fit for you. I know retail kind of gets a bad rap, but there are lots of places that offer decent pay, flexibility, and benefits.

    3. Campfire Raccoon*

      Yo. Knock it off. You are not deadweight. You’re amazing, and I won’t have anyone talk about you like that, even you. Take a deep breath, accept this internet hug, and stop being so hard on yourself. You’re not failing. You’re learning and growing.

      You’ve done what many people are unable to do, or don’t do until it’s too late: you’ve taken a hard look at what you want and need from a workplace, identified what your strengths and weaknesses are, and have started to look for solutions.

      Do retail, get a customer service job, do deliveries or volunteer to help people. See if any shelters are hiring, or look for a job that is a hybrid or do two part time jobs. Join a temp agency, look into childcare or school district support systems. Anything to get you moving and get you happier. You’ve got this.

    4. I edit everything*

      It’s not a failure to recognize that your job isn’t a good fit. It’s just acknowledging a truth. I’ve had “sitting around and waiting” jobs, and they are very good at sapping motivation to do anything. There’s always time, and that lack of a sense of urgency only makes it harder to do the work when it comes in.

      If working retail would be better for your mental health, go for it. There are always retail jobs out there, and they love people who want to stay busy. I confess: I actually liked the summer I spent working in a TJMaxx stock room processing shoes as a post-grad-school/pre-relocation job. It was brainless, it was routine, but the expectations were clear, with defined tasks, and there was always something I could do.

    5. Web Crawler*

      I don’t know if I have any advice for you, but my partner has been in a similar situation.

      My partner used to work as a tutor- it was a very unstructured job when she needs structure. She was good at the teaching part, but not anything else- showing up on time, keeping track of homework, basically all the details. But a job is a job and at least this one required a college degree, which got her mom off her back.

      She got fired. It was only halfway a surprise, because parents had complained about her tardiness. She started applying to other jobs but wasn’t set on it. She figured that she’d get fired from the next job too, because she’d just run into the same issues again.

      So she did an outpatient therapy program at the advice of her therapist. As far as I can tell, it was great- 6 hours of classes per weekday about mental health. She’s always struggled with anxiety, depression, and ADHD, and the outpatient program gave her more tools for coping with them.

      Her latest job was in retail, and it sounded like a much better fit. She got to be outside and interact with plants all day long. (And then she got laid off bc people aren’t buying as many Christmas trees this year.)

    6. Junger*

      Anonanna, you’re being way too hard on yourself. You keep blaming yourself for making not this situation work somehow, when things are stacked against you in so many ways. I don’t think you can really make this work, and it would be unreasonable for anyone (including yourself) to demand that you do.

      Getting out of a bad situation isn’t a failure. It’s recognizing that you’re in a bad situation, and that fixing it is impossible or just not worth the effort. At worst it means you chose poorly when you took this job. Which sucks, but people convince themselves into bad jobs for all sorts of reasons. Including thinking they can make it work if they just try hard enough (ask me how I know).

      As for your next step: find another job where you do feel valued, with a decent boss that you can work with, and that isn’t playing havoc on your mental health every day.

      1. anonanna*

        Thank you. I needed to hear this. I am really self critical (something I’m working on in counseling!) but I’ve made peace with the fact that if I had great performance reviews and rapport with my supervisor for 7 months and then my new supervisor and I can’t work well after 2 months, maybe it’s not me. I’m still prayerfully considering my next steps but I feel pretty confident that includes resigning and finding more productive ways to fill my time (even if it’s just babysitting and volunteering!)
        I recognize that I’m in a really privileged position- I’m 22 and live with my parents, I have money in savings, and I paid my car loan several months ahead so I don’t have to pay until the spring. But I’ve also just put so much pressure on myself since high school to work hard and get to the next thing and be self-sufficient that I think I need time to be okay with ‘deviating’ from the plan and focusing on what kind of careers will help me be personally fulfilled. Thanks again for your kind words- they mean more than you know.

        1. OhBehave*

          Will grad school lead to a job or real career? Keep that goal in mind. You are working toward something much better. Some go through grad school only to find out they don’t need or like what they’d be doing with it. Or it wasn’t necessary to succeed.
          I would not quit until you had something else lined up. It’s the ideal time to be a sitter. Even helping a family with virtual learning (our schools are all virtual).

    7. Not A Manager*

      I agree with others who are giving you permission to quit. But, if you feel that the cost for that would be too high in terms of your parents or for other reasons, here’s another thought.

      If you did quit, what would you do with your time if you were still staying home (not out of the house working retail)? Are there personal or professional projects you would be working on? If so, maybe you could aggressively structure your workday so that during working hours you are always working on *some* “assignment.” If it’s one of the on-again, off-again assignments from your actual job, that’s great. But if your job is leaving you idle during the day, then act like you’re unemployed and use that time for your own advancement.

      I think the key is to aggressively structure it. Have a schedule, have some “assignments” of your own for the day or for the week.

    8. BubbleTea*

      I have a string of jobs in my past which I “failed” at, either quitting or being fired because I just wasn’t a good fit. I spent a few years working part time as a freelance educator and had some coaching through a charity for people with mental health issues to help me figure out what types of job suit me better. And now I’m almost 2 years into a role I love, with great prospects for growth and development, in an organisation I wouldn’t have believed could be as supportive and flexible. There is hope! A role that is a poor fit, or an industry that is a poor fit, or an organisation that is a poor fit, can all make you feel like YOU are poor in some way, but it isn’t the case. Your Goldilocks job is out there.

    9. Lady Liz*

      Man can I relate to waiting for the Open Thread, feeling very desperate to share my situation and get some feedback and any kind of help…

      You have some great suggestions here so just want to add my voice to say, do what you need to do for yourself… whatever that is, no matter what that is… and that can never be wrong… big hug

    10. CopyCat*

      Are you able to get some learning done during the down time? Some computer skills or something that will be useful in grad school?
      If the time between tasks comes in short chunks, I’d use the time for knitting. Easy to put down when necessary, but it makes me feel that I’m not wasting my time.
      Maybe that would put you in a better mood and able to pay more attention to the details of the tasks when they do appear.

  16. Anonymous librarian*

    I’m a librarian working in a suburban library, applying for jobs with the library system that covers the major city in our area. They’ve got close to 20 locations spread across a really large geographical area, so there are a handful of locations within a 20 minute drive of my home, but there are also a handful of locations that would be a 60+ minute drive.

    I was invited to an interview for a job that didn’t specify a location, it simply said “branches.” I decided to accept the interview and find out more, but when I asked which branch this position would report to, the interviewer said it was for a position with the library system, not at a specific branch, and that they weren’t sure where the person who got this job would be placed. I’ve been working for public libraries for almost 20 years and I’ve never seen a library system hire like that. Since it felt like such a strange response I did a little more asking around within my professional network, and their library director has a reputation for transferring staff between branches without giving them the option of where they’d like to work, and without really giving them much notice at all about the transfer date. So with that added context, the idea that they started interviewing candidates without knowing where the selected candidate would be working feels even more troubling.

    I’ve been invited to a second interview, and they still won’t give me any information on where I’d be expected to work if the job was offered to me. My current commute is almost an hour each way, and I was hoping for a job closer to home, so not knowing where I’d actually be working is feeling like a really big deal breaker.

    Am I overreacting? Would you take the second interview if you were me?

    1. avocadotacos*

      I don’t see any harm taking the second interview, but especially knowing what you know after talking to your contacts, I would be sure to address it head on in the second interview. You can even let them know this position would only work for you if you were working out of one of these 5 branches. I’d also want to get a sense of the role… based on what they are saying, it sounds like you’d be serving the entire library system, not one particular branch, and it’s a matter of where there is space for you to be housed. It’s okay to go to a second interview even if you are wary, if you’re still interested in the position. Like Alison always says, part of the interview process is you interviewing them, and figuring out if this job is the right fit. Best of luck.

    2. Burnout Phoenix*

      I read this situation as “even if they tell you where you’re going to be working, it’s subject to change at any time.”

      If they started you near your home but you knew you could be transferred anytime, would you still want the job? If no, I’d bow out of the interview process unless this new job would have higher pay, better benefits, or something else that outweighs the location uncertainty.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting at all. I suppose I can see the benefit in hiring for a position rather than a location given what the manager seems to do as it attracts people who are open to the potential change; however, unless they could give me confirmation on where I’d be working, I’d be reluctant to take the second interview.

    4. JM*

      I don’t think there is any harm in taking a second interview but I would not accept an offer without a firm location. However, if you would not be okay with being transferred to another branch or have questions about how the library director operates, I would try and ask some targeted questions during the second interview and see how that goes.

    5. SomebodyElse*

      I would take the farthest/smallest/least desirable for whatever reason branch and assume I would be working there. Then based on that decide if there were any deal breakers.

      I don’t see anything unreasonable about the practice of hiring positions intended to rotate as needed and it’s also understandable why they can’t give you specifics on where you’ll be working. I would think it unreasonable for you to get the job with the best case branch in mind, hoping for the best, then not being happy if that wasn’t what the job turned out to be.

    6. Msnotmrs*

      This is exactly how it works in the major public system in my city. That said, I can see why you wouldn’t be a fan of it, and I wouldn’t blame you for not wanting to take part in it.

    7. Malarkey01*

      I wouldn’t see it as a reason to cancel the 2nd interview. You already had an hour commute so any branch assignment would be equal or better to your current set up right? I get the ambiguity can be unsettling, but you can ask a lot of questions during the interview like “how do you determine where to place this position?” Or “once assigned to a branch, what’s the expectation on stability with that location?” “Am I expected to travel among the branches?”

      You don’t have to take the job if you get to the offer stage and they give a location you don’t like.

    8. Love the job, hate the administration*

      I don’t think you’re overreacting. In theory, my system works this way, though I haven’t heard of anyone being outright told they have to switch branches, especially since the one time it was tried, that person quit and it was a huge, ugly mess. However, we all know it’s possible and hate the threat of it. Each branch has its own needs. Hire for that. How hard can it be?
      What ends up happening in my system is that the reasonable people spend years trying to transfer to get away from a few toxic managers (who are never, ever called on their abusive behavior by upper level administration, and when lower level staff tries to get redress, it never goes anywhere – and we have a union!) and you end up with branches full of miserable people who can’t escape, and people who enjoy and participate in the bullying. The other fun thing they do is open new, larger branches with next to no staff positions in the budget (maybe a branch manager, though there are managers with two locations – guess how good a job they are able to do with that?). How do they staff these new buildings, you ask? They move positions from existing branches and leave them short-staffed. It’s a very long game, and what they are often able to do is wait until someone leaves voluntarily, and then “replace” them – at the other branch. This turned into a bit of a rant, sorry. I know what it is to need a job in the only game in town, and you may want to roll the dice with this and at least get some more information, but I would worry about getting put into a branch where they can’t keep anyone, for very good reasons. I would also want to know how they’re handling COVID – it’s going to be months before we are anywhere near back to normal, and if where you are now is handling it well, that would give me reason to stay, were I in your shoes.

    9. megaboo*

      This is something common at my system. In fact, I was moved to another branch and I have had to cover at other branches in the past. We also have floating librarians (I do not float, but am temporarily at a different place) that fill in for like 6 months if there is a vacancy. I would really consider before accepting. I think you should do the second interview, but be prepared that you may have another assignment that is not close to your house. I feel like the majority of our librarians do NOT move around (I happen to be a weird case), but it is possible.

    10. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is how the public libraries in both the towns I’ve lived in have worked. However, if it’s a deal breaker for you, I wouldn’t take the second interview. Having said that, is it a deal breaker?

      The bigger issue I would have is what you’re hearing about the library director. I’d hit your network and see what you can feel out. You should be able to learn what the exact situation is.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      General rule of thumb: The way they treat you on the interview is the best they will ever treat you.
      So my answer would be “No, I do not want to play guess where my job is today.”

  17. I'm A Little Teapot*

    I had the strangest thing happen this week. My direct manager returned my self evaluation to me in the system, and sent an email asking me to re-evaluate my self eval ratings, as he thought my work had been at a lower level than what I evaluated myself as. I am still baffled by why he thought this was ok to do, and my mentor was also quite surprised. I’ve been kinda job searching as I’m not thrilled with management at this job, but I’d mostly put it on the back burner due to covid. I will be looking more actively after the holidays.

    But I’m concerned/uncertain about how to handle this going forward. Manager also cc’ed his boss, who I have a good relationship with, but I haven’t heard from grand-boss on this topic. Has anyone else dealt with this type of thing?

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

      I’ve never had a boss that told me to reevaluate myself, but I’ve had many meetings where my boss and I compare and discuss my eval and his eval. Without further context, it almost sounds like your boss doesn’t want to do his end of the evaluation, and just wants you to fix yours so he can “sign off” on it.

      1. Hannahnannah*

        Exactly. A self-evaluation gives your boss and their bosses a view into how YOU view your performance. Your boss is free to disagree, and if they do, remark on that in their own comment area of the review.

    2. President Porpoise*

      Oooo, that’s not great.

      I think what you need to do is schedule some time with you manager, hopefully before you have your performance evaluation meeting, and see if you can work together to find the disconnect. Strive for an open and frank discussion. It could be that there’s been a miscommunication of what is in your scope of responsibility – but it could also be that he’s just really unhappy with the work he’s seeing from you. Either way, you can’t fix it unless you know where the problem is.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I actually have a one on one with him later today, though I really didn’t want to bring this up. I have regular one on ones with him, and he’s never brought up concerns with my work overall. He has not inspired confidence in his competence with myself or any of my peers (we all report to him). I’m just baffled why he thought it was ok to make this request.

        1. Workerbee*

          Do bring it up, and make sure to say, repeatedly if necessary, how this is a surprise since he hasn’t brought up these concerns during your regular 1:1s.

          I am not saying his concerns are valid with my next line—
          Some bosses like to get away with lazy managing and think it’s okay to quietly open a file on someone and note down every perceived fault without saying a word to the person in question. It is not okay.

          And some bosses are just bad bosses without doing any of that.

    3. Maggie*

      I’ve had a manager return it to me and ask me to write more detailed information in it, but I haven’t had them ask me to lower my scores. I guess I don’t think its that crazy that he did it, but I’m not sure why he’d have you re-do it rather than just compare your and his and explain why his are lower than yours.

      1. I'm A Little Teapot*

        I’ve also had evals returned for “navigated the system wrong” and “give yourself credit for your work, I’m trying to promote you” reasons. But this…. that’s not what the process is!

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

          I’m with Maggie; I don’t see this request as that baffling or not ok…it’s lazy and a bad way to manage if he hasn’t been giving you feedback all along, but it’s within the purview of a manager to request that you reevaluate yourself. It might be that if his evaluation of you is super far off from your evaluation of yourself he’ll need to write justifications and give examples for his boss or HR and he’d rather not.

    4. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, crappy update. Had a (previously scheduled) one on one, and apparently manager has not passed on various bits of negative feed back ALL YEAR. And, none of the other managers in the department did either. Some of the items raised were completely on me, some were other people but I took the fall, and some were a mix of things. He apologized for not sharing any of this stuff earlier; I said thank you for the feedback, wish I had gotten it earlier, and will think about it all.

      1. kt*

        Wow, that is crappy. I’m sorry he did that to you!

        Sounds like your spidey-sense was tingling appropriately, and that you’ll need to develop relationships with other, more reliable folks if you’re going to stay there.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I’m sorry, that sucks. I’ve been sandbagged in a performance review before (twice, actually) and it’s awful.

        What would you like to have happen next? For example, in the first instance for me, I knew I couldn’t do anything about it – my review was a mix of “your work is great quality” and “however, your work is not valuable to the team” – so I let it go. But the second instance, I pushed back as much as I could because the feedback was extremely vague (e.g. no examples could be provided) and it didn’t affect my original high ratings.

        Your manager sucks and likely isn’t going to change the ratings on the basis of him withholding useful improvement info. But, would it be out of line for you to have a meeting with your grand-boss to follow up on this? I know that’s highly dependent on how good your relationship is and whether skip-levels are a thing in your company. But if your grand-boss is reasonable and knowledgeable of your work, I would do that. Since grand-boss was in the loop on your manager’s request to downgrade yourself, I would start with providing the context for your original ratings and feedback that you got from your manager, and then ask for advice on what to do next to improve things.

        “I received a lot of mixed feedback at my end of year review, including a lot of old issues that I was not aware of and therefore never had an opportunity to address at the time, or I believe were actually comments on someone else’s projects, not mine. I would much prefer to have negative feedback in the moment so that I can immediately work on fixing my performance or clarify the situation. It was not clear to me why my manager didn’t share any of these concerns with me at the time, and Manager didn’t explain the rationale. Given that I feel this was handled poorly, I’m concerned about my opportunities for improvement and growth under these circumstances.”

        Maybe that’s not the way to go, but I feel for you and everyone else stuck under a bad manager.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Right now, I have 2 weeks off. Scheduled months ago. I’m going to do other things and put this out of my mind. But yeah, something like this is possible. Assuming I don’t find a better job before the process finishes.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        So self-evals don’t work like this. He is saying, “Guess what I am going to rate you at!”. No, the point of the self-eval is to figure out what YOU rate you at.

        You may not want to do this but I would be tempted to say, “Based on the feedback I have received through out the year this is how I rate myself.”

        He needs to get his act together.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Yeah, that wouldn’t be great, but it would feel great. And yes, he needs to get his act together.

  18. Confused*

    How do you go about improving skills that don’t have measurable outcomes? Like, how do you ‘go the extra mile’ when it’s hard to gauge where the baseline even is? Especially if you work in a field where every project is varied so it’s not like you can even measure up against what your colleagues are doing (or not doing) because the requirements differ so much.

    I wish I could describe this better but the way it was communicated was so vague that I have a hard time grasping at it. Basically it sounds like ‘just meeting the brief is not good enough’, but how do you know how far is far enough?

    1. AndersonDarling*

      Is it possible to send surveys? When I was an admin, I’d send surveys every time I booked travel for an employee. It sounds silly, but it was the best way to quantify if I was doing a good job.

    2. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      I think you have to at least try to separate out things that actually have an effect, no matter how removed, and things that are there for show, or just signaling. And it’s pretty different for a manager vs. an individual contributor.

      Two management examples:
      1) Your team puts in extra hours, so you buy bagels for Monday morning. Maybe that has measurable effect on morale, but it mostly goes to show that you care about their staff.
      2) You take on a thankless grunt-work task, like collating and filling binders, because that’s a shared task that has to get done, but nobody really wants to do it.

      The first is just for show. It’s not something that takes a lot of time out of your day. The second actually makes your team more productive.

      So which does your organization value for “going the extra mile”? Show, or bottom line?

    3. TimeTravlR*

      Not sure what you’re being asked but my take is that going the extra mile means doing more than just resolving what’s asked. For example, if you’re in IT and someone asks you to help them develop a system that does X, Y, and Z and you spend the time to talk to them about what they want to use it for and then suggest, adding A and B because it will help them get what they want instead of what they’re asking for. People often don’t know what’s possible! Another example might be one we had in our office. People would send documents to us for the review process. THey would send them either as an attachment or a link to a document in the cloud. BUt then, am I reviewing, is my counterpart reviewing?? Who knows? So we recognized that this was inefficient and transparent and said to boss, hey we see a process that could be fixed! So we developed a basic online tool that requires them to submit them through the tool, must be a link to their document (so we are all editing the same version), and have a workflow so it goes to reviewer 1 and then reviewer 2 (who also does the approvals or determines if it has to go for higher level review).
      TL; DR – think beyond what’s in front of you!

    4. RagingADHD*

      When I’ve encountered stuff like this, it’s about soft skills and making the client or stakeholder feel like they had a positive experience, on top of an objectively correct or satisfactory outcome.

      In order to do that, or find out if you’re doing that, you have to communicate with the stakeholders, establish a relationship, and ask questions. You ask about their needs & expectations up front, you check in with them during the process, and you ask for feedback afterwards.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Some of the things suggested here come with time. The longer you are at a place the more you see the gaps and where you can fill in.

      Things I have done:

      Double checking or cross checking. Some times there is a secondary way to check work and sometimes a straightforward double check can be an impressive thing. I have also used spot checks.

      Helping others. This one is amazing because some of things others need is so. very. easy. and it can make you look great. I dunno what it was with the copier/printer but no one could figure out that if the paper drawer was open the slightest amount the machine would not work. I’d be walking past the machine and I’d see a person talking to themselves. I’d push the drawer in a faction of an inch and say. “Try again.” They thought it was a miracle.
      In another instance a certain person wanted specific cardboard boxes. I piled them up in a spot where she could collect them when she was ready. I got great big smiles for that one. No one else was paying attention to her request and it took almost no time and effort for me to save the boxes.

      Making cost saving suggestions and adjustments. I reduced an 8 person project down to a 2 person project. It got noticed. I reused things and did not request new stuff every time a need came up. That also got noticed.
      (And still does at current job.)

      Getting along with people. Checking on them randomly. The other day I heard a yell at work. I started wandering around until I found someone and I asked if they were alright. No effort on my part, yet it meant something to them. I have waited for people to get their cars started in subfreezing weather. This took 2 maybe 3 minutes, yet provided relief to them.

      Paying attention when others say I need to change what I am doing. This example sounds benign but it made my cohort very happy. She told me it was taking me too long to scrape the ice off my car, she wanted to leave quicker. (We’d wait for each other because we were the last to leave.) She said to put that stuff for windshields on the car windows. I started using Rainex and she commented, “Wow, you actually took my advice.”
      I am a shameless idea thief anyway, I like to pick the cream of the crop ideas and make them my own. So this one is not hard for me.

      To be fair, I do think this is a function of time. It takes time to see where others need help or appreciate a little gesture. It takes time to see where the recurring problems are and even more time to come up with a simple solution. I think if you start looking around more, you will find that you have answered the complaint.

  19. No Longer Gig-less Data Analyst*

    Good news received this week – I am officially in the transition process from Contractor to Employee at my new job!

    This came as a bit of a surprise as some others on my team have or had a much longer contracting period, more like a year or so. But I’m not going to question it, that’s for sure! I haven’t had PTO or paid holidays since August of 2019, and I’m REALLY looking forward to that.

    It sounds like the whole process will take about a month (yes, I have to have another background check and drug test, at this point I probably qualify for CIA clearance), but I am so excited to start 2021 as an official employee!

    1. ThatGirl*

      Hooray! I spent about 5 years as a contractor before becoming a FTE and man, having paid days off again was so nice.

  20. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    Update: I’m the one who wanted to take the time off for COVID. I did take Monday off although my boss did say I could take the week, but I didn’t want work to pile up for Christmas. They covered all my cases so I didn’t have to go out. I’m doing a lot better and just have a headache now.

  21. Lentils*

    Today is my last day at my current job. They want me to give an exit interview, which I plan on being polite but candid in with regard to why I’m leaving. (In short, laughably bad Covid response including no in-office mask mandate and extremely restrictive WFH policies.) I and at least two other coworkers reported them to L&I for the lack of mask mandate, as well as lack of adequate social distancing and still having in-person holiday gatherings. They responded by removing all on-site provided snacks and drinks “due to a belief the packaging may foster the spread of coronavirus” and removing access to our top floor seating area, which has outdoor seating and is less frequented than our employee kitchen/lunch area. Oh, and also they didn’t actually do contact tracing when an employee (who sits next to me!!!) tested positive, and I was told I was not considered a “close contact” person.

    Anyway! I’m wondering if in my exit interview I should say I was one of the ones who reported them. Someone else already outed themselves as a reporter, and the company only publicly shared one of the reports, so I’m not sure how many people know there were multiple reports made. I might want to use my managers as future references so that’s the only thing stopping me; I wouldn’t come back to this company for all the money in the world.

    1. Burnout Phoenix*

      I wouldn’t tell them you reported them. Can’t really qualify why except vague sense of “why give them retaliation material?”

    2. Llama face!*

      I would also lean on the side of don’t say anything. But since you are considering it, I would ask: What specifically is it that you would hope to accomplish by telling them? That answer might give you a better frame of reference for deciding.

    3. D3*

      Preserve the references. At most, tell them the awful Covid response is why you’re leaving, but do not tell them that you reported them.

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

      I think if you give them the candid reasons why you are leaving, they’ll be able to guess that you are one that reported them. If being reported didn’t really change their behavior, then knowing who reported them won’t either; or were you thinking that you quitting would make them take it seriously? because that’s never been my experience. It’s really easy for businesses to ignore EX-employee complaints.

    5. RoundRobin*

      Be prepared for them to be defensive if you bring up anything negative. It helps to know this & plan a calm response. I wasn’t prepared for defensive HR exit interview. I finally said, “This isn’t a debate. You asked for my input. If you don’t want my input, let’s just end this review.” Maybe I could have been more diplomatic.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        I love that reply. And it was diplomatic – you were polite, and at the same time called them on their BS response.

  22. Samantha*

    Does anyone have a great corporate communication program they would recommend? Our C Suite is at each other’s throats and I’m being tasked with finding a way forward. Communication is there, but everyone communicates so differently, it’s nearly impossible for everyone to feel heard and opinions valued.

    1. I'm Called Not My Real Name Since the Synonym is Banned*

      I recommend that you contact Barry Bales with the University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs.

    2. Workerbee*

      Dump them into a Yammer or Teams or other open communication space. Everyone from C-suite down can “be heard.”

      (Of course, having a community manager in charge is a must. But I have seen people emboldened to speak up, and also people start to watch how they come across and take more care in their online/offline presence. Or just cordon off a space within that space and let them stew at each other there.)

    3. SummerBreeze*

      Im confused — theres No ‘program’ (do you mean a tool? Software?) that sounds like it would solve this, but a good Corp comm exec will know how to bridge the gaps in their Comms styles and help them use Comms to achieve their business goals. Is there a Corp Comms team?

    4. Gatomon*

      Like a training? I did crucial conversations with an old job once. It was okay, I’d recommend it over Myers-Briggs based tests or even the Disc stuff since no one wants to label themselves with their “type.” Without knowing what type someone is those aren’t super helpful.

  23. Virtual Party Anxiety*

    I work as an administrator in a large department at an academic institution. Today is our department holiday party, which is using the platform Gather.town (for those unfamiliar – each person has an avatar that they move around a virtual “room” and you are connected via videochat to the people whose avatars are close to you). It’s a mix of faculty and staff and over 100 people are invited.

    I have been at this job a year and the only person I have a good relationship is my (faculty) boss. I met some colleagues pre-COVID but we’ve been WFH since March so I don’t know that they will remember me. The few colleagues I interact with regularly either won’t be there, aren’t super fond of me, have tons of friends in the department they’d probably rather talk to. At the holiday party last year (when I was brand-new) it was clear that staff talk to staff and faculty talk to faculty. Also my boss and I talk pretty much every day; I’m sure he’ll want to spend the party networking with other faculty not chatting with me, if he even attends.

    I have pretty intense social anxiety about these events when they are in person so I’m totally dreading this. At the same time I feel obligated to go because I “opted-in” to the gift basket, which someone delivered to me personally.

    I know this is a pretty specific question but if anyone has any advice as to how to make this feel less terrible I would love to hear it.

    1. OtterB*

      I think your relative newness is your key here. You could go up to the colleagues you say may not remember you and re-introduce yourself, maybe saying something about regretting that the WFH situation means you haven’t gotten to know people.

      At an in-person event, I have had some success by going up to someone else who is standing by themselves and introducing myself. Not sure how well that would work with avatars.

      Will it be obvious if you leave early?

      1. Filosofickle*

        Talking to the other people who are standing by themselves is how I survive group events with strangers. Especially work events like conferences. That means I don’t meet talk to anyone “important” and it’s two awkward people together but that’s ok! People who are alone understand why another alone person is talking to them, and both are relieved. I promise myself I’ll talk to at least 3 (or whatever) new people and then I can go.

        Can your avatar pop in and out? Meaning can you enter the gathering, talk to someone, take a break and re-enter later without it being really obvious you’ve disappeared? In real-world terms, like going out for some air.

      2. Virtual Party Anxiety*

        I don’t think it will be obvious if I leave early. It’s two hours and right now I’m planning to arrive half an hour late (because of meetings). I figure I’ll try for 30 minutes and if I’m hating it at that point log off.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      So I have used gathertown (It’s a pretty entertaining app). I would say go and ‘wander around’ There will likely be different rooms set up. This should be less intense socialization than in person, and you have the added bonus of being able to wander by conversations and literally fade out of them.

      I’m also wondering if they’ve set up any of the interactive type functions for your event… you might have ‘stuff’ to do while there (videos, cards, games, etc.) so it might not necessarily be stare at everyone and talk.

      The last thing is that if the app is new to all of you, chances are there’s going to be a lot of conversations like “Hey this is cool… have you tried X?” “Does anyone know how to do Y?” “hahaha… I can change my avatar!”

      It’s still a video chat based experience, so it’s normal if you aren’t super talkative (one at a time), so you can most likely just be able to be a passive listener.

      In other words, go, wander, say hi to a few people, and then drop off when you’ve had enough.

      1. Allison*

        Yeah, I think Gather.town is perfect for you in this situation! You can make an appearance, take part in a couple small conversations if you want (even if just listening) and then it’s real easy to Irish-goodbye outta there when you’re ready. I did exactly that after 30 minutes of my staff holiday party earlier this week.

        1. Virtual Party Anxiety*

          I decided to go for at least 30 minutes and if I’m having a terrible time at that point giving myself permission to log off. Thanks for the comforting words. :)

      2. Virtual Party Anxiety*

        This is really helpful, thank you. I have no idea if there will be interactive functions. I sort of doubt it but could be.

        I think part of my anxiety is appearing like I’m wandering into/eavesdropping on people (especially faculty) conversations and them being like “umm…hello…who are you and why are you here” I don’t know enough of them by name to know what folks to avoid (in person the staff/faculty distinctions are more obvious). I’m sure most of them would either be friendly/fine or ignore me, but anxiety-brain is a little fixated on this scenario.

        1. SomebodyElse*

          So what would you do if someone said this to you? How would you answer it? (BTW.. it would be a very rare situation if someone actually asked this)

          “Oh sorry, I was looking for someone and couldn’t see everyone’s name! Sorry to interrupt!”
          “Oh sorry… it’s hard to tell who’s who with these little avatars, haha I don’t recognize anyone. Off to find Bob”
          “Oh jeez… Sorry got the wrong group I’m still trying to figure out how to move my little guy around, sorry to crash your conversation!”

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Can you print out a staff directory from some where?

          “umm…hello…who are you and why are you here”

          Okay so this probably a rude person.
          If nothing else, you could go with, “oh! I didn’t mean to interrupt, so I will just say, happy holidays and I will move on. Happy Holidays!” [you, !@#$ Grinch, you!]

    3. Troutwaxer*

      I think a big part of this is to get your emotions in order. Tell yourself this is not a party but a workday-with-food, then make it a point to re-introduce yourself to as many people as possible, clear up any misunderstandings that might require a face-to-face, schmooze with your boss’s boss, deliver your gift basket, and so on.

    4. Virtual Party Anxiety*

      For anyone keeping score at home – I stayed for a whole hour and found plenty of folks to chat with. The platform was a bit awkward, but it was awkward for everyone, not just me! Thanks to those who gave advice to help soothe my anxiety. :)

      1. allathian*

        Well done! I hope that your working experience is more pleasant from now on, because you know more people at least superficially. That’s the whole point of staff parties, really. I’m glad your anxiety didn’t stop you from going and that you had a great experience.

  24. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Being new is hard and I’m not good at it. I’m good at my new job, I’m getting on fine with everyone, but the newness is just… hard. Every interaction still feels a bit like I’m interviewing and having to show off just enough but not too much, to prove that I’m worth keeping around or to make a good first impression on someone I haven’t met yet. I can’t wait until it’s been a few years and I have strong established relationships with my boss and my peers and I’ve earned their respect and can stop walking this tightrope.

    1. LW2 that talked salary*

      I agree-being new is so stressful! I am in a similar boat, but in a permanent work from home situation so I don’t even know anyone yet, which honestly takes the edge off the “being new and feeling like everything has to come across perfectly” feeling. I did reach out to one co worker via email yesterday to say hello, as I finally knew definitly that I worked with him!

    2. Flour child*

      Much sympathy. I was at my previous organization for nearly 20 years and I knew everyone, from president to mail room. I’m in year 3 of my new job and it’s better but I’m impatient. I want to know more people! Covid and WFH hasn’t helped, of course.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It is temporary. Keep telling yourself. And things should start to fall in place well before a few years from now.

      It’s good to remember that the only person you really have to prove yourself to is the boss.

      I have found it helpful to remember to be kind to everyone, a kind bumbling newbie is going to make out better than an UNkind bumbling newbie. If you are likeable, people will be more inclined to help you.

      In my experience there is always one person who remembers what it is like to be new. This might be the person who shows you were the bathroom is. Or it could be the person who says a cheerful good morning to you when others do not. There is usually at least one person who gets it.

      Focus on nailing the job. This will help to distract you from worrying about what others think. One of my fav things to do is set up my work, materials and desk AS IF I will be there for years to come. A little self-fulfilling prophecy? maybe. Definitely a good distraction for me. And it comforts me to take control over my space. I know I have what I need, or I know I have a space to collect up what I need.

      It IS possible to get so lost in what others think that we forget to do the job itself. Redirect your thoughts each time you find the worries starting up.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. I second NSNR’s comments on that your boss is really the only person you need to prove yourself to. Focus on your work, on learning your job and on being pleasant with the people you interact with. And don’t forget to ask for help if you need it. I’m sure you’ll do fine.

  25. Llama face!*

    Resume writing question:
    How would you suggest I write the education section for a resume if I have some past university experience but no degree (3 out of 4 years towards Llama Training degree and a decade has past since I quit university for reasons)? I also have a non-standard childhood education so couldn’t list a high school name. Is the section even necessary if I have been working more than a decade and a half? Also, the university experience is not related to my current career path.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nah, you’d be fine to leave it off in that case, unless you really wanted to include it for some reason. But if it’s not complete AND not relevant, I probably wouldn’t bother.

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks! I was probably overthinking it but I was worried it would look conspicuous if I just erased that section entirely.

    2. Reba*

      If there is any coursework (even if not the degree track itself) that would support the resume for current career path, you could include “coursework in [relevant thing], Llama Training program, Woolly Mammoth University, 2000-2003.” Or if that seems awkward or not on point, just leave it off.

      However, in no circumstances include high school-era data!

      1. Llama face!*

        Thanks, I think I’ll just skip the section entirely on my resume since I can’t really see any correllation between my old uni work and current career.

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

    I work at a Big Pharma company via a hiring agency. This week someone let slip that his agency had sent boxes of Christmas goodies to their people and their teammates from other agencies got mad and spread it like wildfire. People sent emails to their Project Managers and Team Leaders claiming discrimination and others mentioned starting their job search. A group that work with the same hiring agency I do sent an email to the HR reps asking if they were going to do the same and got a “sorry, we’re under financial constraints”, which is… not the best answer, considering the company we all work at has profited from the pandemic! People got more angry, and some left reviews in our industry Glassdoor calling them cheapskates.
    I definitely didn’t have this in my 2020 bingo card

    1. WellRed*

      So the temp employees got something from the temp agency and the perms permanent employees got upset? Can you say petty?

    2. Deanna Troi*

      Saying they’re under financial constraints may not be the best answer, but also doesn’t seem like the worst. You may all be assigned to the same client, but you have different employers. It doesn’t seem realistic to expect that things would be the same at different employers. You probably don’t have all the same benefits, perks, etc. That people would be so angry over a basket of holiday goodies that they would post complaints on Glassdoor is so disproportionate that I have to think that there is something else going on.

  27. Potential Prima Donna*

    I could use a sanity check on whether I’m right to feel annoyed by something. A bit long, so asked in the open thread instead of emailing it to Alison.

    My unit (I teach at the university level) is piloting a new team teaching approach we’re considering for when we move into a new building in a year or so. Up until now for this particular course, we’ve generally had 2 sections of 25-30 student each meeting at once, with separate instructors in each. In our new space, we’ll have the option of having everyone in a single room, with both instructors there at the same time. Most of the sections are staffed by graduate students, but we’ve got a handful of faculty who also do so.

    Of the 5 faculty that will be involved in the spring, 2 of them (Arya and Brienne) currently have leadership roles in our unit, either in this or another course; 1 (Olenna) used to for this course but doesn’t now; and two of us (me and Sansa) do not and haven’t. Because pay is largely based on seniority here, Arya, Sansa, and I are all paid the same since we started at the same time; Brienne and Olenna have more seniority and thus somewhat higher salaries.

    Arya is in charge of setting the schedule, and she’s decided that she wants to make sure the first few sections in the week have both a faculty member and a graduate student, so the student can take a junior position as they grow more comfortable with that week’s materials. (Each section meets once per week; almost everyone teaches 2 of these sections). And she has decided that she doesn’t really trust Olenna or Sansa to do so at the start of the week, so the three different time slots on Monday now are going to have Arya, Brienne, and me in one each.

    Fine so far; I had listed the Monday middle of the day (11:30 – 2:30) section as my top choice, and none of the other faculty had asked for a Monday section at all.

    Except that both Arya and Brienne refuse to teach any of the late night (7-10) sections, so now I’m stuck with it on Mondays. Olenna and Sansa are both happy to teach the late night sections, and often have in the past. I’ve done so out of necessity, while Arya and Brienne have not, explained by either being very much a morning person, or having a long commute (which obviously isn’t a big consideration when everything’s being done remotely from home). We were asked to rank our top choices, and I actually put this one in as 6th, since I’d been told it would be helpful if we could give more than just our top 4.

    So now my Mondays are going to begin with a meeting at either 9am or 10am, and have a variety of duties and some sporadic down time before ending at 10pm, after a minimum of 4.5 and more likely 6.5 hours of teaching. Then I’ll have a variety of things on Tuesday morning, and my second section on Tuesday in the middle of the day. Since Arya joined the program, we’ve frequently been told we need to provide detailed written feedback to students by no later than 3pm the day after our section, even though that’s a lot more challenging to do for some people (such as those teaching the late night sections, or those who have other work commitments early the following day, both of which now apply to me).

    I likewise didn’t get the section I had asked for in a different course, because Brienne (in charge of scheduling that one) didn’t think Sansa would do a good job in one section, so gave the time slot I wanted to her, and put me in a more difficult one. As has happened several semesters now.

    I don’t really feel like I can push back much on this – the decisions do rightly belong to Arya and Brienne where to assign people. But I feel like I’m being told that because I’m good at what I do and am dependable, I have to take the worse times because they don’t trust other people who are in my same or even a more senior role to do a good job during them. And I’m trying hard to not have this influence how I view Sansa, but really: two different people are giving me slots that are worse for me, and further assigning me additional work she doesn’t get, because they don’t trust her to do a good job in them, while we get paid the same and have the same title. But neither Arya nor Brienne have authority over whether or not Sansa is employed in her role.

    Am I being a prima donna, or is it justifiable that I’m annoyed by this whole thing? It’s not something I’d leave over, but it’s definitely irking me right now.

    1. Pond*

      Could you figure out what schedule change would be most beneficial for you, and then talk to them along the lines of ‘these [specifics of schedule arrangement] are really not great for me, and I can do them if there’s no other option, but it would really make a big difference if just this one schedule change could be made’ ? It seems unlikely that they would change the whole schedule, but if you present it as ‘there’s a lot of problems for me but I’m only asking you for help on this one small thing’ [obviously in better wording] you should have a better chance of getting a change.

      1. Potential Prima Donna*

        I tried asking for “Could I have any one of these four different things? Any single one of them would help my schedule a lot” And: not this semester. But I did have a conversation with the department chair today, who had not realized I was getting the short end of the stick on multiple fronts at once, and had been for a few semesters. If anything, he seemed more concerned about it than I was, so I have hopes that it won’t turn remain this way long term.

    2. Reba*

      Absolutely not prima donna ish to be annoyed by this. As to what you can do about it, well…hm. Your department has some missing stairs. I don’t feel like you have standing to discuss what Sansa’s deal is, but I do think you can, at a minimum, complain about the late Monday. “It’s not sustainable for me to start my day at 9 and go until 10 pm on Mondays. Could we see if someone else who is not teaching Monday can take some of that load?”

      I mean, these are sections! Everyone has to put in some time, yes they are a drag, that’s the deal! It’s interesting to me that the justification here seems rooted in who will do it well (teaching quality, looking at student experience) as opposed to who has to take up the burden and how to divide it fairly (looking at faculty experience), when the latter is how I first thought of the situation. IMO the bad times should be rotated among those who can do them. Like, if Sansa is bad a teaching on Monday, she’s bad at teaching on Thursdays, too, whatever! That’s the way it goes!

      The whole thing with the week and the graduate students and the blah blah… I don’t get this! Everyone teaches two, so y’all are all bending over backwards so grad students can potentially get a little improvement, on one instance (the second occurrence per week when they are alone)? I cannot see that this is that impactful for the grads. I guess I’m sort of amazed that so much is being allegedly done for consideration of grad students, my own experience was rather more sink or swim :)

    3. Pond*

      For the feedback by 3pm thing, would it be possible to push back with other teachers (perhaps the ones who also have night classes)? For example, you push for feedback to be given within 24 hours or by 3pm the next day, whichever is later, or something like that. Part of that pushing back should definitely be pointing out how 3pm the next day is 17 hours, and doesn’t work for anyone who after class goes to sleep and then has to get up for work the next morning, and typically is working until 5pm (or whatever time)? If the person who is setting this rule is not in the situation of 3pm being a problem, you can give her the benefit of the doubt that she just didn’t realize how challenging it is for some people. You could also check with the students, but since each class only meets once per week it seems unlikely that getting feedback by 3pm vs by 10pm would make a big difference to them.

      1. Potential Prima Donna*

        The issue is that the class is once per week, but then the students have a discussion section that is always at 3pm the day after the class. So we’re supposed to give them the feedback by that discussion section. Since Arya typically teaches the 8-11 sections, that’s not difficult for her — she has 28 hours to do it (or 20 if you remove 8 hours for sleep), while something teaching a night lab has 17 hours (or 9 if you remove 8 for sleep). I’ve asked in the past when I’ve been in the nigh sections if we could do it differently, and basically been told “Yes, that is much harder for you, but that’s what we have to do, since they need the feedback in order to work on things in that discussion”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      So basically you have a 13 hour work day on Monday.
      Not only is that not sustainable, it’s bad for your health.

      Until someone decides to let Sansa epically fail this will continue on this way. Everyone is covering for her under the guise of protecting the students.

      Barebones, I might consider saying that this would be the last semester I would cover for this weak player. Something has to be done, I am not willing to end up in the ER from exhaustion due to covering up this person’s poor performance.

      Sometimes we see the light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train. And some times we have to let nature run its course. This might be the only path out of it. Ask them how many more years of this they can tolerate.

  28. Confused Anon*

    I’m frequently excluded from events/conversations and where they’re warm to each other, they’re cold as ice to me. No clue. I get along so well with everyone else in the place except my department.
    It sounds kind of lame (to myself) to be like, “these people don’t like me so I’m finding another job” because it should be just a job and friendship shouldn’t enter into it – but I don’t care anymore, it’s unprofessional and it’s rude to not try to make an effort. I don’t get paid enough to deal with the discomfort it brings.

    And what sucks is that I know when I put in my two-weeks notice, if I were to say it was because they obviously don’t like me, I can already tell they’d gaslight the hell out of me and be like “What are you talking about? That’s not true, we have nothing against you, you’re crazy, etc”. Because they haven’t overtly said anything mean to me, they probably think they’re being really sly about their indifference (at best) towards me.

    Has anyone been in a similar situation? Did you ever find out why they didn’t like you?

    1. Sleepy*

      Yeah, I had two coworkers who were best friends but pretty cold to me. I just decided to keep my head down and focus on my own work. It wasn’t the nicest feeling at the time but I outlasted both of them.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Nobody told me, but had my guesses early on, and time proved them right.

      – Immediate teammates turned out to be having an affair. We were a team of three and I sensed on day one that they were a little too used to their alone time.
      – Teammate transferred from another department saw a threat to her promotion opportunities. She became incredibly supportive when she got promoted to manager after my old boss left (and when it became clear I hadn’t applied for that role anyway).
      – The others in the wider department had been working together for years, and had a whole social clique going. I was the odd one out (older, introverted and not from their same background) and they never made an effort to include me. They all left once a big bonus materialised, and the environment got so much better, not just for me, but for all new hires.

      It stung for a while, because everyone was close friends and I wanted to have those relationships too. But within a few months, my mindset became to stay professional and not let friendships muddle boundaries, and I stopped noticing altogether. I’ve now worked there longer than everyone mentioned above.

    3. Asenath*

      Yes, but not exactly at work. We did work together, but it was an unusual and fairly isolated workplace so we also all socialized together. Two of the people in the group didn’t like me. The situation degenerated to the point that I was told straight out why they didn’t like me. I was shocked; I knew there was something wrong, but had no idea they felt that strongly. Then I thought over the entire situation and decided that some of the accusations were way off base, the one thing I did that pissed them off the most was due to a misunderstanding, which I apologized for, taking the responsibility (although I thought a lot of it was theirs), but which they seemed reluctant to let go. I was not willing to make the changes they seemed to want in order to consider me acceptable. So I decided that the best thing I could do was a “polite and distant” act, totally professional, but avoiding any social situations they hosted or organized. I continued to socialize with the others just as normal. After a lot of painful reflection, I decided not to bring up the situation with the others since I had no idea if they agreed with the two (but also no sign that they did), and that I did not, no way, want to get into some kind of silly squabble about social behaviour. I also did not want to socialize with the pair ever again, even though I could manage to work with them politely. This approach worked. I completed my contract with no problems, and even kept in touch with one of the others for years (that is, someone who was part of the group but not part of the couple who just seemed to dislike me). But it left a really bad taste in my mouth until, as happens, the incident faded into the past and became unimportant and even not remembered, until some comment brings it to mind.

        1. Asenath*

          No, it is a name I came across while doing family history – popular around Lovecraft’s time, but not handed down to modern times, at least not in my family.

      1. Confused Anon*

        That’s what family and friends are telling me. The “Queen Bee/Secretary” has made me public enemy number one. A trusted coworker who used to work there told me that it isn’t personal- that she’s threatened by anyone “younger, smarter, thinner, etc.” I’m not a threat to her job, so I don’t get it. I also have multiple degrees and she doesn’t. (I’ve never talked about my education- my boss brought it up.) Other than that I just try to be as polite as I can be. It’s like walking on eggshells sometimes, though. (Why can’t we all just get along?)

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Because some people treat the workplace like an extension of high school (usually the people who peaked during that time period).

        2. PollyQ*

          Well, there’s your answer. And yes, it’s not logical, but people’s behavior very often isn’t. Seems like you just had the bad luck to fall into a somewhat toxic environment, and removing yourself from it sounds like an excellent solution. I wouldn’t bother to talk about it in any exit interview though. Just give the standard “looking for new challenges” and move on.

    4. CupcakeCounter*

      Yup – Little Miss Perfect decided I was a threat so I was excluded from many of the group lunches and social activities. When one of her friends introduced herself to me while LMP was in the bathroom, we had a lovely chat but on their way out I heard her talking poorly about me.
      I did end up making some really good friends there (those who were also excluded by LMP) but that was much later.

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        I had a job layoff because a coworker saw me as a threat. Coworker had seniority but I was smarter & better at the job. I’d gotten several sterling reviews up until our manager called me into a meeting, said the company was highly dissatisfied with my performance. Presented me with a “voluntary resignation” letter, said if I didn’t sign it they would fire me for cause.
        When I filed for unemployment they contested it, saying I left voluntarily. I demanded a hearing and won the case.

        The place was wildly dysfunctional and eventually went out of business a couple of years later. Their chickens all came home to roost!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The times I have seen this it is BECAUSE of getting along with people in other departments. For whatever reason my department had decided to HATE all others. Since I did not get the memo and I did not play along I was odd person out.

      Don’t say that they don’t like you. Use descriptions of actions that SHOW they don’t like you. So here’s what I might say:

      “I have been here x time. In this time there have been y number events in my department that I was not invited to, yet everyone else was. They do not say good morning or hello to me. They joke with each other but the laughing stops when I approach. If I ask them for abc report which I need to do my job, the response I get is xyz.
      While they ask each other how their pet/child/spouse is doing, they never ask me. I have tried chatting with them and I get one word, mono-syllable answers. This has been going on since I got here x time ago.
      While not in the legal sense a “hostile work environment”, this is a very unfriendly work environment that is not conducive to learning and growing ones self. I have heard and I agree that part of one’s compensation is for one’s willingness to get along with other people. I do not see a culture of a willingness to get along in this department. Before you hire a person to replace me, I would seriously recommend looking at the culture of this department and figuring out how to change it.
      Interestingly, people in other departments were very nice, very friendly and I enjoyed meeting them even though we did not work together directly.”

      You need to reframe. It’s NOT that they don’t like YOU, it’s that they are JERKS. This isn’t about you. It’s about them. We don’t have to like everyone we work with. We do have to be civil to them no matter what we think of them. The fact that they decided to dislike you is not relevant (except to you, and your self-esteem). It is the fact that they feel it is OKAY behavior to freeze out another person that is problematic. If they did this to you they will do it to the next person until there is direct intervention. This company is paying them to have a cooperative spirit and work well with others. And your coworkers have fallen flat on their faces here.

  29. Sleepy*

    Something happened that I’m really embarrassed about. My supervisor was going over my direct reports with me, and mentioned someone I had no idea I was supervising. I supervise 5 people who all work on the same area. ‘Bob’ is part time, a little bit elevated from an intern, and works in a totally different area. I check in with him occasionally and sometimes assign him tasks, but so do others so I never thought of myself as his supervisor. Bob basically works on his own area – think a one-person Llama Hoof Care department while the rest of us do Llama Training – so there is no obvious way for him to fit into the org chart.

    I was so embarrassed that I haven’t said anything so far. I’m about to have a review and I guess it’s just going to come out that I did a really bad job supervising Bob.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I’d look at it form the angle of how did this happen? How did you step into your role and no one told you that you were Bob’s supervisor. How was there no documentation? Are you sure Bob really reports to you? Maybe he thinks he reports to someone else?
      I’d bring it up with your supervisor as an opportunity for improvement. There may be more people floating around that are mis-matched to a supervisor.

    2. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      Yeah, what AndersonDarling said, then turn it into one of your goals for next year. Acknowledge/own the error/miscommunication, then say that your goal over the next year is meet w/ him X number of times, and to mentor him or whatever…..I’d probably be super-embarrassed, too, but it doesn’t seem an irredeemable oversight!

    3. PollyQ*

      I wouldn’t be embarrassed so much as confused, and I also wouldn’t say that you did any kind of “bad job.” It sounds like somone else really dropped the ball when you started supervising. And the fact that he’s doing different work shouldn’t affect the org chart at all. He should be in a box right under you, regardless of his duties.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Uh, why is that you were never informed that this person was under your watch?
      Worse yet, why are YOU the one who is embarrassed that no one told you?
      Does your supervisor often blame people for her own short comings? wow.

  30. Cookies For Breakfast*

    What would your take be on a job advert that lists “effective stress management skills” in its requirements for applicants?

    I applied, because it’s in an industry I want to work in that is very tough to get into, but didn’t get an interview. I’d have tried to find a way to ask about it if I had got through.

    Now the experience is behind me, I’m wondering, is that requirement a red flag? Or am I overly sensitive to it (because my current job burnt me out beyond recognition this year)?

    1. Pascall*

      I would say it depends on the industry/job. Some types of jobs are inherently stressful because of the nature of what they’re working with or the audience they’re addressing. My last job was stressful inherently because it was working with animals with a history of abuse/neglect. Other positions could be similar.

      But if it’s something that probably shouldn’t actually be stressful by default, I wouldn’t totally write an opportunity off, but I would definitely ask about it.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you! The industry isn’t one I know to be stressful. The job type can be, but it usually depends on which stakeholders you’re lucky (or unlucky to manage). It shouldn’t be stressful by default, but many workplaces make it so, and I’m trying to get away from one. I would definitely have asked how they see the stress management skills coming in, in an interview.

    2. germank106*

      I wouldn’t necessarily see it as a red flag until you know more. Could be they are looking for someone that can work under tight deadlines or have additional projects thrown at them. I think you might be overthinking this a bit.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Thank you, that helps. At the very least I’ll remember it as an odd choice of wording, seeing additional projects or tight deadlines mentioned would have made total sense, it’s a job that involves a lot of that.

    3. Sasha "Potato Girl" Blause*

      Sounds like the kind of place where they believe limits are excuses. As in, the toxic attitude that if there’s a level of stress that’s too much for you, it just means your stress management skills aren’t good enough, which in turn is a character flaw because you’re not disciplined enough to raise your skills to the point where you can cope with any level of stress no matter how extreme. It’s damaging af and goes hand in hand with toxic positivity.

      I’d bet their health plan is “eat right, exercise, and sleep enough; illness is your own fault” too.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Limits are excuses? My current head of department would totally go for that line!

        My worst-case read on it was more along the lines of “we’re proud of keeping the pressure on, and that’s never going to change, so don’t expect much support or balance when you join us” (which also sounds like my current employer, though, granted, some people thrive on figuring it all out alone).

    4. RagingADHD*

      I would take that as a yellow flag that they might have a problem with toxic personalities who take out their stress on coworkers. I’d definitely ask about it very directly, as in, “I noticed this, it’s an unusual thing to mention, how has this been an issue for the person in this role?”

      I’d also ask a lot about culture, management style, and team dynamics.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I like how you worded your question. In future I’d probably use it over my version (something like “how do you see effective stress management skills play a part in this role day to day?”), or as a follow-up.

        What are your go-to questions for culture, management style and team dynamics? I haven’t job searched in years, so, a bit rusty on that front :)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I ignore jobs like that. FWIW, of course.
      To me it reads like, “Our work environment sucks. We have no intention of ever fixing it. It’s up to you to sink or swim.”

      Oddly the “limits are excuses” people are usually the very people who are causing the stress.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Spot on. I would normally have ignored it too. There are very few jobs for my skill set in that industry, so I thought I’d see if I could get in front of an interviewer to ask about it.

        I work in that kind of environment, and my number one priority is avoiding another one, so things like this make me put my guard up. I’m trying to work out where the line is between “red flag” and me being too cautious, because I know I’ll have similar doubts again (see also: Glassdoor reviews split between enthusiastic, and critical in the exact way I’d be of my current job – I already self-selected out of many postings because of this).

  31. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    Yesterday someone asked me to tell more stories about my old boss that makes my former coworkers record holiday greetings that are praises of her and then plays it on a loop all year until the next Christmas. Strap in, some of these are wild.

    * The organization served a population that has faced and continues to face discrimination and oppression. She is not a member of that population. She was invited to a professional dinner where everyone was asked to go around the room and talk about a hardship in their lives that they overcame (was relevant to the topic of the dinner presentation). She hijacked the mic and turned it into an hour long personal trauma monologue that included being discriminated against because she is white.

    * We had a meeting with some funders for to a project update. She opened the meeting with an ice-breaker where we went around the room saying what we liked about her. Most of these folks had just met her that day.

    * She trained Siri to compliment her. And then sometimes thought Siri was mad at her/being rude because of its tone

    * Every time people were talking in a meeting, including presenting, she had to pipe in and turn the conversation back to her. Once I was presenting on different maternal and child health statistics to another person in the organization that handles outreach to the community on that topic. She pipes into the middle of the conversation, “I think I am going to have a baby”. You should have seen everyone’s faces

    I can add more later, but I am totally getting flashbacks. She was a piece of work.

    1. avocadotacos*

      Oh my! Thank you for sharing. I’m sure you’ll think of more now that the floodgates of memory are open

    2. Observer*

      A piece of work, indeed. How did she keep her job?

      Or was the BOD all white, with a “savior” complex?

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        No and that was the weird thing. All of the upper management and the board were from the community we served. Rumor had it that she had threatened to sue on the basis of discrimination because she was white when she got called out on a pretty huge issue. Not sure if that is true, but something has to be going on. They have restricted her duties to the point that she basically does nothing all day but talk to Siri, check out FB, and spam LinkedIn. None of us current or former employees can figure it out because this is an organization that has fired others for much less.

    3. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Oh man I hope you add more as you think of them. This is exactly the kind of delicious audacity that I live for (second hand of course).

      The Siri one is my favorite.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I totally died when she came to work and told us that during a team meeting. Training a virtual assistant to praise you apparently didn’t strike her as weird at all. She also thinks her dogs are jealous of Siri

        1. Totally Minnie*

          If you managed to hear her say that in a meeting and not fall out of your chair laughing, I applaud you. “The robot voice that lives in my phone is giving me lip” is absolutely something a bad boss in a sitcom would complain about.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            My coworkers and I couldn’t make eye contact for the rest of the meeting. After it ended we went on a lunchtime “walk” that ended up being us hiding behind the building and laughing so hard we cried

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Ack, I just remembered some more. She had a tendency to believe that any man she met was in love with her which led to some fun interactions.

      * One guy from one of our funders is an very out gay man as in he organizes our local Pride parade. For some reason she never figured it out and used to get all flirty, gropey, and handsy with him. He was a pretty physically expressive person so he took it in stride, although he did ask me if she did that to everyone. After he was legally able to marry his long term partner he told us all he was going to be out for his wedding and honeymoon. She FLIPPED and went on a total jealous rant to her staff in a team meeting. Finally, my most laconic and deadpan co-worker said, “You know he is gay, right?”

      * She had a terrible habit of flirting with male staff, especially the one white guy. We had a big staff appreciation day where people could bring their families. He walked in and she grabbed his arm and said, “Want to go grab a cocktail?” He said, “Sure, oh and let me introduce you to my wife, WeirdBoss, this is Wife, Wife, This is WeirdBoss”. She quite literally ran away and then crabbed our admin assistant and freaked out about him being married.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Funny thing is she is the second most off-kilter boss I have ever had. I had some really crap luck 2 times in a row. Luckily I had a string of great bosses before and after so my perception only got a little warped. I’ll share some of the other boss stories another time. I can’t handle thinking about TwilightBoss and TeamEdward and TeamJacob (are those the right names?) at the same time as WeirdBoss. TwilightBoss was both weird and malicious

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Two more before I run off to a meeting:

        *She had a really weird relationship with her sister for whom she moved to our city in the first place and lived with at the beginning of my time working with her. She’d complain endlessly about her sister being narcissistic, rude, entitled, compliment seeking (so basically everything WeirdBoss was). Then her sister got engaged and told her she had to move out and take the sister’s bird with her because the fiance was allergic. WeirdBoss FLIPPED out and spent the entire time before the wedding ranting about how her sister got a wedding and she got a budgie. She also kept saying she was going to have the bird euthanized while her sister was on her honeymoon. Luckily another person in the org heard that and offered to adopt the bird (which was a cockatoo, not a budgie). It is no surprise that the sister’s spouse IMMEDIATELY began looking for jobs that were at least a 5 hr flight away.

        * After not having a whole lot of luck on the relationship front (of which I have stories for later!) she decided to become a foster parent. All of us were horrified because we knew it was mostly to gain a captive audience to sing her praises. We all debated calling the agency and giving a heads up that she really wasn’t a great candidate. Thankfully, apparently one of her references during the initial screening not only said, “Oh hell no!” but “Oh F**KING HELL NO” and detailed their concerns then told her to never use them as a reference for anything again (her reference selection instincts are not good – of more which to come later). She was furious and spent the next 6 or so months using every meeting we had with everyone completely tearing down the reference and saying she had always been trying to sabotage her because WeirdBoss was better at everything than her.

    5. NW Mossy*

      Oh, I would have had way too much fun with unspoken endings to my responses to the “tell me what you like about me” prompt.

      “I admire your ability to keep a conversation on-topic” (when the topic is you)
      “You’re unstoppable!” (at talking about yourself)
      “You’re really effective at clearly communicating what you need” (endless praise and admiration)

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I always said something random like, “I like your car”, “I like your pen”, etc., but your responses are so much better that I almost want to go back and use them.

  32. should i apply?*

    What to when the end of the year highlights totally demotivates you?

    We had a couple staff meetings yesterday at different levels in the business. It was obviously meant to be a positive, look at what we have accomplished this year type meeting. It highlighted a bunch of great things that the business did and I felt completely left out. I can’t really say that I was overlooked, as we are a decently large business ~300 people and you can’t talk about everything. However, it really made me feel like nothing that I worked on is important to the business.

    I am working over the holidays, by choice, and I know its going to be really difficult to focus on anything with a) almost everyone on vacation b) this feeling that what I do doesn’t matter.

    So motivation tips needed..

    1. Roci*

      Struggling with the same thing. I’ve been trying to focus on the value I know I provide (for example maintenance instead of putting out fires–less flashy but more valuable in the long term) and the satisfaction I get from the people I work closely with who I do affect.

  33. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Today is my last Friday at this job– after this, only three more days. And I still do not have information on how they want me to return my equipment, because the person who is supposedly in charge of this type of thing wants to wait for someone else’s input, and he’s on PTO. No one ever leaves this place and they have no idea what to do.

    Oh, well. My background check finally cleared with my new company (they had some trouble verifying my last job because that company no longer exists) and I will be moving the heck on.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I wish. I report to the president and he expects the head of operations to just take care of everything. It is EXTREMELY frustrating.

  34. Retail Not Retail*

    Two questions of vastly different importance.

    My job is starting a diversity and inclusion committee – yay – and I want to be involved. However, my department is in the middle of a sexual and general harassment investigation started because of me and the only other woman there. Our “grandboss” is the executive sponsoring or however they put it. He’s in charge of the work release crew arrangement and they’re the victims of harassment from one of my coworkers and the perpetrators of other types. If nothing comes of this investigation, does that tell me this will be utterly toothless? I mean i literally heard “you’re in the shop! It’s a man’s place what can you expect?” last week. (My broader department is very male dominated. 5 of us if you count a certain crew and they may not count themselves with us.)
    I want to learn and participate and network but i’m also so disillusioned already by the homophobia and sexism I see and hear on a daily basis. Is it worth going?

    Second question! My boss approved 6 hours of personal time next Wednesday (use it or lose it yolo) – should I work 2 hours or lose 2 hours pay? The way our days go, I won’t be giving 2 hours of work (packing, traveling, going back to clock out) but I mean money’s money. Even if I came in the middle of the day we’d still lose ~30 minutes of travel time. If you were my manager and did that, what would you want?

    (Finally, no I have not sent that card because I am still grounded and I’m not that stupid to have fault in writing when I’m still not cleared to drive!)

    1. Web Crawler*

      For the first question, I’d say that it’s worth going until you get evidence that it’s not worth going to. At best, you’ll meet other people who are also sick of the sexism and homophobia around them and you might even be able to make a dent in it. And at worst, you’ve learned nothing new about your job

      1. Dream Jobbed*

        Agreed. Maybe the committee can start to make some real changes, or present a united body when it sees issues. Easier to ignore two than ten.

        Unless you prefer the time off get the two hours of pay.

    2. WellRed*

      You could join the diversity thing and bring up concerns with how the sexual harassment was or was not dealt with as an example of how change Doesn’t happen. I’d say the heck with the two hours and enjoy an actual day off.

    3. Anono-me*

      If you can afford to do so, take the full day off. There is a huge difference between a whole day off and a part day off.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Jump on the opportunity to be part of the diversity group. Go for it. IF this group is an effective group this will give you the boost you need with the problems in your department.
      In other words, don’t stop now— keep going!!!

  35. Notthemomma*

    I’m just done.
    Like many, I’ve been working from home since March, excess work piled on to ‘keep us busy’ by an incompetent manager who wants to prove herself; moving deadlines up so we ‘look good’ limiting and monitoring interaction between people on the team to remove ‘dissent’ expressly telling people not to ask questions. She has pushed for our team to meet at her house which I have flat out refused, and rather than supporting the team, we have to manage up as she whines about not being able to travel. We’re overworked, stressed, isolated (no talking to other teams unless she is included, no talking to each other unless work related).
    Much if this isn’t unique to me, but friends, can we all send some good vibes to each other for the un- and under-employed, those who need to find a different gig, and those of us who cannot, but need to find a way to suck it up until I can change my admittedly bad attitude?

    Tips for changing said attitude?

    1. BubbleTea*

      Would it help to imagine she is a rare other species and you are allq featuring in a nature documentary being narrated by David Attenborough? So things like “the BadBoss is trying to entice the colleagues to her habitat so she can perform a display ritual, but her attempts are proving unsuccessful. To avoid incurring her wrath, the colleagues are careful to disguise their social contact and keep out of her reach.” It might make the whole thing feel faintly farcical instead of infuriating, which it certainly sounds!

    2. Dream Jobbed*

      Can you meet with your team after hours and vent about what is going on? Legally she cannot stop you discussing work issues, and she has absolutely no say about what you do in your work hours. I just “lost” a bad boss, and our zoom happy hours were very helpful in limiting the gaslighting said boss was able to do.

    3. Pam*

      What does your job buy you? A roof over your head, money to support your goals? Concentrate on those until you can get out.

  36. Maureen*

    I posted this last week, but too late for responses – so posting again.

    At work all of our jobs have been evaluated and we’ve been informed of the result. Staff weren’t involved in the process at all. I’ve been told for my job rating I get paid too much. This means I will never get a pay-rise again. I don’t believe that my role has been correctly evaluated. Has anyone got any advice on how best to handle this? I want to ask for the criteria against which my role has been rated. Any suggestions on what else to do? Or any good phrases to include which mean it will be taken seriously

    1. Observer*

      “I quit” + “I’ve gotten a job paying X% more than I’m being paid now”, if at all possible.

      Seriously start looking for a new job. If you are right that you will NEVER get another raise, this place is toxic.

    2. Troutwaxer*

      Can you ask about how your role was evaluated? If so, I think I’d start there. Explain to your boss that “what they wrote isn’t what you heard” and that what you heard is “you’ll never get another raise again” and you’d like to know who evaluated your role, what they understood your role to be, what were the criteria, and why you weren’t included in the discussion, because you do X and Y which aren’t in the employee handbook, etc. – you doubtless know better than I do exactly how the discussion should go.

      If you can’t have that discussion, then look for another job.

      1. Maureen*

        He has just shrugged his shoulders and said he is in the same category as me. He is much more money though, so less painful. COL increases were not mentioned at all. I think they also won’t apply.

    3. Dream Jobbed*

      Did anyone get a bump up, or is everyone “overpaid?”

      Doesn’t really matter, but at least you will know if you are working for a cheap company or a bad boss that doesn’t have your back.

      Agree however, prepare to start the job hunt and find a better place that understands inflation, the value of experience, and how to treat people. So sorry this happened to you.

    4. PollyQ*

      You could definitely make your case about your assigned role not being correct, but even if you’re at the top of your bracket, you should still be eligible for COL raises, so being stuck at your current pay rate forever is a perfectly cromulent reason to start job-hunting. Unfortunately, there are no magic phrases to make an organization take things seriously if they don’t want to.

  37. Connor (student needs advice!)*

    Hello! I have a couple of questions I would like some help/advice with about accepting offers from Master’s programs. Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated! I’ve reached out to the schools involved as well, but I’d like to hear other people’s experiences and perspectives.

    Context:
    I’ve applied to and been accepted by a program that starts January 2021 (let’s call the school “Kore”). I’ve also applied to a few programs start in the Fall 2021. I won’t hear a decision from the Fall schools until mid-January 2021 at the earliest.

    The Problem:
    I need to tell Kore by Dec 31st whether I’m accepting or rejecting their acceptance offer. But I don’t know what to do about the Fall schools, or even what my options are. I’m scared to reject Kore and then find out I’m not accepted at any of the Fall schools. On the other hand, I’m scared that accepting and attending Kore means I won’t be able to accept/attend a Fall school if I get an offer from a Fall school. One person told me I could accept Kore, attend Kore during the spring, and then go to a Fall school if I get accepted there. Is that a possible route to take? I really don’t want to mess up and make assumptions about what I can and can’t do.

    Main Questions (feel free to address any or all of them!):

    1. Would going to Kore in the spring prevent me from accepting a Fall school later?

    2. If I attend Kore, would I still be able to receive offers from the Fall schools I applied to? Or would I automatically be knocked off the list somehow?

    3. The ability to transfer Master’s programs between schools seems to depend on each school’s own policy. How common is it to transfer Master’s programs? Is it okay to do so?

    4. Are Master’s programs able to be deferred? If so, how does that process usually go? Is deferment only allowed for certain reasons? (Recently realized my mental health is in the pits lately and that maybe “toughing it out” and starting a Master’s program next month would not go well…)

    Any advice or information would be appreciated! Especially from those who’ve been in similar situations, work at graduate admissions offices, etc!

    1. Jellyfish*

      That’s a rough spot to be in, but congrats on your acceptance to Kore!
      You may have a bit more flexibility than usual because enrollment is down everywhere, and most universities are pretty desperate to get people.

      Is the Kore program significantly different or inferior to the Fall ’21 programs? I’m assuming you’d prefer the other programs based on your questions.

      1. / 2. No, I doubt most universities will care if you’re attending another program as well. That shouldn’t affect whether you’re accepted or not at this point because your application materials are already turned in. It likely won’t make much difference to them later either, especially at the Masters level. PhDs tend to have more politics involved, but it would be unusual for a school to pull an offer.
      However, if you’re concerned, talk to the admissions / recruiting office. They’ll be able to tell you if anything would disqualify you.

      That said…
      3. Transferring partway through is probably not the best route. I’d avoid that if possible. Masters programs are comparatively short, and it’s unlikely you’d get a 1 to 1 transfer of classes. If they let you do it at all, you’ll end up spending a lot more time and money taking more classes than you would if you stuck with one school the whole way.

      4. That’s dependent on the school and program, but in the current climate, they’re more likely to allow it. Again, talk to the admissions office or maybe the advisor for the program you’re in. IMO, that may be your best option here. Once your mental health improves and you have answers from the other schools, then you can make a more informed decision.

      Best of luck!
      (I don’t work graduate admissions, but I do have two fairly recent masters degrees and work in higher ed)

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for the advice! I’ve reached out to Kore’s admissions office about deferment and hope to hear from them soon.

        I hadn’t really realized how short Masters programs are until reading your comment. If I took 1 semester, that would already be around 1/4 of the program! So definitely a good reason not to accept Kore before trying to defer first.

    2. Grits McGee*

      1. Assuming you’re in the US- there’s no law saying you can’t withdraw from one university MA program and start another. However, I wouldn’t assume you would be able to transfer credits. There’s a decent chance you would need to start from the beginning, and write the spring semester at Kore off as a loss (financial and time).

      2. I’ll leave this to someone with more knowledge of enrollment logistics and inter-collegiate information sharing.

      3. In my MA program we had someone transfer from one MA track (Academic History) to another track (Public History) within the department. That was relatively easy and happened within the first couple weeks of the student’s first semester. Most MA programs are so short (1-2 years), that it really only makes sense to transfer to another program if your focus of study has changed so much that the original MA program no longer meets your needs.

      4. Sometimes! It’s definitely worth reaching out to your admissions point of contact to inquire. This is such a weird year, there’s no telling what they might say.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for the advice and your thoughts/experiences with transferring!
        Yes, I’m in the USA and these are US universities.

    3. Pond*

      It sounds like you may want to lean heavily towards getting your Kore admission deferred to the fall if possible (probably would be possible some places and not at others). This would be both so that you can see how it goes with your other applications, and for your mental health. Starting not just a semester, but a whole new academic program when your mental health is down is probably doable, but really not great, as you want to have your full brain working to adjust to the new program.
      If you can’t defer Kore from the spring to the fall, then you will need to consider whether you would be okay with deferring it for a full year. Whether or not to do that would depend what you’re doing in the meantime (are you or a partner working so you have income, are you living at home (okay or need to get out so your family doesn’t drive you crazy?), something else?) and if there’s a particular reason that you want to start the Master’s program now vs in a year.
      Good luck with however it turns out and whatever you decide!

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for the advice and for your perspective! I’ve contacted Kore about deferment options now and hopefully will hear back with some good news.

        Luckily, my family is very supportive and in a steady financial situation. I’m very grateful I don’t have to worry about shelter/income on top of this school decision!

    4. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      I work in graduate admissions at an R1 Midwestern university in the U.S. So, my answers are U.S. specific.

      1. Nope, it won’t prevent you! However, there’s no guarantee that your Kore credits will be accepted as transfer credits by the other institution.

      2. The other institutions won’t know! And even if they did, students transfer institutions ALL THE TIME. And they may attend an institution for just one semester to take prereq courses or whatever.

      3. It’s OK to do so! But yes, whether your credits will transfer will depend on the institution. Talk to the admissions contact early!

      4. A lot of master’s programs at my institution are allowing deferment! Reach out to the admissions contact and ask if it’s possible. Right now, “the pandemic” and “financial reasons” are plenty good enough reasons for programs that do allow admissions. We’re seeing SO MANY DEFERRALS right now!

      For the institutions that you’re eyeing for Fall semester, you can just call central grad admissions/Graduate School office and ask how things are being handled by the specific institution.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for the information and advice! It’s a relief to hear clearly the answers to questions 1 and 2! And that deferments are okay and not “looked down on”. I’ve made sure to contact Kore about deferring.

        These are US universities so your information is very relevant! My family and I are not super familiar with the USA education system so I really appreciate your clear answers and advice.

        To you or to anyone else who may know,
        Would it be appropriate to name my mental health as the reason to defer or would it be better to leave it as vaguely “the pandemic”?
        I worry about possible mental health stigma or inappropriate too much detail.

        1. ShinyPenny*

          I’d suggest it would be wisest to not cite mental health as the issue. I don’t think you owe “complete honesty” in this business-type situation.
          If you are comfortable going with “pandemic” (which is also likely *true* in a larger sense! it’s making every mental-health struggle worse!) and “finances” it seems like it would be totally effective– and easiest on you, which is an excellent priority.
          I would feel the same about any medical issue, because physical and mental health/disabilities are, in my experience, a) not universally respected in our culture, and b) more stressful to disclose ramdomly to strangers. So, don’t feel obligated to disclose your most complete and painful truth here! It isn’t needed and it’s an unnecessary risk. Take care of yourelf first.
          Especially given what Princes Flying Hedgehog said, as a person in that field:

          “4. A lot of master’s programs at my institution are allowing deferment! Reach out to the admissions contact and ask if it’s possible. Right now, “the pandemic” and “financial reasons” are plenty good enough reasons for programs that do allow admissions.”

          The general rule, I think, is that it’s always safest to default to ‘not-personal’ excuses/topics/discussions when you are in ‘not-personal’ settings with people you do not know well/people you work with– unless you are consciously choosing to be a warrior of change in that moment, and have the energy/spoons to deal well with any weird fallout.
          Good luck!

    5. Dr.X*

      Can you ask Kore to defer your start date to Fall 2021? Normally they’d ask you to pay a deposit but I don’t think there would be anything stoppiing you from backing out if you do receive a better offer in this admissions cycle.

      What i wouldn’t do is start Kore intending to leave. That seems like a waste of $$ and efffort. There might be some ways to transfer credits among masters programs but it’s likely to be expensive and inefficient.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for your advice! I’ve contacted Kore about deferring and am waiting for their response now.

        Reading the comments here has helped me understand how starting Kore half-heartedly would be a very bad idea. Thank you for the information about a possible deposit attached to a deferment!

    6. Dream Jobbed*

      Agree with others to defer until fall. People have financial and family matters postpone program entry all the time.

      However, if you are in a very high demand program (nursing, etc.) and they get a huge application pool in the fall you might be risking your spot, so proceed with a little more caution in that case.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for the advice! It’s a relief to hear that lots of other people also postpone their program entry and for various reasons.

    7. Zephy*

      1 and 2 – No, unless you notify the other schools that you’re no longer interested in attending, I don’t think you’d be auto-magically dropped from consideration for a Fall start. Those schools know their programs start in the Fall, they have no real way (or reason!) to know what you’ll be doing for the first 8 months of 2021. If 4 of those months are spent completing graduate coursework somewhere else, that’s fine.

      3 – Whether or not credits earned in one program will apply to another is up to the receiving institution. If you’re going for a Master’s in the same discipline, whatever coursework you complete in Spring will probably transfer – if you can get a course progression or program outline or whatever the school calls the list of classes you have to pass to get this particular degree from all the institutions you’re considering and compare them, you’ll probably see a lot of overlap.

      I can’t speak to 4, but I’m sure someone else knows about deferment – and I would imagine that deferment policies are a little more lax right now because of COVID in a lot of places. I’d encourage you to ask Kore about deferment; the worst thing they can do is say no.

      The main thing about master’s programs is that there’s not a lot of financial aid available for them, and much of the aid that is available for them comes with strings attached; e.g., employer-based tuition assistance that only covers certain kinds of programs/lengths of time/numbers of credits per term and requires you to continue to work for the company for a certain amount of time after using the benefit or else you have to pay it back. If you can afford a semester of grad school that may or may not “count” without putting yourself in dire financial straits, then I’m sure you could enroll at Kore for Spring and maybe Summer, and then transfer to one of the other schools for Fall, if you’re accepted.

      You said, though, that you’re getting the sense that starting grad school in a couple of weeks may not be the best move for your mental health. Because of that, it might be a better idea to defer or decline Kore regardless of whether you could afford it. Your mental health is as important as your physical health, and especially after the traumatic year we’ve all been through, maybe taking some time to heal is the best thing right now.

      1. Connor (student needs advice!)*

        Thank you for your answers and advice! Your last line about the importance of mental health made me tear up a bit, haha. I guess I really needed to hear that right now :)

    8. lemon*

      I can only really speak to 3.

      Transferring from one master’s program to another is pretty common, but I’ve usually seen that happen when people are totally switching to a new discipline (e.g. from math to philosophy or English to history or whatever). The issue is that the credits often don’t transfer–either because the disciplines or so different, or just because the university wants your $$$–so you’re likely looking at a situation where you’d be starting over.

      I was looking into transferring to another school because I haven’t been happy with my master’s program (STEM master of science) and every university I contacted does not accept any transfer credit. So, I’m stuck with my program. I wish I had done more research and made sure I was picking the right school before I started. Which is just to say… if you’re not certain Kore is right for you, it’s a good idea to defer until you’re sure.

  38. Rational Lemming*

    Not a request for advice, but a funny anecdote I thought Ask A Manager readers would enjoy.

    Last week, I was trying to explain the BEC (B*tch Eating Crackers) concept to my husband after he had another annoying interaction with a coworker.
    I didn’t think that I did a great job of explaining it, but then this week he said something like “That d*ck eating chips at work…”. I was super confused for a second but then had to laugh.

    So in our house, b*tch eating crackers has turned into d*ck eating chips!

    (For those who don’t know, BEC is the phase when someone is so annoying to you that every little thing that they do just makes you grit your teeth. Like – this b*tch is eating crackers again and it’s driving me nuts! At least that’s how I understand, others feel free to chime in if you can better describe it!)

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      I give my ducks crackers occasionally, so I approve.

      Though I would change it to, “Ducks Eating Quackers” for obvious reasons.

    2. DaisyAvalin*

      That sounds fantastic! I’ve always been ever so slightly put off by BEC, because it’s so gendered, but praise your hubby for coming up with the male version!

    3. Zephy*

      I first encountered the phrase “b*tch eating crackers” on one of those sarcastic someecards that were kind of a meme probably 10 years ago now. It said “Look at this b*tch, eating crackers like she owns the place.” It’s meant to convey when you’re so fed up/annoyed by a person that literally everything they do gets on your nerves, even if they’re just sitting there having lunch and not affecting you at all. So, if you’re “at BEC levels” with someone, just being around them gets you on-edge.

  39. AdAgencyChick*

    Today’s question #3 made me think about our holding company’s bring-your-own-device policy, which we were recently made to acknowledge receipt of.

    The policy basically says “we won’t pay for your device or your data, but we can ask for your passwords if there’s data that needs to be deleted from your device.”

    Can they do that? I noticed we weren’t asked to sign that we agreed, only to click a button acknowledging we had been provided with the policy. If I were ever in a position where my company were to want my passwords, I can just say no and have no worse consequences than angry and possibly official-sounding letters, right?

    1. MissFinance*

      I worked in IT, and this was also a practice we used for BYOD. However, in practice, we never actually asked to see someone’s device to erase data. My guess is you’d have to be carrying around something very classified for them to even consider it.

    2. MissFinance*

      Also, if you’re just checking email in your phone, you can get around that by logging in through your browser (like Chrome). That’s what I did at one job because they wanted me to have a password that had letters and numbers to unlock my phone and wanted an extra installation, and I wasn’t doing that.

    3. Lyudie*

      I mean, I suppose they could say this is a condition of employment and fire you if you refuse, but I don’t know if they’d really want to go the nuclear route. Regardless, this is a ridiculous policy. Personally I’d be tempted to get a cheapo pay-as-you-go phone to use for work, if I absolutely had to use a phone for work.

    4. Malarkey01*

      You don’t have to formally sign anything to agree with company policy. They could fire you in the future for refusing to give your passwords. That sucks and would be a really crappy move, but there’s nothing to stop them (assuming US employee).

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Right, a big assumption I’m making (that I didn’t of course state up top) is that I imagine the most likely scenario for work asking for passwords would be after you quit or are fired, in which case the threat of being fired wouldn’t matter.

    5. Dream Jobbed*

      This isn’t the same, but I never download any work stuff on my personal computer. I will do web e-mail and zoom meetings (because my work computer can’t handle video), but nothing else. I work full time in education, but do taxes part time, and cannot have my personal computer subjected to a FOIA request. There is no way some public person on a vendetta against my employer is going to get access to my client’s tax and finance information.

      Can you refuse to use your personal device for work so that your privacy isn’t compromised? If not, are they paying you for it and can you just get a cheap one to use instead, only for work?

      1. MacGillicuddy*

        Some companies that have BYOD policies will wipe your device if you leave the company. Find out what your company does in that situation.
        I know a couple of people who carry 2 mobile phones for that reason.

  40. MissFinance*

    What are your thoughts on this?

    My office has gone to a policy where you can come into the office on alternating weeks if your job requires it, but you don’t have to because of the CoVid spikes. It seems like my co-workers who are coming into the office have developed some sort of superiority complex. We had a snowstorm this week that was impacting people’s internet connections (and power) and during a meeting when one person was having trouble connecting, a manager (who I normally find very likeable) make a snide comment saying “Well, that’s why I came into the office today.” Like, good for you, some of us can’t? It’s never been directed at me; I’ve worked from home the entire pandemic and my boss and his boss fully support it because I have chronic conditions, and my teammate isn’t upset by it either, but it seems somehow some of my co-workers who don’t do that look down on those who do.

    It’s worth noting that prior to the pandemic, my company was very weird about people working from home. You couldn’t work from home on a Monday or a Friday (sometimes my boss let me anyway) and you could only work two days a month from home so this is a big switch for us.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      If it’s not your boss/chain of command, I’d let it go. We have some of those as well, who are noting that this is something we need to allow right now given the circumstances, but who have basically been dragged there kicking and screaming.

    2. blink14*

      Even in the midst of a pandemic, optics are still overly important to many people and companies. I work at a large university, my entire department has been remote since mid-March, and I personally will continue to be until least this coming March, because I also have chronic conditions. The city that our main campus is in (where my office is based too) has a heavy building capacity restriction due to COVID, and those who don’t need to be on campus continue to be encouraged to stay home for safety and to keep capacity down.

      Does our big big boss care about this? Not really. They were mad that none of us were planning to work on campus, in person, in the fall. But we can’t meet with anyone, we aren’t student facing, and we’re getting all our work done. It came out that the university higher ups didn’t like seeing such empty buildings. Um hello, it’s a pandemic, anyone who can work remotely, should. Especially if they are based in a large city.

    3. Totally Minnie*

      I feel like this is the pandemic version of that coworker who’s talking about how early they get to work and how often they stay late. There’s always going to be a sub-set of employees who will have a superiority complex about doing a thing no one is required to do, and they are always going to be annoying to the coworkers who do the actual job requirements. I’d say give them an internal eye roll and keep on moving.

    4. tangerineRose*

      This reminds me of the people who are proud of coming in while sick (and passing their germs around at work).

      There do seem to be a lot of people who think the pandemic isn’t real, so maybe that’s where the manager is coming from. Personally, not only do I not want to catch it or spread it, I also feel like I’m doing my civic duty by being careful about the pandemic. The more of us can stay at home, the better!

    5. RagingADHD*

      I think that there is a universal constant in humanity of some people needing to find reasons to look down on others, and if you give it headspace or attach importance to it, you are whittling away your own peace of mind.

      If it wasn’t this, it would be something else. Someone is always going to look down on you for something, no matter what you do.

      Why does it matter to you?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Wait. We can put up a statue and elevate him to sainthood./s

      Some people love to martyr themselves for their job. It’s a bunch of “look at me” stuff.

      The best you can do is know where YOU stand and know that you are being true to how you think you should handle things.

      I think I’d be tempted to frame it as, “You’re a big boss, this is what you are paid the big bucks for. I’m so not either one of those things.”

      I’d love to see him go all the way to work and find out NO ONE had internet connection, not even at work. ha!

  41. Lyudie*

    How do you get (and/or stay) motivated and engaged when you are not sure you really like what you’re doing (after making a major career shift, no less), 2020 is, well, is 2020ing, plus depression and anxiety and maybe ADHD? I just cannot seem to focus on work and be productive. I’m off for the holidays after today and I’m hoping the two weeks off will help reset my brain a little. Also my dr. is upping one of my meds that tends to help with focus. I think I am going to try to timebox my time off a little, even if it’s “fun” stuff I’m doing i.e. “this morning I will read a book, after lunch I will take out the recycling and put in a load of laundry” to hopefully train myself back into being able to focus. I dunno. Everything just seems to be a bottomless pit right now, and has for months.

    1. OtterB*

      I wrestle with this too. It helps me (sometimes) to have a list where at least the first few things are prioritized and very clear. (e.g. not “work on the X report” but “download data for the X report, run the stats for Tables 1, 2, and 3”

      Enjoy your time off.

      1. Lyudie*

        Yeah, I need to get back to my to-do list app more. Another thing I want to work on getting back into while I’m off, I figure I can put small things I want/need to do around the house and get back into the habit of marking things off.

    2. Dream Jobbed*

      I feel like my ADD is roaring at me the last 8 months. I love some of working from home, but it’s so hard to just do project after project on my own with no contact with others. New boss, so I don’t want to express how bad the ADD is right now (and I’m getting the must dos done, but not all the wanna dos), especially since new boss knows how bad and damaging old boss was. Will just feel like an excuse.

  42. Murphy*

    My division has a director and two ADs. We’re all working remotely. One of our ADs just….doesn’t respond to email. With working remotely I’m hesitant to call him at home on his cell for nonurgent issues. I had several issues that were hanging out there for weeks because he didn’t respond even to follow ups. I had an unrelated meeting with my AD (my boss) and our director and I let them know that he doesn’t respond, asking how to handle it. They looked at each individual issue I had outstanding instead of addressing the broader issue of him not responding to emails. (Several of those issues really did require his input and still took a really long time to resolve, even with my director checking in with him.)

    Just yesterday I asked my AD for help with an issue (a requirement of the federal government) and he said to ask the other AD since he knows more about it. I copied my AD on the email and later he sent me a chat message saying that someone else at a level below me might be able to help in case the AD doesn’t respond. How is it OK for this AD to just not respond to things that require his attention? Is this an issue I should bring up with my boss or our director again?

    1. Ferrina*

      If he’s not an emailer, is there a different form of communication that works better? Does he respond via IM? Should you set up a standing meeting to get through things, or just plan to do a (bi)weekly call? Maybe email saying “I’ve got issues X, Y and Z- if I don’t hear back from you, I’ll give you a call on Thursday”.
      If that still doesn’t work, then when you bring it up to your boss/director you can say “I’ve tried changing my communication to solve this problem by [setting up a standing meeting/calling twice a week to address outstanding issues], but I’m not getting results. What do you recommend to ensure I’m getting what I need to do my job?”

      1. Murphy*

        Unfortunately, he’s not on our IM system, or I’d definitely try that. I only need things from him as they arise, it’s not anything I need regularly, so meetings would be overkill.

    2. Observer*

      Start calling him. Unless you have some other means of communicating, you call his cell phone. You don’t have to call for stuff that REALLY is not urgent. But if you need some information from him, he hasn’t responded and you’re nearing deadlines, it has now become urgent.

      No, his behavior is not ok. Make sure that your DD is kept up to date on the issues that this is causing. But beyond that, you don’t have standing to do anything or enforce anything.

    3. merope*

      I’m going to take a slightly stronger tack that some of the other responses. He is working from home, not on vacation. With that comes an expectation that he is as reachable at home as he would be in the office. If you need information from him, and would normally follow up with him by phone or in person if you were in the office together, you should call him for it while you are working remotely. If he doesn’t answer the call, that’s on him, not on you.

  43. Ferrina*

    I had changed from my company’s insurance to my husband’s company during open enrollment. His insurance kicks in on 1/1. We just learned that my company’s insurance ended on 12/1. My family is now without insurance for a month.

    1) is that a thing to implement open-enrollment changes on 12/1? I thought 1/1 was when changes were implemented
    2) how do I cover my family’s medical expenses? Are there options, or are we stuck paying out of pocket for a month?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      There are options, though whether you want to implement them depends entirely on what your medical expenses for the month of December are. (My medical expenses, for example, are such that I probably wouldn’t even bother, but your mileage may vary.)

      The simplest way to go: If your company removes you from your insurance, this is a qualifying event that should allow your spouse to add you to his insurance outside of open enrollment. They may be like “Seriously, y’all can’t just wait two weeks?” but functionally, you losing your insurance counts.

    2. HRBee*

      Yes, different companies can have different coverage periods. For example, my company’s coverage period is April to March. We do Open Enrollment at the end of February every year.

      Options for coverage at this point are limited. You could see if your company will let you enroll late and then use a “gain of other coverage” life event to drop coverage next month, but with it already being halfway through December, I’m not sure that’s likely. Based on the information, I can’t tell whether you’d be eligible for COBRA, but you might ask about that option as well. Otherwise, you could check the Marketplace, but again, not sure if you can backdate coverage at this point.

      1. Natalie*

        Enrollment due to a qualifying event is always retroactive – the eligibility starts at the date of the event but you can’t complete the paperwork until after the event happens. Anyone who’s had a baby has probably had to remind the hospital that just because the baby’s paperwork isn’t completed doesn’t mean they don’t have insurance coverage.

    3. Pond*

      They might or might not have anything, but you can check if your state has some kind of health insurance you could use. As HRBee mentioned, check into COBRA. You could also find out if the new insurance will retroactively cover December.
      I’ve been in situations where I lost health insurance and didn’t get new coverage for a few months, and when I did it was back dated. (Ex. lost January 31 and got new in April which was back dated to February 1, so living during Feb-March I had no coverage but according to the paperwork I was covered for Feb-March)
      If you don’t have any expected medical things (or medications to refill) for December you could go without insurance entirely, but of course that can be very risky – if everything goes fine it’s not a problem, but if something goes wrong it could turn out to be terrible and extremely expensive.

    4. Natalie*

      You are almost certainly eligible for COBRA, and the best part is you don’t need to do anything unless your expenses end up being more than the premium.

      You have 60 days from the date the paperwork is sent to enroll in COBRA coverage, but if you do it will be retroactive to when your policy ended. Pay any December expenses out of pocket. If, by the end of the month, your out of pocket expenses were high enough or someone got into an accident or something, enroll in COBRA.

    5. Ferrina*

      Thank you all! This was so, so helpful. I’m working with my HR to enroll for a few weeks, then disenroll on 1/1, since joining my husband’s insurance will qualify for them as a qualifying event. It’s great to know that this there are a few options on this!

  44. gyrfalcon*

    What does it mean to be a good team-player at work? How do you exhibit this to teammates, especially when the whole team is 100% WFH?

    My manager wants me to show more engagement and interest as part of the team, and I honestly don’t know what “team” and “team-player” mean in a work context, apart from just doing my job and helping coworkers if/when they ask for help.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I hate that term, especially when it’s used by management. If you want your employees to be good “team players,” then you model being a good “team player” for them. Too often that term is misused to mean “Do more than is reasonable even though we aren’t going to compensate you more for it, and we won’t ask the same of everyone, only the underlings.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      My manager wants me to show more engagement and interest as part of the team

      Can you clarify with your manager what exactly they want? Maybe they can give you some examples?

      1. Girasol*

        Or examples of a time when you did something that indicated to him a lack of engagement. (OTOH, I and some of my women coworkers have noted that some managers have a tendency to say “You need to speak up more! Try to engage more with the team!” one year and “You need to try harder to listen to others and not talk so much in team meetings!” the next, alternating the advice each year. You might watch for that pattern.)

      2. BubbleTea*

        I had this with a previous boss. An example she gave was that I could offer to make other people a cup of tea when I was making myself one. I pointed out that I don’t drink tea or coffee, I always drink from my water bottle. Then I gave some examples of things I had done that she had overlooked. She was a little nonplussed. I left that job early (it was a six month role, I left after four).

        1. tangerineRose*

          What is wrong with people?! Here, let me act like a waitress and make tea/coffee for my co-workers. No, they can get their own tea!

            1. Zephy*

              This is why I haven’t touched the coffeemaker we have set up in the office. I’ll bring my own from home or buy a cup at the on-site Starbucks. I refuse to take responsibility for the coffee machine.

        2. PollyQ*

          Wow, I’ve never in my life given or received a random beverage for a colleague. Why would someone even assume that I wanted one?

    3. Bostonian*

      Yeah, definitely ask your manager to clarify what that looks like to them. For me, I would interpret that to mean (in addition to helping when asked, which you’re doing) offering ideas and opinions during meetings and online/email discussions. Doesn’t have to be all the time or even most of the time. You don’t even need to say anything particularly ground-breaking. Sometimes what we think of as “obvious” still needs to be said by someone.

    4. Nacho*

      My boss is trying to do the same thing to me. The example they gave was posting in the Christmas chat. Basically nobody knows what being a “team player” looks like right now. They just know you aren’t it.

    5. Littorally*

      It’s helping coworkers if/when they ask for help — but also looking out for places where you can anticipate that they would need help, or ways you can make things work smoother among the group.

      For instance — I’m getting ready to go on vacation, and I’ve got a couple pieces of casework that aren’t ready to wrap up yet. My coworker offered to take over as point person on those cases if I would send her my notes for them, to ensure our clients aren’t impacted by me being out. We arranged it so any mail the client submitted would be forwarded to her instead of me. (It’s all electronic forwarding; someone at our mailbox scans it and emails it to me, and I set an inbox rule that anything from Mail gets forwarded to her.) That’s being a fantastic team player on her part and I’m probably gonna nominate her for an interpersonal award when I get back.

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

      It sounds like your boss might like you to OFFER to help without being asked, or find ways to be more social while working from home. It could be accomplished by emailing a “good morning everyone, I’m in the ‘office’,” or the dreaded Reply All (I’ve noticed a large increase in RA in my office and it’s mostly just a way to signal that we’re reading our email and paying attention I guess).

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      Ugh. In my experience “team player” is often code for “say yes to everything.”

      It means different things to different people. It’s definitely worth asking your manager, “What are some things I could do differently that would make you see me as more of a team player?” The answer could be anything from “talk to people more at happy hour” to “work more late nights” to “when we’re busy, proactively take on tasks that aren’t part of your job description.”

    8. Dear liza dear liza*

      With “engagement,” I would guess it means interacting and being supportive of your colleagues. What that looks like really depends on your setting. I’m in an academic library, so for my department that looks like participating in informal Teams channels, making it a point to give public thanks when a colleague has gone above and beyond, asking others to collaborate on papers and projects, and basically, when talking strategy, seeing success as “what’s best for the department” and not “what’s best for me.” Offering to share the pain (nobody likes 8 am commitments, so we rotate them. Everyone likes a particular meeting- we rotate that, too.) Before making a suggestion for the department, thinking about how it will affect others.

  45. Pascall*

    For other trans individuals, does anyone have any recommendations on how to ask that people use your correct pronouns? I’m struggling with asserting myself and would like people to use they/them, but I’m not sure how to ask or make people aware without drawing too much uncomfortable attention to myself, especially since a lot of people in the department are older.

    I also want to put them in my signature, but from the number of people calling me by my birth name (because I have to legally have it in my Outlook/my work badge/etc., working at a school district), people aren’t going to read my signature, which has my preferred name in it. Outlook plasters my legal name everywhere otherwise.

    Any tips are totally welcome.

    1. Web Crawler*

      Do you have any allies? I’ve had success at work and in my personal life by telling loud allies my pronouns and giving them some basic instructions. (Admittedly, this is easier because I use he/him so I don’t get the “but grammar!” pushback). It tends to go something like this:

      “Hey, I’ve noticed people calling me “she” when I go by “they”. If people do that around you, could you say something? This is really bothering me, and I can’t be everywhere at once.”

      And have some articles handy to explain why pronouns matter or how to be an ally or why singular they/them isn’t an affront to the English language. People who are conscientious often ask for more information, and it’s a relief to not have to explain everything all the time.

    2. tears of the mushroom*

      Look into a legal name change. In my state you fill out a form and pay $39 and in about 2 weeks you get the court order. I listed “gender confirmation” for the reason. Then you can change Outlook to your legal name. No different than when folks marry or divorce. Then just start with the “oh, my name is now … and I prefer they/them”. If my 87 year old father can get that his grandson is his grandson, surely professional adults can get it. Just present that it is an absolutely obvious point (and why would it not be?). Congrats on making the change. It will get easier with time.

      1. Pascall*

        I’m in Texas and it costs $700 to get a name change. You have to appear before a judge and everything. But I have to be receiving medical treatment or therapy for a combined 12 months before I can even start the process, so unfortunately, I’m stuck waiting until October for a legal name change lol. Texas doesn’t make it easy.

        1. Reba*

          Would you consider pursuing the name change first, separately from your gender marker change? I imagine there are benefits to going for them simultaneously, lower court fees overall, but you don’t need to wait or have a certain reason to do a name change. And I just don’t feel like you are going to win over the school-legal requirement splashing your birth name everywhere, so maybe it would be worth it to get the name underway.

          To your question, I have faith (perhaps naive, lol) that at least a few colleagues you are close to could be enlisted for this, like Web Crawler suggests! Many people like to be asked to help or to feel that they are trustworthy. It would also give you practice asking this of people. Try to keep it light and friendly in tone and many folks will take their cue from you. Maybe have a resource or two handy so if someone is like Gender????wha??? you can send them a link and say, “Let me send you something that explains it pretty well, thanks so much for wanting to understand!”

          Good luck, that must be so grating on a daily basis.

          1. Pascall*

            Unfortunately, my county doesn’t differentiate in the process. Getting your name and gender marker changed is the same process and costs the same, no matter if you want one or both. Personally, I don’t think I’ll be changing my gender marker unless I decide to start testosterone, but the name is the more important bit. I still have to be seeking treatment for 12 months either way, apparently.

            I don’t know what they do for cis people who want to change their name… But… my research has been yielding very little.

            ANYWAY here’s the good news: I ended up just asking my supervisor and coworker that shares my office in a moment of boldness and they both agreed to use they/them. My supe will also be talking to our Senior HR Director about how to make sure the rest of the HR department (the dept. where I work) knows.

            Thank you for the encouragement all!

    3. Cendol*

      Ack, following. My manager is fantastic, and we totally sat down and talked about using they/them for me going forward, and she even reached out to our internal clients to make sure they were aware, and…it’s been six months and EVERYONE has forgotten. It’s in my email signature and some folks have taken note, but not many. And like you, I feel uncomfortable drawing attention to myself. Plus we already had that conversation once, and even though my manager was completely on board and up-to-date on The Issues, I still wanted to sink into the floor. Really not relishing having to do it again.

      I’m just over here slowly growing a mustache on HRT, twiddling my thumbs, being like, at some point someone’s gonna realize how awkward this is…

      Perhaps you could change your signature or badge to Legal Name “Gender Neutral Nickname” Surname?

    4. Roci*

      I can only comment about second paragraph, is it really “legally” required that your Outlook/work badge have your legal name? Surely your workplace has dealt with this issue with students and married women and others changing their names or going by a nickname/middle name… transphobia aside, this should be something the system can handle.

      I hope you’re able to get people to use your correct name and pronouns <3

  46. JustaTech*

    Fun little story for all the IT folks who are forever trying to teach us good internet security practices:
    This week we got an email at work with out holiday gift: an electronic charge card for $x. (Major credit card company, not Amazon).
    Immediately after getting this email about half the company emailed IT or HR to check and see if it was a phishing scam.
    Mostly because IT has really been hammering home the importance of *not clicking on stuff*, and a little bit because we honestly didn’t believe that they would give us $X. So many people contacted IT and HR that the head of HR, and then the CEO had to send out follow up emails that, yes, this is real, good job for being safe, please chill out.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      That’s amazing. I wish that would happen more often instead of people just randomly clicking stuff.

      1. JustaTech*

        If I had to guess, IT was *thrilled* that we’re finally listening to them (there have been issues in the past) and I think HR was annoyed that we didn’t trust the company to be generous. Some days I’d love to be able to have a really candid conversation with HR and say “look, you’re all new here, or newer than most, so you haven’t seen the things we’ve seen. Can we just say once bitten, twice shy and please don’t take it personally?”

        ‘Cause the last overlords? That 100% would have been a scam.

  47. Children in academia*

    I have a question about having kids in academia, and I’m not sure if this is better for a Saturday open thread, but we’ll try here anyway.
    My husband and I are both graduate students (we are paid, have Heath insurance, etc) and want kids. I could graduate a year from now (Dec ‘21), but he probably can’t until the following spring (May ‘22), so I’ll probably push my graduation until then as well. However, this would push having kids back until at least summer ‘23 to allow for a year at our postdocs before having a kid. We’re considering pushing the timeline up and having a kid at the end of grad school, but is that crazy? If everything works out, we’d have a <6 month old when finishing up our dissertations, moving across country for new jobs. Also, what about health insurance ending/a gap between ending grad school and starting a post-doc? Have people had babies right before both parents switching jobs? Am I over- or under-thinking this?

    1. D3*

      A suggestion:
      Graduate in Dec 2021, have baby (ideally) in late Jan/Feb/Mar during your husband’s last semester, start postdocs at the same time when baby is a few months old. It’s not easy to move with a baby, for sure. But way easier than with older kids, or while pregnant!
      I work with birthing families and SO MANY people had babies before or during their postdoc year! So many that I reached out to the university’s coordinator for helping students coming for doctoral or postdoc work and gave her my business cards.

    2. Hi there*

      Every age with kids is wonderful and comes with its own stresses. I found I couldn’t plan too much since these things tend to have their own timing. You could start trying to get pregnant now and see what happens. If you have a baby in the fall, then you’d graduate in May 2022. Best of luck to you and your husband!

      1. Hi there*

        I also think you would have a better support network in place where you are now than in a hypothetical new location. I agree with Reba below about deciding how you’ll handle the work of being parents so it does not default to one person.

    3. Reba*

      It’s good to think about these things, but remember it’s not really a choice exactly when the kids come :) When it happens, you will deal!

      What would your responsibilities be while you remained enrolled? Would you prefer to graduate earlier and perhaps have a “leave” while finished with school and presumably on spouse’s insurance? Do you think your adviser or department would react positively/supportively (hate that you have to consider this)?

      People do this! My in-laws had their first child while in school. Of course, there are way more pressures on students/young PhDs now, but even in more recent times, two people who were in my PhD program also had infants while writing. It slowed down their timelines but didn’t derail them. One person I knew did drop the program, but had an infant on top of I think 2 other littles.

      I would be more concerned about your career prospects and what will happen after graduation wrt kids, regardless of when precisely they happen! I think you should be talking now about who will do primary childcare, what will happen if only one of you gets an offer or you have two incompatible offers, etc. If someone needs to step back, who would do it? Whose career would be more affected by a lapse in work or publication during those years (thinking of the pub rate of men vs. women during the past year, Not Great Bob!)? Of course, all the options have to be weighed when they actually occur, but this is really really worth a series of conversations imagining some possibilities.

      From the evoking of multi-year post-docs I’m thinking you’re in the sciences, so maybe your field(s) have better prospects and greater choice than others. Good luck!

      1. Academic anecdotes*

        I am not a parent, but as an academic, have observed many who were. A few examples: A friend had a baby a month after qualifying exams. Another had a baby right before qualifying exams. A PhD pair had a baby when both were in the writing stage of their dissertations. Another pair had one early in the second year of their postdocs (so got pregnant in their first year). With the exception of the second example, all have reached their goals in their careers. The second student passed her quals but dropped out of the PhD program and got a Master’s, which may or may not have been a result of the baby, and I lost track of her. I’m sure she’s doing fine, even if her plans changed.

        The only thing I would say is that if you are in the sciences, and you do lab or field experiments, please consider this would affect your pregnancy and vice versa. For this reason, many I know chose to have kids when they were either done with their lab work, or could take a 9-month break.

    4. Blackcat*

      This is late so I don’t know if you’ll see this! But I had a baby in the spring of year 5 of grad school. I defended my dissertation when my son was almost exactly 1 year old, wrapping up in year 6. 80% of the dissertation was completed before I gave birth. In a lot of ways, that was ideal. I didn’t have a ton of work to do while my kid was an infant beyond teaching. I could write a a slow-ish pace. I would have easily finished in 5 years if I hadn’t been pregnant–I had HG and was hospitalized a few times, so my pregnancy was not a productive time. My advisor and lab mates were super supportive throughout the terrible pregnancy and stressful infancy stages, and I’m so glad I wasn’t starting fresh with new people during that time.

      My advice: Stay in grad school for a full year longer if possible and go for it…. sooner. Like now if you feel ready emotionally. For me–and for many folks!–grad school is more flexible than a post-doc. I was grateful to start my post-doc once my kid was sleeping better (he was an awful sleeper) and healthier (he was very ill as an infant, needed surgeries, etc).

      One thing I DO NOT recommend is going on the full proper job market ABD if you have a young baby. I did after being pushed by my advisor to apply for jobs “for practice.” I ended up with FOUR on campus, fly out interviews. And, you don’t turn down faculty interviews! But I had a sickly infant. It was… highly unpleasant. I became a pro at hauling breastmilk through airplanes, and, in some ways, I’m glad I had the litmus test of how they handled a job candidate needing pumping breaks. But it was brutally hard physically on both myself and my husband, and if I could go back and change anything, it would have been that. And I’m sure the practice did help me land my current job, but it wasn’t worth it. (Also not worth it to me: exclusively breastfeeding. The pressure to pump enough milk to have enough in the freezer to last for 4 day long trips + the hassle of hauling it all back… if my kid had gotten used to formula and we done combination feeding, I would have saved myself so much stress.) As it turns out, I got a post-doc with a colleague just by having a “Hey, I’m looking for a job” conversation. Easy peasy no stress.

      For the insurance gap, you can do COBRA if absolutely necessary to stay on your current plan.

      A final note–not everything will go according to plan. It took longer than I thought for me to get pregnant the first time, so the kid came later than I intended. Timing wise it actually worked out well, but it wasn’t the original timeline/plan. For subsequent pregnancies, I’ve gotten pregnant right away while trying, but never carried another pregnancy past 16 weeks (we’ve given up on a second for now). I’m still only 34, and I was in my 20s the first time around. It’s very easy to think you can plan these things… but often you can’t. And you don’t know if you’ll have HG and be incapacitated by pregnancy. Or have a kid with serious health needs. While I’m saying go for it, have a baby in grad school, I want to offer the disclaimer that the 2 years encompassing my pregnancy until I turned in my final dissertation were, in fact, the hardest and worst years of my life. Things got better quickly once my child’s health issues were under control, and I don’t have regrets beyond the job market stuff and the breastfeeding stuff. I love my son and I’m glad I had him when I did. But it was terribly, brutally hard. I was dealt a bad hand health wise on my front and his. Things could go better for you! They are likely to! But it will be hard, and there will be professional ramifications to deciding to have a kid. But, from everyone I talk to, the two best times in terms of career are in grad school or post tenure. Post tenure is a loooonnnnngggggg time to wait (I’ll be 39 by the time I’m awarded tenure). So grad school it was for me.

  48. Kali*

    My friend has recently gotten a new job! We’re in Britain. We met at uni (both molecular biology degrees), but I was a mature student and I’m ten years older than she is, with 10 years more experience working. But, that experience was all low level, customer-service work, which is very different to what she’s doing now. I think she worries too much about things, but I know I don’t actually know that much more than her about this level. Also, I was a terrible worker at her age (undiagnosed adhd plus sheer misery and hopelessness). So, I suggested asking here to get more of a perspective. She’s continuing on with lab-based molecular biology positions, still in the UK. She’s very shy, which is why she doesn’t just want to ask her employer or ask here directly herself.

    – her new position wanted her to start on the 4th of Jan, but her current job requires 4 weeks notice. Luckily, the new job was willing to start her on the 18th, but what she was worried about before that and what she’s been worried about in previous roles, is how strict notice periods are, and how strict working contracts are. My reading is, her employers *want* 4 weeks notice, but may be flexible if she lays the situation out. They won’t sue her or force her to come in – and nor would another job if she accepted than quit in the first week, which was her concern a few months ago when she had multiple interviews ongoing – but she might burn a bridge with them in terms of references or coming back to work there someday. Does that sound about right, or is there more for her to be concerned about? For extra context, that company did covid testing for a specific sports event, so I think the 4 weeks might have been intended more in case she wanted to leave during the tournament, so I suspect they’d be less bothered about it now that’s over.

    – her new job comes with private healthcare (BUPA). She’s concerned that her employers will know of anything she uses it for. I’m 99% sure doctors won’t share her medical details with her employers, but will they see details like, she had appointments at X clinic, or recieve itemised bills or anything? Private healthcare isn’t ubiquitous in the UK (because NHS), so I really have no idea how it works. Do her employers pay a flat amount whatever she does, or do they pay based on what treatments or appointment she has? I think it’s the former, but don’t actually know. And is it just doctor-patient confidentiality or DPA or is there a specific term for what medical professionals can and can’t share, like HIPAA in the US? She doesn’t particularly need healthcare right now, but if it’s available, it would be nice to full check up, have a load of therapy just in case she’s still got issues to work through, maybe get braces or have other non-essential treatment it would be harder to get on the NHS. Plus, obviously she doesn’t need to be unreasonably afraid of using it if she needs it.

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      1. The trouble is the particular time of year – two of her four weeks are the Christmas weeks which can’t realistically be used for recruitment to replace her. I’ve known companies absolutely stick to the letter of the contract on this kind of thing, and even get difficult about your taking pre booked time off, to protect the handover.

      2. I’m confident that BUPA can’t tell $Employer even that a particular person made a claim, let alone what for, although $Employer might get an anonymised report saying eg “n employees made claims totalling £x in the year to date” to explain calculations of their renewal and inform decision making.

      1. Kali*

        Oh, that’s a good point about Christmas. I’d almost forgotten it was different to other times of year! I suppose it’s lucky the new company were willing to push her start date back. She is still hoping to be able to finish a little early, to have a little break between roles, but the recruiting-over-Christmas issue might scupper that.

    2. Bobina*

      1. Notice periods are generally adhered to quite closely. They are in the contract you sign, and I would definitely say that 1 month really is the bare minimum thats expected in professional jobs (where that is excluding holidays). The flip side to this is that hiring companies are usually very much aware of this and arent fussed about waiting (where waiting starts after you have signed the new contract and confirmed that you have handed in your notice). Typically negotiating a start date isnt a big deal, you say you are available to start on X date and thats it.

      2. Your employer has no idea what you use from BUPA. All correspondence with BUPA comes directly to you as the recipient, and the process of using it is completely separate from your employer. As General von Klinkerhoffen said, the most that will go to the company is aggregated, anonymized information which would inform things like the rates the company pays.

    3. kiwiapple*

      I’ve never, ever known people who are leaving a job in the normal way (i.e. not fired/sacked or “managed out”) to give less than the notice period. Your contract states the notice period and the norm in the UK is to sign a contract.

      1. Jessi*

        Most UK contracts state that the company can deduct money to cover the costs of you skipping out early. They can also hold back your holiday pay (accrued unused annual leave that would usually be paid out when you leave) if you don’t give/ work your notice

      2. Kali*

        That’s interesting. Thinking back, over my own work history, I’ve never actually run into a situation where the start date of my next thing was insufficient for my notice period. So maybe that’s where I developed the idea that it’s not a big deal, because I was never in a situation where it would be.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Notice periods are pretty firm – you can sometimes negotiate a reduced period but normally you will be expected to work your notice- but they are *so* normal that a new employer will expect it- and an employer pushing you to start earlier would be a fairly big red flag.
      BUPA- no, they won’t disclose anything to the employer. Data Protection would stop it, and medical ethics.

  49. Document Transcription by Volunteers*

    Anyone with an organization that has volunteers transcribing documents? A local museum has asked our group to help them set-up a system for them to put letters online for volunteers to transcribe. Does anyone have experience with this that can let me know what websites or software was used and how they managed the documents and check-out process? I first heard of this on the Saturday threads so I’ll post a question tomorrow about the user end of the process.

    1. Grits McGee*

      How big is the museum? I have some potential contacts, but they are part of large national institutions, and may not be super helpful for a museum that has limited IT resources.

    2. Magnus Archivist*

      I’ve heard good things about the Scripto plugin for Omeka-S, but warning: you must be able to host and manage your own version of Omeka (can’t use it with the hosted version). So this is something the museum would need ot have the IT infrastructure for.

    3. All the cats 4 me*

      Zooniverse is perfect for this.

      I have helped with transcribing Nazi concentration camp prisoner records.

    4. Former Curator*

      It depends on how many things they want to transcribe and how many resources the institution has.

      Before I got laid off I had volunteers at my museum transcribe some old letters, and I was able to manage it by email and a spreadsheet. Caveat: this was a tiny museum, and I was only dealing with maybe 5-10 volunteers for this. If I recall correctly, my spreadsheet was set up with columns like: date – number of pages – letter writer – volunteer – date assigned – date completed – notes. I emailed my volunteers only a few letters at a time (more if they worked quickly), and made sure that they also had copies of the transcription guide. As soon as I sent them letters to transcribe I would fill out the spreadsheet saying which letter(s) I had assigned to which volunteer and the date. This wasn’t because there was a deadline, but I wanted to track how long it took people so I could check in and reassign letters if needed.

      To make sure everything was properly organized on our server, I told them to send the files to me when they were done – it could even be in the text of an email – and I would file them properly. I also taught a couple of the more tech-savvy volunteers how things were filed so they could give me a hand.

      If you need LOTS of things transcribed and a lot of volunteers this probably won’t be sustainable, but it worked pretty well for our small museum.

    5. Nynaeve*

      I’ve done transcription using FromThePage. It’s free for volunteers to sign up, but there is some cost for museums and archives to use it. (Probably not unreasonable, but IDK – I haven’t used that end.)

    6. Document Transcription by Volunteers*

      Thanks, this is very helpful. It’s a small museum in northern Vermont. I believe there are only 3,000 documents and there probably won’t be very many volunteers.

  50. Snowed In*

    Changing my username for this one b/c my situation is identifiable.
    We just had a snowstorm here in New England, and my area didn’t get hit too badly; normally I would be fine. However, I am currently in a wheelchair after surgery. I tried to get to the bus stop to go to work twice today (I don’t drive normally but due to the type of surgery I would be taking the bus right now even if I did drive most of the time) and both times ended up stuck in a snowbank watching the bus go by. (Wasn’t scheduled to work yesterday so it wasn’t a problem then.) I took different routes.
    I might be able to try another route to get to the bus, or I might be able to go kick the snow out of the way at the narrow points of my path. I have just enough sick time to cover being out today but can’t keep using it. Any suggestions for how to handle it if I can’t get to the bus stop next week? I’m not opposed to the occasional taxi but I can’t do it both ways every day. (Getting home from work may actually be worse; I haven’t BEEN there since the snowstorm so I don’t know for sure. If it does look bad whenever I do get there, I’ll take a taxi home.) This shouldn’t be a problem for TOO long because I’ll probably be on crutches in another couple of weeks, assuming my insurance ever bothers to get it together and cover them.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I am assuming that remote work isn’t an option? And when I say that, I mean in that there is no way that you can reasonably do your work from home, not just the company typically doesn’t do it? Because it sounds to me like you might qualify for a reasonable accommodation in this case.

      1. Snowed In*

        They are VERY resistant to remote work, claiming that you have to be at the office to do the job. They’re wrong, but I’m not sure if I could talk them into dealing with all the tech stuff, etc. for something that should only be a problem for another week or two.

        1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

          OF COURSE THEY ARE.

          If the technology were already in place and it was just them being obstinate, I’d say file the RA. But it sounds like it’s not and by the time they could get it, it’s a moot point.

          I do think timely snow and ice removal is going to be an issue this winter, more so than usual. With many people working from home and/or in reduced schedules, and schools having the ability to shift to remote learning on days with bad weather, there is far less urgency for efficient snow removal. Not to mention, cars driving on roadways speed up the melting process on the roads, so less cars = more snow/ice for longer periods of time.

          1. Snowed In*

            Yeah I asked about remote work when I interviewed, because of COVID, and they were like no… you have to come in so you can talk to people… It’s an admin desk job. I could absolutely do it over email if someone brought me my laptop and set it up so I could access the shared drives from home. But knowing how these things always go, that would take like a week, plus we’re probably gonna be off for a few days next week anyway, so…
            In good news, this is finally kicking me into action re: buying the crutches and just accepting that I’ll have to dip into my savings if insurance decides to be terrible about it. (Due to other issues I have to get special crutches that are $$$.)

            1. Pond*

              Can you look into local healthcare/disability assistance groups? They might be able to help with wheelchairs, crutches, and other relevant things. I can’t think of the name right now but in my hometown there’s a group that loans such objects to people who need them for free. Even if they don’t have what you need specifically they may know how to help you get the crutches you need at lower cost.
              I wish I could remember the name! Maybe if you can give more specifics of your location (greater Boston? NYC? suburb of other city?) someone can point you to resources in your location?

    2. Llellayena*

      Does your area have disability transport you can sign up for temporarily? Or do the local disability services offer snow shoveling/clearing that could clear enough of a path for you? If there’s a specific spot that’s bad, you could appeal to the property owner or offer to hire a student to clear the walk. I swear that required disability access goes completely out the window in winter. Plows pile snow right on top of the curb cuts, clearing and de-icing of walkways is sporadic, bus stops are afterthoughts in snow clearing. There was a bus stop in front of my parents’ house and every year when we cleared the walk we also shoveled access to the bus stop, because the town/state NEVER bothered to make sure the bus stops were clear. There are places in my town where I need to walk in the street because the town never clears the sidewalks (in front of clearly stated town property). I’m not disabled but it’s not exactly safe to be walking in the icy street…

          1. PollyQ*

            They’re not the only city that offers this kind of service. Google “disability transportation assistance” [your city] and something helpful may pop up.

      1. Snowed In*

        Luckily, since I’m already disabled on top of the foot surgery, I have a ton of connections to the disability community and thus I have full knowledge of the fact that the disability transport SUCKS. They do not get you places on time. I’m not sure who the person to talk to about a local disability service to clean the sidewalks would be… Calling the business that’s presumably in charge of shoveling had occurred to me but I’m not sure who the section of sidewalk that’s really bothering me “belongs to”. And yeah, the bus stop to get home is like you mention–it’s just a sign on a phone pole by the side of the road. I suspect the plows have heaped up snow in front of it, totally blocking access, BUT my boss did say he’d fix it? He said they might have someone shovel it for me. So right now getting to work in the first place is the bigger concern.
        I’ll probably just be cranky and refuse help and go out and try to kick the snow out of the way or something. There may also be another possible alternate route, and I’ll try it tomorrow, but tbh I am tired and cranky and don’t want to deal with it right now. So I used my sick time. I figure getting stuck in two separate snow banks justifies it even if there MAY be an alternate route.
        And yeah, snow is such a problem with disability stuff. We actually had to do some advocacy about how the snow removal was handled at my old college.

      2. Lyudie*

        I was going to suggest this. Our local bus system has vans with ramps that you can arrange to use to get to major bus stops and the airport and such. It might be worth looking into.

    3. OtterB*

      Are you part of any neighborhood online groups? My neighborhood Facebook group had several parents post that their high school kids were looking for snow shoveling jobs, and I bet if I asked on there if any kids could volunteer to clear the bus stop at the corner of X and Y so a wheelchair could get to the bus, there would be a small party out taking care of it.

    4. Juneybug*

      Ugh, I am so sorry you are going through this.
      Could you approach your HR about reasonable accommodations, such as laptop to work at home, different start/end times due to bus schedules, etc.?

  51. Recruiters Question*

    I’m considering job searching and looking at multiple roles I have transferable skills for. One is recruiting. However, part of the reason I’m looking for a change is because I’m in zoom meetings all day with a packed schedule and want to move away from that. I know recruiting involves phone calls, but how often are you on the phone? And are you scheduling months out or just that same week? Thanks!

  52. Queen Anon*

    I’ve been thinking recently about not gifting up in the office and wondering when that became a thing. I’ve been in the workforce for almost 40 years and while I have worked in offices where the bosses didn’t receive gifts from their employees, I’ve worked in more office where it was expected.

    I wonder if depends on the profession? I’ve spend more than half my career in the legal field in various admin/support roles and in most of the firms I’ve worked in, it’s very much expected that the employees will give their bosses gifts at Christmas and on Bosses’ Day (though those were more often breakfast buffets to which each employee was expected to contribute goods or money). On thinking back, I’ve realized that it was usually the office manager/office administrator that expected us to do these things – I’m not sure it came from the actual attorneys themselves. At my current job, which is great place to work, we still are expected to contribute to gift cards to our supervisor on those two occasions. The admin who coordinates it is always careful to say in her emails that it’s voluntary but I think we all feel pressured anyway, especially because we generally manage to get gift cards worth a couple hundred dollars.

    The other types of offices where I’ve found that gifting up is expected is in small, family-owned businesses where the husband is the boss, the wife is the office manager, and she tells the employees what they’re buying for him that year. (I was in the position one time to put a stop to that. Not sorry about it! The boss brought home 6-7 figures every year and the employees made $9-12/hour. He could buy his own fancy office chair.)

    Is my experience odd or normal from your point of view? (At this point in my career and at this particular job, I’m not all that interested in putting a stop to it but I agree that gifting up really shouldn’t be a thing at any job,)

    1. Hamburgler*

      Most jobs I’ve worked have had the horrible “gifting up” thing. Small, mid-size, large: it was common. Construction industry, engineering, homebuilders, shipping, even a call center. The two places that didn’t were an online company and (back in the day) food service.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I find that odd (but am not US).

      In all the firms I’ve worked in, support staff would only get their direct boss a token gift if anything (eg chocolates, bottle of wine) and downward gifts were perhaps more generous but still under the equivalent of $50, and only a dead cert with the very senior fee earners.

      It was far more common to have an opt in Secret Santa with a low budget (say $10-15) because although the partners were on mega bucks, there were trainees straight out of grad school on much lower salaries and higher personal debt. It would not be uncommon for a new trainee to have lower discretionary funds available than their secretary.

      At my current firm there is absolutely zero gifting up, and gifting down is personalised with laser-guided accuracy. But this is the smallest firm I’ve worked for.

    3. Bagpuss*

      It seems weird to me (UK Lawyer)

      My experience has been:

      Secret Santa – low value, (genuinely) voluntary, gifts may go up or down or sideways, depending on who you draw.

      May be gifts flowing down, but tends to be down to the individual, and normally fairly low value

      Collection for a gift when someone leaves or has a baby, and sometimes for a landmark birthday. Generally organised by their coworkers and with and envelope passing round so you can contribute as little or as much as you like.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This has been my experience, and I’m in the U.S. Gifting up has never been a thing in any place I’ve ever worked, and I’ve been in the law, insurance, transit, and software industries.

  53. BusyBee*

    Hey guys! I wrote in last week looking for advice on whether or not I should talked to my boss about my dissatisfaction with my job, or whether job hunting was my only option. Thank you so much to the folks that commented, I really appreciated your perspective and advice.

    Wanted to give a quick update: I decided to speak with my boss and she was super receptive and immediately was open to transferring me to a related role. However, when she discussed with her boss, he was not at all pleased. I ended up having a meeting with him, and while he’s not thrilled, he’s willing to entertain some options in the new year. Most of his objections were related to timing, saying that I should have said something earlier and not allowed them to promote me to this new role if I wan’t happy. I suppose that’s true and told him that, though I didn’t realize there was an opportunity to do that.

    Overall it was tense and anxiety inducing, and my big boss is still not happy with me, but we’re moving in a direction that I want, so I guess that’s good?

      1. BusyBee*

        That’s what I keep reminding myself! Can’t just opt out of doing uncomfortable things now and then, especially if it will change things for the better.

  54. Communications Issues*

    Hoping someone can help with this – I’m having trouble with communication issues surrounding a program that my organization will be implementing next year but isn’t official yet. A vocal contingent of the people we serve have expressed frustration that my organization hasn’t said more about how the process is going, but there is very little the organization can say because certain contracts are still being negotiated. I’m sympathetic to the people who feel like it’s not transparent, but I don’t think the people on the other side of the table would appreciate us saying “No news yet because XYZ Inc is playing hardball on the escrow reserve, but we’re hoping to make an announcement soon!” I would appreciate any tips on how to communicate that the work is in process when you can’t go into details.

    1. Observer*

      Well, you could tell people that you are still in the midst of negotiating important but very technical details so you can’t really get to the the implementation details.

      1. Communications Issues*

        Unfortunately, that’s what we’ve been saying; the concerned parties are worried that’s code for blowing the issue off.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          I would be concerned because at least one member of this community should probably be involved in designing and implementing this program and they should be a conduit back to that community, with authority to say things like “We’ve found a building, but we’re having some troubles with the lease” or “we’re currently hiring staff” or whatever the party line might be…

          Also, can you put a member of that community under an NDA? That way a representative of the community has some visibility into the project and can say things like, “I can’t talk about the sensitive aspects, but we’re sixty percent of the way there.”

          1. Reba*

            This is a good suggestion, if it could be implemented! having a stakeholder from the community more closely involved would give these communications more legitimacy.

  55. Hotdog not dog*

    Any good time management strategies that have worked for you? I’m struggling with an objectively massive workload trying to provide support to five…yes FIVE high maintenance sales execs. They each run their business differently, communicate differently, and have their own expectations beyond what the company wants me to do for them. I’m required to use our firm’s contact management software for tracking, but it’s not a great system. Add to that the challenges of WFH, and I’m simply not keeping up. My manager has acknowledged that it’s not likely to improve, if anything I can expect things to get busier! I’m generally good with time management and am getting a ton of work done, but I need to figure out how to squeeze in two tons. Ideas?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Their manager needs to tell them what they can and cannot ask of you. Don’t do anything that is not required of you.

      If you are at max capacity now then your manager needs to get a plan for what to do when things “pick up”.
      I think I would start saying, “I can’t do more than what I am doing now. We will need a second person if things pick up.”

  56. Amber Rose*

    After today I am on vacation. I won’t be back in the office until the new year.

    I have a confession to make.

    I don’t actually have the PTO for this. Some of the days I took off earlier this year didn’t get logged, leaving me with an extra few days I’m not actually entitled to. Nobody has noticed and I’m not saying anything. I had to work for 5 years to earn 3 weeks off and they have suddenly decided all new hires get 3 weeks right off the bat and 4 weeks after 3 years and I’m sulking.

    1. Handwashing Hero*

      I have done this. I feel no shame and have no regrets. It was for an equally stingy situation and no one found out or cared.

      Enjoy your time off!!

    2. Bostonian*

      Whaaaaat. I hope everybody who currently has 3+ years tenure automatically gets that 4 weeks? (It doesn’t take away the sting of not having it for the past 2 years, but I hope they’ve minimally given you the 4 weeks.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        We get the 4 weeks starting next year, since this was a new thing they decided a couple months ago. So it’s nice that in 2021 I’ll have that month, but still. I had to work for 5 YEARS at a bare minimum of PTO and only now they realize that was crappy. :<

    3. I need my time off*

      I don’t see any harm in this at all. If you were needed at work in this time frame, your boss would let you know. We are really too stingy with PTO. Not to mention some companies are very bad about contacting you or making you work on vacation…I’ve gotten to the point now that if I hear from my job on a day I took off, I pull it back from the system…not going to burn PTO unless I’m actually off. This has not quite trained my bosses, but I do have a lot of PTO to rollover this year, lol.

  57. Customer Service question*

    So we have had the privilege of sheltering in place since March. Both my husband and I have many risk factors.
    I am work from home for the foreseeable future. He is retired.
    Both of us have many years work experience in retail. I, an additional short stint in food service.
    About once a week we get a curbside pick up from a cafe- dinner- “bake at home.” (set menu- dinner, with sides)
    The food is always excellent. We tip really well. – average tab around $40 $15 dollar tip.
    We don’t usually get desert but this week we got bars. It was a generous portion for $12. Unfortunately they were inedible. wet gloopy top, crumbs for bottom.
    My impulse is write it off- don’t order again, lesson learned. Don’t order desert.
    Husband want to send a written complaint- “they would want to know”
    I am beside myself- there is an f-ing pandemic. Let it go!
    He insists. I walked away from the argument.
    Am I am right?
    Should I insist that he let it go? (by the way, I paid for the order)
    Should I just drop it and he will do what he wants to?

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Ugh, I’d probably let it go and not order it again. Maybe they were having an off day, maybe they just aren’t good normally. But unless there was an egregious flaw (and this really doesn’t sound it) and everything else is always great, I wouldn’t want to bother them.

      If you DO say something, please state you aren’t looking for compensation, just wanted to give some feedback on a menu item for them to do with what they will.

      1. irene adler*

        I like the providing feedback with no interest in compensation angle. Constructive feedback is useful.

        1. Dream Jobbed*

          Ditto. It’s okay to say they were not up to standard in a very nice way. May have just left them out too long, or new baker – things that can be fixed. But also let them know what you like, that they are not losing a customer, and you don’t want any freebies.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I order food and it is inedible, I’m definitely going to let the establishment I ordered from know.

    3. OtterB*

      I’m inclined to think that a polite complaint, not going ballistic, is reasonable enough. They can’t fix it if nobody tells them it’s a problem. But I’d also be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their food/service in general.

    4. Observer*

      Yes, it’s a pandemic. But if people are paying then it should be something worth paying for.

      Sure, don’t ask for compensation but if it’s so bad you would never order it again, it’s perfectly reasonable to let them know. Politely – and preferably in email which can be easier to deal with and can also be dealt with at a time which is the most convenient to the place.

    5. Maggie*

      I dont really think either thing is out of line provided he lets them know in a polite way. I do think they would want to know because restaurants are struggling so badly right now, I’m sure they don’t want to be turning off any customers. Personally I would let it go, my husband would probably tell them. Haha funny how that works. We both have worked retail and food service.

    6. Weekend Please*

      It depends on what you mean by “inedible.” If it really something you cannot eat because it is undercooked/burnt/nauseating then you should tell them that. If it is simply unappetizing (I’m picturing pie filling on graham cracker crumbs) or got somewhat damaged in transit I would just not order it again.

    7. K*

      I’d want to know that the product was bad, and I’d love to hear it from a kind and respectful patron like you rather than the screaming awful patron who’s demanding their money back.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        And you’d certainly want to know if a menu item put customers off ordering with you again!

        We fed back a “dude, this dessert was weird” comment once and had some good conversation with the manager about it. Ultimately she couldn’t change it and we didn’t order it again, but she was able to pass the feedback up to head office.

    8. PollyQ*

      I don’t think there’s a right or a wrong here. It’s fine to let it go, and it would also be fine (and IMO a kindness to the company) to give them the feedback, as long as it’s politely delivered.

    9. ELM*

      I run a food business and if a customer found fault with something we cook, I would want to know, so I can put it right. It doesn’t have to be an argument – just tell the place you weren’t happy with X, for YZ reasons, and you’re letting them know because you like their place and want them to have the feedback.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding, if this is anything that has the potential for food poisoning, then you really should tell them.

        I have to wonder if your husband is feeling protective of you and your endeavors. You spent that money on the two of you and there was a problem. So he is interested in making it right.

        There were times like this when my husband was alive that I thought, yep, we are two very different people. My solution was, “Okay, it’s your baby, you’re in charge of this one.” And I backed away from the whole thing.

        I have done my share of food service stuff. It jumped at me that the food was not right and probably should not be eaten because of safety concerns. So I tend to lean toward your husband’s reaction. But I can also understand not wanting to die on every. single. molehill. Let him take it and run with it. Don’t watch.

    10. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I can’t imagine why it would be a problem to politely let them know that the thing you ordered was not good. It doesn’t have to be an angry complaint, and it doesn’t do them any favours to not know that their customers didn’t like a product.

  58. Jaid*

    I was the only one in the building this morning, so I played the video of that dude stuck at the airport, belting out to Celine Dion’s “All By Myself”.

    Pretty much everyone else in my unit will either be WFH or on vacation next week, so I’ll have more mornings like this. Fortunately, the Fed has the 24th off, so there’s only three days next week for me.

    1. Campfire Raccoon*

      I love this! Once I was all alone at the office/shop for a few days. The warehouse was this big 5000 sq ft acoustically correct soundbox. Perfect for some off-key Adele.

      I wonder what the neighbors thought.

    2. Amber Rose*

      I love that video so much. I’m basically alone in my office so I’ve been playing music on my phone instead of using headphones. It’s nice.

  59. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

    I was channeling my inner, #humourlesshrbitch yesterday.

    December 2019: no formal telework policy in place, everyone stressing out about a major nor’easter and having to choose between trying to come into work or charge their time. Everyone relieved when closures are announced and they no longer need to make this choice. Some lament that it’s 2019 and why can’t we have telework for these types of scenarios so people don’t need to stress out about it?

    December 16, 2020: Everyone relieved there is formal telework for most office/white collar positions, relieved they don’t have to worry about trying to drive in for a bad storm and can plan to work from home.

    December 17, 2020: Because formal telework is the new normal because Pandemic, there’s a Pandemic Plowing Schedule and it just seemed ridiculous to open offices because people can work from home (and the majority of those who can’t are essential workers that don’t get snow days anyway). Offices close. People salty that they are expected to telework instead of getting a free day off.

    -_-

    1. Ali G*

      Lol – I was wondering why, the Fed Government (I’m in the DC area) even announced a 2-hour delay this week (without any mention of WFH). Do all the non-essential people also get a 2-hour delay? Can’t they just start working from home at any time?
      We are supposed to follow OPM’s schedule, but we’ve all been WFH for so long no one mentioned it!

      1. Jaid*

        Philly, here. We opened at 10 yesterday. I start work at 6. It just wasn’t worth it for me to come in for four hours, plus driving on bad roads and public transportation that only runs once an hour….

  60. Damn it, Hardison!*

    It’s my last day at my current job! Whatever isn’t done by 5:00 is no longer my problem. I have 2 weeks off before I start my new job, which comes with a 25% raise, a lot of stock, and a title bump (for essentially doing the same work I’m doing now). I followed so much advice here about interviewing and negotiating, and it all paid off! They actually gave me everything I asked for, even though my salary request was “at the high end” and I wanted to give 2 months notice at my current job (basically so I could get my year end bonus). I’m excited and just a little nervous.

  61. Almost Academic*

    Just wanted to pop in and say thank you to all of the commenters that wrote words of encouragement to me a few open threads ago after I failed my comps. It was really helpful to hear all of your stories of people who pulled themselves together and went forward. I worked really hard, resubmitted with the edits and rewrites my program required, and just found out I was successfully admitted to candidacy! I was feeling really low when I wrote in, so thank you AAM community for helping me to get over the shame and just get it done.

    1. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Congratulations to you for a job well done!
      I can’t remember from your first post, but do you want to work with students someday? If so, this may be a valuable story someday. I think a lot of students see all these “successful” people all around them and think it was easy or natural or those professors have just always been good at their subject. They rarely hear stories about second chances or overcoming failure.

      1. Almost Academic*

        You are so right! I think in academia especially there is this strange duality of normalizing and stigmatizing failure. I hope to be able to help students learn from my experience someday, and think it is so important to acknowledge that we are not all on perfect, linear paths.

    2. nep*

      Oh, well done! Bravo for moving through that and putting the work in to make it happen. That is fantastic.

  62. Britta*

    Any advice for asking for a favor in a thank-you note? I had a really great informational interview yesterday, and he told me to email him the next day to ask for examples of work samples. I was thinking I’d do it while also thanking him again in an email, but then I thought that maybe that would make the thank-you seem insincere.